From your point of view, it has been sweeps, ageless, timeless, unending and slow at the same time as precious and racing. In reality, the span that this time on your new planet, Zodiaus (named by the ever-clever John; “It’s like Zodiac, right? And that’s what your symbols are!”) with the humans has only spanned a few years. In fact, today would mark the third anniversary of your mixed group’s defeat of the Demon English and transportation to your newly born universe. A sacred day on this planet, celebrated by it’s trollian, human, and mix-breed inhabitants like Twelfth-Perigee’s Eve or Christmas. And even more so celebrated by your group of cohorts, who barely over three years ago had no indication they would survive to see this day.
You should be celebrating it now. If you could manage to pull yourself away from your extremely warm, extremely snuggly, extremely unhappy, matesprit.
Today was a day of celebration for most on this planet, but in the years that you have been here, you have found that it is mainly a day of mourning and struggle for a certain Rose Lalonde. It is the day you wake up to the choked sounds of Eldritch tongues writhing out of her throat, though her link to the tentacled Outer Gods has long since been cut. It is the day her body fails to hold in it’s dark aura and spills inky darkness upon everything around your respiteblock that your own ethereal light is not cast upon, dragging you both into a world of black and white. It is the day that she remembers that her mother, wrenched from a Dream Bubble to live again, threw herself in front of a blade guided by her two-time killer, though it was always meant for Rose, and the matriarch’s blood splashed onto the daughter’s being, into her soul, as she heard the harsh cry of “Stay away from my daughter, you bastard!”
Rose said that her problem with Piral thirteenth was that she had Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder, and though you didn’t know exactly what that was, you guessed that it had something to do with the fact that she always held in every problem she had, and like clockwork, she needed it out, out, so it didn’t destroy her completely.
You had the same problem, though it came out in different ways. And so, as Rose woke up, face streaming with ashen tears, you went through your own catharsis, and held your love close as you wove words, making sense out of everything. Your relief every year was observation and reflection, remembering that all that happened to the two of you was not always a bad thing. She fell asleep agian as you pulled therapeutic adjectives from the dark air.
You started this year, as you had the past two, looking down at where your glowing white hand met Rose’s pale and writhing skin. Both of you used to be so different, but now you were both marked unlike any other. Where your skin used to be grey, perfectly between white and black with a mere tinge of your jade blood, and darker than the others’ due to your diurnal lifestyle, it is now whiter than white, a level of bright that surpasses that of the brightest lights humans ever had- LED, you think they’re called- and like these lights, your skin is difficult to look at as pure white, and the mind occasionally slips into believing that it is, in fact, a very radiant green, so shining you have to squint slightly to observe.
And Rose… oh, Rose. Her skin, from your life of observing her own, was never quite the tan-apricot of her brother, nor the sandy tan of the Egbert-Harley twins, but all the same, her pale peach skin was never out of place on her. Now, though, her skin pulsed all the time between a nearly-normal khaki brown, dark but acceptable, into a grey not unlike that of a troll, though tinted slightly with some very human orange-pink color. What really wrenches the heart and cement’s the girl’s inhumanity, though, was the runic writing flitting across the skin at all times, black as doom and not always understandable. On occasion, you could spot Alternian glyphs, though more often than not they were lost to the whorls and swirls of the Outer Ring.
At times like these, you could tell that Rose was bothered like she was herself a book; when calm, her ashen skin was relatively untouched by the obsidian etchings dancing over her, but once she began scaling the heights of emotion, they became constant writhing features, and at times like this, none of her now-typical skin could be spotted due to the activity of the letters.
You bend down and kiss your love’s cheek, relishing the sight of her glowing fuchsia-on-white eyes fluttering open for a moment and focusing on you, as black skitters away from where your vermilion lips made contact. The spot stays relatively unmarked and grows, which you happily note as an improvement from last year, before returning to your thoughts.
You focus, now, on the illuminated bedspread below the both of you. Rose’s aura doesn’t affect something your own is touching, and for a moment you study the flat red expanse. There are nearly invisible shadows highlighting the wrinkles on the fabric, though not very defined due to your glow. You frown a moment, considering your next thought. Shadow has become a… very sensitive topic for both of you, and it’s difficult to think about it, though you have often, over the years.
