“Huhhhhhhhhhhh.” Citrine exhaled loudly.
“Citrine, stop doing that, I can’t concentrate properly when you make silly noises. It’s annoying!” complained Rhodochrosite.
“Hey, I’m not the one that started talking.”
“But you’re— Ooooooooooh!” she huffed.
For a brief time there was quiet, and the lesson was allowed to continue...
“HUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” sighed Citrine, louder this time. The yellow Gem surreptitiously opened one eye, in order to see if either of her fellow students had opened theirs yet.
“Citriiiiine! Turquoise, she’s doing it on purpose! Tell her to stop!”
“Rhodochrosite, you must to learn to work through distractions,” said Turquoise, not opening her eyes, “While you regenerate you’ll be receiving a lot of information, far more than you have to process in the physical world. You’ll need to sort through it carefully to pick out the bits that are most important, and hold the rest off until you’re ready to deal with it. Think of what Citrine is doing as good practice.”
“No buts. I can do it, Rose is doing it, and if you keep at it you’ll be able to do it too. Then when you’re both finished and move on to more interesting things, Citrine will have to sit here and practice with me.”
Citrine quickly closed her eye and fell silent; not wanting to miss out on any fun the other two might have without her.
Rose smiled; as good as she had become at allowing disturbances to pass her by, she still found it entertaining to listen to Citrine and Rhodochrosite’s pointless squabbles, knowing that in an hour’s time it would be like nothing had ever happened. Citrine had a point thought: she always more disruptive when she was bored, and they’d been meditating for what felt like hours. She hoped they would finish soon.
“Hhhuh.” Citrine sighed, in a more genuine way this time. “Turquoise, I’m bored, my mind is getting tired. Can we take a rest now?”
Turquoise thought about the request for a moment and, deciding that she had worked them pretty hard today, reclined backwards out of her cross-legged position to lie on the floor.
“Yes. …I think we could all benefit from a break.” she said to her charges with her eyes closed and her hands behind her head. “I invite the three of you to join me in relaxation.” she finished languidly.
That always made Rose laugh; it was like the two of them had planned the whole sequence so they could do that… thing that they did (‘or rather, that thing where they stopped doing anything else…’ she decided was a more accurate description). Not infrequently, their turquoise-skinned mentor could be found sitting or lying somewhere with her blue eyes closed, completely motionless (except for maybe the occasional twitch), doing absolutely nothing for an hour or two; a lot of the time Citrine could be found curled up close by, doing the same thing (though she tended to talk while she did it, and herself and Rhodochrosite would sit and giggle at the little conversations she’d have with herself).
‘Advanced relaxation’ was what Turquoise had called it, and Citrine had nodded knowingly, happy to have reached an advanced level in something before her two friends. Neither she nor Rhodochrosite felt the need for the curious inactivity, but that’s where suggested relaxation often led, and so she started planning what she was going to do when the two of them inevitably lost contact with the world.
But that wasn’t what Citrine had in mind for today’s break: she was bored bored, and it was going to take more than advanced relaxation to take care of it this time. Less than five minutes after they had stopped the lesson she was disturbing everyone again.
“Turquoise?” she persisted, lightly shaking her leg.
“I’m bored. Can we do something fun?”
“You asked if we could take a rest, and now that we’re resting you want to do something fun. How do I know that if we move from here you won’t just change your mind again, and make us do something else in a couple of minutes?”
Rhodochrosite snickered. Rose grinned from her position on the floor.
“Well… we could always do something fun right here…” said Citrine.
“Could we? And what did you have in mind then?” said Turquoise, playing the game with Citrine. She already knew what the excitable young Gem was after.
“Storyteller! Tell me a story!” Citrine boomed in her best Yellow Diamond voice. Turquoise had to laugh: the impression was strangely accurate (considering that all Citrine knew of the Diamonds was what she had told them), and it was more than a little amusing to imagine that stony-faced brute making such a request.
“Yes why of course, Empress,” Turquoise replied with mock servility. “Rose, Rhodochrosite, would you like to hear a story as well?”
“Yes please… storyteller.” Rose said, laughing.
“Stor-ree-time! Stor-ree-time! Stor-ree—” Citrine chanted.
“Okay, so I think it’s Rose’s turn to—” began Turqoise.
“Ohhhhhhhhh, don’t let her pick! It was my idea for a story, I should get to pick!” said Citrine petulantly. Things were taking a turn for the worst, and there was a very real danger that the story time she had so carefully orchestrated, would be ruined by a technicality.
“It was your idea, but if I remember correctly it was you who picked last time, and the time before that.”
“Yeah but Rhodochrosite said I could have her go!”
“Which was very kind of her… wait, how does that help you?” Turquoise asked quizzically.
“Because that means that one didn’t count, so really I only picked one time.”
“That… but that still means it’s Rose’s turn to pick.”
