"Denizens of the Moonbrush" (1x61) is the fifth episode of the fifth chapter of Critical Role. The satyr guide, Garmelie, leads Vox Machina toward the cancerous tree that houses Fenthras, Wrath of the Fey Warden, one of the Vestiges of the Divergence. The journey through the Feywild presents several challenges, but the biggest and scariest threats aren't always the most dangerous in this strange realm...

Synopsis

Pre-Show

  • Before the episode began on Twitch, the updated Critical Role fan art appreciation video aired. This was excluded from Geek & Sundry's YouTube version of the episode.

Announcements

  • GenCon
  • Poster by Joma Cueto
  • Upcoming live episode in Indianapolis, IN.
  • Laura and Travis are going to see Hamilton
  • Backblaze is sponsoring the show: backblaze.com/criticalrole

Previously on Critical Role

Vox Machina, in attempting to find ways to topple and destroy the Chroma Conclave, have found their way around the world seeking items called the Vestiges of Divergence—artifacts of great power that should aid them in their attempt to take down Thordak, the Cinder King, the red dragon that now sits lording over the central town of Emon in the kingdom of Tal'Dorei.

Their recent journey has brought them into the Feywild, a pseudo-parallel plane of fey magic, chaos, and all sorts of "goodness" in-between. They've wandered through, met an old friend in Nahla the nymph of the lake, discovered a fantastically artistically-talented satyr by the name of Garmelie, and had a trip to the city of Syngorn, the elven city from Tal'Dorei, which had phased into this realm for safety when the dragons of the Conclave attacked.

After a faithful re-meeting with the parents of Vex and Vax, discussions were had, hats were attempted to be stolen [from] the leader of the city—and successfully done so. The other half of agreements were... pseudo-achieved, and they made their way northward through the Evershifting Grasses to the outskirts of the Moonbrush, a heavy, heavy forested wood that will lead them to their destination after that, which is the Gilded Run, a series of rivers that wrap around their final destination, the Shademurk Bog, where apparently Fenthras exists.

You guys had managed to wander a few hours into the southern portion of the forest, of the Moonbrush. Coming through, you realize that, as opposed to the rest of the Feywild you've encountered so far, which exists in a perpetual dusk, there is an actual starry sky and moonlight poking through—a full moon—at portions of the canopy of this forest. Cruising ever-forward, you stumble upon what looked like some sort of a cave or a cavern, with a series of small stone and wooden trinkets and gifts that were left outside, as well as carved bones and rotting fruits. You came to realize that these were probably left for the spiritual entity that lived and existed within this cavern. Upon some of these gifts being disturbed, the bear attacked, and Vex'ahlia summoned forth Trinket, her faithful companion bear. A battle took place, putting Trinket in a difficult position, but upon a brief discussion with this spirit bear, had proven himself a worthy entity and was bestowed a boon, further solidifying the bond between Vex'ahlia and her faithful companion Trinket.

Part I

While Percy investigates the bear spirit's cave, noticing that the stone was definitely worked by hand, Keyleth reflects on the nature of guardian spirits, which can form due to the accumulated force of the people's belief and worship over time. Vex'ahlia and Keyleth explain to the rest of the group that Trinket defended them from a bear spirit, but Grog wants to explore the cave. The party agrees that it would be a bad idea, but just as Grog resigns himself to skipping the adventure, Scanlan volunteers to accompany him.

Hoisting Scanlan over his back, Grog dashes into the cave and through a tunnel, ending up in a distant cavern. There, they find a circle of candles around a raised platform upon which rests a large, gemstone-carved beast's skull. After deciding to leave it be, they exit the cave (albeit with a dramatic flair) and push on. Avoiding a field of mandrake, the intrepid group hears some faint folk music. Vax'ildan and Vex investigate with Garmelie in tow. Vax pushes further ahead despite Vex's misgivings and discovers a campsite clearing, where an elven Verdant Guard soldier and a lycanthrope are dancing to music played by glowing spectral musical instruments.

Fan art of the dance trap, by Lap Pun Cheung.[art 1]

Vax becomes Charmed by the music and wanders out of stealth to join hands with the soldier and lycan, dancing along to the tune. Vex grabs Scanlan, who immediately begins humming a Countercharm tune, and attempts to rescue her brother. Vex resists the charm, but Scanlan fails and jumps off the broom to dance along. Vex puts Vax into the Raven's Slumber necklace and grabs Scanlan. The soldier and lycan attempt to hold onto Scanlan, and Vex notices the dancers are gaunt and suffering from being forced to dance for an unknown length of time. Noticing that plugging their ears has no effect, Vex and Percy aim their weapons at the instruments and fire, which causes the instruments to disperse, and causes psychic damage to Scanlan while the soldier and lycan collapse to the ground. A moment later, the spectral instruments rematerialize and resume playing their music. Scanlan continues to dance while Keyleth punches Grog to allow him to rage and dash into the camp. Grog successfully grabs Scanlan and runs back, while Percy shoots Grog to allow his rage to continue unabated and exit the range of the music. Garmelie expresses frustration at Vox Machina, stating that the location was the campsite of which they had been warned[1], and the group move on.

As they continue towards their destination, discussing the lycans Garmelie had mentioned, Vex notices a pair of yellow eyes within the forest, and moments later, Vox Machina finds themselves surrounded by several unclothed but armed creatures that seem to be part-beast, part-human: most wolflike, but also including one bear and one tiger. The tiger accuses them of intruding; though Scanlan explains that they only seek passage through to the Shademurk Bog, they summon the lycan leader Ukurat to determine if they will hunt or parley with the group.

Ukurat arrives, identifying the lycans as the Fendir, and agrees not to eat the party if they perform a favor: destroy a crystal stone circle among the homes of the Wisher pixies. According to Ukurat, they have been preying on the Fendir, turning them into decorative statues, and wish to see the lycans exterminated. Though initially hesitant and feeling that they do not know the full context of the situation, the party proposes to agree to these terms, provided they are permitted safe passage out of the Moonbrush. Ukurat states that the lycans only wish to live in peace and safety; though Keyleth attempts to broker peace without destruction, he refuses, telling them to go speak with the Wishers to inform their decision.

Vox Machina discuss their options: Vax is concerned about conflict with the pixies, citing the party's poor experience with charms earlier. Grog reminds the party that Garmelie recommended against taking sides in this conflict. Percy points out that they only need to destroy a relic, though Keyleth expresses her concern that trying to do so will result in bloodshed; she instead suggests speaking with them and asking them to pretend the relic was destroyed. Percy just wants to see the pixies, Scanlan wants to fight the lycans, and Vex protests.

They eventually determine to head in that direction, following the lights as Ukurat instructed, luring Garmelie into following along with the opportunity to draw the pixies.

Break

  • Backblaze is sponsoring Critical Role, so a promo aired during the break. Use backblaze.com/criticalrole to sign up for a free fifteen-day trial of the service.

Part II

Scanlan reads his book as they walk; he now has about four and a half hours to go. The party eventually comes across a thicket containing a cluster of about two dozen tiny homes glowing in the darkness, about basketball-sized and looking as if they were grown from trees. They spot the crystal circle as well as three statues of lycans, adorned with vines and flowers. They discuss several options, and Keyleth suggests casting Hallucinatory Terrain to fool the Fendir into believing they destroyed the village. The party majority enthusiastically agrees, and Keyleth casts the spell, making the village look burned and destroyed. Vox Machina flees duskward, eventually running into a solid invisible barrier preventing them from leaving the area. They turn to find the lycans watching them.

Lord Ukurat steps forward as the lycans surround them. He tells them that if they had really destroyed the village, everyone would have been free to leave, and the party promises to go back and finish the job. The lycans leave, and Grog tries unsuccessfully to attack the barrier, while Vex'ahlia determines it is a dome above them as well. They decide to rest and figure it out in the morning, so Vex and Scanlan take first watch, while Keyleth goes for a prowl in Minxie form. She encounters two pixies, apparently a search party trying to figure out what "did this". They inspect her and decide she's harmless, and she continues to follow them for some time, still in Minxie form. Eventually they join a third pixie and become suspicious of the giant cat following them. They try twice to cast a spell on her but she resists the effect both times, and the pixies go off to tell "her" about this strange creature.

Meanwhile, Vex notices Keyleth hasn't returned and wakes Vax'ildan. He bamfs out his wings and takes off, but the denseness of the forest canopy prevents flight. Scanlan finishes reading his book (gaining +2 to Charisma) and immediately drops into exhausted sleep. Keyleth returns safely and the party rests, with Vax and Grog keeping watch. They are spotted by two patrolling pixies who move off again, and Vax wakes Vex, who wakes Percy. Still exhausted, Percy writes a note for the fairies and tries to get back to sleep, but when Grog and Vax both fall asleep, Percy gets up to keep Vex company. She pulls out the gold tea set and starts the music box going while Percy makes tea, but the fairies don't appear.

In the morning, Vex is the only one who didn't get enough sleep to regain her spells. They see a cluster of seven fairy lights coming toward them, a delegation. The party welcomes them, telling them the lycans tried to force them to do the pixies harm. The fairies notice Grog is wounded, and this disquiets them greatly. The leader casts a petrification spell on him, turning him to stone, and the conversation continues. The party tries to convince the fairies that they are afraid of the lycans, and all they want is to leave and continue their search for the cancerous tree. The pixies eventually agree to let them leave but refuse to un-petrify Grog and attempt to take him with them to add to their garden as the price for the rest of the party's freedom. Percy casts Hex on the leader and the battle is on.

The pixies immediately attempt a spell, which Scanlan Counterspells, but then is shocked when the pixes are able to Counterspell his Fireball. Throughout the fight, the pixies are able to Counterspell Keyleth's Sunbeam and Greater Restoration spells, and Scanlan's Thunderwave. Luckily, the party is able to resist most of the feys' spellcasting, but Scanlan is turned into a badger. Percy, Vex, and Vax are able to cause physical damage, killing the leader who had cast on Scanlan, and he returns to gnome form. Keyleth lets out a wolf howl, hoping to summon the lycans to aid them. Vax is hit by a petrification spell that restrains him and begins turning him to stone, but the party is able to finish off all the pixies but one, who begins running. Suddenly, the massive wolf figure of Lord Ukurat appears in front of it and eats it.

Keyleth is able to use Greater Restoration on both Vax and Grog to de-petrify them, and Garmelie appears from behind a tree. They all follow Ukurat back to the pixie village, where the rest of the Fendir are finishing off the last of them. Lord Ukurat goes to the stone circle and wrestles two of them out of the ground. A crack of thunder cascades throughout the forest as the stone circle dims and goes cold. Ukurat announces that they, including his people, are all now free. Since the party held up their end of the bargain, if they need him in the future, just call and he will be at their back.

They continue traveling, passing through the area where the boundary had been. Finally, Garmelie announces that they've reached the Gilded Run. They prepare a comfortable place to sleep among the branches of the Moonbrush.

Post-Show

  • After the episode ended on Twitch, the updated Critical Role fan art appreciation video aired.
  • Backblaze is sponsoring Critical Role, so a promo aired after the fan appreciation video. Use backblaze.com/criticalrole to sign up for a free fifteen-day trial of the service.

Featured Characters

Vox Machina

New

  • Unnamed Verdant Guard member (killed indirectly by Vox Machina)
  • Unnamed dancing werewolf (killed indirectly by Vox Machina)
  • Six unnamed Wisher pixies (killed by Vox Machina)
  • Mystic Iotha (elder Wisher pixie; killed by Vox Machina)
  • Jameson, Garmelie's uncle (mentioned only)
  • Lord Ukurat, a member of the Fendir (also pluralized as "Fendirs")

Returning

Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Acquired 2 Dead crystals Wisher pixie village Percy Inert when removed from the magical circle
Acquired 2 Sapphires Wisher pixie village The party Worth 200 gp each
Acquired 1 Cracked diamond Wisher pixie village The party Worth about 1000 gp
Acquired 1 Carved onyx dog statue Wisher pixie village The party

Quotations

  • Percy: I slowly crawl out. I pull out a piece of parchment, and I write: "Hello, fairies. We’re napping." And I put it on the tree above us and go back to sleep.[2]

External Links

References

  1. See "The Feywild" (1x59) at 2:17:55.
  2. See "Denizens of the Moonbrush" (1x61) at 2:37:52.

Art:

  1. Fan art of the dance trap, by Lap Pun Cheung (source).  Used with permission.


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