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List of Transcripts

Pre-Show[]

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

TRAVIS: We play Dungeons & Dragons!

MATT: We are already in top form tonight, if you couldn't tell. Before we go ahead and jump into our story, let's go ahead and get through some announcements for the evening. First, we have two wonderful sponsors tonight, beginning with our friends, who have continued through the first part of this campaign and to the new year, D&D Beyond. Sam?

SAM: D&D Beyond! Is the camera on me? I can't tell. It is on me! D&D; Beyond, everybody. Last week we kicked off my campaign to become president of D&D Beyond. That campaign will continue through a lot of the year. We have lots of big things planned, but the campaign is taking a week off this week. Instead, I spent most of this week making an infomercial for our good friends at D Beyond. I shot, I edited it, I added music. It's a really cool piece. It talks about all the great features of D&D Beyond, how it streamlines game-play, and you should all go subscribe to it right now at dndbeyond.com. Anyway, I made this infomercial. I'm going to give it to Max right now.

LIAM: I am so nervous right now.

SAM: He's going to pop it up there and play it. I think you guys will like it. I'm an auteur, so don't be too critical. Whenever it's loaded up, Max, take it away.

(muffled, singing the D&D; Beyond theme song)

Okay, that was not the right video. Sorry about that. That was a technical glitch, Max; that was not the right one. You know what, play the next video on the thumb drive. I'm sure it's the next one down in the folder, so go ahead and hit play on-- the next video will probably be the one. Kids, kids, let me in. Let me in the house. Kids, this isn't funny. Kids? Okay, no, this is embarrassing. You know what, Max, it's probably not that folder. Try the other folder, the one labeled "Sam awesome stuff". Try that folder on the thumb drive and play-- I'm auditioning for the role of Joel on the movie-- the video game Last on Us? Last on Us. (clears throat) Take one. (high-pitched) Ellie, do you realize what your life means, running off like that? No, Max, no! It's "Sam awesome stuff 2019", not "Sam awesome stuff 2012". That was the wrong folder! Go to the one marked 2019 and play that one. Come on, Max, get it right. Play it! Hey, Liam. I'm waiting. When you get home tonight, I might be asleep, but it's okay. Wake me up, okay? (kiss noise) Love you, baby. Bye.

TRAVIS: (screaming)

SAM: I'm sorry, that was not supposed to be for the public. That was something that I sexted to Liam. It was not supposed to be released.

TRAVIS: (retching)

SAM: The video that I made, it talked about how affordable D&D Beyond is, how you can get your content, your guides, your campaign guides, all in one place. There's content for DMs and players. It really makes the whole process great. You know what, I think it would be safe to play all the rest of the videos. Go ahead and play all of the rest of the videos.

[sensual music] [beep]

Come on, guys, let me in the house.

[beep] [rock music] [beep] [pop music] [beep]

SAM: Now that I'm thinking about it, I think that was the other thumb drive that I left at home, and I think this one-- Max, I apologize. I think this one's on me, so I apologize, and I apologize to D&D Beyond. Please subscribe now.

LIAM: Technically still awesome stuff, though.

TRAVIS: I can't unsee that.

MARISHA: Don't let Travis lie to you; he's got a half-er.

TRAVIS: I am doing the forward lean.

MATT: I thought I felt it under the table.

TALIESIN and LAURA: No!

MATT: Thank you, D&D Beyond, for being our fantastic sponsor in spite of Sam Riegel giving your announcements every week.

LIAM: Are they still our sponsor? Can we check on that?

SAM: Yeah, they have canceled the contract.

TRAVIS: All of our pages are blank.

MATT: Sam is not doing this next intro. As for our second sponsor tonight, our friends at Idle Champions. For those who aren't familiar with Idle Champions-- Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is the full name of it. It's a D&D; strategy video game that brings a variety of popular D&D characters together for the first time in one world. You can play it on PC, Steam and mobile, iPad and Android, but apparently now it's available on Xbox and PS4, which is awesome. You have characters from Drizzt of the Forgotten Realms all the way up to Arkhan, who you saw--

LIAM: The Cruel?

MATT: Arkhan the Cruel. The scourge of Vecna and Vox Machina. There's 200 unique quests based on official D&D content like Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, Curse of Strahd, and all those previous stories. It's all in there, so you can check it out at critrole.com/idlechampions for more information. On next Wednesday, January 23rd at 5:00pm Pacific, here on our Twitch channel, here at Critical Role, tune into Pub Draw--

MARISHA: Pub Draw!

MATT: The new creative series featuring art lessons from our fantastic friend of the family, Babs Tarr. She teaches Marisha and then other members of the extended family how to draw. And you as well, as you follow along and do your own artwork. Between the Sheets is coming back very soon. The first episode of season two of Between the Sheets airs on Monday January 28th and 7:00pm Pacific here at twitch.tv/criticalrole. It's going to be awesome. This whole next season's awesome, so look forward to that. January 18th to the 20th, this weekend-- tomorrow! Saturday and Sunday, at Gallery Nucleus in Los Angeles, we have the Art of Exandria art show. We've been wanting to do an art show for so long, it's our first time actually being able to get it done! We saw pictures today; the setup looks amazing. Over 50 pieces of art from our fantastic Critter community will be on display there. If you're in the area, come check it out, hang out, run into other Critters. It looks to be a lot of fun this weekend, so hope to see you guys there. For more details on that, you can go to critrole.com/events. Then on January 19th, this Saturday, we're bringing back most of Vox Machina for our Search for Grog live show here in Los Angeles.

LIAM: What do you mean?

MARISHA: Spoilers, he doesn't know yet.

MATT: Sorry! Watch the last episode before coming to the show on Saturday. The VOD will be available in February. Check out critrole.com for the announcement and be sure to stay tuned for more info as it becomes available. All right, I believe--

LIAM: I've got one announcement.

MATT: Well then, throw it in there, Liam!

LIAM: Tomorrow on Netflix, Carmen Sandiego, the new cartoon starts! Mary Elizabeth and I play bad guys. It is a gorgeous cartoon. I can't wait. The whole thing's going to vomit onto Netflix tomorrow. Check it out.

LAURA: No. I mean not that, he showed me a picture of his nipples, and I said no. Yes to Carmen Sandiego, though.

SAM: I don't think she likes Carmen Sandiego.

TRAVIS: Where in the world is-- no!

MARISHA: That's such strong feelings.

MATT: Well, all of us had strong feelings when it comes to a capella. Don't we, Sam?

SAM: (singing) Hmm-bop, boop ba doop a mmmbop.

MATT: Bow! Without further ado friends, at the end of the announcements, I think it is time for us to dive into tonight's episode of Critical Role.

[water bubbling] [thunder] [explosion] (chanting) Role! Critical! Role! [dramatic Critical Role theme] LAURA: Roll the dice! (singing) The adventure begins, they were always beside you, your nerdy best friends, and the DM to guide you. And they rise from the flames for the battles ahead. Villains beware 'cause you're about to be dead. ASHLEY: (singing) They got magic and flair, they got falchions and cunning. They don't see over there there's a monster incoming. Inspiration is waiting, rise up, don't think twice. Put your fate in your hands, take a chance, roll the dice! (chanting) Role! Critical! Role! ASHLEY and LAURA: (singing) Can you answer the call? Diggin' deep in your soul as the legend unfolds. Now it's your turn to roll! [fire burning]

Part I[]

MATT: You guys are slow on the draw tonight. Welcome back.

SAM: I don't know. I said "burglary taint." I was caught between two Carmen Sandiego things.

LIAM: For some reason, not as funny as just "bobs."

MATT: Getting creative now.

TALIESIN: You're giving people a peek behind the curtain right now.

LIAM: We've been doing this for four years.

TALIESIN: I know, fair.

MATT: So last we left off, The Mighty Nein, after finishing their journey to the secondary temple of Uk'otoa's sealing, managed to deliver the second of the collected orbs and bring him one step closer to his release. You then exited back to your ship, which another ship was found to be giving chase, apparently notified by your presence from the large geyser that erupted from the ocean due to the unsealing. A short chase then commenced, leading to a much shorter battle.

TALIESIN: Thank you, next.

TRAVIS: Disadvantage the whole game.

MATT: Yeah. All said and done, hearing rumors about possible dangers continuing to push deeper into the empire from the Xhorhasian hordes, you begin to make your way back towards the direction of the empire. Getting your things in order, you've made your way back through the Swavain Islands and you are just now entering the port of Nicodranas.

LAURA: Nicodranas!

MATT: As you approach, Mighty Nein, what would you like to do? There's a person on the deck right now who's waving down and bringing you in, bringing out a spyglass to check your banner, your ship name. It looks like you're probably going to be in the process of checking in shortly.

TRAVIS: We forged those documents, right?

LAURA: Yes, we did. We forged them real good.

TRAVIS: What was the ship's name?

LAURA: We never changed it; it's still The Balleater.

TRAVIS: Okay, just checking. That makes sense.

MARISHA: I think I just got his name as Wharfmaster. Male dwarf, matted beard, thick gold hoops.

MATT: Wharfmaster Ignus.

TRAVIS: That's right, Ignus.

LIAM: Are we making any attempt to hide our persons, disguise our persons?

LAURA: I think so, yeah.

SAM: Smart, smart, always smart.

TRAVIS: I will Mask of Many Faces and give myself a bald head with a nice little red flavor saver right here, and very expensive red and gold-looking flowy stuff.

MATT: Okay, all right. Anybody else changing their appearance upon entry?

TALIESIN: Sure. I'll go for my standard shaggy red-headed mess.

MATT: You got it.

LAURA: Yeah. I guess I'm going to be human with black hair instead of blue hair.

SAM: I will also change. I want to see what it would be like to be a goblin still, except with not green skin. Let's pick a different color.

MATT: What different color?

LAURA: Do you want to be blue? Blue's a really good color.

SAM: Maybe pink. Something that's like, "Oh, that's not a monster."

TRAVIS: Not ostentatious, or attracts attention at all.

LAURA: Really nice to look at. Like, "Look at that little pink girl!"

SAM: Yeah. "That's a little pink pixie thing" or something.

TRAVIS: Someone might try to kidnap you.

LAURA: Give yourself wings!

SAM: Wings?

LAURA: Yeah, little cute dragonfly wings on you.

SAM: The tiniest wings.

LAURA: Little teeney. You want dragonfly, or--?

SAM: Dragonfly wings, yes.

MATT: Okay. All right.

LIAM: Six inches shorter, brown hair, no beard and brown robes, like the simplest student.

MATT: Understood.

LAURA: I'm going to put some makeup on Beau over here.

MARISHA: And I brush my hair.

TALIESIN: Who are you? My god, what happened to Beau?

LAURA: I'm going to do Yasha's makeup again, but I'm not going to make her look like a snake person this time. This time she's going to look real cute. I'm going to put some red lipstick on her, and maybe put her hair in a topknot.

MATT: Yasha accepts, does not really care to see what it looks like, but just trusts your opinion.

MARISHA: I grab one of Avantika's coats, rip the sleeves off of them, put it on.

MATT: (laughs) Avantika's coats don't have sleeves.

MARISHA: My kind of woman.

TALIESIN: Baller move.

MATT: You guys are pulled into the Restless Wharf. You are brought into the side, the ship is brought up against the dock, a couple of dockhands start to go on and help get the ship pulled in, tied off. Planks are put down. Ignus eventually comes back over and goes, "All right, so tell me, what is your ship? Paperwork, please!"

TRAVIS: This is the Balleater. It's been quite a while since we were in Nicodranas. I'm Captain Tristan.

MATT: "Captain Tristan."

TRAVIS: We will probably be here for, I don't know, an extended period of time. We might make our way up into the Empire. Do you have any extended rentals on the dock here?

MATT: At this point, behind, Orly leans in and goes: "Ahem. Captain, wasn't there a plan to run business in your stead?"

TRAVIS: Oh, yes, thank you, Orly. I'm so forgetful. Yes.

LAURA: Here's your documentation sir, Orly, sir.

MATT: Orly takes it. "Here you are." Hands it over to the Wharfmaster. Steps away for a minute, goes and checks everything, eventually comes back. That's the Wharfmaster. Misfires, finally.

SAM: Is he mocking Orly? Oh my god! The Wharfmaster's a dick!

MATT: He comes back. "Paperwork is all fine. All right, we will be talking." He points to Orly, and Orly gives him a nod. Looks back at the rest of you. "Well, you all be safe. Even if you got some of that fancy m-m-magic word stuff, right?"

LAURA: Yes, I will definitely send you a message if we need anything.

MATT: "I can too, probably."

LAURA: Oh! Awesome!

SAM: Really?

LAURA: He's magic.

MATT: "Y'all travel safe."

TRAVIS: Be well, Orly. Carry on.

LAURA: Take care of that crew, they're real good!

MATT: You watch as Marius, off the side, hands something to Orly, and Orly looks off to you all. "Don't worry, I fully intend to," and puts a captain hat on.

ALL: Yeah!

SAM: One of the cannons is broken. I found it that way, though, so you should probably fix that while we're gone.

MATT: Marius makes a note. With that, you guys have made your way back to Nicodranas. The bustling streets are there. It's early afternoon we'll say, about 1:30, 2:00 in the afternoon. There are a bunch of people currently dealing with shipments being taken out of ships, put back into ships. As when you were coming in, there's a number of naval vessels in the outskirts of the harbor as well. It's a busy time of the day, but no one seems to be paying you too much mind. The zhelezo are present, haven't gotten thicker immediate arrival, but you're still nervously keeping an eye out, though you have no real conspicuous presentation other than Beau. So what would you like to do? Where are you off to?

TALIESIN: I've had a thing I've been wanting to do for a while, and I figure now is possibly the time to take care of this. I want to find a blacksmith.

SAM: You seem unreasonably excited about that.

TALIESIN: Well, it's not often that I have a pet project. I haven't had one in a while, and that was the way I used to keep myself excited and busy back when I was home, so I've got a pet project. It's been a while.

SAM: Do you need any help? What, are you going to make something?

TALIESIN: I pull out the broken sword hilt that I have.

SAM: Oh, yeah, that.

TALIESIN: I'd love to see about getting this fixed, maybe, as a token of appreciation for Mr. Fjord for doing such a good job taking care of himself on his own quest and not getting sidelined into some bad thoughts.

TRAVIS: That is very thoughtful of you. Thank you!

TALIESIN: I also don't know how to find a blacksmith.

LAURA: Oh, I think I know a pretty good one!

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Access the memory banks. (warbling)

MATT: You can make a history check. As you, however, have not spent a lot of time traveling around Nicodranas, as much as you grew up here, you stayed indoors most of the time.

LAURA: I know of a really good one! I rolled a four.

MATT: You know of a really good one in Zadash.

LAURA: Oh, shit, I think it's in Zadash. That's where I got that box made, right?

SAM: Yeah, that metal box? Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, never mind.

TALIESIN: Metal box?

LAURA: Do you want it?

TALIESIN: I don't know, I've never had a metal box before.

SAM: We could probably ask around for a blacksmith.

TALIESIN: What do you do with it?

LAURA: Wait, I left it at the blacksmith.

TALIESIN: Oh, we're getting so afar. You just mimed a metal box.

LAURA: I did, yeah.

TALIESIN: That's amazing. You're very talented.

SAM: Let's go ask around for a blacksmith.

TRAVIS: I think Caleb had something to say.

LIAM: Jester.

LAURA: Yeah?

LIAM: What about a place that has writing materials? Paper and ink and that sort of thing?

LAURA: Oh, yeah, my mom was big on books.

TALIESIN: There's a joke in there.

MATT: Make a history check.

LAURA: It was a little bit better. 11.

MATT: You have not been to a bookstore, necessarily. Most of the books that you had were brought to you by your mom, but you could probably wander around and find one eventually.

LAURA: Yeah, I'll lead the way.

MATT: Okay, are you guys beelining it to a bookshop, then?

SAM: Why don't we split off and some of us can look for a blacksmith and some can look for a bookshop and then we'll reconnoiter somewhere.

TALIESIN: If the people looking for a bookstore find a blacksmith, they can send a little Message, and if the people looking for a blacksmith find a bookshop, I assume we should buy everything we see.

TRAVIS: Sure. I'll go to blacksmith with Caduce.

LAURA: I was going to lead Caleb to the bookstore.

MARISHA: I'll go to the blacksmith with the guys.

LIAM: Are you going to come along?

SAM: I would love to come along, yes.

MATT: Who's going to the blacksmith? Team blacksmith, you begin to wander through the streets, asking questions around. Eventually, some of the local zhelezo lead you over to the place called Ingots and Hammers. It seems to be a humble size, but this isn't a very big smithing town, necessarily. In fact, one of them you speak to goes like, "Port Zoon would be more the place to go if you're looking for good, brawny blacksmiths, but there is Ingots and Hammers, maybe." They head you over in that direction. The exterior of it, most of it the heavy stone base of the building-- it's a standard rectangle, most of it open on the side facing the street so you can see the smoke from the forge itself pouring out. It doesn't have a specific chimney built more than it billows out in two places to create these two drifting streams that head up. As you walk up, you can see there isn't immediately work being done. It looks like perhaps there is a mid-afternoon break, and you do see a tan skinned, heavyset, burly looking fellow, human, smooth bald head, a split lip that healed back and it has this big scar piece that gives him a little bit of character, and he sits there in the middle of eating a bowl of fruit and glances up at you. "Hello? Can I help you?"

TALIESIN: Yes. I was looking to have a sword repaired, a very unusual sword.

MATT: "Let me see it." He sets down his bowl and walks over. "Oh. Just a second, hold on." Sets it down and rummages through a small shelf unit in the back and pulls out a few books and pulls out one tome, opens it up and sets it down and begins thumbing through, page to page. Takes about five, six minutes to find something before he stops and goes, "My apologies. This is not really a form of forging that I can repair. This is Uthodurnian."

TALIESIN: Uthodurnian?

MATT: "It's a very far north, very isolated people. Dual society, dwarves and elves together."

LAURA: Whoa.

MATT: "Merger of the two styles of forging make for very unique weaponry, but a little bit out of my skill range. My apologies."

TALIESIN: No, that's good to know. Would you know of anyone who could point us in the right direction or would we have to probably venture that direction?

MATT: "It's north of the Empire."

TALIESIN: North of the Empire?

MATT: "Up in them Wildlands."

TALIESIN: Well, now.

TRAVIS: North of the Dunrock Mountains, would you say?

MATT: "Yes, that's the place!"

TRAVIS: That's fucking way up there. We are here, and we got to go there.

TALIESIN: That's barely two-and-a-half, three feet. I mean, what's the scale on that? It's like one-half scale, double?

TRAVIS: Hundred miles.

TALIESIN: Wow!

TRAVIS: So, one, two-- in a straight line-- three, four, five, six, seven, eight hundred miles, if we fly.

TALIESIN: We may be sitting on this for a little while. That's good to know, thank you, friend.

MATT: "Happy to help. Wish I could be of assistance, I could use the coin, but-- good luck."

TALIESIN: Thank you, here's a couple coin for your trouble, anyway. I throw three gold at him.

MATT: Three gold, he goes, "Thank you very much! You are very generous, thank you. Thank you all."

MARISHA: What's your name, by the way?

MATT: "Dreef."

MARISHA: Dreef?

MATT: "Dreef. What's your name?"

MARISHA: Beau.

MATT: "Beau."

MARISHA: Yeah. Like a staff.

MATT: "Do you use staffs?"

MARISHA: Yeah, I do, actually. Do you sell staffs?

MATT: "No, it'd be really funny if you used them, and you do, so that's quite funny."

TALIESIN: You would call that the Beau bo.

MARISHA: I know.

TALIESIN: Would be Beau's bo.

MATT: "That is what I'm talking about."

MARISHA: Are you all really just making this connection? Really?

TRAVIS: I mean, truthfully, yeah.

MARISHA: Pull out my bo staff.

MATT: (laughs) "Yeah."

TALIESIN: You could put a bow on the bo. On Beau's bo.

TRAVIS: You could, yeah. Then it'd be Beau-bo-bows. Bo.

MATT: "Wait." He turns around and rushes off real fast to rummage in the same cabinet and comes back with piece of ribbon, then leans in to tie it around the bo.

TRAVIS: Now that is something. Beau's bo's bow.

MATT: (laughs) "You're not into this, I'm sorry."

MARISHA: I put it away and I smack Fjord in the face as I put my staff back.

TRAVIS: Ugh!

MARISHA: Your lip's bleeding.

MATT: "The ribbon's for you, I suppose."

MARISHA: Thanks.

MATT: "Anyway. Have a good day!"

TALIESIN: You too, as well.

MATT: "Good luck." He sits down and takes his bowl back on his lap and watches you intensely as you leave.

TALIESIN: That's interesting. We have to take care of that at some point.

TRAVIS: Is it bigger?

MARISHA: Yeah, it's a little poofy. Yeah. That's a good one, man, I had good aim on that.

MATT: All right. Bookshop farers!

LAURA: It's this way. You just walk over here and then you go down this street.

SAM: I feel like we've walked down this road before, at least twice.

LAURA: Really?

SAM: Yeah.

LIAM: That is exactly what we've done. You've been to this place before, but when you were a child? Maybe you've forgotten the way.

LAURA: Oh, I never went here, no.

LIAM: Did you get out? Did your mother take you around, or did you have maybe a babysitter?

LAURA: No.

SAM: Neither?

LAURA: No.

SAM: You were just let up to your own devices as a small child?

LAURA: No, no, no! My mom was there, but we didn't, you know, go places. But I did see a bookstore, I swear, from my window.

MATT: About then, you pick up a visual on a cornershop that's called Front to Back and has books hanging underneath that on a little wooden placard.

LAURA: See? This is what I was talking about, this one right here, Front to Back.

LIAM: Before we go in: you never went out, or just rarely? You mean, just rarely went out?

LAURA: I did go out sometimes, yeah. I got to go, you know, on errands sometimes, yeah.

SAM: That's fun. Did you have many friends, growing up?

LAURA: The Traveler's really cool.

MARISHA: (whispering) So tragic.

SAM: Oh. So you were starved for--

LAURA: And Bluud! I mean, you know, that guy, he hung out with me sometimes.

SAM: The minotaur?

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: That must have been fun.

LAURA: It was, he let me hang on his horns.

LIAM: What about just outside of the Chateau? Did you go out to play?

LAURA: No.

LIAM: Well, let's see what books they have inside here.

