“I met the strangest group today,” Allura mused to her wife as she walked out of the teleportation circle in their home.
“Oh yeah? In Wildemount?” Kima asked.
Allura dropped an absentminded kiss on the top of her head. “Yes. A young adventuring group that –”
“No,” Kima interrupted. “Don’t tell me you’ve adopted another batch of ducklings Allie. The Vox Machina kids were enough. Are still enough. Grog just fucking dragged me into a brawl last week! And don’t even get me started on the little shit quarter elves that are far too much like their parents and aunts and uncles. We’re too old for this shit.”
“I know,” Allura chuckled. “But I truly think you’d like some of this group.”
Kima sighed and grabbed her sword, settling down to sharpen it like she did whenever she was feeling antsy. “Alright. Tell me about these kids.”
“Well there was this one – a monk of some practice, I am sure, but I don’t know which temple she belongs to. I didn’t recognize her vestiges. You would definitely like her – she looked like she was itching for a fight, and if I’m not mistaken, was certainly – observing me.”
“So I need to kill her,” Kima decided.
“Darling, she’s a good thirty years younger than us,” Allura smiled over at her wife. “She was just a kid getting a look. No harm in that – she was very respectful, honestly. They were the strangest, eclectic bunch though. Much more suspicious than Vox Machina ever were when they met us.”
Kima scoffed. “Speak for yourself. Keyleth trusted an insane Ilithid more than she did me.”
Allura rubbed her shoulder. “Keyleth was a very young druid stuck underground with abominations, who was terrified she didn’t truly have a place within Vox Machina, and saw you as someone who fit in much better with them. And look at you two now – you know she considers you one of her best friends,” she comforted.
“I know. I should make a trip up to Zephra soon. Been meaning to. It’s been a couple years. But anyway – you were telling me about this other group. What’s their name, they definitely have a name.”
Allura frowned. “The Mighty Nine. Which didn’t make much sense to me, since there were only six of them. They are currently missing a member, which is causing them a great deal of distress, but still that only makes seven. Beauregard – the monk – said something about it being actually Zemnian, but I’m not familiar with that language so I still don’t know what that has to do with it.”
Kima cracked a laugh. “It would be Nein, then. Means ‘no’. There was a guy at Bahamut’s temple that could speak it. They really call themselves the Mighty No? You’re right. I do like them.”
“Well you can come with the next time I go over. I offered some assistance, and I’m sure they would not turn down more help. Maybe we should bring Keyleth,” Allura mused. “A couple of the Nein follow the Wildmother, and if there’s any goddess Keyleth has somewhat of a relationship with, it’s Melora. You think she’d like a break from Tempest duties for a few days?”
“Oh, I’m sure. But I want to check these guys out first. You know Kiki gets excited about new people. I want to make sure they’re good ones before you bring her into it,” Kima decided.
Allura shook her head, kissing Kima affectionately. “I love how protective you are when it’s not directed at me,” she teased.
“Yeah, yeah,” Kima blushed. “She may live for another thousand years, but she’s still a kid right now, so I’m well within my rights.”
“I thought they weren’t our kids?”
“The rest of those fuckers can look after themselves,” Kima grumbled. “But if I feel like being protective of arguably the most powerful person on this planet who coos over every baby she sees – person or animal – I damn well will. I don’t care if she can travel to any plane on a whim – Kiki needs people lookin’ out for her.”
The Mighty Nein turned into a ‘thing’. The little blue one – Jester – messaged Allura at very odd hours, day or night, somehow at the most awkward of moments always. Every time she and Kima fell into bed – in their fifties they may be, but old they were not – Allura had almost begun to expect to hear Jester’s enthusiastic voice chiming in with the strangest of questions.
Today was no exception. “Hey Miss Allura! We were wondering – if you could – come to Nicodranas again – we might need your help but it’s okay if you’re busy bye!”
Allura sighed, dropping her head to the sheets beside Kima’s. “What is it, Allie?”
“Jester again,” Allura groaned. “Every single time. I can’t get any alone time with you and she’s not even on this continent.”
Kima chuckled, pushing Allura to sit so she could as well. “What’d she want?” She had quickly grown fond of the little group of young adventurers, even though she still had yet to meet them.
