This Light Becomes My Art 3/3

Chapter 3 of 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

The storm gradually subsided. The lights flowing across the shield dome faded to a steady scintillation, then to an occasional flicker, and were gone. Far beneath the shield, Donvin sat beside Terlyn, lost in conversation while the party disappeared to somewhere else. The glow of the drink hummed through him. He sank into Terlyn’s shy smile, the swirling effervescence whenever their bodies touched.

A small drone studded with tiny gemstones flitted by to whisk away their empty glasses. Another drone unobtrusively slid fresh drinks in their place. Donvin and Terlyn sipped their replenished drinks as they talked for long hours, each entranced by the other. The horizon glowed with the promise of dawn when Kalaian appeared at Donvin’s shoulder. She perched gracefully on the arm of the sofa, fingers running through Donvin’s hair. The gem at her throat glowed a steady red. “There you are! I wondered where you’d got off to. I seem to recall we have an unfinished conversation to attend to.”

Donvin shook himself, realizing for the first time that the park had somehow emptied of nearly all the guests. Drones darted about carrying off furniture. The luminous flowers on the low hedge wall had already faded in the light of the approaching morning. Softly glowing petals fell in mounds at the feet of the hedges. The statues, too, had lost some of their glow with the oncoming sun.

“I, um, wow, I—” Donvin stammered.

Kalaian’s necklace burned brighter. She grinned impishly at him. “Preoccupied with your new friend?” She turned to Terlyn. “Terlyn, yes? I’ve seen you around in the Garden a few times, but I don’t think we’ve ever been introduced. Seems a bit strange that we should only meet after I leave the Quickener to start my service to the Lady.”

Terlyn inclined her head. “You host a lovely party.”

“Thank you. You seem to be enjoying Donvin’s hospitality.”

Heat touched Terlyn’s face. “I suppose I wasn’t very present, was I? I was supposed to mingle. I didn’t realize how late it had gotten…” Her voice trailed off.

Kalaian chuckled. “I understand completely. Donvin can be quite charming. Distracting, even.” She slid her hands over his shoulders. 

“Um, if you two have things to talk about—”

The light at Kalaian’s throat blazed. “Oh, I’m sure Donvin won’t mind if our…conversation waits a bit longer.” She gave him a coquettish wink. “These sorts of conversations can be so much more satisfying when they’re given plenty of time and patience, isn’t that right?” She placed a small kiss on Donvin’s cheek. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to intrude on your conversation, unless perhaps you care to join ours?”

Terlyn blinked rapidly. “I, um, thank you, but I think we were just wrapping up. I didn’t realize we’d talked so long.”

Kalaian slipped onto Donvin’s lap. The butterflies fluttered around her head for a moment before dissolving into sprays of speckled light. “Donvin is lovely that way. His conversations can extend for hours. He does enjoy a nice leisurely…talk.” She draped an arm across her shoulder. Flowers bloomed along her side, the petals breaking free to flutter away as butterflies.

“Yes, well, if you’re finished teasing us,” Donvin said, sliding an arm about her waist.

“Is that what I’m doing?” Kalaian assumed an expression of pious innocence. “That doesn’t sound like me.” She leaned forward with a mischievous grin. “I thought I was doing the opposite of teasing. A three-way conversation sounds like fun!” The gem flared bright.

“Oh!” Terlyn said. “Oh, I, no, that, um…” She looked around. “It’s much later than I realized! I should be off. To bed. Um. Alone, I mean.” She bolted upright. Kalaian rose gracefully from Donvin’s lap. “Thank you for your hospitality,” Terlyn said.

“You’re welcome,” Kalaian said. “I’m pleased you attended, and I hope to see you again in the future.” They both bowed. Terlyn fled down the path between the rows of graceful statues, now completely quiescent, their luminous radiance faded to nothing.

Kalaian slipped into the space Terlyn had just vacated. “Did I come at a bad time? You seemed like you might be ready for a deeper conversation with her.”

“Hmm? No! I…we were just talking. Nothing impetuous at all.”

“Really?” Kalaian leaned back. “Who are you, and why do you look like Donvin?”

Donvin chuckled. “Not every conversation needs to end with—”

“Ecstasy?” Kalaian interjected, face once more a study of devout innocence. “I’ve heard that. I seem to recall we need to conclude our conversation on just that very subject.” Her fingers brushed Donvin’s lips. “So, what do you have to say?”

“Come here and let me tell you.” Their lips met. The kiss endured, extending for a timeless eternity.

