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List of Transcripts

Pre-ShowEdit

MATT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to tonight’s episode of Critical Role, where a bunch of us nerdy-ass voice actors sit around, roll dice and play Dungeons & Dragons. This week, not in costume, to the joy of all of my players. So welcome back. We’re going to hop in here in a moment, but first, let’s get through our announcements. First and foremost, this week’s sponsor is the continuation of Loot Crate being our awesome sponsor.

(cheering)

MATT: Thank you so much Loot Crate. I think we announced the new theme for this month’s loot crate last week, but Sam, if you would like to give us a couple of words on our sponsor, please.

SAM: I am running out of things to say. So instead, I composed a little song, and I thought that Miss Ashley Johnson could help me with it.

ASHLEY: Okay?

SAM: I’m going to sing a couple of lines, and it will be very apparent what the rhyming word is, and you chime in with that. Little known fact, Ashley Johnson, beautiful singing voice, she’s a soprano.

ASHLEY: I am! Yes, and?

SAM: Here’s a song for Loot Crate. Okay. Ashley, I need you to focus here. It’s to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies. (singing) Well, yeehaw for nerd swag, let’s all give a big hoot. You get a pretty crate and they fill it with–

ASHLEY: Loot!

SAM: Very good! (singing) With gear and apparel that’ll make you look real cute. You’ll even be attractive when your butt makes a–

ASHLEY: Toot!

SAM: Very good. (singing) Subscribe with the link that pops up on your computer. With the dough that you saved, buy some hot wings at–

ASHLEY: Hooters!

SAM: Very good. (singing) You’ll be all hot and bothered even if you’re spayed or neutered. So pull down your skirt, and stick that loot in your–

ASHLEY: Cooter!

SAM: No! It’s in your crate. You put your loot in your crate.

ASHLEY: Oh, sorry.

SAM: That’s disgusting. That’s disgusting, Ashley. Jesus!

MATT: That’s really inappropriate.

SAM: Jesus, why would you stick it in your cooter?

ASHLEY: It made all the sense.

SAM: Holy shit! Loot in a Loot Crate. Good God! Anyway, magic everyone. Sign up and use the exclusive promo code– Wait a second, there’s a new promo code?

TRAVIS: It’s new, yeah. Five dollars off Loot Crate and Loot Crate DX if you use promo code CHAOTICGOOD. All caps, one word.

SAM: Go check it out guys. I’m done.

LIAM: Sam Riegel, you are against the law.

TRAVIS: The code is only good for 48 hours.

SAM: Wait, is that true?

TRAVIS: It is true. 48 hours only.

SAM: I should read these before I do the ads.

TRAVIS: CHAOTICGOOD!

MATT: Thank you, Sam; I appreciate it. Ashley, you really need to clean that mouth.

ASHLEY: You know, there is only one place to put loot.

MATT: Really, keep it in your crate, guys, highly recommended.

TALIESIN, LAURA, and ASHLEY: Keep it in your crate.

MATT: #keepitinyourcrate. So yes. Thank you Loot Crate for being our awesome sponsor. Other announcements: BlizzCon this weekend! For those who are going to be there, a number of us are going to be there. There are panels Friday. Who is going to be there Friday?

LIAM: Friday! There.

MATT: There you go. Me and Liam will be there Friday. A number of other of us will be wandering the halls.

TRAVIS: I will be in the bathrooms.

LAURA: Just hanging out.

MATT: Just chilling. Just looking to massage folks as they come in? Taking tips?

TRAVIS: Ask if they need their hands dried.

MATT: So look for that at BlizzCon. Those of us who have our schedules and have posted them on our twitter, and will probably post it tomorrow as well, so keep an eye out. Hope to see you guys there. Also, new GM Tips went up today, on YouTube. You guys can check it out; it’s every week Wednesday on Alpha and then Thursday on YouTube. This week’s episode deals with trying to get your players to engage more in actual roleplaying, in-character in your sessions. So go ahead and check it out. Hopefully it will be helpful for some of you new and old GMs out there. And let us know what you think. Also, Marisha, if you want to talk about the new Spotify playlists that we have coming up here.

MARISHA: Oh yeah! We did those awesome playlists like a year ago, and if you didn’t know, by the way, we did playlists about a year ago, each one of us, for our characters. You should go and check them out. They are deep somewhere in the Geek and Sundry website.

LAURA: What’s this?

MARISHA: Our Spotify playlists.

LAURA: Dude, they were so good!

MARISHA: They were really good!

LAURA: And they give really good background into our characters.

MARISHA: Yeah, they actually give a lot of insight, if you pay attention. So yeah! Go look at our playlists, because we are going to be doing a round two, starting next week. Because it has been like 50 some odd episodes, and a lot of shit has happened.

TRAVIS: Mine is just going to be animal noises. (braying)

LAURA: What animal was that?

TRAVIS: You wish you knew. Check out the playlist to find out!

LIAM: It’s just 12 tracks of whale song? (whale song)

(whale songs)

LIAM: (Grog impersonation) This is me when I’m sad. This is me when I’m happy.

TRAVIS: He found a tape recorder.

MATT: It is all Sesame Street. All the time. All right, well, awesome! Keep an eye out for that. Starting next week, we will have info available on the Geek & Sundry website and our Twitter, as soon as that becomes available. Anything else that anyone wants to announce? So glad you could be here with us this week, Ashley!

(cheering)

ASHLEY: Very spur of the moment. That’s it.

(laughter)

SAM: Are we going to do this thing at the break? Is that happening? What are we going to do?

LAURA: Yes!

TALIESIN: Oh, that thing.

LAURA: So our critical costumes contest. We are announcing the winners after the break!

LIAM: After we choose them on the break.

LAURA: No, we have all been looking at them. We all have our personals, but now we have to fight amongst ourselves and duke it out for the winner.

ASHLEY: We need to fight. We are having a real battle.

TRAVIS: We have Nerf Guns.

MARISHA: And Jello.

TALIESIN: And sticks!

TRAVIS: You brought Jello?

MATT: It is going to be fantastic. For the record: You guys are ridiculous!

LAURA: They are amazing!

MATT: Those costume entries, every single one was amazing!

MARISHA: Yes.

TALIESIN: Cats.

MATT: There were cats in costume!

LAURA: Victor cat!

MATT: I can’t even.

TALIESIN: Scanlan cat.

ASHLEY: Can we do one with just animals, sometime? Like during the Westminster Dog Show?

TALIESIN: Just cats! Critical Cats!

LAURA: Critter Critters!

MATT: We have already lost control. This has already gone. We are over it. We have peaked. We are done.

TRAVIS: Also Talks. Talks Machina will be live every Tuesday at 7:00pm on Alpha. Every week, there will be like two to three of us on there, answering questions, giving insight.

LAURA: When does it start?

TRAVIS: November…

ALL: 15th!

TRAVIS: It will be on there, and you can find out all of the juicy details, who Grog is really in love with. And you can follow @talksmachina on (shouts) Twitter! There are so many cool things! There will be gift giveaways and all sorts of stuff.

MARISHA: Yay.

MATT: Thank you, Travis! It’s exciting.

MARISHA: It’s fun.

TRAVIS: Yeah, it’s going to be fun. We are going to haze Brian Foster every single week.

MARISHA: Oh no, he hazes us, man.

TALIESIN: Yeah, it was kind of intense.

LIAM: He’s an OG D&D player, though, right? Like decades of Dungeons & Dragons.

LAURA: Yeah, he’s old school. He’s old school.

LIAM: Always checking me in my rolls, on my choices in the game.

LAURA: He’s off-camera laughing at us.

LIAM: Who I talk to on any given afternoon. It is all I hear about. I’ll do what I want, Brian! It’s D&D!

MATT: So you can look forward to more of that on Talks Machina.

TALIESIN: D&D: there’s no wrong way to play except our way.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Indeed. Well then, on that note, let’s go and bring us onto the happy day-glo lives of Vox Machina right now, and Exandria, as we step into tonight’s episode of Critical Role

TALIESIN: Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle, friendship!

[dramatic music]

Part IEdit

MATT: Hello, and welcome back. While we were away, we learned much about the anatomy of the basilisk. Thank you, Liam.

LIAM: Welcome!

MATT: All right. So bringing us into tonight’s episode. Vox Machina, in their attempt to take down the Chroma Conclave, have slain three of the five dragons. They’ve made a tentative alliance with a fourth: Raishan, the Diseased Deceiver, in the hopes of taking down the fifth, and most powerful master of the entire Conclave: Thordak, the Cinder King, who currently resides over the now elementally corrupt city of Emon, with the ground itself beginning to boil and crack with fire elemental energy. You all sit within Whitestone, deciding upon the coming rush to the final battle, considering what allies you have at your disposal, what locations you want to put this battle in. You’ve had these conversations. You’ve revealed Raishan to the rest of your allies within Whitestone, and you’ve previously spoke about taking this to Fort Daxio to the north of Emon. And that was where we last left off. As you finish your conversation with the rest of your current temporary council on the ziggurat beneath Whitestone, you’ve made the choice of Fort Daxio as being your next grounds of conflict. What do you wish to do?

(laughter)

SAM: You think we finished our conversation, but we have about an hour of more talking to do.

(laughter)

MARISHA: What if we get an airship, and put the ziggurat inside of it?

SAM: Oh, okay!

LAURA and TALIESIN: What?

ASHLEY: I have an idea!

(laughter)

LAURA: We should go to Fort Daxio then. And talk to them.

SAM: Did we need to send word to all of our allies that that is where we are going? Has that been done already?

MARISHA: I feel we need to scout the location first?

TALIESIN: Let’s scout first, let’s head there and then if everything seems copacetic.

SAM: How do we get there?

TALIESIN: By airship!

LAURA: By the fabulous Keyleth.

MARISHA: Let me scry, then we will bamf through a tree. Sound good?

LAURA: Can you scry here though? We are by the Orb of Death.

MARISHA: No, we have to go.

SAM: Hold on! Let me go get Pike.

MARISHA: Yes!

SAM: I got her, guys! She’s here!

ASHLEY: Hey! Oh man!

TRAVIS: Oh, Pike. Good to see you. High five!

SAM: Wow! We almost left without her.

ASHLEY: Wait, so he said we were going to Fort Daxio?

LAURA: Yeah. We are totally going to Fort Daxio.

ASHLEY: Okay! That sounds–

LAURA: That’s where we are going to amass our forces. Potentially.

ASHLEY: I think it is a great idea. On our walk, we talked about it, and I think that it is a really good idea.

TRAVIS: The Monstah has spoken.

SAM: Now it’s unanimous.

LIAM: Sure.

SAM: Wait, can she scry? Do you need to scry? Do we have scrying things?

MARISHA: I can scry. Yeah. I got my Scry Ball.

MATT: Who are you scrying?

MARISHA: I am– Do we know someone in Fort Daxio?

TALIESIN: We do! We do.

LAURA: We do?

TALIESIN: Because your–

LAURA: My shit father?

TALIESIN: Yeah, your shit father.

LAURA: Yeah, he knew somebody there, but I don’t remember who it was.

TALIESIN: Oh, shit. Hold on.

SAM: But wait! Anyone from like when we were with the ‘fugees? The refugee camp? Didn’t some of them go to Daxio?

LAURA: Oh! Oh! What about that guy that was running the refugee camp? The leader! Bernard, or Reginald, or–

MARISHA: Well, Reginald is dead.

LAURA: Not Reginald.

TALIESIN: Most of our friends are dead, let’s be fair.

LIAM: Yeah, we have met a lot of dead people.

LAURA: What was his name? Bernard?

MATT: Who are you referring to?

LAURA: The guy who was running the refugee camp that was like a blacksmith, not a blacksmith, but he had stepped up to–

SAM: Wait! Rothfuss?

LAURA: No.

LIAM: No. I know who you’re talking about.

LAURA: Yeah. We found his brother? His son?

LIAM: When we left the orc camp, and we headed out into the snow–

MATT: Oh!

LIAM: It was close to when we found Tyriok without an arm.

LAURA: They were heading to Fort Daxio, weren’t they?

MATT: I don’t recall if they were heading to Fort Daxio.

MARISHA: This was after the goliaths?

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: This is the part of the show where we look through our notes.

LIAM: It’s D&D! It is a Dungeons & Dragons game.

TRAVIS: You guys actually write notes? I just draw pictures.

TALIESIN: They write notes. I draw pictures.

LIAM: I listen to them read their notes.

TRAVIS: Oh, good.

ASHLEY: I look over her shoulder and read her notes.

LAURA: Well, they’re empty right now.

SAM: Mine are terrible! Arbiter Brom?

MATT: No!

SAM: Tristan the cleric? Gern Blanston?

(laughter)

SAM: Spireling Shenn?

TRAVIS: Orc skull?

LAURA: But you know who I’m talking about. Yeah?

MATT: This will be Cornelius. Maybe? I’m trying to–

TALIESIN: Wow!

TRAVIS and LAURA: Cornelius.

SAM: Oh wait! I got it, I got my page! Cornelius! Leader of the refugees. He is a bookbinder. Drez Vena! Magic guy. Elowen, the mom. Simon, the son. These are people who were in Daxio, right?

MATT: No, these are people who were sent to Kymal.

SAM: Shit balls! Master Quall?

MATT: Also Kymal. Or Westruun. One of the two.

MARISHA: Do we not know anybody at Fort Daxio?

MATT: No one that you know of. Fort Daxio–

LAURA: Is Allura still here? Is Allura still around?

MATT: Allura is still around.

LAURA: Allura, do you know anyone in Fort Daxio?

MATT: “Unfortunately, the one member I know is the Warmaster, Mikael Daxio, the father of Riskel. But as far as I know, he is currently sealed off in Syngorn with the rest of the army.”

LAURA: Right. Shit.

MARISHA: Okay, hang on, wait. Is Fort Daxio near Syngorn?

LAURA: No. The army, remember, part of the army got sent to Syngorn, and then Syngorn bamfed away.

MATT: Yeah. Three of the regiments in Fort Daxio were sent to Syngorn, with the supposed dragon incursion in the Stormcrest Mountains. Most of them went with Syngorn when it got pulled back to the Feywild, and one regiment still remains at Fort Daxio. Fort Daxio is north of Emon.

MARISHA: Are there any guards from Emon here? Because the guards were also the guards from Emon went to Syngorn. So maybe someone in one of the guards knows one of the guards in Fort Daxio.

LAURA: This is a lot of work.

MARISHA: Yeah. Is there an easier way to go about this?

MATT: You could ask around?

MARISHA: I am going to go and see if I can find one of the Whitestone guards.

MATT: Make an investigation check.

MARISHA: Oh! I am not good at these. I think that it’s a 12; let me double check my investigation. I don’t do this a whole lot. Yeah, 12.

MATT: Okay. You spend the next 30 minutes asking around for various guards, and the few that you do know that are from Emon are like, “I don’t really know anyone from Daxio. It’s very regimented. I wasn’t interested in the military, I wanted to more sit around the city and get paid to wear armor.”

MARISHA: So they’re more militant? Or like, the army?

MATT: “It is where the military is, yeah.”

MARISHA: You don’t have any army friends? Are there any army friends here?

MATT: “I think there are a few here that at least might know that, but I am not one of them. Sorry.”

MARISHA: Where? Where? Point me.

MATT: (shouting) I don’t know! That way!

MARISHA: (shouting) All right! I go that way!

MATT: Keyleth spends the better part of the next hour or so without luck, unable to really find anyone to match the description from before.

MARISHA: Guys, this sucks! We don’t know anyone in Daxio!

LAURA: Should we just fucking go there?

LIAM: This is like when you’re on a level in a video game, and you run around and around and around. You can’t find that thing that triggers to the next section of the video game.

SAM: Wait, Gilmore knows everybody. He must know someone in Daxio.

LAURA: I don’t know if he knows army people.

LIAM: Well, he knows a lot of people.

MARISHA: All right. If Gilmore doesn’t know anybody, then we are going to the nearest location, and then we’re hoofing it.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Kraghammer is near-ish.

MARISHA: All right, let’s go talk to Gilmore.

LAURA: That’s true.

MATT: Okay. As the rest of your council has essentially scattered throughout Whitestone Castle since your meeting, Gilmore is easy to find, beginning to make his way out of the castle down towards his homestead, and prepare what he has for the coming struggle. So as you intercept him walking down the outside, he says: “Oh, hi! I’m sorry. What did you need?”

SAM: Do you know anyone in Fort Daxio? Please say yes.

MATT: (chuckles, sighs) “You know, I believe I have had a couple of people come through my establishment.”

TRAVIS: Is that what they call it? “Come through my establishment?”

TALIESIN: Yes, that is exactly what they call it when you have an establishment.

MATT: “That is actually exactly what they call it, Grog.”

MARISHA: I mean, we don’t necessarily need to know anybody if you happen to know a very fast way to get to Daxio.

MATT: “I mean, there are magics that can get a person there quickly, but–”

LAURA: Are there trees? Are there lots of trees? It’s grassland.

LIAM: Shaun, could you send one of us there? Is that possible by any chance?

MATT: “Let me think.”

LAURA: One? Why one?

LIAM: Because if one of us goes with the Gatestone, Keyleth can jump over, she can see trees there, she can tree her way back here. I mean, I don’t know; I’m spitballing.

LAURA: It seems like a really long process–

LIAM: Yeah, all right. Where’s your great idea?

LAURA: Well, one of us goes there, finds a tree and then bamfs back, and Keyleth brings us all over–

SAM: No, Keyleth can scry on you once you’re there, and see the tree.

LAURA: Fabulous. Send one of us over there.

MARISHA: Yeah! Yeah.

MATT: He says: “Well, I can’t. But Allura might be able to help with that. Ask her?”

MARISHA: All right. Back to Allura.

SAM: (sings Yakety Sax)

LIAM: Chickens with our heads cut off, eh?

TRAVIS: In and out of the doors.

TALIESIN: Like a Monty Python animation. Back and forth.

MARISHA: Trip three times.

MATT: Exactly. Apparently, Gilmore doesn’t seem to have access to the type of translocation magic you’re asking about.

MARISHA: All right.

MATT: You eventually find your way to Allura in Whitestone Castle, who is currently having a conversation with Cassandra. She turns back to you, and as you ask the same question, she responds with a: “I actually do have prepared– I can bring up to eight other individuals with me.”

LAURA: Oh! How perfect!

TRAVIS: Wait, wait. One… Somebody else do this.

LAURA: We’re good.

ASHLEY: I think we’re okay. It’s just right.

MARISHA: Are you fine doing that?

MATT: “Yes. I can only go there, so we have to have some way of returning, which I believe you can handle that. All right?”

MARISHA: I can get us back, yeah.

MATT: “All right. Then whenever you are ready, I suppose.”

LAURA: Great.

LIAM: Now’s as good a time as any. Yeah.

MATT: “All right, gather round.” She puts her arms out and gestures for you to reach in like a hand circle.

ASHLEY: Come on Grog.

SAM: Are we taking Kima?

LAURA: Kima! Can we take Kima?

SAM: Do we want to take Kima?

MATT: “Of course! I have to go get her”

LIAM: One too many though, isn’t it?

LAURA: No. This is perfect.

LIAM: I swore she said eight. Or eight along with her?

MATT: “Eight along with me.”

TRAVIS: We’re just reconning.

LAURA: Yeah, it’s fine. Let’s just go.

LIAM: You know, we always take her and leave you. Why don’t we flip that?

MATT: “Just don’t tell her. She gets a bit testy when she’s not included. All right, very well.” She takes your hands. Some of you close your eyes, some of you don’t. That familiar rush of warmth underneath your stomach begins fill–

TRAVIS: (fart noise)

MATT: Your chest cavity… (laughs). Grog poots out the side and it distracts you momentarily, before you watch the ground beneath you; this line of blue arcane energy begins to link each one of your feet together in a circle. As it does, these star-like extensions begin to appear out in the center, and as soon as they all meet into one crystalline structure, there is a flash of light. Your vision goes white, and as it slowly adjusts to the daylight, this light breeze soothing you, you look around and see yourselves now standing in the Othendin Pass, which is this large rocky ravine that rides up on each side of you to these tall, cliff side edges of the very very southwest side of the Cliffkeep Mountains. This is far north of Emon. While you see the ground itself is very cracked land, you can see dry and long dead bushes, you can see bits and pieces of dead trees that have for a long time been petrified, broken over or been left without much of an actual fertile ground to exist in. You glance off to the eastern side of your direction, and you can see a very large cluster of reddish-brown trees; a forest there that has long died, or at least is definitely in the fall season type of color change. But the vegetation around here is very sparse, very scrub and in some cases very dry and dead. You do see to the immediate northwest of your current location, clinging to the side of the mountain cliff, what you assume is Fort Daxio: a massive stronghold, built of gray and brown stone, an outer wall perimeter that completely surrounds it, buttressed against each side of the cliff, and within, you can see a multi-tiered fortress structure within, built specifically for defending against any sort of army siege or incursion.

LAURA: Wow, that is way bigger than I expected it to be.

TALIESIN: That’s what I’m talking about.

TRAVIS: Can I check the skies? Anything flying around?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Hey! This will go well. Three!

MATT: You begin to look up, and you see a small bird, and it’s really small and it's really cute, and your eyes watch it, and you watch it flying off that way.

TRAVIS: (gasp) Pike!

ASHLEY: Oh lookit.