“For me to meet them in Nicodranas. Again. Perhaps I should explain to the girl that I am on the council here and busy.”
“Aw come on Allie. You need a vacation, and I want to meet the kiddos. You said they were having a rough go of it, yeah? Maybe we can help.”
“Who is adopting ducklings now?” Allura pointed out.
Kima shrugged. “I’m bored, they sound like they do interesting things, and I know you’re sick of council proceedings, especially since Assum and Tofor retired. Let’s go have some fun, maybe kick a little ass like we used to.”
“Oh very well,” Allura sighed. She made a few gestures, then, “Jester, I will be at Yussa’s tower in the morning. Please do not disturb him tonight. I will see all of you then. Good night.”
Beau was surprised when Allura did not come out of the teleportation circle alone. No, a halfling in heavy armor – carrying a battle axe(?) across her back – followed after her. She looked ready for war, scars on her face and the visible skin of her forearms near her wrists. She looked fucking badass.
“Hello, all,” Allura greeted, always sounding so fucking regal and shit. Beau couldn’t get over how cool she sounded, like did all wizards sound like that eventually? Because Yussa did too. Would Caleb sound like that eventually? He was such a nervous dude until sometimes when he decided not to be. Maybe he was just working it out still. And now Allura knew this crazy cool halfling. But Allura wasn’t done. “I would like to introduce my wife, Lady Kima of Vord, follower of Bahamut.”
Ho-ly shit. Beau had read about the Paladin Kima, and now that she thought about it, Allura Vysoren as well. They had been part of the group that vanquished the Scourged Rider over thirty years ago, and helped the legendary group Vox Machina dispose of the Chroma Conclave when Beau was a toddler. Wildemount had been mostly unaffected by the collection of dragons, apart from the lost dragonborn city that was subjugated by Vorugal the White, but Beau had read all about them. They were the only historical studies she’d paid attention to, wanting to be like them when she was small. If Beau had a childhood hero – it was Kima. And she was married to Allura? The books had never mentioned that.
“Kima, these are the – Mighty Nein. I apologize, you must remind me of some of your names.”
Jester exclaimed, bouncy as ever. “You follow the Platinum Dragon? I graffitied one of his temples once!”
Beau winced when Kima stiffened just a bit. “Jester,” she muttered. “Maybe not the best time to mention that, or the best person? Come on, we want them to like us.”
“Oh, well – you know – not that he’s not super cool and all it was just a little trick!” She held out her hand to Kima. “Hi! I’m Jester.”
Kima seemed torn between amusement and affront at the insult to Bahamut’s temple. “Right. Pleasure.”
“Pardon her,” Fjord said politely. “I’m Fjord, this here is Caduceus –”
“Hey,” Caduceus interrupted, giving a wave.
“ – we follow the Wildmother,” Fjord continued. “That over there is Caleb Widogast, and Nott is behind him. And –”
“I’m Beau,” the monk said before Fjord could introduce her. She didn’t want to sound too eager, but it was exciting. She didn’t get excited very often over something that wasn’t a fight – it was a good feeling. “I uh – I’ve read about you. You’re in books. That’s fucking crazy. And you,” she pointed at Allura, “I didn’t know you were the Allura Vysoren of Tal’dorei. That’s just –”
Nott poked her head out from behind Caleb for the first time, wary of the two semi-strangers seeing her goblin face but the urge to tease too strong to resist. “Beau? Are you – blushing?”
Beau blushed harder and aimed a kick at Nott, causing the goblin to yelp. “No! Shut up, Nott!” she hissed.
“You were right,” Kima said to Allura in Halfling. “I do like them. Whatever it is they need help with, I say we go for it. And just last week you denied feeling lonely with the ‘empty nest’.”
Beau and Nott’s eyes both snapped to Kima, shocked. “Wait. What?” Beau spluttered. “Really? Just like that?”
It was Kima’s turn to look embarrassed at being overheard. “Two of you speak Halfling. Noted. Odd.”
“Long story,” Nott shook her head.
“My parents had halfling employees. She’s a halfling reincarnated into a goblin after being killed by goblins. Not that long, Nott,” Beau said. Nott had decided she was willing to be more open about her past, but was still wary sometimes of sharing.