When at last it ended, Kalaian chuckled, a low, throaty sound. Her necklace burned with fiery radiance. “You make a compelling argument.” She slipped her hands into his robe, spreading her palms across his chest. “Allow me to retort.”

“Please do.”

They kissed again, longer this time. Kalaian’s tongue fluttered against Donvin’s lips, light as a feather. Donvin caressed her shoulders. The butterflies scrambled away from his hands, a burst of colour swirling across her back. She purred and pressed herself against him.

Presently, she stood and offered Donvin her hand. “Perhaps we should continue this conversation somewhere more suitable?”

Hand in hand, they walked down the pathway toward the nearest pod terminal. Butterflies fluttered in her wake. Behind them, a swarm of tiny glittering things poured from the Provider. The statues collapsed and dissolved into the waving grass.

Two weeks later, Donvin sat at a small table in an open courtyard, basking in the warmth of the afternoon sun, mug of tea in hand. A noisy, laughing crowd of people in the red and black kilts of worshippers of the Wild flowed around him, chasing and teasing one another as they played a rowdy game of Capture the Turtle. Donvin caught a quick glimpse from the corner of his eye of a short figure, bronze skin, green hair. In a blink, the group was gone.

He smiled to himself as a momentary memory floated through his mind. Then, with a shrug, he reached out to Terlyn.

Her voice materialized in his head. Hi! I wasn’t expecting to hear from you again.

I just happened to be thinking of you, he sent back. Am I intruding?

No! Not at all! I, um…I enjoyed meeting you.

So did I, he sent. I’d love to continue our conversation. Not that way! he added hastily.

No? Am I not your type?

It’s not that! Donvin’s fingers curled around his mug and he brought it to his lips for a bracing sip. I didn’t mean—I just—hey! You’re getting me flustered on purpose, aren’t you?

If I say I am, would you like that?

Donvin snorted aloud. I was just thinking, I’d love to spend some time with you again, whenever you’re available.

I’m not doing anything right now. What are you doing?

Meeting you, I hope.

Terminal station by the Garden?

I’ll be there!

Less than half an hour later, Donvin stood at the base of a float tube. Above him, an ornate marble temple hovered silently in the air, the grand banquet painted across the base flowing and moving as he watched.

Terlyn drifted weightlessly down the tube, angelic in the draped folds of the long dress that floated around her. The impressionistic leaves and vines decorating the dress glowed in the sunlight. Two large, translucent panels attached at her wrists billowed in the float field, giving Donvin an impression of wings. She alighted gently at the base of the tube. “Hi!”

Donvin bowed low. “Good afternoon, Terlyn of the Quickener.”

She returned his bow. “Good afternoon, Donvin of the Lady.” She straightened, laughing. “I’m glad you called.”

“Whew!” Donvin said. “That’s a relief. This might be rather awkward otherwise.” He grinned impishly.

“What would you like to do?”

“Get to know you a little better. We’re near the Garden. You could show me around if you like.”

Terlyn sighed and shook her head. “I’d rather not. Two of my mothers are there right now.”

“Is that bad?”

“No, it’s not bad, it’s just…it’s complicated. People in my family group are kind of, well…it’s more or less assumed we’ll worship the Quickener.”

“And that doesn’t appeal to you?”

“It’s not that! It’s just…I want it to be real, you know? Something I truly want to do. When you’re from the Everessa family group, it can be hard to separate what you want to do from what the name expects of you.” She blinked. “Never mind. Anyway.”

“I suppose I was the one to reach out to you, so…” He thought for a moment. “A friend of mine is doing a performance at the Temple of the Lady. Interested?”

“Sure! Why not?”

They walked across the Temple District toward the fantastical, surreal Temple of the Lady, with its grand arches and swooping curves that seemed to defy geometry. Paths tiled in stone radiated out from the entrance through a large park in front of the Temple like spokes on a wheel, lined with a mixture of still and shifting, transforming sculptures. Small streams filled with glittering fish threaded through the park, their edges lined with carefully designed flowers in a glorious variety of colors. Three people in gauzy purple clothes assembled sections of an enormous contraption of some sort made of a frame of tubular steel stretched with colorful taut fabric, while a fourth sat in a small rounded depression atop it. As Donvin and Terlyn watched, it caught the breeze and catapulted into the sky on long silvery cords. The people on the ground whooped and cheered.

They passed through the high, arched entryway, its stones covered in engraved calligraphy inlaid with platinum, into the dizzying space beyond. Vast columns of light gray marble supported an elaborate ceiling decorated with vivid frescoes in an array of colors showing dancing figures trailing long ribbons, faces suffused with joy.

