It’s the same table with the same morning sunlight pouring through the window while Map and Quartz face each other.
Who are Map and Quartz? A stocky woman with a weathered brown face lined as a tree trunk and an even stockier dwarf with a silvery black beard.
Map: Strange how we can be at the same time and place while outside this Cauldron three weeks have passed.
Quartz: Aye, strange. I blame the scribbler. Want to talk about strange things? Or one particular strange thing?
Map: I’m not sure how strange a thing he is. He’s not any stranger than my children are.
Quartz: He’s not, eh?
Map: (slumping a bit in her seat) I suppose we’re all strange things if you put it that way.
Quartz: Aye, we are. What bothers you about this particular strange thing?
Map: He’s everything I’m not. Many things I find quite attractive. Only he appeared at one of my worst moments.
Quartz: One of those destructive and stupid moments?
Map: Yes, those. He has a way of appearing whenever they happen. The first time he was quite young, but his eyes were filled with frozen color, reflecting back what I’d done. He’d captured it forever, making it part of himself.
Quartz: What did you do?
Map: Brought down fire and lightning upon a crown of bone and gold, driving its lord out.
Map: He was luring people into his walls, promising to grant their wishes, to give them whatever they wanted if they worshipped him, giving him everything they had. Some of his victims were dear to me.
Quartz: Can see why you were upset.
Map: Only I’m not sure if there was anyone left in the tower when the lightning came. The only one left was the boy. He appeared when I released my anger. As if he’d somehow been born from it. I’d never seen eyes like his. Pale lavender, ice blue, pink, silver, with a hint of green which swam with images. Things I didn’t want to see.
Quartz: Sounds like Christopher’s eyes.
Map: (standing up) He is nothing like Christopher! Nothing!
Quartz: (holding up a hand) Calm yourself, woman. Not saying he is. Just that eyes filled with different colors which reflect you back, or something you’ve lost? Something you didn’t even know you were missing? That sounds like Christopher.
Map: He claims to be like Christopher, but I don’t believe him. (sits back down)
Map: I didn’t want to remember what had happened. He forced me to see, to remember. It’s why I turned away and ran from him.
Quartz: Only he won’t let you.
Map: He’s followed me. I took shelter in a temple of women when they saw my true face. It frightened them. They turned on me. I got angry.
Quartz: Did something destructive and stupid again, did you?
Map: It’s why I live alone in this cottage, avoiding people. Most people.
Quartz: Only you can’t avoid him.
Map: Somehow he’s become the lord of the land this cottage is upon. Can’t help wonder if becoming a lord is his way of reminding me of what I’ve done. Not that he doesn’t enjoy luxury and power. Not to mention beauty. This is why he has his eye on my boys.
Quartz: Fancies them, does he?
Map: The twins fear him, but my Leiwell is only too smitten with him. I fear this being may have given him a taste for power, wealth, and beauty.
Quartz: Did you want those things? Once upon a time?
Map: Don’t say that name! (shudders) Why do you ask?
Quartz: What name?
Map: I won’t say it.
Quartz: Didn’t realize I’d said a name.
Map: Good. Keep it that way.
Quartz: Confound it, woman, talking to you as maddening!
Map: Nobody is forcing you to.
Quartz: Aye, someone is. The scribbler.
Map: (sighs) I suppose there’s no stopping her. To answer your question, this being took on life by feeding on memories I’d once had. The part of me I’d discarded.
Quartz: How does that answer my question?
Map: I may have wanted those things. Power, luxury, and beauty. Once.
Quartz: You’re not sure?
Map: I don’t remember. I’m not sure if I want to. I didn’t do good things with the power I had. Luxury had a price. Beauty, I’m still fond of beauty, but it can be found in many places.
Quartz: Sounds like you were dangerous. Probably still are.
Map: Why do you think I keep to myself? She shudders.) Sometimes I worry about even having a family, but my boys ground me, make me better than I would be if I were completely alone.
Quartz: Except you wouldn’t be completely alone. This lord is still watching you. You and your family.
Map: He’s already reaching out for Leiwell, claiming Leiwell.
Map: Leiwell decided to serve him of his own free will. He goes to this lord every night.
Quartz: (glances out the window) Does this lord live in the ruin? I don’t see much else your boy could go to other than that.
Map: There’s the garden. And the waiting woods. Many things linger there. Doors to leading elsewhere have been known to open in this area.
Quartz: Like being mysterious, don’t you?
Quartz: Right. If you don’t want your Leiwell to serve this creature, why don’t you stop him?
Map: It’s hard to stop Leiwell when it’s his choice. He wants the little luxuries; fine clothing, books which his lord can provide. He wants his brothers to have them. He wants me to have them.
Quartz: You don’t.
Map: Not if Leiwell returns looking like a ghost with his strength sapped away.
Quartz: Tell him that.
Map: You don’t think I’ve tried? He wants to serve his lord. I fear Leiwell loves this creature.
Quartz: Here I thought my Fairest had terrible taste. Why don’t you just move? Or call the lightning down on this lord?
Map: It’s hard doing that to him. He’s got powers of his own. He’s been gathering power from others, including Leiwell. Power by granting people’s wishes like the lord before him.
Quartz: Shards, woman, he’s feeding on your boy. You could try.
Map: You think I haven’t?! Bad things happen when I call the lightning. (She points out the window.) There’s a reason that’s a ruin and mine is the only cottage around.
Quartz: So you’re just going to hide in this cottage and hope this lord goes away? Even if he may be in that very ruin?
Map: The less attention I give him, the weaker he gets.
Quartz: Right. Only others are feeding him, you said. Including your Leiwell.
Map: (scowls) Get out.
Quartz: Right. (He gets up and goes to the door, stops before opening it.) Can’t say I don’t understand your attitude. Hide in a cottage or a mine. Keep your head down, try to cause no trouble, not attracting any trouble. Problem is trouble still finds you. Sooner or later.
He opens the door and leaves, stomping away.
Map just sits at the table, her head bowed.