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Pre-Show[]

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

ALL: (hollering) We play Dungeons & Dragons!

MATT: Indeed. We do have some announcements to get through, so bear with us. The first is our first sponsor for tonight, NordVPN. Travis, take it away. Travis? Travis?

TRAVIS: (panting)

TALIESIN: You're late for training, Number Two. Let's review the BBD, TLC, and Run-DMC protocols.

TRAVIS: What's the point, Master? I've been training for giga months and still haven't seen any #hact0r 4TC10N. That spells "action" in leetspeak.

TALIESIN: I know what it spells, damn it.

ROBBIE: (laughs) Hold on, sorry, hold on. What is this? (laughter) Why does Travis look like a cross between Frank-N-Furter and a BlackBerry Curve? (laughter)

TALIESIN: His handle is Number Two and I, Morpheus, have been cyber-training him ever since the greatest hacker of the Pepsi generation, blackwillow69@aol.com.

LAURA: AKA Sam, the only man I've ever loved.

TALIESIN: Was turned into a gleaming cube of cake and the cast used their hacker personas to defeat the Ultra Kodex.

MATT: Hi, that was me.

ROBBIE: All right, cool, thanks for the recap. So Travis, he's-- oh, sorry, Number Two, he's got the haxor skills to protect the ultranet from the crypto chaos or something?

TRAVIS: Well, I do jack in with the power of NordVPN. Here, watch me Drop Dead Fred your tablet's BAPS protocol. (grunts) (gibberish noises) Speed zero, speed one, Speed 2: Cruise Control.

SAM: (electronic voice) NordVPN are providers of highest quality encryption for your internet traffic and hides your IP and physical location with 5,400 plus servers in 59 countries. It is easy to get better internet speed and protection with one simple click and it is available on every major platform, including Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux. Go to NordVPN.com/CriticalRole to get a two-year plan plus a bonus gift with a huge discount. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Wow, so you hacked my iPad with your hands?

TRAVIS: Yeah, my virile virus skills don't matter. Morpheus is wrong. There is no threat. I'm control alt deleting out of the program.

TALIESIN: Negatory, you're too important, Number Two. The fate of the world--

ROBBIE: Hey, whoa, hold on. Can I have a hacker name, please?

TALIESIN: No!

MARISHA: No.

ROBBIE: Okay, fine. Guess I'll just plug in my iPad since you juiced all the battery. (guttural scream)

TRAVIS: Whoa, Robbie, are you okay? Robbie!

ROBBIE: (evil laughter) Oopsie, looks like I ganked your new Robbie-- your new friend's body or something. I'm possessed, don't you get it? I spliced into his mind and now I control his body like a Fortnite no skin. Observe! (laughter)

ROBBIE: Why am I hitting myself? Oh, why am I hitting myself? Your poor friend. (evil cackle)

TRAVIS: Oh man, what a turd.

TALIESIN: Who are you?

LAURA: Oh my god.

ROBBIE: Oh, wouldn't you like to know, boomer? I'm your worst nightmare, baby. I'm a troll that can't be stopped with your pathetic ones and zeroes. Who am I? Oh, I'll tell you the next time we get sponsored by NordVPN. Hack to you, Matt.

TRAVIS: Whoa, aw yeah, yeah, yeah. (applause)

MATT: Well, uh-- Well fucking done.

ASHLEY: Yes, look at the background!

TALIESIN: Oh! (laughter)

MARISHA: Please put that on your reel. (laughter)

ASHLEY: So good.

TRAVIS: Put it on your reel and work never again.

SAM: What happened, guys? (laughter)

ASHLEY: Oh, hey!

MATT: You just missed it, Sam.

SAM: I'm late to the show.

MATT: You just missed it. (laughter)

SAM: Robbie, you were great. I have some notes.

ROBBIE: I figured. I figured, yeah.

MATT: Fucking dick. (laughs) This episode is also sponsored by our friends at Ghostfire Gaming and their new episodic subscription service, Fables. Each Fable consists of six episodes released monthly, and in each of the episodes are four chapters, and each episode is about 80 pages, and also comes with digital maps and digital tokens, making this the perfect all-in-one adventure. The first up is Grim Hollow Adventures, Citadel of the Unseen Sun, an adventure set within a world where the sun has vanished from the sky and vampires rule the land with an iron fist. Check it all out now at ghostfiregaming.com/fables-criticalrole. If you sign up for the Fables membership before December 31st Eastern time, you'll get your subscription for $10 per month for the first 12 months, so check it out. Next up, Liam, you got an announcement.

LIAM: Oh, holy half-elves, Kith & Kin is available now!

(cheering)

LIAM: Oh my gosh, this is the narrated by this guy, with a little help from these guys. Pick it up at your local bookstore or via CriticalRoleBooks.com. We got a real book!

TRAVIS: It's a real book! (cheering)

MATT: Very surreal. Thank you, Liam.

LIAM: Thank you.

MATT: Laura, you got--

LAURA: I got stuff to say.

MATT: You got a holiday drop here.

LAURA: I'm nervous to say it all.

TRAVIS: You got this, babe.

LAURA: First, this one is like really super-- they're all super super cool, but this one's super super duper cool. It's our-- Wait, oh, did you already hold it up? It's our limited edition Shaun Gilmore statue from McFarlane Toys. (oohing)

LAURA: Ooh.

ASHLEY: Look at him!

LAURA: He's 12 inches... tall. He's beautiful. Anyway, he's also exclusive to our stores and he'll be at all of our stores, so check your store. If it's not there right now, it might be there soon. It will be there soon. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Yes.

LIAM: He's a little distracted.

LAURA and ASHLEY: He's 12 inches tall.

MATT: 12 inches.

TALIESIN and SAM: Tall. (laughter)

LAURA: Next up! Oh, you're holding these up.

LIAM: Should we say it or hold it? Hold it and say it.

LAURA: We have Whitestone joggers. (yelling)

MATT: Aw, the clock tower on it, that's so cute.

LAURA: That's so cool!

MARISHA: Oh my god.

MATT: I love that.

LAURA: Look at this beauty. They're just the same as our other joggers, so super comfy.

MARISHA: They're so comfy.

TRAVIS: But not for running.

LAURA: They're not sweaty yet and this is designed by Grace Berríos.

MATT: Yeah!

LAURA: Yay! Okay, next up is our Exandria postcard set. (oohing)

LAURA: This is really super cool and I've been super excited about this for a while. This features different locations from around Exandria including-- Oh shit, I should've pulled this out before.

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: This is what people want to see right here. This is--

LAURA: Oh, I ripped the box!

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

LIAM: She's so angry.

ASHLEY: Oh, we were talking about these for so long.

LAURA: Vasselheim.

MARISHA: Oh, I love the art style.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

LAURA: Emon.

LIAM: Oh, those are pretty.

TALIESIN: Wow.

LAURA: Ank'Harel!

MARISHA: Yeah!

LAURA: Rexxentrum!

LIAM: Boo.

LAURA: Rosohna and--

TRAVIS: Save some suspense.

LAURA: Aeor, nope.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MARISHA: Aeor!

LAURA: You get multiple ones of all of them.

LIAM: Oh.

TALIESIN: Whoa!

LAURA: These were designed by Pretty Useful. Check them out.

TRAVIS: Pretty Useful Co.

TALIESIN: Pretty Useful Co.

MATT: Pretty sure that was like the Mad Money version--

LAURA: @PrettyUsefulCo.

MATT: -- of our merch.

LAURA: Okay okay okay, next up. Look, these have been out for a couple of weeks, so if you've already seen them in our store, I'm sorry, but I'm really excited about these things and I've been waiting for these for a while. It's a little three pack of little teeny books that are sticky notes.

TRAVIS: Aw, so cute!

LAURA: You guys, these are so cute. It's a little Chronicles of Exandria.

TALIESIN: Oh, it's so cute!

LAURA: A little-- look, a little Der Katzenprinz. That one was designed by Adrián Ibarra Lugo, and this was Grace Berríos and this one is a little Chaos Crew pulp novel.

MARISHA: Yes!

ASHLEY: Ooh.

LAURA: It was designed by Jordyn Torrence. Look, they've got sticky notes on the inside.

SAM and TALIESIN: Whoa.

MARISHA: Ooh, they're so cute.

LAURA: I love them.

MATT: (laughs)

LAURA: Okay, and then the last thing that I'm going to talk-- Our second to last thing I'm going to talk about: We have Koozies.

MARISHA: We have Koozies.

TRAVIS: We've got Koozies!

LAURA: We've got drink holders. Am I allowed to say-- is Koozie a thing? Is that like a brand?

SAM: They're 12 inches.

MARISHA: Oh, I don't know.

LAURA: We've got drink holders.

TRAVIS: In the south, we call them Koozies.

LAURA: Look, it's a Nestled Nook Inn. Wait, flip the other ones around.

MARISHA: Oh wait, wait.

LAURA: Yeah, they all have Critical Role logo.

MARISHA: Oh shit, oh shit.

LAURA: The Beaurebar!

MARISHA: Beaurebar and (like Grog) Strongjaw.

TRAVIS: (as Grog) Yeah. Strongjaw Ale.

MATT: Strongjaw Ale.

LAURA: Can I have the Nestled Nook Inn? I want to use it tonight.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: And then--

LIAM: We call them Koozies in the north as well.

LAURA: Do you?

LIAM: Yes.

LAURA: Are they all-- it fits on a can. By the way, it doesn't fit on a coffee cup from a restaurant.

TALIESIN: We just let the temperature have our way with our drinks.

LAURA: But they do fit on cans. Okay, just edit that part out.

LIAM: Total chaos.

TRAVIS: Get me one of those.

LAURA: Yeah, fit it on a can. It fits on a can.

SAM: Who's got cans?

LAURA: Show it on a can, Travis. And then the last thing-- (pleased noises)

SAM: Good. (laughter) 40 minutes later.

MATT: Yeah, okay.

LIAM: So what is Critical Role, anyway? (laughter)

ASHLEY: You can also wear them as mittens.

MATT: Worst QVC channel.

ASHLEY: Stick your fingers through the bottom if you lose your gloves.

LAURA: I'm so bad at this. Why do they let me keep talking about merch?

MATT: I don't know! (laughs)

LAURA: Then the last thing we have, I swear, is this and it's so pretty. It's a Percy shirt. (cheering)

MATT: Whoa, that's actually-- that's fucking awesome.

TALIESIN: Fuck yeah.

LAURA: Isn't it so cool? It's Percy's first shirt.

TALIESIN: Percy's first shirt.

SAM: Aw.

LAURA: This art is by Olivia Samson, it's so beautiful.

ASHLEY: Baby's first shirt.

TALIESIN: Look at that.

MATT: That's so cool.

ASHLEY: That's beautiful.

SAM: We're being told on Slack that--

TALIESIN: He's so pensive.

SAM: Koozie is a trademarked--

LAURA: Oh, it is? (laughter) Stop saying Koozie.

TALIESIN: Woozies, Woozies. Floozies, they're Floozies. I don't know.

LAURA: Well, anyway--

SAM: We should get some ADR so they can replace it later.

LAURA: Drink holder. Drink holder?

SAM: Cozy.

TALIESIN: Drink holder.

LIAM: Wait, could we also just get some room noise?

SAM: Okay, good.

LIAM: Okay. (laughter)

SAM: That's all I've got to talk about tonight. (laughter) (claps)

LIAM: Is that all?

TRAVIS: What do we call them, drink sleeves?

MARISHA: I don't--

SAM: Bandaids.

TRAVIS: Drink holder.

LAURA: Drink holders.

MARISHA: Drink holders? But they're, yeah, okay.

SAM: We'll fix it, it's fine.

LAURA: We'll fix it in post.

TRAVIS: They float, they float.

TALIESIN: Drink holder.

LAURA: Aren't they so cute?

ASHLEY: I love them.

MARISHA: Drink cuddlers.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay, sorry, I'm done.

MATT: Well then, that being the case, let's go ahead and jump into tonight's episode of Critical Role.

♪ Critical ♪
♪ It's Thursday, ♪
♪ it's Thursday ♪
♪ It's Thursday, ♪
♪ it's Thursday ♪
♪ It's Thursday night ♪
♪ (flames whooshing) ♪

Part I[]

MATT: And welcome back. So last we left off, the strange crew of wayward adventures had come together, met themselves a group helmed by Sir Bertrand Bell, then lost Sir Bertrand Bell, went searching for vengeance on the one that took his life. Through the right questions, the right contacts, located the abode of this strange, dark, seemingly corrupted dwarf and managed to, indeed, find vengeance for him. Upon returning and giving this information to Lord Ariks Eshteross, he, one, thanked you for doing so, paid you a bounty that he felt was necessary and right, given the circumstances, mentioned that he was still working on a few of the requests that were made of the group, but was making headway and should have updates at some point in the near future. You were then, where we left off, heading out into the night air of the city of Jrusar to rest your wounds and whatever else events you wish to utilize to wind down after a very, very long day. So as you all step out into the night air, the faint mists beginning to slowly rise around the streets and the jungle below, what would you like to do?

MARISHA: Spire by Fire?

ASHLEY: I'm down.

TALIESIN: Works for me.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: All right.

ROBBIE: Sounds good.

SAM: Sounds good to me.

MATT: All righty. You all eventually head to the familiar interior of the Spire by Fire, where the familiar burning hearth on the far end of the now bustling interior and the sounds of laughter and conversation greet you. You eventually settle within, find yourself a comfortable table that is not taken, and amongst the boisterous, if somewhat solemn atmosphere, given the circumstances that brought you here naught but maybe a day or two before, you get a round of drinks, some food, and the space is yours.

SAM: Well, that was an eventful couple of days, huh?

ASHLEY: Boy, it sure was. They sure were, I mean. (laughter) Lots of days all strung together.

TALIESIN: Well, it seems like we're doing this, then.

LIAM: What's this?

TALIESIN: Whatever this fucking is.

LIAM: Oh, this.

ROBBIE: What is this?

TALIESIN: I got a great idea. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I'm going to order seven shots.

MATT: All right, Ishir gives you the nod and says. "Yeah, what's he looking for?"

TALIESIN: Seven of your whatever's cheapest.

MATT: "All righty, I'll go ahead and pour it out for you. (chuckles)"

TALIESIN: Actually, just bring the bottle. This is going to be a thing.

MATT: "I like that, bottle charge up." Goes ahead and grabs a handful of small glass receptacles and a somewhat sloshy-looking, dark brown liquid that settles within a faintly green clear bottle that looks like it may have cracked at one point and has been reaffixed with some sort of medical wrapping, but it functions. Sets it at the table, scatters the glasses out, this wide, lion-like grin, smiling as he looks across the table. "Well, as long as Ashton's taking care of you, you're all going to have a good night."

TALIESIN: So we're going to play a little game that I learned a few years ago.

MARISHA: Ooh.

ASHLEY: I like games.

TALIESIN: It's called, or at least what we call it, is "What the Fuck is Up with That?"

MARISHA: All right.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TALIESIN: Lowest roll has to answer a question truthfully and not too vaguely. Highest roll gets to ask it.

ASHLEY: Ooh!

TALIESIN: And then we drink.

MARISHA: Are there stipulations to the drinking? Do you drink whether you win or you lose, or do you just drink?

TALIESIN: Everybody drinks.

LAURA: Everybody drinks every time?

TALIESIN: Unless we want to try and slow this down or anything.

ASHLEY: Can I have a sip right now?

TALIESIN: Yeah, we can just fill you up again. That's fine.

LIAM: Prime the pump.

LAURA: If we're going to be doing this--

ASHLEY: Wet the whistle.

TALIESIN: If you like, it can just be who asks and who answers.

LAURA: No, no, I'm fine with it. I would very much like if we were maybe outside.

ASHLEY: Oh, is it loud?

LAURA: The more I drink, it'll just get harder and harder, so if we could just sit outside that'd be--

SAM: Are we in an area that is--

LAURA: I just--

SAM: You're uncomfortable.

LAURA: I feel like you said--

TALIESIN: Is there a-- floor that's currently open that we can just take? This is six stories.

MATT: You can go ahead and find a private room if you'd like to.

LAURA: Yeah, that'd be great.

SAM: Like a karaoke room. (laughter)

LAURA: Oh wow, thank you, thank you.

TALIESIN: Six stories of tavern, there's got to be an empty room. Okay.

MATT: Yeah, yeah. Well, the entire establishment is six stories, but there is an elevated floor up top where you can get a little bit distance and the music is quieter. You find the space up in the second overlooking space, not unlike the backgrounds behind you.

TALIESIN: I see what you did.

MATT: You find a handful of scattered tables that aren't as lively as the central floor, which feels connected to the energy of the city outside. So when you come up here, it's a bit empty, a bit cold. You see a handful of people that are intentionally sticking to the shadows and either in the process of gambling quietly or having clandestine meetings and conversations that just watch as you enter the space and then go back to their quiet, hushed monotone conversations. But there is a table a little bit away from the chaos here where you can feel a little more comfortable.

ROBBIE: Is this better for you?

LAURA: This is wonderful. Thank you.

MARISHA: Are those two folks in the corner too much?

LAURA: If they get to be, we can scare them off.

ASHLEY: Yeah!

LIAM: Imogen, is it like a proximity thing?

LAURA: Yeah, like if I'm around too many people, it just gets a little uncomfortable, you know. The farther away I get, the less it's intrusive.

LIAM: How far back is good?

LAURA: I mean, I really like not being in the city at all. But if we're here--

LIAM: I get that.

LAURA: This is a good distance.

TALIESIN: This is exactly how the game is played, by the way. Don't have to use proper nouns for any place or anybody if you don't want to incriminate anybody who is not yourself. But if it's about you, you got to talk about it. Are we ready?

LIAM: No tapping out.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TALIESIN: No tapping out.

ASHLEY: No tapping out?

LAURA: Do we drink before we ask the questions?

TALIESIN: It depends on how hard the question is.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: Wait, wait. I have one more question.

SAM: What if you don't drink?

LIAM: That's the question.

SAM: Yeah, I'll just fake it.

ASHLEY: What happens if you do?

TALIESIN: I'm just going to take a handful of copper coins.

SAM: Thank you, Ashton, that's very kind.

TALIESIN: One per round.

SAM: All right.

LAURA: All right.

ASHLEY: Would you break down if you did drink?

SAM: I don't know, if I drank a lot, maybe, but I think it would just fall down my face.

LAURA: Up and out, maybe just seep out--

ASHLEY: Maybe just seep out.

LIAM: Like Cookie Monster.

SAM: Oh, we could try. Let's try.

ASHLEY: Okay.

SAM: All right, I'm going to do a shot, and see what happens to the liquid.

TALIESIN: Oh no.

MATT: Okay. It vanishes inside you.

LAURA: (gasps)

LIAM: (sloshing)

LAURA: Can you feel it sloshing?

SAM: Can I feel it sloshing?

MATT: Do you move around a little bit?

SAM: Sure.

MATT: Yeah, it sloshes.

ASHLEY: Oh, I can hear it.

SAM: I wonder what's going to happen to it next. There's no real out.

LAURA: Is it dripping? Is it dropping anywhere?

ROBBIE: Is there any-- anything noticeable, like sparks or anything bad happening?

MATT: Roll a perception check.

ROBBIE: Oh fuck.

LAURA: Do we need to flip you upside down?

ROBBIE: Oh, that's perception?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

ROBBIE: That's 18.

MATT: 18. You give a very rapid, very intense glance, just scanning the exterior of Fresh Cut Grass, and no immediate signs of any sort of errant leakage.

ROBBIE: I'm no mechanic, but you look all right.

ASHLEY: Do you have a small wonder flap somewhere? (laughter) I'd love to see your insides.

SAM: You'd love to see my insides?

ASHLEY: Yes.

SAM: I can be opened up for repairs and stuff, but it's a little bit of a difficult process.

ASHLEY: Oh, okay.

SAM: You need tools and stuff.

TALIESIN: That hurt. I aged a year with that.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Same, same.

LIAM: Did you all go through the period where you thought that Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins--

MATT: Was the little brother in that?

LIAM: Convinced, convinced.

MATT: Same, same. Anyway. (laughs)

LIAM: "Smile, Wanda!" (laughter)

TALIESIN: Addendum to the rule also, if you have something you absolutely want to ask, you can challenge somebody, but if you roll lower, you have to answer a question from them or-- and they can take suggestions.

SAM: Are we rolling on your standard d7 on this, or what kind of--

LAURA: Rollies!

TALIESIN: This is just straight Rollies.

SAM: Oh, cool. And we all have dice?

LAURA: We all have our Rollies dice, yeah.

TALIESIN: Here, it's in your shot glass. I don't know why this is a--

SAM: Oh, sure, sure.

MATT: It's a big hit in Marquet, Rollies. It's--

TALIESIN: Oh, everyone plays Rollies.

MATT: Everyone keeps it in their pocket just in case. It's like Pogs. (laughter)

LAURA: Canon.

MATT: Yep. (laughs)

LIAM: Oh boy.

LAURA: Are we going?

TALIESIN: Yep!

SAM: What do we do? We just roll?

LAURA: We roll.

SAM: We're just Rollies?

ROBBIE: Four.

LAURA: I think you're going to answer.

MARISHA: 16.

SAM: 15.

LAURA: 10.

ASHLEY: Seven.

LIAM: Five.

TALIESIN: 10.

ROBBIE: Shit.

LAURA: Wait, who's answering? You're asking?

MARISHA: I guess I'm asking.

SAM: So the highest asks, the lowest answers?

LAURA: And we all drink regardless.

TALIESIN: Yep, unless you challenge somebody directly.

ROBBIE: This is my nightmare!

MARISHA: It has to be one person directly?

TALIESIN: Yep.

MARISHA: Oh. Orym--

SAM: No, you have to ask him.

MARISHA: Oh, oh right.

SAM: You're such a rule breaker.

ROBBIE: I rolled the lowest.

MARISHA: You rolled the lowest.

LIAM: New game, new game, new game.

MARISHA: Hang on. There's a lot of rules.

TALIESIN: If you want, we can open it up to highest gets to ask.

LIAM: Start with the basics.

MARISHA: All right.

SAM: This is advanced Rollies.

MATT: It's one of the alternate rules.

ROBBIE: Does she have to say, "What the fuck is up with that?" before she asks the question, is that part of the-- I love rules.

TALIESIN: You have to say it at the end.

ROBBIE: Oh, okay.

TALIESIN: And we can suggest.

SAM: Oh, we can suggest questions?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: No!

SAM: Oh. (laughter)

SAM: There's much I'd like to know.

ASHLEY: "No!"

MATT: New rule.

LAURA and TALIESIN: "Don't speak."

MARISHA: Your clothes, very fancy.

ROBBIE: That is a statement, yes.

MARISHA: You keep them very clean.

ROBBIE: True.

MARISHA: Almost as if you come from wealth. What the fuck is up with that? (laughter)

SAM: I like this game.

ROBBIE: I don't know what you mean. I am but a humble bard.

MARISHA: I've never seen a bard in that nice of clothes.

ROBBIE: Yes, yes, my family has some money, yes.

SAM: Where'd they get it?

ROBBIE: Where does anyone get money? Generational, let's call it that, inherited wealth.

MARISHA: Are you a lord?

ROBBIE: Lord's a broad term.

MARISHA: That's not a no.

SAM: A noble of some sort?

LAURA: Are you a prince?

ROBBIE: Oh, no, no, I am certainly not-- (laughter) That's a broad term, prince.

SAM: Wait, are you maybe a prince? Are we getting this?

MARISHA: Is prince broader than lord? Is prince a subcategory of lord?

ROBBIE: It's less official than that. Let's say I'm second in line to a very prominent family with a lot of money that you have probably never heard of.

LAURA: Doesn't he have to answer more than that?

TALIESIN: No, I mean, unless there's an addendum waiting or if there's a specific title, but it doesn't actually have to use proper nouns.

LAURA: We can ask for clarification--

TALIESIN: Clarification, but no proper nouns.

ROBBIE: How long does one round of What the Fuck is Up with That last?

TALIESIN: Until we're satisfied.

ROBBIE: All right.

SAM: Well, wait a second, I have a slightly different tack here. Why are you uncomfortable to talk about your family like this? It seems like you'd be proud to come from a fabled noble tradition.

ROBBIE: Hm, I'm proud of my family. My family is full of good people. But sometimes it's not enough.

SAM: What do you mean?

ROBBIE: It's good to be good, it's fine to be good. It's fine to do all the things that are expected of you, but my life is my life and I would rather be here with you, drinking this diarrhea water-looking booze than to be with my family, even though they are good, nice, wealthy people.

SAM: So if I may, expectations were put on you and you're sort of going your own path to forge a personal identity apart from them?

ROBBIE: It sounds cliché when you put it that way.

SAM: No, no, no, I'm just--

ROBBIE: No, not exactly, more like expectations I put on myself that I would never be able to fulfill within my family, so I found it easier to be on my own and have been for a while, until I realized on your own isn't quite as fun as I thought it would be. It's better with friends.

LIAM: That answer was Rollies free.

TALIESIN: I feel pretty satisfied with that.

SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Rollies.

MARISHA: Cheers.

TALIESIN: You don't have to go twice.

SAM and MARISHA: To Dorian.

ASHLEY: Prince Dorian.

ROBBIE: I've already had two, thank you, water, please.

SAM: Prince Dorian, wow.

ASHLEY: It has a nice ring to it.

LAURA: I've never known a prince before.

MARISHA: Prince Dorian.

LAURA: That's cocked.

SAM: Prince Dorian.

LIAM: What was that term?

LAURA: Cocked.

LIAM: What's that mean?

LAURA: It means that your Rolly was a little janky and so you have to roll it again because you can't tell what number it was actually on.

LIAM: Why do you use the word cocked for that?

LAURA: Why wouldn't you?

SAM: I got a 17.

LIAM: Well--

TALIESIN: I got a 12.

ASHLEY: I got an 18.

LIAM: 17.

MARISHA: 13.

LAURA: 13.

ROBBIE: No, no, no. No, no, no, no.

SAM and TALIESIN: You're absolved.

ROBBIE: Thank you, thank you. They can't have double Rollies.

TALIESIN: I'm 12. Is anyone lower?

MARISHA: No.

LAURA: All right.

SAM: And we got two 17s.

LIAM: And an 18.

SAM: Oh, an 18. Oh, why excuse me.

LAURA: Ooh, Fearne.

ASHLEY: Okay, so I'm asking the questions to you?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Ooh, ooh.

LIAM: Very shy over here, this one.

ASHLEY: What to ask you.

SAM: Whatever you ask, he/they will say "fuck" in their answer.

TALIESIN: That's fucking true.

ROBBIE: It's the name of the game.

ASHLEY: Okay, this is just a very simple question. Have you ever been in love before?

TALIESIN: You have to end it with--

ASHLEY: What the--

TALIESIN: Fuck is up with that.

ASHLEY: What the fuck is up with that?

TALIESIN: That is so good. Have I ever been in love before? Huh, you know, I don't know.

ASHLEY: Fair.

SAM: Not fair!

LAURA: That's probably a no.

ASHLEY: It's very hard to know sometimes I think.

LAURA: If you don't know, then you probably haven't been, right?

TALIESIN: I thought I was in love before, but I don't know if I ever actually was.

ASHLEY: Would you care to elaborate?

TALIESIN: Sometimes it is very easy to misconstrue friendship for love, lust for love, it's very amorphous. I have a hard time defining it to begin with, and there's only really a couple situations where it might've even applied.

ASHLEY: That makes a lot of sense to me.

SAM: Do you still think about this person or persons?

TALIESIN: Not really. On occasion, but not really.

MARISHA: How long ago was this?

TALIESIN: Oh, 10 years, give or take.

MARISHA: You know, I don't think I've ever been in love either. I mean, that's not true, I deeply love Imogen.

TALIESIN: It's a very broad word, isn't it?

MARISHA: It is.

TALIESIN: It's always bothered me.

ASHLEY: Should we think of a new word?

ROBBIE: For love?

ASHLEY: For love.

TALIESIN: For every different--

LAURA: Type of love.

ASHLEY: There's a lot, that's just-- It's like an umbrella word.

TALIESIN: It is an umbrella word.

ROBBIE: You meant romantic love, though, in your question.

ASHLEY: I think so, I think so, but now you've sort of broadened my thoughts on it.

TALIESIN: I've had a group of friends before. That's what I'll say.

ROBBIE: Did you love them?

TALIESIN: In the way one loves a group of friends, sure.

SAM: What were they called again?

ASHLEY: That counts.

TALIESIN: Nobodies.

LAURA: The Nobodies.

SAM: The Nobodies.

LAURA: That's a good name.

TALIESIN: It was a good crew.

LIAM: How'd they come by it?

LAURA: We need to think of a name for our crew.

SAM: We do.

TALIESIN: How did they come by it?

LIAM: Sorry, I didn't roll for that.

TALIESIN: No, it's okay, I'll keep going. We all grew up together. We all kind of had a shit time, and it was a nickname that stuck, and we thought it was kind of fucking funny.

LAURA: (laughs)

SAM: And what happened to the Nobodies?

TALIESIN: They left town.

SAM: Except you?

TALIESIN: Except me.

ASHLEY: How come?

SAM: Why?

TALIESIN: That's another question.

LAURA: Ooh.

MARISHA: Shall we?

SAM: Rollies!

MARISHA: Oh shit.

LAURA: Oh no.

ASHLEY: Oh dear.

TALIESIN: Fuckballs.

SAM: 19 over here.

LIAM: Oh, that's cocked.

TALIESIN: Hey, look at that.

LAURA: Oh, that's a good--

LIAM: Respectable.

MARISHA: 18.

SAM: 19.

ASHLEY: Two.

ROBBIE: Four.

TALIESIN: One.

LAURA: Four. (gasps)

ROBBIE: Four?

TALIESIN: But I already went, so it's up to--

ASHLEY: (gasps) Oh, to me?

LAURA: Ooh, so you get to ask her?

SAM: I guess so.

TALIESIN: I like this game so much.

SAM: Oh boy. Boy, I don't know much about you, Fearne.

LIAM: One way to find out.

SAM: Yeah, I know, but where to start?

TALIESIN: I always assume you have questions about everybody.

SAM: I do, but it's so many.

ASHLEY: I just don't know.

SAM: It's hard to narrow it down to one.

ASHLEY: Okay.

SAM: I mean, if we're doing this, s-s-some people have a great regret in their life. What the fuck is up with that? What's yours?

ASHLEY: Oh wow. (laughter)

TALIESIN: I don't think I've ever gotten you to say "fuck" before, that's great.

SAM: Well.

MARISHA: It's the rules.

ASHLEY: Do I have a regret? Hmm. Boy, that's a good question. I do have some regrets, and I guess, some of them I don't know how comfortable I feel like talking about yet. Oh!

SAM: Stumped you, I stumped you.

ASHLEY: I guess-- I'm having a hard time answering this question.

SAM: Well, I can change it up, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable.

ASHLEY: Give me another one. No? Give me another one.

SAM: How about this.

ASHLEY: Does that count?

TALIESIN: Have to take another shot, but we'll talk about it.

ASHLEY: I'll drink more. (laughter)

SAM: I don't mean to pry, but this has also been bugging me. What did y'all come to town to do?

TALIESIN: Yeah, what the fuck is up with that?

SAM: What the fuck is up with that?

ASHLEY: Well, a lot of that is not my story, but we came here to visit this beautiful place and to meet up with some friends of Orym, and to check out how great this town is.

SAM: Boy, oh boy. What the fuck is up with that? (laughter)

ASHLEY: I guess I'm not very good at answering questions.

SAM: I'll try a third one, maybe--

ASHLEY: Oh no!

SAM: We'll go easier. How about easier? (laughter)

TALIESIN: Drink again, I'll allow it.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LIAM: I love her so much. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Refused, lied. (laughter)

LIAM: True fey spirit.

SAM: How about this, how about this. How does it feel when you steal something?

ASHLEY: Ooh, okay.

SAM: What the fuck's up with that?

MARISHA: That one excites her.

ASHLEY: Well, it's not necessarily a thing of the taking it that's exciting. I just like having things, and where I come from, in my bedroom, I keep all of my trinkets everywhere that I've taken from all of my travels.

SAM: But is there a reason why you like being surrounded by so many things? Were you deprived of things as a younger--

ASHLEY: No, not at all, I just--

SAM: It just gives you comfort to be surrounded by stuff?

ASHLEY: There's so many wonderful things in the world.

ROBBIE: Wait, wait, you have a bedroom? I always thought you just walk around in circles and lay in a patch of grass or something. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I can sleep anywhere. It's really a great skill.

ROBBIE: What's your bedroom look like?

ASHLEY: Oh, it's just beautiful. I have a large window that I would look out of every day and decorated so beautifully and I lived with my grandmother.

SAM: Oh, who's she?

ASHLEY: Her name is Morri.

SAM: Morri?

ASHLEY: Morri, and she's lovely.

SAM: Where did you hail from again?

ASHLEY: I'm from the Feywild.

SAM: Oh, that's right. Did you mention that before, I can't remember?

ASHLEY: I don't know if I did.

SAM: Wait, is that far off?

ASHLEY: Mm-hmm.

MARISHA: It's very far off.

SAM: Wow.

ASHLEY: Okay. Well, who's next?

MATT: I'm still thinking about the question, "what the fuck's up with that?" To the classic song, "Man, funk dat!"

MARISHA: I haven't rolled this good, this entire campaign thus far. I just want to point that out.

ASHLEY: You're going to be getting a question.

TALIESIN: Six.

LAURA: I think my--

LIAM: Four.

MATT: ♪ How come every time I turn on the radio-- ♪

SAM: One?! 11 over here.

MATT: ♪ Same five songs ♪

MARISHA: 17.

SAM: Ooh!

ROBBIE: 16.

MARISHA: Oh!

TALIESIN: Unless someone's got higher.

SAM: But you already know everything about her.

MARISHA: I do know a lot about her.

TALIESIN: Wait, which one of you two got the lowest?

LAURA: I got a one.

MATT: Hmm!

LIAM: There's always another layer of the onion.

ASHLEY: We could make another addendum. If you didn't want to keep asking questions, you could take the next lowest number, but I feel like it might be fun.

MARISHA: I do have a question, actually.

TALIESIN: All right.

MARISHA: And I'm sorry--

LAURA: You don't need to play Rollies with me in order to ask me a question.

MARISHA: Oh, I know, but I'm just going to take advantage of it.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: How are you feeling about your father, and everything, yes, with the Chantry-- nope. Nope, the-- Husah-- Hubatt Corsairs. (laughter)

SAM: What the fuck is up with that?

MARISHA: Oh, genuinely, what the fuck was up with that? We haven't talked about this.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: You had to give over your father's name for collateral. What is going to happen?

LAURA: It does make me a little nervous.

TALIESIN: What the fuck do I know?

MARISHA: I don't know.

LAURA: I mean, I got a good feeling off of the people in there. Like, they didn't strike me as the type that would just go out and destroy my life for no reason. So unless we do something horrible to them, I don't think we have much to worry about.

MARISHA: All right.

LAURA: I hope.

LIAM: Sorry to bust in on your "fuck is up with that," but is home far off?

LAURA: I mean, it's a distance. They'd have to travel a bit in order to get there, you know. It's up in the...

SAM: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: This is why I keep mine right in front of me.

MATT: Taloned Highlands.

LAURA: Taloned Highlands! That's up in the Taloned Highlands.

MARISHA: She gets really excited about her hometown.

LAURA: I'm so excited, it's just so high and beautiful.

TALIESIN: Do you--

LAURA: Hmm?

TALIESIN: Do you feel like you tend to get a good reading off people, or are you a poor judge of character?

LAURA: Well. It's funny, when, you know, you're actively blocking out their thoughts. If you let it down for a second, you can get the true nature of people pretty fast. I try not to do it, you know, too often. It can get bad. But I mean, when I was growing up, when this started. People can be awful. They can seem so nice, but they can be awful. Yeah, so, I'm not feeling too worried.

MARISHA: All right.

LAURA: -- about my dad, plus, he's, you know-- Why would they go after him, you know?

MARISHA: Do you think he's doing well? I know we left in kind of a hurry.

LAURA: Yeah. I think he's, you know, it was probably a long time coming. He was probably happy that I'm gone, and he might be doing a bit better now that I'm not there.

SAM: What the fuck's up with that?

TALIESIN: I feel like there's some context necessary for this.

SAM: What happened? You have a falling out with your pa?

LAURA: No, no, no, my dad's great! He tried, you know, when things started happening, and it wasn't like that growing up, you know, I didn't have all of this. I don't know why it started. It was hard for him, you know? Because I didn't want to be around very many people, and... he just kind of-- distanced himself because he knew it made me more comfortable, and... you know, the people in town started talking, and I think he tried to distance himself socially as well for a while to try to, you know. Not his fault, totally.

SAM: From you or from the people in town?

LAURA: A little bit of both, you know.

ASHLEY: Was that very lonely for you?

LAURA: It was for a while, yeah. It was really bad there for a while. You know, when Laudna came to town, it was the first time I'd really felt any peace for a long time, so yeah. I don't know why I didn't think to get out of town faster. It was actually really great when we left.

LIAM: How long have you guys been traveling together?

MARISHA: Two years.

LAURA: Yeah, just over two years now.

MARISHA: We're pretty good at being hermits together. It's nice.

LAURA: Drinks?

TALIESIN: I'm satisfied. All right. Oh!

MARISHA: Oh boy.

LAURA: I need to roll higher.

TALIESIN: Gah, I keep rolling right in the middle.

SAM: Nine.

MARISHA: Nine.

TALIESIN: 10.

ASHLEY: 13.

ALL: Ooh!

ASHLEY: Ooh, someone's getting a question!

SAM: Here we go, here we go, here we go.

TALIESIN: Who's the highest roll?

SAM: I think it's Fearne asking Orym?

LAURA: Oh!

ASHLEY: (gasps)

LAURA: Should I get out of the way?

ASHLEY: I was the highest?

SAM: 13, right?

ASHLEY: 13.

LAURA: That was the highest roll? Wow.

ASHLEY: Ooh! Oh boy. I feel like I know a lot about you as well.

TALIESIN: If you can't think of a question, I've got one.

ASHLEY: You do?

SAM: Yeah, we've got tons over here.

ASHLEY: Oh yeah, go for it!

TALIESIN: What are you doing in town? What are you trying to get done? What the fuck is up with that?

MARISHA: What the fuck is up with that?

SAM: Turn the screws!

LIAM: Boy, Fearne, I feel like you kind of just left the door open there.

ASHLEY: I'm really sorry. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Could've asked him what his favorite color was, I suppose.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: If you're too uncomfortable to talk about--

TALIESIN: (shushing)

ASHLEY: You could always take a drink, and then we could ask you something else.

MARISHA: Then we would ask you again, the exact same question.

LIAM: Is that how it works, I drink and I get to skip the question?

ASHLEY: I'll drink with you.

LIAM: I'll answer the question.

LAURA: You'll answer the question?

SAM: Zone of truth!

TALIESIN: Little bit. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Little bit'll do.

LIAM: It's what the fuck am I doing here in town?

TALIESIN: What the fuck are you trying to get accomplished in town? You don't have to use any proper names, if you don't want to. And you don't have to incriminate anybody.

LIAM: I am on a bit of a fact-finding mission, I guess. I represent my home.

TALIESIN: Ashari?

LIAM: Right. And somebody, fucked with my home. I'm here because some breadcrumbs, maybe are leading here.

SAM: To the person responsible for messing with your home?

LIAM: Maybe.

LAURA: Like, in what way? Did they just destroy the village, or did they--

LIAM: No.

LAURA: Village? I don't know, is it a town, is it--

LIAM: It's pretty big, it's hard to reach, pretty powerful folk there. Just there's rumors on the wind of similar trouble here, maybe. I've just been sent to sort of sniff it out.

TALIESIN: So, you're high up in this city, or?

LIAM: The city's high, but that's not what you mean?

TALIESIN: They decided to send you for some reason.

SAM: Yeah, are you the chief enforcer, or some badass--

TALIESIN: Sheriff of Ashari?

SAM: Yeah!

LIAM: No, I'm good with this, but no, I'm not in charge or anything. I happened to be traveling already for a while. That's how I stumbled into these two.

ASHLEY: We did get to see his hometown, and it's quite lovely.

LIAM: No, but I spent time around the people in charge, and because they knew that I was traveling, they just thought that I was a good candidate.

SAM: Follow up, if I may. It seems like you want to go easy on the details, which is fine. But I'm just curious, if you don't succeed, are you worried most about disappointing someone, or disappointing yourself?

LIAM: Yeah. But I'm just, I'm going to do what I can. I'll do it while I'm traveling with these two, and maybe with you guys for a bit, if that's okay.

SAM: Well, we can help if we know what to look for.

MARISHA: In fact, I'm not sure what our next plans are.

SAM: Well, yeah.

MARISHA: Maybe we should keep that into consideration.

LIAM: Well, good old Ariks is, I think, able to introduce me to someone I'm here to find, but also, there's a lot of holes under this place. What the fuck is up with that? (laughter)

MARISHA: Literally and figuratively.

ROBBIE: Follow up question: Can I stop telling people we're on vacation? (laughter)

ASHLEY: I think we can all tell I'm not the greatest at lying, sometimes, so--

LIAM: Fearne, Dorian--

TALIESIN: I was fooled.

LIAM: Thank you. Thank you.

LAURA: (laughs) Did anybody actually believe y'all were on vacation?

ASHLEY: Probably not.

LAURA and TALIESIN: No.

MARISHA: Definitely not.

ASHLEY: No, didn't work?

LAURA: Not even close.

ASHLEY: Aw!

LIAM: Well, it's the thought that counts.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: I don't know many people that go on vacation with swords.

LIAM: Really? I know plenty. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Two more rounds, at least, we got two more rounds.

LAURA: I should say that--

SAM: Well, it's just you and me, right?

LAURA: I've been rolling and I am rolling poorly in my attempts to keep my wall up.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: So I would say I'm probably getting Open Mind at this point.

MATT: One more drink, and I think you'll cross that threshold.

SAM: Why don't y'all roll, because only me and Laudna are left to answer?

MARISHA: Correct.

SAM: Maybe y'all should just roll to see who asks.

MARISHA: Should we just roll between the two of us?

SAM: Yeah, to see who answers first. Double Rollies.

MARISHA: Double Rollies.

SAM: Three.

MARISHA: 16!

SAM: So does that mean you-- Well, you choose.

MARISHA: Well, I guess it's whatever, you know.

LAURA: I think you answer first.

TALIESIN: You answer first.

SAM: Okay, I answer first.

TALIESIN: 16.

LIAM: Oh, I got a 20. I have a question. (laughter)

SAM: Sounds legit.

TALIESIN: Yeah, that's legit.

LAURA: It was a 20. It is a 20.

LIAM: Yeah. I've traveled a decent amount. Probably not as much as some. One time I met someone sort of like you.

SAM: Really, where was that?

LIAM: Someone visited home.

SAM: Oh!

LIAM: But they were nothing like you.

SAM: Okay.

LIAM: And I'm just still kind of blown away. I don't know what I'm asking. I don't know how old you are. I don't know how you came to be. Are the people, the others that you talked about, Oatmeal and Pussy, are they-- (laughter)

TALIESIN: Shit.

LIAM: -- the only ones you ever knew?

SAM: And Apple Pie.

LIAM: And Apple Pie, sorry.

ASHLEY: Oh, and Apple Pie, that's right.

LIAM: I really like oatmeal.

LAURA: Mm.

SAM: Are they the only ones like me I ever knew?

LIAM: Yeah, or are there more, or where do you come from, and what the fuck is up with that?

SAM: Well, it ap-- it ap-- it ap--

ASHLEY: Uh-oh.

SAM: I--

TALIESIN: Stop it!

SAM: I, I...

ASHLEY: What's happening?

LIAM: (clanging)

MARISHA: Is this how he dodges questions?

SAM: No, not at all.

LIAM: Are you okay?

SAM: I just don't, I...

MARISHA: You have no memory?

ASHLEY: Do you not have access to that?

MARISHA: You don't have access?

LIAM: Access, what do you mean?

ROBBIE: I don't understand, either.

LAURA: What does it mean?

ROBBIE: Sounds right.

MARISHA: Fearne and I don't really know.

ASHLEY: I don't know what I'm saying.

MARISHA: Ashley and Marisha are just really excited.

TALIESIN: Okay, okay, I can pick this up.

SAM: D-Dancer, Dancer, Dance-Dancer created me.

LIAM: I asked too much. Do you know how old you are?

SAM: I was with Dancer for almost two years. So two.

LAURA: All right.

LIAM: Okay.

ASHLEY: You're two?

SAM: Well, yeah, but you know, I don't age like y'all, so.

ROBBIE: Careful, she loves babies.

TALIESIN: I can addendum into this.

SAM: She loves babies?

ASHLEY: Can I just? Come here. (laughter)

SAM: If it makes you feel good, then yes, of course.

LAURA: You hear sloshing. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I can hear the water, the drink in there.

ROBBIE: I have a question. Can I avsk a question?

SAM: Can you avks a question?

ROBBIE: I'm sorry, can I ask a question?

LIAM: Can I get another round for my friend here, please?

TALIESIN: We got the bottle, there you go.

SAM: Yes, mi'lord.

ROBBIE: That was funny. Oh, I have to ask you a question first. Does he ever, brr, does he power down ever?

TALIESIN: Yeah, they do the sleep mode, sleep mode!

SAM: I go into a stasis state.

ROBBIE: When you're in sleep mode, do you do dream?

TALIESIN: Ooh!

ASHLEY: Good question!

ROBBIE: Thank you.

TALIESIN: Whoa!

SAM: Boy, oh boy, that is a great question.

TALIESIN: Wow!

LIAM: Is it sheep?

TALIESIN: Is it Oatmeal?

SAM: You know what, I don't think I've ever dreamed yet, but then again, maybe I have and I just don't know what it's like. Dreaming is, I've heard, y'all soul-touched folks talk about it, it's like memories and stuff that you have at night, right?

LIAM: Sometimes.

LAURA: Sometimes, or it could just be--

SAM: Or imaginations?

ASHLEY: But sometimes it doesn't make sense.

TALIESIN: Mostly it doesn't make sense.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: I don't see any reason why I would have one, but I don't see any reason why I would not. I just haven't yet. I don't think.

ASHLEY: Do you ever wake up and sometimes you're just in such a bad awful mood and you don't know why?

SAM: (laughs) No. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Sometimes that can be a dream and you're just thrown off all day. I thought maybe--

SAM: No, why would you start the day with a sourpuss?

ASHLEY: It's a good question.

TALIESIN: Maybe you should intentionally shoot for it. Like sometimes, before you go into stasis, just--

SAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: Have an intention.

SAM: An intention, like something to think about, or?

TALIESIN: "I'm going to have a dream. I'm going to dream about," I don't know, something, whatever the fuck you like.

SAM: All right. This is a great goal.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: I can do that tonight.

TALIESIN: I think it's a great idea.

ROBBIE: If you have a dream, let us know.

LAURA: Yeah!

SAM: You okay?

ROBBIE: I'm fine. (laughter)

LIAM: I'm going to surreptitiously finish Dorian's drink when he's not looking. So he has less.

MARISHA: Also, this whole time, I've been gathering scrap chicken bones, and I've been-- and other leftovers, and I've been under the table, just spinning some of my twine.

MATT: Terrifying. Great, all right.

TALIESIN: All right.

SAM: Little Blair Witch doll? Sort of thing?

LIAM: Who gets to ask the last question?

MARISHA: It's not finished.

LIAM: Are those teeth?

LAURA: Rollies.

TALIESIN and SAM: Rollies.

TALIESIN: Who gets to ask the last one? Boo.

LIAM: Dang.

ASHLEY: Cocked.

LAURA: Hmm!

ROBBIE: 11.

LIAM: Seven.

TALIESIN: Two.

LAURA: 17.

ASHLEY: 13.

SAM: You go.

MARISHA: Did you roll?

SAM: Oh wait, but she knows you already, I rolled a 19.

LAURA: Oh!

TALIESIN: Do it!

LAURA: Yeah, you probably got a good one.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

SAM: Ooh, there's really, I don't know much about you, Laudna, at all.

MARISHA: You don't.

