There is a clearing in the center of the forest, bursting with all the life and colors of summer. The wildflowers grow thick here, and the blooms bob gently in the wind.

 

Five figures begin emerge from the tree line. Their humanoid forms ooze and flow over the forest floor as they push themselves into the sunlight. Ten sets of eyes stare greedily at the swaying flowers, transfixed by the myriad of colors. One by one they wade into the lush grass, determined to reach the objects of their desire. In their wake, a blackness appears. Ilana turns her eyes to Zelretch and watches blankly as his skin begins to take on green shades. Cecilia reaches the wild beds first, tripping over herself in her haste. Reaching down, she cups a delicate purple Aster in her palm, seemingly mesmerized as the petals turn black. Coming up behind her, George sees Cecilia’s arms take on the purple hue. George’s legs begin to lose shape and he plummets into a clump of primroses. Streaks of yellow form and swirl over him, causing the colors of his clothes and hair to swirl into a muddy brown, which turns into midnight black as he absorbs the green from their stalks. Struggling at the back, Leliana fights to keep her form, arms outstretched and grasping. Desperate to reach the vibrant blues of the cornflowers just out of her reach. She’s the first one to dissolve, returning to the paint from which she came. Ilana is the last, holding her form longer than the others. She is sitting amongst the lady slippers as her face drips into her lap, her eyes taking on the delicate pink of the petals before oozing onto her chin.

 

Inky black pools lay where our heroes had been, the paint staining everything it had touched. Prodded by the breath of the wind, the five splotches come together into one dark, pulsating mass. For a moment it begins to take a new shape, but the riot of color overwhelms it. Quivering as the last of its power is expended, the paint splashes to the ground and sinks slowly below the surface.

 

After a time, the stolen colors return as vibrant as they had ever been. The birds sing in the trees, the plants reach towards the sky, and nothing remains to mark their passage except a few crushed stems and trampled grass.

*     *     *     *     *

It is evening in the Valdalis Crossroads. The last of the day’s caravans have made the crossing and the day shift is finally headed home to their beds. Thumping down wearily into his desk chair, the captain of the guard allows himself to close his eyes for a moment. It’s not long before he’s snoring quietly with his chin on his chest. On the wall in front of him hangs a detailed map of Travace and its lands. It is a beautiful rendition and he has stared at it every day since he was posted here. As his breathing deepens into true sleep, the map’s paint begins to run. Slowly at first as if it had been put too close to a fire. Then in a torrent as every last drop pours to the floor, leaving a blank and blackened canvas behind.

 

The paint stills, moving not an inch as the captain shifts in his chair. The moment his snoring resumes, it flows across the wood racing for the slit of light visible beneath the door. Squeezing its pulsating mass through the crack it hurtles down the corridor and out into the night, becoming one more inky patch in a sea of darkness.

*     *     *     *     *

Now that color is fading, and art is coming to life you must ask yourself.

 

Who will you be?

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