Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Paul

Quartz stumbles out of the fog, batting away a twig which landed almost directly on his nose. 

Quartz: Ruddy Shadow Forest. Makes me almost miss the Forest of Tears. No matter. Whatever trees loom over me, the twigs are rude. 

Paul: I’m sure the twigs regard you with equal courtesy. As for the trees, they are not part of the Shadow Forest, even if they have a similar nature, due to their shared mercurial creatrix. As you are well aware. 

Quartz starts at the voice, the youth sitting lotus style in the clearing by the river and at the golden dragons crouched on each corner of the temple’s blue roof. 

Quartz: Right. Now there’s ruddy dragons.

Paul: It’s not as if you haven’t made the acquaintance of dragons before. (He takes a sniff of the air without turning to face Quartz.) There’s a trace of brimstone still clinging to you. 

Quartz: Of course there is. (sniffs his own sleeve warily) Can’t say I smell it. What’s your dragons’s story?

For a moment the golden dragons seem to snap playfully at Quartz before settling down upon the roof. 

Paul: You said it yourself. There are mine, a manifestation of part of me. I couldn’t let seductive shadows and doubtful dwarves be the only ones with draconic allies. These may be small, but they’re young and fierce, stirring when I say. 

Quartz: Right. (He gives the dragons on the roof a sharp glance. They don’t respond.)

Paul: Either that or they’re simply part of the achitecture, animated by the strange nature of this Cauldron.

Quartz: So which is it?

Paul: Far be it from me to spoil your fun. I’ll let you decide.

Quartz: Right. And who are you anyway?

Paul: A secondary character. That’s what you do, isn’t it? Talk to secondary characters?

Quartz: Among other things, aye. (He smooths his beard.) Got something to say, do you? 

Paul: I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.

Quartz: Not very pleasant, are you? Coming from me, that’s saying something?

Paul: I’ve lost my more pleasant half. Peter was the one who wanted to please people. Without him, I grow increasingly unpleasant. 

Quartz: That what you want to talk about?

Paul: Among other things. You know the little shadow quite well, don’t you?

Quartz: There’s more than one little shadow running around in our scribbler’s scrambled imagination. You’ll have to more specific. 

Paul: The one who hosts this Cauldron when you’re not doing it. 

Quartz: Aye, Christopher. We’re from different worlds, he and I. Different stories. We meet here from time to time. Not sure if that’s the same as knowing him well. 

Paul: You have talked to him more than once. And he’s talked to you about the people from his world. 

Quartz: Aye, from time to time. 

Paul: What does he want with Peter?

Quartz: Why don’t you ask him yourself?

Paul: I’m asking you. A shadow’s words are as insubstantial as his memories. 

Quartz: (snorts) Got a low opinion of shadows, eh?

Paul: Am I wrong?

Quartz: Want keeps a shadow lingering beneath the trees in that Forest of theirs. From what I’ve seen, it gives them substance.

Paul: Right. (He turns his head to offer Quartz a humorless smile.) And what does Christopher want?

Quartz: From what I’ve heard? (He gives Paul a vicious grin.) Damian. Or the twins. He’s never mentioned Peter.

Paul: Of course not. (A flicker of sadness softens the beautiful mask of his face for a moment.)

Quartz: (his manner a little gentler) Just what do you want to know?

Paul: Shadows lure dreamers off their chosen paths to devour them. 

Quartz: Aye, if they can catch them. Makes me glad I’m just visiting this weird dreamworld of yours. Or a shadow of it. 

Paul: (nodding his head at the irony of this) Peter is one of the most hopeless dreamers I’ve ever met. (His full lips part in contemplation of a vision of something or someone far away.)

Quartz: Huh. Ever think it might be the other way around?

Paul: (dark eyes sharpening as they fix upon his companion) What do you mean?

Quartz: Maybe you’re the hopeless dreamer. 

Paul stares at him for a long moment and begins to laugh. 

Paul: Maybe you’re right. Peter certainly thought I was. 

Quartz: Here’s another thought. Maybe you should be asking what Peter wants with Christopher. Not what Christopher wants with Peter.

Paul: (turning his head back toward the river) I already know. Peter thinks Christopher is the key to his dreams, to opening a Door to the Shadow Forest.

Quartz: A shadow key to a Shadow Forest, eh? 

Paul: (grimacing) That and Peter always had an eye for a pretty face.

Quartz: Not a great beard. No accounting for taste.

Paul: (almost smiles and stops himself) I’m inclined to agree with you even while I disagree with you, dwarf.

