Spoilers for Critcal Role Campaign 2 Episode 7 (obviously). Check out the recap for Campaign 2 Episode 6 here.
Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
The party continues to explore the gnoll mines.
After the attacks on Alfield, the party left to investigate the source of the increased gnoll activity. Their investigation led them to a mine, where they found a humanoid figure performing a ritual while wearing gnoll armor. The figure escaped, but the party managed to defeat the nearby gnolls and hyenas. After the battle, they heard noises in the distance. A woman yelled out for help, and they ran to assist.
They run down the tunnel. It curves to the right before going into a spiral. Eventually, they reach a chamber of natural rock and simple stonework. The chamber leads to a Y-intersection. Tables and chairs are strewn about, and two hyenas fight for scraps. A crumbled section of the floor drops into a pit. Two skeletal gnolls and two standard gnolls guard doors.
One of the gnolls is holding a small child, pulled from behind the door it is guarding. Four more gnolls rush into the room and exit through another tunnel.
After a brief moment of quiet, a loud boom rattles the chamber. A cloud of dust and smoke billows from one of the tunnels. Molly and Jester see a flying creature emerge from the tunnel with all the dust and smoke. It perches on a far wall.
The party rushes in and begins to attack the gnolls and hyenas in an attempt to save the child.
As they attack, there is a flash of arcane light that crashes into one of the gnolls. A shape emerges from one of the tunnels. A tall, spindly humanoid figure begins to attack the gnolls as well.
The gnoll holding the child tries to flee, but Nott kills it just before it can retreat. She scurries over to the child. The child begins to scream and cry and Nott rushes over to him.
Beau and Caleb move blindly through the dark chamber. He casts dancing lights sending one above his head, one about Beau’s, and sends two more deeper into the chamber. They then see the child, terrified of Nott and the rest of the gnolls. They also see Shakäste, their new ally.
Fjord casts eldritch blast on a nearby gnoll. One of the gnolls tries to attack Shakäste, but he parries the attack.
The hyenas rush over to Molly and Nott and attack.
Shakäste casts thunderwave. The gnoll, now barely alive, is forcefully pushed from him.
Beau, pushing the hyena out of the way, rushes over to the terrified little boy and tries to heal him. Jester rushes over as well, even though she would prefer to attack the remaining gnoll instead.
The gnoll pulls out his bow and looses an arrow at Caleb. The arrow easily finds its mark and it pierces Caleb’s skin.
The gnoll turns, trying to run. Fjord puts a hex on the gnoll and casts eldritch blast. The spell smacks into the gnoll, and the gnoll falls over, dead.
Jester demands that the others collect the ears for her jar.
Shakäste: “I appreciate you all counting ears, but can we deal with the kid for a minute?”
Nott, startled by Shakäste’s sudden appearance, turns her crossbow on him and demands to know who he is. He introduces himself to the group. He tells them to thank his bird for letting him know what they look like. He introduces his black hummingbird (the one Molly and Jester saw earlier) as The Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna. He says that she is sometimes called Stacey, even though it isn’t her name.
After their introductions, Shakäste goes over the child, who Jester is currently trying to heal by pushing a donut into his face. He suggests that he move the child to safety. He tells the others that he looks over the people who come to this place.
While everyone talks to their new friend, Caleb looks down the nearby pit. He sends his dancing lights down. At the bottom, he sees two corpses: one gnoll and one hyena. Jester looks over and declares that it’s a “poop hole.”
Jester goes over to the door where the child was pulled from. Nott joins her, examining the door for locks and traps. Jester knocks on the door, but there is no response. When they open the door, they are hit with the strong sense of decay. In the room is an alive woman with ratted hair, wearing an apron.
Shakäste enters the room. He leads the woman out of the room and brings her to her child. She pulls her son close to her.
Jester asks if there are any other survivors. She points to the other door. Molly unlocks it. Inside is three more corpses and a living half-elven man. However, he is injured by an infected claw gash across his torso. Jester tells him that they are the rescue party.
Shakäste says that he has a place for these people on the surface. Jester offers their cart to bring them back to Alfield.
The group rolls the dead gnolls and hyenas into the pit. They don’t bother to clean up the dead gnolls and hyenas in the other room. Caleb searches through the boxes. He finds some rotted meat and puts it in his pockets.
Shakäste picks up a piece of TNT. Nott warns him to be careful with it. He says it isn’t his first rodeo. Nott swoons. The Grand Duchess flies over and perches on his shoulder. Jester tries to call the bird over to her.
They drag the bodies of the townspeople out of the cave. When they reach the entrance, the child wakes up. His mother comforts him and thanks Shakäste. Jester and Nott rush to say that they helped too.
Shakäste taps on a reed door, and more survivors come out of hiding. They gather with the newly rescued and begin to identify the dead. After resting a while, they leave the survivors. Shakäste tells them to keep hidden, and the group goes back into the mines.
Shakäste sends The Grand Duchess forward. Caleb mentions that he also had a bird to his new friend.
