Yasha had decided she didn't care for boats. The trip to Tal'Dorei had admittedly been a great deal less exciting than her previous experience on a ship, but there was something about being confined in a small area, unable to escape...it was too familiar to be comfortable. Luckily, having Sprinkle had helped, and the trip to the continent proper hadn't taken long. Emon was a huge city, and finding one cleric in this sea of people was going to be difficult. Hefting her bag over her shoulder, mindful of the weasel sleeping around her neck, Yasha headed into the city proper, expecting a long search for a cleric of Sarenrae.
It, surprisingly, didn’t take her very long.
When asked, the first person who seemed to pop into the heads of the people of Emon was a woman named Pike Trickfoot. Gnomish lass, good head on her shoulders, some said to Yasha, comes here sometimes to keep an eye on things. When asked where she was, however, the answers tended to vary. Some said she could be found in Vasselheim, others in Westruun, still others in some place called Whitestone. This Trickfoot woman seemed to like travel, or at least, like Yasha herself, followed her god wherever She guided her.
But everyone did agree: she’d be in town for the Anniversary. When Yasha asked about that, she learned of the Siege of Emon, when a party called Vox Machina, of which this Pike was a member, led the charge in taking back the city from a great red dragon that had conquered it, killing the last of the sovereigns in the process. Everyone else also agreed: to find Pike, you could either check the temple of Sarenrae, the old Greyskull Keep where Vox Machina used to live...
...or one of the bars in Emon where she and some old friends were drinking.
Yasha didn't like the idea of going and looking in somebody's old house, so the temple and a bar were her options. She decided on the bar option first, though it took several tries before she was pointed in the right direction. The bar quieted for a moment as Yasha entered, Sprinkle briefly popping his head up at the drop in noise as people turned to observe the newcomer. The revelry quickly resumed, however, and she stepped inside, scanning the room, looking for a gnome with white hair.
Said gnome with white hair was seated near the back. She and her friends—a goliath who had a beard and another gnome in purple—turned to look at Yasha with the rest of the bar patrons, but when the interest in her faded, they turned away, their attention on another gnome up on the stage.
As Yasha drew closer, she could make out the conversation.
“—got a new book coming?” the goliath was saying. “S’it gonna have a lot of boobies in it?”
“Yes, Grog,” said the gnome in purple, sounding amused. “I put in lots of boobies, specifically for you.”
The gnome with the white hair snickered, and said, “Well, what about the dashing sailor heroine?”
“She’s in there too!” said the gnome in purple. “I wouldn’t leave my beloved Pike out of the fun now, would I?”
She had a few options. She could try and get a drink, grab a chair and listen in, and wait for the right moment. She could stand there awkwardly. She could just leave, an idea that suddenly looked very appealing.
But then she thought of Molly. How she'd never see him smile or hear him laugh again...how he'd died trying to save her.
She could be brave, for him.
"Um. Excuse me...sorry, but is one of you Pike Trickfoot?"
Gods, please let this work. Please let this woman give her her best friend back.
The conversation stopped.
The white-haired gnome turned to Yasha and looked at her; the first thing that stood out about her was how, despite the fact that just moments ago she was discussing boobs and dashing heroes with her friend and her lover, there was something wise in her eyes. Something like she’d seen the worst of people and yet, had come out of it still believing in the best of them.
“I’m Pike Trickfoot,” she said. “The big guy’s my best friend Grog—”
Grog waved and said, “Bidet!”
“—and this is my husband Scanlan,” Pike continued.
“Bidet to you too,” said Scanlan, dryly.
“What do you need?” Pike asked.
"I'm sorry to bother you..."
She swung the sack over onto the table. Despite the size, it wasn't too heavy, but it held all the gold she had, along with any bit of treasure she'd gotten during her work in the service of the Stormlord. She hoped it would be enough.
"I need your help. My friend, Molly...I need help bringing him back and I was told you were the one to speak to."
She didn't mention her dream, holding onto that information as a last resort.
Pike blinked at her, then at the sack, as if surprised. Then she turned to her friend and her husband and said, “Can you tell Kaylie I thought her performance was really good? This,” she gestured between herself and Yasha, “is something private.”
“Oh, sure,” said Scanlan. “She’ll be glad to hear it.”
