Patina – Chapter 0

The girl was bleeding silver. 

She frowned at the bandages over her wounds, looking dejected on the other side of their makeshift camp. The Hunter stood up, producing clear gauzes from one of his pouches. 

The girl heard him, her furry, triangles ears turning at him. She tried to take a half-step back and the chain linking his left wrist to her right leg tinkled in the circle of firelight. 

“Calm down.” He whispered, holding up his hands. “I just need to change your bandages.”

His quarry seemed to understand. She might not be talkative, but there was a clear understanding in her blue eyes. 

Acting up would not help either of them. 

Especially with the forest so close, their branches and leaves peering through the collapsed concrete walls of the old house. Who knew what might be listening. 

For that reason as well, he took his time to walk around the fire, trying to make as little noise as possible. 

“There, there, that’s a good girl.” He approached her and looked at her arms. No matter what he did, her alabaster skin was in such bad shape that by tomorrow it’d tear itself apart again. And they were running out of gauzes.

His patrons would probably pay as much for a dead quarry as they would for a live one.

The Hunter frowned, looking behind himself at the forest, the soft scent of too-ripe peaches tickling his nostrils. 

The forest must be getting at him. 

“Let’s see what we have here.” He sat next to her and began to change her bandages, sticky argent blood coming off with the gauzes. Whatever this wolf-girl was, she did not bleed like normal people. She let out a too-human whimper as a patch of dry blood stuck to her skin. “It’s gone, see? You’re doing great. Keep it up.”

She shivered and her large white tail waggled left and right, getting if possible even dirtier, but she did keep it down.

Her skin exposed, she showed the wear and tear experienced for the last few days, and the dozens of tiny pockmarks spread all over her arms. As if someone had fun pocking at her with needles.

His frown deepened. No wonder she was so skittish. 

Anyway, she kept still as he cleaned her arms and applied the new bandages. Blood would soon stain them grey again, but maybe, at the very least, she’d be able to get better sleep.

“That’s a good girl.” He tried to smile, but she shifted her face away. “Now get some sleep. We have a long way ahead of us.”

He came back to his side of the campfire, putting another log onto the pile. Fire would keep them warm, but it might attract curious things, and some of these would not be friendly. He took out his rifle and put it on his lap. There. A little better, perhaps.

The forest kept shivering and whispering and chirping. Some of that was just birds. Or animals. 

That part did not worry him. 

The girl sat up and sat a little closer to the fire. She did not look at him and kept her eyes to the flames. She seemed to like the fire, though he’d have guessed that, as feral as she looked the he first met her, she’d be scared. 

Who knew from under which hole she crawled out…

Not that it mattered, of course. 

He looked up for a moment at the night sky, framed by the bent shapes of the kneeling houses and skyscrapers that still stood in this part of the forest-infested city.

Some stars were the good old kind, blinking back at him unmoving. Yet some scratched the black sky with their streak of sparkles – the fast ones, man-made. Maybe one of them would fall right besides them.

Letting out a sigh, he moved his gaze back to the girl, who had pulled her tail up against her body and shut her eyes. Maybe she was learning to behave. 

Still, this job used t seem so much easier…

Pic by Kedras666 at

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