Patina – Chapter 166

For the first time in weeks, Sadja was helping with a joyful occasion and not just simply rebuilding or taking out bodies or fighting for her life. It was such a welcome change her heart fluttered so much in her chest! They had her assigned to the rest of the girls her age, almost all of them unmarried. They all dressed in white and though they regarded Sadja as a weird newcomer who did look strange, they had all heard about her help during the fight and knew she was someone important, though they did not know the details. 

One or two tried to touch her tail or her ears, but she did not allow them. She did blush a deep silver though, which seemed to be enough for them. 

As they helped setting up the tables and the runway for the bride and groom in the main square, Sadja kept smiling (even with all the unsolicited attempts to her tail) and her ears tilted left and right to each sound, trying to take it all in.
For the time being, the Augur was… undisposed, so Valeriana (who did correctly foresee they were having a wedding), was doing her part, even though for the time being it was mostly talking to the Constable or the engineers about the state of the town and the resources they still had, how to allot them and what to expect coming Spring.

They’d be far by then. She and Fortunato. He had insisted they’d walk north first, to get his sled back (which seemed to be very important for him – and it was the last of his actual material possessions, now that his hut had been flattened by the Eerie… two times). She couldn’t really wait.

She had seen how the pines were beginning to change: the hideous red sap dried up and the snow did not carry the footprints of Eerie anymore. Flowers and grass had begun to pop out of the snow here and there.

For the time being days were still cold, but it was a far cry from the freezing before the attack. All things considered, the future looked full of promises. 

As she stood by the runway, holding the crowns of knotted strings and dried flowers that were supposed to hold back the evil eye and the influence of the Forest (she did not think them effective, but they did look nice enough) she cheered like all the others as the groom and bride walked to where Valeriana waited for them. 

The bride was in grey and orange, a tradition that they said came from the days before the fall of mankind. She was smiling from ear to ear, even if half her face still bore the ghost of an ugly burn scar. She must have been caught in the first steam explosion. But that seemed to belong to another world entirely: accompanied by songs and drums, the groom held out his hand, took hers and brought her to Valeriana, who waited, for the occasion having taken off her mask. Her dark eyes shone with joy as well. The groom seemed a little flushed on his bearded face due to her presence – it was the third time the High Seer of the Order stepped into their little town, and to marry him at that!

Sadja chuckled as he almost stumbled, right at the end.

She clapped with the others, her tail wiggling behind her. 

Then her eyes went to look for Cloria, who stood near the end of the runway with Bernardo and Marina, the three of them talking about stuff she didn’t hear through the ruckus, but she saw Cloria blush and shake her head as Marina teased her.

Fortunato, instead, had disappeared. She spotted him right at the farthest corner of the square, looking at the two with a strange expression on his face. 

Oh course. He must be thinking about his former wife. 

She couldn’t really expect him to forget all about her, could she?

And by the way it was still far too early to think about anything like that with him. 

But her cheeks did turn a darker shade of grey as she watched the ceremony, the two exchanging their crowns, promises and rings, and then at last their kiss, as Valeriana said:

“And may the Spirits be my witness, as I proclaim Ada and Linorio wife and husband,” the crowd all cheered in a roar of joy. 

Finally something good had come to the town. 

Then Valeriana turned towards the Temple and lowered her head, soon followed by everyone around them. 

“In this time we remember our brave Augur Elissa. She gave her all to allow you to have this moment. The Spirits willing, she will come back soon to lead you,” she said with a smile, even though Sadja felt like it wasn’t completely confident. 


It’s all dark here let me out let me out let me out

Why is nobody answering



With those words, the ceremony was over, and they sat down for dinner. Sadja had a seat at the table that a quite far away from Fortunato, but she had a plan to change that. A very devious plan. 

She walked to the girl who had been set up next to him and grinned as she saw her eyes go to her tail. 

“Hey,” she said wiggling it. “How about a trade?”

Five minutes of petting later, Sadja found herself with a tussled tail but sitting next to Fortunato, who couldn’t stop grinning at her deviousness.

Supper was light, even though they did splurge on something, like dried tomatoes, that Sadja had never eaten before and knew it had been reserved for the occasion. It was a brief dinner, but all of town celebrated it like it would last forever.

Sadja rested her head against Fortunato’s shoulders and he passed his fingers through her hair. He smiled softly at the look Cloria gave him. At the head of the table, Valeriana also seemed to have forgotten how to be sad. 

And then came the dances! By then Sadja had recovered and she and Fortunato threw themselves on the floor, following the newly-wed couple as they came back and forth. At the climax of the night, the bride sat on a chair as Valeriana broke a huge loaf of bread over her head, which they all shared with the townspeople. 

Dance after dance, music and fires and electric lights all turned into a blur – Sadja’s defenses went down and she almost got asleep against Fortunato’s chest as they slowly danced to the soft rhythm of the closing songs. 

He set a soft kiss on her brow and tossed a look at Valeriana, who was dancing as well (with a blonde girl who seemed completely out of her depth and trembled like a leaf holding the hands of the High Seer herself), but she seemed to be having a fun time, even more so without her ritual mask. 

And behind them, the stark shape of the Temple, where their favorite Augur rested, in the hope she’d soon be between them. 

Fortunato held Sadja closer. No matter what, he couldn’t shake the feeling he’d been so incredibly lucky. 

In the end, it did all work out for the best. 

Pic by

Author’s Notes: I’m not happy with the quality of this chapter. I blame it on stomach virus in tandem with some truly ugly news about a family member. I’m sorry if the chapter came out like that, but that’s just how things go from time to time. I hope you still liked Sadja’s devious tactics. At any rate, thanks for reading.


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