Once again, Christopher sits facing a far more disgruntled dwarf than the one who hummed and stroked his beard last week, even though it’s still Quartz.
Christopher: I’m guessing that before Camp NaNoWriMo ended, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins took a turn for the worse.
Quartz: Maddening, it’s ruddy maddening, trying to figure it out. Like sensing the song of a crystal, feeling that quiet energy flow, only to hit a snag, a jarring note. To feel with every instinct there’s a way to move past the snag, only without a clear thought on how to move!
Christopher: Is that where the scribbler left you when Camp ended?
Quartz: She never officially went Camping, although she tried to in her way. No, neither she nor I can blame Camp-or the lack of it-for our current situation.
Christopher: Who do you blame?
Quartz: I’d love to lay it all on that Oriana. Not doubt she’s the wellspring of much of my Fairest’s misery. Got a bad feeling, though. Oriana may not be our only problem.
Christopher: You think Nimmie Not is one of them.
Quartz: Why wouldn’t he be? Always disappearing into a yellow cloud, that one. Fairest’s evil queen, her power materializes as green smoke. Coincidence? Doubt either of us are that lucky.
Christopher: You think there’s a connection between Oriana and Nimmie Not.
Quartz: Smoke and mirrors all mixed with magic, sounds like his kind of mischief. Only that kobold despises humans. He’d never help one of them, unless…
Quartz: Unless he wasn’t helping her. He might pretend he was helping…or serving her…only to do her a mischief. She’s a human queen, after all, like the one that toyed with his kinsman…shards. He may have been messing with her. And if that Oriana was a Person of Interest in that ruddy magic book of his, well, he’d take an interest, human or not. (He swallows, gripping his knees with unsteady hands.)
Christopher: You look upset.
Quartz: Shouldn’t be. Shouldn’t be surprised either. Kobolds are trouble. Always knew that. He’s just being true to his nature, that’s all. I’m the daft dwarf who let my head be turned by all his pretty talk about being a Person of Interest. Not to mention all that nonsense about being his bride. Sheer folly, all of it.
Christopher: Maybe not. Just because he was playing games with Oriana doesn’t mean he’s playing games with you.
Quartz: Right. He’s always playing games. It’s part of what he is, as much as the thoughts and feelings you’ve absorbed are part of you whether they’re truly yours or not.
Quartz: Misery loves company, lad. Never mind me. I’m just…
Quartz: Aye. The more fool me.
Christopher: We’re all fools sometimes, Quartz. We don’t have stay that way.
Quartz: Aye, we don’t. Which is why I have to figure this out, this whatever that’s bothering me. For my sake and Fairest’s.
Christopher: Good luck with that…again.
Quartz: Right, once again I need it, don’t I? Here’s hoping I don’t use all my good luck up…