It’s more than difficult to pretend you’re normal when you’re going about your business as a world leader and a small child walks up to your girlfriend and asks her why she has no shadow.
When you first became a Rainbow Drinker, you were elated to find out that you could still cast a shadow in the right light. Silhouette had always been one of your favorite things, and a guilty pleasure of yours on Alternia had been making an outfit based purely on the shadow it would cast on the wall or sand as you walked around in it. While your shadow was dimmer now- a result of casting your own light- and nonexistent because of your glow in weak light altogether, you could still have the pleasure of casting one when you wished. Rose didn’t have that ability.
Though she initially cast a shadow after being possessed by the Elder Gods and her false-recovery from said incident, once she set foot upon Zodiaus the severing of her ties with the Eldritch lords forced her body to take many changes. Rose told you bluntly in the months following the transformation that she could deal with being a “living pillar of granite and ice, tattooed with the shifting curses of an abandoned universe twice over,” and that secretly, she rather enjoyed it. But, as she related to you on a night that lasted far too long, filled with tears both black and jade, having no shadow made her feel as though she did not exist. Because, as she had reasoned, nothing solid and real went without casting a shadow at some point. Though you never admitted it, you thought at the time that everything would be just a little bit better if you could see her shadow on your arm when you held her, or be able to tell she was coming by the darkness that fell on your desk, but over time you adjusted. It still shocks you every once in a while, but not as much as it does to look over on a bright, lovely day, and see Rose’s normally serene face twisted in sadness as she looks under her feet, where no shadow lies.
It took a long time of research, hard work by scientists and mages alike, to find out why, though no solid conclusion was ever drawn. It was merely said that in the end, Rose appeared to be absorbing the darkness created by light bending around her. It would be more accurate to say, you’ve always thought, that Rose is simply constantly emitting just enough directional light to cancel out the effects of her blocking of light around her, but nobody could ever prove either theory in the end.
Rose shifts in your arms and mutters something that sounds like, “g’flaglbyl K’nyayan,” and you smile because even if you never could even dream of understanding the demon tongues she spits when she’s in the throes of passion and dark emotion, that sometimes slips into during normal conversation, you can catch what Rose has told you is your name, and it sounds beautiful coming from her no matter what. Your fangs create small indentations in your lips as you smile wider; even faster now, and under your hands, the black runes are fading to their more natural state. You see your name drift lazily under a closed eye, and you lean down to kiss it. When you look again, it changes to the teen’s name, and then forms a sketchy heart before fading gently back to grey.
On a whim, you glance up. The thick veil of unspeakable blackness seems thinner and less oppressive now. Glancing at the far corner, you can almost make out the lines where the walls and ceiling meet, and sigh in relief. Typically, the whippy-black aura that flowed off of Rose did not bother you much. It was usually as much a sign of emotion as the glyphs that both marred and decorated her skin. You knew before you and she began courting that the ebony field occasionally surfaced when the Seer was upset or angry, but you learned- in a most unexpected way- that Rose usually controlled the tendrils, and rarely lost her hold unless emotionally heightened…. or startled.
You first kiss had been interesting. Months upon months- approaching the Piral anniversary in the first year, in fact- of dating Rose cautiously, and you planned it with excruciating detail. You walked your Greyscale-Angel, delicate and unbreakable all the same, to the door of her own respiteblock in the compound where the sixteen of you lived on Zodiaus. At her door, you exchanged simple pleasantries, the words seeming shallow to anyone listening, but to the two of you, they said galaxies and stars. And then, bracing yourself, you bent down and carefully feathered your jade lips across her own jet ones. When you opened your eyes again, everything around appeared to be somberly flirting with complete pitch and normal color, and a glance back at Rose proved that yes, she was blushing. It took several minutes for her to gain control again, though you could only tell by the way the black aura no longer peeked out from the door she had retreated into. Later the next day, with only a small leak of inky power into the air, she returned the kiss, with an apology and a satisfying progression past “feather,” nearly to “sloppy makeout.”
