Critical Recap: Critical Role C2E114 “An Open Window”
Written by Dani on November 4, 2020
Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper. Let’s dive into our recap of Critical Role Episode 114 An Open Window!
DO YOU WANNA BUILD A SNOWMAN?
The Midnight Hammer docks at Balenpost in Eiselcross and the Mighty Nein disembark as Vess greets a man, Wardlaw Akron, the overseer at the fort. He apologizes for the state of things, blaming their low supplies on a situation in Icehaven. Vess will attend to Assembly business once she’s gotten settled. Fjord asks Wardlaw if he has seen a purple tiefling – no, but he’ll let him know if anyone with that description shows up. A grizzled, burly dwarf utilizing a combat wheelchair approaches the group – this is their guide, Dagen Underthorn.
Vess tells them to take the day to prepare for the journey and gather supplies. They’ll leave tomorrow. Veth, Caducus, and Yasha speak with a goliath woman, Oweda, carving meat. She has wolf and mammoth meat, so they buy a bit of both. She flirts with Caduceus, who is totally unaware. Veth points the flirting out to him, to Caduceus’s amusement. He’s not interested in any of that. He gets it, and he enjoys the way the others interact, but it’s not his thing. Veth can imagine thinking about being with someone would be very stressful and encompass one’s mind. Right, Yasha? Yasha agrees in this totally hypothetical scenario.
Jester builds a snowman outside. She catches the attention of a guard and invites him to help her. Though he defers at first, her charm wins out and he joins her. The guard, Keaghlan, tells her about the situation at Icehaven – there was a breakdown in negotiations with the Storm Giants in the Frigid Depths, so now the Empire ships can’t go straight through, messing up the supply lines. She gives him a pastry, to his delight. Caleb attempts to build a snowman with Beau before a good natured snowball fight erupts between him, Beau, and Jester.
Dinner time comes and Vess invites the Nein to sit with her at her posh table. She heard from Captain Liard about their battle on the ship – it seems her faith in them is well-founded. She’s impressed that her assistance was not required. As for their journey, Dagen is an accomplished guide. They’ll be heading north on the outskirts of the lava river. They’ll have to cross it, but Vess can fly them over. After that, they’ll head to the primary excavation site. She reiterates the dangers of teleportation. Magic itself can sometimes have unforeseen consequences here, strange after effects. Dagen will have more information about the journey’s dangers.
As for Aeor itself, she’s not looking for anything in particular, but seeking more – be it artifacts or knowledge, via rubbings and symbology. She has some ideas on what she wants and her eyes alight with excitement on Aeor’s potential. Vess has only attempted this excavation once before. It was very dangerous without the right team. She’d attempted to return but the conflict with the Dynasty stole her attention. Others in the Assembly share her interest but not her focus. The Assembly’s balance is predicated on trust and mistrust among its members.
After some confusion about dinner payment, they speak with Dagen, who lays out some examples of the dangers of the tundra – yetis, mammoth, frost giants, a mythological wolf named Old Demarog. The most common are the yeti and sometimes frosty gnolls. He introduces them to his battle axe, named Sheila, and warns them of the cold. Beau asks for advice he wishes he’d had his first time out: sometimes, scavenging isn’t worth what you find.
They head to their rooms, where Jester scries on Molly. She sees him looting the contents of a chamber. One of his eye tattoos begins to emit a dull light and Molly looks at her. He speaks to her in an Irish accent, commenting on his return visitor’s curiosity. Thanks to their peeking, he was able to use their scent to follow her. He sees many things with his eyes and had been watching this one’s path for a while. He saw the threads and made a detour. So much knowledge and so little understanding. He darts off and returns with old papers in an unbound book. Continuing, Molly tells Jester that now he has what she took from him. He goes to an open window and says “to Alpha and Alpha we trek til homeward bound we be” and hopes to see them there. He ducks out the window and snaps his fingers, ending the scry prematurely.
Jester panics and tells the group what she saw. They launch into questions – is the scent Vess’s? Is this her book or Molly’s book? Did Molly go back for the original? How did he get the book back? What was the detour? Are they chasing him or vice versa? Did he know it was Jester specifically or just that someone was watching? What does “to Alpha and Alpha” mean? It seems like Molly wants to be followed. Fjord notices that the map, given to them by Vess, has a lot of places marked with “A”s and numbers. These are smaller excavations, chunks of Aeor scattered about. Maybe this is the detour? A5 is on the way to the lava river. They want to ask Vess but have no idea if she’ll be truthful.
Caleb summons the tower and talks to Veth about laying off calling him a leader – this is a collective. He has grown so much and appreciated the confidence boost back then, but it’s not necessary anymore. Veth just thinks there are different ways to lead. She is glad to be here with them and wants to live in the now. Caleb made this tower to keep the group together and keep her here, so she can see her family. He wants her here. This family is a work in progress.
A SHIFT IN THE DYNAMIC
In the morning, Jester tells Caleb that she wants to read the adorable book Der Katzen Prince, but it’s in Zemnian. He promises to read it to her later. Yasha tells Beau that she was very impressed with Beau’s deductions. This calling suits her. Beau brings up the dinner with Trent and Yasha’s discomfort when he started talking in their heads. It was uncomfortable, but not like what happened with Obann, when she wasn’t in control of her actions. She thinks about the cathedral constantly and doesn’t know what she’d have done if Beau had died because of her. Yasha gives her a poem she wrote for her, to Beau’s surprise. She’ll read it in the tower later.
The day goes on. They wait around. Mid-afternoon hits. Dagen is in the courtyard but there’s no sign of Vess. Fjord and Jester find her room – they knock but there’s no answer. The guards haven’t seen her. Jester sends Vess a message, but there’s no response. That’s NOT good. Fjord intimidates the guards into sending for Wardlaw. Veth picks the lock, Yasha kicks the door open and Jester sees… a very familiar chamber. Window open, snow on the ground. And Vess’s dead body on her bed, dried blood having poured from her eyes and nose and ears.
Veth examines her body – there are red eye tattoos on her neck, her palm, her chest…nine in total. They would be tattoos but they’re too clean and they’re not recent. They were likely hidden with a glamour. All her jewelry, her books, everything she brought except her clothing is gone. Soldiers are approaching now. Fjord steps out of the room with Jester, casting major image of Vess behind them. He tells Wardlaw and the guards that Lady Vess took ill from the food and called out for help, but no one came. All of her food preparation and security will be handled by the Nein and she is NOT to be disturbed for the next 24 hours.
Yasha examines the body: it’s clear that Vess was killed by something violent and sudden. Caleb opens the door to the Tower and they bring her body inside while Veth and Fjord clean up all the blood. Caduceus casts speak with dead on Vess.
- What do the 9 eye tattoos mean? They are her connection, her right to be the Nonagon.
- What was the book that Lucien took? Something found and wasted on those who discovered it. Something she was close to unlocking.
- What does the phrase ‘to Alpha and Alpha til homeward bound we be’ mean? Unsure, though many pieces of the city lay strewn.
- What does it mean to be a Nonagon? ‘Nonagon is a vessel. It is a key to Cognouza. It is the one to free the Somnovem.’
- Two years ago, something happened to Lucien that changed him – does she know what it was? Yes. She’s the one who did it.
With that, the spell ends.
Jester thinks Somnovem refers to the Living City from Vokodo’s vision. Or maybe that’s Cognouza. Probably bad to free it, no matter what it does. Clearly Vess killed Lucien, or messed up the ritual to cause his death. What if Lucien was her teacher? Maybe there is only supposed to be one Nonagon at a time and they were meant to kill the other? Too many questions with no answers. Caleb locates a fifth piece of amber and casts his vault again, placing Vess’s body inside for safekeeping.
Jester forges Vess’s handwriting, leaving a note saying that urgent Assembly business has taken her away and to let the Mighty Nein know to join her. Fjord tells Dagen that Vess will meet them at A5, as business has taken her away. Dagen just wants to get paid – Caduceus and Beau split his 1k gold fee. They head out into the tundra, with Vess Derogna, Archmage of Antiquity of the Cerberus Assembly, dead and tucked away in a necklace.
That is it for Critical Role Episode 114!
- Holy shit y’all. The dynamics have certainly been turned on their head.
- The Mighty Nein are now accessories to murder. At the LEAST they’re guilty of covering up a murder. Things do not look good for our intrepid heroes, no siree.
- Hey Molly? Can you please explain yourself?? And your very confusing actions???
- Oh Mighty Nein.
Anyway, catch Episode 115 on Thursday, November 5th at 7pm Pacific on twitch.tv/criticalrole, or a week later on our podcast! Daylight Savings Time just occurred in the US, so make sure to double check your area’s start time! Is it Thursday, yet?