Conversations with Christopher: Onyx, Sardonyx, and Agate

Christopher sits facing three dwarves. The first has a salt and pepper black beard and heavily lidded dark eyes. The other two have ginger beards. One of the latter has especially thick hands and big feet. The second has impeccably combed side whiskers and a perpetual smirk lurking on his lips.

Christopher: You’re Quartz and Opal’s younger brothers, aren’t you? Along with Garnet’s older brothers. Perhaps you could introduce yourselves?

The dark-haired dwarf doesn’t speak. He just blinks slowly.

The first ginger-beard shuffled his feet with a scraping sound that makes Christopher grit his teeth.

Second Ginger-Beard: The dark-haired fellow is Onyx. He almost never speaks. The ugly chap here is Sardonyx. He may not speak, but he makes plenty of noise.

Sardonyx balls one meaty hand into a fist and slams it against the other.

The nameless ginger-bearded dwarf leans back in his seat before he continues.

Second Ginger-Beard: As you see, I’m more civilized than either of them. You may call me Agate, little shadow. Might say I’m the civilized center in a crowd of boorish brothers.

Christopher: You can call me Christopher. How are you the civilized center?

Agate: Better to call myself that than the middle child. Again more civilized. Be grateful you’re talking to me. I’m the most sociable of the seven dwarves.

Christopher: Is that so?

Agate: Oh, please. Quartz would rather spend time with rocks than people. All Opal does is grumble. Onyx and Sardonyx refuse to talk. Jasper has the attention span of a squirrel while Garnet whimpers about garden gnomes and pulls out his own beard. I’m the most normal member of the family.

Onyx lifts an eyebrow and just stares at Agate.

Sardonyx unclenches his fist and begins to tap his fingers against the arm of his chair in a mocking tune.

Agate: (scowls) Right. Neither of you think I’m normal, nor pleasant company. I’m still better company than either of you, not to mention more normal than any of us.

Christopher: That could get lonely.

Agate: Oh, I find ways to amuse myself. (He allows his smirk to grow.)

Onyx shuts his eyes and frowns.

Sardonyx rolls his eyes and lets out a loud sigh.

Agate: My brothers may not like them, but they amuse me.

Christopher: Are they caught up in these ways when you find them, willing or not?

Agate: Heh, you catch on fast. That’s right.

Onyx opens one eye, gazes at the haze above his head, as if asking it for strength.

Sardonyx lets out a snorting chuckle.

Agate: (spreading his hands in a gesture of innocence) I’ve got limited sources of amusement. Although there’s always the Forest of Tears, lying right outside our cottage.

Onyx opens his other eye to fix both of them upon Agate in a sharp look of reproof. He shakes his head.

Sardonyx scowls, balling his hands into fists and slamming them against his legs.

Agate: Heh, Opal doesn’t like it when we wander in the Forest of Tears. Neither did Quartz. Always warning Jasper not to do it, he was. (He glances at his brothers.) These two lumps agree.

Christopher: You don’t.

Agate: Like Jasper ever heeded Opal’s warnings any more than he did Quartz. Why should I? I get bored, looking at nothing but my brothers all the time.

Christopher: Is the Forest of Tears less boring?

Agate: Well, Garnet keeps babbling about things in the Forest, watching us. I never saw anything.

Christopher: Nothing at all?

Agate: Well, the Forest of Tears is odd. I’ve had odd visions as a result. So has Jasper. Guessing it has more to do with us, our own fears than anyone else.

Christopher: Don’t underestimate the power of your own fears, especially in an enchanted wood.

Agate: Heh, I hope so. The hope that something is lurking beneath the trees keeps me going back for more.

Onyx and Sardonyx rolls their eyes at that exact same moment.

Agate: Oh go on and be boring! You always are. Quartz might have been odd and Garnet is downright batty, but at least they’re interesting. Well, Quartz was interesting.

Christopher: You don’t think Quartz is alive then?

Agate: I don’t know what to think so I don’t.

One pair of black eyebrows while another pair of ginger shoot up to receding hairlines, while the weathered faces below give Agate similar expressions of exasperation.

Agate: At least I’m honest about this. Like either of you have any idea what’s going on either. All we know is Quartz is in that crystal coffin and he’s not getting out.

Christopher: You think he’s dead.

