SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 100 (obviously). Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
Our recap of Episode 99 can be found here.
Vox Machina travels to Ank’Harel to investigate the second ziggurat.
Previously on Critical Role
A mysterious figure gave them information on a second ziggurat and orb located near Ank’Harel. However, this person turned out to be their old friend: Scanlan. After some catching up, residual anger over the gnome’s departure, and strange introductions to Scanlan’s hired muscle, Lionel, they make their way to Marquet to investigate the new orb.
They meet outside Whitestone at the Sun Tree. They open a passage to Ank’Harel and travel through. Lionel asks Scanlan why they don’t always travel like that.
Keyleth, using her new leadership skills to inspire the others, pulls everyone into a ten minute group hug. Vex declines at first, but is quickly pulled in. Scanlan, however, refrains.
After the group hug ceases, Scanlan, disguised as The Meat Man, guides them to their destination. On the southeastern side of Ank’Harel, they enter into a tobacco shop. As they enter the interior, an employee snaps to attention. He greets Scanlan and tells him things have been uneventful in The Meat Man’s absence.
They walk down a hidden staircase to a hallway. It smells of must and tobacco. At the end of the hall, they enter a room. They see a table with a throne-like chair at the head of the table. They see an identical match to The Meat Man sitting at the head of the table discussing matters with another person. Scanlan (still disguised as The Meat Man) enters the room. The man speaking to the double Meat Man is confused and asks which of the two is his boss. The non-Scanlan Meat Man raises their hand. He accepts this. He is instructed to not discuss what he has seen.
When they are alone again, The Meat Man takes off his hat of disguise to reveal Kaylie. She greets them and expresses her frustration in having two Meat Men in the same room. She updates him on the business.
Scanlan tells her that he will be gone for even longer. He also asks if she can acquire ducks. Lionel nods at this and explains that they can provide them information.
Lionel: “Ducks will know things that you don’t.”
Before they depart, they gather supplies. They notice that they are low on healing potions, so Kaylie offers to buy some more. She also pulls out a necklace and asks who wants to borrow it. Lionel immediately volunteers.
She tosses him a necklace that smells strongly of beer. Upon smelling this, he tosses it over to the twins, who both grab for it. Vex, however, manages to pull the chain away from her brother. Kaylie explains that it is the amulet of the drunkard. She says that the wearer can drink alcohol once per day to heal themselves. Grog eagerly accepts the amulet. Tary offers to supplement their healing potion supply with some of his patches from his robe.
Lionel asks for a necklace that turns chocolate milk into healing.
Kaylie disguises herself as The Meat Man once more as the others exit the room.
Lionel suggests that they treestride to their final destination. The others suggest he try to do the spell himself.
He goes over to the nearest tree with the utmost conviction. Keyleth recommends he be casual when asking. He places his hand on the tree and begins to gently stroke the bark. He asks if the tree can take him to Smolder Crown.
When nothing happens, he asks Scanlan if the others are fucking with him. They admit that they are, but assure him it means they like him.
Much to Lionel’s shock, Keyleth turns them into clouds, and they begin to cross the vast desert to find the second ziggurat.
Eventually, they see the silhouettes of the Smolder Crown mountains on the horizon. They land when they get close to the entrance to the mountains. Lionel tells them that traveling as a cloud was awesome.
They see a recent cave-in at the end of the path where Lionel first entered the ziggurat. Lionel suggests asking the ducks. The others point out there are no ducks in the desert.
Not to be deterred, Lionel calls for a duck to help them. After about a minute, miraculously, a duck flies over. It flies into the mountain and tumbles down to Lionel and Vox Machina. The others are shocked, but Lionel knew the duck would come.
First he asks how deep the cave-in goes. The duck ponders for a moment and answers that it goes 20 feet down. Next, he asks what caused the cave-in. The duck answers simply “people.” Finally, Lionel asks how many other entrances there are to the cave. The duck replies that there are two before flying away.
Keyleth doubles down on Lionel’s inquiry and communes with nature. From this, she is able to find the other entrances and map out the cave. She also senses that there are several humanoids in the center of the ziggurat.
Meanwhile, Vex sneaks away to track a set of footprints. The footprints stop at the base of the mountain, but she is unable to see any good footholds to indicate that the mountain could be scaled. She thinks for a moment and puts her hand out to see if this part of the mountain is merely an illusion. Her hand passes through the rock. She sticks her head through the illusion.
She sees a 10 foot cavern with smooth walls that narrow into a hallway. On the wall, she sees a featureless face. Suddenly, there is a flash of green light. The beam of light sucks the life out of her, but she pulls herself away before the last of her life-force leaves.
The others hear her gasping and come over. She explains that the rocks are an illusion and there is a magical trap. Vax flies up as a cloud to find the other entrance. He finds nothing.
When her brother returns, Vex shoots an oracle arrow into the cavern. She sees what she has already seen, but she notices a flickering light in the distance before her vision fades.
They discuss their next step. Eventually, they decide to turn into their gaseous forms once again and pass through the small cracks in the cave in so as not to alert those inside of their presence. However, Vex realizes a problem with the plan, noting that her arrow is still inside the cavern. Scanlan offers to retrieve it for her.
Pike reluctantly agrees to dimension door into the cavern with Scanlan to keep him from dying. He quickly finds the arrow. They magically reappear outside with the group.
They decide to change their plans and use the entrance with an illusionary trap. Keyleth attempt to quickly dispel the magic before it can attack again, but she notices that the spell was a one-time use glyph. They sneak into the cave.
Vax hears a noise and warns the others that they aren’t alone. They cautiously proceed. They see two more faces in the wall. Keyleth dispels both of them.
Lionel explains that, to find the room with the orb, they need to go straight. Lionel calls out in the cavern. They hear voices farther ahead. They move towards the caved-in entrance and set up Scanlan’s mansion. Six figures move towards them. Keyleth sees that they’re undead. She casts a fireball out of her spire, destroying all of them.
She notices the flickering in the distance is a white light inside of a warm orange glow. Scanlan finishes casting his mansion, and the others rush in.
Scanlan woefully explains that chicken is no longer on the menu, as Kaylie has him on a vegan diet. He adds that the spa is lined with iron and Tary can sleep in the basement. Percy gives Tary his room instead. Grog tells Lionel that he can sleep with him in the war room. Lionel, much to Grog’s chagrin, claims the sandpit.
Vax goes to visit Scanlan in his room. They begin to play a game of cards. Vax asks what Scanlan has been up to for the past year. Scanlan explains that he and Kaylie explored the woods during the first few weeks. He admits that they weren’t far from Whitestone at first. After a few months, Kaylie’s boredom and Scanlan’s want for revenge led them to Marquet. While seeking revenge, they found that the drugs they sold Scanlan were illegitimate. Scanlan also discovered that they were in the game of counterfeiting. Scanlan poached their best counterfeiter and put the casino out of business, which lead to The Meat Man persona. He assures Vax that they aren’t out to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.
Scanlan expresses his difficulties with imposter syndrome and not knowing how to interact in a group for so long.
Scanlan: “I was so used to being alone that I didn’t know how to behave in a group. And so I left.”
Vax sympathizes and apologizes.
Vax: “If I did anything or said anything to make you feel lonely, I’m sorry. I really am.”
Scanlan accepts his apology and offers one of his own.
Scanlan: “Fighting alongside you all was the best time of my life. And not because of the glory or the fortune or the fame we got. It was just to fight alongside you and to see the looks on your faces when I did something cool in battle.”
Vax tells Scanlan that he is now living in Zephra, and, for the first time, he is happy. Scanlan asks if Vax is going to keep wearing black all the time if he is happy now. Vax happily tells him that the black is there to stay.
Scanlan tells Vax that he isn’t sure if he’s happier, but he is glad he has been with Kaylie anyway.
