Tattoo Book 7 part 2.26
Posted by harmony0stars on July 5, 2011
“Let’s get them,” Maria whispered, and Neirin’s head turned like shot.
There was no time for recriminations as Neirin called the Fomorians’ attention to the woods. Jack hissed, “Scatter!” and they ran in three different directions.
Glory lost track of both of her companions quickly in the dark. She circled round the camp, climbing one of the hills which sandwiched the camp. It was exactly as Brychan had described it. If it hadn’t been obvious that the ambush had been intended from the very beginning, she would have shaken her head at his lack of imagination.
There was a whoop from the darkness as one of her companions was run down in the dark. As the men returned to the camp, she honestly wasn’t surprised to see Maria. If by some miracle they all managed to survive and find their way home, Glory might strangle the little woman. Though it had seemed at first that Maria was Jack’s keeper, that might just have been a game they were playing for her benefit back in Scotland. Despite his behavior, Jack was turning out to be the more sensible and responsible of the pair. Glory could even say, given a choice between the two, that she liked Jack more than Maria. He might be a skeevy creeper, but he wasn’t stupid. Unlike Maria, it seemed.
Maria was far from willing as she was brought into the camp. It took three men to drag her into the firelight, and they still didn’t get far until they picked her up bodily and carried her into the camp. As they set her feet back on the ground, she bit one of the men, winning an uncharacteristic guffaw from Neirin. The Fomorians didn’t look any happier for hearing it, least of all the man that Maria had bitten.
“Well you have no claim on this one,” Neirin said gleefully. Maria glared at him as he walked around her and the two men who held her in place.
“Still, we should question her before you do anything hasty,” Aonghas said quickly, his voice unhappy and anxious. “She’s obviously from the Otherworld. Perhaps she’d be more forthcoming than the two men about the weapons we took from them.”
“I am not a fool, Aonghas.” Neirin reached out to tilt Maria’s face towards the firelight, and she snapped at him for his pains. His teeth glinted as his smile widened, which was enough to make anyone’s skin crawl. The men nearest him looked terrified. “Take her to my tent. I think I should like to question her myself. This influx of Otherworlders is troubling to my future reign.”
Aonghas nodded to his men. Rope was quickly brought, and Maria was tied up before being carried off to Neirin’s tent. “Double the guard,” he said to one of his men. “Who knows how many others are hiding in the dark. We’ll hunt them down at first light.”
Neirin snorted. “It should be obvious that only Glory and their male companion remain.” He sneered but was mostly ignored as the Fomorians dispersed to obey their leader’s command.
Aonghas turned away and walked to his tent, which seemed to be placed so as to be as far away from Neirin as possible. His was rather less grandiose as well. Between the two was a clump of smaller tents belonging to Aonghas’ followers. A wide margin existed on either side of the Fomorian‘s tents, either out of respect for Aonghas or fear of Neirin. The prisoners were nowhere to be seen, but there was a hole in the further hills by which guards were posted.
The searchers slowly trickled back into camp, and Jack was nowhere to be seen. Well, at least he was still out there somewhere. Glory didn’t like to think about what Neirin might be doing to Maria, even if she’d begun to hate the girl almost as much as she hated her sister. At least there were no screams.
She didn’t have a lot of options. There was no way Glory was getting past the guards to free the prisoners. But maybe she could try something else.
Glory edged around the camp, avoiding the extra guards as they walked the perimeter. It helped that Aonghas’ tent was so isolated on the edge of camp. Tactically it was a bad placement, and she couldn’t imagine what he was thinking. Shouldn’t his men have been camped around him to ensure his safety? Then again, maybe they were situated between him and Neirin for just that reason. Relations between the two seemed strained.
The tent was dark as she slipped inside, but Aonghas was not sleeping. “Who is it?” he asked in an irritable voice.
“Glory,” she replied and heard him inhale sharply. “I suggest you not call for help.”
She heard him moving. A moment later, he’d lit a taper from the coals of a banked fire. From what she could see of the interior, Aonghas had little in the way of personal effects, despite having been practicing his skills as a highwayman for months.
“Well, this is a surprise,” he said, the light revealing a befuddled grin. His eyes were very tired though, and up close, his cheeks were hollow.
Glory scowled at him. “Don’t imagine this is anything but an appeal to reason, and if necessary, I’ll use you as a hostage to free Neirin’s prisoners.”
At that, he gave a short bark of laughter. “Take me hostage if you like, but no one will cross the Craven, not even to save me.”
“And yet, you don’t do anything to stop him,” she said sourly. “You provide him with more innocent victims as if you expect him to keep his word.”
“So you heard our conversation.” He grinned, making eyes at her until she rolled hers. “Better them than us,” Aonghas replied, his smile disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. “And so long as we keep faith, there is the chance he will keep his word.”
She shook her head. “You don’t want to go to Earth, the Otherworld. I’ve seen the people exiled to my world. You can’t live there, let alone thrive or found a kingdom.”
“Neirin says there is a way,” he insisted.
“Gwythyr’s aunt says there is not, and she would know better than him.”
to Book 7, part 2, page 27