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List of Transcripts

Pre-ShowEdit

MATT: Welcome back, everybody.

SAM: Are we in sync?

MATT: Hopefully. There it is. Okay. Anyway, welcome back! Thank you again for your patience, we're going to kick into this really fast. However, back to the matter at hand, we are sponsored tonight by Marvel Puzzle Quest. Sam, once again please.

SAM: Once again, I hope people can hear. Marvel Puzzle Quest is an awesomely addictive role playing puzzle game where Marvel's fearless superheroes come to life! You can download it now on the iTunes, the Google Play, the Amazon App Store, and the Steam. And now, a rare 5-star Spider-man has arrived in Marvel Puzzle Quest just in time for Spider-man: Homecoming, the movie. You can recruit Spidey and play in two new boss missions featuring the Sinister Six. Face the Vulture, or recruit him as a supervillain for your team. Now, to celebrate the awesomeness that is Marvel Puzzle Quest, I have another one of my famous puzzles for Taliesin.

TALIESIN: All right! Bring it!

SAM: Which of the following is an actual enemy from the game Marvel Puzzle Quest, and which is the name of an actual movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

TALIESIN: Oh no. I am genuinely in trouble!

SAM: Hitman!

TALIESIN: Oh no, that's a DC character.

SAM: That's an enemy. Brawler!

TALIESIN: That's a Jean-Claude Van Damme.

SAM: No. Timecop!

TALIESIN: *That* is a Jean-Claude Van Damme!

(laughter)

SAM: Century Fighter!

TALIESIN: That's--

MATT: What is it, Taliesin?

TALIESIN: I don't know! JCVD! This is so painful.

SAM: Game enemy.

TALIESIN: Oh my god!

SAM: Kickboxer!

TALIESIN: That is a Jean-Claude Van Damme.

SAM: Bloodsport!

TALIESIN: Also a Jean-Claude Van Damme! And also, I think a Marvel villain, as well.

SAM: Cyborg!

TALIESIN: That's a DC hero.

SAM: That is also a Jean-Claude Van Damme. I'll skip a couple of these. Okay. Defender!

TALIESIN: That is a--

SAM: Actual enemy from the game.

TALIESIN: Yeah, Marvel enemy.

SAM: The Expendables! Double Impact!

TALIESIN: I'm not even going to-- yeah okay.

SAM: JCVD!

(laughter)

TALIESIN: The only Jean-Claude Van Damme film I've seen.

SAM: Okay. And one more for bonus. Killing Machine. That's a trick; it's a Dolph Lundgren movie.

TALIESIN: I have never been so baffled in my life! That was amazing!

SAM: Marvel Puzzle Quest! Marvel Puzzle Quest.

TALIESIN: Marvel Puzzle Quest.

LAURA: Go play it!

MATT: Thank you guys so much. All right so, merch updates, Laura!

LAURA: Yes! Okay, you guys. I gots, you know, just a few, just stuff. So, you know the David Mack poster? It looks like some people have requested, so the poster-- not the signed one! But the unsigned one is going to be for sale for a few days extra, so there's that, that's happening.

SAM: Hey, that's good news!

LAURA: That's good news. Also good news is that some stuff is out of stock in the store, but all of it is going to the manufacturers right now, so things are getting made! So things'll be back in stock very soon.

SAM: Laura, is something wrong with your head?

LAURA: And! Actually, I think that's about it. There's still like, the shirts. Some sizes are available but some of them are out of stock, and that's all being reprinted. So you guys, it'll be back in the store very soon. Go check out the store!

TRAVIS: That was the bubbliest she's ever been over a three-month span.

TALIESIN: I'm blaming the shirt, man.

LAURA: It's the strawberries.

MATT: Something that they recently announced in regards to the podcast. Right?

MARISHA: Oh my gosh, guys! Episodes 11 through 21? 21.

TRAVIS: 20.

MARISHA: 20? Yeah. 11 to 20 are out, right now. The other next batch of 10 should be out in a couple of weeks or so. But you can find that on iTunes and Google Play.

SAM: Yay!

TRAVIS: I listened to it on my ride today. Your ads are funny. You introduce an ep, I introduce an ep.

LAURA: Aw, that's exciting.

TALIESIN: Oh, that's right. I'd forgotten about that.

MATT: We have another announcement. Travis, you want to take this one?

TRAVIS: Yeah! Yeah. We went and lost our collective damn minds for a second year in a row and at GenCon this year, we gon' be doing Critical Role live once again! It's coming back. Second year. This time it will be Friday August 18th, at the Murat Theater at Old National Center. It's going to be broadcast on both Twitch and Alpha, and we're going to have general admission seats and VIP package seats which will be the first like, few rows of the theater. You guys'll get like, a whole hour show before the actual show starts, so you'll get early admission. Brian Foster from Talks Machina will be in there.

MARISHA: (gasps) Brian Foster!

TRAVIS: We're going to have a whole pre-show specifically for the VIP seats. We're going to have a gift package! A special gift bag. And the tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 10:00 am Pacific. What's PDT?

SAM: Pacific Daylight Time.

TRAVIS: Oh! That one! 10:00 AM PDT.

SAM: When we're in daylight savings time, it's DT. PST is when we're not in daylight savings.

TALIESIN: I just learned that.

TRAVIS: I just did too, that was great! And a ticketing link can be found on geekandsundry.com tomorrow morning 10 AM B-- no PDT! Help me. I'm stroking out.

LAURA: Tickets are on sale tomorrow!

TRAVIS: Tickets on sale tomorrow! General admission and VIP seats! VIP seats are limited. So it's first come, first serve.

LAURA: Well, yeah.

MATT: All right, awesome! Thank you, Travis! So excited about that, guys! So we'll see you guys at Gen Con. We have some fun stuff coming up there at San Diego Comic-Con! We announced the panel we have. That is on...

TRAVIS: Saturday, 10:30.

LAURA: It's 10:30?

TRAVIS: 10:30 AM.

LAURA: Sweet.

TRAVIS: It's at room 3 letters. BCD?

TALIESIN and MARISHA:PDT (laugh)

MATT: We put it out on socials, so keep an eye out for that. We'll have our schedule up here and stuff, for Comic-Con available up. So hopefully we'll see you guys there! Let's see, we have this week's Signal Boost went up with our buddy, Mischa Pollack.

MARISHA: Oh yeah, Mischa!

MATT: Been friends with him since high school, and he's an awesome gentleman. Extremely talented, extremely smart man, so check out his episode of Signal Boost. I like it a lot. Wednesday Club! Thank you for having me on last night.

TALIESIN: Thank you being on our show! It was fun.

MATT: New episode next week?

TALIESIN: Yeah, we're going to be doing, in honor of the new sets that have been happening everywhere, we're doing a secret headquarters where we're going to be talking about famous superhero headquarters and everything from like, old school stuff and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, to the Titan's tower, all the fun stuff. It'll be cool.

MATT: And the new series Dread went up today! Taliesin and I were players in the awesome Dread show that Ivan Van Norman runs. My mic is whack?

SAM: Yes, your mic is whack.

MATT: Where'd my mic go?

TRAVIS: They're working on it.

MARISHA: You guys can send in Chris to adjust it. It's okay! They know we're a show with a sound guy. There's no real illusion. Sound guy Chris!

TRAVIS: Chris is a Libra. His interests include underwater basket weaving.

LAURA: Yes, long walks on the beach.

SAM: He has more than one nipple, but less than five.

(laughter)

LIAM: It's an interesting tech night. Ash and I are Skyping in from the USCSS Nostromo, which is a Weyland-Yutani vessel and if we fart out it's because we've been eaten by xenomorphs. Sorry.

SAM: Can't hear Ashley at all. Liam is totally overpowered. I love it

LIAM: (creepy voice) Samuel.

MATT: All right guys! Well, that being the case, let's dive into tonight's episode of Critical Role!

[dramatic music]

Part IEdit

MATT: Hello, everyone, and welcome back. Hopefully, with a fixed microphone?

SAM: We'll find out!

CHRIS: We're good!

MATT: Ah, perfect, awesome! Yeah, I love it! All right, so to get you guys get caught up to speed with what we did in recent episodes.

(muffled dramatic music)

SAM: Is that you, Liam?

MATT: Anyway. Last we left off, Vox Machina had confronted the Whispered One, the Undying King Vecna, in the Shadowfell. The battle did not go in your favor, with the death and very faint recovery of Vex, and the disintegration of Vax during this confrontation. Realizing that it was not going in your favor, you Plane Shifted to the Feywild, where you began to come up with some sort of plot or plan to try and bring your friend, Vax, back without a body. During this time Vax had a conversation with his patron, the Raven Queen, and was given an offer where he could return along with powers that would aid in this coming final confrontation. However, the deal came with some drawbacks, and upon his friends awakening the next morning in the Feywild, they found Vax returned to them, whole. Seemingly alive, returned, though missing his equipment. Equipment returned, and a brief period of figuring out what possibly delivered their friend back to this space. It was decided that based on his experience with his patron that the the powers beyond the Divine Gate-- the Prime Gods that lay claim to the divine beyond the Prime Material plane will probably be the next best bet in gaining some sort of power, information about how to better prepare for the coming struggle with Vecna, the Whispered One.

You then made your way to Vasselheim, where Pike went to her temple of Sarenrae which she had helped raise and reconstruct, and had a vision from her patron deity asking her to come visit her at the Island of Renewal, and was granted, through this vision, an object that would link your spell, a way to traverse past the Divine Gate and directly to her location on the plane of Elysium. Also, Grog and Scanlan had a little excursion in the city of Vasselheim and a minor altercation with the guards, which led to a larger altercation with the guards, which lea to a much larger altercation with the guards, which led to them barely escaping and deciding it's time to go.

TRAVIS: We can't go back.

MARISHA: Vasselheim's most wanted?

MATT: Yeah. You guys then clasped hands, and using the Plane Shift spell found yourselves stepping down on the crunching sand-like shores of the Island of Renewal. There looking past the clusters of stone and trees that mark the perimeter of this interesting, beautiful, strange distant landscape. You can see beyond the tree line and the hills that jut up from the floor the crystalline structure that seems to mark the center of the Island, and that is where we left off. What would you guys like to do?

LAURA: Did you say the sand is made of pearls?

MATT: It appears to be, yeah. The granules of the sand are too big to be tiny sand granules they're about pearl-size, maybe a little bit smaller. And they're smooth, and they seem to reflect the light in a very beautiful way.

LAURA: I just want to take a handful and look at them.

ASHLEY: Oh, can we make a body scrub?

LAURA: Good idea, Pike. I'm going to take a good handful and put it in a pouch and save them.

SAM: Microdermabrasion.

LAURA: They're micro-plastic beads that have washed up on the shore.

ASHLEY: I'm going to take a little bit, too.

MATT: Okay, so you gather up some of these pearlescent beads of some kind and fill up a small pouch of them and put it amongst the rest of your belongings. All righty, anything else you guys wish to do to prepare. What do you want to do?

SAM: Oh god. We're going to go see Sarenrae, right?

TRAVIS: Yeah, you know like one does. Fucking jauntily walk up.

LIAM: (distorted) And you said that that tower was full of some sort of flame, right?

SAM: Sorry, robot Liam!

MARISHA: No, I wanted two cheeseburgers. What did you say?

LIAM: (in speak-and-spell voice) I am richer for having known you.

TRAVIS: Thank you! Much better!

MATT: What did you say?

LIAM: I said (robot noises). You said that that tower had, was full of some sort of flame, right?

MATT: Yes, and the, what little you can see it seems to form this torso of a feminine structure, the body of which give out these wings that curl upward. Held amongst the center of these wings is a large, gem-like flame. And you see within the actual crystalline-- we'll call it like a palace, if you will-- it looks like there's a light source within that flickers and dances like an eternal bonfire or flame, and it seems to have a pulse to it.

LIAM: I'm sure that this is unnecessary, but I'm going to start thinking about setting the Death Walker's Ward to fire damage.

MATT: Okay, so you guys want to take a short rest to do so?

LAURA and SAM: Oh.

MARISHA: Do we need a short rest?

LIAM: It's a 20-minute thing. Well, I don't have to, if everyone else wants to start.

SAM: We're not in a rush, right? 20 minutes won't kill us.

LAURA: I guess. Sure.

MATT: Okay. So you take the better part of an hour, half an hour or so, 40 minutes or so, for a short rest to reset your armor to fire resist. Any other preparations?

SAM: Yeah, well hey. I'm no expert on the religious arts, but we have this eye of doom with us. Should we really be bringing this into a holy place of goodness?

LAURA: I don't know.

TALIESIN: I think, if anything, it might be even less effective here.

SAM: But what if it knows where we are and can somehow get an advantage and kill Sarenrae or something? I don't know

LAURA: I feel like we should definitely ask Sarenrae about it. But it's a little late to get rid of it now.

TALIESIN: Other than your pocket dimension.

MARISHA: It's in the Bag of Holding, right?

TRAVIS: Nope.

ASHLEY: I have it. I have the eyeball in the box.

SAM: Is it still in the box? Can you shake the box and make sure there's something still in there?

LAURA: Don't open the box!

SAM: Don't open the box! Just shake it.

LAURA: Does it feel like there's an eyeball if you shake it? Just shake it and feel. Does it shake around?

MATT: (rattling noise) It does rattle a little bit. Like a peeled wet grape, you hear it sloshing around inside.

ASHLEY: (laughs) Ew.

TALIESIN: Best Halloween trick ever.

TRAVIS: Can you crush the tiny granules on the ground in between your fingers, if you try really hard?

MATT: Do you try?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I try real hard.

MATT: Okay, you pick one up, and you (grunts) push. Make a strength check.

TRAVIS: 23.

MATT: (grunts and strains) No.

LAURA: Whoa! They're titanium pearls!

MARISHA: It would be good for microdermabrasion!

LAURA: It really would. Wow.

ASHLEY: Could I put my hand in the water? Just a (doot).

