Secondary Characters Speak Out: Agate

Quartz finds himself confronted by a younger dwarf glowering at him underneath bright red whiskers, way too red. The dwarf fusses with those whiskers and his waistcoat in between glowers. 

Quartz: What’s with that ridiculous dye?

Agate: (scowling all the more) It’s not dye. (He smoothes this beard.) This is Dragon Agate of the Grotto. 

Quartz: What in all the shards of sorry stones is that supposed to be?

Agate: A special substance ground into a powder with…other things. I get it from the mages we trade with in the human villages. It seemed perfect. It includes my namestone after all. 

Quartz: Right. That’s supposed to my your namestone. Or a nod to your namestone. And the ridiculous lets out a loud fart. 

Agate: You’re a fine one to talk, the way you’re lying there in that crystal coffin, snoring. 

Quartz: I don’t snore. 

Agate: All the while somehow here you are, lording it over secondary characters once a month in this frog-

Quartz: Blog. 

Agate: Right. You say you’re encouraging secondary characters to speak out, especially against the aggravations of major characters. Well this secondary character has things to say to you, Quartz. To you and about you. 

Quartz: Right. Say away. It’s not like I could ever stop you from talking once you opened your mouth. 

Agate: Listen to you grumble! You make such a fuss about how wronged secondary characters are, particulary you, when you’re the only one of us seven dwarves getting his own story. 

Quartz: Well, err, there is that. (He looks a bit uncomfortable.) I doubt Garnet wants his own story. I know Opal doesn’t. 

Agate: That doesn’t mean we all don’t! You act like you’re so tortured by the scribbler, never getting enough attention from her, because of the drama of her other characters-

Quartz: I didn’t say it that way! Well, not quite that way-

Agate: -when your own drama stole the time and happiness of other secondary characters, your own brothers!

Quartz: Just how have I stolen your happiness? Haven’t I always looked out for your sorry arse?

Agate: Aye, you have! By taking us away from all dwarven civilization-

Quartz: Those civilizations were hardly civilized, the way they warred on each other when they weren’t fighting off goblins. Mother wanted us to live free and safe from all that. So did I.

Agate: -when you’re finally fortunate enough to catch the eye of someone far more cultivated than yourself-

Quartz: I hope you’re not talking about Nimmie Not. 

Nimmie Not: (not visible, but Quartz can hear his voice directly in his ear) Jealous, darling? Nice that some of your family appreciates me.

Quartz: Gah! (recoiling from the voice) Don’t do that!

Agate: (pointedly not looking at his brother)-who continues to stick around, no matter how grumpy you get-

Quartz: I’m not that grumpy. Usually. (considers) Sometimes.

Nimmie Not: (still invisible, still whispering) You are challenging. Always. It’s what makes you fun. 

Agate: (not seeming to notice this conversation)-something you could have cultivated to improve our lot. Instead you abandon us at a cottage in the Forest of Tears-

Quartz: I did not abandon you. I got cursed. Sort of. 

Agate: -take in a human girl who brings her own curses down upon our heads-

Quartz: She’s not responsible for what happened. To me. Well, not entirely. 

Agate: -and now my brothers and I are all alone in the cottage, going through the motions of trudging up the mountain to work in the mine, our only joy the times when we go to village faires to trade with human mages-

Quartz: Judging from your beard, you’ve gotten too much joy out of that. 

Agate: -Opal trying to carry on as if he’s you, but he’s not you. We need you, Quartz. How could you leave us. 

Quartz: I haven’t left you, Agate. I’m right there with you in the Forest of Tears.

Agate: You might as well be dead, the way you lie there in that coffin.

Quartz: I’m not dead. I just absorbed the backlash of our Fairest’s curse from that ruddy crystal coffin I put together. Or that put itself together once I gathered the pieces. Which may have been what Prunella and Nimmie Not planned.

Agate: The dragon as well? Why would they do that to you?

