Conversation with Christopher: Queen Oriana

Christopher sits facing a lovely, imposing woman with her hair braided up into a golden coronet upon her head, carefully arranged around a crown. She’s dressed in purple ermine, concealing her body within the folds of the robe.

Christopher: You look very different than when we last met…Your Majesty.

Oriana: Don’t expect a queen to recall every person she ever met, child. (She lifts her nose.) Even if that person considers himself so beyond the reach of queens that he dares to sit in one’s presence. (She gives Christopher a longer look, her blue eyes widening.) That’s exactly what you are, aren’t you? Like the magic mirror reflecting all, showing…what? Visions offering insight? Our heart’s desire?
Christopher: (leaning forward to meet her gaze, his eyes shimmering with unearthly colors we don’t usually see in irises) What do you see?

For a moment, the boy and the queen stare in each other eyes until Oriana’s grow unfocused, swimming with tears.

Oriana: Tell me, am I beautiful? I’ve tried so hard to be beautiful. For my king, for my people. For myself. I am beautiful, am I not? Tell me how beautiful, no, show me. Show me I’m the fairest of them all. I don’t need her to be the fairest. I don’t need to miss her. I can be my own woman. Please show me that I am.

Christopher: I’m sorry. I have no control over what I reflect back. You’re the one who determines what you see. (His voice becomes gentle.) Yes, I see a beautiful woman who’s struggled to be beautiful, who’s living a life she gave up much to live. Only you’ve discovered you don’t want it. (His eyes shimmer with light.) You look at yourself, hoping to see only yourself, not what haunts you. (The color diminishes in his irises.) I’m sorry. I’m sorry I can’t give you what you want.

Oriana: No! (She claps her hands to her cheeks.) Please. Please, you were once Happily Ever After. Yes, you were. I was right in saying you were beyond the reach of queens. Most of us never find happiness.

Christopher: I’m not out of reach. You’ve found me. You’re speaking to me now. Your Happily Ever After is within your grasp.

Oriana: No! (She digs her hands into her cheeks.) I rejected my happiness for power and she ran from me, reducing me to something less than a monster. The sight of her transformed my heart into a sour, bitter little apple she wanted nothing to do with!

Christopher: I’m guessing this she is Princess Blanche. Are you sure your happiness lies with her?

Oriana: How could it be anywhere else? She was everything and she ran from me! She rejected me!

Christopher: Didn’t you reject her first?

Oriana: I embraced everything desirable in her. Power. Beauty. Royalty. Wealth. I thought she realized in rejecting her, I was trying to get closer to her in the only way I could! My rejection was nothing like hers. Not the way she looked into my heart and diminished it.

Christopher: Maybe you and she can’t be happy together, not now. Maybe you should let her go.

Oriana: Could you ever let the one you love go? Could you just look for your happiness elsewhere?

Christopher: (looking away) He wanted me to.

Oriana: Doesn’t that make it worse? Knowing your beloved wants you to look elsewhere for happiness, to have another life without you?
Christopher stares at his feet, not speaking.

Oriana: Everything you once you had, all your memories, they’re like a poison. A sweet, addictive poison you taste and cannot escape from. She’s poisoned everything. (She pauses, considering her words.) Maybe I should do the same to her.

Christopher: I’d tell you to stop but there’s no point, is there? Whatever you’re planning to do is an addictive poison as well. It’s seeped through your heart and will, coloring everything. Do you really think the outcome will make you happy?

Oriana: Happiness means getting what I want when I want it. I want what I’ve always wanted. Power. Beauty. Grace. A certain something which has always eluded me. She’s the embodiment of all these qualities. Only she threw them away along with me. I’ll show her, I’ll give her a taste of her own poison. Just one bite and she won’t be able to run. She’ll be mine forever.

Christopher: Do you really think she will?

Oriana: Doubt me all you wish, Happily Ever After. I’m done begging for your favor, done pleading with anyone to make me happy. I’ll take my happiness myself, take it back. Just try and stop me.