MATT: You step back a bit to where the shore is. The water is gently brushing against the shore and then pulls back. There's no heavy waves. The current is this steady, almost relaxing, undulating sound. This (steady whoosh). You reach over and place your hand within, and you feel the water soak into the inside of the plates of your gauntlet. It's warm. It's probably the equivalent of a good 75, 80 degrees. It would be wonderful beach water.

ASHLEY: Okay. Guys, it feels so nice.Should we go for just a little bit of a swim while he attunes to his--

SAM: Probably, yes.

MARISHA: I walk over to Pike and put my feet in the water with her, stand on the edge.

TRAVIS: Me, too.

TALIESIN: Oh, also.

LIAM: I put my cold feet in, since I have no shoes.


TALIESIN: Wow!

LAURA: Shameful.

TRAVIS: Is there a sun? A point of light in the sky?

MATT: The sky is gently dappled with faint wisps of cloud and is blue and beautiful, but you do not see a particular sun in the sky. Though the light seems to be ever-present, what faint shadows you see seem to be almost from multi-directional light. There is no actual sun in the sky that you can see.

TRAVIS: The light appears ever-present. Strange.

LAURA: Wow, Grog.

TRAVIS: Ow.

LAURA: I'm going to keep an eye out, see if there's any movement in the fields while he's attuning his armor.

MATT: Perception check, please.

LAURA: 24.

MATT: All right. As you guys sit there waiting at the edge of the shoreline, keeping a watch across the waters and the edges of where the beach begins to slowly form into the rolling hills and the sparse bits of trees that you see marking the interior of the island, there's no change. It's almost like whatever pattern is here is a set pattern, or at least, any alterations or changes would be over a very prolonged period of time. You see no signs of any other life. You see no signs of any other beings walking within your immediate eyesight.

LAURA: Does it feel nice?

MATT: It feels nice. It feels comfortable. It's welcoming, if a little quiet.

TRAVIS: When this rest is over, do we know what direction we're going in?

LAURA, MARISHA, and TALIESIN: Towards the tower.

TRAVIS: Jeez, not everybody at fucking once. All right. Shit.

MARISHA: Well, you had such good observation skills with the whole ever-present light thing.

TRAVIS: What does that mean?

MARISHA: Man. You're always a surprise. And after so many years.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

MARISHA: I look at Pike. I say, Pike, this place is beautiful. It's incredible, and I don't think we would be here if it wasn't for you and your connection to Sarenrae. And I'm honored to be here with all of you all. And to see this place with Vax. This makes me happy. Just this moment. This is nice. (sighs) I love you all.

SAM: We love you, too.

LAURA: We love you, too Keyleth.

ASHLEY: I love you, Kiki.

SAM: Just to be clear--

MARISHA: And I use my inspiring leader feat.

(laughter)

SAM: I was just about to ask, was that well-thought-out speech inspirational?

MATT: All right, so level 18 that you are, with no charisma modifier correct? Everyone gains 18 temporary hit points.

TRAVIS: Damn!

LAURA: Are we all healed up and healthy now?

MATT: You did take a long rest. Yeah.

TALIESIN: Oh, we did take a long rest.

MATT: There were some healing spells spent on Pike's end and dealing with eye that was recovered, I think. And then you with the Plane Shift.

SAM: Me and Grog got shot a few times.

MATT: Yeah, you got to heal a little bit.

SAM: But I can use some hit dice.

MATT: Yes, you can, during the short rest.

LAURA: These Boots of Haste, I don't have to attune to them? They're not attunable, right? Or do I have to attune to them?

LIAM: Yes, darling, they are. They're attunable

LAURA: Okay, that's fine. Then I'm just going to unattune my bracers and attune my Boots of Haste that I have on. I'm going to spend the next ten minutes cleaning them up and making them look really pretty.

TALIESIN: You know that you're going to get them back next long rest.

MATT: All right. So you've attuned to the Boots of Haste.

SAM: Yes.

LAURA: I'm going to get so much shit online.

MATT: Broomgate 2.0. (laughs)

LIAM: No. It's exactly what she would do when you almost lose somebody.

TRAVIS: (laughs) Keep it coming.

MARISHA: I'm so proud. He's as cold as his skin is right now.

LAURA: Don't die anymore.

LIAM: It's in character. I mean, don't give her a hard time.

MATT: All right, so you guys finish resting. It is comfortable. It is nice here and especially, in the rush of the current state of things, this brief moment of respite feels so removed from that race, that chaos, that ever-present fear and doubt. And later you know, whether, that it's the surroundings or the general nature of the plane that you're in, but it's soothing. It's comforting. As you finish your attunement to the item, you finish your new attunement to your resistance, you guys gather your things, step out of the water, put your footwear back on, and what would you like to do?

SAM: Walk towards the busty lady.

MATT: What's the marching order?

TALIESIN: Oh, really?

LAURA: We're going to have to fight things in this beautiful place?

ASHLEY: I'll go first.

TALIESIN: Ash in front.

MATT: Okay, Ashley's in front. Who's next?

TRAVIS: I'm with Pike.

MATT: All right, Grog's right up there with Pike.

LAURA: I'll be behind Grog.

TALIESIN: I'll be with you.

LAURA: Lovely.

LIAM: I'm going to trail sheepishly behind Keyleth.

MARISHA: I was about to say, I don't leave Vax's side.

LAURA: Trinket is out.

MATT: Trinket is out?

LAURA: And he is walking between-- behind me and Percy. Yeah.

SAM: And as always, I'll enjoy the rear.

TRAVIS: Yeah, you will.

MATT: Okay then. All righty, so with Pike leading on and approaching the pathways that lead towards the center of the island, the rolling hills ascend higher and higher, the further towards where the distant crystal monolith resides. Up from the soft, pearl like sand to reveal large obelisks of carved rectangular stone at off-kilter angles, jutting out of the ground in places. You had seen some of these at a distance when you arrived and you as well in your vision Pike, earlier. The trees you walk past begin to slowly thin out to replace some of these stone structures. You can almost see this outer ring of nature that encloses the inner portion of this island.

The wind is now warm against your skin as it begins to whip through this area and you can hear (wind) tear through some of the openings between these ever densely growing clusters of stone work. Occasionally, these stonework structures resemble figures of old ancient figureheads from the Age of Arcanum, who bore the embrace of the Everlight with them before her following fell from grace. You can see the ravages of time and the diminishing of her influence following the Divergence are shown on some of these figures as they appear to be sheared or cracked or broken in places. But still, no sign of anything else moving on the island.

TALIESIN: Does it look like people are avoiding us or does it look like this is not a place of--

MATT: Make a perception check.

TALIESIN: All right. I had a funny feeling you would say that. 12.

MATT: You see no signs of any movement, any foot tracks. No signs of anything in the vicinity that would lead you to believe that you're being avoided or being watched.

LIAM: Does it look like anyone has been here for a very long time?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

LIAM: Oh, I'm not going to waste luck on that. That's a one. I have no idea what's going in this fucking place.

MATT: Pike, you lead on. You make your way through these tangled paths and they shift and curve and turn and the light never seems to change overhead and as you hike along and chat amongst yourselves and keep open to the vicinity around you and you're breathing in the clean air with hints of seaspray and saltiness that eventually make its way through the breeze. You can feel parts of you sweat beneath your armor, from the general warmth of the atmosphere, and you travel for about an hour. Pike and Vex and Vax and Keyleth, you pick up on this, too. The crystalline structure in the center of the island doesn't appear to be any closer.

TRAVIS: Shit.

MARISHA: Didn't we go through something like this before?

TALIESIN: We literally went through this before.

LAURA: We had really think about being there, is that what we had to do?

LIAM: Yes. Pike, do you think you need to talk to her somehow? Or call to her somehow?

ASHLEY: Yeah. Okay, I'm going to pull out the key again.

MATT: Okay. The metallic loop. The curved piece of metal. Okay.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

TRAVIS: (quietly) There is no spoon.

ASHLEY: There is no spoon. Sarenrae, we have travelled very far and we are here and if you could give us any guidance to get closer to you I would be forever grateful.

MATT: You say this out loud?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. You look out before you, still staring at the crystal structure. No response.

ASHLEY: Okay, I repeat that again in my head.

MATT: Okay, so you say it back to yourself in your head?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Ticking them off, one at a time. Here we go.

MATT: Okay. So you look forward at the crystalline structure, looking at its form, and focus on those words on the inside of your head. No response.

LAURA: Maybe we have to let her know we're here.

SAM: Pikey-poo. Pikey-pants. You had a religious thing and talked to your god, right?

ASHLEY: Say again?

SAM: You talked to Sarenrae briefly, right?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: Did she invite you or all of us?

LAURA: Oh shit. Is this a thing where you think you're invited to a party, so you bring your whole crew and then maybe realize they weren't invited?

SAM: Do you want to walk solo for ten minutes and see if you are, solo, getting any closer?

TALIESIN: We'll keep you in ear contact.

LIAM: Is this like party hopping at Comic Con?

LAURA: Yeah. Get us on the list. Once you're in there, then we'll join you in line.

TALIESIN: See how many wristbands you can get.

ASHLEY: Okay. I'll keep walking and I'll keep looking back, thumbs up, and I'll see what I can find.

MATT: Okay. You walk forward and you can look back at your friends and you continue to walk forward towards the structure. You eventually begin to weave between these stone obelisks, which get dense and overlap to the point where maybe at about a hundred feet ahead, you lose sight of Pike.

LAURA: I want to get on my broom and fly up in the air and see if I can see her from the air.

MATT: Okay. You fly up in the air and you look down and you see her. She's right beyond where you lost sight of her originally, and she's walking forward.

LAURA: Okay, okay. How you doing Pike?


ASHLEY: Good, good. Just traveling over these stone structures.

MATT: All right, you watch Pike, you walk for another ten minutes or so on your own, and you watch her travel and like as you focus, she's travelling, but she's still the same distance from everyone else she was when she left. She went just beyond eyeline and then it's weird. Like it doesn't make sense. You watched her maneuver and change and shift around things yet she hasn't gotten any further or any closer.

MARISHA: So is it like a side-scrolling background?

MATT: In a way, I guess.

LAURA: What? And I turn around and the ocean is still where it was, behind us? Pike.

ASHLEY: Does it look like I've gotten far? I feel like I've gone real far.

LAURA: I don't think you've gone far at all, dear. I think you're in the same place.

TALIESIN: I've got a weird theory.

MARISHA: Is the terrain repeating itself? What was your theory?

TALIESIN: Maybe this is vision based. Maybe we have to close our eyes.

LAURA: How did we do this before?

TRAVIS: I like this. Let's walk with our eyes closed.

LAURA: Maybe we just have to think really hard about being at the tower.

TRAVIS: I close my eyes and I start walking straight ahead.

MATT: (laughs) As Grog closes his eyes and starts walking.

LAURA: I close my eyes and I think really hard about being directly in front of the tower.

MATT: Okay. Anybody else want to do anything?

MARISHA: I start walking the opposite direction.

TRAVIS: Eyes closed or open?

MARISHA: Away from the tower, with my eyes open.

LIAM: I stand confused and watch Kiki leave us.

MATT: Okay. Keyleth turns away.

TALIESIN: I spin three times in a circle.

MATT: What are you doing Pike?

ASHLEY: I'm going to stand there and think about being closer to the tower with my eyes closed.

MATT: Okay. You all begin to close your eyes and begin walking and start wandering in different directions and bumping into pieces of stonework.

SAM: Bunch of cockroaches when you turn on the light.

MATT: Pike, you close your eyes for a moment and concentrate, and your vision is dark. You don't see the world around you, but within a few seconds of embracing this darkness, a sudden burst of light appears ahead, and you see a burning beacon visible in the direction where the crystal palace, was before you.

SAM: Just Pike?

MATT: Just Pike.

ASHLEY: So I'll try keeping my eyes closed and start walking towards it.

MATT: Okay. As you guys are figuring yourself out, and you are concentrating so hard on being there--

MARISHA: I will turn around. Is the tower any closer?

MATT: Nope.

MARISHA: Is it further?

MATT: Yep.

MARISHA: Shit. I walk back.

MATT: Okay. You join the rest of the group and you watch half your party still stumbling into pieces of stone. Pike, you with your eyes closed, still seeing this burning beacon, this like circular sphere wreathed in flame that just licks up as the flames slowly burn out of the bottom of this structure and flicker off into nothing. You step for about two minutes or so in its direction, and the heat gets warmer and warmer and warmer, and then you open your eyes for a moment and you're right in front of it.

ASHLEY: Hey, guys, can see me?

LAURA and SAM: Can we hear her?

MATT: You guys can hear her, yeah.

LAURA: Oh shit. I open my eyes.

MATT: You look down and she's right in front of the crystal structure.

LAURA: She got all the fucking way there. What did you do, Pike?

ASHLEY: I just thought about it. I closed my eyes and I started walking.

LAURA: That's what I fucking did.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I did, too. Ow.

LAURA: Open your eyes, Grog.

MARISHA: I walked the other way, and it definitely didn't work.

SAM: What is she doing that we're not doing? Her hair is partially braided. Maybe we should dye our hair blue, as well.

ASHLEY: Maybe you can only get here if you're a believer of Sarenrae.

SAM: Oh. I'm a believer. Can I try?

ASHLEY: (singing) I'm a believer.

SAM: All right.

MATT: You close your eyes?

SAM: Yeah. I'm going to clutch my symbol of Sarenrae and I'm going to close my eyes and I'm going to see if anything happens.

MATT: You sit there in silence for about a minute and a half as the darkness is there before you, pitch black. And you're clutching the symbol as hard as you can with your fingers, to the point where it's almost hurting your hand, and you see the faintest distant flicker.

SAM: I'm going to go towards it.

MATT: You guys watch Scanlan, eyes closed, begin walking towards the crystalline structure.

LAURA: It's working for him.

TALIESIN: I'm going to follow him.

