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Critical Role Shorts (Campaign 1)


RiversD

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I've started the epic journey that is catching up on Critical Role Campaign One, and decided to make a separate thread for any fics that might spill out along the way.

As I say, I haven't finished Campaign One yet (I'm on episode 37 right now) so I apologise if anything is incompatible with things to come. With that said...

 

Hesitation

ft. Percival Fredrickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III

 

“It’s not like you to hesitate.”

“What?” Percy had been cleaning his gun but looked up when Keyleth spoke.

“Earlier, when that stone giant went after Scanlan. You were aiming Bad News, but then you stopped for a moment. You shot it mid-leap instead, which admittedly looked much cooler, but I don’t think you were calculating for that.”

“Oh, that. Nothing to worry about.” Percy lifted an oil-stained rag and turned back to his gun.

“Percy!” Keyleth scolded.

“What?”

“That wasn’t exactly an answer.”

“Well, you didn’t exactly ask a question,” Percy pointed out. “So I’d say you got exactly what you deserved, wouldn’t you?”

He gave a smug little half-smile and rubbed the tip of his nose against his wrist. Keyleth rolled her eyes.

“Fine. Percival, why didn’t you shoot the giant while it was still on that ledge?”

“Well, since you asked so very nicely…” Percy didn’t look up from his work this time, and Keyleth couldn’t help but feel he would rather not answer. Odd, since if he really didn’t want her to know something he would just tell her so. Was it shameful, then? Was he embarrassed?

“I thought I was about to sneeze.”

Keyleth hadn’t expected that.

“You were going to sneeze?”

Percy’s cleaning motions took on a brusque edge that Keyleth had come to associate with exasperation, and his tone became somewhat condescending.

“Obviously I didn’t, but I try not to take that chance when I’m using Bad News. I could blow up half our party if I skewed my aim like that.”

“Oh. Sorry, it’s just… not the sort of thing I expect to come up.”

“Why not? Everybody does it. In fact, I-”

Percy’s hand stopped partway along the barrel, and he raised his head slightly, bringing his face into her view again. He drew a slow breath through his nose and let it out in a sigh.

“Percival?”

“ssh!” he hissed, and Keyleth fell dutifully silent.

Percy’s eyes closed, concentrating. His mouth fell slightly open and Keyleth watched as his breaths grew shorter, his delicate features creasing in readiness as the impulse rushed towards its climax.

hih-ih-iht’sshhooh!”

He bent low, sneezing away from Keyleth and his gun, towards the ground.

Ugh. That’s better. Excuse me.”

“Bless you.”

Percy sniffed and rummaged in his hip pocket for something not covered in oil that he could wipe his nose with.

“Sorry,” he added, when dignity returned. “That was- you know how a sneeze can come and go for hours before it finally makes up its mind?”

Keyleth cocked her head to one side as she considered this.

“I don’t actually think that’s ever happened to me.”

“No? Bully for you, then.”

Percy thrust his makeshift handkerchief back into his breeches and cleared his throat. Then he took up the oiled rag again.

“Are you alright, though?”

“What?”

Keyleth smiled. Percy was already fully focussed on his gun. It might be a worrying obsession, but it could also be endearing.

“Just checking that you’re alright. That wasn’t a sign of something?”

“What? Oh. No, just a stray.”

“Good. I’ll leave you to it. If you change your mind, you know how to find me.”

“Yes.”

And just like that, he was back in the zone. She was almost out of earshot before he remembered his manners.

“Thank you, Keyleth. Always.”

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Watch
ft. Vax'ildan. Short thing, might turn longer later if I ever find the words.

 

The first Vex’ahlia knows of it is a gentle hand on her shoulder, stirring her to consciousness too early for her watch.

“I’m sorry, Vex’ahlia. I do not think I can-”

Vax’ildan’s voice cuts off, and she hears him clearing his throat close beside her. Vex’ahlia rolls over and pushes herself up, concerned but in no great hurry. Vax would have shown a bit more urgency if he needed her on full alert.

“Brother?” she whispers. “What’s wrong?”

Vax’ildan shifts so that he can face her. The two of them are sharing a natural hollow beneath a gorse thicket tonight, and there isn’t much room to manoeuvre. Trinket couldn’t fit, but he is nearby, in a gorsy nest of his own.

Vax swallows, and rubs the back of his neck.

