SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 97 (obviously).  Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
Our recap of Episode 96 can be found here.

Vox Machina crashes a family reunion.

Previously on Critical Role

After hearing Ogden’s stories about the family curse and his visions, Pike visited Wilhand to learn more about the Trickfoot family. He confirmed that members of the Trickfoot clan have died mysteriously, but, due to their lifestyle, it wasn’t terribly surprising. Not wanting to take any risks, Vox Machina and the Trickfoots climbed up a mountain with a few expensive spell components to perform an exorcism. The ritual began, and Vex quickly realized that the monster they were fighting was an illusion created by Ogden. In an attempt to threaten the gnomes, they accidentally dropped Ogden off the side of the mountain. Vax managed to catch Ogden before he hit the rocks below, but they lost a diamond worth 1,500gp in the process. Pike told the gnomes to leave and never return, except for J.B., who she decided to keep by her side to rekindle their relationship.

Now

After the gnomes leave, Vex casts locate object in an attempt to find the valuable diamond that was dropped into the ocean. She mounts her broom and takes off.

Around the base of the cliff, she senses the location of the diamond near the shore. She flies back up a bit, and contacts Keyleth over the earrings. Vex asks if Keyleth can come down to the base of the mountain and search for the gem. Keyleth agrees.

However, Keyleth’s method for going down the cliff is rather unorthodox. She dives from the mountain, and free falls 1,000 feet.

At one point, she gets too close to jagged rocks sticking out of the side of the mountain. She uses gust to propel herself away from the cliffside. She approaches the water faster and faster, and realizes that she is not nearly far enough out of the way of the mountain to avoid all of the rocks at its base. She trusts that she will hit the water and turns into a goldfish.

Vex sees Keyleth falling from up the mountain. She then sees her druid friend briefly turn into a goldfish before hitting the rocks at the base of the mountain, turning back into herself, and scattering into the water, instantly dead. At the top of the mountain, everyone feels their enchanted necklaces activate.

Vex panics for a moment before flying down to Keyleth’s body. She pulls her out of the water and remembers that Taryon gave her a coin of revivify just a few hours previous. She presses the coin into her friends back and wills the spirit and life to return to Keyleth’s body. After a moment, the bones on Keyleth’s broken form snap back into place and she once again draws breath.

Keyleth: “That was a lot higher than I thought.”

Vex cups her face and casts cure wounds.

Up the mountain, the others wonder if their necklaces are broken, as they activated for a moment before fading away.

Vex tells her to not worry about the diamond, and they fly back up to the others.

Vax asks J.B. what Pike was like as a child. She tells him that they all have a wild streak. She then turns to Pike and apologizes again for being a part of their scheme. Pike forgives her again, and reiterates that J.B. is free to leave if she wants, but Pike would like to build their relationship.

As Vex and Keyleth breach the cliff’s edge, the others panic upon seeing the blood and gore.

While the others fuss over Keyleth, Vex whispers to Tary that she had to use his coin.

Tary: “Oh? Oh.

Keyleth admits that she has been feeling stir-crazy, and the dive was intended to relieve some pent-up aggression. Vax chides her while Percy agrees with the sentiment. Percy suggests getting a drink when they get back to Whitestone.

When they arrive back in town, Percy asks Vax to search the Trickfoot’s cart. They also offer J.B. an opportunity to retrieve her things. She grabs one item: a book.

They go to check on The Slayer’s Cake. They realize that adventuring while running the bakery will become increasingly complicated. Vex suggests that J.B. could run the shop in their absence. J.B. says she has never considered the career path. Tary asks that they set-up a proper interview and trial period, but he admits that he would be open to it.

As they approach the building, they see a woman sitting beside the door of the bakery. Vex calls out to her.

The woman quickly stands up and introduces herself as Hilda. She explains that her husband has been lost at sea and she is without income. She asks if they have a position open at the bakery. She offers them some of her own baked goods as proof of her skill. Tary immediately eats one.

He whispers to the other bakery owners that her goods are better than anything they are currently making. Vex decides to wait for a few minutes before eating hers to see if the cream puffs are poisoned. When she tells this to Tary, he starts to panic. He yells at the woman before Vex stops him. She eats her cream puff. She also realizes how good it is.

Despite how delicious the baked goods are, the party is still suspicious of Hilda and her motives. Vex makes a mental note to ask around town about Hilda’s reputation.

Pike asks if Hilda can provide any references. She says that some people in the town, as well as Keeper Yennen, can vouch for her trustworthiness.

They ask about her husband. She says that he’s a merchant sailor who has been gone for about six months, far longer than he usually takes. Vex offers for Keyleth to scry to find his whereabouts. She rushes up the street to her house to find something of his.

When she is out of earshot, they all agree that they need to hire her. They then realize that leaves J.B. without a job. Percy offers J.B. a position in Whitestone’s library, reading through books and finding information. Her face lights up, and she eagerly accepts the offer. The others suggest that she can also help out at the bakery if she chooses.

When Hilda returns, she hands a gold necklace to Keyleth. After Keyleth prompts her to do so, she describes her husband. Keyleth casts scry, but she is unable to find a link. Hilda looks at her expectantly.

Keyleth reluctantly admits that she was unable to find him on this plane. Hilda is sad, but accepts this. She goes home, promising to finish their discussion in the morning

Tary: “I’m just saying, if that was a ploy to get a higher salary, I’m not biting.”

Percy offers to take J.B. to the library, and she happily accepts.

The twins sneak over to Hilda’s house. Peeking in the window, Vax sees Hilda sitting on a stool in an otherwise empty room, eating a cream puff. He whispers through the earring that she seems legit and they should all feel guilty for being so unwaveringly suspicious of others. They go off to find Keeper Yennen.

Keeper Yennen comes out of his room, clearly just up from a nap. The twins ask about Hilda. He responds that he doesn’t know her well as she mostly keeps to herself, but she has lived in the town for about fifteen years. Vax and Vex now feel even more guilty about doing such an extensive background check. They than Keeper Yennen for his information.

When the twins reconvene with the others, Percy leads them all to the library. While there, he explains to J.B. that her job will be finding passages in books about interesting or unexplained things, and then marking them for future examination. Pike also tells J.B. that she is welcome to stay in her room while in Whitestone. Percy has a second bed put into Pike’s room.

After a while, Vox Machina heads into the tunnels to the ziggurat beneath Whitestone. They enter the chamber to see a year’s worth of research in piles against the walls. The research speculates about siphons related to a sphere of annihilation. The researches put various objects through the sphere, including one volunteer, a member of the pale guard, who was never heard from again.

Historically, magic users would use siphons to harness high concentrations of magic and shift them in space.

Vex nocks one of her arrows, and uses her oracle ability to see through the arrow. She looses it towards the sphere.

After a few moments, she gasps. She tells the others that she saw something, and she thinks it is another plane of existence. Percy quickly makes plans to magically preserve Vex’s memory. Meanwhile, Vex explains what she saw.

Though the orb in this plane sucks in magic, the orb out of which the arrow exited emits magic. Below the arrow was blackened, broken stonework. Jagged crags jut out of the ground. The sky was dark, as if covered up by a heavy smoke. Thunder and lightning rolled across the sky. On the horizon was a twisted black tower.

Percy grabs Vex and leads her out of the room to visit Cassandra.

While the others go to sleep, Grog heads to the library to find a book on werewolves. Using his new reading skills, he manages to find a book on lycanthropy. He pockets it and leaves.

Percy and Vex burst into Cassandra’s room and tells her the news. She calls the others in the council to inform them of an emergency meeting.

As Percy and Vex head back to their room, Vex brings up Scanlan. She admits that seeing Keyleth die in an impulsive way made her worry about the gnome bard. Percy tries to comfort her by pointing out that Scanlan has the gatestone, and Kaylie may be able to use it if something happens to him.

Eventually, the topic shifts to their new life. Each reluctantly agreeing with the other that they are growing bored staying in Whitestone. Though their lives have been quieter and safer during the past year, they both miss adventuring.

The next morning, all of Vox Machina with the exception of Tary go downstairs and see Allura. She greets them before asking to be briefed on the recent breakthrough. Vex describes again what she saw through the orb. Allura eagerly listens.

Allura says that the description sounds like the Shadowfell. She explains that it is a plane of negative energy, and a shadowed reflection of the Feywild.

As she talks, Vex notices a wedding band around Allura’s finger. When she questions it, Allura reveals that she and Kima had married in a small ceremony. She assures Vox Machina that she was going to send word, but they got distracted by the reconstruction of Emon.

Percy redirects the research in the library to the Shadowfell.

Around noon, the others realize that Tary isn’t yet awake. When they go to his room, they see that he is gone. His sheets and personal belongings are missing, but Doty is still in the room, though it is shut-down and cold.

Percy begins to search through Doty’s chest compartment looking for the book. While doing this, he notices a glass bead encased in clay under one of Doty’s arms. It pulses with a blue light and appears to be magical. Being familiar with Doty’s new design, Percy knows that this bead is not meant to be there.

Percy alerts the others over the earrings and they begin a search. He tells Keyleth to head over to examine the bead. While waiting, he finds the tome. The last written entry was about the night before.

