Beau was about eight years old, probably just now starting to realise she’ll never be good enough for her father.
Jester is about the same age, locked up in her small room, drawing the traveler on the walls and reading books and looking out at the ocean.
Fjord just recently got out of the orphanage, legally an adult and completely adrift, if it wasn’t for Vandran who took him in and gave him an anchor.
Yasha and Zuala were probably falling in love
Caduceus’ family was all still very much in the grove. Clarabelle was very young, possibly a toddler or a very small child if her description of “in her late teens” is to be taken at face value.
Veth was eleven years old, a child running away from her bullies. She probably didn’t even know Yeza yet. Didn’t know there was someone who would love this little halfling girl who was just… not.
Since we are told Molly’s body is about 20, maybe a little bit older, Lucien can’t be older than five or six. He’s a child, freezing in Shadycreek Run, dreaming of something greater, something more.
Essek hadn’t even made contact with the Assembly. He’s probably only a few years into his role as Shadowhand, bright and young and weighed down by expectations.
Where were the Mighty Nein when Caleb got out of the sanatorium:
Beau was 19, deep in crime, making money by stealing her father’s wine and selling it. She’s only a year away from being taken away by the monks.
Jester is sneaking out a lot, nineteen and much better at what she’s doing: better at sneaking, better at tricking, better at drawing. Reading her romance novels and wondering when she will meet her one and only. Yearning for a life beyond the walls of her home, but not wanting to leave her mama behind.
Fjord is out at sea. He’s gained more confidence. He knows his place on the ship. Vandran cares about him. He has a competition with Sabian. He doesn’t know that in less than three years, they will be betrayed. He will sink into the waves.
Yasha, the orphanmaker, is empty and numb. She is trapped in her own mind, with Obann’s iron grip around her mind, leaving a trail of blood.
Caduceus has been alone for a few years now. He’s starting to wonder when his family would come back home. He’s starting to get gaunt and unhealthy, like his forest decaying around his little home.
Veth just married the love of her life. They are young, and happy, and have the future ahead of them. They’re trying for a child.
Lucien and the Tombtakers are about a year or so into their operation. They’re fresh-faced and Lucien is charismatic and they work the odd job of stealing and smuggling and whatever they can.
Essek is a mere two or three years away from giving away two Luxon beacons to Ludinus. He’s bitter and jaded and doesn’t have much belief in his country. He’s more experienced, more ruthless, and just as alone, despite the people he calls colleagues across the border. And some of it maybe because of them.
anyway the thing about essek and jester's bond, and the difference between essek & beau's, is that there is this sort of reverence essek has for jester that is sorta intoxicating.
i mean reverence as in she embodies everything he could never had or is or will be and he loves her so much he truly does but at the same time, he puts her on this midly condescending pedestal as in he thinks and fully believes that she could never do truly wrong, and if she does, it'd never begin to amount to what he has done, and therefore, she is not capable of bad.
which is... wrong, obviously, and she'd tell him so regularly, "i have done bad things, essek. like, a bunch," and he'd always reply with, "not like i have." and of course it is true. nobody will compare to that, and those who do, usually don't feel remorse or try to change like essek's trying to; his situation is one in a million but there are billions of people on their plane and the next, so. So. but i degrees.
what i was saying is that, it's not that essek believes jester is flawless or that he ignores her flaws, but it's in the way that the good outweighs the bad that leaves him a bit skewed with his judgment. and jester believes he might need this, the belief that there's untainted good in the world, so she kinda lets him get away with it, but she never lies and is always honest and tries to make him understand; but alas, baby steps.
& to the early point, the difference between jessies's bond & essek & beau's is that, meanwhile essek stills believes he's the worst of the two (and he'd be right, of course, and beau'd agree to it), to me, there is this sorta of unspoken cynical bond between them that allows them to relate and relay on each other in a very specific way.
they have both seen how corrupted the world truly is, specifically in the political sense and how that can affect familiar bonds, have been in the thick of it, beau primarily as a victim of abuse of power and essek being the one to abuse power, and they have both come out on the other side as better people without losing sight of the fact of how fucked the world is.
so i think there's that kinship between them, and also the shared reverence they have for jester with beau trying to make essek understand that maybe that sort of worship is kinda fucked up too for both of them and that seeing her as just another living being capable of mistakes is better for him & jester too. also they love caleb like a ton in strictly opposite directions which is it's own fun can of worms.
but yeah i dunno, i find essek's friendship with the nein very fascinating, specially since he like never experienced true friendship much less the various facets in which it presents itself and yeah. him on da mind 24/7.
Drunk Caleb being candid that he wants to go home. Home to the Empire. He wants to make the Empire home again. And saying he needs Beau and Nott with him, that’s he wants them all but he needs the two of them. As his best friend, Nott and his partner, Beau the other child of the empire.
And I’m crying because right before the drink Caleb got from Beau, he was happy and he was dancing. But I guess Caleb is one of those people who like 3 drinks you get dancing Caleb but then 4 drinks you get sad I need my friends Caleb.
And now Beau is getting into it, she doesn’t want to leave them. And her being happy that they are all codependent and not just that codependent on each other.
Veth of course wants to leave, the entire reason she was doing all this was to be with her husband and son. But I don’t want to lose Veth (Sam did this to us once, I didn’t like it, don’t recommend). But I also understand, she wants to be with her family! I hope Caleb can help her ‘commute to work’.
Yasha asking if she can stay with them, as if she doesn’t already have her own custom painted room at their house! Of course they want you!
Why are they getting so heavy! They are at Traveler Con, at a party! Be happy, my babies! And they basically closed down the bar at the party to have their drunk heartfelt conversation.
Extra bit, Jester wants to use her special to make clothes, she asks if they would be actual clothes and Matt is like “yea your jesters of course you can”. A great way to use the ‘rule of cool’ for dnd.
Some of my most favorite completely pivotal, campaign-changing moments from Critical Role Campaign 2, in no particular order:
-walking through a literal, not-space-related, massively long tunnel-like worm hole from one continent to another. with no DM prompting to do so. they chose this.
-almost killing a weird purple dude with a weird geometric object, letting him go only for him to get killed by the government an instant later, and then being like “well I don’t want the GOVERNMENT to have whatever that is” and stealing it back on a whim. and then just. carrying around a powerful magical relic of unknown significance. for months. just jangling around in their bags and occasionally being whipped out for a once-a-day reroll. this thing started a WAR and then disappeared from under the noses of TWO NATIONS and these random adventuring chucklefucks had it the whole time
-appearing for an audience before a queen of a foreign land wearing BDSM gear and whipping out one of their lost religious relics
-The Wildmother loving her weird pink son enough to give him THREE successful divine interventions
-relentlessly attempting to become best friends with a war criminal even after learning that he started a war
-accidentally stealing a pirate ship. not ~accidentally stealing~, actually on accident stealing a pirate ship with no intentions to do so prior to stealing the pirate ship. and then going “I guess we’re pirates now.”
-Fjord flipping off a sea god and destroying his weird sea sword and then refusing or forgetting to get rid of the weird sea orb inside him and then going out to sea after he pissed off the sea god. multiple times.
-Yasha cannot make a wisdom saving throw to save her life her free will and it changed the course of the story. multiple times.
-negotiating peace between warring nations, and then dipping out to go organize and attend a cult convention
-going to their first ever big city and being like “what do we do now? crime? is crime what we do now? crime?” and committing treason and conspiring to murder a city official and joining a crime syndicate led by a wet dude who later turned out to be Jester’s dad
i hc that amongst a thousand other things essek's wardrobe changes after the nein, & it's mostly because jester loves clothes and shows love through them too so whenever she gives essek an accessory or clothing item that reminded her of him essek has absolute no other choice than wear it as much as possible.
it's starts with the parasol, then gardening gloves, which were both made with essek around so they're the most discrete as much as ruffles and lace like patters can be discreet, but then in her journeys she's starts to find eccentric jewelry and wildly out of fashion, out of age, camisoles and embroidered pants and she keeps most of them because they're funky and she loves them but then there's the ones that are dark and/or purple and have geometric shapes in silver, with spikes or in soft velvets, maybe sometimes even with amber thrown in there, and what is she even supposed to do then! like she has to now! he'd totallyyy love them!!
and essek. essek always tries them on the minute she hands them to him, and he always does a little pose, sometimes even stays stills as jester draws him and it makes his heart grow in size and warmth and he's always, always thrown for a loop, gets stuck on it for a while, because he doesn't think it'd ever fully click, or he'd fully understand or much less believe that she loves him this much and he loves her just as much and then some.
he thinks that to be loved by jester lavorre is a gift and a blessing that should be treasured like the most precious of gems, even if she gives it out freely or maybe because she does, so he keeps it close to his chest and loves back with everything he has, even if (or maybe because) it means he has to wear bat shaped sunglasses and pattern on pattern suits.