MATT: You step inside. It's a smaller building and there's no other customers, it's actually pretty quiet in there. The only sound you hear is a silent purring from the owner's cat. It's curled up on one of the shelves and it's (purring). As soon as you enter and make your first creaking step against the floorboard, one eye pokes open, (yawns), stretches out, stands up and looks at you all, and then turns around and just walks away.

LAURA: What color was the cat?

MATT: Oh, the cat was a calico. All splotches of brown, dark brown, black. Half-and-half nose. There's three shelves on the left side, the right side is just a window, it's open and what little bit of light is in there is the daylight being let in, it's filling the space of this warm interior. There is a desk towards the back where you see a scrawny, scrappy-looking man in his late 30s or early 40s. His hair is combed back, slicked, but little pieces of it are falling in front of his eyes. He has a little bit of scruff on his upper lip, not enough to actually be considered a mustache. He glances up from a book that he's in the middle of reading and goes, "Hello? Look around, anything you want, I'm Rusan. Anything that you may require, let me know! Pay at the front."

LIAM: Before I step forward, I lean down to the ground, snap my fingers, and bring Frumpkin the cat into existence. Telepathically say: Go, say hello to that cat. And he scuttles off.

MATT: (meows)

LIAM: Russo, you said?

MATT: "Rusan."

LIAM: Rusan, oh. My apologies. I am looking to buy a bit of paper. Quite a bit, but whatever you might have. Also, do you specialize in a kind of book here, or is it a wide array? What's your specialty? What's your favorite that you have for sale?

MATT: "This is a lot of questions. Hold on." He sits there and has to file through in his head for a second. "There is paper, of course. We have very nice parchment for presentation, for events, parties, invitations, if that's what you're looking for. As far as books, we have all sorts of it. The front shelf here is mainly discussions on various cultural philosophies. There is also a number of cooking manuals, if you're interested in that. There are an entire part of fiction that deals with fictional accounts of the various gods, of the various Marquis, the Empire's rise. That seems to be very popular among the visiting crownsguard. I mean, there's a lot of things! Are you looking for something in particular?"

LIAM: History of the area, of Nicodranas itself, I would be interested in reading. Anything you have of arcane nature, I would be especially interested in, even if it was just histories of.

MATT: "That is a bit specific, unfortunately. We do not have anything in particular for that."

LIAM: Well, I will look through your fictional works and also history if you have it.

LAURA: Do you know where we would go to find arcane books and stuff?

MATT: "I do not, unfortunately. Most of that is organized by the guildmasters under the Marquis. The Concord generally deals with things that are of particular price points and interests. I mainly deal with people who come to travel in and out, people that want something to read when they are going on a boat for a very long time. There's not a lot of business to be made from the books you requested."

LIAM: Okay. Well, priority one is, I deal in prose and poetry quite a bit, so I need a good amount of basic blank paper for my work.

LAURA: He's a really good poet.

SAM: It all rhymes.

LAURA: Mm-hmm!

MATT: "Have you been published?"

LIAM: I am working up the courage for that point. I am almost ready. I just have to take that first step--

LAURA: Slam poetry, right now! Anything that comes to your mind!

SAM: (vocal accompaniment)

LIAM: I am pink. I sometimes stink. I need to think. I want to get out of this store right now.

SAM: And get a drink? A-wicka-record scratch!

MATT: "Keep at it."

LIAM: So just the paper, I suppose.

MATT: "Hey." He leans forward and pats you on the shoulder. "Everyone starts somewhere, right?"

LIAM: Ooh. Now, DM question. I have that ink from the library that can take basic-ass paper and have it serve the purpose of 500 gold worth of that high-quality paper.

MATT: Correct.

LIAM: Okay. I would like to buy that specific amount of paper. I want to--

MATT: 500 gold-- I mean, to equivalent, to fill up that much ink--

LIAM: The equivalent of, which would be much less, I assume.

MATT: Correct. Yeah. He has a fair amount of paper. Some of it, he seems to have to leave for a few minutes and then come back with it. He seems to be going off and probably buying it from other friends of his. Like the time I remember as a kid, I ordered a cheeseburger at a Mexican restaurant, and it took 30 minutes to get there, and I realized it was because they went up the street to get it.

LIAM: Yeah, we make that, yeah!

MATT: I was a dumb 12-year-old. Anyway.

LIAM: While he is making those trips, I will find one interesting fictional work and also any history book on Nicodranas that I can find.

LAURA: While he's also out, I will paint a little dick next to the front and a little booty next to the back of his sign. Front to Back.

MATT: With typical ink or magic ink?

LAURA: Typical ink.

MATT: Okay. Just checking. Okay! You find one fictional piece that talks of a sailors' tryst. Two sailors, two separate ships that continuously meet up at different island ports throughout the Swavain Islands, eventually finding themselves on opposite sides of a conflict: one as part of the Revelry, and one that is part of the Clovis Concord's naval fleet. Yet these two sailors eventually come together and find that this conflict was not enough to keep their passions apart.

LIAM: Edubational.

MATT: You find a book about the history of Nicodranas, and I'll email you information after the game. I don't want to sit here and--

LIAM: Please don't. But I do want to have that.

MATT: Yes, I'll send that to you.

LAURA: I would like to buy the book about cooking, please.

MATT: "Which one? There are many types. There are ones that focus on various ways of steaming and spicing vegetables, from Marquet. There are ones about the actual coastal tropical fruits that can be prepared in a way that is more savory than sweet. What is your preference?"

LAURA: Cinnamon in pastries.

MATT: "A pastry book. That can be done, of course. That will be--" He goes and looks through his ledger, goes and pulls one off of the shelf, comes by. "This will be two silver pieces."

LAURA: Do you also have a book about mushrooms?

MATT: "There are a few that contain mushrooms, I'm sure. I can look around."

LAURA: I would like one of those, thank you.

MATT: "Any preference? I mean, there are-- location-wise?"

LAURA: Something where you can cook the mushrooms.

MATT: "Okay, I'll pick one. All right, that will be four silver."

LAURA: You got it.

MATT: "There you are. Your cinnamon pastry and mushroom book. Enjoy."

TALIESIN: Great Nicodranas Bake Off.

LAURA: Thank you.

MATT: "No worries. Well, good luck, and keep it up, my friend."

LIAM: Oh, what do I owe you? For all the paper, and these two books.

MATT: That's right. "Each book is two silver pieces, so that's four silver pieces for that. For the total amount of paper, that is going to run you about-- we'll say 25 gold pieces."

LIAM: Excellent. Okay, so I hand that over.

MATT: It's a lot of paper.

LIAM: Where are we going to stay tonight, do you think?

LAURA: Do you want to put that in the bag?

LIAM: That would be helpful.

LAURA: Here.

LIAM: (paper sliding)

MATT: It's like feeding an endless printer, (paper sliding), or those dollar counter machines that go (dull whirring).

LAURA: Oh wait, what did you ask me?

SAM: Where are we sleeping tonight?

LAURA: At the Lavish Chateau. Where else would we stay?

SAM: Well, I don't know--

LIAM: Well, it was a little contentious when we left, but I--

LAURA: What are you talking about?

SAM: Well, we hustled out of town because we had caused a ruckus.

LAURA: Yeah, but we don't look like ourselves. What difference does it make?

SAM: Not for very much longer. Mine's going to wear off in a couple of minutes.

LAURA: Oh. Should we recast it?

SAM: Maybe.

LAURA: I recast it.

SAM: I'll recast it, too.

LIAM: Samesies.

MATT: Mark off another level one spell slot.

LAURA: Shall we go home?

SAM: Sure.

LIAM: Ja. Nott, do you want to contact the others and let them know where-- oh, they're too far away. Jester?

SAM: You can contact the others.

LAURA: That's a really high-level spell, but--

LIAM: Are you going to pick any fights with anybody today?

SAM: We should have maybe said a place where we would meet later.

LAURA: I did, sort of, but they were walking away.

SAM: Oh, shit.

LAURA: I cast Sending to Caduceus. So we're going to my mama's house. You guys should meet us there. We're going to stay there tonight. I don't know for sure if that's happening, but I'm sure it'll be okay. Also, we get to see Nugget again--

TALIESIN: We'll meet you there and maybe talk about tomorrow's thing. I think we're probably going to want to take a look at that tower while we're in town.

LAURA: I don't have a "you can reply to this message," so you--

TALIESIN: I said it anyway.

(laughter)

MATT: I love it. It's so good. As you guys finish your business, you all eventually come and reconvene. Unless you have other business you want to attend to while you're out and about?

SAM: On the walk towards Mom's house, is there any little patch of grass or dirt?

MATT: Plenty of patches of dirt. I would say, in the streets--

SAM: A park that we pass?

MATT: If you go a little bit out of your way, yes, you can find a patch of--

SAM: I want to-- maybe while they were in there shopping, I want to put my hand in the dirt, feel soil, know that I'm on solid land.

MATT: As your fingers dig into the dirt and you squeeze it and appreciate it, you glance over to the side. There's a seven-year-old boy who's sitting there, looking at you.

SAM: I thought I'd dropped a coin in there. I was looking for it.

MATT: He reaches down and grabs a big handful of dirt, too, and squishes it in his fingers.

SAM: It's fun.

MATT: "Yeah."

SAM: (mud squelch)

MATT: (crying)

SAM: Oh god, no. I thought we were playing!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: You assaulted a seven-year-old. "I thought we were playing!"

MATT: A strange little pink creature with fairy wings just threw dirt in his eye.

MARISHA: Sam attempted to have a dad moment, and it failed.

TALIESIN: I'm so excited for our next campaign. You've already created a backstory for your next character.

SAM: Yeah. (deep voice) I hate monsters.

TALIESIN: Little boy with a knife.

TRAVIS: If it's pink, I kill it.

MARISHA: It's a very unhealthy relationship with pink.

MATT: If it pinks, the knife sinks. Eventually you guys reconvene outside of the Lavish Chateau. You see Tyral, the young man who had helped you with your cart, but does not recognize any of you, really. Nods as you walk into the establishment. It's still early enough where the clientele-- there is no presentation. It is mainly a relatively quiet midday dining experience. There are maybe three people in the interior, and they're probably having business meetings. There might be merchants who are using this space as a location away, to have more hushed conversations in a less public environment. You have arrived. What would you like to do?

LAURA: I look up into the rafters and see if Professor Thaddeus came home.

MATT: Make a perception check.

MARISHA: Yes, beat me to it. Yes.

LAURA: Even with a natural 20 I don't think I would see Professor Thaddeus, but I did not roll that. I rolled a ten.

MATT: You do not see Professor Thaddeus in the rafters.

LAURA: Too bad, man. That would have been really cool, huh?

MARISHA: It would have been so cool.

TALIESIN: He flew the coop.

TRAVIS: Shame on you.

TALIESIN: That was bad. I don't feel good about that.

LAURA: I go running upstairs.

MATT: I am sad-- there's a little part of me that, when you first got that owl and you made your first animal handling check, I was hoping you would roll a one. It would be like, "Go, do this!" (fluttering). I was praying so hard that would happen.

(laughter)

MATT: It would have been so on brand for Beau.

MARISHA: Yeah, it would've.

MATT: It just took a little longer for it happen. You head upstairs. You make your way up the staircase to the second floor, then make your way up towards where your mother's room is. There, as you begin to step up the way, you hear the heavy footfall of Bluud, who sits in the middle of the top of the staircase towards where your mother's room is. Looks down towards you, (grunts). Leans back and folds his arms. Are the rest of you going up with her or staying down there?

SAM and TRAVIS: Sure.

TALIESIN: Yeah, no, if we're all here.

TRAVIS: Unless you want some privacy.

LAURA: No, come!

MATT: You all head up. Bluud puts his hand out, this big meaty hand, before the others and goes: "Jester?"

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Leans back again, his shoulders hitting the wall as Jester does the classic international symbol for "let us through please."

TRAVIS: Long established.

MATT: Yeah. You come to the door?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Knock on it, Nadine opens it up. Glances, recognizes you, and goes, "Ah, right." Pulls the door open. Lounging in her fainting couch in the far corner is your mother, with a small book open. Her hair is pulled and tied back tightly; she's in her casual space. She doesn't look like she's expecting any clientele any time soon. She glances over and looks at--

LAURA: Drop it. Mama!

MATT: "Jester! Oh my goodness, Jester!" She puts the book down and sits up and runs across and picks you up with a big swinging hug. Starts showering the top of your forehead and cheeks with kisses and goes: "Jester, you're back."

LAURA: We're back! We're pirates.

MATT: "Oh, these are your same friends?"

LAURA: Yes. Oh, yes.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'll drop.

SAM: We'll drop our disguises.

MATT: "Right. Welcome back, friends, welcome back. Thank you so much for taking care of my little sapphire."

LAURA: How was the city when we left? Was everything okay?

MATT: "Everything was fine. I was a little worried from the message that you told me, so I inquired around. There was a disturbance. Apparently there was a ghost story, so thank you for letting me know. But now you have a ghost story in Nicodranas."

LAURA: I know! We're infamous.

MATT: "Apparently. Be careful with that wording, you guys. Best not to have too much attention. Especially in this world, it can be very dangerous."

SAM: Do they know our names?

MATT: "No, not what I could figure out, at least. It was more of a marauding band of murderers on the ship side of the docks that stole a ship, but apparently killed a number of other illegal peoples, and so they write it off as illegal people doing illegal things to illegal people."

LAURA: Cool.

TRAVIS: I think we're good.

MATT: "Just be careful. Anyway."

LAURA: How's Nugget?

MATT: "Oh." She goes and there's what used to be your room, with the double doors that close. She opens it up and pulls it open. You can see all these scratch marks on the inside of the wood. The immediate smell of dog shit and pee hits you. "Nugget?" (whistling) All of a sudden, right there in front of you, you see Nugget, but larger. Over the weeks that you've gone, the tiny puppy is now a fairly decent-sized puppy. Halfway to full grown, and even that's the size of a fairly big dog. Nugget (pants) and jumps up into your arms, and you fall back onto the ground as (slurping).

LAURA: This dog got big!

SAM: They do that.

LAURA: Hi! Have you been training him?

MATT: "I've been training him as much as I can. He's been a bit of a handful, but is very adorable."

LAURA: He's so cute!

MATT: He's slobbering on the chest of your armor. "But are you taking him?"

LAURA: Yeah! Of course we are!

MATT: "Wonderful! Wonderful. I am so happy to hear that. He's missed his mommy, haven't you? Haven't you?"

LAURA: I feel like he's known you longer, though. If you're going to miss him, you know, you can--

MATT: "No! No, it's quite all right."

LAURA: Are you sure, Mama?

MATT: "He's adorable, but it is meant to be. It is destiny, kismet. Please take him."

LAURA: Okay. Can we stay here?

MATT: "Of course! Of course. I mean, here?"

LAURA: In the rooms.

MATT: "Yeah, oh, of course. Hold on a second." She pulls Nadine over and they talk a bit, and Nadine checks and comes back up and says that there are only two rooms available for the evening that aren't already checked out. She goes, "If anyone needs to, they are welcome to stay in this room as well, and the other two are at your disposal. I put them at my tab, do not worry."

TRAVIS: Very gracious of you.

TALIESIN: Two rooms ought to cover it for us.

MATT: "Just for the night?"

TALIESIN: How long are we going to be-- maybe just a couple nights, maybe, at best. There's a few things we should do in town before we head--

LAURA: I don't know what we're doing.

LIAM: Did you want to stay for a while, though? A few days?

LAURA: I mean, I don't want to impose or anything, you know?

MATT: "It's not an imposition. I just need to make sure that there are rooms available for each progressive night."

LIAM: Pardon me. After tonight, we could find another place, give you a day or two with your mother.

LAURA: Sure.

MATT: "I mean, I would not argue."

LAURA: We can hang out. I know there's stuff we need to do and stuff. Now that we're back on land, I feel better.

MATT: "It is welcoming. Well, tell me, how was your time? Apparently you left under interesting circumstances."

TRAVIS: Hurried circumstances, I think, would sum it up. We did have to borrow a boat. A ship.

LIAM: We did not bring it back.

TRAVIS: That's true.

LAURA: We got another boat! It's way cooler.

SAM: We're giving that one to Orly, right?

LAURA: But he's holding it for us.

TRAVIS: We'll be landlocked for a while. Are you familiar with Darktow Isle?

MATT: "I have heard of it. There are stories, but I have not been there, of course."

TRAVIS: Your daughter was very brave. Our adventure took us over there.

MATT: "Oh, wow! Are you being serious right now?"

LAURA: Serious? We're pirates! Well, we were.

MATT: "I had one client from Darktow once, told me a little bit about it. Sounds like a very frightening place."

LAURA: Who was the client?

MATT: "I cannot tell."

LAURA: Did he have hair from another guy on?

MATT: "No?"

LAURA: Was he bald? Was he big and bald?

MATT: "No, but that doesn't narrow down my clients, necessarily, either."

LAURA: Okay, well, we only met a couple people, so.

MATT: "That's okay."

TRAVIS: Yeah, I don't think the Plank King leaves very often.

LAURA: He could, my mom is really, really cool and worth traveling for.

TRAVIS: Without a doubt. Our travels took us far and wide, and we are all the more excited to be back on land and to explore this beautiful city that most of us haven't had a chance to really peek about.

LIAM: You two are very curious about that tower.

TRAVIS: Very much.

MARISHA: Just, you know, as a historical landmark.

SAM: Do you know that tower that gets bigger and smaller the closer you are to it?

MATT: "I assume that you're referring to the Tidal--"

SAM and MARISHA: The Tide Peak?

MATT: "Tide Peak? Yes. I have not been there, of course, but it is a mysterious place."

LIAM: What have you heard about it, for Fjord and Beau's benefit?

MATT: "Well, as far as I know, there is a very wealthy mage who lives there who is responsible for the organization of the Open Quay, who is kind of a hermit, from what I've heard, but is supposedly at least looking out for the benefit of the people who live there so as not to be completely under the control of the monopoly of the Concord. That's as much as I know."

TRAVIS: That sounds like what we've gathered before. Interesting. I think that's where we want to go next. You notice as you walk towards it and walk further away, it looks like it grows and shrinks?

MARISHA: Like a dick.

TRAVIS: Well, I was going to say like a telescope.

LAURA: Well, then it would be like the tower curves down sometimes and then lifts back up. You know what I mean?

LIAM: Well, that's true, but I feel there's a difference.

SAM: Between dicks and buildings?

LIAM: Ja. The movement of it.

LAURA: Yeah, it's different!

LIAM: Of course, one is a building, ja?

MATT: "As an expert, I would say yes. Anyway."

TRAVIS: You know it goes up and down; it doesn't lay over on its side and shrink up and then extend itself.

MARISHA: What happens in the cold?

MATT: "You have been at sea for quite some time, I can tell."

TRAVIS: I'm sorry. Yeah, we got sea dementia. It's really rampant.

MATT: "It is all right. Well, take your time. I will ask to see if we can have a special dinner prepared for you when you come back tonight, and I'm happy to have you home."

LAURA: Thank you.

SAM: What time is it about now?

MATT: At this point, it's later afternoon. I'd say you probably have about another hour or so before dusk.

LAURA: I don't think we should look at the tower.

SAM: Let's go fucking break into it right now. Let's go right now!

LAURA: I don't think we should do that. I used up three spells already.

SAM: So what? We'll be fine! There's nothing in there. We're just going to steal some stuff.

LIAM: Can I make out, from the spine or the cover, what book she was reading that she set down?

MATT: Make a perception check.

LIAM: Books, books, books!

MATT: Really, really great for the DM!

LIAM: 21.

MATT: Sure. It's called Hireling, because that was the first word I saw on the back of my DM's screen. Who knows what that story's about?

TRAVIS: We rip it out of her hand. What's the first chapter say?

MARISHA: It's just a Player's Handbook.

MATT: The first chapter's called "Obscured Areas: Lightly obscured has the effect of creatures--"

(laughter)

SAM: She's making a game system!

MARISHA: What class do you play?

TRAVIS: Jester makes a valid point. We actually probably should go first thing in the morning so we're all nice and rested, and I would enjoy a nice meal.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: We've got a little bit of time. We still don't know how to get into this tower. Maybe we could do a little bit more research before the night is out before dinner time?

LAURA: Let's go scope it out. Let's go stare at it a while.

MARISHA: Ask questions? I don't know.

TRAVIS: I dig it.

SAM: Bring the paint.

LAURA: Yeah. The paint is always with me.

TRAVIS: May the paint be with you.

SAM: Caleb, I promise you, if we go scope it out tonight, we are going in tonight.

LIAM: I don't think that is a good idea.

SAM: Have you met these people before?

TALIESIN: I would definitely prefer to wait as well. I'm a fan of taking a minute to take a look around and have a plan.

LIAM: We need to dial it back a little bit. We've been going at an 11 out of ten for a while. We need to slow down.

TRAVIS: I'm sure there are some stores that might have healing potions and other things we could stock up on before the sun goes down and they close up, right? Might as well take a gander. Ms. Ruby, do you have any sorts of shops you might recommend that would have stuff of that nature?

MATT: "If you're looking for general shops that have things that are useful in travels like that? Healing potions, I don't really deal with those at all. There is The Seafloor's Bounty in the Open Quay. If you're planning to go by the strange dick tower, then that is a possibility. If not there, there is also Meandering Treasures in the Restless Wharf is a destination of interest, if that's what you're looking for, odds and ends, maybe."

TRAVIS: That's beautiful.

MATT: "There is no specialty stores in healing potions in Nicodranas."

TRAVIS: I'm sure either of those will do nicely.

MATT: "All right. Good luck."

TRAVIS: Shall we? A little light shopping?

LAURA: Let's do it! I kiss her on the cheek. Should we take Nugget with us as we go?

SAM: Please, no.

TRAVIS: Yeah, maybe not into the stores with things that break and then we have to pay for it.

SAM: Also, we might be doing a covert walk-by of this place.

LAURA: Good idea. But what if Nugget could go poof and go into it?

SAM: That could definitely happen.

LAURA: And then we're like: Oh no, my dog! He went in and now I have to go in too to get him out.

SAM: That's valid.

TRAVIS: He's certainly your dog, Jester. It's your call.

LAURA: Let's leave him here.

TRAVIS' PHONE: I don't know how to respond to that.

MATT: You beat me to it, Siri.

LIAM: What lazy roleplaying.

TRAVIS: "Yes, and," bitch!

(laughter)

LAURA: I guess we can leave him here for the time being.

LIAM: You know, I'm going to stay here and do a little bit of reading, so if you want me to watch your dog, I will.

LAURA: Really? Do you want any company?

LIAM: While I read?

