"A Cycle of Vengeance" (1x58) is the second episode of the fifth chapter of Critical Role. Beset by an old foe disguised as a beloved ally, Vax'ildan fights for his life while the other members of Vox Machina fend off some assassin hirelings standing between them and their friend.
Previously on Critical Role
Vox Machina, having returned to Vasselheim, in which Vax and—to a lesser extent—Percy had their own encounters with the Raven Queen. Vax found, seemingly, some catharsis and purpose to his currently-deemed Champion position with the Raven Queen. Percy discovered he's been broken all along and left slightly slapped in the nuts, but such is the nature of your journey. But you also crafted a metal claw hand for an ally.
But as you guys finished up your business in Vasselheim, you made your way back to Whitestone. While in Whitestone, you met up with some old friends, had dinner with Allura, Kima, the Realmseer, [and] Gilmore. You guys discussed all the things that you needed to do in the future, some information that had been acquired from some of the Vestiges, as well as the nature of some of the dragons of the Conclave, and some discussion was had on the overall purpose of this recent incursion of dragon destruction, after which you all went to bed. While resting mid-night, [there was] a visit from Gilmore to Vax's room after some oil prankery was beset upon each other via Grog and Vax; Gilmore gifted a fine silk robe to Vax and requested his presence to discuss time that has passed.
Upon changing into the robe, you guys made your way down the hallway, up the stairs to one of the high balconies of the tower—the west tower—of Whitestone, upon which Gilmore turned, seemingly in some serious displeasure, and stabbed you with a dagger you had not seen was there. As the pain set in, you realized perhaps this is not the Gilmore you recall, but a shapeshifting tiger-like devil entity that you may have pissed off sometime in the past.
As combat begins between Vax'ildan and the being impersonating Gilmore, Vax attempts to grapple the creature without success, then shouts aloud and into his Earring of Whisper, "Assassins! Western tower and the courtyard! Jenga!" The other members of Vox Machina awaken upon sleepily hearing part of Vax's message, except for Scanlan, who is already awake and hears the full message.
Keyleth, Percy, and Pike each see assassins in their rooms, preparing to strike at their sleeping forms and surprised to see their prey awaken despite their stealthy entrances. Keyleth pushes her assailant out of her bedroom's window, and the party eventually kills Percy and Pike's assailants before converging on Gilmore's impersonator outside.
Meanwhile, Scanlan has cast Dimension Door to appear near Vax on the castle wall, but Vax, taking heavy damage from the creature he now recognizes to be Hotis, grapples the rakshasa and shoves him over the edge, plunging to the ground along with his victim. Hotis and Vax trade blows, but Vax ultimately suffers a poisonous strike and falls unconscious, nearing death without the benefits of his Deathwalker's Ward that still sits in his room. Enraged by the sight of his friend falling to this fiend, Scanlan lifts Mythcarver high above his head, leaping from the castle wall in an attack strengthened by the force of gravity. Hotis pulls the blade out of his torso and casts it aside. With a quick Healing Word, Scanlan brings Vax back to consciousness, and the rogue picks up Mythcarver and strikes at Hotis.
The other members of Vox Machina enter the fray with Hotis, who tries to flee. Several spell attacks against the rakshasa fail due to being cast at an insufficient level. Keyleth erects a Wall of Stone in his path, and ultimately Pike unleashes a Flame Strike that fills Hotis until his body explosively bursts into pieces.
With combat concluded, Vax tries to remove the robe given to him by Hotis (under the guise of Gilmore), but pulling at the robe feels like his skin is being pulled from his flesh. As Keyleth leaves to find Allura and the real Gilmore, Vax and the others head into the Ziggurat to enter the magic-nullification field of the floating sphere. As hoped, the robe painlessly comes off of Vax's skin.
Meanwhile, Keyleth finds Gilmore just as he slaughters a would-be assassin in his Whitestone residence. She tells Gilmore that Vax is in danger from a rakshasa (without explaining that their foes are dead), and Gilmore immediately teleports himself and the druid to Vax's location beneath Whitestone Castle. Gilmore is relieved to find Vax alive, and they share an awkward moment of doubt and remembrance of their previous conversation about their relationship. Examining the robe, Gilmore determines that it is a cursed Robe of Flaying.
Immediately following this discovery, Vax asks Gilmore if he has any insight into the Deathwalker's Ward he was wearing at the time. Gilmore discusses the armor with Vax while leading him to a cliff side and asks him if he trusts him, to which Vax replies softly, "I do." Gilmore then pushes Vax off the edge of the cliff. As Vax is falling two large black feathered wings emerge from his armor and allow him to fly around with ease. He returns to Gilmore, lifts him into the air in celebration, and thanks him for his friendship and support.
Percy gives Vax the raven head cloak clasp he made, pinning it to hold the cloak together. It smells fabulous. Percy tells Vax to talk to Keyleth now, then goes outside the city with some Hotis blood-soaked chunks and calls Galdric, telling him to find the creature, and Galdric takes off eagerly.
- Lootcrate promotional video.
- Signal Boost promotional video.
