Critical Recap: Critical Role C3E43 “Axiom Shaken”
Written by Dani on December 28, 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 43 Axiom Shaken!
True to his name, Shithead the bird flies down from the roofs of the Aydinlan Seminary and shits on FCG’s head. Bells Hells protect their automaton friend, who views the bird as a specter of his nightmares. In a short fight, Fearne takes Shithead down with an ice knife and FCG casts spare the dying, but Shithead seems to unnaturally heal himself. Chetney can sense that the bird is undead and FCG says that he has been following them for their entire existence.
FCG casts speak with animals and questions Shithead, asking why he is hunting them. There is something about FCG that the bird simply has to ruin. He doesn’t know anything about FCG, only that he will follow him forever. Shithead flies away and Pâté follows, but the bird is too fast. FCG considers Shithead to be his albatross, the guilt for his past actions made manifest. Originally, the bird just followed and watched, but then the attacks began. FCG can’t escape.
FCG suddenly realizes that Ashton is gone. Imogen messages him and Ashton says that they are following a thing and will catch up with everyone later. Bells Hells go inside and ask the clerk, Carolle, for Ebenold Kai, but learn that he canceled his classes a couple months ago and hasn’t been around campus since. Kadija Sumal, however, should be around tomorrow at noon.
A stillness falls over the room as a presence enters – a hulking humanoid figure with wild red hair and muscular arms covered in intricate tattoos, wearing massive forearm bracers, vestments, and an eyeless bronze mask covered in script and symbols. Imogen speaks telepathically with Carolle, who says that the individual is with a representative from Vasselheim. They and a partner have been here for a week. Fearne recognizes this entity as a Judicator.
Judicators are the traditional guardians and hunters for the high temples in Vasselheim. They originated in the Calamity, pious warriors who give up all of themselves, even their individuality, to the Prime Deities and become bodyguards of clerics and protectors of divine relics. They’re rarely seen in public, much less this far from Vasselheim. They must be looking for the sacred texts. Chetney speaks to the Judicator, but they simply scan the group before leaving.
Carolle refuses to give them any more information until FCG casts fast friends on her. She says that Professor Vitro Isham is the head of the automaton department and takes them to Ebenold’s home. During the walk, they befriend Carolle in hopes of making her like them before the spell ends. They get some blackmail on her when she tells them about her side business selling knick-knacks, some of which she’s taken from the school. Once outside the professor’s house, Orym gives her 5 platinum and Carolle returns to the Seminary, the spell still in effect.
Chetney invisibly goes through the chimney while the others wait outside, avoiding detection from the passing sentries by pretending to be gardeners. Within, Chetney notices the smell of sweat. He calls for Ebenold, but no one comes out. He accidentally trips the trap on the front door, but gets everyone inside via the window.
Imogen casts detect thoughts, sensing two minds beneath her. After Chetney activates an acid trap and FCG steals cooking supplies, Laudna notices a seam in the kitchen wall, which opens to a descending staircase. Chetney and Orym go downstairs, where they hear voices. A skull is tossed out, whose magic blinds and frightens Orym.
As Orym tries to say that they’ve been sent by Roe Estani, a half-elven woman reads a scroll and opens up a teleportation circle, transporting herself and an older male halfling with her. Bells Hells quickly follow, with Imogen and Fearne having to drag a frightened Orym, and they arrive in an uncomfortably hot cavern containing a lava river, with the two individuals on guard. Orym quickly makes introductions, calming the two down.
This is Ebenold Kai and Dr. Baryn Vestisho, who studies the history of the Founding and the Schism. Baryn and two others are the ones who took the texts, who the Judicators are hunting. She explains that they’re in the Plane of Fire, in their compatriot’s home. She introduces Planerider Ryn, a female tiefling who summons a fire elemental named Niles as a precaution.
They ask why Bells Hells are interested in Ruidus and Imogen explains that she and her mother have powers and dreams of the moon. Ebenold calls her an Exaltant and Baryn says that their research discovered that some Ruidusborn draw powers from their connection to Ruidus. Ebenold knows Liliana Temult and now recognizes Imogen as her daughter.
PIECING IT TOGETHER
Tensions ease with this knowledge. Baryn explains that she and her team discovered inconsistencies in Exandrian history and spent years trying to locate the sacred texts, but the high clerics kept them away. One of her compatriots, Arnold Drot, was taken during the theft and is likely still in custody of the Sanctuary. The other compatriot, Janina, was already a member of the Grim Verity and is trying to gain information about the nexus site to the north of Yios.
Recently, they’ve been working with Ryn after being hunted in Ank’Harel. Ryn’s research focuses on the odd and astronomical, particularly among the planes. She discovered inconsistencies in the way the leylines were moving. Specifically, bursts of energy that were occurring in a pattern with the flares of Ruidus. That led her to Ebenold, a Ruidian expert. She also noticed abnormalities on the Fey Realm and the Shadowfell, of constructions being built.