“Great,” said Pike, hopping off the chair. “Don’t drink all the ale without me,” she said to Grog.
“I make no promises,” said Grog.
Pike chuckled, but looked up at Yasha now. It was strange, because one moment she would be warmly joking with her friends, the next she looked at Yasha and something about her said she was looking right at Yasha’s soul .
“Let’s take this outside,” she said. “And you should take your bag with you. We’ll talk about payment after this, not right now.” She held her hand up to take Yasha’s, to guide her to a place outside the bar where they could talk in peace.
Yasha nodded, wordlessly picking up her bag and following the gnome outside. It was an odd sight, this large woman following a gnome, holding her hand.
"Thank you, for at least agreeing to listen to me," she said, voice soft.
“It’s nothing,” said Pike, taking her to a bench under a large tree. She hopped up onto it to take a seat. “What’s your name?” she asked.
"Yasha," she responded, sitting next to Pike. One hand went to pet Sprinkle as she tried to calm her nerves. "I think...I think you might be the only person who can help me."
Pike seemed to go still on hearing her name and she looked up at Yasha now. She tilted her head and squinted, then exhaled softly. “Oh,” she said. “I wondered.”
Whatever it was she wondered, she didn’t clarify, but she nodded.
“Your friend, this Molly,” she said, “how long has it been? And—why do you want to bring him back, so badly?”
"It's....been a few months. Too long," she said quietly, staring at her hands for a moment. "He's my best friend, he died trying to save me...I can't just leave him alone, in the dirt."
She hesitated for a moment, before telling Pike about her dream. The snapdragon, the storm, the light...
Yasha didn't know why, but she felt at ease talking to the gnome cleric. Like she could tell her anything and she would understand. Like she could tell her what she'd done, and she'd be forgiven.
Pike listened to her, attentive and quiet. Sometimes she would ask a question, here and there, for clarification, but otherwise she didn’t interrupt Yasha’s talk of her dream. And, after Yasha had told her all she could, Pike chewed on her bottom lip, and sighed. “I can’t guarantee it’ll be successful,” she said. “The soul has to want to come back, and there’s a great deal of things that could go very, very badly.” Then she paused. “But I can try if you give me a few days to get my things together,” she said, taking her hand and squeezing tight. “Where is he now?”
Ah. Well, that was the difficult part. She looked a bit sheepish as she said, "He's buried on the Glory Run Road...in Wildemount." She pushed the bag with her money forward, eyes sad. "It's not much, but it's all I have. Please."
Pike shook her head, and pushed the bag back towards Yasha. “I’m all right,” she said. “I’m not hurting for money or diamonds. You might need it more than I do, and I have a feeling so will your friend, if he decides to come back.”
Then she let her hand fall away, back to her side.
“I know someone who can get us to Wildemount in the blink of an eye,” she said. “But I’d need to talk to her first. She and a few of our friends are coming to town tomorrow and—I can introduce you to them. If you’re staying?” she asked, hope creeping into her tone.
Yasha nodded, smiling a little for the first time. If Molly chose not to come back, then she would accept he was gone and that he chose to rest. But she had to try. For the first time in months, for the first time since it happened, she had hope she'd see him again.
"Thank you," she said, voice just a little friendlier than before.
“You’re welcome,” said Pike, hopping off now and walking on back. Then she stopped, turned on her heel to look back at Yasha. Something about the way she looked at her said she was searching for something in Yasha’s appearance, but what it was didn’t seem clear.
“Are you coming?” she asked. “Kaylie might still be playing.”
She hesitated for a moment, before nodding, following behind Pike. She was a little surprised the woman had asked her to join her, but it was kind of her. She couldn't turn her down.
Percy would never get over the ease of travelling with Keyleth. After so many years adventuring without the simple ability to open a portal in a tree, any tree, even a bush, regular travel seemed almost tedious unless the purpose of it was pure luxury. Vex, he knew, felt a bit differently; certainly Keyleth's way of travel was efficient, and often required such immediacy, but Vex also loved the simple pleasures (and hardships) of rudimentary travel and nights spent asleep under tree and star, with no blanket but the sky. He loved that about her, and would never begrudge her the occasional 'camping trip', but when facilitating travel between Whitestone and Emon, there was nothing like simply stepping through the shivering black abyss of a tree portal and ending up precisely where they were meant to be, when they desired to be there. Like the tree in the courtyard of Greyskull Keep, for instance.
