Small Things | C.R. Gardner

Small Things

C.R. Gardner

The Grande, Vast & Brief Award

In the great valley of Grande Vast, something small is about to happen…

Polluck rubbed his eyes; the candles had burnt low as he worked and were now mere flickering stubs, barely casting any light at all. He placed the last comma. ‘Finished!’

‘Wonderful,’ said Head Scribe Alsius, checking the pages. ‘Strengthen the wards, Polluck, this customer’s a nasty one.’


It was just on midday when warlock Timothy Vale flung open the Scriptorium doors, ‘I have come for my Book of Spells,’ he said theatrically in his sonorous voice.

The green skinned scribes in their grey robes paused, regarding the warlock impassively through yellow, catlike eyes. Over the last moon-cycle Timothy Vale had visited daily to keep an eye on their progress with his book; he even looked over their shoulders as they’d worked, but none dared complain, for they all knew he was pompously sadistic and cruelly powerful with a temper that matched. He’d recently put all the princesses to death for some perceived slight.

Magic made the warlock’s cloak billow, and his shoulder length, black hair blow in a non-existent breeze. He posed, making sure they had a good view of his exceedingly handsome profile.

‘It is done,’ said Alsius, ‘But there is a matter of payment, oh Great Warlock.’

‘Payment?’ he said, dark eyes narrowing. ‘Working for me is an honour and payment enough.’

‘That may be true, Most Honourable Warlock, but your honour doesn’t put food on our tables. Payment was agreed upon at one hundred gold coins.’

His annoyance palpable, Timothy Vale tossed a money pouch to Alsius, whose assistant tested the gold for ensorcellment.

‘You do not trust me?’

‘We trust no-one when gold is involved.’

At a nod from his assistant, Alsius handed over the book. They all knew what would happen next. It was so predictable, it was boring.

Warlock Timothy Vale flicked open the book and began reading out loud. Power crackled and sparked around him. Wind blew. There was flash and a crack, and when the smoke cleared, an oversized frog was sitting upon the fine cloak.

‘Oh my!’ jittered Polluck, ‘I must have put that last comma in the wrong spot. I didn’t realise such a small thing could make such a big difference!’

‘It would seem that the pen is mightier than the spell,’ said Alsius, a slight smile on his lips. ‘What a pity there’s no princesses left to reverse it.’