SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 78 (obviously).  Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
My recap of Episode 77 can be found here.

Vox Machina gathers forces to prepare for the battle with Thordak, The Cinder King.

Previously on Critical Role

After returning from the fire plane, Vox Machina found Fort Daxio under siege by lizardmen and wyverns. They win the battle, but realize that they must quickly gather resources and set out to meet Thordak’s army. They decide to take Gilmore with them on this quest.

Now

Vox Machina immediately begins to plan for the attack ahead. They discuss how to meet up with Vax and Vex’s father’s army to strategize. Percy fusses about repairing his guns and hiring a painter for their keep. Vex points out that they have allies in Vasselheim, but that they would likely not be able to reach them in time. They realize that they may have sent the airship to Emon, where Thordak has made his lair. They also consider that Allura has been in contact with Sygorn’s army.

They quickly decide that they will partake in a hero’s feast before the battle. They also know that Sygorn’s army will at Emon, ready to take on Thordak.

Keyleth attempts to scry on the Greyskull Keep. Although she cannot scry on the keep itself, she can scry on a nearby tree, which allows her to see some of the keep. However, due to some sort of interference, she can see the tree clearly, but not much else.

The party decides to find others to join them. Keyleth goes to see Kashaw, Vex to Gilmore, Scanlan to Jarrett, and Vex for Zahra. Percy announces he is going to talk to Cassandra about resources.

Percy: “If anyone asks about the plan, the plan is chaos.”

Vex goes to knock on Zahra’s door. She is sleeping, but wakes up to answer it. Vex tells her that they are leaving for Emon tomorrow.

Zahra: “Tomorrow? Oh, I was going to get my hair done.”

Zahra tells her that she had somethings to do–decorating, reading, etc–but has been craving dragon meat and will gladly help them.

Keyleth slowly makes her way to the guard barracks to meet with Kashaw. She takes care to avoid any cracks on the sidewalk on the way there. When she finally reaches her destination, Kashaw is sitting outside. Keyleth pretends to tie her shoe, but Kashaw calls her out on her bluff.  Keyleth tries to begin awkward small talk, but Kashaw agressively refutes her advances.

Kashaw pushes her to reveal her true intent in coming to speak with him, and Keyleth finally asks him to join them in fighting Thordak. However, her asking quickly turns into begging.

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Kashaw immediately questions why he should help them after it seems like they have done nothing for him in return. Keyleth first tries to appeal to his fear of Vax, but then appeals to his sense of duty.

Keyleth: “I know that you care even though you pretend like you don’t.”

Kashaw: “Well, in all fairness, dragons bring change.”

Keyleth: “There are better ways to bring change than death and destruction.”

Kashaw, starting to become worn down by Keyleth’s pleading, asks who else is helping. Keyleth tells him that all of Vox Machina is helping in addition to Zahra. Upon hearing this, he immediately agrees to help. Keyleth leads him back to Zahra. They keep their distance from each other as they walk.

Meanwhile, Scanlan begins to look for Jarrett. He finds Jarrett drinking an ale by himself. Scanlan asks if he would be interested in helping them in exchange for a bonus to his salary. Jarrett tells him to add it onto the other bonuses.

Scanlan then reveals his other motivation for talking with Jarrett. He asks Jarrett if he’s made any progress on finding drugs. Jarrett, beginning to speak in code, says that he’s finding him a woman.

Scanlan: “Oh, yes. I need a woman so bad. And you were going to find me a date.”

They leave the tavern and drop the facade. He hands Scanlan a small package. Scanlan asks what he owes, but Jarrett says to not worry about it. Scanlan then awkwardly asks Jarrett how to use it.

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Jarrett: “You’re a smart boy. How do you think you use it?”

Scanlan: “In a pipe of some sort…?”

Jarrett: “Sure.”

Jarrett, realizing that Scanlan has no idea what he’s doing, leaves.

