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Critical Role Recap: C2E8 – “The Gates of Zadash”

Spoilers for Critical Role Campaign 2 Episode 8 (obviously). Check out the recap for Campaign 2 Episode 7 here.
Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!

The Mighty Nein travels to Zadash.


When they came across the town of Alfield, they found the city under attack by vicious gnolls. Following an investigation, they found a mine where the gnolls were hiding out and bringing their kidnapping victims. When they reached the bottom of the mine, they found that the gnolls and a humanoid priest were feeding the townspeople to a manticore and her newborn baby. With the help of their new friend, Shakäste, they were able to defeat the gnolls and the manticore and free several of the townspeople. They returned to Alfield, and a massive celebration quickly followed.


The party notices that Shakäste has vanished into the night.

Jester suddenly realizes he may be The Traveler. The others ask what The Traveler is, and she explains that it is sort of like a deity that takes on many forms. She could even possibly be The Traveler.

Jester: “I worship him, sure. He’s more like my best friend.”

Fjord and Beau point out the reasons why Shakäste probably wasn’t The Traveler.

Caleb has stayed silent and morose since they have returned to Alfield. Nott asks if he’s all right. He reflects on his actions and the results of him taking a life.

Caleb: “He was burned alive in front of me.”

Beau: “Yeah, but you did that though.”

Caleb: “I am well aware that I killed a person. I have nothing else to say. Why is everyone looking at me?”

The others explain that they were simply worries and make sure again that he’s all right. He says that he has killed people before, but not like that. Molly suggests they get drunk on something expensive and listen to the stories of the people they just saved.

Fjord begins to look through their loot they gathered. Beau slips on the goggles they took off of the cultist. She looks around and can see clearly in the dark. Caleb tells her to look over to him.

Caleb: “You look like a nerd.”

Nott covers herself and asks if Beau can see through her clothes. Beau asks Nott if she wants her to see through clothing. Nott nervously says no. Beau tells her goblin friend that she cannot see through clothes.

Fjord asks Caleb to cast identify on a silver ring with a blue gem that Jester has been eyeing. He borrows a pearl from a ring Nott stole earlier and attempts to cast the spell. Caleb pulls out his books and sets it on the floor. The others suggest they find a bar to go to instead. They head back to the Feed And Mead.

The excited crowd follows them back to the bar. The thankful villagers pay for their drinks for the night.

Caleb makes sure Nott’s ears are tucked into her hood. He tells her to have fun. She asks again if he’s all right. He tells her that he didn’t see anything other than a person burning to death.

Molly redistributes a silver piece into anyone’s pocket who pays for their drinks. Nott uses the opportunity to refill her flask.

Caleb sits down to prepare his ritual. Jester sits down next to him and watches intently. He narrates what he’s doing to her upon her request, and, while he’s looking away, she draws a dick in his book. He discovers that the ring is used to help its wearer walk on water.

He notices the drawing in his book and assumes it was Nott.

Caleb then goes to identify the wand they discovered. Upon discovering what the wand does, he tries to stow it away from Jester. She promises that unless it makes donuts or pickles, she won’t try to steal it. Caleb pulls it out and waves it at Jester. Nothing happens. Caleb tells her that it’s just a stick.

Caleb examines more items that have no magical effect. He tells the others that they relieve stomach cramps.

Jester hands him a glaive. He explains that it is an exceptionally fine weapon. He tells them it’s magical and very painful if it hits. They decide to sell it once they get to Zadash.

Beau hands over the oven mitt she took from the priest. He examines it and then puts it away, despite Jester’s angry protests. To appease her, he tosses her the wand. She takes it and pokes Nott with it, discovering it is a wand of smiles.

Jester suddenly remembers that Frumpkin is gone. Caleb assures her that Frumpkin will be back tomorrow.

Beau prods Caleb to tell her what the oven mitt does. He tells her that it hurts people and he will only give it over if she trades her goggles for it. She does not want to trade and also points out that she is unable to use arcane items.  In frustration, he tells everyone that he will no longer take from the loot they gather on adventures.

Nott suggests they all thank Caleb for identifying their objects, and they all happily cheer. Fjord also thanks Nott for saving his life. Jester thanks Fjord for saving her with a healing potion.

Jester pokes Caleb with the wand in an attempt to make him smile.

At the end of the night, they go up to their rooms. Beau pays for their rooms, ordering another one as well. Before going to bed, Caleb strings the silver thread across the windows and door. He also performs the ritual to bring Frumpkin back. The cat jumps into his arms and begins to purr.

