Patina – Chapter 56

If Sadja ever got out of this, she did not want to see a rope ever again, in her entire life. She bit and wriggled as her captors carried her away, with some success, as she managed to make them bleed and scream, but little else. One of the men pulled out a knife and pointed it against her throat. She spat at him, but the cool and sharp blade did send her instincts off and she stiffened still. 

“You little bitch, you try that again I’ll cut off your tongue!” One of them shouted.

“Verna wants her unscathed,” the woman said, pushing his hand away. “And unspoiled.”

“The little shit almost scratched my eye off!”

“Then tie her up a little harder, won’t you?” She shouted back. Her arms trembled with unrestrained fury. “I just… I just shot a friend, do you get that? All because we need to bring Verna her prize. And if you damage her, oh may all Spirits help you.” 

They stared into each other’s eyes, until it was the man who lowered his gaze. She nodded and proceeded to the head of the group. 

“Thought as much,” she commented, but even if she didn’t see it, Sadja didn’t miss the hateful spark in the man’s eyes. 

Maybe she could use that. Pit them one against the other.

And maybe she could go back. And maybe Hunter…

But Hunter was dead, wasn’t he?

Or dying, at the very least. 

No help would come that way. 

She had to get out of this alone. 

Luckily she only had to wait for them to make a wrong move. 

“Oh, and I almost forgot.” The woman patted her belt. “I hope I didn’t break this. Hmmm, looks like it’s still good. Hold her still.

That wasn’t good! Her ears stiffened as she saw her produce a syringe out of her belt. She cleaned the needle – and her heart almost lost a beat, memories of her time under Verna rushing in. Her heart felt like it was climbing out of her chest as she came closer and put the needle against her arm. She trashed and struggled, so the woman rolled her eyes and placed her right hand below her shoulder, at the attachment point of her arm.

She pressed a point and a strange warm dullness spread over her arm.

She yowled in pain through her bindings as her limb fell limp.

“That’s better. This is for your own good,” she whispered, patting her head. 

Lies. Lies. The same lies she had heard all her life.

Her eyes stung more than her skin when she plunged the needle and she felt something pushed inside her bloodstream. 


The world grew fuzzy. She struggled to keep her eyelids open. 

“Put her on one of the sleds. We have to make this quick…” 

No… she tried to claw at them with her other arm, but it was just so heavy… and she did not… she did not want to… go back into the darkness. 

But the darkness was cruel, and did not heed her prayers when it gobbled her up. 


Through his life, the Hunter had often reached a moment when the thought and the prayer, straight at the forefront of his mind, had been: I don’t want to die.

It had been enough, so far. During that terrible winter, when Lenora fell to the Tide, he’d been able to save himself through the sheer strength of will necessary to pull her out of the black tar. Though that did worse than it helped. And when he started to hunt her and kill her each year (six times so far), there had been times when his instincts had rebelled against the encroaching embrace of the Great Comforter. 

Not today, that had been his prayer. He had yet to free her from her endless curse, her endless undeath. So he lived and fought another day. 

All that seemed so pointless. Bleeding his heart out, he clawed at the wound. Each breath was like having a hook pulled through his chest. Trying to keep it closed. 

It would have been simple, once.

But weeks out in the wild, spending his blood with little regard for his reserves or his strength, the after-effects of the sighting-spell still gnawing at his eye, and the many others he had to put through, not to mention all those tricks he had just pulled… he’d been pounded into fine dust.

“Gnhhg,” he gurgled through a mouthful of blood. 

Cloria. Of all the people…

He had believed her honourable. Shooting him? Like that? Stealing his prey…

Even when she wasn’t his prey anymore.

They’d bring the girl to Verna. And if any of what she said was true…

Verna. Verna had seen all this. And the moment he had strayed off the path, she already had her pawn set right at the crossroad.

They had taught him time and time again not to put himself between a Vestal and her goal. 

“Nngh. Ssssspirits, ngngh.” That was all he could mutter.

Useless to try and keep the wound closed.

He had lost all control over his blood. It spilled out red and useless, like the sap of the Old Country.

And to think she had seemed so happy. The girl.


That was her name. 

If anything he had earned that right. 

His arms fell limp at his sides.

Every time he tried to take in a larger breath, his blood flew wider.

Soon he’d lose awareness.

He’d slip into the long dream.

At least the anchor would prevent him going the way of Lenora.

Far too ironic a fate, even for him. 

I’m sorry, he sent out into the open, white sky.

Without a care, it started snowing. 

This was it. 

I don’t want to die.

By now more of a statement, a lamentation, than something he could use to pull himself up by his straps.

In the end, he did not have much to show for his life.

He had lost the woman he loved.

Failed to save her from a fate worse than death.

And now, failed to help a lost, confused and scared girl after she saved his life.

What a joke.

And they call you the Hunter.

Maybe the Spirits could have pity on him. 

He surely knew he did not deserve it.

Shadows and forms wavered about him. 

They were coming. The Eerie and beasts and Fae, come to gather at his final resting place. They’d wait for the anchor to fail a little and then…


The world was slowly falling back into focus.

He felt his body again.

The wound faded into a dull ache.


He stood up. Looking down, he could see his own body, laying still on the ground.

Is this what happens when you die?

“I wouldn’t know,” said a young female voice. He turned to see a petite redhead, her robes the white of a Vestal, a thick blindfold covering everything from her lips to her eyebrows.


“Good day, Hunter,” she replied, holding out a hand. “Come. It’s about time we have a talk. About you, about Verna. And about the girl called Sadja.”

Pic by TheLeader

Author’s Notes: another chapter I enjoyed writing. I have been looking forward to this meeting for a while, and I hope you like it as well. I also really hope Sadja can get out of this pickle soon enough. Looks like these new captors are not nearly as nice. All in all, thanks for all the support you gave this story’s even just by reading or leaving a like at the end. Thanks again for reading. I’ll see you tomorrow.


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