SAM: You're from a place called Whitestone, that's kind of all I know.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

SAM: Boy, boy, what do we ask? I need to huddle up with everybody else for a second here.

TALIESIN: No, no, no, we can give suggestions.

SAM: What's good here? It's a deep well.

TALIESIN: Has she always been that way, or did some shit happen, is a good one.

SAM: I don't want to probe into her physical--

TALIESIN: Literally what we're here-- I mean, we just probed into yours, I wouldn't've--

SAM: But I'm okay with that.

TALIESIN: I'm well aware of what I've got going on.

MARISHA: You can ask me anything.

SAM: All right.

MARISHA: I'm not too shy.

SAM: Are you dead? What the fuck is up with that? (laughter) (laughter)

MARISHA: Um! You know. I'm not entirely sure. I think so.

SAM: You think you're dead?!

MARISHA: I think I'm some cross, in between life and death. Not--

LIAM: What.

TALIESIN: Elaborate.

MARISHA: -- not totally alive, but not totally dead.

TALIESIN: But what happened?

MARISHA: Well, I definitely died!

SAM: Wait. Okay?

MARISHA: Then I just--

SAM: How did that happen? Well, okay, you just tell your story.

MARISHA: I died, and then I woke up. I woke up, and I was surrounded by a lot of other corpses, and all of Whitestone was in a complete panic, run amok. Just death and disease and nightmare everywhere, and I didn't know what happened, so I ran. But yeah, I haven't really aged.

SAM: How long ago was that?

MARISHA: 30 years.

SAM: 30 years?!

TALIESIN: Whoa!

ROBBIE: So you were this age when you died?

TALIESIN: You look great!

SAM: How old were you when you passed away?

MARISHA: 20.

SAM: Do you happen to know how long you were dead for?

MARISHA: I don't think long. 48 hours, couple of days.

TALIESIN: (whistles)

SAM: So you're 50?

MARISHA: I'm 50.

TALIESIN: Holy shit!

LAURA: She can kick! (laughter)

LIAM: And stretch! (laughter)

SAM: And kick!

MARISHA: I'm 50!

ASHLEY: Do you remember anything about your previous life?

MARISHA: Oh, yes. I remember all of it.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MARISHA: Absolutely.

LIAM: You're not just an elf or--

MARISHA: No, I was a human.

LIAM: How can you be dead?

SAM: And who brought you back and how?

TALIESIN: Shit happens. It's a weird fucking world.

SAM: You said you died and then you woke up. There was an in between there?

MARISHA: Yes! Yes, I always had innate magical capabilities when I was a young girl. So I don't know, I think whatever happened in Whitestone on that night, I think I got hit with some sort of necromantic magic. It was like a blast, it just, I don't know, just kind of hit me. And then I was alive. But here, look! I'm going to grab-- Can you feel things?

SAM: Yeah, sure.

MARISHA: Hm. You feel a heartbeat every 20 seconds.

SAM: Oh, you're very athletic.

MARISHA: Yes. (laughter)

SAM: So your heart does beat.

MARISHA: It does, just very slowly.

SAM: You have hopes, you have fears.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

SAM: You have loves.

MARISHA: Of course.

SAM: Sounds like you're alive to me.

LIAM: When you died, was everything at home good before everything went bad, or were things bad?

MARISHA: It was complicated. We were simple farmers on the outskirts of town, lived a very humble life, didn't have a lot of money. As such, my parents were a bit naive. They weren't really connected to the goings-on in the political specter of Whitestone. I think we just walked into a bit of a trap. They were wanting to give me a better life, and they knew that their daughter, magical capabilities could maybe go forth and become something more. Unfortunately, the stewards of Whitestone at the time had different opinions.

TALIESIN: Did your parents know what happened to you?

MARISHA: They're dead.

TALIESIN: Any family left?

MARISHA: I don't think so.

TALIESIN: All right.

LIAM: I'm very sorry.

SAM: These people in Whitestone, the stewards, you said.

MARISHA: Yes.

SAM: They killed you?

MARISHA: Mm-hmm, the Briarwoods.

SAM: The Briarwoods.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm!

SAM: We should find them and--

MARISHA: Oh, they're gone! They're long dead, too.

SAM: Oh.

MARISHA: (laughs) One of them kind of pops in my head, though, every now and then.

SAM: What's that mean, what?

LIAM: Say that again?

TALIESIN: What?

MARISHA: Well, voices in my head.

SAM: Oh, kind of like Imogen?

MARISHA: Mm-hmm! Different.

LAURA: Kind of.

MARISHA: I think it's why we bonded so quickly, and I think just whatever magical bond we have, just works.

ROBBIE: Two years together. What were you doing for the previous 28?

MARISHA: Just running from town to town. I would go and I would find the little shacks in the woods that were abandoned and then I would fix them up. Then, inevitably, the town would be like, "Oh, there's a witch in the woods, oh, kill her! Lorelei, bleh!" Then some cleric would come or holy person would come and be like, "Gah! Death to the undead witch! Mah!" And then I would run, and I would do that again and again and again.

SAM: Wow.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm!

SAM: That would make a cool TV show. (laughter)

MARISHA: Very repetitive. It was very much a little cabin fixer-upper type lifestyle.

SAM: But you're okay now being dead? It doesn't cause you sadness anymore?

LIAM: This is wildest conversation, I swear.

TALIESIN: Yeah, no, this game always ends well.

SAM: Wow.

MARISHA: I think I've just gotten used to it, you know? I've been surrounded by death for quite some time now, so. Mm-mm! (Like "I don't know")

SAM: Wow.

TALIESIN: That's fucking great. That was a great fucking story.

SAM: That was a great game.

MARISHA: Did I do it right?

TALIESIN: Oh, killer, killer.

ASHLEY: That was so good!

SAM: Thank you, Ashton, for that amazing idea. Wow.

TALIESIN: Fuck, that's the end of that one.

SAM: Now what do we do?

TALIESIN: I think now we sleep this off and see how we feel in the morning. Is everyone okay after that last one? Does anyone feel like they want to get into more trouble? I don't think I'm up to getting into more trouble.

ASHLEY: Well, would you play us a song, my lord?

ROBBIE: Hmm, uh.

LAURA: Oh, Prince Dorian, please play us a beautiful song. I can't wait to hear it.

ROBBIE: Do not like that nickname.

SAM: Do you know "Jordan, Fetch My Whiskey," by any chance?

ROBBIE: "Jordan, Fetch My Whiskey"?

ASHLEY: It's a classic.

ROBBIE: Is that a joke? He's Jordan, right? No? Never mind. I'm going to tune my lute, but I am not tuning my lute. It's boing, boing, boing, boing, woing, woing. It's really out of tune, it's very bad.

LIAM: How about something from your childhood?

ROBBIE: Oh.

SAM: Yeah, like one of your royal songs.

ROBBIE: I'll pull out the flute.

MATT: Okay.

ROBBIE: I will try to play a lovely genasi ballad.

MATT: Go for it. Go ahead and roll a performance check.

ROBBIE: Fingers crossed. ♪ It is not lovely ♪ (laughter) It's all right, it's a 13.

MARISHA: Oh!

MATT: 13's fine.

ROBBIE: Yeah, I forgot how high my modifier was.

LIAM: You're also sloshed.

ROBBIE: Yes, 13 for a sloshed character's not bad.

MATT: It's not too bad. (laughter)

MATT: Asshole.

MARISHA: Oh my god. "Jazz is chaos."

LIAM: "Dorian's Failed Performance Check." (laughter)

ROBBIE: Hurtful. All right, I'll toot my flute for whatever 13 can get me.

MATT: Well, would you like to describe the mood it carries?

ROBBIE: Yeah, it's obviously a little loose, but it's light more than anything. It's slightly dissonant. You know, if you're listening to it and you're watching the fire, you could almost be fooled to think that the sound and the rhythm is affecting the way the flame moves, and it's very peaceful. It's not quite a lullaby, but it does put your heart at ease when you hear it.

LIAM: This motherfucker.

MARISHA: That's pretty great.

LAURA: If someone were, perchance, accidentally reading your thoughts while you were playing this music, what sort of emotions would you be feeling on the inside right now?

MATT: Well, you are welcome to roll a wisdom saving throw, if you wish to resist it.

ROBBIE: Ugh. Do I feel-- that's a good-- Does one feel this when you--

MATT: It's less about them actively resisting it, and more if they're guarded--

LAURA: I'm not trying to push into your thoughts right now.

ROBBIE: It's private, but I'll roll against it since it's private.

MATT: Okay. You are pretty trashed.

ROBBIE: Okay.

MATT: So I'll say--

ROBBIE: Disadvantage?

MATT: -- disadvantage.

ROBBIE: Yeah. Not going to need it. That's a one. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Open book! Open book!

LAURA: -- whisper it to me?

ROBBIE: What?

LAURA: Do you want to whisper it to me?

MATT: Yeah, go over and whisper in her ear.

MATT: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Okay. (cheering)

ASHLEY: Inter-party whispers!

SAM: Guys.

TALIESIN: I've been sitting on this all week. It worked better than I could've hoped. Oh!

LIAM: PvP.

SAM: Guys, besides NordVPN--

MATT: Oh my god.

SAM: -- which is fantastic, Kith & Kin is available now at criticalrolebooks.com. Don't forget ghostfiregaming.com/fables-criticalrole.

LIAM: Yep.

SAM: And other things. (laughter)

SAM: All right, to bed and then we decide in the morning where we're going or should we tell where we're going now, so that Matt knows what the fuck to think about?

MATT: I'll figure it out.

SAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: Was it "Matt, Bring Me Another whiskey?" I thought it was Jordan-- Matt, fetch me whiskey.

MATT: You hear the heavy, familiar footsteps of Ishir come up to the second floor with another bottle, and be like, "Hey, going to need another?"

TALIESIN: No, I think we're going to just, rooms, room, rooms, rooms. I think we're good.

MATT: "All right, how many rooms we got? Seven separate rooms?"

LAURA: Oh, we can--

MARISHA: Yeah, we're good.

TALIESIN and SAM: We'll share.

ASHLEY: Did you guys want to?

LIAM: We could do what we did on the road.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ROBBIE: (agreeable grunt)

SAM: The airship trio.

MATT: "All right, all right."

TALIESIN: Three big rooms.

MATT: "Yeah, three big rooms. If you wouldn't mind, that'll put you at-- Let's say, gold and a half."

TALIESIN: I think I--

ASHLEY: I have it, it's fine.

TALIESIN: Oh, wow, okay.

MATT: "Thank you kindly, miss."

ASHLEY: You're welcome.

MATT: "All right."

TALIESIN: I like this place.

MATT: "Sleep it off well." Heads back downstairs.

TALIESIN: See you at breakfast!

ASHLEY: May I also have the extra bottle, please?

MATT: "Oh, well, that'll run you-- we'll say about-- About five gold for the bottle."

ASHLEY: Okay, great. I'll give you 10 silver instead.

MATT: Make a persuasion check. (laughter)

MARISHA: Can I pay you in ones? (laughter)

LIAM: Eins. Zwei.

ASHLEY: Nine. (laughter)

MATT: "Yeah, no, sorry, honey, that's not how it works. I have to make a profit to keep the business running and I paid more than that for the bottle when it was supplied to me."

ASHLEY: I understand, I'm not from here, so.

MATT: "But five gold."

TALIESIN: I got this.

ASHLEY: No, no, no, that's too much.

TALIESIN: Too fucking late. Too fucking late. Five gold.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay.

MATT: "You got a good friend here in Ashton. You, I'm glad you got a friend, Ashton." Gives you the bottle.

ASHLEY: Thank you.

TALIESIN: Would've charged me less if I had asked. Just saying.

MATT: Keys are distributed. You have the three rooms at your disposal.

MARISHA: Well, before we depart, I grab Dorian. I know you are feeling just so guilty about poor Bertrand.

ROBBIE: Mm.

MARISHA: I just-- Here, I just wanted you to have this. It's a Bertrand doll--

ROBBIE: Fuck.

MARISHA: -- made with--

ROBBIE: I knew it.

MARISHA: -- chicken bones, and I took the hair that I cut off of Bertrand to make his actual hair.

LAURA: Oh no.

LIAM: True Detective, season five.

MARISHA: He's got a little cane. Maybe he'll remind him of you, when you get sad.

ROBBIE: Oh, Laudna. (laughter)

SAM: Oh, Laudna! (laughter)

ROBBIE: Oh, Laudna. (laughter) He is lovely. You are so talented.

MARISHA: Oh, just stop, stop.

ROBBIE: I will treasure tiny Bertrand forever.

MATT: As you look at it, the thing that affixes the head to it, something gives and the head just goes (crick) on its own. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Does it come with little puppeteer, like--

MARISHA: Oh, well, I could give you some string if you--

ROBBIE: That's okay, Laudna, I'd rather just look at it. I'd rather just look at it. Oh, it's so gorgeous.

MARISHA: Let me know. I could teach you some puppeteering.

ROBBIE: Thank you. Thank you so much. I'm going to try to put these greasy chicken bones in my bag or something for the time being. Thank you, thank you.

LAURA: The Feywild. That's amazing.

ASHLEY: Well, you know, it's very cool. It's a very cool place, and you know, it's home.

LAURA: How did you go from there to here?

ASHLEY: Well, I just walked.

LAURA: Wow. I didn't know that was something someone could do.

ASHLEY: Well, I guess it is.

LAURA: You got to show me how to do it. I swear, I didn't even know the Feywild was a real place. You know, people have talked about it, but I thought it was just stories.

ASHLEY: (gasps) Really?

LAURA: Yeah!

ASHLEY: We'll have to go there sometime.

LAURA: I would love that!

ASHLEY: Yeah, I would love to introduce you to my grandma, and all of my friends there, and I have such a wonderful group of people that I just love there so much.

LAURA: How long have you been on Exandria?

ASHLEY: Well, let's see. Maybe seven months?

MATT: Give or take, yeah.

ASHLEY: Seven or eight months, something around there. Not very long.

LAURA: Wow!

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LIAM: Mr. Grass? I just want to apologize. I feel like maybe I went too far.

SAM: Not at all. I'm sorry I couldn't give you a more satisfactory answer. I just don't have the information, I think.

LIAM: I felt like I might've made you uncomfortable, and that wasn't my intention to--

SAM: Not at all. I--

LIAM: I don't play a lot of drinking games.

SAM: Me neither. When everyone goes to sleep, I think I'm going to hang upside down and just drain myself, because I don't think this is good. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I think I'm still holding him. (laughter)

SAM: Could you just spin me over?

ASHLEY: -- turn you upside down?

SAM: And maybe hit my--

MATT: As soon as you finish hitting (vomits) just dribbles out. (laughter) Like a turned over gas can.

LIAM: Just hold him for a minute, and let the last of it, yep. (popping) (laughter, groaning)

MATT: Yeah, it works.

ROBBIE: Yes.

MATT: It works.

TALIESIN: Doesn't seem like it went anywhere.

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: Is there any waste, though?

ASHLEY: Waste not, want not.

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: I mean, when I eat a pie, and something happens, it goes away, but I've seen you eat a copper or two. Does it-- is there--

SAM: I was not built with a poop chute of any sort.

LIAM: So what happens to the little pieces that you eat?

SAM: Of copper?

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Or other things? They get absorbed into my body to make repairs.

LAURA: Oh wow.

LIAM: And there's nothing left over?

SAM: It's right here. It's all over me.

ASHLEY: I want to look in there so bad. (laughter)

MARISHA: You keep coming back to that.

ASHLEY: I know, it's just so interesting.

SAM: I'm not sure I like the way your eyes look right now. (laughter)

LIAM: (goat bleating)

ASHLEY: I won't hurt you, I promise.

SAM: Next time I need a significant repair, I'll let you come--

ASHLEY: I would love to help.

SAM: Yes, yes, absolutely.

ASHLEY: Okay. Thank you so much.

TALIESIN: Sleep?

ASHLEY: Yes.

SAM: Let's do it.

TALIESIN: If you've got shit to be handled in town, you should handle it with a group. I'm just saying. This is a good way to handle your shit. You should handle your shit.

MARISHA: I agree.

TALIESIN: There are people who will help you handle it. I think I've finally had too much. I'm going to sleep. All right.

LAURA: We need a group name!

TALIESIN: Good talk.

ROBBIE: Yeah, the Shit Handlers. Yeah, it's good, the Shit Handlers.

LAURA: I don't like it.

LIAM: Just before we all break for bed, really, this is when we're coming up with this?

LAURA: Shit Handlers.

TALIESIN: It feels derivative.

LIAM: Sit back down. If we're going to have this discussion, let's have it.

ASHLEY: Shit back down.

LIAM: Shit back down, and you'll hear a tale. (laughter)

SAM: We're going to choose a group name right now?

LIAM: Well--

LAURA: I think we should.

LIAM: You keep bringing it up.

LAURA: Well, I just feel like it's weird.

LIAM: Well, we just met.

LAURA: We can't make our contract.

TALIESIN: Next round.

ROBBIE: I'm so sleepy. I'm so-- Laudna, may I? Mm. Oh, you're like the cool side of a pillow.

MARISHA: You just hear my shoulder dislocate.

ROBBIE: (yelps) (laughter)

LIAM: There's just a little bit of bone piercing through. (laughter)

MATT: Right in the temple.

LAURA: I should actually be forthright. If we continue to sit here much longer, I'm going to be reading all you guys' thoughts. It might be best to--

TALIESIN: We're going to get--

LIAM: Oh, early to bed, early to rise. Night, everybody.

TALIESIN: And I'm out.

MATT: All right.

SAM: As we go to bed, I'm just going to, right before I shut down, I'm going to just think: Dream! Dream!

MATT: Aw.

LAURA: And you hear me say: I think you can do it.

SAM: I'm dreaming. (laughter)

SAM: (shutting down noise)

MATT: You all find your various rooms to rest. Laudna, as you're starting to doze off a bit, in that bit of gentle quiet, you do hear a familiar whisper. It says, "Careful, dear. Some things are meant to be kept secret."

MARISHA: Oh! Oh, hello, oh my god! It's been so long since I've heard from you! What have you been up to?

MATT: (exhales)

MARISHA: Oh, come on, D, just tell me.

MATT: "Please, just be careful."

MARISHA: (scoffs) I didn't say anything that's not, like, public knowledge. So back off. (chuckles)

MATT: (exhales) That's the end of it.

MARISHA: Good night!

LAURA: Is she talking to you?

MARISHA: Yes. She's mad because I got chatty.

LAURA: Has she ever done anything, if you get in trouble with her?

MARISHA: Like, have I gotten in trouble with her?

LAURA: Yeah, I mean, I know she's been pissy before, but has it ever come to anything?

MARISHA: I don't know. Has it ever come to anything?

MATT: It's come to tense conversations.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: And threats of denying her gift.

MARISHA: Her gifts, right.

MATT: But not yet.

SAM: Gifts.

TALIESIN: Wow, that took me that long to put it together. Fuck! (laughter)

MARISHA: She'll sometimes, you know--

TALIESIN: Fuck.

MARISHA: -- be like, ooh, I helped made you. You'd be nothing without me. I can take what I can give, blah, blah, blah. She does that sometimes, but she's never really done it. I don't know.

LAURA: We got to get into that institute.

MARISHA: I know. (sighs) If I can just keep strengthening all my skills without her--

LAURA: You won't need her.

MARISHA: I won't need her.

LAURA: If she's listening.

MARISHA: Oh, she probably is. It's an excellent point, though. I've never really strayed far from her until recently.

LAURA: Right.

MARISHA: Well. I'll keep you posted if she starts getting aggressive.

LAURA: Yeah. One of the reasons I think we need a group name. The sooner we have it, the sooner we have a contract, the sooner we can get in there. Right?

MARISHA: That's true. We'll keep thinking on it. Maybe something will inspire us in the next day or two.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: How are you doing? You looked a little pale there at the end.

LAURA: Oh, no, I was just-- I was trying really hard not to get into everybody's head, you know what I mean?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: I sneaked into Dorian's for a second.

MARISHA: What'd you see? Come on, tell me.

LAURA: Just him with his mom. It was quite nice.

MARISHA: Oh.

LAURA: Yeah, he's a sweetheart.

MARISHA: He is a sweet boy.

LAURA: Sleep well.

MARISHA: All right, you too. Wake me up if you have any other nightmares. All right?

LAURA: You know I will.

MATT: Okay. The evening comes to you. Rest, necessary physical respite, after a very arduously (laughs) damaging experience, but through the night, you get your long rest. So you can go ahead and mark that.

SAM: Oh yeah.

MATT: Uncertain if dreams found you, Fresh Cut Grass, but there is a little bit of joy in going into your familiar stasis with a goal in mind.

SAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: But nothing out of the ordinary.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: With that, eventually, the morning comes, the warmth of day begins to creep in through your various chambers, and the day is yours. As you all begin to, one by one, muster yourself, your materials, your equipment and then wander downstairs. You begin to gather again on the bottom floor of the Spire by Fire and gather once more. What would you like to do?

ASHLEY: (yawns, muttering). (laughter)

LIAM: Morning, all.

TALIESIN: Morning.

ROBBIE: Morning.

LAURA: No, but what are we doing today?

SAM: We have a few options.

LAURA: All right.

ASHLEY: (gasps)

SAM: As I see-- Oh, what?

ASHLEY: Did it happen?

MARISHA: Oh, yes, did you dream?

SAM: I don't think so. I mean, nothing out of the ordinary happened, I'm sorry.

TALIESIN: You twitched a couple times.

SAM: I did?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: That's progress.

TALIESIN: I hadn't seen it before.

ASHLEY: I feel like I heard you through the walls, saying, like, "Oh, no, no, no."

SAM: I had bad dreams? That's horrible.

ASHLEY: I'm just lying.

SAM: Oh. (laughter)

SAM: Well, that's reassuring. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I should've said like, "Oh--" something else.

MARISHA: Pathological liar Fearne. Oh my god.

MATT: I love it.

SAM: Well, we have, now that we've learned a bit about each other from last night, we know that some of us have specific goals, finding your quarry.

LIAM: I have a line. I just need to keep checking in.

SAM: We have that, that we could pursue today. We could go to the Starlight Conservatory. Is that what it's called?

LAURA: We can go there, but it's useless until we get that contract.

SAM: Okay, okay, okay. Then there's also the investigating what caused those chairs and tables to come to life? I don't know how we would--

TALIESIN: That's been bothering me for a while. That's been bothering me this whole time.

LAURA: That was right outside of here.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: Or tracking down the source or intended recipient of that brumestone that we stumbled upon.

MARISHA: Very curious.

SAM: Or I think-- Didn't Lord Eshteross say that they would have some more work for us, and then, possibly, did someone else offer us work, too? Am I forgetting? I feel like someone offered us work.

LAURA: Oh, yeah, we could let the--

LIAM: Hubatt Corsairs.

LAURA: Corsairs. We could let the Corsairs know that we did away with old Dooger.

TALIESIN: I like that idea.

SAM: Dugger.

LAURA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Should probably ask Lord Eshteross first.

LAURA: If that's all right?

SAM: I think we did already, didn't we?

LAURA: Hmm, I don't know.

SAM: Yeah, we talked to him and said, "Is it okay that we didn't use your name?" He said, "Only if things are cool."

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, so they might like us more, and then we could say his name, and then we could create that introduction.

SAM: What do y'all think?

LIAM: Technically, we did them a favor, too, so.

TALIESIN: We did.

SAM: Is that the most pressing matter, or is there something, should we investigate, pull the thread of your person that you're here to find?

LIAM: Well, that lies with Lord Eshteross.

SAM: Oh, it does?

LIAM: Yeah.

SAM: Okay.

LAURA: All things lie with Lord Eshteross.

SAM: I guess we go there?

MARISHA: Do you think he's had any developments in the past 24 hours?

ASHLEY: You gave him the goop, right?

LAURA: I did.

TALIESIN: We did. The goop was given.

MATT: It was given in the evening of last night. So it's been maybe 12 hours.

TALIESIN: I say we tell the Corsairs what happened, and then see if it's time to-- if that seems to-- that way, at least, we're cementing a relationship.

LIAM: Yeah, and we just saw Eshteross last night. It seems a little--

ROBBIE: Do we remember the good password? Wasn't there a good one/bad one?

LAURA: It's "come to loosen the share." The snare.

