"In Ruins" (1x41) is the third episode of the fourth chapter of Critical Role. Vox Machina searches the ruins of Emon for survivors of the Chroma Conclave's attack. With the help of a new friend, they find an old one on death's door.
- At 3 minutes and 37 seconds, Travis had already finished eating one bag of bacon jerky
- A ten-minute short made to promote this month's Lootcrate theme "Dead" stars Matt and also features a cameo from Marisha! Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFeuNlQ4rR4
Previously on Critical Role
"Vox Machina—the intrepid band of adventurers who have been enjoying being honorary members of the Council of Tal'Dorei, returning from a harsh adventure in Whitestone, having the Winter's Crest Festival, and then going and reinspecting the death place of a blue dragon they once fought over a year ago—returned just in time for a series of chromatic dragons—white, black, red, and green—all attacking Emon at once. This union of extremely powerful dragons just tore through the city, with the red staying behind, named Thordak, the Cinder King, basically housing himself in Emon and claiming himself essentially ruler of that area.
"The party fled to their Keep, attempted to help a bunch of refugees inside, and then were immediately attacked by Vorugal, the white dragon. A heavy battle commenced that was ill in favor of [their] victory, until Thordak himself knocked Vorugal out of the sky, claiming that there were better things to be done. So three of the four of this Chroma Conclave have now gone east, while Thordak sits in the middle of his new nesting place. [Vox Machina] decided to try and help those who were in the Keep at the time, those who survived that encounter on the outside of Greyskull, however Percy and Grog had a conversation about this magical skull artifact they had acquired. [It was] whispering in exchange for a Wish if it got freedom. This led to a rather intense bit of conflict which, thanks to the luck of the die, seemed to avoid a unique circumstance, whatever that might've been.
"However, the party in this tense scenario were then visited by a dwarven elementalist named Drake, along with [their] old-time friend and guide Allura Vysoren, who had sensed the connection to her teleportation circles here in Emon severed immediately. There was discussion about how this came about, who is to blame, and it appears that this dragon has a history, fifteen years before, of having conflict with Allura and her then-party of adventurers, many who lost their lives in a final battle. [Allura's party] realized they were unable to actually defeat Thordak, and hatched a plan to seal him within the Elemental Plane of Fire, and have managed to keep him there for fifteen years, until recently. We left off with Allura suddenly sensing her connection to the Westruun sigil severed as well."
Lady Allura urges the party to locate their allies and bring them together so they can plan how to free the city. She reveals that there are two bastions of knowledge that might hold insight into what could be the undoing of the Chroma Conclave, records of battles between powerful entities before the Penance (the historical wiping of civilization). Some of these books remain in Vasselheim - the only city to survive those times. A few have found their way into the Cobalt Reserve, a well-fortified library in Westruun. Lady Allura intended to travel to the Cobalt Reserve to research the spinning anti-magical orb beneath Whitestone, but the Chroma Conclave's assault on Tal'Dorei disrupted her plans. She plans to go there while Vox Machina gathers their still-living friends in Emon.
She shares what she knows of dragons and their strengths and weaknesses, before Drake casts a spell that turns them both into sparks of electricity streaking away. Keyleth casts Commune with Nature and learns that Gilmore is alive but very weak, and in the direction of Abdar's Promenade where his shop is located. She cannot sense Sovereign Uriel. They decide the first order of business is locating and ascertaining the condition of Gilmore, but that they need to take a long rest first.
After an uneasy sleep, the party gathers once again and leaves Greyskull Keep via the secret tunnel installed before they took possession. Before they do, Vex'ahlia offers Jarett 300 gold to help take care of the refugees, but he refuses an additional 100 for himself. They move cautiously through the tunnel leading into the city and emerge in a chained outhouse at the end of a deserted alley. Vax picks the lock and Keyleth Polymorphs Trinket into a red panda so he can negotiate the ladder leading upward to the exit. Moving stealthily along the edges of the city wall, they all head toward Gilmore's shop, seeing along the way the devastation and casualties left by the dragons' attack.
A cloaked figure approaches, revealing himself as a half-orc wearing a black cloak and studded leather armor. He begins speaking in Thieves Cant to the twins, telling the party he is a member of the Clasp named Garthok. They invite him to join them and help guide them to Gilmore's. Along the way, they encounter looters and frightened survivors, and when they reach the ruins of Gilmore's Glorious Goods, there are about ten looters going through the rubble. Outraged, Vax tells them to get out and the party draws their weapons threateningly, but the looters refuse and draw their own swords, mentioning it's their third time back here to scavenge. One of them throws a dagger, initiating combat.
The looters are not well-armored but there are a lot of them, and they utilize pack tactics. Although the party is never in real danger, they do take some damage, and it takes a while to dispatch all of them. Every time Grog uses Craven Edge to wound an enemy who fails a constitution save, Grog gains a point of strength. Scanlan uses Dominate Person on a dwarf and convinces him to empty his pockets of all the loot they'd taken, while Keyleth goes minxie. Finally, Scanlan intimidates the last remaining combatant into surrendering. Vax takes him around the corner and knocks him out, leaving only Scanlan's still-dominated dwarf standing. The dwarf tells the party that they give everything to the dragon. As long as they give him what's important and valuable, he'll keep them alive and protect them. The dragon is in the Cloudtop district in the center of town, and folks line up to bring him all their treasures. The looters have put their pickings in a secret spot so they can take it to the dragon, and the dwarf tells them where it is. As the mind control ends, they knock him out and tie him up.
Vex begins investigating the rubble. It is well-picked-over and there are no signs of life anywhere, but she notices that one of the floor tiles is actually a hidden door. The party gathers around as they open the hatch and look down into a dark, low-lit interior, and see a figure who rushes up quickly and stops. A voice from within the darkness, just out of view, says, "Whoever you are, leave! Run away or I swear I'll kill you!"
The figure is a woman, not known to the party, holding a blade. They call out for Sherri, who comes over looking injured and covered in soot. She is relieved to see them and quickly invites them into the cellar, where they recognize the other woman as Empress Salda Tal'Dorei, Uriel's wife. Their three children Odessa, Illya, and Gren are also there. She tells Vox Machina that she doesn't believe her husband made it, looking over to the slumped and bleeding shape of Gilmore in one corner. He is hideously wounded but alive, and Pike immediately casts Heal, stopping the bleeding and slowly returning him to consciousness.
He is still gravely hurt, but greets them all warmly. He tells them of his part in the battle and that his first instinct was to grab the children, Salda, Speaker Assum, and "that abrasive dragon girl". Uriel, however, had pushed him away, trying to save others. While he didn't see Uriel fall, he went back toward the dragon after getting the others to safety and saw Uriel's lifeless body... or what was left of it. His concern had been that Vox Machina would be fighting the dragon alone, and he traded at least some blows with Thordak before having to withdraw.
The party decides that the best plan is to get the survivors in the cellar to Greyskull Keep to join the other refugees. Percy proposes to Garthok that they recruit the Clasp to help run the ruined city, since they probably have the best infrastructure undestroyed at this point, and no one argues with that assessment. Vex proposes they rescue the items from the well that were looted from Gilmore, but Keyleth is insistent that that's a terrible idea because she believes somehow the dragons will know they're taking it. Reaching no agreement, the party divides, with Grog, Pike, Percy, and Keyleth escorting the refugees and Gilmore to the keep, and Vex, Scanlan, and Garthok heading to the well. Vax is very torn, with Keyleth begging him repeatedly to talk his sister out of it, but he eventually goes with Vex.
They go with Garthok to the entrance to the Clasp, and he decides to come with them to the well. When they find it, the treasure has been removed and there are no signs a dragon has been there. The townsfolk apparently found the treasure hidden there and are taking it to Thordak. Garthok heads back to the Clasp to tell them Vox Machina will be visiting soon, and the others go to rejoin the rest of the party at Greyskull.
Meanwhile, the other party members, the wounded Gilmore with Sherri, and the remaining royal family reach the Keep safely after managing to convince some armed individuals who accost them on the way to run away. Vox Machina and the staff of the Keep feed and find beds for Gilmore and the family and begin to contemplate their next steps.
- Percival de Rolo
- Scanlan Shorthalt
- Grog Strongjaw
- Pike Trickfoot
- Gilmore: (On returning to consciousness cradled in Vax's arms) Well. That's always what I assumed I'd see in my last moments.
Vax: Bad day, huh?
Gilmore: Ah... strangely enough, I'm pretty sure I've had worse.
- Matt was rolling checks for whether Gilmore would live through the night or until Vox Machina managed to find him, as his situation grew more dire with each passing moment.
- At 1:56:57, Ashley comments "Oh, man. I'm coming back as a barbarian if I die." She didn't die, but she did come back as a barbarian in Campaign Two, as predicted.