TRAVIS: What?

ASHLEY: It’s a little–

TRAVIS: It’s tiny right?

ASHLEY: It’s so cute.

TRAVIS: Yeah, he chirps I bet.

ASHLEY: It’s a little thorbilly.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Can you make thorbilly land on your finger like a Disney princess?

ASHLEY: Can I? This is so dumb. Yeah, I’m going to try.

SAM and TALIESIN: Animal handling check!

MATT: I was going to say. Make an animal handling check.

LAURA: Wow! Have we ever rolled this?

SAM: One! We have done one.

TALIESIN: We have done one?

SAM: One. I don’t remember why, or who did it.

LAURA: Oh my God, you’ve got really good animal handling!

ASHLEY: Well, all right!

TRAVIS: And you rolled a dick.

LAURA: Is it a dick?

ASHLEY: It ’s a four. Okay, nine.

MARISHA: That’s kind of a dick.

MATT: You make three (clunks) clomping plate armor. Pike steps before the bird–

[no audio]

MATT: Into the sky.

ASHLEY: It was a baby thorbilly. They’re a little more shy.

TRAVIS: Yeah, no yeah. He was very scared.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: It’s all right. Next time.

LAURA: Does it look like anybody’s in the fort looking down at us? Are we far enough away?

MATT: Make a perception check. You’re a few hundred yards away.

LAURA: Fucking shit balls. 16.

MATT: 16. Okay. Best you can tell, you do see some shapes along the top of the outer battlements; the wall that surrounds the structure. However, from this distance, you’re not sure if they have seen you yet.

LAURA: All right.

LIAM: Best you can tell, it’s shit-balls.

LAURA: It’s shit-balls up there. Just lots of shit.

MARISHA: What’s a shit-ball?

SAM: Hey, if we walk up to the fort, what’s our cover story?

TALIESIN: No cover story. We tell them who we are and what we’re doing here.

SAM: We’re dragon fighters bringing the fight to their town?

LAURA: We’re not bringing the fight here.

SAM: We are looking to fight here.

LAURA: Oh shit, we are. That’s the plan, that’s my plan

LIAM: It’s not a town. It’s–

TALIESIN: It’s a fort.

SAM: Well, whatever it is, I don’t think we should tell them that we’re dragon fighters bringing the fight to their fort.

MARISHA: Well, actually, that’s a good point. Whose fort is this?

LAURA: Daxio’s, who’s in Syngorn. No, it is!

MATT: Well, that is the warmaster, who has been assigned by Emon. This is technically where the majority of the military of Emon is stationed.

MARISHA: So this is Emon’s military? Not Syngorn’s.

MATT: Yeah, this is Emon’s military.

LAURA: And we have got Allura with us; she’s on the council.

TALIESIN: And they are at war as well.

ASHLEY: This is already going well.

LIAM: We’re protecting the world.

LAURA: Super good.

MARISHA: Well, yeah. If this is for Emon, then it’s for Emon.

TALIESIN: This is specifically where you want things to attack, as opposed to towns.

LAURA: But they might be skittish, so we should probably have a little protection as we go up there.

MARISHA: Do we have any idea on who we’re talking to?

LAURA: Dudes. I think their commanding officers are in Syngorn. For the most part.

TRAVIS: Do we need a white flag as we approach?

LAURA: Sure.

LIAM: Do you want to hold up Pike, as we walk closer?

ASHLEY: I can whip my hair.

ALL: (singing) I whip my hair back and forth. I whip my hair back and forth.

MATT: Yeah, it’s 5th-level, you can do that.

(laughter)

MATT: As you guys begin to approach the outside of Fort Daxio, you can see a number of the figures on the wall beginning to move faster and gathering at edges. You can see one of a few defensive ballistae being locked in. Allura begins stepping into the front, and she puts her hand out and says: “Don’t worry, let me do the talking for this.”

SAM: Ooh, okay!

MATT: As you guys begin to approach the gate, you hear a small horn give off this arrival notification. This: (pathetic horn noise). But deeper and much cooler sounding than that.

(laughter)

LIAM: (air horn)

ASHLEY: (air horn)

TRAVIS: Come on, man!

MATT and SAM: (air horn)

MATT: Because I am not a war horn.

MARISHA: I imagine a kid with a kazoo.

(laughter)

ALL: (kazoo)

TALIESIN: (deep and cool horn)

TRAVIS: Of all the sounds you could make!

MATT: Fort Daxio is very sparsely run right now.

SAM: All their horns were broken in the war.

MATT: They left the regiment behind with a small conch shell that is partially broken.

TALIESIN: Piggy’s got the conch.

LAURA and ASHLEY: (pathetic horn noise)

LIAM: Did we just find your Achilles Heel?

MARISHA: Horn noises?

LIAM: Man of a thousand voices: animals, creatures– can’t do horns.

TALIESIN: And no horns.

MATT: (deep and cool horn sound)

(cheering)

MATT: There you go! To make you happy.

LIAM: I don’t do horns; they sicken me.

MATT: That’s more hit points on Thordak. Just keep a tally. All right. As you approach, and begin to gather and Allura steps forward, she takes a few more steps and then stops, puts her other hand up to give you a signal to hold back. She speaks out across the expanse: “Arcanist Allura Vysoren, member of the Tal'Dorei Council, here with allies to speak with who resides within. Will you allow us passage?” There’s a pause. You hear the sound of the ballista crank being loosened. And then you see the two front gates slightly open. She puts her hands down. “Very well, walk with me.”

LAURA: They didn’t even check us out; just letting us in. Be on your guard. They’re too trusting.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: As you guys approach the gates and begin to walk through, you can see there is about 15 guards stationed above the top that all have cocked crossbows, that are trained on you guys–

LAURA: Never mind!

MATT: Not directly ready to fire, but cautiously watching you as you progress. Allura leads through, leading you guys into the main entryway, and as you walk into this front area, the pseudo-courtyard or central area between the wall and the stronghold itself, the same cracked exterior. But you can see there is a trebuchet over there. There are countersiege weaponry. Some of it unused for a while and probably in need of some level of repair. You do see a number of other armored individuals, and the armor you see on the military stationed here is much more than the armors of Emon, or any of the local guard that you are used to. These are very heavy, regimented plate, tower shields, you can see spears that are very nasty looking and very strong in construction. A lot of these almost resemble a lot of the dwarven make you saw in Kraghammer before. So whether this is an alliance through Kraghammer and Emon that came to this, or the design was borrowed to some extent, a lot of the armor is more square and bulky than the more refined armor you have seen in more southern areas of the Tal'Dorei continent. Immediately, as you step in, while the guards still have their weapons trained on you on the other side of the wall, you see ten individuals approaching, armored. You can see these individuals, their shields are large, heavy tower shields, with a goldish, circular symbol on the front that has an inlay that’s almost like a polished mirror. Like, a big old oval mirror as part of the center shield itself. As these armored individuals approach, one of them in the center has her helm off, and seems to be leading this push to greet you at that front. You see a woman, very stern look, dark skinned, very short ebony hair and a very tough, dour expression on her face as she quickly brushes up towards the front, and as she steps forward, she slams her shield into the ground, and gives a nod as the rest of the soldiers stop. She bows her head, and goes: “Allura. We finally have answer from the council. It’s been silence for weeks.” Allura bows her head, and says, “Well, General, let me introduce you to our allies here. These are Vox Machina. They are friends. They are–” And the general breaks once more into the conversation, and says: “That’s fine! So you are here with your allies. Any word from Mikael? Any word from the rest of the regiments?”

LAURA: They’re in Syngorn.

MATT: “Still? In Syngorn?”

LAURA: As far as we know.

MATT: “All right. Well.” (sighs) You see the tension that’s been building in her since she approached you guys begins to slowly fade with this sense of digesting the difficulty of the situation. There’s an awkward pause and Allura says, “Can we speak in less–” She looks up at the rest of the battlements, “–less armed circles, if you don’t mind?” The general looks up and nods. “Very well. My apologies. I am General Elle Gorgofon.”

LAURA: Elle Gorgofon?

MATT: “Elle Gorgofon. I am the commander of the Aegis Regiment and I welcome you, for the time being, to Fort Daxio. Follow me.” She turns on her heel and begins to march at a very brisk pace back towards the stronghold itself. The other soldiers turning around as well. Allura gives you all a head nudge to follow suit.

SAM: Okay! Yeah! Let’s go. This is going great. We haven’t even done anything wrong yet.

TALIESIN: Give us time.

MATT: As you’re walking around, Keyleth, Vex, and Vax, looking over the number of soldiers that are here, you have roughly 20 or so you see on the top of the wall, maybe 25 to 30 that occasionally are stepping around the base of it or the interior of this main courtyard. For the entirety of the army of Emon, the regiment that’s here, doesn’t seem to be very busy or very well–

MARISHA: Stocked?

MATT: Staffed. There aren’t a lot of people here. This regiment is not extremely large. It looks like this may be the defensive regiment that was left behind to guard the fort, when other regiments are sent out on whatever duties.

MARISHA: You said we saw 40?

LAURA: 50 people.

MATT: 40 to 50 soldiers on the outskirts of the stronghold. You don’t know how many are inside necessarily.

TRAVIS: It’s like the Alamo.

MATT: It’s fairly lightly guarded right now.

TRAVIS: Which ended well.

TALIESIN: It depends on who you ask, really.

MATT: As you guys enter the stronghold, it’s beautiful in its construction. It also looks like it’s been in some level of disrepair. It’s definitely built for function. The furniture and decor on the interior is very simple, very pragmatic. It is made for function more than presentation. You’re led through two small hallways to the right to one central chamber where there are a series of benches and chairs, whatever has been assembled to the area and pulled to the center area. It would be considered a conversation room or war room in some circumstances, but it’s very haphazardly thrown together. You also do notice that there are a couple of rooms that have a foul stench, and as you glance off to the left into the inside, you can see there are piles of folded dark material.

LAURA: Toilet paper.

(laughter)

MATT: It’s your favored terrain. But you guys are led into this main chamber.

SAM: Do we just pass by those things?

MATT: As you begin to walk by, you glance over and see it as you go.

LAURA: Can we see what it is? It looks like dark folded material?

MATT: If you want to stop and look behind, you can have a closer look. It’s a hide-type material. It looks folded, and then as you walk in, you can see it’s actually a series of piled corpses of some sort of leathery creature or creatures that have been pushed into an area there.

TALIESIN: I’m going to take this moment to change out my attunement for my gloves from my sword. I’m going to put my gloves on and unattune to my sword.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: General, how many soldiers does this fort support?

MATT: As she enters the chamber ahead of you and turns around and sits in her chair, her shield set to the side. “We currently now, as the Aegis Regiment, have a grand total of 225 soldiers.”

SAM: Pretty good.

LAURA: And how many can be here?

MATT: “As far as all the regiments?”

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: “We’re looking at, between how many survive or return from Syngorn, close to 2,000.”

LAURA: (quietly) All right.

SAM: So you have 225 here currently?

MATT: “We do.”

SAM: And how is morale? Everyone have enough supplies and ready to defend the fort if needed?

MATT: “To be perfectly honest–” And the door closes behind you as two of the guards step in front and watch it as you all find your seats or at least stand in the space. General Elle goes, “To be perfectly honest, we are very low on supplies. Any of the trade routes to and from Kraghammer have been constantly harried by wyvern riders. We’ve had to defend our location a couple times by some errant wandering sentinel wyvern riders. It’s been– (sighs) We’re on the edge of starvation.”

TRAVIS: Shit. Pardon my bluntness, but any flybys by Thordak himself?

MATT: “Thankfully, no. He would tear into this place in but an instant. We only have bits of information we’ve had from few scouts we’ve sent southward. We’ve had some conversations to and from Emon, but only half of them have even returned, and those that have say that it’s a very dire situation, so we’ve been awaiting any word we can from Mikael– sorry, from the Warmaster– and nothing. So as far as I know, and have known, we are on our own and left possibly to die while the rest of this entire country burns to the ground. So seeing some seemingly friendly faces–” And she nods towards Allura, “–is the best news I’ve had in a very long time.”

LAURA: In your Warmaster’s defense, it might be beyond his control to get back here.

TALIESIN: Things are dire.

MARISHA: Thordak is changing the entire landscape to be very similar to the Fire Plane.

LAURA: And he’s stuck in the Feywild.

MATT: “Who’s stuck in the Feywild?”

LAURA: The Warmaster, here.

MATT: “Mikael?”

LAURA: Yeah, Mikael.

MARISHA: All of Syngorn, actually.

SAM: Are we telling them this?

LAURA and TALIESIN: Why not?

MATT: “Well, at least I know that they weren’t wiped out, and that’s good news. But still, we’re not enough to even attempt an incursion on Emon by our own.”

TALIESIN: Well, that is true, and that is the purpose for our visit.

TRAVIS: We may be able to help, though. At least where resources are concerned.

TALIESIN: Oh, I would say so. We have to. That will be job one.

MARISHA: How is the land around the fort? Do you have any farm land currently?

MATT: “What little bit grows here is not of the edible variety. We have to rely on the farmlands of Emon for most of our produce, and those have dried up, so we’ve been left to hunting and slaughtering what is available, which is not much these days, as we’re constantly in battle with the giants of the north to keep some semblance of food intake to keep our soldiers fed and living.”

SAM: (quietly) We can help a little with that, right?

TALIESIN: Oh, yes. And we’ll have to.

LAURA: Maybe throw some food through a tree when we open it up, just chuck some corn.

TALIESIN: Sandwiches!

LAURA: Take some spaghetti!

TRAVIS: Could we load up a cart, though, and wheel it through?

SAM: Well, but can’t Keyleth make some farmland, right here in the fort? Little small garden sort of a thing?

MARISHA: It takes eight hours, but it seems like we might have to do some field trips anyway.

TALIESIN: The airship will be heading here anyway. We can load it with supplies as well.

TRAVIS: To here?

TALIESIN: To here. Everything will be coming here, if things go the way that we hope they will.

TRAVIS: General, can I ask, are you close with Mikael?

MATT: “I’ve been under him for 15 years, yes.”

TRAVIS: Consider yourself friends?

MATT: “Friends?”

LIAM: You’re the worst.

TRAVIS: I mean, it didn’t even take a second. Not one second. Have you no decency?

TALIESIN: I specifically looked left, hoping.

MATT: (clears throat)

LAURA: Sorry. You’ve been under him for how long?

MATT: “15 years.”

LAURA: 15 years. Long time.

TRAVIS: Pick a fight. Pick a fight with the general, then. Good. That’s good.

MATT: “Allura, are these trusted?” And Allura nods. “Very. They have a thought. More of a plan. A plan that if it works should put us in a much more advantageous position in the conflict with the Chroma Conclave. Please, give them your ear. Give them your respect. They’ve proven time and time again to be capable.”

MARISHA: Forgive us, we’ve just been through a lot, Elle.

TALIESIN: We’ve actually already killed three of the five Chroma Conclave.

MATT: She leans back in her chair. “Is this true?”

MARISHA: I reach in and I pull out one of the teeth and throw it on the table.

TALIESIN: You can’t just keep giving those away.

MATT: She catches it in the middle. She gives you a very stern look, and eyeing you over, trying to give you a read and then slowly it goes from group to group. “Well, then perhaps this is our salvation.” Throws the tooth back to you.

MARISHA: Did you see that?

LAURA: That was a good catch.

MARISHA: Thanks, guys.

TALIESIN: Before we get ahead of ourselves, our hope is that we think we can lure Thordak out of the city, and we think we can get him into a piece of terrain that gives us the advantage. We were hoping this would be where we consolidate our forces and make a stand against him.

MATT: “You wish to bring the Cinder King here?”

SAM: Not just the Cinder King. We would also bring allies to support you and to buffer your forces and hopefully with enough planning time to get you and your men back on their feet, well fed and ready for a fight.

LAURA: We’re hoping we’ll be able to bring Mikael and Syngorn’s army back as well.

SAM: Mikael’s navy.

LIAM: Yes.

TALIESIN: I hate you all. We either face him in his home, in his terrain, with his guards everywhere, with people we cannot trust everywhere, or we lure him out and we bring him somewhere where we know the terrain, where we have places to hide, where we are prepared for him.

MATT: She nods and leans forward, putting one hand over the other and her elbows on the edge of her knees on her chair. “And what makes you think a creature of such power and intelligence would ever leave such an advantageous position to be vulnerable?”

SAM: To kill us. We are the bait, and we are also the dragon killer. So he will come here to kill us, or to at least investigate our whereabouts, we hope, and when he arrives, we’ll wait in ambush.

MATT: “Very well. If you’re confident, you have Fort Daxio and the Aegis Regiment behind you. I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

TRAVIS: Oh, we do. We’ve killed, like, a number of them and none of us have died yet.

LAURA: Not even a little bit.

TRAVIS: We started with this many, and this many is still here, is what I mean.

SAM: I mean, technically, we started the day with this many, that’s for sure.

SEVERAL: Yeah.

MARISHA: What’s unconsciousness? (nervous laughter)

MATT: You can see her expression drop a little bit into a curled eyebrow of confusion.

LAURA: Three down.

TALIESIN: There’s no guarantees, but this is the best bet. This is the best place for us at this point. I’m sure you understand. There are no guarantees.

LAURA: Do you have underground facilities? Something that guards against dragon fire?

MARISHA: We noticed a few of the trebuchets when we walked in. How many of those do you have?

MATT: “Functional? Three.”

TALIESIN: We can work on that.

MARISHA: Percy?

LAURA: How many non-functional?

MATT: “12.”

TALIESIN: We can work on that.

MATT: “Very not functional. Look, siege warfare hasn’t been necessary for a very long time, let alone counter-siege. Fort Daxio hasn’t been under attack in close to 200 years.”

LAURA: It could happen. When was the last time ancient dragons took over the land?

MATT: “Which is exactly why we don’t have any dragon fire-protected subterranean tunnels. My apologies, but, you know, even our budgets are limited.”

TALIESIN: Well, we can get to work. We can get people in. We can start making this place ready and we can start making a plan. We have a lot of power and a lot of energy at our disposal.

TRAVIS: Yeah, it’s a montage waiting to happen.

MATT: “How soon do you imagine this to transpire?”

LAURA: The montage?

MARISHA: Oh, we can get started right now!

MATT: “No, I mean, call– wait, wait, wait!” She waves her hand and interrupts the montage. “Wait, wait, wait, wait.”

TRAVIS: (singing) Going to build some tunnels, make them look real cool!

SAM: It will take us a few days, if not weeks, to summon all of our allies here, and we’ll need to get your forces ready as well. Is this something that you can fully support? Would you rather fight bravely against a dragon than die a slow starvation death?

MATT: “We exist here as protectors of Emon and the Council of Tal'dorei. With the current state of things, what’s left of those things we choose and have given ourselves to protect, if we can we will. So yes.”

SAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: Well, step one is food, then.

TRAVIS: Yeah, resources and food.

MARISHA: What time is it here? Just creating farmland all over the world.

MATT: I’d say it’s midday.

LAURA: We need some source of water, too.

SAM: We have one pitcher of water whenever we need it.

TRAVIS: Yeah, baby!

TALIESIN: Actually, they might already have a well here.

MARISHA: Yeah, like a well?

MATT: Yeah, it still rains here, and it has watershed elements that come through the Othendin Pass from the Cliffkeep Mountains. It’s the ground in this particular valley, like elements of the Cliffkeep in the north, it isn’t very fertile for any sort of vegetation to take root.

TALIESIN: There’s no food you can grow underground, is there?

TRAVIS: I saw this movie called The Martian. If we shit all over everything, it’ll grow. Yeah, lots of potatoes grow from shit.

ASHLEY: Maybe if we could make a composting system for them.

SAM: So you can’t grow anything right now?

MARISHA: Can I get someone to take me to a courtyard, or something like that?

MATT: The courtyard is the area between the outer wall and the fortress itself, which is all built into the side of the mountain.

MARISHA: Can I do some sort of druidy soil test? pH test, or something like that?

MATT: Make a nature check.

MARISHA: See if I can grow stuff here? With a Plant Growth spell. Just a nature check? 15.

MATT: 15? I mean, it doesn’t take too much for you to find out that the dirt here, the land itself, is very nutrient-devoid. It is a near salt and rock land, which is why a lot of it does not facilitate–

MARISHA: Can I not fix that with a Plant Growth spell?

MATT: Do you have a spell that could fix that?

MARISHA: Does Plant Growth fix that?

MATT: Let’s read the spell.

TALIESIN: We have options.

SAM: For at least a day, I could create a soup kitchen. People could come in and take a bowl and leave.

LAURA: Could they have something with veggies, too, though?

MATT: Plant Growth affects plants that already exist, as opposed to the actual land itself.

MARISHA: All plants in a half-mile radius–

LAURA: Isn’t there something that turns the land fertile?

ASHLEY: Poop.

TALIESIN: That’s like, 5th level.

ASHLEY: Do you have horses? Lots of horses?

LIAM: But I mean, Scanlan, until we are ready to pull the trigger–

SAM: Yeah, I mean I could create a soup kitchen, basically.

LIAM: Once a day, yeah?

SAM: Sure. Yeah. We can have a bread line going in and out.

TRAVIS: In the meantime, Percy could take a look at some of the weaponry. Maybe look at building a tunnel, or a bunker.

SAM: General, when’s the next feeding time for your next shift of men?