ASHLEY: We've come to loosen the snare.

LAURA: The share. (laugh) The snave, the shane, is I think what it looks like what I wrote.

ASHLEY: It's the snave.

LAURA: Yeah. Snare.

SAM: So to the Corsairs, then?

LAURA: Yes, let's do it. Back over the bridge and down, because we like to go--

SAM: To the Lantern Spire?

LAURA: We love going back and forth between that, so.

MATT: Yeah, you do. You guys keep jumping back and forth. Well-tread territory. Thankfully, the two areas that have an actual, physical bridge that you don't have to pay to get across each way, so that helps, too. Okay, gathering your things, finishing a modest breakfast, you head over towards to the Fatewalk Bridge across to the Lantern Spire, and then, following the familiar path that Ashton leads ahead of you, once again, you head to the Elder Post tunnel system beneath, into the early morning air of the bazaar, in which case, it is much quieter. You can see a lot of the bustle you saw when you initially approached is still in a closed-down state and a lot of the spaces are empty. A lot of the carts have been pulled away and you have no idea where they've gone. It seems like it would be too much for everyone to remove and then reset up every single day, but you've also seen some people quickly disassemble and condense their shopping experience into a very compact and very rapidly escaping mechanism. But as you head into the space, the low oil lanterns still glowing about, there is still a handful of individuals, a few dozen that are wandering around the outskirts of what is now currently the central open space with a handful of smaller structures that are either still shuddered or in the process of being set up for the day.

TALIESIN: Is the baker around, out of curiosity?

MATT: You can certainly check around. Go ahead and make a perception, either a perception check or a charisma check to ask around.

TALIESIN: Perception check.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Charisma's a thing. Nope, I got a one.

MATT: Oh, buddy. (laughs)

TALIESIN: Had a drink this morning.

MATT: Looking around, you do not have any sight on the Shadow Baker, and there's probably a good chance that either he has not arrived yet, or is not wanting to be found.

TALIESIN: All right.

LIAM: As we finish this last bit of the stretch of the journey-- Hey, I want to role play with you for a second.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Orym walks alongside Imogen, and when he thinks that most of the group are not paying attention, he looks up at her and says: Imogen?

LAURA: Yeah?

LIAM: That thing that you do, you know, that thing that you do.

LAURA: Yeah?

LIAM: Are you doing that to us? Like all the time?

LAURA: No, I'm really not, I swear.

LIAM: Or a little bit?

LAURA: No, I'm trying not to. I don't want to.

LIAM: Okay. Is there anything that we can do to make that--

LAURA: Easier?

LIAM: Easier on you.

LAURA: Yeah, don't think.

LIAM: Other than 50 feet away. Don't think?

LAURA: Don't think ever. No, I swear, it's-- you know, I've worked a long time at blocking it out. It just sometimes gets a little harder. It's easier if there's less people. This size of a group is something.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: But-- You know what I've noticed since I've been around y'all? Which is really interesting. Like, all the time, it almost sounds like a-- like a swarm of bees, you know?

LIAM: We are a swarm of bees?

LAURA: No, no, no. Everyone, everything is just so much. But-- and it's the same sort of feeling that I had with Laudna the first time I met her. It was there, she was there, but she was almost like a different a different pitch than everybody else. It was musical, it wasn't painful like everybody else.

LIAM: And you're getting that with us?

LAURA: It's not quite there, but I'm getting used to the sounds, so it doesn't feel as intrusive.

LIAM: That's a good sign.

LAURA: That's a great sign. Something I've never experienced before.

LIAM: Okay. Well, I like you. I'm not too worried about it, but I just wanted to know if there was anything...

LAURA: To be done?

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: I think if you wear, like, a metal hat, that'll help a lot.

LIAM: What does that do? What the fuck is up with that?

LAURA: I don't know. (laughter)

LAURA: I think it blocks out the signal or something, like a lead hat. Let's give it a try.

LIAM: Are you fucking with me?

LAURA: No, of course not.

LIAM: Insight check. (laughter)

LIAM: Oh, that's okay. It's just a 13.

LAURA: Oh, I'm fucking with you.

LIAM: Ah.

LAURA: (laughs)

MARISHA: [Inaudible] helmets for all.

LAURA: You know what? It might work.

LIAM: Maybe Fresh Cut Grass could help.

MATT: That's the group name, The Neatos.

ALL: The Neatos!

LIAM: All right, thank you for role playing with me.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: So glancing around, no sign of the Shadow Baker. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Formal.

TALIESIN: Would you care to role play?

ROBBIE: Oh, yes, I would.

TALIESIN: Ah!

ROBBIE: Sounds delightful.

ASHLEY: She also got me a really cool pouch.

LIAM: That's why I did-- I wanted to say. I knew you were giving her a gift, and I didn't want to interrupt--

ASHLEY: Has a bunch of ferns on it.

LIAM: -- but then I wanted to talk to you.

LAURA: I was like, "It's Fearne's pouch!" This is so stupid.

MARISHA: So cute!

MATT: Hey, it works. Unless you have any other business, the Root Trader is findable without issue. But is there anything else you wish to do while you're here?

TALIESIN: Nothing pressing.

LAURA: No, seems pretty good.

MATT: Heading to the Root Trader, it is currently closed. It is not yet open this time of the morning.

LAURA: Oh.

MATT: But you do, glancing through the somewhat cloudy glass windows, you do see some movement inside.

SAM: Oh.

LAURA: (knocking)

MATT: There's a quiet pause. One of the curtains pulls aside, and on the other side, you can see Heron, the feathered individual that led you into the interior, glancing past with his wide bird eye, like--

LAURA: We've come to loosen the snare.

MATT: (groans) "It's so early." He goes and opens the door. "Come on, come on, come on, fine, fine, fine." Lets you inside. You don't even see Ovalia there yet. Heron's taking care of the interior. Hurries across, leads you into the same upwards spiral and opens into the same hatch chamber. This area is nowhere near as crowded as it was last time. You can see maybe six individuals in this room, and now that you have a better look within and less tension, Heron holds the lantern forth, you can see there's some cots in the corner. This is definitely just a resting hangout space, like a safe house. You can see there's stacks of bunk beds and a few cots. You can see there's some storage crates. You can see there's a number of chairs. You can see there's bundles of general goods in storage. At just a quick glance with the light around, and you see as Heron says, "Come loosen this snare, in." (laughter) Tells you all to get up there, and then, closes the latch behind him. He's not even staying behind this time. He's just letting you guys in. As it closes, one of the figures, the familiar hooded figure sitting in the back, arms crossed, glances over and looks at all of you. He goes over and shakes awake somebody who's snoring loudly on one of the nearby nicer, larger situations of bedding. Quickly (gasps) pulls up with a knife towards the hooded figure, leans back, gives a nudge and a nod over in your direction. You can see it's Yash. Yash is rubbing his eyes a bit. "I'm terribly sorry. Don't do that again. It could've gone a lot worse." Puts the blade away. "Give me just a second. It's a bit early." He gets up.

MARISHA: Apparently, he knows us.

MATT: Stretches.

TALIESIN: Dreams, that's what'll do that to you.

MATT: Starts stretching, touching his toes a bit.

ASHLEY: I'll join in. That's actually a good idea.

SAM: Do some calisthenics.

MATT: "Yeah, see? Not a bad idea to do. All right, if you want to stretch with me, you're welcome to. I'm not going to stop you." (groans) Takes a water skin--

SAM: Starts going, zoom, zoom, zoom. Just around and around and around. (laughter)

MATT: Pours some water out of a water skin into a bowl, splashing his face a bit. Goes and pulls out this small glass vial.

ASHLEY: Would you like some coffee?

MATT: Puts some moisturizer on his face.

LAURA: Oh wow.

MATT: There's a whole morning routine that he's going through.

ASHLEY: Get it!

LAURA: I didn't realize we'd be walking into your actual bedroom, I'm very sorry.

MATT: "Oh, this is not my actual bedroom. I keep my supplies with me no matter where I am traveling, because you never know where you might be, and nothing's worse than being in unfamiliar and less comfortable situations without your moisturizer."

LIAM: How is Yash's skin generally?

MATT: Oh, it's glowing. (laughter)

ASHLEY: He's got the routine.

MATT: Even in this low light, it's just a beautiful warm shade. It's smooth, pores are kept well.

LIAM: Can't see them. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Would you like some coffee or something?

MATT: "If you are making coffee, but of course, please!"

ASHLEY: Well, is there someone I can ask? (laughter)

MATT: "Could you make us some coffee?" And the hooded figure looks back--

ASHLEY: And probably enough for all of us would be great.

MATT: Walks over and starts setting up. (laughter)

MATT: You can see there's a little iron stove in the corner with a tube that looks like it exits, or it's built into and exits out of the chamber from above. He sets a small fire and begins boiling some water. So Yash turns (yawning), grabs a chair, scoots it around and sits on it with it facing the opposite direction, leaning over it. "All right, so you're back so soon? You're not dead. So I assume that Dugger has not quite done to you what he did to your friend, which is good."

MARISHA: He's dead.

TALIESIN: Dugger's dead.

LAURA: We've done the Dugger.

MATT: "Really?"

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "Well, very well done. That is-- I'm not going to say that I didn't expect a different outcome, but congratulations."

TALIESIN: We're shocked as anybody, believe me. The brumestone, on the other hand, was not found.

MATT: "I have no idea what Dugger was doing with brumestone, personally."

TALIESIN: It seems like a dangerous thing to have running around the city, that's all.

MATT: "It's dangerous, but it's also worth a lot of money on black markets for people who want to, you know, depending on what its uses are. That is a very controlled element. I assume that it's probably looked for, sought after, is the Common phrase for it, by probably arcanists and engineers. You know, it has a lot of uses, I don't often hear people clamoring for it, because to try and usher it away from the Alsfarin Union and any of the other individuals that control sources of it, is a very, very dangerous thing."

TALIESIN: He was fucking crazy.

LAURA: You said he was going back and forth between this and the Smolder Spire?

MATT: "The handful of times that he was traveling beyond his house, yes."

LAURA: I wonder if that's a lead for where to?

SAM: Did you know where?

MATT: "I'd have to ask around. I wasn't paying particular attention to him. We just kept an eye on him, but I can certainly inquire."

TALIESIN: The weird thing I keep thinking about is I thought at first that he just wanted the brumestone for some fucking crazy-eyed reason, was doing some sort of crazy fucking shit, because he was all fucked up. But since it wasn't there--

MARISHA: It makes me so happy.

TALIESIN: -- what was he doing with all that fucking money?

LAURA: Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad! (laughter)

TALIESIN: Glad you're fucking watching. (laughter)

SAM: He had a bunch of money?

TALIESIN: I mean, if he was getting rid of it, he must've been getting something out of it. If he was getting something out of it, why? Because clearly he wasn't spending that money. That place was a shithole.

MARISHA: Well, that place also seemed to be a cover for where he was actually--

TALIESIN: So is there a place that isn't a shithole, or is there--?

MARISHA: It seems like he's living underground.

LIAM: He seemed very comfortable in shitholes, I don't think--

MATT: "You think he's working for someone else? Do you think? No, see, we were looking for that. We were thinking if he leaves us and then goes ahead and joins the Syndicate, then we have to fucking take him out. But no, things didn't seem that way. But do you think-- is he doing this for the Syndicate?"

LAURA: No idea.

MARISHA: He barely seemed human anymore.

LAURA: Yeah, oh my gosh! When he came out, when we saw him, he was a lump of jelly.

LIAM: He was like a dollop of honey falling out of a hole.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

ASHLEY: Yeah, he was in a hole and he was working his way through it.

LAURA: Yeah. And then he came out and all of a sudden he was him again. I know, I know what that sounds like.

TALIESIN: Like a honey dispenser.

LAURA: But it's the truth. God, that is what--

ROBBIE: I think what we're saying is whatever we witnessed went beyond the normal realm of petty crime and smuggling. It was something deeper, something worse.

MATT: "That is certainly-- (chuckles). That's the stuff of nightmares, what you're saying there. I'm going to scrub my brain from that mental image. And I'm sorry you had to see that."

TALIESIN: Does it connect to the dancing furniture?

ASHLEY: Oh.

TALIESIN: I'm sorry, I just have to keep mentioning that, because it's still fucking--

MATT: "What dancing furniture now?"

TALIESIN: We got attacked by a dining set. There was a carpet and a table.

LIAM: Carpet and furniture exploded in a public square?

MATT: "All right, great, good for you."

TALIESIN: Just throwing that out there, I don't know. It's been a weird week.

LIAM: Well, we've done a bit of a favor for you, whether you asked for it or not. I think one thing we're hoping for here is that we're in a little bit better standing?

MATT: "Yeah, no, we'll stop following you, we're good."

LAURA: Thanks.

SAM: You were following us?

MATT: "Of course."

SAM: Did you all notice?

TALIESIN: I figured, but I didn't notice.

SAM: Wow, that's cool.

MATT: "And you have been very honest. You have corroborated upfront exactly where we saw you go."

MARISHA: Are we easy to follow?

MATT: "Extremely."

MARISHA: Oh!

MATT: "You do not cut a low profile at all."

MARISHA: Oh my goodness!

SAM: We'll work on that.

MARISHA: We should.

LIAM: We barely even try.

LAURA: Yeah, that's true.

MATT: "Yeah, we lost track at certain points, so when you put your mind to it, you can disappear, but you do not put your mind to it often."

MARISHA: That is true, yes.

LAURA: Our collateral?

MATT: "Nothing will come of your collateral, unless you do something to fuck us over."

LAURA: All right, that's what I figured.

MATT: "I have no interest in hunting down fathers. (laughs) Unless you fuck us over. But until then, do not worry about it. If we're friendly, we're friendly. It is perfectly okay."

LIAM: Yeah, rather than be at odds.

MATT: "Precisely."

LIAM: I think we'd rather work in concert.

MATT: "Well, to be honest, there's a lot of factions that work in this city that have a lot more power and influence and are far more dangerous than whatever we do. So people not affiliated with them, that we can stay friendly with, that works in our favor as much as it does yours."

ROBBIE: Do you have a relationship with Lord Eshteross?

MATT: "No, we have not had the pleasure of speaking with the--"

TALIESIN: Yeah!

MATT: "-- the inheritor of the Prudaj estate."

MARISHA: But you know who he is.

MATT: "It's hard not to know of him. I mean, there's plenty of other rumors about that strange old coot."

MARISHA: Ooh!

ASHLEY: He's great! Actually, that's who I was talking about the last time, but I was very not specific.

LIAM: Yeah, he knows about you.

MATT: "He's hard pressed to not know about us, we leave a bit of a trail."

MARISHA: What type of rumors?

MATT: "There was some people that say, perhaps." (laughter)

MATT: "Some folks, at least, have a reason to believe that maybe he actually killed his previous employer, Prudaj."

LAURA: Yeah, that's what our landlady was thinking, too. I feel like she had the inclination.

MARISHA: That's right, that's right, she did mention.

MATT: "Others believe that the reason nobody ever sees him is because he hides a dark secret. He never leaves, he never goes into the public eye. He stays in his house and just sends out other sentinels, and mercenaries, and hired hands to do his bidding, to do his work."

TALIESIN: That's us, yeah.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "Oh, so you are one of these contracted individuals?"

TALIESIN: I work for a lot of people.

SAM: We don't have a contract presently, but we've met the gentlemen.

LAURA: No, we don't. We're trying to come up with a group name.

MARISHA: Yes!

ASHLEY: Do you have any suggestions?

MATT: "None that you would enjoy."

MARISHA: Okay, well, a little exercise. What is the first word that pops into your head when you look at us?

TALIESIN: Nope, nope.

LAURA: Oh, that's a good one.

MATT: "Trouble." (gasping)

MATT: "But!"

MARISHA: Maybe we can work with that!

LAURA: What if we just The Trouble? The Troubles? The Trouble Clefs?

TALIESIN: The Trouble Finders?

SAM: That's a good a capella group!

ROBBIE: I like that a lot!

MARISHA: That's sounds like every glee club name.

MATT: "Please do not do that. I would be embarrassed by association." (laughter) "Some other people think maybe he's a vampire or some sort of creature that absconds from the light, because he stays away from it."

LAURA: I wonder if he is a vampire? You know, we never--

MARISHA: He could be!

ROBBIE: Would you be able to sense that?

SAM: Oh, yeah, what's your take?

LAURA: What do you think?

SAM: What the fuck is up with that?

MATT: "I think he's just a creepy, lonely old man with a lot of money, but who knows? Except for, unless you do, because you work for him, which by the way, what can you spill?"

MATT: Seems to have a better opinion of you than you do of him.

MARISHA: He seemed nice.

MATT: "I don't have a negative opinion. I'm just curious."

TALIESIN: Paranoid.

ASHLEY: I know something about him that you probably don't know.

MATT: "Do tell, strange horned lady."

ASHLEY: Can you give me something for it?

MATT: Make a persuasion check. (laughter)

SAM: Guidance! No.

LAURA: No!

ALL: Aw!

ASHLEY: I rolled a two.

MATT: Oh. (laughs) You guys can't roll! Spent it all on Rollies.

ASHLEY: All I was going to say was--

LIAM: Spending high rolls on Rollies. (laughter)

ASHLEY: A-Rollies! That wasn't it. (laughter) I can't do impressions. Hey, this is my Christopher Walken! (laughter)

MATT: Oh no!

ASHLEY: Rollies!

LIAM: Oh boy.

MARISHA: What do you actually sound like, though?

MATT: That's your backup character right there. (laughter)

ASHLEY: He is an amazing baker is what I was going to say.

MATT: "Really?"

ASHLEY: Yes.

TALIESIN: We actually can confirm that.

MATT: "We have to have some sort of competition with our very own Shadow Baker, Ephred, there one day."

ALL: Ooh!

LAURA: Oh, I never ate that damned thing he gave me!

SAM: The purple?

LAURA: I paid for it.

SAM: The purple pastry?

LAURA: Do you think it's stale by now?

TALIESIN: Yes.

MARISHA: It's probably fine.

LAURA: I reach in my bag.

MATT: It's a little stale.

LAURA: Fuck!

LIAM: That was quick.

LAURA: It's not wrapped in plastic or anything.

LIAM: Let me see it.

TALIESIN: If we see the--

LAURA: You want to try it?

TALIESIN: If we see the Shadow Baker again, then we'll get some more.

MATT: It's still tasty, it's just a little harder.

LIAM: That's fine.

LAURA: I'll take a bite.

LIAM: You can have it, Orym.

TALIESIN: Fuck me, goddamn it.

LIAM: It's half the size of my head.

MATT: "But good to know that! He's an unexpected purveyor of baked goods. That is interesting information, thank you."

LAURA: Oh, did you give something valuable away?

ASHLEY: I just, I told him that he is an excellent baker, so I gave him some pretty great information.

LAURA: Anyway, if you'd like us to set up a meeting or something, just let us know.

MATT: "Is he interested in meeting?"

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

MATT: "Why does a strange recluse like him have any business with us for?"

LAURA: He certainly wouldn't tell us.

SAM: I think he-- I get the impression that he wants to do good in this city and he thinks that you also do.

MATT: "You think anyone who lives a life of inherited money wants to do good? Well."

SAM: I don't know, Dorian? (laughter)

ROBBIE: Wow, short guy, low blows. (laughter)

MATT: You see the hooded figure in the back cross his arms, leans against the wall, staring right in your direction, Dorian.

ROBBIE: Not everyone with money is bad, just some.

MATT: "Many."

TALIESIN: Possibly this one.

ROBBIE: Hmm. I do believe he does want to do good, but that's just my belief. I could be wrong.

MARISHA: I look at the guy in the back who's eyeing up Dorian. Is he being-- Is he like targeting him? Is he taking note?

MATT: Make a perception check.

ROBBIE: Didn't even clock that.

MARISHA: What is that, 11? 15.

SAM: Don't fuck me, Gil.

MARISHA: Don't fuck me, Gil. 15 total.

MATT: 15?

LAURA: Ooh!

SAM: Whispers. There's lots of whispers. Our friends at Ghostfire Gaming-- (laughter)

SAM: -- have a new episodic subscription service called Fables.

LIAM: Wow, I feel like I just tuned into NPR. (laughter)

SAM: And don't forget that NordVPN is the easiest way to hide your IP and physical location. And... also sticky notes.

MARISHA: I just look at him. I don't know if he-- I cross in front of his vision and just my eyes go black and I just crack my head a little bit and I do Unsettling Presence to him.

LAURA: (gasps)

ROBBIE: Jeez!

MATT: Okay!

TALIESIN: I'm so in for it.

MATT: The figure, you can see in their full body leather and studded leather armor, the light gray cloak and hood.

MARISHA: I just go--

MATT: He just rushes off to the other corner of the room and just sits down and watches quietly from a distance, almost seems to-- The somewhat broad, intimidating form that they cut within the chamber is diminished into a child in timeout. "Well, I am not against having a conversation with your wealthy patron. We just have to have some assurances. Understand that the person you speak of naturally is a little more aligned with those that we consistently work against."

TALIESIN: Abso-fucking-lutely.

MATT: You see now, the jovial nature of Yash begins to become a little more of a cutting intensity. "Money and influence in this city is a commodity that is passed around by a very small number of faceless members of the Quorum. We continuously, continuously want to find out who they are and expose them. And if it means taking every copper, silver, or gold to their name until they are forced to expose themselves to the public, we'll do it. So if your friend, this Lord Eshteross, is keeping anything or anyone hidden that is in our sights, we will not hesitate to remove him from the equation. But if you trust him, and he seems genuinely interested, and is willing to meet on our terms, I'll think about it."

LIAM: We do, in fact.

TALIESIN: I trust your terms more than I trust him, but I figured you know how to take care of yourself.

LIAM: You've got a direct line to him through us. What assurances do you need?

TALIESIN: If we smell anything, we'll tell you.

MATT: "Let me talk with my compatriots. I am but one of many, and I feel it would be untoward to my trusted associates to make a decision on this without their opinions placed against it. So you're all staying in the Spire By Fire, yes?"

TALIESIN: At the moment.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "Amongst other places."

TALIESIN: Amongst other places.

LIAM: It's a good place to start.

MATT: "Well, we'll find you when we have come to an accord, and are ready, if at all, to have such a conversation with your Lord."

ASHLEY: How does one become a part of this club?

MATT: "The club? (laughs)"

ASHLEY: Organization?

MATT: "No, no, I like it, I like it, we'll call it a club. If you wish to join this club, you have to do some illegal things. You have to go through some trials of trustbuilding. You have to put your neck on the line for our interests and values and show that you are willing to give everything for what we are willing to give everything for. And you would either wind up arrested and at the mercy of the Quorum, with no information to incriminate any of us, or show that you have some skill. Show that you have the means of completing the things you promised, and be willing to give what is at your disposal to share amongst the rest of us, to share amongst the rest of them," and he gestures to the greater city around.

ASHLEY: Oh, well, that's where I draw the line. I don't like sharing.

MATT: "Well, then, perhaps this is not meant to be a business element here. But we believe in those who are capable, work for the greater sum to share amongst those that are not."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "And those that have far too much and have not earned it with capability, we'll share it for them."

ASHLEY: That sounds like a good way to run a club. (laughter)

MATT: "Come talk to me when you're ready to join the club."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "You'll never be ready to join the club, but if you do, let me know."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "I am going to have some coffee. Hey!" (snaps) Points over to the hooded figure in the corner, who's like (sighs)

MATT: Goes and begins to pour some coffee. "Anyone else? You said you were wanting some?"

LAURA: I think we'll probably go.

TALIESIN: All right.

SAM: There's nothing pressing here, right?

LAURA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I mean, I'll just take a little to go in my cup?

MATT: "Sure."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: Goes ahead and--

SAM: If you want, you can pour it inside my body--

LIAM: My body.

SAM: -- and I'll just have it like a thermos for later.

LAURA: Can you keep it at a good temperature?

SAM: I think I might be able to. (laughter)

ROBBIE: It sounds right.

ASHLEY: It's like a liquid cooling system type of a situation.

TALIESIN: Liquid heating system.

MATT: I'm all for Sam, for Fresh Cut Grass, being Fearne's thermos for the rest of the campaign.

SAM: If you want, we can try it.

SAM: There's a single rod of plutonium inside.

ASHLEY: Let's give it a try.

SAM: Okay.

MARISHA: We can use him to smuggle shit.

SAM: Just pour some coffee.

LAURA: Did it make you feel uncomfortable, any of that stuff inside of you before?

SAM: Nope, nothing.

MATT: Okay, he takes this filtered bit of cloth and puts the grinds on it and pours the water over it, and, "You are nothing if not a very interesting way to start my day." Pours it through and sure enough, you hear (liquid dripping) it begin to fill up.

LIAM: ♪ The best part of waking up ♪ ♪ Is Fresh Grass in your cup ♪

MATT: "I'll save that last bit for me. You are a fascinating piece of machinery, my friend."

SAM: I agree! Well.

ASHLEY: How do you feel?

SAM: A little warmer. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Oh!

LAURA: Interesting.

ASHLEY: Is he okay?

MATT: "I don't know, are you okay?"

SAM: I think so.

MATT: "Perfect! All right. Get the fuck out."

SAM: All right.

LAURA: Thank you so much!

LIAM: Well, he said that he's not the leader, but all those other guys just hang back the whole time.

MARISHA: I know.

LIAM: He really feels like a spokesman.

MARISHA: He's in denial.

LAURA: He feels like a leader.

LIAM: He should just own it.

SAM: Well, that wasn't a strikeout, but we don't have any actionable intel.

ROBBIE: We made the connection.

SAM: I wonder what note Ashley's writing down now.

ASHLEY: "FCG is also a thermos."

SAM: Okay! (laughter) (laughter) Good to note. (laughter)

MARISHA: Trouble!

TALIESIN: I'm not against it.

MARISHA: What if we can be The Troubells?

LAURA: Oh no, Troubells?

TALIESIN: That sounds-- I'm trying to find the word. That sounds like an a capella group.

LAURA: It does.

MARISHA: It's just like the Trouble Clefs. Goddamn it.

ASHLEY: I do like that the "bell" be in it somewhere.

LAURA: I do, too! I think Bertrand got us all together, we should honor him.

ASHLEY: I do, too. I do, too.

TALIESIN: Are we back out on the street?

MATT: We'll say you guys make your path through the Root Trader, back into the Elder's Post, which is still in the process of assembling itself for the day's business. But the city is yours. (laughter)

SAM: So--

TALIESIN: Do we see a baker?

MATT: Would you like to make a perception check again?

TALIESIN: Yep, yep. Ooh, 14.

MATT: 14? You glance around a bit, and he is not present at this hour.

TALIESIN: Okay.

SAM: Well, do we go back to Eshteross now? Or is there anywhere else to check? I mean, well, we got nothing, we got no leads. The trail's gone cold.

LIAM: That's true.

MARISHA: Orym, you said the person you were looking for, they were wreaking havoc, they stole something? Are you also trying to track something?

LIAM: No, did I say that?

MARISHA: I don't know, I'm trying to fill in the gaps.

LIAM: No, I'm looking for someone else who's worked for Lord Eshteross.

SAM: Oh!

LIAM: No, excuse me, I misspoke. He knows a lot of, he hires a lot in town and knows a lot of, I don't know, what's the right word, mercenaries?

TALIESIN: That's a fine word.

SAM: So he may know this person?

LIAM: He claims to.

SAM: Oh!

LAURA: What was their name?

LIAM: Breshio.

LAURA and MARISHA: Breshio!

LAURA: Breshio or Brushell?

LIAM: Oshad.

LAURA: Rashad.

LIAM: Breshio.

SAM: Brushad?

MATT: Oshad Breshio.

MARISHA: Oshad.

SAM: Seems like an anagram.

LIAM: Apparently, also known as The Anger.

LAURA: Well, that's a--

SAM: The Anger or The Amber?

LIAM: Anger.

LAURA: That's a very specific name.

LIAM: Sure is, yep.

LAURA: Is that anything we would have heard around town?

MATT: You can roll a history check, if you want to.

TALIESIN: I'm into it.

SAM: I will, just in case.

LAURA: Yeah!

SAM: Cocked. Why does it keep--

TALIESIN: 18.

LAURA: Ooh!

MATT: 18. Yeah, you haven't been here long enough, probably, to pick up on those who've been in the vicinity. 18? Oshad Breshio doesn't catch your ear at all, but The Anger you know of. There are certain mercenaries, not unlike where Lord Eshteross seems to have claimed his past emanated from, that make a name for themselves. The Anger you know of, because whenever certain bar brawls that get very violent tend to happen, people use a phrase that's occasionally muttered by those that were around, running these establishments 20, 30 years ago, that says, "Be careful, you'll rouse The Anger." This is a mercenary that was known to shut down any sort of bullshit that happened at public establishments and anybody that began to break public property, they would be taken outside and beat within an inch of their life.

TALIESIN: I would definitely know this fucking story.

MATT: Yeah, they were a known mercenary. Goddamn it. (laughter)

LIAM: I can see it in my mind's eye.

MATT: A very talented sellsword, who was quite traveled around Exandria, but originated out of elements of Ank'Harel and the surrounding sands before eventually moving from mercenary to actually becoming a hired personal bodyguard to one of the Mahaan houses here, and thus the legend of The Anger faded from view, because they were no longer the rough and tumble, coin-seeking sellsword, and were, now, got a real job. And that was like 10 years ago.

TALIESIN: I relay this, much as Matt did, except with--

ALL: More fucks. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Shits, fucks, motherfuckers.

SAM: Many fucks given.

TALIESIN: Many fucks given.

ROBBIE: Sorry, and Orym's connection to this, that information would be new what Ashton knew, but Orym's connection to this, Fearne and I are already privy to, right?

LIAM: Yes.

MATT: Correct.

ROBBIE: Yeah, just double-checking.

TALIESIN: I don't know if that's helpful, but that's what I got.

ASHLEY: Well, I know all of that already.

LIAM: You know where to find him?

TALIESIN: I mean, how many houses are there?

MATT: Of Mahaan houses?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: Well, there are a number that work on the actual council, but there are dozens of Mahaan houses. There's like the lord families that run the city and the larger Oderan Wilds surrounding it.

TALIESIN: Somebody's got to know.

MATT: Some are scattered in other cities throughout, but the central ones here, there's a few, a couple of dozen.

TALIESIN: No one entirely disappears. Somebody's got to know, there's somebody who owns a bar somewhere, or somebody who is a last hire.

SAM: But nothing concrete to start on.

TALIESIN: It's been a decade.

LIAM: Eshteross thinks maybe he can make an introduction.

SAM: Back to Eshteross then?

LIAM: Yeah, I mean, it's the next day, but I don't really know what else to do.

ROBBIE: We can tell him we made the connection.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: That's true.

LAURA: Yeah. I mean, he'd want to know, especially if the Corsairs are going to start digging into him, because we brought his name up.

ROBBIE: Mm-hmm, smart.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: As you begin to piece together your plot to figure out your path in the city, who best to ask and who best to inquire their knowledge, experience, and perhaps direction to give you onto one of these various threads, we're going to take a break! Because we're at that time.

LIAM: Man, what a fun half!

ROBBIE: It's a mystery!

LAURA: It's mystery!

TALIESIN: Inside an enigma. Wrapped in a riddle.

MATT: Indeed. Back here in a few minutes. We'll see you guys here shortly.

Break[]

(gentle music) We don't have the strength alone. It's the truth. If we try to storm the gates again, we will be killed. By what though? How long has she been in the ditches? Just a week, she'll learn. I could help. You've never seen the gates of the sun. I have, I know what lurks there. But to explore the Astory in Acropolis beyond, it's a scholar's dream. This is no dream. It's not even a nightmare. Nightmares end, our imprisonment in the ditches is eternal. But if we can pass through the gates- Horrors unimaginable await beyond the gates. But you have magic, weapons. Together we could survive the necropolis, make it through to the surface, be free there. Free? The sun itself is forsaken Astoria. There is no freedom in the dark. And what would you be willing to sacrifice to get to the surface? Would you give your blood for it, your friends, your soul? When you stand in the court of the blood drinkers, haunted by what you've seen, well, you would be a brave hero indeed if you still thought of saving anyone but yourself. Well, I have to try. Someone has to. All of us here, you think we have not tried? Those whose bones hold up these very walls, you think they did not try? If you've given up, I will wait here for others. There must be more like me. (heart beats) I just hope they get here soon.

(gentle music)

LAURA: Hey critters, Laura Bailey here to guide you through what's new in the Critical Role shop. Glorious. Ooh, look at this. Look at the details, ooh. So comfy cozy. You need this? You probably need this. You're only like five clicks away from owning this, maybe more if you have a lot of windows open on your browser, I don't know your life. Can you put donuts in this? Only one way to find out. Style should never be a dump stat darling. And hey, if you want, you could head over to the Critical Role shop right now.

(inspirational fantasy music)

(whimsical music)

(typewriter clicking)

(whimsical music)

(uplifting piano music)

SAM: Hi critters, Sam Riegel here. There are many relaxing properties to a Twitch subscription to Critical Role, so today I'm going to tell you all about them in soothing ASMR, which stands for autonomous subscription meditative reaction or something. With a Twitch subscription you can watch our VODs immediately after the live broadcast before they're uploaded to YouTube, so you can unwind with us at your own pace. Listen, that's the sound of your blood pressure decreasing. You also get access to all of our custom emotes. And you can post links in chat. Doesn't that sound nice? (squeaks) And speaking of chat, Twitch is the only place to join our live and professionally-moderated chat while watching Critical Role. So snuggle up with some cocoa and let the calm flow through those fingers, critters. I'm whispering from really far away. And if you're an Amazon Prime member you get one free Twitch subscription to a channel of your choice through Prime Gaming, so why not use that tranquil little freebie on a Critical Role subscription? Just remember to resubscribe every month. Am I doing this right? Or, oh, sorry. Am I doing this right? You can also gift subscriptions to fellow critters. So what are you waiting for, start spreading that sweet serenity with a Twitch subscription to Critical Role. It's like a warm blanket. Oh, oh hold on, hold on. It's my proctologist, just give me a second, okay. Hello, hello. Oh hey doc, yeah, what's up? What do you mean more teeth? I thought you got rid of them all. Well no, don't tell me to relax. I'm the one with teeth up my-- (calm music) Subscribe. (calm music)

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back. So as you all begin to travel amongst the surface streets of Jrusar, what is it that you want to do?

LAURA: Well--

TALIESIN: No, no, go ahead. No, no, you go ahead. You go ahead, you had a "well," which is much more than what I had.

LAURA: Oh, I was just going to say, I feel like if we're talking mercenaries and we're trying to get more information about The Anger, then--

TALIESIN: Shake my trees, sure. Let's head to the Krook House, see who's around.

LIAM: That's really good of you.

LAURA: Well, what else are we going to do?

LIAM: Okay. Thanks.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: Following Ashton's lead, you head back to one of the-- well, it is a new path for a lot of you, but it's one of the number of familiar paths into the Fownsee Hollow to the odd interior, social oubliette of the lightless hollow itself, climbing down the levels and layers and ladders until eventually you find the familiar exterior facade of the Krook House. There at the brightly colored exterior and the door that awaits you, you enter into the chamber, the smell of burnt metal, like something that had been welded recently through arcane arc tool technology, or at least very, very heavily heated and electrically charged, that scent hits the air, but it feels like it's dissipated a bit. And at the first glance, you don't see Milo anywhere, instead--

TALIESIN: Yep, here it comes.

MATT: (laughs) You see Anni Aughta, who's currently in the process of looking through a book and has a mostly-eaten sandwich in her left hand, and then she goes like--

TALIESIN: You can read?

MATT: "You can talk?"

SAM: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Ah, good morning.

MATT: "Morning."

TALIESIN: Anni, this is everybody. Everybody, Anni. I think you've already briefly met.

MATT: "Hey, don't take anything."

ASHLEY: Why were you looking at me when you said that?

MATT: "Because you look like the kind of person that would take something."

ASHLEY: How do you know that?

MATT: "Because it takes one to know one."

LAURA: (giggles)

ASHLEY: You're adorable.

MATT: "I'm not going to say what I was going to say back. Welcome to the house, I guess."

TALIESIN: I've been running into some trouble. You haven't heard any word about, I don't know, some brumestone running around or, and this is, I know, coming even more out of the middle of nowhere--

MATT: "I genuinely have no idea what brumestone even is, so probably not." (laughter)

TALIESIN: Expensive. What was the last thing you heard about The Anger? (laughter)

ROBBIE: Wow.

SAM: Right to it.

TALIESIN: I don't fuck around.

MATT: "Like, The Anger, The Anger?"

TALIESIN: Like, The Anger, The Anger. Do you know where they ended up?

MATT: I mean--

TALIESIN: Not to imply you're that old, but.

MATT: "Well, no, like, you know, they get reputations around here, but they were before my time. That's, like, old guard."

LAURA: Do you know any old people?

TALIESIN: Effid. (laughs)

LAURA: I mean, Zhudanna's old.

MARISHA: I know, she's old and--

MATT: "No, he was-- I think he was hired by the Lumas twins."

ROBBIE: The Lumas twins?

SAM: We got a lead, we got a lead.

MARISHA: Lumas twins?

SAM: The Lunas or Lumas?

MATT: Lumas, L-U-M-A-S.

TALIESIN: What spire was that again, oh?

MATT: "Oh, that'll be the Lucent Spire. That's where all them rich fucks live, but I mean, that's getting up into the upper echelon."

TALIESIN: Oh, I may have to see what we can do about that. Fuck.

MATT: "You're not planning to go talk to them, are you?"

TALIESIN: Not personally, but--

MATT: "(laughs) Good fucking luck."

TALIESIN: We'll see. They can be very persuasive.

MATT: "Okay, yeah, no, go for it. Please, be my guest. Go ahead and talk to Mahaan Lumas. Wish you all the best luck."

LAURA: Is it hard to talk to the well-to-do families here?

TALIESIN: Yes. I mean, I don't know where you come from if you want to talk to, you know, very, very rich people out of nowhere about things.

SAM: Well, we have a rich with us.

MARISHA: We do. You all speak a similar language, right?

ROBBIE: Sort of. They tend to isolate themselves from everyone. I think the only people that rich people fear more than poor people, is other rich people.

TALIESIN: This is very, very useful.

SAM: But maybe you have some riches in common that you could bond over or something.

ROBBIE: I'd gladly try and--

MARISHA: If anything, honestly, you can just lead with saying that you are a lord and they'll probably respect you more.

TALIESIN: You do look good.

MARISHA: You do.

TALIESIN: You look, you look-- I don't even know how you maintain that level of cleanliness in here, because this is, by its very design, extremely filthy.

ROBBIE: Every night I have a-- anyway.

MATT: Anni, who's finished her sandwich was licking their fingers and just goes like--

LIAM: 100 strokes.

MATT: Rubs it on the outside of the cloak.

TALIESIN: (laughs)

ROBBIE: Charming. I will gladly help in any way that I can.

TALIESIN: Did you get that gig, by the way?

MATT: "I haven't gone into full audition yet. It's still about a week off."

SAM: You know what, Anni, it just occurred to me, as you rub your food on Dorian over here, you know, you were a little bit nervous or embarrassed to play for us before.

MATT: "I wasn't nervous, I wasn't embarrassed."

SAM: But if you wanted some guidance from an expert in the musical craft, well, we have one with us right now, who could possibly give you some criticism or advice or help on your budding audition.

MATT: "Oh, oh, you're a musician, are you?"

ROBBIE: (stuttering) I am by trade.

SAM: Not just any musician--

MATT: "Is that how you afford your fancy clothes?"

ROBBIE: I have made plenty of mondey-- money-- What is the word? (laughter) I am a bard for certain.

MATT: "Obviously, we've all heard of you. Please tell me, what's your name?"

ROBBIE: My name is Dorian Storm. (laughter) Surely you've heard, I've played The Gilded Goat, for certain, that was one a few months ago.

MATT: Make a deception check.

ROBBIE: Fuck. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Not real. Ooh.

LIAM: Come on.

ROBBIE: (high-pitched noise) 17.

MATT: You see Anni is looking at you real hard, waiting for you to fumble through this and goes like, "All right, well, what do you play?"

ROBBIE: I play the flute, the lute, anything that rhymes with flute or lute, I'm kidding. I sing a little bit--

SAM: The boot.

ROBBIE: -- from time to time. I can play a boot. If you gave me one, I'd tap away at it.

SAM: If only I had feet. (laughter)

ROBBIE: What are you auditioning for? Did you say audition, Ashton?

LIAM: That was the word.

TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah, that was kind of the word.

SAM: Not just any audition, this is the finest theater in all of the city. It's called The Dreamscape Theater.

MATT: "It's kind of a shithole, but it is the finest shithole in the city."

ROBBIE: What is your act? I'm interested. Is anyone else interested? Or is it just--

SAM: Of course, but we don't want put you-- maybe if you could just have a private--

ROBBIE: Oh, but you don't want to put them on the spot, but you want to put me on the spot?

SAM: Well, you're a fantastic performer, international renowned.

MATT: "Now, are you one of them rich boy prepared music types with a lot of rehearsal, or are you more of an improviser?"

ROBBIE: Oh, I can do it all.

SAM: Jam session? Jam session? Is a jam session about to happen?

ASHLEY: He can jam, I've seen it.

LAURA: Oh my gosh.

ASHLEY: I've seen it.

MATT: "I got jam." (laughter)

MATT: Goes and starts making a little sandwich.

ROBBIE: It's on my shirt. (laughter)

MATT: "See if you can follow." Pulls out this nice fiddle that she had hidden underneath.

LAURA: Are you going to Guidance him?

SAM: Yeah, I'm going to cast Enhance Ability.

LAURA: Ooh!

MARISHA: Yay!

ROBBIE: This isn't about me. You don't want two stresses.

MATT: "Oh, this is entirely about you, honey, I'm sorry. You walk in here looking like that, saying that you're a well-traveled musician. I can't lose an opportunity to take you down several pegs."

ROBBIE: Oh, you shit. I'm going to pick my lute back out. Is this a "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" scenario right now?

MATT: Yeah, it is!

ASHLEY: Yes, let's go!

MARISHA: Dueling violins!

SAM: Okay, I am going to go over to Dorian and just say: Well, no matter what happens, just keep it positive, and remember, you just don't rush the beat, all right. I'll cast Enhance Ability: Eagle's Splendor, so you have advantage on all performance checks.

ROBBIE: Oh. All right.

MATT: How does that look as you cast it upon him?

SAM: Oh boy. (laughs) Never cast this spell before.

MATT: I know that's why--

SAM: I don't know what to do.

MATT: First time with spells, that's standard.

SAM: Sure. I'll just have you look straight into my eyes and my eyes will just sort of glow blue and shine a light into yours, lighting yours up blue for a second.

ROBBIE: That feels nice.

MARISHA: (laughs)

ROBBIE: I will start to lay down the rhythm section of a funky little rural beat.

MATT: All right, all right.

SAM: Rural?

MARISHA: Rural beat.

LAURA: Right as he starts to play, I'm going to Prestidigitation and little lights are going to sparkle up around his head, and it's going to look like in lights it says, "Dorian Storm." (laughter, cheering)

MATT: If you could audibly hear an eyeroll out of Anni as the head goes to-- (laughter)

MATT: "This is the company you keep? Sure." As she's saying that to you, you can see that the back of her heel is starting to pick up on the beat instinctually. She starts rolling into it a bit.

LIAM: Wait, wait, come here, there's something in your hair.

ROBBIE: Oh, thank you.

LIAM: As he bends down a blue flower blooms out of Orym's hand and is now tucked into Dorian's hair.

SAM: Everything. We're throwing everything.

MATT: I had to kick the battle music in because here we are.

LIAM: Anni has to [inaudible] rushed.

MARISHA: Oh my god.

ROBBIE: Oh no.

MATT: With that, as soon as you start laying down the beat, Anni starts hitting the fiddle and it's low string and pick up, pick up, matching your beat, but also taking what you're laying down and beginning to guide it and trying to overpower it a bit. Make a performance check.

SAM: Come on, come on.

LAURA: With advantage.

SAM: With advantage, with advantage, with advantage. (cheering)

ROBBIE: Oh, let's go! That'll be a natural 20.

MATT: Oh shit! (cheering)

MATT: Plus, plus?

LIAM: See if you can get two. See if you can get two of them.

MARISHA: Just in case.

ROBBIE: Plus what?

MATT: Plus performance.

ROBBIE: Oh, plus my performance, 27.

MATT: Yeah, see. (cheering)

TALIESIN: Roll again, roll again.

LIAM: I want to see you get two natural 20s.

ROBBIE: That would never happen. (screaming) Holy shit!

MARISHA: Oh my god, it did! (cheering)

ROBBIE: Let's go!

ASHLEY: What?!

MATT: What the fuck?

LIAM: Yes! (laughter)

ROBBIE: Magic! My friends!

LAURA: Are you serious?

MATT: What the fuck was that?!

MARISHA: I know, it's right there!

MATT: Take a picture of that shit! (laughter)

MARISHA: Let me get my phone. Hang on.

ROBBIE: ♪ Do it, do it, do it. ♪ It's magical.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

MATT: You asshole.

ROBBIE: Now I feel blessed.

MATT: Fucking witch!

MARISHA: I'm going to drop it in the cast/production.

LIAM: Oh, it was like he had a mote.

MATT: As Anni leans in with a--

LIAM: Of possibility.

MATT: -- fairly fierce performance, how do you respond?

ROBBIE: Oh, I could stop the rhythm section and just bust out a killer shredding solo, but I don't. I don't.

MATT: Not time.

ROBBIE: I ease back, and I set up a solo for her.

MATT: For her?

ALL: Ooh.

MATT: Now Anni, who was feeling confident, as you set up the solo, in that moment do you see the look in her eyes of panic as she wasn't expecting, she was pushing into you to try and get you off of your game, and you immediately reversed it on her. In that brief moment, you can see there's a gap in her part. For a few beats, the bow of her fiddle doesn't move. Then she shakes and tries to catch up, and you threw her off tremendously on that bit. Let's go and do another performance roll. This is a progressive challenge.

ROBBIE: Oh, okay.

LAURA: You're like, "No!"

MATT: You still have advantage.

ROBBIE: Ooh, ooh.

LAURA: Advantage, advantage.

ROBBIE: Mm-hmm. Okay, 22.

MATT: 22, okay. At this point, as Anni picks up and is now finding herself back in the beat, caught up, now she pushes forward into the solo, and with that, even though you're trying to meet her there, even just physical body language she begins to stand a bit from that sitting position where she was eating, she's now up and is beginning to domineer you just from her stature. Even though she's effectively shorter than you from standing height, right now, there is a force of intention there. While you both are fairly evenly matched, she's beginning to crest beyond. She rolled pretty well, and is just starting to push over that and her solo is starting, and the rest of you are like, "Damn, this girl's got some skills."

TALIESIN: Yep, yep.

LAURA: This girl's got some skills.

SAM: Damn. (laughter)

MATT: Goddamn it. Let's go, this is the final roll.

ROBBIE: Okay, final roll, let's see what it is. That would be a 25.

LAURA: Wait, did you advantage?

LIAM: Advantage.

ROBBIE: Oh no.

MARISHA: It might be better.

ROBBIE: No, 25.

MATT: Okay. As soon as her solo finishes, she immediately responds and throws a solo to you, hoping to catch you off guard. Are you off guard?

ROBBIE: No. No, it feels right. It was a great solo on her part. So I just answer right back, jump out of the rhythm section and blast out a little high-pitched solo on a lute. ♪ Can you do that ♪ ♪ I don't even know ♪ (laughter)

MATT: Even if you couldn't, you're pulling it off.

ROBBIE: Oh sweet, let's go.

MATT: He's doing it, Peter, he's doing it! (laughter)

ASHLEY: He's doing it!

MATT: As you to carry it forward, you can see Anni starting to look anxious and nervous. Looks back at you, continues to fiddle faster and faster and is meeting that point before (ping). (gasping)

MATT: Natural one her part.

ALL: Oh no!

MATT: She goes "Fuck! Shit!" and stands up and storms off. "Goddamn--"

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: (grunting, panting) "All right, you're good. He's good, he's good."

TALIESIN: He's all right.

MATT: "Not better than me."

LAURA: Anni, are you okay? (laughter)

SAM: Are you okay, Anni?