“It’s okay, Turquoise, Citrine can choose the story if she wants to.” Rose said. She didn’t really mind, no matter what it was about she knew that she’d enjoy the story, and Citrine appeared to be heavily invested in the project.
“See so its fine.” said Citrine encouragingly.
“No, it’s not fine; you’re being selfish. Just because Rose and Rhodochrosite are nice enough to let you have your own way, doesn’t mean you should always get it.” Turquoise said firmly. Turning to Rose and Rhodochrosite, she went on, “And you two; both of you are very easy-going, which is wonderful, but always remember that choice isn’t to be taken for granted: you never know when someone will try to take it from you, or from the people you care about. Obviously this time it’s just for the story so it’s alright,” this drew a frown from Citrine, “but you never know what might happen in the future. You’ll have to be prepared to decide when it does matter. Understand?”
“Yes.” said Rose; Rhodochrosite nodded vigourously, causing her bushy white hair to bounce around comically.
“Alright then,” Turquoise said, smiling at the latest group she was responsible for.
Of all the Gems she’d ever had to look after, Citrine was one of the most lively; she glad that Rhodochrosite and Rose were with her, they would go a long way in helping to teach her to channel her energy into positive things.
Rose took care to remember what Turquoise had just said; she had been their guardian since she and Citrine had navigated their way above ground and found their way to the small town in the cove, and had taught them so much since then. She knew that even if the things that Turquoise said didn’t have clear applications right now, then they certainly would in the future, so it was well worth paying attention.
“So Citrine, you come and sit by me,” and Citrine did, resting her head in Turquoise’s lap, poking her tongue out at the two pink Gems. “And Rose, tell us what kind of story you’d like to hear.”
Rose’s face was quickly split by a large grin, inciting the same reaction in Rhodochrosite and Turquoise soon after. When Citrine noticed the silly smiles on the faces of her peers, she looked up at Turquoise, who confirmed her fears.
“Ohhhhhhh!” she wailed. “That’s not fair; you guys always pick mushy stories! There’s three of you and only one of me! That’s… that’s cheating!”
“But Rose hasn’t said anything yet.” Turquoise pointed out.
“Yeah but you know what she’s gonna say…” Citrine mumbled unhappily.”
Citrine was right: Rose, Rhodochrosite and Turquoise all shared the same penchant for stories full of feeling, love, and deep interpersonal interaction; as soon as she’d seen Rose smiling like that she’d known what her answer was going to be.
“I’d like to hear a love story, please.” said Rose decisively.
“Ochhhhhhhhhh—” was all Citrine said, clearing her throat loudly and rolling her eyes.
“Alright, a love story it shall be! And don’t worry, Citrine; you’ll like this one, I promise.” Turquoise said as she ruffled Citrine’s tangle of curly yellow hair.
“Oh fiiiiiiiiiiiine.” she said. Her smile belied her sulky tone.
“A long, long time ago, before I started taking care of you, before my gem had finished forming, before even the first wandering Gems met and decided to travel together; before anything, there were five heavenly spirits: Illumination, Alteration, Amalgamation, The Animator and The Lapidary, our heroine.
Illumination controlled the light; everything that you could see, you could be see could because of her, but nobody ever saw her… In her true form she shone far too brightly for anyone to look at directly, so when people came to visit her she appeared as a shadow, speckled with tiny points of light, like a clear night sky. She could warm and brighten the coldest and darkest of places, and would always light the path of those who lost their way.
Alteration was the spirit of change. She could never make up her mind who or what she wanted to be, because she saw the good and the bad in everything. And so she decided to be everything, and anything: if she could think about it or see it, she could become it. Nobody knew what she really looked like, because she was always changing; just as she changed the things around her.
Amalgamation was understood by no one because she was one being, and yet many beings at the same time. She had split herself into parts to learn what exactly she was, and then put herself back together again to learn the secrets of combination. Out of all the spirits, she was the one that said the least; she wanted to share her gift with the others, but felt that it wasn’t something to explain, but something to experience if you truly wanted to appreciate it.
The Animator was the most responsible of the spirits; she had to be, because only she could create life. She was amazed by the amazing things that the other spirits could do to what was around them, and loved both being able to witness their work, and the state of being alive. Her desire to share what she loved was so strong that she was willing to sacrifice herself to give life to others; that willingness was the source of her power, and she applied that power generously.
Last of all there was the Lapidary. Infinitely creative, observant of every tiny detail, patient and determined; her gift was to see what something had the potential to become, and help it to become that. She was difficult to get hold of because she was always working on something, or looking for the perfect material for her next masterpiece; but if they could find her to ask her, then she was always ready to help her fellow spirits.
The universe was their playground, and they came and went as they pleased; creating and destroying, shaping and reforming… working and playing together, doing whatever it was that spirits thought about doing.