idol prize fight | week 16 | 900 words
Late one winter night, after the moon was gone, a creature named Inkling was born on a wisp of cloud.
Inkling was a shadow-child, formed from a scrap of Night.
Night had many lovers, for she was mysterious and beautiful, and Inkling's father was among them. He was Ink, a writer of great passion, and Night was destined to love him. She had always been powerless to resist the magic of anyone who could make words flow like music.
Night's children were as different as her lovers, all with their own secrets and habits. Suspicion and Doubt were kindred spirits, both fathered by Despair. They lurked in the dark undersides of the world, unpredictable and feared. Their attacks were often fleeting, but for some they were mercilessly difficult to dissuade. They were sometimes seen with Stillness, rumored to be the son of Death.
Nightmare and Dreamlet were the daughters of Dreaming, and Silence the child of Sleep. Inkling was closer to all three than to his older brother, Jetblack, who was vain and cared only for his own image—a slick rejection of his father's artistic thoughts.
For Inkling, artistry was everywhere. The world was full of creative opportunities, and he was passionately devoted to bringing them forth.
He slipped through patches of darkness, making his way into homes and studios where he might discover a budding painter, a musician, an author, a poet. There, he watched and listened in secret silence, wondering what each soul needed most.
When an idea formed, he was there, whispering ideas into the ears of his artists while they slept.
He waited for a time afterward, hiding in the shadows near the desk or easel where each person worked, or in the black space inside a typewriter or piano. Would anything come of the notions he'd offered? Would they take hold and bloom into something more?
The results were never certain. Artistry was an elusive magic, deeply tied to nature and talents of the artist. Moreover, there were times when Inkling was not always alone.
Some evenings, Inkling found himself whispering in one ear, and his sister Dreamlet in the other. Who knew what might come of it all later on?
There were also days when he was forced to witness the fruits of his efforts being consumed by his brothers, Suspicion and Doubt. Whole battles were launched, whereby Inkling strove to reinforce his ideas each night against the coming erosion by his brothers when their chosen soul awoke.
Inkling's foes had the advantage, then. Together, the two of them were much stronger than he, and they were not bound to the crafts of subtlety and implication that so limited his power.
He rarely prevailed in those struggles. Too often, he fled and sought solace in the quiet cave where he made his home with a bat called Blink and a little black cat named Boo.
Wink often tried to cheer him up. She was Night's daughter by Eclipse, the most unusual of Inkling's sisters. Lighthearted and cheerful, she had a spirit all her own. Inkling adored her. She understood him better than anyone, and it put his heart at ease.
Come, she told him one night when Inkling's courage was waning. I've found someone I think you should meet.
Inkling followed, for his sister was seldom wrong. Oh, how that meeting changed him!
Inkling had rarely seen Day's children before. Compelled to live in darkness, he heeded nothing but the next shadow when he moved about while it was light. He never knew one of those strange cousins might supplant the beauty of Night.
He had glimpsed Spark before, an unpredictable fellow whose actions were dangerous as often as not. Inkling's brother, Rage, had resulted from the union of Spark and Night, and he was volatile and unpleasant. But Spark and Day had brought forth a daughter like no other.
Inspiration was absolutely stunning, and Inkling was dazzled by all she had to say.
The entirety of art was also her greatest love—and she could not resist trying to quicken it and help it grow. It was true that she worked with others, heartening heroes, spurring on soldiers, and emboldening explorers. But it was art that held the most cherished place in her heart.
Oh, what joy to find a kindred spirit at last! The two of them fell deeply in love.
At the junction of light and shadow, they could meet during the day, and Inspiration was freer than Inkling—she was not confined to moving solely by light.
They were counterparts, but they balanced in harmony rather than hostility. Strong enough to remain distinct from one another, they rejoiced in the areas where they coalesced.
They pursued their passion together. Inkling continued to send ideas while his would-be artists slept, and once they awoke, Inspiration intensified what emerged and offered courage when Suspicion and Doubt came to call. It was a perfect partnership.
Before long, Inkling and Boo moved to the castle in the forest where Inspiration made her home. She made a special room for Inkling with a library, a comfortable bed, and heavy drapes to help form the shadows he needed during the day. Their home was a haven built on love.
Together, they nurtured imagination and invention in their quest to change the world.
Together, they celebrated the beauty and wonder their devotion helped awaken in artists both new and old.
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