Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein encountered Captain Avantika. She revealed to Fjord that she was the chosen of Uk’otoa—an ancient leviathan, and a demigod created by the betrayer god known as Zehir the Cloaked Serpent. She proved her claim by revealing a glassy yellow eye on the palm of her hand, which resembled the gem Fjord found and consumed, and the eyes he saw in his dreams. It was also Fjord’s mysterious warlock patron, and the two instantly formed a tense accord. They would travel to a mysterious island that housed a temple of to the leviathan.
Welcome to the jungle.
The Mighty Nein traveled through the treacherous jungles of Urukayxl with Captain Avantika and her guide, Jamedi. Caduceus, on a hunch, used his Eyes of the Grave trait and discovered that Jamedi was undead! Or at least, as Matt said, “not entirely alive.” They battled dangerous jungle creatures during their journey, and learned of the conflict between the yuan-ti serpentfolk and the lizardfolk that coexisted in the jungle. Eventually, they came to an ancient city of the yuan-ti, and did their best to sneak in unnoticed. Things went bad quickly, but they were able to escape using their wits and rapid-fire combat.
The Mighty Nein formed a marching order and made their way into the jungles of Urukayxl. Jamedi, their guide, scouted ahead, and Nott traveled alongside him. Avantika joined them on the expedition. They reached the first marker without incident, but not far from the marker, Nott and Caduceus found a dilapidated wooden shed in the jungle. Avantika commanded them to investigate, and they traveled off the beaten path.
Nott peered inside and saw a simple cot, a chair, a mildewed leather coat thrown in a corner, and what appeared to be a small box on the table. The entire structure smelled of decay. Nott and Caduceus both searched the structure for traps or other dangers, but neither saw anything in particular—except for a chest. Nott used her mage hand to search for traps, but once again didn’t find any. She opened the box and found a simple gold statue. It depicted a humanoid figure with the head of a hooded cobra. The chest also contained three rubies each the size of a single gold piece. When she removed its contents, a simple cable attached to it activated a trap! A large urn tipped over on Nott and Caduceus, releasing a payload of poisonous snakes! Except… all of the snakes were stone dead, and mostly decomposed. Whoever had set the trap hadn’t been home for quite some time.
As they prepared to rest for the night, Caduceus used Eyes of the Grave, one of his Grave cleric features, and sensed a faint undead aura emanating from Jamedi. He told Fjord, but the two chose not to act immediately. Avantika trusted this man, and they couldn’t mutiny too early. Meanwhile, Caleb conspired with Nott to get Avantika and Jamedi together in one place… and distract them. Nott pulled Jester into the plan, and the two hailed the pair of pirates.
Terrors of the Urukayxl Jungle
Before they could talk, however, Jamedi turned aside and held out his hand. There was a rustling in the underbrush. Beau scouted into the bushes and turned back to the party. Four Lizardfolk were approaching their position. Beau quietly and rapidly gave commands to get in position—but suddenly, three arrows shot from the bushes and two of the lizardfolk fell to ground, dead. Two people in purple robe, adorned with jewelry, emerged—Yuan-ti Purebloods. One man with them hand five-foot-long pythons for arms—a Yuan-ti Malison. The Mighty Nein dove for cover.
The yuan-ti didn’t notice the Mighty Nein, and they contentedly departed as the final lizardfolk succumbed to the yuan-ti’s deadly poison. In the wake of this shocking attack, the Mighty Nein set up Leomund’s tiny hut and made camp. During the night, Caduceus and Jester walked around the outskirts of camp to examine their surroundings—and were attacked by a great cat-like beast with venomous snakes bursting from its back. A [monster]kamadan[/monster! While the rest of the Mighty Nein slept, Jester and Caduceus were left on their own to fight this nightmarish beast!
The battle was panicked and frantic, but the Nein managed to overcome the beasts. They went to bed and rested. While they rested, Caleb cast identify upon Avantika’s magical dagger using Frumpkin as a conduit. She flickered her eyes open and instinctively sliced straight through Frumpkin, and warned Caleb not to meddle where he had no business.
Have Fun Storming the Temple!
The next day, the Mighty Nein concluded their journey through the jungle and arrived at the steps of an ancient stone temple. The yuan-ti that they saw in the jungle—or at least beings that looked similar—were guarding the temple’s entrance. Beau felt physically uncomfortable while they were planning the attack, and realized that she had caught some sort of disease in the jungle… maybe when she was bitten by an insect. She had disadvantage on Constitution saves while diseased—not a good thing while trying to stave off poisonous beasts and serpentine humanoids.
Seeking an easy and nonviolent way to enter the temple, the Mighty Nein used a combination of illusions and makeup to disguise everyone in the party as yuan-ti. Avantika, invisible, followed close behind. They hid under their disguise, they slipped through the ancient stone buildings surrounding the temple. Some of the serpent people looked at them strangely—and others whispered around them. The Mighty Nein were cornered by one group of yuan-ti. They managed to paralyze them with hold person, but one managed to yelp out before it was killed. As guards began to close in on them, Fjord cast major image and created a convincing visual and auditory illusion of a roaring, thrashing manticore.
With the yuan-ti distracted, the Might Nein fled through the ancient structures and made their way into the temple. Jamedi appeared behind them. Panting, he said that he had not seen Avantika… but no one trusted him. Both Beau and Clay attempted to gain insight on his speech, and Clay was successful enough that Matt walked over to Taliesin and whispered a secret into his ear. The Mighty Nein closed the great stone door of the temple behind them as the pattering of yuan-ti footfalls rang out through the hall. They delved further into the temple… but Nott triggered a trap! They all slid into a deep chamber, and three figures turned to them. Each figure held ceremonial bowls, and one turned directly to Nott—revealing the dark gray head of a hissing, hooded serpent!
And that’s where we’ll pick up next week. Who—or what—are the yuan-ti worshiping in this temple. Zehir? Uk’otoa? Perhaps we’ll find out next week. 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.