“Have you worshipped the Lady long?” Terlyn said.

Donvin shrugged. “Maybe a hundred and twenty years, I guess? Perhaps a bit longer. This way!”

He led her down the hallway into a large circular chamber with a domed roof, where a handful of people gathered with eager expressions. Light streamed from curved windows at the base of the dome. Brilliant designs spiraled up the walls, elaborate calligraphy telling the story of the first Avatar of the Lady designing this very temple. Drones flitted here and there, arranging soft cushions around a ring of small float-field generators beneath the dome. A long, curved frame hung from the ceiling, strung with a dense bundle of fine threads that spooled from reels around the dome’s edge. “What’s going on?” Terlyn said.

Donvin grinned. “You’ll see.” He seated himself and gestured for her to sit beside him.

The drones finished setting out the cushions. More people filtered in, claiming clusters of cushions around the room. A delta-winged drone decorated with bands of gleaming colored glass swooped down to offer them drinks. Donvin and Terlyn each plucked a glass from the tray it carried.

Slowly, the windows grew more opaque. As the room dimmed, the bundle of threads began to glow, each individual strand radiating rainbow light into the chamber. A murmur ran through the audience.

A door opened in the far wall to admit a small, lissome woman standing barely as tall as Donvin’s shoulder. She wore no clothing. Fine fur covered her body, rippling with brilliant iridescent patterns in vivid colors: orange, yellow, blue, violet, and green. Four long, slender, jointed appendages extended from her back, each covered with a hard shell of glossy black, faint iridescence playing across them like a thin film of oil on water. Each was tipped with a small, bright red hook.

The room grew quiet. She looked gravely at the audience through large eyes of luminous violet. “I am Avatar Arashnäi of the Lady,” she said in a soft, euphonic voice, “and I thank you for witnessing my art.”

Terlyn leaned in close. “You didn’t tell me your friend was Avatar!”

“I knew her before her Dance of Sacrifice.”

Arashnäi leaped gracefully into the float field. The dense skein of threads began to move through the frame. One of the appendages on her back whipped out to hook a thin strand of scarlet thread. It vibrated with a soft chime that filled the chamber.

Silently, the loom came to life. The threads fed down from the ceiling through the top of the frame. A mechanical puck shuttled back and forth near its base. Avatar Arashnäi looped and soared, lifting and plucking the glowing strands with hands, feet, and hooks. Every thread she touched sang out with its own bright, clear sound. Poignant music filled the air, drawn from the threads as Arashnäi flitted about. A colorful patterned tapestry emerged from the loom as Arashnäi played her haunting music.

Donvin and Terlyn sat in breathless wonder, captivated by Arashnäi’s dance. The dance blended seamlessly with the music she drew from the glowing lines and the tapestry they created, until it became impossible to tell which was the more expressive: Arashnäi’s form twisting gracefully through the air, the iridescent colors that flowed like a living thing over her body as she moved, the rich, beautiful music she called forth from the glowing strands, or the luxurious designs woven into the long tapestry that coiled from her giant loom. Terlyn leaned against Donvin, spellbound.

The music and the dance went on and on, each an indivisible part of the other, until with a few final deft twists the thread ran out. The glow faded from the long tapestry. The float field gently lowered Arashnäi to the ground. She bowed and, without a word, left through the door she’d come in through. A utility drone rolled the tapestry up and followed behind.

The spell gradually lifted. The audience stirred. Voices filled the space. Terlyn took a breath for the first time in what seemed like an age. “That was extraordinary!” 

“Yes. I can’t wait to see Avatar Arashnäi’s masterwork.”

“You mean that wasn’t it?” Terlyn said.

“Oh, no. That was just one voice. The fabric she wove contains an impression of the music she just created. What we saw is a single voice in a symphony she is assembling. When she’s finished with each voice, she will take all the pieces she’s woven and play them all together the evening before the next Dance of Sacrifice.”

“Wow.” Terlyn slipped her hand in Donvin’s. Hand in hand, they left the Temple of the Lady and emerged blinking into the sun. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Showing me some small part of why you worship the Lady. That was exquisite.”

“You’re welcome.”

They wandered the Temple District for a time, still holding hands, until at last their meandering path took them to a pod terminal. Terlyn stopped at the edge of the float tube. “I have to go. This has been a wonderful day.”

“Can I see you again?”

“Yes.” Terlyn squeezed his hand. Her eyes shone. “I look forward to learning more about you, Donvin of the Lady.”

