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Pre-Show[]

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

TRAVIS: We play Dungeons & Dragons!

MATT: Before we jump into this episode after two weeks of rest, we're happy to be back, we've missed you guys terribly. We've missed each other terribly. We've missed the game. Holy shit, what a way to hold onto the last episode.

TRAVIS: Hanger cliff.

MATT: Hell of a hanger cliff there, but we'll jump into that shortly. Until then, we have some few announcements to get to beginning with our fantastic sponsors at D&D Beyond. And welcome our friend, Paulie.

TRAVIS: Paulie?

LAURA and TALIESIN: No.

SAM: Hey. Hey, guys. Oh, boy this is going to be hard. Nope. Hey, yo, I'm Paulie, I'm a shark. Full name's Paul Vincent D'Onofrio. No relation. I'm an East Coast shark, originally, but D&D; Beyond asked me to come over here and swim by and tell youse about their app and also to tell youse that they're heading to the Mile High City for the Denver Pop Culture Con. Autographs and photo op tickets are now available at DenverPopCultureCon.com. We're looking forward to meeting you. Why did they choose me to make this announcement? I got no freaking idea, I'm a freaking shark. The only D&D; I know are dungeness crabs and dragonfish. Hey!

LAURA: No.

SAM: Until recently, I thought an app was eating the boogie board before I eat the guy riding it. Badum-psh! Hey, but seriously, folks.

TRAVIS: Oh, god.

SAM: I shouldn't be here. & 45 eating surfers, swimming, shutting down half my brain so I can go to sleep while I'm swimming, but when D&D; Beyond called me, I thought, hey, why not, right? I got some time. Shark Week's not until July so I'll dig into it and holy carp! Let me tell you. This app is frigging money. They gots these cool weapons and classes, right? Blood mage, blood cleric, blood hunter? I'm a blood hunter, I can relate to that one! They got a thing in there. It's a home brew, but it's called a Sharkfolk? I started really getting into it, right? I went on the app, I bought some of their books; Out of the Abyss, Sword Coast, they even got one called Waterdeep. Hey, my backyard's water deep, hey, yo!

LAURA: Oh no!

SAM: I mean, come on. Lo and behold, one thing leads to another, bada bing, bada boom, now I got a frigging campaign going. Me and some pals, we toss out some chum, we play in an old shipwreck down there, it's real wholesome. My current character is a sea elf ranger named Ursula la Fin. I had some fan art for her done, but it got too wet. I play with a great bunch of guys and girls. Jill the Hammerhead is our healer, Left Shark is our bard, this octopus named Frumpkin sometimes drops in, my neighbor Nicky is our dungeness master, he's a crab, and we used to play with this surfer named Rhodey Slater, but I got hungry and I ate him. Anyway, so, what I'm saying to youse guys is-- almost done. What I'm saying to youse guys is we got room at the table, so if anyone out there is looking to join a cool campaign, shoot me an email, let me give you my email address, ready? (squeaking)

LIAM: That's dolphin.

SAM: At earthlink.net. Anyway.

TRAVIS: Earthlink?!

SAM: If an apex predator like me can get into D&D Beyond, shouldn't you? Sign up today or I'll hunt you down and kill you while you swim. All right, bye, peace, everybody. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Is that a tail and a fin?

MATT: Thank you, Paulie.

TRAVIS: What are you?

SAM: Where can I smoke this thing? Can I do it over here?

TRAVIS: Not in the studio. You got to go out to the sidewalk.

MATT: As we know, when political votes start getting really close, people start pulling out all the stops and doing ridiculous things to get your attention, So thank you.

LAURA: Isn't there a term called jumping the shark?

MATT: Well, long, long ago did that occur, Laura. Thank you, Sam. And Paulie.

LIAM: Drive me to drink.

MATT: Thank you very much, our friends at D&D Beyond, for enduring the onslaught weekly that we all do. Oh, hey, Sam.

SAM: Oh, hi, guys. Matt, I'm sorry I'm late. Did I miss anything? Did I miss some high quality comedy?

TRAVIS: There was a shark named Paulie that came through.

SAM: Oh, was it Paulie? Paulie Vincent D'Onofrio?

TRAVIS: Might have been the one.

TALIESIN: You know them?

SAM: Yeah, no relation.

MATT: If you could hear through the accent, it was mentioned that we are heading to the Mile High City for Denver Pop Culture Con. Super excited to be out there in Colorado to meet a bunch of you guys here coming up soon. Autographs, photo op tickets are now available at DenverPopCultureCon.com.

SAM: That wasn't part of my announcements--

MATT: No, it was not, but you put it in there anyway.

SAM: It says right here, "Sponsor: D&D Beyond" and right under it, it says, "Welcome to the Mile High "Denver Pop Culture Con."

MATT: I'm sure they were as confused as we were when you--

SAM: I read what's put in front of me, people! I'm not a mind reader.

TRAVIS: Paulie reads what he can see between the teeth of his mouth.

SAM: He's got a very tiny shark brain. He can't-- that wasn't part of the announcement, was it?

MATT: No, but now you know. Go to DenverPopCultureCon.com for information, looking forward to seeing you guys out there very soon.

LIAM: You know, Denver, Colorado.

TRAVIS: Rocky mountain high, Colorado! Okay.

MATT: There you go. While you're here, Sam, why don't you go ahead and tell us about what else is going on? In case you missed it, we released a special animatic preview on April 1st of our animated series the Legend of Vox Machina.

LAURA: It's looking really good.

SAM: Yeah, it is looking good. There was a sneak peak. You can check it out now on our YouTube channel. Huge special thanks to our friend, Mike Morris, for designing the characters for that animatic. The campaign is still going strong. Right, Travis?

TRAVIS: Going strong.

SAM: Okay. You can join it, you can join the campaign to fund this animated series at criticalrole., nope, at critrole.com/animated and now it says here, "Would love to get a little insight "from Sam about how the video came together on stream." I called up Mike Morris.

TRAVIS and SAM: And he crushed it.

SAM: It was really good.

TRAVIS: He blew us away.

SAM: He put it together, including the designs and also the wacky sound effects and it was awesome and it was a fun little April Fool's joke, but also a fun little taste of a little animated goodness.

TRAVIS: (like a Scooby Doo villain) Yeah!

MATT: I think I've actually seen that episode.

TRAVIS: He really killed it, A-plus.

MATT: Thank you, Sam.

SAM: Sure.

MATT: And thank you guys. Relatively short announcements this week so--

SAM: Do you need me to put on the shark costume again just to do some more?

LAURA: Really, any time.

MATT: That being the case, guys, let's go ahead and jump in to tonight's episode of Critical Role.

[thunder rumbling] [explosion] [dramatic music] ♪ Critical Role ♪ ♪ Critical Role ♪ ♪ Critical Role ♪ ♪ Critical Role ♪ ♪ Critical, critical, roll the dice ♪ ♪ The adventure begins, they were always beside you ♪ ♪ Your nerdy best friends and the DM to guide you ♪ ♪ And they rise from the flames ♪ ♪ For the battles ahead ♪ ♪ Villains beware 'cause you're 'bout to be dead ♪ ♪ They got magic and flair ♪ ♪ They got falchions and cunning ♪ ♪ They don't see over there, there's a monster incoming ♪ ♪ Inspiration is waiting, rise up, don't think twice ♪ ♪ Put your fate in your hands, take a chance, ♪ ♪ roll the dice ♪ ♪ Critical Role, roll the dice ♪ ♪ Critical Role, roll the dice ♪ ♪ Critical Role, roll the dice ♪ ♪ Can you answer the call ♪ ♪ Diggin' deep in your soul ♪ ♪ As the legend unfolds ♪ ♪ Now it's your turn, your turn, to roll ♪ [fire whooshing]

Part I[]

MATT: And welcome back. Last we left off: The Mighty Nein, having traversed the dangers and wastes of Xhorhas, in search of the recently captured husband of Nott, long estranged since her separation with her previous life. You made your way to the city of Asarius, the City of Beasts, you did some deeds for one of the local power figures, it seems, of the city, Lady Zethriss Olios, and one of them was in trade for a favor of the Bright Queen. You were, faster than you expected, whisked away to a teleportation "siggle"-- That's for you guys, there-- and brought to the Lucid Bastion in the center of the city of Rosohna, it seems, or Ghor Dranas as you've been hearing it referred to. There, as you are brought before the very court of the three ruling dens of the Kryn Dynasty. You were given an audience with the Bright Queen, Leylas Kryn herself. Upon approaching, you made your case to meet with this mysterious prisoner that you had been seeking and it seemed that one of the individuals who had traveled with you, this Lythir VaSuun, seemed to recognize you on your way towards this destination and piped up during this audience to notify the Bright Queen herself that he had been assaulted by you with intent to kill him and his companion on the borders of Xhorhas, across the Ashkeeper Peaks. In trying to defend yourselves and make a convincing argument, unfortunately, due to the stress and terrible perpetual die rolls, it did not go in your favor. The guards were called and you were to be chained and brought to some form of imprisonment. Amongst the chaos, a few knowing glances amongst the group and a silent agreement, Caleb approached Jester with clearance to make one final bid for peace, reached into her Handy Haversack and pulled out the dodecahedron, the beacon of which you'd been carrying for oh so long. Upon its presentation, the room falls silent, weapons clattering to the marble stone floors. As the Bright Queen took the object from your hands, tears in her eyes, proclaimed that you've brought hope to some degree back to these people and, in this moment, at least, you're heroes of the Dynasty. As the Bright Queen, Leylas Kryn, holds the shining beacon in her grasp, looking into its warm, pulsing glow, you all standing among the gawking crowd of drow and goblin-kin nobles flanked by guards, weapons down or dropped, the silence is deafening and endless, in a moment that seems to stretch forever. Until it's broken. You hear doors open on two sides, as attendants of the court begin to enter. Whispers begin to scatter across the lips of the various onlooking figures. Leylas, her expression changes from gratitude, the tears still wet on her cheeks, into a hardened woman, the same that you met when you first arrived. She turns and hands the artifact over to one of the nearby knights and looks back towards you and then to the knight, whispers. "Take this to its vault in the Darkshire and double the watch. Your deed here is noted and what quarrel you have with Lythir here is seen as absolved in the eyes of us three dens. So. Travelers from the Empire who renounce their home and history. I have many questions, as I'm sure you have some of your own. I shall begin." She backs and sits right atop her throne. Everyone who'd been standing, leaning forward, the breath taken out of the room, begin to come and rest back into their seats. Even Lythir himself taken aback by what just transpired, his expression moving from anger and frustration to processing what just happened goes and stands quietly off to the side from the central dais. As Leylas Kryn sits on her throne, looking across you once more. "How did you come upon our beacon, and why have you returned it to us?"

LIAM: That is a tricky story. To preface, it is difficult for me to say that we have turned our back on the Empire, some of us are not from the Empire. Those of us who are and all of us have a fair share of skepticism of how things are done there. I do not wish to see war, I don't think any of us wish to see war.

MATT: "War is upon you whether you like it or not."

LIAM: We did come here to bring it to you but we have selfish reasons as well.

MATT: "I would not be a fool to assume that this was a purely altruistic journey for you. Continue."

LIAM: This is my friend.

SAM: Hi.

LIAM: Nott the Brave. Her husband is here in this kingdom. I don't know if he is here or somewhere else in your great nation, but we have come to look for him and hopefully, today, leave with him. We are small pieces on this game board and I don't pretend to know all the pieces moving on either side. I know that there are people where I come from who are watching for you and I know there are people here, watching from where I come from. Some may know better than I, but I know that Nott's husband is somehow tied to your beacon and the war. We'd like to take him back and I'm only hoping that our offering today makes that somewhat easier to do.

MATT: "Is what he says true?"

SAM: It is, your Majesty, but not just my husband, he's the father of my child and I have been desperate to get him back, to make our family whole again. Surely even someone of your great stature must realize that reuniting a family with its-- with its core and with its child is the most important thing a mother could ask for. We may have fibbed a bit coming in the door, but hopefully, you will see that our intentions are true and noble and honest. I don't know what he's done to become imprisoned. He's gotten wrapped up in this whole magic business, but I just want him home with his son.

MATT: The Bright Queen nods towards you and glances over towards one of the nearby male drow figures sitting to the right of the dais. Very handsome, head held high, looking down upon this with a curious glance. A similar mantle to what you noticed Lythir wearing, but much more elaborate. You can see the robes that he's wearing that pretty much entirely obscure the body. They just fall, they go entirely around the mantle and close in the front so it's this beautiful, draped, deep purple and black robe that completely obfuscates the body. Glances down and the Bright Queen turns and goes, "Shadowhand, can we confirm that there has been some kind of imperial goblin capture?"

SAM: (throat clearing) He's not a goblin like I am. He's a different sort. He's very handsome, he has bushy hair, pale skin, these long sideburns, I always told him to trim them, but they're very long. He's a halfling man. His name is Yeza Brenatto. He's a chemist.

MATT: The Shadowhand goes, "Yes, we do indeed have this figure in our Dungeon of Penance."

SAM: I'm sorry, Dungeon of Penance?

MATT: She puts her hand up. "When this discussion is over, take them with you to see this prisoner. Thank you, Shadowhand." He nods his head. "It is unique to see a union of hearts between halfling and goblin, but we also are a people who have lived through many unique lives. There is no judgment here."

SAM: That's actually pretty nice to hear.

MATT: "So. I have asked a question. What is a question you would ask of me?"

LAURA: Oh.

SAM: What is?

LAURA: Does this mean we'll live here forever now and stuff?

MATT: "Want to cut to the chase, I see. Well, first, I will say that this prisoner of yours that you're requesting could possibly be returned to you. I do not know the scope and depth of his involvement with the conflict to the west, but I'm certain the Shadowhand will inquire and if there is anything else required, we will attempt to close our interrogation and return him to you."

SAM: Thank you, thank you so much. I'm so grateful, if there's any way I can repay you?

MATT: "Well, this request you make is also a paltry gift in trade for something as, as incredible as what you brought to us."

TRAVIS: I mean no disrespect with this question. We have been traveling with this beacon and we are mildly unaware of what it does. Would you mind sharing with us what it means to your people?

MATT: (chuckles) A uniquely warm smile and a head cock in your direction. You've caught a bit of interest from her. She leans back and, putting her fingers in a steepled position, goes, "This object that you so unknowingly brought to us is known as a Luxon Beacon. It is the body of the Lord of Light himself. A long time ago, before the gods came, the Luxon, the first light, came to this cold, dark world. In his solitude, not understanding what he was, saw this lonely ball of rock as lonely as he, as she, as whatever it is trying to discover it is. It embraced it and scattered itself to bring fire and life. That gave birth to the elements, gave birth to the seas. The many parts of the Luxon still reside, buried within Exandria. We have recovered four. And we lost two. And we have one back now, thanks to you. We believe there are many more out there and we aim to find them--"

LAURA: So now you have five?

MATT: "We have three."

TRAVIS: Recovered four.

MARISHA: Lost two.

LAURA: Got one back, three!

MATT: "Very astute of you, blue one."

MARISHA: Do you have any idea where the fourth one is right now?

MATT: "I assume, especially given the circumstances of one's retrieval, under very, very close guard somewhere in the Dwendalian Empire."

LIAM: That was my next question. Where we are from, all we hear of is the big bad other from Xhorhas, invading. This is what it's about? These?

MATT: "There are many reasons. There have been conflicts and bloodshed across our borders with the Empire for some time."

LIAM: What would it take to end the war?

MATT: "Knowing what I know, of the people who live across those mountains, a lot of death, on either side. Do you trust them? Do you trust the king, do you trust the people around him?"

LIAM: I don't know many, but I can't say that I am heartened, no.

MATT: "I do not know from where particularly you grew up in the Empire, but know that you are unaware of the murderous and vile intent that has encroached and killed so many in these wastes and stolen and burned. What happens now is retribution. What happens now has been earned by their actions and by taking something that we, that we require. We will not stop until we've left an equal or more share of blood across the Marrow Valley and beyond."

SAM: You say that you require it. You've told us what it is, but what does it do?

LAURA: I remember the soldier that gave it to us as he was dying said it helps you have babies.

MATT: "That is a very base way of putting it. Perhaps Skysybil would like to speak on this matter." She turns to her left and you see on one of the other dens, on one of the lower daises, the drow that are all sitting, and then there's one chair that has this withered, ancient elder female goblin, with strings of hair that dangle down two-and-a-half feet, almost to her toes, wrapped in these very wrinkled and billowing dark blue and black robes. (grunting) Sits out of the chair, this ancient, female-Yoda-esque figure, steps forward. (throat clearing) Takes a full minute to clear her throat.

SAM: Do you want a drink, I have a flask--

MATT: "No."

TRAVIS: Oh god.

MATT: "I am Skysybil Abrianna Mirimm."

TRAVIS: Nope.

MARISHA: Abrianna Mirimm.

MATT: "Leader of Den Mirimm."

SAM: Got none of those words.

TRAVIS: Skysybil.

LAURA: Den Mirimm.

SAM: Wrote down "ten million."

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Got fiberglass in my ears.

MATT: "I have lived nearly as long as Leylas, and I am the keeper of the history. What these beacons are, they're the center of the consecution. When one has proven their faith through word and deed, they are claimed by one of the ruling dens and taken to be soul bound to the Luxon through the consecution. Should a consecuted's body die while within a range of such a beacon, the soul does not pass on to the Outer Planes and whatever gods would vie for its dominion. The beacon draws it back. When a child is given life within that same range of the beacon, the spirit is given another life."

LAURA: I knew it!

MATT: "When the child comes of age to adolescence, they begin to recall memories, visions, dreams of lives past, in what is called anamnesis. We seek out these children and return them to their dens and through guided meditation, unlock their past, their lives. I have lived through several. As has the Bright Queen herself. Losing a beacon is losing a source of our cycle of rebirth and attaining a more perfect soul to eventually become an Umavi."

LAURA: What is an Umavi?

MATT: "An Umavi is a perfect soul. One who's lived enough lives to have learned the secrets to learn the true meaning of why they are here and to bring a fragment of the Luxon's puzzle to it when it is reborn, to give it purpose."

LAURA: Does that mean that we were carrying around a whole bunch of souls with us?

MATT: "Possibly."

MARISHA: We also peeked in a few times, into the beacon.

MATT: The Blackhand who previously was standing there with the enclosed cloak goes, "The Luxon is also the source of a very potent magical force. What you may have gleaned from staring into one of these beacons is one of many funnels of dunamis power. It is the basis of how we've been able to free ourselves from the binds of the lineage the Betrayer Gods left for us and to carve our own fates, choose our own paths and sidestep these destinies placed upon us nonchalantly by gods that use us as playthings."

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: The Bright Queen leans forward and puts hands up to both tell them to back off. "So you have asked some questions. It's my turn. Now, this favor, if we can indeed give it, is comparable to a certain degree, but is there anything else you would ask? I do not wish to keep debts."

TALIESIN: Free passage.

SAM: To where?

TALIESIN: Where we choose to go. We are moving towards our own destinies and serve our own interests.

MATT: "To that point, I did notice that some of you would have a difficult time traversing Xhorhas." Glances over towards the leather-strap-laden humans in the party.

MARISHA: Would someone cut these off me, please?

LAURA: They look so pretty, though.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll summon the falchion and just off the back collar. Caleb the same.

LAURA: Sorry about that.

MARISHA: Never doing that again.

MATT: "The capital city specifically would be a difficult place to tread with such company. I'm genuinely surprised you made it this far."

LAURA: We're pretty talented.

SAM: Yeah, we are.

MATT: "I will grant you my emblems of trust. Do not lose them, for I only grant them once." She puts her hand up and one of the nearby assistants comes up to the side of the throne on the right-hand side, puts aside a curtain, and pulls out a small box, opens it, rummages through it, putting a stack of these small, silver medallions, closes the box, shuts it, and comes forward and presents one to each of you. Within the center of each of these emblems-- they're about that big, they're not incredibly huge. A little bit larger than a gold piece. In the center, you see a carved symbol of the dodecahedron with a circle around it, but the circle is broken in places and twisting inward to form a protracted, sideways eight that merges with it and extends. "These symbolize an ally of the Dynasty. Keep them close, for many would wish to take them and abuse the access they provide in times of war."

SAM: Thank you, thank you very much.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we will guard them closely.

TALIESIN: Most generous.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "Have you any further curiosities?"

SAM and MARISHA: Yes.

SAM: So many.

TALIESIN: Sadly.

SAM: I don't know if my friend over here, who spoke so eloquently on my behalf, would dare ask it, but I think he would seek knowledge. You must have access to powerful magic learning and books?

MATT: (chuckles)

SAM: He's a talented magic user himself, and maybe one who could be of use to your Dynasty at some point.

LIAM: If I could bridge upon that, one request that I had, I have two, but one is that her ladyship consider that the Empire we are from is full of very good people. Most, almost all. I have been scarred by the few who do not fit that category and rather than kill the entire animal, I ask that you consider cutting the cancer out, so that the whole may live.

MARISHA: I understand wanting retribution and it's earned. You all have endured a lot, it seems. But equal suffering to countless innocents on the other side, I don't know if it would feel as satisfying as you think. What if we could offer judgment and vindication towards those individuals that are actually involved in wronging you?

MATT: You see this soft, distant thinking expression cross over her face.

MARISHA: Consider you might not be at war with the entire Empire? It may be a handful of assholes instead.

TALIESIN: Through retribution, one would eventually end up with an unending line of enemies. There is no end to that. It's not a thing that can be found.

MATT: Her expression turns strangely very dark. Like uncharacteristically. She just looks ahead and goes, "The world is not as easy as you say. We do not wish to commit genocide, but defending us means that innocents will die, perhaps. You have not seen the things I have seen. You have not known the atrocities of the Calamity like I have. In these 1,200 years that I have lived, and lived, and lived, and lived again, I have also known that the people who live under such banners, themselves believe what they've been fed. So if there are those you care for and those you believe do not deserve the hammer that will fall upon those lands, then perhaps you should tell them to leave, for war is coming. We cannot stop it because they will not, and I'm not about to let them have the first and final strike."

TRAVIS: Understood. I think I speak for all of us in saying that there is no way that we could even begin to imagine what you've seen over 1,200 years. I'm sure we would be honored to learn if you would. I, myself, am from south of the Empire and unfamiliar with their ways as I am with yours. I only seek to enlighten myself and maybe see a clearer picture. If we're to be guests here and find ourselves in your favor, I think it would serve all of us if, perhaps, we knew a bit more about your relationship with the Empire and the world.

MATT: "Well, let me ask you a question then. My final question. You have many great gifts to have found your way here, and you have seen many things that may be helpful in the battles to come, yes? Will you join us in this struggle to reclaim our final lost relic of renewal? And help us punish these insolent murderers who cut us down and steal our birthright?

MARISHA: If we do this, will you halt the attacks that you've been waging on the towns, like Felderwin? At least give us a chance?

MATT: "It is not something I can halt. It is something that must pass to keep the balance."

LAURA: It's all about the balance.

TRAVIS: You said that two people entered the room behind us before this all started, right? Two other individuals before she got very serious?

MATT: Meaning there were assistants that came in.

TRAVIS: Can we look around and see if anyone is actively casting anything, using anything?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Just at a glance behind us. Oh, natural 19. 17.

MATT: Natural 19 turns to a 17?

TRAVIS: Oh, plus two, no, 21.

SAM: Reverse math.

TRAVIS: Sorry.

MATT: You don't-- (laughs) That's fine, you missed it. You glance around the chamber. You don't see anything that looks like dubious spell casting or hand movements or muttering. There are whispers back and forth, but they seem to be conversational and quietly kept between members of the various dens, as you've heard them called, that exist in this central throne area. But nothing that signifies untoward spell casting.

TRAVIS: I can't speak for my friends, I will let them speak for themselves, but I would say I do not know. I do not know you, I do not know this land or this Dynasty. I'm interested to learn. That's the best I can offer.

TALIESIN: We serve the living. For as long as we walk in your kingdom, we will serve all goodness that we come in contact with. But we do not, and I also apologize if I speak for everyone, we are new to this place and would know it better before we would feel comfortable giving you such fealty. I'm not saying it won't happen in the future, I would just say that I would like to know you better, know your people better. Again, we have things that we are looking for.

LIAM: And Umavi, I beseech you. The fact that we have brought what we have brought to you shows-- I know that you have lived so long-- but I hope shows that our people are able to change and shake off the bonds that they have grown up under.

TALIESIN: We could have easily all been killed in one of these attacks or on our way here and this object would have been lost forever. Through the practical thinking of war.

MATT: "Have each of you been able to take a passing glimpse into the infinite might and power of possibility of the Luxon?"

TRAVIS: I think you have.

SAM: We all took a gander, yeah.

LAURA: It was really powerful stuff.

MATT: "Hold onto that. As you take your time, as you find your way, imagine what good can be done if everyone could come to know that same power. If instead of fighting and squabbling over the location of the truth, if we could all work together to find them. Whom do you worship?"

TALIESIN: I serve the Wildmother. I'm searching for a crematory, a kiln in the mountains. Have you heard of such a thing?

MATT: "I can't say that I have, but I can certainly ask around."

TALIESIN: Regardless, we'll find it.

MATT: "I hope she serves you well when the time comes.

LAURA: She brought him back to life. With my help, I mean.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "But should you die, what could a new life bring to you? Regardless, I appreciate you taking your time and I understand you have many things to consider and there is no immediate rush. For now."

MARISHA: One more question, if you don't mind, in our seek for understanding and knowledge. Your symbol, it's beautiful. Can you explain its meaning to me a little bit more?

MATT: "The lines represent the cycle of souls, continuing forever. It is within the light of the Luxon that there is no end to it. We don't become collections, we don't become bartering pieces for entities and gods that argue and fight. We forge our own path. In his divine light and warmth, we live and live and live again, and learn and teach forever. Those lines are the paths of the souls to infinity within the Luxon."

MARISHA: Well, I would just urge you to consider that a woman so adherent to cycles, I believe you also have the power to break them as well.

LAURA: Did you just ask her if she was on her period?

SAM: I don't think that's what she was asking.

MATT: There's a moment where the Bright Queen, the shoulders shift a bit and a coy grin hits the left side of her mouth.

MARISHA: Forgive me if that was too forward.

MATT: "Just surprising. You are surprising. Well, there are matters I must attend to. Shadowhand Essek. I assign you to be their steward for the time being. Help them find a place to stay, perhaps show them to the Firmaments of the city. Maybe to find their next fortune, to learn and keep handy. Professor Waccoh is still seeking skilled hands for her projects, perhaps there is good to be done there."

LIAM: What was that name again?

MATT: Waccoh. W-A-C-C-O-H.

LAURA: Are we going to the prison now?

MATT: "Essek, if you do not mind, take them to the Dungeon of Penance through the Shadowshire and see them to the prison."

LAURA: Thank you.

MATT: "Thank you."

SAM: Caleb! Should we have the--?

TRAVIS: As we start to turn, can I call out, "Lythir!"

MATT: "Yes?"

TRAVIS: No hard feelings, all right?

MATT: "None taken." Do you guys leave?

SAM: I guess so.

MATT: The Shadowhand Essek, who you've heard referred to, steps to the front of your troop, not even making eye contact just (whooshes), you watch the cloak. You don't even really see the feet touch the ground, though you hear the footfalls with the cloak just gently pulling back about an inch past where it touches the floor. The wide and hooked edges of the mantle framing the back of the head. The very short, white hair that comes to this beautiful half-curved coif to one side. Walking ahead and leading you towards the doors where you originally entered. Stopping part way and looking over his shoulder and going, "Are you following?"

LAURA: Yes.

SAM: Mm-hm.

MATT: Leads you on into the antechamber. The doors close behind (booming). "Do you require a moment to speak amongst yourselves? Or...?"

SAM: Yep.

TRAVIS: Same antechamber with the fountain and the three cups?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: If you wouldn't mind, we'd appreciate it. Just to check our pants and make sure no one needs a change.

MATT: "A common reaction. I'll be on the other side. Knock when you're ready."

MARISHA: Hey. Is there, like, listening devices in here? You guys monitoring us?

TRAVIS: Not that that matters.

MATT: "Why, is there anything to mistrust?"

TRAVIS: Nope, open book. Every page being written as we speak. We'll be out shortly.

MARISHA: Just curious!

MATT: He turns and exits out the other door. They come to a close and you have, for an undisclosed period of time, it seems, privacy here within the antechamber.

TRAVIS: (blowing)

TALIESIN: Detect Magic.

MATT: Cast Detect Magic? The only bit of magic that you find at this point is amongst your group and the items you're wearing.

TALIESIN: Okay. Nothing seems to be, nothing mystical happening in this place, so I think if they are listening, they're listening with the old cup and string.

SAM: I'm going to go around to some corners and throw some liquid around, see if it splashes on any invisible people.

TALIESIN: I just did a Detect Magic.

SAM: Sure, but they might have been--

MATT: Make an investigation check, sure.

SAM: A lot.

MATT: It's a splashy water investigation check.

SAM: 24.

MATT: 24, okay. (splashing)

LIAM: "Hey!"

TALIESIN: Blacklight.

MATT: Nothing seems to catch your attention. I would not recommend that in here.

TRAVIS: Well, that went--

MARISHA: What the fuck?!

TALIESIN: I'm so proud of you.

LAURA: Exactly as we totally thought it would happen, Caleb.

LIAM: I don't think that was our first choice of an ending, but it is one we discussed.

TALIESIN: You made the right call. I'm very proud of you.

SAM: I am, too. I think it was the smartest choice of action. And now we have an ally that we wouldn't have had otherwise.

LAURA: With really, really cool armor.

LIAM: We need to talk at length and I don't know if we can do it here.

TALIESIN: I don't think, perhaps, here is the place but we can at least--

LAURA: Are you okay, Fjord?

TRAVIS: Yeah, no, I'm fine. Yeah, I'm happy to be alive and not in jail. I wish we had a bit more of a chance to explore the, the soul box, as it were.

SAM: But knowing what we know now, I don't know that we could have done anything with it.

TRAVIS: What do we know now? What she told us?

TALIESIN: I think she was telling the truth and I think we'll learn more just by walking this place at this point.

TRAVIS: I mean, we're going to learn. I know that I talked to a 1,200 year old drow that's been a fucking million different people and a goblin that was probably 999,000 people. Like, fuck. Who knows what we're in the middle of now?

TALIESIN: I know, it's exciting.

TRAVIS: It is exciting, it is.

MARISHA: Well. Regardless, I think we all need direction amongst us, maybe. Kind of have a feeling like our current plan of pissing in the wind and then using that to decide our direction might not work so much anymore.

TALIESIN: The Wildmother spoke to me while I was in the cave and she thinks we're going the right direction.

LAURA: See, everything's good.

MARISHA: And what direction is that?

LAURA: Toward the piss.

TALIESIN: (laughs) Toward the piss, metaphorically speaking. We're going to where we're needed, our destiny awaits.

LIAM: I am disappointed to part with our toy. There was a lot that I wished to learn about it, but let's be honest, there was not much of a plan for it. We did not have much of a plan. I am--

TALIESIN: We're now in the place where any writings that exist on it would be.

MARISHA: Speaking of not having any plans, I'm more disappointed in us.

SAM: Why?

MARISHA: We knew nothing of what we were getting into. We were asking questions to the people we were trying to deceive, things that we should have already known.

SAM: We're not good at this.

MARISHA: We can be better at it, though. I'm actually pretty good at it.

LAURA: Well, yeah, but you were trained in it. You know, we're just a couple of people that were wandering around and found you guys and--

MARISHA: I was trained in it, you're right.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: What would you have done differently? How would you have learned about them?

LIAM: Everywhere that we went, you and I were not welcome.

MARISHA: Exactly.

TRAVIS: They seem to be pretty guarded in their secrets and their rituals and their relics.

MARISHA: It's no one's fault; it was just circumstantial. And I'm not agreeing to the slave thing anymore because that was stupid.

LAURA: Yeah, sorry about that.

TRAVIS: But you were so convincing. I mean it, really--

MARISHA: Fuck you, Fjord.

TRAVIS: All right, fair enough, no more of that.

LAURA: Some people are really into that stuff, I'm just putting it out there.

SAM: Have you seen that?

LAURA: I've seen some of it.

MARISHA: Under different circumstances, it might have been enjoyable. In a place where it was literally robbing me of my voice, not super cool.

LAURA: I get it, that's not cool at all. Sorry I put my feet on your back.

MARISHA: It was a little funny. It was a little funny.

TALIESIN: I don't remember that.

LIAM: I'll tell you what, though. For the first time in a very long time, I feel... hopeful.

LAURA: You look like you feel hopeful, Caleb.

(laughter) (clapping)

TRAVIS: Keep the frown on, keep the frown, don't break!

LIAM: I'm not breaking. I think it's going to be hell on earth for us to try to go back to the Empire. I assume everything that was said in that room is going back to Wildemount, going back to the Cerberus Assembly. My goose is cooked.

LAURA: I think you're right. I think I'm going to have a very hard time finding my father now because of this. I don't know if I'll ever see my mom again because the choices made in that room.

LIAM: If you want to see your mother, I can get you back to your mother pretty soon.

MARISHA: Jester has a point, though. Kind of goes for a lot of us.

LIAM: But we have, if we play it right, very strong allies, and things that were impossible yesterday are possible today.

TRAVIS: This is true.

MARISHA: It is true. It just depends on what type of possible you're looking for. I think your allies here are owed a little bit more of an explanation, Hope- Bringer.

LIAM: Not in this room.

TRAVIS: I was going to say the same. Maybe we should save this for a bit later. We should be celebrating the good news that we're going to recover Yeza.

LAURA: That's true.

SAM: She didn't say that we could take, she just said see.

LAURA: She said maybe. Maybe.

TALIESIN: At least argue for conditions.

SAM: I have to admit, I'm excited about that, but it was a possibility that I did not think was real-ish. So I'm also now kind of nervous.

LAURA: Has he seen you like this?

SAM: Nope.

LAURA: Ooh.

TRAVIS: Oh, not at all?

SAM: Mm-mm, nope.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: Would it be helpful if, when you first spoke to him, you looked like you used to?

SAM: Of course.

LIAM: We could do that.

SAM: Yes, but for how long?

TALIESIN: Is it possible that, perhaps, this is a bandage that should be pulled at some point?

SAM: Oh, I don't know. I mean, it's a rough scab.

TALIESIN: It's not going to heal right--

SAM: It doesn't look good.

TRAVIS: You know your husband. You have a child together.

LAURA: Does he hate goblins as much as you did?

SAM: Oh, yeah. Yeah, they're awful.

LIAM: You know what might soften the blow a little bit?

SAM: Alcohol?

LIAM: Freedom.

SAM: True.

LAURA: What if I sent him a message and let him know, hey, P.S., she doesn't look quite like you remember her, but, you know, she's still your wife, she loves you very much, and stuff.

TRAVIS: Actually, that's not a terrible idea, yeah.

LAURA: That way he's expecting something.

TRAVIS: Just prep it, just a bit. Just plant the seed, let it grow.

LAURA: Or, or, or we can totally transform you and he never has to know. We'll just consistently keep casting this spell on you and stuff. Forever.

SAM: That seems labor intensive.

LAURA: It'll use a lot of magic, but we're willing to do it for you.

TALIESIN: And you'll never be alone in a room again.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

SAM: That would make lovemaking very difficult.

(laughter)

I guess we could give him a little heads up, although I don't know when we're going to see him. Is it now, is it five minutes from now? Do we have to travel across the country to see him?

LAURA: I think he's probably downstairs, or something.

SAM: Are we in-- where are we? Are we in Ghor Dranas right now?

LIAM: Rosohna in Ghor Dranas.

SAM: How did that happen?

MARISHA: No, Rosohna is Ghor Dranas.

LAURA: Just a different name.

MARISHA: Rosohna is their name for it, Ghor Dranas is our bastardized name for it.

SAM: Oh.

MARISHA: Right?

TRAVIS: Remember we took a teleportation circle.

MATT: Yeah, Ghor Dranas is the name for the location as it was the capital for the Betrayer Gods during the Calamity up to the Divergence.

LAURA: They don't want it to be Betrayer Gods anymore.

TRAVIS: Oh boy. Oh gosh.

MATT: Make an intelligence check.

TRAVIS: See, that's just extra, that's extra info.

MARISHA: Just straight intelligence?

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: Eight.

MATT: Okay, no worries.

TRAVIS: Son of a bitch!

MATT: Just curious.

SAM: Yeah, maybe give him a headsy.

TALIESIN: You're nervous about where we are?

TRAVIS: I mean, the former capital of where the Betrayer Gods were during the Calamity.

SAM: I don't even know what that is. Are those important figures?

TRAVIS: I mean, they weren't good. Betrayer is inherently bad, right?

SAM: But then they changed the name, so maybe they didn't like them either.

TRAVIS: Yep, just total rebrand. I'm sure there was nothing left behind after that.

LAURA: I mean, don't judge people based on, you know, their parents. Some people--

TRAVIS: Yes, absolutely. I'm just suspicious, that's all.

LAURA: Understandable, but I think the Bright Queen was pretty cool.

TRAVIS: This version of the Bright Queen.

SAM: What does that mean?

LAURA: That you mean she's got 1,200 lifetimes, well, no, that would be very short lives.

TALIESIN: He was a fan of the previous Doctor Who series.

TRAVIS: Fuck you, and yes.

LIAM: From what I've read, she could also probably have killed us all herself without any help.

LAURA: Yeah, she's really strong, I would assume.

SAM: I don't know, you're pretty good. You could have done Wall of Fire.

LIAM: Over a thousand years of training is pretty top notch.

LAURA: Wow. No wonder her armor is cool.

TRAVIS: How about we let him know that we'll feel free to move--

LAURA: I wonder if she would give us some, like, armor or diamonds or, like, gem dust, or something?

TALIESIN: I would not say no to another diamond.

SAM: Should we go back and ask for stuff and for jewels now?

LIAM: Perhaps not directly to her, but--

TALIESIN: If they have work for us, so we can maybe earn a little something and--

MARISHA: They mentioned Professor Waccoh.

TALIESIN: I feel like, perhaps, if we start doing our good work here things will manifest.

LAURA: I'm going to cast Sending.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: That pen is fucking dope, Jester.

TALIESIN: It's such a good pen.

LAURA: Thanks. I want to eat it, it's really hard not to put it in my mouth. On Yeza.

SAM: While she's casting, I'm going to start getting drunk.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: No, no, no! I pull whatever you're drinking down.

SAM: I need it!

TRAVIS: No, you don't! (slapping) I smack her.

SAM: Ah!

TRAVIS: You don't need this! You're all the woman you need to be.

SAM: You're so tall, but your slaps are so ineffectual! It's like you have rubber wrists or something. It did almost nothing to me.

TRAVIS: (slapping)

SAM: Nothing at all! How do you even hold the falchion?

TRAVIS: (crying)

LAURA: Oh, no. Don't make Fjord cry.

TALIESIN: You made fun of his tennis wrist, come on.

SAM: Let me drink my drink!

LAURA: No.

SAM: I'm scared.

LAURA: Yes, but you love him. You don't want to be drunk the first time you see him again.

SAM: I was drunk the first time we--

TRAVIS: Okay, all right, well.

SAM: All right. I won't get drunk.

LAURA: "Guess what? We're here! But Nott needs to let you know she looks a little different."

SAM: My name's not--

LAURA: What was your name again?

SAM: Veth.

LAURA: "Veth is Nott."

SAM: That's confusing.

LAURA: "She still loves you, okay." Oh!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Go on. It's 25, right?

MATT: You don't have to use all the words.

LAURA: I want to--

LIAM: Don't say that!

LAURA: "We're on our way."

TRAVIS: We're on our way, you got it.

ALL: Yay!

SAM: Veth is Nott. What?

LAURA: Wait, I'm waiting.

MATT: "Veth is here? What?! Are you being serious? I guess you can't say. Thank you." And that's it.

LAURA: Aww, he seemed really excited to see you. Also, kind of confused.

SAM: Maybe I should get drunk.

LAURA: Maybe we should cast it on you.

SAM: Cast what on me?

LAURA: Polymorph or something?

SAM: Polymorph, you want to make me a griffin or something?

LAURA: Oh, can't we make you look like you used to?

SAM: I can make me look like that.

LAURA: Oh, that's right. The thing is, if we cast a physical spell on you, then when he touches you, you'll still feel like you. But if you cast disguise on you, then when he touches you, he'll know that you have these ears and stuff.

MARISHA: It's like dipping your toe in the water before you fully jump in. It might be nice to ease him into it.

SAM: How do you do that?

MARISHA: You turn yourself into you and be like, "So I have a thing." Or maybe even introduce through touch first, you know, one--

LAURA: That's good, that's cool.

MARISHA: One sensory overload at a time.

SAM: Okay, okay.

TRAVIS: Yep.

SAM: Okay.

LIAM: You're just going to slowly turn up the temperature on the situation.

TRAVIS: Just a hand.

LIAM: Ease him in.

TRAVIS: And then an arm. And then an ear. And then like, your lower jaw.

LAURA: Big ol' goblin titty.

(laughter)

SAM: All right. You guys'll just be creepily watching all this happen?

TRAVIS: Yep, I wouldn't miss this for the world. We're ready to go.

MARISHA: It's like a proposal video. We're going to be filming it.

LAURA: Cast yourself.

SAM: Oh, it's happening, we're doing this. All right.

LAURA: Or should you do it when we get closer because it lasts for what, an hour?

SAM: Let's ask Mr. Essek.

MATT: The doors open and the Shadowhand is standing there. "Are you ready?"

TRAVIS: Man, that was so dramatic. I believe we are.

LAURA: How far away is the dungeon?

MATT: "I'd say about, by foot, an hour's travel at most."

LAURA: Okay, so maybe wait just a minute.

SAM: I will.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: "Very well, follow me." He turns around.

MARISHA: Can we do an insight check on him and make sure that this guy's not going to turn on us and just throw us in jail and be like, "Fuck you guys."

MATT: Sure, make an insight check.

LAURA: Good thing I can cast the Sending on Leylas.

MARISHA: Okay, I got to remember my stats again. 23.

LAURA: Oh no, he's definitely planning something.

SAM: Guys, D&D Beyond will be in Denver. That is not true! That was a mistake! They are everywhere, though, everywhere that you have your tablet device and a login.

LIAM: Among other places.

SAM: Yeah, you can get D&D Beyond in any nation of the world as long you have access to internet and an excitement for the joys of D&D.

MATT: There we go. All right. "Very well, follow me." He turns around and continues to walk. "Now--"

MARISHA: Fuck it, seems legit.

MATT: Leading you through the long hallway which you entered, but passing onto the opposite end, walking for hundreds of feet amidst this massive, awe-inspiring, cathedral-like interior. The doors open and lead you immediately outside. The scent of embers and crisp night air hit your nose as you see the dark of night above you, though the timing of the day should be daytime. You know this very specifically. You look up to a dark sky, stars visible. It's curious, but comfortable, not too chill.

TRAVIS: Stars visible?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Why is it so dark outside?

MATT: "Oh, that's right, you're not from around here. For most of us, sunlight can be a bit of a bother. While we do have periods of worship in which we give ourselves to the sunlight as part of our means of showing our faith, it does impede our day-to-day business. So as part of our craft, we've found a way to keep it at bay, for as long as we'd like."

LIAM: How high does this darkness rise?

MATT: "About a mile."

LIAM: That is fascinating.

MATT: "Oh, there's so much more. Come."

TALIESIN: The correct stars, in the sky?

MATT: "It's where they would be."

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: "It's as if there was no sun at all above you."

TALIESIN: So not a different sky. It's this sky.

MATT: "It's this sky. Just through a lens of dunamantic magic."

TRAVIS: What do we call you, just Shadowhand? Or is there another name you prefer?

MATT: "Shadowhand Essek Thelyss."

TRAVIS: Essek Thelyss.

MATT: "Of Den Thelyss."

SAM: Sure, we know it well.

LAURA: Den Thelyss is, like, the most popular one.

SAM: That's one of the top three, is that right?

MATT: "It is indeed."

TRAVIS: Is it impolite, forgive me if it is, to ask how many years you have been through the bop-bop beacon?

MATT: "Interestingly enough, while I am consecuted, I have not gone beyond the first life yet."

TRAVIS: Ah.

MATT: "I am what you refer to as a prodigy of dunamancy. The den was very kind to accept me for one as comparably young as myself, I'm only partway into my second century, so."

LIAM: It would be a great honor.

MATT: "It is. Anyway. Come, we have a prison to show you to." As he turns, you can now see before you, throughout the vicinity, this beautiful courtyard of subtle gray and green bushes and trees. You see that you're on a hill. The center of the city seems to be on some sort of hilltop and looking down, you can see the perimeter wall, made of a dull gray with a purplish-tint type stone and across the crest of it, you see these green lanterns that alight with this soft, green glow. Beyond that, beyond the barricades, your vision stretches out to see the entirety, it seems, of Rosohna, this incredible, vast metropolis, alit with thousands of the same little, green lantern glows. You see stone and metal and dark clay making up all the structures in various sizes and shapes, some of which have been repurposed ruins of old that have been built upon and refurbished, some of which, at least closer to the center, appear to be extensions of an elvish, domicile design that is familiar yet unfamiliar, in some ways slender and jagged, but beautiful and sleek. Then, beyond that, you can see extending wards of the city that tend to be a little more patchwork and scattered. You can see distant bonfires that are lit in some of the streets, giving distinct orange glows that break up the rest of the green, sparkling lights that make up the entirety of your vision. It's beautiful. In the district beyond you, you can see broken spires of curved metal that have a more industrious feel to it. You can see, well, you're guessing it's probably the Firmaments, the way that it's guiding you towards it. Suddenly, you hear this screech go through the sky above and you glance up and instinctually duck and, in the dark night sky, you can see a pack of ash-gray griffons passing overhead, elements of Kryn armor affixed to their bodies. On top, you can see riders scanning the skies, about 12 of them, keeping watch over the vicinity.

TALIESIN: That's one each if we decided to.

MATT: Essek leads you beyond the outer perimeter of this region and into this next area, which he tells you, "Welcome to the Firmaments. This is the place of higher learning. This is where, well, based on what you have been talking about and your curiosity, perhaps you'll be returning to, maybe when this ordeal is done. Especially if you're looking for the professor. She is within the Marble Tomes Conservatory and should be a unique meeting of minds I would like to be present for. But this way." Glides along and leads you to a large, curving stairway between two intricate pillars that digs beneath the ground, the path leading below. As you follow suit, you can feel the cold temperature begin to get colder as you descend. The sounds, just the echoing of the clacking of your feet on the stone steps. Each footfall getting seemingly louder as the quiet that approaches gets more and more deafening. Then echoes begin to fade. About five minutes of travel down through this very wide, curving spiral. Until you open up into a grandiose, subterranean cavern. You can see it's about a quarter mile across in every direction and it appears that some sort of a pillar that you've been spiraling down towards and when you step out and walk along the side, there are three visible pillars that rise up into the ceiling, which may be other ways of traversing down to what you can only assume is the Shadowshire. Now, the rough-hewn ceilings above, a couple hundred feet above you, glow with a blue moss that fills in the nooks and crannies between protruding bits of rough rock and crystals and other bits of strange, exposed ore that glimmers in the way that the soft glow hits it in certain angles as you walk by. The base of the cavern around you is a surprisingly bustling new neighborhood of stone and glass, lit with the same green lantern light. The streets are filled with drow. It seems primarily drow down here. Essek leads you onward towards an iron structure. You can see the faces of people nearby watching as you pass, some of them with a look of discomfort and surprise, others just genuine curiosity, but they seem to not pay mind with Essek leading the pack. Especially since he's leading you towards an iron structure designed for a more daunting task, with its spiked, metallic railing and burning braziers flanking the large front doors. You imagine this is probably some sort of entrance towards the prisons leading to you. That pathway you're taking seems to set most of the nearby denizens at ease. Essek wordlessly approaches the guard before they open the doors before you, the heavy metal grinding open as you step inside. Immediately, the smell of very acrid iron type scent hits your nose, like oxidizing metal meets rotting citrus. It's not a pleasant smell. As you enter, you're whisked along. It's strange. You follow Essek and as you do, you feel like your pace is quickened. People pass by other guards, but they blur past, like you're unable to necessarily focus. Something is subtly influencing you to make it difficult to really trace the path you take to where you're going.

LAURA: Ooh, cool.

MATT: You're quickly whisked down another hallway to another set of stairs. The smell of iron now mixes with the smell of sweat. And rot. And dung. You try and focus on the door you're being led through and then (whooshes) you're ushered through it. You're moving under your own power, but almost not. It's a strange experience.

LAURA: Essek, it feels really weird down here.

MATT: "As it should. You have not been here before."

LAURA: You're not going to, like, leave us down here or something, are you?

MATT: "Was that part of the deal?"

LAURA: No.

MATT: (chuckles) He keeps walking.

TRAVIS: Do you not feel the same effects?

MATT: "No. Time is one of my specialties." As you head down into this subterranean series of tunnels, you pass by cells, iron bars and grates. You can see off to the edges what little bits of light there are from these small, burning flames, magically lit and perpetually crackling up in their small, iron cages. In the shadows, there look to be multiple figures, some human, some ogre-ish, with more reinforced bars, drow, emaciated, beaten, who knows. Not looking happy and healthy, but then again, what good Dungeon of Penance would? You go past another whirl of metal gates. You suddenly stop before a cell. Essek nods to a jailer across the way that you didn't notice was there and suddenly is standing on the opposite end and he pulls out a ring of keys and (creaking) pulls the gate open and steps away. Essek turns. "Well then, the prisoner is all yours."

SAM: Oh! Are we all in the room?

MATT: You all are standing outside of the cell. The door is open.

TRAVIS: How long do we have?

MATT: "As much as you need."

TRAVIS: Thank you. How do we-- will you stay or do we call?

MATT: "Oh, I'll be right here."

TRAVIS: Excellent.

LAURA: Do we get to take him? Do we leave with him, then?

MATT: "Depends."

SAM: Do we have to kill you to get him out of here?

MATT: "(laughs) I'd like to see you try. Uh, no. I get to decide."

LAURA: Oh!

LIAM: Are there specific criteria?

MATT: "Maybe."

TRAVIS: That seems very fair. Our intentions are very simple.

LAURA: Essek, I really think that you're very handsome and that you seem like a really cool guy and I hope we can be friends and stuff.

MATT: "Thank you very much."

LAURA: You're welcome.

TRAVIS: Any other eyes down the hallway besides Shadowhand?

MATT: There's the jailer, who's about 15 feet down that way and resting in the back.

TRAVIS: Kryn armor, same sort of thing?

MATT: Actually, no, not classically battle-set Kryn armor, simple leather armor. Yeah, drow, but like a burly drow, wearing a dark hood, sleeveless, you see the arms are exposed, like a leather tunic and then a hood that's affixed to it that is also dark leather that is up currently. He's sitting there, leaning against the wall, facing forward, occasionally glancing over out of the corner of the eye to keep an eye on things but that's it.

LIAM: I'm going to drop down to my knees in front of Nott. Are you okay?

SAM: Nope!

LIAM: Well, if it's any help, you're not alone. No matter what happens, we'll be here for you.

SAM: Thank you. Don't, don't leave. In fact, maybe one of you or something could go in first and sort of--

LAURA: Present you or something?

LIAM: Jester, you've been speaking to him.

LAURA: That's true, I have been. I could present you.

SAM: Sure. That's a good idea.

LAURA: Yes.

SAM: Don't build me up too much because, I don't know, if I get a detail wrong or something or--

LAURA: I'll let him know, you know. You're a little different, but you're the same.

SAM: All right. Do you have any of those oils?

LAURA: Like, you want to wear my mom's perfume?

SAM: Yes.

LAURA: Okay! Here, I put a little lavender oil around her neck. Here, put it on your wrists, too. My mom always did right here.

SAM: Can I just, just a little bit, just in case.

LAURA: Well, that's really-- if you want. Here, put it on your finger or something because that's not.

LIAM and TALIESIN: Oh.

LAURA: I just didn't want to use the actual thing for it.

LIAM: It's not a conjugal visit. Is that one of the criteria?

SAM: I don't know! I'm prepared for anything! You don't go to a date with two dollars in your pocket and shitty underwear, do you? No!

TRAVIS: Good question. Is the prisoner alone in this cell?

MATT: You look into the cell?

SAM: You wear the best fucking underwear you own!

LIAM: I did once, but never after that.

SAM: Just in case!

TALIESIN: Keep wearing it every day. Lucky underwear.

TRAVIS: I love that you even know that there are best underwear.

LIAM: It's on par with leather armor.

MATT: The cell is about 20 feet deep, ten feet wide. Aside from the bars towards the very front, the chamber is solid iron. The floor is stone, very hardy stone, and elements of the floor have scattered bits of soft-dried grasses. There appears to be a bedroll that is tossed in the corner and a pot. You see, off in the corner, knees to the chest, looking forward, spooked, a halfling man, curly, matted brown hair, gaunt, pale, bags under his eyes. Wearing a basic cloth tunic that looks somewhat torn in one sleeve. Remnants of a vest. Actually looks partially eaten. Slacks that appear to be scraped and torn in places, but he's just knees clutched to the chest.

TRAVIS: He's in there by himself. Are you?

SAM: I'll cast Disguise Self on myself, and I will look like Veth Brenatto: dark skin, bushy eyebrows, gold band across her hair, long dark hair, necklace made of buttons, gray dress, little booties. Yeah, some baubles and trinkets all over. That's it, but you go in first.

LAURA: Yeah, you look really good.

SAM: Okay, set me up.

LAURA: Okay, okay. I walk in.

MATT: "Who's, who's there?"

LAURA: Guess who it is?!

SAM: Jesus.

TRAVIS: Are you fucking serious?! He's been eating his shirt!

LIAM: This is fucking Alcatraz!

TRAVIS: Will I live, will I die, I don't know.

LIAM: Jean Valjean: 20 years, breaking rocks.

TALIESIN: We've got balloon animals!

LAURA: I don't have a world limit now, buddy.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: She makes me so sad.

MATT: As soon as you say that, he skitters back a bit. "Oh, I recognize that voice."

LAURA: Yeah, right? Just like I said, Yeza!

MATT: "You weren't lying, you--"

LAURA: No! You're not crazy, I swear.

MATT: He scrambles up a little bit, like getting to his feet and catches himself on the wall, a little woozy.

LAURA: Take it easy, you've been down here I don't know how long.

MATT: "Where is she?"

LAURA: She is waiting outside the cell. I'm just coming in because I want to let you know, you know, that, as you know, things are a little different than they were before, right? But she still loves you so, so, so much that we all had to come here for you. We came really far to rescue you because she loves you so much. Okay?

MATT: "Okay."

LAURA: Just keep an open mind and remember that you know, sometimes we look different, but in our hearts, we're still very much the same.

MATT: "Do you have any food and water?"

(laughter)

LAURA: Yes. I look through my bag.

MATT: "Really, anything."

LAURA: Yeah, like, it's a really crusty-- okay.

MATT: He's just scarfing.

LIAM: He's eating cordyceps.

LAURA: Yeah, and here's a little taste of honey.

MATT: "Oh, wow, it's been a while."

LAURA: Don't make yourself sick, now.

MATT: "Water."

LAURA: Yes. I have a canteen, I think.

LIAM: By the way, all The Mighty Nein is in the hall going--

MATT: (gulping) He finishes off the wineskin and hands it back. "Oh, thank you, thank you."

LAURA: You're welcome.

MATT: (burping)

SAM: That's his burp.

LAURA: It's how I imagined it would be.

MARISHA: While all this is happening, I'm keeping an eye on Essek. Just kind of lightly.

LAURA: Okay, well, close your eyes!

MATT: "Okay?"

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: Ready.

LAURA: Veth?

SAM: Okay.

LAURA: Come on in here, then.

SAM: I walk into the room.

LAURA: Slowly back away.

SAM: Oh god. Hi, sweetie. It's me, huns buns.

MATT: His eyes open and blink and blink, and then rubs them. "I thought the packages were a joke somebody was playing on me."

SAM: No.

MATT: "Was that really you?"

SAM: It was me. I was trying to make sure you were taken care of. I know you're a terrible, terrible cook and...

MATT: "Unless it's compounds, yeah. Where, where have you been?"

SAM: A lot has happened. When we separated that night, I, I was taken and terrible things were done to me, and I was changed a bit.

MATT: "That's okay."

SAM: No, don't, don't touch me. Not yet, anyway. I'm sorry. It's just, what you're seeing is not how I really look. It's an illusion. I look much different and I'm afraid you won't like it. And that's okay. Because it's not me, it's what they turned me into.

MATT: "You think that matters?"

SAM: Yes, I do. It matters to me.

MATT: "It's still you, right?"

SAM: It is.

MATT: "And you're alive?"

SAM: I am.

MATT: "That's the best news I've heard in a long time."

SAM: If I show you, will you promise not to laugh or cry or, you know, throw a rock or something?

MATT: "I promise."

SAM: She's really strong, so if you did, she might just, like--

LAURA: I would cut you.

SAM: Yeah. I was going to say, like, restrain, he's my husband.

LAURA: Don't you hurt my friend.

MATT: "Who?"

LAURA: She loves you so much.

MATT: "Okay. Who is--?"

SAM: She's my friend. I have a bunch of friends. They're all outside, they're probably poking their heads in right now.

TRAVIS: See one hand sticks out.

MATT: "Hey, hi, friends."

SAM: They helped me get here and they helped me find you and they're going to help me become me again, someday. For now, they've helped me get to you, which is the best gift ever and I'm so happy you're alive. I saw Luc, he's okay.

MATT: "Is he okay?"

SAM: He's okay, he's fine. He's safe in Alfield right now. But actually--

MATT: "When they attacked, luckily, he was at Edith's and I was afraid until you began to talk to me, but I didn't know what to trust anymore. I've been in a daze, I'm sorry."

SAM: We have a lot to talk about. I don't know if they'll let me take you away from here today but for now, just know that my only existence has been getting back to you and the boy, this whole time, and I'm sorry it's taken me this long.

MATT: "It's okay."

LAURA: I'm going to back out of the room to give you guys some privacy.

SAM: They turned me into a monster, honey. And just, I won't always be like this, but... You know, Beau made a good suggestion. Maybe come over and just take my hand first.

MATT: As he reaches out, there's a trepidation, like he's afraid you'll disappear. He touches your fingertips and takes your hand and runs his fingers over yours.

SAM: It's a little weird, right?

MATT: "Maybe, but you're warm."

SAM: Touch my face.

MATT: "There's a lot going on here."

SAM: Yeah. Yeah, maybe the touch thing doesn't-- maybe that makes it even creepier somehow. No, yeah.

MATT: He finds the ears.

SAM: Those are long, they're long. They just keep going, just keep going.

MATT: Just touches the nose and the lips and the chin.

SAM: It's a mess, a real, it's a nightmare place. This whole area is just rough.

MATT: "But it's you, right, it's Veth?"

SAM: It's me. I mean, I think it is. It's me inside, but it's the wrong body. It's the wrong body, but it's the right me, so, here, I'll just show you. And I'll drop the spell.

MATT: There's a brief moment where you hear the breath (inhale). You watch him process.

SAM: I turn around slowly.

MATT: As you turn around, you feel his hand touch your shoulder and stop you. "It's still you though, right?"

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: "And that's all that matters. It'll take a little getting used to. I don't even-- that's a lot of teeth."

SAM: It's a lot of teeth, yep. I mean, we don't have to kiss or anything. I don't even know how that would work. I mean, I spent some time with the goblins, they held me prisoner, and they don't really kiss and I can see why. It would just be like a lot of clacking.

MATT: "Yeah. Like throwing all the dishes into a pile, yeah."

SAM: Yeah. I mean, you can-- I know I'm hideous, you don't have to hold back, it's--

MATT: He takes you and wraps his arms around you.

SAM: I'll hug him back. Squeeze his little butt.

LAURA: I hope you like lavender!

MATT: No words. He just holds you for a minute, two.

SAM: (sighs) I'm so happy to see you. I'm so happy that you've seen me. It's like a fresh start. Well, no, it's like a new chance. There's still a long way for me to go, and I'm afraid.

MATT: Pulls away a little bit and looks you in the eyes, bending down a little bit. "What are you afraid of now? I mean, you survived what the goblins did to you. You came this way. I mean, I know how far you came, they dragged me through it. This is a very, it's a very bad place. And you came here for me. I mean, that's braver than I could ever be. I don't know what you could possibly be scared of now."

SAM: I'm scared of having to do it all again. Now that I'm with you, I don't know how I could be apart from you, but I think for us to be together, we'll have to be apart again. We've just-- we've learned things that have complicated our lives even more than before.

MATT: "Things have been really intense for a few months."

SAM: Our son is out there, and I'm afraid now that he's actually in a place that's maybe even more dangerous than this cell. One of us needs to get to him, and I don't know if it can be you. I don't know what they have planned for you.

MATT: "You mean the, the lady?"

SAM: Yeah, what lady?

MATT: "DeRogna, the one that hired me."

SAM: Who's that, who's that, who's that? Caleb!

LIAM: Yes.

SAM: Who's DeRogna?

LIAM: She's part of the Cerberus Assembly.

SAM: Oh, this is Caleb, by the way. He's the reason I'm alive.

MATT: "Hi, thank you."

LIAM: Hi.

SAM: He's the second smartest man in the world, really, really great guy. He's helped me, saved my life so many times.

LIAM: I've heard so much about you. I hear you really know your way around a laboratory.

MATT: "Occasionally. It gets me into trouble, it seems. But..."

SAM: We're just friends, he and I are just friends, though.

LAURA: They're not romantic in any way. Don't worry. She thinks he's like her son.

MATT: "Okay. You're her--"

SAM: No, no. She doesn't know what she's talking about. He's a friend of mine.

MATT: "Okay."

LIAM: One of many, come in, come in, come in.

TRAVIS: Hi.

MARISHA: 'Sup.

MATT: "Well, this is a motley crew you got here. Oh, she's big," and looks at Yasha as she looms from behind. "Hello."

LIAM: He hasn't met Caduceus.

TALIESIN: Hey.

MATT: "What's that growing on your shield?"

TALIESIN: Oh, yeah, that's-- this is kind of interesting actually, here.

MATT: "That's like semi-phosphoric organic matter. I can-- I'd be curious to know some of the properties of this when we have a chance to--

TALIESIN: Sure. That's a lot of work. You can keep that, that's okay. Well, no, that's fair, you can do that.

MATT: "I can't stay here. If we go back, I have to be careful of the-- that lady, she's in with some really powerful people and we began to run these experiments."

SAM: She hired you?

MATT: "Yeah, they reached out, a recommendation. Who would've thought?"

SAM: Oh, well, you know, I was always saying that you should promote yourself more, you know, get out there.

MATT: "I know, I just, I'm really bad at that."

SAM: I know, but, you should always-- you lead with confidence because people really respond to that.

MATT: "Well, you know, I'm really good at that."

LIAM: Maybe you could tell us all about that later over dinner or something.

MATT: "Okay."

LIAM: After we leave, we'll get you fed.

MATT: As Essek steps into the bars and goes, "Or we can discuss it now as the means of your release."

LAURA: Oh.

SAM: Sure.

LIAM: What do we need to cover here, sir?

MATT: The Shadowhand looks towards him and says, "This DeRogna, what did they hire you for? What did you do, and what do you know of what you've created?" "I mean, I don't have a special talent or anything. She hired me, she bought this strange box thing and she began to do experiments. She brought some people in to do different types of magic, arcane, divine, I don't know the variations there. They would be able to pull this weird, ethereal film out of it, this like gray mist. Then it was my job to try and find a compound that it would adhere to so it could be brought into an actual usable, physical form. They paid well. They said it was for the good of the Empire and Empire's always been kind to us. And I--"

TRAVIS: (coughing) Excuse me.

SAM: In its very limited way. Just like making sure the roads were okay.

TRAVIS: Just one second (coughs). I'll step outside of the cell.

MATT: "For months, we worked in the basement. She'd, you know-- I began working on trying to get this to work and it was really frustrating and they were frustrated with me and they were threatening to cancel the contract. But then I found it, I found a compound that would actually bond this material to it and distill it and we made one successful vial of it. It was a breakthrough. I was proud. She's usually very intense, but she was very nice that day. She was very positive. She said this was good work, she appreciated it. She said that they'd hold off on the experiments for a while. She took the box back with her, saying that they were going to hire me to make a lot more of these soon, and they were going to ramp up production. They'd hopefully be able to provide enough gold to where we could buy a new home for me and Luc and now you! We were thinking maybe like Deastok or Trostenwald or something. Not but two days later, the house was attacked," and looks up at Essek. "Thankfully, Luc was off at Edith's house and they destroyed everything. They asked me questions, but Lady DeRogna said not to tell anybody anything, that if anybody was told about what we were doing that she would take Luc away and I can't let that happen. So she can't know about this." Looks over towards the Shadowhand. She cannot know about this, please. They dragged me through all these terrible places, chained to like a giant nightmare, this worm thing, and they brought me here and they just watched me from the shadows, asking me questions about experiments and starving me. But I didn't say anything, I didn't say anything because I knew you were coming and I didn't want anything to happen to Luc and I didn't tell them anything. That's it." The Shadowhand stands by and goes, "Very well. It seems that not all forms of interrogation are effective, but alternate means can be. The prisoner is free to go. He is your charge now."

SAM: Really?

MATT: "Of course, we have what we need, thank you."

LAURA: Thank you.

SAM: Yes, thank you.

TRAVIS: Are we free to go? Do I believe him?

MATT: Make an insight check.

TALIESIN: I mean, no sense of lying at this point.

TRAVIS: Natural 20.

MATT: What was your question?

MARISHA: I was wondering if I saw any indication of what forms of interrogation they were using. While walking through.

TRAVIS: Starvation.

MATT: With your passive perception and your lack of darkvision, you haven't seen really much anything. You've seen the outside of the cells and occasional shapes moving from what little light makes it through, but you haven't gained any information in a passing stance to ascertain what that is. Now, for you, it's a natural 20, but what's your total?

TRAVIS: Insight is negative two, so 18.

SAM: Guys, D&D Beyond.

LAURA: ♪ D&D ♪

MARISHA: That was so cute.

SAM: My shark act? Thank you. I worked really hard on it.

MARISHA: A little rainbow room.

LIAM: You had managed to drive the shark out of our minds. Why would you recall?

MATT: He looks back to the jailer. "Close up the cell, we no longer have reason to use it. Come, I will bring you back to the surface. You come along as well, my friend." He looks down, smiles at Yeza and Yeza's: "Okay." Essek turns and begins to walk. Do you follow?

SAM: Yeah. I'll take Yeza by the hand.

MATT: Okay. He takes yours and squeezes it. His grip isn't very strong, he's still pretty weak.

SAM: Never was.

LIAM: Like Fjord.

(laughter)

SAM: It's like five noodles at the end of a stick.

MATT: It's a long hop from Grog. Guided back through the process, the same weird sensation overwhelms you and it feels like a form of intoxication where you feel sluggish, but everything around you's moving very quickly. It's a blur of lights and faces and guards and people and stairs and doorways and suddenly you're outside of the iron barracks.

LAURA: That's why I don't drink.

MATT: In the Shadowshire. "Well, if you're looking for a place to say, I have a recommendation. I can go ahead and lead you to the Gallimaufry. It is the more rowdy district. Seems to be a little more your style. There is The Dim's Inn. We'll get you a room there.

MARISHA: Dim's Inn?

MATT: "The Dim's Inn."

TRAVIS: The Galamari or the Agalamari?

MATT and TRAVIS: Gallimaufry.

LIAM: Gallimaufry is the place or the district?

MATT: It's the district.

TALIESIN: Might be looking for a blacksmith at some point, too, if you have a recommendation for someone who's extremely skilled, someone who you would be impressed by.

MATT: "Don't do much in blacksmithing, not my specialty." His hand rises out of the curtains that is his cloak and his hand passes. These trails of somewhat translucent, gray energy drifts off his fingertips for a second and float there before dissipating.

TALIESIN: Seemed a man of taste, I just thought I'd ask.

TRAVIS: Are there like six kobolds inside of his fucking robes?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Natural one!

MATT: Like 17 kobolds.

TRAVIS: (screaming)

MATT: It's following you, Fjord. "We'll see what we can do, but for now, let's go over to--"

SAM: Will we be disturbed there at the inn for being outsiders or anything?

MATT: "Not with those medallions. I recommend not losing them."

SAM: I won't.

MATT: "Good. Come."

LAURA: I like this guy.

SAM: I don't know about this guy.

LAURA: I think he's pretty cool.

TALIESIN: I kind of like him.

MATT: You follow him through the Shadowshire, back to the stairs ascending.

LIAM: Small thing, as everyone's walking, Caleb sidles up next to Nott, places a hand on her shoulder and gives it a squeeze and then walks off and falls in by Beauregard and keeps walking.

MATT: Okay. Ascending the wide, spiral stairs back to the surface of Rosohna, Ghor Dranas. We're going to take a break.

LAURA: Woo!

TRAVIS: Wow, wow, wow.

SAM: Man.

LIAM: (creepy voice) Well, Fjord, I hear you like kobolds.

SAM: I love you, Travis, but three months at sea, two weeks in Ghor Dranas, my storyline completed, just a clean arc, just a clean arc, yours is just what?

TRAVIS: Can't help you if you have a thin storyline.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Wow.

LAURA: You guys haven't tried to bone yet. You don't know.

SAM: Me and Travis? We've tried a lot.

LAURA: Oh, okay.

(laughter)

SAM: Didn't work. Square peg and round hole.

MATT: On that note.

LIAM: We kept pushing them together, but nothing happened.

TRAVIS: You can't force it.

LAURA and TALIESIN: Wow.

MATT: We're going to go and take a break here for a number of minutes. In the meantime, we do have our giveaway. Our friends at Wyrmwood are giving away another one of their Kickstarter sets of their fantastic, these are monkeywood tabletop tiles. This is the actual [inaudible]. You can check out Wyrmwood's Kickstarter for these right now to pick up your own set. They're awesome, they magnetize together and they create all these cool elements. Like there's a dice jail, there's a spell slot coordinator, which you use magnets to pull it out, which is awesome.

LAURA: You can say like I want to let Laura have them and then--

MATT: Laura can't have them, they're for you. Nevertheless, we'll have a winner back for that shortly. Tonight's word is alliances, plural. Alliances. Go ahead and put that once into our Twitch chat; more than once and you'll be disqualified. Once again, for people in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Quebec, because of dumb laws but we'll be back here shortly, we'll see you in a minute.

