Rainbow of the Horizon—Illuminating Our Darkened Path
December has come by fast, being in its halfway already. The falling of snow anywhere is still relentless, even with it knowing that its time has become short before the spring comes in next year.
The schedule of Blue Ink is unique to every other school that follows the June-March schedule because of how exams are held a little early. But that system is so apparent in this time of the year, where mid-winter-spring break happens.
I said spring again, but the temperature barely even rise in January and February.
A couple of days ago in this obviously cold winter, a lot of revelations happened with a lot of clearance and confusions at the same time. Ginji Satoshi, he himself revealed that he is a 'coincidental existence' which could also be interpreted that he shares the same existence with Gin.
Along with that is the admittance of Gin that he is the talk of the town that fended off an explosion and apparently protecting the president from assassination. Until today, it still leaves G in awe as he is known for his admiration to the said Exile, and it was greatly supported with how much mobile his movements are, coinciding with Gin's still superior mobility.
And to top everything off, a lead was finally found in accordance to the objective of justifying Alex Ando, Jean Ando's older brother's falsely accused case of murder.
However, those are stories of the past now. The world and its dwellers thus move on with their lives of many colors. But there is always a story with the many days that passed.
With that everything said, I bet you're wondering who in the flying apples is telling all this now that it's obvious that G is not narrating anymore. This is Rin, at your service!
With regards to why Potato is not narrating…
Please wait a bit.
"Oh. Morning, Ringo," Shiro greeted, right after the sliding door opened and I greeted back.
"It's rare for you to come to the classroom alone. Where's your potato?" just as bored as Nacchi is, he unnecessarily added.
"He's down with the same old cold again. I don't think he can attend school for the remainder of this year."
Well, that pretty much explains why I'm narrating. His throat is busted again, as usual. With regards to how I came to school, I stole Potato's bike and gave Anna a ride.
Wait, surely Gin had never said this… but I guess this might also apply to G too. I've heard that he actually learned how to ride a bike at the age of 13. I do understand that it was because he is scarce of childhood, though
Wait a second, he's already attending school by that time!
Putting that aside, G has still been dumbfounded after his discovery that Potato is an Exile. It's already been so many days that his behavior isn't funny anymore. Lol.
And about Jean, he apparently had informed his brother about a lead that actually appeared to be a big part in the investigation. But he is being careful not to be so overjoyed. Serious as he is, we can't take his words seriously.
"I'm trying to avoid raising flags."
That's what he said.
~ ~ ~
The usual days aren't even worth talking about since hardly anything happens anywhere whether it is inside or outside the school. Today isn't even an exception to the figuratively and literally cold day with only studying happening.
It's actually colder now that Potato's seat is vacant so I take all the cold wind from the window. I don't want to close the window since I like the breeze. But even when it's open ever so slightly it still gives me the chills.
Chills… I say. But classes in winter of S1VA are actually pretty 'chill.' Bring a blanket with you and you won't even be noticed, as long as you study.
However, exams are already done just like I said so we don't really have anything to do but wait for the winter break. So why is the attendance in Blue Ink still populous even when we have no academic duties to do?
It's simple—that's because school life in Blue Ink is fun. Even I am so happy that I am saying things like that.
We have so much free time for the remaining days that I even get to cook my own lunch in school instead of bringing it. Because of that, my hours of sleep are extended slightly.
I sure miss the time when our regular classes start at 10 am. But that's probably not going to happen since we have these earpieces on us protecting us from a possible occurrence of the sound wave phenomenon.
I just realized that I've already been blabbering things that it already took three pages. I sure am becoming talkative.
"Are you sure you aren't getting cold, Ringo? You've been narrating for so long while leaning on the window. Gin will surely scold you if you also catch a cold."
At this time where Nacchi is criticizing me, I've been leaning on the open window of the Art Room while staring on the gray clouds with my mic.
"I wish I could start a campfire…"
"Get real, Ringo."
"Excuse us~! We came here to hang out!"
A voice suddenly echoed in the room with the appearance of Anna together with Naru and Ai-san.
Naru doesn't have so much exposure, but she's actually Nacchi's sister. She has been mentioned one or two times.
I have to admit that this is the first time we have seen those three together, but they've been close friends ever since the start of school.
"Oh? It's rare seeing you here, Ai," Jean waved from his seat.
"How's your brother doing?"
"He's doing fine. I guess I can introduce you to him quite soon. They are already in the process of searching."
"That's very good to know. Ah. Actually, Onee-chan is asking you for help again."
"Sure. Is that a project again?"
"Alright~ let's stop with the riajuu bit, then!" Naru interrupted and brought out a box. "Who wants to play a game of YUNO?"
"That's a lot!"
I will be surprised if three decks of YUNO that are stacked all together won't turn your head.