This Light Becomes My Art 2/3

Chapter 2 of 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

Hand in hand, Donvin and Kalaian walked to the shimmering archway. Butterflies twirled and dipped in Kalaian’s wake. The setting sun stretched fingers of orange light across the sky. Clusters of small glowing flowers peeked out from the hedges outlining the park, casting a gentle green glow. Golden rivers of light flared and twisted overhead as they directed the rain away from the City. Donvin’s swooping statues gleamed with faint luminescence, lighting the path. The scalloped pools shone with an internal light, red and purple and green and gold rippling through the surface of the water. Behind them, a last swarm of glittering gnats smoothed away the place where they’d coupled, the drone’s helpful pillow collapsing and vanishing in a sharp blue flare.

A dronelight shaped like a slender bird with narrow, forward-swept wings escorted a slim, sleek figure, pale skin decorated with loops and whorls of fine gold chain. Long, fluttering ribbons of brightly-colored silk crossed their chest, arms, hips, and legs, fluttering in a non-existent breeze, growing wider as they streamed behind them. “Maryalah!” Kalaian exclaimed. “Thank you for coming. Donvin, this is Priestess Maryalah, my sponsor. Maryalah, this is my…um, friend Donvin.”

Maryalah bowed. “My pleasure.” To Kalaian, they said, “What a gorgeous tattoo! How lovely!” Kalaian blushed and bowed. “Grand High Priest Astlyn sends his welcome. He has asked me to extend his regrets that he will be unable to attend. This is for you.” They presented Kalaian with a dazzling, multifaceted red gem on a fine chain. “The greater your joy, the brighter it will glow.”

Kalaian bowed again. “Thank you!” She fastened the chain around her neck. Immediately, the gemstone shone with a deep red light. Subtle shapes danced within it. The butterflies that flowed across her skin, confused by the chain, fluttered in circles for a moment before they found a path around the necklace, across her breast to her shoulder.

More guests approached, accompanied by bobbing dronelights. The dronelights dimmed as they came near, allowing the soft light of the flowers and statues and the rippling radiance from the pools to take over. Kalaian greeted each guest with a bow. Donvin recognized many priests, priestesses, and worshippers of the Lady. She introduced him to a scattered handful of other people, some worshippers of the Quickener, others her personal friends.

The sun settled behind the rim of the world, sending long streamers of shadow through the City. Golden light snaked across the shield dome, sending faint ripples scurrying across the grass. A dronelight shaped like a long ship, its square sail fluttering in the breeze, escorted two figures to the arch, where tiny gleaming flowers grew in profusion from the thin hanging vines. The figure in the lead, resplendent in a dress of green and teal that covered one arm and half her body but left one arm and one breast bare, moved with an effortless regal grace that radiated calm confidence. A complex assortment of narrow metal bands barely restrained her lush tangle of thick black hair. A shorter woman followed in her wake, bronze-skinned and green-eyed, wearing a simple tunic and pants the same emerald as her hair.

Kalaian’s face broke out in a broad grin. The pendant on her necklace glowed. “High Priestess Neveah! Thank you so much for coming!”

Neveah embraced her. “Where else would I be? I am sorry you’re leaving us, but I wish you well on your journey with the Lady.” She turned to the woman behind her. “Allow me to introduce my daughter Terlyn.”

Kalaian bowed. “This is my friend Donvin of the Lady.” She elbowed Donvin, who stood entranced, mouth hanging open.

“Ah! I’ve heard so much about you,” Neveah said. “I understand you’re the one responsible for luring Kalaian away from us.”

“Well, err, not exactly as such,” Donvin stammered. “I just, that is, yes, I suppose I did, didn’t I?”

Neveah chuckled. “May she bring joy to her service of the Lady.” She bowed low to Kalaian. “I look forward to sampling whatever delights you’ve created for us.”

“The pools contain a mild Blessing that facilitates connection,” Kalaian said. “You’ll find a variety of wines on the table. Those in the blue glasses contain the same Blessing. Please let me know if I can make you more comfortable.”

“Thank you.” Her eyes traveled up and down Kalaian’s form. “I will.”

When Neveah and Terlyn had passed, Kalaian chuckled in Donvin’s ear. “See something you like?” she cooed.


Kalaian giggled and took Donvin’s hand. “Come get wet with me!” She led Donvin to the central pool, large enough for a dozen people, surrounded by smaller pools just big enough for two or three. The water shimmered invitingly, red and gold. Kalaian unfastened Donvin’s shirt and ran her hands over his chest. She leaned close enough her lips almost brushed his skin. “Are you still feeling impertinent?” she murmured.

“Impetuous, even.”

