Clartak tapped the tip of his boot against the stone tiles with increasing impatience. He had been waiting in line for almost an hour already and he was going nowhere fast. There were three witches, a hobgoblin and two more creatures he couldn’t identify standing ahead of him. One of them looked like an armored stork and the other might have been a mummified accountant.
After another thirty minutes, a significant amount of which was taken up by the stork, Clartak was called to the counter.
The toad-headed clerk adjusted the horn rimmed glasses perched on his wide nose and looked up. At the sight of Clartak, the pouch under his throat pulsed with irritation.
“Yes, that’s right. I’m back again. And I will keep coming back until my request is approved.”
Clartak crossed his arms in defiance and stared hard at the clerk, hoping perhaps, that he could transform him into something terrible or hideous. Then again, thought Clartak, the man’s already a toad.
“You have been advised previously, Mr. Clickclack – ”
“Clartak – ”
” – that you cannot submit an application to curse a town over meaningless personal slights. A town may only be cursed if they have robbed you of your livelihood, burned you at the stake as a witch or tainted your family name and legacy forever. There are provisions and sub-provisions that allow us to make exceptions, but very few. And you do not fit the necessary criteria.”
“You don’t understand!” hissed Clartak, spraying specks of spittle on the witchglass separating him from the clerk. “They laughed at me! Me! They think I’m a joke! But not for long! Not if this request goes through! Don’t you see? This is my chance to prove that I am the evilest warlock in the village! Nay, in the county! And when the town is suffering its eternal damnation, do you know who’ll be laughing then? Do you?”
The clerk blinked once. “Will it be you?”
“Yes!” Clartak cried, pumping his fist in the air triumphantly and almost punching the cyclops at the next counter in the face. “I, Clartak the Conflagrater, will have the last laugh!”
The clerk rested his giant head on one webbed hand, his round eyes narrowing to hooded slits.
“Well, that sounds wonderful. You have no idea how much it warms my heart to see you tackle adversity head-on like this.”
“So you’ll approve my request?”
The clerk adjusted his glasses again and shifted his bulk forward so his slimy face was almost pressed up against the glass.
“I have already told you that personal slights are not an acceptable justification. Your application is denied. Your town will remain uncursed unless the committee should decree otherwise.
As a general rule, the committee never decrees otherwise.”
Clartak fumed with fury. “Very well then. You think you’re so high and mighty? You think that you hold my fate in your grubby little hands? Ha!”
He paused for emphasis as an uncomfortable murmur arose from the others in the room.
“Ha! You shall not defeat me! No one shall defeat me! For I am Clartak the Conflagrater, Bringer of Doom and Killer of Small Bugs, and I shall not go down so easy!”
He drew himself up to his full height and stared down at the toad man in front of him. “You, my friend are about to suffer a misfortune most…erm…unfortunate! You shall never know happiness again! For the rest of your days, your little toad heart will know naught but misery! So say I, Clarta – ”
“I’m sorry, but did you just curse me?”
Clartak’s brow crinkled. “What?”
“Did you just put a curse on me?”
The wizened wizard’s bony chest swelled with pride. “Why yes, I do believe I did.”
“Under Section 452.8, Subsection Omega, Item 8, curses and/or hexes uttered without the proper permits and attested documentation are a violation of Article 666 in the Constitution of General Hocus Pocus chartered by the Department of Curseology and Monstrous Affairs. To do so carries with it a fine of 5,000 galleons and ten years of hard time in the Netherspace.”
Clartak’s face turned the same pale shade as his scraggly beard. “Oh. Well, that wasn’t a curse. Not really. I mean, not in the strictest sense. It was more of a general, ‘Curse you!’ than a proper curse, you know? Just a little cursing around between friends.” He burst into a series of giggles then, though the clerk didn’t seem to find much humor in the situation.
“Mr. Claptrap. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Yes, good idea.”
Clartak sprinted out of the Department of Curseology and Monstrous Affairs while that was still a possibility for him. It was turning out to be a rotten day.