Patina – Chapter 53

Mastra Verna passed her hands through her hair. Something was wrong, and she couldn’t put her finger on where exactly. In her long career as an Augur, she learned to prioritize her gut feeling – sometimes her body knew something before her Sight even kicked into full gear. She sat inside the glider as it approached Belacqua, flying over the grey forest. Part of her mind poked at the undergrowth of new sap and wandering Eerie, as the Fae shepherding them walked about, checking for survivors or madmen who left their cities protection.

A few spotted her flier and shot their enchanted arrows. She twisted their direction with a flick of her mind and the arrows turned back, striking the same Fae that unleashed them.

A small satisfaction to dull her worries. Not even enough to curl her lips in a smile. 

The threads she had sent out were all coming out short. She was supposed to have Sadja back with her. Securing her production, together with… other benefits.

The possible path were murky and unclear. For the first time in years, she was not completely confident in which direction to take. 

To say it bothered her… it would be an understatement. 

Land behind the town, she sent to the pilot. I’ll walk there myself.

No need to alert the citizens to her coming. Nor give Elissa time to prepare. 

Prepare for what? If she had Seen it, she would have taken her countermeasures. Her most clever apprentice. And if she did not, that meant the knots she put in her brain should still hold on tight. 

In fact, flying over there and seeing how she would react would give her more of an advantage. 

She bit onto her finger.
Thoughts, decisions… piling up on each other like scared eels in the watery streets of the floating city. She had been so confident when dealing with Valeriana. What was happening to her?

Behind her mask, a frown. There was only one power she knew of that could possibly be doing this, but…

Could the Heart of the Forest be reaching out to her directly? 

It was too soon.

She, that sleeping blight that had cursed the world of men into this twisted abomination, couldn’t be have detected her as a threat yet, could she?

It was in none of the paths she had walked, and she made sure to look into every crevice. 

She stood up.

Enough dilly-dallying. She’d get to the bottom of this matter with Elissa, break her down if necessary, and then make her up from the bottom into her better, more useful self. 

No step back on the road to victory. 

The glider nose-dived a few kilometers behind Belacqua, on a nearby hill. Verna came out and took a long look at the encroaching forest. 

“I already know who among you scum plans to come here and put a dent on my craft. That would make your miserable hearts feel so much better, wouldn’t it? I already know your position, I already know your names. I have foreseen none of you will be brave enough to take even a step forward. Oh, but please do prove me wrong. I ache to paint the forest gold with your filthy blood.”

Tall spindly figures among the trees withdrew amidst the shadows. Slightly more pleased with herself, Verna walked towards the besieged town. 


The Hunter jumped high. His exposed skin glistened red, burning of an unseen fire as arcane signs glowed a crimson light. His blood flowed about him in chains of droplets. Some turned into thin needles that shot through air at the Eerie, cutting through its skin like steel through so much pliant wood. Others transformed into ropes of blood that coiled around its legs, pinning it down to the floor. And always he jumped this way and that, escaping its swipes and its lunges. The dome-like back erupted swirling tentacles and he made short work of them with his knife. The Eerie roared and amidst its roar he could hear only one voice, a voice he had stopped listening to six years before. 


Not that he could afford to ever listen to it any time soon. 

All the more reason to kill her once again here, even though in winter it held so much more advantage against him. He feinted and sled on the snow beneath its huge body, cutting it open with his industry-forged knife. Black ichor flew on his skin, biting it with its thick, ooze-like texture and rotten smell. 

The Eerie arched its back and let out a shriek as it tried to crush him to the ground. He barely managed to roll out of the way. 

He stood up and held his knife at the creature. It lifted its stalk and the woman who had once been his life wailed, opening her arms to welcome him back.


He spat red.
With his free hand, he pressed on his chest, drawing on more blood. Around his head appeared a crown of needles. He flicked his wrist and they danced like a halo, ready to strike. 

And yet he was feeling so woozy already. 

He had to finish this soon.


Verna held her favorite apprentice in her arms. She gently lifted her head towards her and brushed the tips of her fingers against the hem of her blindfold, a gesture that to an Augur would have seemed blasphemous. Here it was just the proper thing to do. 

“Are you a good girl?”

A lopsided smile spread over Elissa’s face. She drunkenly nodded. Verna’s fingers pressed against her orbits, finding no resistance. 

Their mind touched and she pushed in, flooded, in fact. Her oily tendrils explored the depths of Elissa’s memories, looking for anything out of place. Anything that had been tampered with. Anything that could show her little perfect girl was starting to get silly ideas that would only give her doubt and pain and loads upon loads of regret.

And she found herself amidst a cathedral of perfect knots – painful, trained memories, stained glasses of stimulus-response. Walking amidst scene upon scene of a young redhead crying, clawing at her eyes, leaning over another girl with white hair, walking down an isle with her Novice robes, and offering herself for consecration like she had been taught. 

A perfect specimen. 

All of her work was in its correct place, and not a hair out of order. 

Verna withdrew her mind and stared for a few minutes at Elissa’s face, who was still smiling at her in utter awe.

She had foreseen a few paths that would bring her problems in the future, but as long as she kept this pawn on hers on track… she’d have nothing to fear. 

Verna relaxed, pulling the girl in a tighter embrace.

“There, there. Now that’s my favorite apprentice, indeed.”

Snoozing against her neck, the Augur of Belacqua nodded her approval. Verna stroked her hair, each caress a triumph. 

“You got me all worried. I used to believe you were planning something on your own.”

And with how powerful Elissa was getting, mostly thanks to her severe-yet-just training, she had nobody to blame but herself if she tended to escape her Sight these days. No, coming her on person had been the right choice. 

As always, she ended up making the right choice. 

“Now rest easy. I can focus entirely on bringing our favorite girl back.”

Pic by Technomancer

Author’s Notes: I don’t feel entirely confident about this chapter. It’s one of those parts that, if I had more time and I wasn’t working on borrowed time, would likely go back and tweak to no end until I felt it’s perfect. Luckily I don’t have a chance for such silly wastes of time. Still hope you liked it. And thanks for reading!


Inserisci i tuoi dati qui sotto o clicca su un’icona per effettuare l’accesso:

Logo di

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Foto di Facebook

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Facebook. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Connessione a %s…

%d blogger hanno fatto clic su Mi Piace per questo: