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Pre-Show[]

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

ALL: (discordant yelling) We play Dungeons & Dragons!

MATT: Before we jump into tonight's episode, we do have some quick announcements to get through. Beginning with the sponsor of tonight's episode: Hot Topic. Sam! (cheering)

SAM: This episode is brought to you by Hot Topic. As some of you may remember, earlier this year-- this year? What a year. (laughter) Earlier this year, we had our first wave of apparel drop at Hot Topic, and we are excited to share the second wave. Now, apparel is fine, it's fine. But the best part about this Hot Topic gear is it's got so many more different uses than just wearing it on your body. You can life hack it! And, in fact, I took some of their sample apparel at my home and I life hacked it and showed you what else you can do with it. Let's roll that video right now.

VIDEO: (cheerful music) (yelling) (blowing) Ow. Oh. Hmm. (sniffing) Almost. Uh-huh, yeah. Ah. Mm. (exhaling) Oh. Okay. (groaning) (groans) (exhales) (groaning)

SAM: It's so easy.

SAM: Comb, and a brush, and a bowl full of... What? Hey. Kids?

SAM: Goodnight, noises everywhere. The end. Oh. (kisses) I love you, big guy.

END VIDEO

(cheering)

SAM: What a hilarious and unexpected video.

LIAM: Yeah. We totally just saw that just now.

SAM: I wonder what it's going to be like. Anyway, thanks to my wife who may or may not have shot that. But it's not just clothing, we've added more characters. Nope. We've added-- they'll edit this out. We've added more categories beyond some awesome shirts, like drink wear, a journal, some pins, buttons, a cool d20 backpack hanger. Backpack hanger?

LAURA: Yeah, you can go ahead and hold that one up right now.

SAM: I have this?

LAURA: Yes, that!

SAM: This is a backpack hanger!

LAURA: Yeah!

SAM: I was picturing a thing that you hang a backpack on.

ASHLEY: Me, too. I was like, "That's just a hanger." (laughter)

TRAVIS: You know what TikTok is, Sam.

SAM: Oh boy [Inaudible].

LIAM: I'm [Inaudible] to the German in Raiders of the Lost Arc, when he comes in going like, "Good evening, Fräulein."

SAM: And Funko Pops! We also have two amazing blankets, with the beautiful artwork of Critter artists Hugo Cardenas and Joseph Ramirez, and all of this and more is available through Hot Topic, so get onto bit.ly/HotTopicCR and check it out. Laura, we brought some of the stuff with us tonight, right?

LAURA: Yeah, yes. You did an amazing job, Sam, talking about all this stuff. But yes, we do have some stuff to show off tonight! So Sam, obviously, Sam has that fabulous hoodie.

SAM: I don't know if you can see that.

LAURA: Hold on, I was going to get to the pin!

SAM: I'm sorry! I'm sorry, Laura!

LAURA: But it's too fricking late now! Hold up the dang pin!

SAM: Okay, sorry, sorry.

LAURA: Oh, what a lovely pin! And look at your hoodie!

SAM: And it's got a back to it, too.

TRAVIS: It does.

LAURA: Yeah!

ASHLEY: I love it.

MARISHA: It's so cool.

LAURA: I'm a big fan.

LIAM: That is the OG Kit Buss art, the original art.

LAURA: So we have that. We have this awesome long-sleeved Vox Machina shirt that's got all of our character icons down the sleeves. I'm doing a bad job showing that off. We have drink wear! Ooh! We have-- you are holding the--

SAM: Liam O'Brien, available now.

LAURA: We have Liam O'Brien. We have a new Traveler Con t-shirt coming out there. We have an awesome-- this is the Hugo artwork for a blanket. And then we also have our amazing Yasha blanket, oh yeah.

ASHLEY: Look at this! We got, we got.

TRAVIS: They're so smooshy.

ASHLEY: I can't see and do it at the same time. We got Laughing Hand stuff.

LAURA: That's our--

SAM: Ooh, nice.

MARISHA: Yes!

LAURA: So yeah, there's a lot. I think that might be everything, and you already held up the backpack.

SAM: I blew it, sorry.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: This is a backpack hanger.

LAURA: Yeah! And there's other things, yes!

MARISHA: Mirror dice!

LAURA: There's a journal. Oh, wait, I didn't hold up the journal. Wait, give me a second. Oh, there's a Critical Role journal.

MARISHA: Wait, wait, what are the tabs? What are those tabbies?

SAM: Already there?

LAURA: Yeah, the tabs are going to be included, so you can open it to, like, you know.

MARISHA: Why didn't you lead with this?

LAURA: Yeah, oh, yeah, I know, I should've had you hold this one up, Marisha.

MARISHA: I need it.

LAURA: Yeah, there's awesome stuff coming up. Check it out.

SAM: Hot Topic.

LAURA: Oh, oh, yeah.

TRAVIS: What?

LAURA: Wait, are we going to somebody else before I talk about my next thing?

MATT: I don't think so.

LAURA: Okay, then I'm going to say my next--

MATT: Go ahead! Laura! (laughter)

TRAVIS: We've never done this before!

LIAM: Boy, think of all the money this company saves on rehearsal. (laughter)

LAURA: So I always talk about merch items and everything like that, but because we do pre-record a lot of these episodes, it's not always-- I can't give you, like, the most up to date merch stuff because sometimes it's out of stock by the time we actually air. So I'm just going to tell you guys to keep checking out shop.critrole.com and, hint hint, we usually post new things every Thursday morning. (tongue clicks)

TRAVIS: Yeah, see?

LAURA: That's not in the announcement, and there's a reason that it didn't say to talk like that. But yes, and we have new stuff coming out to all the shops, including, we're going to do a full run of all the Vox Machina dice! All of the different characters are going to have a full dice set, so check in for that. It should be showing up soon. All right, I'm done.

MATT: And, bail.

TRAVIS: Before she starts juggling and doing fireworks.

MATT: Oh my goodness. Thank you, Laura. A well-oiled machine. Damn, you have been busy. I believe those are all of our announcements. So let's go ahead and jump into tonight's episode of Critical Role. (clamoring)

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

Part I[]

SAM: What?

MATT: And welcome back. Yes, Sam, we're back. So last we left off: The Mighty Nein, making their way north to Eiselcross--

MARISHA and ASHLEY: ♪ Making my way! ♪

MATT: ♪ Making my ♪ What's that? Wow, this is going to be a good night. The energy's already all sorts of weird.

LIAM: Die.

MATT: The Mighty Nein had made their way northward. Hired by Vess DeRogna, and then she died. So.

TRAVIS: Come on, man!

MATT: They, however, continued with their guide, Dagen, to lead them through the path preset by Vess towards the excavation of the ruins of Aeor, hitting a couple of the smaller excavations along the way. Along this path, you met with dangers, and some strange encounters with Lucien and the rest of the Tomb Takers in the A5 excavation site. After fighting your way down, you caught up to them, where they had procured a large threshold crest object, and after a brief conversation, continued their trek northward, with an invitation to follow suit should you wish to learn more. You guys then headed back out into the frozen wastes, with a couple of choice encounters that involved turning dangerous things into turtles and really not having it be dangerous at all. You continued your trek, and at the end of the second day, we left with you transforming three of your party into giant eagles, picking up the remainder of your troop, and flying best you could for as long as you could over the central mountain range that would normally bisect the paths northward to A2. So Mighty Nein, as you continue trekking for the continued hour, which at full speed, I think it's somewhere in the neighborhood of eight miles an hour, but if you go full speed, about 16 miles an hour. You can get quite a bit of distance as giant eagles, and definitely help kick up that lead that you're hoping to gain upon the Tomb Takers and their journey northward. So I take it you're going for the entire hour? Are you going full speed?

LAURA: I imagine, yes, we will go full speedies. What is the, like, if you're walking in snow, what's your speed you're normally at?

MATT: Without Dagen taking you along, it would be half speed. But because of his guidance and his knowledge of the space and, honestly, digging a groove through a lot of the snow and ice himself for you to follow in suit, it's pretty easy to get around, comparatively.

LAURA: Okay. Okay, yeah, I think we should just full-onskies as--

LIAM: (squawks)

LAURA: Oh, come on. (laughter) I'm going to just follow Caleb and Yasha's lead with how fast they go.

ASHLEY: (squawks)

MATT: Fair enough. So a fair amount of distance--

SAM: We have Dagen with us, right?

MATT: You do.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Somebody's carrying him.

MARISHA: Yasha?

LAURA: Yasha is carrying--

ASHLEY: I'm carrying--

MATT: I think it was Caleb, wasn't it?

MARISHA: It's whatever we said last game.

LAURA: You are carrying Dagen. You're carrying Dagen.

SAM: Awesome.

LAURA: I'm carrying you and Fjord.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: And you're carrying Caduceus and Beau.

ASHLEY: Yes.

MATT: You got it.

SAM: Great.

TALIESIN: All right.

ASHLEY: That is...

MATT: So the journey, for an hour, going at full speed like this, at the end of it, a creature would need to rest, at least for an hour or short rest to recover. Technically, because Polymorph, any exhaustion or damage that the eagle form would've sustained goes away with the eagle form. I don't know if you need to rest after that at the end of the transformation. Depending on how many spell slots you have per day, too, you can cover quite a bit of ground, which will definitely lessen the impact of the random tables, but where's the fun in that? But nevertheless, by the time you finish your first run as eagles and push a little bit further into travel, the day slowly begins to lose light. The gray sky seems to be growing darker, not just from the lack of sunlight, but it seems to be a cold front and a heavy blizzard seems to be creeping on the horizon from the northeastern direction. But as you land, you could continue on for a bit, but you're now in the middle of the mountain range, so on foot here is going to be a problem, based on the journey you guys were taking.

LIAM: Why would we even bother with that?

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: I can continue.

LAURA: If you think it's safe to keep flying. Oh no!

SAM: What?

LAURA: I can't Polymorph Yasha, too. I can only do it once a day.

LIAM: Oh.

TALIESIN: That still gave us a bit of time, and, honestly, if there's going to be a storm hitting, we should probably find a safe place even for the tower.

LAURA: Hunker down for an-- Is it dark enough that we should take-- Dagen? Is it dark enough that we should take cover tonight?

MATT: "Looking around, we probably got about, 40 or 50 or so minutes before it gets real pitch."

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Well, let's just lay down stakes here.

TALIESIN: Find a place where we won't get snowed in in the morning.

LAURA: Yeah, and then in the morning we can Polymorph again and we can get us out of this mountain range at least, so that, you know, we can travel on foot.

LIAM: Can we poke about a bit until we find something like a crevasse or something sheltered from the elements somewhat?

MATT: "I think I found something. Follow me."

LAURA: Good work, Dagen!

SAM: Fast!

LIAM: Rangers, man.

MATT: "I've been around here for a while. Follow suit." And he goes ahead and leads you down. You can see the section where you landed, which was part of a smaller valley in the more jagged points of this small mountain-hill range. You can see he leads you into a small outcropping where there is a probably an eight-foot indentation in the stone. And based on the smoothing of the ice, it looks like something, some element of warmth, had made this home temporarily for a while. Most of the ice around here looks rough in the snow up there, but there is a smooth concave little alcove.

LIAM: This is perfect. Wand gets jammed into the snow and I take a moment and before long, the door opens we have our home again.

LAURA: Yay!

MATT: All right. You make your way into the tower, prepare yourselves for an evening's rest. If there's anything you wish to do before the night's done, you can speak up. Otherwise, we'll move on to the following day.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: All righty. So after a night's rest, some fine food, some fine not-freezing sleep, the morning comes to, you gather your supplies, and heading back out of the doorway where you entered, you find yourself back at the center of this mountainous valley, in that same alcove. It is freezing cold now, and you can see, there's quite a bit of snow has built up overnight. There is still snow falling. It looks like the heavy part of the blizzard did pass over as you guys were resting, but as the doorway opens to the exterior of the tower, immediately snow tumbles in from the entryway, and Dagen has to push his way through as you guys are waking up and getting prepared to leave. He's like, "Ugh, this might be a problem." Goes ahead and sets down his little, like, glider metal front bits and pushes through, and eventually you guys all manage to exit without an issue.

LAURA: Just throwing snow around the room while he's trying to clear it out. Just to have as much fun as possible before it's no longer outside.

LIAM: Fifty cats come out of the holes in the walls and just like, (licking) (laughter)

MATT: One of them gets, like, brain freeze, and is like-- (chokes) (laughter)

LIAM: (poofing)

TRAVIS: He had one point. (poofing) (laughter) Oh god!

LIAM: Like those ping pong ball mousetraps.

MATT: Yep!

LAURA: Oh no!

MATT: Perfect.

LIAM: Like twisting bubble wrap.

MATT: As you guys are all there, adjusting to the extremely brisk temperature in comparison to where you had slept the night before, Dagen spins around and goes, "So we're taking to the sky again, right? I'm not leading through all this bullshit?"

TALIESIN: Point of thought, do we want to burn that many spells now, or at the end of the day?

LAURA: Well, unfortunately, it's going to ruin the day if we try to get through this mountain.

LIAM: We want to get off of this peak.

MATT: "Yeah, what she's saying."

LAURA: I'll burn the spell. It's okay.

TRAVIS: We have lots of travel, right?

MARISHA: What's the weather like?

TALIESIN: Frightful.

MATT: It's not blizzarding, but it is snowing. Not like a gentle snow, it's a heavier snow, but it's not storming.

MARISHA: Okay. All right.

MATT: "So (wings flapping) eagle time? What're we doing?"

LAURA: Yeah, yeah.

LIAM: (eagle call)

MARISHA: Eagle time!

MATT: "(excited laughter)" He seems to be excited at the prospect.

TRAVIS: We don't see anything around us, right? Do we want to do a sweep of just the general landscape?

MATT: Sure.

LAURA: I think I had it prepared yesterday, so.

TRAVIS: I'll assist Caduceus with a sweep of the landscape to make sure everything's clear.

TALIESIN: Am I? Okay, yeah, I guess I'm looking. (laughter) Huh? What?

TRAVIS: As Fjord grabs the scruff of your outfit and just holds you in a direction.

TRAVIS: How's it look?

MARISHA: Perception beam.

MATT: Yeah, it's like the Caduceus hooded lantern. Go ahead and make a perception with advantage.

TALIESIN: With advantage?

MATT: Yeah, because he's helping you.

TALIESIN: Okay.

MATT: By pushing you in that direction.

TALIESIN: Now that's nice, 28.

MATT: 28, okay. Glancing about, and the snowfall does obscure some of your vision, especially beyond about a 60 to 70-foot distance, you do catch on one of the nearby ridges, you glance up and you see like a bit of darker black color, and you focus on it and you see a set of dark eyes.

TALIESIN: There's something up there.

MATT: And you glance over and you see it shift out of the direction, and then a little bit over past the next ridge, you can see about five or six wolves that are all circling.

TALIESIN: Oh, they're wolves. They're going to-- they're doing the thing.

SAM: Werewolves?

TALIESIN: They're wolves.

SAM: Oh.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Beautiful.

LAURA: Stupid.

TALIESIN: It's so stupid.

LAURA: Have we already become eagles while they're looking?

TRAVIS: He did.

MATT: He did.

LIAM: We're surveying the land from above.

TALIESIN: We should probably get a move on.

TRAVIS: Okay.

LAURA: Yeah, we're eagles.

TALIESIN: Now.

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: Whoa!

MATT: As you grasp the rest of the party, in the same arrangement, I assume, as the previous day's travel, Immediately (wings flapping) You all begin to lift up at roughly the same time, and as you pull up away, once again, you have an incredible now better-lit overall view of the treacherous mountainous terrain that you plopped down in the middle of. You can see some scattering elements of trees and pine, but other than that, falling from this height would be terrible, because a lot of the rock and exposed ice tends to come to a rather jagged point facing upward. But you can see, immediately where you were, beyond what you can initially see, about 14 wolves had begun to circle where you had arrived, and they all look up as you take off, and you imagine their frustration.

TALIESIN: It's really for the best. It wouldn't have gone well for anybody. They can understand me.

MATT: They can.

TALIESIN: It makes me really happy.

MATT: They can.

TALIESIN: The best part.

MATT: You feel good that at least you've notified them that it's no hard feelings.

TALIESIN: No.

MATT: But nevertheless, pushing on ahead for the next hour of travel, that'll get you another 16 miles.

LAURA: Great.

LIAM: Were we just at the mountains that are-- that the Allowak's Sanctuary is at the foot of? Is that where we were?

MATT: Allowak's Sanctuary is to the west of this mountain range.

LIAM: Oh, okay.

MATT: And then the lava river is to the east. Sorry, it's west for the sanctuary, and then east for the river, and you either had to choose one path or the other, and you guys decided, "No, fuck it, we'll go over." So that's what you did.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: All right.

SAM: So we aren't going through yeti village.

LAURA and MATT: No.

MATT: You guys are flying in between, taking a straight line shot.

TRAVIS: We're still south of where the flow shift would be on the map.

MATT: Correct, yeah. In fact, with the eagles' traveling, you're gaining some time on there. You wouldn't make it all the way to beyond the mountain range, but you will make it towards the decline and the safer region to hike down.

SAM: Tight tight tight.

MATT: So early in the day, as soon as you sense the spell duration begin to fade, the eagles all together, one following the other, probably following Caleb since you transformed first and would sense it before anybody else, begin to descend. Exactly. And he goes and glances down, you hear him shouting over the wind around you. Blowing past, he's like, "I think right there's probably the safest place!"

LIAM: (squawks)

MATT: "You can't see me because you-- Let's go down!"

TALIESIN: That's the safest place, right over there.

TRAVIS: Nice.

MATT: "To the right!"

TALIESIN: To the right!

MATT: "A little to the left!"

TALIESIN: Little to the left!

MATT: Guiding you verbally as you guys begin to make your way down.

TRAVIS: Like a ship, I love it.

MATT: Right before the spell duration ends, you safely come to rest on a small cliff side that begins to head into a relatively dangerous switchback pathway, natural switchback pathway, with some gaps, but traversable. And as soon as you all land and go back into your forms, Dagen's glancing over for a bit and is biting the edge of his thumb and goes, "I think we could make this work. All right. Keep up," and begins to wheel himself towards the edge of the first walkway downward. Any preparation you guys want to do before beginning to descend this side of the mountain range?

LAURA: Dagen!

MATT: "What?"

LAURA: How long would it have taken to walk this far?

MATT: "This far probably would've taken an additional day of travel, if not a little more."

MARISHA: Hell yeah.

LAURA: That's great!

ASHLEY: It's very good.

TRAVIS: If the map is any indication, we're roughly just shy of completing a third of our way to A2.

MARISHA: Good work.

MATT: "Two hours of work and about a day's not too bad. All right, so."

SAM: How are we getting down the mountain? Are we sledding down?

MATT: "We are-- well, some of you are walking. I'm sledding, and wheeling, and then we'll climb down where it's necessary."

SAM: Can we make a big sled or something, for all of us?

MATT: "I mean, you're welcome to. I ain't getting in that shit."

TRAVIS: There's no, like, trees around here, right?

SAM: I don't know, we can paint us a sled?

LAURA: We don't have anything to paint on, Nott!

MARISHA: Any fauna?

MATT: There are scattered trees. It's nowhere near as dense as some of the Empire mountains, and you can see a lot of them are finding nooks and crannies so they're not entirely exposed to the elements and the dangers of the blizzard that would come through and eventually kill them off.

MARISHA: Are there, any, like, rare cold mountain flowers? Growing on a cliff face?

MATT: Make a nature check.

LIAM: You mean like rocks?

MARISHA: No, like a flower.

TALIESIN: Rocks are the flowers of the mountains.

MARISHA: Like a fucking flower, dude! 15.

MATT: 15? You wouldn't be able to recall much for this far north.

MARISHA: I don't see anything.

MATT: That was just recalling if there would be anything up here.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: If you want to look specifically for anything, make a perception check.

LAURA: Can I guide her? I can't guide her, can I? Because I don't know.

MARISHA: Yeah, okay. 19.

MATT: 19.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: On this part of the mountain range, you don't really see much in the way of gentle fauna.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Flora or fauna. You do see some barer trees. You can see some of the taller pines that push through the nooks and crannies of this mountainside. They are bald in some places where heavy blizzard or storms may have stripped elements away, but nothing in particular of what you're looking for. So you're traveling on?

TRAVIS: I believe so.

SAM: I'm want to make a fucking sled!

MATT: You want to make a sled?

TRAVIS: What would we use? Do we have any extra, like, cloaks?

TALIESIN: Is it a sled just for you, or a sled for everybody?

LAURA: Here, you want to sit on my shield?

MARISHA: Yeah, take the shield.

TALIESIN: That's what shields are for.

MATT: Jester's shield, both of their shields are big enough for you to sled on, if you wanted.

MARISHA: I think we have an extra one in the bag of holding.

TALIESIN: I might have an extra shield.

TRAVIS: Perfectly good way to endanger ourselves unnecessarily.

LAURA: Yeah. You get really fast, believe me.

TALIESIN: I have an extra shield.

SAM: All right, I'll take your shield.

MARISHA: Do it.

LIAM: He's probably the only one who hasn't seen Willow in this room. (laughter)

SAM: I've seen Willow.

LAURA: You have?

TALIESIN: Have you?

SAM: My kids just watched it a few weeks ago.

MATT: Best Val Kilmer role ever.

TALIESIN: So here you go.

SAM: Thank you! Oh, it's heavy.

TALIESIN: It's a little heavy.

SAM: All right.

MATT: So as you take the shield and walk up to the edge of the cliff where you saw Dagen's already making his way down, it's steep and rocky with trees.

SAM: So it's not like a-- I was picturing, like, a gentle slope.

TRAVIS: No, I think it's like a double black diamond. You're the asshole that walks up with the cooking tray and you're like, "No problem!"

MATT: Yeah, the Empire kids don't vacation up north here to ride down for the holiday. There's still, on foot, another, like, hour to an hour and a half of travel before you reach the base of the mountain.

ASHLEY: So an hour and a half sled ride?

SAM: I'll give the shield back.

MATT: No, it would be like a... a four minute sled ride, and whatever remains of you when you get to the bottom...

TRAVIS: Very little to break with. But I think you should go.

TALIESIN: Once we're a safe distance down, it'll be time.

MATT: There will be a moment where you will be able to sled. Just I would recommend not doing it now.

SAM: Okay. (laughter) Forget it, forget it.

TRAVIS: Now you're making me want to do it.

LIAM: What if I turn her into a fish first? (laughter)

MATT: It's worked before.

MARISHA: I hate you so much. Why me? Why is it turned onto me? I was, like, 13 in that headshot, man. 14.

ASHLEY: Where did you find that?

LIAM: Oh, wow.

SAM: I don't know.

TRAVIS: Is that before--

MARISHA: I don't even know how old I was.

LAURA: It's a head shot.

MARISHA: I still lived in Kentucky. That was when I was working for Actors Theatre of Louisville. That's how old that shit is.

TALIESIN: I can still see the unbroken dreams, it's amazing.

MARISHA: Yeah. See all the hope still in my eyes? It's great.

LIAM: They were forged [inaudible] like Fjord's sword.

MATT: So traveling down the mountainside.

TRAVIS: Cautiously behind Dagen.

TALIESIN: I'm going to cast Death Ward on myself because I've seen too much in the last couple of episodes. I got eight hours.

MATT: Fair enough.

TALIESIN: No.

MATT: The journey is not that treacherous, especially thanks to Dagen leading you through. There are a couple moments in the mountainside where a rope has to be affixed, and you all lower yourselves down before tugging or cutting it off, but as you make your way further, there is, at the end of the first hour of travel on foot, a moment where you, Veth, think, dangerously but possibly, there is a sleddable hill to the bottom.

SAM: Oh, we've reached that moment.

MATT: Yes, you have.

SAM: Caduceus, Mr. Clay, thank you.

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

SAM: Ahem. Is there one side that's like-- it's a teardrop shape?

TALIESIN: It's round, but it's got some grooves, so it'll move in a direction.

SAM: All right, all right. I'll position it in a...

ASHLEY: Do you want a push?

LAURA: Be careful, because when I did it before, my shield is circular, too, and you tend to spin really easy, and then you can get a real good--

SAM: Okay.

ASHLEY: Here, I'll hold the back so you can get on.

SAM: Maybe I can... What do I have, what do I have? Let's see here.

TALIESIN: Oh god, how dumb--

LIAM: Do you have anything that could act as a rudder?

SAM: That's what I'm looking for, yeah.

TALIESIN: Oh, this is such a bad idea.

TRAVIS: Following us.

TALIESIN: Oh no.

LAURA: What do you want to do?

TALIESIN: How dumb do we want to be?

SAM: You know what? I have--

LIAM: Pretty dumb.

SAM: -- Beauregard's wind fan. So maybe I could, like, like, use it as like a-- like in Florida.

MARISHA: A rudder?

SAM: Those, those like, those.

TRAVIS: Wind sails?

SAM: Those wind-- those swamp boats that have, like, the rudder on the back?

TRAVIS: Oh, those big-ass fans?

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: Yeah, I don't know. Like a wind rudder.

MARISHA: Yeah, you could try it.

MATT: A fan boat? Okay. Sure. All right, so you position your fan, you get right to the edge and start that slow scoot, and right, you get to that fulcrum point where it begins to rotate, and that voice in the back of your head begins to regret everything that led to this moment. But it's too late now because you begin to tip forward.

LAURA: Right before she takes off, I'm going to just pat her on the back and say, May the Traveler guide you. And I'm going to give her Guidance on the way down.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: So one roll, you get.

MATT: So there's one moment where you're like, "You know what, I'm not going to do this." As you begin to back up, Jester goes (impact) and gives you one little shove on the back, and you immediately (whooshing). Coasting down at an incredible speed. The wind had already numbed the edge of your nose and ears just traveling down the side, but now your whole face is numb, your eyes are beginning to water and freeze on the edges, you're just like, "Ah! Ah!" Making your way down.

LAURA: ♪ Making your way down! ♪

MATT: Immediately, it begins to spin to one side, and you can see there's a cluster of trees heading up your way. What do you do?

SAM: I'm going to fan left!

MATT: Fan left! Shh! You coast to the side, and as you do, the snow sprays off the back! And suddenly you're given even more force than you expected before, and as you do, you actually coast off the snow for a second. Impact hard! (cheering) As you do, you're now scooting towards-- you see a bit of a turn, but the speed that you have is setting you in a position where you can bank it, maybe, but you're not sure what's beyond it. You can't really tell how it goes. What are you going to do?

SAM: I'm going to-- wait, so if I continue, I'll be sort of flying up and over?

MATT: To whatever's beyond that.

SAM: And if I-- could I try to make the turn? Okay, I'm going to try to lean hard and fan right. Yeah, fan right!

MATT: All right, all right. Go ahead and make an acrobatics check for me.

SAM: Okay.

LAURA: And you get to add a d4 to that!

MATT: You do.

SAM: Oh, thank god!

TRAVIS: This would be the way.

SAM: One, two, six.

MATT: Well, don't forget, you also can't roll lower than 10.

SAM: Oh, that's right.

MATT: Because acrobatics, you do have training.

SAM: You're totally right, so that's a 22.

MATT: 22, as you scoot along, you pull the fan to the side, and you guys watch as snow just sprays off and for a second, you're afraid you lost Nott, and then you see the shape of her against the white snow now coasting in the opposite direction. You turn around and scoot.

SAM: Woo hoo hoo!

ASHLEY: Yeah!

TRAVIS: Should we be giving chase at all?

LAURA: I know, she's going to be down there for a while waiting for us.

LIAM: Let's just see how this plays out, hold on.

MATT: Turning to the opposite side, you can see there's now a cluster of trees in your path, and you can try and maneuver through.

SAM: I'm going to definitely try to maneuver through.

MATT: Okay, go ahead and make three acrobatics checks for me, please.

SAM: Okay, it says on D&D Beyond, D&D Beyond, that there's a little green A next to acrobatics. Does that mean I get advantage all the time, or what is that? No, that's...

MATT: A means advantage.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: Do you have anything that gives you advantage on acrobatics normally?

SAM: I don't know.

LAURA: Is it a halfling thing?

SAM: It's always there.

MARISHA: Is it a rogue thing?

SAM: It just says, there's A next to it, always. I don't know.

MATT: Well.

MARISHA: Did you feed into it?

SAM: Eh, it's fine. We're fine.

MATT: Until you discover what that is, it doesn't apply to this, so.

SAM: Great. All right, here we go. Four acrobatics checks?

MATT: Three.

SAM: Three, okay. 14.

MATT: 14.

SAM: 14 and a one.

LAURA: (gasps) No, you can't roll lower than a--

MATT: You can't roll lower than a--

SAM: For sure. So that becomes a 10.

MATT: A 10.

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: That's a 10 plus your acrobatics.

SAM: So the 14 is a 24, the 14 is a 24, and the 10 is a 20.

MATT: There you go.

ASHLEY: Jeez.

LAURA: God, yeah, I mean, what?

MATT: You are designed for this shit.

MARISHA: Hit the A.

MATT: Thankfully, your smaller halfling size means that you're a little more aerodynamic, the wind fan helping guide you from behind like a fan boat, and you knowing how to adjust your weight and positioning as you've been doing that for a good portion of your life to be unseen and to not make any sound. You lean back and find yourself dodging between trees. A couple of them you actually pinball off of. Ping, ping. Until eventually the trees vanish, and all you see is this what you think is a gradual decline, you're like, "Oh cool," and then you realize it's a fast-approaching cliff edge.

MARISHA: (gasps)

SAM: I got to bail. Oh no!

MARISHA: Oh!

MATT: You are in the air. (wind whooshing) (laughter)

ASHLEY: No.

MATT: There is about a 50-foot drop.

SAM: Okay.

TRAVIS: That's no big deal for you.

SAM: No big deal.

MATT: I need you to go ahead and make one more acrobatics check to see if you can land properly.

TRAVIS: Stick that shit, Shaun White, let's go.

MATT: This is a higher DC, so.

SAM: By the way, I don't get advantage. That's only advantage on escape from being grappled.

MATT: Gotcha.

TRAVIS: Come on, Lindsey Vonn, Super-G.

ASHLEY: Let's do it.

SAM: That's a 10. Do I still get your Guidance?

LAURA: No.

SAM: Okay. So that's a 20.

MATT: That's a 20? So.

LAURA: Oh no. Oh no.

MARISHA: I want a Veth-shaped hole in the snow.

MATT: You watch as, in the middle of the air, Veth kicks out the shield a bit, trying to pull some of that Yasha Skingorger snowboarding action, and the shield just fitters out of your grasp.

SAM: Oh no! It's just me and a fan. I'm going to--

MATT: Yep.

SAM: -- fan down, see if I can-- (laughter)

MATT: So from the rest of your perspective, you know that moment where Wile E. Coyote like plummets off the cliff edge and there's just like the cloud?

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: On impact? You just see the snow, you just see a snow ploof go, pff. (laughter) Thankfully, it's snow where you impact, so you don't take any damage, but there's a moment where your whole body is just locked in ice cold freezing temperature, and you scramble up about seven feet of snow to get back to a surface, and you survived.

SAM: Hey!

ASHLEY: French pow!

LAURA: That is so dangerous. You could've suffocated in all that snow.

SAM: Totally.

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: That was awesome!

LIAM: Did we see--

ASHLEY: Perfect 10!

LIAM: From our height, we just saw, nyoom, pew.

LAURA: We don't know.

MATT: Yep. And a pff.

LAURA: Okay, so we didn't--

MARISHA: She's fine, right?

LAURA: We should make sure she's-- we should head down.

TALIESIN: I mean, yeah.

ASHLEY: Should we do the same? I don't know, no no no no no.

MATT: "I'm next!" And Dagen goes ahead and wheels himself off the edge of the cliff the same way that Veth did, with his front attachments that you've seen him use for almost the entire journey here, especially in the areas where you're going down hills and such. He is full on ski-sledding down the side of the mountain. You hear him yelling, "Woo!" As he pulls to one side and begins to spray this way, pulls to this side, off this way. He's old hat, he's come across this place, and without issue, you see him make his way down the edge of the mountain, up to the point of the cliff and (whooshing).

LAURA: (gasps)

MATT: Lands it without issue, until eventually you see him come to the very base and spin around and then turn back and just go, "Woo!" You hear the voice echo up the side of the mountain.

MARISHA: Is Veth okay? I shout down to him.

MATT: "Mostly!"

MARISHA: Ah, yeah, she's fine.

LAURA: We're going to set off an avalanche.

ASHLEY: Do we go?

MATT: Not yet.

TRAVIS: Ah!

MARISHA: I'm sure it's possible.

TRAVIS: Like, rider shout shit.

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ASHLEY: I mean, this is the only way down, right?

LAURA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Is it?

SAM: Here, I'll just fire off my pistol to let you know that I'm okay.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'll take out Skingorger and get it ready, like, you know, at the top of a ramp and then go down.

MATT: Go down. Following the same path previously carved by your two friends makes it a little easier because some of the snow's been broken up. Go ahead and make, for the purposes of this, two acrobatics checks for me.

ASHLEY: Okay. Okay, so, that would be-- Wait, did you say acrobatics or athletics?

MATT: Actually, it'd be one or the other. So for you, it'd probably be athletics.

ASHLEY: Okay, so first one is a 26.

TALIESIN: Oof.

ASHLEY: Second one is a 24.

TALIESIN: Ooh!

MATT: It's like you've been doing this your whole life. It was made easier because your friends went beforehand, nevertheless, without having to swerve so heavily left or right with the wind fan blowing you a little bit off course, you find the same gentle path, comparatively, that Dagen had made his way down with, and when you eventually get to that final bit, you lift off the cliff, hold in the air, and then impact. It's soft, but you catch it with the edge of Skingorger, and then glide the rest of the way down. You have now climbed your way out and are like (panting)

SAM: (sniffing) Oh, there's so much snot!

MATT: And you watch as Yasha lands about two feet in front of you and sprays snow back onto your face.

ASHLEY: Cover all the snow, you know?

LAURA: I mean, we've got shields.

TALIESIN: YOLO, yeah. Going down. (laughter)

TRAVIS, ASHLEY, and SAM: "YOLO."

MATT: Classic Wild Mother adage.

TALIESIN: Yeah. (laughter)

TALIESIN: I'm going to try and--

LAURA: I'm going to try to race him down to the bottom.

TALIESIN: I'm going to try and--

LAURA: On my shield.

MATT: So you're both going at the same time?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm going to catamarans, like, try and sit on it and use my staff.

TRAVIS: Do we just start walking?

MARISHA: Yeah, let's just walk.

TRAVIS: Yeah, okay.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Two acrobatics checks?

MARISHA: Eh.

MATT: No, for you, it would be three, because you haven't done this before.

TALIESIN: Okay, I'm into it.

MATT: You've done this once before.

TALIESIN: And I'm bad at this, this'll be funny.

LAURA: We have, we've sledded, we sledded before on our shields.

MATT: Eh.

TALIESIN: That one time at the temple?

LAURA: That one time that we did it.

TALIESIN: And I nearly died.

LAURA: Yeah, that time.

TALIESIN: That doesn't count, does it? All right.

MATT: So first pass for each of you.

TALIESIN: 14.

LAURA: Ooh! Acrobatics?

MATT: Yes, or athletics, your choice.

LAURA: T-t-twelve?

MARISHA: T-t-t-twelve?

TALIESIN: I'm going to give myself some Guidance, just in case.

MATT: Okay. Well, the first pass, as you both begin to head down with extreme speed and prejudice, immediately the wind's (whooshing) past you, the bits of light snow that's still falling begin pelting you in the face. Caduceus, putting your staff out behind to use like a rudder, you grind past and turn to the left, and you narrowly avoid being smashed into by Jester, who is unable to turn quite as gracefully.

LAURA: (screams)

TALIESIN: Oh boy!

MATT: And while you didn't bail from the shield, you do have disadvantage on your next check, so.

LAURA: Oh no!

MATT: Second pass on each of you, roll another athletics or acrobatics.

LAURA: Guide me! Ooh!

MATT: Disadvantage, don't forget.

LAURA: I know, I know, I did it, it's my advantage roller.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Ah, ah!

TALIESIN: 14.

MATT: 14 again.

LAURA: Well, that one's gone. Hold on.

SAM: Burn it. Touched the ground.

LAURA: 21.

MATT: 21, nice, nice. So as you begin to spin around the corner where you saw Veth bank initially, and Yasha use with a little more acumen, it doesn't cause much of an issue, and you barely scoot, you almost glide off the edge.

TALIESIN: Oh boy.

MATT: But you manage to just barely crest-- which you have just enough of a view as you bank off the side to glance over the side, and it is a sheer rock cliff on the opposite end.

TALIESIN: Yeah, no.

MATT: And as you spin by, you watch as Jester cuts you off and is now about three or four feet ahead of you.

SAM: Oh.

LAURA: (cackles)

TALIESIN: Oh no.

TRAVIS: I'm not doing that.

MARISHA: She's that friend at go karts? She's that guy.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I'm that guy.

SAM: Turbo booster.

TRAVIS: Yeah, you are.

LAURA: I throw a banana peel behind me!

TRAVIS: What happened?

MATT: So now as the both of you are coming towards the cluster of trees, following Yasha's path and both-- actually, you both have pretty decent passive perceptions, you're able to follow the path that Veth and Yasha had previously cut into. Probably Yasha's, since being larger and a little more, no offense, skilled at this portion of it.

SAM: Sure, sure.

MATT: Make one more check for each of you.

TALIESIN: Oh boy.

ASHLEY: Come on.

TALIESIN: Oh no.

LAURA: Oh no. Oh, I didn't even guide myself this time.

MATT: Nope.

TALIESIN: Seven.

LAURA: 11.

TALIESIN: Hey!

LAURA: Hey!

MATT: So the rest of you are watching as they bank off the side and catch up and scoot by on the outside. They both go, woo! And go into the cluster of trees.

LAURA: Oh no.

SAM: Oh no. Our healers.

MATT: They're not-- (laughter) They're not making it out the other side there. Both of you--

LAURA: Ow!

SAM: Not funny!

MATT: Eight points of bludgeoning damage, nine points of bludgeoning damage, as you watch Caduceus just, wham, into the edge of a tree. It doesn't catch him full-on, but it catches him in the shoulder and he goes spinning off of his shield, and both eventually begin slowly haphazardly sliding through the forest. You laugh for a second, glancing over your shoulder, as he totally biffs, and then, whack! You hit a smaller tree that sends you flying off the shield, ass over teakettle, before (impact) into the snow. Your shield lands over on its side, and both of you are now gently gliding side by side through--

SAM: Like when you fall on a mogul?

LAURA: As we're prone, I'm just going to high five him.

MATT: And you slowly make your way towards the cliff now.

LAURA: Oh, oh, stop, stop, stop.

TALIESIN: I'm going to dig in for that.

LAURA: I'm going to hold onto him as he digs in.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: (screaming)

MATT: Because you guys did lose momentum, it's easy enough to stop as you dig in and you both come to the edge of the cliff. And it's about a 45, 50-foot drop before the next snowbank.

TALIESIN: I'm going to pick up my shield and I guess we'll just--

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: Same.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: How do we get down?

TALIESIN: Maybe we could wait for the others.

LAURA: Yeah, let's wait.

TALIESIN: Okay, let's just wait.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: That's fine.

TRAVIS: That looked so graceful! Nice job!

MARISHA: Did you break any bones?

LAURA: Did I win? I beat him, right? I beat Caduceus?

MARISHA: There's no winner here today. (laughter)

MATT: All right, so the rest of you are walking down?

TRAVIS: Just trudging down.

MATT: Okay. So those at the bottom, you get to wait about 25 or so minutes for the rest of the group to catch up, but nevertheless, you all gather at the foot of the mountain range and you now have a fairly hilly but open, less mountainous journey ahead of you onwards towards A5.

LIAM: Before everybody leaves, a puffin circles down from the sky. (wings flapping) And just lands on Fjord's shoulder.

TRAVIS: A puffin? Huh, what is this? What? What is this thing?

LAURA: Oh.

MATT: Roll initiative.

LAURA: Is it an orange puffin?

TRAVIS: Is it orange?

LIAM: Just around the beak here.

LAURA: It's Caleb.

TRAVIS: Oh, Jesus.

LIAM: Peck, peck, peck, peck!

TRAVIS: Ah! Not the ear, please! This is odd. Can you understand me?

LIAM: Meh.

TRAVIS: We're sure it's Caleb, right?

LAURA: Caleb gets real stupid when he polymorphs.

TRAVIS: Oh, right.

TALIESIN: Caleb, do you understand him?

LIAM: Meh meh meh.

TALIESIN: I take that as a yes.

TRAVIS: You've got strong feet here. I put him up on my hand and I'm like: Here's Beau, and I put him on Beau's head.

MARISHA: Oh, why the head?

LIAM: (blows raspberry)

MARISHA: It gets, ah. Ah!

TRAVIS: He totally did not just shit on your head.

TALIESIN: It'll be cold enough in a minute, you can just crack it right out.

MARISHA: Ugh.

LIAM: Yeah, that's true, good point. It's the best place for me to shit on your head, to be honest.

MATT: All righty.

MARISHA: A sentence you said to me, Liam O'Brien. (laughter)

SAM: If I had a nickel.

LIAM: You've heard it.

MATT: Dagen rounds you up. "All right, back on the road." He leads on forward. I need someone to roll for the next day's journey, since you are--

MARISHA: I know, I feel like we left off somewhere over here.

TRAVIS: I did the worm, I created the fucking--

MARISHA: Boulder, parchment, shears. Okay, go, Jester.

LAURA: I'll use my turn. What am I rolling? A 20?

MATT: A d20 for me, please.

ASHLEY: Boulder, parchment, shears, but make sure you do it with three people.

MATT and MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: 17.

MATT: 17. The weather for this day clears up. It seems the storm from the night before has blown through. There is an actual blue sky above, which you think would bring warmth, but if anything, it just brings comfort. It's still chilly, but you, following Dagen's lead, manage to maneuver through this snowy tundra region with little patches of trees growing lesser and lesser the further north you go, and manage to avoid seemingly any other dangerous encounters along the way. So that's a good journey there. You caught some time. You have a little over three days now at this point before you make your way to A2.

MARISHA: Three days.

TRAVIS: Three days out, okay.

SAM: Is there anyone that we need to check in on? Just in the world?

TALIESIN: Before we go to sleep, too, I'm going to cast Locate Creature.

MARISHA: When can we talk to Avantika?

LAURA: I mean, we've still got a lot of day left, don't we?

MATT: Yeah, mm-hmm, well, like, you guys are walking, but I'm just going through the events of the day, and if there's anything you want to do during the day, you can do it, yes.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: But there were no encounters that found you on this part of the trip.

SAM: We can't talk to Vess yet, again, right?

MARISHA: It's got to be close, though.

LAURA: Yeah, I think we're pretty close. We had, like--

MARISHA: I think we only had two days left last game.

LIAM: Yeah, that's right. We were saying two more days.

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah.

LAURA: So maybe one more night, and then we'll be able to do it tomorrow.

SAM: And is there anyone else that we needed, that we wanted to check in on, or?

LAURA: I mean, I talked to Essek. I could send a message to the Plank King for you, Fjord.

TRAVIS: Oh my god. No, no, no, no, no.

LAURA: Just to see if he'll let us back on Darktow.

TRAVIS: I think if we go back to Darktow, we're going to do it in a clandestine fashion. Better not to, you know, tip him off that we're even thinking about it.

LAURA: Got it.

SAM: Are we being scryed on right now, by the way?

TRAVIS: Oh, good question. I'll summon the sword and say: Galas-var. And See Invisibility.

MATT: All right. Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Nice. 22.

MATT: Feeling fairly confident in the scan around you, you do not see any signs of a peeking beacon or arcane eye looking upon you or the troupe around you.

TRAVIS: Seems clear.

LAURA: How strong of a radius does this necklace have?

LIAM: Oh! How long have you had that on?

LAURA: Fjord gave it to me because apparently, you know, Molly had been, I mean-- Lucien had been scrying on...

LIAM: It's your person and everything on you.

LAURA: It's not like if everybody within five feet of me or something?

LIAM: It seemed to have somewhat of an effect on my general vicinity a few times in the past, it felt like.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: It's a little hazy.

LAURA: So everybody just stay really close to me.

SAM: Speaking of your person and everything on it, I think when you sledded, you might have dropped your weasel friend.

LAURA: No, no, no, no, he's right here.

SAM: Oh!

LAURA: He was just hiding in my hood.

SAM: Oh, okay.

TRAVIS: He absorbed most of the impact from the tree. (laughter)

TRAVIS: (chokes)

MATT: You would know, Caleb.

TRAVIS: One of his eyes is--

MATT: The device, it protects the wearer from directly focused divination.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: So if somebody were to want to say, like, I want to scry on Caleb, it would prevent that.

LIAM: That I know, just in our story early days, there was some scrying on us and I asked if I could wave it into a similar scrying ball which made it go away, so.

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: I thought it had a little bit of wiggle.

MATT: A little bit of wiggle, but it depends on the nature of it.

LIAM: Yeah. Person-specific.

MATT: Yeah. All right, so. Anything else anyone wants to do?

LAURA: Anybody? Do we want to talk to anybody?

MARISHA: Do you want to talk to Yeza and Luc?

SAM: Yeah, if we have spells to burn, just say, you know, wife's okay, still alive.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to send a message to Yeza.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Yeza! Everything's fine, Veth's okay. She loves you so much. How are you guys? How's Luc? It's cold here! She loves you! Did I already say that?

SAM: Yeah, that's okay, could be more than once.

MATT: Yeza responds. "Oh, uh, hi! That's great, thanks for the update. We're good. I think Luc has a crush. Um, but everything's good!"

SAM: Kill her.

MARISHA and MATT: (laughs)

LAURA: Who would, he's so young!

SAM: What does that mean?

MARISHA: Wait, how old is he, actually?

SAM: It's unclear! (laughter) I thought three, but now I'm thinking closer to 13! (laughter)

MATT: Not quite, not quite.

LAURA: Like five now?

LIAM: A five year old can take a shine to somebody.

SAM: You know what, Beau? The halfling aging process is a mystery to all.

MARISHA: I remember being, you know, infatuated with people, at like six, seven years old.

SAM: Who were you infatuated with as a six year old? Did you have, like, you're from a fancy wine family, right?

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: Did you have tutors and stuff, or did you, like, how did you learn?

MARISHA: I went to, like, a fancy private school, that no one really liked me much because I came from the rich family of the town, so. Yeah, a little ostracized there. It was weird.

SAM: So then who did you fancy? Who did you make googly eyes at?

MARISHA: You know, it's funny, I remember this chef that we had, back when I was-- like, a personal chef. We would hire her sometimes, you know, whenever we would have parties. Not all the time, but you know, fancy events. And she was always just really kind to me, but she was always just like, she was super cool, and she would bring me, like, sneak me treats sometimes, you know? She would always like stash aside some dessert and like extra bread and stuff and the end of the day and like slip it to me, and then when I started getting older, she would slip me some, like, little slips of wine, but be like, don't, you know, "Don't tell your parents." She was just the coolest, and I didn't really know until I was older what those feelings were.

SAM: Wow.

MARISHA: Yeah. Looking back, though. She probably should've been a sign.

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: Assigned to you.

MARISHA: Yeah, I probably wouldn't have, like, you know, had that first boyfriend if I would've, like, connected that I was having, like, "Oh, she really hot," type of feelings.

SAM: Hmm. But you-- just because I'm morbidly curious.

MARISHA: Sure.

SAM: You did have-- who was your first boyfriend?

MARISHA: His name was--

SAM: Oh my god.

TRAVIS: It is not written down somewhere.

LAURA: Did you really write that down?

MARISHA: His name-- Hmm.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: Yeza. (screaming) I'll fucking murder you!

LAURA: (screaming)

TRAVIS: Dunamancy's real!

MATT: (as Yeza) "It just never came up! I didn't know how to bring it--"

TRAVIS: Time travel! (laughter)

LIAM: Full circle.

MARISHA: Fuck, fuck.

LAURA: You can make it up, we won't know.

MARISHA: His name was-- Um, Tony.

LAURA: Matony.

TRAVIS: Matony?

LAURA: Matony.

LIAM: Wasn't your alter ego Tori?

SAM: Did you say Tony?

TRAVIS: Tony?

MARISHA: No.

MATT: Matony. Hi, guys.

SAM: Did you guys date for a while? It was must have been very awkward.

MARISHA: It was not--

TRAVIS: ♪ My Tony ♪

ASHLEY: ♪ My Tony ♪

TRAVIS: ♪ Wherever I go ♪

MARISHA: We were teenagers. It wasn't, like, a thing, and then we were kind of-- We ended up being more bros than anything, after a bit. And then that was actually when I did start dating Tori.

LAURA: Tony into Tori? Oh, he must of felt so bad.

MARISHA: Well, Tori-- Tori was the first lady that I dated.

LIAM: That must've been supremely confusing. Those two names in a row.

MARISHA: (laughs) Uh-huh! Well, you know I'm trying to-- There's been-- I've been hit in the head a lot, you know, as a monk, so I don't think his name was Tony.

LAURA: Maybe it's like, you know, when you get a tattoo and then you regret the tattoo so you have to date somebody that has a similar name so you can, like, fix the tattoo?

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

SAM: Is that why you have a Toby tattoo? (laughter)

MATT: Canon.

MARISHA: It just got really muddy. I just-- They just kept adding lines.

LIAM: Name, line. Name, line. Name, line.

TALIESIN: Kind of got rid of the-- covered up the--

MATT: Dagen's like, "Is that your kill list?" Sure! (laughter)

MARISHA: No, no tattoos of Tony or Tori.

MATT: During this conversation, a voice creeps into your head.

LAURA: Uh-oh.

TRAVIS: Oh shit.

LIAM: Balls.

MATT: An unfamiliar voice.

SAM: (exaggerated Italian accent) It's me, Tony! (laughter)

TRAVIS: Wait! There is a spirit.

SAM: I heard you been talking about me! (laughter)

MARISHA: I hate it when people from high school call you. (laughter)

SAM: (same accent) I found you on Facebook! How you doin'?

MARISHA: Ah, why? What did I see in this guy? (laughter)

MATT: So! Unfamiliar voice goes, "Associate of Essek, Uraya, here, sending word to keep Essek updated of your estimated arrival. Should you need emergency aid, reach out. Be careful." That's all.

LIAM: Pretty close to your accent.

LAURA: How far away are we from-- Did-- Wait. Essek, from that message-- Was Essek trying to find out how far away we are?

MATT: He was saying to keep him aware of whenever you're getting close, essentially.

LAURA: Okay! We will-- huh? We're around two days away, I think. But I'm not totally sure. Please tell him that we like him a whole lot and miss him.

TALIESIN: Two days from him, or two days from our destination?

TRAVIS: From that general region, yeah. From. We're kind of on the same-- Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah, that's pretty much it. I'll send a message. I don't know how many words that was.

MATT: And you'll never know.

TALIESIN: Do have any more, or are you out?

LAURA: ♪ Do, do, do, do, do! ♪

TALIESIN: I mean, do you have any more message spells?

LAURA: Oh, yeah. (laughter)

MATT: I was like, that is the weirdest response.

TRAVIS: From Robin Hood.

TALIESIN: Going full Robin Hood. Never go full Robin Hood.

ASHLEY and TRAVIS: ♪ Do, Do, Do, Do, Do. ♪

LIAM: Yes or no?

MATT: Jester just goes full tilt in the middle of this journey.

LIAM: ♪ Do, Do, Do, Do, Do ♪

MATT: And we've lost her. (laughter)

TALIESIN: You did the Walken song. Why'd you do the Walken song? (laughter)

LAURA: Yes, I do have more messages I can send.

TALIESIN: Oh, that's good, because I have a super serious message I want to send that requires real--

LAURA: Okay, I'm ready.

TRAVIS: (gun cocking sound)

TALIESIN: Would you mind checking in with my sister, Calliope, just to make sure everything at home is copacetic?

LAURA: Yes, what would you-- Just ask her if everything's okay? Anything specific?

TALIESIN: How things are going. How mom and dad are. If everything's-- And that, you know, we're-- We've got some stuff to do and it's dangerous, but hopefully everything's going to work out. Let them know when it's all over.

LAURA: Okay, and this is to Calliope?

TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah.

LAURA: Okay. Hey, it's Jester! With Caduceus. How are things at home? Mom and dad okay? How's the Grove? How's the circle of thumbs up?

TALIESIN: Are we-- we're going to be doing dangerous stuff, but it's okay. Be home soon.

LAURA: I'm not--

MARISHA: "How's the circle of thumbs up?" (laughter)

TALIESIN: I didn't even hear it. (laughter)

LIAM: That was at A?.

MATT: Yeah. Calliope responds, "Oh, everything's okay. We've planted the crystals."

LAURA: Planted the crystals.

TALIESIN: Mm.

MATT: "Taking root."

LAURA: Taking root.

MATT: "Excited to show when he comes back."

LAURA: (gasps) Everything sounds like it's great! She's excited to show you.

TALIESIN: All right. All right, that's good to know.

LAURA: I'm sorry I didn't tell her we were entering trouble.

TALIESIN: Probably for the best that they don't worry, anyway.

LAURA: (sighs) You never ask me to send messages and I got it all wrong.

TALIESIN: No, it was pretty good, actually, it's a-- If anything, I appreciate that they're probably a little confused. That makes me feel better.

LAURA: Okay. That's good. I got one left. Anybody? Anybody? Up for grabs here. I got two left, technically.

MARISHA: Let's save it, just in case-ies.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: You could prank call somebody, if you want.

ASHLEY: I know, I'm trying to think of somebody.

TALIESIN: Somebody you've never met, just put a voice into their head.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ASHLEY and TALIESIN: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Think about it. Well, let's save them.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: Okay. So--

ASHLEY: Actually, could we put a call into Tony? No, I'm just kidding. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Where he is, what he's doing.

MARISHA: Oh shit, you've still have my number? (laughter)

TALIESIN: What he's thinking about. Is he thinking about you? Doubt he'll ever return.

MATT: New mind, who dis?

SAM: Is he alone? Is he thinking of me?

MATT: All right. So as the day draws to a close, you camp up for another evening, I assume with the tower once again?

LIAM: Yeah, and--

MARISHA: But before we do that, as we're trotting that way, I trot up to Caleb: Hey, hey, hey, question. When you set this thing up, if you wanted to change a little tiny things do you have to do that ahead of time? Or can I, like, will it into existence when I'm in the tower?

LIAM: You have to ask me now.

MARISHA: I have to ask you now.

LIAM: Circle of trust.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. No, this is just good information to know, so I'll get back to you on that later, I think.

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: Yeah. Thank you.

LIAM: Sure.

MATT: All righty. So after you've set up your nein-sided tower, and the evening's rest ensues, unless anybody else--?

LIAM: Well, I just wanted to-- one small detail. When we all gather for dinner, I use Major Image to make a spectral Hupperdook around the entire table with dim little Hupperdook fireworks going off around, just for ambiance. That's all. Small detail.

LAURA: I'm going to send a message to Kiri.

SAM: Aww.

LAURA: I haven't talked to her in so long.

MARISHA: How is she? I approve of this, let's do this.

SAM: Birds don't live long.

MARISHA: That's not true.

LAURA: She's still alive.

SAM: Okay, okay.

LAURA: I'm going to send a message to Kiri.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: Kiri! How are you? We miss you! Um. We're in snow right now. How's Hupperdook? Looking at fireworks? Tell me you're cute! Also, that you're good.

MATT: The response comes, "We miss you! Hupperdook is interesting."

LAURA: (gasps)

MATT: "It's fun. We miss you! I built something." There's all these strange voices coming through with the different phrases from people she's picked up around her since then and such. "Please come!"

LAURA: (gasps)

MATT: "I am sweet." And that's where it ends. (awwing and laughter)

LAURA: She built something, how fun.

ASHLEY: Wonder what she--

SAM: Or at least someone who talked to her built something.

LAURA: No, she knows how to use words that people say.

SAM: Well, I mean.

LAURA: Oh, we need to go back and visit her soon, okay?

MARISHA: I would love to go back to Hupperdook.

TALIESIN: Mm.

LAURA: It was such a party.

MARISHA: It was a good time.

LIAM: Every once in a while, a little skeletal fish floats past Beauregard.

MARISHA: Good time. Lots of good times.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: That's it.

MATT: All righty. Well, a night's rest comes to a close. The following morning, breakfast awaits you with a fine, early morning meal shared amongst you. You gather your things and make your way back out through the main entrance into the cold, frozen north of Eiselcross once again. Trudging back out onto the snow and ice, as Dagen leads you forward, I need somebody else to go ahead and roll a d20.

SAM: That would be Liam Oberon.

LIAM: I'm going to use my new die.

MATT: Do it!

LIAM: Two!

SAM: (laughs)

TRAVIS: It's going to be good.

LIAM: Or nasty.

MATT: So upon exiting, already the sky is darker than the previous day. (laughter) A bright blue that led you on a gracious journey without issue. Within the first hour of travel, the temperature gets colder, the wind kicks up stronger, cutting and biting through you. The snowfall gets heavier, and heavier, and it begins to sting like hail. Before you realize you are in the center of an ice storm that is beginning to spray down from above.

ASHLEY: Ow!

MATT: Clustering up best you can, Dagen's like, "This is bad! It's real-- best stay close. If you got shields, keep them up! Ugh."

TRAVIS: Shields up!

MATT: He bundles up even heavier, and continues to push forward as you guys continue.

LAURA: Yasha, do you want to hold up the other shield that-- Oh wait, did we lose the other shield that Veth was on?

TALIESIN: No, no, no.

MATT: You're able to recover it.

LAURA: Okay. We can hold them up like umbrellas, at least.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I can help get underneath.

MATT: I need all of you to make a constitution saving for me, please.

ASHLEY: Oh!

TRAVIS: Oof.

LIAM: If it's really bad, I could just throw up the tower now.

SAM, LAURA, and LIAM: Now!

MATT: "That's up to you. We'll lose a day of travel."

TALIESIN: Nope, not very good.

MARISHA: Natural one for me.

TRAVIS: 11.

LAURA: Seven!

LIAM: 11.

SAM: Five!

ASHLEY: 18.

TALIESIN: Six.

TRAVIS: Shit!

LAURA: Oh my god.

LIAM: Whoa!

TRAVIS: That's the lowest group roll.

MATT: So Yasha!

LAURA: Yasha!

MATT: You hold up that shield and push through. After the first 30 minutes going, "We're doing okay," and you look back and the rest of your group is just beaten and pushing along. And you come back and try and help and rally and Dagen's pushing through and he's yelling, and it gets to the point where the sound of the storm and the wind is so loud that you're having to shout just to communicate to each other. But you continue pushing through for the day. And you make some distance, you still make the journey's length. But by the end of the day, you are beaten, you are exhausted, and even though you are taking a night's rest, you know the following morning is not going to greet you kindly. So setting up for another night's rest?

LIAM: Yeah, I forgot, with my transmuter's stone, that would be a 16 for me. So I don't know if that helps me enough.

MATT: Ah, not quite.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: You missed it by one.

LIAM: This much.

MATT: Yep.

LIAM: (whooshing)

LAURA: Can we have really amazing bathtubs prepared? There's already there, is there?

LIAM: They're always there, piping hot.

MATT: "You wouldn't happen to have, like, a bunch of kitty masseuses that can do a number on these shoulders?"

LIAM: Every kitty here is a licensed masseuse. (laughter)

MATT: "You are my favorite weird wizard friend. Thank you." (laughter)

LIAM: We'll send one of the big fellows to your room.

MATT: "Please do!"

LIAM: Really stomp on your back.

MATT: "You got it. Up!"

ASHLEY: Kitty biscuits!

LAURA: Oh, that is going to feel so good.

TRAVIS: Big old kitty.

MATT: All righty. You all manage to find yourselves a night's rest, but when the morning comes you are sore, and you're exhausted, quite literally. Everyone takes two points of exhaustion.

LAURA: Two points?!

MATT: For the next day of the journey--

MARISHA: Everybody?

MATT: Except for Yasha, who takes just one.

MARISHA: Oh shit.

TRAVIS: Two points of exhaustion.

LAURA: Holy moly.

MATT: It was a heavy storm.

LIAM: And I absolutely did send a battle cat-sized spectral cat to Dagen's room that night.

MATT: And he is thankful. The next morning when you all wake up, he's like, "Ah, I mean, the rest of me's fucked, but these shoulders are golden."

MARISHA: What does two points do? Yeah, hang on. Let me see. Does it tell us on D&D Beyond?

MATT: Two points of exhaustion means your speed is halved.

TRAVIS: And disadvantage on ability check?

MATT: And disadvantage on ability checks, too. Yeah.

LAURA: Jeez louise.

MARISHA: Fuck. How much further do we have on our journey?

MATT: From this point, you have--

LAURA: I mean, to counteract.

MATT: Well, you would've had two more days, but now it'll be three because of that storm, unfortunately.

LAURA: We should've just fucking held still. We wouldn't have lost the--

TALIESIN: We would've lost the day.

MATT: I left the option, but.

LAURA: (sighs)

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: Hmm.

LIAM: I do create gigantic vats of steel cut oats and sliced banana and cinnamon and raisins and dates and apricots--

LAURA: Thank you.

LIAM: -- and also bacon and also waffles and also pancakes.

TRAVIS: Ah fuck, sounds so good.

MATT: That does sound really good. That's problematic. All right.

LAURA: That sounds so good!

MATT: That does sounds really good.

MARISHA: I got kind of lost in it for a second.

LIAM: Welcome to the International House of Cats. (laughter)

TRAVIS: With, like, six different kinds of syrup.

MARISHA: The IHAC? Wait.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: The IHOC. Yeah!

MATT: There you go.

LIAM: (hocks a hairball)

MATT: A delicious breakfast is had and it does help take the edge off a little bit, but as you all gather your supplies and your sacks and your bundled clothing, and the door opens once more to the cold, uninviting exterior, you all feel a shiver, and with that shiver, you feel every bruise and every sore muscle in your body just groan internally as one by one you follow Dagen's lead outside into the cold wilderness.

LIAM: That's why I put bourbon in the oatmeal.

MATT: (chuckles)

MARISHA: Sucks!

MATT: Dagen, you can see is now pulling out his heavy jug and taking swigs and he's like, "This-- My apologies, folks, this is-- that was a rough day. We're going to be a little behind schedule, but just keep an eye out."

LAURA: We could polymorph again. Get an extra--

LIAM: Just to make a decent amount of distance if not, and edge.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Maybe not a bird and maybe like a big elephant, wooly mammoth thing or something snowable?

LAURA: Well, if we fly at least, we get to not deal with the snow at all.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Which is a bonus.

LIAM: And--

MARISHA: Well, how's the weather? Flying against the storm?

TRAVIS: We have to roll for it, I think.

LAURA: Or would we--

MATT: We'd still roll to see how it happens for the day.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: But at least if you were to take flight form, you're still half speed in the creature's--

LIAM: Half of the creature's speed.

MATT: Creature's speed, yes. Although!

LAURA: Oh wait, we lose exhaustion.

MATT: No, it's an interesting point. Let me do a quick--

SAM: Oh boy.

MATT: A quick check.

LIAM: Oh man.

ASHLEY and LAURA: Ooh!

TRAVIS: This rule check brought to you by Hot Topic.

MATT: Doing a quick--

SAM: Hot Topic. This is a backpack hanger. (laughter)

ASHLEY: That'd be awesome if just in the mix that shirt was sold that you have on. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Just one of Marisha.

MARISHA: Yeah. (laughter)

MARISHA: Just a bunch of CR shirts, and then my old headshot.

SAM: Go to your local Hot Topic and request this shirt, please.

MATT: It might be a deeper glance-- I would say, for the time that you are polymorphed, I would say you would not have the points of exhaustion during the polymorph, but they return when you're done.

MARISHA: Where did you find that photo?

MATT: That's an interesting point.

TALIESIN: Don't ask that right now.

LIAM: Oh no.

MATT: Oh, he finds them all.

MARISHA: It feels like some website that I definitely need to delete. If you found it.

LIAM: Could be a traitor inside the house. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Somewhere there's a Geocities account.

ASHLEY: Omar! (laughter)

MATT: Little floof chaps. Fuck him.

SAM: He pulled out a USB stick in his fur.

MATT: Yep. It'll fit there in the back, too. There's there's some deep chaps.

LAURA: Do we roll to see what the weather is--

MARISHA: It will fit.

LAURA: -- before we polymorph?

MATT: Well, we polymorph and then we roll to see what the weather is.

LAURA: Oh jeez!

LIAM: Let's do it. I like it.

LAURA: All right.

SAM: It's going to be great.

LAURA: I'm going to do the same.

TRAVIS: It's Veth, right?

SAM: Yep.

MATT: But if you can do this, this day and tomorrow you will bring it back to just two days of travel--

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: -- as opposed to three, so.

TRAVIS: You got it.

SAM: Don't fuck me, Gil. Nine.

MATT: A nine.

SAM: Like the Mighty Nein.

MATT: Hmm.

SAM: That bodes well.

MATT: All right. The weather is not as bad as it was the day before. It's still snowfall, but the winds are light and it doesn't impede your flight pattern.

LAURA: Good.

MATT: As the three giant eagles continue onward for that one hour, gaining some of the ground that was lost, you all find yourselves exhausted once more. (exhausted breathing) And trudging forward, carefully in the snow as Dagen leads you on. About halfway through the day, Dagen goes, "I-- wait." He puts his hand up. He doesn't say anything, he just catches himself and calls up whoever's closest to him and points ahead and you can see there's this soft, smooth blanket of fresh snow that covers some of these mild hills that you guys are currently heading towards. You could see a bunch of small shapes just barely poking through the top of the snow. Maybe a foot or so, about 100 or so feet off from you.

SAM: Snow bunnies?

TRAVIS: Shh.

SAM: Oh!

MATT: Starts looking, and if anybody else wants to-- two of you can make a perception check, if you'd like.

LAURA: Guidance.

TALIESIN: 29.

SAM: Oof!

TALIESIN: Where's that roll been?

MATT: Fair enough. Glancing and leaning forward, thankfully because the weather is not very bad, and because the white snow itself gives you a pretty decent bounce, for what sunlight is making its way in this region. You can see the tops of heads, or creatures unmoving.

TALIESIN: We're being watched. At least, what three? Four?

MATT: With that perception check, you would notice it would be seven.

LAURA: Whoa!

TALIESIN: Seven. Seven, seven heads of something.

LAURA: How big are the heads?

TALIESIN: I mean.

LAURA: (whispering) How big are the heads?

TALIESIN: That big. We might be fine? (laughter)

MATT: It's hard to tell truly at this distance. Especially since most of their body is currently kind of-- Well, some of it seems to be shoulders up, somewhat exposed.

TALIESIN: Humanoid?

MATT: They look humanoid, but they're also white in color as well. The coloration. So you can see them, but you can't make out much detail cause they're blending in with the scenery.

MARISHA: Are there more yeti?

TALIESIN: I mean, I don't know. I can't-- that's far.

LIAM: I lean closer to Jester and say: Look, you can actually crush them from here.

LAURA and LIAM: (pinching sounds)

LAURA: Oh! We've taken care of them. No problem.

MATT: Dagen comes in, he goes, "Can also pinch them."

LAURA: (laughs)

MATT: "If that doesn't work, there's nobody even home." (laughter)

SAM: Wow, that's a lot of bourbon in the pancakes. (laughter)

MATT: "Oh, the bourbon just got me started. I keep my own stash. Don't worry."

ASHLEY: (slurred) That oatmeal was delicious. (laughter)

MATT: "Certainly hope I can track."

LIAM: And breakfast.

MATT: Dagen leans in, "So what's the plan from here? I hadn't seen something like this out here."

LAURA: Ever?

MATT: "Well, not in this particular, no. But normally, creatures, they, you know, they move, they stop. These are right still."

LAURA: Maybe they're dead?

MARISHA: All?

LAURA: Maybe they're all frozen?

MARISHA: Maybe they're statues.

SAM: If we were to continue on, Dagen, would our path take us right through there? Around?

MATT: "We can go around."

LAURA: I could try sending them a message? Maybe I can freak them out. Do you think they see us? I mean, they've got to see us. They're in the snow and we're on top of it.

TALIESIN: How far away are they?

MATT: About 100 feet from you.

TALIESIN: 100 feet? Hmm.

LIAM: I could make an illusion. Give them something to chew on. See what that causes.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Do that.

LIAM: Yeah?

TRAVIS: See if they chase.

LIAM: Okay. I will pull out the bit of fleece that I use, and I will create two wolves like the ones we saw in the mountains in the midst of them.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Running about.

MATT: (poofing) You see two wolves now circling and stalking in that center space. The entities that caught your eye as you and Dagen, the rest of the group leans in don't react. Don't move. Just still.

LAURA: ♪ I wonder if they're dead. ♪

TALIESIN: I think they're probably dead.

SAM: I don't think they're dead. They're just waiting. Waiting for us to get closer, and then pounce!

TRAVIS: Strange that they wouldn't take a shot at that, though.

SAM: Blast us with their eye beams!

MARISHA: Can Frumpkin go over?

LIAM: He could. But first I cause the wolves to go to two of their heads and lift their legs and illusory pee on them.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: See if that elicits any response.

MATT: One of the wolves comes over and sniffs, lifts the leg and urinates on one of the heads. No reaction.

LIAM: (poof) They're gone.

LAURA: And we saw no movement at all when all of that--

MATT: None.

TRAVIS: Let's go!

LIAM: Okay.

LAURA: I think it's safe.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Let's--

LIAM: Hold on, hold on, it's just another two minutes. Best boy, go over there. Check those heads out, please.

MATT: (cat noises)

LIAM: I slap a hand on Beauregard's shoulder.

MATT: Okay. You follow over and as Frumpkin approaches, you can see there are different heights because there are different humanoid creatures of different lineages. Arranged in a circle. Seven of them. Mostly submerged in the snow. You can see there'd be one that is almost halfling size that is pretty much entirely beneath the snow. But there is a faint bit of it that is melted around it. In fact, the snow around these figures seems to be gently melted to the point where it's not really touching the bodies. They're like there's a separate cylinder of empty space around them that prevents the snow. Like they have their own heat source. But they appear the be human. But they also are made of stone.

LIAM: Are they--

MATT: Solid sculptures.

LIAM: -- simple sculptures? Or intricate? Finely detailed?

MATT: They're fairly intricate. and they are all sitting, and they are all arranged in a circle with their arms out towards the ones immediately to the right and left, all facing inward, in a seven-part circle.

MARISHA: What's on the-- can we see what they're facing? On the inside?

MATT: From what we can tell, it's just the snow.

LIAM: But there's snow in the middle of them, or there is nothing in the middle? All melted out between them?

MATT: Directly around each one, like a cylinder within a half a foot of where the statue bodies are the snow is melted. But then they're in a much larger circle arranged and in the middle of them, it's just all the snow that's been piled up like everything else around them.

LIAM: Okay, so looking through Frumpkin's eyes as he goes up and down this mound between all of them, and peeks in. Does this look like some sort of-- Do they look like actual statues? Or do they look like someone-- more like they have been frozen themselves? Does this look like some sort of a ritual that they were in the midst of?

MATT: Make a perception check.

LAURA: Come on, Frumpkin!

LIAM: Oh, the cat! Goddamn it. No. Let's say a nine.

MATT: Okay. It's hard to tell. Both the blinding light, bouncing from all the nearby snow, and the fact that so much of them are submerged, it's hard to make out the details. You'll probably have to get a closer look personally.

SAM: I think we have to roll everything at disadvantage, too.

LAURA: Oh, because we're--

MATT: Yes, you do.

LIAM: Oh, so let's see if it's even lower. It's not. That was the worst.

MARISHA: Shit.

TRAVIS: We've got to check this out.

LAURA: I know, but--

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: I mean, we can try-- If they're petrified, maybe unpetrifying one of them, see what happens.

SAM: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

LAURA: Find out what's going on.

TALIESIN: I don't know if I'm up to a fight. I don't know about the rest of you, but we're definitely feeling creaky.

TRAVIS: Yeah, but we should check out the area, right?

LAURA: What if they're really, really, old people? What if they're from the ancient times?

MARISHA: That would be awesome. Let's check it out.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Let's go.

LIAM: That's what's here. The ancient times. I throw up Detect Magic on the walk over.

TRAVIS: Yeah and within 60 feet I'll do Divine Sense, as well.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Should one or two of us just hang back. Maybe someone, like one of you two, in case we get 30 feet away and we all turn to stone or something?

TALIESIN: I'm going to keep my distance.

LIAM: Like 105 feet, perhaps?

TALIESIN: I'm going to keep 30 feet behind everybody else, at least, until it's--

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: Definitely some distance from this thing until--

MATT: All right. Said you're casting Detect Magic?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: All right. Sorry, my app crashed here.

LAURA: You should hang back, too, Nott, so you can Mage Hand people out.

TALIESIN: Yeah, that's a good idea.

SAM: If you guys weigh five pounds, I've got you. (laughter)

LAURA: Oh, never mind.

SAM: But no, I'll hang back a little. Long range action.

MATT: Okay. Dagen, of course, looks over at the rest, "If you know what you're doing, I'll just stay a little behind as well."

TRAVIS: Yeah, sure.

MATT: And he goes and keeps a little bit of a safe distance from the rest of you in the front line. But as you approach, Caleb, and cast Detect Magic, you get a-- a fairly decent magical aura from each of these. And the essence is divination-based.

LIAM: Uniform for all of them?

MATT: For all of them, yes.

LAURA: What does divination mean?

LIAM: Sensing, learning the truth.

LAURA: Oh, that makes sense.

LIAM: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Anything for Divine Sense for when we're in 60 feet? Celestial, fiend, or undead?

MATT: Mm-mm.

MARISHA: So wait, you're getting a divination sense from them? Can I get closer and see if I can see tool marks? Like these have been carved? Or--

LIAM: We'd have to get right on them because they're encased in snow.

LAURA: Oh! I have an idea. This is stupid.

MARISHA: Or, like, they're been frozen.

SAM: What is your stupid idea?

LAURA: Well, what if we took rope and we tied one of them up and that way, you know, if I did try to unpetrify them, then at least they'll be tied up.

LIAM: That's not a stupid idea at all--

LAURA: Right away.

LIAM: -- if that's what we want to attempt?

MARISHA: Well, let's see if they're even petrified.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. So you continue to approach.

MARISHA: I'll start sneaking up--

TALIESIN: Petrified means that we don't--

MARISHA: -- and see what happens. Like each step, I'm kind of--

LAURA: I have that. I have a lot of--

MARISHA: Checking for traps, I guess? For lack of a better term.

LIAM: I'm going to awkwardly tail you. I'm going to sty close behind you.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Okay. So carefully, you all line up a bit behind Beauregard as you carefully approach. The closest one to you appears to be orc in appearance. You can see the head on top is smooth with longer hair in the back. Close to a skullet, if you will, textured down to the shoulders, and you can see from the part of the torso that's exposed above the snow line, robes that are drifting off the shoulders. You see the arms extended outward, palms up. And then the ones off to the right and left, you can see their arms extended palms down. Then the next one over, palms up. So they're almost like--

MARISHA: Alternating?

MATT: Alternating as they go.

SAM: They we're playing that game.

LAURA: Oh yeah, yeah!

MARISHA: Yeah! Divination magic!

SAM: Does that game have a name?

TRAVIS: Slaps.

LIAM: Slapsies.

SAM: Slapsies?

LAURA: But there's one that's like a circle.

ASHLEY: ♪ Down by the banks of the-- ♪

SAM: Is there a circle order?

TRAVIS: Okay, back to the D&D campaign. (laughter)

MATT: Necessary lore.

TRAVIS: Uh-huh.

MARISHA: So, alternating palms up, palms down.

TALIESIN: I'm keeping a very close eye on this, by the way. This is-- and including around us, too, to see if this is a trap.

TRAVIS: First was an orc, and then to either side do we see what race they are?

MATT: You see--

MARISHA: You mentioned halfling?

MATT: There's a human. There's an elf. There's a halfling. There's a gnome.

LIAM: I could try to clear the space out. Amongst them, too.

MARISHA: What was the last one you said?

MATT: Goliath. They're all of different races. They're all dressed similarly.

MARISHA: And you said there's seven of them?

MATT: Seven of them, yes.

MARISHA: Six, what was the last one?

MATT: The last one would've been dwarf.

MATT: So all different races.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: And how wide is the circle from one side to the other?

MATT: Each of these statues roughly from where the hand ends is about three feet 'til the next one. So it's a fairly wide circle.

LIAM: And then from two statues facing each other, what's the distance roughly between the two sides?

MATT: Let me just do some quick math in my head here.

LIAM: Guesstimate, guesstimate.

MATT: Right, no. So it'd be, like, 15 or so feet.

LIAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: Keep a bit of distance, Jester--

MARISHA: In the center?

LIAM: Yeah. We want to clear it out.

MARISHA: That's that's pretty big.

LAURA: I think, maybe, should we not step in the circle? We shouldn't step in the middle of them.

LIAM: Can't even see what's in there.

TALIESIN: I feel like that's good advice in general.

LAURA: Ooh! I wonder if we can melt the snow in the middle and see if we can see something.

LIAM: That's what I'm saying, yeah. And take the snow out of the center.

LAURA: Oh! I know. Cause I was totally paying attention to what you were doing.

MARISHA: While he does that, I'll get a closer look at the statues and see if they're carved or something else happened.

MATT: Okay, so you begin to, from a distance--

LIAM: Well, I am going to do something a little hot, so I will-- do you want to take a look at that first?

MARISHA: Sure.

LIAM: Or do you want me to clear them out first?

MARISHA: Let me take a look first.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Roll an investigation check for me with disadvantage.

MARISHA: With disadvantage. That's what I thought. Okay. That is still a 22.

MATT: Damn. Looking very closely at the details. They are detailed, but some of the edges, the lips, elements of them are still a bit rough. Which, with your experience both researching and actually witnessing creatures that had been petrified, leads you to believe that these were actually crafted.

LAURA: Oh wow.

MARISHA: Carved and crafted.

MATT: Mm-hmm. Though--

LIAM: They're Michelangelos.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Though it's hard to tell how long ago, how recent.

MARISHA: Okay.

LAURA: Wow.

MARISHA: So they're sculpted, and the fact that it's seven different races feels like some sort of unity... circle? Something like that.

LIAM: Could be.

ASHLEY: Do any of them look at all familiar?

MATT: To you? No. Most of their faces are fairly blank. Just the eyes are open. And they're looking right across. Their expression is neutral. And they're just arms out facing forward. Like some sort of odd courtyard decor.

MARISHA: See what's in the center.

LIAM: Back up everybody, just 20 or 30 feet, please. And I will take a little bit of phosphorus and--

LAURA: I'm going to back up more than 20 feet.

LIAM: --push my hand through and then curve it and make a small, tight ring of walled fire in the center.

MATT: Okay. (flames whooshing) This column of fire bursts out from the center of this statue circle. You watch as Dagen goes, "Oh shit!" And wheels back a bit, protecting his face, like, "That-- that was-- Sure, yeah, go for it, I guess. Um." Within moments, the snow in the vicinity and even beyond the circle begins to just melt and turn to water and steam from the center. You can see there's a column of steam that rises up from the initial arrival of this burning wall of fire. Within a very short period of time, you've cleared the region of snow. You can see now the ground below. Which, it's been a while since you've seen a larger patch of just visible turf. There is thick, muddy dirt that has become dry and cracked towards the center where all the moisture has burned away. You can see long decayed elements of gray grass and-- If you want to roll a nature check for me, Caduceus.

SAM: There's markings on the grass! "50-yard line"? What does that mean?

TALIESIN: That's a-- that's-- that's a one.

MATT: That's a one.

TALIESIN: Not a natural one, but.

MATT: You have no idea what this grass is. You have no idea if it's alive or dead, but it's curious.

TALIESIN: My nature is a negative one anyway. I know how it works. I don't know what it is.

MATT: I was just curious.

LIAM: I start looking about for sigils.

MATT: What you do notice: in the center of the circle, there is a circular platform, about half a foot high. That has simple, circular markings around it. It looks like interesting designs that represent the seven points of each of these statues all meeting in the center.

LAURA: What do you think it means, Caleb? Do you think if you stand in the middle of it you'll learn everything there is to know about the world?

LIAM: Oh, one could hope. I should give it a try. I should jump right on top of it. I can-- is there any kind of-- divination. And I can't tell from years of study what its purpose is because it's too old?

MATT: Roll a history check for me.

MARISHA: Can I aid him?

MATT: With disadvantage.

MARISHA: Can I aid him?

MATT: Sure. Just a straight roll.

LIAM: Straight roll.

MATT: Although this history--

MARISHA: I'm good at histories.

MATT: I know. I'd say it'd be separate rolls as opposed to aiding, because this is more of both of your individual knowledge.

MARISHA: Okay, I'll do a separate roll.

MATT: So disadvantage for each of you.

LIAM: Drat.

LAURA: It was good the first time.

LIAM: It was fucking great.

MARISHA: Oh! I tried, I'm sorry.

LIAM: 16. Instead of a 28.

MARISHA: Uh, 27.

TRAVIS: Ooh!

TALIESIN: Hey!

MATT: With disadvantage?

MARISHA: I rolled two 13s and my history is a 14.

TRAVIS: Oh!

MATT: That's pretty good.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: But not enough.

MARISHA: What?!

LIAM: Whoa!

TRAVIS: Yeah, it's one of those.

MARISHA: Fuck!

TRAVIS: You roll natural 20 and have a plus 10. Or whatever.

MATT: Yeah, this was a DC 30.

MARISHA: Oh!

TRAVIS: Oh!

MATT: You have no idea what this is.

TALIESIN: It's got a teleporter vibe.

MATT: All you know is it has some essence, like, strong essence of divination from these statues. That's all you know.

LIAM: Yeah, probably not teleporting.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm. Because they were trying to glean something.

TRAVIS: Well, even though they're alternating, at some point, one of these is going to meet. Right? Because there's an odd number.

MATT: You do notice, on one of the edges, there is one person whose one hand is face up and one hand is face down. That completes the link.

TRAVIS: Got it.

LAURA: Maybe we should all stand behind them and do the same motion.

LIAM: Sure, why not?

TRAVIS: Well, why was the snow around them? The snow wasn't pressing against them. Right?

LAURA: Yeah, they're warm statues. If we stand near the statue, does it feel warm?

MATT: Immediate vicinity? No.

MARISHA: If you touch it?

LAURA: (gasps) You're going to touch one?

TRAVIS: Do it.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: You touch the statue?

MARISHA: I touch one of the statues.

MATT: Okay. You reach out, and as your fingers touch the exterior of the stone statue that's closet to you.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: At first, you sense it does have a strange warmth to it.

MARISHA: Yeah. Warm. A little tingly.

MATT: And then, nothing.

LAURA: (sighs)

TALIESIN: I knew it.

TRAVIS: Let's just fucking do it.

LAURA: You fucker.

MARISHA: Just like a--

LAURA: I think we should do the thing.

TRAVIS: It does have a strange warmth to it, though?

MATT: A strange warmth to it, yeah.

TALIESIN: Oh.

MARISHA: Oh.

TALIESIN: Such an ulcer is happening.

MARISHA: Let's do it, let's do it!

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!

MARISHA: Let's all stand.

TRAVIS: That really feels like, you know--

MARISHA: There's seven of us!

TRAVIS: -- the college kids that stumble upon the cult circle and, like, summoned Cthulhu. Okay.

MARISHA: Just read this passage!

TALIESIN: I just really wish we weren't so tired.

TRAVIS: Can we just do a 360 scan to see if anybody's watching and they're like, "Oh my god, these fucking idiots are really going to do it!"

MATT: Yeah. Dagen. Who is currently going, "Y'all have fun. I'm just going to back the fuck out of this for a while."