Shakäste focuses his vision through the bird. The tunnel descends before leveling off. They see ascending stairs leading to the remainder of the tunnel. Then, it curves to the left, just out of sight. The bird sees a gnoll keeping watch. She moves on past the guard. There is another chamber with a pit.There is an archway with the double doors broken off. Sitting nearby is two undead gnolls. The Grand Duchess comes back to him.
He suggests killing the first gnoll and then moving on to the two undead sentinels. Caleb forward a ball bearing and ball of light to distract the gnoll, but it remains at its post.
Fjord asks who can sneak ahead. Caleb points at Nott, who begs them not to make her do this again. Fjord offers to go with her. Shakäste casts guidance on Nott.
Shakäste: “I just have a really good feeling on what you’re about to do. Like, a really good feeling. Like the kind of feeling that will put a big smile on your face, take you back home, make you feel like–“
Nott: “I’m not interested in a relationship right now.”
Shakäste: “Well, this isn’t working at all.”
He mentions to her too that she can likely get shiny things if she takes out the gnoll quickly and quietly.
Jester casts blessing of the Trickster on Fjord.
As Fjord and Nott sneak forward, Fjord kicks a rock, this time capturing the attention of the gnoll. Nott quickly sends a message to Caleb, who tells her to retreat back to the party. However, Fjord encourages them to still push forward.
Nott: “Why are all you big men making these weird speeches to me?”
She takes a swig of her flask and waits carefully for the gnoll to come to them.
Nott fires her crossbow and Fjord lets loose an eldritch blast. The gnoll fires its bow in return. Nott’s bolt misses, but the eldritch blasts strikes it in the face, obliterating one of the gnoll’s eyes.
The others begin to head down. Fjord and Nott continue to fire at the gnoll. It tries to cry out, but the attacks kill it.
The others reach them right as the gnoll falls over, dead.
Jester rushes over to cut off the ears. She sees more gnolls approaching, alerted by the noise of the brief scuffle. She and Molly quickly grab the gnoll and drag it out of sight.
Shakäste sends The Grand Duchess forward as the gnolls look around for the source of the noise. One of the gnolls notice the hummingbird and knock an arrow. Shakäste quickly calls his bird back to him. Shakäste casts thaumaturgy, shaking the ground around the gnolls.
Fjord casts armor of Agathys on himself. Jester casts toll of the dead while Shakäste casts sacred flame. Caleb casts blur.
Shakäste casts frost bite on the nearest gnoll.
Molly backs up the stairs and casts vicious mockery on the gnolls. Nott rushes back up with him and fires a crossbow bolt. She misses and then runs back down to where she was originally.
Jester runs up the stairs and casts duplicity, putting her double next to a gnoll. It swings at the fake Jester, but the attack does nothing.
Beau runs up. Caleb gives her some of his dancing lights. She attacks one of the witherlings that have approached.
An armored gnoll comes rushing towards them. Seeing which Jester is the real one, he fires at her, but she blocks it with her shield.
Shakäste casts aid on Jester, Beau, and himself. He sends The Grand Duchess to perch on the wall.
Molly rushes over to a witherling, killing it in a single blow. He swings around and strikes another gnoll.
Nott sneaks over behind Shakäste and kills another gnoll. She pulls aside his cloak to see what he has in his back pocket. She sees a mostly full pouch and lets the cloak go back.
Jester sends her duplicate to cast toll of the dead. The spell finally lands.
Caleb casts scorching ray. All three flaming bolts find their target.
The pack leader rushes Beau. He pushes her into the pit below. She lands hard on her back.
Shakäste commands the armored gnoll to halt. It does, confused. Molly rushes over and attacks. He casts a blood maledict on the gnoll, blinding it.
Nott, after stroking Shakäste’s back pouch, prepares to attack the pack leader. Jester moves into melee range. She and Nott both unleash their attacks. The bolt hits one eye as Jester’s sickle hits another.
Nott: “Jester! We’ve solved the mystery!”
Beau gets up and leaps up the side of the pit until she reaches the top.
Beau: “Did you guys know there was a hole?”
The gnolls are getting ready to flee as the group continues to attack.
As one starts to flee, Fjord casts eldritch blast, killing it. As the final gnoll passes beau, she hits it, killing it as well.
The party takes a quick breath and then begins to loot the bodies. They cut off ears and find some weapons and money.
Shakäste puts his money away in his back pouch. Nott is unable to see this through Shakäste’s cloak.
Through the archway, they smell musky citrus and urine. Jester suggests burning the mine to the ground, but the others point out that you can’t burn down a mine.
Shakäste sends The Grand Duchess forward through the mines. While he is distracted with The Grand Duchess, Nott picks his pocket. None of the party notices this, but Shakäste feels his heavy pouch being removed. He chooses to ignore this.
As The Grand Duchess flies through the caves, following the scent, she comes across a long rocky alcove with stalactites hanging from the ceiling. In the room are two bound humanoid figures. A human-like figure strapped in gnoll flesh holding a bound crownsguard. They drag the guard to the top of the platform. At the top of the platform is a manticore. They kick the guard forward. The offer pleases the manticore.
As the manticore stands, The Grand Duchess sees a newborn manticore by the creature as well. The manticore bites into the crownsguard.
The Grand Duchess flies back to the group.
