Chapter 3: The Briarwood Arc
Story Arc Recap of Episodes 24-38 Part 3
Episode 34 Part 2
Grog and Pike fruitlessly try again and again to smash the glass. Acid burns through their clothes and armor as they try to climb to higher ground. Vex uses all her strength to bend one of the acid spouts to point to the ceiling. It burns through the white stone and carves a hole that Scanlan and Pike can fit through. The gnomes find the hidden tile and smash it. The acid stops pouring into the room and the glass walls lift.
Relieved to be alive, the group takes a moment to get their bearings. Vex tracks Vax and the Briarwoods through the tunnels. Percy, still angry over his sister’s betrayal, pulls his gun from its holster, ready for an attack. A purple flash of electricity sparks from the gun and black smoke pours from it. Alarmed, he inspects the gun and finds a new name inscribed on the barrel of his gun’s kill list. It’s his sister’s name. Cassandra De Rolo. His emotions in turmoil he puts the gun away and rejoins the group. Vox Machina make their way to the entrance of the Ziggurat. Tall walls surround the raised jade platform where the Briarwoods, Cassandra and Vax stand.
Pike snaps Vax out of the Briarwoods’ hold and he begins to attack them. Keyleth casts her powerful sunbeam spell and begins carving into the Briarwoods. The rest of the group launch their assault. They fight tooth and nail against the powerful vampires, dodging spells and landing heavy blows. Percy nearly falls under Lord Briarwood’s sword but is saved by Pike. Keyleth uses sunbeam to disintegrate Lord Briarwood as Lady Briarwood watches, screaming in horror. She casts a spell and vanishes from the platform.
Vox Machina capture Cassandra and begin tying her up when Vex sees Lady Briarwood out of the corner of her eye. Lady Briarwood completes a summoning ritual and an inky black orb appears on the platform. Vex flies in trying to stop Lady Briarwood but she is hit with a necrotic death spell and she plummets to the ground, motionless. Pike and Vax rush in to try and heal Vex but magic and potions no longer work in the Ziggurat. Frantic, they rush Vex’s body out of the temple walls. Percy, guided by his demon smoke raises his gun to kill Lady Briarwood, at the last second he moves his aim and blows her arm off, gravely wounding her but sparing her life. He grabs his sister and joins his companions to run away. Keyleth stays behind to try and dissipate the orb, but is almost sucked into it, only saved by a miracle natural 20 roll. Vax runs back and grabs Keyleth, they run outside the walls of the Ziggurat. Vax sees Grog cradling Vex’s body and he begs his sister to come back to them. Her eyes flutter open and she takes a breath, giving them a wry, crooked smile.
Episode 35: Denouement part 1 &2
The group makes their escape from the Ziggurat, dragging the captive Lady Briarwood and Cassandra behind them. Cassandra reveals the Briarwoods have been working for a lich king named Vecna. His resurrection ritual was interrupted by the group. Percy hypnotically raises his gun and the group realizes he is fighting for control of his mind. A dark smoke entity towers over him. His gun moves between Cassandra, Lady Briarwood, and his own head while the demon’s voice compels him to kill. He pulls the trigger but his gun breaks, still damaged from his last fight. He pulls the trigger again and again, while the group, panicked, launch an attack on the shadow. The shadow growls, Percy should not have angered Orthax, it says.
The smoke lashes into Grog and Vax and they turn on the group. Pike blasts the smoke with radiant light and reveals the sinewy, clawed form of Orthax. Using the last of their holy oil and divine magic they defeat Orthax and the shadow seeps back into Percy. Cassandra, no longer under her spell, kills Lady Delilah and throws her body into the acid trap. Percy tries to use the acid to burn Cassandra’s name off the gun. Scanlan offers to help and tosses the whole gun into the acid pool. Percy tries to dive in after the gun but Keyleth and Vex hold him back. As he struggles against them, a black plume of smoke puffs up out of the acid and Percy feels the anger melt away. Percy is thankful, but is adamant Scanlan will buy him a new gun. Scanlan reveals he still has Dr. Ripley’s stolen gun replica and he gives it to Percy.
They group finally make their way up to the entrance of the castle. They meet their friend Keeper Yennen, who tells them the uprising was successful and they have control of Whitestone again. Vox Machina tell him the Briarwoods are dead and Cassandra is rescued. Keyleth heals the Sun Tree and it begins to sprout new leaves. Grog helps rid Whitestone of any Briarwood loyalists. They town celebrate and a meager feast is thrown in their honor. Keeper Yennen asks the group to stay and help celebrate Winter’s Crest festival in Whitestone.
Episode 36: Winters Crest in Whitestone
Finally a happy fun-time episode! After all the dark, brooding vampire overlords, killing bad guys and saving the city, our heroes have the chance to let loose and celebrate. They go through all their spoils and treasures, including a wand of fireball, ring of lightning resistance and a really nice fancy robe.
Vox Machina meet Cassandra in the castle and ask her to run Whitestone in Percy’s stead. She is hesitant at first but ultimately agrees. They remove any traces of the Briarwoods, including Lord Briarwood’s possessed great-sword Craven Edge. Percy, for some insane reason, decides Grog should get Craven Edge. Grog loves his new evil, talking sword and can’t wait to take some heads off with it.
Satisfied that everything is in order Vox Machina head into town for some fun. Grog shows off his strength by lifting big heavy things in front of all the single ladies in town. Scanlan writes an epic poem of their adventures in Whitestone titled Resident Evil, and commissions a giant portrait of himself to be hung in Greyskull Keep. Grog and Scanlan participate in an arm wrestling competition and Grog loses to a woman. Vex, Vax, and their polymorphed bear Trinket, enter a pie eating contest. They drink, exchange gifts, and get ready for the next adventure.
Episode 37: A Musician’s Nostalgia
Vox Machina get ready to say goodbye to Whitestone. They must return to Emon to clear their name with Sovereign Uriel. Keyleth uses her brand new, really cool spell Transport via Plants to make a magical path from the Sun Tree in Whitestone to a tree inside Greyskull Keep. They find Pike there waiting for them. They hear someone rummaging in a bedroom upstairs and rush to see who is stealing from them. Scanlan finds their old friend Tiberius Stormwind packing all his things. Tibsy says he wishes he could stay and adventure with them but he must return home to his people in Draconia. They say their goodbyes and see him off. Vox Machina go to the Council of Emon to clear their names. Uriel absolves all their charges and returns their seat on the Council. He thanks them for freeing Whitestone. He also tells them that his council member Riskel Daxio, the elf who built Greyskull Keep, fled the city after the Briarwood’s attack. Uriel asks for Vox Machina’s help in finding him and bringing him in for questioning.
The group heads to Daxio’s home to search for clues of what he might have been up to. They find runes and glyphs that match those they found in the Ziggurat. Grog and Scanlan play good cop bad cop with Daxio’s servant Jeffery and learn he frequented the Diamond Nest Tavern. Vax’ildan recognizes this as a tavern run by The Clasp, a thieves’ guild he was once a member of. They cautiously visit the tavern, taking care to go unnoticed. Scanlan recognizes some of the musicians playing in the tavern. Dr. Dranzel, a half orc violinist, is beyond thrilled to see Scanlan again. He is travelling with a new crew of musicians that includes a spunky young gnome female named Kaylee that draws Scanlan’s eye. Dr. Dranzel asks for Scanlan’s help in breaking in and stealing some treasure from the home of ‘an old rich asshole.’ Scanlan is interested, though the rest of the group is hesitant. They want some time to think about his offer. He also tells them he has seen Daxio recently, coming from a hidden entrance below the tavern.
Scanlan and Kaylee create a distraction while the rest of the group sneak into the hidden tunnel. They make their way through traps and dark passages and find Daxio taking refuge in one of the Clasp’s hideouts. After a struggle and fight, they capture him and bring him to Uriel.
Episode 38: Echoes of the Past
Vox Machina lay the captured ex-council member Riskel Daxio at the feet of Uriel. They interrogate him for information on the Briarwood’s and their conspiracy with the Lich King Vecna. Daxio refuses to give up anything and pledges loyalty to Vecna. Uriel asks Grog to execute Daxio. Grog uses Craven Edge to take off Daxio’s head. The blade emanates a dark shadow and exhilaration overcomes Grog. Pike is worried that Craven Edge will be very dangerous for Grog to wield.
The group needs some time to recover and decide a pub crawl will be the best way to get their strength back. They have a blast stumbling from tavern to tavern. Keyleth can’t hold her liquor, but everyone likes her much better when she is drunk. Vax runs into Gilmore, who merrily buys them all food and drinks. Vax continues his flirtation with Gilmore, but then feels guilty because he is also pursuing Keyleth. He ends up breaking things off with Gilmore after confessing everything and they end the evening with a passionate kiss. They finally stumble back home and find Dr. Dranzel and his musical companions waiting for them at Greyskull Keep. Dranzel finally talks them into burgling the old mansion. Scanlan tries to seduce Kaylee and invites everyone to stay the night. She gives him a wink and a smirk and agrees to stay.
Everyone settles in for the night and Kaylee follows Scanlan into his room. She praises Scanlan for all his heroic deeds and musical prowess, saying she grew up hearing these wonderful tales from Dr. Dranzel…and from her mother, a beautiful small town gnome that Scanlan apparently had a one night stand with. It slowly dawns on Scanlan that Kaylee is his daughter. She has been seeking him, using Dr. Dranzel to get to him. She draws her sword and angrily lashes out at him. Scanlan refuses to draw a weapon against his daughter and tries to make amends with her. She drops her blade and, in tears, hugs her father. Scanlan hugs her back and apologizes for everything, saying he hopes he can be in her life. She quietly leaves the room and he is left alone to process what happened.
The group reconvene at the breakfast table the next morning and make plans to case the mansion. Kaylee still hasn’t returned from last night. Vox Machina set out to the mansion. Someone appears to be in the process of moving into the mansion. There is furniture and artwork that wasn’t there the last time the group walked through. The party wander around the room checking out the new treasures they might want. Percy and Keyleth find a humanoid Githyanki skull with an emerald embedded in its eye socket. As Percy lifts the skull to inspect it, he notices a floating spectral figure in the emerald. Creeped out, he puts it back on its pedestal facing away from them. Vex inspects an expensive tea set she plans to steal on the way out, Grog thinks he’s found evil dominoes, and Scanlan licks a wall.
Vax leads the group through the secret tunnel he remembered from their last adventure. Activating the teleportation circle, Vox Machina transport to the icy mountain cave where they last fought General Krieg, a blue dragon disguised as one of Uriel’s Council members. They cautiously make their way into the cave. Percy finds a man’s body frozen solid in the ice. Pike and Keyleth try to remove his body from the ice. Vex gets distracted by a huge pile of gold just around the corner and takes Grog with her to loot it. The ground begins trembling and tremors shake the cave. An explosions erupts from the center of the room. A massive, worm-like monster burrows its way through the ice. Towering 30 feet over Vox Machina, saliva dripping from its rows of fangs the monster lunges in for an attack.
What fresh horrors await Vox Machina? Find out in the next action packed installment of Critical Role!