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the stuff of legends

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Pike dies first, of course. And then Vex. And then Vex again. Vax dies enough times that everyone except his sister stops keeping count, but the first one who really truly dies is Percy.

Soft, human Percival. He’s almost disowned Vox Machina by the time he dies, guilt and rage driving him to distance and drink. He shows up to a battle, too late and too drunk, no one has seen him in days, and he falls on a half-orc’s sword. It’s not that no one wants to bring him back, it’s just that Keyleth heals Vax first, on instinct, and Pike is absent and Vex’ahlia is far too angry to be forgiving. They bury him, of course. Everyone suggests they bring him to a temple at least once, and Vax many more times than that, but they don’t have any money to spare, Vex reminds them, and where are they going to find a temple out here, anyway.

Vax’ildan’s death is harder to swallow. He is still young and when the resurrection ritual fails, Vex’ahlia offers to venture Beyond. She plays at nonchalant, she’s done this before after all, but when her body fills with life again, Vax’s stays cold. She never talks about what happened and over the next few years, she turns to stone, angry and lonely and greedier than ever. She doesn’t tell them that it’s all a charade, that the shiny surface of gold has never seemed duller.

They fall apart after that, which is why no one can quite remember when Scanlan disappears. Pike is sure he kissed her goodbye and left a love poem on her pillow, but Grog is convinced he had several drinks with him after that. Vex pretends not to care. Keyleth knows she heard him sneak out of the Keep very quietly one night, knows he packed away every one of his things and picked every rose in her garden. She keeps this to herself.

It’s nearly a hundred years before Vex’s soul follows her brother’s. The surviving members all pretend to have different, separate lives by then, but they never sell the Keep, and when Vex gets sick, they all circle back to Emon, keep her company while she dies. Vex tells them she only lived this long to spite her brother, and Keyleth weeps because it’s the first time she’s heard Vax’s name in decades. Pike makes Vex as comfortable as possible, and Grog obediently collects each gold and copper from Vex’s thousands of hiding spots. She dies like an ancient dragon, each surface of her room covered in coin, tongue heavy with unsaid I love yous. The rest of them divide the money evenly, like Vex would’ve wanted.

Grog dies days later. He is terribly old and refuses to die anywhere but in battle, so he buys an axe with Vex’s gold and heads north, picks a fight with the first frost giant he finds. The day before he does, he takes Pike out for ice cream and tells her he loves her over and over and over again.

Pike lives to be five hundred. In her last years, she asks to live in Zephrya, lays down her holy symbol and her holy quest as she becomes too frail to do anything but fret over the Headmaster of the Air Ashari. The gentlest and sweetest members of Vox Machina are the only ones left, and they grieve together, tears slowly giving way to laughter. When Pike dies, Keyleth looks barely older than when they met.

Keyleth lives for another half millennium. When she is going on eight hundred, she meets a young bard in a tavern a few miles east of Zephyra. He shows her the ballads he’s writing, epic songs about groups of adventurers from long ago, ones who fought dragons and gods. Keyleth smiles and tells the boy he reminds her of someone she knew when she was younger, someone she slayed dragons with. The bard’s eyes widen, but she doesn’t tell him anything more. She doesn’t tell him how it feels to love and lose and win and fight, to be the stuff of legends. And even though her life is so much more than daggers and doors and pub crawls and puns, it is their names on her lips as she goes.