"The Ruined Sliver" (2x104) is the one hundred fourth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. Seeking answers, the Mighty Nein continue to delve into forbidden areas of Rumblecusp in order to learn more about their powerful foe...
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Previously on Critical Role
So, last we left off, the Mighty Nein, upon arriving at Rumblecusp in hopes of setting up TravelerCon in the next week or so... You’ve met some individuals. You’ve discovered that the people that already exist here on the island have lost their memories, it seems, and have come to enjoy a rather simple life here in the village of Vo in the shadow of some sort of a fire god known as Vokodo. You, with the help of one of their druidic spiritual leaders, traveled to meet with this Vokodo, and seemed to have suspicions that it’s not a god but some sort of malicious entity that is itself affecting and controlling this island, robbing memories and requiring those that live here to bring all their goods and precious things as gifts, to mine from the island and gift everything to this entity.
You managed to make your way out after making some offerings to it, and through the use of a Greater Restoration spell return the memories of the druid leader that you had traveling with you, discovering that they were named Vilya, apparently from another continent known as Tal'Dorei. You then, together as a team, transformed some of you into birds and began to fly across the island for faster and mostly safer travel, making your way towards the eastern side where the Heavens Falls exist. A little bit of a bumpy landing but nevertheless you found yourselves searching the exterior of these falls and coming to a night’s rest. The next morning some of you did begin to lose your memory, but after cleansing these with spells, you began to inspect the falls. Some pearls were found, some accidents were had, but after briefly separating the falls themselves and discovering the illusion behind it, you found a cavern which held numerous, numerous boats and ships from all different ages there, crowded and left in the shadows.
As you began to inspect the interior of this cavern, Fjord, you noticed the entrance to a torchbloom-covered subterranean water tunnel. Caduceus, you went to inspect it, and found yourself suddenly affected by some sort of strange compulsion to find out what’s at the end of these tunnels. You began swimming feverishly into it. Fjord, you attempted to stop him through multiple grapples and spells thrown. You were left blinded and kicked backward, as Caduceus thus has vanished from your grasp, eyes left to darkness, as you swam to the surface and shouted for aid. The rest of you guys, hearing this, gather towards Fjord to discover how best to deal with the recently vanished Caduceus. And that is where we left off.
Fjord hurriedly explains that Caduceus is being compelled to swim toward Vokodo. With Caduceus getting further away with each moment, Caleb casts Expeditious Retreat on himself and swims down toward the tunnel in pursuit, while Jester casts Freedom of Movement on Beau, giving her no penalty for water movement and a total potential speed of 150. Both Caleb and Beau feel Vokodo's wave of influence but are able to resist it.
Beau manages to discern which way Caduceus went and catches up to him quickly as Caleb trails behind. She immediately hits Caduceus but fails in her attempt to use Stunning Strike on him. She hits him again, and this time, succeeds, and begins dragging him back out of the torchbloom-lined tunnel and within sight of Caleb, who casts Cat's Ire and uses the cat's claw to drag Caduceus just to the tunnel entrance. Beauregard swims after Caduceus and punches and stuns him again, and Caleb uses the claw to drag Caduceus out of the tunnel and up to the surface. When Caduceus recovers from his stun, the compulsion to join Vokodo has passed.
The party all gathers on the deck of the nearest ship, a fishing vessel called the Fiona, and take a short rest to somewhat recover. They discuss what to do next. Jester proposes having a Heroes' Feast, but they decide to postpone that until evening when they're sure they will be confronting Vokodo within twenty-four hours. They decide to explore a few of the ships surrounding them, finding that they have all been stripped of anything remotely of value. The largest ship, the Eden's Horizon, contains ballistas which excite Veth. It looks as though it was a shipping vessel and is sixty to a hundred years old, but in good condition. They decide they'd like to take it with them when they leave the island, and Veth suggests they could rearrange the letters of its name to rename it the Nein Heroz (with a "D" left over).
While they rest, Caduceus decides to try Divine Intervention again. To everyone's massive surprise, it succeeds, and the Wildmother sends him a vision of Vokodo, fleeing through its home in the Astral Sea in a desperate attempt to escape from something. As it crashes through the planar boundary, it drags shards of other places with it, and lands on the island at the base of the volcano. The volcano changes it, and Vokodo in turn changes the surrounding island.
Caduceus shares this knowledge with the group, and they discuss what it might mean and how they could use the knowledge. When their short rest ends, Caduceus has lost his cooking pan. They decide to explore the Ruins before facing Vokodo, since that location is forbidden to the villagers and therefore may contain an item or knowledge useful in defeating the creature.
After much discussion about the merits of using the waterspout at the entrance to shoot them into the air as giant birds, Jester regretfully decides to play it safe and uses Control Water to part the geyser. They all make it out of the cavern safely. Vilya, Caleb, and Jester transform into giant owls and after a three-way game of roshambo to determine who goes first, Vilya seizes Fjord, Caleb takes Beau and Yasha, and Jester has Veth climb on her back while gently cradling Caduceus in a cupped claw as they fly toward the Ruins.
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The giant owls continue their flight, stopping once to re-cast. Beneath them is a darkened crevasse which Vilya later identifies as the Winding Core from which the villagers mine treasures for Vokodo. In the distance is a region where the jungle has died away into gray, rock-filled emptiness - the location of the Ruins. Their spells run out about three miles away and they proceed on foot, landing where the jungle is still green. As they proceed, it gradually withers and dies.
Jester uses her Charm of Plant Command to talk to a tree, but it knows little about the cause of the blight other than it's been there at least the better part of half a century. She wants to try to move the tree away from the affected zone, but Nott and Fjord talk her out of it.
They stealth forward, encountering gnarled, withering tree-like clicking creatures that register as undead to Caduceus's Eyes of the Grave, but are able to stealth past and evade them. Eventually, they reach the Ruins themselves, which resemble the Ghostlands surrounding Rosohna in architecture. In the center is a large portion of a tower that appears to have been sheered off cleanly at an angle. They begin to hear whispers in Infernal, saying "Your warmth is ours," "Oracs demands our return," and "Broken and taken. Displaced, we suffer." In the swirling fog, faces appear and then are gone.
Darkened, billowing, black clouds of lightless mist begin to unfold and roll out tendril-like as a humanoid form, its shoulders coming to hooked points with tattered bits of shroud and black sackcloth hanging from the edges of its wrists, rises from it. A blade dangles from one hand and a skeletal face folds up from the inside of it. It is joined by four other, smaller, ghostly forms. In Infernal, Jester says, "Let us get you home," and it replies, "How?"
As initiative begins, the party continues to debate whether to attack or try to continue to negotiate, but Beau is up first and punches the shadow creature multiple times, commenting that in their prior encounter with the bodak, she had tried to empathize and nearly died. At the end of her turn, she tells it, "Fuck Vokodo, am I right?" but the only response is a roar. The rest of the party attack as well. Nott manages to misfire on her crossbow with additional damage caused by Brenatto's Voltaic Bolt. Yasha and Caduceus are each possessed by the creatures diving inside their bodies, and attack the other party members, but Jester's Turn Undead forces the ghost creatures to be shunted out and all but one retreat. Afraid that he might be possessed at some point, Caleb casts Disintegrate on the shadow creature so that the spell will not be available to a possessing entity. The encircling voices continue to whisper, "Left here. Hungry. Never returning. Taken."
The remaining ghostly creature disappears when hit with Jester's Guiding Bolt, and Fjord's Divine Smite ends the fight with the larger shadow figure. The other ghosts flee, and the whispers have stopped. Vilya comments that she would have asked the creatures if they had reason to fight with them against Vokodo before starting combat with them. They explore the tower, finding five stone sarcophagi which contain the skeletal bodies of what were apparently the creatures they just fought. The largest is engraved, "Lord Cioro." Beau's passive investigation reveals that the shard containing the Ruins and its ghostly creatures was dragged through when Vokodo crashed from the Astral Sea, that they were very angry about it, and that Vokodo warned people from the area because the creatures could be potential allies for Vokodo's enemies.
They begin hiking back toward Vokodo's lair and the Heaven Falls, talking along the way. They decide to go forward without attempting to recruit Terra from the Vo village. Although Vokodo would be much easier to defeat outside his lair, they can think of no way to lure him out. They discuss multiple possible plans, including using a Glyph of Warding, attacking from two directions, and another fluffernutter. Vilya shares that she believes that, while Vokodo always knows where they are, he cannot hear them because he did not know about goings on within the village. But after much discussion, they can reach no firm conclusions and have no plan for the coming battle.
- Beauregard Lionett
- Caduceus Clay
- Caleb Widogast
- Jester Lavorre
- Veth Brenatto/Nott the Brave
- Yasha Nydoorin
|Lost||1||Cooking pan/Wok||Caduceus||Presumably Vokodo||Disappeared after a short rest.|
- Matt: You suddenly see a silver gossamer sky, swirls of strange clouds and sparkles. A familiar space. You’ve been here before, briefly. You stepped into a creature’s mouth in a space like this, and here you sense something. You sense fear. You sense something fleeing, something desperately trying to escape. You sense whatever this Vokodo was, and is, but was, running, running from something. And as it crashes through the silver, it crashes through the boundaries. It crashes into this island, and the impact of it crashing drags shards of other places with it. You see as it lands at the base of this volcano. The volcano changes it, and it changes the island that houses this volcano. You don’t fully understand what this is, but you know it's not from here. It has origins somewhere in the Astral Sea, and it came here to hide. 
- Matt: (after the three-way roshambo) How have you all survived to Level 12?
- Caduceus: (after the tree cannot remember how many years it's been blighted) If you lost all your hair every year, I mean, you could probably keep count.
Beau: Yeah, exactly.
Caleb: Do you?
Caduceus: No, no, of course. I mean, I can keep count. Oh, I mean, to be fair, I didn't really keep count, now that I think about it. Would have helped. Yeah, no, you got me there.
- Veth: All I'm saying is, I bet if you talk to each of these trees, they would have their own tree story, their own tree past and their own tree family. 
- Sam's flask read, "Me trying to figure out what will be funny in the future", a nod to their pandemic shooting schedule recording two weeks prior to air.
- During the episode, when the party was talking about mistakes they've made in the past, Liam referenced Vax's killing of a nothic,, Caleb's horse kill, and Nott's offer to Isharnai to restart the war between the Dwendalian Empire and the Kryn Dynasty.
- This episode took place on the in-game date of 19 Unndilar 836.
- See "The Ruined Sliver" (2x104) at 36:19.
- See "The Ruined Sliver" (2x104) at 1:10:40.
- See "The Ruined Sliver" (2x104) at 1:46:00.
- See "The Ruined Sliver" (2x104) at 1:47:12.
- See "The Climb Within" (1x110) from 2:19:36 through 2:25:41.
- See "Intervention" (2x63) at 2:41:38.
- See "Misery Loves Company" (2x93) at 3:17:01.
- Fan art of Caduceus blinding Fjord, by Aurex Aldori (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Caduceus's Divine Intervention, by Fael Draws (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the giant owls, by @hierothraxs (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the undead trees, by MadCookiefighter (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the creatures in the Ruins, by Cyarna Trim (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Jester casting Turn Undead, by @porzio art (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Fjord's Divine Smite, by @ambikyu (source). Used with permission.