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Pre-Show[]

AABRIA: Hello, and welcome to Exandria Unlimited. I am your GM, Aabria Iyengar, and with me are the coolest kids that don't have a group name. Putting y'all on blast up top. We love that for you.

MATT: Oh, cool.

AABRIA: So before we get into it, yeah.

MATT: We'll work on it.

AABRIA: Yep. Cool, cool, cool. So let's do a round of introductions before we get into it! Robbie!

ROBBIE: I am Robbie! Robbie Daymond, that is, and I am playing a Dorian Storm, the air genasi bard here to rock your world.

AIMEE: Where's the facial hair?

ROBBIE: Gone! (laughter)

ASHLEY: Oh, that's what's different!

ROBBIE: Mm-hmm.

AIMEE: Right?

ASHLEY: I was like, "What is going on here?"

AABRIA: Amazing.

ASHLEY: Face hair.

ROBBIE: It's gone.

AABRIA: Yeah. Liam.

LIAM: Hi, I'm Liam O'Brien. I am Orym of the Air Ashari, the canonically shortest member of the to-be-named party of ExU.

AABRIA: Mister has some objections to that, but we'll allow it.

LIAM: He's more of a sidekick or a pet or--

ALL: Ooh!

AABRIA: New target! Hey. Hey Dariax, how's it feel to have that target completely off your back now?

MATT: I'll win it back.

ANJALI: Ooh, yeah.

AABRIA: All right, all right.

ASHLEY: Oh, that's not going to go well for you.

LIAM: You got to always have one cast member who hates the animal.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: I never stopped, but yeah. (laughter)

LIAM: I don't know, you softened last time.

AABRIA: Yeah, you did.

MATT: Yeah. It's called a character arc, Liam, come on. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Hi, I'm Ashley Johnson. I play Fearne Calloway, the satyr druid of the fey realm.

AIMEE: Yes.

AABRIA: Anj, you're up.

LIAM: Sparkle.

ANJALI: (squeaky voice) Hello! I do not talk like this, I don't know why I just did. (laughter)

ANJALI: And take two. Hi, I'm Anjali Bhimani, and I play Fy'ra Rai, the fire genasi monk of indeterminate background.

AABRIA: That was spicy and I liked it. Matt, follow that.

ANJALI: Just like me, I'm spicy.

MATT: Okay, hi, I'm Matthew Mercer. I play Dariax, the dwarf sorcerer. And that's not how he sounds at all. But yeah.

AIMEE: (like Matt) Hi, I'm Aimee Carrero. (normal voice) Hi, I'm Aimee Carrero, I play Opal, a hexblade warlock, who's-- went through it last time. She's back from the dead and ready to flirt. (laughter)

AIMEE: Or from being unconscious.

AABRIA: Almost dead.

AIMEE: Almost dead.

AABRIA: There's always this week.

ANJALI: I'm not dead!

LIAM: Just mostly dead.

AIMEE: She's mostly dead, but now she's back, it's going to be great.

AABRIA: It's fine. Nothing bad will ever happen to her again. (laughs nervously) Anyway, these episodes are pre-taped. So we're going to throw it to future cozy, comfy Matt for some announcements, take it away, Comfy Matt!

MATT: Thank you, Aabria. Now this episode is sponsored by our friends over at Hit Point Press and their new Cubeamajigs campaign. Cubeamajigs are reusable gaming packs for trading card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon that recreate the experience of opening a sealed pack of cards. Additionally, they've launched the Podamajig, a storage box made for Cube, Commander, and Card collections. Now Podamajigs have a capacity for over a thousand double-sleeved cards and can also hold nine double-sleeved Commander decks with spare room for tokens. Go to CubeTCG.com to check out Cubeamajigs today. And also thank you so much for joining us live on Twitch and YouTube. To join in our live and moderated community chat, please head on over to our Twitch channel. And we're delighted to announce our newest Darrington Press project: The Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, coming soon. The original campaign setting, which has been out of print for quite a while, brought the continent of Tal'Dorei to Fifth Edition, and now we're excited for it to be reborn. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn revises and significantly expands upon the original with writing by Hannah Rose, James Haeck, and myself. It contains tons of new content, including four all-new subclasses and a slew of updated subclasses for play in Exandria and beyond, stat blocks for each member of Vox Machina and over 100 new illustrations and maps. For more information on Tal'Dorei Reborn and other Darrington Press projects, visit DarringtonPress.com. And back to you, Aabria.

AABRIA: Matthew, I didn't think that you would be able to pull off a stiletto manicure like that, but it looks so good on you. And the art was so detailed and intricate. It was really nice.

ASHLEY: I loved that.

AIMEE: Really nice.

AABRIA: I love that for you.

ASHLEY: Super into it.

MATT: Super jealous of comfy Matt. I can't wait to meet him, and trade tips.

AIMEE: I loved all the hand motions like this.

AABRIA: There's a lot of grabbing.

AIMEE: Thank you-- thanks for sponsoring us. We love it.

LIAM: Lot of gesticulation.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LIAM: Some might think too much, but I thought it was appropriate.

AABRIA: I think you were just on the right side of it.

ASHLEY: Just the right amount.

MATT: I paint for the back row, so it's going to be-- (laughter)

AABRIA: And you certainly did this time. (laughter)

AABRIA: And we love that for you.

MATT: I hate this.

AABRIA: Yay! I love it so much. And with Matt's utter embarrassment under our belt, we can begin tonight's episode of Exandria Unlimited. (dramatic music)

Part I[]

AABRIA: Cool. The five of you made your way south from Emon, and you, led by Fearne's instincts, ended up at the portal that she used to cross from the Feywild into Exandria proper. While you were there, the portal began to shimmer, and things began to move and come through, and before a true fight could break out, you were intercepted by a strange woman of flame and great purpose named Fy'ra Rai, who believed with her entire being that she was meant to be with you and to lead you wherever you need to go. Y'all fought some shit. You beat it. And you met some elves from Syngorn that had taken it upon themselves to try to drain the world of this excess energy using these large spikes run through with channels of residuum. You continued on your path farther south and made it to Opal's hometown of Byroden. just in time for a festival and maybe the most amazing pageant that this little town by the side of the road at the edge of the world has ever seen. You crushed it, you cooperated, you made some new friends, and Opal was able to shine once more for not only her hometown, but for everyone.

AIMEE: She get a crown?

AABRIA: Yeah, you got a crown.

AIMEE: Okay.

AABRIA: You got it. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Put that in my inventory.

AIMEE: Yes! I've got a cheap gold tiara.

AABRIA: Do me a favor. Roll a d20 for me.

MATT: (silly voice) Does it require attunement?

AIMEE: 15.

AABRIA: 15 of the little gems have fallen out just in the-- (laughter)

AABRIA: You can stick them back in, but those prongs are just like-- Getting them back in there is not great.

AIMEE: Anybody have glue?

ROBBIE: That's funny.

ANJALI: Someone's got Krazy Glue around here.

AABRIA: If you move fast, no one will see the gaps. You're fine.

AIMEE: Yeah, okay, okay. I feel that she's still wearing it, whatever we're doing now.

AABRIA: Yeah. Speaking of whatever you're doing now. I will bring you back up speed in Byroden. So you know the road lays ahead of you, and this is the last bit of civilization before you hit the Mornset Countryside and then the Rifenmist Peninsula proper. So, what do you want to do?

MATT: Hey. Fy'r. So we were talking a while back there in the forest and mentioned the Ruins of Qoniira, right? It's the thing that we're supposed to be doing. I wasn't really paying attention, but it seems important. You seemed like you recognize something. Is there a thing here we should know about? Is it made of fire? Is it super dangerous? Is it where you were born? Is it a castle? I haven't been this far south, so I'm a little confused.

ANJALI: Well, in fairness, you seem to be a little confused much of the time.

MATT: You're not wrong.

ANJALI: But I will say this. Qoniira is a very... special set of ruins, and... it will want to know what you want of it. So set your mind, set your intention, set it clearly, and all we become clear to you as we get closer.

MATT: I missed the last part there. (laughter)

ANJALI: And she just pulls her cloak over her fire hair and turns and moves away.

MATT: Ooh, what's over there?

AIMEE: Wait, a little crown housekeeping, I left it. I left the crown on Ted's side of the bed.

AABRIA: That's right.

AIMEE: Okay.

AABRIA: Okay. That's right.

AIMEE: So she's not wearing the crown, but she's missing it. Her head misses it.

AABRIA: Yeah.

AIMEE: Okay.

MATT: Wherever it is, 15 stones fell out.

AABRIA: Yeah. (laughter)

AIMEE: She might've pocketed one of the stones before she left.

ANJALI: So we're actively--

AABRIA: Yes, you are.

ANJALI: This is the next day and we are actively on our way.

AABRIA: I just wanted to give you the opportunity, if there's anyone you wanted to say goodbye to. I don't know what you guys got up to and some of y'all were extraordinarily cute last time. So I'm just trying to give you an option. If you're trying to hit, I'm not getting in your way.

ANJALI: I do feel like Fy'ra would be-- I'm checking on everyone, like the mama wolf that I am, but I'm also very aware that-- I've enjoyed that they all had a good time.

AIMEE: Aw.

ASHLEY: I think I had about 14 whiskeys and milk. (laughter, retching)

ASHLEY: But I feel fine.

ANJALI: You are a wonder.

ASHLEY: Thank you.

MATT: Can I say that I dropped 10 gold on just stocking up on pies?

AABRIA: Yes.

MATT: All right, all right.

AABRIA: 100%.

LIAM: No more.

AABRIA: 10 gold's worth of pie is so much pie.

LIAM: No more. No more. No more.

MATT: I'm just filling bags with them, like: All right, we got food for the road for at least three days, so.

AIMEE: Three days?

MATT: Or a week. I mean, I don't know how all you eat. I know you're a hungry one. So we got this.

LIAM: He just gets up and walks out and starts practicing again outside. For an hour straight because I know we're about to go off the grid.

AIMEE: Hmm.

ASHLEY: I don't know, is there anything else that we should get?

ANJALI: Opal.

AIMEE: Yeah?

ANJALI: I'm very proud of you and what you did last night for your people.

AIMEE: Thank you.

ANJALI: Is there anything you need to do for you?

AIMEE: I don't know, I mean-- I left my crown, left my sister, wherever she is, said bye to everybody I need to say bye to. No, I think I'm ready to go. Why, is there something you feel like in the magic I need to do? Because, like, do you get a sense? I mean, you know about that stuff.

ANJALI: The only sense I get is that I understand siblings, and there is something more to you than just, "My sister, whatever she is." So.

AIMEE: Well, here's the thing. I mean, it's kind of complicated, but-- I don't know. I just don't know what she wants. You know? I don't know what she wants from me. And I'm just sick of it. But also I know she's helping. So I don't want to make her mad, but at the same time, I also want her to get her own life, and it sounds like she has. She got out. So, like-- Yay.

ANJALI: Hmm. Hmm. Okay.

ROBBIE: Well, I, for one, know I'm going to miss your town. Charming, hospitable, and I'm going to miss this. And he's sort of clutching his chiffon, his outfit from the other night. He's got his regular adventuring gear back on. And I'm going to-- Is there someone I should return this to?

AIMEE: No, you should just keep it. You're part of the winning team. I feel like you should just keep it.

ROBBIE: No, I couldn't possibly.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

ROBBIE: Well, thank you. And then he just puts it back into his bag. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I wish we could have met some of your family.

AIMEE: Yeah. They're a lot. I mean-- If you guys are interested, I mean, I could probably get my dad to come say bye, but--

AABRIA: Make a charisma saving throw for me.

AIMEE: That is a 13.

AABRIA: With a 13, you don't notice it as you're talking. Everyone else, you see that the little opal in the hand pendant at her neck begins to glow and pulse with just a little bit of light.

AIMEE: But honestly, my dad is kind of a lot, you know what I mean? It's just a lot. I don't know if that's what you--

ANJALI: Opal--

AABRIA: The clasp breaks.

AIMEE: (gasps) Oh my god.

AABRIA: Falls from your throat.

AIMEE: Oh my god! That's my necklace. Well, I have to get it fixed, right?

ASHLEY: It's glowing. What does that mean?

AIMEE: I don't know. I mean, sometimes it's Ted trying to say something to me, but she's just usually so annoying that she'll just pop up, but-- Ted?

ASHLEY: Does she talk to you through there?

AIMEE: Well, I guess so. Ted?

MATT: Dariax takes his pendant and goes like: Hello?

AABRIA: Make a wisdom saving throw.

ASHLEY: Do you have a sibling in there as well?

MATT: 18.

AABRIA: You lean in really close, and you hit just that right angle that you can hear your own stomach growl.

MATT: (gasps) Stomach. Pies.

AIMEE: So do you feel like I should get it fixed? I don't know.

ROBBIE: Dariax, you're pretty handy. Do you think you could fix it?

MATT: I mean, my experience with jewelry usually involved just taking it. So I don't know if I'd be helpful for this circumstance. I mean, you know your town better than we do. If you got somebody who's a jeweler, maybe we can repair it a bit?

ASHLEY: I have an idea.

AIMEE: Yeah?

ASHLEY: If you don't mind.

AIMEE: Oh, here.

ASHLEY: I'll take it and on each end, I'll just tie a little bit of a ribbon on each side and-- A pink one.

AIMEE: Aw.

ASHLEY: It's a little iridescent.

AIMEE: Thank you.

AABRIA: Make an arcana check while you're fiddling with it.

ASHLEY: Ooh. Okay. That is a 21.

AIMEE: Ooh.

AABRIA: My goodness. You are very focused on the clasp on the top of this, and eventually your hand slips down and touches the pendant at some point, and you're immediately hit with this burst of warmth of-- It feels like a hug from your Nana. That sense of covering and protecting and warmth.

ASHLEY: This is such a wonderful piece of jewelry. It's so loving and so happy and--

AIMEE: Yeah, it can be, sometimes.

ASHLEY: Well, here.

AIMEE: Thanks.

AABRIA: And you put it back on your neck, and the stone has gone cold. Petulantly.

AIMEE: Yeah, warm?

AABRIA: It gets a little colder.

AIMEE: Oh. I feel like Opal is just really resistant to any kind of real talk about her family. But a part of her is worried, like, where is my sister? She's not here. But I don't know if she would say that to the group out loud.

ANJALI: Can I do a perception check?

AABRIA: Yeah, absolutely. What are you trying to figure out?

ANJALI: I'm trying to figure out if I need to tell her to have this conversation.

AABRIA: Make it an insight check instead.

ANJALI: Well, either way, it's the same number, so. 23.

AABRIA: Yeah. You-- It's a twin thing, I guess. There's just something about that fated pair, and you see the thread connecting. You envision it in your own sense of insight, your own connection to your sister, and you see that same struggle, that static.

ANJALI: And as I see that, I begin to rub my forearm. Opal.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ANJALI: I don't know much about you and your sister, but I do know if there is anything you have to do or anything you have to say-- You don't know how long this life is, or how short. Do it now.

AIMEE: In front of everybody?

ASHLEY: You don't have to, if you would like to--

ANJALI: We can step away.

MATT: Yeah, I got some business to take care of.

AIMEE: No, no, it's fine. She taps it. Hey, Ted. Look, I know I was a bitch last time. But--

LIAM: (sneezes)

ASHLEY: Bless you.

AIMEE: I hope you're not sick-- was that you? (laughter)

AABRIA: It feels just a little sticky, for some reason.

AIMEE: Well, look, I hope you're not sick. Also, thanks for the powers and for giving them back and for being forgiving, and also-- Where are you?

AABRIA: Make an arcana check for me.

AIMEE: Oof. That is a three.

AABRIA: You sort of speak out and reach out in that way that has always connected you to whatever is the bond between you. And though you don't feel barred from her, there really isn't an answer right now. You're not sure why.

AIMEE: Okay, if you're giving me the silent treatment, that's really petty. But if you're not and you're in danger, let me know, because actually I've gotten pretty good at my daggers and I think I've gotten pretty good at my magic, too. And I've got some great friends that can maybe help. So just let me know. But if you are giving me the silent treatment, just know that I hate it, but I love you. Bye.

AABRIA: The stone warms up in your hands and you're not sure if that was a sign from Ted or just how body heat works.

AIMEE: Okay, but a different sign, like thunder or something. Okay. Bye.

ROBBIE: That's pretty special thing you have.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ROBBIE: A lot of us have family or friends or people we care about where we're from, but out here we're all alone, and you have something that connects you to someone special.

AIMEE: I know I should feel that way, but sometimes, doesn't it feel good to be alone? Make your own way?

ROBBIE: Yes.

MATT: Yeah.

ANJALI: No.

AIMEE: No?

ANJALI: No.

AABRIA: On that note, I think I'm going to sort of sweep you all back together and put you on the road south, through the Mornset Countryside, where farm way gives way to wild land. And Fy'ra, I'm assuming you're taking point on this. There's still roads. There's no sense of the road down through to where you know they need to go, but you can keep the glitter shitter. (laughter) For now. And continue to head south. I'm assuming the diaper's still on it?

ROBBIE: Oh, did I diaper it? Yeah, I'm going to make it part of our road trip routine. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

LIAM: Man, though. Byroden was the shit. I'm going to miss it. (laughter)

ANJALI: Now that would have been a good time to use the glitter shitter, was in your pageant.

AIMEE: Oh my, why didn't we think of that?! Next year, we're all using the glitter shitter.

MATT: We're doing this again. This is an annual thing.

AIMEE: Yes. Yeah!

ANJALI: As we are riding-- was that-- were you--

AABRIA: Yeah, keep going.

ANJALI: As we are riding, I just very gently, not full tilt, but just very gently lower my eyelids a little bit and raise my eyes underneath them.

AABRIA: Make a wisdom saving throw for me.

ANJALI: Five? (laughter)

ANJALI: I mean, my first shit roll, I think.

AIMEE: Yeah.

AABRIA: Hey!

ANJALI: Yay me. (laughter)

AABRIA: There's still time, don't worry.

ANJALI: Just not the timing of it. (laughter)

AABRIA: You close your eyes and you try to reach out for that place to discover some extra bit of insight to have an affirmation of your path, and the wheels of the wagon lurch over a massive stone in what passes for a road at this point.

ASHLEY: Whoa! (laughter)

AABRIA: And you can't quite give yourself over. But-- That little bit in you that before you knew what your instinct was, before you knew what that capital-G Gift was, you always trusted it. And it knows, you know, that you're on the right path. But it's going to get harder.

ANJALI: I also know that I'm preoccupied after Opal and her sister and thinking of my own. And how that is.

ASHLEY: Do any of you guys have any siblings? Did I already ask you this? I can't remember.

AIMEE: It's all that whiskey and milk.

ASHLEY: I'm all fuzzy.

ROBBIE: We talked a bit about our families.

LIAM: I don't.

ASHLEY: You do not.

LIAM: No.

ROBBIE: I have a brother.

ASHLEY: You have a brother, that's right.

LIAM: Older or younger?

ROBBIE: Older.

MATT: Yeah, me, too.

AIMEE: Wow.

ROBBIE: Really?

MATT: Yeah, Taros. Yeah, he's a bit of a dick, but you know, we get along all right, I guess.

ROBBIE: Dariax, I don't think you've ever talked about anything personal ever.

MATT: Yeah, no, that's about right.

ROBBIE: Well, tell us about your brother.

MATT: Oh, yeah, no. He's about two inches taller than me. He was the workhorse in the farm, you know, very much the one stepping in the same family path. Overall kind of a good guy. We just got into scuffles here and there, you know. I guess I was a troublemaker growing up, and he had to put out a lot of fires that I set, figuratively, literally. Yeah, we haven't talked in a while since I left the Turst Fields, you know, just bouncing around Tal'Dorei and such, but you know, we're cool. He's just, I don't know. If he was the tree that stayed there, I'm the rock that people keep throwing. So you know, our paths just diverged. That's a weird analogy, but yeah, you get the gist of it.

ASHLEY: I liked it because it was very visual and I understood it.

MATT: Oh, great, yeah, see, same page.

ASHLEY: Yes.

MATT: Much better with pictures.

AIMEE: Who's throwing the rock?

MATT: Yeah, no, it was a bad analogy. You're right. You guys are throwing the rock, I guess. If I'm the rock, you're throwing me. You know, around, physically sometimes. I throw myself forward, probably to a problematic level. But yeah, it gets me to fun places like here with you guys, near a big scary jungle. So it worked out okay in the end.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Speaking of which, how much farther do we have to go?

AABRIA: Survival check.

ROBBIE: Hmm?

AABRIA: Survival check. (laughter)

ANJALI: 21.

AABRIA: If you're lucky, it'll take a month.

AIMEE: Ooh!

AIMEE: Well, maybe we should talk about what are we going to call ourselves?

MATT: Well--

ANJALI: Call yourselves?

MATT: Call ourselves?

AIMEE: Yeah, like a group--

ANJALI: Are you not called Opal?

AIMEE: Oh, no. Yes, I mean us together, like a band. A band of adventurers.

LIAM: Are we that far along?

AIMEE: Yes?

LIAM: Maybe we are.

AIMEE: No? Is there a time limit, or?

LIAM: Whenever, I don't know.

MATT: I've never been part of a band.

AIMEE: It might be fun.

MATT: That's kind of cool, yeah. Is that a thing we do? You're the bard guy, you've been in bands. Do you name the band, or?

ROBBIE: It's a branding thing, sure. I'm mean, if we want to ever-- We've stumbled our way along this but if we ever wanted to go beyond this and I don't know, market ourselves as a swashbuckling adventure team, a name wouldn't be bad.

LIAM: So you'd probably need a theme or--

AIMEE: Yes!

ASHLEY: What's our theme?

LIAM: Or some sort of unifying quality?

AIMEE: Yes.

LIAM: What is that for us?

AIMEE: Well, we're all pretty attractive.

ROBBIE: That is true.

AIMEE: So "hot."

ROBBIE: Hot, hot, hot--

MATT: Hot Pie Biters.

ROBBIE: Hot Pie Biters?

MATT: As he finishes the last piece of pie.

AABRIA: (laughs)

AIMEE: You ate three days worth of pie?

MATT: Well, I'm rationing it. No, there's plenty here.

AIMEE: Oh, okay.

MATT: A month is going to be a little longer than I anticipated, so we've just got to ration it a little bit, be respectful. I ate a lot of them already, I'm sorry.

AIMEE: Hot--

ROBBIE: The Sexy Six. Are you staying with us, by the way?

AIMEE: Yeah, you should stay.

MATT: You're pretty cool. Are you the leader?

ROBBIE: I don't know if she's the leader yet.

MATT: Are you the leader?

ROBBIE: (scoffs)

MATT: A band's got to have a leader, right?

AIMEE: Oh yeah.

ASHLEY: Do they? Isn't there something that you all share in governing things?

AIMEE: We could be a choir.

ROBBIE: Like an ensemble.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

AIMEE: Hot Ensemble. Honsemble.

ROBBIE: Hom Som.

AIMEE: Ho Semble.

ROBBIE: Mm. Hmm!

ASHLEY: We'll workshop it.

MATT: We've got a month to work on this.

ASHLEY: We got a month to work on it. (laughter)

LIAM: TBD, TBD.

ROBBIE: It's not like this'll stick with us forever or anything. (laughter)

LIAM: Tempted to go with The Arshholes.

ANJALI: I mean.

ASHLEY: It matches a little bit with The Shits, you know? (laughter)

ROBBIE: We'll think about it.

AIMEE: Glitter Shits.

ROBBIE: Here's the deal. If anyone thinks-- The Glitter Shits?

AIMEE: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Hmm. For branding purposes, maybe not.

AIMEE: Maybe that'll turn off a certain crowd, you know? Like the money crowd, we want the money crowd.

ROBBIE: Exactly.

AIMEE: We want them.

LIAM: Just think of the next month as an incentive to think of something better than The Arshholes because if we don't think of anything, that's what it is. So think of something.

MATT: All right.

AABRIA: On that note, I'm definitely making the first night hit. We got to put you all on the clock. (laughter)

AABRIA: You cross into the jungle and everything is different now. The world without and the world within has changed. You all have changed in the weeks that you've been together and as the first night comes, Dariax.

MATT: Yeah?

AABRIA: I need you to make a wisdom saving throw while you're asleep.

MATT: Nice, okay. That's going to be minus one... two.

ASHLEY: Oh no.

AABRIA: It's a gift every time.

ANJALI: (laughs)

MATT: What's up?

AABRIA: You awake from your sleep into twilight and what little bit of the clouds you can see behind this roiling, charcoal cloud cover is indigo and full of stars that have this sickly, phosphorescent green tint to them and every couple seconds, an arc of purple lightning streaks the sky, but doesn't seem to scatter or cast any light down onto you on this torched earth, alone. What do you do?

MATT: I'll look around and see if anybody else is awake.

AABRIA: You're not where you fell asleep.

MATT: Oh! That's a problem and not uncommon, honestly. That wouldn't be the first time.

AABRIA: Yeah.

MATT: Okay, where am I? (laughter)

ROBBIE: He cries into the night. (screams)

AABRIA: You look around you and you don't see any signs of life or your friends or your camp, just this blasted terrain with a storm that looks like it's about to break overhead, but it never quite does. It hangs in suspense.

MATT: Hello? Dorian? Anybody?

AABRIA: Below you, you hear the ground begin to rip open a little bit, like an earthquake but without the rumble.

MATT: I step back.

AABRIA: And as you are just a witness to whatever is happening here, you see a dark gray mud- and ash-covered hand claw its way out of the ground and clutched in its hand is this long line of bramble. Then you see another hand come out and though you know that there is a body between these two arms, you have no sense of the physicality of it.

MATT: I'm just going to keep backing up and I'm going to hold my spear in front of me and just keep a close eye on it, and be like: Um, anyone? (sobbing) Please? Fearne?

AABRIA: The louder you get, the more arcs of lightning and rumbles of thunder seem to raise and match you and begin to drown you out.

MATT: I run. I just turn around and run.

AABRIA: Yeah, okay. Give me-- Let's call this an acrobatics check.

MATT: All right, all right.

AABRIA: That's the haul ass stat, that feels fine.

MATT: That's a 17.

AABRIA: Yeah. You turn and you sprint and you run flat out, dead out. You can feel the earth churning under your feet and yet every time you look over your shoulder, that jagged bit of earth with those two hands clutching those brambles is at the same distance from you, about 40 feet away. And now you see that the two hands are winding these brambles into a circular pattern and it's ripping up the flesh of its hand and down the forearm and around its elbow as it's curving whatever these thorny, dark bits are into a circle.

MATT: I'm going to try and hide. I'm running through trees, am I still in the jungle? Is there anything nearby I can hide from?

AABRIA: It's just flat, but you see out ahead of you a bit of upturned rock as now everything underfoot is beginning to shift a little more, too, and you sprint and throw yourself behind it.

MATT: I just listen. It's still silent?

AABRIA: You wait, and as you are silent, the sky is quiet. There's no rumble, no flashes and after a long moment that keeps stretching out in front and behind you, you hear a voice, low and feminine. "Why are you running?"

MATT: My curiosity is too strong. I peek around the rock.

AABRIA: You look around and you see those same hands continuing to wind but no face, no figure, and maybe a little closer to the ear, so you're looking over your left shoulder and in your right ear, you hear, "I'm not there either." (chuckles) "Why are you scared?"

MATT: There's a multitude of reasons. Where are my friends?

AABRIA: "You're asleep. They're beside you. You're asleep-- ahem."

MATT: Oh, right. What do you want from me? Who are you?

AABRIA: "You know who I am and you know what I want. I want you to stop running from it."

MATT: Why? It seems bad.

AABRIA: "Why do you care that it's bad? What is 'bad'? It's interesting. It's powerful."

MATT: Yeah, but, I don't know, I'm traveling with some better people now and I don't want to disappoint them.

AABRIA: "Really?"

MATT: I guess so.

AABRIA: "But you took it. You kept it. I'm so close and you're just going to what, hold me in a bag?"

MATT: For now.

AABRIA: "Boring. You are boring."

MATT: That's hurtful.

AABRIA: "What will happen when they become bored of you, too?" (laughs)

MATT: I'm looking around to see if there's any sign of where the voice is coming from.

AABRIA: Make a perception check for me.

MATT: That is a one. Dirty one. (laughter)

AIMEE: Aww.

AABRIA: You look around and at every point where your eyes fix on something, you hear the voice issuing from there. It travels with you. "Stop looking around. You're not going to find anyone to tell you what to do, how to be better. It's just you and me."

MATT: Not good on my own. Not good on my own. I--

AABRIA: "I know. That's why I picked you."

MATT: (scoffs) I didn't know. I didn't know what I was getting into. This is-- This is a little much. I want to wake up now. Can I wake up now?

AABRIA: "Is that really what you want?"

MATT: Yeah. Yeah.

AABRIA: "Fine." You feel the world, that there was a sound that was building behind her voice, that negative, a very slow, very low rip stops and if you look back over your shoulder at the stone, the hands have stopped wrapping and there is this long, painful circle of brambles. The thing that you know will at some point become that Circlet of Barbed Vision, but it's not quite there yet and you can walk away. And as your consciousness moves from this place back into the world, Dariax, you are different now. You've gotten stronger, not just a strength of will, though that's probably true, too. Maybe if she had talked to you sooner, you would be different. But just the strength of you has changed and you feel it in your fingertips. You feel yourself choosing to push through the weave. Whatever the Spider Queen has set here, you are moving away, and you wake up and your friends are beside you. The camp is silent and calm, and you are stronger for it.

MATT: I look up at the sky. Weather?

AABRIA: It's hard to see over the extremely dense canopy.

MATT: Yeah.

AABRIA: But if you give yourself a couple seconds to listen, you don't hear that rumble of thunder. It's just a quiet night, full of normal animal sounds in a jungle. We'll add those in post, it's fine.

ANJALI: (monkey hooting, bird calling)

AABRIA: Playing with voice actors is great.

MATT: Just saved us some money on the back end.

ANJALI: (monkey hooting)

AIMEE: (trilling)

MATT: I look around and then I quietly tiptoe over towards where Dorian is sleeping and just push him awake a little bit. Dorian?

ROBBIE: Dariax, is everything all right?

MATT: I just had a really weird dream.

ROBBIE: Was it the one about, you know, the giant dwarf lady again?

MATT: No, no. That was before that, this is a dream after that.

ROBBIE: Oh, okay.

MATT: (sighs)

ROBBIE: What's the matter?

MATT: I don't know. It just spooked me a little bit.

ROBBIE: Was it spooky or was it something more?

MATT: It was pretty spooky. It had hands clawing out of the ground and some scary lightning and stuff. Anyway, I'm just a little spooked. I wanted to just hang a little closer to my friends if that's okay. Just for comfort, you know? Not that I'm scared or anything. You know, protect each other, back to back.

ROBBIE: You want to go back to back?

MATT: Sure, whatever. I mean, I don't know.

ROBBIE: Just say you want to go back--

MATT: I want to go back to back, if that's okay.

ROBBIE: All right, come here. I'm going to sit up out of my bunk and dust off a spot for him. It's not really-- It's lower back to shoulder blade, I guess? (laughter)

ROBBIE: A little uncomfortable for me.

MATT: Yeah. This pose to Dariax feels very much like one of those ergonomic chairs that you put in your office where it has the Swedish wedge.

AIMEE: The one we're on?

MATT: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

AIMEE: That's great.

ROBBIE: Good lower back support.

AABRIA: Amazing.

ROBBIE: Better?

MATT: Weirdly, yeah. Weirdly, yeah. Thanks man, I appreciate it.

LIAM: We're in the jungle, right?

AABRIA: Yeah.

LIAM: Okay. So Orym's on watch in a tree.

AABRIA: Of course.

MATT: Watching Dariax go over on all fours and then watch them scoot next to each other and fill in that. He doesn't say anything, just clocks it and continues to watch.

AABRIA: Dorian, the moment he makes physical contact with you, make an arcana check for me.

ROBBIE: I'm making these dice compete for my love tonight. Who's it going to be? You. 16. Oh wait, and I have--

ASHLEY: Hey!

ROBBIE: I'm sorry, 18.

AABRIA: Never apologize, good job. And let the others learn from that moment.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

AIMEE: You will learn.

AABRIA: The moment you make contact, you feel this little thrill of electricity. It makes the center of your back go numb for a good 30 seconds.

ROBBIE: Dariax, you don't have any poison darts or anything in your pack, do you?

MATT: I don't think so. I pull my pack aside and look through it. I don't think I have any poison darts.

AABRIA: No.

MATT: Nah.

AABRIA: No.

MATT: No, no darts. I got some blueberry and some pecan.

ROBBIE: Thank you. Are you still wearing the circlet?

MATT: I'm not wearing it, but I keep it close. It's supposed to be--

ROBBIE: In the satchel on your back?

MATT: Yeah.

ROBBIE: That's back to back with my back.

MATT: Oh. I'm sorry. Oh, totally right, it makes you feel gross. I'm so sorry.

ROBBIE: It's all right.

MATT: I'm going to go ahead and move it and I put it in my front like a little papoose. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Thank you, I'd prefer not to be numb from the waist down.

MATT: No, good looking out, good looking out. My apologies.

AABRIA: As he shifts it to the front of him and it's a little farther away from you, you feel that pins and needles begin to subside. Not completely gone, though, but it's easy enough to ignore it from there.

ROBBIE: This dream of yours, are you sure it was just scary sounds and clawing hands?

MATT: Well, I heard the voice of the Spider Queen and stuff giving me power, but you know, I don't think it's anything to worry about.

ROBBIE: Wait, wait, wait.

MATT: Thanks so much, man.

ROBBIE: Wait, wait. What did you just say?

MATT: The Spider Queen.

ROBBIE: The voice?

MATT: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Of the ancient god, the Spider Queen?

MATT: Well, it's a dream.

ROBBIE: Spoke to you in the dream and you're holding her favorite piece of jewelry!

MATT: Shh, people are trying to sleep here.

ROBBIE: Sorry.

AABRIA: Yeah, I'm going to need a perception check.

ANJALI: Exactly. I'm like, come on. I don't sleep that deep.

AABRIA: And you just have heard all of that.

AIMEE: 18.

AABRIA: Orym, yeah. 18?

AIMEE: Yeah.

AABRIA: Okay, I will leave that to you if you would like to wake up.

AIMEE: You guys. Ugh.

MATT: Sorry.

ROBBIE: Sorry.

AIMEE: Some of us--

AABRIA: Fy'ra Rai first, how did you do?

ANJALI: 16. As I hear the yelling voices, I immediately come up and immediately look around to see if there's danger, and realize it's just the two of them.

ASHLEY: I just stretch. Is it morning?

MATT: Not yet, sorry. Sorry, Fearne. Just had a bad dream.

ANJALI: Are you fighting?

ROBBIE and MATT: No.

ANJALI: Are you in danger?

MATT: No.

ROBBIE: Maybe.

MATT: It was a dream. I've had a lot of things talk to me in my dreams. A whole spectrum of weird things.

ROBBIE: Dariax had the Spider Queen talk to him in his dreams.

AIMEE: (gasps) Was she nice?

MATT: No. No, no, not at all. Actually, she was just intense.

ANJALI: This Spider Queen, is this someone you have met before?

AIMEE: No, but I had a vision once.

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: Orym drops out of the tree. What did she say, exactly?

AABRIA: That was wild and very cool. I'm not going to make you roll about it. I'm just imagining a (whoosh) and walk forward.

AIMEE: Nancy, you're such a good jumper.

ANJALI: Yes, of course.

MATT: She was just asking me why I was running and then essentially just told me there's no use to running away?

LIAM: That's comforting.

AIMEE: But we're not running.

ANJALI: I put my hand on the nearest vine or piece of jungle and immediately flick my eyes up hard behind my eyelids.

AABRIA: Go ahead and make a wisdom saving throw with advantage.

ANJALI: 19.

AABRIA: The moment you-- It's not even the eye flick that does it; it is that hard grasp on this very real plant and the connection to what you know is more. You leave yourself entirely. What do you want, Fy'ra?

ANJALI: I want to know, what is their connection to the Spider Queen and is she coming for them or us now? Is this an imminent danger and how can I protect them?

AABRIA: As you feel your consciousness pull back and away and up from your position, you can feel these hot points, like a pan that doesn't heat evenly and one of them is centered very close to Dariax and everything you're being given right now has a strong sense of potential, that there are sources of great strength here that anyone could tap into, but the potential in the five people sitting in front of you right now dwarfs all of it, and you feel a warm breeze circle around you that you recognize is very specifically of here and now, like a little sigh and it lets you-- your instinct here, you don't hear any words. This is not a place that speaks to you, but a sense of "hold" and "watch." There is no threat here, even though you are even more attenuated to sussing out and hitting a threat before it can become unreasonable. But it's about the decisions that are being made in this moment right now.

ANJALI: I loosen my grasp on the vine and open my eyes and pull my hand down it and say: Thank you, my friend.

MATT: My biggest apologies, guys. I didn't mean to wake everybody up. You were still up, so no apology to you, but the rest of you guys, I feel bad about.

LIAM: Orym wheels around on Dorian. This is a problem.

MATT: You're not the first person to say that and I understand and I apologize and if you want me to correct any of my previous behavior, just bring it up with me and I'm happy to--

ROBBIE: He doesn't mean you, Dariax.

LIAM: Varying degree. This was going to be hard enough without this thing and now it's strapped to us. We can't leave it, we can't go back. This is a problem.

ROBBIE: I don't know.

ANJALI: What thing?

AABRIA: Oop.

ROBBIE: None of your business.

ANJALI: Excuse me?

ROBBIE: It's something that happened before you came along and something my friend possesses and that's all we need to know.

AABRIA: Dorian, make a wisdom saving throw.

ROBBIE: Go up. (groans) Sorry.

AABRIA: No, you're good.

ROBBIE: 11.

AABRIA: That buzzing between-- Oh, it was your lower back, not your shoulder blades. That buzzing in the center of your back thrums out and you become uncomfortable. Not just physically, but with this interrogation from her. Who is she? And why does she keep looking at you like that?

ROBBIE: What? What? We met you not even a week ago! We've been companions for a while. Why? Why should we tell you everything about us? Secrets, things that are important to us? I'm sorry. I trust all of you. Why am I being put on the spot?

AIMEE: I think what he's trying to say, ma'am, is we appreciate your help, but we don't really know why you're helping us.

ANJALI: That is a fair and respectful answer. I do know this place. I know this jungle. I know this land. And I know that there is something very special about all of you. I know that you are meant to be here. And I know that I, whether you like it or not, am meant to protect you.

AIMEE: But what's in it for you?

LIAM: Is she being straightforward?

AABRIA: Hmm?

LIAM: Is she being straightforward?

AABRIA: Make an insight check.

LIAM: Ooh, halfling luck. (laughter)

LIAM: Aww, I rolled a one and then a two.

AIMEE: Oh, bummer.

AABRIA: Where are you standing right now?

LIAM: I'm in the middle of the group, looking up at everybody and gauging whether or not to start talking or not, and trying to let things play out and not cause any fires.

AABRIA: Your head is-- You're in this defensive stance. So it's taking away your ability to really inspect and interrogate her beyond "is she a threat?" But you recognize the look in her eyes, which is this similar, protective sense. And though you can't really dig in and see how straightforward she's being, she believes what she's saying with her entire heart.

ANJALI: You ask what's in it for me.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ANJALI: Let me tell you a story about sisters. I do have a sister, my younger twin. Her name is Fy'ra Kai. We both left our home at the same time, but she was a freer spirit than I. Powerful, but willful. I didn't want to separate. I always knew, even if we were simply separated by minutes, that I was here to be by her side, to be with her, to guide her, to protect her. But she wanted to explore this world. This world that gave birth to our mother. So I let her go. It was a short time later that I heard of her perishing.

AIMEE: Oh, sorry.

ANJALI: And it was as if a part of me had died.

AIMEE: Wow.

ANJALI: I never want to feel that again about someone who is as special to me. Now, I can't tell you why, but I can tell you that I know that all of you, there is something about you, including you, little brother. There is something very special. And if I have to give my life to protect it, I will, because I couldn't for my sister. That is what is in it for me.

AIMEE: Okay.

ROBBIE: It's a Vestige of Divergence. We stumbled upon it.

ANJALI: Ah. And where is this vestige?

ROBBIE: Go on.

ANJALI: Do not touch it.

MATT: I've already touched it. It's not like it's going to do anything worse than it's already done. It's between--

AABRIA: Challenge accepted, wisdom save.

AIMEE: Oh no!

MATT: I'm moving the pies first. (laughter)

AIMEE: It's the pies, it's the pies!

ASHLEY: "I wasn't touching the thing."

AABRIA: It's a wisdom save to eat pie.

MATT: I have wedged the Vestige of Divergence between multiple pies, guys.

ANJALI: As I see him throwing things out of his bag, I grab both of his hands with all of my strength. Just tell me where it is.

MATT: It's in my bag.

ANJALI: Put the pies back.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: To be fair, it's the same miming motion.

ROBBIE: Yeah, it looks like it.

LIAM: Yeah.

AABRIA: Yeah, yeah. Grab some pies.

ASHLEY: I silently grab a quick bite of the pie.

