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 and Dragons at the same table. Thank you so much for your patience. As mentioned last week, we’re adjusting and changing and updating things and taking your feedback and our feedback, and everyone’s been working really hard to make this set progressively better and better to make it a better experience. This is our first time all at the same table since the home game.
MATT: But no, seriously, don’t do that. That’s okay.
MARISHA: Still in front of a green screen.
MATT: Still in front of a green screen. Totally. Thank you guys so much for being patient. We are up now, and let’s dive into the announcements for the evening. We don’t have a whole lot this week, but we have, let’s see. Any updates as far as the merch is concerned?
LAURA: The merchandises? Well, you know, we do have that amazing David Mack poster.
SAM: But I thought that was only a limited-release item, Laura.
LAURA: It is, actually, but it’s available for three more weeks. The signed version is available for two more weeks. And since it is a limited-time release thing, if you know anybody that watches the show but is maybe way behind and they’re not watching live, it would probably be nice to let them know about it, because I still get some messages about the Joe Mad poster that people can’t get anymore. So it will be gone after this, so it’s nice if they can get it, too. And we have the Scanlan tee, and we have our amazing Slayer’s Take aprons. Slayer’s Cake aprons.
SAM: Let’s talk about the Scanlan t-shirt a little more.
LAURA: We have the amazing Scanlan concert tee.
TRAVIS: That asshole? No, we’re good.
LAURA: And, you know, a bunch of other t-shirts as well, and a whole bunch of other things. Go check out the shop on geekandsundry.com and you’ll see all of the merchandise that’s available.
MATT: All right, cool. Also, a reminder, guys, the Tal'Dorei campaign guide’s coming out at GenCon in August. Pre-orders go up, I believe, mid-July, and I think if you pre-order it, I think it’s like five extra bucks or something like that, you get the PDF download immediately. All the information is on Green Ronin’s website, so go check it out if you have any questions there, because they can answer them better than I can. I’m steeped in art approvals and everything right now.
MARISHA: The art is looking so good!
MATT: It’s looking awesome. We’ve pulled in some–- we’ve got a lot of community artists that we pushed over towards Green Ronin, so they’ve been pulling people from the community, which makes me happy, because I want to get as many of you guys involved as possible in this.
LAURA: As many of us as possible?
LIAM: I can’t draw for shit.
SAM: I can do some art.
MATT: I was referring to the community, not you guys.
TRAVIS: Sam’s art is really rare.
MATT: Yeah, I’ve seen it, and it’s pretty… yeah. They all wind up looking like genitals. It’s crazy. We have the podcast, which is now up.
MATT: Audio podcast, for people who want to save their data and listen on long drives.
LAURA: Who don’t want to look at our faces.
MATT: I don’t blame you.
TRAVIS: For no other reason than for those Sam Riegel advertisements at the beginning.
MATT: So we got that. And we have Wednesday Club.
TALIESIN: Yeah, Wednesday Club next week. I don’t actually know what we’re doing, because I haven’t looked at the 30-plus messages in that text thread, because I’ve been working on a thing that I can’t talk about yet that’s going to be really, really great.
SAM: Taliesin, I feel like most of the time you don’t know what you’re going to be talking about.
TALIESIN: That’s true.
SAM: So maybe you should just have a go-to. Like, it’s going to be Daredevil again. Or something. Just something.
TALIESIN: What are we going to– yeah, we need a go-to. What was going to be our blanket go-to? I’m not sure.
MARISHA: Great Lakes Avengers
TALIESIN: Great Lakes Avengers is actually pretty spectacular. It’s hard to say it. Great Lakes Avengers.
MATT: Make a big effort to bring back the What the–?! comics.
LIAM: What about the scientology graphic novels?
TALIESIN: I haven’t read those. Do they have those?
LIAM: Well, I’m up to level six.
TALIESIN: Do you want to be a guest on the show?
MATT: You’ve almost learned invisibility! Anyway. Apologies to all our scientology fans.
SAM: Yeah, we just lost half the audience.
MATT: All right, so.
LIAM: Sea Org uniforms, watching a giant-screen TV of Critical Role.
MATT: Exactly. And Signal Boost?
MARISHA: Jeff Lewis. We announced it on Tuesday on Talks. Yeah, Jeff Lewis, still Jeff.
MATT: All right, cool. Then, unless we have anything else to announce, let’s get into tonight’s episode of Critical Role.
MATT: Welcome back. So, getting us up to speed as to what happened last time. Vox Machina had recently been visited by an old ally, Scanlan Shorthalt, who had spent the past year or so–-
LAURA: An old ally.
MATT: Yeah. Hey. Building a reputation and a criminal ring in Ank'harel as a forging master in various types of furniture and accoutrements. And upon realizing through the aid of one his hired help, Lionel, or Chud. Chad? Chod. Whatever the various pronunciations were that came through. Discovered that there was a second sphere, apparently on some sort of pyramid-like ziggurat structure not far from Ank'harel. Upon you returning as Scanlan to notify the party, you all made your way to Ank'harel, briefly met with Kaylie, and saw a little bit of the setup that they’ve been building for the past year or so, and then made your way towards the Smouldercrown Mountains to the southeast of Ank'harel, where apparently this structure resides and this cult, that is apparently sacrificing objects of magical power towards this black sphere. So you made your way to the outskirts of this mountain, discovered that the entrance that was previously there had been collapsed, and discovered a new, carved entrance into the mountain, were beset by a few traps, made your way into a far corner, set up a mansion, and after dealing rather briskly with a cluster of undead that had built up on the outside of your entryway to your magnificent mansion, you made your way to the final chamber where the structure was residing. A number of cultists there were in the process of quickly, hastily throwing these objects to the top and then noticed that you had come as interlopers into this space. At which point you realized the head of cult, at least this group here at the top of the pyramid, was none other, seemingly, than Lady Delilah Briarwood.
ALL: No, no, no!
MATT: Who then protected herself and two of her cult members beneath the veil of a Prismatic Wall in the shape of a sphere, and you did battle with a number of undead and other cultists and followers of the Whispered One that involved largely just throwing a bunch of them into the ceiling, including yourselves, thanks to a well-placed Reverse Gravity. Scanlan had darted past the Prismatic Wall with a clever use of Dimension Door.
SAM: Should’ve died.
MATT: Actually, no. Looking at the rules, too. It was a good call to bring it back, in my opinion. But nevertheless, they escaped seemingly into the sphere, Delilah and two of these cultists, after turning it from this glowing white back into its black magic-absorbing self, leaving you all there. Managed to cleanse Pike of her Feeblemind spell, and after acquiring a few of these magical artifacts that were left unbroken, and some cult robes, and apparently symbols of this cult of the Whispered One, you now stand in the middle of this cavern on the outside of where this second Ziggurat exists, deciding what to do next, and what the next step of this journey means for you. So, Vox Machina, what would you like to do?
LAURA: What should we do next? What does the next step on this journey mean for us?
LIAM: I’m getting wicked deja-vu, brah.
MARISHA: That was so existential of you, Vex. Wow.
LAURA: No, but really. What should we fucking do? Should we go through it?
MARISHA: That was a really meaty spell she had. I’ve never seen that before.
ASHLEY: Thank you, Keyleth, for bringing me back.
SAM: I don’t know how much time has passed since the fight, but can Taryon cast Revivify on Doty still?
MATT: No, that much time has passed, unfortunately.
LAURA: Doty’s gone again?
TRAVIS: Did you lose a second one?
SAM: I came back to get him!
TRAVIS: He’s like iPhones, they just come out every so often.
TALIESIN: The Doty 6 is going to have a much better camera. It’s going to have better voice recognition. You’re really going to be happy with it.
MATT: You could use the same funds to bring that Doty back, it would just take you the week in reconstruction anyway. But you’re not losing that Doty. The other one, you unfortunately lost in the City of Dis, but this can be brought back at the same cost of a new one. So you’re not having to reconstruct an entirely new Doty.
SAM: But I have to get his body somewhere.
MATT: Yes, you do.
TALIESIN: I kind of want to collapse this cave.
TRAVIS: With us in it?
TALIESIN: No, not with us in it. I don’t think we can destroy the ziggurat, but I think we can at least make it extremely difficult to find and get to, and make it very uncomfortable for anything that tries to come through.
LAURA: That’s true. That would be smart.
SAM: But then we can’t come through.
LAURA: We have another entrance. We have the one in Whitestone.
LIAM: Also, though, this is an exit. Do you want the only exit to be in your basement? The only one? Or are there more of these places?
SAM: Also, does each portal go to the same place, or do they go to different parts?
TALIESIN: We saw the spire in both images, correct?
MATT: With the brief glance through the–- Well, the arrow was in the one beneath Whitestone. Through your connecting with Sarenrae, the vision that you received through that portal seemed to be very similar to what Vex described seeing through her arrow.
LAURA: It could be the same portal or they could both be within view of the tower.
TALIESIN: I’m imagining a circle of spheres.
MARISHA: And both seem to suck magic in, correct?
LAURA: Yeah, they do the same thing.
TALIESIN: I think we’ll have an easier time keeping track of what is coming in and out if we just have one to deal with as opposed to two.
LAURA: That’s assuming there’s only two.
TRAVIS: Is it a stupid idea to shoot another Oracle Arrow through this one and see if it looks the same?
TALIESIN: I don’t know if we have the option.
LAURA: I can try, but in Whitestone, there was at least a visual path toward the ball, but I don’t think there is one here, is there?
MATT: Not within the radius.
LAURA: Not within the magic orb.
MARISHA: It’s too tight a room?
LIAM: I think I like your idea, but I worry that we’re upping the odds of–- Listen, we just found out that she’s alive, or something. She’s going to unleash some sort of fresh hell somewhere. We’re upping the odds of it happening under your living room.
TALIESIN: I know. It’s just, what if it happens in both places at once?
LAURA: What if we collapse the one in Whitestone?
TALIESIN: It’s directly under the castle. We would have to maybe fill it with, I don’t know. Submerge it or some such.
LAURA: At least try to block off the entrance to where they can’t get out.
MARISHA: Is there an underground water source near Whitestone?
TALIESIN: There’s acid pits.
MARISHA: We could try and flood it with acid.
ASHLEY: What if we blocked off that entrance when we go inside?
TALIESIN: Let’s at least make sure this cave is collapsed. We’ll leave the chamber standing, but every entrance to this cave should be collapsed. We know there’s three of them.
LAURA: What if we block this one, and then we block the one in Whitestone, and then we just–-
SAM: Game over!
LAURA: I think we win, then, right?
TALIESIN: We’ll be able to get back in if we need to, we just want to make sure that no one can wander in and out of here without making a bit of a ruckus.
LAURA: So there are three entrances that we know of, and we need to block all of them.
TALIESIN: One’s already blocked.
SAM: And one, do we know where it is?
LAURA: There’s one up top that we heard about.
LIAM: How much time do I have left on my wings? A lot, probably, like a half hour or 40 minutes? It wasn’t that long.
MATT: Well, no, actually, because when you used your wings outside, you guys came inside. Did you use your wings during the battle?
LIAM: Yeah, I did.
MATT: Did you guys take a long rest?
TALIESIN: We did, because we had the mansion.
MATT: You did. So by this conversation happening, the rummaging through the bodies, inspecting the vicinity, I’d say you maybe have 20 more minutes on your wings.
LAURA: Oh yeah, did we rummage through the bodies? Let’s rummage through those bodies.
MATT: You did, that’s how you found the objects.
MARISHA: While they rummage, Keyleth wants to test the radius.
SAM: No, we found the objects on that cart.
MATT: That’s right, you found them on the cart. You did not actually rummage through the bodies.
LAURA: Is there anything on the bodies?
MATT: Make an investigation check.
LAURA: Whoa, that was high. 23.
MATT: 23, okay. Over the next 15 or so minutes, as you go through and begin to gather the corpses, most of the skeletons out here that have armor on, it’s old, rusted, destroyed, broken armor, and the weapons either fell apart in the battle against you or are just barely usable or functional at this point in time. Of the various cultists’ bodies, the armor on the black guard that you were battling is a pretty nice-looking set of full plate. You also find similar symbols, these dark iron necklaces that you found on the previous cultists.
LAURA: We’ll take those. We can take the plate armor if there’s room for it in the bag, and then see if it’s actually magical outside of the field.
TALIESIN: How many of those necklaces have we found?
TALIESIN: Six necklaces.
LAURA: All right, and we already had two, so now all of us have one.
TRAVIS: I can make room in the Bag of Holding for the armor, but I have to get rid of one of these two bodies. Does anybody object if I throw one of the bodies at the little black marble?
LIAM: I would kind of like to see that.
TALIESIN: Actually, I think that’s a pretty good idea, but you have to remove it from the bag before you walk over to the marble.
TRAVIS: I have to what?
TALIESIN: You have to remove the body from the bag before you walk over.
TRAVIS: Oh right, okay. So can I walk back to the fork?
TALIESIN: Remove them both.
TRAVIS: Back to the fork. I pull out-– both? We only need one.
TALIESIN: All right.
TRAVIS: I pull one body out.
LAURA: He likes to save his bodies for later.
TRAVIS: Listen, I’ll run my store the way I run my store. I pull one body out.
MATT: Which, just as a note, the visual of Grog pulling this body out of the Bag of Holding is much like trying to pull a Slim Jim out of the wrapper. It pulls weird and you have to yank.
TRAVIS: What an analogy. The sausage without the casing.
MATT: Yeah, it’s like by sections, and you watch him strain as you pull some out and it folds over. It’s just really awkward and awful. But yeah, you manage to get the body out.
TRAVIS: Close the Bag of Holding and I just drag him back over.
MATT: (impacts) Up each step.
TRAVIS: Everybody ready? And a one, and a two, and a (whoosh).
MATT: As you throw it, it impacts, and you watch as the body stops in mid-air from the gravity, stopping where it stands. Its legs fold over, and like a broken physics engine, you watch as the body (crackling) twists, cracks, and gets sucked in.
LAURA: Let’s not do that. Let’s not go through that hole.
TRAVIS: It really doesn’t seem that bad.
TALIESIN: I kind of want to experiment. Would you mind losing one of the necklaces, or no?
LAURA: We can try.
TALIESIN: Let’s put a necklace on the other cadaver and then throw it through.
TRAVIS: I literally just walked all the way over there and now you want me to go back?
TALIESIN: You need the cardio, let’s not pretend you don’t. We’re going to put one of the necklaces on the body and throw it through. It’ll still be fun to watch.
TRAVIS: I walk back out of the realm of the thing, pinching my belly fat because apparently Percy thinks I’m a couple pounds heavy.
LAURA: It’s all that ale, Grog.
TALIESIN: I can only mock you on graph paper. I take what I can fucking get, man.
TRAVIS: I’ll pull the other Slim Jim out of the bag.
MATT: (suction sound) You place one of the various symbols around its neck and then Babe Ruth-style lob it, and you watch as it gets within a certain proximity, the orb seems to shimmer and shift open ever so slightly. It’s similar to what you saw, it opened to a mouthed gateway when Delilah and the other cultists walked through. The body still rattles, and you watch it twist a bit, but it’s a far less impactful transition.
LAURA: All right, so now we have seven of those things, and we have to get eight of us through.
TALIESIN: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, yes. Somebody will have to stay behind, but we’ll figure that out if we go that direction. There’s other options.
SAM: Who’s the eighth?
LAURA: You and you, bitch.
SAM: I live in Ank'harel and I’m a crime boss.
LAURA: Yeah, and you’re here with us now.
ASHLEY: You’re not planning on going with us?
SAM: I hadn’t been invited.
TRAVIS: That was pretty–- I mean, from a third party, non-influenced or partial perspective, flipping gravity was pretty cool.
LIAM: Plus, he’s got a lot of big words now. You want to be around to see them in action.
MARISHA: Technically, I can flip gravity. I don’t know. I felt like I should put it on the table.
SAM: Oh, okay, see, you don’t really need me after all.
MARISHA: No, that’s not what I meant. I just wanted to be honest.
LAURA: I haven’t seen you do it.
MARISHA: Well, it hasn’t been relevant yet.
LIAM: You’re also really clever. Forget your spells. And funny, and it’s good to have you around, so yeah, do you want to go someplace really horrible with your family, or what?
SAM: All right. Are you all offering?
TRAVIS: I don’t know, Pike. Can he earn his way back in in this manner?
ASHLEY: Well, I do think we could use the help.
SAM: The help. Okay, that’s good enough for me. I’m in. Will fancy boy be joining us?
ASHLEY: Are you jealous of him?
SAM: No. He’s part of the team.
ASHLEY: He is part of the team.
LAURA: Tary, what do you think?
SAM: Shit! This again!
LIAM: Tary, it’s up to you, but you were talking about going back.
SAM: I’m sorry, I was busy caring for my deceased robot.
LAURA: Is Doty…
SAM: No, he’s fine. He’ll be fine. I just have to rebuild him. It’ll take some time and money, which I don’t have.
ASHLEY: I wish I could help, Tary, but I think that’s out of my…
TALIESIN: We can get him back to Whitestone, he’ll be perfectly fine. We have everything we need there.
SAM: All right. I need him for the brigade!
TALIESIN: Of course.
LAURA: The brigade, right.
SAM: Yes. But I can’t carry him. Grog, would you be able to…
MATT: “I can carry him!” And you look over and Chod goes over and grabs Doty. (grunt) “Should I put him somewhere?”
SAM: Not yet, Chod. Wait until we get somewhere where I can work on it.
TALIESIN: I say we head back to Whitestone. We gather resources, we figure out how we’re getting where we’re going to get.
MARISHA: We could theoretically forge more of these, right? Or do you think they’re blessed?
TALIESIN: Let’s find out. We now know they work.
LIAM: I wonder if we could take them to Allura or to Shaun.
LAURA: Well, have Tary Identify them. Maybe it’s something specific.
MARISHA: Yeah, are they magical, Tary? Are these magical?
SAM: Let me look.
LAURA: Outside of the field.
MARISHA: Outside of the field.
MATT: They are magical. It’s a mild enchantment. It’s not extremely strong, but it is very specific, and it is more of an attunement to a specific plane. It has something to do with whoever’s bearing it, or whatever’s wearing it, is already partially crossed to a certain extent, so it limits the impact of the transition.
SAM: Okay. I don’t understand any of that. But there you have it.
LAURA: Do you have any more Identify left?
LAURA: Can we have you Identify the plate armor that the big guy was wearing, so we can see if it’s magical?
SAM: I do that.
MATT: Very well. So this is Plate Armor of Resistance to radiant.
LAURA: So it’s immune to Pike.
TALIESIN: It’s anti-Pike armor.
MARISHA: Well, that kind of clues us in on a lot, actually.
SAM: Chod can’t use that, can he?
MATT: Do you ask this question of him?
SAM: Chod, can you use this?
MATT: “Can I have it?”
SAM: I mean, do we need it?
SAM: Do we need it?
TALIESIN: Yes, let’s not…
SAM: Do we need it?
TRAVIS: Radiant means all gods or just good gods?
LAURA: Just good gods I think.
TALIESIN: I would like to put somebody in this armor in Whitestone so that whoever comes through the portal, the first thing they see is something that they feel comfortable and familiar with.
MATT: “Those boots are better than my boots. Can I have the boots?”
TALIESIN: Yes. Well, what kind of boots are they?
MATT: It’s full armor plate. They’re still part of the armor set.
TALIESIN: We can get you something else nice. I have a plan for this armor!
LAURA: I have so many things. Wait, hold on, Chod. There’s-– Oh, Chod! Do you want a jewelry box that makes music?
ASHLEY: No, you can’t give him that jewelry box!
MATT: He leans over to Scanlan. “Hey, boss. Do I want a jewelry box?”
SAM: Yes. Just say yes.
MATT: “Yes, I would love a jewelry box. Thank you.”
LAURA: Do you? It makes music. You like music.
MATT: “It makes music, do I want it?”
SAM: When a girl offers you something, you just say yes.
MATT: “Yes, please. Take all of it.” Now he’s carrying the music box and Doty.
LAURA: I’ll mark that off.
LIAM: Lionel, I have the perfect thing for you. And I pull out the metal skullcap.
MATT: “That’s loud.”
LAURA: Wait. Wait. Is that the Clarota one?
LIAM: No, that’s the Lionel Gayheart one. People will have a harder time fucking with you, in general.
LAURA: That is the Clarota one, wasn’t it? You’re giving the Clarota thing, the resistance-to-mind stuff?
LIAM: Yes, I am.
LAURA: Because we could maybe use that.
TRAVIS: Yeah, there’s still an idiot in this group.
LAURA: Yeah, there’s maybe a Grog in the group that could totally use it!
LIAM: I’ve had this hat for years.
LAURA: I know! So maybe you should remember that you have it and give it to fucking Grog!
LIAM: I’ve known that I’ve had it, and I’ve talked to him about it. No one’s ever asked about it, you’ve never asked about it.
LAURA: I didn’t know you had it!
LIAM: You are a hoarder. You are many good things–-
LAURA: No! I’m just saying, if Grog has resistance to mind control, then that would be really good for us in a fight with somebody that’s really powerfully–-
LIAM: Grog. This skullcap that Lionel is wearing requires attunement. Would you like to give up one of your really lethal weapons–-
TRAVIS: No. Didn’t we talk about this?
LAURA: I didn’t know it required attunement.
TALIESIN: Sense of dignity, perhaps?
TRAVIS: Ooh, hey! Is he heavy? Don’t you have your own Bag of Holding?
LAURA: Not everybody has a Bag of Holding, Grog.
TRAVIS: I’ll just give him mine.
LAURA: We just give him everything.
TALIESIN: We would turn on you so fast. Let’s get back to Whitestone.
LAURA: Okay, okay, okay. How do we collapse these tunnels-–
MATT: “You guys can keep putting things on me. That’s fine.”
TALIESIN: Well, we have, thankfully, a professional tunnel collapser.
LAURA: Well, that’s true!
TRAVIS: Yep. Oh, me?
TALIESIN: So let’s find the upstairs entrance and get rid of that-–
LAURA: I’ll do that from outside.
MARISHA: I was trying to test the radius of this sphere, too. Am I still doing that? Is that still relevant?
TALIESIN: Well, it’s worth noting just in case we cannot find the opening.
MATT: It comes to about 180 feet from the actual sphere.
MARISHA: Wow! That’s a long way. It’s the same as the other one?
MATT: It’s similar from when you originally tested it. It was about the width of the whole chamber underneath Whitestone. And that chamber was more cleared out, more of the actual structure was visible. This one is still partially buried and you’re only seeing the upper half of it.
LIAM: Do I even have the ability to fly in here? Is there an outer edge where the magic is not–
MATT: In that chamber, you cannot fly.
LIAM: Cannot. Okay.
LAURA: And I feel like we’re going to run into traps if we try to find it from this way. Maybe find it from the outside and just collapse it.
TALIESIN: All right.
LAURA: That way we don’t have to go through a series of shit.
TALIESIN: Let’s double-reinforce, just pile-drive the one that’s already a little collapsed and make it really collapsed. And then we’ll collapse the others while we’re leaving.
TRAVIS: (happy grunts) Is that permission?
TALIESIN: That is more than permission. That is permission and an audience. We’re very excited.
TRAVIS: That’s amazing. I’ll go for it, and I’ll whack on a wall. Do I just hit a wall anywhere?
LAURA: Just in the tunnels, maybe?
SAM: Wait. You’re an engineer, aren’t you?
TALIESIN: Yes. No, we’re going to be pointing at the things that need to collapse.
TRAVIS: Okay, I’m ready any time.
LAURA: Do you want to go up and see if we can find the thing up top?
MARISHA: Yeah! Sure! You guys have fun collapsing.
LAURA: It’s daytime now, right? Outside?
MATT: At this time, it would be. Yes.
LAURA: So can me and Keyleth go try to find the entrance up top so we can do something to that one?
Matt: Sure, okay.
TRAVIS: Or should we wait ‘til we collapse the tunnels?
TALIESIN: Well, they can find theirs while we get our tunnels collapsed.
TRAVIS: Yeah, I’m sure it won’t fall on me. No big deal.
ASHLEY: I’m going to help! I’m going to help you.
MARISHA: If it falls on you, we can fish you out. Just survive a little bit.
ASHLEY: Keyleth’s got our back. She’ll burrow in and pull us out.
LAURA: Just earring us if something happens.
MARISHA: Badger. Badgers burrow, right? Do badgers burrow?
LIAM: They do burrow.
TRAVIS: That’s why I said stay, but that’s all right!
MATT: (laughs) All righty. So you guys all make your way back to the second entrance, the hidden, illusory one. You all back out of it, leaving just Pike and Grog on the inside.