Christopher: I wish you’d stop yourself before it’s too late.

Oriana: Did you stop yourself? Or did you do something to get your love back? Tell me, Happily Ever After, how right have your actions been to seize your happiness?

Christopher: They’ve often been wrong but they’re part of the story. I can sometimes see things, know how they’ll turn out. Your story may have a happy ending. I’m just not sure if you’re the one who’ll be happy.

Oriana: At least I’m doing something. I’m done with crying and pleading with a mirror to help me. I need to take action.

Christopher: All very well and good except when it’s the wrong action.

Oriana: Better to act wrongly than to not act at all.

Christopher: That’s a dangerous way to think.

Oriana: Life is dangerous. The very concept of safety is an illusion. She’s about to discover this.

Christopher: Teaching her this won’t make you happy.

Oriana: Nothing will make me happy. She is my happiness. If she rejects me, there is no happiness.

Christopher gazes at Oriana for a long moment before fading away. The queen is left alone in the mists.

Oriana: That’s right, you’re an illusion, too, Happily Ever After. None of this is real. Fine. I don’t need you. I’m about to get what I need.

She turns her back and disappears into the mist, becoming one shadow among many.

Rainbow Snippets: Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins

Welcome to #RainbowSnippets!

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 LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

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

For mine, Quartz will pick up where he left off last week in Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins. Actually he won’t get a chance to, because his brother, Opal is about to bother him…this is a little longer than six sentences because Quartz wants to let us know how annoying Opal is…(wry grin)

“Gossiping with the earth’s bones?” Opal’s sardonic tone drew me out of the quartz, disturbing my thoughts. “Try not to merge with the rocks, you fool. You know what happens to dwarves who get lost in the rock we came from.”

“Not to me. Not if I’m not interrupted.” I glared at the biggest bother of my brothers, except for maybe Agate.

Conversations with Christopher: Nimmie Not Wails (Again)

We begin this blog with a long, high-pitched wail…

Nimmie Not: (eyes bulging, mouth open, yes, he’s the source of the wail, true to the title :)) Noooooo!

Christopher huddles in his chair, hands clapped over his ears. The mists of the Cauldron scurry here and there, revealing jumbled bits of my imagination; Shelley’s bed with the long, red hangings at Lord Ruthvyn’s estate, Danyel and Tayel’s cottage in the valley below the tower and the hill, and oh, look! It’s the seven dwarves’s cottage in the Forest of Tears, only the garden gnomes lurking on the lawn are scampering in all directions, headed for the trees, anywhere, along as it’s away from the screaming kobold.

Nimmie Not stops, takes a deep shuddering breath, his dark eyes fixed and staring on some inner nightmare he can’t escape from.

Christopher: (lowering his hands from his ears in a hesitant fashion) Feel better now?

Nimmie Not: No! (He wraps his skinny arms around himself and begins to weep.) How could he? I warned him! I told him that humans were trouble. I told him how they broke my poor Prunella’s heart again and again. How they’ve made fools of so many of my kind…how could he?!

Christopher: You mean Quartz?

Nimmie Not: Yes, Quartz! (He gnashes sharp, needle-like teeth hiding behind his generous lips) What other “he” would I be talking about?!

Christopher: I don’t know. What did he do?

Nimmie Not: Allowed a human into his home! Yes, the very home I provided for him along with his brothers!

Christopher: Why?

Nimmie Not: She collapsed on the doorstep, acting all lost and scared, like something was chasing her. Quartz fell for it, the bearded fool!

Christopher: Maybe she was lost and scared. Maybe something was chasing her.

Nimmie Not: Don’t give me that. Humans are constantly lost and scared. Do you know why? Because they were careless and lost their way! They get in over their heads and grab desperately for someone to pull them out of their own mess rather than take care of it themselves!

Christopher: (flushing for some of this strikes close to his own heart) You don’t have to be human to do all of that, believe me.

