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List of Transcripts

Pre-Show[]

MATT: Hello and welcome to Critical Role, the game where a bunch of us nerdy-ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons and Dragons. Tonight we have an interesting continuation of the story; we'll be picking up here shortly. First and foremost, we're going to get ourselves through a few announcements and some cool things you guys should know. So, first and foremost for returning fans and people watching the show, thank you, and if this your first time live or your first time seeing the show, hopefully you're not too confused and welcome as well. First and foremost, for those who haven't seen it yet we've been doing Spotify playlists for each of the players and the characters; we just finished that whole sequence with mine that went up today, so if you haven't had a chance to check it out you can go ahead and check it out. I did a playlist based around many of the NPCs in the world of Exandria that Vox Machina have come across and just a couple little tidbits about their characters and their backgrounds and one song per NPC that rounds out their personalities, so check it out if you're interested. Hopefully you like it and you also get an eye into my taste in music, too.

SAM: A lot of classic rock!

MATT: We had a new comic come up this week, didn't we?

TALIESIN: We have a new comic!

MARISHA: New comic!

LIAM: Drink!

MARISHA: Yes, based off of real events that happened in real life and in game.

SAM: That's true.

TALIESIN: Who won that drinking contest in real life?

LAURA: Ashley.

TALIESIN: I was trying to remember.

MARISHA: I think Ashley.

TALIESIN: Who lost that drinking contest, if I recall?

MATT: Laura.

(laughter)

LAURA: I lost so hard.

MARISHA: But the pitchers is actually how you have to do it, so, but we just didn't post– it's like the rules are for alcohol commercials. As long as you're not actually physically drinking it, it's fine.

MATT: I will say, Laura, you plop down drunkenly very adorably.

LAURA: Shush, you.

(laughter)

LAURA: I don't know what you're talking about.

MATT: All right, cool, so go check out the comic, drawn by our wonderful artist Wendy, and this is all leading into a retelling of the Winter's Crest festival, the first one that Vox Machina had in the city of Westruun, so go check it out and see. Other updates: my class update also went up yesterday and it was actually just updated before the show tonight with a couple of fixes to some of the text and stuff, so if you've already downloaded, go to the website and download the newest one, it's 1.2. It's called the Bloodhunter; it's a retool of the Witchhunter, taking it away from the promotional aspect that it was tied to back in October. I was able to retool it and make it something a little more wholly my own and my own unique design as opposed to being tied to the preexisting IP. So it's got some cool abilities. I hope you like it. If you feel like running it in your game or allowing your players to do so, have fun.

MARISHA: And it's got the seal of approval.

MATT: Not the seal of approval, I would say. I did manage to have some wonderful feedback from Mike Mearls from Dungeons and Dragons at Wizards of the Coast. He was very very sweet enough to give me notes and ideas when I was going through the redesign process so thank you tremendously Mike for that. It's still my real first homebrew class that I've ever designed, so it's far from perfect and there'll be adjustments as time goes on and play tests and balance things come through, so be gentle. But it should at least be fun. Let's see. Marisha! You wanted to talk about Super Power Beat Down real fast.

MARISHA: Yeah, there was a new Super Power Beat Down that came out today where we are challenging Darth Maul versus Spider-man. Because, why not?

TALIESIN: Because it's Christmas.

MATT: (laughing) Because it's Christmas?

MARISHA: Why not. But you should check it out because we have a very fun cameo by someone who I don't want to spoil.

SAM: (laughs) It's not me!

MARISHA: It's not Sam.

SAM: No, it's really not.

MARISHA: No, it's really not. But his name might rhyme with Pan Me.

SAM: Bahn mi, the Vietnamese sandwich that you can get in many places?

MARISHA: Yes. It rhymes with bahn me. No, it doesn't, actually.

LIAM: You got Ang Lee to be in your short?!

SAM: Ang Lee!

MATT: That's crazy!

TALIESIN: I'm really lost right now. I'm genuinely lost.

MARISHA: The chat room gets it, don't you?

TRAVIS: Pan Me?

LAURA: That's major!

MARISHA: His name… yeah! There's a cameo in there.

LIAM: He directed The Hulk! And The Ice Storm!

MATT: The not-good one!

ALL: Oh…

TALIESIN: And now that cameo's being edited out.

MATT: Just saying.

LAURA: You'll never work on broken… what is it? Mountain? Brokeback Mountain II? That was a horrible joke. Just forget I said that.

(laughter)

MATT: No. If the internet's been watching–

ASHLEY: I thought it was funny.

MATT: If the internet's been paying attention, they'll know that I've practically already been in Brokeback Mountain II.

TALIESIN: Speaking of which, you're in a thing this week.

MATT: Oh yeah.

LIAM: Get it, girl!

MATT: So, on Hulu, there's the new Rocket Jump series that went up, and our dear friend Ashly Burch, a very talented girl, wrote and directed a very awesome, really hilarious sketch that is a loving parody of fanfiction on the internet and fan cultures colliding. And I had the pleasure of briefly having a cameo as Loki in it, and I'm not going to spoil the ending, because it's a whopper.

(laughter)

LIAM: It's a happy ending.

MATT: It's a very happy ending with multiple happy endings. All over. So, you can go check that out. And I'm sorry.

MARISHA: “And I'm sorry.”

MATT: And I'm sorry.

LIAM: You're welcome.

MATT: (laughs) Depending on who I'm talking to. Another quick awesome announcement, this is huge: Ashley, can you please wear headphones, a slight echo is coming through?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: Thank you. So, if you guys could all help her do that, that would be great. Next week is our last episode before the holiday break.

LAURA: Ever.

MATT: No, don't even say that! We've already had that rumor go around apparently, like, “Oh my god, is the show going to end forever?” I'm like, no!

LIAM: As long as they'll let us do this, we're going to do it.

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: Or as long as Matt doesn't kill us all.

MATT: Oh, we'll just reroll characters. Yeah, and we'll all play Rifts. It'll be good. No. So, next week will be our last episode before the break. We'll be returning on January 7th. But in the meantime, everyone will be enjoying time with their families and such. Enjoy your two week break off. I know we will. Also, once again just a reminder, we have our Critmas sweaters available.

SAM: I'm modeling one right now!

LAURA: Also available in green.

SAM: It's lovely. The fabric is soft. It fits snugly and warmly… but not too warm. I think… I would pay 50 dollars for a sweater like this.

TALIESIN: You look like you're snugly in there, I must say.

LIAM: It's got your poops right on it.

SAM: It keeps my poops nice and snug.

LAURA: Poop through a cone.

SAM: It's got two pockets for two poops.

MATT: You can't beat promotion like this, folks. Check out the Geek and Sundry website. They have all of the awesome stuff up there so you can get those last-minute presents for your friends and family who hopefully haven't seen the show so they're really confused what you get them.

MARISHA: Yeah, like, “Dude! I got you something I like!”

MATT: Yeah, hey, works out well. It's the season of the Homer bowling ball. Marisha, you want to talk about the Boonzy Arts candles?

MARISHA: Oh, yes, the Boonzy Arts candles. I meant to grab those. The D&D-related candles that I plugged back when we were doing the Slayer's Take episodes forever ago. They had a Kickstarter. They are out now and you can buy them on their website at BoonzyArts.com. Yes, and we have a set that we were going to be doing in a giveaway as well that she delivered that I'll find during break.

MATT: There you have it. Also as a reminder, we have Wyrmwood Gaming that does the really awesome high-quality gamer stuff.

LIAM: An excellent Christmas gift, or Critmas gift, a Wyrmwood Gaming box would be. If you use the code CritRole, you'll get free shipping. And they are lovely and fancy and they will make a nice, handsome Christmas present.

TRAVIS: And they will poop in your box for the delivery.

MATT: You have to request that.

TALIESIN: That was only you.

LIAM: Sam will do that.

SAM: I will do that if you request.

ASHLEY: Oh man, I can't wait to get mine!

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Including the poo.

SAM: Ashley, we can see the sparkle on your eyes is messing with the cameras. Can you also wear something over your eyes? So, headphones and also cover your eyes.

ASHLEY: (laughs) I don't know.

TRAVIS: No promises, you guys.

ASHLEY: I didn't have a comeback for that one.

MATT: Couple of last things. The Critter's Guide to Critmas is going up tomorrow, isn't it?

MARISHA: Tomorrow. At 6AM.

MATT: 6AM.

SAM: You're going to wake up for that?

MARISHA: Like the Macy's Day Parade. No. But it'll be up that early. Now that we've had an awesome year of amazing Critmases, we've had a few ideas that the Critters actually gave us to focus the idea of Critmas a little bit.

TALIESIN: The spirit of Critmas.

SAM: On what it originally was, Jesus Crit.

(laughter)

SAM: That's what the holiday was always about.

TRAVIS: No.

SAM: And now we're getting it back to Jesus Crit.

(laughter)

SAM: No?

MARISHA: Yep. We'll leave it at that.

TRAVIS: You can't do any better that.

MATT: So, tomorrow you'll be able to read this really inaccurate description by Sam Riegel– the Critter's Guide to Critmas. And last but not least, if anybody has any other announcements or projects coming up that they'd like to mention. There's a Wii U game that just came out called Xenoblade Chronicles X where I voice a character named Lao, that just came out recently, so if you're a fan of those awesome RPGs, I will be really subdued and arrogant in your face.

TRAVIS: Subdued and arrogant.

TALIESIN: We get that for free.

MATT: Exactly. Every week. Anything else, guys? We good?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: All righty. Now let's get down to the nitty gritty.

(sound effect noises)

Part I[]

TRAVIS: Was that “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

SAM: Yeah. Of course. It's got to be, right?

MATT: The lights swish. All right. So, to get you guys up to speed as fast as I can– this is a really long arc. The Briarwoods, being a family that five years ago took over the city of Whitestone, where Percy hails from, murdered his family, and he barely escaped with his life, years later, came back into the folds of Vox Machina's existence, and it was decided to go ahead and hunt them down and save the city of Whitestone. Upon arriving, they began to stir rebellion in the town against this horrible undead menace controlled by Lady Briarwood herself. After this rebellion was incited, fires were burning, individuals were killed that were responsible for keeping the people down and just generally bad people all around were being slaughtered by our intrepid adventurers. They made their way into Whitestone Castle, where they had uncovered some information about the ziggurat, a project in which the Briarwoods had been developing something beneath the city of Whitestone, and discovered that Percy's sister Cassandra, who was thought to be dead long ago, actually still survived and was being kept in the castle. She joined the party as you guys fought your way down underneath the city of Whitestone through a series of tunnels, finding yourselves unintentionally locked within a trap, a retooled version of what was previously an acid distillery for the whitestone that's actually mined from the surrounding mountains, and thought left for dead by the Briarwoods themselves. In which Vax was charmed and taken along with them, and Cassandra showed herself–

LAURA: You were the one who got us into the acid in the first place. Thank you for that.

LIAM: You don't think they would have done that?

LAURA: I don't know.

TRAVIS: We'll never know.

LAURA: We'll never know.

MARISHA: Acid sucks. I never want to encounter acid again. Every time we do, it's bad. It's always bad.

MATT: Well, acid's bad in general, you know, it's not like, “Oh, this acid's fine.”

LIAM: Citric acid is pretty good.

LAURA: Pretty delicious.

MARISHA: Preserves apples.

MATT: I stand corrected.

LIAM: Could it be a citric acid trap?

MATT: No. It's probably not going to happen.

TRAVIS: Damn it, we should have done that check last time. “Can we check for citric acid?” “You can certainly try.”

(laughter)

MATT: It's not acid resistance on your armor, it's citric acid resistance.

SAM: You don't get scurvy?

MATT: Very possible. Anyway, back to the story. Upon facing the danger of this trap, and seeing Cassandra turn redcoat to them with the Briarwoods, the party managed to think their way out of the trap before too much damage was taken, and following the Briarwoods to the final chamber where the ziggurat was constructed, where apparently there is some sort of ritual underway to some entity they worship or work with that they refer to as “The Whispered One.” Upon following, the party dividing up and following up the sides of the ziggurat, they managed to catch an encounter with the Briarwoods, a charmed Vax, and Cassandra before they could enter the actual ritual chamber.

A battle commenced where, thanks to proper preparation, did not go all so poorly, and in the process Sylas Briarwood was destroyed through a combination of Sunbeam via Keyleth and some Pike shield deflection– a very “Avengers” moment with a hint of phallic imagery. Sylas's destruction sent Delilah into a mournful wail and she decided to try and complete the ritual herself, although it may or may not have been too soon to do so. Dimension Doored her way into the ritual room, which you guys followed over the wall. She seemed to complete the ritual, creating this small vacuous spinning black sphere that is locked in place. Vex was nearly felled by a spell as she attempted to fly in and stop it. The party then rushed in to aid Vex. Percy took a shot that intentionally did not finish Lady Briarwood, just taking off her right arm as she fell unconscious, bleeding out.

Vex, unconscious from the fall and also on the cusp of dying, the party rushed in to help her and realized seemingly the vicinity around this orb had cut all magic. So thus, they were snatched up and escorted off the side of the ziggurat, and that was where we left the last game. To pick up where we were, who had Vex in their arms last time? Was that you?

LIAM: Grog.

MATT: Grog, you have Vex in your arms. Who has Delilah? And who has Cassandra?

LIAM: Grog has both.

LAURA: He has both of us. I'm piled on top of Delilah.

MATT: Okay. So, you have Delilah and Vex. Who has Cassandra?

TALIESIN: I think I have Cassandra.

MATT: Okay. So, as you guys are rushing down the steps of the ziggurat itself, the green glass-like jade material slowly fading into the whitestone as you rush towards the base with what little bit of light was available to you from the small bits of torches placed at the bottom of the ziggurat and what light sources you brought with you. You find yourselves at the very bottom of the dirt, looking around. There's the exit where you guys originally entered this chamber. You do also see a number of small metallic carts, some turned on their sides; you can see crumpled bits of whitestone and shards of that green glass residuum material left out. You can see there's piles of leftover building materials that are scattered about the floor of this area.

LIAM: Are you saying that Keyleth and I are caught up, at this point? Because I know that people started going out of the temple, Keyleth ran in, I handed Vex to Grog, I ran after.

MATT: So you guys are still a little bit behind the rest of the group. You're on your way now, you're just now rushing down the stairs of the ziggurat while the rest of you have reached the bottom.

TRAVIS: She rolled that natural 20 that kept her from probably getting sucked into Uranus.

MARISHA: Yep. Probably.

MATT: Save versus Uranus.

MARISHA: That would have been bad. Save versus Uranus? Is that what you said?

MATT: That is what I said.

LIAM: Put it in the handbook.

TALIESIN: It's like we're 12.

MATT: The next errata document.

TRAVIS: And Lady Briarwood is manacled.

MATT: She's manacled behind you. And Cassandra is tied up. As the rest of you rush down to the bottom, minus Vax and Keyleth, do you wish to wait for them, or push on to the tunnel where you entered?

TRAVIS: Fuck them. We keep running. We're trying to get out of the area, right?

LAURA: I'm barely conscious right now, right?

MARISHA: I was yelling in the earpiece, fuck it, run!

MATT: So you know that they're following you.

LAURA: Grog.

TRAVIS: Yes?

LAURA: Get this bitch off of me.

TRAVIS: Oh, sorry. Yeah, fuck it. It's like carrying coats. Hold on. So I put one in each arm. There you go.

LAURA: Are we leaving?

TRAVIS: Yeah, we're trying to get out of here as fast as we can. How are you feeling?

LAURA: Grog. And I reach up and grab onto his beard. This is a beautiful beard. Watch out for traps.

MATT: So at this point, as you're having this discussion, you guys are rushing down, and you guys see this as you're rushing down the ziggurat, the radiant energy that is currently the form of Pike seems to have slowly dwindled and she looks over her shoulder with a look of immediate fear as it blinks out.

MARISHA: What? Why the– why?

SAM: Because of technology, and also the story.

TRAVIS: (laughs) I didn't even know she was gone!

MARISHA: I didn't, either!

SAM: Pike, no! No, Pike!

MATT: It seems as if whatever anti-magical aura has slowly pushed the divine connection that keeps her present from the current vicinity.

MARISHA: Did your computer die?

SAM: Also, the battery died on the computer.

LIAM: It's that black orb!

LAURA: I didn't know. Where can we plug it in at?

MATT: So, you guys push on, making your way to the cavern and heading back towards the undercroft vicinity of Whitestone.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Let me know when we leave that big-ass room that the ziggurat is in. We're still in it, right?

MATT: You guys have just now made your way towards the exit tunnel, so you're just now leaving.

TRAVIS: I remember the tunnels sucking booby-trap-wise.

TALIESIN: Not until we're past the gold room. The glass room.

LIAM: I marked all the traps.

TALIESIN: All the traps are marked.

SAM: All the traps that we found.

LAURA: No, remember? There was one, the poison dust one which we're immune to still.

TALIESIN: But that already got set off.

TRAVIS: Can I check for traps as I go?

MATT: Sure. Well, you push and make your way into–

SAM: You're checking for traps?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

SAM: You're holding two ladies.

MATT: As you guys rush behind.

TRAVIS: Normal Saturday night, my friend.

SAM: Oh boy.

MATT: You head back into the tunnel having to lower your head a little bit as you're carrying this payload, you're lumbering through, giant goliath body just stomping through–

MARISHA: A payload? He called you a payload.

MATT: Yeah. You come to where there is the partially-dissolved stone door, and you rush underneath and using all of your back muscle– make a strength check.

TRAVIS: Okay. That's good. 24.

MATT: (grunts) Tensing the entirety of your muscle structure–

LAURA: I'm not that heavy.

MATT: Oh, it's not about you being heavy. It's about the door itself not being quite large enough for him to come through carrying that large of people. You (grunts) lift it, and you hear the stone (scraping noise) shift as it's forcefully pushed up. You hear snaps of things breaking or supports that were keeping it in place as you, essentially, break the door and jam it upward, giving you enough space to pull through the rest of the party.

TRAVIS: I fucking hate doors. Don't we all?

SAM: We do.

MATT: Indeed. Greatest nemesis of Vox Machina.

TALIESIN: Is Cassandra awake or is she unconscious?

MATT: She's unconscious now.

TALIESIN: Damn it.

MATT: You make your way into the top level of the distillery room, down the pathway into the upward ramp to the opposite side, the door open, and you are now outside of the distillery trap.

TRAVIS: It's the danger area.

LAURA: Oh no.

TRAVIS: You're out.

SAM: Wait, so who's at zero health?

TRAVIS: One point.

LAURA: I'm at one point of health.

SAM: We have potions, now. We're out of the magic–

TRAVIS: Can't you heal some people?

TALIESIN: We can try a–

TRAVIS: I have potions, too, but–

MARISHA: Are we out of the room?

LAURA: We're out of the room.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we're out of the room.

MATT: You're not currently with them, though. You're behind with Vax, trying to catch up.

TRAVIS: I have a common. Can I try giving Vex a common healing potion?

MATT: Yeah. You want to stop for a second and pull it out?

TRAVIS: I fucking drop Lady Briarwood on her face, hard.

SAM: Oh no, she might die.

LAURA: Oh no, she could die, die.

MATT: Okay. She (thudding noise) rolls, bounces a little bit from the sheer force of the throw. You're not even paying attention as to whether or not she's still breathing. You reach in your pouch and bring out your potion. Set Vex down and hand it to her.

TRAVIS: Please work.

MATT: You go ahead and heal 2d4 plus two hit points.

LAURA: Oh! Really?!

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay. Where's my d4? Plus two. Oh, that's good. That's a whole eight points.

MATT: There you go. That's actually a pretty good roll.

TRAVIS: And it stays? It works?

MATT: At this point, as you guys have pushed outside of that room, it appears to be functioning again.

LAURA: Yay!

TRAVIS: Oh, good. That took. Can you heal people? It's a yes or no question.

LAURA: I'm awake enough.

TALIESIN: I can try.

LAURA: I'm awake enough. I wake up and I cast Cure Wounds on myself.

MATT: Okay. Go for it. Roll for that.

TALIESIN: I can't do that.

LAURA: I'm like, “Ooh, I love me so much. Cure me.”

MATT: At 1st level?

LAURA: I think 2nd level. I have enough.

MATT: So 2d8 plus your spellcasting modifier. Whatever your wisdom modifier is.

LAURA: That was not even as good as the common potion. Oh. Well, sort of. 14.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Still pretty low.

LAURA: So, basically full hit points at this point.

TRAVIS: I feel like we should heal you up just a touch more. What are you at?

LAURA: 23 points.

TRAVIS: That's pretty fucking low.

SAM: All right. I'll give you my greater heal.

TRAVIS: I have one. She can have mine.

LAURA: Really?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'm a giant.

SAM: No, I'll take this one. I want you to have my greater healing potion. It would mean so much to me if you would take it, drink.

LAURA: Thanks, Scanlan.

SAM: No problem. If Pike were here, I'd give it to her, but…

LAURA: Understandable.

SAM: She's not, so. You're pretty cool, too.

LAURA: Okay. Thanks, buddy. What do I roll for that?

SAM: 4d4 plus four.

LAURA: Whoa. I feel so strong now.

TRAVIS: You'd better roll strong.

LAURA: 11. So I'm at 34 points.

SAM: Hey, as a thank you for that.

LAURA: What?

SAM: What about that gun?

LAURA: Scanlan!

SAM: Just let me hold it!

TRAVIS: Oh, he did just give you a potion.

LAURA: I'm just letting you know, you're not skilled with ranged attacks.

TALIESIN: There's nothing he can do with it, anyway. I have all the ammunition.

LAURA: I know.

SAM: That's what you think. My pickpocket fingers are faster than you could ever imagine.

TALIESIN: I really don't think they are.

TRAVIS: Sounds like a challenge!

MATT: At this point, Keyleth and Vax catch up to the rest of you guys.

SAM: I'll take that.

TRAVIS: How did it go? Did you kill the little black thing of death?

MARISHA: (slowly) No, I didn't.

TRAVIS: Vex gave Scanlan a gun. I don't think it's loaded.

MARISHA: Oh, god. Be careful.

SAM: Does it look cool?

TALIESIN: No.

LAURA: We need to take care of that orb.

MARISHA: No, I tried to jam a piece of the magic glass. The jammy magic glass into it and– I'm probably lucky that I was able to pull away as quickly as I did, because I think it eats everything around it.

LAURA: So wait, it's still there?

MARISHA: Still there, yeah.

TRAVIS: Is it moving at all?

MARISHA: It's doing its really fast spinny thing.

TRAVIS: What about all the bodies in the room? Are they still like, (moans)?

MARISHA: I thought I could maybe go into my wildshape and bring down the building, I thought maybe if I collapsed the building, maybe it was drawing some sort of energy from the net of intertwined bodies, but I couldn't, because it was blocking all magic capabilities.

LAURA: Can I look over at Lady Briarwood and do a check on her to see if she looks stable?

MATT: Sure. Which, at this point, just a note, in all the chaos and all the intent, trying to get things out of there, you're just now starting to realize that the Seeming spell that you placed on the whole party has also been canceled as part of whatever this trigger anti-field was. So you all look around and realize, oh, we aren't a bunch of Percys and Cassandras.

TRAVIS: I'm beautiful again!

TALIESIN: Thank you?

LAURA: That's good, because I noticed your beard.

TRAVIS: That's right.

LAURA: That's right.

TALIESIN: Are you checking on Lady Briarwood?

LAURA: I am.

MATT: Trinket's nuzzling the body.

TALIESIN: Keep her unconscious.

LAURA: Trinket, careful.

TALIESIN: I'm going to try and wake Cassandra up.

MATT: Okay.

(Skype sounds)

SAM: It's the magic.

LAURA: That's magic.

MATT: All right, so. You go ahead and check on her. Go ahead and make–actually this is pretty easy, you just go ahead and take a moment, you just feel her for a pulse. She is currently still alive. And with a flash of divine energy just past the outskirts of this anti-magic field, you can see Pike's radiant ethereal form all of a sudden reconstruct itself.

LAURA and MARISHA: Pike!

ASHLEY: I'm back!

SAM: Oh, thank god.

ASHLEY: We were killing Lady Briarwood?

SAM: No, we're okay. Everything's okay. Thank Sarenrae you're back.

ASHLEY: Okay. Can I heal somebody?

SAM: We did that a bit while you were gone, but yes.

LAURA: But I'm still pretty low! If you feel like it, I would take it and I would be grateful.

ASHLEY: How's everybody else?

TRAVIS: Can you heal a couple of people?

ASHLEY: Yeah!

MARISHA: I'm a little shaky.

TALIESIN: I'm a little shaky, as well.

LAURA: Pike, heal us all. We love you.

ASHLEY: Okay. Let me do a Mass Cure Wounds. I have that.

LIAM: Gather together, everyone, gather together.

MARISHA: Group hug!

LAURA: Oh wait, but wait! Don't let Lady Briarwood in the circle of healing.

SAM: Wait, is she alive? Did you check her?

MATT: She is currently alive. She's unconscious. And she's, thankfully from the blast and the sheer force of it, part of the wound was cauterized, but she has been bleeding quite a bit on the run down here, and she would probably need some sort of–

MARISHA: Should I stabilize her?

TRAVIS: Yeah, wait, stabilize her first.

LAURA: We're away from the fucking sacrifice area. Maybe we should just kill her.

TALIESIN: I want to quickly check my gun. Is Lord Briarwood's name still on it?

MATT: You go and inspect the barrel. No. Sylas Briarwood is currently erased from the barrel.

TALIESIN: Let's hold off just a bit before we kill her.

TRAVIS: I have some really dirty rags. Could I do a medicine check and try and stabilize her bleeding?

MATT: If you want to.

SAM: Dirty rags?

TRAVIS: 18!

SAM: Do you have medicine skills?

TRAVIS: Zero!

MATT: So yeah, as you guys are having this conversation, Grog comes over and pulls out a mottled mass of really filthy rags from the Bag of Holding, probably used in various nose-wiping circumstances.

TRAVIS: Or other things.

MATT: But somehow it manages to stop the bleeding and keep her relatively stable for the moment, yeah.

TRAVIS: Okay, and then I take her by the foot and I drag her on her face away from the group. Very gently, but still by her foot.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Double-check. Perhaps gag her, as well.

TRAVIS: Oh right, yeah, she talks that shit, doesn't she?

TALIESIN: We don't want her speaking, and she only has one arm, so magic's going to be tricky.

LIAM: She can't do this kind of thing, but she can still talk.

MATT: Pike, did you say you wanted to cast Mass Cure Wounds, you said?

ASHLEY: Yes.

MATT: Okay, you can choose up to six creatures in a 30-foot radius, so it's your choice who you want to heal.

TALIESIN: She can't see us. Why are we holding our hands up?

LAURA: I don't know.

TALIESIN: Actually, you can see us on the screen. Never mind.

ASHLEY: I know, I have you guys on my iPad down here, but you're delayed.

LIAM: There's six including all of us.

ASHLEY: Okay, so I'll cure all the six people in my family.

MATT: All right, so that's 3d8 plus five for you.

LAURA: Wow!

LIAM: Pour one out for your homies.

MARISHA: Roll high!

MATT: Oh, to have a cleric in the group again.

TRAVIS: I know, right? Shit! Life!

LAURA and MARISHA: She's rolling.

ASHLEY: 26!

ALL: Ooh!

(laughter)

MATT: Oh. Let this be a lesson to all the people out there who think clerics are lame and nobody loves them.

TRAVIS: We love them! Can I tear a piece of fabric off of one of the three remaining fancy robes and I tie it around Lady Briarwood's mouth? But like– (muffled) in, and you know like (muffled) in the teeth all– she can't really enunciate.

MATT: Okay, so you pull it and you gag her around the side of her mouth and as you end up tying it, you see one of her eyes lulls open and she kind of, (coughs, sputters).

TRAVIS: (yelps) Shit, she's awake!

SAM and LAURA: Punch her in the face!

SAM: No wait, don't. You'll kill her.

MATT: Up to you. What do you want to do?

SAM: Blindfold her!

TRAVIS: I slap her.

MATT: (laughing) Roll a strength check.

SAM: Shit!

(laughter)

SAM: He's going to kill her with a slap.

LAURA: She'll be knocked unconscious and she'll have to save three times again.

TRAVIS: 21.

SAM: Oh that's good!

MATT: (whack) Right across her face. You hear a resounding crack sound as it appears some part of her cheek bone probably is going to be fairly bruised tomorrow. But she is straight to unconsciousness again.

(cheering)

TRAVIS: If you're curious, she's still alive.

TALIESIN: I can tell.

LAURA: She almost killed me.

MARISHA: Is she just unconscious?

MATT: She's still breathing.

TALIESIN: I'm going to try and wake up Cassandra.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: I did bandages on her real good.

MATT: As you're standing in the tunnel, they're off to one side. You go over to where Cassandra is. You briefly set her down to have this conversation. She's still bound on her arms and legs– she was nearly hogtied by Grog when you guys finished up at the top of the temple. She's breathing. You can see, the dirt from being tossed to the ground is caked in on where the tear marks are down her face. You shake her gently and eventually she comes to consciousness and her eyes roll around for a moment, she glances over at you. “Percy?”

TALIESIN: We will have a discussion later. In the meantime, do you know what that thing in there is and how do we stop it?

MATT: “I don't… what? What's going on?”

LAURA: The spinning orb of death.

MATT: She starts moving around, looking around the tunnel real fast at everyone. “What happened? “What's going on?”

TRAVIS: You betrayed some bitches, that's what you did.

MATT: And as you say this, you see she reacts as almost someone had just punched her in the chest and the tears begin to flow down her face again, and she, “I'm sorry.”

TALIESIN: I'm going to slap her in the face.

MATT: Okay. (slap) Go ahead and roll a strength check.

SAM: That's your sister, Percy!

LAURA: She might be unconscious too!

TALIESIN: Not with my strength!

TRAVIS: (jokingly) Natural 20.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: 16. Well, actually my strength is still thin because I still have a–

SAM: Oh! Negative two strength, right.

TALIESIN: So, 15.

MATT: 15, yeah okay. You smack her to get her attention in this circumstance. She stops for a second and gathers herself. Her breathing slows and she stares off into space for a moment.

TALIESIN: I need my sister back. Are you awake? Are you a terrible person? Do I want to strangle you right now?

MATT: “Probably.”

TALIESIN: Good. Then we can work with this. They were building something down here. The Briarwoods are no longer a problem. They were building something– what do you know about it? It maybe started, it seems to be affecting magic. I think.

MATT: “I don't know. They wouldn't let me near it.”

LAURA: Don't lie to us anymore!

MATT: “I'm not lying! Do I have a reason to lie right now?” And she looks over at you with an intensity to her gaze that catches you not as desperation, but as passionate self-loathing.

LIAM: You seem to really believe your words, but you know your word is worth fuck all right now. Fuck all.

MATT: “I know. I know.” She leans her head down on the side of this cavern wall and stares off into space. “All that I know about this is that they've been building it under the guidance of some other person or entity. They referred to him many times as the Whispered One. They're very secretive about it. The only reason I knew was because I overheard a few conversations and questioned them about it. To which there was punishment. But they mainly kept me to try and keep the people at bay. My job was to keep in contact with anyone who would attempt to rise against them, and inform them. I would prevent any surprises, although apparently (chuckles) and thankfully, I didn't do a very good job.” And she looks around the room at the rest of you.

SAM: Can I check my history memory banks to see if I know anything about the Whispered One or if that jogs any memory?

MATT: Roll a religion check, Mr. Bard.

SAM: Religion check? Well, that's not good. 20.

LAURA: What?! Natural 20?

SAM: No.

LAURA: Damn it! I had a really strong reaction to that.

SAM: Oh.

TRAVIS: Yes, the whispers!

MARISHA: He's whispering about the Whispered One!

SAM: He's gone! Where is he?

TRAVIS: This is the pre-show days!

LIAM: It's not new, it's just been a while.

TRAVIS: It's been a long time.

LAURA: Yeah, but he's on this side of the table.

TALIESIN: None of us have rolled this well in so long.

TRAVIS: We used to play– don't over-listen to it!

TALIESIN: (starts singing In the Hall of the Mountain King)

LIAM: He is licking the inside of Sam's ear.

LAURA: Look at his eyes!

LIAM: Matthew is the Whispered One.

LAURA: He is the Whispered One! This is normally the time when Sam would–

SAM: It was all tongue in my ear the whole time!

(laughter)

SAM: It was so dirty. The Whispered One! I have a memory! I don't know where I learned of this knowledge– I am very old– but I did, at some point in my travels, I remember reading about something. A lich king?

MATT: A lich entity, yeah.

SAM: Who wanted to be a god. And his name was Vecna, and they called him the Whispered One. That's all I remember, he tried to achieve great power, and I don't know if he was successful or not.

MARISHA: Oh boy.

LAURA: Cassandra, does any of that sound familiar?

MATT: Cassandra shakes her head and says, “Honestly, I didn't know anything beyond the name. I just knew they were very close with this individual.”

LAURA: When you betrayed us, you said you were serving a higher purpose. Did they plan to sacrifice you to him?

MATT: “I know there was a blood ritual involved. I did not know more than that. There was to be a gift of power should I give an element of my life to this ritual.” She shakes her head for a second. She blinks her eyes, and she says, “I don't feel like I was right in my head. I look back on so many decisions I've made, and all the people that I've–” The tears just start flowing again.

LIAM: Insight check. (rolls) I'll take that. 14.

MATT: 14. Best that you can read off her is there is a deep look of regret and sorrow in her face. And you do notice that, through most of this conversation, as much as she's been able to talk to all of you, she has been unable to make eye contact with Percy.

LIAM: I'm going to walk over and plop down in front of her and say, you've backed a losing team. And that's not surprising, you having been through what you've been through. That's all gone now. Sylas is gone, Delilah is on death's door. Whitestone needs to be tended to and protected. Do you know anything that can help us save your birthright here and now?

MATT: “I mean, you've already done half the job.” Her eyes look over at the unconscious Delilah in the hallway.

MARISHA: Cassandra, is there any reason why they'd want to sacrifice you in particular?

MATT: She thinks hard for a second, her eyes squinting. “I don't. They spoke very little– intentionally, I think– of what they wanted to do. To be honest, I think there was an element that even they didn't know quite what they were doing. I was a tool. I was to be used. I had my purposes. I did my best to fulfill them.”

TRAVIS: I've got a question. Do you care if I smash the shit out of Lady Briarwood's head now?

MATT: She glances over at her, and with a stern look on her face she goes, “Someone needs to avenge my family.” And for the first time she looks over and makes eye contact with you. You feel a pulse in your hand, like a heartbeat. (thoom) The gun itself seems warmer and warmer, and you guys all notice as a bit of smoke begins to billow out the sides of Percy's sleeves. You hear a familiar voice creep up in the back of your head. “Percival.”

TALIESIN: I walk up to Lady Briarwood.

MATT: “Here at your mercy.”

TALIESIN: I put my gun to Lady Briarwood's head.

SAM: Wait, Percy, you're going to shoot an unarmed woman?

TRAVIS: Hush!

SAM: Don't shoot an unarmed woman.

TRAVIS: Unarmed? She tried to kill us.

TALIESIN: You changed the deal. Take her name off the gun.

MATT: “The deal was never changed.”

TRAVIS: Who's he talking to?

MATT: “The deal was made.”

TALIESIN: I pull the gun away. Things have changed. We need to talk.

TRAVIS: All right?

SAM: Who's he talking to?

LIAM: I hold up my hand and shush the group with my hand.

MATT: “You made a great sacrifice for my gifts, Percival. Do not let it be in vain.”

TALIESIN: (sighs) Did I even want revenge before I talked to you? Did I? I don't remember anymore. What does she die for? What do I even need? I want my country. I want my sister! I've killed two of those who have wronged me and nothing is better. Nothing feels better, nothing is avenged. What is this worth to you? And I put the gun back at her head.

MATT: “Pull the trigger.”

TRAVIS: I take out my hammer…

TALIESIN: Pull it back, put it to her, put it back. “Maybe I will.”

MATT: You're placing the gun against your own head?

TALIESIN: And back to hers.

LAURA: Percival, don't!

MATT: “Percy, no!” “Percival, don't do this. We made a deal.”

TALIESIN: I put the gun to the side– no, I'm holding the gun on Briarwood. That deal was a soft deal. It was a dream. It was a vision.