LAURA: Yeah. Someone to stare over your shoulder and see what you're reading and talk to you while you're trying to--

LIAM: I feel a little uncomfortable. Who are we talking about? You?

SAM: No, I don't like to be near when he reads. He needs to focus.

LAURA: Are you sure Nugget won't bother you?

LIAM: No, but go, find out what you can about this place and get your shopping done. Ask about the tower. Subtly.

LAURA: Do you need anything?

LIAM: Mm, no.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: (panting)

LAURA: Nugget. I love you. Stay with Caleb. Don't bamf away. Stay with him. He loves you so much. You're going to have a good time. Okay, bye!

LIAM: Watch the dog. (poof)

MATT: The dog immediately-- they both port in opposite directions as he ports right up next to you and pushes you over.

LIAM: Okay. You want to do some spell research with me? Come on. Come on, Frumpkin.

MATT: Frumpkin comes over slowly, (growling). Frumpkin leaps up and perches around your shoulders, taking the territory and staring at Nugget.

LIAM: You are in charge. You are the guard cat. Don't let him push you around. I start to read and write.

MATT: All right. The rest of you, where are you going?

SAM: In the interest of time, are there any potions that we find around?

MATT: You have two locations you go to.

TRAVIS: The Seafloor Bounty is over by the--

LAURA: I think we should go to the one in the Open Quay.

MATT: Heading to the Seafloor's Bounty, it seems to be a fairly decent general store. It specializes in pawning scavenged goods and loot and things that are found at sea or people come upon through whatever means they come upon them near the wharf. There is a female gnome who runs it. Older looking, the equivalent of a human 60s, which means she's been around for quite some time, but very crotchety and nasty. As you walk in, there's one other customer who, as soon as you enter, looks nervously and then exits immediately, brushes past you, and disappears into the now setting sun as the gnome turns around to you. "Yeah, can I help you?"

SAM: Hello!

MATT: "Hello?"

SAM: Hello!

MATT: "Hello!"

SAM: Is she mocking me?

LAURA and TRAVIS: I don't think so.

LAURA: Are we disguised still? We're not disguised anymore.

TALIESIN: Probably not. Probably it wore off.

SAM: I think we need some items here. Why am I the face of the group? Hi! We need some items. We're looking for some potions.

MATT: She leans over the top to look down at your also-tiny frame over the top. "You need potions, you said?"

SAM: Potions. I will also need some-- I was looking for some oil.

MATT: "Oil?"

SAM: Some oil.

MATT: "I can get you some oil, sure."

SAM: All right! (increasingly shrill) And do you have any healing potions?

MATT: "Maybe."

SAM: (shrilly) We've got coin!

MATT: "That's the secret password! I'll be right back."

SAM: I feel like she's mocking me.

TALIESIN: If anything, you're mocking her.

MATT: She leaps off her stool and vanishes behind the counter. You hear the footsteps walk away and go into a back chamber, and you're left alone on the floor in the room for a second.

LAURA: Whoa. Do we see anything cool?

TALIESIN: Anything interesting on the wall?

MATT: There's all sorts of interesting. Decorative scabbards containing what you assume to be a blade decorating the walls, you can see large conch shells and various sea trophies that were taken from people making the journey all across the Swavain Islands.

SAM: Anything shiny?

MATT: Make a perception check.

SAM: Eight.

MATT: There's a few shiny things.

TALIESIN: Just for fun, Detect Magic.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: You cast Detect Magic.

TALIESIN: Anything sparkly?

MATT: Looking around in the room, you get some faint magical glow or a sense from behind the counter. Nothing on display. There's probably a reason for that.

TALIESIN: That's fair. Anything behind the counter look particularly interesting?

MATT: Are you going to look over behind the counter?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I mean--

LAURA: You're tall.

TALIESIN: As long as I can-- I'm not going to break a rule or anything, but yeah.

MATT: Okay. You glance over and look, and tucked underneath, there is a small wooden case. It's closed currently. It looks maybe about two foot by one foot, maybe six or seven inches high, and that's what's giving you the faint magical aura.

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: Okay. A few moments pass and you hear some more footsteps come in, and another (heft) onto the stool again. She steps up and she has a small satchel that you hear the clanking of crystal or glass on the inside. "Okay, I have three healing potions I could muster. Is that what you want?"

SAM: How much are they?

MATT: "What?"

SAM: (louder) How much are they?

MATT: "60 gold apiece."

SAM: (quietly) That fair?

LAURA: I don't think so.

SAM: We'll take them.

MATT: "All right. Pay up!"

SAM: Sure.

TRAVIS: I'll buy one.

SAM: Thank you. Anybody else chipping in?

TALIESIN: I'll chip in for this, yeah.

LAURA: I don't need them. I can heal people on my own.

SAM: You can?!

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I mean, we should distribute them to other people.

MARISHA: I'll chip in for one, 60 gold.

LAURA: Oh yeah, that's a good point.

TALIESIN: I'll chip in for-- how many do we have now?

LAURA: Three.

MATT: Just the three basic potions.

TALIESIN: Three basic healing potions. I'll chip in for one.

MARISHA: Yeah, let's buy them out.

SAM: Do you have any flammable oils?

MATT: "There's oil. How much do you need?"

SAM: Enough for a larger flask. Something that I could make a long line of oil with, if I needed to.

MATT: "All right, that'll run you 40 gold pieces."

LAURA: Whoa.

SAM: I'll take it!

MATT: "All right!" She jumps off the stool, and this takes a while. You start hearing heavy clanging of metal and things dropping in the back. You glance around the corner and there's a slight curtain, and it looks like she's just emptying out lanterns into a vial. Just pouring one after another, after another into this small jug, and eventually corking it. Comes out, "Careful, now!"

SAM: Thank you.

MATT: "You're welcome. Thank you."

SAM: What is your name again?

MATT: "Sheila."

SAM: Sheila.

MATT: "Sheila Bobsnopper."

SAM: Sheila Plobs--

MATT: "Bobsnopper."

SAM: Bobsnopper.

TALIESIN: Miss Sheila, I had a question.

MATT: "What's your question?"

TALIESIN: I was curious about any magical items you might have for sale. I got a vibe that you might have something here that might be interesting.

MATT: "Nothing for sale, sorry."

TALIESIN: Do you have anything that's not for sale, that's just for show?

MATT: "Not for show!"

LAURA: What do you have that's secret?

MATT: "None of your business!"

LAURA: (gasps) Okay.

MATT: "Trust me, you don't want to be the kind of person that comes in here and gets a chance to see it."

LAURA: Oh, it's a weapon.

MATT: "Maybe."

LAURA: Is it a wand?

MATT: "I don't play this game, missy!"

TALIESIN: Is that a yes or no on the--

MATT: "Are you casing my joint?"

LAURA: Hmm?

MATT: "I said, are you casing my joint?"

LAURA: What?

MATT: "What?"

LAURA: Huh?

MATT: "Are you--" (grunt)

TALIESIN: What is casing?

SAM: Do you buy things as well, ma'am?

MATT: "Yes, I do. What, do you have something to sell?"

SAM: I have some studded leather armor that I don't need any more.

MATT: "Oh! Show it to me."

SAM: All right, get it out of the haversack. Here's some old studded armor. Studded leather.

MATT: She reaches down and takes a cloth, and starts cleaning off the bits of grime and stuff on it. Takes a few minutes to inspect it, the interior, seeing how it fits together and belts. "That's a good set, not too bad. For sale..." Let me look at the price here. (singing) Studded leather armor.

SAM: Says 45 on-- That's new, though.

MATT: "I'll give you 15 gold for it."

SAM: I'll take it.

LAURA: (groans)

MATT: "All right, here you go."

LAURA: Ugh, it hurts me.

MATT: So you take 15 gold back. She goes and throws it in a pile in the corner. "Is that it? Anything else?" She narrows her eyes at you.

LAURA: (grumpily) No. Nothing else.

MATT: Narrows even harder at you.

LAURA: I don't think she likes us, Caduceus.

TALIESIN: That's nonsense, we're very likeable. Is there something in your eyes? Do you have a problem, I can--

LAURA: Are you tired? Are you falling--

MATT: "I'm always tired! I'm just tired of you coming in here being nosy! Get your friends out. I like you. You, you can all piss off!"

TALIESIN: This is why you did the talking. Have a nice day.

SAM: We chose wisely.

MATT: "Bye, bye!"

SAM: Nice to meet you, whatever, bye-bye! I liked her, she was nice.

TRAVIS: A real spitfire.

SAM: She was great. Bobsnopper?

LAURA: Bobstomper.

MATT: Bobsnopper.

TRAVIS: I got a feeling she had more fight in her than you'd think.

LAURA: Yeah. I bet she could do some damage.

TRAVIS: So before the sun goes all the way down--

LAURA: We're going to sneak into her shop and steal what's behind the counter?

TRAVIS: I was going to say let's go look at the tower.

LAURA: Yeah, all right.

SAM: We could probably kill her.

MATT: I love the prospect of you finally coming back to Nicodranas and immediately just fucking everything up again.

TRAVIS: Everything's chill.

MARISHA: Two hours.

MATT: Do what you want, mind you.

TALIESIN: Finally calmed down, everything's fine. This is a holdup! Empty your wallets!

MATT: Why not embrace destiny?

TRAVIS: Let's make our way over to the, what was it?

MARISHA: The Wayfarer's Cove-- The Open Quay.

LAURA: We're in the Open Quay.

SAM: The Tide Peak. The tower, right?

MATT: Yeah. Easy to find, the tower is visible. By now, at this point in time, the sun is in the process of setting, so the sky has transitioned now into its vibrant oranges and reds, and across the way on the other side of the horizon the dark blues and purples are starting to take. But there it is, the dark shadow of the monolithic tower of Tide Peak, visible. The closer you get, the taller it becomes, and the taller it becomes, until what looks to be maybe hundreds of floors up. It's absurd how tall it looks from the base floor.

LAURA: How wide is it, though?

MATT: I'd say it's maybe no more than 50 feet across, 50 feet wide.

SAM: Fjord?

TRAVIS: Mm-hmm?

SAM: Don't you have an ability where you can disappear and reappear a few feet somewhere else?

TRAVIS: Sure do.

SAM: Could you not do that and just be quickly inside?

LAURA: What if you get stuck?

TRAVIS: If I look up, is that balcony that we saw before about 15, 20 feet above our heads?

MATT: That balcony is not visible.

MARISHA: What do you mean? It's not there anymore?

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: Did we do that?

TRAVIS: Did what? Make it appear? And disappear?

MARISHA: I don't know.

TRAVIS: Do a quick speed round, and we walk around the perimeter looking out for fucking windows and balconies and we meet around the other side.

MATT: Okay. Yeah, you go around, and where the balcony was last time, there's nothing. It's solid. In fact, there are no windows for about 60 or so feet up, and then you see a balcony similar to the one you saw, but it is shorter, like truncated on each side.

TRAVIS: Oh. How high up?

MATT: About 50 or 60 feet up.

TRAVIS: 50 to 60. Yeah, that's too high. I mean, I can get up there, but it makes a real big noise.

SAM: But you could just disappear and reappear inside the wall, couldn't you?

TRAVIS: I mean, I don't know what's inside there.

MARISHA: Yeah, could you get stuck?

TRAVIS: Yep, and it would hurt a lot, I imagine. Just from my simple knowledge of basic physics.

SAM: I'm just a caveman.

TRAVIS: Yep.

SAM: All right.

MARISHA: No doors, nothing.

TRAVIS: But hey, there's nothing that says if we come back in the morning, that son of a bitch might be in a different place, I'll bet you, crackfire, slopdolly.

SAM: What?!

TALIESIN: I don't even...

(laughter)

SAM: Hick queens?

TRAVIS: (spits)

MATT: Dimplewood!

TRAVIS: Yeah! Pick wood!

MARISHA: I get this feeling that this is all a forced perspective thing, like an illusion. What if we get in there and it's actually just a shack?

TRAVIS: There's no way. That's not possible.

MARISHA: Maybe he's an enthusiast of tiny homes.

TRAVIS: And it just looks like it grows and shrinks and grows and shrinks?

MARISHA: Compensating.

TRAVIS: Maybe.

MARISHA: I don't know. Just a theory.

TRAVIS: I can't get up there without making a real loud ruckus, so tomorrow morning's our best bet.

SAM: Jester could get us up there.

LIAM: I'm not here, but just out of curiosity: The change in size, is it slight, that you just barely notice it, or is it like, "Whoa, whoa!"

MATT: It's, "Whoa, whoa!" unless you're watching it the whole time. So it's like, "Oh, we'll head that way," and you walk, and all of a sudden you're at the base and you look up and you're like, "Whoa, why is it so tall?" If you're watching it, which I imagine you probably were, as you were heading through the Open Quay, it's pretty immediate, meaning within about 500 feet or so the transition really hits. From any distance in the city it just looks like any other large tower, though it looks like one of the more visible and apparent ones across the skyline. It isn't until you get within 500 feet that all of a sudden it drastically seems to grow.

LIAM: So its impressiveness is in the extreme when you're right there with it.

MATT: Correct.

LIAM: Okay.

SAM: Caduceus has a tree.

TRAVIS: What about the tree?

LAURA: What about Blink? Oh, that's fucking hot when you put a hot thing in it! Ow!

MATT: Metal is funny when it conducts heat. Oh Laura, you okay?

LAURA: Yeah, I'm fine.

TRAVIS: What about the tree?

SAM: Caduceus, don't you have a magic tree?

TALIESIN: Am I there?

MATT: I mean, unless you haven't gone with them.

TALIESIN: I was trying to remember if we'd split for the two-- I do have a magic tree.

TRAVIS: But how does that work?

TALIESIN: I drop it on the ground and a 60-foot tree immediately appears.

TRAVIS: Immediately?

TALIESIN: Yep.

LAURA: Wouldn't that be a bit obvious?

MARISHA and TRAVIS: Yeah.

SAM: Not if we ride it up to the top, then leave someone behind to chop it down real quick.

TALIESIN: It's a five foot thick, tall tree.

TRAVIS: That's a shitty plan.

MARISHA: I mean, what do we want out of this, right?

SAM: To be inside.

MARISHA: Yeah, but then what? To immediately be arrested and thrown out of Nicodranas?

SAM: Profit!

TRAVIS: Well, there's no rule that says don't ride up a tree and jump on a fucking balcony.

MARISHA: No, there definitely is. It's called breaking and entering. There is a rule about that.

LAURA: Can't we just knock on the door?

TRAVIS and SAM: There's no door.

LAURA: Can't we just knock on the wall?

TRAVIS: Try it.

LAURA: I did.

MATT: Okay, you knock on the wall.

LAURA: Uh-huh.

MARISHA: What's it sound like?

MATT: It sounds like you're knocking on hard stone, and it hurts your knuckle a little bit.

TRAVIS: Can I turn around and look at the storefront-- Unless something happens when she knocks.

MATT: At the moment, nothing.

TRAVIS: I turn around and look at the storefronts. Are there any that are obviously still open? Right across from, maybe that are facing the...

MATT: There is one that looks to be a small fish market. It's not huge by any means, it looks like it's open, but it's probably going to be closing fairly soon, probably when the sun goes--

TRAVIS: Can I just jog over and try and find somebody that might be working a desk over there?

TALIESIN: While he does that, I'm going to just walk the tower with my hand on the tower and see if I feel any change at all.

MATT: As you're doing that, you hear a door (creaking) on the opposite side on the tower.

MARISHA: (sound of running feet) Walking casual.

MATT: All right. As you hear it slowly open up, this little hand curls around the outside. Short, maybe around knee-height for you, Fjord. As the door peeks open, you see a male goblin, really well dressed, in a tiny little accountant's outfit, where it's double-breasted to one side with a nice lapel. Has small spectacles across the bulbous and pointed nose. No hair. The teeth-- which characteristically of a goblin tend to overlap and protrude-- have been really well-kept. Very well-groomed goblin! Pokes around the corner, "Hello?"

LAURA: Hi!

MARISHA: Hello.

MATT: "Can I help you?"

LAURA: Can he help us?

TALIESIN: We were hoping to make an appointment with--

MARISHA: With Yussa. Yussa Errenis. It would be really fantastic to talk to him.

MATT: "Do you have an appointment?"

SAM: We were going to make one.

MARISHA: Yes. Or at least if you can inform us how to make an appointment.

MATT: He relaxes a second after the chest is puffed up, his presentation relaxes and the gut (puffing) underneath the outfit as he no longer feels that he needs to put on a presentation. He goes, "Well, let me take a look at the book. Hold on just a second." He closes the door behind him.

LAURA: Can we still see the door?

MATT: You can see the door, yeah. It wasn't there when you walked around previously.

MARISHA: Maybe it's his assistant.

LAURA: What does the door look like?

MATT: It looks like a standard door. It's circular at the top. It looks like it's wood slats, metal crossbars hold it all together. There's no handle or knocker. It appears to only open from the inside.

LAURA: Whoa.

TRAVIS: What knockers! Young Frankenstein, just to be clear.

MATT: Oh yeah. A few moments pass. The door opens up again and he has a tiny leather journal and he, "All right, soonest that we've got here--" pulls it back, "The soonest we've got here-- let's see, about 17 months, three weeks, and four days."

TALIESIN: Is it possible to maybe move that up into a very quick emergency meeting?

MATT: "What's the emergency?"

TALIESIN: We have to leave town and will not back for quite a while.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "Well, come back in a number of months--"

TALIESIN: It's time sensitive.

LAURA: We could all be dead.

MATT: Make a persuasion check. Actually, no, make a deception check because this is--

TALIESIN: I have genuine questions for this person.

MATT: But you're pushing that this is an emergency. Do you consider it an emergency?

TALIESIN: For the things I want? Okay, I'm boasting a little. Deception, right?

MATT: I'm going to call you on that.

TALIESIN: All right, that's fair.

LAURA: I'm boasting a little.

TALIESIN: Eight?

MATT: (mistrustful noise)

TALIESIN: Does the Blooming Grove mean anything?

MATT: "Not to me."

LAURA: But it might to the dude you work for.

MARISHA: Listen. I'm sure you've heard about the war that's happening in the Empire?

MATT: "Yes?"

MARISHA: We have reason to believe that people with magical interests might be threatened in this time of war and having heard that "Ooh-sah" might be a man magical prowess, we thought that he might have some information or at least we could hand off our fair warning?

MATT: "I'll tell you what, Yussa has bedded down for the evening. You want to come by tomorrow morning, maybe he's in a particularly good mood and could spare you a minute or two of his time, but as of right now I cannot force a meeting at dusk with a few unknowns with no particular truth to their purpose wanting to bypass our entire system of entry. So have a good night and hope for a better tomorrow."

MARISHA: What was your name?

MATT: Door closes.

MARISHA: Tomorrow morning.

TRAVIS: I'm at the fish mart.

MATT: Yep.

SAM: What?

TRAVIS: I'm at the fish mart.

SAM: Oh, jesus!

TALIESIN: With an axe in your hand going, "Who are you?!"

MATT: The fishmonger at the fish mart right now is going like, "I know, it's fucking weird, right? It scares me. I don't like it."

TRAVIS: You don't see a particular door that appears every couple of days or is there a pattern?

MATT: "Yeah. It does when they come in and out, but then it's gone. It's really creepy. I don't like it."

TRAVIS: Yeah, all right. You're an observant one. Anything else that you can share that might help me understand this structure more?

LAURA: (coos) What does the guy look like? (coos)

TRAVIS: Pigeons! Really unsanitary for these fish.

MATT: "I want to help you. I can say that there is a very nice special on red snapper."

TRAVIS: How much?

MATT: "Well, for the entire fish, we're looking at least three silver."

TRAVIS: I'll flip him four silver.

MATT: "Well, there you are." It's a sizable snapper.

TALIESIN: To be fair, you probably haven't had meat in quite a while because I haven't been cooking it.

TRAVIS: Wrapped in the paper stuff, right? Or is it just the fish?

MATT: "For the extra silver, you get paper."

TRAVIS: Oh. Thank you.

MATT: Wraps it up for you.

TRAVIS: Very appreciative. You have yourself a fancy fucking evening.

MATT: At this point, the door is closed and you guys look back and Fjord approaches holding a fish.

TRAVIS: Success!

LAURA: Oh good!

TRAVIS: Yeah, it's a red snapper. Anybody a fan?

LAURA: Mom loves it.

TRAVIS: Oh good.

SAM: You missed a bunch.

MARISHA: Yeah, it turns out you could just knock.

TRAVIS: What are you talking about?

MARISHA: We talked to a little goblin accountant dude. Made an appointment for tomorrow morning, but not really an appointment, an off-the-books appointment.

TRAVIS: Haven't we been through enough that the jokes are unnecessary at this point?

SAM: No, it's true, but we need to figure out how we're going to talk our way into this place tomorrow.

LAURA: You should have said something, Nott.

SAM: I tried but the little guy got away before I spoke--

TRAVIS: What little guy?

SAM: There was a little goblin guy. Which, by the way, none of you should trust.

LAURA: But why?

SAM: He will turn around and stab you in the back the second you're not looking.

LAURA: Why will he do that?

SAM: Because he's a goblin.

TRAVIS: I grab the snapper by the tail and I start gesturing. Let me get this straight. I went to ask questions, you knocked, and some goblin came out of what, the balcony and started answering your questions and then disappeared.

SAM: The front door. Can't you see it right there?

TRAVIS: Is it still there?

MATT: At this point, as you guys are all talking and you look back, the door is not there anymore.

TRAVIS: You motherfuckers. I don't need this shit. I toss it like SeaWorld.

MARISHA: Toss it like SeaWorld!

SAM: (dolphin squeaking)

LAURA: Oh, save that paper. Caleb will want it.

SAM: Oh yes.

TRAVIS: Ducey! Did this happen?

TALIESIN: Yep.

TRAVIS: Really?

TALIESIN: Really.

TRAVIS: And you just knocked and a door appeared?

TALIESIN: Yep.

MARISHA: Sorry, it shouldn't have come out of my mouth. It's inherently untrustworthy.

TALIESIN: I don't know, I liked it.

LAURA: That is not true, Beau.

TRAVIS: It just seemed so fantastic.

MARISHA: Yeah, honestly it was the path of least resistance that surprised me as well. I'm used to things being difficult. Maybe I just make things difficult.

TRAVIS: No, I don't think that's it.

MARISHA: Maybe I'm having a moment of self-realization.

TRAVIS: Let's not do that.

TALIESIN: Ride it. I approve of this. This is great.

MARISHA: Anyway.

TRAVIS: So we come back in the morning--

SAM: We're going to need some information to give to get in.

TRAVIS: What information?

