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Pre-Show[]

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: We play Dungeons & Dragons!

LAURA: Dragons.

TRAVIS: Come on!

LAURA: Sorry, I was distracted by Sam's--

MATT: It'll do that. We have a Liam O'Brien via internet connection for the evening as he's been out for the week with his family.

LAURA: He-ey!

(laughter)

MATT: Good job, that's about right sure! Perfect.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Skipped that elective.

MATT: Exactly. Apologies in advance, don't flip out, I rushed out of the shower, forgot my bands, so I know people will be like, “What's wrong, what's different? He's lost his power tonight.” Maybe, we'll see.

LAURA: Oh my god, what if he rolls really bad?

MATT: Then it'll prove a lot of theories. But yes, anyway, welcome. Before we jump into tonight's game, we're going to go through some quick announcements, beginning with our fantastic sponsors for the night, or quick for most of us. Beginning with our first sponsor friends of Campaign Two, from the very beginning, D&D Beyond.

(cheering)

SAM: D&D Beyond, guys, we all started off as voice actors. Oh, you know what? I didn't even look at what they sent me to read.

(laughter)

The D&D Beyond Encounter Builder alpha version is now available to all D&D Beyond subscribers. If you don't recall, it's a super handy tool to craft unique and flavorful fights that fit your current setting and difficulty level. Check out the exciting updates as they work their way through the alpha including the official monsters who've now been added and improved acce- oh. And improved accessibility. Check it out at the link in the chat. Okay, we all--

MATT: Let me say, that's actually really cool. Not to gloss over that, Sam. Encounter Builder is actually really cool and a really helpful tool. I've used it, it's been helpful, check it out. It's awesome.

SAM: Yes!

LIAM: I'm seeing the table for the first time, is that a motherfucking fishbowl?

SAM: Yeah, there's lots of stuff, Liam. Anyway, what Matt said. That is important and vital. Anyway, the bit.

(laughter)

We all got our start as voice-over actors and for this week's D&D Beyond ad, I wanted to bring us back to our roots with an old-fashioned radio play. Now voice-over really became an art form in the 30s and 40s with radio dramas like “The Shadow,” “Mercury Theater,” “The Green Hornet,” and my favorite part of these classic radio dramas was the sound effects! So tonight, the Critical Role– No, that's mine!

MARISHA: Oh, shit! Sorry!

(laughter)

The Critical Role radio players are going to take you back to the Golden Age of radio, with me, Sam Riegel, providing sound effects. Okay, here we go. Okay, ready?

(xylophone chiming)

MATT: We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast, The Adventures of Detective Clint P. McGinty, Private Dick.

(knocking)

LAURA: (trans-atlantic accent) Come on in.

(stomping)

TRAVIS: Chief, I came as soon as I heard the dispatch. Somebody got iced? Where's the vic?

SAM: Hold on, McGinty, let me light another cigarette.

(flicking)

(blowing)

I'm afraid it's murder, McGinty. That's why you're here. You're the best dick I know.

TRAVIS: Well, if you want to solve this case, you're going to need all the dicking I can give.

LAURA: We all will. Walk with me, McGinty. The body's over here.

(stomping)

Just past this carpet.

(stomping)

LAURA: Stupid.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Should I follow you over this gravel area?

LAURA: Of course.

(crunching)

(laughter)

Let's stop here on this mound of silverware.

(clanking)

Go ahead, kick that vacuum cleaner aside.

(vacuum sound)

(laughter)

And get rid of that pussy.

(claps)

SAM: Meow!

(laughter)

LAURA: There you go.

(laughter)

One dead body.

TRAVIS: Good gravy, that's a lot of blood. I'd better investigate it by touching it and squishing it around.

(water pouring)

MATT: In this toilet bowl.

TRAVIS: Curious. Yes, interesting. Mmm, yes, of course. Well I--

(dripping continues)

(laughter)

I think I know who committed this crime.

LAURA: What, how?

TRAVIS: There's blood splatter here, on this bell.

(thunk)

SAM: Oh, shit!

(ding)

There it is! And here on this clock!

(alarm ringing)

TRAVIS: And here on this lightsaber!

(buzzing)

LAURA: My goodness, you're right!

TRAVIS: There's a reason they call me the best goddamn dick in L.A.

SAM: (laughs)

LAURA: So who did it?

SAM: We're halfway done, guys.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: The only person I know who can kill this quickly and efficiently is none other than D&D Beyond.

LAURA: D&D Beyond?

TRAVIS: D&D Beyond. In any violent encounter, D&D Beyond makes you much more efficient, so you can slay your enemies without having to look up rules and--

(fart noises)

LAURA: (monotone) Sorry, I had curry before, continue.

TRAVIS: Anyway, D&D Beyond is the perfect resource for anyone who wants to defeat a creature in record time.

(fart noise)

LAURA: I also ate corn, cauliflower, and Diet Coke with Mentos.

TRAVIS: It's fine, Chief, I'll just moonwalk over here.

(stomping)

SAM: Hee hee!

TRAVIS: As I was saying, the killer must've subscribed to dndbeyond.com and gotten access to all their great content.

(fart noise)

LAURA: I forgot to tell you I also ate Red Hots, a hoppy IPA, deviled eggs, raw artichokes, and Funyuns and bean dip.

TRAVIS: I'm sorry, Chief, I can't take this smell anymore, I'm going to jump out this window.

(cartoonish plummeting noise)

SAM: Ba!

(laughter)

MATT: And thus concludes another adventure of Detective Clint P. McGinty, Private Dick.

(ringing)

SAM: Hey, I did it!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Oh my god, what the fuck is the matter with you?

SAM: I did it!

MATT: He did it.

TRAVIS: Do we clap?

MATT: Whatever Sam did, he did it!

(clapping)

TRAVIS: Nice. Really good.

LAURA: Good job.

SAM: That was my dream come true!

MATT: I'm so happy that we and our sponsors can facilitate your private dream, Sam.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Holy shit.

SAM: Thanks guys, that was real fun!

MATT: No, thank you, Sam. And thank you, D&D Beyond, for your infinite patience.

TALIESIN: Oh, man.

TRAVIS: What a bit.

LIAM: My favorite part was how you wove D&D Beyond into it.

SAM: So cleverly! Organically.

MATT: Seamless! Natural. Our second wonderful sponsor for tonight's episode: our returning friends at The Rook and The Raven.

(clapping)

You guys, we've talked about them before on the show. Check it out, they have these amazing bound campaign books you can get, both as a Dungeon Master and as a player, with spiral notes that you can change out different pages for your campaign character notes, all kinds of fun stuff, details.

MARISHA: My last note before the break was “Fuckin' Yasha.”

TRAVIS: Yep, that sounds about right.

MATT: It's about right.

MARISHA: You too can make very poignant notes like that.

TALIESIN: Fucking Yasha.

MATT: For a very limited time right now, you can get the new Rook and the Raven campaign planner with the cover designed by fantasy artist Leesha Hannigan, friend of the show, awesome, awesome artist. Also new in their store is the large format which is available with both square and dual hex grid pages which is cool. A hex dual scale, I should say. Sorry. Also, the new Tome of Legends and Lore, which features oversize discs and dividers that let you organize and archive up to 300 pages for your Mischief and Misadventure diary planners, which these are. You can find all this and more at our landing page, which is therookandtheraven.com/criticalrole. Go ahead and get a special 15 percent discount from ordering there, so go check it out. All righty. We also have a couple quick announcements. The continuation of our comic book series, Legends– sorry, Vox Machina Origins.

TRAVIS: Yes!

(cheering)

MATT: With our friends at Dark Horse Comics. The first issue is now available at comic shops, hopefully. Some of the stores are sold out already, which is crazy. So check out and order, if you can't find it in the store, check online. Once again, I recommend you going to your local game store, local comic store, support the brick and mortars best you can, and then if you can't find it, other avenues. You can find it at critrole.com as well as Comixology, Dark Horse Digital, and where other great digital comic books are sold. Also, we'll be-- next weekend, Saturday, July 20th, in Room 6BCF at San Diego Comic-Con!

(cheering)

TALIESIN: BCF.

MATT: 6BCF.

TRAVIS: We can't make this up.

MATT: Same room we had our panel last year. Our special Talks Machina panel will be there. If you're planning on going to San Diego Comic-Con, hopefully you can come join us and bask in the chaos that they inevitably always are. Hope to see you there! Laura, we have some updates from the merch side of things.

LAURA: Yes, we do!

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay, to commemorate– you may have seen this online already, to commemorate the one year--

TALIESIN: One year anniversary, yes.

LAURA: Yeah, of dear Mollymauk's, we have this fabulous shirt. You want to hold it up? Designed by our friend and artist Caemie, I hope I'm saying that right, Caemiel. @Caemil on Twitter. It's spelled fun, check it out on our Twitter for find out exactly, go check it out.

MATT: @C-A-E-M-I-E-L.

LAURA: There you go.

TALIESIN: It's an amazing piece, I'm so pleased with it.

LAURA: It's so beautiful and if you zoom in, you can see sparkles. It's on the shop, go check it out. It's on pre-order right now in both the US and the UK at the same time. Then, in addition to this, we have our Pride shirt still available. That is in the UK shop now and so in addition to what we did here in America, in the UK for the month of July, all profits are going to go to OutRight International.

SAM: Yes. Awesome.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MARISHA: Super great.

LAURA: And I want that shirt.

TALIESIN: It's so nice, I'm so excited.

LAURA: There you go.

MATT: Thank you, Laura. Really quick, before we get started on tonight's game, just want to take a moment to remind each and every one of you to love each other, both online and off, as much as we love you. It's important. So. Anyway. Without further ado.

SAM: I feel like I did something wrong.

MARISHA: I know!

MATT: Usually-- it's usually you, Sam. It's usually you. But, nevertheless, with that all being said, let's go ahead and jump into tonight's episode–

(ascending slide whistle)

(laughter)

Now he's in trouble. --of Critical Role.

(descending slide whistle)

(light rumbling) (explosion) ? Role, Critical Role ? ? Critical Role ? ? Critical Role ? ? Roll the dice ? ? The adventure begins ? ? They were always beside you ? ? Your nerdy best friends ? ? And the DM to guide you ? ? And they rise from the flames for the battles ahead ? ? Villains beware 'cause you're 'bout to be dead ? ? They got magic and flair ? ? They got falchions and cunning ? ? They don't see over there ? ? There's a monster incoming ? ? Inspiration is waiting ? ? Rise up, don't think twice ? ? Put your fate in your hands ? ? Take a chance, roll the dice ? ? Roll the dice ? ? Roll the dice ? ? Roll the dice ? ? Can you answer the call? ? ? Diggin' deep in your soul ? ? As the legend unfolds ? ? Now it's your turn to roll ? (flames igniting)

Part I[]

LIAM: --arts.

MATT: And welcome back.

(laughter)

The delay's not helping you there, Liam.

LIAM: I timed that precisely.

MATT: Fair enough. So– My music's having problems here. That's okay. I'll just start.

LAURA: Oh no! Do you want us to just hum?

MATT: No, I should check that-

(humming)

Last we left off, two weeks ago, after our week of break, The Mighty Nein, upon investigating a series of strange occurrences, where portals seemed to open to various locations and the Abyss began to appear across Xhorhas, had found an individual responsible, through scrying means. Hunted down a meeting point, and where they fled northward to Bazzoxan, you followed this entity, this Obann, into a subterranean tomb, known colloquially, or historically, as The King's Cage, as you came to discover. There, in the depths below, you went through all manner of dangerous traps, challenges, terrible creatures, and reflections of yourselves, even. Before eventually– I think I got it now. There it is. (mysterious music) Yeah, it's not the same without the music. Before eventually coming to a chamber where you found some sort of a tomb itself. A sarcophagus was there. Obann had essentially been letting you do the hard work for him. Beginning to read from a tablet, the chains began to tear apart from this sarcophagus. Attempting to stop him but failing, it completed and as such, unleashed what you came to find to be The Laughing Hand. A champion, if you will, of the Crawling King, Torog. In the sense of this battle, Obann seemingly was destroyed but in his final moments, called out to Yasha, connecting to this past connection they seemed to have, and asking to avenge him. At which point, she began to be overtaken.

LAURA: No.

MATT: It was Mighty Nein versus Yasha and the Laughing Hand. The battle began to turn rapidly, and you all turned tail to flee with your lives, and through a series of very, very tight choices and tactical decisions, managed to all make it out alive, sealing the door behind you, running through the remaining dangers that led you into this chamber. Considering the terrible scenario of leaving your friend behind under the influence of this entity, you've made your way towards Bazzoxan for an evening's rest to figure out what and where The Mighty Nein are to go and do. So, as you all make your way to Bazzoxan, we'll say holing up for the evening, purchasing another night of rest at the top of the same shop. Though, seemingly to yourselves, at least, for this particular evening. What would you like to do?

MARISHA: We're all in the room?

SAM: It's evening time, yes?

MATT: It is. By the time you get here, I'll say yes. It's just past dusk and the sky is turning from oranges to purples, the sun is down, the dust storms are kicking up and there's actually a pretty heavy wind outside that you can hear whistling through bits of where the boards in the side of this general store are a bit too wide, occasionally rattling and clattering.

TRAVIS: As we came back in, was a military presence in town same as it was before?

MATT: Yep.

TRAVIS: No increase, no decrease?

MATT: No increase, no decrease, and all seemingly geared towards the sealed doorway that Bazzoxan was built around. This ancient temple that is built into this part of the Penumbra Range.

TRAVIS: Well.

MARISHA: (sighs) You said we're heading to the Iron-- Forge?

TRAVIS: Anvil.

MARISHA: Anvil, Iron Anvil.

SAM: What's that? Oh yeah, the place that you want to go. The kiln.

TALIESIN: Yeah, that's where I think we should go next.

SAM: You don't have any specific reason to go there, you just have a feeling, right?

TALIESIN: I feel like a feeling's a very specific reason.

SAM: Fair. Should we be warning people or cities about the impending doom that is about to trample its way towards the town, and kill everyone inside of it?

MARISHA: You mentioned we were going to send a message to the Bright Queen.

TALIESIN: We should tell everybody here what happened too.

TRAVIS: How do we send that message?

TRAVIS: Are we–

TALIESIN: We need to rest, I think.

SAM: Can you send tonight?

LAURA: No. Not tonight.

TRAVIS: Hold on, are we actually talking about speaking to her directly via Jester's shit?

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Instead of just sending a rider?

SAM: They should know sooner than later, don't you think?

TALIESIN: Expedience.

TRAVIS: Yeah, sure.

LIAM: Why put a middle man between us?

TRAVIS: Okay.

LAURA: I can do it in the morning. Sorry, I don't have it prepared today.

MARISHA: It's no bigs.

TALIESIN: It's a lot.

SAM: I should also bring up the fact that I have this– I'll take out the knife. This knife from the statue inside the cavern where we just were. This knife thing?

TRAVIS: Dagger?

SAM: This dagger that we-- yeah. I don't know if they can trace this to us or maybe it's bad to have this. Maybe it's really good to have this, I don't know. I'm just bringing it up.

LAURA: I think if you put it in the bag, we should be safe.

SAM: Maybe Caleb, can you identify it, possibly?

LIAM: If there is anything to be found, yeah. May I?

TRAVIS: Yeah, please.

SAM: Take it.

LIAM: Okay, while the group deliberates further, I will take my 10 minutes with my book and see if there's anything to be found.

MATT: Okay, identifying the dagger, it is indeed magical. I would hand you the paper, but you're not here.

LAURA: I'll take it!

MATT: So--

TALIESIN: That's fine, that's fine.

(laughter)

SAM: Eager, eager.

MATT: Sorry, buddy, that's how it works out.

SAM: The Dagger of Denial, for Liam's edification. This silver--

TALIESIN: Oh my god!

SAM: Why don't you read it, you're a voice actor.

TRAVIS: Wait, it's legit?

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Yes! It's super legit.

LIAM: Laura Bailey, do a Caleb impression.

SAM: Do a Caleb impression, Laura.

LAURA: I can't do a German accent, no, I suck! Here, you're really good at it.

TALIESIN: (German accent) This silver stiletto blade bears intricate grooves that spiral from point to the ivory hilt and handle. You have a plus two bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this weapon.

TRAVIS: What?

TALIESIN: While attuned to this dagger, you can spend an action to place the point of the blade into any keyhole and seal it shut. It's too thick for you, but I'm doing it anyway. A keyhole sealed in this way cannot be unlocked until this dagger is placed into that keyhole once more. Attempting to seal a keyhole unseals any previous sealed keyholes.

LAURA: Like, it's amazing!

TALIESIN: It's superglue.

TRAVIS: Where did that thing come from?

TALIESIN: From the doorway.

MARISHA: From the statue.

TRAVIS: No no no, I know, but what does it--

LAURA: How great is it that we actually took it with us, you guys?

TALIESIN: This is actually--

SAM: Who could use such a thing?

MARISHA: This is like a tiny--

LAURA: I mean, you are probably--

SAM: I could.

TRAVIS: Yep.

LAURA: Do you use any daggers ever, Nott?

SAM: I have a short sword that I sometimes use but it's pretty weak sauce.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: I mean, I wouldn't say no to it, but if someone else needs it more than I do.

TALIESIN: How much attunement do you have right now?

LIAM: It is the most logical for you to use it, Nott.

TRAVIS: Yeah, did you get up close a lot?

LAURA: No.

TALIESIN: But if you do. It would be nice to have something.

SAM: Yeah!

TALIESIN: It also has such a wonderful use.

LAURA: Beau does get up close.

SAM: Do you use pointy things?

MARISHA: I'm better with my fists.

LAURA: Makes sense.

SAM: Yeah, you are.

TRAVIS: Can I see it?

LIAM: Nott, just consider it a tool, even if you don't fight with it. Well, you can fight with it.

SAM: For locks and stuff, you're right. Yeah.

TALIESIN: Very useful.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Good to-- I'll hang onto it for now and if one of you guys needs it more, you can take it.

MARISHA: I'm assuming it does 1d4, right?

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: But then plus two?

MATT: Plus two.

MARISHA: On top of your dex? Is this a finesse weapon? Daggers are finesse weapons, yes.

SAM: Oh, she's looking a little harder now.

LIAM: Oh, maximize.

LAURA: What kind of a finesse weapon do you use right now? Your bo?

MARISHA: Can I use finesse weapons as a monk?

MATT: Anyone can use a finesse weapon. It means you can use strength or dex for the attack.

LAURA: Anybody can?

MATT: Anybody can use either, that's the point of a finesse weapon.

LIAM: Yeah, you just have to be proficient to use your proficiency advantage.

MATT: Exactly. I'm not sure, I'm pretty sure, I mean, it's good for rogues for multiple reasons because it's a dagger. It's also, I believe, considered a monk weapon.

TRAVIS: Yeah, it's usually good for people who get right up on 'em, which now used to be three, only seems to be two.

MARISHA: Oh.

LAURA and SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Guess we'll be compensating a bit more.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I think we will. Hey Caduceus, this kiln you keep talking about, how far is it from here, do you gather?

TALIESIN: I don't know. I've never been there.

TRAVIS: You've never been there?!

TALIESIN: No.

TRAVIS: You've been talking about it this whole time, like it's--

LAURA: Yeah, but he's been saying he's been searching for it.

TALIESIN: It is somewhere I'm supposed to go.

TRAVIS: Do you know what it looks like if you see it?

TALIESIN: I think, when I did this description earlier, I believe it's north, northwest of us.

LAURA: Is it Empire or is it Xhorhas?

TALIESIN: I don't think it's either.

LAURA: Oh.

TRAVIS: Oh, like in between the two?

TALIESIN: I think it's above it.

TRAVIS: We're just going all off the map, all sorts of fucking ways.

TALIESIN: It's a mountain without snow, it's one mountain without snow amongst others.

LAURA: So it's a shorty?

TRAVIS: Well no, I think because of heat.

TALIESIN: Because of the heat.

LAURA: Oh, that makes more sense.

TALIESIN: And there's a salt plain with snow in front of it.

LAURA: Oh, because it's a kiln!

TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah.

LAURA: So it's hot!

TALIESIN: I mean, one would hope.

LAURA: I understand! So it's a volcano.

TALIESIN: Maybe.

SAM: Seems like we might need some more info before we just start walking.

MARISHA: True.

SAM: Do you have any sense of how far it might be?

TALIESIN: No, I mean I can meditate on these things, I've been feeling like we've been going in the right direction.

MARISHA: Are there any more cities north of here? I feel like we're pretty far north as it is.

TALIESIN: I have no idea.

MARISHA: I mean, to get more information, it could take a lot of time.

TALIESIN: Meditate once I've rested.

TRAVIS: And then there's fucking water. And then more fucking water.

MARISHA: What's this? What's that say?

LIAM: I don't have the map--

MARISHA: Jigow?

TRAVIS: Jigow!

TRAVIS: Mercer, what do we know about Jigow?

MATT: You know nothing.

SAM: Ji-gi-gi-gi-gow!

TRAVIS: I know nothing about Jigow.

MARISHA: Me neither, do I know anything?

MATT: You proficient in history?

MARISHA: Uh-huh.

MATT: Go ahead and make a history check. Anybody who's proficient in history, go ahead and make a check.

TALIESIN: I don't even know why I'm looking.

MARISHA: 18.

LAURA: Roll, Liam, roll.

MATT: All you know of Jigow is it remains– oh, what'd you get?

TRAVIS: 16.

MATT: 16, okay.

LIAM: 16.

MATT: Beau's the only one who picks up any information on this one, and what you know of it is it's primarily a, it's a collection of smaller villages, partially goblin-based, partially orc-based, that are very competitive, largely a fishing community.

MARISHA: Fishing village?

MATT: Yep.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: That's all you know.

TRAVIS: It's a goblin and orc village, slightly competitive, and mostly fishing establishments.

SAM: Why? I can hear the-- I can hear the god talking to us.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: That's a good shot.

SAM: That was a good shot.

TRAVIS: So Caduceus...

SAM: But that's not where we're going, that's just maybe on the way.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I don't, yeah. Well, we're going to try to send the Bright Queen a message in the morning, right?

LAURA: Then head out as soon as possible, I'd assume.

TALIESIN: So perhaps she'll have some opinion on the matter as well.

TRAVIS: Who, the Bright Queen? We're going to tell her where we're going?

TALIESIN: I mean, yeah.

TRAVIS: Oh, boy, look.

LAURA: What am I going to say, like what, like: Oh hey, we did this really bad thing, and we're trying to fix it?

TALIESIN: I feel like maybe that's taking responsibility for something that's not necessarily--

LAURA: This really bad thing happened while we were standing around.

TALIESIN: We happened to-- well, we failed to stop this really bad thing from happening.

LIAM: We know more, there is something bigger than this war at the moment. This Obann, or whoever he really is...

LAURA: All of this information is sounding like a lot more than 25 words.

TRAVIS: Okay so, we unleashed a terrible evil on the northern mountain line just west of Bazzoxan.

MARISHA: We didn't unleash it. It's very-- a demon, flying man...

TALIESIN: The person we were sent to track.

TRAVIS: How about an evil we unleashed?

LIAM: We didn't unleash it, we were unable to prevent it from being unleashed.

MARISHA: I mean, if we want to call him the Crawling King.

LAURA: Do we mention the fact that he took Yasha?

TRAVIS: No, I don't think she'll care.

TALIESIN: I think that's a--

SAM: You don't have that many words, either.

TRAVIS: How many times can you send?

LAURA: Well, I could send like four times, but...

TRAVIS: That's a waste of your--

LAURA: Not necessarily, if this is important.

TALIESIN: This thing's been, this thing's escaped.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we should say the mountain ridge west of Bazzoxan, a great evil has emerged.

TALIESIN: It had a name.

MARISHA: The Laughing Hand.

TALIESIN: Yeah, laughing.

MARISHA: Maybe if we tell them the name, they could do some research, figure out how to stop it.

TRAVIS: I'm a big fan of being vague about ourselves in this scenario so we are going to try and find a remedy in the meantime, maybe she'll have some thoughts about sending reinforcements while we get the fuck out.

LIAM: Again, we say nothing about why we are not returning to see our new friends and to deliberate with them. We're keeping that vague as well.

TALIESIN: We think maybe that there's an answer to stopping this thing further north.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Better to return with a possible solution than nothing at all, right?

MARISHA: Plus, the amount of time it would take to even get back.

TRAVIS: Yep.

MARISHA: We're already halfway there.

LIAM: Getting back is easy, I can get us back in an instant.

MARISHA: But the Bright Queen doesn't need to know that.

LIAM: Well, I'm just reminding you.

TALIESIN: But if she decides she wants to help us--

LAURA: You could take us to anywhere really fast now, Caleb?

LIAM: Well, I can take you home through the tower in Nicodranas and I can take us back to Rosohna. That's all for now.

TRAVIS: Anywhere there's a transportation sigil, circle?

LIAM: That's correct, if I can see and study a circle in a new location, I can bring us there.

LAURA: Whoa.

LIAM: I can't just go anywhere willy-nilly, but I can return to--

LAURA: So once we went, we would be stuck.

LIAM: That's right.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: You okay, Jester?

LAURA: Mm-hmm. I think I'm going to go to bed.

LIAM: But if we have very few words to offer, and keeping it vague, maybe, Caduceus, you're right. We tell them that we have a lead. We are just pursuing it, but that they need to be prepared for something worse than the Empire. Something different.

MARISHA: War between demon and angels? Because that's what it certainly feels like.

TRAVIS: Who are the angels in the scenario?

MARISHA: I don't know.

LIAM: We're still going on very little information.

MARISHA: There's a lot of celestial covering up.

TALIESIN: At the very least, we should also alert people in the town right now about what's going on.

TRAVIS: Plus if that thing is going to smash its way out, we'll be able to find where it came from, trace it back to its origin. I'm sure go to town on that iconography that was everywhere.

SAM: Well, before we alert this town, why don't we call the home office first and she might say don't tell the people in town, I don't know, but we should ask her first.

TALIESIN: I don't disagree.

TRAVIS: Let's turn in.

MARISHA: Great, it's been a long day.

TRAVIS: We're all smoked. I'm super tired and really bad.

TALIESIN: We all need to sleep.

SAM: Okay, let's go to bed.

TRAVIS: I should be like– I'm really tired.

LIAM: I really need my cat so I'm going to take the time before bed to return Frumpkin to his feline form.

MATT: You got it.

MARISHA: Swollen eye.

MATT: Go ahead and mark off the materials for that.

MARISHA: Broken arm.

TALIESIN: Oh my god!

MATT: All right, so you got-- you okay?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I saw everything reset and it was like, it was like being slapped in the face.

(laughter)

Wow, that was a lot.

MATT: That was a lot. All right. You guys go ahead, prepare yourselves for an evening's rest in the upper area of the Ready Room in Bazzoxan. The wind is still strong and sleep isn't the most easy to come to you with the sound of the windstorms blowing through, swelling and diminishing and then swelling again. The whistling, the battering, and the occasional bits of sand and dust get kicked up through the, what you thought were mostly closed windows, not properly sealed. But, eventually you find yourselves through sheer exhaustion and soreness, finding a night's rest. The room acts like a sauna in the morning. Moreso now because of your post-battered experience. As you all come to consciousness, the sweaty, hot upper area of the Ready Room is what jolts you to consciousness. You find yourselves rested, and the day is yours.

MARISHA: How's the weather look?

MATT: Looking outside, the dust storms are not as strong as they were yesterday, there's a light breeze, a little cooler, which is nice. The sky is not completely clear, it's partially cloudy but you can see blue and you can see sun.

MARISHA: Maybe we should move while the weather's clear.

TRAVIS: Yeah, let's all gather in a room, shall we?

MARISHA: All right.

TRAVIS: Knock around, collect everybody, and join up with Jester and Beau's room.

MATT: You're all in one big chamber.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'm just kidding.

MARISHA: Wait for anyone else to leave, I guess.

TRAVIS: I almost died yesterday, so I'm a little loopy.

MATT: It's all good, yeah. The Ready Room is like a big hostel-like open space with a bunch of beds everywhere. You guys thankfully were the only ones that were staying there the night before so there's nobody else in here that's an issue.

TRAVIS: Nice.

MARISHA: I'm going to go and peek out the door, look downstairs, see if anyone's listening.

MATT: Okay, make a perception check.

MARISHA: 16.

MATT: 16, okay, you're keeping watch.

TRAVIS: I'll actually go-- will you be okay in here?

SAM: Yeah, it's a room.

TRAVIS: All right. I'm going to head downstairs and just, just keep an eye out in case our, I don't even want to say the words, in case our friend made it out and followed our tracks this way. I'm sure that's not possible, just be safe.

SAM: You mean, followed us here to kill us all?

TRAVIS: Well, I mean we did walk through a terrible wasteland. I know it's been pretty windy, so hopefully the tracks are gone, but--

SAM: She knows where we are, doesn't she?

LAURA: Yeah. Yasha would know where to find us.

TALIESIN: That's assuming they don't have something better to do.

TRAVIS: I'll go out and keep an eye out.

SAM: Yeah, maybe you should keep watch.

TRAVIS: If you see a bunch of Eldritch Blasts coming through the roof.

(laughter)

It's time to turn up, okay?

MATT: All right, so you're keeping an ear for the two proprietors of the locale, you're actually outside the establishment. Make a perception check for me.

TRAVIS: Are you fucking kidding me?

MARISHA: Oh, welcome back.

TRAVIS: Four.

MATT: Four, okay.

(laughter)

You feel pretty confident that you're keeping a close watch. All right, so while they're keeping watch, what would the rest of you like to do?

SAM: Time to send some messages.

LAURA: Yeah, of course.

SAM: You know what you're going to say?

LAURA: No.

SAM: Cool. Do you want to drink?

LAURA: No.

SAM: I'm going to have one.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: Don't forget you still have Yeza back in Rosohna.

SAM: Oh, I know.

MATT: Literally just sitting at home in the house that you were given, waiting.

SAM: We'll see how many messages this takes first.

LAURA: I'm going to send the message to the Bright Queen.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: We tracked that guy. We followed him into a cave. A great evil was unleashed. The Laughing Hand. Our friend was taken.

TRAVIS: West of Bazzoxan?

LAURA: West of Bazzoxan.

MATT: Very rapidly, the Bright Queen responds. “There is a crypticness to your message. Seemingly bad news, whereas I had hoped to give you good. Where are you now?”

LAURA: I'll send a second message.

SAM: Well, are you going to tell her?

TRAVIS: She's the only one that heard that, right?

LAURA: Mm-hmm!

TRAVIS: Okay.

TALIESIN: Yes.

SAM: We're going to tell her where we are.

TRAVIS: Oh no. Look. Okay. I'm not there.

LAURA: Should I tell her where we are?

TRAVIS: Do you remember “Terminator 2?” With the pay phone?

LAURA: Should I tell her where we are?

SAM: She probably has the power to come here. She probably has the power to come here instantly.

TALIESIN: Why would we act like we did something wrong?

LAURA: I didn't say we did anything wrong.

MARISHA: How does it look?

TALIESIN: What did we do wrong?

SAM: We promised that we would take care of business in the capital, we failed, and we failed up here as well.

MARISHA: We were still Empire shitbags who were trying to prove ourselves. But, you're right, we didn't do anything wrong. It's just--

TALIESIN: It's just failure.

MARISHA: The optics.

SAM: We failed. When we promised that we--

TALIESIN: So this is the moment to start lying?

LIAM: But we are trying to build a relationship with power and these people.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: I think maybe honesty is the smarter play.

LAURA: I send a message.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: This is the only moment honesty's worth anything.

LAURA: We're in Bazzoxan. We are planning to head north. We think there might be a solution there. The Laughing Hand is really bad. I'm really sorry.

SAM: Should we tell people?

LAURA: Well, I didn't ask that.

MATT: There is a little more of a pause in response to this. “I would hope for more information on this.”

LAURA: I don't have all the words!

MATT: “How soon can you return?”

MATT: “This should be discussed in person.”

MARISHA: Fuck.

TALIESIN: We could return instantly.

LAURA: Technically.

SAM: Mom wants us to come home. What do we do?

LAURA: I don't know.

SAM: She's expressed her request.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

SAM: But I don't think we have to answer. We either come back or we don't.

LAURA: She asked how soon we can be back. That's an open question that we should probably respond to because she's a queen!

(laughter)

LIAM: If you want to offer our return, you have to tell her 24 hours because I did not prepare it.

LAURA: It's going to take some time, I'm going to say, it's just going to take some time.

TRAVIS: It takes some patience and time.

TALIESIN: At least a day, that's what I'd say.

MARISHA: Maybe this is a...

SAM: A whole lot of spending money.

MARISHA: I feel like maybe we've all been avoiding the inevitable and maybe not talking about our priorities, and we're all a group of assholes who like running from things.

LAURA: Am I going to tell her all this?

MARISHA: No, this is just me.

(laughter)

SAM: We don't say this part out loud.

MARISHA: Just thinking out loud.

LIAM: This is a think tank right now, circle of trust.

MARISHA: I don't know.

LAURA: I mean, we want to fix this, yeah? That's our priority, yeah?

TALIESIN: We're being offered an opportunity to show faith. To show trust.

MARISHA: Faith and trust in a woman and an army who are building giant war machines to send to kill people in the Empire.

LAURA: I think we go north.

LIAM: We've tried multiple times to try to convince her to turn away from the course she's on and just fucking off is not going to help that case.

MARISHA: Exactly.

TALIESIN: I think we go back. I want to go north so badly.

LAURA: I think if we go back, she's going to put us in prison.

TALIESIN: I don't think she's going to.

TRAVIS: Do I see anything on the dusty horizon?

MATT: Occasional plumes of kicked-up sand, a few of the wandering Kryn soldiers just keeping watch, not showing much acknowledgment towards you. It's a hotter day out here so most folks that would normally be perusing the city seem to be keeping to the shade, especially since a large portion of the drow here aren't big fans of direct sunlight. But it seems a lazier day in Bazzoxan.

TRAVIS: A pretty far horizon, but nothing like, oh, I don't know, the size of a huge, steroidal linebacker lumbering towards our direction?

MATT: At the moment, no.

TRAVIS: Okay, great, I'll head back inside, go upstairs.

MATT: Okay, Fjord joins you.

LIAM: During this whole conversation, Frumpkin has been going from a member of the Mighty Nein to member and just rubbing against the line of their ankles and going onto the next. He's trying to keep things chill.

MATT: You got it.

TALIESIN: I think if we run, that's how you end up in prison. I don't mean to raise my voice.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: What'd I walk into?

TALIESIN: Am I the only person here who doesn't instantly assume that they're the bad guy?

SAM: That they, you mean?

LAURA: Us.

SAM: Us.

TALIESIN: I mean, is anybody else here actually had any experience being just trusted and doing the right thing? Is this so alien, I--

MARISHA: I mean, yeah. I think for a lot of us, Caduceus.

TALIESIN: We've got to go back. I want to go north. But we got to show faith.

LIAM: He's right, the only reason to run is to never come back and we are trying to build something here.

TALIESIN: We can never come back if we run.

SAM: Well, regardless, if you tell her, we can be back as early as tomorrow. It still gives us a day to putz around here and maybe warn some folks and do some recon.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: Can we just game this out for one second? When we go back, we tell the Bright Queen that while trying to track someone for her, we helped to unleash a great evil that might fucking wipe out this entire--

LAURA: We don't have to--

TRAVIS: Let me finish, this continent. Okay? We're going to then ask to go out and pursue nother lead of another thing that might help the situation and she's going to say what? eah, go for it? You're not going to unleash terrible demon presence number two?

TALIESIN: May I perhaps offer a slightly different perspective on the last 24 hours? We walked into something we couldn't possibly have been prepared for that was far beyond us. If we had had triple the number of us, we would have been hopelessly overwhelmed and witnessed something that was inevitable, and are giving them time to prepare for this thing that was coming with or without us. We gave them a lead and we have another lead and there's no sense at this point of stopping anything that might save this.

LAURA: That is true.

TRAVIS: You know Obann used us.

LAURA: Obann used us though how?

TRAVIS: The door, the last door doesn't get open without us. He waited for us, he baited us.

TALIESIN: Of course he did.

TRAVIS: We got used.

TALIESIN: Of course we got used.

TRAVIS: That thing doesn't come without us. It stays in there.

LAURA: Why did the last door without us? Why wouldn't the last door open?

SAM: We defeated a lot of different traps and monsters to get there.

LAURA: What if he--

TALIESIN: He would've just done it by himself.

LAURA: He would be able to defeat them. It's not like he wasn't super powerful on his own, he just didn't want to waste the effort.

TALIESIN: I think he wanted to watch us do it because he enjoyed it.

MARISHA: It doesn't matter, it's--

LAURA: He'd have gone in and said that chant and nobody would've been there to stop him.

TRAVIS: This sounds like a trial that I feel like we're going to have if we go back.

MARISHA: It's all about the narrative that we present, though. We told the Bright Queen that we had pretty strong evidence that this spy or scout was from the Empire. And that was true, that was the information that we were working off of. We simply tell her that the case ended up being much worse than if he was just a spy of a different kind and we don't have to mention anything about Yasha's history. We don't have to talk about her again.

TRAVIS: What if she asks?

TALIESIN and MARISHA: We lost her.

LIAM: We lost her, and we are the ones with the information. We're the ones who are able to suss this out. We're the ones who found this man and we witnessed what we witnessed. No one in Rosohna did, we did. And that's how we play this.

SAM: Fjord, not to be super selfish, but I do have the sneaking suspicion that if we run, she might find and kill my husband? I don't know, but maybe.

TRAVIS: Yeah, you're right. Look, if it's what everybody wants to do, we'll go back. Prison's not what I'm worried about, I thought we could get out of it in the first place. I'm sure we're a bunch of talented individuals that will make do.

TALIESIN: The only shred of guilt I feel about anything we've done in the last 24 hours is losing a friend. Everything else, I know I did my best.

MARISHA: I feel a little guilty on my ego. I feel like we all knew we were walking into a trap and thought we could beat it.

LAURA: Yasha knew she was going into something, she kept saying it.

TALIESIN: It's a terrible lesson.

SAM: Message her back and say tomorrow.

TALIESIN: Ask if we should warn the town about what happened.

SAM: Who we should warn the town. Probably give us a more concrete direction.

TALIESIN: It's going to be okay.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

MARISHA: Our main goal is to convince her that this is bigger than the war that she is currently obsessed with. I think as long as we keep that as our main prerogative.

LAURA: I send another message.

SAM: Yeah! Fire it up!

LAURA: Sorry that took a while.

TRAVIS: Awhile? A while? Awhile.

SAM: It's one word.

LAURA: We can be there as soon as tomorrow. Yes, there's a lot to talk about in person. Should we tell anyone here? And who?

SAM: Ooh, nice.

MATT: “One day is sufficient. Don't warn anyone yet. We need to ensure this information is framed correctly to avoid hysteria. We look forward to your return.”

LAURA: She said don't tell anyone.

TRAVIS: She said don't tell anyone? Last thing, and then I will truly put it to bed, does that not freak anyone else out just a little bit?

TALIESIN: Just a little bit.

MARISHA: There's a little 'bout her that freaks me out.

TRAVIS: Right, we'd be talking about subterfuge, maybe spies, maybe double-sided spies, maybe trying to unleash something at our own place, maybe trying to incite a war. I mean, look, I'm not the smartest man around but that reeks of terrible, to not even send the armed guard outside the perimeter, investigative force to check it out?

SAM: What if she doesn't trust the people in charge of the city? What if she doesn't, maybe there's someone here that she thinks might be aligned with the evil forces. We are close to this weird temple gate thing, right?

LIAM: She could be starting to wonder who she can trust.

TRAVIS: In one day, that creature can go any direction and cover any amount of distance.

SAM: I feel like if it goes too far out of its cave, that roc is going to find it, and we'll be fine. It's still looking for a meal out there. The roc's going to get it for us.

MATT: Not the bird, the actual performer.

SAM: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

MATT: Yes.

TRAVIS: D.J.'s coming.

LIAM: Fjord, I think it is a gamble. It's not unreasonable.

SAM: What do we do for 23 and a half hours now? Should we walk around and look at all the people who might die tomorrow?

MARISHA: Do we obey her? Or do we maybe just speak a little loudly? A little more loudly than we should at the pub tonight.

TRAVIS: I'm a fan of educating these innocent individuals that may be incurring the wrath of a giant laughing death machine. If we don't give 'em a heads up, maybe wander out and give it a look.

SAM: We don't have to say the Laughing Hand is coming, we can say, “Oh, I heard some crazy monsters be coming!”

TRAVIS: Yep. Sure.

SAM: Better hide your kids!

TRAVIS: Yep, hide your wife.

LAURA: So in case she already doesn't trust us enough, we are definitely going to do something she specifically said not to do.

SAM: How about we just walk around and get a lay of the land? Maybe these people aren't worth saving, we haven't even met them yet. They could all be assholes or something.

LAURA: I mean, honestly, I don't give a fuck who we are with. I don't care if it's the Empire. I don't care if it's Xhorhas. I don't care.

TRAVIS: I mean, what does matter? What if these men have families who are out there in danger? What if what we could say could help?

LIAM: What if we don't fully understand what's going on right now?