Nimmie Not: (not really noticing Christopher’s discomfort) And why do humans get chased by something or someone? They gave something or someone a reason to chase them!

Christopher: Are you saying that being lost, scared, or chased is always the human’s fault? That it has nothing to do with someone or something tricking them into losing their way? Deciding to chase or scare the humans because it might be fun?

Nimmie Not: Oh, so the someone or something is always the monster and the human is some helpless little innocent that has nothing to do with her own fate? Can’t this human take responsibility for her own actions? Does she have to unload them on Quartz?

Christopher: How do you know she isn’t taking responsibility for her actions?

Nimmie Not: She’s running and collapsing on my dwarf’s doorstep!
Christopher: Maybe that’s her way of taking responsibility?

Nimmie Not: How do you figure that?

Christopher: I’m not sure.

Nimmie Not: Hmmph! I’ll tell you what I figure. She’s trouble. She’ll draw trouble toward her and everyone under the same roof as her. Including Quartz.

Christopher: Maybe. Maybe this human and your seven dwarves can handle this trouble if they work together. If you help them face it.

Nimmie Not: Maybe this human should disappear before her trouble hurts anyone other than her. Before she has a chance to get close to Quartz, hurting him as well.

Christopher: Just what are you scheming?

Nimmie Not: Oh, nothing. (He smiles a savagely sweet smile.) Nothing at all.

Christopher: If you do anything to Quartz’s guest, I doubt he’ll forgive you. He already cares enough to invite her into his home, offering her shelter and protection.

Nimmie Not: Oh, I won’t harm one pretty tress on her raven head, not I. I won’t have to.

Christopher: What do you mean?

Nimmie Not: You’ll see, yes, everyone will see. See that I’m right about this girl being trouble.

Christopher: Beware the consequences of malice. They have a way of coming back to haunt you in nightmarish ways.

Nimmie Not: Oh, my malice isn’t going to do anything. (He widens his grin, a red-orange flame glinting in the darkness of his eyes.) Not mine.

#RainbowSnippets: Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins

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 here…

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

For mine, Quartz will go on from where he left off last week in his story in progress, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins, and on and on and on…yes, it’s his favorite topic. (wry grin)

I resisted, squinting at this particular namestone. The quartz had a few clear, bright faces, but most inner landscapes were cloudy.

Now mind you, I don’t mind cloudy or murk. It can be a unique quality in a quartz, part of the stone’s nature. Not this one. The crystal’s murkiness rippled through its inner structure with malicious glee, stabbing at the heart. The ripple interrupted the rock’s energy flow, slowing it to a sluggish rhythm with a skipping hiccup or two.

Had some fool messed with this fragile beauty? What stupid goblin would do such a thing?

Conversations with Christopher: Jasper

Christopher sits facing a fidgety young dwarf in age and looks similar to Garnet from his ginger whiskers to the alert way his nose twitches. Only while Garnet squirms in unease, this dwarf does so out of curiousity and an inability to sit still.

Christopher: You’re Jasper, aren’t you? The youngest of Quartz’s brothers except for Garnet.

Jasper: Right, right. (He looks around with great interest.) Say, just where are we? I can see nothing but mist.

Christopher: We’re in what the scribbler calls the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration.

Jasper: Cauldron? Is all this mist steam? Are we slowly being cooked?

Christopher: Only in a metaphorical sense. On the other hand, this place is made of metaphor, imagination. It’s where our scribbler’s ideas come to a boil, so yes.

Jasper: Really? (looking more intrigued than afraid)

Christopher: No, not really. Do you think we’d be able to sit here, talking, if we were being cooked?

Jasper: So it’s only metaphor, imagination…I don’t get it.

Christopher: Neither do I. Not entirely. What this place serves as is somewhere between stories where characters from different universes can come together and talk.

Jasper: Like you and me? Just who are you, Christopher?

Christopher: I’m not sure myself. (He gestures to his slender body, currently clad in a black velvet vest and making trousers, his coppery-golden wavy hair which curls around his ears.) I think this used to be my form, but I didn’t dress this way. I picked this up when I was with Damian.