ASHLEY: Could you tell us?

MARISHA: Are you okay, Anni?

TALIESIN: Oh no.

MARISHA: Are you okay, Anni?

TALIESIN: No.

MATT: Now Anni Aughta storms out. (laughter)

MATT: Slams the door behind. Opens the door back, Anni goes like, "Someone dropped something for you in your room."

SAM: Oh.

MATT: And slams it again.

TALIESIN: Hopefully it's not a death threat. I'm going to go into my room.

LAURA: That was amazing!

ROBBIE: I didn't do anything; it was all you guys! It was the stage work, it filled me with confidence.

LAURA: You were great.

ROBBIE: What was that thing you did?

SAM: I just wanted you to, you know, grab the bull by the dick, you know.

ROBBIE: I did, I grabbed that-- I did.

SAM: Well, I mean, they're going to really know it if you grab them by the dick, right?

ROBBIE: That's right! Is that a saying?

SAM: That's a saying where I'm from.

ROBBIE: That's what I thought.

SAM: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Well, thank you. Thank you for the assist, yes. We'll grab that dick together.

TALIESIN: Not hard to piss her off, but you did a really good job regardless.

ROBBIE: I wasn't trying to. I wanted to--

TALIESIN: No, it's super easy to do, but wow.

ROBBIE: It was fun.

TALIESIN: She appreciated it.

ROBBIE: And she's very good.

TALIESIN: No, she's very good. But damn! (laughs)

MATT: As you glance into your chamber.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: It's easy to catch your eye because your room is a colorful disarray.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: It's the nature of the Krook House in general. It is intentional, deliberate, tattered edges, is the colorful aesthetic of the interior. But a pristine wax sealed-- (gasping)

MATT: -- missive.

ROBBIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah!

MARISHA: Prop, prop.

ROBBIE: It's a prop!

LAURA: Props, props.

TALIESIN: Is this ringing a bell?

LIAM: Loot drop.

MATT: The wax seal is familiar.

TALIESIN: Fuck.

LAURA: What is it?

ASHLEY: It's so official.

LAURA: He's alone, he's alone.

ASHLEY: Oh, oh.

LAURA: Damn it.

LIAM: (pigeon cooing)

SAM: (pigeon cooing) Read the letter.

LIAM: Narrate your own dreams. (cooing) (laughter)

TALIESIN: Okay. (laughter)

TALIESIN: (long sigh) Get to that in a second. I'm going to put it in my pocket and come on in and--

LAURA: Everything okay?

TALIESIN: Maybe, we'll see. Give me a minute.

MARISHA: He looks shook.

LAURA: Yeah, you look real--

MARISHA: Visibly shook.

TALIESIN: That was quite a performance.

SAM: It was!

MARISHA: It was. It truly was.

TALIESIN: Is Effid here? We should talk to Effid. Is Effid around? Effid! Is Effid around? I'm going to yell loudly.

MATT: Effid, you know is not in too much of proximity to the Krook House, but with maybe a five-minute jaunt out of the space, you can go ahead and find your way to Effid's place.

TALIESIN: Yep, yep, yep. While I figure this out.

LAURA: Is Effid in relation to whatever it is you got?

TALIESIN: Maybe, I don't know. We'll find out.

MATT: All right, so you make your way over towards Effid's abode?

TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MATT: Okay. As you all follow Ashton outside of the Krook House and climbing up about three tiers of the near opposite end of this darkly lit chamber, you see this mess of rope and net that resembles a hanging nest, an upside down hanging nest within this partially-collapsed cavern that goes back about 20 or so feet. But the mouth of it and the roof of it is just this mess of heavily nailed in hanging pieces of frayed and rotted rope with exterior nets that have partially been broken apart in places, or have holes in them that have just been layered over in a fix where it creates this weirdly organic-looking interior from a distance, but you get up close and it just looks like a bunch of scavenged shit that's been nailed and pushed to the walls to create this nightmare jungle gym aesthetic to it. You know this to be Effid's place.

TALIESIN: Effid! You awake, you there?

MATT: There's a brief pause. Then you start seeing from the dark interior of the chamber there's one little glowing light in the far end that begins to shake, and then begin to approach in this swinging pattern towards you.

MARISHA: Oh my gosh, he's an angler fish. (laughter)

MATT: You begin to see climbing upside down across the ceiling--

SAM: Oh.

LAURA: What?

MATT: -- a male eisfuura, older in his years with a deep brown feather pattern that drifts into a fading grayish yellow tint at the tips. You see the wings that come off of his arms, it looks like the feathers aren't coming out properly and the arms are jointed strangely, but he pulls himself out from underneath and dangling upside-down looking at all of you, his bright yellow eyes peering from the shadowed expanse. You see the beak dark, almost black at the tip, open up a bit with this (inhales) inhale before it goes, (slow voice) "Hello. Did you call for me, Ashton?"

TALIESIN: (sighs) Yes, yes, I had a couple of questions if you've got a second. I'm working on some stuff to make some money.

MATT: "I'm very busy today, but I'll make it work for you."

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: Kind of scatters a bit close, and now is climbing down one side and you can see, it looks like their arms were broken at one point in the past and didn't quite heal correctly, but it doesn't slow them down, and they move across the space with a speed and a grace that is impressive. They extend themselves out in the neck turns and you can see them as they're still staying focused towards Ashton is very much curious and looking over each of you.

TALIESIN: I'm sure Milo mentioned that I'm running with a new crew to try and pay the bills.

MATT: "I've heard a thing or two, and I've seen you come through."

TALIESIN: A couple of things we're trying to track. Do you know where-- (snaps fingers) brumestone might've gone in this city? We're trying to track a little bit of that around.

MATT: "Plenty of it comes in and out, but it's all attached to ships."

TALIESIN: This would be in the nude, so to speak.

MATT: "Can't say I have. It's dangerous to move."

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: "Why do you ask, cracked one?"

TALIESIN: We had to deal with somebody who was moving some around. It's been a weird week. I'm sure you heard about the fucking murderous table, carpet shit that went down.

MATT: "Yeah."

TALIESIN: Then had to deal with this guy who was moving that shit around. We're also trying to find The Anger from back in the day. With all of this going the fuck on, one of these shows up in my room. I don't suppose you saw who dropped this off?

MATT: "I did see a courier come through. Wasn't dressed like the rest of us. Looked like they were from money."

TALIESIN: Yeah, that's what I thought, okay.

MATT: "Who's it from, if I can ask?"

TALIESIN: That costs more than you have.

MATT: "Well, you've asked a lot of questions. May cost more than you have, so good day," and begins to clamber back into the cave, but the head that continues to watch all of you in turn.

ASHLEY: Oh, don't leave.

MATT: Kind of stops. "Why?"

ASHLEY: You remind me so much of a friend of mine, Dr. Nesbitt.

MATT: "Who's this Nesbitt?"

ASHLEY: It's a friend of mine. Oh!

TALIESIN: Oh shit. (clears throat)

ASHLEY: Oh, but we have to go.

TALIESIN: Yep.

ASHLEY: Oh hello, I'm Fearne.

MATT: "Hello, Fearne. I'm Effid the Fallen."

ASHLEY: Oh!

TALIESIN: Don't let the name fool you, they'll fuck you up. It's a whole thing. I think he wants to know who this doctor is, if you feel like sharing.

ASHLEY: Oh, it's not a real doctor, it's just a bird that's a friend of mine and I named him Dr. Nesbitt. (laughter)

MATT: "Right. Good day, Ashton."

TALIESIN: I'll just throw a little bag of 50 gold.

MATT: With immediate speed, catches it. Shakes it and just listens, not even breaking eye contact from you, just-- "You're very kind, Ashton."

TALIESIN: Well, I'd like to keep on your good side.

MATT: "You're doing well for yourself, you know. I'm proud of you." Tucks it into this little side satchel pouch, that's affixed around one of the shoulders.

SAM: Did you know anything about where The Anger is?

MATT: "I mean, worked for the twins before everything else turned to shit." Then begins to climb back into the shadows.

TALIESIN: What you get is what you get.

MARISHA: What does that mean?

ASHLEY: "Before everything went to shit?"

LAURA: What went to shit?

TALIESIN: Well, we have a lead.

LAURA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: What did you get?

TALIESIN: This, at the moment, is nothing. It may be something, I will let you know.

LAURA: Can we read it?

SAM: Rollies?

ROBBIE: Wow.

TALIESIN: What'd you roll?

LAURA: 17.

TALIESIN: Fuck, I did, too.

LAURA: (gasps) Literally every time! That's the third time we've rolled the same.

MATT: Any of you who's played this game knows this shit happens all the time.

TALIESIN: Compromise.

LIAM: Rollies is a mysterious and wondrous game.

MATT: (wheezing laughter)

SAM: Are you redacting things?

TALIESIN: Yep.

MATT: (laughs) I love it!

LAURA: Ashton, you're redacting all of it.

TALIESIN: That's what you get for a tie. Compromise, no one's happy.

LAURA: "I have an eight when you are ready."

SAM: An eight?

TALIESIN: Yep.

SAM: Like the number eight?

TALIESIN: I suppose so.

LAURA: Wow, you really did redact it. I can't tell what that says.

TALIESIN: Nope.

ASHLEY: What if you hold it up?

LIAM: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Get it like that.

SAM: Don't, don't subvert his-- (laughter)

TALIESIN: It's a perfectly reasonable subversion. Would not fight it. I'll see if that pans out into anything, but that will require some private time. That's not something I can bring people to.

LAURA: You usually don't bring people to private time?

TALIESIN: God, you made that sound weird, I'm so impressed. This is good, there's certain things, we all've got--

LAURA: Sure.

TALIESIN: -- some private shit.

LIAM: Keep hearing about--

LAURA: The twins.

LIAM: The Lumas twins.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Now we have a question for our patron.

LAURA: That's true.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: We've got more information to bring to Lord Eshteross.

TALIESIN: We have a question to ask. How do we get to meet the Lumas twins?

LAURA: Maybe he could set something up?

TALIESIN: Maybe he could.

LAURA: Rich people want to meet rich people, isn't that right?

TALIESIN: Or they're afraid of rich people?

SAM: It's the opposite, I think.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I think maybe it's a two-way thing, maybe? I don't know.

ROBBIE: It could be, but we're a big group. A big diverse group, I'm not sure.

LAURA: Maybe Lord Eshteross can make it seem like we're a bunch of rich people, too.

TALIESIN: That would be perfect because then I can go do my thing while you do that because that ain't going to work over here.

SAM: He might already have an in. He implied he did, but if he doesn't, we could bounce back to Vash, our friend Vash, the definitely-not-leader of the Hubatt Corsairs.

SAM: Yash.

LAURA: All right. So head on up? All right, let's go.

SAM: To Eshteross?

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Okay. Not too far, still in the Core Spire, you head to the familiar estate of Lord Eshteross. There, Evelyn leads you in and he is currently, this early in the day, he's still finishing his delayed breakfast. You get the sense that he eats slowly in the morning.

TALIESIN: Respect.

MATT: As Evelyn leads you into the--

LAURA: We're early risers.

MARISHA: I know.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah, you guys went to bed comparatively early because you were beat to shit and exhausted. Even though you drank, by the time you went to bed, it was like 10:00, 10:30, which is early for you guys.

MARISHA: That's true.

LIAM: Started day drinking, fell asleep at 7:00.

MATT: Yep. (laughter)

MATT: Those are the best days.

TALIESIN: Those really solid days.

MATT: But as you are led into the dining chamber, the familiar place where you had your celebratory dinner when you finished your first leg of your journey with the Lord, he is there in the process of-- He has his spectacles on and he's reading through some paper and as you begin to enter, he holds up a finger to all of you to hold on a second. He closes it, puts it within a small case and sets it aside. "Good morning, friends. Might I-- How might I be of service to you?"

LIAM: Oh boy, a bunch of things, right?

MARISHA: It's been a busy morning. Apparently, we're pretty productive.

MATT: "You are not exaggerating. Very self-motivated, which is oddly rare for those in your line of work."

LIAM: Well, first, we made second contact with the Corsairs and it seems like there is some tentative interest in making your acquaintance.

ROBBIE: We put in a good word for you.

LAURA: Yeah, if that's all right.

MATT: "Hmm. How eager were they, if I might ask?"

LIAM: They seemed a little unsure.

LAURA: Less eager to meet someone of your stature? Of your station?

TALIESIN: Standing?

LAURA: Yeah. They don't like people with money and you have it. So, really, that's--

MATT: "That is-- That is assuring. If they were too eager, that would spell ill intent, based on the dynamics in play. Very well. Do you have a place where such a request--"

MARISHA: They said it had to be on their terms.

LAURA: That they would get back to us.

MARISHA: Yes.

MATT: "Very well. When you do hear from them, please do come to me. But I appreciate you making the contact and I do hope it comes to some net positive."

MARISHA: They also said that they heard that you killed Madam Prudaj.

SAM: Among other rumors that they did not know were true.

MATT: You see his face harden as he looks towards you.

MARISHA: Oh. Struck a nerve, that one?

MATT: "Madam Prudaj was an honorable, good-hearted woman. I spent the majority of my adult life protecting her. I would never, ever have harmed her."

TALIESIN: Is no one else going to--?

LIAM: I don't need to roll.

MARISHA: Yeah, no. Yeah, feels genuine as fuck.

TALIESIN: Insight check.

LIAM: I rang the top bell on day one.

MATT: Insight check.

TALIESIN: Cocked. Ooh. 18.

MATT: 18.

SAM: Oh, a little mini whisper. Brought to you by...

MARISHA: ♪ Mini whisper ♪

SAM: Koozies. Please don't sue us, Koozies. (laughter)

LAURA: The little one, I love it so much.

ROBBIE: How can you hold that? It hurts my hand just to hold that.

SAM: Maybe if you had one of our drink holders, if it would be nice and soft.

ROBBIE: Some sort of cozy of some sort?

SAM: Yeah, like a cozy, soft Critical Role--

MATT: (clears throat)

SAM: Okay.

ROBBIE: I'll be sure to get one. They're at store dot-- shop.critrole. Not store.

MARISHA: Nope.

TALIESIN: Other than vague rumors, we do have some other things we could use some help with. The Lumas twins, do you know them? Do you have an opinion?

MATT: He goes and grabs the case that he was currently reading from when you arrived. "Well, I had told your compatriot here, Orym, that I would look into making an arrangement if I could, with Oshad. Unfortunately, while I can make the arrangement, Oshad is not in a place to meet at the moment. He is still recovering."

LAURA: Recovering from what?

MATT: "Oshad had been working as the bodyguard to the Lumas twins for quite some time. But not more than a handful of weeks back, there was an incursion at the Mahaan Lumas in which the twins were killed--"

LAURA: (gasps)

MATT: "-- by an assailant or assailants. Oshad was heavily wounded and is currently still recovering."

LIAM: I had some idea of this, but it's been some time. They must've been grievous, these wounds.

MATT: He pulls out the paper and looks at it, and "It seems to be grievous, but treatable, and The Anger has been asleep for a number of this recovery period. While occasionally conscious, is not yet ready to make conversation with those who are immediate family. But I will push back and I assume," and gives you a glance, "that this is not an entirely surprising reveal."

LIAM: No, and we don't need to press. Let them take all the time they need. I'm not going anywhere.

MATT: "I will let them know that it is perhaps related to him."

LIAM: That would be deeply appreciated.

MATT: "Perhaps that would expedite their interest as well as Oshad's next time he is of conscious mind."

SAM: You know who might've wanted to harm the Lumas twins?

MATT: "There are many individuals from many places that have conflicts with a number of the Mahaan houses. I am removed from a lot of those politics, specifically.

LAURA: Were the Lumas twins good people?

MATT: "I did not know them personally but they were known to be-- at least how I assume-- they were not involved in anything terribly dire. They were curious, if anything. Interests in those of the geological and scientific pursuits, if anything."

LAURA: Brumestone.

TALIESIN: Did anyone see what happened?

MATT: "I do not know the specifics. You would have to inquire with the house or at least, whoever is responsible for keeping its orders functional while the heads of the house have been slain."

ASHLEY: Do you have any more information on the nature of these attacks, what happened?

MATT: "I only have what has been rumored and said but what I have been able to eke out is that there was an attack within the house and their hired protection, guards, if you will, did not see or notice the entry. That is all I know."

LAURA: It's one of those damn holes, it could have been a hole again.

SAM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

LAURA: Do you have holes in your house?

MATT: "Explain."

LAURA: Leading to the shade creepers?

MATT: "Right, I greatly do not think so. I have not noticed any and then upon you informing me of these strange creatures' recent maneuvers throughout the infrastructure of the city, I have done a thorough inspection and have found nothing of the sort."

ROBBIE: After an attack like this, would the groundskeepers or curators check the house for such a thing as well?

MATT: "I imagine they would. Looking for any sort of unseen entry, means of sneaking within the premises, beneath the nose of their very bodyguard. For someone or someones to evade the hound-like nose of The Anger speaks of skilled incursion. That is worrying enough."

ROBBIE: That doesn't sound like a three-foot hole in the wall to me.

SAM: Well, shit.

LIAM: I think in the meantime, we're content to wait on their recovery. We're doing well together and in the meantime, if there's anything that we can do to help you in your interests here in the city, I don't think I'm speaking out of turn; we'd be happy to help.

MATT: "I appreciate that. Well." He thinks to himself for a moment. "Barring this conversation with the Corsairs coming underway whenever they reach out, at least keep an eye and ear open for their intent to communicate, since you are indeed the bridge between myself and them. Otherwise, there has been a series of mysterious disappearances surrounding the Dreamscape Theater as of late."

LAURA: Ah. Cool.

MARISHA: Beware of the theater.

MATT: "Patrons--"

LIAM: It destroys the best of us.

MATT: "Patrons numbering no more than four over the past six months have vanished, at least those that have been reported to the Wilders."

SAM: During shows?

MATT: "I do not know the specifics. You will need to speak with Stuvan Idrio to likely find out more about the spot."

LIAM: Stuvan Idrio.

LAURA: Idrio? Idrio.

LIAM: Idrio.

MATT: "Idrio."

TALIESIN: The owner.

MATT: "The Wardens have been supposedly investigating this for a protracted period of time, but have, to no one's surprise, come up short."

LAURA: All right. Is it hard to get tickets to theater?

MATT: "Not if you have the coin."

LAURA: All right.

MATT: "That is the most immediate thing I can consider. The long game, well, I'm still keeping a few threads out and about before I could even make use of your skills. We'll talk at that time."

ASHLEY: Are you all right? You seem to have a bit of discomfort. Digestion? Are you okay? Maybe I'm just reading your face wrong.

MATT: "I... have not sat comfortably in my space for a good number of decades."

ASHLEY: Well, you need to get a more comfortable chair, then, maybe.

MATT: "Perhaps. That was-- (sigh)."

ASHLEY: I understand what you're saying.

MATT: "Continue to work for me and maybe one day, you'll understand what it means to be ever looking over your shoulder."

ASHLEY: Hmm. That doesn't sound very fun at all.

MATT: "No. But doing the right thing is not always fun, is it?"

ASHLEY: That's true.

MATT: "Well."

LAURA: Do you think it would be possible to get that letter of recommendation for the Starlight Conservatory?

MATT: "Right. Yes, I can begin to draft that immediately."

LAURA: Thank you.

MATT: "My apologies for the delay."

LAURA: No, we never signed the contract.

MATT: "The contract would make it more officious, but it is not necessary. I can put the paperwork together, officiate it, and perhaps be able to usher it off for approval to the Conservatory."

LAURA: Is that something that goes straight to them, or something we carry into the Conservatory?

MATT: "Let me deliver it without your specific involvement. That may lend an air of..."

MARISHA: Credibility?

MATT: "Credibility to it."

LAURA: That's wonderful. Thank you so much.

MATT: "Of course. I will let you know if I hear anything."

LIAM: At your own time.

MARISHA: Quick question.

MATT: "Yes?"

MARISHA: Thought experiment, we're trying to workshop some things. When you look at us as a group, the first word that pops into your mind. Don't overthink it.

MATT: "Eclectic."

MARISHA: Eclectic. That's difficult.

LAURA: The Eclectic--

ROBBIE: Electric Eclectic.

LAURA: Ooh.

MATT: "Did I answer incorrectly? You seem unhappy--"

LIAM: Eclectic Company

MATT: "-- with my response."

SAM: No, no, you did great. There's no wrong answers here.

MATT: "I was not aware--"

LIAM: That's for my late 70s, early 80s kids.

ASHLEY: We're still trying to think of a name.

TALIESIN: The Eclectic Company?

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Yeah, too on the nose.

LAURA: The Eclectic Bells.

MATT: "I apologize if I did not meet your expectations."

MARISHA: The Bell's--

LAURA: Troublesome--

MARISHA: Troubled--

LAURA: Treble--

MATT: "I am no good at branding, my apologies."

TALIESIN: Trebilectic Eclectica.

LIAM: Diplomatic immunity. (laughter)

SAM: Well, thank you.

TALIESIN: That's not bad.

SAM: We'll leave you to your long breakfast. Thank you as always.

MATT: "Of course, and if I may leave you with one final piece of advice, nothing too hard to remember or say."

LAURA: Oh, right. Simple. So eclectric-- eclect-- no okay, we'll work on it.

MATT: "Do not-- I steered you in the wrong direction."

SAM: Before we go, because this breakfast spread looks fantastic, can I top you off?

LAURA and TALIESIN: Oh no. (laughter)

MATT: You watch him go-- (laughter)

MATT: "It's still warm." (laughter)

ASHLEY: It's amazing.

TALIESIN: Hours.

MATT: "It is something. Thank you, Fresh Cut Grass."

SAM: You're welcome.

MATT: "I'll enjoy this once you've left," and he moves it to the side of the table.

MARISHA: All right.

SAM: Shiny day to you.

MARISHA: Yep, we'll be back tomorrow!

MATT: (sighs) A long, labored sigh.

SAM: I feel like we're bouncing around like a pinball machine or something, right?

TALIESIN: We got options now.

SAM: Well, what are the options?

MARISHA: The Lumas twins are dead.

SAM: No option there.

MARISHA: Oshad is still unconscious.

ASHLEY: Yeah, should we go to the theater?

MARISHA: What the fuck is up with that?

SAM: With what?

TALIESIN: Which part?

MARISHA: There was some sort of incursion?

LAURA: Yeah, what does The Anger have to do with you?

MARISHA: To what you went through? Was there some sort of incursion?

SAM: The Lord said that you would know, you would be familiar with this incursion, or?

MARISHA: Did that sound familiar?

LAURA: Did some of the Ashari--?

SAM: What the fuck is up with that? (laughter)

MATT: Man, fuck that.

LIAM: All right, not right here. Where can we go?

SAM: We'll just walk and talk.

LIAM: No.

LAURA: Let's walk and talk to the theater.

ASHLEY: I think it might.

LIAM: I'm not going to answer your questions while we walk and talk.

LAURA: Oh, it's like espionage, secret. And we are easily followed.

TALIESIN: We're also out of healing potions. So if we want to, like, the Prism Emporium or some shit like that to pick up a couple things.

MARISHA: I have one.

TALIESIN: Oh, you guys have one.

LAURA: Is there anybody following us?

MATT: Make a perception check.

ROBBIE: Mm.

LAURA: One. (laughter)

MATT: Nah!

LAURA: Nah! We're good, you guys, we're fine.

LIAM: 15. [ice clinking in liquid in metal mug]

MATT: 15.

LAURA: (imitates ice clinking)

ASHLEY: (imitates ice clinking)

MATT: Nothing catches your eye as to being trailed or oddly keeping pace behind you, you feel comfortable.

MARISHA: We could--

LIAM: Crowded.

MARISHA: -- just all cram into Zhudanna's really quick and have a quick convo.

LAURA: Yeah, I mean, we're close by. Yeah.

MARISHA: Do you guys want to meet Zhudanna?

LAURA: Oh, she's the best.

MARISHA: She's so sweet.

LAURA: If she's awake.

TALIESIN: Very, very much so. Yes, I do.

MARISHA: She'll make you some mittens, or socks, or scarves. She knits.

TALIESIN: All right.

SAM: Sure, let's go.

MARISHA: All right.

TALIESIN: This I got to see.

