Patina – Chapter 80

How do you blind someone who can look into the future?

How do you throw sands into their eyes? 

Back when she had started the Novitiate, Elissa used to ask that question to herself, multiple times a day. That was before she fell completely under Verna’s charm, but she now remembered pacing the halls of her mind looking for an answer. 

Vestals were supposed to all see one common future, one common purpose. Survival and protection for mankind against the encroaching threat of the forest. Other places, other surviving pockets from after the War might have their own secret ways, but that was what mattered in her land, and that was what she focused on. 

Often during their commonalities, as their mindscapes interlocked together, sharing memories, hopes, fears and goals, Elissa felt like she was sitting in a boat, watching smaller ones passing by, following the currents, but all of them aiming for the same spot. 

This way, if someone went off-course, they’d all know, and would be there to correct the wayward soul.

That was, after all, the reason why Verna was absolutely adored by anyone who approached her. 

The head of the Order was the picture of the ideal Augur and she seemed to be unstoppable. And merciful: when attacks to her life by neighboring countries failed to even scratch her skin, she did not retaliate. 

Thus, Elissa found herself at a loss, fighting against someone whose experience and resources were vastly superior to her own.
But Verna’s successes and lofty goals had blinded her to those she deemed worms in the mud. Oh, she was wise enough not to underestimate her Sight. Especially since she had learned to train it to that degree after she pried off her eyes. But she knew she would have to dig in with other means. Hence the hooks biting deep into her psyche. When Verna went to check on them, when Elissa mutilated her mindscape, cutting everything so neatly that she’d fail to pick up on the sutures, she’d been blinded to the truth. 

And so, Elissa did manage to find a solution to her question.

How to blind Verna, the High Seer of Venexia?

By making her see what she wanted to see. 

As her motionless body slept on the palanquin, ever-closer to her destination, slumbering on the worn muscles of the four men who still held it up, her mind was straining itself to keep her smoke and mirrors up. As the threads she spun were coming to their head, she had to make sure everything flowed perfectly. She’d only get one shot at this, and until then Verna had to believe she’d got the upper hand. 

Just like she used to do as a teenager Novice wringing her brains to find a way out of this, she paced back and forth inside her mindscape, looking at the scene unfolding before her: two cardboard figures standing against each other, amidst an empty floor of glass stretching everywhere and onto a starless black sky.

The Hunter was poised to strike. He stood tall and menacing, blood running down his body, already enhanced by whatever cruoromantic arts he possessed. In front of him Verna grinned, her weapon at the ready.

Both of them then dissipated in ever-fading echoes of their current position, dissipating in a thousand possible future she couldn’t possibly follow.

Right now, Verna could still account the loss of her glider and the Hunter’s return to the Tide, and the winter playing its sick game on her. It was as she always had, after all: the Queen of Thorns was her enemy and her rival, and everything she did was another handful of sand in Verna’s carefully-balanced gears. She already had an enemy to blame, no need to think about anyone else.

Elissa tapped her chin, thinking about what to do, which thread to pull.

If she made this too easy for the Hunter, Verna would likely understand something was up. She’d then start looking for answers, and that wouldn’t leave her enough time to do what she needed.

Already she was stretched almost as thing as the time she went to look for the Hunter. A much lesser distance, but painting over Verna’s moves at such a breakneck pace… she already felt the headache starting to get a grip over her skull. Far off in the black sky, she heard tiny echoes of cracks already forming.

Sooner or later the dome would collapse. 

She shook her head and stood behind the Hunter’s cardboard, thinking about what to do. 

In the end, she moved the threads so that he’d jump high, shoot at Verna with a rain of blood-needles and… she flicked her wrist and another cardboard figure appeared behind them, holding a pistol. Unlike the other two, Cloria did not diffuse in a myriad possible futures. She only had a couple. Which meant she did not have a lot of chances to survive this.
As for Sadja…

I will not draw her into this.

She was not the most important piece on this game.

She was the only important one.

Every strategy that involved her in the actual fight would deem disaster. 

As she finished moving the Hunter, Verna vibrated and shifted onto a handful of possible positions. She was having a hard time pinning them down. Either she just jumped away from the needles, or she used her telekinesis to send them back to the Hunter (but he could probably just dismiss them, and she must know this…) or she swung at him with her lash.

The manic grin she sported in that occasion told her she was right. She singled out the Verna in that position and came back to the Hunter, who crossed his arms over his chest to block the attack. But the image was faint, shivering, uncertain. 

Let’s get over this from the start, she sighed.

The figures went back to their starting position. 

Elissa groaned as she tried a new tactic. Every time she did push the Hunter, or Verna, or Cloria, into a different configuration, they were a tiny bit more smudged, a little less defined, a little more uncertain. Her grasp on the future, every future, was growing weak.


Elissa came back to square one. There must be a way to win this. At any moment, there must be a winning move, one that could strike balance between Verna still believing she was toying with the Hunter and he surviving enough time to allow Elissa to make her next move. 

There must be one. 

She did not see it, but… but… there must be one. 

It was supposed to.


Author’s notes: another chapter that was quite interesting to write. I wanted to give us a deeper look into Elissa’s mindscape and the way she’s been influencing Verna this whole time. I really like the image of the cardboard figures dancing on the glass floor, and how pressed for time she is. Really hope the best for this girl. Thanks for reading.


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