Episode 127: Sarsaparilla, Licorice, and Red Hot
The Nein awake to stiff necks and cramped quarters, wondering how their two friends enjoyed the plush tower all to themselves. Flirting with danger, the Nein invite themselves into the tower hoping to enjoy some of its finer amenities before getting started for the day. Beau and Yasha make themselves decent and join their companions refreshed and recharged.
Over breakfast, and in between intensely personal questions about last night’s date, the Nein hash out a plan to check in with Astrid and finish their business in Rexxentrum. Jester pops off a quick message to Astrid, asking her to meet Caleb by the academy soon. The Nein sneak in a few more minutes of rest before packing up and heading off to see what news Astrid has to offer.
Astrid finds Caleb outside the dormitories and tells him she was able to gather information on where the unused anti-scrying necklaces are being kept. Caleb won’t like the answer though. They are held under lock and key somewhere inside the heavily guarded Vergesson Sanitorium. This is the very same sanitorium that Caleb was kept at for the better part of a decade, and where Trent revealed the extent of his experimentation on the Dynasty Beacon all those months ago. She gives Caleb a map with some notes, and let’s him know that Trent should be away for the day but she can’t know his schedule for sure. Be careful.
Caleb meets up with the rest of his group and they spend the next few hours debating the merits of breaking into the Sanitorium. After much deliberation and planning, it seems they have a plan everyone is mostly happy with. They will split into three groups. Firestorm: Caleb, Jester, and Veth, to break into the vault and retrieve the necklaces. Outie: Yasha, Fjord, and Caduceus, to keep watch on the grounds and guards outside and warn of trouble. And Beau, all by herself, to be the short stop between both teams, helping where she’s most needed. This heist mission definitely feels like a trap, but what other choice do they have at the moment? Time to give it their best shot.
Caleb teleports the Nein to the outskirts nearby the Sanitorium. Fjord gets Jester close enough to paint a magical doorway into a hidden section of the tower. Oh, and every great heist has amazing code words, right? The teams decide that “all clear, proceed” will be sarsaparilla. “Need help” will be licorice. And the new “Jenga/ It’s bad we’re running” code word will be Red Hots. Team Firestorm disappear into the tower. Beau heads to the roof to keep watch. Team Outie sets up watch outside the fence. So begins operation necklace heist.
Team Firestorm find themselves in a quieter part of the tower. Veth gets the next two doorways open with relative ease. Things seems to be going ok inside the tower. Meanwhile, Beau, who has scaled the walls of the tower, has just come across a sleeping guard, blocking her from easy access to the rest of the tower. She is frozen in place, deciding what to do as her teammates check in with her. Veth gives the code word “sarsaparilla”- everything is good, proceed. Stumped, Beau begins to lay out different weapons to try and take out the guard. Acid vials, knives, and ball bearings…which should she choose?
Back in the tower, Team Firestorm come across their first guard. Veth and Jester decide a non-violent approach might be easiest for this heist. Jester moseys into the room, casting Best Friends on the unsuspecting guard. He is immediately charmed by the charismatic Jester and they begin to share a pleasant, though slightly awkward conversation. She manages to convince the guard, Kyrie, to let her and her friends pass without a fuss, and in fact, he should be helping them get through these next rooms without trouble. Kymie readily agrees to help, though his friends are just in the next room over, so the should let them know the plan. Jester manages to distract Kyrie long enough to get Caleb and Veth into the next room.
Sure enough, there are several guards patrolling this hallway. Veth tries to assassinate guard 1 and her sneak attack crossbow nearly does the trick, but her final blow misses and Caleb steps in to finish the guard off. He casts a gravity sinkhole right above the guard. The guard is sucked toward the sinkhole and is crushed into a human snowball of gore and blood before crashing back down to the ground below. The noise is enough to draw more guards from the next room. So much for the non-violent approach.
Jester and Veth watch in abject horror as Caleb continues to crush guards with his Dunemantic gravity sinkhole and chain lightning. It’s a gruesome sight. IT seems like Caleb has some pent up rage and trauma from his experience here and it’s all pouring out onto these guards now. Veth tries to warn off other guards. “Please don’t attack us, I’m travelling with a murderer.” Unfortunately, nobody listens and Caleb continues his fiery rampage, with Veth sending in crossbow bolts to help. Jester begs Kyrie to stay in this first room, close his eyes, and don’t come out no matter what. Tears fill her eyes and she says keep counting Kyrie, and stay right here. She cries silently as she hides the crumpled snowballs and toasted marshmallows of gore Caleb has left behind.
Meanwhile, Beau is still trying to deal with her sleeping guard. A fireball explosion rocks the nearby tower. Man, Caleb must have hit some trouble. The guard begins to stir. She decides the acid vials will be the most practical in this situation, uncorks them and pours them into the semi-conscious guard’s mouth. He immediately begins to choke on the acid and Beau pins him to the ground, watching him choke to death. Uhh….it’s taking a while for the acid to run its course…it may be a minute or two before he’s dead. Maybe snapping his neck will be more merciful. Hopefully Caleb is doing a bit better. Oh look, another guard up on the roof has noticed trouble and is going to get help.
Caduceus, on Team Outie, notices Beau waving and pointing at a fleeing guard. He alerts the other members of his team who were rather busy making daisy chains. Fjord thinks now would be a good time for a distraction, but Caduceus wants to give Team Firestorm one more minute to get the package and get out. Just then, a group of guards led by a familiar looking older man in flowing robes rapidly approach the tower. It seems that Trent Ikithon has entered the building.
Inside the tower, Team Firestorm has hit a wall. Caleb attempts to dispel the magical barrier blocking them from the vault, but even his high level dispels have no effect. Jester offers to try and dimension door into the vault. It’s extremely risky, but they’re out of time and everyone in the tower is definitely aware of their presence now. Time to be reckless. Jester concentrates, and teleports herself and Veth just inside the vault.
Fjord loses his patience and decides to create a diversion to buy his friends more time. He casts an image of a raging red dragon wailing on the gates to get Trent’s attention. The mage glances over at the illusion, but is not at all fooled. In fact, this seems to ignite his concern even more and he vanishes from the field and inside the tower. Well…that didn’t work at all. Fjord then casts a thick layer of marine fog, giving the Nein the cover they need to escape. Hopefully Beau and team Firestorm find their way out without trouble.
Thankfully, Jester’s spell worked beautifully. No one got trapped in a wall or cut in half by a box. She tells Veth to hurry and look for anything useful they can grab and she casts locate object on the necklaces. There they are! Jester tucks the box under her arm and tells Veth it’s time to go. Veth gets distracted by a locked chest and wastes precious seconds unlocking it. Inside are fantastic glowing blue crystals, which Veth greedily snatches up before Jester grabs her and dimension door’s them back to Caleb’s side. No time to lose! Let’s get out of here! jester attempts to cast word of recall but the spell fizzles on her fingertips. Chills run down their spines as they hear a familiar voice. “Well, if this isn’t extremely curious.”
And that’s where we’ll pick up next time.
I think all of us were screaming at our screens in panic as Mercer ended this session. I was prepared for this heist to contain some Mighty Nein level shenanigans but…this cliffhanger was more intense than I imagined. And here I though leaving us on the precipice of a turtle dragon fight for three months was a tease. Let’s dive right into this short but brutal episode.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I had a feeling that the Aeor storyline would be put on pause for a while. Whether intentional or not, the Nein can’t help but get involved in some wild side stories. This session is testament to that fact 100%. Was this heist absolutely necessary for their current Aeor quest? No. Are these protection amulets life or death against Lucien and the Somnovum. Probably not! I am shocked that Caleb would let Astrid convince him that getting anywhere near Trent was a good idea right now. This is my side quest nightmare… but I’m having an absolute blast watching this chaos unfold in front of me.
After the last couple slow and sexy sessions, I figured the Nein would hop back into action and get their main quest back into gear. I figured that Astrid would tell Caleb that she had no luck, or only managed to procure one or two amulets for them to use and then wish him luck against the crazy dream aliens. But no, she had to dangle a dangerous mission in front of these people. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good heist session. The edge of your seat, chaos around every corner, thrilling action gets me going. I mean, who can ever forget the hospital takeover mayhem?! DnD gold. This was a whole new level of thrilling though…
You know an episode is going to be nuts when the cast spend the entire first half hashing out harebrained schemes. This session was no different, though the planning was limited to a quick hour and a half compared to the planning marathons of the Chroma Conclave battles in Campaign 1. They also decided to split the party. NEVER split the party! I mean, at least this way if half the party dies or is captured, we can get another Iron Shepherds type side quest where half the party has to go searching to rescue the other half…if they’re still alive. Who wouldn’t want to see a Fjord, Yasha, and Caduceus spinoff series?
It will be interesting to see if Caleb continues his murder fest rampage, or goes belly up to Trent to try and save his friends. Maybe they’ll try another last ditch escape route, though one has to wonder if they are tired from all the running yet? How many times can you run for your life before you’re a fugitive in every city? I don’t think Caleb is insane enough to tackle Trent Ickithon with only half his companions, no high level spells slots, and only 70 HP left. Suicidal right?
Let’s step back from the edge of the Ickithon showdown for just a moment. So, we can assume that the Nein are wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Vess DeRogna. This already puts them on several dangerous watch lists, which they’ve been warned about already. So what did they decide to do? Oh yeah, break into the magical storerooms of one of those shady organizations. Not suspicious at all. Astrid did tell them to get in and out without discovery. But she also implied that taking Trent out now with the element of surprise might be Caleb’s only shot. Maybe he got his wires all crossed. Oh, and not only did he turn several guards into spaghetti and meatballs, but he used forbidden and vilified Dynasty Dunemancy spells to kill his own countrymen. Sure, sure, sure, they were all complicit in torture and state secrets, but still…maybe try NOT using enemy magic against your people in the middle of a tenuous ceasefire during a war?
Okay, so things are a right mess, the party is split every which way, Caleb’s out of spells and staring down his very evil and very angry ex-master…. Next week’s session is going to be one you won’t want to miss! I’m staying hopeful that they will find a creative and unexpected way out of this predicament. One that maybe involves everyone getting safely out of harms way and as far away from Rexxentrum as can be managed. Hang on Critters, It’s almost Thursday!
Don’t Miss It!
Did you catch the cute little “Crew and A” video Critical Role released? The video was part behind the scenes peek and part Legend of Vox Machina update. It’s exciting to know the wheels are still churning on the animated series! Here’s hoping we get a chance to see it by years end.
Talks Machina has a new episode airing this Tuesday at 7 pm! Catch host Brian W. Foster and his guests Marisha Ray and Ashley Johnson as they discuss the episodes up to 127!