LAURA: Get ready to save us, Dagen, in case we die.

MATT: "Sure, totally," and he pulls out some beef jerky and is like, "Keep going."

TRAVIS: Yeah, we actually need Caduceus for this.

SAM: Wait, are we all going in?

TRAVIS: We're doing this?

LAURA: We're going to stand behind the statues and do the same motion.

ASHLEY: We're going to do the--

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah!

TALIESIN: Terrible idea.

LAURA: So we should find some, like, closest to our, like, that look like us and go for it.

MARISHA: Yeah, I'll behind the human.

TALIESIN: None of these look like me.

SAM: Doing the same thing, but behind the statues.

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: So we'll be reaching slightly further.

LIAM: I'll do whichever one is doing the splits.

TALIESIN: You'll end up in half, so that--

TRAVIS: I'll take the orc.

LAURA: I'll take-- is there a tiefling? I'll do the tiefling.

MATT: Sure.

TALIESIN: I'll take whatever's left over.

MATT: I do not believe there's a tiefling in this.

LAURA: What the fuck is this shit? Why isn't there a tiefling?

TRAVIS: Take the elf.

SAM: You can do the gnome or something.

LAURA: I'm not an elf! What?

SAM: Do the gnome.

LAURA: Okay, I'll do the gnome.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: I'll take the elf, then.

ASHLEY: I'll do the goliath.

SAM: I'll do the halfling.

MATT: All righty. Okay. You all arrange yourselves behind the statues, matching the hand movements, as you all take the corresponding poses around these-- (giggling)

LAURA: Wait, we got to figure out. I got to get it right!

SAM: Taliesin's wrong!

LAURA: Taliesin-- no!

MARISHA: So like this.

LAURA: Okay, wait.

MARISHA: Okay, okay, okay.

SAM: No wait! No, no, now, we're-- Something's wrong other there.

ASHLEY: What's amazing about this is no one can see what we're doing.

LIAM: All our hands are off!

SAM: Do it closer to our body! Closer to your body!

TRAVIS: Wait, who's the intersection? Oh, you are.

LAURA: It's easier like this.

TRAVIS: You got to flip, you got to flip!

MARISHA: I got to be the splitsies.

LIAM: Why?

TRAVIS: No, she's the split.

LIAM: Why you got to be the split?

TRAVIS: You got to flip.

LIAM: I already called dibs on splitsies.

LAURA: You got to have two flips!

TRAVIS: Taliesin, you got to go up.

TALIESIN: I got to go.

SAM: If there's two, then there shouldn't be any flips. It should just be all--

MATT: There are no flips, guys.

TRAVIS: Taliesin, you should be up.

LIAM: You described one with one hand up, one hand down.

SAM: He was wrong! There's no flips!

MATT: Because I was told it was wrong, and I was like, "Oh right, there would be." But no, there isn't.

LAURA: There's no flips!

LIAM: Ah, okay.

MARISHA: There's no flips?

MATT: I didn't think there would be, but then I thought-- I thought you guys said that it wouldn't mix.

LIAM: Matt, why is your world invisible?

TRAVIS: Well, yeah, there's seven, so, like.

LIAM: You can't see it!

TRAVIS: At some point, there are two people with the same.

LAURA: We'll do it, we'll showcase.

MATT: No! With seven it should be complete. You make me second guess myself. You did it with the fucking archipelago in campaign one. And you did it again with this time.

SAM: Okay.

LIAM: Here we go. (laughter)

LAURA: God, we're so dumb. (laughter)

LIAM: It's been a long day. Long week. Long month, long year.

TRAVIS: Am I crazy? Seven.

LAURA: You-- I mean, you saw it!

SAM: Yeah, do it again, everyone.

LAURA: You do it! Do it! And we'll see.

MARISHA: So wait, I'm going to do like this--

LAURA: You start!

MARISHA: I'll go up.

MATT: I was like, "Seven, that'll complete the circle."

LAURA: Okay, then Yasha.

MATT: Then you make me second guess myself.

LIAM: Well, if weren't all going to die before, we are now.

MARISHA: Okay, do it. Do it, Liam!

LIAM: Wait, you guys are doing the same thing!

LAURA: Oh!

LIAM: They're matching!

LAURA: Oh, right! So there is a flippy.

TRAVIS: There is a flippy.

SAM: No, no, no. Liam--

TRAVIS: You need even numbers to be a circuit, and odd is going to need a--

LAURA: Okay, so-- oh.

ASHLEY: Okay, let's start! Liam. (laughter)

LAURA: You can be the flippy!

ASHLEY: You called flippy first.

MARISHA: Okay, we'll go from there.

LIAM: Base it off the person next to you.

MARISHA: Okay!

LAURA: Oh hey, we did it!

TRAVIS: We got a flippy.

MATT: Where did you guys fuck up? And I'm sorry I fucked up, too, on that one. But then I corrected it, but then you made me-- never mind! That was--

TALIESIN: I know where we fucked up.

MATT: How?

TRAVIS: Even numbers are a circuit, odd numbers, there needs to be a circuit--

MATT: Right!

TRAVIS: Or a breaker.

MATT: Don't-- that--

TRAVIS: Basic engineering, Matt. Come on.

TRAVIS: I just drew it.

MATT: Don't yell at me! You're the guys who fucked it up the first time you did the circle, and made me second guess myself.

TALIESIN: I love that it's been, like, five minutes of us trying to just match the statues.

LIAM: I know there are people at NASA who watch this show, but they're going to stop now. (laughter)

MATT: God fucking damn it. All right.

LAURA: And everyone will forget, just keep going. (laughter)

MATT: This-- this, guys.

MARISHA: We did it.

MATT: Well done. (laughter)

LAURA: This is what we were supposed to do, right?

MATT: As you all stand there, and match then hand motions of each of these statues, you look at each other, and in a moment of quiet, you hear-- (clapping) "Y'all did it! You look great!" (laughter)

LAURA: All right, all right.

ASHLEY: I really thought that was going to do something.

LAURA: I did, too!

TALIESIN: I didn't.

MARISHA: I mean.

SAM: Did anyone stand in the middle?

TRAVIS: Nope.

LAURA: No, I'm scared to!

SAM: We should do that.

ASHLEY: Okay, I'll go stand in the middle. (exclamations)

TRAVIS: Do it! Do it!

MARISHA: Do it! Do it! Do it!

ASHLEY: No! Look at his face!

MATT: What?! (laughter)

TRAVIS: "Look at his face!"

SAM: Do it!

ASHLEY: All right, I'll go stand in the middle.

TRAVIS: Boulder, Parchment, Shears. First loses goes.

MATT: All right.

LIAM: Wait, just one last thing, quickie!

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LIAM: I cast Identify on one statue.

LAURA: Oh, that's smart. That's good, yeah, yeah.

ASHLEY: I think that's a better idea than just jumping right into the middle.

MATT: Okay. You cast Identify on it. It gives you a strong divination response, but there's something oddly esoteric and undefinable, beyond the simple magic of an Identify spell.

LIAM: And does it feel older than Halas' halls?

SAM: Holes?

MATT: It feels old.

LIAM: His holes.

MATT: It certainly feels old. It's old magic.

TRAVIS: It would really suck if this was, like, sealing something away.

MARISHA: Uh-huh.

LIAM: It's not, though.

MARISHA: It's divination, so it's got to be seeing.

ASHLEY: Is there anything between-- between--

LIAM: I roll Frumpkin into the circle.

LAURA: Oh, come on! We were Boulder, Parchment, Shears-ing!

SAM: Is it a three-way Boulder, Parchment?

LIAM: I already did it.

ASHLEY: We're doing Boulder, Parchment, Shears?

MATT: Frumpkin stands in the middle.

LIAM: Yeah?

TRAVIS: Cool.

MATT: Nothing.

TRAVIS: Who are the three?

LAURA: It was me, and Yasha, and Beau.

ASHLEY: Okay, ready? Boulder, parchment, shears.

MARISHA: Fuck, we did it again! (laughter)

TRAVIS: That's hard to do.

MARISHA: God damn!

TRAVIS: Go again.

MARISHA: All right, okay, okay, okay.

ASHLEY: Boulder, parchment, shears.

LAURA: Oh, I win!

MARISHA: You win?

LAURA: Wait, does that mean I lose?

SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay.

ASHLEY: That means you go in the circle.

TALIESIN: Quick Resistance popped on you.

LAURA: Thanks, bud!

TALIESIN: That's all I got.

LIAM: Oh boy.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: I'll trepidatiously walk towards the center, and stand up on the pillar. Thingy.

LIAM: Caleb's holding 17 components and is like-- (laughter)

TALIESIN: You know--

MATT: So you stand up onto the platform.

TALIESIN: And a Death Ward.

LAURA: Okay, good.

MATT: You look about, and for a moment, you're like, nothing's working. And then you look at the statue ahead of you, and you feel like it's looking at you. And you look at the other one immediate left to it, and you feel like they're all looking at you. And language doesn't enter you mind, but thoughts, voices mingling, (whispered voices) and the sense of what it seems to reach out to you is, "Do you give to receive?"

SAM: Ooh.

MATT: "Ask, and we take."

LAURA: (gasps)

LIAM: "Ask and we take"?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: (exhales) Do I feel like I can step off of the circle?

SAM: (whispers) That was a question!

MATT: Right now, you cannot move.

MARISHA: Oh shit.

MATT: You are locked into the attention of whatever this is. And they are waiting.

LAURA: Oh shit, I need to think of a question.

ASHLEY: (whispering) "Ask and we take"?

MARISHA: "We take--"

LAURA: Oh no, I can't ask anybody for help right now, can I?

LIAM: None of us heard any of that, right?

MATT: No, you just watched Jester step in the middle there.

LAURA: Oh no.

TALIESIN: Oh boy.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: (whispered voices)

LAURA: What... what are the Tomb Takers trying to bring back?

MATT: All their eyes begin to glow--

MARISHA: (gasps)

MATT: --and suddenly imagery fills your mind. Familiar imagery of a living city. Flexing and shifting. You see this odd architecture, both ancient, but beautiful and alien in ways you've never really seen, except for glimpses of the first excavation you saw. You see imagery of this massive, flexing, in some ways still in stone, in some ways flesh and breathing, city-ship entity, gliding through the astral expanse. And you sense the Tomb Takers trudging through the snow, satchels half-full with necessary gathered components. And the devious intent leading them. (quick whooshing) Your vision comes back to you, and just as you gather your thoughts, all of a sudden-- (sucking inhale) You feel something being pulled from you, some odd cold takes grasp inside the center of you chest, in your soul, in your spirit and you fall to your knees and starting coughing uncontrollably.

LAURA: (coughs)

MATT: Then you stand up, and a little winded, but-- but you're okay.

TRAVIS: We run to Jester.

MARISHA: Jess? Yeah, I rush over.

SAM: What happened? What happened?

MARISHA: I grab her.

TRAVIS: You okay?

LIAM: What happened? What happened in there?

LAURA: They're bringing, the Tomb Takers, they're bringing back the city. The bad city.

TRAVIS: How did-- how do you know that?

LAURA: I don't know, the statues told me.

SAM: They just told you that? How do they know?

LAURA: I don't know, they said give something, and-- and they'll give me something in return.

ASHLEY: What did you give?

LAURA: I don't know!

TALIESIN: Have the statues changed?

MATT: No.

MARISHA: How are you feeling?

LIAM: Yeah, you all right?

LAURA: How do I feel?

SAM: Do magic or something. Do a cantrip.

LAURA: Well, I want to get away from this circle first, okay?

MARISHA: Yeah, let's--

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

LIAM: We walk a ways away. Come over here.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to try and do spell or something.

LIAM: Start simple.

TRAVIS: Did we see the eyes glow?

MATT: Mm-mm.

LAURA: I'm going to try to just, um, do a-a-a Sacred Flame.

MATT: Okay. (flame whooshing)

SAM: Okay, okay, okay.

MATT: It happens.

LAURA: That's good.

ASHLEY: How do you feel? Do you feel okay?

LAURA: Yeah, it felt like something cold left me. But I don't know what it was.

MATT: Caduceus.

TALIESIN: Yeah?

MATT: Beauregard.

MARISHA: Yeah?

MATT: Pretty decent passive perception. I mean, you all look tired. You're all exhausted. This journey's been tough physically. There's something about Jester that just looks a little more, I don't know, mature.

LAURA: (sadly) Oh!

TALIESIN: Huh.

MARISHA: Like--

LIAM: She looks older?

TALIESIN: I'm going to--

MARISHA: Older? Or just like she's seen some shit?

MATT: A little older.

TALIESIN: I think they-- I'm just going to get right up.

SAM: You smell a little.

LAURA: Fuck you!

SAM: Well, just, like, a little--

MARISHA: Yeah, like Noxzema. (laughter)

SAM: Like moth balls.

TALIESIN: Have her horns changed at all? Have her horns changed at all?

MATT: They've grown a little bit longer, yeah.

LAURA: What is it?

TALIESIN: I think they took some of your life away.

MARISHA: They took time.

LAURA: How much? How much time?

MARISHA: Not a lot.

TALIESIN: I mean, enough that I can see it.

MARISHA: Like when you see an old friend a few years later. And it's been a bit.

SAM: "It's me, Tony!" (laughter)

LAURA: How's my face look? Are my cheekbones more pronounced? My mama always said as I got older I would have more pronounced cheekbones.

LIAM: You look excellent.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: And yeah, I mean--

TALIESIN: About a year or two, is that what it looks like?

MATT: A little more than that. You'd say, estimate, between four or five years.

LAURA: (gasps)

TRAVIS: Ooh!

MARISHA: Wow.

LAURA: Holy shit.

MARISHA: You're, like, a tiefling, and they've got a little extra time, right?

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: I don't know.

LAURA: Yeah, it's fine.

MARISHA: Okay.

LAURA: It's no big deal. Wow.

MARISHA: Well, we have some confirmations.

LAURA: That was worth it. That knowledge was worth it, right? Now we know beyond all certainty that we need to stop the Tomb Takers. I mean, I know we knew it, we knew we needed to, but now we know we needed to.

LIAM: Is there anything worth--

ASHLEY: Knowing?

LIAM: -- asking still?

SAM: We could ask what's at A2?

TRAVIS: How do we stop Molly?

LAURA: You guys are-- worth losing five years of your life?

MATT: "Uh, um, what all'd you do?"

SAM: Oh! Yeah, Dagen! Dagen could go! (laughter)

MATT: "No, I mean, what all you'd do?" And he points. He points back in the opening. And they're gone. (gasping) In the conversation you guys were having about this, the moment you all took your eyes off of it, the circle has vanished.

MARISHA: (gasps) Whoa!

LAURA: I'm sorry, I hope my question was good enough.

LIAM: No, that is an excellent question.

TRAVIS: You did great.

LIAM: I mean, you were winging it.

TRAVIS: Did it hurt?

LAURA: I mean, it, eh-- it made me cough. It felt, like, empty for a second. But I feel kind of normal now.

TRAVIS: That was a hell of a question, with--

TALIESIN: It felt, it felt,--

TRAVIS: -- with no warning.

LAURA: (sighs) Wow.

TALIESIN: How did it feel?

LAURA: You know, like, like cold. You know that moment in The Little Mermaid when Ariel's singing and she loses-- it's like that.

SAM: We all know it well.

TALIESIN: I don't know that at all. I thought you said you--

TRAVIS: Ursula's a bitch.

TALIESIN: -- felt empty for a moment.

LAURA: I did.

TALIESIN: Huh.

LAURA: For a second.

TALIESIN: Huh, okay.

ASHLEY: Is that something that can be reversed?

TRAVIS: Now I've got her voice!

LAURA: I don't--

TALIESIN: I think when you... when you buy something, you pay for it.

LIAM: Also, she looks fine. We've all seen her mother, I mean.

TALIESIN: You actually-- you look pretty good.

LIAM: She is stunn-- your mother is a beautiful woman. You're a beautiful woman, she's...

TALIESIN: Sharpen that a little bit, it's nice.

MATT: Caleb, you would know in your studies that there are ways to reverse such powerful ancient magical aging to that degree. But that magic is extremely powerful and extremely rare.

LAURA: It was worth it.

MARISHA: Okay. And the Tomb Takers are halfway.

TALIESIN: Better move.

MATT: It's interesting. As you play over the vision in the head of-- Beyond just-- Beyond just them traveling, the visions of them carrying many things, not specifically, but you saw them gather one threshold crest from where you encountered them, but from what you were shown, you sense that they were bearing numerous things amongst them.

SAM: Bearing, not burying.

MATT: Bearing.

LAURA: Did it seem like when I saw it, that was the future or that was what was happening now?

MATT: Seemed current.

LAURA: Current. Wow. How'd they get so much stuff so quickly?

MARISHA: Maybe, well, I mean, we saw a vision of Molly when we were still outside of Zadash.

SAM: But also what did you ask? You asked what do they want, right?

LAURA: I said, "What are they trying to bring back?"

SAM: So that it showed you what they are trying to do. So maybe they haven't succeeded.

LAURA: Yeah, I don't think they have. They're on their way there.

MARISHA: But this does answer the question that they're not just looking for threshold crests. They're looking for--

TALIESIN: Lots of things.

MARISHA: Lots of things. Probably anything holding some of this ancient, archaic energy.

TALIESIN: Whatever's holding the city back.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: I don't even necessarily know if they know what they're calling. I didn't get the--

LIAM: Well, yes, as we discussed--

TALIESIN: -- feeling that they really thought about this.

LIAM: Are they pawns? Or are they more?

TALIESIN: And will they listen to reason?

MARISHA: They believe they're going home. You ever stood between anybody when they think, convinced, that they're going home, their real home?

TALIESIN: Yes.

MARISHA: It's not pretty.

TALIESIN: No. No, it's not.

LAURA: Are they spying on us right now, Fjord?

TRAVIS: I don't think I still have up-- I'll summon the sword and use See Invisibility.

MATT: Because it has been an additional day, yeah. Glancing about the moment, you don't see anything. Make a perception check.

LAURA: At disadvantage.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: Oh. (unhappy) Oh. (laughter) Eight.

MATT: Yeah. Don't see anything.

SAM: Maybe now you'll get, like, different targeted ads, like mortgage refinancing and, like, Peloton and stuff now, instead of--

LAURA: That's a good point. I was getting kind of bored with the old ones.

SAM: Yeah, of course.

ASHLEY: Yeah, you look beautiful. You don't look that much different to me. I just don't like you're losing time.

LAURA: It's okay.

TRAVIS: Just as long as that's all.

TALIESIN: This is good. This is helpful, I think.

ASHLEY: We should also talk to Vess.

TALIESIN: We are moving.

TRAVIS: We should get going.

MATT: (as Dagen) "All right, y'all find what you're looking for?"

TRAVIS: Sure.

MATT: "All right. I haven't met a group so eager to poke the badger before." Then he starts making his way on where the path you were taking.

TALIESIN: Some badgers need poking.

LAURA: ♪ Making its way on ♪ (laughter)

MATT: But beyond that, the rest of the day's journey is fairly uneventful. As you all prepare yourselves to bed down for the night, you have about two days-- a little under two days travel with one more flight. The following day. That'll take it to just about one, a little over one.

TALIESIN: We lose a point of exhaustion?

MATT: You do after a night's rest, yes.

LAURA: That's good.

MATT: So you lose a point of exhaustion. Yasha, you're good now.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LAURA: What is the one point of exhaustion do, as opposed to the--

MATT: That's disadvantage and ability checks. Two is speed halved.

LAURA: Oh, okay. Woof. Uh oh.

TRAVIS: Still doesn't look great.

MATT: Yeah, but you're you're making up the time with the flight, which is good.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: This is the night where we can talk to the head again.

LAURA: Oh yeah.

TALIESIN: I've got some questions, but I'm happy to game this out once it's time.

ASHLEY: Can we do this by the fire?

MARISHA: Yeah, let's figure it out while we walk and talk.

LAURA: We can do in the tower.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: End of day.

MARISHA: Walk and talk, walk and talk. We're walking and talking.

MATT: All right, you guys were walking and talking.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Dagen's far enough ahead that you probably want to wait until he's probably out of earshot.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah, that's right.

TRAVIS: Oh, right, he doesn't want to know.

MATT: Just throwing it out there again.

TRAVIS: A little scramble the brain again.

TALIESIN: A little more trauma.

TRAVIS: All right, so what would you ask?

TALIESIN: I want to know if they know they're bringing back the city. I want to know how she did-- how she emptied Lucien. How, and then that's-- I don't know.

MARISHA: The questions we asked her before was: What do the tattoos mean? What is the book? Something went wrong with Molly, what happened? What does "To alpha to alpha and homeward bound" mean? What does it mean to be a Nonagon?

LAURA: Did she actually answer any of those questions?

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: Obtusely.

MARISHA: Obtusely.

SAM: We want to know what's at A2.

TRAVIS: Right.

SAM: And what are these items that they're trying--

LAURA: Oh right. Maybe we should ask if we should bother with A2, or if we should go straight to Aeor proper.

MARISHA: Her answer to, "What does it mean to be a Nonagon?" was "Nonagon is a vessel, a key to Cognouza."

LAURA: Oh, right.

MARISHA: "The one to free the Somnovem."

SAM: Jesus.

TALIESIN: Somnovem is maybe the city?

LIAM: Yeah, yeah.

SAM: But if she knows that, then she'll know what they need to get the city back, at least.

MARISHA: She did answer to, "What does 'To alpha to alpha' mean 'and homeward bound,'" "I am uncertain. Many pieces lay strewn city to city."

SAM: Many pieces.

MARISHA: So that's where we got that "to alpha to alpha," were the city pieces, but...

TALIESIN: They're collecting the pieces of the puzzle. They don't actually know how to do what they're doing.

LIAM: Why don't we ask her what is needed to unlock the Somnovem?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: Ooh. That's good.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: We can also try. Well, we don't have any ivory, do we? Do you have any ivory, Caleb?

LIAM: Let me look through my-- I don't think so.

LAURA: Is there a rule about the components? Is it, like, if it has a worth of like gold pieces, then you can't use your focal point or something? Is that what the rule is?

MATT: If it has a gold piece value, that means you can use your focus, but you still have to have that component with you. The idea is your focus is used in place of other non-monetary valued components.

LAURA: Okay, that's what I thought.

TALIESIN: We can use residuum.

LAURA: Yes.

SAM: Didn't we use all that already?

LAURA: No, we have 200 gold worth of residuum left and there's always Legend Lore, which we could do and really ask the Wild Mother or the Traveler, like, what is known about--

MARISHA: That's kind of what I'm thinking. I think maybe-- well, between things like that and maybe a few message spells. Matt, do I know anything-- Like, is Cognouza in Somnovem, like an equivalent of our Latin root? Is it something that I would maybe know, like, the root wordage of?

MATT: Roll a history check.

TALIESIN: We can message the library.

MARISHA: The Cobalt Soul. I can message the library potentially.

MATT: Still with disadvantage because you still haven't--

MARISHA: But why?

LAURA: Because we're still exhausted.

MARISHA: You still have a point of exhaustion.

LAURA: (laughs)

MARISHA: No, though.

LAURA: But I love you.

MARISHA: But I love you. I love you. (fake crying) One of them was a natural 20, but instead I'm going to have to go with a dirty 20.

MATT: Okay. Unfortunately, you can't recall in your studies anything that you can attribute specifically to the verbage, the root words.

MARISHA: I can't even like... No. Okay. Okay, okay, okay.

ASHLEY: That's the city in the Somnovem-- to the free the Somnovem?

MARISHA: The one, to, yeah. "Nonagon is a vessel, the key to Cognouza, the one to free the Somnovem." Also, I was writing very quickly, so there might be some words missing.

TALIESIN: You would remember if there were words missing from what she's saying. I think, right?

TRAVIS: That's right, she got it.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: Is that more or less at any like key factors? Okay.

TALIESIN: I mean, you could ask your people.

LAURA: Yeah, we could send a message.

TALIESIN: You got people to read the books.

LAURA: You could write down exactly what you want me to say. So I don't fuck it up.

MARISHA: Okay, I guess we're while we're walking.

MATT: Sure.

MARISHA: Okay.

TRAVIS: Out of earshot of Dagen.

MARISHA: Out of here out of Dagen.

LAURA: But this is all-- we're not talking about Vess DeRogna right now.

TRAVIS: I don't think he wants to know any of it.

MARISHA: Talk about other stuff while I think about this.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: So what are you guys doing?

LAURA: Walking.

TALIESIN: Make our way while we're talking.

MARISHA: 25 words, right?

LAURA: Yes.

TRAVIS: How many questions do you get?

TALIESIN: Five, I think.

TRAVIS: Five total. And we have three now or four? We have a lot.

TALIESIN: I've got three-ish.

LAURA: Hey, are we going to ask questions of that poor sap that I chopped his head off?

SAM: Oh.

TALIESIN: Oh, I forgotten.

SAM: Wait, who was that?

LAURA: He was just a dude that was probably standing guard or something that died.

SAM: Yeah, we probably can ditch that head.

ASHLEY: About him.

LAURA: Fjord, do you want to dump that head out into the snow or we can keep it for the time being.

TRAVIS: Sure. It's just getting really interesting in the bag.

MATT: Okay, so. Have we rolled?

LAURA: For the day?

MATT: For the next day? Because you guys have...

SAM: My turn?

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Four.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: The weather is clear, and despite still chilly wind, passage is safe.

SAM: Great.

LAURA: All right. Yes! So we should do another flight. And really gain some time. It's just a matter of if we want to send this message before we fly or after we fly.

MARISHA: Okay, okay, okay, okay. Well-- Do they have a time limit on when they need to respond?

MATT: Pretty quickly.

MARISHA: Well, let's fly and I'll think about it while we fly.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: All right, so utilizing your same-- perfect-- your same arrangement, your trio of giant eagles lift up the rest of your troop and make your way onward in the direction that you continue to go. After the hour is done, you all come back down onto the frozen surface and continue on trekking. So during the rest of that journey, you begin to develop the question you want to ask.

MARISHA: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Uh-huh.

MATT: And you continue walking as it's developed.

TALIESIN: Walking in a circle now.

MATT: Yep. Just cut to one side. As the day draws colder and darker, you eventually prepare yourselves to bed down, what I assume, once again, is in the nein-sided tower?

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: So you gather your things and make your way to what is the final night to rest before reaching your destination the following day.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Now, as you were all preparing the night's rest, what are you doing?

TALIESIN: Let's talk to a head and send a message to some librarians.

SAM: You just excuse Dagen upstairs.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hey, Dagen.

MATT: "Yeah, what?"

SAM: Let's get you a nightcap. Jinx, Jellicle, Jangles, could you get Dagen here a sherry? An after dinner sherry. Have we had dinner? We've had dinner. Get you a sherry.

MATT: "I'll take it. Come on up."

LIAM: Tell Aesop to go up and walk on his back again, please.

MATT: "Yes, please," and he's like floating his way up to his chamber.

LAURA: Don't come down here; we're talking about secret things.

MATT: "Works for me!" He shoves off for his night of sherry and back biscuits. (laughter)

LAURA: That sounds like a good night.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah, it does. I could use that.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: City.

TRAVIS: I would die.

TALIESIN: How did you empty Lucien?

LIAM: What is needed to unlock Somnovem?

TALIESIN: What is needed to unlock Somnovin.

LAURA and LIAM: Somnovem.

MARISHA: Is there anything else? I've got about five words left.

LAURA: I don't know what your question is yet.

TALIESIN: What are they looking for at A2?

TRAVIS: Not what are they looking for. Do they need anything from A2?

LAURA: Oh, right.

TALIESIN: Yeah, do they need anything from A2?

MARISHA: I have: From Expositor Lionett. Pursuing-- Deep in Eiselcross, pursuing Eyes of Nine.

TALIESIN: What she looking for?

MARISHA: Any information or etymology on words "Cognouza" or "Somnovem." And I've got like five words left.

TALIESIN: Okay.

TRAVIS: She had it marked on the map, but if...

LAURA: Yeah, we have find someone who can send a message to you and let them know. Because that's a lot of information. Otherwise, we can check back in the morning. You can say that we'll check back the morning.

