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Critical Role Recap: Episode 89 – “Curious Tides”

SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 88 (obviously).  Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
My recap of Episode 88 can be found here.

Vox Machina deals with the aftermath of Keyleth’s Aramente, and Taryon learns the names of the other party members.

Previously on Critical Role

Vox Machina attempted to steal lode stones from the Kraken in order to complete Keyleth’s Aramente. The Kraken noticed their presence and began to attack. However, in order to ensure that lode stones could be collected in the future, the party was explicitly told that the Kraken cannot be killed during this task. They tried their best to defend themselves from the ongoing attacks, but, unfortunately, Vax perished, unable to survive the continued swallowing and beating from the beast. The rest of the party barely made it out of the battle with their lives, but they managed to collect all three lode stones.


During the battle, Vax felt his vision fade into nothingness, and the cold water surrounding him suddenly turn into warmth. He recognizes this feeling. It is similar to his experience when he first met the Raven Queen. Looking below him, he sees the Raven Queen’s mask. It rises to meet him, shrinking in size as it gets closer.

Raven Queen: “My champion, it seems that you have stepped to return to me, but what is your destined thread to be?”

Later, Grog leaps through the portal, the last of Vox Machina to escape from the Kraken.

The Kraken’s beak tries to snap at them through the portal. It reaches a tentacle through to grab at the Ashari on the other side. The Ashari begin to shout and put the lode stones back into place to prevent the Kraken from coming through. The Kraken moves so it can look through the portal. One giant eyeball watches them.

As they begin to leave the area, Grog decides to take one final swing at the Kraken. He throws his hammer at the Kraken’s eye. It connects, and the Kraken hurries away, now in pain.

Kraken: “I’m coming soon enough.”

The rift begins to close again as the Ashari workers shift the lode stones back into place.

Keyleth, Vex, and Vax, who planeshifted back onto the island land in shallow water near Vesrah. As they become more oriented to their surroundings, they quickly realize that Vax is dead. The two half-elf women take Vax’s body to find a Temple of the Raven Queen. Keyleth turns into a giant raven to transport them quickly.

Keyleth flies over to the central chamber where they first made their descent into the water. The guardians there are startled and make moves to attack, but Uvenda stops them. She informs the others that the raven is Keyleth. She asks how badly Vax is hurt. Vex informs her that she is dead.

Uvenda: “The Kraken claims another.”

Vex: “No. He won’t claim him.”

Uvenda says they have few options to bring him back, and his form may not be the same if he does return. Keyleth drops her form, leaving a pile of raven feathers. She asks Uvenda if another druid can help them travel quickly to Emon to have Pike perform the resurrection ritual. Uvenda informs her that there isn’t a way to travel, but there is a way to contact Pike.

She leaves to fetch the materials. In her absence, Keyleth and Vex check on the rest of the party over the earrings. Percy tells them that everyone else survived and they will rush back to the surface to meet them.

When Uvenda returns, she brings a conch shell. She tells Keyleth to think of the intended recipient and speak her message into the shell. Pike is guaranteed to hear the message, but it is up to her how she will respond.

Keyleth begins to gather feathers shed from her giant raven form. She makes a bed on which to lay Vax.

Meanwhile, Grog, Percy, and Tary emerge from the underwater corridor. They walk over to Doty. Doty shows them its many pages of notes he took on hostile birds and tides. Tary thanks Doty for his work. Exhausted from his first real adventure, he asks Doty to carry him the rest of the way. Doty obliges, picking him up bridal style.

They arrive as Vex and Keyleth lay Vax down onto the bed of feathers.

Tary quickly orders Doty to put him down.

Percy approaches Keyleth and Vex. He asks what options they have. Keyleth insists to him that Pike heard their call and will come to their aid. Vex tells him that she doesn’t care if Vax will be made different through a reincarnation spell; she just wants him back.

The servants in the room begin to prepare for a ritual. They hear thunder: first far away, but soon coming closer.

Suddenly, the thunder fills the room, and Pike’s astral form arrives with a crack of lightning.

They immediately bring Pike over to help Vax. She says that she thinks she can do the ritual in her astral form. They begin to set up the ritual.

Vex looks through Vax’s armor for some sort of message from The Raven Queen. She is unable to read the runes, but she finds a note in the armor. It has her name on it. She opens the note and reads “take these wings and fly.” She puts it back.

