SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 90 (obviously). Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
My recap of Episode 89 can be found here.
Vox Machina take a trip to Vasselheim and head to Zephra.
Previously on Critical Role
Keyleth completed the final leg of her Aramente, but not without damage to her companions. They all barely escaped with their lives, but, unfortunately, Vax lost his. They summoned Pike to help them do a resurrection ritual in an attempt to bring their friend and brother back to life. The Raven Queen agreed to not claim Vax yet after a successful ritual. However, during the ritual, Vex struck a deal with the Raven Queen to kill Orcus, sworn enemy of the Raven Queen. The Water Ashari held a celebration in honor of Keyleth, and the party sailed back to Emon.
Vax tosses and turns throughout the night. His sleep is interrupted by his recent trauma in the water plane. He dreams of the darkness of the sea and the Kraken. Then, the mask of the Raven Queen enters into his dream.
Raven Queen: “I’ve given you back, my champion, but you are still mine. You have a purpose. Do not forget.”
Vax: “You know well that my heart lies with them. Both of them. All of them. But I have put my faith in you. And I await your word.”
Raven Queen: “And wait you shall. I sense something on the horizon. I sense rousing villainy. I sense twisting of the threads of life. But it’s too far beyond my vision. But I’ve watched your thread. It leads to something light. It leads to something great. But your thread is still clouded at that point. I cannot see beyond, and as that thread moves, it gathers many around it: those you’ve come to love. Perhaps their fate is tied with yours. Is that a responsibility you can bear, Vax’ildan? Be patient. Enjoy the time you have. For when this rousing evil gathers, I will need your full attention, my champion.”
The Raven Queen fades back into the darkness.
He awakes with a start, rousing Keyleth as well. She asks him if he had a nightmare. He says that he had. She asks if he wants to talk about it, but he declines. She druidcrafts some fireflies in the room to help him go back to sleep. He hears the voice of The Raven Queen as he falls back to sleep.
The next morning, the party wakes up to the smell of Elena cooking breakfast. They go downstairs and immediately begin to eat. They hear heavy footsteps enter into the room. Shayne Tranter, one of the guards of Greyskull Keep, enters the room. She greets them and sits down to eat. Tary introduces himself and informs her that he is a bonafide member of Vox Machina, much to the rest of Vox Machina’s chagrin. Shayne happily accepts this, and asks him about her wages. Tary offers to contribute one seventh of her wages even though Vex insists this is not necessary.
Grog asks Tary if he knows their fight song. Tary says that he does not, but he does know a few religious songs and a few poems to which he made up melodies. Grog tasks him with making up his own fight song for the group. Tary calls Doty over and they begin to work.
Vex begins to work out the wages for their guards and servants. They officially take Jarrett off of their payroll and Shayne sadly tells them that Cordell, one of the guards, perished. They realize that they sent Natibe, a spy and one of their guards, to spy on the Briarwoods and haven’t heard from him since. They assume he is dead as well. Keyleth scrys on him to make sure. Her vision leaves her and immediately returns. She assumes this means he is dead.
They ask Shayne to find some new candidates for guards while they are gone. Vex gives her 500 gold for herself, Kendrick, and the three guards she intends to hire.
Percy reminds Keyleth that she needs to be crowned. They immediately question the logistics of wearing the antlers with a crown. Keyleth tells them that she would actually wear a mantle.
Percy tells Grog that he will need to dress up and bathe for the coronation since he is now a Poo bah. Grog tells them that he doesn’t feel well and hurries out of the room and conversation.
Keyleth anxiously begins to plan her return home. Vex asks if Keyleth needs to stay after the ceremony is complete. Keyleth tells her that she will become the Voice of the Tempest, and she assumes that means that she can do whatever she wants. Vax questions this more, asking if she needs to stay to lead her people. She admits that she doesn’t know.
Percy: “Has your life been leading up to this moment, or has your life been leading up to everything that happens after this moment?”
Percy advises that she just push herself through the ceremony. Vex says it’s just like getting married; it’s all planning. They push her to make a decision on when they go to Zephra. Eventually, she decides to make a detour to Vasselheim for shopping and dropping off the tome before going to Zephra for her coronation.
They discuss what they need from Vasselheim. They all agree that they are in need of healing potions. Tary pulls a patch off of his robe and produces four healing potions from it. The rest of the party is very impressed.
Grog: “We should just tear you limb from limb and see what fucking falls out!”