“Good.” She unfastened his pants and let them fall. Her eyes flicked downward. “Oh, you certainly are!” Hand in his, she stepped into the pool. He followed her down. They slid between a novice he knew vaguely from worship of the Lady and a woman he’d never seen before.

The warm water loosened his muscles. A faint, pleasant scent, slightly spicy, rose from the steaming water. Donvin inhaled deeply. He closed his eyes and settled back. His skin tingled where Kalaian held his hand. The woman seated on his other side shifted slightly. His body buzzed delightfully at every point of contact between them.

“Hi! I’m Rashillia,” she said in a dreamy voice. “I don’t know you.”

“Donvin.” As the water worked his magic, he found himself drawn into her teal eyes. Ripples of light played over her dark skin.

“Would you like to touch me, Donvin?” she said, her voice slow and languid.

“Mm, yes please.”

She took his hand in hers, fingertips playing lightly over his palm. Electric currents ran up and down his arm. “I think hands are so sensual, don’t you?” she murmured, voice soft, languorous. She placed his hand on her cheek. “Would you like to kiss me?”

Donvin floated toward her. Eddies of pleasure shimmered up and down his back when their lips met. He was aware in some far-off corner of his mind of Kalaian kissing the person beside her, then Donvin fell down, down, down, into the glow of Rashillia’s eyes. She kissed him with a gentle delicacy that made his heart hammer.

Eventually, she rose with effortless grace. Water streamed from her body. She helped Donvin from the pool, her touch sending shivers through him. A small utility drone shaped like a flattened torus with tiny wings driven by spinning gears held out towels in long, silver-inscribed metal arms. Rashillia dried him gently with the soft towel. He shuddered at her caress.

She took his hand and led him to a long, soft couch that hovered silently just above the grass. On the way, she selected a glass from the stone table with its Providers. She drew him down beside her. Arm linked through his, she brought the glass to her lips. A tiny shudder, barely perceptible, traveled down her body when she swallowed. “Would you like some?” she said.


She lifted the glass to his lips. When he swallowed, a gentle radiant heat spread within him. His focus narrowed until all that existed was her skin against his, the light that danced in her eyes, the low throaty chuckle as she kissed the side of his neck. She pressed him onto his back and stretched out atop him, body soft against him.

Donvin wrapped his arms around her. The sounds of the party faded to a background murmur, distant and unimportant. He and Rashillia kissed, gently, her lips barely grazing his. He felt acute awareness of everywhere they touched: her fingers stroking the side of his face, her breath on his skin, her body pressed close to his. “Do you want me?” she breathed.

“Yes,” Donvin breathed.

Without haste, she lowered herself onto him, taking him inside her. Donvin ran his hands up her back. She buried her face in his neck with a sigh. He stared up at the sky, lost in the tinsel chaos of the rain against the shield dome. Rippling streamers of light snaked across the sky. Rashillia rocked her hips, each slow, subtle motion igniting ripples of pleasure across his skin like the golden light above.

Gradually, Rashillia slowed, until at last they lay together unmoving for a long moment that stretched out to eternity, simply basking in the feel of one another. “You are delightful,” she said. Whorling eddies danced over Donvin’s body. She ran her fingers through his hair. “Thank you for sharing this moment with me.” She placed a gentle kiss on his lips, so softly it stole his breath away, then rose and vanished into the party.

Donvin lay on his back for a long time, relishing the hum in his skin and the silent spectacle overhead. Presently he rose, summoned a black robe edged in red and a glittering amber drink from the Provider, and wandered through the party. All around him, people chatted, or basked in the pools, or had leisurely sex. A lean, graceful man with white hair and deep indigo skin spun long metal rods with balls of fire at their ends.

Through a momentary gap in the crowd, he spotted Kalaian reclining on a low couch, head back, eyes closed. A lithe, muscular man sat beside her, exploring her body with his hands. Another man with golden hair and golden skin knelt on the grass, face buried between her open legs. As he pleasured her, he stroked the first man’s rigid erection with patient care. The gem at Kalaian’s throat blazed with light. Phantasmal butterflies rose in a spiral above her. Her fingers twined through her kneeling lover’s hair. Music filled the air.

Eventually, Donvin’s wandering feet carried him to a far corner of the space, where a row of shield generators cast a faint haze that enclosed a collection of couches and chairs, arranged in several circles. He felt the faint whisper of the shield as he stepped through. The music faded to a barely audible murmur.

“Hi! Donvin, is it? You’re Novice Kalaian’s friend?”