Vex brings the first offering to the ritual. She kneels next to her brother’s corpse. Taking the feathers from her own hair, she braids them into his. She tells him that he gave the feathers to her in a dark time in her life, and now she’s returning the favor.

Vex then begins to speak directly to The Raven Queen.

Vex: “I’m here today because of a bargain my brother made with you, so I know you like to make deals as much as I do. He traded his life. He became your champion, and you spared mine. And what a striking champion he is: long dark hair and a lively figure soaring over the land in raven feathers and a dark vestige. He’s so pious in your honor. Sent soul after soul to you. It would be a shame to give that up. Especially now. Especially now as Orcus builds his forces against you. The demon prince of the undead seeks to claim your throne. You know this as well as I. We just recently killed one of his loyal servants in the underdark before my brother ever came to your service. Imagine what he could do now. So this is the deal I make with you: you send him back–allow my brother to come home–and we will seek out Orcus. I will track him down. I will hunt him in whatever pit he resides, and we will destroy your enemy once and for all. What say you?”

One third of the circle vibrates to life. The light becomes a purplish blue color.

Keyleth makes the next offering. She props up Vex against her chest and whispers into his ear.

Keyleth: “I know you can hear me. I know you’re still in there, and I’m sure She can hear me too. Your sister is right. You’ve held up to your promise to Her, and you’ve made a promise to me. We have to settle down and live happily together, remember? You promised me Vesrah, so I want to give you a little bit of light to follow in the darkness.”

She finds the scar of her handprint on his back and casts daylight.

Keyleth: “Besides, you know I’m in love with you, right?”

The second portion of the glyph bursts to life. The daylight spell begins to dim in an unusual way. Keyleth keeps her hand pressed against his back.

They wait for the final person to make an offering. Taryon begins to offer, but he’s quickly turned down. Grog steps forward. He stands over Vax and Keyleth.

Grog: “I told you before: no one kills you but me.”

Grog thinks back to being with Vax in Greyskull Keep.

Grog: “I love you too.”

Grog slaps Vax as hard as he can.

The force of his slap knocks Vax out of Keyleth’s grasp and onto the ground. The final portion of the circle lights up.

A breeze blows cold air past them. Darkness surrounds them. A glowing thread emerges from Vax’s chest. A giant hand reaches out to grab the thread, and above them is the masked face of The Raven Queen.

His body lifts from Keyleth’s grasp as he dangles limply from the thread the Raven Queen pulls upwards.

Raven Queen: “My champion has learned much and has done great deeds in the service of fate, but there is still much to be done before my charge is complete in him.”

She drops the thread and disappears into the darkness. He falls down limply, but lands on his feet.

Raven Queen: “We shall meet again. Come find me when the time is right, and I call for you to meet me beyond the divine gate.”

The wings from Vax’s armor unfurl. His head falls back and he takes in a breath.

Now standing on his own, he pulls Keyleth and Vex towards him in an embrace. Seeing Pike, he presses her head against his and thanks her for the ritual. She kisses him on his forehead. Looking up from this, he sees the mask of The Raven Queen.

Raven Queen: “Soon. I’ll call for your purpose in time.”

She disappears again.

Uvenda tells the party that she is glad to see that the ritual was a success. Keyleth tells the party to show her their lode stones. Uvenda congratulates Keyleth on completing her Aramente. She begins to plan a celebration for that night.

Uvenda: “It’s all right. You’ve done well. And I’m sorry.”

Keyleth: “For what?”

Uvenda: “For a lot of things.”

She explains to Keyleth that the Aramente did not used to be as dangerous. Keyleth and her mother, she reveals, were the only two to have to complete their Aramente with the Kraken. They all react with shock. After conversing for a more moments, she leaves.

Now alone, Vax pulls the rest of the party (including Taryon) into a group hug.

Vax asks Tary how he fared during his first real battle. Percy interjects that Tary did well. Tary, reminded of his own bravery, tells Doty to take down his dictation of the battle. It is then that he notices that Doty has been facing the wrong way for the entirety of Vax’s resurrection, taking notes about the weather rather than the goddess that appeared before them.

Tary, frustrated, but unable to stay mad at Doty, begins a new dictation.