"Where did you get that, Naru?!"
"We just combined our decks."
"I'll join if that's the case.
Yo, Yuuga! Want to join us? How about you, Mori?"
"Sorry, I'm really busy right now. Next time," Yuuga declined, and continued to whatever he is drawing on his own display tablet.
"I'll pass too. I'm practicing with watercolor," although not asked, G also did not join.
"N-No… I'll be out for this time…" Mori declined, with a worried tone.
"Well, if that's the case, then we have seven players!"
"Just so you know, you can get thirty cards in your hand with this many in one deck…!" Anna cried, as though talking from experience.
"Are you sure we can spend this many in just an hour?" I asked, jokingly.
"Dunno. Never played with this many people."
Wow, I didn't expect Naru to be so chill. I bet she's one of the stereotypical anime characters who have slightly low grades and just 'tee-hee pero' her way out of it; or she could also be the laid-back student but still get good grades!
I just based her on an anime character just like that when Nacchi just told me to get real. Hahh…
Get real, Ringo Saka-
Get real, Ringo Akanami.
"Uhh… Ringo? What's up with that face…?" Shiro asked in annoyance seeing that Rin is making a flustered expression as she blush over a big smile.
"Ow…!" she suddenly pinched me so hard on my cheek.
"I'll definitely deal you so much cards that it won't even fit in your hands… you be ready, Ringo," an ill-intent surfaced from the depths of her heart.
Girl, you really need to tighten your screws…"
"…Bro," Naru whispered to Nagi.
"Your girlfriend is scary."
"Hey, all girls are scary. You're no exception to that."
▪ ▪ ▪
Days after that… in an art class.
"Oh… You're really good at shading, Mori. You're really like a master of using pencils. Even I don't think Gin can do that."
Nagi suddenly appeared at the back of Mori's seat as he looked down and watched him draw.
"You surprised me… Nagi. Shouldn't you be doing your own piece?"
"I just submitted mine. It was a dip pen sketch."
"Oh, monochrome too, huh."
"Yep. Now that you mention, I haven't seen you draw or color pieces aside from using black ink or pencils."
Hearing that, Mori flinched but Nagi did not notice.
"Is that some kind of passion of yours?"
"N-No, not really. I just like using these materials the best. And I'm not good with using coloring materials. I don't really think of passion or things."
"As usual, you have a free mind. But hey, it's also nice if you could try and use coloring materials some time. It's just that it may have a bit of a learning curve."
I think I'll pass with that," he replied coldly.
"I see… Well, if you need help, I can always give you a hand."
~ ~ ~
"Hey Nagi. I just noticed something. Have you ever seen Mori do coloring?"
Shiro asked, while the four of us are having lunch in the isolated table. The cold wind does not get in as the spot is roofed, and it just happened that the final stretch of winter is always one of the coldest.
"You noticed that too, huh.
I actually asked him about it. He said that he'd much prefer inking and pencil sketches since he apparently isn't good with any coloring materials.
But if he learns them, I'm sure that he'll be really good at it."
"Yeah. He's really skilled at realism," Jean added. "Also, he's quite a popular choice in our TAC account when it comes to commissions relating to realism."
"But when you think about it, aren't he so focused with just using his materials at hand? I asked him earlier if ever he needs help with coloring, but he declined my offer.
Really, I'm sure that he still has more room for improvement. Maybe he's just getting shy, I suppose?"
"I don't know about that… he's like Potato before the incident, right? You guys probably know that better than me."
"Ah, yeah… Ringo has a point. He does look like Gin until the third year. There's the same aloofness that Gin also had."
Jean made an accurate conclusion even with how short his comparison was.
"Surely he's not a 'coincidence' too, right?"
Hearing that from Shiro made me a little confused. Is she talking about the 'coincidence' or the 'coincidence?' I realized that it was just me being stupid as usual. Of course he was talking about G.
"Nah. There can't be three Gins in this world."
Jean made an unexpected joke, but only made us spit out one single laugh from that. Still, it was way better than Akira Bentley's jokes.
"If only Akira was here, he'll be mad."
"That aloofness… how did we even manage to be Gin's friends?" Nacchi asked himself, in sudden confusion.
"Potato started to like art when he came to Blue Ink, right?"
"As far as I know, that's the case, Ringo."
I heard from Potato himself that he somewhat loved playing piano when he was holed up in home, unable to walk. And then he discovered art later on when he started school.
"Then maybe… we can give Mori a new view of the world, in general," Nacchi suggested. "Well, art is supposed to be understood, not just seen. It's pretty evident that it all changed our lives and so to say… gave our lives new colors?"
I was reminded of how Gin interprets the world with colors, whether it be dull or vibrant… but sometimes, it can also be monochrome.
I recalled it, but little did I realize that I neglected what it meant and that our carelessness will lead to angst.