TALIESIN: And we’re helping them figure out where to punch to make everything–
MATT: Okay, cool. So I need you to go ahead and make an investigation check.
TALIESIN: All right.
MATT: And you can assist him, which gives him advantage.
SAM: Ah. I will assist you.
TALIESIN: Thank you. Oh, yes. That’s excellent. It’s a 19.
MATT: Total of 19? Okay. Halfway through the hallway, you find the place where the initial collapse was started. Or you start looking to see what they used to destroy the first entrance that you were supposed to come through. You can see the way it’s carved, designed, especially the smooth entrance. Which, now that you get a better look at it, that soft, spongy ground, that dust you were finding: you begin to recognize the pattern of what carved its way in. You saw it used at the top of the Emberhold when you were fighting the queen there. It was a series of Disintegration rays used to carve away into this mountain. That’s what that dust is that’s on the ground. And why it’s such a smooth entrance on this side.
MARISHA: But I rolled so shitty on that nature check before, right?
MATT: Mm-hm. However, because it was just a series of magic Disintegrations pushed through to create this second opening, it’s a little harder to find points in the structure where the weakness is. So you begin to cut away at some areas, you get like a small axe or one of the various objects that you’ve-– pointed objects that you’ve acquired over the-–
TRAVIS: I do have just a regular pickaxe.
MATT: Yeah. And you just hit at some areas, and you do find one section where you would think it would be a relatively weak point of impact between the various rocks and stones that hold this up.
TALIESIN: Hit this and stand on this side of it, and that should do some intense damage.
MATT: You would recommend hitting it and then running.
TALIESIN: And run in this direction.
TRAVIS: Okay, Pike.
TRAVIS: I want you to warm up this spot for me, and then you’re going to jump on my back and then I’m going to hit it.
ASHLEY: Okay. I jump on your back now?
TRAVIS: No, no, you hit it.
ASHLEY: Like a backpack?
TRAVIS: Yeah, and then you can come up on my back.
ASHLEY: Oh, I hit it.
LIAM: Do we jump on three, or is it one, two, three, go?
MATT: Pike. Go ahead and make a strength check, as Grog throws you up to the ceiling to where the one place in the rock structure is.
ASHLEY: Yeah boi.
TRAVIS: Ready to run, just in case she just goes beast mode.
MARISHA: We should make little Pike backpacks.
LAURA: Oh my gosh, how cute would that be?
SAM: With, like, Ashley’s face right here.
ASHLEY: No, guys, that doesn’t need to be anywhere.
LIAM: We’ll just repurpose those Yoda bags.
MATT: 13? Okay, so you take her and you alley-oop and you (impact) hit it and you watch it (cracking) and some dust falls and settles. A couple of small pebbles (falling pebbles). And you grab her like, oh! Okay, seems okay for now.
TRAVIS: All right. Get on, Yoda.
ASHLEY: I try to wrap my legs around, but they don’t go.
TRAVIS: I rage first.
MARISHA: Just her but with, like, a jockey on a horse. (straining)
MATT: Okay, so it just happens naturally. So go ahead and roll a strength check with advantage.
MARISHA: Those gnomish thighs.
MATT: 23. So for the height of the cavern here, you get yourself a nice– you crouch low and full shoryuken-style, like (impact) punch into the roof and as you hit it, impact and go clean through and bring it to the ground. Land, and you hear the (crumbling).
TALIESIN: All right, run.
MATT: You guys start bolting through, and as you’re rushing, Pike, you’re looking over and you can see the walls (impacts). You guys are bolting out as well. Both of you guys go ahead and make dexterity saving throws, please.
TRAVIS: I forgot we had to roll for this part.
ASHLEY: Me too.
TRAVIS: I got advantage.
LAURA: Oh god, don’t drop Pikeys.
TRAVIS: Oh, that’s good.
ASHLEY: Okay okay, 16.
TRAVIS: 20. No– 18.
MATT: Okay, so as you guys are bolting, you’re holding onto Grog, and you manage to look behind just fast enough to see one of the walls is about to full-on collapse at the side, and you go ahead and grab the side of Grog’s ear and yank his vision that way.
ASHLEY: Just going to start kicking him in the side.
MATT: He starts turning off to that side, and you manage to just avoid that side of the wall as it (impact).
SAM: Gif it! Gif it!
MATT: So you start steering him from behind like a prized racehorse, and making your way through this cavern until eventually the back half of the cavern collapses and comes to a rest. The front half is not collapsing, but you do-– you have a large portion of the path leading to the ziggurat is now just rubble and rocks.
ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay! Good job!
TRAVIS: Nice job!
TALIESIN: Well done, well done.
ASHLEY: We’re getting somewhere. But we still need–- there’s still more to do?
LAURA: Yeah, there’s that whole other path. There’s that whole-– there’s that whole other path and then the one up top.
LAURA: But I could hear a rumble so I know you guys did good on one of those paths already.
ASHLEY: Thanks! We did pretty good.
MATT: Okay. The rest of it is fairly easy to do because you find the closer you get to the entrance, based on the previous collapsing, elements of it have started to show cracks, like the actual weight, because it was just a smooth transition there. There was no load-bearing platforms or any sort of general structure to the interior of this cavern. So you guys manage to pummel your way out, a large spinning punch on this side and this side as you’re rushing out, and as you do (impacts) you hear it slamming and hitting the ground behind you until you guys emerge through. It looks like you’re running straight at a wall because the illusory wall is still there, but you both just out the other side. Immediate hot daylight hits you, the blaring sun of the Marquet sky. Clear blue sky, no clouds. You’re now surrounded by a series of browned and leafless trees with these large canopies that have the same pear-like fruit hanging from the branches.
TRAVIS: Fruit? Fruit?
MATT: Looks like fruit.
TRAVIS: Are you hungry?
ASHLEY: I’m hungry!
TRAVIS: Hold on. I hold up Pike to go grab some fruit.
ASHLEY: We’ll check it!
TRAVIS: Don’t worry, it’s just fruit.
MATT: Make a nature check.
LIAM: She can cure us of poison.
TALIESIN: Not if she’s busy dying from both ends.
LAURA: (retching) The spins.
MATT: It’s hard to tell, but it looks really tasty.
TRAVIS: Yeah, I got great nature skills! Five.
MATT: So. Looks tasty.
ASHLEY: You know what, Grog?
ASHLEY: As hungry as I am, I think we should wait to have Keyleth look at this fruit.
TRAVIS: Why? It’s just fruit!
ASHLEY: Because it’s outside of this cave, and what if it’s a distraction like, “Oh, lookit!” and you eat it and you just die?
TRAVIS: You know, I’ve found if fruit, when it goes bad, falls from the tree, and it’s still on it! Therefore!
ASHLEY: And when fruit goes bad, it turns into wine!
TRAVIS: You get crunk drunk!
ASHLEY: I think I’m going to wait for Keyleth.
TRAVIS: I’m going to have a bite.
MATT: Okay. You take a bite and it’s got a fairly moist center. You can see now, like a cactus, the fruits here, most of the moisture is retained within these fruit elements. The flavor, it’s not sweet, it’s quite pungent, actually. It has a bitterness to it. It’s like putting your tongue in a bunch of lye.
ASHLEY: Does it taste good?
TRAVIS: (disgusted noises)
ASHLEY: Maybe make some mayonnaise or something? Want some mayonnaise to cleanse your palate?
TRAVIS: I take out the jug and I go: honey! Hey!
ASHLEY: Oh, all right!
LAURA: Just a couple of sticky warriors.
ASHLEY: No, Grog!
MATT: Just as a breeze blows a bit of a dust cloud through, which coats your sticky hands with heavy desert sand. You chew for a minute and feel the crunch of granules inside your mouth where you inhaled. (crunching)
TRAVIS: Jug goes away.
MATT: Back to you guys. You were looking for the other entrance?
LAURA: Yeah, up top.
MATT: Investigation check.
LAURA: Both of us are looking for it. We’re flying up. Can you fly? So, we can fly up. I was going to help you look for it because I figure you have a better ability to collapse it than I do.
LIAM: What form are you going to take?
LAURA: A goldfish!
MARISHA: You could hold me in your hands. I’ve got about 30 seconds. Just to fly up? Can I ride side-saddle with you?
LAURA: Of course you can, yes! Put your arms around me, Keyleth.
MARISHA: Okay! Your abs are nice, Vex!
LAURA: I know, I work out a lot.
MARISHA: Have you been working out over the past year? Wow.
MATT: So, who’s helming the investigation of this? And you’re aiding her, so go ahead and take it with advantage.
LAURA: Same thing. 21.
MATT: All righty. I left on my collapsing music.
TRAVIS: They die.
MATT: So, as you glance around and do a pass over the next 20 minutes or so. It’s as fast as you can, but it takes you a while to scan and get a feel for it. You do see what looks to be, because you felt the wind was coming through from the interior, you see a small well-like crevasse where the rocks have collapsed inward. You can see, glancing over the top, the dark, five, six-foot-wide hole that leads deeper into the mountain.
LAURA: I hover down near it, but don’t get off the broom.
MARISHA: I lean over, I Druidcraft a pebble, toss it in the hole.
MATT: Don’t hear it.
LAURA: Oracle arrow down the hole.
MATT: Okay! Your vision watches as it–
LAURA: Oh, wait! Can she set the end of it on fire?
MATT: Okay, the arrow now, burning, it leads you into this dark space. It lights up the interior. The arrow gets about maybe 60 feet before it hits a rock and shatters.
MATT: It’s not straight down. It has a series of platforms, and it looks like it was designed to be climbed down, so it’s a bit zig-zaggy. It maybe went 50, 60 feet and it hits a platform and shatters. You lose your vision. But it does appear to be a sizable tunnel used for entry.
LAURA: Let’s just fucking collapse it.
MARISHA: All right!
LAURA: Well, just you fucking collapse because I can’t do shit to this thing.
MARISHA: Can I be like, all right! I want to see if I can do this, like, cool maneuver. I’m going to try to balance on the broom, and then jump off the broom and go Keyteor and go into the–-
LAURA: Into it, into it?! Or just around it so you collapse the–-
LAURA: Oh, god, Keyleth!
MATT: You watch as she leaps and–- cloud of dust. There is no sign she impacted, she’s just gone. You just see the side of the mountain.
LAURA: Fuck! Fuck! I get out the rope of entanglement and hover close to the surface and start hanging the rope down.
MATT: You glance in the inside with what little bit of daylight is ricocheting off of the stone interior. You can see the edges of Keyleth’s elemental form swimming through the rock. Because she can do that.
LAURA: That’s fucking crazy.
MARISHA: It’s like Whac-A-Mole!
LAURA: Careful of traps, though, Keyleth, because I’m sure there’s something in there.
MARISHA: All right.
TALIESIN: How’s it going down there? Have you found it yet?
LAURA: Up here?
LAURA: Fabulous. Our friend, Keyleth, is amazing.
TALIESIN: She jumped in, didn’t she?
LAURA: Yes, she did.
MARISHA: I’m going to Earth Glide to the bottom and then peek my earthy face out of the top, see if I can see down.
MATT: Are you following the actual path?
MARISHA: Yeah. I’ll try to be conscious to make sure I don’t hit anything that looks precarious.
MATT: Make an investigation check.
LAURA: Don’t hit any traps!
MARISHA: All right! Looking for traps! That’s okay, 15.
MATT: 15. Okay. You get about a third of the way down, and you realize that one of the platforms that you can land on has, uncharacteristically, a softer cushion to it. Everything else is just stone slabs. This one has almost–-
MATT: Yeah! (laughs) Like a spring air mattress, it’s crazy. No, it’s like a woven, dried palm frond-like cloth that’s rested over it.
SAM: I’m sure it’s nothing. Probably nothing. Just leave it.
MARISHA: Just a drop-through? Can I, like–- fuck.
LAURA: Don’t fuck with anything, Keyleth. Just collapse it!
MARISHA: I found, like a, it might be a roof or-–
TRAVIS: Yeah, I bet Clarota’s in there.
MARISHA: What? Piranhas? I don’t know if piranhas are in rocks, but there might be something else in there. There might be piranhas. Oh, I’ll avoid it.
MATT: Okay. You continue southward, scooting. You can sense the very exterior of the wall that leads to this path, so you’re staying away from it as you glide through the rock and earth. Eventually, you come close to the very top, breaching the dome that leads down into the chamber where you had your battle naught but an hour ago. As you poke your face through, you’re looking down, you can see the dark sphere there, hovering. You can see the large pyramid structure below it, probably about 60 feet below you. You can see the entrance to the tunnel that leads into here. There is a small ladder up along the wall that previously you didn’t notice because of the lack of light and attention to the ceiling portion. But people were either climbing up into or climbing down from.
LAURA: What do you see, Keyleth?
MARISHA: There’s a ladder, man, there’s some very innovative people. Yeah, these are very innovative cultists.
LAURA: Wait, you’re looking down at the ziggurat?
MARISHA: Yeah! Hey, Pike and Grog, you guys did an excellent job.
ASHLEY and TRAVIS: Oh thanks!
TRAVIS: It really means a lot.
LAURA: Get the fuck away from it, Keyleth!
MARISHA: Okay! Good idea!
MATT: By the way, it’s fantastic. You all hear through it (earth elemental grumbling).
TRAVIS: Oh, right, yeah!
MATT: The grumbling, low voice of an earth elemental speaking to you through the earring.
LAURA: We still don’t know how far that field goes. If you turn into Keyleth again, you’re fucked!
MARISHA: (unintelligible grumbling)
LAURA: Get the fuck out!
MARISHA: I try and say, like, well, I know it’s about 180 feet because I tested before, so I’m trying to be conscious of it. And then I back up a little bit, and I go over to where that tunnel was, and I start collapsing it down. As I work my way up, I’m going (impacts).
MATT: Easily enough. You go by and you start kicking through the tunnel as you go. You can sense near proximity where any of the various weak points are in the stone. Systematically go through it, collapse it, piece by piece, until eventually most of the tunnel is useless and unusable.
MARISHA: It’s like a platformer.
MATT: How long can you maintain your wild shape?
MARISHA: Half of my level, or something like that?
MATT: Oh, you’re fine, then.
MARISHA: Or it’s a third of my level? Still several hours.
MATT: You emerge a little over an hour or so of doing this. You emerge from the top. You watch as Keyleth (rock impacts), looking like a large version of Fantastic Four’s Thing.
LAURA: I’m holding my rope for her. You don’t–- okay.
MATT: It appears to be taken care of. All of the entrances have been collapsed. There’s no way that you can imagine any average person can find their way into this.
LAURA: Good job. Are you going to stay that way, or are you turning back into you so that I can get you on the broom?
MARISHA: (guttural noise of agreement)
LAURA: You can still talk, right? You just sound low.
MARISHA: (guttural gibberish) I speak a different language that I still don’t think anyone has–
MATT: You can–- you maintain your mental acuity and statistics when you’re in there.
MARISHA: I don’t know. We’ve gone back and forth on it!
TALIESIN: It never occurred to you to speak Common. Why would I do that?
MATT: The texture and timbre of your voice. You can hear words, but it’s almost like words being made by slamming rocks together.
MARISHA: Not that different from my normal speech.
LIAM: I won’t bore you with the details, but while all that was going on, while they were searching and they were destroying things, Vax wandered a hundred feet out and sat down and did a little talking to the mother of ravens, and basically said, not expecting an answer: This is it, isn’t it?
MATT: Make a wisdom check.
LIAM: Not good. 13.
MATT: 13? That’s enough. As you sit there in silence with your eyes closed, beseeching the attention of your patron, which seemingly wasn’t present when you attempted to in the proximity of this doorway. The familiar soft, omnipresent voice creeps into your psyche as she tells you, “It seems that the bender of fate is feeling the tug of destiny. It’s almost as if you’re coming towards me. If you sense this path is the right one, follow your instincts. Perhaps we’ll meet soon enough.”
LIAM: I will see you soon.
MATT: All right. So you guys reconvene.
LAURA: Hey, guys. How’s it going?
LIAM: Hey, guys!
LAURA: What should we do?
TRAVIS: You should try the local fruit. It’s delicious.
ASHLEY: Yeah, you guys should try it.
TALIESIN: I pick up a piece of the local fruit and smell it.
MATT: How do I describe the smell? It’s reminiscent of discovering old lemon juice that has grown sticky on a surface, like a dark mahogany wood surface. Kind of like a bar floor. We’ll go with that.
TALIESIN: No, I don’t think I will.
TRAVIS: It belies its true flavor.
TALIESIN: I don’t think it does.
MARISHA: This looks like it’s rotten from the landscape. It looks like it’s all gone bad. Has it gone bad?
MATT: Make a nature check.
TRAVIS: Oh, great.
MATT: No. There are elements that have gone bad on the ground and have been covered by sand as winds blow through.
TALIESIN: Naturally awful.
MATT: It’s like desert noni. It’s extremely healthy and has a lot of practical medicinal use. In fact, it’s traded specifically for its use in various herb pouches.
MARISHA: Does it have a name?
LIAM: Like that giant, stinking flower. Grog took a bite of the giant, stinking flower.
MATT: A vafall fruit.
MARISHA: A what?
TALIESIN: Did it alter Grog’s stats on any level?
TALIESIN: Then it’s not that healthy, is it? It’s like agave.
MATT: Listen to Sam. He’s got the pronunciation.
LIAM: I will eat you with a lovely chianti and some vafall.
ASHLEY: Should we take some, then?
LAURA: Make some medicine?
TALIESIN: You could try to bake with it. Maybe it’s bakeable.
MARISHA: It makes a really good salve. It’s good for sunburns.
LIAM: Or shoving in somebody’s bed.
TRAVIS: How do we get back to Whitestone?
TALIESIN: Is there a tree that this fruit was coming off of?
TALIESIN: I point at the tree.
MATT: The ones on the outskirts of the mountain range are small, but the deeper into the valleys and ravines between the large spire-like mountains, you do find a few that are probably large enough to utilize through your spell.
MARISHA: Yeah, I can do that.
LAURA: Tary, are you coming back to Whitestone?
SAM: I have to, yes. I have to repair Doty, and also find some new recruits. I think there are some in Whitestone, right?
TALIESIN: You’re really going through with this?
SAM: Of course. It’s my destiny. I met you all to become an adventurer, and now I’m bringing my knowledge back to my people. It’s like it was written in a book.
LAURA: A very good book.
TRAVIS: Yeah, you’re writing a book!
SAM: I am.
ASHLEY: And not only that, you’re going to be the leader of a band of adventurers.
TRAVIS: Are you a colonel, a general, a private?
SAM: I hadn’t thought of that. You know what? There’s no leader of Vox Machina, so maybe there won’t be in the Darrington Brigade. Well, besides you. You’re unofficially–- you’re definitely the treasurer.
LIAM: I’m behind her doing this.
TRAVIS: Yeah, rolling eyes.
MATT: His mouth is filled with fruit.
LAURA: Is it good? How are you doing?
MATT: “It’s getting really heavy. This is really heavy.”
LAURA: Yeah. Are you coming back to Whitestone, as well? Scanlan, I mean Aes– is he coming back?
SAM: I suppose we’ll need him for now, yes.
TALIESIN: I still like the idea of perhaps the two of you working together. You could talk to Scanlan about it and see if he’d be all right–-
TALIESIN: I’m never going to get bored of this. I’m never going to get bored of this!
LIAM: Scanlan, what do you think?
TRAVIS: That was a fucking awesome physical reaction.
LIAM: At least in the short term.
SAM: You’re suggesting that I, Scanlan Shorthalt, bequeath my employee Chod to this gentleman here?
You mean me, Taryon Darrington? You mean Chod could join my brigade?
Well, yes. I guess that’s what they’re talking about.
Well, I don’t see why not. He’s very capable and strong.
Yes, and I won’t have much use for him for a while, so if you’d like to take him with your brigade, you can.
Well, I’m not going to say no to a fellow member of Vox Machina now, am I?
No, you’re not.
No, I’m not.
MATT: “I don’t see any similarities.”
TALIESIN: That’s everything I wanted. I’m good.
LAURA: Through the tree, then?
MARISHA: Through the tree.
MATT: All right, so as you finish concentrating on the outside of one of these large, 15 to 20-foot-tall, leafless, fruit-bearing trees in the center of the Smouldercrown Forest, the doorway shifts open, revealing on the opposite side the dark, sunless night of Whitestone.
MARISHA: I pick a blossom from the tree on the way out.
LIAM: I pull two of the fruits.
MATT: Okay. You guys arrive. It’s early evening. You can see the windows of nearby homes, shops, and various structures near the square are beginning to glow from the interior light of small lanterns and candles. In the distance, you can see the perimeter beacons being put along the castle walls on the exterior of Castle Whitestone. You’re back home.
LAURA: Let’s gather our troops.
TALIESIN: Make thy way to the castle.
LAURA: Find out what they’ve learned.
MATT: All right. At which point, Lionel keeps asking, “Can I put him down yet? Can I put him down?”
SAM: Not quite yet.
TALIESIN: We’re going to take him to the castle.
SAM: Change arms.
MATT: “Ooh! That helps a lot.” You make your way to the castle. Doty’s delivered to the workshop. Taryon?
SAM: Stays there.
TALIESIN: We’ll keep you informed.
SAM: Thank you.
MATT: All right, so you guys now have the run of the castle. What do you wish to do?
LAURA: We asked Cassandra to gather people to study the Shadowfell as soon as we did the oracle arrow last time, so it would probably be smart to find out what they’ve learned before we make our plans.
MATT: Okay. As you approach Cassandra, at this hour, she currently has a recently steeped, still-steaming cup of tea resting on the table, towards the window side, the front window side, of the general dining hall area of the castle where you usually eat your supper. She’s facing away from the table and has a thick robe over her and has the tea and is in the process of reading through books. Her hair’s pulled up tightly, and some of it’s a mess in front of her face. She’s very much in work mode. She’s poring through books, and as soon as you enter, she reaches over for her cup of tea. “Oh. Hello, everyone.” She gets herself a little more presentable. “I’ve got the assistance of Eskil Ryndarien. Everyone else seems to be a bit busy at the moment, but Allura "is doing the best she can research on her end, as well.”
TALIESIN: We’re going to need everybody. It’s worse than we could have imagined.
LAURA: And we have far less time than we would have imagined.
MATT: “How much time do we have?”
TALIESIN: This has to be taken care of immediately.
LIAM: Things are happening now.
MATT: “Well, you have far better means of acquiring these people than I do. I can merely send missives and requests.”
TALIESIN: We’re going to send word out. I’m going to take out my flask and put it on the table. Sit down for a moment.
MATT: She takes it and adds it to her tea.
LAURA: Is Ryndarien here?
MATT: “He is. He’s currently inspecting the ziggurat again. He’s setting his notes up where he previously set up research quarters during the incursion of the Conclave.”
LAURA: We need to get everyone away from it.
MARISHA: Where’s Allura?
MATT: “She’s in Emon. She’s still part of the council there.”
TALIESIN: We have to get her here immediately.
LIAM: Is Gilmore still in town?
MATT: “No, he’s back in Emon.”
LIAM: He left for good?
LAURA: I’m going to run down to the ziggurat and try to get Eskil Ryndarien away from it and warn everyone to stay away from it.
TALIESIN: Let’s double-check that armor for any weird influences it may have, to make sure it is what it seems to be, which is ornamental, with a bit of magic. Let’s make sure that the captain of whatever guard is on shift down by the ziggurat is wearing it, and is aware that he’s there to befuddle the enemy.
MATT: Okay. You make your way down there, and you can see it’s still fairly dark in that chamber. Most of the lights have been snuffed except for a few torches that are set around the central platform that was built about mid-height on the ziggurat, where you guys had the council meeting with Raishan that one time, and where most of the research is being done there. Up top, you see a number of guards, the Pale Guard are assigned to keep watch. You see Jecht, the manservant of the Realmseer Eskil there, as well. Currently, you see Eskil Ryndarien is spreading out his thick scrolls and books, and they’re all across the big central wooden table, and he has his thick spectacles on, and he has a number of candles already set up, and he’s deep into getting his space prepped and acquiring whatever information he’d put away since the investigation was put on hold.
MATT: “Yes? Oh, it has been some time, Lady Vex'ahlia. I’ve heard you’ve come up in the world.”
LAURA: Oh, yes. I’m a lady now.
MATT: “Wondrous. Yes. What do I have the honor?”
LAURA: Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m afraid being down here isn’t safe anymore.
MATT: “Right, so you brought me all the way out here, and now I can’t do my work? That’s great. No, that’s par for the course. It’s basically most of my life.”
LAURA: Plenty of work up top, away from this orb of death. It’s very dangerous.
MATT: “Oh! You’re right. I didn’t know that. I’ve only spent six months with the thing!”
