Critical Role Recap: Episode 22
Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein traveled to the Barrelben in the Labenda Swamp. There they saved and befriended Kiri, a young kenku who had lost her parents and siblings. They also met Calianna, a half-elf dragon sorcerer who joined their search for the Gentleman’s abandoned storehouse. The demon-twisted merfolk—merrow—who had invaded the flooded safe house were no match for them, and they recovered and destroyed the evil artifact Calianna was searching for. The Nein and Cali parted ways but promised to write and stay in touch. The Nein then began to plan their next move…
In this episode, the heroes cleared out the depths of the sunken safe house, fighting through waves of merrow warriors and druids. Within their treasure hoard, they found a cache of over one hundred holy symbols of banned gods within the empire—including two of the Traveler! Molly found an enchanted scimitar, and Fjord found a golden orb that was somehow connected to his patron, and somehow enhanced his weapon after he took it into his body.
Art by Caio Santos (@BlackSalander)
The Mighty Nein climbed up the rope ladder and made their way into the tree overlooking the safe house and set a watch. If there were more merrow in the flooded complex, they would have some warning before they made their way out. That night, Jester taught Kiri some phrases to repeat when strangers asked her questions. To introduce herself: “I am Kiri.” To describe herself: “I’m very sweet.” When someone says something mean to her: “Go fuck yourself!”
Beau asked Fjord for help apologizing to Caleb. She thought she did wrong by Caleb the other day with the bowl incident—something entire internet got mad at her about, justified or not. She decided she would do it later. In the middle of the night, Caleb’s alarm spell awoke him, and he awoke the rest of the party. He sent Frumpkin down into the depths to scout out, and found that another merrow had emerged into the chamber and saw its comrades’ corpses. He dismissed Frumpkin as the merrow caught sight of it.
The party prepared for attack, and fired upon the creature as it emerged from the depths. The darkness made it difficult to hit their foe, but some still managed to strike it with a fusillade of magic. Caleb resummoned Frumpkin and the cat descended deeper into the darkness, searching for more creatures. Nothing down there! They took a long rest.
Last Attack on the Merrow
That morning, Caleb asked Yasha for a shave—which she gave, with her greatsword, of all things. They then prepared to go back down into the sunken safehouse. They needed to go underwater to hunt down the last of the merrow, so that they could fulfil their promise to the Gentleman of killing all enemies within the safehouse. They plunged into the water and emerged in an underground grotto. This eerie cave was filled with mist.
This fight took up most of the episode, and the party fought long and hard, and Jester used a 3rd-level prayer of healing to heal (on a roll of 3d8, a 1, a 1, and a 2) a total of 8 hit points to all her allies. The party came back up and found Kiri, who they had left behind for her safety.
Within a rock formation that mist was emanating from, Fjord found dozens of holy sigils for gods outlawed within the Dwendalian Empire. Some benign, such as Kord the Stormlord, but others like Tiamat the Scaled Tyrant and Bane the Strife Emperor. There are well over 100 holy symbols and icons within this box, ranging from rich to very poor. Jester searched the box and found two holy symbols of the Traveler, both of different make (one of pure silver and another of burnished bronze). The symbol depicted a door with a winding path emerging from it.
Beau searched the room and learned that there are many exits to this room, all through the various pools of water around the chamber.
New Arms and New Memories
Nott used her Ranged Legerdemain to unlock a larger box—and activated a trap from range! A blade shot from the box across the room, where it clattered into a rock in the distance. Within was a golden scimitar—the blade seemed powerful and light, despite gold’s inefficiency in combat. Its hilt was inlaid with jewels. Caleb cast identify upon the golden sword and learned that was called Summer’s Dance, and it allows its wielder to leap from place to place magically—presumably using an effect similar to misty step. Fjord touched a yellow stone found in the box. His vision went black and he found himself transported to another place… in another person’s body.
He stood above the corpse of the stone’s last owner, blood pooling out of that person’s chest. He saw a vision of his patron, and his strange new form held a falchion. POTENTIAL, the patron boomed. CONSUME. REWARD. While in this fugue state, the rest of the party saw him take the stone and plunge it into his chest, which his body instantly absorbed. He awoke to his friends grabbing him and trying to shake him out of his trance.
Fjord told them, still dazed, that he saw someone: a man who was very dear to him. “Do you ever have that dream,” he asked, “Where you look into the water and you see someone else looking back at you like you’re someone else?”
“Yes!” Molly said, without missing a beat. Nott also said yes, but then giggled and started shaking her head “no.”
The man he saw dead was a mentor of his, a captain. His name was Vandren, and Fjord was surprised to see him again. He captained a ship that Fjord worked on for many years—before an incident. Fjord believes that ship sank. An explosion rocked the ship in the midst of a terrible storm. Fjord was knocked overboard and he lost track of the vessel.
“Maybe he’s alive and you were seeing through his eyes right now!” Jester said, optimistically.
“I would like that very much. He was kind to me, and a lot of people in my life were not,” Fjord replied, a look of hope in his eyes. “He was almost like a father to me, and I never saw him ever holding anything like this.”
Beau noted that this stone was found among holy symbols for deities that were illegal among the Dwendalian Empire. Caleb cast dancing lights and scoured the room for anything else they might have missed. Molly shoved Fjord underwater to see if anything had changed, and Fjord started drowning! He desperately flailed about and his friends pulled him out.
Collapsing the Tunnels
With nothing else to find in the tunnels, Nott and Molly decided to use some of the explosives they found and collapse the tunnel. The left and heard a dull explosion from below ground, and they saw the swamp waters lower by a full 10 feet.
Beau apologized to Caleb like she promised to earlier. Caleb paused, stared blankly, and then gave her a hug. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” he whispered. “Just. Go with it.” An awkward hug ensued.
Their first task for the Gentleman completed, they returned to Barrelben, bloody, bruised, and victorious. Along the journey through the swamp, Fjord glanced down at his blade and saw that a yellow eye, just like the stone he consumed, was now gleaming upon the hilt of his blade.
The Mighty Nein have fulfilled their first arrangement with the Gentleman! Now, they are returning to Barrelben to recuperate, but they will soon be on the road again. Their next quest for the Gentleman will take them north, beyond the borders of the Dwendalian Empire. Is it Thursday yet?
Unless otherwise credited, all 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 partner Hannah and his very own Frumpkins, Mei and Marzipan. You can usually find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.