~ ~ ~
It did not take long, as something quickly escalated after the classes ended. It was still unusually bright at this time of the afternoon and the environment is very silent.
I was in front of the digital screen as per detailed in a commission work involving character designs along with Shiro. Unexpectedly, the client was from the North which is from the entertainment sector.
I suddenly remembered that Gin is still doing work for the production of the anime while bedridden.
Yuuga and Nacchi, on the other hand are working for some kind of manga pages, also for a commission work. Yuuga did the inking which is apparently called 'beta' and Nacchi is assisting on putting screentones.
While some of us are in groups, Jean, Mori and G are doing their own businesses.
After getting their work done, Nacchi and Yuuga started an idle chat.
"Man~ finally done. This work is really tough. Are you used to sticking screentones? My hand is heavy so I'll surely cut through the paper."
"I just had a bit of experience with it. It's also not easy for me, you know."
"You could have put me on the inking job. You know that I'm quite adept with it."
"And I also know that your control is still not great. The ink bleeds a lot when you sketch."
Mori, being beside the two was noticed because of randomly flinching. He stole glances on the pages, and stopped stroking on his pencil. Having seen the pages, he took out a sigh of relief.
"Mori… is there a reason why you don't do any coloring?"
As Nacchi suddenly asked, Mori flinched again.
"I… I just see no point if I'm really bad with it…" and he went back to drawing.
"Hmm… You like realism a lot and I bet that it will be easy for you to learn how to color. Don't you think it will add more life to your work if you do realistic paintings or illustrations?"
"Still… I don't want to."
"Come on, Mori. You'll know if you try."
He vigorously stood up and slammed his hand on the desk. Suddenly, his horror-struck eyes and expressions that directed to Nagi left a chill on his spine.
With all the sound, our attention was directed to them.
"Would you please stop now…? Why do you even care?! I don't need your help if I don't want to! I have my own choices and it does not concern you!"
"Mori… calm down for a bit…" Yuuga attempted to mediate but failed.
"You're saying that all just because you're not deprived of what everyone has! Do you even know my life?! Even I don't know it anymore…!" his sudden outburst of emotions made him swipe away the things on the desk.
He was left panting as he tried to calm down with his eyes closed. But just as he opened them, he saw splatters on the table and something dripped down to the floor.
His already horrified face turned to more terror.
"I-Is… Is that ink… that spilled…?" his trembling, fearful-toned voice tried to speak.
"Ahhh… Urgh…" Nagi moaned in pain.
All of us came towards their desk to check what happened. What caught our sight is Nagi who is holding out his right hand that is bleeding a lot from a deep wound.
Unconsciously, Shiro and I covered our eyes after seeing the cut.
Mori, after realizing that what splattered was blood, he hurriedly ran out of the room and went to the restroom, vomiting.
"We need to send you to the clinic, quick! Jean, you go to the clinic with Nacchi. Yuuga, please check on what's happening with Mori. He's probably in the washroom. Ringo and Shiro, don't push yourself too much. You can leave the room if you can't stomach the view. I'll go get something to clean this off. I'm used to seeing this anyway."
In an instant, the commotion was regulated with G's instructions. He is objectively the best person that can take care of the situation, knowing that he also possesses a calm mind and composure.
The two of us stood in the hallway as we waited for Yuuga. The men's room is just a classroom apart from the Art Room. The time being after school, no one was caught in the commotion.
Yuuga then came out, with Mori being carried on his back.
"Mori fainted in there! I'll bring him to the clinic!"
Tranquility thus came by the surroundings. We heard G with the sound of the cloth, perhaps already wiping the blood inside the room.
"Oh no…" I crouched to a squat, finally realizing my negligence.
"Ringo…? What's wrong?"
"I should have understood it even before all of this… why did I take it for granted…?"
"Let me guess, Ringo. You've figured out the reason why Mori reacted like that, right?" the echoing voice of G as he asked was heard outside the window.
"Y-Yes… But I'm disappointed with myself… I should have known it sooner."
"As expected of having a sharp mind like Gin. Please let us hear your deduction, Ringo. Even I can't figure out why."
"The reason is…"
~ ~ ~
In the clinic…
"And that's everything. Your wound is deep, so it will be fresh for some time. But make sure to clean and sterilize it everyday. To be sure, get it checked up in the hospital."
The nurse finished patching and cleaning Nagi's wound. With how big the opening was, the bleeding was thankfully stopped.
"Where did you get that wound anyway?"
"This was from a cutter. We were doing screentones and I did not retract the blade."
"Hmm… Be careful with handling sharp tools from now on."
"Yes… and sorry."
"Nurse Jul. I'm dismissing you for the day. I have something to talk about with my students," a familiar voice—the principal's voice was heard at the doorway.
