Episode 28: Within the Nest
The Mighty Nein flee back to the safety of Shady Creek Run after accidentally alerting the Iron Shepherd guards. They spend a few minutes to calm nerves and reset their resolve while they try and decide their next course of action. The group agrees that they do not feel strong enough on their own to try and attack or infiltrate the Iron Shepherd’s stronghold. Keg suggests they follow up on a couple of leads that Ophelia Mardun mentioned. They could either try to recruit a mercenary from the Taskers, but possibly risk coming across an ally of the Shepherds; or they could wander deeper into the cursed Savalier Woods to try and find the strange hermit priests that may offer some aid. Beau and Caleb debate back and forth for several minutes while an amused Keg observes. Nila offers to consult her smell bag to lend some clarity to the situation.
Her smell bag seems to indicate that they should take the path to the woods and try their luck in finding the priests. She leads the group very carefully and skillfully through the cursed woods for several hours until they come across an abandoned fence line. The woods in this area seem to be fighting off the blight that plagues the rest of the forest. The trees still look alive and green, rather than the mottled grey-purple diseased look of the rest of the forest. Caleb cautiously sends owl Frumpkin to investigate a little closer. Frumpkin finds three concentric fence lines around a vast graveyard. The fences it seems were built to hold off the encroaching forest but have failed at holding back the disease. In the center of the smallest fence they see a small wooden shack that seems to be lived in.
The group approach carefully and send Nott in for a closer investigation. Nott accidentally gets her cloak caught on a splintered beam and makes a strangled noise that alerts the occupant inside the shack. A door creaks open and a tall, thin figure steps into the light. Nott glances up and sees a lithe Firbolg with gentle eyes, a vibrant pink Mohawk, and a hint of pink facial hair, and a steaming cup of tea in hand. He calmly surveys the newcomers, gives a small smile before turning back towards his home to get his visitors some tea cups.
The Firbolg introduces himself as Caduceus Clay, caretaker of the Blooming Grove graveyard. His family has watched over the graves for generations and he is the last of his family to remain behind. He harvests various medicinal herbs and tea leaves that grow here on the graves. He asks why the Nein have come to see him. Caleb tells Caduceus of Molly’s untimely death and the kidnapping of Nila’s child and their other companions. Caduceus expresses a wish to leave the Blooming Grove for a time but was waiting for a sign or companions to come along, as it is very dangerous to travel the Sevelier Woods alone. Nila sees this all as a sign that this is all meant to be. Caduceus gathers his belongings and the Nein set off back to Shady Creek Run.
The Mighty Nein come up with a plan to sneak into The Sour Nest and get as much information on the Iron Shepherds as possible. Keg and Beau are still very uncertain that they have the strength and numbers to take on the Shepherd’s again. Nila’s calm certainty that they will be ok reassures the more nervous members and they agree to visit the Sour Nest this night.
The Nein quietly surround the Sour Nest and Caleb sends spider Frumpkin inside the stronghold. Frumpkin sees a familiar layout to what Nila described from her last stealthy mission. He counts several guards and underlings milling around the stronghold. Using the information from Frumpkin, the Nein sneak attack the guards on the wall and take them out easily without a sound. Caduceus uses magic to disguise himself and Beau as the guards that were on the wall. They give the all clear for the rest of the group to sneak towards the back door. Caleb sends spider Frumpkin through the crack at the bottom of the door.
Frumpkin emerges inside the hold and wanders through all the rooms paying careful attention to the guards inside. A brief encounter with two guards, a steel mug, and a shoe sends Caleb on high alert and he brings Frumpkin to safety. Keg, Caleb, Nott and Nila sneak into the stronghold to search for the prisoners. Nott, slightly intoxicated and on edge, accidentally knocks over a stack of pots and pans on their way in and alerts several guards to their presence. A quick fight ensues with Keg dealing hefty blows bolstered by Caleb’s Haste spell. They fight their way to the basement trap door and Nila uses brute strength to break the door in. They find a room lined with cages with people bound, battered, and tortured. Nila can hear a man torturing a child as it screams. Beau, disguised as a fellow guard distracts the man giving Nila the chance to attack him. Caduceus finishes off the unconscious man and a brief silence falls over the room.
A small voice calls from one of the cages. “Mama.” Nila rushes to the cage and finds her son, grievously wounded but still alive. Her mate is also trapped in the cage, though he is unmoving. Nila reaches through the bars and grabs her son and mate, giving them a healing balm. With otherworldly strength she manages to pry the bars just enough to pull her tiny son through the gap. Her mate comes to consciousness and with the last of their strength the two firbolgs manage to snap the bars off enough for him to also barely squeeze through. Beau tells the family to run to safety. Nila wants to stay and help look for the Nein’s companions but Beau insists she gets her son to safety. They have a tearful, but joyful goodbye and promise to meet again at Caduceus’ home. They escape quietly into the night.
Art by: @AlexielApril
Wow, what an episode. I loved the slow burn tension that built through the episode. We finally get to meet Taliesin’s new character! Which, is always a scary thing to bring in a new player character. I usually take a while to warm up to or figure out Taliesin’s characters, but there’s something so placating about our new neon firbolg friend that I instantly loved. His calm voice and gentle demeanor brings such a steady presence that the Nein has been missing since the kidnappings and the healing they’ve needed since Molly’s murder. I can’t wait to see more of the lovely Deuce.
It’s hard to feel like I’m not watching an extended ‘one-shot’ story line. The party is 50% new characters and it’s a totally different feel than the menagerie that we started out with. I really miss Laura’s gleeful unpredictability and Travis’ carefree excitable nature. Though Sam and Ashly lend a lot of humor to the show, there is definitely a hole where Travis, Laura and Ashley were. It’s been amazing to have Ashly Burch and Sumalee Montano guest star again in this episode. Ashly is a total natural and fits right in with the ragtag Nein. She can stay forever, please? Sumalee is an absolute joy to watch. Nila is beautifully naïve, magnetically confident, and heroically brave all at once. Her story has such a beautiful and emotional ending that left me wrecked after watching it. I don’t think it could have ended more perfectly.
Next week brings a whole new set of excitement. This week’s cliffhanger leaves our heroes still inside the Sour Nest searching for Fjord, Jester and Yasha. No sign of Lorenzo has me extremely wary. The critter’s screams of Lorenzo being an Oni are growing deafening and if Matt wants to give the live show an intense boss fight, a showdown with Lorenzo would definitely be the way to go. I have no idea if Ashly Burch will be staying on for more episodes after the live show at Gen Con this week, or maybe she will give Keg an epic exit from the series. With so much to look forward to, waiting the extra day for Gen Con live will be torturous! Friday can’t get here soon enough.