"Liam's One Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (Sx36) is the thirty-sixth special episode of Critical Role. Join Dungeon Master Liam O'Brien as he takes his guests through a werewolf adventure in Wildemount! The Lorelei siblings return home to discover their castle ransacked, their staff murdered, and their father missing... (With Laura Bailey, Erica Luttrell, Sam Riegel, TJ Storm, and Travis Willingham)
- Since the initial goals for the charity campaign with Blair Herter and the Pablove Foundation ($20,000 and $50,000) have been passed, a new one is established: if they hit $100,000 they will be able to fund the Shutterbugs Summer Camp, where they'll teach photography to kids fighting cancer.
- New merch is available in the store: a Wildemount map by Deven Rue, Vox Machina and Mighty Nein pins, a navy blue Wildemount dice set, and a Yasha mini bust by Steamforge, among other products.
On the edges of the Cyrengreen Forest, not too terribly far from the city of Deastok, on the continent of Wildemount, stands Lorelei Castle, home for many generations to the Lorelei family. The Lorelei bloodline stretches back almost three centuries but only rose to prominence during the war between the Dwendalian Empire, which we now reside within, and the Julous Dominion, which once ruled the southern half of the Marrow Valley in the preceding age. The Loreleis proved their worth in that conflict and were gifted for their service with a stretch of land that you five siblings were born and raised on.
It was also during the bloody struggles of that long past war that the bloodline would be changed forever. During a near fatal encounter, your ancestor, Alfarr Lorelei, was bitten, near the end days of the war. The curse of lycanthropy burned its way into the blood of Alfarr in a relentless fever that nearly drove him mad, but he did not bend to it. He persisted, as did his daughter, and her sons, and so on. The family's secret has been closely guarded over the centuries, and in its earliest days, the curse was seen as just that, a curse. But with time came acceptance, and the responsibility of power. Once of age, Lorelei youths eventually undergo The Taming of their wilder nature and their animalistic blood, and it has largely been responsible for the family's ascension over many a generation. Some have faltered. There have certainly been dark periods in the Lorelei history, individuals who let their baser impulses rule them. But the family always returned to the right and the good.
Aurra, Lucius, Portia, and the twins, Benicio and Lawrence. You know a little of this struggle yourselves. At least, you hear tell from your father and your great aunt Katerine. Your father, Haldur Lorelei, never knew his own mother, Geneviève Lorelei, but by his aunt Katerine's account, she was unbridled and wild, spurned The Taming, embraced the animal within more than the family would have liked. It led to her doom, they would say. It was that very nature that drew her into a whirlwind romance with a man the family did not approve of. Haldur, or Hal, was born out of wedlock and never knew his mother. She was murdered not far from the castle grounds and found in a wolven heap. Her father was dead, or fled, or possibly killed Geneviève, the family theorized, anyway. The only mother Hal knew was Aunt Katerine, who loved her sister's son with all her heart, raised him well, led him through The Taming, made him the kind and just nobleman he is today.
Sadly, history repeats and repeats, and Katerine is mostly the only mother you five have known either. When your mother Rosalind died during the birth of the twins, old though she was, Katerine dutifully continued her role as the family matriarch. Aurra, you, as the oldest, and you, Lucius, two years Aurra's junior, you both remember Rosalind some, but for all of you, it has been old Aunt Kat who sat by your beds as children, who taught you your letters. And how Haldur and Katerine love you! You've grown into your adulthood with grace and strength and absorb the lessons of your forebears... to an extent.
[...] Two weeks ago, each of you received identical letters from your father Haldur, summoning you home to Castle Lorelei. Intimated in those letters is his wish to discuss the family's future and the handing down of power within the family. You all have been spread to the winds the last six months to a year, maybe, following the individual threads that life has laid before you. Now, Hal is eager to see his children all around him again. As yet another token of his love, he has provided you all with three days and nights of rest, recuperation, and general pampering together at one of the finest inns in Deastok: The Shaded Bough. It is here that we begin this current verse in the song of the Lorelei. You are gathered in the sumptuous dining room of The Shaded Bough. Your breakfast is finished, your bags are packed. Your horses have been prepped for your departure, and it is raining.
The Lorelei siblings prepare to leave Deastok after a brief argument in which Aurra belittles her younger siblings' fastidiousness towards the wilderness. Before leaving, Lucius speaks with the locals, receiving news about the increasingly worrying conflict with Xhorhas, on which front the Empire is going through a bad moment; he also makes sure that the Deastok criminals have not started any suspicious activities recently, and after that last check, they leave for his home.
