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Pre-Show[]

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

TRAVIS: (hollering) We play Dungeons & Dragons!

LIAM: (high-pitched noises)

MATT: Ooh! Got into the upper echelon of notes there. Before we jump into tonight's session, we do have some quick announcements to get through, beginning with our sponsor for the evening, Deck of Many. Sam.

SAM: Our sponsor's are Deck of Many tonight, so tonight we've put together a deck of many characters. These cards are all the ingredients you need to get a classic Sam Riegel advertisement. It's stuff like, "offensive accent," or "parody song that we can't have the rights to," or "dad joke," or "offensive," or "offensive." So I'm going to pick three things randomly in this deck, and we're going to make a character for tonight. Okay, number one! Santa Claus. Number two, France. Number three, Doctor. All right, let's go to the props. Let's see what we got here.

TRAVIS: Oh good, they've labeled them.

SAM: Okay, got a doctor thing,

LAURA: Oh, how convenient!

SAM: Got a-- Oh god, yeah, got that. A French thing. Let's see what's a French one.

TRAVIS: The mustache?

SAM: Oh shit. Wait, these aren't peeled, are they? Let's just go with it, we'll go with it. Okay, so I now present Dr. Pierre Santa Claus.

ASHLEY: Nope, that's not how you put on a shirt.

SAM: Ho, ho, ho-jour! It is I, Pierre Santa Claus! Deck of Many just launched their Vendredi Noir, that's Black Friday, sales this year early. Goddamn it! (laughter)

TRAVIS: Get the mustache on there, get the mustache on there, hold for mustache!

SAM: If you use the code, "CR vingt-vingt", that's "CR2020," or the link, "dickofmany" I'm sorry, thedeckofmany.com/cr2020, you can get shipping on all your orders over fifty dollars in the U.S. and Canada. Of course, I, being Santa Claus, can deliver all over the world! On Dasher! On Dancer! On Depardieu! On Disneyland Paris! Ooh la la!

TRAVIS: Oh my god.

SAM: You can grab the classics from them, like animated spell cards, or the awesome RPG, Humblewood. Oh, I forgot, I'm also a doctor!

TRAVIS: With a joint?

SAM: Get me 20ccs of the brand new, Islands of Sina Una, and a hypodermic injection of The Griffon's Saddlebags books. (sighs) (laughter) I'm French, too! I do not shower!

LAURA: Oh god!

SAM: All right. Use the code "CR2020" or the link thedeckofmany.com/cr2020 thedeckofmany.com/cr2020 and get free shipping on all orders over 50 in the United States and Canada. Vive la revolution! Vive la medicine! Vive la Christmas! Back to you, Matt.

ASHLEY and MARISHA: Yay.

LIAM: Wow.

MATT: Wow! (laughs) That was... I haven't watched a person melt down in a while.

SAM: I didn't have a lot of time to write the bit this week. (laughter)

TRAVIS: We got a shout-out for Gerard Depardieu in there.

MATT: We did, we did.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: I am all for creating a Sam Deck of Many, and then we just have to force you to do this.

TRAVIS: Yep.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: But we get to cultivate the cards.

TRAVIS: That is a fat cigarette, is that supposed to be a cigarette?

SAM: It is a... I believe Marisha calls it a "blunt."

TRAVIS: Yeah. (laughter)

MATT: I do appreciate that it has its own mustache. Thank you, Sam. Thank you, Deck of Many. (whispered) I'm so sorry. (laughter) For our next, announcements are short today, Laura, you have something to talk about.

LAURA: Oh, well, hello there!

TRAVIS: Ooh!

ASHLEY: What is this?

LAURA: Hold on, hold on. (exclamations) I had to put it on, I just love it so much. So yeah, we decided to make our Jester hoodie from the Mighty Vibes video.

MARISHA: Yes!

SAM: Oh, it's from that?!

LAURA: Yeah!

SAM: Oh, that makes way more sense!

LAURA: So you can wear it, you can, you know, just, like, doodle, or whatever. This was, of course, inspired by the hoodie that was designed by Kami Areopagita. She's the wonderful artist that does the Mighty Vibes stuff.

MARISHA: Opening title sequence.

LAURA: Yes, she's phenomenal. And so, the hoodie is available in both adult and kid sizes. Pushed for that one. So yeah, they're available in the US, the UK, and the Australian stores. Check 'em out!

MARISHA: They're so cute.

LAURA: It's so wonderful.

TRAVIS: Ronin just loves to try to pull that horn off of your head.

MARISHA: Is it squishy? Is the horn squish?

LAURA: It squish!

SAM: Ooh!

TRAVIS: Lethal. It's lethal.

LAURA: It's not lethal, it's so wonderful. Yeah, I've had Ronin running around in his.

SAM: Look so cute!

ASHLEY: So cute! little ears.

TRAVIS: Pretty dumb cute.

MATT: I love it.

LAURA: So yeah, that's what I got.

MATT: Thank you, Laura.

LAURA: You're welcome.

MATT: All righty, well that's all we've got as far as announcements go today.

TRAVIS: Yeah!

ASHLEY: Yeah!

MATT: So let's go ahead and bring us into tonight's episode of Critical Role. (intense noises)

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

Part I[]

MATT: And welcome back, that was late on the draw, well done!

LAURA: Why am I always late?

MATT: Welcome back. So the Mighty Nein have made their way to Eiselcross. After agreeing to be hired by Lady Vess DeRogna of the Cerberus Assembly, you made your way across the Frozen Depths on an icebreaker ship known as the Midnight Hammer, did some battle, made your way to Balenpost, the Cerberus Assembly-handled outpost here for the Empire on the south end of Foren, the largest landmass within the region of Eiselcross. There, you made some friends, gathered some supplies, and prepared yourself to journey northward with Vess and your hired guide, Dagen Underthorn, the following day. During the evening, you scryed upon Mollymauk and discovered that he was taking some sort of a tome, a weirdly front-back-less bound tome, from a comfortable room, and seemed to peer back at you, could see you, and converse towards you in the middle of your scry. After this chilling exchange, you all bore down for the night, and the next day, begin to wonder why Vess hadn't come to meet you. When you went to inspect her area on the third and upper floor of the fort of Balenpost, you discovered her room had an open window, a thick layer of snow, and her body laid strewn upon across the bed, blood pouring from her head and various orifices. You inspected, gathered her body, set it within your amber, and wore it to keep it under wraps. Using illusion, you convinced the individuals, who were curious about why there was some commotion at Balenpost, that Vess DeRogna was still alive, and that they do not have to worry about anything. In these moments, you quickly gathered your things, met up with Dagen, and set out northward from Balenpost, with none the wiser, for the time being, of what has transpired. So, Mighty Nein, carrying your magically-sealed corpse of Lady Vess DeRogna, member of the Cerberus Assembly, and your fantastic guide, Dagen Underthorn, you leave into the frozen expanse, the distant white, snowy horizon of Eiselcross, northward. As the cold, midday afternoon begins to set upon you, the temperature causing your cheeks, or most of you who aren't Jester, to begin to sting with adjusting to the new, much more frigid out atmosphere. You crunch through the snow, foot after foot, heading northward. After you get a little ways away from Balenpost, and you think you have at least some comfort out of earshot, aside from your companion, your guide. If there's anything you'd like to do, discuss or anything, or we will move into the journeying portion of this trek.

SAM: Matt, I think your music stopped, by the way.

MATT: Oh, it did, it crashed, like apps do.

TRAVIS: Like they do. And just out of curiosity, so the snow is about how high? Mid-shin? Knee?

MATT: From where you are right now, it can range anywhere from about knee to waist.

TRAVIS: So are we going to be slowed in this thick powder?

MATT: You would, except you have, and brought with you, somebody who is extremely well-versed in these regions.

SAM: Is it me?!

MATT: No.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: Not at all you.

LAURA: Yeah, should we have bought, like, snow shoes or something? I didn't even think about that.

SAM: I just want shaved ice when I see you, Sam. It makes me so hungry. (laughter)

SAM: I got three different flavors.

ASHLEY: Bubblegum and grape.

TALIESIN: I'm into it.

MATT: So as you begin to set out, you watch as Dagen, who has affixed these metallic, shovel-like elements to the front of his chair, lowers them, and you watch as they press down and become like a sled/carving mechanism at the front. And he just looks back over and says, "Well, if you're going to follow, stay close." He begins to push forward. You can see the wheels he has it set to are different than the ones that he had when he was in town. These have these, like, jagged, metal grips across them so they can pick up upon the dirt and the rock. And he just pushes along, and as he does, it just grinds this path through the snow, he says, "We've got a few miles of this and we might hit some ice, at least hopefully part of the land that's not quite as challenging for you folk."

TRAVIS: Dagen, is there anything that we can help keep an eye out for on our flanks? Anything that likes to ambush or---

MATT: "Anything."

TRAVIS: Anything. Any-- Anything is what we're keeping an eye out for.

ASHLEY: Copy you.

LIAM: There's nothing good to see out here, then, at all? No cute, winter furry animals or the like?

MATT: "Oh, there are animals, yeah."

TRAVIS: Like jackrabbits or---

LAURA: We talked about the all of the monsters---

TRAVIS: Baby seals, or---

LAURA: The last game.

MATT: "I mean, you won't find seals as far into "the landmass itself. "You can go back to the shore if you're looking for seals. "But you might see some snow rabbits, "you might see some wolves, "you might see some other north-area bison of some kind, "but the further north we go, "the less game you're going to find."

TRAVIS: And this map from Lady DeRogna, here. I know we're traveling from Balenpost up towards Aeor. Are we going to go along this shoreline, around this sort of plateau-elevated area? Or are we going to go along this--

MATT: "I'd recommend going on the eastern side. "The cliffs are a little precarious."

TRAVIS: Lava area.

LAURA: Right, the lava river.

MATT: "We'll stay far enough away, no reason 'til necessary. "Anyway, follow suit." Now he does have Natural Explorer (Arctic) feature, which means difficult terrain doesn't slow his group down.

LAURA: Yes!

SAM: Oh, his group!

MATT: None of you can become lost unless by magic means.

TRAVIS: Except for Veth.

LIAM: He a Ranger?

LAURA: I bet he's a Ranger.

LIAM: He's a Ranger.

MATT: He's taken a little bit of Ranger, yeah, That's why he's a good guide in these spaces.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: So following his lead forward.

SAM: Where's your damn music?

MATT: It's not coming through to us.

ALL: (vocalizes)

MATT: There you go, we have our own set, perfect.

LAURA: Yay!

LIAM: Spooky.

TALIESIN: Ah, that's better.

TRAVIS: Spoopy.

MATT: Pushing onward, heading northward, you keep yourselves bundled, trying desperately not to inhale too deeply with any given breath, as certain elements of the wind as it cuts through can cause the temperatures to drop, far lower than you're expecting. And you catch yourself one point or another sputtering, as you can feel some of the moisture in your lungs seem to crystallize and freeze, having to cough them back out. This is going to be a tough trek, but nevertheless, as Dagen is leading ahead, who is helming the main visual range around you? Who is keeping watch for anything?

TALIESIN: I'll do that.

MATT: Okay, go ahead and make a perception check.

MARISHA: Can I use assist Caduceus?

MATT: Yeah, if you'd like to.

MARISHA: I hover in his-- I'm drifting behind him, you know, just trying to look wherever he's--

TALIESIN: You rolling with me or am I taking it?

MARISHA: You take it with advantage.

TALIESIN: All right.

TRAVIS: Staying in the wind tunnel.

MARISHA: Yes, yeah.

TALIESIN: Natural 20. (cheering)

TRAVIS: Start it off right!

MATT: These last two sessions you guys have just been 20-ing it. That's good. Keeping that in mind, advantage wasn't needed on that one. Dagen does shout over his shoulder as he's pushing forward. "You said we were going to the excavation to the east of Allowak's, right?"

LAURA: Um, A5 is where--

MATT: "Right."

LAURA: -- Lady DeRogna told us to meet her.

MATT: "I know roughly whereabouts where it is. I've passed through there and taken some folks to and from before, so just follow me."

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: So trekking through, there are--

LAURA: Plus, you know, I could maybe send her a message and see if those plans have changed.

TRAVIS: Oh, yes, perhaps--

MARISHA: Maybe after a few hours in, we should do that, though.

LIAM: Yeah, we're just getting started.

MARISHA: Smart idea. Yeah.

LIAM: Get some distance.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "Fair enough."

TRAVIS: Just a note, on this map, there is an "A?" that's way to the east, not in the direction we're going. We're okay ignoring that for now, right?

SAM: Feels like we should do the ones that, like, people have gone to before.

TRAVIS: Yeah, but the video gamer in me wants to go to the question mark.

LAURA: I mean, I definitely want to see what the question mark is, but you know-- I-I know-- Lady Vess had said--

TRAVIS: It's a long detour.

LAURA: -- you know, "2A and A, to alpha, and alpha, this is where it'll end."

SAM: Dagen, if we hit every one of the A's, how long would that--

LIAM: Share the map.

SAM: -- take?

MATT: "Just on the map, or all the ones that are known?"

SAM: Wait, there's ones known not on the map?

MATT: "Well, yeah, there's excavation's all around Eiselcross, across multiple islands and these are just the ones in the southern portion of Foren, here."

SAM: Oh.

LAURA: Wow.

TALIESIN: I think we stick to the map for now.

MATT: "I was only paid to go to the main excavation and some destinations in between, as you pointed out, but if you're wanting to go further than that, it's going to cost you more, and if you want to go across different islands, well, you're going to have to book us passage, as well."

SAM: Okay, okay, okay.

MARISHA: What's the furthest north you've been?

MATT: "(sighs) To the crater."

SAM: What's the crater?

MATT: "There's this odd kind of bowl crater. I've only been there once. There some of the wild folks tell myths of a place that, sometimes, it's not what you remember it was. Some people say it's a dreamscape of beautiful greenery in the middle of the icy expanse. Others say it's a volcanic destitute nightmare. Others say it's weird, desert landscape where flying beasts scream. And none of that makes sense and sounds like folks just going a little bit crazy when they're lost out in the wilds of Eiselcross, but I saw it with my eyes, looked over a mountain ridge and there it was. A big old valley filled with all sorts of weird lush green. Didn't belong."

TALIESIN: I think I speak for the group when I say I feel like we've seen weirder, so that seems--

MATT: "All right, well, there you go. Doesn't affect y'all that much."

TRAVIS: And you said this was further north?

MATT: "It's to the very, very north."

TRAVIS: Very north.

MATT: So right now you're tempting us with something that has nothing to do with our current mission.

MATT: "I can tell ya--"

SAM: That's amazing.

MATT: "-- there's a lot of amazing things in Exandria, and I hope you get to see some of them before you die, but I ain't taking you everywhere."

SAM: Okay, okay, okay.

TRAVIS: That's fair, that's fair.

LAURA: What if all the way north, maybe that's "homeward bound," you know?

SAM: Oh.

LAURA: Maybe that's where we're trekking, eventually.

MARISHA: If it's a giant crater, I wonder if that's where the--

LAURA: The city used to be.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Dagen, you don't happen to have a map, or know of any of these excavation sites that might be able to provide a map, north of Aeor's location, do you?

MATT: "I keep all that up here."

TRAVIS: Shit. Are you very good at drawing?

MATT: "Haven't tried."

TRAVIS: Okay, we'll check it later tonight.

MATT: "I can sign my name in the snow if that's what you mean, but..."

LAURA: (laughs)

TRAVIS: We'll talk later.

MATT: "All right, fair enough." And he keeps pushing on. Well, for the first day of travel, and to get to that specific location on foot, thankfully still keeping Dagen in your current group, you'll get there in about five or so days.

SAM: Damn.

MATT: That's five days of travel.

MARISHA: Sucks.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: So for the first day, I would like someone to roll a d20 for me.

LIAM: I'll do it! Zwolf. 12.

MATT: 12!

LAURA: Oh no.

SAM: You would've said that for any number.

LAURA: Yep!

TRAVIS: The extremes seem to be bad.

LIAM: Ooh no.

MATT: You move along a fairly quiet day. The weather is clear. The soft snow that was falling near Balenpost and the southern portion of the island begins to dissipate. The wind begins to fall to just a fair breeze. While it is cold, your journey goes unimpeded. So the first day's journey, relatively uneventful.

TRAVIS: Not bad.

LAURA and SAM: Nice!

MATT: Is there anything you'd like to do before the day is done?

SAM: Any scrying, any messaging?

TRAVIS: I will actually see if I can borrow a piece of paper from Caleb, maybe just a scrap, and see if he has any good cartography skills.

LIAM: Here's five or six complete pieces of paper, get whatever you need.

LAURA: Oh, well, I mean, is that expensive paper? You can use my sketchbook.

TRAVIS: Oh, yes, yes, yes! Please, keep your expensive paper. The sketchbook's far easier. I mean, he might totally screw this up. Thank you. Could you just--

TALIESIN: If we wanted to ask her any more questions-- well, we can't do that now, but in nine days or so, 10 days.

LIAM: That's how long a wait it is?

TALIESIN: It's a long time. It takes a toll.

LIAM: I definitely can come up with questions for her.

TALIESIN: It'll be a while.

TRAVIS: Dagen, I wanted to see how your map-drawing skills actually were. Do you want to take a gander at giving a rough, just a rough sketch of what north of Aeor might look like to the best of your ability?

MATT: (grunts) "Yeah, I figure weather's not too bad. Pass it on over." Takes it, puts it over his lap and begins to take this piece of rough charcoal, and sketch out. (die roll) (laughter)

TALIESIN: Well, that's no fun.

MATT: That was a two. He hands it back to you and goes, "I mean, that's as about as good as I can recall." I mean, it's... It's a Rorschach test with less ink. There's a point where he was like, “Ah, there's Balenpost, and that's where we're going, is Aeor, and up there's where that crater was, place I was telling you about. It's about another, I don't know--"

TRAVIS: Is this an organ?

MATT: "What? No. Did I drool on it? Hold on." He wipes his little patch of spittle from it where he got excited and like (spits).

TRAVIS: That improved it somehow. Thank you, this is wonderful. I feel like you have an Etsy shop waiting in the wings. Okay, I put that in my pocket.

MATT: "I appreciate the joking facetiousness. I just am not an artist."

TRAVIS: Nope, neither am I.

MATT: "Not one for cartography, but I know where I'm going. All right." And he keeps pushing on for the rest of the day.

LIAM: Actually, at a certain point when Dagen is ahead of us leading the way, I'll wait 'til he's preoccupied. Something that occurs to me that I want you all to put in the back of your head, is that our friend here probably is in some amount of contact with the other members of the Assembly, but not anymore.

LAURA: (whispering) Oh no.

LIAM: Ikithon, at least, has some idea who she is with, at the moment, so.

SAM: We may be hunted?

LAURA: At least we have the benefit of knowing that probably no one's going to teleport here for us.

LIAM: Probably.

MARISHA: They knew she was coming here. They knew she was going to be off the grid, so to speak, for a little bit.

TALIESIN: Possible communication can't reach this place--

MARISHA: Exactly.

TALIESIN: -- very well.

LIAM: Possibly.

MARISHA: Plus, maybe we can use to our advantage the fact that Cerberus Assembly members don't really seem to give a fuck about one another.

LIAM: I don't know if I would go that far. I think they probably all loathe each other. Some of them. But I don't think they would take kindly, all of them, to having their colleagues wiped out.

LAURA: One by one.

LIAM: Anyway, keep your head on a swivel.

TALIESIN: Always.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LIAM: That's all.

MARISHA: What is the plan? What is the plan? Because we came up with a temporary plan that buys us a little bit of time.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: I don't know.

MARISHA: Yeah, me neither.

SAM: What do you mean? We're going to go search for stuff, find Mollymauk, bring him back to his senses, get that book, go back to the Cerberus Assembly, and use it to take down the whole thing.

TRAVIS: But Lady DeRogna, what do we--?

LIAM: Well, in the short-term, we could probably play stupid at our first stop. She's not here, we haven't heard from her. You could try to communicate with her, and maybe not be able to reach her, or make up a response.

TRAVIS: She's in your amber, right?

LIAM: Yes.

TRAVIS: If someone tried to scry, like we did on Molly, would they just see your necklace?

LIAM: Well--

SAM: She's dead, you can't scry on a dead thing.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Yes, you can.

SAM: You can?

MARISHA: We scryed on Molly.

SAM: Oh, shit.

TRAVIS: Should I maybe give you your--

LIAM: Molly wasn't dead.

TRAVIS: -- pendant back?

LAURA: I scryed on Molly's grave site.

MATT: You can scry on a location and you can scry on a creature.

LAURA: Yeah, so you can't scry on a dead person. But if they tried to scry, it wouldn't work. But I thought all of them were protected against scrying anyway?

SAM: That's fair.

TRAVIS: Yeah, but she's dead, and she didn't have anything on her, no items.

LAURA: No, but they were taken.

LIAM: Picked clean.

TALIESIN: So if somebody starts looking for something that was on her that they knew was there, they wouldn't--

LAURA: They wouldn't find us; they would find--

MARISHA: Exactly.

MARISHA: They would find Molly & Co.

TALIESIN: Molly & Co.

TRAVIS: Right. As long as no one can track the item inside your necklace, again, like for the crystal clove. Cloven crystal.

LIAM: That was a whole other thing entirely, I believe.

MARISHA: I kind of like the crystal clove.

SAM: We'll be fine, we'll be fine.

MARISHA: (inhales) Ah, it's nice.

TRAVIS: Beat poetry.

MARISHA: (giggles)

TRAVIS: Daddy-o.

LIAM: How's it going, Dagen?

MATT: As you guys are like, cresting up the nearby hill, you can see the light in the skies beginning to dim, begin to get the sense that a colder night is to arrive soon, and he goes, "I'm keeping an eye out. I think I found a patch where we can go ahead and set up camp out here. I'll show you all how to live nice and comfortable here in the snow overnight. There's a trick to staying alive in this freezing cold. Come, let me show you," and he lowers the metallic piece down, and you watch as he leans forward, and sleds out of view on the other side of the hill.

TRAVIS: Whoa!

LAURA: Oh, man. That's--

TRAVIS: Should we try to keep up?

SAM: Yep. Let's sled. Who's got something?

LAURA: Oh, I got a shield.

TALIESIN: Last time I did this, it did not work out well, I'm going to sit on my shield.

LAURA: I'm going to put my shield on the ground and sled down.

TRAVIS: Yeah, go.

MATT: Both Jester and Caduceus rush up at the top, and then jump on their shields, and (sliding) much faster than you were expecting.

TALIESIN: Always true.

MATT: You watch as Dagen comes to the bottom of the hill, and he's guiding himself left and right, leaving this zig-zag trail. He's done this a lot, and has very, very intense control over it. Before skidding to a stop at the base of the hill, and as he turns around, noticing you guys coming behind him, both sides, he goes, "Shit!" and quickly wheels backward. I need both of you guys to make dexterity saving throws for me, please.

TRAVIS: You're going to clock our guide.

TALIESIN: Natural one.

LAURA: Oh no! Ooh, 19!

MATT: 19. So you manage to maintain control, you go spinning and spinning and spinning, but you come to a rest without issue. As Dagen lunges backward out of the way, you skid into the bank where he had ground his wheels into the ground trying to get out of the way, and as it does, it hits the shield, goes head-first into this little dirt patch. (crashing) And you go flying. (whooshing) You guys all get to the top of the hill and glance over as you watch this impact, and Caduceus gets thrown about 25, 30 feet through the air, before (crashing) like, his limbs all splayed out on an ice sheet, as he just spins.

LAURA: Caduceus!

MATT: Slowly coming to a stop, face down, in the snowy, icy ground.

LAURA: I get up and run after Caduceus.

LIAM: That's something, seeing a seven-foot tall dude go windmilling. (laughter)

MATT: Yep. You take three points of bludgeoning damage.

TALIESIN: Ah, that's fair.

TRAVIS: But what about his pride?

MATT: Oh, that's far more damaged.

TALIESIN: That's gone.

ASHLEY: You okay?

TALIESIN: No! (laughter)

LAURA: I run over and grab his sun hat and put it back on his head.

TALIESIN: Am I on an ice sheet or something? Or am I--

LAURA: Do you have a sun hat on? You don't have a sun hat on.

TALIESIN: No.

LAURA: What do you have on?

LIAM: A winter hat.

TALIESIN: I don't have-- I have a hat, but I wasn't wearing it.

LAURA: You don't have a hat?

TALIESIN: I do, I have a little thing, but I don't wear it all the time.

LAURA: It's very cold up here, you should probably put it on, Caduceus.

TALIESIN: A little flag cap.

LIAM: I'm going to fish out a bit of catmint and bring up Cat's Ire and just have the giant cat's claw sit upside down in the snow. Join me?

SAM: Yes!

LIAM: We sit down together and I basically just control the upside down claw down to the snow like a sled.

MATT: Okay, you both glide down.

MARISHA: Bye.

MATT: To answer your question, Caduceus, and there are some regions of this, especially in small valleys between hills, or areas where the land tends to swoop down a bit. A lot of the snow eventually just congeals into ice towards the bottom.

