The gross fishman threw his spear down in frustration. “What do you mean we can’t have a war?!” His name was Muck. He was the size of a boulder and the IQ of one too. The other fish people appointed him the leader on account of him being the biggest.
Theodore stood waist deep in Moss Tub Lake, wearing hip waders and trying his best to stay patient. “Civil war between citizen tribes is forbidden by the crown. Tell your men to stand down and desist with any further aggression.”
Muck flared his neck-fins, sneering. “Why should we?!”
Theodore sighed. This ‘war’ had sparked when insults exchanged between the fish people and the trolls got out of hand. Now he was dealing with two tribes of petulant children.
“The long answer is that our society subscribes to the belief that all citizen species are entitled to life, and thus the government has set up a system of to punish citizens who threaten social stability. The short answer is zoning regulations. You’d be fighting too close to the capital.”
A goldfish might’ve offered a more convincing look of comprehension.
“Killing is bad,” Theodore said. “Don’t kill the trolls, even if they’re mean.”
Muck looked at the trolls who were making mocking gestures from the far shoreline. “I would like to kill them, though.”
Theodore placed a hand on the creature’s shoulder. “I know you do. But sometimes you just can’t get what you want.”
Stroking his chin, Muck tried to wrap his head around this. “We’re really good at fighting. We can kill them anyway.”
Theodore flipped open his citation booklet and began filling in numbers. “If you do, you’re looking at a very steep fine.” He offered the slip for consideration.
Muck stood, contemplating the exact price of war. He glanced back at his ragtag army and bellowed. “Too expensive! War is canceled for now! Everyone! go home!”
There were shouts of disappointment among the ranks, but one by one they dived back into the depths of the lake. Muck turned around. “It will take some time to save up. We will let you know.”
“Wonderful,” Theodore said through clenched teeth. “Behave yourselves.”
Theodore plodded towards the shore and saw yet more creatures waiting there for his help including the geese, a few sylph fairies, a griffin, even more gnomes, and a tree nymph. They assaulted him with requests before he had a chance to struggle out of his hip waders.
Tuning out the noise, Theodore allowed himself to feel how exhausted and sore he had become. He fantasized, just for a moment, about filing cabinets, midterm exams, and post-graduate dissertations. This work was so far from the life he’d planned for himself. He envied the prince, who would soon escape to a life of his choosing.
“Alright.” Theodore broke himself from his revelry. Even if this wasn’t what he planned, he still had a duty to perform. He took a deep breath. “Who’s next?”