Knowing that due to the rain there could be a flooding of the Wispern River, near the main road, Portia decides to discard the quickest route, so the brothers spend the whole day riding through the rain until they come within sight of Castle Lorelei. It is then that they notice something strange: there is not a single burning torch to be seen, and yet, as they approach, they see that the gates to the castle are open.
Suspiciously, the young werewolves approach their settlement, with Benicio leading the way accompanied by Aurra, who uses Produce Flame to gain some visibility. However, Lucius proposes to enter through a passage on the back side of the castle, as a precaution, so they leave their steeds and search for said entrance, this time led by the older siblings. During the journey they argue again about Lucius's lack of stealth, but they reach the door, which is barred from the inside. Portia manages to break the door, and collaborating, the siblings make their way, finding about fifteen butchered corpses in the Moonweaver chapel that the lord of the castle built for Lucius.
The siblings immediately begin to investigate, and although they do not find the body of their father, Haldur, they determine that the massacre took place weeks, or perhaps a month, ago. As they tour the area, Lucius picks up a shield bearing Sehanine's emblem, and Aurra spots their father's scent. Following the trail they find some weapons and a cart with supplies that have started to be unloaded, as well as more bodies. They approach the main keep of Castle Lorelei, and due to the absolute absence of sound inside perceived by Lucius, they enter led by Aurra. They find that there has been recent activity in the great hall: the hearth has recently been lit and is now burning down to embers, and in the center of the room is a wooden table with playing cards. Portia tries to catch a scent, but the stench of putrefaction still overwhelms her; what she does notice, however, is a wet footprint on the carpet, indicating that someone has been there recently.
Aurra perceives with her developed sense of smell that her father's trail becomes more intense upstairs, so the siblings go in that direction, until they reach Lord Lorelei's study. When they get inside they find Haldur's severed hand on his table, still wearing his ring, and closed around a piece of paper. Lawrence makes an attempt to cover Portia's eyes, which she aggressively rejects, and Aurra remarks that her sister is not weak, while Larry himself is apprehensive about the situation in the office. Portia takes her father's ring and the note, which reads: "I have him. Come find him in the family's crypts". She also notices several attempts at forgery in the pieces of paper on the desk, so the siblings deduce that it is some kind of trap. Aurra tries to take the family longsword, Vargr, which starts an argument with Portia, in which the younger sister reminds her that after the heiress went to the forest she was the one who stayed, kept the family traditions and she went through the Taming, which, along with her training, makes her worthy of wielding the weapon; after that, Aurra relents and hands the sword over to her. Meanwhile, Lawrence assesses the situation and inspects the office for signs of violence, deducing that his father had his hand cut off in that room, causing his siblings to wonder who it could have been, and why Haldur didn't fight. It is at this moment that Lucius remembers their great-aunt Katerine, and runs to her chambers.
They find their aunt on the floor of the room, dead by her bed, and detect various signs of a struggle indicating that she transformed and fought before being defeated. Lucius decides to bury her, and Aurra proposes to do it in the woods; this causes Benicio to protest, but Lawrence supports the plan, proposing that while their older siblings take care of burying Katerine, Portia and the twins check out the rest of the floor, agreeing to meet again in the courtyard by the weapons. Aurra and Lucius bury their elderly Aunt Kat and can't help but cry, since they were the closest to her; the first-born also remembers how the deceased compared her to her sister (grandmother of the siblings) Geneviève, which was what encouraged Aurra to go to the forest instead of following the family rituals. While this is going on, Portia, Lawrence, and Benicio check their own rooms and Lucius', noticing that someone has been sleeping in their beds, damaging their belongings, and even leaving some weapons in Portia's room, leading them to suspect the intruders are still there. They pass by their father's room, noting that it is the only one that seems intact, and when they go to Aurra's they detect a strange smell, almost spiced, and find a dagger with "Silent Message" written in Elven on the hilt; Larry translates the inscription and keeps the weapon, after which they go to the courtyard to meet Aurra and Lucius.