SAM: I don't know. Something that would make a powerful mage want to talk to us. We need to know a magical secret--

TRAVIS: Uk'otoa.

SAM: Or talk to him about Uk'otoa--

MARISHA: We have a ton of magical secrets.

LAURA and MARISHA: We also have the dodecahedron.

MARISHA: We have the Happy Fun Time Ball.

LAURA: Oh my gosh, the Happy Fun Time Ball!

MARISHA: We witnessed an attack on another wizard's tower in Zadash. I wasn't lying when I said magic people might be under attack.

SAM: That's true. These are all truths.

MARISHA: I know!

LAURA: What if-- You know how all these things were stolen from people?

TRAVIS: Uh-huh.

LAURA: What if maybe they were stolen from this guy?

TRAVIS: We walk in and we say, "Are you missing anything?"

LAURA: But then we'll have to give it back to him.

SAM: Not without money.

LAURA: No, it's his. We'd have to give it back. That's how it works here in Nicodranas.

TRAVIS: That might be okay though, Jester. What if we give it back and he answers us some amazing questions or--

LAURA: I don't want questions. I want to go back to the Fappy--

LIAM: Oh my god!

LAURA: The Happy Fun Time Ball! There are so many secrets there! The Fappy Fun Time Ball.

MATT: That's a true artifact, to be fair.

LIAM: (as Jester) I will never come out again.

TRAVIS: Well, maybe we don't offer that right away.

MARISHA: I don't think we have to offer the dodecahedron, either. We have our eyewitness accounts of--

SAM: Caleb will know what to say.

LAURA: Caleb should have been here.

TRAVIS: Yeah and we really should go back and get some good dinner and some sleep so we can get back here toot-sweet!

MARISHA: Don't get me wrong. Caleb is very smart. I know we all know that--

SAM: With magic especially.

MARISHA: But you guys have noticed he's not necessarily the best talker, right?

SAM: He's an amazing talker. He's charming and handsome.

TALIESIN: I think also, since you seem to be leaning towards honesty, I'm always a big fan of honesty being the best way to approach these. Or as much of the truth as is possible at any moment.

MARISHA: Well, you can justify anything.

TALIESIN: I'm always happier to omit than lie if we have to. Lying's weird.

MARISHA: I feel like we're bonding. Why have you never told me this before? You should have led with that.

TALIESIN: Huh. I don't know what that means, but I agree.

SAM: Get a room!

LAURA: We have one! Let's go back to it.

TALIESIN: Too much has been happening here.

MATT: So you guys return to the Lavish Chateau?

LIAM: How long were roughly did all this mess last before they come back? How long have I been in the room?

MATT: Well, it depends if you guys are going back. Are you--

TRAVIS and SAM: We're going back.

MATT: So they've been gone for roughly, I'd say, two hours.

LIAM: Ugh. Okay.

MARISHA: Is that bad?

TALIESIN: Potion I bought is for Caleb, so Caleb gets the healing potion.

MATT: You have a standard healing potion Caleb.

LIAM: I'm busy. Come back later.

TALIESIN: We're going to the tower tomorrow.

MATT: Do you still have the fish or did you eat the fish?

SAM: I ate just a part of the tail but the rest of is a little chewed on but in paper for dinner.

MATT: The chef offers to prepare that as your dinner is already being set for the rest of the group at the request of the Ruby.

LIAM: I would have been in whatever chambers were given to us so if Caduceus came in with that potion, I barely nodded and just kept doing what I was doing.

MATT: By the way, Caleb's hair is this cowlick mess where it's perpetual dog tongue licking the entire time that he's been having to concentrate on his business.

LIAM: Frumpkin is bushed out. The tail is bushed out. It's all over and is just staring at Nugget.

LAURA: As soon as I come home, I go: Nugget, home!

MATT: (dog panting) Then jumps towards you, but from ten feet and then appears right in front of you and knocks you into the wall.

LAURA: I love him. We're home.

MATT: Marion comes and greets you guys. Dinner is prepared. Meal is enjoyed and you all prepare yourselves to bed down for the evening and take on your events of the following day.

MARISHA: Dope.

MATT: We'll go ahead and take our break. A good point to kick into the next day when we return. We'll be back here in a few minutes after we have our short break. As a reminder, we have our Wyrmwood giveaway of tonight.

LIAM: What kind of wood is it?

MATT: This is a very nice white oak tabletop tray. Leather interior. White oak. From our friends at Wyrmwood for one lucky winner this evening. The keyword tonight is "home."

ALL: Aww.

MATT: To enter this contest, go ahead and hop over to the Critical Role twitch at twitch.tv/criticalrole and enter the word "home" once in chat room. Any more than that and you would be disqualified. We'll come back from the break with the winner. Once again, unfortunately we can only do people in the U.S. and Canada excluding Quebec, but between that we'll have a winner of you guys when we come back here in a few minutes. See you then.

LIAM: Everyone besides Quebec.

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back. So before we get back into the story, our winner of our Wyrmwood giveaway this week is Sasudo456. Sasudo456, congratulations, we'll have that sent off to you ASAP. After an evening's rest in the luxurious rooms of the Lavish Chateau and a fine breakfast, what would you like to do for the day in Nicodranas?

TRAVIS: Run, double-dash back towards the wizard's tower.

MARISHA: Yeah, appointment in the morning, he said come back in the morning.

SAM: Caleb, what is going to get us in that door? Is it information about Uk'otoa?

LIAM: What door, what are you talking about?

SAM: We talked about this over dinner last night--

LIAM: No, I didn't eat with you.

SAM: We definitely did, we had a big dinner. Anyway--

LAURA: You didn't come to the dinner at all, Caleb?

LIAM: No.

SAM: He's just being coy. We need a story to get us past the fucking goblin-man who's keeping us from getting in the tower. Something to share, something that his master Yussa Errenis would find yussa-ful.

LIAM: Before we go down that road, may I ask what is our actual purpose that we are not telling him about? Why are we doing this?

TRAVIS: I want to see the inside!

LAURA: I'm pretty sure it's just because we think it's cool.

SAM: I have an actual reason.

LIAM: Ja?

SAM: A powerful mage, with access to magical spells and books.

LIAM: So we are going to go in and case the joint to rob him blind?

SAM: No! Maybe we just take a few books.

LAURA: Maybe he's really nice and he wants to be our best friend.

TALIESIN: I have some legitimate questions about things that I am curious about, and we do actually own some objects that maybe we should have a learned man take a look at.

MARISHA: We told him it was an emergency, so we still have to go forward with that.

TALIESIN: Mine is.

MARISHA: For you.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: But what is going to be an emergency for a man that's not threatened by the things that you're threatened by?

TRAVIS: Uk'otoa.

TALIESIN: There seems to be a lot of weird things happening.

MARISHA: Is no one into talking about the tower getting attacked in Zadash?

SAM: It's true, and it's impending danger, I like that one a lot.

LIAM: I do too, there is a war brewing in the Empire, it is going to spill south. That is not a lie, that is an inevitability. So I feel that we can talk to him, and trust me, no one in this room is more curious about the inside of that tower than I am, but to what end are we doing this? Like are we going to go to the hilt, are we going to slay this mage and take his books, or make nice conversation and steal a book? It seems like--

MARISHA: We could just make nice conversation and ask for a book. Oh god, I'm starting to sound like Caduceus!

TRAVIS: Yeah, you better watch yourself.

LAURA: No, that didn't really sound like him very much.

TALIESIN: You can be a lot lower.

LIAM: Caduceus is very soothing to listen to.

TRAVIS: I'd like to know what he knows, if he knows more about Uk'otoa or maybe how to counteract him.

SAM: That's right, there is still one Uk'otoa gate out there that we don't know where it is, maybe this mage knows where it is.

TRAVIS: Maybe he's up for a friendly conversation. I don't think we're your average fisherman. I mean, we've seen some shit.

LIAM: Well, I am curious, and Beauregard is correct that it is something we could legitimately talk about without spilling the beans about everything that everyone has got going on with themselves, and I am, of course, curious. I just want to make sure. You know, I've talked about calculated risks before, and I don't want to run willy-nilly towards folly like we have done with the boat. We are all standing here, but that was foolish.

MARISHA: Look, at the end of the day, this guy has access, right? Making him our ally in some way could come in useful, even in ways we might not be aware yet.

LAURA: What do you think, Yasha?

MATT: "Well, I mean, do what you're going to do, just try not to get us killed by a wizard, please?"

LAURA: Good call.

TRAVIS: Yep, of the utmost importance.

MARISHA: She's so poignant when she speaks.

LIAM: We just don't need to be too pushy.

ALL: No!

SAM: We all have questions, and there's a lot of unknowns out there, and if this person could check off just one of the boxes, then that would be worth it. Maybe we make an ally and he can check off more than one box, tell us about the dodecahedron.

TRAVIS: Check off a bunch of boxes.

LIAM: Yeah, well potentially he could turn us over to people that we are not interested in turned over to. But I'm not saying no, let's just be careful, that's all.

TRAVIS: Yeah, fair enough.

MARISHA: Well, this guy is anti-Clovis Concord, so, I don't know. I don't think he's--

LAURA: I worry that he's going to do something to you Caleb, personally.

LIAM: I don't think so.

MARISHA: I have a feeling this guy is a bit of a rogue agent in terms of-- Right? Because the Clovis Concord-- Sorry, a little repeat of the Concord?

MATT: The Clovis Concord is a union of all the various city-states that make up--

MARISHA and MATT: The Menagerie Coast.

MATT: Correct.

MARISHA: They're like the government for Menagerie.

MATT: Yes. While each city is locally governed in and of itself, for the marquis that run all the various merchant guilds-- It's very much a guild-centric government.

MARISHA: Like an oligarchy?

MATT: Kind of.

LIAM: Like the early colonies here?

MATT: Yeah, in a way. But all the marquis work together to maintain a generally consistent rule of law and maintain peace and order through that.

MARISHA: They're anti this guy because he's outside of their--

MATT: You don't know how they feel about him, but from what you heard from the Ruby is that he seems to be the one person who won't sell their house in the neighborhood to get the train tracks built, you know? That kind of thing.

MARISHA: I just wrote down "the chagrin of the Clovis Concord," so I'm assuming that's what she said.

TRAVIS: You're there.

MATT: There you go.

TRAVIS: So who did the knocking last time?

MARISHA: Jester.

TRAVIS: Did you do anything special?

LAURA: Yeah. It was a real special knock.

TRAVIS: Can you replicate it today?

LAURA: I think I can.

TRAVIS: Then get after it.

LAURA: Are we right in front of the tower?

SAM: We are.

LIAM: We had a walk-and-talk just now.

MATT: As you guys have been walking and talking towards the tower in the early morning hours.

TRAVIS: Power-walking.

MATT: All right, as you guys make your way to the Open Quay, you approach the tower. All right, you knock?

LAURA: Take notes, Fjord. Knock, knock, knock.

TRAVIS: Grabbed her elbow.

MATT: There's a pause. "Can I help you?"

LAURA: Wait, does that not sound like a goblin? Where is it?

SAM: Is it on our side, or around the--

MATT: You're hearing it around you.

LAURA: Look up!

MATT: You see about 30 feet up, that balcony that was there originally is there, and standing at the edge of it you see a figure. Hard to see at this angle and this distance, but a figure is there with long, dull golden robes, holding a small teacup and a saucer, glancing over the edge and looking down.

TALIESIN: We were hoping for an audience if you have time this morning?

MATT: "You just happened to approach and knock for an audience?"

TALIESIN: We came by yesterday, and we were told it might be best to come back in the morning. We brought tea.

MATT: "Did you make an appointment with Wensfeld?"

TALIESIN: Yes, he said to come back in the morning.

MARISHA: It's an emergency.

LAURA: We have really good tea!

MARISHA: Earl Grey!

MATT: Both of you make persuasion checks.

TRAVIS: Damn it!

TALIESIN: We don't have Earl Grey, I don't think.

SAM: First good roll of the night.

TRAVIS: We do have Earl.

LAURA: 21!

MARISHA: Natural one. We don't have Earl Grey.

SAM: That's true.

TALIESIN: We don't.

MATT: "Well, it appears that you have not made an appointment, and you do not have the tea that you are promising."

LAURA: But we have better tea than that.

TALIESIN: I'm a fine tea-maker.

SAM: Give him some information!

TRAVIS: We also have news of grave import.

MARISHA: From Zadash, from the Empire.

SAM: Dangerous information.

MATT: "Then, please, would you be so kind as to present me with this dangerous information."

LAURA: Don't you want our tea, though?

SAM: We might not want to shout it in the streets, up to you!

MATT: "You don't have to shout it." You notice that his voice is a whisper, even though he's 30 feet away from you.

TALIESIN: We feel a bit exposed, I would admit.

MATT: "You're safe." There's some sort of amplification to his voice and it's placing it omnipresent around you at this low volume, like he's right there.

LIAM: Can we tell from where we are if he's human or elven, or--?

MATT: Make a perception check.

LIAM: 21.

MATT: Glancing up, he appears to be elven, a darker complexion, which is different from the elves of Bysaes Tyl, up in the Empire, which come from the north near Uthudurn, which was mentioned before, so this is probably an elf from Gwardan, which is one of the coastal cities here, which originated from Marquet long ago, like a lot of the Menagerie Coast did.

TALIESIN: Mr. Deep Lore.

LAURA: Knows it all!

MATT: Some people have hobbies, I stay at home and write this.

TALIESIN: I'm going to pull a pouch of my better tea and... I'm not really sure what to do with it.

SAM: Give him some info!

TALIESIN: Have you ever heard of The Blooming Grove?

MATT: He takes a second. "I'm sure that it's crossed my path, but it is not in my immediate peripheral."

TALIESIN: This tea is made from a flower that only grows there in the north, from one of the original families. It's very rare.

MATT: "Choose one, and enter."

LAURA: (whispers) Just one person gets to go in?

MATT: You look down to talk amongst yourselves, and there's a door on the wall that wasn't there when your attention was faced away from it.

TRAVIS: We all bum-rush it! No, I'm good. I'm not fucking with this one.

MATT: And you punch Fjord for no reason?

MARISHA: Eliminate your enemies!

SAM: (quietly) Maybe take someone who can get word out?

TALIESIN: You're making a big assumption that word can leave.

SAM and TRAVIS: That's true.

TALIESIN: Let's not. It's either probably you or me, I suppose. I don't know.

TRAVIS: You plus one.

SAM: You plus one. You get a plus one.

LAURA: Oh, I thought it was just choose one.

MATT: He was telling him to choose one and enter, so there is a plus one.

LAURA: Oh, there is a plus one!

TALIESIN: Let's get all the things we might want to show him together really quickly.

SAM: What might we want to show him?

TALIESIN: I want the dodecahedron.

LAURA: I don't want to show him the dodecahedron.

SAM: No.

LAURA: (singing) But you can look at it and get a little lucky luck!

MARISHA: Maybe he'll see us looking at it.

LIAM: Did he just hear that entire conversation?

MATT: Probably.

TALIESIN: We'll talk about it.

TRAVIS: Three notes are ask about Uk'otoa, I trust you, make good decisions.

SAM: Is there any evidence? Do we have any items from the Xhorhasian-- the crick that we found?

TALIESIN: We have the--

LAURA: Don't call him a--

TALIESIN: Do you trust me?

LAURA: Well yeah, but I don't know him.

TALIESIN: Okay, you keep it, but--

SAM: Do you want Fappy Fun Ball?

TALIESIN: Yes, please.

SAM: You do want Fappy Fun Ball?

TALIESIN: Yes, please.

SAM: Should we give him Fappy Fun Ball?

TRAVIS: Yep.

TALIESIN: And I may, with your permission, mention what we have? Thank you.

LAURA: Don't lose this, okay?

TRAVIS: What is it?

LAURA: That's the Fappy Fun Ball.

TALIESIN: Only if it leads to something better.

LAURA: Caduceus!

TALIESIN: Try and be good.

SAM: Caduceus, just bringing this up: you know that Beau ruins every situation she's in.

LAURA: You don't do that, Beau.

SAM: And is horribly abrasive to talk to and sometimes look at.

LAURA: That's not true. You're beautiful and you're also really nice.

TALIESIN: I feel like between Beau and I, we cover everything very well.

SAM: You're not taking the dodecahedron in, right?

LAURA and TALIESIN: No.

SAM: But one of you should look at it before you go in.

LAURA: Yeah, that's what I said.

TALIESIN: I don't need it.

TRAVIS: You've got some high charisma, right?

LAURA: Look at it, Beau.

LAURA: Just for a minute. Look at it.

MARISHA: I look up at Yussa. Is he watching?

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: You should take Caleb, he's a master of magic!

TALIESIN: No, we're going in.

TRAVIS: Yeah, go in. Go, that's your fate.

MARISHA: I go in!

MATT: As you reach out, there's no handle for the door, you place your hand on it, and it opens inside. As soon as you look within-- and the rest of you can see around the rather hulking form of Caduceus, which you have to duck to get through the doorway-- on the inside it looks to be a very simple sitting room, a den. You can see two couches facing each other at an angle, with a deep red-brown maroon upholstery to it, a velvety texture.

MARISHA: Before we went in, I wanted to-- can I bring Frumpkin?

MATT: You've got to do that now, because you're walking in.

MARISHA: Yep, Frumpkin.

LIAM: What?

MARISHA: Give me Frumpkin.

LIAM: For what?

MARISHA: Do you not want to see in this?

MATT: The door is closing behind Caduceus.

MARISHA: Fuck it, I'll leave. He won't give me his damn cat.

MATT: You enter behind Caduceus. On the inside, there is a singular staircase that spirals down from the upper floor, maybe about 15 feet up. There's this set of two couches, a small table, there's already a small platter that has a couple of small teacups and a teakettle of some kind.

TALIESIN: Brewed or unbrewed? Just ready to be brewed?

MATT: You don't know. The rest of the chamber has no windows, it's all locked off. There is a chandelier above, very simple metal ring that has these glass baubles placed in six different places along it that give a soft, pulsing-- similar to firelight-- a warm, orange glow. It's a nice dark, comfortable den atmosphere. What do you guys do?

TALIESIN: I'm going to check to see if there's tea brewed, and if there isn't, I'll brew tea.

MATT: There is no tea brewed.

TALIESIN: I will brew some tea.

MATT: All right. As you begin that process, you hear the soft footsteps beginning to descend the stairs, and there you see the figure come down. It is a male elf, light-brown, tan skin. The hair is short-- cut very short in the back, and it curls up into this side wave. Jet-- not jet. Jet-white is not a thing. Stark white hair, and very chiseled features, but you can see the crow's nest wrinkles coming in. From what elves you've seen, this is a very old elf. Of what age begins to come through, there are a lot of years on this elf. Shorter than most elves that you've seen, probably comes to about maybe five feet, maybe a little under that. The robes themselves have a golden shimmer that looks like the threads themselves may actually be gold or something that very much mimics the properties of gold. As he steps down, the rest of the robe drags down the spiral. He comes and sits on-- Are you both sitting at the same couch?

MARISHA: Sure.

MATT: All right. He goes and quietly sits in the one across. Sits back. There is a stoic, emotionless face there, head cocked to the side out of curiosity. "Well, while you finish your tea you have promised, what is this emergency you have brought to my attention and interrupted my morning routine for?"

MARISHA: I deeply-- You have a morning routine? Oh that's impressive-- Sorry! Deeply apologize for interrupting. We're from Zadash. We are a hired mercenary group here to deliver very specific information, from Zadash, about an attack that happened on the Zauber Spire.

MATT: "And at whose behest have you been hired to deliver this information to me?"

MARISHA: Well, it is a joint effort between the Hall of Erudition and the Cobalt Soul.

MATT: He eyes you very closely.

MARISHA: A lot of people are banding together now that war is on the home front. So unlikely alliances are happening all across the continent.

MATT: "So part of this is requesting alliance with the Cobalt Soul?"

MARISHA: Just a friendly passing off of information.

MATT: "Very well. Is the tea ready?"

TALIESIN: The tea is indeed ready.

MATT: "How wonderful. Pour it if you do not mind. Thank you."

MARISHA: Of course, if you would like to discuss alliances...

TALIESIN: Stick to what we know, for now.

MATT: "It is quite good."

TALIESIN: Thank you. I'll leave some extra for later.

MATT: "I'd appreciate it. Blooming Grove, yes. Is there a name to this one?"

TALIESIN: That family was one of the first four-- I think it may have been the Graves, actually, which is ironic, the more I think about it. Each tea is made mystically from a family that is buried within our graveyard.

MATT: "This I recall since you brought it up, yes. Thank you. Continue, please."

MARISHA: Yes, I guess just a friendly passing of information and that maybe you would like to exchange information in return, if you might know anything.

MATT: "Well, offer your information and if there is something I can offer that seems relative or involved, I will be happy to pass it along as well."

MARISHA: Fantastic, thank you. Uh...

(laughter)

MARISHA: Trying real hard here, guys.

TRAVIS: Yes. Good. Excellent.

MARISHA: Well, as we mentioned, the Xhorhasian army has breached into the empire. We witnessed an attack from crick assassins on the tower.

TALIESIN: I didn't. I was told--

MARISHA: Sorry. He wasn't with us at the time, but the rest of us did witness an attack and encountered the Xhorhasian ourselves.

MATT: "This was the assault on the Tri-Spire, correct?"

MARISHA: Correct. I see you've heard.

MATT: "Word gets around, in certain circles."

MARISHA: Beyond that we've recently heard that the Xhorhasians have reached Felderwin.

MATT: "I've heard this as well."

MARISHA: Our group has been on the ocean, in search for further information on behalf of the Empire.

MATT: "The ocean seems a strange place to seek for information when the Xhorhasians are fighting in the East."

MARISHA: You're not wrong. We got word halfway through, in a jungle, that a lesser god that likes to go by the name of Uk'otoa might have some sway in everything that's going on.

MATT: "Uk'otoa is a mythological entity in the history of the Ki'Nau, the people who were of this coast before the Marquesians came. So I've heard of it, but it has been long gone."

MARISHA: I don't think so. I think he's on the verge of returning, and I think there might be followers and patrons who might be aiding that cause.

MATT: "You think this Uk'otoa is connected to this war in the east?"

MARISHA: We have reason to believe that maybe some Xhorhasian spies and soldiers might be worshipers of Uk'otoa.

TALIESIN: There are a lot of strange things all happening in congruence.

MATT: "There are strange things happening all across Exandria at any given time. To find the threads that truly tie them, that takes an insightful mind. Continue."

TRAVIS: (nervous laugh) Fuck.