Tary: “Plagued by an incompetent plan and ambushed by a surprise from a Kraken, we nevertheless stayed true to ourselves and to our bravery, found the lode stones, and, despite nearly dying, came back to tell the tale, proving ourselves as heroes of Vesrah and to each other. I was aided by young Percival in my fight, abandoned by the antlers and elves, and by the end of the fight, it was just me and the big guy, duking it out. I blacked out for a moment, but before I did, I’m sure he saw my bravery and was impressed. That’s why he dragged me to safety and presented me to Percival for healing. That’s enough for now.”

Vex: “You forgot to mention the part where you vomited and blew our cover.”

Tary takes notice of Pike and reintroduces himself. They met briefly in Whitestone. Pike is surprised to see that he is still traveling with the party. Tary, in an awkward attempt to be formal, switches from common to gnome when speaking to Pike.

He tells her how he defeated the pirates while on the Drensala Vis and of their recent encounter with the Kraken. He mentions that she may even understand what he is talking about as she appears to be a magic user. He says this while gesturing to her astral form and the recent ritual she performed bringing the dead back to life. She responds that she “dabbles” in magic.

He then tries to put his hand through Pike as if she was a hologram. He quickly realizes that Pike’s astral form is not incorporeal.

Tary apologizes for his gnome accent. He explains that he learned the language through books and only met one other gnome who visited his family’s estate. Pike sarcastically tells him that all gnomes know each other and asks who it was. Tary explains that he didn’t catch the gnome’s name. the gnome, he explains, was part of a performing troupe hired to perform on New Year’s Eve. He said that the troupe stayed for a few days but were eventually run out due to an incident with a handmaiden. Pike immediately recognizes this as Scanlan.

Pike: “That sounds like somebody that I would love tremendously.”

Pike then begins to mislead Tary by telling him falsehoods about gnomes and gnome culture.

Tary: “I was planning on doing at least one chapter in my book about the smaller races, and that would be an excellent and fitting addendum.”

Pike: “You are just delightful.”

They all go to relax and rest on the beach.

When they get settled in, Keyleth announces to the group that she had Gilmore help make them thank you presents for assisting her during the Aramente. She pulls out dragon tooth necklaces. She explains that if any of the wearers go unconscious, the other wearers will be alerted. She passes out the necklaces to each of her friends. She realizes that the final one was meant for Scanlan, but instead they are leaving Tary without a necklace. Keyleth quickly druidcrafts a flower and gives it to Tary instead. He graciously accepts the last-minute gift.

As he stares at his flower, he feels Percy come up behind him. Percy places a sea shell crown atop Tary’s head.

Percy: “Long may he reign.”

After a quick consultation with Vex, Keyleth decides to let Tary temporarily wear the necklace while he is traveling with them. Tary, moved by the gift, drops to his knees.

He professes his gratitude for being initiated as a full-fledged member of Vox Machina. Everyone immediately begins to protest, as this was not what Keyleth meant, but Tary continues. He goes into a speech about his dedication to each member of the group, whose names he still does not know.

Doty, who has been recording the speech, begins to sketch Tary, who immediately poses with his crown, flower, and necklace. Trinket pees on Doty’s leg.

Percy pulls Keyleth aside and asks for more information about her Aramente. Keyleth admits that she was not told much about the process. Percy muses on what is Aramente is meant to teach. He admits to her that it occurred to him after Vax died that the point of the Aramente was to force its leaders to experience loss. She argues that the Ashari are not as barbaric as Percy seems to think. Percy tells her of a Whitestone tradition where young farm boys are tasked with naming and raising an animal before slaughtering it. He warns her of the ritual’s intentions.

Percy then goes over to Grog. He reluctantly admits that he put Grog in danger by magically compelling him to rescue Tary. He says he will accept his fate, whether it be Grog keeping his glasses or being punched in the face. Grog is confused by Percy’s explanation, but does remember being confused about why he decided to go back and save Tary. Percy continues to try to explain what happened to Grog and he fails. Eventually, Percy just gives Grog some shells and a skipping rock as compensation.

Vax pulls Vex aside and they play superman. He tells her that they are almost even since they have died, though Vex has died twice. He adds that they need a break after going to the Nine Hells. Vex stops playing and admits to him that part of bringing him back was promising the Raven Queen that they would hunt down Orcus. Vax is not mad at this, but sadly points out the similarities between himself and his sister.