The Lorelei siblings catch up, and when they show her the dagger, Aurra recognizes the scent, explaining that when she was six years old a stranger visited Castle Lorelei, staying part of the summer; according to her, the man did not give her a good feeling, and he did not look like an elf, which leads Benicio to theorize that he could have been in disguise. The younger siblings, meanwhile, do not recognize the scent of the dagger or the belongings that went with it, being unable to associate it with anything they have smelled in the regions of Wildemount they have visited. After the conversation, the siblings prepare for combat and head to the family mausoleum, discussing which way they should enter. Lucius proposes to make a detour through the forest, since they have Aurra to guide them, and she decides that it is time to change into her hybrid form, and so she does. While they go to the forest, Benicio takes the opportunity to play a prank on his twin, telling him that the full moon is transforming Larry's hands to distract him before making him slap himself with them. The rest of the journey is not as quiet as they would like, but they arrive at their destination.
Aurra detects the elf's trail, and a new scent, human this time. The siblings split up to circle the building, with the older siblings on the left and the three blood hunters on the right. They find that someone has set up a small camp in the graveyard and lit a fire. When the Lorelei siblings try to survey the surroundings, two men who have camped there spot them and use spinning censers to produce sickly green mist or smoke, and skeletons of the deceased Lorelei begin to reanimate, whereupon a battle ensues. The young werewolves take the initiative, and Portia attacks the undead, albeit with some apprehension as they are the remains of their ancestors. The twins attack in a similar fashion, and Lucius advises his younger sister to focus on whichever caster is raising the dead. The two intruders begin to retreat, at which point a third, Ray, who was hiding, fires a crossbow bolt at Portia. However, the intruders find themselves in bigger trouble when they lose control of the spell and several of the undead turn on them. Aurra, meanwhile, focuses on the woman with the crossbow and casts Entangle to make vines grow on the building she is perching on; however, Ray manages to avoid being caught, though she is unable to dodge Lucius' Sacred Flame, which hits her and magically weakens her. The fight continues, and the three youngest Lorelei siblings show off their hemocraft as they fend off the skeletons; one of the strangers w with the censers run away while some skeletons chased him, the other is finished off by his own summoned undead; Ray, who tried to attack Lucius but missed her shot, finds that Aurra has climbed up the building she was perched on, and claws at her. On the ground, Lucius heals Portia, who immediately enters the crypt; Benicio, somewhat confused, follows her, and Lawrence goes in the same direction. On the roof, Ray, who had ended up entangled in the vines, lets go, but is terrified and urinates on herself; Aurra grabs her and asks her who she is. Inside, the Lorelei siblings fight some more undead, and knowing they need some help, Lucius uses Turn Undead to defend his younger siblings, making their fight easier.
- Wyrmwood Giveaway: The prize is a myrtlewood dice tower system featuring Kor'Treum cartography by Deven Rue, with a leather strap. The keyword for tonight is "howl".
- The winner of the giveaway is announced: Oldar_.
Aurra questions Ray, who confesses that she and her two companions are from Deastok, and that they work for the elf, who asked them to weaken the Lorelei siblings before they entered the crypt. When the firstborn of the family asks about her father, the intruder confirms that the elf is downstairs with him, and that although Haldur is mutilated, he is still alive; then she begs to be let go, but Aurra throws her off the roof. Ray is impaled in the stomach by two of the iron poles of the fence, but she's not dead yet; Lucius casts Toll the Dead, but the dying woman resists that magic, so it is Benicio, who has come back to the surface, who finishes her off with his glaive.
When the battle is finally over, the Lorelei siblings gather again and decide to take a short break, reasoning that if the attack on the castle was weeks ago and Haldur is still alive, then the mysterious elf will not decide to kill him in the next few minutes. During the break, Portia, supported by Benicio, reproaches her older siblings for not taking Great-Aunt Katerine to the mausoleum, since the rest of the family was there. Aurra defended her decision saying that the old woman deserved a natural burial, and Lucius points out that half of their deceased ancestors are wandering the forest as undead; that causes him to notice the censers and bury them in the mud to make sure they don't emit the strange green smoke again. As he does so, Benny asks if he has promised chastity as a cleric, to which his older brother reminds him that the deity he worships, Sehanine, is the goddess of secret romances, prompting Portia to clarify that Lucius has an active love life. The younger brother admits that if he had known, he would have paid more attention to his Aunt Kat's stories about the Moonweaver, and Lucius takes advantage of the moment to reminisce about the deceased woman's teachings, Haldur's lessons, and why the siblings are there, using his Inspiring Leader feat to strengthen them all.
