Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 2.28

Posted by harmony0stars on July 12, 2011

Neirin’s tent was dimly lit and smelled of musk, like the den of an animal, and smoke. It was cluttered with piles of… things. In the dark, it was hard to tell, but some were bulky, perhaps his hoard of ill-gotten goods, and others were formless mounds that stank when Glory drew near. Furs, she hoped, rather than mounds of decaying meat. It was hard to tell with the pervasive stench that hung in the air.

The was light only at the back of the tent, and that was dim to the point of uselessness. The brazier of peat gave off more heat and smoke than light. Even the few scattered rush lights could not cut the gloom that filled the tent like a palpable, crawling thing. It was the home of horror and everything in it seemed to loom in silent menace, as if a party to Neirin’s madness.

It was easy enough to spot Maria sitting on a mound of furs as Glory neared the light. True, one leg was bound by a massive iron chain that connected to an equally massive chest, but she seemed none the worse for wear. In fact as Glory edged silently through the piles of junk, the other girl looked positively smug as she played with a torque of gold around her neck. She was half undressed and seemed disinclined to button up.

“Is that you, my prince?” Maria asked sweetly as Glory brushed against a pile of… bones. She veered away from the mess and stumbled into another pile. Of skins, this time. Glory tried not to look too closely.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Glory hissed, biting off each word as she glared at the little woman.

Maria flinched in surprise, but replied with a sneer. “It’s called going with the flow and making the best of a bad situation.”

“It’s called being a whore and a fool,” Glory said, trying not to raise her voice. She could still hear the shouts as Jack put on his show outside, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t be found out by Neirin’s freakish hearing.

“You should talk, Miss I’ve-got-the-royals-in-my-back-pocket. I think I deserve a little pampering too.” She began buttoning her blouse, all the while glaring right back at Glory.

“Did you miss the part where he’s a cannibal?” It wasn’t so much that she was surprised by Maria’s loose morals. She already had a pretty good idea what kind of woman Maria was, but could she really be that stupid? “Now come on, I’ll get that chain off you before Jack gets tired of bouncing around the camp.”

Maria waved Glory away. “It’s not really cannibalism. He changes them into deer. It’s not even like they turn back into humans after they’re dead. Besides, if I‘m going to be his queen, I‘ll have to get use to it, eh?”

“Is that what he promised you?” Glory asked, disgusted by Maria’s blasé attitude.

“Well, I’m working up to it. He did say he had a very important position in mind for me.” She cracked a smile as if she’d made a joke, and then frowned when Glory didn’t react. “Well, it’s not like I’ve got anything going on at home. If you had any idea how many times I’ve slept with that smelly old director and even the undersecretary…” She stopped and made a rude noise as Glory shook her head. “I haven‘t been promoted in six years. Six! I’ve been stuck as an agent, playing nursemaid to dear Uncle Jack, when I’ve got gobs more talent than any ten of my workmates. And now, thanks to you, I haven’t even got a boyfriend any more. Though I‘ve definitely traded up with Neirin, weird foreplay aside.”

“Don’t pin your break up on me. Trevor’s a big boy and can make his own decisions. I think he‘s made the right one in this instance at least.” Glory looked around, hoping to spot the harp and cursing herself for not asking Aonghas if he‘d seen it. For all she knew, it was hidden away somewhere back in his tent. “You know what? Enjoy your life. I don’t care. You’re free to make as big a mess of it as you like. You can do whatever you like with the creepy son of a bitch until he gets hunted down like the animal he is. Just tell me if you’ve seen a harp without strings lying around anywhere, and I‘ll get out of your hair.”

“Oh… I saw that, sure.” Maria said with a sly grin, pointing at the trunk to which she was chained. “It was in the chest when Neirin opened it to give me this.” She caressed the torque, which was decorated with scenes from a hunt, a pack of dogs chasing a deer. How appropriate.

Glory frowned, but whatever Maria’s game, she couldn’t afford to not look in the chest, and her senses told her that there was something of power there. She paused in front of the thing, but it looked to be a normal chest, leather stretched over wood and bound with bands of iron. The chain attached to Maria’s leg was built into one of the bands as if it had grown from the metal itself.

She lift the lid with a sigh, unable to see anything that looked like a trap. The contents glittered in the dim light. The gold and jewels were piled high with costly fabrics and delicate figurines, and in one corner, half buried, was the key. Glory hesitated. To her other senses, the entire chest glowed with power, but she couldn’t see what was causing it, unless the harp was just that powerful.

Her eyes wandered over the contents, drawn to the glittering treasure despite herself. But it was the harp she needed, not treasure. She was quite rich in her own right, wealthy enough to put Neirin to shame at any rate. Maybe that was the spell that had been cast on the treasure, a glamour to draw any would be thieves into salivating over the pile. Well, she only needed the harp, and the harp was all she would take.

to Book 7, part 2, page 29


2 Responses to “Tattoo Book 7 part 2.28”

  1. Alderin said

    Yeah, Maria needs some… work.

    “that smell old director” – smelly old?

    “Maybe that was spell that had been cast” – was THE spell that…

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