MATT: “We’ve had to relegate it to just morning and afternoon meals to help ration our supplies. So I would say four hours til dusk, that would be the next allotted mess time.”

TALIESIN: Can this actually work? Can we use the spell this way?

SAM: What, the mansion? Sure, I think so. Right?

MATT: It’s a unique way of utilizing it, but I don’t see why not.

LAURA: It’s a Sizzler. I like it.

(phone ringing)

SAM: Oh, shit! Shit balls! I can’t–

MATT: We talked about this.

SAM: Sorry. I had an alarm to take off my shirt.

LAURA: Oh, you did?

SAM: I have to wear four shirts tonight because of reasons.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Really?

SAM: Yeah, it’s an anal thing. I’ve worn 70 different shirts on 73 episodes of the show, so if I wear four tonight, that’s one for every episode.

TRAVIS: Oh my god.

LIAM: That makes sense. That’s time well spent.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Liam and I will give you a dunking in the bathroom after the break.

LIAM: You’ll get a swirly forthwith.

LIAM: Are we going to double back to Dad?

LAURA: We have to, right?

LIAM: Yeah, soon.

TALIESIN: We have to at least send word. That’s the first thing we have to–

LAURA: I don’t know how we send word to the Feywild without going to the Feywild.

MARISHA: I can Plane Shift us there after we sleep and I learn it the next morning.

LIAM: Now that you’ve brought us there, do you think you could get us closer?

MARISHA: I could take us straight there, yeah.

TRAVIS: Percy, what do you think of looking at all this weaponry?

TALIESIN: I’m going to look at the battalions. See if I can drudge up some people who actually know how these things function and start seeing how difficult it would be to get the ones that are broken working.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Can I figure out if the ground is sturdy enough if I start digging little bunkers, that would be okay?

MATT: Bunkers for?

MARISHA: Underground bunkers for hiding from a flaming dragon breath.

MATT: I mean, you could, probably. It’s hard packed, very solid ground. Westruun, is where you did it.

MARISHA: Westruun. We did the bunkers.

LAURA: Didn’t we do underground stuff in Whitestone, too, though?

MARISHA: I did a bunker under the Sun Tree, kind of.

TALIESIN: We do a lot of bunkers.

MATT: At this point, Keyleth almost has a burrowing speed.

MARISHA: It’s like that Fallout minigame that they came out with, the app. Basically that.

TRAVIS: Do we want to crack out the mansion?

SAM: Yeah, sure. I’ll crack out the mansion. Where should I put it, General Elle?

MATT: “I’m not entirely certain as to what you’re attempting to do here.”

SAM: Oh, I’m sorry. Through magical means. We are all, not to brag, we are all super powerful. We’re like a band of traveling superheroes. One of the things that I can do is make a room or a home, a magical home, where everyone can go in and get a quick meal and then go back out to work again. So with your permission and a location, I can create this magical dwelling.

MATT: Keeping her eyes trained on you, she leans over towards Allura. “I can’t tell, is the little man fucking with me?”

TALIESIN: He gets that a lot.

MATT: Allura goes, “Usually, yes, but no, he’s being completely honest right now.” “Then, by all means, yes.”

SAM: Is there a spot where you would like your men to–

MATT: “Follow me to the mess hall.” She seems legitimately spooked and unsure what to make of you, but leads you on anyway.

SAM: Most women are.

MATT: But yeah, you can set up in the mess hall entranceway. There is a large hall with long tables and she says that would be probably the most optimal place to go ahead and set up shop there.

MARISHA: Question.

MATT: Yes?

MARISHA: Legi– logi– (fumbling words) Logistical question. That’s the word I was looking for.

MATT: There you go.

LIAM: Stuff and things.

MARISHA: Stuff and things. Things and stuff. They are low on meat because they’re low on animals?

MATT: Most of their food was being brought by the trade routes. Since then, they’ve had to hunt for food and go off of whatever stock and store they had, and even that’s running really low. They’re hard-pressed to maintain.

MARISHA: Could I do a Conjure Woodland Beings and conjure a bunch of deer?

TRAVIS: Fuck yes.

MARISHA: And then we could play shooting range?

LAURA: Do they disappear when they’re dead?

MARISHA: Oh, right. They disappear.

MATT: Yep. They would watch that meat go (poof). Sorry.

MARISHA: Oh, that’s mean. No, I don’t do that, by the way. I was asking ahead of time, because that would be mean. Never mind.

TRAVIS: Also awesome.

MATT: This one druid got to level three and then opened its own hunting emporium and never became an adventurer again.

TRAVIS: Supply for days.

MATT: Yeah! So you’re setting up the mess hall. You’re checking in to see– go ahead and make an investigation check, Taliesin, if you don’t mind.

TALIESIN: Ew. Seven.

MATT: Seven? Asking around over the next couple hours or so, it appears that most anyone who would be a specialist in any sort of siege weaponry was part of the other regiments that are no longer part of Daxio. Even so, some of the weaponry that was here looks like it was ordered partially just to get the money in. A lot of the trebuchets that are functional are very dry-rotted and have seen many rainy winters and haven’t really been kept up, and you’re not even sure if they’d fire. The ones that have broken down, a lot of the wood rotted. There isn’t a lot of weaponry. It looks like the three could be fixed up and be functional, but the ones that aren’t, it would take you weeks with new lumber and new materials to even get them remotely functional.

TALIESIN: All right, we can make do. We can make do. I will definitely start making plans for the three that are functional to get them in tip-top working condition.

MATT: With successful tinkering checks on this, with a few borrowed hands for manpower, you could probably repair one per day of work. That’s a full eight-hour day of work. So be aware of that.

TALIESIN: All right. How many more of them were disheveled and broken?

MATT: About 12 of them.

TALIESIN: And they each had their own spot?

MATT: The three that are still semi-functional are pulled back about 60 or so feet from the edge of the walls, and then the rest of them have actually been wheeled over into the corner and have all been jammed up on the edge, unused and not to take up space.

TALIESIN: Okay. That’ll start, at least. I’m going to look for any improvements that can be made in defensive measures against flying creatures in any way. If we use some Stone Shape, we can make this even more defendable against flying creatures, et cetera.

TRAVIS: General? Just because, like, I’m an inquisitive mind, what is the travel time from here to Emon on foot, on a beast? Those two.

MATT: “On foot, I’d say it would put you at about five to six days. Horseback, straight through without sleep and running the beast into the ground, you could do it in a day.”

TRAVIS: Wow. Cool. Good deal.

MARISHA: Are you trying to think of bringing back supplies?

TRAVIS: No, I was seeing if I could run there in a night and back.

MARISHA: Just to scout it out?

TRAVIS: No, I’m not fucking running over there. Are you crazy? I was just curious.

MATT: Anything else anyone else is looking to do?

MARISHA: I guess I can start on the underground bunker. For tonight, I guess.

TALIESIN: I’ll start on one of the– oh god, my brain has completely turned to mush.

MATT: Trebuchet?

TALIESIN: Trebuchet, thank you. I love the word.

MATT: Go ahead and make a tinkering check.

SAM: What are you guys going to do?

TRAVIS: That mess hall– is there a gathering quarters for the soldiers?

MATT: There is a barracks built into the stronghold where many of the soldiers sleep. Where there is a common area, with general tables, card games, and things to pass the time. There is a small library, with various books. You get the sense here as you begin to walk around and see the soldiers, since these guys are essentially the defensive reserve for Fort Daxio, and Daxio doesn’t see a lot of military action, it’s very much a train-and-wait type circumstance. And many of the soldiers, though they have grown a little gaunt in the face from lack of resources, also appear to be emotionally drained from having nothing to do. And this constant stressful uncertainty about their future fate has this air of very low morale within the fort.

TRAVIS: General, please don’t take this the wrong way. Do you trust your men?

MATT: “I do. I trust their ability. I trust that they’ve stayed with me in the face of all this opposition and believe that my orders and requests to stay vigilant in the face of such possible destruction, having been met with continued agreeance that they will follow me as needed to our end.”

TRAVIS: And there are none that you worry about, none that have expressed a lack of confidence, none that you’re keeping your eye on? Giving you a weird feeling?

MATT: “None that live.”

TRAVIS: I like that answer. Shit.

SAM: Oi, twinsies.

LAURA: Oi.

SAM: Maybe you should fly up, and if Thordak’s going to attack from the air, see where the spot is that he would attack, like a spot of weakness from above?

LIAM: Well, that’s not a bad idea. We’re thinking about tomorrow, though, as well. In the morning, yeah.

LAURA: Maybe we should pop into Syngorn.

LIAM: Could you take the two of us, Keyleth?

LAURA: But yeah, we’ll fly up. Let’s do that.

MATT: All right, so you guys go ahead and coast up, to do what?

LIAM: To see if there’s anything of use, see if there’s anything to be gleaned from a bird’s-eye view.

LAURA: Because it’s on the cliffside, right?

MATT: Yeah, if you look at the large ravine that is carved through this portion of the mountain there. From your perspective, looking at the map down this way. It is on the western side of the ravine, against the mountain. You guys coast up, looking up. Matching the very height of the mountain, the bluff that leads down into the ravine itself, and you can see over the edge the ocean of the Ozmit Sea that heads off westward. You can see a little bit of the light as the sun comes down to a sunset. You can see it glittering across the waves in the distance. You can see the little mountain range to the north of Emon, peering over the edge. And you can see a little bit of a dark spot in the very distance, over the horizon that you can gather where Emon is. You can see it from this high up. Even though it is but a small spot.

LAURA: (sings) From a distance…

LIAM: (shouts) What?

LAURA: (shouts) It looks peaceful up here.

LIAM: (shouts) Sure.

LAURA: What are we doing? Do we see anything interesting?

LIAM: Not enjoying the view, I start to look down around, is there anything?

LAURA: That seems useful, for, like, if we put something on the cliffside or something? Maybe a hideout, somewhere to hide from view, something like that?

LIAM: Is there anything we didn’t see coming up? Or is it all plain to view?

MATT: Both of you guys make an investigation.

LAURA: Almost awesome. 19.

LIAM: 23.

MATT: You guys take the next hour or so coasting along the edge of the mountain range, the top of the ravine itself.

LAURA: Is it a mountain?

MATT: There are, it is a mountain range and the ravine itself carves through a portion of it, so the right and left side, yes.

LIAM: At the 59 minute mark I fly over and sit on the back of my sister’s broom

LAURA: Is it favored terrain?

MATT: Is your favored terrain mountains?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Then yeah, you get advantage on that.

LAURA: 20.

MATT: But still. You do have the advantage at the top of these mountains of a wider range of view. It’s good for somebody who’s expecting an incursion from flying creatures. It’d be a great place to put a scout, as a warning system, should anything begin to make its way towards the fort from Emon or beyond. There are places where you could in theory drop things down the edges of the mountain that would use the ravine almost like a bowling alley, essentially, large boulders and rocks. Which is a favored tactic of many stone giants and other giants who use mountain terrain to their advantage. But beyond that, there’s no other terrain that you think would, outside of you coming up with a creative use of it, there’s nothing that is glaring to you as an advantage in the coming fray.

LAURA: We could put somebody in a hidey-hole up here. And if they see anything, they drop a stone down to a designated area and let people know.

LIAM: Yeah. They could throw out one of those flare-like gem-y thingies. Ring a bell.

LAURA: Oh yeah! We have those. A bell is probably the best idea.

LIAM: Any of those. You want to take us down? This broom always rides up my ass when I ride on it.

LAURA: Oh, because your little wings are dead?

LIAM: Yes, they are.

LAURA: All right. I’ll float us down on my ever-flying broom.

LIAM: Ow!

MATT: Okay, so you guys descend.

LAURA: I go down pretty slow to make this last a little bit longer.

LIAM: Getting close though, yeah?

LAURA: What?

LIAM: What?

LAURA: To take out all of this?

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Kill ‘em, or die trying.

LAURA: That’s right.

MATT: Both of you guys, make a perception check.

LAURA: Oh, that was so close to a one, but it wasn’t! 20.

LIAM: 22.

MATT: 22, okay. As you guys come down–

LAURA: Oh, wait, no! 26! My math was wrong.

MATT: That’s okay. As you guys come down into the bottom of the ravine you make it down safely into Fort Daxio to gather with the rest of your compadres for the evening. You at this point, by the way, Scanlan. You are currently, because you have to be present to designate anybody who can enter your mansion. You are like the one-person homeless shelter. You are bringing through soldier after soldier into there. And they all look confused, bewildered. And many of them stop and be like, “What’s going on?”

SAM: Name on the list? What’s your name?

MATT: (stuttering) “I am–”

SAM: Name?

MATT: (stuttering) “Are you–? What is–?”

SAM: Listen, man. Do you want some food or not? What’s your name? I’ve got a big list here, there’s no girl with you.

MATT: “Trevian Simtin. Please, I’m hungry.”

SAM: Do you have a plus one?

MATT: “I have a plus?”

SAM: You’re in.“

MATT: "All right!” One after another, after another. Some of them seem genuinely spooked and freaked out by the spiritual servants, and avoiding them as they go on. The smell of food hits them, though. The ever-smell of chicken cooking through does catch them. And they all seem to eventually get past their fear of the servants as the fantastic meal of relatively neutral flesh is served to them in your dining hall.

LAURA: There’s still no veggies, huh? They could probably use some vegetable nutrition.

SAM: I’m sure they boil the chicken in like an onion sort of water.

LAURA: Do they? Or is it like a chicken broth that they boil them in?

SAM: They have the fusaka now. They put a little bit of that in. Spices it up a bit.

TRAVIS: They’ve got a 300-year supply.

(laughter)

MATT: All right, Keyleth. Explain the bunker you’re building for me, if you could.

MARISHA: Should I do it on the inside? In the courtyard, make an underground pod. Think Fallout.

MATT: Right. Is it closer to the wall, or closer to the actual fortress itself, the entrance that leads to the underground pathway?

MARISHA: I imagine closer to the fortress, right? On the inside.

LAURA: Deep in there.

MATT: So you have a gradual decline near the fortress, in the courtyard, that goes underneath. And then mirrors the curvature of the wall? Or does it travel perpendicular to it and go underneath the wall?

MARISHA: I imagine we wouldn’t want to go underneath the wall.

MATT: Right, so here’s the fortress. With the mountain. Fortress, and here’s the wall around it. You’re essentially building it in the same curvature parallel to the outer wall.

MARISHA: Yes.

MATT: Okay. So you build this bunker, you take the better part of the evening, and probably the next morning or so to complete whatever the spell’s maximum effort is.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Okay, cool. I need you, with the manpower you have, possible with you, Taliesin. Go ahead and make a tinkering check. This is going to be with strength. It’s very large physical activity. This is less about your intellect or your manual dexterity, this is about tools and having to apply it. You do have advantage because you have other men helping you with this. But the DC is relatively high.

TALIESIN: That’ll do. 25.

MATT: 25, okay. While the rest of you are finishing up your events of the evening and preparing to go to sleep, Percy is working tirelessly into the wee hours of the morning. You finish, probably like two hours after midnight, with the rest of your crew sore, sweaty. But you have one functional trebuchet that looks like it could handle many, many shots within one battle and still be serviceable.

LIAM: Shirtless, covered in soot.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

SAM: He wipes his brow.

MATT: As he slowly takes his glasses off–

TRAVIS: Yeah! Takes the water skin and just–

MATT: All the soldiers are like–

LAURA: Oh, Percy!

MATT: There you go. You guys take your evening to rest. The next morning, you find yourselves awake. Spells restored. Hit points restored. Allura comes in and greets all of you. “All right, so! I can also bring us back to Whitestone. I’ve restored the teleportation spell that I had. Thus, what do you wish to do now?”

LAURA: Number one. (whispers) Never say “Whitestone” in public, ever.

TALIESIN: Around us, especially. We could still do work here. Here’s what has to happen now. We need to send word to as many people as possible that we are meeting here for the final confrontation. We have to make sure that work continues here. And then, if there’s time, while our forces assemble and things prepare, we have several things we can do in the meantime.

TRAVIS: Right. Keyleth is necessary to get to the Feywild.

LAURA: Or Allura.

MARISHA: Could I theoretically open a tree and send people in?

LAURA: To the Feywild? But how would we get back?

MARISHA: No, not to the Feywild. If we need to see someone to–

SAM: Whitestone?

MARISHA: Yeah, or Marquet. Or wherever.

TALIESIN: We have the stone, as well.

TRAVIS: So it’s going to be Keyleth and one of the twinsies go to the Feywild, right?

SAM: Can you do any plane shifting things, Pikey Pike?

ASHLEY: I don’t have it prepared.

TRAVIS: I don’t have it?

ASHLEY: I don’t have it prepared.

TRAVIS: You know, there is that fire elemental plane with the last Vestige, eh?

TALIESIN: We could. That is absolutely on the table.

MARISHA: Could we? Do we have time for that?

SAM: Sure!

TALIESIN: It’s going to take us a week to get this place even remotely ready for this confrontation.

MATT: Allura at this point, by the way, says, “A week? I don’t know if we have a week.”

TRAVIS: Why?

TALIESIN: What happens in less than a week?

MATT: “The minute that the information of Vorugal’s death finds its way to Thordak, what do you think is going to happen? Their vengeance is going to fall.”

TALIESIN: It’s going to take a few days for that to happen, to be set in motion.

MARISHA: Are you kidding? I don’t know. It could be any minute now. They’ve been spying on us this whole time. What makes you think it will take a few days?

SAM: Also, throwing it out there. If you guys go to the Feywild, isn’t there a chance that you don’t come back until a month later or something crazy like that? Doesn’t time shift weirdly?

MATT: Make an intelligence check. Add your intelligence modifier.

SAM: Oh! 18.

MATT: 18. And you could technically add–

SAM: I did.

MATT: You added your d12 to it?

SAM: Oh, no, not my d12.

MATT: You could use one of your bardic inspirations to inspire yourself, if you wanted to.

SAM: Sure, why not? I’ll do that. All right, 22 then.

MATT: Having journeyed once to the Feywild, and with the little bit of research you’ve done since then. There have been people who have been to the Feywild who do speak of some sort of temporal anomaly when traveling to and from. So yes, you are certain that there can be some sort of flexibility as to the time spent there versus the time that has transpired in the Prime Material plane. Not a sure thing, but there is some variation to that.

TRAVIS: What’s life without a little risk?

LAURA: Maybe Syngorn will have control over that. They can transfer back when they want to.

TALIESIN: Let’s see what we can do.

LAURA: They have a huge army.

TRAVIS: And they’ve got werewolves in their woods.

LAURA: I don’t know how we’ll be able to get word to them.

TRAVIS: You howl.

LAURA: All right.

MATT: Allura sneaks in a bit and says, “My only suggestion here is make sure that you do the things that are absolutely necessary for this because we don’t know when this is going to kick off.”

LAURA: Well, we have to get armies here.

MATT: “Then let’s do it.”

LAURA: That’s what we’re trying to do.

MATT: “All right.”

SAM: Well, wait. Don’t we need to send word to other places as well? How do we do that?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I don’t know how to reach my herd.

SAM: Isn’t there a big horn you blow or something?

TRAVIS: No, they wander to and fro.

SAM: You could find them, probably?

LAURA: They were wandering somewhere specific, though. Into the riverlands or something?

SAM: We can scry and find out where they are and then send someone as mist-form you, or something, and go catch up with them.

LAURA: We’ll spread the fuck out and then Thordak will attack and then none of us will be here!

MARISHA: All right.

TALIESIN: Stop rolling, that’s really disconcerting when you sit there and roll at us.

MARISHA: Well, how do we know that Thordak will even come here, by the way? He has no reason to come here unless he’s deliberately looking for us. Which we have no reason to believe that he cares to come find us.

SAM: Quick list, people. Quick list! Who do we need to contact, Slayer’s Take?

LAURA: -Ish. Yeah. Bottom of the list, because I don’t think they would–

SAM: Ravenites?

LAURA: Yes.

LIAM: Syngorn.

SAM: Syngorn. That’s a big one. That’s a biggie right there.

LAURA: And that’s a biggie because it’s also got these soldiers.

SAM: The wolf pack?

LAURA: Also there. We can howl.

TRAVIS: The Herd.

SAM: The Herd.

TRAVIS: The Platinum Dragon.

LAURA: Bahamut?

SAM: J'mon Sa Ord, sort of? -Ish?

MARISHA: We’ve got that thing–

LAURA: Yeah, we’ve got that whistle. What about Bahamut’s people in Vasselheim?

MATT: That’s the Platinum Sanctuary.

LAURA: Yeah, what about the Platinum Sanctuary?

TRAVIS: That’s what I’m saying.

LAURA: Oh, I thought you were talking about–

TRAVIS: No, no. I said the word “platinum.” I was there. And you robbed me of it. I did it right.

LAURA: Sorry, Grog. You’re so smart!

SAM: Is there anyone else who’s pledged their allegiance to us? Any other band of traveling idiots?

TALIESIN: We could ask for help from Kraghammer, as well.

LAURA: Yeah, it’s so close.

MARISHA: I could ask, potentially, my father and the Air Ashari. I’d have a hard time asking the Fire Ashari, there’s so few of them.

TRAVIS: Didn’t the werewolves want to leave the Feywild, right? They wanted out.

LAURA: I think so. I don’t know. I think they just wanted out of those woods, but– Maybe we could find Artagan while we’re there. Maybe he could pop over and we’ll have an archfey helping us.