MATT: “What are visions if not a window into the future? You understand so little, Percival. Do not make me regret sharing this with you.”

TALIESIN: I need more from you if you want anything from me. I don't trust you anymore. Besides. I put the gun to the hand of Lady Briarwood and pull the trigger. The gun's broken anyway. I drop it. I'm not satisfied. I want my money back.

MATT: (chuckles) The smoke still billows out from you at this point.

TALIESIN: It's actually also still around her, it occurs to me.

MATT: Go ahead and make a wisdom saving throw.

TALIESIN: Yep.

MARISHA: (mumbles) You have advantage.

TALIESIN: I have advantage! Thank you!

MATT: You do.

LIAM: I'm not doing anything, but I'm holding a dagger and just watching Percy, and aiming at Percy.

TALIESIN: Yay! 20.

MATT: 20. You feel that warm pulse that was in your hand earlier that was coming from the gun? It pulses like a heartbeat in the hand that was holding it, and for a second you feel like something grabbed your wrist and slapped it away towards your back, reaching for where Bad News is.

TALIESIN: Which does work.

MATT: And then you (grunts) rip control of your hand once again.

TALIESIN: Delilah. You are going to die tonight. Whether or not it is a merciful, quick death or a slow and agonizing one, controlled by something darker than I know, is entirely up to you. How do we stop that thing?!

MATT: Delilah, whose eyes are still rolling after all the shouting that's been going on as she comes into consciousness with a gag around her mouth and goes (breathes heavily, struggling) And her eyes dart around in fear. You can see that her makeup has run down her cheeks from her own lamenting over Sylas's loss and the confusion over the ritual. And the fear all of a sudden turns to seething, burning hatred as they dart around. And then (struggles again). She can't talk.

SAM: I will Mage Hand to remove the gag from her.

LAURA: Oh god! I pull an arrow and aim it right at her head.

MARISHA: Yeah, I prep my fire hands.

TALIESIN: I know the pain you're feeling right now. I know the rage. I know every moment of it, and I guarantee I can make it worse. I can make it so much worse. Fix this. And join your beloved.

MATT: As this is happening, the gag falls away from her mouth from the magic hand. She's glancing at you and the smoke is now billowing up stronger to the point where you can barely see Percy's torso. You can see his head now, and what little bit of a view you have, his eyes have gone completely dark. There is just pitch black, completely encasing the entirety of his visible eye. You can see his feet still dangling beneath the smoke, and his feet are digging and tensed into the ground.

TALIESIN: Delilah, don't make me hurt you.

MARISHA: I reach over and I grab Vex's hand. And I look at her and I say, what do we do?

TALIESIN: Grog, be ready to restrain me.

TRAVIS: I'm ready!

LAURA: Percival Frederickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III, you will fight this monster inside of you!

MATT: Delilah is looking at you right now and the anger and fury in her eyes clarified, she just looks up and, “You've already taken everything from me.”

TALIESIN: I really haven't. You still have your sanity and your life. I will take your life tonight, but I can leave you your sanity.

MATT: “Interesting. You seem to be struggling, Percy.”

TALIESIN: Okay, I'm going to be an asshole. Fine. Fine. Casting Minor Illusion.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: I'm changing my form into the screaming, writhing, slowly-melting visage of Lord Briarwood.

LAURA: Oh shit!

TALIESIN: And I'm just going to scream in holy high hell and pain.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Suck it, girl!

MATT: So Minor Illusion, as a limitation, it wouldn't be a full-body illusion, but you can take elements of your features.

TALIESIN: I'm in smoke. I'm just taking–

MATT: Yeah. Where once Percy's face existed, it twists into this shimmering apparition of Sylas Briarwood looking down at her as his face contorts into horrible, screaming pain. The head rises up and almost soundlessly, he screams out as the flesh begins to melt from the bone. As it does, Percy's voice rings out in this cacophonous roar that shakes the cavern around you.

TALIESIN: That pain you're feeling, I've felt for years. Don't think I've imagined every way to hurt you! I could spend years hurting you before you die, in ways you cannot imagine. Now, how do we stop it?

MATT: “I don't know. I don't even know if it worked. We've been preparing for this ritual for… five godforsaken years. All to repay a debt. And that's all. You forced us. It was too soon.”

TALIESIN: Why? Why was it too soon? What were you waiting for?

MATT: “We were waiting for a particular date. There is a time each year in which the barriers between realms grow and grow very weak. You recall Erevan's attempt generations ago to blur between the realm of ice and this one, which you call the Winter's Crest. Well, this is too early, and you saw our failure. He will not be happy, I imagine. And I still owe him for what he gave me. For what he gave us.”

LAURA: What did he give you?

MATT: At which point, her eyes well up with tears, and she looks over. “He gave me my Sylas back. And you took him from me again. So do what you must do. I know I've paid my penance, and I know that no matter what steps you take now, it will only drag you deeper into this dark hole you've drawn yourselves. And you will hear me laughing.”

TALIESIN: No, I really won't. Knock her out again.

TRAVIS: Oh. Fine! (punching sound)

MATT: Make a strength check.

TRAVIS: 19.

MATT: 19? (impact noise) You hear (clinking) across some of the lower rocks as two of her teeth go scattering out the side of her mouth.

TALIESIN: Collect them.

TRAVIS: They're not pointy, right?

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: Check her person for anything.

LAURA: Oh, I will gladly do that for you.

TRAVIS: Hold on a second. Are you sure you don't want to smoke this bitch?

LAURA: I check her person for anything valuable.

TALIESIN: I think we're just going to throw her into the acid pits. No, I don't feel…

LIAM: What's the plan here, Percy?

SAM: I pick up the Pepperbox off the floor to give it to him, and I try to sneak out a bullet.

TALIESIN: They're different bullets.

SAM: I don't know that!

MATT: Okay. Make a sleight of hand check.

SAM: Three!

TRAVIS: Shit!

SAM: Plus two! Plus two.

MATT: So five. (giggles)

TALIESIN: The three, in theory, is actually low enough to break it further.

MATT: Make a perception check.

MARISHA: Plus two, it's five.

TALIESIN: Fine.

LIAM: Natural one.

TALIESIN: Nope. That's a 16.

MATT: So you watch as Scanlan looks around, grabs it. Picks it up and (clink) the full barrel comes off of the gun.

SAM: I back away from it.

LAURA: You guys, he's got smoke billowing out of him right now.

SAM: Kick it off away to the corner.

TALIESIN: Scanlan. Give me the other gun.

SAM: Oh, it's on the floor right there.

TALIESIN: The other gun.

SAM: You were talking to something out there. What was it? I was very scared. I'm a little man!

TRAVIS: Just change the subject.

SAM: Who were you talking to?

TALIESIN: I need another gun.

SAM: Are you going to kill me with it?

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Maybe?

LIAM: I walk between them and say, Percy, what are we doing here? That woman deserves everything that is brought upon her, but what are we doing for Whitestone? What are we doing?

MARISHA: More importantly, what was that just now?! Who were you talking to?

TALIESIN: I don't know.

MARISHA: What?!

TALIESIN: Things have gotten a bit weird.

MARISHA: Percy, you cannot honestly tell us you don't know anymore! We just watched you have a full-fledged conversation with yourself!

TALIESIN: Did they not hear any of the voice?

LIAM: Yeah, was he talking out loud?

TALIESIN: Oh shit, I came off like a crazy person just then!

TRAVIS: You did! Yes, you did.

SAM: Here's what I know.

TRAVIS: We were trying to answer you for a little bit.

SAM: Here's what I know. Vecna is possibly, maybe on the loose, maybe coming back. We know that this ritual has been started, and we don't know whether killing her is going to end it or not. So I propose that we start leaving right away.

LAURA: Pike, do you know anything about Vecna?

MARISHA: Anything further?

MATT: Pike, you go ahead and make a religion check.

SAM: Matt, fly to New York to whisper in her ear.

(laughter)

MATT: It's tempting.

MARISHA: Yeah, just text her!

LIAM: 47!

ASHLEY: 17.

MATT: 17, okay. Not a whole lot more information than what Scanlan was able to ascertain from this. You just know that this entity known as Vecna, once a very powerful arch-lich, had once attempted to ascend to godhood, and was supposedly halted in the process, a battle that occurred on another plane, amongst heroes that only a few came back from, but apparently stopped a very terrible thing. But that was hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

MARISHA: I wonder what Erevan has to do with this.

LAURA: And he created a vampire? He made Sylas a vampire?

MATT: You do know that– sorry.

MARISHA: Go ahead.

MATT: You do know, and Pike relays this too. In particular, Vecna is known as, for lack of a better term, the patron saint– or lesser god to those who worship– as the deity of secrets. Dark secrets, things that wish to be kept out of the knowledge of most of the world at large. And these secrets are coveted.

ASHLEY: Jeez.

TALIESIN: Things are complex, and I don't trust myself to take her life. I'm in over my head.

LAURA: Do you need someone else to do it for you?

TALIESIN: I don't know if that will help.

TRAVIS: She almost killed Vex, she didn't kill Vax, we've got to do fucking something with her.

TALIESIN: This thing wants her dead, and the only thing I can think to do is to say no.

LIAM: This thing? What thing?

TALIESIN: This thing in my head–

LAURA: Your thing?!

LIAM: What thing is that, Percival?

TALIESIN: I don't know!

LIAM: Well, start fucking talking, Percival, because we've all watched you talk to yourself for five straight minutes, and we're not going to deal with it for much longer!

MARISHA: Sorry, Percy. I'm with Vax, here.

TALIESIN: I had a dream, and that was all.

MARISHA: You mentioned just now that you wanted your money back. Was this a dream? Did you pay somebody? And with what?

TALIESIN: It was a dream where I was offered a means to revenge. It was a dream!

MARISHA: Well, clearly it wasn't!

TALIESIN: Well, I know that now.

LIAM: Percival.

TALIESIN: This is as new to me as anyone.

LIAM: It feels like you are lying to us.

MARISHA: Can I do an insight check on him?

TALIESIN: Please.

LAURA: (laughs) “Let me know if I'm lying, because–”

MARISHA: Fucking fuck!

TALIESIN: Why do you all keep rolling so poorly against me?

MARISHA: 16.

MATT: Taliesin, tell me what your persuasion and deception skills are.

TALIESIN: Persuasion six, deception two.

LAURA: 23! Ooh! Two in one!

TRAVIS: You got a whisper?!

MATT: Inter-party insight.

MARISHA: We have to title this “Whispers!”

TRAVIS: Whispers!

TALIESIN: I think we've already had an episode called “Whispers.”

SAM: Well, this one's called “Secrets and Lies!”

LIAM: This one's called “Whisper-Sync.”

TALIESIN: “Ear-tonguing.”

SAM: This one's called just (whisper noises).

TRAVIS: For the record, I like the shadow stuff.

MARISHA: (squeals) I get one, too!

SAM: He whispers to you all the time.

(laughter)

LAURA: It looks like there was more tongue with you, though, Sam.

MATT: Way to point that out.

TRAVIS: Didn't get sufficient tongue in yours?

TALIESIN: You don't seem very satisfied.

SAM: Remember, these shirts are available online at geekandsundry.com!

LAURA: I knew you were going to do that. I almost did it when he was whispering in your ear, just for your sake!

MATT: I would also like you to make another wisdom saving throw.

SAM: Oh shit.

TALIESIN: Natural 20!

TRAVIS: (yelling) Shut the fuck up!

TALIESIN: Breaking the game!

TRAVIS: What the– what?!

MATT: At this point, you feel your hands tense up, and once again begin to reach towards your back. You close your eyes and with all your will and might, you just scream “No!” Instinctively, it wasn't even a conscious thought, it was just an animalistic response to feeling your physical form being taken over, and in that moment, every muscle in your body tenses. And you guys watch the smoke momentarily drift from his form behind him.

LAURA: Behind him?

TRAVIS: Off of him.

SAM: You don't need to yell at us, Percy. We're just trying to help you.

TRAVIS: The smoke dissipates or goes behind him?

SAM: I don't think he's rational.

MATT: Behind him.

LIAM: I'm aiming at the smoke and just watching and waiting.

MATT: At this point, you can see this smoke that was once billowing from Percy is now standing in this outer human-like shape.

SAM: Unbeam-say!

MARISHA: Cashed out-say.

MATT: As it stands there for a moment, it begins to swell and grow larger, filling almost the height of the ten-foot tunnel that you guys are standing in, looming over Percy's body, still connected through his shadow through the floor of the tunnel itself. It just looms over and as it peeks forward, you guys for the first time hear the voice that's been poking through him this entire time just say, “Percival. Do it.”

LAURA: I shoot a holy arrow at it.

MATT: Then let's roll some initiative.

(yelling)

MARISHA: We're fighting the thing that's been in your head!

TALIESIN: Therapy!

MARISHA: There's so many allegories!

TALIESIN: Therapy!

MARISHA: We're fighting the demons in your head.

MATT: (laughs) That's pretty great, actually.

TALIESIN: My therapist would be so proud right now.

LAURA: Oh man, we're out of like everything, aren't we?

LIAM: Yes.

TRAVIS: Oh, we're great, we're fine, we're good.

SAM: We got a guy with a hammer. We're fine.

LAURA: Oh jeez, okay. Well, I've still got two 3rd-level spells.

TALIESIN: I need stats on Lord Briarwood's sword.

MATT: You haven't taken a short rest.

SAM: You know what we have? We have fucking Pike.

LAURA: We have Pike!

TRAVIS: Yeah, we do! We've got Pike!

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'm pretty low on spells, guys, but we're going to be okay.

TALIESIN: I have been dreading this for years.

LIAM: What? What have you been dreading?

TALIESIN: This moment right now.

LAURA: Oh my god, this has been in him for three years, four years.

MARISHA: Forever! Since the beginning.

TALIESIN: Since you've met me.

TRAVIS: I've been standing in front of Lady Briarwood.

MATT: Yeah. So right there with her.

TALIESIN: I'm either going to be a new Percy or a new person entirely.

LAURA: No, don't say that.

TALIESIN: I'm so sorry. It's so fun to torture you.

SAM: As everyone's drawing their weapons, I shout, maybe we should check and make sure it won't kill him if we kill it.

LAURA: It's too late. I shot an arrow at it!

MATT: It's too late. Who's standing where? I'm going to say Pike's probably–

TALIESIN: You have a little cavern for this!

LIAM: Where's Percy?

MATT: Percy is currently right here. Well, more in the center there talking to everybody.

TALIESIN: Do you have a mini for the dark specter of my soul? I love you! I love you so much!

MATT: With Cassandra on the ground there.

LIAM: I'm next to Vex.

MATT: Right, so you guys would be probably back here. Your daggers ready. Trinket is probably over by you, of course.

LAURA: Yeah, of course he is.

MATT: And Keyleth? I'd say you're probably on this side, talking to Percy.

LAURA: Oh wait, but we were holding hands at one point, so we would be close.

TALIESIN: And Grog was covering me, so Grog would've been closer to me, because I had him–

TRAVIS: Yeah, I was in front of Lady Briarwood, though.

MATT: I have you right here between him and Lady Briarwood. Right there.

LAURA: That seems good, we're good.

LIAM: Do I have a clear shot, not that I'm going to do it, but I was aiming at Percy, so I would have a clear line of sight. Is there nothing between us?

MATT: You would have a clear line of sight. The two gnomes are between you, so you're fine.

TALIESIN: I am so happy right now.

LAURA: How did my holy arrow do?

MATT: We're going to find out in just a second. So, first and foremost, initiative order. We have 25 to 20?

LAURA: 25.

MATT: Wow, okay, so we have Vex.

SAM: 20.

MATT: Two 20s. 19 to 15?

LIAM: 19.

MATT: 19.

MARISHA: 16.

MATT: 16, okay.

MARISHA: I didn't suck it up this game.

MATT: 15 to ten?

TRAVIS: 17.

MATT: 17. Oh, 17, all right.

TRAVIS: Oh, sorry, did I miss that section?

MATT: You did. That's okay. Pike, what did you get?

ASHLEY: Eight!

MATT: Eight! Yeah! All right. First and foremost, Vex, you're up with the initiative on this. You go ahead and you bring your holy arrow and you release it.

LAURA: Is it a surprise attack?

MATT: Technically, no, it knew you were there, it was very aware of everyone's position. And was essentially after being forced out of his body at the moment preparing itself for some sort of assault, so not a surprise round, unfortunately. So go ahead and make your attacks with your arrows, if you'd like.

LAURA: Yes! 28 and 27.

MATT: Both of those hit.

LAURA: Awesome. Okay. These two… balls. So 15, 16, 17, plus holy damage?

MATT: I'll consider that, do 1d4 radiant damage to it. In addition to that, so 17 plus–

LAURA: 17 plus four is 21.

MATT: 21 for the first one.

LAURA: And then ten for the second.

MATT: All right. So–

LAURA: And then I Hunter's Mark him.

MATT: All righty.

LAURA: I didn't say I Hunter's Marked him at the beginning– I'm explaining this to you guys, because I'd already said I shot at him.

MATT: You did.

LAURA: So I was being honest. I'm looking at the chat room, because I know they're going to tell me I forgot my damn Hunter's Mark.

MATT: That's okay. All right. You pull back and release the first arrow. As it goes and hits, you can see the smoke itself is obscuring its place and keeping it hard to hit, but you still strike true, the arrow striking into its form. And there's a flash of radiant energy as it hits, and you see the creature takes from the impact and stares down at its chest. As it looks up, its face turning towards you, and it is this formless humanoid body, but the face itself does pinch into this elongated crow skull–

LAURA: Ooh, I didn't do holy damage for the second one!

SAM: Did the arrows hit?

LAURA: Yeah. Plus two more for the holy damage.

SAM: They impacted?

MATT: They impacted.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: All right. Takes both the hits and looks over at you, and you can see as it turns the head, you can see better, even in this low light, the shape of its face, and its eyes burst into this angry burning purplish energy expression and it looks very unhappy with the current circumstance. Do you want to move you or Trinket?

LAURA: Trinket moves around and in front of me to protect me.

MATT: Okay. There you go. That's it, you're just going to keep there?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: All right. That ends your turn. Scanlan, you're up next.

SAM: How tall is the tunnel?

MATT: It's about 12 feet.

SAM: Okay. No? Okay. Precious little I can do. I will Lightning Bolt it. Ooh, I'm right next to it.

MATT: You are, which means you could blast towards the wall and hit it.

SAM: All right. I will turn around and I will, I will Lightning Bolt it, yes.

MATT: Okay. All right. So you, it's right there in front of you as the smoke rises up, and you see the arrows strike it, there's the flash of holy energy from Vex's attack, and that moment, as it's distracted, you use that to conjure a lightning bolt and (lightning sound). For a moment, the flashing of light lights up the cavern around. The bolt passes through it harmlessly.

MARISHA: What? What did you, what was that?

SAM: Lightning.

LAURA: Either or magic. One of the two didn't affect it.

MATT: The lightning bolt passes through it and it strikes the back of the wall and you can see the electrical energy discharge across the stone and earth, arcing and spidering off until it dissipates, seeming to not have any sort of impact or effect on the billowing smoke entity.

SAM: Shit.

MATT: You want to stay there or you want to move? You are in its melee range. You are in its melee range, so if you move it will get an attack of opportunity if it chooses to take it.

SAM: (stammers) I will not move and instead I will inspire Percy.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: And I'll say, you feel good in this motherfucker! Your whole hood in this motherfucker! (laughs) That's it.

(laughter)

MATT: All right, take your d10. This moment of intensity, as you turn around now at this point, seeing everyone striking, you've looked your head over and you can see for the first time in full physical form, the creature that has haunted your dreams for the past five years. While it is not present, you can feel it smile. It's your turn.

TALIESIN: I'm going to run over to my sister.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: And cut open her bonds.

MATT: Okay, so you pull out the– okay.

TALIESIN: Take out my sword and cut open her bonds. Get back! Run! And then, if I still have enough timing beyond that, I'd love to take a swipe at it with my sword.

MATT: Unfortunately, it's going to, to free her entirely of her bonds and give her that, it's going to be your action.

TALIESIN: Okay. We haven't had a short rest, have we?

MATT, LAURA, and MARISHA: No.

MATT: I know.

MARISHA: We're not looking good.

MATT: All right. It is now Vax's turn.

LIAM: Oh? Good. So I've got advantage because the smoke demon hasn't gone yet, so dagger and a dagger. First one is, that's 29, and the second one is a 24, so 29 and 24.

MATT: What's giving you advantage on this? Because he hasn't gone first in the first round? That is correct, yes. All right. So both of those hit.

LIAM: The first one is eight and the second one is eight.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Keen dagger, life-stealing.

MATT: Right. Do you want to sneak attack with this? Because in theory, it's in melee range with an ally.

LIAM: Oh, with Percy.

MATT: With Percy and with Scanlan.

LIAM: Thanks, boss! Yeah.

MATT: Don't rob yourself of what you do.

TALIESIN: Matt's understanding that we are all screwed.

LIAM: Seven, eight, nine. It's hard to see over there. 15 points of sneak attack damage. Yeah, I'm not used to the screen.

MATT: We're working out the bugs. It's a process. We're working on it. All right, cool. 15 points of sneak attack damage. So as you throw the two daggers, plunging them both, both of them, their little aura of magical energy flashing as they both impact the smoke form, seeming to sink slowly as they hit and then finding the edge of their blades sunken into its torso. As it rears back.

LIAM: Eight and eight and 15.

MATT: Correct, all right.

MARISHA: So the daggers did it.

MATT: Cool. That, are you going to stay where you are, Vax?

LIAM: Yeah, I am.

MATT: All right. Now it is the entity's turn. As it rears and the daggers both vanish from its torso, returning to your belt side, it is glaring down at you to its side, and it says, “Percival. "Don't make Orthax regret working with you.”

SAM: Orthax?

MARISHA and TALIESIN: Orthax.

SAM: I hired them to get rid of some termites in my house, once.

TALIESIN: Well that was really your mistake, then.

MATT: Shifting this way twice. Percy, you will get an attack of opportunity with your rapier if you'd like.

TALIESIN: I'll take it.

MATT: All right.

TRAVIS: You're using Briarwood's rapier?

TALIESIN: No, I haven't. No short rest.

TRAVIS: Right.

TALIESIN: 25.

MATT: 25 hits. Go ahead and roll damage.

TALIESIN: Nine points.

MATT: Nine points of damage. All right. Good to know.

TALIESIN: All right. Yeah.

MATT: Now, on the rest of its turn. As it shifts up, it doesn't walk or move, its form drifts along and the shadows meet it there, the smoke almost appears at the spot where it intends to go and then it meets it in that moment. As it does, it now stands between a bunch of you. Its eyes flare with dark purple, and you just hear this scream, this screeching (scream) echo out from it, and as it does, all of you hold your ears for a second. I need everyone to make a wisdom saving throw. You have advantage.

LAURA: We have advantage?

TALIESIN: 21.

MARISHA: With the ten, 23.

SAM: Natural 20. On the first roll.

LIAM: 16.

LAURA: 22.

TRAVIS: 16.

LAURA: 18 for Pike.

MATT: Okay. So. All of you guys hold your ears for a second, and everyone that rolled higher than a 17 takes six points of psychic damage.

MARISHA: Psychic damage?

MATT: Correct. You guys both take 13 points of psychic damage.

TALIESIN: 13 because he's evil.

MATT: Both of you feel all of a sudden like your brain fill with this urge to strike something, this overwhelming need to slash out at whatever's near you. Both of you get a brief move. Grog, that's going to pull you this way, and Vax, it's going to pull you this way.

LIAM: Right at each other.

MATT: I need both of you guys to roll an attack roll. As you rush up with your hammer, flames, and you swing it down towards Scanlan.

LAURA: Scanlan!

TRAVIS: Don't dap me for hitting Scanlan!

SAM: I'm going to use Cutting Words to try to dodge out of the way.

MATT: Okay, roll the attack.

TRAVIS: Oh shit. 19?

MATT: Okay, so 19.

SAM: I'm going to say, you gonna fail that attack, so you better sit your ass on back, because I ain't no hollaback gnome, I ain't no hollaback gnome.

MATT: All right, roll a d10.

SAM: d10. Three? So that, what does that do?

MATT: All right, so Cutting Words, if I recall–

SAM: It lowers his attack by three.

MATT: Right, so that brings it from 19 to 16. What's your armor class?

SAM: It's 17.

MATT: With that, the bard's words ring true to your mind, and for a second, you feel this new, this not Grog-based rage, this outside forceful rage that it confuses you, and as he says that, you're right! He is no hollaback gnome.

(laughter)

MATT: And you resist with the hammer, giving him just enough time to step out of the way, and it slams into the ground harmlessly, cracking the stone at the base.

TRAVIS: “You know what? You're right! He is no hollaback gnome.”

MATT: Vax, I'd like you to go ahead and make a dagger strike against Pike.

LIAM: I rolled a 13.

MATT: Rolled a 13. Pike, you look over your shoulder as all of a sudden Vax appears behind you and slams forward with the dagger. You whip around with your shield and, with a large striking arc of sparks deflect the blade blow across the dark air of this interior tunnel, harmlessly. You take no damage.

LAURA: Badass Pike!

TALIESIN: She also ain't no hollaback gnome.

MARISHA: Ain't no hollaback gnome.

TALIESIN: Ain't no hollaback gnome.

ASHLEY: Ain't no hollaback gnome!

MATT: And with that, you know what? It's going to go ahead and do this. The entity then moves backwards. Pike and Scanlan– oh, you already used your reaction to do Cutting Words, so you don't get that. Pike, go ahead and make a melee attack.

SAM: Damn it. That's a reaction?

ASHLEY: What do I roll for that, again?

MATT: One reaction per round.

LAURA: Your d20.

MATT: Just roll a d20, roll for your normal mace attack.

ASHLEY: 17?

MATT: 17, unfortunately, does not hit. It seems like it should've, but the smoke is obscuring the vision around it, and where you swing, you do not manage to get quite close enough to hit its body. As it steps backward into the wall and out of visual range.

MARISHA: What!

LAURA: What?

SAM: Into the wall?

MATT: Into the wall. It just vanishes into the side of the tunnel. That brings us to Grog.

LIAM: The cloud went in the wall?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: I would like to rage.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: And move in front of the rest of the group. I put my back to the rest of the group.

MATT: Okay, so like right there?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: What the fuck, Grog, you just tried to kill me!

TRAVIS: I did?

SAM: Yes!

TRAVIS: I don't remember that.

SAM: Are you okay?

TRAVIS: Yeah!

MATT: If you want to, you can hold. You can use your action to ready an attack so whenever a trigger of your choosing happens, you can then make your attack.

TRAVIS: I would like to do that.

MATT: Okay. What trigger would you like?

TRAVIS: When he reappears.

MATT: Okay, and comes within melee range?

TRAVIS: Yeah, when I can see him with my beautiful eyes.

MATT: Okay, so you're holding your action there. Good to know. Keyleth, you're up.

MARISHA: Okay. Not trusting this guy, I'm going to go ahead and cast Faerie Fire. It's a 20-foot radius. Just right in this bubble that we've been hanging out in.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Because I'm assuming he's going to be up in our faces.

MATT: All righty. Faerie Fire. Where do you want it? Just in this vicinity?

MARISHA: Yeah, just right, right around us.

MATT: Okay, so, 20-foot radius so we'll say probably in the back here and forward this way, so this area between these. So as Keyleth, you put your arms up and this burst of glowing luminescent pinkish-purple energy begins to sparkle through the air like glitter suspended in low gravity, and it drifts through the air in the entire vicinity, you can see it clinging to you guys a little bit. All right. Are you going to move or you going to stay where you are?

MARISHA: I'll step back a bit.

MATT: Step out of the Faerie Fire or into it?

MARISHA: Step out of it.

MATT: Okay. Am I?

MARISHA: That's good.

MATT: Just ten feet? Okay. Ending your turn, Keyleth. Pike, you're up.

ASHLEY: Okay. Is Guiding Bolt considered the same thing that Lightning Bolt would be?

MATT: No, as far as you know–

LIAM: Radiant damage.

MATT: Yeah, it's radiant damage and, let me pull up the–

TRAVIS: We can't see him right now, though.

MATT: Yeah, you have no visual on him. The smoke entity has moved into the wall and is nowhere in your visible range right now, so you have nothing that you can attack in theory that you know of.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: If you have any buff spells, anything you want to do in preparation for it, or hold your action as well until it reappears, you can do that.

ASHLEY: Okay, I'll hold my action.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: Are you staying put? Are you moving at all, or do you want to stay where you are?

ASHLEY: I think I'll stay. I can't see where I'm at, but I think I'll just stay.

MATT: Okay. Cool.

SAM: I'm going to just call out to everybody, the thing seems to want Percy. Should we surround him?

LIAM: Yes.

MATT: So you shout that out at the end of that? Cassandra, now, who has been unbound, gets up. Her weapons were taken from her when you bound her, so she stands up and puts herself to the wall and looks at you with a–

TALIESIN: I hand her my sword.

MATT: Okay. She takes the rapier and looks at it and goes running away, back towards where Castle Whitestone is.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

TRAVIS: She runs?

ASHLEY: Can I do something?

MATT: If you want to, instead of holding your action, cast something, you can do that.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'm going to go up to Percy and cast Protection from Evil on him.

TALIESIN: Whoa!

ASHLEY: Which…

MATT: What are you going to choose? You get to choose a certain type of creature which he's protected against.

TALIESIN: Do we know anything about Orthax?

MATT: You have no idea. You saw it briefly. I'm going to have you roll a religion check. Being a religiously trained individual, let's see if you can ascertain the nature of this creature, this entity.

ASHLEY: 22.

MATT: 22? Okay. In the brief moment you got to see it, the way it moves, the way it completely cast aside Scanlan's attack, and the way that it housed itself within Percy for so long. There are elements of it that make you think of a shadow demon. But usually, they're not this large. They're not this powerful. Either this is just a powerful entity of a similar type, or it's been feeding over time, or it's something beyond that, but you get the sense that this thing is demonic in nature, based on the brief appearance you had with it.

ASHLEY: Okay, I'd like to protect him from shadow demons.

MATT: Okay, so that would be fiends. So you choose fiends? Great. So any attack rolls against you from fiend creatures have disadvantage.

LAURA: He's a demon?

MATT: She's thinking he might be, based on her roll.

LAURA: I have favored enemy as demons.

MATT: Then, knowing that going forward, that may change your next round of combat. Good to know! So you are currently are protected from fiends.

TALIESIN: If only that were true in real life.

MATT: Vex, you're up first.

LAURA: Oh. So demons are my favored enemy, so I have advantage against recalling information about hem. Can I recall anything about something that looks like this?

MARISHA: Orthax?

MATT: Make an intelligence check. Just roll a d20 and add your intelligence. And you have advantage on it because he's your favored.

LAURA: I'm not that smart. 12.

MATT: 12? Okay. You know that these creatures are incorporeal. They can generally shift in and out of solid matter as a way of moving and defending itself. You know that they're difficult to fight in the dark. You also know that they, because of their form, are generally resistant to a lot of types of elemental-type damage. And lighting and cold: no effect whatsoever.

LAURA: Got it.

MATT: As well as poison.

LAURA: Good to know.

MATT: That's as much as you can ascertain with that roll.

LAURA: Okay. All right, then I'm going to cast– where is he? (shouting) He's in the fucking wall!

SAM: Just hit the whole wall.

LAURA: Hunter's Mark. Can I sense anything about where he is?

MATT: Yeah, you can actually sense him. He's maybe ten feet inside the wall.

LAURA: So he's hiding?

MATT: He's currently hiding in the wall, yeah.

LAURA: All right, then for my bonus action, I'm going to hide, as well.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and roll a stealth check.

LIAM: Advantage.

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Really?!

LIAM: I didn't roll it. The cape had nothing to do with your rolls.

MATT: What?

LIAM: Three and a three.

LAURA: Well, hold on, let me add my stealth to it.

SAM: That's a 33.

LAURA: That's a 12.

MATT: Okay, good to know. So you (wind noise) flatten yourself against the wall, best of your ability.

LAURA: I do pretty much nothing. And I'm going to hold my turn until he appears.

MATT: Okay, so you're going to hold your action until he appears.

MARISHA: How dark is it in here?

MATT: Other than the torches you guys have been carrying through here?

SAM: And the glowing off of our bodies.

MATT: Yes.

LAURA: Oh, right. I'm glowing. No wonder I rolled so poorly.

MATT: Glowing from the Faerie Fire. But it's a gentle glow, so it's very low light in this area.

TALIESIN: Like inside of Groot gentle glow.

MARISHA: It's like we have body glitter on.

LAURA: It's beautiful.

MATT: Yeah. It's like a nice basement bar. A good dive.

SAM: Get this shit off me!

MATT: (laughs) Ending your turn. Scanlan, you're up.

SAM: I say to Keyleth, get this shit off me. I don't want it to see me. Please. And then I will walk to the other side of Percy. We don't see the thing, right?

MATT: No.

MARISHA: You can just move out of the Faerie Fire. It's only a 20-foot radius.

SAM: No, but isn't it on me now?

MARISHA: No, it's a radius. If you move out of it, you're not in it.

SAM: I walk out of it.

MATT: All right. You step out of the area and it all drifts off your body, and you're no longer affected by the spell.

SAM: We don't see the thing, right? Yeah. There's not much we can do without seeing our enemy, right?

MATT: Not currently, no.

SAM: I'll just hold my turn? Is that a thing? Can I do that?

MATT: Yeah, you can do that.

SAM: I can say to Grog, Grog? You're sure you want to– are you okay? You're good?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

SAM: All right.

MATT: All right. Ends your turn. Percy, you're up.

TALIESIN: I'm going to back out of the Faerie Fire.

MATT: You're just stepping out of it there. You can keep going if you want.

TALIESIN: I'm going to go a little further back behind Scanlan. And I'm going to pull out Bad News and hold my turn.

MATT: Okay. Ending your turn. Vax, you're up.

LIAM: Yeah, I'm going to practice an old trick that my sister and I have done, where I hide behind Trinket's gigantic bear ass and hold my turn and aim at the spot that my sister is aiming at.

MATT: All right, good to know.

TALIESIN: Ditto.

MATT: All right. At that moment, as you vanish to the side, the entity pops out from this side–

LAURA: Right behind him?

MATT: Right behind you as you're preparing. And all of a sudden (whoosh) smoke billows out. You turn out of the corner of your head. At that point, everyone who was holding your action, you're doing your attacks simultaneously.

LAURA: Whoa.

MARISHA: And he's in that Faerie Fire, right?

MATT: He is, currently, yeah.

MARISHA: So you get advantage, yo.

MATT: He didn't see it being cast. He withdrew before it happened, so he steps right into it.

TALIESIN: All right, starting with Bad News with a sharpshooter.

LAURA: We get advantage on attacking him?

MATT: Yeah, all of your attacks on him currently have advantage.

TALIESIN: Thank god, because I rolled a one. 14?

MATT: 14 unfortunately misses. You fire and (ricochet noise) it seems that, in a strange way, the gentle pink dust is actually obscuring your vision with the dark shadow in that vicinity and it blasts a piece of rock off the side of the wall.

TALIESIN: Firing again.

MATT: So fire, reload.

TALIESIN: Better! 26.

MATT: 26 does hit. Go ahead and roll damage.

TALIESIN: That's… That's pizza! I'm looking for my dice. I didn't think this through. 25 points of damage.

MATT: All right, good to know. This is piercing, right?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: All right. The blast hits, but it appears that the expected impact from the blast of Bad News– a bit of smoke dissipates its impact and it seems to not be as damaging as you expected it to be. All right, that brings us to the next person who was holding their action. I believe Scanlan, you were? What do you want to do?

SAM: There's precious little I can do, so I will viciously mock it.

(laughter)

MATT: Good.

SAM: Through the Hand Cone, I will say, don't you know smoking is the number one cause of cancer and emphysema and will shorten your life by an estimated ten to 20 years? It's not cool, and you shouldn't do it.

TALIESIN: Is that all true?

SAM: I'm BS-ing!

TALIESIN: Oh, okay.

MATT: Okay. It does not make its saving throw; it rolled a four, so it takes 3d4 psychic damage. Go ahead and roll that. And it has disadvantage on its next attack roll.

LIAM: That fiend has low self-esteem.

SAM: Five points.

MATT: Five points of damage, boom.

SAM: And it has disadvantage on what?

