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List of Transcripts

Pre-ShowEdit

MATT: Hello everyone, and welcome to tonight's episode of Critical Role! Where a bunch of us nerdy-ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons.

TRAVIS: That's what we do!

LIAM: What's Dungeons & Dragons?

MATT: You will find out, Liam. He who ran it earlier for his daughter. Congratulations on them making it through the--

LIAM: The Bonegrinder.

MATT: The Bonegrinder, yeah.

LIAM: Those kids, some of my kids, my daughter had some of the pie.

MATT: Yeah. You weren't going to tell them what it was made of, and then you did.

LIAM: I wasn't, but I did.

TRAVIS: You let them live?

LIAM: Yes.

TRAVIS: You merciful lord.

MATT: Well, how much of them lived? It’s Barovia, to be fair. Anyway, welcome. Before we hop into tonight's game, we have some announcements to get through. First and foremost, I believe, if Sam is ready, it looks like he’s stretching himself. We have our fantastic sponsor, for campaign two since day one, our friends at D&D Beyond.

TRAVIS: (singing) D&D Beyond!

MATT: Sam.

SAM: D&D Beyond everybody, they've been such great sponsors, putting up with my shenanigans for so long. So tonight I thought I would just do a simple, normal ad read for them. Just singing their praises of the service of the company, how they're making D&D fun and easy again. So I just wrote a little, quick little-- I left it at home on my printer.

LAURA: Oh no.

SAM: But it's okay, it's okay, no problem. I'm essentially like an improv god, right. So I'll just make something up on the fly. Just go from the heart. Okay. I like D&D Beyond.

SAM: (VO as Mephistopheles) “Ugh, damn it, Sam. You're blowing it. Come on, come up with something, anything.”

SAM: Because it works on PCs and Macintosh. And that's very important because--

SAM: “What! That's the best you've got. Macintosh! What is this, 1997! Say something that helps them sell subscriptions!”

SAM: And their logo is neat.

SAM: “Their logo is neat? Where you kicked in the head by a donkey? Okay, forget the product, just be funny. Tell a joke.”

SAM: Yeah! A priest and a rabbi walk into a strip club at--

SAM: “No! No, no, no! Are you trying to offend people? Look, just sing a song. At least Laura will pretend to enjoy it.”

SAM: Yeah. (singing) I'm gonna, get get get you drunk. Get you love drunk on my humps. My humps, my humps--

SAM: “Stop right now.”

LAURA: That's really good.

SAM: “You are an idiot. Ugh, why did I make a satanic deal with you? Your everlasting soul isn't worth this bullshit. I, Mephistopheles, hereby release you from our pact. Go on, live your life without my constant help and sense of humor. Sam Riegel, I, Satan, am done with you.” (slamming)

SAM: Oh! Wow, guys, I suddenly feel-- I feel like that was a great D&D Beyond ad! And scene.

LAURA: Wow.

LIAM: That really zigged when I thought it was going to zag.

MATT: Yeah!

TRAVIS: That was so good.

MATT: I will say, unfortunately, without Satan at your back, I don't think you're allowed to play Dungeons & Dragons anymore. It's kind of a requirement.

TRAVIS: You gave up your ticket. The table’s not a free ticket, man. Come on.

MATT: Yeah. If the 80s taught us anything.

SAM: That's true.

MATT: Thank you, Sam. And thank you, to our friends at D&D Beyond.

TALIESIN: Wow.

MATT: All right, so a few other things to mention. We put up a video on Wednesday announcing one of our first upcoming series here on Critical Role's channel entitled Handbooker Helper.

ALL: Yay!

SAM: Sue us!

MATT: We were discussing how excitedly the people in Hamburger Helper's marketing team are like, "Why this sudden uptick in interest in our brand?"

SAM: They're flying off the shelves!

MARISHA: Sponsor us!

MATT: So if you guys want to sponsor Handbooker Helper, let us know. Yeah, so anyway, it's going to be a short form series. Bite-sized video snippets, introducing people who have either never played Dungeons & Dragons or want a bit of a refresher course on the 5th edition rules from the handbook, but in very easy to understand presentory fashion.

MARISHA: Bite-sized segments!

MATT: Yes.

MARISHA: Five minutes or less.

MATT: We can't tell you how many people we've been like, "You wanna know how to play D&D?" And we show them the book and they go (breathy recoiling). So hopefully this will help alleviate for some folks that issue and get some more folks that you've been wanting to get on board with the game to play with you in your campaign a little more of a softer introduction to the game. Look forward to that. It launches on August 29th, right around the corner, it's going to be our first episode. So look for information on critrole.com. Marisha, did you have anything you wanted to mention on that?

MARISHA: And on YouTube on Wednesdays. On our Crit Role YouTube.

MATT: Hell yeah.

MARISHA: Yeah, next Wednesday.

SAM: Is the Critical Role YouTube channel called "Critical Role" or "Crit Role?"

MARISHA: youtube.com/criticalrole, I believe.

MATT: But if you're confused, all that information is on critrole.com

MARISHA: If anyone owns criticalrole.com, message us back.

MATT: Please.

SAM: Weirdly, the Hamburger Helper organization owns it.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Big Helper.

TRAVIS: The fucking glove. The glove is like--

TALIESIN: We've been really trying to talk to the glove.

MATT: Also, for those of you guys who didn't notice, tomorrow, our production team here at Critical Role Land are going to be answering fantastic questions from the community about the whole production with this crazy, zany bunch of people. It'll be tomorrow on the Critical Role subreddit at 2:00pm Pacific Time. They'll be on there live answering questions, discussing all the chaos behind the scenes that you guys have wanted to know about. This was, if you don't recall, a special incentive that was unlocked from our fantastic 826LA charity stream that we ran a few months back. Thank you for supporting 826 and making it a fantastic charity push and we’re happy to bring you this next leg of that reward journey back to you. So check it out. As a reminder, next week on Thursday will not be an in-canon episode as me, Marisha, and Taliesin will be off in a dusty place. But that doesn't mean there's not going to be a game. Actually, we are going to have a one-shot next week run by our fantastic Liam O'Brien.

(cheering)

MATT: Liam, if you want to talk a little bit about what and who.

LIAM: Yes, sure. I, too, am dying for the Laura Bailey one-shot, but she has a baby or something. So we're going to wait a little bit longer, but it's coming. I don't want to give away too much, but I'll tell you who's playing. We have La La, Sam, and Travis will be part of the game. And we are bringing in friends TJ Storm--

LAURA AND SAM: Yay!

LIAM: And Erica Luttrell. Both great actors, fun to play with. Again, I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that it will be focusing heavily on motherfucking werewolves!

TRAVIS: (shouting) Motherfucking werewolves!

(howling)

LIAM: Late happy birthday present to Travis Willingham.

MATT: So excited. I'm glad we finally got TJ on, too, because he's great.

LIAM: Yes.

MATT: If you guys don't know TJ Storm, look up his stuff. He's a phenomenal actor, great physical performance capture and motion capture actor. I've worked with him on many video games, a lot of us have. He's phenomenal, but he's also the kind of guy who I had no idea was a huge D&D nerd until we got in an offhand conversation years ago. He like this tall, muscular, long dreads, black dude.

TRAVIS: He's in the Karate Hall of Fame or something like that.

SAM: He is?

MATT: Yeah. He's incredible and has been Dungeon Mastering for 20 plus years, I think. We've played a number of games together and he's awesome. So excited to have him on the show.

LIAM: I met him years ago in Japan doing mocap and on all our breaks he was just playing Civ on his PC and telling me all about D&D. This predates all our D&D, so he is DPB. Dick in the Peanut Butter. Really gets into the game.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: What?!

MATT: All right then.

TRAVIS: Is that a term?

LIAM: I don't wanna speak for you, TJ.

TALIESIN: That was smooth.

TRAVIS: DPTB?!

LIAM: Better than chunky.

TALIESIN: Well, there you go.

TRAVIS: Can we use that all the time, please? Dick in the peanut butter!

LAURA: Great, that's what I'm going to hear at home all the time now.

TRAVIS: Oh my god!

MATT: Congratulations.

SAM: Teach your son.

LIAM: (baby voice) Oh, who's DPB? Who's DPB?

MATT: Oh god.

TRAVIS: (baby voice) Little dick in the peanut butter?

(laughter)

MATT: I've already lost control and we haven't even started the game. Last but not least, when we get at the break, we'll be having our Wyrmwood giveaway. The giveaway will be requiring you to come over into the Critical Role chat room, twitch.tv/criticalrole. We'll keep you up to speed when all that's happening. I think that's it, unless we have anything else to mention.

LAURA: Oh, go to the store and check out shop.critrole.com. Did I get it right? There’s t-shirts, and there’s a bumper sticker that says something about the Traveler, and you know we all love that.

TRAVIS: Retro tee, critter cap, Mighty Nein tee, Vox Machina pin.

SAM: Dad cap!

LAURA: They know what there is! And some pins, check it out. Maybe there's pins, maybe there's not. Maybe you should go check it out to find out.

TALIESIN: Could be anything!

MATT: This is the worst ARG element of our whole show's campaign. Go find out!

TALIESIN: There might be a surprise. Of there is, tell us!

MATT: With that being said, let's go ahead and bring us into tonight's episode of Critical Role!

LIAM: (caterwauling)

[click, TV static] [groovy Critical Role theme]

Part IEdit

MATT: And welcome back.

TRAVIS: DTPB.

(laughter)

MATT: Last we left off, The Mighty Nein, having completed their journey north and their two jobs for The Gentleman, return with a new friend, a new companion, and the memory of an old. You spent two weeks in Zadash utilizing your downtime; some to a very successful level, some at a nearly terribly not successful level, but managing to skirt by. You've taken your time, decided on a new path, a new adventure ahead of you, loaded up your things and currently with your cart, horses, and selves together. You begin making your way towards the southern area of Zadash and out towards the roads ahead. So this is your very last chance: if there’s anything you need to do in the city, or forever hold your peace.

TRAVIS: I need to pee.

MATT: Roll a constitution check.

LIAM: Too real.

TRAVIS: Yes!

TALIESIN: Do we want to raid the adult bookstore one more time? Just kidding.

TRAVIS: 21.

MATT: 21. You can hold it for three more days.

TRAVIS: Okay good, 20.

TALIESIN: You're just going to make a sloshing sound when you walk for a while.

LIAM: Caleb has to find new garage sales to dive through.

TALIESIN: I am all for that.

MATT: As you guys reach the southern gates to the exterior of Zadash, with the creaking of chains and the heavy (thudding) as the large wooden barriers slowly drift open to allow you and a few other carts outward onto the main road. You glance out onto the southern hills below you in the Marrow Valley and you can see the faint dusting of distant snow that has begun to melt in the recent warmer days that have come. The roads themselves are slick and heavy with mud from the snow and rainfall that has managed to still seep in. You can hear hooves making their way through the mud as you push past the barrier. Now last time you were here, you recall seeing large numbers of military that had gathered of the Righteous Brand of which there are very few left, it looks like most have gone eastward and found their way towards the skirmishes you continue to hear about on the borders of Xhorhas and the Ashguard Garrison. The gates close behind you, and you begin making your way now free again in the Marrow Valley southward towards your destination of the Menagerie Coast. First off, who is going to be guiding this first leg of the path? That is three days of travel to Alfield along the road. Who's going to be keeping an eye out? All right, we have Caleb for that. Anybody helping Caleb?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'll help Caleb.

TALIESIN: You think you got it? All right.

TRAVIS: Since we've traveled this once before. Did you want to join?

LAURA: No, it's fine.

TRAVIS: I mean, ladies first if you--

LAURA: No, it's all you.

MATT: Because I glossed over this last session. Caleb, as you sit there, holding the reins to the horses in front and you're focusing ahead, your mind slips back into contemplative thought recalling the time you had spent focusing on the dodecahedron, remembering when you had spent a bit of time over this two-week break studying and trying your best to understand the nature of its enchantment or history. It's a strange device to behold for sure. It both seems refined and primal. You have no idea the source or the length of time that it's existed or what it's true purpose is. Focusing onto it, once again allowing your consciousness to slip gently towards wherever this object draws it in. It feels like you're looking into infinite space both within and beyond this small geometric shape. You take a moment to focus. You can sense and see light and cloud and matter and vacuum, this kind of expanse of everything and nothing between these long stretches. You feel like there's an absence around you, but the more time you spend, the more you adjust to the space, the more your vision clarifies, the more the darkness is not pure darkness but a weave of millions of tiny threads, all moving, faintly traveling in different directions, tugged by some unseen force independently. You watch one thread, you pick one focus, and you can see it pulling along. And it brightens and brightens and brightens until it reaches, in that tiny little infinitesimal push, a burst of light, and it changes direction. And you see in that space where that burst of light had happened, you see seven other shadow-threads begin to emerge from that point that then fade away to nothing, the thread having now curved and taken a different path. A choice, a decision made, and a different destiny for whatever that strange thread is following. And pulling back, you now see the thousands, tens of thousands, millions of these that all wander in their own independent, solitary directions, some crossing, some parallel, some alone. And you wonder what all of this means, and what this has to do with the essence of this device, the powers that it seems to impart, and what it is that the Kryn Dynasty has designs for. You come back in to your moment on the cart as you're rocking back and forth down the pathway, hearing the hooves on the muddy-- now getting drier-- portions of the roadway. You glance around at your friends and shake your head for a moment, and focus once more on the road before you.

TALIESIN: Mr. Caleb--

MARISHA: That's an old joke.

TALIESIN: What are you playing with over there? Seemed really intent on whatever it was.

LIAM: Oh, I'm thinking back on it now?

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: Ask Jester to show you the thingy in her bag.

LAURA: Ooh.

LIAM: Okay, ignore that.

TALIESIN: It's too late, I'm already ready for it. All right.

LIAM: It's something we picked up the first time we came through Zadash.

TALIESIN: Gotcha. Hey, Miss Jester? Apparently you picked something up in Zadash-- I'm supposed to see the thingy in your bag?

LAURA: Which thingy?

TALIESIN: I don't know. Caleb was being very shifty about it.

LAURA: There's some really questionable thingies in here, but you can see them if you want.

TALIESIN: I'd like to see any questionable thing you may have.

LAURA: Okay, well, there's that.

TALIESIN: What is that?

LAURA: You don't want to know.

TALIESIN: Is that even natural?

LAURA: Well. And then there's that thingy. Caleb doesn't know about it, but he will later. And then-- oh! Were you talking about this? It's this box.

TALIESIN: What is this thing?

LAURA: Okay. Well, inside of it--

MATT: It's gone critical!

LAURA: Open it up and just let your mind go and see what you think.

TALIESIN: I'm going to meditate into the box.

MATT: Okay. You focus, and you're familiar-- Roll a third character.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Too soon.

MATT: You, who have spent a large portion of your life in various states of meditation, the gravitational pull of whatever essence of this object is, is something you are familiar with and comfortable letting take over. And with that, your consciousness slips seemingly beyond your physical form and into whatever dark space it seems to have drawn you towards. In this space, you begin to very quickly pick up on details similar to what Caleb had taken so long to focus on. Independently, you begin to pick up the themes and the ideas of what all these strange threads, these--

TALIESIN: Does this place make me feel a little uncomfortable?

MATT: No? It's-- it feels in a weird way like you're--

(bird sounds)

MARISHA: (whispers) They're in the rafters!

SAM: No it's good, it's good, leave it!

MATT: I'm just turning it down.

MARISHA: Pigeons everywhere.

MATT: Shh. We're roleplaying, Marisha.

(laughter)

MATT: It doesn't feel unnatural. It feels like a view behind the curtain.

TALIESIN: Okay.

MATT: Is the best way I can describe it. But it doesn't bother you. It's a little cold and a little alien, but it doesn't feel unnatural.

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: As you pull back, you feel something comes back with you. And as your consciousness refocuses, there's a slight shred of milky grey energy that withdraws itself and then, with a warm impact, disappears into your chest.

TALIESIN: Huh. I think I have a passenger, and that's interesting.

LAURA: Did you see the little ball, the little grey ball?

TALIESIN: I did.

LAURA: Wasn't it weird?

TALIESIN: It was.

LAURA: Is he inside of you now?

TALIESIN: He is. *It* is.

LAURA: Oh, you think it's an it, not a he?

TALIESIN: I'm trying to not make assumptions.

LIAM: Hurry up and stuff that thing back in her bag.

LAURA: Oh, that's right. People are looking for it.

TALIESIN: Good to know. I'll keep-- mum's the word. Huh.

MARISHA: Yeah, it's nice, right? It's like a little post-coital feeling, kind of.

TALIESIN: I wouldn't know, but--

TRAVIS: Has everybody focused on that thing now?

SAM, MARISHA, LAURA: I have.

TRAVIS: I should probably do that at some point.

TALIESIN: You should probably experience this, it's interesting.

LIAM: You are not allowed to-- you know.

TRAVIS: Oh, no! I wouldn't (hums). I just want to look.

LAURA: You can't look at it, though, today.

TRAVIS: Why not?

LAURA: Because he already has it.

TALIESIN: Tomorrow.

TRAVIS: Okay.

LAURA: You have so many balls inside of you already.

MARISHA: It's true.

LIAM: *Ja*, balls deep.

LAURA: Lots of them.

TRAVIS: Leave it alone.

MARISHA: I know, so close!

TRAVIS: Razor’s edge.

MATT: Caleb, I'd like you to roll a perception check with advantage with Caduceus' aid.

LIAM: Thank you for bringing it back to the material plane.

MATT: Welcome back in.

LIAM: That is pretty good. That's an 18.

MATT: 18, okay. As you progress for the first couple of days, heading south along the road, camping without issue, at the beginning of the third day, when you've begun taking your camp and reassembling it, making your way back to the road--

LIAM: Point of order: there’s also a hut, now, as part of the nightly routine.

MATT: That's right, yeah. Which is still visible, but impenetrable. And there has not been an issue. You do wake up and notice that there maybe have been a few tracks that made their way towards your camp. They appear to be hoof-based in nature, but had wandered and circled around and made their way beyond your location. Probably just something natural in the vicinity that was curious about what this strange dome was in the space where you had made camp. But you gather your things, you make your way onto your cart, and with the better part of the next-- the third day’s travel, right as the sun begins to set, you can see ahead the small treeline that surrounds the now-glowing windows of the town of Alfield.

MARISHA: Back in Alfield.

LAURA: Back to the beginning of our notes.

MARISHA: This is where Bryce lives, right? We should check in with Bryce.

LIAM: Is it looking as we near it-- is it looking a little more put back together?

MATT: As you begin to go closer, you can see-- while there's still light in the sky, you can see that there are a number of building structures that have been reframed, and it looks like there was both a volunteer effort, as well as a number of hired masons and volunteers, that are in the process of rebuilding a lot of what had been damaged or burned down when the gnolls had originally assaulted it the last time you were here. By the time you reach the actual streets, making your way along the one central thoroughfare that cuts across the center of town, you can see some of the folks who are finishing up their daily work. As they're losing light, some light up torches, and continue to work and toil into the early hours of the evening. Others begin to close up, taking their ladders down, finishing for the day’s work, and make their way to local tavern or homestead to make food and bed down for the evening. But as you pass by, a few folks do notice your presence, look over at the cart, and recognize you, and wave in your direction.

TRAVIS: How do?

MATT: They wave and seem almost nervous, excited but both not quite sure how to act in your presence. You see one familiar halfling, who had previously lost his entire inn, who glances over in your direction.

SAM: Thadeus Candleglow?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

SAM: Yes!

TRAVIS: Damn, note taker.

LAURA: It's right there.

TRAVIS: Ten points to Gryffindor, fuck.

MATT: He runs up, and you can see there's a lot of dust and bits of wood splinters on the shoulders and edges of the sleeves as the halfling runs up and glances over and goes, "I wasn't expecting to see y'all return. Things are going along well. We're doing what we can."

LAURA: How much have you built back already?

MATT: "Well, we've gotten the basis of the bottom floor mostly restored structurally. We're going to try and fill in the walls, and then we'll head on to the second floor there. I surmise we probably have another four months or so before we're up and operational."

LAURA: Not bad, though, really.

TRAVIS: Really good progress, yeah.

MATT: "Well, I can lend that to most of these fine folks who've been so gracious in helping." He points to a few other people who have either left or are in the process of packaging up their tools and materials as well. They kind of acknowledge and glance over. "I wish I could give you a room to stay in. I'd do it free of charge, but--"

LAURA: We don't need one. We have this magical dome that we sleep in, now. It's really cool.

MATT: "Wow. Whoa."

LAURA: You should rent some of those out. I bet people would really like it.

TALIESIN: Magic domes.

MATT: "I'll get right on it."

MARISHA: Shift pods.

TALIESIN: I wasn't going to say it.

MATT: "Well, anyway, I don't want to take any more of your time. I just saw you coming through and wanted to say thank you."

MARISHA: Hey, Thadeus.

MATT: "Yeah?"

MARISHA: Is Bryce in?

MATT: "They should be. I haven't seen them around very recently, but if you're going to find them somewhere in here, they’re probably--"

MARISHA: Broad Barn?

MATT: "Probably at the Broad Barn. Or--" Actually, Bryce would be--

TRAVIS: Candleglow? No.

MATT: No, Candleglow was the inn that he is currently--

LIAM: There's the Feed & Mead Tavern, there's Broad Barn, there's Crate and Barrel.

MATT: "Bryce would probably be over at the Salt Trench."

SAM: The jail.

MATT: "Yeah, that's where they’ve been keeping their attention as of late." Look at you taking notes. I'm so proud.

SAM: No one else on this side of the table is going to take any meaningful notes.

LAURA: No, I have, they’re just mostly--

SAM: It's dick pics all over the place.

MATT: That's important, too!

LAURA: It’s memory lane. I see a big head of something shaped like a bowling ball.

SAM: And this one looks like a poo in a bathtub.

LAURA: It is, it's a stinky-- but that was Caleb, I think.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I remember that.

LIAM: Good times.

MARISHA: I'm finding a bunch of old dumb jokes.

TALIESIN: It's a very good bathtub, it's got claw feet. I appreciate that.

MARISHA: This isn't where we left-- no. This isn't where we left Reginald? No, okay.

TRAVIS: Let's make our way over there.

SAM: Yeah, that's a good idea.

MATT: So, heading over to the eastern side of town, you start finding the edge of the forest where the street of Alfield comes to an end, and the furthest building towards the forest-- you've passed it before, but not spent much time in its proximity-- is a dark grey stone building with a dark, weathered wood frame set around it, torches set exterior, and it has the simple sign that says the Salt Trench Jail. There is one crownsguard who's kind of leaning against the wall. It looks like they're not asleep, but definitely not in full energy, per se. Long piece of some sort of a wheat dangling out of their mouth; they're chewing. "Hey, can I help you?"

LAURA: Hey, we're here to see Bryce.

MATT: "I'm going to go see if they're available. I'll be right back."

LAURA: He looked like he didn't even remember us.

SAM: Maybe he's new.

TRAVIS: Yeah, he could be reinforcements.

LAURA: We killed a whole bunch of gnolls for them.

MARISHA: To be fair, I don't remember him.

TRAVIS: Hey, Caduceus, you should probably be aware: we fought off a bunch of gnolls when we were making our way up through here.

LAURA: We cut off their ears and sold them for money.

TRAVIS: What kind of gnolls, you ask? Regular.

TALIESIN: Do I know what a gnoll is?

MATT: Make a nature check.

TALIESIN: 11.

MATT: Yeah, you've heard of gnolls. You've never seen one, you've never encountered one, but as far as your knowledge goes, they're just nasty big dog people.