Break[]

[upbeat music] ♪ You've got the perfect warlock ♪ ♪ Her weapons and supplies ♪ ♪ But you need a place to track your stuff ♪ ♪ 'Cause you're so disorganized ♪ ♪ You click open the webpage ♪ ♪ You heard about a Critical Role ♪ ♪ And now you're ready to kick some butt ♪ ♪ In a mineshaft full of gnolls ♪ ♪ It's D&D;, D&D; ♪ ♪ D&D; Beyond, yeah, D&D;, D&D; ♪ ♪ D&D; Beyond ♪ ♪ You've got your stats, you've got your swords ♪ ♪ And you've got your invisible wand ♪ ♪ It's D&D;, D&D; ♪ ♪ D&D; ♪ ♪ D&D; Beyond ♪ (dramatic music) DANI: (sighs) I just want to watch my Critical Role. TALIESIN: For your consideration, this is the face of a Critter who's craving their Critical Role content. But for this sanctimonious shipper, time misled them like a trip to the Feywild. They now have come face to face with existential dread, a fear of sardonic spoilers. Let us lead them across the bridge into a realm of bright shadows where, even if one misses the live viewing of their favorite program, they can still watch it on demand, if they bear the mark of a Twitch subscription to the channel. That mark, a mysterious sigil of emoticons made by the sage Arsequeef, in this land of shadow known as the Twitch subscription zone no shipper, fanfic-er, or please name my kitten litter Critter has to feel like a bitter fritter. And so ends another meandering digression, a complicated parody promo down an indistinct highway to the region we call the Twitch subscription zone. Subscribe. Twitch Prime subscribe. Gift subscribe. Subscribe. You should check to see if you've left the oven on. TRAVIS: Last time on Yee-haw Game Ranch. BRIAN: This is one of our favorite games. LIAM: "Did someone say games?!" BRIAN: We heard there's a lot more critters that need names so we actually got you one. LIAM: "Oh, yeah? "Well, what the hell is it?" TRAVIS: (wheezing) And the one janky leg. LIAM: "Now, listen, I feel harping on my injuries "is beyond the pale, son." BRIAN: No, we're not-- the name that was chosen for you by everyone was-- LIAM: "And what the hell is it?" BRIANL It was Tet'Nus Terry. LIAM: "Well, fuck! "I hate it." TRAVIS: Yeah, yep. BRIAN: That's actually a pretty good-- LIAM: "Now listen up!" TRAVIS: Oh boy. LIAM: "This place ain't all what it seems. "It ain't all just blasting your six shooters "and eating processed cheese bits. "This place is a vessel." BRIAN: A vessel? A vessel to what? LIAM: "Shut up, string bean." TRAVIS: (laughs) LIAM: "I was talking to the big one. "The Game Ranch is like a mill "and you boys need to start turning the wheel. "Now, how you slackjaws do that is by playing games." TRAVIS: It's next level. LIAM: "You keep doing that, big 'un, "and your hootin' and hollerin'll charge it up "for the big day." BRIAN: Wait, the big day? Did he say the big day? Is that the prophecy that Ruby was talking about? (laughter) LIAM: "She told you about it, huh? "Well, that's for her to explain. "Now get to playing those games, boys, "and start healing the rift. "The gameverse is dependent on you!" BRIAN: The rift? BRIAN and TRAVIS: The gameverse? BRIAN: Dude, which wood are you in, bro? TRAVIS: (screaming) BRIAN: How, how? TRAVIS: Yee-haw! BRIAN: I hit you with the knife at that last second. I got kill of the game, though, let's see what this is. TRAVIS: Okay, let's watch it. BRIAN: Oh, yeah, this was beautiful. A clinic, a clinic. TRAVIS: In the foot! BRIAN: That wasn't in the foot! TRAVIS: Where was it? BRIAN: It was in his balls. You would know if you had any, if you weren't synthetic. TRAVIS: Those are some long balls, my friend. Oh, I was so close. BRIAN: I was really close. TRAVIS: No, you weren't. BRIAN: Okay, here we go. Ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds, ten seconds! Dude, Max sleeps on this carpet, it's disgusting. Oh, you're still alive? (screaming) You motherfucker! Where are you? Hold still! TRAVIS: Oh my god! (laughter) TRAVIS: (screaming) [light music] MARISHA: Like that? [light music] [dramatic music] ♪ 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 ♪ ♪ Critical Role, roll the dice ♪ ♪ Critical Role, roll the dice ♪ SAM: I'm Sam Riegel, I am a cast member of Critical Role and I wrote the theme song for the Legend of Vox Machina Animated Series. TRAVIS: Actually, the way that happened was me asking Sam, "Hey, you made that jingle "for D&D; Beyond that was so incredible. "Do you have any other stuff flying around you brain?" And he sent me back an a capella version of the song that he recorded one night at 11:30 after his kids went to bed and it blew my mind. SAM (VO): Okay, here's an idea. Very basic. The beat is like (vocalizing). There will be drums (vocalizing). The vocals are something like: ♪ The adventure begins, they were always beside you ♪ SAM: Taking my initial demo and turning it into a really cool song, which it is, it took a while, actually. We needed real instruments because the first demo was just me singing at an iPhone, so we turned to our friend Jason Charles Miller who did the original composition of the original theme song. JASON: Well, it's funny because Sam called me and he said, "Hey, I took your theme and "I wrote lyrics to it and I put a melody over top of it." I was like, "Okay, that's interesting, let me hear this," and he sent me this tape of him going, "Roll, roll, critical, critical," like just him, all a capella over top of it. When I heard it, I said "Okay, cool, "then we can add this here and we can do that there "and we can put the original melody back in here." Then we had fun going back and forth with it. SAM: Then we had even more players play on it, so we got a violinist named Colm McGuinness-- I'm sure I'm saying that wrong-- to do violins for it. We did some more drum work. We got my brother-in-law, Peter Habib of the producing duo Mr. Fantastic. They put in some thumping drums and we kept pinging the song around to all of these creators. TRAVIS: Then when it came time to do vocals, we had a bunch of different passes and we were like, you know what, we really need the ladies on this. It would sound incredible if Ashley and Laura would sing on it. LAURA: Travis was the one that actually asked me if I would be down to sing it and I, of course, was very, very nervous. But, you know, it was fun and I only got a little awkward when I was in the booth, no big deal because Travis was sitting right there. I can look like an idiot in front of Sam, but for some reason, I get really uncomfortable if Travis is there, too. TRAVIS: We sent a feeler out to our fantastic friends over at Outloud Audio, the amazing Mark Kondracki was kind enough to give us some studio time to let us record that, one of the bigger spaces. I think Ronin was just born, so Laura was in there holding a little baby Ronin while she was laying down those sick vocals on the song. LAURA: I don't even remember how old he was. I think he was only like, I want to say two months old, maybe, when we were recording it. I think he was younger. He started crying when we were recording it. SAM: We only had the studio for an hour and it worked out that Laura had to feed her baby while she was singing the song. LAURA: What's weird is I think those were the takes that we ended up using for the song because for some reason, focusing on that made it way more comfortable to actually do the singing. SAM: I don't know if any suckling sounds made it onto the track. That will be cut. Anyway. LAURA: When we were recording it, Sam kept going "More rock and roll, more rock and roll! "Go as over the top as you can sing!" Because I guess I'm used to singing like nicer sounding, sweeter sounding, and Sam wanted it like, "Ugh, I want grit!" Any takes we did like that, those were the ones they used. It was fun. SAM: Then when Ashley recorded, she came over to my house, actually, which was a much smaller booth, and she laid down her vocals late at night, after she had been doing a video game job all day, I think. She must have been exhausted but she didn't seem like it because she just killed her side of the vocals as well. I recorded her and lickety split, we were done. TRAVIS: Yeah, Sam, you know, we were talking about the rolls and the criticals, he was like, "Hey, man, I pitched my voice down. "You got a deep voice, do you want to go in and do it?" I was like, "No, I love it the way it is." He was like, "Nah, come on, let's really go in there." So my contribution to the piece was actually going into the booth and bouncing as I did it and going, "Roll! "Critical, roll!" Trying to sound as tough and determined as I could even though I could see all of their laughing faces as I bounced up and down like a little baby. SAM: I was going for a little bit of a retro vibe for the lyrics. I knew that one of the motifs we were going to try to do was just the chance of it all, like taking a chance, putting the fate in your own hands, like deciding your fate. That's a cool element of our game. Critical Role is just like you don't know what's going to happen, you don't know where the story's going to lead, so you just have to go for it. LAURA: I think the thing that sticks out the most is the roll the dice part of it because Vex was always one to take chances. But, I don't know. "Daggers and cunning" is pretty fricking cool that we took it there. Just that little change, that made me pretty happy. TRAVIS: I think the lyrics for Your Turn To Roll embody really, sort of the spirit of our early home game, which is like, a bunch of friends getting together, being nerdy as hell, rolling some dice, not really caring what comes out of your mouth or who's watching or what other people think of you. You're going to take on brave, courageous personas, try and right wrongs, or maybe cause wrongs depending on what your character is and just jumping into that adventure and letting yourself go and when the time comes, roll the dice and see what happens. It's an adventuring party for a reason, right? [dramatic music] [dramatic music]

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back everyone. Well done, Laura! First and foremost, we have our winner of the giveaway. The winner of the Wyrmwood monkeywood tabletop tiles from their Kickstarter is SlyEladrin. (cheering) SlyEladrin, congratulations. It would be, yeah, from what court, though? So yes-- or I should say what season. You go ahead and we'll get that sent out to you ASAP, congratulations. Secondly, we found out during the break that somehow, I don't know, I can't be surprised anymore, you guys pushed through the Kickstarter to the 8.8 million stretch goal during the first half of the game tonight. So here's some motherfucking cheers, guys!

MARISHA: To Critters!

LIAM: To critters, to you guys, 100%!

MATT: This unfathomably incredible community of wonderful, supportive, positive, creative, force for good that exists in this world. We are so thankful and grateful that we're even but a small nugget in the core of this and you guys take this and carry that positivity in the world and have supported this and us to a degree that we could never, ever have ever expected and we'll continue to do our best to pay that forward in all ways we can. This show is going to be incredible and we're making it so incredible for you guys. Thank you so much.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

SAM: L'Chaim.

LIAM: Has there ever been a bigger passion project? No.

TRAVIS: (coughing) That's good champagne.

MARISHA: Did you get a good rip?

TRAVIS: In my lungs.

(laughter)

LIAM: Thank you.

MATT: Holy shit, thank you, guys.

LAURA: Eyes, eyes, eyes.

ALL: Eyes, eyes, eyes.

SAM: That's going to look so creepy.

LIAM: Does the rest of the world know that that's a thing or is it just us?

TRAVIS: You've got to make eye contact when you cheers.

TALIESIN: Yeah, it's a thing.

LIAM: It is not, but we totally do it in Critical Role Land.

MATT: Champagne's weird.

LAURA: Oh my god, it's so good.

LIAM: Sure is.

MATT: So.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: (yelling)

TALIESIN: Oh, wow.

MARISHA: Oh my god, back in the game. Head back in the game.

TRAVIS: Making cartoons, you guys.

MATT: I know!

LAURA: Oh my god, though, like, what?

MATT: All that's left, everything this point just goes towards making the animation better, to the animation team, the developer, the people that are making this project. Yeah. It's going to be good.

TALIESIN: Just going to be great.

MATT: Oh, god, all right, so, back in. So. Having been led out of the Shadowshire, you are brought through the area known as the Firmaments. It is a district, similarly beautiful to the area around the Lucid Bastion. Less religious-based architecture. The geometry that was inherent around elements of the Lucid Bastion and the surrounding buildings of worship seems to continue on somewhat into the Firmaments, but here there seems to be a lot more locations for restful reading. You can see small, lightless gardens with elements of grass that seems to not require daylight to subsist. These beautiful little nooks where you can see people of the drow populace sitting and reading and paying strange attention to you. Once again, it's hard not to draw attention when you guys pass by with one of the members of Den Thelyss. As you're brought through, you can see these beautiful sculptures, these spire-like pointed towers that curve towards the top. You don't know if they're just art pieces or if there's a specific intent to their construction but there's one every two blocks or so throughout this district. At one point, the Shadowhand stops and points at the left to this beautiful series of structures with two towers, not terribly tall. You're used to seeing elements of the Soltryce Academy, which definitely-- (Sam pulls out the bigger flask) Oh, god, that's right, we're there now.

TRAVIS: That thing is bigger than my wife.

SAM: It's filled with yummy water.

TRAVIS: Is it-- oh god. Oh my god. Okay, pace yourself.

TALIESIN: You can put messages on the bottom of that now. You actually have more space for--

SAM: There's entire ice cubes in here.

(laughter)

MATT: Oh, man. That's terrifying and the water spill gave me a William Wallace thing going on, so I'll take that.

TRAVIS: Oh yeah, on half your face!

MATT: You can take our lives.

SAM: That's strong water.

MATT: The Shadowhand points off to the structure. You can see the two towers that bookend the two sides of it, but it's a series of adjoining hallways that are somewhat rounded on the top, it's like a semi-cylindrical shape, but the hall itself meets to the bottom and they are adjoined to all. It looks like a really elaborate college campus series of connecting halls and central buildings that are domed.

LAURA: Are there drow playing hacky sack?

MATT: Yeah. It's Rush out there right now.

SAM: They're putting out fliers for their acapella auditions.

LIAM: Goddamn it! I was waiting my turn and you jumped on it.

MATT: You can see through a lot of the beautiful, tall, glass windows that also come to the rounded tops, a glow from the inside, a warm, yellow and orange flicker. The Shadowhand points and goes, "If you remember one of the things that was spoken of, the Marble Tomes Conservatory. That would be where you would find the professor, should you be interested in looking for one avenue of income or questioning."

LIAM: Appreciated.

MATT: "Of course. This way." Pressing on through the Firmaments, you come to the next wall, the next large, 15-foot barrier that stands between each of these various sects. It's an outward onion-layer type layout, from best you can tell. More circular towards the center and a little more oblong and strange shape as it progresses outward and the districts get wider and wider. As you come towards the base of the hill looking out, you get a better view. There's what you now figure is the Gallimaufry, which is the one you're going into. There's one beyond that which looks a little more clustered, you see a series of buildings that look built upon each other in a way that has not a lot of rhyme and reason to it. However, being to Asarius and you having your experience with goblin villages, you do see elements here where it looks like there are clusters of neighborhoods that include a lot of the non-drow folk that have been brought into the Dynasty as well. Nowhere near as numerous as Asarius, but you see elements that lead you to believe kind of the further out you go, the more diverse peoples you'll find mixing in with the township.

SAM: Does it seem, from the general presentation of those areas, that those are of a lesser quality of life?

MATT: You're not close enough to see. You're just seeing the cusp and this is still a ways out. Because you're coming down the end of this gradual grade of the large hill that the center of the city's built upon, you can just make out those aspects to catch your eye. Beyond that, it's dark. Like the lanterns just stop. Now that you're getting low, and a little bit of the elements of whether, be fake or not, you do not see a moon in the sky, but there is a slight rim of false moonlight that is projected upon elements of the distant stone shapes and you can see on the horizon, in that dark space, jagged shapes. Whether they be broken ruins or abandoned constructs, you cannot see, but they appear to be large and definitely devoid of light. Nevertheless, you pass through that barrier wall, through an arched door, but this one comes to more of a point, a zenith point towards the top, walking through into the Gallimaufry, as it's introduced to you by the Shadowhand. Already, you can hear music, but strange, mixing elements. Like 3rd Street Promenade, where you have four or five styles all hitting at once in that central thoroughfare and it becomes a jumble. You can hear drumbeats, but beats that conflict from different edges that end up making this weird, unhappy mixture.

TALIESIN: Unhappy mixture.

MATT: You can hear some reed instruments, though they're kind of off. As you know, goblins tend to prefer percussion and very loud, discordant reeds. There's definitely elements of that there.

SAM: Drum and bass.

TALIESIN: EDM.

MATT: Goblins more of a drum and bass thing. Drow's more EDM, I think. Trance.

LIAM: Especially here.

MATT: You step into the new district, the familiar drow buildings and architecture continue, but you begin to see more classic structures, more of the familiar inn buildings, the more familiar classic, imperial design, but a makeshift variation of it, whether it be different type of materials that were made to build it or it was a standard, cultural design outside of what the drow brought to what is now Rosohna. You continue forward and, still, a mostly drow populous, but you begin to see the errant bugbear, coming in pairs or groups. You can see carts being wheeled through the streets, commerce comes into play here. Previously, you had not really seen much sign of any sort of shops or buildings when it came to the Firmament or near the Bastion, but here you begin to see a bustling center of society and civilization here in the capital. There are all sorts of strange smells: very pungent fish and seafood type scents, which is unique. You didn't know there was a sea nearby, but, apparently, there is a seafood source. You can smell cooked meats and things like steamed vegetables, but the smell has more of a rancid pungence to it. You would recognize elements of it. A lot of these are subterranean root-based vegetables, tubers and things like that, that in this region, when steamed and baked, give off a little more of a unique smell. It's not pleasant to you, most of you, at least, but it is food and you're finding yourselves a little hungry.

TALIESIN: I like a good yam.

MATT: You do see strings of these green lanterns, strung from edge-to-edge. They're smaller and the light is not quite as intense, they're more there for decor. There's a generally more jovial and celebratory feel to this than the very stoic and in some ways faith-based streets you've walked since you left the Bastion. Following the Shadowhand as he beelines you around the corner, you see a large, three-story structure made of that similar, purple-ish, in some ways brown, depending on how the light hits it, wood that you saw the outskirts of Asarius' main walls constructed from. Whatever wood seems to be used in this area is predominantly this color. You see it in a lot of the buildings and constructs that start to go into wood frames around the stonework and everything. Purple and a deep maroon seems to be a color that comes up often here, in the use of wood. Approaching, you see a sign that hangs from the outside. It has three different titles in it. Any of you speak Undercommon?

TALIESIN: No.

MATT: So you do not recognize one element. There is a Common phrasing beneath it, though, that says The Dim's Inn and you recognize this as your destination.

MARISHA: What's the third language?

MATT: The third language would be Abyssal.

TRAVIS: Yasha speaks "Abyshal." "Abyshal"?

MATT: Abyssal, yeah.

(chuckles)

MATT: Yeah, Yasha glaces up and goes, "Oh, yeah, it says The Dim's Inn."

LIAM: We found the Rosetta Stone.

MATT: This is the one, guys. From the outside, you could already hear the loud chatter. As you enter, it's not a large entrance by any means. It's separated in the clerk's desk on the side that is well-made and well-polished and, actually, of all the wood you've seen, this is probably wood that's been imported abroad elsewhere because this is a standard, dark mahogany, versus the rest of the interior that contains that maroon color towards it. You see maybe seven tables, of which half of them are currently in use. There are all manner of worker drow that seem to be in standard, everyday clothing, as opposed to the armored and regal figures that you seem to have been interacting with primarily since you came here. As well as one very, very, very drunk ogre sitting at a table playing cards with two other drow who are getting predominantly more and more frustrated with him, as he's loud and boisterous and slamming the table and dropping cards and picking them up. Apparently, they're making a lot of money off of him because they're not causing much of a stir and you see them taking hand after hand. Over by the clerk's counter, you see a very well-groomed male dark elf. Has a pencil-white mustache, goes across the very essence of John Waters.

LIAM: Drow John Waters! I like it.

MATT: His eyes, his irises are a very light, yellow-orange color around the pupil, and his short white hair is slicked. Not quite a comb over, but like it's parted on one side and pulled over.

TALIESIN: John Waters, it's just John Waters, please.

MATT: Kind of!

