The Shadows of Silverhigh

A young girl, only a decade old, shivered in her thin gray robes, as she stood before a panel of old men in pointy hats. In the center, two imposing wizards in robes of purple slouched smugly in their seats, secure in the knowledge that they possessed the most powerful color of magic. Flanking them were a pair of elegant wizards in dark blue, still rather confident in their abilities, and two disheveled magicians sporting robes of dark green. Green wizards seemed to lack the motivation to dress up, probably because they would be looked down upon anyway by anyone with a higher color of magic. The girl held in her pale shaking hands a clear tube, staring at it with her piercing green eyes, willing it to glow with color, any color. The tube remained clear. The wizards of the panel glared at her in disgust. “Your inability to use magic is a disgrace to the wizarding community. You are hereby banished from the wizard fortress of Silverhigh.”

The girl stood outside the gates of the castle of Silverhigh, the only pinpoint of light in a world of darkness. She turned away from its glowing gates, and walked into the world of black.

The flickering flames of a campfire reflected in the girl’s bright green eyes. She stared into its orange flames as if she had never seen anything that color ever before. An old man with brown eyes told her the story of his world. “The wizards, with their powerful magic made of colors now unknown to us, created Silverhigh, the only beacon of light in a world that knew only blackness. Then, they abandoned the world around them and retreated into its glowing depths, with its walls and everlasting light to protect them from the darkness outside.  But the great wizard Xanthus gave a message to his magicless servant before he retreated into Silverhigh. He told my great-great-great-grandmother to tell anyone with eyes of unknown color this: What is the color darker than purple?”

The girl had grown in her exile. Her face was hard, and her body lean and strong. Her voice was still that of a child, but it possessed an inner steel held only by those children forced to grow up too fast. “In Silverhigh, colors are everything.” she explained. “The least powerful wizards can only wield light green magic. As the color deepens into blue and then purple the magic gets more powerful, and harder to fight or detect. Magic a color darker than purple would be amazingly powerful.” She still gazed contemplatively into the fire. “Is it these colors here perhaps? The bright warm colors than you can only find in this dark world outside of Silverhigh?”

“Our colors here also have relative power.” The old man shook his head. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were made to directly oppose yours. After the wizards left, we first discovered yellow, as the sun rose on the first day. This color was our light in the darkness, allowing us to travel beyond the glowing borders of Silverhigh to make our own way in the world. Next, we discovered orange, from the magma deep beneath a black mountain. It gave us fire, and with that we could burn. It gave us our first taste of our own power, our first chance to build our own mighty empires to compete with Silverhigh. We burned lines in the earth, and these lines divided us. Thus, we discovered the last and most potent color when each group began its quest to be the most powerful, and most likely to survive. This was red, the color of blood, and the glorious color of war. Through war, we became strong. Now, we have used our colors to make weapons with destructive power that you can’t even imagine. Fire arrows, catapults, siege engines…”

“The wizards that work with your colors, do they have to be special in some way?”

“They are not magicians, just hardworking, smart people. Kings, specialists in the color yellow, control all others with their light and charisma, as well as ruthless ambition. Engineers focus on the color orange, and use its heat to build complex machines of war for their country, like those I mentioned earlier. Finally, fearsome warlords seek control over red, using complex strategy coupled with cold calculation to ensure that the blood of their foes stains their battle flags and borders with its beautiful scarlet hue.”

The girl’s eyes were narrow, calculating. “Within these colors may lie the answer to your question. I will investigate them all. Then, as the most powerful wizard in existence I will crack open the eggshell of Silverhigh and release its colors to light up the darkness that lies at the heart of this world.”

The young woman surveyed the wizard fortress of Silverhigh. She was now on the cusp of adulthood, with a full figure and a confident stride. This delicate castle, a glowing beacon of civilization, had no right to be called a fortress, she decided. She knew what a fortress was. It was a great solid wall of fire-blackened stone, peppered with dustings of black charcoal from fire arrows. It was a tight, spiral, staircase, its shallow stairs slick with blood, its narrow corridors echoing with pounding feet. It was a trench, with walls made of dirt littered with broken arrows and broken bones. It was a tunnel, slimy with mold, dank with a strong smell of fungus and a trace of iron and salt. It was a clammy hand in her own, a reassuring presence at her back, a battle cry in her ears. It was not open galleries and glass windows, sparkling banners and wide balconies. Once she had seen a fortress with a wide balcony, upon which stood a powerfully built man, arms crossed and feet spread, surveying his dominion. Her armies had pierced his lifeless limbs with no fewer than ten arrows, pinning him to the wall behind.

At the gates of Silverhigh, the young woman, her green eyes sparkling and golden crown gleaming in the light of the rising sun, raised a hand high and yelled “Fire!”. The glowing gates vanished in a cloud of black. A couple, with eyes as green as their robes and skin as pale as the silver walls behind them, watched from a wide balcony as a powerful silhouette emerged from the smoke. Her long black hair was a dark halo, leaving her pale face in a shadow broken only by the occasional glint of her green eyes. She smiled a predatory smile, revealing bone-white teeth filed to a point.

A young woman, dressed in a form fitting suit of black leather, stalked up to the main doors of Silverhigh. Her metal studded boots clicked menacingly against the polished marble walkway. A gardener observed in awe and fear as she reached the door, made a throwing motion with her arm, and emerged into the fortress’s sumptuous carpets through yet another cloud of black. Green wizards cleaning the halls later reported that she navigated its twisting corridors with conviction, never breaking her confident stride.

An imposing woman with fiery green eyes stood before a semi-circle of wizards, two in robes of deep purple, two in robes of dark blue, and two in robes of dark green. Behind the polished mahogany desktop and velvet-cushioned chairs, there was a painting of Silverhigh as the only beacon of light in a world of darkness. The wizards looked terrified, obviously caught in the middle of a decadent breakfast. “I am the ambassador from the kingdom of Xanthus.” The woman’s voice was strong, loud enough to carry across a battlefield. “And I have come to release your colors into a world where darkness reigns supreme. There will be green grass growing in our blood soaked fields, cleansing blue rain to douse the fires ravaging our forests, and purple capes to assuage the egos of those wearing crowns. This moment marks the ending of a dishonorable world, it will release the light of civilization to pierce the dark lives of a power-hungry warmongering race.”

Her pale hand seemed to move faster than was humanly possible. She pulled out a curved black tube, made of a strange material that glinted in the light of Silverhigh’s glowing walls. “Behold the color of my magic, the darkest color of them all.” She shot. The wizards died so quickly that they never saw the red of their blood.

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