It had been wonderful to learn that the elegant teenager would erupt in shadow and darkness just as you brought her to the brink of ecstasy; that when your activities became less about creation and words and soft teasing and fun, and more about sweat and movement and passionate curses filling the air stained sweet and heady from your love, you could watch her erupt in ways physical and visual, and somehow that affected you more than just her euphoric convulsions alone. When you saw that as she preformed the dance of lust and soul-crushing beauty upon your own body, the half-existent whippets flew around as deftly as her hands, it crushed your soul from it’s ethereal beauty.
The Grimdark Aura that never quite left was something sad, yes, but you loved it; dear god, if it wasn’t as much a part of Rose as every other thing, you did not want to be told it was wrong to appreciate how it highlighted her beauty and actions. Every single movement that you had observed Rose performing, once upon a time through a computer screen, seemed all the more elegant and real the moment, at a burst of hormones or distraction, it was outlined by the obsidian cocoon.
Rose told you, once, that she had thought you were radiant before she met you, in a picture you had sent her over Pesterchum. You blushed (which made your cheeks emit an embarrassingly green glow) and told her to cease her facetious compliments, but she had continued, saying that you were radiant then, but so shining now it hurt to gaze upon you, as she said, were you smiling.
In the end everyone agreed that you two complimented each other nicely, the spaces where you overlapped like a Circular Comparison Chart, showing the darkness and light coexisting in a beautiful equilibrium.
But you’ve gotten off track now. Part of the healing process, Rose always says, is reflection. And you’re doing a poor job of it at this point, but it can’t be helped. you ghost a finger from snowy hair- like her skin, stained grey, breaking from the Horrorterrors had bleached Rose’s hair of pigment- behind her ear, the hollow that makes her gasp, tracing down her strong jawline, down the line of her throat, and you pause at her collarbone. Responding to the lack of movement, Rose shifts, mumbling blearily that she does not want to get up, it is far too early and too horrible of a day to do so. You plant a kiss on her forehead and remind her that she was the one to suggest a day of learning to the younger humans and trolls and halfbreeds, to teach them what was given up for their world, and that she took on the responsibility of leading many ceremonies herself. She told you politely to kindly go bucket yourself and allow her to sleep for just a few more everloving moments, lest she curse you to be unable to talk or write for a week. You chuckle and kiss her again before pulling her flush to your scarcely-clad body, allowing her to sleep again.
You know very well she could cast any number of spells on you, though she wouldn’t. Another ghostly remnant from The Game; while the others could only keep as much of their elemental powers as they had earned in the incipisphere, both you and Rose gained extra ones upon entering this world. Rose, along with her abilities as a Seer of Light, gradually found a talent for magic, and though she wouldn’t admit it, you know it thrills her to raise her hand and see and child be healed of wounds, or for her to mumble a word and see storms bloom across the sky. If she thought hard enough, even the intangible aura of darkness around her could be solidified itself. Her abilities were potent, and though they didn’t reach across all fields, she was the head of the Council of Magi on Zodiaus for a reason. You… well, other than enhancing your natural senses and physical abilities, becoming a Rainbow Drinker afforded you few extra luxuries. You could go weeks without sleeping if you chose to do so, and with concentration, you could fly, but it was not quite the same as Rose’s feats. You did like, though, that you never became ill, nor became injured easily, nor had to sup at regular intervals like the others.
Your fingers twitch down to your abdomen as you think of this. You enjoy food still, though it is…. difficult to eat it. Every player had their wounds healed when they came to this new galaxy, and you were no exception, but life dealt you a sore hand. You still possessed -and do to this day- a hole nearly six inches across in your torso, sealed off by skin, as though it is meant to exist. While you admit the novelty of being able to reach your hand through your middle (and other, more… erotic uses; the area is sensitive after all) still has not worn off, you wish that maybe it was possible for you to get more use out of your Nutrient Absorption Snake, because in all honesty, it is quite uncomfortable at this point to eat more than a small amount. You’re quite glad that Rose, both in a new body and healed by the new universe, has only a small tattoo-like marking of the Symbol of Light where she was killed long ago.
