Sadja winced, but stood up. She drank from the flask Hunter gave her, and she shielded her eyes from the wall of flames that roared nearby, scattering Eerie all about as the flames began to shift from their silver color to a more natural golden-red. She smelled the horribly-sweet scent of burned flesh, mixed with oil, fear and sorrow.
But then someone reached for her.
“You learned very well,” Hunter hushed her, pulling her close in a hug. He ran his fingers through her hair and she hugged him back, trying if possible to make this moment last forever.
It wouldn’t, she knew it wouldn’t, but she tried to fix in her mind how well her body rested against his own, how their scents mixed: fear, apprehension, tenderness. A heady melange that made her head spin and her heart beat a little faster – who knew how much part his potion had in that. “That was incredible,” he said and her tail did a little flop of happiness at the praise. “Are you alright?”
“I am,” she mouthed against his collarbone, light as snowflakes. “I am finally using my blood for something good.”
He grinned and put a kiss on her head.
“Try to make it last, though. I don’t want to risk losing you again.”
“I will! And we will get over this night.”
They turned as they did, their hands brushed. Sadja’s fingers slipped against his palm, and he held it in his own.
The flames roared on. The wall of Eerie stumbled upon itself, unable to react with the swiftness necessary to overcome the flames, even as the Fae looked at them with rage etched on its twisted face.
This changes nothing, it hissed in Hunter’s mind.
And yet, as the flames raged and he pulled Sadja away from the frontline, running back to the barricades, it seemed like it could.
Cloria rubbed her hands together. It was getting colder and colder, and the wall of flames did not do much besides stinging her eyes with how bright it was.
“What in the Spirits’ name was that girl?” Bernardo hushed next to her. “Is that the Hunter’s dog?”
“The Hunter’s dog?” She asked quirking an eyebrow.
“Heh, it’s a nickname.”
“She’s not a dog. She’s a wolf. Or whatever… she’s a good girl and that’s what matters.”
“And he hid something like that all the time? With power like that…”
“Shut up,” she cut him off with a freezing jab. “You don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I said shut up or when this night is over you are sleeping on the couch.”
Marina, next to them, snickered.
“Listen to your lady, will you.”
Cloria grinned back at her fellow girl, shook her head and focused on the iron sight of her rifle. She had never been big on shooting – always preferred a more hands-on approach to thing, even to the Hunt. But she could appreciate staying here, behind the frontline and away from the wall of burning, howling flesh that was collapsing under the weight of its own pain.
“Was it that bad last time?” She asked.
“Not nearly as much,” Marina replied in a whisper, passing her fingers over her bone necklace. “Even with your little friend over there…”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” she replied, closing her eyes for a moment. There was a faint buzzing at the edge of the far and few Threads that still bothered to reach out to her, like the mangy animals that stumbled on the tail end of a herd. Still, even those frayed Threads did vibrate with excitement. “Something is about to happen.”
“Something happens at every moment, chief. You’ll have to be more specific.”
“Not with the Eerie. It’s… wait, is that-“
She did not finish that line. From beneath her feet, came an echoing metal rumble and the entire town shivered as something huge began to shift in its depths.
People could marvel at Sadja all they liked, but the little wolf-girl had nothing on the town’s Augur, Cloria decided as she braced for impact.
It wasn’t exactly weight what she was moving.
She perceived it in her mindscape, quaking against her push, refusing to fall into the perfect over-position she wanted it to, resisting with all its might, like if she was screaming at the color red to turn blue, just because, or to the sea to stop moving.
That was, after all, the job of a Vestal.
To move things around. Pull strings, coil them around her fingers and cut them.
It was not just weight.
It was how that weight could fall, in an endless ocean of falling tiles, each larger than the one before – and if moving a coin was simple enough, this thing might as well been the moon itself. But Elissa had something this metal did not: determination. And she was doing this for a reason, while the counterweight just lay there lazily, simply obeying the stupid laws of nature that had allowed it an early retirement.
But she was doing this for her engineer friends – to see her happy faces again when she came out. For Arguta, to finally see the old woman impressed for once.
And to see Sadja smile at her and hold her hand. She’d need time to recover and heal, but the wolf-girl would be too impressed with her, and she’d be there for her. She did not even want to check, it would happen. She just knew it.
Was this how people felt, without being able to look into the future? They just… acted?
The kind of foolish that could change the world.
Grinding her teeth, as blood began to spill down her nose and onto her curled lip, Elissa dug her nails so deep into her fists that they began to ache. She did not care.
The echoes of her pull on the Threads started to make them fray at the edges, turning random pieces of metal into rust, making them shift between chaotic shapes, fly off and against each other, in ripples of possible realities mindlessly collapsing onto each other.
She did not care.
All that mattered was to push. And to keep pushing.
Pic by Raging Ent