SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 99 (obviously).  Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
Our recap of Episode 98 can be found here.

Vox Machina meets an old friend.

Previously on Critical Role

Taryon, still reeling from his father’s admission of their family poverty, sought out Korshad and The Many to erase the family debt without arranged marriages. After some negotiation, Korshad tells them that the Darringtons can keep their family estate, but must give up their rights to the surrounding lands. This would be in exchange for clearing mines owned by The Many and a favor from Vox Machina. They accept these terms, and clear the mines of a monstrous, cherubic being inside before shooting out of the chasm towards the night sky.

Now

As they hover in the air above the chasm, Tary asks if they can set a trap or disguise the entrance of the caves below. He explains that, now that they have done what the Myriad has asked, they could use a bargaining chip. However, they have not entirely completed their mission. There are still dozens of ankhegs crawling around the mines.

Keyleth suggests making a lot of noise to bring the ankhegs closer to them. Once they are in a swarm, Keyleth offers to throw down fireballs.

The others fly down and begin to make noise and kill the ankhegs. Over the next few minutes, they kill most of the creatures, but send a few scurrying back into the surrounding tunnels.

They begin to argue about their next step. They suggest options like poison and collapsing the tunnels to eliminate the remaining monsters. While this is happening, however, Pike casts earthquake, destroying one of the remaining towers and filling in the sinkhole.

The ankhegs emerge on the surface. Pike casts firestorm, successfully killing many more. The remaining ankhegs scatter into the forest.

After completing their mission, they return to The Grumpy Lily. Again, they are lead to the secret bar beneath the tavern.

Korshad’s eyes are already on them as they enter the room. Grog quickly looks around for Camilla, but she is no longer there, much to his dismay.

They sit down across from Korshad. He comments on their swift delivery of cleansing the mine. He brings out a woman with reddish brown skin and long curly hair. She sits next to him. He asks her if the deed is done. She places five stones marked with runes on the table in front of her. Her eyes go white as she searches for the answer to his question. She tells him that they have rid the mine of all of the monsters, but it is also collapsed. Korshad, satisfied with her answer, sends her back.

He hands over the deed to the Darrington Estate to Tary. It is signed in his name. However, Tary asks for one last favor from Korshad. He asks that a nearby farm be left to the family as well so they can have food in the winter. Feeling generous, Korshad agrees to this. Tary tries to push his luck, asking for 50,000 gold so his family can continue to maintain their lifestyle.

He offers Keyleth’s services in uncovering the mine to do this. Korshad’s patience, however, has quickly run out. He tells Tary that they will have to work for their money and he warns him to never have the Darringtons ask for another favor, or else The Many will take back the estate.

Their conversation with Korshad completed, they leave before Korshad’s lackeys turn hostile. They return to the Darrington estate, which is now in Tary’s name.

They set up pillows and blankets in the common area of the home while Tary retreats to his childhood bedroom. He opens the door and a swell of memories hits him as he takes in the books and mementos from his childhood room. He sees test parts of the original Doty scattered around the room. He takes the robotic hand and goes to sleep with it.

The next morning, the servants prepare a small breakfast for Tary and the rest of Vox Machina. After a while, Maryanne comes down, surprised to see that they have company. Tary asks that she grab their parents, for he is about to start a family meeting.

When all the Darringtons arrive, Tary asks that Vox Machina be allowed to stay, as his announcement concerns them as well.

He goes on to explain to his father the deal Vox Machina made with Korshad. He says that he had to give up the various properties in the barony, but they are allowed to keep the home and the nearby farmhouse. His father’s face tightens with anger, but he stays silent until Tary finishes explaining. Tary goes on to say that he will stop adventuring, and they will move into the farmhouse as a family. The estate will be the base of operations for a non-profit to help those in need.

When Tary finishes, his father throws a chair across the room in anger. He shouts that Tary has given away all that he has worked for. Tary retorts that Howart hasn’t had possession of these things for a long time. He explains that the past year was not simply about adventuring and having fun, but also about learning about the world and himself. Things, he claims, he never learned living at home.

Tary: “From this day forth, I’m going to create a home–my home–that values and respects the opinions of each family member, that cares for one another, where we stick up for one another and help each other through hard times, and not just rule by decree. If you don’t want to be a part of this, that’s fine. You can leave my house. But I want you to stay.”

He goes on to add his vision of having a group of adventurers bearing the Darrington name promoting goodness, but he stops before he gets carried away. Vex quickly adds that part of their agreement with Korshad was that no one would know that giving up their land was not by choice.

Howart stands in shock for a moment. Maria tries to comfort him, but he pulls away. He slams his fists into the table again and again until they are bloodied and bruised.

Howart: “I lost everything. I did this to us. I’m sorry.”

He quickly leaves the room.

After a while, Maryanne summons Vox Machina to her father’s study. Reluctantly, he admits, though not in so many words, that Taryon made the right call for the family. Vox Machina gives him words of reassurance and a warning to not squander his second chance.

As they exit the room, they ask Tary if he really plans to stay in Wildmount. He sadly replies that he will be returning with them to gather his things, but he must now stay with his family. Through their sadness for losing their friend, they agree that he must do what is best for himself and his family. This comes with the caveat that he frequently visit, however.

Keyleth relates to Tary, admitting that she has a duty to her people. This throws the conversation into chaos. Taryon shirks responsibility, saying that he had no idea of Keyleth’s revelation.

Percy puts a stop to the conversation until they have all had some rest and food.

Pike: “We’re just hungry! Everyone needs to calm down!”

Before they leave for Whitestone, Tary says goodbye to his mother. While speaking with her, he asks if she would lead his group of adventurers. At first she is reluctant, but, after Tary’s reassurance, she happily agrees to consider his offer while he gathers his things in Whitestone.

When they arrive back in the city, they see that an elaborate, colorful market has been set up in the middle of the town.

Percy asks a passing guard what all the fuss is about. He explains that the new trade routes have brought many traveling merchants. Keyleth excitedly declares that it is a farmer’s market. Percy dismisses the guard.

A mustachioed merchant calls out to them, recognizing them as the famous Vox Machina. He calls out to them, trying to sell his wares. This catches the attention of another individual at the market: a barbarian bard with ducks emblazoned on his armor who is clearly part orc. He rushes over to them, quickly and confusingly asking for their help.

Vex asks for his name. He tells her that it is Lionel Gayheart, though most people call him Chod because that is his real name. Through some coaxing, they get the full story out of Lionel. He asks if they have heard of the Meat Man.

Thinking that he could be referring to Scanlan, they all begin to ask questions. He explains that The Meat Man is his boss, though it is unclear if he is referring to Scanlan or not.

He describes his job as more or less The Meat Man’s muscle. He explains that he roughs out people who don’t pay up and works as an occasional bouncer, but he insists that The Meat Man is a good guy. After a bit more conversation, they go to see The Meat Man.

Lionel leads them into an abandoned tavern. He tells them that they can help themselves to the mutton in the drawers. They take this as an invitation to search the place. They find mutton, but not much else.

Vex begins to call out for Scanlan. An imposing figure, much larger than a gnome, begins to come down the stairs. He begins to explain why they have been summoned.

He explains that he is a traveling merchant, and he was interested in Whitestone due to its reputation as an emerging metropolitan center. Percy was the other attractive feature about the city. He offers information in exchange for access to his gun designs. The information, he reveals, is of a pyramid in Marquet. The others speculate that this could be another ziggurat. Like they suspected, The Meat Man says he came across an ally that told of a similar structure with a dark orb beneath Whitestone. Through his description, they realize he is referring to Allura.

They ask about his name, and they explain that the current meeting is only happening because they assumed they were meeting someone else. He says that he did come across another Meat Man, and, despite his power and charisma, he ended up chained in the deepest prison of Ank’Harel.

The Meat Man tries to appeal to their sense of heroism by insisting that the information gained by handing over the designs could help save the world. Percy is resolute in his stance on copyright, however, and he implies that The Meat Man may soon no longer be welcome to do business in Whitestone.

The Meat Man bids them a good day. He tells Lionel to follow him, and he leaves the room. Vex follows after him. She drops to her knees and reaches out to hug around The Meat Man’s legs. She breaks through the illusion, and Scanlan is in her arms.

Scanlan: “Not here!”

Lionel begins to panic upon seeing the illusion shattered. Scanlan tells him not to worry and to go back inside the tavern. Lionel reluctantly goes back inside.

Scanlan pulls Vex further into the ally behind the tavern. When they are obscured by shadows, he pulls off his hat of disguise and reveals his true form to Vex. He is much tanner now, with a scar over one eye that matches his illusion. His clothing is also different now, as he is dressed in Marquesian fashion.

He explains that he has spent much of his time in Marquet, and he is The Meat Man there now.

Scanlan: “Vex, there will be a time to explain, but right now I’m casting modify memory on you.”

Vex, in a panic and not wanting to forget, tries to grab him to prevent the spell from happening. However, she trips and both she and Scanlan tumble to the ground. Scanlan tries to quickly tell her that he must keep up appearances, but the others are already out the door to see what the fuss is about.

Upon seeing Scanlan, they rush out. He puts the hat back on, but not before being mauled by hugs.

At this point, Lionel’s curiosity gets the best of him, and he peeks into the alleyway. There, he sees his boss seemingly getting attacked by the members of Vox Machina. In an attempt to defend his boss, he sturdies his stance, grounding himself, and begins to flap his armor and angrily honk at Vox Machina.

Vox Machina aren’t sure if they’re supposed to be frightened or not of the very odd display made by the half orc in front of them. Scanlan calls off Lionel, explaining that they pose no threat. Keyleth, ignoring the secrecy required for the moment, asks why Scanlan needed Percy’s gun designs. He sighs, cover blown, and takes off his hat.

Lionel suddenly sees his boss transformed into a gnome. He gasps and wets himself from stress. Scanlan quickly reassures him that, though his form may have been an illusion, the money he pays is very real. Lionel considers this and quickly gets over his shock.

Keyleth touches Lionel’s face and explains that she needs him to be coherent for a while. She casts enhance ability, making him temporarily wiser to the ways of the world.

They go inside to hear Scanlan’s explanation of where he has been for the past year.

He explains that he did what gnomes do and went into the woods. Pike rejects this accusation, but quickly quiets down. He goes on to say that, for the first few months, he was only 20 miles or so outside of Whitestone. He and Kaylee sang songs and met interesting people. And, eventually, they moved to Marquet. Through a series of events, he became one of the three big crime bosses in Ank’Harel, sharing the moniker with his daughter.

He then instructs Lionel to tell them what he saw at the ziggurat.

Lionel explains that he went with several of Scanlan’s hired lackeys to investigate a series of murders that were not committed by any of the three crime families. While investigating, Lionel came across a ziggurat with a dark orb inside. He saw several men offering treasures and animals that would get sucked up inside. To his horror, he even saw one of the men go inside, never to come out.

Keyleth asks Tary why he needed Percy’s designs. He sighs and admits to stealing one of Percy’s pistols. He then explains that he ran out of ammunition for it, and he needed more.

He is also asked why he came all the way across an ocean just to tell them that there is another orb. He says that it wasn’t an issue, but Lionel chimes in that the journey took several weeks. Though he is hard to read, the others can guess his motives.

He tells them that Kaylie has an uncanny ability to tell when he is lying. One night, he was telling her a falsified story from his past when she demanded to know the truth. He was, for once, honest with her. He told her everything, good and bad. He told her about the many women in his life, and the other children he knew about, and the ones that he didn’t. Furious with her father, she left. But, before dawn the next day, she came back. Then, in the morning, she simply asked what was for breakfast.