LAURA: I'm going to try to follow him. I'm not going to aim for the tower, I'm going to try to get to Pike.

MATT: Okay. So you're going straight for Pike?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. And you're following Scanlan?

TALIESIN: Yeah. Just nonchalantly.

MATT: Okay. Vax? Keyleth? Grog?

MARISHA: What do we do?

TRAVIS: I'm not going anywhere.

ASHLEY: Come on, Grog.

TRAVIS: I'm confused. I want to see what happens to those two when they follow.

MATT: So what are you guys doing?

LIAM: How is it working? What are you guys doing?

MARISHA: They're believers.

SAM: Maybe you guys have to believe.

LIAM: Well, I think that the existence of a pantheon of gods is a well-established fact in our world, so I believe.

SAM: So poetic.

MARISHA: Do I have to believe deeper than that?

TALIESIN: I think, perhaps, you need reverence.

MATT: Scanlan and Percival disappear into the brush ahead of you guys since you're having this conversation. You, rushing towards Pike, as you going towards her, you're not getting any closer. Like you can see things rushing past you, but there's some disconnect, that as soon as you begin to change focus, you're right where you were. Grog and Scanlan. Scanlan, you step forward, and that beam becomes brighter and warmer, and you feel the warmth and you open your eyes, and you're there next to Pike, in front of the palace. And Grog, you walked alongside Scanlan, and you walked as he watched and you went past the brush and suddenly, you're at the palace.

TRAVIS: I'm there?!

MATT: Yeah. Sorry, not Grog. Percy was. You stayed back. I misremembered.

LIAM: I grab Keyleth's hands.


MATT: Percival. That's my apologies. So Percival, you made it past the boundary with Scanlan.

LAURA: How did you-- how did-- Shit. We should have followed Pike.

MARISHA: But Percy, you don't believe in anything. This is bullshit!

TALIESIN: I believe in plenty of things. But, yeah, no, I agree. This is bullshit.

LAURA: I'm going to close my eyes and be like, Sarenrae, I really believe in you. You're so holy, and very divine and beautiful, and I think you do really good things for Pike, and I'm very happy about that.

MATT: You concentrate. A minute. Two minutes. Five minutes.

LAURA: Fuck. This is not working!

TALIESIN: Pike. Pike, do you want to collect the rest of them and lead them back here?

LIAM: I scoop up Keyleth's hands and I say, you trust me, right?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: Yeah, yeah, you know that good feeling that you have when you hang out with Pike? You know that warm feeling you have. Toasting marshmallows around the fire, that kind of feeling?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: You know that comes from Sarenrae, so focus on that with me. And we'll go to Pike. Focus on Sarenrae and that marshmallow feeling.

MARISHA: But that comes from Pike, not from Sarenrae.

LIAM: You know that's partially true, but not all true. Come on, give it a shot.

MARISHA: Okay. I try really hard.

MATT: To?

MARISHA: Think about the marshmallowy goodness that is Sarenrae.

MATT: Okay. Vax and Keyleth do this. And then what do you do?

LIAM: Close our eyes and show reverence to her.

MATT: Okay. Another five, six minutes of darkness passes. Your eyes are closed. No beacon. Nothing.

ASHLEY: Okay. How long will it take me to walk back to them?

MATT: Do you walk back to them?

ASHLEY: I want to walk back to them.

MATT: Okay. A minute. You emerge from the brush, and you walk and see Keyleth and Vax, eyes closed, clutching hands, just hoping. And Grog, looking bored as hell.

ASHLEY: Okay. Where's Vex?

LAURA: I'm up here, dear.

ASHLEY: Okay. Come here. I have an idea. Okay? So everybody, hold onto me somehow.

TRAVIS: Hold hands? Like preschool?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LAURA: Like a train?

ASHLEY: Yeah. Just don't let go. And I'm going to think real hard, and maybe we'll all be there together.

LAURA and TRAVIS: Okay.

MARISHA: Okay. We have to walk though, right?

TRAVIS: Eyes closed.

LAURA: All right. I'm not closing my eyes. I'm just holding onto Pike's hand.

MARISHA: I'm still thinking about marshmallows, though.

TRAVIS: Thinking about bacon.

LIAM: I grab Pike by the earlobe.

ASHLEY: That tickles.

MATT: And Pike, do you close your eyes and follow that beacon once more?

ASHLEY: Yes.

MATT: Okay. As you guys walk alongside, focusing on Pike and her leading this small pack of friends along through the heavily rolling hills and pieces of stone obstruction that force you to make your way around. You help guide her around these various obstructions that get in the way. Pike, you're concentrating on this burning beacon of warmth ahead of you. And within three minutes of travel, it seemed almost, almost closer than when you saw her disappear before. You guys look at her, and glance up and you've just come across the threshold of the stones, and you're now in this open sandy patch at the base of this large crystal structure.

LAURA: Nice! Good job, Pike.

TRAVIS: Pikey-poo.

ASHLEY: Look at this.

MATT: So now standing-- (laughs)

LAURA: (laughing) It's beautiful.

ASHLEY: It's so much more beautiful up close.

MATT: Standing before this magnificent glass-like structure, you can see the winding shapes and edges clearly ascending in the form of a female torso, rising from beneath the sands to a staggering height. Two wings of glittering crystal curving upward to frame a massive round red gem that shines above the head of the woman, with flames curling from the inside of the facets. This red gem would probably be about twice the size of Grog. It's hard to see the actual height of it here, but it's probably close to a hundred feet tall, the entire structure.

Now, you see the shifting flicker of the intense fire that burns within the palace, now, it's causing the shadows cast by all nearby things to dance behind you, and in the inside you can see what appears to be a heavy bonfire almost that is visible beyond like a 20 foot domed doorway right at the base of torso. As you begin to approach the entrance to this crystalline palace-like statue, the heat of those flames that you see in the inside, roaring and burning quickly, get hotter and hotter on your skin. And as you begin to enter the interior of this structure, the heat feels like it should be getting close to unbearable, but it never hurts. You acknowledge the temperature change, and you're used to knowing this much heat should hurt, but it never does. It's just hot and welcoming. You now stand within the hollow interior of this incredible wonder, looking at a spiraling red tower of orange-red flame that reaches up about 60 feet or so, in this spiral. It's all flame. This large bonfire in the center of this structure. It flares rhythmically, like a very intentional heartbeat. (roaring flames) Giving these whipping sounds of the heat, and the wind and the air that it's tossing upward and out into the rest of the island around you and you now begin to acknowledge the warm winds that were blowing through the island, all seem to be centering and spiraling out from the center of the island.

And it's at that point that you see something in the flame being to take shape. You watch as this dark outline begins to open up as two large wings unfurl from within, revealing feathers of ivory and pearl, like the beach you arrived on, as this 15-foot-tall feminine vision of Sarenrae emerges from the roaring pyre, long curling flames burn as her hair from her beautiful dark skin framing a warm and motherly smile, her eyes golden brown like the most polished brass. Her robes of light blue unfurl in endless strands that almost seem to tether her to the inferno behind her and as she emerges from the flame, you can't help but find yourself stunned and awed at the presence. Her standing there unsinged from the flames, slowly descends, still floating above you, her arms out, her wings and hair unfurled, almost like a canopy above the group as you look up at her. Her face turns and smiles onto small Pike on the ground, and you hear her voice for the first time for all of you, but not the first for Pike, who has heard her voice for a very long time. "My Pike, you come to me after all this time. Such a beacon in a very dark world. Welcome."

ASHLEY: I take a knee. Thank you for letting us come here. It's just such an honor to be in your presence and to meet you in person. I've been a believer of yours for my whole life, and to actually be here in front of you is very humbling.

MATT: She descends faintly. Her massive form slowly seems to not shrink, but shift perspective a bit, where once, she was this massive entity before you, seems almost human in size as the hand comes down and reaches and touches the top of Pike's forehead and just runs down the nose, onto her chin. And you see the brow furrow a bit as she says "You vanished from my sight. You walk paths cast in shadow. My sands whisper thoughts of sorrow and foreboding. I must know from you all, what dark tidings bring you before me harboring such emotion?"

ASHLEY: Well, I think last time we spoke, we took on a battle that we were not able to complete and we need your help.

MATT: "What type of foe do you face?"

LAURA: You know Vecna?

MATT: She looks to you a bit. There's a faint bit of recognition. "This entity, this Vecna, is clouded, even in history. I know little myself, and my sands, they know little of this undying king. I imagine by his own design."

LAURA: He deals in secrets. It's kind of his thing.

MATT: "What can you tell me?"

TALIESIN: We have a piece of him.

LAURA: We do.

SAM: Yes. Maybe. Well, we can tell you that he is awful, evil, pure evil incarnate, and he wants to be a god.

LIAM: He has eyes on your territory.

MARISHA: He is something of a demigod now, you could say, and well on his path to ascension.

MATT: "Ascension?"

MARISHA: He wants to be like you.

MATT: "How?"

MARISHA: Or I guess he wants to be like the Raven Queen.

MATT: You watch the flames grow a little more cool, a little more of a deeper red in color, and the brow furrows more and she pulls back a little bit from Pike. Not in a retraction, but a worried sense that seems to fill the room. The brightness of the outside sky seems to dim ever so slightly. "Ascension? The Raven Queen, you say?"

MARISHA: He could tell you more, but I know she was a mortal who rose to her godhood, and I know he's looking for a similar path.

MATT: "Impossible."

MARISHA: We've seen it.

LAURA: He's been working on it for a very long time.

LIAM: And obviously hungry for power.

MATT: The wings, still unfurled, the tips seem to almost curl in a bit as she, as opposed to floating above you out about, is now standing tall floating above the ground about five or six feet. Her vision, her eyes seem to drift from you and look out past the glass and crystal to the distant shores beyond as she speaks out, exclaiming the thoughts as they come across her mind. Sarenrae says, "The Ritual of Seeding is one of the Matron of Raven's design. It is the secret rite that rebirthed her from her mortal trials and granted her the powers to take her place among the Prime Gods and become custodian to the realms between life and death, fate and the cold of winter. But this ritual was summarily cast from all knowledge and sealed, intent for eternity by all who walk the paths of divinity. None should know this. None should know this."

LAURA: What about the goddess Ioun? The goddess of knowledge? Would she have known?

MATT: "She was the one who spearheaded its destruction."

LAURA: Vecna's been taking over her chapels? Temples?

MATT: "I know not where Ioun is. She is hidden away. The Dawnfather would know more than I. They were together when she was wounded. If this ritual has come into the hands of another mortal, where is this mortal now?"

TALIESIN: We have his eye in a box. It's powerful and intelligent.

ASHLEY: I take out the box.

MARISHA: He's slowly staked out on the Prime Material plane. Just north of Vasselheim, about 350 miles.

LAURA: Recently completed the ritual in the Shadowfell.

MATT: "If he's finished the seed, he's already on his way."

LAURA: Oh no.

MARISHA: What does that mean? How can we stop him?

MATT: "The ritual takes some time, from what I recall. I don't know how long. I was not its architect. I was not the one who sealed it. Ioun would be the one to ask. However, if this is completed, then the Accord of the Divergence is in danger. If we will have one god on one side of the Divine Gate and the others on the other. We could not stop him. Understand, in order for any of us to directly interfere to seal a god like we did once long ago, we would have to tear down the Divine Gate and that would release an entirely new armageddon upon your world. So either you stop him and seal him, or you live amongst the only god we cannot stop."

LAURA: How do we seal away a god?

MATT: "I don't know. I was betrayed during the Calamity. I was not present when they began to seal the Betrayer Gods. You'd do best to speak with maybe some of the others who were more prominent in that time. You walk in Elysium. This is the realm also of Pelor."

LAURA: The Dawnfather?

MATT: "Yes."

TRAVIS: Might I ask, does Kord reside in Elysium?

MATT: "No, but you could perhaps speak with him, too. I don't know much about Kord. We don't see eye to eye." And if you could see a goddess glance sidelong with embarrassment, this is the closest you'd ever see. "I've fallen from import over recent years, until recently."

SAM: You?

TRAVIS: No.

MATT: She looks down at Pike for a minute. "Until recently." And turns back to Scanlan and says, "And don't think your prayers have gone unheard, as well."

SAM: You heard? I'm new at praying. I'm sorry for all the cursing at first. I had a lot of emotions, and I didn't know if anyone was listening. Apologies, but you heard me at night?

MATT: "When your heart was true to it, yes."

SAM: Wow. You won't tell anybody, will you? Because some of that is personal stuff.

MATT: She smiles and averts her gaze from you. "Do you know if this mortal, this man, this Vecna, do you know in your heart of hearts, Pike, that this man is beyond redemption? Is there any spark of hope in his heart to turn him back to the light?"

ASHLEY: Well, I would always hope that in somebody, but at least the time spent with him that we have, it doesn't seem that that's his path.

MATT: "Well, I trust in your insights, and this is your judgment to make. The greatest judgment you may ever make. As you walk this path, closer to conflict with this entity search yourself for any glimmer, and if there is no redemption to be had, then smite him with all the might I have granted you."

ASHLEY: Okay.

LAURA: He's not doing a lot of talking to us.

TRAVIS: A lot of killing, disintegrating.

SAM: How will we know if he's a god or not?

MATT: "You'll know. We all will know."

LAURA: So it hasn't happened yet?

MATT: "Not yet."

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: How long do these seeding rituals usually take? How much time do we have?

MATT: "I don't know. You would have to ask those who were responsible for sealing it."

TRAVIS: Dawnfather.

MARISHA: I'm so confused. That's it? We didn't walk away from him unscathed the first time, and we're supposed to try again?

MATT: "Even in the dark days of the Calamity, the might of our weapons could only diminish the betrayers who rose against creation. The two that orchestrated our victory and designed the means of sealing away such terrible evil, I've already mentioned. They would be of more aid than I. The Knowing Mistress Ioun, as wounded and hidden away as she is, and the Dawnfather, warden to the Chained Oblivion. His fortress across the fields of Elysium. I could send you there."

TALIESIN: That would be quite helpful.

TRAVIS: It was hard getting here.

LAURA: Will he be as accepting as you?

MATT: "I don't know. I haven't spoken much with the others in some time."

LAURA: You should throw a party. Invite them all. Get to know them again.

MATT: She looks down at Pike once more. "My Pike, you've done more than you know. You've been a guiding light for these wonderful champions and so many more." She reaches down and lifts you off the ground a bit, looking at your face, the bit of sadness that creeps across it as she lifts you up and you guys watch, as she glides, passing through the crystal, Pike being brought below the archway as she just lifts her out beyond this crystal structure. She ascends upward about 25, 30 feet or so, holding Pike in her hands out in front of her. And just chucks her.

(laughter)

MATT: No. Holding her close and by this point, Sarenrae's form has expanded to almost the size of the crystal structure you came to. You can now see a parallel between her wings and her form and her torso as to the actual incredible presence of this god before you. And leans in, as she shows the island to Pike below and whispers close to your ear, "I'm not lonely here, Pike, for my sands remain with me, speak with me, and we learn from each other. Look." As she extends her arm, Pike, you look out, and all of the light of the sky seems to shine at once through every pearl, every grain of the beach sand that you've walked across. And where once you saw what was just a barren landscape, you now see thousands and thousands and thousands of people. Opaque. Translucent. Souls of those that have come to Sarenrae since the dawn of creation. Those who swore themselves to good under her banner and at the end of their lives came to become part of the Island of Renewal and forever live with her and amongst the rest of the community of people that are warmed under her light. They all seem to look up at once at you, and you sense them smiling, as the vision fades and the island goes back untouched.

She drifts back down and places you on the ground. "You see, one day, you will join us, too. And we will all have so many stories to share." You now see her hovering over all of you as you step out of this to join Pike on the exterior of this tower. "While I am diminished, my powers limited, you do possibly face something terrible, unseen since the Calamity. And for this journey, Pike, I grant you my blessing."

And as she reaches her hands out and they expand, her head lifts up, her eyes close, and her wings flare into a phoenix like flame, that just emblazons the sky with light and fire. The heat is more intense than anything you've felt, yet still there's no pain. It's just all consuming. It's like the rebirth of a phoenix and you're all surrounded by it. For a moment, it's all there is in existence just this incredible entity. And then the flames slowly die away, except for the flames that currently engulf Pike's gnome form. And as the flames burn away, you can see on Pike the familiar set of wings you've seen her spiritual form hold, which fold in and then dissipate. You now have the Blessing of the Everlight.

(cheering)

ASHLEY: Oh my goodness! What is that?

MATT: You get a plus-two bonus to your constitution.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TRAVIS: We'll take a picture and text it to you.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: As a bonus action, you can summon the wings of the Everlight, granting you a flying speed of 40 feet for up to ten minutes. And while you have these wings, any spells you cast that cause creatures to regain hit points heal an additional ten hit points.

(cheering)

MATT: But once this ability is used, you can't use it for another seven days.

ALL: Oh.

ASHLEY: Man, I love her so much.

MATT: So if you want to take a picture and send that to her. Here we go. Hold onto that and give it to her.

MARISHA: Is Sarenrae gone?

MATT: No. Sarenrae is still there, just the flames have burned away.

LAURA: I'm going to send this to you, Ashley.

TALIESIN: I'm right here, guys. It's really not cool.

ASHLEY: Oh man!

LAURA: Since Sarenrae is still standing there, I want to say to her-- shit.

TRAVIS: Good start.

LAURA: Shit, sorry. I want to apologize. This feels so stupid. I want to apologize for never realizing what you are and what this could be and for not showing you the reverence that you deserve. And I hope to change that in the future, and I will certainly think differently from here on out.

MATT: As you look down and look up, where once she was this large entity above you, you look down and look up, and she's right before you. "No apologies necessary. The creation of Exandria, the peoples that populate it and develop and design, innovate and worship, was with free will to make your own path. Faith is important to some, but the intent was to instill you with the means of doing and choosing whatever and however you like. We do not wish reverence of all. Just those who find us. At least, I speak for myself."

LAURA: Well, I think you're pretty wonderful.

MATT: "There is balance to everything."

LAURA: And I took these from your beach. It doesn't seem right.

MATT: She takes the pouch from you and pours it out, and as the pearls are about to land, they drift off and dart off back to the location where you originally found them.

ASHLEY: Same. I just thought I wanted to take a little piece with me, but I already have that. I didn't know what it was.

MATT: As you empty the pearls they also dart off towards the beach where you first landed.

LAURA: I thought they were really pretty.

ASHLEY: I would have told you before we left, you know.

MATT: "It's all right. But for everything great that we may have created, you continue to create far better. Our existence brings threat. We've brought two calamities before. We try and avoid a third. Whether we diminish in time or just maintain this balance, it's you, and your children, and your children's children, that hold the keys to the future of your lives, your people, your culture, and us. So don't apologize."

TRAVIS: Would you say Sarenrae's attractive?

MATT: Are you asking her, or is this a question to me as the DM?

TRAVIS: Yeah, that one.

MATT: She's beautiful. I wouldn't put it in terms of any sort of a sexual object.

TRAVIS: She's just beautiful.

MATT: She's just an incredible beautiful, powerful, feminine form. And, to the extent where Grog, who usually being a man who's driven by base needs, not a single thought comes across you in any base or debacing way, it is too powerful. It overwhelms it.

TRAVIS: Yeah, no, she's beautiful.

MARISHA: What are titties?

LAURA: What even are titties?

MARISHA: What do titties?

TRAVIS: I'm keeping my little pearl from the beach.

MARISHA: (laughs) That you've been trying to crush?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: Terrible. Matt's like, shady shit.

TRAVIS: We're going to need one, y'all gave yours back.

TALIESIN: It's going to be like the Wonka factory, it's just it's going to turn on you.

MATT: You stole fizzy lifting drinks. You now have to be watched.

TALIESIN: Pearls from the beach, you get nothing, sir! Good day!

MATT: (laughing) Good day, sir!

TRAVIS: It's just one!

MATT: I know. "You have my blessing, Pike. Do this for me, do this for them, do this for you. Do this for all of creation. And do it soon. The longer you wait, well, the longer you wait. Do you wish to be off to the Dawnfather?"

SAM: Yes, time is of the essence. We should go right away.

MARISHA: Is he as warm and welcoming and nice as you are?

MATT: (laughs)

MARISHA: Okay, that's a good answer.

MATT: With a bright white flash emanating from her torso and arms, your vision just goes white and you all blink for a moment as your head spins for but a brief instant. Your feet touch hard ground and you all immediately reach up and rub your eyes, and as your vision slowly coalesces once more, you find yourself standing in the deep center of some vast orchard, surrounded by an endless sea of fruit-bearing trees of all sizes, shapes and colors, intertwined, the canopy broken and sparse in places where you can see above a clear, blue, cloudless sky. You're no longer on the Island of Renewal, that's for sure.

LAURA: Oh, I thought, but isn't that where the Dawnfather is?

MATT: Island of renewal is where Sarenrae is. The blessed fields of Elysium is the plane. He existed elsewhere in there.

LAURA: I understand now.

MARISHA: Is there the same ever-light sky?

MATT: Make a nature check.

MARISHA: Ever-present, sorry. Ever-presence in light. I use my druidic die. 29. Sorry, 31.

MATT: It's hard to see from down low, because the canopy does choke it a bit, you can see bits of the sky that appear blue, cloudless, whereas you saw wisps of cloud over the island, this appears clear, you can climb up a bit and try to get a better look if you want.

MARISHA: Sure.

MATT: Okay, so you begin to leap up through the branches, and a lot of the trees here have winding and knotted branches, so it's pretty easy to find your way up the canopy after maybe a five minute climb. You get up and peek over and you can see now this orchard goes on for miles and miles, and miles, filling this vast valley that you can barely see mountains that crest the edge of it in the distance near the horizon. You also see there is no cloud in the sky, and there is no sun, but there is a single pillar of light that streaks down from way way up, the zenith striking down in the center of this orchard, where there you see before you this awe-inspiring sight of the Dawnfather's home: a gold-plated citadel of many humongous towers and spires that both resemble a military fortress and the largest steepled church you've ever seen. It's hard to gauge distance with so many trees between you and it, you don't know if it's miles off from you, if it's maybe a thousand feet or so, but even at this distance, it's incredible in its scale.

MARISHA: Oh. Hey, guys, Pelor's not messing around.

TRAVIS: They make really tall things here.

LAURA: I fly up next to Keyleth so I can see. Wow. Do you think this is like Sarenrae, where we can't get to him unless we have him in our heart.

MARISHA: You know, I feel a little bit more connected here. This I can-- it's trees. I'm surrounded by trees. This I can relate to.

LAURA: I mean, I've tried to talk to Pelor before.

MARISHA: I've talked to the Sun Tree. (gasps) I wonder if the Sun Tree is here? Maybe he's got a twin here like you have a twin!

LAURA: Maybe.

TALIESIN: Do I recognize any of the fruit that's growing on the trees?

MATT: Make a nature check.

TALIESIN: Yeah. 15.

MARISHA: Decent for a city boy.

MATT: It's interesting. This orchard-- various fruits thrive in various climates. As you begin to walk a little bit through, it is a peppering of all sorts of trees and fruits. You see apples of all shades, you see oranges, you see rare passion fruits, you see floral-based growing fruit. It's a perpetual harvest here.

LAURA: I rush down and say, don't eat the fruit!

SAM: Might be souls?

LAURA: I think it might be souls!

TRAVIS: No, it's fruit! Souls don't grow on trees.

MARISHA: Souls also don't wash up on beaches, but apparently they do.

TALIESIN: That may be the most interesting thing I think you've ever said, is souls don't grow on trees.

MARISHA and TALIESIN: Souls don't grow on trees!

MARISHA: At least he knows the dangers of monocultures. This is very impressive.

TALIESIN: Yeah, this is, there's a lot of variety.

TRAVIS: What?

MATT: What're you guys doing?

LIAM: Vax is off on his own, by the way, sitting on his ass having a moment, because it wasn't too long ago when he had a thing for Sarenrae, and that was pretty bittersweet so he's staring off into space.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: One piece of fruit? One piece, just one little piece. An apple.

SAM: No.

TRAVIS: We're in Elysium! Oh my god, please.

TALIESIN: If you do eat anything, and you shouldn't, but if you do eat anything, eat something you don't recognize, it'll be funnier that way.

TRAVIS: Is there any fruit that I don't recognize?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: No, don't, stop.

TRAVIS: Something I don't recognize. 12.

MATT: Yeah, actually, you guys walk for about three or four minutes in the direction of where you saw the fortress, and you come across what looks to be a small bush that's clustered near this dark wooden tree with a thick gnarled exterior, and this bush has these small ripe plum-like fruits that come to a point at the bottom that you've never seen before.

LAURA: Grog, do not. Do not.

TRAVIS: What? Pick this?

LAURA: Don't! (gasps)

MARISHA: (gasps) Grog!

TALIESIN: I dare you not to eat it.

MARISHA: Don't say that. He'll do it! You know that's what happens!

TRAVIS: No, why don't we say, are you a person?

TALIESIN: (whispers) Grog.

TRAVIS: Nothing? Nothing. You want to check it for magic?

LAURA: Yeah, I'm going to check it. Hello, are you a soul?

MARISHA: Yes, I'm a soul.

LAURA: (gasps) Oh my god, it is a soul! It just spoke to me. Oh my god. What's your favourite color?

MARISHA: Blue, like your feather.

LAURA: It said blue, like my feather! Did you hear it? It was talking, Grog. It was talking.

TRAVIS: Hey, Pike?

ASHLEY: Don't eat it.

TRAVIS: What?!

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Just in case!

TRAVIS: What do I do with it? I already picked it!

ASHLEY: I have an idea! Why don't you hold onto it. Keep it in your pouch.

LAURA: Not in the Bag of Holding, Keep it in your shirt pocket.

TRAVIS: When have I ever worn a shirt?

ASHLEY: You can ask him if the fruit is edible, and make sure it's not people.

TRAVIS: That's fair. All right. I will hold onto the pointy plum.

MATT: (laughs) Okay.

LAURA: Are we getting any closer to the citadel?

MATT: You guys keep walking towards it?

LAURA, MARISHA, and TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: All right, you walk on.

LAURA: Are there any people? Does it look like there's tracks in this orchard?

MATT: Actually, Vax, Vex, and Keyleth you notice fairly quickly in that you begin to see movement ahead. The air itself, which by the way, the wind here is carrying a very sweet and fragrant, almost like honey flower whiffs that come through in waves that hit you, the whole atmosphere here makes you hungry, it makes you comfortable, it reminds you of childhood in a strange way. It's a very good, positive atmosphere. You begin to see as you approach, figures, moving. Pike, you recognize this because these are similar to the vision you just had from Sarenrae. They are entities. They are souls. They are people that walk the fields of Elysium, and you see them walk with small satchels, and you see them picking the fruit. And gathering, and harvesting. They don't seem to pay you too much mind, and as you begin to get close to some of them, they just stop and watch you. It's very Spirited Away, in a strange way. You see these somewhat translucent entities that barely acknowledge your existence and then as you pass by, they go on to whatever work they were doing. No speech, you don't even see eyes or faces, you just see the outline of the human-like shape, various heights and sizes.

LAURA: But they're picking the solid fruit?

MATT: They're picking the solid fruit, and gathering them.

TALIESIN: Are they eating the solid fruit?

MATT: You don't see any of them immediately eating it.

TALIESIN: None of them are eating the fruit.

MARISHA: I have a feeling it's an offering.

TRAVIS: I have a feeling it's fucking fruit.

MARISHA: Are we getting closer?

MATT: You continue to walk and make sure to avoid some of the larger clusters of these various harvesting entities, these harvest souls. You, who's leading the charge this time, who's leading you through the orchards?