Vex also enjoyed travelling by broom or flying carpet, loving the feeling of the wind in her hair, being surrounded by sky and stars...but as much as she loved flight, it didn't serve well for long distance travel. And after decades of transportation via plants, she was used to the rapid form of travel. Intimate camping was for adventures closer to home. And it was odd, she thought, how Greyskull Keep no longer felt like home, despite being the first real place she'd set down roots. It just...it wasn't the same, anymore. It had been odd after Tiberius left, heartbreaking when they'd had to flee during the Conclave, and now, without Vax...it was just another place she used to live.
Ah, but there wasn't time for maudlin thoughts. She and Percy were here for a celebration, and she was going to try and enjoy herself.
Cheerily, Keyleth emerged from behind them and the portal closed, leaving the three friends standing alone in the courtyard. Percy looked around and heard..."Nothing. Not a single thing. Must be drunk asleep." He shook his head fondly. "Well, it is our home away from home, technically. Shall we go in?"
"Yes, let's go settle in," Vex responded with a smile.
Keyleth watched as the two of them started off towards their old rooms, patting the tree in the courtyard fondly before following behind them, trying to remember what their schedule for this trip was supposed to look like.
Then Vex stopped at the foot of the stair. "Your old room or mine this time, darling?"
"Hmm. Yours, dear. Fond memories there." He couldn't help but smirk, thinking back and could sense (a thrill going up his spine as he did) Vex's delight at his answer. It was their first time away from Whitestone since their youngest, twins Cassie and Gregory, had been born, and the first instance where Vex and Percy had come alone, leaving the twins in their elder sibling's capable hands. Percy couldn't help but be nervous and he knew that Vex was too, though less so. Regardless of how many children they had together - at this point, he wasn't sure how many more that would be, if any - Percy always felt the same unpleasant coiling in his gut at the thought of leaving them behind.
"Excellent choice, darling," she responded, leaning in to quickly kiss Percy's cheek. She could already see some of his nerves kicking in, and she could hardly blame him, not when the lingering fear of something happening to her children was always lurking in the back of her mind. They would be fine, she repeated to herself over and over before leaving. Elaina was nearly grown up, more than capable of being left in charge. The children were safe in Whitestone, surrounded by family and allies. It was nothing like...no. They would be fine. For her sake and her husband's, she wouldn't think about the worst case scenario that still haunted them both.
"So! What's the plan? I know we're meant to meet with Scanlan and Pike later, but we have some time to ourselves now..." Vex practically purred, wrapping her arm around Percy's. "Any ideas?" There were positives to leaving the children behind, after all, like a little more private time...
Percy smiled at the suggestive arch to her brow and her sultry tone, letting himself be pulled in against her form. Vex was loving and kind and inviting and he felt the warmth of her in his heart, pushing away his fears to the shadowed corner of his mind. "I wouldn't mind reliving the glory days, dear," he whispered in her ear, his nose bumping against her cheek intimately.
In the background, he could hear Keyleth blustering behind them, and he smiled against her hair before pulling a distance away that could be considered decent and respectable in public, while still keeping her arm about him. Not that Keyleth could be considered 'public'. Keyleth had walked in on Percy and Vex enough times that it didn't really phase her anymore...well, mostly. They'd been married for decades and still acted like a new couple...it was sweet, even if it did make Keyleth's heart ache a bit. "I'm going to go get things ready for the others," she said loudly, walking quickly past where Percy had pulled Vex. "Don't mind me, I'll be out of your hair!"
Vex laughed against Percy's lips at the flustered tone in Keyleth's voice before leaning up to kiss him.
"Down, darling. Down," Percy joked. "We've scared Keyleth off!" She always knew. She always knew how to make him smile.
As they rounded the corner, Vex and Percy were treated to the sight of a sleepy Pike just coming down the stairs, dressed, but with her hair buns a mess and stifling a yawn. "Oh! Hi Percy! Hi Vex!" Their diminutive friend's face burst into a sunny grin, and Pike quickened her stride until she was near enough for warmer greetings. "I'm glad I got up when I did! We have an unexpected guest."
