Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 2.33

Posted by harmony0stars on July 30, 2011

One of the men removed a rolled up rag from a pouch at his belt. Unraveling the cloth, he took out a tiny stoppered vial and poured out a few drops of oily white sludge as if it were liquid gold. He rubbed the substance into the cloth, and then passed it to the man nearest him, wiping his own shoes first. Maria looked humiliated as Jack knelt and rubbed each of her paws before passing the rag to the next man. She sniffed one paw and sneezed, looking as if she’d like to disown her own feet. As the rag reached Glory the smell was still quite strong. It was repellent, almost medicinal and reminiscent of hot peppers. She could only imagine it was meant to discourage Neirin’s pack from following their trail.

“Come,” Prince Lorcan said, gesturing deeper into the dark woods. “We have been watching the camp some days already, and I would prefer that the Craven not know it before we are ready to act.”

The first man had cut a handful of weeds and brushed them with the cloth as it was handed back to him. Once the vial was safely wrapped and returned to his pouch, he bent to obscure their footprints in the soft earth of the clearing. Satisfied with his work, he followed the rest of the company into the trees.

The lantern was only permitted to shine on their path for a few yards before it was covered again. The Prince took Glory by the elbow and another man took charge of Jack as they were once more led through the dark. They spent several minutes running and tripping through the undergrowth before the baying of the hounds faded into the distance, and they came to the camp of Prince Lorcan’s men.

The camp had been set up in a dry creek bed. One of the former banks was deep and hollow and supported by the twisting roots of the trees above. Lorcan’s men had lined the interior of the hole with cloth to keep the light in and piled debris against the outside to further mask their location during the day. A man could stand on elevated hump of their hidey hole, surveying the surrounding area, and be none the wiser for it.

Within the close quarters of their camp, Lorcan turned the harp over and over in his hands. He finally turned and looked askance at Glory. “How is it you took this from the fiend’s treasury and nothing else?”

“I was sent for it… by my father.” Glory embellished the truth slightly. She was pretty sure her father wanted her to seek the stones, but it wasn‘t as if he‘d come out and told her to. She had a feeling ambiguity was something of a hallmark with him. “But I think we have more important concerns right now,” she added. They had the harp back. Now the prisoners were the more pressing business.

“And who is your father?” he demanded. Lorcan stared at her coolly, his mouth set in a stubborn line.

“You know him as the Green Man,” she snapped, irritated by his questioning, everyone’s questioning really. What business of it was theirs? It wasn’t like either of her fathers had ever been a part of her life.

If there had been room in the small overhang, she was certain that everyone would have stepped away from her. Jack merely looked amused, and while it was hard to read Maria’s moods in her new form, she seemed bored. The dog slunk away and found a small nook  to curled up in, nose to tail, ignoring or pretending to ignore her human companions.

“What evidence do you offer?” the Prince asked in a stiff tone, still refusing to leave the subject.

“I don’t know what you want from me,” Glory said crossly, “and I don’t care. Don’t believe me if you like. Take it to the Queen of Rhaonastil where it was meant to go, and then she’ll hand it over to me. She’s the one who told me where to go to find it. Now it‘s found, but we have more important things to worry about, like your sister and Prince Gwythyr and any one else Neirin‘s been saving for a special occasion. Gwythyr at least will not make it past morning if Neirin has his way.”

“This really would be the ideal time to attack,” Jack cut in. “While they’re demoralized and before they have time to think about how one man, carrying an incapacitated woman, managed to kill a half dozen of their warriors. They certainly wouldn’t expect an attack at this point. They might have at the beginning, but not now when they‘ve had a chance to calm down.”

“I agree, my Prince,” said one of Lorcan’s warriors. He was a grizzled old man, older than the rest of the Prince’s followers by at least a couple decades, though who knew what that averaged out to in the Summerlands. “Now is the time to strike. They will be exhausted after searching the woods and sitting up, worrying over the possibility of an attack which never came. They will have just been permitted to sleep by the time we return. And they will be demoralized, as the stranger says, after losing so many men to one warrior. Now would be the perfect time to rescue your sister and any other prisoners still alive. We will never be evenly matched, but if we wait, they will only swell their ranks anew with more outcasts.”

The Prince shook his head. “But if we attack outright, he would have time to kill the hostages…”

“You attack,” Glory said. “Jack and I will slip around to the prisoners while the guards are distracted by the battle.”

The Prince opened his mouth and then clamped it shut. Maybe he’d been about to protest that Glory was ‘only a girl’ and decided against it. If so, he was one up on Gwythyr. They dithered over the finer points of the plan for another half hour more, but in the end, they were heading back to the camp before the moon had time to do more than peak through the trees.

to Book 7, part 2, page 34

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One Response to “Tattoo Book 7 part 2.33”

  1. Fiona said

    The prince’s questions were reasonable, but it is the nature of fey creatures to be difficult and mysterious…

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