MARISHA: Okay. Uh, yeah--

TALIESIN: What is she looking for at...

MARISHA: That's a good idea for certain.

TRAVIS: Is there anything they need at A2?

LAURA: Work fast. We'll check back in the morning.

TRAVIS: 'Cause if not, we won't go.

TALIESIN: Anything--

SAM: This is pretty serious busy work going on.

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: -- at A2.

SAM: In the meantime, I'm just going to ask Yasha to strum her harp for us, just sort of...

ASHLEY: For bardic inspiration?

SAM: Just to kind of lighten the mood because it's kind of tense tonight. I mean, we got oldie over here and these two guys are just writing everything.

LAURA: I'm just going to be touching my horns. I'm trying to figure out how much they've grown.

ASHLEY: Slowly strumming.

SAM: You got, like, whiskers.

LAURA: Shut up! No, I don't, Nott!

SAM: Just a couple whiskers! Just pluck them!

LAURA: If I have whiskers, you have whiskers.

TALIESIN: Accidentally clicked the wrong-- (laughter)

LAURA: Does my horn jewelry still fit my horns?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay.

ASHLEY: I mean, I actually think the extra years looks great on you.

MARISHA: Okay, I'm ready.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to send a message right now. To whom am I sending it?

MARISHA: Yudala Fon. We're going straight to the fucking top.

LAURA: To Yudala Fon, sending the message.

MARISHA: From Expositor Lionett.

LAURA: From Expositor Lionett.

TALIESIN: Five questions.

LIAM: You have five already?

TRAVIS: Is that part of the message?

TALIESIN: Well, I have one--

MARISHA: (laughs) Did you know about the city?

MARISHA: We'll hold on this.

TRAVIS: Hold on, hold on, hold on. Message.

LIAM: We'll do this first.

SAM: Here we go.

MARISHA: From Expositor Lionett. Deep in Eiselcross.

LAURA: Deep in Eiselcross.

MARISHA: Pursuing Nine Eyes.

LAURA: Pursuing Nine Eyes.

MARISHA: Any information.

LAURA: Any information.

MARISHA: Or etymology.

LAURA: Or etymology!?

MARISHA: On words.

LAURA: On words.

MARISHA: Cognouza.

LAURA: Cognouza.

MARISHA and LAURA: Or Somnovem.

MARISHA: Work fast.

LAURA: Work fast.

MARISHA: Will check back in morning.

LAURA: Will check back in morning.

SAM: Who's on Tal'Dorei Council? (laughter)

MATT: Just squeeze it in there at the very end.

TALIESIN: Two more questions.

LAURA: I was giving it time so that Yudala Fon would be able to write down some of these things.

MATT: Fair enough.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Okay, the response comes. "Ah, I thank you for the information. I will pass this onto our archivists and see what we can find."

MARISHA: That's it for now.

LAURA: All right.

TALIESIN: So, so far, is there anything he needs at A2? Did she know about the floating city?

TRAVIS: Is that important? Is that--

TALIESIN: Or we can ask-- we can-- and I don't know. We can ask her--

LAURA: Yes, she's got know about the floating city.

TALIESIN: We can ask her what a Somnovem is.

TRAVIS: Yep.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: What is Somnovem? How did you empty Lucien? And that's three questions.

LIAM: Three? Why did you want to unlock Somnovem?

TALIESIN: Why did you want to...

TRAVIS: How do we beat Lucien?

SAM: Oh yeah, does it help us to know, like, how did Lucien kill you? Or, like, what sort of power does he have or?

LAURA: How would we stop them? Do you feel vengeful? Maybe how do we stop them from succeeding?

TRAVIS: Feels like if she knew a weakness, she would have been able to exploit it.

ASHLEY: I'm also curious. I don't know if this would help us in any way, but why does she keep doing this to him? To Lucien? Why does he keep getting-- they keep getting emptied?

LAURA: He might've only been emptied one time.

TALIESIN: Maybe.

LAURA: Maybe she just did it the once and he came back, you know?

LIAM: I have a question, too. If there's room for it.

TALIESIN: These things can change as is the conversation goes forward.

LIAM: This is the priority, but if there's room, I have something unrelated to ask her.

TALIESIN: Let me know. I mean, what is it?

LIAM: I'd be curious to know if the Cerberus Assembly would tolerate the removal of Trent Ikithon.

TALIESIN: That's a lot to write down. Let me know when we get there. All right, do we want to do this?

LAURA: (whispered) Let's do it!

TALIESIN: All right. Set up the head and...

SAM: Should we probably put the head on top of one of the cats, just so--

LAURA: It feels like--

SAM: -- like feels like it's alive?

TALIESIN: I'm just gonna walk away. (laughter)

TALIESIN: And I prefer focus.

LAURA: Ooh, let's make the room really dark and only have light underneath our faces, so we seem more intimidating.

LIAM: Well, we're in the tower, so I just telepathically make the globules dim. And I put a big silver platter on a wide, low table before the main fireplace in the salon for her head.

MATT: All right.

ASHLEY: I want her head on a platter. (low chuckles)

MATT: And with that, you have the dull, ghastly, lifeless head of Vess DeRogna lit rather macabrely at your disposal.

TALIESIN: This might be the last time. What is Somnovem?

MATT: With the head sits there resting. "(creaking gasp) They are the minds of Cognouza."

MARISHA: Minds?

TRAVIS: The minds.

MATT: "The ones who orchestrated its escape, and wish now to return."

TALIESIN: I'm going off-script.

SAM: Already? (laughter)

TALIESIN: That all right?

SAM: Sure.

LAURA: Sure.

LIAM: Your spell.

TALIESIN: Escape from what?

MATT: "The destruction of Aeor. They betrayed their own city to ensure their survival."

TALIESIN: Why did you want to unlock-- bring back Somnovem?

MATT: "To become one of the minds is to receive the lost knowledge of the greatest mageocracy in history."

TALIESIN: We are collecting the keys to complete this. What do we need at A2?

MATT: "It requires the means to come back. Enough crests to replace lost when it found the storm."

TALIESIN: I'm sorry, Caleb. I've got one more. Where must the ritual be completed?

MATT: "The gate lies in the center of the city's ruin."

MARISHA: (to herself) The gate lies in--

TALIESIN: I think-- is that five?

LAURA: That was five.

MATT: And it slumps forward with a sickening (splat).

TALIESIN: It's going to burn it out eventually.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Put a cloth over the head.

TALIESIN: There is one more call we could make: Essek's. We could let him know everything. Everything.

TRAVIS: That's trouble is coming?

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: What kind of trouble. What words to look up. What to research. There's no sense playing ridiculous political games right now.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: I don't know if we want to tell Essek that there is a potential way to plug into the greatest minds--

TALIESIN: Well.

LIAM: -- of the arcane in all history.

TALIESIN: I think we are a little more honest with him and tell him that that's absolutely not what this is. That's a lie. This is destruction. There's no knowledge in that thing. It is a... There's nothing to be learned from that kind of chaos.

MARISHA: What is stopping it? What makes you think he doesn't already know all of this and isn't in pursuit of it in himself? He's a dope-ass mage just like she was.

TALIESIN: I feel like he'd be out here already.

MARISHA: Maybe he just has a few different pieces of the puzzle and we've caught the others.

TALIESIN: We've convinced him to listen to reason once. That's all I have.

LIAM: I honestly don't trust him enough.

TALIESIN: Maybe we can tell him just enough.

MARISHA: We already know--

LAURA: We could tell him that we need his help to stop the Tomb Takers, that the Tomb Takers are trying to bring back an entity that is...

TALIESIN: A city-sized entity that will...

LAURA: Destroy everything.

TALIESIN: Bring chaos.

MARISHA: And, I mean, we already know that the Dynasty and the Empire fighting for relics and knowledge from this place. We know that's why he's here. We just don't know the specifics.

TRAVIS: I mean, what advantage would we give, though? Even if we say there's an enemy coming that doesn't change anything. We need to check away a key component of what they're looking for. Maybe there's a lodestone today or maybe they need to remove it themselves.

TALIESIN: Maybe he can find the site. Maybe you can find another component before they do. Lock it down.

TRAVIS: Right, it's not so much defending the city or stopping them. Maybe they need to take the last piece and move.

TALIESIN: I think it's foolish to ignore allies right now. Even if they are shifty. This is all hands.

MARISHA: I'm not suggesting we ignore allies. I am just laying out the fact that we are in a rat race that we only know a part of the rules of.

LIAM: Yes, if we pull him in, I don't want to whet his appetite for the same thing that Vess hungered for.

MARISHA: Agreed. Okay.

LAURA: I don't have enough words to really whet his appetite in that way anyway.

TALIESIN: (emphasizing the H) Whet.

MARISHA: (like Taliesin) Whet.

LAURA: When I saw the vision of the city, did it feel as disturbing as it did when we saw it with Vo- Vokado? I always think Avocado.

MATT: Yeah. Equally, if not more so, even though the vision was but an instant, you felt a prolonged view. You sensed this bottomless hunger that seemed to emanate from it. You swear one moment you saw a shifting piece of ethereal rock, like so many that just drift through the astral plane, draw near before the island stretched like a pseudopod and consumed it and expanded ever so slightly. As you think back, you remember seeing the streets empty, but you could hear voices. Hundreds of voices, sourceless, whispering, screaming nonstop. This nightmarish cacophony of torment and confusion and laughter and memory. And yet there were still minds amongst them that were stronger than the others. And you shake your head. Like the more you think back, the more details click in from that vision. And it makes it even more terrifying.

LAURA: I imagine it's one of those things that take root, that you can't shake it once you've seen it.

LIAM: So Vess wanted her own consciousness to be uplifted to be joined with... It's like their souls have become light.

TALIESIN: I don't think she understood the nature of this thing.

LIAM: I don't either, but...

LAURA: She thought that when it came back, she would be even more powerful made, right?

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: There's no coming back from this thing. It's in my head and there is no-- This is-- there is no coming back from this thing. It's-- it can't be.

LIAM: The vision had hundreds of thousands of voices co-mingling together, but a few stronger within. Maybe they are the Eyes of Nine.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Maybe it is every person who ever lived in the city and its ruling nine. And there's an offer to the Nonagon to join the club.

TALIESIN: Or at least they think so.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: We have to stop it.

MARISHA: Group of mages, thought that they were... I don't know, saving their city. And instead they damned it to insanity and an eternal Astral Sea.

TALIESIN: I think perhaps you're too kind to their intentions.

SAM: Did she give us any concrete thing to look forward at A2?

TALIESIN: No, another just--

MARISHA: Crests.

LAURA: They said more crests, right?

SAM: But she didn't say any other type of item. So it's just crests that we know of.

TALIESIN: I think it's probably more, but then again, it's not like she can't lie or not know. The trouble with this is they can say whatever they like. You do your best to gain trust, but it's a crapshoot.

SAM: How many days are we away from A2?

LAURA: One day.

MATT: One day.

LAURA: Be there tomorrow.

LIAM: One day more.

TALIESIN: I'm going to stick my head out and just for giggles, poke Locate Creature, to see if Lucien's within a thousand feet.

LAURA: You're going to peep your head out of the tower first, right? They would have had to travel pretty fast to--

TALIESIN: Yeah, they would.

MATT: Well, as you lean outside of the entrance, your mind reaching out magically for the possible presence of Lucien, the Nonagon and the cold wind that's blowing the lightless night, you sense nothing.

TALIESIN: I pop back in. He's either very, very much ahead of us or reasonably behind us.

LIAM: All right.

LAURA: Should I send a message to Essek?

TALIESIN: Yes.

SAM: Saying what? Just... bad guys are coming.

LAURA: Bad guys are coming.

SAM: Find a crest and hide it.

TALIESIN: They're going to summon something dangerous and it's going to be bigger than anyone can handle.

LAURA: We have to stop them.

TALIESIN: And--

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: People are here. They are not the Empire. They are not the Dynasty, they're... outsiders, and all we know is they are dangerous, which is the truth.

LAURA: Okay. I'll send a message to Essek.

MATT: All right. We should hit A2 tomorrow.

TRAVIS: A2... tomorrow. There's a group... of villains on the way. We have to stop them, Essek. They plan to release something terrible.

MATT: "Well, you portend something... frightful. I have my responsibilities, but... if I can be of aid, please let me know. I trust your guts."

LAURA: He says he'll help, if we need him. I'm going to go to bed.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: We are exhausted.

MATT: The rest of you as well?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: I--I'm going to make my way over to Jester's room.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: And knock on the door.

SAM: She goes to bed at eight o'clock now.

LAURA: Yeah, 6:00.

TRAVIS: She's so old.

LAURA: Early early dinner.

TRAVIS: I hear the Game Show Network inside the room. (laughter)

LAURA: I'm asleep.

LIAM: She gave up sugar today, did you know?

SAM: See her teeth.

LAURA: Hello? (laughter)

TRAVIS: Just gummin' it.

LAURA: Hello?

TRAVIS: Um... I was really worried about you when you fell.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: It suddenly feels far more serious than I thought it might be.

LAURA: I know. I can't get the image of it out of my head. It's scary.

TRAVIS: What do you think will happen?

LAURA: I think if they bring it back it will, um... it will absorb everything it can. It felt like all of the people that lived there, like... Like they were part of the city now. Like they could never escape. It felt like hell. It felt... like torment.

TRAVIS: And we have to stop it, right?

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: I--I may have a-- a problem. Um--

LAURA: What is it?

TRAVIS: I saw you standing on that pillar, and... it was the first time where I kept myself from trying to stop something that was happening to you, and I didn't do anything and it's bothered me.

LAURA: You couldn't have done anything, Fjord. It was in my head, y-you know?

TRAVIS: Yes, I don't want you to gamble with yourself. I know we were playing and it didn't seem like much, and it seems to have exacted a pretty serious toll. All I'm saying is I want you to be careful as we do this. I don't think we'll be the spectators that we thought we might be.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: I want to come out of this and be able to go back to the sea and go back to Nicodranas and go back to where it's warm and not fucking freezing, and...

LAURA: Me, too.

TRAVIS: I just don't know if that's-- I don't feel as optimistic now.

LAURA: Me neither. But... I'll try to be safe. And you should, too. But if it comes down to it, if... if it means stopping that thing, I want to stop that thing.

TRAVIS: I told your mother I would look after you.

LAURA: Yeah, we'll be fine, Fjord. We always are.

TRAVIS: I care very much for you.

LAURA: Really? Is it because I have chiseled cheekbones now?

TRAVIS: It's the longer horns.

LAURA: Yeah, it's really does it, doesn't it?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: (laughs)

TRAVIS: It gives you an intimidating look.

LAURA: (giggles)

TRAVIS: And I pull her in. Can I kiss you?

LAURA: (laughs, gasps) I kiss her. I don't-- I don't know how this will go, but I can't promise that I'm going to let you just throw yourself at this thing. I don't think I can do that.

LAURA: I don't have an argument. Kissing is a lot more fun when you're not dying. (sniffles)

TRAVIS: And not when you're underwater drowning.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, that's what I mean. I don't know what to do with myself anymore.

TRAVIS: I've wanted to do it for a while. I'm kind of a big coward.

LAURA: No, Fjord, you're very brave.

TRAVIS: I am very brave, aren't I?

LAURA: (quietly) You are.

TRAVIS: I feel a bit better.

LAURA: Me, too.

TRAVIS: Are we sure we have to go fight this city?

LAURA: We have to go fight the city.

TRAVIS: We could just leave. Maybe we can--

LAURA: We have to fight it for...

TRAVIS: -- stay in the tower. Get cats and just flee.

LAURA: We have to fight it.

TRAVIS: All right. I'll see you in the morning.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: Goodnight.

LAURA: Goodnight, Fjord.

TRAVIS: I'll leave.

LAURA: (sighs) (giggles) I'll go... Just go lay in bed and hold up my little unicorn figurine and fall asleep holding it.

TRAVIS: I don't sleep much. (laughter)

MATT: And as the rest of you find sleep in your corresponding chambers, closing the final night before your arrival at the second Aeorian excavation, we're going to take a break.

MARISHA: (giggling)

ASHLEY: Yeah!

MATT: We'll be back here--

MARISHA: Yeah!

MATT: -- in a few minutes to pick up from there.

MARISHA: Love is real!

LAURA: This guy did it!

MATT: You did it! The guy who never said he'd roleplay romance initiated! I'm proud of you, buddy!

LAURA: Look, he's turning red! (laughter)

TALIESIN: -- takes five years.

ASHLEY: He's all red!

MARISHA: I know!

MATT: This is character growth. Like, I'm not talking about Fjord. I'm talking about Travis.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: He's hiding his face. He can't take it.

MATT: I know.

TRAVIS: Good, it's good.

MATT: And how was it?

TRAVIS: It was great. (laughter)

MATT: All righty, we'll see you guys back here in a few minutes.

Break[]

LAURA: (V.O.) Hey critters, Laura Bailey here. Let's see what's up in the Critical Role shop. I mean, the traveler always says impulse purchases are a good decision. (trickling) It's perfect for the home, or the office, or your bathroom. (chimes) Oh my gosh, it's so amazing. (tearing) Ooh, look at this. Look at the details, ooh. These holidays, you know, they're just around the corner. (click) So click on over to the Critical Role shop. (laughs) Don't worry, there's a few more minutes in the break. You still got time.

MARY ELIZABETH McGLYNN: (V.O.) (orchestra music) (beeping) (tearing) Jester is screwed. It takes her 20 minutes just to cross the street and another 10 to find the building. (laughing) Oh God, this was so hysterically funny. Aah, (laughs) (sniffs) and I'm punchy. Aha (beep). It takes her 20 minutes just to cross the street and another 10 to find the building. When she finally gets to the second floor, (laughing) (inhale) (sigh) (beep) All right, get it together. Get it together, here we go. (sniffs) (clears throat) (laugh) (beep) When she finally gets to the second floor, she manages to land in a curtained window, but then, she spends another 20 minutes (laughing) eating the curtains. (laughing) (laughing louder) Oh God, it's so (beep) funny. (laughing)

(rock music) Whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Yeah, we did it, yeah! Sam Riegel, you just won the Super Bowl. What are you gonna do now? I'm subscribing to Critical Role, yeah! Wonderful, and that's- It's about perseverance, like remembering to resubscribe with Twitch Prime every month, yeah! (whooping) Well could you What, have done it without my teammates? Come on, no way! And they couldn't have done it without the Twitch subscriptions that I gave them. Right, guys? Yeah! Okay, Sam, but, what about, Oh, what about, what about what inspires me, you mean? Well, Yee-Haw Game Ranch really does. I mean, watching that dehydrated piece of string cheese, Brian Foster, every couple of weeks really gets me pumped for the big game! (laughing) Sam, hold on. We have to (buzzer) You can't believe it? You can't believe it, is that what you said? Well, it's true, because every Yee-Haw VOD is instantly available as soon as you subscribe. It's amazing! Sam! We did it, guys! Sam! Yeah, yeah, yeah! What? Sorry. Just say I'm going to Disneyland. You're doing a commercial for Disneyland. Oh, uh, (spurt) what's at Disneyland? (dramatic music) (whistle) I dunno, I gotta be honest with you. Oh! I got hit in the head pretty hard out there. Oh my God. Woo! I'm not good at sports. (thud) (cheers)

Part II[]

MATT: Welcome back. (laughing)

TALIESIN: Shit.

TRAVIS: Are we even trying?

TALIESIN: No.

ASHLEY: She's like, I got a good one! Oh, we're already on. (laughter)

MATT: Welcome back. So after you all complete your evening's rest, you all gather for breakfast the next morning. Some probably a little more awkward than others.

TRAVIS: What do you mean?

LAURA: What are you talking about?

MATT: But nevertheless, meals are had, supplies are gathered, and Dagen preps to take you out once more into the icy tundra towards your nearby destination of the A2 excavation. So, do you have everything you need? Anything you wish to do before you leave? Or...?

LAURA: Oh, oh, oh, we have to check in. We have to check back in.

MARISHA: Yes, with Yudala Fon, please.

SAM: Jester.

LAURA: Yes?

SAM: Jester, I found this pill box. Do you take all of these now?

LAURA: Yeah, I need them all.

SAM: Wow.

LAURA: Yeah, my doctor recommends.

SAM: Okay.

LAURA: I have a high blood pressure.

TRAVIS: I have metamucil and Grape Nuts in the breakfast mix.

SAM: What's this can of liquid?

LIAM: There's one for everyday.

SAM: Oh yes.

LIAM: Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, ja.

ASHLEY: Grape Nuts are good.

LAURA: Grape Nuts are good.

TALIESIN: They are good.

MARISHA: Are they?

LIAM: For your bowels.

TRAVIS: Then you're a crazy person.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: That's gravel and milk.

MARISHA: That's bullshit.

LAURA: I used to eat Grape Nuts, but you have to pour sugar over the top of them.

TRAVIS: Wow.

MARISHA: Right, because they suck.

MATT: Yeah, there's certain cereals, you're just taking penance. Like you're trying to make up for something you did wrong in your life. And this is your way of feeling better.

LAURA: Grape Nuts feel like they never go away in the bowl. Like as you eat them, they stay, they regenerate.

ASHLEY: You can't see it. It just looks like milk.

MATT: Like I said, penance.

TRAVIS: Sediment.

TALIESIN: I used to pretend I was the rock guy.

SAM: This combat brought to you by Grape Nuts.

MATT: So anyway, is there anything else you would wish to do before you make to the next leg of your adventurous journey?

LIAM: (like Jester) I'm just exfoliating my colon. (laughter)

MATT: Exfoliniating? All righty.

LAURA: Yes, we're sending a message to Yudala Fon.

MARISHA: Yes.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: Is there anything else you want me to say, Beau? Or is it just: What did you find?

MARISHA: Oh, right.

SAM: She's got the info.

MARISHA: Yeah, I don't-- I didn't-- it would take me a minute.

LAURA: Okay, that's fine.

MARISHA: Okay.

LAURA: Checking back in. What did you find? If you don't have enough words, find someone that can send a message to Beau. It's a spell. I'm sure they can figure it out.

MARISHA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: So they can figure--

MATT: The response comes to you. "Good morning. It was difficult to research, but we found something. Records say, of the multiple wards of the lost city of Aeor, the Cognouza Ward was a section of the city."

LAURA: Cognouza Ward. Cognouza Ward?

MARISHA: Cognouza Ward.

SAM: So it was just a neighborhood. It's a neighborhood. It's not a person. It's not a thing. It's a neighborhood.

MATT: To which a follow up message comes to you.

LAURA: Wait, send it to Beau. I guess it sends to me.

MARISHA: Whichever works. It's fine, as long as the information gets through.

MATT: Continuing the conversation to you, just because it's--

LAURA: It's weird.

MATT: It's weird otherwise. Be like finish half a conversation one person to the next. "Somnovem--"

LAURA: Somnovem.

MATT: "-- has something to do with the leadership of that particular ward. That is all that we have."

LAURA: That was super helpful.

MARISHA: That is awesome.

LAURA: Thank you so much. Beau is super excited about that information. You rock!

MARISHA: Yeah!

LAURA: Talk soon.

MATT: No further response. You sense likely some appreciation from that end. (chuckles)

MARISHA: The minds of Cognouza orchestrated its escape. So, like some sort of mage--

LIAM: It's a Cerberus Assembly of its time.

MARISHA: Yes, 100 percent.

TRAVIS: And they jettisoned their own neighborhood while Aeor was being destroyed, or Aeor jettisoned them?

LIAM: Or maybe they brought down Aeor, contrary to popular belief--

TRAVIS: From inside.

LIAM: -- to somehow save themselves.

TALIESIN: Maybe they figured out how to save themselves and the people in that ward by destroying everything.

LAURA: The rest of the city or something?

TALIESIN: Or at least turning themselves into something that could survive.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: I'm sure they had very good rationalizations for themselves.

MARISHA: Why bring back the Somnovem? "To become one of the great minds."

LAURA: Okay. All right. We should, we should--

TRAVIS: We're so ready for this.

LAURA: Just head to A2 and try to get to a crest.

LIAM: What's better than one all powerful circle of mages, but two all powerful circles of mages?

SAM: Are we one of the two?

LIAM: No, we are not.

MARISHA: Are you including the Dynasty? Is that the third? Or is that, like, a broken one? You know what, let's not count mages.

TALIESIN: That's like a half circle.

LIAM: They are our ancestors.

MARISHA: Ah! Let's press on.

TRAVIS: Mm-hmm.

SAM: A2.

TRAVIS: A2.

MATT: (as Dagen) "All right. Get your shit and follow." He pushes his way out in the snow. You all follow suit and begin the final leg of your trek. You continue on for roughly three or so hours before you find yourselves approaching--

SAM: Do we lose our exhaustion?

MATT: You do, yes.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: You're now good. You begin to approach a small, jagged range of rocky hills and small spires that seem to peek through the snow and ice. Advancing up the rough slopes. Eventually, Dagen leads you to a rope climb to a small cliff face above. He looks over to the rest of you. "All the previous times I've brought people here for the trek, they all went up that way. Come on." He goes and wraps the rope and then hand over hand lifts him and his chair up along the cliff face.

TRAVIS: Damn.

MATT: Before eventually getting to the edge and you can see there's like a metallic pike of some kind. It's jammed into the rock. And he uses that (groans) lift himself over, and then with one strong show of core strength, get him and the chair up onto the cliff face. "So you coming?" Then he wheels off.

TRAVIS: Sure. Just like that.

MARISHA: I want his upper body strength.

LIAM: I want that core strength.

MARISHA: Can I have that?

TALIESIN: That's very impressive. I'll go for it if no one else-- just, that way there's more people for me to fall on. Guidance.

MATT: Go for it.

TALIESIN: Is it acrobatics or--?

MATT: We'll say, for the purposes of this, it's a challenge.

TALIESIN: Challenge.

MATT: With a little bit of help with some of your friends, one by one, you can all make it there. I'm not going to have to make it a whole skill check to have to climb 25 feet. Though I love you jumping into it.

TALIESIN: I would fall anyway, which is why I as going to try to. (laughter)

MATT: Fair enough. Fair enough.

TRAVIS: I'll catch you!

MATT: To be fair, you could be Yasha's chair. She can probably carry you up the same way.

TALIESIN: Oh, thank you.

TRAVIS: Fezzik.

MARISHA: Not using your legs. Yeah.

MATT: Yep.

MARISHA: It's great.

LIAM: You just stopped me from falling and turning into a T-Rex in response. (laughter)

MATT: All right.

LIAM: (impacts)

TRAVIS: (T-Rex roar)

MATT: As you all eventually climb to the top, you only see before you this pockmarked snow and slate plateau at the top. Still jagged in places, but it seems to have leveled off at this point. And at first glance, you don't really see any signs of an excavation.

MARISHA: I'd be careful where you step.

SAM: It's just rocks everywhere?

LAURA: Oh, the snow may have covered up the entrance.

MARISHA: We just recently went through a snow storm. You don't want to fall through any crevices.

MATT: Dagen looks over to you and goes, "That was very astute of you. I did take one crew here once before and they had a fellow that walked out and just vanished."

TRAVIS: Ooh.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: "I mean, they eventually found him, a little broken on the bottom, but somewhere around here there's a... an illusory blanket hiding the entrance. So just--"

LAURA: How do we find it?

MATT: "Carefully."

LIAM: I'll throw up Detect Magic.

TRAVIS: Nice.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: And start slowly inching along.

MATT: You detect a mass illusion that blocks a large portion of this region. It is permanently installed, it seems.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: But you could try and scan through and see if you could peer through it for those who--

LIAM: I will.

MATT: -- are of like mind. All right, make an investigation check.

LAURA: Guidance. Just kidding.

LIAM: Natural 20.

TRAVIS: Yeah, let's go.

MATT: To a total of?

LIAM: Oh, with investigation, 31. (oohing)

MATT: With a brief glance, you immediately can see the pattern out there. And there's a little bit of a shimmer where, as you focus, you can see there's an echo in the shadow. And there you can tell there is a very faint opening. And once you see that, you point it out to everybody else and the illusion seems to almost, once you click in it-- it's like seeing a Magic Eye image, where once you focus, all of a sudden you're like, "Oh, that's been there the whole time."

