Art by Mansik Yang

Chapter 6 - Violet
"Fragments of Light" - Page 51-53

“Enchantress Ikaria,” Suri interrupted gently, nodding her delicate neck ever so slightly. “You have been summoned by the Empress to meet with her in the council chambers.”
 

Ikaria finished her spellbinding enchantment on the metal circlet before her, wafting her violet magic away as the energy slowly diminished. The onyx crown emitted a deep-violet radiance, the jewel glowing a dark radiant purple.
 

Turning her attention away from the enchanted object, Ikaria eyed her servant. “Do you know if the Emperor will be present?” Ikaria inquired. Her eyes lowered to her fingers, ensuring none of her lacquered amethyst nails had a chip.
 

Suri shook her head. No movement came from her black hair, only the jingling of her bronze hair ornaments and the rustling of her simple yellow yukata. “No, Enchantress. I believe it will only be the Empress.”
 

“Excellent. I don’t feel up to dealing with His Majesty today,” Ikaria jeered.

Looking back at her newly enchanted object, she cracked a satisfactory smile. Ikaria had experimented with several objects, successfully enchanting them with her newfound orange magic mixed with her existing violet power. To add the power of control into enchanted objects excited her. No one in the history of mankind had ever done such a thing, and she was the first and only one to do so. All thanks to the Lady Yasmin’s blood.
 

“What do you think of this, Suri?” Ikaria asked, holding the circlet up for her servant to see.
 

“Impressive, Enchantress.”
 

“It is, isn’t it?” Ikaria flashed a wicked grin. “There are times that I even impress myself.”
 

Ikaria set down the circlet on the empty throne next to her. It was an ornate chair, designed with swirls that intertwined with silver and a deep-purple velvet padding. She was seated in an identical matching throne, near her enchanted firepit. The chairs were an early engagement gift, courtesy of Cyrus himself. That was when she was to ascend the throne, before she lost her place as heir. Whenever Ikaria sat upon the chairs, it made her hate the Emperor and the High Court all the more. But instead of burning them, as she wanted to do every day, she vowed with every living breath that it would be Cyrus’s execution chair when she became Empress.
 

Suri stood frozen in front of her for a moment. Her orange eyes met Ikaria’s, giving off a slight twinkle. “Also, Enchantress, there was another… technological artifact found on the surface. I saw one of the commanding officers from the surface workforce deliver it to the citadel’s gates about an hour ago.” Suri’s pink lips hinted a smile, but no other emotion appeared on her face.
 

Ikaria stretched out her body within the confines of the throne, grinning. “Does the Emperor know about this delivery yet?” She got out of her chair, smoothing her skirt fabrics.
 

“No. Only the two guards on duty. I believe they were to deliver it to Lord Nyko.” Suri’s eyes locked onto hers. “I have everything arranged in our favor.”
 

“Thank you, Suri.” Ikaria flashed a wicked smile and gingerly brushed her hand against Suri’s smooth face. Suri blushed the moment Ikaria’s fingertips touched her lips. “You always know how to brighten my day,” Ikaria whispered, then waved her hand to dismiss Suri.
 

“Enchantress.” Suri bowed, sucking in her breath. “It is always a pleasure to serve the true and rightful heir. And I have none other than you to thank for my… gift. It is very invigorating.”
 

Ikaria laughed, thinking about her own body, raging with more power and passion now with the addition of the orange and red magic. She was sure Suri’s body had felt the same when she drank from the Lady Yasmin. If Ikaria could compare the two colors that she’d consumed, orange was far more sensual and erotic than red.
 

“My dear Suri, you are so loyal, much more than anyone who has ever served me. I just wanted to show you my gratitude for assisting me with Lady Yasmin and Lord Valamir. I looked rather beautiful that night. Or should I say you did?” Ikaria laughed, swiping her hair off her shoulder. “I love illusion magic. And to think that Lord Valamir thought he had everyone fooled at court. What a sorry excuse for a High Court spy. His blood was quite delectable, wouldn’t you agree?”
 

“Yes, quite so, Enchantress.”
 

Ikaria glanced at Suri, revealing a faint smile. “If you continue to be loyal, I can promise you the power of my violet blood. Besides, someone has to fill the enchantress position once I am Empress. Please continue to use your new power with discretion, as we would hate to give away your newfound identity. Especially around the other orange-gifted. We don’t want people to start asking questions.”
 

Suri smiled softly, her eyes in reverence of Ikaria. “I will. Thank you, Enchantress,” Suri murmured, bowing deeply.
 

“And Suri, do expect that we will have company in my chambers this evening. I have my eye on that new servant of the Emperor’s.”
 

“Yes, Enchantress.”
 

Ikaria gave herself a private smile, delighted at what was to come that evening. How she loved blond men. They looked nothing like the Emperor.
 

Walking over to her full-length mirror, Ikaria checked her lipstick, which had faded from drinking her morning wine. Reapplying her violet cream, she posed for her reflection seductively. I still look better than most of the court women combined. She flirted with her reflection one last time with a devious smile, then walked out of her chambers.

Chapter 11 - Orange
"Fragments of Light" - Page 93-95

Where was he?