After Percy inspects Bad News, he assesses the damages, and guesses that the repairs will be around 500gp. He then goes off to see Cassandra. He finds her talking with Allura, Gilmore, Bram, and Drake. He tells her of their plans to intercept the approaching army, and he asks what resources from the  city are available to him. Cassandra tells him that some of their supporters in the city have sent them what they can for the upcoming battle. Drake brings Percy a package with several vials of healing potions. Drake also has an additional gift for them that he has made himself: four potions of fire resistance.

After thanking Drake for his generosity, Percy pulls Cassandra aside. He thanks her for all that she has done for him, and warns her that, if he dies in this battle, she needs to seal off the city and go underground. He adds that she should not get involved with the aftermath of the battle should they fail. She admits that she has already considered this possibility, and has been speaking to Allura about contingency plans to guard the city. They wish each other good luck and Percy leaves to pack.

As he leaves, Vax walks past to see Gilmore. He pulls him aside. Gilmore tells Vax that he’s glad that Vax kept his promise to live through his last battle. Vax then asks Gilmore for a favor in return.

Vax: “Do you want to help us save the world?”

Gilmore admits that he’s felt useless just sitting in Whitestone and agrees to join them.

After gathering everyone, Vex suggests that they just eat a Hero’s Feast every night until the battle. Scanlan questions if they have the money for it, but Vex assures him that they do. They consolidate and make a list of all of their potions and items. Percy also says that he’s been carrying around a sword, but doesn’t know if he’s the best person to wield it. He suggests Grog. They go through everything and decide who gets what.

They also discuss their plans for killing Thordak. Scanlan says that they are going to use The Clasp to lead them into the underground tunnels to gain the advantage of a surprise attack. Zahra questions if they trust The Clasp.

Scanlan: “We totally trust them because they are scoundrels and liars and we have no other choice.”

Kashaw further clarifies that, in addition to all of this, they are going into see Thordak in the place where he is the most powerful and from which there is no escape for them (but there is for Thordak) with only part of the army. Scanlan tells him that is correct. Percy adds that hopefully the remainder of the army will attack Thordak’s army and distract them from the group so they won’t have to fight Thordak and his armies at the same time.

Kashaw pushes on the plan further, pointing out flaws.

Kashaw: “Is there a weak point?”

Scanlan: “Our plan.”

Kashaw suggests an alternative plan. He suggests sending in skirmishes to feint the city so they won’t know where the main attack is coming from. Then, he theorizes that they will go to protect every wall of the city. Once they do that, the army will again feint to attack a single fortified position, leaving a backdoor open to enter in through later. Then they will use The Clasp to guide them through the tunnels to attack Thordak.

Kashaw asks who is leading the ground forces. Scanlan admits they don’t have anyone, but they do have Raishan, who may or may not have ulterior motives. Vex suggests Daxio. Kashaw points out that no matter what, they’re all going to die, but at least he’ll die being correct about them having a poorly constructed plan.

Zahra uses awakened mind to speak to Kashaw telepathically. She warns him that Raishan is not to be trusted, and that if she makes any suspicious moves, they’ll take her out.

They decide to speak with the general tonight to convey the plans and have Pike make a Hero’s Feast for them. They ask Allura if she knows where the Sygorn army is. She says she has been keeping eyes on them, and that they are at two thousand troops. She says however that they are without their beasts and horses.

They realize that they don’t have an airforce to counter the wyverns. Allura tries to assure them that they are not as much of a threat as they may seem. After further discussing their options, they decide to go to bed.

Zahra pulls Vex aside after the meeting to discuss her concerns regarding Raishan. She makes it clear to Vex that she thinks Raishan is not to be trusted. Vex assures her that she isn’t trusting Raishan at all. Zahra reveals that she is willing to die if it means killing Raishan. After hearing this, Vex grows suspicious of Zahra, and wonders if she really is Zahra, or if she is Raishan in disguise.

Vex asks Zahra how she was communicating with Raishan, and Zahra tells her that she visited Raishan in the ziggurat. She says that she has started to become very interested in dragons, so she would speak to Raishan, even though she knew Raishan has been a part of the destruction the dragons have caused. She said that she tried to get close to Raishan to find out more about Thordak and her true intentions, only to find out that she didn’t know anything about Raishan and that Raishan knew plenty about her.

Vex reassures her that they aren’t trusting Raishan, and that she doesn’t even fully believe that Raishan is sick at all. Zahra says that she does believe that Raishan is sick, but that their sickness makes them expendable if Thordak can give her a cure.

Vax, Keyleth, and Allura go to the Sun Tree to speak with the Air Ashari. They arrive in the village and feel the wind stop blowing. As they travel, Keyleth shows them places from her childhood. Vax sees something black fly across the sky in their direction. He spins Keyleth around to look at it. She tells him that it’s a person riding a skysail. As they land, Keyleth sees that it’s her father. When he lands, they see that he is tense.

He tells Keyleth that he thinks he knows why she is visiting. He says that the Air Ashari know the threat and they are ready to face the threat. Keyleth asks why there is trepidation in his voice. He says that it is merely his concern as a parent watching his child go to war. Keyleth is confused, as she thought that this was the path her father set her on. He assures her that it is, but it is still hard to watch, knowing the risk involved.

She asks if they can create a storm to further aid them in the battle. He obliges. He tells her to send him a sign in the sky when they are ready for them to enter the battle.

Percy heads to Vex’s room with a bag and knocks on her door when he arrives.

Percy: “Hey, it’s me.”

Vex: “Percy? Are you here for our later talk?”

Percy: “No. I am an evil green dragon. Open the door. I have something to show you.”

She opens the door. She is naked.

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He asks to come in and tells her he has to talk to her. She asks if he would like to talk before or after. He hastily starts pulling bottles out of his bag.

Percy: “This is ‘Dire Heart.’ This we simply call ‘Courage.’ This is a snow mead, and this is greentear whiskey. We’re going to start with the Courage and not talk about dragons.”

He shuts the door.

The next morning, they wake up, and begin to anxiously wait for the oncoming battle. Allura informs them that the army is in place, and waiting for the right time to strike. Kashaw and Vax spare with each other to get Vax used to his new weapon.

Keyleth scrys on Syldor. She sees that he is at home in Sygorn with his daughter. He is a diplomat, not a fighter. Keyleth tells everyone that he didn’t travel with the army. They won’t be able to watch what is happening via Syldor. They ask Allura to scry on the army. She does and says they look restless. She offers to bring eight of them with her to the war camp. Keyleth says she will transport the others via the Sun Tree.

After everyone is gathered, Raishan, disguised as Larkin, arrives. She travels with them to the war camp. They go to see the war master, Mikhail Daxio.

When they enter his tent, they see him discussing Emon’s defenses with a colleague. He introduces himself and confirms that they are his strike force. He says that they will strike at sundown, as most of the army has some form of dark vision. Kashaw asks how they are planning to attack.

Daxio tells them that he is planning to attack from all sides and then focus their attack. He asks them if they are planning on opening any of the unattended gates once they sneak into the city. They said that they have not discussed it, and Kashaw says that it would be easier to tear down a wall than to find a gate and keep it open. Daxio goes on to add that they will try to scatter their forces around the city once the walls are breached and they will be staying out of central locations to avoid the air forces. Keyleth adds that the Air Ashari will be assisting them in the skies. Kashaw insists that this will allow them to take and hold checkpoints in the city, which will make the fighting easier.

After the defenses fall, the armies will head to Thordak.

Kashaw asks how long breaching the city will take, and Daxio responds that it will take approximately an hour. By that point, they will not be terribly far into the tunnel system beneath the city. They see that the Air Ashari’s storm is looming to the east. Keyleth says she will use sky write to make a symbol in the clouds when it’s time. She decides to make an eye in the storm to signal the Ashari and the armies.

