Episode 117: The Tortoise and The Dare
Lucien continues his conversation with the Nein in the dark caverns of the ruins of Aeor. The bodies of a Dynasty search party litter the floor and Lucien’s Tomb Taker’s slowly surround our adventurers.
Lucien and the Nein warily circle each other with questions and witty mysticism. The Nein learn that Lucienc’s title of Nonagon is not one he chose for himself. The origins of the strange name have been nearly lost or erased from history and the only clue Lucien gives is that the last person to hold the title lived a very, very long time ago. Also, Vess is a backstabbing traitor but that’s not really news. The conversation circles around the conspiracy clues that the Nein have tied together so far but nothing is officialy confirmed. Lucien does have to keep up a thick cloak of shadows. He does invite the Nein to continue following him and the tomb takers over and across all of Aeor…though at a distance…because they’re kind of weird and annoying and already getting on his nerves.
While this conversation was going on, one of the tomb takers was busy shipping away ag an enormous blue gem embedded in the ceiling. Just as Lucien is wrapping up his magnificent speech, the gem breaks free, the tomb takers tuck it under their arm and bid a very creepy, in unison, farewells to the Nein. With their heads spinning, the Nein watch as Lucien and crew trace their steps out of the cavern followed by questions like “is that the largest teleportation threshold crest I’ve ever seen?” and “did you say Alpha 2 orrr Alpha 4 or Aeor proper, I can’t remember” *
Just as the last of the Tomb Takers leaves their sight the Nein remember they should probably warn their guide Dagen of the extraordinarily dangerous murder troupe headed his way. Jester tells Dagen to “you know, say hi or hide or something. We love you!” He’ll be fine. The Nein begin the trek back out of the caverns debating the merits of knowingly continuing to follow the Tomb Takers into a trap and letting them do all their sinister….item gathering. The Nein quickly spider climb their way out, pick Daven up out of his snow bank hiding spot and continue onto their next desitnation.
The way is mildly hindered by some ‘faintly undead’ zombies, though at this level the Nein are looking for a more…life threatening challenge. For some reason though, Beau felt the irresitable urge to reach down into the glowing blue throat of a Zombie just in case it was something cool lodged in there. Nope…just frostbite and death. Moving on.
As the Nein settle down for another night in the tundra, Fjord asks Jester to message his acquaintance Kotho, the mercenary from Rumblecusp he charged with finding his old shimpmate Sabian. Kotho replies with a “oh yeah, Sabian has been found, but give me a minute… He’s living his best pirate life on Darktow.” Fjord laments that they spent less than 24 hours there before being banned for life. But bygones be bygones right?
While the Nein are enjoying a cozy, warm dinner together in their Wizard’s tower discussing next steps and what to do with Vess’ very dead body when Dagen chimes in with “so I guess Vess is dead and ya’ll shady bitches have been lying to me this whole time.” The Nein all collectively facepalm as they remember that their best buddy Dagen has been enjoying dinner with them this whole time and they definitely should not have been spilling their deepest, darkest state secrets over bug pies and pancakes. But this wouldn’t be The Nein if they didnt’t make a mess of things. They all drift off to sleep promising to absolutely, definitely wipe Dagen’s memory first thing in the morning.
Fresh morning brings fresh ideas and, as promised Dagen willingly lets Jester erase the horrible knowledge that his employer, and arguably one of the most powerful entities in the Empire is dead. Jester also decides now is a great time to message her favorite hot boi Essek and see if he knows anything about the dead dynasty daredevils that crossed Lucien and the Tomb Takers, or about Nonagon, the Eyes of Nein or the meaning of life, take your pick, ok bye! Essek replies with a “long time, no love! Where you been? I don’t know what a Nine-agon is but funny you mention Aeor, I’m right next door”
The Nein must now decide whether to continue following The Tomb Takers in one direction or meet up with their bestie Essek in the other direction. For now, we’ll continue on in a vaguely northern direction until a more definitive sign shows them the way. Onward!
Three steps into day 7 in Eiselcross and the ground begins to violently shake beneath them. Dagen shouts at the Nein to hide! when an enormous purple ‘toothy maw’ of a worm explodes through the ice ready for lunch. It let’s out a horrrrrrifying scream and almost everyone falls to their knees stunned for a whole minute. Not good. Jester has an ‘ok, ok, ok, ohhh no’ moment but ever the quick thinker she whips out a quick polymorph spell and poofs the death worm into an adorable killer snow bunny.
Still thirsty for blood, snow bunny laser focuses on the nearest enemy who happens to be Fjord. Unfortunately for Fjord, his armor still retaliates even though he is stunned, so one quick ankle bite from the bunny sends its form splattering back into giant death worm. Ok, one little wobble won’t get in their way. These are level 13 professionals. Jester polymorphs the purple worm into everyone’s favorite north pole critter, the winter tortoise. Good enough! The Nein slowly recover from their stun and carefully maneuver the tortoise worm onto its back. As the Nein watch on, Beau sends our tortoise friend curling-style sliding on its shell across an ice sheet and everyone quietly walks away winners.
Still watching over their shoulders for an evil eyed turtle-worm. the Nein make a Wildmother guided decision to follow Lucien and the Tomb Takers into the unknown. Caleb transforms himself into a giant eagle with Jester and Yasha following suit and the winged Nein take flight into the sunset.
*All quotes may not be word for word. Just go with it.
Two solid, hilarious, dangerous, and thrilling episodes in a row! There was a nail biting and frustratingly vague conversation With Lucien almost 100 episodes in the making. I think I was desperate for Caduceus to notice a small spark of something behind Lucien’s eye that let us know Molly was still in there kicking and screaming. Matt dropped another “weird coincidence’ hint that there are in fact NINE betrayer gods (thanks Vecna) which probably has nothing to do with the Eyes of Nine or Nonagon or the fact that everything in this campaign is made out of nines. We also got a teeny pee at what the Tomb Takers are hunting here in Eiselcross. It only brought with it more questions. “why such a big lodestone, granny” “Only to resurrect an evil hivemind city of nightmares in your home plane my dear.” And what’s it like to have nine people thoughts and eyesight going through your brain at the same time? Does it get a little loud and crowded in there? Also, how DARE Lucien mock our very real love for Molly. “Just a fragment… a mere speck of existence” That’s rich coming from a horcruxed mashup of vaguely Irish tiefling.
Up next in the Nein done messed up BINGO is, spilling the dirty dead beans in front of Dagen. Chat called it two episodes ago when the Nein also brought up Vess’ dead corpse in front of Dagen but they didn’t suffer the repercussion until this beautiful scene. I think I tucked my head between my knees in shame and laughter watching Jester and Fjord try to backtrack their way out of this wrong turn. Luckily Dagen is more than willing to play dumb and brainwashed and let Jester erase that memory. Not the last time this will happen is my best guess.
We also got a Fjord backstory Easter egg when Jester messaged Kotho and learned that they probably would have had the worlds most awkward encounter with Sabian on Darktow if they… you know… hadn’t killed the pirate king, Avantika (kind of), and lit the whole place on fire their first night there. Again, everyone repeat after me ” WE LOVE DND!”
We also got to hear from our sweet boy Essek! The fans have been thirsty for some mage on mage action (I’m not going to lie, I’m on this boat and it is rockin’). Hopefully he pops up before Critical Role’s Christmas break or I’m afraid the fans may start going rabid. I love it when story threads weave and wind in unexpected ways.
Finally, we get to the battle of the ages. Fearsome purple worm versus an entire party of stunned, helpless adventurers. Just one wee little cleric standing between him and lunch. How bad could it be. The chat roared with an especially loud cry of “TPK” as the worm prepared a devastating attack. But good old Jester has our back, and it’s never quite what you expect but somehow a million times better. We got not one, but two adorable polymorph critters trying to viciously end Fjord’s time on this world. Jump cuts to the Tomb Taker’s watching from the next ridge over seeing the giant worm, then a giant Yasha, oops the worm shrunk, now Yasha shrunk but the worm is back, Oh lookout Fjord it’s a bunny, here’s a worm again, are they…curling?” Classic. It brought back fond memories of the last time Fjord was viciously attacked by a polymorphed giant snapping turtle. Such good times.
The episode leaves us on a two week hiatus with the Nein eagle racing to the next alpha station before the Tomb Takers get there. Will they beat Lucien and his crew to the next destination or will more calamity befall them? Will the Nein be able to visit Essek along the way? And when will Caleb finally be able to show Essek his very own special room in Caleb’s tower and Caleb will, you know, show him around? Just asking! For a friend. Don’t worry Critters all our questions will be answered soon because…it’s almost Thursday!
Don’t Miss It!
Critical Role will be on break this upcoming Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving. Expect Campaign 2 Episode 118 on December 3rd! Talks Machina will also be dark this week, and will return with a new episode on Tuesday December 15th.