Vesper Elaina de Rolo was born a daughter of heroes – two of the greatest heroes to ever exist in Exandria, in fact. A big name, that is. Vesper after her aunt, Elaina after her grandmother. De Rolo, a name everyone associates with loss and tragedy, smoke and guns and brown hair turning white due to horrible things being suffered. Big shoes to fill.
Vesper wasn’t even one year old when her parents got married and fought vampires on their wedding day. She would hear that story many, many times in her life, and then tell it to her siblings. She grew up on stories of Vox Machina, of her parents and their friends fighting evils in the world, traveling and finding adventures, and all those stories fuelled the adventure lust in the young girl’s heart.
She was five when she first ran away. Not far, of course, but she had planned well. When she knew that her father was in his workshop and her mother was distracted, looking after Vesper’s newborn brother, she escaped from her home and ran into the forest. There, she wandered the sun on her skin and the wind in her dark brown hair as she explored the nature for herself for the first time. Of course, when she got hungry, she walked back , and was greeted by her very cross, very worried, very relieved parents. They hugged her tightly and made her promise to never do this again, and asked her why she had done that. And Vesper gave them a wide smile and crowed: “A’venture!”
As she grew up, Vesper heard much about battles and magic and monsters, but there was one thing her mother wouldn’t talk about much. That was why Uncle Vax wasn’t there anymore. Even as a little child, Vesper understood that her uncle was dead, but she didn’t know how, or why, or how long ago. All she knew was that, when she asked, her mother’s eyes glazed over and she either hurried to change the topic or she gave a vague answer that didn’t satisfy Vesper’s curiosity. But even at such a young age, she knew better than to ask further when tears rose up in her mother’s eyes. Instead, she asked her father. She walked into his workshop, sat down on a large old chest, pulled her legs to her chest and asked, her chin resting on her knees: “Papa? Can you tell me about Uncle Vax?”
She watched her father’s face falter, sadness suddenly clouding his eyes. He sighed, pushing the white strands from his face – they were getting long these days, falling into his face as he bent forward, working. “Vesper, honey…”, he said slowly, sat down next to her and ran one hand through her dark hair. And then he told her the story – the whole story. The story of how her mother, young and greedy, had grabbed a piece of armour without considering the dangers. The story of how Vax’ildan had called out to the Raven Queen with a trembling voice, demanding she let his sister go and to take him instead. The story of how Vax had become the mighty goddess’ champion. How, once Vox Machina had won their final battle, the Raven Queen had claimed him and taken him away.
“He was there when your mother and I got married”, Percival ended his tale. “That’s where the raven feather is from that hangs over your bed. He dropped it.”
Vesper had loved that feather as a baby, and now it hung over her headboard. Now, finally, she understood why it made her feel safe, why she always felt compelled to touch it with the tips of her fingers before she laid down.
“He watches over us, doesn’t he?”, she asked. Her father nodded. “Always.”
“Is that why there are so many ravens in Whitestone?”
Another nod. “Yes, dear.”
Vesper smiled. She didn’t ask about her uncle again, but that night, she whispered a “Thank you, Uncle Vax”, into the dark of her room, and then again out the open window. The next morning when she woke up, a large raven sat on the window sill and looked at her. Vesper greeted it with a smile. From that day on, she smiled at and greeted every raven she saw.
When she was ten, Vesper asked her father to teach her shooting. Percival was mortified but gave in, getting out a small, simple firearm from the chest he usually kept locked and he instructed his daughter in how a gun was built and how it worked before taking her to a training field and teaching her in actual practice. The thought of his precious child using a weapon so lethal made him squirm and grow nauseous, but he did his best to instruct Vesper. Still, he breathed in relief when she declared, a few weeks into her lessons, that she disliked guns and didn’t want to learn anymore.
The next week, Vesper asked her mother to learn archery. Vex’ahlia was glad to teach her, but Vesper didn’t quite have the patience to aim an arrow at a target long enough to hit bull’s eye. She quickly grew frustrated with this, too. She had a good aim, but she was also restless and fidgety. Vex gently stroked her cheek with two fingers and told her that, if Vesper really wanted to learn a weapon, they would find one.
Attempts at teaching her magic of any kind failed quickly. Vesper also disliked heavy hammers, clubs, morning stars and axes. She was clearly not destined to be a barbarian, nor a druid or bard. On her eleventh birthday, she still hadn’t found a weapon that worked for her. She was unhappy about that, but something told her she would find it soon. So as she wandered through her family’s home and found herself back at the armoury, she found herself talking to the nothingness as she sometimes did.
No answer – of course not. “I don’t know if you can hear me… but I think I need some guidance.”
Vesper let her glance wander over the many different weapons in the armoury.
“I never understood why they keep these guns”, she mused. “My father said he’d never build one again. And mother has her bow, why would they keep ten other ones?”
She let her fingers trace the shape of a heavy warhammer, then along the blade of a sword.
“If you’re here… you’re the only one I didn’t ask for help yet. Maybe you can though. Maybe you can guide me.”
For a second, she felt like there was a warm hand on her left shoulder, and as if she heard a flutter of wings, and suddenly, something seemed to pull her into the farthest corner of the armoury, to a wooden box. She opened it and inside was a dagger. A beautiful dagger, handle and blade both curved, the blade silver and the handle wooden. These was twine around the spot where the two parts met, and dried barnacles sat on the top and base of the hilt, as if it was made from driftwood.
Vesper took it and lifted it from the box. It was a bit too long for her, but she knew she would grow to size so that it would be the right fit one day. When she lifted it to her nose, she could smell the ocean on it. The blade was a bit dull, but that was something easily fixed.