Vex laughed and kissed him again before rounding the corner to a sleepy Pike. She grinned at their cleric friend, moving down to pull her into a tight hug. "It's so good to see you, Pike, how are you? A guest, you say? How mysterious. Do you and Scanlan have news to share with the group?" she teased with a smile. It really had been too long since they'd all been together...the last time she could remember was the twins birthday, and even then Scanlan hadn't been able to make it.
"Erm. No. No, this guest is quite large actually." Pike suddenly looked uncertain and Percy picked up on it automatically.
"Is something the matter, Pike?" He glances about the foyer where they stood, attempting to ascertain that anything was out of the ordinary, but Pike shook her head.
"It's...it's not like that. Why don't you two go get settled in to your room and then come find me in the kitchen?" As if considering something seriously, Pike wrung her hands a little, anxiously. "It's okay. It's not...bad. Just, go put your things away and then come downstairs." As she made her way past them, towards the guest quarters, Pike called back. "And Percy, Vex? I've really missed you."
"We've missed you too, darling. You should really visit more often!" Vex turned to Percy, a slight frown on her face. It wasn't like Pike to be worried like that, especially after all they'd seen and survived. "I wonder what has her on edge?" Vex asked when Pike was gone. She'd said it wasn't bad, but whatever it was clearly made Pike nervous and uncomfortable.
"I don't know. But I don't like it." Percy's unsettled mood was back as though it had never left. Nervous energy bubbling up within, he forced himself to follow Vex at a sedate pace as they made their way, much less enthusiastically, to their room. "Funny," he began as they divested themselves of travelling apparel and other necessities, "Pike didn't ask after Keyleth. Whatever this...this visitor is about, it really has her preoccupied."
"Hmm, you're right, that is odd..." Her frown deepened as she tried to think of what could be bothering Pike. It wasn't a baby, and if it was a stranger it likely didn't have to do with Scanlan or Grog… "Maybe this is a cleric thing?" she said, though Vex didn't sound very convinced as she said it. Something was going on, and she didn't like not knowing what. She glanced over at Percy, seeing that he seemed to be more nervous than her, wringing his hands a bit. With a quiet sigh, Vex stepped forward and took one of his hands in hers. "Percy. Darling, breathe… whatever it is, we'll face it together. And it may not be bad, Pike may just be trying to surprise us with something!"
"Vex'ahlia, my darling, that is wishful thinking if I've ever heard it. I believe her when she says it's not bad, but it's something and it has her disturbed and distracted, so it's something to be worried about. And the only surprises I like are the ones I give others, namely you and the children." Rifling through his pack, Percy pulled out a scarf. It was one of Vex's; she recognized it instantly, but he held it out to her and she found, upon taking it from him, that something was wrapped inside. "I was going to wait to give it to you, darling, but now is as good a time as any."
Lifting the gauzy blue material, Vex pulled out a charmingly wrought pocket watch. It was smaller than the one Percy had for himself, and a different shape than the one he'd made for Madeleine on her last birthday. Delicate and ovular, she turned it over in her hand, inspecting it. Into the back facing, he'd placed a soaring raven and a tiny rendition of Trinket was etched on the facet through which was linked the chain.
"Oh, Percy." Her voice was soft and fond as she ran her fingers over the etching, lingering on the raven. She could feel the tears welling in her eyes and she blinked them back, looking up at her husband, the man she loved, who she shared everything with, good and bad. "Percy, it's beautiful..."
She leaned up to kiss him again, slow and full of promise for later. "I love you, you know that, right?" Whatever Pike had to talk to them about, they could weather it together. They'd survived the unimaginable....they could survive this.
"And I love you, Vex'ahlia." His hands found their way to his wife's waist, gripping there gently. "I'm glad you like it. I thought that, considering it's the anniversary of such a..." he searched for the appropriate word, "...memorable occasion it would be an acceptable time to present you with it." Lowering his forehead to hers, Percy closed his eyes, allowing everything but Vex to leave his mind, if only for a moment.
She smiled and closed her eyes, relaxing in his presence. The Conclave had almost taken everything from them. Regardless of whatever came after, their fall was still something worth celebrating.
