Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Opal

A dwarf with graying black beard stands over a crystal coffin, gazing at the hazy figure within it. 

It’s another dwarf with his hands folded on his chest as if he were dead. Or sleeping. 

No such luck. Not that Opal means that. Not really. It’s just something about his older brother makes him scowl. 

He shuffles a little closer to the great hunk of namesake Quartz got himself stuck in, scowling all the more. 

Eyes like slate open to fix upon Opal’s. If a mental voice could scowl back, Quartz’s would. 

Quartz: What’re you looking at?

Opal: A ruddy fool. A ruddy fool who got himself right where he’s at with his own fool choices. 

Quartz: Aye, and who’s the fool now? Call me fool for letting human princesses in the door, only to go and do the same. 

Opal: Just one princess, you and I. We just let one in. 

Quartz: Aye, you let in two, but the other was a witch. The same witch who cursed our Fairest. Right. Well done. 

Opal: Fine. (Opal backs off, starts to pace in front of the coffin.) I’m a ruddy fool. You’re a ruddy fools. Lots of fools in this forest. 

Quartz: Maybe that’s why it’s a Forest of Tears. Too many ruddy fools making each other cry. That witch of yours is the greatest fool of the lot. 

Opal: Maybe she is. (He stops, turns to face the coffin.) Maybe she’s trying to do something about being a fool. Maybe that’s why I let her in.

Quartz: What’re you saying? 

Opal: That witch of a queen. Aye, she’s been a wicked ruddy fool, that one. Our Fairest suffered for it. As did you. We all did. 

Quartz: Not convincing reasons for letting her in the door. 

Opal: If she’s right, our Fairest is becoming a wicked, ruddy fool. (He stops, takes a step closer to stare at the crystal.) You saw it. Right before this happened. 

Quartz: Aye. (groans) Too ruddy weak to stop her. 

Opal: Aye. Most of us were worse. We ran. 

Quartz: Aye. 

Opal: Not this time. 

Quartz: What’re you saying?

Dark eyes like slate silvered with sun meet again. Gazing at each other through a barrier of crystal. 

Opal: Another girl is going to get cursed like our Fairest. This time by our Fairest. The witch knows this. She’s trying to stop her. Maybe we can help. (He squints at his brother’s face.) You see, fool?

Quartz: Right. You let that princess and her witch into our cottage for our Fairest’s sake. 

Opal: That’s right. Besides…(He looks up at the sun, lifting a hand to shade his eyes.)

Quartz: Besides? (He stops, allowing Opal to hear the scowl in his voice.) Shards, I sound like Christopher.

Opal: What’re you yammering about?

Quartz: Never mind.

Opal: Finished? I’m trying to say something here. (Opal looks down at the crystal with a glower.) Not even a cursed sleep can shut you up. 

Quartz: Right. As if you could shut me up, little brother. 

Opal: Never you mind. You didn’t see that girl’s eyes, her face. Pure innocent, that one, yet she’s got something. Something like a stone. 

Quartz: (snorts) A human princess. Humans don’t know the meaning of stone. They’d be dead if one hit them before they guessed. 

Opal: Pebble brain, you didn’t see her. This princess looks a lot like the witch. 

Quartz: Right. Again I’m not seeing the stone. 

Opal: That’s just it. She looks like the witch, but there’s something different about her. A hint of courage like flint. 

Quartz: The witch never had that. Part of why she cursed our Fairest. 

Opal: Our Fairest went and cursed another girl. Not sure how much stone she’s got herself. 

Quartz: You try staying firm as rock after being cursed. It’s wearing even me. 

Opal: Exactly. Our Fairest is going to need all the help, all the courage she can find. 

Quartz: You think this girl can help our Fairest? (He snorts, almost as if to dismiss the hint of hope in his own question.) Why would this princess help someone who cursed her?

Opal: Curiosity. A need to save others as well as herself. Maybe even love.

Quartz: Why should this princess love our Fairest?

Opal: You did. We all did. Takes strength to love. Maybe this girl has it. 

Quartz: Putting a lot of faith in this human princess, aren’t you.

Opal: Not a lot. Just enough. You should try it, Quartz.

He raps his knuckles on the crystal surface of the coffin before striding off into the trees. 

Quartz: This is what I get, urging secondary characters to mouth off. Upstart pebble-brained brothers thinking they’re all that. 

A bird chips almost mockingly from one of the trees.

Quartz: Shut up. 


