A few months after we first started playing, Travis had almost gotten Trinket killed in the game. In true Grog fashion, he hit him on the little furry butt and sent him running through a room of electrical traps. Needless to say, I reacted a bit dramatically. (There may have been tears.) Afterwards, I felt like I had to explain to Matt why Vex was so protective of him. So I sent this story to him to tell how exactly she found her wonderful companion.
On the matter of Trinket:
It was shortly after Vax and I set out on our own… We had a camp just outside of town – not yet fully comfortable with staying amongst humans again – and Vax had gone into the city to sell some items he had “procured” from a village we’d recently passed through. I stayed back to watch the camp.
We were still naive adventurers and I was not as on guard as I should’ve been. Even though my father had me trained in combat, I didn’t truly believe I’d ever need it. So when two travelers stepped into camp asking if I’d share my fire, I didn’t think much of it. A man and a woman – simple hunters – who seemed friendly enough. (Now of course, I would have payed greater heed to the way their eyes lingered on me just a bit too long and the deep stain of red around their nails.)
They offered me a freshly caught rabbit to share for dinner. I accepted and offered them some of our ale and bread in return. The man pulled out a very large skinning knife and set to work. While I busied myself with pouring our drinks, they sprung. Before I understood what was happening, they had the knife to my neck and were tying my wrists behind my back. I should’ve reacted more quickly. I should never have trusted them in the first place.
They’d been following Vax and I for days. They said we were dressed too finely to be normal travelers. They could tell the elvish clothing we wore belonged to a family with a lot of money, and they wanted a share of it. I tried to tell them we had no claim to that money. Our wealthy father was probably sitting in court at that very moment, glad to be rid of us. In response, they blindfolded me, tied a foul smelling cloth over my mouth and walked me from my camp to theirs, a good ways away, deeper in the woods.
It was nightfall when the sour smell of drying blood, thick in their camp, reached my nose. I couldn’t see what was around but I heard the cry of some very large animal near me. The sound sent a shiver down my back. They shoved me into a too small cage and left. Hours passed. I was feeling very weak and very sore from the uncomfortable position I was forced to sit in. Still, I managed to wriggle the blindfold down and what I could make out in the soft darkness confirmed what I had guessed. Poachers. I could see animal skins close by and a few more cages off to the side.
The pair, however, was nowhere to be seen. With as little sound as I could manage, I ungracefully slid my wrists around to my front, pulled a pick from the hidden pocket in my shirt, and set to work on the cage’s lock. Vax had given me one of his lock picks with an order to practice getting as proficient as him. (Order? Really, brother? Who was he to order me?) I hadn’t listened – honestly, I had him if I ever needed to break in somewhere – so the process took far longer than it should have.
By the time I’d managed to open the cage door, I could see the swaying light from their lantern as they returned. No weapons on me and a cramping in my legs ensured I wouldn’t be outrunning them, so I re-closed the cage and waited.
I could hear them debating what the best course of action would be… ransom me, take my belongings then sell me to slavers, or “harvest” me for their patron… choices, choices. Once they were fully back in camp though, the lantern’s glow lent a new gravity to their conversation. The camp was a festival of horrors. What I took simply for animal skins in the darkness were full nightmares in the light.
They were poachers alright. Black market ones from the looks of it. Not only were there animal skins and organs and bones, but human ones as well. Blood and flesh were everywhere, and in the center of camp, a massive brown bear tied up and dying from a great gory wound in its belly. Again, the beast cried out in pain.
The two seemed unconcerned with the creature. Or that my blindfold was down.
In the cage, I was no threat to them. I glared at them in silence and waited.
After the woman had fallen asleep, her partner decided he wanted a closer look at me. The ale they took from our camp had him sloppy and confident. So when he stood in front of the cage door, drunkenly fumbling with his laces, I leapt forward. The door crashed open and took him out at the knees. I had his knife from his belt and into his neck before he could even respond. The woman woke upon hearing the sound, and jumped up to attack. I remember she looked confused, and truly remorseful when I pulled her companion’s hunting knife from her side.
I stood in the soft flickering light and blinked. It happened so fast. The first lives I had ever taken, and it came with what seemed like second nature to me. Why had it been so easy? I sunk down, into a ball, and cried. I may have stayed like that for hours had it not been for the cries of that great bear near me. I suddenly felt very protective of him. Such a magnificent beast, reduced to chains and torture. I walked over to him to see if I could help – but it was ghastly. Up close, the gaping wound on his underside was white with maggots and foul smelling. The poachers had removed his claws and most of his teeth, yet the poor thing was still alive. I covered my mouth in horror and knew what had to be done. I didn’t want him to suffer any longer.
It wasn’t until after the bear’s eyes were closed and I said a small prayer over his body that I saw it. The baby cub tied up just out of reach. Out of his mother’s reach.
I couldn’t just leave him. Not after I had a hand in killing his mother. So I untied him, hugged him tighter than I’d ever hugged anything, and brought him back to Vax. When he asked about where I’d been and why in heaven’s sake I had a bear cub in tow, I simply said, “You’re always finding little trinkets to take with you … well, I wanted one of my own.” And that was it. But I’ve never told him what actually happened that night.
The following tale comes from Critical Role’s very own Laura Bailey, but you get to read it now because a fan asked at the first Critical Role Live! about the team creating backstories for their characters. While you might have missed the first outing for the cast, you still have time to catch them again in Indianapolis Saturday!
This episode will feature Matt Mercer, Marisha Ray, Ashley Johnson, Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Sam Riegel, and Travis Willingham. Tickets are on sale now, so be sure to pick yours up! Merch will be available on-site at the beginning and end of show and seating is first come, first served. And who knows, you might have the question that brings out a new tale from the cast of Critical Role.
Feature Image Credit: Andy Wynn @Gallery94