MARISHA: Sometimes they aren't regular, though-- sometimes they're undead ones.

TALIESIN: Irregular gnolls.

MARISHA: Yeah. But we fought both.

TALIESIN: Irregular ones.

TRAVIS: Harder to fit in what we want to--

MATT: At this point, the guard comes back, pokes through the doorway. "May I ask who's asking?"

TRAVIS: Yeah, The Mighty Nein has come calling.

SAM: Were we called that back then?

TRAVIS: I don't know.

SAM: I don't remember.

MATT: Actually, that's where you coined the name.

SAM: Oh, good, yeah.

TRAVIS: Yep, that's it.

MATT: "All right, let me go check," and heads back in. About a moment passes and you hear some footsteps coming and there you see coming through the doorway Bryce, helmet off, they're still wearing their armor. They look a bit overworked, maybe not getting enough sleep, a little bit of a dark circles under the eyes, but other than that healthy. Their blond, shoulder-length hair has a soft curl to it, is pulled up in the back, and looks to be tied to keep out of the way. As they come through the door frame, a smile on their face. "I wasn't expecting company, let alone such welcome–"

LIAM: *Nabend.*

MATT: "It's good to see you."

MARISHA: What are you doing here? You working here now?

MATT: "I'm working wherever it's necessary. I keep watch on here, I help the Starosta maintain general matters here with the Crownsguard, but stationed wherever it's necessary. We're a bit light on manpower given the bulk of it is required now to the eastern side of the Empire."

LAURA: Ooh, so, if we're going to commit a crime, now would be a good time, huh?

TRAVIS: Jester!

MATT: "In theory, which is why I'm not sleeping as well. But it's good to see you, Jester."

LAURA: You too.

TRAVIS: How has it been? Busy? Peaceful?

MATT: "Both."

LIAM: Any trouble here, at home?

MATT: "None, thankfully. We took them down last week, but it was decided that recovering some of these gnolls that you had slaughtered and-- as garish as it was-- placing their heads as a warning on the outskirts of town prevented, for a while, any sort of incursions. Seemed to be a decent deterrent. However, the smell got a bit intense for the farmers and we decided to dispose of them. But everything seems fine. We're far enough from all that chaos to the east. How's everything been with you? Last I saw you, you were heading to Zadash. I apologize, it took a little bit with the chaos here, but I just sent a report up to the Lawmaster up there. Orentha should know of your deeds soon."

SAM: Thank you for that, that's very kind.

LAURA: Did you just call us The Mighty Nein or did you describe what we look like?

MATT: "I gave a brief description."

TALIESIN: I'm new.

MATT: "Right. What's your name?"

TALIESIN: Caduceus. Caduceus Clay. Pleasure. You're a lot shorter than the last one they--

MATT: "Bryce. Bryce Feelid.”

TALIESIN: Introduced me to.

MATT: “That's all right. Pleasure to meet you. You are very tall and... strange."

TALIESIN: Yeah, I've noticed everybody else is very short. It's fascinating.

MATT: "Well, welcome to Alfield. Any friends of these are friends of ours."

TALIESIN: Pleasure to make your acquaintance.

MATT: "Of course. Are you passing through? Or you've come to stay for a bit?"

SAM: Passing through.

LIAM: Yeah, maybe stay for the night before moving on?

MATT: "Well, of course, of course. You need not worry about finding lodging, we can have that arranged."

LAURA: Oh, wow, thank you!

MATT: "We've done that before, we can do it again. Well, I have a little bit more business to attend to and then I'll be off my shift and perhaps I'll join you for drinks."

LAURA: Party time.

MATT: "Just a moment. If you wouldn't mind, go ahead and let Crute know that you've arrived at the Feed & Mead tavern and I'll meet you there in an hour or so."

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: All right.

MATT: "It's lovely to see you all."

LAURA: You too! I'm glad you're not in the war right now!

MATT: "Me too." Bryce turns around and then comes back. "There's one, your other friend with the–"

LAURA: Molly.

MARISHA: Yeah...

MATT: "Right." At this point they nod their head. "Say no more. We've all lost our share of loved ones. This world can be a dangerous one at times. I'm sorry for your loss."

SAM: Thank you for that.

MATT: "Well, come, I'll meet you soon and we'll have drinks in his honor."

SAM: Yes.

MATT: Then Bryce makes their way back inside the building. You guys are welcome to do anything else you wish to prepare for, though it is starting to get into the evening hours and based on your previous experience in Alfield, you know this is one of those towns that primarily shuts down post-sunset. This is mostly a farming town.

TALIESIN: This is a place where you did good. That's nice.

SAM: Yeah, we did.

LAURA: It's halves and halvsies, you know?

TALIESIN: I don't know, everywhere that I've been with you so far, people seem to be really happy to see you. It's a sign, in my opinion.

MARISHA: This might have been the first town we did good.

TRAVIS: I think that's right, actually.

MARISHA: Because we kind of got a guy–

TRAVIS: Arrested?

MARISHA: Arrested and thrown in jail for--

TRAVIS: An indeterminate amount of time.

LAURA: Yeah, but then we were helping other people, though, at the same time. So.

TRAVIS: This was the first one we made a clean, positive impact, though. Minimal collateral damage.

MARISHA: Came through in the black, not broken even.

TRAVIS: No IOUs or you know--

LAURA: Caleb, do you need to buy paper here or anything?

LIAM: No, I am all set.

LAURA: Okay, just making sure.

SAM: Let's go to the Feed and the Mead.

MATT: You guys make your way to the Feed & Mead. Crute recognizes you as you enter. "It's good to see all of you again. Welcome. Please, sit down. I will prepare food, I suppose, for many more than I was expecting."

LAURA: For Bryce too. They're coming.

MATT: "Good to know."

LAURA: (gasps)

SAM: What?

LAURA: I use Thaumaturgy to open all of the windows!

MATT: (crashing) All of the windows slam open loudly. There's the sound of breaking glass on the far side as one of the windows is shattered from the impact. Wind swoops in and you watch as Crute-- who's faced away, making the way to the kitchen-- stops and goes, (groaning).

LAURA: (singing) Memories!

MATT: Makes his way into the kitchen to finish the meal. An hour or so passes, a couple other folks come in. Some of them don't seem to recognize you or didn't interface with you directly. A handful do and they come by and offer to buy a drink. Crute returns with some basic foods– most everything here is everything from lightly cooked vegetables or boiled vegetables to some treated and salted meats. They don't have a wide variety of dishes here, but it is still delicious and very classic home-on-the-road food. Bryce eventually comes and joins you; the first time you've seen them out of their formal attire and armor. Bryce comes in with a light blue soft tunic over some light brown leggings and comfortable boots. Very relaxed and casual as they sit down at the table and take an unclaimed tankard and leans back in the chair. "Well, I think we've all earned this. Cheers."

SAM, TRAVIS, and LAURA: Cheers!

MATT: "To friends, here and not."

LAURA: And Nott!

MATT: "And Nott."

SAM: Yes, to me. Any crazy news around here? Or just the normal stuff?

MATT: "The normal recovery. Thankfully only one and a half fields were torched in the gnoll onslaught, so hasn't been a huge detriment to our farming schedule. Other than that, it's been the Righteous Brand passing through.

SAM: The people we rescued from that cave nearby? Are they all fine, not, you know–?

MATT: "There's one of them right over there." One of the individuals that came up and offered to buy you drinks earlier, you can see it's one of the older, bearded gentlemen who looks to be a little – you recognize him now, once it's pointed out.

TRAVIS: Totally recognize him now.

MARISHA: Ey! Yeah!

MATT: "Ey! Told you they remembered me!"

MARISHA: Totally know exactly what you're talking about.

MATT: "They never forget a face, The Mighty Nein."

SAM: He was crying when we rescued him.

LAURA: He was really dirty, covered in a lot of–

MARISHA: Soot and dirt, yeah.

MATT: They all do, if you're not paying attention. Bryce continues on a bit and tells you about how: "There's word that the Ashguard Garrison has fallen. I've been doing the best I can to keep my ear to the ground on things happening east. It's far enough away where no one here's worried, but I have friends in Bladegarden and who were stationed at the Rockguard, which is the other garrison. If one's fallen. I worry for the other. But I know they're sending all of their forces that way and–"

MARISHA: Wait, when did this happen?

MATT: You did hear about this from one of the town criers a little over a month ago when you were leaving on The Gentleman's errand.

LAURA: Yes, I remember that very well.

TRAVIS: Kind of led to the influx of people going out?

MARISHA: Yeah, that's when Dairon decided to go, right? Or was she already out there?

MATT: Probably. I have to look back at my notes again.

MARISHA: Sorry.

MATT: It's okay. The time period in there-- it's somewhere in that space.

LIAM: The trend is that it's pushing closer in.

MATT: "From what I've heard they've kept it at bay and there are intents to retake the garrison, but there were well over 2,000 lives lost and I don't know how much there is specifically to say about, but the rumors are that the sky over that pass, over the garrison itself, lie as dark as midnight throughout the day even."

LAURA: Whoa. They've got some serious magic stuff over there.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Is there any word from the south? We happen to be heading that way.

MATT: "Oh! That makes sense, if you're leaving Zadash. Well, in times of warfare– and I know we've been notified of this via the information routes to the rest of the crownsguard and the watchmasters to keep an eye– but I do believe entrance to the Empire is being very carefully inspected. You shouldn't have an issue leaving – it's coming back in, during a time of conflict like this might take a while.

SAM: Is there anything that can speed up that process? Some papers or forms or stamps?

LIAM: Coin.

TRAVIS: Global Entry.

MATT: "I can try and write you something, but, once again, we're a bit podunk here by comparison. I can't say that those at the Wuyun Gates are going to be more partial to what I have to say, but I can try."

TRAVIS: Couldn't hurt.

LAURA: Do we know anyone else that's important?

SAM: Here?

LAURA: Anywhere.

SAM: We know the Starosta here.

LAURA: I know the Starosta here. He’d probably would have some say.

MATT: "The Starosta here? Yes, but, if I recall, the last time you spoke wasn't on the most positive terms either."

LAURA: No, I remember.

MATT: "Some tricks you may get one shot with. I'd be worried. He tends--”

LAURA: Maybe I could give back that letter and he can give us a new letter! Because you don't even want it anymore.

TRAVIS: That's not true, Jester. I still have some plans for that letter. It does have his signature on it, though.

SAM: So we could just forge another one!

LAURA: Oh, heck yeah! I'm really good at that.

MATT: "I haven't heard any of this."

SAM: Oh, sorry!

MATT: "No, keep talking, please. Just know that I've heard nothing," as they put their fingers in their ears.

LAURA: Now's the time to do it! There's not a lot of people here.

MATT: "Wait till after I leave, if you don't mind. You know, protocol."

TRAVIS: Let them enjoy their drink, please.

MATT: "Exactly. A little plausible deniability doesn't hurt either."

MARISHA: How is the Starosta? Is he still a pain in the ass?

MATT: "Always, but he does good work and he's spearheaded organizing many of these reconstruction efforts and maintaining a means of getting influxes of gold from Rexxentrum. The crown has been very good in sending money as necessary because the Starosta has been so diligent in the connections he has. So, yes, he's a prick and he's a bit of a pain in the ass on our end, but, I mean, he's not terrible at his job. So what can I say?"

LAURA: He's a bit of a prick and what I've heard? It's not that big of a prick.

MATT: (singing) "Da da da da da da. I have to work with him often."

LAURA: Just from what I heard. I didn't *see it* see it, but people talk.

TRAVIS: Jester, did you often "*see it* see it"?

LAURA: Did I often see what what?

TRAVIS: See it, see it.

LAURA: Like? Penises? Wieners? I've seen so many penises.

TRAVIS: Really?

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: What's the best penis you've ever seen?

LIAM: Wait, hold on, hold on.

MARISHA: I still want that question answered, but he can go ahead.

LIAM: Just a point of clarification, we're talking voyeuristically because of your household, you mean?

TRAVIS: Yeah, like you had a peep window or something.

MARISHA: What's the matter? Even if she hadn't seen them voyeuristically--

LIAM: I just want to understand what we are talking about. You know, up close is different than from behind a boudoir.

LAURA: I mean, I've seen them mostly not when they knew that I could see them. If that's what you mean.

LIAM: I'm curious about your– you.

MARISHA: Why are you so interested in people's sex lives, Caleb?

LAURA: It is true, though. Like, why?

TRAVIS: Actually, I'm with Beau now. I want to know your favorite one you've ever seen.

MARISHA: Yeah, what's your best dick?

LAURA: My best dick.

TALIESIN: Pick one.

SAM: If it's too hard to pick, you can do top three.

LAURA: Okay. Honestly? I saw Molly's when we were in the bath house.

MARISHA: Oh!

SAM: Was it? We must have all seen it, but–

TRAVIS: Was it tattooed?

SAM: How did it compare?

TALIESIN: Reminding everyone that we have all seen each other naked.

LAURA: Molly's was pretty good.

SAM: In terms of just being giant or, like, well-proportioned? Symmetrical?

LAURA: It was really nice and it was a good color.

LIAM: Only because when I saw it last, it was a bit of a mess. It was a little bit Egg McMuffin, if you know what I'm saying.

LAURA: Oh, that's right, he did some stuff to it. No, when it was clean, it was lovely.

LIAM: Traditional Zadash breakfast.

MATT: Call that the continental.

TALIESIN: Oh, lord.

LIAM: DPB.

TALIESIN: I’m feeling very prideful at the moment. Thank you.

MATT: Bryce at this point goes, "Well, folks, I think this is my cue to get some rest. It's been great catching up a bit with all of you. Stay safe."

TRAVIS: You as well, yes. We wish you nothing but the best.

MATT: "You as well."

LAURA: Cheers again!

MATT: "Cheers again. If ever you find your way near this podunk side of the Empire again, you'll always have a place to stay in Alfield. Heck, maybe if all this business to the east is finished before long, and I get some time off, maybe I'll come visit you up in Zadash."

LAURA: You should.

MATT: "It's been a while."

LAURA: You should come visit us over in the Menagerie Coast.

MATT: "I haven't been there since I was a child."

LAURA: Just leave!

SAM: Just leave your post! Go AWOL! Come with us!

MATT: "There's too many people here that depend on me. I can't."

LAURA: Okay, you're a good person.

SAM: You're such a good--

TRAVIS: You're a good person.

LIAM: *Ja*, but still.

MATT: "I appreciate that." They stand up leave a few coins on the table.

SAM: Oh, no, we got this one! This one's on us. Your money's no good here! I'll fucking kill you if you try to pay!

MATT: "Right, okay! All right!" They take the coins, finish the drink, walk over to the bar, and set them on the counter anyway, and then walk away. "Good night."

SAM: Good night.

MATT: And they walk away.

TRAVIS: That was an escalation, Nott. I feel like one, two, and then just nine.

MARISHA: Did we scare them away?

SAM: I don't want to feel like a burden on anyone, you know?

LIAM: Here's a question. Once we get to the Menagerie Coast, I feel like we’ll have a good sense of how Nott is at fitting in. What is it like for--

SAM: Oh, yes.

LAURA: Honestly, I've never seen any goblins there.

TRAVIS: I haven't either.

SAM: Well, I can wear my mask, and I got these lovely gloves.

LAURA: These are so creepy.

SAM: What? What are you talking about? They look like real fingers.

LAURA: Ew.

LIAM: It's also hot. Is it hot there?

TRAVIS: It's a bit warmer.

LAURA: It's warmer. It's nice.

TRAVIS: A little humidity, yeah.

LIAM: You might not want mittens, you know?

LAURA: Skin mittens.

SAM: I'll see how long I last.

TRAVIS: Leave them on, you cook your fingers in some balsamic, it'll be great. Smell real nice when you pull them out.

SAM: I don't smell good to begin with.

TRAVIS: Like a cast.

MARISHA: Oh god.

TRAVIS: You get that cast off, you're like (sniffs deeply).

LIAM: You're fine when you're next to me.

SAM: It’s true. Stink-ouflage.

LIAM: That old chestnut.

LAURA: Should we sleep here?

SAM: We have to sleep here, it's nighttime.

TRAVIS and MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Well, all right, didn't know if we wanted to sleep in the bubble, but, you know--

LIAM: No, a roof is good. Let's have a roof.

TRAVIS: Did they say where we were going to be put up, our lodging?

LAURA: Here.

MATT: Here, yeah.

TRAVIS: Oh, where we are?

LIAM: It's easy. We stumble upstairs.

MATT: Yeah, the room is already provided. Your delightfully pleasant evening purveyor of down pillows and blankets, Crute, is ever eager to show you where you can leave him the fuck alone. You manage to find your rooms and rest for the evening. The following morning, you gather your things, the cart has been taken care of.

LAURA: Could I have, before we went to sleep, sent a message to my mama, letting her know we might be passing through?

MATT: Indeed, you can.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: All right. In the morning, breakfast is provided for you. There are a few folks that are in here finishing their breakfast before going out in the fields, going about their daily business, and, as you descend to your breakfast meal, you watch half the room go quiet as they all watch you. Throughout the rest of the meal, they lock eyes in a very "I don't know how to act" kind of a way, but not in a bad way. Pardon. Some of you especially aren't used to being the person that walks into a room and being stared at, but the energy is different here. There's definitely more of a reverence. It's kind of a nice change of pace.

LIAM: *Morgen*.

LAURA: What did you say? *Morgen*?

SAM: It's Zemnian for "good morning."

LAURA: *Morgen*.

LIAM: *Ja*, morgen. Guten morgen*.

LAURA: How do I say, "I would like some pastries, please?"

LIAM: Liam does not know.

SAM: It's too complicated to teach. The accent is very difficult.

LAURA: Oh.

MATT: Some of the Zemnian critters out there will tweet you the pronunciation.

LIAM: *Liefen, laufen,* loafen, *loben.*

SAM: That's actually very close. That's kind of close. Yeah.

MARISHA: Question.

MATT: Yes?

MARISHA: What was the name of the town that Gustav is stuck at?

MATT: Trostenwald. That's the next one on your trip.

MARISHA: It's the next one.

MATT: It's the final town to the south.

MARISHA: We're in Alfield. That's where I stole mail. Okay, I was getting confused if we were in-- Okay. Cool. Do you guys want to stop in down in Trostenwald on our way?

SAM: It's on the way, yeah.

MARISHA: You know, we have a little bit more money now, maybe we could help Gustav out a little bit. The last good thing that we could do.

LIAM: Also, the nostalgia factor of seeing where we all, you know, got hitched.

MARISHA: I'm sure he would also like to know about Molly.

TRAVIS: Right. Yeah, that's a good point. We should make a stop.

MARISHA: You know, I never really thought about the fact that when you're with someone when they die, it's kind of your responsibility for forever to tell anyone who doesn't know what happened.

TRAVIS: Yep. Never goes away.

MARISHA: That kind of sucks. So let's keep sharing bad news.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Well, hey, after we pass Trostenwald, we'll get a break from that shit for a while.

MARISHA: That's true.

LAURA: It's really pretty, the ocean.

LIAM: Have you ever been out of Empire?

MARISHA: No, furthest south I've been, I think, is Trostenwald.

LIAM: Same.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: The water is really blue. I think you guys will like it. Yes, Nott, even you.

SAM: Nope, no thanks.

MARISHA: You could continue your swimming lessons.

LAURA: It's really blue, and it smells like fish!

SAM: That's nice. I like fish.

TRAVIS: Salt on the wind, it's amazing.

SAM: All right, let's go see it.

TALIESIN: This sounds exciting.

(laughter)

MATT: All right, you guys gather your things back up into the cart. It's been brought around front. You get your horses ready for the next leg of your journey. If you want to collect feed for the horses along the way, since you've been traveling for a few days, if someone wants to mark off--

MARISHA: Sure, let's just do that.

MATT: I'll say another gold worth of feed that you--

LIAM: I will pay for that.

SAM: No, Caleb, save your gold for paper.

LIAM: It's done and done, it's already happened.

SAM: Or incense.

LIAM: I'm good. I've stocked up. I am plush. I have more coin in my pocket than I ever could have imagined, and I have already spent most of what we made.

MATT: All right.

SAM: Do you want some more?

LIAM: No.

SAM: Just a little mad money or anything?

TRAVIS: You know, I want some more.

LIAM: No, I'm good.

MATT: All right, continuing south, Caleb, are you maintaining your position on the cart?

LIAM: *Ja*.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: I'll give my position up to Caduceus or Jester, either one.

LAURA: I'll ride with Caduceus.

TALIESIN: All right.

LAURA: I'll help you.

TALIESIN: Yeah, it'll be fun.

LIAM: Oh, you two take it, then.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: All right. Caleb takes a break at the back as Caduceus makes his way to the front of the cart, grabs the reins. Jester, you go ahead and plop alongside. You eventually turn your way heading westward.

TALIESIN: I don't think I've done this before.

LAURA: You're good with animals, though.

TALIESIN: Oh, yeah, no, you just got to ask permission before you do anything.

MATT: Which you can do.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah. I ask permission to any animal I interact with, anything I eat, and it's always a conversation.

TRAVIS: You ask permission to ride the horse?

TALIESIN: Yeah. I say we're going to be-- Well, I explain to the horse that we're going to be moving south and I'd really appreciate their cooperation in the process, and how long we expect to be going for.

TRAVIS: Out loud, do you do this?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

TRAVIS: All right, just checking. I didn't know if you had some mumbo jumbo.

TALIESIN: I mean, can you do it without-- Can you talk without talking, is that a thing you can do?

TRAVIS: (mumbling) I don't think so. Am I talking?

TALIESIN: I can hear you, but your lips aren't moving. This is-- nope, it's not working for me. Nope. Probably take ten minutes actually trying to do that before we get going.

MATT: Okay, but you go ahead and ask permission of the horses.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: You watch as Caduceus comes and quietly talks to each of the horses, and it seems ridiculous at first, but as he finishes talking to the horse, the horse nudges alongside him and gives a hoof clop on the ground.

TRAVIS: You're a seven-foot Bob Ross, I love it.

TALIESIN: Manners will get you everywhere.

LAURA: (gasps) Manners.

MATT: With that, Caduceus gets up onto the cart next to Jester, pulls on the reins, and with that, you guys begin to make your exit from Alfield a second time.

LAURA: (singing) Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.

MARISHA: What? You're really good!

TALIESIN: That's some black magic right there.

LAURA: (laughs) I do that for way too long on the road.

TRAVIS: You sacrifice Ronin to be able to do that.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: That's really impressive, and you sound like a kid that fell down the well when you're doing that.

MATT: I don't know if you can just now do that, or if you've always been able to do that, and then Ronin’s your eventual payment of the contract.

MARISHA: Firstborn.

MATT: I know, exactly. As you guys are exiting Alfield, a few more folks come out to the street to watch you leave. Some faces familiar: a child, a woman, people that you recognize as individuals you had helped make their way out of the mines long ago, and you see them wave, and they all say, "Goodbye."

LAURA: Bye!

MATT: A kid quietly raises a hand, smiling, too shy to say anything, and with that, you make your way past the final buildings, out of Alfield and back onto the road south.

LAURA: Aw man, we saved their lives. That's pretty cool.

SAM: We're awesome, yeah.

MATT: Two days' travel to Trostenwald from Alfield, so which one of you wants to helm the first watch?

TALIESIN: I'll take first watch.

LAURA: Oh, yeah, I was going to help him.

MATT: All right, so roll with advantage on your perception check, please.

LAURA: Whoa!

TALIESIN: Yeah, nothing gets by me, unless I-- Well, no, that's a natural 20.

