Tales of Telluria: Birthright and DeathRight

Grunkle Caldo's Bed Time Story

For Impressionable Children Only & Never to be repeated to Korra

A story? You want a story? I got stories. I’m fulla stories. Let me think…

Once upon a time, there was a handsome swashbucklin’ adventurous Renaarian, footloose and care-free. He was sort of a business man, and sometimes business is good, and sometimes not so good, and when it’s not so good is always just the time when everyone wants their bets paid up and he’s got to find a place to lay low but if you spend a few hours every week in the castle than they think you’re a big shot with connections. So this adventurer…

What? No, it’s not about me. It’s a common story. What you call a universal theme.

You want something from a book?

Kids. Don’t you know nothing good comes from a book? Books are traps to keep the smart people from taking over.

Okay, okay. Gimme a book. I don’t care, any book. No, not that fat book. Fat books are the worst. That skinny book over there, gimme that.

Okay.

Once upon a time, see, there was a curious little girl named Goldilocks. Thick curly golden hair, like they was done up with a curling iron. She and her family lived right up against the forest. Probably some kinda farmer. Rubes, all of ‘em. What? Sure, the book says that.

One morning Goldilocks was out picking flowers and wandered into the forest. She walked and walked and walked until she saw a cottage in the distance.

This cottage, three bears lived in it. Papa Bear was a big guy, the kinda guy you take with you when you want to make an impression but don’t feel like talking. Mama Bear, she was just regular bear-sized. Still pretty big. And there was Baby Bear. Sometimes you call a really big guy Baby or Tiny or Junior.

The three bears were eating breakfast, but their porridge – I think that’s oatmeal – was too hot to eat. So they went for a walk while it cooled. Right as they left through the back door, Goldilocks slipped in through the front.

Sly. I like this Goldilocks.

Maybe they left it unlocked. That’s important, kids. If you have to force the lock, it’s B&E. If you don’t, it’s just trespassing, which is only a misdemeanor. They really oughta explain these things if this book is supposed to educate you.

So first thing she came in, she smelled the sweet, steamy porridge. “I’ll have just one bite,” she said.

This is a thing people do. You visit a guy’s place and he’s not there, he’s hiding out, you leave a mark to let him know you were there – a card, a drawing of his kids with a note, something like that. Then he knows you mean business, and maybe you don’t have to visit him again. Eating his porridge is a little what they call ambiguous, but whatever.

I don’t know why she needs to send these bears a message. Maybe she really is hungry. Maybe we’ll find out.

First she put her muzzle in Papa Bear’s great big bowl. “Ow!” she yelled. “Too hot!”

So then she tried Mama Bear’s medium-sized bowl. “Brrrrr! Too cold!”

She sure talks a lot for somebody casing a joint. That’s why talking to yourself is a bad habit, kids. Looking at you there Petra.

Finally, Goldilocks took a lick from Baby Bear’s tiny little bowl, and it tasted great. “This is just right!” she said. And she ate it all up.

What the hell? She…

Who wrote this book?

Hell? That’s a place where all the high rollers go, and they shoot craps and play poker all night long, which is forever because the night never ends, and if you say “Hell!” enough you might get to go there. But it’s a bad word, so only say it if you’re really angry.

Okay, okay. Back to the story.

After walking around the forest all day, Goldilocks was a little tired. “I need to sit down for a while to rest my sore feet!” she thought.

What? Sit down and rest in the middle of a job?

No. Kids. This is all wrong. Who can tell me what Goldilocks’ first big mistake was? Besides living on the edge of a goddamn forest, which is for small fry.

No, Petra. Going into the cottage was a good call. You have to take opportunities when they come.

Good guess, Bonabelle, but I figure she’s got a knife or something on her. Even farmers aren’t that dumb, to run around without some kind of protection.

That’s right, [Jeffrey Character]! She should’ve gone through the place fast, finding the exits, getting the layout and inventory so she could come back later with a cart and somebody to stand guard duty. There’s no money in a grab-and-dash, not usually.

This book, you can tell it was written by somebody who worked a day job, never pulled a heist or a con in his life. Maybe read a few novels. No, I figure it really happened something like this:

Goldilocks scanned the downstairs for valuables. In the foyer was an ink block print of the senate. “This print is too cheap,” she said, “you can buy one for a dozen silver!”

In the living room, over the sofa, was a gold-framed oil painting that said it was by Master Vetruvius. “This painting’s too valuable, would bring on too much heat, and I wouldn’t know where to fence it,” she said. “It’s outta my league." So she left it on the wall and made a mental note to try to find out if it was an original and who would pay her a finder’s fee on it.

Finally, upstairs in the master bedroom she found a framed sketch by Turner. “This one’s just right!” she said. She knew that taking it might make the bears take out an insurance policy on the big painting, and those insurance agencies can be a bitch, but that would be somebody else’s problem. She grabbed the sketch and went for the drawers.

What? A bitch is like, say, somebody who says you have to eat the same old broccoli every day, while she’s secretly got ice cream waiting for her in the freezer, some fancy neapolitan number, that you know she sneaks out and eats while you’re away. And the ice cream just sits there and smirks at you when you see it, acting innocent, like you’re too dumb to know what’s up. So you and your buddies come in one night with a blowtorch and melt the –

You know what, ask your mother. Tell me what she says. Now where was I?

The first drawer was full of earrings and cheap trinkets. “This stuff’s too common,” she said, and shut the drawer and went on to the next one.

The second drawer had more useless kitsch jewelry, but it was inside a big quartz jewelry case, with “MOMMA BEAR” etched on the front. “This case isn’t common enough,” she said. Engraved jewelry and such is always trouble. She shut the drawer and went on to the next one.

The third drawer had some nice emeralds and rubies, set in lockets and stuff, but pry them out and nobody can tell where they came from. “These stones are just right!” she said, and stuffed them in her bags.

Just then, the three bears returned home from their walk, and they walked right in on Goldilocks. Because she didn’t have nobody standing watch. They saw her standing there with their Turner sketch and her saddlebags full of their jewels, and they didn’t even call the guards. Papa Bear said a few words, Mama Bear laid down some big sheets of plastic, and Baby Bear tore her to shreds on the spot. Then they put her in their porridge and ate her all up.

Like I said, she shoulda had a friend watching for them. Remember, kids: Friends are important. That’s, like, a moral or something…

Hey, look, your mommas are here and I’m off the clock. Go on, you little bums, get outta here. Sweet dreams and remember you gotta steal like nobody’s watching, you punch like you’ll never be hurt, and slander like there’s nobody listening!

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