Quartz: I’m not sure if they were doing it to me so much as they were using me to get to those human witch princesses. I was just a tool to bring back the Queens of Dawn and Twilight. 

Agate: Do you really think that’s all you are?

Nimmie Not: (speaking in a reproachful voice in Quartz’s ear) Darling, how can you think so little of me? Didn’t I say from the beginning you were a Person of Great Importance? That your name was in my book?

Quartz: Right. I’m not sure if Persons of Great Importance aren’t just tools of fate. Or the playthings of someone who thinks they’re as great as fate. 

Agate: Huh?

Quartz: Never you mind. It’s not important, not really. I never meant to abandon you, little brother. I’ll find a way to return to you, to all of you. 

Agate: Right. There you go again. Making big promises you can’t keep. Like “I’ll find a way to keep us out of the goblin wars.”

Quartz: I did, didn’t I?

Agate: Or “I’ll find us a new home.”

Quartz: Did that too.

Nimmie Not: (now loud enough to heard if he still can’t be seen) With help!

Quartz: (flinching and flushing) Right, with help. Point being my promises may be big, but I’ve kept them. I’ll get out of that coffin.

Agate: When? 

Quartz: (turning his glower on me on the other side of the screen) Aye, scribbler, when?

Me: (sweating) I’m working on it. Right now I’m expanding on Rose learning how to handle her royal court, meeting Marian and Lord Gerard in Fairest.

Quartz: Right. You’ve always got an excuse, scribbler.

Agate: (sniffing, chimes in) Always. 

Me: Right. I’m getting there…

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, Cinders is going to continue where she left off in far more pleasant company than her father or stepmother’s…

She knew I was there. She seemed to be able to feel whenever I was near. The thought gave me a delightful shiver. 

“Cinders.” She uttered the word with a slow, almost seductive intonation, closing the door behind her. She looked me up and down with those wondrous sapphire eyes.

Like my style of writing? Want to read more? Here are buy links to my published works…

https://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

#QueerBlogWed: Paula’s Prompts

On 2/24/21, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt of a basement, a card game, a demon and a young woman.

This freebie story for my Work in Progress, A Godling for Your Thoughts? was the result…

The demon was an ugly little creature with bat wings, a horned muzzle and snouts. It hunched on its claws, moving in a sycophantic shuffle. Exactly the sort of manifestation ‘Lyssa would expect to come from Gryluxx’s wish.

Even so all aspects of Seraphix were part of Seraphix. This made the demon ‘Lyssa’s sister. 

“Hello.” She smiled, showing very sharp teeth. ‘Lyssa was well aware of how she appeared; a sleek young woman with silver and gold streaks in her honey-colored hair, falling down over the shoulders of her black leather jerkin. Loose lavender skirts cover her legs which matched her lavender and silver eyes, so different from the Ashelocke rose orbs of her creatrix. She waved a hand, gesturing to the creature on the stairs, inviting it into the basement. “Come on down. Let’s play a game, shall we?”

The demon crept upon awkward clawed feet, trying to keep its purchase upon the stairs. It was impossible to fly, poor thing. ‘Lyssa wondered if the demon had ever done anything of its own free will. Gryluxx wouldn’t want his creation to be a a partner or an ideal. He desired a slave who’d obey his every wish. Meggie for all the abuse she took from her husband would be disappointing in that respect. As for the twins, their delicate appearance was deceptive. If Gryluxx tried to dominate and terrorize them while they were in his employ, the tailor was in for a surprise. He needed to dominate and terrorize someone, to live up to his own delusions of being a great wizard. The demon was the incarnation of that desire, born of the union between Gryluxx and Seraphix, Seraphix’s manifestation to his Follower and worshipper. 

‘Lyssa wondered at her intimate knowledge of Gryluxx. A man who’d never interested Melyssa wouldn’t interest her. All he’d been in Mel was Meggie’s poor choice of a husband. To Melyssa, Gryluxx was the reason arachnocrats had Marriage Feasts, not allowing boys to grow up to be repulsive men like the tailor. Seraphix had brought them together. ‘Lyssa could sense the other aspects born from the godling’s Followers. In a way were one through Seraphix. 