TALIESIN: So it's a slick?

MATT: Yeah, it isn't like an open lake or anything, but you just managed to land in a slick patch of solidified ice and just skid out from there.

TALIESIN: I'm going to crawl out of it.

TRAVIS: I think it's the three of us.

TALIESIN: Grab my shield.

TRAVIS: Have you ever tried to run downhill in snow before?

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

ASHLEY: I want to try something.

TRAVIS: Okay.

ASHLEY: I'm going to take out my Skingorger and use it like a snowboard.

LAURA: (gasps)

MARISHA: That's, like, the worst thing!

LIAM: A big rusty blade.

ASHLEY: I'm going to take it out.

LIAM: What could go wrong?

ASHLEY: And then head down.

MATT: All right, as you jump onto it, your first foot hits-- or your back foot leans against the back as the blade (vibrating) spits up like you're stepping on the front of a rake. The blade comes up a bit. You put your other leg on the front, and then just begin to lean, to let the weight hit as you hit the fulcrum point, and then (swooshing) Faster than you're expecting. Suddenly, you're being carried down at an extreme speed. Your hair (whooshing). You guys just watch Yasha become this blur of black against a white snowscape beneath you. I need you to make a dexterity check, please.

LAURA: On a very, very, very sharp weapon.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay.

TRAVIS: Oh, yeah, that's true. It's like a missile heading towards our friends.

ASHLEY: Oh, I have advantage. I have advantage on dex.

SAM: Hey, look, there's a sword coming towards us.

LIAM: We'll just go to the side.

ASHLEY: 15.

MATT: 15! 15. As you are gliding down, you see that one bit of dirt that Caduceus' shield is still lodged in, and you go, "Oh, shit!" and you pull back a little bit against the back of the blade, and as such, you actually catch the shield, as opposed to just digging into the bank. What it does, though, is launch you--

SAM: Yes!

MATT: -- a little bit, (whooshing) You get some air on Skingorger.

ASHLEY: Yes, get some air!

SAM: Touch the board! (laughter)

TRAVIS: Toe grab?

ASHLEY: Yeah, toe grab! Or heel grab, heel grab.

MATT: There you go.

LIAM: Wicked games, brah.

TRAVIS: (slicing sound) Ah! (laughter)

MATT: And you, in a surprisingly brilliant display of control, your first time bladeboarding--

LAURA: I just picture slow-motion, over my head. Whoa!

MATT: You eventually hit the same patch of ice a number of feet away from Caduceus, grinding into it, before coming to a stop. You can see, as the back of the blade, as you're holding it upward, you're actually sending a bunch of ice shavings into the air before eventually coming to a stop, and there's this--

ASHLEY: I'll do one of those (scraping skid) and then get Caduceus all sprayed with ice.

MATT: There you go. Whoosh! Caduceus, you are immediately coated in a light layer of shorn ice.

ASHLEY: Oh, hello!

LIAM: Yasha invented snowboarding! Canon.

TALIESIN: Somebody's not getting shaved ice. I'm going to start collecting it.

TRAVIS: We're just running down the hill.

MARISHA: We're racing because we ain't got shit.

LIAM: Oh, yeah, run down an icy hill.

MATT: You don't have to roll for this. It's not an easy trek down. You're both eventually going in, like, waist-height snow, like, having to grind through, but she's--

TRAVIS: But it's competitive.

MATT: It is. She's a monk, and she's much faster than you.

TRAVIS: You don't know that.

MATT: Yes, I do. It's on her character sheet. So you get about halfway down the hill before you look up and notice that Beau's already at the bottom, like Sonic the Hedgehog, arms crossed, like, tapping her foot.

ASHLEY: "Yes you do. It's on your character sheet." (laughter)

TRAVIS: I lost my shoe. I lost my shoe.

MARISHA: Oh, how far back?

TRAVIS: It took about-- you didn't see how long I was sitting down?

MARISHA: Oh, I think I see it at the top of the hill. Oh no.

TRAVIS: I'm wearing it now. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Good job, good one.

MARISHA: Yeah, that's good. If you want to resume your training at any point, let me know.

TRAVIS: Oh, I never stopped. It's not like I've gotten any better. But yes, maybe we need to increase our reps.

MARISHA: (laughing) Okay, yeah.

MATT: "I think I found a place!" You guys look over and this little bit of a valley area, some hills in the nearby space, you can see one of the hills comes to a brief cliff, and there's a tiny alcove underneath it, where icicles glide down, these thick icicles, that some of them come five, six feet long from the edge of the cliff to where they stop, giving this weird, cage aesthetic to this maybe 12-foot tall little shaded alcove under this edge of the cliff face. There, you can see Dagen is putting one of his sacks over onto the ground next to where he's situating, and he goes, "All right, this'll be a place to bed down for the night. We'll go ahead and build a fire, and this'll be enough of an area to keep heat for at least a semi-comfortable night's rest, so we don't freeze in our sleep."

TRAVIS: Is the cliff face all ice, or stone and ice?

MATT: As you approach and look, it looks like there is stone and ice. There are elements of exposed stone, but even they have some ice crystal on them. But you could probably melt back or carve back a bit of the ice to eventually get to stone.

TALIESIN: Do we--

MARISHA: Are we camping here or are we glamping?

SAM: We'll probably wait 'til he goes to sleep, and then we'll go into Caleb's--

MATT: Well, you've already used your mansion for the day.

SAM: Oh, wait, what?

LIAM: Is this the same day?

MATT: It's the same day.

LIAM: Well, I was going to-- all right, I didn't think it was the same day, but I was going to say, I think we should learn something here, because we could be without magic. We're going to be here a great while. Let's see--

MARISHA: That's true. What if you-- okay, if you summoned your mansion, though, is there a possibility that, like, you could summon it in the Abyss?

LAURA: Oh, right.

MARISHA: I don't know.

LAURA: What if we went in and then we came to step out and all of a sudden we were in another plane?

SAM: Because magic is weird here?

MARISHA: Yeah. Because magic is weird here.

SAM: Oh, we might want to do a night where we test it.

LAURA: What if we went in and instead of cats, it was, like, turtles? Fjord, it would be a nightmare.

SAM: You know what we could do, tomorrow night, when you're able to cast it, you could cast it, could send Frumpkin in, and then have him come back out, and see, like, if he was--

MARISHA: Is shredded?

SAM: -- mutated or something.

LIAM: Yeah, he generally disapparates, you know, in like a puff of fey cloud, but yeah, the idea is good.

MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: We can do that. But let's study everything that Dagen does so that we, you know, if we are--

SAM: We're still doing the dome, though, right? I mean, we're not crazy.

LIAM: Not tonight. Not tonight.

MARISHA: Full camping.

LIAM: Full camping.

MARISHA: All right.

TALIESIN: Good call.

LIAM: Study time.

SAM: I don't like this.

MARISHA: We've done this before.

SAM: Yeah, I didn't like it then either.

MARISHA: That's okay. That's fair, yeah.

LIAM: But I will light my hand on fire and offer to help start a fire for Dagen. Day-gen or Dag-en?

MATT: Dag-en.

LIAM: Dagen.

SAM: Day-gone.

LIAM: Day-gone, I assume.

MATT: The pronunciation's been a little wild last episode, but Dagen.

LIAM: Dagen.

TALIESIN: Hard to pronounce without the eyebrows.

MATT: So Dagen helps situate a space where you take some of the snow that's in that area, and create a slight exterior barrier. It's maybe about waist or so high.

LAURA: Ooh, I'm going to help with that, because I like to build with snow.

MATT: Okay. Just a little ways out in case the wind does blow through, to help cut where it would come through, in case it picks up throughout the night. With your help, you manage to dig a little pit in the ground where it's just dirt, like wet, damp dirt, and begin to set up what you normally would for a fire. You easily provide it, and he's like, "Ah, see, now that makes it a lot easier. Appreciate the aid." Once you get the fire going for a bit, you can see it lights up and eventually water droplets start falling from the icicles overhead that are beginning to melt. But this is a semi-comfortable camping space, in the sense that you will have to probably get very close together, and even then, you're half-exposed to the elements, and by the time you finish setting the space up, it has gotten to the point where dusk is long past, and there's just a faint, bluish-purple glow to the clouds above, that then turns into absolute darkness, beyond the faint bit of firelight that's currently glowing the interior of this space. The temperature noticeably drops even further, and you all instinctually begin to get closer around the fire and to each other, because it is fucking cold out there. But, as you all gather, Dagen reaches behind, and pull-- opens one of his... And you look at this point now behind and you see that he has this cloak over, this big, thick furred cloak that he throws over the back of the chair, but he has all manner of bags. Like, this huge collection of saddlebags that are affixed to the back of his chair, and he pulls out this glass jug, this dark glass jug, and goes, "If the fire's not helping ya, I got other things to help."

ASHLEY: What is that?

MATT: "It's good. Try it."

ASHLEY: Okay. (gasps)

MATT: Yeah, it is... It's Everclear. It's just, like, pure grain alcohol, but it's also weirdly grainy, like you can feel something in your teeth that grinds a bit.

LAURA: Gross.

MATT: Yeah, the texture is odd, but it definitely does the job, and as he sees your expression, he goes, "See, it's not meant to be enjoyable. It's meant to be functional."

ASHLEY: Oh, I can tell.

MATT: "Good, good. Anyone else?"

LAURA: Warms you up?

ASHLEY: Very warm.

MATT: "Yeah."

LAURA: (coughs)

TALIESIN: I'd be a fool not to.

MARISHA: Wait, really?

TALIESIN: I mean...

MARISHA: Okay.

ASHLEY: When in Eiselcross?

TALIESIN: Exactly.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I take a good slug.

MATT: It's rough. It's rough.

TALIESIN: (soft cough)

MARISHA: It's fine, yeah.

MATT: "Nice." (laughter)

LAURA: It does warm you up, though.

SAM: Why don't you have some of mine? I'll share my flask with Dagen. Try some of this stuff.

MATT: "Much obliged." He takes a sip. "Now this is some decent dainty stuff, not too bad. Not too bad."

SAM: Dainty stuff?

MARISHA: Is that your rosé?

SAM: No, that's not ready yet. We had to leave before it was ready.

MARISHA: That's right.

SAM: It was still whiskey.

MARISHA: "Your whiskey is dainty stuff." That's pretty bold.

LIAM: Yeah, I'll have that one, not the dainty.

ASHLEY: It is warm.

LAURA: Yeah, I feel it.

MATT: It does, it warms up the chest area.

ASHLEY: Yes, I feel it.

MARISHA: Yeah, I think I have heartburn issues from now on. Yeah, like, forever now.

MATT: "Yeah, well, welcome to Eiselcross!"

ASHLEY: I've never had a drink that's crunchy, you know?

LAURA: It's, like, gritty, you know? Like a little bit of sand caught in your teeth.

TALIESIN: Is that not normal?

MATT: "So I guess we'll be traveling a while here, and don't mean to ask any questions that are untoward, and let me know if I'm prying, because trust me, the less I know in some cases, the better, but-- but--"

SAM: You want to know which one of us is single?

MATT: "No, I was curious about what's your business here? I mean, you all work with the Assembly, or are you part of the Assembly?"

LAURA: Are you secretly in love with me? (giggles)

SAM: Oh, she's drunk! She's drunk!

LAURA: No!

MATT: "You're a real confusing bunch already."

SAM: We're independent contractors.

MATT: "Okay!"

SAM: We're not associated with any group other than ourselves.

MATT: "All right, see that's a level I can deal with. That's good to know."

TALIESIN: We've done business with just about everybody now, at this point.

MATT: "Same."

SAM: Yeah? Have you done any business with the Kryn Dynasty folk?

MATT: "Couple times, yeah."

SAM: Do they come through a lot?

MATT: "I mean, most of my work goes to Balenpost, just because they tend to pay consistently, but I've done two or three gigs now with some Dynasty folk, heading over... They got some sort of back and forth ship arrangement on the western shore, north of here."

SAM: Back and forth ship, like ferrying people, or objects?

MATT: "Both. Both. But-- Yeah, they generally keep to themselves, not too much conversationalists. Then again, neither is most of the folk the Assembly sends, which is why I'm a little curious. You're a little more... colorful than the usual suspects."

TRAVIS: Thank you!

TALIESIN: Kind of curious about the usual suspects. Ever work with the Tomb Takers?

MATT: "Tomb Takers? Can't say I have."

LIAM: What about other members of the Assembly?

MATT: "This would be my second round with Vess. Sorry, Lady DeRogna. Did one run for some fella. An older elvish fella, about a year ago."

LIAM: Stern. Stern type.

MATT: "Yeah, yeah. Martin-something."

LAURA: Ludinus?

SAM: The Martinet.

MATT: "Martinet. That's the one."

SAM: He's good people.

MATT: "No, he's not."

SAM: No.

TRAVIS: He's terrible.

LAURA: None of them are good people.

MATT: "I assume as such, but then again, I'm not here for the company, I'm here for the money."

LAURA: There's one guy, he likes animals. He's okay. But everybody else seems kind of shady.

LIAM: What was the Martinet poking about for up here?

MATT: "He was coming to oversee the initial discovery of the A2 on your map there."

LAURA: Oh, was there something special they found at A2?

MATT: "I don't know, I haven't been deep into any of these excavations. I'm not much of a delver. I'm more of just a surface guide."

MARISHA: And what was Vess looking for on the last run you went on with her?

MATT: "We were surveying all the existing ones currently on this map. Other than that one, to the east."

TRAVIS: The "A?"

MATT: "Yeah. Haven't been to that one, necessarily."

ASHLEY: But you've been to all the others?

MATT: "Been to a number of them, yeah."

SAM: And what are they like? Just ruins, or holes, or mines?

MATT: "I mean, each one of the ones, for the most part, seem to be subterranean. Sheets of ice and rock above, and someone stumbles upon a cave or digs deep enough and finds something. A number of... Say, about, I don't know, a decade or more ago, there was a subtle gold rush, if you will, northward, and people just started poking around. More interests up here, and that's when I made my way originally, trying to find some work, and it's been fairly steady ever since. But yeah, I don't go much far beneath the surface, because it gives me the willies." He takes another swig.

MARISHA: Who is the worst person you've ever escorted?

MATT: "Hmm."

LIAM: Is it one of us?

LAURA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Give it time.

MATT: "Only been a day, friend. I don't know, there was this rowdy bunch out of Syrinlya, Uthodurnian folk. I think I told you that's where I came from, and I don't know, too boisterous. Too loud. When you're trying to make your way across landscape like this, you want to keep quiet. Just a bunch of fucking dwarves singing about what they had for breakfast, about what they had for lunch, tales of mysteries to the north. They had beautiful voices, but they just wouldn't shut the fuck up. One day we got ambushed and they all got torn apart. I was the only survivor." (laughter)

LIAM: ♪ Tra-la-la-la. ♪ Ah!

MATT: "I just feel bad for the poor halfling they dragged along." (laughter)

SAM: Wow.

TALIESIN: Canon.

MATT: "So as I was saying, they were the worst." (laughter) "But you got time."

TALIESIN: I'm not okay.

TRAVIS: Do you remember where they fell, and if that halfling had anything around his neck?

MATT: "I didn't stick around to find out, but if I see any familiar territory, I'll let you know."

ASHLEY: It's crazy how all those mountains up there just look so misty. (chuckles)

TRAVIS: Oh boy.

MATT: "Trick of the light."

TRAVIS: Oh boy.

ASHLEY: That was bad.

TRAVIS: In your experience, the wildlife out here, are they more prone to hunt in daylight hours, or are they more nocturnal?

MATT: "Depends on the beast."

TRAVIS: Right.

MATT: "Here's the thing, when game is scarce, kind of matters whatever wanders in your space. You'll hunt whether day or night."

TRAVIS: True, I would hear tell of others sailors mentioning how animals would cross glaciers and floating bits of ice for miles, just to get to the nearest thing that moved.

MATT: "Not everything hunts for food."

LAURA: What else would it hunt for?

MATT: "Sport."

LAURA: Animals?

MATT: "Nature."

TRAVIS: Oh, I don't think he's talking about animals.

LAURA: Oh.

MATT: "There are many more things than animals in these parts."

LAURA: The monsters.

MATT: "Some that sneak, some that run, some that fly, some that burrow. Oh, yeah, no, you found yourself to the ass-end of Exandria, you have. Just be thankful you got me with you (tongue click)."

TRAVIS: Will we be extinguishing our flame at night, or going dark?

MATT: "Well."

TRAVIS: It's the same thing.

MATT: "We're not going to keep it stoked, if that's what you're worried about. But you're going to need the heat, I'd say a little more than you're going to be worried about being seen. That's why we're tucked in here. For the most part, we'll be all right."

LIAM: I'm so sorry, this has been very entertaining, sharing drink with you, and educational how you've built this little lean-to, and the fire is great, but this is a lot colder than I anticipated, so I begin to start ritual casting the dome. And I will fill in--

MARISHA: Wait, wait, wait, wait, and I pull him to the side. What happened to this being like a learning thing?

LIAM: Yeah, I learned, I saw what he did, I saw the setup. It's cold.

LAURA: Oh, here. And I pull out the Rod of Hand Warming. Are you so cold? You can use the Rod.

TRAVIS: This is like it's a book.

LAURA: Just hug it to you. It keeps your chest warm.

TRAVIS: It's only the first few chapters. Got to finish the book.

LIAM: There is no meat on my bones.

LAURA: Here, use this. Hug it to your chest.

ASHLEY: Do you want my jacket?

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: You can do this.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Much like the younger brother in A Christmas Story, Caleb is now suffused in layers.

LIAM: "Ooh, a zeppelin, that's mine!" (laughter)

MARISHA: Hey, this is going to suck, all right? It's going to suck all night.

TALIESIN: Anyone having a problem falling asleep, let me know, so I can help with that.

TRAVIS: What, are you just going to choke us out, or what?

LIAM: Snap our necks?

ASHLEY: A little dream tea?

TALIESIN: I can do about an hour of Protection from Energy which will make the cold not hurt so much.

LAURA: Oh, same, same. Yeah.

TALIESIN: So you can fall asleep properly.

SAM: I'll take that.

MARISHA: Yeah, sure.

TALIESIN: I can only do one at a time.

MARISHA: Aww.

LAURA: I can do you, Beau.

MARISHA: Okay.

SAM: Dagen, is there an unwritten code among you guys that you're not allowed to fall for the people you guide?

TRAVIS: Jesus Christ.

SAM: Or, if you do, that you're not allowed to kiss on the mouth or anything like that? (chuckles)

MATT: "Why ya asking?"

SAM: I'm curious about you and your operation.

LAURA: Oh my gosh, have you ever fallen in love with anybody that you're guiding? Have you ever had an affair with anybody that you're guiding, like a secret love affair or anything?

LIAM: With all just snuggling by the fire to keep warm.

MATT: "Why? No! Of course not!"

SAM: Aw!

MATT: "Look around you, it's a fucking frozen hellscape!"

SAM: You might want to cuddle at night to keep warm!

MATT: "I'll cuddle to keep warm, yeah, but it's physical only."

LAURA: Oh.

LIAM: Well, that's okay, too.

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: Okay!

MATT: "Look, you do what you do to survive. If fringe benefits come with that, that's fine, too. But emotion doesn't key into this."

SAM: That's what I was saying, you guys have an unwritten code.

LAURA: It starts as just a physical thing, but then slowly over the weeks that you're guiding them, you just realize, "Oh, my gosh, I think I might have feelings for them, but I can't let them know, you know, because there's an unwritten code," and then it gets awkward, and then long glances, you know.

SAM: But then at the end of the trip, you settle up your wages, and put them on a ship back to wherever they came from.

LAURA: And it's so tragic.

SAM: And they wipe a tear, and you wipe a tear, and you don't know if you'll ever see each other again.

LAURA: And then you have to pretend, you have to pretend for the rest of your life that it didn't mean anything.

SAM: Take that pocket of coins, and as you spend them, it's just one more memory going away.

LIAM: Hey, Dagen, are we the worst ones yet?

MATT: "Getting real close."

MARISHA: What was their name?

MATT: He takes a big swig of the jug, puts it back, goes, "I'm going to get to sleep." He goes ahead and unbuckles himself from the chair and sets himself down in his little bundle of furs.

MARISHA: I'm really invested in this story now.

MATT: "There isn't a story!"

ASHLEY: He's hiding something.

MARISHA: He's got to be.

MATT: "I'm not hiding anything, and I can hear you! We're real close!"

LAURA: You know who it was?

MARISHA: (gasps) Who?

LAURA: It was Sheila!

MARISHA: (exclaims of excitement)

MATT: He stays absolutely silent. (laughter)

SAM: We'll get to the bottom, we'll slowly break him down. Few more days.

TRAVIS: I'll take the first watch, and I will summon the Star Razor and I will cast See Invisibility to see if there are any wandering orbs, or things that are following us or keeping track of where we are.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: I will have Frumpkin, I will not take the first watch, but I will have Frumpkin keep Fjord company, and help look.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

MATT: All right. It's fucking cold, y'all. About two hours into your first watch, the temperature seems to keep dropping, and it's hard to sleep. You are finding yourselves occasionally waking yourself up with your body's muscles shaking to maintain interior warmth. This is terrible, and this is the first night here. You've got going on two weeks of travel before you get to the destination of Aeor's central excavation. Make a perception check for me.

TRAVIS: 22.

MATT: Okay. You keep watch for a bit, keep an eye out, you go ahead and use your See Invisibility and look out into the darkness, and it's odd, because, once again, you have the very faint embers of fire, that everyone you watch slowly just crawl closer to it as they need the heat, subconsciously, until it's just this tangled fire pit of furs and people trying to survive. And you're wedged in there, with your sword. It's got a faint glow off the runes as you look off into the darkness. And every now and then you see just faint bits of snow that fall in and then melt before they hit the ground. (vibration) This faint, little arcane glow appears at the periphery of your vision about 10 feet away in the darkness.

TRAVIS: I sort of look off, play it real cool. (whispers) Caleb.

LIAM: (meows)

TRAVIS: Wake up.

LIAM: (meows)

LIAM: What time is it?

TRAVIS: I'm sorry to wake you. Do you smell that?

LIAM: Do I smell it?

TRAVIS: Yeah, it just smells like rotting eyes.

LIAM: I go blind and drop into Frumpkin, and Frumpkin tipples up to the little snow wall and starts to just wee a little bit. Do I see anything?

MATT: No.

LIAM: Okay.

TRAVIS: Didn't really have a plan for what happened if I noticed.

SAM: (chuckles)

LAURA: Do you have Dispel Magic?

TRAVIS: Nope.

LIAM: So everything's quiet then, yeah?

TRAVIS: Pretty good. I think we're making good times towards the most eastern location that we're heading to. That one as far east on the map that we have.

LIAM: Oh, well we could certainly go further. Do I see anything when I look in that direction?

MATT: No.

LIAM: No. We could probably go farther.

TRAVIS: Yep. Yep. Well, that's it. Don't really know what else to do.

LIAM: I don't know that I can go to sleep now, Fjord.

TRAVIS: Yes, yes. I will actually... I'll walk out, slowly, casually, in the direction of this sphere.

MATT: Okay, it's only a couple feet off from where Jester's sleeping.

TRAVIS: Hmm. I keep walking until I'm-- About what height is it in the air? Like up in the air? Head height?

MATT: It's about head height.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'll just do that thing where you're like, just acting like you don't see it, and I'll try to get as close to it as possible and see if it moves.

MATT: Okay. It doesn't move. It's been stationary the entire time since it appeared.

TRAVIS: It's just a sphere, right?

MATT: It's just this tiny, translucent, gently pulsating arcane sphere, that's made of immaterial energy, and you can just barely see it, and it's drifting about three feet out from where Jester is sleeping, and it's about five feet, a little over five feet, off the ground.

LAURA: Is it similar to the orbs that were in the house when he saw--

MATT: Yes, it's actually pretty dang close to the spheres that you saw back in the Xhorhaus.

TRAVIS: I'll lean in close to where it is, and I won't look at it, but I'll say--

LIAM: You're wearing the amulet, too, dude.

TRAVIS: What's that?

LIAM: You're wearing my amulet, which dispelled those things before.

LAURA: That's true, he's wearing the amulet that dispels scrying.

TRAVIS: I think it just hides me?

LAURA: You, if you get close to it.

LIAM: I know, but we had instances where it--

TRAVIS: "You are hidden from divination magic. You cannot be targeted by such magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors." Right, but it's not looking at me. I'll lean close to it, and say: It seems like we're not the only ones watching. If you try to harm my friends, we will hunt you down to the ends of the earth. Keep. Your. Distance. And I'll walk back.

MATT: Okay. You're attuned to that necklace?

TRAVIS: I am.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I took off the... Ring of Fire Resistance. (laughter)

LIAM: Someday, someone will inherit that ring, though, and it'll be really meaningful.

TRAVIS: Look, we're a long way away from the lava, okay? There's still time. (laughter)

MATT: Okay. You watch it as you sit back down, then eventually it just vanishes.

TRAVIS: I'll go back over to Caleb and say: There was another scrying sphere eye. Someone is watching.

LIAM: Oh, great, take your pick on who wants us dead.

TRAVIS: The Empire, the Dynasty, Molly.

LIAM: (scoffs) My money is on the tiefling.

TRAVIS: "Our scent," he said.

LIAM: Scent. Our blood?

TRAVIS: Our blood.

LIAM: Maybe.

TRAVIS: Do you have any idea how to counteract that? Blood magic?

LIAM: Well, if it's that, no, I do not. Gods, it's cold.

TRAVIS: It is. All right, I'll keep an eye out.

MATT: Okay. For the remainder of your watch nothing else catches your attention, second watch, who's taking it? Okay, both you guys roll perception.

LAURA: Good. 14.

TALIESIN: 12.

MATT: Okay. You guys catch the point in the evening where the deepest cold hits. When your breath, even amongst the embers which have slowly died to this faint source of orange, dull glow. In this pitch black, though, it still is enough light that your eyes adjusted. You can make out the shape of your friends around it, and you can trick yourself into believing that the heat there is still useful. But your breath now becomes a perpetual fog in front of you. You can feel the edge of your nose go numb, and beyond this little alcove, the faint snow still falling, the wind picks up ever so slightly, but you don't notice anything else of danger. Nothing else beyond just the weather and the terrible discomfort.

LAURA: I crawl over and tuck under Caduceus' arm, so we can shnuggle.

TALIESIN: Got a cloak. We cloak. Brr.

LAURA: This is awful.

TALIESIN: Someone once said pain is good for you.

LAURA: Who said that?

TALIESIN: I don't know. They're terrible people.

LAURA: They're horrible.

TALIESIN: Yep.

LAURA: We should make sure that Caleb uses the dome from now on.

TALIESIN: I respect the learning experience, and I feel like we've all learned a lot.

LAURA: I feel more mature now.

TALIESIN: You seem more mature.

LAURA: Thank you.

MATT: All right. We'll say for the purposes of the evening, the rest of the morning light begins to come in. I would like everyone to make a constitution saving throw for me, please.

TRAVIS: A saving throw?

MATT: Yes.

LAURA: Everyone?

MATT: Everyone.

TRAVIS: Natural 20.

ASHLEY: Same!

TRAVIS: 25.

MATT: Nice!

TALIESIN: 16.

MARISHA: 16.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Nine.

LIAM: 19.

LAURA: 18.

MATT: Damn, look at you guys rolling high. Except for you, Sam. You take a point of exhaustion.

SAM: Okay.

TRAVIS: Ooh.

SAM: Exhaustion one.

LIAM: Love you, transmuter's stone.

LAURA: Except he did, at the beginning of the night, have Protection from Energy.

SAM: For one hour.

MATT: For one hour.

TALIESIN: It won't undo the exhaustion if I'm casting it on her?

MATT: Cast--?

TALIESIN: Protection from Energy again?

MATT: No, the exhaustion is there. It's a whole night of very tenuous sleep in a very harsh environment that caused it. But nevertheless, as you guys all come to consciousness, you see that Dagen is already situated up in his chair, and has currently set the fire up a little bit, and is cooking up what smells like some decent meat. You look over and he has a little cast iron skillet out there and he's blowing on the flames as he's holding it over there, his thick, grizzled hand holding it and you can see the edges of it beginning to curl and burn.

TRAVIS: I told Caleb this last night, but we had someone watching us. There was a scrying sphere in the air.

MATT: "Well, that's some bullshit."

TRAVIS: Yes.

MATT: "Who'd be scrying on you?"

TRAVIS: Well, that's a great question. I'm not sure if it was an enemy or a friend. But Jester, it was located where you were. Perhaps it's the Gentleman? Or perhaps it's--

LAURA: I don't think he can do it.

SAM: Sounds like Lucien, because she scryed on him and he knows her now.

LAURA: It could be anyone from the Assembly.

TRAVIS: Does Lucien know her now, though, from the scrying spell?

LAURA: Yes.

SAM: Didn't he say to her, "Thank you for--"

LAURA: Well, no, he wouldn't have seen me, he would've seen a little ball, you know?

SAM: Yeah, but maybe he has some magic that can back trace it. I mean, he said, when you scryed on him last, "Thank you for leading me to you," or something like that.

LAURA: Yeah. He said he caught our scent.

LIAM: He's also covered in eyes. It seems to be a motif.

TALIESIN: Blood magic?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: Probably. Well, if that happens again, just wake me up. I can dispel it.

TALIESIN: I gave someone blood ages ago.

SAM: Was that you?

MARISHA: It was the Gentleman.

TALIESIN: What happened to that blood?

MARISHA: I think he still has it.

LAURA: No, the Gentleman gave it to me. I have it! I have all of our blood, see?

TALIESIN: Well, at least we know it's not that.

TRAVIS: Wait, I thought-- didn't Cree--?

SAM: Cree, yeah. She was the blood person.

TRAVIS: Cree. Didn't she draw blood out?

LAURA: She drew our blood and gave the vials to my dad, and I took our vials from him.

TRAVIS: What, she didn't keep any for herself?

LAURA: She could have, but you know--

MATT: Make an investigation check, Jester.

SAM: All the vials are empty. You just never noticed it.

TRAVIS: They're ketchup.

TALIESIN: It's cranberry juice!

LIAM: While everyone's debating--

LAURA: Investigation?

LIAM: -- Caleb holds his hand out and uses Control Flame, and I make the bonfire grow two feet and hotter.

TRAVIS: Awesome.

MATT: Dagen goes, "Oh, shit!" He holds it up top.

LAURA: 12.

MATT: 12? I mean, it's hard to tell. The amount you have in the vials is not a lot, but you have a hard time really recalling how much was taken. Could be all of it, you don't know.

TRAVIS: I think they were almost full, if I remember correctly.

TALIESIN: Interesting.

TRAVIS: Why, do you know anything about blood magic?

TALIESIN: No.

TRAVIS: Oh, good, yep.

LAURA: Oh! Well, wait, no.

TRAVIS: Cool.

SAM: But if it was hovering near Jester that implies that it's someone who has recently been thinking about Jester.

LAURA: When you do that, when you scry on someone, you can only see that person. You know, like you go in and you see them and you can see the things very close. Like, if I was reading a book, they would see that I was reading a book, but they would have to really focus to try to see what book I was reading, you know what I mean? So it has to be focused on me if the ball was near me. Unless I was lying close to anybody else, but I mean, still, if it was close to me.

SAM: If this happens again, perhaps we should have some sort of code word where Fjord can say like--

TRAVIS: I'm terrible at my job.

SAM: -- artichokes--

TRAVIS: Yep.

SAM: -- and you can then start spouting off incorrect knowledge about our destination or something like that.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: You also have to do a little test and see if anything happens in the mansion. I think that might be off limits, maybe? Maybe. Money is still on the tiefling, though, because if you were the focus, it's possible anyone could've been looking at you, but who at the Assembly would focus on you? Who in the Dynasty would focus on you?

SAM: Someone with very good taste in people.

LAURA: Thank you very much.

MARISHA: I mean, he looked back at you last time that you scryed.

LAURA: Yeah, but all he could see was a ball, you know what I mean? Like, Fjord, you wouldn't--

TALIESIN: You think.

TRAVIS: I don't have nine eyes tattooed on me.

LAURA: What would I look like if he could see me in a little ball? Do you think it would be like--

MARISHA: Fisheye?

LAURA: Like a fisheye, yeah? Would he have seen my facial reactions as he was talking to me? 'Cause I didn't think anybody could see, you know.

TRAVIS: You were sleeping with your mouth open, if it's any consolation.

LAURA: Was I drooling? Oh, it's frozen. That's interesting.

MATT: "Well, I don't know nothing about blood magic, but whatever the fuck y'all are tied up in sounds real complicated. But I got some bacon."

MARISHA: Bacon!

MATT: "It's not real bacon; it's wolf bacon, but it's similar texture."

TRAVIS: Wolf bacon.

MATT: And it's actually a pretty solid slab here. He's like, "I figure this would be a nice way to welcome you after your first night out on the plains. Everyone sleep okay?"

LIAM: (shivering)

MARISHA: We didn't.

MATT: "(laughs)"

TALIESIN: Tomorrow night will be better.

LIAM: Like a frozen log.

MATT: "It's not going to get better, so buck up."

TRAVIS: We learned a lesson, yes? Hard lesson learned. All the wiser for it? Seasoned travelers?

LIAM: So much character built last night.

TRAVIS: So much.

SAM: Barely slept.

TRAVIS: Bushels of character.

MATT: "It's early, we should get moving." He goes ahead and pushes some dust over towards the flame, "If you don't mind lowering it a bit."

LIAM: Do you want me to get rid of it, or just to bring it down?

MATT: "Get rid of it."

LIAM: I extinguish it completely with a wave of my hand.

MATT: "That's easy." He wipes the ash and his palm on him, and goes, "All right, get our stuff," and he puts all the things in the back of his chair. "Ready to go?"

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Yep.

MATT: "All right, follow me. Come on, Sheila." He begins wheeling outside of the alcove and heading back into the plains. Now, I would like someone to roll another d20 for me, please.

LAURA: Who rolled before?

LIAM: I did it last time.

LAURA: Okay, you're up.

SAM: I'm doing it. Don't fuck me, Gil. 15.

MATT: 15. You travel for about four or so hours into the cold expanse. The snow fall is still gentle, but the temperature is still freezing and now that your body has spent an evening in the elements, it seems to cut even deeper than it should. Uncomfortable as it is, Caduceus and Beauregard.

MARISHA: Oh shit. Oh!

MATT: You both keep an eye a little ways to the northwest of where you are. And you see something protruding from the snow that has a texture unlike the surrounding rock.

TALIESIN: Daygen, is that normal, that?

LAURA: Dagen.

TALIESIN: Dagen, Dagen.

MATT: "You can call me whatever you want, it's fine."

TALIESIN: Oh. Dagen.

MATT: "I mean, it looks like a rock."

TALIESIN: Does it?

MARISHA: Does it look like a landmark or like--

TALIESIN: Is it moving at all?

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: "Pretty stationary to me. Want me to go check?"

TALIESIN: (uncertain noise) What does everybody think?

MATT: Starts making his way over.

TALIESIN: Oh, never mind. Let's keep up. Don't separate the party.

MATT: Okay, as you get closer, you see an ice-coated column that's protruding about six feet from the rest of the surrounding ground at an odd angle, like a weird--

MARISHA: Ruin?

MATT: Monolithic ruin-like column that's just sticking out.

MARISHA: Okay, let's go over, yes, yes, yes.

LAURA: Is this one charted? Is it on the map anywhere? Did we find a ruin?

MARISHA: Is this an excavation site?

TRAVIS: I don't think so, if we've been heading north from Balenpost.

LIAM: There could be things that are not on that map. Uncharted.

MATT: He's been tucking you guys a little close to the mountain to try and keep from being way out open in the plain. He's like, "I'm sure I've passed this town again, but generally don't poke too close."

TALIESIN: Detect Magic.

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah.

MATT: Okay, casting Detect Magic. There is a faint magical aura about four feet beneath the snow's surface where it's poking out of. And it has a fairly strong necromantic aura to it.

TALIESIN: Detect undead.

MATT: No sense of undead.

SAM: Detect everything else.

MATT: Detect narrative plot point.

TALIESIN: There's something weird with an undead necromantic vibe about four feet underneath this thing.

MARISHA: How far away is it from us right now?

TALIESIN: Could be dangerous.

MATT: From where Dagen stopped making his advance towards it, it's about 15 feet.

MARISHA: Oh, 15 feet?

MATT: 15, 20 feet from you.

MARISHA: That's not far.

SAM: This is all snow, right, Matt? Is this dirt rock snow or just snow?

MATT: It's just snow around you, especially after a night of snowfall. As you step through, your feet occasionally find frozen ground beneath and stone, where the ice and snow packed through eventually.

TALIESIN: Do we want to maybe melt?

LAURA: Yeah, with like Sacred Flame or something?

TRAVIS: Before we do that, the column, what does the column look like? Does it have markings, is it just brick? Stone?

SAM: Let's go, we go.

TALIESIN: Keep some distance.

MATT: You go ahead and you get closer and you see it has this faint scrolling across the surface. It just looks like a rough stone texture, but the closer you get, especially you three, you can see there's these geometric lines that connect around it. And there are these little carved small spaces on the stone.

MARISHA: On the pillar?

MATT: On the pillar itself, yeah.

ASHLEY: The lines are on the pillar?

MATT: Correct. They're carved in it.

LIAM: Necromantic, or just arcane in general?

MATT: You get the sense, with your experience, that these type of designs can be used to connect elements of arcana. Or it could be just design work inspired by.

TRAVIS: And do the spaces look like damage to the pillar or reliefs that an object might fit into?

MATT: Make an investigation check for me.

TALIESIN: This thing is giving me the heebie jeebies.

TRAVIS: 22.

MATT: 22. You can tell, as you get a bit closer and look over it, that there were a number of settings in this that once held stones or something smooth and round. There are multiple places in these designs where these, of different sizes it seemed, though still roughly around the size of a gold piece, where these stones were inset. But now you look on the outside and you can see bits where the stone has been carved and chipped. Where somebody has probably pried them out.

LIAM: Anything left behind?

MATT: Within that space?

LIAM: In any of the spaces?

MATT: Any of those spaces that are visible right now, no, they are all empty.

LAURA: Maybe beneath the snow.

LIAM: Yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: Let's start melting the snow around it.

LIAM: Is it icy or snow?

MATT: It's snow on top, but if you start getting close enough to dig underneath, about a foot of snow leads to just solid ice.

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: Before we dive into this, remember what Dagen told us--

SAM: Sometimes savaging isn't worth it.

MARISHA: Isn't worth it, right. So before we start--

LAURA: This is not a body.

MATT: "I did actually say that."

MARISHA: You did say that, it very wi-- you were very drunk, but it was very wise.

TALIESIN: It was.

MATT: "Usually the two work well together."

MARISHA: I agree. But I think, before we go into this, how long are we going to spend time on this before we decide to move on?

SAM: A couple days.

MARISHA: No.

TALIESIN: I'd be okay with no more than an hour.

MARISHA: No more than an hour.

LAURA: Maybe it's not, like, an entrance anywhere, maybe there's just, like, a pillar. It's just a marker or something.

MARISHA: These things can be rabbit holes. They can keep going for forever. It depends on what's worth it. Why are we here?

TALIESIN: There's something about four feet down and it's giving me a bit of a bad vibe.

ASHLEY: It could be an extra stone just underneath.

TRAVIS: Caleb, you couldn't read any of these markings, right? That's not a language--

LIAM: I assume I would've been able to if it's by sight.

MATT: Make an arcana check.

LAURA: You don't have to cast anything anymore. You can just read things?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LIAM: Well, I mean, I have done a lot of stuff for a long time.

LAURA: How many languages do you speak?

LIAM: Four.

SAM: Yeah, but one of them's Pig Latin, doesn't really count.

LIAM: 24.

MATT: 24.

MARISHA: I can speak five. I know more languages than you do.

LAURA: Beau, you're so smart.

TRAVIS: Okay, it's not a competition.

TALIESIN: It's only not a competition if you win.

MATT: Best you can assess, these designs are meant to connect different arcane power sources. What bits of equation work have been woven into the stonework is a little out of your specialty. The language is some variation of Draconic that you can get the essence of, but it's like somebody took the language you're familiar with and began making their own Pig Latin version of it.

LIAM: Everybody, take a breather. Let me try something. I spend 10 minutes, and do some muttering and wave a bit of soot and salt in the air, and cast Comprehend Languages, and take another look.

MATT: Okay. It helps a little bit. It's less of a written language and more of an arcane equation language, if that makes sense. So it doesn't give you information regarding any speech or ideas that have come across, but what you are able to ascertain is this pillar was used, while it has a strong necromantic aura that he figured out, all of the geometry around it has a heavy abjuration feel to it. Some sort of defensive, protective magic, as of design. Though all the gems that are visible appear to be missing.

MARISHA: We're standing on a tomb.

TRAVIS: Could be.

LAURA: What is abjuration stuff? What is abjuration stuff?

LIAM: Oh dear, that's protection magic.

SAM: You're a magic user. You know all about this stuff.

LAURA: No, the Traveler doesn't tell me, like, what kind of magic I'm using. He's just like, "Here, here's the magic. You can use it to change your appearance." I don't know what it--

SAM: That's fair.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: (as Artagan) "That's very true."

LAURA: Hi.

TALIESIN: What do you think, Caleb?

TRAVIS: (surprised noises)

LIAM: Well, it's to keep people out of something. I don't know if it's a door or a tomb or a gate.

TRAVIS: Oh, this sucks. I always want to see what they want to keep us out of. Let's go.

ASHLEY: You want me to try to chip away some?

TRAVIS: No, no, no, no, not that.

LAURA: We could melt the ice.

SAM: Yeah, what are we talking about? Of course we're going to melt the ice.

LIAM: We could melt it. We could dig the snow out.

TRAVIS: Do it, melt it. Melt the ice at least.

MARISHA: I dealt with a snow clearing brigade.

TRAVIS: What, with your hand?

MATT: Dagen goes, "All right, it's all sorts of interesting," and then wheels his way a safe distance from what you guys are doing.

LIAM: Yeah, like 50 feet back. Come with me.

LAURA: Back up, back up, back up.

LIAM: So I take out catmint again and Frumpkin floats in front of me for a moment and then vanishes, and there's a gigantic cat claw, and the claw just goes (blows) and just starts digging huge heaps of snow.

MATT: All right, and you watch as the arcane cat claw begins to just carve into the ice, and pull it away in chunks as it breaks and cracks, and grinds into the sides, like a terrifying arcane... What are they called?

TRAVIS: Cat?

MATT: Sure, yeah. I was going to say like the ice chisel machines.

TRAVIS: Oh, snow cat.

MATT: Goddammit.

TALIESIN: Still a cat. Snow cat claw.

MATT: There you go. A short time, you begin to pull away all the snow and ice to reveal more of the pillar. And about five or so feet down, you can see where a lot of these grooves all begin to come to a little larger than a fist-sized smooth emerald-like gem, that still remains affixed into this pillar.

LIAM: Are you still getting a read on that from a distance?

TALIESIN: It's 10 minutes, long gone.

LIAM: Hold on.

TALIESIN: But my guess is that--

SAM: It's just in the ice?

LAURA: No, it's in the pillar.

MATT: It's in the pillar.

LAURA: It's one of the stones that didn't get taken out.

TRAVIS: I think everyone that pulls a gem out just dies.

LIAM: All right, I'm going to get within 30 feet of it and I will cast Detect Magic.

MATT: Okay. Very strong necromantic energy emanating from this gem.

LIAM: Oh, boy.

TRAVIS: Totally take it.

ASHLEY: I can go grab it, just with my bare hand, if we need to.

TALIESIN: No, I wouldn't.

SAM: We're going to have to chip it out.

MATT: Yeah, it would not be easy to remove, and it would need to be worked to be removed.

TRAVIS: This is literally the stupidest thing we should be doing. We should just keep going, right?

LIAM: This pivoted the entire campaign one, what we are fucking with right now.

TRAVIS: Yep. We should just go.

LIAM: The necromancy thing.

TRAVIS: Just keep going, right?

MARISHA: How long have we been working?

TRAVIS: 20, 30 minutes.

MATT: At the pillar, I'd say about 20 minutes.

SAM: Yeah, we got 40 minutes.

TRAVIS: Is the juice worth the squeeze? We got like a Mage Hand, right?

SAM: Sure, that's not going to be able to pry something out.

TRAVIS: Could it take a dagger? Doesn't work like that?

LIAM: I'm going to try another thing. Everyone back up again, come back 50 feet, 50 feet.

TRAVIS: 50. Five zero.

LIAM: Yeah, and I start waving my hands in the air, and I will reach out my hand and use Telekinesis to pull the gem out.

MATT: Okay, go ahead and make a--

TRAVIS: And there goes our wizard.

MATT: It would be a strength check. If it gives you a strength value with Telekinesis or you would use your--

LIAM: I think it's my DC. "You can try to move an object that weighs up to 1,000 pounds. If it isn't being worn or carried, you automatically move it up to 30 feet in any direction, but not beyond the range of the spell. If the object is worn of carried by a creature, you must make an ability check."

MATT: Correct.

LIAM: "Contested by the creature's strength check."

MATT: Right, so go ahead and roll an intelligence check. So roll a d20 and then add your intelligence modifier.

LIAM: 12.

MATT: 12. As the Telekinesis pulls on it, it does not come free. However, it begins to pulse slightly.

MATT: (heartbeat, blast sound) There is this darkened shockwave that in a split second heads out for a 60 foot radius.

SAM: No, we're 50 feet away!

MARISHA: We're 50 feet back.

MATT: Yep. I need everyone to make a constitution saving throw with this.

MARISHA: Oh my god.

TRAVIS: Have we learned nothing in five fucking years? (laughter)

LAURA: Did we all just die? Did this TPK?

MARISHA: Nothing.

TRAVIS: Constitution saving throw.

MATT: Yes, please.

TRAVIS: 22.

MATT: 22.

LAURA: N-n-n-n-nineteen.

MATT: Nice.

LIAM: 14.

SAM: 14.

ASHLEY: 22.

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: 17.

MARISHA: 16.

MATT: All right, so raise your hand if you got 18 or higher.

LAURA: Uh oh.

MATT: All right. Let me roll the other half of this.

TRAVIS: The other half of this.

MARISHA: It's been a joy. It's been a pleasure.

SAM: This was worth it.

TRAVIS: It's nothing. It's nothing in the middle of nowhere. It's 15 out of 20 options.

MATT: So Yasha, Jester, and Fjord, you all take 26 points of necrotic damage.

ASHLEY: I'm resistant, so...

MATT: So you take half that.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LAURA: 26?

MATT: 26, you take 13.

MARISHA: We're about take 52 points of damage.

MATT: The rest of you take 52 points of necrotic damage.

MARISHA: Oh my god.

LAURA: Okay, at least you're not dead. But we're all cursed.

MATT: Daygen also takes that. (laughs)

LAURA: Matt, it's Dagen. (laughs)

MATT: Dagen. You guys are fucking me up.

TRAVIS: Holy shit. Do you want us to die out here? (laughter)

MATT: I don't even remember what I set it as now. Like, it's gone around so much now that it's just an amorphous name.

TRAVIS: Pretty sure it's Dajin.

LAURA: I remember it being not Dagon so it's Dagen.

MATT: Right, I was trying to make it as far away from Dagon as possible and then I don't even remember what I set it as, and now it's just whatever. If it's loosely near the name, he'll answer to it at this point. I'm sure he's heard all sorts of variations of it.

ASHLEY: I'm going to call him Dagoon.

LAURA: Dagoon?

MATT: So you all hear this high-pitched, screaming whine as this shockwave of dark energy just emanates from around it. (boosh) And you feel it tear through your body, like someone just punched through your soul for a brief second. Your breath is knocked from you, your vision goes black for about a second, before suddenly, (gasps), you all inhale together as once, and fall to your knees coughing. (coughs) You see Dagen in his chair like, "(coughs) All right, like I said, don't do that shit!" (laughter) I warned you! You even brought it up. I'm getting way back next time."

LIAM: Caleb says, not even loud enough for anyone to hear: (strained) Are we the worst? We're the worst, aren't we?

MATT: "Yeah! Yeah, you are."

SAM: Dagen's alive, though, right?

MATT: Yeah, he's alive.

LIAM: Dagen's alive, but Daygen died. (laughter)

LAURA: Oh no, Sprinkle! Okay, he's fine.

SAM: (laughs) Sprinkle.

MATT: Got a revivify diamond ready? You look back and the gem is just there, where it was before.

SAM: Oh, it's still there?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Like, if you don't successfully remove it--

MARISHA: We haven't done shit to it.

SAM: Well, let's get it again.

MARISHA: No!

SAM: We'll just move farther back.

LAURA: Yeah, we just get like, you know, further away.

MARISHA: Why though? Can anybody tell me why?

SAM: Because we can have it.

TRAVIS: I walk back 12 feet. I'm 62 feet back.

MATT: 62 feet, okay.

LAURA: I mean, yeah, I go back 70 feet, just to be safe.

TALIESIN: I'm going to take 10 minutes, and I'm going to cast a healing spell for everyone. I can do six people.

TRAVIS: It's so stupid. We have crazy shit on a map north of us. We should just go.

SAM: We should...

TALIESIN: We're doing this anyway, 'cause everyone's hurt.

ASHLEY: Yeah, but what if we need this?

TRAVIS: We don't. That's not going to do anything.

MATT: Here's the thing. Your Telekinesis spell, it only lasts for 10 minutes. So if you're going to try this again, you either have to let it... You're going to wait for Caduceus to do this. What are you going to do? Are you going to try it again?

MARISHA: We'll back up.

LIAM: I was making sure I wasn't dying. I wasn't even paying attention.