Access denied.
 

His head scrambled like white noise.
 

Who was he?

Access denied.
 

The network switched off again.
 

He attempted to prop himself up from the cold metal platform, feeling lethargic. As he did so, his heavy right hand made a loud screeching sound, metal against metal. Swinging his right hand in front of his face to inspect it, the bluish-white light filtered onto it, revealing small orange squares glowing on his arm, and long sharp metal fingertips. As he observed the squares, they started to make a pattern, switching between bright orange and white. He was communicating; his eyes and brain were talking to each other. As the light pattern danced back and forth, he saw other patterns infused onto his right hand and all the way up to his shoulder. It was some kind of circuitry woven throughout his skin.
 

A shadow appeared from behind the glass, keeping the light from filtering into the room. Like a menacing demon in one of his nightmares, it stood there for a moment, watching him. A burning sensation came over him, focused where each of the wires were connected to parts of his body. The burning subsided, replaced with an immense coldness. He became acutely aware of his nakedness. His body shook, then twitched with mechanical glitches.
 

Where was Gwen? Was she here?
 

The obscure figure disappeared from the glass. Within seconds, the door opened, and the shadow entered his chamber.
 

Suddenly the room lit up like the heavens. He jolted; his good eye was not used to this kind of intense lighting. The brilliance of the light sent an exploding pain to his brain. He couldn’t see what or who was in front of him. Orange data flashed quickly within his mechanical eye.
 

“I’m sorry, Drew, I didn’t realize that the light would bother you,” a woman’s soft voice said gently. A moment later, the light turned off. Once more, darkness enveloped the room, except for the bluish-white light from the window. “I saw that the network was interfering with your boot-up, so I unplugged you from the mainframe for a while, only connecting you to the sub network. You will be fully back online again soon, after you recover from the shock.”
 

Drew? That was his name? He tried to recall that name from his memory.
 

Access denied.
 

The woman returned to face him once more, studying him. What his left eye couldn’t see, the cybernetic eye filled in with information. Midforties. Honeyed hair cropped to her chin. Black-rimmed glasses covering her light brown eyes. Average weight, medium build. He sat, calculating his thoughts, trying to recall if he knew this woman. The data banks were coming up empty.
 

With a look of marvel and wonder across her face, she reached out and touched his hand, then moved to his chest, listening to his breathing. Taking out a small flashlight, she held it in front of him.
 

“Drew, I know your eyes are getting adjusted to light, but I need to do a routine inspection. It will only take a moment.”
 

Without waiting for a response from him, she turned on her flashlight, examining his cybernetic eye. His eye flooded with information, warning him it was too bright. Drew struck the flashlight, hurling it to the ground.
 

“Sweetie, I know it’s a lot for you to take in,” the woman stated warmly, “but please, try and remain calm. It will only be another minute or so, then you can rest.” She walked over to the flashlight and pulled it out of a tangle of wires. Appearing in front of him again, she held his face and inspected his left eye. Gasping, she took a step back.
 

“My God… It can’t be…” she uttered.
 

God? Drew glanced around the room. There was no god in here. What was she referring to? Another glitch.
 

Malfunction.
 

She continued to check his left eye in disbelief and fascination, until water began to pool in the corner of it. The tears finally released themselves, flowing down his face. Holding his gaze for a moment, she proceeded to inspect the bionic areas of his body, guiding her flashlight away from his face.
 

Where is Gwen?
 

His body jolted again, but this time it was a clear reaction to his thought. As if he was not permitted to access those memories.
 

The blonde woman patted him on the shoulder, then turned off the flashlight. “It’s okay. Try not to think too much right now. You are adjusting,” she said sympathetically. “It will take you a few days to get back to one hundred percent capacity.” She took out a modified pair of glasses—the right side was completely missing, with a hook coming from the bridge of the frames. After screwing the bridge of the altered spectacles to his cybernetic lens, she slid the modified frame’s earpiece behind his left ear.
 

“There. I know that you can now see perfectly with the wiring that we installed, but I thought you should have a little bit of your old self back.” She stood, admiring him with glassy eyes, her mouth curled in a small smile. Rubbing her eyes from behind her glasses, she breathed in, composing herself. “I am glad you came back to us.”
 

Came back?

Chapter 29
"Fragments of Light" - Page 243-246

As Kyle entered his apartment, he saw the princess sitting cross-legged, bent over her painting. Emerald heard him, and her face shot up from the painting she was working on, revealing a big smile.
 

“Did you have any luck finding a guitar?” she asked, looking achingly hopeful and happy.
 

“Nope.” Kyle cautiously plopped down across from her, smoking his cigarette.
 

“Well, that’s good.” She shot up from her spot with a bounce in her step, making her way into the kitchenette.
 

“Tell me, how is that good?” Kyle called out to her. Stay calm. It’s just Em.
 

“Because…” She came back from around the corner, holding a long brown package. She ran over excitedly, then set it in his lap. Stunned, Kyle already knew what it was before he opened it.
 

“No, no, no.” Kyle shook his head in disbelief. “I can’t accept this.”
 

“You don’t even know what it is. Open it.”
 

