A/N: A recent Cheeky Monkey Challenge was entitled: In Which the Warden Dies. Most of the answers were beautiful, heartbreaking and poignant. This…not so much. I thought we needed a dose of humor.
For those reading With Noble Intent, fear not. This is NOT how the end of that story goes. This is just a response to the challenge and not canon for With Noble Intent.
With No Intent, Noble or Otherwise
Joss had meant to tell them all sooner. When she'd first learned about it from Morrigan, she'd meant to march right over to her Wardens and tell them the bad news, but Teagan and his damned marriage proposal had made her forget all about it. He was good at making her forget just about everything.
The next time she remembered, she was just about to gather the Wardens up and tell them all the really cheery news when Teagan explained that he was actually betrothed to Elissa "Buns of Steel" Cousland and Joss had lost her train of thought in a shower of purple grapes.
The third time she remembered, they were knee-deep in fighting the Cult of the Damned, who thought Joss and company wanted to kill Andraste, who the Cultists believed was the High Dragon flying around the mountains frying anyone who was foolish enough to provoke it. As if. But after taking one for the team –right between the eyes, no less – Joss was not in the mood to do more than whimper and bitch at them for not protecting her better.
The fourth and fifth times she was distracted by brooding mothers and falling anvils respectively, and was so tired and depressed she wanted nothing more than a bath, bed and bourbon, in no particular order, and a romp with Teagan, her semi-betrothed, and the best lay she'd ever had.
And so on and so on until the night they stood in a wretched little group, staring at Riordan like he was the Archdemon.
"What? Didn't Duncan tell you?" Riordan asked with a smarmy smile that made Joss want to transmogrify him into a toad. That wasn't fair, really, and she knew it; and for the first time since she'd left the tower, she showed a modicum of self control. She zapped him with a bolt of lightning instead. Elissa and Alistair giggled as the man's dark locks floated around his head like a hairy halo.
"Do not worry, my new friends, I'll make the killing blow and you can just clean up the blood and take the bows."
That seemed fair enough. And bloody heroic, to boot. Maker's hairy ass knew she wasn't about to take the killing blow. She smiled her best 'look at me being all compassionate and kind' smile and patted the senior Warden, who was, upon closer examination, very attractive. If one was into the dark, mysterious and dangerous types. She thought of the very attractive bann waiting for her in her room and sighed. Falling in love really had put a serious crimp in her love life. It was unnatural how faithful she was to Teagan.
Joss left the other Wardens 'oohing' and 'aahing' over the brave Orlesian Warden and went in search of Teagan to spread the good word. Among other things. She was not a good Grey Warden. She thought Grey Warden secrets were about as smart as the Darkspawn Chronicles, an off-Denerim production that had not done well with the masses. At. All.
Teagan's reaction to the news was to demand to be made a Grey Warden so that he could make the killing blow. Joss thought that was exceptionally noble of him and completely insane. She remarked on the latter, loudly, in the form of an expletive or three. Possibly more. He didn't give in until she swore she wouldn't make the sacrifice either. Well, doh!
When they arrived in Denerim two days later, all of them protecting Riordan as if he was Andraste reborn, it was to a maelstrom of death, destruction and darkspawn. The dreaded Three Ds. Not to worry, she glibly informed her Wardens, Riordan had a plan.
"I'll climb to the top of that tower over there and throw myself on the Archdemon and sink my pointy sword into his brain. That should do the trick."
Had someone sunk a pointy sword into his brain? The plan had absolutely no chance of success. At. All. Joss cleared her throat to mention that to the very brave, very idiotic, Warden. She was determined to be cool and reasonable. She was, after all, the Acting Warden Commander of The Grey of Ferelden and the title called for some dignity.
"What? Are you completely insane? As in crazy, nuts, cuckoo, loony?" she screeched in a very high, thin voice. Her group clapped their hands over their ears, all except one.
Sister Bats-in-her- Belfry chirped, "Do not listen to her, my fellow countryman. She has been saying the same of me for a year and yet here I am."
As if that didn't prove Josslyn's point? It was, for the Maker's sake, raining blood. And bits of things that – ew - resembled body parts. The Archdemon was so pissed off he was spitting fire and belching smoke at anything that moved. And he looked about as tough as a mountain.
"It'll be a piece of cake," Riordan assured and, with a flourishing bow, he disappeared into a rather ominous-looking cloud of red smoke.
