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.