"The Chase Begins" (2x112) is the one hundred twelfth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. While preparing to journey to Eiselcross, the Mighty Nein find themselves torn as they uncover a pressing mystery about a friend thought lost...

Synopsis

Announcements

Previously on Critical Role

So, last we left off: The Mighty Nein, after an intense dinner with Trent and some individuals from Caleb’s past, and making an arrangement with Vess DeRogna of the Cerberus Assembly to escort her northward toward the ruins and the excavation of what seems to be the city of Aeor, a Pre-Calamity mage-ocracy that has been long vanished...

Fan art of the purple tiefling, by DaftHux.[art 1]

You made your way to Zadash, purchased some things, and began to enquire about the whereabouts of this individual Cree, that may have had some information about this "Nonagon" figure, Lucien and this history that seemed to have some weird connection with the visions you had while on the island of Rumblecusp. Upon checking, Cree seemed a bit dodgy and not wanting to respond, and then upon Scrying you found her pushing through a blizzard, someplace far from here.

Feeling a bit odd about these circumstances, you went to see if you could glean some information from the corpse of your friend, Mollymauk. You traveled to his resting site, where you had buried him, not too far from where he fell nearly a year ago, and upon inspecting the site, discovered the body was not there. In the midst of this, Jester, you decided to Scry upon where the body of Mollymauk might be, and were given a vision similar to that of Cree, another snow-covered, blizzard-battered space where you saw, walking, a familiar purple-skinned tiefling, bundled in furs and leathers, pushing his way through the storm, determined and grinning. And that’s where we left off.

Part I

Jester tells the group that Molly is with Cree in the snow, alive, walking, and smiling. She immediately wants to send him a message, but the others agree that they need to wait until they know more before contacting him, in case he's no longer friendly to them. His presence in the far north, however, means their need to get to Eiselcross has now become much more urgent. They discover that the note that Caleb left in Molly's coat telling him how to reach them[1] is gone.

Fan art of Jester and Henry, by Maliveth.[art 2]

Jester uses her Charm of Plant Command to ask a clump of crabgrass if it noticed anything. The crabgrass, which Jester gives the name "Henry Crabgrass", tells her that a small group of people came and dug out a guy under the ground about fifty days earlier, and then began chanting to bring him back to life. It seems to the party that the group must be the Tombtakers.

They decide to talk to Vess DeRogna in person in order to try to find out what she knows about the Tombtakers. Caleb uses Teleportation Circle to return them to Rexxentrum, where Vess tells them via Jester's Sending that she'll be home in four hours. In the meantime, they go get mulled wine and visit the tailors making their cold weather gear, paying to expedite delivery to the following morning.

At Vess's tower, Fjord's curiosity about one of the paintings on the wall accidentally releases an imp, which then flies up the stairs, followed by Vess coming down. The Nein ask her if she knows of the Tombtakers, and she recognizes the name as one of many groups she has hired in the past, but no longer uses because they had trouble staying focused on the job at hand. She does remember Lucien as part of the group. Vess is unworried by their competition in reaching her goals in the north.

Fjord asks if there are traps where they are going, and Vess responds that there are malfunctioning remnants. Beau tells Vess (falsely) that the Tombtakers are now in the employ of the Kryn Dynasty, and Vess admits that if they have allied themselves with someone with more knowledge then perhaps they should expedite their departure. She can be ready by evening, but the Nein ask to delay for two days since Caduceus's armor enchantment won't be finished till then. When she learns it is Pumat Sol doing the work, she tells the party she will speak to him and expedite the process.

Fan art of Jester's talk with Yasha, by Elaine Tipping.[art 3]

The party teleports to the Cobalt Soul in Zadash, rejoining Yeza and Luc at the Lodge of the Eclipse where a lively burlesque show is underway which Beau stays downstairs for. Yasha and Jester head to the girls' room, which has two beds. Jester suggests maybe Yasha and Beau would like to share one.

Oh, Beau, Beau, Beau,
Eyes so blue and hair so shorn on the sides,
Abs so many, but frame so small.
How I wish to envelop you with my wings!
– 
Yasha and Jester's poem for Beau[2]
[!h]

Embarassed, Yasha says she'll sleep on the floor. She admits Beau makes her nervous. Jester offers to leave the room, and Yasha, totally flustered, says she doesn't know what to do. Jester shares that Beau likes Yasha, which adds to her confusion. Eventually Jester agrees to stay, and Yasha decides to sleep on the floor, but to ask Beau how she feels at a good opportunity. When Beau returns, they have a gloriously awkward conversation while Jester pretends to sleep and tries to smother her laughter.

In the morning, Veth uses Disguise Self to turn into Vess DeRogna, badly shocking Yeza. His fearful reaction makes the party question him further, asking if Vess threatened him. He hems and haws, finally settling on describing her as forceful, persuasive, and a terrible boss, but talks Veth out of killing her.

They head to the Invulnerable Vagrant to check on the status of Caduceus's armor. The shop appears closed, but when they knock, an exhausted Pumat answers and asks for twenty more minutes. They apologize for putting him in this position, and when they return, the armor is complete and Vess DeRogna is there, apparently having helped with the enchantment.

Caleb teleports Luc and Yeza to Yussa's tower in Nicodranas, then the party teleports to the Cobalt Soul in Rexxentrum. They pick up their winter gear and join Lady DeRogna at her home, where she Teleports them all to Palebank Village.

Break

Part II

The group approaches the village gates and is grudgingly admitted, then walk through town down to the docks. Lady DeRogna books them passage on the Midnight Hammer, a relatively large icebreaker ship. Going aboard, they are welcomed by Captain Kem Liard, who tells them they'll be leaving by nightfall on the seven- to twelve-day voyage. In the meantime, the party buys supplies in the village, surveilled by several glassblades. They are also introduced to the first mate, Ruega Timbercall.

Visions of warm horizons meet you again, of sunrises on seas you’ve never seen, islands uncharted and unvisited, ships and struggles and ocean depths below, mysteries hidden. And yet it feels like home. As her presence is there, though wordlessly, you can interpret the emotions coming from the Wildmother here, and it feels like she’s saying:
The Wildmother: Is this the freedom you seek?
Fjord: Yes.
The Wildmother: Like the waters you live upon and traverse that shift and bend and exist to move around whatever blocks their path, or hold stalwart against those that would wish to defeat it. Do you wish to be like this ocean?
Fjord: I can’t think of a greater way to spend the rest of my days.
The Wildmother: Do you trust the skies above, the portents of nature, that I may try best to warn and keep you safe on these journeys?
Fjord: Yes.
The Wildmother: And do you swear to follow this inspiration, to seek out the mysteries hidden beneath the waves and beyond that eternal horizon?
Fjord: Fuck, yes!
The Wildmother: Then your path is clear.
– 
Fjord's Oath of the Open Sea[3]
[!h]

Belowdeck, they create some privacy in their "quarters" in the cargo hold by shifting crates around. The ship departs toward sunset and they realize there are no sails, but that the ship moves via a clockwork mechanism of gnomish make. It is powered from a room in the bottom of the ship which the captain warns them not to enter.

Fjord goes to the bow of the ship and meditates, praying to the Wildmother for calm seas and protection from "certain eyes". He feels the warmth of her presence and her emotions wordlessly asking him if he wishes to remain on the ocean, seeking out its mysteries, and when he enthusiastically says he does, she swears him to the Oath of the Open Sea as her paladin.

Before bed, Jester Scrys on Mollymauk, seeing him sitting at the mouth of a cavern near a fire, staring into the flames. Jester speaks to the Traveler, noting that Molly seems different, and wondering if any of him is still in there. Meanwhile, Caduceus casts Commune, learning that Cree is headed for the same place they are and that she is ahead of them. The Wildmother does not know if Vess DeRogna knows more than she is letting on.

At sunset after the first day of travel, they spot wreckage below and investigate, finding five frozen corpses of Righteous Brand soldiers, some pelts, and a closed box containing a magical scroll which Caleb later identifies as a Scroll of Protection against Aberrations. The party (except Jester) each suffers a point of exhaustion from exposure to the cold.

Fan art of the amber vault shattering, by Jake Wennik.[art 4]

Three additional days go by uneventfully. With about six days left on their journey, on the fourth day the snow turns into sleet and a heavy storm. Caduceus hears a strange clicking sound off the side of the ship and the Mighty Nein all run up on deck, prepared for battle, to see one of the crew members pulled off the ship and disappear. Caduceus casts Water Walking on the party as three chuuls climb aboard.

