Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 2.19

Posted by harmony0stars on June 10, 2011

“My lord,” a young man appeared from the nearby doorway. “A traveler has arrived with possible news.

Gwythyr leapt from his perch but paused and looked indecisive. “Would you accompany me?” he asked, holding out his hand to her. “You have a way of discerning things others do not. Perhaps with you by my side, I can finally track Aonghas and his allies to their camp.”

It did not escape her notice that he avoided mention of his brother, not that she blamed him. Despite the fact that that she hadn’t seen her sister in over a year, Glory felt her twin’s shadow looming over her like a hungry vulture, especially as it seemed they were competing for the same prize. She hoped she wasn’t on a wild goose chase. Even if she did find the last piece of the Black Seal, she’d still have to track her sister down for the rest of it, and she hadn’t had much success with that before.

She accompanied Gwythyr back through the Keep, wishing she hadn’t given him her hand. He seemed reluctant to relinquish it. They entered a long hall where she supposed the servants or lesser nobles ate. It was a very plain room. The only thing in the room beyond a long table and many chairs was an immense fire place.

The sallow faced man sat with a goblet resting at his elbow and a sour expression on his face. His companion was most certainly a knight and looked none too pleased to be babysitting. Glory took an instant dislike to his charge, especially as the man turned and gave them a measuring look. His eyes lingered long enough on her body that she wished she‘d stayed in her baggy sweatshirt and jeans, rather than change into silvery-gray velvet dress.

His finery was ill-fitting, just a tad too large for him perhaps. From the tears and mud stains on his clothes, he‘d clearly been through some trouble. His beady black eyes glittered as he watched them approach. “You must be Gwythyr,” he said without rising.

“That is Lord or Prince Gwythyr to you, and stand and bow when you address a noble,” barked the knight who had risen at their approach. He bowed deeply to Gwythyr, casting a curious glance at Glory before staring daggers at the smaller man.

The man sighed and dragged himself to his feet as if it pained him, though aside from his ruined clothes, he didn’t seem to be injured in any way. “I am sorry Lord Gwythyr,” he said in a surly tone which he took efforts to suppress. He bowed, if it could be called that; it was barely a nod of his head. “Forgive my lack of manners. As you can see, I have only barely escaped certain death. May I please be seated?”

Looking a little annoyed with the man’s delivery, Gwythyr nodded. “Yes, of course. I was told you have word of Prince Aonghas and his companion?”

The man eased himself back into his seat. He looked everywhere but at Gwythyr. “Aye. I am Brychan ap Arwel. We were journeying to Rhaonastil with our wares, my uncle and I, when we were set upon by the brigands. I had been apprenticed to my uncle for many a year, but now I fear he will be nothing more than a feast for the Fomorian’s demented ally.”

Gwythyr scowled. “And their location?”

“Two day’s walk to the west and south before the Queen’s patrol found me and brought me hence. They were camped between two small hills where a stream runs past, and there’s a low ridge lying somewhat to the north.” He glanced up as if to gauge the response of his audience before glancing at Glory, letting his gaze rest on her chest a moment before slowly moving down to look at the ground once more. She‘d never been self-conscious about her looks, but the man made her want to duck behind Gwythyr. “I barely escaped with my life, my lord. I was only lucky the brigands were content with one deer, rather than two. I was to be turned and let loose for a hunt the following morning, but I escaped in the night.”

Gwythyr bowed his head, deep in thought, then turned away. “Sir Cathal will see to it that your needs are met.”

“My lord!” Brychan protested, and then winced at the look Gwythyr gave him when he turned back. “I- I was given to understand there was a reward for information, and I have lost kin and livelihood both.”

With barely a glance at the man, Gwythyr tossed his whole purse on the table. Glory followed him out into the hall, though he didn’t seem to notice her presence.

“Gwythyr?” she said softly as she trailed after him. “Gwythyr, you don‘t believe him, do you?”

He froze in place to look at her in surprise. “Why should I not?”

“He wouldn’t look at you as he told his story, and he wasn’t really injured aside from ruined clothes.”

Gwythyr shook his head. “I do not know how men treat their lords in your country, but it would have been rude for him to meet my eyes. And every effort would have been made to take him uninjured if he was meant to be hunted the following day.”

“Well, he didn’t seem to be very upset about his uncle’s death. And he can‘t be from the island, can he? Not with a name like that.”

“He is a bit old to still be apprenticed, but perhaps his uncle was reluctant to release him and lose a free hand. Such has been known to happen before, and he wouldn’t be the first to attempt to benefit from the death of a overbearing relative.” Gwythyr looked thoughtful a moment, before shaking his head decisively. “It might have been his uncle who brought him here from the mainland. He may use his windfall to return there.”

“But…”

“Nay, this is the best information I have received since coming to my aunt’s kingdom. I will ask Sir Euan for some men and seek Prince Aonghas and… Neirin. He must be found. His actions are obscene, and has stolen my father’s rightful property.” He took her hand and hurriedly kissed her fingers. “It is sweet of you worry about my safety, but I must bring Neirin to justice. He has committed unpardonable crimes. Can you find your way back to your rooms?”

“Yes, but…” she started to say, but he cut her off again.

He put a hand on her shoulder before turning away. “Good. I must prepare.”

She stood in the hall for several minutes before walking in the opposite direction, confused and slightly insulted. He’d said he wanted her opinion, but then dismissed her concerns completely. She was almost certain the merchant was up to something, but convincing Gwythyr of that seemed impossible.

to Book 7, part 2, page 20

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4 Responses to “Tattoo Book 7 part 2.19”

  1. Fiona said

    I don’t understand the bit about his name?

    • Oh sorry, it’s a Welsh name. ap means (son) of, so if he were a native of the island, it being a Scottish/Irish island (not near to Wales), his name would be Mac- or O- Arwel, not ap. Which means Gwythyr is being particularly obtuse, if you ask me.

      I have a fascination for names and their linguistics. I tend to forget it’s my own private little hobby. lol

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