Quartz finds his chair is gone. He’s left standing in the mists with no seat. There’s not even a red curtain.
Quartz: Eh? (He turns a bleary eye, wondering if this is one of Nimmie Not’s tricks, but even the kobold respects the curtain.)
The mists part to reveal the same steps leading up to a dais surrounded by four pillars. A woman with no trace of youth or old age upon her unnaturally smooth, tight skin cuts a striking, if angular figure in her silky white pants, high-necked gray tunic, and white jacket. Her short silvery gray hair falls across her forehead in a wavy fashion you might recognize from the early 1980s.
Eryximachia: (looking straight at the audience with cold gray eyes) It’s called New Wave, the way my hair looks. I’m honoring our foremothers from Ancient Earth. They cut their formerly long hair in the late 20th century to celebrate a new wave of thinking, a wave carrying them away from the prejudices of patriarchy to freedom. Not that is lasted.
Err, is that so? (The scribbler recalls seeing pop stars and actresses with the same hair in the early 1980s, wonders if this was really their motivation. Since I created Eryximachia, I know better than to get into an argument, err, engage her on this subject.) No buttons fasten Eryximachia’s gray jacket or tunic. They float around both in the shape of silver stars.
Quartz stares at the floating buttons. Blinks. Rubs his eyes.
Quartz: How do you get your jacket fastened with buttons like that?
Eryximachia: (lifting a nose, curling thin lips) Hmph! I’m not sure which is more appalling, your ignorance or your complete lack of fashion. I suppose the latter should be obvious, judging from all that hair on your chin. What are you supposed to be, a man from Ancient Earth?
Quartz: (the hair on the chin in question bristles) You’re a fine one to talk about ignorance, thinking a dwarf is a man. I’ll have you know that this is a beard. A fine beard is a sign of beauty. A beard is a dwarf’s pride and joy. I don’t think much of your people, woman, or their fashion if they don’t have beards.
Eryximachia: Open your mouth and folly fills the air. (sniffs) I am not a woman, dwarf. I am a lifer. I shudder to think of where you come from, to use such archaic terms. You must be some riff-raff from the fringes of the galaxy Sokrat collected.
Quartz: Ah, Sokrat. You’re from her universe. (grumbles) Typical scribbler. She does a cross-over with Sokrat’s universe and does she let me see Sokrat again? No, she decides to throw me together with this Oriana-wannabe.
Eryximachia: Hmph! I have no connection to any Oriana, whatever that is. I happen to be Agathea’s spiritual therapist. (She pauses for dramatic emphasis.) The Agathea.
Quartz: That supposed to impress me?
Eryximachia: (nostrils flaring in outrage) Of course it’s supposed to impress you! Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Agathea?!
Quartz: Huh, name sounds familar, not sure where. This Agathea is a she, right?
Eryximachia: Not just any she! Agathea is a she among shes, the foremost citizen of the Intergalactic Democracy! No other she can compare with her!
Quartz: Right. Bet my Fairest is twice the she of your she. Huh, Agathea, oh, right. The orb. I once talked to her orb.
Eryximachia: She has many orbs if I interpret your nonsense correctly, dwarf.
Quartz: The name’s Quartz. And my nonsense is talking to secondary characters like you and your Agathea’s orb in A Symposium in Space.
Eryximachia: You cannot recall Agathea, yet you know of her orbs and her symposium.
Quartz: Right. She was talking to Christopher last week. Not that I was listening. His conversations put me to sleep. Still say your Agathea doesn’t hold a candle to my Fairest.
Eryximachia: What need has Agathea of candles when she can draw the light of a billion stars to herself? All the eyes of the galaxy are upon her.
Quartz: Right. Mine are closing.
Eryximachia: You may mock me, dwarf, but being the nexus of such illumination is a heavy burden. Especially when you possess exceptional, ah, appetites.
Quartz: Huh. You mean like Christopher’s?
Eryximachia: I know nothing of this Christopher you keep babbling of or her connection to Agathea.
Quartz: Christopher is not a her, no, never mind.
Eryximachia: I do mind. I am annoyed by your rudeness, your lack of sensitivity. Do try to comprehend in your tiny mind for a moment what it’s like to be a beautiful and discerning soul with specific needs. Needs which can’t always be meet in a plethora of stars and planets filled with citizens chattering at you.
Quartz: (snorts) You talking about Agathea or yourself?
Eryximachia: Agathea, of course! Although yes, as her lover as well as her spiritual therapist, I feel her pain.
Quartz: Right. Just what are you doing about it?
Quartz: You say you’re Agathea’s lover. Not sure what in the ruddy shards a spirtual therapist is, but it sounds like Agathea’s well-being is a matter of concern. Or something.
Eryximachia: Of course. (Color rises in her pale cheeks.) Concern for Agathea’s well-being was why I suggested the symposium Agathea is having. To refresh her spirits.
Quartz: Eh? You’re the one who suggested the symposium?
Eryximachia: Indeed. I just wish Agathea had been a bit more selective about whom she invited. Some of her guests are crude. Sokrat may always offer refreshing eloquence, but trouble follows her wherever she goes. I fear it may have the impudence to crash our symposium.
Quartz: Heh, not sure whether that’s funny or I feel sorry for you. Hard keeping trouble away when it lands on your door. If it crashes into you, well, that’s just unfair.