Agate: I don’t know. It’s beyond me.

Onyx and Sardonyx both bow their heads.

Christopher: What do you think happened to Quartz?

Agate: The witch’s curse consumed our girl. After that, it reached out and throttled our brother. Dead or not, it’s got him in his clutches. If he’s not dead, he might as well be. Another thing we can blame on bloody Oriana.

Onyx and Sardonyx nod in vigorous agreement.

Christopher: Only Quartz awoke the sleeping princess. Shouldn’t someone be able to awaken Quartz?

Agate: We all saw what happened when Quartz tried to break the bloody curse. He only made things worse. Best not to mess with that crystal coffin.

Onyx and Sardonyx bob their heads once more.

Christopher: You may have to mess with that coffin. What if Quartz needs your help escaping it?

All three dwarves stare at Christopher as if he’s sprouted a second head.

Christopher: Is it that unreasonable to think you could help him? He’s not the only one of you seven capable of working with a stone’s energies. Or stones.

Agate: Now you’re starting to sound like Garnet. Messing with the stones is what got Quartz in that coffin to begin with!

Onyx and Sardonyx both bow their heads in agreement.

Christopher: Are you sure?

Agate: We shaped that coffin into its present form after finding something quite different in the Forest of Tears. Quarz was the one who guided us. Without him, we don’t know what in the shattered shards we’re doing.

Onyx and Sardonyx slump forward, not looking at anyone.

Christopher: Did Quartz know what he was doing in the shaping?

Agate: No, I’m not sure if he did. This may be why he’s where he is now. Anything we try could male things worse. For all we know, he’s still in the middle of the shaping. Maybe he’ll wake up himself. We just have to be patient.

Onyx sits up, looking miserable, still not meeting anyone’s gaze.

Sardonyx stays bowed, although he starts to shuffle his feet while still sitting.

Agate: Besides Opal doesn’t want any of us even going near that coffin.

Christopher: That won’t stop all of you.

Agate: (smiles with a sharp gleam in his eyes) No, it won’t. Just because we shouldn’t mess with that coffin doesn’t mean I won’t.

Onyx shakes his head and places a warning finger on his lips.

Sardonyx lifts his face and regards Agate with beetled ginger eyebrows. His shuffling turns into stomping.

Agate: Right, I know you’re all curious. What really happened to our brother? Don’t you want to know?

Neither Onyx nor Sardonyx answer.

Agate: We may find out. Whether you want to or not.

There is continued silence.

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_header

Nathalie and Grace will be picking up where they left off last week in Wind Me Up, One More Time…

“She sewed her own bears. Teddy bears with triangular faces, big eyes, and tiny noses. Nothing like a live bear.”

“They were like the bear in Mama’s story, right?” Grace had read all of Mama’s stories with all the pretty pictures Auntie Cassat painted.

Like what you’ve read? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

Conversations with Christopher: Opal

Christopher sits facing a scowling dwarf with a salt and pepper black beard, whiskers bristling in suspicion.

Christopher: You’re Opal, aren’t you? Quartz’s younger brother and Garnet’s older.

Opal: And you’re Christopher, whom spent an odd amount of time chatting with my younger brother, encouraging all his silly fears. (He leans forward, a hint of menace in his posture.) Don’t go filling his head with any more nonsense.

Christopher: What nonsense?

Opal: The notion that garden gnomes lurk in the Forest of Tears, stalking around our cottage, spying on us. That Quartz is somehow alive, trapped in that blasted crystal coffin, and it’s all a plot hatched up by Nimmie Not.

Christopher: You don’t believe him?

Opal: (He scowls all the more.) I’ve never seen one of these bloody gnomes. Seeing is believing, and if I can’t see the buggers, why with all the flaming boulders ready to crash on our heads should I worry about them?

Christopher: You’re worried about flaming boulders?

Opal: It’s just an expression, sheesh, don’t take it so seriously.

Christopher: It’s a shadow thing. And Quartz? What if he’s still alive?

Opal: You think I don’t want my brother to be alive? No matter what pretentious internet ghost prances around Secondary Characters Speak Out, I know Quartz. He’d never shut up for this long if he was still with us, not even grumbling once, no matter what crystal gazing nonsense he’s gotten himself stuck in.

Christopher: Crystal gazing nonsense?

