Discover more from St. Sinjin
A story from the world of Arcat
Peregrine laid in her bed, looking around at the bleached walls, at the ceiling, and out the uniform windows at the city, which was droning with sirens.
She exhaled, her lungs burning as they flexed. She gritted her teeth; the copper taste of blood plating her tongue.
She thought back to standing in front of the Chimera, her reflection staring back at her in its widened pupils. Its pillars of teeth shining like the Pearly Gates in front of her, smoke seething through the gaps.
Oxford’s cries for Peregrine broke open in her memory. Peregrine gripped her blanket. Her chest tightened at the fragility of his screams, begging for her to get away, to stop, to come to him, and she looked to him, at his face, so wide and glossed over; eyes shining in fear.
She instead had engaged the Chimera, absorbing a burst of its fiery breath into herself, soaking the heat into her cells, into her body.
Peregrine looked down at her arms, sealed over by gauze, her wounds burning against the fabric.
She exhaled, arching her back against the ache and reclined against the spiny mattress. She stared up at the ceiling. Tears welling from her eyes.
How long has it been since she was looking up at Oxford?
She reached back into her memory to his fingers pressing into her shoulder. His body had eclipsing her as he broke apart. She had never seen his face in so many shapes; horror, fear, sorrow, his mouth constantly shifting as he begged for her to stay.
She felt his tears. She heard the consonants of his prayers of evaporated words. But she only looked at him. Her body feeling heavier and heavier with every breath.
“Oxford,” Peregrine whispered.
She rolled her head to look at the city. The rooftop were she and the beast had battled was like a burnt match held against the blue horizon.
A hand rapped on the threshold of her room. Peregrine braced herself as she turned to see Robin John, a fellow sorcerer, looking at her.
His eyes studied her thoughtfully, measuring her pain. He nodded, knowing he couldn’t handle her injuries himself and offered a small smile.
He said, “May I come in?”
Peregrine nodded. A smile spread across her face, numb, the pressure only noted.
Robin John padded into the room with his hands behind his back.
“I’ve never seen you this serious before, Robin John,” Peregrine said.
Her companion furrowed his eyebrows at her labored breath.
Peregrine’s smile dissolved. Her fingers let go of the blanket.
“Not even in battle,” she swallowed.
Robin John exhaled a chuckle. He shook his head at her words. His eyes focused on a vacant portion of bed at her feet. He squeezed his hands. He weighed the thought by raising up onto the balls of his feet. When he grounded himself, he clicked his tongue, deflating his chest and once again meeting Peregrine’s gaze.
Peregrine nodded. The mattress whimpered as he settled onto his spot. He wilted, looking down at his marled hands that were now placed over his knees.
“You took a lot on, Peri,” he said to his hands. He exhaled. Peregrine tensed, bile threatened her mouth. She swallowed, exhaling in portions through her teeth.
Robin John shook his head at his hands. His brandished eyes looked at the witch.
“You made me believe you could take on anything, and when I saw that you couldn’t…”
Robin John wilted on the notion, looking at the floor.
Peregrine thought of the moment she felt nothing. Not Oxford’s tears or the words washing over her. How she felt like an insect, coming out of a chrysalis, peeling away from its sheath.
She thought of the darkness that came over her, so light, but still encompassing her.
Peregrine ambled to sit up, igniting her frayed abdomen. She stifled a cry, pressing her elbows into the mattress’s rib cage.
She met Robin John’s worry with the words, “I had to, you must understand.”
Robin John sighed.
Peregrine’s fingers hissed against the vinyl fabric of her blanket.
She said, “Robin John?”
“For those humans,” he said lowly.
“They are mine, now, Robin John,” she whispered. “They are my Coven.”
The Chimera had gone for the youngest of her “Coven”, Thom. He had hesitated, and she had pushed him away from the creature. His face wrenched into the marks of horror as he had scrambled to look at his mentor.
Humans, they are always shocked when others sacrifice themselves.
“They’ll never be like us, Peri,” Robin John said. His words were almost air itself, silent, filling the room. She let it fill her lungs, her veins, her blood.
She expelled it.
“You’re right, Robin John,” she said. He held her in the edge of his gaze. “They are too beautiful for us.”
Her chest hurt from the pressure of the words, swelling in pride but threatening to burst forth and shed light on a truth they both knew. Peregrine’s eyes brimmed with tears as Robin John padded out of the room, past Oxford, who stood in the doorway, his eyes holding onto her.