MATT: On its next attack roll. Its eyes go darker purple for a second, like it can't contemplate the fact that it just got insulted mid-battle, and then they flare up again, even more furious. As part of that, it's going to use its reaction.

SAM: Oh shit. Okay.

MATT: It turns towards you and in– what languages do you speak?

SAM: Gnome, Common. That's it.

(laughter)

MATT: You hear a muttering through your ears. (mutters in foreign language) And for a second, you feel your field of vision close down like it's focused entirely on you. You're currently marked by its Mark of Vengeance.

SAM: Marked?

MATT: Yeah. So, essentially, there's an effect that's intent on you at the moment.

SAM: Is it a charm effect?

MATT: Nope.

SAM: Damn it.

MATT: All right, that ends your held actions.

SAM: Is it a fear effect?

MATT: No.

SAM: Damn it!

MATT: You're up.

LIAM: Yeah, I just saw him mutter in Scanlan's ear as I take both of my blades and I'm just going to slash both of them across and he's surrounded, so this is a sneak attack, as well.

MATT: Yes.

LIAM: With advantage. The first one…

LIAM and LAURA: (groan)

LIAM: Is 16. Oh no! And the second one is a 27.

MATT: Second one hits.

LIAM: All right.

MATT: You go to strike the first time, and as you swing outward, you catch smoke and it dissipates around the blade and you stab into the side of the wall.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Second attack (impact noise).

LIAM: Here comes that sneak attack damage. That's four plus six is ten plus… sneak attack, motherfucker! Ten, 16, 21, 22, 26, 28, 29 total.

LAURA: That was 38.

LIAM: Huh?

LAURA: Just kidding.

LIAM and LAURA: 29 total.

LAURA: (singing) My math is awesome!

MATT: Okay. This blade, however: as you stab into this cloud of smoke, you feel there is more physical presence to where it was and it sinks in and you feel this reverberation as it reacts to the pain. This dull (hoarse growl) growl sound.

LIAM: I shout, hands off the gnome! as I do it.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: On my roll, do I still get a bonus?

MATT: You used it last turn. That was his reaction to you holding your action.

SAM: No, but do I get my bonus action as part of my move, or no?

MATT: That would have had to be during your turn. When you hold your action, you just get the action when it triggers.

SAM: Got it.

MATT: All right, so that ends Vax. Do you want to do anything else?

LIAM: No. Oh, I'm right up against it? I'm going to use disengage and back up further back by my sister. Is that Vex and Keyleth?

MATT: Right there, yeah.

LIAM: I'm going to move between my two favorite ladies.

MATT: All right, there you go. Good to know. And you were holding your action?

LAURA: Yes.

MATT: And you were holding your action.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: So everyone make your attacks.

LAURA: Yes. Here's my question.

MATT: Yes?

LAURA: Because I want to be honest and I don't remember if I said I dipped arrows in the second holy oil flask or if I put them on Trinket's claws. Do we remember?

MATT: You did all arrows.

LAURA: That's fine. Then I'm going to shoot two more holy arrows at him. Okay, well, I'll roll for that.

MARISHA: With advantage!

LAURA: With advantage, which is good. I'm going to switch things. New ones. (gasps) What just happened?

LIAM: Well, one of those was a 14, so that hit. There's 14 and eight. 14 plus your attack. The second roll, she got a one and a two, so.

LAURA: Seriously?! So one was a 25. And then 17.

MATT: 17 misses, unfortunately.

LAURA: I mean 19. 19 and a 25.

MATT: What's the 19 from?

LAURA: Was the first roll. And the second–

MATT: Right, so you rolled a one and a two?

LIAM: No, that was the second roll. The first was an eight and a 14, plus her modifiers.

LAURA: Oh. See, I was rolling– I understand. I was rolling it in my head differently, but we'll count it as that. I was counting it as that was my first attempts at my first two attacks and my second attempts at my first two attacks.

MATT: Yeah, it doesn't work that way.

LAURA: Yeah, okay, that's fine. So, 25.

MATT: Okay, so one of them hit. All right, so you go ahead and roll damage on that.

LAURA: I won't roll like that anymore. Where am I? That's radiant damage and that's that. Here we go. All right.

LIAM: Oh jeez, we've got a smoke demon, don'tcha know?

LAURA: 17 plus five is–

LIAM: 24.

LAURA: 24 points.

MATT: 24 points of damage. So one of them flies forward and misses–

LAURA: 22.

MATT: Yeah. Nearly grazes the top of your head, just vanishing. You don't notice because you're currently (growls) right in his face. Second one manages to strike it and splinter inside of its torso, and you can see a flash of energy from the impact and it (squawking groan, growl) surveys the area around it. The smoke around it gets even more intense, and you can see it flaring up.

LAURA: I'm still against the wall, glowing.

MATT: Yeah, so the smoke gets even thicker and obscures it even further.

LAURA: We should probably light up this area as much as possible, FYI.

MATT: And Grog?

TRAVIS: I'm going to light it up with my flaming war hammer. I turn and I swing at it.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: So metal.

TRAVIS: Hey, that's good. 28?

MATT: 28 hits. Second attack.

TRAVIS: 26.

MATT: 26 hits.

TRAVIS: Nice. Oh, is it still covered in the holy oil?

MATT: Yes, so an extra 1d4 radiant damage on each strike.

TRAVIS: 21 for the first one.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: With the radiant, fiery damage.

MATT: Burning, holy wrath.

TRAVIS: Fuck yes! 19, 20, 21. 22!

MATT: 22. All righty. (impact sounds) Both hammer blows strike it, battering the smoke around, and you can see as this hammer swings through its body, the smoke almost swallows the light and for a second, it's almost like this dull orb of darkness beneath the surface of a deep lake. And then as the hammer emerges from its body, the light flares up again. It's almost like it's swallowing the light as you strike it. But it seems to be taking the impacts pretty hard. All right, that ends your turn. Now, Orthax can take his turn.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: All right, so let's see.

ASHLEY: Wait, do I get my–

MATT: That's right, you were holding, too. Yeah, you can do it, too. Thank you for reminding me.

LAURA: Yay, Pike!

ASHLEY: Okay, I'm going to Guiding Bolt it.

MATT: All right, go for it.

LIAM: Your punishment will be more severe.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: All right, so 4d6–

MATT: What level of Guiding Bolt are you doing?

ASHLEY: Say one more time?

MATT: What level of Guiding Bolt are you casting?

ASHLEY: I'm going to do it at 4th because I have a couple of 4th-level left.

MATT: Okay, so that will be… (chuckles) Roll to attack first. You have advantage on the attack roll because it's currently inside Faerie Fire, so take the higher of the two rolls.

LIAM: I would just like to say that Pike is very eerie, yet beautiful in this iridescent glow of astral projection. It's hard to hear her sometimes, but god damn it, she makes it look good.

ASHLEY: Oh. Oh my god. I rolled a one and a natural 20.

(cheering)

ASHLEY: What?

MATT: Okay. So at 4th level, that would be 7d6 radiant damage.

LAURA and MARISHA: Whoa!

MARISHA: Wait, what did you cast?

LAURA and TRAVIS: Guiding Bolt.

MARISHA: Oh, fuck yeah!

TALIESIN: 7d6?

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: That's a lot of d6.

TALIESIN: Times two?

LAURA: Is it times two after that because it's a crit?

MARISHA: It's a crit? Oh, right, because that's– well, it's straight dice rolls. Or does she roll dice twice?

MATT: For the purpose of ease, I usually double. I'm just confirming one thing real fast.

LIAM: She has just blinded us all in holy light is what I'm assuming.

MATT: Yeah, so go ahead and do your math.

MARISHA: Little holy nuke.

SAM: That's my Pike.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LAURA: What was it, Pike?

ASHLEY: 21.

LAURA: 21.

MATT: 21. All right.

LAURA: Times two?

MARISHA: Times two, right?

LAURA: Please?

MATT: Yep, so that would be times two. Just confirming. It has been a while since we've had any sort of spell-based crit. So that would be 42 points of radiant damage.

LAURA, ASHLEY, and MARISHA: Whoa!

MATT: As you release this bolt of energy out of your hand, you see it charges up and fills up your hand, shaking, as you're waiting for the moment where it might be too much to control, and your holy symbol flares as it releases and streaks forward, right behind you. You were technically in melee with it, which would have given you disadvantage on the attack, but you had advantage on him because of that and… we'll say it's fine. It stays there because there were a lot of things giving advantage against him and then disadvantage. We'll stay with it. As you turn around, you release it. Point blank, it slams into the front and you can see where the smoke was swelling around it, it almost seems to be scattered away from the impact of this radiant bolt, and for a second, this image of this obscured, shadowy humanoid becomes very clear and you can see this extremely muscular humanoid torso with elongated, exaggerated arms and fingers. Seemingly featureless across its body other than its black, obsidian torso. No legs. They disappear into the smoke beneath it. Its head has the long, hooked, birdlike skull beak, and where the eyes are, it's just this smooth, almost leathery texture across the dark body itself. You can see what looks like faint horns that curve around the back, that curl upward. And as it takes the impact, its head rolls back and you can hear this billowing scream: (moaning cry) As it leans back forward towards you, it looks like it's having a rough moment. Now we get to its turn.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: All right.

TRAVIS: It farts a little cloud of smoke.

TALIESIN: A lot of us are outside the Faerie Fire.

MATT: Based on that, it zeroes down on the little ball of radiant energy staring before it that just blasted a hole in its form. It's going to take all three of its strikes at you, Pike.

TALIESIN: It's got disadvantage on its attacks.

MATT: And has advantage because she's in Faerie Fire, so it cancels it to a natural attack. That is 21. What's your AC?

ASHLEY: 20.

MATT: 20, so that hits. 27. And a natural one.

MARISHA: Oh!

MATT: It was like 19… one.

ASHLEY: (laughs)

MATT: All right, so… That would be 14 points of psychic damage.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: Oh. No, I'm sorry, because of the roll there– that's 14 plus an additional 12, so that's 16 for the first strike.

SAM: (quietly) 12? That's 26.

MATT: Right, it was 12 on top of the original amount, which I said was 16?

SAM: 14.

TALIESIN: 14 and then 12.

MATT: 14 and 12, yeah, so it was 26 psychic damage you took on the first strike and the second one was seven, too. 21.

ASHLEY: I thought the second one failed?

MATT: The third one. It has three attacks.

ASHLEY: Oh, there's three.

MATT: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Okay, so what was the total, sorry?

MATT: It would be 26 and 21, so yeah, 47 points of psychic damage as its arm reaches out towards you and strikes. Also, I need you to make a wisdom saving throw.

TALIESIN: With advantage.

MATT: With advantage.

SAM: And with beauty.

TALIESIN: Grace. Dignity.

LIAM: Skype.

ASHLEY: Okay. 20.

MATT: You're doing your Hunter's Mark damage?

LAURA: Oh. Yeah, I did.

MATT: So what was that?

LIAM: 20.

ASHLEY: 20.

MATT: 20. Yeah, you feel as its claws move through your body, elements of its shadow essence reach up and try to grasp an element of your willpower. You shrug it off. The might of Sarenrae is too strong and it has no way of grasping your intent.

TRAVIS: Yeah, it is.

ASHLEY: Yeah, get out of here!

MATT: Unfortunately, that used all of its movement. It cannot withdraw into the room. That will be the end of its turn. Let's see if that recharges. Oh, it does. Okay. That brings us to Grog.

TRAVIS: It does?

MATT: Yep, you're back up to your turn now.

TRAVIS: (grunts) I want to hit it again!

MATT: Go for it.

TRAVIS: Do I have advantage?

MARISHA: Yes.

TRAVIS: Faerie Fire. That's better. 24.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: The second one is… 21.

MATT: Hits.

TRAVIS: Nice.

MATT: Just barely.

TRAVIS: First one is 15.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: 18.

MATT: 18, okay. You hit the side of its body and you can see now, small cracks in its black form are starting to form and you can see a bit of that purplish energy leaking out. It's starting to actually visibly show a difficulty in keeping its corporeal form. As both blows slam into it, you can see it shaking, and there is a struggle to its movement. Do you want to stay where you are, or do you want to move?

TRAVIS: I'll stay where I am.

MATT: Okay. Keyleth.

MARISHA: He's totally surrounded, pretty much, right?

MATT: Essentially.

MARISHA: Yeah. I'm actually going to throw up– I'm going to maintain my Faerie Fire.

SAM: You're going to throw up?

MARISHA: I'm going to– yes.

TALIESIN and MARISHA: (retching noises)

(laughter)

MARISHA: (dry-heaving noises) It's purple.

SAM: I hold her hair back.

MARISHA: And I say, (slurred) I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

SAM: That's okay. It's okay.

MARISHA: (laughing) How tall is the ceiling?

TALIESIN: 12 feet.

MATT: About 12 feet, yeah.

MARISHA: I'm going to take a Daylight beam and go (bing) right over top of it like a nice pretty spotlight.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Ah!

MATT: All right. Which, that is a concentration spell.

MARISHA: It's not, actually. It's an action that lasts for an hour.

MATT: Interesting! I would assume that was.

MARISHA: I looked it up just now.

MATT: This little spark ball of daylight opens up on the ceiling like a bright spotlight that fills the area. As it does, you can see the creature (howling groan) shrinks away from it, and its smoke actually dissipates, lowering its armor class again.

SAM: Oh, that's a good move!

MATT: All right. Are you going to stay where you are, or are you going to move?

MARISHA: I'll take another step back.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: That's good.

MATT: All right. With that… Okay. There's a momentary whisper in the shadow around you. And the sound of chains. I want everyone to make a perception check.

MARISHA: What?

TALIESIN: Damn!

TRAVIS: So close.

TALIESIN: 26.

MATT: 26.

TRAVIS: 19.

LAURA: 20.

LIAM: 20.

SAM: 17.

MARISHA: 16.

SAM: Pike?

ASHLEY: 17.

MATT: Okay. So all of you continue focusing.

SAM: Oh, whispers! Whispers and whispers.

LIAM: The whispers are back! It's like we're back in Casa de WillingBlam.

MARISHA: Whispers are so exciting.

LAURA: I know. I really did miss the whispers. I hadn't even realized how much I missed them until today.

SAM: Ashley, Matt is whispering in Taliesin's ear, just so you know.

MARISHA: Sweet nothings.

TALIESIN: Fuck. Really?

LAURA: He's licking his ear a lot.

ASHLEY: He's giving him a wet willie?

SAM: Yes.

LIAM: Really, really.

MATT: All right. Pike, you're up. What's your turn?

ASHLEY: Oh. Okay. I'm going to Guiding Bolt it again.

MATT: Okay. Same deal?

TALIESIN: I can't tell you yet. It's not my turn.

MATT: Go ahead and make your single attack roll right now because the previous thing is–

ASHLEY: (sighs) Ten.

MATT: Okay. Yeah, so this time, it's ready for you and it dodges out of the way. The blast hits the stone wall behind it and cracks it slightly. Do you want to move or stay where you are?

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'll move away from it.

MATT: It will get an attack of opportunity on you.

ASHLEY: Wait, hold on a minute. I should probably take a potion or something.

MATT: It's up to you.

LAURA: Are you low?

ASHLEY: I'm pretty low.

LAURA: Pike!

MARISHA: Oh, I could have done something about that.

ASHLEY: Nope. It's okay. I'm going to take a– what do I have in here? It just says I have a healing potion. God, I don't know what that means.

MATT: That would be the lowest. That's 2d4 plus two.

LAURA: Didn't you get healed from your own healing?

ASHLEY: Well, I don't have enough– I don't think I have enough left. I want to save them.

LAURA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Okay. Two. Six. Okay, eight.

MATT: Okay, you heal eight and did you want to move back or stay where you are?

ASHLEY: I'll stay.

MATT: Okay, so you stay where you are. All right. Cassandra keeps running off this way and halts for a second.

SAM: Wait, who's that? Who's going? Oh, that's Cassandra? We're okay with her running away?

LAURA: She's running away.

MATT: He sent her running away. Top is Vex. You're up.

LAURA: Me?

MATT: Yes.

LAURA: Okay. Who all's around him? Pike and Grog?

MATT: Pike and Grog and technically Trinket, as well, are all in melee.

LAURA: All right, then I'm going to shoot a couple of arrows at him again, man.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: I can't do anything. But he's still advantage, right?

MATT: It's advantage against him, yes.

LAURA: 21?

MATT: 21 hits.

LAURA: And 28.

MATT: Both hit. Go ahead and roll damage.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: These will be your last holy arrows because you've used six.

LAURA: No. I'm out of holy arrows.

MATT: Okay, yeah, that's right.

LAURA: Because one of them was my exploding arrow.

MATT: Yeah, so these are just regular.

LAURA: So that's… 21 for the first.

MATT: Nice, all right.

LAURA: Shitballs. Well, there you go. Goodbye.

LIAM: It was a 20.

LAURA: 21 for the second.

MATT: Nice. 42 points of damage this round. These arrows now find their way towards the cracks that are starting to appear in its chest and as each one strikes in, these arrows are actually visibly staying in its body. What was once this amorphous smoke, after the impacts from Grog and as it begins to wear itself down, it's starting to find it harder and harder to keep this ethereal form, so now these arrows are sticking out of these cracks of purplish, glowing energy and it's moving a little more sluggishly.

LAURA: I hide again for my bonus.

MATT: Okay. Make a stealth check. Scanlan, you're up.

SAM: Scanlan's up?

LAURA: 21 stealth.

MATT: Good to know. All right.

SAM: Do I have my wits about me?

MATT: You do.

SAM: Oh, that's nice.

MATT: You just feel like there's an aspect– you get the sense you probably don't want to be close to it.

SAM: Okay. I charge at it! No.

(laughter)

MATT: That's the Scanlan I know and love.

SAM: I have so little that I can do.

MATT: Suddenly there's a stained-glass wall behind it.

TALIESIN: Wow, in-joke.

SAM: As my bonus action, I will– as my movement, I (sighs) tragically, flip the gun to Percy.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: It's two pieces.

LAURA: No, the one that I gave him.

SAM: No, the good gun. In the– what's that Martin Lawrence movie? Bad Boys. They did it all in slow motion. Just throw the gun. Okay. As a bonus action, I will Healing Word Pike.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Did she heal herself okay?

LAURA: No, she didn't.

SAM: Okay, I will Healing Word her, and I'll sing, believe it or not, you're made mostly of air. I never thought you could feel so free.

