Color and Light

rating: +19+x

It starts with green. Green. Green. Then blue. The two mix, and teal. Green, blue, blue, teal, green, and then yellow! Green and yellow and blue and yellow and green and yellow and just a hint of orange and it starts to come together, just some more teal and blue and yellow and green and–

“What are you doing?”

Reynix turns around. Though she’s not tall, PrischA towers over them while they’re crouched like this. She has a way of doing this, of catching them off-guard. Maybe it’s the lack of emotion in her voice, or the fact that she’s completely silent on her approach.

Or maybe it’s that they’re always busy doing seemingly nothing of importance, and being caught so lost in thought makes them feel uneasy.

“Um. Nothing much. Just some chalk art.”

PrischA tilts her head ever so slightly. “Why?”

“Well, uh… so I found this chalk, and I asked Candela if there were any plans for the concrete lot in the park so uh. I decided to… do some chalk art.”

“But why?”

Reynix has never quite figured out PrischA’s way of speaking and what she means by questions like this, so simple, yet so vague. They decide to interpret this as “Why are you creating art, and why this medium?”

“Well, I liked drawing when I was younger and I haven’t done anything with chalk in… well, in a long time.” Reynix does not explain their recent desire to re-explore art. They’re certain that PrischA would piece things together too quickly from there.

“What are you drawing?”

Reynix takes stock of what’s already made it onto the pavement. “Plantlife on a sunny day? Or maybe a view beneath the ocean?” They look up. “I’m just kind of drawing for the sake of it at the moment.” they admit. Why does their response sound like an apology?

PrischA nods. Then she asks, “Do you need help?” As she asks this one of the cybernetic enhancements on her arm extends, swirling around with all manner of machinery. Reynix is positive that with the tech on her arm, PrischA could help them carry out their artistic vision to the most minute detail. The only problem being that, at the moment, there is no artistic vision. Only an impulse.

“I don’t believe I do, at the moment. But if you want to make some art, you’re welcome to join me, following your own aesthetic whims.”

“Hmm.” They can’t tell if this sound is judgemental or not. “I don’t think I’d be very good at that.”

“Never know if you don’t try,” Reynix says. She still seems hesitant.

“May I watch?”

Reynix nods. “Sure.”

Reynix works long through the day, observed by PrischA. They can feel her watchful eyes long after she’s actually left. Something about being watched makes them more nervous. By the time they’re done working, the piece is still incomplete. They’re not sure how they know this, but it’s unmistakable. They need more time to work on it, and they’ll probably need more chalk.

More green.

Green, green, yellow, green, teal, bl–

Blue? Where’s the blue?

Reynix looks around, panicked, when a hand holds it out to them.

“You’re still working on it,” PrischA says. Her stare is blank as always. With some hesitation, Reynix grabs the blue chalk from her.

“Well, it’s not done yet.”

“When will it be done?” Reynix thinks it’s curiosity. But it could be judgement. They never can tell with PrischA.

“When it’s done,” Reynix responds. They don’t know themselves. They get the feeling that whatever this is going to be bigger than they ever expected.

“You’re almost out of green,” she observes. It’s true. He’s down to the very end of the last nub.

“Guess I’ll have to make do without it.” They’re not sure they can actually do this without more green. They remember hearing somewhere that constraint breeds creativity. They remember hating that thought.

“How?” she asks. Reynix takes this to mean “what will you do instead?”

“Focus on the blue, I guess.” Neither mentions the blue is also running out; it is readily apparent. Reynix goes back to drawing.

“You seem to like green. And blue,” PrischA remarks. “Are they your favorite colors?”

“Um. I don’t know. I guess I haven’t really thought of it before. I just… like colors.” They shrug. “Do you have a favorite color?”

She pauses. “It’s so arbitrary, ranking colors.” She doesn’t have a favorite. Reynix is not sure what this means. “This shade,” she finally says.

“Hm?” They don’t look up.

“It’s familiar.” Reynix is unsure what she means. “It reminds me of the graffiti.” They’re silent. They continue working. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

“I guess. It’s a common shade of blue.”

“I just can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection,” PrischA says, inscrutable as always.

“The graffiti was paint. This is chalk.”

“Still, the shade…”

Reynix finally looks up. “I guess maybe I am trying to copy it. I mean, that essay made me want to do this in the first place. Reminded me of when I used to do art in my youth.” PrischA nods. “But I still think the notable shade here is green.”

“So what will you do when you run out?”

Reynix sighs. “I don’t know.”

Blue. Teal. Blue.

Green. The ceremony is green, and as a result the chalk is green and blue too. Reynix has never been too concerned about the consequences of magic. They're not really sure what they gave up this time. Perhaps it was memory. Youth? Unlikely. Perhaps it was sensation this time. They hope its the sensation of pain. Or perhaps its just one of those esoteric qualia that has no intrinsic value but nevertheless exists to whatever power molds the shape of the universe.

