All of the fanfiction I’ll be putting up is basically prose analysis, in the style of creative nonfiction, so I believe that it’s important to show my research. After all, this is only an insight check.
The study door unexpectedly opened, startling Cassandra. A worried
guard said hastily, “My lady, Vox Machina has returned. Carrying one of
their own. One of the gnomes, I think.”
Her heart sank with that too familiar dread. She forced her
voice steady to ask, “My brother? He’s among them?”
“He is, m’lady.”
“Good. I’d like to see him.”
The guard left. Alone, Cassandra let herself bow under the
weight of her anxiety. All those years thinking Percy was dead, only for him to
come back, and restore their home. Then disappear again for increasingly
dangerous battles. Leaving her full of fear that this would be the last she
ever saw him alive. They’d already brought him back dead once.
He never talked about the danger, if he’d died before or
since. He acted as if his silence could protect her. As if not knowing would
stop her from imagining every horrible thing that could happen to him. As if she
couldn’t see every new scar he brought back, and every blood-soaked tear in his
clothing. He played it off like the blood was just the mud they’d flung at each
other as children. He set off for dire battles like they were day hikes up in
Part of her understood. He’d never done well with nothing
going on. It didn’t match the tempest that had always been in his head, long
before their lives were torn apart. He’d always felt more at home when too many
things were happening. He blended in better, it was easier for him to hide
behind his mask of being fine. He was used to chaos, so he handled it better.
But he never could quite handle peace. She wondered if his friends saw how much
stress and pain he was holding back now. It wouldn’t last, it never did. The pressure
was holding him together. He’d fall apart again in its absence. If he didn’t
fall in battle first.
The sound of someone fumbling the doorknob brought her out
of her thoughts. Percy burst into the room, frantically saying something, but it
didn’t register through her shock. He was pale, shaking, limping, and grimacing
as he moved. Gore from close combat covered him, but it didn’t disguise his injuries.
The trickle of blood from a head wound stood out starkly in his white hair. Massive
polychromatic bruises framed his face and neck. His heavy jacket testified to the
damage: a dragon’s tooth sized rent in the front and back, a line of claw marks
down the back from the top of the shoulder past his other hip. The jacket was
hanging too poorly for him to properly hide what must have been a terrible gash
to his side. Her eyes froze on it. The layers of his clothes were absolutely shredded.
Even among the rest of the blood, the wash of gore that spread from that wound
Her mind tore her away to another part of the castle at
another time. The bodies of her parents, siblings, friends, lying scattered, lifeless,
covered in that much blood, passing her by as she snuck down the hallways
trying not to scream. She felt the flood of that old fear drag her under its
currents, and drown her in the specter of those inescapable horrors.
When he took her shoulders, she was so startled that she hit
him. He winced as she came back to herself, pleading with her in that overly
controlled way that he panicked, “Cass? Cass? Please- I’m sorry I’m a
wreck; I know. I know it’s bad, I know you’re scared, but there isn’t time for
that. I need the Gate Stone. We have to get to his daughter now.”
She stared at him, bewildered. “What?”
“We still have some problems. Please! I just need the
Gate Stone back from you.”
Percy? His daughter? Scanlan?”
He cringed, his mask of composure slipping just a moment.
“He fell. We couldn’t revive him. We’re still trying to bring him back.
His daughter might be able to call him back. I know-” He cringed again,
“I know what it would mean to him. Please…”
Cassandra took the Gate Stone off her desk and pressed it
into his hand. “I’m sorry. I hope it works.”
He took it and started for the door.
“Yes?” He didn’t turn around.
“I’m worried about you.”
“I know. I am- I know.” And he left.
She stared at the closed door a long time, silently crying,
despite herself, wondering how much longer she could do this. How much longer
until one of his friends asked her to help bring him back again.