“Thank you, Uncle Vax”, she said and ran out, to find her parents.
Vesper had many siblings. She was the oldest, of course. When she had been five, her little brother had been born – Percival Fredrickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo the Fourth. They called him Freddie for short. Next came twins, Julius Vax’ildan de Rolo and Olivia Cassandra de Rolo, and finally little baby Ludwig the Second. A big family. Vox Machina and the de Rolo children, Aunt Cassandra, Uncle Gilmore, Aunties Allura and Kima… Vesper always knew that, if she fell, she had a net of family members to catch her.
She loved her brothers and sisters. True, yes, when her mother had told her that she was gonna get a baby sibling for the first time, she had gotten angry and yelled and, like any young child, thought that this meant her parents would love her less, but once baby Freddie had been born, she had understood, and she loved them all unconditionally, albeit they could be horribly annoying.
Out of all their children, Vesper and Freddie looked the most elvish, Vex’ahlia often thought. They all had the pointed ears, but Vesper and Freddie also had inherited the big eyes and the youthful faces, looking many years younger than they actually were. Both had small, childish hands and round cheeks, but at the same time, even as children, they had an eery sort of elegance, in the way they moved their heads to the caller when they heard their names, or their stance and their walk, though it passed again in the blink of an eye. Vesper and Freddie also were the only ones that didn’t have Vex’ahlia’s black hair. Instead, their hair was brown, like Percival’s had been before it had whitened. They also shared another trait: Their eyes were split colours, one grey like Vex’ahlia’s eyes, the other blue like Percival’s. They looked mirrored, when they stood next to each other, the outer eye grey, the inner blue. Many a times, people assumed that they were twins, and to tell the truth, they basically were. They were inseparable.
As the oldest child, Vesper was the heir of the de Rolo family, and the public looked upon her as such. Her parents had explained that to her ages ago, and she knew full well what it meant. She knew how to behave on public events, how to walk and talk and stand. Her family held a ball every winter, and this was when Vesper felt most watched in the whole year. But she shrugged it off, let her hair down and showed herself to the guests in a deep blue ballgown that had the same colour as the background of the de Rolo family crest. With a simple necklace on her neck and a delicate silver crown over her forehead she truly looked the part, and gentle smiles and calculated, friendly conversations did the rest. She danced with those who asked her to, and with those who answered to her with “Yes”, and for the rest of the time sat with her family, whispering behind one hand with Freddie. No matter what or when, Freddie was close to her, they supported each other without question. So, when Vesper asked to leave Whitestone for some adventuring of her own, it was no big surprise that Freddie came along. He could calm his sister down when she got too angry or excited, and she could coax him out of his shell when he was being shy and hesitant.
And on the battlefield, when they encountered trouble, the two of them were like two pieces of machinery that fit together perfectly. Vesper had always been fiery and wild, a slight ruthfulness to her, where Freddie was artistic, sweet and kind. He had the gift for magic his other siblings lacked, and where his older sister had become a bizarre mix of a rogue and a fighter, Freddie had become a wizard, a spellbook always handy, filled in neat, tidy writing. Together, brother and sister were a force to be reckoned with, slit eyes full of excited sparkling, magic pulsing through one and the other fast as a snake striking out for the lethal bite, a shield on her arm with the de Rolo crest gleaming in the sun and a curved long dagger with barnacles and a bright silver blade in the other hand.
Vesper Elaina de Rolo was born a daughter of heroes – two of the greatest heroes to ever exist in Exandria. Big shoes to fill, but her and her siblings filled them with ease and with pride, becoming heroes of their own.
But even the greatest of heroes can be corrupted, and even the greatest heroes can fall. Who knows what happened to Vesper de Rolo the Second, to Vesper Elaina de Rolo, who had learned to do a battlecry from her barbarian Uncle Grog, who had learned poise and elegance, and mental strength and cunning and wits from her parents, who had learned the ways of the world from the tales of Vox Machina? Who knows what happened to her as she was caught snooping by someone who was just a bit more powerful than her, a bit more cunning, or simply eviller? Was she corrupted, turned into an asset or weapon? Did she fall victim to the Fae Folk, or the luring voice of a siren? Or did she, maybe, in battle, fall victim to a blade, saving her brother from a deathly blow? And did she, as she bled out on the battlefield, her brother's uncounscience body next to her, unassuming, as she was gasping for air, tears burning on her face, did she cry out to the only person she thought able to safe her now? Did she, with her last breaths, a blade in her chest, shout to the sky: "Vax'ildan! Vax'ildan! Please!"
And did Vax'ildan come down to her, appearing in a whirl of black feathers, wings wide open on his back, a black raven mask on his face? Did he kneel down next to his dying niece he had never really met, but always watched over, putting one hand under her head, appearing in her swimming vision with a sad, sad face on his face? Did he wipe the tears from her face, push the hair from her forehead, and did he hold her hands as breathing became diffucult for her? Did she say his name again, a whisper in disbelief - "Uncle Vax? Is that you?" Did he confirm this, crying himself now? Did he gently stroke her cheek with gloved fingers and then tell her: "There is another way"? Did Vesper nod, knowing, desperate to agree but to weak already to speak? Did Vax'ildan, champion of the Raven Queen, guide of souls, kiss her on the brow and tell her "This is what you die for. This is your purpose" before pulling the sword from her chest, wincing at his nieces pained cry and then, reliefed, last breath?
Did Vesper de Rolo the Second, daughter of Percival and Vex'ahlia, live and die to take Vax'ildan's place?
Legends tell many different endings. The truth may never be revealed. But what is sure is this: Vesper Elaina de Rolo, where- and when- and whyever she died, died a hero, died in battle, died saving someone she loved.