Episode 131: Into the Eye
Yasha stands enthralled in a dream before the Stormlord. He has asked her to prove her devotion to him in the way she knows best. A fight to test her strength. As she turns around, six storm elementals surround her, crackling with energy. A glance down at the rusted sword in her hand, and she realizes that it has transformed into the glowing Holy Avenger. OH it’s on.
Several of the elementals (piloted by some very eager castmates) manage to land some blows on Yasha before she flies into a rage. She fights valiantly for several brutal rounds, taking out a couple of the elementals along the way. As a third destroyed elemental bursts in a death thrall, the explosion knocks Yasha unconscious. Her soul taps into an inner power she didn’t know she had and her body continues fighting. Two more elementals fall under Yasha’s divinly guided rage. Her body refuses to stop even in death. She faces off against the final elemental and as its form falls under her attack she takes off into the sky.
As she rockets towards the eye of the Storm, lightning strikes her sustaining her rage and keeping her body moving. Finally breaking through the clouds, she calls out for the Stormlord. His voice rumbles out “Where do you find your strength?” She replies “My friends, my family and laying my life down before them.” “Then go and protect them” The Stormlord booms out and Yasha awakes once again in the Blooming Grove, a newly powerful Holy Avenger laying in her lap.
While Yasha was out having a trippy storm dream, Jester sent some messages to check in on some associates around the continent. She asks Wenceforth if Yussa has returned from his exploring in the Astral Sea. Unfortunately, Wenceforth says his master has still not awakened, though not for lack of trying. He also apologizes for not being more help against Trent and the Volstruckers. Jester then scries and messages Vandrin one more time. Just to check up on the old hermit you know. For Fjord. She sees his jungly island hideaway for the first time. She later finds out he’s somewhere near Bisaft, the island where Fjord’s ship went down. They exchange a pleasantry about the book Tusk Love that he’s reading. And he tells Fjord to take care of himself.
The next morning, The Nein circle up to plan their next steps. Oh and Jester casually passes along Vandrin’s message to Fjord, who is alarmed but not mad that Jester reached out against his will. Caleb brings up the fact that Trent will most likely hunt them all the way to Eiselcross so they might as well try to team up with him. Maybe appeal to his ego to try and go up against the world threatening Somnovum. They’ll check in with Essek first and see what he says.
Caduceus says a heartfelt goodbye to his family. Hopefully not for the last time. Veth gives a letter to Constance asking her to give it to Yezza should they not return. Constance prays that day will never come but she will honor Veth’s wishes. Caleb begins casting his teleportation circle and each of the companions step through the portal into snowy Eiselcross.
Due to the wiggly nature of magic surrounding Eiselcross, the Nein have landed several days journey away from Essek’s outpost. they decide to use polymorph eagles to make the journey easier. A long day of hard travel goes by with little trouble. That evening, camped under the dome, Jester lets Essek know they are only one days travel away. As the friends wind down for the evening they spend a few moments sharing what their final wishes might be. Jester promises to haunt her friends one by one. Caleb wouldn’t mind if Trent ended up dead by their hand. Veth asks that one of the group marry Yezza, or at least watch over him, and take care of Luc too. Beau wants to make sure the group doesn’t let her become a mind controlled pawn in Lucien’s hands. Take her out before she hurts anyone. On that note, Caleb pulls out the anti-magic collar and hands it to Fjord, asking him to use it if necessary.
The Nein spend the next day travelling by eagle again, finally spotting the outpost in the distance. The Nein cautiously approach th eoutpost on foot and are quickly stopped by Essek’s guards. Caleb shows off his symbol of the Bright Queen and the guard brings them to Essek.
They catch Essek up on all that’s happened since they left. Apologizing for showing their hand to Trent and leading him to uncover Essek’s involvement with the Nein. Caleb quietly asserts that they should use this opportunity to pair up with Trent, use his power against the Somnovum then maybe take him out on their terms. Despite any merit of Caleb’s argument, Essek gives a HARD pass. He cannot under any circumstance trust Trent, and is honsetly shocked that the Nein have considered it. The Somnovum already claimed one member of the Assembly, what’s to stop them from claiming Trent as well?
Ah, yes…speaking of which. Caleb pulls down the collar of his cloak and shirt, showing Essek the red eye symbol on his shoulder. Essek’s eyes go wide, a serious WTF look on his face. Beau also takes a glove off her hand and shows off her shiny new eye symbol too. A now very concerned Essek says that this is all the more reason not to be teaming up with Trent. Should the Nein want to work with Trent Essek will have to back out of the trip, or maybe help from a distance. He’s willing to put his life on the line for his friends, but not if Trent is there. The Nein all agree, they would rather trust Essek than Trent. The word ‘trust’ melts Essek just a bit. he’s obviously still cut up about…you know…betraying his entire people, and his friends. You know, as you should be, cute little traitor.
Essek leaves to let the Nein get themselves sorted and get his things together as well. Then the group sets off together towards Aeor. And that’s where we’ll pick up next time.
Who else loved that unique first half of the session. I was loving the change up as Ashley’s friends took turns battling it out with Yasha as she vied for the Stormlord’s blessing. I enjoy the ways that Mercer keeps the table fresh and unexpected as a DM. We’ve seen in canon one-shots and battle royals where the cast face off. We’ve also had those quiet moments pre-covid when Mercer )or Liam) would ask the rest of the table to leave for some one on one intense RP sessions mid game. This week’s opening encounter was new to Critical Role though, as Mercer kept the rest of the cast involved in what could have easily been a quiet one on one dream encounter.
During the most recent episode of Talks Machina, Liam and Sam talked about their experience going up against Yasha. As suspected, Liam pulled no punches and threw himself into the task of doing the most damage possible while Sam frolicked around with a silly RP while trying to keep things civil between friends. I can’t imagine the nerves Ashley must have been feeling, or the conflicted feelings of most of the rest of the cast, tasked with taking down Yasha. You could definitely tell Ashley was feeling the heat of the entire weight of Mercer’s DM-ing during their encounter. It’s not easy to creatively role play a solo fight while the rest of your party tries to trip you up and 80,000 people are watching you. I don’t think I could put together two sentences, let alone remember all my character’s leveled abilities and attack combos. I do not envy Ashley’s role in this session tonight. She did great and made it to the other side of the encounter as a Zealot of the Stormlord with the newly attuned Holy Avenger at her side.
The second half of the episode was a slow wind up. Not much happened beyond the Nein officially teaming up with Essek and heading out to intercept Lucien in Aeor. We got little tidbits and story lines in between. Jester found out from Wenceforth that Yussa is still MIA in the Astral Sea- definitely a casualty of the Somnovum. Essek had a bit of a tense moment with the Nein, creating a ‘choose him or me’ scenario. Caleb fronted the rather bold plan to possibly team up with Trent Ikithon which got a HUGE nope from Essek. Liam rolling that devastating Nat 1 persuasion shorted us out of some incredibly awkward role play moments between all of Caleb’s crushes. He would have possibly had Astrid, Eodwulf, Essek, and Jester all in the same room. Too much intensity for our introverted wizard friend. The dice gods know best.
And so, the Nein will stick with Essek, choosing to trust their war criminal sellout over the Empire’s most shady and powerful wizard. Of the two choices, I think they chose best?? Mercer has been hinting at Essek’s change of heart. Or maybe its just an incredibly veiled ploy to get the Nein in a sticky situation and betray them for ultimate power once again. At least with Trent we 100% know that would have happened. With Essek, eh…maybe 50/50. I will side with Liam and say that it would have been amazing to see The Nein, plus Essek, and Astrid and Eodwulf team up to take down Trent. Maybe that will be this arc’s epilogue story line.
The Nein said more goodbyes to loved ones this session. It’s feeling more and more somber the closer we get to this encounter. Yasha and Jester even pulled some dark humor macabre by going over what each companion’s dying wish would be. They all have their marching order should there be any casualties against Lucien and the Somnovum.
Now that the Nein have finally begun their race to Aeor, I am dying to know if they will have to go all the way to the Astral Sea to hunt down their foes. Or will Mercer be merciful and give them one honest try to stop Lucien at the final showdown in the tunnels of Aeor? How many more sessions will it take before the Nein finally meet Lucien again? My guess is we’ll have a couple more ramp up sessions before everyone’s favorite tiefling baddie pops back up again.
Next session promises some new Essek interactions, a travel montage, maybe some icy encounters. And, if the Nein are eagle eyed enough, possibly a reunion with Dagen who is guarding Aeor’s secret entrance. Stay tuned for the next action packed episode of Critical Role!
Don’t Miss it!
Lots of new Critical Role content dropped this past week and even more to look forward to this upcoming week.
First up, The Legend of Vox Machina got another behind the scenes update. Another Crew & A featuring the artists and creators sharing their favorite characters and campaign moments from Campaign 1.
A new Talks Machina episode premiered Tuesday and the old chaos couch duo made another rare appearance. Sam and Liam shared their thoughts and feelings about the events so far and the impending final showdown of this arc of the campaign.
#Everything is Content is back for another run. The first episode this season features Liam O’Brian and Laura Bailey playing sponsors Bethesda and ZeniMax Online Studios game Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood. Find the stream on Critical Role’s Twitch channel or Youtube Wednesday at 4 pm.
And of course don’t miss episode 132 of campaign 2 in its normal time slot, Thursday at 7 pm pacific.