Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein completed their task for the Gentleman. They agreed to aid his ally Ophelia Mardun, who personally wanted the Iron Shepherds—a group of local slavers—eliminated. The Shepherds captured Jester, Fjord, and Yasha, and killed Mollymauk, but the Mighty Nein gained new allies: Keg the dwarf fighter and Caduceus Clay the firbolg cleric. These allies helped them destroy Lorenzo, the Shepherds’ leader, and retrieve their captured friends.
The Mighty Nein journeyed with Ophelia Mardun from Shady Creek Run to Zadash. Along they way, they paused at Mollymauk's grave and paid their final respects. Upon returning to the city of Zadash within the Dwendalian Empire, they met up with the Gentleman and received compensation for their services. With their current jobs completed, the Mighty Nein had a little time to themselves to explore their own personal quests.
Flashing back to the recovery of Jester, Fjord, and Yasha, the former two allies were found to be conscious, while Yasha was deeply wounded and unconscious. Beau explained to Jester and Fjord what happened to Molly, and they grieved together. When their conversation was done, they stormed through the Sour Nest and took everything of value they could find—including a bag of holding and 101 platinum pieces, a shining red corundum gem, and a letter of partnership between Lorenzo and someone known as Avantika.
A Parting, but Not a Goodbye
With their search completed, they spent the night in the Sour Nest. Caleb perfected a new spell—tiny hut—and sequestered the entire party within its protective bubble. Including Keg! Caleb used identify to learn the abilities of some of the items they found, and their haul included an elemental gem filled with the power of fire! That night, Fjord consumed Mollymauk’s sword and took its power into his being.
Beau and Keg dipped out of the dome together that night. By morning, the party awoke and saw that the Savalier Wood was covered in a light dusting of snow. The doors of the keep were ajar and heavy, dwarven footprints were seen in the courtyard. Nott awoke and found a piece of paper near where she was sleeping. Its penmanship was terrible, and it read: “Nott, sorry for going before you woke up. Bad at goodbyes. Never really had friends before. Util was my only friend, but now you and I are friends. This “medallion” was from Utoh, it will protect you. From, Keg. P.S., if anyone hurts you, I will kill them.”
A holy symbol of some sort was contained within the letter.
Beau got a letter from Keg, too. “For Bo [sic], [all the bad poetry inside was scribbled out]. Thanks.”
Back on the Road
The Mighty Nein appropriated the Iron Shepherds’ cart. Some sort of magical enhancement had been placed upon it, giving it an illusory interior. Hidden within this cart, the party made their way deep into the wood, to the estate of Ophelia Mardun. They left their cart at the gate and strode into the mansion. They met with Ophelia, and she reminded them that part of the job included escorting her back to Zadash. They realized that they had forgotten that particular part of the contract, and reluctantly prepared to depart.
Ophelia gave them their alibi. She was to be called Lady Quinn Denzala of Nogvurot, and she was on a trip to see her ailing mother in Deastok, and the party were her personal guard. She traveled in her own carriage while the party’s cart traveled behind. They made their way through Shady Creek Run on the way out of town—and Jester spotted a pair of Xhorhasian dark elves in insectoid armor, doing some sort of discreet deal. They were interested in the elves’ actions, but they didn’t have the chance to stop, and continued inexorably onward towards the border of the empire. They passed through the Quannah Breach and soon found themselves back within the bounds of the Dwendalian Empire.
Along the road, the two “Empire Kids,” Beau and Caleb spent time talking in the back of their cart. Caleb probed into Beau’s personal history. He was worried that while she knew a lot about him, he didn’t know much about her. Beau stammered out a response, saying that she had told Nott most of this already. She didn’t intend to become a monk of the Cobalt Soul. She rebelled against her controlling father, and then ran away from the Cobalt Soul. She’s just here to raise hell in the empire and bring down the established order.
The snow fell gently throughout their journey. A moment came where everyone present in the cart felt their hair stand on end. They felt a terrible sinking feeling in their stomach as they rode along the Glory Run Road, and they found two mounds along the roadside. They asked Ophelia for permission to stop and pulled aside, where they found Mollymauk’s coat hanging exactly where they left it.
Beau took Jester by the hand and walked to the grave. Jester got down on her knees and muttered, “I think he’s still with us.”
“I think so too,” Beau replied.
“Thank you, Molly,” Jester said after a long pause. Beau handed Molly’s deck of cards to Jester and asked her to pick a card. Laura asked Taliesin what card she pulled.
“I think you pulled the Moon again,” Taliesin said.
“I pulled this the first time I met him,” Jester said to Beau with a wistful smile. “This is his card.”
Fjord hopped of the carriage and, staring at the coat, summoned his new sword; the one he had taken from Mollymauk and subsumed into his being. “I’ve met a lot of people,” he said. “But I don’t think I’ll meet another character as unique as you, Molly.”
Yasha awoke from within the cart and groggily stepped towards the party. “What’s going on?” she asked. Her friends told her what happened. Her vision blurred until all she could focus on was his coat. “It happened again,” she whispered. She plodded towards the grave and fell to her knees before it. Her shoulders shuddered as a growl grew within her. It grew louder and louder, and she rose to her feet, and a baleful roar burst from her being. Her skeletal wings burst from her back and two bolts of lightning crackled across the distant sky. Without thinking, she strode toward the storm.
“I’ll find you when I’m ready,” she said, dismissing her friends’ pleas for her to stay.
Caduceus reached his hand into the dirt and cast decompose (a custom cantrip Matthew and Taliesin developed togther), hoping it would find purchase on the body within the earth. With nothing left to do, the Mighty Nein pulled away from the grave and rode away on their cart, and watched Mollymauk’s coat disappear into the distance.
The Gates of Zadash, Again
And over eight days of travel later, they arrived once more at the gates of Zadash. It was midafternoon when they reached the gates. Ophelia gave the Crownsguard her papers and they were all let into the city without trouble. They followed her to the Evening Nip, ready for another meeting with the Gentleman.
Within the Evening Nip, the Gentleman and Ophelia made a sudden reunion; he spun her about and kissed her, and she bit down hard upon his lip, drawing blood. She and her “azure lover” vowed to deal with “business before pleasure,” and gave the Mighty Nein their reward. A chest of 6,250 gold pieces (in various coinage) awaited them. The Gentleman also slid 50 platinum pieces across the table. “For your loss,” he said. “And for your troubles.”
Fjord, Beau, and Caleb gathered for drinks and swore to remember Molly’s death (and life) for the rest of their lives. Fjord felt like he got distracted by the adventure of it all. There were things he wanted to do and people he wanted to find. Molly’s death reminded him that there were things to do. They all had things they needed to do. The letter that they found in the Iron Shepherds’ hideout was certainly an easy lead to follow, and it led them straight to the Menagerie Coast—another land beyond the borders of the empire, and home to both Fjord and Jester.
Drunk and only a little disorderly, the Mighty Nein faced a few weeks of downtime before they moved onto their next adventures. Is it Thursday yet?
Unless otherwise credited, all images in this article are courtesy of Critical Role.
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.