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"The King's Cage" (2x69) is the sixty-ninth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein pass through an ominous doorway to uncover the secrets of an evil locked away for centuries...

Synopsis Edit

Pre-Show Edit

Announcements Edit

  • Sam talked about the new D&D Beyond Essentials Kit available at Target.
  • He then challenged Liam to a debate in their ongoing battle to secure the Presidency of D&D Beyond. Sam claims that his campaign is back on track as he is a "master debater".
  • Matt spoke about:
    • Idle Champions, the second sponsor for this episode.
    • Talks Machina Panel at San Diego Comicon.
    • Summer programming forecast.
    • Next week is a break, so 9 Jul 2019 will be the next transmission.
    • The new Mighty Nein tabard decorating the set.

Previously on Critical Role Edit

So, last we left off, the Mighty Nein had been chasing down a lead, an individual who had been racing northward, and seemingly is attached to these strange devices that have been causing rifts to the Abyss to tear open all across Xhorhas. In following this individual across the Barbed Fields, dodging and escaping dangerous encounters, you found yourself beneath the nearby mountains of Bazzoxan, traveling through subterranean tunnels of some ancient dungeon, once locked by these celestial angel statues. You made your way through a bridge where silence was of the essence, where it seemed a chasm filled with tortured, twisting flesh, teeth, and eyes would gibber, if you will, upon hearing the presence of players. Escaping the confusion and a few tumbles, one completely off the edge of the bridge and into the mass, thankfully salvaged by a played-via-remote Jester, and then into a strange, cold, maze of mirrors, and a glacial crystal barrier, upon which inspecting the reflections in the mirror, the reflections began to pull some of you in. In an alternate chamber there, battle was done with strange reflections, dark reflections of yourselves. Upon completing that battle, you found a way back into the main chamber, discovered the musical key that managed to open this crystalline barrier, and behind that another door which contained one of the porcelain celestial sculptures, holding its hands together with a small opening. You discovered in the mirror realm some sort of a magical dagger that was embedded in the wall. Placing it within this sculpture, it unlocked the door. As the eyes bled, they swung open. And that is where we’ve left off.

Part I Edit

Obann and the Orphan MakerEdit

The party takes a short rest, while Caleb identifies the whip that Frumpkin retrieved, and Jester decides to keep it. Nott and Jester go back to the mirror room and Nott asks Jester if she's seen her flask. At first, Jester evades the question, but then gives in and admits she took it because she was worried about Nott and hoped she would realize that she didn't need it. She gives it back, encouraging Nott to cut back on her drinking. Nott admits that she's scared because, although she loves her husband and son, she doesn't want to just go back with them and leave her current life. Eventually Nott agrees to only drink between 11:30 am and 11:00 pm, and gets started.

Welcome to the heart of the King's Cage, a relic of the Calamity, devised as a temple built to Torag around a primal fane[1] of corrupting power. It was built secretly by the Allhammer Moradin and Sehanine the Moonweaver to lure Torag into its use. Once bound to the fane, it was instrumental in banishing him beyond the planes to his fate within the boundaries of the Far Realm. However, this left the temple, still corrupted, and Post-Divergence it fell entirely into the control of Torag zealots and his Undying Chosen, who like his master, could not really be slain. The martyrs for Sehanine fought them to these steps, and sealed it with their own celestial life forces so they could all be forgotten...

... I had thought you lost, Orphanmaker. For so long you were the prize of us. For months we sought the threads of the Angel's design. You and I were the heart and the vessel, working towards a broken request...
... Swathes of innocents who questioned our holy journey fell beneath our blades, your blade, and you vanished, leaving us heart-broken. To see you again brings me such joy, I have not the words. I'm eager to see what you've learned and what you've become while we have been gone, Orphanmaker. You wish to know why I'm here? I'm following Her design. The Angel of Irons seeks the dark abandoned children, for she is the mother of all robbed of a greater family. Where these children lie has been cruelly kept from her; from us, until we could reach the great books, the great secrets. Here you have aided me in finding one such lost child. For that, I am eternally grateful. Her grace shines with you all, it seems...

... Well it seems the time is nigh. Come join me in welcoming our new brother to the arms of our Angel.

– 
Obann's monologue[2]

The party enters the final chamber, seeing two staircases leading down to a chained sarcophagus on a platform. On the ceiling is a mural of a crowned, swollen pale worm burrowing through landscapes. They are investigating the room when suddenly Obann comes in behind them, telling them a bit of the history of this buried temple. He then asks the Mighty Nein why they have followed him. Beau responds that he called out Yasha in a way that concerned them. Obann responded that it still does not explain why they were interrupting the secret meeting in the first place. Fjord tells Obann they want to stop his plans encourage war between the Dwendalian Empire and Kryn Dynasty. Obann then asks where the group's allegiances are. Beau points out that he keeps asking more questions instead of answering them. Caleb casts Suggestion that Obann come clean. He resists the spell.[3]

Obann greets Yasha as the Orphanmaker, his former compatriot working for the Angel of Irons. He drops his drow disguise and is shown to have red skin, yellow eyes, horns that curl across his head, and red leathery wings. Yasha recognizes his true form as the figure from her dreams. Obann expresses joy to see Orphanmaker again. He tells them he is in this place to follow the design of The Angel of Irons. He thanks the Mighty Nein for helping him find one of the Angel's "lost children". They ask him who the Angel of Irons is, but Obann does not respond. He takes off flying into the air, pulls out a stone slab, and begins reading. The Mighty Nein attack.[4]

The Battle BeginsEdit

Despite the party's best efforts, they are unable to stop his reading and only slightly wound him. As he concludes his reading, the tablet flashes, the chains shatter off, and the lid of the sarcophagus explodes upward. Mist pours from inside, and a large, meaty, pale hand grasps the side.

"By light or by blight, the dark eternal shall not be confined, shall not be contained.
The bonds of the clean wither with flame expended.
Chains to chains. To be bound is to break free.
Fulfill thy destined path and awaken."
– 
The Abyssal tablet to release the Laughing Hand[5]

Break Edit

Part II Edit

The Battle ContinuesEdit

Wearing a deep brown, oily, black-stained hood and cloak, the Laughing Hand stands a full ten feet in height. His cloak hides much of his torso, dangling just past the forearms.
BlackSalander - Darkest dungeon1144469382006898689

Fan art of the release of the Laughing Hand, by BlackSalander.[art 1]

Beneath the hood is a sagging open jaw, sharp broken teeth, and pale dirty skin weirdly twisted to look like some sort of horrifying mockery of a human face. He wears red stained leather across the body and legs, and heavy boots. His right hand is missing below the forearm, and where the hand would be is a long double-sided blade affixed and built into his arm. Obann shouts to the figure and encourages it to join the fight before flying up to the ceiling.

The Hand calls forth spirit creatures in the shape of dark hounds that emerge from the shadows, who attack Yasha. He advances on Jester, so Fjord fires two blasts of Eldritch Blast at him with little effect. The Nein realize immediately that The Laughing Hand is likely unkillable, according to the incriptions they found as they entered his tomb, and that they need to get out. Fjord summons a Barlgura[7], who joins the attack against the Laughing Hand and successfully grapples him and bites into the back of his neck.
The Laughting Hand by GalacticJonah

Fan art of The Laughing Hand, by GalacticJonah.[art 2]

Beau and Caleb now join the fray, when Beau rushes forward and gives Obann a roundhouse kick in the face with Stunning Strike and a short fist into the jaw, again with Stunning Strike. She follows this with a quick attack against the Laughing Hand but with little effect. Caleb casts Cat's Ire against Obann which brings him to the ground. Caduceus casts Holy Weapon on Beau.

The Laughing Hand attacks the barlgura with his blade arm. As this happens, Fjord attacks Obann using his falchion and causing decent damage. Yasha takes the opportunity to attack The Laughing Hand as he is trading blows with the barlgura. She manages to resist the whispering voices that are filling her head and lashes out with her sword. She is then forced to retreat back slightly, narrowly avoiding a strike by The Laughing Hand. Whilst he is distracted by Yasha, the barlgura grabs him, lifts him high and slams him to the ground. Fjord darts in close and slashes the Laughing Hand, causing more damage. The party notices now that every wound The Laughing Hand incurs changes into a mouth that starts laughing maniacally, meaning that members of the Mighty Nein require wisdom saving throws during every round.

Beau attacks Obann and manages to grievously wound him due to her being imbued with Holy Weapon. Nott fires twice at Obann, but he is able to dodge one and blocks the other with a Shield spell which Caleb Widogast cancels with Counterspell. The bolt hits, causing severe damage to Obann, who flies up and away but cannot avoid a strike by Fjord that kills him. With his dying breath, Obann looks at Yasha and murmurs, "Avenge me." This causes Yasha to make a wisdom save, which she fails. She feels a burning sharp pain in the back of her neck at the base of her skull, and old, forgotten anger wells up within her.

The Laughing Hand attacks the barlgura and disintegrates it. The laughter is getting louder and louder and the party realizes once again that they cannot beat the Laughing Hand and that they need to retreat. Fjord uses the Misty Step feature of the Summer's Dance falchion to Yasha and casts Thunder Step to take them both out of the room, but Yasha is not a "willing creature" and remains behind. The thunder damage hits Yasha and takes out one of the shadow hounds. Fjord is confused as to why Yasha isn't with him outside the chamber.

Yasha turns on Nott, wounding her, which Jester sees and tells her they don't have time for her to be controlled. She tries Charm Person on Yasha, but it fails. Nott takes a flower from her hair and hands it to Yasha, then runs for the exit. Caleb uses Polymorph to turn into a giant ape. The remaining hound attacks Caduceus, severely wounding him. Fjord, safe outside, decides to re-enter the room and kills the hound on Caduceus. Giant-ape-Caleb scoops up the horribly wounded Caduceus and runs with him toward the door.

Beau pulls the dagger out of the doors, and they begin swinging shut. Caduceus jumps out of giant-ape-Caleb's hands and runs out the door. Jester double-dashes out the door, and Yasha's attack of opportunity lands on her last remaining duplicate instead of her. Nott also successfully dashes through the closing doors and out. But Fjord is now grappled and afraid, and attacked not only by their enemies, but also by Yasha. She brings him to zero hit points, and he uses his half-orc relentless endurance to bring himself back to consciousness, look at her, and say, "Why?" Yasha looks at him intently, a burning grin on her face, and says almost disembodied, "I heard you."

Beau puts the dagger back in the door to start it re-opening, while Caleb drops the gorilla form and casts Wall of Fire, trying to get between Fjord and The Laughing Hand. Beau runs in, rips Fjord out of the Hand's grapple and pulls him toward the door, and he runs the rest of the way out. Yasha attacks Beau, who then squeezes her way out of the closing doors to safety. With the entire party, save Yasha, outside the chamber, Jester tries to use the whip to bring Yasha to join them, but fails, and as the doors close she reaches toward Yasha, sobbing.

Escape To The SurfaceEdit

As the stone door in the Angel room closes behind them, the Mighty Nein are distraught that Yasha has turned with Jester being particularly affected. They then hear heavy footsteps and a loud hammering as The Laughing Hand tries to beat the door down so he can escape his prison.

The remaining members of the Mighty Nein dash across the bridge spanning the whispering chasm as fast as they can, narrowly avoiding the effects of the voices. They kill the mist creature guarding the spiral staircase leading upward, dash back through the spiderling chamber, and into the dusty mid-afternoon of the base of the Ashkeepers at the edge of the Barbed Fields. Jester removes the crest, closing the outermost door once more.

Broken and bereft, they talk about what has happened and what they should do next. For now, they agree that they need to tell the Bright Queen what has happened, because this is bigger than them. Fjord is focused on the possibility of being jailed and shocked that when he looked into Yasha's eyes, she was someone he didn't know at all. Jester is more forgiving, thinking that Yasha has been mind-controlled. Caleb sees the end of his plans to use their in with the Bright Queen for political purposes, while Caduceus just wants to get out and let everyone know what has happened. Beau is more pragmatic, saying that they knew what they were getting into and couldn't have changed Yasha's mind.

Caduceus suddenly realizes that they have to go to the Kiln, the place he's seen in his visions/dreams from the Wildmother, located somewhere in the north of the Greying Wildlands in the Flotket Alps. The party decides to head back to Bazzoxan for now and decide what to do in the morning.

Meanwhile, Yasha remains in the chamber with the Laughing Hand, as with her help he breaks through the barriers to the surface. She sees flashes of memories of Obann pulling her from the depths and perhaps giving her the power to avenge those who took her love from her, love and conversations with other zealots, murder, bloodshed, and carnage, drawn to his yellow eyes and comforting voice. She is unsure if she has control of herself, or not, and before leaving the chamber she gathers the ichor which once was Obann, feeling the remaining faint thrum from it. She's scared. That's the end of this chapter for Yasha.

