FERGUS COUSLAND'S WINTER BREAK

For Winter Break from Ferelden U (go Mabari!) Jowan and I were going to go to Amaranthine to score some of what he said was 'pretty wicked shit' from Tommy Howe. But then Elissa heard that Prince Cailan was going skiing in the Frostback Mountains and so naturally she had to go. My Dad was OK with the idea, because a few years ago he got a cabin as an investment and figured we could stay there. But the cabin is a mile from the big Royal Lodge, and the only view is of the valley. So Elissa whined and cried until Mom broke down and rented a suite at the lodge. And since Elissa is 17 and underage, I got to go with her.

I wanted to take my car, but Dad was worried about accidents and me driving that far. He rented a 16 passenger van and told me that Gilmore, Jowan and I were the only ones to drive it. I said OK, because it meant I'd get some sleep, and with that big a van we could get a pretty good party going.

We headed out on Thursday. Originally it was just going to be me, Gilmore, Jowan, Elissa and Lily, Jowan's girlfriend. But then Lily's friend, that creepy goth chick Morrigan from my Econ class showed up, along with a guy named Cullen from the Chantry. Then this Iona girl and another mage called Anders needed rides. Anders had a cat with him, which the girls thought was 'cute'.

So we're tooling down the road, listening to Linken Park, when Jowan says, "Maker's breath! It's the Templars!"

I looked in the mirror. All I could see were three choppers and some flashing lights. "It's military," said Cullen. "Like a motorcade or something."

Just then ZWOOOSHH! This gold ricerocket goes screaming past, with the military bikes trying to keep up. I knew what that meant, and so did all the girls. "CAILAN!" they screeched. Morrigan just smirked and went back to the book she was reading. It was called "Ferelden Feminist Poetry" or something like that.

We stopped at a Big J before we got into the mountains. The place looked like it'd been hit by a tornado inside. All these people were chattering away, and Gilmore asked some girl what was up.

"Prince Cailan was just here! And he paid for everybody's stuff!"

Elissa damn near exploded from jealousy. "You made me miss him!" She went to hit me, but missed and hit the bag of Doritos I'd just bought instead. The bag popped and Doritos went everywhere. I made her buy me another bag. She sulked the rest of the night.

We got into the village a little before midnight. I drove most of the way, but Gilmore took over for the last couple of hours. Jowan was passed out in his seat, the others were all more or less asleep, and Morrigan was still reading.

In the morning I caught Lily trying to order Room Service, and I had to shut that down. We were lucky enough to get the damned suite, and I didn't need Dad all over my ass when we got home because some chick was too lazy to go downstairs for free danishes. Cullen and Gilmore brought back huge plates of stuff from the breakfast bar and I told Lily that if she didn't like it, she could go buy her own food. I think Jowan was annoyed but so what.

After breakfast we went down to check out the lodge. I was supposed to go see about the cabin, too, because Dad had rented it out to a bunch of guys who figured they'd use it to score all weekend. It was still pretty quiet when we drove over there. When we got there we found that there were fifteen guys staying in a three-bedroom cabin. Daveth, the guy in charge, said they'd pooled their money to rent it. There were sleeping bags everywhere, and some guys were asleep on the chairs. I recognized Jory, a linebacker from the football team who keeps repeating Algebra because he doesn't get it. But he leads the team in tackles, so it's all good.

Anyway, Daveth said that they knew Cailan couldn't possibly score with all the girls that were going to be here, so they figured they had a chance of picking up some for themselves. I didn't ask them what kind of girls were going to want to come back to a place so stuffed full of guys people were sleeping in chairs.

We spent most of the day on the runs. Well, by 'spent' I mean stood around a lot because the papps were taking pictures of Cailan and his brother Alistair on the half-pipe. Yeah, I get that landing a 720 helicopter flipflopwhatever without breaking your neck is tough. Does that mean the whole mountain has to be shut down so some idiot from "Ferelden People" can get some pix? Andraste's tits.

I tried to help Elissa on the beginner slopes, but she wanted to 'go see the boarders'—duh. After a while I gave up and let her go with Gilmore. He wouldn't let anything happen to her. Jowan and I started a sweet little fort in the trees, where we could hang out with Tommy Howe who just happened to bring a pretty good stash from Amaranthine.

We were getting into bed when Iona got a call on her cell. She said something and the girls all took off. Anders gave me a look so we figured we'd better go after them. We get down to the main room just in time to see Elissa kneeling on the pool table while Cailan shot the 8 ball between her legs. She looked just great in her little short nightgown with pink nugs all over it. The papps were going nuts taking pictures. Dad is going to kill me.

When we got back to the room we almost tripped over Lily and Jowan on the floor. They'd gotten some pay-per-view porn on the TV and decided to go for it right there in the middle of the room. He'd better pay for that shit because I am not going to try to explain that to Dad.

Tonight was Casino Night in the Lodge.

Everyone was given a roll of tickets to spend at the tables. There was a cute little ginger Orlesian singer called Leliana doing covers of Britney and Mariah songs in front of the big stone fireplace. She had a nug on a leash and the girls all thought it was 'cute'. Lily and Jowan found the buffet table right away and spent most of the night eating shrimp cocktail. I wanted to try some of the games, so I went to the blackjack tables with Anders. Nate Howe and this metrosexual Antivan elf named Zevran were already there. Zevran sounds just like the sodding Nasonex bee.

Nate's a little older than Tommy. He's captain of the hockey team, so he's OK. The Antivan was a different story, but with Anders there I thought we'd be fine. Cullen eventually joined us. He said something about being a Templar student and Zevran immediately started calling him Chantry Boy.

Right around one they started the prize drawings. Alistair would pull the ticket out of the box, he'd read the number, and somebody would get a prize. Turns out half the tickets were good, which naturally meant that I had the half that weren't worth shit. Cailan had this huge roll of tickets for himself and Alistair. Every time one of theirs won, Cailan took the prize and gave it to some girl. Alistair seemed to be pretty cool with that until one of theirs won the week for two at Disneyworld. When Cailan handed the tickets to Leliana, I thought Alistair was going to cry.

Cullen won a plasma TV, Iona got a gold bracelet from Cailan, and Morrigan won a set of golf clubs. It's a good thing she actually won them instead of having Cailan give them to her, because I think she'd have hit him with a driver or something. Elissa won a couple of pairs of tickets for some concerts, so that means I'll at least get to go to those and make sure she stays out of trouble.

The big prize was a new car, and of course Cailan won. He strolled around the room with the keys while everything with ovaries stared at him. After wandering around for a few minutes he handed the keys to Wynne, an older lady from the Mage Circle who was there as some kind of chaperone. She blushed and started fanning herself when he kissed her hand.

It's probably a good thing that Elissa didn't win the car. I don't think I could stand seeing a gold Prius every day.