MARISHA: We also have a 2,000 person capacity here. I mean, we can always push it and make encampments on the outside, but what’s our ideal number we’re trying to hit?

SAM: 2,000.

LAURA: A jillion. As many as we can.

LIAM: It feels like it’s a risk, but the most bang for our buck, our gold piece, is Syngorn. There’s the most people there.

TRAVIS: And as far as we remember, the people of Vasselheim. Their general temperament is Vasselheim takes care of Vasselheim.

LIAM: Yeah, that’s what it felt like when we were there.

MATT: Vasselheim and the continuation of civilization, and that being the Dawn Cradle, the city that’s existed for as long as civilization has, is to be protected at all costs. So while they do and can offer aid occasionally outside of it, not to the detriment of their own defense.

TRAVIS: Right.

LAURA: Is that it? Is that everyone?

TRAVIS: We could go talk to that Earthbreaker Groon.

SAM: Where is he?

LAURA: Vasselheim. This is a lot of different places in like a day and a half.

TALIESIN: We could write an awful lot of letters.

LAURA: Yeah. And hopefully they’ll show up like Game of Thrones at the last moment. We’ll think we’re overrun, and then all of a sudden another army shows up, and it’s wonderful!

MARISHA: Allura, do you have some way of messaging people and sending messages like super quickly?

SAM: An instant message app?

MATT: “Actually, depending on who it is.”

TALIESIN: Fassbender?

MARISHA: Fassbender. He’s with Wilhand.

MATT: “To be perfectly honest, if it’s a creature that I’m relatively familiar with, I could send it to them instantaneously. Any distance. Across the planes.”

SAM: How many people per day?

MARISHA: Across the planes?

MATT: “Across the planes.”

SAM: How many times could you do that per day?

MATT: I could probably muster it three times.

LAURA: Oh, this is major! This is huge!

LIAM: Allura, did you ever meet with our father in Emon?

MATT: “Yes, many times, actually. Yes, he was an interesting individual of the council. Especially back when Sir Gregory was with us. But they were friends. Yes, I did meet him.”

TALIESIN: Well, dwell on that one. Well, that would save us an enormous amount of energy.

MARISHA: That would be great! And me, two seventh-level spells.

MATT: Sir Gregory Fence. That was when you first came to Emon. He’s the gentleman who was part of the council. You were hired by their father to go and inspect because he went missing.

LAURA: Remember demons in the succubus’ house?

MARISHA: It’ll take me a 7th-level spell to get there, and then I’ll have to burn my 8th-level spell to get back.

LAURA: Well let’s send word to them. Then save us the talk.

MATT: “All right, so. You require word to your father?”

LAURA: Yes.

MATT: “Who else?”

SAM: Who’s next on the list?

MARISHA: Bigger allies.

SAM: The Ravenites? The Herd. What about the Herd?

MARISHA: I don’t think she knows anyone.

SAM: Well, we can describe them?

LAURA: It’s got to be somebody she knows.

MATT: “I have to have met them.”

SAM: Kraghammer?

LAURA: Have you ever met somebody in charge in Kraghammer?

MATT: “I have a number of individuals I’ve met there, yes. I cannot guarantee they’ll be eager to jump into this fray. I can try.”

TALIESIN: That’s possible, let’s put that on the possible list.

SAM: What about that town that we saved from dissolution?

TALIESIN: Westruun, they have the–

MARISHA: Westruun was decimated.

TALIESIN: They have Fassbender, they could send a soldier with the Fassbender.

LAURA: Yeah, they have Fassbender.

SAM: The Air Ashari? Do we need to talk to any of them? You could do that.

MARISHA: Theoretically.

SAM: The Ravenites? You don’t know any Ravenites, do you?

MARISHA: I was going to say, what about Tooma? Who’s the dragonborn in Vasselheim?

LIAM: Tofor!

MARISHA: Tofor!

LAURA: Wow, nice pull!

MARISHA: Do you know Tofor?

MATT: “Tofor? Yes. Tofor’s in Emon right now. ”

TRAVIS: She is?

LAURA: Yeah, she is.

MATT: Tofor is a member of the Tal'Dorei Council. She’s one of the council members, one of the survivors who is currently working with– apparently, from what you’ve heard–

LAURA: The Clasp.

MARISHA: Is the person at the Slayer’s Take Vanessa?

SAM: Vanessa, from the Slayer’s Take, do you know her, Allura?

MATT: “I’ve not met Vanessa, no.”

LAURA: Well, who do you know that’s really powerful, that also maybe has an army that could help us? Anyone you know that we don’t?

MATT: “I think we’ve tapped out most of our resources at this point! I’ve reached out to members of the Arcana Pansophical, but many of them have their own issues to deal with.”

LAURA: They’re dicks, aren’t they?

MATT: “No, they’re just busy.”

LAURA: Oh, that one guy we met, he was a real dick, though.

SAM: Any underdark-y type people? Do they like us?

LIAM: Long, white hair.

LAURA: Purple eyes. He was in Marquet. Is that what we’re thinking of? Am I thinking of a different place?

MATT: “I don’t know if he’s a member of the Arcana Pansophical.”

LAURA: Just kidding!

SAM: Let’s start with Syngorn and then see how it works, all right?

MARISHA: Have you ever met my father, Korren of the Air Ashari?

MATT: “I’ve had no correspondence from the Air Ashari. My apologies. I’m doing what I can.”

MARISHA: Yeah, no, you’re great.

TALIESIN: You’ve saved us a trip to the Feywild and back. Send word that if they can contact the werewolves, the werewolves owe us a favor, I suppose. Not that they would help with that.

MATT: “If that’s the information you need sent, that would require me to make two messages. Just to cover both those bases. To their father–”

SAM: Let’s just get the father.

MATT: “What was his name again?”

LIAM: Syldor.

MATT: “Syldor. Syldor, right. Two messages, to gather the army of Emon. And Syngorn, to return and head towards Fort Daxio.”

LAURA: Yes, if they could get pop Syngorn over to Fort Daxio, that’d be killer.

MATT: “I don’t know if that’s how the magic works, but I’ll put a message in there for that and to look for werewolves.”

TALIESIN: As part of the message, that if there’s a pack with the werewolves—

SAM: Is that vital? Should we care about that?

TRAVIS: He fucked some shit up.

SAM: All right, sure. Yeah. Why not? Second message: Bring– what was his name?

TRAVIS: Spike!

LAURA: No.

SAM: Indala.

LAURA: No.

LIAM: Michael J. Fox.

TRAVIS: Ukurat.

LAURA and MARISHA: Ukurat!

MATT: “All right. And I’ll enquire about bringing Ukurat and the werewolves. All right! I’ve got some messaging to do.”

TALIESIN: And when you’re back in Whitestone, send the airship our way loaded with food and supplies if you can.

MATT: “Very well.”

LAURA: Tell them to be on guard!

SAM: Put Kima on there, too?

TALIESIN: And anybody who wishes to come fight.

TRAVIS: Kash, Kima.

LAURA: On the airship? Or send them through a tree.

SAM: Or Zahra!

LIAM: When you write to our father, will you tell him his children need him?

TRAVIS: Gross!

MATT: “I can do that, yes.”

LAURA: I don’t know if that will help at all.

MATT: “I’ll call for Kima, I’ll bring our allies with us. Either me or Shaun have to stay behind to maintain the illusion, so your choice.”

SAM: Shaun.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: “All right, so Shaun will stay behind–”

SAM: Wait.

TALIESIN: Yes.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: That’s certain death.

TALIESIN: Staying in Whitestone is the exact opposite of certain death.

LAURA: He’s protecting everyone.

MATT: “Our purpose is to stay to make sure that they do not see Whitestone.”

TALIESIN: That is the opposite of certain death.

MATT: “All right, I’ll get these messages off.”

LAURA: Oh my god is this happening right now?

MATT: She takes two steps back and puts one finger in the air, and as it curls her eyes glaze over with crackling blue energy. And you watch her tongue click across her mouth like she’s speaking quietly to herself. Her eyes come back. “All right, I’ve notified your father, Syldor.” Once again her eyes glaze over with crackling blue energy. Her fingers trace in the air, and it looks like she’s speaking–

SAM: Quick, everyone hide when she’s doing this! So when she comes back, we’ll all be–

TRAVIS: Yes.

LAURA: She goes back we’re like–

LIAM: It’s like she’s putting on a VR helmet.

MATT: “All right.” Her eyes return. “Both messages have been delivered to your father. Who else should require a message?”

SAM: You don’t know anyone else on our list, do you? The Slayer’s Take, you don’t know.

LAURA: It might be smart to send one to Warmaster Mikael as well. I know he’s in Syngorn as well, but it might be good to have a couple of people there bringing word.

LIAM: That’s not a bad idea.

MATT: “I can do that.” With that, once again the energy crackles and you can see she’s trying to find the location of someone’s presence. It hits, and she begins to speak quietly to herself. Finishes. “Very well! The army’s been notified.”

SAM: Just one more message!

MATT: Let me see if she can.

SAM: But wait, what about the Clasp or something?

MATT: Nope! That is all that she can do. Actually, no. She can cast at a higher level, so she can do more.

SAM: The Clasp? Do they like us or hate us?

LAURA: They hate us, but–

TALIESIN: I think that the Clasp are going to be far more useful once they figure out the dragon has left the city. And I don’t even think they necessarily need to be notified of such a thing.

LAURA: If the dragon leaves the city.

SAM: All right, then we’re good for now. We just keep buffeting up this place? Do we have to plan an ambush? How does this work?

TRAVIS: We go in. Emon, right now. Full ball.

SAM: All right. You and me.

TRAVIS: Full blush.

TALIESIN: We could go to the Fire Plane really quickly.

LIAM: We’re hoping to tempt him here.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Yes.

TRAVIS: Why are you so anxious to go to the Fire Plane all of a sudden?

TALIESIN: There’s an object. It’s from the Fire Plane. We are facing a fire dragon, which means it’s something unbelievably useful or not useful at all. We need ice weapons, we need cold weapons, and we don’t have any.

MARISHA: And you think that we’re going to find those in the Fire Plane?

TALIESIN: Either that or in that ship that we left behind.

MATT: You have knowledge of dragons quite well, actually, Vex. You do know that red dragons are not vulnerable to cold, by any means. They’re just resistant to fire.

LAURA: They’re just resistant to fire.

TALIESIN: So it doesn’t matter, then.

LAURA: Are they vulnerable to anything that i know of?

TRAVIS: Insults, cheese.

ASHLEY: Love.

MARISHA: Peanuts.

TRAVIS: Bruised bananas.

MATT: (laughs) Bruised bananas.

TRAVIS: Hey, Pike! Did you know that we have all the Vestiges except for the one in the Fire Plane, and you’ll never guess what it is.

ASHLEY: What is it?

TRAVIS: What is it? I forgot.

SAM: Some plate armor?

TRAVIS: It’s some plate armor!

LAURA: Of the Dawn Martyr.

ASHLEY: What?!

LAURA: Which might be clutch for you.

ASHLEY: That might be a long– I don’t know. Allura was saying we don’t have time–

SAM: One day! What’s one day?

MARISHA: You don’t know if it’s going to be one day.

SAM: Well, when we get there we’ll find out! If it’s taking too long, we’ll pop back! These messages are going to take a while to deliver.

MARISHA: I’m not like a Wonka-vator, man!

LAURA: We’d have to spend the night there.

ASHLEY: That makes me a little nervous.

SAM: All right, one night. They’ve all eaten today. We’re fine.

MATT: As far as you know, no there is no vulnerability–

LAURA: Fuck, really?

MATT: Just fine with fire.

TRAVIS: Just pure death and destruction.

TALIESIN: Well, at least that’s a bonus in that means that anything will work as well as anything else.

TRAVIS: That’s true.

LAURA: Right.

LIAM: Can we go back to the plan about how we intend to get Thordak here? We were playing with the idea of fooling Thordak into thinking that Raishan had been killed.

TALIESIN: Raishan was going to feed him the information that he thought that we were here, and then vanish.

LIAM: And that’s it? We think that’s going to pull him out?

TALIESIN: I think Raishan will be clever enough to give him just enough to get him here.

LIAM: Do you think Raishan would be willing to let us hack off a little bit of flesh to send?

LAURA: You’d have to ask Raishan.

TALIESIN: You’d have to ask Raishan. She might be willing to let me do such a thing.

TRAVIS: Did we establish a way to contact her?

MARISHA: We have no way to contact her.

SAM: No wait! Didn’t we send her on a mission?

TRAVIS: Oh, we did! She was checking on–

SAM: She was going to bring us back some dude. And we’re not even there!

LAURA: Oh, fuck! Asum was going to come back!

SAM: To not where we are right now!

LAURA: Fuck.

TRAVIS: It was two things. It was Asoon and…

LIAM: Asoon?

TRAVIS: Bassoon, whatever. And what was the other thing?

LAURA: Some other guy. Was it some other guy?

TRAVIS: Oh, shit nails!

SAM: The last time we talked to Raishan she said, “All right. I’ll be back in a day.” And then we got out of there.

LAURA: Well it’s still a day. It hasn’t been a day yet. We haven’t spent the night here yet.

SAM: Yeah, no. We haven’t spent the night yet.

TRAVIS: Oh she was going to Emon to hold up the bluff that everything was cool was Thordak, right? She was going to bluff, and then she was also going to try to bring back Seeker Asum.

TALIESIN: It’s all right. We can head home from here. Someone has got to go home.

LAURA: Somebody’s got to go.

MARISHA: Some of us can go, and some of us can stay.

LAURA: Well, all right.

SAM: All right, I’ll go talk to Raishan.

LIAM: And you can’t leave because you’re building, or can you go?

TALIESIN: I can leave, we’ve got one working. If I stay, I’ll have two working. If I stay longer, I’ll have three working. But I’ll go where we’re most useful.

ASHLEY: But you want a chunk of her? Or like, a little piece of her?

LIAM: Something, like a claw or something to drop at Thordak’s feet. It’ll help with the bluff.

MARISHA: What makes you think that he would lead the charge to come find us? In his eyes he could just send one of his peons to come smash us.

TRAVIS: Thordak?

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: He’s sent all of his dragons and nothing’s worked.

LAURA: That’s the goal. We kill the peons, and then he comes.

TALIESIN: And the more he sends, the more we kill.

TRAVIS: What if we go mess up something on the edge of Emon, and then we’re like, “Yeah! Fuck you!” And then we take off. Or like bamf back.

TALIESIN: I don’t believe he’ll suffer that much indignity.

MARISHA: If we tell Thordak where we are he’ll probably come with that wyvern army that almost took out Whitestone, correct?

LAURA: That’s why we need to have a lot of people here. To fight them.

TRAVIS: Yeah, to balance that out.

TALIESIN: And that also means that the Clasp will have an opportunity to take back the city.

MARISHA: While he’s gone?

TALIESIN: If he leaves with his army, yes. If he leaves his army to actually manage the city–

LAURA: That’s what we talked about.

TALIESIN: Either way, it’s stretching him thin.

TRAVIS: Is it a bit of a practice round if we go to the Fire Plane? Let’s say we get there and it’s a total shit show, right? Nothing but death waiting for us. We change our mind, we leave. But at least we see where Thordak’s been all this time.

MARISHA: And the other thing that we could glean from the fire realm is possibly figuring out a little bit more about the connection he had with it and to the heart stone, ember seed thing?

LAURA: All right. Allura, can you send a message to Gilmore, or Cassandra, or Kima even? Maybe just those three. They’re the only ones who know about Raishan. Let them know that Raishan is bringing back Asum.

TALIESIN: They were there.

LAURA: I know, but just to make sure everything’s fine with that.

MATT: “I can do that, yes.”

SAM: And then we’re going to the Fire Plane?

TRAVIS: Yeah. Just give it a look-see.

SAM: Just pop on down for a bit to the basement.

TRAVIS: Yeah! I’ve got a timeshare there. It will be killer.

MARISHA: I’d like to bring Raishan with us to the Fire Plane.

SAM: No fucking way.

LAURA: No. What are we going to do? She’s not going to come.

TALIESIN: She’s not going to come to the Fire Plane.

MARISHA: She knows it better than anybody else.

TALIESIN: She’s not going to come to the Fire Plane. But you’re right, she does. If I were her I wouldn’t come.

LAURA: Would you want to go, Allura?

MATT: “What, to the Fire Plane? I mean, I can. My skills are probably better used elsewhere. But whatever you think is wisest.”

TALIESIN: We need agents on the ground right now.

TRAVIS: True.

LAURA: All right.

TALIESIN: Things need to move forward here.

LAURA: Okay, then you stay here and keep running things.

TALIESIN: If opportunities present themselves to bring more people here or to gather more allies, take them.

SAM: Let’s pop on down!

MARISHA: My gosh, you guys, the Dawn Martyr is in the City of Brass. Which I’m pretty sure is overrun with fire elementals.

TRAVIS: It’s just a “myth,” though, right? And that was probably written a long time ago which means shit could have totally changed.

SAM: Plus now we have a lot of money. We can buy our way through the Fire Plane.

TALIESIN: That works.

LAURA: Is this stupid? Are we going to die in the Fire Plane?

LIAM: I think it’s a bad idea. I don’t think we have time.

TRAVIS: Never tell me the odds!

LAURA: But there’s a Vestige there for Pike.

MARISHA: I mean, we can go. We can hit the Fire Ashari first and see if Cerkonos is there and maybe see if Cerkonos wants to help us out?

LIAM: If we’re all alive in two weeks I’d be happy to go and get armor for Pike, but there’s dragons on top of our backs right now.

MARISHA: Allura, you’re certain as soon as he finds out about Vorugal’s death that he’s going to seek retribution?

MATT: “I’m not certain, but as soon as he found out about Umbrasyl’s, that’s when he sent things looking for us near Whitestone. That was when Vorugal and the rest of the armies swept through. That was two days after Umbrasyl’s fall.”

LIAM: We’ve also totally spilled our spaghetti with Raishan. She’s not going to wait, she’s going to push things forward. I don’t think we have time.

TRAVIS: All right, Vax. Do you have a suggestion in place, then?

LIAM: I think that we talk to Raishan. These two chuckle-heads convince her to let us take a pound of her flesh, or ten. Somehow dump it insultingly at Thordak’s feet and brace for the worst.

TRAVIS: I’m okay with that, but how do we get in touch with her?

SAM: We can get in touch with her when she goes back to the place that shall not be named. But all of that is going to take days. And we can’t do that until the armies have arrived here in Fort Daxio, which could take another few days. I don’t know where Syngorn lands when it comes back to this plane. I assume it’s not next door. They’re going to take days to get here.

LAURA: The thing is, Thordak’s going to send out look-sees like he did over Whitestone, as soon as he finds out Umbrasyl is dead. It doesn’t mean he’ll launch an attack, because where is he going to attack? He doesn’t know where we are.

SAM: Yeah! And if he’s searching for us, what better place to be than on a different plane?

TRAVIS: Let’s go to a different plane.

MARISHA: Do you think he went to the place which shall not be named because Raishan tipped him off that we were there?

TRAVIS and TALIESIN: No.

MARISHA: Why did he go to the place that shall not be named, then? Why did he look there?

TRAVIS: Vorugal?

TALIESIN: It was a place to be looked at. And they flew over and didn’t see it.

MARISHA: You think they were just scanning?

TALIESIN: I do.

SAM: All in favor of the Fire Plane, say “Aye.”

SAM and TRAVIS: Aye!

SAM: That was only two! Wow, that’s pretty rough.

TRAVIS: No, that was four. They’re pansies and won’t say anything with their voice.

ASHLEY: I don’t know.

SAM: All in favor of staying say, “cooter.”

TALIESIN: That’s not fair.

SAM: Two to one.

TRAVIS: Let’s go! Even if it sucks, we can just come right back.

LAURA: We just bamf right back!

MARISHA: We can always come back. And I would like to maybe see if we could find out more about the ember seed. Fire Plane!

LIAM: I mean there’s nothing else we can do today, is there?

TRAVIS: Right. No.

SAM: Feed more soldiers.

TALIESIN: Supplies are on the way. Soldiers are on the way.

TRAVIS: Cows eat hay.

TALIESIN: Do what you can– Cows eat hay, neigh neigh. Hey! So we say.

LIAM: Gather ye rosebuds, while ye may. Vox Machina is dying.

LAURA: If you hear back from anyone in Syngorn or anyone anywhere, will you send us a message?

MATT: “Yes, and I will notify the general of these plans before I head on that way. Very well. Good luck.”

LAURA: Pretend like we were never here. Let them know. Pretend like we were never here.

MATT: “Understood.”

LAURA: All right.

MATT: “Stay safe, friends.” She turns and leaves the room.

LAURA: We are so stupid. This is going to be fun.

TALIESIN: Yes! I love it.

TRAVIS: Do we hold hands again?

MARISHA: Oh boy!

LAURA: No, it’s a tree stride.

MARISHA: Nope, well, okay. If we are–

LIAM and SAM: Plane Shift.

MARISHA: Hang on, do we want to stop off at the Fire Ashari, and pick up Cerkonos? I think it’s not a bad idea.

SAM: No.

MARISHA: We are not going to bring along our ally who knows the Fire Plane better than anyone alive?

LAURA: No, I think we should. Because they were there.