“I’m having trouble staying awake,” he confesses. He sounds embarrassed by the very idea, but she can tell it’s true. Vax’s eyes lack their usual focus, and he can’t seem to keep his head up. But he must really be struggling to have woken her early.

“That’s not like you. Do you know what’s causing it?” It must be something physical, Vex knows. That kind of magic has never been able to affect either of them.

“I’m not sure.” Vax frowns, then scrunches his nose as an expression of foggy concentration falls across his face. Vex’ahlia recognises this as a sign that her brother is engaged in a futile battle of will against his own body. He loses, as he always does, and sneezes across his far shoulder.

“hhhuh’CHHHuh!

As usual, every muscle in Vax’s body seems to tense simultaneously with the sneeze, and the twigs by his back crackle as he moves. Vex’ahlia frowns.

“Bless you. Are you sick?”

Vax shrugs and sniffs. “Possibly.”

“Ugh.” Vex’ahlia pulls a handkerchief from her pocket and thrusts it towards him. “Blow your nose, don’t sniff. Have you forgotten all your manners?”

Vax scowls at her, but does as he is told. He looks surprised by how much he needs it, and Vex’ahlia just barely keeps from rolling her eyes.

“Go to sleep,” she tells him. “I’ll watch until dawn.”

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  • 2 years later...

Favoured Terrain

Set in the early part of episode 95, ”One Year Later…” Mild spoilers Re: relationships, side quests, etc.

Library dust-provoked sneezing from both Vex'ahlia and Percival.

 

 

 

“Alright, I will admit,” Vex’ahlia announced. “This is a well-stocked library.”

Percy smiled at her. “Thank you. It is the work of many generations.”

“You’re not going to impress me with your family tree, Percy. Stop trying.”

“I see. So you only care about the wealth and beauty they left behind?”

“Shut up.” Vex'ahlia gave Percy a hard shove, forcing him to take a step to the left or lose his balance. He rested his right hand against the nearest bookcase, initially for additional support, and then to keep track of his progress along the row of books. Altar inscriptions, survey of religious affiliations (14 vols), sacrificial rites of Wildemount…

He realised that Vex'ahlia was being uncharacteristically quiet.

Percy turned his head to look back at her. She was biting her lip, which probably meant that he had gone too far. That needed fixing.

Vex caught his eye before Percy could find the right words and visibly pulled herself together, straightening up and passing a finger quickly beneath her nose. Her voice sounded almost natural when she asked:

“You know that isn’t how I meant it, right?”

“Of course. You knew that I was simply teasing, yes?”

“Of course.” Vex'ahlia mirrored him, not quite convincingly. Percival stepped closer and, placing two fingers beneath her jaw, gently lifted her head to look at him.

“Vex'ahlia my dear, I have travelled with you long enough to know there is a warm and vital woman beneath that cloak of icy gold-lust.”

“Keep talking like that and you’ll live to regret it.”

“See? You’re practically fire-breathing.”

“You’re an ass, Perciv-”

Vex'ahlia wrinkled her nose and turned away in the middle of her sentence, somehow managing to roll her eyes at her body’s poor timing even as she prepared to sneeze.

eh- hh'tsschiuh!

She sniffed hard, and twitched her nose again in pure annoyance. It was far cuter than she would ever wish to know.

Percy smiled. “Bless you.”

“Ugh, thanks. It’s dusty in here.”

Vex drew a sleeve across the underside of her chin, where Percy had touched her. He glanced down at his fingers. There was a faint discolouration, even in this light.

“It is, isn’t it? I can’t imagine cleaning in here has been a top priority lately.”

Vex scrubbed the tip of her nose, lending it a subtle shine in the lamplight. “You don’t seem bothered.”

He smirked at her. “I spent the greater part of my youth exploring libraries of this sort. This is practically my favoured terrain.”

“Ass.”

“Oh, without question.”

Percy dodged the pinch she aimed at his rear and moved farther along the bookcase. It wasn’t long before he managed to distract her with a debate on whether to concentrate on religious practices or the myths (and histories) on which they were presumably based.

“No, I want to know if Orcus can be killed, not what his followers think his… favourite incense might be!”

“I think you’re really underestimating the value of knowing the form- oh. Bless you?”

Vex nodded, her mouth hanging half-open as the urge to sneeze which had distracted her made its way gradually to fruition.

hhieh…ht'ch-ieuhh! ah'tssschiuh! Gods.”