“We might have a bard who can help with that,” Allura mused. “He hates goblins, but once we get past the introductions and keep him from attacking on sight, I think he’d be all for assisting you. And showing off. He loves showing off.” Allura rolled her eyes.
Kima scoffed. “That little fucker. Just watch what he says – sometimes Scanlan likes to try to make you forget things happened,” she grumbled.
“You really must let that go one day, darling.”
“Wait. Scanlan Shorthalt? Of Vox Machina?” Beau was excited all over again. Of course, she knew the pair were friends with Vox Machina, had worked with them closely – she’d read about it. But reading was one thing, hearing was another. “And you know Keyleth, the Voice of the Tempest? And the Lord and Lady of Whitestone?”
All the rest of the Might Nein were staring at Beau, confused by her eager questions. While it had become obvious in the last few months that Beau was just as willing to peruse libraries as Caleb, they tended to let her keep up the appearance of hating books and research. To see her so open about her knowledge was new.
“Stay away from Scanlan,” Kima warned. “He’ll try to woo any and all of you into bed with him the moment he meets you – married or not.” She didn’t miss the way Beau wrinkled her nose at the mention of sex with the gnome, easily confirming what Allura had asserted. Kima would have to talk with Beau one on one, see where the kid was at with everything. She was grown, probably had it handled, but it never hurt to check.
“Is it true that the Tempest can turn into any creature? Even dragons?” Beau asked instead, changing the subject. Keyleth of the Air Ashari had always been one of her favorite stories, besides Kima.
Allura chuckled. “She is quite adept, yes. I believe it was last year she and Scanlan held a fighting competition as dragons. Keyleth won, if I remember correctly.”
“Stomped his ass you mean,” Kima laughed. “You weren’t there Allie but you should have been. Most fun I had all year.”
“Back to the reason for our visit,” Allura steered the conversation back on topic, “what was it you were requesting our help for?”
There was silence for a few moments as the jovial mood died down. “To get Yasha back,” Beau finally spoke up, her tone becoming serious and sad all at once.
“Your friend that was taken from you?”
They all nodded, but left Beau to explain. “He turned her against us. She didn’t want to, we know she doesn’t want any part of him, but he’s – controlling her somehow. And she follows the Stormlord but he’s not fucking doing anything to help. We’ve tried everything to get Yasha back, but his call over her or whatever the fuck it is isn’t something we can beat. We – I – think he’s going to try to replace her soul with someone else’s. We have to get her before that happens.”
“Who is this ‘he’?” Kima asked, intrigued. She’d never heard of soul displacement of a kind like that. Take over for a short time, sure, but nothing permanent like Beau was describing.
“Obann, a fiend. We killed him, the night he first took Yasha, but obviously she found a way to bring him back,” Fjord added his input.
Caleb jumped in. “He has a connection to – at least one – Betrayer God from the time of the eh, Calamity.”
“The point is, he’s too powerful for us, and we’re running out of time,” Beau finished. “We have to get Yasha back. We have to.”
Allura recognized the desperation in Beau’s voice akin to that she’d felt when she sent Vox Machina to Kraghammer after Kima all those years ago. She glanced down at Kima, and by the look in her eyes, could tell Kima was thinking the same thing.
“Will you help us? Please?” Jester asked, serious for the first time.
Kima and Allura looked at each other, silently communicating for a moment. “Yes,” Kima said for both of them.
“Hey Beau. Come over here for a minute; let’s talk,” Kima called.
Beau’s shoulders instinctively hiked up, then back down a split second later. If Kima hadn’t been looking directly at her, she would have missed it. She frowned, wondering what would cause the monk to be so defensive. She probably didn’t have the right to ask, but that never really stopped her. Beau wandered over and took a seat next to Kima, not quite making eye contact.
Kima decided to try and lighten the kid up first. “So – Beau. My wife was telling me the day you met you had a bit of a – wandering eye – shall we say?”
Beau blushed so hard it was obvious even with her complexion. “I – I, uh – I didn’t – nah, man. I mean – I didn’t know who she was, you know? You married her. You know she’s hot.” Beau cringed. “I mean uh.”
