It’s shortly after he finally gets it that they really become good friends. Keyleth has never had anyone cling to her in the way that Percy did when he first joined their group. Usually, to her chagrin, it was her clinging to whoever let her close enough, but she’d been getting better about it. “Your highness,” he calls her, and she shakes her head, tells him, no, please don’t call me that because it’s not really the same thing, it’s something different, something that she chose at the same time that it was thrust upon her. When they add in Tiberius, they’re an unstoppable, if not awkward, trio, but she doesn’t overlook that their friendships were built on the status their friends didn’t have. It stops bothering her after a month (she can’t stop Tiberius from calling her “Princess”, but at least he does it infrequently and now she wishes he still did).
She starts staying up with Percy, taking the same watch, because he’s friendly and he earnestly tries, despite the darkness she often sees swirling around and within him. He makes jokes and she giggles, and most nights, their watches end peacefully. Their friendship is solidified when he gives her a new staff. Her old one was broken in battle, but it was old and didn’t hold enough significance for her to be too sad about it. He surprised her with the replacement, after the keep was built, after they had some place to call their own, after he spent a few weeks buried away in his new workshop (making arrows for Vex, mostly, and improving the things he called guns).
He brings it to her after dinner one evening, catching her before she could find her way into Pike’s room for much needed conversation. “I couldn’t wrap it,” he explains hastily, handing it over.
Keyleth throws her arms around him, not caring that he’s startled and unprepared. “Thank you, Percy, it’s so beautiful!” She steps back to examine the staff more closely, exclaiming over the gentle curve, delicate leaves, and a stone perched gently in the center of a swirl, enveloped in leaves. After a moment, she druid crafts a vine around the whole thing and giggles.
“So that’s what it was missing,” he replies, smiling. “I was beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t give it to you, but now I’m glad.”
She cherishes the staff, channeling her power through it sometimes, and other times keeping it because her best friend made it for her and she loves it. Every so often she’ll druid craft different vines and flowers, but sometimes she leaves it just as Percy intended it, never once ceasing to be astounded by the sheer beauty he created.
When she gets the Spire, she looks fondly at the staff she’s held dear for the better part of two years. The staff that saw her through raw power, the death of friends, and quiet moments she will look back fondly on. She tucks it away, trusting the nebulous plane of the bag of holding to keep it safe until she might want it again. When she sits to the side with the new staff and letting it attune to her, she catches sight of Percy watching her quietly, for once not enraptured with the beauty that is Vex. She knows this is because they have very little time, and beckons him over to sit beside her.
“You should be restoring the earth,” he says quietly, settling in. His gaze drifts to the stars.
Keyleth bumps her shoulder against his. “I will in a little bit.” She’s tired from harvesting Vorugal, tired from pouring her energy into making Tiberius’s death worth it, but she has a moment to spare for her best friend. She shows him the staff, lets his fingers dance over the twisted wood, and she smiles. “It looks like the one you made me.” It did, in a way, but she mostly wanted him to feel better.
“I saw you put the old one away. I’m glad you’re keeping it.” He looks back at her, the barest hint of a smile crossing his lips.
“I would never have gotten rid of it! It’ll get used, trust me.” (He can see it now, a hundred years in her future, standing as headmaster of the Air Ashari, the staff he made her at her side). Keyleth leans her head on his shoulder, circlet askew. “I’m glad you’re back,” she says softly. She hopes he knows the cost of bringing him back, the heartache and gut wrenching grief they all went through so that he could be here right now, to watch Vorugal fall. She still feels a little guilty that he didn’t get the last shot on Ripley.
She feels him shift and he wraps his arms around her. “I can’t say I’m glad to be back,” he starts. “But if it had to be because of you all, I guess that’s worth something.”
Keyleth lays the staff down as best she can and hugs him tight. “Have you thought about what you’ll do after this?” she asks.
She feels Percy’s head move back to the mansion, where she knows Vex and Vax have disappeared, presumably to find alcohol. “I might have an idea. I’m working on it.” He laughs a little, and she joins in. The joy is a much needed respite, after everything they’ve been through, and it bodes well, she thinks, that they may yet have more time.
“I thought about holding both staffs,” she says after they catch their breaths, “but I’m not sure how effective it would be.” The idea had crossed her mind, but she needs her hands for some spells and it wasn’t worth it. But the sight would be fun, so maybe she’d give it a go in a practice room after this was all over.
“Mmm, not very unless you practiced with it.” Percy hums. He makes a face suddenly. “Imagine if we all tried to wield two weapons at once?”
“Vax does it already.” Keyleth sits up but keeps close to him. “But I bet it wouldn’t do anything.”
“It would certainly be a detriment if I tried it with Bad News. Animus maybe…” He trails off, mind darting down one of the familiar rabbit holes she knows so well. He comes back though, and looks at her. “I think you may want to start your spell now, otherwise I’ll sit here with you forever and we’ll never leave.”
She shivers inadvertently. “Go do that thing you’re thinking of,” she says fondly, nudging him. “And maybe the staff will be a hand-me-down to someone in the future.”
He looks at her, face blank, but he stands anyway. She does too, and watches him go off. The gods might not shine down on all of them, but one was taking care of him whether he wanted to admit it or not. And when this was all over, she’d drag him to the casino in Ank’harel and see how many of those colorful drinks he would buy her before they lost all of their money gambling. These were things to hold tight to, the fond memories of something more, something beyond the immediate danger. She picks up the Spire and it feels right in her hands, the power and heft just right, as if it had always intended to find it’s way into her possession.