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"Heart-to-Heartmoor" (3x17) is the seventeenth episode of the third campaign of Critical Role. With a strange job to take and stranger mysteries to chase, Bells Hells prepares for their journey into the Oderan Wilds while opening up about their lives and their secrets...

Synopsis

Announcements

  • It's Critical Role's seventh year anniversary! Thanks to all the Critters who've come along for the crazy ride.
  • First sponsor tonight is Cash App, presenting the Finger Championship Games (FCG). Marisha and Travis's fingers duke it out for an unspecified cash prize. Use code CRITROLE for $15 (terms apply).
  • Carrying that energy forward, second sponsor is Book Two of Griffon's Saddlebag, a compendium of 5e magical items, subclasses, playable races, and campaign settings.
  • Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep is out! Beginning in Xhorhas and traveling through Ank'Harel to the Netherdeep, it's available through the US Critical Role shop, local game stores, and other book outlets.
  • Laura unveils the cuteness that is Kiri Plushes! Available through the CR shops in two sizes with removeable hood and backpack that may or may not also fit small pets.

Previously on Critical Role

Last we left off, Bells Hells had seen their friend Dorian off with his brother Cyrus on Ariks Eshteross's airship to Tal'Dorei to keep them both safe for the time being. Upon looking to delve into some of the mysteries surrounding your recent ill luck in social endeavors here in Jrusar, you ran into the Green Seekers, a pair of well-known investigators here in Marquet and beyond. To build trust with them to absolve yourself of the growing mistrust they seem to have in encountering you, you together delved into the mines deep beneath the Smolder Spire in Jrusar, battled through shade creepers, and eventually stumbled upon on the trail of Lady Emoth Kade, the Shade Mother: a large misshapen entity that seemed to be the source of the ever-mutating shade creeper hordes that were tunneling through the city, stealing and thieving.

You managed to capture Lady Kade herself and roll her out while escaping the Shade Mother through the help of some ingenuity and the sacrifice of one magical rope into some drill machinery and left in the abandoned mine. After going your separate ways, you managed to gather yourselves and what strength you had left after a long, hard-fought battle. Bruised and battered a bit, you went and got rooms for the night there at the Soot and Swill, where you were looking over a glowing stone that you had discovered within the area of the shade mother's den, as well as you sleeping through an important date you had set.

Part I

As Imogen drifts into sleep cradling the purple crystal from the Shade Mother's lair, she finds herself in her familiar dream of walking through a field surrounded by the iron-like smell of an approaching red storm and her mother's voice in her mind saying, "Imogen, run!" She glances down to see the small purple gem in her hand, which seems to offer a different means of escape. As the storm strikes, she runs, calling to her mother, but just as she reaches the safety of the farmhouse, she wakes up to find the purple crystal cradled in her arms. She wakes Laudna and tells her about the dream. Unable to sleep, Imogen goes downstairs, leaving the crystal with Laudna.

In the morning, FCG seems to have recovered from his glitching of the previous day. Laudna gives Imogen back the bundled crystal and FCG Identifies it as a shard of the Gnarlrock (from the Feywild) that causes things around it to mutate and change. Laudna asks Fearne about her past in the Feywild, and Fearne says she left to explore and to find her parents, whom she hasn't seen for a very long time. They left many years ago to travel the Material Plane. The last letter from them was from Aeor.

The party decides to pursue their interrupted plan from the previous day to take Jiana Hexum's job in the Heartmoor, first stopping by Zhudanna's to pre-pay rent. Once at Hexum Manor, Ashton introduces the party to Lady Hexum. She goes over the job again: steal a designated object from a "friend" of hers, Evon Hytroga, who owns and runs the Twilight Mirror Museum, before a team from another "friend" (Mistress Isha Sabanis) can do so. They will receive 500 gold apiece if they succeed, with a possible additional bonus of 500 apiece more if they really embarrass Evon in the process. She also pays them 300 gold for food and travel, which FCG requests and receives in the form of a diamond. Lady Hexum is very interested in FCG, speculating they could sell them for more than 20,000 gold.

