The Slow Stars And Quick – Post-Apocalypse One Shot

Hope is the most dangerous thing. 

Dangerous enough, for young Verna, to risk her life and limb (and more importantly, position) to jump on a boat to the mainland. But she couldn’t miss this chance, not once she had perceived it raw and burning at the edge of her Foresight. 

As for escaping unseen from the Council and the prying eyes of the other Novices, she had just to pull on a series of Threads. 

On a sleepless night, she stood up from her bed and danced around the other Novices, making sure to always follow the step that would make the least noise, the one that would make her the most invisible to prying eyes. 

She walked past arches and corridors, pulling her shadow tight behind her, dressed in light brown clothing. The floating city creaked and sloshed around her, protected by its fine sea mist. 

She coiled her Thread around her, making sure that if any other Augur looked her way, she’d appear like a rushing shadow or a reflection on a puddle. 

Her usual smirk appeared on her lips as her heart picked up pace. She couldn’t hide it: in her sixteen years of age, few things had ever given her as much pleasure as when a plan comes together. 

She reached for the closest marina, jumping on a narrow boat and with a gesture of her hand the ropes holding it together just decided to unravel by themselves. The wind picked up and her fragile vessel quickly creaked past the pier and onto the open sea. She recited her verses and passed her hands over the edge of the boat, to avoid the acidic water from ruining the wood. Getting lost at sea would be problematic even for her, but only a few of the Threads pointed in that direction. She closed her eyes, focusing her Sight onto what awaited for her once she landed, and the decision that had spurred this crazy choice. 

It had happened just two days before – she could still see it clear as day in her memory: a streak of burning fire that cleaved the night in two. A meteor that flew past Venexia and landed straight onto the mainland, to the east. 

She had been one of the few to raise her eyes to look at her – most Augurs would understand that whatever it was, it was not a challenge nor a threat and it might be, at most, something pretty to look up. Surely not as important as peering into the future. 

But to her who could See a tad farther than her dull companions, that meteor spoke of a promise. 

One sleepless night later, spent in the observatorium calculating the possible orbit of the object, had cleared any doubt. 

It was one of the fast stars. 

And as Verna peered into the Threads, she felt like she was coming closer to unveiling a century-long mystery. 


She touched land after about one hour of sailing, between the mist-filled islands and banks of what had once been the Dalmatian coast. She sailed through the ruined walls of lost settlements. So close to the Sea there was no trace of Eerie, and even though she felt confident enough in her abilities she’d likely survive an encounter with monsters or even a high-ranking Fae, she did not plan to perish before getting her due seat as the High Seer. In a way, this was a tiny test on her way to greatness and to finally provide Mankind a way to fight back. She gritted her teeth as she pushed the tiny vessel through the treacherous currents, always making sure to bend her boat this way or that, finding the most advantageous tide. 

At last, she reached a dusty beach that curved like a hook, following the tug of the Threads and a column of grey smoke that obscured the stars, both the slow and the quick ones.

Breathing softly in the damp air, Verna left the boat and walked through the reeds and the sand, ascending towards the place from where the smoke and the acrid fumes of the crash came to tickle her nose. She shielded her ice-blue eyes and climbed to reach a field of ash and cinder, covered in burning rubble. It wasn’t a perfect circle, more like an egg-shaped area that had carved a drawing of destruction into the land. 

She grinned. This was it. 

The Threads squirmed in her mind, oozing oil and grease and gold as they shivered like eager pedipalps – they guided her as she strode through the ash, stumbling at every other step but proceeding towards the center of the crater. 

There she met with a half-cracked sphere, steaming with noxious fumes. She coughed and waved her hand, a sudden bout of wind dispersing most of them and clearing up the insides. It was a collection of wires, plates, tubes, glass shards and other magnificent artifacts she did not understand. 

No wonder that, Bittersea or no Bittersea, the Forest was steering clear of this place. Here the influence of the Wicked Fae felt almost as far as the day the cities of old were still intact. 

Verna, her heat beating fast, closed in to a spot in the half-sphere where something grey and charred rested inside the remnants of a cylinder. 

She removed the layers of sooth, revealing burnt skin, most likely destroyed if not in the impact then in the fire. Whatever it was, the skeleton was far from human. Ripping apart the skin, she found plastic and metal together with skin, bone and flesh. That light of hope burned clearer in her chest. Oh, Spirits. 

She laughed, exploring the corpse, tugging the plastic material away from its strangely-thin bones. Whatever this thing was, the Erepeople had not been making them idly. 

She had long heard about things like these: the lost stations put on orbit, far from the grasp of the Queen of Thorns, where Her powers were naught and the might of the industrial civilization could continue, unhindered. 

Some of them had already fallen. 

And to reach them would be a task beyond even the powers of all the Vestals put together. 

But maybe, just maybe… she might found some that had already crashed. 

And if – and when – she did…

“The Joyous Work continues,” she murmured, lifting the dead torso and parading it about. 

The echo of her hopeful laughter scattered through the burning embers of the forgotten station.

Pic by Marcos Dab

Author’s Notes: I know I’m a hack for leaving you hanging right at the end of a months-long web novel, but I really missed writing Verna. I hope you liked this little nostalgia piece about one of my favorite villains. If this is your first time here, know she’s a main character of my dark fantasy/post-apocalyptic web novel Patina, which you can start reading here. At any rate, thanks for reading!


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: