Episode 20: Labenda Awaits
The Mighty Nein continue their journey on the road to the swamp town of Barrelbend in the Labenda district. After a cold night, the chilled adventurers pick up camp, load the cart and hit the road again. Cresting over one of the hills they spot a dark mass moving over the surrounding hills. They take a closer look and realize that they are watching a battalion of about 1000 armed men marching to the battlefields. Not wanting to be delayed, Molly and Jester try to urge the cart on quickly to pass the oncoming soldiers. Molly takes a turn too quickly and breaks two wheels of the cart beyond any simple repairs they can make.
Two soldiers on horseback break away from their formation and make their way towards the Mighty Nein. After checking to make sure everyone is ok and assessing the damage on their cart, the soldier offers to get their ‘mechanic’ and get their cart sorted. The Nein are extremely grateful and, by the time the battalion has marched across the road the cart is repaired and ready for the road again.
Spending the rest of the day traveling, the group once again sets up camp along the side of the road. A storm has been drizzling rain and sends a chill through everyone as they try and stay warm through the night. The thunder and lightning overhead lulls everyone to sleep. Everyone but Yasha. As every lightning strikes the hillsides, she receives strange visions or hallucinations of plague and death, blood and violence. A stone statue from her past, a beacon of hope she clings too. In another vision the figure comes to her, in the whirl of the lighting storm, and speaks to her. For the first time she hears his voice. ‘You walk the right path. Be strong. Do not forget who you were and decide who you will become.’ Her vision fades and she wakes, cold and shivering in the rain.
The next morning, shortly after they set off on the road, the Nein notice the ground is becoming marshier and damper. Jester climbs up a tree to get a better vantage point and maybe see how close they are to Barrelbend. While in the tree, she sees and hears a creature in distress. She calls out to the rest of the group before dashing off towards the sound. Uncertain of what the hell is even going on, Fjord and Beau cautiously follow after Jester. Jester comes across a small bird-like humanoid stuck in the sludge of a bog. While attempting to free the creature, Fjord notices something larger moving towards them. Jester hits the large creature with a guiding bolt and a huge alligator rears its head and begins to attack. Leaping into action, the others rush in and defend Jester and the creature from attack. In two unlucky moves, a gator strikes at the creature stuck in the bog and knocks it unconscious. A second gator sneaks up on Nott and lays into the tiny goblin, nearly killing her. The only thing that saved her life was Caleb’s haste spell, making her able to quickly slip from the gator’s grasp after falling unconscious. One of the gators snaps its maw around Yasha. Feeling rage and pain course through her body, she pries its jaws off of her, breaking the bones and slicing deep into the gator’s head nearly severing it. The other gator is swiftly dispatched by two of Fjord’s Eldritch Blasts.
Jester finally frees the little creature from the swamp and they see it’s a little Kenku girl, a type of flightless raven-like people that only speak by mimicking other’s speech. They learn through a complicated means of communication that the little Kenku, named Kiri was traveling west with her family to escape the oncoming war when she became trapped in the bog. Her family couldn’t free her, but it was too dangerous to stay for help so they had to leave Kiri behind. Feeling sorry for Kiri, seeing she has nowhere to go and no idea where her family went, the Nein bundle her up and pack her into the cart as the newest member of the Mighty Nein.
The adventurers finally reach the outskirts of the swamp town Barrelbend and ask a local for help finding a local tavern, the Keystone Pub. They quickly find the tavern, sticking up two stories high, like a crooked tower. The tavern seems to have been rebuilt on the literal ruins of the original pub, making for a very unstable and rickety building. The Nein, and Kiri, climb the makeshift rope ladders up to the tavern entrance and are quickly greeted by the tavern owner. He offers them the local specialty, Labenda Throat Grog. Fjord asks if he knows a patron by the name of Vebron Keys. Turns out, Vebron is the town’s local drunkard and is at this very moment, asleep in a puddle of his own piss off in the corner. Molly approaches the man and not so gently flicks him to consciousness. Quite affronted, Vebron gives Molly an evil eye. Just kidding, it’s his lazy eye. A bit rough around the edges, Vebron gives the Nein a wary one-toothed smile and asks their business. They mention the Gentleman, which quickly gets his attention. Once they lay out their plan to take Vebron to the abandoned safehouse to see what’s going on, Vebron gets extremely nervous and defensive. He refuses to go back to the house where his companions were murdered, even on the threat to drag him all the way back to Zadash to face the Gentleman in person. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising, the offer of 100 coin and a drink cures Vebron’s fear and he agrees to help them. Sealing the deal with a greasy handshake, the Nein accept the terms. After a quiet drunken song is sung to assure the Nein of his good intentions, Yasha offers to watch over him in her room for the night. Awkwardly settling in for the night, the Nein get some rest before setting off towards the safehouse in the morning.
This episode is definitely one to remember. For the slightly slow start, once the action gets rolling it stays rolling for the rest of the episode. Within the first hour some crazy things start to happen. Yasha’s backstory one-on-one is the first of these amazing moments. Her visions of her thundering Stormlord deity were as mysterious and enigmatic as Yasha is herself. I am eating up as much of Yasha’s backstory as I can. I am so interested to see more of this fallen Aasimar barbarian.
I got the swamp monster fight that I wanted! Not one, but two huge gators. The close call with Nott (saved only by a fortunate haste spell) was a little bit too close for comfort. Also, Jester/Laura realizing that just because she has a Revivify spell learned doesn’t mean she has all the expensive components to use it was a harsh wake up call for the cleric. The new little NPC Kiri the Kenku is too adorable. Watching Laura fawn over the little jelly bean is almost too much. I have no idea what they are going to do with the tiny featherball in the next few episodes but so far, taking Kiri to a tavern and reading her smutty novels is a great start.
Matt Mercer introduced not one, but two very memorable NPC’s with Kiri and Vebron both making an impression on the group. Kiri’s sweet and adorable demeanor quickly endeared her to the group, while Vebron’s gruff, swampy drunkard slurring made for an entertaining moment of drunk karaoke.
Next episode brings the promise of more swamp monsters, and more drunkard Vebron. I can’t wait to find out what’s been plaguing the swamp and killing the Gentlemen’s men! Thursday can’t get here soon enough.