Molly’s ghost sits next to Caleb, his red eyes sad as he looks at his friends. He knew everyone was okay but he wished he could have been there physically to have greeted them. It had been heartbreaking being right there, hearing Jester ask where he was and her not hearing him when he said he was here and Caleb’s answer when he had told her he hadn’t made it. A tear rolls down his cheek and he hears a huff in his ear then a hand is put on his shoulder. He turns to see Vax, the Raven Queen’s Champion who had been with him ever since darkness had taken him and he woke up in this ghostly form; still with his friends but unable to to be seen or heard by them.
As the carriages make their way down the road, there comes a point where all of everyone who had been present: Beauregard, Caleb, Nott, where the hair on the backs of their necks begins to stand on end, and this deep, lead-like sinking sensation clenches the bottom of their stomachs. As they, a short time ago, met up with the Glory Run Road heading southward. They begin to come upon two familiar-looking mounds, hills that flank the sides of the road.
Nott pulls out her wire and cups it in her hands then speaks into it to Caleb. “Do you think we should stop? You can reply to this message.”
Caleb pulls out his wire and speaks to Ophelia Mardun “Miss Denzala, we require a few moments on the side of the road here.”
She replies back. ““A quick pit stop, if that is what you require?”
“Ja, ten, 20 minutes. Nothing more.”
Very well.” Ophelia says and both carriages come to a stop. The conscious members of the Nein climb out of the carriage and see there, towards the southern side of the eastern hill, the single wooden cross embedded in the somewhat hard, cold earth. There, not yet removed from the cross, whether it be by luck or superstition, there is the white, snow-dappled, multicolored coat of Mollymauk Tealeaf.
Beau, with uncharacteristic gentleness, takes Jester’s hand in hers and walks her over to the grave.
“I’ve never actually been to a grave before.” Jester says, her voice quiet in the still air.
“Not of someone I knew.” Jester says, her normally cheerful voice sad and broken.
“Right. That makes sense.” Beau says
Jester gets down on her knees in front of the grave. “I think he’s still with us.” She says just a tiny bit of her cheerfulness coming into her voice.
“I think so too.” Beau says her gruff voice carrying sadness.
“Thank you Molly.” Jester says
“You know, I grabbed his stupid cards.” Beau says after a moment, producing Molly’s worn tarot cards from her pocket.
“I love those cards.” Jester says, a broken laugh leaking into her voice.
“You want to draw one?” Beau asks, holding the deck out to Jester.
“Yeah.” She says a sad smile coming onto her face.
Jester looks at them a moment then pulls one. “It's the moon again. I pulled this the first time I met him.”
“Yeah.” Jester stares at the card in her hand for a moment, her violet eyes sad, then they light just a little. “I want to…” Her voice breaks a bit, then she continues speaking. “I-I want-Can we dig him up? I want to do speak with the dead on him….just-just so he knows we’re all safe.”
“Um...I don’t-Ah Caleb?” Beau calls to him where he is sitting with Nott by the carriage.
“Could you come over here?”
He nods and walks over. “What is it, Beauregard?”
“Would you be able to use your Cat’s paw to dig Molly up? Jester-” Beau looks down for a moment, to push away the tears gathering in her eyes at Jester’s considerate and lovely idea then looks up and continues speaking. “She wants to do speak to the dead on him, so that she can tell him that everyone is safe.”
Caleb stares at Beau a second, his blue eyes wide and sad then he nods and casts the spell, directing the paw to the ground and it begins digging in the hard snow covered ground. It takes a few minutes but the paw finally manages to get through the ground and they can see Molly lying there, wrapped in the Platinum Dragon Tapestry.
“Thanks, Caleb.” Jester says.
“natürlich.” Caleb says, giving her a sad smile.
Jester goes closer, and begins lifting his body out of the grave. It takes her a moment or two but she manages to lift him out and places him on her lap, one hand supporting his back.
“Wait.” Caleb says, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“What is it?”
“Let me put this back on him, just while he’s here.” Caleb pulls out the Periapt of Wound Closure.
“Oh yeah, ok.”
Caleb kneels down and with shaking hands, puts the necklace around Molly’s neck, careful of his horns. It rests on his chest where the v of his shirt is open. “There. Do it now.” He says and steps back a bit.
She licks her finger and wipes the blood from the corner of his mouth then gently places her hand on his forehead and casts the spell. Molly, standing there watching with Vax, feels a tugging sensation then he is pulled with immense force back into his body. There is a moment of disorientation then he blinks looking up into Jester’s face.
“Molly! It worked. I-I wanted to let you know that Fjord, Yasha and I were ok.”
“I appreciate that.” He says, a bright smile coming onto his face at actually being able to talk to his friends again, even just for a moment. He pats her cheek in appreciation. He looks around, spotting Fjord standing a little ways away and watches as his yellow eyes widen and then he comes over.
“Molly. Glad to see you my friend.”
“And I you.”
“Yasha is still unconscious, but she’s ok.”
“I’m glad she’s alright.”
Just as he says this, there is rustling behind them and stepping out of the cloak of illusion, the leathered, conscious figure of Yasha, having shaken herself from the illusory binds. Groggy and confused, she steps towards everyone.
“What’s going on?” She asks then spots Molly being held up by Jester. Her eyes light up and she rushes over. “What happened? Are you alright?”
“Hmm that’s relative. For the moment, I suppose so...but well…” He pauses, not wanting to break it to his best friend that he’s technically dead but is here for the time being due to Jester’s spell. He looks over at Fjord, hoping his friend and roommate would help him out.
““Yasha...he...well...While everyone was trying to rescue us….Molly-He didn’t make it. He’s only here right now because Jester cast Speak to the dead.” Fjord says.
Her mismatched eyes widen and fill with tears then she kneels down in front of Jester, taking one of Molly’s hands in hers. “You stupid idiot. Why would you go and get yourself killed?”
He grins sadly. “You and the rest of our friends are the most precious things to me, I gladly laid down my life to try and save you guys.”
Yasha smiles weakly. “I don’t want you throwing your life away for any of us.”
“I chose to engage him… and I paid for it...but I don’t regret it.”
Yasha is about to speak again when Caleb speaks instead. “Jester, there’s only a minute left on your spell.”
“What? No...I don’t want Molly to go.”
“Ja, I know but the spell only lasts ten minutes.”
“Molly...I-Thank you for everything. I’ll-I’ll really miss you.” Jester says turning to him, her voice cracking and tears begin to roll down her cheeks.
“It was my pleasure.” Molly says giving her the brightest smile he can muster, trying not to begin crying himself since he knows after this, he’s have to go back to being a silent follower unable to do anything but watch with only Vax for company. Watch as his precious friends grow and change and become the amazing people he knows them to be.
Yasha grips his hand tighter, her mismatched eyes filling with tears but not letting them spill over. He takes a look over all of his friends, Jester is crying, but a small smile is her face, Fjord and Caleb look on from a short distance away, sadness shining on their eyes. Nott is by Caleb, her small form buried in Caleb’s coat, shoulders shaking. Beau is off to the side, arms crossed but he can see the tears glittering in her eyes. And Yasha, his oldest friend, is next to him holding his hand in a death grip, her eyes filled with tears and he watches as two spill over and roll down her pale cheeks.
He smiles slightly and closes his eyes as darkness begins to pull at him once more. Then, there is a pulse of warmth that spreads through his body, warming him up from the inside. He hadn’t realised how cold he was until the warmth was filling his veins. His eyes fly open, he knows this sensation and looks down at his chest and sees his necklace he had bought back in Xadash glowing. The glow fades out and suddenly he can feel his heart beating. He hadn’t realised it wasn't beating before.
“Molly? How are you still here? The-The spell ended. Jester’s confused voice comes from above him. He looks up and grins at her. “It seems that my necklace has saved me once again and…” He released Yasha’s hand as her grip had gone slack in shock and he slowly stands, a hand on his chest to reassure himself that the steady beat was there. ““It appears it has also helped me be brought back to join the living once more.”
“What? You mean I performed a miracle?” Jester asks excitedly then launches herself at Molly. He staggers back a little, still somewhat weak but then wraps his arms around her.
“It seems so. You are truly a wonder, my dear Jester.” He whispers into her ear.
Once she releases him, one by one his friends hug him, even Caleb to his immense surprise.
“What is taking so long?” Ophelia Mardun’s voice comes from up the road a ways.
“Sorry! There was an unexpected occurrence.” Caleb calls back.
“Where’s my coat?” Molly asks, missing the familiar weight of it.
“Oh, it's here.” Beau says pointing to a stick sticking out of the snow. He sees his brightly coloured coat hanging on it. Grinning he walks over and grabs it, pulling it on.
Molly looks around at his friends and the one newcomer that he knew from his watching before was Caduceus. He grins and walks over to him. “Hello, lovely to meet you. I’m Mollymauk. Molly to my friends.”
Caduceus gives him a smile. “Very nice to meet you too."
Molly gives him a bow then turns to the rest of the group, his tail swishing with excitement. “Shall we then?’
“Yeah! To Xadash!” Jester exclaims and they all pile into the cart except Caduceus who climbs up into the driver’s seat.
“We’re ready to go now.” He calls
The cart and carriages begin to move after a few moments and Molly smiles, the brightest happiness warming his heart. He was so glad to be able to be fully back with his friends. So very happy he can be here, living by their sides and be able to not only watch but also continue to help them become better people. To laugh, fight and push through things together on countless more adventures.