LAURA: We’ve discovered it’s a gateway, and things can come through it, and there might be armies coming through because we just fought somebody on the other side of another ziggurat.
MATT: “That’s preposterous. Siphons only work one way, my dear. Nothing’s coming through there.”
LAURA: She changed it. Did you know that siphons can be changed? It changed from one color to another.
MATT: “You know this how?”
LAURA: Because I was there to witness it.
MATT: “What, here?”
LAURA: In Ank'harel. And it looks the exact same as this one.
MATT: He looks you over really intensely. “If what you believe you saw is indeed another one of these siphons, then perhaps we should take a little more care.”
LAURA: I agree.
MATT: “Jecht, please continue. Gather everything. We’re taking this outside.”
LAURA: Fabulous. You’re so agreeable. I do love talking to you.
MATT: “Wonderful. Good to know. Goodbye.” They gather up the materials. The Pale Guard escorts them back into the hallway, and he’s now talking to Jecht off on the side. He goes, “Well, then we can go ahead and stage ourselves in the grand guestroom with the nice big bed. Yes?”
LAURA: The big ornate bed.
MATT: He looks over his shoulder as you say this. “Oh, you’re eavesdropping now, as well. That’s wondrous.”
LAURA: I have wonderful hearing.
MATT: “So I can tell. Yes, the big bed. The one that helps with my back.”
LAURA: Yes, that’s terrible. Can you look at this armor really fast and make sure that it’s not actually cursed or anything?
MATT: “Looks fine to me!” Keeps walking.
LAURA: Was it cursed, or anything, when you looked at it?
SAM: I don’t know.
MATT: Did not appear to be cursed from your glance at it.
LAURA: Would he have known from the Identify spell if it was cursed? Great. Well.
MARISHA: Can Keyleth go talk to Percy?
TALIESIN: I’m in Cassandra’s room, still.
MARISHA: Keyleth waits for Percy. Hang on. I can go talk with Cassandra, as well.
MATT: Unless you’re having a closed conversation.
TALIESIN: Just ten seconds of it. We’ll see how this goes. Have a bit of that flask.
MATT: She’s already poured some into her tea.
TALIESIN: We’ve found a second ziggurat. We found a cult that is moving things through it. The cult was being led by Delilah Briarwood.
MATT: The silence, the stark absence of sound, is completely sundered by the sound of shattering porcelainware. The tea that she had recently barely sipped on is now shattered and spilled across the ground. She stands there, her hand open as it slowly curls back. She stares off into the distance, clenching her fist very tightly.
TALIESIN: She escaped into the ziggurat, so she’s no longer on this plane of existence, but some form of her, whether it’s undead or otherwise, we’re going to need to put it down again.
MATT: “Yes, we do.”
TALIESIN: I wanted you to hear it from me. There will be no running this time.
MATT: “No running.”
TALIESIN: Not from me.
MATT: “But you’ll take care of her?”
TALIESIN: This is the end of her. I will be there to see it.
MATT: “She’s escaped death once already. Who knows how many times she has before. You have to end it.”
TALIESIN: We will discover what she did.
MATT: “Don’t destroy her body. Destroy everything she is.”
TALIESIN: If we can’t kill her, we will entrap her forever.
MATT: “Shatter the soul. Whatever it takes. End her, brother.”
TALIESIN: I know. I shall.
MATT: She takes the flask.
TALIESIN: I wanted you to hear it from me so you could compose yourself when other people begin to tell you.
MATT: “I need a moment alone, please.”
TALIESIN: They’re going to need us to be the strongest. I have faith in you. I’ll leave you to it. I’m so sorry.
MATT: “I’m going to be sick.”
TALIESIN: Yes. I’m going to leave her to her room and shut the door.
MATT: You close the door and there in the hallway, waiting opposite the door, is Keyleth.
MARISHA: How did that go?
TALIESIN: Honestly, better than I expected.
MATT: At which point, you hear behind the door, a muffled (retching).
TALIESIN: More sick and less things breaking. I’d rather her be sick than angry.
MARISHA: You think? I hate being sick. Anger at least drives you towards something.
TALIESIN: It does not drive de Rolos towards anything good.
MARISHA: Fair point. I have a crazy thought, and I needed to run by you. Sorry, didn’t mean to hit you. Okay. I’m excited. All right. We watched the orb change. She changed the magic in the orb, right? We just spent a year making magical orbs that change in some way, that are all linked to our city. Clearly, not as powerful as what this is.
TALIESIN: No, not at all.
MARISHA: But what if– -I don’t know. What if she corrupted something that was already there that wasn’t supposed to be corrupted? What if she can corrupt more things, like our crisis orbs? I had this immediate fear that what if I built something that was supposed to help–-
TALIESIN: I’m so glad you thought of me when this came up.
MARISHA: Well, you helped me build it. Am I crazy for thinking it? Am I totally off base?
TALIESIN: I think we’re going to be walking a very fine line of paranoia for the next however long.
MARISHA: Maybe there’s something in our own technology, in our own magic, that can help inform us. I don’t know.
TALIESIN: When they get here, we’re going to look at everything.
MARISHA: All right. We’ll sleep on it.
TALIESIN: I think we’re going to be fine, but you did give me some ideas that I’m going to think about.
MARISHA: And those symbols. The necklaces. Druids, we use similar things when we plane shift to other worlds.
TALIESIN: I’m going to take one to the library and inspect it. I’m going to also see what any of our other arcanists think of it. If it’s from a cult that anybody has heard of before.
MARISHA: I think I can plane shift us there with it if we don’t want to go through the orb.
MARISHA: I think. It seems like very similar technology. Magic.
TALIESIN: I’m rubbing off on you.
MARISHA: Yeah. I don’t know. Sleep on it. I’m going to go think.
TALIESIN: I have no idea what just happened. Yeah. I’m going to double-check the orb room just for a moment, for my own paranoia.
MARISHA: The crisis orb room? Actually, I’ll go with him.
TALIESIN: Just to look, and then I’m going to start researching that symbol. I’m going to go to the library and I’m showing the council everything.
MATT: Okay. You speak with the rest of the standing chamber. You begin to do your research. Make a history check.
MARISHA: Oh, that’s good! Take it.
MATT: 22. You’ve read through most of the books here, between you and JB, who’s spent some time also reading quite a bit. There’s no mention of the symbol itself, and there’s very little information on the Whispered One, on Vecna. It’s interesting: there’s almost a gap in history. There are subtle mentions of this figure, this once-powerful mage that had begun to look into the secrets of life, prolonging it. The fabric of reality. And then it’s just missing from history. And you recall… all the books that would cover that time period, you remember hearing stories from Allura regarding the Whispered One, originally. There’s no mention.
TALIESIN: Is it a physical omission from the books, or is it even that the books that would cover it are not here? Books that should cover it that don’t?
MATT: Books that you feel like should cover it. Historical recalling of Wildemount, which if you recall, based on some of Allura’s discussion on the Whispered One’s previous existence as a mortal, largely, Vecna’s work was done over on the Wildemount side of Exandria.
TALIESIN: And there’s no–
MARISHA: Bitch! Sorry. Go on.
TALIESIN: I don’t know what’s happening over here.
MATT: I don’t, either.
TALIESIN: There’s nothing that’s simple. Like, the more I’m looking, I’m looking for mention of the symbols–
TALIESIN: Keyleth, you know damn well where I am right now, I’m sitting in the library reading books, so if you have something to say. Oh, wow, you’re going way back.
MARISHA: I’m looking. I’ll meet you in the library.
SAM: How to Play Pathfinder.
TALIESIN: Is that Hercules Mulligan?
MARISHA: This is a tiny Hercules Mulligan. I was looking for him! He’s been in here the whole time.
LIAM: Delilah gets knocked out, she gets the fuck back up again!
TALIESIN: Four set of corsets.
MATT: He’s a barbarian, I think it is. We have to work out the 5e classes for the Hamilton characters. Get on it, Critters.
TALIESIN: I’ll let everyone know where I am, too. I’m in the library reading if anybody needs me.
MATT: Anyone else wishing to accomplish anything else?
TRAVIS: I’m in the kitchen. I want to see if they can make a salad with meat in it.
TALIESIN: If they figure out how, bring some up to the library.
TRAVIS: Okay, I’m not very up to–-
TALIESIN: Deposit it up.
MATT: Grand Poobah, if this is indeed your request, they will do their very best to do so. Within an hour or so, you are presented with a bowl of various textures of shredded, cured, and prepared meats to loosely resemble a salad, I guess.
TALIESIN: A malad!
MATT: It’s like a giant poke bowl.
SAM: It’s not a salad with meat on it, it’s a salad made of meat?
LIAM: Thin slices.
TRAVIS: This is far greater than anything I could have hoped for.
TALIESIN: Previously, on Hannibal.
TRAVIS: Did you invent this just now?
MATT: You look at the wait staff and they, “Actually, sir, it was Chef Varon.” You look over and you see this one, and you’ve seen a couple of the chefs here, you haven’t interfaced with them too much. You’re not a social figure necessarily, more of a demanding figure when it comes to the food and the meal. But you see this gentleman with this thin John Waters pencil mustache, this thinning hair that’s short, but slick, with a bit of pattern baldness going on. He’s a bit thick around the waist and he’s sitting there with a big, beaming grin of pride.
TRAVIS: Chef, this is going to put you on the map. We need to name it.
MATT: “Oh, well, Grand Poobah, I image that would be your honor to give. I am but humbled to present you with such a meal, so the choice is yours.”
TRAVIS: What fine tender meats are in this dish?
MATT: “Oh, well, we’ve got quite a variety. I wanted to provide an extravagant walk through the various creatures that we prepare here in Whitestone. Would you like me to continue?”
TRAVIS: Please, yes! I’m talking to myself.
MATT: “We have two-week salted goat meat. On top of that we have hickory-kept long angle-smoked fish guts mixed in there with a wondrous mix of minced steaks, we’ve spared no possible expense on the various pieces of the cow. We’ve, from that point forward, presented a sprinkling of pork belly that’s been ground up and salt-cured as well over the period of about two months usually kept to our various steam meals, but I thought this was a special occasion.”
TRAVIS: I’m just free-dripping saliva in and on the plate.
MATT: “So, it has a very sedimentary layers of the planet-type feel to it where each reveal occurs it’s a whole different genus of animal. You’re eating nature in a bowl!”
TRAVIS: I mean, did you even, like, salt it or nothing? It’s just all these beautiful animals in my own private ark of a bowl?
MATT: “They came salted.”
TRAVIS: Well, because it’s got goat, fish, beef, and pork in it I’m going to call it the GoFiBePo.
MATT: “GoFiBePo it is.”
TRAVIS: But, like, you seem to have an accent, so let’s put a little flair on it when you say it. The bowl of GoFiBePo.
TRAVIS: I like it.
MATT: “Of course, Grand Poobah.”
TRAVIS: And I must decree there will be no utensils used when you dine of this sublime dish.
MATT: He begins writing these things down. “All right, all right. You would need approval from Lady Cassandra, of course, to put this in the familial-–”
MATT: “Well, if you were to make this the official meal of Whitestone, that is entirely within–”
TRAVIS: This just gets better and better. Submit whatever paperwork is necessary. See that it’s done.
MATT: “You heard him, folks! Grand Poobah has spoken.”
TRAVIS: Even better. And I’ll just start hand-smashing into my face this delicious salted meat collection.
LAURA: I’m hungry now.
MATT: Yeah. Oh, it is delightful. It is delicious.
TRAVIS: You should not be able to make up food that delicious just on the fly like that. I literally felt like I was at a fucking restaurant. That was absurd.
LAURA: I want to eat it!
TALIESIN: As I was saying ‘Grand Poobah’, I knew it was going to bite me in the ass. I don’t know how.
TRAVIS: Meat salad. You’re welcome.
TALIESIN: It actually sounds really good. Cured goat meat.
MATT: And it’s currently being submitted to the senate of Whitestone for approval to become the official dish.
TRAVIS: Yeah! After every battle, we’ll get all the protein we need and we’ll just fart our happy asses off, all night long.
LIAM: It’s all shabu-shabu from here on out.
MATT: Yeah. With a constitution check it might improve your speed. All right. So. What else do you wish to do, as it is now getting close to the midnight hour here at Whitestone?
ASHLEY: I’ve been an extra set of eyes in the library.
MARISHA: Yeah, and I call Vex there as well.
LAURA: Be there in just a moment, dear. I just want to find Vax. Can I find Vax?
LIAM: You can certainly try.