Eryximachia: Indeed. Sokrat has always kept questionable company, but now that she’s being stalked by space pirates, she’s a positive menace.
Quartz: (brindles) Don’t go blaming Sokrat for the space pirates! Maybe she can’t help the company she keeps, eh? Maybe it just shows up in a mine shaft, bells on its toes, dancing around her, and she finds herself amused in spite of her better judgment. Aye, he may be stalking you, but you can’t help finding the kobold a wee bit attractive and is that your fault?
Eryximachia: Just what are you babbling about this time?
Quartz: Did I say kobold? I meant space pirate. Of course I meant space pirate. Why would I mention kobolds?
A red curtain drops upon Eryximachia’s head. She lets out a squawk. All the buttons fall to the ground as does Eryximachia’s jacket, tunic, and trousers. She grabs the curtain, wraps it around herself, preserving her modesty in a hasty moment of improvisation.
The kobold Quartz wasn’t mentioning is nowhere to be seen, but his voice rings out above Eryximachia’s head.
Nimmie Not: Red curtain meets anti-gravity! Red curtain wins!
Eryximachia: (glaring at the space above her head, then at Quartz) How dare you! What is the meaning of this insult?
Nimmie Not: Meaning means invisible kobolds Quartz wonders why he would mention!
Quartz: (sighing, yet not seeming all that displeased) Wasn’t me doing the insult. Not this time. Meet Nimmie Not. My kobold or pirate stalker.
Nimmie Not: Ah, my dear Quartz, you just admitted that I am yours! This is reason enough to repay insults slung at you by spiritual therapists. Spiritual therapists without any clothes! Tut, tut, you need a magic stronger than anti-gravity to stay dressed!
Eryximachia: Anti-gravity is not magic. (She draws herself up with some dignity, in spite of still clutching the curtain around herself.) And I am Eryximachia, no less a spiritual therapist whether I’m clothed or not.
Quartz: Right. I’m Quartz. Guess we should have introduced ourselves before the insults. Just what is a spirtual therapist?
Eryximachia: And you insult me yet again, Quartz. A spirtual therapist soothes the wrongs not so easily defined by flesh or science. Not that I have any hopes of having an enlightened conversation on the subject. Not with you and your Nimmie Not reducing this discussion to cheap gags.
Nimmie Not: Tut, tut! That’s what happens when you insult my dwarf! And I’ll tut you again!
Eryximachia: (blinking at the empty space) Your dwarf insulted my Agathea when he said she didn’t hold a candle to his Fairest. Such insolence inspires insults in return.
Nimmie Not: Hmm, I wouldn’t bother with candles for either of those scrawny human females. They all look the same to me. I wouldn’t bother saying who the fairest of them all is. They’ve all got their opinions on the matter. Waste of time, even comparing.
Eryximachia and Quartz: (both drawning themselves up with outrage) A waste of time?!
Nimmie Not: Tut, tut, a waste! ’Tis a silly girlish question, filled with frail feelings of self-doubt, tut!
Eryximachia: And that is an equally repulsive display of patriarch scorn in the face of a young lifer’s feelings as she struggles to discover her own beauty. Exactly what I’d expect from a man from Ancient Earth. Go tut yourself!
Quartz: Huh, what she said. Scary how I just agreed with her.
Nimmie Not: Tee hee! You’re an amusing old bone, Eryximachia, for all your arrogance. A pity you’re from a different universe. I’d much rather play with you than Oriana.
Quartz: (glaring at the empty space) What’s that? Just what are you playing at?
Nimmie Not: Oh, don’t get jealous, my dear dwarf, tut! My first choice to play with is still you.
Quartz: (mutters) Not sure if I’m jealous or pitying Oriana.
Eryximachia: More babbling about this Oriana. I know nothing of her. Nor am I old. I’ve removed every trace of age from myself.
Nimmie Not: How dull. Age can bring charm and character if you welcome it. Yes, it can.
Quartz: (mutters) Now I know the scribbler is putting words in your mouth, kobold. She’s turning fifty this week and trying to see the cheer in it. Not that I see it. Fifty is way too young to figure out anything yet humans already start to wrinkle when they reach that age. (frowns) Wait, is she putting words in my mouth?
Nimmie Not: She’s always putting words on our mouths, my dear dwarf. Where’s the cheer in turning stiff and cranky like Eryximachia?
Eryximachia: What was that?
Nimmie Not: Although there are those who embrace the crankiness. Make it part of their inner being, just like you do, Quartz.
Quartz: (growls) Come down and say that to my face. I dare you.
A second red curtain drops upon Quartz. He struggles to escape from its folds.
Eryximachia: I’ve had enough of you, you unseen pest! (She starts to swat the air, trying to bat the kobold, only to hear him cackle in mockery.
I’ll leave my last Monday of being forty-nine at the Cauldron on that note, ending it with Nimmie Not’s laughter. At least it’s ending in laughter. Not that Eryximachia nor Quartz appreciate this ending.
Quartz and Eryximachia: (at the same time) Shut up, scribbler!
Ahem, if you’ve enjoyed meeting Eryximachia and would like to see more of Sokrat, her pirate, and her devotion as a lover and a spiritual therapist to Agathea, go to…
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