LAURA: Try it again, I'll do a Cure... Oh, wait.

TRAVIS: What's your range on your Telekinesis? What's the range?

LIAM: It's exactly 60 feet.

TALIESIN: Oh, then no.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah, just kind of like...

LAURA: Yeah, no, but heal him.

TRAVIS: No, no, no, he's fine.

LAURA: So he's not going to die.

LIAM: No, you need to heal me.

TRAVIS: Turn into a T-Rex.

MARISHA: How does that work, though? If he's exactly 60 feet, will he still get hit?

MATT: There's one way to find out.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: I don't have a Cure Wounds prepared. (laughs) So I can't give it to him. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Oh my god. (laughter)

TRAVIS: I will, at 5th-level, cast Cure Wounds on Caleb.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Oh, that's so sweet.

TALIESIN: While this is all going on, I'm going to step back and just start casting Prayer of Healing. Raise your hand if you really need it. I can take five.

MATT: "I do."

TALIESIN: One, two, three, four.

SAM: And you.

LAURA: Use it yourself.

TALIESIN: I'm the sixth, so...

SAM: That's all of us.

TRAVIS: 29 points of healing.

LIAM: 29.

LAURA: Do Yasha.

TALIESIN: Okay, so everyone gets, in 10 minutes, If nothing goes terribly wrong and I've backed up.

MATT: Are you trying it again?

LIAM: I'm going to.

TRAVIS: Yeah, everybody's back except Caleb, right?

LIAM: Yeah, just me. I'm going to put a little English on this.

MATT: Hold that, not yet.

LAURA: Not yet. Okay, wait, I'm going to do--

TRAVIS: No.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: (laughs)

LIAM: Okay, so here's what I'm going to do. Everyone's like 70 or 80 or 90 feet back?

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, we're far enough away.

TRAVIS: I'm 61 feet away.

LAURA: I'm going 80 feet away.

LIAM: So I'm going within 50 feet, and I look at it. And then I start running away from it, while looking at it. And then I cast it, and I jump. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Inertia! Inertia!

MATT: Okay, I need you to roll two things for me. I need you to roll an intelligence check, so roll a d20 and add your intelligence modifier.

LIAM: Oh, that's an eight.

LAURA: Oh no!

MATT: Okay, the gem... doesn't go anywhere, and then (blows) another shockwave breaks apart. Roll a dexterity saving throw with disadvantage, because you're not watching where you're running.

LIAM: Okay.

SAM: Oh, god.

LIAM: One was a 20 on that same die, but a four on the other.

MATT: A four.

LIAM: Wait-wait-wait, plus two, it's a six.

MATT: Six. You turn-- it doesn't work! You go to jump and your foot just hits a big old chunk of ice and you just skid on the ground. And then the shockwave hits you a second time.

LIAM: Does it go over my head?

MATT: No, no. (laughter) I need you to roll another constitution saving throw for me, Caleb.

LAURA: Oh no, what have we done?

LIAM: It's better, oh, it's much better, much better. Yeah, that's going to clear it. That's 17, 21. 21.

TRAVIS: We're going to try it one more time, right?

SAM: We have to. (laughter)

TRAVIS: We got to get this thing.

MARISHA: Oh my god.

MATT: Okay, so you do succeed, which means that you only take 24 points of necrotic damage.

LIAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: And then a minute after that...

MATT: As you get back up.

MARISHA: It was 27.

TALIESIN: It was what?

MARISHA: 27.

MATT: The inside of your whole body just vibrating and pulsing with this deep-set pain, like an aching bone bruise, but it's all over. Your eyes are bloodshot, and the vessels in your eyes have in some places burst, and now the whites of your eyes are a deep red.

TRAVIS: Oh shit.

MATT: All the veins in your neck and like bulging right now, and you hear Dagen go, "What's wrong with you?"

LIAM: Caleb gets up, and he takes his coat off in the cold, and he throws it down 70 feet away.

TRAVIS: Now it's a point of pride.

LIAM: He rolls up his sleeves.

TRAVIS: Let's go!

LAURA: Wait, wait, wait!

TALIESIN: Take your 27.

LIAM: No, I am far away from it.

LAURA: No, I'm going to Enhance Ability.

SAM: It won't work. It's a spell.

LIAM: No, no, no. (yelling) New does not mean better! And I pull catmint and I make Cat's Ire appear again, which goes 120 feet and is a lot stronger than Telekinesis contested. And the hand flies out and grabs it and pulls, from very far away.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: 80 feet away.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: 90 feet.

MATT: Okay. 100 feet away.

MATT: Okay, okay, okay!

TRAVIS: Caleb's running backwards, and we all just keep up with him. (laughter) "What are you doing?!"

LAURA: I grab his coat, "Wait!"

LIAM: It has a strength of 26.

MATT: Okay, so go ahead and roll a d20 and then add--

LIAM: Plus eight according to the spell.

MATT: Yeah, it'll be a plus eight modifier.

MARISHA: I just pass the flask to Yasha as I watch.

LIAM: 26.

TRAVIS: Woo! 26.

MATT: 26. The gem does not come free. (sighing)

LAURA: Oh my god.

MATT: And (boom) another energy pulse comes off it, catching, thankfully nobody in the radius.

LIAM: He makes a snowball and throws it. It falls halfway there.

MATT: Yeah, that's just not coming free through physical means.

LIAM: I want a necromantic emerald.

MARISHA: For what?

SAM: I can put a bomb in it and blow it up.

MARISHA: Okay. None of us knew this thing existed 20 minutes ago.

TALIESIN: I'm ready to walk away.

TRAVIS: Yasha, can't you just walk up and dispel it?

MATT: Caduceus.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: I am not having Yasha walk up and hit it with her sword.

MARISHA: As everyone's having this conversation, and you're just looking around, and you see through the ice and things that have been pulled back, there's bones.

TALIESIN: Detect undead.

MATT: No undead.

TALIESIN: Okay.

TRAVIS: Just dead-dead.

MARISHA: Just dead-dead. Just really dead.

MATT: But you get the sense a lot of people have gone through this exact process.

LAURA: Oh, wow.

LIAM: The other idiots.

TRAVIS: The other people that rolled 15.

ASHLEY: But somebody got to some of the stones.

LAURA: Yeah, but this is the big one.

TALIESIN: Those might not have been the same stones.

LIAM: This is the papa.

TALIESIN: I think those are the people who were trying to get this stone. I think they had a bad day. I'm ready to walk away.

MARISHA: How long has it been?

TRAVIS: We are terrible at this game.

MATT: At this point, about 45 minutes.

MARISHA: You guys have 15 more minutes.

LAURA: Can I look at some of the bones? Are there any stuff on the body?

TRAVIS: You have to dispel it first, if you can. I don't even know how that shit works. Just don't be point-blank.

MATT: You look, and what bone shards are being exposed look to be like arm bones. We're talking humeruses and femurs, and parts of ribs, that are all encased in ice that was then broken and pulled away by the cat's claw to reveal this pillar. This pillar's been here a while, and it looks like some folks who have found it in the past, got greedy and went a little further towards the base of the pillar. And at first glance, looking around, make an investigation check for me.

TRAVIS: Got greedy. (explosion)

LAURA: (squeakily) Seven.

MARISHA: When Matt spells out everything.

MATT: You gather, based on the bone fragments here, there's at least four corpses.

LAURA: Wow.

MARISHA: (laughs)

MATT: Just in the cat's claw pulled aside debris. You don't see anything of worth that isn't visible. The rest of it's under thick ice.

TRAVIS: He's like, I don't know how else to tell you.

MARISHA: I wrote "honey pot" on a sign, and I posted it 10 feet away.

TRAVIS: You assholes did this three times. We leave, we go.

LAURA: We go.

SAM: Wait, wait, but before we leave, Jester, paint on the pillar, "do not touch" or something like that. We'll at least pay it forward.

TALIESIN: Don't touch that pillar.

MATT: That would've stopped you guys.

TALIESIN: Don't touch the pillar.

TRAVIS: Yeah, right, true.

TALIESIN: We don't know how much it takes to set this thing off, just don't touch the pillar.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: That should just be a rule.

LAURA: Then how will I warn anyone?

TALIESIN: You won't. The bones will warn people.

LAURA: Caduceus, you know, he's a really good guy, and if he says we shouldn't warn people--

SAM: Why wouldn't we warn people?

TALIESIN: We can. We're warning people. There's dead people.

SAM: All right, well, we'll pile up the bodies.

ASHLEY: We can set up the bones and then put a sign on the bones, like, "This will happen to you."

TALIESIN: This is exactly-- I feel like this says it. I really--

TRAVIS: "This could be you. Don't touch!"

ASHLEY: I sort of prop up some of the bodies, even though it's bones, they don't make sense.

MATT: Yeah, it's just a mish-mash of splintered bones and frozen ice chunks. It looks like the bottom of your ice drawer in your freezer. It's just jammed in there.

TRAVIS: What the fuck does yours--

LAURA: I feel like I could draw on the pillar.

MATT: It's a mess.

SAM: Just leave. It's fine.

TALIESIN: Let's get moving. We've lost some time.

TRAVIS: An hour, we lost an hour.

TALIESIN: We lost an hour against people who are moving.

MARISHA: 15 minutes to be exact.

LAURA: I'm going to take some paint and draw on the pillar. I'm just going to write, "Big emerald here." And I'm going to paint a little arrow pointing down.

LIAM: Oh, that's murder. That's going to bring people right to that.

LAURA: Well, they should be smarter than that, really.

TRAVIS: Jester, I don't know. That seems like a bit much.

TALIESIN: I'll actually say if I had seen that, I wouldn't have touched it.

LAURA: Right?

TRAVIS: I would've.

LAURA: Really?

TRAVIS: Yes.

LAURA: Really, Fjord?

LIAM: That's like a cave that says free cupcakes. That's not a good idea.

LAURA: Oh well, I guess when you say it like that.

TRAVIS: It all depends.

LIAM: You just have to attack it from the right angle sometimes.

MATT: (laughs)

MARISHA: That might be one of the most morally ambiguous thing you've done.

LAURA: All right, right underneath there, I'll write, "j/k, blah!" (laughter)

MARISHA: That's somehow even more confusing.

TRAVIS: Who's JK? Ancient wizard JK.

MARISHA: What does it mean?

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: Moving on.

TRAVIS: On the road.

MATT: Gathering yourselves, Dagen's like, "All right, second day." (laughter) "Let's get going."

LIAM: Yeah, as everyone starts walking away Caleb whips around irked and casts Dispel Magic at sixth level at the emerald.

MATT: At sixth level?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Go ahead and roll a d20 and add your intelligence modifier.

LIAM: 15.

MATT: 15. You cast Dispel Magic. It has no effect.

TRAVIS: Wow. (laughter)

SAM: We lost.

TRAVIS: It's okay, it's okay, it's okay, we'll probably come back by this way. We'll get it another day.

LAURA: We're going to come back and it'll be gone and we'll know somebody did it.

TRAVIS: You got it loose for them.

MATT: You swallow your pride a bit, and bruised, spiritually.

MARISHA: I swear to fuck if Molly shows up holding a giant emerald, I'm going to be so pissed. (laughter)

LIAM: I just look at it and say: I killed Vokodo. (laughter) Not you.

MATT: The pillar's the big bad, guys.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: You continue the rest of your day trekking northward, with fair weather. Keeping your pride as best intact as you can, 'til the day comes to a close and Dagen's like, "All right, time to start setting up camp again."

TALIESIN: Actually, do we want to have a conversation about setting up camp?

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Did he just use his sixth level spell to try and get an emerald?

LIAM: I don't need-- We're good. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Should we mention that we have options?

TRAVIS: Yes.

LIAM: We can do whatever we need. Do you want the dome, do you want to go plush?

TRAVIS: The dome's great.

TALIESIN: Well, we can go plush though.

LAURA: If we go plush, people probably can't scry on us.

TALIESIN: And we probably will feel better in the morning.

MARISHA: If we go plush now, we might see how the magic reacts before shit gets hairy.

TALIESIN: Yep.

TRAVIS: Oh, that's right.

TALIESIN: Yeah, we open it up, let the cat go in, close it, reopen it, see if the cat comes out okay.

LAURA: Like an octopus.

TALIESIN: Or a magic box. Yeah. What?

LIAM: Octopus is very slow.

MARISHA: Speaking of magic getting hairy.

LAURA: Yeah, that's why I'm saying, maybe it's filled up with water, you don't know.

LIAM: Super funny though, too.

MATT: What was your question?

MARISHA: The underwater level, such a bitch. Did we see anything weird with any of their magic that they just did at the emerald?

MATT: Nothing caught your eye as out of the ordinary.

LIAM: You mean like not working?

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah. Okay.

MATT: The spells seemed to have functioned as intended. There was no signs of any oddity.

TALIESIN: All right. This one will be a little weird though 'cause it is dimensional, so maybe things will get weird.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: But let's find out.

TRAVIS: Cah-leb?

LIAM: Yeah, okay. All right, so I will shove Calianna's wand into the snow and carefully, so they don't disappear into the snow, put all of the appropriate pieces and the door goes-- (whoosh)

MATT: "Oh, son of a bitch. You can make doors."

TALIESIN: Maybe you can make the rest of a house, 'cause that would be really convenient right now.

MATT: "That'd be really convenient, but you know, mages are weird, I guess."

LIAM: The thing is, we don't always know that I will be able to accommodate us, so we wanted to go at least one night to learn from you. And we've learned from you, so much, especially today.

MATT: "Yeah, yeah, I'd say so."

LIAM: So as recompense for your trouble, so sorry, we'd love for you to come stay with us here. Let me just send my cat in, to make sure everything is all right.

MATT: (hesitantly) "Okay."

LIAM: I summon Frumpkin.

MATT: "Is he always this weird?"

ALL: Yes.

MATT: "Okay."

LIAM: I tell Frumpkin, go up to the top and down, and give it a look-see. And I send Frumpkin. (tippy tap feet noises)

TALIESIN: Close the door.

MATT: Now can you see the interior of the tower from the door that's open?

LIAM: Well, I can see into the hallway, right?

MATT: Right, yeah. Cool. All right, so you send Frumpkin into the inside of the tower. Seems fine.

TALIESIN: Close the door.

LIAM: Is there a door? Is there a physical door?

MATT: It's up to you. It's not so much a physical door more than it's a shimmering door-like arch with like a threshold. You can adjust the visual of it if you want to, or make it invisible if you'd like.

LIAM: When we go in, I can make it--

MATT: You can make it vanish, yeah. Correct. So I'm asking, are you having it visible or are you having it purely--

LIAM: I will make it vanish for us all.

MATT: Okay. Frumpkin goes and about... eight or so minutes later, Frumpkin emerges from the inside of the tower. (meows) Seems to be positive.

TRAVIS: I'll summon the sword and I'll cast See Invisibility and do a 360 and see if we're being watched--

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: -- as this is being summoned.

MATT: The doorway gives a stronger glow, just in the proximity of it. It's almost like changing the filter with a candle nearby, all of a sudden it gets brighter. But looking around you, nothing else catches your attention.

TRAVIS: No spheres?

MATT: No spheres, no.

TRAVIS: We seem to be unwatched for the moment.

LIAM: All right, well, Dagen, join us for dinner?

MATT: (skeptically) "Sure."

LIAM: Start leading the way in.

MATT: As you guys make your way in, Dagen, with a little bit of apprehension, passes through and as soon as he gets inside goes, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

TRAVIS: (laughs)

MATT: "Why the fuck did we sleep in the ice last night?"

TALIESIN: This is not every night. This is just in case.

LAURA: Learning. We were learning.

LIAM: When in Eiselcross.

MATT: "How did--?!"

MARISHA: Think "up."

MATT: "Where are the stairs?"

ALL: Just think up.

TALIESIN: Up.

MATT: "Whoa." (laughter) He starts to glide. Him and the chair lifting without issue.

TRAVIS: Awesome.

MATT: He's like, "Well, I guess I don't need that feature for now." He sets one of the little glowing, orb-looking panels in the side of the chair and he starts continuing to float up with you. "This is all kinds of wild. What's for dinner?"

TALIESIN: We have guest rooms, right?

LIAM: Ja.

TALIESIN: Yeah. What is for dinner?

LIAM: What would you like, Caduceus? Your call.

TALIESIN: A bit of everything. I think-- ooh. Mac and cheese.

LAURA: (gasps) Ooh, that sounds good.

MARISHA: That does sound really good.

LAURA: I was thinking chili. Doesn't it sound like that would be good on like a snowy--

TALIESIN: We can do both together, I think that'd be really good for all.

LAURA: Oh yeah.

SAM: Some collards.

MATT: "I'm so ready for this meal."

LIAM: I hover in the salon, the library chamber with all of us, and I fall out of the central column and walk over and pull a rope pull by the main fireplace here, with the stained glass in the motif of Molly's coat. And a cat comes out of the little arch next to it, and I say: Ach, Rudy, good. We are going to have mac and cheese and then a lot of vegetables, and quinoa. As much as quinoa as we have at the moment.

MARISHA: And chili.

LIAM: And chili. Vegetarian chili tonight, though.

MATT: (meows)

ASHLEY: Well, also some pancakes.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: Only seems fair to get some bacon.

LAURA: And some waffles, Rudy. Waffles sound good, too. Cornbread waffles! Cornbread waffles, Rudy, to dip in the chili.

TRAVIS: Cornbread waffles! Cornbread waffles.

LIAM: And also waffle cornbread.

MARISHA: Does such thing exist?

LAURA: Why not?

MARISHA: In real life? I want that, though, now.

TRAVIS: If the cats can't make it, I mean, who can?

MARISHA: I want it.

LAURA: Sounds good, doesn't it?

LIAM: Ah, also one plate--

MARISHA: So good.

LIAM: --of bacon, real bacon for our guest.

MATT: (meowing) (short meow) (laughter)

MATT: Turns around with a slight begrudging, like, "Okay." That type of feel beneath the meow. But the meal is now under preparation. You can see Dagen is jetting around and inspecting the interior of the tower. "Man, you weren't joking. You are some Assembly folk, or at least capable. Though they aren't usually much for sharing." Glides back down.

TALIESIN: We're independent contractors.

MATT: "Well, I don't mind staying along with contractors that provide a better place to sleep, I'll tell you that."

TALIESIN: Oh, I'm looking forward to the meal.

LIAM: Let me show you your room.

MATT: "Yeah, please."

LIAM: I will start to hover up to the first of the guest floors where Caduceus and Yasha's room are, but there's a third room there. And when we go in, it is stained glass with wolves over the fireplace. And bacon strips along the bottom. (laughter)

LIAM: And all the same accoutrement that are in the other rooms, and then his central room has got axes all on the wall and a massive wet bar with every whiskey and bourbon imaginable, and a couple of jugs that just have "XXX" on them. And a fairly traditional and basic bedroom.

MATT: He glides in and goes, "(chuckles) "A little kitschy, but I like it. All right, this'll do, thank you. Thank you very much."

LIAM: That tub is scalding hot when you first get in, so easy does it.

MATT: "Fair enough."

LIAM: All right, well, let's say dinner in about 30 minutes?

TALIESIN: Dry off a bit.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: All right.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: Eventually, the food is prepared, a fantastic spread of cat design to the specifications you required. Meals that are familiar to you and a handful that are new to anybody, as they've been created in the request stage. But nevertheless, a fine dinner spread is enjoyed by all. Some laughter, and imbibement, and eventually, the evening comes to a close. Is there anything you would like to accomplish before the night comes to a close, and we'll go to the next morning?

TRAVIS: Actually, I'd like to find Dagen and just say: It's fair to keep you abreast of two individuals that we are keeping an eye out for. For any reason, if you should become separated from us, we are keeping a look out for this fellow, and I'll make myself look like Molly.

MATT: "Gotcha."

TRAVIS: And this, I'll make myself look like Cree. These two seems to be on the trail for the same sort of items, things that we're looking for. Be wary.

MATT: "All right, I'll keep an eye out. Appreciate the heads up." (hiccup)

TRAVIS: You haven't seen them at anytime, have you?

MATT: "I haven't, no."

TRAVIS: Fair enough.

SAM: (quietly) Insight check.

TRAVIS: (pigeon coos) Insight check. Do I believe him?

MATT: Make an insight check.

TALIESIN: Roll a four.

TRAVIS: Natural one.

TALIESIN: Even better.

MATT: I mean, he's a little tipsy. Seems to be forthcoming, best you can tell.

TRAVIS: Good chap. Go to morning.

MATT: All right. Anybody else? We good?

MARISHA: I'll-- a hot bath sounds really nice, so after dinner, go back to my room, run a hot bath, talk to one of the cats, request some hot cocoa.

MATT: (affirmative meow) Maybe some like chocolate dipped strawberries.

MATT: (begrudging mrrp)

MARISHA: You know, and chardonnay.

MATT: (uncertain cat noise)

MARISHA: Thank you.

MATT: (meows) Darts into the wall.

MARISHA: As the tub is filling up, I reach in my pocket, pull out the poem from Yasha.

MATT: Oh, right, right! (cheering)

TRAVIS: The what?

LAURA: The poem!

MARISHA: The poem.

TRAVIS: Oh, shit.

MARISHA: Just stare at it for a moment.

LAURA: "Oh, Beau, Beau, Beau."

TALIESIN: Whoa.

MARISHA: Put it down. I stare at it for a little bit longer, wait for my chardonnay to show up, chug my chardonnay. Pick it up again. Open it. And I read the poem.

ASHLEY: Okay. So, um.

MARISHA: My brain swirls as I hear Yasha's voiceover-- (laughter)

ASHLEY: (warbling)

MARISHA: -- in my head.

ASHLEY: So it's-- At the top of it, it's a whole paragraph that is crossed out and scraped and you see some words like "Beau" and "abs"-- (laughter)

ASHLEY: -- and "shorn"-- (laughter)

ASHLEY: -- and "envelop," and things like that, and it's just crossed out. And underneath it: "Beau, Yeah, this was a poem, but then I realized it was a dumb poem and I can't write poetry. Sometimes, I have an easier time when I put the pen to parchment, so here it goes. I've watched you. I don't mean that in a creepy way. I mean, I am a little bit of a creep, but I know that you know this by now; it takes me a minute to open up. So I watch, I observe, I take it all in as opposed to letting it all out. I guess the only time I let it all out is when I fight, which I'm not sure is the healthiest thing in the world. But here's some things that I've noticed about you. You're strong, you're a leader, you're really smart, you're really funny, you're honest even if it hurts, but the thing that really gets me about you, is that you love so fiercely. And I know you feel like an asshole most days, but I kind of like that you're an asshole. You stick up for the people you love, and you make me feel stronger. I can hold my own. I know that you know that, but you make me feel safe. I don't even know if that makes sense. But I know, no matter what, you'll have my back, no questions asked. Yasha."

MARISHA: Guh.

MATT: (meows)

MARISHA: Fuck off, Fluffy.

MATT: (meows) Leaves the cocoa behind. (offended meow)

MARISHA: Thanks, Fluffy. Wipe away a few tears, as I see them hit the paper. (sniffles) And I just sink into the tub until I'm underneath and I just stay there until I think I can't hold my breath any longer and I stay, like, 20 seconds longer. Then I come up, and I do that back and forth for a little bit, until I eventually fall asleep.

TRAVIS: In the tub?

MARISHA: Not in the tub, you know. Not like in a super tragic way.

MATT: The dark campaign: no monster could keep her down, but the bathtub's what finally takes her out.

MARISHA: Not in like a Jim Morrison way, no.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: Wait, one thing. Can I float up and knock on Caleb's door?

MATT: Sure.

LIAM: Ja?

LAURA: Could you cast Tongues on me? I mean, you know, the spell where you can make me understand languages or whatever?

LIAM: Ja, I could do that.

LAURA: I just want to read the book, Caleb.

LIAM: You want to read it yourself?

LAURA: Well, I mean--

LIAM: I could read it to you, if you want.

LAURA: Okay, it could take a while.

LIAM: Are we talking about "Prinzenkat"?

LAURA: Yeah, the cute cat with the hat.

LIAM: Mm-hmm. So I walk us in and sit us down by my fireplace, which has no stained glass window. The furniture in here is pretty nondescript.

LAURA: This is a boring room, Caleb. You really decked everyone else out.

LIAM: Well, that took a lot of effort for you all, so no time for me. Okay, so this is meant for children.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: My mother read it to me when I was very little. It's called "The Cat Prince."

LAURA: "The Cat Prince."

LIAM: Ja.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: Okay. Once upon a time in a little house, on the edge of a great white wood, lived a young boy with his mother. The poor boy was sick, and spent much of his days in bed, watching the days pass by from a little window in his room. The boy's mother loved him very much, but as it was just the two of them and the boy was ill of health, and frail of form, every day she had to make the journey to town where she worked in the kitchens of the local lord. While she was gone, the boy would mind the house, read one of their precious few books, and observe the bees and the trees-- oh, that rhymes when I translate it--

LAURA: (giggles)

LIAM: -- and the birds in their flight, as he spent the greater part of his time resting in bed. The boy knew that his mother loved him and that her time away was all for his sake, and he was grateful to her, and loved her in return. But it was a lonely life, spending his life rereading some of the same books or talking to the air in their little home on the wood's edge. One day-- and this is all illustrated as we go through.

