Critical Recap: Exandria Unlimited: Calamity E2 “Bitterness and Dread”
Written by Dani on June 8, 2022
Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper. Let’s dive into our recap of Exandria Unlimited: Calamity Episode 2 Bitterness and Dread!
Still reeling from the mirror appearance of Vespin Chloras, Cerrit investigates the fallen hodmedod and the once invisible dead man. The hodmedod’s cloth holds nothing other than a central glyph with the emblem of The Golden Scythe, as its engine is kept within the vault itself. As for the dead body, there are unnatural growths inside the man’s throat.
Cerrit gets a call on his sending stone from his young son Kir, informing him via codenames that Mya, the elder daughter, is sneaking a drink and going out to a party. “Talon 2” (Kir) is on the case! He asks if their mother will be home tomorrow, but Cerrit isn’t sure. She’ll be home as soon as she can. Cerrit tells his son that he loves him and will be home later.
Zerxus looks for Nydas, who is in the warehouse of the Golden Scythe. Nydas convinces Alessander to start up their untested new prototype, the Taxmen – 12-foot armed automatons who can carry out complex instructions – so that Nydas can take four of them to Laerryn. He summons a porter to open a teleportation gate for him, taking the automatons to the Meridian Labyrinth. Alessander will ensure that the porter’s memory is erased by Patia.
LAERRYN’S LIFE’S WORK
Laerryn is in an engine room near the Ley-Rudder, working on a new machine. She has a locket, a token of her deep friendship with Evandrin. She remembers how her friend became translucent and incorporeal in his death and feels the guilt over what happened. The arrival of Nydas and the four Taxmen knocks her out of her reverie and she utilizes the help of the taxmen and her own automaton assistant Dweomer to finally turn on her engine: The Astral Leywright.
As the engine activates, using the fragment of the solar’s bow that Laerryn took from Cerrit, Laerryn’s tiny replica of the Ley-Rudder lights up. The leylines of Exandria are illuminated within the room and the toy Ley-Rudder floats and disappears, traveling to another plane. The Leywright worked – Avalir will be able to travel to other planes after the Replenishment.
An alarm blares and they realize that they used 8% of the city’s energy sending that toy to another plane. The Arboreal Calix, an engine beholden to the Drashari Tithe, is the problem – it sucked up the energy when Laerryn sent her toy. The Drashari Tithe is the agreement that the original wizards of Avalir struck up with the Gau Drashari, the druids of Toramunda, in exchange for taking the top of the mountain. The Replenishment is the obligation of the wizards to the druids, and the Arboreal Calix ensures that 25% of the city’s magic is set aside for the Drashari.
Laerryn wants to block the Calix from being connected to the Leywright, but everything about the Calix is wrapped up in the Magisterium. She knows that the Calix is 119 years old and was installed during the first Replenishment after the Matron of Ravens ascended to godhood. Nydas and Laerryn meet up with Zerxus and they all return to the Palazzo Por’co.
Laerryn informs the rest of the Ring of Brass that the Leywright worked. She’d kept it a secret from everyone except Patia and Nydas, so explains that she has mastered intraplanar travel for the city. Loquatius is upset that she kept it from him and is unimpressed with the fact that she’s focused on her work when there is a bigger situation. Cerrit updates everyone on Vespin’s warning that they won’t make land.
Everything is tied up in the Apogee Solstice. Laerryn has only 24 hours to ensure that her device works, but there are other people trying to use the solstice to cause harm. Zerxus gives an inspiring speech to rally them all to focus on the matters at hand. Cerrit takes them to the room with the dead body and Zerxus realizes that this man is a cleric of a Betrayer God, known as a k’nouth. Vespin likely succeeded in his ritual, as no one has worshiped a Betrayer since the Schism.
Loquatius doesn’t think it was a true success – if the Betrayers were here, they would know it. Something isn’t finished, as the apocalypse has not arrived. Patia is focused on how this man got into her home. She looks through her divining stones and sees a hodmedod belonging to Lycretia Hollow walk in, set down a gift, then go into the room. The k’nauth was disguised as a hodmedod and came into this room to wait before Cerrit found him.
POISON IN THE CITY
Outside, the fireworks extravaganza begins as Patia and Laerryn look for Lycretia’s gift. It is a vial of deadly poison with a note telling Patia that when the time comes, this will be the easier way out. Laerryn drops the vial and the two look for Lycretia, finding the last person who talked to her – Madara Glyph. Madara thinks that Lycretia went to apologize to Purvan Suul. Patia probes her mind, finding that Madara’s memory has been altered.
Patia uncovers the real memory, learning that Lycretia invisibly followed Purvan, intent on casting a spell on him but was interrupted by Zerxus and Loquatius. Magister Micah Cormorant modified Madara’s memory before going to his office in the Magisterium. The group decides to divide and conquer, spreading out around the city to find more information and keeping in touch via Laerryn’s telepathic bond.
