"The Cathedral" (2x86) is the eighty-sixth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein race to the cathedral of the Dawnfather in a desperate effort to stop Obann's sinister plot...
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Previously on Critical Role
Last we left off, the Mighty Nein, for quite some time, have been chasing the tracks of the Angel of Irons, a somewhat new and esoteric cult that only whispers have been discovered about them and what their plot was. You came to uncover that the Angel of Irons was a cover to trick these other people and cultists into helping the Chained Oblivion, Tharizdun, begin to unravel its bindings deep in the Abyss. In chasing Obann, who had gathered three figures to what he referred to as his “family”: your companion Yasha, the Laughing Hand, a terrible undying champion of Torog, and the Inevitable End, the Caedogeist, Jourrael. All three of them bound to his will, he carried them across Exandria, gathering things necessary to see this plot to fruition, your last Scry spell revealing them arriving in the capital city of Rexxentrum in Wildemount. It seemed at this time that Vence, another cultist, had delivered some scrolls and information to a cathedral deep in the city, and whispers of what seemed to be a rather imminent moment. So, rushing your way to Rexxentrum, asking for aid, you come to the rainy city, dark storm clouds overhead. You try to look for any sort of sign of where this cathedral might be, and upon arriving, finding out that the city is seemingly under attack at the same time by Kryn operatives. You hear what sounds like din of battle in the distance, though you’ve seen none directly. Is it just chaos to distract? Who knows? But you’ve gathered yourselves and an ally, Pumat Sol, who has come along with you to deal with this scenario after he was attacked along with you in his house in Zadash, and you’ve stepped out from the Rexxentrum Archive of the Cobalt Soul into the wet, slick cobblestoned streets of the city, heading eastward towards the base of the Shimmer Ward, where it is believed that this cathedral, known as the Chantry of the Dawn, stands.
So, Mighty Nein, as you step out into the air above, you can hear the heavy elements of rain coming down from above. Pushing through, you can see the streets are seemingly deserted by most civilians. The few you see run confused, some of them out of curiosity, others out of fear. Crownsguard occasionally attempt to keep the peace among them. You hear quick rumors and demands for information from the crowd to the guard, and none of them responding, continuing to push them into their homes or push them out of the way. You can hear shouts from congested neighborhoods at the peripheral of your watch as you go from intersection to intersection, heading east deeper into the city, the tall roofs and climbing spires of the various buildings that surround and frame your continued travel looming atop, almost cutting out the grayish sky above. You can see ahead of you about 20 or 30 Righteous Brand that just rush past you northwards toward the Platinum Veranda, where you can hear muffled shouts and a chaotic echo of battle. Is there anything you want to do, or continue traveling eastward?
The party (including Pumat) rushes eastward towards the ray of light still shining down upon the Chantry of the Dawn, and encounter bands of soldiers rushing northward toward the sounds of battle. The soldiers tell them to get to their homes as quickly as possible. Suddenly, they hear a faint vibration from the ground beneath them and a giant purple worm erupts from below, bearing three Kryn soldiers on its back. The Kryn soldiers leap off and kill the three Crownsguard present, then turn on the Mighty Nein. Fjord pulls out his symbol of the Bright Queen and shows it to them, telling them that the party is here on her business and to leave them be. Impressed by the symbol, the Kryn soldiers leap back onto the worm and it burrows back into the ground.
As the city's alarm bells begin ringing around them, they reach the Chantry, where Caduceus senses Yasha within and below. They scout the perimeter and find no entrances other than the main locked doors, but the main larger section of the church has massive stained glass windows forming its back wall. Jester uses her Marvelous Pigments to create a small peephole in the entryway, and sees a small room with two hooded figures within it, rifling through a desk. Seeing that there is nowhere inconspicuous to place a crawlspace, the party moves around to the side of the cathedral outside its main chamber, where Jester creates an entry point just large enough for each of them to crawl through one at a time.
Nott, using Invisibility, stealthily enters first. She sees a beautiful cavernous cathedral with a raised central platform holding an altar of the Dawnfather, pews, and the huge stained glass windows on the back wall. There are about eight more cloaked figures, and at the altar stands Cardinal Respa, giving a sermon about the glories of the Angel of Irons and mentioning "the family below". Caleb offers to create a diversion for the party and moves around to the back of the exterior of the building. Forty seconds later, a massive cat's claw slams through the center stained glass window and into the cathedral interior, initiating combat.
Jester Invokes Duplicity and sends in her duplicate after Nott, with Jester herself right behind, but she is spotted. With their cover blown, she summons her Spiritual Weapon and attacks, provoking shouts of "Intruder!" Nott becomes visible while firing her crossbow at Cardinal Respa. Caleb uses his giant cat's claw to ride through the shattered window into the cathedral and casts a massive Fireball into the center of the cultists, killing four outright (and succeeding on his resulting wisdom save). The rest of the party enters one by one, dealing damage to Respa and the surviving cultists, and taking some in return, most notably from Respa's Fire Storm. The party clearly has the upper hand until multiple dretches (small demons) appear and attack as well. Nott succeeds in getting the How do you want to do this? on Respa by pinning her to a pillar with a bolt through the neck, following Jester's Guiding Bolt. As Nott aims, for a second she thinks she sees a green hand touch hers, correcting her aim.
The party hears heavy footsteps approaching and Caduceus senses Yasha arriving as the Laughing Hand barrels through a door behind the altar, followed by Obann and Yasha. Obann flies to the top of the chamber and successfully casts Dominate Person on Beauregard, telling her to kill the others for him, but she uses Stillness of Mind to end the charm effect. The fighting continues as Fjord summons a Vrock, a large winged demon, but Fjord is almost immediately seriously wounded and poisoned by the suddenly-appearing Inevitable End and loses concentration on the spell, freeing the vrock to attack whatever non-demon is nearest to it-- luckily, Obann. Jourrael disappears back into the floor but continues to return and do horrific damage on each turn.
Both sides continue to deal heavy damage to each other. After Nott hits him, Obann retaliates by charming her, ordering her to follow him, and darting back down through the doors leading to the basement. More cultists rush in, but before the Laughing Hand can follow Obann, Beau stuns him. Yasha then approaches Beau slowly, raising Skingorger and knocking Beau unconscious, following it with another strike, giving Beau two failed death saves. Tears roll down Yasha's face as she approaches Fjord, who casts Enervation on her, stealing some of her life energy for himself. Pumat uses Tenser's Transformation to grow in size and muscle mass and become "Pumat Swole".
Caduceus casts Dispel Magic at the orange glow on the back of Yasha's neck, breaking the charm. As he does so, lightning strikes the outside of the cathedral, shattering all the remaining stained glass windows, and Yasha lets out a primal scream of agony and relief as her mind is again her own. Caduceus also casts Spare the Dying on Beau, stabilizing her, and Jester's duplicate uses Cure Wounds to get her back on her feet. Caleb, horrified at having seen Beau stabbed, casts Widogast's Web of Fire on the Laughing Hand, incinerating him. Fjord does not drop Enervation on Yasha, saying, "I'll take you up on that grief and regret," as he pulls more life energy from her into himself.
With Nott having followed Obann through the door, Yasha back on their side, the Laughing Hand dead, and the Inevitable End failing to re-appear, the only opponents left are a few cultists, the still-appearing dretches, and the vrock. Pumat casts Whirlwind and tells them he can take care of this; they should go after Obann. Although Jester is very reluctant to leave him, they all enter the descending staircase behind the doors and barricade it behind them, taking ten minutes for Caduceus's Prayer of Healing and some potions, and for Caleb to change the wooden crosspiece of the door into iron. Yasha apologizes to the party, saying, "I don't know how I can make any of you trust me again because I don't even trust myself." The party starts down the long, dark staircase.
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About fifty feet below, the party finds an underground level with four open chambers. Yasha tells them that Obann's group had come down below to break the shackles off the first fane and they needed four to do it, but were called back upstairs to fight before they could reach it to start the ritual. Obann has chosen very specific people to do it, that he believes either cannot be killed, or are easy to bring back when they are. The Nein investigate the rooms and find six people apparently sleeping in the beds, but then notice they're not breathing. They wear the robes of the Chantry, not of the cultists, and died of poison probably that morning.
Yasha leads the way further down into the damp, musty crypt, lined with shelves of bones and corpses, with four ember-filled braziers surrounding a central brazier in the shape of the Dawnfather. They investigate and find no signs of the portal device Vence Nuthaleus delivered to Respa, remembering that the demon dretches seemed to be coming from the towers in the cathedral room upstairs. However, Jester notices a square on the back side of the central Pelor brazier where the dust has been pushed aside, but pulling or attempting to move the statue does nothing.
Beau eventually notices that the brazier on the back left has a faint bit of ash and charcoal on the ground around it as though it's been recently disturbed, but it is completely immovable. They eventually empty it of ashes and discover a two-inch lever at its bottom, but it too is immovable. Lighting all the braziers back up, Beau reaches into the flames and the lever now moves, opening the stone square and revealing a narrow stone staircase descending a hundred feet further down.
Single file, they reach a cylindrical chamber made of rough, ancient rock, with three load-bearing pillars. It has an ancient obelisk in the center bearing bright white-yellow glowing runes in Celestial reading, "Eternal. Bound. Forever at bay. Left to darkness. Secret." A bright light crowns the obelisk, and three thick gold chains lead from it to different walls of the room. Between the three pillars and the obelisk in the center, there are four runic circles drawn on the ground in jagged script. Nott stands in one of the circles, still under Obann's control.
From just outside the chamber, Caleb casts Dispel Magic on Nott, freeing her from the charm, and Messages her that they are there and not to reply to the message, but to cough once if Obann and Jourrael are in there with her. Nott has a coughing fit. The clerics bless everyone and they enter. As soon as they do so, Nott screams, fires her crossbow (intentionally missing) and runs off into a far corner. Fjord, still under the effect of See Invisibility looks up and sees Obann and the Caedogeist floating up at the top of the chamber about 50 feet above.
Jourrael attacks Beau, but Beau's Sentinel ability gives her an attack of opportunity which lands, preventing Jourrael's disappearance. Fjord casts Faerie Fire on Obann, making him visible to everyone and granting them advantage against him, but he remains flying out of melee range above them. When Yasha attacks Jourrael, Yasha tells her she can regain control over her mind and to fight Obann's control. Obann then charms Fjord, ordering him to step into one of the circles, while Jester also steps into one in order to be able to cast an unsuccessful Dispel Magic on the Caedogeist. Jourrael then is able to cast Darkness and fade into a wall, escaping.
Caduceus uses Greater Restoration to free Fjord from Obann's control, but he is still in a circle. Obann flies down, enters another circle, begins scattering strange black dust in the center of the chamber, and attempts to charm Jester, but she resists and steps out of the circle she was in, hitting Obann with Inflict Wounds. When the Caedogeist reappears, she seriously wounds and poisons Caleb, but the others all continue to hit Obann. Yasha gets the final blow, reaching out and pulling off his wings, then stabbing him through the heart.
All the light in the room gets darker. The pillars and the obelisk seem to flicker and the shadows grow deeper as a low vibration shakes the floor. A hideous voice speaks in Abyssal, saying "You failed. And so shall be punished." The blood pouring from Obann blackens and gushes as his face and body melt, turning into a black oily sludge, boiling and roiling. Tendrils reach out as it rises up into Obann the Punished, a mass of black, blue, and dark green tentacles, teeth, and eyes, cursed with a punished form from the Chained Oblivion.
- Beauregard Lionett
- Caduceus Clay
- Caleb Widogast
- Jester Lavorre
- Yasha Nydoorin
|Acknowledged||1||Tuskborn Breastplate||unknown||Yasha||Breastplate as medium armour for an AC of 14 + Dex modifier, requires attunement|
- Nott: (watching Kryn battle Crownsguard) I don’t even know who I’m rooting for.
- Beau: (after Obann's Dominate Person) As I look at Obann and he says, “Kill them all,” I start to slip into the Sunken Place, and I feel the darkness come through like tunnel vision, and then I just close my eyes and I resist. And when I open them, I am sitting next to the ocean in Nicodranas, meditating. And I breathe, and I’m going to use Stillness of Mind to end a charm effect.
- Matt: (describing the transformed Pumat) And his robe pulls, Hulk-style, at the edges of his body. His short sword suddenly emits this force energy around it, and Pumat is now Hulked out between the two of them.
Taliesin: Do we want to say it together? Three, two, one.
Taliesin, Liam, and Ashley: Pumat Swole!
- Matt: (to Yasha, as Obann's charm is broken) Obann washes away, and you hear the crackle of thunder echoing through the city. And you feel the surge of strength fill you as the entity that’s been trying desperately to help you break through is definitely now at your side. You close your eyes and remember yourself fighting against the chains in the dreams that were given, and as you close your eyes, you see yourself breaking the shackles. You see the influence no longer holding any sway over your soul. There’s nothing but the storm, vengeance, and hope.
- Caleb: (after burning the Laughing Hand) Get the fuck away from my friends.
- Matt: (at Obann's death) The blood becomes more and more of a gush like a waterfall, and his body begins to melt, and his face, as his entire corpse turns into this black oily sludge that begins to spill out on the ground and expand. You all step back a bit as you watch it boil and roil. Tendrils begin to reach out of it. You watch as it rises up from the black inky mess: Obann the Punished rises, a mass of black, blue and dark deep green tentacles and teeth and eyes, cursed now with a punished form from the Chained Oblivion.
- This was the third longest episode so far in the Second Campaign, behind "The Stowaway" (2x45) and "Found & Lost" (2x26).
- Fan art of Chantry of the Dawn, by BlackSalander (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Caleb's distraction, by Cyarna Trim (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Caleb's entrance, by Megan Dunne (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the Angel of Irons champions, by BlackSalander (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Dispel - 5th Level, by oliviahintz (source). Used with permission.
- Screenshot of the interior of the Fane Room. "The Cathedral" (2x86) at 4:10:52