Episode 45: The Stowaway
The Mighty Nein return to the high seas. Nott, while building some experimental explosives below decks, discovers a stowaway passenger on the Squall Eater. She quickly alerts the others and they search the hold. They find a tiny gnome girl hiding in the shadows. She has a matted rat’s nest of blonde hair and a teeny face smeared with chocolate. Nott, Jester and Beau begin to interrogate the gnome named Twiggy. She uses her cute charm and bubbly personality to assuage the tense party. Twiggy escaped from Port Damali (Fjord’s hometown) while hiding from her captor, a menacing thin firbolg named Sir Cadogan.
Beau, still wary of the newcomer, grabs Caduceus and Caleb to help shake down Twiggy. Caduceus doesn’t sense anything unusual about the bubbly little gnome, maybe just a little sugar high from all the chocolate. Caleb, through a suggestion spell, gets Twiggy to show off a powerful magic orb that she stole from Sir Cadogan. Caleb tries to identify the Orb, searching for a source of its magic, but it somehow blocks his sight. Twiggy shows Caleb some fun tricks that her ‘Magic Fun Ball’ can do. She twists and turns some panels and gears and the Orb suddenly spits out a bunch of gold pieces. The groups interest in the orb greatly increases and they make Twiggy show them the trick a few more times. Caleb then repeats the trick and discovers that there may be more layers and tricks to the Fun Ball.
Caleb asks Twiggy if he can borrow the Orb while she gets settled in on the ship. She agrees and Caleb sets off on trying to discover more Fun Ball secrets. As the rest of the Nein get to know Twiggy better, Caleb discovers three more levels that each do different things. After the ball spits out gold, the next level releases highly valuable gems. Then it opens a black void in the center of the floor, which after some tense exploring, they discover seems to be the previous owner’s bag of holding. The Nein inspected the contents they found in the bag of holding, noticing the strange insignia embroidered on the clothing. Twiggy continued to tell her story of escaping the evil Sir Cadogan and all her adventures as a stowaway since them. Caleb continues to mess with the Orb, uncovering new mysterious levels. Just as Twiggy’s story starts to get really good, Caleb locks a new combination into place and smiles in success when all of a sudden a bright flash of green light consumes everyone in the room.
The Nein (minus Yasha who was in another room) and Twiggy find themselves in a strange triangular room. They feel motion sick and strangely stretched out, like they’ve traveled a long distance in a flash. They quickly examine the room, finding four banners of different colors, all with the strange insignia from before. Two long decomposed corpses lie in the center of the room and the Magic Fun Ball is nowhere to be seen. Caduceus speaks with one of the corpses, learning that a wailing monster behind the black banner killed him. Caleb creates his tiny hut to keep them safe as they explore the remaining curtains. Twiggy uses her mage hand to pull back the green banner and a grotesque gargoyle spits a vile plume of poison over the room. Behind the red banner they find a red door with the same strange symbol of Halas (the previous owner of the orb). Twiggy again uses her mage hand to unlock and open the door, sending a jet of flames across the room. Once the flames died down they find a passageway and quickly make their way out of the triangular room.
The motion sickness returns as the group travels down the strange hallway. Time and space seem to stretch around them and they are no longer sure which dimension they are walking in. Before long, the hallway leads to a study filled with ancient books, some chained and bound with magic. Caleb and Nott begin to search around the study and quickly find it is full of dangerous traps. A desk mimic attacks Nott and Twiggy. Beau looks up to see Fjord inspecting a stained glass window depicting the planes of existence. Fjord reaches out touches a glowing red ruby. Suddenly the window shatters and Fjord is sucked into a black void and the window returns to normal. Beau tries to alert the others to Fjord’s disappearance but they seem a bit distracted by the attacking furniture. Beau triggers the ruby again and also gets sucked through accidentally taking Jester, Caduceus and Twiggy with her. Caleb and Nott spend several more minutes un-trapping some of the more interesting spellbooks on the walls before joining their friends through the window.
