read the first part
“All entrants in the spell writing contest must register by midnight!” came a screechy voice from far down the corridor behind.
Malinda whirled around so fast that her knit bag knocked the hat off a very short witch who was passing by just then. The short witch retrieved her hat and shot a curse at Malinda that slid right off and stuck to the shoe of a one-eyed witch who was hurrying in the other direction.
“Spell writing contest!” Malinda said. She hadn’t heard of any such thing. “Where is it?”
The skinny witch standing on a chair who had been hollering over the heads of the crowd pointed in the direction of the registration booth.
Malinda dashed to the booth and found the scroll for the spellwriting contestants waiting on the table. Only a handful of other witches had signed up. The contest, it said, was to be held at midnight there in the corridor beside the registration booth. Cackling to herself, Malinda scratched her name in with the quill on the next empty line.
She needed a place to concentrate, so she left the crowded castle corridors and found a lonely spot in the parapets. With a bit of witch fire on the brim of her hat so she could see, she pulled out a scroll and started scratching lines of a spell, a spell that would turn a living creature into a dragon. A full-blown, fire-breathing, bat-winged, spiky tailed dragon!
As the castle clock struck midnight, Malinda ran down the stairs and reached the booth where the other contestants were waiting.
“We’ll go in order of entrance,” Said the creaky voice of a bald old witch whose warts had warts.
That meant Malinda was last. She politely watched the others working their spells, carefully keeping to herself the little flaws she saw. The judges, a panel of young witches who had been volunteers at the convention, applauded and shrieked after every spell. One witch conjured a boquet of roses with a poisonous scent. Another gave spider’s legs to a shoe, which promptly crawled away and couldn’t be found again.
At last it was Malinda’s turn.
Malinda rubbed her fingers through her hair until she found a fat louse, then carefully worked it out with her fingernails and set it down on the stone floor. She bent low and whispered her spell in it’s invisible ear. The louse began to twitch and change. It swelled and sprouted wings. A long neck with a hideous tusked head stretched from it’s armored body. In a minute, the transformation was complete. A perfect dragon, the size of a moth, stared defiantly back at the crowd of witches surrounding it.
It needed a little something more, Malinda thought, and with a shake of her wand added a word to the spell to make the dragon grow.