Sherri has never quite understood divine magic, raised as she was in the ways of arcana, brought up studying from well-weathered tomes of certain knowledge. She’s dimly aware that divine magic also sometimes involves books, or asking the sky for help, or hugging trees. Simple faith, not hard-won evidence.
Then she’s in the dark tunnel under the shop, an empty potion vial in her shaking fingers, watching Pike lay her hands on Shaun. There is no simplicity in this; it’s a complication of light and power, and she feels ashamed for thinking otherwise.
He inhales sharply. She drops the vial.
Bandages, salves, spelled-sterile swabs, potions, herbal teas, clean towels. Gilmore follows along behind Pike, ready with whatever she asks for whenever she asks for it.
Sherri’s whipping up potions as fast as she can. Most of Gilmore’s former connections are gone, but he keeps putting out calls for aid.
Their days all end the same way: Gilmore persuades Pike that she’s going to drain herself if she doesn’t stop. She eventually stops. They eat together, mix herbal concoctions together, and sleep the bare minimum before making their next rounds.
There is always a next day, a next round.
(Sometimes they hear word of Vox Machina.)
Draconia has vanished. Westruun is overrun. Emon is shattered. Refugees keep pouring into Whitestone. Cassandra’s extraordinarily calm about tearing her hair out over where to house them all, tallying Whitestone’s dead, locating their homes, moving people in.
(Sometimes they hear word)
Tofur and Asum come and go. Allura just goes. Sherri teleports out with her, comes back acid-burned but grinning triumphantly, arms full of scrolls. Salda cuts her mourning short to aid Cassandra.
Pike teaches the children how to roll bandages and fold slings.
(but not often, they hear word.)
The last thing Pike does every night before falling into an exhausted sleep is pray.
She prays to Sarenrae, of course. Sarenrae is her first port of call, her harbor, the safe place to which the tide rocks her every time.
But she has a sensible respect for other people’s deities, and acknowledges them too. Especially Bahamut, for Kima. She is torn between not wanting any more bloody dragons involved in this mess, and recognizing that the Platinum Dragon may yet be a powerful force for their side.
Dragon gods and arcanists buoy her faith now. The oddest of miracles.
Whitestone Castle is only drafty when one is sitting atop the ramparts, looking out over the city, counting the pinpricks of light and mentally fitting the faces, new and old, that belong to each friendly lantern glow.
“Come home,” Cassandra whispers fiercely, hoping the wind will take the words to her brother.
The wind, cold, brisk, gives her no reply. She hugs her knees to her chest, hoping he’s still out there. Not just for her own sake, but for all of her new friends, clinging to faith.
She only descends the stairs when the last light has gone out.
“I miss Scanlan’s singing,” Pike says. Sherri laughs in surprised agreement.
“I miss Percy, and I only met him again a little while ago,” Cassandra says.
“I miss Vex’s haggling.” Sherri shakes her head at herself. “And Shaun, that inanely mushy smile you get whenever Vax comes into the shop.”
Gilmore can feel that self-same smile stretching his lips just at the mention of Vax. “Oh, uh... Grog trying to understand anything magical.”
“I miss Grog so much,” Pike says, sniffling. “And Keyleth. I miss them all.”
“They miss us too,” Gilmore tells her, with perfect certainty. “All of them.”