Vex casts pass without a trace and they begin to make their way to Greyskull Keep. When they arrive, the front door is open. Vax listens for anyone else in the tower, but he hears nothing. When they enter, they find all the torches extinguished and everything has been rummaged through. All of the food and valuables are missing. The hidden exit remains untouched

Percy shows Kashaw his powder keg. He tells him both how dangerous and useful it can be. They decide to bring it with him. Everyone enters the tunnel via the hidden exit. Zahra casts light. Vex distributes potions. When they reach the end of the tunnel, it is forty minutes before sundown, and, therefore, the battle.

Before they exit the tunnel, Scanlan casts seeming to make them appear like lizard people. Gilmore also casts invisibility on some of the group. Scanlan accidentally casts seeming too many times, and now Gilmore, Vax, and Vex are invisible lizard people.

They hurriedly head to The Clasp entrance. When they get there, they find the sewer gate unlocked. Vex tells Grog to stealthily open it. He easily lifts the metal to the entrance, and they all head in. Vex tells him to put the grate down very quietly. She brings Trinket out of her locket.

They hear voices from further down the tunnel. They are discussing relocating people, timing, and other matters related to the attack. Seven figures move away from them. Vax calls out for them to wait. They stop and slowly pull out blades. Vex asks if they are true to Emon. Vax adds that he used to be one of them. The members of The Clasp head towards them. They see the party disguised as lizard people, and, assuming the worst, run away from them.

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Vex yells at Scanlan to drop seeming, but it is too late. The Clasp isn’t stopping even after the spell is dropped. They run after them. Vax tries to convince them that he knows Garthok. A door slams. Vax goes up to the door. Keyleth checks to see if they ran into a trap. Vax tells Scanlan to convince them to open the door. Scanlan begins to talk to them through the door. They ask Vox Machina who they are and what they want. Scanlan responds that they know The Clasp and that they are from Emon.

Scanlan: “We are super powerful superheroes who are going to kill a dragon, and we’re going to give you half the gold.”

There is a thirty second pause, and the door opens.

The Clasp confirms that they are allies against the dragon, and they open the door. They tell Vox Machina that they are outnumbered by thirty people with crossbows aimed at their skulls, and that their story will be checked. Vax knocks out “no bullshit” in the thieves cant. Scanlan lies and says he did it with his genitals. They enter the room.

The members of The Clasp all appear underfed and tattered, like cornered animals. They ask where Shen is. They know that something is happening tonight. Kashaw tells them it will happen in ten minutes.

They dash through the tunnels. They hear the storm and the battle overhead. Vex tries to poison her arrows. The air gets hotter as they get closer to the lava and fire brought on by Thordak. They hear lightning every few seconds. The Clasp scout takes them as close as they can before going back to safety. They hear an ominous roar.

It is Thordak.

Vax and Vex climb up to the surface. Everything is on fire and the rain is failing to extinguish it. The Cloudtop is evaporating the rain before it even hits the ground. Two fire giants stand on guard. They need to be distracted in order for the party to get past.

Zahra and Kashaw offer to take on the fire giants so Vox Machina can get past. They say their goodbyes to the party. Zahra conjures tentacles to restrain the fire giants.

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The giants cry out that they are under attack. Keyleth throws up the signal.

The Air Ashari strike. They hear booms beyond the walls. The siege has started. Vox Machina runs in between the giants. When they reach the door, Grog beats against it until it falls off its hinges.

The giants take hits from Zahra, but they are more concerned with Vox Machina getting past them. Vax and Vex sneak attack them as they go by. The party runs past the gate. Zahra and Kashaw stay behind.

When they past the gate, they find a crater billowing with smoke. Two massive wings unfurl and begin to spread, the ember spark in his chest now gone. Thordak looms over Vox Machina.

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To be continued…

Episode 79 – “Thordak”


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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.