TALIESIN: One of you two. Is this technically favored terrain for you?

MATT: It would count as forest for you.

LAURA: Yeah? I guess I'll be in the front. Percy, have you done a lot of talking to Pelor?

TALIESIN: Not really, no.

MARISHA: Percy, how do you feel about gods these days? Last time we talked we were both not optimistic, I feel like.

TALIESIN: I know how to be polite. I'm very reasonable at that.

MARISHA: Reverence.

TALIESIN: Reverence.

LIAM: You can certainly acknowledge when someone can squash you like a bug.

TALIESIN: Yes.

MARISHA: But a lot of things can squish us like bugs. I don't know, this is complicated. Let's just keep going. I'm going to keep an eye out while we're walking, for anything that resembles the Sun Tree.

MATT: Okay. All right. Are you leading the way?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Because you have no sun to keep tabs on, you're just going to have to fly up above the canopy and keep an eye on it, so you're cresting and descending through the orchard as you progress. You travel for about an hour and a half to two hours, and you notice you are getting closer, but it is a long way away, you probably have another three, four hours of travel before you get there on foot.

LAURA: It’s a long trek. We've got a while.

MARISHA: I wonder if we believe harder if we'll get there quicker.

TALIESIN: I don't believe that'll work.

SAM: Well, let's just go.

LAURA: Just keep on pushing on?

SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Right? We don't have anything that we could move faster?

TALIESIN: Well we have misty, but that seems--

LAURA: That seems stupid.

TALIESIN: It's a nice walk.

LAURA: Yeah, it's beautiful.

MATT: You guys continue your trek, and as you get closer and closer to the fortress of the sun, you do notice the trees of the orchard grow taller and thicker. And its like whatever fertility enchantment that runs this section of the plane, the closer to the central portion of this fortress you get, the more the rampant wild growth seems to gather and expand to the point where it, in some places, almost resembles the Feywild, though nowhere near as mysterious and threatening in some cases. But, you've never seen apple trees that grow four stories tall. But, here you see them. And the scale is immense but the branches are as dense with apples and leaves as they would be elsewhere. It continues to go. It's an impossible size to some of these trees and plants and bushes. It dwarfs your size by comparison to where you really get a sense of scale of how small you may be in this realm versus some of the creatures that call it home.

MARISHA: See, this tree can squash me like a bug. If it fell on me, yeah.

LAURA: I wonder if it's apple grew as big as the actual tree. If it fell, you'd be doomed.

MATT: As you progress, a few more hours into this trek, eventually, Vex, you begin to notice the light ahead begins to grow brighter.

LAURA: Hey, I think we're getting closer.

SAM: Awesome.

MARISHA: Does this feel like sunlight? Does it register like sunlight or is it a whiter light?

LAURA: Like should we put some sunblock on as we walk towards it?

MARISHA: Yeah? Is it sunlight temperature?

MATT: It registers as a sunlight. It is a pure light.

TALIESIN: Like kitchen light white or like reading room light?

MATT: Like noon daylight light.

TRAVIS: Arizona or California?

MATT: And as you push closer and closer to where this brightness continues to expand, and it's brighter than you anticipated. You're getting to the edge of a clearing where a tree line comes to a halt, but as you do, it hurts your eyes a little bit. You have to adjust from the dark interior of the forest to the outside. And as you finally breach the edge of the tree line and look out you can see this open clearing, and immediately you can see the column of light that's cracking down from the center of the sky is what is lining this clearing, where the light touches the trees stop. And it hurts a little bit to look at it because the light is reflecting off of this bright gold brass-colored citadel before you. You thought the crystal structure that Sarenrae was in was, you know, impressive. This is four times larger than the largest structures in Vasselheim or Emon you've ever encountered. And you watch this massive citadel. It has maybe two dozen separate towers of different heights that stagger and shift and they all come to these steeple like points. And there in the center of the structure is one thick, massive tower that crawls upward and upward and upward and upward for, even at this point, surmising 15, 20 stories before the tip vanishes into the bright light that is descending from the sky above. You see the outline of a few sparse trees that catch your attention. You do see some trees that litter this open space within this bright light that are of the same type of tree as the Sun Tree that resides in the center of Whitestone.

MARISHA: He does have a twin.

LAURA: Do you think this tower is compensating for something or maybe it's a representation. Hard to tell.

TRAVIS: Basically we'll know Vecna's a god if another skyscraper forms in Elysium somewhere.

MARISHA: How close are we to the column of light?

MATT: You're stepping beyond the treeline and into the light, so you're just at the edge of the tree line.

MARISHA: I Druidcraft a little twig and hold it into the light column.

MATT: Okay. Doesn't seem to affect it at all.

MARISHA: Nothing? I'm going to touch it.

MATT: It's warm. It's like warm daylight.

MARISHA: Okay we're not going to die.

LAURA: That's good.

TRAVIS: Are you sure?

MARISHA: No.

LAURA: (laughs) I'm going to look at the citadel with my eyes wide open for five seconds, and then close my eyes really fast to see if I can see better details of it like when you look at the sun.

MATT: (laughs) You do actually!

LIAM: I slap my sister in the forehead.

LAURA: Hey, I'm doing stuff here; it's science.

MATT: In closing your eyes, yeah, you can see the shape and the outline of the spires that go off, and you can see the plating and the large heavy structures. And you can see the various windows that dot the outside on multiple levels. It looks like there's at least seven or eight different levels of the actual fortress. You see lines of windows and looks to be balconies that adorn it at these different stages. And at the top of that, the towers go higher and higher. It's almost like a city of a fortress in its own right in it's scale. It's impressive. It's like if you took part of the City of Brass and jammed it into one structure and made it pure gold.

TRAVIS: Pure gold?

MATT: It's gorgeous.

LAURA: This is beautiful!

MATT: (laughs) But it does burn the shit out of your eyes if you stare at it that long.

LAURA: Worth it! Worth every second! I like Pelor. I like him a lot.

TRAVIS: Someone should go in and test out the light.

SAM: Yeah let’s just go in. It's just light.

MARISHA: Maybe the light will take us there, straight to him.

TRAVIS: I push Vax in.

MARISHA: I jump in.

MATT: You push Vax in? All right.

LIAM: Oh, warm again!

(laughter)

MATT: It's very warm. And with your dark leather it's like the goth kid in summer. Little sweaty.

LIAM: I was never the goth kid.

MATT: You guys begin to make your way on foot, trekking towards the center of this clearing, towards the fortress of the sun. As you begin to make your way beyond the various trees with their blossoming, beautiful white, pink, and purple blossoms that mark the sun tree during the spring and summer, you can now see along the perimeter of this what appear to be hundreds of figures. Hundreds of figures that just dot the outside of the fortress. And you get a better look at some of the spires you can see that on the upper levels, including the one central tower, you can see these beautiful medallion like circles of stained glass, mosaics of color on a scale which is impressive. You can only surmise maybe the smallest one being 20 feet in diameter and going up from there on the scale on the central portions of it. And what's interesting, usually with stained glass the bright exterior, the color is darkened and shaded because the light is once you're inside the structure, but the color is so vibrant in the stained glass, you get the sense that there is a light source within the actual fortress that is as bright if not brighter than the column of light that is descending from the sky.

LAURA: Should've worn sunglasses here.

MATT: As you begin to get closer and closer to the citadel, once again the scale seems to build and build. What should seem to be a shorter walk gets longer and longer as you begin to see how massive and far away this is, compared to where you thought it was. And about 30 minutes since you left the tree line, you begin to just get past the final bit of sun trees that are planted around the exterior.

MARISHA: I touch a few as I walk by. See if I feel anything.

MATT: They're alive, they're vibrant and similar in texture as to the one you've spoken with in Whitestone.

LAURA: You going to try talking to them?

MARISHA: Should I?

LAURA and TALIESIN: I don't know.

TRAVIS: Do you know this tree?

MARISHA: I don't know. Maybe he's like a distant relative of the Sun Tree. Maybe I know him by proxy.

LAURA: Maybe they're like oh yeah Sun Tree I remember him he got taken away as a seedling, but he was really great. How's he doing?

LIAM: I mean, you know you want to.

TRAVIS: It's an Elysium tree, just saying.

LAURA: Maybe they don't even speak our language. It's possible.

LIAM: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, Kiki.

MARISHA: I'll try and speak to one of the sun trees that looks the most friendly.

TRAVIS: (laughing) Amicable tree.

MATT: Make a nature check. See which one seems the most approachable of all the other trees.

TRAVIS: Weigh the nuts.

MARISHA: That's a natural one. I don't know.

MATT: You see one tree that looks definitely the most amiable of the ones in the field and you approach it.

MARISHA: Amiable?

MATT: Amicable. Pick your term.

MARISHA: Amicable, amiable. All right, I'll talk to a tree. That's what I'm going to do.

MATT: As you finish your spell and reach out, your finger touching the warm exterior of the tree. The light's still a little blinding, but you've adjusted to it now, where you can make out shapes and color, as opposed to the blaring white. What do you say?

MARISHA: Hey, sun tree bro. Are you a sun tree bro? Are you a sun tree brother? What's your name?

MATT: "I'm a tree of the sun. And I'm not your bro."

MARISHA: No, I didn't know if you know the Sun Tree that grew in Whitestone on the Prime Material Plane. I didn't know if you knew him.

MATT: "So because I'm a tree of the sun, you assume that I know all other trees of the sun. Is that what this is? It's one of those things? We all look alike, don't we? Just all of us trees of the sun, right?"

MARISHA: Can you tell me a little about this plane? How do we talk to Pelor? How do we see him?

MATT: "I recommend probably going towards the giant golden fortress that is right behind you. It's probably a good place to look, where all the light's coming from."

MARISHA: Okay. Wow. I have a friend who wants to know about the fruit. He's wondering if the fruit is souls? If he can eat the fruit.

MATT: "The fruit is not souls! It's fruit."

TRAVIS: Vindication!

MATT: "The Dawnfather is the god of the harvest. Good luck. Sorry if I came off a bit brusque. It's been a long time since anyone's talked to me."

MARISHA: No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you.

MATT: "Apology accepted."

MARISHA: Would you like a hug?

MATT: "No. I would most definitely not like a hug."

MARISHA: Okay. Well, it was wonderful meeting you. Absolutely. Thank you. All right, bye. Okay, bye.

MATT: "Good day."

TALIESIN: What a beautiful tree you've found. It casts so much shade.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Yes! Oh my god.

MARISHA: You were waiting the whole time to use that, weren't you? The whole conversation.

TALIESIN: I was just sitting, like knitting, crochet?

MATT: As soon as you rolled that one, I was like okay, then.

SAM: New NPC: Dick Tree.

(laughter)

MATT: "It's more ornery than anything." (laughs) All right, as Keyleth returns from her conversation with the tree.

LIAM: You don't seem as blissed out as you normally do. Did it go okay?

MARISHA: Yeah, it was fine. Just can't talk to everybody, I guess. It's fine.

TRAVIS: What did you ask him?

MARISHA: Nothing. Just asked if he knew the Sun Tree, and he got super offended. You know what? Let's just go.

TALIESIN: You've never been rejected by a tree before, have you?

MARISHA: No, I have never been rejected by a tree. Most trees like me. People don't like me, but at least trees do, except for this asshole.

LIAM: I start to smooth out her mantle, which is wiring up like a cat's.

MARISHA: My leaves are prickly.

LAURA: Maybe he was just pretending he didn't like you because he felt uncomfortable because he likes you so much. Like Kash!

MARISHA: That's nice, Vex. Thanks. You didn't talk to this guy, okay? You don't know.

TRAVIS: Did you ask about the fruit?

MARISHA: Yeah, he said it's fruit. It's fine. You can eat it, too. You're right, Grog. You were right! Eat the fruit! Let's go! Come on.

SAM: Yikes.

LAURA: Breathe in, breathe out.

MATT: All right, you guys begin making your trek back towards the Fortress of the Sun. As you're walking--

MARISHA: I rip off an apple as I go, and I start aggressively eating it.

MATT: The sun trees here don't bear fruit.

MARISHA: I fucking spike an apple that I had earlier!

MATT: Okay. If you have an apple with you, you're welcome to eat it if you wanted to.

MARISHA: No! I just want to go in the tower.

LIAM: I lean over to Percival and say, this is one of those times when it's best just to keep quiet.

TALIESIN: I'm so quietly delighted by this.

MATT: All right. As you guys begin to approach the fortress, you watch as those hundreds of figures you saw at the base are beginning to collect towards the front of what appears to be the large doors that lead to this side's entrance to the actual structure. As they gather, they begin to push in your direction. You also see other figures up on the higher floors, balconies, almost. (wing beat, whoosh) Glide and then flying in your direction rather rapidly.

LAURA: I hope they're friendly. He's definitely not as solitary as Sarenrae, is he?

MATT: At this point, you watch as these winged entities, three of them, approach faster than the rest of the horde that seems to be pushing in your direction. You can see long, golden-white wings. You see very intense-looking breastplates made of gold and brass, with rubies marked into it. Similar, but not as well adorned as the armor that Pike wears. Holding spears, various other weapons or shields, but as they fly in and land, (impact noise) landing. They all stand about five or six feet taller than all of you. Humanoid, muscular, almost Roman in physique, but their skin is a very faint light blue. Their eyes are white.

LAURA: Hunin and Kyor!

MARISHA: Are they devas? Celestials?

MARISHA: Angels!

LIAM: Celestials.

MATT: They have similar traits, though apparently purer and much stronger than the half-blood celestials that you had met previously in the City of Brass.

LAURA: That we rescued. Didn't just meet them. We saved them.

MATT: You did, and you gave them a new life under the remaining family of--

LAURA: Hunin and Kyor. I even got their fucking names right!

MATT: You did, which is awesome.

LIAM: The third time, yeah.

