Chapter 3: The Briarwood Arc
Story arc Recap of Episodes 24-38 Part 1
Episode 24: The Feast
Vox Machina confront Percy about his brooding behavior since he heard the Briarwoods were coming to Emon. He reveals that the Briarwoods were responsible for the cold blooded murder of his parents and six siblings and the subsequent overthrow of Whitestone. He has been on the run, living in the shadows ever since. He wishes to get his revenge on them, revealing their names engraved onto the barrel of his pistol. The group offers their help in discovering the Briarwoods’ intentions in Emon. They have a week to prepare for the Briarwoods’ arrival and do some stocking up at Gilmore’s Glorious Goods. Vax’ildan explores his feeling for Gilmore. Percy locks himself away in his tinkering room in Greyskull Keep.
Tiberius gets the group’s reward money from Lord Nostoc in Kraghammer. The day of the Feast finally arrives and Vox Machina enter the King’s Palace. Percy is magically disguised as Vax, while Vax invisibly sneaks into the Feast. Their ally, Seeker Asum, joins the group in getting information about the Briarwoods. He asks Vox Machina to do their work quietly and without notice so as not to disturb the other political figures in attendance. He reveals that he has been watching the Briarwoods’ for some time. His spies he sent to Whitestone never returned or sent messages saying they were staying in Whitestone permanently. The group decides to use the code word “Jenga” if anything goes wrong and they need to fight. The Feast begins and Vox Machina take their places. The Briarwoods are magnetic and charming. They offer a plan to open trade and are met with applause. The dinner finishes and the guests begin to leave. Vax, still invisible, begins to follow the Briarwoods back into their room. Unbeknownst to him, Vax’s invisibility has worn off and he walks right into the Briarwoods. He tries to talk his way out of their room, but Lady Briarwood sees through his lies. Lord Briarwood pulls him further into their bedroom, whispering in his ear, “You look delicious.”
Episode 25: Crimson Diplomacy
Vax cautiously tries to speak to Lord and Lady Briarwood as they circle around him. They have no interest in anything he has to offer and seem to be toying with him. Lady Briarwood casts a powerful spell on Vax, making his skin shrivel and crack. Lord Briarwood, moving with unnatural speed, appears behind Vax and sinks two sharp fangs into the side of his neck. Vax feels a cold wave of energy sweep through him and can feel the life being sucked from him. He escapes Lord Briarwood’s grasp and goes crashing through the window yelling the code word “Jenga” to his companions.
The rest of Vox Machina dash into action, running from their various posts around the party to try and find Vax. Lady Briarwood magically paralyses Vax on the courtyard ground, leaving him vulnerable to attack. Lord Briarwood lithely lands next to the fallen Vax. Vex’aliah desperately tries to find her brother, leading the group into the courtyard. Seeker Asum and an unknown female ally of his leap into action, trying to drag Vax away from Lord Briarwood. Asum is enthralled by Lady Briarwood and leaves the battle. Vex’ahlia finally makes it to the fray, just in time to see Vax lying limp and lifeless in front of Lord Briarwood. She leads a torrent of ferocious attacks on the Briarwoods. Scanlan revives Vax, getting him out of the way of Percy’s hail of bullets. Tiberius tries to go blow for blow with the incredibly powerful sorceress Lady Briarwood. He falters, and she breaks his mind, draining any magical ability from him. He rises from the ground and empty shell, only his feral dragonborn instincts guiding him, and flees from the battle.
Lady Briarwood, sensing the battle may turn, teleports her and her husband into a getaway carriage. Vox Machina gives chase and takes out a wheel of the carriage, sending it crashing into the trees. As Percy takes aim, Lady Briarwood reveals that they have kept some of his family alive as captives. He falters, and the Briarwoods vanish into darkness. A heartbroken Percy begins to brutalize the carriage driver, crying out the names of his parents and siblings, asking if they live. The Sovereign Uriel, his guards and Lady Allura arrive. Uriel is furious with Vox Machina for leading an unprovoked attack on his esteemed guests. The group manages to talk their way out of arrest but must appear in front of his council tomorrow.
Introducing guest star Kit Buss, as Lilith the tiefling wizard.
Seeker Asum’s ally Lilith reveals herself to Vox Machina, dropping her disguise as a human maidservant. She stands a tall, stark white tiefling wizard, asking for Vox Machina’s help. Her cousin, Zahra, sent her to them. She is marked for death by a man named the Broker. Vox Machina bring her to a temple of Sarenrae to hide and heal for a moment. The priests restore Tiberius and heal Vax’s necrotic wounds. While at the Temple, the Broker and his agents surround the group and ask for them to turn Lilith over. The Broker, a tiefling with yellow eyes, teases Lilith by saying her sisters paid him handsomely to hunt her down. The group attacks, defending Lilith. Percy snaps and unloads gunshot after gunshot into the Broker, completely obliterating him. The Broker’s cronies begin to run as Percy turns his gun towards them. The group mercilessly kills the fleeing cronies. Lilith, now free from the mark of the hunted, thanks Vox Machina for protecting her and promises to find them again once she has taken care of her sisters.
