Patina – Chapter 157

By morning it was time to rebuild.

No matter Fortunato’s hunch about the town being more or less safe from now on, decades of experiences trumped any lovely sentiment like that. And the morning dawned on the embers of a half-destroyed town. 

The outer districts were all but destroyed, reduced to little more than rubble and ashes and puddles of dissolving cursed flesh.

As luck would have it, the curtain of clouds did not come back and the sun shone on a crisp but somewhat warmer day of winter. 

It also carried the groans of the wounded, the cries of the mourning and the silence of the dead.

In a single night without defenses the town had lost one hundred and sixty-five people, and more would likely add to the count as the wounds took their toll on them. 

Sadja couldn’t tell she knew those people who had died very well. In fact, she felt the loss more like a far-off ache, a bad news that had occurred to someone else. But she did feel it in the laments and the empty looks that surrounded the Furnace District. 

As for herself, she had been forbidden from leaving her bed until she recovered – which meant looking up at the ceiling from Arguta’s couch and hoping she’d see him soon enough. 

He had to leave for the Temple, which did not mean good news. And she knew that bad news would always come, but so soon? She only wanted to lay with him and cuddle and enjoy his fingers through her hair (and maybe let him stroke her tail if she felt bold), but she was denied even that. An ashen-faced Arguta had kidnapped him as he woke up and he only had time to put a brief kiss on her fingertips, leaving her to rest.

And to think. 

She had not believed the forest that dangerous. 

That night, with the assault, the invasion of her mind by the Fae – she had managed to push him away, and in her rage she felt like she had done a good enough job, but once the euphoria of victory had passed she still felt the venomous ache of its touch lingering in her mind. 

She could understand Verna a little better, and that scared her a bit. No wonder they had wanted to get rid of the Old Country at any cost. 

Which also meant she was supposed to leave anyway. Words would come out about her blood, and even though she had decided to share of her own free will, she had a hint that come next autumn people would begin to press her for help. 

Couldn’t blame them. 

She’d do the same. 

But that was not her life. And even more so after last night, leaving these parts sounded more and more appealing. 

At least Hunt- Fortunato seemed to share her desires. 

What could still hold him around these parts? He had made peace with his wife (and her heart was oh so much lighter for that) and shared his name with her. 

His actual name.

“Fortunato,” she whispered feeling the shape it made against her lips. She had yet to try to write it down, look at the letters take form. She’d do as soon as her arms stopped feeling like they had been covered in lead. 

But yes, a few months (weeks, really) and then she could finally leave.

And for the first time, she would leave with another. 

She was looking up to that. 

Sadja let a deep sigh escape from her lips as she scooted a little further down under the blankets. She was still more or less out of it, and had to regenerate all the blood she had lost. 

Also, there were bigger problems she’d have to face in the future.

But she wouldn’t face them alone. 

That at least guaranteed a bit of hope.

She turned to look out of the window, at the many people moving back and forth as they helped to clean up and restore the town to a semblance of normalcy, prompted to do so before the next sunset. 

She’d get some rest and then she’d go out to see if she could lend some help. 

What was the point to sleep alone, on her own, anymore?


The Hunter did not recognize the Temple. The marble had been cracked in many spots by the Generator’s convulsions, and he walked on poodles of falling water from the molten snow. It was a disaster, but the Augur was even worse.

They had laid Elissa in a shallow pool of holy water, one that used to be a mere clean-up basin, and that now housed her ruined body. Each breath was a rasp. 

They had not covered her skin, so she lay in the water with flakes of burnt flesh floating about. The flesh beneath was rosy, almost-white, and he was surprised she was not screaming in pain. 

Then again, he doubted she still had nerves there. 

“What happened,” he groaned. Arguta had pulled him out of bed expecting him to be somewhat fresh and at the ready, but truth was he had yet to process the night and the entirety of what happened. 

He had seen Lenora again. Said goodbye. Shared his actual name with Sadja. 

Even thought it felt weird to think of himself as ‘Fortunato’ once more.

Habits were hard to shed.

But that was a worry for another day. 

“I have no idea,” Arguta groaned, pulling on the hem of her dress with her wrinkly hands. “I don’t know how her kind works. She just went in and then got out. She must have had a plan! We didn’t think…”

“You did not think she would end up like this,” he said in an accusatory tone. He shook his head. “Augurs are not gods.”

“She makes me doubt sometimes,” Arguta muttered. 

He walked closer to the pool. The old smith had always lived on a completely different branch from the world of Vestals and holy water. Her hopes and beliefs rested in iron and fire. 

To hear her say those words reminded him of what happened last night.

And how much they had taken their resident Vestal for granted.

She reeked of burnt flesh.

Her mouth opened in an empty groan as she gurgled in air. 

Fortunato gritted his teeth. Sadja would have to wait for a bit.

“Give me whatever medical equipment you can spare,” he said starting to take off his shirt. “I’ll try to pay her back a favor.”

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Author’s Notes: welcome back to Patina. I hope you did not mind too much the occasional foray into fiction in Italian. It’s going to be an occasional thing at any rate. As for Elissa, sure hope she recovers. Would be a shame otherwise.

After this lat bunch of chapters, the story will be over for good.

I am already thinking about what to write. I hope you’ll keep following me in this crazy journey. Thanks for reading.


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