TALIESIN: Indiana Jones invisible bridge.

MATT: Yeah, that kind of thing.

TRAVIS: Good pull.

TALIESIN: I see what you did there.

LIAM: I'd turn to the group and carefully say: Go! (laughter)

TRAVIS: You bastard.

MARISHA: Go!

MATT: Beneath this illusory self as you get low, you can actually look beneath the line, because as you walk towards it, you can see elements of your heels begin to absorb into the snowfall that's clouded the area, but there's no resistance in the snow. Peering beneath, you can see there is a 15-foot chasm, a little ways ahead of you.

LAURA: Whoa.

MATT: That just descends directly below. And you can already see a rickety series of wooden steps and platforms that begin to spiral down the side.

LAURA: Those look safe.

SAM: Yeah, I mean, that's the way down, right?

MATT: "Yeah, apparently. Y'all have fun. I'm going to set up camp somewhere around here out of sight."

LAURA: Yes, hide.

TALIESIN: I was about to say, best be out of sight.

LAURA: The last time we went up, they had killed the scout, the person that was standing guard, so.

MATT: "Right. So the same folks that were out there, they're coming as well?"

TALIESIN: Probably.

MATT: "Good to know, I'm going to be-- You can do that weird message thing, right?"

LAURA: I can.

MATT: "Just let me know when you're coming back because I'm going to be a ways off."

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: "Stay in the sight, tucked away. All right. Good luck, don't die."

SAM: Thank you.

MATT: "If you do, just leave some gold. All right," and he heads off in a-- this would be an north-northwestern direction from where you currently stand and trying to find some path out of sight. So who would like to descend first and in what order?

SAM: I'll go first and I'll look for traps.

MATT: All right. Who'd be going after? There is just enough room to go single file around the edge of this chasm. So who would be next after?

MARISHA: I look at Veth and I unbuckle my goggles.

SAM: Oh, yes.

MARISHA: Still not a gift.

SAM: Sure.

MARISHA: Just.

SAM: Ah, I dropped it!

MARISHA: Oh no! (laughter)

TRAVIS: Wow, that could not have gone worse! (laughter)

MARISHA: You're three feet away!

SAM: Don't worry, Mage Hand. Got them.

LIAM: A massive monster comes up through the rock.

ASHLEY: I'll go next.

MATT: All righty.

TALIESIN: I'll go after that.

TRAVIS: I'll go.

MATT: So Beau, are you going after Veth?

MARISHA: No.

MATT: So Yasha. And then who's after Yasha?

TALIESIN: I am.

LAURA: Caduceus.

MATT: Caduceus, all righty.

TRAVIS: I'll go after you.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: And then Jester.

MARISHA: Caleb's in the middle.

LIAM: ♪ Caleb takes the rear ♪

SAM: ♪ Caleb take the wheel ♪

MATT: And you go after Fjord, you said?

MARISHA: I'll go last. I'll bring up the rear or something.

SAM: ♪ Beau also takes the rear ♪

LIAM: What part of "Caleb takes the rear"? (laughter)

SAM: ♪ There's two rears ♪ (laughter)

MATT: You guys get to decide who gets to be in the rear.

LIAM: I mean, that's--

TRAVIS: Boulder, Parchment, Shears.

LAURA: (chanting) Boulder, Parchment, Shears!

LIAM: I was just going to let her push me out of the way.

LAURA: Oh, well, that works, too.

LIAM: Whatever you like.

MARISHA: Do you want to be-- I was just-- squishy people in the middle, so...

LIAM: Uh.

MARISHA: Protecting what's most valuable, you know.

LIAM: Boulder, Parchment, Shears.

MARISHA: All right, all right, all right.

LIAM: It's weird with two people.

MARISHA: It is.

SAM: I'll play.

LIAM: Eins, zwei, drei, shoot. What?

MARISHA: Oh shit. Sorry.

TRAVIS: Who throws on four?

LAURA: You hit on three!

TALIESIN: One, two, three.

LAURA: One, two, hit.

LIAM: It was the Zemnian. (laughter) I've always done one, two, three, shoot.

MATT: We can't even get it right when it's as intended!

LIAM: Huh?

MATT: Nothing, continue.

MARISHA: You were counting so slow, it threw off the rhythm. Is it-- so okay, are we going on four, or we going on three?

LIAM: Whatever you do, I'll do.

MARISHA: What's the Zemnian way?

TRAVIS: Oh my god.

LIAM: Eins, zwei, drei, shoot. Eins, zwei, drei, shoot.

MARISHA: Eins, zwei, drei, shoot.

TRAVIS: Throw on four.

MARISHA: All right. Throw on four. Throw on four.

LIAM: Eins, zwei, drei, shoot.

MARISHA: All right. Go.

LIAM: Eins, zwei, drei, shoot.

MARISHA: Fuck.

LIAM: Eins, zwei, drei, shoot.

MARISHA: Ohh.

LIAM: ♪ Caleb takes the rear ♪ (laughter)

MATT: All righty. (laughter)

LAURA: Is it over or under, you guys? Over or under? (laughter)

MATT: All right.

LIAM: Go! Go, go, go!

MATT: So you were looking for traps, you said?

SAM: I'm looking for traps.

MATT: Make an investigation or perception check, your call.

SAM: Investigation. Yes! 26.

MATT: 26. All right. Glancing about, you don't see any traps. You do see the relatively dangerous nature of the platforms that you are descending on. A lot of the wood here has been weathered, and you can see the platform isn't continuous. It'll continue and spiral down with some heavy steps, some steep steps, and then the platform will just stop. There is a rope that drops down about 30 feet. Then there is the next platform that switches back. And every single platform you reach, the minute it takes any weight you hear that (wood creaking). Next step, (wood creaking).

LAURA: Oh god.

LIAM: It doesn't sound good for us non-monks.

LAURA: I know.

MATT: But no traps.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: So you all continue to follow suit, carefully making your way.

TRAVIS: Just paying attention to the sound. Should we get out a length of rope and just hold onto that shit?

MARISHA: Yeah, might not be a bad idea.

TALIESIN: Yeah, that's a good idea.

LIAM: Wait, all of us hold the same rope? So if one person falls down, they pull everyone else with them?

SAM: No, everyone else catches that person.

MARISHA: Well, the weight distribution is hopefully in the favor of the group and not the one person falling. Not that I'm a physicist.

LIAM: I see that as a charm bracelet going, (mouth shucking) off the side.

TRAVIS: Right.

MARISHA: Well.

LIAM: We could do a science experiment. I will turn into a bat.

MARISHA: You know.

TRAVIS and SAM: Bat! (laughter) (laughter) (laughter)

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Rope?

MARISHA: Rope. Yeah.

TRAVIS: Rope.

TALIESIN: I do it. We're just holding on to it, so.

TRAVIS: 50 feet of rope. Everybody wrap it around your wrist, grab it, then pass it to the person in front of you.

MATT: All right. Continuing further down.

LIAM: ♪ Further down, further down ♪

MATT: The pit goes 60, 80, 100 feet down. The daylight fades as shadow begins to take the path downward. You, thankfully, with the goggles you borrowed from Beau, keep an eye, but eventually you're going to need an additional light source, as no sunlight is making its way through.

TALIESIN: Both.

LIAM: Well, I can do the globules, yeah.

TALIESIN: Just do Light up, too.

LIAM: Keep them fairly dim.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: They're already dim, though.

MATT: You got it. Continuing down, you notice as the platform begins to shift to the left, the pit begins to angle slightly, almost like the slope begins to form. And immediately you can see there is a sheet of ice that has gathered, making it extremely slick. However, the last length of rope on that final platform before reaching this section, continues down and you could rappel carefully down the side of the ice, if you'd like.

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: For each of you rappelling down, I would like you to make either an athletics or acrobatics check.

SAM: Should we disconnect from our rope?

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

SAM: Keep on our rope.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we need to let go.

SAM: Okay.

LIAM: Athletics or acrobatics. Hmm.

SAM: 28 for me!

TRAVIS: 16.

MATT: 16.

LAURA: 19.

MATT: 19.

LIAM: (tongue cluck)

SAM: Ooh.

LAURA: Oh no.

TRAVIS: Boy.

SAM: 28.

ASHLEY: 24.

TALIESIN: 23.

MARISHA: 20 total, and then also some unarmored movement, wall walking shit.

MATT: You got it.

MARISHA: Dope monk shit.

MATT: So as all of you begin to rappel down the edge of the slope, it only goes for about 15, 20 feet before it then continues into another drop into black nothingness below. And about 15 feet below the rotation into a solid pit once more, the walls give way. So suddenly you are just lowering yourself into a black abyss.

TRAVIS: By rope.

MATT: By rope.

LAURA: And you rolled a one.

MATT: And as you guys are realizing that, Caleb, partway into the rappelling, your feet, (whooshing) go out from under you, as you try and reach for the rope, your other foot kicks the rope out from the side as that way you fall and you're on your back upside down, (screeching) sliding down the ice.

LAURA: Is he sliding past all of us, since he was last?

MATT: He would be, yes.

LAURA: So can we try to catch him on the way?

MATT: The next person from there would be Beauregard. Beau, go ahead and make--

TRAVIS: Let's go, DMS.

MATT: I will say go ah--

SAM: Catch that missile.

MATT: Go ahead and make an athletics check on this one.

MARISHA: I will say, grabbing things, strength-- wait. Is he a missile? (laughs)

MATT: I will say no.

MARISHA: Okay. That's fair. Not great. 15.

MATT: That's enough.

MARISHA: Oh, okay.

MATT: It wasn't terribly challenging, but because the arrangement and he was the last one, thankfully, that did work in your favor. So as he streaks by, you're just now cresting over the edge and you see him, (screeching) scrape past. You reach out, grab him, and the rope lurches for a second, just from the physicality of everything.

MARISHA: Ugh, my shoulder!

MATT: You all hear that as (groans), Beau groans with her shoulder being pulled ever so faintly out of the socket before she, (pops) pulls it back in.

MARISHA: Gah.

LIAM: Mein Gott!

MATT: You are caught. You all below are dangling now. Any sort of movement at the top of the rope just sends further waves down to the rest of you who are just free dangling.

ASHLEY: What's going on?

MARISHA: Sorry!

LAURA: (screaming)

TRAVIS: Beau, Beau. Are you holding--? Yeah, I climb back up a little bit.

MARISHA: Grab, like-- boost his ass or something.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'll actually grab his shins with my arm and push him back over to the rope. You have it? Do you have it?

MATT: It takes a moment, but you do manage to readjust yourself and get back a hold of the rope.

LIAM: Your physical prowess has saved my magic for another day.

MARISHA: Oh, fuck, I think you broke my shoulder. Okay.

LIAM: I weigh 140 pounds.

MARISHA: Oof.

TRAVIS: That's a lot.

MATT: So Veth, do you keep descending the rope?

SAM: I'm descending the rope.

MATT: As you begin to lower down into the dark expanse, you can look up at the roof where the pit was and you could see that's a hole in a ceiling. The ceiling is an odd, pyramid-like apex from what little bit of light there is. But it's a gradual separation that then goes into darkness. You cannot see the walls. You cannot see where it ends, but you are at, not the direct apex, but some element near the top of this angled, vaulted roof. You continue to lower down, lower down, looking for any sign of floor or end to this. But because the light sources are above you, you're having to rely upon the catching up of Caduceus and Caleb. Even with your darkvision goggles, you don't have the most extreme vision. Eventually, you glance down because it gives you 60 feet, right? Or is it 50, 30 feet.

MARISHA: Goggles? 60 feet.

MATT: 60 feet?

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: You do begin to see the floor begin to approach finally, and it brings a sense of relief to you. Glancing below, you can already see that there's a tangled spread of broken shale and small patches of snow, all across the floor below you. It is a broken mess of a floor, but it looks safe to land. And the rope that you're on does eventually come and curl up at the bottom with an additional 40 to 50 feet of slack. You lower down, you touch, and look up as each of you carefully one by one, descend to the bottom of this chamber. Looking up, you can just barely see the faint bit of light that, by comparison to this dark interior, you can see just the faintest essence of reflected daylight that just barely outlines the very tiniest sliver of an eclipse, where you first arrived. As you look around you, you can see remnants of tools, some pick axes. You can see a couple of empty discarded oil lanterns. You can see a bedroll that's been placed at the side. This looks like a camping location for excavation crews that have come through. But seems most everything, at least in the immediate vicinity, has been picked clean or destroyed.

LAURA: I'm going to cast Locate Object.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: And I'm going to try to find a threshold crest.

MARISHA: (fingers snapping)

MATT: Okay. It doesn't quite click in yet, but there is a duration on that, correct?

LAURA: 10 minutes.

MATT: 10 minutes? Okay, good to know. Right as you finish that, you hear a voice ring out from the shadow around you. "Halt! You are surrounded. Identify your purpose and allegiance, or be shot down where you stand!"

MARISHA: Do we have any idea or indication of accent?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: You would gather.

SAM: That was Italian.

MARISHA: Tony?! Holy shit! Dude!

MATT: "It's been so long."

MARISHA: What are you doing here? It's been 10 years.

MATT: You've heard-- elements of it seem to be Empire-ish. Some regions around Hupperdook seem to lean into this variation within the Zemnian region. So it does seem to have an element of Empire root.

LIAM: We are of the Empire from outside of Rexxentrum. Although we travel far afield, on official business.

MATT: "Under whose watch?"

LIAM: We've been sent here by Lady DeRogna, of the Cerberus Assembly.

MATT: There's a pause. "All right, hold on." (laughter) Hear some shuffling, and carefully stepping into the light, you see this tiny, middle-aged, gnome man, by himself, his hair is tattered up and tangled, a dark brown color, gray towards the edges of his temples, salt and pepper. He has a chin beard that looks like it's just been left to grow and curl on itself, where it gives this fuzzy chin strap. It's big and thick. He looks like he's suffered a little bit of frostbite, maybe at the tip of his nose at some point in his age, and it's just a little dark and nubbed at the edge but he looks up at you all with thick furs and equipment on his back. And he goes, "All right. I'm Iver."

SAM: Iva?

MATT: "Iver Climtaver. I am actually here under Zana Deelio, the apprentice to the Ludinus Da'leth. Have you been sent as a backup, as the requested backup?"

TALIESIN: Ooh.

LIAM: From the Martinet, you mean?

MATT: "Well, I sent out a request. The initial party of which I was the lookout for has not returned in days. So I was requesting for backup."

LIAM: Yeah, well, Lady DeRogna has arranged for us to be here in the frozen north.

MATT: "Oh. Thank goodness. Thank goodness. So very happy. Glad you could come."

LAURA: (sneezing)

MATT: "Gesundheit."

LAURA: Thank you. It's very cold down here.

MATT: "It is, ja. I've not heard from Zana or the rest of our troop, and I'm starting to go a little scared, a little crazy."

LIAM: Yeah. It seems to be going around. We are out of touch with our--

MATT: "Did you bring additional food, perhaps? I'm running a little low on supplies."

SAM: Where are the others who had us surrounded?

MATT: "Oh, it's just me, I--"

SAM: Ohh. Oh.

LIAM: Yeah. Let me, I have some provisions here. These are called boba.

MATT: He grabs them, he's like--

TALIESIN: Gentle.

LAURA: Just one.

LIAM: Just one a day. I know they look small. You will regret if you have even two. It will fill your colon like all stone.

MATT: "Oh, I find extreme importance in colon health. So I appreciate you letting me know." (laughter)

TALIESIN: Clearly.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: He wraps it in a handkerchief and puts it in a pocket. (wet clicking)

LIAM: How long have you been here, friend?

MATT: "I've been here about a week and a half, I think. I don't know. Time is a bit strange in these caverns. There's not a lot of light. It could be fast-- longer, shorter, I don't know. What day is it? Where-- um."

LAURA: Have you seen a big gem about this big, maybe smaller, maybe bigger?

MATT: "No, I've mainly just stayed in this area. I did wander a little bit into the northeastern region, but then I heard some very terrible noises from one of the other regions, so I just came back in here and hid."

MARISHA: And what happened? Where's the rest of your team?

MATT: "I don't know. They've been excavating in and out and gathering information and findings, but they just have not returned in some time."

LIAM: How many were in your party?

MATT: "Originally, it was-- it would have been six, including myself, but now I do not know where they are. They might be lost, they might be abandoned, or worse."

SAM: We can try our best to find them. It would help us to know, you know, which pathway they took last, but also if your mission was similar to ours. The Ludinus-- Ludinus sent you?

MATT: "Well, I was brought here by Zana. She apprentices under Ludinus, but, you know, it was-- You work with the Assembly. It's fine. We are one of the cycling crews, expedition crews, delvers."

TALIESIN: I feel like we skipped over something. Hold on. Weird noises? Elaborate.

MATT: "Hoh, um. Sounds like a-- You ever heard like a baby crying?"

TALIESIN: Yes.

MATT: "But, like, deeper."

TALIESIN: Yes.

MATT: "Like that."

TALIESIN: Oh.

MARISHA: Deeper.

TALIESIN: Well, that's odd.

MATT: "Ja.."

TALIESIN: It was like a scary big baby or just "Oh, that would be really cute if I were larger," big baby?

MATT: "I don't know if cute is the word that I would use."

ASHLEY: Wouldn't that just sound like an adult crying? (laughter)

MATT: "You'll know what I mean when you hear it." (laughter)

ASHLEY: Just asking, you know, just is, an adult baby.

TALIESIN: I mean, you have a fair point there.

SAM: And again, though, just general excavation or were you looking for something specific?

MATT: "Well, I wasn't given more instructions than was necessary. I was just brought along to keep watch and, you know, maintain the base camp here."

SAM: Great. Great.

MARISHA: When were you expecting them to return?

MATT: "Initially, it was only supposed to be a four day delve. This was the supplies they had for it. So I ran out in that allocated time, and then had to get creative."

MARISHA: And how did you request back up?

MATT: "Oh, well, I didn't request it, but whenever things go wrong there is a request for backup. And I assumed that the individuals who went ahead of me had requested, with your arrival. So."

LIAM: There is a great deal of trouble in multiple areas here. In fact, I don't want to alarm you, but in addition to the dangers within, there are dangers without, as well. And we are worried that people who have goals contrary to those of the Empire are converging on this place as well. So if you are to remain, we must find a way for you to keep hidden. And I do not recommend risking your skin like you just did with us.

MATT: "Right."

LIAM: If we are followed in--

MATT: "I can remain hidden quite well. Well, now that I know your voice prints, it should be easy enough for you to call me when it's safe. I can just stay out of sight, especially now that I have these strange little colon balls that you gave me."

LIAM: Yes.

TRAVIS: Aside from the noises, you said, "when things went wrong." What else went wrong?

MATT: "Well. As far as I know, in part of the challenge of excavations like this, is there are still arcane devices and entrapments, and protections that are active even after all this time. So there must be care taken when excavating. There was a device, shortly into our arrival, that was stumbled upon, that sent a great bit of pain through me and my troop, but we survived, and they continued on after some rest. And I decided, once again, to just not go anywhere else."

TRAVIS: And is that further within?

MATT: "Oh, that originally occurred in that chamber," he points to the northeast, he goes, "But there are two other chambers. They were last seen going the westward chamber," and he points in the western direction. The southeastern, I have not been to."

LAURA: Can I go up to the edge of each one of those and feel, see if I get a little ping?

MATT: Going up to the edge of each, you do not get a ping yet.

LAURA: Fuck.

TRAVIS: And it's northeast, north, and...?

MATT: Northeast, southeast, and west.

LIAM: Zana, that you mentioned is-- she?

MATT: "Zana is a she, yes."

LIAM: Is she an annex?

MATT: "Yeah, I think annex is the word. I am not of the Assembly, but they do hire me on occasion to assist when coming through."

LIAM: Of course. We are the same.

LAURA: I'm going to try for Divine Intervention right now.

LIAM: Ooh. Get it, girl.

MATT: Okay. Go for it. What are you wanting to divine? Or intervene?

LAURA: I want the Traveler-- I'm going to say: Can you help us? Can you help us get what the Tomb Takers are after?

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and roll.

LIAM: Come on, you shifty fuck.

ASHLEY: Come on.

LAURA: No. Fuck.

LIAM: Too shifty.

TALIESIN: That's a good idea.

MATT: He leans in your ear and goes, "I would, if I really had any more idea than you do but I'll keep an eye out."

LAURA: Yeah. Okay.

TALIESIN: I think I'll do the same, see what happens.

MARISHA: Whose god is better?

TALIESIN: No.

LAURA: ♪ Neither! ♪

MATT: The Traveler leans back in your ear and goes, "Like he thought she could do any better."

LAURA: I know, right?

LIAM: I like how he--

TALIESIN: Hey!

MATT: "What?"

TALIESIN: Come on.

MATT: I'm just saying, it's seems bit uncouth to just immediately pray upon her and my capabilities and go, "Well, I'm certain that mine can."

TALIESIN: Oh, if you would've taken care of it, I wouldn't have made a point of it.

LAURA: Oh, that's true.

MATT: "Oh, well. Fine." The gnome is like-- "Um! "Is this also in the Assembly?"

TALIESIN: It's very normal.

LAURA: Yes. Yes. He's very powerful.

MATT: (as the Traveler) "Don't worry about it. (blows)" Blows in his face, his eyes blink and the Traveler vanishes. (as Iver) "Anyway, there is-- I'm going to hide. (chuckles nervously) Just call me if you need anything or if there's danger or you found them, or you're running, or you're dying. Just let me know if something's happening."

TRAVIS: Of course. Likewise, if you see anyone else entering the chamber, use that sturdy intimidating voice of yours, eh?

LAURA: No, don't. Don't. If you see people entering the chamber, just hide, because they will kill you.

MATT: "Who do I, which one, what should I do? There's both two-- they have conflicting."

LIAM: That's two for hide and one for confront.

MATT: "Ah, sorry, hide wins."

SAM: You know what, though? As you hide-- and I'll just pick up some tools off the ground. Here, take these two, you know, tips of axes or whatever, if you're discovered, bang them together and then it'll send a sound and then maybe we'll hear and we'll come back and save you.

MATT: "Right. Scare off things with big noise."

SAM: Sure. Sure. Sure.

MATT: "It works to get the raccoons out of my home growing up."

SAM: Same thing. Yes.

MATT: "All right. I'll hide and prepare."

TALIESIN: I can Commune, if you think it's a good idea.

LIAM: Do you?

SAM: Commune?

TALIESIN: I mean, I can ask.

LAURA: 10 minutes. Do we have time? Oh, wait, no. Don't take it just yet because I have this Locate Object up I'm going to lose it.

TALIESIN: Okay. Let's not.

MARISHA: Yes. Yes. Yes.

TRAVIS: Northeast, southeast, and west. Like a Y. Any favorites?

MARISHA: You didn't get any pings? Well, they went west.

SAM: They went west?

MARISHA: That's the group last went west.

LAURA: And the chamber that you were in, was it a closed chamber and you definitely didn't see any big jewels?

MATT: "I mean, I mainly just stayed here. I briefly stepped into the northeast chamber and I just decided when hearing some of those noises from the other chambers to not go further."

MARISHA: So big baby noises from northeast?

MATT: "Well, I heard the noises coming from this area. So one of the other chambers, but I began to delve into there and decided not to go any further because I--"

MARISHA: And your party went west.

MATT: "Went west, yes."

TRAVIS: And have you messed around with the southeastern chamber at all?

LAURA: No.

MATT: "No. I just stopped going anywhere."

TALIESIN: I mean.

MATT: "Best to stay put, you know."

MARISHA: Should we follow them or pick our on path?

SAM: We should pick three different paths and split up.

MARISHA: Deal.

MATT: "Good plan."

SAM: We'll cover more ground that way.

MATT: (sneezes)

ASHLEY: The one end that you--

MATT: (sneezes)

TRAVIS: Bless you, bless you.

ASHLEY: The one path that you looked in, and then one with the older baby noises, and then the one with the people that disappeared.

MATT: "I don't know which of the chambers the baby noises were coming from. I didn't hear them until I went into the northeast chamber. So it comes from one or the other two. I just decided not to check."

MARISHA: I mean, we could split up, and go just a little bit. And then, like, radio to, like, message to one another.

TRAVIS: Ooh.

LAURA: I don't like it. I don't like it. Let's just try for south.

TRAVIS: Yeah. I think that's true.

LAURA: We'll get a little bit in. If I get a ping, cool. If not, then we will--

MARISHA: Then we'll go back? okay.

SAM: But why South? That's the one that we--

TRAVIS: Haven't.

MARISHA: Haven't been.

LAURA: Whatever. Just pick one.

SAM: Okay, okay, okay. You do you. Wherever you want to go.

MATT: "All right. I'm going to go hide."

LAURA: Okay, bye.

MATT: "Bye," and he runs off into the shadows. You hear the footsteps (tapping).

MARISHA: To the south!

TALIESIN and LAURA: South.

SAM: South it is.

MATT: Southeast. All right. Heading in the southeast direction, you begin to notice as you open through this archway from the chamber you're in, what might've been a cobblestone street at one time. You can see these beautifully laid roadways ahead of you with sidewalks, but they're broken and certain regions are pressed upward five or six feet. Like, you know the end of Ghostbusters where the street begins to break up in different levels? It's like that multiple places across here. You can see fallen-over poles where bulbs that may have contained once arcane light sources have lost their power over time. You can see to the left, and as you glance up as the light emerges and you step into the beginning of this chamber, there is a massive angled stone slab that is currently covering what would have been the open sky of this road. A portion where the rock had fallen, this massive piece of stone that had crushed the left-hand side. So eventually, it comes to a finite wedge and you cannot see what's crushed beneath that side of the ceiling. To the right, you can see numerous buildings. Some still standing mostly, some that have toppled over and fallen, their rooftops and upper chambers and levels now just crumbled debris scattered across the roadway. The architecture itself is odd and beautiful. There is something very serene and reminiscent of some of the finest universities or mage towers you'd seen before, but with elements of odd alien curves at times. The arches have a lot of oval elements to it. There's an essence where, as opposed to the bases being just a blocky set, they tend to gradually hit the floor. Veth, interesting point. There are elements of this structural architecture that you've seen hints of before. Some odd element of Gelidon's lair, the white dragon.

SAM: Oh yeah!

LAURA: Oh wait. I would've seen that, too.

MATT: You would've seen it as well.

MARISHA: Oh.

TRAVIS: Oh, the machines behind the ice.

LAURA: The purple--

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Stuff that was hidden behind the ice wall that looked like--

LIAM: It's a testament to how old his lair was.

MARISHA: And it was cold as fuck.

MATT: You see similar shapes. Everything has a faint curve to it. And even edges and corners, things seem to round off. It's unique, but then much of it is fallen and desolate. You can continue to push forward. For those who are leading the charge, I would ask a perception check, please.

LAURA: Am I getting any kind of pings?

TRAVIS: Definitely got to check for traps.

MATT: Not from the structure.

SAM: I mean, it's a street, right?

LIAM: I'll look. I'm just drinking in every inch of this place.

TALIESIN: I just ran my perception check. So.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: 27.

LIAM: 25.

MATT: 25. Okay. Pressing forward slowly, carefully as the light slowly expands, both yours and the orbs that you've summoned begins to reveal stage by stage the absolute destruction and faint hints of protected echoes of the past, little glimpses of life from long ago. You can see a smashed cart, and long dried, partially petrified elements of fruit. You can see skeletons, broken, and some chewed on and pulled apart. You both can see, about 40, 50 feet ahead, near the interior base of one of these buildings, a very faint blue glow, that catches your eye. It stands out amongst the absolute pitch black darkness that surrounds you beyond the radius of your light.

TRAVIS: 40, 50 feet ahead?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: I'll burn a Divine Sense for celestial, fiend, or undead.

LIAM: Detect Magic is up.

MATT: You sense nothing of that sort, which brings a bit of comfort to you. Detect Magic?

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: You sense-- it's hard to place. It's extremely powerful magic. Extremely powerful. Abjuration is the closest you can think of, but it has an unfamiliar coloration to it. That's the best you can make out.