Keyleth warns Tary that the people of Vasselheim are prejudiced against arcane magic. They realize that bring Doty, an arcane construct, complicates things. Vax and Vex offer to disguise Doty. The plan becomes increasingly elaborate as they talk, and they decide to make Doty a mask and cover him in robes to disguise him as a heavily scarred Goliath.
Vax asks Vex for money. At first she is resistant, but eventually decides to give everyone an allowance of 1,000 gold.
Vax goes into town. He manages to find some supplies to create a mask for and bandages for Doty. Vex also goes into town to pick up things for Elena. Meanwhile, Percy crafts some ceramic hands and face for Doty.
Tary approaches Shayne. He tells her that the party is about to go on a very important mission, and her hair is desperately needed. He offers her 100 gold for it. She looks at him for a second and then begins to laugh. She asks if he is messing with her, but he assures her he is not. She counter offers 500 gold. He agrees. She retreats into the keep.
After a few minutes, she comes back with a completely shaven head. They exchange the hair for the gold. Tary then begins to use the hair to make a wig for Doty. He crafts a glue and smears it on Doty’s head. He then begins to lay the hair on top of it. The hair looks somewhat oddly layered, but it is passable from a distance. He ends the look with a fu manchu, not remembering that Doty’s face will be covered with a mask.
As Tary finishes, Vax and Percy come back into the room. They are horrified by what Tary has done. Regardless, Vax gets to work on applying the disguise to Doty. The results are as good as they could be. Doty still doesn’t quite look like a person, but he looks less metal.
They all call Grog down. He begrudgingly comes downstairs. Seeing Doty, he becomes frightened and goes to attack. They quickly stop him and explain that Doty is just in a disguise.
Vex then notices that Doty was wearing her cloak of elvenkind when Tary was gluing hair to Doty. There is now glue spilled all over the robe and parts of it are glued to Doty. She is furious about this.
They make their way to a tree to transport themselves to Vasselheim. They quickly realize how frightening Doty looks when it is moving.
When they arrive in Vasselheim, they begin to split up into groups. Percy and Keyleth agree to take care of the book, and Vax and Vex decide to research Orcus. Tary says he will join Percy and Keyleth. They ask Grog where he wants to go.
Grog: “The options both suck.”
Grog insists that he will go on his own adventure, but Tary offers to bring him along while he buys potions instead. Vex warns him that Grog is terrible at haggling–often offering more than what the seller originally wanted.
The twins go to the Platinum Sanctuary. There, they are greeted by guards, one of whom recognizes them. They request an audience with Scalebearer Vord. The guards go to check his schedule. Vex asks Vax if the book should go to The Raven Queen instead, but he says that it should stay there. He worries that if he goes to The Raven Queen’s Sanctuary, he will need to stay there.
After about 15 minutes, the guard returns and says that Vord will see them.
On the way in, they agree the best option is to ask Vord to destory the tome, though Vex argues it has important history in it.
When they enter the room, Vord asks them what their business is. Vex explains that the book is Opash’s journal detailing his descent into necromancy. Vord offers to keep it rather than destroying it, promising that it will stay protected and away from those who would wish to use it for nefarious purposes. He argues that using the tome will be useful in battling this type of evil.
They don’t currently have the book with them, but they agree to consider the offer. Vex then asks about Orcus, the god she promised to kill in exchange for Vax’s life. Vord explains that Orcus is an evil god kept trapped behind a divine gate, meant to keep evil deities out of the world. However, he still sends his minions through the gate. He goes on to explain that Orcus has four horns, two he is still in possession of, and another two that he gave to his champions. Vord explains that the Platinum Sactuary is in possession of one of the horns now. He has sent others to search for the fourth horn.
Vax and Vex agree to fetch the tome and discuss their options. Before they go, they ask about the Nine Hells. They tell Vord that a rakshasa has been pursuing Vax and Pike. He tells them what he knows of the Nine Hells. The twins leave the sanctuary.
On the way out, Vax pulls his sister aside. He says it may be best to leave the book with the Platinum Sanctuary. He says again that the idea of going to the Temple of the Raven Queen frightens him. He does not yet want to leave his sister, Keyleth, and the others. He also shows her his chest. Since he died, the skin has grown dark and black veins extend out from his heart. It looks bruised. Vex insists they go to a cleric. He covers his chest back up. They decide, despite Vax’s fears, to go to the Raven Queen’s temple.
Meanwhile, Keyleth and Percy look through the library for information on The Nine Hells. They are directed to The Cobalt Vault. When they enter the vault, they ask a library for access to information on the Nine Hells. The librarian refuses them access, saying that those materials are restricted.
