Critical Recap: Critical Role C3E38 “A Dark Balance”
Written by Dani on October 26, 2022
Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper. Let’s dive into our recap of Critical Role Campaign 3 Episode 38 A Dark Balance!
Bells Hells awaken within Pike Trickfoot’s cottage in Whitestone and inform both her and Lady Vex’ahlia de Rolo that they believe they were successful in separating Laudna’s and Delilah’s souls. Pike can sense that the connection between the two is now much weaker. There is still a small chance that Delilah could return instead – but there is also a chance they could sever Delilah’s connection entirely. With confirmation from Bells Hells that Laudna means everything to them and with the wary approval of Vex, Pike begins the resurrection ritual on Laudna.
Orym is the first to try and persuade Laudna’s soul to return. He grows red poppies in her hair and tells her that she deserves to be more than a footnote in Delilah’s story. Bells Hells needs her darkness and her light. FCG is next. He tells Laudna that she wasn’t perfect, but that her soul touched perfection with her ability to love. Her leaving them is the worst thing that could happen and he can’t let her soul not want to return. FCG casts Compulsion on Laudna, but the spell fails.
Imogen takes the third and final attempt. She tells her best friend that these last few years have been everything to her, but the entire time, Delilah was choking Laudna. Imogen doesn’t know if Laudna will feel free or empty if she comes back without her. But Imogen will be there to fill whatever hole Delilah leaves. She won’t demand or compel her to come back, as no one gets to control Laudna anymore. Imogen loves her and is here.
Imogen isn’t sure if the words got through, but Pike completes the ritual. There is a moment of hesitation, as no one is sure if it worked due to Laudna’s lack of breath. Pike gives her a slap, and Laudna sits up, returned to life. Vex and Pike are both armed and defensive, but it’s definitely Laudna and not Delilah, though she is unsure if her patron is gone. Pike claims to sense only Laudna.
Her friends tell Laudna they brought her to Whitestone and she recoils, but they explain it was the only way to save her. Imogen explains that the city has healed and is different from how she remembers it. Laudna is willing to see the city and Vex treats them as guests, informing the enormous swath of guards and riflemen (as well as her armed husband Percy) just outside the door to stand down. Laudna walks through the polished streets of Whitestone, finally pushing past the trauma and recalling the positive memories of her youth.
LET THE SUNSHINE IN
Laudna spots the vibrant Sun Tree, so much more beautiful than the nightmare she remembers. They go to the tree and Laudna is confused by the dissonance of her memory of it being withered as compared to this vibrant tree. A child runs up and is fascinated by Laudna, agreeing that she and Pâté are fun-scary. Laudna touches the warm Sun Tree and takes on a new form of dread, causing branches to emerge from her shoulders and cycle through the seasons until she drops it.
Percy joins her at the Sun Tree and apologizes for all she has suffered, welcoming her home to Whitestone. They’re both survivors and they will break the cycles. She encourages them all to touch the tree with her, which they do. Bells Hells thank Vox Machina for their help and Vex tells them that Bells Hells now owes them a possible future favor. Fearne gives Pike a hug and attempts to steal her holy symbol, but fails.
FCG asks Pike if she could resurrect Pâté, which reminds Laudna that while she was in the nightmare realm, she recalled creating him and felt all of her friends there, making the memory less lonely. She takes out Pâté and casts find familiar – Pâté grows rib cage wings and begins to talk, taking on the role of Laudna’s familiar. He has the exact same personality in real life that Laudna gave him: bawdy, crude, and hilarious. FCG is not a fan, but Pâté is here to stay.
At dinner with the de Rolo’s, Percy points FCG to the Horizon Temple and to speak with Guide Osli Kamyda for more information about the Changebringer. FCG offers both therapy and tinkering to Percy, who declines, though he does tell FCG about his friend Taryon Darrington’s work with his automaton Doty. Maybe Tary could look at them one day.
Fearne also requests something from Percy – to make a miniature gun for her monkey, Mister, so he can shoot his flame seed. Percy is both confused and intrigued and produces a toy pop gun for her that Mister could use for this purpose. Vex adjusts the menu after Imogen warns her against lobster for dinner, as that is what Laudna ate for her final meal, and they eventually retire to a private chamber to discuss things more in depth.
The group informs the de Rolo’s about the residuum, Otohan and the apogee solstice, Ruidus, and the texts of the forgotten gods. Percy has been tracking missing shipments to Wildemount and had considered the Cerberus Assembly as a possible culprit. Percy interprets the lattice around Ruidus as the Divine Gate. It’s meant to be a continuous barrier around Exandria to keep the gods out – one around Ruidus doesn’t make sense.
As for the texts and the gods, they have allies in Vasselheim who might be able to look into this further. Percy leaves, taking the box of residuum, though he leaves them a couple of handfuls just in case. Vex stays and apologizes to Laudna. She feels responsible for what happened to her. She encourages them all to take care of each other and gives Laudna her ring of protection before departing.
Bells Hells celebrate Laudna’s return and confirm their status as a family. Laudna doesn’t want to sleep in the castle, so they decide to camp under the Sun Tree for the night. FCG has cast shared dream on Imogen and that night, she dreams of the red storm with FCG joining her. She is already surrounded by the storm and sees the shape of a masculine warrior moving away from her. The figure glances at her before vanishing. She tells FCG that she believes someone just died. She’s worried about Eshteross.
The two move through the storm and Imogen casts fly, carrying FCG. She sees cracked rock beneath her and realizes this is not her home. She tries to message Eshteross but is unable to connect. They return to the ground and Imogen realizes that she isn’t casting spells, but the will of her mind influences her actions in the dream. The storm begins to die down and they see a black void filled with stars. Imogen is sure now that they’re on the moon. The stars begin to blink out and they are pulled away from each other in the darkness before they both wake up.
MESSAGES AND TOYS
In the morning, Fearne casts speak with plants to talk to the Sun Tree. The Sun Tree has always seen Ruidus in the sky and the apogee solstice makes it feel tingly. The Sun Tree gives consent to be used as a door one day. Imogen messages Lord Eshteross, but receives no response from him. It’s very early in the morning there, so maybe he’s just asleep. The group discusses Imogen’s dream. FCG thinks she has more control in the dream than she thinks she does. Maybe the dream isn’t happening to her, but something she is doing.
After brunch, Chetney gives Vex his business card via wooden coin. He also gives Imogen her toy present, a clockwork wooden horse. FCG messages Manaia Turei in Jrusar, requesting that she open a portal in the Sun Tree in two hours. Vex takes them to the Whitestone branch of Gilmore’s Glorious Goods. Gilmore is in Emon right now, but a half-elven man named Jerry sells them healing potions, as well as a toy griffon to Fearne.
HAVE A LITTLE FAITH
Meanwhile, FCG goes to the Horizon Temple, where he meets Guide Osli Kamyda. The two discuss faith and how to talk to the Changebringer, as well as FCG’s desire to look to the future and discover their own purpose in life. Osli encourages FCG to open his heart to the symbols the Changebringer might leave for them. His confidence will grow as their relationship grows.
The Changebringer can guide them along a path as she is the patron of freedom and adventure, but there may come a time when FCG can carve their own path. That scares FCG, but Osli says that bravery is standing in the face of fear and pushing onward. The Changebringer has already noticed FCG and will push them to discover the world and themself. Osli shows FCG a coin similar to their own and tells them that tools are given purpose by the one who uses them. A sword can kill but also defend. FCG can choose what he wants to be.
FCG burns some incense and leaves some powdered silver as an offering. He prays to the Changebringer for the first time, telling her that he is listening and waiting, hoping that she’ll let them know she is there; that someone out there knows who he is and that he exists. As FCG leaves, Osli tells them that the curious thing about faith is that it takes some to find some.
A FRIEND LOST
Back at the Sun Tree, the portal opens and Bells Hells rush through. Vex tells Imogen to let her know if anything strange happens. The group arrives back in Jrusar and heads straight to Eshteross’ manor. Chetney goes invisible and unlocks the front door, allowing Laudna to send Pâté in to scope things out. There are signs of an intense struggle with slashes on the walls, traps set off, and pools of blood on the floor. Pâté follows the blood upstairs and to Eshteross’ bedchamber, which is heavily damaged.
Chetney follows him up, recognizing the scent of blood, though he notices something off about the smell. Chetney and Pâté discover Lord Eshteross’ body in his bedchamber, reaching beneath the bed. Chetney can smell Otohan’s scent lingering on the body. Chetney finds an iron lockbox under the bed. He triggers a trap, but opens it with Eshteross’ keys. Within is an array of sealed letters to people like Evelyn Wress, Lex Emenar, Chief Wilder Namin Oros, Ajit Dayal, Mistress Orlana Seshadri, Manaia Turei, and Bells Hells.
Chetney opens their envelope and finds a kind letter thanking them for their friendship and encouraging their bravery. He gives them his cookie recipe and bequeaths them his blade Turmoil, as well as ownership of the skyship and a year’s payment for the crew of Captain Xandis. Chetney returns to the others and they decide to go to a tavern and discuss everything privately. Orym catches the scent of blood on the cane and recognizes the strange scent as that of the toxin that removes any chance of reviving the body after death.
That is it for Episode 38 of Critical Role!
- WE GOT LAUDNA BACK!! That resurrection ritual was way too suspenseful. But where is Delilah? Is Laudna free?
- Rest in peace, Lord Eshteross. I’m so sad that he’s gone. Time for some vengeance via skyship, Bells Hells style.
- FCG is on a faith journey and that is very exciting. The Changebringer is excellent for journeys like that.