MATT: All right, what level are you using Healing Word at?

SAM: Just at one.

MATT: Level one? Okay.

SAM: d4 plus five. Lame.

MATT: 1d4 plus five.

SAM: Eight. Eight, honey. I love you.

ASHLEY: “Thanks!” I blow him a smoke kiss.

SAM: Oh! I love it. And then for my move, my action, my whatever you call it… I've got fucking nothing, man! I say to the beast, to the whatever it is, I say, and another thing! Your smoking encourages minors to smoke and creates an aura that makes going to restaurants not pleasant and it's just horrible. It makes your clothes stink. It's terrible. So another Vicious Mockery.

TRAVIS: (laughing) Please. Please be enough.

TALIESIN: Please let this be what kills him.

MARISHA: Please. He's laughing like it is. Wouldn't that be the third time this has happened?

MATT: All right. Roll damage. 3d4 psychic damage.

LAURA: Come on, come on.

SAM: Eight.

MATT: Eight. All right. You can see now, it turns to you for a second and the Mark of Vengeance fades as suddenly you feel like you've damaged it mentally enough to the point where it doesn't even want to deal with you anymore. You're far too mean.

TRAVIS: (laughing) You're too mean.

SAM: Take that!

MATT: You're going to stay where you are?

SAM: Yes.

MATT: Okay, that ends your turn. Percy, you're up.

TALIESIN: I yell, Delilah's getting away!

MATT: You guys all glance over. The shackles that are on the ground are now collapsed and empty.

SAM: Oh shit!

MATT: With the gag safely removed from her mouth during this allowed her to cast Misty Step, which is a verbal-based spell. She is currently–

TALIESIN: How far away?

MATT: I'm calculating that right now.

TALIESIN: And can I see her?

MATT: I'm going to have to ask you to roll a perception check here in a minute.

TALIESIN: Okay.

LAURA: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: And the question is– yeah, I'm curious how far she got.

TRAVIS: We didn't bind her?

LAURA: Because we're morons.

TRAVIS: Well, she got out of her manacles.

MARISHA: She Misty Stepped, so she turned into air.

MATT: She landed, cast Invisibility, and vanished, and you just hear the footsteps down the hall. You're not quite sure where she is or how far she's gotten, but you know she's down that way.

LAURA: (gasps) Cassandra!

TALIESIN: Cassandra's right there.

MATT: Yeah. Cassandra doesn't notice. She's just been running because you told her to run. She did hear you shout and she looked over her shoulder, but not in time for her to see anything happen, because this all happened during the last round, during your realization. You guys look around and Delilah's gone. You're the only one who really saw the direction she's going, but it's your turn.

TRAVIS: Son of a bitch, we left her alive.

LAURA: I cannot believe we left her alive!

SAM: I'm sure it'll be fine.

TRAVIS: I'm fucking pissed.

SAM: Maybe she's learned the error of her ways.

MATT: What are you doing?

TALIESIN: Fuck! Ugh. Okay, I'm going to–

SAM: Chase her?

MARISHA: Tell us where she is.

TALIESIN: I'm going to– fuck! Ugh, goddamn it. I'm going to double my speed. I'm going to burn my turn double-speeding, trying to–

MATT: Trying to catch up?

TALIESIN: Trying to catch up.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: And then as I pass my sister, I yell, she went this way. She's invisible.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Do I hear that?

TALIESIN: She went this way! She's invisible!

SAM: I hear it.

MARISHA: We hear it.

LIAM: Yep.

MATT: All right, so that's Percy's turn.

TALIESIN: I'm so sorry, everybody.

MATT: For the situation, make a perception check.

TALIESIN: All right.

ASHLEY: You've got to do what you've got to do.

TALIESIN: Do I have–

MATT: No. You do not have advantage on this.

TALIESIN: I'm adding my bonus die.

SAM: You have inspiration.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I haven't used my inspiration die. 23.

MATT: 23. Okay. You see a couple of the recent footsteps, but you don't see them freshly being made, so you know she's not too far yet.

TALIESIN: I'm going to follow that path of footsteps. I'm keeping an eye on them.

MATT: Good to know. Vax, you're up.

LIAM: All right, I'm going to use my bonus action to dash and run 60 feet after Percy to catch up.

LAURA: What? You're not going to kill the smoke beast?

LIAM: You're going to kill the smoke beast.

MATT: Okay, so you use your bonus dash, your movement to get there, so you move up 60.

LIAM: So that's 60 feet from where I was? Okay, and I'm going to throw a dagger after– well, can I do a perception check and that, or is that two different things?

MATT: Honestly, once the creature's invisible and you don't know where it was, you don't even get a chance to check at this distance, so it's just attacking at disadvantage.

LIAM: All right, I'm going to attack at disadvantage, then.

MATT: All right.

LIAM: That is a 14.

MATT: 14 is a miss. (whoosh) It returns to your belt. Finds no purchase.

LIAM: No, it was an 18.

LAURA: It was an 18. He rolled 18.

MATT: That was an 18?

LIAM: Yeah. Seven plus 11 is 18.

MATT: Seven plus 11 is indeed 18. Go ahead and roll damage.

LAURA: See?

LIAM: Thanks. Thanks, sis.

LAURA: No problem. This is why I look over your shoulder even when my math is bad.

LIAM: Okay, that is eight.

MATT: Eight? Okay.

LAURA: But she was almost unconscious.

MATT: At this point, as you're running, you're rushing forward. To the left of your ear, you hear (impact noise) and you glance over your shoulder. And there, face down on the ground, is Delilah, sprawled out, face down in the dirt with a single dagger sticking out of the center of her back.

LIAM: For a second.

LAURA: And then it's gone.

MATT: And then it disappears. And blood begins to pour out from the wound.

SAM: She's dead. You killed her.

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: Is she dead?

MATT: You'd have to go and inspect. Now it is Orthax's turn. Orthax is going to move here, still remain in melee, and is going to use a secondary rampage pulse, since it recharges. Gives out another desperate scream (raspy roar) outwards in the vicinity. 20-foot radius. I need Keyleth, Vex, Trinket, Pike, and Grog to all make wisdom saving throws with advantage.

MARISHA: I'll take a 12.

MATT: 12?

MARISHA: 25 total.

MATT: Oh, 25 total.

TRAVIS: 12.

MATT: 12.

LAURA: Wait. 19 for me.

ASHLEY: 22.

LAURA: 13 for Trinket.

MATT: Okay, so Vex, Keyleth, and Pike, you guys all take five points of psychic damage as you cover your ears momentarily. Grog and Trinket both take ten points of psychic damage. Both turn immediately, flanking Pike, who has been the radiant blaster across this entity. I need you to make an attack and I need Trinket to make an attack against Pike. You guys both have advantage because she's in the Faerie Fire.

MARISHA: Fuck.

TRAVIS: Yes! Three and a four. 13.

MATT: 13. Okay.

LIAM: Trinket rolled a natural 20.

TALIESIN: Whoa!

MATT: All right, so Pike. This blast comes out ringing in your ears and as your vision comes back to you and you look up, all you see is Grog lifting this giant hammer with his eyes clouded in the same black smoke material. You bring up your shield and as the hammer comes down, striking at you, you know there's a bruise going to be on your forearm tomorrow because the sheer force of it hits you, but at the same time, you know it's not the friend you grew up with. And you look up into his face as the cloud fades and you can see an expression of immediate regret on his face.

TRAVIS: What? What did I do?

MATT: Before you can respond, though, the bear behind you. Trinket snarls (roar) and latches on. Go ahead and roll damage.

LAURA: Do you want a bite attack or a claw attack?

MATT: I'm going to have to probably go bite on this.

ASHLEY: Oh no.

MATT: So roll the dice and then that times two.

LAURA: Oh, right, I have to– no, yeah. Okay. That's 11.

MATT: So you take 11 points of piercing damage as all of a sudden, Trinket sinks his jaws into the back of your shoulder.

SAM: Times two?

LIAM: Yeah, times two. Natural 20.

MATT: Oh. Oh, that wasn't with the multiplier. What did you roll on the dice?

LAURA: I rolled 11.

MATT: On the dice? So 22, plus whatever the modifier is.

LAURA: What? No!

LIAM: That's eight plus the modifier.

LAURA: Oh! Okay. 15!

MATT: Okay, so 16 plus whatever the modifier is.

TALIESIN: 19, then.

LAURA: No, I rolled four. Times two is eight.

LIAM: Plus the modifier of seven.

LIAM and LAURA: Is 15.

MATT: There we go. Thank you so much for clarification. 15 points of piercing damage.

TALIESIN: Math, everybody!

MATT: And Trinket clenches down. You feel the armor plates jamming together and it wrenches your shoulder out of the socket. Not enough to actually do too much serious damage. And immediately Trinket pulls away and you hear this whine behind you, this (sad moaning). His nose rubs against your head.

ASHLEY: I put my hand out and touch his nose and tell him it's okay.

LAURA and MARISHA: Oh.

MATT: Okay. Orthax is at a point where– no. Orthax is going to turn and begin to chase after Percy now.

TALIESIN: Attack of opportunity.

MATT: Yes, I know. Grog and Pike and Trinket all get attacks of opportunity.

MARISHA: Kill him!

TRAVIS: With advantage?

MATT: With advantage, yeah.

TRAVIS: Natural 20. First roll. Don't even need to do it again.

MARISHA: Nat 20s all up in this bitch.

LAURA: 24.

MATT: Okay, and Pike?

ASHLEY: 16.

MATT: 16 does not hit, unfortunately. So Pike, you swing, but, still in pain from Trinket's attack and Grog coming at you, you swing wide and it passes through the space behind it. Grog, remember to roll with an additional d12, too, because of your brutal critical.

ASHLEY: Kill him.

LAURA: 13 for Trinket.

MATT: 13 for Trinket. Awesome.

TRAVIS: (muttering) 20, 21, 22. (louder) 31 total.

MATT: 31 total. How do you and Trinket want to do this?

(cheering)

ASHLEY: Wait, did you kill him?

LAURA: Yeah!

ASHLEY: Oh, yes!

TRAVIS: I'd like to pick up the hammer and slam him down to the ground just so he's at Trinket's head height.

LAURA: And then right when he gets to his height, Trinket reaches up and bites him as hard as he can and lashes him around like dog with a toy.

MATT: Okay. As you slam it on the ground, (boof) the smoke billows out around it and dissipates for a moment where, as opposed to its obscured form, you now have a very clear view of its physical body. Just a little bit of smoke trailing about where its lower torso and legs would be. As its arms reach out (slashing noise, grunt) and it looks up, its head shaking as the purple cracks are rising up its body, it looks up straight into the face of Trinket, who snarls. (growl, chomp) And just lunges out, clamping onto its face and tearing upward, its head arcing in the air. As it does, the body (whoosh) dissipates into smoke and sinks into the ground into this black shadow in the dirt that (whoosh) races up the hallway in the direction of Percy. Percy, as you're stopping and looking over, you look down just in time for the shadow to (whoosh) reach your legs, and you feel this cold rise up your body and then slowly dissipate into this little nugget of cold in the center of your chest, and then vanish.

ASHLEY: Wait, but doesn't he have protection?

MARISHA: How about the protection?

LAURA: He disappears. It disappeared. Maybe it disappeared forever.

SAM: Or maybe it's always going to be there, haunting us.

LIAM: While he's thinking, I walk up to Delilah, grab her by the clothes, drag her to the side of the wall and prop her up, and turn to Percy. And say, end this.

TALIESIN: Cassandra?

MATT: Cassandra, who has now stopped, looks at you. She clutches the rapier in her hand, and you can see her hand shaking, the tension of the muscles in her fingers clenching it as hard as she possibly can, as she walks up with each slow, quiet step echoing across the stone. (footsteps) Delilah up against the wall, blood spilling out of the corner of her mouth, (coughs) coughing, conscious, with her one missing arm to the side. Blood's beginning to ooze now from the wound as the sheer force of all the movement has torn the wounds fresh open. And she's there and she looks over out of the corner of her eye and turns, seeing the rest of you, and sees Cassandra. As Cassandra steps up, she holds the rapier at her side, staring down. This time, a single tear cresting down the side of her cheek. Delilah looks up and goes, “You could have been my daughter.” She looks down at Delilah and says, “No. Cassandra is a de Rolo, and you took them away from me. And now we're taking everything away from you.” And thrusts the rapier forward, right into the chest. As it hits her, it actually pulls her up about a foot against the wall. The sheer force of the wound. (gasps, sighs) Last breath escaping from Delilah's mouth. Her arm falls limp to the side. The moment of tension passes and Cassandra's still holding her there, her head down, her hair in front of her face, just shaking, keeping her pinned against the wall.

LAURA: (whispering) Percival.

TALIESIN: I put my hand on her shoulder and gently pull her back.

MATT: The rapier withdraws and the body tumbles to the ground. She looks back at you, face just a mess. “Thank you.”

TALIESIN: We have a lot to do.

MATT: “We do.” And she hands the rapier back to you, and she grabs the scruff of Delilah's collar and begins dragging her up the hallway towards the castle.

LAURA: Wait, I meant to loot her earlier and it didn't happen. Sorry, I just really like that part.

MATT: She drops the body and gives you a look. “Hurry. If there's one thing I've learned here in Whitestone, it's that things do not stay dead long.”

LIAM: Seeing as I'm 50 feet ahead of my sister, I walk ahead of her.

LAURA: Don't you fucking do this to me.

LIAM: Is she wearing a cloak?

MATT: (laughs) Okay. Inspecting the body, you find a very fine pair of metallic bracers.

LAURA: (gasps) For archery purposes?

LIAM: You're not here.

LAURA: I'm like five feet away from you, at this point.

MATT: Her robe, though soaked with blood, is very, very well-made.

LIAM: I roll that up.

MATT: Okay, so you roll up the robe. Her cloak is–

LIAM: No, that's what I meant. The cloak. I leave the robe.

TALIESIN: No, take everything.

MARISHA: Take everything.

LIAM: Yeah. All the fabric. I take it.

MATT: Okay, you take all the fabric. The robe and the cloak. So mark those down. The cloak itself looked like cloth at a distance. Close up, you can see it's actually a very fine dark black/purple fur, and down at the side of it, you see dangling these two long tentacles that end in these little cupping spiked elements. It looks like it was carved from a creature at one point.

LIAM: This is the cloak?

MATT: The cloak.

MARISHA: Can I do a nature check to see?

MATT: Go for it.

MARISHA: Because I think I know what it is.

LAURA: I get up in time to smack him upside the head.

MARISHA: 29.

MATT: Yeah, you've actually fought these creatures before. This is a displacer beast. It's a Cloak of Displacement.

LIAM: I got the cloak and I walk away from it and leave my sister to go sick on the rest of it.

LAURA: She's naked. Good job, brother.

MATT: Yeah, she's mostly nude, other than her undergarments.

LIAM: I toss the robe back on her.

TALIESIN: Vax, Cassandra, let's take her to the acid pits.

MATT: The only thing she has left is a ring on her finger.

LAURA: What about those bracers you were talking about?

MATT: Cassandra, remembering this, drags her body through what remnant is there on the ground. There's a big groove left behind her as she's being dragged through it. You get to the second trap that she marked, and you guys make your way around it. You make your way to where the road diverges, the one way to the castle, and the one to the acid pits. And Cassandra heads towards the acid pits.

LAURA: Cassandra, what are you doing?

TRAVIS: She's throwing them in the acid pits.

MATT: She doesn't look back at you. She just keeps walking. You follow her for about five minutes.

MARISHA: Are we sure this won't make anything bad happen if we throw a body into the acid pits?

TALIESIN: I think it's fine.

TRAVIS: I think it's acid.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: After about five minutes of following her, the path leads up and then crests, and there is a room that smells awful. It's similar to the acrid scent the room was filled with when the acid was pouring into the room. There's a whole series of other chemicals and inside, you can see there's a number of laboratory set-ups near you. You get the feeling this is probably where a lot of this particular acidic concoction that was fine-tuned for this stone of Whitestone was created, or at least, honed by Ripley. Without a beat, Cassandra walks up to the edge and just throws Delilah's body in. (plop, sizzle) Then it disappears beneath the surface as the hissing, bubbling noise takes over the silence of the room. She sits there and just watches it sink.

LAURA: Well?

LIAM: She brought a lot of ill to this world. Don't feel too bad.

MATT: Cassandra turns back around.

TALIESIN: She was too dangerous to let live.

MARISHA: What about you? How do you feel?

SAM: How's that gun barrel of yours?

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I pull out the broken barrel and inspect it.

MATT: Looking at it, you can see, Delilah's name is missing from the barrel entirely. Cassandra's name is still on the barrel, and so is Ripley's. Go ahead and make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: I had some thoughts but yeah. 11.

MATT: Okay. Just looking at it, it looks like the names are there, emblazoned as to where they were before.

TALIESIN: I'm going to just take the broken gun and point it at my sister. What do I feel?

MATT: Currently, nothing.

TALIESIN: I think I'm all right. I think I may be all right.

SAM: Why don't you toss that thing into the acid just in case?

TALIESIN: I'm going to do something else.

SAM: Are you going to shoot your sister like you just pointed your gun at her? What was that about?

TALIESIN: You were the one who wouldn't give me the other gun.

SAM: I gave you the other gun.

TALIESIN: I'm going to go over to the little lab setup. Is there some acid there?

MATT: Go ahead and make an intelligence check.

TALIESIN: 17.

MATT: 17? Yeah, a brief look around you can see there are many different compounds, different strengths of acid, what a lot of the initial experimentation was.

TALIESIN: I'm going to start trying to scar her name off the barrel.

MATT: Okay. You take a moment and eventually manage to scar and dissolve enough of the exterior of that barrel until the name is no longer visible.

TALIESIN: I think it's fine.

SAM: (scoffs) You think it's fine?

LAURA: Lovely.

TALIESIN: You're going to have to have some faith.

SAM: I don't have any faith! Here, we'll make a deal. I'll let you keep that gun if you give me the other one.

TALIESIN: No.

(laughter)

LAURA: So glad that your smoke monster is seemingly gone, Percy. That's wonderful news. The spinning orb of death, however, is still back there, so we should probably figure out what to do about that.