Jasper: Damian? Who’s he?

Christopher: Someone very precious to me. Someone I lost to the Shadow Forest.

Jasper: The Shadow Forest? Is that like the Forest of Tears?

Christopher: I’m not sure. What’s the Forest of Tears like?

Jasper: Your darkest fears can come to life and menace you. I’ve already seen three goblins, an orc, and a troll flitting between the trees. No garden gnomes, though. I guess only Garnet can see them.

Christopher: You’re afraid of goblins, orcs, and trolls, I take it?

Jasper: Very. We ran away to a different mountain to get away from them along with other dwarves. Who knew we could summon them from our own fears? I haven’t seen them anywhere close to our cottage, though. That’s our new home, where I live with my six brothers. We were lead there by a kobold, only a dragon stopped us along the way. Isn’t that exciting?

Christopher: Err, definitely exciting. Possibly terrifying.

Jasper: Oh, aye, as my older brothers would say. We all shook and fell on our faces, except for Quartz. Our oldest brother has stones; huge, terrifying stones.

Christopher: Meaning Quartz did something different?

Jasper: He talked to it! He actually talked to the dragon once Nimmie Not…that’s our kobold guide…introduced them. Quartz called the dragon Prue. Can you believe it? It’s short for Prunella.

Christopher: To be truthful, I’m not sure what to believe these days.

Jasper: I know, I know! A dragon ought to be called Firestorm, Hurricane, Thunderwyrm, or at least Smoke. Whoever heard of the dragon named Prunella?

Christopher: Well, I’ve never heard of one called Thunderwyrm either.

Jasper: You know what I mean. Anyway Quartz actually made a bargain with this dragon so we could live in the Forest of Tears. It seems Prunella is the Forest’s guardian or something.

Christopher: Really? What’s Prunella guarding?

Jasper: (pauses for a moment) That’s a very good question. I thought it was the Forest itself but maybe it’s something in the Forest. Or someone.

Christopher: Guess that’s one of the mysteries in your Forest of Tears. If it’s anything like the Shadow Forest, there will be many mysteries.

Jasper: I’m still wondering if the Forest of Tears is anything like your Shadow Forest. What’s the Shadow Forest like?

Christopher: The dream wood we wander in dreams and daydreams, slipping out of reality to walk our paths beneath its trees. It’s not just trees, even though I call it the Shadow Forest. It can be anything you imagine. Chances are if you’ve ever dreamed or lost yourself to your thoughts, you’ve entered these woods. This is how most visit the Shadow Forest, but if you have a wish strong enough, you can find a Door and cross over body and soul.

Jasper: Shards! That sounds mysterious!

Christopher: Always, not to mention perilous. You may enter through a Door with your mind, body, and spirit whole, but you seldom exit intact. The shadows always steal a part of you.

Jasper: The shadows?

Christopher: What those who walk the paths leave behind. Those who wait beneath the trees for life, breath, passion, memory, and clarity.

Jasper: You’re not being any less mysterious.

Christopher: It’s a mystery to me as well, even though I used to a shadow. Before I was, I don’t remember opening a Door to the Shadow Forest. I don’t remember much of who or what I was until Damian pulled me out of the darkness.

Jasper: And now this Shadow Forest has your Damian.

Christopher: He created a Door through a painting of me. He disappeared into the Door.

Jasper: I’m getting this chill down my spine while you’re telling me this.

Christopher: I always get one whenever I remember it. It was a chilling moment.

Jasper: I’m sure, which is why I’m chilled myself, even though it wasn’t my story. We have the same scribbler. I live in a different Forest than you but it’s still an enchanted Forest. I have a bad feeling it’s going to take someone from me, someone precious.

Christopher: Keep those you hold precious close. Watch over them.

Jasper: I’ll try, but is that enough?

Christopher: Not always. If your Forest of Tears does take someone from you, don’t give up on them. Keep searching for them even if it’s in a place you’d never think to look.