Episode 26: Consequences and Cows
After resting for the evening in Greyskull Keep, Vox Machina is awakened by a summons to the Sovereign’s council. Percy has locked himself away in his workshop and refuses to come out so the group leaves without him. Uriel enters into the council chambers, followed by Lady Allura, Seeker Asum, and the rest of the council. He chastens them for attacking the Briarwoods, killing their servants, torturing and imprisoning the carriage driver, and killing two other seemingly unarmed people not far from the castle walls. Seeker Asum does not seem like himself. He disagrees with Vox Machina’s story and turns Uriel against them. Uriel revokes Vox Machina’s membership in the Council of Emon and there will be an investigation into their attack on the Briarwoods. They are banned from the palace. Defeated, they return to Greyskull Keep.
At the Keep’s gates, a poor farmer couple has been waiting for them to return. They ask to hire them to investigate the disappearance of their cows. They say that a winged beast has been spotted circling their farm at night, stealing livestock and scaring the locals. The group agrees to come that night to help. Before leaving for the farm, Vex and Keyleth get more information about the Briarwoods from the captive carriage driver. He tells them of the horrors he’s seen in their fortress in Whitestone. They have turned the servants and townsfolk into undead creatures, poisoned the land, and hung any resistors from the citadel’s Sun Tree. The group leaves their prisoner locked away for the night and begins their journey to the farm. Scanlan helps the group come up with a plan to catch the flying beast. They will magically disguise themselves as cows to bait the beast into the open and attack. Grog loves the idea and convinces the rest of Vox Machina to go along. Scanlan casts ‘cowmooflauge’ and “Vox Moochina” take their places among their cow friends.
A couple hours later the sound of wings and a dark shadow move across the sky. Keyleth-cow is swooped up by the giant talons of a Roc and is whisked high into the air. Vox Moochina springs into action, letting loose a barrage of arrows and daggers to try and slow the giant bird. Tiberius casts Fly on the group and the herd of cows begins a chase across the skies. The bird quickly gains a large lead and disappears over the horizon. Vex tracks it over the hills. Meanwhile, Keyleth, angry at being carried away, casts polymorph on the bird and also turns it into a cow. The Roc plummets from earth and Keyleth goes eagle form to safely escape. The group follows it to a nest high in the mountains. A druidic gnome hermit guards the bird, angrily commands the group to leave him and his Roc alone. Keyleth and Scanlan calm the tensions and convince the gnome to take his beast out of Emon to the wilderness of Vasselheim. The group heads back to the farm after watching the gnome and the Roc leave. After assuring the farmers their lands are safe, they head home to rest.
Episode 27: The Path to Whitestone
Percy wakes from a fever dream, reliving his family’s massacre. A dark entity whispered in his dreams, urging him to enact revenge on his family. He is alone in his workshop in Greyskull Keep. He opens the door to his workshop and sees one of the Keep guards hovering in the air, being choked by an invisible force. Percy springs into action, firing his gun into the air around his guard. Another invisible entity moves into the nearby jail cell and attacks the carriage driver. Percy holds off the creatures, calling out for help. Vox Machina, who are just returning from their cow adventures, hear gunshots and yelling from inside the Keep. They rush inside to help Percy and take down the creatures. The group believes that the Briarwoods sent the spirits as assassins to kill the carriage driver. Seeker Asum visits Greyskull Keep, seemingly in control of his own will again. Vox Machina questions him and he reveals that the Sovereign Uriel is still under the Briarwoods’ spell. Asum asks Vox Machina to infiltrate Whitestone and bring back evidence of the Briarwoods’ misdeeds to absolve the group of their crimes. The group agrees and begin making plans and gathering supplies then quietly sets off on the path to Whitestone.
Episode 28: The Sun Tree
Vox Machina is ambushed in a canyon ravine on the way to Whitestone. The blue-scaled serpentine Behir sends lighting ripping through the group. They fight tooth and nail against the impossibly fast beast. Grog corners it and smashes its skull to jelly. Tiberius feels he is unprepared for their mission in Whitestone and teleports home, promising to join back up with them soon. The rest of the group safely reaches the outskirts of Whitestone, stealthing their way around the desolate buildings. Scanlan and eagle-form Keyleth take an invisible trip above the city. In the city center, they see the Sun Tree withering. There are eight bodies hanging from the tree. Undead giants patrol the city center, keeping the few citizens imprisoned. They return to their companions and relay what they saw.
Percy explains that the Sun Tree is a gift to the sun god Pelor, who blesses the land with vitality. Percy worries there may be a curse on the tree and the land and hopes it’s not too late to save his city. The group camps on the outskirts of town. In the morning, Vox Machina cautiously make their way into the city center, disguised as peasants. They sneak past several zombie giants and arrive at the Sun Tree. They realize the bodies are dressed almost exactly like each member of Vox Machina. The Briarwoods have hung these people as a warning to the group to stay away. Horrified, they retreat back into an abandoned shop in the city. Keyleth, in her earth form, tunnels back to the tree to see if she can heal it from its blight. Her magic seeps into the Sun Tree but nothing happens, the tree is dead.
Episode 29: Whispers
Percy searches for a familiar landmark in Whitestone. He leads Vax and Scanlan to an old temple of Pelor, hoping to find some old friends or allies still alive in the town. They find the doors locked and barred from the inside. They try their hardest to break into the temple, but come up against their greatest enemy yet… the locked door. The tiny gnome and the weak human and half elf are no match for the heavy wooden beam. Half an hour, a sliced hand, and three spells later, the door is vanquished. (Check out the animated short Vox Machina VS the Door: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kx-T1xeEBqg)
Finally inside the temple, Percy finds signs of a hasty escape, notes about a sinister weapon being built in Whitestone and evidence of someone trying to copy Percy’s gun prototype. Percy also finds his friend, Father Reinhald’s, corpse, long dead and drained of blood. A vengeful ghost haunts the temple. It viciously attacks Percy, knocking him out. Scanlan crushes the spirit with his magical Bigby’s Hand and revives Percy. They retreat back to the other members of the group.
Keyleth, still hidden underground, completes her healing ritual on the Sun Tree. She feels the last of her energy seep into the tree. Green seedlings begin to sprout but her focus falters, she accidentally sets fire to the roots of the tree. Frantically, she puts out the flames and notices that the ground is sucking the life force from the tree. The curse on the land is far stronger than she is. Vox Machina regroups and search the town for Sir Kerrion, one of the Briarwood’s generals. They find his home and sneak in. They find Sir Kerrion with his henchmen. Vox Machina take out the guards while Percy takes on Kerrion. A black smoke seeps from Percy’s eyes and gun and he is overcome with vengeful anger and mercilessly murders Kerrion before the group can stop him. They interrogate one of Kerrion’s surviving guards. He tells them of a secret entrance into the Briarwood’s tower. Grog thanks him for his service, rips his tongue out, brands the De Rolo crest into his head, and throws him out the window. Keyleth sets Kerrion’s home on fire and burns the De Rolo crest onto the roof for everyone to see.
Episode 30: Stoke the Flames
Vox Machina confront Percy about his actions and the weird black smoke that surrounded him. He explains that just after his family was murdered he had a dream where a dark entity offered him revenge and showed him how to build his weaponry. Percy slowly let the darkness gain more control, show him more weapons, but he lost control. He promises to keep in check and asks his companions to forgive his actions. They find a place to rest for the night. A fog creeps into their camp and three figures come crawling towards them. One grabs Percy as he sleeps and sinks its fangs into his neck. Vox Machina rally to take down the vampire horde. Vax narrowly avoids more neck wounds while stabbing them to death. Percy shoves a gun into a toothy maw and is disgusted by the resulting gore. Scanlan kills a vampire with his dick, because bards have that kind of power.
In the morning, Vox Machina make a plan to overthrow another Briarwood general, Count Tylieri. Percy meets an old friend of his family’s, who is amazed to see Percy alive. He reveals that Percy’s sister Cassandra survived the night of the slaughter but was captured by the Briarwoods and has been imprisoned and tortured since then. Percy’s friend encourages Vox Machina to act quickly on the Briarwood generals and he will rally the townsfolk to help. Scanlan and Vax recon Count Tylieri’s mansion while Percy and the others distract the guards and gather support from the townsfolk and tell them to watch for a sign of the De Rolo’s revolution. Scanlan polymorphs into a fly and makes his way into the mansion, lying in wait for the opportune moment to attack. On Vax’s sign, Scanlan transforms into a giant triceratops and begins to rampage through the foyer. He is quickly surrounded by armed guards and his companions move in for the attack.
Will Scanlan survive the onslaught?? Will Vox Machina’s overthrow of the Briarwoods be successful?Can Percy find and save his sister in time? Find out in the next recap of Critical Role!