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. 


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…

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. 

Conversations with Christopher: Rose

Christopher wanders through a forest, trailing mist after him. Flowers grow from the trees in the shape of red tear drops. 

Christopher: So this is the Forest of Tears. It’s like and unlike the Shadow Forest. 

If he stopped, he might hear the breeze whispering, whispering all his fears, his regrets. 

He doesn’t stop. Not until he comes to a circle of toadstools. 

A cloud of green mist swirls, dwarfing the tiny red caps poking out of the grass. A figure appears within the mists, enclosed within the circle. 

The emerald haze is drawn into the flowing skirts of the girl standing within the circle. She tosses her head, long golden hair swaying around her like a sleeper who has just awakened. 

Christopher: You’ve come back, Your Highness.

Princess Rose opens her blue eyes, gazes at her surroundings. Intelligence and a certain inquisitiveness sparkle within them, taking in the trees, the toadstools, and the boy before her. 

Rose: Perhaps the nature of this place gives me an awareness I shouldn’t have. You’re Christopher, aren’t you? 

Christopher: Yes, to both questions. As I said, you’ve come back. You’re coming back. You and your story. 

Rose closes her eyes for a moment and begins to sing in a sweet, untrained voice:

   Who is the fairest of them all?

     You, me, or her?

     In castle, cottage, or circle small

     What will you endure? 

     Are you fair of face and eye alone?

     Or is your fairness true?

     When under the sleeping curse you lie

     What will you change into?

She opens her eyes, closing her mouth, trembling a little. 

Christopher: (his own voice hushed) Quite a riddle. I can’t say I haven’t experienced elements of that myself in my own way. 

Rose: We have the same scribbler.

Christopher: True. 

Rose: You might say this song is my story, my blurb, but there’s more my story than this. Much more. 

Christopher: Fairest is going to be reborn. 

Rose: Published a third time, yes. Longer than ever and changed, yet hopefully not cursed. 

Christopher: What’s changed?

Rose: Marian and Lord Gerald have greater roles. You’ll see how I won their respect. Lord Gerald’s at least. Marian’s loyalty has always been a bit of a mystery to me. You’ll see my reason for it. 

Christopher: I see. Or maybe I should say we will see?

Rose: You’ll see. You’ll meet a few members of my father’s court. People who were just faces in the last big scene of Fairest will have names, motives for being moved by the moment when I make a stand. 

Christopher: I’m guessing we’d better not say too much about that scene or that stand. 

Rose: No. Not everyone has read previous versions of my story. 

Christopher: How do you feel, reliving Fairest for a third time? 

Rose: A little more confident than I was since I’ve done it before. 

Christopher: Yes, you have, but you’re also breaking new ground. Even if you’re treading the same path. 

Rose: This makes reliving Fairest all the more exciting. Even if winged fears flap in my stomach, cackling in anticipation. 

Christopher: Anticipation of what?

Rose: My fall and failure. 

Christopher: Surely you don’t think you’ll fall? Not after living this story twice already?

Rose: My story has a happy ending, yes. My fears flap and cackle that I haven’t earned that happiness.

Christopher: Why should you fear this?

Rose: Many of my accomplishments as a princess, what I learned in court, and how to handle people were summarized in the first two versions of Fairest. As was getting Marian and Lord Gerald, my two greatest allies on my side. 

Christopher: And this time?

Rose: This time I have to achieve those things. Learn from and earn those moments. This time the court members I’m helping are people with names. This time I have to earn Marian, Lord Gerald, and my father’s trust. 

Christopher: You worry that you won’t?

Rose: I worry that I’m weak. My fears whisper that I am. They whisper that I’m too much of a dreamer, lost in my own imagination to understand other people’s hearts. Too weak to assume my father’s throne or even lay claim to it. Too weak to be worthy of the woman I love.

Christopher: You’re not. This story, the fact that it has the happy ending it does proves you’re not. 

Rose: (lifting a hand to catch a tear sliding down from one eye) Thank you. My Briar’s fears are far worse than mine. I just hope I can quiet them. I want to be worthy of her, worthy of everyone. Worthy of the ending Fairest has. 

Christopher: Your story gives readers hope. It was the hope of our scribbler as well, the hope that there was a place in the world for her stories and you. That your love could be spoken of openly, boldly, winning many a heart. 

Rose: (smiling a little) I hope so.

Christopher: Your story will be available at Nine Star Press, will it not? They’re the ones publishing it again. 

Rose: Yes, they are. Here’s a link to our scribbler’s other tales available at Nine Star Press…

J is for Juno

Stealing Myself From Shadows, what a quaint idea, tee hee! If only the shadows were that generous! I’m not sure how much I trust The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, precious tidbits that they are. Really, what are you doing? Offering A Godling for Your Thoughts? Have godlings become so cheap? When I was a goddess, you wouldn’t have trifled with us so, oh no! Still I suppose one of those little coins could become My Tool, My Treasure if he restored my power. The problem is my husband would regain his as well. We don’t want that, oh, no. I’ll have to catch him and his naughty schemes in a Web of Inspiration he cannot wiggle free from, tee hee! Only when that happens will My Cusps Overfloweth

D is for Damian

Who am I? If we’re in the Navel, I’m whomever you wish me to be. Oops, that’s only if you think we’re in the Navel. We may actually be in the Shadow Forest. You got me. In the Navel I was someone I wished I wasn’t. In the Gardens of Arachne. I was always someone someone else wished I wasn’t. Enjoy me while I last Beyond the Door. I’m always Stealing Myself From Shadows, every chance I get, even when they think they’re stealing me. I’m friend and foe in equal measure to The Hand and the Eye of the Tower, depending on what choices they make. I’ll give you A Godling for Your Thoughts? if you ask you for it, but what will I take in return? Only with Christopher am I myself, but he’s still My Tool, My Treasure even if he redefines himself. Especially if he redefines himself. We’re both caught in a Web of Inspiration yet we’re learning to pluck its strands to yield results. My Cusps Overfloweth with potential for all I may give my potential to someone else. I’ll offer anyone a glimpse of the truth who dares to look. No one strays from the path in the Shadow Forest and stays the same. No one wants to. Besides I must maintain a little mystery as I go my merry way. We’ll see soon enough what I’m up to. 

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Dyvian, Danyel, and Tayel

Dwarves caught in cursed crystal still dream. Especially when they’re not dead. Especially when they’ve got something to say. 

Secondary Characters Speak Out has always been about other characters having something to say. Especially when their scribbler treats them as secondary as far as Quartz is concerned. 

Why was he dreaming of these three? They weren’t secondary characters. Especially not the two tiny, slight boys with shaggy golden hair, distinguised only to be their blue and green silk vests over their white tunic, gray trousers, and boots. 

That and one of them had glittering silver triangles in the violet-blue irises of his eyes. 

Tayel turns to look at Quartz, fixing those glittering eyes upon him. 

Tayel: Other worlds are trickling dreams and curses in. 

Danyel: Don’t they always? (He’s the boy without the triangles, but there’s a faint green glow emitting from his small fingers, one of which is pointed at the elegant white-haired man in front of him.) What I’m wondering is why we’re here with you. 

Dyvian: You share a letter with me. You cannot escape me, my little beauty, even though your beloved twin can leave if he wishes. 

Tayel: Letters and patterns may block my way. Still I remain.

Danyel: (grabbing Tayel with his other hand) You won’t separate us, no matter what you scheme. 

Quartz: (clearing his throat) Hmph. 

Dyvian: (not paying attention, his icy prismatic gaze fixed upon the twins) Ah, but I will. How else will you begin your stories? You cannot escape from your Once Upon a Time. Either of you. 

Quartz: Right. 

Tayel: Our stories begin as one as did we.

Quartz: Now I know you’re ignoring me. 

Danyel: Tayel’s right. Why should we separate? We’ve always been together. Right from the beginning. 

Quartz: Is anyone listening to me?

Dyvian: You were one before you came into being. You may yet become one again yet you have to find out whom you are as two. Your paths are destined to go in different directions. Just as you have different letters beginning your names. 


Everyone is quiet and looks at him. Danyel blinks as if he’s just realized Quartz is here. Dyvian and Tayel raise their noses with an identical offended air. 

Quartz: Right. I’d wonder who’s whose twin with that air. Just as I’m wondering what I’m doing here.

Danyel: I don’t know. What are you doing here?

Quartz: It’s time for Secondary Characters Speak Out. My blog! What are you all doing here? None of you are secondary characters. 

Danyel: Yes, I am. In Stealing Myself From Shadows. That’s Christopher’s story. Not mine. Not Tayel’s. 

Tayel: As lights which trail a shadow do we Christopher. Not that I intend to leave Danyel. Not for any scribbler nor blog. 

Quartz: Right. And what’s your excuse?

Dyvian: Why, we were simply settling ourselves in for Blogging From AZ April Project: Characters Blurbs. Once more we’re together, bound by letters, even if Tayel no longer belongs. 

Tayel: Belonging is far more than a letter and a fragile bond is easily broken. 

Dyvian: I’m quite secondary in Stealing Myself From Shadows. Why I’m less than a shadow. More of a memory ghost. 

Danyel: That doesn’t make you any less manipulative. You’re not taking Tayel from me. 

Dyvian: You sound very sure of that. 

Quartz: Enough! All right, I think I understand. You’re arguing for or against being together in the same blog next month. During Blogging From AZ.

Dyvian: Correct. We shall be together at

Danyel: Not that there won’t be Blogging From AZ April Project: Character Blurbs here. Christopher will be here. 

Quartz: Yes, he will, although I’ll be at Some strange sorcerous type named Questioning will be here. 

Danyel: Why is there a second Cauldron?

Quartz: Blame the scribbler.

Dyvian: Once upon a time our scribbler was told by her publisher she needed a blog. She set up this one. The Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration at

Quartz: Didn’t work for the publisher. They were in on blogger. To be able to share her blogs with them, the scribbler created a Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration at

Danyel: I remember being there. She tried to keep up both blogs, didn’t she?

Quartz: Yes, she did, but it was a lot for readers. Turned out being a lot for the scribbler, too. Once the formatting got hard, she moved over completely to the Cauldron at

Tayel: Once a year she returns and we return. During the Blogging From AZ April Project. We go back to

Quartz: Not everyone. Those of us who’ve always been there.

Danyel: I remember! We’ve Blogged From AZ at

Tayel: We’ve been silenced. Leiwell was blocked for his abusive and dangerous words. 

Danyel: Leiwell isn’t abusive!

Dyvian: He most certainly isn’t. Just who dared to accuse my Leiwell of such things?

Quartz: No one knows. Not sure why Facebook blocked that Cauldron. It may be just the scribbler was sharing too much from two blogs every day. 

Danyel: (shivers) Scary. 

Quartz: Aye, it is. Hard to avoid doing again. Especially if no one says what the abuse was. 

Dyvian says nothing but his shadow looms, becoming colder, more ominous. 

Quartz: Enough of that. Happened years ago. What about now?

Danyel: What about now?

Quartz: If you don’t want to be together, why are you here?

Danyel: (looking sheepish) Well, our scribbler started writing and we started talking…

Dyvian: (folding his arms with dignity) I fear these children forgot we were supposed to express ourselves in blurbs. They made me forget myself as well. 

Quartz: Right. You started arguing. Your blurbs became one angry dialogue. 

Everyone looks a little sheepish at his words.

Quartz: (looking in my direction) And just why did you drag me into this, scribbler? 

Me: Well, I’ve had a lot to write and a lot to catch up on what with the emergency change of computers. I started writing, realizing it was dialogue, not blurbing, and I didn’t want to waste my work-

Quartz: Right. So you wrote me into this mess. Made it my Secondary Characters Speak Out

Me: Er, yes. 

Quartz: Right. I’ll let you off, scribbler. I know you’ve had a lot to cope with of late. 

Me: (breathing a sigh of relief) Thank you.

Quartz: And you all. (glancing at the readers) Conversations with Christopher, Secondary Characters Speak Out, and everything else will taking a rest for Blogging From AZ. 

Danyel: (waving) Christopher will be here, though, at C is for Christopher! Look for Damian, Peter, Melyssa, ‘Lyssa, Gabrielle, Hebe, Juno, Una, and Vanessa as well!

Tayel: Some of us will blurb forth in the bubbles of the Cauldron at Such as the three of us. Such as Map, Leiwell, Jupitre, Oleander, Quartz, Seraphix, and Thomas. (He wrinkles his nose.)

Dyvian: Not to mention other characters from other tales. Finished and unfinished. 

Danyel: See you all there?

Quartz: Right. That’s enough. I’m going to back to my cursed sleep. You work me too hard, scribbler.

Me: I thought I didn’t give you enough attention.

Quartz: That, too. 

Conversations with Christopher: Meggie Part 2

The woman in the cloak and the youth in black stroll along a cobblestone path which is both familiar and unfamilar to her. 

Christopher: What did you mean by saying this was the right place to wish? 

Meggie: I mentioned Mel, didn’t I?

Christopher: Yes, you did. You said she was living with Jupitre and Juno. 

Meggie: She’s their daughter. At least they told her she was. 

Christopher: What? (He stops, stares at her.)

Meggie: (pausing as well) I know, right? She doesn’t believe it either. 

Christopher: What does she believe?

Meggie: She believes my sister and I were once her sisters. At the same temple. We were Sisters of Seraphix until we died. A wish brought us back.

The air gets a little colder. Christopher hugs himself, staring at something far away.

Meggie: Are you all right?

Christopher: I’m never sure. (He does his best to smile, to make a joke of the statement, but it’s fragile twist of lips, unable to hold the expression.) Sisters of Seraphix?

Meggie: Uh huh. I think she’s right. Sometimes I get flashes of memory of a place, a temple. Of living there with other women. Of the life we lived. 

Christopher: Yes. I’ve done that. 

Meggie: Remembered living in a temple? 

Christopher: I’m not sure. I’ve gotten memory flashes. Some I’ve held onto. Some slipped away. 

Meggie: Looks like one came back. I’ve seen Mel go still like that. Right before she remembers something. 

Christopher: I’ve heard the same Seraphix before.

Meggie: Uh huh. Once upon a time They were the God of Balance.

The slight youth shivers again at the words “Once upon a time”. Mel can’t really blame him. To her, it’s just the beginning of a story, but to some, it’s the mouth of a hungry deity who swallows everyone’s story. 

Christopher: Seraphix isn’t the God of Balance any more?

Meggie: (squirming) Look, what I remember, which isn’t very much, was Seraphix was a god people suffering from some sort of imbalance often sought out to, well, realign themselves. Get themselves sorted out so they weren’t giving up too much of themselves to their communities. Or taking so much they were a menace to others. 

Christopher: Seraphix was a god for those who couldn’t fit in?

Meggie: Yes and no. More for people who weren’t quite happy with how they were living their lives and wanted to change. Seraphix only accepted willing worshippers. That’s still true. 

Christopher: What changed?

Meggie: Mel remembers being part of a sisterhood. Everyone at the Temple of Seraphix was female. That’s a little imbalanced, isn’t it?

Christopher: I’m not sure. You said Seraphix attracted those trying to sort themselves out. Maybe your temple needed an all-female clergy to do so. 

Meggie: Well, anyone can be a Follower of Seraphix now if you believe in them. Believe They’re a God and Seraphix will grant your heart’s desire. 

Christopher: Seraphix sounds a lot like the Shadow Forest. Or a path leading through it. 

Meggie: They do, don’t they? What this has to do with balance, I don’t know. Neither does Mel. Nor does Aggie. 

Christopher: You’re not Followers of Seraphix, I take it?

Meggie: Oh, yes, we all are. (She reaches to pull a coin attached to a cord around her neck, a silver coin. There are scratches which might have been a hint of a face or scattered bones.) The Voice of Seraphix called to us all, bringing us back from the shadows and dust. We’re alive again because of the wishes of those believed in Seraphix. 

Christopher: The ones who bring us back have a powerful hold over us. It’s hard not to listen when they call. Even if we have doubts about what they’re saying. (He shivers.)

Meggie: Exactly! I’m a Follower of Seraphix, but I have doubts. Doubts are dangerous. Doubts can weaken a godling. 

Christopher: (looking away) Seraphix is your godling. 

Meggie: They always have been. If They’ve changed, well, should I hold this against Them? I’ve changed, too. Even if I still eat too many custard tarts. (She looks a little guilty.) At least I no longer have to be ashamed of that. 

Christopher: Why?

Meggie: Well, one of the things I remember from the temple is sneaking tarts, far more than my share. We were supposed to share them with the community. I wouldn’t take them if they were in short supply, but if there was a festival, I could eat as many as twenty. (She looks abashed.) I don’t think anyone would miss them, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Overeating like that was considered imbalanced, taking too much from others. Now it doesn’t matter. Not that I’ve been able to eat as much after the Voice called me. Guess it’s a side effect of being lost on the other side of the Door. 

Christopher: I only manage a few bites of anything. At most. 

Meggie: No wonder you’re so slender. I can still eat custard tarts, but only one. I’ve never been slender, never particularly wanted to be. I wonder if I will?

Christopher: I don’t know, Meggie. No one I’ve met like us has been able to eat much. 

Meggie: At the same time, I crave company like never before. Along with stories, poetry, any kind of books. I feel much better after being with someone or a good read. And sex! I’m almost insatiable! Another good thing about Gryluxx is he can keep up with me. 

Christopher: Ah, that’s good. (blushing)

Meggie: You know for a shadow, you’re rather innocent. 

Christopher: (a wistful smile playing about his lips) So I’ve been told. I hope that’s a good thing. 

Meggie: Well, a hope is close to a wish. Again you’re in the right place for such things. Seraphix may well hear your wish and help you if you believe in Them. 

Christopher: (his smile twitches as if at some joke he hasn’t decided to share) Perhaps They will. 

Meggie wonders what the joke is. Maybe she’s better off not knowing. She doesn’t always like other people’s private jokes. 

It’s not like she doesn’t have plenty of her own. 

Conversations with Christopher: Meggie Part 1

A row of cottages and shops line a cobbestone street, the tips of their roofs daring to touch each other’s, teasing with their curled corners. 

All but the tailor’s shop and home. It squats proudly at the end of the street, the golden gargoyle serving as a knocker leering at anyone who might dare approach the dark green door, let alone enter the wizard, err, tailor’s residence. 

Except the door is opening from the inside. Someone is leaving, not entering. 

A round, rosy-face woman whose untidy russet curls are escaping from under her hood steps outside, tucking her burgundy cloak closer around her. She glances back at the gargoyle for a moment. 

Meggie: (also known as Megan, for that’s whom the woman is) Hullo, Jane. Is it me or are there shops here which aren’t normally?

Jane: (the gargoyle knocker) What is normal? Certainly not naming a gargoyle knocker and talking to it. How should I know what is normal for Omphalos?

Meggie: (considering this) That’s fair. You make a fair point.

Jane: I’m not making anything. I’m not even talking. I’m a knocker. This is all in your head. Quit talking to yourself and find some actual company to have a conversation with. Now. 

Meggie: I’m not sure if anyone else is here, but I’ll try. 

Jane: I’m not anyone, you silly girl!

Meggie ignores the insult. It’s fairly light after all. She’s heard far worse. She starts walking up the street, glancing from side to side. 

She stops at a shop she doesn’t remember seeing before. One with a painted sign of a woman’s stomach and belly button swinging over the door. A chicken statue bares its beak from the window while a skull grins at his side. 

Meggie: Huh, I’m fairly sure I would have recalled this place.

The door opens, revealing a slender youth with coppery-golden hair cropped to curl around his ears, cupping his heart-shaped face. Huge eyes filled with violet, purple, blue, green, red, and gray swimming around like light reflected on water gaze back at her. A faint shimmer of mist clings to his dark gray boots, the black velvet clinging to his legs and chest. 

Meggie: Huh, aren’t you pretty? What’s your name?

Christopher: (for it is he, gazing at her, trying to get his bearings) I think I’m still Christopher. For now. 

Meggie: Planning on changing into someone else?

Christopher: Not planning, no.

Meggie: Huh. If that’s so, I’ll call you Christopher. I’m Meggie, by the way. We are in Omphalos, aren’t we?

Christopher: (looking around) I think so. This looks like it might be the Omphalos I’m from. Not one of the others. 

Meggie: Huh. Guess my Omphalos is one of the others. Except my husband’s shop is here. How did that happen? 

Christopher: I’m not sure. Omphalos is a place where things come and go, depending on whom experiences it. Other versions of Omphalos have come to the one I lived in, even if it’s just to trickle in, bit by bit. A house here. A ruin there.