MARISHA: We've received a vision, through mystical means that I do not feel comfortable sharing, of a potential location for where Uk'otoa is captured. A jungle landscape somewhere on the continent. You wouldn't happen to have any ideas would you?

MATT: "Well, to be honest, there are many jungle landscapes on this coast. I have not heard anything of Uk'otoa's location, nor is it of any particular interest to me at the moment."

MARISHA: Okay.

SAM: (quietly) Next!

MARISHA: Beyond that--

LAURA: Checking the boxes, checking the boxes!

MARISHA: We found a thing.

SAM: Yep.

MATT: "Tell me of this thing you found."

MARISHA: (aside) Which thing should I tell him about?

TALIESIN: Start with the least interesting and work your way up, I suppose.

MARISHA: It was presented to us as the Happy Fun Time Ball.

TALIESIN: I actually have it, if I recall, I grabbed it from you. I'm going to put it on the table.

MATT: You see his fingers trace a few small gestures in the air, speaking very quietly under his breath.

LAURA: And all three of you bamf to...

(laughter)

TRAVIS: A bright green dragon.

MATT: "Interesting."

TALIESIN: Odd.

MATT: "How did you come about this?"

MARISHA: Stumbled upon us through a little girl. I think she thought it was a toy.

TALIESIN: Things keep stumbling upon us.

MATT: "How does this connect to the war in the east?"

TALIESIN: Things that should not be... Things are becoming misplaced that should not be misplaced. I feel like that fact that we have this means that a powerful magic user is no longer available. People of great power going missing and getting attacked. The tower. All these things.

MATT: "You are not wrong. The individual who this belongs to, however, has been missing for quite some time."

TALIESIN: Apparently, if I recall, is no longer with us now.

MATT: "Well there is no confirmation of that, but has not been seen in many, many years."

MARISHA: Seems like everyone is getting butterfingers with their magical items or magical folk.

MATT: "Interesting."

TALIESIN: There's more. I'm going to show the sword, just because this is odd. And there was also-- The grove is dying.

MATT: "Is this related to the corruption from Molaesmyr?"

TALIESIN: I don't know. Perhaps. I asked the Wildmother for guidance and it brought me to this. That certainly sparks my interest.

MATT: "If I recall this Blooming Grove exists in the Savalierwood, correct?"

TALIESIN: Yes.

MATT: "The fact that it's been able to resist the corruption of the forest this long is in itself a testament to its guardians"

TALIESIN: Do you know anything of its sister temples? Of whether they hold or not? If...

MATT: "I do not think that is my specialty, unfortunately. I am not a purveyor of faith."

TALIESIN: There is no reason for this magic to be diminishing. It's very odd. Why would it be diminishing?

MATT: "I could not tell you. Perhaps it was an imperfect enchantment, or perhaps the magic that holds sway over the Savalierwood is growing stronger. But that would be--"

TALIESIN: That would be odd in itself.

MATT: "It would, but unfortunately that is beyond my specialties."

MARISHA: Do you not find it concerning that the Savalierwood is on the borderlines of the Xhorhasian Empire?

MATT: "It is on the borders, actually, of the Greying Wildlands in the north. It is closer to the Empire than it is Xhorhas, so it would a bigger threat to the King Bertrand Dwendal than it would be to any of the Kryn Dynasty."

MARISHA: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I actually knew that.

MATT: "But it seems to only spread through the forest and seems to be proximity to Molaesmyr's ruins, so it has been that way for a number of centuries. If there is a sign of it expanding into the Pearlbow Wilderness, then that is something you should definitely let the king know, but I do not know of any signs of that. Once again, I do not mean to rush you, but--"

TALIESIN: The last thing-- Well I don't know. I'm not going to say it because you're the smart one, but I think perhaps it is worth mentioning the thing you saw when the tower fell, the thing that was being ferretted, the thing you saw. I don't know how to best describe it.

MARISHA: I'm sure you have very keen eyes and you saw the artifact that I was looking at before I entered into this tower?

MATT: "I saw something. I do not know the nature of it."

MARISHA: It appears to be a magical geometric orb that has the ability to bend elements of time and space and fate.

MATT: "These are radical claims that you make."

MARISHA: I've seen into it.

MATT: "How much capability does it have? How did you come upon it? These are now two extremely powerful things in your grasp that you seem to not have a full understanding of its capabilities. That is dangerous."

TALIESIN: I think that would be a longer conversation for when you have time if you feel like investing in what we're doing and how we're moving about the world.

MARISHA: We mentioned we were not your ordinary folk. So, as you can see, things happen to fall into our lap.

MATT: "And you bring them to me why?"

MARISHA: We need allies.

TALIESIN: We need people who are better than ourselves.

MARISHA: As you mentioned, we have very powerful artifacts that we're not very sure about. But our options are turning them over to the empire, which doesn't seem attractive.

MATT: "So you are from the Empire. You are of the Cobalt Soul in Zadash, but you are not aligned "with the Dwendalian Empire yourself. Where are your allegiances?"

MARISHA: Depends.

TALIESIN: To the Wildmother.

MATT: "And you?"

MARISHA: Depends on who's offering at the time.

MATT: "So you have no allegiances? You can be bought any which way, depending on the offer?"

TALIESIN: She has allegiances to us.

MARISHA: Correct.

MATT: "That does not inspire trust."

MARISHA: I know.

MATT: "I want to know the individuals that I would work with can be trusted."

MARISHA: I tend to like fellow trustworthy people, even though I'm not necessarily trustworthy myself, but, ironically, I fucking hate untrustworthy people. So, if you're down, I'm down, is what I'm saying.

MATT: "What are the terms you're offering?"

TALIESIN: As I've spent some time with these people, they are people of the world, but I've found Ms. Beau and the rest of them to be loyal to each other, which I find to be a very admirable trait.

MATT: "But she says she has no loyalty unless the world pulls her in a direction."

MARISHA: No! I didn't say I didn't have loyalty. I said I had loyalty to these people.

LIAM: Oh god, I need to stress eat. Get it open!

MATT: "But that is indeed a loyalty, then."

MARISHA: Of course, and I have a few slots open in my loyalty bank, so if you're willing to pay the price of rental--

MATT: At this point, a voice comes around the corner from the staircase above that goes, "Sir! Just got some sort of a--" and the goblin starts running. He goes, "Not now, Wensfeld!" Turns back up the steps.

TALIESIN: Ms. Beau is not as used to speaking plainly as some of us are. It's okay. One of your better attributes is your ability to talk around something. We need friends. We need assurances. We would like to know that you are a good and trustworthy person and we would, respectfully, like to trade, perhaps, some information and have a friendly face on the coast we would be most grateful for.

MATT: "So what you are saying is you are a band of unaligned roving mercenaries in search of alliances outside of the political interests of this current conflict?"

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Yes. The others do not know, I believe, how things may change soon and I think it would be good. And I think they're going to turn well. I think they're going to turn out very well, but I think it would be good to have the right people in the corner when it is time.

MATT: "Then what do you hope to gain from my alliance?"

TALIESIN: Information, for the moment.

MATT: "About?"

TALIESIN: About the things in our possession, powers that we are tapping into, the people we may come across.

MATT: "And eventually what favors would you be asking?"

MARISHA: We all know corruption runs rampant in both the Empire and the Clovis Concord. I don't want anything to do with that. I just want the truth.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

MARISHA: This is not my fucking best. I'm better at lying! That's not too bad! 18.

MATT: You see his right eye just-- and both of you being relatively insightful people, you see just this faint twitch at the corner of the right eye at the mention of the Concord. He goes, "My loyalty is something that is gradually earned. This is as much as you've earned." And he looks to the room. "There are many floors in this tower. With more loyalty earned, perhaps you'll see more of my tower. But for now," and he looks over to the door. The door opens up. "The rest of your friends can enter. Let's have a conversation."

TRAVIS: Did that door just fucking open?

SAM: I think so.

LAURA: Can we go in? Does it mean we can go in? Are they coming out?

SAM: (crossbow cocking)

TRAVIS: (falchion summoning)

LIAM: Caleb puts away the romance novel that he has sped read halfway through.

SAM: I drop the fish that I was half-done eating.

TALIESIN: Our host is aware of our positions and otherwise. I would ask that everyone try and be respectful of the space. Try not to break anything, steal anything, or otherwise.

LAURA: Most definitely.

TALIESIN: Try not to.

LAURA: I walk in very politely.

MATT: All right. As you guys enter again, the rest of the group--

LIAM: It's the goblin at the door, not this mage?

MATT: No, the goblin is gone. Literally, he's still sitting on the couch, the door just opened and he's waiting for you all to enter.

LIAM: Can we all see him from where we are?

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: Total poker face?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: (humming)

SAM: Yeah, let's go in.

LAURA: (singing) I'm already in the door.

LIAM: Caleb takes the rear.

MATT: Okay. So you got a marching order on this? All right. So you go out to retrieve them. You stayed on the couch?

MARISHA: Did I? Yeah, sure.

TALIESIN: I stood up and waved everybody in.

MATT: So you guys are staying.

TRAVIS: Jester, Nott, Fjord, Caleb.

MATT: All right. At this point, Yussa closes his eyes for a second, whispers something. "Welcome to my chambers. So, now that we've gotten some conversation underway, I would like to know who I am speaking with. You are all what? Who?"

MARISHA: The Mighty Nein.

MATT: "Very well."

TALIESIN: Oh!

MATT: "Don't even attempt. You are?"

TRAVIS: I'm Fjord.

MATT: "Fjord."

MARISHA: Beauregard.

LIAM: I'm Caleb Widogast.

SAM: I'm Nott.

LAURA: Jester Lavore.

TALIESIN: And I'm Caduceus. Again, it's a pleasure.

MATT: Yasha just gives a nod. "Yasha." "I am Yussa Errenis. I am the owner of the Open Quay, and I have been a practitioner of the arcane arts in seclusion for over 200 years. You carry with you something that is very dangerous and I would very much like to stay here, because the longer it's on your persons, the larger chance there is you misuse it and destroy yourselves, or it falls in the hands of someone who should not have it."

LAURA: We almost died in there.

MATT: "Case in point."

TRAVIS: I'm assuming he's talking about the Happy Fun Ball?

MATT: Yes.

TALIESIN: I would ask, just so that it doesn't get me into trouble with my compatriots that I convinced that honesty and forthrightness was the best policy--

MATT: "Should you wish to come and discuss or see it, or we can compare notes on our experiences, you know where it is."

TALIESIN: I was hoping for, perhaps, a trade so that they felt that they got something back in return. It doesn't have to, obviously, be so dangerous. If you have something that at least they can feel like they can hold something in the meantime.

MATT: "This was something that did not belong to you to begin with that came into your possession from a third party, and you are just the current custodian of it and nearly got yourself killed. I am doing you a favor. I will study it. I will keep it here where it's safe. If you have need of it, if you need to come look at it, or wish to learn of its secrets, do so in my presence, where it can be done safely."

MARISHA: How about a non-monetary exchange?

MATT: "You."

LIAM: Hmm.

MATT: "It looks like within your coat you are holding tomes. Are you a practitioner of the arcane arts yourself?"

LIAM: Hmm.

MATT: "Have you the capabilities to transport your compatriots via circles of arcane nature?"

LIAM: Via circles of arc-- Transportation, you mean to jump from one city to another? That sort of thing?

MATT: "Yes."

LIAM: Not as of yet.

SAM: But he learns very fast.

LAURA: Can you teach him?

MATT: "I may perhaps have something like that, but at the very least I do keep such a circle reserved for the select friends I keep."

LIAM: Here in your home?

MATT: "Yes. So, as part of our trust of me keeping this sphere, you would be granted the capabilities, once you are able to make this journey, to return here with your friends. You would have an anchor here on the coast and you would be under my protection when you arrive. Does that seem like a fair trade, those who seek friends and allies?"

TRAVIS: I have no objection.

SAM: Seems very fair, yes!

LAURA: How long until you can do something like that, Caleb?

SAM: Probably any day. He reads a lot of books.

MARISHA: Do you have any type of scrolls or spell books--

LAURA: Or candy.

MARISHA: Or candy that you could lend to Caleb's aid, further advancing his ability to learn that?

TALIESIN: I'm, by the way, already putting the ball on the table and leaving it by the tea tray as we have this discussion. I have definitely moved it to the center of the room.

MATT: Okay. He takes it and lifts it, inspects it.

TALIESIN: We can let you know what we saw inside.

MATT: He wraps it into his robe.

LAURA: It drops gold sometimes, though.

MATT: The robe, you watch as he places it over the sphere and the shape beneath just dissipates.

LIAM: You have some knowledge of where that leads?

MATT: "Of where this leads? I do. And the mage it once belonged to."

LIAM: You know him personally?

MATT: "No, I do not know him personally, but there are few in my circles that have not heard of his exploits in the past."

LAURA: Was he a good guy or a bad guy?

MATT: "At a certain level of arcane practitioning, morality becomes a bit ambiguous, but to the common man, I would say probably not a very team player."

TALIESIN: Did we ever get confirmation on the owner's death or did we not?

SAM: No, we just assumed.

LAURA: Yeah, because his pet dragon hadn't seen him in a long time or something.

MATT: "And yes, I do have access to various spells, but I've earned them. I'm willing to share knowledge based on the development of our friendship and proven loyalty."

SAM: How do we prove our loyalty?

MATT: "By not fucking me over."

SAM: We've been here the whole afternoon. We haven't fucked you over once!

LAURA: We gave you a cool ball.

MATT: "You did, and I made a trade of information and a safe haven. When you find more information like this, and more items like this, bring them back to me. There may be times where, perhaps, I could use some help in doing things that I'm not comfortable leaving my tower for. Maybe you could be of aid in that case. There will be opportunities, I'm sure, to earn more trust."

LIAM: Caleb extends his hand out slowly.

MATT: "Sad one."

LIAM: Thank you.

MATT: "But you have to earn."

TRAVIS: Is there anything that we can do for you in the short term?

SAM: Anything to keep an eye out for?

MATT: "I would like very much to see this other... thing that you have come across. If this is a powerful artifact, I am very curious as to what other geometric shapes you've come across."

TALIESIN: That we-- I think we feel also would be something that we would be interested in doing once we feel even more comfortable with this arrangement, and once trust is built.

LIAM: Once you have earned our trust.

TALIESIN: Obviously, you are so much more powerful than we are that it would behoove us to be a little careful.

LAURA: Yeah, you could probably just kill us right now if you wanted to.

TALIESIN: I mean, really, he probably could.

MATT: "You are not incorrect."

LIAM: This one has sentimental value. It is not to be left here.

MATT: "Well, might I at least possibly inquire as to what it is capable of? You may not know the dangers you carry with you as you obviously did not understand of this sphere."

LIAM: We have a better understanding of this one.

MARISHA: As traveling mercenaries, we're used to being in danger.

MATT: "Very well."

LAURA: It makes babies.

MARISHA: (quietly) It does.

SAM: Well, they talked about-- yeah.

TALIESIN: I have a--

MATT: "You have a geometric shape that makes babies?"

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Would it be possible to get an assurance that we could leave this place with it and that no harm would come to us?

TRAVIS: Well, I think if he knew that it helps us on our exploits--

TALIESIN: It does.

TRAVIS: Which thereby helps him. I mean, we are sharing, aren't we?

TALIESIN: I'm willing to take a certain person at their word.

LIAM: I take him at his word that he could kill us all if he wanted to. If he wanted to take it against our will, he would. I am comfortable with you examining it, but we don't wish to leave it here. We wish to bring it with us when we leave.

TALIESIN: No matter what. Also, we would appreciate it if you would not speak of who owns this artifact with anyone. If you have to discuss the artifact, that's one thing, but we would prefer us to be anonymous. It's a dangerous world. And it would show great trust.

MATT: "I am generally uncomfortable in making deals regarding passing glances at world-shattering artifacts, if that be the case, but you have blessed me with some fine tea this day."

TALIESIN: Bring more the next time I go home, if there's a home to go to.

MATT: "You have my assurance. And if it is indeed such a dangerous item and you wish to carry it with you, then woe be unto you. So. Let me see it."

LAURA: Really? Are we sure about this?

TALIESIN: It's time to trust somebody.

SAM: We're all in.

TALIESIN: It's the iron safe, and then-- yeah.

TRAVIS: (singing) Give us a helping hand.

SAM: Did you already look at it today?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Takes it and begins to cast a spell that you recognize as an Identify spell. Casts another spell that you don't recognize. (sighs) Takes a moment and concentrates on it, and you watch his face go slack-- a familiar expression that many of you have seen your friends as they concentrate on it do so.

TRAVIS: Now!

(laughter)

MATT: Aww, it'll be so disappointing when they pass through the illusion.

LAURA: Oh!

MATT: You don't know. You think a mage lets people into his living room unprotected, are you kidding me? You don't live as long as he has without some sort of backup.

TALIESIN: I got Banishment on hold, just in case.

MATT: About a minute passes, and then the muscles in his face tighten back into his neutral expression. "This is-- I have studied much, and this is new to me. I'd be worried if this was something dangerous that I knew and understood well. I find it far more concerning that this is something I know nothing of. Where was this found?"

MARISHA: Zadash. After the Spire attack.

TRAVIS: In the hands of an assassin.

MARISHA: Either it was in the Tri-Spire and they successfully exited with it, or the Xhorhasian were trafficking it.

LAURA: I think the Tri-Spire stole it from the Xhorhasians and they were trying to get it back.

MARISHA: That's what we believe.

MATT: "Very interesting. (sighs) Whatever magic this is, it blends elements of arcane and divine, but is outside of what I know, can sense. It's very alien."

MARISHA: Yussa, do you know of the Empire, the Clovis Concord, stealing artifacts from other shores?

MATT: "I mean, if there is any sort of dominion to hold, you take what is available. I mean, everything as far as Vasselheim to Emon to Ank'Harel. Anyone in power has their threads and eyes out for what could possibly help them maintain their positions in power and what dangers there are out there. That is beyond morality, that is just simple intelligence to survive in a world that is continuously beset by darker powers and things beyond our control. If this was taken from Xhorhas, then god knows what they were attempting to do with it."

LAURA: Make babies.

MATT: "Make babies."

LAURA: Well, that's what the guy said.

LIAM: Very bad people want this thing.

MATT: "Then very bad people will be after you."

SAM: Well, we're also sometimes bad people, so.

MATT: "That does not necessarily mean you're protected. Just be careful."

LAURA: Do you have any ways to protect us? Right now, we're keeping it in this bag. Do you have any better way to keep it secret?

MATT: "I think that is probably the best method you have. Remove it only when absolutely necessary and for short periods of time. That will protect from divination on this plane, but only this plane."

LAURA: Oh, right. Okay.

TALIESIN: That's very good to know. I hope that, now that you understand how much we appreciate your gesture of trust, and how much--

LAURA: (quietly) That's my name.

TALIESIN: Jester of trust. And how much we are putting our faith that you are on the side of good and right, if--

MATT: "I did not say I'm on the side of good and right. I am on the side of maintaining a balance in which society can exist."

TALIESIN: That'll do.

MARISHA: We haven't showed--

LAURA: (gasps) Have you ever heard of the Traveler?

MATT: "No."

LAURA: I look in my bag and I get out a little figure that I made of him.

MATT: "I have no idea what this is."

LAURA: He's really big on balance too. Here, I'll leave it for you. That's also a present, okay?

SAM: Do you want to leave a pamphlet too, so he can find out more information?

LAURA: Yeah, okay. There we go. I'll stick it under the-- there you go.

MATT: He's glancing to you all, like--

SAM: She does this a lot.

TRAVIS: Yeah, she talks to him.

MATT: "Thank you."

LAURA: He's really powerful!

MATT: "I'm sure."

TALIESIN: We would appreciate any information that you may glean about this, Uk'otoa, Traveler, the Blooming Grove. I am of the belief that these things are connected, that these chaotic forces are moving towards something unsettling and unbalancing.

MATT: "Then I will do my best to do what I can on my end of things. Well, that's been my morning tea."

SAM: Thank you for your time.

MATT: "Well, we have one more business to attend. Follow me. The rest of you," and he waves his hand across the table, and on the side of the platter where the teacups were, this conjured plate of biscuits appears.

LAURA: Yay!

MATT: "Enjoy."

TRAVIS: And you die.

MATT: He walks away, gesturing for you to follow.

LAURA: That's my name!

LIAM: I'll promptly follow.

MATT: You head up the stairs. Doesn't say a word to you. It curls around and around for a good two minutes. No windows, very little light. The occasional similar sparkling globe emitting a low torchlight until eventually, you come to another door. The staircase continues upward in a spiral, but there's a doorway to the right and a small landing. It opens. He enters, and you enter with him. This chamber-- it is a small domed room, maybe about 15 feet across, and it is circular on the base. It domes to the top, and there is no other exit.

TRAVIS: Just him and Caleb, right?

MATT: Mm-hmm. You enter?

LIAM: Ja.

MATT: The door closes. Darkness. All of a sudden, you see a rune above you that emits a bright blue light that lights the chamber. Everything is in shades of blue. He gestures to the floor, and as you glance down, you can see now, where the blue light hits, this large, runic circle that encompasses the entire chamber is now glowing in response. You recognize it. This is a teleportation circle. This is a receiving teleportation circle. He looks to you.

LIAM: One way?

MATT: He says, "There are transports I have in other parts of this tower to different places. Earning my trust, perhaps, you may gain more access. But for now, you have a place to return to. How much time do you need?" He gestures to the symbol. "To memorize it."

LIAM: Oh. DM question: I don't know what level, off the top of my head, Teleportation--

MATT: I believe it's 5th-level.

LIAM: So how much time?

MATT: This isn't the spell; this is the receiving rune. When you learn the spell, you can use that spell to return here.

LIAM: Right.

MATT: Do you have access to the spell?

LIAM: No. Oh! Sorry.

MATT: You can either choose it at a higher level when you decide to go up--

LIAM: Yes, I do have it, but it would take me a lot of hours.

LAURA: But you can memorize the rune.

LIAM: I mean, he would look at it for a minute and have the rune in his head.

MATT: Then there you go. When you finish, he goes, "A quick learner. Good to know. Where did you train?"

LIAM: Mostly on my own, to be honest. For years.

MATT: "Impressive. You have a talented eye for picking up arcanic sigils and glyphs."

LIAM: It was not my intention to bother you here. My friends were very curious.

MATT: "That they are."

LIAM: It was fairly obvious to me that this building was real estate owned by someone of great skill.

MATT: "It is designed to keep people like you out, but sometimes, tenacity makes for interesting breakfast conversations."

