Sometimes the Cauldron changes to match the will of whomever visits. Quartz finds himself facing a fair-haired woman wearing a coronet, sitting upon a throne, glaring down at him.
Quartz: Ruddy shards, not you again!
Queen Thea: Ruddy shards indeed, you rude little man, not that we’ve ever met. We’d have given you a piece of our mind about your dreadful dereliction of duties as a surrogate father.
Quartz: Eh? (He starts and gives the woman on the throne a closer look.) You’re not Oriana!
Queen Thea: Of course we’re not Oriana, you silly little man! We’re Queen Thea, consort to King Richard of the Lands of Dawn and Twilight! We’re also your sovereign so you’d do well to show some respect!
Quartz: Never heard of you. Oriana was Queen last time I bothered to check which humans were ruling whom.
Queen Thea: (raising her nose with some haughtiness) Dwarves! I swear, all of you think you’re above law and order with your hidden kingdoms under mountains, shady pacts with goblins, gnomes, and the gods know what else, never minding the conflict spilling out into the world because of all that.
Quartz: (glowers at the queen) One. I don’t make pacts. Not with goblins. Not with nobody.
Nimmie Not: (disembodied voice floating in the air) You made a pact with me, my dear, oh, yes, you did.
Queen Thea: (starting on her throne) What was that?
Quartz: Nothing. Just Nimmie Not. (He turns his glower in the direction of the voice.) That wasn’t a pact.
Nimmie Not: O ho, what was it, hmm?
Quartz: Just you being cheeky.
Nimmie Not: Don’t pretend you don’t love it, tee hee!
Quartz: Two. (He turns back to the open-mouthed queen, ignoring the voice.) I’m not part of any kingdom under a mountain or anywhere else. My brothers and I walked away from all that.
Queen Thea: You’re part of our kingdom, sir, whether you believe it or not. (She gives the air around her an uneasy glance.) You seem to believe in this Nimmie Nott whom remains unseen.
Quartz: Don’t encourage him to appear. Just don’t.
Queen Thea: Very well, we won’t. This doesn’t change the fact that you’re still our subject, living on our lands.
Quartz: Which brings me to three. It’s you humans whom cause problems which spill out into the world. This is why I stay as far I can from your kingdom and all its trouble.
Queen Thea: You’re living in our kingdom, you arrogant little man! You’re causing trouble for our kingdom and our daughter!
Quartz: How so?
Queen Thea: You harboured a dangerous witch who cursed our daughter.
Quartz: I did no such thing. I protected a girl from a dangerous witch…although I admit I failed. She ended up getting cursed herself.
Queen Thea: Don’t attempt to deceive us, little man. We’ve looked into eyes of the witch whom cursed my daughter. We’ve dreamed of them a thousand times. We saw you with that witch. Smiling at her. Encouraging her.
Quartz: Say what? I wouldn’t encourage her!
Queen Thea: You’re the one person whom might have stopped the witch. Instead you went to sleep.
Quartz: I got cursed myself! Aye, I was a right fool to do so, but why are you blaming me for your daughter’s curse?
Queen Thea: Someone has to take responsibility, little man.
Quartz: Aye, someone does. You’re a queen and this cursed girl’s mother. What were you doing when she got cursed? Sleeping? Or busy swooning?
Queen Thea: How dare you!
Quartz: Right, it’s all my fault. None of it’s yours for not protecting your daughter.
Queen Thea: The witch surprised all of us when she appeared at our Rose’s christening. We couldn’t move or speak when she cursed our little girl. (She buries her face in her hands.)
Quartz: Aye, this witch, what did she look like?
Queen Thea: Hair rivaling the midnight raven with eyes filled with darkness, pain, and a hollow hunger within a pale face with lips as red as blood. She might have been a vampire as well as a witch.
Quartz: (closing his eyes) Right. (A wrinkle of pain appears upon his forehead.) So that’s whom you saw with me.
Queen Thea: (distracted by her memories, no longer paying strict attention to Quartz) Perhaps we can see why our Rose would find this witch fascinating but it’s a fatal fascination.
Quartz: Your Rose finds her fascinating?
Queen Thea: Why? We’d hoped our daughter would meet a prince, someone who would share the burden of royalty and responsibility with her. Someone who would break the curse…instead Rose is drawn to the one whom cast it upon her!
Quartz: Aye, well, children don’t always do as we hope.
Queen Thea: Only too true, little man.
Queen Thea: We only want what’s best for our daughter, yet she keeps turning away from us.
Quartz: And what about what your daughter wants, hmm?
Queen Thea: (looking away) She hasn’t confided that to us.
Quartz: Maybe she feels she can’t if it’s different from what you want, hmm?
Queen Thea: We are shocked! Your insolence is unbelievable. Especially when you claim to comfort secondary characters in this blog.
Quartz: I let secondary characters rant and rave about their circumstances. Which you’ve done. Be grateful.
Queen Thea: Grateful?! Why ever should we be grateful?
Quartz: You wanted to yell at someone because you’re feeling helpless, right? (His face softens.) Not being able to help your daughter feels the worst kind of helpless.
Queen Thea: We…I just want to protect her. (buries her face in her hands) Why can’t I protect her? What good is being queen if I can’t protect my own daughter?
Quartz: You can’t protect her from everything. You just got to do your best, teach her how to protect herself, offering whatever shelter you can.
Queen Thea: Hmph. Listen to you, little man, acting all wise.
Quartz: Act wise and you may become so…eventually.
Queen Thea: You rogue. (She lifts her head from her hands, smiles for the first time, showing dimples.) I almost believe you.
Quartz: Don’t you? (He winks at the queen.)
Nimmie Not: (voice coming very close to Quartz’s ear) Tut, tut, no flirting with human queens!
Quartz: (starting, glowering in the direction of the voice) Right. Like you’ve never done it.
Nimmie Not: My dear Quartz, that was long before I met you.
Quartz: Right. And you’ve got another cottage you’re willing to give me for what?
Queen Thea: (after listening to the conversation) Another cottage? What’s this?
Quartz: (flushing) Nothing.
Queen Thea: No? (raising her eyebrow) It almost sounds like a pact. Only you don’t make pacts. Do you?
Quartz: (grumbles under his breath)