TALIESIN: Thank you. That's all I want.

MARISHA: I'm just writing down "drow John Waters."

TALIESIN: Drow Waters.

MATT: Drow Waters, there you go. Looking in your direction as you enter.

MARISHA: I'm going to do my subversive hood side, by the way. Well, I would have done that walking through.

MATT: As you enter, he's in the process of reading through and double checking two of his ledgers and glances over, "Um," and sees the Shadowhand and goes, "Oh, well, this is a surprise. What draws the Shadowhand to our very humble place of business?" The Shadowhand goes, "Yes, we have friends of the Bright Queen who are staying." You guys show off your emblems.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

MATT: "They are to stay, for the time being, at the Dynasty's dime."

TRAVIS: Shit.

MARISHA: Business expense.

MATT: "For the time being. Until they decide what their intent is based on the Queen's last request. Take care of them and should you need anything, well, we'll know," and he turns and leaves.

SAM: He's leaving?

MATT: He turns to leave, yeah.

SAM: Excuse me.

MATT: Stops.

SAM: Essek? I know that, we trust that you won't, that we're not being watched at all times, but is an eye being kept out for our general movements or actions or do we...?

MATT: "What do you think?"

SAM: A little bit?

MATT: "Maybe."

SAM: Okay. Great, just wanted to know.

MATT: "Of course."

TRAVIS: Could I ask, is there anywhere we are not allowed to go?

MATT: "I would recommend not going into the Ghostlands. That would end poorly."

MARISHA: The Ghostlands?

TRAVIS: Normally, I have an aversion to something named like that, but good point.

MATT: "Yes. That's beyond the walls of the Corona District. It's the outside of the city."

LAURA: Is that the dark stuff?

MATT: "There's no light there, initially. That's where many of the scars of the Calamity still remain."

MARISHA: Whoa!

MATT: "The city expands as best as we can, or at least, as best as they can. I have no interest in the expansion, but as more people come to our city, there needs to be room, and there's nowhere else to go but out, so. Brave folks looking for homes fight against the darkness to find their homesteads. Such will is commendable."

LIAM: Excuse me, what is the best way to reach you if we feel the need to?

MATT: "Well, you've been speaking with your friend with certain means, I think perhaps you have such ways of talking to me should you require my aid."

LAURA: I can send you a message any time you want.

MATT: "Good. I look forward to it. Rest well." He just turns and exits.

TRAVIS: Floats away.

MATT: You can make a perception check.

LAURA: Swish, swish the cloak.

SAM: 14 feet.

TRAVIS: Seven kobolds.

TALIESIN: He's got a hoverboard.

TRAVIS: 10.

TALIESIN: He just leans.

TRAVIS: 14.

MATT: 14?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah, he's not hiding it. You can see his footfalls. He's not floating through the city, but he walks with such a grace and a very direct gait that there is no bobbing, he just seems to glide.

TRAVIS: It's that Tomb of the Unknown Soldier glide, man, they just.

MATT: Yeah, straight up.

LIAM: Fosse.

TALIESIN: It's a-- what are they called?

LIAM: Oh, he's on a Segway.

TALIESIN: He's on a Segway.

MATT: That's why he keeps the cloak around it.

LIAM: "Well, I'll leave you now." (whooshing)

MATT: Hey, man. Enchantments get weird when money's involved.

SAM: Can I just say, walking through the city to get here: what a fucking great DM we have. I mean, come on. Amazing.

TALIESIN: Your character will be the next to die.

MATT: Yeah. Yeza's still holding your hand and looks over towards you. "Can we get somewhere to eat?"

TALIESIN: Food and how many rooms?

TRAVIS: Well, we have some shirts in the Bag of Holding if we wanted to keep up the diet. No?

TALIESIN: Let's get a proper meal. How many rooms did we get, out of curiosity?

MATT: "Well, how many do you need, actually, is my question for you. What are your names, I need to put something down. A name, something."

TRAVIS: I'm Fjord.

MATT: "Fjord, all right, the party of Fjord."

TRAVIS and LAURA: Yep.

MATT: "I will be ensuring payments come and are noted as such. All right, how many rooms do you require?"

TALIESIN: Three would be--

SAM: Four.

MATT: "Four rooms, very well."

LAURA: They definitely need one with a heart-shaped bed and stuff.

TRAVIS: Like a corner suite.

LAURA: There's going to be lots of stuff happening in there.

TRAVIS: Hope your walls are made of concrete.

MATT: "Delightful. Food?"

LAURA: Should probably, oh, wait. Would you want to take a bath, though?

SAM: He would.

LAURA: But would you, though?

SAM: He would.

TRAVIS: A bucket of ice. Some ibuprofen.

MATT: "Well, I will be happy to do this. The deal did not mention covering meals, so those you'd have to pay for, unfortunately."

SAM: Like a cruise?

TRAVIS: Boy, I would hate to hear the Bright Queen was upset to hear that her special guests were not treated to every luxury you have.

(laughter)

LIAM: I believe the words--

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

LIAM: Hold on, Fjord, I believe the word she used was "Heroes of the Dynasty."

TRAVIS: You heard it. 23.

MATT: He goes, "Oh, well, we could comp you a simple meal and maybe a bottle of wine. Wonderful. Four rooms, four rooms, all right. We'll arrange that for you now." Passes out keys to you guys. Meals are provided, a fine meal of very unique meat. It looks tough, but like a very well-cooked venison, it just falls apart in the mouth.

TALIESIN: I'll have a side salad.

MATT: There you go.

TALIESIN: Everybody has side salad.

TRAVIS: Excellent iceberg lettuce.

MATT: Another interesting thing of note. In this tavern, if you request, well, the food that's given to you and based on your persuasion check, you notice the meals that are being passed around to folks here are generally bland, both in color and texture. The meals you get are very nice and for all the vegetation and the quality of produce that you've come across since arriving in Xhorhas, there are actual fine vegetables. Carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, like all these things that you have not seen since you came here that are well-kept and fresh.

TALIESIN: Interesting.

LIAM: Lettuce.

LAURA: Lettuce, cauliflower.

MATT: Your meals are presented, Yeza scarfs himself to the near point of getting sick, but seems to be making up for quite some time without a fine meal.

MARISHA: Anyone paying attention to us?

MATT: Everyone in the room is paying attention to you guys. They're all talking amongst themselves, but every time you glance around to look, there's always some people avert their gaze and go back to their conversation, trying to play it off like they weren't paying attention, but you're definitely not the usuals here in the Dim's Inn.

LIAM: Yeah, out of curiosity, on that entire walk, well, I'm not going to say sure, but we probably didn't see any humans, did we see a tiefling, a half-orc?

MATT: You did see, nowhere near as numerous, you crossed a few orcs and half-orcs, you saw in here, in the Gallimaufry. You managed to see maybe three tieflings at a distance, all red-skinned and they seem to be part of the general populace. Humans, you haven't come across one yet. If you recall from Yasha saying where she came from and about her upbringing, most of them didn't have interest going this far north of Xhorhas. So far, you have not seen any. You definitely strike a unique, as a troop, you're colorful. As a troop with two humans and three human-looking figures, definitely catching some attention.

MARISHA: Is anyone noteworthy looking? Anyone that's not the average worker type?

TRAVIS: Is anyone aiming a crossbow at us?

LIAM: Is there anybody I could punch out?

MATT: The drunk ogre that's in the middle of the card game is being less boisterous and looking at his cards and then glancing up and kind of (snorting). The whole room is paying attention to you guys. You feel like the crawling of warmth at the back of your neck of unwanting to be the center of attention but no way to escape it. Nevertheless, your meal is fine and that doesn't go unnoticed either from the rest of the patrons. The scale of dinner you've been provided and are enjoying definitely, there is a disparate difference.

TRAVIS: Can I get up and head over to the barkeep real quick and say: Hey, quick question. They mentioned a Ghostlands in the Corona District?

MATT: Going to the barkeep or are you going to the tavern owner?

TRAVIS: The tavern-- no, the barkeep.

MATT: Okay, the barkeep you go up to, this is another drow, this one's older, a little portlier, has a heavy scar that goes from the ear to the side of the mouth, and looks a little more rough and tumble than some of the more noble figures that you've been rubbing shoulders with since you came. Glances up to you. You can see his receding widow's peak and hair that's tucked past the ears that falls just past the shoulders. The chin has a heavy cleft in the middle there. Looks up to you. "Right, can I help you?"

TRAVIS: Nice place you have here. Thank you for taking care of us while we're here. We heard of a place called the Ghostlands out by the Corona District. We're new, obviously.

MATT: "Gathered as much. The Ghostlands, that is beyond the city. Why do you want to know?"

TRAVIS: Just want to make sure it's real far away.

MATT: "I mean, it's maybe an hour-and-a-half walk."

TRAVIS: That sounds great. People head out there often, the brave looking for place to settle down, we heard?

MATT: "Or the stupid, yeah."

TRAVIS: They're stupid.

MATT: "The laws, as they are, if you don't have land here, you can take it."

TRAVIS: Out there?

MATT: "If you want to set up a home and you want to, essentially, squat and it becomes yours. The downside, you live in the Ghostlands. They've only extended the outer wall once, that was 80 years ago."

TRAVIS: A lot of people come back from the Ghostlands?

MATT: "Most of them. Meaning those who return, most of them have come back."

TRAVIS: Right. Great, that was all, thank you. We are not going out by the Corona District unless we absolutely have to. He said everybody who goes out there dies.

MARISHA: Mm, okay.

TRAVIS: I mean, it's called the Ghostlands. I don't want to be a ghost.

LAURA: I didn't want to go out there anyway, Fjord.

SAM: They said not to go there.

LAURA: Why would we want to go out there?

TRAVIS: I just figured everybody's natural curiosity was piqued.

TALIESIN: No, not really.

LIAM: On that note, maybe we should mull over this evening what it is we want to do and perhaps retire all of us to one of our rooms to discuss some things.

TRAVIS: Yes.

LIAM: Instead of improvising, which we're good at, but doesn't always lead to the best results, not always.

TRAVIS: Everybody get enough to eat?

LAURA: Yeah. I'm going to shove a bunch of stuff in my bag.

TRAVIS: Even though it's nighttime out.

LAURA: Do you guys have dessert?

MATT: You saying this to the tavern owner?

LAURA: Uh-huh.

MATT: "There is dessert if dessert is what you would like. What kind of dessert would you like?"

LAURA: What do you have?

MATT: "We have puddings, we have pastries, we have fruits."

TALIESIN: What's local?

LAURA: What's local?

LIAM: Local specialty.

LAURA: Also the pastries, though, as well.

MATT: "All right, pastries can be done. Local specialty, I'll be right back." He leaves for a bit.

TALIESIN: Always want to eat local.

MATT: Comes back with three small bowls on little platters, set them down with a series of spoons against them and each of them, it looks to be like a parfait. The fruit is a very watery, like a--

MARISHA: Lychee?

SAM: Mousse?

MATT: I was thinking about the fruit that always comes in fruit bowls that nobody eats because it's the worst.

TRAVIS: Acai?

SAM: Durian?

MATT: No, the other lope.

TRAVIS: Cantaloupe?

LAURA: Melon, no.

MARISHA: Honeydew.

MATT: Honeydew, thank you. Apologies to those who love honeydew; it drives me nuts.

LIAM: In a shitty fruit bowl it sucks, but if you cut open a honeydew right there, it's delicious.

MATT: Right, and that's fine.

TRAVIS: 80% honeydew, maybe some pineapple.

MARISHA: It is like the packing peanuts of fruit, though.

MATT: Anyway, it looks like honeydew. It's a very watery, melon-like substance that's on the edges of it, you can see the light come through. It looks very soft and beneath that, there is a cream pudding type, but it's a dull, like a tan coloration to it. It does not look appetizing compared to the glorious, colorful sweets and treats that you're used to. The Menagerie Coast is largely known for its decadent desserts and this is a little disappointing to be the local special.

TALIESIN: It's weird and bland. I'm into it, I'm going to take a bite.

MATT: Okay. It's surprisingly tasty. It doesn't blow your mind by any means, but it is sweet, it has some unique textures. The melon tends to burst in your mouth, similar to those little mochi balls, whatever it is.

TALIESIN: I love those. I know the ones you're talking about, yeah.

MATT: Like a Gusher.

LIAM: What food would blow Caduceus' mind?

TALIESIN: The impossible burger.

(laughter)

MATT: It's not bad.

TALIESIN: That was interesting.

LAURA: Where's the whipped cream and stuff, though, for it and stuff?

MATT: He's already walked away.

LAURA: (groans)

MATT: He literally dropped and left. He's like, "Here you go, bye!"

LAURA: He brought a plate of pastries, though, too, right?

MATT: He comes back with pastries thereafter. They look like standard pastries.

LAURA: Sweet, I put them all in my bag.

MATT: Okay, you load up on Xhorhasian pastries.

LAURA: Yeah, then I'll eat the fruit bowl thingy.

TALIESIN: Carb loading.

MATT: Yeza grabs one off the thing and you can see he's full to the point of being sick and he's like, "(groans), I may have had too much."

LAURA: Don't fill yourself up too much.

MATT: He grabs one anyway.

LAURA: You have a lot of boning ahead of you.

MATT: "What?"

SAM: No, he's fine. Just let him recuperate, it's all right. We may not get to that tonight.

TRAVIS: Yeza, if you need to use our room with facilities later, you just come knock, we'll let you in.

MATT: "Okay."

SAM: We're cool, we poop in front of each other.

TRAVIS: Oh, okay.

MATT: Now that's he finished eating, you can see Yeza now starting to look around the vicinity and see the eyes upon him because you've rarely seen humans in Xhorhas, you've definitely not seen any halflings. Yeza's now looking over the table of the people around. "Veth, there's, there's a lot of people looking at me."

SAM: Yeah, welcome to my world. It takes some getting used to being the odd person out at a place like this, but just look at me. Well, no. Just look at your food and think about good things and don't worry about them. We're stronger than them, these friends around us can defend us from anything.

MATT: "What can you guys do?"

SAM: Oh, they have all sorts of tricks.

LAURA: I use Thaumaturgy to open all the windows.

MATT: (crashing) All the doors, all the windows slam open. Wind whooshes through. Some of the lanterns flicker, die out. Everyone in the room goes like (gasping).

LAURA: Yeah!

TALIESIN: I'm going to close them all.

MATT: (crashing) They all close rapidly. The lanterns, one of them glows back up more, the other one's completely out.

TALIESIN: Come on, there, yeah, there we go.

LAURA: Then everyone, there's this awkward pause afterward, and they're all looking at Jester and then looking at Caduceus.

TALIESIN: Sorry, sorry.

MATT: Go back and turn their backs to the table and pretend like nothing happened.

LIAM: Heroes of the Empire, heroes.

MARISHA: Okay, let's not, let's not.

LAURA: We're not Heroes of the Empire; we're Heroes of the Dynasty. Don't want to be Heroes of the Empire here.

LIAM: Both, it's both.

SAM: Well! They're pretty strong, they'll take care of us. They've taken care of me this whole time.

MATT: "Okay."

LIAM: What Veth says is true, but you would be surprised at what your wife can do now.

MATT: "Well, she's always surprised with what she can do."

SAM: It's been a long road to get here and I've learned a couple tricks from my friends.

MATT: "She's a very good assistant."

MARISHA: Assistant?

SAM: Yeah, no, he's right.

LIAM: She's quick.

MATT: "Yeah, no, she picks things up very fast."

LIAM: That is true, sorry.

TALIESIN: Wow.

TRAVIS: Perhaps we should retire upstairs where we can speak a little bit more. I'll step back from the table and walk like I know where the stairs are.

MATT: Takes you a moment, but you eventually find the stairs. Only half loop, it wasn't too embarrassing. You guys follow suit?

LIAM: Yeah, we're all going.

LAURA: -- that they get to their room okay, you know, because the halfling and everything.

SAM: Are we all going to go to the same room?

TRAVIS: All in the same room.

LIAM: We need to discuss.

MATT: Okay. You all make your way, Yasha forming the rear. As you set up, Yasha turns to the rest of the room and you watch this dark shadow begin to build off of her shoulders and she goes (huffs). One of the nearby drow goes-- She turns around and follows you back up the steps. You find your rooms as they were described to you. There are four of them, but there's a space, there's three and there's another room and then the fourth, final one, as requested, a corner room. So yes, you can enter one of those rooms easy enough and it's a little cramped. It isn't a lot of space for eight people, though two smaller of the group, but you have a room, the door is closed. It's decently furnished for a standard inn. It's better than what you're used to in Felderwin, of course, but the establishment isn't quite top end. In Zadash, it's no Pillow Trove, if you will, but it's nice, it's not too bad.

LIAM: Caduceus, you are the tallest of the group, maybe you would because we have an extra room, maybe you'd take one for yourself.

TALIESIN: I can do that.

LAURA: I though that they were going to take the room.

LIAM: There's four rooms, so-- One, two, three, four.

TALIESIN: I'll share with Yasha since we're both tall. Or, yeah. Yeah, that works fine for me.

MARISHA: Okay, do people, do we want to drop our shit and meet in your guys' room in like five?

TALIESIN: That'll do.

MARISHA: Team meeting in five?

TRAVIS: Yep.

LAURA: Does that give you guys enough time?

SAM: Jes, we can wait a few more minutes.

TRAVIS: You need a few more minutes, ten minutes?

SAM: No, no, five's fine, we're fine, don't worry.

TRAVIS: Wow, that is efficient.

LAURA: I mean, it's really up to Yeza, it's not fully your decision yet. I mean, it's both of your decision, it's not--

MARISHA: I'm going to go pick a room and start this process.

TALIESIN: Mr. Caleb, I hate to be suspicious of our new situation, I'm not inclined to be, but if I were to want to keep tabs on people, this is how I'd do it. And I'm showing him the badge. I don't know if we have a way of--

SAM: Putting all of those badges in a box?

TALIESIN: For the moment.

TRAVIS: Or a bag.

TALIESIN: Or a box, we have a box.

MATT: You had a box.

TALIESIN: Oh and the box went with the--

MATT: The box went with the device that you found.

LAURA: Aw, I liked that lead box.

TALIESIN: Put it in the bag for any sense of conversation for now.