Opal: Quartz could lay his hands on a rock, staring at it like a moonstruck calf for hours, not speaking. He’d forget me, forget all of us together, just sitting or standing there. (He frowns, furrows appearing in his brow.) Not even he could keep it up for this long, no.

Christopher: You don’t do the same thing, then? I thought you also worked with rocks in the mines.

Opal: I work with rocks, I don’t make love to them.

Christopher: Quarz did?

Opal: He always got this look on his face, that of a lovestruck fool when he touched them. Not healthy, that, or taking in human strays. They killed him in the end.

Christopher: The rocks? Or the human strays?

Opal: (He looks down, considering.) Don’t blame the girl, no matter what she became. I blame the witch who stalked her.

Christopher: Are you speaking of Oriana?

Opal: Yes, Oriana, the bloody evil queen! She couldn’t be content with her crown, her castle, and her court of fawning fools, oh, no. She had to get the girl, she couldn’t leave the poor creature alone. She ruined all of our lives because of it.

Christopher: Aren’t you taking your life back, you and your brothers?

Opal: We’re doing our best, all of us. It’s not the same, though. Not without Quartz.

Christopher: You miss him.

Opal: Bloody fool. (He rubs his eyes with a thick hand.) My little brothers are a mess without him, particularly Garnet. Look what he’s done to his beard. No, none of us are the same. Not since losing Quartz and our Fairest.

Christopher: You got a happy ending as far as Briar is concerned. Maybe a happier ending awaits with Quartz.

Opal: Don’t give me false hope, boy. Just don’t start. It’s bad enough, listening to Garnet yammer on about it. We’ve got to accept our loss. Quartz is gone.

Christopher: Only Garnet doesn’t accept it.

Opal: He’s a bloody fool, much like Quartz was. Both he and Jasper, young, empty-headed fools, the two of them. I can’t be. I’m the oldest. Someone has to look out after everyone else, since Quartz can’t.

Christopher: What about you? Who looks out for you?

Opal: Just don’t bloody start.

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets! Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_header

For my own, Grace and Nathalie will continue where they left off in Wind Me Up, One More Time last week…

Grace wished with all her heart there was a bear there, who’d accept her as a companion. She’d longed for a bear for years. Mama Morisot got her books, clothes, and often beautifully made wooden toys, but no soft and squishy ones. Soft and squishy toys were best when you were small, but Mama could be quite clueless about these things.

“That’s right.” Nathalie grinned and nodded.

Like what you’ve read? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

Conversations with Christopher: Garnet

Christopher sits facing a stocky young dwarf in weathered gray-green pants, a thick jerkin, and what would have been a beautiful ginger beard if large chunks of it weren’t missing.

Christopher: You’re the youngest of the seven dwarves in Fairest, the youngest of Quartz’s brothers, aren’t you?

Garnet: That’s right. My brothers are Opal, Onyx, Sardonyx, Agate, and Jasper. Not counting Quartz of course. (He looks down at his hands, clenching and unclenching them.)

Christopher: You are, I mean were very fond of your oldest brother, weren’t you?

Garnet: (He lifts his hands to the level of his chin.) Quartz listened to me, really listened. He might have grumbled about what I said, but he listened. Unlike Opal, who seldom does.

Christopher: What about your other brothers?

Garnet: Onyx never speaks, he just occasionally blinks. Sardonyx doesn’t talk much either, but he has to stomp louder than anyone else, rattle his bowl at dinner, and make as much noise as possible. Agate smirks and is always ready for a taunt about anything I say, particularly when I’m afraid of something. As for Jasper, he usually dashes off, distracted before I can finish saying anything. Quartz was the only one who listened. Well, him and our Fairest.

Christopher: You mean Princess Blanche who used to live with you until she was cursed.

Garnet: She’s Princess Briar now. She never liked being called Blanche. I think the name reminded her too much of Oriana.

Christopher: Ah, yes, Oriana. She’s hard to forget.

Garnet: Wish I could, but a witch like her has a way of forcing you to notice her, even when you want to forget her. I can’t forgive her for what she did to our Fairest. I just can’t. (He tugs at a hank of his remaining beard.)

Christopher: What do you think of Nimmie Not?

Garnet: Nimmie Not? That weird little man that was, um, generous enough to lead us to our cottage. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful he found us a new home. Quartz seems to like him, which is odd, but everything about Nimmie Not is odd. Odd and just a little creepy.

