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walk on back, walk on back

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Grog is a simple man, yeah? Simple pleasures and all that. Just point him at whoever you want dead and there you go. It’s an easy enough way to live, he figures, as long as he’s got the right people pointing him at the right people. That makes sense, right? Yeah, that makes sense.

What was he saying?

Right, simple. This Briarwoods thing of Percy’s, it’s not simple. It’s gotten everyone all tangled up, like Vax is doing stupider things than usual and Keyleth is confused and Pike isn’t even here, and so you can forgive Grog for feeling out of balance. The right people are still the right people, but he’s not sure where he’s being pointed all of the time anymore.

The point (heh) of this is that he feels kind of bad about almost killing Percy’s sister. Not totally bad, because when he almost killed her she was on some dark shit and she was hurting his friends, but still kind of bad because she’s Percy’s sister and the Briarwoods fucked with her brain or something. Bad shit, that. Grog definitely does not like this feeling, whatever it is.

Was this going anywhere?

Oh yeah. So, like, a few days after they fuck the Briarwoods up and he gets his cool new sword he’s feeling peckish in the middle of the night. And whatever, Percy’s super rich, right, so he can stand having his larder raided a little by one very good friend who has done so much for him in the last few days. So Grog very stealthily sneaks down to the kitchens. He’s earned some Grog Time. Shit’s been fucked up lately.

He’s not expecting anyone to interrupt him, since his friends are all asleep and he’s pretty sure they’ve killed everyone else in Percy’s house, so when someone behind him coughs as he’s halfway through a hunk of meat, he freezes. He turns slowly, one hand reaching for an axe that isn’t there.

Behind him, one hand holding an empty tankard, mouth open and staring, is Cassandra.

Grog stares at her.

She stares at him.

He stares at her.

She blinks. “Um…”

Grog swallows what was in his mouth. “You’re up late,” he says, very casually, with extreme stealth.

Cassandra blinks again, then shakes her head. “Yes, I am. So are you.”

Grog nods, and takes another bite. He thinks for a bit. “You want some ale?”

Cassandra relaxes. “Yes please.”

So there they are, getting drunk together in the kitchen of Whitestone Castle at midnight. Cassandra’s got really good stories about when Percy was a teenager, and she snorts into her mug when he tells her about the cow thing. Grog pours her some more ale, and she slams it back with more force than he was expecting.

“So,” he says, with a bunch of tact or whatever, “why’re you up so late?”

Cassandra presses her lips together. “I could ask you the same thing.”

He shrugs. “I got snacky.”

Cassandra snorts again. “I bet you did,” she says, then sighs. “It’s…hard to explain.”

Grog pours one out for himself. “Try me.”

Cassandra looks down at the table. “It’s kind of embarrassing, really. I just – I keep expecting to wake up to one of them looming over me.”

Grog frowns. “You mean the Briarwoods?” She nods.

“It’s like, I know they’re dead, but I can’t stop feeling like they’re still watching everything I do, and I never used to be able to sleep until I knew where they were so I could be ready but there are too many people in the house now and I won’t be able to hear if they come back for me and I just… I can’t sleep.”

She’s crying. Grog doesn’t know how to deal with crying. Whenever Keyleth cries he just lets one of the others talk to her until she feels better, but none of the others are here, so…

“Yeah, but they are dead, though,” he says. Cassandra looks up at him, confused. He clears his throat and tries again. “What I mean is that me and my friends killed them, and when we kill something it stays dead.” He remembers K'Varn. “Mostly, anyway. And if they come back, we’ll just kill them again.”

Cassandra blinks. “And that’s enough for you? That’s what makes you feel safe?”

Grog shrugs. “Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t say safe, but yeah. I could,” he pauses to flex, “probably kill them myself, but if I can’t, I know Vox Machina has my back.”

Cassandra chuckles softly to herself. “That must be nice. Having people. I’ve gotten so used to being on my own.”

Grog stands and stretches. “Well, you’re not on your own now, so get used to it.” He picks up his keg. “I’m off to bed. You gonna stay here or…?”

“No,” she says, and stands up as well. “No, I should try to sleep.” She heads towards the door, then pauses. “Thank you, Grog.”

Grog blinks. “What for?”

She smiles. “Not killing me. I appreciate it.”

Grog looks away. “Yeah. Glad I didn’t.”

And he heads up to the stairs and to his room. Only, when he gets there, he sees his axe propped up against the wall. Huh, he thinks to himself, and he sets down his keg and picks it up. Craven Edge is fancy and sexy and very exciting, but his axe he trusts like nothing else. He hefts it over his shoulder and leaves his room, bed untouched.

He walks down the hall until he finds the room that Percy had told them was Cassandra’s. The lights are out inside. The door is open, just a crack, and he peeks through. Inside he can see a mound of blankets on the bed, rising and falling softly. He nods to himself and steps back.

Beside the door there is a bench. He sits and leans back against the wall, propping his axe up beside him. Just like keeping watch, he thinks to himself.

He does the same thing every night for a week. Just in case