"Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) is the fifth episode of the fourth chapter of Critical Role. Now in the relative safety of Vasselheim, Vox Machina begins planning their first move against the Chroma Conclave. Fortunately, some old friends turn up to offer their aid.

Synopsis

Pre-Show

Announcements

Previously on Critical Role

"The party Vox Machina, having recently suffered their main city of Emon and one of their initial towns where they began their adventures, Westruun, under attack from an entity called the Chroma Conclave—a collection of allied chromatic dragons, extremely powerful, ancient across the board it seems—just wreaking havoc across all of Tal'Dorei. They managed to save a few allies, make a few current tenuous relationships with the Clasp, and moved all the refugees that they had been keeping within Greyskull Keep to Whitestone to keep them safe for the time being, as that town has seemingly been passed over by the dragons that are still heading east across the continent.

"After that the party made their way to Vasselheim, the distant city known as the "Cradle of Faith", the oldest living beacon of civilization in the world that is currently known. After making their way there, the party made their way into the guild of the Slayer's Take, where they had previously signed on after a trial and are members of, to seek more allies throughout the city of Vasselheim in hopes of preparing themselves to retake Emon, and possibly Tal'Dorei, at some point in the near future."

Part I

Reunion at the Slayer's Take

Vox Machina, having arrived at the Slayer's Take guildhall, contemplate their next move. Before long, the door slams open revealing Huntmaster Vanessa Cyndrial, the tiefling warlock Zahra Hydris, and the cleric Kashaw Vesh. Delighted to be reunited with their past allies, Vex'ahlia, Scanlan Shorthalt, Percival de Rolo, and Grog Strongjaw are introduced to Kashaw, and Vax'ildan and Keyleth are similarly introduced to Zahra. Kashaw recognizes Grog, and remarks that he won 75 gold pieces at the Crucible betting against him. Grog, not recognizing that he was bet against, declares happily that it was "money well spent."

Fan art of Zahra greeting Vax'ildan with a tail-whip, by Sedona Parnham.[art 1]

Vanessa interrupts the reunion of the guildmates, saying that there is still business to attend to. She brings her bag to her husband, Murtin, and reveals the contents of their recent hunt -- the head of a Doppelganger. At this point, Vex asks Vanessa whether the Slayer's Take ever hunts creatures just because they are evil. Vanessa responds that it largely depends on if someone will be paying for it in the end. Vex and Keyleth explain that Emon was recently destroyed and taken under occupation by the Chroma Conclave. Zahra remarks that so much has changed since her cousin, Lillith Daturai, was there (See: "Crimson Diplomacy" (1x25)).

After being pressed by the other members of Vox Machina, Vanessa sighs and states that they should seek other allies in Vasselheim, and perhaps they should also speak to the patron of Ioun associated with the Slayer's Take, Osysa. She begins to lead them to Osysa before Kashaw and Zahra interrupt her, and state that before anything else, they want to be paid.

Osysa's Insight

Vanessa leads the party through the guild hall to the subterranean temple to Ioun hidden beneath the Slayer's Take, which they had previously visited when obtaining their brands admitting them to the guild proper (See: "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22)). Vanessa calls out to Osysa, apologizing for the intrusion. Osysa emerges from the darkness and asks what Vox Machina needs of her. Vex'ahlia explains that "the world is under attack," to which Osysa replies that she has been watching the heartstone and that "such a cataclysm" has not found its way to her mate. Vex presses on, asking if the sphinx knows of anything that could aid the party in defeating the Chroma Conclave.

For a moment, Osysa becomes possessed with a blue light overtaking her and speaks informatively of the Vestiges of the Divergence, "relics wielded when the gods walked and fought alongside their creations." [1] As the light fades from her eyes, Zahra inquires as to what exactly the Vestiges are. Osysa shakes her head and responds that she was merely a vessel for the knowledge bestowed upon them, but explains what she does know:

I am a channel for this knowledge, but the best I can understand, they are old relics of the War of the Divergence. Leading into the Penance, the Second Spark. These were armaments. Objects of great power that were used in these wars against the gods, good and dark. Many have been buried, entombed, lost, forgotten. The few that are recovered are passed on through blood lines, through symbols of power and of seats of great political importance. But the actual information is lost to me.
– 
Osysa, explaining the Vestiges of the Divergence to Vox Machina. [2]
[!h]

Vex asks if she knows of any one in particular, but Osysa states that objects of such a powerful enchantment generally keep themselves hidden from her view. She also reveals that Vasselheim has stood the test of time, as well as two potential ends of civilization, because of those who guard it. As a consequence, she warns that Vox Machina will be hard-pressed to convince its citizens to leave it. However, Osysa notes that her mate is a keeper of hidden knowledge on the other side of Tal'Dorei.

Vax'ildan speaks up at this point, noting that Vox Machina could spread the influence of the Slayer's Take to Emon. Osysa challenges him, stating that there are many fools who hope to keep the darkness of the world at bay and asks that the party prove themselves worthy of being the ones to carry the torch by finding her mate, the Vestiges, and seeking additional allies. She remarks that it is in her nature as a sphinx to present challenges, and hints that her mate lies "south of the Frostweald, the mountain range that guards it."

In parting, Vex asks of Osysa whether as a follower of Ioun she would know anything of the god of secrets, Vecna. In response, Osysa snarls and immediately reprimands Vex for mentioning his name in a temple to Ioun. Percy and Vex explain that his touch was felt in Whitestone and that they fear that his followers (the Briarwoods) attempted to open a portal of sorts beneath the castle. Osysa peers into the heartstone, explaining that "[t]he ziggurats were not of his construction. But he took them."

Before she can say much more, Osysa's gaze changes and she speaks of the Chroma Conclave venturing east, past Westruun, over the Lucidian Ocean, into Wildemount, to the Dreemoth Ravine, where she witnesses the Conclave ravage and destroy the floating islands of Draconia before returning to Tal'Dorei. Blood pours from the sphinx's nostrils as she realizes she has peered too far beyond her veil. Kashaw offers to heal her, which she accepts.

Osysa tells the party that she will speak to her brethren of Ioun to learn more about the nature of Vecna's plot, but for now, she must rest. She bids Vox Machina to return when they have proven themselves. The torches atop the temple extinguish as Osysa retreats into the shadows at the back of the temple.

Seeking Potions

Vex muses that it is possible that the Vestiges of Divergence are the same ancient artifacts that their former comrade, Tiberius, may have been seeking. She suggests that this might be the same reason that Draconia was hit — because they were trying to hide these items. Scanlan, however, is skeptical, and Vax counters by asking whether she really thinks that Tiberius's Mending Wheel would help in a battle against Thordak.

Considering their next move, Vex'ahlia asks Vanessa whether the Slayer's Take would have any potions or other resources to offer them, since they are members. Somewhat reluctantly, Vanessa leads them back to the Slayer's Take guildhall and has Murtin give the party two Potions of Healing and one Potion of Greater Healing. For any further potions, she suggests that Vox Machina visit the potion shop in the Quadroads District. Zahra and Kash attempt to persuade Vanessa to lend additional resources to the group, but to no avail. Vanessa insists that they can afford to buy whatever else they need with the money earned from their contracts.

Before finally leaving the Slayer's Take guildhall, Vex asks if Lyra is around. Suddenly, Aldor reacts from the back of the room, alarmed and ready to run in the event that she is present. Vanessa tells him that it is okay, Lyra is currently away helping her uncle, Randy.

Kash pulls Zahra aside as the rest of Vox Machina exits the guildhall, and tries to convince her that it is not in their best interests to go with Vox Machina. Zahra disagrees and eventually, Kash relents but tells her to hide half of the gold they have because he does not trust the twins. Vex'ahlia interjects and tells him that she "can read [his] fucking lips."

Fan art of Vex saying she can take out Kashaw, by Megzilla87.[art 2]

On their way to the Quadroads, Vex pulls Vax aside and informs him that she could "destroy" Kashaw if he wanted her to. Vax rebuffs her and tells her that she is being weird before walking off. Once there, the party spots the potion salesman with whom Grog had previously haggled (see: "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22)). Vex'ahlia remembers him and attempts to take over the negotiations from Grog. With some persuasion from Vax, who tells him that he is much better at "taking things' skulls and turning them into raspberry jam," Grog steps aside and allows the others — particularly Vex, his "shiny manager" — to negotiate on his behalf.

