Patina – Chapter 149

To him, the nightmare just never really ended. It began with Lenora’s takeover and the first time the town had been overrun – and back then the Generator had come back more or less on its own. They had had a chance to fight. Now what chance did he have?

“Leave her alone,” he wheezed, jumping between the twisted corpses, their cursed flesh rising up to meet his slashes. His eyes fixed upon the figure of the grinning Fae, still floating and directing the flow of Eerie onto the barrage. For every explosion that cleaved the night in two there were more and more shadows piling up from the corner, encroaching the defenders, cutting them off from hope. “Leave her alone,” he pleaded. 

It couldn’t end up like this. It wasn’t supposed to. Not when he had just made peace with his past, and found-

She’s fighting back! Cloria’s voice screamed from inside his mind. She’s scared but she can do it! We are all trying to, up here on the barricades. Keep her safe, Hunter! You’re the only one who can. 

He jumped away from the wall of screaming appendages, withdrawing towards Sadja’s panting body. She was still breathing. Her pale face knotted in a frown.

The Fae did not manage to break her mind yet. 

He couldn’t stop.

Not until she could still find a way out. 


“Lift me up,” Cloria groaned, holding onto Bernardo and Marina’s arms as they helped her sit up on her elbows and then on the bench’s edge. “Get me a blindfold. A piece of cloth will be fine.”

He reached for a spare rag, half-covered in blood but at this point what did it matter? Cloria tied it up around her eyes, even though a part of her heart raged at the gesture. What was she doing? She was betraying everything she had been fighting for since she had left the Order!

And then, to double down, she set her hands on her knees, taking in a deep breath and settling into a meditative trance that had been drilled into her head by her instructors back in the day. And repeated time and time again by Valeriana. 

If she could see her now, Cloria hoped she could forgive her just a little more.

“I can’t reach her,” she groaned. “I’m not sure if it’s because she’s in the Generator or she’s trying to keep me out.” 

“What is this stuff?” Marina asked, shaking her head, confused.

“If we survive I’ll be happy to explain,” Cloria grunted, gritting her teeth. More questions were not exactly what she needed… 

She couldn’t talk to Elissa. Trying to reach her would be like for a moth to fly up to the sun. 

She turned her Threads around and went to find Sadja – she passed through the defenders, the men and women shooting, screaming, launching grenades and taking care of the wounded. Each of them lived their own personal spiral of tragedy and triumph, entwined in a mortal embrace as the Eerie completed their encirclement, cutting off every hope of escape and pushing the defenders closer and closer behind the last bastion of the Furnace District.

She proceeded towards the Fae, who was still grinning – one of its eyes rolled towards the besieged survivors, the wounded, the fighters and its grin if possible turned even more feral. Lifting one of its hand, a black wind began to roar, starting to disperse the haze of holy water that protected them. 

No! Cloria screamed inwardly while she pulled Thread after Thread like a child who has lost her way home and turns every which way. She could… she had…


The Hunter.

She had learned a while ago that in this story, she was not really a big player. If she had ever been.

But she could help.

She jumped right onto Sadja’s mind, carrying as many Threads as she could with hers – and the impact disheveled her. It was just like that time when she had tried to divine a bit atop the tank-machine they had brought into the forest, and she had perceived the very same malignant gaze.

For a moment she had believed it to be the Heart of the Forest itself, but now she knew better.

This was just the tiniest burning grain of the vast inferno that was the mind of the Queen of Thorns, and yet it seared past her defenses. 

But she pushed through. 

Sadja! She called and past the gnawing darkness of teeth and eyes scraping against her astral body she saw the lonely wolfgirl as she fought with her single silver knife, the only light amidst the sea of utter darkness. Sadja! She called again and the girl turned to look at her. Though she couldn’t certainly condense enough to form an apparition, her ears flipped at the sound of her voice.

It would have to be enough. 


As the night closed its grip around the town, the sea of Eerie howled as one their imminent victory. If there was a Will guiding their hunger or not, it might not even have mattered at that point. The few blinking lights of Belacqua lingered, as shaky as a single candle abandoned to the storm.

And past the overrun walls of the town, past the hills of slain that covered the blackened snow, something else slithered in: a long sinuous form, running on many stolen limbs, fast and liber, and summoned by a desire deeper than any hunger. 

The once-woman that hung from the waving stalk atop the giant Eerie’s body wailed softly in the wind, its eyes flashing with a stronger longing than that of setting its carriage-body deep into flesh or extend the domain of the Forest.

As it let out a breathy call of loooohve, the Eerie that used to be Augur Lenora climbed past the walls, screamed as it passed through the crimson and silver wards in a burst of flames and then, as they ran over its charred body, dashed towards the besieged streets, running over corpses and still-alive Eerie. 

At long last, it had come back home.

Pic by Jolly D

Author’s Notes: It’s never easy to complete something. Even less so like this. Sometimes you just have to let it die, but this time you have to kill it. I’ll talk more about this soon. In the meantime, thanks for reading. Especially if you read since the beginning.


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