Meggie: Yes, that explains a lot. 

Christopher: This doesn’t surprise you.

Meggie: Well, I’m slow. At least most people think so. Being slow means I don’t rush to figure things out. I take my time. Surprises don’t pop up as suddenly on me as they do on people who are faster. 

Christopher: That’s an interesting interpretation of slow. One which makes me suspect you’re not slow at all. 

Meggie: Hrm, my husband doesn’t suspect anything. (A smile creeps over her face.) He knows I’m slow. 

Christopher: Your husband?

Meggie: Gryluxx. Sometimes he’s a man. Sometimes he’s a raven, but he’s never particularly pleasant. Not if he can help it. 

Christopher: I’ve noticed. I’ve met your husband in both forms. He tried to command me, bind me against my will. 

Meggie: He does that. He’ll grab and take anything he wants. Even if what he wants objects.

Christopher: I wonder that you married him. 

Meggie: I didn’t object. Not that he gave me time to. Some people might hate this, but I found it…exciting. (Her smile turns sly.) Even alluring. 

Christopher: He’s fortunate to have you. Many wouldn’t find that alluring at all. Including me. 

Meggie: (nods) That’s what my sister says. She thinks Gryluxx forced me to marry him. 

Christopher: Did he?

Meggie: He didn’t give me time to object. I found his lusty impatience…invigorating. (Her smile turned into a grin.) It made me want…need…to meet him halfway. And I did. Again and again. 

Christopher: (flushing) Um, yes. 

Meggie: Guess I’m making you uncomfortable. Talking like this makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Aggie and I love to, but she doesn’t like Gryluxx.

Christopher: Aggie? Is that your sister?

Meggie: (nods) Angharad. She lives in my Omphalos. (She looks down the street.) I don’t see her cottage here. That’s distressing. 

Christopher: You’ll probably go back to your own Omphalos when you’re done talking to me. That’s how it works in the Cauldron. 

Meggie: Oh. We’re in a Cauldron? Are we about to be cooked?

Christopher: In our scribbler’s imagination. 

Meggie: (giggles) That’s funny, but it makes a strange sort of sense. Aggie would laugh, too, but Gryluxx wouldn’t. 

Christopher: From what I’ve seen of him, probably not. 

Meggie: Anyway in my Omphalos, our Omphalos, Aggie comes to visit a lot. These visits are nicer when my husband isn’t there. He and Aggie always fight. Usually about how abusive my husband is. 

Christopher: Towards you?

Meggie: Towards everyone, me included. He’s got a nasty habit of poking at everyone’s sore spots. 

Christopher: You don’t mind?

Meggie: Sometimes I enjoy being poked. Especially by him. (She giggles when he blushes again.) You’re really pretty when you blush. You remind me of Leiwell and the twins. Not to mention Mel.

Christopher: You know Leiwell and the twins?

Meggie: They live in the Old Cottage in my Omphalos. Come to think of it, the Old Cottage is right about where this shop is. What is this place?

Christopher: The Navel. The center of all things bizarre. It’s my mother’s shop. 

Meggie: That’s interesting. Too bad the Navel isn’t in our Omphalos, but I’d miss the Old Cottage if it wasn’t there. 

Christopher: So would I. 

Meggie: Huh, that’s right. You speak as if you know Leiwell and the twins. Not the Old Cottage. 

Christopher: We’ve met on the other side of the door. 

Meggie: You’re a shadow? (She backs up a step.)

Christopher: Yes and no. I was trying to live a life a little more real in my Omphalos. I knew Leiwell and the twins before they came to theirs. 

Meggie: Amazing. I can remember very little of my life before I came to my Omphalos. Mel remembers much more. 

Christopher: (frowning) Mel?

Meggie: She lives in my Omphalos, too. With Juno and Jupitre. 

Christopher: And Hebe?

Meggie: Who’s Hebe?

Christopher: I see. (He lays a hand against his heart.) That’s different here. 

Meggie: She has a little brother, too. Thomas. He may be even more unpleasant than Gryluxx. 

Christopher: That’s a frightening thought. 

Meggie: Yes, it is. There are lots of things about my Omphalos which are frightening. I try not to worry about them. 

Christopher: I wish I didn’t worry about them so much. 