TRAVIS: Ho! Boom-shaka-laka-laka!

LAURA: I'm going to say that's my help. That's me helping.

TALIESIN: Oh, yeah, you're just pointing at things. Got it, got it. Yep, got that. Yep, oh, got that. Got that, yep. Where? Yeah.

MATT: Towards the end of the first day's travel, around what would be roughly 5:00, 5:30 in the afternoon, as you're keeping an eye out, you glance over what looks to be-- and you do find a few clusters of stone and rock that break up the rolling hills and tall grass that make up a large part of the southern part of the Marrow Valley that you're used to. You, who come from a very northern, borderline tundra north of the Savalirwood--

TALIESIN: It's tundra, except for my little patch.

MATT: Yeah, taiga in places. You can see this very green and open field is a whole new experience to you, and you're enjoying the details of it as you pass by: the field mice that occasionally scurry across the road and get snatched up by a hawk, and you're like, yep, that's how it happens.

TRAVIS: Oh, shit.

TALIESIN: Fair play.

TRAVIS: Careful crossing the-- (cawing).

MATT: As you're glancing about, you can see a lot of these natural stones placed, and you see one cluster of stones that doesn't look naturally placed; they're leaned at an odd angle. If it had been placed at, or if it had been at that angle for a while, it would've eventually settled.

TALIESIN: That doesn't look right.

LAURA: What doesn't?

TALIESIN: That.

LAURA: The field?

TALIESIN: Now, if I were inclined to be a trap or an ambush of some kind, or-- Those rocks shouldn't be that way, that's all I'm saying.

MATT: As you glance over, you can see three stones, and one of them is about this big, it's a pretty heavy stone, and two longer slab stones, and they're all leaned against each other to look natural, but Caduceus doesn't seem to feel that way.

LAURA: Maybe somebody is sitting in the little alcove.

TALIESIN: It's giving me the bad feelings.

LAURA: Should we go attack it?!

TALIESIN: The rocks?

LAURA: I don't know.

TALIESIN: I mean, I'm okay if you are.

LAURA: Do you want to, like--

TALIESIN: Never had a rock really hit back.

LAURA: I hop off the cart and, like--

SAM: Where are you going?

LAURA: How far away is it?

MATT: It's about, from where you are now, as you've traveled closer, it's about 80 to 100 feet to the left off the road.

LIAM: Where are you going?

LAURA: I'm going to throw a little rock as hard as I can towards it.

MATT: Make a strength check.

LAURA: Please be a good strength check.

TALIESIN: This looks a little weird to me.

LAURA: That's not good.

TALIESIN: It's my mime.

LAURA: That's 11.

MATT: 11. It arcs, falls maybe about ten feet short in the grass. No reaction.

TALIESIN: I'm going to use “Thaumagurgy” to cast my voice very loudly behind the other side of the rocks. Thaumaturgy, it just got stuck in there.

SAM: Thauma-gurgy.

TALIESIN: Thauma-gurgy! I want to use my Thauma-gerchy.

MATT: Okay, so as far as Thaumaturgy, you can't throw your voice so much as you can just amplify the volume.

TALIESIN: Oh, so I can't throw my voice, then.

MATT: I'll say you can throw it a little bit. You can't flank it, per se, but you can give it a little more of a force from one side, I'll say.

TALIESIN: Hang on a second, I can do tremors in the ground.

MATT: Yeah, if you want.

TALIESIN: So I'm going to start tremoring the ground right over by those rocks.

MATT: Okay. It shakes a bit, and you can see some bits of loose rock on top of this weird stone construct begin to vibrate, fall off the side. No reaction.

LAURA: Maybe somebody's buried there.

LIAM: I poke my head between them. What are you doing?

SAM: What's going on?

LAURA: I don't know.

TALIESIN: The rocks look a little weird, I don't know.

SAM: The rocks look weird? What does that mean?

TALIESIN: It means the rocks look weird.

TRAVIS: They giving you a bad feeling?

TALIESIN: They're giving me a bad feeling. I don't have a lot of bad feelings.

TRAVIS: Let's go check it out.

TALIESIN: All right.

MARISHA: Maybe they're a trail marker.

TALIESIN: Maybe. It's an awfully suspicious trail marker. If it was a trail marker, you usually stack three stones, make it look very intentional. Have you ever seen a painting where someone tries to paint stars, but the stars don't look right, because they're the wrong kind of random? That's the wrong kind of random.

LIAM: I send Frumpkin to go look at the rocks.

LAURA: Maybe it's a secret entrance to something!

MATT: The rest of you keep looking at this pile of stones, and it just looks like a pile of stones. You're like, “Really?” So Frumpkin's heading up? (meowing) Frumpkin gets low to the grass--

TALIESIN: The random nature makes and the random that man makes.

MATT: Make a perception check for Frumpkin.

LIAM: Ten.

MATT: Frumpkin does a little pass around the side, and there doesn't appear to be anybody in or around them, from what Frumpkin can see.

TALIESIN: All right, let's go take a look, then.

MARISHA: Let's go knock them over.

LIAM: Can he climb to the tippy-top?

MATT: Sure. Frumpkin leaps onto the top and perches up there. (meowing)

LIAM: I'm looking down at us.

MATT: It's a strange view to see yourself walking towards yourself. It's like playing Resident Evil 1, where you have the locked camera.

LIAM: Turn around!

MATT: That's technically how Shakäste sees the world, when you think about it. It's all of existence through a series of Resident Evil camera angles. The Duchess, man.

TALIESIN: That makes me a little sad, on a fundamental level.

MATT: Well, he can turn a lot better.

TRAVIS: Getting in between the two angles and having to go back and forth?

TALIESIN: No left, right, left, right, ugh!

LIAM: Having to do K turns as a person is rough.

MATT: You all slowly approach this strange pile of rocks settled here.

TRAVIS: Trees above us?

MATT: No, it's an open field. There are some trees maybe 300, 400 feet off. This part of the field, they're small clusters, four or five at a time. It's mostly open, rolling hills.

MARISHA: Are we near where the gnoll mine was?

MATT: No, you're days away. That was east of the city. You guys are heading south.

LAURA: Did you say how tall the rocks are?

MATT: All together, probably about four feet tall.

LIAM: Does it look like there is anything buried, any digging done here?

MATT: Make an investigation check, if you want to.

LIAM: 20.

MATT: As you get down inside--

LIAM: Sorry. 25.

MATT: Okay, 25. As you get down to the stones, there's the one larger central stone and there are the two ones laid against it. There's a very small space in between there, and you get inside and begin to look around the ground, and you feel down, and there's nothing. It's mainly dirt and dry brush and dead grass that’s been pushed in that centerpiece. You reach up, and your hand touches something.

LAURA: (whispering) Treasure!

MATT: It feels like a satchel, or a leather sack.

SAM: What do you have?

LIAM: That's a bingo.

SAM: Do you need me to come?

TRAVIS: It's just bingo, Caleb.

LAURA: Did you find some paper?

SAM: Do you need me to touch it to disarm it?

LIAM: Hold on. I send Frumpkin to get down by my hand to look up so that I can look at what I'm grabbing, to make sure that it is not one of those bags with teeth or something that I have read about in fairytale stories.

MARISHA: Oh, we found a few of those bags.

LAURA: What are you doing?

LIAM: One moment!

LAURA: Caleb, Caleb, Caleb! What did you find, Caleb?

LIAM: Some loot. Maybe.

LAURA: Pull it out!

MARISHA: What if it's a trap?

LIAM: No, first Frumpkin goes to look, so I can see what I'm seeing.

LAURA: Why don't you let Nott look?

MATT: Frumpkin crawls inside and looks up, and there is, indeed, a leather pouch, roughly the size of a baseball, that has been jammed up between the rocks to the point where it’s being held up underneath out of sight.

LAURA: Is there poop in it?

SAM: Pull it out! See what we've got!

LIAM: I don't like all these euphemisms. I pull the bag out.

MATT: Okay. As you pull the bag out from the rock... it comes free.

TRAVIS: Good fake out. I like it. Textbook.

LAURA: Open it up!

TRAVIS: Now you die.

MATT: As you open the bag... it's fine.

TRAVIS: Too many. Two times!

MATT: I don't know, let me have my little fun. You open inside, and you already hear the impact of a bunch of tiny stones and as you look inside, there are gems in here. It is a collection of cut jewels.

LAURA: Diamonds? Are there diamonds?

MATT: It's mostly emerald and ruby. There's a lot of them, and they're jammed up in here. You get the sense immediately that this was a drop spot. Someone will probably be coming by to try and pick this up.

LAURA: Somebody's going to be so pissed!

LIAM: Caleb takes the bag and he puts it in Jester's hand, and starts to quietly dance around!

LAURA: (singing) We got lots of jewels here! They are so pretty! We should get in the cart and drive away really fast.

SAM: That's fine, but give me a second. We should make sure there's no tracks. We clear all the tracks away.

LAURA: I'm going to empty the jewels out and--

SAM: Oh, so they're not in that bag? Yeah, let's replace them with other rocks and put them in.

TRAVIS: Jester, if somebody left jewels for somebody else to pick up, and it's full of rocks, you might get that person killed.

SAM: Yeah, but it's not us!

LAURA: Let's put a bunch of rocks in it! It's fine. They're not going to die.

SAM: We're not *all* good yet; we're trying to do good. There's gray in the middle.

LAURA: They'll probably open the bag before they deliver it, you know? Then they'll see it.

LIAM: I take one gem and say: This is a six-foot tall stack of paper! We're taking them!

LAURA: Rocks, rocks, rocks.

MATT: Okay. You fill the small leather sack with rocks.

LAURA: And one little piece of dried poo that I found that was an animal's.

LIAM: Did you find it in your pants?

LAURA: You got to know where to look.

MATT: Follow your nose.

SAM: Should we leave a note throwing them off our track? Like, "Oh, you know who took this? Fuck you! Love, The Iron Shepherds," or something like that.

TRAVIS: Oh yeah. You thought you were getting jewels, but you're getting rocks and shit!

LAURA: And poop! Dried poop! Yeah, I'll write that.

TRAVIS: Love, The Iron Shepherds.

LIAM: While everybody's arguing, I'm going to sit down and Detect Magic as a ritual.

MATT: That's a ten minute casting time to cast as a ritual? Okay.

SAM: I'm going to start going around and trying to mess up our tracks, maybe leave a few deeper footprints walking the other way?

MATT: Make a survival check.

SAM: Oh, boy. 19. Naturally.

MATT: Nice. I believe it's wisdom?

SAM: Plus zero. I'm better with other things.

MATT: That's true, yeah. It's not charisma, thankfully. You feel pretty confident that you've managed to erase most any sign of any tampering or movement by human beings or adjacent entities. What are you trying to do, Jester? Someone over here was trying to do something.

LIAM: Oh, ritual casting Detect Magic, but that's ten minutes of stoppage.

TRAVIS: I'm walking back towards the cart.

TALIESIN: We're keeping an eye out for anything else happening.

MARISHA: Can you do that ritual on the cart as we drive away?

MATT: Perception check, Beau?

LIAM: I am busy.

MATT: He's focusing.

TALIESIN: 21.

MARISHA: Eight?

MATT: Okay. Keeping an eye out, it doesn't appear that there's any immediate sign of anyone approaching. By the time you finish completing the ritual, you do a quick pass over. There are many magical auras around you, but they're your friends. The various objects they're wearing and equipped light up, but there's nothing beyond expected.

LIAM: Nothing, stones, the dirt? Okay, we're good. This place is clear. Let's get the hell out of here.

MATT: You guys jog back to the cart, get up inside, and start making your way south along the trail again with-- if someone wants to write it down-- approximately 500 gold worth of gems. Rubies and emeralds. Because of a really high perception check on Caduceus's end.

LAURA: My notebook, I don't know what happened to it when we moved, so that's why I can't take notes anymore.

TRAVIS: So many dicks lost to the move, oh no.

LIAM: I lost all my dicks.

SAM: Our group inventory, though, is nonexistent right now.

LAURA: I'll find the notebook somehow. Don't worry.

SAM: Can you be in charge again? You're fired.

LAURA: You want me to be in charge of money, I'll be in charge of the money. It reminds me of Caduceus. It's a unicorn. Ashley gave this to me.

TRAVIS: I think we were saying we should probably skedaddle.

MATT: You make your way south along the trail. You have one more day of travel before you get to Trostenwald. Caduceus, are you still leading?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm feeling good.

MATT: Roll one more perception check.

LAURA: I'll help him.

TALIESIN: Oh, thank you.

MARISHA: Find another geocache! Come on!

TALIESIN: 23.

MATT: As you guys are heading southward on the second day, Caduceus, you notice coming up over one of the hills a single horse with a single rider moving at a very quick speed.

SAM: Behind us or ahead of us?

MATT: Heading towards your direction, heading northward.

TALIESIN: That looks like somebody on the run.

LAURA: (whispering) That looks like somebody who's going to pick up some jewels.

MARISHA: Ooh, yeah, maybe that's the guy.

LAURA: Everybody, look casual!

SAM: Wait, no, we're inside an invisible--

TALIESIN: I'm going to change my appearance. To a grungy human with shaggy hair.

LAURA: I see him do that. I do the same thing.

MATT: So, Caleb?

TALIESIN: A long orange goatee, a puffy red beard, and scruffy long red hair. Human Tasmanian Devil.

LAURA: I make myself look like a young human girl with lots of freckles and big, poofy red hair.

TALIESIN: We look related, then?

MATT: The two of you are at the front of the cart. Everyone else?

MARISHA: We're hiding in the invisible cart.

LIAM: That's how it works, right? Everyone in the bed is--

MATT: Everyone in the bed is not visible. They are held behind the illusion.

LAURA: He's driving the cart.

TRAVIS: I jump in the invisible part of the cart.

MATT: As the rest of you head back into the illusion, you continue moseying forward on the cart, and you hear the hooves getting louder and closer. As they go screaming by you at the side, there's that moment where time seems to slow, as you see that individual, their face mostly covered by a dark red or purple bit of cloth, like a facemask. A hood that is up but slipping back, and a little bit of tousled black hair, with a little bit of salt and pepper on the sides. A large cloak underneath, with a cloth mantle over that's also blowing behind slowly. Darkly dressed, like a highwayman that is in the process of trying to get somewhere quickly, whether it be with a delivery or trying to meet up with somebody. In that moment you watch them glance out the side of their eye at the two of you in the cart, and then race off. Not slowing, not stopping.

TRAVIS: Dark salt and pepper hair?

LIAM: It was Travis.

MATT: I put Travis in the game. Meta!

TRAVIS: You couldn't see how long his hair was underneath?

MATT: No, the hood was starting to come back from the wind as the rider tried to keep it down.

TRAVIS: Pale skin?

MATT: No, from the little bit of face showing around the eyes, it looked like it had been fairly tanned, probably from sun and a lot of travel out in the open. They took one quick but very detailed glance towards the two of you and then screamed on ahead northward, past the cart.

LAURA: You're very quick, you!

TALIESIN: We do okay.

MATT: Then you continue southward. For the better part of the next day, you eventually can see, as you come around one bend, where some of the larger hills are beginning to weave around the road as it begins to curve left and right. In the distance, a number of birds are starting to fly in larger flocks and encircling what now reveals itself to be the familiar sight of the Ustaloch below. You can see ahead of you the city of Trostenwald, where a lot of your crazy adventures together began. It's not quite dusk. You're about two hours from dusk. You begin to make your way down towards the city itself. It's as busy and lazy as you remember. As you reach the outer streets of the township, there are people coming up and down the various streets with carts and wares. You can see folks that are passing through, hopefully on a trade route. Some folks that look like they're stuck here. A lot of carts that are built up on the outside that are either waiting for some sort of sign to continue travel, or are still packing up before they leave for whatever their next destination may be. What would you like to do? If anything.

SAM: Are we stopping here? We've got to stop for the night, right?

LAURA: Probably. It's getting late.

SAM: Wait, do people hate us here? I've forgotten.

LAURA: No, no, no. I don't think they do.

TRAVIS: We got a stern warning as we left.

LAURA: We could go see Gustav.

MARISHA: Yeah, why don't we stop by the Nestled Nook?

LIAM: Yeah, if it's easy. Yeah.

MARISHA: See who's there.

MATT: You guys make your way to the Nestled Nook. You come upon the familiar tavern. Entering inside, you can see the familiar face of Yorda, the older woman who runs the tavern, and glances up from wiping off a table in the far corner before her eyes peer over towards you from her tousled blond hair. "Oh, hello there! It's some familiar faces! It's been some time. Welcome. Well, do sit down. Drinks? Rounds? What are you asking for?"

SAM: Well, we're in Trostenwald, right?

LIAM: You have a trost here; that's what you do.

MATT: "Trost it may be. All right. But you're in Trost, there's quite a few Trostenwald brews."

SAM: Von Brandt for me, please.

MATT: "Von Brandt it is."

MARISHA: Same for me.

MATT: "All right, table of von Brandts."

LAURA: Milk for me, please.

MATT: "Milk for that one. Of course. All right, I'll be right back." Yorda makes her way to go fill the rest of your order. You guys take a while here and rest in for a bit. You see Adelaine, who's the other barmaid that's helping with the tavern, in the process of going around and filling the few orders that she has to at this hour. Kluss, the clerk, the reedy-looking young man, is in the back, currently going through paperwork and trying to keep tabs on a number of ledgers and business elements. The evening is yours. Do you wish to do anything, or are you going to bed down for the evening and continue the following day?

MARISHA: I flag down Adla.

MATT: Adelaine?

MARISHA: Adelaine?

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Adla for short.

MATT: Adelaine makes her way to your table. "Hello? You looking for something?"

MARISHA: Yeah, I was curious if you've seen Gustav around. Tall, thin, elvish-looking man.

LAURA: Is he not in jail?

SAM: I think he's in jail, isn't he?

MATT: "I'm sorry, I don't think I know a Gustav."

MARISHA: I thought he was working off his debt. I thought he was-- right?

MATT: He was working off his debt. You don't know the specific circumstances of it.

MARISHA: Interesting. All right, thanks.

MATT: "Of course, sorry. Would you like anything else?"

MARISHA: Another round of drinks.

MATT: "Right away."

LAURA: Could I have some chocolate? And some milk?

MATT: "I'll see what we have in the back." Adelaine goes off, and does return with milk and-- it's a little old, it's starting to get some of that white powder fringe to the chocolate, but it's functional.

LAURA: Yeah! I heat it up and I put it in my milk.

TRAVIS: I'm glad to see your prickly demeanor is still in shape.

MARISHA: Oh, well, I didn't have you around for a little bit, keeping me in check.

TRAVIS: Yeah, that's true.

MARISHA: I tried to do okay, though. I think I did all right. Did I do okay, Caleb?

LIAM: I wasn't paying attention.

MARISHA: Never mind.

LIAM: Could I get a bowl, please?

MATT: A bowl is retrieved for you quite easily. As Yorda throws it on the table, "Would you like something in the bowl, dear?"

LIAM: Oh, I was going to borrow from a friend, but yeah, I will take a little bit of milk in it, please.

MATT: "Milk it'll be." And she goes and returns with a bowl about half-filled with milk.

LIAM: I put it on the floor and I snap him into existence. There you go, buddy.

LAURA: Does he have to eat?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I was going to ask.

LIAM: No.

LAURA: But he likes it?

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: I understand that.

MATT: You look down under the table, at Frumpkin sitting at the bowl going--

LIAM: He really likes it.

TRAVIS: (cat noises)

LIAM: No no. No no no!

SAM: You know, with cats, it's really all of their emotions are your emotions projected on them, anyway, so that's how it works with cats. They feel nothing.

LIAM: It is painfully true, in my case. And I tell Frumpkin to start drinking milk.

MATT: (unwilling groan)

LIAM: Just a little bit. Put some fat on those fey bones of yours.

MATT: As Frumpkin begrudgingly, at the command of his master, “enjoys” a bowl of milk--

SAM: You can't win!

LIAM: Please, send me your emails for abusing my fey magical cat!

MATT: It's fine. Frumpkin can drink milk. Frumpkin just has no need for it.

LIAM: Yeah, it's like Vax, near the end.

MATT: It's a placebo for the master. It's like, “If it makes the master happy, I'll drink this milk for you.”

LIAM: Yeah, like Vax, near the end.

MATT: Yeah, exactly. And you get the sense, too, that the entire time that Frumpkin is drinking from this bowl, Frumpkin is making direct eye contact with Caleb.

LIAM: (Vax voice) Oh, this sandwich is so good. Mmm.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Should we try to see Gustav tonight?

MARISHA: What time is it?

MATT: Right now, it's about dusk. By the time you've come in the city, you've come to the inn, you've got food and drinks, and you settled for a bit, it's about dusk now.

MARISHA: Sure.

SAM: All right, but before we go over there, are we going to plunk down 2,000 gold to get this near-stranger out of debt?

MARISHA: No.

LIAM: I don't think we have that. Do we want to do a little--

SAM: We all do if we pitch in together, I'm sure.

LIAM: I don't think that's true, but we could do a token.

SAM: I have almost that much.

LAURA: You have almost that much? Holy mo-- (gasps) You have so much money!

TALIESIN: That's obscene.

SAM: I never pay for anything.

MATT: Yeah. You guys have bought everything for Nott.

LAURA: That's great.

TRAVIS: Did you want to bail him out?

SAM: Heavens, no.

TRAVIS: You bailing him out tonight?

SAM: No, I didn't say that--

TRAVIS: That is so generous, Nott!

SAM: I feel like you're putting words in my mouth.

TRAVIS: I feel like we should just carry you through the town, crying out, 'Gustav's release paid by this sweet little girl!'

MARISHA: So generous.

SAM: I'm just going to get down on my knees and start licking the milk as well.

(laughter)

MATT: Frumpkin side-eyes you while you both drink the milk together.

LAURA: You should put some chocolate in that. It's better.

MARISHA: Great for cats.

TRAVIS: Well, we could go in the morning, it doesn't matter.

SAM: No, let's go now.

MARISHA: Maybe we can wheel and deal with him. Pay a lump sum now and consider it debt repaid, time served.

LIAM: And if not, I feel like we should keep a certain amount for ourselves for our travels, but we could leave a token sum to help him on the way.

MATT: Okay. So, where are you guys headed?

LAURA: To the jail or wherever.

MATT: It's the stockade. The stockade here is where you had previously--

LAURA: Yeah. Talk to Lawmaster Norda.

LIAM: Remember that? Norda and Yorda.

MARISHA: That's right.

MATT: Yep, just to fuck with you. All right, so you guys make your way to the stockade, and it takes a brief intro to the crownsguard outside before you are brought back in. One of them recognizes you from your previous encounter a few months back and brings you to Norda's office, a familiar place you've been. Norda-- you can see the dwarven woman, with very a tense and tired and just kind of over-it expression on her face, glances up at you all. "All right, so it's been a bit."

MARISHA: Hi.

MATT: "Well, the good news is, nothing else died since you've come back. That's--"

TRAVIS: Excellent news. Very glad to hear that.

MATT: "--positive. So, when are you leaving?"

SAM and LAURA: Soon.

MATT: "Great news. That's wonderful."

LIAM: In the morning.

LAURA: Not everyone likes us.

MATT: "Why are you in my office at this hour?"

TRAVIS: We're just trying to achieve one thing, and that was hopefully to get some eyes on our good friend Gustav, if we could.

MATT: "You want to see Gustav?"