The party attacks, with only Beau suffering significant damage and Beau and Yasha being grappled. Veth casts Hypnotic Pattern on the creatures, also hitting Beau, and she is charmed and incapacitated along with all three chuuls, but Caleb casts Dispel Magic on her, releasing her. Caduceus Banes all three.

Fan art of the undead Avantika, by @hierothraxs.[art 5]

At that point, they see a previously unnoticed deep scion at the rear of the ship holding a crystal in its hand as if locating something. It zeroes in on Caleb and his amber necklace shatters, dispelled, all its contents spilling out on the deck including the cloven crystal. Fjord looks over to see pulling up over the side of the boat an ice-covered figure wearing a large-brimmed plumed hat, faintly blue-glowing eyes, and a twisted neck. It is Captain Avantika, who says, "Darling, we have business elsewhere," as she reaches toward Fjord. He is able to resist her attempt to pull him over the side of the ship, but she pulls out two evil-looking blades and says, "It's been a while."

Featured Characters

The Mighty Nein

New

Fan art of Avantika's return, by Vera Rehaag.[art 6]

Returning

Mentioned

Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Acquired Multiple Rexxentrum steins Unspecified Rexxentrum merchant Caduceus Caduceus paid extra to have them engraved.
Transferred 2 Rexxentrum steins Caduceus Veth, then Luc and Yeza As a parting souvenir.
Reclaimed 1 Green beetle breastplate Pumat Sol Caduceus Enchanted to add +1 to AC.
Transferred 1 Flask of Perpetual Booze Beau Veth To replace the not-yet-ready newly commissioned one.
Acquired 2 weeks worth Serviceable rations Unidentified Palebank store The party Yasha paid the inflated price, 80 gp, for the group.
Acquired Numerous Thick pelts Shipwreck 1 to Fjord, balance to ship's crew Worth 15gp each when thawed.
Acquired 1 Scroll of Protection (Aberrations) Shipwreck Caleb

Quotations

Fan art of marshmallows schnuggling, by Jean Smith.[art 7]

  • Jester: Do you have a name?
    Henry Crabgrass: I don't think so. Do you want to give me one?
    Jester: Yeah. Henry.
    Henry: I'm Henry. Henry Crabgrass.
    Jester: I'll pet Henry.
    Henry: Consent, please.[4]
  • Yasha: (about Beau) I know she's tough on the outside, but...
    Jester: She's all warm and gooey on the inside.
    Yasha: Yeah, she is.
    Jester: Just like Yasha. Just like you. You're just a couple of marshmallows.[5]
  • Jester: Yasha. You can't feel guilty for how you feel. If she makes you feel happy, that's a wonderful thing. That's so rare![6]
  • Avantika: (to Fjord) Darling, we have business elsewhere.[7]

Trivia

  • The animated intro was modified to reflect Molly's grave marker askew and his coat blowing away after the raven flies off. New NPCs shown rising from Matt's book at the end were: Trent Ikithon, Artagan, Reani, Twiggy and Spurt, Vilya, and Mollymauk/Lucien/Nonagon.

References

  1. See "Converging Fury" (2x27) at 30:14.
  2. See "The Chase Begins" (2x112) at 1:39:10.
  3. See "The Chase Begins" (2x112) at 3:15:10.
  4. See "The Chase Begins" (2x112) at 0:26:35.
  5. See "The Chase Begins" (2x112) at 1:35:01.
  6. See "The Chase Begins" (2x112) at 1:37:21.
  7. See "The Chase Begins" (2x112) at 4:15:35.

Art:

  1. Fan art of the purple tiefling, by DaftHux (source).  Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of Jester and Henry, by Maliveth (source).  Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Jester's talk with Yasha, by Elaine Tipping (source).  Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of the amber vault shattering, by Jake Wennik (source).  Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of the undead Avantika, by @hierothraxs (source).  Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of Avantika's return, by Vera Rehaag (source).  Used with permission.
  7. Fan art of marshmallows schnuggling, by Jean Smith (source).  Used with permission.


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