LIAM: I actually thought it was a very bad idea to come here.

MATT: "It was. But you came anyway, and look where you are."

LIAM: Sometimes follow my friends places I shouldn't.

MATT: "That might one day get you killed. Or may one day get you what you seek."

LIAM: Well, my apologies on my group's presumptuousness. I hope that we have not made a grave error here today, and if we haven't, I hope to earn that trust, as you say.

MATT: "I've lived quite a long while, and the only reason I've lived this long is I have made allies. I followed them into sometimes stupid, unnecessary circumstances. Many of them died helping me. Many of them I outlived. But I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't at least trust in the power of others."

LIAM: That's good advice.

MATT: "Use who you need to, but know, everyone can be useful if you can mete out their skills."

LIAM: (sighs) I'm sure you have much to do today.

MATT: "I'm sure you do as well." The door behind you opens up again, the light turns dark, and the stairway's behind you.

LIAM: Feel for the wall.

MATT: Eventually, you find your way to the staircase; the faint light below guides you to the exit.

LIAM: That eventually spills out down here?

MATT: Yeah, eventually leads you back down to the chamber. You guys are down there waiting.

TALIESIN: I saved you a biscuit.

SAM: These biscuits are real good.

LAURA: There's cinnamon in 'em!

LIAM: Cinnamon-a-mon-a-mon.

MATT: Uniquely, each biscuit tastes different. It is specially designed for your personal interests.

SAM: Mine tastes like fish!

(laughter)

MARISHA: Oh, bourbon.

LAURA: Bourbon biscuit? That's delicious.

MARISHA: It sounds really good!

LAURA: Honestly, a fish biscuit doesn't sound terrible.

MARISHA: It's like a Red Lobster biscuit.

TALIESIN: A lobster biscuit? That a thing?

SAM: Well, thanks.

LAURA: Lobster?

TALIESIN: Lobster biscuit is a thing?

MARISHA: Some places call them lobster rolls.

LIAM: Come on. We are quitting while we're ahead, let's go. Oh, streusel.

MATT: You guys exit the tower, closes behind you.

SAM and MARISHA: How'd it go? How'd it go?

SAM: What new spell do you know?

LAURA: What did you do? What'd you learn? What did he sell you?

SAM: I feel his forehead. Does he have a third eye?

LAURA: Did you see a cool room or anything? Maybe multiple rooms?

MARISHA: Was it made of marble?

LAURA: What did he talk to you about? Did he talk at all or was he just like, "Hmm?"

TRAVIS: Hey, Caleb. What happened in there?

(laughter)

LIAM: We talked about you guys, actually.

LAURA: What did you say? Did you say we're really cool and you love us so much?

TALIESIN: He said we were foolish.

LIAM: I didn't say anything. I listened.

TALIESIN: He said we were foolish.

LIAM: No.

TALIESIN: I don't believe you.

LIAM: I say you are foolish.

TALIESIN: It's true.

SAM: Well, that was great! We got everything; it was exactly what I said! We would go in, we'd get some magic for you, we'd get some knowledge. Good job, Beau!

LIAM: We are lucky that we are not dead!

MARISHA: Thank you. I could barely speak; I could barely get words out.

LAURA: He did a great job, apparently! What, the door opened, you guys.

SAM: Caduceus, good job!

TALIESIN: We are lucky we're not dead. But we are also lucky that, going forward, we're going to get you access to learn more and to grow in an avenue you didn't have open to you before.

MARISHA: See, access! That's what I said earlier! He's smart.

TALIESIN: I think he's going to be a-- if he isn't the death of us, I think he's going to be a good ally. But something's going to be the death of us and it's better just to trust a few people.

MARISHA: You met a rockstar and you look like you want to barf.

LAURA: (singing) It was so cool. You learned something new.

SAM: (monkey noises)

MARISHA: Access. The international sign for entrance, for let me in.

LIAM: We're very lucky the way it worked out. You can't bullshit everyone in this world.

TALIESIN: We didn't bullshit.

LIAM: We got luck--

TALIESIN: I will actually--

LIAM: How did it go? What kind of conversation did you have before we got in there? What did you guys talk about?

TALIESIN: I watched Beau tell the truth. It was very impressive. You're not very good at it, but it was very impressive.

MARISHA: Thank you.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I could tell you were struggling.

MARISHA: It started out as a half-truth. We got there without exposing anything too deeply.

TALIESIN: You were honest without oversharing.

MARISHA: He might think we work for the Empire.

TRAVIS: You expose yourself?

MARISHA: Oh no, not like that. Thought about it, though. Worst case scenario, flash a guy, see what happens.

LAURA: Tell him about your open slots.

MARISHA: I did tell him-- wait, I did tell him about-- how'd you know that, Jester?! Am I talking about my slots too much?

LAURA: You talk about slots a lot.

MARISHA: Fuck.

SAM: Well, now what? What place-- what tower do we break into next? What do we get out of here?

LAURA: I mean, honestly, Nott.

SAM: Hmm?

LAURA: Isn't, you know, your hometown in a little bit of danger?

SAM: Oh, is it? I hadn't been thinking about that every day. But yeah, it is.

LAURA: I mean, maybe we should, you know?

SAM: Wait, don't you want to spend more time with your momsies?

LAURA: Well, of course I do, but my Mama's here and people you care about could be in danger.

SAM: Well, we could swing by, I wouldn't be opposed to that. But--

LIAM: But let's stay in one place for a few days first, right? Before moving on. That way we could stay a few days when we get there. Don't want to run off. Your mother misses you; she wants to see you. She wants to spend time with you.

LAURA: Well yes, of course, Caleb, but people could be in danger.

TRAVIS: She has a good point. I thought we'd hurry back so that we could check.

LIAM: One more day. Or you'll regret it.

LAURA: Only if it's okay with everyone. I could always catch up with you all.

TALIESIN: We're going to need a day to get ourselves together anyway. We don't have-- we're going to have to put everything together. So why don't you just--

LAURA: One more night.

TALIESIN: Why don't you just spend some time with your family and we'll get the cart together and get the supplies together--

LAURA: Set off in the morning?

SAM: That's fine with me.

TALIESIN: Set off.

LAURA: Yeah?

MARISHA: Yeah. Good with me.

TRAVIS: Sounds like a deal.

LAURA: All right.

LIAM: Just for future plans and operations, a mage of that skill level will know if a familiar is-- if someone is staring at him. He invited two in, not three. Here's my cat (poof). Out here. That was not a good idea. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

TALIESIN: You made a good call.

MARISHA: Caleb.

LIAM: Yeah?

MARISHA: I didn't lie to him. Not really, anyway, so, believe what you want. And I walk away.

LAURA: (singing) Whoa, whoa, whoa.

MATT: All right. In the rest of the day that comes about, lest you have any other particular plans to deal with, you get to spend the remainder of this day and the evening with your mother. You guys can pick out your food and supplies for the road. If you're wishing to purchase things, we'll say for the bulk of your journey-- I mean, making stops along the way, at least to get you from Nicodranas to Trostenwald. We'll say if you're heading-- are you heading by way of Zadash to Felderwin or are you crossing over from Alfield to Felderwin?

LAURA: What are we doing? Fjord?

TRAVIS: We go through the Wuyun Gates. Trostenwald. Zadash.

MARISHA: If we go through Alfield, we can check in on our old contact.

TRAVIS: Are we going to Felderwin village?

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Yeah. I mean, it'd be Alfield, really. Zadash is west of Felderwin.

LAURA: I think we should go straight to Felderwin, right?

TRAVIS: Yeah. Trostenwald by way of Alfield and then we'll take the Rillway Road?

SAM: To Alfield?

TRAVIS: To Felderwin.

MATT: You can do that.

TRAVIS: It's a straight shot.

SAM: Sure.

MATT: All right. As you complete your business and have another--

MARISHA: Bryce!

MATT: Yes.

MARISHA: Is Bryce in Alfield?

MATT: Bryce is in Alfield.

MARISHA: They're in Alfield, right?

MATT: Yes, they are.

SAM: Bryce!

MARISHA: Sorry.

MATT: That's okay. You gather your things, the next morning comes after a day of comparative relaxation in the city, which has been not too bad. The next morning comes, the cart has been fetched, you have the rest of your things. Your mother catches you as you're about to head out and goes, "Jester, would you like any of your things from your room before you leave?"

LAURA: Oh. Well, I mean--

SAM: The O-Town Posters?

LAURA: No no no, those can stay. I've moved on.

(laughter)

LAURA: Sure. I guess I could use like, you know, a change of clothes. This dress is a little bit messed up now.

MATT: "All right, no worries." She goes off and begins packing a few things in a little bag, and she comes out with the rest of you. You guys are getting things in the cart and she steps out and there's a little bit of hesitance as she steps beyond the threshold of the Chateau. Takes a deep breath, and then takes a few more steps. Takes like the 15 feet to the cart and goes, "Here."

LAURA: (whispers) Mama.

MATT: "I had something made for you while you were at sea." She pulls out of a small pouch that she has on the side this thin, golden chain with, about the size of a raisin, a little ruby set in with really pretty filigree, and places it around your neck. "This way, no matter where you are, no matter what's happening, you always have the Ruby with you."

LAURA: Oh Mama, thank you so much. I got you something, too.

MATT: "What did you get me?"

LAURA: I get out one of my jars of honey. It comes from an island in the middle of the sea. Very, very sweet; just like your little sapphire.

MATT: "Aww. Thank you so much." Pulls you in and kisses you on the forehead and rubs your cheek. "I'm going to miss you."

LAURA: I miss you already.

MATT: "Aww."

LAURA: I'll send you messages as much as I can, you know.

MATT: "Please do. Every day, if you can."

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: "Take care of her."

TRAVIS: Of course.

MATT: "You know not the vengeance I will bring upon you; and the army of men, "and women, and in-between, that will do what I tell them to."

MARISHA: Oh, no... Yeah, no. We-- Yeah.

SAM: Yeah. We love her; almost as much as you do.

MATT: "Not possible."

SAM: Half as much as you do!

MATT: She puts the honey back in the pouch. "Be safe, everyone."

LAURA: Love you, Mama.

MATT: "I love you too, Jester."

LAURA: Come on Nugget, let's go!

MATT: (panting) Jumps into the cart.

TALIESIN: Oh that's-- No. Yeah, that's the-- Okay.

MATT: You feel Sprinkle starting to back up around your neck.

LAURA: (whispering) It's okay. I just stare at Mama, watch the Chateau as we go. Don't take my eyes off it.

SAM: Hyah!

TALIESIN: Why are you saying hyah?

SAM: Don't we have horses?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I've got them right here, but--

SAM: Hyah!

MATT: As the cart takes off, making its way to the northward streets to exit Nicodranas, Marion Lavore watches you all leave and gives a quiet wave as you all disappear into the streets. As she disappears around the bend and you turn around in your seat to look ahead, you can see the open blue sky above you, and looking towards the distant Cyrios Mountains in the path before you, you make your way northward. So this is quite a few days travel. I'll put aside my Nicodranas notes.

TALIESIN: Roll for initiative.

MATT: It's about four and a half days to the Wuyun Gates. For the sake of brevity, because we've done this once before. The guards that are posted at the Wuyun Gates, there's much more of a force of security here. As you approach, there is a back up to the caravan, more than you previously experienced exiting. Each person coming through is having to provide paperwork that says where you're going, who you're going to see-- It's customs, essentially. It's getting close to your passing through; what do you do?

LAURA: I should forge something really fast. Who do we know--

MARISHA: I forgot about this. We've done this before.

LIAM: It took four days to get here, we've done it before, we would have known this was going to happen. Not the amount of security, but that there was security.

SAM: Didn't we have a way to get back in? No.

LAURA: From somebody in Zadash? Didn't we? Shit. What was that guy's name? That, after we won the thing and then we were in his-- Where you met the guy!

LIAM: Super specific so far.

LAURA: Trent Iki-- Ichi--

LIAM: Ikithon.

LAURA: When you met him--

LIAM: I didn't meet him.

LAURA: When Yasha met him-- Remember we were in that party?

MATT: Okay, so there was Yedaka, who's the guy who runs the actual event and helms the Victory Pit, if that's what you're talking about. If not, then you're referring to the Starosta of the city.

LAURA: Starosta!

SAM: What city is it?

MATT and LAURA: Zadash.

MATT: That was... Starosta Wyatt Fedar.

SAM: We don't have paperwork from him.

LAURA: Yeah, but I could forge something.

SAM: Oh, okay.

MARISHA: The way you did in Zadash?

LAURA: Yeah, but that's where we're heading to.

MARISHA: Okay, okay.

TRAVIS: Do it.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Do you have any pieces of paperwork that have his handwriting? Or his signature?

LAURA: No, but I guess we could say we are going to Starosta What's-His-Fuck in Al--

MARISHA: Field?

MATT: You do have paperwork.

LAURA: Yeah, I do have his.

MARISHA: Is that what we were looking for?

LAURA: Yeah, the smarmy guy.

SAM: The gnome? Kosh Starosta?

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Costa... rosta?

MATT: Kosh was his name.

SAM: Kosh, Kosh, Starosta Kosh.

MATT: So would you like to go ahead and attempt that?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: All right, what would you want it to say?

LAURA: That we are heading back--

MATT: Kosh Clearbarker.

SAM: Kosh what?

MATT: Clearbarker.

SAM: Clearbarker.

LAURA: That we were in Nicodranas on his behalf, and that we are heading back to Alfield to return with his new... pet.

MATT: All right. Go ahead and make a d20 roll with your proficiency bonus and your dexterity.

TALIESIN: Well, it ought to be on a day that-- You should use the mote.

LAURA: I should use the mote. Zoom zoom zoom. Okay.

MATT: All right, so go ahead and make your roll.

LAURA: Add proficiency and dexterity?

MATT: Correct.

LAURA: Okay, that would be 20 plus proficiency-- 23.

MATT: You feel pretty confident about your piece of paperwork you presented. The DC was definitively lowered because it was something that you had existing paperwork as an example of handwriting on, so upon passing through, you present your paperwork and the guard there gives you a look. "All right. You are returning to Alfield, what is your business in Nicodranas?"

LAURA: Yes, we were getting his new pet. They're very rare apparently, or something, hmm.

MATT: "Okay, and you are returning to the Empire? You're not staying in the Empire."

LAURA: We are returning to the Empire.

MATT: "All right, and whom do you pray to?"

LAURA: To... To the old platinum dragon of course! Just like everybody else!

MATT: (laughing) Make a deception check.

(laughter)

LAURA: Shit. That's cocked! Balls, I wanted to take the 17 that was barely there. Deception?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Nine?

MARISHA: Nine!

LAURA: Nein! That old platinum dragon. Ooh. Sure do love that guy.

(laughter)

MATT: "Hold here for a second." And makes a whistle and some the other guards begin to circle and they're going to do a full inspection on the cart.

SAM: Aww, do we have anything?

TRAVIS: Nope.

TALIESIN: No.

MARISHA: Do we have anything bad?

LAURA: No, we just have Nugget.

SAM: Wait, is this our invisible cart or did we ditch that?

TRAVIS: I think this is just a regular cart.

SAM: The cart with invisible shit on it?

TALIESIN: This is the invisible cart, but we told them how it worked last time. And we'll do the same thing this time.

MATT: They just look through it and go, and he reaches in to go and rummage through and passes through the illusion. And you explain how it works?

TALIESIN: Oh yeah. It's to ward off bandits, makes it a little easier to-- Feel free though, it's just an illusion on the cart.

MATT: "Let them through." They go ahead and wave you though. The high-rolling paperwork helped you.

LAURA: Ooh!

MATT: All right. Now, the open blue skies of the coast give to the winter gray of the Marrow Valley. You have four days to Trostenwald. Is there anything you wish to do in that four day period, or no?

LAURA: I'm going to try to teach Nugget. You know, just work on that whole bamfing in and out and staying with us.

MATT: Make an animal handling check.

LAURA: Okay. 12?

MATT: Nugget hasn't spent some time with you. And occasionally will listen to you, but mostly just seems excited that things are around and he gets to go out. You get the sense that the entire time you were gone he was cooped up in your old room and is just like (excited panting) looking at everything around and occasionally leaps out of the cart after something and chases it down and then just bamfs back.

LAURA: Okay, at least there's that.

MATT: It's like a tether teleport. You make your way to Trostenwald?

LIAM: I walk over while she's training the dog. He's getting very good at that. You're doing a good job.

LAURA: Thanks, Caleb.

LIAM: I really don't like dogs, I'm sorry. I finished this book; I thought you might like it. It's about romance at sea with a sailor.

LAURA: What is it called?

LIAM: Did I get a name for it? If I did, Liam does not remember it.

MATT: I don't think you got a name for it, you just got a description of what it contained.

LAURA: What is the name of it?

MATT: The Salty Sea.

LAURA: The Salty Sea! Oh, wait. I feel like I--

LIAM: I was going to say The Salty Sea Nuts, but I was like, I'm not going to say that out loud.

(laughter)

LAURA: The Salty Sea, huh? Heyo.

LIAM: That's it. Enjoy.

SAM: I'm going to try to refine that oil that I bought into more... burn-y oil? Is that something I can do on a moving cart?

MATT: Do you have your alchemical supplies with you?

SAM: I mean I have, it says alchemist supplies.

MATT: Okay, go ahead and make-- This will be proficiency plus intelligence modifier; make it with disadvantage because you're on a moving cart.

SAM: Sure, sure. They were both the same. Intelligence modifier?

MATT: Yep.

SAM: 16.

MATT: Okay. I'd say if you focus on it entirely from your trip between Nicodranas and Trostenwald, you could probably prepare half of that amount.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: So as far as the vials of oil, what would be considered a singular vial, the whole amount that you purchased could make four, you have two completed that can be used. They're prepared as Alchemist Oil.

SAM: Great!

MATT: All right, you guys make your way to Trostenwald?

MARISHA: And one of these nights, I talk to Jester.

MATT: This is perfect. As we're moving along if at any point you want to interject just jump in.

MARISHA: You have that spell that you can talk to people? Send them messages very far away?

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MARISHA: How far away?

LAURA: Anywhere.

MARISHA: That's awesome.

LAURA: As long as you know they're on this plane.

MARISHA: I do. Could you do one of those for me? To somebody? Is that a thing you can do?

LAURA: Yeah, maybe I can try. It's usually somebody that I know of, so if you describe them pretty well, maybe I can?

MARISHA: Her name is Dairon.

LAURA: Dairon, okay.

MARISHA: She was a... roommate at the Cobalt Soul.

LAURA: Okay, extra-special roommate.

MARISHA: She taught me a lot of really great things.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: I just want to make sure she's okay because she got sent to the war front on the Xhorhasian Coast.

LAURA: Oh, no!

MARISHA: Yeah. I think she's fine. She was just there to check it out.

LAURA: When did she get sent away?

MARISHA: When we were still in Zadash. Last time that I was there, I talked to her and she was leaving, and then went back and she hadn't come back yet, so it's been a few months.

LAURA: What does she look like? It helps me.

MARISHA: She's got a shaved head, and she wears dark-colored clothes.

LAURA: Okay, dark clothes...

MARISHA: She's got super buff muscles--

LAURA: Super buff, got it.

MARISHA: 'Cause she's been working out.

LAURA: Do you love her?

MARISHA: You know, I-- We've had good times.

LAURA: Good times. Good times, okay.

MARISHA: I think that's just the thing. I have notes somewhere in here.

LAURA: You can keep-- in my head, just keep saying those things as I'm like: Think about her, picture her.

MARISHA: Yeah, I'm meditating on Dairon and as I meditate, I--

LAURA: What do you want me to say?

MARISHA: Hey, girl--

LAURA: Hey, girl.

MARISHA: Heading to Felderwin.

LAURA: Heading to Felderwin. This is Beau.

MARISHA: This is Beau. Might be heading to Zadash after that.

LAURA: Maybe heading to Zadash after that.

MARISHA: You know, if you're in the area, hit me up.

LAURA: You know, if you're in the area, hit me up.

MARISHA: Booty call.

LAURA: Booty call?

TRAVIS: How many words? That's 22.

SAM: Three more. I think it's 25 words.

MARISHA: Call me back.

LAURA: Call me back!

SAM: Has no means to call you back.

MARISHA: Nope.

LAURA: Yeah, she can't call you back. I should have told you that.

MARISHA: Oh, right, but she kn-- yeah.

MATT: Wait, is this Sending?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Sending, they can respond to you.

LAURA: Oh, sweet. Really?

MATT: Yeah. That's how it's done in the past.

LAURA: Sending, they can respond to me, that's right! I totally forgot!

MARISHA: Ooh! She'll be gone for the next month to the Bladegarden to help with the assault!

LAURA: She's in Bladegarden, got it.

MARISHA: She's in Bladegarden. Narrow it down.

LAURA: Got it, Bladegarden.

MARISHA: I told her that, though, before she sent it, that she was in Bladegarden, because I would have known that.

LAURA: Waiting for the call back.

MATT: I will say, roll an intelligence check, Beau.

MARISHA: Just straight intelligence?

MATT: Yep.

MARISHA: Lucky jade. Okay, okay, okay. 17, natural 15.

MATT: Okay, yeah. You are particularly descriptive in your ability to recall details about Dairon, because you are not familiar with this individual.

MARISHA: She's got a longer nose, pointed--

MATT: Yeah, you give a very specific detail about them.

MARISHA: Fierce eyebrows.

MATT: I'll allow it.

MARISHA: Thanks, Dungeon Master.

LAURA: Just waiting for a, "Hey," back.

TALIESIN: On a fast one, I want to take a moment on the first night, also, to let Fjord know. I just want to let you know that, while we're on the sea, I had a talk with my goddess and that friend of yours is still out there.

TRAVIS: Friend of mine?

TALIESIN: Yeah, that old friend of yours that you haven't seen in a while. What's his name?

TRAVIS: Vandran?

TALIESIN: Yeah, that's the one.

TRAVIS: How do you know that?

TALIESIN: I asked the Wildmother.

TRAVIS: Is this the same as Jester talking to the Traveler? You hear from the Wildmother?

TALIESIN: I feel like I would be speaking to things I didn't necessarily know about. I don't entirely know the Traveler, nor entirely understand what the Traveler is, but I know the Wildmother.

TRAVIS: You asked about him for me?

TALIESIN: Yeah. "Making amends," whatever that means.

TRAVIS: He was making amends?

TALIESIN: One way or another.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

TALIESIN: It's a very particular flavor of goodness that come from those who are offered so much temptation. I have some faith in you. Back to the horses.

