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.”

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#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.”

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#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. 

#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. 

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or 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 different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

Damian’s aunt pick up where I so rudely interrupted her for #BloggingFromAZAprilProject: Character Blurbs (and she’s not amused, gulp!) in Stealing Myself From Shadows

 “Duessa Ashelocke, guardian of the Gardens of Arachne.” She fixed a pair of bright, slitted golden eyes upon me, hungry as a serpent’s. The worst were the last. They were blood-red, the exact hue of her lips. 

     “Yes, this is my aunt.” Damian took a step closer. “Duessa, stop it. You’re frightening Christopher.”

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#WednesdayWords: Paula’s Prompts

On August 31, 2022, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving a puppy, a paper bag, and a bed.

This poem was the result…

A puppy tears apart a paper bag

You watch her roll around in the remains

With an energy you dimly recall

Vaguely invigorated, twitching a foot

Right before you feel yourself go limp

Fantasizing about a bed softer than your own

Where has all your vitality gone?

You’ve channeled all of it into story

Letting your plots envelop and energize you

A web of struggling characters thrashing in response

Somehow you cannot leave the puppy for them

Not when she fixes her soulful eyes upon you

Nudging your leg, licking your hand

Wagging her tail every time you’re near

You’re not certain why she likes you

It’s a challenge to like yourself most days

Even so she brings a reluctant smile

To your tired, careworn face.