Fjord falls through space, lights swirling around him. He is unceremoniously dumped into a new room filled with corpse fragments and an enormous pile of jewels and gold. He begins to slowly explore when suddenly he awakes a young blue dragon. The dragon attacks Fjord and he does his best to hold his own against the formidable foe. One by one, his friends also tumble clumsily into the room and join the escalating battle. The dragon puts up a ferocious fight, nearly killing Fjord, Jester, Nott and Beau with deadly force. Jester casts a spell, but the energy is sucked into a crystal in the wall and it begins to glow, lighting up a familiar orb in the opposite corner of the room. Fjord finds another crystal across the room and uses his magic to light it up. Beau reaches out to the orb to try and trigger an escape route and is sucked out of the room.
art by: Caio Santos
One by one, the Nein fight their way to reach the orb. Fjord sends two nasty eldritch blasts at the dragon before escaping the room. Caduceus warns the newly arrived Caleb and Nott that the fight has taken a turn for the worse and they should run before he too disappears into the orb. Caleb asses the situation and immediately escapes the room. Jester, Nott and Twiggy are left to face off against the blue dragon and the rogue fire elemental Beau loosed before escaping. Twiggy and Nott do their best to draw the fury of the dragon enough to allow Jester to escape, but the dragon is hell bent on ending Jester. Jester feels completely alone and outnumbered in the fight, nearly resigning herself to die in this battle. Out of desperation she calls out to the Traveller and in her greatest moment of need he is there. He lifts her shield to deflect the dragon’s deadly bite, sparing her life at least for the moment. Nott sees her chance and draws the dragon’s attention. The dragon bites down on the tiny Nott who is horribly wounded, but just manages to make it to the Orb and escape. Jester uses the distraction to get herself out. Only Twiggy is left, face to face with the angry blue dragon. Staring down the face of death she lets loose one final arrow, sinking it deep into the heart of the dragon and watches it die as she also escapes the battlefield.
The Nein all reappear back on the Squall Eater. They look around and find the entire crew gathered around the orb. Looks of concern and relief wash over the crew. Marius and Orly begin to question Fjord. They say that the Nein have been gone for 7 days. The ship has been repaired at port and is awaiting payment and orders from their missing captain. Fjord called for the crew to rest at port for one more night. Twiggy thanks the Nein for the exciting adventure but says she must continue on her own. She leaves them the orb and skips away into the crowd.
I can’t believe this episode! I was completely blindsided by the insane second half of the adventure. I was all ready for a laid back shopping/day trip adventure on land but NO, Matthew Mercer had different plans for this session. For having the 4th longest running time of any Critical Role episode, this session flies by like nothing. I could have spent 5 more hours with them while they explored more of the orb.
This dragon fight was one of the most intense fights I’ve seen on Critical Role. Which is insane considering the last three episodes alone contained the epic pirate showdown and Dashila’s lair. I loved watching everyone come to terms with the battle in their own way. Fjord completely owned his mistakes and gave it his all to make sure his friends made it out. Caleb took no time at all to get his ass out of that lair to safety (although it physically pained Liam to leave). Jester worked through some seriously heavy emotions as she felt abandoned by her friends and attacked on all sides. Her moment with the Traveler was one of my favorite moments of the session. The most MVP move of the session though was Nott the Brave’s incredible sacrifice for Jester there at the end. That was some Scanlan vs Vecna level feels there. When Sam told the rest of the party that Nott only had one hit point left…you could feel the jolt that went through Liam and the rest at the table. I was not prepared for how emotionally intense the fight would get this episode. This is definitely one of the most memorable sessions of Critical Role so far.
Oh and let’s talk about Deborah Ann Woll’s clutch HDYWTDT moment! I love it when the guest stars get memorable moments like that. Twiggy is another absolutely wonderful PC for the books. Shakaste, Calliana, Keg and Nila would all be so proud. Deborah was a fantastic player as well. Super well versed in her character background, spells and abilities. Her role playing was obviously incredible and Twiggy was instantly endeared to so many fans. She’s so adorable!
I am really hoping for a nice relaxing session this upcoming week. I don’t think I can handle another week of crazy action. The beautiful Ashley Johnson should be back for next week’s session! Also, a heads up, next week’s session will be the last Mighty Nein episode of the year. The regular stream will be back Thursday January 10th! In the mean time you can get your Critical Role fix by watching Liam’s Critmas One Shot on Friday December 21st. Talks Machina is also taking a break but will return on January 8th with almost the full cast to talk about the campaign so far. AND if you need even more Critical Role there will be an All Work No Play marathon starting 4 pm Thursday January 3rd. AND Critical Role also announced two new shows coming in the new Year. Pub Draw, featuring artist BabsDraws, will feature more live art tutorials of your favorite Critical Role characters. Mame Drop is another show born from an Everything is Content episode. The Cast will stream as they play through more of the thousands of games on their Mame Cabinet. And just in case you were worried about not having enough Critical Role content in the new year, a new season of Between the Sheets will start Monday January 28th! If you’re in or around Los Angeles on January 18th-20th you won’t want to miss the first ever Critical Role Art show and the Vox Machina: Search for Grog One-Shot featuring some of your favorite members of Vox Machina. The new year promises so many new and exciting adventures!