Featured Characters Edit

The Mighty Nein Edit

New Edit

Returning Edit

Mentioned Edit

Inventory Edit

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Transferred 1 Whip Caleb Jester Inescapable Lash: whip with 20 foot reach that can grapple or restrain a target. Alternatively it can be used to pull target to wielder or vice versa.[8]
Acquired 1 Dagger Angel Statue Nott

Trivia Edit

Quotations Edit

  • Nott: I'm just scared. That's all. I'm scared of-- I'm scared of what happens next. You know? I don't know what's going to happen after this. I found my husband. I found my son. I want to go back with them so much. But I'm worried that if I go back, that'll be it.[10]
  • Nott: (taking the first swig from her newly recovered flask) It's 11:30 somewhere!
  • Caleb: I was a good debater in school, but...
    Yasha: A master debater?
    Caleb: Some would say so.[11]
  • Matt: (rolling for Obann to resist Caleb's Suggestion spell) "No joke. Double natural 20s."
    Matt gestures for Travis to look at his dice.
    Travis: "Yep. Confirmed. Wow."[12]
  • Matt: (describing Obann's true form) "You watch as his form begins to slightly shift. The drow dropping away- leaving behind red skin, yellow eyes, horns that curl up across the head, and a pair of red leathery wings that lie folded across the back."[13]
  • Matt: (at Obann's death) As he arcs through the air, kind of floating down, he glances over towards Yasha as he's falling and says, "Avenge me."
    Yasha: Never. ...
    Matt: (after she rolls a 2 wisdom save) You feel a burning, sharp pain in the back of your neck, right at the base of the skull. And this old forgotten anger wells up within you.
  • Matt: Through this experience, the minute that burning sensation seared into the back of your neck, it was weirdly familiar. You began to feel the rush of memories, of being found broken in the wastes. This red-skinned savior pulled you from the depths, and showed you an angel like yourself that could give the power you need to maybe forgive yourself, or perhaps one day avenge those that took your love from you. And you just see flashes, flashes of laughter and conversations with this Obann and others, a traveling troupe of zealots wandering these plains. Flashes of you, brothers in arms, flashes of you hunting those who wander too far from their village. Flashes of the bloodshed and carnage you caused, uncertain if it was within you this whole time, or was it this same burning? You don't know. You just know you kept being drawn to his yellow eyes and his comforting voice. Who knows how long? You see yourself receded into your consciousness looking through a tiny window. Your body, not your own, frozen in motion, watching your friends scream and flee. You see the hulking, mammoth Laughing Hand, an entity you had heard the name once or twice in the past, but had long forgotten, blacked out like all these memories. You see it slam and slam and slam into these barriers. You help. The two of you together watch as the first barrier begins to crack and break, and then shatter over time. Another period passes, but the strength of you two silently smash through the next barrier, which you shouldn't be able to do. But this entity is far older and of a different make than anything you've encountered before. You're scared. But you have no control... Or do you? That thought scares you. Before the behemoth lumbers off, slowly clawing both of you away to freedom once more, you step back into the chamber, and gather in your hands the remaining ichor that once was Obann. In it, you can still feel the very faint thrum or beat. Holding it in your hand, you turn and follow your new lumbering friend. Or at least the body does. Or is it you? You're scared.

Link to Episode TranscriptEdit

References Edit

  1. Definition of fane.
  2. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) from 0:59:18 through 1:05:06.  Obann's monologue
  3. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) from 58:34 through 1:02:43.
  4. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) from 1:02:51 through 1:05:32.
  5. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) from 1:12:09 through 1:27:30.
  6. See "Talks Machina #117: 'Reflections'" (TMx117).  See VOD
  7. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) at 1:13:10Barlgura
  8. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) at 0:30:27.  Description of the whip's effects.
  9. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) at 3:48:15.
  10. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) at 0:23:02.
  11. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) at 0:29:40.
  12. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) from 1:02:34 through 1:02:43.
  13. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) at 1:03:12.

Art:

  1. Fan art of the release of the Laughing Hand, by BlackSalander (source).  Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of The Laughing Hand, by GalacticJonah (source).  Used with permission.


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