Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 3.12

Posted by harmony0stars on October 4, 2011

“Turn here,” Neirin said, rapping on the Plexiglas that separated their seats from the driver.

The woman seemed confused. She slowed but still almost missed the turn as she hesitated. Neirin hissed angrily, but kept his temper in check. He directed her down long streets which turned into narrow lanes. Each new turn confounded the woman more until they were traveling along at a snail’s pace and Neirin’s cheeks were becoming flushed with suppressed rage.

“Stop,” he shouted, and the car which had barely been moving came to sudden and jarring stop as the woman slammed on the brakes.

Cursing under his breath, Neirin opened the car door in front of a seedy little bar and stepped out, brushing at his clothes as if they were irreparably soiled. Of course he was as immaculate as he’d been when he first got in the car, but you wouldn’t know it to look at his face. He smacked away the hand the driver as she fumbled at the car door, unsure of whether to open it further or shut it and reopen it.

“You! Get back in the car and wait for me to return.” This satisfied whatever compulsion controlled the woman. She quietly retook her seat behind the wheel, sitting as still as a marionette. Neirin turned to Glory with a tad more dignity. “Stay here, my dear. I will return shortly.”

Every nerve in her body urged her to run as soon as he disappeared into the dilapidated building, but she couldn’t so much as move a muscle. It wasn’t until she stopped trying to get out of the car and run that she was able to even slide across the seat and reach for the boxes. Well, he hadn’t said she couldn’t look and that seemed to be enough to allow her the luxury of curiosity.

The small box contained a simple circlet, obvious meant to be a crown, probably the crown Neirin intended for his coronation. She couldn’t see anything special about it, but given the way he’d drooled over the thing, it had to be more than it seemed. The other box… held a sword. It was massive and ornate and surprisingly light. She’d have supposed it was a cheap novelty replica if she wasn’t sure Neirin would never fall for such a thing.

She let the lid drop and looked around the limo. There was no way to leave until Neirin allowed it… or was it only Neirin who could compel her. Could she even talk to someone without his permission. Well, there was one way to find out.

“Hey,” she said, rapping on the Plexiglas.

“Hey,” the woman echoed without looking around.

“Hey, uh… can you say, ‘get out of the car and run away to safety?’” Glory asked, not really expecting the woman to saying, but hoping.

“In here,” the woman replied, using up her entire vocabulary without breaking a sweat.

Glory sighed and ran her hand over the dagger hilt sticking out of her chest. Would she really die if she removed it? “Hey,” she said again, knocking on the window. “Open this.”

The woman obeyed without question, extending her hand through the window when Glory requested it. Well, Neirin hadn’t said she couldn’t heal, so…..

The woman gave a cry of… shock? horror? and ripped her hand from Glory’s grasp. She sat gasping and shaking for several seconds as Glory nervously watch her and the door for Neirin’s return. The woman looked up and saw herself in the rearview mirror. With a cry of rage, she suddenly ripped the mask from her face and flung it away from her.

“Hey,” Glory said, starting to feel like a broken record. Her companion jerked her head up to stare at Glory, terror and confusion etched on her face. “I’m sorry, but you’re not out of the wood yet.” The phrase made the woman shudder as if with some suppressed memory. “Do you remember anything about, well, anything? This car? Me? Do you know your name?”

She slowly shook her head, but didn’t look sure. “Darlene,” she said finally. “That’s who I am…”

“OK, Darlene, listen. We’re in a lot of trouble, you and I. You could run away right now, but that would kind of leave me in the lurch. There’s a very bad man in that building right now and if we don’t stop him, he’s going to kill and eat a child.”

Darlene gaped at Glory in horror as she continued. “You see this?” Glory pointed to the gold stud sticking out of her chest. “He put this in me so I can’t go against any specific order, but apparently if he hasn’t forbidden me from doing something, I still have some leeway. So you’re going to have to put that mask back on and play along.”

“I-I can’t… “ she whispered, staring at the mask as if it were a viper.

“Sure you can,” Glory replied. “You’re just playing dress-up. Whatever that mask means to you, it can’t hurt you. It’s just a mask. So put it on because here he comes, and he’s got friends, and if you don’t put the mask on, he’s probably going to kill you… and that will be the least of your troubles.”

Choking on a sob, the woman snatched the mask up and shoved it on her face with trembling hands. “Wh-what else?” she rasped in desperate voice.

“Uh…” Glory racked her brain. “You only say, ‘hey’ and ‘in here,’ and otherwise you do what he says. We’re on our way to Tara, and uh, you should probably get the door for him and his friends.”

to Book 7, part 3, page 13

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