They don't care. All that matters is they now have more blue and green. They set back to work.

"That's dangerous," her voice interrupts.

Reynix looks up at PrischA. "What?" They're not sure what she's talking about.

"Magic. For such an insignificant thing."

For perhaps the first time, Reynix frowns at PrischA. "It's not insignificant. Not to me."

PrischA stares, puzzled. If Reynix didn't know any better, he'd suspect the emotion is what's tripping her up.

She quickly goes back to her normal demeanor. "Is it almost finished?" she asks. By now the piece of art takes up a rather large space on the pavement, longer and wider than they are tall. But they know it's not done.

"I'm not sure. I don't think so," they admit.

She stares at them, waiting for something they're not sure they can give. Finally, she speaks. "I'll get you more pigment," she says bluntly.

"More chalk?" Reynix clarifies. They're genuinely confused by what PrischA intends to procure for him.

"Yes," she answers succinctly. "Green. Blue."

"…That's very thoughtful of you. Thank you." Reynix bites their tongue to hold all the possible passive aggression about her odds of actually finding more chalk.

"No more magic. Not for this." It's a demand but it isn't harsh. It's pragmatic, just as everything she does is. Reynix can only nod.

And add Green. Green yellow green blue. Blue.

Blue. Blue, blue, purple, red. Water. Purple, red, purple, red, red. Water. Red, blue, purple. Water. Purple, water.

They were trying something different today. The red didn't work. Not the way they were using it. It was too much, too suddenly. They're gently scrubbing away all of today's work by the light of the moon. They have to be careful with the water, or the whole thing will be gone.

"Was it finished?"

Today is not the right day to ask.

"No," Reynix says, tired.

"Then why are you erasing it?"

"I'm just undoing today's work."


"Because the red didn't work, okay?"

"It… looks similar."

"I'm telling you, it didn't work."

"I still don't know what it is."

"I don't know either! Okay?" They don't mean to shout it. It's just been a long day. They sigh and go back to scrubbing.

"Purple," she says, looking at the water. Reynix looks up, not sure what the expression on their face is. "I think I like purple," she finishes.

Reynix nods. "So do I."

For a few more minutes, it's just silent scrubbing.

"Blue is incredibly rare in nature," PrischA finally says.

"Is that so?"

"It's incredibly hard for things to be naturally pigmented blue. For plants it's inefficient to reflect that kind of light. Most blue flowers combine pigments and natural reflection of light. Animals that are blue have structures like scales that change the actual wavelength of light, and a lot are iridescent as a result." Reynix isn't sure where this is going. "But because the wavelengths are the longest and hardest to produce, the sky above us is blue, and the seas reflect it too. And blue has remained a popular color among humanity."

Reynix thinks about it. "Picasso was famous for his, but many artists went through a blue period. And blue was a popular favorite color. Pre-calamity anyway." They pause. "Post-calamity too, I'll bet. Though there's not really a good way to get the actual statistics." Another pause. Purple water, red water, blue. "It's a good color."

"It's certainly effective. Gets a point across." She looks at the scrubbed off part again. "I think I still prefer purple, though. But I can't tell." She pauses. "Will there be purple in the final piece?"

Reynix doesn't know. They don't know anything about the piece other than what they've already done. But somehow, they know this.

"Yes. Yes there will be."

She nods. "I'll put it on the pigment list."

And then it's just water. And red. Blue. Water. Red blue water. Water. Purple water. Red, blue.


Blue. Green. Green green blue yellow orange, pinch of red to blue so purple, purple, green, blue, teal, blue, orange yellow red.

Blue. Green. Purple. These are the colors PrischA holds out to Reynix.

"PrischA, where did you…?"

"You haven't been doing magic to make more, have you?"

"No." White lie, the green was getting low again, just a quick replenishing spell had solved that problem. Nothing PrischA needs to know. "Thank you."

"Well you're clearly not slowing down anytime soon. Might as well have extra."

Reynix nodded. "You know something? I think I might be almost close to done."


"Maybe. I'm not fully sure."

"Well I'll be here to see it when it's done." Reynix isn't sure why they smile at this. They pause and look at their work. There's a lot that wasn't there before. A lot that they made. They made.

"I think… I've earned a break," they say, standing up. And it feels good to stand up. Liches are known for their stamina, but they've basically been crouching for a few days, and it feels good to change position. "I'm gonna take a walk around the park. Join me?"

PrischA says nothing, but walks up to meet Reynix, and slowly, the two start walking.

"Why now?" she asks after a while.

"I told you. The message."

"The graffiti."

"That message reminded me I used to make art, and why, the things that inspired me. I haven't been inspired in quite some time. It feels nice to just… make something." They smile. "I remember going to art museums as a kid and I just… I never understood art. And then one day, I saw an exhibit by Van Gogh and… I don't know, I got it. There was life in his works, no matter how still they appeared. The stars in the sky, the trees in the wind, the hills in the distance, they were alive! And it just made sense. And from that moment on I had to create." They looked over, but PrischA's expression was once more inscrutable. "What?"