In her book, Jester draws different scenes with the gnolls and the manticores for The Traveler. She tells him that she hopes he is here with her even though she’s so far from home. She reassures him that he’s still her best friend. She feels warmth around her symbol of The Traveler. She knows that The Traveler is with her.

Next to Jester, Beau opens letters to the Baumbachs. The letters are mostly related to distribution. She does however, open a complaint letter from the purveyor of the Rotted Stump in Rexxentrum.

The fourth letter she opens is the most interesting. She reads it silently to herself.

Nott asks Caleb what was in the pouch she gave him. Until this point, Caleb did not realize that Nott had slipped him Shakäste’s pouch. He opens it up, finding gold and snacks. Nott spends the rest of the night making a vial of acid.

At the end of the night, they all go to bed.

The next morning, Beau shows Jester the letter she found. It is signed under the mysterious moniker of “The Gentleman.” There are other odd elements of the letter, including the reference to a false “signature rosé.” Jester points out that blood root, something mentioned in the letter, is poisonous.

They discuss intercepting the shipment, deciding to workshop the idea later.

The group heads to The Salt Trench Jail. There, they find Bryce and hand over the ears they collected. Jester hands over both the hyena and gnoll ears. Bryce is unable to tell the difference, and they hand her 570 gold pieces. She adds that they also brought back both and alive and dead citizens of Alfield. The group is paid for them as well.

Bryce asks what the group is called. They quickly discuss a name. Caleb announces that they are The Mighty Nein. Bryce asks where they are going next, and Jester answers that they are traveling to Zadash. They recommend the group ask for Claudia Sheed at The Leaky Tap Tavern.

The group is presented with another cart that “does not smell of blood and feces.”

Nott: “Yet.”

The cart is hooked up to two horses that they are free to take as well.

Jester asks for Starosta Kosh. Bryce offers to retrieve him. After a while, Bryce leads in Kosh. He thanks the group for their service. Jester asks for Kosh to write Fjord a letter of recommendation to the academy. He refuses, saying that they have already been paid for their service.

Jester smiles sweetly and mentions that it’s nice to see him again after 8 years. She mentions that her hair hasn’t changed and suggests that he change it.

Jester: “The Ruby of the Sea says hello.”

His face goes white. He agrees to write the letter but adds that it doesn’t guarantee his acceptance.

Molly turns to Jester.

Molly: “You may be my new hero.”

They ask Jester where they knew the starosta. She explains that he came to see her mother, The Ruby of the Sea. Fjord knows that The Ruby of the Sea is a courtesan at a famous brothel known for its socializing.  Fjord and Jester both tell the group who her mother is.

Nott asks Jester how it was to grow up in fame and fortune. Jester admits that she doesn’t know because she was mostly locked away in her room. She says that her painting was taught to her by her mother, but her powers and other abilities come from The Traveler.

The others ask if this is why she is looking for her father. She tells them that her parents were going to get married, then he left to set up their new home and never returned. Part of why she is searching for him is that she is no longer allowed to live in Nicodranis. She explains that she played a prank on a man seeing her mother. She changed her appearance to look like her mother, then she locked him outside naked except for one of her girdles.

This man was a lord and threatened to kill her. This caused her mother to send her away.

The starosta returns to them with the letter and sends them on their way.

As they load up the cart, Bryce thanks them again for their help. They hope that their paths cross again. Jester mentions to tell Yasha that they are on their way to Zadash.

As they get ready to leave, Beau asks Caleb if he has children. He says he doesn’t, but Beau isn’t sure if he’s telling the truth. He tells her that even though he travels with Nott and they are such different sizes, he is not her father. He says that, if anything, Nott is like a little sister to him.

Jester asks Nott how old she is. Nott says that she’s between six and nine (goblins don’t keep track), but she is of a child-bearing age. Caleb declares that today is Nott’s birthday. He says that today, she is a mighty nine.

They load into the cart, and make their way out of Alfield.

As the day progresses, three horses with crownsguard patrol the road. After sunset, they set up camp along the side of the road. They build a fire and go to sleep for the evening.

Caleb takes the first watch. Fjord takes the second. Beau takes the final watch. None of them see anything in the night.

In the morning, they gather their things and begin to travel again. They see a passing cart with personal belongings moving quickly. Beau and Jester whisper to one another, wondering if the group contains The Gentleman.

At the end of the day, they set up camp once more. Molly takes the first watch.