The Lorelei siblings, now more recovered, enter the crypt, proceeding cautiously in the darkness (dimmed by Lucius' Light cantrip), while looking for possible traps. When they get to the section with the altars, they notice that their grandmother's, Geneviève, is clutter on the ground, her statue broken in three pieces, and there is a hole now. They pause for a moment to discuss the circumstances under which their grandmother was buried, but Lawrence grows impatient and goes into the tunnel, prompting his siblings to follow. Along the way Aurra informs them that she hears someone breathing up ahead, and Portia changes into her werewolf form anticipating danger. Lucius re-inspects the elven dagger with Lawrence, and remembers that the inscription, "Silent Message", is reminiscent of the names of histories from Xhorhas, the country to the East of the Empire. Benicio gets impatient and asks them to continue, saying that he wants to kill whoever is waiting for them later so he can celebrate later, and Aurra criticizes him, saying that they have lost Katerine and that her father has been mutilated, there is no reason to party.
The siblings continue down the tunnel, which has given way to a natural cave formation. They eventually reach an area with torches where they encounter a chitinous armored drow who has a flail wrapped around Haldur Lorelei's neck. Seeing this, the twins also transform, after which they charge at the enemy at the same time that Lucius throws a coin enchanted with the Light cantrip to eliminate any areas with limited vision. The battle begins, and Portia magically teleports along with Benicio to get closer to their target; she attacks the dark elf successfully, but when she tries to hit him again she slips and falls to the ground. Benny pulls his father away from the drow roughly, but since the captor had the flail on Lord Lorelei's neck, its barbed edges tear his throat and he begins to bleed profusely, which alarms Aurra. The Xhorhasian stranger attacks Benicio with his flail, which is poisoned, but he resists the toxin; he then has a brief argument with his twin, who has used his Crimson Rite to imbue his claws with lightning energy but has yet to attack. The elf summons his Spiritual Weapon (a glowing bluish-purple jagged spear) after screaming "Kill them!", and attacks Benicio again with said spell, although he doesn't hit him. Aurra, wanting to save her father, casts Haste on herself and runs to him, after which she uses the Healing Word to stop him from bleeding out. Haldur catches his breath and yells "Stop!", but the battle rages around him.
Lucius casts Silence on the area around the drow, and as he does, a figure emerges from the shadows: the undead form of Geneviève Lorelei, with a lupine head, darkened bones, inky energy coursing through her body, and the remains of Lorelei green drapes covering her skeleton. The siblings' reanimated grandmother attacks Portia, the first to confront her, and the twins join the fray, attacking the towering dead Lorelei, discovering that her bones appear to have been hardened, being more resilient than expected. The dark elf leaves the area affected by the Silence spell and emits a chant, causing his magical spear to strike Portia, and commanding the Iron Woe (Geneviève) to try and bite Lawrence; she, however, falls short, and fails to reach her grandson's face. The drow takes the opportunity to turn invisible and put some distance from the Lorelei siblings; Aurra notices how it passes her but fails to hit it, after which she decides to transform into a direwolf and attack her undead ancestor. Geneviève manages to fend off her granddaughter, at which point Lucius, still keeping a safe distance, casts Moonbeam on her. The Iron Woe expels dark energy around him, radiating anger, pain and sorrow; Portia and Benicio resist it, but Lawrence is overcome with fear, loss and confusion, feeling the urge to walk away from the battle. Aurra is overcome with the same sensation, but Lucius sends his magic to strengthen her, dispelling her fear, while Sehanine whispers in her ear to stand.