"Van Gogh. Just seems predictable."

Reynix scoffs. "Okay, miss big brain, what art inspires you? Pollock? No, Rothko I bet."

"I can't say I'm really inspired by anything."

"You're judging me for my inspiration and you won't even tell me yours?"

"I'm not judging you."

"Yes you are! Like, come on. Sorry we can't all be as sophisticated as PrischA, but I'm trying to share something real with you and you're mocking me!"

"I most certainly am not."

"Then what was the last piece of art that made you emotional? Painting, music, whatever, just something that made you emotional."

"I can't!" PrischA finally bursts. There's a deathly silence in the air between them.

"Then I can't do… whatever this is."


"I won't give more than I take, I can't do that again, it nearly killed me. I thought we were friends but you're never gonna let those walls down, are you?"


But they're gone. And it's just red red red red red red red red red red red purple red red purple red purple purple red red red—

And blue.

And blue.

And blue.


Green. It's green. Teal. Blue. Green. Teal. Teal. Green. Blue. Blue red. Purple. Purple.

It really is almost done.

They've started to notice her presence before she's fully there.

They sigh.

"I'm sorry," they say not turning around. "That outburst was uncalled for. I just thought our relationship was… something it wasn't. But if this is what you want, I'm fine."

There is a moment of silence. Reynix doesn't dare turn around. They wait with bated breath.

Then PrischA begins.

"Once there was an alchemist attempting to cure death." Reynix is so startled they almost turn around. But they stay looking at the art. "He'd already gotten a good start, having created his own life. A spirit. And while the spirit knew of its own life, the alchemist hadn't thought to give it anything he hadn't deemed essential to life, things like complex emotion, conflict negotiation, and aesthetic appreciation. So it couldn't understand the full experience of being a person. Some might say she was less than human." PrischA paused, perhaps unsure. She continued.

"Twelve miles yet a whole world away, a young woman was on her way to work, when she got into a terrible accident involving a piece of deadly machinery. The town's doctors tried, but they couldn't save her. With some hesitance, they gave her over to the alchemist. The plan was simple: replace her missing body parts with metal replacements, use the elixir to bring the body back to life, and use the spirit to jump-start the woman's brain. The alchemist had given this experiment a name: Protocol 1: sentience conservation-human A.

"At first, it seemed to have worked. But soon it became clear the woman was not the same as before. The spirit that had meant to reignite the woman's brain had accidentally taken up residence instead. The experiment had failed, but now the spirit was truly alive. Being artificially created for the purpose of saving life, the alchemist had failed to give her things outside of basic survival skills. But she could survive. So she did. She survived. And kept surviving."

Reynix finally turns around. They look at PrischA's face and for the first time, they recognize that her face, far from blank, is full of subtle emotion she can't explain. Maybe she can't even understand she has them.

"If you searched my home, you'd find blue spray paint," Reynix admits. "But you had probably figured that out already." They hold out a piece of chalk. "Would you like to help me?"

"I wouldn't know where to begin."

"Choose a blank spot. Choose a color. Start drawing."

PrischA takes some chalk, hesitantly. She picks a spot a short way away from Reynix. She starts with purple. And she begins drawing.

A few minutes pass. Then she speaks again.

"Can you tell me if I'm doing okay?"

"Don't worry about what I think. Just do what you think will look good."

She's not sure what that means. She tries anyway.

She tries green. Then blue. Orange. Blue, purple, blue, green, green, purple, red, blue, green.

And Purple. Purple. Purple. Purple.


The observers see green. They see blue. Purple. Green. Teal. Orange. Yellow. Blue. Purple. Red. Every color imaginable. All conveyed in chalk on pavement.

Candela is at the unveiling. So is Dominic, and Lily and her new yeren friend, and people neither Reynix nor PrischA know that well.

It's the sky. It's the sea. It's a galaxy and a molecule, it is still but it is movement. It is abstract.

It is art.

"I think…" PrischA starts, uncertain, "I think I like it."

"You did well. The purple looks good."



"I think you've been cool for a long time."

Reynix smiles. "Thanks." There's a pause. "You know something? I think I have a favorite color now." PrischA looks at them, expectantly. "Purple."

PrischA nods. "I think that is my favorite too." More people come to look at the artwork. She sees them walk around, carefully stepping so they don't ruin it. She sees their smiles.

"How does it feel to make art?" Reynix asks.

"I made it. And it's out in the world now." She looks at it, and at the people admiring it. She feels something. "It's still. But it is alive."

And it is blue, green, green, blue, orange, yellow, blue, red, green, teal, green, blue, blue red, green green, blue yellow, green blue, blue red, red blue, blue red, red blue, blue red red blue.


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