#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday and Sunday, those participating post 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 sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For mine, Duessa isn’t simply going to accept some cheeky tidbit of a boy claiming her precious nephew in Stealing Myself From Shadows, oh no…

 The lady took a few more rustling steps, close enough to reach out the upper most hands to touch Damian’s cheek. 

     “He is still an Ashelocke while I am still the Ashelocke matron.” Another hand touched his neck. “He belongs to me.”

     I was wedged between the two of them, Duessa and Damian. There was something disturbingly symbolic and not entirely unfamilar about this position. 

     “This means you belong to me as well.”

Enjoy my style of writing? Check out my published works!

#QueerBlogWed: A Hint of Spring

On September 28, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a strawberry, a ring of keys, and a spoon.

This freebie story for my Work in Progress On the Other Side of Mask was the result…

A strawberry was bold enough to peek out from the vine, defying the chill which permeated Lord Ruthvyn’s grounds. A tasy treat for a hungry boy. Not nearly as tasty as the boy himself, pressing his hands against the glass, mouth slack with wonder. 

Nathaniel could happily eat him up with a spoon, but such a treat wasn’t for a doll as himself. All of Lord Ruthvyn’s songbirds were for the master. His lordship didn’t share with his staff. No matter how much they came to care for his charges. 

“Is it spring?” Shelley asked, not turning away from the sight. 

“You know it’s never spring in Paradise.” Nathaniel wondered if his own words were true. The eternal chill the pale lords preferred filled the air, but fruit and vegetables still grew in their gardens. The lords needed it to feed their human sheep, working in the factories which smoked their offerings to the Goddess above. 

The set of keys in Nathaniel’s hand jingled. The doll hadn’t realized his hand was trembling. 

The boy fixed his gaze upon the ring. “Do those unlock our cages?”

“This entire estate is a cage.” Why was he saying these things? It wasn’t his place to terrify his lord’s songbird. This was a privelege belonging to Lord Ruthvyn alone. “These open a door to a little room in which a songbird sulks.”

Shelley’s luminous blue-green eyes widened. “Byron?”

Oh, Nathaniel was playing a dangerous game. Olympia will scold him if she caught him. How envious she’d be. “He keeps demanding to see you. He refuses to sing unless he’s at your side. He’s becoming quite tiresome.”

“Allow him to do so.” Shelley dropped his hands, turning the force of his liquid gaze upon Nathaniel. “We sing better together than when we’re apart. His lordship will appreciate our song more. As will you, Nathaniel.”

The doll was oddly touched that his master’s favorite remembered his name. “It’s not for me to decide if you sing together or apart. Nor is it for me to decide when Byron’s punishment ends.”

“You have influence over the one who does. More than Byron or myself.” Oh, this child knew how to flatter his master’s servants. “Please, Nathaniel.”

“Not nearly as much as I’d like.” Why was he telling the truth to this choir urchin whom his lord had plucked from the church like ripe fruit? “I’m a toy made for Lord Ruthvyn’s pleasure. As is Olympia. If we have any influence, it’s of a mercurial nature.”

“Please.” Shelley took his hand in his small fingers. How warm they were. Warm and alive. 

Did this child feel how cold Nathaniel was? He might live to see a hundred Shelleys come and go. Until they disappeared and a new painting, statue, or piece of furniture became part of the residence with what was left of them screaming silently within the inanimate object. 

Nathaniel would never be warm, no matter how many tender young boys held his hand. Neither would his master. 

“Don’t beg for mercy, songbird.” He pulled his hand away from the child’s grip. “It’s beneath you to plead with one of your lord’s toys for favors.”

He turned away, refusing to look back at that vibrant child. He wouldn’t last. None of his lord’s songbirds or other entertainments did. Only Nathaniel and Olympia remained.

It wouldn’t hurt to ask his lord about the two boys singing together. It had been their song which attracted his interest. 

Hearing that song again might bring color to Lord Ruthvyn’s white cheeks. It would only whet his appettie. 

The doll swallowed, not looking at any of the paintings on the walls of the various children, staring back at him. One day Shelley would be one of them. 

Why did that distress him? 

Best not to dwell on that either. 

Conversations with Christopher: King Richard of Dawn and Twilight

The mists clear before Christopher, even though he can smell smoke, faint, drifting from a nearby window. He’s in a room filled with dusty sunlight as well as covered paintings, chests, forgotten treasures which may have been hidden away. 

A man with shoulder-length dusky hair brushing the shoulders of his dark purple vest gazes at a picture held in his hand. He doesn’t look up as Christopher approaches. 

The Man: Does the evil we do return to haunt us? Even if they were honest mistakes?

Christopher thinks of all the times he or Gabrielle failed to say the right thing to Damian, pushing him away. Of how Damian later abandoned both of them for his path in the shadows. Of how he pushed Peter away, frightened of the closeness the other young man craved. How all three of them; Damian, Peter, and himself abandoned Gabrielle after becoming a part of her life. 

Christopher: (with a sad smile) Far too often. 

The Man lifts his head to reveal a face marked by worry and regret more than actual age. 

The Man: I look into her face and see him. How I chose duty and responsibility over him. 

The Man rose to his feet and walked over to the window. He beckons Christopher to join him. 

Looking down reveals that the two of them are in a tower room in a castle. Below is a great bonfire with women cheering, women weeping around it. 

The Man: I’ve just ordered my people to burn every spindle they can find. Many the good wife in the kingdom of Dawn and Twlight may be cursing the name of King Richard right now. Even if she only does so in her heart.

Christopher: Why?

King Richard: Why, indeed? (He smiles a tired smile.) I doubt I accomplished anything other than stop countless women from spinning. 

Christopher: Why are women the ones doing the spinning?

King Richard: Why, indeed? (He moved away from the window to sit back down again.) We have women working in fields, laboring along with the men. Everyone, regardless of gender or a lack thereof harvests fruits, vegetables, and digs for roots. Why should women alone spin?

Christopher: Are you sure they do?

King Richard: (looking up at the ceiling) I tried to spin once. It was only for a few minutes. One of my mother’s servants gave me her spidle. Such a small, light thing, yet the work was anything but light. 

Christopher: What happened?

King Richard: My mother caught me trying to spin. She slapped me. She said princes had better things to do than spin. That princes shouldn’t pry into women’s ways or a servant’s work.  (He snorts.) Consider this. I’m not supposed to pry into women’s ways, yet I’m expected to marry a woman and make her my queen. How can such reasoning not lead to disaster?

Christopher: (keeping his voice very soft) Did it?

King Richard: Yes and no. I’m not without affection for Thea, my lady wife. I know she has her…favorites. It made me feel a little less guilty for having my own. Something happened, however, which brought us closer together. A miracle. 

Christopher: What?

The King looks directly at Christopher for the first time, lips parting in a smile. A radiance peeks out of his smile, his eyes, softening the lines upon his face. 

King Richard: Our daughter. Our little Rose. Do you know what it means to become a father?

Christopher recalls the warmth of Danyel touching his hand, the question in his eye. Feeling Tayel relax a little when Christopher drew close to him. Such fragile lives, lives which would exist if he hadn’t brought them forth. 

Christopher: Yes and no. I do know what it’s like to have a piece of myself develop a mind and heart of his own. To watch that piece live and breathe, becoming a person in his own right, yet feeling like he’s still part of me, a part I yearn to protect. No matter how impossible it is. 

King Richard: (smile growing) Exactly. She may be the princess of Dawn and Twilight. She may be our heir, but she’s also our daughter. She’s a tiny piece of us, Thea and myself, developing into her own person, reaching out with small hands to see what’s there to feel. Looking around for the first time to see what’s waiting for her. (His smile disappears.) Only to see a witch, smiling at her. Right before that witch curses her. 

Christopher can feel the fury gathering in the man before him. He’s felt it himself, toward himself. Every time he hungered to draw close to the twins, to drink deep of their presence. Too deeply. Deep enough to revitalize himself, turning them into shadows or worse. 

King Richard: Do you know what it’s like to know that’s one of the first things your child saw? One of the first things she had to experience was a curse? On what should have been a happy day when she was surrounded by love and devotion? To have such a shadow hang over her, haunting her life, until it drains her life?

Christopher: That’s terrible. 

King Richard: Why? (He gives Christopher his complete attention.) Tell me, beautiful shadow who’s chosen to haunt and comfort me in my moment of anguish. Why would someone do something like this to an innocent baby who’s barely begun to breathe? Because my Rose is a princess? Because she’s mine? Or is it because the one who cursed her is a witch? Does she envy the fresh life and hope breathing out of our baby? As a witch, does she feel compelled to poison it?

Christopher considers the king’s words, flushing a bit at being called beautiful. He recalls Blanche rising from her crystal coffin, the bitter twist of her red mouth. 

Christopher: Perhaps this witch sees something in your daughter she’s lost. Or someone. Perhaps she, too, is haunted by the evil that she’s done or the evil that’s been done to her. Or…

King Richard: Yes?

Christopher: I don’t know. I can only guess what this witch is asked. Only she can tell you why. If she knows herself.

Christopher feels the mist rising around himself. 

King Richard rises himself, rise to his feet, gazing at this mysterious boy disappearing into the mist as if he was a witch himself. 

His last words carry back, lingering into the air.

Christopher: No matter what the witch’s motives are, what truly matters is your daughter. What you, Your Majesty, can do for her. Other than burning spindles. 

The mists swallow Christopher completely, disappearing. 

King Richard gazes at the empty space where he was. 

King Richard: From the mouth of beautiful shadows if not a witch himself. Perhaps what we need to save our daughter is another witch. 

Between his queen and himself, perhaps they’ll be able to find one. 

Wish to read more about King Richard, along with the he and the she who trouble him? Not to mention the witch he and his queen ask to help their cursed daughter? Look for Fairest when it’s released again from Nine Star Press!

In the meantime, here’s some of my other works available from Nine Star Press…

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

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 sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

As for mine, uh oh. Christopher just claimed Damian as his in Stealing Myself From Shadows. Just how is his arachnocratic aunt going to react? (It will take a little longer than six sentences, forgive me.)

Perhaps I shocked him out of his fear. His fingers went utterly still beneath mine. 

     All right, I was a bit shocked myself at my own boldness. Had I just claimed Damian as my own in front of his spiderish aunt?

     Well, he had offered me his hand. 

     “Are you now? How sweet!” The lady widened her smile, yet she narrowed her eyes.  All eight of them. “You do realize it is my nephew and ward. Damian is still an Ashelocke, no matter what he may play at.”

Do you like my style of writing? Check out my published works!

#QueerBlogWed: Wednesday Words

On September 14, 2023, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a shipwreck, a bowl of berries, and a greeting card.

This poem was the result…

There’s an image of a shipwreck

Hidden in the lush colors of the greeting card

The last one had a bowl of berries

Resembling a cup of spilled blood

What sort of a message is she sending?

Turning tragedy into beauty?

Depicting nourishment as life spilled

She’s sent you so many different cards

They’re always offer you a riddle

Challenging you to figure out her state of mind

She hates to say anything directly

Detests the sound of her own complaints

If you’re worth her time, you’ll figure it out

You’ll accept her riddle challenge

A gallant small hero in her cavern of enigmatic gloom

Maybe you’ll meet her riddles with ones of your own

Challenge her to demystify you

Just what are you saying as you answer her?

The snippets of poem you respond with

Quirky little answers to her creepy cards

You’re unsure if it’s a challenge or a romance

You’re more than pals with your pens at stake

You can’t help admiring this shipwreck

Its hues are vibrantly defiant as it lies ruined

Perhaps she feels that she is the same

You want to convince her that she’s not a shipwreck

No matter how melancholy is her turn of mind

You’re more than happy to accept the bowl of berries

Even as you wonder if she’s picturing its juice

Trickling down the corner of your mouth

As if you were a vampire, drinking her art. 

Conversations with Christopher: Oriana

As Christopher walks, green mist rises beneath his feet. Obscuring his way, surrounding him, muttering with many a voice.

Mine, mine, everything, all of her shall be mine. 

Fairest of them all. Cannot let her take over my heart. Cannot let her escape. 

Lose myself in my own reflection. Desire only the woman in the mirror. Make everyone else desire her as well. Perhaps I’ll finally believe in her if I do. 

Christopher has drank deep of shadows, becoming one of them. Many were once part of a person. A vanity or a sorrow which was deliberately dropped on the other side of the Door. He’s heard voices like this before. Private voices meant to be kept to one’s self. Or are they? 

Christopher: Hello?

All of the voices become one woman’s. Strident and angry, raised to conceal her fear. 

Oriana: Who’s there? Come forth. Let me see you.

Christopher finds himself stepping out of the emerald mists to stand between a woman and a mirror. 

The woman resembles Princess Rose. Her golden hair pulled on top of her head, to hang in ringlets around a coronet. A gown as green as the mists he escaped from gathers around her bosom to flare out in long, flowing skirts around her body. 