LIAM: Yeah, and you said we can instantaneously jump over, grab him, and shift–

MARISHA: Once I tree stride we can, there’s that portal there, and we can go through the portal.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah. I am a big fan of the tour guide.

MARISHA: The tour guide. All right. We’re going to tree stride to the Fire Ashari.

MATT: All right. Most of the trees near or within the courtyard of the fort are thin, and maybe like a foot to a half a foot wide, and–

ASHLEY: Get skinny, get skinny!

MATT: You did see that cluster of brownish-red forest canopy across the ravine. But that’s the only real–

MARISHA: Across the ravine?

MATT: Yeah, on the opposite side.

TRAVIS: Let’s hoof it. I need to stretch my legs anyway.

MARISHA: Well, how big was the ravine, like crossing the Grand Canyon?

SAM: How long to get there?

MATT: It’s about a third of the width of the Grand Canyon, maybe? It’s a big ravine.

LAURA: Can you Plane Shift us over to the Ashari? It has to be to another plane.

MARISHA: It has to be to another plane.

LIAM: Scanlan, can you turn us into a bunch of hummingbirds, or something?

SAM: I can turn a couple of us into some things.

LAURA: Just something little? So that we can pop to the tree?

SAM: You two can fly, right?

MATT: It would take you a handful of hours to walk to this.

LAURA: Oh, yeah. So let’s fucking do it.

TRAVIS: Told you.

MATT: At a brisk pace on foot you’ll get there in three hours.

TRAVIS: I put Pike on my shoulders because I’m getting ready for my Rocky training montage.

TALIESIN: We’ll get as many of us on the carpet as possible.

MARISHA: (groans) RIP the carpet.

TALIESIN: You should feel bad!

LIAM: I should feel bad?

MATT: All right. You guys eventually make your way to the outside of the forest here in the Othendin Pass. You can see, it’s a living forest. But the trees themselves, it looks like there was a waterfall that actually breaks down off the top of the cliff that comes down and forms a small pool. Most of it’s dried up, but the ground here is damp. And the forest does seem to exist in this climate. However, a lot of the leaves have turned and they’re hitting the delayed end of winter, a few months after the Winter’s Crest Festival. You find a number of trees that are perfectly serviceable for your spellcasting. You guys wait as Keyleth completes her ritual. You can see the tree suddenly shifts open on the opposite end. You can see the caldera itself, where the Pyrah Ashari exist on the top of this mountainous volcano. You all step through and find yourself now on the cracked, dark, ashen ground landscape amongst the various rock-like structures that house their people. You can see the Cinder Grove in the distance. Nowhere near as tumultuous as the last time you encountered it. And you now stand amongst the remaining Pyrah. You do now see the survivors that you met earlier, and a few other survivors that previously had not been found have gathered. And whereas previously you only thought maybe a little over 20 existed, it looks like maybe there’s a good 50 or 60 that actually are beginning to rebuild the Fire Ashari.

TALIESIN: We’re going to blow it up again, woo! Table flip!

LAURA: Look at that! Keyleth! There’s so many more people than you thought!

MARISHA: There’s still kids!

MATT: Like two.

MARISHA: Like two kids! One of those days they might grow up.

TALIESIN: We’re going to take like, 20 of them to the fight. And they’ll be fine.

MARISHA: (nervous laughter) Come on, kids! Have a sword!

LIAM: That’s a big “if.”

MATT: It doesn’t take you long to find Cerkonos, who at this point in time has regrown his arm.

MARISHA: Yeah, I knew he’d be all right.

MATT: He approaches now, his darkened skin tattooed, his long hair past his shoulders. He approaches with an expression of surprise and mild confusion. “It is good to to see all of you. I ask, what brings you to the doorstep of the Pyrah Ashari?”

MARISHA: Cerkonos, Thordak has taken over Emon. And in the time that he has broken out of the Fire Plane, it seems there is a certain magic that is allowing him to essentially turn Emon into a second Fire Plane. We believe he still has some sort of connection here based on the binding magic that was used on him in the past. Something called an ember seed. Have you heard of this?

MATT: “This does not stir my memory reserves. I’m sorry.”

MARISHA: Do you remember if Raishan, when she was moving in and out of the Fire Plane, do you remember her mentioning anything about it? Or anything suspicious about wanting to learn about the connection to the Fire Plane?

MATT: “There were inquiries, yes. I was surprised by one so young seemingly to be so interested in the inner and outer planes and their interactions. She found much of her time in solace in the Cinder Grove. She was not quick to pick up the druidic magics, but her research was in depth. She spoke with many elders, myself included.”

MARISHA: Where is the Cinder Grove? Did we pass through the Cinder Grove?

MATT: The Cinder Grove is in the center of the caldera. That’s the petrified forest that is surrounding where the actual tear in the boundary is. Where the Fire Ashari hold vigil.

LAURA: Wasn’t the ember seed connected to the– Didn’t we knock down some pillars when we came to the Fire Plane the last time? Isn’t that part of the reason his hold was broken?

MARISHA: It was opened more. The portal got weak when it was around the solstice.

LAURA: Right. But remember, we were here for your–

MARISHA: We fought Cerkonos, who was essentially a giant elemental. I don’t remember us breaking anything.

MATT: No, when you first came here it was part of your Aramente, and you guys just passed through the tear. And you battled Cerkonos and the other druids in elemental form as part of a test. There was some stones on the other side but there was nothing–

LAURA: Okay, maybe you just thought that and were freaking out a bit.

MARISHA: Yeah, I got a little panicky at one point. Yeah. Thordak was connected by the soul gem. And we know he busted through. You know the Fire Plane better than anyone. We are also looking for the Plate of Dawnmartyr in the City of Brass.

MATT: When you say the City of Brass, you watch his demeanor change. His arms cross, and he leans back into himself. “That is not a place for the Ashari. It is a place of tyranny and greed. It is a unique mix of those who exist there, and if you are intent on going, I am happy to escort you, but it is a different experience than we are used to, and perhaps yourself as well.”

LAURA: Is it a large city?

MATT: “It is quite big, yes.”

TALIESIN: This is the direst of situations. Extreme measures must be taken.

MATT: “The choice is yours. You have come this far.”

MARISHA: How long is the journey to the City of Brass?

MATT: “From the tear, it is about three days’ foot travel.” Your Plane Shift spell can bring you directly to a location as long as you’re aware of it.

MARISHA: Right.

SAM: We can go right there. Be right in the center of the city. Land right in Main Street, next to the Reebok store.

LIAM: I have a sweater. I’ve hidden it in Manhattan. Go find it.

(laughter)

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Let’s do it.

LAURA: It feels like it’s going to be really hard.

TRAVIS: I mean, everything we do is, right? I mean every time we’ve faced a dragon, we go find another Vestige. It feels like the rhythm is right on this. Let’s go!

MARISHA: Here’s the worst-case scenario though. We’re gone, we come back, Thordak has obliterated everything, including Fort Daxio.

SAM: Yeah, but good news. We’re still alive.

TRAVIS: We’re alive! High-five, Scanlan!

TALIESIN: The stones don’t work across planes, do they?

LIAM: The gatestones? No.

TALIESIN: But Allura’s ability to send messages does.

MATT: This is true. From what she said, yes.

TALIESIN: So if things start going very haywire, we can let her know that she is to call us immediately and we will drop what we’re doing.

SAM: She could probably figure that out on her own.

LAURA: Yeah, whatever we’re doing. Even if we’re in the middle of fighting some really big fire elementals we just–

TALIESIN: Plane Shift.

LIAM: Of course, we’d have to get a message to her to tell her that.

SAM: She would probably figure that out.

TRAVIS: Yeah, she’ll figure it out. And we’ve got an amazing tour guide. It’s set up for us. Can’t fail. 0% APR.

LIAM: You big lovable lug. I still think it’s a very bad idea. I’ll go if you all want to go.

MATT: Cerkonos turns to you, Grog, and says, “I do not mean to be misunderstanding. I will take you to the city, but I will not enter it.”

TRAVIS: Yeah. I’m good with that. I mean you’ll take us there, right? You’ll give us a couple of warnings, maybe point at something if it’s terrible, and then you’ve got to go because it’s going to mess with you?

MATT: “I am of no use in that city.”

TRAVIS: Now why is that, like you’ve got feelings about it? Or you’re afraid of it? Or you’ll be powerless there?

MATT: “Most of all of that.”

TRAVIS: Powerless?

MATT: “There are many powerful entities that exist in the city. I am not a man for cultured places.”

TRAVIS: You’ve been before?

MATT: “I’ve been near.”

SAM: Let’s just pop in, pop out, guys. What could go wrong?

TALIESIN: We’re gathering forces at Fort Daxio to fight this dragon. And if you can lend any of your power, or have any power you can send, we’d be forever grateful.

MARISHA: Do you think you could reach out to Korren?

MATT: “I could. How soon?”

TALIESIN: Soon. That is where we will head immediately when we are done here.

MATT: “All right. Then I will lead you, if you choose to go to this city. And then I will call for your father, we will send what we can spare.”

MARISHA: Well, if you don’t want to go inside, I can Plane Shift us there. We don’t necessarily need you, I guess? I mean, we need you, but I’m wondering if you’d be better here.

MATT: “No offense taken. If you wish to continue your journey, I can go and try and round up the Ashari that can fight.”

SAM: Let’s do that.

MARISHA: Do you know anything of where Thordak was held?

MATT: “I did not know Thordak existed until he tore through our people. So unfortunately not.”

MARISHA: Is there anyone here left that Raishan spoke to the most? A confidant? Someone who might have been aiding her?

MATT: “It’s hard to tell. Many who were near those discussions were slain, I’m sorry.”

MARISHA: Well, that’s fair.

TRAVIS: We’re good.

LAURA: Scanlan, will you be able to do the mansion inside of the Fire Plane? Or did you already use it–

SAM: Sure, right? I can do my magic wherever. I have no idea, I’ve never been to the Fire Plane.

LAURA: No, I mean, but did you already use it today?

SAM: No, I used it yesterday.

MATT: Correct, you would still have the ability to use it today.

TALIESIN: All right. I think we’ve done an enormous amount towards getting prepared for this.

LAURA: Does everything over there fight with fire?

MATT: “Not everything. But many things there have fire by nature. Or at least, the ability to live among it. There are many parts of the Fire Plane that you should not traverse. It would destroy you immediately.”

LAURA: The City of Brass sucks, but we’ll be okay going there, ish?

MATT: “It’s one of the few places that can support a city, so yes.”

LIAM: Kind of hot?

MATT: “It is very hot there. The longer you stay, the more difficult it is for such frail beings as us to exist.”

TRAVIS: Speak for yourself.

LAURA: In and out.

TRAVIS: Pull the trigger, travel agent.

MARISHA: Let’s do this shit.

MATT: “Stay safe. I will see you soon at this Fort Daxio.”

LAURA: Thank you so much.

SAM: This was a worthwhile trip already.

LIAM: I’m setting my armor to fire resistance.

ASHLEY: Is there anything else we need to know, to be safe, to look out for while we’re there?

MATT: “Nothing which you haven’t already seen. Just know there are many denizens there that enjoy the tyranny, so be careful. Don’t start any wars.”

LAURA: Can I say while this whole talk’s been going on, that I’ve been unattuning my coldsnap armor and reattuning my bracers of archery?

MATT: Sure. It will take you guys a short rest to do all that. Plus, with your reattune there. You guys take a short rest while Cerkonos takes a couple of the other nearby Pyrah with him and they head off towards the Cinder Grove. Presumably, to communicate with your father.

MARISHA: Cool.

LAURA: Can I ask you a question?

MATT: Yes.

LAURA: If I have two bows that are awesome, and I’m attuned to both of them, how easy is it to switch in a battle?

MATT: If you have two bows that are attuned to you?

LAURA: Yeah. If I chose to attune to the Sky Sentinel and Fenthras instead of the bracers?

MATT: I mean, it’s possible. But the idea of having one wielded and one on your back, pulling it out. You’re not proficient and fast in bow-drawing.

LAURA: It’d be an action to switch them out in a battle?

MATT: Maybe. Probably. You could drop one, but then pulling the other one out, getting it around you, arrow out. It would probably take you an action.

LAURA: Cool.

SAM: Let’s just go, man.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I’m standing there with my eyes closed and my hands out.

LAURA: Hey! That all happened in a millisecond. I was considering things in my brain.

TRAVIS: I’m showing my willingness to go.

MARISHA: Let’s go. City of Brass, yo.

MATT: All right. So focusing on the City of Brass. You all gather hands. As Keyleth concentrates, you feel the already warm air of the cauldron of this volcanic mountain. You feel a blast of heat surround you, this whirlwind of hot air that causes your eyes to close instinctually. You feel the edges of your skin, the hairs begin to curl. Your brows begin to singe. As you close your eyes instinctually, you open them again. And looking around you see a familiar broken landscape of shattered stone rock, reddish and iron-like in coloration. You see various stone obelisks that are jutting out of the ground from broken and at some points seismic earth that had been pushed up from underneath where gouts of flame occasionally spill out and burst into the sky. The air itself carries a sulfuric and ionized scent to it. You can see darkened clouds of smoke and soot that slowly shift in the distance. Way off towards the horizon, almost the equivalent of a darkened storm in the distance, except it’s a sheet of roaring fire. Just taking up an entire quarter of the skyline, miles and miles away from you. You don’t know if it’s coming closer or further away, but it’s frightening. As you glance over your shoulder, you see behind you a glimmer of whatever source of light this land takes into itself reflecting off of dozens upon dozens of reflective metallic buildings and towers and domes. And one large, dark metal wall that surrounds the exterior. You see upon this, what you assume to be the City of Brass. And that’s where we’re going to go ahead and take a break.

TRAVIS and MARISHA: Shit.

MATT: Be right back here in a few minutes!

LAURA: Oh, right! With the announcement of our winners!

MATT: It might be a little bit of a longer break, we’ll be back here shortly, guys. Be patient, see you in a minute.

BreakEdit

[break]

Part IIEdit

MATT: Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. Before we get into the game, we’re going to go ahead and announce our winners for the Critical Costumes contest we ran!

(cheering)

MATT: Once again, every costume put out there was fantastic. Seriously, you guys, it was one of the coolest things to see, a bunch of characters in our silly little D&D game realized, physically, by other people is crazy.

LIAM: It’s also, I amass everything and I couldn’t get in all the awesome, even into what we put into the slideshow in the episode and in the gallery on Geek & Sundry today. There were so many good costumes and we’re blown away by– I mean, it was a massive amount.

MARISHA: A lot came in at the eleventh hour, too, so if you didn’t see yours in the slideshow– we still probably saw, but that would be why.

LAURA: Yeah, because we’ve been looking at the hashtag like crazy.

MATT: Which, by the way, if you haven’t looked yet, go look at the hashtag CriticalCostumes and marvel at how many awesome, talented people out there made crazy Halloween costumes. So do it. We’re going to go ahead and begin with our personal choices, across the bay. You want to start over here?

TRAVIS: Sure! I chose @couple_cosplay for his white, muscular version of Grog. Grog got abs, y'all.

(cheering)

ASHLEY: I chose the most lovely and wonderful @KinnVelier. Her picture of Pike had the perfect pose, the most wonderful costume, everything was there. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

LAURA: My personal choice was @sara-rokhov! I don’t know if I said that right, but she did the costume that was closest to the outfit that we wore in the opening credits, which is really cool because I know that’s really intricate, and I saw the sleeves. There was crazy pleated sleeves happening on that costume!

MARISHA: Yeah, she got, like, real close.

LAURA: It was awesome!

LIAM: I’m going to cheat. I’m giving mine to @missbelletrist and @miss_riahne for doing Vex and Vax throwing money around and flipping daggers and climbing trees. Great photos, great costumes, great attitude.

LAURA and ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: I’m going to go with Woodson Schindler AKA @CriticalCorrupt for his Manleth. He did a bearded Keyleth.

ASHLEY: What?!

MARISHA: Oh yeah, it was legit. And his eyeshadow was on point. I just want to say. So @CriticalCorrupt, you’re awesome.

TALIESIN: Wow, okay! I’m going to go with Karin Rindevall, @karrey over in Gothenburg, for the amazing Percy being very, very busy and at work and reading.

LAURA: Upper crust?

TALIESIN: And very upper crust. Very fancy. The fanciest. So fancy.

SAM: My choice was an obvious one. It’s @cat_cosplay for the cat version of Scanlan, or as I call him, CAT Scan. And for those asking, we’re not putting up these pictures right now because we literally just picked them one minute ago, but we’ll be retweeting our current, our personal picks of the evening. So you can watch our twitters, or maybe @CriticalRole can tweet them out or something? Okay.

MATT: Yeah, well done. My personal choice is @jettiebettie who did an amazing Ripley. Not just costume and presentation, but the intensity of expression, the personality. It was a fantastic capturing of the character and the minute I saw it I was like, oh, there she is.

LIAM: Straight out of Central Casting.

MATT: Yeah, it was amazing. Awesome job.

LIAM: So those are our personal picks and we also all picked a third place, a second place, and a first place.

MARISHA: Overall winners.

LIAM: (dramatic voice) Overall winners. Here they are. Number three: (normally) @kwwins, who is also an artist for us all the time, was chosen for number three for her Minxie/Keyleth transformation pic.

LAURA: That was so cool! Good concept.

MARISHA: That was so well done.

LIAM: Number two goes to @norfrosch who did the amazing Victor with crazy eyebrows.

LAURA: So good!

MATT: Yeah, it takes a lot to shame my Victor. Not really, I threw mine together. And then that one, the day after, I saw that picture and went, “Well, damn. I lose.” It was amazing!

MARISHA: He was like, “Oh, she did way better than I did.”

MATT: It was amazing.

LIAM: And in first place–

MARISHA: We have to go to a commercial break! Stay tuned.

MATT: No.

LIAM: Loot Crate!

LAURA: Close up on all of us looking at each other like, who’s it going to be?

MATT: Oh, god.

LIAM: Yeah, so for an amazing Percy in bird mask, both an amazing photo, amazing costume–

LAURA: Amazing weapon.

LIAM: Amazing weapon, @calahammer is our first place winner.

(cheering)

ASHLEY: That one took my breath away a little bit. Rad.

TRAVIS: (singing) Take my breath away…

(a capella version of Take My Breath Away)

MATT: And a gathered round of applause for all those amazing costumes. Everyone did an incredible job. Seriously.

LAURA: And just so you know, all of you winners, @CriticalRole on twitter will follow you so you can DM your mailing address and get your wonderful prizes.

SAM: Some of the prizes include shirts that I’ve worn on the stream, some of which I have laundered.

LAURA: Oh, god. Some prizes may include part of my dice hoard.

TALIESIN: We’re going to send a weird little Halloween cornucopia of weird. It’ll be great.

MARISHA: We’re going to raid our closets. Hook you guys up.

TRAVIS: Hook it up!

SAM: All right.

MATT: All righty.

LAURA: Oh no, oh no, oh no! Okay, City of Brass, City of Brass, here we go.

TALIESIN: (singing) City of Brass! City of Brass–

TRAVIS: Nobody’s with you.

SAM: (singing) City of Brass!

TALIESIN: Thank you! Just one Doors fan.

MATT: As you guys take in the intensity of the atmosphere, looking up at the one blaring, bright sun in the sky, locked in that reddish-orange atmosphere above you, you look around as the wind picks up, the heat carrying ash and black soot through, forcing you to wince and keep your eyes somewhat closed. You immediately begin to pull scarves up in front to try and filter this aggressive and caustic air.

MARISHA: I’m going to go ahead and cast Protection from Energy on myself with fire.

SAM: Good for you.

LAURA: Yeah, right? It’s a concentration spell, or else I would’ve taken it too. You can’t do it with anything else.

MATT: Looking as to where that giant wall of fire across the horizon is, you see it begin to merge closer and closer, the edge of that sea, until eventually it comes to the City of Brass, which you see behind you– this large, amazing, vast city of various reflective, metallic surfaces. You see pointed spires, round domes, and hundreds and hundreds of these buildings that sprawl out beyond the wall that you see on the outside of it. What would you guys like to do?

TRAVIS: Before we go any farther, if we want to pull the ripcord, what does that look like?

SAM: What do you mean, if we want to go back?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MARISHA: We have to, I think, be in a fairly safe space and give me a minute?

TRAVIS: One minute.

MARISHA: Let me double check before I say that.

SAM: Are we already backing out of this, Grog?

TRAVIS: No, I’m making sure that we’re not like, “Oh, we’ve got to go! Oh shit!”

MARISHA: Nope, I lied. It’s instantaneous.

TRAVIS: But we all got to be touching?

MARISHA: Me and up to eight willing creatures who link hands in a circle.

LAURA, ASHLEY, and TRAVIS: Okay.

LAURA: What’s our Jenga?

MARISHA: Yeah, what’s our code word?

SAM: Super Jenga!

LAURA: “Super Jenga” means everybody run towards each other and link hands.

LIAM: So “Jenga” means “I fucked up, my name is Vax.” And “Super Jenga” means we have to link hands and bounce.

TRAVIS: “Duck, duck, goose” means it’s playtime.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Let’s walk into the City of Brass.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: All right. As you guys begin stepping towards this, and it is hard to gauge distance on this city’s size, even from just arriving in this place.The more you walk, the slower its arrival comes as you begin to take in the sheer immensity of its sprawling expanse. You see little occasional bursts of flame off from the opposite side of the wall, some small shapes coasting over, a little glow pass. And as you get close enough, I’m going to have everyone roll a perception check.