Imogen asks if the sacred texts mentioned a city on the moon – the texts didn’t mention this and that knowledge is new to them all. Bells Hells also tell them about Ira Wendegoth’s involvement in creating the telescope devices for the Unseelie Court. Ryn recognizes the Nightmare King and is intrigued by his involvement. Ryn has seen two of these three devices.
THE SACRED TEXTS
The texts are some of the oldest books on record. They speak of two deities forgotten by history that existed in the pantheon long ago, before the Schism. These deities are Ethedok the Endless Shadow and Vordo the Fateshaper – Ethedok oversaw darkness and winter, while Vordo was the god of fate and order. There was an era during the Founding in which the gods showed fear. Something came from beyond the stars and they called it Predathos.
Predathos resisted the gods’ miracles and hunted them, spawning its own twisted life in its wake. It devoured Ethedok, then Vordo. An accord was struck between the gods and the Primordial Titans to carve a prison from Exandria to seal away Predathos. Upon attempting to send this prison to the darkness, it clung to the sky as a new moon.
They theorize that the gods and their acolytes attempted to erase the history around the prison by spreading superstition in the hopes that the moon would dodge interest and Predathos would never become a danger again. They would happily leave this knowledge alone, but the frequent Ruidus flares means that something is happening. Unfortunately, the top clerics seek to silence them, as they fear both what the Grim Verity knows and losing the faith of their followers.
As for Otohan Thull, she was once extremely pious to the Matron of the Ravens and claimed to walk in her path. When the war finished, they seemingly lost their faith. Otohan is most likely also an Exaltant who is embracing the dreams and the pull to the red moon. Imogen believes that Otohan is building an army of Ruidusborn, who have all been coming to the Hellcatch Valley for months with no understanding of why they’ve been called here. The Ruidusborn are unlikely to all be Exaltants, though.
The Grim Verity believes that the Exaltant’s powers come from Predathos as a sort of anchor to the world in the form of the Ruidusborn. Liliana is likely with Otohan. She was their first studyable subject, but she was frustrated with the lack of answers. Otohan and the Assembly found her and her personal need for answers overrode her judgment. Planerider Ryn is ready to make things weird for these people. She doesn’t like or trust what they’re doing and she wants to stop it. Bells Hells want to help.
As for the city on the moon, they are unsure what piece of Exandria was taken to make Ruidus – possibly a continent – but Ebenold theorizes that, if Predathos could create twisted life, maybe it continued to do so even in its prison. The Assembly and Otohan have been building matching devices in the Fey Realm and in the Shadowfell in the same spots where the planes overlap at the same nexus points. These two planes are the closest ones to Exandria.
North of Yios is an excavation that was a focus site for a solstice many centuries ago. This backs up Ryn’s theory that leylines shift over eons in a slow but cyclical pattern. This area was created to be a lightning rod for solstice energy by the Tishtan culture, a magic-obsessed nomadic society of the Schism. These ruins have been under study by the Seminary for 5 years, until the Cerberus Assembly showed up 3 months ago and bullied their way into the research and barred the Seminary from the site. This is where they are gathering for the apogee solstice.
Ryn has friends that she can call in and recommends Bells Hells call in their allies, too. Imogen’s mother is on the inside, so maybe Imogen could be a double agent, though that would be dangerous. It’s possible they could sabotage a device on another plane. The device on the Shadowfell is ramshackle and unguarded. Fearne’s nana, the Fatestitcher, could possibly help them with the Fey device. Ryn has heard of her.
They have three options – the Fey Realm, the Shadowfell, and the Exandrian ruins. The ruins are the most important area, with the other two devices acting as support. The Shadowfell device is less guarded, but the Shadowfell is deeply dangerous. The Fey Realm has the Unseelie, but Fearne has Nana Morri. The Fatestitcher is a guardian of one of the fanes within the Fey Realm. Maybe they could use Ira’s chaos to their advantage.
The Apogee Solstice is about two weeks away. If they go to the Fey Realm, Nana Morri could possibly fiddle with the time change for them. Fearne believes that her grandmother would help her. Imogen casts Sending to Nana Morri, asking if she could help Fearne come visit and return in a timely manner. Nana Morri responds, saying that she can always help her, though her voice unsettles Imogen.
First they have to return to Yios to get Ashton and see the other professors. Ryn opens a portal and sends Bells Hells back to Ebenold’s basement in Yios. Chetney runs up the stairs and hears splintering wood within the house. He quickly closes the trapdoor and hears a voice in the house asking if someone was sure that they heard and smelled Bells Hells here. The voice says to find them.
That is it for Episode 43 of Critical Role!
- Holy SHIT y’all, two gods that were EATEN?? Predathos, a being that the gods fear?? MOON PRISON CONFIRMED?? Oh that was a lot.
- To Grandmother’s house we go!! Let’s meet Nana Morri!
- Wait, is Shithead a revenant??