Patina – Chapter 159

Fortunato did not know exactly what to expect when he began to use Cruoromancy on Elissa. He laid next to her on a thin mattress, the thin tubes connecting his scarred flesh to her charred one. He made sure to plunge the needles deep into her skin, at this point her nerves were likely completely gone.

Would she ever recover her sensitivity?
A worry for another time, after he made sure to help her.

He had already tried it with Cloria, but the Venatrix’s Sight powers were so slight and she was under so much shock already that it had not been much a problem at the time.

He expected healing Elissa would mean push his own blood against the immense extension of her innate power. He took in a deep breath and then plunged into the mindscape, already gathering enough power his veins were glowing crimson. He’d have to make a breach, find a point where he could break through and pierce her defenses. Even if it was for her own good, it would be far from easy. When was anything ever easy?

But he owed her as much as more. He perceived her mind, ragged, little more than a series of pained flashes floating in a sea of unawareness after what she had been through. He coiled his blood into a spear and readied the strike. He wouldn’t have more than one chance.

I’m coming in, he said, if only to warn her.

And that was why Fortunato ripped through the ghost-thin defenses of her mind and tore a hole past the lattice-like film that covered them, sort of when he misjudged a box’s weight and end up lifting it way past his head.

What… what happened here? What happened to you?

He looked around. Elissa’s inner world was a ruin etched on the barren foundation of her soul. Tall white towers and arches of stone lay like drunken seracs. The ceiling showed a great hole looking up to the vastness of the night sky.

And through it all, he did not feel the slightest hint of any power that could surpass his own. No power at all.

What madness took you? Elissa, what have you done?


“Something’s wrong,” muttered Cloria as they entered the Temple. They met with a few engineers who nodded at their coming, their curious gazes following Sadja and her swinging tail. Murmurs followed in their wake even as Cloria’s stride quickened. “I can’t feel her. Not even a wink. Not even so close.”

“What do you mean?”

“I am not sure yet, but the Hunter is right there,” she said pointing behind a corner. They found Fortunato laying on a makeshift bed and Sadja shuddered at the sight of the tubes linking his body with-

Spirits,” she gasped, covering her mouth with her hands.

“May my bones be crushed,” Cloria cursed under her breath at the sight before them. The body laying in the heated holy water might have resembled a person once, it still bore the outline of a young woman. But the skin was a charred mess like that of an Eerie and a thin rasping breath all that came out of her lungs. “What happened? What in the name of all that’s holy happened?”

“Do not shout,” Sadja whimpered pulling on the hem of her shirt. Her ears twitched and fell to the sides of her head.

What had happened to the Augur?

“No wonder I couldn’t perceive her anymore,” Cloria grumbled, walking until she stood on the other side of the pool. She put a hand over Elissa’s head and covered her eyes with the other even as her face twisted in a pained frown. “How did she restart the Generator? What happened?”

“We do not know,” Arguta was the one to reply, sitting defeated on a nearby chair. “Good morning, child. I see you are as eager to follow my instruction as always.”

“I wanted to help,” Sadja replied. “What happened to the Augur? Can we help?”

Can I help? But the only exceptional properties of her blood were to burn through Eerie like Coronite. There was no chance of healing there. And Fortunato had only taught the most basic of techniques.

“How did you find her? Was there a fire?”

“Not outside of the Core. We found her right outside. We have no idea how she managed to do it. It could only be restarted from the inside so maybe… I have no idea, liquidator! I am not keen to explore witchcraft and superstition!”

“There are no Threads about her,” Cloria muttered. She bit hard on her lip. “Only silence.”

“What does that mean?” Sadja was the last one to walk closer. Fortunato lay on the mattress and a stern expression was on his face, but besides that he did not seem to be in pain. He likely was just trying to help. Maybe even pay her back for that time she helped bring him back, in the forest. All she could do was sit down next to him and wrap her fingers around his hand.

“There are set limits on how we can interact with the Threads,” she explained with a deep sorrow in her voice. “Some of us are more gifted than others, but they are exposed to higher risk. Pulling on the possible futures always comes at the chance of setback.”

She remembered Arguta telling her about the Augur falling into some sort of stupor, almost-death, after she went to help Fortunato in the forest. Maybe this was something like that. It meant she could go back, didn’t it?

“We used to think some things were impossible, and she always managed to go one step further. It’s our own fault,” Cloria sighed. She sat down on the floor, putting her hand in the water. She did not touch Elissa directly. “Now we can only hope the Hunter can bring her back from the brink.”

Sadja bit her lip. Her tail twitched in shame.

She’s doing all that for you.

Feeling guilty, she shifted closer to the pool and did as the Venatrix. One hand on Fortunato’s body, and the one in the pool.

“I hope you can hear me,” she whispered. “Thank you for everything you have done. I am sorry I couldn’t be your friend. If you come back, I’ll try to be a better one.”

Elissa’s breath hitched.

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Author’s Notes: I’m out of town today, and writing this chapter at a bar was an interesting experience. This challenge of writing every day sure complicates a daily schedule! At any rate, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Thanks for reading!


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