The demon approached the table, sniffed at the cards. 

“These were painted and designed by my cousin. Well, Melyssa’s cousin.” ‘Lyssa smiled at the skull surrounded by blooming roses sitting upon the table next to the card deck. “Too many arachnocrats saw Damian Ashelocke as nothing more than a potential Marriage Feast; but what gave him potential was power. Power he chose to channel into art.”

The demon snorted, a hissing sound. It was both an insult and a request. 

“Of course this is just a game.” ‘Lyssa laughed, a light silvery sound. “Still it is interesting to speculate what Fate has in store for us or what we choose to read in a card’s painted image. Shall I pick one?”

The demon let out another snort, a less derisive one. It fixed slitted, balefire eyes upon her. 

‘Lyssa reached out with long slender hands, more graceful than poor Mel’s had ever been, sliding a card off the top of a deck. She turned it over.

A boy with touseled curls and innocent eyes danced on the edge of a cliff, not watching his feet, not ever noticing the perilous drop before him. His attention was fixed upon the sky.

“The Innocent or the Fool.” ‘Lyssa smiled a bit wistfully. “I suppose we all are or perhaps our creators? We are Seraphix, each and every one of us by association. Perhaps this means our godling is a fool. Their endeavour to manifest, to achieve godhood through Their Followers is sheer folly.”

The demon made a clucking sound of reproval, snapping its fangs together. Whatever else Seraphix might be, They existed and Their aspects existed. Wasn’t that a cause for some joy, however foolish?

“You may be right.” Thoughtfully ‘Lyssa swept the card back into the deck with her hand, reshuffling the images to be lost amidst the other painted representations of potential fates. “You may be right.” 

Conversations with Christopher: Jasper

Christopher sits facing a fidgety young dwarf with ginger whiskers which almost bristle with own inquisitiveness as he looks around, green eyes bright. 

Jasper: So this place is the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration, huh? Why is it called that?

Christopher: Our scribbler has this visual of her imagination being like a cauldron where ideas, particularly story ideas come to a boil. Hence the name of her blog.

Jasper: Ooo, is she planning to cook us all when she’s done with us?

(A weary me writing all this elsewhere thinks, “Don’t give me ideas.”)

Christopher: (shaking his head, but looking just a little uneasy, perhaps after catching my stray thought) Not literally. She’d miss us too much. 

Jasper: (considering this) I suppose she couldn’t cook us literally since we’re all just figments of her imagination and this Cauldron is actually a blog, but could she cook us figuratively? Or metaphorically? 

Christopher: (his unease turning into a pensive thoughtfulness) She might. Maybe in the same way I’ve consumed those I met in the Shadow Forest. Or aspects of them. 

Jasper: (looking around at the mists) Is this the Shadow Forest? The fog feels a bit cool for steam in a cauldron. 

Christopher: This place feels a bit like the Shadow Forest. Sometimes. The way things appear and disappear, like our chairs, objects, even entire locations come and go in the Shadow Forest. Places come and go as well.

Jasper: Can’t you just tell if this is the Shadow Forest somehow?

Christopher: No, not always. It’s in the nature of the Shadow Forest to hide itself. Just like a dream you’re not always aware you’re having can envelop you, getting you to accept it without question. 

Jasper: Huh, I always know when I’m in the Forest of Tears. The sounds and smells are sharper, trees and flowers are everywhere, yet somehow the entire place feels sleepy. 

Christopher: Do you like the Forest of Tears?

Jasper: Oh, I like it well enough, it’s quite the interesting place! I’d like it even more if I could see what moves and waits beneath the trees like Garnet does. 

Christopher: Garnet seems terrified of what he sees. 

Jasper: He shouldn’t be! It’s so exciting, to be able to see the interesting stuff he does! All I notice about a garden gnome is their round, rosy faces. And the fact that they smile too much. He has no idea how lucky he is. 

