The Nein have arrived at the Evening Nip! The Gentleman nervously greets the companions noting they have a young child, and of course the long lost love of his previous life travelling with them. He makes the guests comfortable and pulls Jester aside to have a quick little “what the hell Jester” chat. Of course Jester reassures him that she definitely did not Parent Trap him on purpose, this was literally the only safe place she could think of to bring her mother. Really? The headquarters of a thieves’ den was the only safe place you could think of? Digressing, he agrees to help her and the Nein out and house their family members for a while as the Nein head off to save the world. Jester thanks her father and promises to return soon. She checks in with her mother to make sure she’s handling all the stress ok then leave the two to get reacquainted.
While the Nein are deciding where to go next, jester decides to check in with Yussa to thank him for lending his tower and make sure he escaped the Astral Sea and Trent relatively unharmed. Apparently, something has gone horribly wrong. Jester gets a reply from Yussa but all she can hear are the horrible whisper screams that echo from Cognouza. Not a good sign. The Nein must take their next steps quickly and carefully.
Caduceus asks to make a quick pit stop at home. After some hurried goodbyes, the Nein make their way to the Savalir Wood. Caleb lands the companions just outside Caduceus’ home in the graveyard. scenery is breathtaking and it seems the corruption is being held at bay by the crystals. The Nein are greeted by Caduceus’ parents, Cornelius and Constance along with his sister Calliope. They mention they’ve been having some strange dreams and were hoping to see Caduceus return soon. They share the story of the Somnovum with the Clays, trying to find some answers or clues in the corruption. The Clays confirm that things here have actually been going well and the corruption is receding for now, but the dreams are haunting enough that a stronger commune with the WIldmother is needed.
After a rather emotional conversation with his parents and sister Caduceus abruptly leaves the discussion and heads to his nearby pond to mull things over. Calliope joins him, begging him to stay home, let the Nein go fight their battle and maybe she can go adventuring instead. Caduceus honestly wishes he let Calliope take this burden from him, but he knows the weight of what is coming and he’d rather bear that burden than let his family suffer.
Caduceus decides to try something a little stronger in his commune with the Wildmother, he takes one of the lily flowers from the pond, eats its medicinal petals, grasps a crystal in his palm and lets himself drift off to her presence. He has a vision confirming the Wildmother’s fear that the Somnovum will snuff out life as they know it in this world. This vision reminds him of the first vision he had before travelling with the Nein. He dreamt of a living forest, and nine terrible eyes watching and waiting. After this vision, he packed a bag and the very next day the Nein showed up on his doorstep.
Caduceus returns to his companions and relays this remembered vision. He also confirms that the corruption they see in the Savalir Woods stems from an abandoned elven ruin called Molaesmyr. Just as Aeor was struck down from the inside, Molaesmyr, an advanced elven society was plagued by this corruption, withered and rotted until the elves abandoned their city ages ago. Somehow these corruptions are linked.
Before the Nein bed down of the night, Caleb wanders off alone to have a chat with Frumpkin. As he is casting a spell to change Frumpkin’s form he shares a rather deep and poignant conversation with his cat. He is finally coming to terms with Frumpkin’s painful symbolism that he is still clinging to his old life. Frumpkin is not his cat, his real cat is dead. Frups
tkin has been a good and loyal companion, but Caleb promises that either he will die on this mission and Frumpkin will be free to roam the Fey Wilds again, or he will return safely and release Frumpkin anyway. It is time for them to say goodbye. They must look to the future and help his companions’ families stay together like his could not.
Beau has also wandered off to meditate. She is hoping to get some clarity and answers about the new eyes on her body. She attempts to tap into their power to see who she can reach out to. Suddenly a voice sounds in her mind. Lucien, a little surprised, purrs “well it looks like the kids have all grown up.” He questions shy she would be reaching out to him, and Beau admits it was rather a mistake and she was hoping to get in touch wit his bosses. perturbed but not dissuaded she tried to pry a bit of information out of Lucien. he’s not very forthcoming, but does hint that they are very close to completing their goal. Suddenly, Lucien attempts to open Beau up to another new eye, but she is able to maintain enough control over her mind that she rips her conscience away from Lucien without any more harm. Too many close calls.