The party guesses that the manticore’s chamber is the deepest one in the mine. They discuss caving in the chamber, but there doesn’t seem to be any support columns. Molly suggests that they can use the TNT to attack the manticore, but Fjord points out how close they will have to get to do that.
They consider simply freeing as many prisoners as possible before running. Thinking that the manticore will be too powerful for them. Jester suggests stealing the baby, but the others shoot down stealing the baby.
They move forward, resolving to at least free the survivors. Jester gives Caleb the blessing of the Trickster.
Nott uses mage hand to drop a ball bearing, successfully distracting the humanoid in gnoll clothing.
The cultist lights his hand with red glowing energy approaching the sound. The manticore pounces on the location where the ball bearing was dropped.
While they are distracted, Nott sneaks over to a bound townsperson and loosens the ropes around him.
The manticore stalks around the chamber before finally spotting the group. Now that the manticore is closer, they recognize the spines on the manticore from the gnoll armor and weapons.
Molly casts vicious mockery, but the manticore still smiles at them, getting ready to eat them all.
Fjord runs over and swings his falchion at the beast, hitting her. Jester tries to strike with her sickle as well, but the manticore blocks her attack and the sickle is knocked out of her hand and down the stairs.
Nott unties the second townsperson using mage hand. Both are freed, but the exit is blocked by the manticore, and they don’t know who released them.
The manticore strikes Fjord and then bites into him. However, Fjord’s armor sends cold damage back to the manticore as it bites in. It flies up into the air.
The priest casts hold person on Fjord.
Shakäste casts spiritual weapon, and a bust of a 120 year old woman with short curly hair appears just underneath the manticore. It bludgeons into the stomach of the creature.
Jester casts sacred flame on the priest. He runs to hide behind a stalagmite. She then runs down the stairs and picks up her sickle again.
Nott runs in front of the prisoners and yells at them to get out. She then yells at the manticore before attacking the baby. The baby dies in the attack, and the mother is furious.
She flies down to Nott and tears into the goblin girl. When the attacks cease for a moment, she’s barely standing.
Now that the manticore is distracted, the townspeople run out of the cavern.
Beau rushes over to Nott and picks up the goblin girl before running out. The manticore gets in one last swipe on Nott, and knocks her unconscious.
Caleb sees this attack, and damages the manticore with a spell. He pants heavily as he looks at Nott in Beau’s arms.
The priest, still using hold person on Fjord, casts inflict wounds on Jester. She falls unconscious.
Shakäste casts sacred flame on the priest. The attack distracts him enough that Fjord is freed. Fjord rushes over to Jester and gives her a healing potion, bringing her back to consciousness. They both begin to run out of the cavern towards Beau and Nott. Jester casts cure wounds on Nott before running out.
Before leaving, Nott tells the manticore a joke about an incontinent druid wetting its plants. Despite the loss of its baby, it falls over in hysterical laughter.
They quickly discuss if they should flee or stay and finish the job. Beau rushes over to the priest and dislocates his jaw, but he’s still standing. Caleb casts fire bolt on the priest, killing him. His head bursts into flames. Caleb is temporarily overwhelmed with memories.
Shakäste smashes into the manticore with his spiritual weapon. He then casts sacred flame, hoping to relieve her of the misery for losing her child. The flame flies into her mouth. She gets up and looks forlornly at her child. The spell bursts through her chest, killing her.
They begin to look around the room. Beau takes the adornments of the priest, getting goggles and a reddish glove.
Shakäste casts fog cloud behind Nott. He emerges from it, scaring her. He tells her she can keep the gold, but she must be careful in the future. She nervously agrees.
Molly and Fjord behead the manticore. Jester picks it up to take with them.
As they exit the cave, they see that the remaining gnolls have scattered. They meet the survivors back on the surface. They load up the cart and make their way with all of the survivors back to the city.
When they arrive, they are halted by the guards.
Jester: “The saviors of Alfield have returned!”
They make their way through the partially destroyed town. They bring Bryce over to them. They thank the group profusely. They react strongly to the manticore head in particular.
Bryce: “What do we call you?”
Nott: “We’ll get back to you.”
Fjord: “We’re the TBDs.”
The survivors all confirm the story of the group’s heroism to Bryce. One woman begins to tell Bryce about Shakäste, but he simply puts his finger to his lips, and hushes.
The town begins to gather, some finding loved ones, and others not. As darkness falls in the town square, people bring chairs and music and food for an impromptu celebration in the party’s honor. They think over what they have accomplished for Alfield and its people.
Jester hands her jar of ears to Bryce. Before giving them, however, she whispers “Thaddeus Candleglow says hello.”
Nott slides some gold into Caleb’s pocket, telling him she got him book money.
Shakäste stands at a distance. He scrawls something into the dirt before fading into the forest.
To be continued…
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About the Artist: Nick Uroseva (@Nick_Uroseva)
Nick is a professional graphic artist from Youngstown, Ohio. He has a BA in Multimedia Technology. When he isn’t doodling for one thing or another, he spends is his time writing and Dungeon Mastering several D&D games, enjoying craft beer, shooting zombies with Nerf blasters, and tweeting about #CriticalRole.