Ugh forget strict word limits. From now on I’m going with “whatever I can fit onto a page of my sketchbook.”
Once upon a time there was an old cobbler called Cris who worked long hours to provide for his wife and three children. One day, his wife became deathly ill and as hard as he tried he could no longer make ends meet.
“We’ve no choice. Lord Harry has long wanted a male heir and we need the money.”
His wife just turned her head wordlessly.
He grabbed the child and was nearly out the door when he heard a voice behind him.
“There isss another way.”
He turned and there was only a snake in the room. “What do you mean? Show yourself!”
“I can get you the richesss you dessserve.” It was coming from the snake. “There iss only one rule. You musst trussst me and never ssse me in actssion.”
If it would save his son. “Fine. I accept your terms. What must I do?”
“Return to your wife and children. Tomorrow you will have your waresss.”
Cris returned to his family, but he couldn’t stop thinking about the mysterious snake. Sure enough, the next morning it was sitting on his workbench next to two pairs of shoes.
“Amazing. How’d you do it?”
“You mussstn’t know my sssecret. Do not tessst me.”
The shoes were of a superb quality and Cris was able to sell them for top price. When he returned home the snake was waiting for him.
“Tomorrow you will have even more sshoessss.”
Cris fed his children and tended to his wife then went to bed, but his sleep was restless. He had to know how the snake was doing it. He peeked into his workshop and gasped. Leather and needle were floating in the air, assembling at the direction of the snake’s tail.
“SSSSS” The snake faced him and reared up; Cris’ breath caught and he froze in terror. “You were warned not to break my trusssst.” And at that the snake disappeared along with all of Cris’ cobbling supplies, leaving him once again without hope.