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Critical Role Recap: Episode 87 – “Onward to Vesrah”

SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 87 (obviously).  Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
My recap of Episode 86 can be found here.

Vox Machina sails on the high seas on the Drensala Vis.

Previously on Critical Role

After meeting their new companion, Vox Machina returned Ripley’s hand to the Scarbearers. Then, they returned to Whitestone to discuss their next move. While in Whitestone, they attacked Taryon, their new companion, in order to prepare him for the battles that lay ahead. Tary, not used to this much conflict, managed to hold his own in battle, but eventually broke down, admitting that he was not a real hero. The party was moved by his open display of emotion and honesty, and agreed to let him travel with them for the remainder of their journey. They traveled to Emon to charter a ship to take them to the Water Ashari.


Several days have past since setting sail from Emon.

Since that time, Keyleth has been studying alchemy to prepare for the next leg of her aramente. Percy has been sketching. Vax follows Grog around, missing both Pike and Scanlan. They play boulder parchment shears and tell stories. Vex, nauseated by the rocking of the ship, flies around on her broom. Tary casts spells into his coins and does push-ups. He also meets up with Percy to exhange tinkering notes.

As Vex flies around the ship, she notices a dark spot on the horizon. She swoops down to inform Captain Adella. Adella pulls out a large scroll and sets it on a table, examining it for any sign of what the speck on the horizon could be. She then pulls out her spyglass and scans the horizon, seeing nothing.

Vex borrows the spyglass and flies up, getting a better vantage point. She looks again, seeing nothing.

Vex: “Well, it went underwater, whatever it was. Does that mean it was big enough to be some sort of a sea monster. Was it a sea monster?”

Adella: “I hope it wasn’t, whatever it was.”

Adella commands her crew to man the ballistas, in case whatever Vex saw comes back.

Meanwhile, Grog stands at the bow of the ship. He looks out and sees endless ocean. He tries to see if there’s a figurehead of a nude woman on the front of the ship, but he can’t see.

Keyleth goes up to a deckhand and awkwardly asks if they need help. She explains that she can magically create wind to help the ship sail forward.

Deckhand: “Um, I’ve got it, but thank you.”

Keyleth: “Okay, because I can like… You’re doing great! Good work!”

Percy heads up to the crow’s nest with Bad News. Looking out, he sees nothing out of the ordinary.

Tary heads up to the deck as well.

Percy, through the earrings, suggests Keyleth ask Adella if she would be interested in Keyleth’s help magically propelling the ship forward. Adella agrees, and Keyleth casts gust of wind for one minute, moving them forward. Adella gives Keyleth an approving nod.

Up on the deck, Tary dictates to Doty.

Tary: “With efficiency and an effective leadership role model for everyone, the redhead continues to propel us forward faster and faster to everyone’s surprise and respect, including the captain. The salt licks my nose and the sweet smell of adventure is in the air. I know that, with her on our side, we will be strong, and we will be protected. End of chapter.”

The next hour passes without any sign of what Vex saw before.

Vax goes up to Grog, upset that Grog left their game of hide and seek.

Grog: “Sorry. I just get so distracted. Did someone find you?”

Vax: “No! I just woke up in a barrell. I don’t even know what time it is–”

Grog: “Found you.”

Vax: “Touche.”

Grog asks Vax if he can climb onto the front of the ship to see if the figurehead is a naked woman. Vax agrees and climbs down off the bow.

As he climbs down, he sees a pair of wooden hands clasped onto the front of the ship. He reaches down to feel for any sign of breasts on the figurehead. He finds a smooth chest and a bulge.

Grog: “Whatchu got down there?”

Vax: “Oh, she’s a beaut, Grog. I wish you could see her.”

Grog: “Really? Describe her to me in vivid detail.”

Vax describes the figure to Grog as athletic and hearty with “curves in all the right places.” He adds that he thinks the figurehead is Grog’s type.

Grog: “How many breasts? Please say three.”

Vax: “It’s one good chest here. You know what? I’ll draw you a picture.”

Vax tries to climb back up the bow of the ship, but loses his footing. From above, Grog hears a splash into the water.

He looks over the side of the ship for his half-elf friend, but sees nothing. He gets on the magical earrings.

Grog: “I think Vax may have fallen overboard.”

Keyleth questions Grog. He explains that he heard the same sound his poops make when they hit the water.

Vex flies over to the side of the ship, and sees Vex, soaking wet, climbing back up the ship using his daggers.

Vax: “This is the best this armor has smelled in weeks. I love the ocean!”

Vax climbs up onto the deck. Vex flies back to the crow’s nest with Percy. Keyleth druidcrafts some wind to help dry Vax off.

Two hours later, Vex and Percy spot a fog coming closer to the ship. Keyleth sees it too, noticing that it seems to be a magnified version of the fogcloud spell. The party feels the ship turn as Adella tries to steer around the fog.

