Episode 17: Heart to Heartmoor
Bell’s Hells pick up their plans to visit Jiana Hexum and take the job in the Heartmoor. They spend the morning checking in with Lord Eshteross and updating him on the events with Lady Emoth in the mine, making sure Zhudonna is all set to hold Imogen and Laudna’s boarding room, and picking up some traveling supplies and horses for the journey.
Lady Hexum accepts the Bell’s Hells bid for the job in the Heartmoor. Their task will be to infiltrate Mr. Evon Hytroga’s establishment The Twilight Mirror Museum and try to steal an item from his collection. Lady Hexum reassures the group that Mr. Evon knows to expect some kind of break in attempt as this is a strange game of wits between the two ‘compatriots’. She’ll fund the trip to the Heartmoor, but the Hells will have to bring proof of their success to get their big payout for the job. It’s an odd request, but Bell’s Hells have done weirder.
After spending the rest of the day buying supplies, naming horses, and preparing for the journey, the gang set off on their first day of travel. They’ve been warned by everyone to stay on the honor trails and not stray into the wild jungles. So, they immediately ignore the advice and go crashing into the woods at the first encounter with the wildlife. Thankfully, Orym knows how to be careful, and the dangerous beast he’s chasing into the woods is a giant fey rabbit with a glowing stone in it’s mouth and not something more nefarious. A surprisingly long chase ends with Orym snatching the glowing stone out of the rabbit’s mouth and trudging his way back to the group with the new treasure. Orym hands the fey wild shard over to Imogen to hold onto and she realizes that if she attunes to it, it will lend her magic a wild magic flair.
The Bell’s Hells settle in for their first night in the woods. During watch, Fearne and FCG chat a bit about their histories. Fearne talks about her family. Her parents, Birdie and Oleander vanished many, many years ago. Their last letter came from a strange place called Aeor. She’s out here adventuring to not only explore the world but hopefully find some sign of what may have happened to her parents.
The next morning dawns without incident and the gang ventures on. The day passes by in a quiet peace and it’s time to make camp for another night. Ashton answers some of Fearne’s more prying questions about his physiology, revealing that they weren’t always made of solid rock. They once had softer skin that began turning around 10 or 11 years old. Orym and Laudna spend their watch talking about Whitestone and what Laudna remembers of it. Orym is horrified to realize that Laudna’s gruesome end was a bit more connected to his leader Keyleth than he thought. Laudna reveals that she was in fact one of the bodies hung from the Sun Tree as a warning to Vox Machina. They had dressed her up and tortured her to look like the half-elf twin Vex’alia.
Day 3 brings a heavy storm, but nothing too serious to slow them down too much. During their travels, the group come across a tree that’s been split by lightning and growing in the center of it is a glowing blue rose. Orym picks the chromatic rose and realizes that by holding it, you’d gain resistance to lightning damage. He tucks it safely away. Night falls over the jungle once again. FCG and Imogen spend their watch playing around with their psychic powers. They both attempt to open up their minds to each other while also trying to pry into the other’s deeper thoughts. They end up connected in a strange fugue state, communicating with just emotion and images. Imogen can see FCG’s memories of his automaton companions and creator, while FCG can see her memories of the red storm nightmare. Later that evening, Chetney and Orym spend some time comparing their tattoos. Chetney learns that Orym’s tattoo of the moons Catha and Ruidus are actually a reference to his late husband Will. Will, a fellow body guard for the Voice of the Tempest, was one of the Ashari killed in the attack Orym was sent to Jrusar to investigate. Chetney apologizes for bringing up a painful memory, but Orym is happy to share the sweet memories he does have of his happiest days.
The fourth day again passes without any noticeable incident, and night falls quickly and silently. Laudna and Ashton’s watch is interrupted when a tiny, glowing humanoid shape floats into their campground. They attempt to reach out and speak with the creature, but can’t seem to get it to respond to them. They decide to wake Fearne, since she has a stronger connection to fey creatures, and see if she can communicate with it. Drowsily, Fearne approaches the creature and does succeed in making contact. Unfortunately, it seems the creature has hypnotized Fearne, and she begins to wander into the dark woods in a trance. Suddenly, the gang realize that the ‘creature’ is attached to a vine that leads to a horrifyingly carnivorous looking tree-like creature. Fearne, Laudna, and Ashton begin sounding the alarm to call the rest of the gang to action! And that’s where we’ll pick up next time.
Backstories galore in this week’s session! It was a slower paced episode, in the sense that there wasn’t a ton of exciting action, but it was packed with a lot of character building and relationship building.
The first half of the episode meandered through a slow day of preparations and meetings in Jrusar. Eshteross made another brief appearance and was completely baffled by the gang’s terrifying adventure in the mines just 24 hours after he last saw them. Lady Hexum also made a returning appearance to officially conscript Bell’s Hells for an interesting new job in the Heartmoor. The rest of the first half was mostly just buying and naming horses and gathering some supplies and funding for their trip.
The gang have been traveling together for a couple of weeks now, and are finally beginning to form deeper bonds with each other. We got to see the fascinating fruits of budding friendship over the four long night’s watches that they all share. Fearne dropped a fun little campaign 2 tie in when she revealed that her parents disappeared in the ruins of Aeor. That was such a tease of an easter egg! Literally no other information was offered. How long ago did this happen? What were they doing in Aeor? Who knows when this little breadcrumb will get picked up again?!
Imogen and FCG played around with a bit of consensual mind melding. FCG finally got to see Imogen’s nightmare for himself, while Imogen saw snippets of the automaton’s previous life. She did get the sense that there were fuzzy, blocked out memories that she could access if she pushed farther, but decided that now was not the time. I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer for whatever heavy baggage FCG is holding on to.
Laudna came in swinging with some WILD campaign 1 tie ins! Critters have been whispering about just how attached to Vox Machina Laudna might be. I mean, she’s already got the campaign 1 villain Delilah trapped in her mind as the source of her magic. She’s also from Whitestone and remembers the fall of the De Rolos and the rise of the Briarwoods. And now…we finally got confirmation that Laudna was in fact directly tied to Vox Machina’s siege against the city. From her description, Laudna seems to have been chosen to represent Vex on the Sun Tree, which means that she definitely appears in the animated Legend of Vox Machina series. Congrats to Laudna? I guess? She’s the first character from Campaign 3 to get animated! Even if it was her…you know…tortured corpse. Still counts?
Last up, Orym finally laid his angst and tragedy out for us. There’s been hints and whispers for a while. And, everyone knows how Liam loves to make complex and deeply tragic characters come to life in his campaigns. It’s only fair that Orym joins the tragic backstory gang. He opens up to Chetney about the meaning of his two moons tattoo. His late half-elf husband Will is his ‘big moon’ Catha, and Orym is ‘little moon’ Ruidus. Adorable and heartbreaking all in one. Orym seems to be carrying his sadness well and is working on finding his happiness with his new companions. We’ll see how much deeper Liam wants to dig into Orym’s grief, or if he wants to turn a new leaf and show a character growing into happiness after tragedy.
The final cliffhanger scene sets up an exciting intro to episode 18! After avoiding every encounter and danger over 4 days of travel, it’s only fitting that the gang get into a fight because their curiosity gets the best of them. If only Laudna and Ashton had just ignored the little fairy light after failing to ‘make contact’ with it. Though, maybe the viney-tree monster would have just wandered into their campsite and eaten them all while they slept anyway. We’ll dive right into the action next week! Don’t worry Critters, it’s almost Thursday.