Goldenlocks and His Seven BFFs
"Once upon a time, in a bustling keep near the Waking Sea, lived Goldenlocks and his seven Best Friends Forever…"
"Hang on a tic! It was Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
"Listen, kid, who's telling this bedtime story, you or me?"
"Oh right. Sorry about that, Chief."
"And it's dwarves, not dwarfs. And while we're at it, it's elves, not elfs."
"Dwarves and elves. You don't call more than one roof roofs, do you?"
"Fine, fine. You going to tell me this bedtime story or what?"
"You cheeky monkey, you'll get your tale if you'll quit interrupting. Now, where was I? Oh yes.
"Goldenlocks, also known as Anders…"
"Hold up! Aren't the people living in the Anderfels called Anders?"
"Hmmm, yes, I believe they are."
"Well what kind of idiot names their child after an entire population? What if the poor mook had been born in the Anderfels? He'd be known as Anders, the Anders from the Anderfels. Someone didn't think that name through very well."
"The same can be said for the whole story of the 'poor mook.' Now hush up and close your eyes before you're the poor mook."
"Alright, alright. No need to get your knickers in a twist."
"Now you've made me lose my…oh no, there it is. Once upon a time…"
"Oh what an adorable kitty. Can I keep him Commander Guinevere?"
The commander rolled her eyes but Anders batted his eyelashes and he won. The woman was putty in his hands, melted putty. He smiled at her and then picked up the kitty in question, a lovely ginger striped thing that purred and nestled against his chest.
"Who's the cute and adorable one?" he cooed. "And from this day forth, you shall be called Ser Pounce-A-Lot and be my best friend forever."
"Come on, Goldenlocks, can't you come up with a better name than that? Golem, the Wonder Kitten? Jewelsnatcher the Beast? He'll become a sissy with a name like that," Oghren rumbled around his food-flecked beard.
"Ah, I think it's cute. Can I hold him, Anders? Can I, huh?" Sigrun asked, bouncing in place and grinning so brightly that the sun sighed with envy.
"You should just drown that scrawny thing and put it out of its misery," Nathaniel suggested with a dark smile. "I'll do it for you," he offered hopefully.
"There is no justice in killing an innocent, Nathaniel. I thought we'd had that discussion," boomed Justice, scratching his decomposing host's nose.
"The Dalish do not abide cats. Those creatures helped spread the diseases that destroyed Arlathan," Velanna remarked coldly. She turned her back on the disagreeable tableau before her.
"It would seem, Commander, that we have a new recruit. Shall I prepare a Joining for Ser Pounce-A-Lot?" Varel intoned in his gravelly and very officious voice.
"That's not necessary, Varel. And why do you know the Warden secrets anyway? Oh never mind, that's not germane to this tale, is it?"
"As you say, Commander."
Ser Pounce-A-Lot accompanied the Wardens on all their missions. He was there when the plot to assassinate Commander Guinevere was uncovered and there when that bit - biddy Esmerelle was killed. He was there when they saved Amaranthine and there when the citizens broke out in wild applause at their bravery. He was there when the Architect tried to talk them in to letting him live. Yeah, like that was going to happen. And he was there when the many tentacled Broodmother finally met her demise. But with each of these adventures, he lost one of his nine lives.
He was a cat among cats, courageous and bold and a wonderful mouser. He learned how to communicate with Anders. He was content with his lot most days.
He was not, however, happy when the commander moved into Anders's bedchamber. He watched in disgust as Anders and Guinevere did the horizontal tango and he became jealous of the attention that Anders lavished on her. One night, when the commander was still at her desk working and Anders was alone in his room, the cat whispered to Anders, "You know she only wants sex, she doesn't love you."
"Shut up, you. I love her. I love all women. You're just jealous. Maybe I can find you a female cat. That will cheer you up."
"Meh, seen one pussy, seen 'em all."
"Well, what do you want? What will make my cute and adorable kitty happy?" Anders cooed in his cutesy pootsie voice.
"Get rid of the Commander. She takes up too much room on the bed and she doesn't like me. When you're sleeping she does mean things to me. And listen to Justice, he's a righteous dude."
"Justice? He's a stick in the mud! Justice this, injustice that. The man-spirit-thing is boring."
"Are you kidding? That guy has super powers. Listen to him, do what he tells you and the sky is the limit, my friend."
And because Anders loved Ser Pounce-A-Lot above all others, he went in search of Justice, who was sitting outside on an upper battlement. Nobody could stand the smell of him anymore and no amount of aroma therapy could alter the pungent smell of rotting flesh.
"Ser Pounce-A-Lot suggested I come and talk to you," the mage said, sitting upwind of the husk.
"Indeed? He is a wise cat. He and I have devised a most ingenious plan. I propose a merger of our interests, Anders."
"I have learned what love is by experiencing Kristoff's emotions for Aura. I understand you love your cat more than anyone or anything. I sense your concern for him. You want your cat to live a long life but he has used up eight of his lives. One more and he'll die. I can ensure that he lives beyond that, but it will not come without a price. Justice dictates that there's no such thing as a free lunch."
Anders scratched his head and shrugged. "If it means that Ser Pounce-A-Lot lives a long and happy life, I'm up with that."