LIAM: It's completely different than the read I got off the gem that Lucien and his party took?

MATT: Correct.

LIAM: Okay. Something else entirely, but abjuration.

TRAVIS: Also, the penance we needed to pay to get in, right? To the first chamber where Lucien was, that door. Abjuration-based.

LAURA: Oh, right. Right. Right. Right.

TALIESIN: Wow.

LIAM: Oh, the gem for Lucien was for not teleportation, but that.

TALIESIN: It's possible it's not the same thing over and over again. It's possible different materials are required for different parts.

SAM: So this faint glow is from a room or just?

MATT: It's coming from inside a room at the base of one of these buildings that is partially collapsed, but still has a somewhat sound base structure on the bottom of the floor.

TALIESIN: Did it seem like it was once a grand building?

MATT: This one in particular doesn't look like it's any-- not like a special structure. It doesn't appear to be like a centerpiece of this street.

TRAVIS: Before Caleb does his thing, how high is this space?

MATT: From where you're standing now, you have about 35 feet before the slate ceiling. Once again, the angle is pretty steep, so it widens up and you can see the buildings to the right side of this particular open roadway, two, even three-story buildings, for the most part, can fit within this space before it hits another stone wall. To the left, it completely cuts off and crushes what would have been the other side of the street.

TRAVIS: Smooth or broken like the pavement, is the ceiling?

MATT: The ceiling is a broken stone. It's a slab. It looks like a piece of heavy stone that just fell in and leaned and crushed part of it and then left this angled bridge over this.

LIAM: And the light is shining out of a building on our level or higher up?

MATT: On your level.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: You can't quite see the full source. You just see a faint blue glow that's bouncing off the inside walls, near the entrance. You'd have to get closer.

SAM: Let me go check it out.

LIAM: Yeah.

SAM: All right. I'll scuttle ahead.

MATT: Make a stealth check for me.

SAM: See if there's-- Stealth, 25.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: Did you roll with advantage?

SAM: I just did and it's still 25.

MATT: All righty. Moving forward, you glance around the edge. In the inside of this chamber, you see a dome, about 15 or so feet from side to side, the semi-translucent, blue arcane energy that just gives off this faint blue radiance.

SAM: Not like Caleb's dome.

MATT: No. I mean, it's similar in shape, but it has a very different luminescence to it, and you can't quite see through it, though you do see there might be something within, but you'd have to get closer to peer through to even notice.

SAM: And I'm outside the building looking in through like a window or a door?

MATT: An archway that opens into the main chamber.

SAM: All right. Come check it out, everyone. I'll check for traps around the doorway.

MATT: Make an investigation check while the rest of you gather up behind--

SAM: 23.

MATT: -- Veth and see this same thing.

TRAVIS: Does it appear like there are any other entrances to this room, or this is it?

MATT: This is the front entrance. From the glow that this dome is giving off, you can see there would have been, or there is a door on the opposite side of this room, like a double door, but both the doors are broken off the hinges. On the opposite side, you can see clusters of rocks that have filled in that space.

SAM: 23 for traps.

MATT: 23? You do not sense traps.

LIAM: And it's just the ceiling itself of the dome that's giving off this light?

MATT: The entire dome is giving off this light.

LIAM: Right. It's not like a focal point or something that's shining. It's everything.

MATT: No. The actual dome itself, like an arcane semi-sphere that is emanating a strong arcane glow.

LIAM: Writing, language, symbols?

MATT: You don't see anything on it, no.

TRAVIS: Floors?

LIAM: Smooth wall?

MATT: For, I mean, the dome?

LIAM: The dome itself is smooth and nondescript other than it's shining?

MATT: Correct. Though make a perception check.

LIAM: Yeah. 16.

MATT: 16. You can't quite get a decent enough look to see what's within the dome. Like the energy is a little too bright and it's obfuscating what might be within.

SAM: Can I throw something at the dome?

TALIESIN: Back up a bit.

SAM: I mean, is there anyone else in here? Are we-- it's just us, right?

MATT: Right now, it appears that way, yeah.

TALIESIN: Death Ward.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Are there any-- that's a good question. Are there any hidden corners, or does it look like a square or like a rectangle where like if you actually popped our head and we could see our blind?

MATT: From when you can tell from the blue glow that's lighting the interior, it looks like the chamber is mostly rectangular.

TRAVIS: Okay.

LIAM: It's just like Pompeii.

TRAVIS: We just can't see on the other side. How tall is the dome? 15 feet from side to side, but.

MATT: Side to side 15 feet. Semi-sphere, probably about 10 feet tall.

TRAVIS: It's a big dome.

SAM: So, I mean, like, dozens and dozens of people have been through here.

LAURA: And this thing is still up.

SAM: Yeah. So either it's super duper trapped, or we can just walk right in it and there's nothing in there.

TRAVIS: No ping from you, right?

LAURA: No ping. So we're not where a threshold crest is.

TRAVIS: We might not even need this. Is the floor the same as it is outside of the archway, for the interior of the room?

MATT: The cobblestone paving seems to end on the inside. It looks like it was once probably a smooth wood, but most of it is broken and splintered and begin to warp and curl. And other elements are just broken stone and elements that have either fallen inward from the destruction on the outside street or small elements of the structure that have fallen in. But for the most part, it's intact.

MARISHA: Old protection magic, essentially?

LIAM: I'm just going to take a knee and apparate Frumpkin. Take a circle around, go to the center, around the edges, please.

TALIESIN: Backing up a bit.

MATT: Frumpkin does a perimeter around it.

LIAM: Go to the center.

SAM: Go into it?

MATT: Into it?

LIAM: To the center of the room.

MATT: Okay. Frumpkin goes to the center of the chamber. The dome is a little bit to the left side of it.

LIAM: Okay. Oh, then I steer him underneath the dome.

MATT: Frumpkin (thuds) hits the dome. It's solid.

LIAM: Solid.

SAM: Can we dispel it?

LIAM: Yeah, maybe.

LAURA: The wooden floor around it. It goes straight into the wooden floor?

MATT: Yeah. It meets the ground. There's no gap.

TALIESIN: Probably is a sphere.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: Can Frumpkin knock? Maybe there's someone in there.

LIAM: Yeah. He can give it his paw a couple of times. (knocking)

MATT: It doesn't seem to make any sound. But as Frumpkin hits it with the claw you see the areas where the claws touch it, there's a little bit of a very faint increase in luminosity in just the one spot for a brief moment. So it's reacting, but nothing more than that. Caduceus and Beauregard.

SAM: Uh-oh.

MATT: Your passive perception is high enough that as you begin to focus more on this centerpiece you can see shapes within the dome. Faintly. Like shadows of something that is mostly obscured by the arcane energy. While Caleb's been very focused on the energy itself, you look beyond it and focus and you can see the shadows of three humanoid shapes.

TALIESIN: There are people in there?

MARISHA: Someone's home.

SAM: Moving?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: No.

TRAVIS: Moving or still?

MARISHA: Moving, right?

MATT: Still.

MARISHA: Still?

TALIESIN: Three, three, three people.

LIAM: Absolutely stock still?

MATT: As they see this, you look up, and now that you're closer you once again shift your focus from the energy to the interior and you can see now on the opposite side it looks like three figures. Two elven, one human. You can't make out their features definitively, but they're wearing strange robes and they look like they're running, but they are locked and frozen. Their faces open and aghast, just--

TRAVIS: In the sphere.

MATT: In the sphere.

LIAM: This is Pompeii.

LAURA: Frozen in time.

MARISHA: Yeah. It's totally Pompeii. So they're dead, and, what, their protective magic lasted this whole time?

LIAM: I place my hand on the dome.

MATT: You can feel the resistance. It's like touching a wall, but it has a slight tingle, like licking a nine volt battery, but all across your hand and fingertips.

LIAM: I'm going to cast Dispel Magic at level five.

MATT: Okay. You concentrate, focusing on the unraveling of the very basis of arcane equations and you release. Nothing.

LAURA: Wow. I mean, probably some real high ups tried to dispel this, too, you know?

TRAVIS: Can-- I'll follow him into the room. Anything in the corners, on the ceiling, any sort of-- make our way around the other side that was hidden by the sheer size of the dome-- anything on the far side that's...?

MATT: The far side, you can see the archway with the door thrown off the hinges. You do see a hole in the ceiling where it looks like there's an additional chamber above, but you can't see much beyond the fact that it does continue upward. Around you, you can see furniture that's been destroyed and fallen over. And you do see signs of it being ransacked. You can see one of the-- it would have been a really nice white wood, polished, almost cabinetry that has been turned over, pulled open. The wood is splintered from the hinges. And you can see elements of long shattered china and small implements, utilities that have been mostly taken and scattered.

TRAVIS: These elves, does their garb look modern, knowing the different places we've been from, or is it very, very old?

MATT: You've never seen attire like this.

TALIESIN: I have a terrible idea.

LAURA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: She's got a sword.

ASHLEY: I was thinking that, but I don't know if it's--

TRAVIS: I think it's a low--

ASHLEY: It's pretty low, but I could try it.

TALIESIN: If it's low, then it's not worth it. We've already hit it. We've already hit it hard.

ASHLEY: 3rd-level or lower, the target ends, but if it's--

TRAVIS: And he did 5th-level.

ASHLEY: -- 4th-level or higher, I have to make an ability check.

LAURA: Oh, okay.

ASHLEY: I could try it.

SAM: But in any case, it seems like they've been frozen in time at the moment of their demise. So, like, either this was a result of them protecting themselves or trying to-- or a result of the explosion that sundered this part of the town away from the rest of it.

MARISHA: Or there's something about them and one of the mages that's been through here put some sort of lock and key on it. There's some sort of--

LAURA: Oh, that's true. They could be locked away by somebody doing the excavation.

MARISHA: Something that could harbor some sort of importance. We don't know.

LAURA: Can we still see the entrance for the main area from here?

MATT: It's a little ways back, but you can go back and glance outward if you'd like. There is no light source in that direction. So as soon as you step out, it's just darkness. You're relying on the two of them to get any sort of good view.

TALIESIN: Caleb, can you can you move a light up to that--

LIAM: Of course.

TALIESIN: -- that door up there?

LIAM: I spiral one up, slowly.

MATT: Okay. Looks like there's another chamber above.

TRAVIS: 30 feet, you said?

MATT: About 25, 30 feet.

TALIESIN: How far can you throw a cat?

TRAVIS: Yasha probably pretty far.

ASHLEY: I mean, definitely.

LAURA: Can you keep one of the globules of light at the doorway, Caleb? So we can see if anybody is coming behind us?

LIAM: Yes.

LAURA: I'm just worried the Tomb Takers are going to catch up.

ASHLEY: Do you want me to try it?

LAURA: Do it.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: (meows) You going to chuck?

ASHLEY: (whoosh)

MATT: (surprised cat noise)

MARISHA: Oh wait, are you throwing the cat-- I think she was using the sword? Or were you throwing the cat?

LAURA: Oh, I thought you were throwing the cat.

SAM: Cut the cat in half!

ASHLEY: Sorry.

TALIESIN: Dispelled the cat.

MATT: So what are you doing?

ASHLEY: I was going to do the sword.

MATT: Oh okay, up to you. I misunderstood.

ASHLEY: No, no, no. Yeah, I'm going to take out the sword and try to Dispel Magic with the sword.

MATT: Okay, and you pull the sword out. Ready-- it's up to you guys.

LAURA: Back up.

MATT: Back up a bit. Close your eyes, focus. One mighty swipe down, the blade hits, and you can see the impact, the shell itself, the arcane energy alights around where the blade hits. There's a slight faint wave of dispelling energy, a familiar unraveling net, that fades when you pull the blade back. No effect.

LIAM: Yasha Nydoorin, will you throw my cat?

ASHLEY: Gladly. Give me-- give me your cat.

TRAVIS: Egg throws?

MARISHA: Now we're tossing.

LIAM: One, two, a three.

LAURA: (grunts)

MATT: You hear the faint landing above. Or you wouldn't hear, it's a cat. But nevertheless, Frumpkin is above.

LIAM: Okay, I place my hand on Yasha's shoulder and go into Frumpkin vision.

MATT: This chamber you can see a large part of the beams, the structural beams above it have fallen at different angles and a lot of this chamber itself is partially collapsed and definitely not leaving a lot of space to go around. Make a perception check.

LIAM: Fucking cat. Come on, you motherfucker. 12.

MATT: Glancing around... you don't see much. You just see the rubble. You see the--

SAM: All right, Yasha, throw me up there.

LAURA: Can I have said in this time that we're all standing around and doing this, can I have been casting Commune?

MATT: Sure.

TALIESIN: It's only a minute.

LAURA: With the Traveler? It only takes a minute?

TALIESIN: It only takes a minute, yeah.

LAURA: Okay, yeah, I was thinking it took--

MATT: Which, by the way, your--

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: That has faded, by the way.

LAURA: Yeah, I figured.

MATT: Yes, you may.

LAURA: Okay I'm going to... Hi!

MATT: (as Artagan) "Hello."

LAURA: So, can you, like, you know, move around here really fast and let me know, like, which direction the crest would be? Like, if I say: is it over there, can you say yes or what?

MATT: "Probably, to an extent. I mean, there is strange magic about, but what is it you want to know?"

LAURA: I mean, are we in the right area for what the Tomb Takers are looking for?

MATT: "Yes and no?"

TRAVIS: (laughs)

LAURA: That's not very helpful.

MATT: "I'm-- no, I'm sorry, but you have to ask the right questions."

LAURA: This is stupid. Do we need-- oh, god, there's so many questions I could ask you right now.

MATT: "I could have so many answers."

LAURA: Do we need what's inside of this blue dome?

MATT: "Probably not. It's been there for quite some time and the poor things are just locked in those final moments. More of a relic of history."

LAURA: Okay, threshold crest.

MATT: "Mmm. I happen to have a history."

MARISHA: (laughs)

LAURA: To the west?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: "Probably, I mean, the tunnels seem to go deepest there."

MARISHA: Deepest there.

LAURA: All right. Thank you so much for all of your guidance.

MATT: "Well, thank you for requesting it."

MARISHA: -- threshold crest.

LAURA: He says we should head to the west.

MATT: "Indeed I do."

LAURA: Go deeper.

TRAVIS: That fucking guy.

SAM: Cool cool cool.

TRAVIS: Should we try throwing Veth up into the compartment?

SAM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

SAM: Just toss me up quick. (screams)

MATT: Roll a strength check.

LAURA: Can I help? Maybe we can assist and do a--

MATT: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TRAVIS: Basket toss.

MATT: Yep.

TRAVIS: Form a square.

ASHLEY: Well, that's a natural 19, so then...

LAURA: Try for 20, try for the 20.

ASHLEY: Try for 20.

TRAVIS: Pow.

ASHLEY: That's a 19 again.

LIAM: Double guns.

MATT: You emerge and step down on the inside. Even with the collapsed upper chamber because of your halfling stature, you can get around here pretty easily.

SAM: I'll just look for anything interesting.

MATT: Roll an investigation check.

TRAVIS: Goggles activated.

ASHLEY: Be careful.

TALIESIN: Thank you. I was-- yeah.

TRAVIS: Be careful!

SAM: 23 as always.

MATT: 23, okay. Looking through, you can find, I mean, most of this you can tell a lot of this has been picked clean. You know, you're not the first to come here. This isn't a fresh dungeon to be delved. This is a place that has been thoroughly looted by multiple sources and multiple interests. But you do find a buried and largely forgotten, small metallic box that is currently wedged under a part of a collapsed wall on the side. It might take a little bit of tugging to pull it away from its current hiding spot, but it can be done.

SAM: I'll get out the dagger and start sort of pulling, wrenching it out.

MATT: Sure.

SAM: First, I'll check for traps.

MATT: Go for it, make an investigation check.

SAM: 25.

MATT: No traps.

SAM: (creaking sounds)

TRAVIS: I don't like the way Marisha's looking.

MATT: Make a strength check.

SAM: Strength?

MATT: This is to wedge it free.

LAURA: I know.

SAM: 12.

MATT: 12?

SAM: Uh-huh.

MATT: That's-- it takes you a moment, but you do manage to pull it out. You fall onto your ass for a second and you guys hear the (low thump).

ASHLEY: Wait, wait, what's happening?

SAM: It's fine. Everything's fine.

LAURA: What did you find?

SAM: It's fine, I'm alive.

MATT: You sit back up and you look at it and as you do the lid flips open. And it's about that big. And looking inside, you can see there's a strange device. It's like four triangles. All placed together. And it's metallic with intricate--

LAURA: Like this?

MATT: -- designs and scrolling. Yeah, like a d4, if you will. But it has like glyphs on it. And it looks like sliding discs. It looks like an odd magical device.

SAM: I will pocket it. And if-- is Frumpkin still up here?

MATT: Frumpkin's up here.

SAM: I'll grab Frumpkin.

LIAM: (trills)

SAM: And I will-- if I jump through down through the hole, can I like slide down the dome to get down?

MATT: You can try and angle for it, if you want to. Roll an acrobatics check for me.

SAM: 19 plus 10.

MATT: You-- this is an odd shot and by all accounts should not work. But you do the math in your head. You back up a little bit and you do like a super fast low leap. So you come in at a fast side angle. And as you do, you glance off the top of the dome and slide down the other side. It doesn't do damage, but your tailbone is going to suck in the morning. But you guys watch as, unexpectedly, Veth just (impacting) off to the other side. The momentum causes you to tumble and you roll over your shoulder and stand up. And you're like, "Ha! (groans)"

TRAVIS: Veth, that was incredible.

TALIESIN: That was amazing.

TRAVIS: Did that hurt?

SAM: Yes, a lot, a lot. I found a cat and a box.

TRAVIS: And a box?

SAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: What's in the box? What's in the box?

SAM: I don't know, I feel like there's some experiment we could do with a cat and a box. I don't know what--

LIAM: Is it in there or is it?

SAM: But I don't know what. Here take the box, too.

LIAM: Okay.

SAM: Identify it.

LIAM: All right, I'll talk to you later. (poofs)

MARISHA: (yelps)

LIAM: Do we have 10 minutes?

SAM: Maybe. Oh, you need to be still while you do this, right?

TRAVIS: Yes, we do.

ASHLEY: Can I carry you while you're doing that?

LIAM: No, I would feel so awkward.

MARISHA: Oh, that'd be cute. What if we, like, I could put you on one shoulder and Yasha could be on the other like a palanquin?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: But made of people.

LIAM: I will try anything once.

LAURA: Yeah, let's try it.

ASHLEY: Okay, we're going west. We'll hold you. You do your thing. Let's go.

MARISHA: Okay, ready? One, two, three (grunts).

LIAM: I begin ritual casting Identify.

MATT: This is the strangest crowd surf that anyone's done. Okay, are you guys, are you heading deeper or are you heading back?

LAURA: We're heading west deep, like where the Traveler said.

MATT: Okay, cool. So be heading back to where you started then heading west.

TRAVIS: Towards the-- yeah, the junction.

MATT: Okay, along the way, you ritual cast Identify which takes ten minutes, you said?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Okay, so it'll take you a little while.

LIAM: ♪ In the arms-- ♪ So walking back--

LIAM: ♪ -- of the angels. ♪ (laughter)

MATT: Head back in and head westward. So heading into the western chamber, you see a shattered, once magically sealed door that leads into this next area that now lies fallen. It is like tumbled forward and left not quite as broken as the doors you saw on the chamber where the dome was set, but it looks like it was pulled off of its mooring and left to tumble forward. Beyond that, you can see a long corridor that has visible structural damage even at this initial glance inward. Not unlike the chamber, the long corridor that you guys had eventually climbed to in the previous excavation. But there are differences. This one is wider. Previous one was almost single file. This one is about 15 feet wide.

LAURA: Oh, wow.

MATT: But has a similar feel to it, similar design. It is smooth and almost metallic, but you can see elements and panels have fallen. You can see there were structural beams above it that were pushed in from some sort of heavy impact that now punch through. You can see shredded elements of materials that were above that now dangle loose into the space for you to walk through. But that is the path ahead.

TALIESIN: Does it look like someone has trounced through here in the last couple days? Are there, like-- is the--

MATT: Make a perception or investigation check.

TALIESIN: 18.

MATT: 18? Yeah, it does. It looks like there's been some recent-ish foot traffic. It's hard to tell how long it's been, but you can see there has been travel in and out.

TALIESIN: Oh, all right.

LAURA: Does it look you know, like normal people tracks or does it look like monster tracks?

MATT: This looks like normal people tracks.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: I don't know what Nonagoni would look like, but okay, yeah, there's been some people through here relatively recently, I guess.

MARISHA: This one person has nine feet.

TALIESIN: Oh god, they're here.

SAM: It was just a corridor, have we--?

MATT: It's just a corridor ahead of you, a long corridor.

SAM: Keep on going.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: How you doing there, wizard?

LIAM: Shush.

MARISHA: Okay, fine.

SAM: He's doing a Shadow Clone Jutsu right now, hold on.

LIAM: ♪ (high-pitched tones) ♪

MATT: All right, continuing onward. You push further lowering him from some of the fallen regions of this long, long hallway where you can see beams-- braces have been built and placed up in here you can see, more recent construction, though not, you know, of the highest quality, enough to try and put brace beams to keep elements of this hallway from collapsing for those who are excavating their way further into these ruins. 30, 50, 100. 120 feet, the hallway begins to turn. And you follow it at that side angle.

MARISHA: Turn left or turn right, turn north?

MATT: It would be to the right.

MARISHA: North?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: It would be, yeah.

LIAM: Ja, north.

MARISHA: North?

MATT: You can see there's like heavy elements of almost like a rubbery rope dangling from some of these open broken areas that push past you that give this odd, almost like a skin touch against your shoulders as they shift to the side like heavy cables.

LAURA: Does it seem organic or does it seem like--?

MATT: You can make an investigation check, if you'd like.

LAURA: Yeah. 15, which is pretty good for me on investigation.

MATT: You look at it. It is flexible, it does not appear organic, necessarily, though the texture does have some similarities in its flexibility and the smoother sensation of the outside texture. It does appear to be hollow on the inside. That's the best you can make out about it.

LAURA: Weird.

SAM: That's tubes.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Tubes?

MATT: Just severed dangling tubes.

SAM: I'm sure it's nothin'.

TALIESIN: Tubes?

MATT: Continuing onward, and we'll say for the purposes of timeliness at this point, you have completed your ritual.

LIAM: My Rubik's Cube.

MATT: Indeed. This is called an Intuit Charge. You can find it on D&D Beyond if you'd like to add it to your inventory and read what it is and what it does.

SAM: Intuit Charge.

TALIESIN: If you're into it.

SAM: Oh boy.

TALIESIN: I mean, you were thinking it.

LIAM: It's like a debit card service.

SAM: I was actually thinking of a QuickBooks joke.

TALIESIN: Oh, well.

SAM: Yours is much better.

TALIESIN: I feel like I saved you there.

SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Like "into it" or like "intuit"?

MATT: Intuit like intuition, intuitive.

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: Very rare.

TALIESIN: ♪ Tell me more, tell me more. ♪

MATT: This area is littered now with clusters of these thick cables and elements of the hallway that have nearly entirely collapsed. Except you can see now more of these makeshift braces have been placed up to give areas where normally this 15-foot wide hallway becomes a small bit of single file advancement. You have to squeeze through and at some points almost crawl to continue and as that opens up you come to a door. A heavy metallic door that looks like it's also partially off its mooring and hinges and is just wedged preventing further passage.

SAM and TRAVIS: Wedged preventing--

MARISHA: Stuck door. Stuck door?

SAM: And wedged by people or--?

TRAVIS: That doesn't seem like something that would stop us.

LAURA: If we touch the door what does it feel like?

MATT: A cold metal door.

TRAVIS: Yasha?

LAURA: Oh, well, okay, yes.

LAURA: What were you going to say?

LAURA: I was going to say I could try my paints but we can try to move it with strength first.

SAM: Smart.

LAURA: This might-- does it look like it's supporting the ceiling at all, the door?

MATT: Make an investigation check to check out.

LAURA: Oh, even better, 17!

MATT: It does not look like it is supporting, the door isn't, from what you can tell, at least.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: The frame that it's in probably is more of the structural element, I'm sure the door would help, but you do not-- you do not see, based on the slight angle that it's at, like it's currently bearing a lot of weight.

LAURA: Okay.

ASHLEY: Try to give it a go.

LAURA: Should we try it together?

ASHLEY: Yeah, let's try together.

TRAVIS: Smash sisters go for it.

ASHLEY: Come on.

MATT: Okay, so either you both roll independently or one of you rolls with advantage.

ASHLEY: Let's go, let's both roll.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: Go for it.

LAURA: That's cocked.

ASHLEY: 23.

LAURA: Ooh!

LAURA: This is strength?

MATT: Yeah, just add your strength modifier.

LAURA: 26.

LIAM: Muscles flex.

MATT: What's your modifier?

LAURA: Oh wait--

MATT: Not saving throw.

LAURA: Yeah, my modifier is plus three.

MATT: Oh, so you rolled a 23?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: On a d20?

LAURA: I Guided myself.

MATT: Oh, gotcha.

LAURA: I rolled 19 plus four.

MATT: Gotcha, okay I was like, the math is breaking my brain here.

LAURA: Guidanced.

MATT: Okay, cool.

LAURA: That's-- when I do this that means I Guided myself, but I didn't say it out loud.

MATT: No worries, but now I know this isn't, "Bless your heart." This is Guidance, got it.

TRAVIS: Dumbledore when he casts.

MATT: Yeah. Okay, between the two of you pulling on the door, you begin to tug back and you can see there are heavy metallic chains and cables along the top that it's attached to. And you realize at this point, it's not so much pulling it out of the way, it's trying to re-align it. And with your strength, you shift it back into its space and as it does you hear (rumbling, chains moving) And the wall begins to lift itself up. The door is pulled up--

ASHLEY: That's such a cool noise.

MATT: -- into a ceiling chamber--

MARISHA: Amazing.

MATT: -- and reveals an open room before you.

TALIESIN: Boy, you get trapped in there if things go wrong.

MARISHA: Fuck you, door.

LAURA: Hey, we took out the door.

TRAVIS: A perception check into the new room that just opened up.

LIAM: You think you're fucking with Vox Machina? Fuck off.

MARISHA: Who do you think we are? You think this is campaign one? Fuck you. (laughter)

LIAM: Fuck your doors.

MATT: Beyond the door, as the light begins to spill in, you glance into a comparatively preserved lightless space. You can see elements of a chamber. The furniture has been tossed around, but the floor is not as broken or shattered as previous areas you've been in. It is a fairly solid stone marble or concrete smooth floor with some texture that leads into a minor series of steps that lead into a central, raised platform, maybe 20 feet by 20 feet. But the chamber continues on beyond that. You'd have to send the light source further in to see more of the chamber. But what you do see, as the light trickles in, beyond the fallen tables and scattered broken implements or tools, you can see large pieces of glass, large rounded, jagged parts of broken glass containers or sculptures, something. They are a bit thrown about the floor ahead of you.

SAM: Those tubes, are they hanging?

LAURA: We've seen broken glass before, you guys, in the Happy Fun Ball and it wasn't-- it didn't end well. There were creatures in the glass.

SAM: I don't remember that at all.

TALIESIN: Oh, wow, I do.

LAURA: Well, this could be the same thing, Halas was in the same time.

TALIESIN: Is it giving the vibe? I feel like it's giving the vibe.

MATT: You can see some similarity.

TALIESIN: Yeah, it's giving the vibe.

SAM: Are there those tubes from the ceiling again?

MARISHA: Yeah, same question. The tubes, the dangling tubes.

MATT: Yeah, from the hallway?

MARISHA: Yeah, are they in here?

MATT: As you step inward, and if you'd like to make a perception check to pick out more detail for those who want to. You can see there are dark alcoves to the right and left. And then another set of wider alcoves beyond that. You cannot still see the opposite ends as you can have slowly stepping into the chamber inspecting around. What'd you roll?

TALIESIN: 22.

MATT: 22, Anybody else roll for that? Just you, all right. You glance up and along the ceiling. You see there is a raised central area about 30 or so feet up. There is a recess in which there are numerous glass structures held aloft. You see blue and green spherical or cylindrical glass tubes that are affixed, though it looks like whatever sort of order they were originally placed in, they've been jostled and shifted out of their current setting. You can see elements of them are broken. And on the top platform, you can see where other elements that may have been held up there have fallen and broken and led to the glass shatter across the ground ahead of you. You can see more of these tubes connecting between them and heading further and deeper beyond sight into the ceiling above them. This definitely has some sort of laboratory vibe, but it's of a different a different flavor of design and presentation than what you encountered in the Happy Fun Ball.

TALIESIN: I don't like it.

MATT: The actual structure in the inside of here, much like the semi-organic and clean feel as to the buildings that you saw on the street has very, very fine craftsmanship, but it's, the design aesthetic is very-- I have no other way to describe it than crisp and clean. A lot of geometric angles and a lot of long lines. It has an almost, I fear to use the term because I don't want to misrepresent it, but it has a little more of a sci-fi feel than what you've been used to encountering in this campaign. But for the players' mind's eye, that will help best to describe what you're encountering.

TALIESIN: Very fine tools were used to make this.

TRAVIS: The other party came this way. Have we looked for tracks on the floor, dust disturbed?

LAURA: Not since we opened the door.

TRAVIS: Yeah, is it undisturbed in here?

MATT: Go ahead and make a perception check.

TALIESIN: I'll join you in that.

TRAVIS: 17.

MATT: 17.

TALIESIN: 24.

MATT: 24. Indeed, there have been footprints, and at this point now, as you're looking through and the smell begins to hit you, there is a very faint, chemical, burning smell, to the point where like at certain points your nostrils, the inside seems to almost open your sinuses from the inhale. And there is a dark liquid now that you can see on the upper platform that has congealed over time, like a dark black liquid that has--

SAM: The smell, do I recognize it chemically?

MATT: Make an intelligence check.

MARISHA: Come on.

SAM: 13.

MATT: 13. It's not the same smell that you had with the black puddings previously, but it does have definitely a caustic nature to it. You do see some platforms on top beyond just the shattered stuff, as you begin to push inward. They're like raised podiums of stone that have their own designs on top of them. And from what you guys are looking, you do see some writing on the walls and the top of these platforms.

TALIESIN: Caleb.

LIAM: Yeah?

MATT: In fact, you see some writing on some fallen plaques. This is the first sign you've seen of any sort of language.

MARISHA: Hmm.

TALIESIN: Does this looks familiar?

LIAM: Yeah, I cast Comprehend Language.

MATT: Okay. As you're-- how long does it take to cast?

LIAM: A min-- uh. (thinking noises)

TALIESIN: Trying to keep an eye on the other side of the door, too. If that thing, if anything, any sound comes from the other chamber, if that door just starts to squeak, I want to know about it.

LIAM: It's an action.

MATT: It's an action? Okay, easy enough. You glance over and you see inked across a damaged wall as you step further in and you begin to be barely able to see some of the light bouncing on the opposite end of this chamber. So there's the smaller alcoves to the immediate right and left as you enter. There is the larger, more rounded alcoves in the center of this chamber to the right and left and there's the raised platform in the center, and the glass is scattered all among it, and there are these two smaller podium-like daises that rise up on top of that. Beyond that, you can see an additional alcove across the way. And these large metal cages or containment structures on that opposite end. And there are two walls that face that side, like metal walls.

LAURA: And we don't hear anything outside of us.

MATT: Currently, no, it's just quiet.

TALIESIN: I don't like this.

MATT: You see, across the wall, as you focus in on a damaged aspect of it where some of the stone has fallen. You see a sign on it that is partially hanging, that reads: Development Laboratory Procedures.

MARISHA: Development Laboratory Procedures.

MATT: You do see, off to the side, that one of these fallen signs that is broken and shattered but the part of the language is legible, it reads: Primordial Applications. You can see now there is a sign of writing above one of those metal walls off to the front and left of that far alcove that reads: Biological Weapons Research.

SAM: Oh my god.

MATT: And upon the top of one of these raised podium-like things, you could see all sort of like symbols and glyphs. And there are two marble, circular buttons that sit on top, like palm-sized glyphs that are put into these circular, raised bits of stone and the text on there says: Emergency Flush.

LIAM: Flesh or flush?

MATT: Emergency flush.

TALIESIN: Ooh. Hmm.

LAURA: That's a good thing if there's a monster in here, though.

TALIESIN: Or that's the thing that closes the doors and fills it with liquid.

LAURA: Probably, yeah.

LIAM: Nothing in here is aglow, right? It's all dark?

MATT: From what you can tell.

TALIESIN: What's the other button say?

LAURA: Do we have to Detect Magic?

MATT: The other button has no text on it.

MARISHA: And this all looks pretty ransacked?

MATT: From what you can tell, it looks like it's been partially ransacked. You can make a more thorough investigation, if you'd like.

MARISHA: Sure.

MATT: Make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: Is there another door on the other side of this chamber, or we haven't gotten there yet?

MATT: You don't see another door, you see there's the alcoves and the metal walls. There is that sign where it's running that says Biological Weapons Research is above the metal wall and the cross and left hand side, like an angled.

LIAM: That is such a strange word to him, to us.

MATT: Yeah, like a lot of this is not quite clicking. It feels strange and you don't really have anything to understand and connect it to.

MARISHA: 26.

MATT: 26. A lot of this has been looked through, a lot of this has been combed through. But you can see the central platform where those podiums are and where that black liquid that is settled and congealed on parts of it are, there's only a few footprints, it looks like people tended to avoid that central platform, but people have walked up there.

TRAVIS: And this is probably dumb, there's no sort of like switches near the entrance that we came in, anything could be flipped or pushed.

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: 21.

MATT: 21.

TRAVIS: These are good rolls.

MATT: Looking around the sides, not really. There's a lot of damage visible on the outsides of where the door's frame is, but the frame itself is a very thick metal and it looks like it's holding up the majority of the structure on this side. You can see heavy cracks that run through both sides of the wall. You don't see any signs of a lever.

TRAVIS: We don't even know what sort of power source this sort of laboratory would run on. Should we keep going, should we check the podium in the middle?

LIAM: No, one moment. I cast Detect Magic in here to see if anything feels active.

MATT: Of the chamber, there is very faint magical residue on some of these shattered glass pieces. When I say shattered, there are small pieces and there are large jagged sections that are resting on the side. Very faint magical residue, as well as that dark congealed liquid. There are two stronger magical sources emanating from those two raised stones with the glyphs on them, on that central podium.

LIAM: And what's the read on those, as far as school? If there is one?

MATT: This is less of a school of magic, they are not a spell, they are not a sigil that contains an effect. It looks like they are just connective.

ASHLEY: What's written on that part?

LIAM: The two that are glowing, were there words connected to those or no, those are just unintelligible.

MATT: There are words, they're unintelligible.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: There is one phrase on it that says Emergency Flush.

LIAM: Right.

MATT: And that is on the top end of it. And there are those two stones.

LAURA: I'm going to cast Locate Object again.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Searching for the crest.

MATT: You sense a faint draw, if you're facing deeper into the chamber, to the front and left hand side.

LAURA: We should go that way.

MARISHA: Towards that darkish corridor that we haven't looked towards, that way?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: Are there drains in the floor?

MATT: And as Jester points over that direction that's in the direction of where that scrawling on the wall reads Biological Weapons Research.

SAM: Biological Weapons. This place is evil, man!

MARISHA: Yeah, this place is terrifying.

TALIESIN: I kind of want to leave this room and push one of the buttons. But not in this room.

LIAM: I think I feel a little pressed for time.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LIAM: Yeah, I feel like we should push beyond this.

LAURA: Yeah, I agree.

MARISHA: Let's see what we can find--

TALIESIN: What direction we need to go.

LAURA: We can get rid of that crest. I want to try to destroy it before Lucien gets here.

SAM: Yeah, that's true, that's true. We should press on.

LIAM: Okay.

SAM: Yeah, I guess I'll go forward and.

LIAM: I'll go side by side with you with the globules just to read--

LAURA: Try to move a bit stealthily for fear that giant baby cries will find us.

SAM: Sure.

MATT: Okay, roll a stealth check.

SAM: Stealth check.

LAURA: I can cast--

SAM: 30.

MATT: 30, nice.

LAURA: Wow.

TALIESIN: Crying adult.

SAM: Why couldn't the sign have just said, like, Flubber, or something cute on it?

TRAVIS: Flubber.

SAM: I don't know.

TALIESIN: Where's an emergency exit when you need one? Bathroom?

SAM: Yeah!

LIAM: You and I have been wondering about this for a long time.

TRAVIS: Uh-huh.

SAM: Yeah, so I'm stealthing over towards the door. Is it a doorway that leads out of here or just a hallway?

MATT: No, no, the chamber is closed off. There is no exit. What you do see are the two metallic walls on the opposite end. One of which has a cage structure in front of it and the other is the one that has the sign Biological Weapons Research above.

SAM: And your ping was through the biological wall?

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: But it's just a metal wall.

MATT: Just a metal wall.

SAM: Can I search around the corners to see if it slides or raises?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

SAM: 24.

MATT: 24. It does look like it would slide upward. You see a seam above, though the framing is different, it looks similar to the door that you entered from. So it looks like it would have a similar raised system.

SAM: Ladies, we got another garage door.

LAURA: Just lift it.

ASHLEY: Try to lift it.

MATT: Okay, both of you? Roll strength checks.

SAM: Ah, I'll just check around for traps, just in case. 23.

MATT: 23. Does not appear to be trapped.

SAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: I'm going to give you a d4.

ASHLEY: Great.

SAM: I'm going to stand back.

ASHLEY: Oof.

TALIESIN: Plus a d4.

LAURA: 21 for me.

MATT: 21?

ASHLEY: 15.

MATT: 15. You both pull underneath. It's hard to get a grip, but there is some of the metal rim that you can go ahead and get your fingers beneath and one, two, three with all your might you pull, the muscles bulge the veins pop. It's not budging.

LAURA: I'm going to pull out my paints. I'm going to paint a little hole in it so I can peek through the door.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: You go ahead and paint. It's normal paint.

MARISHA: Oh shit. It's not going to work here.

LAURA: Fuck! I don't like this place.

SAM: Just wait, what is-- Does everything not work down here, or it's just the paint?

MARISHA: Might just be more powerful magic than the paint is.

TRAVIS: I try and make myself look like Veth.

MATT: Okay, you like Veth.

TRAVIS: All right, we're good.

SAM: Okay, okay, okay.

ASHLEY: So there was the emergency flush area.

SAM: I make myself look like Fjord.

ASHLEY: You said there's two buttons there?

MATT: Correct, there's one to the front and one in the back. The top one has the Emergency Flush on that one. The second one doesn't have any additional scrolling on it.

MARISHA: Does it look like there are-- hang on a second. I'm going to dart to the other corridors. Do they all have the same lock shut tight doors off of this corridor, chamber?

MATT: The very first door that was already fallen forward and off the side looks like it was a similar structure to the one that you've just moved through and the one they're trying to lift. So there is a consistency in the design.

MARISHA: And then there was another offshoot, right, on the opposite side of this chamber?

TALIESIN: No, that's the main chamber.

TRAVIS: Just alcoves.

MATT: Yeah, there's just alcoves, just these central parts of the laboratory where you can see there are shelves that have tumbled forward or been turned over that are empty.

LAURA: I wonder if the emergency flush button was already pushed.

MARISHA: I think that's exactly what it is.

LAURA: So we have to hit the other one or hit it again and make the doors rise up?

MARISHA: I don't know.

LAURA: I'm going to burn a 5th-level slot and cast Telekinesis to try to lift the door.

MATT: Okay, go ahead.

LIAM: 1,000 pounds of weight. I mean, there's nothing to do. It's not being held by anything. So it's just the weight is too much or not.

MATT: All right. Go ahead and roll a d20 and add the strength modifier of-- Well, it's a 1,000 pounds of weight?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: It's too heavy.

MARISHA: Okay, let's push some buttons.

SAM: Figure out some buttons.

LAURA: That was intense.

TRAVIS: Should we clear out of the room and have a hand press the other one, the opposite of flush.

TALIESIN: I think perhaps that would be a good idea.

LAURA: Yeah, we'll back up.

MATT: The metal door that you guys managed to function- it's not so much that you lifted it, but because you managed to wedge it back into its slot and it pulled itself back up. Yeah, it should not have been-- you would not have been able to lift that door.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: But it was basically knocked off its track.

TRAVIS: I run over and I kick the door that Caleb tried to pull up with-- I kick the shit out of it.

MATT: You do so, well done.

SAM: Break four toes.

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TRAVIS: I've got it back in place. Whatever happens next. (laughter)

SAM: All right, so back up and I'll push the button? What button am I pushing?

MARISHA: I guess let's start with the emergency flush.

TALIESIN: I feel like the other button.

LAURA: The other button, I think the other button.

TALIESIN: I think the emergency flush is what happened here and filled it with acid.

MARISHA: But if it's already down, is it like a light switch? We don't know.

TRAVIS: Did we see any drains in the floor?

ASHLEY: The door that we moved in place was already--

LAURA: Up.

ASHLEY: Was already up. So we just put it in the thing and then it went up so that button was already--

TRAVIS: It was down and wedged out. And then we pushed it in and it went.

LIAM: It was just slightly off of its groove.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: But it raised up.

ASHLEY: But it raised up as soon as it pushed it in. So I think something was already--

TALIESIN: Holes in the ceiling?

TRAVIS: Fuck, this is hard.

MATT: It's a little high up to see specifically, you do see all the glass elements up there and cables and wire that are connecting them. You do look and there are portions of the ground where you looking down you can see there are holes so there are there is some sort of a drain, a drainage feature built into the floors.

TRAVIS: At least we're on the bottom.

TALIESIN: Caleb, can you throw some light up to the roof? I want to just see. I got a funny feeling.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Let's push some buttons.

MATT: What are you looking for?

TALIESIN: Holes.

MATT: You don't see anything, not matching the floor necessarily--

TALIESIN: I mean, like, is there any-- is this ceiling like a solid structure or is it like, does it--

MATT: I mean, it's solid except for the recess in the center which is where all the partially destroyed glass tubes are.

ASHLEY: So do those-- do the tubes-- let me see if I can try to explain this. The tubes that are in the room that we're in, do they connect to the ones that are outside?

MATT: There is possibility that there is a continuation of them, but you've seen multiple tubes and some that are severed and just dangling a lot of it's just loose and damaged. But you see at least consistent installation of them throughout.

TRAVIS: Let's do it, we have to push it.

LAURA: Yeah, let's fucking push it.

TRAVIS: I don't think we want to be in here, right?

ASHLEY: Yeah, let's just--

SAM: There's two buttons, right, DM?

MATT: It looks like there are two raised glyphs.

SAM: And one says Emergency Flush, the other doesn't say anything.

MARISHA: What if we get shut out while half-- we're all on the other side.

LAURA: Exactly.

MARISHA: Should some of us be on the inside?

SAM: Everyone back up.

LAURA: But how are we going to ba-- what are we going to back up to?

TRAVIS: We're going out of the room or--?

LAURA: No, because if we get stuck out of the room we're fucked too.

ASHLEY: Some of us could stay in here.

MARISHA: I think we should split, half in here and half on the other side of the door, just in case.

TALIESIN: Weirdly terrible idea, but--

TRAVIS: Boy.

LAURA: I really hate it.

TRAVIS: That feels--

LIAM: If we want to take a minute--

MARISHA: I want to split the party so fucking bad.

LIAM: I could put up the dome like I did for Gelidon.

TRAVIS: Oh, and it would protect us if it fills with anything crazy?

LIAM: M-m-m-m...

TALIESIN: Maybe?

LIAM: I plugged the bottom of a boat with it once.

TRAVIS: You did.

LAURA: Yeah, it's waterproof.

TALIESIN: Is it acid proof?

TRAVIS: It's a pretty good idea.

TRAVIS: Veth, no, wait! Wait!

LIAM: I'm doing it. I slap the book down on the ground and I start ritual casting.

TRAVIS: It's like a diving bell.

LIAM: A dome.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: On the inside or the outside?

LIAM: Inside.

MARISHA: Okay, okay.

LAURA: Yeah, then we just sit in the dome.

TRAVIS: I'll poke my head out of the door and just keep an eye out during those 10 minutes--

TALIESIN: The dome's going to be where the buttons are?

TRAVIS: Just sentry style.

MATT: Okay, cool.

LIAM: Well, it's whatever we want. Veth could cast from within the dome.

TALIESIN: Oh, well.

LIAM: With Mage Hand.

MARISHA: Yeah, should be good.

LIAM: Or we could put the dome on top.

TALIESIN: Let's put the dome right next to the door. So if it opens we have access.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah yeah.

MARISHA: That's a good idea.

SAM: Just put the dome in the door. So the door can't close.

LIAM: The door is closed.

TRAVIS: Emergency flush.

LIAM: Oh, the other door.

TALIESIN: Okay, this is a plan.

LIAM: I cast the dome. Here we go.

MATT: Okay, so you cast the dome?

MARISHA: Which button?

MATT: Whereabouts are you casting it?

LIAM: I'm going to put it as close as I can get it to the door that we want to open.

MATT: Okay, cool, so you're placing it opposite room center to the left, that area?

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Yes?

MATT: I don't know like, I'm trying to figure out whereabouts.

LIAM: Well, I can't see inside your head.

MATT: I understand, so where you entered--

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Then across the wall, and to the left is where that angled metal wall is with the sign. Are you putting it in the center of the room on that side, then?

LIAM: Yeah, close as I can get to that door that we wanted to go through a moment ago.

LAURA: "Biological Weapons."

MATT: You got it. Okay. Cool.

TALIESIN and LIAM: All right.

MATT: You finish the creation of the dome and you are settled within.

TALIESIN: Let's do this.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: All right, it's up to you.

SAM: Spectral hand appears and presses the other button. The not flush button.

MATT: Okay, the hand presses on it, it doesn't depress. It doesn't like lower in. And it doesn't seem to react.

LAURA: Oh, it may need, like, people.

MARISHA: Fuck.

SAM: I go over there. I'll sit on it.

MATT: You sit on it. Nothing.

TRAVIS: You've got spells Veth, go for it, come on.

SAM: It needs a spell, what kind of a spell do you think it needs?

TRAVIS: Abjuration?

SAM: I don't have that shit.

TRAVIS: I'll run over and be like: I'll try it. And I'll cast Armor of Agathys at 1st-level.

MATT: Just at it?

TRAVIS: Well, that's what we did with the door the first time. Yeah, it was like touching the stone and--

TALIESIN: Maybe if we get back in and then try and hit--

MATT: You reach out and touch the stone and the minute you touch it with your hand, you feel it glow and warm beneath your hand.

MARISHA: Wait, what?

LAURA: You just need a hand, not a butt.

MATT: Needed a hand--

SAM: Are you serious?

MATT: Yep.

SAM: My hand is like my butt in many ways.

SAM: It's dirty.

MATT: As it glows, the door next to you guys-- (rumbling, chains moving) begins to rise, as the door behind you slams shut and leans once more off of its mooring so that door is damaged and is back in its wedged position as it was when you found it. But locking you guys inside that side of the chamber. The other door opens and you're within the dome, right?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: All right, what are you guys doing?

LAURA: Let's go.

MARISHA: Going through.

LIAM: Nothing's pouring out or anything?

MATT: Nothing's pouring out.

LIAM: Looks good.

MATT: This hallway, too, is like 15 feet wide. It's the same as the previous one.

LAURA: Okay, then yeah, we're gonna go down that hallway.

MATT: All right, cool. Dome disappears, you guys take a few steps and you hear--

LAURA: Uh-oh.

MATT: (low mournful wail)

SAM: It's a baby!

MATT: (low whining)

LAURA: Oh, I hate that sound.

MARISHA: It is like a lower pitched baby. It's an old baby.

MATT: (low whining continues)

LAURA: Oh no. Oh no.

MARISHA: Let's go-- should we back into the dome? Just scooch back?

LIAM: I just dropped that.

MARISHA: Oh, you just dropped the dome.

LAURA: I'm going to Invoke Duplicity.

MATT: Hmm?

LAURA: I'm going to Invoke Duplicity.

MATT: You Invoke Duplicity.

TRAVIS: I summon the sword.

MATT: As you guys-- you hear, (pounding sounds) These heavy metallic footfalls heading from further down the hallway you're looking and you see this faint light swing side to side.

LAURA: Oh no.

TALIESIN: Oh, for god's sake.

MATT: What do you do?

MARISHA: It's an angler fish.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we make friends with it. It needs a friend.

MARISHA: Okay, hang on. Is it dark in here? Is it dark?

MATT: There is no light in the room aside from what you guys have created.

MARISHA: Kill your globules, kill them.

MATT: Globules are gone, you cancel your light?

TALIESIN: I'm out.

SAM: I'm going to hide behind Yasha.

MATT: Behind Yasha. Where are you guys arranged right now? Because you stepped about 10 feet into the hall before this happened.

TRAVIS: And is it just a hallway and there's a huge, there's a sound and light coming at us--

MATT: Correct.

TRAVIS: -- in a closed hallway?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Maybe we should back into the room?

TALIESIN: Back in the room.

LAURA: Back into the room.

LIAM: I can't see anything at the moment.

MATT: All right, you guys all back into the middle hallway. You hear like-- you step into like glass that breaks under your foot. Thankfully, nobody gashes their ankle, but as you back up into it, you see the light slightly swinging, you hear the-- (sniffing)

MARISHA: Shit.

MATT: (low wailing) (low wailing) (growl) (pounding) The light begins to get faster as it heads towards you. You can see now light, it lighting up the walls as it approaches.

MARISHA: Let's just keep dragging them out, let's not fight in the hall?

TRAVIS: Back him out.

MARISHA: Back him out, back him out?

SAM: I'm going to find a hiding spot and I'm going to Voltaic Bolt and get ready.

MARISHA: Fine. I'm just going to slip to the backside of the door, like up against the wall.

LAURA: Hit him right as he's coming through!

MATT: Okay, so you hide on the side. You all find-- I'll say for the purposes of this, I'm going to set up a map so you can tell me where you are.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: Oh, and then he's going to call it, isn't he?

LIAM: Yeah, yeah, got to.

TRAVIS: I mean, it could be really sad, you know, imagine.

MARISHA: Yeah, maybe he's got a broken paw?

SAM: This made-up map is sponsored by Dwarven Forge. Surprise that special dungeon master in your life this holiday season with Dwarven Forge gaming terrain. Go check all their amazing stuff out at dwarvenforge.com.

TALIESIN: No.

MARISHA: Cool.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay.

MATT: This is the hallway you guys are backing into. This is now the closed door that fell off its hinges. This is the chamber and this is the platform where you pressed the button. Where do you guys want to be placed?

LAURA: Where's the button that we pressed?

MATT: Over here.

MARISHA: What was the hallway that you said we were coming through?

MATT: This is the hallway that it's coming down. You guys entered from here.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: And that was where you were headed before you backed into this chamber.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: So I'm going to just get my back up against the wall like right here, just waiting for it to walk by me.

MATT: Okay, Veth where are you hiding?

SAM: Put me like behind a cage or something.

MATT: Okay, you can do that easy enough right there, okay.

SAM: Maybe I can fire through the bars or something.

TALIESIN: I'm going to hide behind--

MATT: It'd be a rough shot, you can try it. What's up?

TALIESIN: I'm going to hide by the astrolabe on the other side.

MATT: Over here?

TALIESIN: Yeah, right over there.

LAURA: I'm going to put my duplicate across from Beau on the other side of the hallway.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: And I'm going to actually run and hide right behind the button.

MATT: Over here?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: You've got it, all righty, Yasha?

ASHLEY: I'm going to hang out with Jester's duplicate hidden behind there just getting ready, like, right up against the wall.

MATT: There is a lot of rock and rubble right there. So you got to move into the corner or place there, where do you want to go?

ASHLEY: I've got to have my glasses.

MATT: It's all good.

ASHLEY: Okay.

SAM: Jester? Why are you watching Home Shopping Network right now?

ASHLEY: Yeah, I'll just stay right there, that's fine.

MATT: Okay, Fjord?

TALIESIN: It won't work, it's a zirconium. You can't use it for a spell.

LAURA: It's so pretty, though.

LIAM: I'm totally blind, and Caduceus said that he grabbed Caleb, so I'll be next to Caduceus.

MATT: So he gets dragged off into this side here.

TALIESIN: Yeah--

LAURA: Can I ask a question?

TALIESIN: I'll put Caleb behind me.

TRAVIS: Yeah, good.

LAURA: When we hit the button originally, when Fjord touched the button, did it instantly react or how long did it take to react?

MATT: Currently, half a second.

TRAVIS: And it was as soon as my hand touched it.

MATT: It was like (rumbling) and then (chains moving).

LAURA: Yeah, I'm going to try--

TRAVIS: And which podium was it?

LAURA: -- time it to where--

SAM: Did we Star Wars it?

LAURA: -- as soon as it starts to come through, I'm going to touch the button.

MARISHA: Right as he's running, drop it?

TRAVIS: The rancor? You're going to do the rancor?

MATT: Okay, okay.

TALIESIN: Going to rancor this.

TRAVIS: Which podium was it, by the way?

LAURA: It's where I am, that's why I'm standing right there, yeah.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Do you want me do it with the hand or you're going to-- you're on the button?

LAURA: I'm on the button. That's what I was, that's why--

MATT: You guys all carefully wait and you hear the-- (pounding) As it gets louder and louder, before eventually you see the light begin to fill the floor. As there is this dangling, swinging orb of light. You've watched-- especially from your edge-- both Yasha and Beauregard as it emerges, and from the light you see framed these, like, human arms reaching out. And two more human arms. And two more, clusters of human arms that seem to be reaching out from the sides of a large bulbous swollen head. You see these arms are reaching out like Predator tendrils to the sides.

LAURA: Oh no.

LIAM: Sorry, nope.

MATT: These white, pupil-less, glistening, bulging eyeballs protruding from the front of this gray face that the orb is floating from. (rumbles) (low whining)

LAURA: Is it in the doorway, is it in the doorway, is it in the doorway?

MATT: Its massive mammoth-like body of thick hide-- (pounding) -- begins to step inward. As its head turns slightly this way you can see the face: humanoid, but awfully cherub-like. Like a large--

TALIESIN: Oh no.

MATT: -- pulsing, swollen baby face with over a half dozen arms emerging from the side as its mouth opens to split open jaw with hundreds of teeth filling the inside of its blackened mouth. They slightly twitch and turn. (low whine) And that's where we're going to leave off this week. (yelling) As we get to fight this thing.

TRAVIS: What is that?!

TRAVIS and LAURA: No!

MATT: One of my favorite minis of all time.

SAM: Put it down so I can see it on the--

LAURA: No!

TRAVIS: Is this a real thing? Did you make this?

MATT: No, this is actually from Kingdom Death. This is one of the things got me to buy it.

ASHLEY: Wait, can you turn the camera so we can see his little--?

TRAVIS: Wait, are you with the--

MARISHA: There we go, there we go! (yelling)

TRAVIS: Because you're the one that I touched, right?

ASHLEY: That is terrifying.

TALIESIN: Nope nope.

LIAM: This is the future liberals want.

SAM: (laughs)

MATT: So we're going to pick up from there, literally right there, next week.

TRAVIS: Oh my god, you can't. You can, and you did.

LIAM: Aww, look at the big dumper butt! (laughter) It's going to poo like a baby.

LAURA: Is it that-- is it that far out already? Is it that far into the room?

MATT: It has-- it is emerging right now. I'd say, to give you the benefit of the doubt we'll say there.

MARISHA: Yeah, I like this plan, though. Let's remember this plan.

TRAVIS: It can go one of two ways.

MARISHA: Yeah, I know.

TALIESIN: That is nowhere near the most horrifying thing I've seen come out of that game.

LAURA: That's terrifying.

MATT: I've wanted to bring this mini into the game for so long. All right, thank you so much. We'll pick this up next week. Have a wonderful week. We love you very much, and, is it Thursday yet? Good night.

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