Jasper: Well, that sounds cryptic, but thank’ee. I’ll keep that in my mind.

Christopher: Good luck to you and your brothers.

Jasper: The same to you. I hope you find your Damian.

Christopher: I hope so, too.

#RainbowSnippets: Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins

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 LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

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

For my own, Quartz will continue where he left off last week in his story in progress; Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins…excuse him for rambling on beyond six sentences but this is one of my favorite topics which he wanted to be clear on…pun unintended. 🙂

I stopped next to a crystal, large enough to require both arms, but small enough to fit in a sack. It was larger than when I’d last seen it. I’d decided to leave it, watch it grow. I pressed my palms against its rough edges, letting its cool touch slide into my skin.

Aye, it was a beauty with its many facets, yet with a murky, opaque interior, a true child of earth and fire. This child would have sliced the hand open of any human who dared to touched it. We dwarves, however, are made of sturdier stuff. Legend says we were once made of rock and stone, so our flesh wasn’t so easily cut. Besides the quartz was my namestone. A quartz always felt right beneath my hands until I started to lose myself, melding with the rock until we were one. There was always that temptation, a temptation I wasn’t sure I should resist.

 

Conversations with Christopher: Quartz

An exhausted looking dwarf flops himself into the seat opposite a slight, slender boy with short, coppery-golden hair wearing a black turtleneck. Sometimes their seats are stonework with a pattern of bone and briar. Sometimes they’re wood. Sometimes they’re modern steel with a white cloth backing you might find in a living room. The mists drift by in the background. Look closely into them. You might catch a glimpse of a mine shaft, a clearing in a forest where a quartz crystal with a flawed center fuses with other stones, taking on color, taking on shape. Or you might see a cottage in the same forest with a patch of green in front, upon which the ghostly forms of garden gnomes creep.

Quartz: (for the exhausted looking dwarf is he) I’m telling you, I don’t know how you do it, lad. Play a major part in several of the scribbler’s works in progress, yet show up here, week after week.

Christopher: (the slender lad in the other seat) I get neglected just as you do. Being neglected may be lonesome, but it does give me a chance to breathe…and rest.

Quartz: Never thought I’d say this, but I’m starting to miss the days of neglect. Be careful what you wish for, bah. Hate it when Nimmie Not is right.

Christopher: At least you’re making new friends and moving along with the plot for Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins. Looks like you’ve got a great part to play, one you’re already playing.

Quartz: Aye, it’s that. A bit too great, if you ask me. Dragon-sized. (He snorts at his own joke.) Still you’re right. I’m glad to be getting along with Prue, considering they could roast my brothers and myself alive and swallow us in just a few gulps. Or flick their tail and knock us all to shards. For all that, Prue’s not so bad, even with the brimstone breath. I can see why Nimmie Not considers them a friend.

Christopher: Actually I was thinking of Nimmie Not when I mentioned friends. Or is he more than that?

Quartz: Don’t start. I’m beginning to see why that flawed crystal reflects Nimmie Not’s heart. He’s gotten damaged, caring about those who cared too much for humans. Not sure what to do about that.

Christopher: I’m not sure if you can.

Quartz: I’d like to. You’re right, I’m getting fond of that weird little man for all that he’s trouble and bound to cause more. (His nose turns pinker.)

Christopher: Maybe you’ve got a soft spot for trouble, eh, Quartz?

Quartz: I said don’t start. (His pink nose turns red.)

Christopher: You don’t suppose whatever is going in with Nimmie Not could be foreshadowing?

Quartz: Aye, I have a bad feeling it is. We’re going to be meeting some humans or humans will meet us. They’ll cause trouble. Or maybe Nimmie Not will cause trouble for them. My brothers and I will be right in the middle of it.

Christopher: Is there anything you can do about this?

Quartz: The best I can. That’s all any of us can do, eh, lad?

Christopher: I suppose you’re right. Good luck.

Quartz: Aye, I’ll need it.

