Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 2.23

Posted by harmony0stars on June 25, 2011

The trip out from the city was uneventful and tedious, though the alternative was not to be preferred. The party took a more direct road out of Rhaonastil than they had bringing Glory and her friends in, and they reached the outskirts of the walled kingdom by midmorning. Up until then, the knights had made small talk with one another, but they knew their business. In the wilds beyond Rhaonastil, they were silent and watchful. Glory had to admit that maybe she had jumped the gun a bit in worrying Gwythyr would run head first into a trap if it meant getting a chance at Neirin.

They made camp at dusk. Sir Euan took security very seriously with two guards walking the perimeter at all times. Either there were a lot of highwaymen outside the walls of Rhaonastil, or he had taken the Queen’s warning seriously. Glory lay in her bed roll through the night and pretended to be asleep. Letting everyone know she didn’t sleep would have been more trouble explaining that she wanted to deal with.

The glade where the merchant’s caravan had been attacked was picked clean in more ways than one, either by the robbers or passersby. Glory hoped that the Queen was right about Aonghas’ men taking the useless harp. Otherwise, she’d have to go looking all over the island for it, and just from the way the Queen had spoken of other kingdoms, Glory had a feeling the island of Tír na nÓg was rather larger than its earthly counterpart.

There was not much left. A few charred bits of wood lay by the road where a cart or something had burned, though by the small amount of ashes, whatever wood had not been eaten up by the fire had been scavenged for firewood by travelers or the marauders themselves. There was a butchered body of a horse, most of the meat likely taken by the robbers and the rest left to rot or be scavenged by predators. A huge swarm of flies rose up from the carcass as they trotted their horses into the campsite, and the stench of rotting meat was sickly and overwhelming.

Glory followed Sir Euan’s gaze to the high grasses to the right and saw more bones sticking out from the grass. These were not the bones of a horse. Only the fact that their mounts were battle-trained kept the knights in the clearing. The flicking of their ears and their rolling eyes were a clear indication of that. Sir Euan turned his horse and trotted back towards Glory and Maria, barring them from closer examination.

“It would perhaps be better if you ladies retired to the shade of yonder trees,” he gestured to a stand of trees several yards upwind of the site. “I will have one of the men keep you company there with the horses while we examine the site. This many days after the attack, there cannot be much for us to find.”

Maria opened her mouth to protest, but Jack cut her off. “I’ll watch over them. No sense taking one of your men away from business with which he’s already familiar. I believe Mike and Trevor will be more useful to you than myself anyway. They have some experience with investigating crimes such as this. My area is more courtly intrigue than travesties such as this.”

Sir Euan gave Jack a grateful nod and dismounted. His men followed suit, and Jack also dismounted, taking the reins of the horses. Maria’s face was thunderous, but she held her tongue until they reached the trees.

“You are such a liar, uncle.” Maria began to slide down from her horse, but Jack was already remounting his horse, tying the rest to the tree..

He made a face at Maria before replying. “We are not crime scene investigators, my dear. When necessary, we have forensics teams for that. I doubt we could discover anything more from the remains that our new friends cannot.”

“And this has nothing to do with your enhanced sense of smell,” she retorted, looking uncomfortable in her saddle. She clearly wanted to get down, but the fact that Jack had climbed back into the saddle seemed to have confused her.

Jack lowered his head slightly, acknowledging her sniping. “I will admit that I am glad to be upwind of the place. The men who did this are fiends. But it was Trevor who suggest I volunteer for babysitting service.” He scanned the trees behind Maria, but the only sound was the sighing of the wind and the odd bird call.

“Trevor did?“ Maria asked, sounding anxious. Jack only nodded.

Glory brushed the mare’s neck to calm her though just being away from the carnage seemed to be helping. “It amazes me how much they’re willing to accede to Neirin’s urges. I don’t like Aonghas, but he didn’t strike me as a cannibal, a conniving, egotistical bastard, yes, a Hannibal-Lecter-like psycho, not at all. I know the Fomorians are given to replacing limbs lost in battle with animal parts, but this goes way beyond that. I can only imagine Neirin has promised them something they want very badly.”

After several minutes, their attention was drawn to the activity of the knights as they examined the site. Half the men went into the trees while their counterparts combed through the high grasses. From the way the men spread out, stooping and dragging… things, it was obvious that there was more than one body hidden in the weeds. The knights who had gone into the trees brought a steady stream of heavy stones, and a cairn was slowly built over the remains of the murdered travelers.

A shout from the trees caused everyone to freeze in place and turn towards the noise. One of Sir Euan’s knights staggered from the trees and fell to his knees with an arrow in his back. More shouts, and Fomorians boiled out form the trees, chasing the knights into the clearing. Far from the campsite the dubious merchant had described, it seemed the ambush site was the ambush site. Maybe Neirin had even counted on Sir Euan stopping to attend to the bodies. Before Glory could urge her horse to the battle, Jack slapped its backside and sent her galloping in the opposite direction. Maria and Jack were close behind.

to Book 7, part 2, page 24

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Tattoo Book 7 part 2.23”

  1. Emote Control said

    “it seemed the ambush site was the ambush site”? I think that must be a typo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: