Episode 134:The Streets of the Forgotten
As the rubble settles, The Nein are left on the wrong side of a collapsed tunnel. No one is too seriously injured but they are all still exhausted from not having a full night’s rest. They debate the merit of giving a chase to Lucien and Cree now or after they’ve rested a bit. Ultimately, the group decide to cautiously press on. With Essek’s help they manage to dig out enough of the tunnel collapse to squeeze through. Caduceus and Jester spend a minute to sever Tyffial’s head and stash it away for a later conversation.
The Nein carefully track Lucien and Cree’s bloody trail for several hours through the rubble. They lose the trail at the edge of a crumbling temple. Veth and Beau stealth ahead into the pitch black to look for signs of Lucien passing through. Beau, with her night vision goggles, is just able to make out two hulking shapes laying bloodied in the middle of the path. Strange beasts, like enormously muscled mostly hairless apes, with feral bear or dog like facial features. They’ve never seen anything like this before. Veth and Beau manage to pick up Cree’s blood trail on the other side of this battlefield. They debate scouting further or returning to the group when a deep growling noise approaches from the darkness.
Meanwhile, Caduceus takes this moment to speak to Tyffial’s corpse. He learns vague information about the Tomb Taker’s plans but believes that they are still on the correct path. Caleb takes this short break to read the strange writing on the outside of the tower Beau and Veth are exploring. It reads “Mausoleum of the Forgotten”. Just then, Veth and Beau return from their scouting trip, covered in blood.
Concerned, The Nein ask the scouters what happened, but Beau and Yasha reassure their friend that the blood isn’t there’s and they managed to find the Tomb Taker’s trail again. Although… the way may be dangerous and monster filled. Caduceus suggests they take a detour into the nearby amphitheater of corpses to get some info from the dead. Maybe one of the bodies can tell them if the figure trapped in the amber-like bubble is a friend or foe.
Caduceus chooses between two bodies, one is a metallic humanoid and the other seems to be of elven descent. Caleb casts comprehend languages on Caduceus as he begins to speak to the elven figure. He learns that this figure was in the amphitheater during the destruction of Aeor as a last ditch effort to appeal to “Brashaar for protection”. Brashaar is the figure trapped in the globe of protection, and one of the mages responsible for the construction and ultimate destruction of Aeor. The elf tells Caduceus that Brashaar filled the minds of the people with thoughts that drew the ire of the gods, and the people rose up to try and stop the destruction of Aeor but were unsuccessful.
While Caduceus is speaking with the elf, Caleb and Essek inspect the dome of protection around Brashaar. Essek is able to pick at the threads of magic and reveal the fractal patterns that form the protection, but this level of magic is beyond his abilities. The Nein feel like they’ve come to a bit of a dead end. They didn’t find the help they were looking for in this amphitheater, the Tomb Takers are now another half hour ahead, and the team is still too exhausted to face any unexpected encounters. Once again turning down the chance to rest, the Nein begin to pick up the trail again.
On the way out, Veth give one more poke at the metallic humanoid trapped in the rubble. She notices a cracked gem in the faceplate that looks suspiciously similar to the gem she scavenged from another destroyed metalloid. She digs out the cracked gem and pops in the new gem. Just as she’s about to give up the gem glows and the form begins to shift in the rubble.
The construct begins speaking in a strange language that only Caduceus can understand. Caduceus relays that the being is asking for its name, it can’t remember what its name is. They decide he will be called Charlie. Charlie slowly picks up the Common language the Nein are speaking and switches over so everyone can understand him. He introduces himself as designation Charlie, an automaton citizen of Aeor. The Nein quickly fall in love with this dusty, slightly damaged automaton and ask for his help in traveling the ruins. Charlie agrees to help, though his damaged memory bank, and the semi-destructed nature of the ruins will be challenging for him to navigate. And also, his legs don’t work.
Charlie says that if the Nein can get him to the repair bay in the Genesis ward, he may be able to reboot himself and piece together his final moments in Aeor. Jester carries Charlie on her back like a backpack. Charlie isn’t very stealthy, he can’t seem to control the volume of his voice very well. He’ll do his best to lead the Nein to the Genesis Ward as…qUIeTLy… as he can manage. As they begin to set off, Essek pulls Caleb aside and says he doesn’t trust Charlie at all. Many things here were built as dangerous weapons, and though he may seem charming and harmless now, Charlie may hide a dangerous side.
The Nein and Charlie backtrack out of the amphitheater and back to the mausoleum where Beau and Veth found the two corpses. They push past the bodies, wary for any lingering monsters in the shadows. Charlie cannot recall the way to the Cognouza ward, maybe after the reboot. Caduceus notices something is following them, and cautions his teammates. They enter a new chamber, this one emanating a far deeper chill than the previous chambers. A tall glowing tower sits menacingly up ahead.
Not able to risk a dangerous encounter, The Nein send Beau and Yasha ahead to scout. They find that as they get closer to the proximity of the tower, a powerful electricity sends static shocks through the air. They relay the info back to the rest of the team and Charlie lets them know this is a security gate of sorts. If you’re not allowed to go through…you get toasted. Caleb comes up with the idea to throw up a dome of invulnerability around them as they run through the checkpoint. He casts the dome, edges forward until the first lightning bolt strikes, then yells at the Nein to run.
Of course, they can’t get away that easily, a growling beast emerges from the shadows, blocking the path. It’s another strange chimera mutation. wolf-like in shape yet hairless with a curious eyeball on its tail. And from behind, heavy footfalls shake the ground as another bear-like ape sapian monster enters the field. Beau rushes to attack the wolf-like Absorber, landing solid hits and stunning it. Jester, out of spells and exhausted, throws her ax into the Absorbers tail and Yasha adds a couple good whacks with Holy Avenger for good measure.
From behind, the ape-bear Reverser shudders unnaturally quickly towards Fjord and Caduceus biting and slashing with intense ferocity. Caleb tries to disintegrate it but its too quick and his spell misses. Caduceus tries to banish but it shrugs it off no problem. Fjord thundersteps down the hallway and off the battlefield while Caduceus goes invisible. Beau is able to punch the Absorber to pulp when she hears Fjord’s frantic squeals from around a corner up ahead. Apparently another Absorber was lurking nearby. The Absorber raises it’s tail eyeball up over its head and aims at Essek.
Suddenly Essek doubles over, grabbing his head and screaming. He fights through the psychic pain and raises his arms up over head and sends a gravity wormhole crashing down onto the Reverser near Caleb. The Reverser gets sucked into the blackhole, its body spaghettifying in the process but it still holds onto life. The Reverser lashes out at Caleb, sending the squishy wizard flying in a bloody heap. Caleb manages to get his arcane shield up before the Reverser completely mauls him but he’s not looking good. Veth is able to get to Caleb’s side and send a crossbow bolt into the Reverser’s brain. Fjord is still screaming at his Absorber up ahead.
Caleb reaches out a bloody hand and also casts gravity sinkhole at the last Absorber, trying to pull it off Fjord. The Absorber sends the spell ricocheting back at Caleb, who manages to side step just in time. Fjord attacks with a powerful Hex, but the aura of Aeor warps around his spell and suddenly his face feels weird….and hairy…. and he can’t see very well through the dark mass covering his eyes.
Caduceus and Caleb round the corner and see Fjord fending off the Absorber. What the heck is wrong with his face? Some kind of dark shadow is blurring his features. Essek floats up behind Caleb, sending seven magic missiles into the Absorber. Essek asks Caleb “Are you ok?” “No” “Yeah…me either.” The poor wizards have had a rough go of it. Fjord is still squawking for help in his corner. Beau and Jester come in to save the day. Beau starts punching while Jester throws a beautifully aimed ax directly into its tail eyeball. It falls lifeless to the ground.
Caleb limps the group out of the range of the electricity tower and they pause to lick their wounds. Fjord tries to understand what is going wrong with his face. He tries to wipe this strange new hair from his eyes, but his palms are also covered in hair. Yasha and Jester suddenly tell Fjord to stop wiping his face! He’s rubbing all the hair completely off his head. Um, excuse me?! Fjord takes a moment to process his fate before solemnly pulling chunks of his hair, beard, and eyebrows off his head. Apparently Aeor wild magic has seen fit to make Fjord completely hairless. Like Tilikum all up in here. While relatively harmless, the sheer visual of it is enough to send the rest of his friends into fits of stifled laughter. They’re sure that he’ll be able to pull off the bald look, they just need a minute to adjust.
This is enough to send the group over the edge. It’s finally time to rest. They find a somewhat sheltered area of the chamber and set up the dome for the night. Charlie pipes in, saying he believes the Genesis ward is just around the corner. Should be easy to reach after a rest. Jester scries on Lucien to try and discern if they are still on the right path. She can hear Lucien in the background, rambling about being a savior to these wee clueless babes. He will bring meaning to their meaningless lives.
That night, as Beau and Caleb are sleeping, Lucien’s voice creeps into their dreams. “Your friends are peeking.” That was clever what you did back there. I can almost say I’m impressed. I’m not going to kill you…yet. He just wants to invite them to watch him take his reign, long may it be. The dream ends it a static of screams and whispers…and that’s where we’ll pick up next time.
Another fantastic Aeor exploration episode! Coming off of the heated intensity of last week’s cliffhanger, I was glad to have a semi calm episode. Not to say this episode is boring at all. Mercer is really layering on the mystery and weirdness of Aeor in fantastic ways on top of the continuously teased Lucien encounter. There was also quite a bit of levity sprinkled in this episode which was welcomed after some increasingly tense episodes. We all know the Mighty Nein don’t take themselves nearly as seriously as Vox Machina during a world ending battle. Let’s jump right in and unpack everything that happened in episode 134.
The Nein had to precariously balance their exhaustion and spell slots this entire session. The scent of the hunt was too strong to lull the Nein into taking a long rest. Knowing that Cree was a grievously wounded by their trap and Lucien was already feeling vulnerable, the Nein did their best to try and catch up to finish what they started. Even the threat of facing off more Aeoran nightmare Chimeras didn’t dissuade the Nein from the chase. Ultimately, the Nein did a fantastic job of scouting ahead, reserving energy and spells, and knowing when to finally tap out without having to revivify anyone.
Ok, it’s time to talk Charlie. Everyone’s new favorite automaton! It’s impossible to tell if it’s Mercer’s ability to pour every ounce of adorable into his NPC’s or we’re all just suckers for a good sob story we can fix. Even Sam and Laura couldn’t resist Charlie’s harmless charm. I will say… when the DM’s own NPC pulls you aside to warn you that this little cute robot may be more dangerous than he initially seems…maybe you should listen? Although, knowing how charming the Nein can be, maybe they can write any of Charlie’s more dangerous tendencies out of his system and gain another helpful ally.
The Nein also got some interesting information from the Aeoran elf in the amphitheater. If we can infer that most of the people in the trapped in the bubbles of protection are of similar status to Brashaar, then Aeor may be littered with still living mad mages bent on their own selfish aggrandizement. I am also glad that despite learning there was a powerful mage trapped in a bubble, the Nein left Brashaar alone and did not try to convince her to fight on their side. The elf seemed to hint that Brashaar may have had attachments to the Somnovum, or at the very least was responsible for the destruction the Somnovum brought down onto the people of Aeor. It is a bit spooky thinking there may be many powerful mages still trapped but accessible scattered through the ruins.
This episode wasn’t all chase and no fight. The Nein managed to run into three new Aeor besties. While we still don’t know how these beasts are being created or which area of Aeor they may have escaped from. It’s been fantastic to get to see more of these nightmarish creations Mercer has littered Aeor with. I love me some monster filled, apocalypse setting world building.
The fight was fun! A little bit scary, just for the fact that some of the Nein were already going in at half power. The intro was exciting. Getting interrupted as you’re about to run your way through a static machine on steroids will usually lead to a rather flustered battle. Beau saved the first half of the fight with her out of the gate stunning strike on the first Absorber. The Reverser gave the Nein quite a run for their money, though I have a feeling we still didn’t get to see the true extent of this creatures powers. That’s ok, Caleb left the fight by the skin of his teeth already, we didn’t need any more chaos added to this fight.
Fjord had quite an experience though! He once again found himself pinned in a corner by himself, holding off a giant snapping beast while his friends cluelessly fought around him. You’d think he’d learn by now. Plus, he had the added hilarity of rolling a rather harmless Wild Magic effect. Poor Fjord. Mercer had most of the cast worried that Fjord had inadvertently picked up a vengeful dark spirit with all the talk of “strange darkness” and “shadow pouring from Fjord’s face.” Or maybe he got you thinking Travis would finally get to live out his dream of having a werewolf transformation after Mercer described Fjord discovering hair all over his face and palms. Instead, we are left with this beautiful, hairless half orc. The dice gods were kind and I think we all needed the laugh.
I will give Essek and Caleb’s interactions one sentence in this review. I’m doing my best to reign in the Shadowgast brain rot…but alas I am only human. Though Essek spent most of this episode in the background, (Mercer had 1,000 balls to juggle between NPC-ing the Tomb Takers, running encounters, and managing exposition) he did show his cards during the battle when he rushed to Caleb’s side to check in on his friend after his mauling. Ok. I’m done. Moving on.
Just when Beau and Caleb thought they might be safe from the Somnovum’s prying eyes, they have a shared dream again! I had been hoping that the amulets had somehow hidden the two from the effects of their curiosity. Lucien managed to break through though and now Beau and Caleb might wake up with a brand new eyeball somewhere on their bodies. Liam also left a giant hint on the table during the session. He asked Mercer (out of character) whether he could still see “the thing” by Jester while she was scrying on Cree. It was mentioned that he first noticed this anomaly when he was in his ape form. My best guess is that one of his eye tattoos is triggering and giving him True Sight to be able to see scrying magic. Ok, so far, if this is true, that’s not the worst side effect that having these eyes could bring about. I guess we’ll just have to see what’s hiding under the rug when Mercer is finally ready to show us.
Next session promises a possible peak into a new ward of Aeor. If the Nein follow Charlie’s request to take him to the Genesis ward, we may get to see the automaton at full mental capacity! Who knows what that could mean?! Maybe killer robot, maybe helpful friend. The Nein also have the task of figuring out exactly where Lucien and Cree escaped to. Jester heard running water nearby which the Nein haven’t come across at all, but the room looked similar to the laboratory room they encountered creepy baby monster in a handful of episodes ago. I have a feeling Mercer is pressing the campaign towards a final encounter in the Astral Sea. It’ll be interesting to see how far the Nein let him get. Lucien is down three crew, but he still has a head start. Don’t worry Critters, it’s almost Thursday.
Don’t Miss It!
There will be a new episode of Narrative Telephone Tuesday at 4 pm. This episode’s chaos is helmed by Travis Willingham and will feature a DnD legend guest star Aabria Iyengar.
Episode 135 of Campaign 2 will air in its usual time slot on Thursday.