They are interrupted by Grog, who has used his titanstone knuckles to skip the rock, which immediately shatters. They all clap and congratulate him.

As the sun sets, the celebration for Keyleth begins. Captain Adella and her crew joins in on the festivities.

Uvenda approaches Keyleth and takes her hands in hers.

Uvenda: “In completing your trial of the Water Ashari, I impart unto you now a gift. Something I–as far as I understand–have only been around long enough to learn. But seeing the strength that you hold, perhaps you can wield this as well.”

She instructs Keyleth to close her eyes. She explains that the form of those who have completed the Aramente become malleable. She leads Keyleth out of the pavilion into the city.The crowd follows, maintaining a distance.

She orders Keyleth to think of a great foe they have encountered. Keyleth imagines the goristro Yenk. Suddenly, a goristro stands where Keyleth once was. Uvenda explains that Keyleth can now become what she wishes. Keyleth becomes a beholder then an adult bronze dragon. She begins to do a victory lap flying around the city. She unleashes her fire breath ability into the air.

Keyleth lands and tells the others to climb on for a ride. Vax, Vex, and Pike all climb on. As they fly through the air, children begin to line up for their turn on dragon Keyleth. Grog pushes his way to the front of the line.

Keyleth spends the next hour giving joy rides to the people of Vesrah and her friends (mostly Grog). When she lands and drops the spell, Uvenda tells Keyleth to return victorious to her people.

Keyleth confronts Percy again. She tells him she isn’t surprised by his concern, but she feels that it is unwarranted in this case. He concedes that she may be correct.

Vax notices that his notes are out of place in his armor. He shoves them back into place.

Tary asks Grog if he has any notes for him after seeing him in battle. Grog suggests that he stay on the fringes of the battle and use more cool one-liners. He also says that he has a present for the artificer. He pulls a basilisk egg out of the bag of holding and gives it to Tary. He bluffs, saying that this will help Tary in battle if he eats it when close to death. Tary, unable to see past Grog’s deception, is excited about this powerful gift.

After Grog leaves, Pike approaches Tary. She asks if Doty can make some sketches for her. In gnome, he obliges her request. Pike asks for portraits of each member of Vox Machina.

As the party winds down, each member of Vox Machina goes to their rooms. However, during the night, each is woken by metallic sounds. They all see Doty peering into their windows and sketching them. This is done to everyone but Pike’s confusion, who realizes that she should have been more specific.

In the morning, they prepare to get on the ship. Pike’s astral form is being beginning to fade. Doty rushes over to Pike and tears the sketches out of the book. Doty then rushes back over to Tary. Pike follows, ready to teach Tary a lesson.

When she reaches Taryon, she explains that the sketches are to be used as flashcards to help him learn everyone’s names. She holds up the first drawing. It is of Vax and Keyleth in bed together, both pulling up the blankets and looking horrified. Tary, shocked by the content, explains that it is “little elf boy” and “antlers.” Pike hands him a quill and tells him to write their real names (Vax and Keyleth) on the drawing above their heads. He writes them in gnome.

She pulls out the second drawing. This one also has a pair in bed together: Vex and Percy. Tary immediately notices that this drawing is more explicit, the shyness of the last drawing replaced by confusion and anger. Pike tells her that “little elf girl” is actually named Vex, and that she and Vax are twins.

Tary: “I could tell by the bone structure and the contempt.”

She asks if he knows Percy’s name, and he proudly recites the gunslinger’s full name. On the flashcard, he writes it in common, using abbreviations.

Pike pulls out the next drawing. This one is of her, still in her armor, but in her room. She looks exasperated by the fact that she wasn’t clear enough with her instructions to Doty. Before she can continue, he interrupts.

Tary: “Quick process question: In the other images, there was some revelry–some intercourse–happening. Now that I’m a full-fledged member, do I get to partake? Is this how it works with everyone or just certain members? Is there a heirarchy? Is it a cultish thing where you have to prove yourself sexually and in battle? How does that work?”

Pike: “I think you should just continue to try to explore that. It would be great just to see what happens. You never know, Tary. You just never know. I would never tell you no.”

Pike pauses for a second before she realizes what she said.

Pike: “No! Not me!”

Tary decides that being a member of this group may be better than he had hoped.

