The Color of Black

So far, every attempt at creating a red crystal had failed. Julia knew that she was missing something, some insight. After her talk with Aisha, she had gone back over all of Jason’s notes, looking for some clue. Every read through, however, turned up nothing. The temporal powder Aisha had brought her was purple. The temporal magic she had siphoned off of Thomas had been a bluish green. Nothing she had experienced suggested temporal magic would have a red crystal.

The blue crystals interfered with magic. Green crystals operated spatial magic. And purple revealed hidden knowledge. All of the colors she had seen temporal magic take on already had crystals associated with them. But if temporal magic wasn’t red, what was? Or had Jason left out red altogether? If so, what was the missing color?

Julia had been going around this particular circle for weeks, making no progress. Indeed, it felt as though the answer was moving further and further away. Was there even a puzzle to solve? Maybe there was never supposed to be another crystal; maybe Jason just put an extra space in the box. That would certainly fit with his chaotic nature.

Julia paused. Jason had two talents. The white crystals always kept his skill with raw magical energy at the front of everyone’s mind. But he also had a gift for chaos magic. Could that be the missing crystal?

She cleared off her workbench and laid out the colored crystals she had. Chaos magic was even more esoteric than temporal magic, and it was unlikely there were any resources she might draw on. Jason had left no notes on the subject. A wildness rose up from within, and moving quickly, she crushed all of the crystals into powder and blended them together. Then she added the last of the purple temporal powder.

The threads of the different magical energies were mixed together through the powder. Coaxing each one into a weave with the others, she could feel something important happening. As she worked, a new crystal slowly took shape. It was black, deeper than even the darkest part of the night sky. Staring into it, she could make out tiny dots of every color she had ever seen, and even some she had no names for.

When she finished, the wildness fled from her, and she felt completely drained. The crystal on the table seemed to shimmer and warp as though she were looking at it reflected in a funhouse mirror. Whatever had driven her to create it was gone now. Why had she created it? It seemed unlikely to help them in their current predicament. What was its use? She had solved the puzzle, but to what end?

Picking up the crystal in order to study it better, Julia felt a warmth extend from her hand up her arm. The warmth intensified to the point where it should have burned her, but the feeling went beyond pain. After a moment, she felt herself being pulled apart at the subatomic level. It still didn’t hurt, and an instant later, she felt nothing. Julia and the crystal had vanished, vaporizing into nothing.

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