Patina – Chapter 104

Amarco. The Constable’s name was Amarco. The Hunter followed him, circling the outer wall and talking with workers and repairmen as they tinkered and labored putting the defenses back up, patching over blasted pipelines, drawing fetishes and lines of tinkling bones over the top, filling pressurized holy water tanks, and doing everything and anything to keep the town alive. 

It was, as always, a team effort. 

He stuck out like a bent nail. Relatively safe under the protection of his cape, he did all he could to make him small and uninteresting, his fingers trembling, his heart thrumming against the bones of his chest and his blood rumbling through his ears. 

His right eye twitched as well. What a swell day for a parade through the city. 

“Hmhm, I see,” Amarco nodded, pointing out a few more spots to reinforce in the drawing of that wall section. “Patch back up section 22A and 23A. If another attack comes, we’ll have to focus crossfire in that direction, better safe than dead.”

“Aye,” the worker nodded. “And praise be the Generator.”

Amarco chuckled.

“Praise it be. And the Augur that keeps it going, of course.”

The workers nodded and dispersed, each of them falling into place like a river fanning out into a delta. The Hunter watched them go at it. Why did he feel like he could never fit in such a place? He had always lived outside the circle of walls, weird apprentice to a weirder man, and the few times he was allowed in was to slide into the resident Augur’s arms, spitting in the face of a hundred years of tradition.

Oh, of course, he could still tell himself he was still doing his job: killing the most dangerous Eerie, hunting down those the town couldn’t face by itself, laying down his life for them if need may arise. 

In practice, when need did arise, he had failed.

“Chin up,” the Constable patted him on the back. “We have yet more things to see, more people to meet.”

“…do we?” He hissed. He had asked for a job, not torture.

“You more than I do. I remember you, Hunter,” he chuckled at his started expression. “The times may change, but your expression is always the same. Year after year, winter after winter, you try to care about us at the farthest possible distance. We have always received the right shipment of materials, goods, tools, protective gear, food and weapons, no matter what. It’s not all thanks to generous citizens or concerned,” and he waved his quote, “merchants from the floating city who wished to remain anonymous.”

He pulled his cape taut. Had it been that obvious?

“You surely thought you’d been extremely clever. You just down’t know that much about shipment tags and registration numbers… I suppose that’s why you’re Belacqua’s Hunter and I’m its Constable.”

“You surely did a better job than I ever did.”

He stopped walking and regarded the town, slowly moving his gaze from one rooftop to another. 

“I remember the day the walls fell down,” he whispered. “I do, every night. Just before hitting the bed, I think about every rivet, every pipeline, every point of pressure that could fall. All the men and women I talk with every day, depending on me. Not to make a mistake, not to let them down. Which has happened. And it will keep happening. There’s an indent on my pillow that looks exactly like the face you are making, Hunter. You’re not the only one with burden-shaped shoulders.”

“But I was the one who was supposed to fight. Old Man Salix and I. We couldn’t… overwhelmed. You counted on us to keep the town safe and when push come to shove…”

“As I said, I remember that day. I remember Old Man Salix flashing his axe on a mountain of corpses, and I remember as he kept swinging even when his upper and lower body parted ways. I remember a much younger boy’s black scream. And I remember our Augur.” He turned his eyes at the temple. “Elissa is a worthy replacement, but she’s been missed.”

The Hunter bit his lips and nodded. 

“The hole in your chest has the perfect size and shape for you. Just like the hole in mine fits me perfectly, Hunter. You did not sit on your ass parading through town and putting flowers on tombs. You went right on the Hunt, for six years, and for six years I have never seen so few Eerie around here. For six years, between you and Elissa’s holy water, Belacqua has never been safer.”

It was like Amarco had put a hook through his bowels and twisted. His fingers trembled and his right eye pulsed with needle-like pain. He cupped it as he considered the man’s words. 

But… he was the one to blame, wasn’t he? He was the one who was at fault there. He did not stop the Tide. 

“No man can face the storm alone,” Amarco said, pulling him in. “We are in this together. The whole town, in fact. Half the steel plates that cover the walls have your shipping registration number on them. Dozens of children have received support thanks to the donations from your Hunts. And in Spring we can walk outside in relative safety, knowing the worst has already been dealt with. Everybody in town knows your name, Hunter. On their head or on the head of their children.” He chuckled. “So, how about we meet a few more of them? Then we can actually see where you can be more useful, son.”

His head dizzy with everything he had said, his eyes prickly (and not due to the overuse of blood magic), the Hunter nodded, feeling like in a dream. On unsteady steps, he let the old man lead him away from the wall and into the town proper. His heart felt like it had been stabbed, but maybe it was not just blood spilling out. Black, sticky guilt ran all over his torso, leaving a warm and caring heat in its wake. 

Maybe, for the first time in six years, he was indeed coming home. 


Something moved through the snow in the blasted city. It pulled itself forward by grasping at the frozen ground, its claws drawing grinding sounds on the ice. It might have looked like a woman, save for it charred skin, the long tongue rolling out of its mouth, the rest of its body ending in a thick stalk that spilled black ichor. 

And yet it persisted. 

Pieces of other Eerie, munched along the way, sprouted from its cursed lips. 

“…ooohve,” it panted, holding up a hand as if it could grasp onto something that wasn’t there. 

The Tide had long-since left it behind. Broken and battered as it was, it would need the long sleep of Spring to recover most of its strength.

But it did not care. Something different than the call of the forest drew it forward.

Towards the south. Towards the place where everything had begun. 

Spitting and cursing, bellowing half-eaten words of sorrow onto the empty air, the Eerie that had once been Augur Lenora clawed its way back home. 

Pic by Nightmare


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: