Chapter 4: The Chroma Conclave Arc
Story Arc Recap of Episodes 45-49
Episode 45: Those Who Walk Away
In a panic, Vax screams out for his companions’ help as he holds her lifeless body. Healing potions have no effect and Keyleth has exhausted her magic. Kashaw stands frozen in fear, knowing he can help, but afraid of the consequences of using his cursed magic. He decided the risk of revealing himself to the dreaded goddess Vesh is worth bringing Vex back from the dead. He kneels at her head and begins a desperate prayer. Zahra lends her magic to enhance the spell. Nothing seems to be happening. Vax, begs and pleads for the Raven Queen to take his soul in place of his sister’s. A shadowy figure walks from the tomb towards Vax, extends a spectral hand, nods to him, and then vanishes. Moments later, Vex’ahlia takes a deep breath and sits up, asking what happened. Vax, still in shock, just holds his sister tight. After taking a moment to process what has happened, Scanlan and Zahra carefully investigate the Deathwalker’s Armor and place into Grog’s bag of holding.
Vox Machina, in a somber mood, quietly make their way back through the temple and out to their campsite by the lake. Zahra gives Vex an Arrow of Dragonslaying she had crafted before their venture. She asks Vex to be strong and kill one of the dragon bastards for her. Keyleth suggests they all travel to Whitestone for a safe night’s rest. In the morning, they take the Deathwalker’s ward armor and a crystal necklace to Percy’s local cleric to be identified. They learn the armor has the power to resist elemental damage and gives advantage when making death saving throws. The crystal necklace holds a gateway into a tiny pocket plane that houses a beast named Godrick, the familiar of the last wearer of the Deathwalker’s ward.
The group decides to take some time and think about whether to open the crystal and release Godrick. Percy contemplatively tinkers in his workshop, too ashamed and embarrassed to face his companions. Vax broods in the shadows and dons the Raven Queen’s armor Deathwalker’s Ward. Grog visits an outhouse for a private heart to heart with Craven Edge, Scanlan listens inquisitively.
After taking the day to rest and make a decision on the crystal necklace, Vox Machina find a quiet, abandoned fortress where they can ‘safely’ release Godrick from the crystal. Scanlan aims the crystal in the center of the room and shouts “Awaken! Beast! Cruel or otherwise! Face your new master and know his name is Scanlan!” Light and smoke pour from the crystal and a hulking direwolf stands, baring its fangs at them. Keyleth and Grog calm the beast and offer him freedom, releasing him from the service of the Raven Queen. He turns and walks into the forest, looking back in thanks. The second he disappears, Vex excitedly tries out the crystal on Trinket the bear. It works beautifully and everyone is excited they don’t have to figure out how to get a bear across chasms, tunnels, and into taverns. Vox Machina agree that it’s time they visit the ruins of Pyrah and see if there are any survivors and try and close the portal to the plane of fire.
Episode 46: Cindergrove Revisited
Introducing guest star Chris Hardwick as Gern Blanston, the dragonborn necromancer.
Keyleth leads the group through a portal into Vasselheim, just on the outskirts of Pyrah. The evidence of Thordak’s rampage scars the devastated land. She can see a crater where the Fire Ashari settlement once was, a large glowing gash in the sky still erupting in flames. Keyleth begins her trek up the side of the volcano, her companions following behind. A handful of figures are holding a magma flow at bay. It seems there are some survivors of Thordak’s attack. Cerkonus, leader of the Fire Ashari, greets Keyleth and motions for the other Ashari to come. Among the group Keyleth sees her father, Korren, who has come to the Fire Ashari’s aid. They have a tearful reunion, then turn their attention back to the task at hand. The Fire Ashari and Air Ashari are focusing their energy on containing the lava flow from doing more damage, but the portal to the fire plane is still open and unguarded. Korren and Cerkonus ask for Vox Machina’s help in closing the rift.
Vox Machina trek into the crater towards the rift. The tear between planes continues to wreak havoc on the Cindergrove. Charred bodies and shattered trees litter the ground. Percy and Vex see a handful undead humanoids walking the ruins. Scanlan accidentally catches the attention of one of the zombies and it begins shambling towards the group. Vex and Vax move in and silently take the zombie out. Just as the body falls to the ground, a blue scaled dragonborn comes bursting through the shattered trees yelling for them to stop killing his pets.
Alarmed, the group is taken aback by this friendly, enigmatic candlemaker with a heavy Scottish accent. He introduces himself as Gern Blanston, a magical candlemaker and occasional necromancy dabbler. He invites himself, along with his zombie horde, to accompany Vox Machina in completing their mission. Gern introduces the group to his zombie pets Corl, Stimpy, and Fatty Arbuckle. Not far into their journey, creatures from the fire plane attack. Gern gives an exploding ice candle to his buddy Fatty Arbuckle and tells him to walk into the middle of the fire creatures. A freezing blast rips into the fire creatures. Vox Machina launches an attack, fighting their way to the entrance of the rift. Scanlan showcases his dick-lighting, fire elemental Keyleth submerges a foe into lava, the zombies have a dance party, and Gern learns that magma is very, very hot. Vex, saving Gern from an untimely death by lava, pulls him and his flying broom to safety. But Vex, deeply coveting his super cool broom, steals the broom away into the bag of holding before Gern registers what happened.
