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What was the name of that druid?
– 
Vax

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins #1 is the first issue of Vox Machina Origins Series I and the first entry in the overall Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins series. It was written by Matthew Mercer and Matthew Colville and the art was done by Olivia Samson.

The plot follows twin half-elves Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia, who had been hired to investigate what they believe to be a curse that has befallen the waters of the swamp town of Stilben. Along the way, they meet the young druid Keyleth, who offers her insight on the matter, but a later ambush in an alleyway proves that more is at work than meets the eye.

Publisher's summary[]

Roguish twins Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia investigate a curse afflicting the impoverished citizens of the port city of Stilben. Things are not what they seem for the adventurous siblings…between fighting shark-riding fish men and black-clad assassins, they meet an antlered half-elven druid with her own theory about the curse.[1]

Synopsis[]

A young human mother, carrying her baby, is accompanied by an elderly human woman and another human man as they walk through the swampland surrounding Stilben. The mother shows the others that her baby is still breathing, taking it to be a sign that its health will improve, but the older woman disagrees, thinking the baby to be cursed and the curse a punishment for the mother and her partner for "the way [they] live". Considering her too weak to do what she believes necessary to satisfy the "Lady of the Muck", the old woman rips the baby from the young woman's arms and tosses it into the lake while the mother, restrained by the man, cries out for her child. As two shark-speaker hands pull the baby under the water, the woman is dragged back to Stilben as the older woman notes that more babies die before the end of the night.

Vax and Vex step out from a nearby tree and discuss what they had just witnessed. Hired to investigate the source of this curse, Vax suggests they speak to that mother or other locals, but Vex dismisses both ideas, thinking the townsfolk would only give an ignorant answer such as demons, although Vax reminds her that they were raised by a peasant. Vex speculates that there is an entity that is likely profiting from the curse and kneels down to taste the water, finding it interesting that the swamp water is saltwater. She turns around to see her brother stuck, knee-deep in water, for which she scolds him. At that moment, Vax is pulled beneath the water, causing Vex to scream his name and fire and few arrows, prompting a shark to rise up, with Vax in its mouth and a shark-speaker on its back. The shark-speaker throws a spear at Vex, who dodges out of the way and shoots the shark dead through the eye. Both men are knocked down and the shark-speaker gets up and approaches Vex while pulling out a blade as Vax appears behind him and slits the shark-speaker's throat.

As Vax crumples to the ground, Vex rushes over, apologizing for being so "keen on the chase". While she tries to deduce what the shark-speaker has to do with the curse, Vax, bleeding and laying in his sister's lap, notices a squirrel nearby waving at him with him a rather intelligent look on its face, which Vex dismisses, mentioning the amount of blood he has lost. The squirrel magically transforms into Keyleth. Vex nocks an arrow and aims it at the druid, demanding to know who she is, and Keyleth nervously introduces herself and gawks at the body of the shark-speaker, noting that the people of Stilben believe the shark-speakers to be behind the curse and that all of their babies are stillborn. The druid notices Vax's wound from the shark and magically heals the apprehensive half-elf. After a stuttered thanks and a mention of their twinhood, Keyleth awkwardly asks if they can finish each other's sentences. The twins answer with an unenthused no, but Vex admits that she will occasionally finish an enemy off if they are not killed by Vax, which Vax finds sweet. Keyleth exclaims that they really are twins, to which Vax only stares at her, embarrassing the druid.

Vex explains that her brother has never seen another othlir, or "ill-born" in Elvish, which Keyleth finds shocking. Changing the subject, she excuses herself to test a theory that a "sorcerer friend" of hers had, that the people of Stilben were being poisoned. Testing this, she drinks a cupful of swamp water to test the taste, much to the disgust of the twins. Keyleth explains that, while it tastes bad and that the original dose of the poison in it must have been rather potent, the sample she tested was so diluted that it would only affect the young or the sick. Vex compliments her usefulness but explains that she and her brother have business back in town, thanking Keyleth and bidding her good luck. As the twins walk away, Keyleth cheerfully waves at them; Vax starts to give a wave back, but Vex slaps him upside the head.

The twins return to the home of the townsman who hired them and Vex asks who told him it was a curse, and the man names a "Zeth". Vex reveals that they believe that someone is poisoning the city and blaming the "fish-men". Figuring that getting to the bottom of this mystery is the only thing keeping him in Stilben after the death of his family, he offers to scrounge up some more coin, but Vax declines, promising that they are making progress. The twins step outside, where Vex asks how much they are being paid, having changed her mind after initially not wanting to be told. Vax reveals that they are only being paid thirteen gold, which a frustrated Vex labels nothing compared to her allowance at their school in Syngorn. She relents after Vax reminds her that they came from a privileged life under their father and they go to find this alchemist named "Zeth". Vex steps inside his shop, wherein Zeth welcomes her and offers to dye her suit, which Vex mentions she finds generous. Vex mentions that she is looking for something caustic. Zeth suggests lye, which Vex declines, needing something more potent. Zeth suggests aqua regia, but admits that there is none of such a substance out in Stilben due to the lack of demand. However, Zeth suggests that she ask around in taverns in the city. Vex thanks him and leaves.

Outside, Vex is frustrated at her charm being ineffective and supposes that she could have been subtler. They wait in a nearby alley to see what Zeth does, and Zeth indeed steps out and the twins follow him to the house of his supplier. In his contact's house, Zeth is spooked by the sudden arrival of Iselda. Iselda notes to Zeth that he was followed, which she takes as a sign that Zeth's plan is working. Zeth agrees, promising that, as the populace of Stilben is leaving, the town will be clear in a week. Zeth asks about the ones following him, but Iselda assures him that she will take care of everything and orders him to return to his business.

In a nearby alley, Vax and Vex observe Zeth leaving the house of his contact. Vex suggests that they leave, now that they have the house of Zeth's contact and "who knows what else". They pull their hoods up and proceed to calmly walk down the alley, as two assassins in red cloaks follow them from behind, and two aim bows at them from an adjacent rooftop. A knife is thrown at Vax's back and Vex is shot in the shoulder with an arrow, and the twins find themselves in a fight for their lives as two more rogues appear from the other side of the alley. Vax quickly throws a dagger in the face of the assassin that stabbed him. He dodges a swing by the second assassin, making the assassin lose his balance, allowing Vax to stab two daggers in his back. Meanwhile, Vex nocks an arrow and fires it upward, and fires another at the two assassins running toward them on the other side of the alley.

Vax rushes over to the remaining rogues on the ground, while Vex nocks and shoots an arrow at one of the rooftop assassins, hitting him through the eye and scaring the other assassin, wide-eyed, into fleeing as he watches his compatriot's body fall off the roof. Down on the ground, Vax slits the throat of the last assassin as Vex watches the body of the first rooftop assassin fall. Vex comments that she has suddenly found herself much less bored of this job, and Vax deduces that this attempt was a hit, instead of a warning. As Vex pulls the arrow out of her shoulder and wonders what they would have been warned off of, Vax states that they need to find out who the alchemist is working for. Vex asks if they should return to his shop, but Vax says no, since the shop will either be empty or full of assassins, with Zeth himself safe elsewhere until it was certain that the twins were taken care of. Other than that, they are unsure of where to go, and after a few seconds of silence, Vax asks Vex what the name of the druid they met earlier was.

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