At the Herald’s Tome, Cerrit and Loquatius find an interview with Vespin from several years ago in which he discusses the Matron’s ritual, saying it’s only a matter of time before someone recreates it and that a future ritual would seek to dethrone something more nefarious than a benevolent Prime Deity. They find another interview where Vespin, Lycretia, and Loras of the Weaver’s Mask continue a discussion on the ritual, mentioning the Gau Drashari pact – that the City of Crowns bears the Tree of Names.
Cerrit recognizes the Tree of Names – it was given as one of the central artifacts of Avalir, to be eternally guarded for the significance and safety of the city. 120 years ago, the Arboreal Calix was built around the tree to protect it. Cerrit notices that the box for these interviews is all the work of the reporter Elena Tuveras. There is a section on Evandrin, which is strangely empty. Loquatius says that he fired Elena years ago because her work was sloppy and that she might have taken the record, though Loquatius is lying in some way.
In the Magisterium, Patia and Laerryn go to Magister Cormorant’s office, where Laerryn brings to life a large statue to break down the door. Inside is the invisible Magister, who is quickly killed by the two wizards and their statue friend. They investigate his office, discovering that his teleportation sigil has an infernal rune and has been disconnected from the Porter’s Guild, implying that he has been secretly bringing people into the city.
Laerryn also finds records about the Arboreal Calix, specifically an ancient druidic scroll – a letter that speaks of distrusting the wizards of Avalir and refusing to reveal the true nature of the tree. The letter asks that they just tend to the tree and not ask about its secrets again. Laerryn keeps the letter.
Zerxus and Nydas arrive at the Hall of Prophecy, where they are greeted by the distraught oracle Sofyra. Coaxed by Zerxus, Sofyra explains that two weeks ago, oracles began to go mad, speaking false prophecies. Sofyra is the only oracle left. They consulted with the Ring of Gold, who sent the apprentice Volusia to try to understand what happened. Yesterday, Volusia argued with Loras, her fellow apprentice, telling him that “if these gifts harm us, then we should not accept them” – Volusia then broke her staff, renouncing magic forever.
Zerxus decides to go speak with Karwen, the first oracle who spoke false. He finds her sleeping peacefully in her bedroom, a circle of protective runes around her bed. Upon a fountain wall, Zerxus sees the room’s reflection, but the bed does not hold Karwen – it holds a horned figure. The figure calls to Zerxus, saying that Zerxus saved him. Zerxus goes through the wall, finding another world on the other side.
In the bed lies the same figure from Zerxus’ dream – the Lord of the Hells, a Betrayer God. Zerxus, who does not kneel to the gods, heals him, keeping him from dying. The Lord of the Hells looks like Evandrin to Zerxus, who begins to clean him up. Zerxus tells the Lord of the Hells that the god belongs here. He is not in Exandria proper yet, but the door to his prison opened and they all tumbled out. Zerxus begins to cast an atonement ceremony.
The Lord of the Hells explains that the gods came to a young world of chaos and passion. They began to shape what they dreamed, but the elemental titans, the Primordials, were here first. While the other gods were creating truth and love and honor and courage, he sought to help by making their gifts matter. By creating deceit and betrayal. The mortals called his gifts evil and wrong, but that was the point. The gods gave the mortals magic, the Primordials rose up, and the Prime Deities fought them. But when the original promises of the gods were to the Primordials, how could they be the Betrayers?
Zerxus asks to be remembered, reminding the Lord of the Hells that he turned his pain on his children. If he spares them, Zerxus will help him confront those that hurt him. He promises to not forget him, but Zerxus is too trusting. The Father of Lies can see that people are lying to Zerxus and asks about Evandrin. An illness took him and no one would help. The Lord of the Hells tells him that there is unkind magic on trees of old. He interrupts the ceremony and casts protection from evil and good on Zerxus. Zerxus tells the Lord of the Hells to come find him and returns to his body after this vision.
THE FALSE PROPHECY
Meanwhile, Sofyra gives Nydas the first false prophecy. It reads “The stars are leaving us. Our hands cannot reach the limbs of the tree, can no longer scribe the name of our deliverance. We will soon be as broken as our promises. Avalir shall fall, all shall fall, and from our folly will the hands that forged the world banish themselves from the broken things they have made.” He asks why this was deemed false and Sofyra tells him that the Octothurge decried it, as it obviously cannot be true. Her answer stuns Nydas.
Laerryn gets a call from Helmswoman Akami Rowe. The city is in position over Cathmoira and descent has begun. While speaking, Akami is attacked. Laerryn urges everyone to meet at the Helm and the Ring of Brass reconvenes in Dawnsledge, where they are greeted by Lycretia Hollow herself.
That is it for Episode 2 of Exandria Unlimited: Calamity!
- Well! That certainly got dialed up to 11! I think the Calamity might be coming, y’all.
- Okay so if Zerxus dreamed of Evandrin at a tree and there is a super important Tree of Names, then those are definitely the same tree, right?
- Evandrin went incorporeal, Laerryn’s toy boat went incorporeal… Did Laerryn send Evandrin across the planes as a test run??
- So Zerxus and the Lord of the Hells are bffs now. That’s… probably fine.