Session Notes: 14 October 2021
Chapter 2: A Different World
Location: New Vasselheim, Othanzia, Issylra
Date: 1 Sydenstar 845 PD (calendar of Exandria: https://criticalrole.fandom.com/wiki/Calendar_of_Exandria)
Rinn Shrike: half-elf sorcerer/rogue
Stubby deRolo: half-elf artificer
Tāmarai: gnome bard
Absent Party Members:
Bob the Therapist: changeling warlock with a couch for a familiar
Tunk: bugbear monk
Previously on Yeeted & Yoinked…
The group of four learned not to open magical things hastily, because they might go BOOM.
They visited the Raven’s Crest, temple to the Raven Queen in Old Vasselheim. Stubby had a nice tête-a-tête with the Matron of Ravens Herself, after which they all descended into the catacombs. They fought rat swarms, annoyed a gelatinous cube, and extracted a package from inside it which held armor, a cursed shield, and a skull positively awash in necrotic energy. They then found a room containing two chests beside a dais, one on top, and a chest in a pool of water. Wild Magic antics overcome, they opened a locked box and found the Raven’s Feather dagger. They then took a short rest to recover some of their physical and mental reserves.
The Adventure Continues
Tāmarai has a peek down the northeast corridor. Lava. In the southern corridor is T-intersection; there’s a dark room with some rubble in it to south; to the east is a long hallway containing an altar or dais or something in there. She returns to pass out snacks amongst the group, then use Identify on the things they’ve found so far.
Stubby investigates the pool of water and chest inside, eyeing it over from different angles. She throws a pebble into it and they hear the little plink as it strikes the water’s surface. The water isn’t static, it’s flowing, and this is just an offshoot of whatever the source is. But it’s emanating illusion magic. Whether it’s because the chest is an illusion, or because something inside it is illusory, Stubby’s heard at least one tale of “honey pots” that draw adventurers in and trap them there, or kill them and eat them. They decide to let it be. [Out of character information: Long after leaving this behind, the DM said it was a mimic, so we made a good decision! Hurrah!]
The group decide that the way to go is the room containing the altar-like thing. Stubby lets Aegea out of her wrist gauntlet to follow them and give periodic boots to their personal defenses, then looks for traps as they proceed. There don’t seem to be any. The rubble in this room turns out to be bones, mostly dragonborn and actual dragon. The floor is much, much warmer than it was in other rooms — not hot enough to burn Fisch’s feet, but more like height-of-summer warmth. The Raven Queen’s symbol is carved onto the ground.
Four tombs have tiny plaques or name plates for specific people. Names on two of the 4 tombs are “freshly” carved (legible); two are less so. One of the latter is one of the Raven Queen’s champions; another is newer, legible, but not recognizable. A third contains items from multiple people, buried with just one body: Vax’s under-armor, donated by Vex after her brother’s ascension to the Raven Queen’s side. The last one is some random person that they can’t read, and probably wouldn’t be able to identify if they could.
Just as Fisch goes “*sniff sniff* Hey…” Tam and Stubby notice there are somethings in this room with them. Two “squids” fall from ceiling. The party had thought they were stalactites. Darkness flows out of them like steam or fog. These are darkmantles.
In the ensuing battle, Stubby uses Tasha’s Caustic Brew, Rinn uses his daggers and lightning, Fisch is a boss with his glaive, and Tāmarai mostly gives inspiration and assistance here and there while staying mostly out of the range of harm herself. That is, other than the one time she gets engulfed by a darkmantle — but Fisch does too, so she’s not really embarrassed about that. Fisch gets them back, anyway.
When the four are left alone in the room, Tāmarai uses Detect Magic and takes a long look around. She spots a glow coming from one of the drawers in the wall. It’s Old Magic. Old, holy magic. The name “Sartine” is on the plaque, and Tāmarai remembers reading this name in an old naming book. It’s a given name that was in use even before the Calamity. Stubby remembers hearing about the Skull of Sartine, a former Champion of the Raven Queen. The skull was said to be imbued with magic to assist those who seek to fulfill the Raven Queen’s ideals and plans. It shows up to help the Raven Queen’s people, then vanishes when its task is complete. There are absolutely no traps around this sarcophagus, so Rinn opens the tomb and Stubby reaches in for the Skull.
Stubby: Hello? Miss Sartine, can we speak to you please?
Bones: *feel warm, like person*
Sartine, speaking into Stubby’s mind: Who has the strength to wield the last remnant of Sartine, handmaiden to the Raven Queen?
Stubby: Lady Victoria Viqul Elaina Vessar-deRolo …but you can call me Stubby.
Sartine, this time audible to all: You stand in the armor of the RQ, with her knife. Tell me your thoughts on death.
Stubby: I mean, death is… inevitable? It’s natural.
(A feeling of acceptance washes over Stubby.)
Sartine: Yes. And your… friends. Those who walk beside you.
Stubby: Very much alive.
Sartine: Do you stand against Orcus? [all nod] I will aid you. You may wield me.
(They all feel just a little bit safer, and Stubby gets an immediate lore dump of all the Raven Queen’s Champions and everyone buried here. She goes a bit bluescreen for a moment, then…)
Stubby: Any chance you know where Kas is buried? We were told to seek the sword.
Sartine: You are those who walk two roads. You see that which should be, and that which is ill-fated. You know the truth, then: that Kas was killed, that his sword was found by those called Vox Machina and was sent to another realm. But you also know that there is a place where this did not happen. That place can be found. The room to the side, that has the lava running through it: past there is Kas.
Stubby: Do you know what that is [pointing at the dais/altar room]?
Sartine: You speak of the altar upon which bodies are processed and prepared for entombment. It bears the blood of generations of champions. Not mine, however. I am here because I was called to be here by my Raven Mistress. I understand now why, and I will be with you until I am no longer needed.
(She sends them all a mental image: woman, maybe early 20s, but rode hard and put away wet. She wears the Raven Queen’s Champion armor, like Vax did, and has a sword. This is Sartine.)
Stubby uses her four Immovable Object infused items plus her bedroll to make a bridge for them all to go across the lava and into the room with Kas’s sword.
There is an enchantment on a stone statue of someone inside, holding a (real, not stone) sword. Rubble, cobwebs, pile of bones pulled out of the wall behind.. Someone was looking for something. There are two statues of dogs, or maybe sphinxes, or. Well, whatever, it’s too degraded to tell. A young man stands in front of them, perhaps somewhere between Stubby’s and Rinn’s ages. He wears old, worn half-plate armor, carries a shield in one arm, with a longsword and a shortsword strapped to his waist. He turns towards the group
Man: Ah! You also have found your way! Are you also here for the sword?
[Insight checks: This person sounds sincere and delighted to see people, but there’s something sketchy about him, has the feeling of someone keeping a big secret.]
Stubby: Hi! What’s your name?
Man: Oh, how rude of me! I’m Kas from Tycheron. My master created a special sword just for me, so I could lead his army! Me! Kas! I wouldn’t have expected to see Lord Arkhan. Me, myself! My master has all sorts of plans to bring peace to the land by defeating the Empress! You’re not supporters of the Empress, are you?
The four: Nooo.
Tāmarai works around behind Stubby & Fisch, summoning a Mage Hand just behind the statue, out of sight. She tries to make Kas think that they want to destroy the sword so that he can get back to his own time and complete his task. He doesn’t buy it. Mage Hand works the sword out of the stone statue’s hand. A suit of animated armor jumps out of the sarcophagus at the group, wearing the same armor as Kas, only older and considerably more damaged.
Sartine, in each of their heads: You will need my strength to destroy the sword. Lava alone will not be sufficient.
Kas: YOU WOULD TAKE MY SWORD!!!!?
Kas attacks. He was only testing them to see if they would help him and his master, Vecna.
The fight is a hard one. Kas is a very skilled swordsman who does not underestimate the adventurers, and even says aloud during the battle that they are worthy foes. Stubby and Rinn are both accomplished at physical fighting, and they’re no slouches with spells either; Fisch is the best fighter out of all four of them; Tāmarai again goes about giving inspiration to Stubby (“Children of Vox Machina: fuck shit up!” — someone will have to explain to her what those words mean later; P!nk’s “So What?”) but also Hold Person, which thus far has not let her down. Sartine also assists Stubby, redirecting Stubby’s new dagger, Raven’s Feather, to great effectiveness and helping her achieve the killing blow.
As he dies, Kas changes. He is no longer a teenager, but a grizzled, battle-worn old asshole who’s missing both hands and one eye, lying bloodied on the floor. With his dying breath he recommits himself. “I renounce Vecna. Destroy the sword. Win.”
Then there is only silence, and the sound of running, bubbling lava.
Sartine speaks to Stubby: Take the sword, and me, back to the altar.
Stubby high fives Rinn on the way out, “That was awesome, Firefly.”
The four, plus Sartine, make their way back to the Room of Sacrifice. Generations upon generations of blood stain this room. This is where bodies are prepared; the blood is drained and the bodies are wrapped and entombed; the blood somehow goes into the pool at the Raven’s Crest here (theoretically there’s a similar arrangement at the Raven Queen’s new temple in New Vasselheim as well). Since the creation of this temple, that is what this room has been for: the preparation of the dead for burial. All alike — rich and poor, good and evil, old and unfortunately young — receive the same care and respect, whether or not they showed those qualities to others in life. Their bodies were once created to house souls, and that renders them holy even after being vacated by those souls. The most respectful, honorable way to find peace after death is here. The sheer majesty and holiness of the room feels primal and pure.
Stubby sets skull and sword on altar, arranged in the pose Sartine first struck in her vision. “Please, Lady, we need your help.”
Sartine: I will help you. True destruction comes only at the hand and eye of Vecna, for it was he who made this sword. However, I can remove the false sword from this time. I can remove the enchantment that brings it here, and then your plan of the lava shall work. If I do this, you will not see me again.
