Patina – Chapter 127

Sadja assisted as Hunter skinned the huge Timberwolf. It was a beautiful creature, and one of the few beasts she had seen that still held to its natural proportions. 

By assisting, that meant she stood a few paces away, silver arrow cocked to her bow, looking for any hostiles that might like to get the jump on them. The snow around them was already covered in the hissing corpses of Eerie, the acrid smell of smoke lingering in the air even long after they had stopped burning. 

He chuckled, pulling apart a large slab of skin with a wet tearing sound that made Sadja cringe.

“I never got to tell you this. The day Verna hired me, I had been trying to sell some wolf pelts like these.”

“Hm,” she replied. Why did he want to talk about Verna right now? Couldn’t some Eerie jump out of the snow to attack them right then?


She shifted back and forth in her boots. Shame. 

“It feels strange to be here doing the same, months later.” He caught her expression and let go of the pelt, his hands still stained with the beast’s red blood. “Something off?”

“I don’t really like to talk about it,” she groaned. “It’s in the past and I don’t really like to talk about the past.” Her silver blood arrow wavered and squirmed against her bow, losing a bit of its shape.

“It was just a little detail that occurred to me,” he said going back to work. “I suppose it feels strange going back to before all this started. Want to talk about the future?”

She let go the breath she held in her chest.

“Yes, thanks. I would prefer.”

“I see…” he pulled off another slab of skin and sat on the wolf’s corpse, looking up at the overcast sky. “Seeing the sun would be nice. We’re past the midst of winter. Did you know that it was around these days that Erepeople used to celebrate new year?”

She frowned. She read something about it, but it did not really make sense to her, just like many other things from that bygone age (they did achieve unrivaled heights in canned food, though).

“I never understood why,” she said. She closed her eyes for a moment and felt their surroundings. No Eerie or beast. And the Will Hunter had been so tense about, the Queen, she had not felt since that time She had whispered in her ear. 

I do not want to disappear.

The more she learned about the gone people and their disappeared empires, the more she found the irony in those words. 

But it did work for her in the end. 

She turned the arrow into a sphere of blood and made it dance between her extended fingers as she sat down next to Hunter, looking at the wolf. 

“I still don’t understand a lot of things. Isn’t it better to do it like us, in September just before the Queen starts to call onto the Tide?”

“There used to be a world without Fae,” he replied, pulling his gaze back onto her, with such an intensity that she felt her cheeks prickle with heat. “Maybe there will be again, one day.”

“Would you like to?”

He grinned.

“I have avoided the ire of the Queen of Thorns so far. Wouldn’t start now.”

“I don’t know how to feel about that. I would like a more peaceful world. Then I could move from place to place with less fear,” she mused, drawing her knees to her chest as she used to do when she was still an unarmed, untrained little girl who could only run away, “but I wouldn’t have met you without it. I would probably still be up there.” She pointed at the sky. Maybe it would have been for the better… under a certain point of view. She would have never felt the betrayal, the pain, the sorrow she had to deal with ever since she opened her eyes and touched Verna’s arms. 

But she also would have just spent her entire life sleeping, unaware. 

“We still don’t know if that’s actually where you come from,” he rebutted. He seemed to hesitate and her eras perked up at the change in his demeanor. “I was the same,” he said at last in a long breath. “Old Man Salix found me on the edge of the forest. They had no idea where I came from, or who my parents used to be. I was a child of the trees, and thus nobody in Belacqua took me in. They believed I would only bring bad luck to the household. Some could say that prediction did come true.”

“That’s not true!” Sadja barked, pointing her blood sphere at him. “Look at this! You taught me this, and you are the one who brought me back and taught me how to take care of myself!” She crossed her arms over her chest even as the sphere floated about her head. “I refuse to think otherwise!”

“Your vocabulary has really expanded,” he chuckled. “But thanks. I suppose there are a certain number of things I should be grateful for, anyway. Salix’s tutelage is one of them. And Lenora’s love, even though I wasn’t able to protect her in the end.”

“How did…”

He waved his hand.

“The Generator had a hiccup. It stopped working for an entire day and the mists disappeared. The Eerie rushed in, breaking through the walls and tearing the citizens apart. Lenora personally went into the fray and…” he shrugged. “Vestals are not like the rest of us. They have one foot on the other side, so to say. They are more… susceptible to certain things.”

“Anyway,” Sadja said flipping her ears, “weren’t we supposed to talk about the future? What will you do when… when the winter is over?” Uh, that strange prickling again. Must be the blood magic, getting to her head. Yes, definitely that and not anything else.

“I don’t think I ever sat down and thought about it.” He scratched his chin. “I would probably take a break from Belacqua. And from Hunting, maybe. I could buy a boat and go sailing down to the market towns around the Bittersea. I have heard the water is still pure in certain parts, you can actually take a bath there.”

“I want to see new places,” Sadja interrupted, “so I wouldn’t be opposed to that! After I go back to see my friends, of course!”

“Yes, you should do that. And I ought to go find my sled. Admitted it’s still in one piece and Eerie did not use that to pick their teeth… but I believed you wanted to travel alone?”

“Yes, I did say that… but sometimes a bit of company is not bad? I mean, I could still give you a hand here and there with your job: as thank-you.”

“I am the one who kidnapped you. You don’t…”

“Listen, just let me do it, alright? I still want to explore the forest, but I feel like I owe you something. Look at this!” She opened her hand and the blood sphere separated in a thousand needles, coming back together a moment later. “I couldn’t do that! You weren’t supposed to teach me that! But you did, so… I think you went above and beyond. I’d like to give something back,” she muttered, hiding her face. 

How come she could feel so hot and uncomfortable in the middle of winter?

“I concede to violence,” he chuckled. “And I would like that. A new adventure. Maybe one where we can take a full night of sleep without getting eaten. Yes, I would like that.”

Sadja’s tail waggled against the snow.

“Would you? You would. Of course!”

“We’ll talk about it when the worst of winter is over. Now come here and give me hand with this pelt. A lot of people need new coats.”

Sadja grimaced, but set the silver blood floating about her head like before and stood up to help.

Pic by


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: