(From a fantasy I wrote a few years ago, about a mute girl trying to survive being dropped into an underground world. She has the ability to paint pictures on the air.)
‘The noisy crowds near to them stilled as she raised her sensitive fingers and began to spread colors like liquid paint out over the tops of their heads.
Greens, like a carpet spread on the ground at the bottom of the picture, and blue spread along the top, stretching up painted space in between, making the inner world of her drawing vast. Here was freedom, and little black flecks began to appear in the blue, soaring and skipping along wind currents.
“Ahh,” the audience sighed, for although there were no birds in the caverns, still the legend of them was passed down. The painted picture soared too, lowering to the green, appearing now as plant life and trees and bouncing creeks and rock beds. Lightness and beauty captivated the eye, for a moment.
But then, a shadow glinted in front of the sunlight, and a sudden mass of gray stone arrested the other colors. Xerai felt in his instincts that here was a lock to possibilities. This large stone castle, not pretty like the Citadel in Istish, dominated her painting now. It rose, solid and unbending, and the free flight of the birds sheered off to the sides. The painting changed and the viewers were brought inside the castle, to see tapestries on the walls, rooms of books lined in tidy precision on the shelves, long skinny chambers with dormitories of little beds, and at last, sedate adults wearing ornate hats on their heads and pacing out somberness as they walked.
And finally, a large room filled with children. Some were curly-haired and tiny, some slim and quick, and all wore the flowing bright colored clothes that Zephyr chose. A few toys, which looked dull and flat, sat on tables. And the children sitting at them, each one so stifled that it seemed that even Istish was silent behind them, held up their small hands.
Xerai felt his heart beating. It was incredible that Zephyr could paint this scene in such detail and with so many colors. For in her Thought Energy drawing each little child in the scene began to paint pictures like Zephyr was doing. And each child’s personality was reflected in the drawing they painted. Some colors were feminine, pinks and lemon yellows and lavenders. Some children’s colors were dark and brusque. Some of the tiny pictures reflected simple things like food and beds and books. But some were more ethereal, filled with yearnings and aching, and half-formed pictures of nothing discernible.
Zephyr’s painting began to change direction, to focus, one by one, on each little child’s face. Eyes, empty, sad, she pummeled her audience from young person to young person, demanding Istish see. As if she were searching for something in their gazes, as if hope were a quantity that had to be captured there and laid out for each one to share.
Suddenly in a wealth of emotion, the TE picture burst and flared in intensity, the distinctive elements of the picture fading, and it all rolling into a ball of flashing colors. Frustration, defiance, Zephyr let them know that she was demanding life, and to be heard; that these children mattered, even though individual faces would soon be forgotten.’