TRAVIS: I got this, you guys.

LAURA: 27.

MARISHA: 25.

TALIESIN: 15.

LIAM: 27.

TRAVIS: 12.

SAM: Bullshit over here.

ASHLEY: 21!

TRAVIS: 12.

MATT: Okay. Keyleth, what did you get?

MARISHA: 25.

MATT: 25, and you got–?

TALIESIN: 15.

MATT: All right, so Keyleth and the twins. You guys, looking ahead, you’re beginning to see these darkish shapes moving towards the edge of one of the first gates that you notice amongst the reflective surface of the outer wall. It is a solid door, like two large doors that are affixed to each other with a cross-chain circumstance. You see six figures currently mounting, shifting, and walking along the side of the wall. As you get closer still you can make out: they look humanoid: two arms, two legs. It’s hard to make out their size in respect to where you are, and in paying attention as you approach you do notice that some of them have varying shades of colored skin. They wear loose silk outfits: wide, baggy air-filled pants with long robes or vests that dangle below. Muscular. The skin on a few of them appears to be deep crimson or orangish-red. Two of them, the skin actually almost goes to more like a black, a deep soot and ash color. You begin to see more details in the skin. You see horns and large fangs from underneath. You see large, scimitar-like blades to the side. You’ve seen one of these creatures before. It emerged from the tear in the Fire Plane last time you were there. There are six efreeti that are currently standing guard outside of the gate to the city.

LIAM: Genies.

LAURA: Basically. They’re really powerful.

ASHLEY: They’re very smart.

SAM: Think we can talk to them?

TRAVIS: Yes, let’s parlay.

LAURA: Should we go and talk to them?

TRAVIS: Only one should talk.

SAM: Why are you all looking at me?!

LIAM: Because you have the gift of gab.

LAURA: You are really good. Go talk to them, Scanlan. Be super cool.

SAM: Greetings! Hello! Hi there!

TRAVIS: Oh shit, you’re doing it.

MATT: As you say this haphazardly from the distance, you see three of them all of a sudden, their attention right over in your direction. Two of them immediately begin to lift up off the ground and their legs vanish into a plume of flame and smoke as they (whoosh) almost like rockets in the sky, heading over in your direction. The other one goes into a run towards you.

LAURA: Oh, Jesus!

SAM: Are they attacking?

LIAM and MATT: You don’t know.

LAURA: I keep a hand on the bow, just in case.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY and LAURA: Steady.

MATT: As you all very nervously sit there and wait, the two that are cruising through the sky go slamming into the ground to the immediate right and left of Scanlan, not far from you guys, leaving these small craters. The flaming smoke, the lower portion of their body poofs outward, scattering ash as you see now their legs, muscular and thick like trunks of reddish-black muscle. They both stand and glance downward at this tiny little gnome by comparison, each of them standing about ten to 12 feet in full height.

LAURA: Oh, fuck!

MARISHA: The efreetis?

MATT: The efreetis.

LAURA: They’re so big.

MATT: The one that’s running eventually catches up to you and slows his gait and puts his hands behind his back, puts his chin up, and begins walking. You can see now he has these two long tufts of black hair that are braided into this long braid that floats gently as the heated breeze continues to blow past you. As he begins to approach, he looks out among the rest of your group and then down at this tiny gnome that has stepped up to greet them.

SAM: We request passage into your city.

MATT: “What is your business?”

SAM: We are travelling salespeople and we are here to sell our wares.

MATT: “What wares are you here to sell?”

SAM: One item in particular, which could be of much value to the people in your city.

MATT: “Then show me this item of value.”

SAM: I don’t think you want to see it.

MATT: “Then you don’t want to enter the city.”

SAM: All right. It’s a pet of ours that we’ve been travelling with. It’s right back there. And I point behind us to an empty space.

MATT: He glances over towards the empty space.

SAM: You don’t see it? Oh, I forgot. We’ve made it invisible. Let me drop the spell. And I will cast Major Image, and I am making a goristro, right behind us, that looks a lot like Yenk because that’s the only one I’ve ever seen.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Oh, I love you.

SAM: 20 feet tall, snarling, growling, just a fucking nightmare.

MATT: Okay. So is it just standing there snarling?

SAM: Yeah, looking real mean and ornery with spit coming off of him.

MATT: Okay. All right. At this point, the three efreeti are glancing in that direction. First off, go ahead and make a deception check.

LIAM: This is the weirdest day.

LAURA: Ever.

SAM: 28.

MARISHA: You don’t think the day when we were cows was far weirder? That was pretty weird.

MATT: They glance over. They all very intensely inspect from a distance this goristro that has now appeared, that is snarling approximately how far away from you? The range is 120 feet in the spell.

SAM: Let’s say 60 feet back.

MATT: All right. The central one looks to the efreet to his left, or to the right of you, gives him a nudge, and that efreeti– that efreet begins to step away.

SAM: Ah, ah, ah! You don’t get to touch our pet. Please allow us entry to your city and we will find someone who can afford to touch him.

MATT: “Hmm.” The efreet that you halted takes a few more steps, not paying heed as the one that’s in front of you goes, “So you’re looking to sell this as a servant. This beast will work as a servant, or does it work in servitude?”

SAM: It works for me, for the moment, and I can get it to work for someone else for a price. But if your man goes over there, he’s going to die, because I will tell my goristro to kill him.

MATT: “Hmph. It is rare to see something so small able to control something so vicious and dangerous.” And you see him leaning in now, closer to you. You see these tiny little burning beads of red flame as the center of his eyes, against a black iris. You see, as he gets closer, the grin begins to curl across the rows and rows of sharpened, white, gleaming teeth. He says, “You, such a small, easy-to-crush creature, can seem to hold dominion over something that exists in places that would rend your mind asunder.”

TALIESIN: I reach into the bag, and I’m going to grab a little chunk of dragon and a chunk of the previous goristro that we still have some bits of, and drop them in front of him on the ground.

MATT: (dull thud) (sniff)

SAM: Those were my other pets.

MATT: (slurping) (spitting) He throws them to the ground. He begins speaking in a language that you don’t understand. It sounds very much like the slow, rolling fire-bursts of magma pouring down the side of a mountain.

LAURA: What is it?

MARISHA: Can I recognize it, as a druid who has spent time as a fire elemental?

MATT: You recognize the type. It is the same language spoken by the fire elementals, but you do not speak the language. But the efreet that stepped away has stopped and is taking a moment to look from about a 40-foot distance from the goristro.

LAURA: (distressed sounds)

MATT: (loud sniff) And begins walking back toward the other efreeti. The one before you, whose face is still up in front of you, is reading you. His head is about the size of your entire body. And he goes–

SAM: I’ll put my hands behind my back and stand up a little taller to meet him.

MATT: “If you wish to walk the city, then pay the toll.”

SAM: How much would the toll be?

MATT: “How much do you think the toll is worth?”

SAM: Vex?

MATT: “If the toll is insufficient, and I find offense at the offer, then you will have bigger problems than entry. But generosity goes a long way.”

LAURA: So like, money? Is it money, then?

SAM: The money that we carry with us is from a far-off land. Will it still be good here? It’s gold and platinum.

LAURA: Or would you rather gems?

MATT: “Gems are good as well. Money is money. We work and deal with many creatures from many places here. What do you offer?”

LAURA: Should I just, you know what, fuck it? I’m going to put the 20-pound bag of gems in his hand.

MATT: He takes it and closes the fingers of his hand around it, then shakes it a little and listens.

SAM: 20 pound?

MATT: He begins to pour the gems out. He takes a very keen look at them–

TRAVIS: Who are you and what have you done with Vex?

LAURA: The world is fucking ending, you guys. How else am I going to use these things?

SAM: Who are you right now?

MATT: He pulls the tiny drawstring taut once again. “May you enjoy your time in the City of Brass. Now, I suggest your wineskins be full.” And he turns around and the efreeti all begin to walk away towards the entrance to the city.

SAM: Loudly and conspicuously I say: Stanley, invisible! And then he poofs away.

LAURA: Scanlan, I think you let a little bit of scry on the ground there.

SAM: Let’s just get in the city and buy me some new pants.

TALIESIN: I pick up the dragon scales and put them back in the bag.

LIAM: (Stan Lee voice) Greetings, true believers!

TRAVIS: We pick up the dragon parts and we move into the city.

TALIESIN: That was a very good call.

LAURA: Fuck.

SAM: I throw up a little.

ASHLEY: You did really well.

TALIESIN: Always tip the doorman.

LIAM: I’m patting Scanlan on the back and wiping his mouth.

SAM: Great, now we’re inside this stupid city. Now what do we need to find, a wall?

MARISHA: No, we have to– hang on. Let’s do a quick refresher on the impossible needle we have to find in this haystack.

LAURA: Oh, wait! Because I took a spell.

SAM: A 'Find Item Anywhere’ spell?

LAURA: Locate Object.

SAM: Holy fucking shit.

MARISHA: Hang on, hold. I brought that spell as well.

LAURA: Oh, okay.

MARISHA: It has to be within 1000 feet. 1000 feet isn’t a whole lot in this really large metropolis, correct?

TRAVIS: We go to the front door, we do it once, go to the middle, we do it again. Totally covered.

SAM: If you guys go 2000 feet apart, that’s essentially a mile spread.

LAURA: Right? How many miles is the city?

MATT: You have no idea, you haven’t walked inside! You’ve got no idea.

TALIESIN: We are walking towards the door. What do we know?

MARISHA: So wait, there’s a Beacon of Protection for the Chosen of Pelor. It is gathering dust on a wall somewhere in the City of Brass. It was a trophy won by a fire giant in a card game from the Suutan bloodline that once donned it.

TRAVIS: Fuck. We got to go find–

MARISHA: It could be hanging on a pub wall somewhere, correct.

TRAVIS: No, it’s a trophy. It’s too valuable to be in a pub.

MARISHA: Do we know where fire giants might hang out? Or anything about the Suutan bloodline?

TRAVIS: It’s on somebody’s wall as a trophy.

LAURA: Maybe we should ask somebody.

MARISHA: I mean, it could be in a noble’s house, for all we know.

LIAM: Do we see anyone who looks remotely like us, who’s not from the Fire Plane, here?

MATT: Well you’re just now approaching the front gates where the six efreeti currently stand. As the three that have returned, the central one takes his hand up and does this with his finger. And as he does, you watch as the criss-cross chains that hold the gate shut suddenly shift, and you watch dust and ash get shaken free from the chains as they’re all suddenly pulled upward through these rings to the very top, and the doors shift open very slowly, giving just enough space for people of your physical width to pass through. Grog, you have to squeeze a little.

TALIESIN: Good sir, one question before we enter your city, since you are such a good friend and we look forward to possibly being friends again someday. Where would one find people who enjoy the sport of watching large creatures battle? If you could think of such a thing?

MATT: (laughs) “Welcome to the City of Brass.”

TALIESIN: I love your answer.

MATT: As you guys walk in, the doors close behind and you watch as the chains that were pulled free, that now dangle loosely, automatically, on their own, strike up like snakes, instantly, and flash back through on the other side. You can hear them retying themselves between the ring-loops to seal off the doorway once again.

LIAM: We are in a city where everyone is going to despise us.

LAURA: Not necessarily. Act really fucking tough, dude.

MARISHA: Yeah, everyone wants to kick our ass.

TRAVIS: Should we get some jail tattoos before we continue?

SCANLAN: I can make us all look really rough and ragged.

TALIESIN: I think there’s a lot of magic here. Well, no, let’s–

MATT: So as you say “let’s” and it trails off, you all take a moment to look into the city around you. Marquet offered Ank'Harel, a very beautiful city of ornate culture. This city has been around far longer, and has been constructed by far more intricate artisans since. You see hundreds of buildings of different sizes, all constructed from various types of materials, many of them metallic and brass or bronze in color, reflecting the ever-present sunlight from the sky. You can see buildings carved from dark black obsidian. From other forms of darkened stone you can see natural rock formations of blackened rock and stone jutting outward, where, crafted from that, you can see communities of maybe dozens of buildings and homes that have been constructed from it. You can see towers that are impossibly high, hundreds of feet up in the sky, some broken from previous conflicts and never constructed since. You can see a series of streets that intertwine out before you with these tiny little cobblestones that all seem to have a matching, ruddy, brownish earth tone with a dusting of ash and red earth scattered across them. You see throughout here human beings occasionally. You see dozens upon dozens of efreeti, walking around, crusted with jewelry and wearing fine robes and linens. You can begin to notice quickly that many of these efreeti walk along with some of these humans, these humans walk at their sides, some in chains.

ALL: Oh, shit.

MATT: You can see a number of individuals pedaling small carts through, also in comparable levels of enslavement. But not all are enslaved. There are individuals from other areas you’ve never recognized, various features. You see two humanoids that walk around by themselves, their features are human but not. There’s something about them that’s a little off, but you can’t quite pick up what, and they walk off in the distance. There is a gathering of many cultures that make their way through here, but definitely the dominant culture here appears to be one ruled by the elemental fire djinn that you’ve already encountered.

LIAM: The servants, the humans, and I don’t know if there’s any elves, dwarves, halflings, or anything in the mix, but people who are not from here, how does their health appear?

MATT: Fine, if perpetually uncomfortable in the current weather, which is, for the record, we’re hitting somewhere between 110°F to 120°F in the air at all times here. I’d say, actually, in fact, at this time, I’d like everyone to make a constitution saving throw.

MARISHA: Do I get advantage because of the fire resist?

MATT: You’re fine. And actually, you having fire-resistant armor, I would say you do not have to make it, Vax. You feel naturally more comfortable in here based on the resistance you’ve given your enchantment.

MARISHA: Do I have to roll? Or am I good to go?

MATT: No, you’re fine.

TALIESIN: Six! I’m going to use one of my Resolves.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: And slightly better: 15.

LAURA: 15.

ASHLEY: Seven?

TRAVIS: 19.

MATT: Okay. For the time you’ve been here, it’s been an unwelcoming atmosphere, but not one that has been so harsh as to press down upon your physical constitution. You all seem to withstand the current atmosphere for now, but you do gather that the longer you are here, the more difficult it will be to endure this atmosphere without detrimental effect.

MARISHA: I meant to note I wanted to put my Ring of Protection on and put the cloak away when we took that short rest. I don’t know if I said that out loud.

MATT: You did not say that out loud

MARISHA: Can I do that now?

MATT: Sure.

MARISHA: And it takes some time.

MATT: It’s fine. So what do you wish to do now that you’ve gained entry into the City of Brass?

LAURA: Let’s find that armor.

TRAVIS: Keep walking. Let’s keep walking and see what we see.

LAURA: Yeah, we walk the fuck forward. Should we get a little farther into the city or should I cast it right now?

TALIESIN: I think the city’s huge.

MARISHA: Hang on, how long does that spell last?

TALIESIN: That’s the other question.

MARISHA: Grog, could you recognize fire giants if you saw one? Are they akin to stone giants?

TRAVIS: I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.

MATT: You have not seen a fire giant in person in all the time that you’ve spent on this plane.

TRAVIS: I bet I can pick it out, though, if it’s giant and it’s made of fire.

MARISHA: And you’re like, that’s a fire giant. All right, yeah, totally.

TALIESIN: Ten minutes– and the other question is if you can change into a flying creature.

LIAM: Are there any humans around right now who look like they’re not slaves? Who look well-off, relatively?

MATT: Right now, you have not encountered any. You’ve literally just walked into the city and this is your first glance at the first street that you’ve encountered. As you guys begin to walk farther into the city, one thing that you do notice, too, is there are these stationary torches that meet at various crossroads. And at the top of these torches there is a ball of flame that is flickering and shooting off spurts here and there, and every now and then you hear one go (flaring) in the distance and that’s what you were seeing on the other side of the wall. These flames cause this dancing light source effect throughout the entire city due to the vastly metallic nature of the building construct here. And so as you–

SAM: Sorry.

LAURA: Oh, wow. That might be the worst shirt you’ve ever worn on the show.

SAM: Yeah, I’m out of shirts, guys. 74 fucking shirts. How many do I own? 74.

LIAM and LAURA: Wow.

LAURA: You’ll be shirtless.

LIAM: I’m bringing you a new shirt for your birthday, man.

TRAVIS and ASHLEY: “Okay, I farted. It was me.”

LIAM: Holy moly. Bring it back, people. I’m specifically looking for a human who is not a slave, who looks reasonably well off.

TALIESIN: I’m looking for social gatherings, pubs, and otherwise.

MARISHA: I’m going to talk to Vex as soon as we get a hot second, whenever that falls.

MATT: Okay, so as you guys are walking, keeping your eyes out before yourselves, you guys engage in conversation as you continue into the city.

MARISHA: All right, so we both have the Locate Object spell. It lasts for ten minutes and we can both fly. We could both cast it and maybe do like a perimeter run, maybe?

SAM: Wait, how long does it last?

MARISHA, LAURA, and TALIESIN: Ten minutes.

SAM: We can get a long fucking way in ten minutes.

MARISHA: Yeah, if we’re flying.

LAURA: As long as, you know, nothing attacks us. Right. That’s clutch.

MARISHA: Well, I could also potentially Polymorph into something or Beast Shape into something that– Has there been any type of creatures?

LAURA: Flying creatures here?

TRAVIS: In the air?

LAURA: Maybe wyverns or something?

MATT: You haven’t seen any, at the moment. You have seen, so far, efreeti being capable of flight, both from your previous encounter and the two at the gate that just jettisoned off in your direction before landing.

MARISHA: Okay, are they considered humanoid-ish? To where I could Alter Self to look like an efreeti?

LAURA: A teeny, tiny efreeti.

MARISHA: Teeny, teeny efreeti? No?

MATT: No. From your Alter Self ability? No. They are far too different in size, physiology, and appearance to pass off as an efreet.

MARISHA: Are there any humanoids like, like–

TALIESIN: A fire elemental?

MARISHA: Or like dragonborn, or like what’s the thing that Zahra is? I’m drawing a blank right now.

SAM: Wyverns? Lizardpeople?

LAURA: Tieflings?

MARISHA: Tieflings, are there like any tieflings around?

MATT: You can keep an eye out as you continue walking forward. You don’t see any yet.

MARISHA: I want to look for the most unsubjugated humanoids.

MATT: Okay, so you keep an eye out as you progress. And you’re looking for–?

LIAM: Anyone who looks like they’re not a servant, who looks like they’re maybe getting by well.

MARISHA: Yeah, kind of the same thing.

MATT: Okay. Continuing farther into the city. This whole city has this vibrant life to it, from the way it reflects light from the ever-changing, flickering skylight from the sun, to the flames that adorn every single conjunction of roads that make their way through the city, to occasionally, you will see cracks in the ground where a flame will flare out then retract within. Go ahead and make a perception check.

LAURA: Can we also keep an eye out for anything flying? I want to see if anything’s flying around the city at all.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: 22.

MATT: 22. No more than maybe five minutes into your walk into the city, you do notice two efreeti have begun to follow you from about 20 feet behind. They’re both walking and talking to themselves, keeping an eye on you guys. Well, they’re about 25, 30 feet behind. As you continue walking forward, you do bring your attention ahead and at the next street junction, which is more like two alleys that collide, you do see two individuals that walk out. One of them is a similar humanoid as to the strange-looking ones you saw go walking by there. They have a thin figure, sallow, elongated features, their hair is wild and red and stringy and upward behind them. Their eyes tend to have a non-human appearance to them, the iris a light-orangish color. They have long white and gold robes and are walking alongside a tiefling of similar red skin to the color of the efreeti here, with deep gray, long hair that goes behind a ridge of horns that curl into almost like ram horns in the front, and the long, gray hair extends to the mid-back. They both walk along side by side, their arms within their robes– both are wearing matching white and gold robes– and they each step out from the alley and begin to walk ahead of you guys about 60, 70 feet.

LIAM: So it’s these two strange beings with strange eyes and a tiefling.

MATT: There’s one entity that’s the strange being and the other is a tiefling.

LIAM: Oh, okay. So one is one and one’s another, thank you. I’m going to walk up to the tiefling, like ten feet away. Excuse me! Sorry, can I trouble you for a minute? I’ve just come to town. I know, that sounds ridiculous, it is, I’m a stranger in a strange land. Could I borrow you just for a minute?

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

SAM: I just got to hell, haven’t even unpacked my bags–

LAURA: No warning, huh?

LIAM: That’s a 20.

MATT: 20. They both turn and look towards you with a curious glance. The strange, alien-looking one gives a half-cocked grin and shakes his head. The tiefling looks you over for a second. “Stranger, I mean you no offense, but–” And as he looks past you at the rest of the group walking behind you. “You know what, follow me.”

MARISHA: Oh, shit.

TALIESIN: Well, here we go.

MATT: They both continue to walk in the direction they’re walking.

LIAM: They’re together, right?

MATT: They’re together, but they face away from you. He’s just, “Follow me.” And they both continue walking ahead of you guys.

LIAM: All right, so I trip along behind them, and then I turn around and to the group I go–

TALIESIN: I’m all right with this. This is a great way to die.

SAM: We’re following along behind them.

LAURA, ASHLEY, TRAVIS, and MARISHA: Yes.