Tary offers his service communicating in semaphore, a technique that uses flags to send messages. No one thinks this will be helpful. Regardless, Grog suggests he do that at the front of the ship.

Keyleth suggests to Adella that this fog could be concealing Vesrah, their destination and home of the Water Ashari. Adella looks more closely at it, but also says that she calculated they were still a day and a half out from Vesrah.

Another shiphand climbs up to the crow’s nest. Vex flies out on her broom to make room for him.

The ship continues closer to the fog cloud. Adella calls out that they’re going in and for everyone to ready themselves.

As the ship goes the fog cloud, their visibility is immediately cut by the thickness of the cloud.

Tary gives Grog a coin.

Tary: “Listen, if things get hairy, you may want to use this.”

Grog: “Use what? I can’t see you.”

Keyleth uses another gust of wind to clear the fog from the ship and from the path in front of them. It helps somewhat, but she is unable to clear all of the fog. She announces over the earring that she is going to go into the water to investigate. She swan dives off the ship, giving herself gills and fins on her hands before hitting the water.

Tary, seeing this, hands the coin to Grog, explaining that the coin will make him fly, and jumps off the ship after Keyleth. He also gives himself gills and fins.

Tary swims after Keyleth, slightly impeded by the weight of his armor. They see a conclave displacement of water on the surface, but they don’t see anything visible causing it.

Back on the ship, the party hears blasts as two grappling hooks grab onto the ship. The chains behind them go taught. The ballistas on the ship point out into the fog in the direction of the chains from the grappling hooks.

Grog goes over to one of the hooks. He reports back to the party over the earrings.

Grog: “Good news: no sea monster. Bad news: giant hooks with chains that lead to no where.”

Vex instructs Grog to pull the hooks off the ship. He tries, but is unable to remove them. Trinket runs up next to Grog.

Keyleth, still in the water, follows the chains. Finally able to see what is there, she sees a small, compact ship, armored with iron plates from all sides. She also sees two glowing crystals, which she deduces are what’s causing the fog.

She and Tary both grab onto the ship as it passes. Tary manages to hold on, but the boards Keyleth is holding onto give under her weight, ripping from the side of the ship. Tary nervously reassures himself that Keyleth will be fine.

Keyleth quickly looks for ship cleats. She quickly swims up to the ship and casts thornwhip to grab onto the ship. The vine pulls her up towards the ship. She calls out for Tary as she swings past him.

Tary: “Grab my hero’s hand!”

Keyleth: “Tary! I want to apologize in this moment because I am a damsel, and I am in distress. So cross it off, bitch!”

They grab each other’s hands. Tary manages to hold onto both the ship and Keyleth, successfully saving a damsel in distress. Keyleth gets a hold onto the ship, no longer needing Tary’s help.

Tary: “I was amazing.”

He turns his head and throws up into the ocean.

Keyleth warns the rest of the party over the earrings of the incoming ship.

A wave crashes against the Drensala Vis, splashing water up onto the deck. The water then forms into a water elemental. The water elemental attacks Grog, hitting twice.

Vex and Percy fly over to the crow’s nest of the other ship. They see three deckhands surrounding another humanoid creature with a fish head, dressed in fine silks.

Vex shoots a brambleshot at the creature. Unfortunately, she misses. She casts her hunter’s mark. She looses a second shot, both hitting and restraining the creature.

Vax uses assassinate on one of the enemies who made it onto the ship. He hits and drives his blade into the enemy’s neck. As he pulls it out, the enemy falls over, dead. Vax moves behind Trinket.

Percy looks around for the cause of the fog. He sees a glow on the starboard side of the ship. He notifies the others through the earrings.

He drops down from the broom, grabbing a rope to control his fall. He fires two shots, hitting two of the deckhands climbing the chain to the Drensala Vis. The shot connects and also causes both to lose their footing and fall into the ocean.

Percy uses his final shot to fire at the captain of the ship. It hits successfully, but the captain is still up.

The water elemental gets sea water into Grog’s eyes. He is made furious by this and goes into a rage. He attacks the water elemental with reckless attacks.

Keyleth shouts out from below the deck, asking the enemy ship if they are Water Ashari. They attack her and Tary. Keyleth quickly realizes that they are not Water Ashari.

She continues to climb up the ship through the attacks. She sees a hostage tied up.

Keyleth: “Guys! Real pirates!”

She begins the process of sinking the ship using control water.

The Drensala Vis fires their ballista into the enemy ship, further damaging it. The crew rushes onto the enemy ship to join the fray.

Tary climbs onto the deck and shouts to Doty to remove the grappling hooks. He then throws a vial of acid at the enemy ship’s captain.

Vax also attacks the captain with Whisper and a poisoned dagger.