Christopher: Lucky, huh?

Jasper: Aye, lucky! I wish I could see invisible creatures in the forest, watching us. I wonder what they want. Do they want to eat us? Or do they want something else?

Christopher: You don’t seem particularly frightened by the notion of creatures in the Forest of Tears waiting to eat you. 

Jasper: Well, you mentioned you ate parts of people in a figurative or metaphorical way. 

Christopher: Sort of. I absorb memories, ideas, thoughts, emotions, dreams, energy. They’re often the things people discard when they wander off the path in the Shadow Forest. A person may walk away, never knowing I’ve fed upon them. I usually consume that memory as well.

Jasper: Only those you feed upon change. They’ve lost something.

Christopher: I suppose they have. (He looks down.) It’s usually something they wanted to get rid of. Or perhaps I’m just telling myself this to make myself feel less guilty about feeding. It doesn’t have to be parasitical experience. I can give something back when I consume, something of myself in return. 

Jasper: There, you see? You’re a nice hungry thing, watching and waiting. Perhaps the ones in the Forest of Tears are nice too. 

Christopher: (smiles a little and shakes his head) You’re starting to sound like Danyel.

Jasper: Who’s Danyel? Is he someone you want to eat? Or consume and share with, to use your words? At least I think I’m using your words. It is a bit complicated, your notions of feeding on people. It’s nothing like a dragon who just burns you and swallows you whole; body, dreams, the entire thing. Or some creature with fangs who sucks your blood or something else out.

Christopher: (chuckles) I suppose it is confusing if you don’t experience it. Danyel is, well, he was once part of me. Now he’s his own person. I really don’t want to consume him, but I suppose I am drawn to him, hunger for him. His brothers would kill me if I tried anything, not that I blame either of them for being protective. 

Jasper: You see? Like I said, you’re a nice hungry creature watching and waiting. At least you seem to be. 

Christopher: I’m not always what I seem to be. Be careful. 

Jasper: I still feel like Garnet should give the hungry things in the darkness a chance. I think that girl, Rose had the right idea when she went outside to face her.

Christopher: Garnet mentioned that. Rose’s action terrified him. 

Jasper: It would, wouldn’t it? He keeps forgetting that she was our friend, the one waiting in the darkness. More than that, she was family. 

Christopher: Do you mean Princess Blanche? Quartz’s Fairest?

Jasper: That’s her. No one wants to talk about her since she took Quartz away, but nothing has been the same since. 

Christopher: Did she actually take Quartz away? 

Jasper: He went still and motionless when she rose from the crystal coffin where she’d been sleeping. Now he’s the one who’s asleep and he won’t wake up. He just lies there in that same crystal coffin where she used to be. Opal says he’s as good as dead.

Christopher: What do you think? 

Jasper: I think if we don’t talk to our former friend, we’ll never know what happened or what’s the matter with Quartz.

Christopher: You want to talk to her. Not just talk about her, talk to her. 

Jasper: I didn’t realize it until Rose tried. I had an opportunity to do so when she came to the window. I just froze, like my brothers. Garnet may accuse me of foolhardy bravery but I haven’t been brave. Not when it counts.

Christopher: I have a feeling you’ll get more chances to be brave. Or to choose a course of action you’re happier with. 

Jasper: I hope so. I sure hope so. 

Did you enjoy my writing? Want to read more? Here are links to my published works…

https://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

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 try samples of different LGBTQIA+ stories by a variety of authors, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, Cinders’s stepmother and father will pick up where they left off last week in my expanding version of At Her Service, poor Cinders. Not that she’s paying too much attention to either of them…:)

“Clearly her breeding leads much to be desired.”

“Clearly her stepmother has been doing little to improve her behavior!” he vented with a surprising show of force. “Clean her up immediately.”

“Ariella, see the girl is cleaned up.” The lady turned to the reason I’d been standing behind the door in the first place. Not to see my father fuss or the lady rage, but to watch the Lady Ariella standing in the corner, the amused light twinkling in her dark blue eyes, especially when they glanced from time to time to the door. 