It was only a moment, but it felt like it lasted longer, and eventually, Vex pulled away, kissing Percy's cheek softly before taking his hand. "Once more unto the breach, my love?"
Lifting her hand to his lips, Percy kissed it. "With you by my side? Always."
Together they made their way down the stairs, and although Percy's trepidation still held some sway over him, Vex's nearness imbued him with strength. The kitchen was as it had always been, serviceable, and mostly empty. As they entered, Percy could see Pike seated in the far corner by the window. The light streaming in lit her up as though she emitted her own, holy light. Or maybe it was just Sarenrae. Regardless, Pike was the first thing Percy saw. And then, a figure shifted on the bench closest the wall. It was a woman, her shoulders, though covered with a mantle of deep, dark blue fur and feathers were obviously muscled and her skin was pale. She wore her hair, which began black but turned white as the ends, in various twisting braids, tied back so they fell neatly behind her back.
There was something about the woman sitting on the bench. She was clearly tall, and looked strong, but the way that she held herself, staring at the ground, made her seem...smaller. Like she was unsure of herself, or why she was here. There was a red...weasel? It looked like a weasel, anyway. Well, whatever it was was curled up around the woman's shoulders, snoring a little. She made for an odd, contradictory figure.
Vex was confused, turning to Pike, not letting go of Percy's hand. "Pike, who's your friend?" she asked.
Percy trailed after Vex, allowing her to lead him by their still twined fingers as he considered the woman's countenance. At the sound of Vex's voice, both women turned to face them and it was Pike's expression that Percy caught first. There was something indecisive about the set of her mouth, as though she were holding something back and when she spoke, she seemed to swallow the thought away for later.
"Oh, hey guys. This is the visitor I was telling you about." The timorous waver was back. "Yasha, this is—"
Though Pike's mouth was moving, Percy wasn't hearing it. He would have stopped dead in his tracks if it weren't for the insistent tug of Vex at his hand, bringing him along with her. Still, he walked numbly, his feet falling with dull thuds against the stone as his brain went into overdrive, taking into account aspects of the newcomer's visage. The set of her jaw, the sharpness within her mismatched eyes, the line of her nose. In that moment, Percy wouldn't have noticed if his heart had stopped, or his lungs had given out. The world was nothing more than a haze of cotton but for the imposing figure of Yasha before him.
No. She wasn't...that couldn't be...
They'd had a few pretenders visit Whitestone before, though none recently. All of them pretended to be Yasha, likely put up by their parents in an attempt to get their child a better life or, more likely, make a quick buck. All of them had reopened wounds and rebroken their hearts, and none of them had been their daughter. Vex had tried to accept that her firstborn was likely dead, and had been for sometime, but the woman who stood up and looked at them, uncertain and with no recognition in her mismatched eyes (oh god, she had her little girl's eyes)...
Vex's maternal instinct kicked in, and she let go of Percy's hand, stepping slowly forward, hands shaking. She had to get a closer look, had to know for sure, because Pike was their friend, she wouldn't be so cruel as to bring them a fraud and introduce them as their lost daughter.
"-Vex'ahlia and Percival de Rolo. My very good friends. The one I told you about, the one who can get us to Wildemount quickly, she arrived with them, but I haven't seen her yet." Pike spoke with careful intonation, but the shock of what was happening was clearly written on both of her friends' faces. Yasha was either too preoccupied to notice or chose to ignore it. Without waiting for Vex to comment (if she was capable of doing so, that was. Percy certainly wasn't.) Pike continued. "Yasha needs my help with a friend who's died over in the Dwendalian Empire. She's come a long way to bring him back."
Yasha, silent for so long, spoke up at the mention of Molly, the uncertainty still there in her eyes. "Mollymauk Tealeaf. My best friend...it's been a few months, but...I need him back. Please." Her voice was quiet, soft and pleading, so unlike the joyful laughter of Vex's little girl. Everything about her seemed sad, wrong, so different from the toddler she'd been. It couldn't be their Yasha. But, she wanted so badly to believe it was...
No. No, this was just a woman with the same name and the same eyes, who came to Pike for help. Nothing more.
"Of...of course, darling," she finally said, voice shaky. "Pike...Pike is the best there is, of course you'd go to her."
