Critical Role Recap: Episode 40

Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein invaded an ancient yuan-ti temple. They explored its many twisting passages (and ate some fruit that got Nott and Caleb high), and eventually found a sanctum deep beneath the surface of the earth. There they fought the temple Warden, a hydra, and somehow managed to prevail.

Single-Paragraph Synopsis

Fjord and Avantika delved into the deepest point of the temple and found a divot in the stone to place one of their orbs of power. Avantika tore her orb from her hand and placed it there—and gained some power over water in exchange. The masonry cracked around them and water surged from below. The party fled the temple and the jungle while pursued by yuan-ti, and reconvened on the decks of the Squall Eater. There, Fjord and Avantika shared an amorous evening encounter, and the part ultimately decided to accompany her to the pirate haven of Darktow… for now.

Art by Charlotte Sandmæl (@Cha_C_San)

Full Summary

The Mighty Nein recovered from their fight with the hydra, and searched the chamber in which they fought the beast. Caduceus cast detect magic and discovered that the pillars in the room had a powerful magical aura surrounding them. Everyone in the room had magic surrounding them as well—except for Jamedi. Three tall murals stood around the room. The first depicted a scene of a massive bird enwreathed in purple flames, with three eyes peering from its head. In the mural, each eye was represented by an onyx stone. Beneath the phoenix-like creature stood crowds of people. Floating above the throng were three figures crowned by halos of light. The second showed a similar scene, though the clothes of the figures were different, and above them was a giant coiled serpent with eyes represented by amber stones.

Avantika speculated that these were created by the Ki’nau, the followers of Uk’otoa.

Beau examined the final mural, and saw it showing a massive, worm-like abomination above the crowd. Within its mouth, instead of a tongue, the creature had three eyes made of ivory. Avantika pointed at the three figures on one mural and said, “I suppose that’s me.” She pointed to another halo-bearing figures and said, “And that’s you.”

Fjord asked about the third figure, and about the one other Chosen that Avantika had met before. She said that she once had a cowardly partner who betrayed her, and that she much preferred Fjord’s partnership, but had little else to say on the matter. Meanwhile, Caleb took notes of the arcane runes on the columns—which seemed to be made up of chains—for further study later. A simple investigation revealed that these Draconic runes exuded an aura of abjuration magic.

A Discovery… and an Escape!

Avantika, Jamedi, and the Mighty Nein continued exploring. The former dove down into the well the hydra emerged from, and the rest of the party followed. They swam through the cold, salty water and found that the passage plunged deep into the earth and then curved and opened up into a flooded chamber. Fjord and Avantika, still underwater, began scraping grime and algae off the floor of the chamber. As they dug, they found spherical indentation in the floor. Fjord tried to pull his stone from his chest, but his hand impacted against the water. Avantika drew her stone from her hand and placed it within the depression. Blood poured out of her hand, and a huge crash rocked the temple.

A stone fissure appeared in the walls of the temple. Water began gushing into the temple, surging up from below. As the temple began to collapse, Matthew Mercer pulled out a physical hourglass (!)… and when it ran out, the entire party was completely submerged in water. The escape was frantic and plan-less, and things only got more chaotic as a group of yuan-ti confronted them as they tried to flee.

The party fought through the yuan-ti as the chamber filled completely with water. When they reached the top of the chamber and unlatched the door, the water pressure that had built up shot the entire group straight into the air like a geyser. Caleb used his last spell slot to cast feather fall in order to save his friends… though he left Avantika, Jamedi, and Caduceus to fend for themselves. The entire yuan-ti city was flooded by the angry waves, and the Mighty Nein fled the devastated city and burst into the jungle. A grueling skill challenge awaited the players as they made check after check to navigate the thick foliage as yuan-ti warriors followed in hot pursuit. Each leg of the pursuit tore at the heroes’ stamina, but they were able to reach the shore before anyone could become too exhausted. Out in the open, the Squall Eater’s cannons began blasting at the characters’ pursuers, causing huge columns of sand to explode in their wake.

Where to Next?

The Mighty Nein and Avantika convened on the Squall Eater and discussed their next move. Avantika was filled with zeal after this venture, and she was eager to get to the pirate haven of Darktow. She wanted to keep the Mighty Nein on her payroll. The party gathered privately and decided that they should go along with Avantika for now until they reached Darktow, and then tell her they needed to part ways. Most of the party—Nott especially—hated adventuring on the water. Nott called it the worst day of her life.

Fjord met with Avantika that evening. He found her swimming naked in the water, playing with her newfound power of water control. She was clearly aware he was watching her, and the two gathered in private to discuss their adventure and their plans for the future. Avantika poured herself a glass of wine and remarked upon Fjord’s blade. She said it was identical to a weapon she knew as the Sword of Fathoms. It was wielded by a man named Vandren—Fjord barely concealed his surprise—a man who Avantika described as the foolish coward who first opened Avantika’s eyes to the destiny of Uk’otoa before he abandoned her.

Fjord and Avantika verbally sparred that night, but she saw through his lies. She forced him to reveal what he knew about Vandren and the orb he had acquired. She continued drinking, and drew the information she desired out of Fjord. Then, as they shook hands and agreed to continue doing business together, Fjord held onto her hand and stepped around the table separating them. He leaned his head in, and Avantika took him. Even if Fjord had initiated their amorous encounter, Avantika made it clear that she was in control.

It was not a romantic evening for Fjord, but it was an enjoyable one. He returned to his own quarters before dawn, and Caduceus dryly welcomed him back. With that, the entire party reached 7th level, and the game came to an end. 

What further nautical adventures await the Mighty Nein on Darktow? What will become of Fjord and Avantika? And… 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.


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