The intensity of the battle makes the three blood hunter siblings have to make an effort to maintain control of their bestial side, but they succeed. Portia and Benicio attack their grandmother, and Lawrence joins them, though even with Lucius's magical assistance he is unable to shake the fear of the Iron Woe. The drow's magical spear attacks Benicio again, and the undead Geneviève attacks Portia at the same time giving off a new wave of emotions: longing and heartbreak. Surprised by these emotions, Aurra adopts her hybrid form again and tries to guess what it is due to, but she cannot understand it, the pain that their grandmother radiates is similar to that of a wounded animal. Lucius takes the opportunity to summon his own Spiritual Weapon (a silver scimitar in the shape of a crescent moon) and continues to hit their reanimated enemy with Moonbeam, using his magic to slow her down. The Iron Woe, meanwhile, walks away from the grandchildren around her, but Portia goes after her and attacks her again, as does Benicio immediately after. Lawrence, for his part, tries to find the invisible dark elf, without success, at which point he manages to regain his calm and get rid of the fear instilled by his undead grandmother, taking the opportunity to use Blood Curse of the Marked on her. The invisible drow takes advantage of the chaos of combat to approach Lucius and hit him with necrotic magic (becoming visible by doing so) and receiving a cut from the Lorelei's sickle when moving away from him, while Geneviève tries to attack Benicio without success, which makes her angry. Aurra casts Flaming Sphere, burning the undead werewolf, and after moving the Moonbeam over her enemy again, Lucius attacks her with a Guiding Bolt; he briefly tries to assess something about the drow, but is unable to remember anything about their culture, other than that the Dwendalian Empire is at war with them. Portia attacks the now weakened Iron Woe, and she responds by giving him a near fatal swipe with her claws. That's when Benicio steps in and finishes off the undead Geneviève Lorelei with his glaive. Before they can revel in their celebration, Lucius redirects their attention to the dark elf, and Lawrence marks him with his blood curse before lashing out with his claws. Badly wounded, the drow tries to escape, and Aurra casts Wind Wall to catch him. The force of the current in such a closed space causes the enemy to be hit mercilessly and die. Benicio uses his Blood Curse of the Fallen Puppet so that the last thing the Xhorhasian spellcaster does before collapsing is give Lawrence a wedgie; however, the elf's corpse is so damaged that it is barely able to move towards the twin before falling.
The Lorelei siblings take their father back to the castle, and all the way Haldur is silent. Later, in his room, after he has sufficiently calmed down, he narrates to his children how the drow attacked Castle Lorelei with a small army of undead, and how he left only him alive because he was really his father, and therefore the siblings' grandfather. He tells them how the dark elf met Geneviève and had a torrid affair with her, and how after their son's birth, when the Kryn soldiers came looking for him, there was a scuffle in which Lady Lorelei and the drow's twin were killed, while he was taken away to Xhorhas to be realigned. Haldur tells his children to learn from such a dark incident in their family history, asks them to help him seal the tomb again in the coming weeks, and tells them that he loves them very much. When the lord falls asleep, safe at last, the siblings are left thinking about their future plans for House Lorelei.
- Estelle (corpse)
- Katerine Lorelei (corpse)
- Ray, Mercer and Jaffe
- Haldur Lorelei
- Geneviève Lorelei (as the Iron Woe)
- Sehanine (briefly, through Lucius' magic)
- At the beginning of the episode Liam decided to keep details about the War of Ash and Light vague in order to avoid contradictions with Matt's plans for the conflict in the main story, suggesting that to that extent, The Song of the Lorelei has canon elements in it.
- Furthermore, in The Chronicles of Exandria - The Mighty Nein Archivist Zeenoth of the Cobalt Soul makes references to the Lorelei traditions to control their lycanthropy using blood hunter rituals, and mentions that that information appears in some documents of the order, reasserting their presence in canon.
- Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe and Matthew Mercer made a cameo in the episode, appearing as thugs in the cemetery. The thugs were named after the cast members' surnames.
- The story of the one-shot is somewhat reminiscent of the story of Little Red Riding Hood: the grandchildren approaching the house where they will face a monstrous wolf with the appearance of their grandmother.
- In fact, Travis did make a reference to this tale when Geneviève appeared and he said "What fucking gnarly teeth you have!".
- He also made a reference to the Goldilocks tale when he inquired about the firmness of the matresses of the siblings' beds, since the intruders had been sleeping in them.
- In fact, Travis did make a reference to this tale when Geneviève appeared and he said "What fucking gnarly teeth you have!".
- See "Liam's One Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (Sx36) at 3:35:16.
- See "Liam's One Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (Sx36) at 0:20:33.
- The Chronicles of Exandria - The Mighty Nein, p. 75.
- See "Liam's One Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (Sx36) at 3:11:46.
- See "Liam's One Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (Sx36) at 1:03:40.
- Fan art of the Loreleis approaching the castle, by Heather Hood (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Vargr, the ancestral sword of the family, by Micaerys. Work contributed to the Critical Role Wiki by the artist.
- Official art of the drow stranger, by Kendra Wells from "Liam's One Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (Sx36). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
- Official art of an undead Geneviève, by Kendra Wells from "Liam's One Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (Sx36). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
- Photograph of the thugs' names, by Liam O'Brien (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.