"A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) is the one hundred twenty-fourth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. Exhausted and hunted, the Mighty Nein search for sanctuary in Aeor while contemplating their own potential chess moves...

Synopsis

Announcements

  • First sponsor tonight is The Seeker's Guide to Twisted Taverns, a 5e book with a range of themed taverns complete with NPCs, quest hooks, and menus. Sam has created their signature drink, the "Eldermancy", with a shot for each letter in its name. The defining flavor notes are espresso, absinthe and yogurt... and committing to the bit, Sam actually drinks it.
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Previously on Critical Role

Last we left off: the Mighty Nein, upon traversing a majority of their journey across Eiselcross to reach the ruins of Aeor on the cusp of their final day of travel alongside the Tombtakers and Lucien, the original pilot, it seems, of Mollymauk's body before you met him.

You encountered a final challenge in the wilderness, as the ancient white dragon Gelidon, the Nightmare in ivory, had come across your scent and swooped down for vengeance, recognizing those who had not too long before encroached upon her lair and stole from her hoard. After a battle in which Gelidon was unexpecting the sheer voracity of the response and the volume of trained and experienced individuals that were counter-assaulting, fled within an inch of her life, and you were all left successful in fighting off this dangerous entity.

Fan art of the Tombtakers, by Kieran Slate.[art 1]

Continuing your trek into the night, as the sunlight vanished and you found yourselves in one final evening of rest, you made your way into Caleb's tower, and upon plotting out what you were to do in the days to come, realized that the Bag of Holding that Fjord had been carrying was no longer on his person, realizing it had been taken by Otis in the middle of the fray with this white dragon. In searching for the whereabouts, they had already left the tower and had made their way into the dark, snowy evening.

You all gave chase and managed to catch up to them a little ways past where you had set up for the evening, and a battle took place that very quickly turned in their favor. Scrambling to gain some ground and eventually just escape with your lives, you managed to begin to outrun them, not with the Bag of Holding you lost but at least one of the two threshold crests that had been recovered, that as far as you knew they required to complete whatever it was they were attempting to do in the ruins of Aeor.

Part I

The Mighty Nein are just barely ahead of the Tombtakers, pursued by their magic, and heading roughly north-northeast through heavy falling snow with Lucien shouting threats of pursuit behind them. Caleb turns into a giant eagle, dropping Beau's mammoth form, but scoops up both Beau and Fjord. Yasha's wings fade and she begins running along with Veth, falling slightly behind. They are still being hotly pursued. Owl-Jester is hit by an Eldritch Blast and tugged back ten feet, but flies onward. As the party banks to the right, Veth creates a Silent Image of herself in the other direction.

Fan art of Yasha dropped in the snow, by Elaine Tipping.[art 2]

The Tombtakers continue following. After several minutes, owl-Jester picks up both Veth and Yasha (along with the threshold crest and Caduceus) to try to avoid leaving tracks in the snow, but it drops her to half-speed. Jester tries and fails, twice, to drop Yasha onto the flying eagle-Caleb. He eventually scoops Yasha up from the ground, but it drops him to half-speed. The party decides to head for the mountains to try to buy enough time to hide in order to get a rest, and eagle-Caleb drops Beau, who begins running. When Jester's spell ends, she re-casts Polymorph to change from an owl to a black eagle.

They fly on, becoming exhausted. When they reach the end of all of Jester's Polymorph spells, they have reached the mountains and a small ledge. Caleb flies on and finds a wider camping area and begins ferrying the party to it. While they wait, they look through the Tombtakers' backpack and discover that the threshold crest is indeed inside, along with four more intuit charges to join the one Veth found previously in the ruins of A2.[1] They bury the threshold crest in the snow of the ledge.

Fan art of Jester pointing out the location, by linzer art.[art 3]

Caleb casts the hut and they spend an uneventful night, getting a long rest. In the morning, after much discussion they decide that even if teleporting the crest goes off target or damages it, it would be out of immediate reach of the Tombtakers. Jester Sends to Yudala Fon in the Rexxentrum Archive of the Cobalt Soul, saying that they're going to try to send it to them there. Beau realizes her cold weather gear came from there, so to increase the accuracy of the spell she borrows a dagger from Veth to cut off a piece of her coat's lining. Jester notices that Veth becomes hostile and possessive at the suggestion that Veth let Beau borrow her Corecut Dagger.

Caleb sticks a label on the crest saying "Care of Yudala Fon" and casts Teleport. The crest disappears, but they don't know whether the teleport succeeds or not.[2] (It is later revealed that it does not reach its destination, but is safely out of the Tombtakers' hands.) Caduceus notices some dark shapes at the foot of the mountain, and they eventually recognize the Tombtakers. There is an explosion as something is thrown by the Tombtakers (possibly one of Beau's fireworks from the stolen Bag of Holding) starting an avalanche. Jester, Caleb, and Yasha become eagles, grab the rest of the party, and fly off toward Aeor.

Break

  • Clips from "Talks Machina #153: Discussing Up to C2E123 - Fair-weather Faith" (TMx153).
  • Merch Alert! Doom Eternal: Assault on Armaros Station PDF adventure for 5e available for download in the U.S. shop; Nott the Brave Flask and Vox Machina and Mighty Nein Chibi pins in the U.S., U.K., and Australia shops; Critical Role face masks and Mighty Nein Chibi decals in all shops.
  • Taliesin invites everyone to the Twitch Subscription Zone.
  • Critters' art montage.

Part II

The party, half as giant eagles, fly on toward Aeor. Below, the topography is odd and strange, with clusters of ice spires protruding upward and dark areas under the ice. When Polymorph ends, they land and continue onward, searching for the outpost Essek had described to them. Caleb notices a cluster of ice spires with a small group of humanoid creatures moving between them. Fjord uses Dwueth'var's See Invisibility to check for Scrying orbs; there are none. Jester Sends to Essek, describing where they are and asking how to find him, and he replies to look for the larger spired cluster and not to have weapons out.

Fan art of Jester greeting Essek, by heidzdraws.[art 4]

As they approach, with Caleb and Veth holding their medallions of the Bright Queen up, several archers and crossbowmen of the Aurora Watch pop out of the snow and challenge them, but then recognize the symbols and begin to escort them. They realize that the ice spires are the disguised outpost when a door opens in one of them and Essek Thelyss drifts out. Jester hugs him. He welcomes them and leads them inside to a room holding several other people and soldiers. Fjord's still-active See Invisibility spots two heavily-armed soldiers in the corners. When Caduceus asks if they can speak in private, Essek says anything they have to say to him can be heard by all.

They begin to tell Essek (and anyone listening) about the city in the Astral Sea, and that they're being pursued by the Tombtakers. They describe them, giving details about their abilities, and tell Essek how dangerous they are. One of the listening soldiers leaves to warn the other guards. Essek asks them to walk with him and they go on a brief tour of the outpost, gaining some privacy in Essek's quarters.

Essek tells the party that he requested reassignment to this outpost because he fears his life is in danger from the Cerberus Assembly since he is no longer of use to them and knows too much. Caleb asks about teleportation from the area, and learns that Teleportation Circle is relatively unaffected, but that the Teleport spell has a greater chance of failure. This means that leaving the area for an existing circle is simple, but returning can be challenging. Beau notices that Essek seems ashamed and unwilling to make eye contact.

They discuss:

  • The floating Vurmas Outpost has moved closer to Aeor because of the tensions between the Dwendalian Empire and Kryn Dynasty explorers.
  • Some Aeorian iconography resembling a Luxon Beacon has been found, as well as notes indicating the Aeorians were toying with dunamis before the Dynasty was even established.
  • The Tombtakers want to bring the Cognouza Ward and the Somnovem back from the Astral Sea. Essek explains that threshold crests don't open a portal, but would need to be taken to the city first in order to move it. The Tombtakers must therefore be looking for a way to get to the city from within the ruins of Aeor. Essek assures them that he wants to help.

Dagen arrives. The party introduce him to Essek and warn Essek about the Tombtakers' hidden entrance to the northwest. Essek agrees to test Dagen's skills with an eye to hiring him.

Essek urges them to seek more information and help from knowledgeable individuals and friends. He himself is under suspicion by the Dynasty because it is known there is a traitor, and his connection with the Mighty Nein makes him a candidate. Veth suggests that if the Beacons are somehow related to the Somnovem, then the people in the Empire who have studied them might know more about them... such as Trent Ikithon, who Essek knows unfavorably because Trent sometimes acted as Ludinus Da'leth's envoy when Ludinus was not available. Caleb and Essek discuss the Beacons' possible link to Aeor and Essek suggests a Beacon could be used to manipulate time to "undo mistakes".

Fan art of Caleb with Essek, by Toby Sharp.[art 5]

They tell Essek that Vess DeRogna was killed by Lucien while traveling with them, which spooks him completely as yet another thread leading back to him now. He apologetically suggests putting some distance between them. Fjord asks for someone on the Dynasty side that Essek trusts, and he suggests his brother Verin in Bazzoxan, or Starguide Uraya Hythenos, who has returned to Rosohna. The party says goodnight to Essek and goes to their own room to discuss possible allies, but almost all have some drawbacks or concerns. Veth pushes hard for Astrid or Eadwulf but Caleb suggests starting in Nicodranas with Yussa, and the party eventually agrees.

Fan art of Caduceus's Divine Intervention, by Omegasama art.[art 6]

Jester and Caduceus both try Divine Intervention, and Jester fails but has a lovely conversation with Artagan. Caduceus, however, succeeds, and has the Wildmother show him the location of the Tombtakers' secret entrance to Aeor. Jester goes outside to Scry on Zoran but sees only that the Tombtakers are trudging through snow heading west to northwest to an unknown destination. Caduceus casts Commune and learns that the Tombtakers are going to locate another threshold crest and that their destination is dangerous.

Jester Sends to Wensforth to warn him they're coming. They say goodbye to Dagen and go back to their room where Caleb casts Teleportation Circle and takes them to Nicodranas.

Featured Characters

The Mighty Nein

New

Returning

Mentioned


Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Acquired 1 Threshold crest The Tombtakers' backpack The party
Acquired Rope, climbing tools, general materials The Tombtakers' backpack The party
Acquired 4 Intuit charges The Tombtakers' backpack The party
Acquired 1 Small rock Mountains north of Aeor Caleb Wrapped in parchment labeled with the location. To be used for Teleport.
Acquired 1 Small rock Ruins of Aeor Caleb Wrapped in parchment labeled with the location. To be used for Teleport.
Crafted 1 Snowball Veth A gift for Luc.
Transferred 2 Small clay dogs Yasha Veth From Thaydeen's. Gifts for Luc.
Expended Hot cocoa bombs Caduceus The party and Essek

Quotations

  • Lucien: Run all you like! We'll be right behind![3]
  • Essek: (to Caleb) If [a Luxon Beacon] were to be found, and channeled and unlocked in ways that we have not even possibly considered, think of the possibilities of how we could manipulate the fabric of time. Not just forwards. The ability to perhaps undo mistakes.[4]
  • Caleb: (as the party leaves Essek) I catch him by the forearm, last one out, and say, "Just breathe. (Essek exhales) Just... breathe that fresh air," mindful of the people about. "Time. (pause) Time. Not weeks, not years. It takes time."
    Essek: Indeed.[5]
  • Artagan: (after straightening his hair until it falls to his ankles) It looks terrible![6]

Trivia

  • At the conclusion of this episode, the party reached level 14. The rolls for hit points were:
    • Caduceus - 3, new HP 121
    • Beau - 8, new HP 120
    • Yasha - 12, new HP 154
    • Veth - 8, new HP 98
    • Caleb - 2, new HP 101
    • Jester - 6, new HP 126
    • Fjord - depending on if he takes a level in Warlock or Paladin, 5 or 8, new HP 142 or 145
  • This episode had the 1000th player crit for Campaign 2, with Jester's natural 1 trying to transfer Yasha to Caleb.[7][8]

References

  1. See "Solace Between the Secrets" (2x118) at 3:46:53.
  2. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 1:34:57.  Although in-character the Nein are unaware, the teleport apparently was off-target by 20% (2 and 10 on 2d10 rolls) of the distance between Rexxentrum and themselves.
  3. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 0:12:45.
  4. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 3:19:52.
  5. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 3:28:03.
  6. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 3:42:33.
  7. See CritRoleStats' tweet.
  8. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 0:34:46.

Art:

  1. Fan art of the Tombtakers, by Kieran Slate (source).  Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of Yasha dropped in the snow, by Elaine Tipping (source).  Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Jester pointing out the location, by linzer art (source).  Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of Jester greeting Essek, by heidzdraws (source).  Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of Caleb with Essek, by Toby Sharp (source).  Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of Caduceus's Divine Intervention, by Omegasama art (source).  Used with permission.


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