TALIESIN: Well, I think perhaps we can talk to Keeper Yennen. Perhaps put together some priests to deal with that. Enlist the help of the entire town now that there's no longer a revolution to be fought.

TRAVIS: Yeah, that's a solid plan.

MARISHA: Oh, the revolution.

TALIESIN: We forgot about that.

MARISHA: We should go stop the fighting. Right? We should probably let them know it's over.

LAURA: Probably.

TRAVIS: Well if they're fighting, wouldn't it mean it's not over?

MARISHA: Well, I'm sure they don't know that the Briarwoods are dead.

TALIESIN: So perhaps if we tell everyone the Briarwoods are dead. Cassandra?

TRAVIS: Maybe we'll see Ripley on the way out.

TALIESIN: Wouldn't that be nice?

SAM: I just had a thought, Percy. I cast Friends on him.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: I think I know how to fix your gun, if you hand it to me.

TALIESIN: Never in my right mind would I hand my gun.

MATT: Go ahead and make a– it'd be a persuasion check. And you go ahead and make an insight check. But you have an advantage on it. No, he has advantage on the persuasion, you do not have it.

LIAM: While they're talking, can I attempt to pull it off of his belt?

MATT: Pull it off of Percy's?

TALIESIN: My insight is 21.

SAM: I rolled a natural 20.

TALIESIN: You are going to cost me so much money.

LIAM: I see Scanlan kill it, and I just step back.

MATT: Okay. You look down at this gnome, and while he's normally pretty silly and jovial, in this moment, there's an honest spark of his own inspiration in his eyes.

TALIESIN: (whimpers) I'm so upset that I have to do this.

SAM: Wink!

TALIESIN: Going to kill you. I'm going to kill you.

TRAVIS: You don't know. He's your friend. You're not mad at all.

TALIESIN: For another three minutes.

LIAM: Yeah, roleplay for three minutes, Taliesin.

TALIESIN: I hand him the broken gun.

MATT: Begrudgingly, you reach out and place it in his hand and release.

SAM: I say, thank you, Percy. I think, in due time, you will thank me for this. And I toss it into the acid. As I say, when the spell fades he's going to be super pissed, somebody protect me!

MARISHA: Okay.

TRAVIS: You want to hop on my shoulders?

SAM: Yes. I go run and jump on Grog's shoulders.

MATT: As you watch it arc forward, in your head, you're like, “That fucking gnome.” The spell fades, you hear him say that, and just as it (plop, sizzle).

TRAVIS: You're not going to get that, are you?

TALIESIN: I reach in to try and grab it out.

LAURA: No, Percy! And I reach out and I grab his hands.

TRAVIS: He threw it! You threw it, though, right?

TALIESIN: No, he dropped it!

MATT: He lobbed it. It wasn't a huge throw.

MARISHA: I cast Hold Person at 3rd level.

MATT: On?

MARISHA: Percy!

LAURA: As I reach up and I grab his hands as well!

TALIESIN: That was so expensive!

MATT: Make a wisdom saving throw with advantage.

MARISHA: Son of a fuck.

MATT: Heroes' Feast, workin' against you!

LIAM: You're the lord of Castle Whitestone.

TALIESIN: Wisdom saving throw?

MATT: Yes.

TALIESIN: 18.

MATT: What's your DC?

MARISHA: My difficulty class? 18.

MATT: You're like, “That cost a– (cracking)”

MARISHA: (laughs) I always fail rolls against Percy! It sucks!

MATT: A few moments pass. You don't even see it beneath the surface now. You just see a little bit of some fume released from whatever slow process is dissolving your gun.

LAURA: I step in front as he's unconscious and I go, Percy, dear. You'll thank us for this later, I know it.

TALIESIN: He's paying for a new one.

LAURA: I kiss his cheek and say, I'm so sorry.

TALIESIN: He's paying for a new one.

MARISHA: We'll get you a new one, Percy.

TALIESIN: I'm going to have to– oh god!

MATT: As you're watching this, from the fume, a small plume of black smoke goes (whoosh).

LAURA and MARISHA: See?

MATT: And that cold nugget in the center of your chest is gone.

(cheering)

LAURA: It feels good, doesn't it?!

MARISHA: Doesn't it feel good?

TRAVIS: You fucking genius!

LAURA: It feels good!

(laughter)

TALIESIN: It was so expensive.

TRAVIS: Aw, come on!

TALIESIN: Oh, just throw the carpet in there now, why don't you?

MARISHA: Oh, Percival, that hurts.

MATT: Cassandra steps up to you and takes your head in her hands and forces you to look at her and goes, “Brother. We've all made sacrifices for this.” She slaps you.

TALIESIN: (yelps)

MATT: Oh! That's a 21. 19 plus two.

SAM: He's held right now.

MARISHA: Still holding him in place.

LIAM: I hold my fist way up high to Scanlan on Grog's shoulder for a silent little exploding fist bump.

MATT: And she looks to you and goes– Cassandra gives you a look to–

TALIESIN: You were never Mother's favorite.

SAM: Let's not be petty.

TALIESIN: She told me!

SAM: Let's not be petty, Percy.

MARISHA: You sure you want to let him go? You sure? Did you hear what he just said to you? You sure?

MATT: It came out as (muffled angry sounds).

MARISHA: I let it go.

MATT: Okay, your muscle control comes back to you and Cassandra is holding your freshly slapped face, gives you a look and goes, “Brother. Let's go to our people. Let's tell them that for the first time in five years Whitestone is free.”

TALIESIN: Oh god. Yeah. I'm letting it go.

MATT: She reaches over and she takes your arm in her arm.

TALIESIN: Oh god.

MATT: She takes your arm in her arm and begins walking both of you back towards the tunnels.

TALIESIN: That one was enchanted. Okay. Two enchantments. Yeah, all right.

MATT: And with that, we're going to go ahead and take a quick bathroom break. Meet you guys back here in a few minutes.

MARISHA: But you're still alive!

TALIESIN: I'm not alive!

LAURA: You're not controlled anymore!

Break[]

[break]

Part II[]

MATT: Welcome back, folks! So. Let's go ahead and pick up where we left off. So, as you guys return to the undercroft of Whitestone, Cassandra carrying you, arm in arm. You make your way up through the stairs to the main base floor of Castle Whitestone. Are you guys heading towards your– where are you heading from here?

MARISHA: I'm going to head straight for the front door and look in– is there a balcony on top?

MATT: You can check for the second floor if you want to.

LAURA: Overviews the city?

MATT: You have a pretty high view. It's already elevated on this platform, so even from a ground-floor area you can look down into the city.

TRAVIS: Front door.

MATT: Front door? All right, Grog walks up to the front door, being careful of the scattered caltrops you guys left there. The door is still ajar from where you left it. As you step out and look into the daylight, and it's at this point now, probably mid-afternoon, pushing into evening. You guys have been traveling underground for quite some time and taken a few short rests, and have had a lot of conflict and things happen. So you started at the start of the day. You're now pushing into towards dusk. But as you open up and look outside, with what daylight is still there, you see little plumes of smoke coming from the far city. Down the pathway that leads up to Castle Whitestone, you see about 70 to 100 armored humanoids marching up towards the front of the castle.

SAM: Humanoids?

MATT: Bipedal.

TRAVIS: Can I pick up my caltrops?

MATT: You begin to pick up your caltrops.

LAURA: I know what this is.

TRAVIS: Well, they're good guys.

SAM: No, it could be an undead army.

MATT: Make a perception check.

LAURA: I know what this is. Do I need roll perception if I know what it is?

MARISHA: Yeah, I was going to say.

TRAVIS: Wow! 19 minus…

MARISHA: 20.

TALIESIN: 27.

SAM: Five.

LAURA: 15.

MATT: All right. As you guys get your weapons at the ready–

TALIESIN: 25, sorry. Did the math wrong.

MATT: 25, okay. Percy and Vax, you notice the people approaching, spattered in mud and various types of ichor or blood. As they get closer, you can see beneath the helmets: tired human faces. Stepping up the side, weapons at the ready. As they approach the very front of the line, you see Keeper Yennen, equally exhausted, stepping forward, essentially ready to storm the castle. You see behind them as they approach a scattered cluster of broken corpses, some human, some a little less human. It looks like the rebellion army seems to have cut its way through the remaining defenders of Castle Whitestone and are making their way towards the front of the castle. As they get closer, they meet your gaze, and the front of the group draw their weapons, and Yennen steps forwards a little bit. “You there! Percival.”

TALIESIN: I step forward.

MATT: “Vox Machina. Are your wits about you?”

TRAVIS: Yes?

MARISHA: Yes.

TALIESIN: The Briarwoods are dead.

MARISHA: It's true.

LIAM: Serpent's head has been cut off, but there is much to do.

MARISHA: Is it still cloudy?

MATT: It's a little cloudy. It's not rainstorm ready, but there's still sort of an overcast feel.

MARISHA: I'm going to go ahead and at third level, because that's all I got left, cast Skywrite again, and throw up the de Rolo crest once again in the sky.

MATT: Okay. As you begin to coalesce the clouds and the symbol and the shapes, you see a bunch of the soldiers look around and Yennen steps forward again towards you and goes, reaching up holding his holy symbol of Erathis to his chest, he goes, “Are you certain this is done? Percival.”

TALIESIN: There's still a great evil beneath the castle, but the Briarwoods are no more.

MATT: He turns around, looks to his men who are all looking at him expectantly. “Well, you heard the man. The Briarwoods are dead. Whitestone is free once more!” He looks up to the sky as the symbol finishes from Keyleth's spell. “The de Rolos are in power once again!” At which point the entire crowd shouts “yeah!” Their weapons to the sky, and as the shouts begin to echo down into the valley of Whitestone, you can see little lights begin to burn in the distance, little notification lanterns that are being lit and set at windowtops, at the top of the mountain, and you can see this look of relief and joy on every soldier's face as they all realize that the death they were all marching to face is no longer a threat. Cassandra, at this point, is still standing behind you at your side, and really for the first time since all of this went down beneath, you see a smile on her face. Yennen turns around again and approaches you all. (sighs) “I don't know what to say. Well, come. There's much to discuss. Let us step from this foul place for the time being. Men! Walk through, make sure it's clean.” And the some of the soldiers–

MARISHA: No!

TALIESIN: There's still a matter of some things beneath the castle that we must deal with first.

MARISHA: No one should be allowed in for right now, until we figure this out.

MATT: “Very well. Men, seal the doors, seal the entrances. Keep watch.”

MARISHA: We really need to rest.

MATT: “Then come. You've certainly earned it.” And he motions to a few of the guards.

MARISHA: What time of day is it? Do we have a sense? Is the sun still up?

MATT: The sun's still up, but you can see from the light source and the darkening of the sky and the color pushing from a general white-grey. It's going a little more reddish-orange.

MARISHA: Before we take a rest, I'm going to look at Percy, and I'm going to be like, I'll catch up with you guys. I think the people need to see the sun. And I'm going to go into my air elemental form, go up into the sky above Whitestone, and do my Whirlwind ability and start trying to just push all of the clouds out of the way to let the sun in.

MATT: All right, as you guys begin–

LAURA: Oh, did she freeze?

SAM: She's frozen in a beautifully surprised expression.

MATT: She can still hear us.

LAURA: Oh, she can still hear us but she's frozen.

SAM: Surprise!

MATT: You guys begin to march down towards the city with the rest of the army. A group of about ten men stay behind just to guard the castle. As you make you way to the northern side of Whitestone and you enter the streets again, you can see families beginning to walk out of their homes in the streets. In the entirety of your time here in Whitestone, most folks that didn't need to be out in the open stayed indoors, and you begin to realize this seeming ghost city was hiding a lot more life and a lot more hope than you had expected, and you see families, and children, stepping out, and as you walk through the streets you can see the kids wave. You meet eyes with some of the possible widows, who mouth to you, “Thank you”.

LIAM: Seeing that–

TALIESIN: Can we pass by the Alcove?

LIAM: Seeing that, I'm going to do the buddy arm around the shoulder and pull my sister in close.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: (clears throat) I walk up to a particularly handsome widow, and I say, your husband–

LAURA: Pike is right here.

SAM: Oh. Your husband died for a good cause, thanks, bye.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Pike is shocked. Pike is shocked and offended.

SAM: Why are you looking at me like that, Pike? Pike, stop it!

MATT: As you walk away, she looks really confused and clutches her chest in horror for a moment as one of the soldiers walking with you steps by her side, looking at you curiously, and gives her a kiss on the cheek. She goes, “Who was that man?”

SAM: Oh, sorry.

TALIESIN: Can we– definitely want to go, let's stop by the Alcove.

MATT: Okay. You eventually start making your way towards the Alcove as you enter deeper into the city.

LIAM: Pike, you there? Can you hear us?

MARISHA: Have I cleared up enough of the sky at this point?

MATT: We're going to get to that right now, actually.

MARISHA: I want to get to that.

MATT: As you guys are stepping– I'm sorry, what?

SAM: No, it's okay.

MATT: Pushing further in you can see now the clouds beginning to dissipate, and also for the first time since you've been here you see blue sky directly above the city. The vibrant orange-red-purple colors of the sunset now come cascading along the city of Whitestone, and there's a collective (gasps), an inhale and gasp of awe from the soldiers and the people alike as this opens up above you. You begin to walk past. The Alcove's to your left, if you wish to–

TALIESIN: I want to stop in.

MATT: Okay. As you start heading towards the Alcove you can see Jordana is already out on the front stoop looking up at the sky. She looks over and sees you. “Percival!”

TALIESIN: I give her a big hug.

MATT: It takes her by surprise at the moment, and then she gives in and continues to give the hug back.

TALIESIN: This would not have been possible without your help. Thank you for everything.

MATT: “Of course.” She leans into the hug a little bit, then nods and then raises her head. “Did you see my father?”

TALIESIN: I have not. We have not searched the castle yet, though.

LAURA: We just left it? We haven't searched the castle?

MARISHA: We searched a little bit.

LAURA: But there could be live people in there when we sealed it?

TALIESIN: We don't know. It's not airtight or anything. I mean, they're breathing.

SAM: Ripley's gone and also there's a goliath on the loose.

MATT: As you say this, Keeper Yennen goes, “Not anymore, there isn't. Follow me.”

ALL: Ooh.

SAM: Are there any young boys around?

MATT: He stops in his tracks and looks over his shoulder and goes, “What?”

SAM: I just need a young, fleet-footed boy.

TRAVIS: See, the last time I asked for a young boy people gave me shit, too.

TALIESIN: No, we're going to give him shit. There's no problem here.

MATT: He slowly turns away and keeps walking forward.

SAM: Or a girl! No, wait, that sounds weird.

TRAVIS: Yep. You can't say it in a right way. It's impossible. Innocent request.

MATT: The people have begun following behind your procession towards the center of the city.

LIAM: Bring me your smallest, most helpless child.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Oh god.

TRAVIS: That's fucked up.

TALIESIN: That's going to explode.

SAM: All right. Show us what you want to show us, Yennen.

MATT: You see behind you soldiers reuniting with their families, friends gathering in the streets, and the people of Whitestone are now beginning to join the sides of your procession towards the center of the Sun Square in the middle of Whitestone. As you crest into the outskirts of the square, Yennen gives a couple of whispered orders to a couple of the soldiers, who rush off. You can see people are now gathering in the center and there's actually people gathering around the Sun Tree. As they all step to the Sun Tree, it's a little quiet, and Keeper Yennen reaches up and pulls his holy symbol of Erathis again, looks up to the tree and looks back at the rest of you and goes, “For generations, it was those of the Zenith who looked over this tree and these people here, and it was by the evil that once held foot in this town that Father Reynal, the last of his line, was slain. We will work to find those who wish to take up the mantle to clean and rebuild the Zenith, the pinnacle of Pelor's grace here in Whitestone. But until that I, Yennen, swear to make this tree's safety my responsibility. This symbol of hope, this center of the crest of your family has held the slivers of light in our hearts for a very long time. Let us all take a moment and thank the heroes who made this freedom possible: to the strong mountain of joy and bravery, Grog. To the gentle, to the kind, to the just soul, Pike. To the swift of bow, keen of sight, and the most adorable creature to accompany her–” as Trinket steps forward and nuzzles your side– “Trinket. By the agility, by the cunning, by the loyalty of Vax. By the cleverness, by the wit, and the strange interests of Scanlan. By the honesty, by the nature and connection with the world, and the wonder of Keyleth. And by the strength of blood, and the willingness to sacrifice– ”

ASHLEY: (mic bump)

MATT: “Pardon me.”

(laughter)

MATT: Damn it.

SAM: Start that one again?

LIAM: It's still very beautiful.

MARISHA: So beautiful.

TALIESIN: Two years on a sitcom. I can hold this all day.

(laughter)

MATT: God damn it.

LAURA: Percival's just waiting for his introduction.

LIAM: To the stone-cold motherfucker on air.

MATT: “To the return of those valiants we once thought lost, and those who rise up to restore the joy of these people. Percival. May we raise our weapons, our glasses, and our children, who accept this future to rebuild. Raise to Vox Machina. Hyah!” And everyone raises as one loud–

TRAVIS: Yeah! Vox Machina!

MATT: As the sun slowly sets, the light coming through in beautiful colors now. You see what was once a very bleak town suddenly be renewed with a spectrum of new accents. You begin to hear music being played, as now the celebration begins with the sun's setting. Folks are turning this into a full celebration now. People are starting to bring out food and–

MARISHA: Block party!

MATT: (laughs) You feel this sense that this is the first time in a long time the people have ever really been allowed to be happy about something. And the energy is infectious in itself. As the celebration begins, though, Yennen puts up his hand and people begin to slow and calm as men begin to bring forward two individuals in chains. One of which you see is a half-orc female in dark brown leather armor. She is chained and thrown onto her knees onto the ground, and she spits; you can see there's a few cuts across her face and she looks dirty. And right next to her, taking four men to do so, a goliath who's bruised is also thrown onto his knees and they're both just held at that place. Yennen says, “The two remaining new nobles, given power here as they aided the Briarwoods in taking this city. We have Duke–” which the people spit at the sound of the name– “Goran Vedmire. And Countess Jazna Graben. You have been found guilty of treason against this town, of the responsibility of many lives lost, innocent. And for furthering the plans of the evil that has oppressed us so long. I would wish that you, the ones who freed us, deliver the judgment.”

TRAVIS: (laughs)

LAURA: Come on.

TRAVIS: No, that sounds fair. I've known to preside over many legal matters in my time as Judgeface of Northwind.

LIAM: Define “legal.”

MARISHA: Define “Judgeface.”

TRAVIS: It would just baffle all of you. It's all right.

SAM: Grog, if I may. I can assist you in this, if you'd like.

TRAVIS: Oh, why of course, Sub-judge Scanlan.

SAM: Thank you, Grog. Percival, this is your kingdom, so if you–

TALIESIN: I leave it to you.

LAURA: No.

TRAVIS: Yes. Even better.

SAM: These two have done much violence to this place. They represent all that is evil.

MATT: “Wait.” And Goran, who is now down on the ground, looks up at you and goes, “I know you.”

SAM: Never saw you before, friend.

TALIESIN: This is what I really wanted to see.

SAM: You have a lovely house, by the way. Or had one.

(laughter)

MATT: Spits on the ground at your feet.

SAM: Might need a new roofer. Anyway. In a show of grace and to demonstrate our new hope that we have for this place, I suggest that we don't kill these two.

TRAVIS: What?

SAM: But rather force them to help rebuild the place that they helped destroy.

LAURA: In chains. Very heavy chains.

SAM: One of them at least is extremely strong. The other one must have some sort of skill.

MATT: She for the first time looks up with this gnarly toothy grin. You can see these partially broken and jagged teeth in her mouth, and she goes, “Come closer. I've never tasted gnome.”

SAM: Okay, so maybe we'll kill her.

LAURA: Would you rather die?

TRAVIS: What kind of weapons did these two have on them?

MATT: The men look about themselves and Yennen, “Not entirely certain. However, she has been known to carry a quiver or two, and this one here wields a blade as long as his body.”

LIAM: The Briarwoods are broken and gone. You can die today, or you can take your licks and help rebuild this city. No one is here to protect you or save you. You can work hard, start again.

MATT: Make a persuasion check. With advantage, based on their current circumstance.

LIAM: Intimidation, you said, or persuasion?

MATT: Whichever you'd prefer.

LIAM: It's average, it's 13.

MATT: 13? Okay. You can see the goliath, Vedmire, lowers his head. “I accept. Jazna?” She looks over. “It seems you lack what has kept me alive all these years: a spine. Kill me. I'd rather not stay at your beck and call.”

TRAVIS: Okay.

TALIESIN: Grog.

TRAVIS: I reach over and I take out my greataxe and I aim it for her neck.

MATT: Okay, as, did you swing or just aim it?

TRAVIS: Yeah, swing for the neck. Beheading-style.

MATT: Make a strength check.

TRAVIS: Natural 20.

(laughter)

LIAM: Merry Christmas, Travis.

MATT: As you pull the axe out and you walk alongside with it almost like a cane, look down at her–

TRAVIS: Yeah, like a cane.

MATT: (impact noise) And with speed and deftness where no one sees the blade make contact, there is a moment where the head just drifts off the form, leaving the base, the throat cleanly cleaven. Cloven, if you will, sorry. There's a moment of pause before the blood begins to pour from the wound, it was so fast and so immediate, and the body just slumps forward. There's a gasp in the crowd suddenly, and then a cheer as the locals now see one of the people that probably oppressed, tortured, and killed many of their folk now lies on the ground, killed.

TRAVIS: I look at the axe and look at the blood covering it and I look over at Duke Gonad and I say, so, where are you from and how did you come to be in the service of the Briarwoods?

MATT: “I was hired in Wildemount.”

TRAVIS: Do I know where that is?

MATT: You don't. You've heard it said before. You've heard it mentioned, but you have no idea where it is.

TRAVIS: Right, the holy lands of the sacred– all right.

SAM: Are you okay, your honor?

TRAVIS: Yes, thank you for– I am quite tired. Would you like to take it from here?

SAM: No.

TALIESIN: While we always must dispense our justice, this is now a town of mercy as well. And I will expect nothing less from all of us than to give what we have lacked for so long. Duke.

SAM: Let hers be the last blood shed.

TALIESIN: Earn your life again.

MATT: He nods and looks down. You can't tell if it's shame or just defeat, but his shoulders slump and that little bit of fire that was in him when he arrived is broken. The men look at you, they get your nod and they lift the chains and pull them off while a couple of the men pick up the body of the half-orc woman and pull them out of the crowd. The music swells up once again, and the celebration continues without a beat. You can now see tables being brought out to the center and glasses are set about and drinks are being poured as a giant central table right at the base of the Sun Tree is set for you.

TALIESIN: They've just had this shit in a Tupperware container, like in those big bins in the back for the last five years with like duct-tape lids.

MATT: It's not a grand meal, there hasn't been a lot of time to prepare for it, but basically what it looks like is whoever is preparing dinner or whatever food was readily available, they're just bringing it out. It's more of like a share-with-whoever's-there type effort.

MARISHA: Aw, it's a potluck.

MATT: Kind of.

SAM: I find a young boy.

MATT: Yes, Scanlan?

SAM: Or a soldier, and I give him 15 gold and I say, for the love of god, find me a fucking beret.

MATT: “All right, sir.” And the boy takes the gold and rushes off, looking in his hands at the boon he's been given by this practically-same-height man. They don't see gnomes here very often; it's been very confusing.

TALIESIN: I want to take some time to tell Keeper Yennen about what is beneath the tree and let him start to macerate some theories on what to do–

TRAVIS: Macerate? That's a big word.

MATT: After you finish this conversation, he sits there and–

TALIESIN: It's a word for big name. Thank you. Do it.

MATT: A few moments pass before the boy returns, in his hand a (singing) raspberry beret, the kind you find in a secondhand store.

SAM: Oh, feels good.

LAURA: Make it look cooler on him, because he made it look dorky.

TALIESIN: It's a beret. I don't think he made it dorky. I think it comes with that already sewn in.

LAURA: There it is, looks good. It looks good, Scanlan.

SAM: Thank you, young boy. Whatever your name was. What was your name, young boy?

MARISHA: Make it good.

MATT: “Randall?”

SAM: Thank you, Randall. You've made me a very happy small man.

MATT: And he brings you the change.

SAM: Oh no, keep the change, it's all right. Go buy yourself a goose. The biggest goose in town.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: With a beret.

MATT: And he darts off excitedly. You catch him out of the corner of your eye like stealing a swig of beer–

SAM: Brandon Gilmore, that was his young name.

LAURA: Brandon Gilmore?

SAM: Yes.

MATT: Thank you, Brandon. So after you finish regaling this tale to Keeper Yennen, let's see if I have a proper song for celebration.

TRAVIS: I'm doing my best to empty the cask of ale into the town patrons and myself.

TALIESIN: I don't know if that's– less aviary than celebratory.

MATT: Yeah, unfortunately.

MARISHA: Can Keyleth go over and check out the Sun Tree?

MATT: Sure, as you're walking over there, we'll finish this conversation here. Yennen nods to himself and goes, “That is disconcerting. I'll reach out to a few of my contacts, see who we can bring here to inspect it. I may go down tomorrow myself and have a look. Is it safe?”

TALIESIN: No. There are traps. We've marked them. It's also disturbing.

MATT: “All right. I'll bring a trusted team down, then. If there's anyone you know who has vast historical or arcane knowledge, I would recommend possibly having them come take a look as well. Unfortunately, I'm rather limited in my teachings.”

SAM: Pike?

LAURA: Allura?

SAM: But she's not in town.

TALIESIN: We can send word.

MATT: “Please do.”

LAURA: What about Ryndarien?

MARISHA: Eskil?

MATT: There was Eskil Ryndarien, the archmage in Westruun.

LIAM: Yes. Either, both.

MATT: “Good, good, yes, anyone at all. Maybe I'll be able to glean something, but unfortunately most of our books were confiscated when the town was taken. However, I appreciate that, and at least for the time being, there doesn't seem to be any dead rising from the grave.”

SAM: If I may, Percy, may I make a suggestion?

TALIESIN: Is it going to be throwing the rest of my guns into a pit of acid?

SAM: No, but it will be spending some of your kingdom's money.

TALIESIN: Replacing the guns that you threw into a pit of acid.

SAM: Let's not talk about the guns.

TALIESIN: I really can't think of what else I'd want to talk about. Please, go ahead.

SAM: If most of their books have been taken from them, perhaps we could use some of the treasury to build a library.

TALIESIN: That is not a terrible idea, and it's possible that the books are still within the castle.

LAURA: It's possible that the Briarwoods have hoarded all of them. In fact, we might find something about this entity inside the castle.

TALIESIN: And we do need to build three new structures where the lords' houses were, and I find the idea of rebuilding those mansions to be a bit distasteful.

SAM: Perhaps we could even name one of the libraries Gilmore's Glorious Books.

TRAVIS: Set up a satellite chain?

TALIESIN: We will discuss it. It's got a ring, I will admit.

MATT: While you guys are having this conversation–

LIAM: Oh, I was just going to add to that, I'm sure the man can help in this city's time of need.

TALIESIN: You were doing something, as well.

MATT: Yes. Keyleth, at this point, as you've walked away from this conversation, you approach the Sun Tree. It stands there with a little bit of light as the sun's just now passing over the distant mountain range that surrounds this valley. The sky's growing more purple and dark blue. But now lights have been lit and lanterns have been brought to the center, you can see the Sun Tree in full before you.

MARISHA: I reach up and I put my hand on it and I cast Commune With Nature. Do I gather anything?

MATT: What does Commune With Nature do in full?

TALIESIN: It lets you commune with nature.

MARISHA: Essentially.

MATT: Oh, look at that, first page I open up to. Okay.

TALIESIN: It's like a DM version of natural 20.

LAURA: It is. Except he does it all the time.

MATT: Okay, so which do you want to know, of all the things that you can choose from?

MARISHA: Oh, what are my choices?

MATT: You can choose from terrain or bodies of water in the vicinity; prevalent plants, minerals, animals, or peoples; powerful celestials, fey, fiends, or elementals or undead within 300 feet of it– or sorry, within three miles of it; influence from other planes of existence; or buildings.

MARISHA: The influence of other planes of existence sounds promising.

MATT: Okay, you gain three facts. So, first off, you notice as you touch the Sun Tree and you cast the spell, whereas previously you felt just dead wood and a lack of any presence, there is a small seed of life in the tree once again.

MARISHA: That's good.

MATT: We'll call that the first one, as a given. As you inquire about any other planes of existence, you do sense that at least some element nearby relates to a realm of shadow.

LAURA: That's obvious.

MARISHA: Yeah, sure, okay.

MATT: And what's the third one you want to know?

MARISHA: Oh, I get a choice?

MATT: Yep.

MARISHA: I didn't know I had a choice.

MATT: You don't have to ask anything else if you don't want to, if you got everything you wanted.

MARISHA: I want to know if– god, so many options. Is it going to be a good growing season this spring? Crops going to be good? It's going to be a good harvest moon?

LAURA: Ask how it's feeling, can you ask how it's feeling?

MARISHA: How's it feeling? Can I ask the tree how it's feeling, can I be like, “Hey tree. How are you doing today?”

MATT: That is very Keyleth.

MARISHA: You doing all right? How do you feel between all this, about all this?

MATT: You sense–

SAM: Hey, boo.

MARISHA: Hey, boo.

MATT: You sense weariness, like something very old that has been asleep for a very long time has woken up.

MARISHA: Does it feel positive?

MATT: Positive.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: The Sun Tree, seemingly kept at bay, locked away, what bit of its life force it managed to maintain had been contained for so long and is now finally free.

MARISHA: Can I just say, good morning, old friend.

MATT: You sense the tree saying, “The sun just set. It's not morning.”

MARISHA: I go, oh shit. And then I turn to Percy and I say, the tree talked to me.

TALIESIN: In that ancient way that trees talk.

MARISHA: You just had a smoke monster you were talking to, is it that hard to believe?

MATT: (Ent voice) It's… not… morning…

TALIESIN: Thank you.

LIAM: I watched her walk up to the tree and I followed her–

TRAVIS and SAM: Oh no.

LAURA: Here we go.

LIAM: Here we go. I follow her up and I don't say anything, but I see one hand on the tree and without saying anything–

TRAVIS: I walk up behind Vax and I pants him.

LAURA: Yes!

TRAVIS: And I grab the back of his collar and pull backwards.

SAM: That's the revenge.

LIAM: Are you going to roll anything?

MATT: Okay. So.

LIAM: I'm not sure what he did though. Pantsing?

TRAVIS: I grabbed your pants and I pulled them down to your ankles.

LIAM: But what's the part about the collar?

TRAVIS: I grabbed the back of your neck and pulled you backwards with your pants around your ankles.

LIAM: Okay. He's got to roll, but if it happens, it happens.

MATT: Right. I would consider this a grapple check. So it's your athletics versus your acrobatics.

LAURA: What about the pantsing? Is that included?

MATT: That is the pantsing.

TRAVIS: 20, plus–

MATT: Wait, natural 20?

TRAVIS: No, 19 plus– 26. My athletics is plus seven.

LIAM: I rolled a 32.

TRAVIS: Damn it.

MATT: As you reach out and are about to grasp the sides, he leaps straight up in the air and then lands a foot in front of you. You grab nothing and see him glance over his shoulder and tsk-tsk.

LIAM: I knew that was going to happen.

TRAVIS: That's all right. It could've been now. It'll just be worse later.

SAM: Nice try, Grog.

LIAM: You already took my left nut off my body.

TRAVIS: Oh, please. That was but appetizers for the main course, my friend.

LIAM: All right, so that's challenge number one, now challenge number two. So, I still don't say anything besides (inhale) as I jump to the side really fast to not loose my breeches. And she's got one hand on the tree, and I just quietly, with her free hand and my free hand, try to lace my fingers with hers.

MATT: Against the tree?

LAURA: Oh my gosh, you guys are boyfriend and girlfriend now.

MATT: As you finish your awkward it's-not-morning conversation with the essence of the Sun Tree–

TALIESIN: It's morning somewhere.

MARISHA: As I'm talking, good morning, Sun Tree.

MATT: You feel a strange alien hand in your left free hand for a moment, unexpectedly.

MARISHA: I jump and I yank away instinctually.

MATT: Okay, she pulls away from it and looks over her shoulder with a bit of surprise and sudden horror.

LIAM: I shrug and look.

MARISHA: I was just talking to the tree. It talked back.

LIAM: I don't say anything.

(long pause)

MARISHA: (giggling) Everyone is hiding.

SAM: I'm giving them privacy.

LAURA: You get privacy. It's your moment.

MATT: So? Vax just stands there, not saying anything, just looking at you.

LIAM: I already said it.

MATT: Don't look at them.

MARISHA: I'm sorry. I don't know. I'm really confused.

LIAM: Vax says, all right. And walks off.

MARISHA: Wait. I'd be lying if I said often at night when I go to sleep, your face isn't the last thing that crosses my mind. But with the weight of the world and the weight of the contact-embarrassment from our fellow party, currently, it's hard to focus on. (hesitantly) You said that when you were near death. We say a lot of things when we're near death. How do I know that's what you were truly feeling?

LIAM: I didn't say it out loud, I just thought it.

MATT: No, you told her.

MARISHA: Oh yeah, no, you said that out loud. Yeah, no, that wasn't in your head.

LIAM: I wore a mask for a long time, where I grew up. And I'm not going to do that anymore. I'll wait.

MARISHA: Wait?

LIAM: For you.

MARISHA: Okay. I don't know what else to say right now. I'm really tired. Really tired. I think there's also a part of me that's just afraid.

LIAM: I feel like I'm going to get pantsed by a goliath at any moment. Don't do anything. Don't change anything. I haven't lied. I've told the truth. If you'll have me, I'm yours. If you don't want me, I understand. And that's all there is to say. And then I actually walk off.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: I stay by the tree.

MATT: Okay. As this is happening and he walks off, you guys are there at the table, just now noticing the both of them have been missing. You see Keyleth, stunned, standing by the Sun Tree as Keeper Yennen approaches you once again and goes, “My friends. We have a lot of work to do and it would not be fair for me to assume, as you've already done so much for us, but it has been a while since we've had much to celebrate in this town, and this evening seems a fine improvisational event. But we have two weeks until the Winter's Crest festival would be happening here in Whitestone, something we have not celebrated in near five years. I would just ask, should you be interested, if you would wish to stay with us these next couple of weeks to help us rebuild and perhaps aid in preparing the first real shining moment in Whitestone's history since you were gone.”

LAURA: Percival?

TALIESIN: I would be very grateful.

LAURA: We're here.

TALIESIN: We shall.

MATT: Cassandra nods, as well.

LAURA: Keeper, may I ask for a small request? Could you maybe send a wonderfully worded letter to Uriel and let him know how we saved the day and how much you love us?

MATT: He looks very confused. “I imagine that could be– I assume that could be done, yes.”

LAURA: That would be wonderful. Make sure you mention how terrible the Briarwoods were and how Vox Machina saved the day. Truly saved it–

SAM: We can write it for you if you just want to sign it at the bottom.

LIAM: That guy's going to wake up this morning and go, “oh, I'm an asshole.”

LAURA: Please? Yes, that would be wonderful.

MATT: “All right. It'll be done.”

LAURA: Thank you.

TRAVIS: Facepalm.

LIAM: “Aw, what was I thinking. Oh.”

MATT: And so as the rest of you join in the merriment, or whatever else you wish to do for the evening, looking about post-sunset as night descends on Whitestone, to the first clear sky since you've arrived. To the first evening where you can hear smiles, cheers, and laughter, we'll pick up next week with the Winter's Crest festival in Whitestone.

(cheering)

LAURA: You should've kissed her, it was the perfect moment!

LIAM: I already did it.

LAURA: No but it was the perfect moment!

LIAM: You don't want it to happen anyway.

LAURA: I don't care, this is out of character! It would have been the perfect moment!

LIAM: I never said I was smart.

MATT: It makes for fun drama. That was crazy.

TRAVIS: How am I going to beat your acrobatics?

LIAM: You are not.

ZAC: So we gotta get ready for Critmas. So we're going to go offline and back up so we can make sure we get this episode uploaded to you guys on Monday. The longer the video, the longer it takes to transcode and sometimes makes it take longer to get up, so we'll be going offline and then right back up for Critmas, guys.

LAURA: Yay!

MATT: See you back here in just a few minutes, guys. Don't leave. We'll be here!

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