Kima’s laughter kept Beau from digging herself into an even deeper pit. “Relax kiddo. I’m just giving you shit.”
“Oh. Cool. Sorry, though. I don’t – interfere. Not my style.”
“What about this Yasha then? You obviously care about her, the way you were talking before. She more your style?”
Beau fidgeted with the ribbon on her staff, not making eye contact. “Even before all this shit, she wasn’t – available, I suppose. She had a wife who was murdered, and her whole thing with the Stormlord had her leaving us behind all the time. I feel like we’ve been without her just as often as she stays.”
“One of Vox Machina was like that for a long time. Pike is a follower of Sarenrae, and she often had to leave them for the sake of her goddess.”
“How did they deal with it?”
Kima sighed. “You cherish the moments you have with them, ‘cause you never know when it’ll be the last time. You trust that they’ll come back – that they’re always trying to get back.”
“I guess. How long have you and Allura been together?” Beau changed the subject.
“Oh, that is a long and complicated answer. We used to adventure around together too, you know.”
Beau nodded eagerly. “You defeated Thordak before he became the Cinder King. I read all about it at the Cobalt Soul.”
So that’s where she trained. She didn’t wear the uniform. Kima made a mental note to tell Allura that later. “Right. We lost most of our friends in that fight,” she said with a sad smile. Even after all these years, she still missed them. “Everyone but me, Allie, and one other. Allie and I had been together for a while but after that fight…it was too much. We went our separate ways for a bit. A bit turned into ten years of casual letters and only seeing each other once or twice. We were on different continents. I know she saw other people casually, and I tried, but – no one was Allie. Then, I got into some trouble on a mission for Bahamut, and Allura had a bad feeling and sent a baby Vox Machina after me.” Kima brightened at that, chuckling as she remembered how young and brash they had been. So confident in themselves – besides Keyleth, of course – and sure they were right. “After that, it didn’t take long for us to get back together. I returned to Issylra for a bit, but when everything with the Chroma Conclave happened, I went to Tal’dorei, and I haven’t left Allura since.”
“But enough about us. We’re old – mostly done adventuring these days. Allura’s busy – helping run the fucking continent and I help out where I can. But tell me about this place. Been a while since I’ve been somewhere entirely new.” Kima sat up straighter, a bit of excitement entering her features.
Beau glanced around. “Nicodranas? I mean – it’s interesting, I guess. Don’t know much about it. Didn’t grow up here. I’m from the Empire, been spending some time in the Kryn Dynasty, been all over the place recently.”
“Aren’t the Empire and Dynasty at war? How’d you swing that?”
“It’s complicated. I don’t – owe any allegiance to the Empire beyond my mentor from the Cobalt Soul, and we curried some favor with the Dynasty by returning a ‘sacred’ object they consider their god that was stolen by the Empire ages ago,” Beau gave the quick rundown. “Honestly it’s hard to keep straight anymore who we’re working for. Who’s on the right side and who isn’t. I can’t keep track. I – we – just want Yasha, and she’s in the Dynasty with fucking Obann, so that’s where we’ve been mostly. We had a clue that something that could help would be in this other – dimension – inside this thing we picked up from a friend. She called it the Happy Fun Ball.”
Kima chuckled. “Happy Fun Ball?”
“Yeah. Not fun at all – there was a dragon inside.” Beau shuddered, remembering leaving her friends behind on accident only to be met with Yasha’s furious expression the moment she reappeared on the ship. “But apparently there’s more to it, including a way to maybe kill Obann’s other follower, if we can get to it.”
“Huh.” Kima sat back, rocking her axe back and forth while she thought. “Well. That is a pickle.”
Beau hmphed. “No kidding.”
“Can’t promise you anything kiddo, but Allura and I will help if we can. You and the rest – you seem like you’ve got good heads on your shoulders, just a bit out of your depth. Can’t tell you how many times that happened with our last kids, including each time they decided to kill a dragon. Seems you’re one up on them already with that. We’ll head into this – ‘fun ball’ – and see what’s up. After that, we’ll worry about getting your girl back. So you can stop staring at mine,” Kima couldn’t help but tease.
The monk flushed again. “I wasn’t!” she protested over Kima’s laughter.