Patina – Chapter 138

As night proceeded, the assault fell into a routine of ebb and flow. The people of Belacqua on the barricades emptied their arsenal of bullets, holy water grenades and fire bombs, lighting the dark in crimson and golden bursts of flames as the Eerie’s shrieks rose into the freezing air.

With each time more monstrous corpses filled the breach, and each time they were rebuked, falling back into darkness and leaving a line of cursed and burnt flesh reaching higher and higher to the defense positions. 

And for each Eerie that fell, a hundred could come – it seems the entire Forest was determined to turn the city into a hive of syphoned death. But for each man who fell, all they could do was to carry his body to safety, if he was at hand’s reach. 

Many though, they had to pelter with firebombs before the Eerie could use it to nourish themselves. Or worse, wait for the Fae to turn it into one of them. 

The Hunter winced watching a middle-aged woman being pulled into the skittering clattering maw of a huge Eerie, shaking and crying, her knife slashing its meat but to no avail. 

Then she popped one of her firebombs open. Closed her eyes. 

And they went up in a booming flower of flame. 

Sadja watched it go off with a shiver reverberating through her skin. She remembered when the Eerie had bit onto her skin – she still bore those marks, the rows of teeth that had pierced her – but it had been forced to let go at once, as her blood burnt through its flesh. 

This woman didn’t have that chance. 

Gritting her teeth, even as her head swam with blood loss for a moment, she pulled up her bow and created another, much thicker, silver arrow, letting go in the middle of the flood of creatures squeezing through the breach. 

The Hunter watched it go – the arrow burst into a clouds of silver drops and fell like incendiary rain all over the breach, coating it in a ring of silver flames that expanded and burned through the advancing wall of Eerie, scattering them through the space before the gate and cutting down, at least for a while, their advance. 

Sadja swooned and fell to her knees, panting. Her bow disappeared and her blood withdrew into her wound. 

Panting and cursing, the Hunter took off his coat and reached for her, pushing away people who looked at her in awe. He covered with his coat and looked back at the waning assault. They might have gathered a bit of time. 

But they couldn’t stay there much longer. 

The Constable, from its observation spot behind the cannon batteries, sounded a horn of retreat and wide burning signals lit up the secondary defense line. 

Sadja gave him a smile – she tried to stand up, but she fell again, scraping her elbows on the frozen ground.

“Come on,” Hunter said picking her up and the contact of his body against her own gave her back a tad of strength. She had… did she manage to get them a bit of time?

“I am not sure how much,” he replied. Maybe it was a coincidence, or maybe their blood arts did become more attuned than she had expected. 

One by one, many picking up the wounded and the lighter of the dead, the people of Belacqua began to fall back – covered by jets of holy water and blasting fire bombs to slow down the advance of the Eerie, the black tide nevertheless still spilled through the burning breach, endless and hungry. Sadja smelled the charred smell of corpses, the tangy smell of fear, and she held onto Hunter as he ran towards the second line of fortified positions. 

Her mind went back to the first time he had carried her like this – how quickly did thing change, and how much. 

“I can fight,” she murmured, maybe more to herself than to him. 

“I am sure you can. But we’ll need some time to recover. I’m afraid the night still has some surprises in store for us.”

She had no idea what could be worse than this. But then the tales of Fae and what she had seen in the blasted cities came back to nip at her ankles, and she anxiously glanced behind – watching powerless as the flood of contorted and twisted bodies ran through buildings and homes, worming their way in to try and find anything alive and crunchy to satiate, for the time of a bite, their endless hunger.

The fires kept burning. 


Elissa walked down to the Generator shaft – by now she felt like she knew these stairs, these twisting corridors, the metal biting against her skin, making her feel sick and even more tired than she did when she had come out of the Temple.

At least she was alone now. Maybe it was the metal? But no, if something like that was enough to keep the influence of the Forest out, mankind might as well have won the war. 

Maybe she had just been granted a moment of peace, no matter how shortly it may last.

She had to get over it and help Sadja – help the others… in any way she could. Even if her powers were waning fast, and she had never known any other way to help people other than letting them use her skills like they wanted. Would it be enough this time?

Stumbling every other step, her body hitting the metal walls and wincing with pain at the touch of freezing-heat it spread over her skin, Elissa walked down to chase after a solution. 


And beyond the walls of the town, as more and more Eerie caught sign of the open path and the bounty of fresh meat and delectable souls to be integrated and devoured, tiny motes of the Will that lived in every leaf and under every root turned to watch the scene unfold. They were ancient. Some of them even used to belong to the Four Houses, before the undoing of the world and the coming of their Queen. But now a different thirst for revenge animated them – and chapped lips pulled revealing rows of needle-like teeth, black vitreous eyes widening in awe at the chance to relive once again the very last days of the last war, when they had managed to throw all their enemies into the thrice-cursed Sea. 

One by one, the scattered figures of the Fae, lanky and stretched walking on stick-like legs and shaking their branches-like horns, began to walk towards Belacqua. 

And behind them, from the North, a certain Eerie devoured and chased after its half-siblings – the corpse of a once-woman hissed in a thirsty whisper about its forgotten love, and how they would be reunited at any moment.

Ever closer, now.

Pic by The_Panda


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