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.
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.