LAURA: I hope you're showing me the pictures.

LIAM: Ja, ja, we're going page by page. We're sitting on the couch together. As the boy say in bed, looking out at the fields that lay between his home and the woods, he noticed a cat, making its way out of the forest. Been a long time since I read this. It was not long before the boy realized this cat, clearly making its way toward his home, was no ordinary cat, for upon his head, he wore a little top hat. And if that were not strange enough on its own, as the cat pattered up beneath the boy's window, he stood, doffed his cap, took a bow, and said, "Greetings, young master. You look as if you could use a bit of dancing." The boy, stunned by these words from the dapper little cat could scarcely find his voice. "Oh, no, sir," said the boy, "I don't know how to dance, nor am I made for it." "Nonsense," said the cat. "Why, anyone can dance, if only they look to. Come out of doors and let me show you." And as he spoke, the cat donned his hat and began to turn in circles and dance. And he's dancing on the page. The boy was curious, but said, "Good sir cat, I am afraid I am ill, my lungs are too weak, and my bones are too frail." "Maybe they are, and maybe they aren't," the cat replied. "But either way, you do not want to languish one more day in bed, watching the world go by, do you? Come, take a walk with me through the fields, and I will show you how to dance." Overcoming his doubts, the boy managed to climb down from his window and walk a few steps closer. This was no ordinary cat and no ordinary day. And though he felt unsure, his heart did leap a little, and he began to follow the marvelous little cat through the grass, slowly at first, but with more vigor as they crossed the fields. And eventually he found himself stepping under the shade of the woods for the first time in a great many years. All the while the cat frolicked and capered as they wound their way deeper into the wood, and eventually the boy found himself stepping into a ring of trees. The cat whirling about, his hat in hand, the furry little dancer twirled around the boy laughing and calling, while the boy watched, his mouth agape. And then quick as a flash, the cat brought his top hat down right atop the boy's head, who was very suddenly plunged into darkness.

LAURA: Is this going to be a sad story, Caleb?

LIAM: Then I turn the page. But only a moment, because all about him shining in the dark, he saw the glow of hundreds of eyes, feline eyes glimmering in the dark. Suddenly, about him lanterns flared to life and the boy saw he was no longer in a wood at all. Here he saw a grand ballroom festively decorated and filled to the brim with cats. Big cats, small ones, old cats, young ones, cats of every breed and color, and in the center of the great hall upon the stage stood the boy's feline guide, only now he was dressed in very fine robes, and upon his head sat a thin golden crown of wrought golden leaves.

LAURA: (whispered) He's a prince.

LIAM: Which is illustrated right there. Beautiful little cat. Well-worn pages. The boy stood in wonder and amazement as the great host of cats bowed to their prince, and then in turn, bowed to him. "The world of men is heavy and hard," the princely cat proclaimed. "But here across the veil we move with lighter step. Dance with us, child, and forget your troubles for a spell." All at once, scores of cats closed in around the boy purring and turning about his legs as thick as the sea, and as they moved, so too did the boy's feet. He swirled amongst them like a cork on the water, and before he knew it the boy was dancing, dancing and dancing as he never imagined he could, and his breath, much to his surprise, was hearty and hale. He found he no longer felt ill in the least. Hours passed and he and all the cats danced without end, and the prince of cats more than all of them. After a long while, the boy suddenly remembered his mother and immediately feared she would worry. He stopped in the middle of the great hall and called out to the prince of cats, "Forgive me, Sir Cat, but I can longer stay. My mother will worry. I have to return." All the cats parted before him and the prince approached the boy. "Are you sure, boy? You could stay and dance with us for as long as you wish, forever and ever and ever." "I cannot," the boy replied. "My mother has only me and I would not leave her alone. Forgive me." The prince of cats looked upon the boy with a sympathetic eye, "Not at all, young one. Fear not a whit. You do your mother credit." And with that, the prince of cats stepped closer. "Do not look so crestfallen. Take our cat's grace with you. You can always dance if the will is there." And from behind his back he brought out his top hat again and pulled it over the boy's eyes, and once again, all was dark. Sometime later, the boy stirred and his eyes fluttered open. He looked about and discovered he had been asleep in the wood and the sun now dappled his face through the trees. Next, he noticed a threadbare, patched top hat lying in the soft grass beside him. He gingerly picked it up and stood within the same circle of trees. As he did so, he took a deep breath and smelled the earth and the forest, and as he did, he realized his breath was strong and his legs hardy. "Danke," he said. As he looked down at the hat in his hands. And placing it upon his head, he smiled, picked up his heels and quietly started to dance his way all the way back home. The end.

LAURA: That was a happy story, Caleb!

LIAM: Mm-hmm! That's why my mother read it to me.

LAURA: I really thought that, like, the cat prince was going to trap him in there forever, and then he wouldn't be able to go see his mother.

LIAM: Well, a lot of Zemnian stories do end that way, it is true.

LAURA: The Cat Prince kind of reminds me of The Traveler.

LIAM: It's true, isn't it?

LAURA: Yeah. Wow.

LIAM: A little dicey, but very likable.

LAURA: (giggles) Good in the end, you know? That was a really good story.

LIAM: I'm happy that I could share it with you.

LAURA: Thank you. Can I have it back?

LIAM: Oh yeah, it is your copy. It will vanish when you leave here, though, but it is yours.

LAURA: Thank you. (gentle music) All right, good night, Caleb.

LIAM: Yeah, goodnight. Gute Nacht.

LAURA: You wrote that whole fucking book?

LIAM: Uh, some Zemnian wrote it.

LAURA: (scoffs) (laughter)

LAURA: All right, good night (laughs).

SAM: Now you have to tell the story to Fjord, and then he has to tell it-- (laughter)

LIAM: When I tell it to Fjord, the prince of cats murders the boy and all the cats.

MARISHA: He went to, like, some cat rave.

LAURA: Nom, nom, nom, nom.

TRAVIS: Is that a real story?

LAURA: I know, right?

LIAM: Nobody asked me to read them a transmutation book. Nobody.

TRAVIS: Is that a real story, or did you write that?

LAURA: Did you really write that?

LIAM: I wrote it. Today.

MARISHA: You did not write it today.

LAURA: How did you even know--

LIAM: I wrote it today. She asked me to-- she wanted to read it a few days ago, so I wrote it today.

LAURA: Wow.

SAM: Nice.

MARISHA: That's very well done.

TALIESIN: Who are you?

MATT: That's very sweet.

LAURA: So impressive.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: As the evening draws to a close, a night's rest much more comfortable than the previous. Some with dreams of unique motion and playful anxiety, others with dreams of dancing cats. Others with loose threads still left uncut. Some of vengeance found unintentionally. Some of vengeance still to be acquired. Some to discover the depths of the mysteries that taught those you care about. And some dreams of accepting whatever this new chapter means. Some just drink until they slept in their guest room. But with the morning, you gather your things after a hearty morning cat-prepared breakfast, prepare yourselves to see the warm interior one last time before setting out into the third day of travel northward into the snowy fields of Eiselcross. I would like somebody to go ahead and roll another d20 for me, please.

LAURA: I think Ashley is up.

ASHLEY: Me?

TALIESIN and LAURA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: (exhales) Okay.

TRAVIS: Come on, come on, come on.

ASHLEY: What do I add?

MATT: Just roll a d20.

ASHLEY: Ooh, three.

TRAVIS: (laughs) Yes!

TALIESIN: That could mean anything.

TRAVIS: It'll be fine.

LAURA: He marked...

LIAM: You find Santa's workshop.

MATT: Could you roll a d8 for me?

LAURA: Oh no.

SAM: A follow-up roll.

MARISHA: Shit.

LAURA: Not good. This is not good.

SAM: Which kind of dragon will attack?

TRAVIS: No, I think it's how many.

ASHLEY: Five.

LAURA: Five dragons will attack.

MATT: Five, okay.

ASHLEY: Leave it to me.

MATT: That's cocked. Okay. Hours pass as you press into a harsher day upon the snowy plains of Eiselcross. The winds have picked up a bit, the snowfall has come a bit thick, and elements of distant ice fog block the horizon from the crisp previous day's journey. You trust in Dagen's directional sense and pushing forward because at certain moments, you look around you and have no idea which way is north. You have as good a sense as anybody, and even then, it takes a moment to ground yourself because this landscape at times feels alien and repetitive in a very odd way. Pressing on about early afternoon-ish, the clouds grow darker and it seems like a bit of a storm of some kind is making its way in your path. As you feel the temperatures drop and the wind grow ever stronger, you can hear the distant howling sound of cold wind beginning to blow through the mountain range that sits to your immediate west, causing this haunting multi-tiered, terrifying whistling choir of voices. Caduceus and Beauregard, as you're pushing through this steadily shaded space, as you crest some hills and head into some valley portions, you swear you see something-- like something in the snow move for a moment.

TALIESIN: We've got company.

MARISHA: Underneath the snow? Like it's growing?

MATT: Like the snow above the hill to your right seems to move slightly.

TALIESIN: There's something underneath the snow right over there.

MARISHA: I just track it, look for any other signs.

MATT: Okay. Make a perception check. Both of you.

TALIESIN: 22.

MARISHA: 20.

MATT: Okay. As you all stop for a second, Dagen halts and goes, "What's that you're saying?"

TALIESIN: Something beneath the snow is moving.

MATT: He starts looking around the space and reaches back and just puts the hand on the handle of Sheila. You both glance over in that direction and you catch a little bit of movement on the hill to your left as well.

MARISHA: Behind us, separate?

MATT: Separate on the other side.

TALIESIN: Both sides.

MARISHA: They're flanking us. Back to back, let's circle up.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I summon the sword and say the word galas-var and it glows in a 20-foot radius.

MATT: Okay, and as soon as the sword appears and (whooshing sound effect) as the actual Elven words are said, the runes ignite, and the light begins to emanate off the blade, you hear this faint shimmering, ringing (whirring sound) emanate from the blade itself as it is invoked. And at that moment, there's a sound. (whooshing) And you glance over in the direction of where you first saw, and you see a movement, a large arcing movement, something white move, and then a shape begin to suddenly spread out over in your direction as a large net begins to descend in the direction. I need everybody to make a dexterity check. You both have advantage because

TRAVIS: A net!

MATT: -- you saw them.

LAURA: What?

MARISHA: Advantage, and then also--

LIAM: Is it a check or a save?

MATT: A saving throw. Dexterity saving throw.

TRAVIS: Six.

MARISHA: Natural 20.

LAURA: Seven.

MATT: Seven.

LIAM: One, but I'll use the Ring of Evasion to succeed.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: 23.

ASHLEY: 19.

TALIESIN: 18.

MARISHA: 30 total.

MATT: All right, so, as the net descends, Caduceus and Beauregard, you reach out and grab whoever's nearest to you. You manage to pull Yasha aside as you dodge out of the way. Caleb, there's a sudden burst of arcane inspiration within you and your body shifts faster than it normally does, and you pull out of the way. You rolled a...?

SAM: 23.

MATT: 23, you go ahead and just roll out of the way.

MARISHA: Question.

MATT: What's your question?

MARISHA: Is this considered a missile?

MATT: Not in that way, no.

MARISHA: Okay.

TALIESIN: Good call.

MATT: Good call, though. This is a wide net. This is about 40 feet from end to end.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: However, the two of you, in trying to rush out, don't quite get far enough before it descends on you. Heavy, thick, coarse rope about that big around falls, only patches about that wide between each, and it's weighted at certain points where it feels heavy when it falls on you. As soon as it hits you hear (moaning roars).

LIAM and MARISHA: Giant.

MATT: And you see rising from both sides about 10 to 12 feet to the shoulder, these squat humanoid forms with thick, white, coarse hair across their bodies. Dull gray, almost blue patches of skin beneath where their face and hands are. You can see bandoliers of leather. You've encountered creatures like this before. These are yetis.

MARISHA: Yetis!

MATT: And you see them stand up, weapons at the hand, shouting (roaring) as they crest the edge, and you see one stand up larger than all the rest. One hulking behemoth of a yeti as it crests the top of the hill holding this giant, jagged-looking hook spear at the end, just goes, "(roaring yeti language)" and begins charging inward, and that's where we're going to take a break. (groaning, applause) We'll be back here in just a moment. We'll see you guys here shortly. (laughter) (applause)

Break[]

LAURA: Hey Critters, Laura Bailey here. Let's see what's up in the Critical Role Shop. (upbeat music) The cuteness, it's (unicorn neighs) overpowering! (upbeat music) It's so cute, I can't handle it. (upbeat music) This is a lot of stuff you guys, we have like so many cool things right now. (bell dings) Oh my gosh, it's so amazing. Ooh, look at this! Look at the details, ooh. (click) So click on over to the Critical Role shop. Don't worry there is a few more minutes in the break. You've still got time. (upbeat music)

SAM: (birds chirping) I'm a fan of hot air ballon rides above the Venetian countryside. I'm a fan of Momlan, she's always got my back. I'm a fan of wine, older than Taliesin. I'm a fan of Twitch subscriptions. I'm a fan of emotes by Arsequeef, they're neat. (static sound) I'm a fan of a wife so cool, people forget I exist. (ominous echo) (crow caws) (elephant trumpets) (explosion) (mechanical noise) (maggots squirm) (child crying) (heart beating) (child crying) (accordion playing) I'm a fan of wearing your skin as a mask. (heart beating) (classical music)

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back. So where we left off, you all were being ambushed by a group of yeti in the middle of the Eiselcross Plains. So I just placed the minis on here in the middle. Unfortunately, the mini I ordered for Dagen didn't arrive in time, so I--

MARISHA: Don't you apologize.

MATT: -- I customized one quickly.

MARISHA: Don't you apologize!

LAURA: So cool, Matt.

LIAM: You amazing DIY motherfucker.

MATT: You guys are in there.

LAURA: Oh jeez. Okay, wait, so the net is over us, but then is it, like, are they holding the net?

SAM: It's weighted.

MATT: No, it's weighted down. There are, like, heavy stones that is woven through, keeping it on the ground there. You all can tell me where you want to be placed within five feet of the net.

TALIESIN: I want to be near Caleb.

TRAVIS: ♪ I like to be-- ♪

TALIESIN: ♪ Under the sea. ♪

MATT: So you'll be near Caleb?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: What was the direction?

MATT: Caleb, you want to be there?

LIAM: Yeah, that's good where I am. That's fine.

MARISHA: What were the two directions that we, that Caduceus and I?

MATT: Here and here.

MARISHA: All right, then I'm good. I'll turn around and look at that direction, the direction behind me, yeah.

MATT: Okay. Yasha?

LIAM: I'm going to say the run shunted him and he didn't have total control of where--

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: I will be-- yeah, a little bit next to Nott but on the other-- in between Caleb and Nott.

MATT: Nott, where do you want to be?

ASHLEY: Yeah, that's good.

SAM: If you want to make your game table look like what you see here with Dwarven Forge modular gaming frame, go check it out at dwarvenforge.com. But, I want to be right where I am.

MARISHA: Woo!

MATT: Okay. So about there.

ASHLEY: Actually, put me on the other side because I know Caleb and Beau pulled me back from the nets.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: And then, that'll put us at...

SAM: Initiative.

LAURA: Oh yeah, initiative.

LIAM: Oh right. We've got to have initiative! I love gnomes.

LAURA: (low-pitched) Yeti!

LIAM: (yeti screams)

LAURA: (low-pitched yell)

TRAVIS: Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit!

LAURA: Oh no!

TRAVIS: Oh shit!

LAURA: That's a big yeti.

LIAM: Oh, he landed like Iron Man in a three-point turn. (laughter)

MATT: All righty, so, if I can get everyone to roll initiative for me, please.

LAURA: No!

LIAM: No. No!

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay!

TALIESIN: Fuck me.

MARISHA: Son of a bitch.

LIAM: ♪ Son of a bitch. ♪

LAURA: Why?!

MARISHA: I'm going to use my boots.

MATT: Okay, 25 to 20 anybody?

LIAM: Nope.

MARISHA: Son of a bitch!

TRAVIS: Cool, cool, cool.

MATT: 20 to 15?

LIAM: Nope.

ASHLEY: 18.

SAM: 18.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Hey!

MATT: All right, so we got--

TRAVIS: Yasha, Veth.

MATT: -- Veth and Yasha.

LAURA: Oh right, Veth's dexterity--

MATT: Crazy. 15 to 10?

LIAM: Nope.

MARISHA: 14.

MATT: All righty.

MARISHA: Oh no!

LIAM: Quiet. Oh, thank you.

TRAVIS: 10.

MATT: 10 to five?

LIAM: Sechs.

LAURA: Nine.

MATT: Jester.

SAM: Oh cool!

MATT: And then Caleb. Caduceus, what you got?

TALIESIN: Three.

SAM: That's some Vax shit.

TALIESIN: Rolled a one.

LIAM: Oh, get it.

MATT: Okay. Top of the round, we have Veth with Yasha on deck. You just dodged the net, turn around and hear the howling between the two sides and what are you doing?

SAM: First, I will try to burrow into the snow to hide (laughs).

TRAVIS: Boo yeah.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: I'll use all my movement, if I need to, to like--

MATT: Thankfully, there is a lot of snow, and you are a small

SAM: Yeah, can I run and slide--

MATT: -- creature.

SAM: -- and try to kick someone? (laughter)

MATT: I'll say because there is high snow here, and your size, you would be able to attempt to hide in the snow.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: But if you wish to move from your spot, it's all considered difficult terrain.

SAM: Sure, I'm just going to sit and hide for a second.

LAURA: Oh my god, you are so close to those dudes.

SAM: Okay, I rolled-- for stealth, I rolled a-- oh, wow.

TRAVIS: "Oh, wow."

SAM: A 34.

MATT: Okay, so you are hidden in the snow.

SAM: I will whip out--

MATT: Just so you know, if you hide in a space and they know where you're hiding, you're not technically hiding.

SAM: Dammit!

MATT: You know, if there's a table in a room and you get under the table, they still know you're under the table. (laughter)

LIAM: And if you burrow?

MATT: So if you want to move out of that space, that will help you if you're trying to do something from a stealthy position. But as of right now, they watched you vanish in the snow, and they think you're probably where you are.

LIAM: You got to try to Bugs Bunny it. (laughter)

LIAM: Without making a little ridge.

MATT: That's kind of what you have to do, yeah.

ASHLEY: Making eye contact as you're digging. (laughter)

MATT: You'll never find me! (laughter)

LIAM: (high-pitched) Oh, where am I?

SAM: So if I attack on this turn, it would not be a sneak attack?

MATT: Well, you've stealthed, and you didn't spend any movement to try and stealth. You can move with difficult terrain and remain stealthy in the snow, if you like.

SAM: Okay, okay, I'll move in the snow to try to get--

MATT: Which direction?

SAM: Towards the big yeti.

LIAM: That was some Vax shit, because quite a few times in campaign one, it was like, I hide right in front of them.

TALIESIN: I didn't prepare that spell. Oh fuck.

SAM: So you're saying if I pop up now, maybe they'll-- (laughing) they won't know where I am?

MATT: It's possible!

SAM: Okay. I'll try to do it.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: I'm going to just pop my arm out and, uh-- wait a sec... (laughter)

LIAM: Shooting blind? Are you shooting blind?

SAM: And one eye. (laughter)

SAM: Um... and...

MARISHA: You moved, like, 10 feet. Surprise, motherfuckers!

SAM: And I'm going to Vax this shit. I'm going to throw a dagger.

LAURA: What?

MATT: Oh, okay.

SAM: Throwing the Corecut Dagger.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: You got it, okay.

SAM: Dagger! Dagger, dagger!

MATT: Did you attune to the dagger?

SAM: Yes, I did!

MATT: You did attune to the dagger?

SAM: I did.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: And sharpshooter.

LAURA: Ooh!

LIAM: Putting some sting on it.

SAM: All or nothing.

MATT: As a quick head's up, just so you know-- where is it?

ASHLEY: ♪ Duh duh duh, duh duh. ♪

MATT: Oh, I need to find it again. There it is, okay. So you would have realized at the time, maybe, but we'll say now because I just realized you attuned, it is a cursed dagger.

SAM: Uh huh. Sure, sure.

MATT: So yeah. Just-- all you know is the blade, it's bound to you and you really want to keep it bound to you for now.

SAM: Does that mean I can't throw it?

MATT: You can throw it.

SAM: Oh, okay. I'm throwing it.

MATT: But you've got to retrieve it afterward.

SAM: Of course, it's fucking cool.

TRAVIS: Oh, you've got to retrieve it afterward.

MARISHA: Needle in a haystack.

MATT: Yeah, but it's fine. The curse doesn't mean you can't let it go. So nevertheless, you Bugs Bunny your way through the snow, (grinding sound) and chuck this dagger. Go ahead and roll for an attack. So a ranged attack.

SAM: Work, goddammit, work! Yes, 26 minus five.

MATT: Correct, so 21.

SAM: So 21.

MATT: That does hit.

SAM: Yes!

LAURA: Yeah!

MATT: Hits the big one, correct?

SAM: Uh, yeah. And so is this sneak attack damage?

MATT: It would be. (cheering)

MATT: The snow works in your favor, being a halfling rogue.

SAM: Okay, this is straight up Vax roll here. Oh, these are all terrible! It's fine. 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 plus six is 28, plus 10 is 38, plus three more d6.

LIAM: That's necromancy.

SAM: Oh, these are all terrible! 42.

MATT: 42 points damage to it. And you used the effect?

SAM: I did, so some of that is necrotic.

MATT: Right, but mark off a hit dice first.

SAM: Yes, yes.

MATT: All right, got it. So right as they're shouting out to run. Veth just (whooshing noises, grunt) and as the dagger is inside, it's still stuck in its chest. It's just there in its sternum. It looks angrily in your direction, and its eyes flash angry blue.

SAM: I go back under the snow.

MATT: Okay, all right. That finishes Veth's turn. Yasha, you're up.

ASHLEY: Okay, I can't get to it. I would like to rage!

SAM: Yeah!

MARISHA: Rage.

ASHLEY: (roaring)

TRAVIS: (snarling gibberish)

TRAVIS: I almost choked on my coffee.

LAURA: (laughs, coughs)

SAM: Is there a place to track hit dice? Where is this?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: I've never used hit dice.

LAURA: It's in the--

LIAM: You could just know it, too.

SAM: I'll just mark one off somewhere.

ASHLEY: I will...

LAURA: In your short rest?

SAM: Oh, there it is, thank you. I knew it.

ASHLEY: I'm going to start-- I'm going to actually try to lift up the rope to try to get them out.

MATT: Okay. So you move up. Go ahead and make a strength check. Because you are raging, you do have advantage on that.

ASHLEY: Okay. (groans) That's better. That would be 22.

MATT: 22, okay. That will lift up the rope enough to get Jester free on this side.

LAURA: Thanks, Yasha!

MATT: And any other attempts to get free from the rope if they spend their action on their turn, will have advantage as well.

ASHLEY: Great.

MATT: But Jester is currently now free of the net.

LAURA: Woohoo!

MATT: So that's your action.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LAURA: Did you hear that?

TRAVIS: What?

LAURA: I got free of the net.

TRAVIS: Okay. How'd you do it?

LAURA: Yasha.

ASHLEY: Just tried to help you guys out. That's my turn.

MATT: That's your turn, staying there put? All right. It is now the big yeti's turn. The yeti goes-- after taking the blow from the dagger, he was like (roars), "Sneaky one".

SAM: Oh shit.

MATT: And he's going to go ahead and leap.

SAM: I'm snow!

MATT: (explosion sound)

LAURA: Oh my god.

SAM: I'm just the snow!

MATT: As it lands on the ground next to you, eyes now glowing with light blue rage, (roars) and starts swinging its giant, hooked spear out in front of it. These are going to be attack against both Beauregard and Veth who are both in that sweeping range there.

MARISHA: All right.

MATT: So that is 19 to hit against you, Veth.

SAM: Yes.

MARISHA: Miss.

MATT: And then Beauregard. That is a 20 to hit.

MARISHA: Miss?

MATT: Misses. So Beauregard swings out of the way.

TRAVIS: Is that a 15-foot reach? 10-foot reach?

MATT: It's a 10-foot reach, but they're both within--

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MATT: -- that space there.

TRAVIS: Big boy.

MATT: Veth, you take 15 points of slashing damage.

TRAVIS: Who's a big boy?!

SAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: And then he's going to go and swing again in an arc. That is going to be 22 against you.

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: And 26 against you.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: He looks like--

TRAVIS: Those are big hits.

LAURA: -- he's landing, but also like he could be pooping.

MATT: 17 points of slashing damage.

MARISHA: 17?

MATT: Yep. (whooshing sounds)

SAM: I'm assuming because I am in snow that I can't Uncanny Dodge this.

MATT: No, as a reaction you could. For one of them, yeah.

