Episode 18: Whispers of War
The Mighty Nein face off against their final trial in the Victory Pit! The action gets started right away with a monstrous hill giant storming into the pit and destroying a stone column Fjord his behind. The Nein gear up for a round of attacks and quickly realize they are out of their element when both Molly and Yasha quickly fall under the hill giant’s assault. Beau, Nott and Fjord distract the giant while Jester heals everyone up. After a couple of intense rounds of combat with both sides taking huge hits, Caleb pulls an mvp move with a well-timed Sleep spell, giving his companions a huge advantage and ultimately giving Nott the killing blow.
Battered, but victorious, the Nein leave the field and recover while the next team enters the Victory Pit. They watch as the team ferociously battles and carves down a dragon-like Wyvern. Both teams have survived the Victory Pit and will share the prize money.
After collecting their prize and congratulating the other team, the Nein leave the Pit and are introduced to several government officials, including Starosta Kosh, who show interest in their fighting ability. The group overhears the government officials talking about the war recently declared on Xhorhas in retaliation for the attack on the TriSpires. They also recognize the two War Mages who hunted down the Crick assassin in a previous session. Beau and Yasha introduce themselves to the two mages, Ormid Hass, The headmaster of the Halls of Erudition, and his older companion named Trent Ikithon. The two make awkward pleasantries, with both sides trying to interrogate each other for information. Trent fixates on the exotic looking Yasha and begins asking her pointed questions about where she is from. She quietly answers that she is from Xhorhas, which sets Trent on edge, but she manages to calm tensions and convince him that she is no spy or secret assassin. They quickly end the conversation and meet back up with their companions.
The group decides to party it up and use their newfound fame to get into the fancy Pillow Trove. They enjoy an evening of ‘stress relief’ with hired companions and indulge in drink and food and fun. Jester receives a care package from her mother and shares the letter with her friends.
Caleb uses the distraction to call a private meeting with Nott and Beau. He asks her to get him into the Cobalt Soul’s private library to search for books. She says that she will get him into the library under one condition, he must tell her why he is so afraid of fire. Desperate, he breaks down and tells her a story from his past. The story of how he killed his parents.
He speaks of his childhood, as a magically gifted boy from a small village. At a young age he and two other children were selected to become pupils at the prestigious Solstryce Academy. He and his friends excelled in their studies and were chosen to become part of a special force, headed by a man named Trent Ikithon. Trent was a zealot war mage who trained future war mages to become part of a powerful force for the Empire. At such a young age, Caleb and his friends were easily brainwashed into absolute loyalty to the Empire, even to the point of cold-blooded killing of any people convicted as traitors to the Empire. Their power and loyalty grew with time and before long they were full-fledged warriors for the Empire. On a particular visit home, Caleb overheard his parents whispering collusions against the Empire, marking them as possible traitors. Caleb, and both his friends from the academy returned with stories of their parents’ betrayal and committed to kill them. They pledged their allegiance to the Empire and quietly visited each of their parents’ homes and slaughtered them while they slept. Caleb spoke of blocking the door to his home, setting the home on fire and hearing his parents screams through the flames. His mind broke and he lost all ability to react. In a state of shock, and comatose, Caleb spent several years in an insane asylum, unable to speak or remember any of what happened. Slowly, as the memories returned, he realized he had been brainwashed, and that Trent had given him false memories of his parents’ betrayal.
Caleb closes his story by speaking his wish to become a powerful mage to stop men like Trent. He must do everything he can to gain as much knowledge and gain the upper hand against the Empire.
The next morning, the adventurers visit their favorite shopkeeper, Pumat Sol, and stock up on some new supplies and armor. Afterwards, they split up, with Beau, Caleb and Nott heading to the Cobalt Reserve so Caleb can do some research on the history of mages in Wildemount. The rest of the party goes to visit the Lawmaster of Zadash who had offered them work as mercenary Legionnaires. With a hefty promise of 10,000 gold, the offer is tempting and the contract to hunt down an ex-Legionnaire, turned bandit sounds exciting, the group asks for more time to make a decision. On their way back to the tavern to discuss what to do next, an emissary from their old friend, The Gentleman informs the Nein that he has work for the Nein, should they wish to accept.
This episode has some real gems! There was an awesome fight and an even cooler backstory revelation. Just watching Caleb tell his story to Beau and Nott makes this whole episode incredible. I knew Liam loved a dark backstory…but damn. That’s one tragic backstory. I love it. I was a bit taken aback when Liam asked that everyone else at the table to leave while he told his story privately to Beau and Nott, but I can see his train of thought. Caleb has been so protective of his history in the campaign so far that I can see why Liam didn’t want to give it out for free to the whole campaign and have to live with the possible metagaming/pointed questions that the others might have afterwards. While Liam has said he ultimately regretted asking everyone to leave and that only Matt should have control over that, I thought it makes for an interesting dynamic with only certain party members knowing each other’s secrets. We’ll see if this gaming dynamic ever shows up in future episodes.
The group has finally reached level 5! We’re getting into the more fun aspects of characters and classes now. More hit points, more spell slots, and more abilities mean so much more fun for the next campaign. Jester has also gained the Revivify spell, which means we may see some more intense fights coming up soon that are much more life and death.
The Victory Pit Finale fight was pretty interesting. Seeing Yasha and Molly take such a beating was pretty intense, but once again Caleb pulls a totally boss move and saves the party with his spell casting. The in-between stories this episode lost the pacing for me a little bit. I know that we are setting up for a much bigger story arc, but having the past three episodes feel like a dragged on lead into the next story is starting to lose its excitement. This has definitely been a slow burn type of story ever since they arrived at Zadash. We’ll have to see what path The Mighty Nein choose next week! Will they take the offer of 10,000 gold to work under contract for the Empire or listen to the Gentleman’s request?