"Dark Dealings" (1x112) is the thirteenth episode of the eighth chapter of Critical Role. Vox Machina search for a powerful artifact that could help swing the tide in their favor. Nothing could possibly go wrong…

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Pre-Show[edit | edit source]

  • Marvel Puzzle Quest

Announcements[edit | edit source]

  • Merchandising
  • The cast missed Ashley
  • Issue #1 of Vox Machina Origins is out digitally
  • Talks Machina on September 26 at 7 PDT will discuss this episode
  • Laura and Travis will be at Anime Weekend Atlanta (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)
  • Subtember (Twitch subscriptions half off during September)
  • Matt encouraged viewers to donate to UNICEF and Oxfam Mexico in wake of the Central Mexico earthquake

Previously on Critical Role[edit | edit source]

"Vox Machina had been climbing their way through the bowels of an undead, risen primordial titan, previously having found information about the history of Vecna from the Knowing Mistress regarding his ascension, the avatar form, and the driving need to create a miracle before he can truly embody and begin to grow the power to really exemplify the abilities of the god that he has now become.

"[They] began to make [their] way through the interior, where [they] battled corrupted earth nodes that existed within naturally. [They] began to battle undead skeletons, undead trolls. Eventually, after making [their] way toward a series of key trapped rooms, one of which seemed to be some sort of mirrored incinerator, [they] made [their] way toward an upward tunnel and encountered a number of disciples, cultists of the Undying King, Vecna. In this confrontation, [they] encountered, face-to-face, a Sphere of Annihilation.

"Through some clever uses of short-range teleportation and losing one's face, [they] have managed to stop them before, one, they destroyed [the] party or managed to escape and alert others of [Vox Machina's] presence. Last we left off, [they] all were resting within that hallway, thinking about what the next course of action is."[1]

Part I[edit | edit source]

Before carrying on, Vax heals Scanlan's damaged face. The party moves on down the tunnel until they find a huge, ruined courtyard of Thomara. Above them, collapsing part of the chamber, is the transported earth of Thar Amphala. Across from them, in the wall on the far end of the space, are three arches into more tunnels. Patrolling the openings are a number of humanoids, skeletons, and one larger creature.

The party decides to scry on Vecna's death knight to see if he might be around. Keyleth manages to see the knight climbing stairs to the top of Entropis before her Scry sensor is dispelled by Vecna, who is apparently with the knight.

Scanlan disguises himself as Viskorad, one of the cultists they killed, and goes ahead of the group with Simon 3. While the others stealth along behind him, he approaches the figures in the archways ahead. By pretending to have found something powerful back in the tunnels, he convinces several of the cultists and a rot behemoth to leave their posts, sending Simon 3 along with them. This leaves only a handful of enemies, which are easily dispatched. Grog collapses the passageway behind them as they dash through one of the arches.

Running ahead of the collapsing stone tunnel, the party finally comes in view of an opening to the surface. Vax sneaks ahead to look out of the tunnel, seeing the city of Thar Amphala around him and the bluish-green protective barrier in the sky overhead. The barrier seems to be keeping the wyvern-riders of Vasselheim at bay, along with J'mon Sa Ord, and striking anything that tries to attack it.

Break[edit | edit source]


Part II[edit | edit source]

Retrieving the Sword[edit | edit source]

As Vax reports back, the party decide to make finding the Sword of Kas their next priority. Vex borrows Keyleth's Scrying Eye to get a look at the sword, then casts Locate Object to determine that it is buried somewhere underneath the city. An elaborate planning session ensues. Eventually, it is agreed that half the party will go into Scanlan's Magnificent Mansion, where Vecna has thus far been unable to spy on them, while Vex, wearing her Band of Shrouds, will lead her brother and Keyleth to the sword's location.

The plan works well at first. Scanlan sets up his mansion inside a building they find. Percy places one of their two gate stones near the mansion entrance and gives the other to Vex. Grog, Pike, Percy, and Scanlan go into the mansion while Vex, Vax, and Keyleth venture into the city.

They arrive without too much trouble at a point directly above where Vex senses the sword. Keyleth glides through the earth as an elemental, but is unable to find the sword, so Vex decides to look for it by dousing herself in Oil of Etherealness. It is at this point that the plan begins to go awry.

As Vex fades, along with her ring, into the Ethereal Plane, Vax and Keyleth lose their protection from Vecna's divination magic. Vax hears Vecna whisper in his ear, "Ah, there you are." As gloomstalkerss start to hone in on his location, he is forced to flee back to the mansion.

Vex, now able to pass through the rock, drifts downward and emerges into a cavern where the sword seems to be resting in a greenish pool. Keyleth earthglides her way, blindly, into the same cavern, but is unable to communicate with Vex's ethereal form. Following her best guess, she combs the bottom of the greenish pool until she encounters a sword, which she then drags out of the pool.

After an hour of waiting, Vex's etherealness wears off. Keyleth hands her the sword, which Vex confirms to be the one that she saw during her Scry. Vex uses the gate stone to get back to the mansion while Keyleth glides back in her elemental form.

At the Mansion[edit | edit source]

Back in the mansion, there is a quick, high-pressure rendezvous between the reunited halves of the party. It is clear that, because Vax came through the door without the protection of Vex's ring, Vecna now knows exactly where their safe house is. While Keyleth prepares an emergency Plane Shift, they hear a high-pitched whine from outside. The mansion is dispelled and they are all deposited back into Thar Amphala.

Outside, just finishing her Dispel Magic spell, they see Delilah Briarwood on the back of an undead dragon. Behind her, apparently newly resurrected, sits her husband, the vampire Sylas.

Keyleth desperately casts Plane Shift. Delilah tries and fails to counter it, and the party hear her yelling in frustration as they escape to the Feywild.

In the Feywild[edit | edit source]

Safe for the moment by Nahla's pool, the party catch their breath. Grog attunes the Sword of Kas and finds it sentient, powerful, and single-mindedly bent on the goal of defeating Vecna. The sword, hungry for blood, does force him to take a swing at Vex, but seems to be sated after a successful hit.

Keyleth suggests that, since they are in the Feywild, they may be able to ask the archfey Artagan -- with whom they have some history -- to bend time in their favor when they return to Thar Amphala. This could give them time for a much-needed long rest without putting Vasselheim in jeopardy. Pike uses Sending to contact the fey, presenting a drawing of a happy penis that says, "Cum see us 4 a good time."

Artagan appears almost immediately, saying, "Well? Show me a good time."

Fan art of Artagan strangling Vax, by Nguyen Minh Hieu.[art 1]

A deal is proposed: Artagan will compress their time in the Feywild, making one day pass as only an hour in the Material Plane, and in return, he asks for two things. First, should Vox Machina survive their fight with Vecna, they will help him build a doorway from the Feywild into the Material Plane. Second, because Vax let slip that he can't be killed, Artagan asks to strangle him to death.

Vax'ildan:  "I'm sorry, come again?"
Artagan:  "I wish to put my hands on your throat until you expire. If you say you're unkillable, well! That's a new experience entirely."
Artagan (to Vax)[2]

Since Vax will return the next morning per his deal with the Raven Queen, no one can see any harm in this. They accept it as a weird kink of the chaotic archfey and agree, with some caveats, to the terms. Vax asks everyone else to leave except Grog and Scanlan, who stay to supervise. Artagan then, exactly as promised, chokes Vax to death.

The body turns to ash, and Grog gathers up the equipment. Artagan invites the remainder of the party to rest and "play". Still a little weirded out, they instead use their time to plan for the next day. Eventually Vax shows up, alive and nude, out of the trees, safely returned by the Raven Queen's pact.

Featured Characters[edit | edit source]

Vox Machina[edit | edit source]

New[edit | edit source]

Returning[edit | edit source]

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

Inventory[edit | edit source]

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Relinquished 1 Sphere of Annihilation (Simon 3) Scanlan Remnant member
Expended 1 Oil of Etherealness Vax Vex Transferred Vex to the Ethereal Plane; revealed Vax and Keyleth to Vecna; indirectly revealed Scanlan's Mansion to Vecna
Acquired 1 Sword of Kas mass grave in acid pit under Thar Amphala Keyleth
Transferred 1 Sword of Kas Keyleth Grog
Transferred 1 Deathwalker's Ward Vax Scanlan & Grog Scanlan and Grog made a small shrine with Deathwalker's Ward after Vax died

Quotations[edit | edit source]

  • Vecna (to Vax): Ah. There you are. I've been looking all over for you and your friends. Well. Welcome!
  • Matt (to Travis): Two attacks on Vex, please.
    Vex: Wait, Kas! Kas! Is this Kas? Are you Kas? Kas, this is counterproductive. This is counterproductive! We're all--we're all going after Vecna! This is so stupid! You're ruining your chance of killing Vecna by attacking us.
  • Vax: I'm kind of unkillable for a while.
    Artagan: That's fun.
    Vax: (strained) Well...[3]
  • Artagan (to Vax): I wish to strangle you till death.[4]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This episode marks the third time that Vax'ildan has died.
    • This is the thirteenth on-stream player character death, and the fifteenth overall.
    • This is the first time Vax has died since becoming a revenant in "The Fate-Touched" (1x103).

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. See "Dark Dealings" (1x112) from 9:00 through 10:25.
  2. See "Dark Dealings" (1x112) at 3:34:45.
  3. See "Dark Dealings" (1x112) at 3:33:10.
  4. See "Dark Dealings" (1x112) at 3:34:30.


  1. Fan art of Artagan strangling Vax, by Nguyen Minh Hieu (source).  Used with permission.

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