Holding her breath, Pike looked between the three. She was almost positive that the Yasha standing there with them was Velora Yasha Johanna Pike de Rolo. The missing daughter of Whitestone. But if she was here, then where was—no, she could guess the answer to that question. This was miracle enough, though to admit it to herself broke her heart. "Vex, do you know where Keyleth went?" she asked. "I was hoping to ask her if she'd be willing, after the festivities today, that is, to hop us over to the Empire so we can help her out."
Business talk. Vex could do that. Vex had done that. With a short breath, she nodded towards the hall and the stairs, her mask on. "Oh, I think she went up to her old room. Either hers or Vax's, you know she stays in there sometimes."
Yasha looked over at Pike, eyes still guarded and uncertain. "Do you want me to stay here?"
Vex tried not to sound too enthusiastic, but it was hard not to as she spoke up again. "Oh, you can stay with us! I'm sure that won't take too long." She quickly glanced over to Percy, trying to see how he was doing. "That's fine with us, right, Percy?"
Rapidly, Percy blinked, coming back to his senses. "Ah, yes, what, what? Sorry- I- distracted. You were saying, my darling?" Even as he recovered himself, he couldn't keep his gaze from straying to the imposing young woman. The young woman who had Vex'ahlia's bone structure, and his nose and brow, and the startling, disarmingly beautiful mismatched eyes of the daughter that had been stolen from them so, so very long ago.
"Pike is going to get Keyleth, and we'll both stay here and keep Yasha company," she said, voice high with false cheer and bravado. Percy kept staring at the other woman, and she knew that they were thinking the same thing, that this woman could be their little girl. He seemed to be fully convinced...but he'd always wanted to believe their Yasha was still alive.
Regardless of the aching in her chest, Vex had yet to be convinced.
A small stream of air escaped Percy's parted lips, and he wet them briefly, his mouth dry. "Yes. Of course. Go get Keyleth." Without another word, he sat down on the end of the bench, staring into space. Pike barely contained a grimace. This was going...swimmingly.
"I'll check her room first, then Vax's and then the courtyards. She might be talking with the trees. Thanks for keeping Yasha company, Vex, Percy." Hopping to the ground, Pike tried her hardest not to break into a direct run, instead keeping her stride carefully calculated as she watched, from the corner of her eye as Vex swung her legs one after the other over the bench and sat across from Yasha, a wavering smile completing the mask of her face. When she reached the doorway, Pike waited no longer and bolted up the stairs and away, leaving her friends alone with the maybe-Yasha in the kitchen.
"So. Yasha. Tell us about yourself. You've come an awfully long way to bring a friend back," Vex said, voice cheerful and fake. She wasn't sure how they could prove for sure if this was their Yasha or not, but....she'd know. They both would.
Yasha's eyes softened and she shook her head, one hand moving to pet the weasel around her neck gently. "Molly...I've kept him waiting for too long. The Everlight is—uncommon in the Empire. I needed to leave to find the right person." Her hand dropped down to her lap again and she looked away. "Our friends...they weren't in any hurry to help him. So I went to find help on my own."
Inwardly, Vex cringed. She'd been through enough dead friends. And at Yasha's age... "I'm sorry to hear that."
Yasha only nodded.
To Percy, it suddenly felt too warm in the room. Almost stifling. He was still looking at Yasha with an intensity that ought to have bored a hole through to the wall behind her, his heart thrumming in his chest, Vex's false cheer grating on his ears. As his wife went to speak again, Percy suddenly couldn't withstand it any longer. "Excuse me, but where do you hail from?" He forced the words out, and they were tinged with a biting cold he hadn't intended.
Yasha blinked, a little surprised at the question, the force of the tone behind it. Though, thinking about it, she'd come in here, interrupted some sort of family thing with her problem... "Xhorhas," she eventually said, voice even and head held high. Where she was from was terrible, and she'd done terrible things there, both to survive and...well. But she would not be ashamed to admit where she was from.
Automatically, Percy filed the detail away, incorporating it into the slowly evolving timeline in his head. Taken while traveling to Deastok. Ends up in Xhorhas early enough in life to believe homeland. Finds way back to Dwendalian Empire. "Ah. Well. A proud country." Already the gears were changing, switching, whirring in his brain. "Have you ever been to Emon before?"