Scanlan asks if they are actually playing cards or not. Vax says he doesn’t think they are, and he goes off to his own room.
Over dinner, they discuss their plans for the next day. Vex peeks outside the door to check the situation. She sees a few dozen skeletons waiting outside the door. She quickly shuts it. They decide to just throw Pike out the door in the morning to take care of them.
Before they go to bed, Vex pulls Pike aside and asks how she is. Pike responds that she is angry, despite not wanting to be. She says she knows she will need to forgive him someday, but, for now, she wants to be mad. Vex advises her to consider that, if one of them were to fall in battle, how would she feel having not said anything to him. Percy pulls Vex off to bed, saying he wants to break a few things.
Pike goes down to see Grog. She finds him in the war room, jealously glaring at Lionel, who is asleep in the sandpit. She discusses her feelings with Grog as well, and they agree to stay mad at Scanlan until the other gets over it. Grog also points out how Scanlan has effectively replaced him with Lionel.
Lionel wakes up and asks them to be quiet so he can sleep. Grog and Pike go upstairs to make a blanket fort. They fall asleep in it together.
The next morning, everyone comes down to their vegan breakfast. While the others are eating, Pike and Grog peek out the door. They see twenty skeletons grouped outside the door. They decide that clearing out the skeletons themselves will be the perfect way to show Scanlan how great they are.
They yell about how competent they are in battle and they burst out the door.
They fight the skeletons, slowly damaging them. Pike uses destroy undead to wipe out 15 of the skeletons. Only four remain.
Pike: “Do you think Scanlan saw?”
Scanlan is watching from the door with everyone else.
They continue to yell about how good they are at fighting and how good of friends they are.
Grog slowly hacks at the skeletons, hoping Scanlan doesn’t see him having difficulties.
Lionel comes out to see what all the noise is. He sees the skeletons and wants to impress Grog. He joins the fray and immediately obliterates two of the skeletons. He looks to Grog for approval. Grog is furious.
Grog tries to attack the last skeleton. He misses twice in a row.
Lionel comes over to help him, and he kills the skeleton in two hits. He assures Grog that this skeleton was particularly tough.
Grog immediately begins to chug from his cask of beer.
When they all get back inside, Scanlan asks if he can talk to Pike and Grog. He apologizes for being so cruel to them when he left. He also admits that he has been praying, and, not knowing much about religion, he has been praying to Sarenrae.
He then focuses his apologies on Grog, who is still very upset with him.
Grog: “I’m a big guy, but you made me feel small.”
Scanlan, not knowing that Grog can now read and write, explains that he didn’t think words would work for Grog. Instead, he offers him a gift. He hands him a piece of paper, but Grog, in his emotional state, asks Pike to read it instead.
It is a letter from The Meat Man, explaining to the reader that Grog is to be given unlimited beer and women at any establishment he chooses. Grog is still mad at Scanlan, but tucks the letter away anyway.
Scanlan offers Grog anything he wants. Grog suggests that he kill Lionel. Scanlan agrees if it will make him happy. Lionel is confused and slightly worried. Grog decides that now isn’t the time. He adds that it hurt him that Scanlan didn’t hear his song during his resurrection ritual.
The twins hear footsteps outside the door. The look out to see two figures coming up the hall.
Vox Machina and Lionel (with the exception of Tary, who is still asleep) sneak out of the mansion to ambush the two figures. The twins assassinate them from afar. Grog stuffs the bodies in the bag of holding.
Vax examines the box they were holding. He finds a polished jade stone and a scimitar. They meet back with Tary back in the mansion. Doty is helping him get ready. He identifies these items as a scimitar of speed and a third eye of awareness.
Tary speaks to Vex in private. He says that, now that Scanlan is back, he is sure in his decision to go back home. Vex tells him how much he will be missed, but he is resolute in his decision, though he will miss her as well.
Tary: “I am definitely poorer for having known you though.”