Yasha, who has also wandered away to pick a flower for her book, decides to try and have her own fancy commune experience with the Stormlord. Disregarding Caduceus’ many complicated rules about picking flowers here, she takes one of the lily flowers she saw him ingest and eats the entire flower too. She kneels down in a quiet area and begins asking the Stormlord for direction on how to access her swords true power. Her breathing begins to rattle in her chest, rumbling like thunder. The air around her gets way and thick and suddenly she is in a Dream. There is a broken rusted blade in her hands. She casts the sword away and begins walking into the storm on the horizon. She sees the Stormlord in the clouds and he calls out to her. “Who are you?” “I am your champion!” she calls. “Chain breaker. Angel reborn. Punisher and redeemer. Show me!” The storm rages and…that’s where we pick up next week!
Well that was an episode! I came into it not knowing where the story might go and it turns out they went in a hundred different directions at once. We got some more tender family moments, a half a shopping episode, an information gathering trip to Caduceus’ home, a moody wizard bringing the feels, and a neat little cliffhanger. Plus the Spice Girls make a cameo?? Yeah, that happened. Let’s get right into it.
We opened the session with the scene Critters have been drooling over. The reunion between the Gentleman and the Ruby of the Sea! While it may not have been the starry eyed, saccharine sweet love story some fans (and Jester) may have wanted but the deed is done! I get why their reunion happened mostly behind closed doors. I don’t think Mercer felt too comfortable taking too much time flirting with himself or dialoguing alone for a half hour while everyone sat and watched. We’ll just have to use our imaginations to fill in the gaps.
I think even Jester was pleasantly surprised at how well their intrusive visit ended. Who knew bringing a child and a long lost lover into a den of thieves would work out so well! I’m sure the next time the Nein pop in for a visit to reclaim their families we’ll be filled in on all the hijinks Luc has gotten himself into. That’s all assuming the Nein are successful in stopping the world from ending and survive long enough to make it back home.
Jester also managed a quick check in with Yussa to see if he survived his trip to the Astral Sea and Trent’s visit. Uh…well… based on Yussa’s return message, things definitely didn’t go well for him. It seems like Yussa was able to find Cognouza, but somehow got himself all tangled up in the hypnotic whispers of death. I got the chills when Mercer revealed that Yussa’s return message to Jester was only the screams of trapped souls. I mean…they did warn Yussa that this was the most evil and dangerous thing they had ever come across in their entire lives. So are we really shocked that Yussa is now a brain-melded zombie? How many times are the Nein going to have to save this poor wizard?
Veth dropped major retirement wishes on the Nein once again this episode. And she’s not the only one eyeing a cozy life away from mortal danger and disaster. Caleb, Jester, Fjord and Caduceus all hinted that they too are finding themselves more interested in a life outside of adventuring. Our babies are all growed up! It’s hard to think of the team splitting up but the story is beautifully aligning with a chance at a happily ever after epilogue for our adventurers. It’s hard to believe that this campaign has already run 15 episodes longer than Campaign 1 (not including pre-stream). Is it just me or does it feel like we have 5 years with Vox Machina and only 1 with the Nein? I’m not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet but the lines have been lain!
Now, I’m not saying that this arc is the last one we’ll see with the Nein. Mercer could have one more magnificent campaign ending story for us. There are too many loose story lines still fluttering around for the Nein’s story to be done just yet. Our adventurers may be at level 14 already but that still leaves us with 6 glorious levels before they become the golden gods Vox Machina ended with.
Oh, speaking of characters hinting at retirement (or perma-death) how dang heartbreaking was Caleb’s scene with Frumpkin. If you don’t watch Narrative Telephone, or haven’t caught up with the latest story told by Dani Carr, you may have missed the references in Caleb and Frumpkin’s interaction this session. Of course Liam O’Brien had to take the most adorable little story of a loyal cat familiar and break every emotion in our bodies by telling Frumpkin he won’t be needed after Eiselcross. WHAT?! It’s probably because I’m one of those people that loves pets more than people, but I could never say goodbye to such a loyal and endearing fey familiar as Frumpkin. Now, I know ( I KNOW) this move is major character growth on Caleb’s part. Showing he’s finally ready to let go of the past and his dream of bringing his family back. But dear gods, my poor little heart about broke when Caleb so nonchalantly dropped “well either I’ll be dead and you’ll be free, or I live and I’ll set you free” on us. Would he choose a new familiar? What’s Beau going to throw around to spy with now? Who will comfort the Nein with kitty paw massages and nose bleps now? Will all the cats in the tower change too? I am not prepared.
