"A Show of Scrutiny" (2x02) is the second episode of the first chapter of the second campaign for Critical Role.
Previously on Critical Role
"Last we left off, our slowly gathering band of adventurers had begun to have their stories intertwine in the city of Trostenwald in the southern reaches of Western Wynandir on the continent of Wildemount.
"Here we had Nott and Caleb, who had been traveling southward, coming and meeting in the center of the tavern in the Nestled Nook Inn with Jester, Beauregard, and Fjord. Upon which they were invited to a nearby carnival that had begun preparing for the performances that evening, in which they met Yasha and Molly.
"After swapping swapping some stories, earning and losing some gold, they began to gather on the outskirts of the Ustaloch, the lake right on the eastern edge of Trostenwald, for the opening performance of the Fletching and Moondrop Traveling Carnival of Curiosities.
"Upon entering the tent, they saw a number of performances. However, during a musical performance by a young Dwarven girl, whose voice was [a] magical, enchanting experience, a member of the audience rose and began to transform into a terrible undead creature that began to lash out, killing another member of the audience, who became one of these creatures. [The party], grabbing [their] weapons from Yasha, who had been keeping them stashed away, leaped into the fray, slaughtered both of these terrible beasts just in time for the Crown's Guard to rush in and ask what the hell happened.
"One of the guards was escorted outside of the tent by Yasha, who was going to show him where this young Dwarven girl was currently resting, and upon being led astray, she ran away to the distant hills and vanished."
After Yasha's escape, the guard she tricked rushes into the carnival tent and tells the Watchmaster what has happened. The Watchmaster reprimands the guard and sends him with several others to investigate. The Watchmaster then orders the remaining guard to shackle the remaining members of the troupe. The Watchmaster tells the group they are not to leave Trostenwald until the investigation is complete. Caleb tries to vouch for Molly but the Watchmaster won't hear of it. The Watchmaster offers to take them to the Stockade to which they decline.
Caleb sends Frumpkin to scout ahead as Fjord, Jester, Nott, and Caleb all follow the Crown's Guard back to the Stockade. Beauregard circles back to try and find Toya, the dwarven singer from the carnival's show. Caleb looks through Frumpkin's eyes while Nott leads him ahead. As Beauregard sneaks behind the tent she see the guard pulling the rest of the performers into a group. Beau sees Toya being led out with the devil toad, Kylre.
Beau makes a distraction by hitting a horse on the buttocks. Beau, using her distraction, moves toward the girl and the devil toad. One of the guards out of the corner of his eye sees Beau moving up behind the pair. While trying to usher the girl and the beast away, the guards take Beau into their custody and plan to bring her to the Stockade.
Beau tries and fails to disable the guards and realizes she is in fairly heavy bonds. Beau and the members of the carnival are taken to the stockade, an unaesthetic but defensible building. The group are lead in toward an office where Norda, the Lawmaster, is sending a piece of parchment by foot messenger. The Watchmaster brings forth the arrested individuals and explains to the law keeper what has occurred and why they were arrested. The Lawmaster introduces herself and accuses the carnival of killing two Trostenwald citizens. Jester corrects her by saying that the beasts who slayed the civilians were not part of the show.
Gustav Fletching, the carnival master, pleas with the Lawmaster, claiming that he was the only one who should be held responsible. Bo tries to protest but is put down by Gustav. Molly corroborates Gustav's story flawlessly. The master sends both Bo and Gustav to the cells below the building. The Lawmaster asks the party where they are staying and Jester is very excited to be "a group, you guys." The Lawmaster dismisses them and has the guard escort them to the street.
Caleb calls back Frumpkin and pulls Nott toward the inn. Molly makes sure the group knows that he owes them nothing. Jester asks about Toya to which Molly responds by saying that "it is just a show". Fjord asks about Kylre. Beau is pulled up to the stockade and pleads for help as she passes the other group. Molly "stands guard" outside of the stockade as the rest of the group go to help Beau. Beau is taken straight past the office and down to the basement. The group is stopped by a guard and are told to exit after they see Beau off to her cell.
Jester and Beau talk about keeping a low profile before going down to the basement. The smell is quite offensive and Jester remarks that "it smells like Caleb down here." Beau is put into her cell and they explain why she isn't allowed to see the Lawmaster. Beau tries to explain her escape attempt by calling it a spasm. The guards don't buy it and carry her off to her cell. The jailer tells the group to come back in the morning.
The group negotiates a conversation between Beau and the Lawmaster. Fjord defends Beau by saying she was reacting to the situation because something similar had happened to her little sister. Jester misunderstands and thinks that Fjord is trying to say that Toya is Beau's adopted sister. Beau begins to play along not fully understanding. The Lawmaster tells Beau that her "sister" is under investigation. Beau tries to say she is willing to help by showing her wounds from the battle. This causes the Lawmaster to worry about whether Beau is infected. The jail guard states that the injury is just bludgeoning. In frustration of the late hour, Norda puts the group at the jail under house arrest at the Nestled Nook Inn until the investigation is over.
Back at the Inn
The group returns to the Nestled Nook Inn and rest of the group ask Molly if he had witnessed another incident in his travels with the carnival like the monster's transformation. Molly says that in thousands of shows nothing like it had happened. They all arrive at the Inn and start looking for Nott and Caleb.
Caleb and Nott have meanwhile returned to their room and are discussing the current situation. Caleb had come to this town in hopes of finding more people to join up with but he does not trust the rest of the group. Nott suggests using the group to try and distract the town until they can escape and move on. They decide to continue to act as part of the group until they are able to make a plan.
The two groups meet up and begin getting to know each other a bit, over some drinks. Fjord asks what Caleb and Nott were doing in the town, to which Caleb says that they were trying to relax from their travels and resupply. Jester shows a "etching" she made in the table and the rest of the group discuss where they are from. Nott reveals that her and Caleb have been having a bit of bad luck, because she has sticky fingers and "loves trinkets". She had collections of "sticks" and "rocks", which were actually canes and rings/necklaces, that were confiscated from her when they were imprisoned recently. Nott tries to demonstrate her pick-pocketing skills but ends up failing horribly.
Caleb shows off his transmutation magic by having Nott use a pot that allows Nott to turn a copper into a silver. Nott tries to sell the pot for five gold, but ends up selling it for one gold. After this, Nott asks Beau how she knows how to speak Halfling. Beau says that where she grew up, Kamordah, has a very large number of Halflings that dealt with her parents' winery. She was taught the language to make sure she could keep the books for her parents. Fjord asks for a bigger display of Caleb's power, but Jester misinterprets and use Thaumaturgy to open all the windows in the inn. Caleb then has Nott stand on the table and begins creating globs of light and the globs form into Nott's shape and combine with her turning Nott into the "Gob Light".
Fjord reveals that most of his power has been a recent occurrence for him, but when Beau asks about what happened he sidesteps the question. He states that Jester and him were from Port Damali and they had met Beau only a few days ago. Fjord had seen Jester's magic before they had started traveling. Caleb also offers during this conversation to help Fjord with learning to use his powers.
Beau asks for somebody to check her wounds and Jester begins poking at it with the blunt end of a fork. She sees pus coming out but it was an illusion by the Traveler, her deity. At this point everyone decides to go to bed, and Jester makes some caricature drawings of certain things she saw over the day.
Leading an Investigation
In the morning, Fjord sees Molly praying over his swords and asks what he is doing. Molly creates a complicated lie about his past that Fjord sees through easily. Everyone decides to try and escape the inn to investigate what happened. After realizing that Caleb and Nott are not under house arrest, the rest of the group uses disguise kits and illusions to slip past the guards. One group at a time, they slip past the guard in front of the tavern and begin their investigation.
The group wonders who the old man may have been. Molly suggests that they go to the local market to find out any rumors about him. They find out that his name was Enon Brinjay, a retired man in his eighties who helped at the docks. Enon frequented a pub called The Olde Mudhole. Fjord notes that this is the second time that their group had dealt with the Ustaloch. Fjord, Jester, and Beau had fought a giant water snake that was terrorizing the townsfolk. Jester had almost died during this fight.
The group goes to The Olde Mudhole and meet Vosna the bartender. Over drinks they discuss the fate of Enon; the bartender is saddened by the death, but mostly because he lost a patron. He notes that Enon came in the day before, but he was in good health. He also noted that he did a bit of work at the docks. The group find very little else at the pub.
Caleb notes the book that Vosna is reading, a Zemnian romance called The Rosed Embrace, and starts a conversation about the author. Caleb fakes having read one of the authors earlier works. He then asks about any places to pick up a book, and finds out about a place called Burnished Biblos run by a man named Oglin.
Molly sits down with a solitaire player in the bar and tries to start a game with him. The man refuses because he "[doesn't] play with devils". Molly then asks about Enon and the solitaire player says that Enon always had his head in the clouds and that the solitaire player warned him not to go to the carnival. The man seems angry at the carnival and at Molly.
Beau begins to point out how the Crown's Guard could have set up the whole attack to make the carnival a patsy for something sinister. The group agrees that could be an option, but they decide it will be easier to continue looking at the docks for more information in the Dock Ward.
- Brian Foster reveals the code word for the giveaway to be "Carnival"
- Painter's Guild is returning for a second season to Alpha on January 8th
- Thrashtopia: Adulting in the Apocolypse - Break Ups
- Chronicles of Exandria Vol. 1 advertisement
- How To Play - Arcane Academy
- Fanart Gallery
- Winner of the giveaway is AvelineRayne
Dead-Ends and "Shopping"
The investigation picks up with the group arriving at the docks. With only a few minutes of illusion left, Jester and Beau suggest asking Reynaldo, the fisherman, about Enon. They find him at his home skinning the giant snake that Beau killed. A bit confused about who they are, given their disguises, Reynaldo greets the group. Beau and Fjord drop their disguises in order to talk to him. Fjord asks if any other creatures or zombies had been seen around the docks. Reynaldo states that other than a couple of big snakes that come to shore every so often, nothing strange has happened in the area.
Reynaldo knew Enon from the docks, but he was unaware of the fact that he was turned into a zombie. The group continues to ask about Enon, but Reynaldo doesn't know anything more about him. Beau asks about how Reynaldo's daughter is doing after the attack; Reynaldo said she is doing well.
The group begins to realize that Enon may have just been a random victim. All of the party except Caleb and Nott head back to the inn to avoid suspicion. Molly climbs up to the rooms from behind the inn and lets down rope for the rest of the group.
Caleb and Nott have no further luck on the docks and decide to go book shopping at "The Burnished Biblios". They are surprised to discover that the shop is only about the size of a medium-sized shed. Caleb knocks on the door and is greeted by Oglin Hornsblower, the crotchety old gnome who owns the "shop". Caleb and Nott discover that the book shop is actually more of a hoard with all kinds of books, baubles, and trinkets. Caleb and Nott are both thrilled about this shop for differing reasons.
Caleb looks for books while Nott looks for baubles to steal. Caleb discovers two books: one is an arcane notebook written in a strange language and the other is a Zemnian book called "The Fiends of Folklore". Oglin offers the books for a total of 13 gold pieces. Caleb tries to convince him to trade Frumpkin for the books, but Oglin attacks the cat in fear. Caleb asks Oglin to hold the books for him until he can get the money to pay for them. Meanwhile Nott steals a brass baby bottle and "trades" her current flask for a platinum flask, all without being detected.
Back at the inn, Jester and Beau have two guards knock at their door. Jester tells them that she is naked as a way to make them wait. Beau and Jester then greet the guards, Jonas and Lucas, and are told that they are not needed for the investigation today. The guards then go to Fjord and Molly's room to give them the same message, but Fjord slams the door as soon as they state the investigation is ongoing.
The group meet back up at the tavern and Beau tries to encourage everyone by the fact that the lack of information is its own clue. Nott then states that she saw some hooded figures at night. Beau also notes that the fact that no one is talking about this attack is also kind of strange. The group then decide to go out at night to see if they can discover anything more.
Beau tries to create an early warning system for their night trip, but instead Caleb uses a magical silver thread and wraps it around the rooms. The thread will reveal if anyone enters the warded rooms. They then head out into the night. The group sneaks to where the hooded figures were seen near a shop called "Natural Remedies". On the way, Nott asks Jester if she and Fjord are romantically connected, but Jester says they are just friends. The group wait for a couple hours, but nothing happens.
The group finally decide to go back to the carnival and ask Toya and the rest of the crew about the attack.
Return to the Carnival
As the group heads to the carnival, they see two Crown's Guards approaching. Fjord and Caleb both turn themselves into Crown's Guard using Disguise Self, while the rest of the group try to hide. Nott, unsure where to hide, instead jumps on Caleb and feigns that she is attacking him. This almost backfires on her as the approaching guards immediately rush to help the "beleaguered guard". Luckily Nott dodges a stab from one off the guards and Caleb hits Nott in the face and pushes her against a wall. Caleb tells the other guards that he has the situation under control. Caleb states that the rest of the group is being brought to jail. The guards seem convinced and a bit disappointed, but move on.