From this, he learned that everyone is deeply flawed, but your family are the ones who stick by you through their flaws and your own. He recognizes that each member of Vox Machina is deeply flawed, but they are still his family.

Percy loads up a small bag with ammunition for Scanlan’s pistol.

Percy: “What’s Kaylie’s mother’s name?”

Scanlan, unable to recall the name (Sybil), is silent.

He tosses the bag at the gnome.

Percy: “Dick.”

He walks out of the tavern.

Pike and Keyleth follow after him.

The twins assure Scanlan that the others will come around.

Vax: “All this last year, I’ve known we would see you again.”

Vex: “He’s full of shit. He totally said that you were never coming back, but I knew.”

Vax: “It’s good to see you again.”

Scanlan asks them to go with him to Ank’Harel to investigate the orb. He promises the best in accommodations. And, if they choose to do so, they can depart without him at the end of the adventure. The twins agree, but, when Scanlan asks Grog his thoughts, he angrily leaves the room.

Eventually, Lionel joins the others at a nearby pub while Scanlan wallows at the tavern.

As they sit, Grog asks Lionel how strong he is. Lionel replies that he doesn’t know. Grog then asks how long Lionel has known Scanlan, but, again, he doesn’t know. As he tries to figure it out, Grog punches him in the face from across the table.

Lionel’s vision goes white as Grog clocks him. He feels one of his teeth loosen in the punch. Rather than being angry, however, he is simply impressed. He asks Grog to teach him how to fight. Grog goes into a rage.

Tary, recognizing the similarities between this and his own initiation, quickly gives Lionel a swift step draught.

Grog stands up from the table and takes it in his hands. He puts it up above his head and smashes it down onto Lionel. Lionel, bloodied, but still unphased by the situation, runs up to Grog and punches him. He then runs behind the goliath and puts him in a headlock. Grog backs up into a wall in an attempt to dislodge the half-orc.

Lionel manages to hold on even as Grog tries to elbow him in the ribs. Like the mighty duck, the attacks bounce off the half-orc.

Feeling bold, Lionel tries to flip over Grog and pull the goliath over his shoulder to smash his head into the ground.

While he manages to flip over Grog, he is unable to move him. Unsure of how to complete his attack, he starts to wiggle in an attempt to tickle Grog.

Grog pushes him away, but is unable to do anything else before Lionel punches him. Lionel then steps back for a second to do a “wave kick,” something of his own invention, which hits Grog in the crotch.

Grog is very confused about the shimmying that preceded the punch and kick to the groin. Rather than continue the fight, he turns and walks away. Lionel tells the others how much fun he had and asks if anyone else wants to fight. Seeing how hurt Grog is, Lionel asks if the goliath will be all right. Percy replies that he will be eventually.

The server gives Lionel his glass of chocolate milk. Before he can take a drink, Pike punches him in the face.

Lionel: “That was awesome.”

He asks for another chocolate milk to replace the one splatted across the floor. Pike finishes her ale and leaves.

Percy begins making a pile of money for the broken furniture, glassware, and drinks.

Lionel asks if anyone else is going to hit him before he can enjoy his chocolate milk. Percy tells him that that part is over.

As he drinks, Lionel begins to talk about his recent revelation about his boss. He tells them that, though he has been lied to, Scanlan has always had his back, and he thinks the others should be nice to him due to his genuine intentions.

Percy: “That’s the problem, he always has your back until he doesn’t.”

Lionel tells the others how cool he thinks they are. He tells them that he doesn’t remember when he was baby, but he bets they do. Tary tells him that no one remembers when they were babies, and Lionel tells his first memory and, in turn, explains his duck motif.

He tells them that he does not know if he has a mother or father. He simply woke up one day in a desert oasis, surrounded by ducks. Since then, they have given him strength and wisdom. Keyleth wonders to herself if he is just confusing ducks with vultures.

He continues his story. After spending time in the desert, he traveled to Ank’Harel where he was frequently exploited for his strength. Scanlan, he explains, was the only one who was kind to him and treated him like family.

He also adds that they are the first ones to ask him so many questions about his life. Keyleth and Percy tell him that they like him very much. Keyleth tries to teach him boulder, parchment, shears, but he misunderstands and punches her in the face.

Meanwhile, the twins lounge under the Sun Tree, sharing Vax’s flask. They discuss ways to peacefully reunite the group with Scanlan. Vex says that she has forgiven Scanlan because they all have secrets. Vax isn’t sure what she means by this. Vax admits that he hasn’t forgiven Scanlan yet, but he also wants him back.

They see Grog storm out of the tavern. They call over to him, but he simply spells the word “cat” and leaves. Pike follows him shortly after. They call over to her, but she insists that everything is fine.

They go into the tavern just in time to see Lionel punch Keyleth. She alters self to make her fist into a earth elemental hand, and yells “boulder” before backhanding him. Percy explains to the twins that they are bonding.

As Percy begins to walk away, Lionel steals a bullet from him.

Lionel and Keyleth fight for a while, punching and using their abilities on each other, laughing all the while.

Percy tries to come up behind him and knock him out with a burst of lightning, but Lionel is far too strong.

Lionel: “Haha. That tickled. I’m going to go to bed, you guys.”

He walks out of the tavern.

Tary considers Lionel for his brigade. He sadly confirms again that he will be leaving for Wildmount after gathering his things.

They walk back to the castle, they call Scanlan over their earrings. They advise him to talk to Grog and Pike, who have taken his departure and subsequent return very hard.

Lionel proudly walks into the tavern and gives Scanlan the bullet he stole from Percy. Scanlan tells him that he truly is his best man.

Lionel tells him he can commune with ducks in Whitestone to learn up to three facts. He concentrates on his childhood memories of the ducks in the desert oasis. A duck wonders into the tavern and quacks at them.

First, he asks if they get bad storms in Whitestone. The duck quacks back that it rains frequently. Lionel warns Scanlan not to leave without an umbrella.

He then asks if there are any pyramids in the city. The duck tells Lionel about the ziggurat hidden beneath the city. Scanlan is amazed that the ducks know this.

Scanlan asks Lionel to ask the duck if Vox Machina has been happy. The duck looks around and says that they didn’t look happy when they left the tavern. Lionel tells Scanlan that they probably wasted the last question.

Lionel says goodbye to the duck, and it flies away. Scanlan promises to buy him some ducks when they get back to Ank’Harel.

Scanlan goes to Whitestone castle. He knocks on Grog’s door. When Scanlan identifies himself, Grog refuses to answer. Scanlan dimension doors in. Grog leaves the room.

Scanlan tries Pike next. She opens the door.

Scanlan: “I know that we haven’t seen each other in a while, and we left on weird terms, and everything that’s happened between us… But I want you to know that I held no ill will towards you. And I thank you for agreeing to my request a while ago to look after Kaylie if I were to fall. And I’m glad it didn’t come to that, but it’s an honor to know that you even considered it.”

She slaps Scanlan.

Pike asks if he remembers what he said before he left. She reminds him that he accused them of keeping him alive through “weird fucking magic.” She tells him that she has devoted her life to divinity and brought him back to be with Kaylie so she would not have to fulfill her promise.

Scanlan admits that he was not a good friend nor teammate, but he tells her that he is happy with who he is now. He hopes that someday she will meet him as he is now. He says that he is happy knowing his daughter and being comfortable with himself. He says now, he is not trying to make everyone happy. He regrets that she met him in the past and not the present. She says that perhaps they will meet again one day. They bid each other a good night.

Scanlan phones Vex over the earrings to say that his plan did not work. She tries to reassure him that these things take time. The rest of them (including Tary) chime in that they will go to Ank’Harel for one final adventure.

Scanlan leaves the rock Grog gave him outside of the goliath’s door.

At morning light, they meet with Scanlan and Lionel and begin their journey to Ank’Harel. Pike passes Scanlan a bag of shorties.

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.