For them it was always a hazy reality, an ever-blurring memory that, in the end, all boiled down to a mess of colors.
To Bain, there were always two colors that stood out in particular.
Black was the predominate color of the two - black of the arrow clutched tightly in his sweaty palms, slick and uncertain. There was the black of the charred remains of houses and bodies alike as he sprinted down the docks towards the bell tower where his father whirled about in despairing, frantic circles, a black bow in his hands. The black of his father's hair that stuck to his dark, sun-beaten temples in strands of ominous perspiration. Then of course, there was the black of his father's eyes that stared past his shoulder where the black arrow sat poised to fly its way into the black heart of the red dragon that walked towards them, black words of a grim fate ringing in his ears.
"Look at me Bain. You look at me."
Then came in the red. The red of the setting sun that had stained the waters with blood. The red that spilled onto the docks from blackening bodies. The red that consumed his people whole, singed their hairs in ends of frayed black and sent red teetering through their charred vision. The red scales of the Dragon that crawled towards the tipsy bell tower, and the red tinted malice that manifested itself everywhere and crawled into his ears. The red that was reflected in his father's eyes. The red panic that flashed through his veins, slicked through his nerves, raged in his mind. The falling lump of red from the sky, and the glowing red eyes that blinked out like a blown-out candle.
For Bain, the memory was always coated in black and red.
To Sigrid, it was two colors as well, vastly different.
There was brown. The brown of her siblings' hair, the brown of the leather of her father's clothes, and the brown of upturned tables, rough-hewn benches, the walls of their home, the walnuts that were strewed precariously across the floors, and the brown of the wooden docks that creaked and groaned in warning and pain. Then there was the brown of the murky waters, and the brown splinters that dug into her skin from the side of the boat that cracked and shuddered under her fingertips as the brown oars rowed them through the dirty brown aisles and canals of Laketown. Then again, there was the brown of the ash-laden air, choking them, gathering over their clothes, eyes, hair, and everything in a heavy brown layer.
"We cannot turn back."
Before the mad rush for safety though, and the appearance of the dragon, there was also the color of gold. There were flashes of golden hair, from two very different beings and two very different circumstances. One was a golden heart connected to a brown one, and the other was a golden nobility attached to a rusty, dangerous, and yet beautiful blade that danced through the room and sang in a sweetly cutting voice. There was the glitter of it when they smashed into the side of another barge fleeing their browned town, spilling into the water and passing by them in a blatant show of unfairness. There was the golden of her sister's wet eyes and her brother's burning ones.
For Sigrid, the experience was steeped in brown and gold.
To Tilda - well, for Tilda there were many colors.
Her eyes remained fixated on only a few things in her overwhelming fear, one of them being the checkered pattern of the coat that covered her sister's shaking frame. She clutched the material between her trembling fingers, while the other hand held her doll. Both were a myriad of colors, jumbled before her vision no matter how hard she stared. There was the checkered colors of despair that colored the air and the mix of colors of despair in her voice as she screamed for her brother and father. There was the colors reflected in her crystalline tears that streaked down bruised and dirty cheeks.
"If you stay here, your sisters will die. Is that what you want?"
Mostly though, she remembers white. The white of the elves' skin, the white of her siblings' faces, the white of her doll's cloth face, and the white-hot pain that flashed through her heart at intervals. There was the white of the clouds of smoke that billowed into the air, and the steam that rose in curling tendrils of white from the water. The white of ivory claws that destroyed their town like it was a box of matchstick toys. There was white of tightly-clenched knuckles, and the white of pinafores and clothing that dashed through the wharfs and docks in search of safety. The white of wide eyes and clear tears.
The memories were made too fast, their minds too jumbled and riddled with panic. They have always remained shrouded with smoke, punctuated by some things here and there, highlighted by bursts of acute despair and horror. Eyes flash through the clouds, and specks of undulating red are quickly swallowed in the fresh burst of screams. But even through the mash of colors, mismatched and exaggerated by fear, the memories are still there, though faintly dimmed by time.
They shall never forget. For them, the most precious memory was their father, standing tall amidst the red clouds and mountains of turmoil and trouble, the black arrow clutched in his white hands and a golden love that lived on through myriads of colors that danced through their lives.
... My children...