Tāmarai: It would be lovely to see you again, but we have a task to perform. Yes, we wish it.
Sartine: And you who wields me?
Stubby: For the safety of all and the glory of the Raven Queen. Yes.
Sartine: That was the right answer. I will remove the holy essence that keeps it in this place, and then the lava will be effective.
The skull “explodes.” Kas’s sword is now clean, with no blood on it, and it feels and looks weaker. Fragile. Cracked. The skull of Sartine is gone completely, not even leaving dust behind: off to serve her Queen once more, in some other place.
Stubby holds the blade of Kas over the flow of lava. Leans over. Drops it in. Lava licks upward greedily, drawing the blade down into itself. The sword vanishes. A moment passes. Another. An eruption of blinding light. The four all step back. Heat washes over them…
…and then they all stand in the altar room again. Also standing there is a big, feathered hominid, lithe and lean, in feathered armor and a matching mask. It reaches up and removes the mask.
They all recognize the face, sort of, but it’s just a little off. It looks like if Stubby was a man, maybe a few years older. In fact, he looks far more like Stubby than the Empress does. Older, harder, expressionless. Hand lowers to side, and a wry, fae quirk comes to his lips, and it looks just as at-home on him as the expressionlessness of just a second ago. “Well done, niece.” Stubby runs up to hug him; both Vax’s arms and his wings hug her back. “I am so proud to call you family.” Kneels. “I am afraid your work is not yet done. All of you, you know the empress’s desire. She wishes to kill all in Whitestone, to make you suffer. But you have allies here, little one. Outside the city you will find those who will help you foil her plan. But I am afraid that my sister, your family, cannot come to aid you. My Raven Mistress cannot tell you what she does not know. She sees the end of all things, but not necessarily their beginnings. This flaw, this hole in the universe of time, was beyond her sight. What happens…” closes eyes, looks down “Please do not be mad at your mother. Not the one who cursed you, nor the one who waits for you at home. What caused my sister to do these things… She lost our mother, she lost me, and then she lost you. For the Vex that caused this, her life ended in regret. I can tell you what became of her if you wish to know, but the story… It is darker than any evil we fought.”
Stubby replies, “I don’t need to know, because it wasn’t her. It wasn’t real. That wasn’t my mother.”
Vax responds. “Then all you must know is this. When the Vex’ahlia of that other time failed in her quest to bring you back, it was her granddaughter who swore to finish the job, but it took more generations to find this moment in time when Vecna was destroyed and to use the power of that moment to come here and do the things the empress has done. But you have a power she does not. Within you is the secret. You can go home and return here. Seek the chains of the king, and the bindings that failed.”
“No, don’t go!” Stubby pleads with her uncle.
“I cannot stay. I have duties that call me.” Vax seems at least a little regretful about this. “But I will always protect you when I can.”
“At least meet my friends! I told them I’d introduce you!”
“I know their names.” He turns to each one, giving them a look both searching and approving. “Rinn Shrike of Wildemount. Hanafusa no Tāmarai Shikomi from the Xhorhasian Empire. And the one who will interest your mother the most: Hello, *roar-name of Fisch*.
Fisch’s delight at hearing his own name-story never gets old. Nor does his big, pleased smile. “Ohhhh… Hi.”
Vax smiles back at him. “Trinket will be so delighted.” He kisses Stubby’s forehead. “Be brave. Be a little crazy.”
Steps back, wings extend around all of us. Cold, comforting. Like snow. As one, the four all realize their heroes’ journeys will end. They see a future in which they are all grown, successful, mature, greying, smiling. Everything is dark and calm, and as the vision clears, they stand in the canyon where the temple once stood, at ground level. Vax is gone, and each each holds two copper coins in hand. (Apparently that is the gift, in Vasselheim.) Rinn’s is etched with Kord’s symbol, Stubby’s with the Raven Queen’s, Fisch’s of Melora, and Tāmarai’s has a dodecahedron on the face, and the Eye of Ioun on the other.
Somewhere on the other side of the world, Vex is still yelling at her brother to give her back “MY BOOTS!”
It’s about 8pm, on the first day of Sydenstar. More time has passed than they realized. The four decide to trek on back to Melora’s garden and house.
On the way back, Fisch asks, “Who is Trinket?” and both he and Rinn get to hear Stubby talking about her eldest brother, with so much love in her voice.
Take your meds.
Don’t forget to love each other.
Is it Game Day yet?
Each party member received coins, given by the various deities and their representatives. Osysa/Ioun, Raven Queen, Vax/Raven Queen, Oren/Kord. Stubby and Tāmarai have two each, and Rinn has three thanks to the extra he got from Oren/Kord. One of Rinn’s (a medallion, actually, not a coin; he’s wearing it) and one of Stubby’s “hold” questions. That is, the keeper of the coin can hold it while thinking their one question, and receive an answer. Tāmarai doesn’t have one of those. That’s okay, she doesn’t need one, she can research, it’s fine, it’s FINE, see if I care! 😉