SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 104 (obviously). Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
Our recap of Episode 103 can be found here.
Vox Machina bargains with the gods.
Previously on Critical Role
Unable to stop the resurrection of Vecna, the party teleported to The Feywild without Vax, their fallen friend. Somewhere else, Vax finds his soul in the presence of The Raven Queen. She offers him life once more, but it will be taken from him when Vecna is defeated. She gives him the task of enlisting more gods to help stop Vecna’s ascension. He wakes up in the Feywild with a new body. Once they are sure that Vax’s return is a gift of the Raven Queen and not a trick, they start searching for ways to contact the gods. Pike contacts Sarenrae via prayer, who gives her a way to Elysium. When we last saw the party, they had just arrived on the shores of The Island of Renewal.
They stand on the shores of the Island of Renewal. Vex and Pike pick up a small handful of the pearls that make up the sands of the beach. They place their pearls in pouches.
Vax looks at the giant crystalline statue in the distance and sees the flaming heart of the statue. Scanlan wonders if they should have brought Delilah’s eye to this holy place. Vex advises that it’s too late now to question their decision. Pike pulls it out of the bag of holding and checks that it is still there. It rolls around in the box.
Grog tries to crush one of the pearls. To everyone’s astonishment, it holds against the force. In this time, he also notices that, though it is daytime and there is a clear blue sky, there is no sun or clear source of light.
Before they head off to the tower, Keyleth tells them all how sincerely happy she is to be in this holy place with her friends. She thanks Pike for her connection to Sarenrae. They all feel themselves get a little stronger.
They head towards the tower. The hills get higher and higher as they approach it. As they walk, they see crooked obelisks jutting out from the ground. The trees thin out to reveal more stone structures towards the center of the island.
Still, they notice that they never seem to get any closer to the tower.
Pike pulls out the metal that brought them to this place.
Pike: “Sarenrae, we’ve traveled very far, and we are here. If you can give us any guidance to get closer to you, I would be forever grateful.”
She receives no response. She says this again, except in her head. Still, there is no response.
Scanlan asks if Sarenrae invited just Pike or all of Vox Machina. Pike admits that she doesn’t know. He suggests that she travel alone for a while.
As she moves forward, the others notice that she is not making any progress towards the tower.
They decide to change strategies. Pike and Vex stand still and close their eyes. They imagine being closer to the tower. Grog closes his eyes and begins to walk in a direction. Keyleth, eyes open, walks in the opposite direction of the tower.
With her eyes closed, Pike begins to see a burning beacon. She keeps her eyes closed, but walks towards the beacon. The heat gets warmer as she approaches. When she finally opens her eyes, she is in front of the tower.
She calls back to the others, they open their eyes, surprised to see that Pike is now in front of the structure.
Scanlan pulls out his symbol of Sarenrae. He closes his eyes and squeezes it in his hand, meditating on his newfound religion. After about a minute, a light, much fainter than the light Pike saw, appears in the darkness. He begins to approach. Percy follows after him.
The others wonder what they need to do to also follow the path to the tower. Vax notes that the pantheon of gods is an established fact, so they all technically believe. Still, there is a deeper reverence required.
Vax has Keyleth focus on the warm feeling she gets when she thinks of Pike. They both close their eyes, thinking about Pike and getting nowhere.
Pike walks back to the others. She has them all grab hands and she leads them to the tower. Within minutes, they arrive.
They see a domed doorway and a giant bonfire burning inside. As they get closer, the temperature increases, but they never feel pain from it. The flames flare rhythmically, as if it were a heartbeat.
Something in the flames takes shape. Two large wings open up from within. A fifteen foot tall Sarenrae emerges from the flames. She smiles down at them.
Sarenrae: “My Pike, you’ve come to me after all this time. Such a beacon in a very dark world. Welcome.”
Pike kneels down and thanks her for meeting with them. Sarenrae asks why they have disappeared from her sight. She says that the sands have told her of darkness in this time. Vox Machina tells her that they attempted to defeat Vecna, but they were unsuccessful.
They explain that he is a demi-god currently, but his goal is ascension. She sighs.
Sarenrae: “The ritual of seeding is one of the Matron of Raven’s design. It is the secret rite that rebirthed her from her trials and granted her the power to take her place among the prime gods and become custodian to the realms between life and death, fate, and the cold of winter. But this ritual was summarily cast from all knowledge and sealed–intent for eternity–by all who walk the paths of divinity. None should know this.”
She explains that, in order to stop Vecna, they would have to tear down the divine gate, which brings its own risks. She tells them that they must seal him away. She advises to speak to Pelor, who was more active during the Calamity when the other gods were sealed away.