MATT: So as the three of them land (impacts) around you, spears not aggressive, but at their side, and powerful entities. They triangulate around you, all standing so much taller than you do, their wings still unfurled in a very prominent display of power. Their helmets cover everything-- the helmet comes down over the nose and reveals the eyes. It's very Roman in structure. One of them yells out, "You who approaches the fortress. What is your business here?"

TRAVIS: Guards. Best to let Scanlan and I take this.

(laughter)

LIAM: Percy, do you want to flash a little Whitestone bling, at the moment?

TALIESIN: You're pretty Whitestone blinged.

LAURA: We're Vox Machina. We were sent here to speak to Pelor by the goddess Sarenrae.

MATT: "Sarenrae sent you?"

LAURA: Yes, she did.

MATT: "With what business?"

LAURA: To speak about a very big evil growing on the Material Plane.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

LAURA: Oh no. Okay. 22?

MATT: Okay. The one guard that you were talking to looks over to the guard that's to the left of all of you, and he gives him this slight head nudge. That one, who's a little smaller than the other two, walks past and his pupil-less white eyes, which emanate this faint white glow, seem to look past each of you. I say past each of you. It almost is a piercing gaze. As it looks at Scanlan, it gives a little bit of an upturn of the nose. A neutral disapproval of Percival. Keyleth, less so. Grog, almost a sneer for a moment. And then to Vax and Vex. And then to Pike, a nod.

SAM: Oh, a nod.

LAURA: She's good.

MATT: He looks back to the first guard, and says, "There is no evil among them."

LAURA: Hear that, Grog? You're not evil.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I knew that. Why didn't you just ask?

TALIESIN: We do, it should be noted, carry a dangerous artifact that we should warn you of.

SAM: Check in our weapons. Yeah.

MATT: The one soldier that you were first speaking to steps forward, his heavy footfalls from his armored boots. He puts his hand out. "We will take this artifact."

LAURA and SAM: (hesitant noises) Will we get it back?

MATT: "What need do you have with a dangerous artifact?"

LAURA: Well, it belongs to the great evil, and so it's possible that we can use it to defeat him, so if we don't have it, we might not be able to do that.

TRAVIS: It may give us an advantage.

LAURA: Could be really great.

MATT: "The Dawnfather will be the judge of that."

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: I'm all right with that.

SAM: Don't look at it, though. It will turn you super evil, and you'll rip out your eye.

MATT: "Noted." Such a big thing, and yet you shook it a little, strangely. "Very well. Follow us, please."

SAM: How's that fruit?

MATT: Their wings fold behind them, and they walk alongside you, matching their gate to yours. As you move forward, even with your brisk pace, their gate is so long that they're having to make long, slow strides to keep up with your slow pace.

LAURA: I hold Percy's hand as they're going in.

TALIESIN: Yeah, we'll do this together. I'm all right.

MATT: At this point, the mass army that's been approaching you, you can see now, are hundreds of armored spirits, similar to those that you saw in the orchard. As they approach, the three planar entities that are walking alongside you put their hand up in a dismissive motion, and the army parts, leaving a singular path that leads you right to the front of the fortress. And the path, because there's so many, goes on. It's like walking through a parade of silence. As you all look around, you can't make out any faces. You see hundreds of sets of glittering golden armor with the somewhat-visible form of these translucent spiritual entities that take up the space. You don't sense any hostility, animosity. You don't sense any welcoming. You don't sense anything from them. They're present and letting you pass.

LAURA: Is the armor solid?

MATT: Yes, the armor is solid, and the spirits that inhabit them are pseudo-material. It's hard for you to gauge; you haven't encountered this type of creature outside of your spectral encounters with ghosts and other spirits. As you step forward, being flanked and escorted by these winged guards, you are brought to the base of the 50 or so steps that ascend to the front 40-foot tall double doors that now (loud creaking) creak open to reveal the interior of the palace, which is as bright, if not brighter from the inside as the outside pillar of light that you're leaving. As you prepare yourselves to adjust your gaze, you ascend step by step to eventually take in whatever the interior of the Fortress of the Sun has to offer. And that's where we're going to take our break! We're going to return back here in a few minutes. We're going to use the restroom and get snacks and stuff. You guys can rest here for a minute. We have a giveaway.

TRAVIS and MARISHA: Fruit.

TALIESIN: Don't eat the spiky bit.

MATT: That's right. Make a wisdom saving throw real fast.

TRAVIS: Really?

MARISHA: Wait, really?

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: Everybody?

LAURA: No, just Grog, because he's an idiot.

TRAVIS: 13.

MATT: 13. Okay, good to know. All right.

MARISHA: Maybe you would have gotten smarter. Maybe it's super fruit. Maybe it's acai berries.

MATT: All right, so our friends at Wyrmwood have this awesome black walnut personal dice tray with a leather interior. It's pretty badass. We'll only have one lucky winner over in the Twitch chat. The key word for tonight is latency. L-A-T-E-N-C-Y. Like the kind that you get when you have two people on Skype guesting in. So to win this, find your way over to Twitch chat, follow the instructions, and when it's time, put the word latency in, and one lucky winner at the end of the break we'll be able to give this away to and announce. Enjoy, rest. We'll see you guys back here in a few minutes.

BreakEdit

[break]

Part IIEdit

MATT: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Critical Role. First and foremost, the winner of the chatroom contest-- and I hope I'm reading this right-- is nnailhammer.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Wait, one more time.

MATT: Nnailhammer.

TALIESIN: Is it Nine Inch Nail hammer?

MATT: It's two N's, ailhammer. So nnailhammer. Congratulations, nnailhammer. You won the giveaway. Denobo will contact you and get you the info. Congratulations! All right, so back in to where we left off.

As you ascend the remainder of the stairs and step into the entryway to the Fortress of the Sun, you're led through a series of gorgeous silver and gold archways, dozens of feet above you. The intricacies of the interior, scrolling trim and inlay across every wall, pillar, and bannister is incredible. Not gaudy, just magnificent in purpose and history. Glancing across the marble floor, you can see the construction here is immaculate. There isn't any sort of smudge or damage dealt anywhere. These arches themselves, even as you glance over and look, the detail seems to fractal smaller and smaller, in places, where you can't imagine a craftsman's hand could have built this. Only through the will of a god could such a thing come into creation on such a vast and minor scale.

You also notice as you walk in, there's no shadow or shade. The walls seem to almost emanate light on their own.

MARISHA: I beg to differ.

MATT: The outside's a different story.

MARISHA: Go to the courtyard.

LIAM: Just you wait!

LAURA: No shadow underneath us?

MATT: No shadow underneath you. Looking around you, and looking at your hands, you can see very faint shadows can be cast between your fingers and things that are very close, but it's like there's a diffused light throughout the entirety of the interior of the fortress that casts away any darkness or shadow. There's no umbra; there's no place where light is absent. It's just light everywhere.

You hear this soft music played, the deeper into the fortress you get.

MARISHA: Club's over here, guys.

MATT: Rocks fall; everybody dies.

(laughter)

MATT: It's okay.

LIAM: Benny Hill music commences.

MATT: Soft music you hear playing throughout the interior of the fortress, like this distant sound of a thousand soft choir voices accompanying the inspirational sight of the building that you now walk through. You see other entities adorned in armor, still opaque and pearlescent in their spirit form. Some of them have flowing robes of gold and white that trail behind them and drift across the floor silently.

The further in you walk, you begin to see where some of these spires and spiral staircases twist upward. The room have purpose in construction, but the scale of those who walk through the halls is so varied that you see staircases on large scales and small scales. They almost seem to wrap around each other in places. It's surreal, almost Escher-esque in some of the interior construction.

You see archways and doorways on different levels: some that appear to be reached only by those that can fly versus those that can just walk and climb. Occasionally, you look up and you can see skylights across the top: some open glass and crystal, some appearing to be a small window of stained glass that glitters down in bright blues, purples, reds, oranges. There's definitely a stained glass motif in a lot of the interior in the fortress, which you've seen in some of Pelor's imagery, and the symbol around him is like a circular stained glass structure that spirals in with the actual star and the sun in the center.

The music continues to grow louder and louder the further in you walk, and you feel like you're being led along for a good 15 minutes straight. This structure, this hallway, just goes on and on, the arches passing one after the other after the other. Your eyes have adjusted to the brightness of the interior now. Eventually, you come to another set of large doors. These doors themselves: no wood, no stone, just pure, vibrant platinum and gold. The symbol upon them seems to be the same circular motif as the symbol of the Dawnfather, with the star in the center, but the detail and intricacies. You get close, and your eyes-- especially you, Vex and Vax-- you glance and you can see, on every small scale, even just a simple bar of the star and the sun has writing, and has artwork, and then as you look closer, even on a smaller scale, that writing is comprised of smaller artwork and smaller writing. You're thrown off by the level of detail and intricacy of this place's construction. You're in awe. Your jaw drops as these reveals seem to barrage you with each step into the structure.

At that point, the doors (scraping noise) open, and you wince once again, as the light that fills the room from the inside is near-blinding. You close your eyes a bit, and all you hear is this deep, resonant voice say, "Come."

LAURA: This has to be Heaven. Doors keep opening.

MARISHA: This must be the bright light that everyone sees when they die.

TRAVIS: Don't steal his doors, or anything.

SAM: You want to steal the doors?

TRAVIS: What a terrible thing to say in the presence of the Dawnfather.

LIAM: (muffled) All right, one foot in front of the other. Here we go.

SAM: Oh, we can't hear Liam.

LIAM: "One foot in front of the other. Here we go," I said.

TALIESIN: Let's go.

MATT: You shield your eyes, upon stepping into the actual chamber, because otherwise, even closing your eyes isn't enough; the light is so intense. It still hurts through your eyelids. As you step inside and look off, you can now glance around the interior of this chamber. The same level of fractal-like scrolling detail you saw in the doors lines every inch of the wall on the inside of this large, square chamber, hundreds of feet across on each side. It's incredible. The floor is almost mirrored in its polish. Glancing down, while there is no immediate shadow, behind you, the bright light does cast a bit behind you. You can see your reflection almost perfectly in the polished floor below.

You glance up, and you see the interior of that giant steeple-like tower that's sat at the center of the fortress in the distance, and you look up almost endlessly. You can see floor after floor with an endless spiral of various stained glass structures and reliefs and small statues that protrude from the edges, and this tower is seemingly hollow, just leading up, and you can't even make out the top of it from this distance. It looks like a tower that is infinite, almost, from this perspective, it's so big.

LAURA: Is the light coming from the tower?

MATT: No, the light's coming from the center of the room. As your eyes slowly adjust and you glance past your fingers and your hands, you see there in the center of the chamber is a 25 foot throne of gold, brass, silver, and ruby. Sitting upon that throne is a mighty being, wearing the most intricate and beautiful golden plate armor you've ever seen. Similar in detail and design as the interior of the chamber around you, it almost blends in if you didn't see it shift. A white cloak encases the shoulders of this entity and sways gently at their side like it's been brushed off and dangles over one of the arm rests. And where a head would be, instead there is a burning star, so bright that you can only look but a second before you have to avert your gaze and shut your lids out of the pain. Just enough time to barely make out the outline of what appears to be a male head, almost featureless, burning within the corona. This, you can only imagine, is the Dawnfather himself, Pelor.

As you step into the chamber, the door (boom) closes behind you, and the winged planar entities that pushed you in are not in the chamber. It's just you... and the Dawnfather.

SAM: Look how far we've come, guys.

(laughter)

SAM: From throwing shit at people...

LAURA: Didn't you do that just last week?

SAM: I did. I do that most weeks.

LAURA: Grog--

TRAVIS: Yes?

LAURA: Next time we visit the Dawnfather, wear some underwear. This floor is like a mirror.

TRAVIS: But I don't ever-- oh, okay.

TALIESIN: What are you-- oh god.

SAM: Oh! You mean I can-- oh, sorry.

(laughter)

MATT: "Vox Machina."

TRAVIS: Oh shit.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Little bit of pee comes out. A little bit.

MARISHA: You guys, he knows our name.

MATT: "You come with purpose. I can sense your determination. What would you tell me of your purpose?"

TALIESIN: Vecna walks the earth.

MARISHA: We are here to prevent the coming of a third calamity.

TRAVIS: We seek the means to destroy him and all he stands for.

MARISHA: He seeks ascension into godhood.

LIAM: And all your children are in danger, and we have begun communing with the gods. I extend slowly the wings and bow my head in deference to him.

TALIESIN: The divergence is threatened. Your guards, your creatures, have some of our proof in their care, at the moment.

MATT: "Another seeks the path of the Matron of Ravens. A flaw in our annihilation of her hubris. That it still exists is dire news. That it exists in the hands of such a slippery, vile mortal as Vecna, even more so. I thank you for your haste in sharing your findings. I shall ponder a strategy." He leans back in his chair, brushes his hand like this, and the doors behind you (boom) open.

LAURA: It was you that I was speaking to, in Whitestone. I had no idea. We have the eye of Vecna.

MATT: His form shifts a bit, seems to lean forward on the throne, resting the bright, burning, star-like head on the edge of his gauntleted fist, leaning forward in your direction. You try and glance up, but it hurts in the presence. "Present the artifact."

SAM: Well, we gave it to--

LAURA: No, we still have it.

SAM: Oh, we do?

LAURA: Yeah, he kept it with us.

ASHLEY: Oh, I have it, actually.

SAM: Could you guys turn them up? We can't hear them at all.

LAURA: Please.

MATT: So as you place the box on the ground--

ASHLEY: I'll try to take it over-- I'm going to leave it on the ground; it's a little hot over there.

MATT: Okay. As you leave it on the ground, you can't see his eyes, you can't see where he's facing necessarily, but you can sense his attention; it's like a beacon across the room. It's ever-present, but there is definitely a focal point that you can sense when it comes to you, it's like having a spotlight on you amongst a theater of thousands of people. It's intimidating, but also exhilarating. The beacon shifts in the direction of the small box you placed on the ground. Immediately the box flips open, and you watch as the eye levitates out on its own, twitching and looking around in all directions. It has no lid to close, and the tiny slit-like iris of it seems to retract best it can, in the presence of such bright light. You hear this low ruminating (hums). "Do you have purpose with this?"

SAM: Only if it can help us destroy Vecna.

MATT: "Do you know how this would help you destroy Vecna?"

MARISHA: We don't know how to destroy Vecna.

TALIESIN: We seek knowledge and power.

MARISHA: And assistance.

MATT: "I could destroy this right now, only if you do not need it. Its existence is a threat. But the choice is yours, since you brought it before me."

LAURA: Do you know what help it would be to us on the Material Plane?

MATT: He stares through you. The beacon finds you.

MARISHA: It's not the only one in existence. There are others.

TALIESIN: I think it might be, yes.

MARISHA: Right?

LIAM: That's his eye.

MATT: There are other people missing eyes, but this is the only one--

LIAM: It's his. And it should be destroyed.

SAM: Right now?

LAURA: Maybe it'll make him weaker, if it is destroyed. He obviously put it in his scion. We destroy it, and we keep someone else like Delilah Briarwood from coming into power. Right?

TALIESIN: Yes, I think...

LAURA: I say destroy it.

LIAM: Delilah was obviously his pawn and she was using it. Fuck it. Destroy it.

TALIESIN: We stand with... a master of the Grey Hunt. She is the one who can speak for Whitestone on that level. If you say destroy it, we destroy it.

MATT: The beacon comes back to you again. The stage beneath you, everyone around you, seems to vanish in the light that's the attention of this entity, this god, ancient beyond all thought and reason that you would contemplate, awaiting your answer.

LAURA: You know so much more than we do. If you believe it is unsafe, then we trust your wisdom in destroying it.

MATT: "The wisdom of the creators is to instil their creations with the choice of their own destiny."

LAURA: Then I say destroy it.

MARISHA: What if we can--

MATT: "The choice is made." And with that point you watch as, without leaving attention from you, the eye begins to lift up out of the box once more. The hand that was under the chin unfurls into a clasping set of fingers, and as they clench together, you hear the metal clink and grind, and you watch as this light begins to flare around the eye. And if you could hear a squeaking scream from a powerful artifact, you watch as it just burns in a flash. And (shattering noise) the shattering sound echoes throughout the room. You see a burst of greenish dark energy, and for a moment, the light in the room seems to dim, like a very faint, almost brown-out.

TRAVIS: (quietly) Shit.

LIAM: Good.

LAURA: I think that's a good thing.

ASHLEY: I do, too.

LIAM: It is a good thing.

LAURA: Yes.

LIAM: Vecna's a puppeteer. He used that to move Delilah. It's gone.

MATT: "Now, if you have no further business..."

LAURA: We seek out the goddess Ioun, the goddess of knowledge. The ritual of seeding was lost to time, and we know that the goddess Ioun is one of the only keepers of that knowledge.

MATT: There's a moment of contemplation on his end. "She is safe. She recovers, hidden away. I know elements of where she resides, but this information only belongs to those trusted."

MARISHA: We know you and her helped seal away the chaos of these secrets before. We may need your help doing it again.

MATT: He leans forward towards you, and you feel the beacon of attention shift towards you this time. And you, Keyleth, who have spent most of your life trying to dodge and dive from the attention of the masses, trying to buck the destiny that has been thrust upon you since childhood, here in this moment, you have the attention of one of the prime creator gods of Exandria, and you feel yourself weaken and strengthen at the same time. You're not sure whether to run or stand, and the voice comes out once more. "I have champions across all of Exandria who have lived longer and proven themselves worthy, capable. My consecrations are taxing, and I will not have it wasted on those set to fail."

LAURA: How can we prove ourselves to you?

MATT: "You have not one faithful among you, yet you beseech my blessing."

MARISHA: I could be your champion. You could teach me to believe. I, arguably, am faithless. I know you all know that. I believe, and I have respect, and I am awe-inspired by all of this. But faith, I still don't know if I have, but I... I believe you could teach me.

MATT: "Is there anyone else who would challenge this proclamation?"

LAURA: I don't want to challenge you, Keyleth.

MARISHA: What? We already have one champion of the Raven Queen. Why not?

TALIESIN: Once, you blessed Whitestone.

MATT: "Whitestone is under my watch and keep. It was created through the battlefield in which I sealed Tharizdun himself. It was the grounds in which Ioun was wounded in the Calamity. There was much sorrow in those lands. Yes, it is under my watch."

MARISHA: I'm friends with the Sun Tree. We talk occasionally.

MATT: "A faithless stands to try and accept the champion's mantle. I ask once more, is there any to challenge this claim?"

LAURA: Keyleth... let me? I've never felt this before.

MARISHA: You are the lady of Whitestone. It suits you.

MATT: "Very well. You step forth with the growing bud of faith. That befits the growth of a champion. I will see you show me your quality. You, as the vessel, kneel before me."

LAURA: I kneel.

MATT: He leans forward at the edge of the throne, you hear the metal clinking as the plates shift and move. And you can hear now, at the proximity as he leans down towards you, the faint flicker of the surface of the sun-like head that is the beacon of the Dawnfather's face. "You would accept my trial, brave soul? Then you and your allies must ascend the Tower of the Zenith. The chosen among you, Lady Vex'ahlia, you must reach the top of the tower before this time runs thin." As he lifts his hand you watch, as apparating in the air, a container of glass with sand across the top. He lifts his other hand. Another one appears. And these two hourglasses now held aloft, gliding slowly above the space where you stand. "Ascend to the zenith. Embrace your faith and throw yourself in the fires of Dawn. Should you be strong of heart and your faith be true, the flames will grant you my blessing."

LAURA: Just me, or the group of us?

MATT: "You must jump into the flames. They can help you ascend. However, your trial begins now." And you watch as one of the glasses suddenly shifts, and three of the winged planars appear in the room, armored around you, arms crossed, and they look to be trying to block the passage into the tower as they fly up. You look up to the seemingly endless beacon above you, to the top of the tower that you cannot see at this distance, and you know immediately, somehow, quickly, you have to get there. So. What are you doing?

TRAVIS: Oh god!

MARISHA: I. Hate. Time. Challenges.

LAURA: Well I've got the boots, but I-- okay I'm going, I take off.

SAM: Wait!

LIAM: Click your Boots of Haste.

SAM: I'm going to to turn her into a red dragon.

TRAVIS: Do you want that?

LAURA: Sure. I click my Boots of Haste before he does it.

MATT: Okay, so you click your Boots of Haste. They come into you, you feel the surge of energy, the rush, the burst of adrenaline through your body, as you begin casting?

SAM: True Polymorph.

LAURA: Oh my god. Does that ever end? Do you have to cancel it?

SAM: Yes.

MATT: All right, so as you begin to ascend, you watch as the three planar begin to rush towards you, their arms out to grasp. Anyone else going to do anything?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I would like to smash my gauntlets together and cast Enlarge.

MATT: All right, so you go into your larger form now.

TRAVIS: And rage. I'll charge one of them.

MATT: They're up in the air. She's flying up.

TALIESIN: You've got the carpet.

TRAVIS: And I pull the carpet out.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: I click my Boots of Spider Climbing and spend an action surge to draw and start taking shots at the wings. I want to drop them out of the air.

MATT: Okay, go for it, make three shots. Very quickly. As you're ascending on the broom as quickly as possible, and they begin to converge on you, you feel this tickle of energy in the back of your mind and you watch as your hands begin to suddenly grow claws and scales, a red color.

TRAVIS: Vax! Do something!

LIAM: I cast Shield of Faith on my own ass.

MATT: Okay. Shield of Faith cast on Vax.

LAURA: Can everybody fly?

TALIESIN: I'm running up the wall.

LAURA: Before I Polymorph, I toss you my broom.

SAM: Are you going to allow that?

MATT: Sure. So you throw the broom off the side, and you begin to plummet immediately through the air as you're concentrating on the spell to cast it you finish it off, and you plummet back about half the distance, and then (whoosh) these giant leathery red dragon wings whip out of your form, and you catch yourself. The broom clatters to the ground, and Scanlan marches over and grabs it, manages to get it under his grasp.

LAURA: You know that word!

MATT: All righty. So you begin to ascend upward, right as they begin to descend on your dragon form.

TALIESIN: 20, 24, and 36.

MATT: 20, 24, and 36, they all hit!

TALIESIN: That's a strength saving throw, or they fall a little bit.

MATT: Strength saving throw, all right, that is an 18?

TALIESIN: Nope. They fall.

MATT: 21?

TALIESIN: That's okay.

MATT: And a 12. So two of them. You shoot two of the wings out of the way and they plummet down, and you manage to coast past two of them in your dragon form. One of them does manage to grab onto you and get its hands, big strong hands on the back of your head and try to steer you to the side.

LAURA: Can I cast Frightful Presence?

MATT: We'll get to that in just a moment. It's going to attempt to-- no. It tries to pull against you but, even with its extremely strong planar strength it cannot guide you away from the path, and you push past. You are now outside of the chamber in the base of the tower, just flying upward. You can go ahead and use your Frightful Presence. All right, so that's your action.

LAURA: All of the creatures-- no, of my choosing, so all the bad-- not bad guys, but you know, people we're fighting.

MATT: As you roar loudly and it echoes, filling the entirety of the chamber, the music of the surroundings now merging and shifting with this horrible dragon roar. None of these angelic entities seem even remotely affected by it.

LAURA: Oh, really? They don't have to make a wisdom saving throw?

MATT: They are immune to fear. Or being frightened, sorry.

LAURA: That makes sense.

MATT: But do you continue flying upward? Okay! So, you finish your spell, you take your shots, Keyleth, Pike, anything?

ASHLEY: Am I close enough to Grog to hop onto the carpet, as well?

MATT: Okay, so Pike and Grog get onto the carpet. Keyleth, what are you doing?

MARISHA: Are people clustered up together by now?

LAURA: Do I take the alignment of the animal that I'm polymorphed into?

MATT: Not the alignment, just your mental scores.

MARISHA: Are people super clustered, or is she now clustered with them?

MATT: No, she's above everybody. She's way past all you guys; she shot straight up.

MARISHA: So the angel dudes are all clustered together?

MATT: Two of them fell a little bit, one of them's on her back.She's making her way up, guys. The first stained glass is starting to run out.

MARISHA: Throw up a big level-5 Flaming Sphere. Ah, wait can I do a, with my spear can I do a higher-level Fireball? And just do more charges out of it? Or no?

MATT: I'll say no because you can't spend more charges to increase the level of the spell.

MARISHA: Then I will do a 5th-level Flaming Sphere.

MATT: Okay, so the flaming sphere slams upward against the side there. Saving throw. Rolls a one on saving throw. So it takes damage. Flaming spear hits it, however--

MARISHA: It doesn't hit both of them?

MATT: No, you can slam it into one creature per turn. The one that's on her back, you mean? What's the range on the flaming sphere?

LAURA: Come on, the time is running out!

MATT: No time for a book. Never mind; it doesn't matter. The flaming sphere slams into one of the ones that's not on her back. It's too far out of your range. All right, so. Who's doing what next?

TRAVIS: We're rocketing up on the rug.

MATT: Okay, the rug, not very fast, and her speed is much faster as a dragon, so you guys are coming up behind and you're just watching the dragon (flapping).

TRAVIS: Are we close to any of the other two that are at the bottom?

MATT: No, but as soon as that timer went out, the chamber's roof above you slams shut. You're all cut off from Vex.

TALIESIN: I was running up the wall. I didn't make it in time?

MATT: Not at your speed, no. It's a big chamber.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to haste, as fast as I can. When I clicked my boots, do I still get a hasted action?

MATT: Yes, you do.

LAURA: Okay, cool, then I can go 160 feet.

MATT: Yes, you can. The planar is still holding on to the back of your head, it's going to make another strength check.

LAURA: I'm going to try and tail whip him. Is that a thing I can do?

MATT: Make an athletics check.

LAURA: Okay. Oh, I have a red dice, it's so perfect and I never choose this one.

MATT: What did you roll?

LAURA: Oh, okay, well. What am I adding to it?

MATT: Add your strength modifier. If there isn't an athletics score, then whatever your strength modifier is.

LAURA: That would be plus five?

SAM: Are you talking about hers or the dragon's?

LAURA: Oh, a plus seven. So 13.

MATT: 13. The planar grabs one side of your horn and causes you to slam into the side of the tower, and you skid across and smash into one of the stained glass windows which (smash) fires out the side and you end up slowing down a bit and it actually takes you a moment, it halves your speed for this round. You try and get your wings back up. Are you going to do anything about the guy on your back or are you going to keep plugging as fast as you can upwards?

LAURA: He's on my back, or he's like hanging onto me?

MATT: He's on your neck and head. He's holding on and trying to steer you off to the side by controlling your movement.

LAURA: I'm going to spin and try to slam into the wall and knock him into the stone.

SAM: Can she do like a wing thing?

LAURA: Yeah, I'm going to use my wings to thrust me faster into the wall.

MATT: Okay, go ahead and make an athletics check.

LAURA: No, no. Okay. Athletics check, was a plus seven, so 19.

MATT: 19? 17. so you slam into the wall and you hear (groans) behind you, the stained glass that shattered, reforms right where you left it, and you continue to ascend upwards. Still holding onto you, but it's now disadvantaged on it's next roll because you slammed it into the wall. So (flapping) making your ascent upward as fast as you can, you watch as the tower slowly pincers closer and closer. You watch as another layer begins to close above. All right. He's going to attempt to try and slam you into the wall again. Go ahead and make another athletics check. Roll a d20 and add your strength modifier. Go for it.

LAURA: Okay. That one didn't count.

MATT: You didn't intend to roll it.

LAURA: Okay. Oh, okay, 21.