She fumbled in one of her purses for a pale handkerchief and blew her nose hard enough to make her eyes water. Tucking it away again, she glared at Percy as though daring him to comment. It was alluring enough to make him completely forget the argument he had been about to make.

He swallowed, smiled, and went in a different direction.

“Alright then, compromise. We look for histories of the Calamity and any other battles we can find involving gods and lesser beings. That ought to give us more than incense preferences.”

“Good idea.” Vex sniffled wetly. “Ugh. Let’s make this quick.”

Percy complied, moving confidently through the library despite his long years of exile from its friendly shelves. The layout of the books remained familiar, though the further he walked the harder it became not to be distressed by the signs of neglect throughout the library. In some areas he was actually leaving footprints, and the coloured spines of the books were masked by deadening brown and grey.

Fortunately, dust was an impermanent veil, and Percy knew his way around well enough that he didn’t have to dirty his hands revealing too many titles. Between them they collected a three-volume archaeological study of Calamity-era battlegrounds, a slim grey book about the creation of the Divine Gate, and an epic poem that Percival swore would have historical insights.

“How many books do you want to carry out of here? We could keep gathering forever, but even I can only read so many pages per hour.”

“We probably don’t need many more than this,” Vex'ahlia conceded with a sniff that suggested that the urgency of their research was facing stiff competition from her desire to get out of the dust. “Two or three?”

“Very good. Stay here for a moment.”

So saying, he hurried off to the far wall and disappeared behind the next row of shelves. When he returned, he was partially obscured by a ladder slightly more than twice his height with hooks at the top. Vex tilted her head and watched him, not bothering to help him manoeuvre it.

“There should be something relevant on that upper shelf.” Percy pointed around the ladder. “That’s History of Magic: Divine.”

Following his gaze up, Vex noticed that the bookshelves had a long rail running along the top, clearly intended to connect to the library ladders. She nodded.

“Alright, you hold the ladder for me. I know you’re not good with heights.”

Percy gave a self-conscious chuckle. “It’s really not a problem when the drop is less than fifty feet, but be my guest.”

He moved the wheeled ladder into place against the shelves and averted his eyes as Vex made her way up. Then he remembered that he had seen her naked many times and decided to watch appreciatively instead. This was just as well, because it allowed him to see the stiffening of Vex’s shoulders and the backward tilt of her head in time to grip the ladder a little tighter as she sneezed.

hieH'tChh'uh! h'tschh’iiuh! 

“Gods bless you!”

“It’s even worse up here!” she complained.

Percy winced. “Sorry. Try not to make any sudden moves.”

“Ha ha ha. snff.

Vex scanned the book titles, then turned her face carefully away as she drew one gently out from the shelf. A cobweb attached to its spine snapped as it emerged, covers stiff with disuse. A thin stream of dust tumbled into the space below, billowing and spreading until its individual components were all but invisible to the naked eye. She heard Percy clear his throat as it settled down around him.

She laid the book on top of the volumes on the shelf below and went back to reading other titles, not wanting to make a second trip if she had missed anything. She was on the point of reaching out for one when she heard a soft sound of distress from below her.

“Oh, gods…”

“Percy?”

“Do you think you could hold on to something?” Percy’s voice was strained and Vex made sure to get a good grip in the bookshelf before looking down.

She was just in time to see Percy release the ladder and take a faltering step back, hands rising to his face. His eyes were screwed shut by now, and his whole expression was one of sublime irritation.

huh‘ssschuh! hdt’CHUH!”

Viewed from above, it was almost as though Percival was being operated by a puppeteer. Absent his usual grace of movement, the thin, angular nature of his limbs became exaggerated, and the harsh downward snap of his head only added to the illusion.

hah- heht'CHHUHh!

The sound of each sneeze seemed harsher than the last, as though they were steadily escaping his control. The idea was rather attractive.

Bless you.”

Percy blinked sheepishly up at her. “Thank you. I’m terribly sorry, it just came over m- ehh… oh gods…”

His face crumpled again, eyes still upturned but no longer paying attention to anything beyond the returning itch that had his nose wrinkling and nostrils flaring, impatient to sneeze. One hand danced around his pockets, probably looking for a handkerchief, but running out of time. He buried the sneeze in a hastily-raised elbow instead, bending almost double with the force of it.

huHH'SCHHUh! hhuh- ghSCHH'uhh!