SAM: To Zhudanna's.

MATT: All right, so you head to the Windowed Wall, Viduun-Devaar.

TALIESIN: Doing an NPC crawl. [Inaudible] We'll do an NPC crawl.

MATT: You lead the rest of your troop towards the familiar abode that you've both been calling home for the past number of weeks that you've been staying here in the city. As you approach, the rest of you see amongst-- you've been here now a handful of times, in the colorful, growing neighborhood of clustered and stacked buildings on different tiers and levels here at the Windowed Wall. You come to this beautiful little homestead that's tucked into this cluster of the neighborhood. You have to climb past a staircase to get to this front porch that you can see a lot of love has gone into it, but the paint is cracking just from age and sun. But it has a beautiful view of the street below. It's only about three tiers up, as opposed to the higher one where you had the previous day gone and done battle with a creepy, weird--

LAURA: Jelly man.

MATT: Jelly dwarf.

LIAM: Jell-ayy.

ASHLEY: Jelly roll.

MATT: But here you can see there's a window that leads inside. It's warmly lit from the interior. The door is closed, but it has this sweet, loved-in atmosphere to it, and as you step onto the porch, you can already tell coming through the open window, which it is open, and the gentle breeze is coming through as the morning mist has already burned off and the day gets steadily warmer, there's a faint smell of cooked fruit, something that has been either fried or slowly heated and just has this gentle sweetness to it.

MARISHA: ♪ Oh, Zhudanna? ♪

MATT: (high-pitched voice) "Hold on."

LIAM: Fried plantains.

MATT: You hear ping, ping, (clanging). "Oh! Dang it."

LAURA: Oh, well, I just go in and make sure she's okay.

MATT: You look over and there's a pot on the ground and there's a few spilled, some sort of a roasted and steeped, plantain or banana-type fruit, as well as some other leaves and such that are spilled onto the ground and she's picking them up.

LAURA: No, no, I'll clean this up.

MATT: "No, I can handle it."

LAURA: No, you should go over, go meet the friends.

MARISHA: We have company, is that all right?

MATT: "That's wonderful."

MARISHA: All right. A big group, brace yourself. Come in.

MATT: As you all walk in, you see this delightfully sweet smile on this elderly woman. Darker, deep brown, tan, wrinkled skin from just life and sun and vibrancy. Gray, nearly white hair entirely that is right now just let past the shoulders into this steadily spreading boisterous tangle of hair that goes to about her mid-back. You guys are used to seeing her having it pinned back, but now it's just let down and it billows out behind and frames the shoulders. Her wrists are thin from her very baggy what looks to be crocheted top that she has the shawl over her shoulders and this long skirt, and is just looking back and smiling with these bright but beady eyes, these beautiful brown irises that peer at each of you and looks at you with a kindness as you enter. "Huh, well, it is an honor to have you in my home. I fear that we're out of beds."

LAURA: Oh, no, no, no.

MATT: "But we have room on the floor and I can retrieve some--"

MARISHA: Oh, Zhudanna, no, you're so sweet. We're just popping by for a moment.

MATT: "Oh! Well, I was making lunch. Um."

LAURA: I'll help.

MATT: "Oh? Thank you so much. This way," and she leads you over and you begin to gather. You can see as you're helping her pick up stuff, she's starting to pull from the shelves other fruits that she was probably saving for the next day that she is now adding to this fruit stew kind of arrangement.

LAURA: Amazing.

MATT: But she being to prepare it, saying, "So, how'd you all become friends with the sweet, dear Laudna and Imogen?"

TALIESIN: Wow, oh.

LAURA: Hey, Zhudanna, I have a question for you.

MATT: "Yes, of course, my dear."

LAURA: When you look at us, what's the first word the pops into your head?

MATT: "(chuckles) Just the sweetest." (laughter) Did you know they came to me in the middle of the night and helped get rid of a problem in my late husband's bedroom?"

SAM: They did, they told us about that. That's quite remarkable.

MATT: "They are very sweet."

ASHLEY: Sweet.

MARISHA: Sweet.

TALIESIN: Very sweet.

ASHLEY: Very sweet.

LAURA: The Sweet Bell.

TALIESIN: So sweet.

MARISHA: Sweet Belles.

ALL: Sweet Belles.

MARISHA: Sweet Bell Peppers.

ROBBIE: Peppers, yeah. There's a pepper.

LIAM: Sweet Eclectabells.

MATT: (laughs)

LAURA: The Troublesome--

SAM: Sweet Trouble.

TALIESIN: Sweet Troubles.

ALL: Sweet Trouble!

MARISHA: -- ing Little Bells.

ROBBIE: Sweet Trouble Eclectic.

LAURA: Yeah, I really want to get "bell" in there.

TALIESIN: Eclectic Sweet Trouble Bells.

ROBBIE: Ooh.

LAURA: I'll stop by the market and restock some of this, Zhudanna. I'm sorry we're wiping you out right now.

MATT: "It's all right, but yeah, if you want to pick some things up, I'd really appreciate it."

MARISHA: Oh, we've been so negligent.

LAURA: I know, I know, I know.

MARISHA: We've been so busy, we're sorry.

MATT: "Oh, it's all right. I have things to keep me busy as well, but it's not done yet." You see her reach over to pull up from this little comfy chair she keeps in the corner. It's this bright red and orange and yellow knitted sweater that's partially done. You could see it's only from the shoulders and sleeves down, it's only about there, and goes, "I just thought that you needed a bit more color."

LAURA: Oh!

MARISHA: Oh, goodness! Zhudanna, that's so sweet.

MATT: "It's wonderful."

MARISHA: It's a bit of a crop top, is it?

MATT: "It's not finished yet."

MARISHA: Oh, okay, perfect.

MATT: "But you also don't require as much yarn as others."

MARISHA: Oh, thank you.

MATT: "She's like a stick. You should eat more, really."

SAM: She's not wrong.

MATT: "It talks!"

SAM: Oh, yeah.

MATT: "Ooh! Goodness me!"

SAM: Hi there.

MATT: "(squeals) Where did you find this little thing?"

SAM: We just sort of bumped into each other.

MATT: "Oh!"

MARISHA: Hey, Zhudanna.

MATT: "Yes?"

MARISHA: Just a question.

MATT: "Mm-hmm?"

MARISHA: Your husband.

MATT: "Right."

MARISHA: He worked with the Wilders.

LAURA: The Wardens.

MARISHA: The Wardens.

MATT: "Yes, a long time ago."

MARISHA: Do you ever remember him mentioning someone called The Anger?

TALIESIN: Oshad?

MATT: "Not particularly, no. Might have. It was a long time ago."

MARISHA: Eh, she doesn't know. It's predictable, yes.

LAURA: Yeah. That makes sense. Did you ever make pottery for any of the Mahaan families?

MATT: "There were a few times that I sold some of my finer works to a number of, I assumed were part of the Mahaan Houses. They paid very well."

LAURA: Oh?

MATT: "Helped actually build out this home here at the time. My husband was, you know, making consistent wages, but I was able to get us a nice place." (laughter)

LAURA: What was your mark, if we ever find ourselves in one of those homes? We'd be able to--

MATT: She walks over to one of the shelves over to the side of the kitchen, where you can see there's a lot of bowls and plates that she has there, and she takes one down, and you can see it's beautifully sculpted, green jade color clay that leads to this somewhat translucent top. You're not quite sure what material mix she used for it to get this dense clay to this ombre translucence to the tip. It's beautiful. She goes, "This is one of my prized works that I would not sell." She turns it on the back, and on the bottom of it, you can see, pushed into the clay, there is the S-H-I-D-A-N-A. Her name is gently carved into it.

LAURA: That's beautiful.

MATT: "Thank you."

LAURA: I've never seen a translucent piece of pottery before.

MATT: "Part of it involves multiple sources of materials. The basic clay, and if you can find the right arcane enchanter, they can transmute elements of the mud and the clay to take different material attributes. It's expensive, but it makes for some fine art pieces."

LAURA: Wow! How much would something like that have sold for?

MATT: "Oh, I would not sell that piece."

LAURA: No, no, no, I know, but similar ones.

MATT: "I would consider that one mostly priceless, but for others who'd attempted such things, they can run upwards of 200, 250 gold pieces for something like that."

LAURA: That's amazing!

MATT: "It costs quite a bit for the arcane, the skill set required to complete it. But that is what you have to do when you want to raise your art form to another level, they say." (chuckles)

ROBBIE: This is a lot of pottery talk, isn't it? It's lovely, it's lovely!

MARISHA: It is!

MATT: "Ooh, like a bowl?"

ASHLEY: I'll take a bowl.

MATT: She goes ahead and begins to spoon out for each of you a-- It's boiled down into a syrupy-type texture to it. It has very much, for a modern day context, a lot of the syrupy fruit salad you had as a kid in the little cups, like the little...

TALIESIN: Oh, I'm into that.

LAURA: Cocktail, is it?

LIAM: The juice, cocktail.

MATT: Yeah, the fruit cocktail.

LAURA: Fruit cocktail! That's what it is.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: But naturally created, not this terrifying abomination of factories.

LAURA: I loved fruit cocktail.

MATT: I loved it, too--

ROBBIE: No mini marshmallows

MATT: but that shit is--

ROBBIE: -- in it right?

MATT: -- not right.

LAURA: Oh my god, marshmallows.

TALIESIN: Yeah, no, I'm having some of that.

LAURA: I'm going to go and slice up some crusty bread to give to everyone to cut through the syrupy.

MATT: Go for it, yeah.

MARISHA: Zhudanna, we have a little bit of business to talk about, but--

MATT: "Yes."

MARISHA: Just let me know if you are feeling left out.

MATT: "Oh, not at all."

MARISHA: Okay.

ASHLEY: This is delicious, by the way.

LIAM: What color was the shawl that she made for you?

MATT: "Thank you!"

LAURA: Orange, yellow, and red.

MATT: "If you want more, I have a bit of a secret, if you have the taste for it. Do you like a bit of spice?"

ASHLEY: I love spice.

TALIESIN: I'll eat anything.

MATT: She reaches back from the spice rack, looking for the right one, and then pulls this lid and unscrews it, and puts a bit of this dense, brownish-red powder into it. She goes, "Just mix that in a bit. It's a bit of a--"

LAURA: Ooh, I want to try that.

LIAM: What do you add in there?

ASHLEY: Oh, I've missed a home-cooked meal.

MATT: Goes ahead and puts it in there. "It's my own special blend."

LIAM: Ah, okay.

TALIESIN: Do I have to roll something now that I've put it in my mouth?

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: Okay.

LAURA: Is it like chili? Fruit chili?

MATT: It's cayenne.

TALIESIN: Oh, so cayenne! Fuck yeah!

MATT: It just adds a bit of really nice spice to the sweetness.

TALIESIN: Who doesn't spicy fruit?

MATT: Exactly, it makes it pop a bit, and tingles the tongue.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm into it.

LAURA: A bologna sandwich.

ASHLEY: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

SAM: Orym, do you feel comfortable now telling us what you wanted to tell us?

LAURA: We can go into our bedroom if that makes you feel better?

LIAM: I think that's probably best.

LAURA: Okay, yeah. There's quite a possibility that Zhudanna's actually a secret spy.

ASHLEY: Zhudanna, do you have a straw?

LAURA: You never know.

LIAM: I don't think she's--

MATT: "A what?"

LIAM: -- a secret spy.

ASHLEY: Do you have a straw? Like a wooden-- that's hollow.

MATT: "Oh, right. Hold on." She goes in and takes a stirring stick that is hollow in the center and goes, "This could function."

ASHLEY: That will work, thank you so much.

MATT: "Okay, you're welcome."

LAURA: Just take it. (laughter) (laughter)

MATT: I love Fearne so much! (laughter) I love it so much.

ROBBIE: Oh man.

LIAM: Jazz is Chaos.

ASHLEY and MARISHA: Jazz is chaos.

SAM: All right, tell us!

LAURA: All right, we're in the bedroom.

MATT: It is a very tight space. This chamber is like--

LAURA: It's very tight.

MATT: It's 10-foot by eight-foot.

LIAM: You chose it!

MATT: With a singular bed in the center. So when you guys are all in there, you're all like--

LIAM: Waited three days.

ROBBIE: Eating fruit soup.

MATT: Yep, yep, straight up.

LAURA: Squished up on the bed, eating fruit soup.

MATT: Epic, high fantasy adventure, right here! Retirement fruit soup in a tiny bedroom, let's go!

TALIESIN: In a grandma house, in a fucking grandma house.

LIAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: We're in a tiny bedroom in a grandma house.

ASHLEY: Doilies everywhere.

LAURA: But while we're here, we can show you the hole under the bed.

MARISHA: Oh, yeah, this is the hole.

LAURA: This is the hole!

TALIESIN: The famous hole that we've all been told about.

LAURA: Okay sorry, here's the hole. Keep going, what's the deal?

LIAM: Oh, okay, so we're crammed in here. We're all having fruit cocktail. Everyone's got doilies. There's lace everywhere plus pottery.

MARISHA: Dish, bish.

LIAM: All right, so Orym would look out the window at the city for--

LAURA: There's no window.

LIAM: There's nothing?!

LAURA: It's just a hidey hole of a bedroom.

LIAM: All right.

LAURA: You can look down into the hole, if you want. That's the only thing.

LIAM: Give me a minute.

TALIESIN: Deep into the anus of the city--

LIAM: Leave me alone. Then if there's no window--

MARISHA: Drama.

LIAM: -- then Orym looks--

ASHLEY: A fireplace mantel, maybe?

MARISHA: Yeah! (laughter)

LIAM: Looks at Dorian and Fearne for a second, and then to Imogen, and says: You probably would have caught this off of me eventually, anyway. It's good. You already know where we're from, where I'm from. A number of years ago, an attack was made on the seat of power there. What are you writing?

LAURA: Nothing.

LIAM: It was unique. The attack came from out of nowhere and disappeared almost before it started. A few of those assailants were... dropped, and... they evaporated, melted before our eyes. That was years ago, left more questions than anything else. That's as much as I knew about it for years. Until recently. This gets a little tricky. A friend to the Ashari in Whitestone heard a rumor from a friend.

MARISHA: All right.

LIAM: With me so far?

MARISHA: Uh-huh, friend, Whitestone.

LIAM: Who traveled here.

MARISHA: Heard rumor and traveled here, all right.

LIAM: Friend of Breshio's spoke with Breshio. Whatever the attack Eshteross made reference to was similar.

LAURA: Oh!

MARISHA: So you heard of this attack, came out here.

LIAM: More or less, I didn't hear anything. This is above my--

MARISHA: Right.

LIAM: -- pay grade.

LAURA: So who sent you to find out?

LIAM: I was sent by the leader in my home, the Voice of the Tempest.

LAURA: So your leader was not one of the people that was killed in this attack?

LIAM: No, very few were.

LAURA: Oh, okay.

LIAM: And it was fast. Anyway, word got back that something happened here may be similar. I've already been afield for awhile and was called home. Then I brought Fearne and Dorian with me, and they sent us here to sniff it out. That's the whole story.

LAURA: The people that attacked your village, what were they after, do you know? Who did they target?

LIAM: Our leader.

LAURA: But they didn't succeed?

LIAM: No. And there's some questions, some debate whether it was a legitimate attempt, or maybe a test run, but years have gone by since this happened. I put it largely out of my mind. Tried to, anyway. And now, five, six years later, this rumor came back to my people, and we're just seeing it through.

MARISHA: Do you know anyone who died on that day?

LIAM: Absolutely.

MARISHA: Hmm, tragic.

TALIESIN: This was how many years ago?

LIAM: Six years ago.

TALIESIN: This happened in your town, in Ashari?

LIAM: Zephrah, yes.

TALIESIN: Wait. Zephrah's the name of the town?

LIAM: It's a little more than a town, but yeah.

TALIESIN: So Ashari's not the name of the town?

LIAM: The Ashari are my people.

TALIESIN: The Ashari are the people who live in Zephrah?

LIAM: And other places.

LAURA: It seems like it should be Zephronians or Zephrians.

TALIESIN: I was just thinking that.

ASHLEY: I was thinking about that as well.

TALIESIN: That's really confusing.

LIAM: Are the people here Jrusarians?

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Are they?

TALIESIN: Often. I mean, if you're from here, yeah.

LIAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: If you live here long enough.

LIAM: I didn't found the civilization.

SAM: Maybe you should have.

LIAM: That'd be a trick.

ASHLEY: Could've fooled me.

SAM: If only you could go back in time, change things. (laughter)

LIAM: That's a fool's errand, my friend.

MATT: Deep.

TALIESIN: Wow.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay, so.

SAM: Okay, well, so these attacks may be related. There's a someone out on the loose who wants to kill Ashari leaders as well as Jrusari leaders.

ALL: Ooh.

SAM: The Rhyming Bandits.

MARISHA: Rhyming Bandits.

LAURA: Good, the Evaporating Rhyming Bandits because they just poof out of thin air, or do they melt away, or do they turn to ash? I mean, Dugger turned to ash.

LIAM: I watched two people melt into nothing with nothing left behind.

MARISHA: Was it magic, or technology?

LIAM: Technology. I believe it was arcane in nature.

TALIESIN: This sort of thing happen a lot there? Big magic fuck-ups?

LIAM: No.

TALIESIN: Oh.

SAM: Well, thank you for telling us, but unfortunately, I don't know that that changes our trajectory very much, does it?

LIAM: No.

MARISHA: And you have no further information on the motives on why they attacked?

SAM: Does your leader owe a gambling debt to someone or--

MARISHA: Dabbling.

LAURA: Yeah, maybe she got in bad with someone.

MARISHA: Right.

LIAM: Not that I'm aware of.

LAURA: Does she have any ties to Jrusar?

MARISHA: Dabbling in the underworld.

LIAM: I mean, she is in communication with people all over the world, but again, this is above my pay grade.

SAM: Sure, sure.

LIAM: I'm a guard. Part of her guard, but again, I don't... And I-- Present tense, past tense, was part of her guard.

SAM: Well, if it's important to you, it's important to us. So we'll just keep digging in.

LIAM: I appreciate it.

LAURA: How are you going to get word back? If you do figure it out, do you have to go all the way back to Zephrah?

LIAM: I haven't thought that far ahead. I probably could find a way.

LAURA: To send word?

LIAM: To send word back, and if need be, I'll go back.

TALIESIN: Wow.

LAURA: Well, then I hope it takes a while because I do like having y'all around.

ASHLEY: Aw!

TALIESIN: Yeah, it's not bad.

SAM: That's nice.

TALIESIN: So I feel like we've got some options.

SAM: Yeah, but to the theater again?

TALIESIN: Well, here's my feeling is we've put the word out. Plenty of people now know what we're looking for. So I figure that trouble's going to find us one way or another. In the meantime, we have a lead, and we have a theater, and we have a reason to get--

SAM: Ermahgerd?

TALIESIN: We have a very easy, easy in to the theater.

ROBBIE: Oh.

LAURA: You can audition!

ASHLEY: (gasps)

ROBBIE: What?

SAM: We can pose as your managers.

ROBBIE: (unhappily) Oh.

MARISHA: And your road crew.

ROBBIE: (unconvinced) Mm-hmm!

SAM: And you can audition to get in. Or we could just ask the owner.

TALIESIN: Well, maybe if you get a show, you can get backstage,

ROBBIE: We could use your friend as well.

TALIESIN: Ooh, Anni, uh.

LAURA: Ooh, Anni.

SAM: Let's go scope it out, just see what this theater's like.

LAURA: Let's see if it's fancy, if we got to dress up for it or not.

TALIESIN: Worst case, I'm going to rustle a few more bushes of my own that I kind of have to do alone at some point. See if I can pull anything out of thin air, but that's further down the line.

ROBBIE: Seems like we've got a lot of irons in the fire.

TALIESIN: Well, if you put them out there, something eventually, something will snap back. I don't know if that metaphor worked.

MARISHA: No.

SAM: So should we get out of this old person's bedroom?

LAURA: Well, technically, it's our room. Yeah, let's get out.

TALIESIN: Technically, you are the oldest, I think. I actually don't know that. At the moment, I'm assuming you're the oldest.

MARISHA: Well, I mean, he might be.

LAURA: Well, he's only two.

TALIESIN: They're two.

MARISHA: Oh, it's true.

ROBBIE: I wouldn't go making bets on it.

LAURA: Oh, how old are you, Dorian?

ROBBIE: Oh, well, 27.

TALIESIN: I'll make a bet on anything, I don't know.

LAURA: Insight check. You're like 70 years old or something.

MATT: Make an insight check.

TALIESIN: Also, have an impressive skincare regimen.

LAURA: One.

MATT: (wheezes)

SAM: 27.

ROBBIE: I am 27, 27.

TALIESIN: It's a Dremel with a polishing wheel.

ASHLEY: I'm 27. I'm 17. I'm 17! (laughter)

SAM: All right, we're getting out of here.

TALIESIN: All right, let's go.

MATT: Where're you heading to?

TALIESIN: To see if there's tickets to the theater.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: On the way out, I'll just-- What's her name?

LAURA and MARISHA: Zhudanna.

SAM: Zhudanna, thank you. Thank you for your hospitality, and congratulations on a life well-lived, and hearts changed, and love spread. You really did it.

MATT: "Oh, you're extremely sweet. A little macabre." (laughter) "But I appreciate all of you coming. I hope you enjoyed your food."

TALIESIN: Thank you for the fruit cup.

MATT: "Any time."

TALIESIN: Mm!

LAURA: On the way out, I'm just going to give Zhudanna 20 gold.

MATT: "Oh, oh, Imogen, this is far too much. This is, please, I don't even know what to do with this."

LAURA: I'm going to tuck it away in her knitting supplies. I'm going to leave.

MATT: All right.

MARISHA: We'll bring back some produce.

MATT: "Thank you, potatoes!"

MARISHA and LAURA: Potatoes!

MATT: "If you don't mind."

LAURA: Writing it down, potatoes. Are you almost out of eggs? Eggs, bread.

MATT: "Yes."

LAURA: Oh, I ate all the bread. Bread.

MATT: "Bread as well!"

MARISHA: Bread, potatoes.

MATT: "You're so kind, thank you."

MARISHA: I'll pick up more plantains as well.

MATT: "All right." (laughter)

TALIESIN: A little iffy on plantains, but okay.

MARISHA: We will mix it up. We'll see what's in the market.

MATT: We can continue to role-play the shopping list, if you'd like.

SAM: Nope, let's not.

LAURA and TALIESIN: No.

MATT: But (laughs).

LAURA: I-- (laughter)

TALIESIN: I mean, that voice is entertaining, but--

MATT: I don't know where the fuck that came from.

MARISHA: So cute.

ASHLEY: I love her.

LIAM: I want a French toast with plantains.

LAURA: God, that sounds so good.

ASHLEY: Oh, so good.

TALIESIN: Anyway.

MATT: All right, so you are heading towards where?

SAM and TALIESIN: The theater!

MATT: All right.

LAURA: (exaggerated) The theater.

MATT: Now, you know exactly where it is, though you've not been a patron of it in a long time, if at all.

TALIESIN: I go to a show on occasion.

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: I wrote down the shopping list.

MATT: But as Ashton brings you around, it's on the opposite side of the Core Spire where a majority of the main streets are here. It sits in a space where there are other shops and a smaller thoroughfare than where the Spire by Fire, and the main street is, as it prefers to domineer over the space that it occupies. You can see why, as you come around the corner. Even in the midday, late afternoon time that you arrive, you can see amongst the other one to two-story buildings that you can see at a glance are either residential or smaller business-oriented. Already, you can see the three-story, pagoda-esque display of this scalloped, multi-tiered roof that is covered in dangling magically-lit bobbles that just swing with the wind. As they glow even bright enough that in the mid bright jungle daylight, they still can't help but catch your eye as you turn the corner and see the deep crimson, purple-trim set roof that sets this tiered rising structure. There upon it, you can see all manner of posters that are placed upon each level. You can see performers and dancers frozen in time. As you look and focus, you watch, they're not frozen, they're gently moving. Each of these is some sort of an arcane image that is placed upon the side that is capturing a moment in time that slowly passes. You assume from either some past performance or some hopeful artistic endeavor, but it is a kinetic sculpture as much as it is a structure. As you get closer, you can see in the lights, there are posters, there is a soft music that emanates from within, a massive double door that is gilded in gold around the edges. It is extravagant. It is, dare I say, gaudy, in comparison to everything else around it. You see a neighborhood that consists of earth tones and muted colors, and in the middle of it is this screaming gem of a structure that's saying, "Come and look at me." This is the Dreamscape Theater. So you can see, at this point in the afternoon, it looks like there isn't a performance happening, but there are people that are beginning to arrive, people that are entering, and you do see within the immediate entrance, there appears to be two pedestals and individuals that are having conversations or taking tickets. You're unable to see from this distance, but there is a little bit of business going on within the interior.

