Conversations with Christopher: Opal

Christopher sits facing a dwarf who resembles Quartz in his silvery-black beard, his slouch, and his scowling expression.

Christopher: You do look a bit like your brother.

Opal: I’m nothing like my brother, the daft, stone-struck fool. Bad enough the way he just spends hours staring into crystals. Now he’s flirting with kobolds, running errands for dragons, and inviting humans into the house!

Christopher: You seem to like the human.

Opal: Aye, I suppose she’s not a bad sort. And she’s useful around the house.

Christopher: Don’t you have a house because of Quartz’s dragon dealings and err, kobold entanglements?

Opal: Know a lot about that, d’ye, lad?

Christopher: This is the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration where the walls break down between our scribbler’s worlds. I know many things while I’m here.

Opal: Mystical nonsense, not to mention cheeky, knowing what you shouldn’t. Why do I know things about you, eh?

Christopher: Do you want to know about me?

Opal: Shards, no. I’m already stuck with one scrawny underfed human’s secrets. I don’t need another’s.

Christopher: There you go. You don’t know anything about me because you don’t want to know.

Opal: More cheeky, sneaky talk. I’m supposed to tell you about but you’re not saying anything about yourself, because I don’t want to know, eh?

Christopher: I could talk about myself. Do you want to hear it?

Opal: No.

Christopher: And you’d rather not talk about yourself?

Opal: Rather.

Christopher: You want to talk about something, however, or else you wouldn’t be here.

Opal: Fine! Fine! You want me to talk? Let’s talk! (He jumps out of his seat and starts to pace, back and forth the space between his empty chair and Christopher.) How can he do it? After all the times he’s warned us to be careful around outsiders, how can he flirt with a ruddy kobold?

Christopher: You mean Quartz.

Opal: He’s loud, he wears bright colors. He jumps around and sings, expecting everyone else to do the same. He plays games with all of us. You can’t trust him! Why does Quartz like him so much?

Christopher: Err, maybe you should ask Quartz?

Opal: Right, you try asking Quartz. He’ll just tell you to shut up!

Christopher: I see your point.

Opal: That kobold is bad news. Bringing us to his cottage, the bargain Quartz made with him, there’s a trick to all of it.

Christopher: Maybe Quartz realizes this.

Opal: Eh?

Christopher: Everything you’re saying Quartz may be aware of himself, yet he likes Nimmie Not in spite of it all.

Opal: Know the creature’s name, eh?

Christopher: He’s stopped by the Cauldron before.

Opal: Shards, is there no escaping that creature? Next you’ll tell me the dragon stopped by, too.

Christopher: Actually, yes, Prunella was here.

Opal: That’s it. I’m out of here, wherever here is!

There’s a burst of yellow smoke in the air between Christopher and Opal, slightly above their heads. The smoke clears to reveal a cuckoo clock floating in the midair. A tiny green door in the clockface opens. A little wooden bird pops out.

Bird: (using Nimmie Not’s voice) Fu-ture bro-ther-in-law! I’ll-get-you-out!

Opal: Gah! (He shrinks back in his seat from the clock and the bird.)

The bird retreats back behind the door. Both the clock and Opal disappear in twin clouds of yellow smoke, leaving only an empty chair behind.

Christopher: Well, I guess that’s all for now. (He studies the empty space where the clock was.)

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