LIAM: If that is permissible, *ja*

MATT: (sighs) "Fine," She gets up from behind the desk and goes and reaches into this cubby and pulls out a ring of keys and, "Follow me." Leads you back down into the familiar stair down below to a cell where a couple of you have been held before. And there you can see, on the far end, there is a cell, and within this dark, subterranean interior with the faint burning torchlight gives this ominous red-orange flicker to the normally shaded interior. You see there, slumped against the wall, enjoying a bowl of some sort of gray, mushy substance, a not abused-and-filthy, but a-little-rough-around-the-edges Gustav. Not chained, not shackled, and there is a chair and there is a bed. You can see of the jail cells here, which are designed to just be abysmal, this one-- some pains have been made to make it a little more comfortable.

TRAVIS: Extended stay.

LIAM: Roughly how long has it been since we were here?

MATT: Roughly about two and a half months, yeah.

TRAVIS: How time flies.

MATT: Best estimate. Even a little longer. I'm sure CritRoleStats will let me know. But, in the proximity there, Norda comes up. "Hey, Gustav! You've got visitors." Clinks the keys against the bars, and, "Oh, um, sorry. That's embarrassing." He finishes a spoonful, sets it down. "Oh, my my my, I was not expecting this at all." And you can see the lanky elvish gentleman, his hair pushed back, a bit greasy, a bit of dirt on the edges of the face, wearing the same nice long coat that you remember him wearing when you last saw him off. Looks like he's been doing some hard work, probably a little thinner than even his previously thin form was, but he's there. He approaches the edge of the bars. "By what might I have the pleasure of you all coming to see me?"

LIAM: Well. Pleasure. You know, we meant to return sooner, but we've been a bit held up.

MATT: "That's all right. I myself have, as well, don't worry."

LIAM: About that. We're not staying in town. We are leaving in the morning, actually, but--

LAURA: Hey, do you like it in this jail cell? Maybe it's really comfortable, huh?

MATT: "Oh, it's not preferable by any means, but it certainly beats going in here against my will."

LIAM: How much-- if it's not too presumptuous, how much do you have left to work off?

MATT: "Oh, at the rate we've been going?" And he looks over towards Norda. Norda's like, "If he keeps working as hard as he has been, he's looking at another seven, eight months, maybe."

LIAM: What about remuneration, an amount? What is left for him to work off?


MATT: "I have to go look at the books, but I can go check."

LIAM: *Ja,* could you please?

MATT: "What, you going to pay him off?"

LIAM, LAURA, MARISHA: (ambiguous noises)

TALIESIN: Barter it at the very least.

TRAVIS: Maybe just a little something towards it, if we could.

MATT: Gustav, at this point, leans forward and goes, "You are all very sweet, and I greatly appreciate it, but this is my debt to pay, not yours."

LAURA and MARISHA: Well...

LIAM: Could you go look up that number for us, please?

MATT: Norda goes, "You two keep an eye." And the two crownsguard approach and get a bit closer while Norda heads back upstairs, Gustav still pressed against the bars, his head peeking through the two sides, bit of scraggly hairs falling in front of his face. "No, but I'm completely serious. This is my burden. I chose it. You've all done good work here, and--"

SAM: Caleb, I lived it, so I remember, but for Caduceus, can you remind me why Gustav was locked up again?

(laughter)

TRAVIS: The circus and the fucking--

SAM: I know, but what did he do wrong?

LIAM: He convinced the town that we all met--

TALIESIN: He was responsible for the circus, that's all, he just took responsibility.

SAM: But that wasn't-- how would he know? This is an innocent man! He didn't do anything bad, right?

TALIESIN: I would love to have an insight check, insight check from Caduceus.

MATT: Make an insight check.

TALIESIN: I want to know what's going on in there. That's a (counting) 27.

MATT: 27.

TALIESIN: I’m rolling real well today. Rolling high.

LIAM: Werewolves! Next week! Travis Willingham, living his best life.

SAM: Herewolves?

LIAM: Therewolves.

SAM: Werewolves.

TRAVIS: Whywolves. Too many. Too many, sorry.

SAM: We're all going to grow facial hair for next week, right? You too?

LAURA: Yeah, I'm going to wear a mustache.

SAM: Cool.

MATT: "But sincerely, I am very appreciative. Each and every one of you"

LIAM: It's maybe a little bit for you, but also for a friend. For-- I'm not good at this, does someone want to?

TALIESIN: I can do this, if you like.

SAM and MARISHA: You don’t know him.

TALIESIN: I don't have to know.

SAM: Your friend and ours, Mollymauk, is no longer of this world, and this would be a way of us saying-- putting his legacy at peace.

MATT: "Well--"

SAM: If we can afford it, no promises.

LAURA: It depends on how much is left, because we don't have a ton of money.

MATT: "I'm just musing on how we found him and how we left him."

SAM: Which was?

MATT: "A brief star burning very bright, but twice as short. But no, when we found him outside of the forests up north, he had no memory, no voice, no words. He was basically a vegetable. But over time, he came back to his senses, and yeah. It's a shame. He was a good one.

LIAM: We were fond of him, and he was fond of you, so.

MATT: "Well. That's the dangers of the world we live in, I suppose."

TRAVIS: I know you've taken this burden on yourselves, but I think we would all feel a bit better if you would accept this as a small thank-you, for then and now as well.

TALIESIN: It's more than a thank-you. I feel that you have to be free, so that you can finally pay your debt.

MATT: "This is me, paying my debt."

TALIESIN: No, this is you hiding from your debt. You're a man who is afraid of what you owe. I understand. That's okay. It'll feel so much better when you're finally free from this belief.

MATT: "I don't know who you are, friend, but you've stepped into a space where you have no knowledge, and, trust me, this is my debt to pay. This is my responsibility."

TALIESIN: This is not your debt. Your debt lies elsewhere. I know these things.

MARISHA: Caduceus. What the hell?

TRAVIS: Why don’t you make some tea and shut the fuck up for a second?

MATT: "Anyway, I should finish my meal."

TALIESIN: It'll be your last one in here.

MATT: He goes over and grabs the bowl, and quietly, while looking at Caduceus, begins to eat his gray mush.

LAURA: Can you tell the future?

TALIESIN: No.

LAURA: Can you tell the past?

TALIESIN: I just know a guilty man when I see one.

LAURA: (gasps) Is he a guilty man?

TRAVIS: Are we out of earshot?

SAM: Is he a bad guy?

MATT: You can move out of earshot

TRAVIS: Let's all group shuffle out of earshot

(laughter)

MATT: You bump into the Crownsguard behind you. “Oh, excuse me.”

TRAVIS: Caduceus! What was that? Where did that come from?!

TALIESIN: He doesn't want to leave.

LAURA: He looks really happy in here, right?

TALIESIN: He's not even happy, he's hiding in here.

SAM: Well, then, maybe we should leave him in here, if he feels unsafe on the outside.

TALIESIN: It's not that he feels unsafe, you can just see-- it's all over his face.

SAM: I can't-- just looks like a dude.

TRAVIS: You can tell that just from looking at him?

TALIESIN: You can tell a lot from people just by looking at them.

LAURA: What do you think when you look at me?

TALIESIN: That's an entire conversation for later.

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: Caduceus, how will Fjord-- how and when will Fjord die?

TALIESIN: In a terrible crash.

LAURA: (gasps)

TALIESIN: With a man named Buick

(laughter)

LIAM: Yeah, so back to the situation at hand. You are suggesting we continue doing what we’re doing?

TALIESIN: I want to see-- I think this is a man who needs to be free so that he can be at peace with himself.

MARISHA: And where are you getting all of this insight?

LAURA: (whispers) His brain.

TALIESIN: Why would you not want to-- why would you want to be in a cell? Why would you want to stay there? Someone’s offering you freedom for nothing.

SAM: We've been in a cell. It’s not fun.

TALIESIN: He's putting on-- there's so much there. He's hiding something.

MARISHA: I'm not arguing prison politics--

SAM: Well, let's find out how much.

MARISHA: I agree with you, I just feel like there's a supernatural situation going on here that you're not necessarily telling us.

TALIESIN: I just know-- I just--

MATT: At this point, Norda returns, coming shuffling back down with a small, leather-bound journal or book of some kind. "All right. Looking at this one, keeping tabs on what he's able to make, the reparations he's made, the amounts of money he was able to have brought in from friends to help pay the debt, we're still sitting at about 2,100 gold pieces."

SAM: I thought it was 2,000 to start?!

MATT: “2,645.”

TALIESIN: I will throw some money at this.

LAURA: I don't have any money to throw at this.

SAM: That's kind of rich for my blood.

LAURA: Well, I guess I have a little money to throw at this.

SAM: If we put all of our money together, how much would it be?

TALIESIN: Would there be a buyout cost, if we wanted to pay it? Is that just the straight-- or could there be some sort of deal?

MATT: Are you asking?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: "What are you-- a buyout?"

TALIESIN: Weirdly-- and I dont know, you've spent more time with him-- but he strikes me as a man who's, weirdly, happier in jail right now than he'd be out of it.

MATT: "He's fucking weird, I'll tell you that."

TALIESIN: I think he needs to face some stuff. It would be really healthy for everyone involved.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

TRAVIS: Come on, you tall, magical cow.

TALIESIN: That's 12.

LIAM: (whispers) This got weird so quickly.

MATT: "Tell you what, you go ahead and toss down about 1,700 right now? I'll kick his ass out."

TALIESIN: I'll put 400 gold down right now.

LAURA: I can put 50 gold in.

SAM: No, save your 50 gold.

MARISHA: How much?

MATT: Gustav has come back to the bars and is like, "You all are being absurdly generous--”

TALIESIN: There's no generosity in this.

MATT: "--and this is not necessary at all. I mean it, I mean it."

SAM: I can put down a thousand.

TRAVIS: Gold?!

TALIESIN: We're at 14, we need three more.

LIAM: I will put in 100 gold.

MARISHA: She wanted to do 1,700?

LIAM: We are at 15 now.

MARISHA: I throw in 165 that’s Molly's, but also, hang on. Before we do all this. Listen, Norda, I know we caused a lot of a headache for you when all this was going down.

MATT: "You were one of many. There's at least, at any given point in time, 17 headaches in here, so yeah, that's one of them."

MARISHA: So, we're simply trying to take one more headache off of your list of a lot of headaches. We're trying to do a good thing. A man in jail doesn't do anything for your city, but I bet 1,500 right now would.

TRAVIS: Don't have to empty the bedpans, change the sheets.

MARISHA: Don't have to feed him.

MATT: The crownsguard to the left of you goes, "You should listen to her. Those bedpans are pretty terrible."

MARISHA: Think of what you can do for this town with 1,500 gold right now, because let me tell you, we can't give you that 1,700. So we either walk and you're stuck with a prisoner for another nine months, or you take the 1,500. Make one last persuasion check. This will be at a higher DC.

TRAVIS: Can I assist this as a charismatic fucking half-orc?

MATT: What do you say to assist her?

TRAVIS: Oh. What I just said. (singing) Listen to Beau, she knows the score.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Interpretive dance.

MARISHA: Jazz hands!

MATT: You watch as the Lawmaster's eyebrow raises to the--

TRAVIS: And I wink.

LIAM: Jesus.

LAURA: (laughs) Oh my god.

MATT: For the first time since you've seen Norda, you see a smile curl across her face. She goes, "If that's not the weirdest thing I've seen in some time." Make your check with advantage.

MARISHA: Hey! Natural 20! Yeah, jazz hands work every fucking time!

SAM: What was the other number?

MARISHA: 17!

LAURA: Okay, okay, still good.

MATT: "1,500 and we'll call it even."

MARISHA: All right.

TALIESIN: I gave you four.

MARISHA: How much was it? I've got 165 that was Molly's.

LAURA: This is like us trying to figure out a check.

MATT: I know, isn't it?

MARISHA: I can throw in money as well, because that was part of my goal.

LIAM: Just keep 65 and spend 100 of Molly's, to keep it simple.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: That's a thousand, 300--

TALIESIN: 400. I think it was 400, yeah.

MATT: So you only need a hundred.

LIAM: I'm keeping my money, then.

MATT: Nott threw down a thousand.

LIAM: Solid.

TALIESIN: I already knocked it off. Thank you, Nott.

MATT: The crownsguard begin gathering the money from you guys and bringing over small chests to put the large amount of coin over. As this is happening, Gustav leans his back towards the stones at the edge, and his eyes are just wide in disbelief. "I don't know what to say."

LAURA: Say thank you!

MATT: Thank you!

LAURA: I cast Wand of Smiles at him.

MATT: What's the DC on that? Is it a charisma save?

LAURA: It's a charisma save.

MATT: That's a natural eight.

LAURA: Oh, good, you have to smile!

MATT: He sits there, eyes wide.

LAURA: Yay, he's so happy!

MATT: Norda takes the keys and heads over and opens it up. "All right, punk, you're a free man. Congratulations. For some odd reason, these folks decided that you were worth a lot of money to not be here, so be thankful that somehow the great gods have looked down upon you and Erathis decided, ‘You know what, fuck law! You're free.'" So the guards escort him out. You guys all head to the outside. You all get led outside of the stockade and Norda says, "All right, well, that's been a pleasure. I'm going to go ahead and go home, have a drink, and get some fucking sleep."

TRAVIS: Excellent idea.

MATT: "Don't get anyone else killed." She heads back inside. Gustav is stepping out there, his hat that he just had retrieved and given back to him, he puts on, steadies his coat, grabs the small sack of his personal belongings and turns around to the rest of you. "I-- (laughs) Thank you. This is more than I would have expected."

LIAM: What will you do now?

MATT: "I don’t know. I mean, the circus is scattered. I would ask where Yasha was-- she would be a good right-hand man-- but I don't see her around. Did she also--?"

TRAVIS: No, she took off like she does.

LIAM: Your guess is as good as ours.

MARISHA: Maybe you could find her.

LAURA: She's up north.

MARISHA: We're heading to the Menagerie Coast.

MATT: "Huh, Menagerie Coast. Haven't been there in a long time."

MARISHA: You're more than welcome to hop on the wagon, if you want. Can't promise much more beyond that.

MATT: "Oh, I'm fine. Thank you, I appreciate it. I should probably tie up some loose ends now that I have availability to do so. Thanks to you and your generosity."

TALIESIN: A word of advice.

MATT: "Mm-hmm?"

TALIESIN: Whatever was keeping you in this cell, whatever was making you comfortable in here, be careful of it. There's something inside you that's trying to put you in a box. Whatever guilt you're feeling, whatever thing that you feel that you're to blame for, I would unload that burden. If not on us, on somebody, although we're happy to take it.

MATT: Make an intimidation check

TALIESIN: Intimidation is fine. I was trying to be kind of nice.

MATT: It can ride a line.

TALIESIN: Seven.

MATT: "I appreciate your candor and advice, tall furry man. Maybe I'll find an ear to bend one day. Until then, let Gustav Fletching be forever your humble servant."

MARISHA: Do you mean that? Like, if we ever need you, can we hit you up?

TRAVIS: It's an expression.

MARISHA: Yeah but I'm asking because he offered.

MATT: "Sure, I've got nothing else going on. Come find me."

MARISHA: I don't need you right now.

MATT: "Well, then come find me!"

MARISHA: Yeah, okay.

LAURA: We'll send you a message, don't you worry!

MATT: "I'm sure. Well, good night." He walks off on his lanky legs, almost bending with each step. He's such a strange, gangly elf. You've never quite seen an individual of his physicality.

LIAM: Boy, not that any of us can complain, but that guy likes to lay it on thick.

TALIESIN: He's very sad.

MARISHA: Fjord does this mean I'm not the most abrasive person in the group any more?

SAM: I don't know if Deuce is abrasive; just sort of awkward, aloof.

TRAVIS: Yeah, just blunt.

TALIESIN: I see funny rocks, I see funny people, and this is not sitting right, there's something unnatural about the build.

LAURA: When you drink tea made of dead people, you see things.

MARISHA: I toss Caduceus a little pouch.

TALIESIN: I would like to make a dexterity check to see if I catch it?

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: If that's okay?

MATT: Sure.

SAM: (sneezes)

LAURA: Bless you.

SAM: (sneezes)

LAURA and MATT: Bless you.

TALIESIN: 12

MATT: It's more of a--. You have to save it, but you catch it.

MARISHA: That's what’s left of Molly's gold, 65. Figured since you put down so much money for a stranger to be busted out, a little bit of reimbursement.

TALIESIN: Appreciate that, that's nice of you.

MARISHA: Why? Why'd you do it?

TALIESIN: I told you why. I told him why. Because it's not healthy to sit there and just hide from your problems.

MARISHA: That's a lot of money for an esoteric reason.

TALIESIN: Is it?

LIAM and TRAVIS: Yeah.

TALIESIN: How much money was it?

MARISHA: 400 gold!

TALIESIN: Yeah, how much is that?

LAURA: It's a lot!

MARISHA: Oh!

LAURA: Where did you even get that gold?

SAM: We all divided it.

LIAM: That's tea for life.

TALIESIN: Seems fair.

TRAVIS: Maybe we will--

TALIESIN: How much money was that amount?

MARISHA: 65

TALIESIN: 65, thank you.

TRAVIS: We'll give you a little lessons in economics as we travel, just for fucking future parley situations.

TALIESIN: I mean, what's the point of having gold if you're not using it for something? I mean, otherwise it's just something that's making it heavier to walk.

TRAVIS: There's a lot of reasons.

TALIESIN: Sounds odd, but all right.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we'll get into it, we got time.

LIAM: Seems fake.

(laughter)

MATT: As you guys make your way back to the Nestled Nook Inn, having seen what has become of Gustav and changed the trajectory of his journey as well, you all ruminate on the rather large sum of money you've given for what you hope is a good cause, have another drink, and find your way to bed. And that's where we'll take a break!

LAURA: You spent a thousand gold!

TALIESIN: Worth it! Fucking worth it! I'm feeling it. I'm feeling the vibe: the vibe was that it was worth it.

MATT: That was really interesting. I wasn't expecting that!

TALIESIN: That was, by the way, the best whisper I've ever had. I'm not telling them at all what you said, but that was amazing!

MATT: That was a 27 insight.

TRAVIS: We need a damn whisper cam.

TALIESIN: That was deep.

SAM: He put 400, 1000, 100.

MARISHA: I was gonna toss in way more, but you guys picked up the check.

TALIESIN: I'm happy to take it. This was definitely my instigation, so I should bear the brunt of it.

MATT: Fair enough. I had to go to the Wiki to find out how much money he still owed.

(laughter)

MATT: So thank you, whoever runs the Critical Role Wiki.

LIAM: I'm gonna go open and look at Wikipedia. I found it!

MATT: We have tonight as part of our Wyrmwood giveaway-- ah! Let's open up. Oh! This is the purpleheart dice tower.

SAM: That's mine.

MATT: Which has the Desert of Din’Tely fantastic grain-in art from Deven Rue.

LIAM: Looks so good on the purpleheart.

MATT: Looks so fantastic! It really does. This dice tower set comes together, magnetizes to assemble into an awesome dice tower. This will be given away at the end of the break to one lucky winner. So you need to hop on over to the Critical Role Twitch chat during the break, that's twitch.tv/criticalrole and enter, only once, the word "coast.” C-O-A-S-T. More than once--

TRAVIS: Deep meaning.

MATT: I know.

MATT: More than once and you'll be disqualified. We'll come back here at the end of the break, and we'll have a winner to announce, see you here in a minute! If I can close the box! There we go!

TRAVIS: What's in the box?

MATT: I knew it was coming.

Break Edit

[break]

Part IIEdit

MATT: Welcome back, and that was super late.

MARISHA and TRAVIS: Way late!

LIAM: Intentionally late.

MATT: Sure. Welcome back. So, first off, we have our winner. And our winner of the giveaway for this fantastic Wyrmwood Purple Heart Box Deven Rue art scroll thing--

LIAM: There it is.

MATT: --is tempyyy. T-E-M-P-Y-Y-Y. Tempyyy, congratulations, we'll have that sent out to you ASAP. Well done. We'll have a new one to give you guys next week for the next giveaway. And thank you for our fine friends at Wyrmwood for being amazing.

TRAVIS: Yeah!

MATT: All right. Put that away.

LIAM: I wish Laura hadn't quit.

MATT: I know.

TALIESIN: That was weird.

MARISHA: She just was like, "I'm out."

LIAM: She was so good on the show.

MARISHA: Right out the front door.

SAM: I'm trying to figure out what it is. Is it DPB? Is that right?

MARISHA: DPB, yes.

MATT: Oh, this is not going away, is it?

SAM: Big peanut butter energy.

LIAM: We’re over big dick energy. BDE is gone, DPB is in.

TRAVIS: The best part is when people try to explain it to other people, and they're like, "What does it mean?" And they say, "Dick in the peanut butter," and they'll be like (disbelieving) "No, what does it really mean?" It's dick in the peanut butter.

MATT: So.

LIAM: It just means you're really invested. Schlurp.

MARISHA: Ooh.

MATT: So, after taking the evening at--

(laughter)

MATT: --in Trostenwald, in the tavern, you rest up. The following morning, as the sun rises into the sky, you have your meals, you prepare yourselves for the next leg of your journey. Is there anything else you wish to accomplish while in Trostenwald, or do you wish to--

MARISHA: I do my pushups and my pullups.

MATT: Totally. Got to keep it going. Upkeep, it’s important for a monk.

MARISHA: I'm working on it.

TALIESIN: I do my meditation.

MARISHA: Beau works out more than I do.

MATT: There you go. Different kind of working out.

SAM: Is there a place called Natural Remedies, maybe? Or maybe the general store? I don’t know if it’s possible-- Can I get components to make a Tanglefoot Bag? The chemicals needed for that?

MATT: Let's see here.

SAM: It's a chemical thing, Travis. You wouldn't understand.

TRAVIS: Are you pretending to have actually looked in the Player’s Handbook for once?

SAM: I did not. I looked on the printout that Matt gave me. The one page that I needed to play the game.

MATT: So yeah. Indeed, there is Natural Remedies, there is the Lochward General. What are you looking for, specifically?

SAM: What do I need for that, for goopy stuff? Tar? I don't know.

MARISHA: Peanut butter.

MATT: It would be tar and other--

SAM: Is it a chemical thing?

MATT: Well, it's a series of chemicals. Tar, amber, resin, and things that are pulled from tree sap. There are other processes where you can distill that down, along with some more crude clays, to create this kind of adhesive. If you’d like to.

SAM: Yeah, I'll turn into a little gnome or something, and go around and shop, and get all the components I might need.

MATT: Okay. So you can go ahead and do that. Go ahead and make a general deception check.

SAM: Oh boy. Yeah, that's a two.

MATT: Okay. So you--

SAM: Oh, but deception’s a minus three, so.

MATT: So negative one?

SAM: Yes.

MATT: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Wow. What does the other side of failure look like?

SAM: So, I forget to turn my lower half into a--

(laughter)

SAM: Weird minotaur.

MATT: You go ahead and meet with Simon Earth of the Natural Remedies shop. You can acquire the goods you need at the cost-- specifically, the materials that you’re trying to make if you’re trying to do something alchemical-- at the cost of what it requires.

SAM: Yes!

MATT: You get through one round of discussions with him before you begin to notice crownsguard getting interested in your presence. One of them, for some reason, his eye caught you strange and he noticed something odd about the illusion and your physicality and seems to be-- You and this shop don't have a very good history.

TRAVIS: You're half gnome and half minotaur.

TALIESIN: Just the horse butt on the top.

SAM: All right, well, I'll just go then, I guess. Oh! Looks like I've got a thing! Well, I'll come back tomorrow and finish shopping here, and I will definitely not flee town today.

(laughter)

MATT: You say loudly as you exit the facility. The crownsguard are keeping a distance, but they're definitely trailing you from about 25, 30 feet behind.

SAM: Boy. It's a cold day. I think I'll just pop up my hood and walk a little brisker.

MATT: They walk a little brisker, keeping pace with you.

SAM: Maybe just-- Oh look, what's that? And I'll run into an alley that way.

MATT: Okay. Make a stealth check.

TALIESIN: Natural one.

SAM: Advantage. Ooh, that's even worse! 17.

MATT: 17! Okay. You, dodging into the alleyway, using what looks like one of the open window sills on the first floor and the edge railing of the rooftop of this building that's immediately there, you dart up and manage to get your small goblin form up onto the roof, out of the point of view. You hear the crownsguard round the corner and run inside and begin looking around. You see them pushing barrels over, and one of them who seems to be leading this charge is like, "Well, fucking hell, where the hell did she go? It's probably just my mind playing tricks on me." And you hear them slowly walk away. They weren't fully invested in a chase. They were more just mistrusting and curious.

TRAVIS: (whispers) Kill them now.

(laughter)

SAM: It would be so easy

TALIESIN: (whispers) Their families must know pain.

SAM: All right. I'll just rejoin the others.

MATT: So you're back with the rest of the troupe. You guys have all your stuff gathered together to continue the rest of this journey. If you want to do anything alchemical, it will take time with the kit to do so.

SAM: The dice have spoken, Matt.

MATT: So! Gathered up, back onto the cart, who is leading this next leg of the journey? Is it continuing, Caduceus?

TALIESIN: I'm really enjoying this. I get to see this wonderful countryside.

MARISHA: I’ll drive for a bit.

TALIESIN: Sure.

MARISHA: I haven't taken a shift yet.

MATT: All right, so the two of you make your way to the front of the cart, and get heading southward. It is four days of travel to the Wuyun Gate.

MARISHA: To the what gate?

MATT: To the Wuyun Gate. It's the southern gates that mark the very edge of the southern portion of the Empire. So. Go ahead and make a perception check. Since Beau is helping you, with advantage.

TALIESIN: 19.

MATT: 19, okay. We'll say, for the sake of brevity here, the first two days of travel, thanks to your tent as well and staying off the beaten path during times of rest, you manage to find some good hidden areas and no issues happen at night during the restful period. The second day goes by without issue. You do see a small grouping of merchants making their way northward with largely what is a chain of oxen. It looks like they have about 12 or so of them that are chained together and they’re heading northward, having made their way through the gates, for some sort of a sale or trade. It's a curious spectacle as they come by. It's one cart and just a lot of oxen, giant horns, slowly making their way northward. As you pass around for the third day and fourth day, go ahead and make another perception check.

TALIESIN: Again with advantage?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: All right. Natural 20.

TRAVIS: Yeah!

MATT: Damn!

TALIESIN: Rocking it today.

MATT: Apparently. Which brings you to a total of?

TALIESIN: 28.

MATT: 28. Okay.

MARISHA: Geocache! Geocache! Geocache! More hidden treasure!

MATT: As you get to the very, very southern side of this valley, you begin to see as the Cyrios Mountains and the Ashkeeper Peaks begin to come and point together towards the actual Wuyun Gorge, which is this central ravine between the two mountain ranges that heads southward and exits the Marrow Valley entirely. As you approach, you begin to see the actual Wuyun Gates, which are these tall 50 foot high--- can't quite tell the width of it. You've traveled through these before once with Jester before coming into the Empire. You know the width of these walls is at least ten feet to 15 feet wide at its base. The central gates themselves are not stone, but they are two very large, iron reinforced wooden doors that stand about 20 feet tall and are opened and closed by chained based wenches that rotate and open and close from each side of the interior of the wall. Your vision catches troupe of about 50 or so soldiers. Not dressed in the same bits of armor as the crownsguard that you've seen as you've traversed most of this countryside, but a different set of armor. Largely bright red maroons and golds. Looks like there are some tents and there's an encampment set on this side, off to the eastern edge of the gate.

TALIESIN: Mr. Fjord, what do you think of that?

TRAVIS: To be honest with you, Caduceus, that was not here the last time I was here.

TALIESIN: Do you recognize those uniforms?

MATT: They are the Righteous Brand.

TRAVIS: Yeah, they're the Righteous Brand. I remember maybe a tenth of that. I assume border tensions are pretty high.

TALIESIN: Are we okay with these people or should we--

TRAVIS: I think we should be fine. After all, we're leaving, we're not entering.

TALIESIN: Fair.

MATT: As you guys get closer and closer to the gates, you can see six crownsguard that are painstakingly inspecting every cart and travel wagon that is making its way through the gate. They are stopping one by one and going through and poking and prodding and moving things in the carts to look for any stowaways; looking for hidden materials. In this time of warfare, it looks like there is a very thorough process. And you can see the gates are open--

LIAM: How far to the gate?

MATT: You guys are about 300 feet away. He caught a vision of it very distantly and you guys are-- They haven't quite noticed your presence yet or if they've noticed it, they haven't taken stock of it because they're focused on their task.

TRAVIS: We've traveled four days to the south to the Wuyun Gates.

SAM: And we're about to get--

MARISHA: Border patrol.

SAM: Border patrol’s there and they're checking every wagon.

TRAVIS: You and I came through when we were coming north and there were a couple guards. Now there's like 50.

LIAM: It needs to be empty the way it looks. We need to hop out now.

MARISHA: Yeah. Caduceus let's pull off to the side and try to find some cover in the woods. Is there woods to cover behind?

MATT: Nope! It is--

MARISHA: It's a gorge?

MATT: Well, the mountain range has come together into this central gorge. What was previously tall grass plains with rolling hills and bits of rock has thinned out to be bits of scrub and then hard rock floor. You've left the central valley and you're hitting more mountainous terrain.

TRAVIS: Perhaps we empty the cart, walk on foot and say we're looking to go out and bring goods and wares back into the Empire.

MARISHA: I just don't want to bring a cart with a magical tarp over it, that's designed for smuggling humans.

LAURA: Well, the tarp isn't magical. The cart is magical.

TALIESIN: Is there a way to turn off the effect?

LAURA: It just looks like a cart.

LIAM: It needs to be empty the way it looks when they poke at it. So I think we should all spill out now.

MARISHA: We'll walk outside? Yeah.

TALIESIN: There's got to be a way to turn off the enchantment, maybe.

MATT: Make an arcana check.

SAM: Is there a button?

TALIESIN: I'm probably not the person the make an arcana check for this, but here we go.

MATT: You're the one who had the question.

TALIESIN: Nope. That is a natural one. Which gives me a zero.

MATT: You contemplate over this enchantment that they've told you about the cart. You guys watch as Caduceus stares out into space a bit before this trickle of blood begins to come of his nostril.

LAURA: Are you okay?

TALIESIN: What?

TRAVIS: Caduceus, you've got a little--

TALIESIN: Oh yeah. That's--

LAURA: Does that happen when you think really hard?

TALIESIN: What?

LIAM: Just on a whim do you want to try to dispel the enchantment the way you did--

SAM: Dispel? But then it won't come back!

LAURA: But then it won't work!

TALIESIN: It may not come back is the thought.

MARISHA: Yeah. I kind of like having--

LAURA: I have Dispel Magic, but--

LIAM: What would I know about using that spell to make this go away; temporarily or for good?

MATT: It's hard to-- Make an arcana check yourself, actually.

LIAM: That's what I'm after. That is 22.

MATT: It depends on the basis of the enchantment. If they’re very powerful items, then there are sometimes means of temporarily subduing the enchantment. Objects that are a little more common, or the enchantments themselves are not as thorough, it is a dispel and gone type scenario.

LIAM: Hey, let's roll off of this thing and take a walk.

TRAVIS: Yep.

SAM: How about this? What about this? There's-- we're not the only cart on the road, right?

MATT: On this side of the road? You're the only one. There is one that is in the gates right now that's full inspection, and you can now see, from this distance that Caduceus has pointed out, beyond the open gates, you can see a cluster of other carts. There's a line trying to make their way--

SAM: Waiting to come back through. We could plant some contraband on one of those carts. In the kerfuffle, they'll be like, "Hey, you! You guys are arrested, you're under arrest!" And we'll be like, "Oh, we'll just skate through."

LAURA: I don't think they're trying to arrest people on the way out.

TRAVIS: They are searching both ways, it looks like.

LAURA: I think it will be easier to get out of the Empire than back in.

LIAM: Let them poke sticks in here and find nothing.

MARISHA: Do you think we're okay if we all pile out?

SAM: If they poke the stick in, the stick will disappear.

TRAVIS: What kind of contraband do we have? We’ve got a couple pouches of fungus and that's about it.

MARISHA: That's true.

SAM: I have human jerky.

LAURA: They won't know that it's human.

SAM: If I tell them it is--

LAURA: How about don't do that.

LIAM: Yeah, but if they find the lot of us going (grunts) when they look in, that's bad, but if they poke at it and say, "What's with this cart?", we say it's a very good cart.

TRAVIS: I agree. Let's risk it.

LIAM: I'm getting out of the cart.

LAURA: Yeah, all of us.

MARISHA: If they reached in to be like, "Oh, are there hidden compartments?", would they see their arm disappear?

MATT: Their arm would essentially vanish as they put their arm through the illusion.

MARISHA: Or if they're like, "I'm going to climb up and check this out, Frank," and then they're like, "Frank!"

LAURA: The cart isn't covered. Let's just make it look totally empty.

SAM: And if they ask why there's nothing, we have a story, right? We're going to go pick up a shipment and bring it back.

LAURA: Yeah, it's fine.

TRAVIS: Nothing wrong with having an invisible cart.

SAM: Just me. I'll do the talking, right?

TRAVIS: Yep.

LIAM: Or maybe Fjord would be good at that.

LAURA: I’m going to focus on the thing.

TRAVIS: Oh, the dodeca?

SAM: Shouldn't Fjord?

TRAVIS: Shouldn't I, since I've never done it before?

TALIESIN: Yeah, actually, I was going to say, you haven't done it yet. I think that--

LAURA: Okay, Fjord, you focus on it. Right as I started to focus on it, you can steal it from me.

LIAM: I will take the bag away and swivel it over to Fjord.

TRAVIS: But I don't underst-- (groans)

(laughter)

MATT: In that brief moment, Fjord--

MARISHA: Oh shit, maybe she will come to him.

MATT: --you feel this momentary release, like a tether that previously had gone unseen is loosened. And there, in that brief bit of unexpected free-floating freedom amongst the darkness, that warm, gray, centered energy drifts towards you. Your fight-or-flight kicks in momentarily, but you consciously recall that your friends have been through this. Seems safe. And with that, it drifts towards you, and, in this weird, familiar sense, you've had more than one object enter your torso. As it warmly touches your chest and dissipates within the inside of your body, your consciousness shifts back out of your concentration mode on the dodecahedron, and you can feel that lingering warmth still around your sternum beneath your armor as you release your hands from the object.

TRAVIS: That's a hell of a thing.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: Calm yourself, Jester. Lock it up. Lock it up. Mount up, let's do this.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: By mount up, he means everybody walk next to the cart.

MATT: So, as you all-- Walking alongside your cart towards the Wuyun Gates, the crownsguard begin to take notice of your presence, and you can see the one cart that was being inspected at the gates is given, apparently, the clear. They load their materials back into it and begin making their way northward, passing you as you head south.

SAM: I'm going to change into another form of some sort.

MATT: Of which sort?

SAM: Just a halfling. Or a tiny halfling lady.

MATT: You begin to hit a point-- and there's enough room for maybe three carts to make it through here, but they're keeping it a two-lane scenario here, this pincher point. There is a cart now that's begun inspection, and about three different crownsguard are going through and rifling and lifting things out of the way. As you begin to approach, the crownsguard put a hand up and guide you over with hand signals to the area to the immediate right of it, around ten feet to the west of the other cart. The captain approaches. You can see a woman in brownish red hair, a bit sun-bleached at the tips, pulled up into a soft ponytail high on the head, and the crownsguard armor itself looks well-kept. You can see from the decorations, as you've seen it before, this is a captain. Approaches. "Halt. What is your business, and where are you going?"

TRAVIS: We are but merchants heading south, down to Nicodranas and Port Damali, in search of goods and wares.

MATT: "Very well. And what are you carrying across the border, please?"

TRAVIS: Nothing but this cart. We are full of coin and yet have no products for trade. We hope to fix that south of the border.

MATT: (whistles) Two of the crownsguard come over towards the cart and goes, "But what is within these sacks and small boxes?"

LAURA: Oh no, we totally emptied the cart.

MATT: You emptied the cart, but the illusion-- I've explained multiple times-- is an illusion of standard sacks and boxes.

MARISHA: What if none of us fully understood that?

LAURA: Like, at all.

TALIESIN: I did.

LAURA: I did not.

TALIESIN: May I?

LAURA: Yes.

TALIESIN: There's actually nothing on the cart. This is a preventative measure against theft. You can feel free to inspect the cart yourself, if you like.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

SAM: So truthful.

MARISHA: I know.

TALIESIN: Ten.

MATT: "All right. Appreciate you being forthright." The two other guards come forward, and you watch as they place their blades into and watch them vanish and go like--

TALIESIN: It's kind of neat, right?

MATT: Looking back at the captain, and begin to poke forward, and you watch as their torsos vanish beyond the veil of the illusion, and pull back. "Dualla!" The captain approaches, and herself leans in and pulls back. "You are not incorrect, you carry nothing on your carts. This is a curious nature of an enchantment, indeed. And you said you're heading to Nicodranas and Port Damali to acquire goods. What are you looking to acquire?"

TRAVIS: Some simple fabrics, meats. My friends haven't sampled the cuisine down there, and I was hoping to show them a bit of the Menagerie Coast.

MATT: Make a deception check.

TRAVIS: Ugh!

LAURA: If it's really bad, you can roll again!

TRAVIS: Oh, that's right, I'm going to do that! That's better. 17.

MATT: She gives you a close look, not leaving direct eyeline to your pupils and hers, and watches you through the entire statement, and then, "Very well. Move along."

TALIESIN: We look forward to seeing you on our return.

MATT: "Well, the inspection will be far more thorough that time."

TALIESIN: Oh, I figure we're not difficult faces to remember.

MATT: "All right. Stay safe."

TALIESIN: You too.

MATT: "The boundaries-- who knows what's wandering from the dark side of Xhorhas there? Eyes on your backs. Go!" And the crownsguard pull away, and the ones on the opposite end open the space for you guys to move your cart along. With that, you pass through the gates of the Wuyun Gorge.

TRAVIS: Do the gates look any different since the last time we were there? Scratch marks? More wear and tear?

MATT: Make a perception check.

MARISHA: You're like the one happy person at the DMV.

TALIESIN: (laughs)

TRAVIS: 19.

MATT: No. It doesn't look like there's been any scuffle, no attacks, they haven't taken any tear from any sort of conflict, it looks like, from this end. But there are more guards up along the top, along the walkway above the wall. Previously, you guys had seen two crossbowmen that were there. There's now ten. The Righteous Brand themselves, while about 30 or so of them have been encamped in that one encampment, the rest, of about 20 or so, are scattered amongst different points on the mountains around the gate and are all scouts, keeping eyes out for anyone trying to circumvent the pinch point. There's pretty heavy interest in keeping watch on these borders, given the current conflict to the east. But you pass through safely, allowed by the crownsguard, and within a few moments, you pass into the Wuyun Gorge proper, and a wave of acknowledgment hits most of you that, for the first time, you are no longer in the Dwendalian Empire. So you pass by the six or seven carts that are in line, and there's arguments and frustration. Some of them are currently very vehemently arguing with the crownsguard who are holding them to wait their turn. You keep your heads down and continue forward. There, you start heading into this large mountain pass. Extremely steep at certain points, where the mountains seem to be have been carved down or bisected by some ancient cataclysm, whether it be the Calamity or some great natural disaster long before that. It seems to be a very unique, singular cleft down in the center of these two mountains that breaks the mountain range between the Cyrios and the Ashkeeper. Who's keeping-- you're at the front of this?

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Go ahead and make a perception check for me, please.

TALIESIN: No advantage.

SAM: Come on, Deuce. Drop that deuce.

TALIESIN: That's a 27.

LIAM: He did it again.

TALIESIN: I am rocking today.

MATT: As you're stalking ahead, riding before, you can see there's bits of rock formations that have been pushed through by some sort of ancient seismic activity. There are pieces of rock that are platformed over, and there are outcroppings and caverns that have naturally been pushed out of the sides of this large ravine. It's quiet here, with the occasional echoing sound of birds squawking and cawing to each other. There's a faint wind occasionally drifting through in pulses. It's warm. The sun is above, and whereas previously you have been encountering the colder winter, especially further north of the Marrow Valley where the snowfalls have been rather consistent, the warm clothes that many of you have been wearing in that weather are beginning to capture the heat of this southern area, and as the sun is now high in the sky, cloudless, the blue above you, the beads of sweat begin to form across your back beneath your clothing. Caduceus, you hear this faint, guttural muttering of some kind. What languages do you know?

TALIESIN: I know Common, Elvish, Giant, Sylvan.

MATT: (laughs)

SAM: More whispers?

LAURA: Ah, he knows everything!

LIAM: It's an elven giant.

TRAVIS: Buddy.

MARISHA: Caduceus MVP tonight.

SAM: Wow, he's on a roll.

TRAVIS: May this carry you into the playa well, my friend.

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: What was that? I heard some of the whisper. I heard it was crazy!

LAURA: What?

TALIESIN: There's giants up ahead.

LIAM and MARISHA: What?

SAM: What do you mean?

LAURA: Where up ahead?

TALIESIN: Shh.

SAM: You didn't tell me we were going to giant--

TRAVIS: Shh!

LAURA: Get back in the cart! Get in the cart!

TALIESIN: All right. Do I know where the voice came from?

MATT: With that roll? Yes, you would. Looking ahead-- and you guys have traveled a number of hours past the gates-- about 30 feet ahead of you, behind one of these rock formations, you can see the vague outline of some sort of large, hulking figure leaned against it.

TALIESIN: Okay.

MATT: You see the outside of a humanoid shoulder and the back of a matted bit of greased hair, maybe standing 15 feet tall.

TALIESIN: All right.

LAURA: What is it?

TALIESIN: It's about 30 feet away?

MATT: It's about 30 feet ahead of you and to the right.

TALIESIN: All right. I think he's planning on ambushing us.

SAM: What?

TALIESIN: I'm going to cast--

LAURA: Just one?

TALIESIN: Just one I can see, although he's talking to someone-- I'm going to cast Calm Emotions over there just to see what that does.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Just a little chamomile. Calmly. A little lavender.

TALIESIN: It's a 20-foot bomb in all that section I can't see.

MATT: Yep. So it's a charisma saving throw.

TALIESIN: Against 16.

MATT: It's a natural five with a minus one. That's going to be a no.

TRAVIS: Atta boy.

LIAM: Nice, Tal.

LAURA: Who's this Tal you speak of?

MATT: The tension-- and you guys can, as Caduceus has pointed out this figure, you can see it tense against the stone, and you see it was reaching down. Just out of sight, there was some large rocky formation that it had its arms on, and it leans back a bit and shakes its head, and as it pulls just beyond the outline of the rock, you can see a second head right next to the first. Two heads on one set of shoulders. They both shake away from each other, then together and away, and one looks to the other and just waves in your direction.

TALIESIN: What are they wearing?

MATT: Mostly no clothing other than a bit of tattered leather and hide and furs that are matted around the midsection and dangling almost past the knees.

TALIESIN: I'm just going to calmly keep moving the cart by them, and I'm just going to wave back and say, "That's some great leather you're wearing there. You look great."

TRAVIS: Are you fucking kidding me?

MARISHA: Holy shit.

MATT: As the cart moves past, another voice, also in giant, comes across the way. You guys hear: (yelling in Giant). You look over to the other side, and from around another rock, you see another one of them who's looking livid at the other one. Go ahead and make an arcan-- this would be-- technically, it's a giant--

TALIESIN: They also don't see any of you. They just see me and whoever's sitting up front right now.

MATT: Make a general intelligence check.

LAURA: Oh, that's right, it's just you. I think all of us jumped in the back.

MATT: If anybody would like to, make a general intelligence check on this.

LIAM: 23.

SAM: Or just him.

MARISHA: General intelligence?

MATT: Yeah, these are Ettins.

TRAVIS: That worked. They're what?

MATT: Ettins are large giant-kin, two-headed beasts, and they don't normally work in pairs-- you know this instinctively-- because they argue enough between their two heads. To have two working together is already a very strained relationship. And the other one who's yelling at the one across the way, as you guys are in between, you recognize it as saying, "What?! Why?! Stupid! Right there! Don't wave!" And the other head goes, "What he said!" I'm going to go ahead and, just for the sake of this, to give you some visual perspective--

TALIESIN: Yeah, please, bring it. I feel bad that we didn't get to--

MATT: It may not come to that, but I want to give you a visual.

TALIESIN: I feel like-- if you worked so hard on a map, I was feeling a little guilty.

SAM: Matt made this map, and you just blew it, Taliesin.

TALIESIN: I am enjoying this character *so much*.

LAURA: Oh my god, look at how amazing that map is!

SAM: There's so much in there.

LIAM: Oh, he worked so hard on that!

SAM: You know, let's just attack just ‘cause.

LIAM: And now the Ettin just wants to crochet things with us.

MATT: So you guys would be right about there.

LAURA: Look at our beautiful horses. How come one-- Mamma Mia is *way* prettier than Dancing Queen.

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: All right, so, general positioning: Caduceus would be in the front, with Jester there.

LAURA: Oh, okay. I was inside, but I'll take it.

TALIESIN: I'm so tall. All right.

MATT: Or no, was Beau here in the front?

LAURA: All of us were in the back except for Taliesin.

TALIESIN: I think it was just me at this point.

MATT: There you go. That'll work, there. We’ll say you're in the cart there. Haphazardly.

TALIESIN: Yeah, because you guys can see this whole thing.

LAURA: Look at your little mini. Your mini's so pretty.

TALIESIN: Isn't he? Isn't he pretty?

TRAVIS: Yeah, we haven't seen Cadeceus yet.

SAM and LAURA: Whoa!

LAURA: Those things are huge!

MARISHA: Oh my god. Oh goodness!

MATT: And so this is the one that came around this end.

SAM: They really have two heads?

MATT: They literally have two heads.

TRAVIS: That's fucking awesome.

LIAM: That miniature is like the Garbage Pail Kid card that you get 97 of. It is the most frequent find in the box.

MARISHA: Ettins?

LIAM: Ettins. Got a lot of Ettins.

MATT: So this one, currently under the Calm Emotions, which you're concentrating on. The other one is yelling at it (monster yelling), pointing at you, and the other guy is like (confused monster yelling).

TALIESIN: I can understand this, too, and I'm going to chime in a bit. I think it's really unfair you're just putting this all on him. I think you really-- you've got to chill out a bit. I mean, you seem like a nice guy. You're really listening to this? God. I'm also, still very gently, still moving forward.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: You guys have got issues, man.

MATT: Pushing slowly forward. Trotting along that way. This guy comes out and begins arguing loudly with the other as he comes forward, too, shouting at him, and they're both yelling over both of you now.

MARISHA: Oh my god. Just keep this going.

TALIESIN: Language! Come on!

MATT: "You shut up! You no hun-- you speak... same?"

TALIESIN: Yeah, man. Who doesn't speak Giant? That's just rude.

MATT: And the one who you didn't cast it on is like, "You so dumb! You two not listen! Ruin this!"

TALIESIN: I don't think you're dumb. And I'm just still going. (giggles)

MATT: You push ahead a little bit further.

TRAVIS: Oh, god.

LIAM: In the meantime, I pull out a white feather, and I trace a triangle in the air, and I cast Fear on this one.

TALIESIN: Bless you.

MATT: And what's the saving throw on that one?

LIAM: 16.

MATT: That is a natural 13. And what’s the wisdom save?

LIAM: 13 is the DC.

MATT: It's a Wisdom save, you said? Yeah, that's a failure. So that one--

TRAVIS: What. The fuck.

TALIESIN: Wizards, man!

MATT: --goes from arguing and goes like, "Well, fine! You won't finish this, we do it ourselves." And they reach over and grab this large boulder and begin to pick it up, and at that point, Caleb finishes his incantation, and they go (boulder crashing noise), drop it, (monster screaming) and just start running the opposite direction as the cart begins to slowly roll forward.

LAURA: This is great!

MATT: Begins charging off this way.

TRAVIS: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: Stay all right, my friend. You stay all right.

LIAM: I tap Nott on the shoulder--

TALIESIN: Don't let anybody tell you what you can't do.

LIAM: Those two just saw their *worst fears*.

SAM: Wow! That was incredible.

MATT: This guy just turns around and begins to like-- waves back to you and heads around that direction.

TALIESIN: It's not a concentration, by the way.

MATT: Calm Emotions is.

TALIESIN: Calm Emotions for me is not. Doesn't-- is not a concentration. No. Yes, it is! You're right, never mind. I don't know how to read spells yet.

MATT: That's okay. It also only lasts a minute.

TALIESIN: Yeah. So, you know, we've been rolling.

MATT: So these guys both run off the side there--

TALIESIN: Yeah, we're going. And now I'm booking.

MARISHA and TRAVIS: Wow.

TALIESIN: Boom, motherfuckers!

MARISHA: Awesome. Fucking awesome.

MATT: So, as you guys continue running--

LIAM: It's so beautiful.

MARISHA: We used it. Kind of.

LIAM: Wait, now he can spin it around and it's a different part of the canyon entirely.

LAURA: Cool.

TALIESIN: And you have to turn the little marquee again.

LIAM: 100 feet later.

LAURA: He already did it. He already did it.

SAM: And now we're in a totally different place.

LIAM: This is like old animation where it just repeats and repeats and repeats.

MATT: Kind of, yeah. So, as you guys continue pressing forward on this path--

SAM and LAURA: Oh no!

MATT: The rocks destroy you!

MARISHA: There's a rock slide, you guys.

LIAM: The Ettins are throwing boulders at us. Go, go, go!

SAM: Caduceus, that was amazing!

TALIESIN: We’d better run.

SAM: And Caleb, even better.

MATT: So the horses, moving forward, at a--

TALIESIN: I tell the horses, we're going *fast*.

MATT: All right, so make an animal handling check, because you're now going into a straight-- just go for it.

TALIESIN: Animal handling?

MATT: Yep.

TALIESIN: 21.

SAM: *Jesus*.

MATT: Without issue, you, horse speaker Caduceus Clay, give them the intent to go into a gallop and they begin picking up loudly, and you hear the kind of soft neighing as they begin galloping forward, the cart taking up speed. At which point, you hear a voice behind go, "Hey, wait a minute!"

TALIESIN: The jig is up!

MATT: And you see as the one with Calm Emotions begins charging forward. Is it a saving throw on Fear every turn?

LIAM: I assume it is, yeah. Yeah. Where did it go? Where did it go? This is my first time casting it.

MARISHA: One minute.

LIAM: If the creature ends its (mumbling)-- must take the dash action. If a creature--

SAM: (singing with the music)

LIAM: For the duration. It just says it becomes frightened for the duration.

LAURA: How long is the duration?

LIAM: One minute.

SAM: Doesn't say there's any saves?

MATT: It's concentration--

LIAM: I'm looking. Where is it? Do you see it?

MARISHA: No, if a creature ends its turn in a location where it doesn't have a direct line of sight on you--

LIAM: Oh, if it doesn't have line of sight on me, it makes a wisdom save.

MATT: Right. So it fails the first one. Succeeds on the second one. So it'll be three rounds in, it gains it back, which is just about the time it would take for the Calm Emotions to fade at this point. So, at this point, as you guys are running forward, at a double-speed here, moving forward. Horse speed-- pulling the cart, though, it's only going to be about half of that actual horse speed here.

MARISHA: I'll go ahead and hop out and try and give the horses less weight to pull, and run alongside.

MATT: Okay. So Beau's now charging alongside there. The rest of you are pushing forward, kind of going in that realm, at which point this Ettin comes charging around the corner there, no longer affected by the Calm Emotions, and you can see the other one is rushing up behind, going, "You stupid! We're supposed to work together!" And the one to the left goes like, "I told you we shouldn't work with more than one!" And he's right off to the side here, beginning to give, so I need everyone to roll initiative now.

(groaning)

TALIESIN: There we go.

MATT: Oh, wow. And (sharp inhale) they're rolling good initiative on their end. All righty, so, 25 to 20?

SAM: 24.

MARISHA: 23.

LIAM: Noice, noice, noice.

MATT: 20 to 15?

TALIESIN & LIAM: 16.

MATT: All righty. And then we have--

MARISHA: Caduceus, then Caleb?

TRAVIS: Yep. Or either way.

MATT: All right. 15 to ten?

TRAVIS: Ten.

MATT: Oh no!

LIAM: (Jester voice) Jester, where did you land?

LAURA: I landed on six.

LIAM: Aww.

LAURA: It is a sad day.

MATT: Sorry, Jester. All right, so, Nott, you're up first. They're now like (heavy footfalls) running.

SAM: How far is the closest one?

MATT: They have a battleaxe in one hand that’s half made out of stone, with a giant piece of splintered tree wood that's been wrapped around it with rope. In the other hand, they have this giant club from another piece of what looked like a dried and dead tree that still has bits of root and chunks of rock jammed in the side of it, and they both (heavy footfalls), charging towards you. One head's looking at you and the other's just looking up at the air at a bird that flies overhead. It looks a little spooked (scared grunt). So what are you doing?

SAM: How far is the closest one?

MATT: The closest one to you, because you're technically in the back of the cart right here--

LAURA: Technically, you're in the back of the cart.

MATT: Yeah, he'd be about 35 feet from you.

SAM: (snarls) These fucking things.

TALIESIN: You can hold.

SAM: I know. Because I'm hidden from their view, right? As far as I know?

MATT: As far as you know, yeah. They don't know you're in the cart.

SAM: Hmm.

MATT: Fjord's in there as well.

SAM: Yeah, I guess I'll hold. I mean, otherwise I have to shoot at it at disadvantage. Eh! I'll take a shot at disadvantage. I'm hidden, though.

MATT: You are, so it doesn't know you're there, so you have advantage, so it's just a single roll.

SAM: D’oh! That's a ten.

MATT: Ten misses. It goes wide, out of the side, and the head that was watching the bird goes (growling) and peers closer to the cart with an untrusting eye, its chin tilted to the side. This is a terrible look now. You see these very bulbous faces that are a combination of muscle and fat pushing into the eye sockets. They have these tiny, beady giant eyes. You see these round-ish, pushed-in pug noses and this large gaping jaw, ogre-like with two big tusks that protrude from underneath. Long, scraggly dark beards that pour down the sides of their face and over the front of their chest, mingling with matted bits of chest hair over this tanned and sun-weathered flesh, uncovered, made of sheer muscle and anger. You can see each head has its own series of scars and weird personality and as they're running, they're still arguing with each other as they're in the process of getting to you. "We need to go from the side!" "No! Direct attack!" On this end, the other one goes like: "Budak, don't be stupid!" The other head's like: "But Budak's our friend." "Shut up!" That the end of your turn, Nott?

SAM: I can bonus action fire again, or I can get off this cart of death that they're going to be swinging at pretty soon. I'll just shoot again. Oh boy. 17.

LAURA: That's good.

MATT: 17?

LAURA: They're big.

MATT: That hits the guy over here, yes.

SAM: Sneak attack or no?

MATT: Yeah, he still hasn't quite seen you.

SAM: Oh, that's great!

MATT: It shot out there, but he's not quite sure what's going on. They're not very intelligent creatures, you get the idea.

LAURA: Ooh. Not bad.

SAM: I'll use Fury of the Small. So that's 25.

MATT: 25 points of damage. Nice. As they're running, the bolt lets loose and goes right into the lower jaw of the one on the left, the one that was being referred to as Bodak.

SAM: Bodak.

MATT: Budak.

SAM: Budak.

MATT: As it hits, goes (gargling) and starts reaching up with the hand that's holding the club to try and pull the bolt out while the other head goes: "Come on! Put your weight into it!" And just keeps charging forward. That end your turn, Nott?

SAM: Yep.

MATT: All right. Beau, you're up.

MARISHA: Are the horses still going to move on Caduceus' turn?

MATT: The horses move at initiative count 20.

MARISHA: Oh.

MATT: Just for ease of maintaining it.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Which is right after Caleb and Caduceus I believe, right? What did you roll for initiative?

TALIESIN: 17?

MATT: 17. So it's right above you. It's before you guys.

TALIESIN: Or 16. Was it 16?

LAURA: You guys rolled 16, yeah.

MATT: So it's before Caleb, sorry. So after your turn the horses will move, Beau.

MARISHA: Fuck. What do I do?

MATT: What do you do?

MARISHA: Well, I can get to one of them for sure. I can get to that one, but can I get to that one over there?

MATT: Possibly.

MARISHA: 45 feet.

MATT: Your movement's 45 feet?

MARISHA: 45.

MATT: Yeah, you can definitely get to this guy.

SAM: And you're on your own.

TALIESIN: You're on your own. And we're moving at speed.

MARISHA: Okay, so we are moving.

MATT: The cart's moving regardless. What are you doing?

MARISHA: I'm going to go right in the middle in between them, behind the cart.

MATT: Right here?

MARISHA: No, back. Yeah. Back a little more, towards you.

MATT: Oh. There?

MARISHA: Yeah. Then I'm going to take the dodge action.

MATT: Patient Defense or dodge action.

MARISHA: I'm going to take the dodge action. Can I hold my attack if I take the dodge action?

MATT: No. It's holding your action, holding would be doing that and bonus action--

MARISHA: Patient Defense? Can I do that?

MATT: You can do that.

MARISHA: I do that.

MATT: All right, bonus action, Patient Defense.

MARISHA: I'm going to hold my action as soon as one of them is close enough to hit.

MATT: Okay, so you're readying an attack for when one of them gets close enough to hit.

MARISHA: Correct.

MATT: You got it. All right, that ends Beau's turn. The horses now move.

LAURA: Oh no, Beau!

MARISHA: It's okay.

SAM: We'll be back in a few hours.

MARISHA: You guys go. Keep going, keep going.

TRAVIS: She's got Flintstone feet.

MATT: All righty. That brings us to Caleb.

LIAM: How far away-- oh boy!

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: That change things.

MATT: It does.

LIAM: Caleb is going to jump out of the back of the cart.

SAM: Oh no. Caleb, no!

TRAVIS: (singing) That's one way to die.

MATT: Has its own narrative with the death of the minis.

LIAM: I'm going to move to here.

MATT: All righty.

LIAM: And as I'm moving forward, I'm pulling out a pinch of iron powder. And I let go of it, and pull my fingers apart, and Beau again becomes Swoleregard.

MATT: Oh snap!

LIAM: And I will use the rest of my movement, I think it's five or ten feet more, then to back away towards the cart once I've done it.

MATT: Where's the mini?

MARISHA: Where's big Beau?

LIAM: Don't let them down.

MATT: I painted it, but I'm trying to remember, with the move, where I put it.

LIAM: That's why I did this, so I could see the big mini, Matt.

MATT: I know! I'm so angry.

TALIESIN: Is this the same day as we disguised ourselves, or have we had a sleep?

MATT: It's been a couple hours.

LAURA: Since we got the jewels? Oh, okay. Just making sure that-- okay.

MATT: Oh yeah, from the jewels? Yeah, it's been a few days from that.

LAURA: It's been days?

TALIESIN: From the jewels? Okay, so yeah, you're fine.

MARISHA: If anyone in production wants to look for big Beau minis?

TRAVIS: Yeah, good luck.

MATT: Fuck, this would be the time to unveil it, but nevertheless, here we are with the chaos of the past few weeks of having-- next time! There's big Beau, taking up all that space. All right, and for the remainder of your movement, Caleb?

LIAM: Backing up towards the cart, jogging backwards.

MATT: You can get up against the cart, but not into it.

LIAM: Yep, doing that backward jog.

MATT: That ends your go. Caduceus.

TALIESIN: I'm trying to figure out that thing that I can do where I can make someone vulnerable to terrible things.

MATT: Oh, that's your Channel Divinity.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm trying to find it. Ah, Path of the Grave.

MATT: Yes. What's the range on it?

TALIESIN: I'm too far away. It's 30 feet.

MATT: Yeah, you'd have to get closer.

TALIESIN: All right, so I can't quite do that yet. That's really frustrating. So I'm just going to do what I can do from this distance, which is Sacred Flame, I suppose.

MATT: Okay, against which one?

TALIESIN: I always take the left.

MATT: All right, left one over here, you mean?

TALIESIN: No, on my left. That one, yeah.

MATT: All right, that is a natural 19 wisdom save.

TALIESIN: Dex save.

MATT: Dex save? Oh, that's a 18. Still makes it, though. So no effect, unfortunately. It sees it coming and ducks out of the way, and the burst of divine energy explodes in the middle of the air, to no effect. That's your action.

TALIESIN: That's my action. Yeah, that's all I got.

MATT: Okay. It's now their turn. The two ettins rolled a 15 and a 14 initiative. This one here is going to go ahead and just run past. It's going to go over on this end, that’s (counting).

LIAM: For fuck’s sake!

MARISHA: God damn it.

MATT: 40 and then dash. (counting)

MARISHA: You're amazing! I knew that production would find it! Max is the best.

(cheering)

MATT: So much better.

TRAVIS: Optimus Prime.

MATT: I love it. Now that's Swoleregard right there! I worked so hard to paint it, and then it never came up, and the moment it did, I was so sad. Thank you, Max!

TRAVIS and MARISHA: Mighty Nein, roll out!

MATT: This guy is going to go ahead and just go back and forth on this. That one over there makes no action, but it's coming right up to the cart and it has both of its weapons out. All right.

MARISHA: I can attack as soon as he comes up to me?

MATT: Yes you can. You get two attacks.

MARISHA: Well, that's balls. Ten.

MATT: Ten does not hit. Ducks out of the way.

LIAM: Thanks, Gil. Fuck you, Gil!

MATT: What was that?

MARISHA: It was an 11.

MATT: Okay, so now you do actually make impact, and your fist hits the stomach, and it hits what feels like solid stone with a layer of blubber as you watch it kind of ripple around the tummy. One head goes, (snarling) and the other goes (chuckling), and they both focus on you.

MARISHA: You need to work out.

MATT: And then both heads go, "Hmm?", and look momentarily insecure, before they go, "No, we don't!" and they're going to take two strikes at you with disadvantage because of your Patient Defense.

TRAVIS: They can't see us, right?

SAM: But they can still hit.

MATT: That is a 15 to hit, which does not hit your AC. The other strike does not hit; that's a 14 to hit. So you just deflect them out of the way. "Stop moving lady, bigger lady," is what you hear, while you hear, (gibberish). That ends their go. Fjord, you're up.

TRAVIS: Oh my god! Oh Jesus, okay.

MATT: It's like right above you. You look up on it-- it doesn't see you. It hasn't focused on anyone in the cart.

TRAVIS: So we're all doing the (sharp inhale).

MATT: Yeah. And it's looking right down at Caleb. One head’s looking at Caleb and the other one's looking at Caduceus, and both weapons are raising up, one for each of them. What are you doing?

TRAVIS: What do I do? I'm going to take two swings with the Summer Dance falchion at that guy right next to us. That does not-- that's a 13?

MATT: 13 hits. They're big. They don't have a lot of armor.

TRAVIS: That's great. And 16.

MATT: Both hit, go ahead and roll damage.

SAM and MARISHA: Yeah, Summer Dance!

TRAVIS: So that's nine points of damage on the first.

SAM: (singing) Everybody summer dance now!

TRAVIS: And that's five points of damage on the second, so 13 total.

MATT: 13 total.

TRAVIS: And with my bonus action, can I cast Hex Blade's Curse at the guy standing right next to us?

MATT: Yes, you may. So as you reach out (slashing sound), the blade emerging out of the weird illusion, and you can see him look confused. Leans forward, and the head peaks past the point of illusion to see all of you in the cart.

(yelling)

MATT: As its head, which is the size of your body, leans forward and grins, the horrible stench of its terrible breath pouring, you instinctually let loose the curse, and you watch as the shadows leap up into its face. And it backs up a bit, and the shadows now have coalesced around the corners of its jaw and the inside of its muscular and flabby torso. The curse has taken a hold.

TRAVIS: Can I turn and say: save the cart, scatter!

(laughing)

MATT: Sure, that ends your turn, Fjord. Jester, you're up.

LAURA: Ah, that's me! Okay. I'm going to cast Spiritual Weapon as a bonus action.

MATT: All righty. Where are you putting it?

LAURA: Right above his head so I can smack him.

MATT: There's another Critter-made gift here.

LAURA: Yay! Look at that cutie. Look, it's going to smack him on the butt.

LIAM: What was it?

MATT: It's another of the floating lollipop. Go ahead and make an attack with it.

LAURA: 24.

MATT: That hits! Go ahead and roll your damage on that.

LAURA: That's just a one, so that's five.

MATT: Five points of damage with the Spiritual Weapon. (smacks) on the back of the shoulders, and you still have your action to do a cantrip.

LAURA: I'm going to run forward and touch him and cast Inflict Wounds.

MATT: That's two spells in the same round.

LAURA: Just kidding!

MATT: You can do a cantrip.

LAURA: I'm going to cantrip him. Damn it. I'm going to cast Toll the Dead.

MATT: Okay, that's a-- what save?

LAURA: That's a-- let me click on it and find out. Wisdom.

MATT: Wisdom. That is a nine. He does not succeed, so go ahead and roll damage on that.

LAURA: Yeah, 2d12! That doesn't count because it jumped out.

TALIESIN: That's a shame, it was a good roll.

LAURA: That's a shame, I know. Woo! Two nines, 18 points of damage!

MATT: 18 points of damage! So after getting slammed in the back of the head on the left side--

LAURA: One bell for each head.

MATT: They both (groan), and you watch as dark brackish blood pour out of the ears of each head as they rear back from the impact. That end your turn?

LAURA: And then I jump out of the cart and run towards the horses. On the opposite side.

MATT: So Jester leaves the cart and then join the horses there?

LAURA: Yeah, I got to run past the horses, because I know they're going to catch up with me.

MATT: (counting) So you're now-- you might want to be there. So you’re not going to be trampled by them. I know. That ends your turn. Back up to the top of the round. Nott, you're up.

SAM: Me again!

MATT: Beau, you're on deck.

SAM: Oh, but I'm not hidden anymore?

MATT: No, he just looked in and saw you. Even though you’re hidden in the illusion, it's aware of your presence and your basic location.

LAURA: But Fjord's right next to him.

SAM: Oh, that's true. Fjord's engaged.

MATT: Fjord is engaged. Technically, so are you.

SAM: Then I will-- sneak attack still? Yes, no, maybe?

MATT: If you manage to hit.

SAM: Oh, yes.

MATT: You don't suffer ranged in melee.

SAM: Then I will shootsky. Yeah, so that's 20 something.

MATT: Yeah, that hits. That hits.

SAM: Okay. Wow, good roll. 21.

MATT: 21 to hit or 21 damage?

SAM: 21 damage.

MATT: Yeah, that does it. All right, cool. As it's pulled back, the impact of the bells, it's almost reaching up instinctually, though it's holding weapons, it can't really plug its ears, so it kind of uninstinctually bashes into each head a little with its own fist. And as it pulls back, you see that one little exposed bit of the throat on the one on the right, and you release it and it (gasps), that horrible sucking sound as it's jammed into its trachea. It's (gasping for air), and the other head's like, (gibberish) which you hear as, "Stop complaining." So that's your action.

SAM: Great. I will use Disengage and hop off the cart and try to run up next to Jester. You're on your own, Fjord!

TRAVIS: Fuck!

SAM: You said scatter!

TRAVIS: I did!

MATT: That ends your turn?

SAM: Yep.

MATT: Beau, you're up.

MARISHA: Okay, I'm going to take--

MATT: Caleb, you're on deck.

MARISHA: Grab my hands behind this guys head, and just give him a full knee-- right thigh/knee, head right into the knee.

MATT: Go for it. Roll first attack.

MARISHA: 17.

MATT: 17 hits.

MARISHA: Okay, I'm going to do Stunning Strike.

MATT: All righty.

MARISHA: Eight damage.

MATT: Eight points of damage, and it's a constitution saving throw?

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: That is an eight, he does not succeed. He is stunned. You can grab one head and then with the other head grab the other, and pull them down, like slapping two heads together in The Three Stooges thing, but into your *knee*. They both (groaning) and one of them like drops the club on one side and its hand reaches up to try and grab the face and it's just all sorts of discombobulated. So continue your round. You have advantage on your attacks now.

MARISHA: I am now going to--

MATT: Don't forget to roll your extra d4 for damage, because you're big.

MARISHA: Oh, that's right. Thanks, Caleb. Extra one point.

MATT: Nine, better than eight. All right.

TRAVIS: In most countries.

MARISHA: I am now going to attempt to, with that knee, give a full front kick and try and knock him prone.

MATT: Okay.

MARISH: That's an athletics check, right?

MATT: Yes, so you're using an action to try and shove?

MARISHA: Yeah, because I have advantage on athletics checks.

TRAVIS: Oh shit, you fucking--

MARISHA: Okay, 17 again.

MATT: Natural two!

MARISHA: No wait, sorry. 16, but that's okay.

MATT: Natural two. Even then, he's stunned, so he would have-- it doesn't say anything about athletics or trying to escape it. Yeah, it doesn't matter. He's down. So you trip the legs out from under him with like a low sweep and a shove, (crash) onto the ground, weapons clattering to the middle of the ravine to each side of it.

MARISHA: I'm going to turn and I'm going to run, full sprint, towards that guy. My 45 speed.

MATT: (counting) 45, you get right there.

MARISHA: Bonus action, Flurry of Blows.

MATT: Go for it.

TRAVIS and MARISHA: Flurry of Blows.

MATT: So glad we got to use big Beau.

TRAVIS: She is, man!

MARISHA: Big Beau, big Beau. Okay, first attack. Natural 18.

MATT: Yeah, that'll hit.

MARISHA: Second attack, I'm just going to do both of them. Natural one. So I'll take that natural 18, which is three plus another three, six plus four, so nine damage.

MATT and LAURA: Six plus four is ten.

MARISHA: Ten damage.

MATT: There you go.

MARISHA: It's okay.

TALIESIN: I know, we are so done.

MARISHA: We're so baked.

MATT: So as you rush up, the first one slams against the jaw of the left head, like slow-mo jaw spinning. The other one, you go to strike the other head and this one, the actual hand that's holding the battleaxe, drops the battleaxe to catch your large fist in its hand, and lean over. So one head is pulled back, and another head peeks around the other head goin--

MARISHA: With a Flurry of Blows, can I also try and make that a Stunning Strike? Can I double down?

MATT: There's nothing that says you can't. You would have to spend more ki points to try, though.

MARISHA: Yeah, I'm going to try and stun them with that first one.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Can I do that, or is it too far beyond?

MATT: You can, but you weren't aware of it. So we can try.

MARISHA: I'm okay, if it's to late.

MATT: That is a 19. That's a natural 16 plus three. It has a pretty good constitution modifier. So it does resist the Stunning Strike, but good try. That ends Beau's go. Caleb, you're up and then Caduceus.

LIAM: I don't know if this is going to hit me, but I'm going to risk going this way away from it up onto the gray stone.

MATT: This way over here?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: All right, it is not stunned, it does get a reaction. So as you're pulling back, it swings high with its club as it's currently dropped the battleaxe. That's going to be a natural 15 plus eight. That is a 23 to hit.

LIAM: I'll take it.

MATT: All right.

SAM: Caleb, no!

LAURA: Caduceus, you have to heal him!

MATT: 19 points of piercing damage, as this club swings over with its jagged rocks and bits of stone and root.

MARISHA: What, you're going to throw it at him?

MATT: No, he's swung back and--

LIAM: Ten feet of reach, probably.

MARISHA: I get my Sentinel attack, right?

MATT: You do, yes.

MARISHA: It hits. It's a natural 15.

MATT: Yeah, monks with Sentinel. They're nasty.

MARISHA: Two plus four, plus my extra four. That's six plus three is nine.

MATT: Nine points of damage, nice. With this one, you crack again. The hit slams into Caleb's back, sending him flying and shoulder-rolling, sliding onto the ground and barely getting back up, knocked a bit for a loop from the impact. You don't notice that; as you see the swing hit Caleb, instinctually, you slam your elbow right into the ribcage. You hear multiple cracks as you get a good solid six or seven inches into the torso with your elbow as you shatter parts of the ribcage there. (groaning) This guy's looking pretty rough.

SAM: Oh boy.

MARISHA: Fuck, okay.

LIAM: But I'm not done, so, pushing myself up and trying to focus on the one on the ground and seeing double, hand on the glove, tighten it, and I'm going to release three rays from it and-- hit the mic first-- and then hit the ettin on the ground. Is that at advantage because he's down?

MATT: No, it's at disadvantage because he's prone.

LIAM: I'm going to do it anyway. First one is ten, doesn't hit.

MATT: Ten misses.

LIAM: Second one is a 20.

MATT: That hits.

LIAM: Yeah. Third one is 19.

MATT: Two hit. Go ahead and roll 4d6.

LIAM: Ugh! I made six, six, one, one. So 14 points of damage.

MATT: 14 points of fire damage. As one of them fires off to the side and hits a stone (crackling), sending bits of rock and dust off to the side, the two other ones slam into the sides of the ettin who's currently trying to find its way up, but it has no ability to move its muscles, its body still tense from the Stunning Strike, which actually would have given him advantage on the attack because he's stunned.

MARISHA: So it would have evened out.

MATT: Yeah, I forgot that, so roll one more roll for the first one.

LIAM: It's a two.

MATT: First one still misses. There you go. As the flames burn and begin to ignite elements, or at least singe bits of the furs and leathers that wrap around its midsection, it's still desperately trying to get back to its feet. That ends your go. Caduceus, you're up.

TALIESIN: First thing I'm going to do is I'm going to tap my staff and say, "Time to get out, children." I'm going to bring a little nest of creatures right on the back of his business right there.

LAURA: Like onto his wenis?

TALIESIN: Well, they get everywhere. It's a swarm.

SAM: You were in jail when this happened last time.

MATT: Caduceus, from the back of the cart, riding it, slams his staff into the top of the cart and beetles begin to swarm out of the staff-- they've been living on the inside-- and then (fluttering, buzzing) scooting over and begin swarming and biting and attacking the side of the ettin as it's currently being consumed by the shadow and everything around it. Go ahead and roll an attack for the--

TALIESIN: What is the attack for that, by the way? I think I might have that here, hold on, where is it?

MATT: Should be in the staff.

TALIESIN: It's been acting a little weird. It doesn't give me the attack stuff for it, because it's not linked to it properly.

LAURA: Oh, weird. Yeah, it's blanks.

MATT: That's unfortunate. Here, I'll find it.

TALIESIN: Thank you, sorry.

MATT: Swarm of Beetles. Go ahead and roll a bite attack. It's a d20 plus three.

TALIESIN: Ten.

MATT: Ten total? That misses. The beetles are climbing up the side of its body, but they're unable to penetrate the thick, giantkin skin. It doesn't seem to mind so much as they haven't been able to get into any sort of sensitive tissue, but you can see this dark cluster, as the beetles are beginning to form up the right side of its body.

SAM: It's the British Invasion.

TALIESIN: I'm going to need a little bit more. I turn to one of the beetles and, "Make him feel this," and have the beetle bite me and then swarms and attacks him. I'm casting Bane.

MATT: Oh! All righty.

LAURA: The beetle bit you?

TALIESIN: Yeah, because the beetle brings my blood. I have to spill blood for this.

LIAM: (Bane voice) Oh, sorry, giantkin.

MATT: So the three creatures in range, 30 feet, yeah, it's only going to hit the one guy.

TALIESIN: It only can hit the one.

MATT: Charisma saving throw. Natural 19 minus one.

TALIESIN: Fucker!

MATT: I know! I'm sorry. It succeeds.

LAURA: But hey, you saw a lot of things.

MATT: You did. Oh, you avoided this, this ambush could have been a lot more harrowing.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah, we're doing good.

MATT: They were going to do some actual carnage.

TALIESIN: That's okay, I'm just going to spend a spell slot.

MATT: That ends your turn, Caduceus?

TALIESIN: That's what I got.

MATT: Now it's their-- oh, actually, and the horses are trying to push forward.

SAM: Oh no! Jester got run over!

LAURA: Oh no!

LIAM: (singing) Jester got run over by a reindeer.

TALIESIN: The horses know who our friends are.

MATT: All right. This guy is no longer stunned. Oh no-- he's stunned until the end of your turn. I remember that. So he's still stunned; he can't do anything.

LAURA: I thought he was dead!

MATT: No, he's just on the ground, stunned, prone, and like (groans).

SAM: He's much less damaged than the other guy.

MATT: The other guy is going to go ahead and move--

TALISIN: I don't suppose the other swarms get an attack of opportunity?

MATT: No, they do not. He's going to move forward.

MARISHA: So I’m going to buy an extra reaction, for Sentinel.

MATT: So you're going to use a ki point to buy an extra reaction. Make an attack.

MARISHA: Keep this motherfucker from going.

MATT: That's one of the abilities of the class, yeah.

LIAM: That is amazing.

MARISHA: 15. No, 16.

MATT: 16 hits, go ahead and roll damage.

TALIESIN: So he doesn't get to move, does he?

MARISHA: No, he does not.

MATT: He doesn't get to move past the melee range. He gets caught there from the Sentinel feat. Sentinel and this class in particular is a really good synergy. Do you want to make a monk tank?

TALIESIN: From this position, you can clearly see how this one would reach.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Nine damage, and he doesn't get to move.

MATT: Nine damage. How do you want to do this?

(cheering)

LIAM: Yeah, he doesn't move!

MARISHA: As he's trying to run away, and since I'm big Beau, and I can do this, I just go: Oh, nope, no! And I stick my leg out, and trip him.

MATT: Onto the ground, both faces (crashing) into the stone and rock below you.

MARISHA: Yeah, that's it.

MATT: That's it?

(laughter)

MARISHA: I just want to Three Stooges trip him.

MATT: He hits, and he stops moving, and you're like, "Why is--? Like, how bad was it?" You kick the body over a little bit, with your large Beau form, pull it back, and there is a cluster of sharpened stones in the ground that both faces fell onto, and pierced into the skull. There's a trail of crimson coming out of the gap.

MARISHA: That was real convenient, guys. Did you see that?

LIAM: (deep voice) That was real convenient, guys.

MARISHA: (deep voice) That was deeper than for real.

SAM: Let's get the fuck out of here!

MATT: End of Beau's turn, that guy's no longer stunned. All right. That brings us to Fjord.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I just got done seeing the T-Rex above my head, and big-ass Fjord knock it down and kill it.

SAM: That wasn't Beau's turn, though.

MATT: Well no, Beau's reaction. That was the ettin's turn. One of them got unstunned, and the-- I'm sorry, it wasn't Beau's turn, so it's still stunned, actually. That's right.

MARISHA: It's still stunned, yeah.

TRAVIS: Happy to be out of death's doorway, I'm going to send two Eldritch Blasts towards the guy on the ground.

MATT: All right, go for it. That's just a straight roll.

TRAVIS: 22.

MATT: 22 hits.

TRAVIS: And 12.

MATT: 12 just hits.

TRAVIS: Just hits, great, okay. 1d10. That's seven and nine. So 16 points.

MATT: 16 points of damage. It's like (groans) and the other face is like (speaks Giant), which you recognize as being, "Suck it up."

(laughter)

MATT: Does that end your turn, Fjord?

TRAVIS: Yes, it does.

MATT: Fjord's staying inside. Jester, you're up.

LAURA: Oh man, okay. I'm going to send my Spiritual Weapon over. Does it get there? Probably not.

MATT: That's as close as it gets.

LAURA: That's fine.

MATT: It hit one guy, though.

LAURA: Am I within 120 feet of the guy that's down?

MATT: Yes, you are.

LAURA: Okay, then I'm going to cast Guiding Bolt at... 3rd-level, fuck it.

MATT: (laughs) All right. Go ahead and roll-- it’s a straight attack roll, thanks to him being stunned and prone, so they cancel out the advantage and disadvantage.

LAURA: Okay, Guiding Bolt. Hold on, I'm sorry, I can't tell what's happening.

MATT: That's okay.

LAURA: Guiding Bolt. Okay. Okay, that does hit, that's 19.

MATT: All right, roll some damage.

LAURA: 6d6!

MARISHA: Kill him. Kill him!

TRAVIS: Shit.

TALIESIN: Whoa. I love it when a line-up like that happens.

LAURA: That was only five, huh?

MATT: That was five, yeah.

LAURA: Okay. Six plus ten is 16, 23, plus one more... 24.

MATT: 24 points of damage. Nice. Jester pulls back, clutching the symbol of the Traveler around her neck--

LAURA: It's on my waist.

MATT: On your waist, sorry. You pull it up from the waist, and (gentle, high-pitched explosion) release the Guiding Bolt. As it shoots out as a singular beam, you watch as it swells with energy and intensity and slams into him. It actually pushes him back five feet.

(yelling)

MATT: There you can see, from the impact, the energy seems to expand and then contract to it, and you can now see the sparkles, as now Guiding Bolt gives advantage to the next attack against it.

TRAVIS: Oh, fuck.

MATT: And any movement?

LAURA: I'm going to hop back on the cart.

MATT: All right. Hop back up on the cart.

LAURA: Hey Fjord, did you see that?

TRAVIS: I saw it, Jester.

LAURA: That was pretty cool, huh?

TRAVIS: Yeah, that was pretty cool. Got a little pee in my pants right now.

MATT: Top of the round, Nott, you're up.

SAM: Me? Oh gods.

TALIESIN: I'm going to be stopping the carts.

SAM: You're going to be stopping the cart? With that thing?

TALIESIN: This guy's going to be trashed.

SAM: Oh no! All right, I'll--

MATT: He's big enough to still be in the battlefield.

SAM: Okay, well then, I'm going to run up to the dead body and hide behind it. Or in it.

MATT: There's not a corpse to hide into, but there's a wound that you can--

SAM: Then I'll hold my action until the other one starts moving towards us.

MATT: Okay, gotcha. That ends Nott's turn. Beau, you're up.

SAM: And bonus action hide back there.

MATT: Roll a stealth check.

SAM: Okay, 21.

MATT: Got it. Beau, your turn. Caleb, you're up next with Caduceus on deck.

MARISHA: You're holding your action until--

SAM: It moves towards us, within 30 feet, basically.

MARISHA: Within 30 feet-- I'm probably more than 45 feet away. I'd have to run up and-- I'm just going to, from here, take out one of my throwing darts and throw that.

MATT: What's the range on that?

MARISHA: 30 feet-- oh, I'm not within 30 feet, am I?

MATT: Yeah. Is that the minimum range? What's the full range?

MARISHA: I don't know. Darts--

MATT: It's not a very long range on them.

MARISHA: It's like 25 without-- it's fine. I'm just going to--

MATT: It's 20/60, so 60-foot long range.

MARISHA: With disadvantage?

MATT: With disadvantage. It's stunned, which is advantage, and it's prone, so it's disadvantage. But Guiding Bolt, so it's advantage. So it's just a regular roll.

MARISHA: No, I'm going to wait for Nott for that Guiding Bolt with advantage. I'm going to run towards the cart.

MATT: Okay. (thuds)

TRAVIS: Go away! Oh, hey Beau.

MARISHA: (deep voice) It's just me, guys.

SAM: Ah! It's another giant!

TRAVIS: She's so much bigger than she used to be!

MATT: Caleb, you're up.

LIAM: *Ja*, I'm going to back up five feet away, and as I do so, I'm going to pull some bat shit out of one pocket and some sulfur in the other and slap them together, and then stick my hands out and cast Fireball at it.

MATT: Oh shit! It's the first Fireball of the campaign!

TRAVIS: Yeah! Bat shit and sulfur.

MARISHA: Does that have advantage?

LIAM: It's a different kind. It's a dex save, but he's stunned, so I imagine he's not going to do too well. He's still prone.

MATT: Oh, that was the end of Beau's turn, you're right.

MARISHA: Yeah, so he gets to shake it off.

LIAM: But he's prone.

TRAVIS: Oof. Drop the fucking--

MARISHA: Kill him.

MATT: Yeah, that consumes him. He has disadvantage.

LIAM: Dex save.

MATT: No, prone doesn't give any changes to dexterity. That's a natural five minus one for his dex save.

LIAM: So, no. That is a no.

MATT: So 8d6 fire damage to him.

TRAVIS: (singing) I came in like a Fireball!

LIAM: It's a total of 16 fire damage.

MARISHA: Caleb, naked, riding the Fireball.

MATT: Caleb sends out this tiny bead of red energy, quietly streaks over, and then (boom) detonates, this loud explosion that rocks the center of the ravine. It echoes out through the mountainous area (explosion echoing). As the flames die down, you can see the ettin on the ground (groaning). Its outside is now charred and burnt. It looks very hurt.

MARISHA: It's still alive?

LIAM: Did I go five feet back from where I was?

MATT: You did.

LIAM: Okay, I feel very caffeinated right now.

MATT: I believe you did. That ends Caleb's go. Caduceus, you're up.

TALIESIN: Am I within 60 feet of the guy on the ground? The one that's far away.

MATT: Him? No, you are not. You are more than that away.

TALIESIN: There's no way I can get within 60 feet of him.

LAURA: You could get within 60 feet.

TALIESIN: I'm going to tell the horses to whoa.

TRAVIS: How do you do that?

MATT: No, he won't. Even at his full 30-foot movement, he'll be just beyond the 60-foot range.

TALIESIN: I'm going to tell the horses to whoa.

MATT: Okay. They slow down.

TALIESIN: I'm going to tell my beetles to keep munching on that guy who's on the ground.

MATT: They do. They begin to consume the eyes and the ears, and whatever immediately soft, available flesh is there, the beetles begin to dine on it.

TRAVIS: What the fuck?!

SAM: I hope they're in his junk!

TALIESIN: I'm going to hold my-- I'm so sorry, this is a new spell I'm learning. Stop, there we go. I'm going to hold Channel Divinity until the one on the ground's within 30 feet of me. I'm going to whoa the horses and hold Channel Divinity until there's a creature within 30 feet.

MATT: That ends your turn. It is now the ettin’s turn. The ettin (grunts).

TALIESIN: I'm also going to move to the front of the cart too, so I'm right there next to everybody.

MATT: Okay, so you've moved over to this position there.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: Where Jester is, at this little stone.

TALIESIN: We’re all-- Yeah.

MATT: The ettin gets up, and sees the beetles eating his ally. One head goes (laughing) the other goes (growling). Let's see. Nope! They go (grunting), pick up one weapon, pick up the other, and just bolt away. Just book it out of here. Self-preservation has kicked in.

LIAM: If no one does anything else, I will send another Fireball 150 feet.

MATT: It just starts running away. That is an 11 minus one, does not make its next dexterity save. It's running up the mountains and like (grunting), looking over its shoulder like, “Mmm. (laughing)!”

LIAM: 25 points of fire damage.

MATT: How do you want to do this?

LIAM: Because I have such an easy target at his back, I give a little bit of a curveball to it, and I make the fireball beam of red go (whirring) (explosion) and erupt about 15 feet back, and just burn the backside.

MATT: You watch as It laughs and laughs, and in the distance: (boom). And pieces go (whoosh).

(laughter)

MATT: Like one of those cartoons, like, (distant explosion, fwoosh). Yeah, the wind blows past you guys. Make a wisdom saving throw.

LIAM: Oh yeah, okay.

LAURA: Those fireworks rivaled Hupperdook's.

LIAM: Not great, but at least we're not under attack. A ten.

MATT: Ten. So as you're all like, "That was incredible," you look back and Caleb's still standing there, hands extended.

SAM: Oh, no.

LAURA: Caleb!

MARISHA: Beau goes over to Caleb--

LIAM: You’re still huge? Oh! Nope. Yeah, you’re huge.

MARISHA: I pick Caleb up, and throw him over my shoulder.

LIAM: Is Enlarge still in place if I'm out of it?

MATT: Yeah, you're still concentrating on the spell. Unless you choose otherwise.

TALIESIN: I'm going to cast Cure Wounds on Caleb as he's walking by in this state.

MARISHA: Nott, do you want to get on the other shoulder?

SAM: Yes.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Actually, hold on. Does stun break concentration? I imagine it would.

LIAM: I would think.

MATT: Yeah. So Beau, you go pick up Caleb. As you do, your form shrinks down.

MARISHA: Ugh! I’m fine!

MATT: But he's a wispy fellow, you (whump) over your shoulder; fireman's carry.

MARISHA: I was just going to pick up Nott!

TRAVIS: You can squat that.

MATT: You could probably still curl Nott while holding Caleb. You're pretty strong.

SAM: Why are you shaking so much, Beau?

MARISHA: (shakily) It’s all good.

TALIESIN: Also, I’m going to go over and cast Decompose on that one that’s-- See what pops out.

MATT: All right, you walk over and cast Decompose. The beetles have made rather quick work of all of the eyes and elements of softer flesh, and as you cast Decompose, the body softens a bit and the gaps in the back where the rigid structure had left air between itself and the ground come to close as the body sloughs a bit off of its tightened structure. You watch quickly as where it normally was very rocky terrain, bits of green begin to emerge: vines seem to slowly wrap up over parts of its dead form, and within bits of the wounds that you guys had left in it from your various hacks and attacks against its body, you see bits of reddish fungus begin to pop out and fill the various wounds. Nothing too intense, it begins the process.

TALIESIN: I'm going to take a handful and give it a smell. (sniff) Mmm. Look at that, he's useful now. That's good; that's so good.

LAURA: Blood fungus!

TALIESIN: Ah! I’m going to go get back on the cart.

SAM: Is there anything on the giant's body? Worthy of stealing?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: Oh man. Dig your fingers into it.

SAM: 24.

MATT: 24? You loot through his body.

LAURA: Ew!

MATT: You find eight gold pieces, 34 silver pieces, and half of an eaten goat that was dangling from the back of its belt.

SAM: I'll take that.

TALIESIN: Goat meat's great.

MATT: Well, it's great when it's fresh. You can smell the week of ripening that this half-goat has been through.

TALIESIN: There's a lot of medieval cooking that would want the meat to get a little gamy, I'm just saying. Sometimes it improves the flavor.

SAM: I flick off some of the beetles off of the goat meat. That's mine! Get off!

MATT: The beetles eventually recoil back into the staff. So you guys gather yourselves back up into the cart, keeping a very close eye on the rest of the walls of this gorge as you continue your journey. You push beyond this brief encounter. So it's about four and a half days of travel to Nicodranas.

SAM: From here?

MATT: From here.

SAM: Jesus, we're going halfway across the world!

MATT: You're traveling a long way, man.

LIAM: How long did it take for Caleb to come out of that?

MATT: It took about a minute.

LIAM: A minute. I should probably stop doing that.

MARISHA: (straining) Ugh. Can I set you down now?

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: I'm going to set you down now.

LIAM: Okay. Let's go catch the cart.

MATT: You guys rush up and hop into the cart, continuing your journey. For this next day or so, Caduceus, make a perception check for me, please.

LAURA: I'll help you.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

MATT: With advantage, with Jester's aid, yes.

TALIESIN: Let's try a new die. Oh, that's not bad. That's a 17. It'll do.

MATT: All righty. Keeping an eye out, you peruse the interior of the gorge for the remainder of its length. Eventually, the mountain gives way towards the end of your day's journey. You don't notice anything waiting in the wings on par with what you had seen before. There are some mountain wolves that wander down in a pack that notice your presence, but don't seem to bother. They tend to avoid the main road at this point. Eventually, you make your way past the dry, rocky plains just as the sun begins to set. You can see to the left of you, the Ashkeeper Peaks that continue to curl off to the horizon; the hills growing taller and more scattered across the plain in front of you to where you can't see beyond the first set. But the landscape seems to be dipping a bit beyond that, so each hill itself marks the horizon ahead of you for however long you have to travel. First night rest, as you were keeping watch, no major issue. As the morning comes to, you all begin to wake up to the sound of approaching hoofprints.

LIAM: A thought I had earlier; point of order-- the first time I did the hut, it was bright orange, but I've learned that I can control that, so through experimentation, I would say if we are ever in a field of grass, the hut would be the color, as close as Caleb can get it, to the grass. It wouldn't be mottled or anything, it would be still slightly abnormal because it would be one solid color. If we are in a stony area, I would try to match the gray. Just something I add to my routine.

MATT: Easy enough. As you guys come to and wake up, off the side of the main path, you glance over to the right, and you can see, from the sound of hoof prints, two carts, 30 or 40 feet off the side, heading up the road. At the front, you see a-- I wouldn't say cloaked, but hooded man with a head wrap that falls into a scarf over one shoulder, a long, gray-and-gold set of comfortable travel robes sat at the front, who's looking over in your direction. In the back of the cart, you see numerous sizes of metallic cages of some kind.

LAURA: Are there people in them?

MATT: Make a perception check.

SAM: It's a zoo. It's a traveling zoo.

LAURA: 19.

MATT: 19. No people. You do see a number of creatures; little animals.

SAM: It's a traveling zoo!

LAURA: What kind of creatures?

MARISHA: Maybe it's a petting zoo.

MATT: At this distance, you can see a number of small, feathered, winged creatures on perches on the inside of one cage. You can see on the back cart-- just from this distance, you can't make out too much from this, but you can see two small, furred creatures that are both circling each other in the cage in the back.

TRAVIS: Let's go take a look.

MARISHA: Is he stopped, or is he moving?

MATT: He's moving. Just glancing over, and noticing this weird, green dome off to the side.

TRAVIS: Call to him.

MARISHA: Good day!

MATT: Do you emerge from the dome?

MARISHA: Mm-hmm. Morning!

MATT: "Good morning."

LAURA: Do you have animals in there?

MATT: "Yes?"

LAURA: Did you-- Are they nice?

MATT: "They are very nice, they are very young, and they are ripe for finding someone who would wish to give them the attention and training they deserve."

LAURA: (gasp) Wait, wait, wait! Can we pet them?