She glanced at her fellow Wardens. The decision of who would make the killing blow should Riordan fail, and it seemed bloody likely that he was going to, would be hers to make. She would rather kiss Wynne on the lips. She looked away again before anyone could catch her eye.
"So, how's about we go find these generals and make sure they can't cause any trouble?" she asked nonchalantly, wondering if whistling a carefree tune might be too much, and decided it would be.
They hacked and slashed their way through the streets of Denerim. Just as they reached the palace grounds Joss heard a high-pitched wail coming from the sky but getting closer by the second. That couldn't be good. At. All. Before she could decide what to do, there was a very nauseating thud that rattled the few remaining windows in the vicinity.
"Alrighty then, I have some good news and some bad news," Joss began, searching her brain for any good news she could think off.
"Oh, he wounded the Archdemon! It's falling onto the top of Fort Drakon!" Sister Peaches-and-Cream called out with a merry smile.
"The good news is the Archdemon is wounded!" Joss called, grateful for the first and only time, for Leliana's company. "Er, the bad news is the Archdemon is only wounded!" she added, shrugging. No sense in sugar-coating it.
"Who's going to strike the killing blow and save the world?"
Silence. Pin-dropping, cessation-of-hostilities silence hit them in the face, as if even the darkspawn were curious as to who would do the foul deed. All eyes were fastened on Joss, who thought about, but quickly discarded, the notion of turning herself into a frog and hopping away before anyone was the wiser.
"Wardens, choose a number between one and twenty. Don't tell me. Whisper it to Zev. I'll pick a number and the one who is closest to it gets to kill the Archdemon and have a snazzy monument built in their honor. How's that sound?"
Sadly, Jowan was the unlucky bloke and he sighed. "I should have just let them kill me in the Tower."
"True enough, but think of the fun you've had since you escaped. And all the countryside you got to see," Joss said cheerfully, slapping him on the back.
"Thanks, I'm feeling much more upbeat now. Oh wait. No, I'm not!"
Joss shrugged and they continued battling their way from pillar to post and then they were fighting inside Fort Drakon. When they came to the torture-chamber where Loghain's cronies had imprisoned them a few weeks earlier, Joss let loose with her entire arsenal of primal spells. Even the bars were melted.
"And the flowers are still standing!" Alistair exclaimed in awe.
Joss rolled her eyes and shot a flaming bolt at the offending flowers, which disintegrated with a very satisfying shower of petals.
By the time they arrived on the rooftop, they were all exhausted and Jowan was still whining about his imminent death.
"Jowan, do not fret. The Maker will take you up in his arms," Leliana of the Blessed Bimbos comforted.
"Except I'm a blood mage," he groused.
"Oh. I shall pray for you."
"Pray later, shoot now," Joss instructed.
It took almost an hour to wear the Archdemon down to the point where his death was a sure thing. Alistair handed Jowan a sword, the weight of which made Jowan stumble forward. They grouped around their friend and comrade, offering words of wisdom and farewell to the poor wretch. Joss pulled Jowan close and gave him as toe-curling a kiss as she could manage under the circumstances and shoved him forward. He was holding the sword by the pommel, not the grip, and Joss ran after him.
"Jowan, if you try to stick him like that, you'll fall on your face!" she howled over the roaring Archdemon, who wasn't too thrilled about being killed. Go figure. Exasperated, hot and tired, she grabbed the sword by the grip and held it out, flexing it, demonstrating how to kill the bloody dragon.
Several things happened at once. Wynne, standing apart from them and healing as needed, decided she could be of more use by casting a fireball at the Archdemon. Zevran and Leliana finally got the ballista working and hit the Archdemon with a huge iron-tipped bolt. Joss pointed the sword at the Archdemon and turned to smile encouragingly at Jowan, whose eyes were the size of saucers.
"Joss!" Alistair yelped.
Joss turned back to look at him and his eyes were also the size of saucers. Well that wasn't good.
"What?" she snarled and then turned back to face the Archdemon again, just as it began to collapse on her upheld sword.
"Oh no you don't!" Joss cried out at the Archdemon. Oh yes it did.
The explosion knocked them all on their asses and by the time they got back on their feet they discovered the only thing left of Joss was a pair of serviceable Tower-issued boots. Wynne gathered them up in the hopes of sending them back to the tower for re-use.
"Well," Alistair whistled softly. "I have some good news and some bad news…"