Critical Role Recap: Episode 14
Previously, on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein encountered one of the Xhorhasian dark elves that attacked the Zauberspire. He was carrying a magical item vital to the survival of his people, a glowing polyhedron the size of a football which he called a Beacon. The Mighty Nein defeated him in combat and he described that the beacon allowed him and his people to be reborn, maintaining their memories through new bodies until they could become perfect beings. They decided to let the dark elf escape with his life, but he was quickly captured and killed by the Crownsguard. The Mighty Nein changed plans almost immediately, tricking the Crownsguard into relinquishing the Beacon, which they hastily secured in a lead-lined box they acquired from Pumat Sol.
Later, they found a safe place for Horace Thrym, one of the Knights of Requital, to lay low until they could find a way to smuggle him out of Zadash. They then descended into the secret passage beneath the Evening Nip tavern in search of a person named “The Gentleman,” who they had been seeking since before they arrived in Zadash. In the stone passages beneath the Evening Nip was another tavern filled with rowdy, criminal patrons. But before the party could get past the door, a black-furred female tabaxi rose and ran to embrace Molly.
“Lucien!” she cried. The party exchanged a look, and Molly looked the most confused of all.
Mollymauk wasn’t who he said he was… or was he? Our purple friend was revealed to be Lucien, a tiefling who had perished two years ago! In private, he revealed to his friends that he had awoken, buried in a casket, two years ago with no memories. His new identity of Mollymauk Tealeaf was a total fabrication… but it had become his identity nonetheless. Lucien was a dead name to him. He wanted nothing to do with that life.
The Mighty Nein also struck a deal with a sly water genasi mobster known as “The Gentleman.” In exchange for calling off the hunt for the murderers of the High Richter, he wanted them to perform a task: slip into an abandoned research facility beneath Zadash, clear it of monsters, and return to him with anything they found. The task seemed simple enough, and they accepted. They set off down an underground river towards the facility, prepared for anything.
Laura Bailey couldn’t make it to this episode, as she was sick with convention plague, but Ashley Johnson had returned!
A black-furred female tabaxi held Mollymauk Tealeaf in an embrace. The party looked on in confusion. A look of abject terror flashed across Molly’s face before he slipped into his usual silver-tongued demeanor. He played along with the tabaxi as well as he could until he could get away. He got close to Fjord and whispered, “I’m sorry, this is my nightmare. [My name’s] Lucien. Just play along.”
Fjord was skeptical, and asked if the name carried any extra trouble with it. Molly insisted that he would explain later, and ventured into the bar, following the tabaxi. While passing through the taproom, they bumped into Yasha! Ashley Johnson was back in LA for at least six weeks, and Yasha would be there the whole time.
The tabaxi turned back to Molly. “We watched you die,” she said.
“That’s a story for another day. What did you see?” Molly—or was it Lucien?—replied. The tabaxi, who had introduced herself as Kree, recalled the last time she saw him and said slowly, deliberately, that she had buried him. Their conversation was deliberately vague, but she stated that Lucien had acquired the tome with the ritual he needed to “reach the city.” The lady he had brought with him, the “spellslinger from the capital” performed the ritual for him…and apparently the ritual killed him. Whatever it was supposed to do, it didn’t translocate him and he wasn’t breathing. He soon went cold, and the book he had acquired was now lost.
Molly stated that someone was working against him. He said that he believed it could have been anyone… not Kree, but maybe another of their number. He coyly suggested to her that perhaps what she had seen wasn’t the entire truth.
Two years had passed since Lucien’s death, and Kree and her fellows had moved on. Now, they were part of the Gentleman’s troupe, and she offered to introduce the Mighty Nein to him. They gladly accepted and walked towards a corner of the bar. They saw a muscular female goliath staring at them. She had a shaved head, save for a mohawk-style ponytail. A crazed gnome with a huge mound of hair on his head and a chinstrap beard leered at the party, a manic grin on his face. Resting his boots on a table before them was a man with light teal skin and shiny black hair, draped in a long, cerulean cloak. He looked at them with a curious, cocky grin.
The Mighty Nein couldn’t help but notice the riflemen positioned around the room train their weapons on them as they approached. The suave criminal before them greeted them cordially—he was indeed the Gentleman. He also seemed to be perpetually perspiring, as a thin layer of moisture perpetually dripped down his face. This fact, combined with his teal skin, suggested that he was a water genasi, a person whose blood was tinged with the power of the Elemental Plane of Water.
He gave the Mighty Nein a wide smile and said that, while he knew they were renowned adventurers, he needed to make sure he could trust them. The Gentleman demanded a small vile of their blood—supposedly in order to track them if they dipped out on his operation. The entire party reluctantly agreed to give him a vial of their blood, which Kree deftly drew from their veins.
With that formality out of the way, the ever-chipper Gentleman asked if they “felt lucky.” He suggested that they gamble, just to see how lucky his new friends were. His gnomish associate, the manic Dweez, broke out a deck of cards and began to shuffle. Fjord took him up on his offer, and they agreed to play a round of Gambit of Ord, a Marquesian card game.
“Fifty gold buy-in,” the Gentleman said. “If I win, you’re mine. But if you win… then we can do business.”
They drew their cards in secret, one by one, raising the wager until they ended with a pot of 600 gold on the table. Fjord and the Gentleman revealed their hands—and Fjord won with a hand of 15 to the Gentleman’s hand of 10! The two gamblers shared a laugh.
“Well played, and well earned,” the Gentleman said, beaming. “Take the coin, it’s yours! Glad to hear that you have luck on your said as well.” He was impressed by Fjord’s daring, offering that much gold. With the Mighty Nein now on his side, the Gentleman offered to make the investigation of the High Richter’s murder disappear… if they did him a favor.
A Gentleman’s Agreement
A short while ago, the Gentleman had sent a few of his agents to an abandoned research facility about a mile out of the city. The facility was underground, past “the Underworks,” beneath Zadash. These agents, however, were beset by spectral spheres of light while in the abandoned facility. One was struck by a bolt of lightning from these creatures, and the team was so spooked that they not only failed to retrieve what they were sent to retrieve, but they also collapsed the entrance to the research lab. The Gentleman asked the Nein to find another way into the facility, clear it of any dangers, and return to him with their findings. If they did that for him, he promised to do away with the investigation, smuggle their friend Horace Thrym out of the city, and even let them keep some of the spoils from the endeavor.
The Mighty Nein agreed to the bargain. Nott, in keeping with her character, tried to press her luck. He had commanded them to pass a test, so she boldly asked him to pass a trial of hers! The Gentleman was taken aback, but accepted with a sly grin. Nott promised to fill three of Kree’s vials; two with alcohol and one with acid. She presented the three vials to the Gentleman, pointed out the vial of acid, and switched them around like a hat trick. Then, he had to guess… and take a drink.
The Gentleman pulled a power move. “This one’s alcohol,” he said, pointing to one vial. He pointed to another, “Alcohol. This one, however,” he grabbed the vial of acid, “Is acid.” And he drank deeply of it.
But the Gentleman was a water genasi, and they are resistant to the effects of acid. He winced in discomfort, as if he had just bitten into a lemon, but swallowed it without great harm. Nott was impressed, and the party backed out in order to plan their next move.
Molly’s friends continued to grill him about his alter ego of “Lucien,” but he swore to reveal things later, once they were out of the bar. They quickly left, escaping from the many prying eyes and ears of the Gentleman’s agents. (They had a quick chat with Yasha on the way out, and she revealed that she was from Xhorhas, just like the dark elf assassin! She quickly demurred, however, muttering that she was from the south of Xhorhas, and had no connection with the dark elves.)
The Empty Coffin
The party then left the Evening Nip and returned to the Leaky Tap. They found Horace in his room and told him of what they had arranged with the Gentleman. Horace trusted them. He’d do anything to get out of this city.
Back at the inn, Molly started to explain his story, and why Kree had called him Lucien. He couldn’t afford to keep this story secret any longer. If he did, it could put him and his companions in serious danger. Two years ago, Molly awoke with amnesia, in a coffin, underground. It took him days to even regain the ability speak, and even then all he could say was “Empty…”
(Funnily enough, his initials fit his first words. Empty, or M.T., for Mollymauk Tealeaf. Kudos to @carolinethegeek for pointing this out to me.)
Jester (acting through Laura texting Liam from home) cast zone of truth to ensure Molly’s veracity. Molly failed his saving throw with a roll of 4—indeed, most of the party did. Beau and Fjord were the only two who succeeded.
Molly continued his story. Until just a few hours ago, he had never heard the name Lucien before. Whoever that person was, he meant nothing to him. “Let me make one thing clear,” the purple tiefling said. “My name is Molly. That person [Lucien] is not me.”
Beau offered to search for the tome that Lucien lost, but Molly rebuffed her instantly. “I don’t want it. I don’t want anything to do with him.”
Molly also revealed to the party that his swords—the blades he had hyped up so incredibly at their first meeting—were nothing special. The prayers he said over his swords every night, however, were real. He prayed to the Moonweaver, the chaotic good elven goddess of trickery, love, and illusions (see the Tal’Dorei Campaign Guide for more information on the Moonweaver). He also pointed out three red marks on his body: the eye of the peacock, the eye on the snake, and the eye on the flowers. He bled from the points where he bled when he used his blood hunter powers. Those weren’t tattoos.
Jester asked many silly questions under the auspices of zone of truth, but she did ask solemnly ask Molly one thing. “Could you really read fortunes?”
Molly paused for a moment before he replied. “I use fortunes to tell people what I see in them. But sometimes… sometimes there’s something that tickles the back of my head a little bit. Some days.”
Dungeon Delving Preparations
That night and the next morning, the Mighty Nein took care of some administrative business before the dungeon delve. For instance, Fjord distributed the money they earned last episode among the party. He also attuned to his new blade and made it his new pact weapon. Caleb and Yasha went to visit Pumat Sol again, and Fjord purchased a cloak of protection while there. Molly bought some holy water, and Yasha got a pair of health potions, even convincing Pumat to give her a discount.
The next day, team got Beau some darts to use as a weapon, Caleb very awkwardly and ineffectually tried to play matchmaker between Beau and Yasha, and brought Horace Thrym to the Evening Nip so that the Gentleman could smuggle him out of town as they investigated the underground facility. The Gentleman decided that Horace was to be literally sent down the river, towards the town of Beeleben just north of Zadash.
With the matter of Horace settled, the party was forced to put blindfolds on and travel in secrecy with the criminals. Immediately after placing a blindfold on, Caleb transferred his own sight to Frumpkin—as one can do with a familiar conjured by find familiar. Dweez, the manic gnome, grabbed Frumpkin, but Caleb acted fast and snapped his fingers to make the cat disappear. About 500 feet later, Caleb subtly brought Frumpkin back.
After traveling through the dark for some ways, the party reached a dock by a cold, underground river. A few lanterns were set up along its bank, burning with a greenish glow. The group had their blindfolds removed and clambered into two boats floating in the river. They began to float down the river, weapons readied, prepared for whatever challenges they would face… next week, on Critical Role.
Critical Role will return on April 19th, 2018. What dangers will the Mighty Nein face within the facility beneath Zadash? What does the Gentleman want so desperately inside it? Why do evil will-o’-wisps haunt its empty halls? And most importantly… is it Thursday yet?
Photos in this article are courtesy of Geek & Sundry.
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of the Critical Role Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, and a freelance writer for Wizards of the Coast, the D&D Adventurers League, and Kobold Press. He loves watching Critical Role and wants everyone he knows to get into it, too. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his very own Frumpkins, Mei and Marzipan. You can usually find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.