Fan art of Fearne and Laudna explaining events, by Magsowo.[art 1]

The team splits into three. Fearne and Laudna tell Lord Eshteross all about their encounter with the Green Seekers, Emoth Kade, and the Shade Mother. He warns them to stay on the Honored Trails during their journey. Meanwhile, Ashton, Orym, and FCG head to Krook House where Milo inspects FCG, diagnoses a form of pent-up energy within their metal body, and is also able to upgrade FCG so that switching arms is now included in their turn.

Meanwhile, Imogen and Chetney rent five carefully-selected horses and a small chariot-like cart. On the way back, Imogen tells Chetney about the red storm she sees in her dreams, and he suggests that it may be a memory of something that happened to her when she was very young. The thought terrifies Imogen.

As the party reconvenes, they buy supplies for the trip, then move through the Steps of Jrusar at the spires' base and head out into the jungle on the Honored Trails leading to the Heartmoor.

Break

Part II

Fan art of the rabbit with the Feywild shard, by KageSatsuki.[art 2]

It is three to four days on horseback via the Honored Trails to Heartmoor Hamlet, five in bad weather.

Day 1 - The party chooses and names their horses and heads northward. Along the way, a four-foot-long timber rabbit leaps out of the brush with a glimmering pink stone in its jaws and darts into the jungle. Orym runs after it and eventually manages to sneak up and snatch the stone from its mouth, giving it to Imogen when he rejoins the party. At nightfall, they make camp and spend an uneventful night.

Day 2 - In the morning, FCG Identifies the stone as a Feywild shard which Imogen keeps. Noting the many recent connections to the fey world, the party questions Fearne about it and she invites them all to visit it with her sometime. She also notices a faint fey energy to the whole jungle around them. The rest of the day of travel is uneventful.

That evening, during their watch, Ashton attempts and fails to pickpocket from Fearne. In their conversation, he shares that his body wasn't always rock-like and hard. He started to slowly shift when he was about ten or twelve years old, and isn't really sure why.

During their watch together, Orym asks Laudna about Whitestone. She tells him she had a lovely agrarian childhood, but things slowly started to change once the Briarwoods overthrew the ruling de Rolo family. When she received an invitation to dine at their castle, her family thought it was a great boon and she attended the festivities. At the castle, she was tossed clothes to wear and served a wonderful dinner before being brutally beaten. Things were a little fuzzy after that, but she remembers being hung from the Sun Tree, and her ears being cut to make them pointy.[1]

Fan art of Orym with the blue flower, by Maddy Marshall.[art 3]

Day 3 - Midway in their travels through a stormy day, a bolt of lightning hits a nearby tree. They investigate and notice a glowing blue-petaled flower in the center of the freshly-split tree. As Orym takes it, a bolt of lightning leaps from it to hit him. FCG Identifies it as a blue Chromatic Rose. During their night watch together, FCG and Imogen simultaneously cast Detect Thoughts on each other, sharing their memories and emotions.

Day 4 - Chetney asks Orym about his moon tattoo, and Orym explains it's to help him remember his husband, Will, who was killed six years ago in the attack on Zephrah by dark leather-clad assassins. That attack led Keyleth to ask him, Fearne, and Dorian to travel to Marquet to investigate.

The rest of the day passes without issue. The jungle starts to become less lush and dense and becomes marshy in spots.

Day 5 - Travel goes uneventfully. That night, Laudna notices a tiny glowing humanoid figure just hanging around. When it starts to rain, she and Ashton try to talk to it but it neither approaches nor runs away although they sense it wants to communicate. Laudna wakes Imogen but it doesn't respond to her, either, and Ashton makes it a small improvised shelter. Imogen wakes Fearne, who calls to it and it approaches slightly. As Fearne moves toward it, it pulses and glows, and Fearne continues walking past it into the night until she is caught by Ashton. The fairy pursues them, a pulsing tendril extending from its base before it withdraws, and Ashton sees that its face is only an approximation. A 20-foot circle of tentacle-like vines and roots begins shifting around them. They have been lured to the base of a large, 15-foot tall, crane-like plant creature with a heavy sharpened beak and a mane of blood-colored leaves. Its mouth opens, a single vine-like lure dangling in front.

