Patina – Chapter 165

“So,” asked the man called Hunter as Valeriana came out of the Temple, holding her hands over her chest as if to hold something fragile and precious, “how is she?”

“Recovering,” she lied. 

She read the relief in the Threads surrounding the man. There was something weird about him and she perceived that trying to use her powers to persuade him would backfire in some astounding and unexpected way. So she just smiled and hoped it would be enough. 

People always wanted to believe what they most needed to, after all. 

“That’s good,” Cloria said, nodding. Lying to her felt like a shard of glass piercing right through her chest. But she had to. There were certain things that went beyond friendship, after all.

Oh Spirits, she asked herself, is this how a new Verna starts?


Back in Elissa’s chamber, things had not seemed so harsh at first. Valeriana had imposed her hands right over her destroyed flesh and felt a shiver of unease at how polished and smooth it now was. The pain- she could feel it in the echoes that the room had drank. 

Weirdly enough, none came from the girl herself. She had expected to get a reading out of her. 

Which made this curious.

Which made her interested. 

She peered further, pushing her tendrils down into the girl’s body and she started.

“Something’s wrong?” Asked Sadja at her side. 

“Nothing, dear. It’s just… I’m not that used to doing this in public yet. Can you leave us two alone?”

“Oh. Of course,” she agreed, standing up and getting out of the room which now housed only the two of them. 

What in the name of all that’s holy happened here?

They did feel the flare in Thread activity when Elissa had restored the Generator. But the girl was now a woman-shaped void in the fabric of futures, possible or stated or collapsing. 

She was a hole. A hole to deep to be filled by any art she could devise, and she was ready to bet the rest of the Council would be just as baffled as her.

Her heart picked up pace as she roamed her hands all over her skin, trying not to cause the girl any pain (but she did not seem to react, she did not react in any future, she was a wound upon reality) and she could perceive her body, she could knit the broken cells back to life, she could speed up her natural healing, provide better pathways for her recover. Just like she always imposed to the holy water she had then bottled up and shipped. 

That was the easy part. 

But the rest? The rest of Elissa, her future, her mind, her heart? They were completely separated from her body. 

She might take one of the braziers and smite her with it, reduce her body to a pulp and she would not affect her future one iota. 

She could ask for a knife and cut her throat and the world would just refuse it. 

In fact, that was what she believed it would happen, based on her previous experience. 


But this unprecedented. 

It scared her. 

Everything about this girl scared her.

How crazy, really. She had believed she had figured her out: the self-sacrificing pupil to the monstrous master. 

A neat existence easily fitted into a box and forgotten. 

But this hole-

She had no idea what to do with it. 

Such a good High Seer she was!

Valeriana gulped and her fingers trembled over Elissa’s arms. 

But she went back to her work. 

Healing and rejuvenating. 

That was one thing she was good at.

For the rest, she’d have to ask the Council how to act.

Before that void, all of her wisdom felt the arrogant scientists and scholars of old, absolutely confident that the Fae and their wicked Queen was just an old silly tale. 


“I’ll come back with someone else,” Valeriana finished explaining, “maybe a few of the Loremasters at the Collegium might be able to provide more help to her. What happened here is unprecedented and I’m quite the green High Seer, no matter my rank.”

“I hope you can make it quick,” the Hunter muttered. “She has suffered enough.”

Sadja nodded at those words, playing with the hem of her dress. She seemed to be of two minds about the entire matter and her thoughts, even though Valeriana did not dare peer into it, squirming over each other, creating a grinding sound that was hard to ignore or play down. 

“… so. I have heard you are getting ready to celebrate a wedding?” She asked with her best smile.


‘Hope lasts a blink’ – that was one such saying in that age of portents and hungry winters, when mankind’s place on its planet had been reduced to a few spots, when the Fae themselves had lost so much of what used to make them great. 

And if hope may last a blink, Valeriana did entertain that blink. She walked up on the trail that went from the Temple to the hilltop, just like another Augur had done back when she had devised a plan to fool her Mastra. 

She could not know that – those experiences, even if they might be expressed through words, were perfectly locked inside the black void that Elissa had become. 

Valeriana looked up at the sunset sky, growing purple and darker as night hooked it up at the corners of the sky. 

This town had experienced so much. She used to believe the heart of mankind’s future rested in te floating city of Venexia and the wisdom of its people. 

But she was not sure anymore. The Threads, if she tried to ask, turned themselves into wriggling knots.

These people’s future – and especially that of those two girls, Sadja and Elissa, was still up in the air. 

Pursing her lips, she detached the metal mask from her face. 

“Was this what they used to do in the past,” she murmured. Maybe this was the same thing Elissa was doing, or trying to do, in her shell.

The only thing you could do once the future resisted all attempts to direct it, control it, or even just perceive it.

Just hope.

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Author’s Notes: Hmmm. It’s always so hard to truly let go. I feel like taking a deep breath before the plunge. Hope you are still liking the story. I don’t think we have many updates left before the end. Thanks for reading.


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