LIAM: I got one, too.

MATT: All right, hold on. Let me finish up here while this conversation's happening. You hear a response: (strained) "I do not recognize this voice, but I'm familiar with this magic. I am recovering in Bladegarden, but am safe." That's all.

LAURA: She hit me up!

MARISHA: What? Really-- I mean--

LAURA: Not me, not, "She was hitting me up,"-- you up, through me.

MARISHA: Sure!

LAURA: She's in Bladegarden.

MARISHA: What?

LAURA: She's recovering. She was hurt or something. She sounded either sleepy or injured or something.

MARISHA: Oh, okay.

LAURA: But she's safe now. So Bladegarden.

MARISHA: Okay.

LAURA: She sounded way into you.

MARISHA: Really?

LAURA: Yeah, like super-duper.

MARISHA: Thanks, Jester. That's a big deal. Okay.

MATT: Caleb?

LIAM: On a different night-- I assume we're camping every night, ja?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Off the path.

MATT: As you get to a higher level and travel further distances, it's less and less fun to make you roll survival every night you camp. The general roadside issues that would come your way are less of a challenge.

LIAM: Just for setting.

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: May I borrow you for a word?

MARISHA: What? Me?

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MARISHA: Yeah. 'Sup?

LIAM: I was very brusque, back in Nicodranas, with you. (sighs) I'm sorry. I felt very exposed with that man. Um--

MARISHA: What was that?

LIAM: I was just collecting my thoughts.

MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: With a man like Yussa, if he wanted to find us-- maybe not me, but the rest of you-- he will, and I do not know his allegiances or his motives or anything. Neither did you, none of us did. There are people who would flay me like a cat if they could get their hands on me, so--

MARISHA: Did he say something to you about your past when you were in there with him?

LIAM: No, but he was hard to read.

MARISHA: You think he saw into you?

LIAM: (sighs) I don't know, Beauregard.

MARISHA: You're a man of--

LIAM: But I don't like to not know. I like traveling with you people and I don't want to take unnecessary risks, so, I'm not telling you what to do-- I could not tell you what to do-- but if-- for me to stay with you all, I can't keep poking my head up like a mole from a hole in the ground because someone is going to cave my skull in if I do it in the wrong place, and if you all are with me, you will die with me. That man in Rexxentrum, he would spread my guts out onto the stone floor if he could get his hands on me now, if he knew where I was, so I factor that into all of my thinking everywhere we go. Everywhere I have been for five years, I have been looking over my shoulder, so it's not really fair to all of you because we are linked like this now. He is arguably the most powerful man in the Empire.

MARISHA: The man in Rexxentrum or Yussa?

LIAM: Ikithon. I just wanted you to understand me better. As much as I am able to have friends, I like you, all right? I don't people very well, I am well aware. It's been a long time since I had a lot of practice, but I have to be careful, and if we can't be careful enough, I have to go.

MARISHA: Do you have to go, or do you want to go? Because what I'm hearing from you, Caleb, is that you don't understand that you have friends. We're here, willing to defend you and kick some ass just like we did for Fjord--

LIAM: That is beside the point!

MARISHA: Is it, though?

LIAM: Yes, it is very much beside the point! Because if I care for any of you at all, and that man in the northern end of this Empire knows where any one of you are, he knows he can get to me. If he finds us, you all will just be thrown into the fire with me.

MARISHA: Caleb, unfortunately, you don't get to choose who cares for you. It's not a choice you get to make. You can either accept this--

LIAM: We're talking around each other. That is not the point that I am arguing; I am saying that if we are going to stay together we have to be careful. Careful.

MARISHA: What do you want? We can't find anything out if we don't talk to people, if we're not careful. I don't like not knowing either, Caleb. It's why I thought I would talk to people.

LIAM: Just persons like that one in that tower.

MARISHA: I thought you'd be excited. I thought I did a damn good job in there. I thought me and Caduceus both did. I was talking to Nott and we thought for damn sure that you would be so stoked about this goddamn fucking tower.

LIAM: You know, in the abstract, I am, but the problem with friends is that you have to care about them. And I wander away.

MARISHA: Wow! (shouting) Wow! Fucking cool, Caleb!

LAURA: Caleb is really cool!

MARISHA: Yeah, he's cool. (shouting) You're cool, Caleb! See, Jester thinks you're fucking cool! Because she's your fucking friend!

TRAVIS: I'm trying to sleep. What are y'all doing?

MARISHA: (even louder) Sorry, Fjord!

TRAVIS: Aw, fuck.

TALIESIN: What? Oh god.

MATT: All right. Do you have any business in Trostenwald while you're there?

LIAM: Well, I'm going to go stand in front of a tree for 20 seconds and do this.

(laughter)

MATT: Perfect.

TALIESIN: This is everything I liked about both those characters happening all at once. It was amazing, just amazing.

MATT: Two incongruent conversationalists, I love it. All right, cool.

SAM: Gustav's out of jail, right?

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Cool, we're done there. Nothing in Trostenwald.

MATT: You get some more supplies for the next leg of your journey, if you'd like to. To get you to Alfield, we'll say, amongst the whole crew, maybe-- let's see here...

LAURA: We still can create food and water.

MATT: If you want to create food and water, then you don't have to pay for anything. All right, cool. You travel-- this would be two days.

TALIESIN: Is Gustav still in the town, or has he left town? Just out of idle curiosity.

MATT: You want to ask around?

TALIESIN: Just while we're there.

MATT: Okay, while you're there, go ahead and make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm. 14.

MATT: Asking around? No sign of Gustav.

TALIESIN: That'll do.

MATT: The few people that knew of him, only because of the conversation and local talk about (old person's voice) that terrible circus that came through town, that carnival that killed all them people.

TALIESIN: Greatest show on Earth.

MATT: Gustav fucked off as soon as he was let out.

TALIESIN: Cool.

SAM: We're going to Alfield, or are we bypassing Alfield?

MATT: You're going to Alfield and then bypassing Zadash, is what you were saying, and then going straight to Felderwin.

TRAVIS: Veering right.

MATT: You make your way, two days, to Felderwin-- I'm sorry, to Alfield. Any business in Alfield?

SAM: Are we checking in with Bryce?

MARISHA: Yeah, do we--?

LAURA: Yeah, sure. Just say what's up.

MATT: Okay. As you approach the city, the people here go about their business per normal, though it does look like there is a presence of Righteous Brand soldiers, maybe a hundred or so that have been stationed here on top of the crownsguard. The crownsguard were here before, and you see Righteous Brand patrolling the major ins and outs and doing passes around the vicinity. General protection to this city has been increased in the presence of this war. You approach the city and ask around. Bryce is both available, though looking a bit harried. They approach. "My goodness, it's been some time, friends! You look traveled."

MARISHA: Thanks!

MATT: "What can I do to help you?"

LAURA: Well, mostly, we're just wondering if you have any information about what's been going on.

MATT: "Well, best that we can-- best that I know, at least-- we're just being as careful as possible. We didn't expect things to press this far east this quickly. From what I know is Felderwin just recently took an assault from the brief missives that have been sent around to various lawmasters in the vicinity. The attacks came from underground."

TRAVIS: Underground?

SAM: What?

MATT: "It wasn't a direct assault. Apparently-- and this put us in a bit of a tizzy recently-- they managed to just appear in the city from underneath."

TRAVIS: Were they able to repel these attacks?

MATT: "They burned some of the fields and destroyed a few buildings and then left. I don't know the exact number of dead; you'd probably have to ask."

LAURA: Are you worried? It's pretty close to here!

MATT: "I'm a bit worried, yes. We're all a bit worried. We don't want to alarm the populace, but (sighs) rumors spread and we do our best to quell them."

LAURA: What's your sewer system like here?

MATT: "It's more of a-- we don't have any of the fancy subterranean sewers as cities like Zadash to the north. It's mostly a dig-a-hole, outhouse-type scenario."

SAM: That might actually be safer.

MATT: "Good. We're just hoping that there isn't much of a reason to stop in Alfield. At least we know that Felderwin supplies most of the Empire with its food and crops and such, so there seems to be some strategic reason for that assault, though I don't see what purpose Alfield has in the larger spectrum, so I'm banking on that."

LAURA: Cool.

MATT: "Where are you off to?"

TRAVIS: Felderwin.

MATT: "Well, good news is they've already been attacked. Hopefully the lightning doesn't strike twice."

TRAVIS: Indeed.

TALIESIN: They stole whatever it was they were trying to steal, I guess.

MARISHA: That's exactly what I think.

TALIESIN: Hi, by the way.

MATT: "Hi, yes, we met briefly when you passed through here earlier."

TALIESIN: Good to see you again.

MATT: "Pleasure to see you again as well."

TRAVIS: We should be on our way.

SAM: Say hi to everyone for us.

TRAVIS: A bit quicker than we thought, I'm afraid.

MATT: "That's all right. If there's anything that I can do to aid you if you need to pass through again, just let me know. You know where to find me."

TRAVIS: Good to see you.

MATT: "Good to see you as well. Travel safe."

TALIESIN: Actually, would a letter of good note get us any further in case we run into anybody?

SAM: Maybe not from Bryce. I mean, I like Bryce.

TALIESIN: I don't know.

SAM: Bryce is cool.

MATT: "There's not much I can really help with. I'm not really involved in the red tape of most things. If it's another lawmaster you're going to speak with, that's one thing, but--"

TALIESIN: It's worth asking, I suppose.

MARISHA: You wouldn't happen to have any handwriting samples of some lawmasters?

SAM: We have the handwriting samples.

MARISHA: I know! But for more, other ones. Other than, you know.

SAM: Happen to have any forgeable paperwork of other cities' lawmasters?

TRAVIS: Do you have any deposited checks or bank statements?

MARISHA: Stolen mail?

MATT: "No, I don't."

MARISHA: Sign-in sheets, even?

SAM: Good! Because that would be illegal and you're a person of the law.

MATT: "I am indeed, and that would be illegal."

MARISHA: Great. We don't have to arrest you.

LIAM: You passed.

MARISHA: Yep.

SAM: It was a trick!

TRAVIS: Well done. Virtuous indeed.

MARISHA: Yep.

MATT: "Wonderful, thank you for the opportunity to prove my virtue."

TRAVIS: Thank you, Bryce. Thank you.

LAURA: I'm sorry we're so weird sometimes, you know?

MATT: "To be honest, weirder come through here fairly often, especially these days."

LIAM: We have grown since the last time we rolled through this town.

LAURA: Grown weirder.

MATT: "Yeah. The direction you've grown is curious, but in all sincerity, it's good to see you all. All right, be safe."

LAURA and TALIESIN: Be safe.

LAURA: Jinx.

MATT: "Jinx indeed. All right, back to business."

TRAVIS: We should move quickly.

MATT: They head to the rest of their day's work.

LAURA: Up and out, I say.

TALIESIN: Hyah.

SAM: Yep, that.

TALIESIN: Let's go, guys.

TRAVIS: Nott, give us a hyah.

SAM: Hyah!

TRAVIS: There we go.

TALIESIN: The horses are going to go if I ask them to--

SAM: Git along, little doggies!

MATT: Okay, I'll say from Alfield's about a three-and-a-half days' travel. Gathering your supplies there, making your way eastward towards Felderwin, is there any business you wish to attend to on the way?

LAURA: Hey, Caduceus?

TALIESIN: Yeah?

TRAVIS: The Rillway Road, and we're going to get to a bridge before we hit Felderwin.

LAURA: I want to have wrapped up the little cookbooks that I bought, nice and pretty. I used the ribbon from my mom's house.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: I got you a present.

TALIESIN: Thank you! Aww, that's so nice.

LAURA: They're cookbooks, and one of them uses mushrooms a lot!

TALIESIN: Aww, that's so exciting!

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Wow!

LAURA: Just in case, you know, you wanted to change up your recipes, or you thought you needed anything cool like that.

TALIESIN: It never even occurred to me that you get a book about cooking. That's so great.

LAURA: Right? The pictures are really nice.

TALIESIN: Yeah, the illustrations are amazing. Yeah. Oh, this is cool. Aww, thank you.

LAURA: You're welcome.

LIAM: He's 7'5". She's 5'1".

TALIESIN: I'm going to do my best to make it through this mushroom cookbook.

MARISHA: Oh no.

LIAM: Not a whole thing, but I've gone through most of the paper purchased, and read the history of Nicodranas, (goofy voice) the general knowledge of the history of Nicodranas.

MATT: (equally goofy voice) There you go. I'll send you an email later. Congratulations. (normal voice) That, my friends, is the sound of history.

TALIESIN: I've often wondered.

LIAM: (goofy voice) Their main export is oysters. Carry on.

SAM: You meet a dragon. "What is the main export of Nicodranas?"

MATT: "No! I've been defeated! Curse your worldly understanding of trade!"

LIAM: "I knew I should have gone with entertainment as the subject! You get a piece of the pie!"

MATT: Take your orange piece! That's not even an orange piece. Anyway, in crossing the bridge to cross the Eistus River, cresting the hills before it, you can already see the low haze of gray and brown that's gently fading over the region. As you reach the peak and look down upon the familiar sight of the once-green farmland that you had passed by when you were heading north toward Shadycreek Run, you can already see a fair patch of the Tillage lies black and ashen. Probably a quarter of it. As you begin to make your way towards the outskirts of the city, you can already see small squadrons of Righteous Brand patrolling the fields. I mean, a dozen small squadrons of about 50 soldiers each.

MARISHA: (whistles)

MATT: You can see quite a few military has been relegated and probably sent southward from Bladegarden since this incursion a few weeks back. As you come upon the outside of Felderwin, which is built not too far from the Eistus River, you can already see there are a number of buildings burned and blackened on the opposite end of the fields. The fields are on the northern side of the city. On the southeastern side, there's a section of the town that appears to have burned or burnt down to varying degrees, depending on buildings.

SAM: I'm going to put my hood up, the mask on.

MATT: Okay. Anyone else?

TALIESIN: I'll human up for a second.

LAURA: Nott, where are--

SAM: Yeah, no. Yeah?

LAURA: Where is your family? Where are they located? I'm sure not the actual city-city, right?

SAM: You mean the clan?

LAURA: Yeah?

SAM: No, they don't live in the city.

LAURA: What about... you know?

SAM: The fellow? My friend?

LAURA: Yeah, the guy.

SAM: Yeah, they're in the city. He's in the city somewhere. Yeah, I know where the house is. I'll lead them towards--

MATT: Okay, lead them to the city. You see that there are crownsguard, a little more than usual. Definitely on the perimeter of the city, you can see bands of ten to 12 Righteous Brand set along at fairly intense positions to look outward. They're doing their best to lock things down as this investigation is still being completed as to what transpired here.

SAM: I'm going to start heavily drinking.

MATT: You make your way to that part of the city. Glancing over towards the first main plaza intersection of this part of Felderwin, there's a few people talking. A blue flash catches your attention out of the corner of your eye. You see three Righteous Brand soldiers that are standing with an elven woman in fine flowing clothes of green and black. She angrily gives a few offhanded orders at a distance, while it looks like the source of this blue flash, a male figure, is standing where previously was not.

MARISHA: Oh shit, okay.

MATT: This figure that apparates is wearing deep blue robes and appears to be elven, with very long white hair. Also an elder elf, though of pale skin in comparison to the one you met previously. Approaches with haste towards this woman. They begin to whisper for a moment before he shoos off the rest of the guards, and the two of them begin to walk together, the pair of them having a conversation.

MARISHA: Caleb?

SAM: I don't recognize either?

MATT: Make a perception check.

MARISHA: You recognize those people?

SAM: 19.

MATT: You see them. You don't recognize them.

LAURA: Did you recognize them?

TRAVIS: You said they look like someone we met previously?

MATT: Meaning it was a male elder elven figure, but--

LAURA: Just like Yussa.

MATT: Just like Yussa, but Yussa was of Gwardan descent. This appears to be of northern elf, which most of that bloodline stems from Molaesmyr and what split off into Bysaes Tyl.

LAURA: Learn about that too, okay?

TALIESIN: You've got a lot of reading to do this weekend.

MARISHA: My notes look like a serial killer's. It's bad.

MATT: They're talking amongst each other and then walk and disappear around a corner.

LAURA: Did we hear anything they said?

MATT: You're too far away.

LAURA: Okay. Man, I wish I could read lips.

SAM: Do you want me to go sneak up or anything?

TRAVIS: Was the blue flash from him apparating?

MATT: Yes. Do you continue on?

LAURA: Yeah?

SAM: I guess. Are we curious about that?

TRAVIS: Yes, we are!

LIAM: Do I recognize that person from my time at school?

MATT: You recognize both of them.

SAM: (gasps) Holy boly. All you've got to do is ask.

MATT: The woman is Lady Vess DeRogna, the Archmage of Antiquity at the Cerberus Assembly.

LIAM: Sorry, I didn't hear you there.

MATT: Lady Vess DeRogna, the Archmage of Antiquity of the Cerberus Assembly.

LIAM: (gagging)

SAM: Archmage of something, Cerberus Assembly.

MATT: Antiquity.

MARISHA: Antiquity at the Cerberus--

TALIESIN: Fuck, man.

SAM: Oh my god, I'm shaking right now.

LIAM: I recognize them.

TALIESIN: Percy's in my head dissecting that title so hard right now. I can't, though. I don't know.

MATT: The man, the elder elf, is Martinet Lunidus Da'leth.

LIAM: One more time, please.

MARISHA: Largemont?

MATT: Martinet. Lunidus. L-U-N-I-D-U-S. Da'leth. D-A-apostrophe-L-E-T-H.

TRAVIS: Nope. I get two letters in and that's all she wrote.

SAM and MARISHA: MLD!

MATT: This won't come back to bite you.

LAURA: Martinet Lunidus-- that's all I got.

SAM: He's making the names so hard now that we can't make fun of them.

LAURA: I know!

LIAM: These are names I got on a list over a year ago that I'm remembering now.

SAM: What is he the Archmage of?

MATT: Archmage of Domestic Protections.

MARISHA: Oh jeez, he's Homeland Security!

LIAM: I'm going to go fucking dig through my emails. Jesus.

MARISHA: Wait, Archmage of what?

MATT: Domestic Protection.

LIAM: We're fine. We're just going into Nott's backstory. I don't need to review nothing.

TRAVIS: Lady Ve DeRogna?

SAM: Vess DeRogna.

TRAVIS: Lasagna?

SAM: Yep.

TRAVIS: What is it? Vess--

MATT: DeRogna.

MARISHA: Fuck! Domestic Protection.

TRAVIS: Nope, not there. Yeah. Lady Vess DeRogna.

LIAM: If that is the case, and we're in the wagon at this point, Caleb just fucking lies down in the cart.

TALIESIN: As long as you're in the back, they can't see.

LIAM: Yeah. Lies down in the cart.

LAURA: What's going on? Are you sleepy? Are you getting sleepy, Caleb?

SAM: No, there's people out there he knows, you dummy.

TALIESIN: We're moving on anyway.

MATT: You guys continue on.

SAM: I'm a little on edge. You're not dumb.

MATT: You head down that eastern thoroughfare, passing by a number of homes and businesses. You start coming upon the ones that were damaged. You see one looks to be a warehouse that burned down. There is an inn called the Glassy Grass Inn that you're familiar with, Nott.

SAM: Glassy Grass?

MATT: That has burned to the ground. There is another building next to that. There is the Brenatto Apothecary that is also burned to the ground. There are people rummaging through the rubble, through some of their homes, still looking and pulling out elements of whatever they can gather of their former life.

SAM: Stop the cart.

LAURA: (neighing)

SAM: Is anyone around?

MATT: You can see there is a crownsguard-- a pair of crownsguard that are walking this way.

SAM: I'll cast Disguise Self and be some gnomish old lady. I'm going to walk over to the burned-down apothecary and start looking around.

MATT: For anything in particular, or just trying to make it look like you're looking around?

SAM: I'm looking for identifying signs of life or--

MATT: Make a perception check.

SAM: 15.

MATT: You glance around, looking through the visible rubble, moving a few things. Don't appear to be any signs of life, nor any signs of death, immediately.

SAM: Can I look for buttons?

MATT: Make an investigation check now that you're poring through.

SAM: Aw shit. 11.

MATT: Unfortunately, in this scattering of rubble-- I mean, you can still see the frame of the building standing, with an element of the roof that's still there, but most of it has fallen inward. This was a place of business that appeared to have a few rooms of homestead attached to the back of it, but all that has burned and fallen in. The crownsguard walk by and stop. One of them, a female, looks over and goes, "Hey, you looking for help?"

SAM: No, I was just looking to see-- I knew the man who worked here.

MATT: "It's terrible, isn't it?"

SAM: What's terrible? What happened?

MATT: "We don't get this kind of thing this far west. We're not supposed to. I don't want to fight those things."

SAM: What things?

MATT: "The cricks. The things that came in and did this."

SAM: Do you know what-- were you here? Do you know what happened to this place?

MATT: "Yeza?"

SAM: Yes.

MATT: "I don't know. They haven't found a body, so that's something. His boy Luc was found safe and is staying with... what's her name?" Looks over to the other guy. The other person, the woman, looks at him and goes, "At Old Edith's house."

SAM: Do I know Edith?

MATT: You know of Old Edith, yeah. An older woman a few buildings down.

SAM: He's okay?

MATT: "Yeah, Luc's okay."

SAM: Did the party that came in to attack-- were they taking prisoners, or were they killing?

MATT: "From what I heard, they just burned and slashed. Just under a hundred crownsguard were killed, a few of my friends. 14 civilians died in the fires. It was the weirdest thing. I watched friends of mine begin to slow down. Anyway."

SAM: Were you there?

MATT: "Yeah. Thankfully not on the front line."

SAM: How did they get away, the cricks? Did they go underground?

MATT: "They went back where they came, through the tunnels, and collapsed them behind them."

SAM: Which tunnels? Where?

MATT: "There. Between the city and the tillage." He points in the direction where those two were walking.

SAM: All right. Thank you. I'm sorry for your loss.

MATT: "Did you know them?"

SAM: Yes.

MATT: "I'm sorry for yours, too." The two continue walking.

LAURA: Nott?

SAM: Hmm?

LAURA: Do you want help looking?

SAM: Yes. If you could, could you look around this wreckage a bit and see if you find anything interesting?

LAURA: Of course.

TALIESIN: I'm going to do a general look around to see if I can get a sign of life coming from anywhere in the rubble.

MATT: This would be more of an investigation, since you're looking through rubble as opposed to peering through.

LIAM: Where are the nearest guards at this moment?

MATT: The ones that you were just speaking to.

