Over the weekend, I shared a video about customizing a Nendoroid doll into Zaide, the main character from Spectrum Legacy. While most of my commentary surrounding the character was related to how his appearance was influenced by our dog, who just passed, I also spent a little time discussing the mages in Snakesblood Saga, and why their use of the white and blue color scheme made me hesitant to use the same for Zaide. Likewise, most of the discussion about the project was condolences for the loss of our very sweet pet (thank you, she is missed!) there was one message I received via social media that expressed curiosity about my reasons for the mechanic when it comes to the mages in Snakesblood.
If you’ve read the books, you know that all the mages eventually end up with white hair and blue eyes. If you haven’t, then here’s the gist. In the Snakesblood universe (and the world of Ithilear) the changing color of hair and eyes is a sign of mastery over their craft.
They’re also a simultaneous indication of the mage’s victory over power, and their failure to successfully wield true power. To be recognized as a Master mage, evidence of the two changes must be shown, but they don’t necessarily appear in the same order.
Whitening of the hair usually happens first. When a mage pushes themselves too far, they run the risk of having their power literally unmake them. But that boundary lies in a different place for every mage, and learning where it is means setting one foot across it and then successfully coming back from the brink of death. Master mages must learn to skirt that line, access as much power as possible and refuse to let it take them. Such an experience results in extreme physical trauma, and that trauma–especially when repeated–eventually results in white hair. Truthfully, it’s just premature graying, a result of the perpetual stress on their minds and bodies that comes with the trials of magecraft. That hardly sounds glamorous, though, and nature of the mages themselves means the whitening of hair is enshrined as a rite of passage and a mark of incredible strength and prestige. However, that doesn’t stop some mages from making an effort to hide their new grays. Especially those who may be a little more vain.
The changing color of a mage’s eyes is a little different. It’s not so much that the eyes change color, as that they lose color. Magic is an energy that manifests itself in a number of ways, and one of those manifestations is light. Free mages are those who can touch pure power, unfettered, and it reacts to them accordingly. Funneling such power and letting it blaze freely as part of one’s spirit is reflected in one’s eyes. But those born without a natural resistance to such power find themselves drained by it, rather than enriched, and it results in the eyes–the window to the soul–having color stripped away as magic beyond what they can handle slowly chews at their spirit. For some mages, this is a deeply emotional experience, as they may feel the loss of color robs them of part of their identity, but it’s considered a necessary sacrifice in the name of power.
In some ways, that’s what makes it fun to use the same colors for Zaide in Spectrum Legacy. It stands the expectation on its head, and instead of being a powerful mage, Zaide has no power at all.