Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins #2

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins #2
The cover, art by Nick Robles, featuring Grog Strongjaw and Scanlan Shorthalt against a mob of sahuagin.
Issue number2[1]
Creative team
ArtistOlivia Samson[1]
PencillerChris Northrop[2]
LettererChris Northrop[1]
Cover artistNick Robles[1]
EditorF. Avedon Arcadio Barrera II[2]
Publication information
PublisherDark Horse Comics[1]
Publication dateOctober 18, 2017[1]
Page count27[1]
Preceded byCritical Role: Vox Machina Origins #1
Followed byCritical Role: Vox Machina Origins #3

What was the name of that sorcerer?

— Scanlan

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins #2 is the second issue of Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins and the second issue of Vox Machina Origins Series I. It was written by Matthew Mercer and Matthew Colville and the art was done by Olivia Samson. The cover art was produced by Nick Robles. The issue was published by Dark Horse Comics on October 18, 2017.[1]

The issue follows Scanlan Shorthalt and Grog Strongjaw as they and their allies find themselves wrapped up in a conspiracy in the backwater swamp town of Stilben.

Publisher's summary[edit | edit source]

Scanlan and Grog loot a shark-man temple in the swamp outside Stilben. Returning to the city, they're almost killed by assassins and then almost arrested by the Watch! What the hell is going on in Stilben? And what does this pompous sorcerer want?[1]

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Grog Strongjaw, Scanlan Shorthalt, and partymates Arnicor, Thurista, and Vash are in an underground sahuagin temple to their god, Hoarmorath. Scanlan expresses his desire to ring a bell they find on a boulder, but Arnicor warns against it and Thurista threatens to Fireball him if he touches the bell. Scanlan, curious if the bell will summon a creature that they will fight and loot treasure from, asks Grog for his opinion, and Grog supposes that Scanlan should go with his gut. Scanlan jokingly thanks Grog by telling the goliath that he "want[s] to have [his] babies" and tells him to "hit it". Grog starts to pound on a small drum he is carrying as Scanlan lights a candle, places it on the rock, and rings the bell, causing the boulder to animated into a giant frog, who croaks the name Hoarmorath. Scanlan deduces that the "shark-god temple" was constructed atop an even older "frog-god temple".

Just then, two bursts of light come out from the frog's eyes, causing Grog and Scanlan to flee to a larger chamber, where the rest of the party is fighting sahuagin, where a tattooed humanoid male wearing a headdress is leading a ritual. As Scanlan flees a sahuagin that Grog quickly kills and Vash casts Fireball at a group of sahuagin. The giant frog heads straight for the tattooed humanoid male, grappling him with its tongue. The ritual leader calls out for his sahuagin brothers to aid him, for the ritual is broken, but the frog swallows him whole. Three sahuagin witnessing this stare in stunned silence, allowing Grog to behead them with one swing of his greataxe. Grog starts to exclaim to Scanlan that he has made it through the entire battle without flying into a rage, just as he is grappled by the frog, but as he is about to be reeled in, another Fireball detonates nearby, exploding the frog into bits and pieces and leaving the ritual leader prone on the ground. As Grog stands over him, greataxe in hand, the ritual leader only smiles with yells "Vengeance!" as Grog finishes him off.

After the battle is over, Grog and Vash retrieve the ruby eyes of the statue of the god, Arnicor and Thurista collect the treasure, and Scanlan remarks to readers "Now that will make a great story!".

Back at Stilben, the party discusses their adventure. Scanlan is scolded for his recklessness, but the gnome dismisses their concerns, reasoning that the party got their artifacts and loot. Vash agrees, listing a wand of lignum vitae, a pair of boots of sorcerous origin, a necklace with some arcane function, and a potion she cannot identify. Scanlan grabs the potion and heads to an alchemist's shop to get the potion identified. Inside, however, are a number of rogues from The Myriad, who all brandish their blades and glare at the gnome, who steps back out. The rogues all run outside and one yells at the party that they had interfered with their plans for the last time, but a confused Scanlan yells back that they were unaware they had ever messed with their plans in the first place.

The rogues order the party to hand the potion over, but Scanlan refuses. The rogue cryptically threatens the party that, while there is one way out of their situation, "there are a myriad of ways to die", and the rogues rush at the party. They chuck daggers, one of which is caught by Arnicor on his shield and the other slashes Vash on the side, and soon, a skirmish ensues on the docks of Stilben. During the fight, one of the rogues manages to garrote Vash by the neck, causing Grog to fly into a rage. He cuts the arm off one, guts a second, beheads a third, and, Scanlan distracts the last one by pretending that Vash has reanimated into a lich, Grog chops him down.

The battle over, Thurista laments that Vash did not deserve such an unceremonial death, as the rogues did not even try to negotiate. Scanlan jokes that he is going to write a "sternly-worded" letter to the customer service of the alchemist's shop. Arnicor wonders why the rogues attacked them, and Grog suggests that the rogues could have been working for the sahuagin. Arnicor mentions that the rogues seemed to know about them, which Thurista agrees with, noting that The Clasp runs Stilben. At the mention of the Clasp, Scanlan grabs a dagger and cuts open a hole in the leather armor of one of the dead rogues, informing his partymates that Clasp members have a tattoo between their shoulder blades. Not finding a tattoo, he wonders if the rogues did not want the temple cleared out, and Thurista wonders again who exactly the rogues are. Arnicor instructs the party that they should return to their inn. As they leave, Scanlan looks down an alley to see an area between buildings where poor civilians are at work; he asks Grog if the civilians had always looked so depressed, which Grog confirms. A concerned Scanlan mutters to Grog that Arnicor never mentioned that.

Back at the inn, Scanlan is singing about their adventure, much to the enjoyment of the other patrons. Arnicor instructs him to get over to their table, but Scanlan tells him that he is going to order drinks first. He asks the bartender for a flagon of dark ale with a chaser for him, two light ales for the "godbotherers", and a Dragon-Breath Ale for Grog. While the barkeep prepares the drinks, Scanlan is approached by a dragonborn sorcerer, asks if Scanlan is a member of the adventuring party The Wing and reveals that he has been looking for him and that he has been researching the curse affecting the swamps of Stilben. As Grog walks over to join the conversation, the dragonborn informs Scanlan that he and the party is the talk of the Peasants' Quarter and, after Scanlan asks, extends a hand outward to shake and introduces himself as "Tiberius Stormwind, from Draconia!".

Tiberius tells Scanlan that he is from the adventuring party the Four From Foramere and asks Scanlan if he knows anything about the curse, which he does not. Tiberius asks why they were fighting the Ghormauth in the swamp, and Scanlan responds by explaining that they are "pursuing a philosophy of enlightened self-interest", or, in other words, they are in it for the money. Tiberius realizes that they are mercenaries and asks if the cult is defeated, which Scanlan confirms, and Tiberius asks if the cult was sacrificing infants. Disturbed, Scanlan denies that the cult was doing such a thing, and Tiberius explains that his colleague has a theory that the "curse" is actually a poison in the water. Scanlan shows the sorcerer the vial of an unknown liquid, which Tiberius identifies as a potion of aqua caedis. Scanlan mentions that they had tried to take it to an alchemist, but they were attacked by a group of assassins. He figures that the potions was initially from some humans in the area. Tiberius explains that the potion could not have brewed, as few are capable of crafting such a potent elixir, but mentions one thieves' guild in Wildemount that favors the poison.

Tiberius asks if he can keep the vial, which Scanlan refuses, but casually mentions that he would not mind a purchase. Tiberius offers a diamond, which Scanlan accepts, and the dragonborn happily thanks him and bows. Scanlan and Grog excuse themselves and bring their drinks back to the table, where Arnicor and Thurista are suggesting cities and towns such as Kymal, Whitestone, and Ank'Harel that they could leave to. Scanlan wants to stay to enjoy his status as a hero in Stilben, but Arnicor reminds him that they were attacked and they will be back for them. Scanlan mockingly threatens to rewrite his ballad about them to portray Arnicor as a coward and rhetorically asks Arnicor and Thurista why they would want to separate and if they think they could have handled the six rogues they faced earlier by themselves. Arnicor reminds Scanlan that, as the Clasp runs the city, the only thing they can do is leave. Scanlan, exasperated, asks why the Clasp would bother to send assassins after them when they could have just sent a watchman to arrest them. Ironically, at that moment, a watchman arrives and informs the party that they are under arrest.

Arnicor asks on what charge they are under arrest for, but the watchman declines to answer. Grog crosses his arms and asks the watchman what he would do if they resist arrest, as there is only one of him, to which the watchman replies by agreeing that the bard and barbarian would be willing to resist arrest, the cleric and paladin would not. An irritates Arnicor asks the watchman so what, rhetorically asking if anyone would care if they resisted, since the populace would be more likely to side with a knight than a corrupt watchman affiliated with the Clasp. Scanlan steps forward and introduces himself to the watchman, and makes a proposition that they can perform a job for him to atone for their crimes. The watchman mentions a particular treasure in the temple of little value. Scanlan interrupts him and offers a "friendly theatrical critique" by revealing that it is obvious that this item is of intense value to him, and offers the watchman an arrangement if he would be more specific.

The watchman clarifies that he is referring to a flask of clear, nonmagical liquid, which Scanlan claims to distinctly remember. The watchman, unamused, connects that they do not have the flash with them and instructs the party to meet him at a sewer station on Coal Street and Harrow. Scanlan informs him that they require payment ahead of time, to which the watchmen rhetorically asks if the bard was attempting to bargain with him. Scanlan reminds the watchman that he is only acting in character, for he is a "charismatic gnomish minstrel", and when the watchman asks the bard what would happen should they attempt to flee with their payment, Scanlan reminds him that they would not be able to hide from the Clasp anywhere in Stilben.

With that, the deal is made, but after he leaves, Scanlan makes it clear that he is not giving the watchman the vial, but Thurista reminds him that he sold the vial to the dragonborn. Scanlan wonders if he could steal the vial back, but Arnicor interrupts him, stating that they are leaving town for Whitestone. Thurista asks Scanlan if he would want to take on the entire Clasp by himself, but Scanlan deduces that the watchman was not actually a watchman and that he was alone. Arnicor entertains the idea that the Clasp would like to know about this, and Thurista agrees, noting that if the Clasp wanted them dead, they would be dead, and that since none of the ships leaving for Whitestone leave until dawn, they will have to deal with the watchman inevitably. As they depart the tavern, the party discusses their plan: with the four hours they have, Grog and Scanlan will scout out the sewer station they are to meet the watchman at, and Arnicor and Thurista will head for the docks to book passage to Whitestone.

As they head for the sewers, Scanlan and Grog speculate about the curse affecting the people of Stilben, which Grog suggests could be a poison. Scanlan remarks that poisoning the waters is a rather strange thing to do and wonders what that sorcerer's name was.

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