MATT: Yeah, you beat him. He tries to pull you off to the side and you begin to skid into it. Your wing hits the side of the tower (scraping noise), but you keep pushing forward. The pain hits you, you end up taking about 25 points of damage, just grinding into this divine golden side but you keep flying up (flapping) the tower gets tighter and tighter and tighter, you now can see as the planar is going to attempt to--

LAURA: Wait, can I--

MATT: What are you going to do?

LAURA: Is he hanging onto me with one arm now? What is he doing, because I knocked him into the wall, right?

MATT: Yeah. What are you doing?

LAURA: I'm going to just dash. I'm going to fuck him and just dash.

MATT: You're going to go double speed, all right.

LAURA: Double speed!

MATT: You shoot up. That gives him a full round to go ahead and try scare you off. Roll again with your strength.

LAURA: 15.

MATT: (crash) Slams you into the wall . You skid and slow down a little bit. You can see it's closing. But you are dashing so you get a second speed run, which does get you up towards where the wall's closing now. You can see now the bright light is getting brighter and brighter. Your eyes are hurting in its presence, you can see now a large brazier at the top of the tower that is now in flames, before you. You're not quite there; you have one more round, he's going to go ahead and now turn around, and now the angel turns around on your face. He is going to attempt to punch in your eyes.

SAM: Do you have legendary--

LAURA: I'm going to my legendary resistance.

MATT: Well, it's a physical attack on you. What's your AC?

LAURA: 19. Natural.

MATT: Yeah, it hits you, you take disadvantage on your next strike. Go ahead and roll an athletics check to try and buck him off. One last try, this is the only one you have time for. Disadvantage because he punched you in the face.

LAURA: Okay, 14.

MATT: 14, all right, you're slowing down, you're slowing down, you're not quite getting there, he's bashing you in the face--

LAURA: I'm going to take my claws out and rake him!

MATT: Okay, make another strength check.

LAURA: What is it, 18!

MATT: 11! You thrust him off your face! As he falls off down below, (flapping) you make it up to the top, and you now see the brazier is about the size of your dragon form. It's physically your size and you can see now the tower's beginning to close around you, what are you going to do?

LAURA: I'm going to reach the tower thing and push myself up through.

MATT: Okay, you pull your way up to the top, and now you're right above the brazier and the flames. You look down into the brazier, the fire there burning is ever-present light--

LAURA: I rush into the fire!

MATT: You dive into the fire. Your dragon form which resists it at that point, it immerses your entire form, at which point you hear the tower, guys, above you crack and you hear this echoing (smash) sound, of what sounds like shattering of a thousand windows at once. You, as you dive into the flames, feel this moment of searing bright pain in your eyes, in your mind. Your dragon form is immune to flames, but your form suddenly shrinks. The spell dispelled. The dragonoid form cast away. You sense this lost nothing; your whole body is numb at this point, and you are just surrounded by a white light. Much like where Vax, in the plane when he was communing with the Raven Queen, shrouded in darkness, this is endless, every color. You have no sense of personal form. You have no sense of time, place, and for the first time in a long time, you don't remember your name. For a brief instant, you think, what bit of conscious thought you can make, is this is what oblivion feels like? Did you make the right choice? Were you led astray? Were you strong of heart enough? The flames were intended to cleanse away sin, darkness, possibly those who are unworthy. Is this it now? Did you fail?

You guys down below watch as the chamber doors that closed off above you (scraping noise) open up again to reveal the tower. And you can see there, suspended in the middle of the air, thousands of shards of stained glass that had shattered inwards from the impact but frozen, held in place. As they all slowly retract back, reforming the windows that were once there. Whatever impact or shock wave had shattered them below reversed and repaired. And you watch as they do so, ascending, until the tower's back untouched as it was. The one planar that had ridden the dragon form of Vex towards the top of the tower slowly descends (flapping) and lands next to the three others. And they all give a nod toward the Dawnfather who's still there, not looking up, just looking at the rest of the remaining members of Vox Machina, his beacon of attention just shifting from one to the other. The three planars leave the still-open doors. "What does she mean to you?"

SAM: To us? Oh god.

MATT: "To you, all of you."

MARISHA: I told you that I was faithless, which might be true when it comes to the gods, but not with Vex'ahlia, not with Vox Machina. She gives me my power.

SAM: Her name is Vex, and she is greedy and mean sometimes, and she can steal a lot. She's a little bit not the greatest person, but her flaws highlight everything that is right about her, which is she does all these things to protect her friends and her family. She would give her life for any of us and for anyone who was truly in need. And she's not perfect, but she's the most perfect of all of us.

TRAVIS: She believes in me. She tries to teach me to use my brain, which I don't do very often. She tries to teach me to learn from the world. And she always cheers me up, which not a lot of people do. I believe in her.

MATT: The beacon shifts to you, Pike.

PIKE: I don't have a real sister, but I consider her more of my sister than I've ever had. She's family, and if you take her from me, there will be hell to pay.

MATT: The beacon shifts to Percival.

PERCY: She is Mistress of the Grey Hunt of Whitestone, Baroness of the First House of Whitestone. She is my heart and my judgment and the future that I have chosen, and she is the one that I have betrothed to.

SAM: What? Betrothed?

MATT: The beacon shifts back to Vax.

LIAM: She is every hope I have. When I am gone, she will make the world right. She has the intelligence and the savviness and the heart to make real world decisions. She is me, but better. She is your champion.

MATT: "Then there is hope." And you watch in the chamber before you, this second star seems to be birthed. This bright point of light that begins to swell. In equal intensity as the head of the Dawnfather himself as a flash consumes the chamber, and there before you, you see, now reborn, hair scattered back, intact, slowly descending, eyes closed, consciousness not yet drawn from within: Vex'ahlia. As her feet touch the ground and she falls to her knees. She breathes in.

Your eyes open. You look around and see the faces of your friends, your family. And you're immediately aware of the presence of the entity behind you. As you spin and look, where there once was a burning star-- and to the rest of you, you see the painful, endless light that averts your gaze. It doesn't hurt your eyes as much, and you can see the faint features, the soft cheeks, the hairless head, and the bright warm eyes of he who brings the dawn. And you can see the smile there, behind the light. "There is hope.

Get your blessing of the Dawnfather.

(gasping and cheering)

TRAVIS: Holy shit, Super Saiyan.

LAURA: What did I get? What is it?

MATT: You naturally have resistance to necrotic damage.

LAURA: That's good for me. That fucking Finger of Death.

MATT: And if you want to read the rest of that, you can.

LAURA: As a bonus action, you channel the light of day into your being. For one hour you admit, emit-- fuck me running, you emit bright light in a 120-foot radius, and any evil creature within that 120-foot radius that hits you with an attack or spell immediately suffers 4d6 radiant damage and is knocked prone.

MARISHA: Wow! You're a walking nuke!

LIAM: Shine bright like a diamond.

LAURA: (laughs) Once this blessing ability is used, it can't be used again for seven days.

ASHLEY: Yeah!

LAURA: Holy moly.

ASHLEY: Blessings of the gods!

TALIESIN: We'll have to add a sixth star to the de Rolo crest. Fucking excited.

LAURA: Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to represent you.

MATT: "If what you say is true, then we are too late to prevent his ascension. Know that killing a god is beyond even most deities. To destroy is to diminish one low enough to seal them away for eternity, as I have done once before. Such a technique I used to banish the Chained Oblivion once, after it nearly slew the Knowing Mistress. Having brought it low in battle, Ioun had devised something she called the Prime Trammel."

SAM: The Prime Trammel.

MATT: "Guided by a sizable sliver of a god's power, one such device could be formed, and when enough are affixed to a wounded god, seal them away in a plane beyond the Astral Sea. Such a method could perhaps force a new god back through the Divine Gate and beyond the reach of your world. Ioun, however, the one who has the design for such an artifact-- she has been in hiding since her wounding. She heals still, the wounded god, and has feared for the past eight centuries that her enemies seek to finish the job. We communicate on occasion through missives and emissaries. All that I know is the key to her hidden realm is within someone. The last word from the mistress from nearly a century before granted me this." The gauntleted hand extends and opens, and there you see, apparating in the space above what appears to be a three-dimensional topographical map of some kind. It slowly rotates, made of pure sunlight and flame. It's a mountain range with a glowing light within a small, hidden house or hovel within a forest. Make an investigation check. I would say Keyleth, Vex'ahlia, Vax'ildan, and Scanlan.

SAM: Natural 20.

LAURA: Oh, good, thank god. Because mine sucked.

MARISHA: Also a natural 20.

SAM: It's a real good map.

MATT: Yeah. What did you get, Vax?

LIAM: Not a natural 20.

MATT: Okay. Glancing at it, both of you recognize, as it pulls back and shifts inward, this is deep within the Cliffkeep. This is far north of Kraghammer. This is in a forested region outside the Pools of Wittebach.

MARISHA: Pools of Wittebach?

MATT: Wittebach. Once a gnomish home, it befell to a terrible natural occurrence sparked by unnatural means, and since has become a series of acidic and toxic natural liquids and waters that burble up from beneath the earth, and many wandering giants and larger ogrish folk use to their heart's content. But it's not in the Pools of Wittebach, just near it, this strange hovel. The voice of the Dawnfather burns forth once more, the heavy resonance shaking the room. "If you seek to devise these Prime Trammels, then take this stone, my champion. It should be enough essence for one of them." You watch as he reaches up into the halo, the corona of light around the head, and plucks from behind an ear a small bead of extremely bright light. As he pulls it from his head, you watch the strength and intensity of his glow ever so faintly diminish, and places it in your hand. As soon as it releases from the gauntleted fingers, so massive each finger is as thick as your torso, it plops into your palm, and the glow fades, and there before you, you see what looks to be some sort of an oval-like opal.

LAURA: I love opals.

MATT: "Now, I have invested what I can safely do within you. Go. Be swift. Find this key. Strike soon. Destroy or seal this great evil and prove my faith in you in not misplaced, Vex'ahlia."

LAURA: It won't be.

MATT: The doors behind you that are already partially ajar (rumble) open up all the way.

LAURA: I guess I'll put this in a really safe pocket, then. There's one that's got an extra snap. Triple snap and then a zipper over it.

MARISHA: Just don't let it fall in the toilet when you go forward to flush.

TRAVIS: I take out the little pebble and I drop it on the floor.

MATT: You reach for the pebble. It's not there.

TRAVIS: Shit. Is there a hole in it? No?

MATT: No hole. Sarenrae was not going to teleport you across the realm, letting you take away one of the prized souls of her people.

TRAVIS: Oh, those were the souls!

LIAM: That was the pope, Travis. That was the pope.

TRAVIS: Should've swallowed the rock.

MATT: As you exit the chamber, you can see the various souls and planar that wander the halls on their own business have all now joined shoulder to shoulder as a procession, showing you a respectful exit from the compound. As you walk, they all seem to give a nod of respect towards Vex'ahlia, the now freshly-chosen champion of Pelor for this endeavor. As you step beyond the staircase that leads you down beyond the Fortress of the Sun, into the center of the clearing that is watched and protected by the various trees of the Dawnfather, looking out amongst the endless progression of the orchards, you consider what your next path is to discover who and what this key is to Ioun, and hopefully there is enough time. Time right now, and the decisions you make, will greatly affect what can and cannot be done. And that's where we're going to end tonight's session.

TRAVIS: Oh my god. What the fuck!

MARISHA: Champions over here.

LAURA: Oh shit.

SAM: (singing) We are the champions.

MATT: This is so fun. I haven't been able to do epic-level content! That's so fun!

MARISHA: Is every episode going to be this emotional for the rest of the game? I can't keep doing this.

TRAVIS: Liam, what did you say?

LIAM: I said the twins are officially salt and pepper shakers.

MATT: You totally are.

LAURA: Oh my god, and I have the white--

MATT: You have the white dragon scale armor.

LIAM: That's right.

LAURA: Tight.

MATT: That's actually pretty great.

TALIESIN: I think this actually changes the crest of Whitestone now, because now there's a sixth champion of Pelor who's of Whitestone. Six stars, not five now. Holy cow.

MATT: Oh man. You should really not change that crest, because it's in the campaign guide that's being published in two months.

TALIESIN: It would only be hers.

MATT: Okay, there we go. I feel better about that now.

TALIESIN: It would only be her crest.

MATT: You know, it's okay, because the book technically takes place before all of this. There you go.

LIAM: Matt, I also have to throw out. We on Skype now get the full Twitch view, so I'm seeing you guys with all your icons, with everything, and it is the weirdest amalgamation of Baldur's Gate and Sega's full-motion video game from 1995 Night Trap starring Different Strokes.

MATT: That's all I've wanted. All I've ever wanted as a creative was to develop, design, and produce what I would consider to be today's Night Trap for you all. If we could achieve that, I've done my job.

TRAVIS: Liam, we miss you! Ashley, we miss you!

ASHLEY: I know, I miss you guys!

MATT: Thank you for staying up late with us. We really appreciate it, guys.

ASHLEY: I love you, guys.

MARISHA: We're god hunting without you guys. It's weird.

TALIESIN: We need our east coasters.

ASHLEY: Man, to think I almost didn't Skype in tonight.

MATT: I know! I'm glad you could.

LIAM: I'll give all my cows a hug for you.

MATT: All right, guys. Our tickets for the live show at Gen Con go up tomorrow morning. Look for that. Hopefully see you guys there.

TRAVIS: It's in an even bigger theater. We had an amazing time last time, and this theater is even larger, and we'll be mad, mad crazy.

SAM: Live, in person. Find out how tall Travis really is.

LIAM: Four foot three.

LAURA: We're all teeny.

MATT: Well, thank you guys so much. Rest wall, especially you east coasters, and you east coasters, and you other country-ers. Have a wonderful night. Sleep well.

LAURA: Thank you Marvel Puzzle Quest!

MATT: Thank you Marvel Puzzle Quest for being our awesome sponsor!

MARISHA: And check out the podcast!

MATT: Check out the podcast, which is awesome. And is it Thursday yet? Good night, guys!

[music]

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