Featured Characters

Fan art of the party riding through the jungle, by Lap Pun Cheung.[art 4]

Bells Hells

Returning

New

  • Willam, Lantern Spire stablemaster

Mentioned

Quotations

  • Imogen: I think you are alive, FCG.
    FCG: Well, that's an opinion, and opinions are like opera. Sure, you can listen to them, but why would you, really?
  • Imogen: Heard you slept through everything.
    Chetney: No! I was actually out getting a 10K in because I do fasted cardio. Sometimes you just gotta take care of yourselves before the sun comes up.
    Orym: Took care of yourself, did ya?
    Chetney: Fucking Orym. So anything interesting happen last night? Did anybody get their rooms invaded by any holes or anything?
  • Fearne: I'll probably make my rounds through everybody.
    Laudna: I feel like that's the first true thing Fearne's ever said.
  • Chetney: (about the red storm in Imogen's dreams) Are you sure this didn't happen to you when you were very, very young and you just are remembering it? [...] Maybe the red storm isn't an analogy or a metaphor. What if it's real?
    Imogen: Yeah, that would be fucking terrifying.
    Chetney: If your mom's in a library somewhere, it's something terrifying.
  • Ashton: Tastes like rabbit saliva. Oof. Ugh.
    Laudna: Why do you keep licking it?
    Ashton: I don't know!
    Laudna: Can I taste it? [...] Oh, it's good.
  • Orym: (to Laudna) You are the happiest person in this bunch.
    Laudna: Of course. The worst thing that's ever happened to me has already happened.
  • FCG: We have such similar abilities, it might be interesting to just sort of like, simul-probe [our minds]. Let's do it. I'm going to go deep. All the way.
    Imogen: Hard. Deep and hard.
    FCG: No one else is awake, right?
    Imogen: No, no, we're good. How many attachments you got?
    FCG: How many what?
  • Laudna: (to Fearne) We think there's a fairy or a pixie or a fey. He's got wings--
    Fearne: Oh, bitches! No, go back to bed. Leave it alone....Those are like rats.
  • Taliesin: I would wander into a forest for a flying gummy bear. Fuck yes.

Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Acquired 1 diamond Jiana Hexum FCG Worth 300 gold, to be used for Revivify.
Rented 5 horses and cart Rapid Path Stables The party 150 gp plus a 150 gp deposit, paid by Chetney.
Acquired 1 Feywild shard Timber rabbit Orym
Imogen
Orym snatched it and later gave it to Imogen.
Acquired 1 blue Chromatic Rose lightning-struck tree Orym Provides lightning resistance or one-time cone of lightning.

Trivia

  • The party rides five horses onto the Honored Trails, to whom they give the following names:
    • Escargot, a black horse with a white pastern ridden by Laudna
    • Heart, a brown horse with a blond mane ridden by Imogen and drawing Fresh Cut Grass
    • Loonch, a brown-and-white paint ridden by Ashton and named by Chetney (because he believes it will be eaten as lunch in the Wilds); Ashton had suggested the name "One Way" for the same reason
    • Rabbit, a tawny horse ridden by Orym and Chetney
    • Sir Floppers, a chestnut ridden by Fearne, the largest horse; his name is reminiscent of the names of Fearne's fey animal friends Dr. Nesbitt, Bumpers, and Peepers
  • Chetney reveals that the RTA tattooed on his right shoulder stands for "Recognize the Alpha"; Matt emphasized in-universe that the concept of wolves having an alpha is based on outdated research that has since been completely disproven. (This is an allusion to L. David Mech, who popularized the idea of alpha male wolves in his 1970 book The Wolf but has since disavowed the book's premise and worked to correct the popular misconceptions it created.)
  • This episode aired on 17 March 2022, and was designated as the 7th Anniversary Episode, celebrating Critical Role's first stream on 12 March 2015. The episode was also streamed live in theaters in both the United States and Brazil.

References

  1. The events Laudna describes took place during the Briarwoods' occupation of Whitestone approximately a week before Vox Machina arrived there.  See "The Sun Tree" (1x28) from 2:39:13 through 2:44:43.

Art:

  1. Fan art of Fearne and Laudna explaining events, by Magsowo (source). Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of the rabbit with the Feywild shard, by KageSatsuki (source). Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Orym with the blue flower, by Maddy Marshall (source). Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of the party riding through the jungle, by Lap Pun Cheung (source). Used with permission.
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