Enjoy my style of writing? Want to read more? Here are links to my published works…

https://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On April 28, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a flock of seagulls, a dilapidated house, and a watering can.

This poem was the result…

Duck and cover at the sight

A flock of seagulls in flight above

Ready and willing to bomb anything below

Look what they’ve done to that dilapidated house 

It was a lot less dilapidated before they left their mark

It’ll take more than one watering can to clean up their mess

Messes they left behind; feasting and relieving themselves

The seagulls’s targets take on many forms

Such as the woman carrying a sandwich and some fries

Deciding to picnic in the house’s wild garden full of weeds

A picturesque spot for a lunch break not far from work

Only the seagulls made short work of her and her food

One bird dive-bombed her, making her drop the sandwich and fries

The others swooped down to snatch the fries, the bread

Every pickle, every bit of bread was carried off

The crime took no less than ten minutes flat

Since their success, the birds have made the house their lair

They lie in wait for more unwary picnickers

I’d avoid that garden if I was you

It’s hard for visitors not to become victims

Not when the birds are so well-organized

Besides the house is far less picturesque

Since the flock settled in and made their marks (everywhere). 

Conversations with Christopher: Agate

Christopher sits facing a dwarf with an impeccably groomed beard that’s just a touch too red, several strands braided with green ribbon. The ribbon matches his green waistcoat which its owner smoothes when he’s not stroking his beard. 

Agate: Surely you know who I am? No. Of course you don’t.

Christopher: Err, you’re one of Quartz’s younger brothers? Agate, isn’t it?

Agate: What a surprise. I’m astonished you recalled my name. Yes, I’m Agate, younger brother to not only Quartz, but Opal, Onyx, and Sardonyx. Older brother to Jasper and Garnet. (He scowls, the furrowing of his brow showing a pronounced resemblance to Quartz, Opal, and Garnet.) Yes, I’m quite shocked, considering you overlooked me for a guest, choosing to have my younger brother and his disaster of a beard before me. 

Christopher: Err…

Agate: I’ll have you know I’m the beauty of the family. Even if I’m not the one with an elemental admirer.

Christopher: Ah, an elemental admirer?

Agate: Unlike Quartz, I regard Nimmie Not with the respect he deserves. Not that he seems to notice. 

Christopher and Agate look up, wondering if Nimmie Not’s voice is going to float out of nowhere, saying something. It doesn’t. 

Agate: See? I’m constantly overlooked. How did that girl describe me in Fairest? 

Christopher: Err…

Agate: Right. She didn’t even notice me. I was just one more sad, gray dwarf. I am not gray! Look at my beard! 

Christopher: Um, it is hard to miss. By girl in Fairest, do you mean Rose?

Agate: I believe that was her name. She was a human princess of some sort. All of the human girls who stay with us are princesses. Or queens. 

Christopher: By us, you mean yourself and your brothers?

Agate: If only I meant someone else. Honestly we should get some acknowledgment for hosting human royalty. Or something grander than a cottage in a bleak, barren wood if they expect us to entertain them. 

Christopher: Is the Forest of Tears really so bleak and barren? Garnet gave me the impression it was teeming with hidden life, shifting in the shadows, watching. 

Agate: Did he now?

Christopher: Err, those are my words. What he told me of the Forest of Tears made me think of the Shadow Forest. 

Agate: Is that so? I don’t know about your Shadow Forest, but let me tell you something about Garnet. He always thinks something is watching. He’s actually afraid of garden gnomes, can you believe it? Those pudgy, rosy-cheeked, insipid dwarf wannabes? How could anyone be afraid of a garden gnome?

Christopher: He is. He thinks there’s more to them than rosy cheeks. 

Agate: Right. If only the Forest of Tears was teeming with hidden life! It’s not that interesting. It’s an even more bleak, desolate place than the mountain we mine. 

