“Behind the man in white, stepping out of the smoke, came a bloody
and limping Cassian Andor. He looked like a man who’d fallen twelve
stories and clawed his way back to the top. He looked as beautiful as
anyone Jyn had ever known, but she couldn’t spare a moment to even shout
actually, you know who i really want to meet the raven queen? cassandra.
because, let’s face it, cass is an improbable survivor, even when set against the likes of vox machina. she survived the massacre in her castle’s halls for a week. she survived, to some extent, three arrows to the chest – would this child know the difference between resurrection sickness and the pain of mortal recovery? she survived her first rebellion, because delilah wanted her – as daughter, as a sacrifice, as a prize. she survived the ritual for vecna only because vox machina ensured it failed –
– but did she? cassandra de rolo died in the snow when her brother left her. cassandra briarwood died when delilah fell in the tunnels and vecna screamed behind a wall that still stood. cassandra died, and died, and cassandra … cassandra is.
(i live as long as whitestone lives, percy tells keyleth after he has spent too many years running too far away from whitestone to understand that whitestone is pelor’s sun tree and ioun’s fallen temple far more than it is a cluster of houses and some crypts. cassandra knows. cassandra dies and lives again every time whitestone passes to new hands.)
it’s funny, really, how she’s only now free to want death, now that the worst things in her life are gone, now that her brother is safe and her town is free and her future expands before her once more. to die against or with the briarwoods would never be an end. to die now would be to sleep, and she is so, so tired.
(i am not a holy woman, she says to her brother’s foreign friends as the ghosts of her ancestors swarm around them, and the space in her heart and soul where the raven queen and erathis once fought for her resurrection aches and aches.)
cass spends a lot of time at the raven queen’s shrine anyway, thinking about the moments of death that she’s passed through and the ones she’s been denied. about the undead she’s killed, the ones she’s almost summoned, the ones she’s almost loved. why am i still here, again? she thinks, over and over, but she is so very tired, and not quite brave enough to ask.
(how do you do it? she asks vax one day, his wing curled around her as their feet dangle above zephra’s clouds. how do you see death, and love it, and want it and still – she rests her head on his shoulder, feels the raven feathers in his braids tickle her cheek, and does not finish her sentence.
because she loves me too, he says, and it is answer enough.)
the next time she goes to the raven queen’s shrine, she says, i will prove you were right to let me stay, and she is sure she sees the statue smile.