"At Dawn, We Plan!" (1x53) is the fifteenth episode of the fourth chapter of Critical Role. Vox Machina must decide: leave Westruun to fight another day, or prepare to face the deadly black dragon Umbrasyl?
Previously on Critical Role
"Vox Machina, our band of adventurers who have found their way into a struggle against a group called the Chroma Conclave, a collection of ancient chromatic dragons that have torn across the landscape of Tal'Dorei and beyond, setting ruin to a number of major cityscapes and then claiming areas as their own after the fact. In order to combat this—and eventually their leader Thordak, the Cinder King, a great and powerful red dragon—they've been in search of ways to improve their prowess as heroes, in search of these artifacts known as the Vestiges of the Divergence, lost from wars long past.
"After finding information about these, it was also discovered that one of their original homesteads, Westruun—the actual place where Pike and Grog, for a portion of his life, grew up—after being sieged by the dragons, had then been overtaken by the Herd of the Storm, which Grog previously ran with for most of his life, and was helmed by Kevdak, his uncle, a rather cruel and ruthless leader. After they had absorbed the Rivermaw years beforehand, it had swollen to a great size, battled the dragon, and amongst their losses came to an accord in which they would leave riches for the dragon and it would kind of let them be for the time being.
"Upon making their way into the town, thinning some of the ranks of this ravenous Herd, Grog threatened Kevdak to a battle one-on-one for supremacy of the Herd...and quickly may have gotten a little in over his head. In the center of the town square a great battle commenced, where after calling to his side his friends, Vox Machina, a bloody fray that nearly fell a few of the party. Through some ingenuity, some decent planning, and some trickery of magical item use, they managed to survive and have Grog deal the death blow to Kevdak, amongst all of the watching Herd.
"After some...just barely scraping by diplomacy, they managed to bring it all to a ceasefire for the time being, free Kevdak's son—Grog's cousin, Zanror, who, from his bindings, seemed to be of a different mentality and emotional mindset than his father was. He is now wishing to, with Vox Machina and the remainder of the Herd, bring this fight to the black dragon itself, pulling themselves from under the thumb of its rule, thus saving Westruun and their own lives in the process. The party has brought to life one child who was lost in this fray, and are currently escorting this boy northward towards the temple district of Westruun."
Vox Machina is walking across Westruun, to bring Theodore home and find Wilhand Trickfoot. The boy directs them to his home and jumps off of Trinket's back to knock on the door with Vex behind him. There is no answer at the door and Keyleth asks Theodore when he left the house, which he responds that he was taken today. The door opens to reveal the boy's mother who rushes to hug him. She introduces herself as Yulia and thanks them. She tries to pay them and they refuse. She glances worriedly at Grog and he assures her that things are going to change with the herd.
Before they leave Vex'ahlia asks if she has seen an older gnome and Yulia says she hasn't seen Wilhand, which might be a good thing. She shows them the hiding place they were using, with a broken shrine to Melora. Keyleth asks about Melora and performs a Mending spell on the broken statue. Grog suggests that the family should leave and head to the encampment by Foromir Basin. Vax asks if anyone in the city would be able to navigate the sewers and Yulia says the guards were the only ones who usually go through. Vex asks about Reginald's daughter and she says she'll ask around. Pike gives Theodore a wooden doll and after asking her name, names the doll Pike after her. The party leaves them.
Pike leads the group to Wilhand's home, which is mostly intact although the second floor has partially fallen in. The door is locked and they knock with no answer, even when Pike calls out for him. Pike finds her key to the door and opens it, hitting a barricade and Pike yells for him again. Vax'ildan climbs up into the hole in the roof. Percy and Keyleth work on pushing open the barricade and manage to get inside. The first floor is empty and the shrine to Sarenrae is haphazardly remade. There is opening in the floor and they call in. Wilhand responds saying "I'm not here!" Pike pulls Wilhand out of the hole and hugs her. Wilhand also hugs Grog, who leans down to embrace the old gnome. He greets the rest of Vox Machina including introducing himself to Percy, whom he is unfamiliar with.
Wilhand says he was worried that the Herd came for him, reminding the group of the story. The group lets him know that Kevdak has been unseated and Zanror is now in charge and that they plan to evacuate the civilians so they can fight the dragon. Wilhand, who was previously unaware of the dragon wants to go back in his hiding hole. They share some of Wilhand's home-brewed alcohol and discuss next steps, knowing that tomorrow they will have to meet up with Zanror to plan and need to visit Master Quall's home.
Wilhand tells them that his neighbor Davin was taken to the stockades and he wishes he had done something to help, calling himself a coward. He grabs his statue for Sarenrae and Vax offers to hold it for him, as Wilhand is a little tipsy. Scanlan starts to summon his mansion and Wilhand is impressed by his wealth telling Pike that she is of marrying age. Scanlan takes Wilhand up to his room and mentions that he would like his permission to marry Pike. Wilhand says he will think about it and Scanlan calls some servants to take care of him while they are gone. The group makes their way to Master Quall's home with Grog standing out front on guard duty.
After dispeling the magic on the false staircase, Vex takes her broom upstairs with Vax hanging off of it. They find two rooms and the only thing of value they find is a small box underneath the bed. It originally contains copper, but at the suggestion of Percy, they find a false bottom with a key hidden in it. They head down to the basement and when Pike's dispel magic fails, Scanlan calls an Unseen Servant named Mort to open the door with the key they found. The room is Quall's workspace and has mostly been cleaned of the research that he has brought with him. However there is a giant stone Golem in the room and the party ties it up so if it comes to life, it can't hurt them. Vax also draws a curly mustache on it. They find the circlet they were sent to find and Keyleth puts it on, attuning to it. Meanwhile, Grog is watching the streets and sees that there are a few individuals tailing them. He takes out the Bloodaxe and Titanstone Knuckles, putting the knuckles on and having a vision of the creation of the world.
Keyleth tries out the circlet and it does indeed control the Golem as they believed. Keyleth has him wave to Pike, curtsy to Vex and, at his request, double flip off Vax. They discuss how to bring the Golem with him and name him Fassbender. They can't put him in Vex's necklace so Scanlan makes him invisible so they can transport him without notice. It doesn't exactly go as planned considering that Fassbender is larger than the staircase. Vex casts Pass Without A Trace to try and lessen the noise.
Grog sees his friends come out of the house and then the door explode spontaneously. He races over to help and runs straight into Fassbender. They head back towards the Trickfoot residence as it starts to hit sunset.
Fassbender barely fits into the mansion. Keyleth suggests a group training session and Scanlan says that he has to go find Kaylie. He also requests that Vax helps him, who agrees to tag along. As they start to head out, Vax rushes back to Keyleth and asks her to mend Wilhand's statue, which she does.
Scanlan takes Vax where he dropped Kaylie off, asking him to track. Vax reminds him that he is Vax, not Vex, but says that he can give it a shot. They pull up the cover and get inside. Vax'ildan tries to check for tracks and finds some humanoid ones that they follow. They see a huge figure and not moving, they see that it has wounded. The pair suspects that Kaylie and the group killed it. They navigate through the sewers and see footprints. Vax believes that Kaylie got out safely. Scanlan also thanks Vax for saving him during the fight with the Sphinx, even when his sister was in trouble. They take the sewers back.
With Fassbender now visible, Keyleth wants to train with him. She has him attack Grog, punching him in the face. Grog punches Fassbender back with his new Titanstone Knuckles. They experiment with Fassbender, trying to determine how intelligent it is and determine it isn't able to speak. Fassbender uses a slow spell on Percy. Eventually, they put him into rest mode.
Meanwhile, Pike and Grog admire his new vestige. Grog double checks that the Bloodaxe is not sentient. He punches the wall to try it out and lets Pike try the axe on a dummy. Pike gets the Gauntlets of Ogre Power back from Grog. Scanlan and Vax'ildan return. The group start discussing what they are going to have to do next. Most of them are unsure about fighting a dragon on 24 hours notice and they aren't sure of the time crunch with the herd. Grog tells them that the herd is made up of bad people, so if they end up having to sacrifice them it shouldn't be a stain on their conscience. He tells them the Herd means nothing to him, compared to the people in this room.
Scanlan takes the opportunity while everyone is gathered to propose to Pike. Pike is startled and he tells her that she doesn't have to answer right now. The group makes their way up to the kitchen. Wilhand's asleep after cooking with chicken. Vax disappears up to his room and tells the Raven Queen that he will commit to her and come to her when he is able to. Pike pulls Scanlan aside and admits that she read his letter. She promises she will do everything in the letter should he die. Both of them are a bit of a mess over what to do about their relationship and Pike jokes that maybe they should just sleep together. Pike tells Scanlan that while she does love him, she has feelings for someone else. She kisses his cheek and bids him goodnight.
Everyone gets up early in the morning and makes their way to the Margrave's house. Grog recognizes the two individuals trailing them and they introduce themselves as Veskin and Mortar. They have been watching him, trying to figure him out. Herd members are out getting ready for battle as Vox Machina walks through. They find Zanror, already preparing for battle. Even when they try to get him to delay, he tells them that if they do that the dragon will show up as they are getting low on offerings. This is their last chance to take this fight on their own terms.
The Rivermaw Tribe members Ivon and Tress enter at this point, angry. They don't recognize Zanror as their Thunderlord and are going to leave, not wanting to fight the dragon. Scanlan calls him a coward and Ivon spits in his face. Pike tries to appeal to him, telling him that the dragons will come for everyone eventually and that there is strength in numbers. Ivon ignores the gnomes and tries to leave but Vax interrupts holding out a dagger. He tells them that the Rivermaw is making a mistake and will weaken themselves, Vox Machina tells him that they have already killed dragons, but Ivon refuses to listen. Scanlan tells the others to let him leave and Keyleth tells Zanror that if Ivon isn't loyal now, he won't be on the battlefield. She tells him to let the Rivermaw go. Zanror tells them to go and they leave.
After they leave, Grog asks about Zanror's preparations. The plan is to get to its cave so it can't fly. Zanror says the Umbrasyl 's next pick up is tomorrow morning. Keyleth suggests that they take the day to try and heal some of their wounded, then set a trap. Zanror agrees to their plan.
- Percival de Rolo
- Scanlan Shorthalt
- Grog Strongjaw
- Pike Trickfoot