Christopher: You don’t like the mountain? Or don’t you like mining?

Agate: I prefer trading. Going to a village or town market, seeing what we get in return for the rocks we’ve mined…that’s the fun part of what we do. Not that any of my brothers seem to appreciate it as much as I do. Not even Quartz did. He was all about the rocks themselves, not what we can do with them. 

Christopher: You’re not interested in your wares? 

Agate: Of course I’m interested in them. There’s joy in the moment of finding a stone, but this particular mountain takes its time yielding it. Nor are there any other dwarves with us other than my brothers. 

Christopher: I thought you and your family were trying to avoid other dwarves? Plus don’t you share your mountain with a dragon?

Agate: I see a dragon as potential peril, not potential company. I can’t believe Quartz struck up an aquaintance with them, but he’s always been an eccentric in the company he keeps. 

Christopher: You seem to like Nimmie Not, though. 

Agate: Well, he’s amusing and does his best to please. Plus he keeps bringing us gifts, like the clock in our cottage. I think it’s fascinating. I’m not sure if I’ve ever since anything like it. If I’d been in Quartz’s boots, I would have taken advantage of the situation.

Christopher: How? 

Agate: Asked for more expensive presents. Honestly, why Nimmie Not chose to court Quartz is beyond me. I have far more handsome whiskers. 

Quartz: (doesn’t appear but his disembodied grumble can be heard) And he never lets anyone forget it. Never.

Agate: (giving the air a pointed look) Right. Kind of like the dead never shut up. 

Quartz: (the voice getting louder) When will you stone fools get it through your stone fool heads? I’m not dead! 

Agate: The way you’re lying in that coffin, you might as well be. Except you snore. 

Quartz: (grumbling) Cheeky brat.

Agate: Stubborn old git. 

Christopher wisely decides not to add anything…

Enjoy this scribbler’s scribblings? Here’s are a couple of links to my published works…

https://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

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 variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, Cinders’s father is going to let his daughter know exactly he thinks of a young lady who rolls around in the cinders. That is, if he recognizes his daughter…(wry grin)

When he noticed me standing behind the door, he did a double-take. 

“Who is this urchin? Get her away from me!” He waved his hands in front of me. “Shoo!”

“It’s your daughter, dear,” the lady informed him with great satisfaction.

Like my style of writing? Want to read more of my work? Here are links to my published works…

https://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

#QueerBlogWed: Paula’s Prompts

On February 10, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a little black book, a contest, and a sweet treat.

This poem was the result which is practically fanfic. Can you guess which fandom? 🙂

A sweet smile spreads across his face

Promising a sweet treat for all

Writing down names and notes on the people he kisses

It’s a contest to see what everyone will reveal

Whom they really are, what they really want

His face and smile were never false

He simply borrowed them to get everyone to lower their guard

He’s offering a mischief in return for a mischief

Everyone he kisses has done something naughty

Or maybe has something especially juicy to hide

It’s a contest between candidates but he has his favorites

The reviled, the honest, the perpetually charming

These ones make him recall his own lost youth

 A life he’d almost forgotten in his weary years

You’d never guess his age, he likes wearing a young face

Jaded, seeking beauty, seeking new games to play

The contest and the little black notebook are only the latest

Perhaps he’ll reward himself with the sweetest treat of all

A kiss of life and a handsome young body

Once he’s had his fill of his current form. 

Conversations with Christopher: Garnet

Christopher sits facing a young dwarf with a harried expression and a scraggly ginger beard whose stubby fingers keep twitching. 

Garnet: Don’t say it.

Christopher: Say what?

Garnet: Don’t tell me. A beard is a dwarf’s pride and joy. All I’ve got to say is there’s been a lot of stress in my life of late. (He reaches up to tug on his beard which appears to be missing entire chucks which he’s pulled out.)

Nimmie Not: (who’s only a disembodied voice) Tut, tut, youngling! That’s no way to treat a beard, oh no! As your future brother-in-law, I can hardly sit back and let you make a mess of yourself, no, I cannot!