Percy staggered sideways, caught himself, and sniffed hurriedly to maintain what scraps of dignity remained. He found his handkerchief without further issue and blew his nose firmly. Looking annoyed and distinctly flushed around the face, he approached the ladder again.

“I think that’s all. Carry on.”

“If that’s the way things are, I think I’d better hurry it up.”

Percy didn’t deny the inference. Vex grasped the second book that had taken her fancy, added it to the first and slid down the ladder fast enough that she was briefly entangled in Percy’s arms at the base.

Giggling, Vex stepped neatly to one side and pushed her hair out of her face. Then she leaned back in and poked the blushing tip of Percy’s nose with one finger.

“I thought you laughed in the face of dust?”

Percy sniffed reflexively and cleared his throat again, probably more from embarrassment than necessity. “I’m resistant, not immune.”

“Hmm. In that case, perhaps we ought to take a few choice volumes up to your room and see what we can make of it there.”

“Of course, far lower chance of distractions there.” Percy made eye contact with Vex and found an answering mischief to his own. “An excellent idea, in fact. Lead on.”

Edited by RiversD
typo
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  • 3 weeks later...

These are absolutely gorgeous! Love your writing style! If you decide to do a few more, I really wouldn't object to a sick/allergic Pike and caretaking Vex! Aside from Trinket, they're my fave characters from campaign 1!

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  • 2 months later...
On 1/23/2022 at 11:41 AM, MusicaDiabolos said:

I love these! Just started on campaign 1 :)

Welcome! I hope you're still enjoying it! I've just started the final story arc, so that's what, 50 hours left? :lol: I keep falling behind on the current campaign too, so I'm moving slowly...

On 2/12/2022 at 10:54 PM, MIN said:

These are absolutely gorgeous! Love your writing style!

Thanks so much! I really appreciate it ❤️ .

 

This one's been sitting in my drafts since forever, and I finally decided it wasn't going to progress any further than this! 1.3k words, Lady Allura with a mild cold. Set post-Briarwoods probably, but generally timeline-agnostic.

 

Lessons Learned

Allura was already seated at one end of a long research table by the time Kima showed Vox Machina into her library. She was wearing a floor-length robe in her usual deep blue, and her long braids were pinned back out of her way. There was a barely-visible halo of escaped hairs around them, suggesting that she hadn’t had time to re-braid them in a while.

Kima strode up and sat down on Allura’s right. Vox Machina took the hint and seated themselves around the table as well. Vex spoke first.

“Good morning, Allura. Have you got something for us?”

“Indeed I do, though I may have uncovered more questions than answers.” Allura’s voice cracked very slightly on the close of her sentence, and she took a drink from the gently-steaming mug at her elbow. “This project of yours has turned out to be something of a rabbit hole.”

"Really?" Percy leant forward. "How so?"

"Well, this 'Lord of the Cloven Gateway' you asked about wasn't referred to under that name in anything I could find in my library. I did find a reference to a 'Cloven Doorway' in a treatise about the Feywild, and that led me to this..."

Allura hefted a weighty tome onto the table with a small grunt of effort. She coughed as she straightened up, and hastily took another drink.

"A colleague in Wildemount has an extensive collection to do with the Feywild and its associated pocket dimensions. He was good enough to grant me access to a part of it to continue my research. We found a number of similar terms and came to the consensus that, due to the age of the majority of the references, we were probably dealing with various translations of the same idea."

A pause. Allura cleared her throat, seemed displeased with the result, and drank from her mug again. She resumed.

"This book contains the most explicit account we could find. It is the record of a bard named Sipater who made a journey through the Feywild attempting to collect stories from its residents. As you might expect, these stories are of very dubious origin and veracity, but... well, you should take a look at this one."

Allura opened the book to a marked page and slid it down the table to Vex'ahlia.

"The Bell and The Forbidden Door," she read. Her finger rested on one of the illustrations. "Percy- that symbol..."

"I see it." Percy shuffled his chair a little closer to hers. Vax'ildan rose from his own chair and came to hover behind his sister, reading over her shoulder.

"It's the same as on that goblet."

"Not quite," Percy corrected her. "I think this part's a little different. Grog, do you have the cup?"

They were excitedly comparing the two marks when the more perceptive members of their party noted a frustrated huff of breath from the head of the table. Vex turned her head to see Allura with her eyes closed, one bent knuckle pressed against the tip of her nose.