"No. This is my first time here," Yasha responded quietly, unsure of why this man, Percy, was asking questions all of a sudden, after having been quiet for the entire time. "It's—a very large city." Far larger, even, than Zadash had been.
Vex glanced over at Percy, trying to get a look at his expression. He'd changed gears so suddenly... Quietly, she took his hand and squeezed it. Whatever he was trying to learn from his questions, if it helped them to determine if this was their daughter, then she would support this plan of action.
"Indeed it is." Another fact catalogued away. "Have you...how did you come to hear of Pike?" Suddenly, Yasha's eyes narrowed and Percy drew on everything he had to reign back his impulse to bombard her with straight questions. It was sounding far too much like an interrogation, a thing with which he was all too familiar. Drawing on his charm and skill as a (rather reluctant) politician, Percy backtracked. "Pardon my curiosity, it's just been some time since anyone came looking for Pike in particular and from such a great distance."
Her eyes remained narrowed, but her posture relaxed slightly. This was his friend, of course he wanted to make sure that she would be safe with Yasha. She couldn't really fault him for the interrogation...she would do the same and more for Molly, for all of the Nein, even Caduceus. "I...needed a cleric of Sarenrae specifically. Worship of her is illegal in the Empire, and...nobody would worship her in Xhorhas. I had to come here." She didn't mention her vision, the snapdragon and the light. She hadn't wanted to tell Pike about it, she certainly wasn't going to tell the strange man asking her questions. "I arrived, and people in the city told me about Pike, and where to find her." It wasn't a lie.
"Ah." That seemed to stonewall him and the stream of questions dried up. Yasha looked to the table and noticed that the woman was griping the man's hand so tightly that the skin of her knuckles, pulled taut over the bones, was nearly white. The firm press of his fingertips against the back of her hand left the skin around it pale as well. They were tense. The man's back was stiff and his attempts at a cordial smile left her uncomfortable. She looked instead to the woman, the glint in whose eyes was equally sharp, though her expression seemed more honest than his - at least with her it was obviously some sort of facade.
She could tell that she was making them uncomfortable, though she wasn't exactly sure why. Maybe it was because she was from Xhorhas, or simply because she'd interrupted some sort of important event. Her eyes dropped back to her hands after staring at the woman for a moment, and the room fell silent.
Vex couldn't stand the tension, couldn't stand not knowing for sure, thinking their daughter was so close but not being able to just ask her. There had to be something that would tip them off. "So what about your family?" she finally asked, some of the forced cheer still in her voice, "do they still live in Xhorhas?"
Beside her, Percy's breath stalled in his lungs, waiting for the answer. What made him nervous and excited and terrified all at once was that she didn't seem like she was attempting to...play them. She had not come expecting to meet then, at least so far as he could tell, and her answers seemed honest enough. Her focus was on her friend, she claimed no familiarity with Vox Machina...if she was false, then she was certainly good.
The most frightening thing of all was that he didn't want her to be false. From the first moment he'd caught sight of her face, Percy had wanted to believe it, more than anything. A dangerous desire, one he'd never before indulged. One he couldn't afford to. And yet...
"I...don't have family in Xhorhas. Or anywhere." There was no anger or play for sympathy behind her words, just a matter of fact acceptance. The only family she had was Molly, and until he came back, she was alone. The Nein were close, and the circus had been as well...but they weren't Molly. It wasn't the same.
"No one should be without family," said Percy. Yasha looked back up at them, confused by the sudden surge of warmth in his words, and found that his eyes were shining and his well practiced smile had vanished completely. She felt strange, seeing this man's expression change, seeing the barely contained tears hidden behind this glasses. Yasha didn't know him, but for whatever reason, she couldn't stand to see him sad.
He'd lost somebody too. That must be it.
Yasha simply nodded, ignoring the urge to ask him about who he lost. "That's why I have to get Molly back...he died trying to save me, he's my family. I can't just leave him..." She closed her eyes, the image of the grave, the coat fluttering in the breeze, the idea of Molly, bright colorful wonderful Molly cold and alone under the dirt. All because of her.