LIAM: We went to so much trouble to get that box.

LAURA: I know.

TALIESIN: It was a nice box.

MARISHA: We'll get a new box.

LAURA: Pick the best room for us.

MARISHA: Okay, okay, okay.

LAURA: Yeah, we run out of the room.

MARISHA: I open all the doors, look at them all, compare which one has the best sheets and the most pillows. Does one have a rug?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

MARISHA: Which one looks like the best one? Is there a newer mattress?

MATT: You're going up and testing the springiness and the thread count of the sheets.

MARISHA: Right, 16.

MATT: There are definitely two rooms that have the higher quality bedsheets. One of them is springier, it seems like it's a newer design, that'd be the third one over, that one is definitely--

MARISHA: I take that one.

LAURA: That's the one, we go with that one.

MARISHA: I say: This one's Jester's and Beau's! To the rest of the group.

MATT: Locked it in. That's my favorite use of an investigation check to date.

TALIESIN: Detect thread count.

TRAVIS: Detect thread count.

MATT: 3rd-level slot, though. You guys correspond which rooms are yours and then eventually reconvene in one of the rooms to meet.

LIAM: In the love suite.

TRAVIS: Did we also lose the tripod? The stand?

LAURA: No, that's in my bag still.

MATT: Tripod's still in there.

TRAVIS: Just checking.

SAM: Well.

LAURA: Let's meet in Caleb and Fjord's room.

SAM: Sure.

LIAM: Are they all the identical size, all four.

SAM: With slightly different variations.

MATT: Yeah, they're all comparable. The corner one's a little larger but only because it doesn't have to compete for space with adjacent.

LIAM: The couple might have gotten the suite.

LAURA: Yeah, they did. I just don't want to, you know, barge in on them when they might want some privacy.

TRAVIS: Okay, all right, they're going to have their time. Listen, so maybe we should discuss what we want to do. About what time is it supposed to be even though it doesn't look like it outside?

LIAM: Oh, well, it's--

MATT: By this time, it's late afternoon.

LIAM: Late afternoon.

TRAVIS: Excellent, so maybe we get a nice, long rest and start out tomorrow, but I'm sure there are things that people want to explore, right?

TALIESIN: I'd like to do a little shopping.

TRAVIS: Let's toss them out. You said a blacksmith earlier, right?

TALIESIN: Yeah. Keep hoping to deal with this.

TRAVIS: I'll join you with that. I'm sure you want to find the Firmament?

MARISHA: Yeah, I'd like to go to that library or the Marble Tomes.

TALIESIN: We can find another diamond. Find some healing potions.

SAM: We're supposed to visit Professor Waccoh.

MARISHA: Who's at the Marble Tomes.

LIAM: I suggest we spend a decent amount of time here.

TRAVIS: Yeah, the money is also at the Marble Tomes, right? The professor?

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: We do need another diamond also and we do need some healing potions. And we need to figure out what's to be done with our new companion.

MARISHA: Also, apparently Dairon is supposed to be here.

LAURA: Wait a minute. Caleb, you said you could send us to Nicodranas if we want to, yeah?

LIAM: I'm close. I need to do a bit of homework. Not much. I also need some paper.

SAM: More paper?

LIAM: And ink.

LAURA: Oh no.

LIAM: I need to work things out. But I always need more paper.

MARISHA: Hey, did we divvy up our cash that we got from Lady Olios?

SAM: Oh, no, we didn't. 2,000 gold split seven ways.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Yeza goes, "Wait, how much money?"

SAM: Oh, things are different now, babe. We, um, we're, we--

MARISHA: We risk our lives for ridiculous sums of gold. Also, we're pirates.

TRAVIS: 285 for everybody, there you go.

MATT: Yeza's eyes go wide, like--

SAM: Yeah. These guys have gotten me into a new line of work. Chemistry's good, baby, but killing's better.

MARISHA: "But killing is better."

MATT: "Killing?"

SAM: Only when, when it's a defense thing. We've only, in self-defense.

TALIESIN: That's patently untrue.

LIAM: You're being facetious. Adventure, you mean, yes, there has been violence on the road. We've been attacked multiple times.

TRAVIS: We are mass murderers.

MARISHA: Yeah, it's kind of true.

LIAM: That's not true.

LAURA: We're pirates, though. We are pirates.

MATT: "So you're mercenaries?"

SAM: Yes.

LIAM: That's true.

LAURA: Yes.

TALIESIN: Sometimes.

MATT: "That's actually pretty neat. Wow, my wife's a mercenary!"

SAM: Yeah, yeah.

MATT: "What have you killed?"

SAM: Oh, what was that big thing with the baby?

LIAM: The manticore.

SAM: Manticore?

MATT: "You killed a manticore?!"

TRAVIS: Yeah. Nott-- Veth killed a manticore.

SAM: Yeah, and there were some other things, too. Some gnolls.

LAURA: Yeah, lots of gnolls.

SAM: Regular ones.

MATT: "Oh, yes, the gnolls are a problem out there, yeah. We've had them become issues on the outskirts of Felderwin."

LIAM: A giant clockwork mechanized killing machine.

LAURA: We got attacked by a giant blue dragon.

SAM: What was that crazy demon thing we just fought in the last--

LAURA: I don't even know what that was, but definitely succubuses and stuff.

SAM: Don't we have some of the organs?

LAURA: Oh, we have a heart.

TRAVIS: No, they all turned to sludge.

MATT and TRAVIS: Except for the heart.

MARISHA: It's in the bag.

SAM: We should show him the heart.

MATT: "What is going on?!"

TRAVIS: Can you science that?

MARISHA: Yeah, do you know what that came from?

MATT: He goes forward and looks. "Well, it looks like the outskirts of it are heavily cauterized. There's definitely no blood flow from the standpoint there. I can't even surmise the sludgy texture. I don't even know what, wow, this is-- you guys."

SAM: It started as a hobby, but then it got more intense and now, you know.

MATT: "The farthest I've been is Zadash. I want to hear about all the places you've been."

LAURA: Oh, you guys have so much catching up to do. It's so cute.

SAM: Yeah. Hey, you know, we've been through a lot. I didn't think I would ever see you again, alive. I sort of want to, I know this is sappy or whatever, and maybe you won't want to do it, but I sort of want to commemorate this somehow.

LAURA: With a bone.

SAM: No, I was thinking with a tattoo.

LAURA: I could do that!

MATT: "What?"

LAURA: What do you want?

SAM: Well, I was thinking. You and I could get tattoos.

LAURA: Oh, Yeza, I do want to do that for you.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Jester, I don't think anybody asked.

LAURA: Make a persuasion check.

TALIESIN: I'm so excited.

SAM: Well, I don't know what level I am now.

MATT: Well, you guys haven't leveled yet, but--

SAM: So it's 13 minus three, so that's ten.

MATT: Ten, all right, that's passable for the situation. He goes, "Okay."

SAM: Oh, wait, persuasion is zero, so that's just 13, okay.

MATT: "Okay, yeah, where?"

LAURA: Where? On your ring fingers?

SAM: Sure, yes. Yes, and maybe on him you could do-- he can help you-- the molecular structure of sugar. And I could have the molecular structure of salt.

LAURA: Aw, that's really sweet.

MATT: "That's actually very sweet."

SAM: Seems advanced.

MARISHA: That's a lot of detail in a small space.

SAM: Well, he knows all this stuff.

LAURA: Okay, it's a finger, though, so I just want you to know.

SAM: Okay, well, then, how about just a heart? How about just a heart?

LAURA: Yeah, I could probably do that.

SAM: That's probably easier. Also, with your skill level, maybe just a circle. How about just a ring?

LAURA: It might just be a blob, honestly.

SAM: Like a ring? Yeah, we'll do a ring. It's way easier.

LIAM: Seafaring DNA.

SAM: How about, yeah, rings, rings.

LAURA: Although, anything on your finger is kind of hard. I'm just putting that out there.

SAM: Okay, how about just a dot? Like a big dot.

LAURA: I like it. I'm going to try to make the dot look like a heart, though.

SAM: Great. If it works out, great.

LAURA: We'll see what happens. It might just be a blob.

SAM: I'm not going to have this body for long anyway, right?!

LAURA: When you get a new one, I'll do a better one.

SAM: Sure, sure.

LAURA: This will be practice round.

MATT: "Okay."

TALIESIN: For one of them.

SAM: I'll do you first so I practice, because his is more permanent.

SAM: Practice on me, for sure.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: Go ahead and roll a dexterity check.

LAURA: Oh, my first roll of the night. Oh! That was so close to being good! Dexterity check, seven.

MATT: Seven, okay. At the right angle, it looks heart-like. Otherwise, it looks more like a bean.

LAURA: A bean, a happy bean on your finger!

MATT: It's a finger bean.

SAM: It's something to remember. Can you try a little harder on him?

LAURA: That's what yours looks like; it's so cute!

SAM: Okay, so it might be this, sort of.

MATT: Kind of at the right angle.

LAURA: Now I get advantage because I've practiced one time.

(laughter)

MATT: Sure.

LAURA: Yay!

TALIESIN: Wow!

(laughter)

LAURA: Ten.

MATT: Ten, okay, it is a heart!

LAURA: Yay!

(cheering)

TRAVIS: Love lives!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Holy shit. That's accurate.

LAURA and TALIESIN: Yay!

TRAVIS: All right, so, tomorrow, we rest tonight. Visit the Marble Tomes, we'll find a blacksmith, we'll also find some paper, maybe a jeweler for a diamond, anything like that.

SAM: What do I do with my husband?

LIAM: Yeah, I feel like we are talking about specifics on a micro level, but let's talk macro for a moment. What are we doing?

SAM: Are we allying with the Dynasty?

TALIESIN: For the moment, we are moving with the circumstances.

SAM: Are you okay with that, Beau?

MARISHA: I think I could make it work to my advantage, yeah. It just depends on our long game.

LIAM: Yeah, for the moment, we are staying alive. What do we want to do together I think is what we need to figure out after this day.

MARISHA: We ran from this war for a really long time, and now we're right in the middle of it. I don't know how much longer we can avoid this.

LAURA: Yeah, but what are we going to do with it? I mean, do we think we're really going to, like, help something or end it, or are we going to make it worse? Are we going to get everyone in the Empire killed? What if we do stuff for the Bright Queen and then because she likes us so much, we can talk her into not really trying to kill everyone?

MARISHA: Leave every place better than you found it.

LAURA: Aw.

MARISHA: That's really the only direction I have at the moment.

SAM: We can't do any of that until we have trust.

MARISHA: Stay alive and listen and something else.

SAM: But we won't be able to leave this place better than we found it unless we have some sort of prominence or power of position or trust anyway, with her.

LIAM: We have the beginnings of that.

TALIESIN: We have to continue to serve each other, above all else. And serve life, above all else, and I think everything else will work out. The situation that anybody finds themselves in is just that. We're in a place, there's a power structure, we're going to adapt to it. As long as stay true to each other, I think everything's going to be fine.

LIAM: I would like to propose something, as a goal. I think we should stop a war, and I think we will do that by cutting the cancer out of our homeland. These are not different things. What you and your mentor are talking about, what I am talking about.

MARISHA: No, they're not. I hear you. I'm just a little bit concerned on your personal motives, which you're still very enigmatic about.

LIAM: (sighs)

MARISHA: How much do you care and how much are you using us, Caleb?

LIAM: We're telling you a lot, Yeza. This is a lot all at once. The people that you were working for, some of their associates, if not all of them are, their souls are black as pitch. The Cerberus Assembly.

MATT: "They're some-- they're a fine piece of work."

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: "At least, what little interaction I've had with them."

LIAM: What Beauregard is referring to is my connection to the Cerberus Assembly a long time ago.

TALIESIN: Was this what you've been walking towards? Is this the destiny that you've been looking for?

LIAM: I don't know about destiny.

TALIESIN: Is it what you're for, I suppose is what I'm asking?

LIAM: Maybe.

TALIESIN: I believe that we are walking a very specific path right now, and I think that we're all here for a reason. I think that we're going to find servants of death on both sides of this, if this is the path we're choosing to walk and I think it'll be our job to hold as much of that accountable as possible. If this is what we're choosing to do.

MARISHA: What are you doing? What?

LIAM: Yes, I was trained to be a terrible person. Yes, I was a student of the Cerberus Assembly. Yes, I murdered those most dear to me, yes. And yes, I want to see specific people dead. If that lines up with something that can save where you and I are from, where Veth and Yeza are from, where our friends live--

LAURA: Kiri.

SAM: Pumat.

LAURA: My dad, maybe.

TALIESIN: Your mom.

LIAM: Then all is one.

MARISHA: It's not you seeking retribution that concerns me. What do you want to do with this dunamancy shit? Your interest in time bending.

LIAM: Time bending?

MARISHA: Isn't that what this is all leading towards?

LIAM: I never said anything to you about time bending.

MARISHA: You're interested in the study of time. That's what you were looking at in the library.

LIAM: I never said any such thing to you.

MARISHA: You told me that in the library. Just a little. You still have the vial, right, from Yeza?

LIAM: Yes.

MATT: "Wait, what?"

SAM: Oh. We got some stuff from the house. We have the--

LAURA: A tripody thing.

SAM: The tripody thing.

MATT: "Oh, yeah, they placed the box on that."

SAM: Was it special in any way?

MATT: "I don't know, that belonged to the lady."

SAM: We have it. We also have a vial. Was it full?

TRAVIS: Yeah. Had a bunch of liquidy gray stuff in it.

MATT: "I think that's probably the one that we completed."

SAM: They didn't take it with them?

MATT: "I was supposed to use it and continue to study it there and see if I can replicate the process. That was part of my job when I was left there alone, was to try and find a way to streamline it."

TALIESIN: Well, does that bring me a thought.

MATT: "That's the one."

MARISHA: What's it do?

MATT: "I don't know. It wasn't my job to study the specifics of it, I just had to find a way to take its properties of the ethereal energy and distill it into an imbibable fluid."

TRAVIS: Yeah, reproduce it.

SAM: You could do it again if you needed to.

MATT: "With the right materials and with one of those box things, yeah."

TRAVIS: Yeah, mm-mm, mm-mm.

SAM: What was the chair?

(laughter)

MATT: "You don't want to know about the chair."

LAURA: Yes!

SAM: I shouldn't have brought it up, I'm sorry. I just hold him.

MATT: You see this chair scar mark on the side of his neck. "You're not all talking about going to war with the Empire, are you?"

LAURA and LIAM: No.

TALIESIN: No.

SAM: We're talking about being strategic and specific in our alliances.

MATT: "I know times are rough there and I know that some townsguard are assholes and, you know, I don't know what decisions are made by the hoity-toity folks up north at the capital, but there's good people there. A good, honest people doing good, honest work, and the Empire protects them. I just say be careful. You know, I don't-- what I saw that night, what little bit that I saw when they attacked Felderwin, that was awful. I'm having a hard time understanding that we're trusting these, these--"

SAM: Monsters?

MATT: "Yes."

TRAVIS: No, you're not wrong, Yeza. I think some of us, and I admire this, have a great appetite for resolution. I'm with you, I don't know who to trust and, as admirable as that notion is, I can't even begin to wrap my mind around stopping a war. I mean, that's just seven of us. We're talking about nations. No, we're not trusting anyone yet.

MATT: "Look, I--"

SAM: And some monsters you can trust.

MATT: "I'm just a country boy with a knack for books and mixing things. I don't know what you've been through. I'm sorry to speak out of turn. I just... I know you've traveled and done a lot of things from what you say. Just don't lose sight of the simple folk, either."

TRAVIS: All voices are welcome here.

MATT: "They tend to get steamrolled in situations like this."

MARISHA: Well, maybe Fjord is right. Talking on a macro scale is good, but what are the next, you know, medium steps? We talked small, we talked big.

LAURA: We could try taking this Waccoh job or whatever and see what kind of people we would be working for, you know?

LIAM: We bolster the trust of these people we are with right now.

SAM: Learn more and then we'll be able to-- like you said before, Beau, we need to know more before we can really make any long term plans.

MARISHA: That's true.

LAURA: Also, there's TravelerCon coming up and I just don't know where it's going to fall in this whole war situation.

SAM: It's a month away?

LIAM: How far off is that?

LAURA: Like a month, two months.

SAM: Did you get your badge yet?

LAURA: I haven't even found where it's at. He hasn't told me and I'm getting a little worried about it, honestly.

TALIESIN: There's a place I'm looking for, too. And we're getting nearer.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: You mentioned that.

SAM: Yeah, a crematorium?

TRAVIS: Or a kiln in the mountains?

SAM: For bodies?

TALIESIN: Yes.

LAURA: What kind of bodies?

SAM: And you think it's here?

TALIESIN: I do, I think it's close.

TRAVIS: Who owns it, what is it made of? How do you know about it?

TALIESIN: Well, that's complicated. But there, there is more than one way to honor the body of a hero. There are, well, there is a small clearing in the middle of a forest where you can put someone beneath the ground and something unusual springs forth. There's a place where you can burn the remains to an ash and something unusual springs forth.

SAM: Something unusual like a new body or a plant?

TALIESIN: Just something unusual. I've never been. There are three sacred sites of my particular group of people and the cemetery is just one of them, the garden and the kiln is the next and I'm hoping maybe if we find the kiln, I can start to piece together what's happening to my home.

LAURA: Are you planning on burying a body there or crematory-ing a body there?

TALIESIN: Well, I suppose whichever one of you I like least. Yeah, that's a little joke.

TRAVIS: Caduceus humor.

TALIESIN: I'm working on it. I think that they may have answers.

SAM: This place, forgive me, I don't know much about it, but from what we've heard, this place is all about eternal life and preserving souls forever, not burning them and ending them--

LAURA: Not everyone gets eternal life here.

SAM: Not everyone, but she was talking about imagining a world where you could control your own destiny because everyone was sort of immortal, wasn't she?

LAURA: Yeah, I have a question about that, though. What if somebody doesn't want to be? Do they get stuck?

SAM: Consecuted?

LAURA: Yeah, do they have to be consecuted? What if you get consecuted and you realize, "Shit, I really wanted to pass on? I wanted to see what was on the other side?"

TRAVIS: Well, didn't anybody else think it was weird that Shadowhand is still in his first life and has a lot of, I don't know, seems like a lot of clout around here.