Meggie: Well, you’re in the right place to wish if you’re Omphalos is anything like mine.

(To be continued next Monday…) 

Conversations with Christopher: Gryluxx

Shadows writhe in the dim light, stretching from the trees which strain, reaching out. You can hear them whisper. Whispering temptations to lure you off the path illuminating your way through the forest. 

One of the shadows breaks off, flutters down to the path. It’s a bird, a raven. Strutting prouding across the tiny pebbles as if he owns them. 

The raven spreads his wings, growing larger, larger, until he dissolves into a cloud of feathers. Only a man is left behind, a man dressed in black robes, He crouches upon the ground as if he’s bowing. Bowing and waiting. 

The air shimmers in front of the man. Christopher steps out of a the shimmer, a dreamy-eyed youth dressed in a black tunic, matching trousers, and boots. A stone shimmers around his neck, matching the colors mingling in his eyes. 

Christopher: (blinking at the man before him) I’ve met you before. You were Paul, Peter’s Paul. Or a part of him.

The man puffs out his chest. Around his neck is a half-silver, half gold disc with a demonic face leering out of the lines engraved upon it. 

Gryluxx:  I am Peter’s no longer. Nor do I care to have any part of that fool Paul. I am Gryluxx the Great, Gryluxx the Wise, Gryluxx the Keeper of Secrets. Including those of Seraphix! I am… are you even wearing clothes? 

Christopher looks down at himself. For a moment he’s completely naked. 

Christopher: Sorry about that. 

He closes his eyes. The tunic and trousers reappear. 

Gryluxx: (rolling his eyes) Surely a godling like yourself can do better than that!

Christopher: My godhood has always been debatable. 

Gryluxx: It’s not just debatable. It’s non-existent. You’re a shadow, a sprite, a demon whom a group of greedy fools decided to make their god. You don’t need followers. You need a master. 

Christoper: Do I?

Gryluxx: Exactly! I’m a powerful wizard! I also happen to be a good tailor. You’re in need of both.  To guide you, instruct you, and clothe you. 

Christopher: Is that so?

Gryluxx: Don’t take that tone with me, little shadow. You took on the role of not only Happily Ever After, but Seraphix, God of Balance. That’s too much for slender shoulders which could fade away at any moment. 

Christopher: I didn’t know Seraphix was the God of Balance. 

Gryluxx: See? What were thinking, playing the part of a god you knew nothing about?

Christopher: (rubbing his eyes) I wasn’t playing. I was in a temple. I was caught by Dyvian. He hailed me as Seraphix. As did a lot of other people. 

Gryluxx: Not me.

Christopher: (blinks) No, not you. You and Damian were accused of being unbelievers. Or was it you and Leiwell? It’s like a dream I can barely remember. 

Gryluxx: It’s part of the scribbler’s story she’s written. Your story. 

Christoper: Are we giving away a spoiler? 

Gryluxx: Given how strange our story is, I don’t see how we can spoil anything. (shakes his head) You were carrying a rock which you planned to hatch, like an egg! 

Christopher lifted the stone hanging from his neck and studies it, raising an eyebrow. 

Gryluxx: Not that rock. You claimed Leiwell’s brothers would be born from it. 

Christopher: (frowns) Danyel and Tayel…yes. 

Gryluxx: The mythic shenanigans you godlings get up to in the shadows! Carrying babies in your thigh, inside a stone, it’s beyond bizarre. 

Christopher: I thought how children were born in many worlds was a bit strange.

Gryluxx: Bah! You’re talking nonsense. There’s nothing strange about birth. The only strange thing is that too often women are the ones that give birth and women are plain weird.

Christopher: You think so?

Gryluxx: I know so! They’re always smiling at you in a vacant way, pretending they’re not talking to people who don’t exist.  

Christopher: (blinks) Really? I haven’t noticed that. (considers) Well, maybe our scribbler does.

(I look up from my keyboard, feeling a bit miffed.)

Gryluxx: Not her! I’m talking about my wife! (He turns his glower on Christopher.) Why am I talking about my wife?

Christopher: (bemused) I don’t know. Why?

Gryluxx: You’re a lot like her, you know?  (gives Christopher another fierce glower) Look at the way we’ve wandered off topic. You need a master, little shadow. All you do is wander around. And here you are with yet another stone. 