#RainbowSnippets: Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins

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 LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

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

For mine, I’m returning to Quartz’s story, which he insisted I rewrite, because it “too flowery by half. Scribbler, get your head out of Hannigram and down to earth where the rocks are.”

I obliged him (he won’t shut up if I don’t) and began his story again. Only that’s not where I’m going to snippet from. I’m taking a segment from the mines which all Paula Wyant’s fault because she inspired this scene, the story, and even Nimmie Not himself with a prompt of hers.

Paula, this week’s snippet is dedicated to you. 😉 Here’s a sample from Quartz’s story in progress, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins…

Grabbing a moment to “moon over crystals” as my fool brother would say, I laid down my pick. It would only take a moment.

Most of my brothes were digging in the mine with their picks and axes. A few had stopped to sort through their treasures, polishing them up. Our rocks weren’t the sort most dwarves scrambled after, attracting every goblin, orc, and kobold with their greedy digging. What my brothers and I mined was coveted by a clever few, who were happy to pay handsomely for what we unearthed.

Conversations with Christopher: Briar

Christopher sits opposite a slender girl with snow-white skin, long ebon tresses, and blood-red lips, dressed in a purple gown trimmed with red ribbons.

Christopher: A pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty. Or should I call you Your Highness?

Briar: (smiles) Why do I feel like you’re more intimidated by me than you were by Oriana? She was a queen once, too.

Christopher: I’m not sure. There’s something…awe-inspiring…about you.

Briar: Thank you, but there’s no need for titles. Not here. Not now. Please call me Briar.

Christopher: Thank you. I will…Briar. That’s the name Princess Rose gave you in Fairest, isn’t it?

Briar: Yes. In Quartz’s story, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins, I’m still known as Princess Blanche, but I’ve come to hate that name. I’m trying to escape from her, the princess I once was and everything she used to love.

Christopher: That’s why you ended up in the Forest of Tears on the seven dwarves’s doorstep.

Briar: They were so good to me, especially Quartz. Quartz became the father I wish my own had been. I didn’t realize how much Quartz and I had in common, as far as matters of the heart were concerned.

Christopher: Meaning you both had jealous admirers?

Briar: Jealous admirers with flawed hearts. I saw mine at her most monstrous. There were too many similarities between Nimmie Not and Oriana. I judged the former unfairly, tainted by own experiences, yet I wasn’t entirely wrong.

Christopher: I’m guessing you and Nimmie Not meet in Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins. I’m also guessing you don’t get along.

Briar: I was living in what Nimmie Not saw as his cottage, despite the fact that he gave it to Quartz and his brothers. Living there without his consent, stealing a piece of Quartz’s heart, which Nimmie Not was already quite possessive of. I’m not sure if he ever forgave me for that.

Christopher: No, I doubt he would.

Briar: Not that our mutual antipathy was all his fault. The similaries I saw in Nimmie Not to Oriana re-awakened an anger in me, an anger I’d been trying hard to quench. I saw danger in this creature, so intent on possessing my father’s heart. Nimmie Not could hurt Quartz in the same way Oriana hurt me, Perhaps he’d also enslave Quartz the way Oriana enslaved my father. To say we didn’t get along was putting it mildly.
Christopher: I wonder…no, never mind.

Briar: Go ahead and say it. You wonder if Nimmie Not had anything to do with Oriana finding me at the dwarves’s cottage.

Christopher: Well, yes. Especially if he’s as jealous as you say. At the same time, you didn’t run very far from where Oriana last saw you. Or where part of her saw you.

Briar: Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins is a work in progress. I’m as mystified by these matters as you are.

Christopher: Our scribbler herself may have just thought of the idea.

Briar: We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, won’t we?

Christopher: Yes, we will. I’d wish you good luck, but I know you already have a happy ending.

Briar: It could have been happier. Which I hope it will be when Quartz’s story is told.

Christopher: When you put it that way, I’d better wish you luck, after all. Good luck!

Briar: Thank you.