MARISHA: Can I do like an insight check, like size up this tiefling from a distance and see what they might be about, get any idea about what they might do or be?

MATT: Go ahead and make an insight check from what very little bit of body language you can see. It’s going to be very hard to read anything.

MARISHA: That’s really bad. That’s the Gil dice. 15.

MATT: 15? Unfortunately, at the distance that he was from you, about 60 feet or so, and what little bit time he was faced away– his interaction with Vax was so short, it’s a blank slate. Nothing you can read off of him.

LAURA: Are they looking and talking to each other at all?

MATT: They’re not talking to each other, they’re looking, facing away from you, and walking the same pace they were. However, Vex, since you were looking up in the sky, you do see, for a brief instant, a large, avian-like entity–

LAURA: What does “avian” mean?

MATT: Bird-like.

LAURA: Oh, got it.

MATT: –but massive. And it looks to leave some sort of flame-like trail behind it as it (fiery whooshing).

LIAM, LAURA, and MARISHA: (whispering) A phoenix!

ASHLEY: What!

LAURA: Harry Potter!

TRAVIS: Fawkes!

MATT: Make an intelligence check.

LAURA: Okay! Oh. Intelligence?

MATT: Yes.

LAURA: Ew. Eight?

MATT: Eight? Yeah, it’s a flaming bird!

LAURA: That’s a fucking bird, y'all!

MARISHA: So they have birdies.

SAM: So is it one of those– what were they called, Ashley?

LAURA: Ah! Natural 20 on the–

ASHLEY: Always.

MATT: Just don’t do that because it doesn’t matter! All you’re doing is killing yourself, Laura!

LAURA: Every time.

MATT: All right, as you guys continue to follow these two–

LIAM: Yeah, where are they leading me?

MATT: Do you guys keep the same distance? Do you catch up with them, do you stay behind, what are you doing?

SAM: How far back are we?

MATT: You’re about 60 feet behind them.

SAM: Someone should–

LAURA: Get a little closer.

LIAM: I’m going to wave them away a little bit.

TRAVIS: I think we’re cattle. I’m going to lag. I’m going to drop another 20 feet back from the group.

MATT: Okay. As you drop back from them, you come pretty close to the two efreeti that are following you from behind, and one of them puts his hand out and grabs you by the shoulder and pats you and goes, “So friend, you are–? You are–?”

TRAVIS: What?

MATT: “Who are you?”

TRAVIS: I can’t hear you.

SAM: Oh no!

TALIESIN and MARISHA: No.

MATT: Make a deception check.

TRAVIS: 17.

MATT: “Heh. I like this one. We’ll keep him.” And he pats you on the shoulder and they both walk–

TRAVIS: Hey! And I smash the Titanstone Knuckles together and I cast Enlarge.

MATT: Okay! You guys hear what sounds like a small crack of thunder behind you (thunder crack sound). As you glance over you can see Grog has swollen to his enlarged size and is now walking shoulder to shoulder with the two efreeti that began to flank from behind. They both take a step back. “I double down on my statement. We keep him.” And they keep walking shoulder to shoulder to you. They’re not doing anything, they’re walking shoulder to shoulder.

MARISHA: I stop and turn around and wait for them to catch up.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: Oh god. I hang back as well.

MATT: All right, so you guys, hanging back–

LAURA: I’m going to try to keep a little closer to the two in the front and try to see if I can overhear their conversation at all if they talk.

ASHLEY: I’m going to hang back until they come up.

TALIESIN: I am not hanging back; I am right in the middle. I’m trying to, like, be that middle point that keeps everything connected.

LAURA: This is like when your friends start to drink at the Ren Faire and you’re like, should we keep going forward, or what do we do, do we wait?

MARISHA: We’ll meet you at the axe-throwing, just go ahead.

LIAM, TALIESIN, and MARISHA: To the oubliette!

LIAM: Just put it all out on the table.

TRAVIS: So are they keeping pace with me, or are they standing next to me?

MATT: They’re keeping pace with you as you’re walking. You’re walking shoulder to shoulder as the rest of you begin to slow down and catch up except for Vex, Vax, and Percy, who continue forward. We have Pike, Keyleth, and Scanlan beginning to catch up with Grog, and as you guys eventually get to the point where you’re walking slow enough that the two efreeti catch up behind you, they keep walking with you.

MARISHA: I light up my flame hand and I turn to one of the efreeti and I go: Fist bump.

LAURA: Oh no.

MARISHA: Pound it, man. Pound it.

MATT: Make a persuasion check with disadvantage.

LAURA: Oh, it’s at disadvantage. Come on, Keyleth!

LIAM: Roll high, come on.

MARISHA: What did you want? Persuasion?

MATT: Persuasion.

MARISHA: Ten.

MATT: He looks at your fist and flicks it. It does sting a little. It doesn’t do any damage but the flame goes out. In fact, it’s strange. Normally the flames would stay, but it’s almost like he willed the flame in your hand to extinguish.

LAURA: Oh shit.

ASHLEY: I have a question for one of you fine gentlemen.

SAM: Oh boy, we’re all getting in it.

MATT: The other one on the other side of Grog, that wasn’t interacting with Keyleth, grunts. “Hmph.”

ASHLEY: Do you guys–?

SAM: (imitating efreeti) We’re both women.

ASHLEY: Oh, I’m so sorry. Anyway. Do either of you happen to know where the temple of Pelor is?

MATT: They both slowly look at each other and grin. And slowly nod their heads.

ASHLEY: You do!

MATT: They turn back and one of them goes, “Yes, we do, actually. Would you like us to take you there?”

ASHLEY: You can just show us where it is. I think there’s going to be a couple more spots we’re going to stop.

MATT: “You seem like you are not from around here. It is dangerous to wander these streets unaccompanied.”

ASHLEY: Well, I got this guy.

MATT: “This one?”

TRAVIS: Yeah! Hi!

MARISHA: Man, we’ve been here five minutes.

MATT: He extends a hand next to you, a very large hand, and he says, “Come. I will carry you to your destination.”

ASHLEY: I don’t like to be carried. I don’t like to be made to feel smaller than I am, thank you.

MATT: “Then let us continue to walk. We will want to take a left at the next big juncture.” They both keep walking alongside the two of you. While this is happening, you guys are keeping behind and glancing over your shoulder and seeing the rest of your party slowly gather at the knees of these two walking, haughty-looking djinn.

LIAM: (clears throat) Yeah, I was hoping for a little bit of advice about town. This is starting to feel a little kinky. Where are we going? I don’t need to talk that bad. Where are we going?

MATT: This is to the tiefling?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: The tiefling looks over his shoulder towards you and goes, “We are going to– (groans). All right, this just got very– If you look ahead, one alley, we are going to dart to the right. Follow, quickly.”

LIAM: Follow you to talk right now?

MATT: “Yes!”

LAURA: Okay. I go.

MATT: So they begin taking up their pace a little bit, quickening their walk, almost like a light jog.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Do you guys keep up?

LIAM: Yeah. What the fuck are we doing?

LAURA: I don’t know, I don’t fucking know!

MATT: Okay. You guys look ahead and you see the other three members, the rest of your party, beginning to get farther away from you at a faster pace.

LAURA: So it’s me and you. Are you coming? Are you still in the middle?

TALIESIN: I’m keeping pace, but I’m trying to be at the back end of it. What’s happening?

LIAM: Percy, we’re going to go in the alley up ahead to the right.

LAURA: Dart to the right.

TALIESIN: Well, all right.

MARISHA: I’m going to keep pace with Grog.

SAM: I’m with them, yeah.

TRAVIS: (exclaims) Just trying to be even simpler than I am. Maybe then they won’t want me.

MARISHA: You’re probably making it worse.

TRAVIS: Oh, no.

MATT: Okay. Following up at pace with them, you get past a couple of small intersections and the two figures dart off into this small alley, right off to the side.

LAURA: I go.

LIAM: I’m going to stealth.

MATT: Stealth by going into the alley?

LIAM: Before going into the alley. I mean, I don’t know how dark this is.

MATT: What are you stealthing behind?

LIAM: Are we in broad daylight?

MATT: It’s a pretty– heh. I’m not going to say it, but the sun is high in the sky.

LIAM: Yeah. Okay.

(laughter)

SAM: (McCree voice) It’s full sunlight.

TALIESIN: (McCree voice) It’s lunchtime.

LIAM: Okay, so no changing in lighting in the smaller alley.

MATT: Correct.

SAM: (McCree voice) It’s just turned to PM.

LAURA: The efreeti behind us, are they paying attention to us, or are they completely distracted by all of the–

MATT: It’s hard to tell. They don’t seem to be paying any mind, and when the two figures darted off in the alleyway, there was no–

LAURA: Anything?

LIAM: And how far away from the other group are we at this point?

MATT: At this point, you’re about 80 feet in front of them.

LIAM: All right, I stop her and stop at the corner and look around. Do I even see them if I look around the corner?

MATT: The two figures that darted off?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah, they’re about 15 feet back and they’re both waiting.

LIAM: We saw them dart to the right. I don’t know what’s in there! I go running in with my eyes closed. That’s how I do.

MATT: Okay. Percy, do you follow suit?

TALIESIN: Oh, yeah, I follow suit, yeah. I’m running in there.

MATT: Okay. The three of you dart in. You guys watch as the three of them vanish into that alley.

MARISHA: Do the efreeti react to them vanishing?

MATT: No, but that’s about two intersections ahead. The ones immediately before you, the efreet goes, “Turn left. To Pelor’s temple.”

TALIESIN: For god’s sake, you two, tell them that you have to meet your owner!

TRAVIS: Oh! Do it. Tell them that we’ve got to meet our owner.

MATT: “Left to Pelor’s temple, small one!” As you guys are coming to the intersection–

ASHLEY: I’m so sorry, what did you say? Left at where?

MATT: “Right here.”

ASHLEY: We’re supposed to meet out master at the temple of Pelor, so–

MATT: “Then I am taking you. Take a left.”

ASHLEY: I’m going to cast a Zone of Truth and ask him some questions.

MATT: Well, hold on a second.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

ASHLEY: Is that a bad idea?

TALIESIN: There are no good ideas anymore.

MARISHA: It’s all bad ideas in Dungeons & Dragons. It’s really true.

LIAM: Well, what I would have done was–

MARISHA: Sometimes you get lucky with a bad idea.

TALIESIN: That’s all the game is is getting lucky with bad ideas.

SAM: We’re Cubs fans walking down Cleveland Boulevard.

MATT: Well, as you begin casting your spell– because casting a spell is a very physical thing– you begin to whisper your various divine incantations beneath your breath, and your holy symbol of Sarenrae begins to glow, though diminished this far from the Prime Material plane, still effective. You get partway through your incantation before the two efreeti who are flanking grab Grog by the shoulders and forcefully push, like a giant wedge, trying to shove your entire group to the left down the street. You, being at the immediate brunt of that, basically are getting shoved in the shoulder and off to the side. I need you to make a constitution saving throw to see if you maintain concentration on the spell.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay.

MARISHA: You busting out the Hand Cone?

SAM: I’m busting out the Hand Cone, ready to go.

ASHLEY: Seven.

MATT: Okay, yeah, so as you’re partway through the incantation before it gets completely scattered halfway through and the spell is lost. You still used the spell slot, though.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: But they’re now using Grog as the base point and all three of them are pushing you all to the left forcefully. Scanlan, what are you doing?

SAM: Are these humanoids?

MATT: Nope.

SAM: Okay, I’m going to start singing. I pick one, the stronger of the two, and I’m going to sing at him. Or her, I don’t even know.

MATT: You turn around and sing in their face.

SAM: Yeah, yep, singing at them. (singing) I make you want to leave the one you’re with, start a new relationship with me. That’s how it’s going to be, make you go–

TRAVIS: Usher! Usher from 1999!

SAM: A little Usher. I’m going to cast Dominate Monster on it.

MATT: Oh shit, okay!

LAURA: Oh god. Do they know they’re being dominated?

SAM: Of course, but hopefully it’ll give us a getaway.

MATT: What’s the DC on this?

SAM: Well, it’s my spell, right? 21.

MATT: Jesus Christ, dude.

TALIESIN: That’s the angriest thing I’ve ever heard.

MATT: Fucking Scanlan. Let this be a lesson to all DMs out there: be careful about creating magical items that increase spell DC. So that’s a wisdom saving throw–

SAM: You can always break it or something.

MATT: Let’s not break it, but be careful, be mindful. All right, so, wisdom saving throw. Two on that. All righty. The efreet that is on the left side, the one that is directly behind you– the other one that’s pushing Pike off to the side is separate– the one that’s behind you, as you turn around and begin singing up to it, it stops in its tracks and nods its head to the beat as you’re singing and its eyes half-close for a second, and you get the assertion that the spell has taken effect. The other ally is still pushing Grog and Pike and basically scooping you guys into this alleyway to the left.

ASHLEY: Can I cast Hold Person on that one? I think I can do it on a humanoid.

LIAM, LAURA, and TRAVIS: But he’s not a humanoid.

ASHLEY: He’s not humanoid, never mind! That’s what you literally were just talking about.

SAM: Can I command him?

MARISHA: All right, am I standing by Scanlan? Are they in front of us now?

MATT: No, they’re behind you, basically you got like shoved off at the point. Scanlan turned around and did that as Pike’s being shoved off to the side. And Grog, they’re both shoulder to shoulder shoving you in that direction. So that was your action.

SAM: I can’t also command him to do anything?

MATT: Hmm?

SAM: Can’t I command him to do something?

MATT: You can, I’m getting to that point. All of this is happening simultaneously. As you’re doing that, singing in the face of that efreet, you just got knocked out of your spell, so you’re going to have to take a moment to do that. Keyleth, Grog, what are you doing?

TRAVIS: I’m going to trip and fall flat down onto the ground.

MATT: Okay, so you (grunting) and intentionally fall prone on the ground. All righty. Keyleth, what are you doing? If anything.

MARISHA: Oh, I don’t want to do something I’m really bad at, which is talking to people. I have ideas. Okay, is this what I want to do, I’m going to do Alter Self and I’m going to change myself into a tiefling?

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: And then I– oh god this is really terrible, oh my god, I am really bad at deception– I’m going to turn around and say, I’m sorry, there seems to be a miscommunication. These are my slaves. They are already owned and my property. Release them immediately.

MATT: Okay. So as Scanlan’s in the middle of singing a song, and the one efreet stops in their tracks, you turn around and your form shifts. What do you want your tiefling to look like?

MARISHA: You know, I don’t have a lot to go off of except for Zahra and that one that was in front of us, so I’m going to do Zahra, like a red. You know, a red, with like devilly horns, definitely give it a tail. I want to look intimidating. I want to look like you wouldn’t want to meet me in a back alley, but that’s where we are.

ASHLEY: A bad bitch.

MARISHA: A bad bitch.

MATT and MARISHA: Bad bitch tiefling.

MATT: Which is still, like, an eighth as intimidating as an efreet. But you whip around and you say this, I’m going to have you go ahead and make a deception check.

LAURA: Come on, Keyleth! You got it.

MARISHA: It’s just a straight roll. Oh, god. Oh Jesus Christ. Nine.

MATT: Okay, as you’re talking up to the one on the left, as Grog falls forward, he’s looking off down and he’s going to reach for him as you shout in his face. (scoffs) And palms you in the face with his hand, and I need you to make a strength saving throw.

MARISHA: A saving throw. Oh, that was almost so good, that was almost great! 13.

MATT: 13. Basically his hand grabs you and, like, his fingers close around the back of your head, holding you like a ball, and lifts you a little off the ground and throws you into the alley. So as Keyleth gets chucked off to the side of the alley, you’re finishing getting pushed off. Scanlan, what are you doing with your command over the efreet?

SAM: I say to him: Hey sweet baby. Look at me. It’s all going to be okay if you yell at your friend to let us go.

MATT: The efreet that you control turns around and goes, “Hey! This is not our business. We need to let them go.” The other efreet goes, “What are you talking about? They’re at our disposal!” He looks back at the first one who goes, “It doesn’t matter. Let them go. Now.” The other one looks down at you and looks at the other one. That’s cocked. And glances down at you, Scanlan, and goes, “What have you done to my friend?”

SAM: I say to him: I’m just a mere slave and– kill him! Kill him now! Kill him right now!

(laughter)

LAURA and TALIESIN: Oh, no!

MATT: I need to make a– actually, for Dominate–

LAURA: Get up and run, you guys. You better fucking run away.

TRAVIS: Is anyone else in this alley?

MATT: Right now, from what you can see– You can’t see anything, you’re on the ground prone right now. You’re surrounded by everyone shouting at each other at this moment. From what you can see, nobody else is in this alleyway at the moment.

LAURA: It’s crazy city, people fight all the time.

ASHLEY: They’re used to this, this is everyday life.

LIAM: Yeah, there are fights on every corner.

MATT: Okay, yeah, so the efreet that you control, who’s still staring at the friend, looks at you as you shout this, grins, and grabs the other efreet by the throat and slams him into the wall.

MARISHA: Run!

MATT: You just go running?

(laughter)

MATT: Down the alleyway?

MARISHA: I want to go catch up with them!

MATT: So as it’s holding the other efreet against the wall, his thumbs pushing into his throat like (choking), it’s reaching up and grabbing the back of the hands, its legs flailing as bits of smoke and ash being cast off, Keyleth runs past, this tiefling fucking running as fast as you can down the alleyway. What are you guys doing?

TRAVIS: Can I pop up, grab Pike, and start running after Keyleth?

MATT: Yeah, so you grab her by the back of the armor and lift her up off the ground. Pike, you start running, but all of a sudden your feet are off the ground, you’re running in the air, as Grog is like bounding with you.

TRAVIS: And I’m hoping that as we get towards the door I can shrink back down to go through any doorway that they’re headed towards.

LAURA: We’re heading towards an alleyway.

MATT: There’s an alleyway, is what you can see, that Keyleth darts off into.

TRAVIS: Good deal.

MATT: Scanlan, what are you doing?

SAM: I am staying put until my friends are far away. I’m watching them, watching them, back and forth.

MATT: Okay, you watch as the one efreet holding his friend against the wall there is like (strained grunt). The one that’s being choked goes, (choking) “What’s this?” He reaches down and pulls a blade out of the side and begins jabbing it into the arm of the guy who’s holding him.

ASHLEY and TALIESIN: Run. Run!

MATT: Which does six damage there, and he gets to make a saving throw because he took damage. So he’s like, stabbing him in the arm repeatedly. The other guy’s like (grunting), still pushing into his throat, and he takes him, lifts him up, and slams him into the other wall, causing him to drop the dagger in the other hand, and begins to push him down towards the ground. You can see his eyes, still intense, but controlled by the spell as he’s pushing the other efreet into the dark stonework and you can see it cracking and breaking against the force. The other efreet now is being held against their– (foreign language) and begins chanting something beneath his breath.

SAM: Oh, shit. They do magic shit?

TALIESIN: Yes, they do.

SAM: I thought they were just big and scary.

TALIESIN: No.

MATT: So he’s currently chanting under his breath and you watch as the words begin to emit, his form begins to shimmer and change.

SAM: How far have my allies gotten?

MATT: If you’re glancing around the alleyway, at this point in time, full pace, full round, you see Grog and Pike have just now disappeared around the corner of that alleyway.

SAM: And Keyleth is gone?

MATT: Keyleth is gone. She got there before they did. Actually, you guys would have caught up pretty fast because of Grog’s speed. So Keyleth would have gotten a head start and then Grog bypassed her, so you just see Keyleth disappear behind the corner of the alleyway.

TRAVIS: I’ll snag Keyleth, too. I’ve got them both.

SAM: All right. So my work here is done, so I’m going to tip my beret, good day to you both, and I’ll Dimension Door into the alley with them or wherever they went. Actually, I don’t know that alley, so I’m going to go in that direction the number of feet I think it is.

MATT: Okay, so you’ll be appearing at the mouth of that alleyway and you can dart into it. I would say go ahead and make a stealth roll to see if the one who is currently casting even has a glance of seeing you out of the corner of his eye.

SAM: Oh, wow! That’s the best roll I’ve ever done. 21! Stealth!

MATT: Okay. At the moment as you disappear into the door, you watch as the efreet that’s being choked, his form turns into reddish-white gas, like a cloud of mist, and escapes the grip of his friend, who then looks up and– let’s see here. Okay, yeah, he’s going to go ahead and angrily look up and his legs turn into that burst of flame and begin to rise up. And he begins clawing at the gaseous cloud as you disappear and vanish, leaving them both still fighting. You pull into the alleyway and you guys are all there for a moment. You see the rest of them further down the alleyway now. You continue following them, I imagine?

SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Do we need to hide?

MARISHA: Yeah, do these alleyways connect? Does it block around?

MATT: The one that you were pushed into, essentially as you were walking forward, is to the left. You guys continued forward past two more alleyways and then went to the second one to the right that way and so this one continues down and seems to curve around after about 100 feet or so through a series of buildings that are built right next to each other, giving you one pathway that curves out of sight.

LAURA: Let’s go as far away out of sight as we can.

MATT: Okay, so you guys continue forward down that alley. You hear in the distance the muffled sounds of some sort of weird, echoey scuffle and it seems to vanish into the rest of the atmospheric sound of general wind being blown through tight passages and the occasional flare of flame. You all turn the corner as it begins to curve and suddenly there’s another splinter alleyway that descends into stairs and, you guys following the two humanoid individuals you originally followed, continue down that path and they lead you into a small, enclosed room. There’s a door that’s partially ajar and they’ve shoved their way into it and disappear inside. Do you follow?

