Episode 27: Converging Fury
Beau, Caleb and Nott take a moment of silence to gather themselves after their confrontation with the Iron Shepherds. The stunned silence is broken by Beau lashing out in anger at Keg, their dwarf companion and ex-Iron Shepherd. Keg doesn’t resist the attack and brokenly apologizes. She too was surprised at how powerful Lorenzo and his crew had become in the few months Keg had been away. The moment of tension and anger has passed and Caleb begins preparing to bury Molly. Beau takes Molly’s parapet of wound closure to remember him by. They bury him with his swords
Once the group has said their words and made their peace they leave their friend behind to an unknown afterlife. Caleb, who wandered away from the grave earlier than everyone else, arrives to their campsite and strangely notices an unfamiliar horse standing among their horses. It holds eye contact with Caleb and begins to walk closer to him. Caleb is about to call out to the others when the horse’s form begins to change. Standing before him is a 7 foot tall firbolg woman with gentle eyes and a kind, knowing face. She introduces herself as Nila, the woman that their other firbolg friend Jambna spoke of during their midnight visit. Nila says she has been watching their group and saw their friend fall in battle. She says she and the Nein share a common enemy and that she can be a useful ally. Beau can tell that Nila has never seen combat, but is moved by her conviction and courage. The group welcomes her into the party and begin to plan their revenge.
The Nein decide that their best option will be to travel to Shady Creek Run and get some more information on the Iron Shepherds. They also hope to continue their original mission from the Gentleman to find a woman named Ophelia Mardun. It’s a two day journey to the gates of Shady Creek Run and the road is travelled safely. Along the way, the group come across several bodies on the side of the road that Nott recognizes as prisoners of the Iron Shepherd’s that were killed by Lorenzo’s cone of cold. Keg leads the group to the gates of Shady Creek Run and helps disguise everyone in case the Shepherd’s have given their description at the gates.
The disguises have worked and the Nein pass through the gates and for the first time are outside of the Dwendalian Empire. The town is nestled into a purple-grey, sickly forest and the buildings seem unkempt and in shambles. Keg leads the group to a local tavern named the Land Locked Lady where they hope to run into the owners, the Mardun’s. Unfortunately, the Mardun’s are not in the tavern tonight and will probably have to be called on at their estate. With it being so late in the evening, the Nein decide to get a few rooms at the tavern and head to the Mardun estate in the morning.
After a bit of questioning, Keg gets the location of the Mardun estate. With a bit of help from Nila’s speak with animals, the group are led to the gates of the estate. Caleb manages to get them past the guards by invoking the name of the Gentleman. Once inside the grand mansion the Nein are greeted by a beautiful grey skinned tiefling woman with ankle length black hair and yellow pupil-less eyes. She tells them that her hired smugglers were killed on the road to Zadash and that the Jaggentoth family was responsible. Keg recognizes this name as the family that runs the Iron Shepherds. Now knowing that their allegiances have aligned, Ophelia accepts the Nein’s offer for help in getting revenge on the Iron Shepherds.
With the information gained from Ophelia, the Nein set out to the Iron Shepherd’s hideout to do some recon. With the help of owl Frumpkin and Nila shapeshifted into a mouse, they are able to stealthily sneak into the hideout. Nila finds her way into the main room of the hideout, passing by several bedrooms. She comes across a padlocked door leading to the basement. She knows that her son might be locked in there, but does not have the strength to break into that room. She continues on, looking for Lorenzo and overhears two gang members talking about some escaped prisoners they lost along the road. Nila comes across a larger, more extravagant room that she assumes is Lorenzo’s bedroom. She searches around for a few brief minutes, coming across a tiny skull that seems to belong to a small child. Nila quells the fears and her own personal despair, telling herself that this is not her son and he still yet lives, and moves to the door to begin her escape. Just as she reaches the stairs, heavy footfalls come upon her and she desperately tries to hide as Lorenzo himself strides into view. With luck on her side, Nila manages to hide in the shadows and stay undiscovered as Lorenzo walks by and she scurries quick as she can back outside. Frumpkin snatches mouse Nila from her hiding place and brings her safely back to the Nein. The group want to do a little more stealthing, but Keg catches her foot and loudly tumbles to the ground. A spooked Nein make a panicked run back to the safety of the town to try again another night.
I was nervous for this episode! After last week’s insanity, I had no idea where the story would go or how the Nein would react to losing another one of their party. I had hope that the new guest star (played by the incredibly talented Sumalee Montano) would help push the Nein on in their story and help them find peace. Ashly Burch’s return as Keg was also a very welcome presence in this episode. It would be amazing for Ashly to stay as long as possible! Keg’s sorrow and shame from being unprepared and letting down the Nein gave such depth and heart to her character. I was all for Keg’s gruff no-nonsense dwarf from last episode, but this new vulnerable, wounded soul is an absolute gem. Her little ‘apology note’ to Nott was such a sweet, funny, and insightful moment and has to be one of my favorites of the episode.
Sumalee’s wonderful firbolg druid was the absolute highlight of the episode. Her soothing presence and gentle but fierce conviction were exactly the balm that the Nein needed after such a wrenching loss. From the moment Sumalee’s Nila appeared on the screen the whole tone of the show shifted. She gave the Nein a reason to keep going forward and stay on mission. Her mousy ‘mission impossible’ scene at the end of the episode was such a rollercoaster to watch. I think we all had our hearts in our throat watching sweet innocent Nila come face to face with Lorenzo in the Iron Shepherd’s lair.
For how depressing or emotional this episode could have been, I was actually pretty happy with how things played out. I’m glad that Sumalee’s character came into the story pretty early so that the Nein wouldn’t have to wallow or have a straight hour of ‘funeral speeches’. Beau didn’t go too crazy, over the top with the angry crying or revenge rage; she even had a few moments of some dark humor that actually made me smile. Caleb made it through without falling too deep into despair, in fact, the scene where Nott confronts him about his feelings towards the group was so interesting to watch. I could tell that Liam (as a player) deeply loves every member of the Nein, but he sticks to his roleplaying guns and keeps Caleb’s feelings close to the chest. I do hope we get to see Caleb open up a little more once this new arc gets a little more traction.
Everyone has been wondering when the Mighty Nein will finally have that close bond that Vox Machina shared. With the events of these past two episode, I think the Nein have their reasons to stick around and fight for their friends. I am still trying to decide how I felt about missing Taliesin at the table. I desperately wanted to meet his new character, but I think that having another new character at the table might have been a bit much for one episode. This may be me just adding to all the whispers of possibilities for Taliesin’s new character, but Matt hinted at an odd ‘hermit priest’ living in the woods that sounded like a foreshadowy hint. Ugh! I can be patient and wait for the reveal. Next week we can expect to see more Ashly Burch and Sumalee Montano!
art by: Sam Hogg
Also, a little side note for Talks Machina this week. They will be airing the Critical Role Comic Con panel in place of a new Talks Machina episode so keep an eye out for that.