Unfortunately, Molly doesn’t notice the snapping of twigs around his sleeping friends during his watch. Caleb notices that the thread has been broken. He jolts up and sees nine figures around them.

They are in patchwork hide and leather armor. Cloths cover their faces. Some are holding crossbows while others have short swords. One of the figures presses his boot against Molly’ scimitars. He warns Molly to not attack, and he shoves a loaded crossbow up to the back of Molly’s skull.

Molly slowly walks over to their cart at the beckoning of the leader. He tells him to wake the others and place their valuables on the cart.

Caleb casts friends on the one threatening Molly. Caleb warns the bandits that the group is seeking help for their syphilis.

Caleb: “Extreme syphilis.”

Nott stands up and pretends to be very sick. Caleb begs the bandits to leave them alone, claiming that they are merely seeking medical help.

The bandits begin to rifle through their cart and uncover the manticore head. The bandits begin to panic. The Mighty Nein begins to act more and more sick to convince the bandits to simply run away.

The spell ends, and the bandit leader realizes what’s been happening.

Each group begins to attack the other.

Jester swings her spiritual weapon while Caleb shoots spells at the bandits. A ray of flames is released and hits the bandit leader, reducing him to ash. As he unleashes the flames, however, four crossbow bolts come flying at him. Beau tries to protect him from the crossbow bolts, but enough find their mark, causing Caleb to fall unconscious.

Molly casts a blood maledict, blinding one of the bandits. Fjord casts eldritch blast.

The two unharmed bandits call for the group to hold on. Molly grabs the glaive from the cart.

Jester rushes over to Caleb to heal him. Fjord warns them that syphilis is contagious.

The two bandits look at the ash remains of their leader and tell the group that they will be leaving. Jester tells the bandits to hand over everything on their cart. The bandits admit that they don’t have a cart, as they were planning on stealing one. Molly and Jester tell them that is a stupid plan.

Jester and Beau demand their clothes instead, but they refuse. Using charm person, Molly convinces them do what they say. They all begin pulling their armor and clothes off. The group notices that they look poor and dirty.

Caleb searches through the loot that survived the leader’s incineration. Nott sneaks over to their horses and shooes off five horses. She tries to bring the other four horses over to their camp.

The bandits begin to argue over who is the new leader. Molly suggests they figure it out by playing boulder, parchment, shears. One of the bandits wins, and Molly calls him forward. Molly reiterates to the bandit that they made bad decisions and should rethink their line of work.

Molly tells them to put their clothes back on, but to leave their weapons. He hands them each one gold piece. Molly warns them that this is the best case scenario for them. Jester reminds them that the money is all infected with syphilis.

Beau tells them to warn all their friends that no one fucks with The Mighty Nein.

Jester tells them that The Traveler is with them all forever and ever.

The bandits rush off, leaving the group.

Caleb begins to pull the bolts out of his torso. Jester tries to cover his wounds with her hand to stem the blood.

They settle back down for the night, distributing their new horses among them. Jester feeds her new horse donut crumbs. Jester announces angrily to the group that she’s out of money and pastries.

They rest for the remainder of the night.

They awake the next morning drenched from the freezing rain. Jester puts her cloak around her horse’s head.

They begin to travel once again. As they go, Caleb notices a neglected grave site off the side of the road. They approach the site. They see cracked tombstones and nature taking the area back over.

After clearing up some of the nature obscuring the graveyard, they find some names on the gravestones. They find a rusted helmet on the ground. Caleb recognizes the helmet as one from the Julus Dominion. Two centuries ago, they were taken over by the Dwendalian Empire. They suspect that the grave site is to honor the soldiers who fought at the end of the empire’s history.

They get back onto the road and travel further down the road in the rain.

They crest a large hill along the road. Below, they see the city of Zadash.

They pass through fields of crop workers, paying them no attention.

As they approach closer to the city, they see small farmsteads and homes among the tent cities and shacks.

Caleb scoops two fistfuls of mud into his pockets.

The crownsguard watch them as they pass into the city. They hear the sounds of the city through the rain.

Nott: “This place sucks. Too much water.”

A hunched older man comes up to them. He greets them and asks if he needs anyone to show the around the city. Beau asks how much, and he says it will be a mere 2 gold for a day’s work. He introduces himself as Ulysses Stanneris.

Ulysses suggests they travel to a small tunnel to get out of the rain. Jester asks what he has under his cloak. He opens it up, and he has tattered, but fine clothing.

Caleb casts friends on Ulysses and warns him to not fuck with The Mighty Nein. Ulysses asks only that they pay.