Christopher: Yes. (He strokes the pendant. Blue, green, purple, and pink glow faintly.) I can see Danyel and Tayel running through the garden. Damian sitting there painting. (He withdraws his fingers.) They’re gone. I guess it’s only when I touch it. 

Gryluxx: Like and unlike the stone you carried before. It may have traces of the twins and Damian within it. Maybe other people as well. Your own former selves. (A greedy glint enters his eyes.) Give it to me. I’ll make proper use of it. 

Gryluxx makes a snatch for the pendant, trying to tear it from Christopher’s neck. 

Christopher steps back, putting a protective hand over the stone. 

Christopher: It was a gift for me. I’m sure of that, even if I’m not sure how I came by it. 

Gryluxx: Let me have it. Let me touch it. I’ll find out. I’ll find out all its secrets. 

Christopher: (backing up another step) Just what are you up to? Why are you so interested in this pendant? 

Gryluxx: It’s connected to people close to you. It’s connected to you, little shadow, the demon who plays godling. That makes it interesting, even if you’re not a god. You’re meant to be controlled. Your possessions are meant to be controlled. 

Christopher: You think you’re the one to do it?

Gryluxx: Paul is a fool. Peter is too intoxicated with passion to wield you properly. Gabrielle is too bound by her own rules. Dyvian is a slave to his obsession, no longer how lordly he pretends to be. Jupitre and Juno are feeble ghosts of what they once were. The other Followers of Seraphix are too weak to count, even that spawn of Duessa’s. 

Christopher: And Duessa herself? What about Damian? You can’t accuse them of being weak. 

Gryluxx: A couple of spiders, spinning their webs. I’m a bird as is Peter. Spiders are our prey, no matter how much he might play the gallant fly. 

Christopher: Is that what you think Peter is doing? Playing?

Gryluxx: Oh, he’s always playing. That’s why he got attached to you.

Christopher: And you. 

Gryluxx: I’m no longer bound by Paul’s heart, even if I stole a feather from his wings. (lifting his chin) I hav my own goals.

Christopher: And what might they be?

Gryluxx: That’s for me to know, little shadow. (He wags a finger reprovingly at Christopher.) Dreamy-eyed demons shouldn’t question their masters.

Christopher: You’re not my master.

Gryluxx: Oh, yes, I am! I’m binding you. You obey me now!

He steps forward, waggling his fingers in a menacing way. There’s a puff of pink smoke around his head. 

Gryluxx: (coughing, waving it away) Bleah! Wrong color! Any way you’re mine! Kneel before me!

Christopher just looks at him, looking like he’s caught between amusement and annoyance. 

Gryluxx: Why aren’t you kneeling?

Christopher: I don’t wish to. I’m not yours, Gryluxx. If you ask something of me, I might do it, but trying to bind me and force me to obey you is just rude.

Gryluxx: It. is. not. rude! (chest puffs up in outrage) This is how wizards have bound demons for ages!

Christopher: Maybe I’m not a demon. 

Gryluxx: Oh, yes, you are! (He stabs a finger at Christopher.)

Christopher: Maybe you’re not a wizard.

Gryluxx: How dare you! I told you, I’m a great and powerful wizard!

Christopher: Maybe the spell just doesn’t work on me. (He starts to fade.)

Gryluxx: Wait, where are you going? (He brandishes his medallion.) I’m a Follower of Seraphix! If you’re truly the god Seraphix, you have to do what I wish or I won’t believe in you!

Christopher: (right before vanishing completely) I didn’t think you did.

Gryluxx: Oh, I see. This is a test of faith, isn’t it? You’re testing me. You’re punishing me for not believing in you. Well, you won’t get away with this, godling!  I’ll find you! I’ll catch you! If not you, I’ll get your so-called Eyes and Hand! Not to mention your Voice!

Nobody in the Forest answers. The path remains empty. 

Gryluxx: Maybe I believe in you a little. Come on, that has to count for something if you’re a godling. Right? Come back. Talk to me. I’ll even let you fondle my medallion. Come on, don’t be so uptight! Forgive your wayward follower and return to me. Please?

Nothing but the faint snicker of the shadows whispering in the breeze answers.