- Art Gallery
Vax'ildans sleep is troubled by nightmares and he fails to get either a long or a short rest. In the morning, Vex'ahlia comes to his room to apologize for being upset with him the previous night. He asks her to get Allura, and when they come back, he is very ill indeed. The rest of Vox Machina gathers around with suggestions and ideas, but nothing works until Keyleth and Pike cast Greater Restoration, curing him of a curse apparently left by the raskshasa. Scanlan is still reading his book at every chance, but has gotten a night's rest.
A guard calls them all downstairs. Galdric has arrived, carrying a dead body which he drops at their feet. Searching it, they find 320 gold pieces, six vials of poison, and a glass sphere. Now that Vax is wearing the Raven Queen's armor, Galdric permits him to scritch him before disappearing back into the forest. Allura is able to Identify the sphere as a Scrying Eye.
This reminds Allura that they, too, are vulnerable to Scrying, and she announces she is going to get with Gilmore to ward Whitestone against magical intrusions amd blanket it in illusion. She asks Pike to stay and help them, along with Keeper Yennen. Vox Machina gives Pike one of the Gate Stones so she can join them easily. The rest of the party decides to head into the Feywild the next morning.
Keyleth takes Pike for a walk and they discuss their mutual confusion and Pike's relationship with Sarenrae. Pike suggests Keyleth get "more comfortable" with Vax, and Keyleth confesses her fear of a relationship. Scanlan joins them and Keyleth leaves, allowing Scanlan to bring up his earlier proposal of marriage to Pike. He is rescinding it, saying that he now realizes he wants to get to know Pike as a person, not as an object of adoration. They agree to be friends. However, Scanlan hopefully tells her that if she loves someone, she should tell them and not hide it. She should be brave enough to admit her feelings. Pike thanks him for the advice.
Meanwhile, Vex reminds Percy of her request to modify her broom, and he takes it from her to finish the changes before they leave in the morning. Scanlan goes to see Vex and gives her the pointed black hat he bought earlier, telling her she has to wear it every time she flies on her broom. The party goes drinking, joined later by Percy proudly showing off the modified broom, which he has christened "Death from Above". Vex is thrilled, and they try it out by throwing a chicken which Vex shoots out of the air. Vax tells Pike she's an inspiration to him and says goodbye. He is replaced by Percy, who hands her a letter listing every terrible thing he has going on in the city right now, plus some people that if she needs particular things she can talk to, ten things to see in the city that might be nice, and his ten favorite books in the library, in case she gets bored. In return, she gives him a necklace which she hangs around his neck and tells him not to remove. Vex surreptitiously kicks Grog, who starts a tavern brawl in which he has a glorious time. As the evening comes to a close, they head back to Whitestone Castle and Grog and Vex also say their goodbyes to Pike.
In the morning, they gather and say farewell to those staying behind: Cassandra, Allura, Gilmore, and Pike. The party forms a circle, linking hands, and Keyleth casts Plane Shift, taking them to the pool in the Feywild where very early in Vox Machina's adventures, Grog had a close encounter with a nymph.
- Percival de Rolo
- Scanlan Shorthalt
- Grog Strongjaw
- Pike Trickfoot
- Six unnamed assassins from the Clasp in Stilben in the rooms of Keyleth, Percy, and Pike
- One of them had an elven appearance.
- All six were killed in this episode.
- Unnamed patron at a tavern
- Chicken meal stolen for Vex's target practice and burned by Keyleth.
- Attacked by Grog, starting a tavern-wide food fight.
- Cassandra de Rolo
- Shaun Gilmore
- Zahra Hydris (actor not present; controlled by the DM)
- Kashaw Vesh (actor not present; controlled by the DM)
- Lady Kima of Vord
- Allura Vysoren
|Relinquished||1||Healing potion||Percy||Environment||Dropped on ground for Pike, not used.|
|Transferred||1||Robe of Flaying||Vax'ildan||Bag of Holding||Given by Hotis as a means of parting Vax from his weaponry in the previous episode.|
|Acquired||6||Vial of poison||Assassin corpse||Vax'ildan|
|Acquired||1||Scrying Eye||Assassin corpse||Vex'ahlia|
|Relenquished||1||Pointy hat||Scanlan||Vex'ahlia||As part of his deal with Vex when teaching her how to fly the broom, Scanlan gives her the pointy, witch-like hat that he bought from the Sore Socket Haberdashery in "Duskmeadow" (1x57) with instructions to wear it while flying on the broom.|
|Transferred||1||Broom of flying||Vex'ahlia||Percy||Given to Percy for tinkering.|
|Converted||1||Broom of flying||Percy||Vex'ahlia||Percy upgrades Vex'ahlia's flying broom with foot stabilizers and an Elvish inscription of its new name, Death from Above|
- Vax: Assassins! Western tower and the courtyard! Jenga!
- Keyleth: I didn't think about it until we were in Scanlan's spa the other day, and you said you were really confused, and I'm really confused, and I didn't know you were confused because I feel like if I knew you were confused, then I wouldn't feel so bad about being confused because we're confused together.
Pike: I feel confused... all the time.
Keyleth: Do you? I do, too!
Pike: Yes! Just in a perpetual state of confusion.
- Scanlan: I think I've always been in love with the idea of you. You know, you're so perfect and beautiful and smart and --
Pike: It was the hairy shoulders, wasn't it?
Scanlan: But I don't want to love an idea. I want to love a girl. And I think in all of this time of pining after you, I forgot to just hang out with you and know you as a person, and I'm sorry for that.