LIAM: They walked off?

MATT: They're walking off now.

LIAM: I'm going to hop out of the cart, go over to Nott, and trip. Fall face flat into the dirt. Wipe dirt on my face and into my beard, stand up, and pull my hood up.

LAURA: I'm going to help Nott search through the rubble.

LIAM: Yes, I'm going to start searching through the rubble.

MARISHA: Same.

MATT: Let's make an investigation check as a group. One of you helms it.

LIAM: I'll helm it.

MATT: With their help, you have advantage on the roll.

LIAM: Holy shit. Let's roll this die. Ooh, two 14s. That is a 23.

MATT: You find a bunch of shattered alchemist's equipment: glass vials, metallic containers of different kinds that all have charred elements to them. You find in a back room elements of bedding that are mostly burned away, some child's toys, wooden, that have been charred and burned to a crisp. No signs of any bodies. You do find the basement, which you do know of. The basement door is locked.

SAM: I will unlock it.

MATT: Go ahead and make an attempt.

SAM: Not good. 15.

MATT: It's not moving at all.

SAM: Jester, open the door.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: I'm casting Mage Armor.

SAM: Caleb. Open it.

LAURA: I try to slam into the door to open it.

MATT: Make a strength check.

LAURA: Ten.

MATT: It's not budging.

LAURA: I'm sorry, Nott. Yasha?

MATT: Yasha's going to get extremely angry and rage and attempt to make her way through. At advantage, strength check.

TRAVIS: That's a 19.

MATT: (thud) It's not budging. That lock is holding tight, far more than it should for its design.

SAM: Is it magical?

LAURA: Maybe I can cast Dispel Magic? Is it magic? Is it trapped?

SAM: It wasn't.

LAURA: I'm going to cast Dispel Magic.

MATT: Okay. Yeah, that'll do it. The Arcane Lock on it dissipates, and the pressure that has been placed on it-- we'll say the lock falls open. Do you open the basement?

SAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Stepping down the stairs underneath, it's a small chamber, no more than 15 by 15 feet. The room is tossed, not like you remember. There's a pile of broken table shards in the far right corner. There's additional shattered glass all over the floor here. There's an iron chest, roughly three feet long by a foot wide, that sits in the far left corner. A single chair holds the center of the room. That's what remains inside.

TALIESIN: Lighting it up in here.

SAM: Does it look like there was a struggle in here, or it's been turned by someone looking for something?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

LIAM: Or blood, or injury.

LAURA: Or maybe they came in through--

SAM: 22. 21.

MATT: It looks like there was definitely a struggle in here. Looking at the walls, it looks like there are blade scrapes against bits of stone. A lot of the furniture in here has been destroyed as part of that from heavy impacts. But the center chair seems perfect.

TALIESIN: Huh. You know what that makes me think of? I mean, that seems-- that's weird.

MARISHA: I mean, did you want to finish that?

TALIESIN: I figured you would know because I'm guessing.

MARISHA: I have an idea. I have my opinion. I'm just curious–

TALIESIN: Well, what's your opinion?

MARISHA: Someone was interrogated.

TALIESIN: That's way better than mine. Never mind.

MARISHA: What was yours?

TALIESIN: I was thinking that maybe there was an invisible person tied to the chair.

SAM: That's way worse. Yours is much better.

LAURA: I go up, and can I touch and see if there's an invisible person in the chair?

MATT: There is not an invisible person.

TALIESIN: I really appreciate that. I was a little spooked.

LIAM: That's the Mighty Nein special.

MARISHA: Nott. You clearly have some personal attachment to this.

LAURA: I'm going to sit in the chair and see what I see. What does it look like from the chair?

MATT: It looks like the room.

LIAM: She's Will Graham-ing it.

TALIESIN: You're tearing me apart.

MATT: Based on your investigation check, you gather that the chair was probably placed here after this, whatever transpired in this room.

MARISHA: What would someone want from here?

SAM: I don't know.

TRAVIS: Is there another way out of here?

SAM: Chemicals. There was chemicals here. He kept chemicals.

TRAVIS: Second set of stairs into the house?

MATT: There is no other exit from this chamber.

TALIESIN: No hidden ones, nothing?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'll search with him.

MATT: Make your separate rolls here. Oh, are you helping?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'll help.

MATT: So you get advantage on this.

SAM: There's a box, you said?

MATT: There's an iron chest.

TRAVIS: 21.

MATT: As you guys are inspecting all this, you and Caduceus are giving a fair play on the walls. No doors, no other exits. It's just that stairway, from what you can find.

TALIESIN: That chest, it's probably trapped. We should be very careful.

SAM: I'm going to go over and open it. Or is it locked?

MATT: It is locked.

SAM: I will unlock it. That's 29.

MATT: That breaks the Arcane Lock on it. In spite of the resistance, the spell, you (click) and see a brief (poof) as the Arcane Lock is dispelled and unlocked.

SAM: I open it.

MATT: You open it up. Make a constitution saving throw for me, please.

SAM: 19.

MATT: A brief puff of what looks like a dull black gas (small explosion) in your face, and you pull out of the way and inhale a little bit. It's a weird dizzying sensation that comes over your body for a second, but you manage to shrug it off.

SAM: I'll take another drink of booze and look in there.

MATT: You see inside a retractable silver tripod of some kind. The apex looks like it's set to hold something. It's three of them that come together, and you imagine, where it'd open up, there's a little platform beneath it. They all don't meet, really, at the top. There's three things that are set to hold a device of some kind.

SAM: Hold something.

LAURA: Like maybe this old dodecahedron down here?

SAM: Maybe. Does it look like the same metal of the dodecahedron? Any similar characteristics?

MATT: It doesn't look like it has similar characteristics or metal, per se, but you can try and fit it in if you want to.

TALIESIN: Later, somewhere else.

SAM: Try it?

TALIESIN: Somewhere else.

LAURA: Not here.

LIAM: Let's get out of here. Let's take it to-- have you ever seen this before?

SAM: No. No, I've never seen this before.

TALIESIN: Anything else in the chest?

MATT: Yes, there are three empty vials. One full one that seems to contain-- it seems like it's on the verge of liquid and gas. There is liquid in there, but a lot of it seems to be this heavy, fog-like condensation, a dull gray color.

SAM: I'll grab it and throw it to Caleb.

MATT: There appears to be a conglomeration of notes that were destroyed, burned. Most of it looks like shreds that are piled up in case someone were to attempt to try and do something with it later. There are two pieces of paper that appear to be still legible.

(cheering)

TRAVIS: And a picture, and a picture!

SAM: "As we continue to invoke the beacon with extremely focused energy of different spectrums and sources, the effects unleashed are curious, and reach far beyond this laboratory. The dunamis field--" Is that right? Have we heard that before?

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: "-- sightlessly encompassed an entire portion of the town, with locals complaining of an ill, sluggish sensation--" that's the Slow "--being dragged down. Others at different experiments rumored of witnessing people and livestock moving at a noticeably faster or slower rate within entire sections of the city in proximity to the laboratory--"

MARISHA: That guy mentioned people feeling slow.

SAM: "Based on our previous experiments and extracted techniques from captured Kryn operatives--"

LAURA: Wait, "rumors we squashed by spreading a batch of molded fruit crop."

SAM: Yeah. Kryn operatives?

LAURA: Kryn, that's what they actually are.

SAM: "Based on our previous experiments extracted from captured Kryn operatives, the abilities of dunamis and dunamancy within Xhorhas appears to focus around the manipulation of gravity--"

MARISHA: Time. Yeah, gravity and time.

SAM: "--entropy, and time. Yet, while the basis of what dunamancy origin glyphs we were able to acquire show it to exist outside of the established schools of magic--" What you got?

LIAM: May I?

SAM: Yes.

LAURA: (gasps) "Blah blah blah, extremely difficult to work with. Attempts to isolate a substance capable containing and sustaining the dunamantic energies within a casing has proven both time-consuming and costly--" You have some of the same stuff. Wait, look--

SAM: "This magic, by my theory, is deeply rooted in ancient history of some arcana we take for granted. If these beacons are just the surface, what eons-old rituals have been lurking beneath the citadel in Ghor Dranas?" Ghor Dranas?

LAURA: I don't know. "In these past weeks, we have successfully distilled a single vial that should enable a temporary influx of dunamis to even an untrained soldier. Once I can remove the beacon itself from the process, I hope to have this alchemist produce a number of batches over the next 12 to 16 months, refining the method with each step until we can certify its use in combat." Is that your friend, the alchemist?

SAM: They were using the alchemist. They were using Yeza.

LAURA: Listen, listen! "Word has found me of Trent finding a few of his proteges have a knack for early dunamancy--" blah blah, something, something. "I am eager to look over their findings and perchance fold these skills into my own. Imagine--" something something, "--could be accomplished by the Assembly should we further learn to command these--" There's so many things I can't read because it's burned away! "--existence. The dreams are already thrilling."

SAM: "I'm beginning to believe it goes deeper. Between the fragments of power we've only begun to unlock within these beacons, and the capabilities of the Kryn on the battlefield, I surmise they have been learning to bend and break the threads of destiny for hundreds of years. Be this truth, I cannot imagine the Raven Queen looks down upon them favorably either, though the thought brings a laugh to my lips." Do I recognize any of this handwriting? No?

MATT: You do not.

SAM: Does he?

MATT: You do not recognize any handwriting.

LAURA: You don't? They're going to be so pissed when they find out we have that thing.

MARISHA: We have a beacon. Yeah. We have a piece of dunamis.

SAM: We have a vial.

TRAVIS: We have a tripod.

MARISHA: I think Jester's right. I think this dodecahedron goes into that tripod.

TRAVIS: Hundred percent.

MARISHA: I don't think we should do it here because, like Yussa said, we pull this thing out selectively.

LIAM: How does your friend fit into all of this?

SAM: I don't know. He's an excellent alchemist. They would probably need someone like that, but the Xhorhasians weren't doing this. Someone else was. Right? Your people.

MARISHA: Your people.

SAM: Your people were doing experiments and trying to find out and harness the power of-- What? It's your people! It's the people that you know and trained with.

MARISHA: It's because they haven't-- he hasn't, in terms of--

SAM: Well, fuck him!

MARISHA: Oh. Wow, yeah.

SAM: It's your people that have done this to my people, and we have to find them both.

TRAVIS: We sent a message once. Is it worth trying it again?

SAM: Not right now. I have to go see Lady Edith right now.

TALIESIN: Is there any way to cover our tracks here?

LIAM: Caleb absolutely pukes in the middle of the room.

LAURA: Oh no, that's going to be way harder to cover up.

TALIESIN: I got that. Come on. I'm going to pick up Caleb. You're not at fault here. You're the solution here. You know that, right? We're here to fix this. Don't let her anger-- it's not about you. This is not about you.

TRAVIS: Anything else in this room that we need to turn over before we get out?

MATT: From the investigations that you've already put through, that seems to be most of anything of interest. Everything else has either been removed, or is just broken furniture and whatever this laboratory once was.

TRAVIS: Put everything back in the chest and bring it with us. Put the chest in the haversack.

MATT: The chest is a little big for a haversack.

LAURA: We can put the foldable tripod--

MATT: It's a three-foot by one-foot--

TALIESIN: Can we re-lock the chest?

LIAM: The haversack is limited, right?

MATT: Actually, three-foot by-- you might be able to fit it in longways into the Bag of Holding. The Haversack's pouches aren't large enough. You do have a Bag of Holding from...

LIAM: That Fjord is in possession of?

LAURA: We have a Bag of Holding?

MATT: You found it under the bed of...

LIAM: Who has it? I will gladly carry it.

MATT: My brain's not working. The Iron Shepherds, with Lorenzo.

LAURA: Oh, that's right.

TALIESIN: I think we should try and lock everything up and maybe break the chair.

LAURA: Why should we break the chair?

MARISHA: Can I actually do a little pass on the chair and see if I see any signs that someone's been tied to it, someone's been questioned?

TRAVIS: How was it locked from the outside?

MARISHA: Things that Beau would know that people would do in her realm?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

MARISHA: Aww, Jesus fucking Christ. 13.

MATT: It's a chair that was probably placed here after this attack.

MARISHA: We already knew that.

MATT: I mean, I'll say, based on the chair's placement, the chest, and the fact that it was locked when you left, people had to have come back in and back out since this attack happened. Probably whoever locked this chest put this chair here and then locked the room as they left.

LAURA: We need to get out of here.

TALIESIN: Right now.

MARISHA: Yeah, I agree.

LAURA: Let's go. Quickly.

MARISHA: Fjord?

TALIESIN: I want to try and-- There's no way to--? Actually, I'm going to try and lock the chest again when we leave. I'm going to use-- not magically, obviously, but Thaumaturgy to close it and lock it, or will that not work with Thaumaturgy?

MATT: I'll allow it. It's simple enough for you to do with your hand if you want to. It's not Arcane Locked, but it's locked.

TRAVIS: You didn't see anything when you sat in the chair, right?

LAURA: No, I just saw the room.

TALIESIN: Let's have this conversation elsewhere. This place is creeping me out.

LAURA: Was there anything under the chair? On the underside of the chair?

MATT: Appears to be a chair.

SAM: Huh? No? Nothing under the chair?

TALIESIN: I think we're-- I think we should--

MARISHA: Someone's come back in. Whoever--

TRAVIS: Why the chair? Why in middle of the room? Why lock it?

MARISHA: Well, the chair is facing the chest, correct, is what you said? I mean, look at the amount of time that we've all lost staring in the dodecahedron.

LIAM: Is there anything in my time of torture and awful that would tell me what this chair is?

MATT: Yes. It's a chair. It's a standard chair.

LIAM: No, I don't mean a magic chair. I mean the setup in the room, the mess around it...?

MATT: Correct. No, you gather that whoever came down here last brought the chair with them to probably lock their things and leave it here and then lock the basement behind them, not expecting anyone to make their way in in the interim.

TALIESIN: We need to go now.

LAURA: Go, go. Do we need to clean up Caleb's puke? Will somebody be able to find us with his puke?

MATT: Caduceus has been cleaning it.

TALIESIN: I have cleaned it up. I have beetles; they eat things.

SAM: We took the trap out? We took the vial?

TALIESIN: We took everything. We're going.

MATT: You exit the basement.

TALIESIN: Lock it as well.

MATT: Okay. The lock is pretty rough now. You think it locked. It got bashed open by Yasha, and between that and the Dispel, it's probably not going to hold.

TALIESIN: Sure. Let's get away from here.

MARISHA: Nott?

SAM: What?

MARISHA: Where do we go?

SAM: I need to check on--

MARISHA: You said Old Edith?

TALIESIN: Lead the way. We're going to move the cart. You need to not panic.

TRAVIS: We need to not use that dodecahedron anymore.

TALIESIN: Not right around here, no.

LAURA: Not here, no. It's staying in the bag, don't worry.

SAM: I'll take another drink and then look outside to see if anyone's watching.

MATT: Okay. You look around the vicinity. It looks like there are some people who are looking over, seeing you in the ruins. They're other civilians, a couple farmers and townsfolk. They're not staring; they're just walking and noticing you all standing in the rubble. They keep walking.

SAM: We'll go back to the cart. How far is Edith?

MATT: Like a five minute walk.

SAM: Okay. Cart or walk?

TALIESIN: Cart.

SAM: Cart? Okay.

MATT: Okay. You roll the cart along. It's not even a five minute walk, actually. It's a few houses down. It's very quick.

TALIESIN: I don't want the cart parked in front of the creepy rubble house. I'm going to move it.

MATT: You come to the humble hovel of thatched roof and stone walls where Old Edith lives. The door is currently closed.

SAM: I'll Disguise Self as a halfling. Plump face, tan skin, braids. I'll start pounding on the door.

MATT: Okay. A moment passes, and the door opens up, and an elderly human woman comes to the door. Gray hair that goes past her shoulders. It's a little wild and unkempt and wiry at the edges. There are wrinkles that scrunch the face in this perpetual smile, and the eyes are almost beady behind the folded forehead and lids that have fallen with time. "Hello? Can I help you?"

SAM: Edith, it's me. Where's my son?

MATT: "Ah, I thought you were dead."

SAM: I'm not. Let me see him right now.

MATT: "My goodness. Luc? Luc?" You see a small halfling boy, maybe no more than five years old, peek around the doorway. Shaggy, light brown hair, blue eyes. "Yeah?"

SAM: (sniffles) Hi.

MATT: "Daddy said the goblins killed you."

SAM: No, they didn't. I'll pull out the doll of King Bertrand and give it to him. I brought you that and other toys. How are you? Are you okay? Did they hurt you?

MATT: "Edith says Daddy went away to help the war, but I think she's lying. He's probably dead too, like I thought you were."

SAM: No, no, no. He's alive. I know he is. Did they touch you?

MATT: "No. Daddy locks me away when the mean lady comes by."

SAM: The mean lady? What does she look like? Who is she? Oh my gosh, it's so wonderful to see you. I pick him up and give him a big hug and a kiss.

MATT: He stiffens up. He's overwhelmed and untrusting of this scenario--

SAM: Oh, I'm sorry.

MATT: But you still pick him up. "The mean lady with the pointy ears."

SAM: Yes. She comes often?

MATT: "Mm-hmm."

SAM: You go somewhere safe when she comes?

MATT: "Daddy would put me in my room."

SAM: What about the last time?

MATT: "That was the night when all the loud noises happened."

SAM: Yes?

MATT: "Daddy pushed me out of the house and said go, so I ran to Edith. Everything was on fire."

SAM: Very smart. You're very smart. You've always been a very smart boy. You're a good boy. Good job. Stay safe. When you were running away, did you see anything of Dad?

MATT: "No. It was just a lot of scary people in armor."

SAM: I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I wasn't there to protect you. I--

MATT: "Mommy, where were you?"

SAM: I was far away. I was trying to get back. I was trying to come back, I was. I was trying so hard, but I don't have-- I'm not strong enough to come back yet. (stutters) But know that I'm always thinking of you. I send you things so you remember me, and I hope Dad gives them to you.

MATT: "I get presents, but he just says they're from somebody."

SAM: Oh. Well, that's fine. Yeah, it would be hard to understand, but I love you so much, and I've never stopped thinking about you and trying to come home. I didn't want to go away. I'm going to find your father. I will, and then maybe we can be a family again. Maybe-- I will find him. I promise you, all right? You just have to be that smart boy that I know and stay safe, all right?

MATT: "Is Daddy alive?"

SAM: In my heart I think he is.

MATT: "And you're alive again?"

SAM: I will be, too.

MATT: "Then don't die." He turns around and walks back into the house.

SAM: Thank you. Sorry, Edith.

MATT: "I'm just happy to see you're okay. I'll watch the boy. Is there anything I can do to...? I'm real sorry."

SAM: Do you have family somewhere else, somewhere out of the city? Out of the village, I mean?

MATT: "My husband passed away seven years ago, and it's just been me."

SAM: Ah. Is this--? I don't know. Are there any strong-- How do I--?

LAURA: You need somewhere--?

SAM: To protect them.

TRAVIS: I think they got what they came for. I think it's safe here now.

SAM: You think? Here, here, take this. I'll give her 200 gold. Use this to buy new locks, or a bigger door, or--

TRAVIS: You could send them to Alfield if you wanted. I'm sure Bryce could take care of them.

SAM: What if the next attack is there?

MARISHA: I agree with Fjord. I don't think they necessarily found what they were looking for when they came here, but I think they didn't find it and they might move on.

SAM: So they'll be okay here?

TRAVIS: If you don't feel comfortable here, you should tell them--

SAM: No. I don't know. I don't know.

MARISHA: I'm making guesses like the rest of us. None of us can honestly tell you what the right call is here.

MATT: "Look, Veth, wherever you go, let me know how I can help. If you need us to leave, we'll leave. I mean, you've given me enough to at least get out of town for a while."

SAM: Okay, maybe lay low for a little while, a few days, a few weeks, and then--

MATT: "I can do that."

LAURA: We can send a message anytime.

SAM: Okay, yes. She can send you a magical message, and you can tell us where you are.

MATT: "Okay, I can do that."

TRAVIS: Worst case scenario, they could go south. You could send them to Nicodranas, I'm sure.

LAURA: Yeah, my mama--

SAM: I don't know if they would make that. That's a long journey.

TRAVIS: It is. I don't know how far or fast this is moving.

SAM: I don't either. I don't know. I'm not thinking straight right now.

MARISHA: I think we all need to talk.

SAM: Okay. Stay here for now, and stay safe. We'll come back soon. Thank you.

MATT: "He's a good boy, Veth. You did good."

SAM: "Yeah?"

MATT: "Take care of yourself."

SAM: All right.

MATT: She closes the door. At that point, back where you rode from, walking across the street are the two figures that you saw when you first came towards the plaza. Walking and quietly talking to each other, heading towards the rubble of the apothecary.

TALIESIN: We're going to get in the cart and move now.

MATT: That's where we're going to end tonight's episode.

(groaning)

MATT: Pick up next week.

Post-Show[]

LAURA: You sneaky motherfucker!

TALIESIN: I was looking forward to a shopping episode. This was really good.

MATT: It was!

TALIESIN: This was good, guys.

MATT: For a while.

TALIESIN: Yeah, no, this was nice and gentle.

MARISHA: Sam Riegel!

TALIESIN: I was waiting for the Riegel shoe to drop, man.

(laughter)

SAM: Oh, boy.

LAURA: I can't wait to interrogate you.

TALIESIN: Hey, we're going to use a chair! That's so exciting!

SAM: The chair is the key to everything. It's the thread that holds it all together.

TRAVIS: Why the chair, though?

MATT: Hey, I mean, look at it this way. If you guys had come here instead of Nicodranas, you would have been here when all this went down.

SAM: Oh, fuck.

TALIESIN: Wow, dude. Wow. As Beau might say, "Wow! Wow."

LIAM and TALIESIN: (shouting) Wow!

LIAM: (shouting) Hey, Caleb!

LIAM, MARISHA, and TALIESIN: (shouting) Wow!

MATT: Anyway-- I know, RIP, ears at the end of the episode.

MARISHA: RIP, ears. Don't at me.

MATT: Yep. All right, guys. We'll pick up here next Thursday. It's going to be a hell of a week for all of us. We'll see some of you guys at the art gallery this weekend. We'll see some of you guys at the live show on Saturday. Super excited to have everyone step back into their Vox Machina shoes. We'll pick up at this crazy point next Thursday.

SAM: Oh, boy.

MATT: We'll see you then. We love you very much. Have a wonderful week, and is it Thursday yet? Good night.

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