The group continues on to the edge of the carnival grounds. Fjord and Caleb decide to distract the King's Guards posted at the carnival while the rest of the group goes to talk to the circus hands. Fjord greets the guard at the entrance to the carnival, he strikes up a conversation with the guard and asks if the guard had seen anything interesting because Caleb and him had been patrolling around the lake. The guard, clearly bored, lets Caleb and Fjord into the main tent where the corpses were.
Caleb and Fjord enter the tent and begin looking around the tent, and check the bodies for any arcane or other information. They do find remnants of the transformation but do not sense or find anything that could place what happened to the two people. Caleb grabs a piece of the female victim to possibly study.
Meanwhile, Beau, Jester, Nott, and Molly sneak over to the tents where the rest of the carnival crew is located. Molly tries to get the group to the closest tent, which is Ornna and the Knot Sister's tent, but gets no response. He goes instead to Desmond's tent, sneaks in the back of the tent, and asks about what has been happening. Desmond says that they have been being questioned, but nobody has a clue themselves.
The rest of the group begins questioning Desmond. They ask about what the guards are asking about, Desmond says they suspect Gustav did something in the show, but Desmond says he would never do anything like that. When they ask about the rest of the crew to see if anyone is new or difficult, Desmond says that everyone really doesn't like him, but none are more then the average "circus crazy". Jester then tries to cast Sense Good or Evil but finds nothing within her radius.
The group moves back to the tent with Ornna and the Knot Sister and, just in time to avoid a passing guard, slip into the tent. They ask what they know, but they only saw what everyone else saw. The sister think it was a hit job, but Ornna doesn't believe that someone would go to that extreme. Jester and Nott try to sneak the main tent, but get noticed by the guard near the door. Jester casts Charm Person and convinces the guard that she is not here.
When Jester gets near the big tent she senses a great fiend presence. Nott sends Frumpkin back to Caleb to tell him about the presence. As they enter, they find Kylre and Toya sleeping together. They realize that the fiendish presence is coming from Kylre and consider asking him about whether he is evil. They instead try to wake Toya. They ask her about the night and she says she was not sure about whether she caused the zombie. She revealed the song was about the angels and it was one she had sung many times before. When asked who was new, she says that Yasha and Molly were new. She says Molly was only a part of the circus for two years, which is different then what he told the group. When Toya tells Nott that Ornna didn't like Gustav, she becomes convinced that Ornna is the killer.
Beau tries to talk to the sister and gain a bit of rapport with them. They don't quite trust her, but Molly is able to convince them to talk to her. The twins are not aware of how close everyone is to being killed. They both say that it was probably Gustav since he was the leader of the circus. Ornna believes that Gustav's karma is what brought the issue, and says she would have made sure the guards presence was better. Nott then rushes in and accuses Ornna as the killer. She seems taken back by the accusation. Everyone is confused by this accusation and she states that it wasn't her. Molly and Ornna share a laugh about the accusation.
Ornna goes through all of the crew and says that the only two she is uncertain about is Desmond and Kylre. Jester reveals that he does emanate evil and is a fiend. Molly and Ornna are shocked since they believe him to be lizard-folk. Caleb who is seeing through Frumpkin's eyes notices a large dark shape come out of the big tent. He sees the two guards, one by one, fall to the ground dead. He tells Fjord what is happening, as he watches the creature bound away into the distance. Jester and Beau both come out to see about the guards and they watch the dead guards shift into zombies. The zombies begin walking towards the tent.
- Damon, guard posted at the Carnival
- Oglin Hornsblower, owner of a "hoarder's shop"
- Jonas, guard posted outside The Nestled Nook Inn
- Lucas, guard posted outside The Nested Nook Inn
- Norda, Lawmaster of Trostenwald
- Vosna, barkeep of Ye Olde Mudhole
- Enon Brinjay (corpse), the old human who became a zombie
- Gustav Fletching
- Kylre the Devil Toad
- Desmond Moondrop
- Ornna the Fire Fairy
- Toya the Vivid Voice
- Caleb: I have some magic for that.
Nott: He has a magical spell that alerts you when someone tries to break in your room!
Caleb: That is correct.
Mollymauk: Well that's convenient.
Caleb: I will take a moment to do that, and it will let me know.
Nott: The best part is, it doesn't alert him when I sneak in or out!
Caleb: [quietly] That you know of...
Nott: Wait... what?
- When Nott says she "loves trinkets," it is likely a meta reference to Vex'ahlia's companion bear, named Trinket, in the previous campaign. A running gag in the first campaign was Sam Riegel's general contempt for Trinket, often making suggestions to leave him behind or, more drastically, put him into situations that would potentially lead to him getting him killed.