Patina – Chapter 161

About those last few days of winter, Sadja remembered mostly three things. 

The first was how people were starting to really recognize her. And not just as the Hunter’s weird girl he had picked up somewhere in the forest, but as Sadja the helpful stranger who was always out and about, lending out a hand (and sometimes a leg) to take out rubble, take care of the wounded and those in recovery, or deal with cleaning land out. As they did begin to wave at her and greet her first, she noticed that the same was happening to Fortunato as well. Though he was a little more flustered than her. 

“Are you weirded out people are saying hi to you?” She asked him on the third morning after the assault. Not an Eerie had been seen since the Generator had come back up. “I thought you grew out of it.”

“Old habits. Hard to shake,” he replied.

But since then she saw him smile more. And that was the second thing: how much more relaxed and yet alive Fortunato was. He seemed much more at ease. Letting go of Lenora had only helped him. When they coiled around each other in front of the hearth at the start of every night, weary from the long day, she felt no tension in his muscles, no worried energy course through his tendons.

He had let go. 

Maybe in time she could teach him how to smile.

But they had a lot of time. Unlike many people in Belacqua, they had only to gain from the future, and very little to mourn, blessed the Spirits. Each day air felt a little warmer, a little closer to an eager spring.

And as the world turned, the dead found their resting place outside the walls. Another tradition she used not to understand, but after seeing what the Fae could do to corpses, she got it. 

They shared their mournings with the rest of the people and Sadja held more than a distraught mother, father or child against her chest as she tried to soothe them. She felt a little silly and a little ashamed – she had not lost anyone in the assault.

Though that wasn’t the whole truth. 

Which brought her to her third main memory from those times. 

A burned hand, the fingers completely lost, pink-ish meat slowly growing back beneath them, completely smooth and unresponsive. 

And she was holding it as she lay next to the Augur in her pool. 

“There is little else we can do for her,” Cloria said on the third day, pulling out the needle from her arm. Fortunato had used his blood on her for days on end and Cloria had volunteered to help. The  former Vestal-turned-Venatrix had also changed. She had seen her close her eyes and even wear a blindfold from time to time if the situation requested it. So far her powers did not go beyond making some very weak holy water and predicting weather pattern to a couple hours down the line, but the Augur out of commission and thinning stocks of water she was rapidly becoming the most sought-after member of the community. 

She smelled Cloria really liked that. But she had also learned how not to let it go to her head. 

And she was doing her best to help Elissa come back. 

Admitted she could. 

“She seems to be getting better.”

Cloria shook her head.

“The best we can hope for is to stave her off from the healing bath.” She crouched to whisper to her ear and it twitched. “Do not let his be known, but she has lost it all.”

“Lost it all?”

“The Threads. Her powers. She’s cut out from Sight, Sadja. She’s completely blind, inside and outside.”


Where is everyone? Are they here?

Where is Sadja?

She could hear faint voices. 

Couldn’t move her body. Feel its weight, yes, but couldn’t do anything past that. 

Why is there nobody here with me?


Which saddened her. Beneath it all, she had perceived her powers gave the redhead purpose. And seeing her gone now, reduced to a little more than a breathing, rasping coal made her wish she had treated her better. 

But she couldn’t do much.

She had tried to use her blood to revive a rabbit she caught in the forest.

As a way to see if maybe, just maybe…

But no matter how much she tried to enter into communion, applying what Fortunato taught her, the little critter only grew colder and stiffer in her hands. 

At last it still tasted good – and everyone praised her for catching a rabbit. 

But it did not completely fill the hollowness in her body. 

“So what should we do?”

Cloria dried her chest and sat down on the chair they had set up next to her pool.

“Until the Council chooses another, she’s still the town’s Augur. We can’t move her.”

“Are they going to replace her? Just like that? But…”

Cloria shrugged.

“It’s in the town’s best interest. Once the Threads are severed, there’s no force able to sew them back together. The Order tried for generations to enhance one’s abilities, but I doubt anyone ever had any success. I think it’s just impossible.”

Sadja went to the words she had shared with the charred Vestal and Fortunato, about Verna’s interest in the past and his hunch they had come from one of the quick stars.

Maybe not impossible. But for those living in that age, it might as well be. She pursed her lips, rubbing her thumb carefully on Elissa’s scabbed skin.

“I have sent a message for Valierana,” Cloria whispered, her face growing redder. “Oh, I’m such a disaster. Every time I can’t solve something I am already pulling on her robe.” She hid her face in her hands. “I’m not really eager to meet her again.”

“I think she’ll gladly help.”

The Venatrix blinked.

“Y-You do?”

“Of course, it means she’s still important to you! You might have taken different roads in life, but you can still be important to one another.”

A sheepish grin pulled her tired lip.

“Would you look at that. Since when you are the wise one out of the group? You have been reading too much!”

Sadja chuckled.


I can’t move my body.

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Author’s Notes: I hope Elissa finds some closure. Thanks for reading.


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