Critical Recap: Critical Role C2E137 “Welcome to Cognouza”
Written by Dani on May 12, 2021
Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper. Let’s dive into our recap of Critical Role Episode 137 Welcome to Cognouza!
THE ASTRAL SEA
It takes some time for the Mighty Nein to get their bearings, but eventually they figure out how to move in the Astral Sea, their speed determined by their Intelligence. They can make out Lucien and Cree heading towards the city, which is about two miles away from them. The two split off from each other and the Nein assume they are dividing to place their threshold crests. They decide to try and track Cree, choosing the left person but unsure if they’ve chosen correctly.
The Nein will themselves toward the city, which slowly comes more into focus. It is larger than they expected, with neighborhood patterns that seem to repeat – like the beautiful city has replicated itself over the years. As they follow the figure, they move over Cognouza itself, seeing cobblestone streets, thin towers and homes connected by bridges. The streets are empty, with no signs of society…until a voice rings through the heads of all the Nein. The Somnovem, welcoming them all home. Now the streets contain people going about their lives.
Faced with the prospect of Caleb being a sheep forever, Caduceus whacks Sheepleb with his staff, restoring Caleb to himself. Beau, using Avantika’s spyglass, watches the figure dart into the city below. They don’t want to lose the figure, so they forgo attempting a rest as Caduceus casts a prayer of healing on the group.
THE FIRST OF NINE
Below them is a thoroughfare, with park aesthetics and numerous people. However, these people are not actually interacting with one another, they’re just going through the motions. Caleb sends his thoughts to a man below – his response is a terrifying scream, then a voice in his head telling him they must talk, before the others find out. Caleb follows the man to a fleshy archway, the other Nein staying close. One of the man’s eyes turns red and swells in size. An eye Caleb has seen in his dreams.
This is Timorei, of the Somnovem, who tells Caleb that the Somnovem must destroy oblivion in order to endure. Elatis and Luctus plot to end their march to bring darkness and nothing. They embrace the unknown and must be stopped. Timorei asks the Nein to find them in the Aether Crux, where their essence resides, and end them. So that the others may survive.
Jester’s insight can sense that this entity is filled with terror. Timorei asks where the Nonagon is, saying that his second walks but he is beyond their sight. He was to come and help welcome them home. Timorei tells the Nein to be wary of the rest. The Somnovem are coming, also curious. The eye dissolves and the man liquefies into the street.
Fjord flies down and lands on the street, which feels and sounds like stone. An old woman walks towards him – her feet never technically leave the ground and her clothes seem to be part of her body. A red eye appears in her mouth, asking who was here. This is Ira, of the Somnovem. Ira speaks of torment and death to the gods and the fates. When Caleb says they are new here, the body slithers along the ground to Caleb, reforming in front of him.
Ira is single-mindedly focused on finding who they were talking to. Mirumus? Gaudius? Caleb tells him it was Gaudius. The eye says not to trust Gaudius, who pushes forward, naively washing the Somnovem towards oblivion. Ira tells the Nein to find and destroy Gaudius’s essence, to strike first. The Nein must show them they can do what Ira needs. The eye pops and the woman, along with six others, erupt into fleshy horrors of eyes and teeth and muscle and tentacles.
The Nein fight the horrors, deeply unnerved by the fleshy abominations with their teeth tentacles. Luckily, the wild magic of Aeor does not reach here, so they can cast spells without fear. As they kill the creatures, death brings sighs of relief from the slain. When Beau fails a wisdom save, screams pierce her mind and cause her to attack the closest creature, which is Yasha. But her lack of control only lasts for a turn. As the last horror dies from Caleb’s firebolt, it softly thanks him before dissolving away.
Reeling from the fight, the Nein discuss trying to pit the Somnovem against each other. Finding one whose goals align with theirs, like Gaudius, who seems to want oblivion. Cad is picking up on Wrath and Fear traits from Ira and Timorei – it’s possible they’ve devolved into base emotions. It’s clearly not quite a hive mind, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to hide from each other. And where is Lucien, if the Somnovem can’t find him?
The Nein pair off into teams and begin investigating each of the buildings. Each one contains a lazy recreation of the interior of a building, as though the memory of what it should look like is hazy. Half-formed furniture and unfinished interiors. Fjord and Jester find a room where the floor is the same texture as a tongue. Veth and Essek find a person sitting on a stool on the second floor of their building. When Veth tries to talk to them, they respond by screaming endlessly, until Essek ignites the person, killing them.
The last house is investigated by Cad & Caleb, who discover steps that lead to the ceiling, with no second floor. Caduceus taps where they would continue and a mouth opens up to stairs. They go through the mouth and end up on the roof. Cad casts decompose on a window and decomposition begins to take hold. Caleb investigates the gazebo area, where there are featureless statues that copy each other. Where the stairs meet the ground, there’s a folding dip. Caleb touches the dip and it opens into another mouth, showing stairs that continue down.
THE TWISTING TUNNEL
The Nein go down the stairs, to warmer temperatures and metallic walls that remind them of Aeorian tunnels. Cad casts decompose – it takes a moment but the wall does begin to grey. Cad thinks this is a stronger memory that knows what it’s supposed to be.
The corridor splits off into three different directions. To the right is the ‘Presidius Junction’. The middle, where the hall corkscrews, is the ‘Crest Vault’. To the left…it simply says ‘help’, over and over. Jester attempts divine intervention, but Sprinkle is just a weasel. Artagan is not home.
Hoping to find and stop Cree, they float down the Crest Vault hallway. The metal begins to corrode and give way to darker flesh and muscle in addition to stone and rock. They can hear footsteps coming down the hall from the direction they’re traveling, so try to hide themselves in the folds of the wall.
The footsteps stop forty feet ahead – the person is winded, but curious. Red light fills the hallway as the eyes on Beau, Caleb, and Cree’s bodies begin to glow. Cree was wondering when they would catch up.
That is it for Episode 137 of Critical Role!
- Holy shit y’all, I knew Cognouza would be nightmare inducing but this is next level!
- Repeating patterns and memories of what a city should be. Beau mentioned fractals – is the city just one big fleshy math problem?
- Time to fight Cree. Who has five red eyes. And is a blood cleric. Who has their blood. Totally fine, everything is fine.
- Oh Mighty Nein.
Anyway, catch Episode 138 on Thursday, May 13th at 7pm Pacific on twitch.tv/criticalrole and youtube.com/criticalrole, or a week later on our podcast! Is it Thursday, yet?