LAURA: I’m going to go look–- I’ll look in his room and then I’ll look in the temple to the Raven Queen that we have.
LIAM: I’m in my room.
LIAM: Kiki, is that–- Oh.
LAURA: Oh. Well. No. Hi. That’s gross.
LIAM: Is it, though? Is it?
LAURA: Is it? Hey. One quick thing that I was thinking about, and I know that you keep bringing it up and I keep dodging this, right?
LAURA: But-– So, when I was researching the Raven Queen--
LAURA: --she hates undead.
LIAM: That’s kind of her thing, yeah.
LAURA: So the fact that Delilah Briarwood is back again and the person that we’re going after, it seems perfect.
LIAM: Almost like fate, isn’t it?
LAURA: Do you think your queen lady is going to chime in there and help us out? Maybe end this cycle of whatever the fuck it is she’s doing.
LIAM: She will be there.
LAURA: In the Shadowfell?
LIAM: She will be with us when we reach the end.
LAURA: That’s so cryptic.
LIAM: Well, it is religion.
LIAM: I mean, like Pike has always said, I don’t have all the answers at all.
LAURA: No. I mean, do you talk to her, though? Because, you know, Pike talks to Sarenrae.
LIAM: I do.
LAURA: Right! So have you asked her if she’s going to help us kill Delilah Briarwood?
LIAM: You know, she’s not very big on specifics. It’s more of a vibe kind of thing.
LIAM: But the vibe I get, I’m not going to call it good. This is it. This is what you and I have been doing our homework for.
LAURA: All right.
LIAM: And it’s not going to slow down, it’s only going to speed up.
LIAM: I don’t think I’m going back to Zephra anytime soon.
LAURA: Not necessarily. Don’t talk like that. I’m serious. You have to keep a positive outlook. Otherwise you’re doomed.
LIAM: This is the best year of my life. I’m very happy.
LAURA: That’s good.
LIAM: Life is good.
LAURA: Life is good.
LIAM: We’re going to ensure that it stays that way.
LAURA: Yeah. All right.
LIAM: Sorry I didn’t have more for you.
LAURA: No no no! It’s about what I expected.
LIAM: Hmm. If you see my druid, would you send her to bed?
LIAM: Thank you.
LAURA: Good night.
LIAM: Good night.
LAURA: And I go to the library.
MATT: Now, Percival, Keyleth. Pike, I believe you’re helping out in the library as well?
TALIESIN: We’re literally reading through old notes right now.
MARISHA: A fuckton of old notes.
MATT: Well, Vex arrives to meet up with you guys in the library of Whitestone. Whatever you’re doing, Scanlan, I don’t know.
MARISHA: Okay. Oh my gosh. Oh. Okay. Oh, praise Sarenrae, there’s so much going on. Okay. Remember how Whitestone used to be all dead and awful? Very similar to how the other Ziggurat was dead?
TALIESIN: Yes, of course.
MARISHA: And then they called the ziggurat the seat of Pelor, right? So what if it was already there? What if she’s taking doorways and dimensions and corrupting them and bastardizing them and–-
LAURA: If she’s done that, if she did that to the Sun Tree, how old is Delilah Briarwood?
TALIESIN: Well, we don’t–
MATT: The Sun Tree has been around since before–-
TALIESIN: The Sun Tree was here before the castle was here, but– And things have always happened here. The city has a history of strange occurrences. I’m inclined to believe there was something–- Well, there was obviously something beneath the castle before she got here, or else she wouldn’t have come here to begin with.
LAURA: It was a temple to Ioun.
MATT: The history, you know, is back in the Age of Arcanum, this valley housed a temple to Ioun, which was corrupted, and in the Calamity, the battle between the gods and mortals that changed the epoch, the Knowing Mistress suffered a grievous wound from Tharizdun, the Chained Oblivion. And in that battle, Pelor, the Dawn Father, delivered enough of a blow to the Chained Oblivion to defeat it and aid in locking it away. With the temple still lost beneath this valley, that was when the Sun Tree seed was planted by Pelor to be guardian over this space.
MARISHA: What was he locking away?
MATT: A god called the Chained Oblivion.
MARISHA: The Chain Oblivion?
MATT: The Chained Oblivion. Tharizdun. Yeah. A mad god of chaos and destruction.
LIAM: Totally awesome metal band.
TRAVIS: Yeah, great name.
MARISHA: Okay, well, that’s a big deal.
TALIESIN: And, I mean, I think it’s safe to assume that that’s what’s down there and that’s what they were looking for when they came here in the first place.
MARISHA: And Delilah came from Wildemount?
TALIESIN: Yes. She was also, I mean–
MARISHA: You did a bunch of research on Vecna. He used to be a man, right?
TALIESIN AND LAURA: Yes.
LAURA: He wanted to become the Prince of the Undead, right? Am I saying that right? No no no.
MATT: From what you’ve come to understand and the research you’ve done since the name has come up–
TALIESIN: I’m pulling out my notes.
LIAM: We spent a year reading books.
MATT: Right. Now mind you, the information is still very hard to find.
LAURA: Because he’s the god of secrets?
MATT: He’s not a god. Wants to be, or at least wants to, and there is some obsession with the ascension of a mortal to a beyond-mortal state. Which has only been achieved by one being before.
MARISHA: I mean, it sounds a lot like what Delilah is going for.
LAURA: What if she is Vecna?
MARISHA: What if she is Vecna?
TALIESIN: Well, or she wants to become the next Vecna.
MARISHA: Yeah. Dread Pirate Roberts of the Vecna. She came from Wildemount, where Vecna originated. She came here for research.
LAURA: She’s just finishing what he started.
MARISHA: Maybe she’s just finishing what he started. And wasn’t she doing a bunch of research for runes and tomes? Do we have the research that the Briarwoods–-Didn’t we seize a bunch of their research?
TALIESIN: We got some of it, but they burned a lot.
MATT: You got some of it and a lot of it dealt with ley energies. There are certain lines that stretch across, invisible lines that stretch across Exandria, where the magical powers that hold together the planes and protect it through the Divine Gate and other elements–-
MARISHA: Do any of those ley lines go through where we were in Marquet?
MATT: You don’t know that. But you do know that Whitestone resides right beneath a nexus. These ley lines were shifted during the Calamity. And now one of these nexuses is right over Whitestone, which is why this location was chosen for the ritual that the Briarwoods were assembling.
MARISHA: I wonder if each ziggurat is over a nexus.
TALIESIN: It could be. We know that she’s not ancient, because we have a bit of a paper trail. We do know that she was ruling in Wildemount for a while. We do know that she studied at the Alabaster Lyceum briefly. And there’s some paperwork for that.
MATT: In looking up the background history, you would know that King Bertrand Dwendal of the Dwendalian Empire was given information in regards to the Briarwoods, who were essentially accused of forbidden necromancy. And were to be arrested and put on trial, and that’s when they fled westward towards Tal'Dorei and then encountered your family.
LAURA: So they got run out of Wildemount?
TALIESIN: From what we understand and again, there’s not much that survived that. They tend to cover their tracks.
MARISHA: They were also trying to build that whole bridge situation? Remember the bridge? That was weird.
TALIESIN: They wanted to move. Well–
MARISHA: They wanted to move an army. Right?
MATT: The bridge, from what you can tell, there was no way, plans or means of even building a bridge. And a bridge has been attempted in the past over the Shearing Channel and it’s just too-- The cliffs are too steep and too windy and the water beneath is too strong. Which is why the prospect to the previous sovereign was such a possible good thing to make a deal with the Briarwoods at the time. But there are no plans. Nothing in their notes spoke of actually making a bridge. It was more a means to get into the graces of the royal family.
TALIESIN: And probably collect assets as well.
MARISHA: Okay. If you were run out of somewhere–-
TALIESIN: Which I have been.
MARISHA: Which you have been. After a lot of research–-
TALIESIN: Which I’ve done.
MARISHA: --and you were trying to do something–-
TALIESIN: Which I do.
MARISHA: --what would be your second place of choosing to go?
TALIESIN: Anywhere that they serve some sort of meat salad, I imagine.
MARISHA: I’m just saying, if you’re run out of one place for doing something, I imagine–-
TALIESIN: You’re thinking maybe they have another portal in Wildemount.
MARISHA: Yes, I do.
LAURA: Another ziggurat?
TALIESIN: Could be several of them.
MARISHA: If they are run out of one place for something, my first thing would be try to find the next place to keep it going.
LAURA: Right. And then she got run out of here, so she went to Ank'harel.
MARISHA: Correct. What if she’s already been killed in Wildemount? So many theories, you guys. So many theories! It’s kind of exciting.
TALIESIN: Let’s not get overly speculative here.
TRAVIS: Are ziggurats always pyramids?
LIAM: That’s what a ziggurat is. It’s like an Aztec bip-bip-bip.
MARISHA: We know the Briarwoods also did dealings with the Stormwinds in Wildemount.
LAURA: What other pyramids have we seen, though? Have we seen any other–
TRAVIS: The thing we fought the beholder in.
LAURA: The mindflayer place. That was a ziggurat.
MARISHA: Son of a bitch!
LAURA: Under Kraghammer! Oh my god! Is there a ziggurat in Kraghammer?
LIAM: Hell yeah there is a ziggurat. Yeah, it was a ziggurat.
MATT: You’ve seen a few, actually.
LIAM: I’m speaking in my voice because I’m not there, but he said–- Yeah, oh, he’s poker-facing it. We said ziggurat many times when we were down there.
MARISHA: Did we see a pyramid when we were in Wildemount? When we went there?
TALIESIN: We were barely there, though.
LAURA: But it would’ve been underground. I mean, who knows where the fuck it was? Wait, wait, wait! What about the temple where we saw the other sphinx? Was that another ziggurat there?
MARISHA: And that was up in Vasselheim! Thank you.
LAURA: Ah! Is there a ziggurat–
MARISHA: There’s a ziggurat on every continent! (singing) Every continent has a ziggurat.
LAURA: They can come out everywhere.
TRAVIS: So collapsing the tunnels didn’t really do that much.
TALIESIN: No, because it shut one potential vein of a dozen.
MARISHA: It’s these damn ley lines. I knew there’s been something up with these ley lines and I tried to talk to the Sun Tree about it and he didn’t know.
LAURA: Well, he’s a tree.
MARISHA: He’s a tree.
TALIESIN: Be nice to the Sun Tree.
MARISHA: No, he’s very cool.
TRAVIS: So all the bodies that were hanging under Whitestone, right, they were all stapled to the walls? Was that the army? Was she trying to fill them with necromantic energy?
TALIESIN: Oh my god, they would’ve come alive if there had been a giant blast of necrotic energy.
TRAVIS: Yeah. The bodies weren’t feeding the thing. She was trying to imbue them with-–
TALIESIN: She was preparing to create an army.
LIAM: Yeah. And they were missing arms?
LAURA: We didn’t look in the ziggurat in Ank'harel. There could’ve been bodies there, too.
TALIESIN: I don’t think they had gotten that far yet.
MARISHA: And one of the things I have written down.
TRAVIS: Why were they throwing magical things into it, though? It was magical items into–-
TALIESIN: Offerings? Because they would’ve become magical once they got to the other side of the portal. I mean, they would’ve been great gifts.
LIAM: What do you think, Taryon Darrington? Or Scanlan.
MATT: Tary is fixing Doty.
SAM: I’m just giving him CPR.
SAM: You’ve never given up on anything in your life. Now live!
LIAM: Ed Harris in The Abyss. You’ve never given up a day in your life, you bitch.
SAM: I’m in my room, praying.
LAURA: You’re not here?
MARISHA: In your room, praying?
LAURA: Praying to Sarenrae?
SAM: Mm-hm. Or Logic.
TALIESIN: Logic is a fickle god.
MARISHA: Yeah. Desmond (mumbles). Briarwood’s carriage driver. Lady Briarwood is immune to daylight.
TALIESIN: It’s like watching your game in fast-forward.
MARISHA: Briarwoods have an army. I have it in giant, big letters, but I don’t know what that means.
LAURA: Obviously, it would take a very long time to go to every ziggurat that we’ve seen and see if there’s an army inside of it. If they’ve been preparing things there over this past year that we haven’t been doing anything!
TRAVIS: We don’t know that any of this is right. We should just go through.
LAURA: We should go to the Shadowfell and fucking end this before she sets out her armies everywhere.
TRAVIS: We did let her regroup a little bit, but we didn’t know what we were doing.
TALIESIN: There was nothing we could have done.