SAM: Okay, I'll do that for that one.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: So that was 17, so it becomes eight?

MATT: I forgot the order of this, but that's fine. I will then... yeah, I will then use his Chilling Gaze, which I should have done beforehand, but that's fine. Or you know what?

SAM: You can go back. You're the DM.

MATT: I let you guys do it all the time. I'll go back on this one.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

SAM: Of course. You're the DM.

MATT: The predecessor to this attack, angrily, because you're the source of its anger, it's going to go ahead and look at you. I need you to make a constitution saving throw, Veth.

SAM: Don't worry.

MATT: As suddenly you feel its piercing angry blue eyes just pierce the inside of your psyche.

SAM: 20.

MATT: 20. And you shrug it off.

SAM: What was it?

LAURA: You don't know.

SAM: Was it fright?

MATT: You shrug it off. All right, that finishes its turn. And then it's going to come to Beauregard. Fjord, you're on deck.

MARISHA: Okay, so we still took that damage, the sweep damage?

MATT: You did.

MARISHA: Okay. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. Well, it's right beside me, so that's convenient. Can I flank Veth? Can I move around and flank? I don't know if that's helpful but--

SAM: You could if you could see me. Ha ha ha!

MARISHA: I'm going to go over here (laughs). I'm making eye contact with you.

TRAVIS: I'm fucking going over here.

SAM: I'm snow!

TALIESIN: You are red snow. You are red snow. (laughter)

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Okay. I'm going to try and leap off of an icy snow bank and pop it in the head a couple of times. Pop pop!

TRAVIS: Pop pop!

MARISHA: 25 for that first one.

MATT: 25 hits.

MARISHA: Stunning Strike.

MATT: Stunning Strike. That is 18.

MARISHA: Why? Okay, yeah.

MATT: So damage on that one?

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah. Uh, right, right, right, right. 13, that was a terrible roll.

MATT: All right.

MARISHA: Okay, next one.

MATT: Go for it.

MARISHA: That's even better, 28.

MATT: That hits.

MARISHA: Stunning Strike.

MATT: Roll damage first, and then we'll Stunning Strike.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: I know you're excited.

MARISHA: 13. No, sorry, 16, 16.

MATT: 16. All righty.

TRAVIS: I can't [inaudible].

MATT: That is--

MARISHA: Damage, yeah.

MATT: 17.

MARISHA: To save from it?

MATT: To save. What's the DC?

MARISHA: Son of a bitch. It's 16. 16.

MATT: Makes the save.

MATT: How smart is this-- Okay, all right, all right. That's fine. It's constitution.

MATT: Yeah. If you wanted to gauge its intelligence, you'd have to take a little moment to inspect it.

MARISHA: No.

SAM: Give it a quick ACT test.

MATT: It's got a hefty physicality to it.

MARISHA: Going for the state level. Okay. Flurry of Blows, pop pop.

MATT: Go for it.

MARISHA: Okay, that first one's going to be 27.

MATT: That hits.

MARISHA: Sorry. Stunning Strike.

MATT: So damage.

MARISHA: Okay. Doing it all at once. 1d8 plus six is 11 damage.

MATT: All right. That is 15.

MARISHA: Ah ha ha! Ha ha! He is stunned! (laughter) Fuck you! Three ki points down. No, wait. Stunning Strike, Stunning Strike, and my pop pop. Four Stunning Strike-- I'm sorry, ki points. But he is done! He is stunned, okay. And last pop pop. 17? Nope, sorry, sorry, sorry. 21.

MATT: 21 hits, roll damage. Want to Stunning Strike him again?

MARISHA: No. I rolled a one, which sucks, so seven damage.

MATT: Seven damage, you got it. So as you swish behind, begin pummeling the back of its leg, you find the base of its spine where you imagine where it would be, and just start hitting towards the nerve center. And it's just hitting hard muscular meat, guarded by this thick layer of fur. And you're hitting it and you're hurting it, and it's looking over, trying to swat back at you. And then you get one good hit that you assume is right in the base of its spine, and as you do it, yells and, like, locks up, and you see it start to, like, fold to one knee almost.

MARISHA: Right in that sciatic nerve.

MATT: Yeah, which sucks. I know from experience.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Extract Aspects.

MATT: All right. You sense it is immune to cold damage, and that is the extent of its elements.

LAURA: Not surprising.

MARISHA: Yeah, there's nothing. I feel like we all knew that.

MATT: Well, now you know.

MARISHA: It's immune to cold.

SAM: Is it smart?

MARISHA: No!

ASHLEY: Good to know!

MARISHA: I think its constitution is beefy, though.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I had plans--

TRAVIS: Beefy!

MARISHA: But four ki points in, he is stunned.

TRAVIS: Nice.

MATT: All right. As it's howling in pain, it is now Fjord's go.

TRAVIS: Can you count the squares for me to the big yeti? Am I within 30 feet of him, or just outside of it where I am under the net? I can't quite see.

MATT: Under the net, you are roughly 25 to 20 feet from him.

TRAVIS: Okay, I will take, well, I'll take two-- because if I try to shoot out from under this net, it would probably be a disadvantage, right?

MATT: Probably. I'll say yes, just because it's instilling that challenge from below.

TRAVIS: I will try and I'll take two swipes at the net to try and clear the net from Dag and myself.

TALIESIN: I was just going to say you can, yeah, go ahead.

MATT: Yeah, Yasha does give you an advantage if you just want to make an athletics check as your--

TRAVIS: Oh!

LAURA: Oh, because she's holding it up.

MATT: She's helping hold the thing up, if you want to.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: So as opposed to having to cut through, you just actually muscle it off.

TRAVIS: With advantage?

MATT: With advantage on an athletics check.

TRAVIS: That'd be great, okay. 15 and 18.

MATT: Yeah, no worries. You get the net free, it falls down into the snow. (whooshing)

TRAVIS: Amazing. With my bonus action, I'd like to Channel Divinity, and I'm going to activate my Fury of the Tides.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: What the fuck?

MATT: As you lift and shove the net off with your hand, you hold the blade there, and as you hold it in front of you, looking around the space, you watch as some of the ice on the ground begins to suddenly melt in the proximity of the snow. As it melts, the water seems to reverse-drip upward onto the blade, and the blade itself seems to have this weird, liquid, shimmering water across its surface.

TRAVIS: Riptide, motherfuckers.

MATT: All righty. You still have your movement because you broke free of the net, so you can move.

TRAVIS: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I will-- I have a pointer here. I will head 30 feet in this direction out this way.

MATT: All righty.

TALIESIN: Good call.

TRAVIS: Great.

MATT: You got it. That finishes Fjord's go. All right, Jester, you're up.

LAURA: Can I get to the big yeti?

MATT: You can.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to step up behind the big yeti.

LIAM: The bagetti.

LAURA: The bagetti.

TRAVIS: Spaghetti.

LAURA: And I'm going to cast--

MARISHA: ♪ Mom's big yeti ♪

LAURA: Inflict Wounds at 5th-level.

ASHLEY: Knees weak!

MATT: Okay, go for it.

LAURA: Do I get advantage because he's stunned?

MATT: Yes, you do.

LIAM: Mom's big yeti.

LAURA: (excited noises) I rolled an 18. A melee spell attack. Hold on.

LIAM: Snow like white confetti!

LAURA: So that adds plus 10, so 28.

MARISHA: Claws sweaty!

MATT: 28? All right, that'll definitely hit. Go ahead and roll damage.

LAURA: 7d10.

SAM: Ooh!

TALIESIN: Ow.

LIAM: 70 10s?!

TRAVIS: 7d10?!

LAURA: Yeah!

TALIESIN: Are any of these guys holding weapons?

MATT: The big one is holding this polearm with a hooked spear on the end of it. And the other ones appear to just have claws and, like, some tools and bandoliers around them.

TALIESIN: So they're physical claws, they're not, like, weapon claws?

MATT: No, they're just, they're physical claws.

TALIESIN: Okay, cool.

MATT: You've not seen yetis with tools and attire before. Most of the ones you've encountered, and the one time you encountered them were a little more just feral.

TRAVIS: What is it?

LAURA: 41 points of damage!

TRAVIS: Whoa!

TALIESIN: Whoa! Beast.

MATT: As it's tensed up after being jabbed with a dagger, pummeled, and then having its spine cracked, you rush forward and as you reach your hand outward and touch an element of its knee, there's this surge down your arm of black necrotic energy similar to what you guys recently suffered by the gem. (activating poofs) And as it impacts around the body you watch as the fur, around where your hand touched, turns dark gray and then eventually black in that space, all up the thigh. And it goes (roars) and falls down. Now, it's on both knees on the ground. It's hurt.

LAURA: Do I have any movement left?

MATT: You would have 10 feet left.

LAURA: Can I back up 10 feet?

MATT: Sure, yeah.

LIAM: Jester's complicated.

MATT: It's stunned, so it can't do an attack of opportunity on you. All righty, that finishes your turn.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: All right. With that, it is now the yetis' turn, the other yetis. This one over here goes, "Gestaf!" and ends up running.

SAM: It's his mother.

MATT: He's going to attempt to grab and throw you back, Veth.

SAM: Good luck! (laughter) I'm in-- I'm snow, you can't throw snow! Oh wait, you can.

MATT: You're also not hidden any more because you revealed your--

SAM: I'm snow!

MATT: Make a deception check.

TRAVIS: Here we go.

LIAM: 20.

SAM: Ooh! 13.

MATT: It says, "No, you're not!" In very clear Common.

LAURA: Oh no.

SAM: Shit.

LIAM: Oh no.

MATT: I need you to make an acrobatics check for me.

SAM: Acro!

TRAVIS: Maybe they're not yetis.

SAM: Natural 20.

TRAVIS: Cursed.

MATT: You weave out of its grasp as it tries to grab you. It does put its arms out to protect the larger yeti.

SAM and LAURA: Oh no!

TRAVIS: Are these, like, cursed people? Can yetis make a net?

LAURA: Yeah, they can make nets.

SAM: Maybe they stole that off someone they killed.

LIAM: Speaks two languages and they ambushed us.

LAURA: ♪ They speak ♪

MATT: You can only get so close. You see the one behind there goes, like, "No!" and goes running, and it looks over towards you, Yasha, because you're the one who it can only get to, and as it glares in your direction, you look over your shoulder as you go for your blade, and you watch his eyes flash blue. I need you to make a constitution saving throw for me.

ASHLEY: Okie doke.

MATT: Which you're good with.

ASHLEY: 15.

MATT: 15 does succeed. You shrug off whatever sort of piercing, chilled effect it was putting upon your mind.

ASHLEY: Ah!

MATT: It's going to go ahead and try and lay into you with two claw strikes.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: That is going to be, ooh, not too bad. That's going to be a 24 to hit.

ASHLEY: Ja.

MATT: And a 19 to hit.

ASHLEY: Yar.

MATT: All right, you take nine points of slashing damage, plus three points of cold, so it'll be five, and then-- No, it'll be four and then three. So you take seven points.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: The other one's going to be six points of slashing damage, reduced to three, and then six points of cold damage. That goes straight through. That finishes that one's turn. This one's going to rush around. (running footsteps) And come into range with both of you, and it's looking frantically between you in the direction of the big one, and then as it goes, "(gasp)." It just looks vengefully pissed in its face before it gives this horrible growl, its eyes piercing blue.

TALIESIN: (whistles) I'm actually going to whistle. (whistles)

MATT: All right. Make a constitution saving throw for me.

TALIESIN: Okay.

TRAVIS: With advantage because of the cured whistle?

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: Ugh. Nine.

MATT: Nine.

TALIESIN: Damn it.

MATT: You whistle, it looks back at you, its eyes flash blue, and suddenly you feel the inner aspect of your body freeze solid. You are paralyzed for one minute.

LAURA: Whoa.

TRAVIS: Whoa, that's not--

LAURA: Oh. These things are meaner than I thought they were.

MATT: It's going to make two attacks on you with advantage because you are now paralyzed.

LAURA: Oh no.

TALIESIN: Better me than you.

MATT: Oh, you also take--

LIAM: How did they do that? It breathed, it used the eyes?

TRAVIS: Icy gaze or something. Stare? Icy stare.

SAM: Did you just make that up?

TRAVIS: Nope.

MATT: 17 points of whole damage to you, Caduceus, from that gaze.

TRAVIS: I don't think so?

SAM: Frosty specs.

TRAVIS: Frosted flakes.

TALIESIN: Took one for the team.

LAURA: Oh, that was so nice of you, Caduceus.

TALIESIN: Rather have the wizard up. Did you take healing today?

LAURA: I did!

TALIESIN: Yay.

MATT: 25 to hit for the first strike.

TALIESIN: That hits.

MATT: Natural 20 on the second, but it doesn't matter: they're auto-crit because you're paralyzed.

LAURA: They're crits?!

MATT: When you're paralyzed, melee attacks are auto-crits. So the first strike against you.

TALIESIN: I don't suppose my Shield of Retribution works? Never mind.

MATT: Nope, you can't use your reaction because you're paralyzed. So the first strike is going to be 15 points of slashing damage.

TALIESIN: Ow.

MATT: Plus six points of cold damage.

TALIESIN: Ow.

MATT: Second one is going to be-- ooh. That's going to be 17 points of slashing damage.

TALIESIN: Did you roll to hit?

MATT: Yeah, the natural 20 was the second attack.

TALIESIN: Okay.

MATT: But they're both critical because--

TALIESIN: Yeah, so it doesn't matter. Sorry.

MATT: It's okay. And then 10 points of cold damage.

TALIESIN: So 27 on the second hit?

MATT: Yes.

TALIESIN: Ow.

MATT: And is frantically trying to maneuver through and take out whatever it can in the process. That finishes its turn. Caleb, you're up. Caduceus, you're on deck. For your saving throw.

LIAM: So I just watched Caduceus get laid waste to, and all the plans I had just went out of my head, and I reach up my hand and put it on my tall friend's shoulder and I turn him into a mammoth.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: I have no idea what that does in this situation.

LAURA: Is he a paralyzed mammoth?

LIAM: Well, he has lots of hit points, though.

TRAVIS: Yeah, smart.

LIAM: And I will use my movement to circle around the yeti to get him to f-f-flanking position?

MATT: (laughs) Right there?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Please punch that fucking mammoth.

TALIESIN: How many hit points do I have?

LIAM: Oh, I'll tell you. One second.

TALIESIN: As much-- Or I can look up mammoth.

MATT: After it pulls back with its bloody claws, growling angrily, you spin around and it still keeps (panicked grunt) looking over towards the rest of the fight across the way, and then as it spins around towards you it hears the grinding sound of something getting heavier. It whips around and (growls), looks up at the mammoth growing where the "small" firbolg once was, and just goes--

LIAM: (elephant trumpeting)

MATT: You see it audibly go, (curse in Yeti). You don't know what language it speaks, but it's a curse. It is loudly cursing its luck.

LIAM: Did you find it, Tal?

TALIESIN: No, not yet, but I'm looking it up.

LIAM: 126 hit points, 126.

TALIESIN: 126 is good. Yeah, I found it.

MATT: All right. Caduceus, you are a mammoth, but you're also paralyzed. Make another constitution saving throw for me, please.

TALIESIN: Do I use the mammoth constitution?

MATT: Yes, you do.

TALIESIN: I don't have advantage, though.

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: Okay.

LIAM: He is a pink and green mammoth.

TALIESIN: Oh, that's 14.

MATT: 14 will do it. You are-- At the end of your turn--

TALIESIN: A much better constitution than I have.

TRAVIS: Hey, nice.

LIAM: He is a mammoth at Burning Man.

TALIESIN: (heavy impact)

MATT: All right.

TRAVIS: This is fun.

MATT: That finishes your go, Caduceus. Top of the round. Veth, you're up. Yasha, you're on deck.

SAM: Oh, I'm up! Can I see that blade in its chest?

MATT: Yes, it's a little ways up, but you can probably scramble and grab it, if you want to.

SAM: I'm going to scramble up, grab the blade, and try to (whooshing) pull it down in the chest.

LIAM: Nasty.

MATT: Go for it.

LIAM: ♪ Nasty ♪

MARISHA: You've got advantage.

MATT: Yep.

SAM: Oh, advantage.

MATT: Yeah, because he's stunned from Beauregard.

SAM: Wow, I don't even know-- Is this-- I just use the dagger's attack. So yeah, lots, 29 to hit.

MATT: 29 definitely hits.

SAM: And it's sneak attack because he's engaged?

MATT: Yeah. Well, he's stunned, yeah. Any attack that has advantage, you get sneak attack on.

SAM: Oh god, oh god.

LIAM: It's not looking good for your big friend here.

SAM: No, it's not.

MATT: No, not at all.

SAM: One, two, four, six, 12, 16, 21 plus six is 27, plus I'll do another one of those (zapping). Plus eight is 35.

MATT: 35, nice.

TRAVIS: That's nice, that sucks.

MATT: Yeah, it's looking hurt. As you carve the blade down and pull it free from its chest, there's this giant gaping wound now in its sternum which is starting to just drip dark crimson onto the snow around it. It's like, (wet grunts).

LAURA: Aw, I feel bad for it.

MATT: That finishes your turn?

SAM: Uh, no?

MATT: What else are you doing?

SAM: Well, that used some movement, I assume.

ASHLEY: Can we talk to it?

MATT: I'll say five feet.

TALIESIN: We're going to wear festive party hats.

MATT: Sure.

SAM: No, I'll stay. I guess, yeah, I'll stay. I'll bonus action... I could run away but I think you can use flanking and shit if I'm on it, so I'll just stay where I am.

MARISHA: Flanking doesn't matter to me. I was just doing it if it mattered to anybody else.

SAM: All right, well, then, I'll disengage and run away.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: That's true.

MATT: Where you running?

SAM: Just straight backwards.

MATT: Straight backward? There you go. All right, that finishes your go.

MARISHA: Is flanking a deal for any of us here?

MATT: Yasha, it's your turn.

ASHLEY: Okay, I'm going to let out a battle cry for Zealous Presence, so everybody within 60 feet gains advantage on attack rolls and saving throws. (cheering)

ASHLEY: Until my next turn. And as I'm screaming out my battle cry, I take out Magician's Judge.

SAM: (slurred) Magician's Judge.

ASHLEY: And... attack.

MATT: You've got it. I actually--

ASHLEY: That's a big boy.

MATT: -- forgot to track Dagen's initiative, so I'll do that after your turn.

ASHLEY: Oh, do you want to do it?

MATT: I'll do it after your turn.

ASHLEY: Okay. So let's see.

MATT: The net blocked him from my view, weirdly. All right, so go for it. You're attacking the one right in front of you, right?

ASHLEY: Yes. Okay, so that would be 24?

MATT: 24 hits.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I'm going to try Savage Attacker. That's better. 29 points of damage for the first hit.

MATT: Damn, nice.

SAM: The first tit.

ASHLEY: Okay, roll that.

LIAM: Aye, the left pap.

ASHLEY: Okay, so the second hit is 23.

MATT: 23 hits.

ASHLEY: Yep.

TRAVIS: Going much better lately.

ASHLEY: Whoa! Well, we had-- we found some discrepancies. I realized I was doing something wrong. 20 points of damage.

SAM: Yeah!

MATT: Hell, yeah, well done.

TRAVIS: I was wondering.

ASHLEY: Yeah, me, too. I was like, what am I doing--?

MATT: Two heavy cuts, you cut through twice (whooshing), the second swipe (whooshing) sends a scattering of blood across the snow, and the yeti (pained grunt, roar). All right, that finishes your turn?

ASHLEY: (guiltily) Yeah.

TALIESIN: It's okay. It is now the large yeti's turn--

TRAVIS: You're ready to camp in this thing.

MATT: -- who is stunned. He's on his knees right now, (growls). "Stop!"

LAURA: (gasps) Oh, he said stop!

MATT: He falls to one arm on the ground (grunting) just bleeding out of the wound in its chest. That finishes its turn. It's still stunned. Beau, you're up. Fjord, you're on deck.

MARISHA: Oh, I hate it when this happens! I knew this-- now I have to make the choice!

TRAVIS: What are you going to do? What are you going to do? You heard him. You heard him.

MARISHA: Son of a dick.

MATT: Actually, before your turn, it is Daygen's turn. Daygen-- sorry, Daygen should have--

SAM, LIAM, and MARISHA: Dagen.

MATT: Dagen. Fuck it. I have a bird named Dagon! I did this to myself!

TRAVIS: Call him Dagen.

MATT: I did this to myself.

LIAM: It's Vax, Matt.

MATT: Dagger Dagen. Dagen Dagen Dagen.

ASHLEY: Call him Da.

MATT: It's my own fault.

SAM: Dageen! How about Dageen?

MATT: He gets it all the time in school. It's a problem. All right, Dagen's turn. That's-- why was I even rolling that? He's spending his turn. Actually, that's why, because he was trying to get out, which he has advantage on. Which is easy enough to do.

TRAVIS: "Why am I even rolling?"

MATT: I did, sorry. He goes like, (grunts), looks around, surveys the territory and goes, "Are we stomping some yetis?" And he's going to go ahead and rush over here, with Sheila removed, towards the one that's currently harrying both Caduceus, and he goes, "That's crazy." Wheels up fast and then he's going to go ahead and use-- because he can go-- I'd say he moves 10 feet in a straight-ish line to it. He's going to go ahead and ram with the front of the wheel, which has the--

TRAVIS: Hell, yes.

MATT: -- the pincer at the front to make an attack against that yeti. Oh yeah, that is... That's nine-- yeah, that definitely hits.

SAM: Mercy.

TALIESIN: Remember what happened with the ghosts.

MATT: That'll be... 11 points of bludgeoning damage to that yeti. As he just slams into it because he used his action surge to get his other action back.

SAM: Action surge. Wait, what is that?

TRAVIS: He's a fighter.

LAURA: He's a fighter ranger.

MATT: He's multiclassed. And so he rams with the first strike and then brings Sheila and goes, "Come on, girl" and does an overhead swing with his ax on the second strike. That also hits.

MARISHA: He's still stunned so I don't know if--

MATT: Nice-- oh, the guy up there isn't stunned.

MARISHA: Oh, oh, oh.

MATT: And with Sheila, both hands on this one, that's going to be 13 points of slashing damage.

TRAVIS: Yes, 24 points of damage total. That's great.

LIAM: Oh Sheila.

SAM and LIAM: (Australian accents) Sheila.

MATT: All right, that's going to end his turn. Now, sorry, back to Beau. Fjord, you're on deck.

TRAVIS: (laughs) You heard him.

SAM: Tears.

TRAVIS: You're right there.

SAM: Tears are mixing with blood.

MATT: (laughing) There's no tears.

SAM: You see in his back pocket a letter to his loved ones.

LIAM: So this is what it sounds--

LAURA: He actually doesn't have a pocket so--

LIAM: -- like when doves cry.

LAURA: -- it's actually a letter coming out of his butt, but it's a letter regardless.

TRAVIS: ♪ Doves cry. ♪

TALIESIN: It's a cookbook. I'm sorry.

MATT: What you doing, Beau?

MARISHA: I am-- shut up, shut up-- I'm going-- shut up. I'm going to vault off of his leg, like off of his crouched thigh, and get up to his shoulders and I'm going to put him in a headlock.

MATT: Okay, you're attempting to grapple him.

ASHLEY: Go to sleep, go to sleep.

MATT: Or are you just holding him?

MARISHA: I'm just going to hold onto him.

MATT: Okay, yeah, because he's too big to grapple for you.

MARISHA: Yes.

MATT: But, nevertheless, easy--

MARISHA: I've got, like, a you know, Milla Jovovich thighs that I am just like crunching his neck with, you know?

MATT: All right, there you go. So Beauregard is now holding on to the sides of a neck that are-- the neck itself is five times as wide as you are, but you have a grip.

MARISHA: All right. And can get in his ear.

TRAVIS: Hunched on the back of the windshield (laughs). (laughter)

TRAVIS: Relax.

MARISHA: I'm going to get in his ear and be like, "Did you ask to stop? Did you ask us to stop?"

MATT: His response is (pained gasping grunts). It took all of the strength to get that out because he's dying.

SAM: I'm paralyzed.

MARISHA: What are you going to do for us if we let you go?

MATT: He can speak only falteringly as part of the stunned condition, so what was your question?

MARISHA: What are you going to do for us if we let you go?

MATT: Okay, that is a six-second round.

MARISHA: Uh huh, my stun is over. That was the end of my turn.

MATT: Indeed.

MARISHA: Does he get to answer me?

TRAVIS: Time will tell. Time will tell.

LIAM: (low-pitched) Uncle.

MATT: So this is happening, transpiring while the rest of the round is happening, because you climbed up, grabbed him, and began speaking and it's been a little back and forth, the stun fades. Now, we go to Fjord's turn.

TRAVIS: I didn't hear any of that shit. I'm going to walk up to this-- to the one that Caleb and Dagger talked about, yep. And I'm going to take two swipes with the Star Razor.

MATT: Go for it.

TRAVIS: That's a 21 to hit.

MATT: 21 hits.