Keyleth tries to name drop Vox Machina and asks to speak to someone in upper management. The librarian is not convinced. Percy then offers to donate a copy of A Manual of Quickness to Action to the library. She appraises the book for authenticity and goes into the back of the vault. After a while, a man comes out. He introduces himself and asks them what the terms of the trade are. Percy explains, and the librarian agrees. He leads them further into the vault.
Along the way, they see monks observing patrons of the vault. Percy and Keyleth remember that no books can be taken from the library, but notes can be taken under supervision of the monk assigned to them. He leads them to a spiral staircase. Underneath a rug at the bottom of the stairs is a trapdoor.
He leads them down into a basement. Two guards stand in defensive positions, but let them aside when they see that Percy and Keyleth are being escorted and not attempting to break into the vault. He leads them to case, and uses two keys to unlock it. Opening the top releases the smell of dust and ash. He takes out two books, one of them heavily damaged. He explains that one is a book on Orcus and the other is a book on The Nine Hells.
The book on Orcus is written in Abyssal, which neither Percy nor Keyleth can read. Keyleth considers changing into a creature that can read Abyssal, but decides to wait until after Percy reads about the Nine Hells. Percy requests reading glasses, as Grog still has his.
He searches through the book looking for information on rakshasas. He also finds information on the hierarchy of the Nine Hells. The main battle through the Hells is the battle of chaos versus order.
Outside of the Platinum Sanctuary, Vax and Vex realize that neither of them have Opash’s diary.
Percy quickly reads through information each of the nine layers of the Hells to see what they can expect on each one. He concludes that they should likely travel to the iron city of Dis in the second layer.
While everyone else is looking at books, Tary, Grog, and Doty go to buy potions. As they walk, everyone stares at them. This isn’t surprising, as Tary’s armor makes him shine brightly and he is flanked by two Goliaths, one of them obviously in some sort of disguise. They are quickly stopped by two guards.
The guards ask them about their business in Vasselheim. Tary explains to them that he is a traveling textiles merchant and Grog and Doty are his Goliath body-building leper body guards. The guards nod at him and point them in the direction of healing potions.
Tary, Grog, and Doty walk away. Tary excitedly tells Grog that it was his first time lying, and he thinks it went very well. Grog points out to Tary that they are still being followed. In an attempt to be casual and not bring about more suspicion, Tary takes off his shiny, diamond-encrusted helmet and shakes out his hair. He begins to talk loudly about how nice of a day it is and how he isn’t planning on going anywhere.
Grog points out that this is all probably counter-productive, since they still need to get the potions. He then notices that the potion shop they were pointed to by the guards is the same one that they went to before. Grog tells Tary that this is his chance to prove himself. He tells him to haggle and get the potions. Tary tells Doty to “be cool” and explains that he needs to act sick and keep watch outside of the shop. If anyone approaches, he needs to make a sound. Doty immediately begins to follow orders and pretends to limp, resulting in metallic clangs.
The guards begin to quickly approach, but Tary and Grog duck inside the shop. The shopkeeper immediately protests, but Grog convinces him to calm down, saying that Vex isn’t with them and that Tary is very rich. The shopkeeper asks who is outside the door. Tary simply says “a man.” The shopkeeper then happily begins to serve them.
Tary asks for scrolls he can use in battle. The shopkeeper offers him several, growing increasingly frustrated when Tary already has them. Finally, Tary agrees to take one of the scrolls. The shopkeeper says it costs 6,000 gold. Tary tells him that he will put a number of coins on the table, and the shopkeeper can either take them or refuse them. He starts out at 200 gold. The shopkeeper simply stares at him. He adds more and more until he reaches 4,400 gold, which the shopkeeper accepts. He puts his scroll of fire shield in his pack.
They then inquire about healing potions. The shopkeeper explains that he has six regular healing potions, three greater, and one superior. Tary offers 6,000 for the lot. The shopkeeper, looking to capitalize on his past interactions with Grog, counters with 10,000. Grog consults with Tary who tells him to not take the deal. Grog, still bargaining better than usual, offers 9,000. The shopkeeper accepts. Tary counters again by offering the Basilisk egg in addition to the original 6,000 gold. He tells the shopkeeper the same story Grog told him. The shopkeeper is excited by the prospect of an egg that can bring someone back from the brink of death and takes the deal.
They exchange the gold and egg for the goods. The shopkeeper giftwraps the potions so Tary can present them as a gift to the party to thank them for accepting him into their group.