When Pike arrives at the bakery, she sees neither Tary nor Hilda.

Vax and Keyleth arrive in the room and examine the bead. Vax notices that the bead has already been triggered. Percy pulls the bead off of Doty. The bead shatters and the light fizzles out. Doty immediately starts up again. Doty calls out Tary’s name and begins to search for him, lifting the bed and going through the room.

Keyleth attempts to scry on Tary, using Doty to find the connection. Her vision shifts out of her body, and she flies through the sky. She sees a small village, and an unconscious Taryon in a wood-paneled room, wrapped in a sheet and wearing his armor.

From outside the room, she hears a voice. A woman explains that someone has simply had too much to drink. The door to the room opens, and Hilda walks in. However, Keyleth quickly realizes that this is not Hilda, and the visage fades to reveal a woman with ink-blue skin, white hair, and pale silver eyes. She wears dark burgundy armor under a green cloak. She checks his pulse before fixing his bindings and sitting down across the room. She rummages through her bag, throwing away cream puffs, before pulling out a fletching kit and making arrows. She tells Tary’s unconscious form that he will be going home soon enough.

The vision pulls back and Keyleth finds herself in Whitestone castle once again. She immediately tells the others what she saw, speculating that the woman was a drow elf.

They discuss what they know. Vex points out that Hilda must have teleported in and out of the room. They wonder why she would have stopped before her actual destination.

Pike storms into the room, frustrated. She tells them all that Hilda never showed up for her interview. They quickly fill her in on what has occurred.

Percy pulls out a map and begins to mark all of the roadside inns. He tells the others that he will scry on Tary again when the sun begins to set, so they have an idea of direction.

While they wait, they decide to search Hilda’s house. They easily break in and begin to look through the few things in the home. Vax sees a pile of linens in the corner. Suddenly, something below it moves. He pulls the sheets away and sees Hilda, bound and gagged.

She quickly tells them that a blue-skinned woman tied her up and trapped her in her home. Vax asks if she has ever met Vox Machina before. She answers, saying that she has seen them around town, but they have never met. Vex asks if she would like to work in a bakery.

They leave Hilda’s house after untying her and making sure she is all right. Running out of options, Keyleth and Percy decide to use the scrying orb to scry on Tary.

They see Tary thrown over the back of a horse. He is fading in and out of consciousness. Percy looks around for particular plants to mark the location. Looking around, he guesses they are in east Wildmount. He sees the drow riding ahead of him in disguise.

They all realize the urgency with which they have to get to Diastock. After exhausting all other options, they transport via plants to the nearest location they know: the ruins of Draconia.

Tary wakes up on the back of a horse. A mysterious woman whispers to him that he is almost home. He is tightly bound. He calls out for Doty, asking the automaton to wake him up from his dream. When no one answers, he realizes that he is awake.

He asks the woman where she is taking him. She explains that his father offered a generous reward for his safe return home. Tary offers to double whatever he is paying her, but she laughs, saying she knows he does not have that kind of gold.

The rest of Vox Machina teleports through a tree. They head up the road in their gaseous forms.

As they travel, they eventually come across a large village centered in farmland. Vex notices a sign pointing towards the town labeled “Diastock.”

They land in the edge of treeline and turn back into their solid selves. They discuss their next step. They speculate that they arrived before Tary. Vex decides to cast locate creature while they search around the city.

Finding nothing, they head back to the treeline. Keyleth scrys on Tary once again. He is still on the back of the horse, heading up the road. She informs the others of this. They turn back into gas and travel down the road.

Eventually, Vex spots Tary and his captor. She lands and turns back into herself. The others do the same. They begin to hide, with the exception of Grog, who simply prepares for an attack, and Keyleth, who turns into a crow.

The horse goes off the path, giving them a wide berth. Percy takes a shot at the horse’s legs. The horse collapses, and Tary and the drow fall off. Vox Machina rushes over.

Vex quickly fires a brambleshot at the drow, restraining her. Vax flies over to Tary and begins to cut him loose.

The drow calls out for them to stop. She breaks out of the vines and puts her hands up.

Most of the other move forward with caution. Grog still stands in the road, writing his name in the dirt with a stick.

Tary sits up and demands to know what took everyone so long. He then asks for his toothbrush so he can clean up.

They begin to question the drow woman. She admits that her name is K’ryyn and she was contracted by Tary’s father to bring him back to Diastock. Vex asks how much Tary’s father offered her. She responds that she was to receive 5,000 gold upon deliver. Tary is insulted by this price.

They ask Tary what he wants the next move to be. Tary says that they should simply take K’ryyn’s belongings and send her on her way. He also suggests meeting with his father to demand that he no longer find others to capture Tary.

Pike and Grog suggest bringing K’ryyn with them so she can still collect on her contract. Tary is bemused by this. He asks why they are always giving people money for committing crimes against them. He cites Pike giving the Trickfoots all of her money and the current situation.

Pike points out that, if they let K’ryyn live and make sure she gets paid, she could owe them a favor. She then implies that K’ryyn may be able to find Scanlan for them. K’ryyn accepts this offer.

Seeing that he is quickly being overruled, he asks for an apology from K’ryyn. Her eyes narrow, but she apologizes for his discomfort and harm while retrieving him and explains that the 5,000 gold is her standard rate. Tary accepts this apology.

Before they finalize the deal, Vax argues that they shouldn’t spy on Scanlan. The others try to convince him, arguing that K’ryyn’s mission would be more of a wellness check than a capture, but he is unconvinced. They compromise, saying that she will owe them a favor to be decided on later.

As they enter into the town, a guard stops them. However, upon seeing Tary, he greets them with respect and lets them through.

Tary tells the others that he wants to make a grand entrance into his family home. He places himself on the broom with Vex behind him. The others are in a V behind the broom.

As they walk through, Keyleth asks Tary if there was something special about him. He is confused by the question, but answers that most things about him are special.

Keyleth: “Is there any reason a vampire would want you? Is your blood special?”

She starts looking deep into his eyes. He suggests that she not take any more big falls.

When they arrive at the Darrington home, a guard lets them through and alerts Tary’s father of their arrival. A dragonborn servant leads them inside. He leads them to Howart Darrington’s study.

When they enter the room, they see Taryon’s father standing barefoot next to the fireplace. He looks towards Taryon and smiles.

Howart: “My son.”

Tary: “Papa.”

The servant leads K’ryyn out of the room discussing her payment. When the door closes behind them, Howart says he is happy to see Taryon is well. Tary is skeptical of this, and questions K’ryyn’s methods. Howart says that K’ryyn’s unconventional kidnapping was simply because Tary was so difficult to find.

Tary: “I am literally the least hard man to find. I tell everyone my name, I wear a gold helmet, and I walk around talking about myself.”

Howart argues that Tary was far from home and faced many dangers out on the road. Tary agrees with this, but counters that adventuring was never meant to be easy.

Tary: “When I left, I promised to bring you stories of my exploits and show you what kind of a man I was. And I wrote a lot of them down in a book, but I don’t think I want to show it to you because I don’t think you deserve to see it. You never supported me as a child, and you don’t now. Financially, yes, but not as a father. The book is a diary now. It’s for me, not for you.”

Howart: “While my parenting may have been strict or distant at times, I did not reflect on nor not care for you. We have a legacy in this family to maintain–”

Tary cuts him off, saying he knows all about the family legacy. Howart argues, getting angrier and angrier before revealing that Tary took the last of their money when he left.

Howart: “Your grandfather started this, and I have done everything to maintain it. Your interests and attention could not be brought to learn this business after me. So, I turned it to Maryanne. It does not mean that I do not love you, but you have another purpose in this family, and that is why I have brought you here.”

Howart admits that they have been unable to pay the servants, and everything he has done to maintain their family has come back to him.

Tary asks where the money went. Howart admits that everything they earn from taxes goes straight to a syndicate. He reveals that he has promised Tary to their daughter, Lydia, in exchange for help with their massive debts. He tells Tary that he will be the hero of the family if he agrees.

Howart tells the story of how the family got into this position. He explains that a rival baron attempted a takeover of their lands. Not wanting to give up his position, Howart made a deal with the Myriad to have an ally to protect them from takeovers. In his haste to make the deal, Howart did not realize the full repercussions until it was too late.

The debt needs to be paid in full, or they will take the barony.

Howart tells Tary that he will not force him into a decision, but he needs to decide.

Tary: “Listen, I’m sorry I left, and I’m sorry I took all that gold. I did not know it was everything. But what you’re asking me is… I’ll need to think. I’m sorry.”

Howart: “I don’t claim to be a good man. I don’t claim to be a good father nor husband. But I can try to be better, can’t I?”

Tary leaves to see the other members of his family. His father tells him to enjoy the grounds while he can.

Vex asks more questions about the Myriad. He tells her to ask for “The Many” at The Grumpy Lily, a seedy tavern.

When they leave the room, Vex asks why Tary’s father was so much more respectful to Tary than Tary originally stated. Tary responds that he was acting different. The others (except Grog) assure him that they will find a solution other than him being married off.

They go off to look for Tary’s sister, Maryanne.

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.