ROBBIE: (laughs)

AIMEE: Take a whole pie.

MATT: I can just leave them here. Enjoy, midnight snack.

ASHLEY: It just fell on the ground, I didn't want to waste it. The crust is the best part.

MATT: No, I respect that. That's very good.

ASHLEY: Sorry.

ANJALI: I'm sure in your own time, you will tell me exactly how you came upon this vestige.

LIAM: It really was an accident. I mean, we stumbled onto it and have been trying to shake it off and have been having trouble doing that. But now we're in the middle of nowhere and can't leave it.

ANJALI: No.

LIAM: Can't bring it back. So just going to have to deal with it.

ANJALI: I hope from now on you can trust me enough to share if you have any more surprises.

ROBBIE: I would say we have myriad problems.

LIAM: Does anybody else have anything they want to put on the table here?

ANJALI: Believe me, there is nothing that will surprise me.

ROBBIE: We're being hunted by a guild of thieves and murderers.

MATT: Right, yeah, no, that's true. Yeah. The little crown thing was from a scary boat that a bunch of these thieves were after that we were working for. Well, we were working for, but then we got offered a job and then we kind of stole from them. And then we went to a big mountain hole thing, but then the thieves were still after us when we went back to the town, so we're also being hunted. Lady named Poska.

LIAM: If you wrote this, nobody'd believe it.

AABRIA: Dorian, make a wisdom saving throw for me.

ROBBIE: Betrayal. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Five. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Betrayal! (laughter)

AABRIA: You're going to take two points of psychic damage.

AIMEE: Oh, why?

AABRIA: And your nose begins to bleed.

ROBBIE: As my what?

AABRIA: Your nose begins to bleed.

AIMEE: You okay?

ROBBIE: Allergies.

LIAM: Bleeding allergies?

AIMEE: That happens to me once a month.

ROBBIE: It's very dry.

ASHLEY: That's true.

ROBBIE: Jungle.

ANJALI: None of that surprises me. If I am being completely honest, none of this is news to me. I had been watching you for a little bit longer than you had met me.

MATT: That's a little creepy.

ANJALI: I had to see if you needed my help a little sooner than perhaps you thought. But you surprise me with your resourcefulness. One of you, I cannot tell which, seems to have saved you from Poska, no?

MATT: Probably put that on Fearne there.

AIMEE: Fearne.

ASHLEY: What did I do?

MATT: You were awesome. Yeah.

ASHLEY: Well, we just got out of there. I think--

ANJALI: You did. You are surprisingly more capable than you allow yourselves to seem.

ROBBIE: That's a very backhanded compliment.

MATT: Thank you very much.

ANJALI: I am debating, but I am not sharing. Meta!

LIAM: (pigeon coo)

ANJALI: I am debating whether I have to relieve him of said vestige at any given point for his own safety. Can I make a roll to make that decision?

MATT: While she ponders this, I am picking my nose.

AABRIA: Yeah. Respect. Now, rolls are like-- Meta-conversation, rolls are where a decision and the universe may disagree on a course of action.

ANJALI: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

AABRIA: We don't disagree because you haven't made a choice. So do what you think you need to do.

ANJALI: I'm just going to keep my thoughts on it--

AABRIA: Yup!

ANJALI: -- and wait. Keep my eyes open, vibes.

AABRIA: Take one more point of psychic damage.

AIMEE: Oh my god.

ASHLEY: Dariax, would you like me to carry it for a little bit?

MATT: Yeah, sure. Totally.

ANJALI: Dorian?

ROBBIE: Mm.

ANJALI: What is happening?

ROBBIE: I don't know. I don't feel so well, all of a sudden.

LIAM: I throw him a kerchief.

MATT: Am I cool to pass this on to Fearne?

AABRIA: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Yes, please.

AIMEE: We could take turns. I mean, it doesn't make me sick.

ASHLEY: Yeah, we can take turns.

AIMEE: Great.

MATT: It's okay, man. Not all of us got like a hearty self. I got sick a lot when I was a kid, too. So it's all good.

ROBBIE: I usually don't get sick.

ANJALI: I'm going to walk closer to him, and hold up my hand and say: May I?

AABRIA: Every time you take a step closer, a ringing in your ears seems to increase.

ROBBIE: If you don't mind, some space, please.

ANJALI: Gift. I'm going Gift.

AABRIA: Yeah.

ANJALI: No.

AIMEE: Not going Gift. (laughter)

ANJALI: Not going Gift.

LIAM: Going jift.

ANJALI: Going jift.

ASHLEY: Don't you dare.

AABRIA: It's not nothing. We love failing forward. But you go to check your intuition and you have this sense of a dark spot, a thing you can't see, or even really wrap your mind around to think about, and it's standing in front of you.

ANJALI: I pull back farther.

AABRIA: The ringing dies down.

ROBBIE: Thank you.

MATT: You all right, buddy? I'm going to cast Cure Wounds on him.

AABRIA: Yeah. (laughs)

ROBBIE: Thank you.

ROBBIE: I'm bleeding out my nose.

AABRIA: Before you roll that--

MATT: Oh, cool.

AABRIA: -- I do need you-- Let's call this-- Make an arcana check with disadvantage.

MATT: Oh, hell yeah! I'm going to be great at this. Five.

AABRIA: Whatever healing you've rolled is going to be only half as effective and you're going to feel it as you try to cast it. It feels like there's a bottleneck.

MATT: I think the meat pies are bad by now. You heal four points.

ROBBIE: Thank you.

ANJALI: Who has the circlet?

AIMEE: Fearne.

ASHLEY: I have it. I don't understand why this is happening to you.

ROBBIE: I think I'm all right now. And that did fully heal me. So I'll give your kerchief back and--

LIAM: I think it's pretty obvious what's happening to him.

AIMEE: What?

ASHLEY: Why, you know?

LIAM: Well, these two kind of snuggled up earlier tonight and that thing had a bad effect on you, and on me, and you just sidled up against it again. I don't know. What's different? This guy had a nightmare. And now this.

ROBBIE: I didn't know. I didn't have the nightmare.

ASHLEY: Can I try something?

ROBBIE: Sure.

ASHLEY: I just go and stand up next to him pretty close. Do you feel anything?

AABRIA: Make a wisdom saving throw with disadvantage.

ROBBIE: Eight.

AABRIA: The moment she steps closer to you, that ringing that was dying down as Fy'ra backed away, you begin to feel a little better. And then once she's right in front of you, that buzzing, whatever part of your body is closest to her in this moment, pins and needles and immediately begins to go numb.

ROBBIE: When Fearne comes to me?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Bad, bad? Okay, okay. It's got to be the circlet. I mean, I know it already makes you sick, but it's--

ROBBIE: It doesn't make any sense. You're not holding the circlet.

ASHLEY: I am now. I am. Yeah, I grabbed it.

ROBBIE: Oh, did she?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Oh, shit.

MATT: She has my pie bag.

ASHLEY: It's okay.

ROBBIE: Oh, I didn't know. I forgot. Just keep it away from me just for a minute.

LIAM: You know, maybe 20 paces for a day.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

MATT: Whoever's got it. Either of you two.

ANJALI: Is there any reason that you have to keep it near you or with you, other than keeping it out of anyone else's hands? Does someone here have some kind of connection to it? Do you need it?

AIMEE: Well, no, but if we don't have it, who's going to have it?

AABRIA: Fearne, make a wisdom saving throw.

ASHLEY: 15.

AABRIA: You notice as you're under this massive canopy as a single little spider has dropped down onto your shoulder. And all of you see the moment this thing makes contact. It wasn't trying to be secretive. Fearne, your fingertips begin to go black. You don't feel any different.

ASHLEY: That's an-- Oh.

LIAM: Orym is just fucking kicking himself.

AIMEE: I feel like Opal would just be like: Ah! And swipe the--

ASHLEY: I'm just going to put the--

AABRIA: Make an attack roll.

AIMEE: Fuck. Oh no.

AABRIA: Oh no. You inserted yourself in this problem.

AIMEE: 11.

AABRIA: Good.

AIMEE: No. (laughs)

AABRIA: You hit it.

AIMEE: I just want to save my friend!

AABRIA: It's a spider. It's not wearing armor. You hit it. As you knock it out of the air, you look down and there are two spiders running up your forearm.

AIMEE: Ah! Can I-- I'm going to try it-- cast Druidcraft and create some sort of wind, little wind that I don't have to touch it to get them off of me? (laughter)

AIMEE: Just trying it out.

AABRIA: Yeah.

AIMEE: Okay. So that happens. (laughter)

ASHLEY: And they're gone.

AABRIA: Make a perception check.

ANJALI: (laughs)

AIMEE: 15.

AABRIA: You got two of them.

AIMEE: There was only two. How many were there?

AABRIA: You could look around and find out.

AIMEE: Okay, she looks around and finds out.

AABRIA: No, there's no more on you.

AIMEE: Okay, good.

AABRIA: But if you look back behind you on your bag, there's two little spiders that are making a web across the flappy part. I know the anatomy of a backpack. The opening of your bag.

ASHLEY: Okay. Okay.

AIMEE: Okay. They're just multiplying. So what do we do?

MATT: Should I keep holding onto it then? I don't know. Is it--

ASHLEY: Maybe? Maybe it just liked being with you better.

MATT: I just step away from Dorian.

AABRIA: The moment you touch it, you hear a giggle in your ear. (giggles) "I could do this all night."

MATT: I think we're good now.

LIAM: Fuck you. (laughter)

LIAM: Natural 20. (cheering)

MATT: 12. (laughter)

LIAM: We got a big problem here. We got a real big problem. We are in the middle of nowhere. What do we do with this thing?

MATT: Maybe we should just talk about it in the morning. We're all kind of tired and I genuinely feel really bad for waking everyone up now because this became a thing. Sorry.

AIMEE: Well, I'm not going back to sleep. There's spiders on my bag.

ANJALI: And we aren't exactly in the middle of nowhere, but we are in the middle of a jungle. It is a special place.

AABRIA: Orym make a-- Nature? Nature or perception check. Let's make it nature.

LIAM: (groans) I have advantage on perception now.

AABRIA: Sorry.

LIAM: Okay.

AABRIA: Not going to make you do the one thing you're good at.

LIAM: Well, it's a 19.

AABRIA: That was mean.

ROBBIE: Oh no.

AABRIA: I apologize for being mean. Also, that was a very good roll.

LIAM: It's all right, step on me. (laughter)

AABRIA: Please take inspiration for making me forget what I was going to say for a solid five seconds.

ANJALI: Yeah!

AABRIA: Yeah. As you hear that this is a special place, you're suddenly sort of hit with a warm breeze that swirls around you. And it carries the scent of not just the sort of tropical wet fern and foliage that's here, but pine and cold water that runs off of snow. This place smells like nature, but not just the nature that's here. All of it.

LIAM: What was that last word?

AABRIA: All of it.

LIAM: All of it.

AABRIA: Yeah.

LIAM: What does that mean?

AABRIA: It's strange, but not-- I mean, I'm not going to tell you how you feel about it, but it doesn't seem threatening. Just strange.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Are the spiders gone? Opal?

AABRIA: One of them finishes and then skitters off into the night.

AIMEE: One of them left. The other one's still working on this shitty web.

LIAM: I don't know what to do about this, but we do need to sleep. Maybe we put it in the middle by the fire and we all back off of it and keep watching it through the night. Just to get a little space from it.

ASHLEY: Are my fingers still black? Okay. I mean, is this something that we should... just destroy?

LIAM: If we could. From what little I know about vestiges, they're--

MATT: Flammable?

LIAM: I don't think so.

MATT: Oh, shit.

AIMEE: I mean, it's taken her this long to get into our dreams. So I would imagine that if we destroyed it, she'd be pretty pissed off. But we can't leave it here. So maybe we just wait for her to call us again.

ASHLEY: Well, how is she a queen if she doesn't have her crown?

MATT: That's a valid point. Is she the Spider Lady now?

ASHLEY: Does it work that way?

LIAM: I don't know that it does.

ASHLEY: I don't know

AIMEE: No, I mean, I have a few titles, like Miss Byroden. I mean, I'm still Miss Byr-- I don't have my crown, but I still--

ASHLEY: That's a very good--

LIAM: Right. No one can take that away from you.

AIMEE: No one can take it away.

ANJALI: Orym, I concur with your decision as well.

AABRIA: Inspiration.

AIMEE: Thank you. (laughs)

ANJALI: Perhaps we watch.

LIAM: It's just a stop-gap measure. I don't know what to do, but I know that thing is beyond us. Known it for a while.

ROBBIE: You look at me again? We found it together. I'm not the one who used our magical transporting book to send a message.

LIAM: We just got to be careful with it.

ROBBIE: That's all I want.

MATT: Yeah.

ROBBIE: It doesn't seem to be effecting Dariax.

MATT: I'm good.

LIAM: I'll finish my watch.

ANJALI: Orym, rest. I'm wide awake. You take your rest.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Back to back?

ROBBIE: Back to back.

MATT: As I sit down with you, I'm like: Is she actually your sister?

ROBBIE: What's that?

MATT: Fy'ra.

ROBBIE: My sister? Where did you get that?

MATT: Never mind, I misunderstood. We're good. Good night.

ROBBIE: Good night. Is he still wearing it?

ROBBIE: Who has it now?

ANJALI: We put it in the center.

MATT: Put it in the middle.

ROBBIE: I just want to know where this fucking thing is.

MATT: Right, right.

ROBBIE: Apparently, I can't track it.

LIAM: Yeah, we noticed, Sméagol.

ROBBIE: Hey! (laughter)

ANJALI: It is many feet away from you. And as I'm keeping watch, I keep one hand on a vine nearby.

AABRIA: The vine-- You're just holding it and idly messing with it. And it's not 'til everyone that is going to doze off really commits to doing so that you feel just the slightest curl of the vine around your hands in a return of a gesture.

ANJALI: It is good to see you, too, friend.

AABRIA: And just a little warm gust of wind runs over your right shoulder in Dorian's direction as he falls asleep. Dorian.

ROBBIE: I was sleeping, sorry.

AABRIA: Oh, it's so good. I was so immersed. (laughter) Can you make a arcana check for me?

ROBBIE: Yes.

AABRIA: As you awake into darkness.

ROBBIE: No, why?

AABRIA: Yeah, because we do it. It's like a whole thing we're doing.

ROBBIE: I noticed.

AABRIA: Uh-huh.

ROBBIE: That'll be 11.

AABRIA: Yeah. You wake up into darkness and your body sort of bolts upright in the direction of Fy'ra and you see her standing in front of you in the dark. And slowly, starting at the edges of your vision, the night begins to populate with little points of light, like multicolored stars that seem to stretch out endlessly in every direction, and she keeps staring at you with those eyes that recognize you. But they are pleading. They're different somehow. What do you do?

ROBBIE: Do I have an idea that this is a dream right away?

AABRIA: Give me just a general intelligence check.

ROBBIE: (laughs) That's a one plus one is two.

AABRIA: Oh, baby.

ANJALI: Oh, baby.

AABRIA: Baby.

ANJALI: Oh, you pretty.

AABRIA: You're so pretty.

ANJALI: You're so pretty.

AABRIA: You are not in a dream. You know that for certain. There's no confusion about it. That's not quite what this space is, but it's confusing and as you sort of evaluate yourself as well as your surroundings your heart is racing right now.

ROBBIE: What do you want from me?

AABRIA: She doesn't respond. She's just looking at you, waving you away, as this world of darkness closes in around her and grabs her and pushes you from her.

ROBBIE: Can I push against the push?

AABRIA: You can certainly try.

ROBBIE: I'm going to try to go for her.

AABRIA: Okay.

ROBBIE: Yeah. I don't like her, but I'm not going to let her get enveloped by the fucking darkness. (laughter)

AABRIA: Go ahead and make an athletics check for me.

ROBBIE: All right. Ah ha. 17.

AABRIA: You push forward and everything begins to stutter in this moment. That's not the way that this went. That's not the way this is supposed to go. You're doing something different. It's different than what you remember and yet you push forward. You can close the distance to her, and you see tendrils of black wrapping themselves around her. Not strangling her or hurting her, but enveloping her. What do you do?

ROBBIE: I am going to, not at her, but I'm just going to yell out into the darkness, "Stop! Let her go!"

AABRIA: Make a wisdom saving throw for me.

ROBBIE: Poo poo. Four.

AIMEE: (sighs) Switch it up. I have to-- (laughter)

AABRIA: Nothing replies and, now that you're closer to Fy'ra, you see her mouthing words, but you can't hear them.

ROBBIE: What do you want from us? Please!

AABRIA: And a voice, low, feminine, just, "(chuckles) What do you mean, what do I want?"

ROBBIE: Why are you doing this?

AABRIA: "Because I'm bored."

ROBBIE: You're tormenting my companions and I because you're bored?

AABRIA: "Yeah, duh."

ROBBIE: Why her? Why Fy'ra? Why show me this?

AABRIA: "You-- (laughs) You don't remember this, do you? A tidy little blank in that perfect little head of yours, but I can see it all right here, a lesion on your memory." (creepy chuckle)

ROBBIE: Can you take it away?

AABRIA: "Do you want me to? Ask nicely."

ROBBIE: Please. Please, I want to remember, please.

AABRIA: "What will you give me?"

ROBBIE: Almost anything.

AABRIA: "Oh, you have my interest now. I want a champion."

ROBBIE: Champion? Is that why you've taken her? Is that why you're trying to take--

AABRIA: "No, I don't give a fuck about her. I can't touch her. She's wrapped up in other things, older things, meaner things than me, I promise. (chuckles) But there are others. Not you, but others. It could be you."

ROBBIE: No one from our group.

AABRIA: "Okay, then who? I like Poska. Give me a Poska."

ROBBIE: Poska?

AABRIA: "Mm-hmm."

ROBBIE: If I brought you Poska, would you leave my friends and I alone?

AABRIA: Make a persuasion check for me.

ROBBIE: Am I making a deal with the fucking devil right now? Oh fuck, that'd be a one.

AIMEE: No! Oh no!

ROBBIE: Nice. It hurts.

AABRIA: "(laughs) Would you do it? Would you really do it?" And you feel that buzz, that pins and needles of a limb falling asleep, but it is all over you.

ROBBIE: Yeah, swarmed in moral darkness.

AABRIA: "I mean, don't lie to me. Would you do it? Save your friends."

ROBBIE: Yes.

AABRIA: I'm going to ask you above game, are you telling the truth right now?

ROBBIE: Is Dorian telling the truth right now?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Above game?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Oh, I don't know. If I'm telling the truth?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Yeah, I'd give her Poska.

AABRIA: Okay.

ROBBIE: That's the truth.

AABRIA: And it gets really quiet. And then the buzzing stops. "(laughs) Oh my god, you know what she would do and yet you would sacrifice all of the people of Emon to spare your friends." Dorian, your alignment is what?

AIMEE: (high-pitched groan)

ROBBIE: I know. Chaotic good.

AABRIA: It is now chaotic neutral.

ROBBIE: Yeah, okay.

AABRIA: "That's good enough for me. Okay, you don't have to bring me Poska. She's looking. It'll take her too long to get here. But glad to have you on the team. Good night." And you feel that sense, that presence over your shoulder and in front of your face leaves. And you are back in this memory, the missing week that you spent with this group before your adventures in Emon really started is returned to you.

ROBBIE: Fuck.

AABRIA: You met Fy'ra Rai before. You met her outside of the gates and you went into a puddle, a place, like a stopping over point between here and the Feywild. And in that place you fought and she traded herself to let all of you leave. You were the last to go. You fought then like you fight now, but at the end of the day she was a woman of her word. She saw your purpose and made a value judgment, and it's all there in back. And that look in her eye in this memory, in this moment frozen, you see it again and you remember sitting around the campfire. You know that she knows, that she remembers it, too.

ROBBIE: Do I have the sense that it was returned to her at the same time or has she known this whole time?

AABRIA: She's known the whole time.

ROBBIE: Oh fuck, all right.

AABRIA: And you wake up. If you want to. You can go back to sleep, I don't know.

ROBBIE: Is she awake and still on watch?

AABRIA: Yep.

ROBBIE: I'm just going to kind of--

AABRIA: The sun is beginning to rise.

ROBBIE: I want to look over at her.

ANJALI: There is still time to sleep, little brother. I suggest you take it.

ROBBIE: I'm just going to turn away from her and put my head down, but I'm not going to go back to sleep.

AABRIA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

AABRIA: Where did you put the circlet? My sweet, special-- (laughing) Where was it again, just remind me?

LIAM: By the fire, equidistant from all of us ringed around it.

AABRIA: Yeah.

ANJALI: There.

AABRIA: You set it on one of the little rocks that you used to ring the campfire and it's fallen off of its little plinth. Just hasn't rolled anywhere. It just sort of dropped off in Dorian's direction. That's all.

ANJALI: I mean, I've been on watch and I--

AABRIA: Yeah, you saw it just slip down a little bit. It's a very innocuous movement. You can read into it as much or as little as you want.

ANJALI: And I'm still holding on to my vine.

AABRIA: Yeah. The vine curls and wraps around back and gives a little squeeze.

ANJALI: I think it's time you showed them, don't you?

AABRIA: And the vine from where you're holding it, as if burnt, turns black and charred and withers and falls away. And it's dramatic, but you know, sometimes jungles are dramatic. And you know that means, yes.

ANJALI: I pushed it too far.

AABRIA: No, it was good.

ANJALI: Oh, that means yes?

AABRIA: It was a yes, it was a yes. It was a very dramatic yes. You're like a fire lady. It's trying to match your vibe. (laughter)

AIMEE: Aw.

AABRIA: And as the sun finally gets high enough in the sky to sort of break through the canopy and for light to hit you all, you awaken. I need a perception check from everyone in the group.

MATT: 14.

AABRIA: Okay, all right. Welcome to double-digit stat, well done.

MATT: Look at that!

AIMEE: Oh no.

MATT: (claps) All right!

AABRIA: I'm proud of you.

MATT: I'm going to have me some breakfast pie!

ANJALI: Baby boy all grown up.

ROBBIE: Nine.

ANJALI: 23.

ASHLEY: 19.

LIAM: 14.

AIMEE: 15.

MATT: I'm still the lowest. That's fine, that's fine.

AIMEE: Aw.

AABRIA: No, there's a nine over here.

MATT: Okay, yeah, I feel better. Thank you, Dorian.

AABRIA: Dorian, you are so caught up in the realization that you've made that you don't really sense the difference. For the rest of you, there's a pressure almost like humidity in the air. And the jungle seems different now as you pack up and head farther south. And you only are on the road for maybe 30 minutes before the way becomes impassable and you're going to have to leave the wagon behind and go by foot.

MATT: Not Gilmore's Glorious Glitter Shitter Wagon.

LIAM: Sorry, Gilmore.

ANJALI: It will be safe here.

ASHLEY: Maybe it's for the better, you know, because this is pretty visible.

MATT: Right. Just out of general curiosity, you seem to know the jungle okay. Is the jungle going to eat the horses?

ANJALI: No.

LIAM: Probably.

MATT: I don't know who to believe.

ROBBIE: I think if we learned anything about Gilmore, it's possible that his horses would know their way back home.

MATT: I look at the horses. I look at them and go: Can you folks find your way back home?

AABRIA: Make an arcana check for me. You are determining if these horses are magic or not.

MATT: My discerning experience with the arcane arts is a 10.

AABRIA: All right.

AIMEE: Oh boy.

ANJALI: Still a double digit.

AABRIA: Yeah. I will count the double digit. Honestly, that's very high for you. (laughter)

ROBBIE: We're grading on a curve.

ANJALI: Yeah, fair, everybody gets a medal, come on!

AABRIA: The horses are kind of just-- they look really blandly at you. And then a couple seconds pass and you see a glimmer of intelligence and a ruse dropped a little bit as their shoulders straighten up and they look at you and you get a little head butt from the one on the left. And they just, of their own volition, start backing the wagon up and turning it and heading out of the jungle.

LIAM: Well, what do you know about that?

ANJALI: Best to grab anything that you need out of there.

AABRIA: Yeah, I don't know if you unpacked.

MATT: Oh shit, right! (laughter)

ROBBIE: We all scramble to get shit out of--

LIAM: There's goes the crown.

ROBBIE: I'm running behind it trying to get my glitter diaper off the back.

ANJALI: Covered in glitter.

ROBBIE: Jesus.

ANJALI: Oh, look how pretty you look.

AABRIA: You're covered in five minutes worth of glitter.

MATT: As they ride away there's like a single tear down Dariax's cheek, he's like--

AIMEE: Aw.

MATT: I had a connection for a second there.

ASHLEY: I saw that, that was beautiful.

MATT: Yeah, I don't know what it means. I've never touched a horse before.

AIMEE: Anyone have anything for this humidity? I mean, my hair just has never looked worse, I'm sorry.

AABRIA: (laughs) You're not wrong.

AIMEE: It's just very large now.

AABRIA: Yeah, it's, oof, yeah. (laughter)

AABRIA: Yeah.

AIMEE: (groans) She puts it in a braid. (laughter)

ANJALI: I'm afraid that I can't help you with this hair.

AIMEE: Lucky.

ASHLEY: Dorian.

ROBBIE: Hm?

ASHLEY: You look a little different.

ROBBIE: It's glitter. (chuckles)

ASHLEY: It's not the glitter. Did you sleep okay?

ROBBIE: I slept all right.

ANJALI: No more spider woman dreams or anything?

ROBBIE: No.

ANJALI: Good.

AABRIA: Well, it does beg the question, who grabbed the circlet?

ANJALI: We're still there, right? We haven't left.

AABRIA: No, you guys were going for a little bit.

ROBBIE: We left in the cart.

LIAM: Yeah, it's 30 minutes later.

MATT: I'd probably grab it just because I've been the one who has been holding it.

AABRIA: Fine.

ROBBIE: You're the mule.

AABRIA: Noted.

MATT: Put it back and sandwich it between two, I've only got two pies left, guys. I'm sorry, I thought I bought more for a longer journey but we're all hungry hippos over here so--

AIMEE: Okay, I feel like these pies have seen their better days.

MATT: These are good for at least two weeks!

AIMEE: Oh no.

ANJALI: Oh wow.

AIMEE: I don't think so.

ROBBIE: Dariax.

MATT: Yeah?

ROBBIE: May I try a pie? And I'm going to approach him.

MATT: Oh, totally. I got a-- actually, I don't even remember what these are. One of them is probably chicken. (groaning)

ROBBIE: I'm not interested in pie. (chuckles)

AABRIA: Nothing happens.

ROBBIE: How do I feel?

AABRIA: Fine.

ROBBIE: Fuck, all right. I'll take a-- Do you have one of the fish ones?

AIMEE: (groans)

MATT: No, no. Weirdly enough those don't last quite as long, so I got rid of those yesterday, but the other one I have down there is a currant, kind of like a-- It falls apart in my hand, I'm like--

AABRIA: (groans)

MATT: Here, just--

ROBBIE: Thank you.

MATT: It's fine.

ASHLEY: Do we notice?

AABRIA: Oh, I'm not going to make you roll for that. You can decide.

ROBBIE: (laughs)

AABRIA: I'm leaning towards yes, but if you want to play it dumb, that's all you, baby.

ASHLEY: Okay, I see it. I'm not going to say anything.

AIMEE: Is there a physical change in him or is it just kind of a feeling?

AABRIA: Just a feeling.

AIMEE: Oh.

AABRIA: You just don't see him reacting obviously negatively to being in proximity.

ROBBIE: I used to vomit black--

AABRIA: Yeah. Did juices come out of his body?

ANJALI: Something's-- huh.

MATT: I don't see it. (laughter)

MATT: Let's go, buddy!

AABRIA: Yeah! Unbothered.

ANJALI: (laughs)

AIMEE: Wow, so you're not sick or anything? Huh.

ROBBIE: No. Maybe we don't have as much to worry about as we thought we did.

MATT: Yeah, good night's sleep does a solid, good job.

LIAM: Yeah, maybe just some space from it. Maybe that's what it took.

AIMEE: Yeah, but he's eating something that was touching it so I don't think so. (chuckles)

LIAM: I don't know what the rules are for pie.

AIMEE: That's true.

ROBBIE: I think we're clear--

LIAM: An ultimate corruption--

MATT: That is pretty powerful.

AIMEE: Yeah.

MATT: Fy'ra, you know this jungle. You want to point us in the right direction?

ANJALI: We're already moving in the right direction.

MATT: Oh, perfect, great. We're not moving yet. Are we moving?

LIAM: We are now.

MATT: Okay, let's move.

AABRIA: I was assuming a Sorkin walk and talk the entire time. (laughter)

AABRIA: Vibes.

ANJALI: Apologies, that was so not yes, and. I have really could have been not listening to--

MATT: No, no, I like to imagine it's funnier that they've been walking this whole time but he's been so in his head that Dariax didn't realize until this moment that they've been walking this whole time. He's like: Oh, you're right. Yeah, we have been walking, wow.

ANJALI: I mean, we've not been walking in circles, at least.

LIAM: "So, you know this jungle?" "We're on a boat." (laughter)

ANJALI: This is not a jungle, it's an airplane!

MATT: Okay, uh-- (laughter)

ANJALI: Yes, indeed, I'm so good at improv, yeah. (laughter)

AABRIA: All right, Fy'ra, normally a survival check is for the leader to see if they can discern the right way to go, but you know better than anyone else that that's not the point of this next stretch. So I need everyone to make a survival check.

LIAM: Survive.

ROBBIE: You piece of--

AABRIA: Let me know if you get below a five, and thank you in advance if you do.

AIMEE: No, no, just barely, fuck.

MATT: 13.

MATT: Okay.

ANJALI: Seven.

AABRIA: Okay.

ASHLEY: 10.

LIAM: 18.

ROBBIE: 11.

AIMEE: Six. (cheering)

ROBBIE: Still with us.

ANJALI: Pew pew pew!

LIAM: Just dodged dysentery. (laughter)

AIMEE: Oh no, Mary Jane got cholera. (laughter) Nobody gets it?

ROBBIE: No, we all got it.

MATT: Oh yeah, we are the Oregon Trail generation.

AABRIA: Yeah, oh.

ROBBIE: We all were in the computer lab together.

ANJALI: Absolutely, absolutely.

LIAM: Green pixels.

AABRIA: Yeah, you caulk your wagon and float it. (laughter)

ROBBIE: You shot four tons of meat. (laughter)

AABRIA: So you all walk for some time and the jungle becomes more and more impassable before you and you're now climbing on all fours, navigating the brush. And you all remember why you're here, right? What you're looking for.

AIMEE: I feel like Opal has forgotten, to be honest.

LIAM: We're looking for a Rosetta Stone.

AIMEE: A rune?

ASHLEY: The ruins.

AIMEE: Ruin or rune.

ASHLEY: And we need to find the Rosetta.

LIAM: Something to help us understand what was back with the Fire Ashari.

AIMEE: Oh god, that seems like 400 years ago. (sighs)

AABRIA: I'm glad we reminded the group because you hit a clearing and in front of you a strange pile of rock and rubble, unnatural, manmade with a singular column on top of it carved intricately in runes that you cannot read. And that's where we're going to take our break. (cheering)

ROBBIE: Yeah, okay. (slapping table)

ASHLEY: Ooh!

AABRIA: Yay!

AIMEE: Yay!

ANJALI: ♪ Welcome to the jungle! ♪

AABRIA: It's time for a challenge. All right, we will be back in just a moment. Don't go away.

Break[]

LAURA: Hey Critters, Laura Bailey here. Let's see what's up in the Critical Role shops. I mean, the Traveler always says impulse purchases on a good decision. Roll an investigation if you want. It's basically perfect. (engine revving) You're only like five clicks away from owning this. Maybe more, if you have a lot of windows open on your browser. I don't know your life. (liquid pouring) This is a lot of stuff, you guys. We have like, so many cool things right now. I mean, seriously, look at this thing. So click on over to the Critical Roll shop. Don't worry, there's a few more minutes in the break. You've still got time.

Part II[]

AABRIA: And we return back to it. You all have been traveling through the jungles of the Rifenmist Peninsula now for-- who can say how long? But as Fy'ra Rai correctly beseeched the jungle, it was time and so you find yourselves here at the first clearing in this heavily-wooded jungle that you've seen in days on foot. Before you, a rocky plinth and on top of it, a shard, an obelisk, flat, carved with runes that you don't recognize-- you can't read, but you certainly recognize. So what do you want to do?

MATT: Is this it?

ANJALI: You tell me.

MATT: Am I supposed to tell you?

AIMEE: It looks like it.

ASHLEY: It sure looks like it.

ANJALI: I believe you have been looking for something, no?

LIAM: We're trying to find anything that can help us decipher. Is it similarly marked up to what we saw back with the Fire Ashari?

AABRIA: Make a perception check for me.

LIAM: That is a 17.

AABRIA: Yes, there's a size to these runes. They're fat and intricate and you see several of them written down the front.

LIAM: We saw something like this. I don't know what this says. Can any of you make heads or tails of it?

AIMEE: No.

ASHLEY: Is this--? Did you write down the-- this may have nothing to do with this, but I think you wrote you down a rune.

AIMEE: Yes, so I pull out the thing and is it a rubbing? I don't remember, or maybe I just drew it.

ROBBIE: It was a rubbing.

AIMEE: But I don't know, does it look like it? The same language?

ROBBIE: How many symbols roughly are on this obelisk?

AABRIA: You're pretty far away, but you can see at least a dozen down the front in very big lettering and you can't tell if there's more written on it.

LIAM: And look-- Go ahead.

MATT: Let me have a look. They look the same? (laughter)

AIMEE: The expert.

AABRIA: Amazing. Can you make just a general intelligence role for me, my good dude?

MATT: Seven.

AABRIA: Yeah. Same shape, but not quite the same. Same letter family, but there's no immediate match.

MATT: I'm sorry to report, it's different.

AIMEE: Thanks.

ROBBIE: Should we try to get closer and maybe write these down as well?

LIAM: One sec. Orym starts to curve to the right and move 40 feet away from it, a perimeter around and see if there's anything that we haven't seen already on different sides.

AABRIA: Vibes, I'm not going to sit here and count out the little things. This is a visual representation. But as you start to circumnavigate it, can you make a nature check for me?

LIAM: It's a natural 20. (exclaiming)

AABRIA: Better than normal. You begin to slide over and this clearing, there's something about it and you're so deeply-- you're not a druid, but when you were raised, it's nature versus nurture. Nope, that didn't come out right but (laughs). As you go around, there's something unnatural about all of this and then as you slide towards one of these very big fern-looking plants, you see it twitches just a little bit in your direction. Do you continue to walk?

LIAM: Not towards anything that's twitching.

AABRIA: Yeah. Dang, natural 20s are fun. The plants here, those very big ferns-- have you ever heard of a mantrap in your times studying and traveling the world, Orym?

LIAM: I spent a lot of time amongst druids, so yeah.

AABRIA: You recognize that this pattern of the way that they're outlaid and circling this very specific plinth with what you believe is the exact thing you need, it's hitting every red flag and you've been traveling with a bunch of red flags the whole time. So the fact that it's rising above the noise floor is pretty impressive. Is there anything else you would like to know I'd want to offer you?

LIAM: No, but I will stage whisper to the group. Don't touch anything willy-nilly. I think that the plants are dangerous.

ROBBIE: Like poisonous?

MATT: I thought you said there's nothing to worry about in the jungle?

ANJALI: I went to speak when I heard him say that and then she just kept her mouth shut.

MATT: Is she telling the truth? Has she been lying to us this whole time?

LIAM: More like mobile.

AIMEE: I'm sorry-- (laughter)

AABRIA: I don't like being perceived! (laughter)

AIMEE: I know we've been traveling for a long time to get here, but can someone remind me what the hell we're here for? I know we're supposed to use this as a decoder, but for what?

MATT: For the rune that was on top of the mountain in the ash hole.

AIMEE: Oh, the ash hole.

MATT: Yes.

LIAM: We need to translate the ash hole.

ROBBIE: But I think that's why we should get closer and try to write down what's on this obelisk.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: (shing)

AIMEE: Oh.

ROBBIE: I'm going to take Orym's lead except I'm going to go on-- like, crescent moon mirror him on the other side.

AABRIA: Okay.

ANJALI: And as he pulls out his sword, I just watch him slightly concerned, but say nothing.

AABRIA: Okay. Give me a nature check and go ahead and make-- I just keep making you do wisdom saves the whole time because that's all I know. Make a religion check for me.

ROBBIE: 11.

ANJALI: Where's-- Oh. 13.

AABRIA: With an 11, you start to move in the other direction and you heard a general warning about the plants, but you're not necessarily sure about which ones to look out for until you get within about 30 feet of one of these big open ferns and (poof) a cloud of pollen shoots up into the air. I need you to make a dexterity saving throw.

ROBBIE: Sure. Oh, thank god, something-- okay, 14. Something hopeful.

AABRIA: The moment you see it happen, that triggers that right sense and you immediately back up.

ROBBIE: Okay.

AIMEE: Which plant was that? Or are we not, just any plant?

ROBBIE: Something in my field of view.

AIMEE: Oh, okay.

ROBBIE: As he typically is, Orym's right. Careful, they're spewing something into the air.

AABRIA: Fy'ra, while they're talking and investigating the situation, you hear a voice. There's nothing to reach out for, just a warm breeze circling this place, moving towards you and, "It's time. I need to know if they can pass and see the truth or not."

ANJALI: They may not show it as clearly as some, but these are not-- these are good-hearted ones and they will do right by you and they will do right by this world.

AABRIA: "We'll see." And the breeze goes a little cold.

ANJALI: My friends, set your intentions wisely in this place.

ASHLEY: How do you mean?

AIMEE: What do you mean?

ANJALI: Whatever is in your heart, this place will know. I cannot tell you more.

LIAM: I think-- I don't know what to do. Maybe make a rubbing of this as well?

ROBBIE: It's a lot of rubbing. (laughter)

ROBBIE: I don't have anything to write on.

AABRIA: Oh, you have your paper. We'll just allow it.

ROBBIE: Sure.

AABRIA: I mean, if you don't want to.

ROBBIE: I'm going to continue on my path, but circumvent the spewing thing and try to get close enough to make out at least 50% of the obelisk.

AABRIA: So you're getting closer?

ROBBIE: Much closer, yeah.

AABRIA: All right.

ROBBIE: Close enough to where I can-- I don't know how big the runes-- (laughter) What's my eyesight? Do I need glasses? (laughter) Close enough to where I can make out the writing or that's what I'm attempting to do.

AABRIA: Okay, I'm going to say, in ominous D&D language, you got to get within about 30 feet to see it.

ROBBIE: Fuck. I'm making my way there.

AABRIA: All right.

ASHLEY: ♪ Making my way back home ♪

AIMEE: How far are we from the thing in feet?

AABRIA: Oh, this is a general approximation. I'm just trying to give you a visual cue. If it becomes a thing that we need to adjudicate, you'll know.

AIMEE: After?

AABRIA: No, as it's happening.

AIMEE: I try to do some shit? Okay.

MATT: Wait, I've got a plan.

AIMEE: Okay, what's the plan?

MATT: So these things seem to know when you're getting close, right? That's why it wouldn't spew the dust stuff?

ROBBIE: I've never encountered them before.

MATT: Are these plants evil, Fy'ra Rai? Don't lie to me, I'll know.

ANJALI: My friend, there is nothing good or evil here--

MATT: Good enough for me, all right.

ANJALI: -- other than--

AIMEE: Oh my. (laughter)

MATT: I'm going to go ahead--

AIMEE: Let her finish.

MATT: Oh, I'm sorry.

ANJALI: I think I've just been mansplained in my own place. (laughter)

AABRIA: Mantraps do do that.

MATT: Sorry.

AIMEE: So they're not good or evil. What are they then? Just--

MATT: Hungry?

AIMEE: Oh.

MATT: So do you got stuff for this rubbing?

AIMEE: I have stuff.

ROBBIE: I'm going to write it down. I cannot rub an entire 10 foot obelisk.

LIAM: But maybe--

ROBBIE: I could try.

MATT: Never say never.

AIMEE: This is a big mistake.

ROBBIE: I could certainly try.

LIAM: If anyone's up to the task.

AABRIA: I didn't mean for it to be this way. (laughter)

ANJALI: Do we ever, though? Does it ever really start with what we mean for it to be?

AIMEE: The rub-elisk.

ASHLEY: The rub-elisk.

MATT: Look.

LIAM: Rubble rubble.

MATT: Look, just trust me.

ROBBIE: I don't.

MATT: I'll help you. (laughter) I'll help you go get this rubbing.

ROBBIE: All right.

MATT: Just let me touch you.

ROBBIE: All right. (laughter)

MATT: And I cast Invisibility on him.

AABRIA: Oh! Okay.

ASHLEY: Interesting.

AABRIA: All right.

ROBBIE: Well, one good turn deserves another.

LIAM: Oh no.

ROBBIE: And I cast Invisibility on you.

AABRIA: Thus breaking your Invisibility.

ROBBIE: No, I don't know how to use it! (screaming)

ROBBIE: Fuck! You're invisible now.

ANJALI: I just look down--

ROBBIE: I'm sorry.

ANJALI: --and shake my head.

ROBBIE: I didn't know that's how it worked.

AABRIA: You have the spell, right?

ROBBIE: Fuck.

AABRIA: You are responsible for that information, my dude.

ROBBIE: Goddamn it, all right.

ASHLEY: Oh my god, that's amazing.

ROBBIE: So I'm no longer?

AABRIA: You're not invisible because you cast a spell.

ROBBIE: That's the first time I've ever done that, Dariax.

MATT: Me, too!

ROBBIE: Do you think you are capable--

MATT: Oh, totally.

ROBBIE: -- of writing down these letters?

MATT: Probably?

AIMEE: Oh god.

ROBBIE: All right. Opal, give him the paper and pen.

AIMEE: Do you want me to do it?

ROBBIE: No, he's already invisible.

AIMEE: Okay, here. Where are you? (laughter) Here, down there.

MATT: Okay, fine. And now since I wasn't holding them at the time, there's just a floating--

AABRIA: Yeah!

MATT: -- bit of paper and a writing utensil.

AABRIA: Amazing.

ANJALI: I'm just looking up.

AABRIA: So you're just making your way downtown?

MATT: I'm making my way.

AABRIA: Like straight shot?

MATT: Well, I mean, yeah. (laughter)

AABRIA: Cool, cool, cool.

AIMEE: I hate it.

MATT: Don't worry, I got this.

LIAM: Don't step on any plants.

AABRIA: All right, I'm going to offer you, no, no, no, no. Just make just an intelligence-- nah, nope. You just walk forward.

MATT: Yeah.

AABRIA: And you see as two mantraps give up their pollen because they don't need to see you because they're plants--

MATT: Right, no, I get it.

AABRIA: And do not have eyes. Yeah, I know! I'm just explaining for anyone that's going to get at me in the comments with why this went badly.

MATT: All you hear is Dariax go: Well, that's not fair! (laughter)

AABRIA: Please make a wisdom saving throw for me.

MATT: For each of them or just the one?

AABRIA: Yeah, for two of them.

MATT: All right and hell yeah. Nine and 11.

AABRIA: Oh my god. Well, one of them, you just (sniffles) and shrug off, but the one to your right, the smell of it, I can only describe it like Fruity Pebbles or a Froot Loop, just the most delicious non-fruit you've ever smelled, perhaps in lotion form and you make a beeline toward it.

MATT: You watch as the floating pad just goes carefully (swooshes) right to one of the plants.

AABRIA: Would anyone like to do anything as he is in a full sprint towards a big plant?

ASHLEY: We don't see him, right?

AABRIA: You see the bouncing paper.

LIAM: I'll try to run straight at him while dodging any plants and kick him. Jump with the Longstrider boots and just plant my feet into his chest and kick him down.

AABRIA: Okay, you know what?

MATT: Where's my chest?

LIAM: I don't know! (laughter)

AIMEE: That's my butt.

AABRIA: I'm going to say this has to be an acrobatics check. I'm going to make the DC pretty high for you to avoid-- Can you get a leap out before hitting that barrier at which the plants wouldn't clock you, too.

LIAM: Okay.

AABRIA: So go ahead and make an acrobatics check for me.

LIAM: That is a 22.

AABRIA: Well-- well, dang. Yeah, you like a little flea just bloop outside of its range and sphere and go ahead and make an attack roll for me with disadvantage because you kind of know where he is, but you don't know if he's running with it behind him, in front of him.

AIMEE: He would, too.

AABRIA: Up in the air.

LIAM: Is this an unarmed strike?

AABRIA: This is an unarmed strike.

LIAM: Good. I rolled real high. That is 23 to hit.

AABRIA: Oh my god, does that meet your armor class? (laughter) Yeah, I'm going to say you can get him center mass dead in the chest.

LIAM: Yeah, I see a paper going like this and I aim for that and my foot plants against the paper and goes (splat) against the solid surface and then he bounces back and lands six feet away. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. You okay?

MATT: (groans)

ANJALI: Fy'ra just looks down and chuckles.

AABRIA: Go ahead and make another wisdom saving throw for me.

MATT: Natural 20.

AABRIA: Oh my gosh.

AIMEE: All right, baby!

MATT: Knocked some sense into me.

AIMEE: Yes.

LIAM: Into his sternum.

AABRIA: You kicked the logic into his sternum and it resonated within you: Do not head for the Fruity Pebble plant.

MATT: As I say: By the way, avoid the Fruity Pebble plants.

LIAM: But it's so Fruity Pebbles.

AABRIA: It's so good.

MATT: All right. Sorry, distraction. I pick up my things.

AABRIA: Yeah.

MATT: Get closer.

AABRIA: There's more of them.

MATT: But I know what they're about now. So I'm going to be very stealthy.

AABRIA: Okay. Go ahead, make a stealth check.

MATT: Okay. Do I get advantage because I'm invisible?

AABRIA: Sure, yeah, okay, okay.

MATT: Barely helped. Nine.

AABRIA: Okay (laughs).

AIMEE: Back at it.

AABRIA: All right.

MATT: Guys, I got this covered, don't you worry.

ROBBIE: Are we all just watching this transpire?

AABRIA: I've got to say, if anyone-- peanut gallery, please make just a general intelligence check for me.

AIMEE: I want to do something. Ooh!

ASHLEY: Oh, great.

AIMEE: Wait, where's intelligence?

ANJALI: 11.

LIAM: Little old seven.

AABRIA: Oh, okay.

ROBBIE: 14.

AABRIA: 14.

AIMEE: That's a 21.

AABRIA: Yeah, okay, both Dorian and Opal, you've been watching and trying to figure out what to do and then it dawns on you. These things don't have eyes. There's no sneak.

AIMEE: Okay, no sneaking!

MATT: What?

AABRIA: He's going.

AIMEE: No sneaking! Wait, can I try something?

AABRIA: Yeah, what do you want to do?

AIMEE: Can I form a cloud with Druidcraft with rain that rains?

AABRIA: That's a bit intense for a cantrip.

AIMEE: Well, maybe just a cloud above the one he's close to?

AABRIA: Make an arcana check for me. It's a stretch, but I kinda like it.

AIMEE: Why not?

AABRIA: It's a spicy flex.

AIMEE: 20.

AABRIA: Yeah, I'll give that to you. You make a little rain.

AIMEE: Okay, I make a rain-- Oh, I got it.

AABRIA: A little foot-sized rain.

AIMEE: How about this? I make a rain cloud-- Oh, well, this is going to fuck you up, but it's going to save your life. So I'm going to make a rain cloud over Dariax, over him. So wherever he goes, it's raining. So maybe the pollen can't get to him. That's what Opal's thinking. It may not work, but that's what she's thinking.

MATT: You hear me say: Opal, they can see where I am now!

AIMEE: They know where you are!

MATT: Yeah, I know!

AIMEE: No! 'Cause no-- they just know.

ROBBIE: Okay, it was an idea. It was an idea. It might help if the pollen--

ASHLEY: Washes it away.

AIMEE: Yeah, washes the pollen away.

MATT: I'm almost there, hold on.

AABRIA: You keep moving forward. Make a wisdom saving throw.

AIMEE: But it is raining over him?

AABRIA: It is raining over him.

MATT: 11.

AABRIA: Okay, you keep moving forward and you get within 30 feet of those plants right surrounding the plinth and they don't go off, but you do hear a voice in your head. There's been a lot of voices in your head lately. This place is full of ladies with opinions and questions. "What do you want?"

MATT: To draw a picture of the thing on the rock.

AABRIA: "Why?"

MATT: Because there's a big mountain with a big-- it's hard to explain. We met a cool guy back in the city who needed to know if this could help him understand a picture of another rune thing that was on a mountain that we need to know to help our friend who is trying to get help from the fire friends.

AABRIA: "I'm not going to lie, I lost the thread of that as you were talking."

MATT: We're not going to do anything. We're not breaking any stone. We're not hurting any plants. We just need to draw a picture real fast.

ANJALI: Is he speaking?

AABRIA: He is responding out loud.

ANJALI: Okay, and now I am extremely engaged and watching.

AABRIA: "And what if I told you no. What would you do then?"

MATT: I mean, I'd be sad and disappointed to be honest. We came all this way and we've been through a lot of trouble and we're not stopping or being a problem to anybody, you know?

AABRIA: "You could go farther."

MATT: Wait, go farther?

AABRIA: "What if I told you that there was more, more than this? A place of knowledge that has been lost for so long. Would you keep going or would you stop here?"

MATT: I look back at the rest of the group, who don't see me looking back. (laughter)

AABRIA: The raincloud shifts just a little bit.

MATT: Would it help them?

AABRIA: "I think so."

MATT: Yeah, I'd probably keep going.

AABRIA: "Okay. Then keep going."

MATT: But can I also draw a picture of this thing while I'm here?

AABRIA: "Yeah, if you really want to."

MATT: Okay cool, I'm going to do that, thank you. (laughter)

AABRIA: And you keep moving forward and you can get up to the plinth.

MATT: Okay.

AABRIA: You all see him step onto this and what you are standing in front of is, yes, a 10 foot thing. It's covered in this ancient runic writing. You can write down as much as you want, take a rubbing if you really want to. I hate saying it out loud. But you don't see any writing in any other language. Just whatever this is.

MATT: All right, all right. Give me just a second. All right, I'm at the stone.

AIMEE: What do you see?

MATT: A lot of writing.

ROBBIE: Did you write it all down?

MATT: I'm working on it. It's a lot of writing. I haven't written this much probably ever, hold on.

ROBBIE: Be sure to get it in the right order.

AABRIA: "Fearne, what do you want?"

ASHLEY: Hmm? (laughter)

AABRIA: Mister is looking up at you and tugs on your shirt and just gestures around.

ASHLEY: Oh. What do I want? Well, I want lots of things. Are you talking big picture or small?

AABRIA: "Why are you here?"

ASHLEY: Well, I guess we're looking for a translator of sorts. We're looking for the Rosetta Stone.

AABRIA: "That's not it."

ASHLEY: It's not?

AABRIA: "No. There is more."

ASHLEY: Where is it?

AABRIA: "Farther."

ASHLEY: What is this?

AABRIA: "A piece. A lie to protect the truth that I hide here."

ASHLEY: Oh. That's very smart. Would you let us pass so we could see it?

AABRIA: "Perhaps. What will you do if I don't let you through?"

ASHLEY: Well, I guess there's not much we could do because I don't know where you are and I guess all we could do is just take the information from this stone that I guess is a lie.

AABRIA: "The stone's not a lie. The ruins are a lie."

ASHLEY: Oh. So what we're seeing is not what's real?

AABRIA: "It's not what's left. There is more. But I have to know if you're worthy of it. So why are you here? Why are you here? You've traveled so far."

ASHLEY: I'm here because we're just trying to... to help people, I guess. There's lots of problems going on in the world that I don't know if you know, so we're just trying to help, I guess. I'm sure many in this group are worthy, so we don't all have to go.

AABRIA: "I will ask."

ASHLEY: Thank you.

AABRIA: "Dorian, why are you here? Get away from that plant, oh my god."

ROBBIE: Sorry, sorry. My friend is here and we're copying the runes? Is that wrong?

AABRIA: "No. Is it enough?"

ROBBIE: I don't know.

AABRIA: "Then why are you here?"

ROBBIE: It's where we were told to go. I believe.

AABRIA: "If I stop you here, if I turn you back, what will you do?"

ROBBIE: What will I do? We have what we need. I suppose I wouldn't care. But if you tried to stop us from what we were set out to do, I don't think we'd allow it.

AABRIA: You feel a breeze ruffle your clothing. It's a little playful and a little mean and I need you to make a strength saving throw.

ROBBIE: Good thing I'm super strong.

AABRIA: You're so strong?

ROBBIE: Dirty 20.

AABRIA: Oh yeah. You feel that it would have been enough to push you off of your feet if you hadn't been so tensed up during this interaction.

ROBBIE: And it's specifically wind?

AABRIA: Yeah, just a little breeze.

ROBBIE: Almost done, Dariax?

AABRIA: Still rubbing.

MATT: Working on it! It's coming along. It's a lot of writing. It's a very big stone, it looks a lot bigger up close. Far away, it was very small. Up close, very big stone.

ROBBIE: Got it, got it.

MATT: All right.

AABRIA: "Opal."

AIMEE: Ted?

AABRIA: "No."

AIMEE: Oh. Yes?

AABRIA: "Why are you both here?"

AIMEE: Both? Who?

AABRIA: "You and Ted."

AIMEE: Oh, Ted's not here. No, I look just like Ted, but-- Well, I'm prettier than Ted, but she's not here. No, it's just me.

AABRIA: "No, that's not true."

AIMEE: I mean, is she here? (shouting) Ted?

AABRIA: "Don't yell, you don't have to yell. This is a peaceful moment--"

AIMEE: Oh, sorry.

AABRIA: "-- between a lady and a god. Wild, tight."

AIMEE: Oh, sorry.

AABRIA: "No, you're good."

AIMEE: I don't know what plant you're smoking, but Ted's not here.

ANJALI: (laughs)

AIMEE: I--

AABRIA: "Okay."

AIMEE: What did you ask me?

AABRIA: "Why are you both here?"

AIMEE: Okay, again, it's just me and I'm here.

AABRIA: "Again, I'm a fucking goddess, so no."

AIMEE: Oh my god, you're a goddess?

AABRIA: "Yeah, I'm the Wild Mother. What? Did you not figure that out?"

AIMEE: Oh my god, what? Ugh, stop!

AABRIA: "Yeah. What?"

AIMEE: Okay, I have questions. Where is Ted?

AABRIA: "If I answer your question, will you finally answer mine?"

AIMEE: What was your question?

AABRIA: "Why are you here?!"

AABRIA: I'm here because it's an assignment. We're on a mission.

AABRIA: "I'm getting that answer a lot. I meant on a spiritual level."

AIMEE: Oh, because I want--

AABRIA: "Why are you here?"

AIMEE: I want to make a name for myself.

AABRIA: "Just you?"

AIMEE: Yeah. Oh, and the squad. We don't have a name yet, but we will.

AABRIA: "Where do you think Ted is right now?"

AIMEE: I don't know, probably in a library somewhere.

AABRIA: "That's not true. That's not what you think. Where do you think Ted is right now?"

AIMEE: I don't know. And maybe that's what I'm scared of. I don't know.

AABRIA: Make a-- Make a religion check.

AIMEE: 10.

AABRIA: You look down and the grasses that you're standing in at the far edge of this clearing, there's dew on it. And it seems to sparkle brightly. And as it glints up at you in your eye, there's a moment where you leave yourself and your vision turns inward. And you see for just half a heartbeat, Ted, standing there, staring at someone that's staring at her and then you come back.

AIMEE: Goddess?

AABRIA: "Mm-hmm?"

AIMEE: Did I swallow Ted?

AABRIA: "It's honestly an easier way to explain it, yeah."

AIMEE: (gasps) Get her out!

AABRIA: "I can't, I can't!"

AIMEE: (retching)

AABRIA: "No, no, don't barf in me!"

AIMEE: I don't want Ted in here. I don't want her in here. The whole point of this so that I can have my own life.

AABRIA: "You're at the beginning of something even more dangerous than where you are now. But you have to keep going to see it through, to see her again." To get what you want."

AIMEE: Well, I just saw her.

AABRIA: "It was a vision. I gave you a vision for a second. Wow, wild. Girl, you good?"

AIMEE: No, I swallowed my twin.

AABRIA: "That's not quite-- okay. That's fair. It's a little jarring."

AIMEE: Yeah. So what are we going to do about it? I mean, you're a goddess, so tell us.

AABRIA: "I'm not one that created this, and I cannot solve it for you."

AIMEE: The rune? We're just trying to get some answers.

AABRIA: "Yeah, I know."

AIMEE: Okay.

AABRIA: "But there's even more answers if you just keep going."

AIMEE: Okay, well, we're going to keep going. We'll just, you know, he'll do his thing and we'll keep going. What direction?

AABRIA: "In."

AIMEE: Okay.

AABRIA: "Orym of the Air Ashari, why are you here?"

LIAM: And this is just pervading our entire consciousness when this happens?

AABRIA: You specifically-- Give me a wisdom saving throw.

LIAM: 17.

AABRIA: You look forward and you're looking out across the clearing and you see at the far edge the wind picks up bits of detritus, moss and leaves, and swirls it up. And it almost looks like a humanoid figure staring out across at you and the voice is in your ear, yes, but your eye is drawn there. And the little beam of sunlight that illuminates it across the glade.

LIAM: Few reasons.

AABRIA: "You've traveled so far."

LIAM: Maybe.

AABRIA: "You've never looked back."

LIAM: I haven't figured it out yet.

AABRIA: "That's good. The world is big and wide and terrifying and bright. And you're never going to figure it all out. All you can do is take one foot, put it in front of the other, and keep going. Orym, I have so much I would have you see. Will you keep going?"

LIAM: For him, I will. For them, I will.

AABRIA: The leaves overhead begin to fall. And they gather on the hilt of your sword and just sort of settle there. They don't fall away and you feel something warm there. What do you do?

LIAM: He's just overcome by the beauty of it.

AABRIA: A breeze, light and pleasant, swirls around you carrying that weird Froot Loop smell. I put that in the world. And it holds you there in this moment. "Keep going, Orym."

LIAM: Okay.

AABRIA: And you're simply held in that as Dariax, yeah, go ahead and make a intelligence check for me. Let's see how good you did. You have advantage because I gave you plenty of time as I interrogated the group.

MATT: 14.

AABRIA: Okay. There were hundreds of symbols.

MATT: I paraphrased.

AABRIA: Respect, you got the big ones in the center.

MATT: Yeah, the ones that looked important.

AABRIA: Yeah, you got all the big kids there.

LIAM: Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right?

MATT and AABRIA: Yeah. (laughs)

AABRIA: B, A, B, A, start. And you pull it back realizing that you have this large piece of runes, but no real answers. But the way is open to you and you look back and you can see Fy'ra. What are you doing right now?

ANJALI: I have been clocking as each one of them, I've seen them talking quietly, whether I've been hearing their conversations or not, depending on the distance, I've been just clocking their own personal reactions. Smiling, a little bit concerned with that one's snark. And now I'm back on him.

MATT: With my invisible floating pad. (laughter)

MATT: All right. I did it. I solved the riddle. I'm going to head on back.

AABRIA: All right.

MATT: Can you do the-- I'm still invisible, if you want to--

AABRIA: As you step down off of it, make a perception check for me.

MATT: Me?

AABRIA: Mm-hmm.

MATT: All right. Four.

AABRIA: (gasps) I don't know why I gasped, I know what's coming. (laughter)

AABRIA: You step down off of the rocks and near the mantraps. These two don't go-- they don't immediately poof up with pollen, but they seem to close in on themselves a little bit. And then you hear her voice one more time. "A test. Keep going." And from around the back of this big plinth--

AIMEE: Oh no!

AABRIA: -- a massive, mossy crocodile. Giant, fey, with rows upon rows of shark-like teeth--

AIMEE: Oh god.

AABRIA: -- sort of waddles around and looks at you.

MATT: You drop your invisibility?

ROBBIE: Have you asked me to do it yet?

MATT: I think I was like: Yeah, drop the thing.

ROBBIE: Do I see this crocodile come behind him?

AABRIA: Yeah, I'm going to say that's pretty big and everyone can see it.

MATT: But do I see it with a four?

AABRIA: Nope. You're doing great.

MATT: I finished it!

ROBBIE: You still ask me to drop it, I was like: I don't think you want me to drop the Invisibility right now.

MATT: I finished the job.

ROBBIE: Turn around!

LIAM: Oh, it's too late, man.

AABRIA: And with a big snap at you, I need everyone to roll initiative. (cheering)

LIAM: You're screaming and everything. Shit.

AABRIA: All right, I'll put you roughly right here.

ASHLEY: Oh no. That's so low.

ROBBIE: Too late.

MATT: I am the worst.

AABRIA: I'll say here, actually. About here.

LIAM: Oh, right. I have initiative advantage.

ANJALI: Do I get anything?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: ♪ Crocodile ♪

LIAM: Cockadoo.

MATT: It's fine, I got it.

AIMEE: You got it.

ROBBIE: You did great.

MATT: (tongue click)

LIAM: ♪ Cockadoo ♪

ANJALI: Can I say as--

AABRIA: (whispered) Oh god.

ANJALI: We've all seen this crocodile business?

AABRIA: Yeah, yeah.

ANJALI: As it waddles around, I'm like: Oh, did he do that badly? (laughter)

LIAM: Everybody but Dariax.

AABRIA: And you hear a little sigh. "No." All right. Anyone? Hold on, let me roll mine. Vibes. All right, 21 to 25.

ANJALI: Mm.

AABRIA: Ooh!

ANJALI: Sorry, sorry, sorry, 20, 20, 20.

AABRIA: All right. I'll give the 20. That's fine. That's fine. That's fine. Okay. Anyone, I can never do this math. 15 to 19.

AIMEE: Oh, yes. 19.

ROBBIE: 17.

LIAM: 15.

ANJALI: I like this dance.

MATT: This is my ♪ I got low initiative dance. ♪

AABRIA: Wait, who got 17?

ROBBIE: I did.

AABRIA: Yeah. Nice.

ROBBIE: Kind of.

AABRIA: Okay. 10 to 14.

ROBBIE: Oh?

AABRIA: Oh.

ALL: Oh.

ROBBIE: You're pooping behind a bush or something.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I was busy.

AABRIA: How you doing? What you up to, Fearne?

ASHLEY: I got four.

AABRIA: You got four?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

AABRIA: Okay.

MATT: I'm a nine!

AABRIA: Oh, buddy. Okay.

MATT: It's fine.

ROBBIE: That's fine.

MATT: Just a giant crocodile.

AIMEE and MATT: (groaning)

MATT: Oh god.

AIMEE: Being from Florida, I have seen-- well, alligators. Not quite the same, but.

MATT: Yeah.

AABRIA: Super different.

AIMEE: A little.

ANJALI: Little different.

MATT: Also being from Florida--

AIMEE: Just flip them over.

MATT: -- they're the worst.

AIMEE: They're the worst.

MATT: So is Florida.

AIMEE: Yeah.

MATT: Sorry.

AABRIA: Oh no.

AIMEE: Can confirm.

AABRIA: Okay. Fy'ra, you're up first.

ANJALI: Yes, so I am going to run up to and over the shoulder of Dariax, just behind him.

AABRIA: Okay, okay, okay. I'll get you there.

ANJALI: And one hand on his--

MATT: Whoa, careful, the plants bite.

ANJALI: One hand on his back and I say: Remember what was told to you. Seek in your heart, follow your plans. And I just hold and I'm going to hold. And if the crocodile makes any action, I've got my hand on his back to yank him or move him or--

AABRIA: Well, let me be very, very clear that the crocodile is going to do an action.

ANJALI: Oh, I know.

AABRIA: Okay.

ANJALI: But I can hold and I want to see--

AABRIA: I'm just saying, you're going to hold, it's-- Yeah, all right.

ANJALI: You know what I mean? I want to protect, I want to protect--

AIMEE: She wants to protect.

ANJALI: I want to protect him without hurting it.

AABRIA: Okay. As you run up--

ANJALI: Without involving it.

AABRIA: -- the plants that had been holding back before all of this started, releases a poof of pollen. I need both of you to make wisdom saving throws.

MATT: All right.

AIMEE: Isn't he being rained on?

ANJALI: 17.

AIMEE: Does that help?

AABRIA: Okay. You're good?

MATT: Two of them, you said, or just one?

AABRIA: No, just one.

MATT: Just one? Dirty one.

ANJALI: So as I see that happen, can I use my action as I see that happen?

AABRIA: Yeah, because he's going to do a lean.

ANJALI: As I see that happen and he's-- yeah, I just see the paper starting to go in the wrong direction and the poof and I was like: Never mind, I have you. And I'm going to grab him and literally just toss him out of the way. As far away from those plants as possible.

AABRIA: All right.

ANJALI: I'm going to do a little tossing.

AABRIA: Yeah. But it do be that way sometimes. Go ahead and make a athletics check. Are you going to let this happen?

MATT: I'm not going to say no to her.

AABRIA: All right. You can fight it if you want.

MATT: I know better than that.

AABRIA: All right, so as you're leaning in--

ANJALI: 19.

AABRIA: Yeah. You're able to pick him up and move him bodily. I don't think you've got a good throw in, but you can--

ANJALI: Just enough to get him away from the spores.

AABRIA: Yeah, absolutely. Sweet. What else do you want to do?

ANJALI: What else do I have? That's an action and that's my move. My movement and my action are what I have, right? So I have a bonus action? Can I hold my bonus action and use later?

AABRIA: Nope.

ANJALI: Nope. All right. In that case, I say it out loud: Don't make me do this. And I just punch the crocodile.

AABRIA: Yeah. Make an attack roll. Let's go. Punch it on its snoot.

ANJALI: 17.

AABRIA: 17 hits. Roll your damage.

ANJALI: Oh! (laughter)

MATT: Follow through! Right!

ANJALI: Wait, two plus-- five.

AABRIA: Okay.

ANJALI: I'm a little thrown by having to punch a crocodile.

AABRIA: So you just punched it with your hand?

ANJALI: I just punch it with my hand, I don't have my staff. I am not taking out my weapons.

AABRIA: All right. It recoils like (growls)

ANJALI: I know, I know.

AABRIA: It doesn't seem off put by it. It's not a shark. Even though he has a lot of teeth. And it's going to be fun in a second, okay. That's you. Opal, you're up.

AIMEE: Okay, I'm going to scream at everyone: Get it on its back. I know what to do with crocodiles. They can't turn over. And then--

AABRIA: Hold on, roll a deception check on me. Is that true?

AIMEE: That's true! I'm from Florida, I know these things. That is a-- what'd you say? That's a 13.

AABRIA: I don't believe you, but we'll see how it goes.

AIMEE: Google it!

AABRIA: Tight, tight, tight.

AIMEE: Okay. So--

ROBBIE: Are you sure that's not a turtle?

AIMEE: You guys, I swear.

ANJALI: If this is true, I love you so, even more than I already did.

AIMEE: She's Googling, she's Googling.

AABRIA: Actually, inspiration for actually looking this up. Thank you.

AIMEE: They get docile when you do that.

ASHLEY: Oh, yeah.

AIMEE: They do.

AABRIA: That's a puppy.

AIMEE: Girl, just wait.

AABRIA: Baby! Okay. Hold on, you keep doing your action.

AIMEE: Well, I was going to wait to see if that's true.

AABRIA: Okay, we'll wait on this. That's fine.

MATT: Come back around.

LIAM: First thing that comes up is fainting gators.

AABRIA: What?!

AIMEE: I'm going to assume that that's true--

AABRIA: Wild.

AIMEE: -- because of my knowledge--

AABRIA: Sure.

AIMEE: -- of living around these things.

AABRIA: Okay. Yep.

AIMEE: And I'm going to--

AABRIA: Vibes.

AIMEE: Do I have a clear shot anywhere?

AABRIA: You have a perfect shot.

AIMEE: Oh, perfect shot. I'm going to--

ASHLEY: Not wrong.

AIMEE: Not wrong!

AABRIA: Hate it. Hate to have learned it.

ASHLEY: I see alligator, but if you put it on its back, after 15, 20 seconds, the alligator goes limp.

AIMEE: Yep.

ASHLEY: And becomes unresponsive.

AIMEE: There you go.

MATT: Four rounds. Keep it on its back for four rounds and we'll be fine.

AABRIA: You have a mission.

ANJALI: It's called tonic immobility.

AIMEE: There you go.

ASHLEY: It's so widespread in the animal kingdom. We know surprisingly little about it.

LIAM: Thank you, Melora.

AABRIA: Wild!

AIMEE: ♪ Ba-bum ♪

ANJALI: The Wild Mother's like, "I am freaking out right now. This is nuts. Dope."

AIMEE: Okay, so I'm going to cast Hexblade's Curse on it first. And then I'm going to also cast-- Can I do this? -- Eldritch Blast at one of its feet so that it could flip over. Like when you go for a tire so that the car flips.

AABRIA: Yeah. This is--

AIMEE: A disaster, but Opal thinks this way, so--

AABRIA: Vibes. Go ahead and, yeah, make an attack roll.

AIMEE: Okay. Oh, wait, do I have a special thing here? Yes. 18.

AABRIA: Yeah. An 18 hits.

AIMEE: Great. And now--

AABRIA: Roll your damage.

AIMEE: I mean, hello. Oh, here we go. It's rolling. A 13.

AABRIA: All right, 13 points of damage as you hit it in the leg and it buckles because it's not a tire--

MATT: (laughs)

AABRIA: -- and turns and snaps in your direction, but keeps moving forward in order to do a cronch on Dariax.

AIMEE: Damn it. Sorry, Dariax. I don't think I can do anything else. That's good.

AABRIA: Do you want to move anywhere?

AIMEE: No.

AABRIA: Do you want to get in range of one of these very cool plants that I have?

AIMEE: No, thanks.

AABRIA: You sure?

AIMEE: Yeah.

AABRIA: All right, vibes. That's fine. All right. My big boy is going to come up and attempt to do a pair of cronches. One on Fy'ra, one on Dariax.

MATT: Did you drop the Invisibility on me or did you keep it up?

ROBBIE: I still got it up for now.

AABRIA: Oh, then it's going to be at disadvantage.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

MATT: All right.

AABRIA: Perfect. It's not going to get worse than a natural one.

AIMEE: (laughs) Sorry.

AABRIA: I just want to see if it would, it didn't, okay. All right, so a 19?

ANJALI: Yeah.

AABRIA: Cool, and a natural one. It snaps generally towards the paper.

MATT: Right. I hit the ground after she threw me. I'm like: Ow, I don't-- What was that? (yelps)

AABRIA: As it snaps right next to you. and then turns at you. Does a big cronch and bites right into your shoulder. And I need you to make a constitution saving throw.

ANJALI: Mm-hmm.

ROBBIE: He got dirty teeth?

AABRIA: He got those dirty teeths.

ROBBIE: I knew it. That's a real alligator.

AABRIA: You're going to take three points of piercing damage.

ANJALI: ♪ 21 ♪

AABRIA: Oh, you feel the beginnings of something. It stings and burns as it comes through, but you're able to shrug it off for now. For now. Now this thing is leveled into you as it comes back and is preparing. It's going to lunge and try to do something, but that's all it's got for now. Dorian, you're up. Orym, you're on deck.

ROBBIE: All right. How far am I? Okay, I can get there. I'm going to say: All right, Dariax, you're in the game now. And I'm going to break the concentration and so he becomes visible.

AABRIA: Vibes.

ROBBIE: And I'm going to make my way into the fray. And I'll come up about right to the left of him.

AABRIA: Okay. So okay. You move through and these plants that had been docile and open to you, is going to get off a little poof as you cross through. So go ahead and make a wisdom saving throw for me.

ROBBIE: Hey, natural 20.

AABRIA: Oh, yeah. You're fine.

ROBBIE: Yay.

AABRIA: You cross through uninterrupted. Do you want to be in melee range with the chomper?

ROBBIE: Yes. I'm ready.

AABRIA: All right, perfect.

ROBBIE: And I will, yeah. I'll take a swing at him with my scimitar.

AABRIA: Yes!

ROBBIE: Ooh. Eight. A big fat whiff, I suppose, and--

AABRIA: You swing out and strike it. And you catch it in what you thought was its rugged carapace and you just knock away these ferns that were living on it. So you give it a little bit of a hedge clipping.

ROBBIE: Shit. All right. So I'm going to flip the moss off. I'll pop out my handaxe, my flute axe. And I'll take another swipe at him with my off hand for my bonus action.

AABRIA: Yeah, get him.

ROBBIE: Ooh, let's go with-- Oh, 18.

AABRIA: Yeah, an 18 absolutely hits.

ROBBIE: Cool. So alligator fact--

AABRIA: God, if y'all hit me with alligator facts the whole time, I will turn him over onto his back myself.

ROBBIE: The top of their head's got this really hard armor plating, but they've got about a half-dollar sized spot where their brain is empty. So I'm going to aim for where they don't have that plating. So I'm going to aim for that. I'm going to take my handaxe and swing down right in the top of his dome.

AABRIA: Yes.

ROBBIE: With--

AABRIA: Give me the damage.

ROBBIE: Ooh, it's so savage for three.

AABRIA: Ooh, three points of damage! You catch it in its little baby soft spot at the top of its head and it gets stuck in there. And it roars and whips you around and is starting to pull you into its orbit, but you did some good, good damage. I will let you know though, you didn't cast another spell, so you didn't have to drop Invisibility unless you wanted to.

ROBBIE: Oh, so even if I take an action, it does--

AABRIA: Oh, it's if the person that it's cast on.

MATT: Right. As long as-- The concentration remains until you cast another spell that requires concentration. Or you take enough damage to drop it.

AABRIA: Yeah.

MATT: So.

AABRIA: So I just want to put that on the table if you want to.

ROBBIE: You're out here on these streets. Sorry, buddy.

MATT: No, I get it, totally.

AABRIA: On the streets!

MATT: Let's do it.

ROBBIE: I fucked this up from the beginning, I'm going to keep on fucking it!

AABRIA: Hooray!

MATT: I don't know how magic works, it's okay!

AABRIA: Beautiful. Orym, you're up.

LIAM: Okay. I counted the squares; I should be out of range. However, I have just enough to run up behind Fy'ra Rai and use-- That's 30 feet to get right behind her. And if I use a superiority die and use Bait and Switch, I can switch positions with her. So Orym comes running up, dives and rolls under her legs and stabs into the gator while pushing back with the shield and nudging her back five feet.

AABRIA: Amazing.

LIAM: "-- you or the other--" The superiority die I get to add to my AC, which I will totally do since I'm in front of a gator.

AABRIA: Heck yeah.

LIAM: Oh, that is a shitty roll. I did not hit.

AABRIA: How do you know?

LIAM: Well, let me add this. I'll use my superiority die.

AABRIA: Yeah.

LIAM: Nine.

AABRIA: Okay, no.

LIAM: No. But I get to add the (mumbled) superiority die to my-- superder-derrity die to my AC, so I'm now up higher. Okay. Good.

AABRIA: Brilliant.

LIAM: Actually, Action Surge.

AABRIA: Yeah, let's go!

LIAM: Oh, I didn't add anything to the previous, two plus seven is nine. Actually, sorry, that should have been 15.

AABRIA: Hits.

LIAM: Okay, so the first one hits and that is seven. I will still take that second attack with my Action Surge.

AABRIA: Love it, love it.

LIAM: Which is a 13?

AABRIA: 13 just misses.

LIAM: Okay, good. Good to go.

AABRIA: Okay. Paint me a word picture with that cool slash. You did a cool thing, I want to know about it. Tell me about it, sir.

LIAM: Well, the first one hit, so he came-- dove under her legs, came up, and stuck right into the inside upper part of its mouth. Pushing Fy'ra Rai back, pulled it out and then tried to get it in, but glanced off of teeth, I think.

AABRIA: Ooh, I love that.

LIAM: And is now just there in a bad spot.

AABRIA: Nice.

LIAM: Dang. We're in a tight spot.

AIMEE: Dang it

AABRIA: Okay, Dariax, you're up. Fearne, you're on deck.

MATT: After falling on my ass I was like (screaming), then they all rush in and start attacking it (panting), then all of a sudden he rolls in it and stabs it. (laughs nervously, screams) He's going to get up and--

AIMEE: Sounds like Mister.

MATT: Yeah, just continuous scream. (laughter)

MATT: The spear in one hand, pulls off the necklace with the compass rose in the other and holds it in front and goes (grunts). And is going to release a Burning Hands torrent at level two.

AABRIA: Yes.

MATT: Forward in a cone to just skim past the front faces of both Dorian and Orym.

AABRIA: Amazing.

MATT: So that'll be 4d6 plus-- Yeah. 4d6. That's pretty good. I'm going to go ahead and use a sorcery point on that to do Empowered Spell, so I can re-roll up to three dice.

AABRIA: That's fun, we want that for you.

MATT: One more time. All right, got it. So that is 19 points of fire damage to the creature as a spinning torrent, this small cone of intense flame just (fire whooshing) erupts from the front of that necklace in the front of the spear as he's going (screams).

LIAM: And it just misses us?

MATT: Yeah, like (whoosh).

AABRIA: What's my spell save?

AIMEE: Just a nose hair, just an inch.

MATT: Is 14.

AABRIA: Okay. I rolled a 13, so you're good, yeah. So 19 points?

MATT: Yes.

AABRIA: Oh my goodness. You send forth this cone of burning and all of that foliage and plant life and moss that was on it and in it and of it burns away. And you're left with this massive, fey-looking crocodile with big holes in its hide, where those plants were growing out. And it looks toasty and pissed. Nicely done. Fearne.

ASHLEY: Okay, so I'm going to take my movement to get as close as I can around to--

AABRIA: Is your move 30?

ASHLEY: 35.

AABRIA: 35.

LIAM: Those long goat legs.

AABRIA: You can get all the way up to behind Dariax.

ASHLEY: There-sies?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: So I will-- You know what? I'll go around the other side, so I have a little bit of an opening. I mean, unless I can peek through. Yeah. That's perfect, I'll do that. And do I recognize that he's a fey crocodile?

AABRIA: I mean, you have a strong sense that this is not a normal-- Actually, you know what? No. Make a nature check for me.

ASHLEY: Okay. 18.

AABRIA: You remember seeing a lot of-- This is what gators look like at home. So it's a pretty good guess that these are not these ones.

ASHLEY: Okay. Excuse you! You're being very rude. So what I will do is I am going to cast Entangle and try to send up some weeds and vines and things from the ground and try to just entangle him.

AABRIA: Okay, okay. I rolled a natural one.

ANJALI: (laughs)

ASHLEY: Okay. [dice clatters on floor]

ASHLEY: Oh, there it goes.

AABRIA: It be that way sometimes.

AIMEE: Bye bye.

AABRIA: Okay, bye!

ANJALI: Love you, bye!

MATT: Perfect.

ASHLEY: Okay. So he's entangled.

AABRIA: Okay. Beautiful.

ASHLEY: And I didn't want to hurt him too bad because he's from home, but I just wanted to make sure that he's--

AABRIA: He's all locked up.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

AABRIA: What do you want to do, a bonus action? Anything else?

ASHLEY: Bonus action.

AABRIA: Did Mister come up with you?

ASHLEY: Mister did come up with me.

AABRIA: Okay, cool. Just chilling in the back like, "Nah, you got this. Good job, mom."

ASHLEY: Bonus action, I'm going to stop there. I'm just going to Entangle and keep him there because I don't want to do anything too terrible to this very nice woman's house that was talking to us.

AABRIA: Amazing. Okay, Fy'ra, you're up. Opal, you're on deck.

ANJALI: So I've been pushed back by Orym. And I'm just going to say again out loud: This is not my test to have. Do I have to help finish him?

AABRIA: "Do what you will. It's fine. It's fun."

ANJALI: All right. Then let's get in the game. She slides past Orym, she pulls out her staff.

AABRIA: Do you want to be between everyone or on the side?

ANJALI: I don't want to be near that plant.

AABRIA: The plant has gone off. I'm not going to trigger this plant.

ANJALI: Awesome, awesome. So I'm going to come around his right side, and actually, you know what? Yeah. I am going to use Flurry of Blows.

AABRIA: Okay.

ANJALI: And I am going to pull out my telescoping staff, take one hit, and two bonus hits.

AABRIA: Beautiful, let's go.

LIAM: I forget, is that an advantage because it's tangled, or no?

ANJALI: Well, it's a 19 to start with, so I think I hit it, though, right?

AABRIA: Oh yeah, you absolutely do.

ANJALI: Okay, great, so that's one of them. I roll damage first, and then go the other two hits, yes?

AABRIA: Yep. Yep, yep, yep.

ANJALI: Word. Which is 1d8 plus three. You guys, you guys, you guys. d8, d8--

AABRIA: Restrained, absolutely, let's go.

ANJALI: d8, d8.

AABRIA: Thanks, Liam, for making me look up the spell.

ANJALI: 11 points of damage with my first strike.

AABRIA: Beautiful.

ANJALI: So that first strike, I land right in that little soft spot.

AABRIA: We're just putting weird stuff on it.

ANJALI: That I saw was-- well played.

AABRIA: (laughs)

ROBBIE: We haven't got him upside down yet, we're not in the clear.

AIMEE: We're almost there!

ROBBIE: We're not in the clear.

ANJALI: That's all right. And then I'm going to telescope it around for two.

ANJALI: 19 plus six, oh, it's 25.

AABRIA: Hits.

ANJALI: And an 11.

AABRIA: I mean, you still have advantage.

ANJALI: I'd still have advantage?

AABRIA: Yeah.

MATT: Right, because it's restrained.

AABRIA: Yeah.

ANJALI: 18.

AABRIA: Oh my god.

ANJALI: Yeah, so. All right, well, that's just four, and that's eight. Four and eight, so 12.

AABRIA: Total of 12. Another 12?

ANJALI: 12 and 11. The first one was 11, I believe.

AABRIA: Yep, yep, yep. He's looking real bad, as he's bound up and getting hit, and he doesn't seem to be crying out in pain. Its massive mouth is just worked-- it's worrying at the vines on the ground, like it's trying to get back in the fight. Make an arcana check for me.

ANJALI: Jesus, that was a natural one. Plus two, so three.

AABRIA: Oh, cool, thanks. (laughs) It's a big gator, and it's fine.

ANJALI: But I am going to say: I'm sorry, my friend, she's asked me to.

AABRIA: The thing I will give you, is that this thing is not quite behaving like a normal animal that would probably react a little differently to being caged and surrounded. It's still doing its job.

ANJALI: Yeah.

AABRIA: All right, is that you?

ANJALI: That's talking, and bonus actions, and actions, so yeah, I think we're good.

AABRIA: Opal, you're up.

AIMEE: Man, Opal's ready to fucking go. (laughter)

AABRIA: Let's go!

AIMEE: She's going to flip this bitch!

ANJALI: Flip it!

ASHLEY: Get it!

AIMEE: She's going to flip this bitch. Okay, so she's going to sprint her whole movement, which I think is 30 feet, and then, hold on. Before she lands, she's going to Misty Step--

AABRIA: Ey!

AIMEE: -- on top of the gator, or the croc. Can we do that?

AABRIA: Yeah.

AIMEE: Okay.

ASHLEY: Do it!

ROBBIE: Get up on the croc!

AIMEE: So now we're on top of the crocodile.

AABRIA: You're on a croc.

AIMEE: And here's what I don't know if I could do, but I really want it to.

AABRIA: God, I want to let this happen.

AIMEE: I want to take my Vicious Whip and I want to-- I know it's already bound, right, but I want to-- I'm on top of it. I would like to wrap it around it and then--

AABRIA: Hold on, I need way more.

ANJALI: Oh my god.

AABRIA: Keep going, I'll get you there. Don't you worry, baby bird.

ASHLEY: I love this so much.

AIMEE: Okay, so I want to wrap the Vicious Whip around this crocodile, and just hoping above all hope, swinging her weight just to see if this crocodile will just turn. So it's wrapped around.

AABRIA: This is so disrespectful.

AIMEE: She's really committed to this idea.

AABRIA: All right, which way are you trying to roll the gator?

AIMEE: I'm going to go this way.

AABRIA: What does that mean? You know I don't-- That doesn't mean--! You're pointing at a screen. Clockwise or counterclockwise?

AIMEE: The croc's mouth is here, we're going right.

AABRIA: Okay, cool.

ASHLEY: Get it.

LIAM: Get that 20.

AIMEE: But hold on. She's going to jump, but she's going to jump far enough that it's not a roll, it's a jump, off of the gator, and pulling all of her weight.

ASHLEY: Yes!

ANJALI: Yes!

AABRIA: I worked so hard to get you on the gator. and you jump off the gator?

AIMEE: No. She's going to jump down.

LIAM: This is some Laura-Bailey-level haggle.

ASHLEY: And I love it. I love it.

AABRIA: Psychotic.

MATT: Can't help but respect the hustle.

AIMEE: ♪ I am honored ♪ Yeah, that's what I'd like to do. I don't know if you're going to let me.

AABRIA: I mean, I am so deeply invested on if the dice wants this to happen. So please make an athletics check.

ASHLEY: Come on.

ANJALI: Come on, baby. Come on, Mama. Come on!

AIMEE: Don't embarrass me. Oh, what did you say? Athletics?

AABRIA: Yeah.

AIMEE: 19. No! Sorry, 17. That's a minus one. 17.

AABRIA: Another natural one. (cheering)

AABRIA: And that was literally the scenario you needed.

ASHLEY: Yes!

AABRIA: Opal, please describe how you flip the gator. (cheering)

AIMEE: So Opal has never believed in anything more than this. She so rarely has insight on this kind of thing, because she's so new and young into the world, but she knows about these fucking crocs. She heard it somewhere.

MATT: Grow up in Byroden and you hear things.

AIMEE: Yeah. So she's got this whip, right, that has somehow magically gone around, and she's going to take all of her might--

AABRIA: She's a hundred pounds soaking wet.

AIMEE: -- and jump as far as she can. But he's under, but he's tied already, he's been hurt.

AABRIA: That should be harder!

LIAM: But she knows where her center of balance is.

AIMEE: And also, a Hexblade's Curse--

ASHLEY: I love this so much.

AABRIA: What does that even mean!?

AIMEE: I don't know, something he fucked? And then she's going to just jump, and the most serious face you have ever seen on Opal, she's just going to jump, like, what is that? 10 feet? I don't know. And land spectacularly on her feet, while our croc just flips over with a thunk and its legs go like this.

AABRIA: Oh my god.

AIMEE: And that's it.

AABRIA: I hate this so much.

AIMEE: And she just stands there victoriously like, I've seen this happen.

AABRIA: And under the vines that you've entangled, you just see this thing that does a tiny little... Like crocodiles and alligators are known for their death roll, but you did it to the cro-- It's wild. As this thing just hits its back, looks as stunned as I do in this goddamned moment, and is just on its back, still restrained, and just like, "Uh..."

AIMEE: We don't want to hurt you. Stop!

AABRIA: (uncertain groan) I'm going to say it's also stunned for this round, because wow. I need everyone to make a perception check for me in this literally unbelievable moment. I've never been betrayed so hard by dice.

ANJALI: 16.

AIMEE: 14.

ASHLEY: 19.

LIAM: Natural 20.

ROBBIE: Dirty 20.

MATT: Four.

AIMEE: Oh my gosh.

MATT: I am, if anything, reliable, okay?

AIMEE: Wow.

AABRIA: And you, Dariax, are just staring down the barrel of this massive beast that's flipped right in front of you. But the rest of you see, as Opal jumps off, something happens, like your vision blurs for a second and you're not quite looking at Opal. It's her, but it's also another version of her with darker hair and a wider set, and muscles that are straining with the effort of rolling her-- of rolling this big, stupid crocodile. And as Opal hits and rights herself, you see the two images shutter over each other and it resolves back up to just Opal in front of you. You didn't notice it because you're busy just living that life here on these streets.

AIMEE: Yeah, just doing her victory dance.

AABRIA: Amazing, okay. He's going to spend his turn attempting to do anything about what just happened to him, and with a four it's just... All right, that's one round of him just laying on-- he's having tummy time, and I respect it. Dorian, you're up. Orym, you're on deck. And this entire encounter has gotten away from me. I just want to say that at top.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

ROBBIE: I cannot fucking believe that worked.

ASHLEY: It totally worked.

ROBBIE: I am going to approach the flailing, slightly stunned crocodile. I'm going to rub the little bottom of its little jaw right here, and slowly close its mouth and pull out my hempen rope out of my bag and hog tie his mouth up.

AIMEE: Yes.

AABRIA: All right, I'm still going to say that this is an opposed strength check, because I got to give him a chance for this to not be the most done. (sighing) Okay. (sympathetic sounds)

ROBBIE: I don't want to kill him.

AABRIA: All right, you have to beat a 14.

ROBBIE: We'll see. That'll be a natural 20. (cheering)

AIMEE: This croc is not dying today!

ANJALI: My merciful warriors!

AABRIA: I'm not going to keep fighting. The encounter is over! (cheering)

AABRIA: We're done here. What do I do to that?

ROBBIE: Hog tied him up. The jaws are closed, upside down.

ASHLEY: Wow!

AIMEE: Okay.

ASHLEY: You were totally right.

AIMEE: You know what? One time, we went on a field trip. Not here, but another place where there were gators and crocodiles, and I saw a guy do it and I was like, wow.

ASHLEY: That was so impressive, my goodness.

AIMEE: Thanks.

ANJALI: I'm just going to check my shoulder and see how bad it is. Is anything happening? Like am I feeling worse, am I--?

AABRIA: You see the beginnings of dark green veins from those puncture points, but they are held at bay.

MATT: All right, here, let me help you with that. I'm going to go ahead and cast Cure Wounds on you, try to shore that up a bit. You heal six points.

ANJALI: Wow, thank you. Don't even remember how many I took. How many did I-- I don't know.

AABRIA: Are you asking me?

ANJALI: Yeah, I'm asking you.

AABRIA: I'm not taking care of like 11 other things.

ANJALI: I'm going to pretend that I took double that, because I deserve it.

MATT: There you go.

AABRIA: Oh, that's hurtful.

ANJALI: I deserve it, I deserve it. You healed how many?

MATT: Six, so you get--

ANJALI: I'm going to say that I took 12 and that you healed six of them, because that feels like I deserve it.

AABRIA: It feels like a lot.

ANJALI: All right, then I'll say--

MATT: No, go for it! Six it is.

ANJALI: All right.

AABRIA: Yeah, okay.

AABRIA: I'm still lost in the sauce on this entire encounter.

ANJALI: It's okay.

AABRIA: It's fine.

ANJALI: So I-- thank you.

MATT: Hey, no worries, that was, um--

ANJALI: And I look up and I say: So, how have they fared?

AABRIA: The sound you hear is the shaking of leaves in the trees, and birds chirping loudly, songbirds of the morning and ones of the evening all kind of crying out at once, and it sounds like laughter. And the massive crocodile has just given up, and it's just waiting and watching. Hasn't gone away, is no longer attacking, and he's just left in this moment. What do you do? Melora is well-pleased.

ANJALI: Yes.

MATT: Dariax pets the throat for a sec. Sorry about the (vocalizes explosion) thing. You're not too bad when you're sleepy.

ANJALI: I smile at all of them and I say: You have done well by yourselves. You have done well by me.

LIAM: Orym reaches out and just starts rubbing the gator's belly. Go to sleep.

AABRIA: And actually at this point, after being petted by two different people, you hear this strange sound in the middle of its throat as it begins to purr. (laughter)

AIMEE and ASHLEY: Aw.

AABRIA: He's fine with this.

AIMEE: Uh, Goddess! Goddess.

MATT: Right, so you heard that, too?

AIMEE: Yeah, oh yeah.

MATT: See, it's not just me anymore. Spider Queen, a lot nicer today.

AIMEE: No, that was a different one.

MATT: I--

AIMEE: This was a goddess, not a queen.

MATT: There's too many voices in our heads.

AIMEE: Technically--

ROBBIE: The queen is a goddess, too. What, like a bad go-- what would that be like?

ANJALI: (clearing throat)

AIMEE: A "boddess"?

ROBBIE: Like a bodice.

AIMEE: A "boddess."

ANJALI: Friends.

AIMEE: (whispering) Where's the goddess? She said there was more to do, right? There was a different-- or more to go.

MATT: Oh, oh! I go grab the paper.

ROBBIE: Oh, Dariax, let me see.

MATT: Here you go.

ROBBIE: And I'm going to take the paper and look at it, and I'm going to go--

AABRIA: You're going to check his work?

ROBBIE: I'm going to go check his work.

AABRIA: Yeah, respect.

ROBBIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

AABRIA: Go ahead and make an intelligence check for me.

ROBBIE: Good thing I'm pretty. Uh, eight.

AABRIA: You're going and you're comparing the marks, and it looks like he got them mostly correct. But the longer you stare at them... you're smart, you're smart. This is fairly inscrutable, these rune-- You just wrote down a pile of shapes. They don't really have a sense of meaning, and the more you look back and forth between the two, the more you realize that like, yeah, he got it down, but what do you do with it?

ROBBIE: Did you ever touch the obelisk?

MATT: No. Should I?

ROBBIE: Should you?

MATT: I go for it. If he tells me that, I'm going. (laughter)

LIAM: Give it to Dariax. He'll try anything. (laughter)

MATT: Yeah, he will.

ROBBIE: I was not baiting you, to be clear.

MATT: You were not very clear to him.

ROBBIE: Oh no! (laughter)

AABRIA: Amazing. So you go up and touch it. I need you to make an intelligence saving throw.

MATT: You got it. Okay. I'm going to use my Favored by the Gods feature.

AABRIA: Melora's like, "Oh, thank god." (laughter)

ANJALI: See, he is favored by the gods.

MATT: There you go.

AABRIA: Please, please, sir.

MATT: Go ahead and add... That's better, kind of-- well, it's four, 1d--? I'll reroll it. How do you cock a 1d4, but I managed to. That was weird. Okay, so that brings it to a... 14.

AABRIA: With a 14, while your hand is placed on this, it's not that you are reading another language, but you realize that the runes are closer to pictograms than they are to letters, and the meaning is clear to you as you're looking between your fingers and up and down at it, and you see lists upon lists of grains, things being stored, a census being taken. Like, this is a massive piece of bureaucracy for a city that no longer exists here.

MATT: I just walk back.

AIMEE: What was it?

MATT: Boring.

AIMEE: What do you mean?

LIAM: How so?

AIMEE: How boring?

LIAM: What's boring about it?

MATT: Oh, it's a bunch of clerical paperwork for some ancient place.

ROBBIE: How do you know that?

MATT: I just touched it. You saw me do it. Touch it yourself. You can see how boring it is. We're going deeper, right? That's what I was going to do. You're coming. We coming?

AIMEE: That's why I was calling the goddess, but she didn't come.

ROBBIE: I'm going to go touch it, too.

AABRIA: Yeah, then make an intelligence saving throw for me.

ROBBIE: Oh, 17.

AABRIA: What's the largest-- Is Emon the largest city you've ever been in?

ROBBIE: Oh, for certain, yes.

AABRIA: As you learn a little bit more about like the lists on here, you realize that the sheer scale of what's being discussed here, this feeds a population, not of 100,000, but tenfold that.

ROBBIE: Dariax is right. This isn't a cipher, this isn't a way to figure out what the rune we were looking for meant. It's just a list.

MATT: Yeah.

ROBBIE: A laundry list of supplies.

LIAM: Tip of the iceberg, maybe?

ROBBIE: Or just a tip of nothing.

MATT: I mean, it's a lot of people, right?

ROBBIE: It's a lot of people.

MATT: It's a big city. How long ago was this? I haven't heard of a lot of stuff, I guess, but, like...

ROBBIE: Well, they're not here anymore, that's for sure.

LIAM: Well, this is the first thing we're hitting. If we keep going, there's got to be more.

ANJALI: As they're discussing this, I am walking around the plinth, the obelisks, around that platform of it, and do a quick Gift check.

AABRIA: Yeah. Make your roll.

ANJALI: And I want to find out, how much do they need me to help?

AABRIA: Yep.

ANJALI: (scoffs) What was that again, insight, perception?

AABRIA: Wisdom.

ANJALI: Wisdom. That would be a three. Yeah, three. It's good timing, good timing for that roll. (laughter) Very good timing for that roll. I am known for nothing if not good timing.

AABRIA: You go and you can feel it even as you're walking around, and they're beginning to speak truth and understanding, and that thrill of excitement. You're not quite sure if it is internal to you or coming from somewhere else, someplace that is excited.

ANJALI: I just really want--

AABRIA: Yeah, and in that-- (laughs) And in that burst of excitement and adrenaline, and serotonin and dopamine, and all of those good emotions, as they're so close, you don't have a sense of where you fall into place here, but you hear the same thing that you've heard on the lips of everyone in your group, "Keep going." And you know that the trial was offered and passed beyond even Melora's expectation.

ANJALI: I'm proud like a fucking mama. So proud of these motherfuckers. The whip! And they tied the mouth! (grunts fiercely)

AABRIA: And even as you're walking around the back, you see the way through here is orders of magnitude clearer and less obstructed than the way in.

ANJALI: So as I see that, I can't-- I can't contain myself, and I just go, (clears throat) Everyone ready?

AIMEE: Oh yeah.

MATT: Can we take him with us?

AIMEE: No.

MATT: (sadly) Okay. Then yeah, let's go.

ASHLEY: Yeah, let's go.

LIAM: I think he's asleep anyway.

AABRIA: Yeah, he's snoring very loudly. How long does Entangle last?

ASHLEY: Let's see.

AABRIA: I have it pulled up.

ASHLEY: Entangle lasts...

AABRIA: Lasts one minute, yeah.

ROBBIE: He's sleeping?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: I'm going to go get my rope back.

ASHLEY: Oh, up to one minute.

AABRIA: Yeah, go get the minute.

ROBBIE: I'm going to go take my rope back.

AABRIA: Yeah, go get the rope. So yeah, as you see the vines slacken across it, he's asleep and just sprawled out, and even as you get that final bit of hempen rope, his mouth opens up, tongue lolls out, continues snoring.

AIMEE: Aw, cutie.

ASHLEY: Good boy!

ANJALI: (baby noises)

ROBBIE: One last little rub.

AIMEE: Okay, I'm ready.

AABRIA: Anyone else? Are you ready to go?

ANJALI: I believe one of you might want to take lead.

MATT: All right.

AABRIA: Survival check! Before anyone can jump, interfere.

MATT: 18.

AIMEE and ASHLEY: Woo!

MATT: Minus one. It was a 19 naturally.

AABRIA: Oh my gosh, it was such a thrill.

MATT: Broken clock, y'all, broken clock.

AABRIA: And with this preternatural sense, you walk around the plinth and exit out of the back of this glade. It's not as difficult terrain as it was before, but it's still rough going. And you're able to continue and make your way through. And with one last look over your shoulder, as you leave the clearing, you see that that big mound where this big old boy once was is now a massive loamy pile with little baby ferns beginning to bud out of it.

MATT: All right, friends, follow my lead. I guess we're going deeper in.

ASHLEY: Okay.

ANJALI: I'm just smiling with... I've gotten very cocky on their behalf.

AABRIA: All right, I will give you one more day. So you're able to travel for the rest of the day, and as night begins to fall, the trees get dark so much earlier than the actual sky does, but once you see those beautiful deep blues as the sun actually leaves the sky, a little pocket, a little clearing is open to you to set up camp.

MATT: Look at that, convenience, even all the way out here. I love it. I'll start a fire.

ANJALI: I like this new found confidence of his that is actually warranted.

MATT: What's that?

AABRIA: Okay. You have one more evening. What do you want to do with it?

ASHLEY: That was fun.

AIMEE: So, any name ideas?

LIAM: A few. Had them in the back of my head. Can't land on one, though.

AIMEE: Tell us. I've been trying to work "hot" in, but--

AIMEE: It's hard.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: The Tummy Rubbers.

AIMEE: It doesn't invoke fear.

MATT: Yeah, you're right, not really.

AIMEE: Respect.

ANJALI: Although, it does seem to go along with a group of people who travel in a glitter shitter. (laughter)

AIMEE: The Glitter Shitters.

ROBBIE: Come on, Orym, hit us with them. Don't be shy.

LIAM: I got a couple, I don't know if they're winners. We're an odd lot so, "The Odd Lot"?

AIMEE: Like it.

MATT: Odd Lot's not too bad.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

LIAM: We've so far come into contact with three gods, so I thought maybe "Gods' Folly", or "The Irregulars."

AIMEE: Oh.

ASHLEY: That's pretty fun, too.

AIMEE: I like The Irregulars.

MATT: I don't know.

AIMEE: No?

MATT: I eat pretty well, I'm pretty regular. I'm kind of digging The Odd Lot, to be honest. I've been called odd most of my life.

AIMEE: I mean, we can work in hot in that, I'm just spitballing, The Hot Odd Lot, or The Odd Hot Lot.

LIAM: The Hot Odd Lot Thots.

ROBBIE: That's a mouthful.

MATT: How about it's The Odd Lot and the rest is just kind of implied, or said in secret to the people we really trust?

AIMEE: Okay.

MATT: Like we're the Odd Lot, (whispers) Hot Odd Lot. You know what I'm saying? Yeah.

ASHLEY: The Arshholes is out? The Hot Arseholes? Or that's--

LIAM: I think we know--

AIMEE: That's a real--

ASHLEY: That sounds like a rough night.

LIAM: The way it works is I think is that we know we're the Ash Holes.

ASHLEY: We know where it is, yes.

LIAM: But when we talk to other people, it's The Odd Lot.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

AIMEE: Or The Hot Lot.

ROBBIE: Still really pitching the "hot" thing, aren't you?

AIMEE: Hot Machina. (laughter)

MATT: That's not even a word.

AIMEE: Too close?

LIAM: What's a machina?

AIMEE: I don't know.

ROBBIE: I think it's some sort of dance.

AIMEE: Machine.

AABRIA: Even the jungle goes quiet on that one. And one cricket just--

AIMEE: (vocalizes chirping)

ANJALI: As they're having this conversation, I'm just shaking my head and laughing in the corner, and Fy'ra's eyes start to well up and she just says under her breath: You would like them, Fy'ra Kai, you would like them so much.

AIMEE: Aw. Sweet.

ROBBIE: Well, how about this? The Odd Lot for tonight. We'll consider it our front runner. And if we think of anything better along the way. It's not like we're taking out brochures yet or anything.

MATT: I got an idea.

LIAM: We keep running into gators and we want to go with The Tummy Tuggers, or whatever.

AIMEE: Tummy Tuggers? Wait, Fearne, didn't you say you had an idea?

ASHLEY: I don't think I did.

AIMEE: Oh, okay. (laughter)

ASHLEY: There's not a lot going on up here.

ROBBIE: You had an idea, Dariax?

MATT: I don't know, I know we said there's not much of a leader, but like, you know, some of us has to be the front person when communicating, and if it's a fully democratic experience when we're conversing with folks, that can be a bit, well, confusing, as I've been told. How about Dorian Storm and his Blades of Fury, and we're the blades of fury? Right?

ROBBIE: What if it was... Dariax and His Dashing Backup Dancers?

AIMEE: Oh, I hate that. (laughter)

MATT: Weirdly, I kind of hate it, too. Maybe when we get back to the Black Swan in Emon for a whole different sort of performance. But for the purposes of adventuring on the road, The Odd Lot outwardly, The Hot Ash Holes internally, and to the side, Dorian Storm and his Blades of Fury.

LIAM: Featuring Darla Starr.

MATT: Tharla Starr.

AIMEE: Tharla Starr.

MATT: And I don't want to think about her. That didn't end well.

ASHLEY: I think we need to, you know, see if something comes up organically. I do love these. I love The Odd Lot, but--

ROBBIE: I don't think anyone's married to anything right now.

ASHLEY: Yeah, okay.

ANJALI: You all show great heart, great courage, and great mercy. I have to admit, I did not expect you to be as... as much of what you are as you prove to be at every turn. I'm in awe of you, and I'm in awe of the forces that brought us together. Thank you for allowing me to travel with you.

AABRIA: Please make a wisdom saving throw.

ANJALI: 13.

AABRIA: The moment you say that, there's a little heartbeat, and you feel, on that zoomed out map that you've traveled the world based on, a new spot begins to ping. You're not quite done here, but you know what comes next.

ANJALI: Our time together may be short. There are large forces in the world, and you are a part of them, and I am a part of them, and this place is a part of them. Our journeys may not continue together but I will always be connected to you. I want you to remember that.

AIMEE: Thank you.

ROBBIE: Sounds to me like you're leaving.

ANJALI: I will not leave until-- Until something makes me. That you I can promise.

AABRIA: As you all make camp-- Oops, sorry. Go ahead.

MATT: Noticed you're staring at my pie. Do you want some?

AABRIA: No! Please.

LIAM: Is it the chicken?

MATT: No, no, this is the currant.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Yeah, it's pretty good. Oh shit, we got that crown in here. We could be The Crown Keepers.

AIMEE: Oh!

ROBBIE: The Crown Keepers. Okay.

ASHLEY: It's not bad.

ROBBIE: Speaking of which, are you doing all right? Would you like me to carry the crown for a while or--

MATT: Aw. You're sweet.

ANJALI: For you to carry it?

ROBBIE: No, no, just to bear the load. He's been carrying it the whole time.

LIAM: You know what they say: ignorance is bliss.

MATT: That's true.

LIAM: I think he's good.

MATT: Yeah, if you don't mind.

AABRIA: He catches it.

LIAM: No, that's not what I--

ANJALI: No.

MATT: What?

AABRIA: Bare handed, no reaction.

AIMEE: How'd you do that?

ROBBIE: (uncertain scoff)

LIAM: You feeling nauseous?

ROBBIE: No, I feel fine, actually.

ANJALI: I get up and walk right up to him, face-to-face, close, not confrontationally, but just looking at him. I'm immediately taken back to that same moment that he saw in his dream. And I'd like to roll for The Gift to see what does that mean, that nothing is happening?

AABRIA: Roll for The Gift, but I want it to be an insight check.

ANJALI: 18.

AABRIA: The sort of cool way he regards you, there is a glimmer of recognition there. Something's changed within him. You can see it by the fact that he is holding onto it, but something has grown inside of him, and you see that now. And if you are asking The Gift what that means, your mind drifts back to what may have been a week earlier when you were camping, when you first thought to the wells of power, these gravitational forces within the group, as it gets just a little bit wider, as the potential opens up just a little bit farther, and he is a part of it now. Anything could happen.

MATT: Dariax leans into Opal as this moment's happening, goes: See, and adaptability is the strength of a true leader.

AIMEE: Whoa. Where did you learn that word?

MATT: I think I heard it back in Emon.

AIMEE: Oh.

MATT: He's so cool.

AIMEE: Yeah, he's pretty cool.

ROBBIE: I'm just casually packing the crown into my own pack and cinching it up without really saying anything.

LIAM: You don't really want to carry that.

ROBBIE: It was my decision to keep it. And you supported me. We can't have Dariax bear the load the entire time.

ANJALI: Yes, it was your decision.

ROBBIE: It was our decision. We make decisions together. We're a group. The five of us are a group. The five of us are a group.

LIAM: If you don't hand that back to the dwarf, we're going to have a problem.

ROBBIE: You sure?

AIMEE: Am I missing something, Orym?

AABRIA: Make a charisma saving throw for me, Dorian.

MATT: Actually, he meant six. Six of us are a group.

ROBBIE: What do I do if it's sideways?

AABRIA: Oh, it's cocked, you can re-roll it.

ROBBIE: Ah, worse. Charisma?

AABRIA: Mm-hm.

ROBBIE: Oh, plus four, 16.

AABRIA: You feel a reflexive rush of defensiveness at Orym's words and your cheeks get a little warm, and you get a little hot, but you are aware of that feeling.

ROBBIE: Sounds like a threat, Orym.

LIAM: That's what it was.

AIMEE: Wait, wait, Orym--

LIAM: We got to rely on each other out here. And after the last several days, I'm not going to feel comfortable doing that with you carrying it.

ROBBIE: Well, that hurts my feelings.

LIAM: I'm sorry.

ROBBIE: Fine. I care about you more than this. Does not bother me to hold it or not hold. Fine, fine, fine. Can make issues of all sorts of things, can't we? You know what we could do right now, we could put it in the box and send it back, but we can't, can we? I'll take it out and I'll throw it back to Dariax.

AABRIA: It comes at you even faster than he flings it as the wind has gotten cold and pretty fierce in your campsite.

LIAM: Thank you, Dorian.

ROBBIE: Welcome, Orym.

AABRIA: Orym, make a perception check for me.

LIAM: 23.

AABRIA: As he pulls his hand back and goes about whatever you continue to do, you catch it. Just the faintest glimmer of spider silk across the back of his hand.

LIAM: I don't say anything. Just mark it and sit down and try to deflate the situation a little.

ANJALI: I step back away from him and I say: Well, that was a turn.

ASHLEY: I could always take it and I can just put it on. That was a joke. (laughter)

ANJALI: I suppose the five of you should go get some rest. And I'm going to turn away, and go keep watch from about 20 feet away.

AABRIA: Okay, we'll come back to you. Is there anything else you want to do before bedding down?

MATT: I just go up to Dorian and be like: You all right, buddy?

ROBBIE: Yes, fine.

MATT: I mix up numbers, too, all the time.

ROBBIE: And I'm going to bed down.

AABRIA: Dorian, make a perception check for me. Or Dariax-- damn it, I hate your names! (laughter)

ROBBIE: Double D!

AABRIA: Hate, hate!

MATT: 13.

AABRIA: With a 13, while you're close to him. You see, before he turns away, a little glint of spider silk across his right eye.

MATT: Hey. Back to back?

ROBBIE: (sighs)

ROBBIE: Back to back, back to back.

MATT: All right. I'm going to go and tuck the pouch under my front again, lean up into his back, and then just hold that defensive position, before eventually finding sleep.

ROBBIE: Same.

ANJALI: As I'm keeping watch and watching them all bed down, I'm just watching Dorian with concern, and I say, not to-- I don't know whether I'm speaking to the jungle, whether I'm speaking to my sister, whether I'm speaking to The Gift. But I just say: Please, I know he has changed. I know he will not make the same decision twice. Please keep him safe, and I will do anything again to keep it that way.

AABRIA: Your sort of not that silent prayer goes out and your hair flares up bright in the night and reflects off of what you can see are hundreds of spiderwebs up in the trees. And that's all the answer you're given.

ANJALI: Then I will stay as long as you are here. And as long as he is here, I will watch for you.

AABRIA: Do the rest of you bed down for the night?

AIMEE: I think Opal's trying to see if Ted is really inside of her body. I don't know how she's working that through, but just-- She feels like herself, but--

MATT: She's trying to get that one burp up that's not quite making it's way.

ANJALI: It's not going that way. God knows it might-- could be! (laughter)

ANJALI: Who knows? Who knows where she's coming out?

AABRIA: Make an arcana check for me.

AIMEE: What's that? Oh, that's an natural 20.

AABRIA: Hey! (cheering)

AIMEE: It's shaped like a butterfly.

AABRIA: Oh yay, that's great. So as you settle down for the night, and you're wiggling, trying to figure out how to check for Ted, like a little soul maraca, you begin to doze. And in that strange, liminal space between being awake and being asleep, you're sitting, then you feel a hand cover your hand, and you look to the right and you see Ted.

AIMEE: Ted?

AABRIA: "Hi."

AIMEE: (whispering) Are you dead?

AABRIA: "What?"

AIMEE: Are you dead?

AABRIA: "What?!"

AIMEE: Are you dead?

AABRIA: "No, I heard you. I am shocked, no!"

AIMEE: Oh, well, then what are you doing here?

AABRIA: "The f-- I mean, you're fucking looking for me, and I'm here.

AIMEE: Because someone told me--

AABRIA: "I don't understand. I'll go!"

AIMEE: No! No, I didn't say to go. I was just saying, someone said that you were in my body. And I'm like, "Well, where's her body, then?"

AABRIA: "Oh, no, that's true."

AIMEE: What?

AABRIA: "Yeah."

AIMEE: Why?

AABRIA: "I said it was inside y--!"

AIMEE: Are you okay?

AABRIA: "Are you?"

AIMEE: Yeah.

AABRIA: "Then I am, too."

AIMEE: I mean, have you met anyone fun wherever you are?

AABRIA: "I'm here with you, and I met-- You're really going with The Odd Lot?"

AIMEE: No, I don't like The Odd Lot. I like The Irregulars, but no one likes that. (laughter)

AABRIA: "Why don't we call it The Irregulars?"

AIMEE: We'll call it The Irregulars.

AABRIA: "Yeah."

AIMEE: But don't read my thoughts; that's weird.

AABRIA: "It's kind of part--"

AIMEE: No, no, no, no, no. Don't do it, don't do it. You're not going to like it there, Ted.

AABRIA: "No, I already know how mean you are about everyone, and me, which is rude. And I'm sorry for earlier in Byroden. I just-- I didn't want you to drag Dad into this."

AIMEE: Okay. Okay, where's your body, though? I'm worried about that. Is she just lying around somewhere?

AABRIA: "Super-- Well, now that you put it that way, I'm worried about it."

AIMEE: Yeah, you should be.

AABRIA: "I don't know!"

AIMEE: -- it might be in trouble. So if you need to go visit it once in a while...

AABRIA: "I don't really know where it is, or, if I'm being super honest, really what I was doing before I was here."

AIMEE: What?

AABRIA: "No, I'm your sister. Like, I know--"

AIMEE: Did you get drunk?

AABRIA: "What?"

AIMEE: Did you get drunk?

AABRIA: "I don't think I-- No? No, no."

AIMEE: Okay, just be cool.

AABRIA: "Rude, I'm literally the source of your arcane powers in this world."

AIMEE: I know, I know, but--

AABRIA: "You're telling me to be cool."

AIMEE: I'm the one who wrestled the crocodile.

AABRIA: "Yeah, what was that, by the way?"

AIMEE: Smart. Resourceful.

AABRIA: "You're welcome!"

AIMEE: That wasn't magic, that was body weight, honey.

AABRIA: "Do you know how big that--"

AIMEE: That was body weight.

AABRIA: "You have none of it, because you don't eat carbs."

AIMEE: Excuse me, strength doesn't come from carbs. Strength comes from...

AABRIA: "What?"

AIMEE: I--

AABRIA: "Finish that sentence. Finish it." (laughter)

AABRIA: "Finish something in your life!" (laughter)

AIMEE: And I feel like Opal just laughs with her sister in a rare moment of--

AABRIA: I need you to make a strength saving throw as you are tackled by a hug.

LIAM: Flip you like a croc.

AIMEE: Oh, that's a nine.

AABRIA: And you immediately get tackled down to the side as your sister glomps you with a hug.

AIMEE: Okay, that's what I mean about not being cool.

AABRIA: "This is what I mean about me being stronger than you, and also I love you."

AIMEE: Okay, well, just go to bed. I love you, too.

AABRIA: "Okay. Hey, do you see her, too?"

AIMEE: Who?

AABRIA: "The woman in purple."

AIMEE: No, bitch, who?

AABRIA: And your sister is on top of you holding you, and you feel her face and her attention shift somewhere out past your campfire, past your camp, into the darkness.

AIMEE: Is there a ghost in here, too?

AABRIA: "I don't know. But if there is, I'll protect you."

AIMEE: I'll protect you.

AABRIA: And you just fall asleep. All of you just saw Opal sitting-- And then just fall asleep on her side. (laughter)

AABRIA: Fearne.

ASHLEY: Fearne is going to sort of walk around the group and kiss everybody on the top of the head-- (awwing)

ASHLEY: And look out at Fy'ra Rai, give her a smile, and sit near Dorian and take out the pan flute and just play a little bit of a nighttime lullaby of Hot Cross Buns. (laughter)

AABRIA: Let me play you the song of my people. Make a performance check for me since I haven't asked you to roll a die in awhile.

ASHLEY: Okay. Oh no.

AIMEE: (laughs) "Oh no."

ASHLEY: That is 11. Wait, you had given me inspiration at one point.

AABRIA: I absolutely have.

ASHLEY: Let me try just one more time. Oh, okay, that's good. Well, that's great actually, 21.

AABRIA: Oh yeah.

ANJALI: Much better.

AABRIA: Much better.

ASHLEY: Now you guys might actually be able to sleep. (laughter)

AABRIA: It starts off a little--

ASHLEY: ♪ (recorder version of "Hot Cross Buns") ♪

AABRIA: Yeah, it's a little proggy for Hot Cross Buns.

ROBBIE: You said you didn't know how to play!

ANJALI: Very hot cross buns!

AABRIA: The hottest crossest buns!

ROBBIE: That's it!

ANJALI: I think that's it!

ROBBIE: The Hot Cross Buns!

LIAM: There you go!

AABRIA: That's it!

AIMEE: Oh god, yes!

ROBBIE: (laughs)

AIMEE: I was like-- (yells)

LIAM: HCB!

ROBBIE: The HCB! (laughter)

AABRIA: Oh god! That's the dream, to be the GM of the Hot Cross Buns. (laughter)

AABRIA: Thanks, Melora. (laughs) You sort of play, and yeah, it's-- it's softer than you would expect as the wind picks up and buffets the sound out, and you can feel the breeze pushing it out and away past this little campfire, as the Wild Mother is sharing your music with the jungle around you.

AIMEE: That's sweet.

AABRIA: How long do you stay up?

ASHLEY: I wait until everybody's asleep.

LIAM: Orym, do you go to sleep?

LIAM: No, I pretend to.

AABRIA: Okay.

LIAM: And listen to Opal's entire conversation from behind me, and I listen to Hot Cross Buns. I'm watching Dorian sleep and probably an hour and a half after the whole camp goes quiet, if anyone's still awake, they hear: It's going to be The Ash Holes, I know it. (laughter)

ANJALI: Gee.

AABRIA: Where do hot cross buns get made? In an ash hole. (groaning)

AABRIA: I'm sad I contributed to this.

ANJALI: Fair point, fair point.

ASHLEY: At some point, I do fall asleep, sort of just starfished, the pan flute goes out to the side and just full--

AABRIA: Mister is on top of you, equally starfished.

ANJALI: At some point, I'm probably-- I'm not going to stay up all night, keeping watch through the night. So, I want to make sure I get rest, because I got to--

AABRIA: Yeah. I'll get-- yeah. You are able to absolutely swap, and someone will take another watch. But Fearne, when you fall asleep, can you make a wisdom saving throw for me? Everyone gets one, let's go.

ASHLEY: Oh! That is-- let me just make sure that's not a seven. No, it's a one.

AIMEE: Oh no!

AABRIA: And you just used your inspiration on hot cross buns, right?

ASHLEY: I did.

AIMEE: Damn it.

ASHLEY: That's what it's there for, yeah.

AABRIA: And you fall asleep.

AIMEE: Oh yeah, that's right.

AABRIA: And the camp has gone quiet at this point. So no one notices as one more little, almost imperceptible spider drops onto your shoulder. As you lose consciousness and you wake up in the darkness, but this dark is hot and it's full of pressure, and movement and flow that you can't perceive because it's so dark down here. And you push forward, until you're standing in front of a dark mirror. You only know it because you can see just the faintest shimmer in front of you. You are alone. What do you do?

ASHLEY: I go up a little bit closer to the mirror, just to see what it is.

AABRIA: As you fully resolve to stand in front of it, you see a reflection of yourself, confused, bewildered. And then the ash settles in. The soot fills your hair and your clothing, and darkness from your fingertips, spreading up your body. And in very short order, you look exactly like that forlarren, that dark corrupted satyr that you fought weeks ago, save for one important accessory. And she smiles back at you.

ASHLEY: I don't understand.

AABRIA: "Don't you? You're so close, so much power."

ASHLEY: So I did put it on, the circlet?

AABRIA: "You could, you haven't, you may, (guttural) you must." And when she opens her mouth, you see that little bit of flame, and a set of eyes looking back at you from its depths.

ASHLEY: So what-- How powerful, though?

AABRIA: "Indescribable. You-- we-- I will burn the world if I want to. It's everywhere. It pours out. We could do whatever we want. You could find them, bring them home."

ASHLEY: How would I do that? I just put it on and then they're there?

AABRIA: "No, but you will have strength enough to endure what it will take to find them."

ASHLEY: I miss them so bad.

AABRIA: "I know. No one knows more than I do." (rasping breathing)

ASHLEY: Well, I don't know if I like you very much.

AABRIA: "You'll see in time. They'll leave. You'll be alone."

ASHLEY: That's nothing new for me.

AABRIA: "It will hurt more."

ASHLEY: Well, I think I'd like to wake up because I only want there to be one of me, and I like this version better.

AABRIA: "For now."

ASHLEY: For now. You'll just have to work on changing my mind, I guess.

AABRIA: (sinister laughter) And you hear that raspy cough and somewhere behind it another laugh doubled on itself. Make another wisdom saving throw for me. Yeah.

ASHLEY: Okay. (laughter)

ASHLEY: 18.

AABRIA: You feel the lucidity of this dream. How do you choose to exit it?

ASHLEY: I sit in front of the mirror. I'm going to take off my cape and I know this is something that my grandmother would do and I'm going to put it over the mirror, and I'm going to try to go back to sleep.

AABRIA: And as you lay down, curled in front of the mirror covered by your cape, your last thought, as you drift off in the dream within the dream is the soft flump of your cape hitting the ground as the mirror disappears and you fall into true, restful sleep. Orym, what are you up to?

LIAM: After watching for a while?

AABRIA: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: I think he would have just tried to stay up later than he should have. But would eventually have to give in to sleep. And it seems like, unless you're going to try to kill us all-- (laughter)

ROBBIE: I just want to help carry the bag, man.

LIAM: If he didn't see anything, eventually he would have let himself pass out.

AABRIA: And as you fall asleep, you take your gear off and you have a passing-- that last important thought before you fall asleep. And you just hope that you remember in the morning. Which was as your hand passed over the pommel of your sword, the grip felt a little different, warm somehow. Then you go to sleep, as the sound of Fearne's very jazzy Hot Cross Buns somehow echoes miles away, but still you're able to hear it and you're all able to get sleep. And that's where we will wrap for tonight. Yay! (applause)

ROBBIE: Everything's going to be fine!

AABRIA: Everything's fine! (laughter)

ASHLEY: Yeah, fantastic!

MATT: In the bag!

ALL: ♪ (recorder playing "Hot Cross Buns") ♪

ANJALI: Guys, what a good time it is! ♪ Welcome to the jungle! ♪

AABRIA: Thank you so much for joining us. We'll be back next week with another episode. And until then, I love you so so much, have a good week, and is it Thursday yet?

MATT: Aabria! (cheering) (soft music)

AABRIA: Myr'atta Niselor moves through the jungle. She is battered, broken, bloodied, but undeterred. Lives have been lost against this shifting, shrieking terrain But what's one more life, when there is so much to be gained? Eyes forward, she moves her purple cloak to the side and pulls out another residuum spike. And the entire jungle, Melora's sacred place, shudders.

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