Sarenrae praises Pike for her deeds and spreading light to Exandria. She also tells Scanlan that she heard his prayers as well. He is amazed and asks her to keep his prayers secret.
She asks Pike is Vecna is truly beyond redemption. Pike says that she always hopes there is a possibility of redemption, but it doesn’t seem likely here.
They ask how long the ritual will take. Sarenrae admits that she doesn’t know. She warns them that they will all know when it is complete. She advises again to speak to Pelor and Ioun.
Sarenrae takes Pike in her hand, and extends up towards the sky. They look out onto the island. She tells Pike that she is not alone, for her pearl sand speaks to her. The pearls, Pike now knows, are souls living under Sarenrae’s light.
The heat and flames from the fire flares outwards, like a phoenix. The flames engulf Pike. Divine wings appear. Sarenrae grants Pike the Blessing of the Everlight.
When Pike and Sarenrae return to the others, Vex apologizes for not paying Sarenrae the correct reverence. Sarenrae dismisses her apologies, explaining that worship is something that they are free to do or not to do.
Vex and Pike, now knowing what the pearls from the beach truly are, sheepishly offer them back to Sarenrae. She smiles, and they fly back to their places on the beach.
Grog stares at Sarenrae. He takes in how beautiful she is in awe. He sees her as she is: a powerful, feminine form. He decides to keep his pearl he’s been trying to crush.
Sarenrae tells them that they must hurry in their task. She sends them to Pelor, the Dawnfather.
They find themselves in a vast orchard, surrounded by fruit-bearing trees. The sky they see above them through the trees is clear and bright. Keyleth climbs a tree to see if the sky is lit by the same ever-present light from the Island of Renewal. She sees mountains in the distance. Though there is no sun in the sky, she sees a pillar of light emerging from a great fortress. Keyleth calls down to them that Pelor isn’t messing around.
Vex warns the others to not eat the fruit. She speculates that they may be souls.
Grog: “No. It’s fruit. Souls don’t grow on trees.”
Grog finds a plum-like fruit. Vex threatens him again to not eat it. He asks the fruit if it is a person. They pretend that the fruit is speaking to them so Grog will not eat it. Though Grog doesn’t believe them, he agrees to wait to see what Pelor says on Pike’s insistence.
They then see souls wandering through the orchard. The entities reach out and pick the fruit to gather into baskets.
Vex leads the party as they approach the fortress. Keyleth searches for another Sun Tree. The orchard grows thicker and wilder as they journey. They are approaching, but it is a long trek.
Finally, they find the edge of the treeline. They are nearly blinded by the light emanating from the fortress. The tower looms 20 stories in the air. It is surrounded by hundreds of figures. Several Sun Trees are in the light.
They notice through the stained glass windows that there is a brighter light within the fortress.
Keyleth approaches one of the trees. She asks if it knows the Sun Tree in Whitestone. The tree is not nearly as chill as her Sun Tree. It is offended by her question, proclaiming that not all Sun Trees know each other. He refuses her offer of a hug, and Keyleth walks away, dejected.
Several armored celestial beings land in front of the party. They demand to know the party’s business.
Guard: “You who approaches the fortress, what is your business here?”
Vex explains that Sarenrae sent them. She says that there is a growing evil that Pelor would be interested in stopping. The celestial guards look them over. They announce that there is no evil among them, and they let them through, escorting them into the fortress.
When they enter, they see the brightness of the inside of the fortress. The walls themselves emit light, eliminating all shadows. They reach a pair of massive double doors. They open to reveal a blinding light. Within the room in a 20 foot throne made of gems and precious metals sits Pelor, the Dawnfather. His head is a bright star made of nearly blinding light. They can faintly see the features of a face through the light, though it hurts to look for too long. He calls out to them.
He asks their purpose. They explain that Vecna has returned and they seek to defeat him. He thanks them for their information, assuring them that he will consider a strategy, and dismisses them. Vex extends their interaction, telling him that they have the Eye of Vecna.
Pelor asks for the eye. Pike hands over the box. He opens it. The eye rolls away, trying to shield itself from the massive brightness. He tells them that its existence is a threat, but he refrains from destroying it, asking if they need it for something else.
They confer among themselves, and they decide to destroy it.
They ask about Ioun. He says that he knows where she is, but her location is being kept secret.
Pelor tells them that he will not waste his resources if they are likely to fail. They ask how they can prove themselves further. He tells them that none of them are his followers. Keyleth quickly offers to be his champion.
Keyleth: “Faith, I still don’t know that I have, but I believe that you could teach me.”
He asks if anyone would challenge her words. Vex offers herself instead.
Pelor: “You step forth with the growing bud of faith. That befits a champion.”