Donvin looked around. “Hi!” he said to the woman reclining on a small couch, a soft pillow tucked behind her head. “Terlyn, right?”

Terlyn looked him up and down. “I’m impressed. Do you remember the names of everyone you’ve met tonight? It’s quite a large party.”

“Well, perhaps not everyone,” Donvin said.

“Then I’m flattered.” She moved aside to make room beside her. “Sit with me?”

“Sure!” Donvin seated himself beside her and sipped his drink. A pleasant haze settled around him. “Are you enjoying the party so far?”

“Truth be told, I’m not one for parties,” Terlyn confessed. “One of my mothers thinks I should get out more, so here I am.”

Donvin nodded. “I know what you mean. Being around crowds can get tiring after a while.”

Terlyn gazed out into the bustle beyond the faint shield, where a tall, nude man with blue skin decorated with bold scarlet designs walked past one of Donvin’s luminous statues. He sported outsized breasts, an erection larger than Donvin’s forearm decorated with the same jagged scarlet lines, and a long tail that ended in a spike. “He must worship the Lady,” she said. “I’ve never really understood her worshippers.”

“Hey, now!” Donvin said with mock hurt.

“No offense intended,” Terlyn said. She glanced at him slyly from the corner of her eye. “Or maybe a little bit. You did steal Kalaian away from us, after all.”

“You worship the Quickener, then?”

“I do. Most of the people in my family group do.”

“House Everessa?”

“I see our reputation precedes us. Again.” Some complex emotion flitted across her face and was gone, leaving no trace. She smiled at him and ran quick light fingertips over his arm. “Get me something to drink?”

“There’s a Provider right next to you.”

“I know.”

“What would you like?”

“Surprise me. It’s no fun asking the gods to surprise you, because they already know you better than you know yourself. I want you to surprise me.” Her fingertips touched the back of his hand, light and quick. “It’s the least you can do, for entrancing one of our worshippers into service to the Lady.”

“If I get you a drink, will all my sins be forgiven?” Light sparkled in Donvin’s eye.

“I don’t know all of your sins. Tell me of them when you’ve brought me a drink and we’ll see.”

“Ah, it’s to be that kind of night, is it? Perhaps I’ll bring one for myself as well.” Donvin drained his glass and rose. “I’ll be right back!”

Terlyn leaned back and looked up at him through half-lidded eyes. “The moments will seem like days until you return.”

Donvin stepped through the shield into the noise of the party. Music washed around him. He went to the table, where a utility drone with an astonishing profusion of multi-jointed arms had set out an array of wine glasses in a complex, colorful pattern. He hesitated for a moment and chose two blue glasses of exquisitely cut crystal, then returned to the sanctuary enclosed by the shield. Behind him, the drone deftly rearranged the glasses, filling in the spaces left by the ones he’d taken.

Terlyn beamed up at him. She accepted one of the glasses and patted the cushion beside her. Donvin sank down, almost but not quite touching her. “Thank you,” she said demurely.

“Don’t you want to ask what I got you?”

“Did you get yourself the same thing?”


“Then no.” Terlyn drained half her glass. “Mm, this is lovely.” She leaned toward him. “Now, Donvin of the Lady, tell me of your sins.”

This Light Becomes My Art 1/3

Chapter 1 of 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

“Donvin! Thank the Lady you’re here! This party is stressing me out.” Kalaian flung her arms wide. “I have no idea what to do, and it’s your fault I’m in this mess!”

“Greetings, Novice Kalaian! Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?” 

Kalaian paused her frantic tugging of her multicolored, hip-length hair, then flushed. A pleased smile spread across her face. “You know, I think you’re the first person to call me that!”

Donvin examined the small park thoughtfully. Right now, it was little more than a flat square of grass, a blank canvas ready to receive the artist’s touch. At Kalaian’s feet, the black square of a Provider lay inset into the ground, neatly trimmed grass growing around it. A small army of utility drones hovered politely at head height, awaiting instructions. “Having trouble thinking of what to do?”

“No!” Kalaian said. “Just the opposite. I have far too many ideas. The party starts in just a few hours, and I don’t know if I should create a winter paradise of glittering ice or a wonderland of floating lights or a music hall or—”

Donvin laughed. “I see the problem.”

Kalaian knelt in the grass and summoned a small terminal from the Provider. A glowing miniature of the park floated in front of them, ready to be shaped and molded. She threw her arms wide. The hologram grew until it filled the park, a faint shimmering image molded to the ground. “I want a theme that connects the Lady to the Quickener,” she said. “The official purpose of the party is to celebrate my service to the Lady, but I think it’s important to honor my past service to the Quickener, too.”