As the shopkeeper is in the back gift-wrapping, They hear several metal bangs. Doty walks into the shop holding two unconscious guards. Tary immediately begins to panic. Grog punches both guards in the face, breaking their jaws. He tells Doty that they have to kill everyone, even the shopkeeper. Tary agrees, having bonded with Grog during the haggling of the potions. However, he does point out that the shopkeeper hasn’t seen anything yet.
Grog looks around for something to wrap the guards up in. He sees nothing, and begins to panic more. He tells Tary that he saw people prop up unconscious bodies in a tavern once. Tary argues that the broken jaws will be a give-away. Grog says that they’ll make them look like they’re drunk. He sits them in the corner. He starts pouring ale all over them. He screams at Tary to make himself throw up. Tary, not knowing what to do, sticks his rod down his throat, but can’t make himself puke.
The shopkeeper walks back in.
The shopkeeper looks at the scene before him. Tary is trying to gag himself with a hilt of a sword. Grog is pouring ale over two beaten, unconscious guards. Doty, the badly disguised construct, is staring at him. The shopkeeper quickly gives them the giftwrapped potions and insists they leave and never return. He tells them that they have brought him nothing but despair since they first tried to buy his goods. Grog bids him “bidet,” and they all run out of the shop.
As soon as they get outside, Tary pukes all over the sidewalk. Grog is frustrated that Tary couldn’t do it inside the shop.
Keyleth and Percy leave the vault after being assured that they can return later with Vax and Vex. As they exit the doors, they run into the twins. They confirm that Keyleth has the book, and they explain what they found in the library.
They go on to discuss the fate of the book. Vax still feels uneasy about the Platinum Sanctuary’s interest in the book. Vax suggests instead, bringing it to the Temple of the Raven Queen. Percy accompanies Vax to the temple.
Keyleth and Vex search for formal dresses to wear to the coronation. Keyleth offers a shopkeeper 20 gold to stay open an extra 20 minutes while they find dresses. They enlist the shopkeeper’s help. He does his best to find dresses, and agrees to dye one blue for Keyleth by the next morning.
Percy and Vax enter the temple. Vax tells Percy that he likes what Vex brings out of the gunslinger. Percy tells Vax that he likes the version of the half-elf that isn’t afraid. A woman in a dark veil and black dress stands before them. Vax offers the journal to her. She thanks them and assures them that the book will find its “final seal.”
Vax: “She has begun to speak to me. Her desires are not clear entirely, but I am listening. And I intend to learn.”
Vax: “We have to go, but I mean to come back.”
Woman: “Whenever you are ready. The vision of the gods is obscured beyond the Divine Gate. We are not just their tools, but their extensions: the creations that act as their fingers in this plane. The center of all other life and death. Be watchful. Be vigilant. ”
They leave the temple.
Percy: “Just so you know, it is your duty to have some other joy in the meantime.”
As they walk away from the temple towards the bar, Vax feels a tingle down his spine. He feels a warm second heartbeat representing his brief boon given by the Raven Queen.
They arrive at the bar. Keyleth and Vex are already drinking. They call Grog and Tary over the earring to join them. Percy and Tary try to talk to each other through Grog as Tary has no earrings. Grog covers Tary’s mouth so he can only hear Tary. They tell Grog where they are.
Vax goads Percy into buying him fancy drinks.
Tary, Grog, and Doty walk into the bar. They immediately draw attention to themselves. They try to keep everyone quiet. Grog begins to tell them the situation. Tary begins to cry and explain that Doty killed two guards. But he adds that he thinks the disguise worked. Doty records all of this in the book.
Tary worries that more guards will search for Doty. He insists they put another disguise on top of their disguise. Vex draws on Doty with lipstick to make him look like a girl.
They ask Tary if the guards are really dead. He says Grog will know. Grog claims that he killed them with his punches. They all believe him and are very upset.
Grog: “From what I understand, these guards were attracted to the horrific disguise that Dottie had. He knocked them out and brought them in. I checked for like a pulse–like checked them for their knee reflexes–and they were on death’s door, so I just finished the deal. It was really merciful.”
Tary asks Doty if anyone saw him attack the guards. Doty shrugs.
Vex argues that Doty shouldn’t be allowed into cities.
Percy: “Well, we let the bear into bars.”
Vex: “Yeah, but Trinket is well-behaved. Doty kills people.”
Tary: “Greg killed the people. Doty merely roughed them up.”
Grog tells them that the guards smelled strongly of alcohol anyway. At this, Keyleth doesn’t buy his story.
Vex asks about the potions, and Tary pulls out the gift-wrapped potions. Keyleth tells him that it’s very thoughtful, but she’s still upset about what happened.
Grog reverses his story after they insist on finding the guards. They all realize Grog is lying to them.
