In the distance the mountains became visible. Of course, they were visible all the time, but not to Hilda and William. The magical couple usually was not in the right position to see the large chunks of rock where Archibald, the dragon collecting giant, lived.
William had tried to talk Hilda out of this social call since they had left their house. After the giant had accidentally almost squashed the wizard, William had been slightly biased against the usually gentle person of humongous proportions.
The cats, comfortably draped on the brooms’ bristles, were rather pleased with the outing, though. They never had a problem with Archibald, simply because they never allowed the man to come too close.
“Wizard, stop your talking. We are going to see Archibald, whether you like it or not, and you are coming along, whether you like it or not.”
“I think that Archibald is quite dangerous, Hilda. Holy Bejeebus, he collects dragons!”
“Who are you telling this, William? I got him hooked on them! He got his first one from me too, a cute little blue one. You know the one: Blooper.”
“Oh. That makes sense. That’s the small one that accidentally destroys everything in and out of sight, right? Well, the name is a good fit.” William shook his head and patted Obsidian Shadow, his cat. “You at least don’t do that. And never get any intentions like that, do you hear me?”
Obsi opened an eye, as to acknowledge someone being there, and then yawned.
“Good boy. I knew we’d understand each other.”
Hilda glared at the man for a long moment but left it at that. After all, they were quite close to Archibald’s home. Arriving there squabbling would make a weird impression, even to Hilda.
They set their brooms down at a respectable distance from Archibald’s shack. The giant did not live a fancy life, because a) he did not need it, and b) there were no people around who could supply fancy things in his size, which made a) quite inevitable.
“Archibald! We’re here!” Hilda called out.
“Coming!” a voice boomed over the area. “No need to shout!”
“He’ll always be a kid,” Hilda grinned, “you never know where he’s hiding.”
William frowned in silence, scratching Obsi’s head.
Light earthquakes announced that the giant was coming their way.
“HILDA!” Archibald shouted, spreading his arms in a welcoming, hugging way. This of course was rather futile, but it showed how much he appreciated the visit of the witch and her companion. “WILLIAM!”
“Hey, big man,” Hilda waved up at their host, “here we are again, to see how you are doing and if you have new additions to your collection.”
“Only a few. I think I have most kinds now,” Archibald said as he bent down. “Want me to carry you over or do you fly along as usual?”
Hilda and William both knew that Archibald was a careful giant, but he sometimes had this nervous twitch about him. Therefore flying was a much safer option.
Archibald gave them the grand tour, as he called it. It was the only tour he had, and comprised a view of all the dragons he had in his private ‘zoo’. He pointed out the Welsh Red he had found not even that long ago. The giant was very proud of that one, as Welsh Reds usually did not leave their natural habitat.
“I think this one got lost in a storm or something.”
“But there was no storm recently,” William frowned. “We’d know of that.”
Archibald scowled at the wizard, and a scowl of that size was impressive. “This was a storm you have not heard of.”
William left it at that. After all, even a magical person did not mess with thirty feet of giant. The wizard would not be surprised if Archibald had taken a trip to the natural habitat of the Welsh Reds during this ‘storm’.
A smaller blue dragon flew towards the enormous person and almost landed on the extended hands. Archibald had to catch the dragon. “And this is Blooper,” the giant smiled, kissing the dragon on the head. “He’s getting better, you know.”
The blue dragon peered over at the magicals on their brooms and the two cats they had with them. Small as it was compared to the other dragons, it was still large enough to sink a decent sized sailing-boat by just landing on it.
“Now go and play,” Archibald told the dragon and gently blew it from his hands. Blooper plummeted downwards, bounced up from the rocky ground, yelped and then remembered the wing-part of the flying bit.
Grimalkin and Obsidian had observed the downfall of the blue dragon approvingly.
“Come, I will make you some tea, and you can taste my new pie,” Archibald then said.
Inside the giant’s giant hut the usual chaos resided. It was a comfortable kind of chaos though, and soon the magicals sat on chairs on the enormous table where Archibald also had put a relatively small table. He kept these things in a locker for when visitors decided to drop by.