Holding it there in an attitude of some concentration, she reached into some inner fold of her robe and retrieved a pressed handkerchief, dyed a lighter blue than her customary aesthetic. She unfurled it and raised it to her face, cupping her hands neatly around it as she gave in to the hovering sneeze.

ah-tsschh'hue!

She pinched her nose through the handkerchief and gently lowered it to her lap. Glancing up to see that everybody’s attention had been momentarily drawn to her, she cleared her throat and murmured:

“Excuse me.”

Percy nodded and turned back to the book. “Bless you.”

Keyleth was frowning, her mouth open in a ready ‘o’ for some moments before she actually spoke.

“Are you alright, Allura? You just seem…”

“She’s got a cold.” Kima cut in before Allura could answer, and Allura let the breath she had taken out in an exasperated sigh.

“Kima…”

Keyleth’s mouth had dropped open again.

“Oh.” She pulled herself together. “I mean, that makes sense! I just never… I mean, it’s the sort of thing I think of as happening to other people.”

“It doesn’t happen terribly often, to be fair.”

Since the attention appeared to be staying on her regardless, Allura lifted her handkerchief and pressed it beneath her nose for a couple more seconds. Vex pretended not to notice the wet marks on the cloth as she lowered it again.

Kima leaned back in her chair, watching Allura but addressing the others. “She’s actually telling the truth. She’s got an annoyingly strong constitution for a mage. But she’s been working herself ragged for weeks on this thing. Too many meetings and not enough sleep.”

“It’s not-” Allura caught Kima’s eye and finished weakly- “just that.”

“We should apologise, then,” said Vax. “I can’t speak for everybody, but I certainly didn’t intend to burden you with something so taxing.”

Allura waved him down. “It’s a pleasure, truly. It is inconvenient to catch cold at such a time, but these th-things- pardon…”

She turned her face away from the table, raising her handkerchief again. Her breath warped into a high-pitched gulp and she sneezed with greater urgency this time.

hah-tisschh'euhh!

Bless you.” Keyleth chewed on her lip for a beat, then asked: “Would you like me to cast a restoration? I’m pretty sure those work on colds.”

Allura shook her head. “Thank you, but I’d rather let this run its course."

Kima snorted. “She won’t let me fix her up either.”

“I let you and Dohla fix my every little ache and sniffle for three years, Kima. I don’t think it was very good for my immune system.”

Kima rolled her eyes and turned back to Vox Machina.

“She’s still mad about the time she caught the same cold three times in two weeks."

"Kima!"

"That can happen?" Keyleth asked.

Kima cast a swift glance at Allura, who was too busy suppressing a coughing fit to object, and shrugged.

"Apparently it can if business keeps you trapped in the same town for a while and there's something nasty going around. I don't care as long as I've got enough spells to get rid of it, but she thinks bodies need to learn their lesson or something."

Allura raised her head with a deep, if shaky, breath and sighed. "I have explained this to you multiple times."

"Yeah, and some of those times I was even listening. I respect your choices, don't I?"

"Your restraint is appreciated." Allura sniffed firmly, both to punctuate her statement and because the steady flow of congestion had occluded her diction to the point of embarrassment.

"If you're looking to heal naturally, surely you should be resting?" Vax pointed out. "Don't let us keep you here if you need to take care of yourself."

Allura gave him a one-sided smile. "You are very kind, but I've worked through much worse."

"Not the point!" Kima all-but-shouted out. Allura ignored her.

"If you are likely to cross paths with any of the entities referenced in that tale, it is vitally important that you know as much as possible about their history."

"She's got a point," Percy chipped in. He had stayed bent over the old book during the others' discussion and was several pages into the account. "This stuff sounds dangerous."

"Very dangerous, even for you." Allura drained her mug and set it down firmly on the table. "You can make more of that if you like, Kima. I'm staying until they have a well-informed plan for whatever madness they have stumbled into now."

"A plan? This lot? No offence, you guys, but-"

Allura held up a hand to cut Kima's observations short. "Yes, perhaps you'd better bring me an extra handkerchief as well. I may be here for some time."

 

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Ohoho! I liked this very much! I am technically still on early ish campaign one (Allura and Kima have already been introduced for quite some time though) but the amount of spoilers I've seen for everything else, jee wiz! 

This was great!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I’m a brand new Critter too, thanks to the cartoon.  Just a couple months since then and I’m down to the last 5 episodes of campaign 1. The twins have my heart, and I’m addicted to Vax whump, so I particularly liked that earlier short you did. 

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