Welcome to another live show! This time, we’re coming to you direct from New York Comic Con!
Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein gathered a crew for their stolen vessel, freshly renamed the Mistake, and set sail for the Inky Claw Reef. They navigated the reef and found an island in the deadly labyrinth of stone. A large, two-masted ship was moored in the bay, and it loosed a warning shot at the Nein as soon as they drew into view. The crew of the Mistake lowered their rope ladders and prepared to accept two small dinghies from the larger vessel. Despite the party’s misgivings, they would prepare to parley.
The Mighty Nein were greeted by the crew of the Squall Eater, Captain Avantika’s infamous flagship. They agreed to go with them, and met with Avantika face to face. She saw through their paper-thin disguises instantly, and the Nein learned that she was a cult fanatic on a mission. She was the chosen of Uka’toa, the demigod spawn of a Betrayer God and master of the Lucidian Ocean—and Fjord’s warlock patron. They agreed to join Avantika on a quest to find a hidden temple of Uka’toa to help Fjord learn more about his mysterious patron.
Art by Caio Santos (@BlackSalander)
The Mighty Nein met with the crew the larger ship sent over—and they summoned them to the Squall Eater immediately. They immediately recognized the name of the ship as Captain Avantika’s flagship. The envoy from the Squall Eater were skeptical. Even though Fjord’s magical disguise as Captain Jawgrasp convinced her, she were concerned about the fact that nearly all of the Mist’s original crew had turned over since last she saw them, and that “Jawgrasp” had brought untested recruits into Avantika’s secret plans.
A Meeting with Captain Avantika
They were brought before the great Avantika, and scrambled to come up with false names and identities. Their fake names were:
- Tracy (Beau)
- Philip (Caleb)
- Janet (Yasha)
- Cornelius (Caduceus)
- Sapphire (Jester)
- Gilligan (Nott)
Avantika asked Fjord what had happened to the artifact she had asked Jawgrasp to acquire and return—and upon hearing his fumbling reply, casually passed her hand right through his illusory disguise. Her crew all pulled pistols on the party as Avantika laughed at their bravery. Fjord dropped the illusion. “You have the honor of being in the presence of the Mighty Nein.”
“But there are only seven of you,” she muttered.
The Nein made their case and tried to explain why they came here, but Avantika had little patience for their foibles. She offered them a simple deal: join her, or perish. They decided against perishing, and instead made peace with their new lives as pirates. They would go along with Avantika’s plans… for now.
The Legend of the Ancient Depths
Avantika demanded a test of loyalty before she put her trust in the Mighty Nein. Present the orb she wanted. Of course, they couldn’t reveal that it was inside Fjord, so Fjord had to come up with a quick alibi. With a lucky natural 20 on his Charisma (Deception) check, he was able to convince her that the artifact she was searching for was in a distant reef. Avantika pulled down her scarf and showed a tattoo of a great eye on her sternum—and revealed that she was the chosen of a being known as Uka’toa.
Uka’toa, a creation of the Zehir, a Betrayer God known as the Cloaked Serpent, once ruled the Lucidian Ocean. But Zehir’s worshipers grew jealous and sealed Uka’toa away. Avantika seeks to bring the Great Leviathan back to the world and have him take his place as true ruler of the sea.
“Now,” she said. “I’ve shown you mine. Now show me yours.”
The Nein asked her why she believed she was the chosen of Uka’toa, and she replied matter-of-factly that she had dreams. Fjord excitedly revealed that he had dreams, too. Dreams in which he was underwater, facing a great yellow eye. Avantika’s smile widened, and the Nein decided to come clean and reveal everything. Avantika was a fanatic, but they had a common goal: to learn more about Uka’toa and find out about Fjord’s past.
She arranged for a crewman named Jametti Cosko to plot a course for the ancient temple of Uka’toa.
A Gathering of the Nein
The Mighty Nein gathered in their quarters within the Squall Eater, and discussed what they wanted to do. Would they actually go along with Avantika? Caleb stated that he hoped to get out of this sticky situation immediately, but he would stay to help Fjord. They are friends, after all. The party agreed; they would stay by Fjord’s side and accompany him to the lost temple of Uka’toa.
Nott decided to explore the ship’s hold, looking for treasure. She only found spoiled fruit… and a keg of black powder. And there was lots more black powder deep in the hold. In the meantime, Avantika came to Fjord’s chambers and requested a private meeting with him. She wished to talk to him about how he was touched by Uka’toa.
Fjord drew closer to Avantika and said, “Speaking of beautiful…” And asked to see the tattoo on her sternum again. Caleb had gone into Frumpkin’s sight and was watching this scene as a tiny one-ounce elf owl from the corner of the room, and was supremely convinced that they were going to start getting naked. Especially when Avantika said to Fjord, “I’ll do you one better.”
But the only thing Avantika removed was her glove. She raised her palm towards Fjord and said that this was the sign of her being chosen. There was an eye upon the palm of her hand, and it was no tattoo. It was an actual golden eye, gazing cooly upwards. The sexual tension in the room began to drain away, especially as Avantika began speaking of using Uka’toa’s power to take control of the very sea itself. Fjord made a quick, albeit dramatic, exit.
Dreams of Dark Water
They fell into a deep slumber. Fjord awakened in a dream. He was walking along the horizon, deep and blue. The sea was beneath him, and vast oceans of kelp waved at him from the depths. He pushed through the foliage and found himself at the stairs of a temple. A vaguely humanoid statue gazed at him.
“PROVOKE,” it said.
Fjord blasted it with an eldritch blast, and it crumbled and began to sink away.
He gazed at the statue’s face. It was Sabien, his former crewmember. The one who sabotaged his ship. He pushed forward and saw another statue. It bore the face of Vandren, his former captain. He continued into the temple and found a runic circle upon the floor, depicting a looping serpent. He heard the voice again: “WATCHING.”
The circle contained two feet of water, and Fjord placed his face into it… and opened his eyes. Then, instantly, the bright yellow eye snapped open, and he felt his entire body burning. He pulled back, and the heat began to feel… good. The flames were strength, and power, and purpose.
The voice said, “REWARD.”
He saw the horizon, the ocean drenched in moonlight. And he saw dozens of ships—an entire armada—sailing towards him. He reached out his consciousness and his power, and he crushed the ships before him. He raised his hands, and parted the ocean itself, and smashed two walls of water against the ships. Fjord looked on at what he had wrought, and seemed impressed. Scared, but impressed. And then he awoke.
The next morning, they met with Cosko, their navigator. He gave them a quick rundown of the island; it was occupied by lizardfolk and serpent-people. He recommended not fighting them, but rather avoiding the reptilian civilization that inhabited the island. They prepared to enter the jungle, prepared only with the barest of knowledge of what dangers they might face within…
The Mighty Nein have uncovered one tiny portion of Fjord's eldritch secrets, but what new revelations await them on the island of serpents? So many mysteries are just waiting to unfurl... is it Thursday yet!?
Unless otherwise credited, all images in this article are courtesy of Chris Lockey and Critical Role.
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and the Critical Role Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, the DM of Worlds Apart, 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.