Garnet: (starting a little but he doesn’t seem unused to disembodied voices) Fine time to show up again after letting Quartz get cursed! Give me my brother back!

There’s no answer, just a faint humming. 

Garnet reaches for his beard again.

Nimmie Not: (the voice is even closer) Uh uh!

Garnet: Right. Scold me about the state of my beard after what you did to Quartz. Some brother-in-law you are. Not to mention husband!

Nimmie Not: (still invisible but his voice takes on a high-pitched note of indignition) I’ll have you know I had nothing to do with the state Quartz is in! (pauses a moment) All right, very little to do with it. (pauses again) All right, I have something to do with it, but it wouldn’t have happened if Quartz hadn’t been such a fool for that witchling princess of his. 

Christopher: By witchling princess I assume you mean Blanche?

Garnet: Aye, she’s the one. Whenever Nimmie Not speaks of witchling princesses, he’s talking about her. Even though we meet another, my brothers and I in Fairest.

Christopher: This time you mean Rose. 

Garnet: Aye, the one who came knocking on our door with Oriana. Looks a lot like Oriana too, only she has far more innocent eyes and the bold folly of the young. 

Christopher: You’re not that old. 

Garnet: Thank you, but I’m weathered and wise enough to stay in the warm light of my cottage when darkness awaits outside. I wouldn’t go running out into the darkness, arms open wide. 

Christopher: (chuckles) You remind me a little of Tayel. He constantly grumbles about his twin, Danyel, being far too curious and eager to stretch out his hand to things lurking in the shadows which only he can see. 

Garnet: Aye, I see a lot of things my brothers don’t, lurking in the shadows or in plain sight. (shudders) Garden gnomes, ugh! They pretend to be innocuous, but I’ve seen those sharp teeth hiding behind their rosy faces and smiling lips. Your Tayel is right to worry about his Danyel. Stretching out your hand is a good way to get grabbed. 

Christopher: (his expression turning furtive) True. (He looks away.) Did Rose get grabbed when she went out in the darkness?

Garnet: No, but I suspect the one waiting in the darkness wanted to grab her. Inviting her in was dangerous, no matter what she once might have been. 

Christopher: I get the impression you’re talking about more than one her. 

Garnet: Yes, the one who came to our window, our former Fairest. It was she who Rose invited in. Or rather the witch she’s become. 

Christopher: Your Fairest is no longer welcome in your home now that she’s a witch?

Garnet: Well…(he looks down at his feet)…let’s just say I worry about her motives for lurking around our window. She’s been gone for so long, only letting us hear an occasional song or a laugh, but never approaching any of my brothers nor me. She lay Quartz to rest where she once lay in a terrifying display of power, leaving him for dead. Or as good as dead. 

Christopher: Do you really think Quartz is as good as dead? 

Garnet: Opal insists that he is. He refuses to hear a word otherwise.

Christopher: You don’t sound so sure yourself. 

Garnet: Don’t know. I got my darker moments where I think like Opal, seeing Quartz lying there not moving in that crystal coffin he put together, the one he lay our Fairest in after she was cursed. Can’t help thinking that we may not have thought of everything, including something which could awaken him. 

Nimmie Not: (disembodied voice speaking again) Don’t ever give up, little dwarf, don’t you dare. 

Garnet: (glowering around in the direction of the voice) You’re a fine one to lecture me on not giving up on a way to save my brother. Have you done anything? Anything that worked? 

Christopher: He’s right, though. Don’t give up. Quartz certainly hasn’t, even if he’s currently just a very loud ghost haunting the Cauldron. 

Quartz: (another disembodied voice) Hrmph! 

Garnet: (looking around) Eh?

Christopher: (smiling) See what I mean?

Garnet: No, but I hear you. All of you. (He reaches for his beard.)

Nimmie Not and Quartz: (disembodied voices in synch) Don’t even think it!

Garnet drops his hands in a guilty fashion. 

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