MARISHA: Well, I would be willing to lay money down on that one, that we don't.

TRAVIS: I'll take that.

LIAM: So let's not go off half-cocked.

TALIESIN: “Half-cocked,” I like that.

MARISHA: Caduceus.

TALIESIN: Yeah?

MARISHA: You're a good guy.

TALIESIN: Thanks.

TALIESIN: What would a good guy do?

TALIESIN: I'm so tired right now.

SAM: We just woke up.

TALIESIN: Ah, it's been a long day.

MARISHA: You said you don't feel like a bad guy.

TALIESIN: I don't.

MARISHA: You didn't do anything wrong,

we didn't do anything wrong.

TALIESIN: We didn't.

MARISHA: Is a good guy loyal to a queen or is a good guy loyal to protecting citizens?

LAURA: Should I scry on Yasha?

TALIESIN: Ooh, that's a question.

TRAVIS: We're certainly going to be hanging around for most of the day.

TALIESIN: Let's wait till the end of the day.

LAURA: What if maybe she's, you know, still in the cave? What if her and the Laughing Hand haven't even gotten out and then we don't have to warn anyone.

TALIESIN: What if they see you?

LAURA: Can they do that?

TALIESIN: Of course they can do that.

LAURA: Well then, she'll know she's not alone there and it's okay.

TALIESIN: I don't know if it's entirely her right now.

TRAVIS: Do it, Jester.

TALIESIN: Sometimes it's okay to not know what's happening. And when you don't know what's happening, it's all right to sometimes submit to somebody with a higher perspective. I follow a higher perspective as often as I can and right now we're being offered a slightly more mortal, higher perspective. If we had information that contradicted it, if we had other ideas, I would say that's one thing, but simply just deciding that authority should be disavowed because it's authority seems reckless. That's the only problem anyone really has with her at this point.

SAM: I think you're right. Having information would help, so I would be okay with you checking in on Yasha.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: I'll try it.

MATT: Okay. You're ready to perform a scry ritual on Yasha.

LAURA: A fucking 5th-level spell early in the morning.

(laughter)

MATT: Strangely enough, that's exactly the incantation you require to scry.

(laughter)

Okay. Your neck still has a little crick in it from how you slept the night before, as you sit there and prepare your scry ritual, here in the warm interior of the elevated, attic space. You feel a cold breeze pass over your shoulders as that familiar sense of the Traveler with you. Leans forward and says, “Let's see what she's doing.” Then you feel his hands go over your eyes and a darkness peek-a-boo type sensation as his fingers pull back. You're now looking within a darker cavern. You can see Yasha sitting on her knees, eyes closed, meditating. Similar to how you are when you scry, but not the same type of ritual. You watch over her quietly for a few minutes and there's a bit of light under her chin. A reddish-orange firelight. It flickers. Brighter. And brighter. You try and glance under the periphery of that scope of the scry position. You can see that flame blurred, but growing brighter and brighter before it manages to flash (whooshing) Yasha opens her eyes, you can see the dead stare. Intense. The clenched jaw turns into a grin. You see a red skinned hand come out from where the flame was that touches her shoulder, and a voice say, “Very good. Thank you for your patience. Now, this has been one fine reunion. Let's go see if we can find the others.” Then he turns around and begins to walk away. She stands up and begins to follow. As the end of the scry spell's length begins to peter out, you can hear the (thumping) looming footsteps of the Laughing Hand. At which point, the fingers curl once more around your eyes and you feel them pull back and you find yourself once more within the store's elevated floor. The Traveler, pulling away, just gently whispering, “We should talk, it's been a bit.”

(blowing)

SAM: Did you see where she was?

LAURA: I didn't see where she was.

TALIESIN: Was it outdoors, indoors?

LAURA: (tearfully) What if she was bad, you guys, what if she was bad the whole time?

SAM: I mean...

LAURA: (crying)

TALIESIN: She wasn't.

SAM: I'm not sure.

LAURA: She brought him back!

MARISHA: What?

LAURA: That guy, Obann, he's back. He's back. They're going to find their friends or something.

MARISHA: I give Jester a hug.

LIAM: We don't know. There's just too much we don't know, we did not know her entirely. Maybe she's beyond saving. Jester, we didn't know.

MARISHA: You sure he's back?

LAURA: He's back, I saw him. He came out of a fire, I don't know, he's--

LIAM: DM, through reading about history and the arcane, would Caleb know if a feller like that would just be able to respawn like my fae cat?

MATT: I would say from your experience and studies, and actually you having some religious studies as well for that time. Are you trained in, yes you are. Certain fiends, usually of considerable power, who either are oriented or began on one of the various outer planes, whether it be the Abyss, the Nine Hells, or have become bound to it strongly, can only truly be killed when on their home plane. Otherwise, their death is a temporary convenience. When they recorporate on their home plane and depending on their capabilities, are able to return relatively quickly.

LIAM: So it's clear that he lost his flesh suit, went home, and saw when he returned.

MATT: More or less.

LIAM: Based on his story.

TALIESIN: We didn't actually kill him.

SAM: Did you see any details of where she was, like in the cave, indoors, outdoors?

LAURA: It was dark.

MATT: It was dark, it looked, so there weren't any defining characteristics of it. It looked familiar, similar to the same location that you'd been trudging through. From best that you can tell, because it looked more earthen and opened, it wasn't part of the King's Cage interior itself. In the time that you were resting for the evening, they've traveled nearer to the entrance.

TALIESIN: Oh.

LAURA: They're still in the cave, though, I bet.

TALIESIN: Oh, they're coming here.

SAM: Or something.

TALIESIN: No, they're coming here.

SAM: Well no, he said--

LAURA: He said he was going to find his friends.

TALIESIN: I know. They're coming here.

MARISHA: How do you feel about that authority now?

TALIESIN: Well, now we have information.

MARISHA: I've never been one to really respect the perspective of authority, I've always trusted my own perspective.

TRAVIS: Think we knew that about you.

TALIESIN: Which is why I'm so complimented that you take the time to respect my opinion on the matter.

MARISHA: I'm trying. I'm getting better.

TALIESIN: We now have new information.

SAM: The Bazzoxan, Bazzoxan is connected to, mountains that are some sort of temple.

MATT: On the mountain range here, the Penumbra Range, this northern side of it. Bazzoxan is built around what's referred to as the Umbra Gates. It was an old temple from the Calamity, that was attempted to be retrofitted when they were building the city, and then discovered that elements of its deep interior still had connections to the Abyss.

TRAVIS: Underground tunnels underneath...

TALIESIN: So they're the main--

SAM: So they're probably going there.

TALIESIN: The main door is how far away from us right now?

MATT: From where you are right now in the Ready Room, I'd say about close to 1,000 feet, if not more?

SAM: Why don't we go there? Check it out.

TALIESIN: The door that's about to crack open when this thing comes out of it.

SAM: No no no, what thing?

TALIESIN: It's where they're heading. It's the main door.

SAM: Yes, where they're going to.

TALIESIN: Is 1,000 feet from us right now.

SAM: Yeah, let's go there and see how, let's see how well secured it is.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'm on board. I'm down.

TALIESIN: I kind of want to tell people to leave, to be honest.

SAM: We've seen it, we haven't seen it.

TALIESIN: We did, didn't we?

MATT: You saw it from a distance, but you didn't approach it.

SAM: We haven't been there, we don't know what it is.

TRAVIS: Big bad that shit under there, big bad shit.

TALIESIN: That's going to be here any minute.

TRAVIS: Uh-huh. Well, it'll take a hot second for them to get here.

TALIESIN: They've been traveling all--

SAM: No, she just scryed on them, they're still in the cave. They're five miles away inside the cave.

LAURA: No no no, the cave probably connects the whole way.

SAM: That's still five miles away.

TALIESIN: They've been walking.

SAM: Okay.

MARISHA: Because there was another passage.

LAURA: To the doorway.

TRAVIS: I thought it had caved in on one side, near the entrance and then--

MATT: It caved in and then the other seemed to eventually trail off into a very, very extensive slope.

TRAVIS: Oh, we didn't go that way.

MATT: No, because it seemed to go beyond a 45 degree angle.

TRAVIS: Fuck shit balls.

SAM: So Caduceus, you're saying this thing might come out of this cavern and you think we should just run away before it does.

TALIESIN: I think it is going to come out of this cavern and I'm--

SAM: Don't want to warn anyone?

TALIESIN: I'm happy to warn people.

SAM: You just want to run away.

TALIESIN: What do you want to do?

SAM: I want to go to see what it is. We don't even know what this portal is, it could be heavily fortified.

TALIESIN: It is heavily fortified.

SAM: We haven't been there!

TALIESIN: We've seen it from a distance, but we can go look.

LAURA: We need to tell them not to puncture the Laughing Hand. Not to hit him, or cause him any bodily harm.

MARISHA: Realistically, none of these people should probably even fight Obann and the Laughing Hand. They should just let them go.

TRAVIS: Yep.

MARISHA: We also don't want to send warnings, saying, “Hey, shit's coming,” and then send a bunch of soldiers to their death who are under prepared.

LIAM: This Obann, whoever he is, he is a being of significant power, if he was able to return immediately, almost. This is beyond these people's dealing, probably. The Bright Queen and her echelons should be focusing on this. I know that it feels wrong to keep these people in the dark, but both our relationship with her and her ability with us to address the situation could be compromised in ways that we cannot predict, if we set this place abuzz.

TRAVIS: So real simple question, okay? Show of hands. Obey the Bright Queen, yes or no? No means we go check out the gate, we go to the kiln, we do anything else, we go back. Do we obey the Bright Queen, raise your hand.

SAM: Yes.

TALIESIN: It's too big.

SAM: I don't think that--

TRAVIS: Majority wins, we're going back.

SAM: Sure, we still have a day. We could walk over to the gate and just look at it. I don't know why--

TALIESIN: We can walk over, look at it, but I would want to get out of town real quick.

TRAVIS: Sure, you think we're coming back?

LAURA: The gate is right here in the city.

SAM: It's 1,000 feet away, we can just walk over and just look and then--

TRAVIS: Oh, I thought you meant once it goes.

LAURA: No no no, the gate that opens up onto the city where they probably will exit and kill everyone in the town.

TRAVIS: So let's do it.

MATT: All right. You guys gather your things, you exit the Ready Room, head out into the warm– You've all been sweating a bit, even this early in the morning, it's uncomfortable. You head out into the bright sun, you can see some of the guards, specifically the drow are trying to jump from awning to awning to basically just stay out of the light as much as possible. You do notice that the guard presence is increasing. There is movement. There are soldiers that are now starting to work towards the perimeter of the city. You do see there seems to be a little more liveliness based on the lazier morning that you first were keeping an eye on, Fjord. As you approach, you do see the gargantuan set of black doors, hewn from dark stone, inlaid with copper and silver details. They're closed, seemingly sealed. The large barricade of steel rigging that has been bolted across the entirety of the entryway in a large cross, criss-cross. A smaller temporary entrance is closely guarded to the right of this massive, impressive gateway. You can see right now it looks to be probably close to three dozen soldiers are currently stationed directly around the gate in that smaller entranceway. You can see there are numerous bridges that are bolted up that eventually climb up, meeting other very sheer stairways that are partially pushing out of the cliff face that meet the base of other portions of the stone and rock that then transform into smaller towers, portions of this ancient temple that was built within the side of this mountain. As you guys approach, you can see soldiers arming up, just taking a perimeter on the gate as well. As you begin to walk, one of them you can see is a hefty bugbear wearing a breastplate adorned similarly to the general Kryn armor designs that you're used to seeing approaches and goes, “Halt, sorry. There's no one close to the gate today.”

LAURA: What's happening at the gate today?

MATT: “We got word from the Bright Queen to keep an eye.”

SAM: There you go.

LAURA: Oh, okay.

SAM: Because of danger?

MATT: “No specifics, but we were notified of possible flare-ups and incursions.”

LAURA: All right, all right.

SAM: When was the last incursion?

MATT: “Oh, incursions happen almost weekly here.”

LAURA: When did the Bright Ween-- Queen send word?

MATT: “I'm uncertain specifically--“

LAURA: Because I said the Bright Ween. It was funny.

(laughter)

MATT: Very different NPC. Her name-- long may he reign.

(laughter)

MATT: “I got my orders about maybe a half an hour ago.”

LAURA: Okay okay okay okay. Okay.

LIAM: Excuse me, I also have a question for you.

MATT: When you make yourself known, Caleb, the--

LIAM: Pulling out the necklace as I say that.

MATT: Okay. The bugbear goes into a defensive stance and looks at you with a glare and then looks over the symbol you hold out and still remains defensive and untrusting, but doesn't seem to make any aggressive action.

LIAM: Yeah, I know it is highly odd. This happens a lot. Just a quick question and we'll be out of your hair. I imagine people are able to travel here quickly from Rosohna, if need be. Do you know of or can you send me to anyone to inquire after a teleportation circle here. Does one exist?

MATT: “Not within Bazzoxan, no. Those are usually relegated to the bigger city. We're just an outpost these days. My apologies.” And just keeps staring at you, confused by both the question and what the hell is a human with a Zemnian accent holding the symbol of the Bright Queen out here in the middle of the Barbed Fields.

TRAVIS: I'll take out my Bright Queen symbol as well, and say we are here to assist her in her efforts. She's very useful to us. I know, not normally welcome, but we mean well.

MATT: “All right. Well, anyway. We have to go about our business. If there's anything-- you see anything funny, just make sure to tell one of the soldiers nearby.”

SAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: Do you have magical defenses against things that come out of there, or is it just armed guards?

MATT: “No, we have all sorts of defenses. Not my specialty. I'm more in the infantry units here at the front of the gate, but we have all sorts.” And he begins to point, and you can see now areas where these ladders have been situated and bolted in those cliff faces, as he is pointing up in the region you can see there are soldiers that have these large, intricate-looking ballista. For as far as the weaponry and how it's designed, it doesn't appear to be just a standard type of ballista, it has some strange, like a blueish crystalline tube that is put in towards the front and the individuals that are currently manning it are assembling some sort of ammunition that you don't recognize.

LIAM: Do they look like Waccoh design?

MATT: From what you've seen, it could very well be the case.

MARISHA: About how many men are stationed?

MATT: Right now since you've arrived, and a few more have come, there're now probably about 40 or so soldiers that are right here outside of the gate. Including the ones, that's maybe like ten of those? It's 30 at the front, and then 10 that are up on the face of the main gate. You don't know how many are further up on the cliff face and there are others that are part of taking the perimeter around the city, as well as a secondary force behind this front line.

TRAVIS: Are we good here?

TALIESIN: I am.

SAM: Yes, helpful. Guess we'll just go get a drink and wait out the next 22 hours?

TALIESIN: I'd like to get on the road.

TRAVIS: I think we're teleporting.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I don't know if I want to spend a day here.

LAURA: What if they come out and then we die anyway?

SAM: If they come out, Yasha would be with them and I would want to be here.

LAURA: They come out, we just fight them some more.

TRAVIS: If they come out, they come out.

LAURA: They come out. They come out of the doorway.

TALIESIN: Of course they're going to come out of the doorway.

LAURA: And we kick their ass.

TALIESIN: That's not...

SAM: There's a chance that we could grab Yasha and run, if there was a melee.

MARISHA: But she's not Yasha anymore.

TALIESIN: All right now--

MARISHA: We have to stop referring to her like she hasn't become something else.

TALIESIN: Getting her back is going to require more than just grabbing her.

LAURA: Right now, she is definitely the Orphan Maker.

TALIESIN: Right now, it's just a... It's just a death trap. I think we've got to leave. If we've any hope of saving her, we got to leave.

TRAVIS: We can't get there any faster, right? Caleb, you're not– you can't do your thing till tomorrow, right?

LIAM: No, I need to study. I'm sorry.

TRAVIS: No no.

TALIESIN: Well, I think if we're here, I think they're going to attack. They're going to see us and we're going to become a target.

LAURA: Maybe you should just, you know, stick that dagger or something in the doorway there and then we can leave.

SAM: Sure.

LAURA: Give a little extra protection or something.

SAM: Seems like there's more than one door, right? There's a big door and then a small door.

TALIESIN: Probably just--

MATT: The small door is more of an entryway that's guarded. You don't see an actual door, though you're not sure if there's one further in. It's mostly blocked off, from what you can see from this distance. The large door, and it's two heavy, heavy doors, standing about, I'd say close to 30 feet tall, bottom to top. There's detailing in the sculpture on the doors. You see a scene of somewhat abstract action, like shapes comprised of bones and faces, and creature-like forms ranging from human to animal, all twisted across the surface. Looks like a sizable chunk of this bottom region has been defaced and chiseled away, like an attempt to remove a design left abandoned, partially.

TRAVIS: Any sort of imagery that we would recognize?

MATT: You can make an arcana or religion check.

TALIESIN: I'll get in on that.

TRAVIS: Me, too.

LAURA: Doo doe, doo doe.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: 10.

LIAM: 25 arcana.

LAURA: One!

TRAVIS: 15.

MATT: What did you get then, Caleb?

SAM: 25.

MATT: 25, all right. Fjord and Caleb.

TALIESIN: Wow.

MATT: You guys recognize that the depiction of this door represents a demon lord from the Abyss, specifically the massive bestial body of the Horned King, Baphomet. He appears to be walking along a broken land, an army of malformed creatures swarming around him. A long, snakelike creature borders the doors with a single arm protruding from the right side, just above the ruined portion of the relief where it's all broken and carved away in a 15-foot section, end to end.

TRAVIS: (whimper) No. Oh fucking shit.

LIAM: Do we know any more detail on Baphomet? Other than that's who this is depicted.

MATT: I mean, as one of the demon lords, generally the master of beasts and beast form demons and such, I can give you a more detailed run-down later via email. Yeah, give you some more-- with a 25, you get a little more of a rundown on that, so I'll send that to you.

TRAVIS: Can I propose something?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

SAM: Yeah!

TRAVIS: If we can't teleport until tomorrow, and as much as we would love to get on the road, it's not going to close the distance that much more. If these poor fucks are actually going to be on the other side of this door when that shit comes through, I would at least like to tell them to run or not cut into the thing or whatever. Maybe nothing happens and maybe we stay. Maybe we just need to see what plays out either way. We should stay here until we're ready to go in the morning and just see what happens. Best case scenario, nothing does, and we're out lickety-split. We're going back to the Bright Queen and seeing what's what. But if it comes through, we could save lives.

LIAM: What if, then, as a compromise, one of us, yourself, who are good at disguising ourselves. You are the perfect choice because of your knack for accents. Slip into the barracks and disguise as one of the guards. Or whatever shithole passes as a tavern here. You spread the rumor that this is the big one, the worst that you've heard of. Then that way, it just starts among the soldiers here.

TRAVIS: I'd be okay with that.

LAURA: A whisper campaign.

SAM: We're good at those!

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Worked last time.

LAURA: Totally, every time it's always worked.

SAM: Oh, were you around?

TALIESIN: I probably was, I just don't remember.

(laughter)

SAM: We said there was ghosts on the pier.

TALIESIN: There were ghosts on the pier?

LAURA: Oh that's-- yeah.

TALIESIN: Haunted pier.

LAURA: Yeah. Yeah, you want to do it, Fjord?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'd be fine with that.

TALIESIN: Miss that haunted pier.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: Okay, so--

SAM: Is there a tavern around?

MATT: There... is...

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: (sighs) I feel like I'm going to throw up.

MATT: Actually, the closest thing there is to a tavern in this vicinity is the Ready Room. Aside from the actual military barracks itself. Like, most of this city--

TALIESIN: Worst town ever.

MATT: It's pretty rough.

TRAVIS: This thing's about to be wiped from the bucket list.

TALIESIN: This is Blythe, California. For the three viewers in Blythe, I apologize, you have one good restaurant and you know you've only got one good restaurant.

MARISHA: I have a terrible feeling about this.

SAM: Do we want to go in the barracks then?

TALIESIN: I know I got caught there once.

TRAVIS: If you want me to meet you back in the tav– the Ready Room, I'll be back in just a bit.

SAM: I think we want to stay around here in case we see some action, right?

TRAVIS: I'll find my way back.

LAURA: Just sit here in the road.

MATT: You guys are taking the day, just keeping an eye on the--

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: The Umbra Gates and the whole Penumbra Range visage before you.

LAURA: Set up a sad little picnic on the side of the road.

MATT and LAURA: The saddest little Jester picnic.

TRAVIS: We have our medallions, we know Professor Waccoh and maybe we can find out what that munition is they're using.

SAM: Kay.

TRAVIS: Just in case that helps.

SAM: You want to go ask around?

LAURA: Uh, sure. Should I be a soldier, too?

SAM: Yes.

LAURA: Okay. I'll do that, too. I'll find a place to hide and turn into a soldier.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Same.

SAM: I'm going to go looking for crossbow bolts.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Because I have eight.

MATT: Okay, fair enough.

MARISHA: I want to stay looking at the gate, but also pay attention to the weather.

MATT: Got it. Good to know, okay. Taking this in order, you're going for your search for crossbow bolts. Go ahead and make a stealth check.

SAM: Stealth. I'm not trying to steal them, though.

MATT: Oh, okay. SAM: I'm trying to go buy them.

TALIESIN: Whoa!

MATT: Okay, I misunderstood.

TALIESIN: New character development!

(laughter)

MATT: I apologize for assuming.

SAM: I would steal them if I knew, I don't even know where to go that they would have it.

LAURA: I'm going to steal them, I just need to.

MATT: Well, the Ready Room, when you were there last. Like the upper floor is a makeshift hostel. The lower floor is a massive general store. It's like a warehouse that's comprised as like a, whatever you need, we got it, kind of a feel.

LAURA: Oh, right, for very expensive prices.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Well, varying. They do have crossbow bolts for sale if you want to purchase them.

SAM: I'll just go buy some.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: (hiccups)

MATT: Hello. Mmm.

TALIESIN: That's exactly the sound he makes, too.

MATT: It breaks stealth every time. Okay, so just looking real fast for crossbow bolts.

LAURA: I renamed it.

MATT: Bolts...

SAM: Oh no, I have five left.

MATT: Oh, shit. I'm going to say just for the sake of... There we go, I found it, I found it!

We'll say for 20 of them, it's two gold.

SAM: I'll take 80.

MATT: There you go.

LAURA: That's right, it's the Ruddy Poon now.

TRAVIS: The Ruddy Poon?

LAURA: Yeah, I changed the name on the sign, remember?

MATT: Yep, and I do not believe anybody has noticed or has taken the time to--

SAM and TRAVIS: Or cares.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: I do like that name better.

(laughter)

MATT: All right. All right, perception check for you. If you don't mind, Beauregard.

MARISHA: Yeah? See what happens. Perception check?

MATT: Yes.

MARISHA: Oh, it was almost a natural 20.

MATT: Okay, so 11 will be you're keeping a watch on both the weather and just the general front of the gate.

TALIESIN: Oh, that's true.

MATT: Jester.

LAURA: Yes.

MATT: What are you doing?

LAURA: I'm going to look like, are there any, there's no goblins here, it's what, it's mostly drow and what?

MARISHA: (sneezes)

MATT: Bless you. Actually, there are, in spending an hour or so looking over the populace, there are, maybe a dozen or so goblins out of the, you know, I'll say couple hundred people that you've seen over the past hour.

LAURA: I feel like that would be--

MATT: So they're present, but they're not, you know.

LAURA: They're not common.

MATT: Not primary.

LAURA: I'm just going to make myself into a drow.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Dude. Do I see any female soldiers?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay, then I'll stay as a chick.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Then I'll just have the regular armor on. You know, like a couple, I'm going to braid my hair, it's going to be white.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Okay, and then I'm going to go towards the ballista thingies.

MATT: Okay. You approach, there's a ladder that leads up to one of them. One of the first ones that you saw. It's about a 20 or so foot climb to the platform that it's affixed to.

LAURA: Is there anybody on the ground, or is it--

MATT: There are two soldiers flanking the sides of the ladder.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to walk up to them.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Oh, hello! I see we've got our ballistas ready.

MATT: “We have them prepared, yes.”

LAURA: From good old Waccoh?

MATT: They look at each other. “And you are?”

LAURA: Odd.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Oh no!

MATT: Their eyes narrow in your direction.

TRAVIS: Pick it up!

LAURA: I'm sorry!

TRAVIS: Pick it up!

LAURA: Nancy McFancypants.

SAM: Mm. Mm-hmm. Seems like a real name.

MATT: “Pronounced McFancypants?”

LAURA: Family, uh, family came from the far east.

MATT: “Where do you, where do you hold your position in this soldier brigade?”

LAURA: Uh, I just transferred here from– from Rosohna, actually.

MATT: Make a deception check.

LAURA: Jesus.

TALIESIN: Oh man.

LAURA: Wow, that was actually surprisingly good!

MATT: Really?

(laughter)

They both seem less on guard and more like just, confused and probably a little bit sad that your name happens to be what it is. In an empathetic brow furrow makes its way in your direction. “Well yes, these are our, these are Waccoh's designs, yes.”

LAURA: What do they do again? I just transferred, I don't know anything.

MATT: “As far as I know, they are partially constructed from something they recovered up north, in Eiselcross.”

LAURA: That's pretty- oh. I think that's a pretty magical place.

MATT: “Yeah, it's... It prevents or provides its own ammunition. It shoots variations of arcane attacks.”

LAURA: She's really smart.

MATT: “That's what they tell me. I have not met her in person, but--“

LAURA: I have. She's got one tusk that goes straight into.

MATT: “Interesting. So can we help you?”

LAURA: Oh yeah, I was supposed to operate it. But you know, if you don't want me to or something, I understand.

MATT: “We are...” Make another deception check.

(laughter)

LAURA: Oh no, that one's real bad.

TRAVIS: -- you're trying to fly the jet.

LAURA: Eight?

MATT: He goes, “Uh, while I appreciate your enthusiasm, we have been assigned to handle this particular ballista. However, word is to keep a close eye on the perimeter, so perhaps you are better used maybe on the eastern bank of Bazzoxan.”

LAURA: Perimeter, you got it.

MATT: “Of course, McFancypants.”

LAURA: See you in the battle, that's probably coming. Seriously though, be careful, you guys, because it could be bad and stuff.

MATT: Of course. It always is.

LAURA: All right! Don't shoot anything with a bunch of mouths, okay, goodbye!

(laughter)

MATT: As you turn around, you can hear behind you go, “Who the fuck was that?” “I don't know, but I'm far too sober for this.”

LAURA: I learned so much.

SAM: Yes, you did.

MATT: All righty. Caduceus, you doing anything?

TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah, I'm doing a couple things. I'm actually, if I've got a minute. I'm going to cast Legend Lore.

MATT: Legend Lore, okay. On what?

TALIESIN: That ridiculous two pieces of sword that I have.

MATT: Oh, okay, do you have the material components for it?

TALIESIN: Yes I do. It's a lot of weird ivory and--

MATT: Okay, let me get out my notes on this one.

TALIESIN: Ivory and weird bits– incense I had to pick up for that.

MATT: Okay. Where are you going to do this ritual?

TALIESIN: I see all of this happening. I'm going to go back up into the room for a minute, sit down, set up, make a little setup, put the sword in front of me, and maybe hopefully get a glimpse as to what I'm supposed to do next. I have some theories and I just want to see if I'm on the right track.

MATT: Okay, you go ahead and get partway through it and you hear, climbing up the ladder that leads to the second point, you see this middle aged, big bushy bearded orc comes up and goes, “You look like you're in the middle of something.”

TALIESIN: Thaumaturgy, I'm going to turn in just the blackest eyes.

MATT: “I'm going to leave you to it.” He just like slowly leaves the chamber.

TALIESIN: Close doors.

(laughter)

MATT: The hatch (whooshes) slaps over. All right. As you complete the ritual, the smell of the incense mingling with this sweat-dried wood around you on the floor here. It fills your nose, your eyes sting, and the warmth overtakes you, not the heat but the warmth. A familiar comfort. At which point you don't hear a voice, but a series of images and emotions convey what seems like a montage of moments through time, through history. The best that you can, that your brain, that your mind can interpret these images, say: “This blade was once known as Dwueth'var, the Star Razor.”

LAURA: Write it down, write it down!

MATT: You can see the blade now before you set upon a stone tablet, glowing with runes across the center of it. “A weapon forged through a union of two acolytes of Melora and Sehanine, during the Age of Arcanum. It carries the blessing of the fiercest full moon and starlit night. Recovered by the elves and dwarves of Uthodurn, it was reforged and strengthened under the skilled work of the dwarven smith, Dulgrim Smeltborne, before it was sundered in a terrible battle deep within the ruins of Molaesmyr, within the Savalirwood. The pieces have since been recovered as historical relics, trading hands through traveling merchants and smugglers and lost through time.”

TALIESIN: Until now.

MATT: At that point, the visions subside.

TRAVIS: That'll do.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: We're going to the kiln.

(whispering)

Going to the kiln.

TRAVIS: Savalirwood.

MARISHA: Elves of Uthadorn?

TRAVIS: Uthodurn.

MATT: The Savalirwood is the forest in which you grew up.

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: Oh.

MATT: In the Greying Wildlands.

LAURA: Oh! It's meant for you.

TALIESIN: I don't think it's meant for me.

LAURA: It's maybe meant for somebody else.

(laughter)

LAURA: I don't, don't, don't. Dwueth'var, Dwueth'var?

TALIESIN: I'm going to be the jerk who just watches the playback on Monday and then writes it down.

LAURA: Actually, that's smarter. I'm going to be the jerk that just looks at CritRoleStats.

MATT: Here, I'll spell it for you because I'm sure people will want clarification as well,

D-W-U-E-T-H, apostrophe V-A-R, because that's how Elvish works.

TALIESIN and LAURA: Yeah!

TRAVIS: V-A-R?

MATT: D-W-U-E-T-H, apostrophe, V-A-R.

TRAVIS: V as in Viktor.

LAURA: Yes.

SAM: I'm pretty sure I'm still spelling it wrong.

MATT: That's fine. Dwueth'var, the Star Razor.

SAM: Great.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Your ritual is complete.

TALIESIN: That was an expensive thing but it was worth it.

LAURA: Did you just use your 5th-level?

TALIESIN: Yep, that was my 5th-level.

SAM: Worth it.

TALIESIN: Yep.

MATT: All righty.

TALIESIN: That was so expensive.

LAURA: I'm going to make my way back to Beau.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Beau.

MARISHA: What happened?

LAURA: I did such a bad job. I mean, I learned that that thing was like, okay, it was Waccoh, yeah, and it uses magical ammunition and they got the supplies from the north which I think is interesting, that's where we want to go for the kiln, right? So isn't it supposed to be like some place really like--

MARISHA: Maybe super magical or something. The elves live there, right?

LAURA: Yeah, maybe it's elven or something.

MARISHA: Yeah, that's interesting. But what do you mean you did bad?

LAURA: Like I don't know, like I was all over the place with my accent, Fjord would've been so disappointed in me.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Well--

LAURA: Like I could see it in their face, and then I almost said my name was Drowy McFancypants and then I realized that I shouldn't say and so I said Nancy?

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Drowy?

LAURA: That was seriously what I--

MARISHA: Wait, but you still kept the McFancypants part, you were Nancy McFancypants?

(laughter)

Is that what it was?

TALIESIN: Oh my god, it's so much better when you say it.

LAURA: Wait, is the McFancypants part the bad part, I thought Nancy was.

MARISHA: Oh, I don't... You know, is there a long lineage of Fancypants in the region?

LAURA: I don't know, that's always just the name that I went with, is that not? Maybe I should not go with that one.

MARISHA: I feel like I had a clown come to my birthday once that was named something McFancypants, so I don't know.

LAURA: So it's been said before?

MARISHA: By no one taken seriously.

LAURA: Oh.

MARISHA: But it's been a long week.

LAURA: It has.

MARISHA: And you shouldn't be hard on yourself, and you especially shouldn't be hard on yourself for not doing accents. You know, like Fjord's thing. All these accents.

LIAM: Those are hard.

MARISHA: They are, you know. You have amazing other qualities to your voice that are very unique.

LAURA: Thank you?

MARISHA: Uh-huh. You did fine.

LAURA: Thanks, Beau.

MARISHA: Now also, you know you don't... You don't need Fjord's approval to be amazing, right, you know you're great, right? Do you need his validation?

LAURA: Well, no, no. It's just you know, it's like if I punched somebody and I did like a really good job, I would look at you and I would want you to think it was good.

MARISHA: Sure.

LAURA: Or if I did a really bad job, I would hope you didn't see because you know, you're really good at punching people.

MARISHA: Yeah, you know, that's--

LAURA: I mean, you're good at a lot of other things too, Beau. That's just the, you know you're like (growls) you're really good at punching things.

MARISHA: Oh, I'm super proud that punching things is pretty much my best asset. Yeah.

(laughter)

No, that was a deep compliment, thank you. Yeah, you just... The reason our group works is because we're each really good at different things.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Caduceus is the only one good at being good. So that's his thing that he is good at.

LAURA: He's really good at it.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: I don't know if I agree with his views on authority.

(laughter)

LAURA: Really?

MARISHA: I know. I know.

LAURA: Thanks, Beau.

MARISHA: Hey, I– I know you're taking this Yasha thing hard and the truth is, I am, too. I just, you know.

LAURA: Are better at hiding it.

MARISHA: I'm sure it'll come out in a terrible way here later on. Trust issues. Abandonment. Yeah, you know, it's you know, it all taps into so many of my issues.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah.

MARISHA: Anyway, it's not a sandstorm yet.

LAURA: The wind is--

MARISHA: The wind is--

LAURA: Windy.

(whistling)

MARISHA: I had this, this... last night, when the storm was kicking up. It was like I was only half sleeping because I kept waiting for lightning. Like, something would– I don't know.

LAURA: Like save her?

MARISHA: Yeah. Yeah.

LAURA: What if we can, like, find a way to talk to the Stormlord or something and he can break through? He's more powerful than anything else, right?

MARISHA: Remember that fight she had with that thing?

LAURA: Lightning thingie on the boat?

MARISHA: Lightning thing on the boat?

LAURA: Yeah, yeah.

MARISHA: I don't know, maybe you're right, but... Maybe there's something to that.

LAURA: Yeah. I'll talk to the Traveler. See if he's got any advice.

MARISHA: When were you supposed to connect with him again? That's a thing that's happening, right?

LAURA: Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah.

MARISHA: Days blur together.

LAURA: It's coming up. I need to talk to him.

MARISHA: Have you not talked to him in a while?

LAURA: I mean, no no no, I've talked to him some, you know, just not as maybe I have in the past. Should go talk to him. Yeah.

MARISHA: (sighs)

LAURA: I'm going to wander away.

MATT: All right, so while this is transpiring, Caleb, anything you're wanting to handle or just...

LIAM: I was just eavesdropping on all that.

MATT: Okay, got it.

LIAM: I didn't go anywhere, I was just standing there.

MATT: Makes sense. Checks out.

TALIESIN: There was a clown in Whitestone by the way, by the name of Sarah McShinyshorts. So you were not far off. Well, that is a thing. That's canon.

LIAM: In fact, in fact, after a pause after Jester walked away, I'll just toss out to Beauregard.

MARISHA: Uh, I forgot you were standing there. Sorry.

LIAM: Yeah, that happens. Caduceus is not the only one who's good.

MARISHA: You talking about me?

LIAM: You shit on yourself a lot, yeah, I am. You shit on yourself a lot and I see you do good day after day, so there's a little bit of dissonance there.

MARISHA: Old opinions die hard, I guess.

LIAM: I am slightly--

MARISHA: Is that what they say, that's what they say, right? Whatever.

LIAM: Slightly nervous about the nuke. Slightly. We had a lot of different hopes and dreams. And we are swimming a fast-moving current right now. I think there's strength in this group, I really want this group to hold. I think you and Fjord, actually, are very good at holding the group together.

MARISHA: You know, when my father wanted me to take over the business, he was a piece of shit, but something that he said has been sticking out in my head here lately. I don't know if he ever followed his own advice, but he said try and hire people who don't agree with you all the time. Surround yourself with people with different opinions. I think, I think I would be concerned if everyone agreed with Fjord and I, and I would be very concerned if everyone agreed with Caduceus.

LIAM: Well, I argue with you all the time.

MARISHA: At least that means we're strong in our own thoughts and opinions. Not easily swayed.

LIAM: I worry that Yasha splintering off will fracture the whole and I think we need to try to find a way to meet everyone's needs. We need to visit this kiln. We have to get Nott's family to safety somehow. Make sure that Jester's mother is safe. Make sure that Fjord is okay, I guess. Then we have all this stuff happening very fast and then we're going to have a lot of mud thrown in our face tomorrow, probably. What am I getting at? Keep being good at good. Keep being good at being good. You help people, you know, whether you realize it or not. That's it.

MARISHA: Thanks, Caleb. You're not too bad yourself. Like, most of the time. It's like 10 percent that you're, you know. It's debatable.

LIAM: Is the 10 percent is when I am doing well or poorly?

MARISHA: Don't read too much into it.

(laughter)

MATT: All right.

LIAM: Let's just stop talking.

MATT: All right, perfect. While that's transpiring, Fjord. What are you doing?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'll find my way over, I guess, then to a dark shadow or corner or alley or behind a building and– in all the time that we've been in the Dynasty, different plumage and decorations of the soldiers.

MATT: Correct.

TRAVIS: Is there any way to differentiate between what might constitute an officer?

MATT: Yes.

TRAVIS: And what might constitute a sergeant? More of an enlisted man. Someone that works for--

TALIESIN: A floral crown.

MATT: No, officers tend to have a cape over one shoulder. Not necessarily over the shoulder, but one part of the shoulder armor itself will carry a capelet that bends behind, generally in purples and blues with gold trim. You're not sure what the positioning is, you don't have enough knowledge about the Dynasty to know what different color and designs differentiate between the different positions but you have seen those that speak with authority and usually are the heads of various groups of soldiers, both in the field and in Bazzoxan and in Rosohna seem to have this capelet.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: Over one arm and shoulder.

TRAVIS: Have I also seen maybe couriers or message carriers of this service, not somebody that would be wearing the same standard full plate or armor that's someone of infantry position, but maybe someone that's a little more lightly armored to carry a message or...

MATT: I would say, make a, make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Okay. 16.

MATT: 16. I'll say, because you've been keeping watch for a good part of the day, and looking out here, you have seen what essentially are informational runners that will, especially in this time, where everyone's starting to gear up for the Bright Queen's seeming warning, you've seen some lighter-armored individuals that will be rushing from segment to segment to, you know, troop to troop around the city to deliver. You can see similar designs, but nothing like the full heavy pauldrons, full chest armor. It's mainly leathers with similar coloration and what looks to be like a, like a circlet head frame as opposed to an actual helmet.

TRAVIS: I will use Mask of Many Faces to disguise myself as more of a courier-type bugbear individual.

MATT: Okay, big old furry bugbear.

TRAVIS: I will locate the barracks. Is there anyone outside the entrance to the barracks standing guard?

MATT: There are a handful of barracks here. In keeping watch around there, there's a few that are pretty well-guarded. It looks like some buildings here have been retrofitted into barracks and there's one that's currently still being expanded and constructed as more soldiers are sent northward, just over time, to Bazzoxan. You do find, like every now and then, every 15 or so minutes, there might be a period of time where nobody's directly at the front.

TRAVIS: Okay. I will try and locate someone standing guard at the barracks not wearing the plumage of an officer.

MATT: Okay. I'll say within an hour, you find somebody.

TRAVIS: I'll walk up and I will say: Can I have your ear for a moment, please?

MATT: Okay, as you approach, the one that you see here is an armored ogre who currently has this large great club that's affixed through a leather strap on the side. It's hanging and digging this groove in the ground where he's been walking but it's currently just resting there at the side. Big, giant, quadruple chin that seems to remove any semblance of a neck, the head just resting between two shoulders. Large belly, armored, and glances over as you approach and he goes, “Yeah?”

TRAVIS: I am sorry, I have been traveling all day. Is there someone in these barracks that speaks for the men? No, not an officer, someone that looks out for the new and inexperienced.

MATT: “Yeah, it could be me.”

(laughter)

SAM: Yes!

TRAVIS: Great. I come with a message from the Bright Queen, sorry.

MATT: “Bright Queen?”

TRAVIS: Yes.

MATT: “(chuckles) All right!”

TRAVIS: I work for her at the Den Bilan, the security detail and I bring an urgent message of a danger out here. I delivered it to the gate, but as it was being read, it sounded, it sounded most dangerous indeed.

MATT: “All right.”

TRAVIS: I worry that its words might not find the right ears.

MATT: “Kay.”

TRAVIS: There is a great danger that is coming this way. A creature. It carries a blade on its arm and if engaged, will... Are you getting all of this?

MATT: “It's got a blade in its arm and it's coming this way.”

(laughter)

“Right?”

TRAVIS: Yes. For Bazzoxan.

MATT: “Got it. Got it, lickity-split.”

(laughter)

TRAVIS: If you could, spread word to the men that further damage to this creature makes it more powerful, amplifies its ability to drive men mad, make them flee.

MATT: “Spreadin' the word. Makin' all the men mad. Got it.”

TRAVIS: Thank you, I feel much better knowing this message has reached sound and responsible ears.

MATT: “Don't worry, little fuzzball, I got it.”

(laughter)

TALIESIN: We cool, we cool.

TRAVIS: I will go get a drink. I bid you good day.

MATT: “Good day!”

TRAVIS: Yeah.

(laughter)

Stay in the light, and I start walking off.

MATT: As you walk off, he turns around and goes and you start to hear him lumbering into the barracks. “Hey! Bright Queen says there's a mad guy coming! Danger! Holdin' a blade!

(laughter)

“It's going to make you mad! (chuckling) He was a tired little one.” That's the last thing you hear as he continues walking inside.

TRAVIS: Shit.

(laughter)

Fuck.

SAM: Message received.

TALIESIN: Well done.

TRAVIS: I'll keep moving towards the gate.

MATT: You can hear other people interrogating about what the fuck he's talking about.

TRAVIS: Shit. As I head towards the gate where we were before, and where we rebuffed, anyone in that area with the plumage of an officer?

MATT: Near the gate, yes.

TALIESIN: (yawns) Excuse me.

TRAVIS: (audibly inhales and exhales) No. I think better of it. I go to the Ready Room.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

(laughter)

MATT: All right. You guys have regathered, we'll say a day spent keeping watch, going about your business, and preparing for the next leg of your journey, wherever that may be. Is there anything else you wish to discuss or go over before a night's rest comes to you?

SAM: Night's rest.

LAURA: Whoa. Whoa.

MATT: I'm asking, is there anything else you during the day?

LAURA: I guess not.

TRAVIS: Is there any fol– I mean, I know where we are. Is there any sign of foliage of any kind around here? Or is it all just wasteland?

MATT: On this end, you can see bits of dried scrub brush. It's not quite as bad as the Barbed Fields were directly, you can see especially along the base where the mountains are, there are areas of some very hardy, desert plant life that seem to exist and subsist around the vicinity.

TALIESIN: Singing bush.

MATT: Yep. (imitates Singing Bush from Three Amigos)

SAM: Jester, do you have any more sending ability today?

LAURA: I've got one more I can do.

SAM: Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to check in on either my hubby or perhaps Shakäste.

LAURA: Which one do you want?

SAM: Oh boy, that's a tough choice. What's that?

TRAVIS: I'm getting ready to send.

SAM: Oh. Thought you were going to punch me in the face.

TALIESIN: Message sent and received.

SAM: I don't think hubby's in danger yet. Maybe.

LAURA: It's up to you.

LIAM: Nott the Brave, when we go back, it's hard to predict what's about to happen, we could be thrown in prison, I don't think so, we could be sent off somewhere else or pulled into intrigue. Do you know in advance what you want to do with your husband when we get there? Tell him to stay put, send him on?

SAM: I wanted him to be safe, but I don't know anyone who can take care of him in Rosohna. Maybe I was thinking Beauregard's friend? But she's never met him, has she? Was she there with us?

LAURA: She isn't, we haven't seen her there yet, but I know she was on her way.

MARISHA: We met her in the cellar.

MATT: You met her in Asarius.

MARISHA: In Asarius.

MATT: And you set up plans to meet in Rosohna and have not done so.

MARISHA: Uh-huh.

SAM: We don't have anyone in Rosohna that we can trust. I don't know, I think, he can't just run...

MARISHA: I could, I should probably reach out to her.

TALIESIN: You're that friend.

MARISHA: Huh?

TALIESIN: You're that friend.

LAURA: Who am I sending a message to, you guys?

SAM: Send a message to Shakäste. Just ask if he's gotten to my son yet.

LAURA: Okay, your son's name is Luc?

SAM and LAURA: Luc. Okay.

TALIESIN: Luck.

LAURA: Sending a message. Shakäste. Okay, I'm not saying.

SAM: Sorry.

LAURA: I'm thinking it in my head.

TALIESIN: You're thinking in your head.

LAURA: Hey. It's Jester, have you got to Luc yet? Woof! Things are crazy. Let me know where you guys are. Nott's really wondering. Thank you.

SAM: Nice. Good.

MATT: “Hey, Jester, baby.”

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Shakäste!

MARISHA: Every time!

MATT: “Don't you worry. I went ahead and just finished dropping that boy and that old lady off down in Nicodranas, and making my way back north.”

LAURA and SAM: (gasping)

MATT: “I got you.”

SAM: Wow!

LAURA: Shakäste's amazing!

SAM and LAURA: Yeah!

LAURA: I am assuming that I told you everything.

SAM: You just told me everything.

LAURA: Oh my gosh!

SAM: You were so excited you blurted it out!

LAURA: Saying it right along with him!

SAM: Wow!

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: That was amazing.

LAURA: I mean, that was so much faster than I thought he was going to be.

SAM: Any other details did he give you or did it sound like it's done?

LAURA: No, he just said they're safe. He called me baby.

SAM: Oh, do you think--?

LAURA: No.

SAM: No?

LAURA: I think he just calls everybody baby. No, I mean, I don't think I'm his type.

SAM: Oh.

LAURA: I don't know, maybe I am, I don't know.

SAM: What do you think his type is? What would be Shakäste's type?

LAURA: Someone really cool.

SAM: Well, you're cool!

LAURA: Yeah, I mean but someone chill and cool.

SAM: You're not chill?

LAURA: No!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: That's true. Very true.

SAM: You know who was chill was Yasha... Yasha was kind of chill.

LAURA: Yasha was really chill.

SAM: Before she tried to kill us all.

LAURA: She didn't try to kill all of us. Just, you know, Fjord.

SAM: And me.

LAURA: And you.

SAM: She would've killed you, too.

LAURA: Probably.

TALIESIN: She was chill, but not cool.

LIAM: Nott, I don't know, again, if we will have the ability or the time when we go back on Rosohna, but we could, I've already voiced my reservations about your family, and everything Nicodranas, but we could bring your husband to your child.

SAM: Well, now that my child's in Nicodranas, that's exactly what I would like to do, yes.

LIAM: Yes, we can visit, use his tower. If we are granted the time.

SAM: Yes! Yes, that would be incredible.

LAURA: That would be great.

SAM: If we are lucky enough to be free that long.

LAURA: We'll find out in the morning!

SAM: We'll find out tomorrow!

LAURA: Everybody sleep well!

MATT: All right, so you guys are, you finished out the day, all right.

LIAM: Yes.

MATT: As you are resting--

TALIESIN: Damn it.

TRAVIS: Damn, shitballs and...

TALIESIN: Are we taking shifts or are we not taking shifts?

TRAVIS: We didn't say we were.

MARISHA: No. Oh shit! What is happening?

SAM: (slide whistle)

LAURA: I feel like I should talk to the Traveler before.

SAM: Guys, I bought a slide whistle at the Ready Room!

MATT: You want to talk to the Traveler?

LAURA: I feel like I should talk to him before we go to bed, or as everybody else is going to sleep, I want to stay up.

TALIESIN: I was going to suggest to somebody that we do the shift thing as well but that somebody's awake.

MATT: We'll say Jester takes first watch while she's having her communion.

LAURA: I'll start by, you know, drawing in my journal. I'll draw just Yasha's eyes. I'll try to get them how they used to be and then how they looked in the scry, the difference. I'll just say: I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't talked to you as much. I...I don't... I don't know what's going on. I feel kind of lost. Are you there?

MATT: In a warm, humid interior, your friends sleeping nearby, drifts to a colder sensation, and out of the periphery of your eyes you see the cloak whip. As you're sitting there, you sense the presence of the Traveler sit there next to you, the hood leaning into the other side of your periphery. “It's all right, you've been busy. As have I.”

LAURA: You have?

MATT: “But a measly couple months from now, you'll get to meet the rest of your family.”

LAURA: Yeah, couple months, huh? Do you, do you, do you have a location yet?

MATT: “That's actually why I wanted to talk to you.” He draws back into a sitting position. “Considering where to hold the grand gathering. I was thinking maybe the island of Rumblecusp, off the Menagerie Coast. Do you have any suggestions?”

LAURA: Rumblecusp, have I heard of that place before?

MATT: You've heard it, but you've never been there.

LAURA: What's special about Rumblecusp?

MATT: “I don't know, it's remote. Probably very pretty. But I've never been.”

LAURA: Well, if it's pretty and tropical, you know. That would be nice. I mean, anywhere close to Nicodranas you know is going to be very pretty.

MATT: “Have you any other suggestions yourself?”

LAURA: Oh, well... Probably not anywhere in the Empire or probably not anywhere in Xhorhas. There's crazy stuff going on here, you know.

MATT: “So I've been hearing.”

LAURA: I mean if you– well, I guess if it's a couple months away, I was going to say I hear that the north is pretty cool right now, there's like a volcano or something that is supposed to be pretty popular, but...

MATT: Are you really pushing for a volcano suggestion?

(laughter)

LAURA: That would be kind of crazy, right? To have a bunch of people gathered in a volcano?

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: This going to end so well.

LAURA: Natural 20.

(laughter)

MATT: “That's certainly unique. The journey would be challenging, but with enough warning...”

LAURA: It would show who your real followers were. But you know, if you want to hold it somewhere that's way prettier, I understand, you know. That's a really good option, too.

MATT: “I trust your judgment, Jester. A volcano will be interesting.”

LAURA: I can check it out beforehand if you want, and then let you know.

MATT: “Certainly, but I have to know soon. I have to send out the invitations.”

LAURA: Right. Were you there in the cave?

MATT: “I'm never far.”

LAURA: It's really hard.

MATT: “I know.”

LAURA: There's so many things in the world and I thought it would be really cool to see it all and some of it is really pretty. You know, like we saw a cavern that was full of crystals. You would actually really like that, maybe we should have the convention there, I'm not sure.

MATT: “You tell me.”

LAURA: But a lot of it is just really sad and a lot of people getting hurt and...

(sighs)

MATT: He reaches forward from the billowing robe, his fingers just brush the bit of hair out of your face. “It's a very beautiful world, and it's a very sad world. But there is beauty in sadness, too.”

LAURA: Yeah?

MATT: “Without those moments, it's hard to appreciate beauty.”

LAURA: It is true. I didn't know how wonderful, you know, home was, and how wonderful, really, my mama is, until I saw a lot of other people out there.

MATT: “You'll be sad again. To live is to be sad, time and time again. But you also get to be happy. You get to be playful. You get to be mischievous.

LAURA: (giggles)

MATT: “Just know that no matter where you are, I'm not far. Also know, you're not the only one

being watched over in your merry band. There are many voices.”

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: “Many eyes upon you.”

LAURA: Do you ever talk to the other gods?

MATT: “There isn't much of a line of communication, if that's what you're asking.”

LAURA: Oh, I didn't know.

MATT: “But... Wherever your friend Yasha is, I'm sure there's some very powerful eyes on her that never left.”

LAURA: Really? Good ones? Helpful ones?

MATT: “I've seen the storm myself. Have faith. After all... Without faith, what am I?”

LAURA: Yeah. Really cool.

MATT: “A volcano.”

LAURA: (giggling)

MATT: “Interesting, I like it.”

(blowing)

(laughter)

He just dissipates into the wind.

TRAVIS: You just killed all of Traveler Con.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Jester versus volcano.

TRAVIS: Fyre Fest.

LAURA: Oh no!

(laughter)

MATT: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: Oh my god.

TRAVIS: Welcome to day one of Traveler Con!

(explosion)

What is this, a cheese sandwich?

(laughter)

MATT: Oh no. Oh, the memes will only get worse from here.

TALIESIN: I'm so sorry, internet.

MATT: That's okay. Well, at the end of your watch, as you are all sleeping, Jester nods off in the comfort of the Traveler's presence.

LAURA: Yes I do.

MARISHA: I toss and turn, hoping to hear thunder again.

MATT: Understood. Roll a perception check.

MARISHA: Oh, fuck. Is it cocked?

TRAVIS: It's kind of leaning.

LAURA: But is it cocked?

TALIESIN: The D20 has been drinking.

MARISHA: 11.

MATT: 11. You think for a moment you hear the rolling sound of thunder. But listening, there's no follow-up. It might've been just in your head.

MARISHA: Fjord's stomach.

MATT: Probably. But the evening goes by without issue.

ALL: Oh!

TALIESIN: Fuck you!

MATT: I just wanted to tug that along for a bit. We'll pick up here after a break to bring the morning and wherever your next stage in this journey is going to be, now that you've had a night's rest.

LAURA: I feel like I'm going to throw up. Seriously.

MATT: That was a check-in ep– A check-in episode beginning there. Well, there's a lot to check in.

MARISHA: We fought a lot.

MATT: I know, man, it needed to happen. There was a, you guys had a lot to unpack.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Before we go on our break, let me go ahead and introduce you guys to our giveaway of the evening, we have from our friends at Wyrmwood, the wenge Pride vault, which you may have seen on Talks Machina.

MARISHA: So cool.

MATT: Very pretty, in celebration of Pride 2019. It is your dice vault of many colors. This will go to one lucky winner in the chat. The code word tonight is escalation. It's escalation.

TRAVIS: Sounds about right.

MATT: Yeah, it still works right. Remember enter it once, only once, any more than that and you'll be disqualified, for people in the US and Canada, excluding Quebec. We'll come back with a winner in just a few moments. See you soon.

SAM: (ascending slide whistle)

MATT: Goddamn it, Sam.

Break[]

[synth drum beat] ? You've got the perfect warlock ? ? Her weapons and supplies ? ? But you need a place to track your stuff ? ? 'cause you're so disorganized ? ? You click open a web page ? ? You heard about on Critical Role ? ? And now you're ready to kick some butt ? ? In that mineshaft full of gnolls ? ? It's D&D ? ? D&D ? ? D&D Beyond ? ? Yeah, D&D ? ? D&D ? ? Yeah, D&D Beyond ? ? You got your stats, you've got your swords, ? ? And you got your invisible wand ? ? It's D&D ? ? D&D ? ? D&D ? ? D&D Beyond ?

DANI (V.O.) Delightful. Unrivaled. Beauteous. Sublime. Ceramic. TRAVIS (V.O.): (as Grog) ? The best part of this mug, ? ? is that it can hold ale! ? (giggle) ?

BRIAN (V.O.): Last time, on Talks Machina. BRIAN: Rachel Kleine wants to know: Do you think Fjord will be more harsh with his feelings about Yasha because he not only wasted a precious spell slot to try and help her escape, but also because he was the closest to dying at her hand? TRAVIS: Yes! Yes! Unequivocally yes! Oh yes, Rachel Kleine! You understand me! I understand you! We are one! (laughter) Yes! I only got two of those bitches! It was the last one! I zoomed in, she said, “Nope!” Fwoomp, and then almost killed me! DANI: Oh boy. TRAVIS: Yes, he will be harsh. BRIAN: What are you drinking, dude? TRAVIS: I don't know. It burns my lips, though. BRIAN: I don't want another episode like this for a while. I want smut. Was the Angel of Irons cult backstory a collaboration with Ashley or did she just say, “there's a period of time that she has no memory of” and left it for you to come up with? MATT: It's the latter. She said there was a period of time that she doesn't recall in her life and as a gift to any dungeon master, for that, so she's been discovering aspects of her story along with the rest of you. (laughter) DANI: Well well well, Travis Willingham. TRAVIS: What? I'm sitting here listening to the answer respectfully. DANI: Uh-huh. MATT: So yeah, that's a likely story. BRIAN: A likely story indeed. TRAVIS: Uh-huh. BRIAN: Was the Laughing Hand, aka Gigglefist, which was a-- MATT: Gigglefist? BRIAN: Travis' previous PSN name. (laughter) TRAVIS and MATT: Gigglefist. BRIAN: He had to change it when it got leaked. TRAVIS: (terrifying giggling) MATT: I know what you're dressing up as for Halloween. BRIAN: Wait, give me the closeup on Trav a sec. TRAVIS: Oh no, no. BRIAN: Then take the question away for a sec. Then give me that Gigglefist impression one more time to that camera, please, to Greg. You know which Greg. TRAVIS: (terrifying giggling) BRIAN: There you go, Arsequeef. You know, you're just feeding him now. He gets up at four in the morning. We have to-- DANI: Can he make a GIF that requires sound? BRIAN: But he does a public service. MATT: He'll find a way to do it. TRAVIS: Add your own sound, make it better. BRIAN: Considering the Wildmother has offered him protection, how does Fjord feel about traveling to the anvil for answers regarding L.H.? TRAVIS: Stoked about it. BRIAN: Kay. TRAVIS: Super stoked about it. I don't know what the fuck the anvil is. I don't know anything about Caduceus. I want to learn more. I am-- will be lobbying heavily next game to go there with the quickness. BRIAN: Yeah. TRAVIS: Maybe not drop a little note with the Bright Queen. Get the fuck out. Do it later. No no no, we'll leave a message. We'll be fine. We'll leave a post-it somewhere. MATT: Whatever you guys want to do. It's your story. TRAVIS: Yeah, but what is the anvil? Where is it? How far away is it? What does it have? More Wildmother, please? Yes, all those things! BRIAN: “More Wildmother please?” TRAVIS: Yeah! BRIAN: I want more Wildmother. TRAVIS: Anything that's not Uk'otoa, thank you very much. BRIAN: More Caduceus backstory, too. TRAVIS: Yeah! MATT: You can still go back and talk to Uk'otoa. You still just got one more orb. TRAVIS: I don't want to. I...no. Uk'otoa took my shit for like a whole half a day. BRIAN: Ooh, could Uk'otoa Took My Shit be our next bumper sticker? Like The Traveler Is My Co-Pilot, Uk'otoa Took My Shit? That's pretty great. MATT: (groans) (laughter)

Well, would you look at that. I think it worked. You were right, Pumat Number Three. All we had to do was invoke that subscription cantrip. Pumat, Pumat Number Three? Oh boy. Well, hello there! I am Pumat Prime. It's good to finally join you here in the Prime Dimension. Ah, I see this is the Twitch Prime Realm, I think? And, oh. We're in the Critical Role channel, aren't we? Well, would you look at that, you got chat and everything. Respectfully, I was looking for the Prime Rib Realm but this isn't too bad. You see, if you already have access to the Amazon Prime Realm, you can get a free subscription to the channel of your choice in the Twitch Prime Realm. The two realms have a pretty good working relationship after that peace treaty the prime ministers signed a few years back. You just have to remember to renew your Twitch Prime subscription at the top of each month. Respectfully. And hey. If you're already a subscriber, you can spread the joy by gifting a subscription using the Gift a Sub button. That is assuming the Empire hasn't sent a tax man to your shop here recently. (nervous laughter) All right, well, off to find that darn elusive Prime Rib Realm. Who know the Prime Dimension had so many pockets? Good luck! Pumat Three? TALIESIN (V.O.): Subscribe. Resubscribe. Brian Foster is not a cabbage.

[epic music]

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back. So...

(laughter)

We have our winner of the Pride dice vault. The winner is Drewcifer333.

(cheering)

Congratulations, Drewcifer, we'll go ahead and get your vault ASAP.

TALIESIN: The beast has been dieting.

MARISHA: Half of a--

TRAVIS: Downsizing.

TALIESIN: 333.

MATT: So. Coming to consciousness the following morning, you all are rested. A familiar warm sense has taken the chamber, though not as hot as the day before.

TRAVIS: (fart sound)

MATT: It's a bit musty in the scent department, sure.

TALIESIN: Goddamn it.

MATT: Fjord's been finding the broccoli.

TRAVIS: The food out here doesn't agree with me.

MATT: You would have a sensitive stomach.

SAM: Oh, we're already fighting.

TRAVIS: It was a really bad fart.

MATT: So. What would you like to do, guys?

SAM: Well, it's time to bamf home.

TRAVIS: We should check, make sure nothing happened overnight outside of this room.

SAM: Sure, sure sure.

TRAVIS: Head outside to see if there's any obvious commotion.

LAURA: Can we open the windows on the roof?

MATT: Sure, go for it.

LAURA: Before we head down and look out.

MATT: Okay, make a perception check. No, you're fine. As you look out there, you look out and the streets look the same as they were when you went to sleep. Different troops, of course, set on their various watches, but you can see there's still a heavy perimeter that is patrolling the exterior of Bazzoxan. You can't quite see the Umbra Gate from this window, but there doesn't appear to be any sort of issues or raised intensity, no bodies lying in the streets.

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: All right, Caleb, how does this work?

LIAM: Well I have some gems, enough to– and jade, so enough to– set this off. I cannot do this constantly unless I have a steady supply, but I can do it today. I just need a minute to start drawing on the floor.

LAURA: What kind of gemstones do you need?

SAM: He's got some.

LIAM: 50 gold worth, I have jade, one piece of jade left. Or anything anyone wants to contribute. I think jade is worth 100 gold.

LAURA: Let me see what I have.

MARISHA: Did we pick up some shit?

SAM: I have some jade also, but, you know. I've a pearl necklace.

LAURA: I have a pocket full of crystals.

(laughter)

LIAM: I place my one piece of jade on the ground and start tracing a circle and thinking of the teleportation circle in Rosohna.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: And begin to cast.

MATT: All right, so... As you guys watch Caleb setting the gemstone, the jade piece in the center, the way he draws all these lines and sigils. It's a large, circular equation on the ground, made of various arcane symbols intersecting, overlapping, and as he begins to progressively fill in, it seems to spiral inward as he fills out the rest of this equation. You watch the surrounding exterior of it begin to glow as an echo afterward. As he gets towards the very, very center, he finishes a central circle, draws in a particular emblem, and then places the jade onto it. As it does, the jade shatters. The entire circle (whooshing) flares up brightly beneath. As you know, you only have but a moment, Caleb.

LIAM: Is it six seconds to get everybody through or am I thinking back to Campaign One trees?

MATT: I believe it is a very short time to get everybody onto the circle. Let me double check. Just to be safe.

TRAVIS: Bullet time. (time slowing down)

MARISHA: On the elevator.

MATT: Kind of, yes.

TRAVIS: (Time speeding up)

MATT: It does last for one round, so yes.

LAURA: Oh, six seconds.

MATT: You got to go.

MARISHA: Go go go!

LIAM: Caleb starts pulling and shoving people.

MATT: (Whooshing)

TRAVIS: Hey, watch where you're fucking--

MATT: One after another, you all get pushed into the circle and you feel your breath (exhales) pulled out from your lungs for just a second. There's a brief streak of light and dark and suddenly, you're standing in a familiar subterranean, graphite-looking chamber. Looking around, you recall when you first arrived from your journey from Asarius. You now stand within the Underarches of the Lucid Bastion. You can see two of the guards who stand there, armored, Kryn soldiers, look over in your direction, and briefly take a step in your way a bit aggressively, but then recognize as you approach.

TRAVIS: Multi pass.

(laughter)

MATT: But yes, you have arrived and now in Rosohna in an instant, traversing the majority of Xhorhas with a single step.

LAURA: It's really cool, Caleb. It was really, really cool.

LIAM: Do you think the moorbounders will be okay?

SAM: They'll be fine. Maybe?

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Come on, let's stay on task.

SAM: Is anyone waiting for us?

LIAM: Yeah, anyone here in this chamber?

MATT: In the chamber, no. Not immediately. There was no notification as to how you were arriving, so there isn't a party awaiting you here in the Underarches.

SAM: Do we know where to go?

MATT: Not at the moment. I mean, you know the path you took previously so you could just try and retrace your steps.

LAURA: There are guards there.

MATT: Yes, there are.

TRAVIS: Announce ourselves.

MATT: Okay. Within a short time, you guys are brought to the familiar antechamber before the Bright Queen's throne chamber. There was expectation to your arrival so you don't have to wait more than 15 or so minutes before the doors open. If you want to take a moment to gather your thoughts before you enter, you're welcome to.

SAM: Who's doing the talking? I vote it should be me and Jester but I could be overruled.

TALIESIN: I'll happily speak if...

SAM: You're so truthful.

TALIESIN: Yeah. SAM: Are you sure we should--

LAURA: Fjord.

TRAVIS: What?

MARISHA: I think Fjord, too.

SAM: What about Fjord and Caduceus?

LAURA: No, because they're going to say very different things and then it's going to get us in trouble.

TRAVIS: Yeah, look. I appreciate y'all coming back in after me, right? I'm here because of you guys. I'm just going to lie to her. I'm telling you right now. Honestly. So if you think that being honest with her is what we're doing, trying to establish some trust from within, transparency, then either Caleb or Caduceus should talk.

TALIESIN: Caleb?

LIAM: Well, let's do it together and Fjord, anyone, if you think you can help, feel free to step in.

MARISHA: Just remember, we don't need to make it personal.

LAURA: Just don't say it's our fault, okay?

SAM: Also, start with a compliment. Ladies like it when you notice their hair or their shoes, so lead with that.

LAURA: I'll compliment, and then you guys can take over.

SAM: That's a great idea.

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: Ladies like it when a fellow--

LAURA: Exactly.

SAM: Compliments them.

LAURA: I'm pretty fashionable.

SAM: I know, but you know, he's like a tall, dark, and handsome guy over there, compliment from him.

TRAVIS: I wouldn't say dark. It's more light and pastel.

TALIESIN: Extremely pale, even by my family standards.

TRAVIS: It's literally teal and pink.

TALIESIN: Practically translucent.

SAM: Yeah, all right. Forget it, then.

LAURA: It's like built-in highlighter, it's really nice.

TALIESIN: I've always liked to think so.

MATT: Are you guys comfortable with your plan?

SAM: We're ready!

MATT: All righty.

MARISHA: Ready as we'll ever be.

LIAM: Also, I'm going to cast dunamancy onto Caduceus.

TALIESIN: What is this dunamancy going to do?

LIAM: It's just going to make sure that you're especially convincing, and I cast Fortune's Favor with a white pearl to my forehead. Then you see geometric shapes for a split second.

TALIESIN: Wow.

MATT: So you now have a fragment of possibility with it. You can reroll a d20 if you wish.

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: Once. All righty.

(heavy doors opening)

The doors of the antechamber open, into the familiar, overhead-lit throne room of the Bright Queen. Already, you can hear voices bustling. It's a little more active than last time you were here, where it was somewhat half as intense. You can see all the seats are filled, both on the two opposing house sides as well as the central chairs that flank the Bright Queen's throne. As you are stepping out, you can see a troop of four individuals, three drow and one hobgoblin are carrying a table out past you. At a quick glance, looking down, there's a sheet thrown over it a little bit, but part of it's visible and you can see it looks to be a map. It's a long table.

MARISHA: A map of?

TRAVIS: Are there any pieces on it, like a war table?

MARISHA: Yeah, a war map?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Can I do that, too?

MATT: Yes, you may.

MARISHA: 19.

TRAVIS: 18. Okay.

TALIESIN: Table.

MATT: There you go. Getting a glance at it, you make out that it seems to be a map of probably Xhorhas. The way it's laid out, and the section that you do see appears to be the beginning of the Penumbra Range to the east which means the length of the table will probably lead it quite deeply into the Empire and Western Wynandir. So that's ushered past. There's conversation and whispering and discussion in the distance, echoing throughout the chamber, this central, single white orb is still hung, affixed above the center, the chains dangling to the far corners of this dull, gray, quartz-like material the interior is constructed from. As you step forward, the voices hush, the soldiers flank the steps in which you ascend and as you begin to approach, the Bright Queen stands from her throne, her violet eyes shining from the light above. Her headpiece, the three horns curling behind, holding her staff. She looks down upon you as you begin to make your way towards the center of raised section of the chamber. She puts her hand out. “Welcome, Mighty Nein. We must first give our thanks in your aid in warning the Dynasty of the Imperial assault. Many lives were saved thanks to your deed. And the garrison remains in our control. As you had also noted, a series of strategic assassination attempts did also occur shortly after the assault. Now here in Rosohna, we were ready for this. Aside from some wounded, no lives were lost. We captured one of the assailants. You've all proven very worthy of the reward that you were given. So thank you.”

SAM: You're welcome.

LAURA: Your eyes look very ravishing today.

SAM: I was going to say the same thing.

LAURA: Yeah. They seem exceptionally bright.

SAM: Twinkle. Wouldn't you agree, Caduceus?

TALIESIN: I-- sure? Your highness, we have a... We bring some unfortunate news.

LAURA: I already told her. On the spell.

TALIESIN: More specifically though, and to go into more detail, I suppose, we were woefully unprepared for what we found up north. We stumbled into a creature, an infernal creature summoning one of the agents of the Crawling King.

MATT: At this point, Skysybil, the elderly female goblin who sits adjacent to the Bright Queen, leans forward at the edge of her seat. “So it has been said that the Laughing Hand is what you refer to.”

TALIESIN: It is loose.

MATT: “Such an entity was supposedly destroyed in the Calamity, or the years that followed.”

TALIESIN: It was contained, not destroyed.

MATT: “Well, if what you say is true, this is indeed an additional thorn in the Dynasty's side.”

TALIESIN: This thing may be more than a thorn. This is the beginning, I believe, of something... dreadful, terrible that threatens everybody. Resources are necessary to combat this, it tore through us, we did not all make it back.

MATT: The Bright Queen nods, acknowledging this. “'Tis a very unfortunate circumstance how you describe it. But you've done what you could. We shall take it from here. Den Duendalos has numerous historical specialists and researchers, who since you gave us this message, are looking into all facets of this creature's nature and to suss out a means in which it can be found and destroyed.”

LAURA: It was a follower of the Angel of Irons.

MATT: Looks over towards Mirimm and Mirimm goes, “I am unfamiliar with that one.” "Well then, perhaps this should also be placed upon their research plate.”

TALIESIN: He said he was gathering others.

MATT: “Well, we have sent word and reinforced the guard to Bazzoxan. But, we have many things we are also achieving at this moment.”

TALIESIN: We may have a special request, if that would please you. We would like to be kept in the information loop on this creature, as it has done personal damage to us and we believe that we have an avenue of possible victory. I feel that there might be an answer to how to defeat this creature in the north. I was hoping for a little faith and perhaps a little support in an expeditious journey up north to see if a weapon that can defeat this creature can be found.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

SAM: This is going great.

TALIESIN: 20.

MATT: “I will admit, there is trepidation from members of this court, due to the circumstances of your less than, how would I put it, less than successful journey northward. However, if you feel that you can do this without us expending more of our personal resources to this direction you are traveling, you may go with our blessing.”

TALIESIN: Just safe travel. Perhaps we may need... some form of expeditious travel on top of everything else, but not a lot is necessary.

MATT: “Perhaps.”

TALIESIN: And the permission to, we probably have to cross a northern border at some point and we may have to put a few affairs in order.

MATT: “Very well, take your time and rest. I can see on all of your faces you've been through quite a bit.”

TRAVIS: Would you care to see this Laughing Hand?

MATT: “If you have a means of presenting its visage, then yes, please.”

TRAVIS: I'll turn my hands and I'll cast Major Image and I will recreate to scale the Laughing Hand with the sounds that it was creating right there in front of the entire fucking throne room.

SAM: I'm going to go in front of it and just sort of cower in fear.

(screaming)

MATT: Its looming form appears, the cloak gently swaying. The open gashes across its body, the teeth emerging from them chuckling silently. The room immediately begins to fill with whispers as you see the various other drow and orc and bugbear members of this court leaning into each other and looking curious and worried.

TALIESIN: The more we hurt it, the louder it got.

SAM: Yeah, I'm going to go over and slice it with my dagger.

TRAVIS: It just goes right through it.

SAM: But can't you change it?

TRAVIS: Nope.

SAM: Yes, you can! It's Major Image; you can control it!

TRAVIS: Can I?

SAM: Yes!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Aw yeah, I'll create an extra mouths!

MATT: As Nott is quietly shouting under her breath toward Fjord in the middle of this entire chamber.

SAM: Don't make me look like an asshole!

TRAVIS: What are you doing, Nott?

MARISHA: It's a tech rehearsal, it's just, hang on.

SAM: There's a lighting cue here!

TRAVIS: In the effort of sharing information, perhaps it'll help your Den Duendalos on their history check.

SAM: Good accent.

MARISHA: We really wish that the severity of this does not go understated.

MATT: “Oh, it is not understated. Believe you me, we know very well about infernal or ancient threats. We live in a land with a still curse, much of what we live upon. We do have many things to worry about, however, so we cannot divert more than we have currently holding the garrison for now.”

TALIESIN: Of course.

MATT: “We have plans. Things are turning in our favor in this struggle. So thank you.”

SAM: You said that you had some successes while we were away?

MATT: “Yes.”

LAURA: You captured an assailant?

MATT: “We did, we have a Scourger here currently for interrogation and execution. We also, with our position here, amongst the guard and the current... The current scenario in which the Dwendalian military finds itself, we grow closer to our goal of retrieving what they've taken.”

SAM: The scourger that you found was on the front lines?

MATT: “There were a handful of assassins that had come through Rosohna, as you had warned. We were prepared. There were those who were wounded, but no lives were lost, on our side at least.”

SAM: Who-- what kind of, I've never seen a Scourger, what did this person? Was it a monster or a person?

MATT: “It was a woman, human.”

MARISHA: (whispering) They're what Caleb was training to be.

SAM: Sure. A human woman?

SAM: What is your interest in this?”

SAM: I'm just, I'm curious, I've never, Scourger sounds so scary, that's all.

TRAVIS: They're more like a myth to us. We've never encountered one.

MATT: “Right.”

LAURA: You said you're closer to getting back what the Empire stole. Did they steal more of the dodecahedrons?

MATT: “They still have one beacon.”

LAURA: Beacons.

MATT: “That cannot be allowed. Until that is returned, we'll do whatever it takes.”

LAURA: Do you know where--

LIAM: I hope that our eagerness to aid and our frankness will have earned further trust on top of what we already offered up to you. We would continue to aid and more knowledge, more understanding would help.

MATT: “Of course. We will share what we can as it comes.”

LAURA: He wants to get into your library.

LIAM: I was actually going to request further training with your friend from House Thelyss and also, perhaps there is some knowledge of this Scourger. I have already intimated a little of my past and would be curious to know if dealings are the same. And if this is a person I've had any dealings with.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

LIAM: 16.

MATT: 16. “We are willing to share information. However, it is very apparent that the beginnings of this conflict stems from the human Zemnian thirst for the secrets of our arcane practices. Given that as it may, and there is trust here, it is a carefully guarded aspect of our culture. And you've already been rewarded for the deeds you've done. Should you continue on this path, then I'm very certain that we could share many more with you. But there must be more seen from you in the steps you take before we can open such a lineage of research to you. I hope you understand.”

LIAM: I do, I am too presumptuous. May I instead retract my request and instead just settle upon, knowing who this person is.

MATT: “That can be facilitated. If you like, we will have you escorted to the Dungeon of Penance. You're lucky to have come so early. Is there anything else?”

TALIESIN: I don't suppose you have any information on the location of the Burning Lodge? Kiln?

MATT: “I do not know what you speak, unfortunately.”

TALIESIN: We head north so we're looking for maps of anything that can guide our way further north.

MATT: “Describe north. There are many norths in this land.”

TALIESIN: We seek a mountain amongst snow-capped mountains where there is no snow. In front of the... white salt and sand. That it stands alone. A temple to the Wildmother.

MATT: There is a moment of quiet in the room, and in consideration from the Bright Queen, before Mirimm, the Skysybil, steps forward and goes, “A mountain where there is no snow amongst snow. There is such a place in the Flotket Alps. The Greying Wildlands. I would have to look into this entity. This location.”

TALIESIN: That would be what I seek, and the fastest and safest way to travel there.

MATT: You look over and you can see across the way, Essek has been sitting down on one of the chairs, and goes, “Well, if a safe and quick means of transportation is required, that would probably be my specialty.”

LAURA: Will you be going with us or are you going to be sending us?

MATT: “Well, I have to come with you at first, but I'll be returning thereafter.”

SAM: That's cool.

LAURA: Maybe you won't be, though, maybe you'll like us so much you'll just hang out!

MATT: “There is a lot of business I must attend to as well. As you've heard from the Bright Queen, a lot of things are moving and my interests lie elsewhere beyond a kiln.”

TRAVIS: Indeed, we appreciate your help. We will let you return to your very pressing matters at hand.

LAURA: Oh, one last thing. Is it possible to send word to the people in– where were we just?

SAM: Bazzoxan.

LAURA: In Bazzoxan, because we left our moorbounders there because we were in such a hurry to get here. I'm afraid they're going to--

SAM: It's okay.

LAURA: Starve to death.

TRAVIS: The little death panthers will be fine by themselves. It's fine.

MATT: Bright Queen smiles and puts her hand out and says, “Your beasts are from these lands, and will be fine, though they may be free to pursue their interests elsewhere. Should you require more, we can provide them.”

LAURA: Okay. Thank you.

MATT: At this point, Mirimm goes, “Ah! Kravaraad.”

SAM: What?

LAURA: Kravaraad?

MATT: “That is the mountain you speak of.”

TALIESIN: Kravaraad.

MATT: “Singular volcano rested in the center of the Flotket Alps, northwest of here.”

TALIESIN: Northwest?

MATT: “Quite a journey.”

TALIESIN: Yes. That is where we need to go.

MARISHA: My hunch was right.

TALIESIN: Sure.

LAURA: Thank you!

MATT: Rescinds back to the base of her chair and sits down.

(thumps)

Her body much smaller in comparison to the rest of the chair behind her.

SAM: This was a great meeting.

LAURA: Yeah, thank you so much for seeing us so quickly.

TRAVIS: Make our way down to the dungeons?

SAM: Are we going to go down to the dungeons now? Is someone going to escort us?

MATT: “Yes, please.” She raises her hand and points forward and two guards, who are off to the side, step forward and put their feet together and assert themselves as the ones to escort you.

TRAVIS: After you.

MARISHA: Can I keep my eyes out? Eyes open. Looking out-- whatever-- as we're walking, on the council and on the guards. If I see a drow that looks like the way that Dairon was disguised, just as we go. Just as we're here.

MATT: Yeah, make a perception check.

MARISHA: Okay.

TRAVIS: Natural one?

MARISHA: No. No, it's deceiving. 16.

MATT: 16, okay. You're keeping your eye out.

LAURA: Did we get a feel, did I get a feel during that meeting if the Bright Queen was still looking at us in the same way as before, or if she seemed more suspicious of us now.

MATT: Make an insight check.

SAM: Ooh. This is a big roll.

LAURA: (sighs)

TALIESIN: Yep.

LAURA: That's good. Seven.

MATT: Oh, seven.

LAURA: Yeah, seven, seven whole numbers.

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: Number of points.

MATT: The Bright Queen has lived many lifetimes, and in doing so has seemingly perfected, at least in most of your conversations, the ability to mask her intent beyond the positive presentation she's giving you this day. Beyond that, you're unable to read anything.

SAM: All right.

LAURA: What kind of dress was she in today?

LIAM: I'm going to float off and towards the back.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Was she in a sparkly dress today? Was she in, what color dress was it?

MARISHA: Yeah, did she look dope?

TRAVIS: The queen looked like--

MATT: She always looks dope. Yeah.

LAURA: She's got the helmet, but was it like--

TALIESIN: Dope queen.

LAURA: Was it a pantsuit?

TALIESIN: Dope queen.

MATT: It wasn't a pantsuit. It was a variation on the first outfit that you saw her in. This one was more battle-ready, if that makes sense.

LAURA: Oh.

MARISHA: Sick.

MATT: It seems like as things progress in this conflict, and based on what was exiting the chamber, there is a general, an air of riding the high of recent victory. As that, she's dressed accordingly.

SAM: Can we commission an artist to make her entire wardrobe just like in a catalog or something?

(laughter)

MATT: Sure.

TALIESIN: We can take it to that shop. A shop exists.

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: We've been there.

MATT: Yeah. I think Vanessa makes them.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

MATT: Creature of Habit on--

(laughter)

on Instagram. You guys are escorted out of the chamber outside of the Lucid Bastion, back below to the Shadowshire which rests beneath the city. There, you briskly walk past the strange, glowing fields of luminescent crops that line the floor and the ceiling of the cavern, venturing back to the familiar entrance on the side to the dark prison that once held Yeza. You approach the gate-like doors that bar your entry. A well-armed Dynasty orc guard narrows his eyes towards you and is about to approach before the two guards flanking who are both wearing a very elaborate captain capelets on the left arm, stands down immediately and doesn't even get a word out. Opens the door. You guys are led in down four levels of this dungeon, with each growing progressively darker and more heinous.

MARISHA: Max security?

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: The Daisy parking level at Disneyland.

TRAVIS: Are we getting slowed this time? Or altered, the way we were the first time we were brought down here?

MATT: Right. As you go further and further down within the chambers, there's just a general loose sense of nausea that comes over you, like your equilibrium is slightly off. It's hard to describe.

TRAVIS: Just in the space. Because Essek is not with us this time.

MATT: Correct. This is just the further down you go, it's just like a sick feeling in your stomach that seems to grow. You begin to move from hallway to hallway but in a very M. C. Escher way, the stairways seem to shift and entryways seem to not follow familiar gravity. In a short distance, you are having a hard time recalling, except for Caleb, directly how you entered. You begin to imagine that elements of this prison are designed to be maze-like to aid in keeping people from escaping.

MARISHA: What level was Yeza on? Just for comparison?

MATT: Yeza was between the first and second level, like around the cusp of that area.

SAM: He's dangerous! He's a flight risk!

MARISHA: Of course, level two!

SAM: He's got--

TRAVIS: No. No, he's not.

SAM: They took all sharp objects from him. He wasn't wearing shoelaces. They don't know what he's capable of.

TRAVIS: He didn't have shoes.

SAM: Yeah, well, that's because he's crazy. Could kill with a shoe.

TRAVIS: Crazy boring.

MARISHA: Aww.

SAM: You're boring. Your face is boring. Shut up. I hate you.

MATT: As you're led into this fourth, and deeper, floor of the Dungeon of Penance, you are brought too this heavily guarded, you can see six guards sitting outside of this single, 10-foot wide wall. There is a doorway that has about a six by two inch slot in the top of it. It is dark entirely on the interior. The two guards that are leading you through stop and give an acknowledgment to those that are keeping guard. Do any of you speak Undercommon?

SAM: No.

MATT: Crickets. All right. There are some words exchanged none of you understand. The guards step out from the front of the door and you are given essentially a position to look in.

LIAM: But it's pitch dark in there.

MATT: There's no light on the interior.

TRAVIS: I'll step up, I got darkvision.

MATT: Most of this entire dungeon has no light.

SAM: We need the humans to see who's in there.

TRAVIS: Yeah yeah yeah, I'll step up.

LAURA: Well, why doesn't Caleb just send in some light?

LIAM: No, I will not do that, I will burn some transmutation magic to make the, maybe I did this already, doesn't matter, the transmuter stone to give me darkvision.

MATT: Okay. So who approaches?

TRAVIS: Apparently I don't, somebody else does if you ask--

SAM: Go on.

LAURA: Go, go, go! Yeah, do it, Fjord.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'll step up.

MATT: Okay, you step up and glance through. From what you can see, this, it's a 10-foot by 10-foot chamber. There is a single chair in the very center and you can see a humanoid female form sitting in the chair, faced to the side and away towards the corner, arms bound behind by shackles, shackles then follow a chain down that is chained to the bottom of the chair. You can see chains that then fix themselves to the ankles in the front. This figure is locked tight to this chair. Also looking down to the base of the chair, the chair itself is bolted to the floor, so it is a stationary, affixed chair. There is no other exit windows, it is just pitch black. Faint smell of urine, from what you can see, she is very, very badly beaten. That's about as much as you can make out. Hair in front of the face.

TRAVIS: Clothed?

MATT: Clothed, leather armor, but a lot of it's been cut. Elements have been torn off where the arm is, there, battle-worn.

TRAVIS: Look at me. Does her head lift?

MATT: No.

TRAVIS: I'll pivot and turn around. Caleb.

LIAM: I'll walk up next to Fjord and look in. What does this woman look like?

TRAVIS: Well, she's had the shit kicked out of her. Hair's all in her face. It doesn't look like she's very comfy.

LIAM: I look in. My eyes go to the hole and I look in.

MATT: Okay, you see the same thing that Fjord had seen.

LIAM: What does the hair look like?

MATT: It looks probably about just under shoulder length, about chin length, maybe a little beyond that. Most of it's tousled and mostly over the face, the head is slumped forward, you don't know if she's unconscious or is just exhausted.

LIAM: There are guards here, you said?

MATT: Yes.

LIAM: I turn to them. Is light allowed? May I?

MATT: They all look at each other and, one of them gestures to go ahead.

LIAM: Fumph, fumph, fumph. Two of them float in through the hole and move not close to the person, but over their head so as not to wake them up.

MATT: Okay. You can see a very faint physical reaction to the light in the chamber, but it's very faint. It's just a slight shift, but maintains position.

LIAM: I speak in Zemnian. (American accent) Are you awake?

MATT: No response.

LIAM: Wake up. You are in a bad place, I need you to talk to me.

MATT: “(coughs)” You hear her clear her throat.

LIAM: Go ahead. Your life's thread is very short right now. If you want to keep it from being clipped, I need you to talk to me.

MATT: You hear this reedy, pinched voice come out, the face still not turning, just going, in Zemnian back to you, “It is what it is. This is what happens in war.”

LIAM: I don't recognize the voice, do I?

MATT: Make a perception check. It's very...

LAURA: Aw!

MATT: You're not sure. It sounds like the individual's taken quite a few hits to probably the throat or chest, and is just, the process of speaking is a taxing endeavor.

LIAM: Can you look at me?

MATT: “Who asks? What do you want?”

LIAM: You hear me talking to you in this language. In this place. Do you want an aid or not? Look at me.

MATT: “Magic can do many things. My life is already forfeit. Try what you want, you won't break me.”

LIAM: Astrid.

MATT: What did you say?

SAM: Astrid.

MATT: The head perks up slightly. “What did you say?”

LIAM: You heard me. Look. Me. In. The. Eye.

MATT: “Who are you?”

LIAM: I don't have time for that. Lift your face. Your life hangs by a thread, what have you to lose? Look at me.

MATT: “Look where I am. Who do I have to trust? Who is this who knows Astrid?”

LIAM: If I try to put my cat in that room, am I able to now?

MATT: I think you probably can.

LIAM: I attempt it and put Frumpkin on the inside of the room.

MATT: All righty.

LIAM: He's in there, I send him padding up to this person to look.

MATT: Okay. Make a perception check for Frumpkin.

LIAM: Oh, for Frumpkin. Balls.

(laughter)

Ten.

SAM: Okay, okay.

MARISHA: We'll go with 10.

MATT: You see the hair in front of the face. You see a lot of blood and a swollen chin and a lip.

SAM: Beau, go in there and just beat the shit out of her. Hold her face up.

MARISHA: We have to be let inside. May have to open the gate.

MATT: You do see in the light here, and the circumstances, there are scars across the forearm, familiar scars as the ones that you carry.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: There's no way they're opening this door for us.

LIAM: I ask that very thing of the guards.

MATT: If they'll open it?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: The one who's assigned next to it goes, “I am sorry, that cannot be done.”

MARISHA: Oh, it's so tempting!

SAM: We could just knock out these guards real quick.

TALIESIN: Would you perhaps mind if--

MARISHA: There's so many. There's six guarding her.

TALIESIN: –perhaps, mind if I put the prisoner in a better state to answer questions? They've been roughed up a bit.

LIAM: Do you know Bren Aldric Ermendrud?

MATT: “Very well.”

LIAM: Who was he?

MATT: “I don't know. Is he you?” And the figure turns and looks in your direction.

(gasping)

You see the hair pushed to one side of the face. The hair is dark, not brown, and the face is unfamiliar to you. This is not Astrid, but the face is looking right at you with a smile.

LIAM: I'm going to find them both, and kill them. Hmm?

MATT: “I've heard things about you, Bren. Welcome back.”

LIAM: I'm curious of your knowledge about this boy. We'll see if you live long enough to tell me. I walk away from the door, and start to hyperventilate against the wall.

TRAVIS: Caleb, is everything all right? You don't seem well.

LAURA: I peek through the hole.

MATT: She's still looking forward, just grinning. You can see the very pale white skin, dark hair that's covering most of one side of the face entirely to one side, a single eye that's peeking up with a smile. Then she's looking back at you, with the blood streaking out of the nose and the mouth, swollen.

TRAVIS: Do you know this person?

MARISHA: Fuck.

LIAM: She's a murderer. She's one of my own. She is me if I had turned out to be me.

TRAVIS: Do you know her personally? Are we--

LIAM: No. No, she's one of many.

TRAVIS: Right. Are we done here?

SAM: I guess so.

MARISHA: Is there any other information we can get from her?

SAM: Do you want to ask her about any of the people who you used to know? This is a chance.

LIAM: Magic worked in here, when I used it?

TRAVIS and MATT: Yes.

LIAM: Just Frumpkin.

MATT: Just Frumpkin and the lights you put in there, yeah.

LIAM: Yeah. Gah. I walk back over to the door. (American accent) From what I understand, your time is limited. Very limited. Care to contribute anything to the conversation?

MATT: “Not particularly. I'm just waiting for my sentence.”

LIAM: It has a period on the end.

MATT: “I will say, it's fascinating to see who's now working with the other side.”

MARISHA: Does that mean there's... Does that mean there's multiple?

TRAVIS: She's talking about Caleb.

LIAM: Some of us get tired of macabre fairy tales. So you enjoy your mouthful of lies, when they choke it out of you. I stride up the hall and away from the group. Back the way we came.

TRAVIS: That's our cue.

SAM: Pleasure to meet you!

(laughter)

TALIESIN: That was very nice.

LAURA: Thank you, guards.

MATT: They acknowledge, then get back to their positions.

SAM: Should we tip them or something? I don't know.

TALIESIN: Traditionally, you're supposed to. Five gold?

LIAM: I yank Frumpkin with me who's now scarfing around my neck.

MATT: You got it.

TALIESIN: Five people, that's [inaudible]

TRAVIS: Well.

SAM: Well, now what?

TRAVIS: I think we ask for some expeditious travel up north.

TALIESIN: I think we head home, get ready, get some preparations.

SAM: I would love to--

TRAVIS: Maybe the Dunrock Mountains or Quannah Breach?

LAURA: We could, you know, walk to--

SAM: Love to take my husband back to good old safety.

LAURA: Caleb, would that be something that we can do?

TALIESIN: Teleport him there at very least.

LIAM: I'm sorry.

SAM: You can't teleport today, I know.

LAURA: But in the morning, could you maybe teleport Yeza to Nicodranas?

LIAM: Yeah.

SAM: Yes?

LIAM: Yeah. Are we all going?

SAM: I would want to go to make sure that he gets there safely. I don't know if Jester wants to go see her mom. I know we've got pressing matters ahead. You guys could go on without me and I could probably catch up. If you needed to.

LAURA: Nott.

SAM: Well, I'm just saying.

LAURA: Please don't leave us.

SAM: I'm not leaving you, I'm just saying I could catch up later.

LAURA: We can't lose you, Nott.

SAM: We're not losing anyone.

LAURA: Nott!

MARISHA: It is a lot of travel.

TALIESIN: There's just sending somebody through and then getting to confirm that they're fine. It's doable, you don't have to, We don't necessarily all have to go and then all have to come back.

MARISHA: Could try and stay here and prepare a little bit more. I should probably get in contact with Dairon so I don't get thrown out of the Reserve.

SAM: Maybe Caleb could come and then we come back the next day or something.

MARISHA: I also wouldn't mind checking in with Waccoh again. Waccoh?

LIAM: Waccoh.

LIAM: I also want to find Thelyss before we leave. Sometime before we leave.

LAURA: Oh, Essek.

LIAM: Yeah, Essek Thelyss.

LAURA: Yeah, well, we're not, I mean, we have to wait till tomorrow, right, before we can go?

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah. You've got time.

LIAM: I'm sorry. I need to clear my head.

SAM: Let's go back to the treehouse.

LIAM: See you back at the–

TRAVIS: Xhorhaus.

SAM: Xhorhaus, yes.

MATT: All right. You guys are escorted through the Shadowshire back to the surface of Rosohna. The still, eternally-midnight sky above, and brought back to the exterior of the Xhorhaus that you guys have been granted. The tree kept well, the lights still glittering above, like a majestic beacon above the neighborhood.

TALIESIN: Fuck yeah!

MATT: Caleb, are you with them or are you moving on?

LIAM: No, I'm just wandering with the medallion hanging out so I don't get beaten up. I start to inquire where Thelyss might be with different people.

MATT: Okay. You guys return, you make your way to the front doors, you open up the inside. There's candles lit, the place is spick and span. It is clean, the furniture's been slightly rearranged.

MARISHA: Oh.

MATT: There's a moment where you hear something drop, the pan of some kind, ping, pang pang pang.

(thumping)

Rushing around the corner, apron on, you see Yeza. “Huh, you're back?”

SAM: We're back! We're back! Hi!

MATT: Just rushes up and just grabs Nott, picks her up.

MARISHA: Did you hear we were coming, this is all--

SAM: We made a big, there's a bell--

LAURA: There's a chime, remember, on the door.

TALIESIN: A little bell on the door.

MARISHA: Yeah, he didn't have any time to light all the candles that quickly? Is this--

MATT: “Well no, I just, you know, for ambiance. I like to keep it good for myself. I've been here alone for a few days here and I'm just, you know.”

SAM: Yeah, anything weird happen while we were gone?

MATT: “Uh, not, I mean...”

SAM: Any soldiers come by?

MATT: “Standard weird. I think occasionally there were, I think twice, some of the Kryn came by and just checked to see if you'd returned.”

SAM: Oh.

MATT: “I said no, you haven't. I was a little scared. I found out that the little garden upstairs actually has some great forms of tea leaf that are– easily strained. I can make a batch for everybody here, if you'd like.”

SAM: Yes, please!

TALIESIN: I would love to–

MATT: “Of course!”

TALIESIN: Maybe set that up upstairs, in the garden upstairs.

MATT: “Drink, yeah. Where's Caleb and Yasha?”

TRAVIS: Well...

LAURA: Caleb wandered off, because--

SAM: Yeah, he's coming, Caleb will be here later.

LAURA: He's distraught.

SAM: Yasha, um, you know. Isn't with us right now.

LAURA: Yasha left us.

MARISHA: She always wandered in and out. You know, she's just handling some of her own stuff for now.

MATT: “Right! Understood. I get caught up in my business sometimes, too. It makes a lot of sense.”

LAURA: Does it make you go totally crazy and try to kill people?

MATT: “Not yet.”

LAURA: You never know.

TALIESIN: You never know.

MATT: “Well anyway, let me go ahead and get that tea ready.”

SAM: I'll help you.

MATT: “All right, come on!”

TALIESIN: I head upstairs.

MATT: All right. Yeza's taken care of this place in your absence.

TRAVIS: I'll follow Caduceus upstairs.

LAURA: I'll walk very slowly upstairs.

MARISHA: Yeah, I'll convene for tea in the garden.

TALIESIN: I'm going to take a piece of wood from the tree and I'm going to start fashioning a version of the symbol, because everybody's got a little shrine, upstairs, I want to start fashioning my version of the Stormlord symbol out of wood.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Just a small one. While I sit up there and get some light going and go ahead and sit down, just do that for a bit.

MATT: It's serene as you built it. This brief little beat of respite from the intensity of the past week. Or more. You guys all eventually find your way up there, you see Caduceus there, setting the light and begins–

MARISHA: Yeah, I de-armor, I put on some sweatpants.

MATT: There you go.

MARISHA: You know.

MATT: It's easy for you, you don't wear armor.

MARISHA: Wash my face.

MATT: So it's (snaps).

MARISHA: Yeah, just dump all my shit.

MATT: The tea comes quickly. Doesn't take too long to get done. Yeza maybe in the process of already heating some for himself, but eventually, Nott and Yeza come up to join you all in the garden up in the tower region of the house. A little platter and begins pouring tea for everyone.

SAM: So Yeza, some good news.

MATT: “Oh, all right, yeah.”

SAM: I've arranged for Luc to be transported to a safe place.

MATT: “Oh, wonderful, whereabouts?”

SAM: Nicodranas? It's on the coast.

MATT: “Oh wow.”

LAURA: It's really beautiful.

SAM: And we have a way to get us there as well.

MATT: “Oh, really?”

SAM: Yeah!

MATT: “I've always wanted to go, I've heard so many great things about it.”

SAM: Well, yeah, I mean, you don't know how to swim.

MATT: “No.”

SAM: So just be careful out there.

LAURA: There's people there that can teach you.

MATT: “Is it on the water?”

SAM: Stay away from the water, it's fine. The breeze is nice, the water--

MATT: “Okay.”

SAM: The air is nice.

TRAVIS: It's actually bath temperature, it's actually fairly nice coastal climate.

SAM: It's pretty dangerous, the tides can come in quickly and there's riptides too.

MATT: “Yeah. “I'll just stay in the city.”

SAM: Yeah, that's good. But we might even be able, unless you like it here, we could just leave as early as tomorrow.

MATT: “Sure! I've been packed and ready to go since we got here. So any time, please!”

SAM: Okay, great! Well, we'll do that tomorrow, then.

MATT: “All right.”

MARISHA: You know we left our, left our boat with Orly.

LAURA: Oh, that's right.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: Maybe Yeza can have that as a little project.

LAURA: Well, it's Orly.

MARISHA: To check in on.

LAURA: Yeah, maybe Yeza can hang out on the boat.

MARISHA: Yeah, he's just done such, you know, marvelous things with this place.

MATT: “I've never really been on a boat before.”

LAURA: Only if you want to, otherwise you can stay, you know, with my mom.

SAM: Yeah, yeah yeah yeah. Or with our son, you know, just whatever.

LAURA: Yeah, to my mom.

SAM: Yeah, your mom's house.

MARISHA: It's a pirate ship.

SAM: Yeah, but he's, I mean...

MATT: Both of you make persuasion checks.

(laughter)

Beauregard with disadvantage.

MARISHA: With disad-- oh, jeez.

TALIESIN: What could be worse?

SAM: 16.

MARISHA: Persuasion?

MATT: Yes.

SAM: Are you talking to her or me?

MARISHA: I haven't done this very often.

SAM: 16.

MARISHA: Seven.

TALIESIN: How do you even look at your notes? Why do I ever look at your notes, Jesus.

MATT: “Maybe one day we'll happily check out a pirate ship. For now, I think probably we're going to stay back.”

SAM: Small child, he might not like it or--

MARISHA: Just presenting, you know, the option.

SAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: Because it's there.

SAM: Thank you.

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: Jester's very well connected, I could set you up with some chemical supplies.

LAURA: You can have whatever you need.

MATT: “Okay, wow, yeah. Thank you, I appreciate that, that's sweet. Okay, well, can I get anybody anything else?”

LAURA: Nope!

TALIESIN: Is Caleb back yet?

MATT: Well, while you're asking that question. So Caleb... You don't really know where to find Essek beyond the Lucid Bastion in which he was in the chambers earlier. It's been a couple hours, are you trying to head back to the Lucid Bastion to retrieve him?

LIAM: Yeah, I would head back to where we had our audience with the Queen, knowing that it's foolish. I'm not going to get a hold of her. Start asking and inquiring to him.

MATT: All right. You're definitely held from entering the Lucid Bastion. The guards there are saying that you know, you have had one audience and that is what you've been granted. Upon asking for Essek, you're asked to wait for about 30 or so minutes and then he emerges, looking about and turns to you with a smile. “Hello. I heard you're looking for me.”

LIAM: That is correct. Do you have a moment for me?

MATT: “A moment I can spare, yes. What do you require?”

LIAM: I'm embarrassed but... I have just come from your prisons. The queen granted us the ability to visit the Scourger that you have there.

MATT: “Right, I remember seeing you request this not long ago.”

LIAM: They are marked to die, correct?

MATT: I'm sorry, what was that?

LIAM: Execution, I heard execution mentioned.

MATT: “Right, they are to be executed, yes.”

LIAM: Is there a timetable on that?

MATT: “Not entirely certain, I think they're to continue interrogation for at least a few more days before they deem them of no further interest. So...”

LIAM: I'm just hoping you could stick to that timeline. I know it's a foolish request, but you have some idea of my past, yeah?

MATT: “Um, a fraction, maybe.”

LIAM: I once was on a path to, to be one of these, and I thought there was a chance--

MATT: “Interesting”

LIAM: That I might have known this one.

MATT: “Are you telling me you were a Scourger?”

LIAM: No, no. No. I know about them a little bit.

MATT: “Right, right.”

LIAM: I thought that this one, while the chances were slim, I thought this one might be a person that I came up with, in the Empire. Or knew something about, and perhaps they could be useful for my dealings with your queen, and I was incorrect. It caught me off-guard. Frankly, it would've caught me off-guard if it was the– the individual I thought it was possibly.

MATT: “Well--“

LIAM: I would like to see to them further but I have an errand to run, and I just don't want to miss my window and I have to get my thoughts in order and sometimes I'm like this, I like to have order, and not be all– I just need a bit more time.

MATT: “So are you requesting that we not accelerate this timetable, if I'm to understand?”

LIAM: Yes, I thought it might be as early as this evening or tomorrow morning but it sounds like I have a few days.

MATT: “I'll see what I can do.”

LIAM: I would very much like to speak with this person again, even in your presence, if that makes it more conducive.

MATT: “I'll see what I can do.”

LIAM: Thanks and I don't want to push my luck, I appreciate your help.

MATT: “Of course. I have to get back to business, if you don't mind.”

LIAM: Certainly. And thank you.

MATT: “Light be with you.” Essek turns around and enters the Lucid Bastion, leaving you there solitary, still standing in the exterior courtyard.

LIAM: (to himself) What are you doing? What are you doing? Keep it together. You've got to keep the group together. Focus on the group. Focus on the group. And I just start walking in random directions for a minute, and then realize I'm an asshole and start walking towards the Xhorhaus.

MATT: Okay. While you guys have been up there having tea, Yeza's gone off to make some simple– he's not the greatest chef, but, you know, He can make basic, passable meal elements. Is there anything you guys want to do? Or are you just waiting for Caleb to return?

LAURA: I'm going to wander away and go to Yasha's room.

MATT: Hmm. You return to it. The beautiful painting of the flower field that you had painted for her there remains, cold and quiet.

LAURA: I shut the door behind me. I'm going to go over to the wall and (sighs) just put my hand on the mural, and I'm going to say: The Traveler told me to have faith. I know that this is who you are. I'm going to have faith in you, Yasha. I hope that the Stormlord can bring you home and back to who you really want to be. That's all. And I'll leave the room.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Yesterday, I, I'm going to pull out the sword and put it in front of me. Yesterday I begged the question of what this sword is and was told that it was a great weapon of elven descent. You have the notes, hidden underneath the dicks.

LAURA: Oh, sorry.

(laughter)

MATT: Say the notes are always hidden.

TALIESIN: Yeah, the Dwueth'var.

LAURA: It's Dwueth'var.

TALIESIN: Dwueth'var, yeah. I think this is a weapon that we can use. I think we can take it to the Burning Lodge, to the kiln. I think that perhaps they can reforge it.

MARISHA: Do you think there are people living in this kiln?

TALIESIN: Have I never explained?

LAURA: No, I just pictured a kiln all by itself.

MARISHA: Well, it's a mountain.

LAURA: Like you would use it. maybe.

MARISHA: I know it's like a volcano, we can assume.

TALIESIN: I've never been.

LAURA: Well, then how do you know if people live there?

TALIESIN: Well, this is as good a time as any. I'm going to continue whittling. The day after the Raven Queen ascended, three of her champions were given the task of dealing with one of the heroes of the war, and his body could not be maintained within a city for reasons that are lost. He had to be banished. And these three heroes were named Clay, Stone, and Dust. They argued for many days what to do, and Stone said that they should give him to the air, so that the beasts of the realm may carry his memory. Clay said that we should give him to the earth, that what grows from him will be a monument to his glory. Dust said that we should give him to the fire, that from the ashes great works would arise. And they prayed to the Raven Queen for guidance in these early days, and the Raven Queen eventually answered. She said that she had already taken what belonged to her, and that we were to– these three heroes were to find the Wildmother, and ask her guidance for what to do with what was left. And they traveled far into the woods, and waited for their visions. And eventually, she spoke to each of them in turn. She told Stone that he should take the limbs of this hero, and walk the plains until he found an oasis and a red and gold veined cave, and that beasts would gather there, that he would feed the limbs of this hero to the beasts that would water there, and upon that site would be a Menagerie with creatures that would be a gift to the Changebringer from the Wildmother, to remind her that nature is infinite. Clay entered into a forest until he found a spring of water surrounded by crystalline stone. And there he should put the head of the hero, that upon that site will be a garden whose flora shall be my gift to the Archeart, to remind her that nature is beautiful. And then Dust took all that was left, and walked into the mountains to the north, found a cave with a black onyx pool of fire and magma, and was told to burn what remained, that the ashes would be mixed into the brick and ink and steel, and everything that is made there will hold that hero's mark in this kiln would be the creations as a gift to the Allhammer to remind him that nature is the origin of material. And these three families have guarded and accepted the dead for all this time in these three temples. Each of us on occasion making a pilgrimage, but very rarely. Somewhere, there is a member of the Dust in the north, ready to help.

LAURA: Whoa. You're ancient.

TALIESIN: No, no, I mean--

LAURA: Your blood is ancient!

TALIESIN: It was a while ago. There's some things that are much older.

SAM: How old are you?

TALIESIN: Old enough.

SAM: What's that mean?

TALIESIN: I mean--

SAM: Say a number!

TALIESIN: I'm 2,000 years old.

SAM: Are you shitting me right now?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: Ah, fuck you!

(laughter)

TALIESIN: I don't remember any of this, this is just the stories that we were told.

LAURA: Wow.

TRAVIS: Your last name is Clay.

TALIESIN: Yeah, of the Clays.

LAURA: That's really cool.

TALIESIN: We have maintained that temple since, since the Raven Queen ascended in the name of the Wildmother.

LAURA: I just have one question. Who the fuck is the Raven Queen?

TALIESIN: Matron of Ravens, she who walks the dead to the... Does no one learn their--? Well, that's, there are many gods.

LAURA: Oh, okay, she's one of the gods.

TALIESIN: She is one of the gods.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay.

TALIESIN: Much as the Stormlord is one of the gods.

LAURA: Oh, okay okay.

TRAVIS: Allhammer and the, yeah.

TALIESIN: There are many gods.

LAURA: I don't know a lot about gods.

MARISHA: The Knowing Mistress.

SAM: So you think this--

LAURA: Who's the Knowing Mistress?

MARISHA: Another god.

LAURA: Whoa.

MARISHA: I learned a lot about gods.

TALIESIN: You can see her stone is there. I've built you a small stone of the Knowing Mistress.

MARISHA: Thanks, Clay.

TALIESIN: Everyone--

MARISHA: Caduceus, wow, that happened fast.

TALIESIN: Yep.

MARISHA: Clay's in my brain.

SAM: So there's a Dust person in the kiln?

TALIESIN: I would hope that many members of the Dust are still there.

SAM: They can help us make this weapon?

TALIESIN: Maybe, I don't know.

MARISHA: There's the skull of a hero of the Raven Queen?

MARISHA: In your temple?

TALIESIN: No, I mean...

MARISHA: In the graveyard?

TALIESIN: This hero's long gone, I mean it's just, this is just the story, I mean, the head came with us is what they say, although it's already gone. It's just another flower in the garden.

LAURA: Wow.

TALIESIN: But we have one more god on our side. I have a little wooden storm and lightning bolt wooden thing. I pull out my spirals and put the lightning bolt in one of the ears.

LAURA: Ooh, cool.

MARISHA: Dope.

TALIESIN: I think the Stormlord wants us to save her.

LAURA: We have the Stormlord, we got the Raven Queen here?

TALIESIN: Ah, Raven Queen is everywhere.

LAURA: But should we have a little thing for her or something?

TALIESIN: She doesn't really need it, I don't think I don't think any of us really--

MARISHA: I'm good.

LAURA: We got the Traveler here.

TALIESIN: I have the Traveler, I have a little thing for you for that.

LAURA: Thank you.

TALIESIN: And I have a pool for you, although I'm leaving it--

MARISHA: Wait, you built us a pool? What do you mean, a pool?

LAURA: Well no, it's a jacuzzi down below.

SAM: Hot tub.

TALIESIN: There's just a little shrine for whatever it is that you need.

MARISHA: The jacuzzi is a shrine?

TALIESIN: No.

MARISHA: For his shit?

TALIESIN: I'm going to point out a stone that has a tiny little, like a hole where water is.

MATT: Like a bird bath.

TALIESIN: A basin just big enough to drown your face in, if you're in the mood.

TRAVIS: I might be.

TALIESIN: You might be.

TRAVIS: I just--

SAM: I've got this. I'm good.

TALIESIN: There's a liquor cabinet downstairs.

SAM: That's me.

LAURA: Is there a god of alcohol?

TALIESIN: Guess maybe the Moonweaver?

MATT: There are a few different crossovers there.

TALIESIN: There are lots of gods, and there's still a point for the Stormlord right there, waiting for her.

LAURA: Good. You guys, I'm feeling really exhausted.

SAM: We traveled far today. Met a queen. Interrogated a crazy person, a Scourger.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Let's hit the hay.

LAURA: Wake up in the morning and--

SAM: Go somewhere else.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Oh, hey, Jester?

LAURA: Yeah?

MARISHA: Can you still send a message? Is that doable?

LAURA: Let me-- yes I can. Am I sending something to Dairon?

MARISHA: (groans)

LAURA: What should I say?

MARISHA: You're charming, just be like, do the Jester thing, just be like, (like Jester) Hey Dairon, just wanted to let you know, we're here.

LAURA: You sound so much like me, oh my gosh!

MARISHA: I've been around you so much.

LAURA: Oh my gosh.

MARISHA: I don't know, just be like, you know, Beau's fine. Hit us up when you need us. Bye, peace, but don't contact us if you don't need anything, Kay, bye.

LAURA: Should I tell her where we live?

MARISHA: If she's smart enough, she should be able to figure it out.

LAURA: That's true, we have a big tree on the top.

MARISHA: Yeah, a tree. That's pretty ostentatious.

LAURA: Yeah. Going to send a message.

MATT: Okay, what are you sending?

LAURA: Hey Dairon, it's me, Jester. I'm here with Beau. She's sorry she hasn't hit you up, but--

MARISHA and LAURA: -- we're here!

MARISHA: In Rosohna.

LAURA: In Rosohna. Bye!

MATT: About a minute passes with nothing.

MARISHA: Oh, maybe it's late, you know. Maybe she's not going to answer.

LAURA: She's asleep or she's probably going to answer.

TALIESIN: -- really mess up the--

MARISHA: I mean, she's gone.

LAURA: She's probably going to answer.

MARISHA: Do you think she's going to answer?

MATT: “You said you are here.”

MARISHA: Fuck.

MATT: “(sighs) It took long enough. If you could give me any inclination of where to find you. Things are difficult.” And that's it.

MARISHA: Fuck.

LAURA: Beau, she sounded like she really wanted to talk to you and it's probably kind of dangerous and she doesn't know where we are.

MARISHA: She can't... She's supposed to be an investigator!

LAURA: Well, maybe she shows up after we've already left, you know. Maybe we were up north or something?

MARISHA: Did she sound okay?

LAURA: She sounded intense, but I don't know if that's normal.

MARISHA: She's kind of intense, kind of normal.

LAURA: Should I send another message and tell her where to find us or--

MARISHA: Yeah, if you can.

LAURA: Or maybe you guys can wait until we leave tomorrow and it will be like, oh my gosh, okay, I thought--

TALIESIN: We certainly can't be held accountable for every person who comes up and rings our bell.

MARISHA: She's my mentor.

TALIESIN: Which is why I'm saying we should--

LAURA: I'm going to send another message.

MATT: Mm-hmm. So what are you saying?

MARISHA: Only if it's totally trouble, you know.

LAURA: We are at the Xhorhaus, obviously.

MARISHA: House with a big tree.

LAURA: There's a big tree on top.

MARISHA: It's got lights.

LAURA: We are super integrated. Be sneaky if you come say hi. Or we're going to leave tomorrow.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: We're going to leave.

TALIESIN: Wow. Flashback to some bad relationships. Come say hi, or we're leaving.

MATT: There is no response.

LAURA: No response, there's no response, she didn't respond, oh my gosh.

MATT: Caleb--

LAURA: Probably just going to show up.

MATT: Arrives at this point.

SAM: Or just was killed.

MARISHA: What, did you think she was in a situation where maybe she was getting caught?

LAURA: I don't know, maybe she's walking here right now, Beau.

LIAM: I'll seek out where everybody is in the house.

LAURA: Beau, Beau, Beau.

SAM: Hey, Cay.

MARISHA: What?

LIAM: Are we, do we need to figure anything else tomorrow? Are you good, Nott, for tomorrow?

SAM: We're going to go to sleep and travel some in the morning.

LIAM: You're good, you feel like this is a positive direction for your husband, your child?

SAM: Yes.

MATT: Yeza, who is off on the side of the room right now, with the little platter of shitty cakes that he's made.

SAM: They're great cakes.

MATT: “A very, ah, thank you so much. I'm ready, I'm ready whenever.”

SAM: Yeah, he does not want to be here anymore and I don't blame him because this place is crawling with monsters and bad guys.

LIAM: And you, Nott, are you--

SAM: Yeah, yeah, we'll deal with that tomorrow, yeah.

MARISHA: There's some leftover tea, Caleb.

LAURA: Yeah, go grab some.

MARISHA: I think, if you want.

MATT: “It's a little cold. I can heat it up for you, hold on.”

LIAM: Iced tea is fine, do you have ice?

MATT: “You're the wizard.”

TALIESIN: I don't think we have ice.

LIAM: Not my specialty.

MATT: “I'll go heat it up for you.”

MARISHA: Anyway, Jester and I are going to start heading to our rooms.

LAURA: We're just going to go upstairs, okay. Bye, you guys.

LIAM: Sleep, everyone needs to sleep because we have a lot to do tomorrow, we need to be on the ball.

LAURA: Yep yep yep yep. Beau.

MARISHA: What?

LAURA: Maybe you should sleep on the balcony or something, so if she comes up--

MARISHA: What if she comes, what if she brings trouble towards us?

TALIESIN: There's a bell on the door, guys.

LAURA: Well, she's not going to probably use it, she's super sneaky.

MARISHA: She's a spy! Sorry, you're right.

LAURA: You want to sleep on the porch, do you want me to sleep on the balcony maybe?

MARISHA: No, I don't want to– That's not safe! Maybe I could, oh.

TALIESIN: You know, a simple investment in a hammock could make all of this so much more pleasant. Just put a hammock on the balcony.

LAURA: Why is Caduceus following us upstairs?

(laughter)

Caduceus, we're being sneaky!

TALIESIN: Are you being sneaky?

LAURA: Caduceus, stop talking so loud!

TALIESIN: Well, you're talking loud enough for me to hear.

TRAVIS: What'd you say, Caduceus?

TALIESIN: I said they're trying to be sneaky.

LAURA: Caduceus, come on!

MARISHA: We said we were very sleepy.

LIAM: Caduceus, Fjord and I want you down here. We need to have a talk.

TALIESIN: All right.

MARISHA: There's no privacy in this house! Stupid group.

TALIESIN: Leave me alone!

(laughter)

MARISHA: Okay, okay, maybe just for a couple hours, if she doesn't show up, we'll see.

LAURA and MARISHA: Yeah.

MARISHA: I'll sleep down the front so she doesn't ring the bell. If you want to take the balcony.

LAURA: Okay, I'll sleep on the balcony.

MATT: Okay, where are you sleeping?

MARISHA: On the front stoop.

MATT: Front stoop, you got it.

MARISHA: We're behind a wall, right? We're gated?

MATT: It's not a wall, no, and there's maybe a small fence, but it's pretty open.

LAURA: If anybody comes up, you know, we had a fight or something.

MARISHA: Yeah, and I just passed out outside because--

LAURA: You're super drunk.

MARISHA: Yeah, and it was cooler. You know, more air.

LAURA: Yeah yeah yeah.

TRAVIS: Who's going to run recon? She's not coming up.

LIAM: When, if Caduceus comes back down the steps, Caleb is taking out his bottle of whiskey and is finding three other glasses in this place. Fjord, are there glasses in this place?

SAM: Yes, yes, we have glasses.

TALIESIN: There's still a ton upstairs with the tea. Sure.

LIAM: Did you go up, Nott, I thought all the ladies left.

SAM: Oh, sorry, no, they left, I'm still here. There's glasses, we're drinking tea. Yes.

LIAM: I am not drinking tea, are you drinking tea?

SAM: Yes, my husband made tea. We're drinking tea.

MATT: He comes back out with the freshly steaming kettle. “All right, we're ready to go!”

LIAM: All right, hold that, I really wanted some tea, you know, just in time.

MATT: “Of course!” Goes ahead and pulls a few glasses out and fills them for everybody.

LIAM: I pour a shot of whiskey in my own and put the bottle down in the middle of the table. Just one drink, anyone who wants to join. Boys, and Veth.

SAM: Do you want some boy time, that's fine, me and Yeza can go downstairs and start cleaning up.

MATT: “Yeah, I've got all sorts of things to make sure I've triple-packed.”

MARISHA: As I pass by the front, where he is.

LIAM: Yeza can stay if he wants to.

SAM: You want Yeza to stay and not me? Why, I'm confused. Do you want me to stay or not?

TALIESIN: I think everybody can stay who wants to stay.

SAM: Do you have something to say?

LIAM: I'm getting a drink, I just need to settle my nerves before tomorrow because we're jumping a very far distance and I'm still getting the hang of this and there's a lot going on.

SAM: Sure, sure.

LIAM: I just want everybody to be on the same page.

MARISHA: Caleb is being that guy. You guys aren't leaving me, are you?

SAM: Yeah, if you all want us to drink--

LIAM: Sit with me while I have a drink.

SAM: Sure, sure, we'll all sit around you, drinking tea while you get drunk, it's fine. Go ahead.

LIAM: I'm not going to get drunk, I'm going to have a shot and calm my nerves.

TALIESIN: Seems to be working.

(laughter)

LIAM: I haven't had a sip yet, Caduceus, I just– Have you tried this yet or have you only had tea? You only drank tea, haven't you?

TALIESIN: I only drink tea.

LIAM: You only--

TALIESIN: Well, I drink other things, but my brief experimentation with spirits has not gone well.

LIAM: Well, I'm glad you're all here. I'm glad the other two upstairs are here as well but I'm glad you're here, yeah. I stare at Fjord for a second. Are you good?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LIAM: Yeah.

SAM: Are you going to kill us all in our sleep tonight?

(laughter)

Oh my gosh.

LIAM: I guess maybe trying to do a toast is out of character. Yes, I'm going to kill all of you.

(laughter)

SAM: Well, I'll drink to that!

TALIESIN: To underdogs.

LAURA: To wonder dogs.

SAM: To Wonderbread!

LIAM: To wunderbars.

(laughter)

SAM: All right, let's go to sleep.

TALIESIN: Oh, yeah.

MATT: You guys finish your drinks, some tea, some tea plus, heading to your respective chambers.

MARISHA: No.

MATT: Except for you, you're staying on the stoop, you said?

MARISHA: And keeping an eye out for Dairon.

LAURA: I'm sleeping on the balcony.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: I might occasionally peak around the back, fervently looking for her.

TRAVIS: Are you up on the roof of the balcony or just your balcony?

LAURA: Just the balcony, the one that's a shared balcony.

TRAVIS: I'll go, I want to be under the tree a little bit.

MATT: Okay. You sit out in front of the tree.

LIAM: I'll stay for an hour writing in the other book and I'll turn in.

MATT: You got it. All right, as you all scatter to your respective positions for the evening's rest, keeping watch, looking out, Beau and Jester, make perception checks for me, please.

LAURA: (whistling) Ooh!

MARISHA: Okay okay okay okay.

LAURA: 24.

MARISHA: 19.

MATT: 19.

MARISHA: I think that's a 16, 19.

MATT: You, from the balcony standpoint, glance off the side and you see a figure leap, and hands very quietly touch the edge of the balcony railing.

MARISHA: She was going up the balcony.

LAURA: The balcony rail where I am?

MATT: Yeah. Like five feet from you.

LAURA: Ah, hi.

MATT: You see slowly, a drow head rise up to look towards you. You recognize it as the drow image of Dairon.

LAURA: That was so cool.

MATT: “Where is Beauregard?”

LAURA: Well, she's downstairs on the stoop, literally right below you.

MATT: (whooshing) Leaps up, very silently does a cartwheel flip over the side before landing on the tips of her toes.

LAURA: You are so sneaky!

MATT: “Shh.”

LAURA: Come inside, have a nice cup of tea.

MATT: “Fetch her, we have much to discuss.” She stomps ever so quietly into the house.

TALIESIN: (ringing)

LAURA: No no no.

MATT: It's on the balcony.

TALIESIN: Oh, damn, damn.

(laughter)

MATT: The second set of chimes.

TRAVIS: That fucking doorbell.

TALIESIN: Thwarted again.

MATT: And that's where we'll pick up next week.

SAM: No wait, what? No! Come on.

MATT: It's almost 11:00.

SAM: (sighs)

MARISHA: Oh, I'm in trouble.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: I'm in trouble, I can just feel it. Did you see the way she asked for me?

TRAVIS: Dairon's back and you're-

LAURA and TRAVIS: gonna be in trouble

ALL: Hey-la, hey-la, Dairon's back!

SAM: (descending slide whistle)

MATT: That slide whistle is gone forever now. I'm going to throw it out.

SAM: Seven dollars. Best money I've spent.

TALIESIN: Seven dollars and never seen again.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: That was really--

MATT: That was an emotional recovery episode of the past few weeks.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Was it, though?

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Shit.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Well, it had some elements of recovery, some elements of continuous tension rising and puckering.

LAURA: Puckering.

(laughter)

LIAM: Mine is puckered!

MARISHA: What rises and puckers? Never mind.

MATT: No, anyway. Anyway!

TALIESIN: Starfish.

MATT: All right, so yeah. We'll be back next Thursday to pick up from here to see what Dairon has to say, as well as these chuckleheads figuring out their next, I guess, the next steps and path to take. In the meantime, hope you guys have a wonderful week, we love you very much, and is it Thursday yet? Good night.

SAM: (slide whistle)

ALL: No!

[epic music]

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