Critical Role is one my very favorite things on the internet. I wear the badge of being a #critter with pride, but I usually keep my fandom contained within compliments, retweets and buying beautiful art made by other people. But something unusual happened this week. I felt inspired to write a story. To give you some context, I haven’t written fiction since I was in high school, and I have never even put my toes in the waters of fanfic. But I had to get this story out. This piece is made with more love than talent.
To give some brief context, this is set a few centuries in the future of the world of Vox Machina, the intrepid adventurers of Critical Role. I hope this story is the beginning of turning the adventures of Vox Machina into a series of folk tales, as they would have become in the decades after their real story ended. We’ll see how much inspiration I can come by.
Please be advised that the rest of this post contains spoilers up through Episode 68 of Critical Role.
Memory and Mercy
New Emon, circa 250 years Post Conclave
The children filed into the teaching hall in as orderly a procession the young and excited are capable of, finding their seats and chittering to each other. The hall was beautiful, lush green grass for a carpet, high windows streaming in the light. The students’ benches glowing warm wood, made that much more beautiful and inviting with Druidcraft carvings and living flowers climbing the legs. At the front of the space, their teacher waited with the patience only a long life can bestow. She had promised to start their day with a story, truly a history lesson hidden within a tale, another chapter in the famous adventures of Vox Machina, heroes of Tal’Dorei.
“Good morning, good morning students, let’s take our seats. It’s time to begin our lessons.”
“Mistress, Mistress, you promised us a story!” the students cried as they found their benches and chairs.
“Tell us ‘Grog and the Pony’!” she heard Callisto Brightheart shout out. “I want to hear about how the pony saved Grog and Scanlan from the evil dwarves! Please Mistress, it’s my favorite.”
It hadn’t really been that way, but these tales grow with the telling and the years gone by. Better to let the children believe a magic pony had rescued Grog and the Gnomish bard from certain death than the rather messy truth. Certainly Callisto was not ready for the real tale, she rode her pony every day and was becoming very attached to him.
“No, no, I want to hear ‘Vax’s Wings’!” piped the voice of Fen. “Tell us how he traded his favorite blade so he could fly and how he became best friends with the Queen of the Ravens, who saved Vox Machina again and again.”
Well, that last part was mostly right. Vox Machina’s bacon had been pulled from the fire by the grace of the Raven Queen more than once, but it was never a blade Vax had traded for her favor. Someday, the children would learn that the blessing of a god does not come in exchange for steel and leather.
She opened her mouth to speak, to tell the students what today’s tale would be and found herself cut short by another request.
“Mistress,” said the small voice of Quince, “please, I would like to hear ‘Trinket, Trinket, Little Bear’. Everyone knows that talking bears are the best! Tell us about all the times he saved Vex, oh please Mistress.”
She smiled. Trinket didn’t talk, not really. But it was true that he saved Vex many, many times. Saved her life, saved her soul and her sanity. She thought for a moment about perhaps giving in to Quince, and telling the children all about how when Trinket was just a cub, Vex found him and made him her family. But no, she had made a promise.
“Those are all most wonderful tales, my children. But you have heard them all already. I have a new story for you today.”
“Is it ‘Keyleth and the Sparkstone’?” called Hylas. “Or ‘Attack of the Dragons’? My sister says that one’s scary! I want to hear a scary story.” Sweet Hylas, for whom the dragons were never real.
“No Hylas. This is the story of Percival, who rose and fell, then rose again through the blessing of Sarenrae and the love of his family, Vox Machina. Listen well, children and heed my words. The pull of vengeance may be strong in this life, but the power of love is greater by far.”
The children finally quieted, as if by a spell. This story was definitely new. She looked over her students bright and beautiful, settled her shoulders and began.
“His name was Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III, which is a mouthful, isn’t it children?” She paused, steadying her breathing. “But we called him Percy.”