"Bathhouses and Bastions" (2x90) is the ninetieth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein continue their research and relaxation in Rexxentrum before returning to Xhorhas in hopes of convincing the Bright Queen to parley...
They're back! Mostly rejuvenated and will catch up the rest before the end of the world.
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Previously on Critical Role
So, last we left off, The Mighty Nein, after foiling the plot of the cult of the Angel of Irons, and its unknown following of Tharizdun, had found themselves uneasily drawn into the throne room of King Dwendal himself. During this time, your involvement with the Kryn Dynasty during this war between the two nations, came to light, and you were asked as part of essentially proving this supposed loyalty that you claim to have to the Empire to reach out on their behalf to negotiate or to convince them to come to some sort of a parlay, a negotiation to possibly bring this war to lesser terms or to an end. You are at your own pace on this, after being assigned under Ludinus Da'leth, the head of the Cerberus Assembly, who said, "Whenever you want to," but the longer you wait, the more the tension lies behind this temporary ceasefire between the two nations.
You had a run-in with Trent Ikithon, confirmed that it seemed they had an additional beacon, that from your research you found seemed to have actually been uncovered out near Pride's Call, and were planning to return this beacon to the Dynasty as part of this negotiation while seemingly keeping one for themselves, possibly. You decided on your break time to make some purchases, make some orders, get a bone flute, order a bone harp, order a jeweled chalice, and get involved in some underground fighting, in which you put some money down. Beauregard beat up an older gentleman. Two paladins went head to head and it did not end in Fjord's favor, and Yasha worked through some physical therapy. Bloodied and sore, your friends picked you up and we left off as you made your way out of the butchery that hides this underground fight pit, made your way back to the inn to wrap up the evening and get some rest to recover and lead to the following day, to whatever your endeavors may be.
The Mighty Nein go to bed and rise refreshed the next morning only to learn that they have yet another day to kill in Rexxentrum before their ordered jeweled chalice and bone harp will be ready. They discuss whether they are going to tell the Bright Queen that the beacon the Empire is offering to return is not the one that was stolen from the Kryn Dynasty. While they see the value in being completely honest with her, they also recognize that if she knew that fact she would be less likely to agree to peace talks. They all agree that they need to be honest with her about their doubts and suspicions of the Empire.
When questions arise about the timing and planned activities for Traveler Con, Jester realizes how little she actually knows about what's going to happen, and resolves to ask the Traveler for more information. The conversation then drifts to the nature of the beacons and whether they fell from the sky, are natural growths, or were made by someone a long time ago. Caduceus raises the question of what souls the newly-found beacon might contain. They also briefly discuss and dismiss the possibility of breaking into the Vergesson Sanatorium to further investigate the beacon held there.
Eventually, Yasha decides to put in more hours reading her book and gets down to only eight hours remaining. Fjord spends the day working on his beard and visiting the Silvered Sunset Oasis, a bathhouse and spa, for a day of treatments and massages. Nott goes shopping and buys two ninja stars for Beau, which she attempts to have engraved "pop pop" but instead somehow gets "bob bob" (or possibly "qoq qoq"). She also buys a stack of small hard card stock and two large posterboards.
Beau, Caleb, Jester, and Caduceus all head back to the library of the Cobalt Soul. Beau learns that there is no record of any other beacons being found in the Empire in the past 250 years. Caleb learns that there are many records of meteors falling from the heavens (including one ten years ago in the Cyrengreen Forest that vanished), and that there is a belief that the meteors are parts of Ruidus, the smaller dark moon. There are, however, no records of beacons falling from the skies. Jester researches tarot cards, learning that Molly's deck was hand-made by him, unique, and incomplete at the time of his death. Caduceus learns that all information about the Traveler is only from the past decade or so and that he is viewed very suspiciously.
That evening, back at the inn, Caleb shows Nott his progress on Halas's notes regarding the permanent transformation of bodies, and with Nott's help is able to make some headway. Nott asks once again if he wants to talk to either Astrid or Eadwulf, and he replies he's not sure what he'd say. He asks her if she still wants to be adventuring, and she tells him it's a good distraction. With a very high insight check, he learns that she is very scared of what the future may hold for her.
The next day, they pick up the jeweled chalice and the bone harp at the Cryptic Collection. Jester promptly fills the chalice with ice cream and then calls to the Traveler to come share it with her so she can ask him about Traveler Con, but devastatingly, there is no response. The rest of the group tries to comfort her, and Nott gives her a present: the stack of card stock that she bought so that Jester can make her own tarot cards.
On their way to the spa that Fjord visited the day before, they run into Darrow, who at their invitation joins them. He shares that the Stubborn Stock have a new employer but he's not at liberty to say who. He thinks they're probably going to be heading back to the Menagerie Coast. Yasha gets in four more hours of reading during the luxurious morning being pampered. Still wearing their terrycloth spa bathrobes, they teleport back to the Lucid Bastion under the palace of the Bright Queen. Fjord gets dressed, but Caleb casts Seeming on the whole party, making it appear that all of them are dressed except Fjord who still appears to be wearing his spa bathrobe as they walk through the city to the Xhorhaus.
The party change out of their robes and Jester Sends a message to Essek to let him know they're back. He arrives about forty-five minutes later, looking weary. He tells them the attack on Rexxentrum was timed and launched by Taskhand Adeen Tasithar, who told them the missing Luxon beacon was being held there. Adeen was later captured halfway across the Ghostlands attempting to escape. He has been under interrogation since. In his room, they found traces of the crystals used in the rift-tearing devices and he has confessed to corresponding with both Vence Nuthaleus and Obann, and to trading away the two stolen beacons to the Empire.
The party tells Essek of Obann's death, that Vence is on the run, and that they found one of the shackles binding the Chained Oblivion. They also confirm that they have seen a beacon within the Empire north of Rexxentrum and that the Empire has agreed to return it in exchange for peace talks. Essek agrees to allow Fjord to disguise himself as a captured Vence and be "held" in the cell next to Adeen to see what he can learn from him.
Within the prison cell, Fjord sees a badly beaten and confused Adeen Tasithar, who recognizes "Vence" but asks, "Why do I know you?" He says he did the things he is accused of, but he doesn't know how or why, and feels like he's going crazy. He doesn't know the Angel of Irons or Cardinal Respa, and remembers trading the beacons for gold, but knows he would never do that. Repeatedly crying, "Nothing makes sense!", he beats his head against the wall until he passes out.
Suspecting that Adeen was mind-controlled, they ask Essek to go check if Adeen has a mark on his neck similar to Yasha's where the orange crystal was. While he's gone, Nott and Fjord tease Jester that Sprinkle's actually been dead for weeks. Essek returns, saying that he didn't see a mark on the back of Adeen's neck, but with a high insight check roll, Sam gets a whisper. Essek urges them to go talk to the Bright Queen, as it is now evening.
They make their way to the Lucid Bastion and are immediately given audience. The Bright Queen confirms that Allura paused the assault on Rexxentrum by claiming manipulation by the Chained Oblivion, and that the Bright Queen knows of the Mighty Nein's successful battle beneath the Chantry of the Dawn. She also demands they explain their audience before King Dwendal.
Essek jumps in to remind her of the arrest of Adeen and tell her that Adeen has admitted to giving the beacons to the Empire. Jester suggests it was due to mind-control and that the now-vanquished Obann may have been responsible. Yasha admits she was one of those mind-controlled people and that she thinks she is redeemable. When the Bright Queen reacts by stating that punishment must still be dealt, an armored drow woman sitting next to her rises and urges her not to react emotionally. The Queen immediately softens and agrees.