TRAVIS: Do you want to mess with the stones? Try and duplicate them? We have seven, right?
LAURA: We have seven. We could go through.
TALIESIN: Seven of us could go through.
SAM: (whispering) We’re only seven people.
LAURA: There’s only seven of us.
TALIESIN: There’s eight. One of us would have to stay behind.
SAM: Who’s the eighth? Count the table, friend.
TRAVIS: Tary’s staying.
TALIESIN: Tary’s the eighth. Are we going to go through with Tary? I’m being such an asshole right now.
MATT: You’re terrible.
MARISHA: I could also maybe Plane Shift us there with one of these?
TRAVIS: If we take damage going through the portal with the stone, does that mean we might take damage if you Plane Shift us there?
LAURA: Who knows? It’s the Shadowfell.
TALIESIN: I say we speak with Allura, and if this looks–-
LAURA: We need to talk to Eskil Ryndarien and see what he knows about the Shadowfell, right? He’s been studying the Shadowfell, too.
MATT: Since he arrived, yeah.
TALIESIN: I think the plan is we take the fight to them.
LAURA and TRAVIS: Yeah.
MARISHA: Is it worth going back to any of the other ziggurats, or no?
LAURA: I don’t think so, at this point.
TALIESIN: I think that it’s not time to check the doors. It’s time to go out and chase the monsters. If we take care of them, it doesn’t matter how many ziggurats there are.
LAURA: We just have to–
TALIESIN: Hope we don’t miss one. Travel the world.
LAURA: Hey, at least Vecna’s not a god. Bonus there.
MARISHA: That’s true.
TALIESIN: Let’s have an evening, and then tomorrow, we’ll–
TALIESIN: Collect what we’ve learned, and if we’re prepared, jump into a sphere of death.
LAURA: We can’t waste time.
MARISHA: If we jump through the sphere of death, they might be expecting us on the other side of the sphere of death. If we Plane Shift, we might be able to come up with a flanky, secret, other tactic.
TALIESIN: If you can figure out a way to use one of these to create a Plane Shift that you’ll feel comfortable with, then I’m all right with that.
MARISHA: I’ll talk it over with other magic-users, first.
TRAVIS: Which ones?
MARISHA: I don’t know. I’ll find one.
LIAM: We can go visit one of them. I’m not there.
MATT: You’re not there.
TRAVIS: Make the call.
MARISHA: Eskil knows stuff like that.
TALIESIN: Let’s all get some sleep, and in the morning, we’re going to take care of this. One way or the other, we’ll take this fight to them.
LAURA: You’ll talk to Eskil, because I hate that motherfucker.
TALIESIN: He likes you. Well, he doesn’t dislike you any more than he dislikes anybody else.
MARISHA: He dislikes you even less. He just hates everyone.
TALIESIN: He’s terrible, isn’t he?
LAURA: Crotchety old fuck.
MATT: All right, so you’re all going to go in for the evening, and we’ll come back to this in the morning.
LIAM: Wait. One second.
MATT: Sorry, go ahead.
LIAM: Did you guys–
MARISHA: Oh my gosh. We figured out so much stuff.
LIAM: Give me the download.
MARISHA: Delilah might be Vecna, and all this, there are ziggurats everywhere, and we’re so dumb because we’ve probably seen several ziggurats, and they’re all on these massive ley lines, and I give him a whole dialogue.
LIAM: Holy moly. Do you need to get word back home? Because I don’t think we’re going home.
MARISHA: What do you mean?
LIAM: I mean, the dreams I’ve been having all year and telling you about. They felt like this. This is the moment.
MARISHA: You think if we go in, we’re never coming back?
LIAM: I’m not saying that.
MARISHA: You think if we go in, you’re never coming back?
LIAM: Well, I didn’t say that, either. We were going to go back in a day or two, and I don’t think that’s happening. Do you think everyone at home, they’re good?
MARISHA: I’ll have someone send a message.
MARISHA: You can’t resign to this. You can’t give up on me.
LIAM: Kiki, I’m not giving up. I will never give up on you.
MARISHA: I can see it in your eyes. You think this is it.
LIAM: I’m so glad that we’re together for this, whatever it is. And no, I’m not resigned. I would love to see you off to a very long life in Zephra. No, with you. With you, until I’m not with you. Your dad’s probably worrying. I worry about him worrying about you, that’s all.
MARISHA: Really? Everything going on right now, and you’re worried about my dad? Typical boyfriend, I guess. That’s fair.
LIAM: You know, I am so anxious right now, and the only thing that is going to distract me is all your fucking freckles, so come to bed, all right? Come on.
MARISHA: Promise me you’ll come back with me, no matter what.
LIAM: I promise.
MARISHA: Even if it doesn’t happen, just promise.
LIAM: Well, that’s an easy promise to make. I promise.
MARISHA: I just need you to believe it.
LIAM: I believe. Get the fuck in this bed.
MATT: Okay, so you all find your evening’s rest, preparing for the next morning in whatever means you wish to prepare for. We’re going to take a break. We’ll be back here in a few minutes to pick up this next length of the journey and see where it takes us. We’re giving away on the break a Purpleheart dice box from Wyrmwood.
LIAM: That’s the most beautiful one.
LAURA and ASHLEY: The Scanlan wood!
MATT: Get that Scanlan wood!
LIAM: I mean, the Gabon ebony is really nice, but the Purpleheart–
SAM: Did you say gay-bone?
LIAM: It’s the Gabon. Gabon?
MATT: Yes, so for that contest you need to come over to Twitch chat, and I’ve actually forgotten what word we chose for today.
MATT: (laughs) What was the word? Thank you. Whisper. The word is whisper. So go ahead and when prompted, enter “whisper” into the chat room to enter, and we’ll come back after the break to announce who the lucky winner is. We’ll see you guys in a few minutes.
MATT: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Critical Role. Oh god, they’re closer now. I’m starting to rethink this scenario.
LIAM: Life comes at you fast, Matt.
MATT: That it does, apparently. Anyway, welcome back.
LAURA: I think that was the best one I’ve ever heard, though, Ashley. That was a really good one.
MATT: You may fight one later.
MATT: So as you guys rested for the evening and found yourself the following morning, presenting the possibility of making your way into the Shadowfell and what waits for you there. You come to consciousness, you have your morning meal, you begin to plot and plan. What do you wish to do?
MARISHA: Go find Eskil.
LAURA: Go find Eskil. Somebody else is going to go find out from him, right?
MATT: He’s actually eating out in the garden. He has one of the little tables set out there. It’s a nice morning out in Whitestone right now. It’s chilly, but the clouds have broken a bit. You can see some blue skies; a little bit of sun’s breaking through. He’s out there with Jecht, his associate, who’s in the process of cutting his food for him while Eskil’s sitting there, still looking through books and occasionally reaching over and plucking things from his plate to eat. As you approach him, he doesn’t even look up. He goes, “Yes? What do you require?”
MARISHA: Good morning.
MATT: “Good morning to you, as well, I suppose.”
MARISHA: Lovely weather today, isn’t it?
MATT: “It is weather, yes.”
MARISHA: So! How’s the research on the Shadowfell going?
MATT: “It’s done. I’ve researched it. I don’t know what you require.”
MARISHA: All of it. All of the research?
MATT: “As much as is in the tomes I have at my disposal, yes.”
MARISHA: Anything we should know? Anything important? Fill us in a little bit? Spark Notes?
MATT: “It’s a plane of negative energy, and elements of it are used to funnel the transition of souls from life to death or back. A number of it is scourged by undeath and those that skirt that process. It exists as a mirror plane, much like the Feywild. There are elements that resemble Exandria, but twisted, shifted. It is a very barren, very broken, dust-filled, dark– not a very pleasant place, really.”
LIAM: And chock-full of undead, you said?
MATT: “Elements of it, yes.”
MARISHA: Used to transport souls? Give me a second.
LIAM: Sorry, she carries this book around. She’s very precise with her notes.
MATT: “Good. You should be. Precision is recommended.”
MARISHA: Okay. I’m going to show him the necklace that we found. This seems to have a slight magical attunement to the Shadowfell. Do you think I could use this as a plane-shifting device?
MATT: “It would need some alteration. It’s possible. Very careful alteration. You need it to be a very narrow fork in order to properly channel the spell, and this does not quite match the proper division of magical energies. It could be physically altered to do so, but too much and you ruin the minor enchantment and attunement.”
MARISHA: All right. That’s very good to know.
LIAM: But doable?
MARISHA: With how much time?
MATT: “I don’t know. I’m no metalworker. I imagine not too much.”
MARISHA: Okay. Are you able to send messages? You have Sending, yeah?
MATT: He leans back, looking slightly offended. “I have means to communicate with individuals of importance, yes.”
MARISHA: Just wondering if you could tell my dad that I might be gone for a long time?
MATT: “I have absolutely no interest in any of what you just said.”
MARISHA: I’d really owe you one, Eskil. Just a quick message?
MATT: “I’m not a messenger service for individuals’ parental units.”
LIAM: Well, we are potentially going to throw ourselves at the greatest evil that this world has ever known, in the hopes that the entire world can survive, so that’s a big favor. That’s a big gimme for you. So maybe in exchange for that, you could send a little message.
MARISHA: Just to my dad to let him know that I might die attempting to–
MATT: “Who’s your father?”
MARISHA: Korren of the Ashari, who is one of the headmasters.
MATT: “Right, of the wind people. Whatever. Right, okay.”
LIAM: Who is your daddy, and what does he do?
MATT: He thinks for a second. Begins to run his finger in the air, and you watch as there’s a faint scrolling of soft bluish-white light. (poof) Turns to smoke and vanishes. “All right, he knows you’re going to be off doing stuff in the Shadowfell and probably won’t be back for a while.”
MARISHA: Thank you.
MATT: “You’re welcome.”
MARISHA: Can we maybe borrow your research notes on the Shadowfell? Is that a thing? No? (sighs)
MARISHA: Thank you.
LIAM: Seriously, thank you.
MARISHA: Thank you.
MATT: “You’re welcome. I will call into this favor later.”
MARISHA: Sure. You know where to find us. What?
MARISHA: All right. Enjoy your tea and biscuits.
MATT: “I will.”
MARISHA: Thanks, Eskil.
LIAM: Are they sweet or savory?
MATT: “They’re delicious.”
LIAM: I grab one.
MATT: (frustrated noise)
LAURA: While that was going on, is that caravan still in town that was coming through? We’ve only been gone a day.
MATT: It’s still in town.
LAURA: Are there any fancy fucking chalices that I could fucking buy for a Heroes’ Feast?
LIAM: Whitestone is made of fancy chalices, isn’t it, Percy?
TALIESIN: We have a chalice room.
MATT: I will say, if you’re spending a good portion of the morning going around, asking. Being your charismatic self and well-versed in gathering information in a marketplace, you do find two chalices for sale that would match the specifications required to cast a Heroes’ Feast.
TALIESIN: Hey. Do you want to buy a chalice?
MATT: “The finest chalices this side of Wildemount. It’s crazy.”
TALIESIN: Sipping cups. What do you need?
LIAM: One of them is super gauche.
MATT: “This one has an anti-dribble chinnage. For all those nights you’re drinking too hard and you don’t want to spill all over your front pouch?”
LAURA: Do you have a sippy cup lid, though?
MATT: “That will cost you extra.”
LAURA: How much?
MATT: “Five gold, for the sippy cup.”
SAM: Is this fancy enough for a Heroes’ Feast?
LAURA: How much for the cup?
MATT: “Each cup, because these traveled quite a bit. They’ll bring you about 1,200 gold pieces.”
LAURA: 1,200 gold pieces.
MARISHA: Apiece, or total?
LIAM: Why is the school crossing guard from my hometown in New Jersey in Whitestone right now?
MATT: “Hey, you think I haven’t been busy after you left school?”
LIAM: Everybody in Weehawken is like, what happened to Larry?
MATT: “Found a new occupation: chalice collector.”
TALIESIN: What am I going to do with all these chalices?
LAURA: Well, Larry. You know that these chalices are probably going to be used to save the world.
MATT: “That sounds like a perfect reason to buy them.”
LAURA: It does, doesn’t it? And just think how wonderful it will be when you can tell everyone that you sell to that you sold the things that saved the world to Vox Machina.
MATT: Make a persuasion check.
LAURA: It wasn’t a one. Persuasion, 19.
MATT: “Vox Machina, you say? You know these folks?”
LAURA: Lady Vex'ahlia, at your service.