He orders Vex to kneel before him.
Pelor: “You will accept my trial, brave soul. You and your allies must ascend the Tower of the Zenith. Lady Vex’ahlia, you must reach the top of the hour, before this time runs thin.”
Two hourglasses appear in the air.
Pelor: “Ascend to the Zenith. Embrace your faith and throw yourself in the fires of Dawn. Should you be strong of heart and your faith be true, the flames will grant you your blessing.”
He tells her that her friends may assist her, but that the trial will begin immediately. Three celestial guards appear in the room, flying above them, ready to stop the ascension.
Vex clicks her boots of haste and Scanlan polymorphs her into a red dragon. Before she transforms, she tosses Scanlan her broom. Grog enlarges himself and rages. Percy begins to shoot at the wings of the guards, causing them to fall from the air. He climbs the walls using his boots of spiderclimb.
Grog and Pike, unable to fly scramble onto the flying carpet. Keyleth throws a flaming sphere at the lower guards.
One of the guards grabs onto Vex as she flies up. He grabs her horn, slamming her into a wall. She slams back into the wall, trying to dislodge him. The broken stained glass in the windows quickly reforms.
As they ascend, the walls close, blocking their path if they do not travel fast enough. Their path ahead narrows. Vex ignores the guard on her back and simply flies as fast as she can. The guard takes the opportunity to throw her off-course again. He climbs onto her face and hits her in the eye.
He slows her down significantly. She rakes her claws down her face, throwing him off. As he falls, she rushes forward, finally reaching the brazier. She uses her momentum to dive into the fire. She hears the noise of a thousand windows shattering at once.
The flames transform her back into her normal form. Her eyes and mind are filled with divine light. She loses all sense of time and self. Her only thought is oblivion. Then, darkness and doubt creeps back into her mind. Was she strong enough? Did she fail?
Below, the chamber doors open, revealing to Vox Machina shards of stained glass suspended in place. They reform in their windows. The guards nod towards Pelor.
Pelor: “What does she mean to you?”
Keyleth responds first.
Keyleth: “I told you I was faithless, which might be true when it comes to the gods, but not with Vex’ahlia. Not with Vox Machina. She gives me my power.”
Pelor’s gaze shifts to Scanlan.
Scanlan: “Her name is Vex, and she is greedy and mean sometimes and she can steal a lot. She’s a little bit… not the greatest person. But her flaws highlight everything that is right about her. She does all of these things to protect her friends and her family. She would give her life for any of us, and anyone truly in need. She’s not perfect, but she’s the most perfect of all of us.”
Grog: “She believes in me. She tries to teach me to use my brain, which I don’t do very often. She tries to teach me to learn from the world, and she always cheers me on, which not a lot of people do. I believe in her.”
Pike: “I don’t have a real sister, but I consider her more of my sister than I ever had. She’s family, and if you take her from me, there will be hell to pay.”
Percy: “She is Mistress of the Grey Hunt of Whitestone, Baroness of the First House of Whitestone. She is my heart and my judgement, and the future that I have chosen. And she is the one that I have betrothed to.”
Finally to Vax.
Vax: “She is every hope I have. When I am gone, she will make the world bright. She has the intelligence and the savviness and the heart to make real-world decisions. She is me, but better. She is your champion.”
Pelor: “Then there is hope.”
In the center of the chamber, a flash of light. Reborn, hair scattered back, intact, but eyes closed, Vex’ahlia emerges. She breathes in and opens her eyes. She looks around and sees Vox Machina. Behind her is Pelor. She stares back at the god, but the brightness no longer hurts her eyes. She sees the features and smile on the face of The Dawnfather. There is hope. She receives The Blessing of the Dawnfather.
She thanks Pelor for the divine opportunity.
Pelor: “If what you say is true, then we are too late to prevent this ascension. Know that killing a god is beyond even most deities. To destroy is to diminish one low enough to seal them away for eternity, as I have done once before.”
He tells them that Ioun has the knowledge of a Prime Trammel, an artifact to seal away gods. The key to her hidden realm is within someone. The last communication with her gave him an idea of where this key is.
He magically presents a three-dimensional map topographical map. Keyleth and Scanlan recognize that this area is near Cliffkeep, north of Kraghammer.
He offers Vex a bead of bright light from behind his ear. In her hand, it appears opal-like. He tells them to strike soon. The doors behind them open, and they leave.
Grog reaches into his pocket to find his own treasure from the Island of Renewal. It is not there. Grog realizes that Sarenrae took it without him noticing.
The guards nod towards them as they leave, in respect of Vex’ahlia. As they leave, they consider the task before them.
They hope there is still enough time.
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.