There was a small crowd in that little gallery at Lion Arch. Thysbe was contemplating the new work of the sylvari painter Jay. She was looking forward to each of her paintings, like a mortally wounded prey clings to life.
The light curves, the fatal colors. Pers eyes drowned in the talent and effort of the sylvari.
As usual, she felt alone in front of a larger purpose than herself, as if this painting had been only for her. And yet she felt irrevocably connected with all the visitors to the room.
There was no doubt ; there was only this painter to appease her. Even in the face of the cold and dark colors, the bloody and dull motifs, the tragic and dripping scenes of pathos, Thysbe was relieved, and yet she looked like anything but a living being in full elevation.
So many emotions jostled just by looking at the painting. The human must have looked like an indescribable mess. Halfway between absolute happiness and the paroxysm of pain. Between smiles and tears, her body burned as a shiver ran up her spine. Thysbe seemed to be a bird, just released from her cage, drowning in the lava. Pain, relief, love, indifference, peace, and conflict. She was in disarray in the face of the harmony created by a mere mortal.
Every time, it was the same thing : she still stand in front of one of Jay's works and could stay on it all day. Sweat would slip down her neck, tiredness would put her whole body to sleep and a strange feeling of fullness would overwhelm her with pride and kindness. Passion was shortening her breath.
« Can I help you in any way ? » asked a voice in a childish tone.
Thysbe plucked her eyes out of the painting and froze in front of the sylvari painter.
Jay sighed and put her hand on her neck to relieve the tension. It was exhausting to live her passion while commanding armies and answering questions from all her aesthetes.
At first, she hadn't paid attention, but after the thirteenth time, she noticed the little human. This one was completely frozen in front of her new painting. Jay wouldn't have noticed it if she hadn't come to the art gallery several times, always looking on in religious silence ; a priestess kneeling before the sudden holy apparition of her god.
She was a small human child, of average build. Her skin was abnormally white, almost sickly. But beyond that, she was of banal normality.
Another face in the setting of our lives. Another shadow in a blurred background. Another silhouette in peripheral vision. As frail as a poppy in the wind that withers before nightfall.
Jay breathed in and took her most delicate, sweetest possible voice.
« Can I help you in any way ? »
Her voice was the one used to talk to children who had lost their parents in the crowd.
The human turned her head. Jay's body stopped immediately and part of her brain ceased to function.
If the painter's mind was an assembly, all the members of that meeting were screaming, running around with their arms up in the air in panic. The lawyer would throw his things away and run away shouting, « We are doomed ! ». And together, the hands of her little minded diplomats clapped their faces.
She wasn't a child ; she was an adult. She deemed too quickly, too naturally.
And then... her eyes...
It was as if every color in Jay's painting had fallen into the eyes of that human. Mix and stain. Her eyes were like a painter's palette. The sylvari swallowed before she realized that the little woman was staring at her in awe.
Thysbe had stopped breathing. It was her. It was the painter Jay ! What did she have to deserve to be near her ? And she just talked to her ?! Thysbe was about to faint.
She was going to fall apart on her. So fragile. Jay hesitated for a moment before talking to her. Would those words break her ?
« Well, what do you think ? You can make comments without fear of reprisal, I assure you ! »
Jay looked falsely threatening and a peal of muffled laughter came out of Thysbe's lips.
« Every one of your paintings is a delightful encounter. I thank you for this journey. »
Jay blinked. Hold on a second. Then another. Had she gone deaf ? Her bioluminescent pattern intensified for a moment. The thief had lived through so many fights and compliments, yet she felt her heart warm.
The human had exhaled this gratitude like a moribund man giving his last, most important words of his life.
Everything seemed to disappear. Just the two of them. Two people discussing the same passion.
How long did it take ? A few seconds, a few minutes. In our solemn hour, the human felt alive, as if before that, she just existed. The ringing of the clock disappeared with the sound of the footsteps of passers-by. People's comments became murmurs, an echo so distant. But Thysbe continued to pray and to steal a few moments from Time.
