Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 2.21

Posted by harmony0stars on June 18, 2011

“So… you’ll give me this key?” Glory asked in a hopeful voice. Somehow though, the Queen’s little story smacked of a set up.

“I am afraid it is not that simple,” the Queen replied.

Glory sighed. “It never is.”

The Queen gave her a mirthless smile. “A simple quest is hardly worth the ballad,” she said, quoting some maxim Glory had never heard and was less interested in.

“I could live with that. You have no idea.” Glory pulled herself up from her slouch, not wanting the Queen to think she was ill-mannered or ungrateful. “So how do I get this key?”

Nodding to herself, the Queen continued her story. “The Kings and Queens of Tír na nÓg have long passed the key from kingdom to kingdom. There has been a long standing belief that the key brings misfortune wherever it goes, and so it was our custom for each of us only to suffer a year in its service. I have never seen this to be true, but then no ruler has ever been required to hold it longer than a year.” She paused as if considering how best to tell her story. “Several months ago, King Niamh sent the key to me as part of a trade convoy, which was unfortunately attacked by bandits. We have since been unable to recover it or even run the brigands to ground, though it is doubtful they know what they have taken.”

Glory stared at the Queen incredulously. “Let me guess… Neirin and Aonghas.”

“Just so,” the Queen nodded. “They have become quite bothersome to me. Indeed, though I have no evidence, I can only conclude that one or more of my neighbors has been hiding them from my men.”

“So it’s to my benefit if I accompany Gwythyr on his quest.” She felt as if she’d been manipulated, though she still would have gone after the key no matter who had taken possession of it.

The Queen smiled again. “Perhaps with your assistance, Gwythyr will finally run his enemies to ground and rid my kingdom of this pest. He has claimed that you are lucky.”

Glory chuckled. “Luck would certainly explain why I‘ve survived this long. Though I couldn’t say if it’s good or bad. So what does this key look like if it doesn’t look enough like a key to be recognized as one?”

“It helps that we have taken pains to keep the true nature of the key a secret. It is a plain wooden harp of ancient design, what was called a kinnor by the ancient tribes or a lyre in later times. The base is flat with two curved arms of unequal length joined by a crossbar, but where you would think to see ten strings, there are none.”

Glory grimaced. “If it’s so plain and obviously incomplete, how do we know they still have it? They could have thrown it away or used it for kindling!”

Shaking her head, the Queen said, “If they considered it utterly without worth, they would hardly have bothered to carry it away at all, and it is an enchanted item. No fire would touch it. Nay, they likely know it has an aura of magic, but they will not be able to discern its function unless some ruler has betrayed our sacred trust completely.” She glanced at the window which had grown dark. “But it is grown late, and Gwythyr will make an early start of it. Perhaps it would be best if you went to your rest. I will have a servant wake you and your companions in the morning.”

“Oh… Please, one more thing?” Glory said, rising to her feet. “The way we came is sealed. Is there another way for us to get home?”

“I do not think you will have any difficulty there if Gwythyr is able to defeat his brother. Once he has retrieved the key to Caer Wydr, there should be no difficulty in sending you and your retainers home.”

Glory thanked the Queen who summoned a servant to lead her back to the rooms she shared with Maria, rooms which were conspicuously empty when she arrived. Dismissing the servant with the excuse that she did not want to keep her from her bed, Glory waited for her footsteps to fade before taking the candle the girl had lit and stealing back out into the corridor. She knocked on the door to the suite the guys had been given and waited for the door to open.

A few seconds later, Mike answered, looking sleepy. “I don’t suppose Maria is in there?” she asked as Trevor joined him at the door.

Trevor blinked and for a moment looked as if he might cry before his expression hardened. He shook his head. Mike stepped back as she pushed lightly on the door.

“Jack here at least?”

“Yes?” He poked his head in from an adjoining room. Either he’d been listening in or he’d heard her knock.

“Maria’s not with you, is she?”

“Fraid not, precious.” He smiled at her scowl. “She’s a big girl. I’m sure she can take care of herself.”

“I don’t care if she can take care of herself. I care that she might offend someone. The ancient Celts and Fae tended to be really touchy about sexual misconduct.” Glory stomped her foot, her scowl deepening as Jack cackled. “Besides, we’ll have an early start tomorrow. Just wanted you to know. We’re going with Gwythyr on his quest to track down his brother… Who likes to turn people into deer, then hunt them down, and eat them.”

“Uh…. Can I ask why?” Mike asked.

“One, if Gwythyr can track down his brother, he has a talisman that will get us home, and two they have something I need to finish my quest.” She gave them the short version of events from when she’d first met Gwythyr, glossing over or leaving out any events that made her look heroic.

“That’s just… sick,” Trevor muttered when Glory came to how Neirin had killed and eaten his mother.

“Puts my brother to shame,” Jack said in an awed voice.

“Who the hell is your brother?” Glory asked irritably.

“You know him better as Jack the Ripper,” he replied with some dignity. “Stole my good name for his little romp and made mother cry. Though he at least never touched a hair on her head.”

to Book 7, part 2, page 22


2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 7 part 2.21”

  1. Fiona said

    It’s harder to adjust for the new Tattoo schedule than I thought it would be,…before it seemed like there was always a new one to read and now it’s like forever between them…not to guilt you or anything…Just saying!

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