Patina – Chapter 86

Elissa groaned, walking through the snow. Was it still her body? She was not sure. Around her two rows of Eerie and Fae stood upright, waiting for her to pass, like she was a one-woman parade. If she had still the heart to worry about them, it was used to think about Sadja anyway. She passed a hand over her face, careful not to bruise her skin again on the upwards roots sprouting from her orbits. It did not matter, anyway. All that mattered as she was connected, tied to the endless darkness, the slumbering blight deep beneath the world, connecting it all like a spiderweb, and she now spun it around the one person who used to make her dance like a puppet on strings. 

“Oh, it’s so rapturous,” she gurgled. So many… thoughts. Like worms squirming under her skin, their white maggoty heads peeking at the edge of the bandage. But she still held them in check. 

Huffing, she proceeded. As she did so, her mind was busy tying up Verna’s thread. Oh, she was in for a surprise, maybe for the first time since she had developed her powers.
Such nice things, surprises.

In her right hand, she held onto the thorn.

And with her left one, she flipped the old coin.

***

Sadja hissed as the knife bit onto her flesh. For the first time, she watched intent as the Hunter took her fingers and guided them to create a series of curved lines reaching from her wrist to her elbow. Her heart skipped a beat and she felt it then go back at it with twice the speed, pumping against her chest. A sound like the rushing wind popped in her ears and she swayed. 

“Hold on,” he said, putting his arm around her waist to keep her up. “Focus. You’re doing great. This will link your blood vessels to your spirit nodules. That’s what you are feeling. Opening up to the great work of spirit and flesh.”

It did make her head spin. 

And they did not have much time. 

Verna was busy with Cloria, and to tell the truth she did not really like the Venatrix too much, but seeing her thrown up and down like a rock still hurt. 

“Focus. Close your eyes.”

She did as he told her. She tensed for a moment, but this was the same man who had freed her when she asked to, who had come back to help her, and who was now facing their worst nightmare, all without asking nothing in return. 

So she did let out a long breath and her blood rose to the call. 

It sang to her. 

She couldn’t make out the words, but it was echoing… her own emotions. Her own needs and her desires. To beat Verna once and for all.

To follow the Hunter to Belacqua.

And to be free, once and for all, meet a new horizon every day. 

Behind her closed eyelids, an image began to appear that gave shape to her intent.

An elongated, slender arrow with a three-pronged head, made out of shining blood. 

Shining argent in the light of the forest.

“That’s correct. You are doing great.” A chuckle. “You’re a natural.”

She couldn’t stifle a little smile at his praise.

The arrow grew clearer in her inner mind. She had never… thought her blood could be so helpful, so close to her emotions. She had always seen it as an enemy, a curse. The reason why she had been on the run, the reason why Verna had pushed all those pawns, just to break her and turning her into her personal sac of fluid.

“T-Thanks,” she muttered. “For coming back.”

Silence.

A hand reached for the back of her head, giving her an affectionate pat.

“I had to.”

Something flew out of her wound. Something silky and wet and warm. Her head swam once again, but she held fast. Whatever it was, her blood sang it, and it did feel right. It felt like the right thing to do. 

“You’re ready. Now let it go.”

Sadja opened her right eye first, then her left one. The world came back into focus.

From her arm a huge bow made of what looked like flowing metal fanned out. But it was… it was her own blood. Thin and glistening with the reflections of the world around them, she aimed it at Verna, who just at that moment screamed.

Another arrow, this one made of old-fashioned crimson blood, speared her through. 

Her shriek ripped through the silence, shock and pain ringing through it like the tainted veins in a block of marble. 

Verna turned at her, holding onto her left arm, where, for the first time, red spilled to stain her peerless Vestal clothing red. Just like the Tide did to the rest of the world, so she also was bowing down to Winter.

Sadja thought to all those times she had been touched by those arms. 

All those times they had strapped her to a chair. 

All those times they had pierced her with needles.

All those times she had wanted nothing more than to be held in them. Like the first time. 

All downhill from there, it seemed.

Verna lifted a hand in her direction. 

The world rumbled – the trees bent back as huge pressure wave released from the High Seer – and then crashed onto nothing. It rippled onto itself, blasting off into the distance like a wave hitting a sturdy pane of glass. 

“What? It can’t…” Verna lamented.

Sadja closed her eyes once again. 

She let go. 

She saw without watching. 

The bow pulled back and released, exploding in a fountain of silver needles. The huge arrow flew true. Verna lifted both hands, even the bloodied one, and a shimmering veil of what looked like vapor appeared for a moment in front of her. For the briefest of moments, Sadja believed her arrow had missed. That Verna had managed to avoid it, or destroy it, rewrite the strings of fate so that it did not hit her. 

Just for a moment. Another hand was now holding that pencil, and it wrote in the book of fate that Verna’s clawed fingers would tremble, and the shield she lifted would crack in two and Sadja’s arrow would pierce through her chest.

Sadja opened her eyes.

Verna choked on blood. Her hands gripped the arrow’s shaft even as it disappeared in this smoke.  She let out a weird breath, like a thin hiss.

Then she folded over like a tired branch and fell to the ground, bathed in black, crimson and silver.

Pic by

Author’s Notes: I’m so happy with this chapter I spent half the time dancing. I really feel like Sadja did everything correctly in the end. Of course, Verna’s defeat might not be as clean-cut as is depicted here, but I really enjoyed writing this one. Thanks for reading. I’ll see you tomorrow… and in related news, it’s just two weeks to the end of the 100-days-challenge. I can’t believe we made it this far.

Rispondi

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

Logo di WordPress.com

Stai commentando usando il tuo account WordPress.com. 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: