"Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) is the one hundred tenth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein attend a dinner hosted by a monstrous figure from Caleb's past, where both revelations and questions arise in multitude...
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Previously on Critical Role
So, last we left off: The Mighty Nein, after returning from TravelerCon and their adventures at Rumblecusp, made their way to Nicodranas to catch up a bit with Marion Lavorre, to do some shopping, to set off some research into some aspects of the mysteries that surround some of their recent adventures, and returned Veth to spend some time with her family.
During that period of time, you all decided to make your way to Rexxentrum to speak with Lady Vess DeRogna, one of the members of the Cerberus Assembly, who had previously said that they were interested in some transactions, or a business opportunity, for you after seeing what you had achieved in the name of the negotiation that ended the current war between Xhorhas and the Dwendalian Empire. After doing a little bit of shopping around Rexxentrum and gathering some extremely powerful magical artifacts, you made your way to DeRogna's Tower, had a conversation that outlined the future interest she had to the North in a location known as Eiselcross. She let you know about a shadow war that had been long brewing in that direction, and what seemed to be a race to power between many factions, mainly the Empire and the Dynasty, in search of these ruins that have begun to be uncovered in recent times beneath the ice. Broken bits of the ancient arcane city of Aeor seem to have been slowly recovered from beneath that region, and she would wish you to accompany her there in search of more information and answers as to what it's capable of, what can be found, and preventing others that she feels should not have such power within their midst.
You accepted this and were given about a week or so to return when you finished your preparations to begin your journey to this odd, much colder region of Wildemount. Upon exiting the tower in Rexxentrum, not too terribly long after your arrival, a message was delivered to the group, a letter that was addressed to Bren, and upon reading the letter, it seems that your presence was also noted by Master Trent Ikithon, who then requested the presence of you, Caleb, and your companions, the evening of the next day, to join in his tower, along with your two previous classmates, Astrid and Eadwulf. And that was where we had left off.
When Jester asks Caleb if he's going to accept Trent's dinner invitation, he almost without hesitation says yes. There's a lot he doesn't understand, and he wants to know if Astrid and Eadwulf are redeemable. He has many questions about the Cerberus Assembly as well. He warns the group that Trent, Astrid, and Eadwulf are dangerous, and when Jester and Yasha begin questioning him about his past, takes the party to a small rented inn room. There, he tells them all that Astrid and Eadwulf killed their own flesh and blood when Trent asked them to... and so did he. Jester hugs him, saying she is sorry he felt like he had to hide that from them.
Caleb's main goal is, as it has been since the beginning of the campaign, to atone for his past. While the form that will take has evolved, he knows he wants to put a stop to the Empire's recruitment and brutalization of its children, and to find out if Astrid and Eadwulf can be saved. Jester casts Sending to tell Trent that they will come, and asks about the dress code. They decide to go formal.
Caleb casts Teleport to take them all back to the Lavish Chateau in Nicodranas, where Jester is greeted by a much larger Nugget, and says hello to her mother, asking if she's heard anything from Lord Sharpe since the formal party a few weeks ago. She hasn't. The Mighty Nein then head over to Veth and Yeza's house where they recap events of the past day for Veth and tell her family about their adventures on Rumblecusp, to Luc's delight.
After their meal, Caduceus takes a walk to the Mother's Lighthouse and casts Word of Recall to create a sanctuary there. Jester casts Scry on Lord Robert Sharpe, but sees only that he is currently reading. When the party returns to the Chateau for the evening, Caleb asks Jester to show them her room, which she does. While they're there, she casts Word of Recall as well since, if the Traveler has a temple, this is it.
In the morning, they breakfast at the Chateau. Veth considers bringing her family to Rexxentrum but decides it's too dangerous until the dinner with Trent is over. While Caleb is casting Teleportation Circle, Beau looks out the window searching for Professor Thaddeus, and sees a flying shape just as they run through the Circle.
Arriving in the Rexxentrum Archive, Beau borrows some cold weather gear from the monks and starts trying to do research on Aeor and Foren, but learns they have little information on Eiselcross beyond general geography, confirmation of Vess DeRogna's warning about wild magic there, and the continuing tensions between the Empire and Kryn Dynasty explorers competing to find the source of the found artifacts. Beau learns that Aeor was one of the mightiest of the pre-Calamity floating arcane-centered cities that became powerful enough to believe they had the abiltity to destroy the gods themselves. There were no known survivors from its subsequent destruction by the gods.
The rest of the party goes shopping and orders custom-made cold weather gear. Caleb also gets a new leather harness for his spellbook since it's grown so thick. Veth's outfit includes antler-decorated earmuffs inspired by a red-haired woman she got a glimpse of through the tree transport when Vilya departed. The party spends lavishly and for the most part, gives large enough tips to become very popular within the garment district.
Still at the Archive, Beau is approached by Yudala Fon, who tells her they've been able to turn up nothing on the Eyes of Nine. Beau finds this very hard to believe.
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- Clips from "Talks Machina #146: Episodes 99 through 109" (TMx146).
- Marisha gives a straight, no frills, gags, jokes, green screens, or cosplay thank you for critter support through Twitch subscriptions.
- Critters' art montage.
In the dining room of the luxurious magical tower, they are greeted by Trent Ikithon, Astrid, and Eadwulf. After a brief skirmish over the seating arrangements, Trent introduces his two companions, communicating directly into the parties' minds. Eadwulf comments that as fate continues to draw them together, perhaps the Matron has plans yet for them. Trent invites Caleb's questions, and Caleb asks what Trent sees as the Empire's next step.
Trent avoids answering the question and instead asks about their connection with Vess DeRogna, but the party replies that is private information. There is much tension not only with Trent, but also with Astrid and Eadwulf, and eventually Veth asks if the purpose of the dinner is to invite Bren back into the fold. Trent replies that he just wanted to express his pleasure with Bren's advancement as the prodigy he always knew he was, with unlimited potential and the makings of an eventual Cerberus Assembly member. Some students, often the most talented mages, learn best through being broken, and left to rebuild themselves. With Bren, it took longer than they anticipated, but when he was ready, they turned on the light and showed him the door. Trent produces a symbol of the Archeart which he levitates over the table to land in front of Caleb.
Trent expresses his pride in Caleb, and accepts his hatred, but what he put him through was done out of love, to show him what he was capable of. When Trent told Bren's parents of the spark Trent saw within him, they asked him to do whatever it took to help him realize it, because the nation has need of him. What Caleb is now, what he's accomplished, is the result of what he's endured. He made himself. And he is not the only one of those in the Assembly to have been through similar trauma.
Caleb asks if Trent is comfortable with the idea that Caleb might decide the thing to do now is to supplant Trent himself, and Trent responds that nothing would make him prouder. Eadwulf and Astrid tell Caleb that if he were to replace Trent, they would follow him and do as he commanded. Caleb brings up his prior conversation with Astrid where, he says, he had the impression that she was being groomed for Trent's seat, and she nervously shuts down the inquiry, although Trent adds that he assumes everyone near him is just waiting for his back to be turned. Caleb tells Trent that he hopes Trent means what he says, because the Empire could do better, but Trent responds, "If you are not sometimes the first to cut, you are the first to receive the blade." He clarifies that membership in the Assembly is only given when a member steps down, is kicked out, or dies, and he has no intentions of voluntarily doing any of those. He likes where he is, and it has served him well for a very long time.
Fjord asks how many Luxon Beacons the Empire has, and the apparently truthful answer is "one". Trent also denies knowing anything about the Eyes of Nine. Veth follows up on Bren's imprisonment at the Vergesson Sanatorium for eleven years, asking who freed him. Trent's answer is evasive, asking, "Who do you think freed him?" and gesturing to the symbol of the Archeart. When Caleb holds up his arm and asks how that is going, Eadwulf displays not only the familiar black maze-like tattoos previously seen on Astrid and Owelia, but also similar scars to Caleb's with raised areas of skin over things still embedded beneath.
The dinner over, Trent vanishes, but not before Caduceus tells him that he is a fool. Pain doesn't make people, it's love that makes people. Because Trent has none around him, he fails to see that. Caduceus wishes for him in the future to find someone who will mourn him when he is gone.
Astrid and Eadwulf, at the group's request, accompany them out through the forested courtyard to the estate's gate. Eadwulf produces a flask, which he, Caleb, and Astrid all drink from. Caleb tells them they could come with the party, but Astrid quickly states they could not, glancing upward at a nearby owl in the trees. Everyone says cordial farewells, and Caleb notices Eadwulf is wearing a small silver raven feather pendant. Astrid asks Caleb if he meant what he said inside, that he means to stop Trent, and Caleb confirms, saying nothing is set in stone for her or anyone else. Her response: "Race you to the top."
The party heads to a dive bar. Beau brings up Trent's suggestion that Vess DeRogna hired them as tomb raiders on Shattengrod, suggesting a link to Nonagon's group called the Tomb Takers that Cree had told them about while they were at The Gentleman's headquarters in Zadash. While she theorizes madly, Jester gives Fjord a tarot reading.
They decide, though, that there's enough potential connection to make them want to talk to Cree. Jester Sends to her father, asking if he can get Cree because they need to talk to her. He responds that Cree left months ago. She then Sends to Cree herself, who responds, "Who is this? I don't think I can help you," and fails to respond to a second clarifying message.
Caleb suggests spending the night in Rexxentrum and heading to Zadash in the morning to speak to the Gentleman and check in with Pumat Sol. He leads them to a rather squalid inn and rents nine "functional" rooms, one with a closet. Gathering the group in the closet room, he pulls out Calianna's wand, some stained glass, a piece of granite, and a small wooden cat, and in an amber glow, casts his Magnificent Mansion.
- Beauregard Lionett
- Caduceus Clay
- Caleb Widogast
- Jester Lavorre
- Veth Brenatto/Nott the Brave
- Yasha Nydoorin
- Trent Ikithon
- Marion Lavorre
- Yeza Brenatto
- Luc Brenatto
- The Traveler
- Lord Robert Sharpe (via Jester's Scrying)
- Professor Thaddeus (possibly seen, from a distance)
- Yudala Fon
- The Gentleman (via Jester's Sending)
- Cree (via Jester's Sending)
|Transferred||Some||Bottle rockets||Beau||Luc Brenatto|
|Transferred||Some||Bottle rockets||Luc||Yeza Brenatto||Yeza noted Luc could have them when he's older.|
|Acquired||Pocket bacon||Lavish Chateau buffet||Beau|
|Acquired||Pastries||Lavish Chateau buffet||Jester
|Acquired||Cold weather gear||Rexxentrum Cobalt Soul||Beau|
|Acquired||1||Brooch||Rexxentrum Cobalt Soul||Beau||Brooch with an All-Seeing Eye of Ioun.|
- Caleb: (after admitting he killed his parents to the full party) I suppose I enjoyed being seen as I should have been. Or could have been. [ ... ] Whatever we’re doing here, I have come home in the hopes of atoning. And that idea has evolved quite a bit over time, and I’m not sure what the exact answer is. But I mean to atone.
- Caduceus: (to Caleb) No one should be put through that.
Beau: No one blames you.
Caleb: Well. One person does.
- Caduceus: I think a goal is always better than a grudge. What’s the goal?
- Eodwulf: (to Caduceus) And you, what are you?
Caduceus: Vegetarian, so I hope the meal reflects that.
- Trent Ikithon: "While some students take direct tutelage and study, some are unique in how they best develop, through self-discovery, others inspired through hardship. Historically, the most talented mages have walked this path, for the greatest ambitions come from those who have endured the dark and crawled their way back. [...] I mean this with all due respect, the both of them, their potential is limited. Unlike you, Bren. You have the eventual makings of an Assembly member yourself. And don’t think my eyes are the only ones upon you for this reason - some out of curiosity, others a threat. Forgive me, Bren. I could see your gifts. And your faults, and limitations. To truly grow, you needed to be broken, and left to build yourself. It took longer than we anticipated, but when you were ready, we turned on the light, and showed you the door.” And he takes something from the side of his setting, and it drifts over, across the table in your direction and lands at the front of your plate. You see a familiar symbol, that of the Archeart.
Caleb: This is why I am not dead.
Trent: "Of course. If we wanted you dead, there would have been no escape. And I cannot tell you how proud of you I am. We are. And I know you hate me, Bren, hate what I’ve put you through. And I accept those feelings, for it was a hard choice for me to make. What I did, though, I did out of love.”
Caleb: To what end? To use me?
Trent: “No. To show you what you are capable of. It was your parents’ wish. When I told them of the spark that I saw within you, they asked me to do whatever it took to help you realize it, for the glory of your family, and for the Empire. I did just that, as much as it hurt to hurt you. It is the greater man who puts the needs of others over himself, Bren. And this nation needs you. We need you.”
- Trent: What you are now, what you’ve accomplished, those you’ve drawn around you, and where you go, that is because of what you’ve endured. Not because of a book you read in some hall, with other sniveling rich children. You made yourself. Not myself. Not them. But it took that path of pain to accomplish what this is. And you’re not the only one of us in the Assembly to have been through similar trauma and been defined by it.
- Caduceus: (To Trent Ikithon) May I say before you go, I think perhaps you are one of the most powerful mages that I've ever had the pleasure to be in the presence of. And for this, I would offer a gift. I think it has been a long time since anyone has pointed out to you that you are a fool. Pain doesn't make people; it's love that makes people. The pain is inconsequential; it's love that saves them. And you would know that, but you have none around you. You said so yourself, you surround yourself with lies and deceptions. And I wish for you in the future to find someone who will mourn you when you are gone. Respectfully.
- Fjord: It’s funny that he let Caleb go, and not you. It seems... odd.
Astrid: Caleb was always his favorite. Bren.
Caleb: Well, you were always mine.
- Astrid: (to Caleb, after confirming he means to stop Trent)) Race you to the top.
- Beau: : I don’t know why so many people have gone to such great lengths to try and convince us all that they are responsible for our success. [...] If I hear one more person try and claim that pain is the only way to make a resilient person – what a shitty excuse.
- Jester: You don't think Ikithon's going to come after you?
Caleb: (sarcastically) No, I am his Chosen. I will lead the Empire into a thousand years of glory. Or something.
- The dinner party with Trent, Astrid, and Eadwulf took place on the 1st of Brussendar, 836.
- This episode shares a thumbnail with "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84).
- Caleb believed the woman who cured his insanity in the Vergesson Sanatorium was a follower of the Archeart. When the party found various gods' symbols beneath The Gentleman's Safe House in the Labenda Swamp, Caleb took an Archeart symbol with him. "Lost Treasures" (2x22) at 2:44:31
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 0:20:54.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 0:24:16.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 0:31:49.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 2:37:29.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 2:50:36.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 2:59:38.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 3:22:23.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 3:30:39.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 3:31:51.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 3:36:06.
- See "Dinner with the Devil" (2x110) at 4:00:24.
- Fan art of the party in winter gear, by sashthesloth (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the dinner with Trent, by Galogenida (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Eadwulf and Astrid, by @thetaterart (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Eadwulf after the dinner, by Sophie Hourihane (trolley-problem) (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Beau theorizing, by cinciallegre (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Caleb and Beau's cold weather gear, by linzer art (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Veth and Yasha's winter clothes, by OrcBarbies (source). Used with permission.