The group follow him down the road and to the right. He guides them underneath some arches. Ulysses pulls his hood back once they are out of the rain. He asks what he can help them with. Jester gives him a list of places, including a blacksmith and a place to sell magical goods. He directs them to a market and a shop called The Invulnerable Vagrant. Caleb asks him where to find a variety of books.

As they talk to Ulysses, they discover that he was once a more rich, prominent figure in Zadash. He ran a leather shop, but was eventually ousted. Ulysses looks up at the sky and says that the sun has set and his work day is over. They ask him where he’s staying, but they ask that purchase another day. Nott says that they will be staying at The Leaky Tap, and might purchase another day from him in the morning.

He leans in close to look at her, but she looks away. He tells her that he might. She announces that she has extreme syphilis.

He tells the group to enjoy their day and leaves them.

Beau, who has been in Zadash before, begins to lead the group to the shops that are still open. They wander through the large city in the rain. They go over to a large building of wood and velvet. Though it is still raining, the fabric remains untouched. Through the glass windows, they see a warm glow inside. They read a sign that says The Invulnerable Vagrant. Caleb, Nott, Jester, and Fjord go inside. Molly and Beau go to find mulled wine.

They open to the door to find that the inside of the store is very warm. Glass chambers containing candles float near the ceiling. There are three figures in the shop. Two are facing away, but one turns to look at them. They see a seven foot tall firbolg. He grins at the group.

Caleb goes up to them. He begins to ask for fine inks, but the firbolg interrupts him, respectfully stating that he is too filthy for the store. The firbolg waves his hand, and the filth disappears from his clothes and body.

Nott begins to yell, demanding to know what he did to her friend. The firbolg smiles and pats her on the head. Jester announces that Caleb is now beautiful.

The two other figures turn around, and the group sees that it is the exact same person. They all say hello to the adventurers.

Jester excitedly invokes duplicity. The firbolg shakes her hand, and goes to shake the hand of her duplicate, but it passes through the illusion.

The three firbolgs introduce themself as Enchanter Pumat Sol.

They inform the group that the fourth Pumat Sol is in the back. They explain that they are magically manifested duplicates created to aid him in his work.

One of the Pumat Sols begins to gather ink while the other gather some parchment. They talk to Caleb about the type of ink that will be best for scribing and wizardry.

Fjord and Nott buy healing potions.

Jester hands over the glaive they acquired. Pumat Sol begins to examine it.

Caleb hands over all of his money in exchange for the ink and parchment.

Pumat Sol examines the glaive. He explains that it seems like a good ceremonial piece, but the design is garish and bad. He asks if they are looking to sell or trade. Jester takes a ribbon from around her horn and ties it around the glaive. Pumat Sol looks at it, and admits he does like it more now. He slightly bumps up his offering price.

Jester asks if they have anything to trade that can hold a lot of donuts and other heavy things. He offers them a bag of holding in exchange for the glaive (with the ribbon) and 200 additional gold pieces.

Jester asks, if they make the deal, if they can get an additional healing potion. Pumat Sol considers it, but says that since they do not know one another, he is going to keep the deal as it is. Knowing that her mother will be sending her thousands of gold more, Jester accepts the deal. However, she asks that the bag be made prettier before the deal is finished. Pumat Sol summons the original Pumat Sol. He asks Jester her favorite color, and she happily responds that it is pink. He casts and spell, and the bag turns pink. Jester cries out in happiness and pays for the bag.

Pumat Sol wishes them a good day and tells them to come back whenever they have the gold.

Beau and Molly spent the time the others are in the store buying hot mulled wine and pastries for Jester.

They eat the baked goods as they walk through the city. The rain lets up a bit as they make their way through the streets, weaving through horses and wagons. Eventually, they find The Leaky Tap. They step inside.

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.

Fiona L.F. Kelly (@FionaLFKelly)
Fiona L.F. Kelly is a writer, editor, and podcaster. She has published numerous articles about all things gaming and pop culture on websites all across the internet, was also a writer for Trinity Continuum: Aberrant 2e, and has been published in books and magazines. She is an editor for the pop culture and media website GeekGals.co. In addition to her writing and editing, she has also been a guest and host on several podcasts. She hosts the Project Derailed podcast Big Streaming Pile, produces and performs on Fables Around the Table, and plays the githyanki pirate Rav’nys on Tales of the Voidfarer. Buy her a coffee: ko-fi.com/fionalfkelly

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