TRAVIS: And the second one is a... that's better, that's a 28 to hit.

MATT: 28 does indeed hit as well. Roll damage for both.

TRAVIS: No, wait. 15 plus... Yes, 28, that's right. I love how it got all quiet because now I'm attacking the kids of whatever this thing is. (laughter)

SAM: Not kids, grandkids.

TRAVIS: That's right. That is... 11-- yeah, 11 points of slashing damage.

MATT: 11 points slashing damage.

TRAVIS: And it shoves him 10 feet away.

MATT: Colliding with that, which does an additional five points of bludgeoning damage to him. So a total of 16 points of damage on that first strike.

TRAVIS: Do I have to close the distance? Use the rest of my speed to meet him again?

MATT: You would, yes, but you have--

TRAVIS: I think I only have about 15 feet.

MATT: Yeah, you're good there. You move in next to him. After he slams into the back of the rock and you just rush in, blade ready.

TRAVIS: Amazing. And that is 16 points of slashing damage that shoves him against the rocks again.

MATT: Only one time for that.

TRAVIS: Oh, that's right, that's only one time per round, that's right.

MATT: It's all good. So up against him right there, and now he's, like, pinned against the rock, taken a few slash wounds to the torso, he's looking pretty hurt. He's breathing heavy, arms against the rock (panting). Looking down at you, looking at the mammoth, looking at the mage. That finishes Fjord's go. Jester, you're up.

LAURA: I'm going to assume that I heard what was going on with Beau, since I was standing right in front.

MATT: You were pretty close, yeah. You would have picked up on that.

LAURA: So I'm just going to... hold a Guiding Bolt.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: At 2nd-level in case Big Mumba-Jumba doesn't back off.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: If he acts aggressive, I'm going to hit him.

MATT: Got it, okay. So you're holding that. That's your turn?

LAURA: Mm hmm.

MATT: All right, now the other yetis go. This one here turns to the front and is just trying to figure out what to do. It's looking at you, Beauregard, and it looks like it's just-- it's in like a stand-off.

MARISHA: The tinier one?

MATT: The tiny one right there.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: It's glaring up at you, its eyes sparkling, and it's just full on, just stalemate at the moment, waiting for the next person to make a move.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: This one here that was attacking Yasha is still going in against Yasha. It's now going... Actually, you know what? This one... Actually, no, that's all it can do. It's going to use its Chilling Gaze against you once more. So go ahead and make another constitution saving throw for me.

ASHLEY: Okay, come on.

MATT: You saved from it previously, right?

ASHLEY: Say again?

MATT: You saved from the thing previously?

ASHLEY: I did.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I think so.

MATT: Then you are immune to it.

ASHLEY: To that one?

MATT: Yeah, so it has no effect on you, never mind. So it tries it again, shake it off. Angrily, it just goes and tears on you twice with its claws. Oh man, that's a 25 to hit.

ASHLEY: No-- yes, it is.

MATT: And that is going to be a 12 to hit.

ASHLEY: Okay, halved?

MATT: So the first one is 11 reduced to five. So five slashing damage.

ASHLEY: Oh, oh, oh. I see, I see.

MATT: Those are both tackles, sorry. And you take two points of cold damage. That's its turn. The one over here that's against the wall with you, like, surrounded with you, it just keeps its hands up and looks over now past the shoulders and sees the larger one, and just looking for a sign, looking for something. It's just waiting. So it's holding its action. That brings us to Caleb. Caduceus, you're on deck, as a mammoth.

TRAVIS: It used its whole turn to just do that?

MATT: It's holding its action.

LIAM: Okay, I can sense a little bit of deescalation here, so I'm going to hold Chromatic Orb and attack anyone who attacks one of the Mighty Nein.

MATT: You got it. Okay, that finishes your go?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: What's up, mammoth?

TALIESIN: How smart am I? Oh boy, I'm not that smart.

MATT: What's the intelligence of a mammoth?

TALIESIN: Three.

MATT: Three, yeah. It's not quite a fly.

TRAVIS: You're half a Grog.

LAURA: A moth.

MATT: Sorry.

MARISHA: Half a Grog.

TALIESIN: Wisdom is 11, so would I get the sense that this is deescalating, or would I not? Watching everyone--

MATT: I will let you interpret that how you wish. I trust you, Taliesin.

TALIESIN: No, so I'm going to just take a standard-- I'm just going to take a gore attack.

MATT: Go for it.

TALIESIN: Since no one's telling me to stop.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Lock box.

TALIESIN: And that hits.

SAM: I invented the internet.

TALIESIN: That's-- Oh god, that's bad.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: That's-- Where's all the dice I need for this. There's--

MATT: Oh my god, too many dice. What'd you roll to hit?

TALIESIN: 28.

MATT: Yeah, you definitely hit. (laughs) Just wanted to double check.

TALIESIN: One, two, three, four. Is this right? Yep, so this is-- Oh no. 10.

LAURA: He's not saying he has too many.

TALIESIN: Wait, let me see. Seven.

LAURA: Too many to roll.

TALIESIN: 10, 15, 21 points of damage.

MATT: 21 points of damage. Oh!

TALIESIN: That's what I got.

SAM: How do you want to do this?

MATT: Yeah, he falls. (gasping)

LAURA: Oh, buddy.

TALIESIN: I was a mammoth.

MATT: He is-- as you just gore him with the horns, he's like waiting and as soon as he turns to try and defend himself, (groaning) you gore him with the horns and lift him up off the ground. As they pull out, he falls to the ground unconscious.

TRAVIS: We're getting [inaudible].

MATT: The other back there he'll be coming up in a bit, but you sense the tension suddenly escalate immensely in the middle of this battlefield.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: All right. That brings us-- and then Dagen, who sees this and is currently after this whole circumstance goes like, "That's not too bad." "It might be." He looks over his shoulder at the rest and goes like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, okay," and he spins and rolls up here and goes, "I sense we have Allowak folk, right?"

MARISHA: Son of a bitch.

MATT: "Can anybody," and he looks over at you, "Anybody," and points over to the one that's now lying, bleeding out in the snow.

SAM: Heal.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: That brings us to Veth's go.

SAM: Oh.

TRAVIS: You can heal, right?

SAM: I've got a potion.

ASHLEY: I can heal.

SAM: I will, I'll just pass.

TRAVIS: Hold your holding.

SAM: I'll hold a-- yeah, a crossbow attack if things go south.

MATT: Okay. Yasha, it's your turn. You can see now as the yeti, stabbed, fallen, bleeding out. All the other yetis are turning and looking. Even the big one, that is currently taking a moment of calm with Beau on the back, eyes just flick up at its fallen comrade and you can see rage building in its face. What are you doing?

ASHLEY: Okay. I'm going to walk over to the one that has fallen.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: To the one that has fallen.

ASHLEY: To the one has fallen. And then, I'm going to take my hands and shove them into the chest of the fur, stand them up and then heal him for a Healing Hands.

TRAVIS: I thought that was going every way.

LAURA: I know. Rip him in half.

MATT: Just Mortal Kombat it? (roaring)

LAURA: (heart beat)

TRAVIS: Tastes like bugs.

ASHLEY: And then I'm going to scream out: Are we fucking done?

MATT: All right, how much do you heal him for?

SAM: One point.

TRAVIS: 13.

LIAM: ♪ One. ♪

ASHLEY: That is 13 hit points.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah.

LIAM: ♪ Is the loneliest number ♪

MATT: As you lift him up-- This is a massive creature. It weighs close to a thousand pounds. But you are raging and you are furious and you have the wall to use to lean it up. So as you angrily lift and slam it up and heal it, its limp knees lock into place, his eyes roll back open.

TRAVIS: Dead lift.

MATT: "(gasping)"

ASHLEY: Then I'm going to keep him standing with my hand up against the wall.

MATT: Just holding him there. Okay, that finishes your turn.

ASHLEY: Yep.

MATT: All right. It is now the large yeti who the rage in the face sits there, still tense. It gets back up on one leg, throws it spear to the ground and goes, "Hold! (defeated grunting) This is done. (defeated grunting)." And unless anyone has any other actions, the combat comes to a close. (groaning)

TALIESIN: I can do a cool thing I didn't get to do.

SAM: As the mammoth?

TALIESIN: Mammoth can do a trample charge, where I can run up to somebody and gore them and then stomp on them.

LAURA: It's awesome.

SAM: Do it.

TALIESIN: It's really cool. No.

TRAVIS: Another day.

TALIESIN: I'm good.

LAURA: Being a mammoth is super cool.

MATT: So the tension's still high. The massive yeti gets up on its other foot and glances over its shoulder at you and goes, "You can release me."

MARISHA: I loosen my grasp, but I don't go anywhere yet.

MATT: You're still clutching his back?

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Still just hanging on the back.

MARISHA: Hanging on. On his shoulder.

MATT: He goes, "(deep sigh)"

MARISHA: Fucked up Jiminy Cricket.

MATT: Stumbles towards the center of where the net was and looks down towards Dagen and goes, "You're correct." Looks at the other yeti calls them over. Do you let them approach?

TRAVIS: Sure.

MATT: The bigger one goes, "Often, people who come from your end are... poachers. Not much for conversation. And we've a lost few, so to take the first swipe made the most sense. But I ask you, What would you do with us now?"

LIAM: We are just going to walk on through, but, um-- and I'm just going to share some food, please no sudden movements. And I pull out the jar of boba and a cloth. Please don't attack, please. Please. Put the cloth down, and I take the lid off the jar and I pour like 50 boba out of the jar and into the cloth.

MARISHA: Freezes instantly.

LIAM: Don't eat more than one of those a day or you will get incontinent, but one a day will do you.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

LIAM: That is 14.

LAURA: It's not terrible.

MATT: 14. That's not too bad. You watch as they all stare at you. Kind of glare a bit. And the one that's holding on, barely brought back to life by you, limps forward towards it. It looks at you and reaches over and takes like four in his hand, and goes--

LIAM: You are going to have the shits.

MATT: "I'm bigger." (growling) "Nice and filling." And the big one goes, "You let us live?"

MARISHA: You're not our quarry.

MATT: "What is your quarry?"

LIAM: Other people like us.

MARISHA: Happen to see a... purple tiefling? Looks like her running around, but purple?

TRAVIS: Lavender.

MATT: "About a day ago.

LAURA and TRAVIS: (gasp)

MATT: "Passing through the same path, direction you're headed. We decided not to engage. They had strange magic about them."

MARISHA: How do you mean? How could you tell that they had strange magic?

MATT: "Because they saw us and beckoned us stay at bay and not get involved. And then showed some really, really strange magic."

MARISHA: How many were with them?

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: "Five total."

LAURA: Five.

SAM: So hi, snow here, can you tell me what the other ones looked like?

MATT: "I didn't get that good of a look. A lot of them wearing similar bundles as you, though not as fancy. But anyway, will you let us live?"

LAURA: Well, yeah.

MARISHA: Yeah. Like I said, we're not here for you.

SAM: Are these smaller ones your family?

MATT: "No, they're just other members of the... community."

MARISHA: What did Dagen say? You said you're a part of a--

LIAM: You are.

TALIESIN: Okay.

MARISHA: You're what folk?

MATT: Dagen pipes in and goes, "Yeah, you see there's a-- It's kind of a small community of yetis around the corner called the Sanctuary. Allowak's Sanctuary."

MARISHA: Allowak?

MATT: "Yeah. Only-- only a few folks really pay much mind to it, since it's a bunch of these folks. It's both dangerous to pass by unwarranted and, well, as you noticed, they seemed to have a keener intellect than standard beasts we're used to. But."

TRAVIS: Oh, it's on the map, yes, of course. Yeah, no, it says "Allowak's Sanctuary," right... right here.

MATT: The large one goes over and looks over your shoulder and goes, "How many know about it?"

TRAVIS: Oh, no, I believe this is the only copy, so just-- just us.

MARISHA: Are there any sort of other settlements of you all that we should keep an eye out for as we move forward?

MATT: Sits down now that it realizes the tension's passed, the larger one goes-- (crash) and almost has this weird unexpected teddy bear-like qualities as he's now in the sitting position tending to his wounds a bit. "It's hard to explain, but we're not like other yeti."

MARISHA: No, we gathered that as soon as you started speaking Common towards us.

MATT: "But there are yeti out there that aren't like us either. So I can't assure that all of the kind of ours you might encounter are as cordial. But we like to keep to ourselves unless pressured. We hunt to survive. If you can promise not cause any trouble or to share this map and knowledge of the Sanctuary, we can... we can carry along with you for the day and keep an eye out. Watch your backs as you watch ours."

LAURA: We're going to be best friends with a bunch of yeti?!

MARISHA: Greatly appreciated, as you can tell my blue friend is very excited.

LAURA: Do you need healing? I'm a healer.

MATT: "Please."

LAURA: Okay. I use a 3rd-level Cure Wounds.

MARISHA: Wow.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: What's-- ever used for us.

TALIESIN: Wow, we see where we stand. (laughter)

LIAM: I look at it and I go, "Eh," and I release Caduceus from-- (laughter)

TALIESIN: I remember everything. (laughter)

TALIESIN: I'm just going to sit and do a quick 10-minute--

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: And anybody who needs-- yeti included. Anybody who needs the--

MATT: The normal yeti, the smaller ones. There's still a bit of tension, but they eventually calm, especially as healing is being passed out and eventually one of them pulls out a small notebook of some kind and starts writing in it.

SAM: Aww.

MATT: Some of the other start bandaging a little bit and getting their supplies, start recollecting the net. And they're not much for immediate conversation, but there's not any sort of aggression at this point. Seems the largest one is the most diplomatic.

TALIESIN: 26 healing points to whoever really needs them.

LAURA: And 18 points to the big one.

MATT: Yeah, awesome. The yeti are going to take that.

TALIESIN: I've had the best roll I've ever had for healing.

MARISHA: The one that's writing in the notebook.

MATT: Yeah?

MARISHA: Which one is that?

MATT: That would be the one that was trying to-- that was on the other side of the large one. The one that rushed in and was trying to

LAURA: There's a little one writing in a notebook?!

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: Can I-- can I scooch up to the one that's writing in the note book?

MATT: Yeah, as you do, he looks at you and pulls the notebook away.

TALIESIN: Two of us and I'm not--

MARISHA: I do call over Jester. It's okay. I-- Take notes, too. She draws pictures, it's like her version.

MATT: "Okay."

LAURA: What'd you do? Do you draw or do you write or--?

MATT: "It's my diary."

SAM: Oh.

ASHLEY: Oh!

SAM: We were going to kill him.

TRAVIS: It's one word. It says "Sad."

MARISHA: This is kind of like my diary. I'll-- I'll let you read my last entry, if you let me read yours.

MATT: "I don't really know you that well."

MARISHA: Who-- what do you have to lose? I'm an unbiased third party.

MATT: "My privacy." (laughter)

MARISHA: You know, sometimes if you open up to a stranger, it can actually make you feel a little bit better.

TRAVIS: Are you pushing a yeti?

MARISHA: Yeah, a little bit.

SAM: Show me your diary.

MATT: Make a--

MARISHA: Let me read your diary, bro.

MATT: You may make a persuasion or intimidation check, your call.

MARISHA: What!

TRAVIS: Maybe one is better than the other in this situation.

MARISHA: But it's better for me.

SAM: Henry.

MARISHA: They're the same.

LIAM: (as Henry Crabgrass) Consent, please.

MATT: Then your choice.

MARISHA: Persuasion because I'm not trying to be mean.

MATT: I know, but there are different ways to interpret this.

MARISHA: Oh yikes, I rolled a two.

MATT: For a total of--?

MARISHA: Three.

TRAVIS: Listen to the dice.

SAM: (as Henry Crabgrass) No means no. (laughter)

MATT: The yeti goes, "Oh, no." Puts it away. "It's just very personal, I hope you understand."

MARISHA: I do.

MATT: "Okay."

MARISHA: I deeply do. Yeah.

MATT: "I'm going to get up now."

MARISHA: Okay.

TRAVIS: And I'll walk over to the larger yeti and I'll say: I'm sorry to harp on this, but that purple tiefling you mentioned. What time of day is it, anyway? It's, like, midday?

MATT: At this point, I'd say it's a little bit past noon. You guys left pretty early.

TRAVIS: You saw them the day prior, yes?

MATT: "Roughly, yeah." Was it in the morning, in the evening? We're trying to figure out how far behind--

MARISHA: Yeah. Time, time.

MATT: "It was maybe late morning."

TRAVIS: Okay.

TALIESIN: About a day.

MARISHA: So they're like one full day ahead of us, okay.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

MARISHA: All right.

TALIESIN: I'm just going to go up to the one I killed.

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I really-- I was an elephant at the time. I feel really bad about that. I didn't really get that we were backing off.

MATT: "I'm going to be honest. I always assumed it'd be a mammoth that took me out. I just didn't figure it would be like, not a real one, which is kind of blowing my mind right now.

TALIESIN: Would you be willing to accept a gift to help me lift my conscience a little bit?

MATT: "Sure."

TALIESIN: I give him a celebone.

LAURA: (gasps)

TALIESIN: And show how to use it.

LAURA: (club music noises)

MARISHA: Oh, that right, one of those!

SAM: What does it do?

MATT: He takes it and it starts glowing. He starts swinging it.

MARISHA: Glow sticks.

MATT: And the other yetis go-- "What? That's not fair!" They start running for it, he's like, "No, he gave it to me, I'm the one who died!" They're like-- (huffs)

TRAVIS: "That's not fair!"

TALIESIN: It'll go for about an hour or you can just turn it off. Like an hour a day or you can just turn it off when you want.

LIAM: ♪ Books and cats and books and cats ♪ But it's yours, but you can share it. I'd recommend-- you know, let people--

MATT: He reaches out and palms the top of your head and like messes with your hair and goes, "Thank you."

TALIESIN: Thank you for not murdering me when I was tiny, it's okay.

MATT: "Well... thank you for... this."

TALIESIN: Yeah, there we are.

MATT: Yeah, it's-- his one hand goes around both of your arms.

TALIESIN: I feel good about that.

TRAVIS: We should keep going, though, especially if they have a lead on us.

MATT: "Right." The big one stands up.

SAM: I'm going to just find some snow, just sort of clean this blade so it's nice and shiny again.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Power move.

TALIESIN: You're going to go full Gollum on us.

MATT: Which as a-- yeah. I'll send you the details of the curse in a little bit.

TRAVIS: "The curse."

LAURA: Can you guys make us, like, travel even faster through the snow?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Like a shortcut?

MATT: "There's not much in the way of shortcuts here, but we have very keen eyes at what might be coming up on the horizon before they get to your level. And we know a few hiding spots when things get a little hairy."

TALIESIN: Thank you.

SAM: Little hairy? I see what you did there.

MATT: (laughs) "Good one, snow. All right." (laughter) "Well, come on, gather your things, we're going to go."

MARISHA: Okay.

LAURA: Yay!

MATT: Dagen looks over and goes, "This is real weird."

TALIESIN: Thank you.

MATT: "I mean, usually we just pass and put a hand up and don't talk. I haven't had a lot of interaction with the yeti directly, this is... you're weird folk."

LAURA: Thank you.

MARISHA: Well, maybe this will be the start of a bright future between the two of you.

MATT: "Probably not."

MARISHA: Nah, probably not.

TRAVIS: Nope.

MATT: "That's too weird for me."

MARISHA: Yeah, I agree.

MATT: Continues on. You guys progress on for the rest of the day. And with the yetis' help, we will say, for the next day of travel, going through a day and night cycle, they stay camped outside of the tower-- of your doorway.

LIAM: I was going to invite them to dinner, actually.

MARISHA: (gasps)

MATT: And you would-- can you?

LIAM: I don't think there is a limit of number of people.

LAURA: Oh no, because I remember Scanlan fed almost an entire army.

SAM: Yeah, but can they get in?

TRAVIS: Yeah, but the size.

MATT: Right.

LIAM: Well, I was going to rearrange the stained glass of the components a little differently to make the door just a little bit wider.

LIAM: If I have to I will--

MATT: I was checking to see if there was any size difference or requirements, but no, it's any creature you designate. So the entryway can shift and adjust.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: So, yeah.

LIAM: The stained glass that I took from the temple, I will just widen out the perimeter of the array and the door is a little bit bigger. Big enough for the big man. I am going to invite you into our home. And there are certain parts of our home that are off limits. But we have lots of food and beds for you. Would you like to come in?

MATT: They all look at each other. "Certainly."

LAURA: Oh wait, wait. Don't eat the cats.

TALIESIN: Are you allergic to cats, too?

SAM: Don't know if they know what a cat is.

LIAM: Do you have cats?

MATT: "I don't think I have any idea what a cat is."

LIAM: Okay, well, just follow our lead and you know, don't break anything.

MATT: "All right." Dagen's like, "If you see something small and furry, they're here to help," not for feeding, got it?" (as Gestaf) "Gotcha, all right. This is very weird."

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: "And I'm a yeti."

TRAVIS: We're fucking-- we are out there.

LIAM: Carefully lead them into the tower and-- Just think "up," and Caleb starts to float.

MATT: They step in and at first it's like, "Whoa."

TALIESIN: It's a lot.

MATT: It's a big tower, but with all of them in, it's not as big. It's pretty-- they're still squished in a little bit and when they think "up," it takes them a moment to gather what you really mean and then when he does, one of them just looks and goes-- (groaning) Just tries doing like the uncontrolled space spin and is just losing himself like, "Oh, god!"

MATT: They grab their friend and try and pull them back down like a balloon and all of a sudden they start going-- (screaming) It's just this massive uncontrolled yeti floating.

LIAM: Everybody come up so they feel at home.

MATT: Like early fizzy lifting anxiety and then eventually they start righting themselves and they're going, "Ooh, this is so cool." They start pushing off walls.

TALIESIN: "Weapon of Choice."

MATT: There's scratch marks on the walls as they're doing it but you know, it'll be fine.

LIAM: That's fine they will just recreate. But I'm not taking them past the second floor or the great hall. So there are more floors above, but they're not really built out to your specifications, so let's just take a rest here. And once the rest of the Nein are in, I go to the iris that leads to the second floor and say, "zu," and the iris goes (shutting) and I do the same up-- no, I leave that open for now. And I start going to different double doors and opening them. And there are very large tables on rollers and I just start pulling them out into the room until there are tables bigger than us and tables our size. And then I go and I pull a rope and a cat comes running down one of the little aqueduct tracks and I say: Mitzi, we have guests, big guests. So I need you to make a very robust meal. We probably need-- yesterday was vegetarian. We are going to need a lot of meat, so I would like ribs, big ribs, like mammoth-size ribs, okay? Barbecue sauce, all of that. But we'll also have the mac and cheese from yesterday, as well as the waffles and the pancakes.

MARISHA: It was good. Yeah.

TALIESIN: They may want ale.

LIAM: Double amounts and some ale, yeah. Good call.

MATT: (grumpy meowing)

LAURA: Travis. (laughter)

TALIESIN: We broke him. Yay! It's all I want in life.

TRAVIS: The necrotic stone, we can't leave it alone. The yetis, we invite them to fucking dinner. (laughter)

MATT: Prime--

MARISHA: It's going to take us--

MATT: D&D right here.

MARISHA: 10 episodes to get to the first excavation site. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Is that the episode, "My Dinner With Yeti"?

MATT: A fantastical yeti feast, transpires in the tower. Strange elements of merriment for, just, these creatures adjusting to the odd magical space that they've been brought into. The meals seems to fill their bellies in a very comfortable way. Yes?

LAURA: What's-- can I ask what the big yeti-- I'll ask all of them, what their names are.

MATT: The big one goes, "I'm Gestaf."

MARISHA: Gestaf.

MATT: And the other is--

LIAM: By the time dinner is done, too, there are amber spectral cats hanging off of all of them doing kitty biscuits on their arms, their shoulders, just nestled in.

MATT: They just freeze when that happens. They're just like, "(stammering) Oh."

MARISHA: Where do you normally sleep? Like, what's an average night for you?

MATT: "Well, we have a bunch of large tents and stretched living spaces made of stone and hides."

MARISHA: Yeah?

MATT: "Yeah." They all look over to Gestaf who goes like, "If you ever find yourselves around or near the Sanctuary, when we're done walking with you," just say you're a friend of Gestaf's."

TALIESIN: Appreciate it.

MATT: "And you say it with weapons away."

SAM: Sure, sure.

MATT: "Your hospitality is, well, majestic, and I only hope that we can maybe offer the same at some point."

MARISHA: Yeah. Excited to experience your way of life.

MATT: "A little more rough and tumble, but it gets by."

MARISHA: Honestly, we're kind of-- we're new money, you know? We're kind of new to this lifestyle.

TRAVIS: Look at that fucking mini. You're standing on its head as this conversation is happening. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Look at that fucking face! (laughter)

LIAM: Veth took a necrotic dagger into his heart three hours ago.

MATT: Yep.

MARISHA: You know--

TALIESIN: I love this game.

MATT: Weirdest things happen.

MARISHA: This is humanity. This is life, man.