Obliging, Kyle opened the brown package, revealing a black guitar case. A beautiful red electric guitar sat within the folds of the plush cushion of the case. It had to be the most expensive damn guitar he had ever seen. It was the best brand of guitars, and one of the nicest models around.
 

“I know your old guitar was black, but I thought red suited you…” Emerald began to say, fumbling with her words. Nervously, her eyes darted to his. “Do you like it?”
 

“Fuck yeah, I love it.” Kyle peered at her, as if it was the first time he was seeing her for who she really was. He then glanced at the guitar, feeling small. “But you really didn’t have to do this for me.”
 

“Yes, I did. If it weren’t for me, that Jaxx guy wouldn’t have come looking for you in the first place. I felt responsible for your guitar,” she said, trying to convince him. “I had hoped to make it up to you.” Emerald shifted her head shyly, slightly blushing.
 

“I did what any normal person would have done,” he said, nervously scratching the back of his neck. His eyes soaked in the color of his guitar as he sat admiring the beauty of it. Testing it out, he strummed a few chords. “How did you know what to get? And how the hell did you afford this?”
 

He cursed the stupidity of his last question as soon as he said it. She was one of the wealthiest people in Arcadia, after all. One might assume that she was carrying a shitload of money on her. But maybe not, since she’d run away.
 

“When we were over at Remy’s the day after the incident, I talked him about it. I gave him the money, and he agreed to buy it for you. But I told him that you should have a red one, whatever he chose. Red is your color. He delivered it today when you were at Diego’s.”
 

“Was Diego in on this scheme of yours?”
 

“Yes. The band all pitched in, but I gave the biggest portion,” Emerald said proudly. “Although, I don’t have much money left, so hopefully the band is happy with the flyer and is willing to give me more work.” Emerald winked, then sat back down in front of her painting. She picked up her brush and proceeded to paint red between the black lines where Kyle’s figure was.
 

He suddenly felt guilty and completely insecure. Never in his life had he felt that way, especially when it came to women. He never had to think twice around them. But damn, Em was the princess of Arcadia.
 

Shifting uncomfortably on the floor, he said, “Em… you didn’t have to spend your money on me. Really.”
 

“Nonsense.” Emerald waved at him nonchalantly. “I had to. You’ve given me a place to stay for a while. Consider that rent for a month.”
 

“Ha ha,” Kyle joked sarcastically, turning back to strum his guitar. “Red, huh?”
 

“Everyone is associated with a color.”
 

“They are?”
 

“Well, yes,” Emerald said definitively, as if there was no reason to question it. “It is stated in The Spectrum.”
 

“You believe in that?”
 

Emerald looked at him, confused. “Why, yes, don’t you?”
 

“I suppose there is some great being out there. Never gave it much thought, though.” Kyle shrugged, continuing to strum his guitar.
 

“Don’t you ever wonder how the world was created, or what happens to us after we die?”
 

“Don’t really care. All I know is that I hope to die when this”—he nodded his head at his tattoo—“reaches my hand.” Kyle puffed on his cigarette through pursed lips. He heard an interworking of a new melody in his head and tried to play it softly through their conversation.
 

“Doesn’t matter if you believe it or not,” Emerald said, shrugging. She turned to her picture, painting it while he played. “Your color is red. Get used to it,” she said playfully, as if that was the only way to convince him.
 

“And what’s yours? Purple?” he said, picking a random color, as he already knew the answer.
 

The princess cracked a smile. “Purple is a shade of violet. And no, I am not violet. Just because I like that color, doesn’t mean it’s my true color.”
 

“What is your true color?” he asked casually.

Let me guess, green.
 

“Green,” she said, continuing to paint her picture.
 

“How the hell do you know that?”
 

“Because… I just do,” Emerald said simply, not meeting his eyes.
 

Kyle watched her dab globs of different colors together on a clean section of her palette, mixing them. “What are you doing?” he asked, curious.
 

“I’m making black.”
 

“Wouldn’t it be easier to just use black paint?”
 

Emerald gave him a smile. “I suppose it would, but I like making mine.”
 

Kyle continued to watch her mix, until the paints uniformly turned dark. “So black is all of the colors mixed together?”
 

“It is if you are talking about pigments,” Emerald explained. “But if you are referring to light, all of the colors combined makes white.” She made a few black strokes on her painting, then picked up another brush, dabbing it with red paint.
 

“Why do you think my color is red?” Kyle asked curiously, setting his guitar down off to the side. He grabbed an ashtray next to him, putting out the cigarette.
 

“You always seem angry.”
 

Kyle snorted at her answer, slightly amused. “That hurts, Em! Do I really come off as an asshole that much?”
 

Emerald leaned over her painting, her face hovering two inches in front of his. Kyle’s heart began to pound in his chest, unsure of what she was going to do.
 

There was a long pause between them, both of them unmoving.
 

Oh God… Kyle thought, staring at her bright eyes. Oh my fucking God…
 

Suddenly, he was startled by a wet brush stroke of paint on the side of his face.
 

Emerald leaned back to her painting, giggling. “Yes, most of the time,” she teased.

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© 2020 Beth Hodgson