They begin to take the disguise off of Doty. The hair and cloak are both stuck to him.
Keyleth advises Tary to be more detailed in his instructions to Doty in the future. He insists that it isn’t Doty’s fault, and he begs for their forgiveness. He asks that his potion gifts be seen as a gesture of goodwill.
Percy toasts to mistakes.
Tary asks that they all sing their fight songs. They insist that he go first. He asks that Doty show him what they wrote. He sings passionately.
Tary: “Seven intrepid warriors we/Far stronger with me/Drinking wine and hero’s feasts/Saving maidens to feeding beasts/We fight, fight, fight with strength and girth/I slew a Marid and proved my worth/With Vix and Vox, Kiko and Greg/And Percival with a head like an egg/I defeated a Kraken singlehandely too/And I saved the Ashari in the ocean blue/We fight, fight, fight with strength and girth/I won your hearts/And I proved my worth.”
They all clap and cheer.
Percy takes the grease from old meat and strong alcohol and begins to dissolve the glue on Doty. They manage to remove the hair and cloak, but the glue splotches remain.
They go to bed for the evening.
In the morning, they grab a bite to eat and pick up their dresses. They use transport via plants to arrive in Zephra. They exit on top of a windy mountain. Keyleth guides them to the town. She tells them about all of the places she remembers from growing up along the way.
Zora, a teenage girl, approaches Keyleth. She tells her that Keyleth used to babysit her when she was a child. She leads Keyleth and the others to Keyleth’s father. They see more and more people as they go further into the city. Eventually, they see Keyleth’s father, Korren.
He goes straight to Keyleth. They greet each other. He says that he heard the defense of Emon was successful. He asks why they have come to Zephra. She says that she thought Uvenda would have sent word. She announces that she has completed her Aramente. Korren admits that he did hear from Uvenda, but he wanted to hear it from Keyleth. He says that they must immediately begin to prepare for the ceremony, which will be in a few hours.
They are instantly swarmed by people interested in their adventures. They are especially interested in Grog.
The town is decorated in Keyleth’s honor.
Vax approaches Korren. Vax had noticed earlier that Korren kept his distance from him. Vax asks for a moment of his time. Vax says that he wishes Korren could have seen some of the amazing things Keyleth has done. He says that she will make the Ashari proud. He lets Korren go back to his preparations.
Everyone takes their seat as Korren comes out before everyone. The tree behind him begin to bloom cherry blossoms as he speaks. He acknowledges that they have waited long for the Voice of the Tempest to return to them. He remembers Vilya, saying that she lives on in Keyleth. Acolytes begin to assemble a mantle in his hands. He sings a note out. Everyone else joins in. The notes begin to separate and soon they are all singing one massive chord.
Keyleth stands up as if guided by the wind and ghosts of the Ashari before her. She walks over to her father. He places the mantle on her shoulders. A massive cloak grows out from the mantle, as if the fabric itself came to life.
When the cloak stops at her feet, Korren speaks.
Korren: “Rise, my daughter, and become Voice of the Tempest.”
He steps back and bows his head.
Keyleth: “I didn’t think I would make it here. I couldn’t have done any of this not only with the support of every person in Zephra and every person of the Ashari tribe, members of Emon, Tal’dore, Marquet, even Wild Mount. In my journeys, I have learned that being a leader is a global effort. One that takes the wisdom of many. Most importantly, I couldn’t have done any of this without Vox Machina, and pieces of them that I have taken away over the years. Each of these qualities that I admire and strive to brace. Grog with his strength, and his unyielding loyalty. Vex, with her self-confidence and utter fearlessness. Vax, who is one of the most compassionate people I have ever come across. And the most brave, even if it is maybe foolish. And Percival with your intelligence and your sensibility, who is always there to be my balance. Scanlan with his charisma and his wit. Pike, her generosity and her authenticity. Always true to herself. And even Tary. Taryeon Darrington. Whose blind faith and perseverance, who trusted us, even when he probably shouldn’t have. All of these things that I have learned and couldn’t be here without. All of these things that make up me. Zephra makes up me. The ashari people and all of greater Axandria. I don’t know if I’m the leader that you deserve or a good leader, but I’m willing to dedicate the rest of my life to doing whatever I can for all us, as long as Vox Machina stands by my side.”
The sun begins to set. Every cherry blossom in the tree releases, causing a swirl of pink and red petals. Everyone stands and begins to cheer and clap. Keyleth sees her friends and, out of the corner of her eye, a vision of her mother. Korren takes her hand and announces again that she is the Voice of the Tempest.
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.