Trinket attacks one of the pirates. He attempts to shove him off the ship, but the pirate catches himself before falling. Trinket roars and growls in his face.

Percy, still on the rope, tries to cut himself down and land on the deck by shooting both the rope he is holding and the captain, hopefully killing him.

However, Bad News misfires, injuring himself rather than the captain. He lets go of the rope and slams onto the deck. He lays prone in front of the captain.

Tary shows concern for Percy, his best friend. Keyleth grows jealous. Percy is her best friend.

Keyleth: “I’m sorry. Your best friend?”

Percy, still on the ground, fires two more shots at the captain. One hits.

Keyleth continues to flood the ship.

As the battle continues, the pirates make their way to Adella and begin attacking her.

Tary, still on the deck of the enemy ship, commands Doty again to remove the grappling hooks from the Drensala Vis. This time, Doty succeeds.

Tary then casts haste on himself and goes for the captain. He uses his ring of the ram to critically hit the captain.

The ring hits the captain with such a force that he is thrown from the ship and parts of him scatter all through the ocean.

However, Taryon is also knocked off the ship from the forceful kickback.

Taryon, now in the ocean, watches the ships sail away from him. He also notices pirates in the water.

Vax pulls Taryon from the water. He casts divine sense to detect if Tary is a demon.

Vex looses more arrows towards the elemental. Trinket continues to attack pirates, killing one.

Percy also begins to attack the elemental, He uses Cabal’s Ruin in addition to his normal damage. This kills the elemental.

The battle, for the most part, is over. No enemies remain on either ship. Some pirates still swim alive in the water, however.

Percy attempts to move the magical gems creating the fog. He feels something pop in his shoulder.

Grog easily removes the second hook from the Drensala Vis.

The pirate ship begins to capsize. Keyleth uses control water to bring loot up from below the deck. She brings up some furniture and a few weapons.

Keyleth: “Aww. These were lame pirates.”

The party quickly goes to the sinking ship to loot. The ship is falling apart and will completely sink in the next minute. Keyleth tries to use control water to keep the ship together, but it only delays the inevitable.

Percy grabs papers and keys from the captain’s quarters. Grog easily pulls out the magical gems, much to Percy’s chagrin. He asks the party what to do with the gem.

Assured that he should not throw it in the water, he leaps from the pirate ship back to the Drensala Vis. He ignores the fact that Taryon had earlier given him a coin that he could use to fly.

Percy looks below deck for other bodies. All he finds are water-logged books.

He tries to go further below deck. Keyleth parts a path in the water for him. The ship lists back. Everything begins to shift backwards. Crates come falling towards Keyleth and Vex. They both manage to dodge the debris. He tells them both to leave.

He sees a humanoid figure in a cage. The figure is slumped over. He fumbles through the keys as water pours into the room. He can’t find the key. He runs out. Keyleth sends Vax in instead. He attempts to pick the lock.

Percy and Keyleth begin sliding off the ship. She cannot break her concentration or else Vax will be submerged in water. Percy catches her before she falls.

Vax successfully picks the lock. He pulls the figure out and rushes out of the room. Vex flies in to help him. Percy and Keyleth fall into the water, but see that the humanoid was saved by the twins.

Keyleth drops control water and uses alter self to give herself gills and fins again. She grabs Percy and swims back to the surface. The twins make it back to the ship with the humanoid.

Meanwhile, Taryon walks around the Drensala Vis asking for towels so his armor won’t rust. The crew ignores him.

The fog has begun to dissipate, and the ship continues on its path.

They go to treat the prisoner. They see now that he is a man in his 30s. He has scars all over his body, and he is drowned.

Keyleth, in the final moments of control water, pulls water from his lungs. His throat opens up and he takes a breath, coughing up the remainders of the water.

Vax casts lay on hands on the prisoner. Vex, not to be outdone, casts cure wounds. The prisoner is conscious, and very confused about what happened. Vex is suspicious of the prisoner.

The prisoner explains that his name is Tempest Fang, and he was bringing a shipment to Emon when the pirate ship attacked. He explains that he was the only survivor from his ship. The other prisoners, he explains, died along the way. He tells the he was transporting general goods and a few valuable textiles.

Vax and Percy are both suspicious of this. They don’t quite believe that this is what he was transporting. Percy also wonders why he was kept alive. He sees that Tempest has tattoos. He tries to remember if any of the symbols have any meaning on the high seas. He notices that the placement of the tattoos are clearly meant to intimidate others.

Tary wants to interrogate the prisoner with harsher methods. He suggests Grog squeeze the prisoner until he talks. The rest of the party vetos this, saying Grog will just accidentally kill him.

Tempest asks to be dropped off at the nearest port.

Grog tells Tempest that they are performers. To back up his claim, Vax does splits, Keyleth casts a magical fire on her hands and waves them around, and Trinket dances a bit.