Donvin slipped an arm around her waist. “You could do a labyrinth.”

Kalaian shook her head. “I was thinking maybe pools for the main area.”

“Statues, then? Inspired by the statues in the Garden? Something that honors both the Quickener and the Lady?”

“Do you have any suggestions?”

“Perhaps one or two. May I?”

Kalaian kissed his cheek. “Thank you for helping me get ready.”

He called up a terminal of his own. At a flick of his fingertips, it came to life. He drew out images of the statues in the Garden, the voluptuous bare-chested figures that welcomed worshippers along the path to commune with the Quickener. Even now, the current Sacrifice to the Quickener slept in the middle of that diamond-shaped labyrinth of hedges, bound by vines whose thorns pierced her flesh as she lay prone on the boulder in the center. Worshippers were probably visiting her at this very moment, communing with the god through her slumbering body, waking her to ecstasy over and over again.

The statues floated silently before him, waiting. He walked around the faintly glowing images, examining them from all sides with an artist’s eye, then dismissed them with a gesture. He called up unformed columns of light in their place and set to work reshaping them with his hands, forming them into stylized impressions of the figures he’d dismissed.

As Donvin worked, Kalaian wandered through the park, molding and shaping the hologram with sweeping gestures. She sang as she worked, her voice filling the late afternoon air with crystalline joy.

Beyond the shield dome, a gentle spring rain started to fall. The shield flared golden with each falling drop, channeling and diverting the rain away from the City. Soon water streamed down the dome in twisting, glowing rivulets. Here and there, openings in the shield permitted the rain into spaces where the City’s citizens luxuriated in the shower.

Donvin fell into his task, lost in that space where all that existed was the formless void and the sinuous lines and forms he pulled from the half-conscious depths of his mind. Kalaian’s song swirled around him, light and exuberant.

He summoned another column of light and another, shaping and molding each with his hands until a line of stylized statues hovered in front of him, all smooth curves and swooping shapes, evocative of the statues in the Garden without being exactly like them. As he finished the last one, Kalaian came up from behind him to place a kiss on his cheek. “Those look amazing!”

“Thank you.” He grinned and kissed her. “How are you doing?”

“Come see!”

She led him through a shimmering, translucent park that floated about waist-high, its contours laid over the real park. In the center, she’d traced out a series of pools, terraced scallops swirling with steaming jewel-toned water, like shimmering molten gems. A long, low table of gray-flecked stone sat just beyond the pools, lined with Providers and surrounded by couches and chairs. A knee-high hedge followed the boundary of the park, bursting with brilliant flowers in vivid shades of orange and purple. A living green archway pierced the hedge, draped with thin flowering vines like a curtain. On the other side of the park, a cluster of couches and chairs formed a loose circle within a space marked out by symbols for shield generators.

“Where would you like the statues?” Donvin said.

“How about along the path from arch to pool?”

Donvin’s fingers danced over the terminal. The glowing holographic statues rearranged themselves. “Like this?”



“Let’s do it.” Kalaian stroked her terminal. The Provider in the ground flipped open. They both dropped their terminals into the black square and stepped back. A huge swarm of tiny, glittering gnats flowed out and set to work reshaping the park. The drones flitted about, darting off to drop chairs and tables in the spots laid out for them in the hologram.

“I have a gift for you,” Donvin said. “Something to celebrate your worship of the Lady.”

Kalaian chuckled. “You mean to celebrate dragging me away from the Quickener, surely.”

“Me?” Donvin assumed a look of pious mock horror. “I simply suggested someone of your talents might find joy in service to the Lady, that’s all.”

“So what gift do you have for me?” she purred, pressing against him.

“In order to properly receive it, you will need to disrobe.”

“Really?” She raised an eyebrow. “I like the sound of this already. Very well then.” She reached behind her neck to touch the fastener. Her lightweight, translucent dress floated to the ground, its scintillating colors gleaming in the sun. A small utility drone snatched it up and carried it away. “I’m curious about what you have for me that requires me to be unclothed.”

Donvin produced a small, heavy sphere of dark purple glass from his pocket. He held it out in the palm of his hand. Dim light swirled in its depths. Kalaian reached out to touch it. The moment her fingers brushed its surface, the sphere blazed with brilliance. Colors flowed up her arm and down her body, changing and swirling as they moved. Shapes coalesced from the flowing colors, vines with long stems and thick green leaves wrapping around her arm, down her side, across her leg. 