TALIESIN: I get the sense that it's not something that everybody gets, that it's a delicacy.

TRAVIS: It may be some are told they get and maybe don't actually, and maybe it's a way of preserving.

TALIESIN: I think maybe it's something you earn.

LIAM: A little too early to tell.

MARISHA: He mentioned he was a prodigy at the dunamancy magic, so I think that's what made him excel in ranks.

TRAVIS: Okay.

SAM: We don't know a lot.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we don't. There's a lot being thrown at us.

LIAM: No, I think we're going to stay here for a little bit and get to know the culture.

TALIESIN: I feel like I'm going to find clues as to where to go next to find the things I need to find.

MARISHA: We all eventually want to be able to go home, right?

MATT: "Where's Luc? You said Alfield?"

SAM: He's with Edith in Alfield. We have to figure out what to do with him, too.

TALIESIN: We may have to figure out, perhaps, if there's a way to get you, possibly back to the other side.

TRAVIS: Agreed.

MATT: "Okay."

LAURA: You can go to Nicodranas.

SAM: That's near the coast. We've been there, it's really nice. There's a beach.

LIAM: Closer than we are now.

MATT: "I haven't seen a beach before."

LAURA: It's really pretty.

SAM: Yeah, except for the water.

LAURA: My mom lives there. She would take pretty good care of you guys, I think.

TALIESIN and LAURA: Outside the Empire.

MATT: "Whenever we start to make that journey, I guess, sooner than later, I hope. I'm worried about him."

SAM: Of course.

MARISHA: Maybe we can find somebody and arrange you an escort.

TALIESIN: Perhaps they'll be more once they discover what we've done.

TRAVIS: And that we're staying.

TALIESIN: That they'll be more reasonable if they know that we've kept him away from the war entirely and kept out of the situation.

LIAM: Don't you worry, we will get you to Alfield.

SAM: It might be an expensive journey, though.

LAURA: Well, Caleb can just get some paper and then they'll figure out how to just (poofs) somebody there.

TRAVIS: He's close. Right, he was close?

SAM: For now, we just need to know what we're doing in the morning.

TRAVIS: Yeah, so, I was going to say: blacksmith, grocery shopping, maybe talk about seeing if there's a way to get him out of here and then you guys were going to go check out the library of stuff.

SAM: What about Waccoh?

LAURA: Yeah, that's in the library of stuff.

MARISHA: Maybe we can all go together to the library of stuff?

TALIESIN: We'll try and stick together for a while. Things seem to go wrong when we split up.

MARISHA: We also tend to draw a lot of attention, though, when we stick together.

LAURA: I wonder if with Yeza, we should make him look like a goblin or something.

MATT: "How do we do that?"

LAURA: Because we're really powerful.

SAM: I think he's fine the way he is.

TRAVIS: Yeah, plus we got these.

SAM: But he doesn't have one.

TRAVIS: Yeah, but we got them.

MARISHA: By the way, I think we should be careful about who we flaunt those to. Might make us prime targets for some undesirables.

TALIESIN: You also just mimed it because you're not wearing it because it's currently in a bag.

LIAM: Technically, everything we do is mimed, Taliesin.

TALIESIN: That's fair. That's a very fair point.

LAURA: Just mimed it because they're all in the bag.

TRAVIS: I'm not worried about it. If anybody comes up, I'm going to be like, "Hero of the Dynasty." "Hero of the Dynasty!"

MARISHA: Oh, yeah, it's convincing, you're right.

TRAVIS: Told you.

TALIESIN: I think the less lies that we have to walk around with, the easier it'll be to--

MARISHA: I'm not saying lie.

TRAVIS: Hero of the Dynasty!

SAM: H-O-D!

MARISHA: We know that there are spies from the Empire here, like my boss!

LAURA: Shh!

MARISHA: Shut the fuck up!

LAURA: Why do you always shout this shit out?!

MARISHA: Why is it always me that gets admonished and he just started because he screamed we're Heroes of the Empire earlier!

LAURA: You're the one shouting it, Beau!

MARISHA: I'm sorry, my voice raises sometimes.

TALIESIN: We're not Heroes of the Empire.

LAURA: No, we're not.

TALIESIN: The Dynasty.

TRAVIS: Can your boss look like other appearances or just the one?

MARISHA: I'm assuming she can mix it up.

TRAVIS: Well, I mean if we come across, they'll reach out.

MARISHA: She's not the only one. It's ignorant to think that there are not people here looking to kill people exactly like us.

TALIESIN: It's probably a town full of good people and bad people. MARISHA: There are good people and bad people everywhere.

LAURA: Exactly.

SAM: You guys wrap this up, my man is a little bit jittery. I'm going to take him to bed.

TRAVIS: Oh, boy. We don't need to hear your sex code. We will leave you to it!

SAM: He was in prison this morning--

TRAVIS: If you need extra towels or anything, just let us know and we will unburden you.

LAURA: Do you need the bath, Yeza?

MATT: "I could definitely use a bath."

SAM: We'll arrange it.

TALIESIN: Let's turn in for the night.

MATT: All right. As you all prepare yourselves for an evening's rest, you having flashes of the imagery that you received in your brief time no longer within your mortal coil and the unresolved tension between the accidental death that found its way to you.

MARISHA: What?

MATT: When Nott killed him.

TALIESIN: I almost died.

TRAVIS: Oh, thank you.

SAM: Remember when I killed him?

TRAVIS: I thought we were on fucking lore alert, I was like. Why is nobody registering this?

TALIESIN: I ain't dropping lore on you yet, man, it's been a long game.

MATT: Yeah. Anything you guys wish to do before you turn in?

SAM: I will use whatever means necessary to completely black out the room.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: I'll tuck him into his bed and I'll lie down on the floor next to him.

LAURA and MARISHA: Aw.

MATT: Okay, he passes straight out. He is exhausted. You pass out on the floor. Partway through the night, you hear some footfalls and a hand grabs your arm. A voice, familiar voice, goes, "Shh, it's okay. It's just me. Why are you on the floor?"

LAURA: Aw.

SAM: It weirdly feels better, but I also wanted to give you your space.

MATT: "It's okay." Since you do have darkvision as a goblin, he pulls the blankets and pillows and throws them on the floor. He says, "I'll join you."

SAM: I give him all the pillows and blankets.

MATT: He passes back out again, but curled up next to you.

SAM: I'll stroke his little hair and watch him sleep.

MATT: As the rest of you find yourselves--

MARISHA: I grab Fjord before we leave the room.

MATT: That's what I'm checking, I'm like what are you going to do before we close here?

MARISHA: Just pull him aside for a second. You okay?

TRAVIS: Huh?

MARISHA: Are you okay? You all right?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'm dandy. Why you ask?

MARISHA: Just checking. Still your first mate, Captain.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I appreciate that.

MARISHA: Sorry I was a little cagey, past, you know, few hours.

SAM: Campaign.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I was about to say-- Not really sure what exact incident you are apologizing for but it's all just Beau.

MARISHA: Okay, okay.

TRAVIS: How are you doing?

MARISHA: Good, I'm still processing. Don't know what we just signed up for, but-- I don't know, I'm kind of excited to see where it leads, I guess.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'm interested to explore open waters, to be sure. I am concerned. Cautiously optimistic, but concerned. We are definitely being watched.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: We are going to be fed every manner of story and lie and propaganda that these people know and have, and we are somehow supposed to divine the truth from BS.

MARISHA: Well. I guess it's a good thing we have some of the best detectives on our side.

TRAVIS: That's true, we do.

MARISHA: Anyway. You got me if you need me. I'm going to go pass out.

TRAVIS: Fair enough.

LIAM: When Fjord re-enters the room, Caleb is pulling a silver wire around the room.

TALIESIN: Naked.

LIAM: Then later, as they're drifting--

TRAVIS: Inside the room?

LIAM: Yeah, inside the door. Later, as they're drifting off, he hears: Fjord.

TRAVIS: (grunting)

LIAM: I appreciate you.

TRAVIS: You what?

LIAM: Sometimes you have to get a little bit crazy.

TRAVIS: What do you mean, right now?

LIAM: Uh. No, you said that to me once.

TRAVIS: Oh.

LIAM: It was a callback.

TRAVIS: Right, sorry, yeah. I just was almost asleep.

LIAM: Anyway. Glad we're not dead.

TRAVIS: Mm-hm.

LIAM: This went worse than I imagined it. Good night.

TRAVIS: Hey, I didn't say it. It took a brass pair to do what you did, so thanks for not, you know, getting us killed, I guess.

LIAM: Well, when I see my friends on the verge of possible death I'm not going to stand by and do nothing.

TRAVIS: Yeah. I'm going to go to sleep now.

LIAM: I stay awake in bed for another 30 minutes and scratch Frumpkin's neck and then pass out.

MATT: Okay. Anyone else?

LAURA: What do you think they're doing right now?

MARISHA: Yeza and Vess, Veth? Veth, right?

LAURA: Yeah, Veth. That's what she was named.

MARISHA: I don't know, Yeza looked pretty fucked up, man.

LAURA: Yeah, he ate a lot, too.

MARISHA: Yeah, he did. I bet he barfed.

LAURA: Probably.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: They probably started to bone and then he threw up. Oh no!

MARISHA: I bet that's right. Yeah, that sounds very probable.

LAURA: We'll ask in the morning.

MARISHA: Yeah, okay.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But not in a way that's like, "Did you throw up because she is a goblin?" because that's not cool.

MARISHA: Oh no!

LAURA: Yeah, no, just because he ate too much.

MARISHA: I was proud of him.

LAURA: Me, too. He seemed like he really, really loved her.

MARISHA: He's a good guy. I would've beaten his ass if he was a piece of shit about it.

LAURA: You know, it's funny because, like, you know, we read all these books and stuff and that's not at all the way love is described in the books that we read.

MARISHA: You mean the porn books that we read? Those?

LAURA: Well, are they like porn, though, or are they just like the way relationships are for real, though?

TRAVIS: Oh boy.

MARISHA: Well.

(groans)

LAURA: It's okay, we don't have to talk about this tonight. I know everything already, it doesn't matter. And I turn over and go to bed.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Jester learned about romance from porn, oh no!

TALIESIN: Uh-oh, someone ordered a pizza.

TRAVIS: "I'm here to fix your pool." "I don't have a pool."

(laughter)

LIAM: "Arcane delivery."

MATT: (chuckles) In the night.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: You hear Yasha's voice in the dark go, "You-- are you okay?"

TALIESIN: Well, yeah, I'm-- certainly real now, isn't it?

MATT: "Yeah."

TALIESIN: I-- I will admit, I'm a little nervous. Miss Yasha, I feel, I thought I understood a sense of purpose and I thought I knew what I was heading for and now I'm so sure. I'm worried that might be a little dangerous, but I can, that moment when I was under, I, (sighs), I'm so grateful for it. You think that's... you think that's a little dangerous?

MATT: "Sometimes tragedy gives perspective."

TALIESIN: I... I believe in destiny, and I believe that we are called upon to do great work sometimes over small work sometimes and there is something special with these people and with you and with us. I'm going to try to remind them that it's important to honor that and not just... I think there's a great version of all these people and of you.

MATT: "I hope so."

TALIESIN: Hopefully I won't get everybody else killed too.

MATT: "Hopefully we won't get you killed either, not again."

TALIESIN: Think I need to talk to the Wildmother again soon.

MATT: "I think I have to talk to my own interested party, as well."

TALIESIN: I would very much like to know what they say.

MATT: "Me too. Anyway, good night."

TALIESIN: Thank you for taking care of these people with me.

MATT: "Just paying forward how one of them once took care of me."

TALIESIN: Aren't we all?

MATT: "In his honor. Good night."

TALIESIN: Good night. (snoring)

TRAVIS: No!

MATT: You hear the shuffling of a pillow being pushed over Yasha's ears.

LIAM: (mooing)

MATT: With that, you all rest for the night after a chaotic arrival in Rosohna. The core of the Kryn Dynasty. You also hit level nine. (cheering) We'll go ahead and roll hit points real fast here.

SAM: Dear god.

LIAM: (yelling) Oh, it fell on the floor. It's so important for me, guys.

TALIESIN: So you roll your hit die, right?

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: It's a six on the floor, can I take it?

MATT: No.

LIAM: Goddamn it! It's a six in the board!

TALIESIN: I got a five!

MARISHA: I got a five too, not too bad.

TRAVIS: Two.

MATT: Two, wah wah.

LIAM: Yes!

SAM: Fuck!

MATT: Seven. You're so angry when you roll well!

LAURA: Oh, I rolled a one.

MATT: Reroll ones, remember?

LAURA: A five!

TRAVIS: And we add--?

MATT: I believe your modifier already gets added, so just put the number you rolled.

TALIESIN: You change your rolled HP, you add it to your roll of your HP.

LAURA: Yeah, you add it to your rolled HP.

LIAM: Guys, I'm all of 57 hit points.

TALIESIN: Immortal, immortal!

MATT: I think for some of you guys, that's-- I think it's 5th-level spells, right?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Oh, man.

SAM: That's Bigby's Hand shit!

MATT: Man.

TALIESIN: I can do some crazy stuff now.

LAURA: Yeah, there's some stuff.

TALIESIN: I've got Mass Healing Word now.

MATT: That's going to be fun.

LAURA: I do too, but--

TALIESIN: Whole party goes down, (snaps) whole party comes back up as long as you guys don't wander 60 feet in front of everybody.

LIAM: Are you about to sunset us for the night?

MATT: I am.

LIAM: Can I do one thing in the morning?

MATT: Sure.

LIAM: It's just a talk, just a conversation.

MATT: Okay, and then we'll kick it off there next week. Does everyone finish their input? You good, you good?

SAM: Yeah, I'm good.

MATT: You good?

MARISHA: I'm good, I think.

MATT: Good? All right. We'll get Ashley's soon enough. So. Consciousness comes to you. You recognize the morning and you feel it in your bones, but it's strange to look out the small, glass window and see it's still night. But you feel it's morning. And it's restful. What would you like to do?

LIAM: I quietly leave the room and I go to Jester and Beauregard's room and I gently knock on the door.

(knocking)

LAURA: Who is it?

LIAM: It is Caleb. I'm sorry, both of you, Beauregard, I need to ask your advice on something. Could you please, could I borrow you for a moment? Is she awake?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: She's sleeping still.

MARISHA: I'm sleeping, I'm coming out. I go out.

LIAM: Please be dressed.

LAURA: She's naked.

LIAM: No.

MARISHA: I go out.

LIAM: Are you naked?

MARISHA: No.

LIAM: Okay, come with me, please.

MARISHA: You don't get that privilege.

LIAM: I lead downstairs and find it's like crack of dawn kind of thing here, even though there's no sun, yeah?

MATT: It would be like because you guys went to sleep not too late in the evening, be close to like six or seven in the morning.

LIAM: Is the dining area deserted at this point?

MATT: It's not deserted, but there's two drow that are currently there. One of them looks like they maybe have passed out at the table, the other is currently sitting and finishing an early breakfast.

LIAM: I lead Beauregard to the opposite, as far as I can get from these two.

MATT: Okay, easy enough to do.

LIAM: Listen to me.

MARISHA: Yo, why did you get me up so early?

LIAM: Are you awake?

MARISHA: Yes, what?

LIAM: Keep your voice down.

MARISHA: Okay, what?! You all right?

LIAM: Yes! But I would be better-- I need you to trust me. I need you to be my friend. I can't believe that I am saying those words, but I need you to be my friend. Yeah, I've probably said some crazy things to you. I have railed against the elements. But I have also said that I wanted to murder a man. That falls in line with things that Dairon and you want. I just put everything on the line, my own survival, all of our survival on the line because I wanted to see you live and all of our friends live. A week ago--

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: Killing that man seemed impossible to me. And now it does not.

MARISHA: You don't have to convince me of anything, Caleb. I've been your friend this whole time.

LIAM: Well, last night, it seemed like I did.

MARISHA: It's whether you believe it that's always been a question mark to me. Do you believe I'm your friend? That's always been the problem, man. I care for you a lot and I've told you that on more than one occasion. And I'm not sure what it's met with. So do you trust me? Do you trust the rest of us? Or are we just cogs in your overall grand plan? Because that would hurt. That would hurt real bad, man, if that was the case.

LIAM: I think that I have spent so long like this that it is hard, maybe, for you to tell that I care for you. I'm sorry for anything that I have done in the past that has earned your distrust.

MARISHA: Hey, look at me. I'll trust you. If you do me a favor. Start trusting yourself. Just a little bit.

LIAM: Getting there. Anyway, I respect you greatly. Thank you for your time.

MARISHA: You don't have to thank me for my time like you're a social worker. And I give him a hug. Look, you're next to me. We can do it in real life.

(laughter)

LIAM: Danke.

MARISHA: Yeah, you too.

LIAM: We can do some good, all of us. We can do some good.

MARISHA: I think that's the best retribution for Caleb Widogast. Two pieces of shit like us doing some good?

LIAM: Holla!

MARISHA: No, don't, don't!

MATT: And on that note.

SAM: The worst. The literal worst.

MATT: It's the best.

LIAM: What's that, shark man?

SAM: Hey!

MATT: I thought we had finally killed him off. All right. We'll pick this up next week. Oh, man, this is good. I'm excited. Once again, holy shit.

LIAM: Holy shit.

SAM: Thank you, Critters. We get to make ten episodes.

LAURA: Ten episodes, you guys!

LIAM: Ten motherfucking episodes!

MATT: Eight episodes through the Briarwood arc. Ahh!

SAM: And an Ashley Johnson one shot.

MATT: Yeah!

SAM: What will it be? What will it be?

MATT: Yeah, this is crazy.

LIAM: A Blindspot game.

TALIESIN: I was going to say: a mysterious woman covered in tattoos.

SAM: She'll be on Skype.

MATT: No.

TALIESIN: Skype DM.

MATT: Don't we get her back next week?

LIAM and MATT: We think so.

MATT: Fingers crossed.

TALIESIN: Let's not make any promises we can't keep.

MATT: We're getting Ashley back soon and I'm super excited. But anyway. Have a wonderful night, thank you so much. We love you very much and is it Thursday yet? Good night, guys!

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