"Cat and Mouse" (2x128) is the one hundred twenty-eighth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. With their heist uncovered and danger closing in around them, the Mighty Nein must make tough decisions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe...
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Previously on Critical Role
So, last we left off: The Mighty Nein, after gathering some elements from their allies and preparing for the journey back to the ruins of Aeor in hopes of cutting off and ending the slow climb the Tombtakers are making toward the center of some part of the ruin, it seems.
You wanted to try and protect yourselves from the ever-prying vision of Lucien, and as such, reached out to Astrid, Volstrucker from Caleb's past, and requested if there was any opportunity to acquire more of these devices, these magical items, these amulets that could protect from divination. Astrid was able to locate where they were kept, though it was beyond her realm to grab at the moment, as they were currently being held in a basement on the grounds of the Vergesson Sanatorium.
Now, traveling to the outskirts of the Pearlbow Wilderness on the outside of the sanatorium, you encroached upon it and made a plan. Dividing into two groups, two groups that were curiously named, one of which made their way into the far distant structure, while the other waited on the outskirts of the forest. As that group began to make their way through the basement, encountering guards that they they crushed, searching about and eventually getting into the basement, where a magical barrier prevented their continuation. Jumping magically to the other side, Jester and Veth grabbed their quarry, a container that seemed to hold exactly what they seek, and upon returning to the interior of this basement chamber, as they were about to leave, giving the call to the rest of their group that it was time to go, the teleportation didn't function. The spell seemed to dissipate, and as the three of them: Jester, Veth, and Caleb, looked back up the staircase, the only exit from the room from which they came, they were met with the face of Trent Ikithon.
Meanwhile, Beauregard has been on top of the tower, keeping an eye out as more and more guards swarm inwards towards this location, and the rest of the group remains hidden by a fog cloud in the nearby forest, trying to acquire the last member of their troupe before themselves evacuating the premises.
And so, as the three of you, Caleb, Veth, and Jester, look up the barely-lit staircase, stepping down comfortably, you see the sallow jaundiced face of Master Trent Ikithon.
Caleb immediately puts a Wall of Fire between Team Firestorm and Trent, triggering initiative, but Trent immediately dispels it. Desperately, Caleb flings a Fire Bolt that misses, and Veth misses with Phantasmal Force. Jester then casts Word of Recall, which Trent tries to Counterspell but Caleb's Counterspell negates it, and Jester transports Team Firestorm to Veth's home in Nicodranas.
Meanwhile, Caleb is on the verge of hyperventilating and pulls Jester and Veth into a fierce hug, apologizing to them for endangering them. As he does, Trent's voice enters his mind, saying, "Now, Bren, that was uncalled for. Conversation. See, now I'm worried." Caleb tells Trent he's not ready to talk to him, and tells Veth and Jester than Trent is Sending to him. Jester gives them both amulets to put on and begin attuning to. Trent's voice once again reaches Caleb, saying, "If you wanted anything, all you had to do was ask. This was unnecessary. And now I have to explain this to the rest of the Assembly. You don't know what you've done."
Jester tells Caleb and Veth she didn't know they were going to be murdering the guards, and Veth mentions it wasn't so much the killing but how savage it was. Caleb responds that he was trying to get them in and out quickly, but that he hopes Veth and Jester, and the guards, can forgive him.
Jester Sends to Yeza, who is shopping, telling him not to come home because it's dangerous, but to go to her momma. Team Outie arrives, are given amulets, and the groups exchange accounts of what happened, with Caleb taking full responsibility for the deaths and for endangering Veth and Jester's families. Trent's voice enters Caleb's mind again, saying that he recognized traces of dunamancy in the cellar and that he has theories on where Caleb learned it. Caleb realizes he is referring to Essek. Fjord casts See Invisibility and there is a scrying orb in the room with them, which Caleb dispels.
They head to the market and tell Yeza and Luc (via Message) to go to the Lavish Chateau. The party then goes to the beach for a short rest to attune to the amulets, guarded by Caduceus's Conjured Celestial couatl. The still-shellshocked Caleb just stares out at the water, near Veth. Yasha walks away down the beach and addresses the Stormlord, telling him she wants to be able to use the Holy Avenger and accepts being his champion and avatar. Jester casts Ceremony for her to dedicate herself to his service, and Artagan checks in with her briefly.
Veth pulls out the crystals she stole from the Vergesson Sanatorium and Caleb recognizes them immediately as the crystals that were put into the students' arms to make them more powerful, some kind of green-blue synthetic residuum alloy that has an amplification function. Jester suggests grinding them down for magical tattooing, deeply disturbing Caleb. He wants to use them as potential evidence of what was done to him and others, hoping that someone would care that this has been and is still being done to children. Veth suggests using the crystals might give him an advantage in the fight and Caleb firmly rejects the idea.
They head to the Lavish Chateau where Caduceus notices two odd figures sitting by the door. Bluud agrees to check them out, and Jester tells him it would be a good idea to close for the night since danger is approaching. Fjord and Caduceus follow Bluud, in disguise.
Jester talks to her mother, admitting that everything is not okay, and gives her an amulet. She tells Marion to leave, now, for her own safety, and after much hesitation, Marion agrees. Jester tearfully apologizes for endangering her. Veth has a similar conversation with Yeza, telling him that she has unforgivably messed up by putting them in danger, and that she feels she can no longer continue adventuring once this is over. Yeza tells her that he has also brought danger to them by his own choices, and that he knows Veth feels better about herself now because she has her own life. He knows she has to do this, but begs her to be safe. Veth promises.
As Veth is leaving, Caleb comes in and gives Luc the book of Zemnian fairy tales and the primer on transmutation magic that he had bought. He tells Luc he has a lot of potential, just like his mother. And one day, if Luc wants to learn, Caleb hopes he will come find him.
Meanwhile, Carlos notices Fjord pretending to be a busboy downstairs and politely asks him to leave. Bluud talks to the two strangers Caduceus had noticed, and when he asks them to leave, they use what Fjord and Caduceus recognize as magic to make him forget his purpose and wander off.
Caduceus goes back upstairs and meets up with Beau and Yasha (who were making out in the hallway in the meantime), and as the group reconvenes sans Fjord, he tells them what's happened. Beau climbs out a window to get Fjord, and the rest of the Nein converge on the downstairs room. As Beau and Fjord enter, the strangers stand and tell them they are here to convey a message to Bren. They recognize Astrid's voice. Astrid and Eadwulf have been sent to cut them off, but are there (secretly) to warn them to leave and to take with them anyone important to them, because Trent is "frustrated".
Astrid and Eadwulf leave, trailed by the invisible Veth. The rest of the party gather their families and Jester makes sure the bar will be closed for the night. Veth follows Astrid and Eadwulf to a nearby elegant house where they meet another older female Volstrucker and Trent Ikithon and begin conversing. Veth races back to the Chateau, warning everyone they need to leave, now. They warn everyone else in the building to get out as well, and begin running stealthily through the streets toward Tidepeak Tower.
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As they run, Jester Sends to Wensforth asking him to quickly open the door to the tower, and it appears just as they arrive. Caduceus uses Calm Emotions to help Marion, who is having a hard time between the shock of events and her agoraphobia. They ask Wensforth to get Yussa, because they would like his help to transport themselves, but Wensforth tells them he's unreachable right now-- he is on an information-gathering excursion into the Astral Plane.
Wensforth leads them upstairs to the room where the Happy Fun Ball is kept and Yussa lies in a reclining chair, apparently in a trance. Wensforth is unable to wake him. They tell Wensforth the tower may shortly be under attack, and Caduceus uses Calm Emotions on him as well when he starts panicking.
When they tell Wensforth their first priority is to get out, he leads them to a dusty attic holding a glass case containing a cigar-sized metal case, a gift from the Arcana Pansophical to Yussa. Wensforth throws it on the ground, shattering the glass, and hands the metal case to Caleb. He says that Yussa said it was for emergencies. Inside is a very compact scroll rolled around a metal rod with a reddish, fiery ember glow. Caleb uses Comprehend Languages to read the Draconic writing, which proves to be a Plane Shift spell scroll that can transport the caster and up to eight willing creatures. With the families, they have ten people to transport.
They discuss possibilities. Caleb proposes they walk away while he waits for Trent outside, but the others say that's a terrible idea. They need him to cast the spell that will take them back to Eiselcross, and breaking him out of Trent's clutches would take too much time.
They come up with the idea to use the Happy Fun Ball to hold some of the party and carry it through whatever plane the spell scroll takes them to. There is much discussion of how to split the party, interrupted by loud knocking at the door of the tower.
Hurriedly, they decide Beau, Yasha, and Fjord will go into the Ball and try to move as quickly as possible to the exit, since time will be passing much faster on the outside than it will be for them (an hour in the ball is approximately a day outside it). The others will Plane Shift and hope to be able to rest while waiting.
From downstairs, they hear Wensforth trying to keep out whoever is at the door. Caleb gets the Happy Fun Ball almost open, then hands it to Fjord to perform the final move that transports that team inside. Jester then grabs the ball while Caleb casts the Plane Shift. As he reaches the end of the scroll, the door opens and Astrid rushes in, hand outstretched to Counterspell. Caleb finishes reading, the rod begins to glow brightly, and they feel themselves pulled away as Astrid's hand drops without casting.
- Beauregard Lionett
- Caduceus Clay
- Caleb Widogast
- Jester Lavorre
- Veth Brenatto
- Yasha Nydoorin
- Trent Ikithon
- Yeza Brenatto
- Luc Brenatto
- Marion Lavorre
- Carlos Remedi
- Yussa Errenis
|Amulets of Proof against Detection and Location||Vergesson Sanatorium||The party, Marion, Yeza, and Luc|
|Acquired||22||Blue crystals||Vergesson Sanatorium||The party||An unknown alloy containing residuum, used to implant into Trents' students' arms. Amplify magic.|
|Transferred||1||Book of Zemnian Fairy Tales||Caleb||Luc Brenatto|
|Transferred||1||Primer on Transmutation Magic||Caleb||Luc Brenatto|
|Taken and expended||1||Spell Scroll of Plane Shift||Yussa Errenis||Caleb|
|Taken||1||Tuning fork for Plane Shift||Yussa Errenis||Caleb|
|Taken||1||Heirloom Sphere||Yussa Errenis||Jester||Currently holding Fjord, Beau, and Yasha.|
- Trent Ikithon: I am quite curious as to what brings you here. [ ... ] Now, this is extremely rude. I'm just asking some questions. This wasn't expected. [ ... ] (as the team transports away) Good luck.
Caleb: You taught me well.
- Trent Ikithon: Sending to Caleb) Now, Bren, that was uncalled for. Conversation. See, now I'm worried.
Caleb: You can sit and cool off. I don't know if I'm ready to talk to you yet.
- Trent Ikithon: Sending to Caleb) If you wanted anything, all you had to do was ask. This was unnecessary. And now I have to explain this to the rest of the Assembly. You don't know what you've done.
Caleb: I am aware of the strings that are attached. Go off and tell your tales.
- Caleb: (after Jester and Veth confront him about the savagery of his attacks in Vergesson) There are bad people in that building. I was not about to risk your lives taking too much time. The very thing I was afraid of happening, did, and I am shocked the three of us are standing here now. That said, I hope you, and they, can forgive me.
- Trent Ikithon: (Sending to Caleb) Traces of dunamancy left in this wake. I have my theories on where you might have learned this.
Caleb: Well, now we're both double-dealing.
Trent: Why do you run, as opposed to talk? If you're worried about DeRogna, well, she's not much of a worry anymore.
Caleb: In every barrel of apples, there is one with a rotten worm in it. I am that worm.
- Jester: (about Trent) Why does the most powerful guy have to be such a shithead? Why can't he be a nice powerful guy?
Caduceus: Why bother being powerful if you're nice?
- Caleb: (to Jester and Veth) I am responsible for your family... and yours. And you. And I worry that I am the very thing he told me I was.
Beau: Not yet. Not yet.
- Yeza: I'm excited to have you back. I know you have to do this, but please, please be safe. You don't have to be the hero. Not for me. You already are.
Veth: I know. I will do my best. No. I promise you, I'll be safe. I'll come home.
- Caduceus: (to Astrid and Eadwulf) For what it's worth, [Caleb's] intentions are good, and if things were different, we would be asking for your help.
Astrid: But they aren't different. And our intentions are not good. So you have to go.
- Caleb: I-I-I have an idea.
Veth: What is it?
Caleb: You all walk away from here and I wait outside. [ ... ] Maybe I trade your safety for my obedience.
Caduceus: There is no safety without you. One week.
Beau: If they take you away, it means the next thing we're doing is a jail break.
Jester: And who knows how long that would take?
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 0:14:18.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 0:27:35.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 0:30:44.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 0:32:59.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 0:41:23.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 0:43:58.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 0:47:32.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 1:49:46.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 2:25:41.
- See "Cat and Mouse" (2x128) at 3:12:47.
- Fan art of Trent and Team Firestorm, by @somethingherbal (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Caleb and the Wall of Fire, by Tyler Walpole (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the Counterspells, by Melissa Hahn (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Veth and Caleb on the beach, by HeartofPack (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Yasha on the beach, by Toby Sharp (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Marion and Jester, by @JustHustina (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the Nein and family escaping, by Ilona (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Astrid's Counterspell, by @DoodlePorky (source). Used with permission.