Piffle slipped into the room as silently as it could—and as it was a wiry young spriggan, that was very silently indeed. It looked around.
There was the black box, just as the stories said, atop the giants’ table. Piffle looked up at the looming structure, then grabbed one of the table legs at head height and began pulling itself up.
It was perhaps halfway up the table-leg when a gigantic hand closed around it, pulling Piffle off its perch. It found itself swept up in the air and turned to face the immense hairy face of a He-Giant.
“Now, what do you think you’re doing?” the giant demanded, in its impossibly deep, rumbling voice.
“Nothing!” Piffle said. “Do nothing, really!”
A She-Giant appeared beside the He-Giant, looking at Piffle. Her incredibly long, lush hair spilled down around her. Piffle had never before seen a She-Giant’s hair so close up, and he was impressed.
“It just looks like an ordinary mirror,” she said. “You don’t need to see it. There’s nothing special about it—except when giants are climbing out of it. If you look at it, that might just happen.”
“I would think you’d consider eight of us to be quite enough,” the He-Giant said. “Especially after we smashed up those shops when we first appeared.”
“Yes, yes!” Piffle said, nodding wildly. “Enough giants!”
“Then don’t open the box!” the He-Giant bellowed.
“Yes yes yes! Put Piffle down now? Please?”
With a snort, the He-Giant set Piffle back on the floor. Piffle turned and scampered away. The He-Giant watched it go.
“Silly spriggan,” he said.
“They’re just curious,” the She-Giant told him.
“And attracted to magic.”
The He-Giant glanced at the box. “Do you think more giants would really come out of it? Or did our mysterious message-writer have some other motive?”
She spread empty hands. “Who knows?”
“If more giants appeared—well, it might be nice to have more company.”
“Female company, you mean? I’m not enough for you?”
“Of course you are! I didn’t mean that. But where we’re all so much alike, the four of you sisters and my three brothers and me—aren’t there any different people wherever it is we came from? It might be nice to talk to someone who isn’t just like us.”
“Just talk? So you aren’t hoping that someday a beautiful woman might come climbing out of the magic mirror, so you’d have a choice, and not just the four of us with the same boring face?”
“You’re more than beautiful enough! Besides, now that I think about it, it’s just as likely to be another man, and I’m not interested in sharing you. Better we keep everything balanced, four and four.”
“Or maybe we’d get worse monsters next time,” the She-Giant mused. “Remember, we got those funny false spriggans before. We could get anything—it’s not as if we have any idea how the magic works, or where we actually came from.”
“Right.” He glanced at the black box, still securely sealed.
He wondered who had sent that message, sixnights ago, not much more than an hour after their own arrival—”SHUT THE MIRROR IN A SOLID BOX, AND NOTHING ELSE WILL COME OUT OF IT.” Why had it been written across a false spriggan’s belly? Why hadn’t the mysterious magician sent a piece of paper?
He shook his head.
They would probably never know—but they would do their best to see that the mirror stayed safely locked away. It was just too dangerous to let out.
They didn’t really need any more giants. The fact was, the He-Giant rather liked being one of only four men in a world of spriggans, an object of awe to all the millions of little green creatures. It was really quite enjoyable—so long as there were four women, as well!