Pike tells him her name and they move onto the next picture.

Tary is immediately shocked by the following picture. Though the others contained images of couples, this one was certainly the most shocking. It was of Grog. All of Grog. Tary scolds Doty for deviating from realism, but Doty indicates that it was realism. Tary is impressed.

Vax: “That is not a picture of a Goliath and a halfling, by the way.”

Tary continues to stare at the picture in awe, wondering how Grog walks.

Tary: “I’ve taken to calling him ‘Jumbo’ or ‘The Big Guy,’ and it seems I was correct.”

Pike ignores that and says his name is Grog. She also adds that he is her best friend. She tells Tary to look at the flashcards every night before bed in order to learn everyone’s names. Tary becomes nervous.

Tary: “In this form, can you see me all the time?”

Pike: “Yes.”

Tary, frightened of this powerful gnome, promises to study his flashcards and protect her friends Greg, Vox, Vox, Kiko, and Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III.

The Water Ashari people are there to see them off. Uvenda thanks them for accompanying Keyleth on her journey. She wishes them luck in their future.

They decide to take the boat back rather than using tree stride. They decide to head to Emon with the intention of preparing more before their next journey.

Pike begins to flicker away. They quickly say their goodbyes. Grog pulls Pike into a hug before she leaves and she vanishes in his grasp. Grog becomes hysterical, thinking he somehow made Pike go away. He tries to make himself pass out. Everyone tries to stop him except Percy, who suggests that he sleep it off.

Keyleth offers to control the wind for Adella to cut time off their journey. They get back to Emon in half the time.

At the end of their journey, Tary insists that he pays the crew of the Drensala Vis. He pays them in full, plus tip, plus extra for damages.

When they arrive, Vax confirms with a townsperson that the Council is still in charge.

Vex talks to Keyleth. She apologizes for doubting Keyleth’s abilities and says that she is proud of her. Keyleth responds that she appreciates it especially since she admires Vex.

Pike comes out to greet them. Grog runs over to her excitedly, but then cautiously hugs her. Pike tries to explain that his hug did not cause her to disappear. Grog compliments her, saying she’s getting very strong.

Percy dresses up Pike in sea shell jewelry.

Tary greets her by name. He assures her that he has been studying the flashcards every night. Pike confirms that she knows he has and that she is very proud.

They go back to Greyskull Keep. Some of the original servants have returned, including Elena and Irwin. They have been cleaning in their absence.

They give Tary a full tour of the keep.

Before leading Tary to the workshop, they ask Tary about his specialties. He says that he can do anything that combines magic and engineering. Vax asks for a beard trimmer.

They decide to go up to the library. Grog points out that he still has Percy’s glasses, preventing him from reading. He thinks on what he can offer Grog.

Pike asks Grog if he took Percy’s glasses. He says that Percy gave them to him, but Vex taught him that if he trades, he gets something in return. He tells her about his title Percy granted to him on their last trade.

Percy comes back over to him with a pinwheel. He puts it in Grog’s straps on his chest and explains that he can now tell if the wind is blowing. Keyleth confirms this with a gust cantrip. Grog is angered by this, explaining that he is not a child and this is therefore inadequate. He tells Percy to offer him something else, but quickly adds that he will accept the pinwheel as deposit. He walks away, happily playing with the pinwheel.

They search through the library. Keyleth reads for Percy.

Vex takes out the tome from Opash’s collection that Gilmore warned them about. They worry about the consequences of reading the book. Vex, being able to read that language, reads the text.

The tome is a journal. It talks about Opash’s journeys and his experiments with souls. He took civilizations from other islands and used them as subjects for his experiments. As she continues to read, she discovers that Opash was researching how to become a dracolich. Opash’s notes suddenly stop, and Thordak’s notes take over. The notes speak of immortality. The notes end with Thordak seeking out power. She realizes that these notes could have helped Raishan cure herself.

She feels a cold hand reaching out to the back of her mind, but she manages to shake it as she reads.

Percy asks Pike if she can destroy it. Tary orders Doty to record what Vex told them was in the journal. Doty starts to tear pages out of partially finished books to write the story. Grog follows suit, much to Percy’s chagrin. They discuss their options to get rid of the book.

They decide to consider it more later and rest for the night. They discuss their morning plans, eventually agreeing to do brunch.

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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