Quartz: So your Peter wants Christopher and you’re worried what Christopher is going to do about it. 

Paul: I suppose I am. 

Quartz: What are you going to do about it?

Paul: Put a stop to whatever hold that little shadow has over my Peter.

Quartz: How’re you going to do that?

Paul: The moment Christopher lures Peter across the threshold of a Door, entering the Shadow Forest, I’ll snatch Peter. 

Quartz: Sounds like you’re a shadow yourself. 

Paul doesn’t reply. 

Quartz: Also sounds like you’re jealous as well as worried. 

Paul: (turning his head again toward Quartz with a bitter smile) Many monsters are jealous. Does this surprise you?

Quartz: Can’t say it does. 

He waits, half-anticipating Nimmie Not to pop out and say something. For once his kobold is silent. 

Something about this particular secondary character makes Nimmie Not uneasy. Too uneasy to make his usual claims to Quartz. This does not reassure Quartz.

Christopher and Peter had better be careful. 

Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Prunella

Mountains peek through the mists of the Cauldron along with hints of a blue sky. A dragon coils their pearlescent scales around one of the peaks. 

Only those scales have quite the rosy cast as does the dragon’s snout. 

Quartz perches on a cliff below, breathing in the mountain air. Just smell those rocks. It’s like coming home to a child of the rock. Almost enough to quench the stench of brimstone Prunella the Dragon constantly carried with them. 

Only does Prue faintly smell like roses?

Quartz: (sniffing) Aye, you smell like flowers. (squints up at those rosy scales) You…glowing?

Prunella: (stiffening, rearranging their coils with a prim casualness which starts a small mountain slide) None of your concern, dwarf. 

Quartz doesn’t have to duck the rocks. He plants his feet and somehow every falling stone misses him. He grins up at the dragon.

Quartz: Aye, you are, Prue. Find yourself a fresh maiden, did you? Or was it a knight? Or both?

Prunella: Such salacious comments. (sniffs) Nimmie Not is turning you into quite the gossip.

Quartz: Right. (still grinning) Someone turned you into quite the romantic. 

Prunella: A little romance brings color to our scales as you so crudely put it. Besides we doubt we’ll ever see her again. She’s has her world. We have ours.

Quartz: Worlds, not world. Sound like this might be someone Christopher knows. Sounds like trouble.

Prunella: A little trouble can be quite invigorating in a long existence, Quartz. (They gave Quartz quite the pointed look down their snout.) As you are quite aware.

Quartz: (nose turning red) Aye, well, it was time we started enjoying ourselves a bit. All of Christopher’s conversations were turning…unreal.

Prunella: We are all unreal, dwarf. What makes you think Christopher doesn’t enjoy his surreal state? He is a very different creature from you, Quartz, for all that you’re both two-legged oddities from our perspective. 

Quartz: Thank’ee for your honesty, Prue. Can’t say I see the happiness in always searching for something. Even when Christopher says he is, I don’t believe him. 

Prunella: Force yourself to smile and it can become real. Something else we’d think you’d be familiar with. 

Quartz: Familiarity can drive you mad as well as comfort. He’s hoping a little of the unfamiliar next April will be the latter.

Prunella: A familiar unfamiliarity since the same characters will return for Blogging From AZ April Projects: Characters Origins. Something we’re sure you’ll participate in. 

Quartz: Not here. I’ll be back at the Formerly Forbidden Cauldron at inspirationcauldron.blogspot.com. 

Prunella: Ah, the Formerly Forbidden Cauldron will bubble once again just for this. 

Quartz: Aye. Some witchy type called Questioning from a Work in Progress called A Suitor’s Challenge.

Prunella: Our scribbler does have a lot of Works in Progress.

Quartz: Aye, and they’re neglected too often. Like ours.

Prunella: Unlike us, our scribbler has a very finite amount of time. 

Quartz: And this is our time to remind her that we exist and our stories are waiting for her to finish. 

Prunella: Sounds like you’re looking forward to BloggingFromAZ. 

Quartz: It’s just one post and a lot darker at the Formerly Forbidden Cauldron, but aye.

Prunella: And your theme is Character Origins.

Quartz: Aye. Where did we come from? How did the scribbler dream us up? That sort of thing. 

Prunella: Best of luck in your blogging. (the mists start to thicken around the coils and the mountains)

Quartz: Thank’ee. (he takes another breath) Shards, but I love this spot. Here’s hoping the scribbler brings up back here. 

Prunella: Here’s hoping…

Mists descend upon dragon, dwarf, and mountainside, swallowing all of them. 

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