Surviving flame-breathing monsters, fire tornadoes, and bubbling lava pits, Vox Machina surround the blinding gash in the sky. Keyleth channels her druidic energy around the rift, her companions protecting her from attack. Cirkonus and the Fire Ashari make their way to Keyleth’s side and channel their energy try and close the portal. The portal heaves and cracks, wavering in the sky. Cirkonus calls out for more help. Gern pulls out his last candle, lights it, and hands it to zombie Corl. Shambling through lava and heat waves, Corl bravely makes it to the edge of the rift when the candle explodes. The tear shrinks and flickers and Keyleth seals the rift shut.
Episode 47: The Family Business
Keyleth and Cirkonus thank Gern for coming to their aid in a time of need. Still flustered from losing his broom and his zombie friends, Gern tersely accepts their thanks and heads back into the Cindergrove to rebuild his horde and search for a new broom.
Ash-streaked, exhausted and a little crispy, Vox Machina search for a safe place to rest. Scanlan suggests he try a new spell and conjures a doorway in the middle of the Cindergrove. He invites his companions into his humble abode, and stepping through the doorway, Vox Machina see a massive mansion, complete with a game room, fully stocked kitchen, training pit, and a large bedroom for each party member. 100 spectral servants bustle about, bringing food and bringing comforts to the group. Finally able to relax, everyone has a well-earned dinner settles in for the night. Vex, finally alone, examines her stolen broom. After trying several unsuccessful passwords, she brings the broom to Scanlan. They have a bonding moment over her thievery and he helps her identify the runes until they find the magic word. Vex takes a few wobbly, but exhilarating laps around his room.
Meanwhile, Keyleth and Cirkonus discuss the events that led to Thordak’s escape from the fire plane. He tells Keyleth they took a young woman in 4 years ago and taught her their ways. She showed great promise but recently grew cold and distant. Her name, Raishan. Keyleth recognizes this name as the green dragon Thordak commanded and realizes she must have infiltrated the Pyrah to gain access to Thordak’s prison. Vax and Grog separately dream dark, evil, frightening dreams of cursed armor and weapon, bringing nothing but death and heartache to their companions. The heroes rise the next morning and gather for breakfast, each lost in individual thoughts.
Vox Machina continue on with their plan to find Osysa the sphinx’s mate somewhere in the unknown wilds. On their journey they come across Pike’s hometown, Westruun, which has been ravaged by the Chroma Conclave. Vex coerces a local farmer named Reginald to tell them what happened to their town. Reginald says the town was attacked a week ago by a black and green dragon. A roving band of goliaths, in service to the dragons, overtook the surviving villagers and captured Reginald’s daughter. Vex worries the goliath band is Grog’s old crew, and sure enough, the descriptions match Grog’s former family.
Grog and Keyleth lay a trap for a goliath guard and capture a half cousin of Grog’s named Horis. Horis is surprised to see Grog alive, believing him to have been beaten to death for betraying his goliath herd years ago. Horis tells Grog the herd had grown to over 100 strong before the dragon attacks. The surviving 60 or so goliaths now serve the black dragon Umbrasyl, bringing him gold and food as sacrifices. After getting all the information he wanted out of Horis, Grog jams Craven Edge deep into Horis’ throat and mouth, draining the life from him.
Episode 48: Into the Frostweald
After the twins with Percy and Keyleth stealthily recon the goliath encampment, Grog discourages Vox Machina from taking action against his old herd. The herd is strong and well-fortified and Grog worries they are not strong enough yet and needs Pike’s help to face his family again. The group agree to continue their original plan to search for Osysa’s mate and uncover another Vestige of Divergence. They leave farmer Reginald with words of hope, promising to return with help to free his daughter and the rest of the town.
They travel to a village on the outskirts of town and look for any survivors. Searching a seemingly abandoned building, they find some frightened villagers, guarded by a few townsmen. Vox Machina see some familiar faces. A woman and her son, Elowen and Simon, greet them from behind the guards’ barricade. Simon remembers his rescuers that saved him from the child kidnapper Dread Emperor. Elowen lead them to the leader of their refugee camp, Cornelius. They ask him for any information on the Frostweald wilds in exchange for safe transport to Whitestone. Orc bands have been coming from the Frostweald in the night and attacking the refugee camp. Keyleth and Vex gather the women, children, and sick to send through to Whitestone. Elowen carries a letter from Vox Machina to Pike calling Pike to aid her companions in Westruun. Vox Machina take the evening to rest in Scanlan’s Mansion. They celebrate Pike’s arrival with a breakfast chicken feast and Vex attempts to show off her broom riding skills.