Your eyes are growing comfortably heavy, holding Rose’s warm body as close as you are. You shut them, though you don’t sleep, opting instead to think what you have always loved about you and your Grayscale Angel.
Once upon a time, before the Nightmare started, before the Scratch and the Door, and before Zodiaus was even the tadpole Bilious Slick, you loved a certain kind of literature. It told of Rainbow Drinkers, like you, who shone like the sun and were strong, passionate, persuasive and amazing beyond belief, and were created through luck and death. But they also told of Shadow Droppers, those who had been mentally touched by Gl’Bgolyb and offered power, only to realize they had been tricked into becoming puppets, and fighting back until they came to the surface of Alternia, spluttering curses at the Queen Lusus and her tricks, and never straying from their quest for knowledge and truth after that. And you absolutely adored, deep down, that despite your respective curses, you and Rose fit together just as those trolls in your literature; you were madly in love and complimented each other in ways that even the writers of the romantic novels could not comprehend. No, your relationship was not precisely this, but it was not less magical because of the similarities.
You hummed and smiled, happy that Rose was obviously doing so much better than she had in previous years. You hadn’t been woke up by screaming as much as a one-sided conversation, nearly civil, or as much as the language of the Outer Ring could be. Where you had previously had to clutch Rose out of fear of her hurting herself or others, now you merely held her caringly, her body spasming but not lashing in seizures that nearly tore the compound to pieces.
Finally, it has been well over a “few more moments,” and time is now crossing the threshold of an hour since you woke up Rose last. You open your eyes, focused on the wall over Rose’s shoulder, and see that light from the midmorning sun is streaming in, only obscured slightly by tendrils of ink in the air. Your eyes drift down to her face, and finally, they are open and not welling with ashen tears, or glowing faintly due to angst and power. You smile, and the edges of the lavender eyes crinkle as Rose smiles in turn.
“G-good morning, K’nyayan,” she says softly, stuttering through the soreness of her battered throat, and opting for the comfortable (for now) Eldtritchian version of your name. You don’t mind. It’s elegant and beautiful, flowing from her mouth like chocolate and honey and cream all at once.
“Are you feeling better, Rose?”
She sits up and stretches. “Much better, thank you. Have I wasted much of the day yet, sitting languid and wasteful in our boudoir?”
“You speak as though you were not deserving of your rest.” You pause. “I believe that Jade may well have been right when she said you would get better with time. It was much less violent today than before.”
“That is quite a thoughtful noise, Rose. What is it?”
“It’s just…” Rose stands up, leaving you feeling rather cold and alone at the lack of your matesprit’s presence. She turns to the window, and though you wish you had your arms around her still, you cannot find the will to complain about the sight of her bare back, perfectly curved, as light dances around it. Not shadow, but the absence of extra light, which these days is more than you expect, and you grin as Rose continues. “It’s just that I feel as though I should not be progressing past these fits, even though it’s been years. I suppose at one point it’s crossed my mind that I deserve this, for all I’ve done, but now, I don’t quite know what to think.”
You swiftly stand and wrap your arms around the stiff form of your love. Her bare back presses against your hardly-covered chest, and finally, she sighs.
“It’s not your fault. All of us were given a terrible share of recreational paperboard rectangles and it is safe to say that you were inflicted with the worst. As I have said before but will no doubt be required to say again, it is time to move on.”
Her chin nods against your arm, grey-on-white again, and slowly, she turns to you and embraces you back.
“Thank you, Kanaya.” You can barely hear it, but you smile and heave a breath of relief before kissing her forehead.
“My pleasure, love.” You pull away with no small reluctance, and motion towards your closet. “Now, let us locate something acceptably somber and yet celebratory to wear before John reaches the conclusion we have begun shoving flowers, yes?”
Finally, Rose smiles. Today may be a long day, but it is getting better, and you keep that in mind as you try and convince Rose not to use the fishnet-and-thermal ensemble, please.