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.