The afterlife is pleasant enough, Caleb supposes. It’s big, but it doesn’t take him too long to find his parents. He apologizes to them before anything else, of course, but Leofric and Una will hear none of it--instead, they kiss him and hug him close and make him feel loved and forgiven, all the things he could never have allowed himself back when he was still living.
Time doesn’t exist here; he finds Fjord and together they go fishing with Vandern and Caleb’s father, waiting for the next one of their friends to join them. It will likely be Beau, he knows. She’s human, too, much as she doesn’t look it much anymore, still able to hold onto her youth in a way Caleb wasn’t able to.
But it’s not Beau who joins them next.
His heart leaps to his throat when he sees him; his husband, his life partner, the love of his life, still looking as young and beautiful as he was when he left him. Of course he rushes to him and kisses him and holds him, even as Essek still has a shell shocked look to him, as if he’s still processing what has happened.
“Tell me you didn’t do anything stupid,” He tells him, in between peppering his face with kisses. Behind him, his parents and Fjord wait patiently for an (re)introduction, but Caleb must know first. If Essek killed himself because of him, he will never forgive himself. “You had so much time left. How are you possibly here already?”
“I think I was assassinated,” Essek blurts out, looking down at his chest for a knife wound that is no longer there. “One moment, I was planting flowers at your grave, and the next minute I was here.”
“How long?” Caleb asks, still keeping one hand on Essek’s forearm.
“Ah--a decade, I think?” Essek shakes his head, still a bit muddled by his post-death experience. “Since you died, at least.” He wipes at his mouth slowly. “I think the knife was poisoned, and that’s what did me in so quickly.”
“It happens so fast, doesn’t it?” His mother says, approaching from behind him to wrap Essek in a hug. “It felt that way for me, too. I’m Una, by the way.”
“Essek,” he says, suddenly shy when Caleb’s mother hugs him. “It’s so wonderful to meet you, finally.”
“You as well, my darling,” she kisses him on the cheek. “Thank you for taking care of my son.”
“He took care of me, too. We took care of each other.”
Leofric shakes his hand; Fjord tackles him with a hug. Questions are tossed around between them, about life and what happened afterwards, but it doesn’t last long before another pop, pop occurs.
It isn’t Beau who joins them next, though; it’s Jester.
Followed very, very shortly by Kingsley , of all people.
“Jester?” Fjord says, his voice shaking at the sight of his wife again. It takes Vandren knocking him hard in the shoulder to shake him out of his stupor, and he rushes to embrace her once again.
“What happened to you two?” Caleb asks, helping Kingsley up off the ground. “You’re both tieflings! You should have years left to--”
“Turns out, some people didn’t quite agree with the way I was running Darktow,” Kingsley’s eyes are squinting. “There was a coup.”
Jester, once she is done hugging her husband, knocks Kingsley on the back of the head. “I can’t believe you let us get murdered by pirates. ”
“Please stop hitting me. I’ve got, like, three people’s worth of memories all coming together in here,” he rubs at his forehead, then squints at Jester again. “Didn’t you murder me, once?”
“And I’ll do it again, too, if you need me to, Lucien. ” Jester glares at him.
“Lucien?” Caleb asks, hand still in Essek’s hand. “Kingsley? Mollymauk?”
“Pick one,” The purple tiefling groans. “I think we’re all here, all muddled together and the like. Oof.”
There’s another pop , and suddenly Yasha is there, too. “Oh, Beau’s going to kill me,” Yasha bites her bottom lip. “I guess those bugs were poisonous, after all.”
There are hugs and shouts of joy and reconnection, and then Yasha leaves them, just for a little bit, and brings a woman back with her. “Zuala,” she introduces them. “These are my friends, and my family.”
“Hello,” the woman says softly, and it’s not long before Jester and Molly-Kingsley-Lucien rush up to hug her and welcome her to the group.
Not even fifteen minutes later Beau does join, like they thought she might, and like Yasha feared, she does immediately tackle her wife. “You stupid idiot. You left me alone for five years all because you had to taste some fucking posionous fucking--”
Zuala pulls Beau off of her, and hugs her tightly, and the two of them just collapse on top of Yasha, before Molly jumps into the pile with them, and everything is as it should be.
It takes a while for any of the rest of the Nein to show up. For a long time, it’s just them and their families, and all is right in the world. Essek gets to know Caleb’s parents, and it doesn’t take long for them to embrace their son-in-law as part of the family. Jester goes and finds her parents and drags them to the meadow where the rest of them are waiting. Fjord finds his birth parents. Molly finds and apologizes to Cree. Caleb brings Astrid and Eadwulf over to join them. They all grab members of the Clay family, once they make their way over to this realm.
It’s nice, having all their friends and family together again in one place.
When Yeza dies, they grab him and drag him to join them, and Veth comes along not far after him. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for Caduceus.
He makes them wait quite a while, but he does come, eventually. He seems even wiser now, if that’s at all possible, at a ripe three hundred some years old.
He chides them gently. “You know, I contemplated bringing some of you back,” Caduceus tells the group, staring pointedly at Essek, Jester, Kingsley, and Yasha, who all look just a bit sheepish due to their early deaths. “Make you serve your time, let you die of natural causes. But the Wildmother said you were happy here. Who was I to disturb that?”
“We’re glad you didn’t,” Essek beams at him, still holding Caleb’s hand. “We are rather happy here, I think.”
“Well then, Mighty Nein,” Caduceus leans on his staff, even in death. “Friends, and family. Shall we find our next adventure out there?”