As they adventure on, Keyleth warns the others about the orbs. She admits that she once snuck down to see the orb and stuck her hand through it. She goes on to say that her hand was sucked in and began to be crushed, and she barely managed to pull it back out. She worries that the orb is essentially a black hole. Still, they decide to continue on.
As they go through the caverns, they activate another trap. Pike casts mass cure wounds to heal them all.
In a chamber further down the hallway, they hear low voices and a deep humming noise. They recognize the hum as being from the orb.
After a forked passage, they see a stone structure similar to the ziggurat in Whitestone. The top of it is unearthed. They see six or seven cloaked figures around it. One figure, clearly in charge, commands the others. A skeletal minotaur is summoned.
The leader yells that the intruders should be killed. Vox Machina recognizes her voice, but can’t place it.
The black orb changes to white as the cloaked figure fiddles with an amulet. She pulls down her hood to reveal her true identity: Delilah Briarwood.
Though Vox Machina is shocked, Keyleth tries to launch a plan. She shifts her face to appear as Sylas Briarwood. She begs Delilah to stop. Delilah, however, is not fooled. The battle begins.
Keyleth turns into a fire elemental and starts to destroy skeletons.
Delilah casts a rainbow spectrum of color around her. The spells cast against her bounce off of it.
Scanlan reverses the gravity in the room, destroying the skeletons and trapping the other cultists on the ceiling. Percy shoots at them as he runs along the walls of the room.
Grog tries to rush the rainbow barrier, but he flies up to the ceiling. Lionel jumps in after Grog, hitting the ceiling as well. He cleaves a cultist in half shortly after, much to Grog’s frustration.
Tary and Vex fly on the brooms, destroying the remaining skeletons and attacking the minotaur. To satisfy her curiosity, Vex shoots an arrow at the orb. It hits, but immediately shatters.
Keyleth, through attacks from cultists and skeletons, is forced back into her normal form.
One of the cultists puts out a blastic of necrotic energy, affecting everyone except Vax. This knocks out Doty.
Delilah walks through the reversed gravity without being affected and turns towards Pike. She casts feeblemind on the gnome cleric. Delilah flees.
Scanlan dimension doors into the sphere. He circumvents the prismatic barrier, but is blinded for one minute by the sphere.
Tary pulls out a gem and casts prismatic spray. It affects every enemy in its range except the orb.
Vax flies down and pulls the feebleminded Pike from the battle.
Keyleth, still on the ceiling, turns into a red dragon.
Delilah emerges again. She pulls out her amulet again. The orb shifts color and an anti-magic field is present, similar to the one in Whitestone. Pike is clear of the spell effects. Keyleth changes to her original form.
Delilah and her two remaining cultists retreat into the orb.
Percy shoots into the orb, though both Bad News and Animus jam in the process.
One cultist, trapped in one of Vex’s brambleshots, remains. Scanlan uses Mythcarver to kill the mostly-dead cultist. He yells to the others that he is doing this for “my friends” as he stabs him in the toes, killing him.
The danger gone, they all reflect and panic that Delilah is still seemingly alive and able to control the orb.
Pike prays to Sarenrae. The goddess answers that the orb is a doorway to the Shadowfell. They must go there, but Sarenrae’s influence will be diminished greatly.
Keyleth casts restoration on Pike, removing her feeblemind.
Pike casts speak with dead on one of the guards. They ask if they can pass through the orb. He explains that they need a stone to pass through unharmed. Pike asks who he serves. He says that he serves the Undying King, who controls the other remnants, joined together in the common goal to bring his return. They wonder how Delilah returned. The answer is less specific, but mentions that Delilah is a powerful necromancer. Finally, they ask about the master plan.
Blackguard: “His return is nigh. The Whispered One will come. His acolytes will help him complete his destiny through the ritual of seeding. From within the gate, he will rise, the solitary tyrant and lord of Exandria. And with the sole crown of creation guarded upon his head, we, who were his body, will be rewarded with life eternal at his side.”
The spell fades.
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.