Let’s move on before I depression spiral any more. Caduceus got a nice little reunion with most of his family this episode. The visions he’s been having were finally spooky enough to call him home. And no surprise, the Clays have all been having similar spooky vision and were expecting to see the Nein popping up soon. We finally got official confirmation that the same disease that has been plaguing the Savalir Wood is of the same design as the cursed forest below Eiselcross and definitely has something to do with the Somnovum. I had forgotten the tidbit of lore about the elven city of Molaesmyr. They too were an advanced civilization that suddenly and destructively went extinct after a strange corruption overtook their home. Aeor and Molaesmyr…same spooky, different eras. It still feels like we’re missing a couple important pieces of information in this intricate puzzle. How and why are these related corrupted forests tied to their battle with the Somnovum?
Caduceus’ commune with the Wildmother and his talk with Calliope were more fantastic character building in this episode. It was nice to see Clay opening up to his family about his insecurities, exhaustion, and fears. He’s always been the cool, calm, collected member of the party and so rarely gets to deep dive into his driving emotions. My poor little heart was tugged all over the place this session. Veth saying goodbye to her family, making promises she may not be able to keep. Caleb and Frumpkin, Jester being too emotional to say goodbye to her mother. And now Caduceus breaking down because he definitely does NOT want to leave his home again, but he will to protect his family. Even though he fully admits that Calliope should have been the one to adventure with the Nein. And then he has the nerve to ask her to try and bring his body back if he dies!? What’s with the heavy angst this episode?! They are laying on the life and death save-the-world vibe suuuper thick. I think the only one playing it cool is Fjord!
Before we get into Yasha’s ayahuasca flower Stormlord vision, let’s talk about that scene with Beau and Lucien! Marisha has been threatening her plan to use the eyes to her advantage for many sessions now. She finally got to play around and see what her new eyeballs can do! Unfortunately, they didn’t lead to some great secret advantage over Lucien, they just reroute directly back into his brain. There’s no escaping this guy is there? Good for her for thinking outside the box though. She even managed to avoid prematurely and accidentally giving herself a third eye by breaking away from Lucien in the nick of time. Dope monks have minds made of steel.
Ah yes, I guess I should give the Pumat Sol cameo an honorable mention in this review. This encounter was a bit of a mess and never quite hit the groove for me. They didn’t have too strong a reason to visit Pumat (who is a known associate of the Cerberus Assembly) beyond picking up Veth’s custom flask and maybe seeing if he got any cool new magical items in. The disguises they chose were a weird version of the Spice Girls for some reason? Maybe I didn’t connect with this bit because I’m not all that familiar with the Spice Girls… I know, I grew up under a rock. Then Pumat and the Nein were acting so weird the whole time because of a nosy NPC hanging around. Plus Caduceus tried the strangest accent on and it just made things more confusing. I’m going to blame all the angst in this episode for my grumpiness at this bizarre humorous interaction.
Finally, let’s end with some speculation about Yasha’s trippy dream! After three sessions of heavy hints that Yasha would be leveling up or multiclassing to be able to wield Holy Avenger to its fullest capacity, of course wen end on a cliffhanger moment. I like Matt’s explanation of why this little arc needs to happen for Yasha. Fjord’s incredibly lucky natural 20 that landed Holy Avenger in Yasha’s hands wasn’t enough to completely break the game. She still had to earn the swords complete abilities. It helps that Yasha was already on the Zealot path of the barbarian class. Like Mercer said on Talks, the Zealot path is pretty much the Barbarian class version of Paladin already to it makes sense for Yasha to be going through these steps. It’s fun to think back on Yasha’s early days as Molly’s awkward hype-man in the circus and compare it with the absolute badass monster she’s become.
Well, just as Liam said in this session, this was the last save point before the big bad boss fight. Next session will most likely see the Nein attempting to travel back to Eiselcross for the final showdown. I’ll be keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for our adventurers over the next handful of session! Pray things go well and we get a lovely little endcap to this insane story arc. I need me some happily ever afters!