Narnia, if the heroes did their jobs: Caspian and Coriakin
[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Bold italics from the original text. In this version Lucy freed the slaves but Eustace was still the dragon and so that leave Caspian the magic book.]
“Well, that’s rather a delicate question,” said the Magician.* “You see, it’s only they who think they were so nice to look at before. They say they’ve been uglified, but that isn’t what I called it. Many people might say the change was for the better.”
"Speaking as one ruler to another," Caspian said ever so politely, "you're an asshole."
Coriakin shouted, "I'm a star!"
Caspian considered pointing out that he had been appointed via divine fiat, interdimensional travel, and various other impressive things, but settled on, "A fallen star!" There was a pause which Caspian used to sneak in, "The royalty of old had a word for fallen stars." This shut Coriakin up for the moment. "Now let's see, what was the word? It started with a D..."
"I'm not a... don't you dare! There is no way" the words after that were incoherent. English, but incoherent.
The entire room shook and Caspian trembled with fear. But he reminded himself that there was an entire island of slaves to this unstable being and said, "Your actions say more than your words ever could."
"They're a conceited people. First it was just the Cheif, but now he's gotten the rest to follow him. They agree with every word he says like a mindless mob. No, like children. They need an adult to guide them and teach them."
"A fine idea," Caspian said. "Now where do you suggest we find one?"
"I was put here by Aslan."
"So was I, and I say they'd be better without you."
The Magician rounded the table. "I could turn you into something. Not a Duffer. Something else. Or even put a spell on you to make sure no one ever believed a word you said. But I don't like to do that."
It took everything Caspian had not to give in and submit to this monster in human form before him. He'd spent much of his life as a prince, a short time as a rebel leader, and then a king. Never had he been so alone, or so helpless. "You don't like to do it. Meaning you've tried. What happened the last time?"
The Magician was silent.
"What transgression was the transmogrification even a punishment for?"
"Well, they wouldn’t do what they were told."
"Slaves can be like that."
"Their work is to mind the garden and raise food—not for me, as they imagine, but for themselves. They wouldn’t do it at all if I didn’t make them.
"Possibly owing to the fact that the land here is rich enough to live off of without a garden."
"And of course for a garden you want water."
"Which would explain the water pump I spied earlier."
"There is a beautiful spring about half a mile away up the hill."
"Is this going anywhere?"
"And from that spring there flows a stream which comes right past the garden. All I asked them to do was to take their water from the stream instead of trudging up to the spring with their buckets two or three times a day and tiring themselves out besides spilling half of it on the way back."
"Three questions. One, asked or ordered? Two, did you ever ask why they went to the source? Because there are many good reasons to do so. Three, this justifies body modification how?