Nimmie Not: (a disembodied voice in the Cauldron’s mist) I’m hurt, little Garnet, considering that we’re practically family. Still I’ll overlook your insulting observations in favour of your more agreeable ones regarding your brother. And don’t pull on your beard!

Garnet: Gah! (He drops his hands) I wish he wouldn’t do that!

Christopher: (looking around in all directions, clenching his fingers on the arms of his chair) I didn’t realize he could do that without a red curtain.

Nimmie Not: (still not appearing, only letting his voice be heard) Heh, I’m filled with mysteries!

Garnet: That’s something you never let us forget. (He twitches his fingers, almost touching his beard.) What is your connection with the garden gnomes? I still worry about that.

Christopher: The garden gnomes?

Garnet: (shudders) You’ve seen them, haven’t you? They look like smiling, ruddy-cheeked little men, almost like dwarves while lurking around lawns. Those aren’t their true faces. I’ve seen their true faces. (He touches a tuft of beard.)

Christopher: What are their true faces?

Garnet: Horrible! (He pulls on the tuft.) Green, scaly, with thick lips, forked tongues, and slitted yellow eyes. They’re as scary as goblins or orcs or kobolds!

Nimmie Not: (still only a voice) Excuse me! We are not scary, we are simply unusual. You shouldn’t be so quick to judge, little one.

Garnet: What are those garden gnomes doing in front of our cottage? Why can only I see them?

Nimmie Not: I told you or rather I will be telling you in a story at the Formerly Forbidden Cauldron (inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com), but not yet. Stay tuned.

Garnet: (turning to Christopher) The Forest of Tears can be a scary place, yet most of the folks my brothers and I are trying to avoid avoid it. That’s one of the reasons we’ve stayed at the cottage Nimmie Not led us to. In spite of it’s creepier aspects, it’s safer than a lot of places.

Christopher: Who are you trying to avoid?

Garnet: Goblins, trolls, orcs, the usual whom try to attack dwarves and their mining operations. Other dwarves, too, for some of us are greedy. We avoid the more expensive rocks, my brothers and I, going for the overlooked stones, like crystals, garnets, and basically our namestones.

Christopher: Your namestones?

Garnet: Um, every dwarf in our family has a namestone, a rock we’re named after. Mine is the garnet, so I’m Garnet.

Christopher: I see.

Garnet: Quarts believed not just every dwarf, but every creature with an elemental connection to the earth or fire had a stone. That stone reflects the creature’s emotional well-being.

Christopher: Do you believe that?

Garnet: Not sure. I’ve never seen my rock or anything which might be my rock, but I know there’s more to everything than meets the eye. There’s more to everything than meets the eye. There’s more to you than meets the eye.

Christopher: Very true.

Garnet: I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, as far as you’re concerned.

Christopher: Neither am I.

#RainbowSnippets: Wind Me Up, One More Time

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+

To read a wide variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?ref=group_header

For my own, Nathalie will continue telling her story in Wind Me Up, One More Time. It’s slightly longer than six sentences, forgive me…

“Verity feared she wouldn’t be able to eat or clothe herself if she couldn’t earn a living. One thing she knew how to do was to sew.” Nathalie pressed a free hand to her lips, gesturing to a mannequin in the window.

The giant doll had long, thick curls and a ruffled blouse, very different than Grace’s own wayward curls. “She sat down and sewed and sewed. Dresses, blouses, skirts, yet she didn’t stop there.”

Nathalie leaned down to gaze at her little sister with solemn, shining hazel eyes. “Can you guess what else she made?”

“Toys!” Grace bounced at my own words, excited at the very idea. Stuffed animals were made at the factory. They sat in the shelves, gazing at children with button eyes, trying to decide if one of them was that special person they were going to go home with.

Like what you’ve read so far? Want to read more? Here are buy links…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

Conversations with Christopher: Prunella

For once, the mists of the Cauldron aren’t the only thing surrounding a seated Christopher. The very air gleams and sparkles with prisms of light. Only it’s the reflection of light off the scales of an enormous serpentine body, coiled around almost every spare space in the Cauldron. Where do the scales end and where do they begin? Christopher cannot tell, but he’s spotted a slitted, yellow eye, watching him intently with an unblinking gaze.

Christopher: Well. (He swallows.) I think I have a friend like you, or she became like you. A dragon. My memory of her isn’t clear. Neither are hers.

Prunella: She was no dragon. Dragons are not ‘she’. The closest pronoun to capturing us is ‘we’ or ‘they’. We are beyond gender and grounded in memories, the existence of many lifetimes. A dragon’s recollection of past events are as clear as your reflection in the still surface of a lake.

Christopher: I envy you that clarity.

Prunella: Don’t envy us. The vividness of our memories is a curse as much as a blessing. Events in the minds of humans such as yourselves dull to a bearable blur while we recall every joy, every sorrow with the sharpness of a blade striking our vulnerable underbelly.

Christopher: I’m not human. I’m not sure if I ever was.

Prunella: No, you were an arachnocratic blossom, blooming amidst pretty dreams until you were plucked and surrendered to the dream, becoming a shadow, discarding memories as you willed. (The dragon chuckles, steam pouring from their nostrils.) Perhaps we should envy you.

Christopher: (struggling not to wince or lift his hand to wave away the stench of brimstone that fills the air) Perhaps. Perhaps not. I’m seldom certain who I am or what events in my existence are real.

Prunella: Reality is often subject to the wistful perception of others. When it’s not twisted into something amused or being ignored outright.

Christopher: Are you speaking of Quartz? Or Nimmie Not? You’re part of their story, are you not? Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins?

Prunella: We are among the fragments gathered together for this tale and believe shall appear within the tale itself, yes. As far your other questions, you’ve met both Nimmie Not and Quartz. They’ve been to this Cauldron, chatted with you in some detail. Whom are we speaking of?

Christopher: I’d say the one who twists reality into something amusing is Nimmie Not while the one who ignores it, hoping it’ll go away and stop bothering him is Quartz.

Prunella: We couldn’t have said better ourselves, even if we are better acquainted with Nimmie Not than Quartz. (They let out a snort.) Ridiculous sprite.

Christopher: Ridiculous, yet not without a measure of earnestness in his silliness.
Prunella: Fancies himself in love and is doing everything he can to win over his beloved with trinkets, while bestowing cross-eyed glares upon anyone who might take his beloved from him. That won’t end well. It never does.

Christopher: Have you yourself had some experience with this?

Prunella: We fancied a knight once upon a time; a very pretty young man, wide-eyed with visions of doing something heroic, of being chosen. We tried to make him happy by razing the countryside, becoming a monster he could fight. It didn’t end well. It never does.

Christopher: It never does? This happened more than once? You fell in love with a knight?

Prunella: We fell in love with a few knights. You might say we had a type or perhaps a weakness. There was also the damsel who wanted to escape from her tedious life and fell in love with all the treasures in our cave. We tried living with her, only to have her family send a battalion of troops after us.

Christopher: What happened?

Prunella: We roasted the troops. Literally. Happily, they were still tender, one of the best meals we’ve had in our long existence. Our damsel didn’t see it the same way. Not only did she no longer want to live with us, we got a reputation for carrying off and devouring damsels. Can you imagine such a thing?

Christopher: I’m afraid I can. What happened to your damsel after she rejected you?

Prunella: Well, our feelings were hurt and we were hungry. She was such a tender little thing. We didn’t steal and devour any damsels after her. At least not many.

Christopher: I see.

Prunella: We speak truly. We much prefer brimstone to human flesh. Humans are simply too much trouble.

Christopher: How about dwarves?

Prunella: An acquired taste, although for some, an addiction.

Christopher: Kobolds?

Prunella: Way too bony, but available. Not that we’d ever eat Nimmie Not. He’s the boniest of the lot, not to mention way too amusing. It’s oddly sweet to have a friend, even if he’s very small and skinny.

Christopher: You’re Nimmie Not’s friend?

Prunella: We suppose we are. It’s been so long since we’ve had a friend, we’ve forgotten what it’s like. If we were to have a friend, it would be he.

Christopher: He’s fortunate to have a friend, one he can confide in.

Prunella: He seems to like confiding in you as well, even if you’re a character in a different series.

Christopher: I think he confides in me because I’m a character in a different series.

Prunella: That may be true. It may also be that you talk to Quartz entirely too much.

Christopher: That may be true, too.