LAURA: Should we just go see if we can talk to the owner?

SAM: Sure.

LAURA: Sure, I'll walk up to the person.

SAM: I mean, they might not want to talk about patrons getting kidnapped from their premises.

LAURA: But if we say-- Oh, we're not to say who we were sent by. Are we ever allowed to say who we were sent by?

ASHLEY: Oh.

SAM: We could!

ROBBIE: Or, we could see who's playing tonight.

TALIESIN: That was my thought.

LAURA: Yeah, sure.

TALIESIN: Get some tickets. See a show, you know, for work.

LIAM: Maybe we could just start with rumors with other audience members.

LAURA: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

LIAM: Gossip and scuttlebutt.

TALIESIN: Look at that.

MARISHA: And any employee loves to gossip.

TALIESIN: That, too.

ROBBIE: What do the other people look like that are coming in here? Are they dressed up, or are they dressed down, or is it normal?

MATT: At a quick glance, you could see it's an array, but the baseline is moderate to some that are a little more well-dressed for an evening out at a performance. You do see wandering in the outskirts, a couple of what would be considered the lower-class folk of Jrusar, but some of them are looking hopeful, or others are just maybe waiting for other individuals they're meeting up with. It's a wide spread here. You get the sense that this isn't an exclusive space that only caters to the Mahaan Houses and the elites. This is definitely a place that has a tiered structure to welcome anyone who has the gold to pay and to see the performances that can be found within.

LIAM: You know, if you volunteer as an usher, you can see it for free.

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MATT: Oh my god.

MARISHA: Standing room only.

LIAM: No experience with that.

TALIESIN: Wow.

MATT: Too real.

LIAM: Just a thing I heard. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Should I check on tickets?

LAURA: Yeah, let's see what's going on.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: Is there a ticket booth?

ASHLEY: Ticket window?

MATT: Not like a window at the exterior, this is not a classic here--

ASHLEY: Just asking a question.

MATT: But glancing inside, you can see there are two individuals that are dressed in similar attire. That is long black, drapery-like robes that fall off the mantle and cover most of their material-- Like most of their form, it looks like it's a long dress that essentially obscures most of their body. Beyond their hands, a little bit of gold trim around it that matches what you can see inside of the main antechamber that leads deeper into the theater. In the actual main performance chamber, a similar black aesthetic with gold trim around it. You can, at a glance, see there is a familiar uniformed connection between them. You see, to the right of you, and engaged in conversation with probably a little more, you know, middle-class couple and a little bit of laughing, passing conversation. A human woman, probably in her early forties, who is engaged there. To the right, you see currently unattended as the individuals that we're speaking with move into the main theater proper, a halfling man in probably his late twenties or so is standing on a pedestal to match the height of the other individual. But the cloak they're wearing, that robe aesthetic, moves past and beyond and puts them on a similar stature. It's only the proportions of the shoulders and the arms and your familiarity with traveling with Orym for so long, that immediately lets free the idea that this is a halfling individual. But you see him, he has a very, very well trimmed beard that is tight to his, you know, somewhat thin face and features. His hair is definitely combed at a unique swish of an angle. It gives it a thin artistic presentation of what would be considered the general aesthetics of the city around you. And as you make eye contact with him, he glances over to you with arms open.

ASHLEY: Oh. Yes, hello. Is this where you purchase tickets for the show?

MATT: "If you have not already purchased a ticket for the afternoon matinee performance, you may purchase them here, yes."

ASHLEY: Okay, how much are they?

MATT: "Uh, where do you wish to sit? There are three sections of which you can purchase seats. Our available matinees are not quite as busy this day, but if you would like the front stage seating arrangement, that would run about 10 gold per seat. If you'd prefer the middle region of it, about a gold per seat. If you would like the challenged back seats, those will run you about two silvers each."

SAM: You might want to rethink their section names.

LAURA: Is there-- I know! (laughter)

LAURA: Are there any seats, like box seats, that overlook the rest of the audience as well?

MATT: "There are, but I believe they are currently sold out for the matinee, my apologies."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MARISHA: Do you need any ushers? (laughter)

MATT: "No, I think we're fine, but thank you."

MARISHA: We volunteer, or okay.

MATT: "We're good, thank you."

MARISHA: All right.

LAURA: What about for the evening performance?

MATT: "Oh, ushers for the evening performance?"

LAURA: No, the box seats.

MATT: "I'd have to look at the current sale schedule, but usually the evenings are busier than the matinees."

LAURA: Right.

ASHLEY: We can wait, while you look.

ROBBIE: Oh, are you sure they're sold out? I'm going to reach into my coin purse, and I'm going to pull out-- 10 platinum. (gasping, oohs)

LAURA: Wait a minute, wait a minute. How much fucking money do you have? You have 10 fucking platinum?

MATT: All right, you pull out 10 platinum and he looks at you strangely, and then his eyes go wide.

MATT: "Oh, I'm sorry, there must've been a mistake. Oh, there is indeed availability within the left box seating arrangements that, of course, are immediately at your disposal."

ASHLEY: Big mistake, huge.

LAURA: You work on commission?

ROBBIE: Thank you so much for your help. I'm going to shake his hand with the money.

LAURA: You're going to give him-- You're giving him 10 platinum for that. You're giving him 10-- okay.

MATT: "It is indeed my absolute pleasure. And do not worry, we will handle and take care of everything that you and your compatriots would need for the evening."

SAM: Evening or afternoon? Did you get matinee or evening tickets?

ROBBIE: Right now.

SAM: Right now, matinee.

ASHLEY: Is there--

MATT: Yeah, we'll say-- Look at that, it's sunset. (cheering) Early sunset.

TALIESIN: We had a very nice lunch.

LIAM: The night comes on fast here in Jrusar.

MARISHA: It's a jungle, you know, you're right on the equator.

MATT: It's the time of the year where the sun goes down earlier.

TALIESIN: It's like 4:00, what's happening? (laughter) It's a joke for the Americans.

MATT: Immediately claps, and looks-- (hisses) off to somebody you don't notice. You see like two individuals behind a curtain within this main antechamber, look, and they wander off. What were you going to say?

ASHLEY: Do you have auditions? How does that work?

MATT: "Not for the show tonight. There is-- it is very much a set troupe performing."

ASHLEY: Who's playing?

MATT: "This is--"

SAM: Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah. Here we go.

MATT: "Kendra's Flying Lauders."

MARISHA: Kendra's Flying Lauders.

LIAM: What was that last word?

MATT: "Lauders."

LIAM: Lauders rhymes with otters?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: Oh, I wish it was otters. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Man, I'd pay money to see little otters fly. Fuck. Flying otters.

LAURA: Would you pay 10 platinum? Because we already did.

LIAM: For a flying otter, wouldn't you?

TALIESIN: I mean, fair.

SAM: Before you show us to our seats, we've heard tell that some of the patrons have--

LAURA: Just jumping in?

SAM: -- gone missing?

MATT: "I have not heard of such a thing. That's so-- that's absurd. The rumors that spread in this city by ill folk. How are you talking? You--"

SAM: Oh, everybody talks.

MATT: "Terribly sorry, I believe your-- Your machine is malfunctioning."

TALIESIN: Insight check. 11.

MATT: 11, you don't get much, but you get the sense this isn't a line more than they're like, what are you doing? We're in a public space here with people who are paying tickets to be here, what do you? No, of course that never happened. You get a sense this is someone denying something, that maybe they're just like-- No.

TALIESIN: It's not like they were going to, yeah.

SAM: Okay, good to know.

ASHLEY: I really love your jacket.

MARISHA: Oh no.

MATT: "Thank you."

TALIESIN: Oh no. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I'm going to try to take the 10 platinum out of his pocket.

LIAM and TALIESIN: Whoa.

MATT: Make a sleight of hand, Fearne.

ASHLEY: This is dumb.

MATT: I love dumb.

ASHLEY: It's cocked.

LAURA: Goddamn it. Oh god.

ASHLEY: Dirty 20.

LAURA: Oh, dirty 20, dirty 20.

SAM: Roll off.

MATT: As you lean in and grab the robe--

ASHLEY: What a lovely lapel.

MATT: "Oh, thank you so much. It's part of the attire of the establishment, but it is not for sale." He takes it and tugs it back.

ASHLEY: Oh, I-- Of course not.

MATT: "It is our presentation aesthetic, if you will."

ASHLEY: Ah, just so well made.

MATT: "Well, thank you. Well, given the fact that you are patrons of the arts, to a certain degree, if you wish to find the name of the individual responsible for making these fine garments, I could pass that to you before the end of the show tonight."

ASHLEY: Oh, I would love that.

MATT: "I'll go ahead and ask around."

ASHLEY: Oh, thank you so much.

MATT: "But nevertheless-- Hello, Siran, could you please show our guests to the lower right box as they are our esteemed guests and patrons for the night."

MARISHA: Well, all right.

SAM: Thank you.

MATT: You see as a dragonborn comes from through the curtain, looks like an older dragonborn, the scaled brows are droopy on the eyes a bit. The snout drags a bit. It's like dark blue scales that go to a lighter blue at the tips of the snout.

LIAM: Like a basset hound.

MATT: Yeah, very much like a dragonborn basset hound, it comes through and says, "Okay. I'll show you to your box."

SAM: Thank you.

MATT: Shuffles past and leads you on wearing a similar garb, though shorter, not quite as long as the halfling as you pass by. You do recover six platinum. (cheering)

ASHLEY: I wasn't going to take all of it.

ROBBIE: Of course.

ASHLEY: So this is good. Okay, great.

MARISHA: Pretty good, pretty good.

MATT: With a low roll, you might've found something that wasn't the platinum. (laughs)

ASHLEY: I rolled a 19, so.

LAURA: Damn!

TALIESIN: Siran, you like working here?

MATT: "Ah, it's been fine. I've been here most of my 10 years here in Jrusar. Yes."

ASHLEY: 21.

TALIESIN: Say, one of the reasons we came down, we've been hearing like crazy rumors about some of the stuff going down here. Now, like off the record, you wouldn't have any interesting story? We've heard people disappearing, strange things happening at the theater.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

TALIESIN: Fuck. Nope.

MARISHA: He's going the hard way.

TALIESIN: Four.

SAM: (laughs)

MARISHA: Oh my god, you are so bad.

MATT: "I'm terribly sorry, sir. I haven't heard anything. Not quite sure what you're talking about. We are but a humble home for the arts here in Jrusar."

TALIESIN: Yep, yep.

MATT: "I'll show you to your seats."

TALIESIN: Sorry I asked. That's good.

MATT: As you are all walking through, there's like-- What order are you guys heading in?

SAM: Ooh, oh, marching order.

LAURA: I imagine Dorian would have been in the lead.

MATT: It depends, I don't know how you're feeling.

ROBBIE: Yeah, stick with the act of air of importance, yeah.

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: I'm in the back.

SAM: I'll be next to Dorian.

LAURA: I'll be next to you.

LIAM: How about the dead lady in the center?

MARISHA: That's fine.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: I'll be next to FCG, wherever that was.

MATT: Okay, all right.

LAURA: Look like three bodyguards walking behind him.

MATT: You all are led to the box. There's a small door off to the side that leads you to a staircase that leads you into the lower box where you're situated, before it passes onto the upper level. There inside, you can see it's only six chairs arranged in this space. The dragonborn gentlemen goes, "Oh, my apologies, there must have been a miscount. We only have six seats in this box."

SAM: That's all right, I don't need to sit. I'll be fine.

MATT: "Very well. Enjoy the show." He closes the curtain behind him as you all stand there. The stage is lit, though empty, with the curtain closed at the moment.

ROBBIE: All right.

SAM: Have you been to shows like this in the past? I mean, do you know what we're going to see?

ROBBIE: No, nothing like it.

SAM: They give you a playbill or anything?

ROBBIE: Oh, no, I didn't get one. I check my seat for a playbill sitting on the seat for us?

MATT: There is no playbill. (laughs)

LAURA: No. No program.

LIAM: What's the biggest place you-- Oh, you go.

TALIESIN: No, I was just scanning the audience, scanning the room, seeing how good of a view we have.

MATT: Make a perception check.

TALIESIN: Aw, man.

MARISHA: So what was the last show you saw?

LAURA: How high above the rest of the crowd are we?

TALIESIN: 16.

LAURA: How high is this seat?

MATT: You're not in the upper box. You're in the lower box below it. So you're maybe 10 feet above the floor.

MARISHA: Perfect.

MATT: So you're like, you guys are actually in really good seats. You're just above stage level on the left-hand side.

TALIESIN: Never had seats this good for anything.

MARISHA: I know, this is nice.

MATT: What'd you roll?

TALIESIN: 16.

MATT: 16? I mean, people are filtering in, it looks like it's probably not going to be a full house for this matinee. But it's got a decent enough crowd. People from all over coming in. You can see up front, of course, there are people that are well dressed that are making a night of this experience. This is the first step of their evening out. Other folks are filling the space to the very back. You can see there are a handful of soot-covered workers that are in the process of taking off gloves. So they came here right after work, and some of them look excited. This is something they've been looking forward to. This was their treat for the week, if you will.

TALIESIN: I'm trying to clock people, trying to clock exits. Just want a general sense of who's where if anyone's hanging back.

MATT: Yeah, totally.

ROBBIE: From our angle, can we see into the wings a little bit? From where we're at all?

LIAM: On the diagonal?

ROBBIE: Yeah.

MATT: At a diagonal, no, because the curtains are closed.

ROBBIE: Oh, they're closed, okay.

MATT: There is a small pocket there, but it's so darkly lit from this distance. Make a perception check for me.

TALIESIN: Good call.

ROBBIE: 18.

MATT: 18. You can see some motion back there. Not much beyond that, but as you scan back--

SAM: Oh!

ASHLEY: Whispers! Whispers!

LAURA: Woo!

TALIESIN: So many whispers tonight! We're playing Dr. Whispers.

SAM: The Exandria Postcard six-pack set features postcards from Emon, Rexxentrum, Roshona, Aeor, Ank'Harel, and Vasselheim.

TALIESIN: Whoa.

MARISHA and LIAM: Roshona.

SAM: What did I say?

MARISHA: You said Roshona, but so it should be Rosohna.

SAM: Happy Rosh Hashanah, everybody. Whitestone joggers exist. (laughter)

TALIESIN: And we're back.

SAM: That's it.

MARISHA: They're very comfy.

LAURA: They are.

MARISHA: I'm wearing them.

LAURA: You're wearing the Nicodranas one!

MARISHA: Bam! Sorry.

SAM: Or rent.

TALIESIN: Share. Okay.

LIAM: I've never even been in a building like this. What is the largest you've ever played?

ROBBIE: Nothing like this, ever. It's amazing. I'm just excited for the show, but I know we have things to do, but I'm excited for the show. Can I be both, is that all right?

LIAM: Is this like a lower C, or a lower D, like how many-- How many seats-- (laughter)

ROBBIE: Do lower Ds even still exists? What's the Equity contract? Is it 768 a week?

TALIESIN: This is the group for this event, I don't know if anybody else can appreciate what's happening as much as this group can.

MATT: There's a few of you guys out there.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LIAM: All the theater kids are watching.

MATT: Oh yeah.

LIAM: How many seats in the house, roughly?

MATT: Roughly, at a quick glance, you'd say probably in the neighborhood of 200 and 250. It's not massive.

LIAM: I want to go back to the theater.

MARISHA: Wow, it's tiny. Well, okay, by comparison. I look up.

MATT: They're comfortable, they're not like tight, like packed modern theater seats. Like every seat is somewhat comfortable and spread out a bit in the space.

MARISHA: Cabaret style.

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Like, room at the front for--

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: I'd say, actually, including the very, very back row, which is a little more just scattered stools and stuff, there's probably a additional hundred seats beyond that that are just uncomfortable wooden stools to sit on. But the actual seat-seats you see are probably about 250.

TALIESIN: Old school, you got to rent the pillow.

MARISHA: Yeah, is it-- How high are the ceilings? Can I see, is there a grid?

MATT: There is.

MARISHA: Is there a cat walk? Can people come in "Phantom Of The Opera" style?

TALIESIN: They've been running Phantom, so there's a giant chandelier.

ROBBIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MARISHA: You can keep peeking through it.

TALIESIN: Still swaying from the previous performance.

MATT: Yeah. And just like Phantom, the cast has done it 600 times and you can tell they're just not into it. They are just fucking over it and ready to jump into a river.

ROBBIE: Funny.

LIAM: (flatly) ♪ This I swear by the stars ♪

ROBBIE: Oh no.

MATT: Anyway. There is no grid, but you do see, there are two upper platforms in each far end, a little bit back and above the box above where you are, where you can see there are individuals holding some sort of tubed arcane device that has like a faint glow at the tip. You're uncertain what it's used for.

LIAM: Pyrotechnics.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: T-shirt cannon, for sure.

MATT: Yeah! (laughter) Roll to attack! (laughter)

TALIESIN: T-shirts going to fuck with your AC, man. Don't put that on.

LIAM: Ranged attack.

MARISHA: All right.

MATT: The dragonborn usher that brought you here comes through the curtains once more and goes, "I'm terribly sorry. You-- There is a patron who wishes to speak with you."

ROBBIE: Oh. A patron, sure? Where?

MATT: "Just below."

ASHLEY: They can come up here.

MATT: "They're not allowed up here."

ASHLEY: But we paid for this, can't we have anybody up here that we want?

MATT: "I suppose so."

ROBBIE: Bring them up.

ASHLEY: Unless you want to go alone?

ROBBIE: No, no--

MATT: "I'll go ask."

ROBBIE: Thank you.

MATT: Shuffles back out in heads down.

TALIESIN: Patron, patron, patron?

MARISHA: I like the flex.

LAURA: Yeah, that was a good flex.

ASHLEY: It's just I didn't want you to go alone. These Whoppers are delicious. (laughter) I haven't had one in a while.

ROBBIE: I do not know who would know me here, but I will say this, as our friend said, we are very conspicuous. I saw someone from the Corsairs.

MARISHA: What?

SAM: Here?

ROBBIE: Following us.

MARISHA: How do you know?

ROBBIE: I saw them, we saw them before at the Elder. I can't recall the name.

SAM: Elder's Post?

ROBBIE: Yes, yes.

SAM: But we'll see who this is if they come up, and if they don't, if you go down, maybe you should take one of us with you, just as a--

ROBBIE: Yes, I'd rather not die, yeah.

TALIESIN: Happily, happily. I am in the mood to punch something.

MATT: A few moments pass, and you can see more people are filtering in, finding their seats. You begin to see a handful of musicians that are beginning to head over towards the front of the stage into a small pit up front. They all look like they're just coming to punch in for the day. (laughs)

TALIESIN: Too real.

ROBBIE: Sad.

LIAM: Respect.

MATT: We've all been there. Until eventually, the usher returns again. "The patron is-- Wishes to speak with you alone."

ROBBIE: Oh, just a moment.

MATT: "Of course."

SAM: I guess you got to go.

TALIESIN: Sending Stone?

ASHLEY: Oh, that's a good idea.

SAM: Or do you want to be a mouse or something?

LAURA: I've got a few minutes.

TALIESIN: I toss you the Sending Stone anyway.

ROBBIE: All right, remind me, how does this?

LIAM: You rub it with your thumb.

ROBBIE: Rub, rub, and they say--

LAURA: Yeah, you have to say it.

ROBBIE: I've got to think.

LAURA: I will have mental connection with you for a few minutes, at least.

ROBBIE: All right.

ASHLEY: Would you like me to come with you, or do you want to go alone?

ROBBIE: I think he said I have to go alone.

TALIESIN: Try and stay within sight. If you're not in sight of this box, make sure that where you are is in that message. We'll come running at full speed.

ROBBIE: All right.

LIAM: See if you can meet him in the house.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

ROBBIE: Okay. Keep it public. All right, I g-g-guess I'll go. Need to use the restroom, anyway. And I'll go downstairs.

MATT: Okay. You head down the stairs a little bit after the usher's already left. As you're heading down the stairway, make a perception check for me.

ASHLEY: I don't like this at all.

LAURA: I don't, either.

ASHLEY: What if this is how people get taken?

ROBBIE: Five.

MATT: Five. As you were about to leave the staircase into the open light of the arrangement, you feel a hand grab your chest from the side, a person who was hiding in the shadow there that you didn't notice, who just holds you there. A voice goes, "What are you doing?"

ROBBIE: We, w-w-we're just here to see a show.

MATT: "No, what are you doing?"

MATT: I-I'm-- We're searching for, we heard someone was missing here.

MATT: You look up and you can see like the gauntlet-ed hand of the leather-clad individual, the hood that just barely visible from the light that's creeping through from beyond the curtain, from the main chamber itself, holding you there. He pulls the hood back and you can see there's the squared jaw and wavy mop of shoulder-length black hair with the gold septum piercing. Sea glass green eyes of the burly, familiar visage of Cyrus Wyvernwind. Who goes, "What are you doing?"

ROBBIE: I'm on my own. Let go of me! And I'm going to push his hand away.

MATT: He looks nervously about. "We need to talk."

ROBBIE: Here, now?

MATT: "Soon."

ROBBIE: Fine. Just-- How are you here? How did you get away?

MATT: "Same way you did."

ROBBIE: No. Mother, Father, what are they doing without you?

MATT: "I don't know. I just-- followed your lead." As he looks down at you, your taller brother.

MARISHA: (gasps)

MATT: "Maybe we are meant to wander, I don't know." His hand reaches out, and this time less aggressively, but he presses it against your chest and says-- "We'll talk."

ROBBIE: We should.

MATT: "After."

ROBBIE: All right.

MATT: Then just goes through the curtain and back into the main room.

ROBBIE: I'll take a minute to collect myself, and give it a second, however long I think it would take. And then I'll go back upstairs, shake it off, and I'll pull back the curtain to our booth. Just a lot of nothing. Someone who'd seen me play at a-- Well, I told you I'm from here. Maybe they saw me playing, saw me up in the seats, and they were wondering if I was part of the show. If I knew anyone, just an old patron.

SAM: You're famous.

ROBBIE: No! Well, I guess so, if someone recognized me from that far away, thanks.

SAM: Pretty cool.

ROBBIE: Appreciate it. Anyway, I'm so excited for the show.

MATT: At this point, you start hearing the different instruments beginning to warm up a bit. Begin to play. The interior of the room, the chatter and laughter and whispers, and the sounds of an audience growing impatient begins to subside as the music begins to swell. As the lights begin to brighten from those two platforms, an arcane beam of magical sunlight emitted onto the stage from above onto the curtain. As the room falls into silence, beyond the music playing. As you all adjust to your positions, look out over. Dorian, you just can't help but be lost in thought. As we finish there for tonight. (shouting and groaning)

MARISHA: Damn it.

LIAM: I'm going to sneak one last little detail in there. That is that as soon as Dorian gets back, Orym untenses his hand and realizes how hard he's been gripping Sending Stone. Then shoves it back into his pack.

MATT: You got it. We'll pick up from there next week at the Dreamscape Theater. (laughs)

TALIESIN: So much intrigue.

LIAM: Ah, I want to go to the theater.

SAM: You've got a brother?

ROBBIE: I do.

SAM: And you've got a letter?

TALIESIN: Yes, I do. You got three of them, so.

LIAM: And you're dead?

LAURA: And you got money? (laughter)

TALIESIN: What the fuck's that about?

MARISHA: You learn so much about-- (laughter)

MATT: Oh, I love it. All righty, we'll pick up from there next week.

ASHLEY: Damn it, I want to keep playing!

MATT: I know, I know. Thank you all so much for joining us. We'll see you next week to continue this adventure. We love you very much, and is it Thursday yet? Good night. (cheering)

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