MATT: "No, but you may look to purchase if you're interested."

LAURA: Okay! I run over.

TRAVIS: Look to purchase, Jester! Just look!

TALIESIN: I got to see this, I'm getting up.

MARISHA: I go over as well.

MATT: You all begin to walk over. As you all begin to approach, he's like, "Whoa," pulls on the reins, and the horses come to a stop. You look, and it's one man. This gentleman as you approach, he's heavier-set, with very tan, sun-weathered skin, the folds of his neck just barely peering past the wrap over his neck, but he seems relatively positive and jolly when you approach. He's got this smile, and his eyes are very welcoming. There are two other figures that are walking alongside the cart that appear to be keepers that are just keeping an eye on the creatures. You can see there are a number of small bags and things that contain food and general means of keeping these animals. And as you approach and look, these animals are kept in fairly good conditions; they’re not-- they don't look abused or anything, they're just being brought. He, as they’re stopping the horses, steps off, pulls back the wrap from his head, and it's a smooth, bald head with a little bit of stubble coming in around the sides. You can see he's mostly gone bald on the top. He smiles. "Well, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I am Kestiff Drudy. I am a handler of creatures of fantastical possible talent, and we travel along these routes to find homes for these majestic creatures. If you are looking to purchase, we can give you a quick view of our wares."

LIAM: Did you say Drudy?

MATT: "Kestiff Drudy."

TALIESIN: I am so excited for a show.

LIAM: By the way, Caleb has stayed behind. He has no interest; he is keeping the hut up and petting his own cat and watching.

SAM: I’m going to, I guess, stay far, far back. Just watching from a hidden position.

TRAVIS: Kestiff, where are you coming from and where are you heading?

MATT: "Oh, well, I had previously been traveling from Port Damali and making our way from port town to port town. We had just left from Nicrodranas and are making our way upwards, hopefully to Rexxentrum, with the various creatures we have."

LAURA: Ooh. You might not want to go that way. There's a lot of guards blocking the entrance into the empire.

MATT: "Why would they block it?"

LAURA: There's a war going on, didn't you know?

MATT: "I heard about that, but do they not want commerce?"

TALIESIN: Well, you're going to probably get rustled a bit, but I'm sure they'll let you in eventually.

MATT: "We are carrying nothing illegal. We have been very particular to make sure the creatures we bring across are within the legalities of the empire. Should not be a problem, but appreciate the warning."

LAURA: What kind of animals do you have? I want one.

MATT: "Well!" and giving a display, the two other helpers begin opening one cage in the far back, and you can see the two creatures they pull on the side as they walk over with two very young tiger cubs.

MARISHA, LAURA and SAM: (gasp)

MATT: Orange and white with black stripes across their back. "These are twin cubs. The last of their litter to be given birth to, naught but about six weeks before."

MARISHA: (whispering) Jester, look! Twin cubs!

LIAM: Twin cups! (clinks)

MATT: "If you would like to make a home for either of these, they are 70 gold apiece. Or, if you want to buy them as a pair, merely 120 gold."

SAM: One girl, two cubs!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: That face. That face! Oh, that face! Look at that face! Sweet tiger cubs, into that.

LIAM: Sam, would you like an animal companion?

LAURA: Well, I should probably hold them to see if they will like me or not.

MATT: "But of course. Here." Takes one cub and hands it to you. And they look like they had woken up not long before, and they're like (tiny growling). Big paws that are kind of oversized for their physicality. Hands the other one over to you, and as he hands the other one over, this one is kind of climbing up your shoulder, gets a little rambunctious and is across the back and shoulder area.

MARISHA: They're so cute on you!

LAURA: I mean, should we have some tigers?

SAM: (laughing) “Should we have some--”

MATT: "They look very happy with you, I’m not going to lie."

LAURA: I am really happy with them!

TALIESIN: Perhaps there is something else.

LIAM: Caleb is very judgmentally petting his cat's head.

LAURA: What else do you have, though?

MATT: “We have Jamyela, who is in need of a home and some care.” And he points over to another cage, and you can see an older baboon. You can see the orangish-red fur fading to gray. It looks older. You can see the drooping skin. It has one arm up, holding onto a branch in the cage, and looks over and it’s like--

LAURA: Is he nice?

MATT: (raspberry)

(laughter)

MATT: He goes, "Well, she is... unique. Maybe a bit of a big personality, but overall, very useful and--"

MARISHA: This is his way of saying she sucks.

LAURA: How much is she, though?

MATT: "45 gold for her."

LAURA: Well, I could probably get all three. What else do you have?

MATT: "We have," and he turns--

TALIESIN: Hit her with a Sleep spell.

MATT: And you can see two of the helpers have gone into one of the larger cages and pulled out these leather cords they keep wrapped around a finger with these little loops that are affixed to the legs of these three smaller, kind of parrot-like birds. "This is a blue dollop," and sets it over onto the edge there.

LAURA: Oh, put it on my horn!

MATT: On the horn. "This is a purple-feathered joppie," and hands it over to you. "This is a yellow-white kurat," and the third bird is placed over onto your other hand. "These run about 20-- No, these are 15 gold pieces apiece for these birds."

MARISHA: That's like nothing, really.

LIAM: Beau's hard shell drops.

LAURA: I mean, they're basically free.

MARISHA: I mean, yeah.

MATT: He takes the cubs from you and puts them back in the cage. "We also have--" and points over to an owl--

MARISHA: Oh my god, he's got more!

MATT: You see an owl, a large owl in one of the far back cages that is kind of like curled up. You can see in the daylight, it's now hitting the end of its conscious cycle. The head (ratchets) and just stays in the cage. "The owl is 20 gold pieces." You hear this (sharp call) from the back cage, and you can see this vibrant green peacock that is in one of the further back carts.

TRAVIS: That's a fucking good peacock sound!

MATT: Thank you.

TRAVIS: That's what they sound like!

LIAM: Taliesin! Taliesin, this one's for you.

MATT: You see it kind of sitting in the cage--

TALIESIN: They're bastards, those birds.

MATT: Yeah, they're dicks. It's sitting there in the cage. "The peacock will run you 40 gold pieces to purchase. We have, in that cage over there--" And you see this long branch twisted up the side. "Eh, he's not awa-- Come on, show yourself." He takes a little stick out of the side and pokes the log. You see (scramble) up on the log, this tiny, crimson-colored weasel: this long weasel-creature. "This is a crimson weasel."

TALIESIN: You can make him a little mask and then he'd be *the* Crimson Weasel.

MATT: "This is 20 gold pieces for the crimson weasel--"

LAURA: Wait, I need to hold the weasel. I'm thinking about buying the weasel.

MATT: They go ahead and take the bird off of your horn and begin to retrieve the other birds off of Beau and take them back to the cage.

MARISHA: Can I trade you these two birds for that owl? Can I hold the owl?

MATT: He goes over and opens the owl cage, gets a heavy leather glove on--

LAURA: I feel like I'm really holding these animals.

MARISHA: I know!

MATT: Gets a heavy leather glove on, and then reaches in to get the owl, and it takes about three or four minutes to eventually nudge it to get onto the arm, and the owl is just fucking not having any of it, and is like, “(growl) No.”

LAURA: Wait, if you buy the owl and I buy a weasel, is your owl going to eat my weasel?

MARISHA: Will the owl eat the weasels?

MATT: "There is a reason we keep them in separate cages, yes."

MARISHA: Well, can we teach them to be friends?

MATT: "That is up to you. I cannot guarantee success in this endeavor, but you are welcome to try. Being a natural predator of the crimson weasel, I would not recommend it. But it is your purchase."

MARISHA: I kind of like a challenge.

TRAVIS: That’s going to be a dead pet.

LAURA: I don't want him to eat my weasel, though. Can I hold it?

TRAVIS: How many times did you hear that at your mom’s house?

MATT: Brings the weasel over. There is a leather leash on the weasel, hands it over to you. The weasel climbs up your arm. Immediately, it hits you: the smell is not pleasant. But not terrible, either. It's definitely-- Definitely a smell of… of *creature*, is the best way I can describe it.

LAURA: Kind of like a mix between Nott and Caleb.

MATT: Yeah. It's almost citrusy, but like fermented citrus.

MARISHA: Ferret smell.

MATT: Similar to a ferret smell, kind of? It makes its way up the arm and curls up and nestles into you. It's pretty soft.

LAURA: Ah!

MATT: "We have one more. This, er… this is a trained creature, because we have to train them initially, or we cannot keep it with us." He turns around and pulls out the side a tiny little puppy. It's like, a soft, kind of brown puppy with a bit of full--

TRAVIS: What are you doing? Are you crazy?! What the fuck is the matter with you?!

MATT: He goes, "This one is 100 gold pieces."

LAURA: What can it do? What is it trained to do?

MATT: "Well, it is trained to stay within its cage. Because when it gets excited--" and he pulls it over towards you and the tail kind of wags, and then it (poof) vanishes from his hand, and then (poof) appears on the ground next to you--

LIAM: (gasp) Blink dog! Blink-- Motherfucking blink dog! I mean, I'm not there. (pigeon cooing)

(laughter)

MATT: Appears on the ground next to you, and is like, “Arf. Arf, arf!” and kind of curls up and starts nibbling on your boot.

LAURA: How much is this one?!

MATT: "It is 100 gold pieces."

LAURA: 100 gold! For a cute blinky dog?!

MARISHA: Is the owl the natural predator of blink dogs? Or would the owl--

MATT: "No. The dog is too-- the dog will get larger, I will warn you. It gets to--"

MARISHA: Will the dog eat the owl?

MATT: "Probably not, unless it--"

MARISHA: How much for the dog and the owl?

LAURA: I want the dog for sure. Yes.

TRAVIS: You're getting an owl?

MARISHA: Yeah, it's a bird of prey that you have to wear a glove to handle. How awesome is that?

TRAVIS: What do you do with an owl during a fight?

MARISHA: I don't know.

LAURA: How much is the weasel again? How much for the weasel?

MATT: "The crimson weasel is 20 gold pieces. The blink puppy is 100 gold pieces."

TALIESIN: Taliesin and Caduceus have very conflicting feelings right now.

TRAVIS: Have you ever eaten tiger before?

LAURA: We should split the dog, and we can have a pet together, and he can room with us whenever we go anywhere. And then you can get your owl--

TALIESIN: I've never been so disappointed to have rolled a vegetarian character in my entire life.

MARISHA: You're going to get the weasel too, okay. Here's my question: what do we do with all these animals?

(laughter)

MATT: That's a very good question.

SAM: We're going to get them, but what do we do?

MARISHA: But then what?

LIAM: Why did you put this in front of us, Matt? Why?

MATT: You know exactly why. Because it's funny!

(laughter)

LAURA: I don't know.

MARISHA: I don't, either. We could get them and just figure it out as we go.

LAURA: We could figure it out. We'll have pets.

TRAVIS: You're going to lose that puppy. It's going to blink itself off a cliff and you're never going to be the same. You're going to be devastated.

LIAM: No, that blink dog is cool!

MARISHA: Just watch it die.

TALIESIN: You guys all right? Is this all on the level? I'm just going to check with the animals that everything is copacetic.

MATT: Yeah, make a nature check.

TALIESIN: 12.

MATT: 12. Looking over all of them, all the animals are well-kept.

TALIESIN: I mean, I asked them.

MATT: Yeah. Oh, you asked them?

TALIESIN: Yeah, no, I just asked them.

MATT: “We are very particular to make sure the creatures are well-kept and comfortable, well-fed, and are of the utmost quality of presentation. These are not—“

TALIESIN: Do the animals seem like they’re cool with this too? I was talking to the animals

MATT: Oh, you were talking to the animals. I’m sorry.

TALIESIN: That’s all right.

LIAM: Think how effective an animal companion was when you were a ranger, and now you have none of those skills.

MATT: The best that you can make out from them, they—

TALIESIN: They’re not freaking out at me?

MATT: No, they’re enjoying the fresh air.

TALIESIN: Sure. All right.

MATT: And the attention. Mostly. The owl doesn’t want to fucking deal with any of you.

TALIESIN: I feel that.

MARISHA: Is the owl on me? I have the owl?

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: Do I have the glove on? Do I have the dope glove?

MATT: No, he didn’t give you the glove.

MARISHA: He didn’t give me the glove? I just have him?

LIAM: You could take it, though.

MARISHA: But I’ve got my wraps.

MATT: Yeah. Well, you have your bracers.

MARISHA: I have awesome bracers.

TRAVIS: He’s talon into forearm, let’s just be honest.

MARISHA: Does it look cool on my bracers?

LAURA: He looks as pissed as you look all the time.

MARISHA: Yeah, right? Yeah? Can I pet?

MATT: Make an animal handling check.

TRAVIS: Oh, don’t lose that fucking digit.

MARISHA: Oh god, he’s going to eat my—

LIAM: This is revenge for all the times Dagon bit us.

MATT: That’s cocked. Yeah, roll again.

LIAM: Damn it.

MARISHA: 16.

MATT: 16?

LAURA: Pretty good.

MATT: You go to pet it, and as your hand gets close, it rears back and opens its beak a bit, and you pet it, and the eyes squint very tightly, and then eventually it’s--

MARISHA: Scritches, yeah, scritches.

MATT: The feathers furl up a little bit and it tends to poof. It seems like it’s enjoying it begrudgingly, like it’s really trying not to but it’s like, oh, this does feel good.

MARISHA: Oh, we’re so much alike.

LAURA: You should have it, and just keep him on your shoulder all the time.

MARISHA: Yeah, I can train him to fly and come back to me, and be cool.

TRAVIS: Now Beau, you know a pet is a lot of responsibility.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: I'm so glad that this is happening.

TRAVIS: I just want you to understand, you’re going to have to feed it, take care of it, clean up after it.

MARISHA: I know, Fjord!

LIAM: And I take out a little metal wire, and I add to this conversation and say, you are responsible for this animal’s stealth checks.

MARISHA: Get out of my head.

(laughter)

MATT: “If you are not interested, please let us know. We do have travel to get—“

LAURA: No, no, I want the weasel!

MARISHA: I want the owl!

MATT: “Weasel. Owl. All right.”

TRAVIS: You’re leaving the puppy behind?

MATT: “20 gold pieces from each of you.”

TRAVIS: You’re leaving the sweet-- you’re leaving the puppy behind?

LAURA: No, we’re going to get the dog, too.

MARISHA: And we’re going to split the cost of the dog.

MATT: “All right. That is 140 gold total.”

MARISHA: Okay. This is so many--

(laughter)

MATT: That’s 70 gold each. 60 gold each.

LAURA: 60 gold each.

MATT: No, wait, hold on. (counting) So it’s 140, so it is 70 gold each.

TALIESIN: This is going to make a giant alligator so happy.

TRAVIS: Can we start a pool about which animal dies first?

TALIESIN: Weasel.

TRAVIS: Or lost. Just lost.

LIAM: Weasel.

LIAM: This is-- in my daughter’s campaign of eight-year-olds, all the girls are like, “Can I have a pet?” It’s just like that with these two.

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS:You did this. You did this.

MATT: Yeah, I did. All right, so Jester has a crimson weasel.

LAURA: I have a weasel!

MARISHA: What’s the name of my dope owl? What’s he called?

MATT: “Whatever you want to call him.”

MARISHA: But what’s his breed? What’s his color?

LAURA: He’s a white owl? He’s a barn owl?

MATT: He’d be more akin visually to a great horned owl, except for, because it comes from a more temperate region, here on the Menagerie coast, the feathers are more lithe. The body is less large, and it’s more elongated and thin, and the tail feathers are a little longer, and the beak itself has a very, very sharp-- like more than usual sharp.

TRAVIS: He’s got a fucking scar over his eye.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Got a tattoo on his left wing.

MATT: You watch as he pulls up and goes (inhales).

TALIESIN: Just Icarus tattooed on his wing.

TRAVIS: He’s got a spiderweb right in the armpit.

MATT: All right, so that’s 140 gold away. “And I’m going to warn you--”

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: “--this puppy is rambunctious and--“ As he’s making the transaction. He’s not going to tell you after the fact like a tool. “You must be diligent and begin to train it to know who is home. Or else you lose it.”

LAURA: (gasps)

MATT: “So begin training it now.”

LAURA: What should we name him?

MARISHA: Oh no. What do we name him?

TRAVIS: It’s too much.

LAURA: Nugget.

MARISHA: I’m not against it. Yeah. Nugget.

MATT: Nugget the blink dog. All right, so mark that somewhere. You have your crimson weasel, you have your owl.

LIAM: Yeah, what about the owl and the weasel?

MARISHA: I’ll think about it.

LIAM: Nothing is more important than this.

MATT: “There is no rush. Thank you very much for your commerce. If there is no other purchases, we will continue our journey northward.”

LAURA: Nugget.

TALIESIN: Good luck to you.

MATT: All right, you as well, tall friend.

LAURA: We are home.

MATT: “All right. Put it up." Everyone gets back into the carts, puts the rest of the creatures away.

LAURA: What do we feed them?

MARISHA: Yeah, what do I feed it? Can we get a carrying crate?

MATT: The carts roll to a stop and (whistles), one of the hands comes over, and this younger woman, the one who’s been helping with the birds, comes over with two small satchels. One, hands it to you, and it is filled with about ten dried-out rat corpses.

MARISHA: Mice, yeah. Cool.

LAURA: Don’t let Nott find that.

MATT: The other one is filled with what looks to be bits of dried jerky and dried fruit.

LAURA: Is that for the dog or—

MATT: For the dog and/or the weasel, based on what you want to do. The cart continues northward and is out of your periphery.

TRAVIS: Are you double guns weasel and dog?

LAURA: I’ve got the weasel up here and the dog right here.

TRAVIS: What’s his name? Poof? Nugget?

LAURA: Nugget. And we are home. Always blink to us.

MATT: Make an animal handling check on the blink dog.

LAURA: Oh god, he’s going to blink away immediately.

MARISHA: And it’s gone.

TRAVIS: Into a tree.

LAURA: Okay. 12.

MATT: 12? Okay.

TRAVIS: Be cruel, Matt. Do it.

MATT: It blinks out of your hand, and you feel this weight up in your horns.

LAURA: Ah!

MATT: You look over and see it’s slipping off of her horn trying to hold on as its hind legs are kicking up, trying to get leverage.

LAURA: We got you, it’s okay! It’s okay! Oh my god, I love him!

LIAM: Oh, it’s so cute.

MATT: (dog barks)

LAURA: We have a dog. What the fuck did we just do?

MARISHA: I know, why did we do this?!

LAURA: I don’t know. This was like a Renn Faire purchase.

MARISHA: Yeah, it totally was!

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Oh, you got goldfished.

LIAM: If you guys are wandering back, Caleb is giving Jester the vaguest stink eye as he scritches Frumpkin’s head.

LAURA: We have a pet! We have another pet!

LIAM: That is super. Good for you.

TALIESIN: As soon as one of these animals runs away, we'll actually be nine of us. That's really exciting.

TRAVIS: Hey!

LIAM: Why do you bring up the number of people in the party?

TALIESIN: I mean, the name of the group is kind of a thing.

LIAM: What do you mean?

TALIESIN: You know, I don’t know.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Guess I’ve never really thought about it.

TRAVIS: Jesus Christ, three animals.

MATT: All right, as you guys—

TALIESIN: Four.

MARISHA: No apartment is letting us in now, ever.

MATT: Yep. Yep.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Cannot get approved.

MATT: Nothing in the valley coming to your attention. All right, so as you guys gather your supplies and continue southward along the road, for the sake of brevity, we’ll say for the next few days, you travel relatively uneventful, passing the odd traveler and/or messenger riding their way up or past you at a much faster speed. To your left, you can see the massive green jungle, this tangled jungle forest to the east that consumes the base of the Ashkeeper Peaks all the way just out of sight to the horizon, known as the Cuarasca Jungle. The fields and hills you follow grow darker and more dense with greenery. The sky is more clear and a more vibrant blue than you're used to in the northern lands and the grey skies of the empire. You follow the road over a series of rising hills until you eventually crest the tallest, your eyes catching a beautiful-- and for some of you, an entirely new-- sight. Beneath the cloudless blue, the horizon comes to meet an endless stretch of deep cerulean, scattered with thousands of tiny sparkling lights, the sunlight dancing across the distant waves, giving the illusion of a million scattered diamonds glinting across what is the Lucidian Ocean. To your left, the dark green of the Cuarasca Jungle still dominates the countryside along the Ashkeeper Peaks, the now hundreds of miles of lush, tangled vine canopy stretching to the shore and stopping at the southern cliffs and beaches that give way into the endless waters. A warm breeze blows from the south as the faint scent of salt water tickles your nose. Due just south of your hilltop, southwest, the road continues to wind through the green hills and patchwork rocky mounds dotted with trees and overgrowth, eventually leading to a rather large city that sits on the coast. Dozens of boats large enough to see even at this distance cluster around the bays and docks, while the colorful rooftops and towers vary in height and design, giving an eclectic visual of a jumble of cultures having built this space without unified vision. To Fjord, this is a familiar sight. And to Jester, this is home. Welcome to the Menagerie Coast, and the port city of Nicodranas. And that’s where we’ll finish tonight’s episode.

(cheering)

TRAVIS: Plus three animals. Not one, maybe two.

LIAM: Took 30 minutes to go pet shopping.

TALIESIN: A very special episode.

MARISHA: Why did we do that?

LAURA: I don’t know.

MARISHA: I don’t know why we did that. Now we’ve got to think of a name—

TRAVIS: Ten extra legs now.

LIAM: Yeah, here, have some Tamagotchi.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah! Fuck. I really want an over-under on how long it takes to lose one of those fucking things.

LIAM: You know, Caleb doesn’t like the blink dog, but keep the blink dog, because Liam loves it. Keep the blink dog.

MARISHA: It’s pretty amazing.

SAM: I’m going to eat one of those animals.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Eat the weasel!

SAM: At least one.

MATT: Nott now has a full-on ALF dynamic with some of these creatures. I’m pretty excited about that.

LIAM: ALF, please don’t eat the blink dog.

(laughter)

MATT: That was fun. I’m excited to pick up in a couple weeks, guys.

SAM: A couple weeks?

MATT: I know! We’ll be back for the main story and the experience of the arrival in Nicodranas the first week of September, the first Thursday of September. Next week, however, we do have the awesome Liam O’Brien running a one-shot with these three wonderful folks, with Laura, Travis and Sam, and two fantastic guests joining for that. So check that out next week on Thursday.

SAM: And next week is also the premiere of Handbooker Helper, right?

MATT: Next Wednesday, right?

MARISHA: Wednesday.

LIAM: Lot going on here.

MATT: Ramping up. Getting all of our stuff in the can.

TRAVIS: And our best wishes to you three as you disappear into the desert.

MATT: Yes. Very necessary reset button.

LIAM: Work hard, play hard.

SAM: Don’t put your dick in the peanut butter too much.

LIAM: Well.

MARISHA: You always say yes to putting your dick in--

MATT: Not at that camp.

(laughter)

MATT: I passed that camp, I said no.

LIAM: Peanut butter and playa dust, though? Nah.

TALIESIN: Yeah, that’s not doing it.

MATT: Anyway.

MARISHA: There's the PB&J cart, it works fine.

MATT: Yeah. In your mouth.

MARISHA: You eat like a fourth of a cup of playa dust at the end of that week. At least. It’s going to happen.

MATT: It becomes part of your bloodstream at that point. Anyway, guys, have a wonderful week. We love you, and is it Thursday yet? Good night.

LIAM: No, it’s not.

TRAVIS: You fucking got pets?!

[music]

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