MATT: (laughs)

LIAM: While they're talking and the cats are pulling the tables back to their place, Caleb goes over to another set of double doors, walks in, and using Telekinesis, pulls a cable or a rope out and walks all the way across the hallway and opens another double doors and connects it in there. And then he opens another set of double doors and giant white silk tarps are taken out and he uses Telekinesis to pull those tarps up over the rope and make white-- beautiful white tents on this floor. And cats drag out sort of like sleeping bed rolls because I don't want to be too different than what they're used to. To be pulled under the tent for them to sleep in. They have a bedroom.

MATT: That's awesome. That's arranged in the open space. They all quickly pick out their spaces and lay claim to it.

TALIESIN: Pillow fort!

MATT: As soon as you finish, Gestaf goes, "I thank you for-- well, on all our behalfs, for both listening to reason in a moment of tension, and for being kinder than most folks who wander through here are, so thank you."

LIAM: It's a rough world, but when you can find moments of commonality...

MATT: "Indeed." Wipes a large chunk of meat from the side of his mouth, that's been there for 20 minutes but you haven't been able to point it out, goes (slamming) on the ground. It weighs about a half of your body weight, Caleb, and you step back as it impacts. "Oh, sorry."

LIAM: Quite all right. (nervous chuckle)

MATT: "Anyway, let's pick up our journey tomorrow. See how far we get before we have to diverge."

SAM: If you need it, Caleb can read you a bedtime story. (laughter)

MATT: The one, and it's really the smallest of the yeti, the one that had the notebook, goes, "Really?" (laughter)

LIAM: Yeah, I have a copy of Der Zauberlehrling. It is all in Zemnian, but it is very old Zemnian and it's hard to translate. So-- and he just starts reading it in its Zemnian.

MATT: Within five minutes they're asleep, soundly and comfortably, and the inner halls of Caleb's arcane tower now reverberate with a chorus of discordant snores that just vibrate the air. The actual glass of the windows sometimes seems to resonate with it at time. It's a very unique sound. It's weirdly beautiful in its primal music, but in your chambers, thankfully, the noise is blocked. But you all have a restful evening in the tower unless there's anything else?

LAURA: Drowned out by kitty purrs anyway.

MATT: There you go. Unless there's anything else you wish to accomplish before the night is over, you all rest well on the tower.

MATT: In the morning, you set out for your-- this would be third? This will be your fourth day of journey, which you do not have to roll on the table because you are being escorted by the yetis.

LAURA: Oh, tight!

MATT: So it is an auto clear, non-problematic day, and you guys make your way around the bend of the mountain range on the northern side.

MARISHA: (vocalizing)

MATT: As you get towards the end of the day, you guys have to continue heading in a curved southwestern direction while the yeti return towards their sanctuary to the northwest. So there is a moment where you part and you see as they gather their things, the yeti look over and Gestaf goes, "Thank you again, Mighty... Nein?"

TALIESIN: We know.

LAURA and MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: "Right. Thank you and stay safe."

SAM: (laughs)

MATT: Steps forward and you hug his shin. Pats your back.

MATT: "Aww. All right, come on. Hopefully, we'll get back in time for dinner." And they all begin to trek their way and as you make your way southward, the cold gray sky getting slightly more dense with the coming light snow. You watch as the yeti step off, slowly vanishing over the horizon in the direction of the Sanctuary.

LIAM: They might be too far away, but Caleb remembers and says: Remember, only one boba a day!

MATT: Yeah, they are. They didn't hear that.

LAURA: (laughs)

MATT: Not from that distance.

SAM: Oh well. They'll all die.

MATT: But another night journeyed. Let's roll one more time for your final day.

SAM: It's Taliesin's turn.

LIAM: Tally-ally-ally-al.

LAURA: Taliesin!

TALIESIN: Yeah, because I've been doing great.

LIAM: Nat one.

TALIESIN: Number 18.

LAURA: Ooh.

TALIESIN: Lucky number 18.

MATT: 18. All righty.

SAM: Seems good.

TALIESIN: Who knows.

MATT: The weather is clear. And despite the wind and the snowfall, you are allowed safe passage through.

ALL: Yes.

TRAVIS: Nice.

MATT: And as you press on towards this final day of the journey, you begin to approach the location marked on your map as A5. The terrain begins to shift from the hilly white horizon to a more snow-covered rocky region that marks the approach of the nearby mountain range and the broken ground that surrounds this section. Odd broken monoliths of stone jut from the ice, like something angry punched from beneath the ground. At this point, a voice creeps into your mind, Jester. It's odd and at first you don't recognize it because it sounds like two voices at once. (as Cree) One of them has this sort of sound and you recognize it as Cree's.

MARISHA: Cree.

MATT: (Irish accent) Then over that is another familiar voice speaking in unison saying, "Oh, I'm so glad you decided to come." We were somewhat worried I'd scared you off." It would seem curiosity always wins." And that's all you hear. You can respond if you'd like.

LAURA: (terrified whisper) Are you pooping? No, that's not-- (laughs)

MATT: It was the drama behind it that made it.

LIAM: Sold it, you sold it.

MARISHA: I would really so here for it.

MATT: (laughs)

LAURA: Fuck it, that is what I say.

MARISHA: Do it.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Own it. There is no further response.

LAURA: (panting breaths) Molly just talked to me.

MARISHA: What?

TALIESIN: What do you mean?

LAURA: Molly just talked to me.

LIAM: And said?

LAURA: They're waiting for us.

SAM: Did they say where?

LAURA: I think they're here.

SAM: Okay.

LAURA: But, it wasn't just him. It was Cree, too, I think.

LIAM: And three more?

LAURA: I just heard two voices.

LIAM: Well.

SAM: And Cree talked to you as well?

LAURA: Yeah, at the same time. What does that mean?

SAM: They've got special powers, maybe?

LAURA: Are they all one person?

SAM: (gasps) Ooh.

MARISHA: Hive mind?

LIAM: Interesting.

SAM: Interesting.

MARISHA: Or they're just operating on a much weirder and larger level than we've even considered.

SAM: Do we have an orb near us right now? How do they know we're here?

TRAVIS: I'll cast See Invisibility again with the sword summoned.

MATT: Okay. You glance and, roughly about a foot above Jester's head, you see a slightly faint shimmering beacon of arcane--

TRAVIS: Oh yes, they seem to be locked on you again.

LAURA: Dispel.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and roll a d20 and add your wisdom modifier.

SAM: Two.

LAURA: I've got a good wisdom, bitch. I've got a plus five to my wisdom, thank you very much.

LIAM: (funny voice) I'm a cleric.

LAURA: (funny voice) I'm a cleric. That's, um... 13.

MATT: 13.

LAURA: I rolled super good.

MATT: Sorry. Unfortunately, it does not vanish.

LAURA: (frustrated grunt)

SAM: Say some false information.

LAURA: Oh, I guess I wouldn't know that it's not vanished. Is it gone?

TRAVIS: Yes.

LAURA: Oh, good.

TRAVIS: You got it.

LAURA: Oh my gosh, I'm so good at this! Anyway. Yeah, they know we're here.

MARISHA: Assholes.

SAM: Where are we? I mean it's nighttime, daytime?

MATT: It's-- this final day's travel before you reach here. You'd get here late afternoon. You have about an hour and a half until dusk and you're still not entirely-- you just see like for the somewhat hilly snowy landscape you've been traveling with, you know, variations in height. It's been mostly, fairly easy to traverse. Just skirting around the heavy mountain range and as you went around to this side, to this pocket-- this portion of the valley where this is marked on the map, the ground is much more broken and there are pieces of jagged stone that seem to punch through from the ground beneath. There are heavy valleys at some points, sometimes wide, sometimes very small, but it is a very broken landscape in comparison to where you've been.

SAM: How do we find, like, a way in or down or through? Dagen, have you been here?

MATT: "I've-- I've helped folks find their way around here, I just-- Finding a space always takes a little bit. Hold on. Follow me." And he begins to carry you guys through the broken spaces here. You can see it's-- areas are almost like pits, where parts of the ground almost had small localized sinkholes and where the snow is built up. There's a sense of, like, you're not sure if that's going to be actually solid ground or just a pit that's filled in with snow temporarily. And you precariously follow in Dagen's tracks as he's--

TRAVIS: Just a moment. Just so we don't do the work for them again. Is that sphere gone yet?

MATT: Yeah, it does not last the entire length of your See Invisibility.

TRAVIS: Just making sure we're not showing them the way in.

MARISHA: Yeah, like we did with Obann?

LAURA: They could be watching us right now. Not through a scry.

SAM: Or like it's just from a-- from a rock somewhere?

TRAVIS: Anyone see anything, want to sweep the horizons, do a perception check? Any ledges or embankments or anything?

MARISHA: I can do a scan. I'll try one.

LAURA: 16.

TALIESIN: What'd you roll?

MARISHA: Seven.

TALIESIN: I rolled a natural one, which brings it to 11, but...

MATT: Yeah, but it's still natural one.

LAURA: 16.

MATT: 16? Okay. Glancing around the vicinity. Nothing catches your eye. You just see a bunch of ice gathered in areas where the rock seems to come off at an odd angle. You can see the lengthy icicles and bits of jagged ice that has gathered around some of the embankments and bases. And it's an oddly alien landscape within an alien landscape.

ASHLEY: Is it at all like the Barbed Fields type of thing?

MATT: Nowhere near that tall and it's more just like very varied in broken ground. The Barbed Fields was these massive spires-- these weird angled, sometimes hooked spires that defied logic. But as Dagen leads you through, it takes about an hour or so and the light in the sky begins to get somewhat darker before eventually, he goes, "All right, this is all looking mighty familiar. It's got to be there." And he points over. And you can see a jagged ice shelf that arches over the mouth of a lightless cavern that descends into darkness below. It would be easy to look past this and not even notice it, but once Dagen points it out, it's hard to not see it amongst all the somewhat rough and jagged terrain. There is definitively a cave mouth there and once you-- once you're noticing it, the presence, for some reason, shakes you a bit. This is-- this is the excavation site that you've been seeking.

TALIESIN: Are there footprints leading into it? Just like people have already--

MATT: Who wants to make an investigation check to look, you can.

TALIESIN: (raspberry) I mean, it's investigation. I don't know why I bother. That's a three minus one, so that's a two.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: I'm going to--

MARISHA: Yeah, any--

TALIESIN: Snow

MARISHA: -- any sign of camping, campfires, anything?

MATT: I'd say investigation or survival, either way, if you want to check. What would have been your survival roll on that?

TALIESIN: Oh way higher, that would have been eight with--

MATT: Still not enough.

TALIESIN: Yeah. I rolled real bad.

MARISHA: 28.

MATT: 28? Okay. What you do find-- there are numerous frozen corpses dragged from the excavation site that have been thrown down into certain areas of the surrounding ravine that are just currently covered in frost and ice. Glancing down at the spaces. There's enough snow on them where it looks like they've been there for a while.

MARISHA: Not yesterday?

MATT: Not yesterday. You do find fresher footprints leading towards the entryway. I mean, there are numerous signs of footprints. Some appear to be much older and you only catch elements of them that are left under overhangs as you make your way around where a majority of the harsher weather didn't quite cover their presence. But you do see fresher sets of footprints, a number of them that have made their way to that opening probably in the past 24 hours or so.

LIAM: These bodies, do they look like the rough and tumble dangerous type or workers?

MATT: Well, a little bit of both.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Some, it's hard to tell-- you gather and you-- I'd say you find, with that roll, five different bodies just looking around. Some that are mostly buried and you wipe off the area and find them. You see one that's most of a person. They all appear to have been cut. Like they've all been gashed to death. Some sort of battle or assault ended their life.

MARISHA: Gashed.

MATT: You see one of them appears to be a goblin. You see two that are standard humans. One of them looks relatively-- what you'd expect from somebody who works out of Balenpost. You see one looks a little more almost merchant in the way their clothing is presented, though they're wearing a heavy cloak over it, but their whole front of their torso is just stained red and they are frozen in a layer of thick ice and snow.

TRAVIS: Any items on these people, magical items, weapons, anything like that?

MATT: You can check. Make an investigation.

LIAM: I'll cast Detect Magic, hearing Fjord say that.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: 17.

MATT: 17, good call. A lot of these bodies, you'd have-- or I'd say some of them you'd have to warm up a bit to try and get through the ice that has gathered upon them over time. They've been here for quite a while. Nothing magical catches your attention, and looking at most of the bodies, aside from what they're wearing and some simple, basic daggers, shortswords, one of them has like a short bow over their back, all their money, all their belongings have been taken. Two of them don't even have boots.

TRAVIS: Wow.

MATT: Looks like whoever killed them, robbed whatever seemed to be of worth.

TRAVIS: Who the fuck takes boots?

SAM: And this opening down into below, is it big? Is it like a little mineshaft? What are we talking?

MATT: It's about, maybe, 12 feet across from side to side and no taller than eight feet.

SAM: I'll check it for traps.

TRAVIS: Three people wide.

MATT: Go for it.

MARISHA: Do I see any markings? Any signs? Any language, carvings on the wall that looks like it's signifying anything?

MATT: No.

LIAM: There's just nature at this point.

MATT: It's just nature.

LIAM: Yeah.

SAM: 27.

MATT: 27? No traps.

SAM: Great.

MATT: But as you get closer and falling behind Nott as Nott signifies that it's not trapped, you do notice that at the edges of the stone of the entrance, where some of the ice itself comes in and seems to be facing in the direction of the opening, you can see elements of the stone are carved or at least have markings like they've been chiseled and broken. And the ice itself at this place, while there are fresher icicles that fall from it, you see the signs that this has been worked. This has been-- You gather because what you do as an investigator, that this cavern has been uncovered.

MARISHA: Not natural necessarily, but--

MATT: Right. I mean, it was, the cave itself was natural in its formation but it was uncovered by digging and removal of ice forcefully and that's the most you get out of that one.

LIAM: Well, this is the pits. Our adversaries absolutely know we are coming. They are absolutely waiting for us. They seem to have the ability to look at us at any time they want. We have no element of surprise. This is the pits.

MARISHA: Yeah. Yeah.

LIAM: The best I can think of is to send my cat in and see how long it takes for them to kill him.

MARISHA: We don't know how far down they are.

LIAM: Correct.

TRAVIS: We don't know if they're in there at all.

MARISHA: They've got to be.

TALIESIN: Pretty sure they are.

TRAVIS: Well, remember it was to alpha and alpha, which is far further north from here. They may have been here yesterday and moved on already.

MARISHA: Do I see any footprints that look like they are leading away from here further north? Like they've been here and then they're gone?

MATT: None of the fresher ones.

MARISHA: Huh?

MATT: None of the fresher ones.

ASHLEY: Hmm.

MARISHA: None of the fresher ones look like they've moved away?

LIAM: Meaning there's lot's of old stale ones going in every direction.

MATT: Yes.

LIAM: The freshest ones are--

MARISHA: Inward.

MATT: Correct.

MARISHA: Okay. I don't know. Feels like they're still here. So this is an ambush. This is an ambush. What are we doing?

TRAVIS: Five on seven? Could be worse.

LAURA: Yeah but they're five that killed a really strong--

MARISHA: (clicks tongue) Snuck into her room.

SAM: We're eight now.

MARISHA: I noticed.

SAM: Got Dagen with us.

TRAVIS: Five on eight.

MATT: "Uh, and I don't mean to--"

MARISHA: (sneezes)

MATT: Gesundheit.

LIAM: Gesund.

MARISHA: Sorry, it snuck up on me.

MATT: "I just want to be clear. I'm a guide. I get you to the location."

MARISHA: So eight on seven.

MATT: "I'm not going down there."

SAM: Aww.

LIAM: Makes sense.

SAM: He's such a cool fighter.

TALIESIN and MARISHA: Five.

SAM: Well, we'll just be careful. We'll send in the cat. I'll go invisible and scout ahead.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

SAM: We'll check our six. That's a thing that people do.

TRAVIS: Actually, your invisible won't work.

SAM: Why?

TRAVIS: Well--

LIAM: Ja.

TRAVIS: Molly noticed the scrying orb, which I can do only when I See Invisibility. They'll see you.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: I can still sneak.

TRAVIS: You can.

LAURA: Should I try to send a message to Molly?

SAM: How about you say, "Where are you?" or "Clap three times."

LAURA: Yeah. I'm going to try to send a message.

LAURA: Okay. Why are you doing this? What do you even want from us? We just miss you. I thought you were our friend. Anyway, we're here.

MATT: The voice returns rather rapidly from your statement and says, "I don't mean you any harm. I'm just pursuing my interests, and if you have similar interests, well, I'm inviting you to come along. You don't have to."

LAURA: Does it sound like he's lying? (laughs)

MATT: (laughs) Make an insight check.

LIAM: Shifty.

LAURA: Ooh, good. (blows raspberry). (laughter)

LAURA: I rolled a two, so seven.

MATT: Hard to gauge through a message spell, necessarily. And you're still a little shook by the interaction. Hearing that voice again after so long it still rattles you.

TRAVIS: You never asked him what his name is.

MARISHA: What if we join him? What if we take him up on his offer and join him?

TALIESIN: I don't think deceit's going to work on this one, but--

MARISHA: I'm not being deceitful at all.

TRAVIS: You don't even know what you're joining, though.

MARISHA: No. I don't. I didn't know what I was joining though when I got thrust into the Cobalt Soul either, though. Made it work.

SAM: What if they're doing evil shit?

MARISHA: They are.

SAM: Well, then I don't want to join them.

MARISHA: Well-- You join to see what happens and then at least we're there when shit goes awry, right?

LIAM: This is the pits.

TALIESIN: Let's be cautious.

MARISHA: Either we walk in and we get ambushed--

SAM: We won't get ambushed.

MARISHA: We will get amb--

SAM: We won't.

MARISHA: Why wouldn't we get ambushed?

SAM: Because we're smarter.

LAURA: Because we're expecting it.

MARISHA: I don't think that's true.

LAURA: An ambush means that they take you by surprise.

MARISHA: They know so much more. We don't even know realistically why we're here. We're chasing a ghost. They've got the entire upper hand right now.

LIAM: You're not really selling your point.

MARISHA: How am I not? They've got--

LIAM: Saying "let's go in."

MARISHA: They're holding all of the cards. Why would we fight that? You can't go up against the house when it's like that, so.

TRAVIS: Beau has a small point. We don't even know what it is they want, what they're trying to do or accomplish. It seems like something that we should stop. It feels evil, but Vess DeRogna was no saint.

MARISHA: Whatever that they're doing that's evil, whatever ritual that they're trying to accomplish, they're not going to accomplish it tonight.

TRAVIS: We think.

MARISHA: They're trying to-- they can't. They're going somewhere. They're trying to gather something. They've got this book back from Vess DeRogna, from the source, super mad at myself that I didn't think, like, that he was speaking very literally, that he was taking it from her directly. So he has that piece of the puzzle. Beyond that, we don't know, other than we know that he's here gathering shit for some reason.

LIAM: I just talk to the air.

MARISHA: And we're--

LIAM: Are you getting all this?

MARISHA: I'm sure he is. We still being watched?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'm-- it's up, lasts for an hour, so I can look.

MATT: Yeah, no sign of anything around you.

TRAVIS: No, we're good.

TALIESIN: I say, you're not wrong, they're going to tell us what's going on. I don't think that this necessarily, this doesn't feel like an ambush because they wouldn't be setting us up for this and let us walk in, I guess?

MARISHA: Yeah, he thinks he's here because we're competing against him, or he knows we have no clue what's going on and we're simply chasing him and he is leading us into a trap.

TALIESIN: It's also entirely possible that he doesn't know why we're chasing him.

MARISHA: He knows enough.

TRAVIS: We're going in, right?

TALIESIN: We are.

TRAVIS: We always decided on--

TALIESIN: I also may have a Locate Creature spell, so we can lock in on Cree.

MARISHA: Even five against seven. He snuck into a member of the Cerberus Assembly's room and murdered her. No problem. Someone that we repeatedly said, time and time again, even after she died, that she's a member of the Cerberus Assembly, no one should be worried about her, she can protect herself. We said that after she died. So whatever we're working with, we don't know what it is. We are following them in blindly. We've done that before, we did it with Obann and it worked okay in our favor, but we were chasing Yasha. We don't know what we're chasing right now.

SAM: There is-- These are great points. We have nothing that we can do to solve them, though.

MARISHA: But join them.

SAM: How?

MARISHA: Follow where they're going. Just go along for the ride.

SAM: How is that different from what we're about to do? We're going down there anyway.

MARISHA: We're not going to-- It's the difference between saying, "Hey, what's up," and fighting them right now.

TALIESIN: That's a fair point.

SAM: We don't have to fight them.

MARISHA: We either go down-- So that's the conversation, then?

TALIESIN: We try and talk before anything.

LIAM: I don't think there's any question that we're going in.

MARISHA: No. I'm not debating that. I'm debating what do we do when we find them?

TRAVIS: I have no problem listening.

TALIESIN: Do our best to defend ourselves and have a conversation.

TRAVIS: We just had dinner with fucking yetis for christ's sake. I'm fine listening.

MARISHA: All right. He's going to watch us as we go down.

SAM: Sure.

MARISHA: I think the more amicable we've seen, it means we are not resurrecting someone tomorrow.

LIAM: Yeah, we'll see how it goes.

MARISHA: Not saying we're joining him--

LIAM: There's no choice but to go in. We've no choice but to go in. He murdered a high-powered government official. Looks like we did, of course we're going in. We have no plan. I am not joining something I don't know what it is. It doesn't change what we're going to do. We are going to go in at a disadvantage to find out--

MARISHA: There's a difference between-- joining and--

LIAM: This is semantics, Beauregard, we're going in! I'm not going to agree--

MARISHA: I'm not debating that we're not going in.

LIAM: -- to join the Eyes of Nine in advance.

MARISHA: I'm not suggesting that we join the Eyes of Nine and slit our wrists and do some sort of ritualistic magic. That's not what I am suggesting. And I know we're going in. I'm only presenting a plan for when we encounter them.

SAM: And the plan is that we'll talk first. Fine. Let's go.

MARISHA: You can get in the car with someone and see where they're headed without--

TALIESIN: Let's take it one step at a time.

LIAM: I like your optimism.

TALIESIN: If the road looks like it's opening up in that direction.

MARISHA: I'm not opt-- don't mistake any of this for optimism like I have hope

TRAVIS: I'll start walking towards the entrance.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: I'm into that.

MARISHA: I just don't want anything to be misconstrued that I am joining in some sort of evil force, but fighting it head on doesn't seem like the point.

LIAM: I'm already walking after Fjord.

MARISHA: All right, cool.

TALIESIN: We get it. We get it.

TRAVIS: We're on the same page.

MATT: Okay. Fjord and Caleb enter the cavern.

TALIESIN: We're gonna turn and kill you the second you say yes. (laughter)

MATT: Anybody else follow after them?

TALIESIN: Oh yeah.

SAM: Are we sending Frumpkin ahead? Are we doing anything?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I think that's actually fair.

TALIESIN: Frumpkin's a good idea.

LAURA: I feel like me and Yasha are standing outside of the cave for a minute.

ASHLEY: I mean, they could've killed us, too.

LAURA: Sure.

ASHLEY: You know, they didn't come after us.

LAURA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Not that that means much, but--

LAURA: We don't really have a choice.

ASHLEY: Let's go.

LIAM: This is stupid. I place my hand on Fjord's shoulder.

MATT: Well, one by one, you all step into the beginning entrance of the cavern. As the shadow begins to take you and you prepare the next length of your journey into the subterranean unknown, on the heels of Mollymauk, or whatever he calls himself now, and old friends he carries with him. We'll pick up there next week.

SAM: (groans)

TRAVIS: (drumbeats)

ASHLEY: Dungeon crawl.

MARISHA: Deeper and deeper we go.

LIAM: ♪ Making my way ♪

ASHLEY: I don't know what to think about this.

TRAVIS: Always dumb.

MATT: Yep.

MARISHA: (laughs)

MATT: Got a little time to think on this. and we'll pick up there as you delve into your first excavation, outer excavation of Aeor.

LAURA: (high pitched squeak)

MATT: I'm excited, you guys.

LIAM: Just five more hours, Dad.

TRAVIS: I exploded my stress ball.

MATT: You did it!

ASHLEY: Just let us in!

TRAVIS: It went everywhere.

MARISHA and SAM: Wait.

SAM: You broke one of those?

TALIESIN: You broke it?

MARISHA: You snapped it?

LIAM: Of course he did.

MARISHA: Oh no!

TRAVIS: There's little bobas all over the floor.

LIAM: He broke a pencil with one hand.

MARISHA and MATT: Oh my god.

LAURA: Oh my god.

TRAVIS: I'm covered in water right in my crotch. I was like (explosion).

MATT: I'm so proud of you, Travis.

TRAVIS: Grenade went off right in my lap.

LIAM: That's a good metaphor for germ spread.

MATT: There you go. Well. On that note! Thank you so much for coming along with us. Don't forget, we love you guys very much and is it Thursday yet? Good night.

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