Early the next morning, the group resumes their journey into the Frostweald. Deep in the Stormcrest Mountains they uncover a solitary black obelisk surrounded by a field of broken statues. Keyleth goes in to investigate the obelisk when Percy realizes they have just walked into a den of basilisks. Five basilisks erupt from their burrows and surround the party. Vax and Grog slice and smash two beasts to bits while Scanlan, Vex, and Pike launch fireballs, arrows, and radiant fire towards the others. After an easy massacre, Vax takes a look around at the stone statues and recognizes Tyriok, the young mapmakers they befriended in Vasselheim. He calls Pike over to attempt to heal him. She concentrates on a prayer of restoration and his form slowly reverts to life. Pike realizes too late his arm is laying broken on the ground, still turned to stone. He begins to scream as his arm spurts blood all over Pike, who in a panic tries to unsuccessfully heal his stone arm back onto his body. She manages to staunch the wound but is still holding his arm. Once he calms down and assesses his situation, he thanks Pike for saving him and agrees to join the companions and lead them through the Stormcrest Mountains.
Episode 49: A Name is Earned
Vax continues to have strange nightmare visions of the Raven Queen calling him to her temple of death in the underbelly of Vasselheim. He keeps his disturbing dreams to himself but knows his debt must be repaid soon. Tyriok, the mapmaker, leads Vox Machina to the Orc encampment that has been terrorizing the nearby cities.
Vax asks Scanlan to give them a distraction to get in position. Scanlan goes waltzing into the camp, singing at the top of his lungs. Just as Scanlan reaches the center of the camp and finishes his song, his companions unleash a volley of attacks. Vex uses Trinket as a Pokémon cannonball to crush their enemies, Percy is all about trick shots to the face, Grog kills a bear, and a war chief, and a couple orcs, and rescues some prisoners.
With the orcs killed and the prisoners rescued, Vox Machina begin burying the bodies of the orcs’ torture victims. One of the survivors mentions they have seen Wilhelm, Pike’s grandfather, back in the town. Vex, on her broom, does some recon of the surrounding area. She finds a strange triangular entrance carved into the side of a mountain. Keyleth sends Tyriok and the rescued prisoners to Westruun to wait for passage to Whitestone.
Vex leads her companions to the entrance she found and they find a stairway leading to a still, bottomless pool with a glowing blue light far below, and walls carved with celestial runes. After deciphering the runes, Keyleth leads the group down into the pond through a portal they hope leads to the lost sphinx, Osysa’s mate. They find a room with four golden lion statues towering above them. More runes reveal a riddle that Vox Machina solve in the hopes of revealing the sphinx. Instead, sand begins pouring out of the mouths of the lions and threatens to bury the group.
Vex and Keyleth take flight, dropping a rope down to their companions. Grog grabs the two gnomes and hustles Vax and Percy up the rope. Fighting hard through the torrent of sand, the companions barely make it through the ceiling portal. Dusting themselves off, they find themselves in another stone room with a series of portals on each wall.
Scanlan walks to the center of the room and finds a large, dimly lit dais. A hulking shadowy figure begins to move towards him. The sphinx moves threateningly, growling, “what is my name?” A wave of energy sweeps over them, knocking Vex’ahlia, Scanlan and Grog to their knees. When they rise, the three have noticeably aged and feel their stamina draining. Grog draws Craven Edge and slices into the side of the sphinx. The blade releases a billowing smoke and Grog feels the blade grow stronger in his hands. Black spike extend an extra foot around the blade and it glimmers with necrotic power. As Grog lunges to attack, another wave of energy rips through the room. Time seems to warp around them, moving faster for some and in reverse for others.
Vox Machina dodge attack after attack from the sphinx while trying to solve the final riddle by shouting any name they can think of while whacking at the beast. Vex, in desperation takes cover in a small still pond in the corner of the room. To her surprise, Vex floats weightlessly in a freezing void where she sees a watery world and two glowing runes carved into stone doors. She emerges from the pool, realizing the runes spell part of the sphinx’s name and tells her companions to search with her. Percy finds more runes in a writhing sand pit, Keyleth discovers them in the burning column of fire, and Grog… zealously throws himself into the thrashing tornado, forgetting to attach himself safely outside the portal, and also remembering… he can’t read. Realizing he is floating too far out of reach of the portal, Grog attaches a chain and throws Craven Edge through the portal and catches a column on the other side. He pulls himself closer and closer to the portal entrance, grasping at the edge of the portal he sees Pike. She is holding the hilt of Craven Edge, wrapping her arms around the chain, the blade completely embedded in her abdomen. She weakly groans, “It’s ok Grog. You’re back. That’s all that matters.” Grog, in horror, rushes to his friend, the woman who saved his life and tries to take the blade from her body.
Grog’s worst nightmare is quickly becoming reality. How much longer will Vox Machina be able to hold off the Sphinx’s attacks before they finally figure out its name? And where will the Chroma Conclave strike next? Find out in the next recap of Critical Role!