Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein became true pirates. They raided a merchant vessel alongside Captain Avantika and the crew of the Squall Eater, though Fjord displayed mercy towards his victims. Many days later, they arrived at the pirate haven of Darktow and met the Plank King, lord of all pirates.
The Mighty Nein cavorted with Avantika’s crew in a local tavern called the Bloated Cup. There, they encountered an old rival of Avantika’s named Allison, and an old companion named Sorris Cade. Avantika laid out the groundwork for another operation—possibly detailing the location of another artifact of Uk’otoa—located in a haunted reef called the Diver’s Grave. The Mighty Nein were growing worried of their continued relationship with Avantika, and made plans to steal her plans, have her arrested by the Plank King, and hunt down the artifact on their own. They infiltrated the Squall Eater and stole her journal, which earned them a map to the next artifact. The next morning, however, Avantika called an all-crew meeting on the deck of her ship, and began using her magic to determine the identity of the thieves. Caleb reacted rashly with a wall of fire…
Art by Caio Santos (@BlackSalander)
The Mighty Nein left the chamber of the Plank King and descended the cliffs to the town of Darktow, accompanied by Avantika. They questioned Avantika about Darktow, the Plank King, and her own history, but she proposed that they continue the discussion over a drink at The Bloated Cup. When they entered the pub, packed two-story building near the shipyards, they found the rest of the crew of the Mistake, as well as Avantika’s crew. From the way that the other pirates deferred to Avantika, it was clear that they respect, and perhaps even idolize, her.
The party met a pirate—a sniper by trade, but currently “a civilian and a drunkard”—named Sorris Cade in the Bloated Cup. Jester decided to get into a friendly fistfight with him, and started using every special part of her tiefling body, from her horns to her tail, to batter this man. He was delighted by her verve, and fought with equal vigor. Jester knocked Sorris loopy, but gave him a pat on the head—casting cure wounds at the same time—and called a truce, hoping to avoid doing any real damage to one another.
“Hey!” she exclaimed to her friends. “I just made a friend.” Jester’s optimism wasn’t misplaced. It seemed that she really had made friends with Sorris by knocking each other silly.
Thoughts of Apricots
Avantika met with a human woman with curly blond hair dressed in a long black coat. Her name was Allison, and Avantika described her as “a right c***.” They were former competitors, but now they had a cordial, yet prickly, relationship.
Avantika described to the Mighty Nein a potential new job: a “salvage operation,” she called it, in the understatement of the century. It involved plundering a place called the Diver’s Grave—which spooked Orly greatly and worried the rest of the crew. There was a legend of a haunting in the Diver’s Grave, and sailors are superstitious folk. Meanwhile, Beau met up with Allison in the washroom and passed her a note. The interaction was short, but the two women sized each other up and passed on by. Outside, Jester commiserated with Caleb about missing home and being confused about her affection for Fjord.
Then she asked him, “You had a girlfriend before, didn’t you? You said her name when we were dancing.” Caleb spoke of Astrid in vague terms—once more refusing to let anyone get too close to him. Caleb will be a tough nut to crack, it seems. Fjord and Caduceus met up in the evening and talked about their relationship to—and their misgivings about—Avantika. The entire party gathered and used the words “Tiffany” and “Apricot Tree” and “Honda” to obliquely refer to Avantika, the orb, and Fjord… and how they would play along with Avantika. They agreed to break into Avantika’s room and search her belongings for a note, a diary, or some other form of written plans.
Art by David Laundry (@NobleIllustrate)
“A Little B&E”
The group split up, sending Fjord to the upstairs of the Bloated Cup to distract Avantika while Jester and Nott snuck onto the Squall Eater. He “kept her busy,” all right. Nott and Jester slipped into Avantika’s quarters and found a few small jewelry boxes in a secret wall safe. Frumpkin performed reconnaissance in the air around the ship. As Jester and Nott heard footsteps coming downstairs, she blew out her candle and used her marvelous pigments to create hidden door in the floor, and then pulled a rug over it to create an improvised pit trap. They slid below into the crews quarters, planted one gem on a sleeping crewmember, and then hid. Tthe patrolling guard fell through the floor and into the crew’s quarters!
The patrolling guard fell down through the hole, and a crewmember awoke with a start and stabbed the fallen patrolman in surprise! Confusion began to spread through the ship, and pirate after pirate began to awaken. Nott called Beau with message and asked for a distraction, and she and Caleb began wandering down the wharf, pretending to be drunk and belligerent—creating just enough of a commotion to allow Nott and Jester to zip out of the ship.
They managed to escape and reconvene, and Nott suggested that they should plant one of Avantika’s gems on Allison. After everyone got back together, Nott also suggested that they create an alibi for themselves, perhaps by convincing someone that they had been drinking with them all night. Beau surveyed the taproom of the Bloated Cup, and found Walduck—the patrolman who had been stabbed during Jester and Nott’s investigation!
The party sequestered themselves away and looked at what they found in Avantika’s quarters. The burglar’s haul included one of Avantika’s journals—which included her dreams. It said that Vandren, the man who was like a father to Fjord, was to be made a sacrifice after he got cold feet. But he managed to escape, and Avantika hunted him for some time, to no avail. She eventually tired of the chase, and returned to her original quest of proselytizing and gaining followers and seeking the orbs. Perhaps she could even supplant the Revelry as the true masters of the sea.
There were notes about another location, another dream she had that involved three landmasses of various shapes. She drew a map, which Matt presented. The journal then turned to the newcomers. “I found another chosen,” she wrote. “Perhaps he will be more useful than Vandren.”
The Mighty Nein weighed their options. There were pretty treasonous musings in Avantika’s journal. Beau suggested that they could deliver this journal to the Plank King and throw Avantika under the bus. It was a dangerous plan, and it was possible that the Plank King was being deceitful himself, and he could turn on the Mighty Nein.
Art by Charlotte Sandmæl (@Cha_C_San)
“All Hands on Deck! Company Meeting!”
The next morning, the Mighty Nein were rudely awoken by Bouldergut. No doubt Avantika had been made aware that her room had been broken into and her possessions plundered, and her crew were the prime suspects. Especially the Mighty Nein.
Avantika gathered her crew and the crew of The Mistake upon the deck of the Squall Eater. Things had gone wrong. “It has come to our attention that there has been—to be perfectly honest—a break-in to my personal chambers.” She had already spoken with some of the crew. Fjord asked if this was a common occurance in Darktow. She smiled and laughed. “No, whoever did this clearly doesn’t understand the ways of this city very well.”
Fjord gulped. Avantika used magic to sense who had broken in—and in that same moment, Caleb swept a piece of phosphorus across his palm and caused a wall of fire to burst across the deck of the Squall Eater.
Argh, I can’t wait two weeks for the next episode! Is it (next) Thursday yet!?
Unless otherwise credited, all images in this article are courtesy of Critical Role. This article was written with the invaluable aid of Hannah Rose (@wildrosemage).
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.