Patina – Chapter 148

Sadja was being eaten alive. She screamed inwardly as laughing mouths bit into her psyche, ripping it off in a thousand direction at once, each bit a flash of pain. The roar of the mind attack went beyond anything she had experienced so far: even Verna’s power was gentler and smoother, this was just onslaught.

But at the same time, she wasn’t the same girl who had folded under Verna’s assault all those months before – and she was still the same girl who had managed to push through it. And with her experience with Hunter, even more. 

She pulled up her defenses, thinking about him, how comfortable it had been to rest in his arms, how proud he was of her. And Cloria! They hadn’t exactly seen eye-to-eye, but the Venatrix was also proud of her. And about her moth-kin people in the forest! How could she go back to meet them if she died here?

Sadja groaned as she pulled back the pieces of her mind the mouths were trying to tear apart: she focused her mind and visualized a body in the screaming void the voice had pulled her into, and she held her knife already. She slashed at the howling air and the bits of silver sparks that they had stolen reconnected with her projected body. 

Still, the thing that held her in its thrall was, she perceived it, impossibly-ancient. The hate and anger and desire of vengeance that stilled from that shadow and the beady eyes gazing into her soul was a twisted rope of spikes and tears that coiled upon itself in the dust of millennia, and from its depths Sadja perceived the screaming cries of century after century after century spent gnawing on the bare-bones of scorn. 

I don’t want this! She managed to scream against the invading will. It was so different from her dream. And was it the same as the Queen? Why did she feel so gentle and so understanding and this monster so hungry and fanatically hateful? She didn’t understand, and only had the time to slash away at the invading mouth as they renewed their assault. I don’t care!

The howling hunger coiled around her once more. 


The Hunter roared into battle, slashing away with abandon, glistening blades of blood cutting off pieces upon pieces of Eerie, to the point he did not even care what he hit, if it was limb, head, tail or claw or teeth: everything had to fall.

Sadja!” He screamed, turning to take a look at the fallen girl. Her eyes moved behind her shut eyelids like in a horrible nightmare as she struggled against the invader. 

But the girl was a fighter. She had always been. She wouldn’t fall from something as trivial as a Fae targeting her by itself. 

He could get into her mind and help her, but with the tide of Eerie reaching them, he really couldn’t. Each strike of his blades ached more and each time he cut off an assailant his heart jumped in relief, but three more were always juts behind, and the Fae cackled in its horrible language.

All he could do was trying to buy her a little more time. 

He had to put his faith in her.

And, Spirits willing, in Elissa as well. 


Augur training did involve some basic notions of science in its curriculum, but for the vast majority of Vestals, that would never grow past the memory of a scary test at the end of the year. There was the occasional student who took a liking to it and would join the engineering guilds of the floating city to take care of its engines and its weapons, but it was a rare occurrence.

Elissa had not been one of these rare occurrences. While she did respect the power and industrial knowledge of the Ereworld, she had never felt drawn to it, and most of the notions that their teachers had put into her mind had dulled. 

Verna also did not take time to teach her anything about science of technology. She guarded her secrets closer than her oily, clockwork heart.

Thus she did not really understand how Coronite worked.

Just a gut feeling. 

But first, the contingency lock. 

She breathed out in one long sight, emptying her lungs and setting her hands over her knees. 

She had done something like this before, when she had forcibly cut a part of her psyche to hide it from her teacher – and that had worked, hadn’t it?

So now she would just have to do the same. She plunged into her inner depths and began to collect everything that made her… her. Memories, feelings, sensations, the shape of her body and the burning weight of her need to pass her fingers through white hair and feel blue eyes gently looking back at her. 

Each memory a hook. Each feeling a ribbon. Each truth a pulley. 

She set them deep into her own essence, like pushing needles into a mannequin, covering it with Threads. A true stamp of what she was, to be echoed through the futures, the moment an unruly and disastrous present befell her. The kind of present that came from trying to rekindle the mother of all furnaces from the inside.

Gulping, she checked ad re-checked the threads, but she couldn’t find a fault. She had done it all perfectly on the first try. 

Verna would have been proud. 

If she could feel anything like that for her.

But all that was on the past. She had to focus on better days. Days to share with Sadja.
As soon as she came out of here.

She would.

She did not check the Threads on that.

Never tell her the odds.

Her heart beat so fast as she placed the contingencies onto herself and then released, unraveling her present into a thousand possible futures – each of them would just pull her away from her imminent destruction just before it happened. 

It led her panting, her head heavy and feeling like she had just ran through a mile of deep snow. 

But she was almost there.

Almost there.

Now she only had to stat the reaction.

Her back gently rested against the wall while she murmured words lost to time and held a few grains of the white substance in her palm. 

With each syllable, the tiny pellets of Coronite began to shift and glow.

Pic by Darkfang


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