Her blue eyes are wide, her pink mouth is open. 

Oriana: What manner of creature are you, to manifest from my magic mirror?

Christopher glances back at the glass behind him, surrounded by a silver frame with a pattern of roses and bones. The green mists have retreated beneath its surface. 

Oriana: Speak!

Christopher: (looking back at her) Oriana?

Oriana: How dare you address your queen thus? Or have you forgotten that I’m the Queen of Dawn and Twilight?

Christopher: You don’t remember me?

Oriana: If a slender boy with the beauty of a girl looked back at me with eyes filled with the changing colors of magic, I would remember him. 

Christopher: Err, thank you, Your Majesty? I guess you haven’t met me. I must be meeting an earlier version of you. As I met an earlier version of Princess Blanche.

Oriana: You’ve seen the Princess Blanche? Where is she?

Christopher: She isn’t here at the castle?

Oriana: Not anymore. (She turns so Christopher can no longer see her face.) She ran away. Fleeing from her responsibilities, from everything that she was. (She adds in a much softer tone.) Fleeing from me. 

Christopher: You let her go?

Oriana: Certainly not! (She whirls to glare at the boy before her.) I offered her my heart, but she didn’t want it!

Christopher: Didn’t she?

Oriana: (looking away again) I horrify her. Even though everything I’ve ever done has been for her. 

Christopher: Has it? 

Oriana: No. (Her shoulders slump.) I was told again and again that two women couldn’t be lovers, let alone marry. Especially if one of them was a princess. One day a prince would claim her as his bride. I’d just have to accept it. 

Christopher: Did you?

Oriana: I couldn’t bear it! (She covered her face with her hands.) I’ve done everything I could to charm or seduce everyone who stood between us. 

Christopher: Did that help?

Oriana: (not lifting her hands) It’s been agony. It’s brought out the cruel side of me. 

Christopher: Why?

Oriana: (lowering her hands) Being close to her, yet far away is terrible. Knowing she’s far away, starting a new life is unbearable!

Christopher: Is it really worse?

Oriana: Far worse! I don’t want to share her with anybody! No, there’s no way I’m going to let her run away.

She tore open the lacings of the front of her gown to bare her breast. She plunged her fingers into the fair flesh.

There was no blood. Green smoke poured out of her chest instead as she removed a hard little green apple. 

Oriana: Tasteless truth, become a more appetizing lie. Turn red as the false lips I once kissed. Show luscious, red cheeks. Conceal the green poison she sees as my truth until it bathes her tongue, filling her mouth, her entire body. 

The green apple grows, filling out to become a shiny red apple, begging anyone who saw it to take a bite. Even Christopher with his fleeting interest in food is tempted. 

Oriana: One bite and she’s mine. 

Christopher: Are you sure you want to give that to her?

Oriana: As for you, you are nothing but a shadow, whispering my fears and doubts to me. Begone! 

Christopher finds himself being sucked back into the green mists, out of Oriana’s presence. The emerald hue slowly fades along with him.

His last thought is she was right about him being a shadow, even though he wasn’t sure if she was right about anything else. 

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

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 sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, Duessa will continue to delight in plucking at Christopher’s mingled fear and desire (along with Damian’s irritation at this), but is Christopher about to surprise both of them? (It will take a couple of extra sentences for him to do so, forgive me.) Here’s a little more of Stealing Myself From Shadows…

“Do I frighten you, pretty one?” She withdrew her tongue behind her teeth, which were very sharp at the canines. “It’s a pity we’re meeting in this time and place. I should like very much to devour you.”

     Menacing as her words were, I had the strangest impression they were a compliment and reacted to them as such. 

     “Thank you.” I reached up to clasp Damian’s hands with my own, keeping his fingers locked in a firm grip. “I am, however, spoken for, madam.”

Do you enjoy protagonists like Christopher? Want to meet Phaedra, Mousetrick, Theodora Bear, and others? Check out my published works at…

Or just Phaedra and Mousetrick at…

#QueerBlogWed: Wednesday Words

On September 7, 2023, P.T. Wyant posted a Wednesday Words prompt involving a hospital, an argument, and the words “I’m late! I’m late!”

This poem was the result…

“I’m late! I’m late!”

