"That's good for a first attempt, Not-A-Rose," one of her friends said. "But to pass, you have to do better. That's a simple baguette cut and just a pink topaz. To pass you have to be able to pull out a brilliant cut diamond. Don't give up. You can do it!"
Not-A-Rose shrugged. "Of course I can do it. It just takes time and practice. But this stone is very pretty and I am proud of it. Now that I know I can do it, I will soon be creating diamonds in any cut desired."
"Look! I finally did it! I created a beautiful jewel! All by myself!"
Not-A-Rose had come to terms with her classmates. She set aside the gender problem as being inapplicable. She still believed that fairy boys weren't as capable as fairy girls but that was a fairy problem and she wasn't really a fairy any longer. She wasn't a troll either but she really liked the trolls. They were almost as nice as her sister fairies. She wasn't a fairy, or a troll, but a sort of fairy-troll. Whatever.
Studying rocks was certainly different to studying plants which was a very nice challenge. She knew all about photosynthesis, grafting, nutrient balances, etc. but learning to grow stones was a whole new challenge. She was behind the rest of the class. (The others had been learning about rocks and minerals since their birth.) She worked really hard to catch up and the other trolls tried to help her. They didn't believe half of what she told them about the Enchanted Meadow but they listened when she talked about her home. That was comforting.
Not-A-Rose worked hard and finally succeeded. "Isn't this diamond brilliant? A brilliant cut diamond with great clarity, giving it both brilliance and fire. I did it!"
"That's great, Not-A-Rose but you have to make the settings too!" she was reminded. "You do have to pass your metallugy course as well as your crystal course. We're nearly at the end of the school year."
"Well, maybe I will have to take the course again," Rose admitted. "But that's not a problem. It isn't as if I have anywhere to go. It might be smart of me to repeat the course so that I am sure I have mastered it."
"You can't do that, Not-A-Rose," her friend warned but wouldn't say why.
Not-A-Rose looked at her talisman, securely locked up in the dome. "Why, there are a great many things in with my talisman! Yet, there aren't any other Exchange Students. I don't understand!"
The trolls looked uneasy. "Those are the things you made and everyone in the class donated an item, or two. They are for you to take with you when you leave."
"But what if I don't leave?" Not-A-Rose asked. "I like you all and I like it here. I can make pretty things and that is very important to me. The last realm I was in had monsters who tried to eat me! The next one could be even worse. I would much rather stay here and make beautiful items. I am useful and you all like me. Why shouldn't I stay?"
"Because you can't stay!" the trolls said. "Exchange Students have to go. That's the rules. We all have to obey the rules! Otherwise, everyone would just run around throwing rocks!"
"What's going on?" Not-A-Rose asked as she saw her friends scurrying around arranging decorative rocks.
"Dramoff and Grimtag are getting married!" was the joyous response. "We are preparing the wedding platform for them. Dramoff and Grimtag are wonderful! We love them so much! We all want them to have the best wedding ever! You can help if you want but only with the small rocks. We are so happy for Dramoff and Grimtag! They are the best! They will make simply wonderful babies! We will all celebrate! It is an honour to help prepare their wedding."
Trolls married and had babies? That surprised Not-A-Rose but she happily joined in the merriment as they worked. She learned about the happy couple, how special they were, and about the ceremony to come. They brought out the wedding tree, a fanciful concoction of silver and amethyst. It even had onyx birds on it. The wedding tree was set carefully on top of a massive slab of quartz. Nothing could stand taller than the wedding tree! A pathway of polished stones was put down to make the aisle. Not-A-Rose was allowed to help with that. When they were done, she had to stand well back. She could watch the ceremony but only from a distance. This was a sacred Troll Ceremony and she wasn't a troll, even though she was a very good Exchange Student. Besides, she wasn't close to Dramoff or Grimtag. With all their family and friends assembled, there just wasn't room for her.
The happy couple were escorted up the aisle to stand under the wedding tree. Dramoff and Grimtag stood back to back as a symbol that this was how they would face the world, defending each other and looking out for each other.
A blinding light enveloped the wedding tree and the resultant explosion knocked all the trolls to the ground. Wow! Not-A-Rose was stunned and she had been far away. What had happened to Dramoff and Grimtag?
"Look, Not-A-Rose! I caught one of Dramoff's and Grimtag's babies! Now I have a little sibling to raise and care for. When the hair comes in and the skin loses the birth tint, this will be just the prettiest baby you ever saw! I am so lucky. Of course, Grimtag was raised by my parents, so I was given a good position to catch one of Grimtag's babies. It was a splendid wedding! Dramoff and Grimtag made eight babies! We will miss Dramoff and Grimtag but they did good."
"But Dramoff and Grimtag are...gone?" Not-A-Rose asked in dismay.
"We never talk of sadness on a day of joy! Dramoff and Grimtag are reborn in their babies!"
The senior troll looked at Not-A-Rose. "Troll survival requires both cooperation and sacrifice. The only way to make babies is to fuse and be split in a blast of magic lightning. The parents give up their earthly lives for the sake of their children. Their families adopt their babies, as they were adopted. We all give that all may live. Now we need you to go to the magical magma realm. We need the magic but the balance between realms has to be maintained. To get, one must give in equal measure. An imbalance would imperil the entire world. Your weight, and the weight of the items given you, will buy enough magic dust to feed us for many years. Dramoff and Grimtage gave their lives for their babies. We are just asking you to travel on to the magma realm that those babies can live to grow up. You can go anywhere from there, wherever you like."
Not-A-Rose was hurt at first. The trolls didn't want her! The magma realm sounded dangerous. Still, the trolls had been kind and taught her. The Trolls weren't asking her to die, like Dramoff and Grimtag, just to travel on. She wasn't a troll and had to find herself a real home. She lifted the dome and carried it to stand it in front of the wedding tree. "I'm ready to go now. You have been so kind to me and I hope you get lots of magic!"
The red-haired troll lifted his staff and it was done!