Taryon is unsatisfied with this interrogation.

Tary: “Percy, am I misreading this scenario here? Can we just pour acid on him until he talks to us?”

Percy: “We don’t pour acid on people. Well, that’s not true. That’s a lie. We don’t just pour acid on people. I feel like that’s reasonable to say. There’s usually context involved.”

He assures Tary that, if they are going to pour acid on someone, that he will be involved.

They will not be stopping before Vesrah. They decide to just throw Tempest in the brig.

When Tempest leaves, Adella informs the party that Tempest is part of one of 18 companies working out of the Archipelago. She suspects that one of the ships they sunk was part of another company.

Captain Adella informs everyone that the ship is fine, but repairs will need to be made at Vesrah.

They examine the maps they pulled off the ship. Most of them are maps. However, many of them are waterlogged and damaged. Though they are often still readable. They pull a scroll out of one of the leather containers Percy grabbed. Tary identifies it as a scroll of programmed illusion.

Tary takes the scroll, as he is the only arcane caster. Grog adds in that he is also a powerful wizard and pulls out the gem from the pirate ship. Taryon informs the group that it can generate fog for up to an hour. Grog suggests installing it in Doty, but Tary insists that there isn’t room. Grog puts it back in the bag of holding.

That night, Grog keeps the guards on the ship company. Percy and Tary tinker with Tary’s helmet. They attempt to create housing to create a concentrated beam for the opals in this helm. This would create a flashlight effect. They successfully finish the project by the end of the night.

Keyleth and Vax spend the night together. He consoles her as she tells him her worries about Tary replacing her as Percy’s best friend. Through the wall, they hear raucous laughter from Percy and Tary.

Vex barges into the room with Tary and Percy. Tary uses the daylight spell to blind her with their new invention. She is impressed, but still orders Tary out of the room.

She talks to Percy about Scanlan. She points out that he heard Pike and Kaylie, but she admits that she heard nothing when she was brought back. She asks him if he heard anything. He tells her that he did know that everything would soon be gone. He adds that this has motivated him to live a long life.

Percy: “It was not pain without end. It felt like pain with an end because soon there would be nothing left of me. And yes, I heard. It was the only thing I heard.”

They discuss what has happened when they both died. He admits that the death with Raishan was so quick he doesn’t know what it means. He also wonders aloud where the people he kills go. He questions if it depends on them or him. He wonders if they will go to the same beast he was almost the victim to. He admits considering for a moment shooting someone, bringing them back, and asking them.

At the end of their conversation, Vex tells him he can go back to Tary. He says that they were done anyway.

The next day comes and goes, and as the sun sets, a crewman calls out that he sees land.

They carefully travel through a channel of reefs, but are eventually forced to stop 15 feet away from another reef.

Keyleth magically creates lights to signal to shore. Lights signal back to her. Keyleth, excited, leaps off the ship before the crew can prepare boats to make it to shore. She narrowly misses landing in a reef.

Grog gets into a boat. Trinket heads back into the necklace. Vax, Vex, and Percy all board the carpet and fly off towards shore. Taryon and Doty stay behind, waiting for another row boat.

Keyleth swims to shore. It’s a lagoon with white marble. The city spans between three islands. Large lamps light up the city.

A figure appears before Keyleth. He is a child, and introduces himself to Keyleth as Yulan, the Headmaster of the Water Ashari. The rest of the party joins them. He confirms that they are not there to do the Ashari harm before taking her into the city.

As they walk through the partially submerged city, Keyleth asks Yulan many questions.

Someone calls out for Yulan, he backs away from Keyleth and the rest of Vox Machina. Suddenly, water elementals surround them.

An elderly gnome woman steps forward. Keyleth identifies herself. The gnome introduces herself as the tribe watcher Uvenda. She tells Keyleth she knew her mother when she tried to complete her Aramente. She continues to say that Keyleth’s mother visited all of the tribes, but her Aramente was never completed. Keyleth does not understand what this means.

She warns Keyleth that the final leg of her Aramente will be the most dangerous. The stones that support the city, she explains, must be replaced. This task is deadly for all but the quickest. The load stones that support the city are excrement from the Kraken, a creature trapped in the water plane. The Water Ashari keep the beast from crossing into their plane.

The Kraken cannot be killed, but three load stones must be recovered and brought back to the Water Ashari people.

Keyleth asks again about her mother, Vilya. Uvenda does not give much away, but says that Vilya was a brave woman, like Keyleth. She says that Vilya’s lack of confidence and the death of her companions killed her. Though she also admits that the body was never found. Keyleth immediately comes to the conclusion that her mother may still be alive.

Uvenda: “Eat. Sleep. For tomorrow, you face the pet of the titans.”

To be continued…

Episode 88 – “Tangled Depths”

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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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