"Ah, yes. I'll be going then. Have a good day, Sir Juushiro."
"Thanks for tending to Nagi. You too, have a good day."
"…" Nagi was confused, but can't begin to speak.
"Don't worry. I'm not going to scold you."
"Then, sir… You already know what happened, then."
"That's right. I came here because of Mr. Mori Inari. Also, I saw him being carried by Yuuga, but I asked them to bring him to the other clinic. Apparently, he fainted."
"He just ran… after seeing my blood… I wonder if he's okay."
"He underwent mental reactions when he fainted. After he wakes up, he will be fine, but he will probably be unable to speak."
"Sir… Does he by any chance have PTSD?"
"That's right, Jean. The truth is that he can't bear to see too much exposed blood. Otherwise, what just happened will be repeated."
"Sir Tenth… you speak as though you know his background…
Please, if it is possible…! I want to know what happened to him!" Nagi lowered his head while clenching his left hand.
Tenth smiled, "That is why I came here. I need to tell you this because honestly, you made a mistake with persuading him even though he doesn't want to. Because of that, you pushed a button.
He himself told me this after being enrolled: When he was a child, he already lost his parents because they were killed. His father hid him under the bed as he watches her parents being killed in their own bedroom. After that, all that he saw was endless pool of blood on the floor, until it reached him.
He witnessed his parents being killed which made him who he is now. Aloof, just like Gin."
"But then, that's not the only reason why he snapped earlier. There was another reason from the rage you just saw."
"That's not everything…?"
~ ~ ~
"…Please let us hear your deduction, Ringo. Even I can't figure out why."
"The reason is most probably related to why he only uses black ink and pencils in his works. We realized that Mori only ever used those materials, and we haven't even seen him color anything.
More so, he refuses the help in coloring. And I don't know if you've already noticed, but he doesn't seem very interested with our art.
Using that as the basis, Mori is most probably color blind."
Having listened to my explanation, Shiro took out her phone and made me look at it.
"You mean… like this, Ringo?"
The colors on the screen of her phone is distorted, with a lot of color being absent from where they were supposed to be. It was a hidden setting in phones that tries to simulate what colorblind people see.
No, not this."
I borrowed her phone and changed its screen settings anew. It was not difficult for me to navigate since I also knew how to do what Shiro just did.
Having done with it, I showed her what her screen looked like. And just in time, G left the room with a towel that soaked the blood.
What I made them see is a screen with the total absence of colors—black and white, or monochrome.
"Is… Is this really what Mori sees?" in the end, they were left in awe after Shiro's unanswered question.
"I would say that a clear proof of that is when he asked if what splattered was ink… It did seem like he can't define the color of blood, and saw it only as black liquid."
"That makes sense… Wait, has anyone of you seen the scar on his forehead?"
G's question left us girls in shock.
"He has a scar?! Does he even have a scar? Really?"
"Alright, alright. Let's chill down.
Mine and Gin's scars were quite deep too. I'm telling you, he has a small scar on his forehead that was just being covered by side fringes so it's unseen. I caught a glimpse of it and found out that even though small, the cut was also deep because of the ridge."
We stood in silence as we looked blankly on G when he was explaining.
"You and Potato really are the masters of unnecessary information, but still turns out to have use."
"Let's leave it at that, Ringo.
But just to add, I guess that that scar is also related to why he reacted from the blood. Perhaps he was distressed by how much blood was lost."
"Half right, G. Come in, all of you," Nacchi, Jean and Yuuga came back with Nacchi's right hand already patched up. Immediately, he turned on the soundproofing of the room, leaving us unheard from the outside.
The air inside the room became stern as he stood in front us while we were all seated.
"I… I've made a big mistake…"
~ ~ ~
He explained how the situation came to this point and told Mori's past. In addition to what we have inferred, the scar was from a cut when he was found out by the killers of his parents, but he escaped unjustified death when the police came.
At the moment, Mori is apparently still unconscious in the clinic.
▪ ▪ ▪
However, as though time ran like the wind, the winter break came.
Unbeknownst to us, and even Shiro, Nacchi began to pull his own strings.
"What's up, Nagi? It's rare for you to call."
"Are you in the base right now?"
"Well, yeah. I barely leave anyway."
"Then that's good. I'm in front of the greenhouse. It has no doorbells so I called you."
"You're here?! Are you with Eiji, then?"
"I'm alone. I am also sure that I wasn't followed by anyone."
The call then ended and Ken appeared from the ground with his mask on.
"What do you need, then?"
"I heard that you're part of the engineering and research team of the unnamed material."
"Yes, that's right."
Please hear out this selfish request of mine."
That concludes 034!
The title for clarification is a translation of "color" from Japanese which literally writes as 色. I really ought to put notes like this.
Thank you for reading!
035: Dullness and vibrance.
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