Every ache in your body screams

Begging you to stop the pain

You’re unsure if a doctor could do anything

You’re worried that you need a hospital

The last place you want to go is there

You long for a baroque church of marble angels

Filled with statues, bearing wistful expression

Art popping out from every alcove, out of every altar

There’s no need to worry if you have faith

The beauty inspires awe, a feeling of reverence

Belief in the artist inspires belief in the subject

The sight of this beauty inspires you to create

Your body argues that it’s too old to kneel

The world is too dangerous to seek out these places

You were lucky to get to step inside so many

You were overwhelmed, with so much art on every side

If only the memory could sustain you now

As you rush to accomplish everything you put off

Only too aware of the pain slowing you down

Pain which will drag you to the hospital 

Forcing you to face everything you’ve fled from

You’re middle-aged, you’re old, you’re so very late

Even so you’ll keep trying to recreate beauty

Even as age and sickness threatens your own

Memories makes you race ahead, trying to outrun them

Trying to outrun them, letting the beauty lose

Allowing to flee in different directions 

As poems, stories, even essays

Telling a tale of yourself in so many fictions

You’ll still have beauty as long as you can write

As long as you can outrace the pain

Transforming mortal woman into many expressions

Taking on many forms beyond infirmity. 

Conversations with Christopher: Blanche

The mists have a greenish gleam as they release Christopher into the clearing, right next to the crystal coffin. 

She lay within, a maiden of deceptive youth with skin white as snow, pale as death, lips blood red. Dressed in a gown of purple laced with crimson ribbons, ebon hair loose, a soft pillow for her head. 

Her sapphire blue eyes opened, fixing themselves upon Christopher. 

His lips form a name, bubbling up from the mists which surrounded him, making up everything surrounding both of them. Blanche. 

A tiny frown crinkles the maiden’s smooth brow, showing what she thinks of that name, even if it was once hers. It wasn’t the name Rose gave her. 

Blanche: You’re not her.

Christopher: No, I’m not.

Blanche: You’re not him either. It doesn’t matter if you kiss me. 

Christopher: No, it doesn’t. Neither of us is truly here. 

Blanche: Yet here we are.

She rises from her coffin, floating in the air. 

Christopher backs away, giving her space. 

Rose petals fly up to surround the resurrected woman, orbiting her in a slow dance. 

Christopher: That’s very pretty. 

Blanche: Glad you like it. It scared my dwarves. 

Christopher: Not all of them.

Blanche: No, not all of them. (Grief darkens her blue eyes, a lonely melancholy.) The one who dared to kiss me dropped dead.

Christopher: Quartz isn’t dead. He’s just sleeping. 

Blanche: He might as well be dead. Such a cursed sleep brings neither rest nor peace. 

Christopher: What does it bring?

Blanche: Power. Clarity. Magic. 

The red petals transform into birds which fly around Blanche, singing sweetly. 

She floats down to the ground and extends a finger. One of the birds alights upon it. 

For a moment she smiles at the bird, her entire expression softening with a tender expression. Right before a wrinkle ripples through her brow, weathering her entire face. She ages right before Christopher’s eyes. 

Blanche: Loneliness. 

The birds turn back into petals, including the one perched on the princess’s finger, falling to the forest floor. 

Christopher: (looking down at the petals) You haven’t met her yet. 

Blanche: Her? (She smiles, a bitter twist of red lips.) I’ve had a big taste of her. It poisoned me. 

Christopher: Not Oriana. A different her. 

Blanche: (eyes turning dreamlike and distant) Like and unlike her. A maiden with hair of gold and eyes of blue very like hers, yet with a far more innocent and honest heart. 

Christopher: A brave heart. One which might surprise you with its boldness.

Blanche: There is much in the world which surprises me. (She turns to look away from Christopher.) The castle I was a princess in has a new royal family. A new princess has just been born. 

A slow smile, sweet, seductive, yet terrible spreads across her red lips, trembling slightly upon them. 

Blanche: Perhaps I should go pay her my respects. The only respects I have to give. 

The former princess spins around in a slow, graceful arc. Green mist rises from the ground, surrounding her, enveloping her. She disappears into an emerald cloud. 

Christopher is left alone in a clearing with the crystal coffin. 

Christopher: Did I just get Rose cursed? Impossible. Fairest was written long before this blog. 

Me: (my disembodied voice coming into the clearing) When in doubt, blame the scribbler. At least there will be a happy ending. 

Which there will be. Look for Fairest’s rebirth at Nine Star Press, a release in novel form. 

In the meantime, Christopher will walk back into the Forest of Tears, into the mists.