Patina – Chapter 163

Sadja found Arguta almost as often to the Temple as she did to the forge, these days. She tried to visit in the odd ours of the morning, when most of the townspeople would be asleep or on the walls. She liked to wake up early anyway: by morning she could see most of the changes to the weather that gave her hope for the future. The red sap was almost completely gone, and more flowers poked through the snow. Spring was coming – just like winter did, earlier than expected and with more strength. 

“How is she doing?” Sadja whispered, sitting next to the Vestal. 

Elissa had been taken out of the pool for a few days now; laying on a bed, surrounded by precious fresh flowers, paper cranes and other such small gifts left by the townspeople. 

Her skin had somewhat healed, though most of its was still covered by thick black patches. On her elbows and around her knees and mouth, though, the new skin was growing back, pink and smooth and shiny like egg yolk.

Sadja had seen her share of horrors in the forest, and through the last assault… and in the dungeons back when she was still little more than an experiment. 

And helping to bury the mangled bodies of the dead.

But now Elissa’s skin made her stomach churn in a different way, for she wasn’t just a victim of fate or circumstances, she wasn’t just unlucky. She had chosen that fate. 

“No changes of note, at least that I could see. I am no healer,” the old woman said.

“You are spending a lot of time here,” Sadja pointed out, drawing her legs to her chest as she coiled her tail around herself. “I did not expect that.”

“Me neither,” she chuckled. “All these weeks have taken their toll on me.” She showed her hand bereft of the two fingers in the middle. “And I am quite tired after working ceaselessly at the forge. I spend my time better here.”

“I did not deem you two close.”

The old woman snickered. The cup of the in her other hand swayed and it threatened to spill a few drops. 

“Close? We never were and likely never will! But I like this girl, and though smiths and Augurs are not the fastest of friends, I hope that when she comes back she can smile at me as well. She did us a great service.”

“Hmm,” Sadja nodded, reaching out to brush her fingers against her polished, almost porcelain-like skin. 

Cloria told her her friend would soon be here to take care of her. And most likely think about a successor. 

She’d be brought back to her floating city, with every probability. 

Sadja would never see her again. 

She was not sure how to feel about that.

“Thank you for everything,” she said to the immobile girl, but all she received in return was raspy breathing. 

It did not feel real. 

That time in her mind, what she had seen, been forced to see- she’d go any length to leave Verna behind herself and forget all about it. 

She still did not have it in her heart to truly forgive her. 

To truly try and consider the charred, half-destroyed body laying next to her as belonging to a friend.

We never were close, she thought replaying Arguta’s words in her mind. 

But then again she was sitting right there.

And the people who would flood the Temple as morning turned into day would do the same.

Maybe it would be enough. 


Where am I?

I can’t feel. I can’t see. 


I can’t feel anything. 


Fortunato finished pulling up the wooden beam, taking a moment to recover his breath. 

“Growing tired in your old age,” Sadja commented, walking on him from behind. He did not perceive her, which meant he was either still really cranky from the assault… or she was getting a lot better.

Probably both. 

“Ha!” He replied, pulling her away and holding both her arms in a lock. “I don’t even have a single grey hair on my head.”

“C-Could have fooled me with soot,” was her embarrassed reply. Noticing he had her pinned against the beam, he let go with a sudden cough.

“So. Are is Elissa?”

“You tell me,” she said stroking her tail. “I see no change. Arguta says hi.”

“Let’s hope Cloria’s friend can find a better cure for her than I could…” he muttered, kneading his right eye. 

He tried cupping his left and the world turned blurry and tinted red. 

“How do you feel,” Sadja asked, pulling him into another, this time far gentler, embrace.


“Is there anything I can do to help you with that?”

“I can think of a couple things,” he huffed, sitting against the beam with Sadja in his lap. The wolfgirl pulled her tail away to rest more easily and she looked up at him with a big smile, taking his hand and putting it on her head. 

He began to pet as instructed and her ears twitched. 

“Hmmm… that’s better for both of us.”

Fortunato laughed.

A few people passing by smiled and waved at them and they did the same. It felt weird to be part of a community, at last, just before they were about to leave it, maybe for ever. 

“Before we go,” he said as if he had read into her mind (or maybe he had just looked closely at her face), “we have a few things yet to do. There’s that wedding in a few weeks, and we have to finish cleaning up the outer districts.” Sadja moved her gaze from his face to the busy streets, where the din and tin of construction yards, cleaning up ground and rebuilding, reached her ears, to the tall walls, now cleaned of any Eerie flesh.

In fact, the town’s surroundings had been liquidated of all Eerie corpses and their remains burned. Squads led by Cloria were still out and about to double check what might still be hiding beneath the snow, but they were confident, for the most part, that the area was clean. 

“And we have to start going out in the forest again. Maybe alone, from time to time. There are new flowers blooming. We could pick a few. And you could show me which plants to avoid and which to eat. Get ourselves ready for our departure.”

“Cloria did notice you were getting smarter.”

“Because you didn’t?” She playfully slapped his shoulder.

“How can I casually notice something I see every day?”

“Uhm,” she pursed her lips, her cheeks growing a deep shade of silver.

“And those are all good ideas,” he said putting a kiss atop her head. “So how about you help me finish pulling up these beams and then we go for a brief hunt? Let’s see who’s rusty!”

“Yes!” Sadja cried out with a big smile.

Pic by JollyD

Author’s Notes: thanks for reading.


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