The woman, Vex, reached a hand across the table and covered one of Yasha's own, and Yasha saw that the expression on her face mirrored her husband's. Yes. Someone lost. Someone they hadn't gotten back. "Don't you worry," Percy said. "Pike is the best there is, not just in Tal'Dorei, but all Exandria. Leastways, we certainly think she is. She's brought me back more than once."
Vex was rubbing a thumb over her hand soothingly and her smile was wistful, filling Yasha with some unknown, trembling feeling.
This was their girl. This had to be. Vex always thought if they ever found their Yasha, they'd just know right away. But years of imposters and false hope had crushed that, leaving nothing but suspicion behind. But looking at this woman, who genuinely didn't seem to know or care who they were, who just wanted her friend back...all she wanted to do was take her into her arms and hug her, stroke her hair and tell her it would be alright. Just as she'd done so many years ago.
Instead, she smiled and blinked back more tears. "Tell us about him? Your Molly, he must be something truly special, for you to come all this way to find Pike."
"Yes, please do. Regardless of how much it hurts, or how much you think it will hurt to talk about them, it really the best way to remember them." That sentence earned Percy a sharp glance from Vex and he could read the words in her expression practice what you preach, darling. Waiting patiently for her to speak, he took to memorizing her face so that he might never forget it if they ever lost her again. Their child was as achingly beautiful to his heart as she had been the day she was born.
Yasha smiled sadly, eyes fond, and she told them about Mollymauk Tealeaf, her Molly, her best friend. She told them about a colorful tiefling, who wore an outrageous coat, who tried to make every place a little better than he left it, who loved quickly and easily and tried to give people a second chance. She told them about their time together in the circus, him giving her the manners book, encouraging her love of flowers, though she did not tell them why.
She told them about them joining the Nein, a little about their time together with them. She told them how he died trying to save her, how she was finally free only to wake up to a world where her best friend was gone.
And for the first time in months, Yasha cried for Molly, for how badly she'd failed him, for how long she'd left him alone.
Before they could provide any response, the sound of Pike in her ceremonial armor came clanging into the room, closely followed by Keyleth. She took in the scene before her and felt her heart soar with happiness. It was obvious from the way that they were looking at Yasha that she was the one. "We've got to head out soon, Percy, Vex. Grog and Scanlan and Kaylie are on their way down right now." Smiling kindly at Yasha, Pike continued. "You're welcome to come or welcome to stay, but as soon as we're back, we'll head out. This," she gestured, "Is Keyleth, our ride there."
Yasha quickly stood up, blinking back her tears in a way that was so familiar to Vex. She'd done the same so many times, the same expression on her face that was now on Yasha's.
Vex looked over at Percy, giving him a small nod. This was their daughter. She just knew it.
Standing, Percy pulled Vex up with him by the hand and kissed it again, the same place as he had upstairs just shy of a half an hour before. How swiftly things could change! He was bursting to say something, to shout, to laugh, to anything but he held it in. "Please, whether you choose to go with or not, make yourself at home here. You are always welcome."
Pike had talked to Keyleth before bringing her in, telling her what she suspected. Seeing the woman named Yasha, and seeing how Percy and Vex looked...it looked like Pike's suspicions were correct. She could see the resemblance, and even though it had been years, Keyleth had never forgotten her niece's eyes.
Yasha looked at Percy and Vex, unsure of what caused their sudden shift in mood, but nodded and gave them a small smile, much more open than she normally was. "Thank you...and thank you for listening to me, too."
"Of course, darling," said Vex, "anytime you want to talk, we'll be here."
Leading Vex by the hand out from the bench, Percy couldn't resist matching the unrestrained look of joy on her face when she was out of Yasha's sight. "Come along, my darling. We've got crowds to stun, and the sooner we do, the sooner that Miss Yasha here can get her family back."
Vex let Percy lead her from the room and away from Yasha, their Yasha. When they were alone, she grinned and laughed, eyes wet. It was her. It was really her.
She kissed her husband again, joyful and full of hope. "Yes, I think that's an excellent idea, my love."
She had no idea how they'd tell her, how she'd take it or if she'd even believe them. But that was a problem to worry about later. For now, they would go and put on a show, celebrate one event publicly while rejoicing over another in secret, and then they'd be off, to get Yasha the rest of her family back. To put a piece of their broken family back together.