After attempting unsuccessfully to barter with the salesman using their status as members of the Slayer's Take and offering to trade knick-knacks (which are visually enchanted by various spells cast by the party to appear more valuable), eventually Vox Machina resorts to directly threatening the merchant. Kashaw threatens the merchant's family and gets a final 1,500 gold off of the asking price. For a total of 5,000 gold plus the assorted knick-knacks, Vox Machina gains all of the stock on the table.

The Black Powder Salesman

The party splits, with half going to the Bellow's Respite Inn and Percy and Vex heading to buy more black powder. They see Victor's house with a gaping hole in the roof. Vex and Trinket stay outside while Percy places his coat on the latter's back and heads in. Victor greets him, not recognizing Percy, and is revealed to be missing a few fingers due to an unsuccessful experiment. He sells Percy four vials of black powder, but not before telling him that another customer, a young, finely dressed woman presumed to be Anna Ripley, has stopped by a few weeks earlier buying black powder as well. Victor then remembers Percy, and Vex steps in to pay for the powder. Vex persuades Victor to keep quiet if Ripley ever comes back to buy more powder.

Drinking at the Bellow's Respite Inn

Percy and Vex rejoin the rest of Vox Machina along with Zahra and Kashaw in drinking at the Bellow's Respite Inn. Zahra mentions seeing Grog at the Crucible and drunkenly tells him that she made a hammer for him and will give it to him before they leave Vasselheim. A bartender from before, Once-Lucky Ned, announces that Grog is the current winner of the Crucible, mostly to disinterest. Percy announces a toast, and after a short speech about having purpose to fight the dragons that is interrupted by Scanlan, the group cheers and then breaks down into individual conversations. Grog asks Ned if Earthbreaker Groon can be found at the Inn, and Ned directs him to the temple at the Trial Forge. After realizing that half the group is too drunk to continue their tasks, Vax suggests that the group watch Grog fight. Just as the group decides this, Kern steps into the inn and promptly back out.

Grog chases him out into an alleyway and they have a short conversation about Earthbreaker Groon. Kern reveals that he trained with Groon after their first fight, although Groon dismissed him as too angry. Kern and Grog relate over having bloodthirsty upbringings before Kern tells Grog that Groon asked him to test someone in the future in exchange for training. The two part on amicable terms.

Vax, a little tipsy, implores Kashaw to aid Vox Machina against the Chroma Conclave before walking off into the corner and getting stuck in a closet. Zahra brings up the topic of Kashaw kissing Keyleth, and Vex tells Keyleth to make up her mind.

Break

Part II

The party lets Vax out of the closet and they all head to the Platinum Sanctuary, the temple to Bahamut where they had left the Horns of Orcus previously (See: "Enter Vasselheim" (1x16)). They are admitted to the presence of Highbearer Vord. He is aware of the destruction in Tal'Dorei, but refuses to aid with reinforcements because he fears Tiamat would attack Vasselheim if he did. However, he can offer the assistance of their finest champion, and once the champion reports their certainty that victory can be had, perhaps Vasselheim might be able to send a little more of their power to Tal'Dorei. One of the armored knights steps forward, Platinum Knight Udire, but there is a loud clang and Udire is thrown off his feet as stepping up from behind is a scar-faced female halfling with gold-trimmed armor and a blue cloak, shouting, "Oh no, you don't! This is my home turf! I'm going." It is Lady Kima of Vord.

The party excitedly tells Vord they want her, not Udire, and he agrees. When they mention the Vestiges of Divergence, he tells them that they are pre-Divergence relics of the battles against both the early titans, and the Betrayer Gods during the Calamity. The only advice he can give for seeking them is to start with research at the Cobalt Reserve.

After some discussion, the party decides to go first to Earthbreaker Groon since he is in the city. On the way to the Trial Forge, Kash apologizes to Keyleth for stealing a kiss during their earlier encounter. Once there, they are admitted to the presence of the Earthbreaker, who is sitting in the center of the sand-floored fighting ring. Grog approaches, and Groon tells him that this will be a test to see if he will break against the shadow. Groon instantly attacks, knocking him flat, and asking, "Strongjaw. Where do you find your strength?" Grog responds, "In my anger," and Groon slams back down, again asking, "Where do you find your strength?" He tells Grog to choose two of his friends to help him, and Grog chooses Pike, who is not there, and Vax and Scanlan, who are shoved into the pit to join him.

Fan art of Earthbreaker Groon fighting Grog, by David Rodrigues.[art 3]

Vax tries to hide and hold his turn so he can wait for Grog to act, but there is nothing to hide behind. He throws his daggers, but Groon catches one and throws it back, hitting Scanlan. Groon goes all out on Grog, but Scanlan uses Eyebite to send Groon to sleep. Vax hurts him significantly while he's down, but the now-awake Groon retaliates against him. Grog wounds Groon with Craven Edge but Groon is able to resist the blade's strength-stealing, noting that Grog carries "such a dark weapon." Scanlan uses his Eyebite to cause Groon to get sick and Vax is able to get a critical sneak attack in on him, and manages to resist Groon's retaliatory Quivering Palm. Grog lands a single hit, and Scanlan summons Bigby's Hand to attack. In Patient Defense stance, Groon manages to avoid Vax's dagger-dagger-dagger, and lands multiple strikes on Scanlan, breaking his concentration on Bigby's Hand. Grog again hits him, and Groon hits both Grog and Scanlan, then gets a stunning strike on Grog and does damage to both Vax and Scanlan, stunning Vax.

Fan art of Grog and Earthbreaker Groon
"Where do you find your strength?", by Lap Pun Cheung.[art 4]

Grog tries to switch weapons, but hears Craven Edge's voice convincing him that he cannot possibly relinquish the blade, and hits Groon with it once more. Then his vision goes dark, his sight goes to black and the entire vicinity fades except for the Earthbreaker before him, just staring at him in the darkness. He steps towards Grog, and while his mouth doesn't move, Grog hears his voice saying once more, "Grog. You are stronger than this thing that binds you. Where do you find your strength?" Grog replies: "In my friends." The darkness shatters, and Groon bows before him.

Groon tells Grog they do not need the strength of Vasselheim to aid them, but that what they need can be found, recovered, and reborn. He knows of two, but the rest they must find themselves. The first is a gift from Kord himself to the mortal plane, carved from the corpse of the earth primordial titan that fell on Issylra in "the first war". These Titanstone Knuckles were a symbol of power and leadership for generations in Vasselheim until the last known keeper was slain 200 years ago and the gauntlets taken. Groon does not know where they now are. The second is a set of leather armor formerly worn by the champion of The Raven Queen. The champion's tomb has since come to ruin, sunken beneath a lake to the west known as the Marrowglade Loch. Within that tomb lies the Deathwalker's Ward. Telling Grog that he's found his strength and knows his path, Groon can help him no further, and he sits back down to sit in the center of the sand.

Featured Characters

Vox Machina

New

Returning

Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Acquired 2,250 Gold Slayer's Take Kashaw
Zahra
Acquired 2 Potion of Healing Slayer's Take Vex'ahlia
Acquired 1 Potion of Greater Healing Slayer's Take Vex'ahlia
Transferred 1 Potion of Greater Healing Vex'ahlia Vax'ildan
Transferred 1 Potion of Healing Vex'ahlia Scanlan
1 Percy
Relinquished 5,000 Gold Party funds Cidrick Gillsman used for paying of potions
Relinquished ?? "Knick-knacks of Kaa" (Worth 750 gp) Vex'ahlia Cidrick Gillsman Used while bartering to knock down the price of the potions (Bartered worth to 1500 gp)
Acquired 1 Potion of Superior Healing Cidrick Gillsman Vox Machina
Acquired 2 Potion of Greater Healing Cidrick Gillsman Vox Machina
Acquired 10 Potion of Healing Cidrick Gillsman Vox Machina
Acquired 4 Vial of Black Powder Victor Percy
Relenquished 250 Gold Party funds Victor for vials of black powder

Quotations

  • Keyleth: Hi.
    Kashaw: How are you?
    Keyleth: What are you doing here?
    Kashaw: This is kind of where I live. What are you doing here?
    Keyleth: (flustered) Just, you know, rolling through. Passing by. Not much.[3]
  • Scanlan: Yeah I mean she gave us a lot to "sphinx" about.
    Vanessa: (slow clapping)] And to think I might have briefly missed you.[4]
  • Vax'ildan: Do you think she [the nymph]'s still there, Grog?
    Grog: Oh yeah, trust me. When you have Grog – you never leave?[5]
  • Vex'ahlia: So, I thought you were interested in Keyleth. Am I wrong? I mean, you’re interested in Keyleth. Right? I mean, I know you don’t want to tell me. I know you don’t tell me anything like this, but – is it weird that he’s here?
    Vax'ildan: No, he’s fine. And I am. ... I don’t hold anything against him, and she’s – why wouldn’t he want her? Of course he does.
    Vex'ahlia: Yes, yes, yes, Keyleth is so! Fucking! Beautiful! I get it.
    Vax'ildan: Well, so are you, but what the fuck am I going to do with that? Jeez, you’re fucking weird.[6]
  • Cidrick: (examining Vox Machina's visually-enchanted knick-knacks) Hmm. They seem fair enough. I would say, include these in the transaction, I would be willing to drop the cost by about 500 gold pieces? An even 6,000.
    Vex'ahlia: Darling. (snatching away the knick-knacks) Do you have any idea how much these are worth?
    Cidrick: I do, actually, I'm quite the appraiser. It's part of my business.
    Vex'ahlia: I know when somebody's trying to swindle me, darling.
    Cidrick: Well then, step away! You don't need my business, obviously. (to Grog) Is this how your 'Shiny Manager' deals with your shinies? Or would you wish to deal with this face to face?[7]
  • Matt: (after the party complains about the price of healing potions) Oh my god! I just buy healing to save my life! Such a waste! Oh my god, there’s like a whole trade of really talented magical practitioners that spend their time crafting and brewing up these potions in the hopes they can save your life in the future.[8]
  • Percy: Vex and Vax. We're having a toast to the inevitability of the cosmos.
    Vex'ahlia: A toast? We're toasting? At a time like this?
    Percy: We are.
    Keyleth: Look, there's never not a good time to toast.[9]
  • Earthbreaker Groon: Strongjaw. Where do you find your strength?
    Grog: In my anger.[10]
  • Earthbreaker Groon: Grog. You are stronger than this thing that binds you. Where do you find your strength?
    Grog: In my friends.[11]

Gallery of Events

External Links

References

  1. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 0:27:25.
  2. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) from 0:27:52 through 0:28:44.
  3. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) from 14:07 through 14:25.
  4. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 40:59.
  5. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 44:04.
  6. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) from 51:19 through 52:08.
  7. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) from 1:03:47 through 1:04:17.
  8. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) from 1:23:20 through 1:13:33.
  9. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 1:27:35.
  10. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 2:50:18.
  11. See "Return to Vasselheim" (1x43) at 3:36:41.

Art:

  1. Fan art of Zahra greeting Vax'ildan with a tail-whip, by Sedona Parnham (source).  Permission needed.
  2. Fan art of Vex saying she can take out Kashaw, by Megzilla87 (source).  Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Earthbreaker Groon fighting Grog, by David Rodrigues (source).  Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of Grog and Earthbreaker Groon
    "Where do you find your strength?", by Lap Pun Cheung (source).  Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of Kashaw and Keyleth clearing the air about their kiss from "Trial of the Take: Part 4" (1x21), by Megzilla87 (source).  Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of Vax'ildan, Scanlan, and Grog getting ready to fight against Earthbreaker Groon, by Bruno Wright (source).  Used with permission.
  7. Fan art of Victor the black powder merchant, by Der Krakel (source).  Permission needed.


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