"Denouement" (1x35) is the twelfth episode of the third chapter of Critical Role. In the wake of the fateful battle in the Ziggurat, Vox Machina comes face-to-face with the inner demons within Percy both literal and personal. As the Whitestone Rebellion comes to a head, can the party save Percy from the darkness within him? Or is he beyond saving?
Previously on Critical Role
"The Briarwoods—being a family that five years ago took over the city of Whitestone, where Percy hails from, murdered his family and he barely escaped with his life—years later came back into the fold of Vox Machina's existence, and it was decided to go ahead and hunt them down to save the city of Whitestone. Upon arriving, they began to stir a rebellion within the town, against this horrible undead-controlled menace by Lady Briarwood herself. After this rebellion was incited, fires were burning, individuals were killed that were responsible for keeping the people down, and just generally bad people all around were being slaughtered by our intrepid adventurers.
"They made their way into Whitestone Castle, where they had uncovered some information about the Ziggurat, a project which the Briarwoods had been developing for something beneath the city of Whitestone, and discovered that Percy's sister Cassandra, who was thought to be dead long ago, actually still survived and was being kept in the castle. She joined the party as [they] fought their way down underneath the city of Whitestone through a series of tunnels, finding [themselves] unintentionally locked within a trap, a retooled version of what was previously an acid distillery for the white stone that's actually mined from the surrounding mountains, and thought left for dead by the Briarwoods themselves. Vax was charmed and taken along with them. Upon facing the danger of this trap and seeing Cassandra turn redcoat to them with the Briarwoods, the party managed to think their way out of the trap before too much damage was taken, and following the Briarwoods to the final chamber where the Ziggurat was constructed, where apparently there is some sort of ritual underway to some entity that they worship or work with they refer to as the "Whispered One".
"Upon following, the party dividing up and following up the sides of the Ziggurat, they managed to catch and encounter the Briarwoods, a charmed Vax, and Cassandra before they could enter the actual ritual chamber. A battle commenced where, thanks to proper preparation, did not go all so poorly, and in the process Sylas Briarwood was destroyed through a combination of Sunbeam via Keyleth and some Pike shield-deflection—very Avengers moment, with a hint of phallic imagery. Sylas' destruction sent Delilah into a mournful wail, and she decided to try and complete the ritual herself, although it may or may not have been too soon to do so. [She] Dimension Door'ed her way into the ritual room, which [Vox Machina] followed over the wall. She seemed to complete the ritual, creating this small, vacuous, spinning black sphere that is locked in place. Vex was nearly felled by a spell as she attempted to fly in and stop it. The party then rushed in to aid Vex, Percy took a shot that intentionally did not finish Lady Briarwood, only taking off her right arm as she fell unconscious and bleeding out, Vex unconscious from the fall and also on the cusp of dying. The party rushed in to help her and realized that seemingly the vicinity around this orb had cut all magic. Thus they were snatched up and escorted off the side of the Ziggurat."
As the group rushes away from the ziggurat, the anti-magic field again pulses and Pike’s radiant form shimmers and blinks out. They all panic slightly but continue to press forward, trying to get out of the area and hoping to heal Vex, who is unconscious and bleeding out. They make it to the bronze room and try healing again, and this time it works. Vex conscious again, they wait for Vax and Keyleth to catch up to see what she was able to do to the temple.
Keyleth tells them she was unable to use any magic, including her wildshape ability. As they talk about what to do next, Pike’s form flashes backs into existence and sets about healing the group. Grog staunches Lady Briarwood's bleeding and pulls her away from the group as Pike lets go of the radiant energy. Percy then wakes Cassandra, and the talk turns to the building below their city. She has no idea what its true purpose is, but Scanlan manages to pull a small nugget of memory of a being called Vecna, a lich of once-great power that sought godhood. As they talk, Percy feels a warm pulse in his hand and a voice from deep within him urges him to kill Lady Briarwood.
Percy begins talking out loud, battling the entity within him, and the group begins to wonder if he’s losing it. The thing urges Percy to kill Delilah, to finish what he started, and then to kill Cassandra as well. He moves the pepperbox back and forth between them, as well as putting it to his own head. The thing tells him they had a deal, but Percy tells it that to him, it was nothing more than a dream. He drops the gun after trying to fire it knowing full well it's broken. His hand, without his control, goes for Bad News, but he pulls it away. Vax has a dagger ready as the rest of the group begins to ready themselves.
As the discussion bounces back and forth between Vecna, killing Briarwood, and the thing within Percy, his hands reach back again for the gun strapped to his back, the smoke floating off of him and taking some kind of almost-humanoid form behind him. As it does, the strange beak-like face peeks out, and the form swells and grows large, taking up the entire area of the tunnel they are in. The voice tells Percy to kill Delilah, and for the first time the others hear it speak, as Vex looses an arrow dipped in holy oil.
Vex’s arrows find their mark, striking true both times and causing the smoke creature to reel back in pain. Scanlan's Lightning Bolt harmlessly passes through it. The creature warns Percy not to double cross Orthax and moves between them all, screeching. Vax and Grog both are taken by a blind rage and attack the nearest person to them. Grog attacks Scanlan who uses his Cutting Words to clear Grog’s head just enough to dodge the attack.
Vax drives at Pike, but she sees it coming and gets her shield up in time to block the attack. Seeing his trick fail, the entity disappears into the wall trying to reassess what it can do. Everyone readies their weapons to attack, watching the wall and waiting for the thing to return, as Cassandra takes the rapier Percy offers and heads back towards the castle proper.
Pike casts Protection from Evil on Percy, protecting him from fiends. Everyone waits, and as Vax tries to position himself behind Trinket the thing comes out of the wall behind him. Everyone lets loose with their readied actions. Percy lands a shot with Bad News, Vax has one dagger find purchase, Scanlan mocks it viciously, Vex pierces it with her last holy arrow, and Grog slams his hammer into it twice. The attacks begin to mount as its form begins to lose the smoke obscuring it as Pike lets go with a higher power Guiding Bolt, which slams directly into the chest of the thing, blasting the smoke further away, revealing a muscular torso and long arms with clawed fingers.
Orthax retaliates with three strikes against Pike, two of them landing as its claws dig into the astral form trying to rip her will away, but she is too strong for it. Grog slams the hammer into it twice, and Keyleth lights up the area Orthax is in with a Daylight spell, casting a spotlight on the creature. There’s a whisper over the area and a sound of clinking chains as Pike lets go another guiding bolt, but it misses just over the shoulder. Vex darts out and fires a pair of arrows into it, which now land on the form of the creature. Percy yells that Delilah is getting away, as Vax moves and tosses a dagger at the invisible form he thinks he sees and it strikes true. She falls to the ground instantly, as behind her Orthax lets go with another screech. This time Grog and Trinket both fall to the rage and turn on Pike. Grog misses, but Trinket’s teeth sink deep into the glowing form of Pike. Feeling good, Orthax takes off after Percy, but Grog and Trinket are faster. Grog pounds his torso into the ground with the hammer, and then Trinket rips the entity's head off. His form turns to smoke, and then the smoke falls into the ground. It snaps back into Percy’s shadow, a cold feeling washing over him. Vax pulls Delilah up to a sitting position, telling Percy to finally end it. He turns, and tells Cassandra that she needs to finish it instead. The girl thrusts the rapier her brother gave her into the woman’s chest, killing her. They loot her corpse as Cassandra begins to drag her body away to ensure that what is dead stays dead.
They make their way to the room with the acid pits, and toss Delilah’s corpse in. As they look around the room, Percy manages to remove Cassandra’s name from the pepperbox with some acid. However, feeling as if that wouldn’t be enough, Scanlan uses magic to take the gun, and much to Percy’s chagrin and a helpful Hold Person from Keyleth, he tosses The List into the acid vat. It sinks slowly, as Percy curses him about the money he just threw away. As the gun burns, a little puff of dark smoke rises, and the cold core in Percy’s gut is extinguished.
Returning upstairs, the party meets an armed group of townsfolk led by Yennen, and assure them that the Briarwoods are dead and Whitestone is free once more. They post guards at the castle and walk into the center of town, as Keyleth pushes away the clouds to allow the sunset to shine through. The people have gathered at the Sun Tree and Yennen addresses them to share the joyous news of their freedom.
A full celebration breaks out as the citizens of Whitestone are finally, for the first time in a long time, allowed to be truly happy. Yennen calls for calm, with guards bringing forward the captured Countess Jazna Graben and Duke Goran Vedmeyer. Yennen finds them guilty of treason and asks Vox Machina deliver the judgment. They remain defiant, but Vax offers them life if they choose to help rebuild the city. Goran accepts, but Jazna spits at their feet and refuses. Grog, without hesitation, beheads her so swiftly that it stuns the crowd, before they erupt into cheers. Percy declares that Whitestone is now a town of mercy as well as justice, and Scanlan concurs, stating "Let hers be the last blood shed."
The body of Jazna is cleaned up, while Vedmeyer is taken away in chains by the guards. Tables are brought out to the center, glasses are set about, and drinks are being poured as a giant central table at the base of the Sun Tree is set for the members of Vox Machina. A meal is prepared out of whatever the citizens of Whitestone have available, akin to a potluck dinner where everyone is sharing what they have with their neighbors.
Scanlan gives a young boy 15 gold and directs him, "For the love of god, find me a fucking beret." The young boy, Randall, returns with Scanlan's beret. Scanlan is thrilled and allows the boy to keep the change, telling him to buy the biggest goose in town. Grog dispenses ale to the town's patrons, and guzzles some down himself with the intention of emptying the cask.
Percy tells Keeper Yennen about what lies beneath the Sun Tree. Yennen informs the group that most of the books in Whitestone were confiscated when the Briarwoods took over. He is relieved to see that it appears that no more of the dead are rising from their graves. Scanlan suggests they build a library to house the remaining books.
Keyleth approaches the Sun Tree to check it out as the sun begins to set and the evening falls. Placing her hand on it, she casts Commune With Nature on the Sun Tree. Where she previously felt nothing but dead wood and a lack of any presence, she now feels a small seed of life within the Sun Tree once again. She also senses that at least some element nearby relates to a realm of shadow. Finally, she asks how the tree is feeling, and in response she gets a sense of weariness from the tree, as if something long dormant is just awakening. However, it is a positive feeling. She bids the tree a good morning, and is startled when the Sun Tree responds to her, saying, "The sun just set. It's not morning."
Vax, seeing Keyleth at the tree, approaches, but as he does Grog attempts to pants him. Vax deftly manages to avoid the embarrassment by leaping straight up into the air, landing a foot in front of the goliath. As Keyleth finishes her conversation with the Sun Tree, Vax reaches out and tries to interlace his fingers with her free hand. Keyleth, startled, leaps away instinctively, not having expected anyone to approach. She looks at Vax with surprise and sudden horror. He simply stands, looking at her, saying, "I already said it." After a long moment of silence, Keyleth says, "I'm sorry. I don't know. I'm really confused," to which Vax responds, "All right," and begins to walk off. Keyleth stops him, telling him she's not sure his feelings are real, and that a part of her is afraid. Vax's answer is that he'll wait for her.
Keeper Yennen approaches the members of Vox Machina, less Keyleth and Vax'ildan, and tells them that there is still a lot of work to be done, and though the evening's festivities seemed a "fine improvisational event," he would like to extend an invitation to them to rebuild Whitestone, and aid in the first real shining moment in Whitestone's history since the fall of the de Rolo family — the Winter's Crest festival, something not celebrated in the past five years. Percy and Cassandra both agree, with the other members of Vox Machina behind them.
Vex'ahlia requests that Keeper Yennen send word to Sovereign Uriel to let him know of their contributions in Whitestone, adding that he ought to make special mention of how terrible the Briarwoods truly were. Yennen tells her that it will be done, and Vax'ildan expects that the Sovereign will feel foolish in light of his earlier actions against Vox Machina in Emon.
For the rest of the evening, the members of Vox Machina enjoy and revel in the merriment of the impromptu festival, looking about the post-sunset night descending on Whitestone, and enjoying the first evening where they can hear smiles, cheers, and laughter within the town.
- Percival de Rolo
- Scanlan Shorthalt
- Grog Strongjaw
- Pike Trickfoot
|Acquired||1||Very fine robe||Delilah Briarwood||Vax||Soaked in blood|
|Acquired||1||Cloak of Displacement||Delilah Briarwood||Vax||Made from the hide of a Displacer Beast|
- Percy: (to Orthax) Did I even want revenge before I talked to you? Did I? I don't remember anymore. What does she die for? What do I even need? I want my country. I want my sister! I've killed two of those who have wronged me and nothing is better. Nothing feels better, nothing is avenged. What is this worth to you?
- Vex: (As The List sinks in the acid pool) Percy, dear. You’ll thank us for this later, I know it.
Percy: He’s paying for a new one.
Vex: I kiss his cheek and say, "I’m so sorry."
- Keyleth: (to Vax) I’d be lying if I said often at night when I go to sleep, your face isn’t the last thing that crosses my mind. But with the weight of the world and the weight of the contact-embarrassment from our fellow party, currently, it’s hard to focus on. (hesitantly) You said that when you were near death. We say a lot of things when we’re near death. How do I know that’s what you were truly feeling?
Vax: I wore a mask for a long time, where I grew up. And I’m not going to do that anymore. I’ll wait.
Vax: For you.
Keyleth: Okay. I don’t know what else to say right now. I’m really tired. Really tired. I think there’s also a part of me that’s just afraid.
Vax: I feel like I’m going to get pantsed by a goliath at any moment. Don’t do anything. Don’t change anything. I haven’t lied. I’ve told the truth. If you’ll have me, I’m yours. If you don’t want me, I understand. And that’s all there is to say. And then I actually walk off.