Episode 1 Chapter 13

It took Theodore a moment to realize the faun was not about to tear out his throat. It took him several more to process what she was asking him to do.

“Kill…?” he said, pushing himself to his feet. “You want me to kill somebody?”

“Yeah!” Oboe said, and mimed swinging a sword. “That’s what knights do, right? Slay stuff?”

Theodore grit his teeth. “I am not a knight!”

Oboe blinked, brow furrowed. “Oh.” she said. “But the king sent you to help us, right?”

Theodore moved behind the desk, to put something between him and the creature. “He approved the transfer, yes. I was recommended by middle management. I don’t know how to fight, and would not fight even if I could.”

“Don’t all humans fight?” She looked bewildered.

Was she stupid? “No!” Of course they didn’t.

Disappointment crept into her confusion. Theodore circled the desk as she tried to follow him. “That’s weird. Why would the king send you? How are you going to slay wicked creatures if you can’t fight?”

A memory flashed: His father’s sword arcing through a slice. A nymph’s severed head screaming through the air. A werewolf crumbling to ash under the weight of a knife. Theodore pounded a fist into the desk.

“I’m not going to slay anything!” He startled them both with how loud he yelled.

The two stood in stunned silence. Theodore, prickling, did his best to calm down.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “…I need to ask you to leave.”

“Aren’t you going to help us?” There was desperation in her voice. “Isn’t it your job…?”

“It’s not my job to kill things!” He said.

“I thought that’s what the Ranger Deputy does?”

Theodore felt the world close in around him. She was right, wasn’t she? He marched into this office wearing a military uniform, as if the job description wasn’t drenched in blood.

An epiphany struck. Slipping past Oboe, Theodore seized his suitcase and dropped it onto the desk. It sprang open, and he pulled out his orientation binder as if it were a magic weapon.

“Here!” he said. He opened it to its first laminated page and pointed. “That’s my job description!”

Oboe leaned over the page, reading.

“Henceforth, in the year of the Mother 3586, the station of Ranger Deputy is established by decree of the King of all Laien. The appointed shall stand for law and order within the Whirlwood Valley. There he shall keep peace between Man, Ghast, Fey, and Feral. He will oversee the collection and transfer of wild magic for the prosperity of the people. He will speak for the crown among the trees, and give aid to those in dire need.”

“Er, yes.” Theodore was surprised the faun could read. “As you see, there is no specific mention of killing, fighting, slaying, or similar loathsome verbs.”

She looked up. “So you’re going to keep peace and help out, but not slay anyone?”

“Uh.” Theodore’s head spun trying to imagine the logistics behind what he was arguing. It did not matter. All he truly needed was to lay low until he could find some loophole to get out of his assignment. “That… appears to be the case.”

Oboe stood, taking in and weighing Theodore’s words. She tensed.

“That’s amazing!!” She climbed over the desk and lifted Theodore into a crushing bear hug. “You’re going to save us and not hurt anyone! That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard!”

Panic flooded Theodore’s veins. He thrashed to get free, shoving his hand in her face. “Stop! Let me go at once!”

She did so, placing him back down on the floor with care. His skin crawled, wondering if the creature had managed to enchant him.

“Leave.” he said, glaring.

“But…” She glanced around at the mess around them. “Don’t you want me to help you clean up?”

“I said get out!” He stomped toward her and she retreated.

“Um. Okay!” She lingered in the doorway. “Well. I just want you to know I’m excited about your plan to help us! Thank you so much!”

“Fantastic.” Theodore pushed the door into her, throwing himself against it to close it shut. “Goodbye!”

The door clicked shut, and he heaved a sigh of relief.

“Welcome to the Whirlwood Valley!” Oboe called from outside. “I hope you’re happy here!” Theodore locked the door. “I’ll be happy when I’m gone.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *