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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.

ALL: We play Dungeons & Dragons!

MATT: Case in point. Before we jump into tonight's game, we have some announcements to get through. First and foremost, we have our first of two sponsors for tonight's episode, beginning with our friends at D&D Beyond.

TRAVIS: (operatic) D&D Beyond!

MATT: What is it now?

SAM: Guys, finally the election for presidency of D&D Beyond is officially open. Head over to D&D Beyond to cast your vote, for real. Get special rewards just for voting, like character sheet backgrounds and portrait frames. Voting closes August 2nd during the live show at Gen Con during intermission. Go vote now at dndbeyond.link/crelection. Now to wrap out the campaign-- nothing too crazy tonight. We're just going to, each of us, me and Liam, are going to just read a brief closing statement. That's it. Cue the stirring music. (clears throat) (triumphant music)

SAM: Sure. My fellow Samericans, for months you have watched me compete for your vote. I've weathered insults, I've survived scandal, and I pushed through very, far too long comedy bits, like this one. I know that many of you think that I haven't taken this race as seriously as I should have. After all, the President of D&D Beyond is a real position that demands respect and true leadership. Which is why tonight, I have no gag. There's no comedy, there's no joke, no sound effects or master debating. There's no mime-clown-juggler waiting in the wings. (laughs)

MARISHA: (laughs)

SAM: Not the time, Max. Not the time. Tonight, I'm just going to be real, all right? Hi! I'm Sam Riegel, an ordinary guy who wants to bring D&D Beyond into the future. Rules, structure, I get it, okay? It's important, but that spark that brings us to this table every Thursday night, the excitement of the unknown? That anything could happen in D&D? That's what this game that we love, and my campaign, are all about. Preserving the game, sure, but also evolving it and hooking a new generation of DMs and players. With this app, we can all build great encounters and great things together. I'm Sam Riegel. The kind of guy-- (laughter) The kind of guy you'd want to hang out with at a bar while you sip a beer and while I sip a 2015 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon. (laughter) I'm Sam Riegel, a man of the people. I put on my pants in the morning just like you guys, with one servant per leg and two more strapping on my girdle. I'm Sam Riegel, a regular Joe. When I get back from work, my dog Zuckerberg always jumps up and greets me at the airlock, my two lovely kids, Jim, James, I want to say Jim, and... the girl. (laughter) Well, they're the love of my life, the apple of my eye. I couldn't do this without them. You know what, I think there might be a third kid, but don't quote me on that. I'm Sam Riegel, and no matter what you may think of me, I'm devoted, every Thursday night, for the past 18 months, to shining a weird, wacky, musical and sometimes clever light on the fine people at D&D Beyond. Why should I lead them? Well, because I literally have no other skills. So please, give me this chance to show what I can bring to this company, to this game we love, to D&D, and beyond. Thank you, and God bless, you know what, it's just two kids, I think the third one was just over for a sleepover that night, and I got confused. But it's just two kids. God bless Samerica. Liam? (triumphant music)

LIAM: Cut the music, please. Cut the music!

SAM: That's not funny. Oh no.

LIAM: Listen, folks. I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad under Riegel's stewardship of D&D Beyond. The bits are getting longer and the prep time is getting shorter. (laughter) Misinformed players are getting TPKed across the globe. Matthew Mercer is hiding from silly string under the table. His wife is punching players left and right and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the spots are unfit for broadcast and the details are factually incoherent, and we sit here watching our Twitch accounts while this organ grinder monkey would have us believe that D&D Beyond is about the yuks, and how many dicks we can slide into the conversation, as if that's the way it's supposed to be! We know things are bad, worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy and nobody questions it anymore. We sit at our tables and slowly the game we enjoy is turning into Romper Room, and all we can do is say please, I love this game so much, just give me my half orc and hit dice. I promise I'll listen to this mad man's wine preferences and awful accent work week after week! (laughter) If just Critical Role, give me 10 minutes of actual gameplay this week! I guess that's enough. But I say that's not enough! (laughter) I want you to get mad! I don't want you to write, I don't want you to protest, I don't want you to write to Chris Perkins, because I don't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about this man's ignorance of rogue mechanics, or the flagrant firbolg shooting, or the collusion with England, or the constant ego-fluffing. All I know is that, first, you've got to get mad.

TALIESIN: Oh my god!

LIAM: You've got to stand up and say I'm a D&D Beyond user, god dammit! These stats have value! (laughter) So. I want you all to get up. I want you to get up out of your chairs. All of you. Right now. I want you to go and spam the Twitch chat. Get up and hammer that election box with your Johnson. I want you to create disgruntled fan art. I want you to get up and grab your computer, enable voice detect, and I want you to yell, I want you to yell, "I'm mad! Mad!" I want you to yell, "I'm mad as hell "and I'm not going to take Sam anymore!" Mordenkainen is rolling in his grave! (prolonged beep)

SAM: Where did we go?

MATT: Okay.

SAM: What just happened? What did you cut to? What happened? (laughter)

MATT: All right. So. Put your votes in! For someone. Thank you, Sam and Liam, and thank you, well, D&D Beyond.

SAM: Sure.

TRAVIS: That was nuts.

SAM: Holy shit.

LIAM: I'm a passionate man.

MATT: You are a very passionate man, and I love that movie. Thank you, D&D Beyond. We got one week to figure out which of these two chuckleheads is going to win. Our second sponsor tonight. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Oh god.

LIAM: Kids in 2019 love homages to films from the '70s.

TALIESIN: Wow. (laughter)

MATT: To be fair, the cool ones do. Right?

TALIESIN: Wow.

MATT: Our fantastic second sponsor tonight, return sponsor, our friends at Idle Champions.

TRAVIS: Idle Champions!

MATT: For those who haven't heard our spiel before, or haven't had a chance to check it out, Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is a strategy game using iconic characters from Dungeons & Dragons lore as well as novels, campaigns, and shows, all at your fingertips. It's available for PC, Mac, Steam, and on the web, along with Xbox and PS4, where you get to build your own party of these characters, outfit then with equipment, send then into dungeon runs and adventures and storylines based on actual official D&D stories. They just apparently released a huge massive update focused on their year one champions, which includes a classic, Drizzt Do'Urden.

LAURA: Yes!

MATT: Everyone's favorite dark elf ranger with a panther and dual scimitars. He's got a long history. If you don't know who I'm talking about, you should read. As well as a number of legendary champions of the hall. Legendary companions of the hall, my apologies. To celebrate this update, all players can claim one free gold chest with the code Rebalanced4U. One word, Rebalanced4U. The U is a letter U. Which can be entered in the in-game shop as we speak, right now. Check out the game at IdleChampions.com/CriticalRole.

TRAVIS: Nice.

MATT: All right. Thank you, sponsors. A couple other updates. First off, on Monday, July 29th, at 7PM Pacific here on the Twitch channel, we'll be airing our very own special Call of Cthulhu one-shot, run by our brilliant Taliesin Jaffe.

TRAVIS: The dark lord!

MATT: His dark and twisted mind has apparated this tale for a number of players familiar to those of you who've been following us for a while. Some at this table, some not, who will be joining from the sides. I think we've already announced, actually.

TALIESIN: Yeah, not everybody lived, but yeah.

LAURA: So scary.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: There is a creepy mime walking around the studio. He's lurking. That was some fucking lurking.

LAURA: He's so much creepier now that he doesn't have the clown wig on.

TALIESIN: Oh god, stop!

(laughter)

MATT: He's still stalking.

TALIESIN: He's so quiet.

MATT: The game is called The Shadow of the Crystal Palace, is the story. It'll be on our Twitch channel. If you miss the live broadcast, it will be available on VOD on our YouTube channel the following Wednesday. So look for that. A huge thank you to everybody who came out to San Diego Comic-Con to see our panel on Friday. We've already placed it on our YouTube channel, I believe, as it was on Talks this previous Tuesday, so if you missed it, it's available to watch now.

LAURA: Thank you for all the questions, especially for me and Travis.

(laughter)

SAM: Are you being salty to our audience?

LAURA: Yes, I am.

SAM: Thank you legitimately for all the questions for me.

(laughter)

I had four or five.

(laughter)

MATT: For bringing such interesting conversations points for interesting people. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Bless you, bless you.

MATT: Yeah, and a shout-out and thank you to the McElroys and our friends at Adventure Zone for inviting me and Marisha to be on their Friday night reading. It was so much fun to finally get a chance to meet the whole family and for us to hang out that night and be silly, and a guy named Lin showed up. That was fun, too.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Kind of cool. Also as a reminder, next week's episode of Critical Role will be on Friday instead of Thursday, as it will be our live show at Gen Con.

TRAVIS: Oh shit.

MATT: Instead of our normal Thursday slot, it'll be Friday, August 2nd at 5PM Pacific, 8PM Eastern, which is we start it there, at Eastern time. A VOD will be available as per usual, and YouTube on Monday, so look for that. Laura, you have some updates.

LAURA: Oh, yeah, well, so you know, we put on the website that we announced some of our live show merch that's going to be available at Gen Con, so I'm just going to show it off. We've got our d20, our oversized d20, I may have had a hand in--

SAM: Whoa, it's big.

LAURA: It's a giant d20! There you go. What'd you roll?

SAM: Four.

TALIESIN: Here, here.

LAURA: It's sparkly. You can't really tell on the website.

TALIESIN: Oh god, it looks like Wonder Girl.

LAURA: We've got this-- oh, this bag o' dice.

SAM: Oh! Oh shit.

TRAVIS: It was not a 20.

TALIESIN: No, it was not a 20.

LAURA: Oh my god, if it was a 20. These are gorgeous. They're gorgeous. You can go on the website and check it out. Our shop and everything. Because here's the thing, these are all going to be available at our live shows, but as of next year, any overstock that we have, we're going to make it available on the store as well, so I know some people are sad because they won't be able to get the live merch, if they're not going to be able to be there, but have patience, because it might be available later on. Then also, look at this cutie cutie chibi Jester pin.

TRAVIS: Aww, look at that. Is that a donut behind her?

LAURA: This is our live show variant of it. When I say variant, that means that there's going to be a non-variant version available in the store very soon. Chibi Jester. (laughter) I'm in charge of merch, you guys. Jester and dice. (laughter) Also, available I think right now-- oh, and this by the way, this chibi design is designed by Jenny Parks, because she's amazing. Did I say Park? Park, Jenny Park. She's so awesome. Then we also have this Vox Machina Origins pin in the store. It's yeah, for our comic book.

TALIESIN: From our comic book.

SAM: Where is that? Is that in our store?

LAURA: This is in our store.

SAM: Now?

LAURA: Yeah, it's available in our US and our UK shop, right now.

LIAM: Can I have that one?

LAURA: This was our like sample one that came in, so it's like extra special.

LIAM: Can I have it?

LAURA: I mean, maybe. I can say yes now and then I might take it back.

LIAM: Okay.

LAURA: Okay.

(laughter)

LAURA: So yeah, that's goin' on.

SAM: That's great stuff.

LAURA: Yeah, right? I'm going to play with the oversized tonight.

SAM: Oh. That's amazing.

LAURA: Oh my god--

SAM: She'll play with every one that we make and sell.

LAURA: Yes, obviously.

MATT: Individually.

LAURA: Where did the oversized dice go? Taliesin took it. (laughter) We can share it tonight.

TALIESIN: All right, I'll do that. Okay, yeah, right there.

LIAM: I still have an unhealthy amount of adrenaline.

SAM: (laughs) You're shaking.

LAURA: I know, you are, you're like--

SAM: Wow.

TALIESIN: Somewhere there's a parent who is realizing that he has to explain to their child what Network is, and that excites me.

MATT: Oh, it's so good.

MARISHA: I can feel hundreds of those conversations happening at once.

TALIESIN: I remember when I was given that DVD for Christmas. It was like that deep.

MARISHA: Everyone should watch Network. Mandatory viewing.

MATT: Not only is it a classic film, but it gets more and more poignant with every passing year. Anyway. I believe that concludes our announcements, so.

MARISHA: Like a Tisch School for the Arts audition. (clapping)

SAM: Oh, sorry.

MATT: Let's go ahead and jump in (laughter) to tonight's episode of Critical Role.

(cheering) (water bubbling) (thunder) (explosion) ♪ Role, Critical Critical ♪ ♪ Role, Critical Critical ♪ ♪ Role, Critical Critical ♪ ♪ Role, Critical Critical ♪ ♪ Role, Critical Critical ♪ ♪ Roll the dice ♪ ♪ 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 ♪ (dramatic music) ♪ 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 ♪ ♪ Role, Critical ♪ ♪ Roll the dice ♪ ♪ Critical Role ♪ ♪ Critical Role ♪ ♪ Can you answer the call? ♪ ♪ Diggin' deep in your soul ♪ ♪ As the legend unfolds ♪ ♪ Now it's your turn ♪ ♪ Your turn, your turn ♪ ♪ To roll ♪ (flames whooshing) (dragon roaring)

Part I[]

MATT: And welcome back. So last we left off, the Mighty Nein had finished their business, it seemed, in returning the remnants of Nott's family to safety on the Menagerie Coast in Nicodranas, under the watch of Marion Lavore, mother of Jester. They had figured out what business they wished to focus on at the time being, and with a little bit more knowledge about the history of Caduceus's family purpose and main goal, along with the unveiling of information regarding these shattered artifacts that you've been slowly assembling in disparate places across Wildemount, you decided to travel far north to the Greying Wildlands, beyond both the Dynasty and the Empire, into the outskirts of the conflict and beyond. Through the help of Essek, the Shadowhand within Xhorhas, you found yourselves instantaneously teleported, with a brief misfire and a bit of physical damage to the party, you emerged underneath a growing flurry of snow in the center of the Flotket Alps. Looking upon the snow-covered pine forests that swallowed the valley before you. The large cragulous peaks covered with ice and white, as the clouds above began to grow darker and darker, the growth of a blizzard making its way in your direction. A lake in the center of this valley, and along the singular black mountain, where snowfall cannot seem to find purchase long enough before melting. The various, slow, glowing trickles of molten rock finding their way down the mountain from various vents before hissing into a large column of steam as they reach the outskirts of this lake. And that is where we pick up. Suddenly, the freezing temperature clutches each of you. Looking across the way--

SAM: (sneezes)

LAURA: Bless you!

SAM: It's freezing here.

(laughter)

MATT: Essek, looking around, "Very well, you have your destination. (grunts)" You can see him shrugging off a little bit of, you know, vein bulge in his forehead from the damage he also sustained along the journey. "I will make my way back to my city of origin. Good luck." He turns around and finds a small area under one of the nearby trees and begins carving a small circle into the ground. Familiar to you.

SAM: Anything you can tell us about this area before you leave?

MATT: Not looking up, still drawing amongst the root.

SAM: I say, oh, sorry, no, go on.

MATT: "I have not been here. Otherwise, this would not have been as tumultuous a journey."

LAURA: Yeah, that felt really good, by the way. Thank you.

MATT: "Not all powerful magic is perfect."

MARISHA: I think it makes him more likable, to be honest.

SAM: Flawed character.

MARISHA: Exactly.

TRAVIS: Imperfection.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: We will be in touch while we are here.

MATT: "Please do. Let me know, should you require anything."

LIAM: Just stalling for time a bit, if you know.

MATT: "And with that," and he steps into the circle, and vanishes.

LAURA: So you can do that, too. We're not stranded here.

LIAM: Well, so far, my average is pretty good. I haven't put us inside a wall.

SAM: That's true.

LIAM: Maybe later, though.

LAURA: We can always hope.

SAM: Caducey, where are we going?

LAURA: Ow. Shut up.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: I think we're going there. Look at it. This is going to be fun.

TRAVIS: You've never been here before, right?

TALIESIN: No, no, I haven't. This is a lot.

LAURA: Have you seen it in your visions, though?

TALIESIN: I have. I have seen it from a distance, from very high up. It's a little colder than I expected, but, (sighs) is there even the slightest sense of civilization anywhere? Are we just out in the middle of--

MATT: From where you stand right now, make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Get it.

TALIESIN: I was hoping to make a perception check about three miles out, but fine. 14.

SAM: Got to use that big dice.

LAURA: That's true, you should've used this.

TALIESIN: Next time.

MATT: What you see is mountain, ridge, snow, tree, lava, and rock.

TRAVIS: Bob Ross.

MATT: You see no signs of civilization, you see no structures from this perspective, you're on the opposite side of this lake facing towards the mountain, Kravaraad.

TALIESIN: This is perfect.

TRAVIS: How far are we from that lake? Can we see if it's frozen over?

MATT: Actually, now that it's arrived.

TRAVIS: Oh, shit! Sorry, Deven, sorry, sorry, sorry, Deven.

ALL: Ooh, ahh.

LAURA: Ooh, this map is, like, beat up. This one was harder to get.

MARISHA: It's got blood on it, too! Why do all our maps have blood on them?

TRAVIS: Crystal Lands Tundra.

TALIESIN: That's from the nosebleed.

SAM: This is awesome. So where are we?

MARISHA: Altitude.

TRAVIS: Emerald Gulch, so we're, what? Krakow? Where are we? What?

MATT: Kravaraad.

SAM: Flotket Alps at Kravaraad.

TRAVIS: Kravaraad.

LAURA: Whoa, like in the middle?

SAM: Fraggle Rock.

LAURA: ♪ Down in Kravaraad ♪

TRAVIS: There's a lake, yeah, not too far away from the Cindercrest Sanctum? Cindercrest? Cinderrest.

TALIESIN: Sure. Man.

TRAVIS: Something that says Uthodurn. Is that the fucking place?

TALIESIN: I don't know.

TRAVIS: I think that's the one they said with the--

TALIESIN: Oh, yeah--

TRAVIS: The sword?

LAURA: Oh, yeah!

MARISHA: Let me see.

TRAVIS: Do we remember if that's the name?

SAM: Uthodurn, elves and dwarves, question mark. That's what I wrote down.

TRAVIS: They live together in harmony and they can forge amazing weapons made of badassery and shit?

TRAVIS: That's the gist of what you recall.

LAURA: We're going to go meet elves and dwarves!

TALIESIN: It's right next door to where we're going.

TRAVIS: Beautiful.

TALIESIN: It's as if destiny itself brought us here.

TRAVIS: Great. You want me to spread this out?

MARISHA: Star Razor is the name of the sword?

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: Caduceus, this is your story, I think. Which way do we go? Where do we enter?

TALIESIN: Well.

LIAM: Was anything passed down to you? You know, through spoken word from your family, or--

TALIESIN: Well, there were conversations, but again, they were conflicting and strange. I don't know anybody who'd ever been here before, if they had, they didn't admit to it. But, if I were walking, looking for a place, I would head right up to where the lava springs from. I say we just head right in.

TRAVIS: Sure.

LAURA: Won't we melt?

TALIESIN: Nah.

MARISHA: What if there's like an entrance from the side or something that might be less deadly.

TALIESIN: Less polite, though. You usually just want to knock on the front door. The side door just seems very personal.

LIAM: Direct as always.

TRAVIS: I'm sure we'll see as we head up, right?

LAURA: Sure.

TALIESIN: The closer we get, I think we'll get a sense of it. I'm a little giddy.

TRAVIS: Sorry, I was blanking out on the map. Is the lake frozen or liquid water?

MATT: From what you can tell, there is steam rising. You cannot see from this distance if the entire lake is not frozen or is frozen, but wherever the molten rock is hitting, there is steam rising.

TALIESIN: That storm's on its way right now, right? It's definitely--

SAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Why don't we head towards the lake, see if we can find some warm water, and I don't know how far we're going to get before it gets impossible to move forward, but at least let's make our way there before we have to bed down.

TRAVIS: Agreed.

MARISHA: Follow and walk along the lake?

SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: We were at the beach yesterday.

LAURA: Yeah, what a shift.

TALIESIN: What a world.

LAURA: Is anybody super cold?

TALIESIN: I've got my big coat, and I put my hood up.

LAURA: I feel fine, but if anyone is cold.

SAM: I've got some cold stuff that I bought.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: How are our humans doing?

LIAM: How are we doing?

MARISHA: I have my adrenaline.

LIAM: Scarf and a coat.

MATT: It's chilly.

LIAM: You have no sleeves.

MARISHA: I'm fine, I have my strength and physical prowess.

LAURA: I pull out the Rod of Hand Warming and I hand it over to Beau.

TALIESIN: I forgot we had that.

MARISHA: Oh yeah, I'll take that. That's nice.

SAM: We also need the Wand of Smiles out here. We have that still?

LAURA and TALIESIN: Yes, of course.

SAM: We never used that.

LAURA: You know.

TALIESIN: We never use the Rod of Smiles.

LAURA: I can make people smile without it, so.

SAM: That's true.

TRAVIS: Trees where we are or barren up to the mountainside?

MATT: There are trees, they're a little bit scattered on the edge, you're basically at the base of a mountain that heads down into this valley, and then across the valley is where this Kravaraad dark rock mountain is. Where you are, there are a few trees, not too closely clustered, and then the further down in the valley you go, the more it becomes a pinewood forest.

TRAVIS: Ducey?

TALIESIN: I say we head towards it, and if anybody gets a feeling or sees anything along the way, just make yourself known.

LAURA: I'm going to keep my eyes out for anything I get a feeling about.

MATT: Okay, fair enough.

TRAVIS: I'll keep an eye on the treetops until we're out into a clearing.

MARISHA: I'll watch the lake.

MATT: Okay. Could I have a marching order?

MARISHA: No.

LAURA: Caduceus.

TALIESIN: I'll come out in front.

TRAVIS: I'm next to Ducey.

MATT: All right, Caduceus is up front, and we have Fjord next to Caduceus.

SAM: I'll go next. Sipping on some booze to keep me warm.

TALIESIN: Laid back.

LAURA: I'll go behind Nott.

MATT: All righty. Beau?

MARISHA: I'll come up the rears.

MATT: All right, there you go, so.

(laughter)

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Unless you have a preference.

LIAM: No.

MATT: Okay. All right, so. Heading down into the deeper and deeper regions of this wood, I need two of you to go ahead and make a perception check. If you were the one that was saying--

TRAVIS: I'll help you do it.

MATT: You said you were keeping an eye for anything strange.

LAURA: Yes, I am.

TRAVIS: Oh yeah, please.

MATT: So it'll be the two of you.

SAM: Oh, so you don't get help.

MATT: Or you can help him.

TALIESIN: Go ahead, yeah.

LAURA: Should I roll that one, too?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I think we both roll this one.

LAURA: Oh god, what if we both roll low on it? Oh good, ha ha.

TALIESIN: See, that ain't happening.

SAM: Buy this dice.

LAURA: Perception?

MATT: Yes.

LAURA: 23.

MATT: 23, not bad.

LAURA: No wait, is that right?

TALIESIN: Five plus--

LAURA: Yeah, plus eight. 23.

MATT: There you go. That'll work out, okay. You all trudge through the crunching snow, the feet eventually pushing through into the softer floors of the forest here, making your way past large, looks like rocks or lava bombs that at some point in the past may have been jettisoned by Kravaraad, and just landed and seem to be these unnatural and like a sore thumb sticking out amongst the rest of the topography. These large pieces of black volcanic rock.

TALIESIN: I'd love to stop and look at one for a second, just to get a good, is it just volcanic rock, or is there any mineral deposits in it, if I give it a bit of a scrape and get into it?

MATT: Make an intelligence check.

TALIESIN: That one. Okay.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: That's fair. 14.

MATT: 14. It looks like, upon close inspection, there are elements in the exterior that are porous volcanic rock, but scraping away bits of it, a large portion of this is probably standard granite. Whatever this was, the entire mountain is not made of volcanic rock, but whatever this was, it was probably jettisoned out during some sort of an ancient explosion.

LAURA: It's graphite. We're fucked.

MATT: Oh, shit. Yeah, your hand begins to tingle, Caduceus.

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: But continuing onward.

MARISHA: (shuddering)

MATT: I'm trying to remember the time of day you guys had journeyed from at this point. It'd been relatively midday, if I recall. Because you had stayed the night in Nicodranas, and then journeyed back to Rosohna.

SAM: In the morning.

MATT: In the morning, and stayed a bit just to kind of, so it's like late afternoon, we'll say. Because you had some time to make your plans with Yeza and meet with Essek and get everything situated there. So like midday, early afternoon. You still have a few hours of daylight, you assume at this point in time. The journey itself is marked by gray skies and a growing flurry of snowfall and wind, and the wind is, it adjusts, sometimes it grows really strong and bites through, and you all have to stop and try and find yourself to cover for a bit, and then it calms, and you trudge on further and further, the canopy of the forest eventually blocking your entire view of the valley as you begin to reach the bottom of its trough. As you were keeping an eye out, you begin to notice there is a mist that has gathered across the bottom of this forest, the closer you get to the bottom, and closer to the proximity of the lake's exterior. Traveling around what you had seen to be the southern side of it, you notice the mist start revealing shapes, and you think you see someone standing towards the edge of the lake as the treeline begins to thin, and you find yourself getting closer and closer to the edge of where this water begins.

LAURA: Uh, guys.

SAM: Hmm?

LAURA: Caduceus, you don't think there's anybody like, bad over here, do you?

TALIESIN: Oh, I don't think so. I mean--

LAURA: Do you know so?

TALIESIN: No, I mean, depends on what you mean by bad, really, sometimes it's just people with a different agenda--

LAURA: People that will attack us, I mean, specifically.

TALIESIN: Oh, I mean, that's not bad, just people, everybody attacks us, and yeah, probably, if history's any indication, we'll probably get attacked, yeah.

LIAM: Why don't we pretend like there might be people here who would attack us?

LAURA: Okay, well in that case, I saw something in the mist.

SAM: Where?

LAURA: Over at the lake, right in front of us.

MARISHA: What's with figures in mist with us?

TALIESIN: Oh, I mean, it's a lovely day, why wouldn't you be out in it?

MARISHA: This smoke isn't toxic, by the way, is it?

TALIESIN: I'm going to lick the air.

MATT: Make a constitution check.

TALIESIN: Cool.

SAM: Lick the air.

TALIESIN: Oh no.

MARISHA: Oh boy.

TALIESIN: Save or check?

MATT: Save.

TALIESIN: Six.

MATT: Six. It's moisture.

TALIESIN: All right, it's just, yeah. It doesn't taste like burning or anything, it's just--

MATT: No, no, nothing odd, out of the ordinary, it is a cold moisture, it is just outside of the freezing point.

TALIESIN: Okay.

MARISHA: I don't trust it. I put on like a makeshift face mask. I take one of my extra sashes and--

TALIESIN: I'm going to remind everybody, as we move forward, that according to legends, that we're going to run into a group of people, similar belief system to my own, perhaps different, so we're expecting to see people. Maybe leading with our fist is not necessarily, I'm not saying to take it off the table, but we're going to just try and come in for once and hope that perhaps we're being expected.

LAURA: Should we like go out, like saying, "Oh hey, "Wildmother is the coolest," and stuff like that?

TALIESIN: I wish you'd say that more often, actually.

TRAVIS: Should we say their name? I forget the story you told. There was your family, the Clays, but there was also two others.

LAURA: The Dusts and--

LIAM: And the Stones?

LAURA and TALIESIN: This is Dust.

TRAVIS: Dust.

TALIESIN: The priest of Dust was the one who started the kiln.

TRAVIS: What was the third faction?

TALIESIN: Stone.

TRAVIS: Stone, okay.

TALIESIN: Started the Menagerie. That's somewhere else.

LAURA: Is that on the coast?

TALIESIN: Possibly.

LIAM: Is there some old word, some old name for it? Or is it just whatever word is being used for Dust these days?

TALIESIN: Well, we were called the Clays and always have been, so I have to just assume that the Dusts have always been the Dusts. I don't know, the stories don't say if they were, they don't call them brothers, they don't say they were related, I couldn't tell you what they look like, or where they come from other than the fact three families all were at one point together, and obviously, friends and compatriots.

LAURA: And lovers.

TRAVIS: Okay, Jessie, just--

TALIESIN: Your mind.

TRAVIS: Pace it.

SAM: They could be.

LAURA: They could've been.

SAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Well, could be.

LAURA: Just a big orgy of Clay and Dust and Stone!

TRAVIS: The mist is getting to you a little quick here.

TALIESIN: But, yeah. I don't know what to expect. I know that there's a dozen names for the place I come from, and I've heard a couple different names for this place.

TRAVIS: Any identifying features, or call and repeat that you guys might share?

TALIESIN: I would hope they would know the name Clay.

TRAVIS: Sure.

LIAM: You are the most well-informed of us to this, so I think we all trust you.

LAURA: What is the figure doing?

TALIESIN: Have faith.

MATT: Currently, it looks like it's standing on the banks, looking out across the lake.

LAURA: It's just standing there?

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: Why don't I go snoop around, just see what it is?

LAURA: Why don't we just call out to it?

SAM: What if it's got friends?

TALIESIN: I almost did, I was just trying to be polite, because I know that makes everybody nervous when I do that.

LAURA: I mean, we haven't been super quiet walking up, and it looks like his back is to us, so.

TRAVIS: Whatever you want to do.

TALIESIN: Let's just keep heading in that direction, and we won't try and be particularly sneaky about it, we'll just--

SAM: I'm going to try to be particularly sneaky.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: I'm going to dart off to the side, into the mist.

MATT: Make a stealth check.

SAM: Okay. With my hood up. Ooh, not great. Okay, 21.

MATT: 21, okay.

LIAM: A low roll for a rogue.

TALIESIN: "Not great." I know.

MATT: Nott darts off into the nearby forest, you guys continue heading towards the edge of the lake?

MARISHA: I'm actually going to see Nott do that and peel off and do the same.

MATT: Make a stealth check.

TALIESIN: I'm going to quickly, just since we're walking, I'm going to just talk to the trees for a second. You guys would let us know if there was anything ominous or suspicious coming up, right? I mean, you know, I feel like we're at that point.

MATT: You figure the trees probably understood you.

TALIESIN: They seem to nod. Or it could be wind, I don't know.

MATT: It's probably the wind.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: We have an understanding.

LIAM: It's probably fine. I cast Mage Armor.

MATT: Okay.

(laughter)

A shimmer of arcane energy briefly apparates around the exterior of Caleb's body and then vanishes.

TALIESIN: Strive for peace, prepare for war, I'm well aware.

TALIESIN: All right. I'm with ya.

MARISHA: 25 on my stealth roll.

MATT: 25, nice. You both peel off to the sides and begin to approach the edge. Now because, you guys are traveling at a casual pace? You guys are keeping up with them in tandem, but off to the side, hidden. You approach the edge. Since Jester pointed it out, you can see the shape. The closer you get, you see it looks to be female. You can see long, straight hair, going past shoulders. I don't know if they're fishing off the edge of the lake. You can't really see what their activity is. They're, you know, just looking out over the waters. As you get close, those of you who are not being stealthy, making your way through the snow. (crunching) Footfalls. The figure turns and looks towards you, the vacant dark eyes, the sockets where they should be, glancing in your direction, the hair seems to almost lift, and it vanishes into the mist.

LAURA: Oh, she was bad, that's bad guy, that's bad guy.

TALIESIN: All right, that's bad. I'm going to do a quick Detect Undead.

TRAVIS: But the music's still fine, we're okay.

LAURA: I'm backing up away from the mist.

TALIESIN: Okay, you were right. I admit it, you were right.

SAM: She disappeared into the lake, over the lake?

MATT: Like her form just vanished into the mist.

LAURA: Did she look at us scary, or did she just look at us vacantly?

MATT: Just like a...

LAURA: Oh, I don't like it, I don't like it.

TRAVIS: Why this campaign? Can't it just be some brutish ogre instead of scary shit that's going to make me wake up in the middle of the night?

LIAM: Nope, it can only be that.

TALIESIN: Just think about last night, everything will be fine.

MATT: So?

TALIESIN: Yeah, Detect Undead?

MATT: All right. The radius on that is?

TALIESIN: Is 60 feet.

MATT: 60 feet.

TALIESIN: For the next you know, few seconds, I get like a good six seconds of, yeah.

MATT: As you focus, the exterior of your radius suddenly catches your attention to the right and left, and then pulls beyond your perspective range.

TALIESIN: We are in trouble, guys.

SAM: We're in trouble.

MATT: You are no longer stealthed.

SAM: I hide again.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: No.

TALIESIN: I am full, we're going to...

TRAVIS: Not happy fun times anymore?

TALIESIN: Nope, nope, you were right.

TRAVIS: Wasn't me.

TALIESIN: Quiet. Is there anything?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TALIESIN: I want my real-- No, that'll do.

LAURA: That's good.

TALIESIN: 28.

MATT: 28. Looking around you, like the mist is thick here at the base of the valley, and looking just beyond where the water is, you see like shapes occasionally move, like a hand or a shoulder, and you glance off to the back, and Fjord, you follow Caduceus' eyes and glance over as you see another figure just looking at the edge of the mist and then steps backward and vanishes again.

TRAVIS: How far are we from the water's edge?

MATT: At this point, you're about 50, 60 feet.

LAURA: We're not in the mist yet.

MATT: Well, the mist surrounds all of you.

LAURA: Oh fuck, I thought we were like outside of it.

TALIESIN: There is...

TRAVIS: Anybody feel like this mist is unnatural?

TALIESIN: I would think this mist is part of the problem, yes. Or perhaps the lake is part of the problem.

TRAVIS: Do we need to get across this lake?

TALIESIN: Do we have to get across this lake?

MATT: You can attempt to go across it or go around it.

TALIESIN: I was hoping we were going to go around it.

SAM: Our destination is on the other side?

MATT: On the other side of this lake.

TALIESIN: Can never be easy, can it?

SAM: Like a submarine?

TRAVIS: No, we could go in the lake and through.

MARISHA: How far across is the lake?

MATT: From one side to the other, I'd say--

SAM: We could ride on you.

TRAVIS: We can breathe underwater.

TALIESIN: I'm not opposed.

MATT: -- it's about--

TRAVIS: You want to?

TALIESIN: I think I do.

MATT: --about a half mile.

MARISHA: Half a mile?

TRAVIS: Half a mile across the lake?

MATT: Half a mile across the lake to about a mile, somewhere in the neighborhood.

TRAVIS: I will cast Underwater Breathing on the entire group.

SAM: I've got an issue with this, guys. I still have an issue with this.

TALIESIN: It's okay, we can just knock you out, it'll be all right.

SAM: What do you mean knock me out?

LAURA: We're not going to knock you out, Nott. We're not going to do that.

MARISHA: It's going to be like bath water. It'll be like a day at the spa.

SAM: I'll just walk on the water.

TALIESIN: My parents always said it's just best to sleep through these things.

LAURA: What if the whole lake is filled with dead people?

TALIESIN: We'll find out.

TRAVIS: Then we'll come back out.

LAURA: What if they grab us and we can't get out?

TALIESIN: Then you'll cast Turn Undead, it'll be okay.

LAURA: Oh, that's right, I can do that.

TALIESIN: Yeah, we're going to be okay.

LIAM: Also, sometimes you can find water out in the wild that boils the flesh off of the bone.

SAM: Are you serious right now?

TRAVIS: Stop reading so many books, shit. Let's go.

LIAM: So don't jump in.

TALIESIN: We'll dip a toe in.

TRAVIS: I'll walk in. I'll walk in the water.

LAURA: Just put your finger in, Fjord!

TALIESIN: Let's just do it.

MATT: You walk in, your foot hits the edge, and slips. It is an icy, frozen surface.

TRAVIS: Cool, glad I cast Underwater Breathing.

MARISHA: (laughing)

LAURA: Maybe we could cut a hole in the ice.

SAM: It's solid? Excellent.

TRAVIS: Might as well try it. I'll summon the falchion and just go shink and see if it even goes through or not.

MATT: Okay, go ahead and make a strength check for me.

TALIESIN: I am keeping my eyes bloody peeled.

TRAVIS: You said a strength check.

MATT: Well, it is your weapon, so I'd say you can use your charisma bonus in place of a strength check for this one.

TRAVIS: Oh, bless you, sir.

MARISHA: Charm that ice. Ooh.

TRAVIS: Eight.

MATT: Eight.

MARISHA: Shit.

MATT: It sinks about two inches into it and then wedges itself there. You look cool putting it in. (grunting)

TALIESIN: I cast Sacred Flame.

MATT: You have to kind of-- (squeaking)

LAURA: Do you want me to help?

TALIESIN: I cast Sacred Flame on the point he hit, just to try and melt it a bit.

LAURA: I'm going to try to shove the falchion down further and see if I can get through the ice.

MATT: Okay, so as you're about to wedge it out and lift, Jester reaches over and puts her hands over yours, and roll a strength check.

LAURA: Oh, ballsy balls balls.

TALIESIN: (groaning)

LAURA: Six.

MATT: Six.

LAURA: This falchion is not very--

MATT: You both just wiggle it back and forth a bit before eventually having to pull it free.

LIAM: Caleb sighs and then just points six feet away and starts doing concentrated Fire Bolts into one spot.

MATT: Right, and you're doing Sacred Flame as well, which is more of a radiant burst. The flames that burn there tend to be more of a life-force affecting element. Yours does warm it a bit, but the fierceness of the arcane Fire Bolt continuously-- you're watching shards of ice go (small explosions) with each impact, and begin to melt away a bit, until-- it takes you about, I'd say two minutes or so to finally break through the ice to get to the water beneath it.

TALIESIN: Do we want light underwater?

LIAM: Everyone has a specialty.

TRAVIS: I would think so.

MATT: The ice itself's only about maybe an inch and a half thick. It's not super, super thick.

MARISHA: Are we going to freeze to death down there?

SAM: Yes. Of course we are. Super cold.

LIAM: I think most of us, maybe not you, maybe.

TALIESIN: I'm going to touch the water, how's it feel?

MATT: Very cold.

LIAM: Terrible.

MATT: Very cold.

TALIESIN: How far away are we from the point at which the lava hits the water?

MATT: It's the opposite side of this lake, because that's where the different vents are leaking. So about a half a mile to a mile.

TALIESIN: We could also always just-- hmm.

LAURA: What's all the dead people mist doing?

MATT: As you glance around, you look over your shoulder, and right there next to your face, you see the gaunt skeletal visage of the eyeless woman, her stringy hair, like very Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

TRAVIS: Nope.

LAURA: Oh god!

MATT: Looking over your shoulder and then looks back into your face, and then vanishes in the mist.

TALIESIN: Can we not right now?

TRAVIS: They're not fucking with us, though.

MARISHA: Maybe they're just curious ghosts.

TRAVIS: Could be just--

TALIESIN: I'm talking to the ghosts.

MATT: What'd you say?

TALIESIN: Can we not right now?

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Just hoping. You have goggles, can you see underwater if we put your head under and hold you?

SAM: Yeah, why don't we put Beau's head under freezing water for a while?

TRAVIS: It was my idea, I can do it, I'll go.

TALIESIN: Don't-- yeah, just take a look, don't stay down there.

TRAVIS: I'll put my hands on the ice and stick my head under and see what I can see with my darkvision.

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Okay.

SAM: Give him some light, Caleb.

LIAM: I could do that, couldn't I?

TALIESIN: I'll stick my-- I can-- oh yeah, go ahead.

TRAVIS: 17.

MATT: 17, okay. You poke your head down. It is murky water, and a lot of the light that would come in, while there is a storm above, is being refracted by the thick ice, so visibility is not great.

LIAM: While he's down there, globules into the water around his head.

MATT: Okay. As they do, it lights up. You can see the muck that makes up the base of this lake. The dirt and bits of sand and sediment that turns into the thick, rotting vegetative material that has just settled to the bottom of the water. About 30, 40 or so feet out, you can see some rocks and you can see a little bit of vegetation that lives beneath, but nothing beyond that catches your attention.

TRAVIS: Okay, and pop my head back up. Visibility's not terrible. It's not polluted, I didn't see any creatures swimming around, just seems to be a fresh water-- could I tell if it was fresh water?

MATT: It is fresh water.

TRAVIS: Seems like a fresh water lake.

LAURA: What is it, Caduceus?

TALIESIN: I was just thinking that in theory the kiln is in that mountain, which is in turn a crematory, which in turn means that the cremated remains of hundreds people might be rolling into this lake.

LAURA: Oh, hence all the ghosts?

TALIESIN: Maybe.

MARISHA: I tighten my scarf around my face.

TALIESIN: That also means that maybe inside the lake might be worse.

TRAVIS: Sure. I mean, they haven't messed with us yet.

TALIESIN: They haven't.

SAM: We could just go.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Let's just walk carefully with our eyes--

SAM: Around the lake?

TALIESIN: Around. Around or across?

TRAVIS: I think straight through. I mean, I think around it's still there, the mist's still there, right?

MATT: The mist permeates the entirety of this basin and the base of this valley.

TALIESIN: Normally I would say that we were less likely to get attacked from below if we don't walk across the lake, except the trouble with undead is that sometimes below is where they come from.

TRAVIS: Sure, let's go around.

TALIESIN: I guess we'll go around.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: Let's keep our eyes peeled.

MATT: So you're walking around the outskirts of the lake.

TALIESIN: I think around.

SAM: Would it add much to the time?

MATT: It will. I'd say at a careful pace, that's another hour or so.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: That's not so bad.

SAM: Are we in danger of not making it by nightfall or something?

LIAM: You said a couple of hours when we arrive--

MATT: You have a few more hours before you lose daylight. The storm is coming and it's getting darker and it's getting colder. At this point too, since you put your head in the water, the water that's on your face, and the elements of your hair are starting to frost and freeze, and your head is already starting to get chillier than it was before.

TRAVIS: Out of the water's probably better.

LAURA: Oh, Beau, take the rod and put it on Fjord's head.

TRAVIS: No no, it's just a rod, it's fine. (exhaling)

(laughing)

LAURA: Is that better?

TRAVIS: That's nice, yeah.

LIAM: That's a look.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Eyes are peeled this whole walk.

MATT: Fair enough. Same marching order as previously?

SAM: Sure.

LAURA: Sure.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: I'm keeping an eye out for that chick that was at my shoulder.

MATT: All right. You guys continue going to the right or the left, or what would be the eastern or western sides of this lake?

TRAVIS: Left.

MATT: Left, all right, so. Curving around, as you move away, watching behind, you can see that area where the ice has been broken and melted a bit, you can see the mist seems to swirl over it, and as it does, you can see hands reaching down towards it, and the ice (creaking) forms back over the area where you had removed it. As it does, you can see a face look up and then disappear into the mist. You turn around to look ahead of you, and you see, about 30 or 40 feet ahead of you, another figure just keeping at pace, but drifting backwards. This one appears male, eyes missing, wispy hair slightly drifting and floating in the space, and it just glances in your direction for a moment before it turns around and then-- (whooshes) dissipates into the mist as well.

LIAM: Are we walking through snow?

MATT: There is snow on the banks of this lake, yeah.

LIAM: Is it like, six inches, an inch, a foot?

MATT: For right now, it's maybe two inches, and it's a little slushy at the edge of the lake right here. More and more is coming down, and you gather probably by the time you make the other side of the lake, you'll probably have--

TRAVIS: I don't want to point out the obvious, but you saw it cover up the hole, right? Like, why would it care if there was a hole if--

TALIESIN: It's probably for the best that we didn't go in.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Or maybe--

SAM: Maybe it's just cold weather.

LAURA: Should we just like, talk to the ghosts and let them know that, you know--

SAM: That we're okay?

LAURA: We're nice.

LIAM: It's curious, but that's probably not the first place we should look.

TRAVIS: Right. Well Jester, you're very affable, why don't you give 'em a whirl?

LAURA: Oh-- hey ghosts.

SAM: (laughing)

LAURA: Don't know how long you've been here, but you know, it's pretty remote, so if you want to hear about stuff going on in the world, we can let you know. Because there's lots of stuff going on, in the Empire and in Xhorhas, and--

TALIESIN: Resistance, wisdom.

MATT: Okay. As you're having this conversation, are you guys walking along the edge of the water, or along the bank, where the snow is?

LIAM: On ice or on land?

MATT: On ice or on land.

MARISHA and LAURA: On land.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: (thudding)

MATT: Yeah. (laughs) As you're walking through, looking around, you can see the mists and occasionally shapes shift through, you're not sure if it's just the wind as it gusts, and you clutch yourself and your hair blows past your face, and you glance around and can see things moving around the periphery. Keeping a distance at times, some closer than others. You glance past the ice and you think you can see a handful of faces from underneath looking up. You blink and they're gone.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: That was a bad idea on my part.

LAURA: Maybe, like, the ones above the ice are good and the ones below the ice try to suck you in or something, and they were trying to keep the bad ones from coming back out.

SAM: Maybe they're all bad.

TALIESIN: Maybe they're just trapped here. I don't know, they haven't done anything to us yet.

TRAVIS: Just looking for company.

LAURA: I'm going to pull out Tusk Love and just start reading it to them.

MATT: Just loudly?

(laughter)

SAM: Porn will keep us safe.

TALIESIN: So true.

MATT: Okay. Carrying on, for the next 20, 30 minutes or so, as Jester loudly reads outward into the open cold air of the valley at the base of Kravaraad.

LAURA: Kravaraad needs a little steaminess to heat it up.

MATT: You do watch as more figures begin to appear at the peripheral. There's that same woman who is almost to the front, and you see three other figures. Then there are six, and there are 12, and they're all just drifting in a semi-circle behind you, following.

TALIESIN: Do I recognize this?

SAM: They love the book!

MARISHA: They love the porn!

LAURA: I think they do!

SAM: It's a page-turner!

MARISHA: You're drawing an audience.

LIAM: Pied Piper of Smut.

TALIESIN: I'm going to stop walking forward for a second and turn around.

MATT: Okay. As everyone keeps walking, they keep pace with everybody and begin to approach you.

TALIESIN: Dust?

MATT: No recognition.

TALIESIN: Clay.

MATT: No recognition. The woman--

TALIESIN: Do you need help?

MATT: Passes through you, you feel a freezing cold icicle flash through your body. For one instant, your breath (exhales) is drawn from your lungs, and then the need for warmth becomes very, very apparent.

TALIESIN: I don't feel so good.

LAURA: Oh, oh.

MATT: Caduceus is behind all you guys.

TALIESIN: Well, I didn't-- I mean-- I just went to the back of the line.

TRAVIS: Take this rod. It's actually really nice.

TALIESIN: Thank you. Is the rod helping?

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Okay, heat will-- okay. They're not happy.

LAURA: Maybe I should not read this book anymore.

TALIESIN: No, it seems-- I don't know.

TRAVIS: Distractions are good. Let's keep going, keep reading.

LAURA: Yeah, you want me to keep going.

TALIESIN: Just for fun, one more Detect Undead, just to see if there's anything beyond what we can see.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Read the part where he plunged inside of her again.

TRAVIS: Okay.

TALIESIN: Whoa.

SAM: That was a good part.

LAURA: (laughing)

MATT: You tune out the sequence that Jester is loudly professing amongst the audience.

LIAM: Areolas.

MATT: As you close your eyes, you sense dozens and dozens of entities around all of you.

TALIESIN: Are they concentrated anywhere? Or is it more towards the back, towards where--

MATT: More towards the back, they're trailing.

TALIESIN: They're following.

MATT: They're following.

MARISHA: Maybe it has something to do with you.

TALIESIN: Maybe.

SAM: Are they just following him?

MARISHA: Yeah, are they just following Caduceus?

MATT: They're following the group.

MARISHA: But Caduceus is with the group.

MATT: Right, they're following the group.

LIAM: Jester, do you want to pause your reading for a minute or two and see if that has any difference?

SAM: Sure, just finish this one sentence though.

LAURA: And-- it was real deep.

(laughter)

MATT: We didn't say it was a good book.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Yet we keep reading it.

SAM: That's just quality writing.

TRAVIS: "And it was real deep."

MATT: Fanfiction.net, number three best story in 2004.

TRAVIS: That's where you got it?

LAURA: I was looking at my spells, it's just that, okay.

MATT: Reskinned Gargoyles fanfiction.

(laughter)

MATT: So. You finish the phrase and pause for a moment, and continue to walk in silence for another few minutes. As you do, you watch the spectral figures begin to pull back into the mist and disappear.

LAURA: Oh, they did just want to hear about it.

LIAM: Maybe they just missed sounds of the living.

SAM: They stopped following us when she stopped reading?

MATT: A number of them are still there, but the numbers have dwindled. Where once there was maybe--

SAM: Oh, they really like the book.

MATT: -- a couple dozen figures in the mist that were drifting behind you, now there's about eight.

SAM: Maybe you should start again.

TRAVIS: Maybe they're looking for someone-- maybe they're looking for someone to come for them.

LIAM: Maybe they're just not used to the living being around.

TALIESIN: People would have to come here at least, I don't know.

TRAVIS: Crematory, you said.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LIAM: Shall we push on?

SAM: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Do you continue reading, or do you remain stopped?

LAURA: What do you want me to do, guys?

SAM: I mean, the ghosts did seem a little horny, so maybe--

TALIESIN: I'd say, all things considered, I'd rather have happy ghosts than unhappy ghosts, and they seemed to-- perhaps not loudly, but continue for the-- I've been finding it oddly comforting.

TRAVIS: Maybe just pause it for now and not broadcast our location as we're walking.

LIAM: Did they seem neutral or positive? Neutral, yeah?

SAM: Did they look horny?

MATT: They seemed naturally ghastly. Expressions unchanged, slack jawed, eyeless sunken sockets. You haven't gotten very close, but from like the 30-foot distance that you have a view of most of these entities, they just drift--

LAURA: Yes, but what about their crotchal regions, were there tents?

MATT: Roll a perception check.

LIAM: Poor man, trying to build atmosphere.

LAURA: I rolled pretty good. 11.

MATT: 11?

(laughter)

SAM: They have no genitals.

MATT: Unfortunately, their spectral forms do lack definitive genitals, but your imagination helps you imagine that sure, maybe half of them are pitching a tent.

SAM: Wow!

LIAM: Ghost dick.

MATT: That's the sequel, actually, to Tusk Love.

TALIESIN: I got a good look-- oh, goddamn it. I love this so much.

MATT: Caduceus, what were you doing?

TALIESIN: I said I got a good look at one, none of them have eyes?

MATT: None of them have eyes.

TALIESIN: Do the faces in the lake have eyes?

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: It's just no eyes.

MATT: The more time you spend with them, you can see some appear to be humanoid, many elven, some dwarven, some orcish. It's a spread of various backgrounds and lineages.

TALIESIN: I'm going to say let's continue to show them whatever respect we can. This is a little-- I refuse to believe that this is here to harm us.

SAM: By respect, do you mean reading smut or not?

TALIESIN: I think reading smut.

SAM: Okay.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: Let's keep going.

LAURA: I'll read it quieter.

SAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Skip to the good parts, I think.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: Oh, that's not a good part.

LAURA: Oh, but it's okay.

TALIESIN: That's very graphic.

SAM: It's building tension.

TRAVIS: Let's keep going.

LAURA: Okay. As he ripped open her bodice--

(laughter)

TALIESIN: It's like five gold--

MATT: The storm begins to build. The snow and sleet begins to pelt you in painful ways, when you're not guarding your face from the somewhat diagonal impact. You find yourself coming around the other side, and get a decent look now of maybe 100 or so feet away, of where the most-- where the closest element of trickling lava vent is entering the icy lake itself. You can see the steam column, just a perpetual-- just white-ish steam that mingles with the nearby mist and then carries upward, and the pillar seems to merge with the clouds as the wind blows it in the direction of the strong winds.

TALIESIN: How's the warmth of the water here?

MATT: It is still frozen around you.

TALIESIN: Oh, we haven't gotten close to it.

MATT: You haven't gotten that close yet. The mist around you directly, the spirits are still following. As you're reading, the numbers begin to swell once more, to about 30 or so entities keeping on the outskirts of your travel group. Eventually, you come to the point where you can see the ice is melting and thinning, and you can see actual water, liquid water, is visible. Also, the temperature is rising towards the base of where this portion of the mountain is. You can see there are chunks of snow that do manage to find their way along the mountain, but a large portion of it doesn't seem to allow it to stay very long. As you approach where the lava is, you can see the spectral figures begin to peel off, until eventually they all stop and begin to fall further into the distance.

TALIESIN: I'm going to turn around one more time to the edge of where they were and just give a moment, just kneel in recognition.

MATT: One by one, they all vanish entirely into the mist. That single female figure that you first encountered, the last one standing before-- disappearing.

MARISHA: She stayed for the whole reading.

TRAVIS: (sighs)

MARISHA: Biggest fan.

SAM: Yep.

TALIESIN: She might've written it.

LAURA: (gasps)

TALIESIN: I don't remember, who's the author?

LAURA: Matilda Merceria.

TALIESIN: Oh, that's right.

LIAM: Who doesn't like a book club?

LAURA: Maybe we should just come back here once a week and read to them.

SAM: Is there a cave that we're looking at, or is it just mountain?

TRAVIS: Lava flow right now.

TALIESIN: There'll be a cave. If I recall.

MATT: Well, from what you recall, it's probably a cave.

LIAM: Now do we climb?

SAM: Like, is there a mouth of the cave that we can walk into, or no?

MATT: Make a perception check.

SAM: 10.

MATT: 10. From what you can see now at the base of this large, black, rising mountain-- The smell, by the way, is a mixture of various sulfurous gases with the clean-chilled air of the storm mingling, so in waves it gets stronger and lessens. Sometimes it stings your eyes a bit as the smoke and the steam gets blown in your direction. From where you stand, it's just mountain. You don't see any caverns or openings or pockets. To continue, you have to choose which side of the mountain to go around. You can go around the left side, keeping the left theme, or the right side, but to travel the right side, you would have to find some way to circumvent the 10-foot wide little river of lava.

TRAVIS: Usually, historically good for us.

LIAM: By the way, I've been to Yellowstone. Sulfurous means it smells like farts here.

TALIESIN: It does.

MATT: Yeah. Rotorua, New Zealand, I still have clothes that smell like it.

LIAM: It's amazing, it's really bad.

TALIESIN: Dust was told to walk the mountains till they found a cave with an onyx pool of magma.

MARISHA: Oh, magma is like a thing we're looking for?

TRAVIS: An onyx pool of magma.

TALIESIN: Onyx pool, a cave, with an onyx pool of magma within. At least, that's the story.

SAM: Left or right?

TRAVIS: Well, it could be up.

TALIESIN: Up?

SAM: Yeah.

LIAM: On this side or that is the question.

MARISHA: Let's avoid crossing the lava until we have to.

TALIESIN: Let's follow it up.

SAM: Sure, we'll stick left and go up.

TALIESIN: Stay warm.

TRAVIS: There can't be lava flowing underwater, I'm just saying. Okay, let's go.

MATT: So just going up?

LIAM: Yeah, how precarious is it?

MATT: It's not super precarious, yet. You're towards the base, and so the angle is not extremely steep at the moment.

TRAVIS: More of that porous rock-like soil.

MATT: Yeah, and the good news is, because of that, also, at least this close to where the flow is, it's a good enough grip, so there aren't any slick areas. You're used to the ice and the snow you've been traversing at this point. This side of the mountain was a little easier to keep your boots on. Trekking up the side, hiking up the edge, the light is just beginning to dwindle.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: You're probably about 40 minutes or so out before dusk finds you.

LAURA: We don't want to be climbing when it gets dark.

TALIESIN: Well, we can start at least looking for a place to set up camp. We have the dome on the side.

SAM: Sure.

TALIESIN: If we have to.

MARISHA: It's going to suck.

TALIESIN: If we have to.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Can we see where the magma is, where the burst is? Like where the vein is?

MATT: It's about, I'd say, 400 or so feet up from where you are.

TALIESIN: Are we above the treeline already, or no? Oh, there's no treeline.

MATT: There's no treeline here.

TALIESIN: There's no shadows being cast by rocks that might be concealing a cave or anything.

MATT: Make a perception check.

LAURA: Or any kind of like, looks like a flat area.

SAM: A mesa?

TALIESIN: 22.

MATT: 22. Looking up this side and above you right now, there are a few shadowed crevasses, but nothing that seems cave-like, from your current visual perspective.

TALIESIN: What would I do if I were, (gasps). Do we have a bird right now?

TRAVIS: A what?

SAM: A bird.

TALIESIN: No. Tricky.

LIAM: Always a cat.

TALIESIN: Currently a cat.

SAM: Jester, can't you turn into a bird?

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: I'll feel a little more worried about you heading off on your own up into a storm as a living--

SAM: She could take someone else.

LAURA: That way I can kill both of us.

SAM: I could ride on your back.

LIAM: We could go together.

MARISHA: How far away is the storm?

MATT: It's probably going to coincide with dusk, if not a little bit afterward. Like the heavy elements of it, it is getting heavier, the storm is here, but it's not reaching a severe intensity yet.

MARISHA: Are there signs of lightning and thunder in the distance? Or is it more of a snow winter storm situation?

MATT: At the moment it looks more like a snowy flurry.

TALIESIN: Camping closer to the magma will mean that we'll stay warmer and that the snow will probably melt before it hits us. It also means that the magma might divert, and then that could get tricky.

LAURA: That won't happen, probably.

LIAM: Well, it's tricky, but if we can find a flat point on the hillside, I am able to regulate the temperature inside the hut here. But we have to find that.

TALIESIN: Let's keep an eye peeled for--

LAURA: Sounds like a job for an eagle.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm going to keep eyes.

LAURA: I'm going to Polymorph.

MATT: Go for it. Okay.

SAM: Got you a list somewhere in here. Just got to find it.

LAURA: I want a smart thing, a big eagle.

LIAM: Giant eagle.

LAURA: Yeah. What we were before.

SAM: Okay.

TRAVIS: Giant hawk.

SAM: Oh, here it is. These are all the flying things.

LAURA: Yeah, but it doesn't understand--

LIAM: Giant eagle isn't, they're very intelligent.

LAURA: Isn't or is?

LIAM: Is.

LAURA: Okay, a giant eagle.

MATT: All right.

LIAM: Same, I don't want you to go alone.

LAURA: Thanks, Caleb.

MATT: You now have two giant eagles with massive, I'd say 20-plus foot wingspan, tip to tip.

LIAM: Mine is albino.

SAM: Tip to tip.

MATT: An albino one, to even be more hidden amongst the--

LAURA: Mine's blue.

MATT: -- the dark mountain. All righty. White and blue, perfect.

LIAM: Just need a red one.

(laughter)

SAM: I'll jump on Jester and I'll use my glamored armor to change my armor to red.

MATT: There you go. Perfect.

LIAM: So go over to D&D Beyond.

TRAVIS: ♪ Team America, fuck yeah ♪

MATT: They got a week left, they got to try every edge they can get. All right, you both take up. The winds are strong, but so are the eagles. You're riding the eagle, all right. On the back of Jester's eagle form. Which direction are you guys taking?

LAURA: Up.

LIAM: Straight up and peer down, yeah?

MATT: All right, so both of you guys are going straight up and peering down.

LAURA: Yeah, we just want to like look for a flat surface so there's something to camp on close by. Or a cave opening or anything.

SAM: On the way to the up.

LIAM: Options for a 10-foot radius feasible--

LAURA: Camping ground.

MATT: Okay. The wind gets stronger the higher up you go.

LAURA: So not up too high.

MATT: All right. Okay.

LAURA: We're going to keep closer to the mountain to keep the winds.

MATT: Okay. Perception check from all three of you.

SAM: 14.

LAURA: As eagles?

MATT: Now, you both have advantage--

LIAM: Natural 20.

MATT: -- as eagles.

SAM: In the meantime, why don't you start looking at the--

LAURA: I don't know how to do that. What's the add? Well, he got 20, it doesn't matter.

SAM: Yeah, it's fine.

LAURA: I got seven plus whatever it is.

SAM: Oh, 14.

MATT: 14? What's the total, Caleb?

LIAM: Oh, 20 plus, well, I didn't have giant eagle open, I stopped--

MATT: Plus four to its perception.

LIAM: You're so good.

MATT: So 24. All right. As you guys peer up, you look, there are a couple of shelves that could work for an evening's rest point, but they're a little bit of a hike away, and a little steeper up the side. You, from that perspective point, see across the lava flow and down on the southern side, there is a plume of smoke that is rising up from a little bit of an outcropping, but there's no lava vent or flow emerging from it.

LIAM: Okay, so cross the lava, how far up the mountain did you say?

MATT: It's maybe about 200 feet up, comparison to where you guys currently are, on more of the southern, southeastern side.

LIAM: So we'd have to get over or go all the way around.

MATT: Correct. You have to climb up and around the lava.

LAURA: Or we could carry people.

LIAM: Carry people, yeah, of course.

SAM: You said there's smoke rising from it, but that it's not from lava.

MATT: There is no vent. Well, you don't know where.

LIAM: I's not spilling out is what you said. It's just a smoke stack or something like that.

LIAM and LAURA: (bird cawing)

LIAM: We understand each other.