Buds unfurled along the vines into small flowers in delicate pastel shades. They spread wide, flinging out petals that transformed into brilliant, colorful butterflies, twisting loose from the vines to flutter across her chest and over the curve of her breasts. When they reached her shoulder, they floated free, hanging glittering in the air for a moment before fading.

Kalaian held out her arms and pirouetted. A stream of butterflies whirled in a spiral above her. She clapped her hands with delight. “I want to see!”

A round drone of brilliant blue metal inlaid with bands of dark wood drifted over to hover in front of her. The air before it flickered, then an image appeared before her, a mirror twin of herself. Kalaian laughed and turned this way and that. “It’s gorgeous!” She danced in a small circle, twirling with sinuous grace. The butterflies trailed behind her. “Thank you! It’s lovely!”

The mirror-Kalaian vanished. The drone flitted off. Donvin frowned. He stroked her side with his fingertips, tweaking the shape of one of the vines as it wound around her body. He ran his fingers up over her breast, extending a set of leaves behind them.

Kalaian’s breath caught. She took his hand in hers and folded it over her breast. “Oh. You can’t just tease me like that and not follow through.”

“I can’t?” Donvin grinned. “Why not?”

“Because that would be unfair.” Kalaian ran her fingers over his face. “And I know you wouldn’t want to be unfair.”

“I wouldn’t. Especially on your special day.” He leaned forward. Their lips met.

Around them, the drones darted about, carrying and shifting things. The swarm reshaped the park, its contours flowing like liquid. Donvin and Kalaian ignored the chaos, lost in each other. She slid his hand down her body with a sigh.

Donvin wrapped his arms around her, hands warm against her skin. A sparkling cloud of butterflies fluttered around them. Her tongue flickered against his lips. Her hands slid along his trousers. “Ooh, what’s this? I think you have something else for me, too!”

“If you like,” Donvin said. “I’d hate to be presumptuous.”

“Oh, be presumptuous,” she said. “Perhaps I like when you presume.” She unfastened the front of his pants and grinned mischievously. “Well hello there, you do seem to be in quite the audacious mood! How delicious.”

Donvin stepped back and lifted his shirt. She caught his hands. “It’s more fun if you don’t.” She pressed herself against him, warm skin on smooth fabric. Her fingers slipped into his waistband, exploring, stroking his growing erection. “Perhaps I want to be a little presumptuous myself.”

“I do appreciate a good display of presumption.”

Her eyes sparkled. “Your offer is acceptable.” She pressed him down to the grass in a cloud of small bright butterflies. The glittering throng of mechanical gnats flowed out of their way. Kalaian straddled him, adjusting his dark-colored pants just enough to free his thickening cock. She let out a small gasp as she settled atop him.

“You seem in quite a mood,” Donvin observed, breathless.

“Is that what this is? A mood?” Kalaian purred as she leaned over. She pressed a series of tiny kisses on his lips, feather light, as she shifted atop him. Donvin slid his hands up her sides. Butterflies tumbled around them. A shiver ran through her. She straightened, eyes closed, hands on Donvin’s chest. “Oh! Oh, I think you are getting downright impertinent.”

“Is there anything I can do to…lend a hand?”

“Yes! Yes there is.” Another shudder. “Just stay still, you impertinent man, you. Just…” She threw back her head and cried out.

A glittering green utility drone with iridescent wings drifted down with a large, soft pillow clasped in its gleaming metallic arms. It slipped the pillow behind Donvin’s head, tucking it comfortably under his neck. Above them, brilliant streamers of gold wrapped around the City, flowing along the shield dome. Kalaian moved faster, hips working against Donvin. Her fingers clutched his shirt. “You lovely, wonderfully audacious person! I’m…I’m…” Her body convulsed in ecstasy.

Donvin arched his back, driving deep into her. The drone chimed. “Oh!” Kalaian panted. “It’s time.” She hauled herself to her feet, lifting himself off him.

Donvin gasped, shuddering on the edge of orgasm. “Hey now! I—you—you—you dreadfully insolent—”


“I hope you’re intending to resume this conversation later!”

“Oh, certainly. I’m looking forward to it.” She extended her hand and helped him stagger to his feet. Her fingertips brushed the head of his cock. “Tuck this away. We wouldn’t want any guests thinking you are being impudent.” As Donvin sputtered, she tugged his trousers closed. “Once you’re in a fit state, be a dear and come help me greet people?”

“I’m not likely to be in a fit state until we finish our conversation,” Donvin grumbled. He smoothed down the front of his shirt.

Kalaian glanced back over her shoulder with a light joyful peal of laughter. “As long as you can pretend for the length of a party, that’s good enough!”