Each of her words was another star in her dark sky. Each of her sentences was a bright constellation among the nebulae.
It's been a long time since Jay felt like this. It was similar to that one-on-one she had had with Braham, on that rock floating in the middle of nowhere. An absurd island in the universe with just one tree. A link to the world.
There was no doubt in Thysbe's mind that the painting was a bond that united everyone. One look, colors and a thread that binds us together in a universal promise.
They were derived from subject to subject, from analysis to analysis, like travelers in the sky observing in wonder a quasar between the norn constellation of the otter and the norn constellation of the hare.
Jay was stirring to explain the common inspiration that had come to her. Thysbe took advantage of the excitement of the explanation to observe her artist.
The little woman had always watched the artist from a distance, afraid to take the first step. To this day she was a coward; it was Jay who had come to Thysbe. Fear of the unknown clouds her heart. And now that they were standing face to face, Thysbe was no longer afraid. The trembling that took her legs and hands was not fear : but the effervescent reeling of exhilaration and excitement.
The body of the sylvari was trim, built by the battles of her life. Its red pattern streaked her bark colored by anise and key-lime, and appeared behind her armor of plants and flowers. The colors of her clothes supported the ruby of her eyes and her blurple leaf hair. Thysbe easily imagined her streamlined and agile form swirling in front of her works.
Some people said that artists were out of touch with reality, that they were just dreamers too afraid of the world. Is it true what they say, is she too blind to find a way ? But Thysbe couldn't imagine Jay any other way than dancing in the middle of the brushes with the paint running over her.
The paint covered her skin, the delicate hues took care of her eyes, the bright colors seeped into her glow, the iridescent shades colored her voice, and the shiny tones sucked the tips of her leaves.
There is no doubt that Thysbe preferred to enter this world and see through Jay's eyes. Who could deny that dreaming is the best way of living ? A colorful world where everyone finds his own tinge, the nuance of his soul.
Jay noticed the human eyes. Is there anyone in Tyria who could ignore the reflection in her eyes ?
« Does it bother you that I'm barefoot ? »
The chestnut head looked down and noticed the absence of boots. She hadn't even noticed how much the magic shimmer of art had absorbed her. The hazel hair tilted to the left and then to the right.
« It reminds me of Queen Jennah. »
Thysbe smiled and Jay followed the movement of the human's arms, which wrapped around her slim shoulders. A protective embrace.
« Few people can afford to walk freely. Never sacrifice that. Don't want to lose this ; it is the most precious thing we have. »
A painful reality tinted the crystal-clear voice of the admirer.
A touch of anxiety and melancholy touched Jay's heart and the only thing she could say was :
« I'll be careful. »
The human irises regained their radiance. She smiled.
They kept talking, debating, discussing all and nothing. Beyond the picture. They pierced the surface, reaching out their arms to each other's hands.
Their conversation was slow and invigorating, like the afternoon when the sun was already disappearing. The timbre of their voices mingled with the warm wind of this Zephyr season.
Their greetings were clumsy as if after telling each other their lives, their hopes, they had nothing more to say to each other. As if saying goodbye was beyond their strength.
« I hope very much to see you again ! » Shyness and embarrassment made the red sylvari pattern sparkle.
« I don't doubt it. » They still lived in the same world, after all.
The promise of not sinking into lies and social ideals filled the air. The promise to find ourselves as we are so that we can speak without limits, without pretense. The promise to contemplate without opinion. The promise to see who the other is.
It was a simple meeting and yet...
This is not the end.
It was a simple encounter and the beginning of a beautiful story.
Thysbe left with a smile on her face as radiant as the midday sun in summer and as powerful as hope.
There was still a small crowd in this little gallery of the Lion Arch despite the arrival of the evening. The painting was there, proudly hung and the delicate strokes of the brush seemed to outline a luminous glow, which in a forgotten language said, "Thank you for seeing who I was, beyond the first strokes. Thank you so much."