Patina – Chapter 103

She was trying. Elissa was really trying. Taking the Hunter’s suggestions to heart, no matter how hard they had been listening to, she had waited for Sadja to come back to her. Even when the ripples into her future had started to speak about the wolf-girl reaching out to her, she had turned the other way. 

I never want to know the odds, she had said the Hunter, and with how the aftermath of Verna’s death turned out, she had meant it. 

From now on, she would try to meet Sadja head-on without looking into the possible futures. Besides her present held enough problems as it were, with the… thing growing on the roof of her mouth and what that meant for her future as a Vestal.

For her future as a human being. 

But she’d cross that bridge when she’d reach it. 

For the time being… and they had all the time of the world in there, she’d guide her through her memories. 

She had chosen somberly happy ones, as a start. To ease her into it. 

No need to scare the girl with the heavy stuff.

Besides, as her blue eyes widened watching another memory (this time as their younger selves shared a meal, exchanging fruits for vegetables), she believed, or chose to, that this would be the actual path forward. 

That she could reach out to her… and make her understand.

She looked so frail with her slender arms, even if just a little thicker than she remembered them, her white hair and silvery skin. A precious doll to cherish forever, one that she was supposed to give everything for, and had done so for years. 

And now they could finally begin to understand one another.

She had to see. Had to understand. She couldn’t have copied these memories, made them anew from scratch. A feat like that was beyond the most powerful of the Augurs. And she’d never, ever do something like that to Sadja.

No matter how much she wanted to just walk up to her and touch her again.

Hold her against her body. 

Forehead against forehead.

Breath into breath mingling. 

Like they had done for so many nights, sleeping next to each other, waiting for the dream of dawn and release. 

“I know it’s the same,” Sadja murmured, looking at the cell. “I used to be in that cell. I remember the little scratches on the floor, and the marks on the wall! You couldn’t have made them up, could you?”

“I did not,” she replied shaking her head. “For every detail, I have to use up more and more of my mental capacity. At the end, recreating a perfect phantom of a memory is not possible. There’s always something that gives it away. If these were fake memories, you wouldn’t feel anything for them.”

“I… feel?” Sadja’s hands cupped the centre of her chest. “I don’t know how… or why. It’s weird seeing myself like that. I know I have been little once, younger. But never like this. How could all these memories of yours have disappeared?”

“I have a working theory,” she said, waving a hand, and another mindscape came swirling in the place of the one they had just visited. 

This was it. 

It was an empty, white room, holding two beds. On the one to the left lay Sadja, sleeping. Sedated. She breathed in shorts spurts even as her eyes moved behind her eyelids, trying to escape the induced sleep, the chained nightmare, that held her against that bed. Leather and steel straps held her in. 

On the bed next to her sat Elissa, looking at her, breathing hard. Her slim chest heaved back and forth, her eyes as glitchy as ever. 

“What are you doing to her?” She called onto a figure who was not yet visible.

“Why, it’s all just a checkup,” replied a sweet voice.

Sadja started. The ears on her head drooped and her tail hung limp next to her right leg as her head began to shake slowly. 

Verna walked in. Her robe was already lined black and gold, meaning she had ascended to High Seer. This was a few years before she took Elissa as her official pupil and she was whisked off to the Novitiate. 

“Your friend’s body is much different from yours,” she explained running a finger down Sadja’s arm, where it displayed the first of the hundreds of pockmarks that would end up cratering her skin. “Just as yours is unique to yourself. You are two very interesting girls, that’s for sure. You are called to a greater purpose and we are working towards that.”

“What kind of purpose? She’s in pain! Why are you doing this to us? I don’t want to keep moving things with my mind anymore. Please let us go! Let her go!”

Verna clicked her tongue, sitting down next to Elissa and taking her hands into her own. 

“I can’t do anything like that. It’s a dangerous world out there, and you two aren’t going to get hurt under my watch. Isn’t it better to just stay here with me? You two get clothes, food, time to yourselves, and something great to look up to. Isn’t it better to just try to be a big happy family?”

She ran her fingers through Elissa’s hair, and present-time Augur felt her cheeks redden with shame at the way she leaned into the touch. She had not known anything else.

Sadja balled her fists and her ears stood up straight once again in anger. 

“She should not have touched you! Either of us! She was…” her blue eyes glistened. “She was not supposed to do anything like that! She betrayed us! Time and time again, only because she wanted my blood and you…”

“My sight. She wanted my sight,” she replied pointing at her blindfold. 

“Then she just stole and stole and stole from us and all she gave back were lies! She even…” she bit her lip, but continued, “she revealed to me she let me go. Just like that, because she wanted me to fall into despair and tell her she was right, go back to her like… like a pet…” Sadja fell on her knees, shaken by sobs. “Why couldn’t she just hold me? Hold us? That’s all… that’s all I ever asked…”

“I’m sorry.” Elissa reached her. “I did all I could. I’m sorry it was never enough.” She slipped her into an embrace, and for the first time in forever, Sadja’s arms reached back. She tentatively set her hands over her shoulders, as if trying to see if she fit into such a thing. 

And for the time being, maybe, just maybe… she could.

Pic by BlazeKraze


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