Hilda had once asked the giant where he had these bits of furniture from, and he had told her that they came from the doll house of one of his nieces since she was too big to play with them then. The witch, on one of her visits, had changed some of the tea cups Archibald had to offer her to a more convenient size. After all, she did not want to swim in them.
Archibald hovered the superdome that he called his teapot over the magicals. “Here we go,” the giant warned them as he carefully let a drop of tea fall down over the human-sized table.
William caught the drop in flight and froze it there, after which Hilda climbed on the table and scooped the cups full from the drop in stasis. Then together they magically pushed the drop away and let it fall on the ground.
Archibald grinned. “I love to see how you do that, my friends.” He then fetched a plate with some pie on it. “New recipe, thought that up myself. Not fattening and only good stuff in it.” As he put the plate down, Hilda and William held up their cups of tea. The table only trembled a little this time, but precaution never was a bad thing around a giant.
William walked up to the plate, climbed onto it and magicked two pieces on the saucers he had in his hand. Soon everyone sat and enjoyed.
“This pie is really good,” William said. “You’re quite a baker, Archibald.”
“Because of me Mom,” the giant shrugged. “She said that knowing how to cook and bake is important.”
Hilda nodded. “Clever woman, your mother. I would like to ask you something, Archibald. It has to do with dragons.”
“Oh? Always willing to help with dragon things!” Archibald sat up.
“We met this kid a while ago, name of Balthasar, and I am convinced he is a Dragon Master.” Hilda looked up at the giant, measuring his reaction.
“Dragon Master? That is special. Not many of those around anymore these days.” Archibald rubbed his chin. “You sure, right?”
“Absolutely. He managed to control a Nobbleback and got six of her eggs from her lair, in a chest. The eggs, luckily, are dead, but still… I wonder if he could become a problem.”
William frowned at that. He knew that Hilda had an issue with Balthasar being a Dragon Master (the wizard still was not certain what that meant exactly), but ‘a problem’?
Archibald approached this very seriously. “Does he have access to dragons? And does he know?”
“No to both, as far as we know. He may have one of the dead eggs, but that’s harmless. The kid used a amplifying crystal to get to the dragon, and that’s been taken away from him. Things should be safe. We can’t risk having a Nobbleback sit down on the school if the little Dragon Master makes a mistake, right?”
The giant nodded. “Correct. I see no problem. But it is good to know.”
William saw Hilda visibly relax. It surprised him.
Hilda sensed the wizard’s emotion. “I know a fair bit about dragons, William, but Archibald is my authority. He either knows it or he knows someone who does. That is why I had to get here.”
“Hilda, you are too kind.” Archibald left his seat and went to grab a book from his book case. It was large even for giant’s standards.
“Pick up cup,” Hilda directed William, doing that herself as well.
Their table trembled quite a bit now, no matter how careful the giant put the book down.
“This is my best book on dragons. Lots of people added to it. Big names.”
“I am sure. Big people too,” William nodded.
“Not particularly,” Archibald shared as he opened the book, “nothing bigger than me. Except perhaps Giaccomo. He was quite big in the midsection, so to speak.” After that, the giant got lost in the enormous pages he was turning. This annoyed Grim as well as Obsi, as the massive gusts of wind made them have to claw into the table they lay on, otherwise they’d get blown off it.
Hilda and William had to apply some magic to remain where they were as well. Mentioning this to Archibald did not make much of an impression, so Hilda decided it was time to leave. After all, she had heard what she wanted to know.
As she stood, she said: “Little one, we have to leave. Thank you for the tea, the pie and the information. We’ll drop by again someday.”
“Huh? Oh, hah, yes. It was nice to see you, Hilda. The door is always open for you and William. And your kittens.”
William looked at the enormous wooden door, which was closed and put the average gate of a castle to shame. He summoned his broom.
“Just leave the window ajar and we’re fine, Archibald. See you around!”
They were already out the window when they heard the giant wish them a nice flight home.