And so it came to pass that Justice and Anders merged. Like any merger, it was not without its headaches. One of them reared its head rather quickly.
"Get rid of the commander."
"She is a woman. I prefer men. Maybe hit on Nathaniel. He's got that whole smoldering, broody thing going on."
"I thought you learned about love from Kristoff?"
"I did. He loved Aura like a sister. He loved men for sex."
"But I love women for sex and men like sisters…I mean brothers."
"Then I suppose we'll have to be celibate."
"That got your attention, didn't it?"
"Wait, I'm rethinking this whole merger thing. I want to be on top."
"You have a choice, Anders. Do as I say and have a nice life or disobey me and the cat dies."
"What about a compromise? I'll sleep with men sometimes and women sometimes. That's what we call a win-win situation."
"That will do nicely. Now, let us leave this place. I have a desire to see some other part of the world. Preferably somewhere without dogs."
"What? No, my BFF's are here. And Ser Pounce. Besides, you said you didn't have desires."
"Are you arguing with me again, Anders?"
A vision of poor Ser Pounce-A-Lot's broken body appeared in Anders's head. "No! You promised he would live!" The vision faded.
"Fine. Let me pack a few things and grab Ser Pounce and we'll leave."
Anders went upstairs to his room but when he opened the door it was to find Guinevere standing over a mangled cat. Ser Pounce was tango uniform and Guinevere, scratched and bloody, looked up apologetically.
Anders froze, unable to think or move. His wonderful cat. His BFF. And ever.
"Oh dear. I have some good news and some bad news, Anders. The good news is you are now the most powerful mage in Thedas. The bad news is Pounce is dead and his spirit is now elsewhere."
"Well go into the Fade and get it!"
"I cannot. Our merging has made that impossible."
"Fat lot of good that did me."
He turned his wrath on his commander. She was mumbling something incoherent.
"He – he just came at me, Anders. It was either him or me. I had no choice."
A murderous rage filled Anders. "Noooooooo! Not my precious!" he roared in a terrible, booming voice. Blue magic burst from him and the commander erupted into flames before exploding in a messy shower of blood, bone and various other bits.
Wiping the goo from his face, Andes knelt beside his beautiful kitty, his precious. "They will all pay for this!" he vowed and his need for vengeance grew.
"That's my boy."
"Shut up and help me."
Anders went through the keep with murderous intent. He found Varel first. "You want to know what it's like to be a Warden? I'll show you!" Anders cried. He tied the man up and then went to create the Joining mixture.
"Drink this and be a real Warden!"
Varel choked and sputtered, his eyes rolling back and then he fell forward, his head striking the desk. "Yeah, I didn't think so, old man."
Next he found Oghren, who was sitting in the dining hall, drinking a flagon of ale. "Enough of that piss you call booze, Oghren. Let's see how you do with real alcohol!"
"Hey, Sparklefingers, you look a might upset. Tell old Oggie all about it," the dwarf mumbled, bleary-eyed.
Anders smiled as he poured the poison into Oghren's flagon. Oghren tossed it back in one gulp. "Now that'll grow hair on that lily white chest of yours, Goldenlocks!" the dwarf cried and then grabbed his throat. "Ancestor's tits! What's in this stuff?"
"Just something to give it a bit more kick."
Oghren spluttered and choked and fell backwards, hitting his head on the stone floor.
He found Sigrun and Velanna discussing plants out in the garden. Anders destroyed them both with a blue fireball. Pounce had been right, Justice was powerful and together they really rocked.
Last he spied Nathaniel, sitting cross-legged in the practice yard, polishing his…bow.
"Let us make love with him before we kill him, Anders. He is so hot, sitting there with those broody eyes."
"No way. That'd be like kissing my brother. Irk."
"Very well, but you owe me a broody man when we get to wherever we're going."
"Fine, fine, now give me some of that power of yours."
"Only if you do something about those blonde locks of yours. I prefer dark hair."
"Well I like my hair, suck it up."
A stab of pain shot through him. Anders sighed. "Fine, we'll compromise. How about a dirty blonde color?"
"One more thing and I shall augment your powers, Anders."
Anders rolled his eyes. "What now?"
"You have too soft and kind a voice. You are now the most powerful mage in all of Thedas. You need to sound like it."
"You want me to change my voice?"
"Exactly. You must let me speak for us."
"No way. How about a compromise?" Anders asked, lowering his voice and rounding his vowels. He rather liked the results.
"Very well. Now let us be finished here."
They left Vigil's Keep several minutes later. Anders found his way to Kirkwall, determined to find justice for all the cats in Thedas. Justice swore to help as long as he got his broody man.
"What a load of hooey. You're telling me that Anders killed all his BFFs, ran off to Kirkwall, the Crazy Capital of Thedas, used his new BFFs to start a mage rebellion, blew up a chantry full of innocent people and all because his cat died? You suck as a storyteller."
"Believe me, it's better than that crap the head writer gave us."
"Huh? What's a headwaiter got to do with the story?"
"No, not a headwai…hmmm, actually that may explain why the story they expect us to believe is such twaddle.
"Now, go to sleep, my cheeky monkey, and have good dreams."
"Yeah, like that's going to happen."