LAURA: I think that’s the option. Everybody’s running for their lives right now.

MATT: All right, so you guys all dart into this same room. As you guys all charge into here–

SAM: We all die.

MATT: Yeah, it’s filled with spikes and fire. As you go charging into this room, immediately it’s much smaller that I think you all anticipated and it would be Vex and Vax getting there first. You guys charge into the room and your darkvision helps you as you adjust to the change of light, just in time for you to run into the two individuals that had led you in there. This is some sort of a storage room, filled with a series of metallic boxes. And this room could comfortably fit five people. And as soon as you charge, you ram into their shoulder and before you can turn, all of a sudden, you watch as Grog with two other people comes slamming in and you’ve all very tightly squeezed into this dark space.

LAURA: Sorry.

ASHLEY: I climb and sit on top of Grog.

MATT: As Scanlan comes around the corner–

SAM: Right in behind Grog’s butt. Just smooshed on up.

MATT: And you do. Sweaty cheek. Reverse motorboat. It’s a terrible thing.

LIAM: Is it tight enough that the two strangers are smooshed in as badly as we are?

MATT: Yeah, they’re like, (strained) “Okay– please– ”

MARISHA: Is this dark?

MATT: It’s dark. There’s no light in here, yeah.

MARISHA: I lift my hand and I light it up to give us a little bit of light.

TRAVIS: Could we close the door?

TALIESIN: Scanlan, close the door!

SAM: (muffled) Why are we in here?

TRAVIS: Are there any windows or anything?

MATT: No, there’s just the door you guys entered. It’s a storage shed.

LIAM: This is a little more than I think I was asking for, but what is there to see in the City of Brass?

MATT: You’re asking this right now? He looks at you. “You’re asking this right now?”

LIAM: So we’re out of sorts. We’re not from here, obviously.

LAURA: Hi.

LIAM: Hi. That’s my sister. You can tell because she looks just like me.

MARISHA: Aw, Grog.

TRAVIS: It was Pike!

ASHLEY: That’s not true.

MARISHA: It’s a very small room!

LIAM: You don’t look like many of the larger folk– thank you, dear– that we’ve seen around here either. Are you from here? Are you strangers here?

LAURA: How are you not slaves right now?

LIAM: That.

MATT: Let me change this to a bit of a calmer circumstance, here– the tiefling says, “Shh!”

LAURA: Sorry.

MATT: “Shh! Close the door!” And it is like–

LAURA: Can I climb up on one of the boxes to give more foot room?

MATT: As you all inhale, the door finally closes. Vex climbs up. A minute of quiet passes. Eventually, as silence passes for a bit, you hear a voice, a very soft and gentle voice that you haven’t heard yet, break the darkness. He goes, “I think it’s safe to speak now.” The lithe-looking individual you saw earlier with the wiry red hair and the somewhat reddish-black eyes says, “Well, it was uncommon to see individuals wandering this city with a look of absolute victimization.”

SAM: (muffled) We don’t look that bad, do we?

LAURA: I pick up Scanlan and put him up on a box.

LIAM: Those aren’t pillows!

SAM: I don’t think Grog wears underpants!

TRAVIS: Who does?

MATT: “I’m Senokir. This is Uten, my business partner. We are jewelers here in the City of Brass. And if I’m not mistaken, you now owe us a favor.”

LIAM: Maybe we could do a bit of business. Percival, you were looking for a jeweler, right?

TALIESIN: Well, it’s a little far away at the moment, but we could do a bit of business because we have other business to attend to.

MARISHA: What caught your attention on us, aside from the utter look of pathetic-ness?

MATT: “Favors are more useful when you’re not in chains.”

LAURA: Yes, this is true.

MATT: “So. Let us wait here about ten, 15 more moments. Let any immediate chance of you running into those thugs pass. We’ll have a more private conversation at our place of business, if you don’t mind.”

LAURA: Why do you wear those white robes? Do they signify anything?

MATT: “They signify our freedom.”

MARISHA: Were you once in chains?

MATT: “Few that come here manage to escape that fate immediately. We found our way.”

MARISHA: That’s ominous. Can I do an insight check? Does that mean he murdered a lot of fricking people?

MATT: Make an insight check.

MARISHA: Let’s go druid dice. Oh god. Ooh, it’s an 18! What was it, insight? Right? 29.

LAURA: Whoa, you’ve got really high insight.

TALIESIN: She know shit.

SAM: Whispers! Loot Crate, everybody! Loot Crate is a wonderful sponsor, a fine, handsome company.

LAURA: Magic!

SAM: Their theme is magic. You’ll get a box of magic shit.

TALIESIN: Doctor Strange is part of this one.

LAURA: And I think Magical Beasts.

SAM: These are movies that I will never see, because I have children.

TALIESIN: In about 15 years, we’re going to sit down and show you everything. It’s going to be great.

MARISHA: Which one was the tiefling, and which one was him?

MATT: The one that’s been speaking to you is the other humanoid of strange racial origin.

MARISHA: Senokir is the humanoid?

MATT: Yeah, Senokir is the humanoid.

MARISHA: Who is, something’s off about him?

MATT: Something’s different. You don’t recognize his race or background.

MARISHA: Uten, how long have the two of you been in business together?

MATT: “Shh, let us wait. We will continue this conversation at our establishment.”

LAURA: Is this your room?

MATT: “No.”

LAURA: Whose room is it?

MATT: “I have no idea. Which is why we shouldn’t stay long.”

ASHLEY: Do you know where those thugs were trying to take us? Or have an idea?

MATT: “I have no idea, but I imagine they would have called in some friends to meet you and you would have found yourselves in a very tough position.”

LIAM: All right, it’s really starting to smell like Grog in here, so why don’t we go–

MATT: “A few more moments, please.”

TRAVIS: It was really hard not to fight, man. I do terrible when I don’t fight.

MATT: “Shh.” You wait in awkward silence for the next five minutes, with any sort of sound, utterance, or conversation being immediately shushed by Senokir. Eventually–

ASHLEY: (fart sound)

MATT: –Senokir perks up and the slightly pointed ears of his form seem to almost twitch. “I think passage is safe. Very well, open the door. Follow us, please.” As you guys filter out, they continue, a quick pace, and lead you through a series of winding side streets and momentary pauses to pass as a number of other creatures and individuals walk by. Passing efreeti, passing occasionally some sort of giant, winged, red creature that stalks down the street, dragging behind it a large cart that has bars in it. You can see a number of smaller, almost, I wouldn’t say fey-type creatures, but things that are definitely not of this realm, that are all bound by neck irons. You do also see a few small families wander through, laughing, that appear to be humanoid, but once again their physicality is very similar to the individual Senokir. Eventually, you are led back to a simple exterior. It’s a back entrance, leading away from this main street. They both enter to this iron doorway. Senokir pulls something from a pocket and glances at the rest of you. He pricks his finger and places it to the edge of this object, some sort of a disk, and it has a small point on one end that he uses to prick his finger. Once he’s smeared his blood on the disk, he presses it against the door, and the iron door opens up a little bit. Places it in his pocket. “Come inside, so we may speak, please.”

TALIESIN and LIAM: All right.

LAURA: I want to look in his eyes as we are about to go through and see if– how honest he looks.

MATT: Make an insight check.

LIAM: I mean, everybody in this city wants us as slaves, so it’s not really any more dangerous in there than it is–

SAM: Kind of flattering, really.

LAURA: 21.

SAM: It’s like one of those beefcake slave auctions for charity.

MATT: Glancing at him, he’s a very hard individual to read. He has this awkward, stilted conversational cadence to his way of speaking, and whenever he speaks to you, he’s not quite looking at you.

LAURA: Hey, my eyes are down–

MATT: He doesn’t seem dishonest, just hard to read.

LAURA: All right. I like your hair. And I walk in.

MATT: Okay. As you guys enter, these wall sconces begin to come to life on their own across the walls. On the inside, you can see this gorgeous workspace for all sorts of small-level metallurgy and metalcraft. Percy, you really appreciate this. You see small furnaces and a number of metals laid out in ingots, some used in different volumes. Many substances and things that you’ve never seen before. A couple of small boxes to the side of rough, uncut gems, currently at this distance–

TALIESIN: My word.

LAURA: I walk up and smack Percy on the ass and say, “Feel like making a home here?” and walk past him.

TALIESIN: I’m certainly thinking of some plans.

MATT: As the door closes behind and the two individuals walk in, they rummage around and begin finding some small stools and arrange them so they can present to you more like, treat you like a guest. He sets them down. “Please, sit, and we shall speak.”

TRAVIS: Okay!

LAURA: How long does Locate Object take to cast?

SAM: Well, that’s not something you would ask him. I think he’s just our host here.

MATT: “I have no idea these words you speak.” All right, Locate Object. Locate Object is one action, so it takes six seconds to cast.

LAURA: Can I try to cast it as we sit down and see if it’s in our vicinity?

SAM: You can cast that shit all the time?

TALIESIN: How often can you cast it?

LAURA: Well, it’s a 2nd-level spell, so I can do it a bit.

MATT: So as everyone’s sitting on your stools and getting ready, you close your eyes for a second, concentrate, mutter beneath your breath. You extend your understanding in this dark space around you, waiting for the warmth of any sort of call to the Dawnmartyr Plate. Eventually your mental expansion reaches the limitations of the spell, with nothing coming back.

LAURA: Tight, tight, tight.

MATT: As you’ve all sat down and assembled, Senokir sits as well, hands crossed very pleasantly in front of him. Very up straight, strange head cocked a little to the side. “So you’ve found yourselves here, out of place, and we’ve helped you once. We will discuss the terms of our repayment for our aid. But before then, I must ask why you would come here so unprepared.”

MARISHA: So unprepared? Does the name Thordak ring a bell? The Cinder King? It’s a pseudonym, maybe?

MATT: “I have heard this name.”

SAM: Alias.

LAURA: Did he hang out around here?

MATT: “No. He stayed mostly over the Sea of Fire.”

LAURA: Hmm. Anywho!

SAM: What about that Plate of–? No? Maybe? I mean, I don’t know, what are we here for?

MATT: “What are you here for?”

MARISHA: Thordak has escaped into our realm–

MATT: “Good. Keep him away from here.”

MARISHA: All right, that’s what we want as well.

LIAM: You have a distaste for the wyrm?

MATT: “No, I just don’t trust dragons.”

TALIESIN: He’s currently still linked to this realm.

MATT: “Hmm.”

TALIESIN: We are trying to take care of as much of it as humanly possible.

MATT: “Heh. Humanly.”

TALIESIN: As much as humanly possible. Perhaps a little bit more. We are here for the little bit more. We seek powers to help us defeat the dragon.

MATT: “Perhaps I can be of aid. What powers do you seek?”

LAURA: What powers can you do?

MATT: “I asked my question first.”

SAM: So creepy!

TALIESIN: Perhaps it is time to lay it on the line. Time is of the essence.

LIAM: Sure, go for it.

TALIESIN: Let’s make a deal.

LIAM: If this goes south, we can just wrap it up.

TALIESIN: We seek a set of plate armor.

LAURA: A trinket, really. Nothing huge. Somebody won it in a game of poker, I believe? Cards?

SAM: A card game of some sort.

TALIESIN: The Plate of the Dawnmartyr.

MARISHA: It used to belong to the Suutan Bloodline.

MATT: “Suutan, now that I am aware of.”

MARISHA: Yes?

MATT: “Does it still belong in the possession of this Suutan?”

LAURA: I don’t think so.

SAM: Our information says it does not.

MARISHA: It was won by a fire giant.

MATT: “A fire giant within this city?”

TALIESIN: That is our belief.

SAM: Are there any fire giants in this city?

MATT: “That narrows it down. There are only three that live here–”

SAM: Oh, well that’s great!

MATT: “–not under subjugation.”

SAM: Happen to have their names?

LAURA: Do people under subjugation own a lot?“

MATT: "Generally, no. Those that own them, own what they own. So maybe it’s one of them. We can go ask.”

SAM: Are they close?

MATT: “Relatively. Depending on which one you ask first.”

SAM: You could just give us their addresses or something and we could go check it out. If you had a Thomas Guide–?

LAURA: Where’s Uten? What’s Uten doing?

MATT: Uten is sitting back, arms crossed.

LAURA: He seems totally chill? This is the way this dude talks all the fucking time?

(laughing)

MATT: Completely unfazed.

TALIESIN: Depending on how things go, we may even speak of perhaps commissioning some pieces. Your work is astounding.

MATT: He suddenly leans forward, steps up from the stool, and walks over to you and begins to look very closely over your clothing. “Can you afford what I make?”

TALIESIN: Possibly. I would like to think so. Depending on how the next few weeks go, there will be much to celebrate, and your work is celebratory.

LAURA: Do you require monetary compensation, or is it something more?

MATT: “Depends. I have plenty of money, but you owe me, and if I help you find this giant and this armor you’re seeking, you will owe me even more. So. To keep this interesting, how about we go find this armor?”

LIAM: You don’t even want to hint at what you’re looking for?

MATT: “Where’s the fun in that?”

LIAM: You cheeky bastard, Matthew Mercer.

MATT: “So. To the giant?”

LAURA: Should we make ourselves not look like us? Should we maybe look like something different?

TRAVIS: Yeah, how will you keep us from being harassed in the streets?

MATT: “Well, I mean no disrespect, but–” He lifts his hand and snaps the fingers. You watch as Uten goes, “Oh, right, sorry. I got you.” He goes rummaging through a case and you hear what sounds like the dragging and clanging of many pieces of small metal. Procures a series of chains and neck irons. Senokir looks up. “There’s not much else I have to offer but, for the most part, you won’t be bothered.”

ASHLEY: Oh, you love it.

TALIESIN: Let me put forward a theory for you.

TRAVIS: You son of a bitch.

TALIESIN: I hate those eyes. I can’t look at them. I hate you. Whatever deal we make with you here, for the record, none of us will be staying. We may be coming back to fulfill some service, we may be coming back to fulfill some favor, and we will if that is the deal we make.

MATT: “If that is the deal we make.”

TALIESIN: But the deal we make will not include any of us. Is that understood? Is that agreeable?

SAM: Unless it’s for a one-time sexual favor of some sort.

TALIESIN: Only with him.

LAURA: In which case, take your pick.

SAM: I’m up for that.

TRAVIS: I’m up, too.

TALIESIN: Oh my god, you people.

MATT: “I think you will find our arrangements agreeable.”

TALIESIN: And I may have some things to excite you with, as well. Stop it! I know you’ve been doing it all game!

ASHLEY: That was me.

MARISHA: He said in accent.

MATT: “It seems we’ve found some semblance of an accord for the time. Come, place these gently upon yourselves and we’ll be on our way.”

LAURA: Don’t you have any white robes you can give us instead?

MATT: “I’m sorry, no. Those come with station, and station requires recognition. None will recognize you here. You’ll be found out immediately.”

SAM: Should we chain ourselves to each other, or to you? How does this work?

LAURA: Check out those chains and see if they’re magic?

MARISHA: A few of us could look like you, to keep all of us out of chains? Maybe a few exceptions?

LAURA: You can get big and then look like an efreeti?

MARISHA: I can look like one of them. Very simply. I think we’d all feel a little bit comfortable if some of us were free.

MATT: “Sure. If you are confident.”

MARISHA: I study him and I change to like a–

LAURA: Maybe somebody that is better at talking?

MARISHA: I don’t have to talk, I just have to look like someone else. That’s not that hard.

TALIESIN: Oh for god’s sakes.

SAM: I’m going to go look at the chains and arcana check them.

MATT: Go for it.

MARISHA: I change myself to look like one of him. I’m like, eh? Eh? Passable?

SAM: Oh, 22! No, just 20.

MATT: Just 20? The chains appear to be mundane. They are heavy, they are thick, they are definitely functional, but they are not enchanted.

SAM: I’m going to slap some on.

LIAM: I’m going to slip on my ring of invisibility and spend the next 20 minutes attuning to it.

MATT: He looks you over. “Impressive. I think you will get no concern from myself when the other genasi cross your way.”

MARISHA: (slowly) Do all of you talk like this? Do I also need to talk like this?

MATT: “I don’t know what you mean.”

MARISHA: Never mind.

TRAVIS: I go put the chains on, as well.

TALIESIN: I put the chains on.

LAURA: I want to put them on, but I don’t want to click them. I want to hang them and make them look like they’re attached, but I don’t want to attach them.

MATT: Okay, make a sleight of hand check.

SAM: They fall to the floor!

ASHLEY: Are they wrist or–

MATT: There’s one for each wrist and then a neck iron.

LAURA: 11?

SAM: I’m familiar with these because I have a set in my room.

MATT: Of course you do. The idea is, your hands are chained, and the chains attack to the neck iron about there, so you don’t have a whole lot of arm movement, and then the neck iron has a chain from the back that is held. And actually, Uten begins to gather all the chains at the very back and runs them to a singular ring, which is held by him.

ASHLEY: Can I put on, if I put on my Glove of Storing, does that mean I have to take off one of the gauntlets?

MATT: Glove of Storing, yeah. You wouldn’t be able to have both attuned because they’re both on the hand.

ASHLEY: Can I wear one?

MATT: No, sorry.

TALIESIN: Just for insanity’s sake, before I slip them on, I’m going to take a little bit of gunpowder out of my pouch and sprinkle a little bit in the locks and have some on my hands.

LAURA: You’re going to blow your little hands off.

TALIESIN: Oh, it’s going to be awful.

MATT: (Victor voice) “Learn from my mistakes!”

TALIESIN: Not enough to blow a hand off, but yes.

MATT: Okay. Vex, you manage to get them clicked on, and as soon as you feel confident, they go (clank) and hang open.

LAURA: Oh. I must have not attached them quite right.

SAM: Do you want me to do it for you?

LAURA: Oh, no, that’s okay.

TRAVIS: Please?

MATT: As all of the chains are attached, some time has passed. You’ve attuned to your ring. What have you un-attuned to?

LIAM: My boots have gone slack.

MATT: So you have the ring on. You’re maintaining your altered appearance. Uten takes all the chains and clinks them onto the one ring. Gives it a tug, just to check, and you all feel the tug from behind. “Very well. It seems we are prepared. Come, now, let us all go speak with Whaska.”

LIAM: He didn’t chain me, though, right? Am I chained? There’s no invisible floating chain?

MATT: No, he doesn’t seem like he’s intent on chaining all of you. He just chained those that couldn’t pass.

SAM: Whaska the giant. Whaska the giant, right?

MATT: “Yes.”

LIAM: Is Vex chained?

LAURA: I am.

LIAM: I tweak her nose and give her a wet willy, and then dart six feet back.

LAURA: You fucking dick!

MATT: (chuckles)

(laughter)

MATT: “Now come! Uten, come.” And he walks out the front door, this time. As you guys are led through the two front doors, as they open, as Senokir pushes them, you see this wonderful thoroughfare in front with a giant fountain that has this molten rock, this lava fountain, that pours out into this large, open pit that descends into darkness below. You see these giant, black, obelisk-like pillars that jut out in the center, and probably about two dozen entities from all walks of life walking through and having conversations and talking, many of which having their own chained slaves at their side. This appears to be one of many central social civil places within the City of Brass. And that’s where we’ll end tonight’s session.

TRAVIS: Did the people that have the people in chains, are they wearing the white robes and stuff?

MATT: Different outfits. It appears that it isn’t like, the white robes signify that a person is free. Just for these two, it’s a level of station, it seems, in the way they’ve described it.

SAM: Had we stopped in one more minute, I would have had to take off this shirt, revealing nothing underneath.

MATT: Shit!

TALIESIN: Not even his bare chest, just nothing. The void.

SAM: Lava pouring in.

LIAM: We’ll grab Ashley, run into the fire plane, the armor will be right there, for her visit, and then it’ll be done! One shot.

MATT: You’re not filming next Thursday, are you?

ASHLEY: I hope not. That’s the first day of that next episode, so I don’t have the schedule yet.

MATT: Let me know. If you’re not scheduled, we’ll try and Skype you in, because I would still like you to continue this.

ASHLEY: I will. I’ll have to Skype, but–

MATT: That’s fine. Just having you here.

TRAVIS: Good to have you back, man!

LIAM: It’s better when you’re here!

ASHLEY: Oh, well, okay!

SAM: It’s really better when you here. It’s not good when you’re not here. In fact, don’t watch when she’s not here.

ASHLEY: I felt like, maybe to everybody watching, but I didn’t feel like we were playing that long. So you ended the game and I was like, “No! What? We just– oh.”

MATT: It’s been four hours! I know. Well, guys, thank you for watching. I hope you had fun, as we do, in this insanity.

ASHLEY: I love this character so much.

TALIESIN: He’s my new favorite. The week after Halloween? The week after?

MATT: That’s just how it worked out, guys!

TALIESIN: I’ll never see Victor again. I have a new best friend.

MATT: Guys, you’re awesome. You’re awesome. I’m going to go home and sleep. Thank you, Loot Crate, once again. Thank you to all you amazing Critters in your amazing Halloween costumes. Still blown away by all of that. Have a wonderful night, and is it Thursday yet? See you next week.

[music]

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