Caleb then tells her that the Empire would like to return the beacon they are holding. While the Mighty Nein belong neither to the Empire nor the Dynasty, they want to protect the people, and Tharizdun is coming. While the Queen finds this unpersuasive, Caduceus's argument that the Empire now doesn't know how much they don't know and are afraid, is. The Bright Queen again looks to the drow woman behind her and then agrees to a mediation at sea somewhere between the Whitedawn Lagoon and Nicodranas to be conducted via mirror. The beacon and Vence Nuthaleus are to be brought, and in return, the Dynasty will bring Adeen. However, the current ceasefire must absolutely be maintained, or the Dynasty forces still waiting beneath Rexxentrum will attack. When she tells the party that their presence at the peace talks will not be necessary, they persuade her otherwise.
On the way back to the Xhorhaus, Jester Sends to Ludinus Da'leth telling him that they've talked to the Bright Queen, that things are looking good, that the Empire needs to maintain the ceasefire, and the party will be arriving tomorrow. When Essek leaves them, they realize how little they know about him, and Jester uses Sending to ask about his family. He replies by saying he's not very interesting and doesn't like to talk about himself.
Once home, Nott takes Caleb aside and asks him if Essek seemed okay with him - he seemed a little funky at the prison. She suggests Scrying on the prisoner, but Caleb says the prison is protected against that. She stuffs her ears with cotton against the sounds of the concert begun by Yasha, Caduceus, and Jester.
- Beauregard Lionett
- Caduceus Clay
- Caleb Widogast
- Jester Lavorre
- Nott the Brave
- Yasha Nydoorin
- Yudala Fon
- Keona the Keen
- Darrow Allocke
- Essek Thelyss
- The Bright Queen
- Ludinus Da'leth (via Sending)
- Caleb: (discussing Scrying on Vence) For him, I think it is impossible because he is most likely traveling alone. I am a bit compromised because you are all not protected like I am, so...
Jester: Should we always stay a little bit away from you?
Caleb: I hope not.
- The Bright Queen: (to Yasha) Do you believe you are redeemable?
Yasha: I should hope so.
- Caleb: (to the Bright Queen) I would beg you to delineate between those running the Empire and its people. We are here to represent the people of the Empire, and we would like to seize this opportunity to make amends – not for everything, not for all the wrongs done to you and yours, but a start. And we must tread carefully, Your Highness, because those at the top, the Assembly especially, I fear are trying to bend the situation to their will, and gain the upper hand against you, and we do not want that to happen. We want to use this to end the violence against their will. I do not serve you. We do not serve you. And we do not serve King Dwendal or the Assembly. There is something far worse, something far greater than a nation coming for either of your peoples. Tharizdun is coming. I beg of you to see the greater threat to this world.
- Caleb: (after their audience when Essek congratulates them) Thank you as well. We would not have had as much sway here without your assistance.
Essek: Of course not. And strangely, neither would I.
- Caleb: (to Nott) I hope we are doing the right thing. I hope this... This is our biggest con ever. I hope it pans out.
|Acquired||2||Engraved throwing stars||Shop in Rexxentrum||Nott||Each is engraved with "bob".|
|Transferred||2||Engraved throwing stars||Nott||Beau|
|Acquired||1||A stack of hard card stock||Shop in Rexxentrum||Nott|
|Transferred||1||A stack of hard card stock||Nott||Jester|
|Acquired||2||Poster boards||Shop in Rexxentrum||Nott|
|Acquired||1||Gem-encrusted bowl||The Cryptic Collection||Jester||To be used casting Heroes' Feast|
|Acquired||1||Bone harp||The Cryptic Collection||Yasha|
|Acquired||Many||Bathrobes, slippers, and towels||Silvered Sunset Oasis||Party||Stolen when they teleported from the spa.|
- See "The Adventures of the Darrington Brigade" (Sx49) at 1:32:36.
- See "Talks Machina #137: 'Lingering Wounds' & 'Bathhouses and Bastions'" (TMx137) at 0:54:57. Matt stated that this was the High General of the Kryn, and the Bright Queen's partner through multiple lifetimes.
- Fan art of the Mighty Nein, by oliviahintz (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Nott and Caleb, by Aurex Aldori (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the bone harp, by BlackSalander (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Yasha's Mural, by Kent Davis (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the questions for Essek, by Elaine Tipping (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the Mighty Nein researching, by @ suespai (source). Used with permission.