LAURA: Totally.

SAM: What are you guys saying? What are you guys talking about?

TALIESIN: Bird seed, bird stuff.

SAM: What do you think we should do?

LAURA: (squawking)

TRAVIS: Oh, goddamn it.

MATT: This is the next two hours of the campaign, guys. Buckle up.

TRAVIS: Crows and ravens in campaign one.

LIAM: I say in eagle to Jester to say: Fly Nott down so she can see what we see.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: She can do the talking.

LIAM and LAURA: (squawking)

LAURA: So fucking stupid.

MATT: To illustrate, because the eagles technically can't speak, they can understand Common and Auran.

LIAM: No, can't we speak to each other in, oh. But we have the intelligence of the animal, we don't understand our own language?

MATT: It's not an eagle language, it's Auran, which is a language of, you know, aarakocra and other flying entities.

LIAM: My wisdom changes, but I don't-- ugh.

MATT: I know, I know.

LIAM: So many variations. You, motherfucker, you could turn into anything and understand everything, goddamn druid.

MATT: Druids are cool.

TALIESIN: You understand like eagle mating rituals and things like that? Could that become innate?

TRAVIS: Come on, come on.

TALIESIN: I'm sorry.

LIAM: No, but it can be learned.

SAM: Oh my god, you guys, you guys, there's smoke coming from that outcropping.

ALL: Hey!

(laughter)

MATT: All right, so, as the eagles return to convey this information to you guys, what would you like to do?

SAM: Everybody, it's crazy, we should go up to that and at least inspect it. I would say that on foot, it would take us about how long to get there?

MATT: On foot, from where you are currently, about--

TRAVIS: 200 feet up and over.

MATT: Well, up and over and then the opposite like far southern side of this mountain, It'd be about another hour and a half.

SAM: We could get there just after dark.

LAURA: We could pick people up and carry them.

SAM: Oh, we could ferry back and forth.

LAURA: How fast would it be if we ferry--

MATT: You guys are pretty fast, because you're not bound by the dangerous terrain in the mountains--

LAURA: Go one back at a time.

LIAM: Don't you mean: (bird squawk)?

LAURA: Yeah!

TALIESIN: -- keeps heading up that 200 feet, and then the two eagles keep grabbing people, taking them to the--

LAURA: I don't say anything, I just go and pick up Fjord and Beau.

MARISHA: Wait, what if it's a trap!

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Too late.

MATT: (whooshing), picking them up into the air, you watch Jester just take off in her bright blue eagle form.

LAURA: I'm like kind of a grayish blue. I blend in with the sky a bit.

MATT: Sky blue eagle form, clutching Beau and Fjord.

MARISHA: Wait, are you clutching both of us? So Fjord and I are just like: It's cold!

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MARISHA: Real cold!

MATT: By the way, you're going to pretty fast against the storm, so it's like (impacting). You're just being pelted with sleet.

TRAVIS: Not the way I thought this was going to go.

MARISHA: We're going to die.

MATT: Your faces are immediately numb. There's frost forming up on your eyebrows and the front of your hair.

LIAM: Caleb nudges his head underneath Nott's legs, scoops her up, and then both claws grasp Caduceus by the shoulders.

TALIESIN: I pull down the hood.

MATT: Okay, you prepare yourself.

LIAM: Struggling though, he's heavy. (whooshing)

MATT: All right, so, carrying around that, to make the pace, fairly decent use of time. You manage to get there-- I'd say it'd takes about 20 or so minutes of strong, continuous flight to get there. The wind does pose a bit of a problem as the storm comes in. I would like each of you, please, to make a strength check using the eagles' strengths.

LIAM: Eagle stats, plus three.

LAURA: What are the--?

SAM: You've got them in front of you.

LAURA: Oh, (laughs). Thanks, Sam.

MATT: (laughs)

LIAM: 20 total.

TALIESIN: Ah!

LAURA: Everything's awful!

LIAM: What'd you get?

LAURA: Six total.

MATT: Six, okay. And you got?

LIAM: 20 total.

MATT: 20, yeah. Caduceus, you are carried without an issue towards the perch. Jester, you're having a hard time as the wind batters you once, twice, and then a third time you spiral, corkscrew for a moment, and return.

SAM: Uh-oh.

MATT: Your left claw a little bit lighter.

SAM: Oh no.

MATT: As Beauregard suddenly is released from your grasp. You're like, (shouting).

MARISHA: (shouts)

LAURA: Can I fly after her and try to grab her up?

MATT: You can certainly try. Now Beauregard is (whooshing). You can barely see anything at this point now, outside from the snow that's piercing by, the clouds of smoke that's coming up, and you're just spinning end over end, plummeting through the middle of this snowstorm in the sky, free falling, as you turn around to try and dive, clutching Fjord, you get some Gs as you're whipped around and then being dragged at full eagle speed towards Beauregard down below.

SAM: Four G negative dive.

MATT: You've got one shot before impact here because you were only about 150 above the ground.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay.

MATT: So--

LAURA: Oh god.

MATT: I will say... knocked around at plummeting speed, yeah, just go ahead and roll a d20 for me.

MARISHA: Am I totally like--

MATT: Unless you got something you want to try and do. (gasps)

LAURA: 18.

MATT: 18.

SAM: Plus--

LAURA: Plus whatever.

MATT: No, I was just going to roll-- I was using death save rules, like 10 or higher, you manage to succeed.

LAURA: God.

MATT: You can't see much, and you're trying to right yourself, and using your monk training, you put your arms and legs out, almost like how a cat falls to catch itself--

TALIESIN: Flying squirrel.

MATT: To stop yourself from plummeting immediately, but as you do, you're like okay, now I can focus, that's the ground coming very rapidly at you! All of a sudden you feel claws grab you around your waist, whoosh, and you're lifted up at a very steep arc, as Jester manages to snatch you from the possible jaws of doom.

MARISHA: I barf a little on the upswing.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Where the fuck did you go?

MARISHA: Where the fuck were you?!

(shouting) (laughter)

LAURA: I like to imagine there's also a little Sprinkle weasel crawling around in the feathers like (shouts).

(laughter)

LAURA: The whole time.

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Just traumatized a weasel.

MATT: Oh yeah, that is--

TRAVIS: That's going on a t-shirt.

TALIESIN: That weasel's going to write a book after therapy.

MATT: That poor weasel.

LIAM: Get to the ground and Fjord's got a strange diagonal speckled stripe on his face.

(laughter and groaning)

MATT: Frozen to it.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Oh!

LIAM: How's that for Armor of Agathys?

(laughter)

MARISHA: That weasel asked for none of this.

LIAM: Armor of shit 'n' piss.

MATT: All right. As the first batch settles down, you turn around to see, a moment later, the blue eagle come to land with two very haggard looking companions held from beneath as you guys are both gently set down on top of this dark stone platform.

SAM: We're right there on the platform where the smoke was coming from?

MATT: Smoke's billowing out from the far side of it.

LAURA: Has it been about an hour, or has it been less than that?

MATT: A little less. It was 20 minutes of travel, with looking-- it's been about 30 minutes or so. You still have 30 minutes of Polymorph.

SAM: Just before dark. I'll go run over and look at the smoke plume.

MATT: All right, so you glance over the edge, and it's billowing up from the position, so you'd probably want to go around to see where the entranceway-- otherwise you're putting your head into the smoke.

SAM: You're right, yes. We'll go around and look.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Sensible.

MATT: You glance down and look inside, and what you see here is about a 20-foot-wide half circle opening in the center. Not natural. This has been hewn. It has a very deliberate arch to it from side to side. The smoke that comes out of it seems to just be riding along the top of what is a cavern that pours deeper into the mountainside. (croaks)

TALIESIN: Is this the-- have they just hewn the stone? They haven't brought stone from anywhere. There's no crystals embedded in the wall or anything yet?

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: Just a cavern opening.

SAM: Mr. Clay, this is a vent, right? For the kiln. They must have hewn some vents for their smoke to escape.

TALIESIN: Could be.

SAM: We could get into it from here.

TALIESIN: Could, although if you have it hewn for smoke, I imagine that leads probably directly to the fire.

SAM: It could, it could, but if we have some way of protecting us from that, maybe you or another magic user could somehow protect us.

TALIESIN: I got nothing.

SAM: Well, maybe one of the eagles could. But they're busy playing Hotel California.

TALIESIN: Thank you. I was hoping for that.

(laughter)

SAM: We're not going to do this tonight, or are we?

TALIESIN: Well.

SAM: We can go down and investigate tonight.

TALIESIN: It looks dangerous in there, doesn't it?

MATT: It's hard to tell. I mean, it's--

TALIESIN: How much heat's coming out of this?

MATT: Judging just at this point, it's not a vast amount of heat. It's warm, and definitely it's comforting based on the chilled atmosphere that is currently growing increasingly less and less serviceable for life as the storm begins to increase in intensity.

SAM: This hole reminds me of something that Jester was reading earlier. I think the quote was, "and it was really deep."

LAURA: (caws)

TALIESIN: I don't get the--

SAM: Yeah, it was just for something that she read earlier.

TALIESIN: I heard it, but this is-- I mean, this is just a hole in the ground--

TRAVIS: Let's check out the--

TALIESIN: Is that a metaphor connected to it? What is the metaphor I'm missing?

LAURA: (caws)

MATT: Are you stepping in, Fjord?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I walk in.

LAURA: Can I, in eagle form, go--

SAM: We're going in?

MATT: Fjord just starts walking in.

SAM: Fjord, we going in?

TRAVIS: There's time to talk smut later. I'm going in.

SAM: I'm coming with.

LAURA: Can we fit as eagles, or do we need to--

MATT: The eagles, you can fit.

LAURA: Our awkward bird walks?

MATT: But yeah, I mean-- thankfully, it's a wide arch and the cavern itself, it resembles that same half-circle archway, so it's wide, but it's not high enough to the point where you can fly, so it's like, you have about a five-foot head span before--

TRAVIS: Two things, is it perfectly circular, or is it flat?

MATT: It's a flat floor, and it is a domed half-circle interior.

TRAVIS: On the inside, is it slick with moisture or dry?

MATT: Dry.

MARISHA: Is the whole thing pouring smoke from the top?

MATT: There looks to be smoke that has gathered along the top of it, so as you step in, you stay a little low, because the smoke does-- the fume can fill the head space, at your perfect standing height, for most of you, you especially. You have to get a little low to get under the layer of heavy fume to prevent you from coughing.

LAURA: So as birds, it's just like up in our faces.

MATT: It's a little rough for you guys. You can keep your heads low, thankfully--

LAURA: I'm just going to drop.

MATT: Okay, so Jester drops the eagle form.

LAURA: I don't want the smoke in my hair feathers.

TRAVIS: Now we got Hedwig over here.

SAM: Caleb, are you going to come back to us?

(croaking)

TALIESIN: Light up and--

LIAM: Bird peck-peck-pecks the top of Nott's head. And (whooshes), and Caleb just gives a little innocent kiss to the top of her head.

LAURA: Aww.

SAM: All right, let's go.

MATT: Okay. Continuing in, the dark interior of this cavern begins to give way to a dull orange glow. Maybe 50 or 60 feet in, it begins to curve to the right as the light gets brighter, and brighter. Eventually, you can see movement, like a flicker, like a fire light source from the inside. The hallway opens up into a central chamber.

SAM: Ooh.

MATT: Within here, you can see a spacious, open room, itself domed on top, and you can see the channel where the smoke is being funneled towards based on the way it's carved on the inside. There is, in the center, in the heart of this interior grotto, a circular, two-to-three-foot-high metallic wall, like a pool that is a container, which in the center of it sits boiling, heated molten rock.

TRAVIS: Oh fuck.

MATT: You can see black iron supports that help maintain the structure of this interior chamber. Almost like a gradual ribcage that continues around the inside of it, to keep its structure sound. The air in here is really warm. Not uncomfortably hot, but you can feel a sweat starting to draw itself to your skin's surface. The pool of lava that burns in the center there is beneath a raised platform that sits about two feet above it and is attached to the opposite side of this chamber, on its northern end, and atop this extending, long platform, you can see a great black anvil that is affixed to the edge right above the pool's surface, and around it, dozens of chains dangle from the ceiling, and at the end of these chains at different heights are various tools and implements.

LIAM: Is the surface of this magma relatively still or is it like (quick bubbling).

MATT: It's relatively still, but occasionally you get like a (slow bubble popping).

LIAM: Oh, okay.

MATT: It's not roiling, you know, heavily. There are other tunnels that peer off from the central area, and you can see, sitting off to the side of the pool, currently in the process of whittling a piece of wood, a figure that's sitting. Looks up in your direction, confused. You see a dwarven female, older in her years, white hair and olive skin, a body that is very muscular, whether it be through genetic lineage or a lifetime of hard work. Very intimidating grandmother of a dwarf. Glances over in your direction, wearing these gray robe, apron-type accoutrement, bracers on, and sitting there with a whittling knife and a pile of wood, and sets it to the side and goes, "Can I help you?"

TALIESIN: Possibly.

MATT: "Well, come here, come here. (groans)" You see she stands up from the chair like this, long, aching stand. "(groans) Oh, it's been a while. Who are you?"

TALIESIN: My name is Caduceus Clay. Would you be the keeper of this place?

MATT: "Aye, one of many. Now when you say Clay, are you one of the Clay lot?"

TALIESIN: If you're of the Dust.

MATT: "Aye, I see this is a family meeting." She comes over towards you.

TALIESIN: Going in for it.

MATT: Gives you this big angry dwarven hug from underneath, which you loom over--

TALIESIN: I am kneeling for this. I am kneeling for this.

MATT: As you're patting, she's like, "Ah, care, careful with the back."

TALIESIN: Oh, very carefully, yeah.

MATT: "(laughs) Well, we don't get visitors too much these days. This is very nice. Jeramess, Jeramess Dust."

TALIESIN: Jeramess. Jeramess, pleasure.

MATT: "I'm the keeper of the sanctum. I'm the grand matron of the Dust family. I've certainly seen a few Clays wander through here in recent years. I didn't know there was more coming."

TALIESIN: You did? You have?

MATT: "Aye."

TALIESIN: There have been more Clays wandering through?

MATT: "There have been. Was it Constance and Corrin, I believe."

TALIESIN: (laughs)

LAURA: Are those your siblings?

TALIESIN: They're family, yeah.

MATT: "Came here seeking communion or something. Left lacking materials, it seems. Rather vague and frustrated, they were. That was a few years ago."

TALIESIN: Did they come together, or were they separate?

MATT: "Well, they were separate."

TALIESIN: Okay.

MATT: "There was--"

TALIESIN: Mom and my aunt.

MATT: "Younger Colton also came through. Seemed as confused as they did, and as you do, runs in the family."

TALIESIN: Well, we get that.

MATT: "Has been a few years since I've seen one of your kind. How are things down south?"

TALIESIN: Not improved, I suppose would be the--

MATT: "Same, then."

TALIESIN: How are things here? I assume they told you why they came, and that the--

MATT: "Aye, that's right, yeah. The problem with the Savalirwood and your oh, strange. Strange indeed."

TALIESIN: Nothing like that here, then.

MATT: "No, no."

LAURA: Do you always have the, you know, ghosts and stuff outside?

MATT: "Ah, yeah. You see, there's been a lot of individuals that have been interred here over the years, and some have a place to pass on, some don't and get taken by the planes below, and some just linger, so, don't worry about them, if you don't pay them any mind, they won't do any mind to you."

SAM: So this kiln is for burning bodies?

MATT: "It's for many things, but that's one."

LIAM: We are The Mighty Nein, by the way. We are Caduceus'--

MATT: "You're not all Clays?"

LIAM: No, we're his traveling companions.

MATT: "Good, was a bit confused."

MARISHA: Family friends.

MATT: "Right, right, okay, family friends, that's good, that's good."

SAM: Do people bring you bodies, or do you just--

MATT: "Aye."

SAM: Like all the time? Because it seems like it's remote up here.

MATT: "Lesser and lesser as time goes on. You know, we get some folks from Uthodurn who have, you know, want to be left with the pride of the Allfather or the Wildmother, and they bring their fallen or their dead to be brought to dust, and then left to find their destiny in the afterlife."

LIAM: Ertherder is what she said?

MATT: Uthodurn.

SAM: That's the elven-dwarven place.

LIAM: It was in the brogue.

TALIESIN: You haven't seen a Stone wander through here in recent years, have you?

MATT: "Oh, no, no Stones, they keep themselves way south."

TALIESIN: I've never had one, in my memory, anyway, where we come from, or at least if they did, they didn't make themselves known to me.

MATT: "Well, to be honest, we haven't really had any Clays come by in a long time, or at all, (laughter) until recently."

TALIESIN: How much news of the outside world do you get up here?

MATT: "Not too much, beyond what the dreams from Melora come to us, and what the folks from Uthodurn come forward and you know, share with us when they bring their family, or they're just looking to learn and craft," and she makes a motion up toward the forge.

TALIESIN: Beautiful.

MARISHA: Do you cremate bodies in the same lava pools that you forge weapons, or do you like keep it separate for sanitation reasons?

MATT: "Sanitation? It's fucking fire."

TRAVIS: Yeah. This is liquid steel.

MATT: "Yeah, it's all the same."

MARISHA: But I mean, it's--

LIAM: That's as clean as it gets.

MARISHA: It's just heeby-jeeby.

TALIESIN: What would you hope for?

MARISHA: I was just curious if there was like a system.

TRAVIS: You think they're putting people in the weapons?

LAURA: That's really cool!

MARISHA: Kind of.

MATT: "I mean, depending where you place your interests, maybe, but keep in mind, when the soul's gone, a body's really just meat."

LAURA: Do you eat people?

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: "No."

LAURA: Okay. He drinks them.

TALIESIN: Well, they're tea.

LIAM: This is escalating quickly.

TALIESIN: It's, we'll get into it later. Are you alone up here?

MATT: "No, no, no, got some family, yeah." (clapping) And claps loudly. "Come on, we've got company again!"

TALIESIN: (sighs)

MATT: A little bit of time passes, and you see a younger female dwarf emerge from one of the tunnels off to the side. You can see blonde, tangled hair over her olive skin, emerges and goes, "What's that? Oh, oh, we've got a few, don't we? Okay. I'm Tyla, Tyla Dust."

TALIESIN: Tyla.

MATT: "I'm the lorekeeper of the kiln and the Cinderrest Sanctum. Burning Lodge. Welcome."

TALIESIN: Caduceus Clay, pleasure to meet you.

MATT: "Oh, that is, from the Clays again, we have another."

TALIESIN: Been hearing that.

MATT: "Interesting."

LAURA: Do the Stones ever come?

MATT: "No Stones in my time, sorry."

TALIESIN: How were the Clays coming through, Constance and Corrin especially, did they--

MATT: "I talked with them a bit more than Mum did."

TALIESIN: They all right?

MATT: "They seemed fine, a bit perturbed, and you know, looking for answers, and they were looking for some kind of glass stuff."

TALIESIN: Glass stuff.

MATT: "They said they had visions of some materials."

TALIESIN: You're lore keeper?

MATT: "I am."

TALIESIN: That means that whatever you talked about with them probably got written down?

MATT: "Aye, aye."

TALIESIN: I don't mean to presume anything, but if it would be possible to get some specifics of what my mother and my aunt and siblings may have talked about. It's been many years since I've seen them. They've not returned, and any clues to their whereabouts or their leads on saving our home temple would be priceless. I'd be happy, of course, nothing for nothing, but anything that you need, or any service that I could provide, as our families are so inevitably linked, I would be happy to share with you. We do come on business as well, there are things that I was hoping to discuss, but this is--

MATT: "Of course, any questions you've got, please ask, I mean, we're happy to have company."

TRAVIS: You said the Stones stay further south?

MATT: "I think so."

TRAVIS: Do you know how much further south? We've come from there.

MATT: "Don't really know, went our own ways back in the day, and haven't really visited them, haven't visited us, we've all had our own things to do. No offense, you're not really looking forward to going to the Savalirwood, so we just kept to our own."

TALIESIN: That's fair, again, it took us an awful long time to come here, too.

MATT: "Yeah, but you did eventually, it was nice."

TALIESIN: It had to happen.

SAM: What's in the Savalirwood? Is that where we found you, right? We came from there, and then we went away, and then we went back.

TRAVIS: Well, that's where he's from.

SAM: Yeah, I know, but how far is the Savalirwood from where we are right now? No, I know, but like, in--

TRAVIS: Oh, in real distance?

SAM: In real distance.

MATT: It's about 200 miles.

SAM: Wow, so we've been close to this before.

MATT: You were on the cusp of this region, yeah.

TALIESIN: It's a rough travel.

SAM: Why would they come to you looking for glass?

MATT: "I don't know, they said they had some sort of visions from the Wildmother, trying to guide them."

SAM: Do you make glass here?

MATT: "No."

SAM: Have you? Because you could, you know, you have the heat.

MATT: "Right, but, it's not the kind that they were looking for, at least."

MARISHA: Dungeon Master.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

MARISHA: Can you remind us what the blade of the Star Razor was made out of?

SAM: Metal, or?

MATT: It's made out of metal.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: It's not glass.

MARISHA: Not glass.

TALIESIN: We do have a piece that may need reforging, and I would be curious to see your process here, I don't suppose that you have anyone that you're expecting to feed to the fire anytime soon, but I would love to learn as much as I can while I'm here, about what you do.

MATT: "All right. I mean, well, welcome to the Underforge as well." And Tyla points over to it. You can see on the base of it, the metal and stone wall that contains the magma, there is a plaque that reads, "Dust you shall take, and what remains of this forgotten hero and walk the mountains until a cave of onyx wall and liquid stone is found. There you shall burn what remains and the ashes shall be mixed into brick and ink and steel so that what is made shall hold my mark. Upon this site you shall build a kiln whose creation shall be my gift to the Allhammer to remind him that nature is material. Decree of the Wildmother."

TALIESIN: Amazing, just amazing.

MATT: "Khemdal's around her somewhere."

TALIESIN: Kendall?

MATT: "My brother."

TALIESIN: Excellent, I would love to meet all of them. We've traveled quite a bit, I'm sure we're a little tired, if it would be possible to stay the night, at the very least.

MATT: "Oh, certainly."

LAURA: What kind of quarters do you guys have here?

MATT: "We don't really have much in the way of guest quarters, but Ichabod is still out with our sons, Brum, Brumhelm, and they're off to Uthodurn."

TRAVIS: Oh.

MATT: "Doing a little supply run."

TALIESIN: How is Uthodurn? We haven't--

MATT: "It's a lot of people. Not my kind, I like the quiet. But, you know, it's close by, comparatively, it's got things that we obviously don't have access to here, and so we do often, you know, there's some folks come to us to trade and sell, or we go over there and do the same, and when things run low, we have to make a journey ourselves, that kind of deal."

TRAVIS: How far is that journey?

MATT: "It's maybe a day and a half travel, not too far."

TALIESIN: That might be on the way out.

LAURA: Hmm. I was really hoping that Traveler Con would have like, a hotel nearby or something, but this is a little more difficult.

SAM: Is this where Traveler Con's happening?

TALIESIN: I thought that was a different volcano.

LAURA: Well, I thought about this volcano.

MATT: The vision that you were given from the Wildmother, the one that began to give you flashes of this, elements of it keep sparking in your memory.

TALIESIN: Oh.

MATT: There was one that involved taking these shards of green glass-like material and placing them within the fire, and they would be transformed.

TALIESIN: We do not have green glass, if I recall.

LAURA: Wait, what about that bag that you took?

SAM: What bag?

LAURA: Don't you have a bag of green stone?

SAM: I have a bag of green dust, yes.

LAURA: Does it look like it could have been crushed glassy sort of stuff?

SAM: I don't know, does it?

LAURA: That bag of green dust that she took?

MATT: Oh, which bag?

SAM: My bag of residuum.

MATT: Residuum, okay. You take it out and glance at it. Do you show it to Clay?

SAM: Sure, Clay? Jester thinks that this green powder is green glass.

MATT: It does have a very, very similar color.

TALIESIN: How angry would you be if I tried?

SAM: To snort it?

TALIESIN: (laughs) That looks painful, no. No, to--

SAM: To do an alchemical work on it? Of course, I would be happy to assist.

TALIESIN: What is alchemical?

LIAM: Well, it's taking natural things, but doing a lot more measuring and tinkering, with things that don't mix in nature normally.

TALIESIN: I think maybe we need to feed that to the fire. I think maybe it might even have something, I pull out the broken sword, show them what I have.

MATT: "I'm going to need Khemdal for this, I'm just a lorekeeper here, this is more, Khemdal!" Eventually you see coming through.

LAURA: I thought it was Kendall.

MATT: Khemdal. Grabbing his head, you can see the dwarf brother to Tyla come through. Short blond hair, mutton chops curled into a finely groomed mustache.

LAURA: Sweet.

MATT: Comes-- "(groans) Right, I heard you calling. What's the-- oh, who are these people?"

SAM: Clay and friends.

MATT: "Hi, Khemdal Dust. What, um-- what you need?"

TALIESIN: We have a lot. I know that my family was here talking about glass, and it occurs to us that this maybe could be what they were talking about, and we have a broken sword. Where do I even begin? Things are complicated out in the south. The world is-- The world is being unkind to the natural world right now.

LAURA: And this big ugly guy named the Laughing Hand, he got loose, and Clay thinks that maybe, that the sword that we can reforge will help defeat him, because he's really hard to beat.

MATT: Khemdal takes the sword and goes like, "Ah. I mean, this is very fine Uthodurnian craft, at least it was added to it. You can see the base very plainly is not Uthodurnian, but it has been further refined by that matter, but the old blade is snapped in the center. And I keep the forge, you know, but I'm not a master craftsman. This is, oh, this looks like-- this looks like Dulgrim make."

SAM: A what?

TRAVIS: Dulgrim?

MATT: "Dulgrim?"

TALIESIN: Is that on the map?

SAM: That's the sword maker?

MATT: "Could be. He's come back here many times making--"

SAM: Dulgrim?

MATT: "Dulgrim."

LAURA: Does he live in Uthodurn?

MATT: No, you guys recall, Dulgrim Smeltborne was the name that came up.

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Now he goes, "I haven't seen him for some time, but he's from Uthodurn."

TALIESIN: Good to know. Good reason to go.

TRAVIS: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: So this isn't something that can be fixed here, then.

MATT: "It's not my specialty. Probably have to talk to him."

TALIESIN: What about this? And I'm going to show the residuum, the bag of residuum.

MATT: "Tyla. You take a look at this?" She looks over and puts her hands through it. "This is residuum, but I mean, it's in its fine form. What are you looking for?"

SAM: He said he saw visions of glass.

TALIESIN: Could this be the glass that my family talked about?

MATT: "Hold on a second," and she goes through and leaves for a moment and then comes back with a book and starts thumbing through.

TALIESIN: They've got books.

MATT: "Right, so residuum, right, right. Powerful, very very basic arcane material. Harnesses-- can be utilized to replace and act as other expensive-type materials and components for spells and uses. Very good to know, very important. From what I can tell here-- (sighs) Interesting, all right, so the glass that you're asking for is refined residuum. It's a rare material this side of Exandria, unfortunately. The primary source is a place called Whitestone in Tal'Dorei, but they export in small batches. (sighs)"

SAM: Can you make it?

MATT: "Not much I know about that, unfortunately."

LAURA: We probably need to go to Whitestone to get it, then?

SAM: Well, no--

TRAVIS: Couldn't you melt it down--

SAM: Yeah, I'm familiar with--

MATT: "You can certainly try."

SAM: The basics of making glass.

MATT: "By all means."

SAM: We could try.

TALIESIN: Do I recall, is this the kiln I saw in the vision? Like, this is--

SAM: No, different one.

MATT: You remember this pool.

TALIESIN: There could be multiples in the building, you don't know.

TRAVIS: What could it hurt, come on.

TALIESIN: I'm nothing if not a believer in a leap of faith.

LAURA: Yeah. Try to make glass out of it.

TALIESIN: I'm going to act out what I saw in my dream.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Do you need help?

TALIESIN: As best I can.

SAM: Act out? What did you see in your dream?

MARISHA: Do an interpretive dance first.

TALIESIN: It was dropping the glass into the pool.

MATT: Correct.

LAURA: Should Nott try to turn it into glass?

TALIESIN: Can you turn it into glass?

SAM: I can try.

TALIESIN: I don't think it will.

MATT: Okay. What would you like to try?

SAM: I would like to think back on anything that I might have seen or know about glass making or melting or pouring into form.

MATT: Heat the crucible, sand granules being brought to a certain point where they melt together.

LAURA: Oh, jeez.

TALIESIN: I mean, honestly, throwing this into the pit may do it.

SAM: Yeah, well we need something to put it in, right? Do they have some forms?

MATT: At this point, Khemdal goes like, "I got something here that could help you." Reaches up to one of the chains and pulls off a long hand-held crucible that's a thick steel bowl at the end of it.

LIAM: Well, the question, though, so your vision you had is to put glass into the magma here.

TALIESIN: Sure.

LIAM: So the same thing, it would be dispersed, it would be destroyed, the same thing will happen to the dust, so I'm not sure we need to make it.

LAURA: Yeah, but the dust is not refined. What he's looking for is refined.

TALIESIN: Still, it's worth looking at it, and these visions are not always necessarily--

TRAVIS: We'll see some impurities come to the surface.

TALIESIN: Are not always necessarily literal. Sometimes it's just about feeling like you're doing the right thing.

LAURA: Oh, so it's about faith.

TALIESIN: It's about faith.

SAM: You want refined glass, is that right? All right.

TALIESIN: Don't know. This may work, this may not.

MARISHA: Beyond faith, though, does it hurt to take the extra steps?

TRAVIS: Yeah, that one.

MARISHA: Just to do it? Because faith is great and all, but also, you know, taking a few extra steps, just for precaution.

LIAM: And if you have the time.

MARISHA: We have time.

TALIESIN: What do you propose other than just using the crucible there?

MARISHA: Well, no, I'm saying do that as opposed to throwing the dust in the magma.

SAM: I don't remember-- I got a bag of this stuff, I don't know how much that is. I would want to try with maybe like a third or a quarter of it.

TRAVIS: Come on.

TALIESIN: No, whole thing.

SAM: You want to do the whole thing?

MATT: The whole bag that you have is about that big.

TALIESIN: Oh, well let's just try how much will fit in the crucible for now.

MATT: It accounts to-- if you want to mark this down, if you're taking a look at it-- you're not-- make an intelligence check, actually.

LAURA: Oh.

SAM: Natural 20.

MATT: Great. (laughter) Great.

TALIESIN: Just nonchalant.

MATT: You have 950 gold worth of residuum.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: Which means 950 gold worth of material components from spells can be replaced with this residuum.

SAM: Okay.

LAURA: Oh, cool.

LIAM: Any components for any spell?

MATT: For any spell.

TALIESIN: Universal donor.

MATT: Essentially, yeah. That's why residuum is a useful material.

TALIESIN: That's why Whitestone got money.

MATT: Well, Whitestone's refined stuff actually itself can enhance and quicken the enchanting process, which is why it's so sought after, and it's a definitive secret of Whitestone.

LAURA: We need to go to Whitestone. That stuff's magical.

TRAVIS: On the broken blade of the Star Razor, the runes that are in the blade, are they engraved in like a relief, or are they etched in? Like is there a space where something could fill that rune, or is it more like a fine inlay?

MATT: From what you can-- it appears-- both, actually. There are runes across the blade that are dwarven in design. Those appear to have been placed post-original development. The rest of it is an elvish based script, there's more of a scrolling and a light etching.

TRAVIS: Got it.

TALIESIN: We need-- we need advantages if we're going to do this fight. If we go back in where we are now, the best thing that any of us can do is get better right now.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

SAM: So, just to clarify. We can try to make this glass, but what will it get us? What's the end? You're going to throw it in a pool?

TALIESIN: I'm going to throw it in a pool.

SAM: Okay, so you want to use all of it or just some of it?

TRAVIS: A third is a healthy amount.

SAM: Okay.

LIAM: Why don't we look at it as an experiment?

SAM: Yeah, that's fine with me.

MATT: Take about 300 or so?

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: All right, about 300 gold worth, which is a nice apple-sized amount of this residuum.

TALIESIN: A handful.

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: Then using my alchemist's tools--

MARISHA: Residuum fight.

(laughter)

SAM: Can I try to ascertain if it's mostly pure, if it's corrupted with any other stuff? He said we need it refined, so I'm just going to see if I can, I don't know, sort it, sift it?

MATT: Just make an intelligence check.

LIAM: (as Nott) It's a cup of angel dust.

SAM: This intelligence check is--

TALIESIN: Brought to you by the letter--

SAM: Is 14.

MATT: 14. Looking through the samples of dust you have, it all seems pretty uniform, you don't see it mingled with any other outside materials. It's pure.

SAM: Okay. All right, let's just put it in the crucible.

MATT: All right, you place it in the crucible, and with a little bit of guidance from Khemdal, you lower it close, right near the surface, where you can see the metal beginning to heat brighter and brighter till it's a dull orange, to a brighter orange, to a slightly yellow tint to it. You're having to like-- the layered, leather wrapping of it, you can smell a little bit of the burn from where the metal's starting to cause the handle to slightly singe. You've been holding it there for now six minutes, seven minutes--

LAURA: How soon should you take it out?

SAM: I don't know. Do I know?

MATT: Nobody knows.

LAURA: Would Nott know, though? Have you made glass before?

MATT: You've never worked with residuum. Glass can happen pretty quickly, especially at this temperature, so.

SAM: Okay, I don't think it can hurt to just keep cooking it.

LAURA: Can't you burn it off?

TRAVIS: Can you see the inside?

SAM: Yeah, I'll cool it off and see if there's any change.

MATT: Okay, you pull it up and look. It is as granular as it was when you placed it in there.

SAM: Whoa.

MATT: It is unaffected by the heat.

TALIESIN: How hot is it, though?

MATT: The temperature of the residuum?

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

MATT: You go ahead and place your fingers onto the residuum dust?

TALIESIN: No, I'm--

SAM: Over it.

MATT: Over it? I mean, the metal is emanating a lot of heat.

LAURA: Ooh, don't burn yourself there.

MATT: Super hot.

SAM: Do I recall any sort of chemicals that would help a process of this, of making glass?

MATT: There are many different chemicals you could try, if you want to make an intelligence check plus your alchemy proficiency bonus.

SAM: Alchemy proficiency. What's that mean?

MATT: Just adding a benefit for your experience--

SAM: No, but I mean, where--

MATT: You just add your proficiency bonus.

SAM: Okay, cool. Proficiency, we're at six now, right?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

SAM: So four?

TALIESIN: Four.

SAM: Oh, 15 then.

MATT: 15. I mean, there's different chemicals that can have--

SAM: Like a catalyst, some sort of catalyst?

MATT: Yeah, catalysts for different reactions. There are, you know, sulfurs or--

TRAVIS: Maybe things we have vials of.

TALIESIN: I'm going to walk over to the bag.

SAM: Uh-huh.

TALIESIN: I'm going to put my hand in it, if that's all right.

SAM: Sure.

TALIESIN: Just take a scoop of it out.

SAM: Are you going to snort it?

TALIESIN: No. I'm going to walk over to the fire.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: I'm going to hold my hand--

SAM: Oh god.

TALIESIN: Close as it can get to over the fire before it singes.

MATT: It's very hot. Your hairs on your arm begin to curl back.

TALIESIN: I'll loose a bit. And I'm going to scatter it in.

MATT: Okay. It all drifts, and you can see the dark spots where now it's-- with that handful, it's about 150 of that residuum that is taken off.

SAM: Sure.

MATT: You watch it know hit it and just rest there before eventually it just vanishes into the molten rock.

TALIESIN: All right. Now we know.

SAM: Now we know.

TALIESIN: That's the trick with faith.

MARISHA: Is that it's always an experiment?

TALIESIN: Is that if you're not willing to move forward in it until you know, then you don't need it, do you? If you know--

TRAVIS and TALIESIN: -- it's not faith.

SAM: In my memory, I thought of no particular catalyst that might make this lower melting points of different sort of--

MATT: There are many catalysts here. For the sake of me not going here and spewing a bunch of incorrect chemical information for all of our chemists who are watching the show who would just destroy me on Twitter, there are a handful that you think of.

SAM: Might I have anything in my possession that I could try?

MATT: Sure, I'll say go ahead and make another alchemist proficiency, if you want to try and pull out and refine some of this.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: It takes a little bit for it to cool off. This stone, the residuum dust, is super hot in the crucible. So it's conducting the heat, it's just not changing.

SAM: I've rolled a 14.

MATT: A 14? You pull through, and you pull out some acids, you pull out some thicker tar-based materials, you think of some viscous oils that might have some sort of a transitive property to it. Nothing seems to be adjusting its format.

TALIESIN: I'm going to start casting Commune as I sit by the kiln.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: I knew I shouldn't have left Yeza. We need him now, here. Quick, teleport me back to Nicodranas.

TRAVIS: Oh god, no, Nott, no, don't overreact. Don't overreact.

SAM: You could send a message to him.

MARISHA: We could phone a friend.

LAURA: What should I say to Yeza? Like, okay, what--

SAM: Refining glass. What catalyst should use? Maybe you can say "should we use."

TRAVIS: Or maybe mention residuum.

MARISHA: It's not glass.

LAURA: It's green glass.

TRAVIS: It's green residuum.

LAURA: Residuum, how do we turn residuum into glass?

SAM: He might not know what residuum is.

LAURA: Everybody knows what residuum is. Especially alchemists.

LIAM: Is that true?

MATT: To your knowledge, no. It's actually pretty narrow knowledge, largely in arcane fields, and magic practitioners that know of it, and even then, it's a pretty rare material.

SAM: You can try.

LIAM: But Yeza might.

TALIESIN: I have just taken some incense and just scattered it in front of it, right at the base of the kiln so that I can breathe it in from the kiln as I sit and wait for the trance to hit.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: It fuses with your sinuses.

MATT: As the smoke from the various bits of incense burn up and fill the space with a heavy lavender smell that mingles with the rest of the smoky interior, and sweat-like scent that fills the air. You watch the smoke swirl around Caduceus in an unnatural way before dissipating. In a weird way, a bit of a warmth hits your clavicle and chest momentarily, Fjord, as you watch Caduceus's eyes close. The heat rolls away, and much like the early morning light of a dawning sun, you feel the warmth surround you, and the wrapping and safe presence of the mother that's guided you.

TALIESIN: I'm supposed to be searching for the refined residuum for this kiln.

MATT: That's your first question?

TALIESIN: Yeah. Yes or no.

MATT: You sense that the visions that were once given to you come back clearer a second time, and you see these larger shards of condensed, jagged but still smooth and polished in places, residuum glass. You gather the answer is clarifying it to be a definitive yes.

TALIESIN: Is Whitestone the most accessible-- is that the closest place to find such material?

MATT: You see visions of alabaster mountains surrounding a valley filled with a dark forest. You see elements of green glass being gathered into crates. You see them being placed onto the back of carts and onto ships, sailing off across the sea. And you get the sense the answer is no.

TALIESIN: Will I find the man who can reforge this sword in the city that he is from? Ulda-- I can't pronounce it, because--

LAURA: Uthodurn.

TALIESIN: Uthodurn, thank you.

SAM: Laura Dern.

MATT: The man who can reforge this sword in the city where he's from.

TALIESIN: Can I find him in that city? Uthodurn.

MATT: You sense the warm breath of the mother across your back as the arms encircle you and embrace, a comfortable mother holding a child from behind. You feel the nod of her cheek against yours, affirming your question as a yes. As her grip pulls away from you, the love that's encircled you doesn't entirely leave, but withdraws, and once more the scent of smoke and soot fills your senses, and your eyes open, slightly watering, sitting amongst the Underforge, your friends staring at you.

TALIESIN: We need to find the refined residuum.

LAURA: Well, what if we can make it here?

TALIESIN: We can't make it here. I don't think it can be made, I think it can only be found.

SAM: Do you think we could go to Laura Dern and find it?

TALIESIN: Maybe. I don't know. I think that that's going to be part of what we do next, but I do know that if you're willing tomorrow, we can go get your sword reforged.

LIAM: Is that all you need to do here before we leave?

TALIESIN: I need to talk, and I would appreciate spending the night, but I get the distinct impression that I'm going to be back very quickly.

LAURA: Wait, I have a question, though.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: Dulgrim, the guy that forged the sword, right? Khemdal? You said that Dulgrim comes here to work sometimes?

SAM: But hasn't in a while.

MATT: "Dulgrim has occasionally come through. When I was very young."

LAURA: Is this anvil like, stronger or better than something that he would have at Uthodurn?

MATT: "Probably. This is a place where many great crafts have been made," and you watch as Tyla turns and points towards the walls, and you see those metal bars and braces that curl up along the walls. At a glance you can see, there's a bunch of script scrolled across them. Dwarvish runes. "These all tell tales of all the fine crafts that have been made here."

MARISHA: Oh.

LAURA: Wow.

MARISHA: They keep a ledger.

LAURA: Do we see anything about the sword?

MARISHA: Yeah, anyone, who reads--? (gasps) I read Dwarvish!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: You do. Hey! You do!

MARISHA: Ah! Languages are a big part of the Cobalt Soul, and I picked none that were useful thus far, sorry.

MATT: Well, there you go.

TRAVIS: Those are some pretty good selections, though.

TALIESIN: You're that kid who took Latin.

MARISHA: I thought Deep Speech was going to be relevant--

LAURA: Can you find it, can you find the sword?

MARISHA: I look for the Star Razor.

TALIESIN: Heck, read 'em all.

TRAVIS: Just read the whole fucking thing.

MARISHA: I read them all!

MATT: I mean, you go through and scan through them, and it's talking about many weapons that have been made for ceremonial reasons for different families, from all across Exandria that have made pilgrimages here to have things made by their finest craftsmen and smithies. Some of them speak of, you know, things that were recovered from the Calamity and before that have been fixed and repaired. Elements of ceremonial armor and religious icons that have been-- then, after being crafted in the name and spirit of the various deities that are held here, which are adjacent between Melora and the Allhammer together, Moradin, you know, Raven Queen, talk of Erathis and other entities that are adjacent to those figures as well, having various artifacts made, repaired, or initially constructed here. The Underforge is also spoken of as a lesser sister creation of another object referred to as the Core Anvil that was lost deep beneath the Ozmit Sea long ago.

SAM: That sounds very familiar.

TALIESIN: No, it doesn't, never heard of it before.

TRAVIS: Almost like a dream from another time.

TALIESIN: Previously.

MARISHA: The Core Anvil?

MATT: Core Anvil.

MARISHA: Oh jeez, more shit?

TRAVIS: (whispering) It's where we made the shards for killing Vecna.

SAM: Oh yes, that's right.

MARISHA: Oh!

TRAVIS: That dream from another time.

MARISHA: So much throwback today.

TALIESIN: This is some intense throwback.

TRAVIS: This is really good stuff.

TALIESIN: I'm having a very hard time separating my desires from my character's right now, which is very-- just a lot of candy on the table.

MARISHA: Wait, is that it, nothing of the Star Razor or Dwueth'var?

MATT: If you want to spend a while tonight, it's a lot of reading to do, but you do eventually come onto the Star Razor.

MARISHA: Yes.

MATT: It speaks of-- and you see the name Dulgrim Smeltborne come up a number of times, over the period of a number of centuries, as essentially the Hattori Hanzo of this realm. A fabled weapon smith, who had been called to create implements of war by the elves of Molaesmyr. If you want to roll a history check.

MARISHA: I do want to roll a history check.

LIAM: Cocked.

TALIESIN: Cocked.

MATT: How is that cocked?

LIAM: It's cocked.

MATT: That's impressive. Roll again.

LIAM: Leaning on a d4.

MATT: No, I mean like, it is cocked, but it-- oh, it's leaning, that's why.

TALIESIN: That one's really pretty, too.

MARISHA: It's close to the same thing. What'd you say, history?

MATT: It was strange to see it cocked in that way.

MARISHA: 20 total.

MATT: 20 total, okay. Molaesmyr you do recall as one of the previous powerful elven nations. At one point early in this age, the prominent elven society here on Wildemount. However, through some strange, not entirely understood cataclysm, the city fell and the surrounding forest was corrupted, which is now known as the Savalirwood.

TRAVIS: Hmm.

LAURA: Oh. The elves scattered in two directions. Some of them fled westward and then became the elves that eventually were taken into the Empire in Bysaes Tyl, and throughout the rest of western Wynandir and Wildemount. The others went northward and founded Uthodurn. Or didn't found Uthodurn, sorry. Joined Uthodurn, which had previously been founded by the dwarves.

MARISHA: Half went to Uthodurn, half went to the Savalirwood.

MATT: Correct.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Or fled there and went to the Empire.

TRAVIS: The Savalirwood is where it was.

MARISHA: Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha, gotcha.

TRAVIS: Molaesmyr.

MATT: Looking here, you can see in the center of the Savalirwood map you have, the ruins of Molaesmyr are marked there as well.

TRAVIS: Yep.

LAURA: Should I send a message to Dulgrim and see if he's around?

SAM: How can you do that? Do you need to know what he looks like?

LAURA: Oh, do I?

SAM: I don't know, do you?

LAURA: I think if I just know his name, could be wrong.

SAM: Sending.

LIAM: What is there's two?

LAURA: I'm going to look!

TALIESIN: Or we can just have a good old-fashioned quest.

LAURA: A creature with which you are familiar. Am I familiar with him, I know his name?

MATT: You know the name, that is a level of familiarity, you can certainly try.

LAURA: I could ask the Dusts what he looks like, what his personality's like.

MATT: Yeah, you can go ahead and ask Jeramess, who's the oldest, the one who seems to interacted with him most. "Right, right, yeah, he's a squat lad, broad shoulders, got black hair, thinning in the front but strong and heavy, thick mat in the back, bulbous nose, looks like it's taken a few hits in his youth, piercing bright light blue eyes, almost like a gray-white in color."

LAURA: Wow.

SAM: Dwarf, elf?

MATT: "Dwarf, dwarf." Goes into this full description of the different stages in which they had met in the times that he had visited to do the forging here.

LAURA: How old would must he be now?

MATT: "Last time we saw him he was very old, very old. I think nearing fourth century, if not partially--"

LAURA: How old do dwarves usually--

MATT: That's like super old for a dwarf.

LAURA: It's going to be hard for him to get here, then.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

SAM: It's a day and a half journey.

LIAM: Well, may I ask, is it possible that you have a teleportation circle here on the premises?

MATT: They all look at each other. "No."

LIAM: No, well, that's that.

SAM: But you can still send him a message.

LAURA: I'll still send a message.

SAM: Maybe you can tell by his voice when he picks up how feeble he is, you know?

TALIESIN: I mean, we're going to head to the city anyway.

LAURA: I was going to say, if he's able, then he could just come here, but you know, if he's like--

TRAVIS: Plus a heads up is good, it'll save us some time.

TALIESIN: I think showing proper respect, though, I think just going to the place and showing our sincerity and our sincere desire to have this done. We're not just trying to speed things along.

SAM: -- we're on our way.

LIAM: I actually agree with Caduceus, I don't think you want to pop into a stranger's head and say "Hey, here we are, here we come."

TALIESIN: Thank you.

LAURA: Oh, is it rude or something?

TRAVIS: Might be a bit, yeah.

LIAM: A little bit, yeah.

LAURA: Really?

TALIESIN: He could be eating dinner.

LIAM: I think so.

LAURA: Do you think that people don't like it when I send them messages?

TALIESIN: I think people like it when they can already picture your beautiful face.

LIAM: Yeah, when they know you, of course, it's a different thing. But a stranger popping into your consciousness is--

TALIESIN: Jarring.

LIAM: Strange.

LAURA: A bit invasive?

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay.

TALIESIN: Would it be all right if we stayed the night?

MATT: "Oh yeah, of course, of course. You can have my other son's room for the night. It's probably not the best, but it'll work. At the very least, we'll get you some blankets, and-- though you may not need them, it's not very cold in here."

TALIESIN: I'd love to see as much of this place as possible, and to take a look at anything that might've been written down about my family.

MATT: "Tyla'll show you around, no worries."

TRAVIS: You don't have like an armory or weapons or--

LIAM: Or library?

MATT: She looks at Tyla, Tyla goes, "No, no library."

MARISHA: I think she is the library.

LIAM: One of them had a book a second ago.

MATT: She still has the book and she tucks it into her robes a bit.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Is she deceiving us? Is there a library?

MATT: No, not like there's no book, trying to hide it, but just like instinctually pulling it in a defensive, protective manner.

MARISHA: But is there a library?

MATT: "There's no library." You asking-- make an insight check.

SAM: Library heist.

LIAM: Don't lie to us, we know there's a library.

MARISHA: Ooh, fucking library.

TALIESIN: Show me your goddamn library!

SAM: Hold her out the window.

LIAM: The library's in the chair, isn't it?

MARISHA: 13.

MATT: 13?

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Kind of hard to tell. You're not sure if she's telling the truth or not, but she seems definitely protective of the book that she's holding.

LIAM: What is that book that you're reading, is it good?

MATT: "I didn't read it, I wrote in notes and parts of it. This was the one that--"

LIAM: Oh, a journal.

MATT: "Yeah, it's more of a chronicle, I guess you'd say. Various things we hear from the outside, and when folks come and bring us books and historical elements, you know, we don't get to go a lot of places, so it's good for me to read them, and I learn to know about it and to keep track of it."

LAURA: Do you want me to write down some stuff that you could learn?

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

TALIESIN: Oh no, going to trade books.

MATT: That doesn't count, you got to roll it--

LAURA: That was a really good roll.

SAM: Better than that.

LAURA: Oh, that's good. Where's-- thank you. Couldn't find persuasion. Where's persuasion? Oh, 14.

MATT: Goes, "I mean, you seem nice enough. Sure."

LAURA: I sit down cross-legged on the floor and--

TALIESIN: They can be a lot, but I definitely vouch for them.

MATT: She definitely stands over you.

LAURA: Yes, I'm writing very interesting things about the world.

TRAVIS: Oh, that's nice, Caduceus is vouching for you, Jester.

LAURA: Yes, it really is.

TALIESIN: Oh no.

LIAM: I am an avid reader. And I don't want to force the issue, I don't want to be presumptuous, but I would love to read your writing. I don't know if you would consider loaning a book. It has been a while.

MATT: "Loaning not so much, but if you're curious and you want to read some specific tidbits, maybe I can, you know, make them available."

LIAM: Is it all your writing or it's multiple--

MATT: "Oh no, it's generations and generations, I'm just the current Loremaster."

LIAM: Oh. Maybe the oldest, could I read the earlier parts?

MATT: "S-sure. All right."

TRAVIS: Don't you have some books you could trade?

TALIESIN: Have you read everything, or a lot of what's here?

MATT: "I have, I've a lot of time here."

TALIESIN: Have you read anything about the Crawling King?

MATT: "You know, all the tales of the Calamity and certain elements of his doings. Torog, that's the name of him, big nasty fella, worm under the planet."

TALIESIN: He's a problem again at the moment, so.

MATT: "That's not good."

TALIESIN: No.

MARISHA: Yeah, you haven't happened to have any pesky demons, you know, fiendish infestations around the mountain?

MATT: "No."

MARISHA: By chance.

MATT: "Should we?"

TRAVIS: No pesky demon weapon killing items, do ya?

MATT: "Fresh out, I'm afraid. Sorry about that."

TALIESIN: It's been a hard year.

MATT: "You all do look a bit haggard."

TALIESIN: It's been haggaring. I suppose, other than just reading about my family to see if they may have mentioned where they're going after this, or what their plans were--

MATT: "I think they were going to the Stones."

TALIESIN: All three of them?

MATT: "Well, I think they were eventually making their way there."

LAURA: The Stones. The Stones.

SAM: What stones?

LAURA: The Stones, Whitestone.

TALIESIN: No, no, the Stones is a family.

LAURA: Yeah, but what if they're in Whitestone?

TALIESIN: Is Whitestone south?

LAURA: I don't know, I don't know where Whitestone is.

TALIESIN: Where's that?

SAM: It's in--

TALIESIN: I damn well it isn't.

SAM: It's in Tal'Dorei. Tal-dorey.

(laughter)

It's in Calgary.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: All three temples are in the continent.

TRAVIS: They have a good rodeo there.

TALIESIN: Good rodeo.

SAM: Just happened.

TALIESIN: Yeah. Nothing else that they mention-- and it was my mom, my aunt, and was it one of the sisters who, just to make sure I got them all right.

MATT: Jeramess is like, "It was Constance and Corrin, I believe, and Colton.

TALIESIN: Colton. All right.

MARISHA: Constance, Corrin, and Colton.

TALIESIN: Why are you looking at me like that?

TRAVIS: Clay.

LIAM: Just noticing the themes.

TALIESIN: I thought I knew every face you made, this is a new one, I don't actually have any reference for it at all.

TRAVIS: Could be gas.

TALIESIN: Yeah, could be gas.

MARISHA: It's been a long journey.

TALIESIN: You don't happen to have hot springs here by any chance, do you? Or crystals anywhere, or god forbid, anywhere where I can find some spores or something living in these caves? I would like to get a sense of if there's any life in here. Something that likes the heat.

MATT: "I mean, there's all sorts of strange mold that gathers in certain places. Try not to eat that. Looking for places to bathe, honestly, right down at the base of the lake during the day, about maybe 100 feet back from where the magma hits the surface, water's actually pretty warm."

SAM: Cool.

TALIESIN: Any lichen down there or otherwise, something--

MATT: "Maybe?"

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: "There's plenty of game on the outskirts. Khemdal does a lot of hunting for us and--"

TALIESIN: Spirits don't bother you while you're bathing?

MATT: "Like I said, pay them no mind, they won't pay you."

TALIESIN: They seemed to like-- we were reading to them, r Jester was reading to them.

LAURA: Tusk Love. I hold up the book.


TRAVIS: Oh no.

MATT: You see Tyla goes, "I haven't read that one, what's that one about?"

LAURA: Oh, it's really good, do you want to borrow it, I mean, for as long as we're here, we're going to be here overnight maybe?

MATT: "Sure."

LAURA: Okay, good.

MARISHA: Have you read Ghost Dick? Same author.

SAM: (laughing)

MATT: "No, but if you guys are going to Uthodurn, if you could pick me up a copy maybe, if you're coming back."

LAURA: Yeah, yeah.

LIAM: Yeah, it's a crime story.

MARISHA: Yeah, you'd love it.

TRAVIS: Very rare, very rare, hard to find.

MATT: All right, as you guys sit down to begin making your notes into her book and as you watch over the shoulder and begin a conversation about exchanging information, and the rest of you are shown to your quarters here within the Cinderrest Sanctum, the Burning Lodge, we're going to go ahead and take a break. We'll be back here in a few minutes. And Ghost Dick. Before we leave, we do have our giveaway. We have a-- I'm going to mispronounce them always, delightfully bright orange padauk wood? Padauk dice vault? It's a really, really cool color. This we'll be giving away to one of you lucky winners from our friends at Wyrmwood. Tonight's code word is "volcano." Put the word volcano once--

LAURA: (making weird noises) (laughter)

MATT: (same weird noises) Put the word once in to the chat, more than that and you'll be disqualified, and for US and Canada only, excluding Quebec. We'll have our winner here shortly. See you guys in a minute.

SAM: Dammit, Ghost Dick, you're outta control!

Break[]

(upbeat music) ♪ You 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 the webpage ♪ ♪ 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 ♪ ♪ Yeah, 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 ♪ (whooshing) BENWIN: Hi, Benwin Bronzebottom, celebrity dwarf and video game enthusiast, and this is my sidekick Crowy. CROWY: Hello. BENWIN: We're here to tell you about Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, a Dungeons & Dragons based strategy management game from Code Name Entertainment. They're Canadian, so you know it's good. CROWY: Let's talk about the game. Did you ever play Cookie Clicker? BENWIN: Of course not. CROWY: This game is a management game like that, but with far more emphasis on strategy, and with a flavoring of D&D's lore and legendary heroes, you can unlock your favorite champions, like Farideh from Erin M. Evans' Brimstone Angels saga, Minsc and Boo from Baldur's Gate, and the fourth and final member of Acquisitions Incorporated The C-Team, Amy Falcone's Walnut Dankgrass. BENWIN: The K is silent. CROWY: Create the best adventuring party possible based on formation options, your character's ability, and the obstacles and enemies you face. BENWIN: Or you just randomly click on things like I do and hope for the best. CROWY: You can click on enemies to assist your champions, or you can set 'em up and walk away and let 'em do their thing, it's entirely up to you. BENWIN: I'm playing on the toilet right now. CROWY: Why wouldn't you be? Idle Champions is available on all your favorite gaming platforms, including tablets, for the low, low price of free. So download it now. BENWIN: End with joke. CROWY: You're not supposed to read-- BENWIN: It says end with joke. CROWY: No, we're supposed to come up with a joke to go where it says "end with joke." BENWIN: Oh, I don't know, "end with joke" is pretty funny. CROWY: Wait, on three, ready? One, two, three. BOTH: End with joke. (both laughing) BENWIN: I think it's funny, it's very funny. TALIESIN: Good evening, my devilish bees. I'm here to tell you about a very special one-shot coming to the Critical Role channel, brought to you by our good friends at Chaosium. What shadows lurk about the Crystal Palace? Find out this Monday, July 29th, at 7:00pm Pacific. If you miss the live broadcast, you can catch the VOD on YouTube, Wednesday, July 31st. I'll be joined by a wonderful cast of characters, including Marisha Ray, Erika Ishii, Liam O'Brien, Phil Lamarr, Ashly Burch, and the sure to be terrified Travis Willingham. I may have chewed that a little hard. (clearing throat) See you soon. (somber organ music) BRIAN (V.O.): Last time, on Talks Machina. BRIAN: This year we have a really special treat. For the first time ever, we are excited to show you the first three never before seen pages of the second issue, which comes out August 14th, write it down, put it in your phone. But, that's cool, but what's even cooler is instead of just showing it to you, we're going to have the cast do a readthrough of those three pages. [cheering] That sound fun? Sounds fun to me. All right, Matthew Mercer. MATT: All righty, so-- okay, we're ready then. LAURA: We're doing it? MATT: We're doing it live! All right, so, for those of you who have caught up, this takes place in Westruun, shortly after meeting Pike and searching as to how Grog has managed to vanish from the group, which is actually how the second session of our home campaign began. So, beginning. (clears throat) (as Wilhand, an old man) "Grog, my boy, "what are you doing at Gatshadow? "A bad place, a very bad place." LIAM: (as Vax) Don't worry, we'll find him. MARISHA: (as Keyleth) What can you tell us about Gatshadow, Mr. Trickfoot? MATT: "Mm? "Well, many around here call it the Cursed Mountain. "They say madness lies deep beneath the rock. "A power that draws all manner of vile things to it." SAM: (as Scanlan) Heh, vile, huh? That's certainly one way to describe Grog. Big idiot. ASHLEY: (as Pike) It's okay to be worried about him. We'd better get going. LAURA: (As Vex) We? We're a "we" now? SAM: Oh, that's my line. [laughter] I was entranced by your goddamn acting. (laughter) It's going to be incredibly dangerous. You should really stay here. You know, leave this to the professionals. ASHLEY: I know it's dangerous. That's what the armor and the weapons are for. Grog is my friend, and if he's in trouble, I'm going to help. Besides, the Everlight can provide us guidance in finding him. Unless one of you happens to be a cleric. LIAM: I guess we're a "we" now. MATT: "Good luck! "Keep them safe, Pike!" ASHLEY: Aww, well aren't you just the cutest! (Laura laughing) SAM: Aww, I wish I was a bear. [laughter] TRAVIS: (horse galloping and neighing) (Sam laughing) (Travis imitates a fart) (laughter) MARISHA: Pardon my asking, Pike, but how did Grog come to live in your home? He's just, well, he-- he's so... ASHLEY: Big? TRAVIS: (as Grog) Yeah. [laughter] SAM: End of scene. BRIAN: There you go. There you go. [cheering] MATT: Just a tease. A little tease. LAURA: Yeah. RYAN: Hello, my name's Ryan. My question's for Matt. Matt, I'm actually a close friend of your personal trainer, Ferris. MATT: Oh, no way! That's awesome! RYAN: Yeah, so he may have mentioned I'd be coming to ask a question. MATT: Yeah, yeah, he talked about you the other day. RYAN: Sorta related to that, I know with your busy schedule with voice acting, all the gigs you get, what goes into the mental and maybe even physical preparation of DMing for Critical Role every week? MATT: That's a good question. TRAVIS: Yeah, paint us a picture. What's the montage look like? (laughter) (Travis singing "Eye of the Tiger") MATT: I'm working on that, honestly. You know, all of this is very exciting, it's also very-- it's incredible, it's time consuming, in the best way, and it's also something that is scary. You know, all of this attention and all this, you know, positivity, it's a very scary thing for us to handle and be the front of, but that also makes us want to protect it that much more, so there's a lot of effort going into my own mental health and us checking in as friends, and making sure that that thread is still the baseline, like I mentioned earlier. Yeah, all these things I'm trying to be better about. It's an ongoing process, and I'm not always the best at it, and I falter and I stumble and I pick myself back up, but I think that accountability's been really helpful for me, both from my friends and from your friend Ferris kicking my ass during the week. Yeah, just trying to make the push to do that. You don't have to be perfect at it, but just making the effort, knowing it's okay to stumble, and then just pick yourself back up and keep going forward has been huge for me. AUDIENCE MEMBER: My question's for Sam, it's kind of a jokey thing, but it's been in my brain since Nott's whole deal came out. Is there a particular reason why you chose to play two small characters with a secret child two campaigns in a row? [laughter] MATT: Yeah, Sam. BRIAN: I can answer this one. He's not very bright. [laughter] SAM: I have one idea and I'm stickin' to it. (laughter) The small thing is partly because of Liam O'Brien, because he picks my characters for me. Also because, even though I'm a six-foot-tall man, I have like a small man disease, where I just feel like I should be even bigger. I don't know. (laughter) No, the kid thing, Matt chose the first kid. MATT: Yeah, you didn't know about Kaylie in the first campaign. SAM: I did not. It was-- I mean, Kaylie is probably not alone, right? [laughter] MATT: Probably. SAM: Scanlan probably has like a bunch. LIAM: Come on, Matt, give us a number. (laughter) MATT: Roll a d10. [laughter] TRAVIS: Only a d10? LAURA: Right? MATT: Well it's a multiplier. SAM: Yeah, d10 plus four. BRIAN: For each city in-- SAM: But no, I have children in real life, and I love them. (laughter) I think about them all the time, and I want to think about them in the game, too. And that's it. (keys clacking) DANI: Hey Christina, package. [ominous music] [angelic chorus] [coffee preparation sounds] [beeps] [coffee pouring] BRIAN: Hello, Christina. Tell me your backstory. [suspenseful music] [running footsteps] [intense drum beat] Have you always wanted to be a voice actor? [suspenseful music] CHRISTINA: He's here. BRIAN: Who's here? CHRISTINA: (screams) [light jazz music] DANI: Delightful. Unrivaled. Beauteous. Sublime. Ceramic. TRAVIS (V.O.): (as Grog) ♪ The best part of this mug ♪ ♪ Is that it can hold ale ♪ (giggles) LIAM: Subscribe, or don't subscribe. That's not a question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to ponder the pros and more pros of Twitch or Twitch Prime, or to take hands and gift new subs to Critters who find they can't afford them. To play, to sleep, no more. And by a sleep to say the cast and crew of Crit'cal Role might find their naps around the hectic schedule of a live broadcast that we have brought for your consumption, both Critter and fan alike. To play, or sleep. No sleep, but just to stream. Aye, there's the rub. For with your subscription, what streams may come. Oh man, oh man, oh man, that is a fucking tag line. Do we got that? That is Twitch poetry. (grunts) Oh, anyway. Subscribe to Critical Role. Use Twitch Prime to subscribe, gift some subscriptions, you got it. Wrong soliloquy for the skull, but that's fucking good. [classical music] [dramatic music]

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back. Before we get back into the game, we have our winner of the pah-dook dice vault, I've been corrected, as well as pawduck, some people have corrected. I've gotten multiple different pronunciation corrections on that, so I don't know who's right. Internet, always useful. The winner of the dice vault is Tarckturine. Tarckturine.

TRAVIS: You're going to get corrected on that, yep.

MATT: I'm sure I will be. I'm corrected on everything I say. Congratulations. We'll get this to you ASAP. Well done. All right.

TALIESIN: Sigg-il.

MARISHA: Made up words.

MATT: (sighs) It's the city.

TALIESIN: 200 years could pass and you could be right after a while. This is how language works. You're just ahead of your time.

MATT: Join me. All right.

LIAM: There's a lot of words out there, guys.

MATT: You spend the evening in the Cinderrest Sanctum. Is there anything you guys wish to achieve in the evening, or do you want to go ahead and move on to the next day's activity?

SAM: Just some ghost fucking.

TALIESIN: Hey, we get to heal.

LAURA: Oh, that's good.

MATT: Tyla is completely taken with Tusk Love.

LAURA: Oh good. Then she's going to enjoy what I wrote in the book that she let me borrow.

MATT: Oh no.

TALIESIN: I saw it happen. Oh, I saw it happen.

MATT: What did you write in the book?

LAURA: Oh, I just wrote a wonderful story about Petunia, and her lover, Captain Tusktooth, and their adventures on the high seas.

LIAM: God, this campaign is so grim-dark.

(laughter)

MATT: All righty.

LIAM: Do I read anything interesting? Did it make me happy?

MATT: Yeah, you read a lot of interesting things. You read a lot of elements of history, and yeah, I mean--

LIAM: Can I get a plus point one to all my history rolls?

(laughter)

MATT: You now get to roll with enthusiasm, history checks.

LAURA: Hey.

LIAM: Ooh.

MATT: (laughing)

TRAVIS: Hey, Jester?

LAURA: Yeah?

TRAVIS: You got that thing where you send messages, right?

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: Do you have any more of those?

LAURA: Yeah, I've got a bunch.

TRAVIS: Can I ask, like, a favor?

LAURA: Of course. You can ask anything, Fjord.

TRAVIS: If I, like, conjured an image of what Vandran looks like, could you send him a message?

LAURA: I can give it a try, yeah.

TRAVIS: Okay. I'll use Minor Illusion to just create a little relief of what his face looks like.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: What do you want me to say to him?

TRAVIS: Will you just ask him-- tell him that I'm okay, and if-- I don't know. I want to know how he's doing, but-- Caduceus checked in with the Wildmother and said that he was trying to atone for his past. I'm not sure what to say. I just feel like he doesn't care to be found, or I don't know what he wants.

LAURA: Maybe he doesn't know you're alive either. Maybe he's been searching for you.

TRAVIS: I guess that's right. Would you do me a solid and just do what you do?

LAURA: Sure.

TRAVIS: Okay.

LAURA: Okay, I'll cast Sending.

MATT: The image of Vandran as it appears, you can see looks to be a human man in his maybe early 50s or so. Skin battered, skin tanned from years at sea under the beating sun. Ashen blond beard that goes down to about the clavicle. A kind but hard face. One of the ears looks slightly cauliflowered on one side.

LAURA: Been in some fights.

MATT: You can see the hairline's receding on the top a bit, but it is long across the shoulders.

LAURA: What about his eyes, what color are they?

MATT: The eyes themselves actually would be a deep blue-green color. Very pretty, though very much hidden in amongst what would be not considered a handsome face classically, but definitely a face of someone who's seen much of the world, it would seem.

LAURA: Okay. Oh, I hope I'm not bothering him, after what you guys said, maybe-- it's fine. "Hello! You don't know me. I'm here with Fjord. He wants you to know he's okay and he's thinking about you. Where can he find you?"

MATT: Okay.

(laughter)

SAM: Is Fjord your real name? Is he going to know what Fjord is?

LAURA: Are you here?

SAM: No, I'm Sam Riegel right here. I'm an avid viewer of the show, I love it.

(laughter)

LIAM: Audience at this table.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: He's looking up a lot of stuff right now.

MARISHA: I know.

MATT: Sorry.

MARISHA: He's hittin' the doc.

LIAM: It's a big bump on the story.

MATT: Yeah. A moment passes before a gravelly voice comes through and goes, "You said you know Fjord. I haven't heard that name in a while. Glad he's doing well. Let him know I'm okay. Retired on an island. Good folks. He'd like 'em." And that's it.

SAM: Sam Elliott.

LAURA: Did he say at the end "he'd like them" or--?

MATT: "He'd like it."

LAURA: He'd like it. I repeat everything I just heard.

TRAVIS: Sounds like he's okay.

LAURA: He retired to an island?

TRAVIS: God, I've been so, like-- I feel like I need to find him, and I just don't know if it's that important to him. I know it's important to me, we've done so much.

LAURA: Yeah, but I mean, the way you talked about him, I mean, if you need to find him then you need to find him.

TRAVIS: I feel like I need to find him because I feel like I owe him. But if he doesn't feel that way, it might just be in my head.

LAURA: You know, messages are hard because you can't see the person's face. It did take him quite a while to respond.

TRAVIS: Right.

LAURA: For all he knows, I could be somebody bad and just trying to get a response out of him. He might not want to reveal too much.

TRAVIS: Sure, he was smart like that. Thank you. It's been a long time. I just don't know if what I wanted before is the same thing I want now.

LAURA: How are you doing? You seemed really quiet when we were in Nicodranas. You stood in the ocean and you didn't say anything.

TRAVIS: I feel like we've all changed.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Me especially. He's such a brave man, and he did so much for me, I just wanted to emulate that.

LAURA: I know.

TRAVIS: Repay that, pay it forward, I don't know. I feel like I've been so obsessed with this sword and how I got it, and Uk'otoa and the whole thing, I just feel like there's more out there. It's always more. Even Port Damali and-- and before that, my world just got bigger and bigger and bigger, and the more time goes on, the more you realize there is, and the more that we affect, and the more we can be effected, and-- there's a part of me that wants to leave it all behind.

LAURA: Just go somewhere quiet and disappear, and hope that it never bothers you again?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah, I understand that.

TRAVIS: I just don't think it'll let me. I feel like I'm trying to force something that's not going to happen on its own.

LAURA: Do you feel scared when you think of Uk'otoa?

TRAVIS: I try not to think of Uk'otoa.

MARISHA: (whispering) Uk'otoa.

LAURA: I mean, that's where your magical powers came from, yeah?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: You can't escape that.

TRAVIS: They left for a little bit.

LAURA: What?

TRAVIS: There was a night. I woke up and the sword was on the floor, and I-- I couldn't do anything.

LAURA: W-when was that?

TRAVIS: A while ago.

LAURA: Fjord, why didn't you say anything?

TRAVIS: I didn't know what to do.

LAURA: But it came back.

TRAVIS: In the middle of the day. We were setting that ambush, and Yasha-- Yasha was getting those bracers made, and they came back after a little bit, but I didn't know if I was going to run or what.

LAURA: How did you feel when they were gone?

TRAVIS: Terrified.

LAURA: Did you want them back?

TRAVIS: Yes.

LAURA: Would you do anything to get them back?

TRAVIS: No. No, but, I feel like I knew what I was doing, and I realized I have no idea.

LAURA: You're not the only one.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Thank you. That might've been just the check-in I needed.

LAURA: I wish I could be of more help, though.

TRAVIS: Oh, you have been. I've known you the longest in this.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Sometimes it's just hard figuring out who you should be, instead of who you want to be.

LAURA: Maybe-- I mean, the Traveler gave me my powers. Maybe, you-- you know, don't follow Uk'otoa, you could follow the Traveler, or someone else who could give you powers that are even better.

TRAVIS: How do you feel about Caduceus' deity, the Wildmother?

LAURA: The Wildmother?

TRAVIS: Yeah, Melora.

LAURA: I mean, I saw her, when I was bringing Caduceus back.

TRAVIS: You did?

LAURA: Mm-hmm, she popped in for a second. She seemed pretty nice, and she brought him back from the dead, I mean, that's always a good thing, that's really powerful stuff.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: He talks to her a lot. Not as much as I talk to the Traveler, you know. Because the Traveler's always got my back and stuff.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: But, I mean, as far as other gods go, she's a pretty good one.

TRAVIS: (faint laugh) Okay. I'm going to see if she'll... take an interest? I don't know.

LAURA: Whoa!

TRAVIS: I don't know how it works.

LAURA: I don't either! We should figure this out! This is our new mission.

TRAVIS: This is?

LAURA: Yeah, remember, originally we were just trying to get you to that stupid Academy. That place is stupid, I hate that place.

TRAVIS: I don't mind a new mission, but if it is, can we just not, you know, tell anybody that--

LAURA: Okay, we won't tell everybody, but you and I will know, this is our new mission.

TRAVIS: Okay.

LAURA: And we'll do anything to get you away from Uk'otoa, okay?

TRAVIS: Okay.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: (whispering) Uk'otoa.

LAURA: Thank you for talking to me, Fjord.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: Your tusks look pretty good coming in, by the way.

TRAVIS: (muffled) Thanks.

MARISHA: (chuckling)

MATT: All right. You guys separate and go off to bed?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: I have a thing, but it depends on if Caleb's bedding on his own, or if Caleb and Nott are paired up again. I don't know where we're-- what this place has to offer for sleeping.

MATT: You guys are, they don't have a lot of rooms, so the chamber that you have, and been given for the evening is the main chamber where Tyla and her husband, who's currently off in Uthodurn, normally stay in, so you're all in one central room.

LIAM: Okay. I'm going to go into a corner, seeing people doing their own things, and face the corner, and put Frumpkin on the ground in front of me. Keep me company. Then I'm going to spend the next hour taking everything-- not my clothes-- but taking things off, and opening bags, and making little, very specific, orderly rows of a small pouch of iron dust, and the honeysuckle, and I take that leather thong that I wear around my thigh and place that down, and the pearl, and the cat mint, and all of my different things, but in very specific rows. The glove comes off and I set that down, and I unroll a long leather-- just a strip of leather so that it's not on the ground, it's laid out on this, and everything, all my bits and pieces come away, except I do rub my hand under the chain that has been around my neck for five and a half to six years, and I leave that on. I take out my spellbook and flip through every page and just glance at it for about five seconds each, and set that down and leave it closed, and then I take out the other book, and I write for about 20 minutes in it, and then I sit and don't move for five to 10 minutes. Then I spend the next 10 to 15 gathering things slowly, putting them back, now that I've taken stock. Glove back on, everything back in the bag, one book, two book, pull the chain a little bit, and stare at Frumpkin for a minute.

MATT: (purrs)

LIAM: You're a good cat.

MATT: (mews)

LIAM: (snaps fingers)

MATT: (poof)

(laughter)

MARISHA: Dead.

(laughter)

LIAM: I just stare into the corner of the room for another three or four minutes, and I'm going to go to bed.

MATT: Okay. Everyone find themselves to rest?

TALIESIN: I'm going to spend some time, I'm going to walk every hall I can get into, very quietly. See everything there is to see, touch everything there is to touch, and--

MATT: You recognize a lot of the iconography of Moradin, the Allhammer, but there are many strong traces of Melora's presence here, as well as elements of the Raven Queen also woven throughout. This is a conjoined quest given by and tethered through a number of these entities.

TALIESIN: I'll find my way to bed, finish in the morning.

MATT: Okay. All right. You all eventually come to sleep, evening of comfort finds you. In the dark calm--

SAM: Oh.

MATT: --of your evening's sleep, Fjord.

TRAVIS: No!

(laughter)

It's not me, we're talking to everybody, right?

(laughter)

LIAM: Ghost Dick.

SAM: The ghost of Avantika's there for a second.

MATT: Oh my god.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: He hears these things, don't do that.

LIAM: Don't dump your body down.

MATT: You wake up on a beach. You can hear the waves crashing, but it's night, the moon high in the sky, round, full, a singular beacon of white light above, the stars twinkling above. It's peaceful. While you're conscious of it, and it's familiar, and it's just a dream-- You watch as the stars begin to blink out. (clicking) You look up and you can see them twinkling, different variations and brightness, one by one plucked out of the sky by darkness. That full moon, you watch as the dark orb of shadow begin to take it from one side to the next. The singular source of light left beginning to leave you in complete shadow as you begin to panic and feel your heart beating into your throat, you dig your fingers into the sand, your toes in, and stand up, just as the last bit of light plucks away. What disturbs you is that you're comfortable in the dark, but there's no placement of sight around you than but five feet of the beach and ocean before you. You can watch the waves (gentle crash) and pull away, out of sight. You feel, to the right of you, a heavy (thuds), and you feel a spray of sand from one side (thudding) onto the opposite side. Another spray, and you start to back up, and as you begin to back away, you feel the tendrils catch you from behind, and wrap and curl around one shoulder, and around your torso and constrict, not to pain, but to the point of immobility. Where the moon was in the sky, the shadow pulls back, but instead of a white moon, a yellow one. As it tears away, the singular familiar dark slit staring down upon you, pulls you closer towards its light. "Don't run. Find. Take. Consume." You sense below the eye, the sky begins to tear loudly. (ripping) The streaking thunderous noise as you see a mouth pull across the endless abyss and open, and the tendrils draw you towards it.

TRAVIS: Mm-mm.

MATT: "Return. Or consume.

TRAVIS: Oh, fuck.

MATT: As it pulls you into the dark expanse of the mouth, the jaws clamp around you, your body suddenly crushed with an instant, universal pain of your physical form being snuffed into paste, and in that minute, (gasping), wake up once more. You have no idea what time it is. The rest of your companions around you asleep. Yourself washed with sweat, breathing heavy.

TRAVIS: Do I see the sword?

MATT: You don't see it at the moment.

TRAVIS: Can I summon it?

MATT: Nothing.

(groaning)

MARISHA: Again?

TRAVIS: Oh, come on. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I sit up.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: I start looking for it a bit more urgently.

MATT: You glance over, and about four feet from you, it is resting right next to where Beauregard is currently curled up.

TRAVIS: Unsheathed?

MATT: Unsheathed.

TRAVIS: I will pick it up, and I will walk a little bit away from the group.

MATT: Okay, make a stealth check.

TRAVIS: Natural 20.

SAM: Whoa.

LIAM: Hmm.

MATT: Without issue, you gingerly grasp your weapon and sneak your way out of the chamber into the hallway.

TRAVIS: I will look at the sword.

MATT: You can see the dull orange glow that emanates from the not too distant Underforge, and the magma pool beneath it, slightly lighting the outside of your face against the reflective blade.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yes. I will walk towards the pool of magma. As close as I can get.

MATT: Okay, you step out, and you can see sitting in the same chair where you first met Jeramess Dust, she is sat there slumped forward and asleep, shoulder placed against the small table to her side, where the whittling tools are, unaware of your presence.

TRAVIS: I will take the sword and hold it against my chest, and I will say: You need me more than I need you. Give it back. Does anything happen?

MATT: Make an intimidation check.

LIAM: Against a titan.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: 23.

SAM: Ooh. Charisma.

MATT: Nothing seems to happen.

TRAVIS: I push it into my chest.

SAM: Ooh!

MATT: How far in?

TRAVIS: A few inches, maybe an inch.

MATT: Okay, a few inches or-- it's a little different.

TRAVIS: No, let's say an inch, see what happens.

MATT: The pain rocks through your body, and as you press in, your muscles tense around it, your chest contracts, and you feel the white hot sharp pain up through your body and into the base of your skull. You press it in, you can already feel the blood beginning to trickle from the wound.

TRAVIS: I'll take one step towards the pool of magma and I'll push it in a little further.

SAM: Oh!

MATT: Okay. You push it in another inch or so. You-- You've taken nine points of-- I'll say for this piercing damage, even though it is a slashing weapon, but it's being utilized in a piercing fashion.

TALIESIN: DPB.

MATT: As you now step--

LAURA: How close are you to the lava?

MATT: You're now like maybe a foot from the edge of it.

SAM: Oh god.

TRAVIS: Probably almost taking damage from that.

MATT: Make another intimidation check, if you'd like.

LAURA: Oh god.

SAM: Oh boy.

TRAVIS: (groans) 13.

MATT: 13. No response. No reaction, the heat is burning onto the edge of your skin. Not painfully so, but you definitely can feel the proximity.

TRAVIS: One more step, one more push.

MATT: You are now at the edge of it.

TRAVIS: (grunts)

MATT: You push in further, okay.

TALIESIN: Oh, Jesus.

LAURA: Don't pass out next to the lava, please.

MATT: Okay, that's--

LIAM: ♪ Whatever Uk'otoa wants ♪

MATT: 19 points of piercing damage upon yourself. At this point, as you're pulling it there-- how close are you standing to the edge? Are you just like outside of the wall or up against it?

TRAVIS: Just outside of it.

MATT: All right, you're standing right there, it's plunged now its third inch in, and that's fairly deep into your chest, and you can already feel the worry. Amongst-- your willpower is there at the moment, in the back of your mind, you're like, "I'm getting close to vitals."

TRAVIS: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Make another intimidation check.

MARISHA: Oh my god.

TRAVIS: 22.

MATT: 22, no response.

TRAVIS: I take the sword out, hold it over the pool.

MATT: All right, you withdraw. And with that, there's a gout of your own viscera splatters across the exterior of the wall, and begins to immediately sizzle and smoke.

TRAVIS: I don't know how long I can hold this.

MATT: As the blood drips from the blade (hissing) into the magma, the steam and smoke that arises from the burning of your own blood across the immediate, extremely hot surface, (hissing) sends up tufts of smoke. The stream gets more consistent as the smoke billows more and more and more, and begins to fill the space around you. The dark smoke beginning to swirl around your shoulders and around the weapon until suddenly the light begins to be choked around you, the warm, bright underglow of the light and fire begins to vanish as you find yourself surrounded in this cloud of smoke borne from your own burning blood. In that moment, the pain still there throbbing in your chest, numbs ever so slightly. There in the smoke around the blade, your hand shaking, still stalwart and strong, a calmness comes across you. What do you do?

LAURA: (whispering) Is it the Wildmother?

TRAVIS: I pull the blade back, and throw it.

SAM: Into the...

LAURA: (gasps)

MATT: It disappears through the smoke. You hear-- (clanking) The smoke dissipates in the direction of where you threw it about a moment later. There you can see it resting and slowly-- (hissing)

SAM and LAURA: (gasping)

MATT: -- sinking into the molten rock.

TRAVIS: I'll take a step back. Does it disappear under the--

MATT: If you wait a few moments, it probably will.

TRAVIS: I'll put my hand over the wound. Is it still pouring?

MATT: It is still bleeding, but not as profusely as it was when you withdrew the blade.

TRAVIS: I'll wander over to the group and wake up Caduceus.

MATT: Okay. Caduceus, you come to consciousness being gently-- somewhat gently woken by Fjord, who's currently clutching what is very easy to see, an open wound in the chest and a very bloodied hand over it.

TRAVIS: (British accent) I need your help.

TALIESIN: Don't even-- yeah. I'm not even going to-- just-- I'm going to put a hand on and heal that right now, I'm not even going to ask. Let's do that at-- let's do a Cure Wounds at like a-- you really effed yourself up, didn't you? Let's just do level four Cure Wounds to say we did and let's just get this out of the way.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: 11. 17, 18, 19, 24 hit points back immediately, just boom.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

TALIESIN: Do you want to--

TRAVIS: I need to sit down.

TALIESIN: Why don't we-- I'm going to pick him up and I'm going to take him out of the room with all the sleeping people.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: To whatever passes for fresh air.

MATT: Fresh air would be, it's--

TALIESIN: It's a bit of a ways.

MATT: Well, you'd have to probably get close to the exit, but there's the smoke above.

TALIESIN: Fresher air.

MATT: One of the side chambers, or on the floor around the Underforge.

TALIESIN: Whatever's private and emotionally healing.

MATT: Okay, you find one of those small storage chambers off to the side.

TALIESIN: So, um-- How did that happen?

TRAVIS: I threw the sword into the liquid rock.

TALIESIN: Your sword.

TRAVIS: Yes.

TALIESIN: Why?

TRAVIS: I don't like being a hostage.

TALIESIN: How do you feel?

TRAVIS: I honestly don't know. That sword was all I had.

TALIESIN: Well, I assure you that's not true. God, I haven't regained my spells yet. So what am I going to do? I would like to--

TRAVIS: Thank you.

TALIESIN: For what? I'm at a loss, I don't--

TRAVIS: Just for being you and coming from where you have and sharing what you know. I'm inspired by you.

TALIESIN: For what it's worth, those words alone make me feel like leaving my home and going on this journey was entirely worthwhile. I think I've said it before, I think there are great things ahead of you. I can't imagine-- You threw your sword-- show me where.

TRAVIS: In the pool.

TALIESIN: (exhales)

TRAVIS: I could show you.

TALIESIN: Please.

TRAVIS: I'll take him over to where it was.

MATT: Okay. It's no longer there. Your perceptive glance, you do see--

TALIESIN: It would leave a--

MATT: You do see what looked to be maybe elements of melted metal.

TALIESIN: I'm going to do Detect Magic. Just to see if it's even, if there's a glimmer of it.

MATT: All right. The direction of the weapon, no. The anvil that sits atop the Underforge is quite magical, as well as a number of the implements that dangle from the chains around it. But from the direction of where this weapon was thrown, no.

TALIESIN: Magical weapon wouldn't melt.

MATT: It shouldn't.

TALIESIN: So. I think you've made a good first step. I don't think you've-- I don't think you're free yet.

TRAVIS: (scoffs) What do you mean? It's-- It's in the liquid rock, nothing could-- What do you mean?

TALIESIN: Meaning this creature, this thing that has a hold on you, this thing that's gotten into you. You describe it as, I don't know, something deep sea, something like a squid-like eye?

TRAVIS: Many eyes, one giant eye, but more like a serpent. It's always in darkness.

TALIESIN: I'll say you did a good-- I can't imagine the battle you won tonight. Unlatching yourself from one tentacled grip of this thing, whatever this thing is that you're fighting.

TRAVIS: Caduceus, I may be a liability now.

TALIESIN: I entirely disagree. I think you're quite the asset. I think we're going to need you. I think if you were a liability, this thing wouldn't be fighting so hard to keep you. I think you're valuable, and I think that there are powers at play that know it.

TRAVIS: Well, let's hope we have an extra sword in the back somewhere, yes?

TALIESIN: I think we're going to have one soon.

TRAVIS: (sighs)

TALIESIN: In the meantime, we'll give you something to make do with. And again, if this thing-- I've never met a creature with one tentacle.

LAURA: (laughing)

TRAVIS: Thank you. I'll go wander over and try to-- try to sleep.

MATT: Okay. As you wander past the Underforge and glancing in the direction of where the sword was thrown, you look up towards the anvil, and there on the front cusp of it, you can see chiseled into the metal, a wreath of grain and branch and berry, and across the back of it, a tall crook placed behind it. Something about it just kind of-- just draws your attention.

TRAVIS: All right.

TALIESIN: You're not finished with this fight yet, Fjord. I think-- I think we're going to-- I think you're going to find your way to the light, though. I'm glad you can see it. It means you're close to the exit.

TRAVIS: We'll see where the exit leads.

TALIESIN: Yeah. Let's get some sleep, we've got a journey to find you a sword tomorrow.

TRAVIS: Sure.

TALIESIN: Night, Fjord.

TRAVIS: Good night.

LAURA: Was the thing on the anvil, was that etched into the anvil, the crook thing?

MATT: Etched into it, yeah.

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: That's cool, that's cool, that's cool.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Thank you for that.

TRAVIS: What did I do?

LIAM: Something real cool.

MARISHA: That was fucking dope.

TALIESIN: Something Percy never pulled off, motherfucker.

LAURA: (laughing)

TALIESIN: You just out-Percyed Percy, well done.

TRAVIS: Yep.

MATT: You eventually-- you curl up in the corner, the exhaustion not overtaken by the immensity and worry of what has transpired, but eventually, you do find rest. You find very comfortable rest.

TALIESIN: Man. (laughs)

MARISHA: Does this unmake you a warlock?

MATT: The morning comes.

SAM: Okay, a long rest.

MARISHA: Are you Wildlock now?

MATT: You all come to consciousness in the chamber. The warm, dull glow of the forge greets you at whatever hour it may be. You would be the only one that has any idea. Since rest probably, you guys probably bedded down closer to midnight, so it's like 8:00, 9:00 in the morning.

SAM: Woo! What's for breakfast?

TALIESIN: I honestly don't know what we eat around here, but I'm happy to help cook, if that helps.

LAURA: What a night, huh?

SAM: Good sleep.

LAURA: Yeah, I got some pretty good rest, yeah.

SAM: Yeah, it was great.

TALIESIN: Best sleep in ages.

SAM: Well, what are we doing today?

TALIESIN: I think we're making our way.

LAURA: Downtown?

SAM: Downtown?

MARISHA: (singing "A Thousand Miles")

TALIESIN: I'd like to make sure that the records show that we were here, and where they can find us, to find the tree, to go find the house, if any other members of the Clay family wander their way up there.

MATT: All right. Tyla gladly accepts it. "Don't worry, I'll go ahead and make sure in our books here this is taken care of."

TALIESIN: Of course, if you ever need anything, you're welcome. If for some reason you find you have to leave this place. I think we're going to be returning rather soon, anyway.

MATT: "Well great, look forward to seeing you come back, then."

LAURA: Do you guys have any breakfast stuff here?

MATT: "We can probably muster something, right?" Looks back towards Khemdal, you can see has stretched racks, like this metal rack set, where it looks like squirrels and other woodland critters have been skinned and stretched across it, and is currently holding it over the forge, like just burning it. "I mean, right, if you're hungry, I can put a few on."

SAM and MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: I mean, do you have any like, pastries or anything?

MATT: "No."

LIAM: Would you like a bead of nourishment?

SAM: A bead?

TALIESIN: Wait.

LAURA: Ooh. How big is the bead?

LIAM: It's the size of a boba.

TALIESIN: No, I don't have enough, damn.

SAM: A boba bead.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

SAM: Astronaut food.

LIAM: That's enough for a day, though, so if you eat the whole thing--

LAURA: I'll take a nibble.

LIAM: Skip lu-- okay.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I don't have enough supplies to bake right now, do I?

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: Okay, because holy pizza could be amazing. I think I'm going to have to get some baking supplies.

MATT: You could definitely try that.

TALIESIN: A kiln?

MATT: (laughing)

TALIESIN: I mean.

MARISHA: It's true. You could make like those little--

TALIESIN: Bread of the goddess.

MARISHA: Yeah, like the ground ovens.

LIAM: It's very light sweet.

MARISHA: It'd be sick.

LIAM: Almost nothing.

SAM: I'll have some squirrel bacon.

TALIESIN: It technically would be a Clay oven.

MARISHA: It would be a Clay oven!

LAURA: Fjord, do you want some of my bead?

TRAVIS: (British accent) Yes, please.

TALIESIN: I'll have a bit of that too, if you don't mind.

MARISHA: Can I take one of those skewers to go?

LAURA: Going to pass the bead around. Fjord?

SAM: Do you have something caught in your throat, Fjord? Something's-- like a little bubble.

LAURA: (whispering) Fjord, Fjord. You're not doing the accent. You forgot.

TRAVIS: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

MARISHA: Are you trying to convince somebody of something again?

TRAVIS: I'm sorry to all of you. You caught on, and you've known me the longest. I haven't been entirely forthright with you. I sound like this.

LAURA: Well yeah, I know.

TRAVIS: I know you know.

SAM: What do you mean? Sometimes, all the time, really?

TRAVIS: Most of my life, yes, like this.

SAM: What was that other thing you were doing?

LAURA: He was Vandran.

SAM: What do you mean he was Vandran?

TRAVIS: My captain, Vandran, was a man of great renown and respect, and I wanted to emulate him, I wanted to be him.

SAM: So you were talking like him.

TRAVIS: Yes.

TALIESIN: Well I liked it, I thought it was fun.

LAURA: It was charming.

TRAVIS: I had a night, Caduceus will tell you. Had another dream, Nott, I'm sure you'll be thrilled. I am sword-less today.

LAURA: Oh, you can't summon it or something?

TRAVIS: No, and I'll try and summon it.

MATT: Nothing happens.

TRAVIS: I, um-- I threw the sword into the liquid steel last night.

SAM: Why?

LIAM: It was Vandran's sword, wasn't it?

TRAVIS: Yes.

LAURA: I thought you loved that sword.

MARISHA: Were you just over it, or--?

TRAVIS: I talked to Jester just before we went to bed and I said I felt like a change was needed, and I didn't like being a pawn or a puppet, and I didn't know where it was going to lead, and also if that's the last key before this thing is unleashed, why not just destroy the-- the fucking key. So I threw it in.

MARISHA: Do you still feel like you have the balls inside you? Or are those gone, too?

TRAVIS: Well, let's see. And I will try to make myself look like Caleb.

MATT: Nothing.

(gasping)

LAURA: What are you trying to do?

TRAVIS: Let out a fart. No.

SAM: You're powerless?

TRAVIS: I think so.

TALIESIN: Nonsense, he's not powerless, he's just discovered a new power.

TRAVIS: It happened once before. I was having dreams of Uk'otoa commanding me to return, and to-- (sighs) And to do things, and I can't do that.

LAURA: But you said it came back before.

TRAVIS: It did. That was also without throwing the sword into a pool of lava, but yeah.

LAURA: He's going to be really pissed at you, Fjord.

SAM: Wait a second. You're weaker than before now.

TRAVIS: Considerably, I would imagine.

SAM: But do you feel better?

TRAVIS: I feel-- I don't know.

SAM: Do you feel pure, free, cleansed?

TRAVIS: I feel different. I feel less weight, and at the same time, a bit less valuable, rare, different, all of those things. I know what you're going to say, I know that you would disagree, but I enjoyed the abilities that I had.

MARISHA: Yeah, no, abilities are dope.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

TALIESIN: You've done something almost nobody here has done. You changed. That's amazing.

MARISHA: May I ask a question? Why the choice to drop the accent?

SAM: Was it tied to the sword?

MARISHA: Or did you just feel the events coincided?

TRAVIS: Everywhere Vandran went, he was heralded as a leader, respected, people quieted when he spoke without raising his voice. That was never quite the case when I talked. It was different. The first time I adopted that speech and changed the way that I looked, everyone listened. Everyone was quiet. That felt better. So I figured, no Vandran, might as well fill that void. Maybe it would suit me, serve me. I think it did, for a while. Jester sent a message for me last night. Vandran seems to be just fine. Not looking for me or searching out anything on his own, he seems to be at peace. That is not how I felt. I don't feel at peace, and that seems wrong. If what we had was the key to a great horror or evil, burying it, hiding it, I think this thing would just point the next poor bloke that falls into the ocean in its direction, and he would, or she would find it. So lava, right?

SAM: All your powers came from that sword?

LIAM: Well, let's find out.

TRAVIS: I didn't have them before.

LIAM: Put your hand out. I pull off the Glove of Blasting and I start to, hold on, it's not an attunement. Aim at the lava.

TRAVIS: Are any of the Dusts awake?

MATT: Yes, they've been cooking, stretched--

TRAVIS: Oh right, yes, they're making breakfast. Do you mind if I just?

MATT: At this point, Jeramess turns and goes, "If you don't mind not, you know, causing a huge racket or setting us all on fire, maybe."

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: "I appreciate that."

TRAVIS: Do you have like a wall that's less important that could take a little bit of, like a little--

MATT: "Outside."

LIAM: That's fair.

TRAVIS: Yeah, all right.

MARISHA: Yeah, let's go punch a mountain.

LIAM: Don't punch--

TRAVIS: I'll walk out the tunnel just a little bit and see if I can just shoot out the tunnel.

MATT: The rays extend and blast into the side of the mountain.

TRAVIS: But that's the glove.

LIAM: Well, but it's on your hand, so you hold onto that. Where's that whip?

LAURA: Oh, here.

LIAM: Yeah. You have things that are more useful than this, but for now.

LAURA: I mean, you can also have my axe.

SAM: Here, take this dagger.

TALIESIN: I have a shield as well, if you like.

LAURA: Here.

LIAM: The whip, yeah.

LAURA: I give him the whip and the axe.

TRAVIS: Oh no.

MARISHA: Caduceus, did you have the Mollymauk sword?

TALIESIN: No, he ate it.

LAURA: He ate it.

TRAVIS: I ate it.

MARISHA: That's right.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: I do have a shield though, if--

TRAVIS: This is more than enough, please.

SAM: It's really not, you're very weak.

TRAVIS: Okay.

(laughter)

No, I appreciate it, I really do.

MARISHA: I don't have anything to give you other than drugs.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: I don't need any drugs.

MARISHA: Actually maybe like, you know.

SAM: If you're on drugs, you'll think you're magic.

MARISHA: Exactly, maybe it'll open something.

TRAVIS: Well.

LAURA: That's the whip.

LIAM: You have also talked us out of a good number of scrapes, and that has nothing to do with any sword or ball or what have you.

TALIESIN: Sword, glove, what's the difference at the moment?

TRAVIS: Of course.

MARISHA: I don't think there's anything wrong with utilizing tools to help get you where you are, and you know, maybe you're just at a place now where you don't need those things.

TRAVIS: Perhaps. But you have saved my skin, and I will be here if I can to save yours, second mate.

MARISHA: Cap'n.

TRAVIS: So. Enough about me. Let's go to a city where elves and dwarves mingle, shall we?

SAM: Before we go, can I just, out of morbid curiosity, could you--

TRAVIS: If you make a comment about my strength, I might throw you in the lava.

SAM: You couldn't, but...

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Do we have a fire extinguisher in the studio? Because I'm on fire.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Holy shit!

SAM: Just because I'm curious, how would you say the words that are spelled E-L-D-R-I-G-E B-L-A-S-T? How would you pronounce that? How would you say those words?

TRAVIS: (British accent) Eldritch Blahst.

SAM: Blahst, no!

(laughter)

Well hell.

(laughter)

I miss the old way you said it!

MARISHA: Aww, Nott.

TRAVIS: (Texas accent) Eldritch Blast.

SAM: Yes. That's better. You drew it out a little longer.

TRAVIS: You do know I can't do it though, right?

SAM: The blaest?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

SAM: But you could say it the way I like it.

TRAVIS: Just for you.

SAM: Okay.

LIAM: And you are very good with accents.

TRAVIS: I'm okay.

LIAM: That's a skill.

TRAVIS: Some are better.

LIAM: What else you got? Maybe later.

MARISHA: Since you were using your fake accent as your real accent, and then your real accent as your fake accent, when you talk to people does that mean you're going to like, switch it up now, and we're going to hear old school Fjord, or I guess technically like, middle Fjord before we knew Fjord, and then we got Fjord.

SAM: Should we go?

MARISHA: Yeah, let's go.

(laughter)

LIAM: Wake and bake.

MATT: All right. (laughter) Gathered your things, heading off, it seems the snow storm has passed through the night, and instead has left this valley just completely packed with fresh white powder. Still a gray sky ahead with little breaks of blue visible, but it seems like travel for this next day is going to be a little more comfortable than what met you as you arrived at Kravaraad.

TALIESIN: (whispering) Sledding.

MATT: Looking at the map before you, and the day or so of travel you have through the mountains or further, depending on the paths you take, you begin your trek towards the city of Uthodurn within the Flotket Alps. And that's where we'll go ahead and end tonight's episode.

(cheering)

TALIESIN: Goddamn, Travis!

LAURA: Well hell!

TALIESIN: Goddamn!

LIAM: Cheers.

MARISHA: Now you're a liability.

TALIESIN: Well hell.

LIAM and LAURA: Well hell.

TALIESIN: That was some stones, motherfucker.

MATT: Yeah!

TALIESIN: That was some stones!

MATT: I had no idea where you were going to take that, and I was like, "Oh shit!"

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Nope.

TALIESIN: Leader of the fucking pack.

TRAVIS: I was about to take it back, and then--

LIAM: No, that was great.

LAURA: No.

TALIESIN: No.

SAM: Now you just have to go find magic.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Magic powers again, somehow.

LAURA: We just got to get him some powers.

TALIESIN: We got it, we're ready.

TRAVIS: I have no idea.

LAURA: We need that Wildmother.

SAM: We need that fucking sword, maybe the new sword will give him new powers.

MARISHA: Maybe it'll be like Wildmother connected--

SAM: You got powers from the last sword, maybe this sword? Well, I don't know.

MARISHA: Are you going to turn into a cleric?

LIAM: Is it like Spin the Bottle, put the sword on the ground and spin it and see what class it lands on?

TALIESIN: Then you got to make out with whatever sword lands on, wait.

LIAM: That's the last character.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Wow. Oh, that's true, sorry.

MARISHA: So many questions! Maybe you'll become a paladin!

SAM: Maybe he'll just pray--

TALIESIN: Maybe this is just a weird dating sim.

MATT: It could be. We'll find out where it goes next week on Friday, Friday evening at our live show at Gen Con.

(laughter)

5:00pm Pacific, 8:00pm Eastern. We'll see you guys then. In the meantime, have a wonderful week, we love you very much, and is it Thursday, Friday yet?

TALIESIN: Is it Gen Con yet?

MATT: Oh god, it fucked me up. Good bye.

(laughter) [dramatic music]

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