MATT: His eye widens on one side. “Well, I’ve not really seen or know much about you folks, but I’ve heard tales of you.”
LAURA: I turn and show him the scales from the Chroma Conclave.
MATT: “That real dragon? No shit. Well, I mean, tell you what.” He pulls out a piece of paper and starts scrawling on it. He pulls out his inkwell and starts dipping it. “If you would do the honor of signing this official document that says that these were sold to none other than Lady Vex'ahlia of Vox Machina that I can use as proof of this transaction for my own promotional purposes, I’ll be happy to give you both of these–”
LAURA: This is my favorite shop on the Citadel.
TALIESIN: This is the equivalent of the head shot on the wall.
MATT: Yeah, basically. “I will happily give you both of these at a discount of 1,000 gold pieces apiece.”
LAURA: I like your style. Can I insight and make sure this isn’t some sort of enchanted piece of fucking–
MATT: Sure, go for it.
LAURA: What would I add to that?
MATT: Your insight.
LAURA: Okay, see if he’s full of shit. 14?
MATT: 14? Hard to read.
LAURA: You know what? Fuck it. We’re probably going to die, anyway.
MATT: “A pleasure doing business with you, milady.” Hands you the two chalices. They’re beautiful. One’s more reddish gem-encrusted. The other has a platinum spiral that runs around the base of it. They’re both beautiful and intricate.
LAURA: And you just threw the sippy cup lid as a little–
MATT: “Yeah, okay.”
TALIESIN: For the chalice on the go.
LIAM: Now stay in school, Liam. Stay in school.
MATT: “Wait, that guy looks familiar.” I forgot to also say we have a winner, by the way. Kiajade. Congratulations. I should have mentioned that. I got caught up in the story. Thank god that’s never happened before. But congratulations. All right. You’ve acquired your chalices. What other business do you guys want to take care of?
TALIESIN: I’m going to make sure I have enough powder and shot for a bit of a jaunt, so I’m going into the stores of what we make here and reloading. I’m also going to try and make some silver shot. I’ve never tried it before.
TALIESIN: Not a ton. I want to try and make 12. I want to see if I can make 12.
MATT: Make a tinkering check. Dexterity. Well, no. This would be intelligence.
TALIESIN: It’s intelligence?
MATT: It’s a new concept you’re trying.
TALIESIN: Intelligence check.
MATT: Plus your proficiency.
TALIESIN: Plus my proficiency. That’s 19.
MATT: 19? Sure. You manage to make about 12 pieces of silver shot. You know, for the most part, because it’s not as hard as other forms, it’s going to be… but it is susceptible to enchantment.
TALIESIN: Which is why I was going to then take those to Pike. I don’t entirely understand how this works, but I had an idea. And I show her the 12 silver bearings, basically. Would you know how to bless something like this?
ASHLEY: I could certainly try.
TALIESIN: I think this might come in handy. It’s a wild idea. I don’t know. I’m trying to think of surprising her with something.
ASHLEY: I think that’s actually a fantastic idea.
TALIESIN: They’re a bit hard to make, and they may just not be useful at all, but I thought… I don’t know how any of this works.
ASHLEY: I’ll see what I can do. Yeah. I’ll see what I can do.
TALIESIN: Thank you.
MATT: Okay. You take the silver shot. Anyone want to try anything else?
LAURA: Yeah. I want to buy some holy oil, or get some holy oil from the church, or something. (laughter) Where do I get holy oil?
SAM: From the church.
LAURA: We’ve gotten holy oil before. I just can’t remember from where.
MATT: Make an investigation check.
MATT: 21. “You look like you’re looking for something to buy.”
LAURA: Oh, really? Larry, do you have any holy oil?
MATT: “My lady. Do I? I happen to have one vial of holy oil, good for two applications.”
LAURA: All right. That’s it? Just one?
MATT: “Traveled a long way, and you’re a little late in the shopping day. I was all full on them, but they’ve been flying off the shelf. My apologies.”
LAURA: Skeletons everywhere.
ASHLEY: Vex, I have some holy oil?
LAURA: How much?
ASHLEY: I don’t know. I just have a vial of it. I don’t know how much that is.
LAURA: That’s good for two applications, I think.
ASHLEY: Probably good for two applications.
MATT: Three applications with the vial that you have.
LAURA: Oh, this one has a little bit missing? How much? Because this is less than it normally is.
MATT: “Look, you’ve already done some good business with me. I’ll give it to you for 150.”
SAM: But you have to sign this poster.
ASHLEY: For my Hawaiian poke bowl mascot.
TRAVIS: I would eat there all the time.
LAURA: 150 gold. Sure. Only because Percy gave me a look. You know what– yeah, okay.
MATT: All right.
TALIESIN: She’s going to keep trying to listen to one word.
MARISHA: A lot to unpack here.
MATT: I’m not hearing music. We’ll check that in a second. Anybody else want to prepare anything?
LIAM: Yeah. I want to track down Kynan for a minute.
MATT: Okay. You find him. It’s early morning. They’ve finished their early round of training for the morning, and some of the early Pale Guard recruits are in the process of rushing off and taking a small lunch break. He’s currently taking a lot of the equipment from the training grounds and setting it aside in the various weapon racks, and generally cleaning up the space as you approach. He looks over his shoulder as he sets some of the practice blades along the edge.
LIAM: Hey, brother man. How’s all?
MATT: “Good. All’s well. Just keeping things going. Got a lot of good up-and-coming folks.”
LIAM: You got all these ladies and gentlemen in shape?
MATT: “Working on it. It’s a process.”
LIAM: I don’t want to take up a lot of your time. We just got in, and we’re heading out again. Anyway, I’m glad that I have Simon back, but I feel bad because I gave it to you and I took it away. But we’re leaving, and I want to travel light, so I wanted to make it up to you. I have this. I’m going to give you this dagger. It’s the Keen Dagger. Take this. It’s too much; I can’t use it. I’ve got this thing. Anyway. Just hold onto it. That’s it.
MATT: “Thank you very much. I’ll keep it at my side.” He takes the basic dagger out of his sheath and chucks it into the corner.
LIAM: Yeah. That one’s better. And thanks, and I think Percy’s thankful, too. I think. You’re doing really good work here.
MATT: “Thank you. Thank you very much.”
LIAM: Long, twisted road, but look where we are. Look where you are.
MATT: “There’s still a ways to go.”
LIAM: Pat, pat.
LAURA: Pat, pat where?
LIAM: On his dick, obviously.
TRAVIS: The open palm?
LIAM: On his cheek. That’s it. Anyway, you’re busy. We’ll see you soon.
MATT: “I look forward to it. Stay safe.”
LIAM: I will. Keep up the good work. (whoosh)
MATT: All right.
SAM: I guess Taryon will go find Vex. Stumble up and say, I have to stay here and keep working on Doty. I understand you’re leaving today.
LAURA: You’re not going to come with us?
SAM: I cannot. I have to stay and fix Doty and get back to my home. I’m sorry. It’s been a pleasure.
LAURA: Don’t say it’s been a pleasure!
SAM: It’s been an honor to have your acquaintance, and I’m afraid I have to return, but perhaps we’ll meet again sometime.
LAURA: I give him a big old hug. And I give him…
LIAM: Three copper.
LAURA: I give him– I don’t have any feathers left, I don’t think.
SAM: Do you have any money?
LAURA: I have no money, Tary.
SAM: I need money.
TALIESIN: Technically speaking, you’ve been on salary.
SAM: How about this? I wrote you a check. Can you rip it up? I don’t think I can pay it, ever.
LAURA: Tary, I ripped it up about two weeks after you moved in.
SAM: Thank you. And you have no other money on you?
LAURA: I open up my pouch, and I’ve got zero personal gold. Just party funds.
SAM: Well, I feel like I should leave you with all of my belongings, and all of my magical items, but I need them for my brigade. I’ll leave you with the seashell crown that who gave me? Grog?
SAM: Percy gave me.
LAURA: I think he’d want you to have that.
SAM: Do you want the half of a geode rock with 30 living souls inside of it?
LAURA: Yeah, give it to me. Thanks, friend.
SAM: I can’t use it.
LAURA: 30-soul rock. Got it.
MARISHA: 30 Rock Soul? (giggles)
TRAVIS: 30 souls just sitting in a rock. You think my shit’s weird?
SAM: Maybe I should have shown that to Pike sometime in the last year?
LAURA: I will show it to her.
TALIESIN: That’s just been sitting on your bedside, hasn’t it? Slowly making the sound of crying.
MATT: If you get really close at night, you hear this faint (screams).
LAURA: Help me!
MATT: He puts another pillow over it.
LAURA: What is that?
TALIESIN: Anything else?
SAM: Do you think you’ll see Percy anytime soon?
LAURA: I think I might.
SAM: When you do, (pink) can you give him this little gem for his flashlight? I can’t spare many, but that will give him one flashlight.
TALIESIN: He’ll have to come back, anyway, because he doesn’t know how to make the ammo for his gun.
LAURA: How are you going to get Doty home?
SAM: Well, after he’s fixed, me and Chod–
LAURA: Right. Lionel. I think he likes to be called Lionel.
SAM: I prefer Chod. I think we’ll set off the old-fashioned way.
LAURA: See who you pick up along the way?
SAM: Ooh! That could be chapter one of the new book.
SAM: Yes. A New Hope. Something like that.
LAURA: I like it. It’s epic. Catchy.
SAM: Yes. Well, I’m not going to say have fun, because you’re going to a terrible place.
LAURA: We might not make it out alive. If you talk to my brother, that’s what he says. He says it every time.
LIAM: I never said that.
SAM: If you die, I will be very upset. Hey, if I die, your thing will glow, so that will be good.
LAURA: Same. So we’ll know.
SAM: I’ll see you sometime in Wildemount?
LAURA: Of course we’ll come visit you.
SAM: All right.
LAURA: I love you so much.
SAM: You, too. Take care of your hair. You know, you shouldn’t wash it as often as you do. It just makes it dry and flaky.
LAURA: The oil is helpful. Thank you.
SAM: Get it trimmed every two weeks.
SAM: And have someone comb it.
LAURA: Yeah, I probably should do that, huh?
SAM: It’s really disgusting sometimes.
LAURA: Okay. I’ll brush it a hundred brush strokes every night, just like you.
SAM: Thank you. All right. Goodbye. I’ll see you soon, Little Elf Girl.
LAURA: Bye, Goldie. (fake-cries)
MATT: All right, so what do you wish to do, guys?
ASHLEY: Is there a way that I can bless these bullets?
TALIESIN: They’re musket balls, technically. They’re not bullets.
MATT: It will take you a while to do so. You could temporarily bless them with the Bless spell, but to infuse them with the blessing would be the equivalent of a small enchantment, so it would take you a couple of days or something.
ASHLEY: Well, I could start it, depending on when we leave, I guess. I have Bless. I was looking at that, but I didn’t know I could use that on actual objects, other than people.
TALIESIN: We also have to modify one of the necklaces.
LAURA: Yeah. That needs to go to a blacksmith, or something?
MARISHA: Unless we want to go through the old-fashioned way like the cultists did.
LIAM: The old-fashioned way?
LAURA: We can’t Plane Shift unless we alter the necklace.
TALIESIN: But we have enough necklaces that we could just jump through.
TRAVIS: That one.
MARISHA: We might take a little bit of damage on the way through.
TRAVIS: I’m game.
LAURA: You have a bajillion health points.
TRAVIS: I also thought of something overnight. All right? It hurt, because it’s kind of brilliant. Can you hold your breath for– (whispering) what’s higher than ten?
ASHLEY: (whispering) 11.
TRAVIS: 11 seconds.
TRAVIS: Why don’t all you bitches just hop in the Bag of Holding, I jump through, take all the damage for us, and then you just (popping sounds) pop right back out?
TALIESIN: I can think of many reasons why that’s probably not a good idea.
TRAVIS: What could it possibly be?
TALIESIN: The Bag of Holding is a negative space. It’s not designed to sustain life.
TRAVIS: Have you ever been in one?
TALIESIN: Very specifically not, because things die in there.
LIAM: Grog, think of all the things you’ve pulled out of there that look like sloppy joes, when they didn’t look like that going in.
LAURA: Let’s put something living inside of there and wait ten seconds and then take it out and see if it’s still alive.
TRAVIS: But it has to be able to hold its breath. If we throw a dog in there–
ASHLEY: So if it breathes, it will die.
TRAVIS: Yeah, there’s no air, I don’t think.
LAURA: If it’s ten seconds and it’s not knowing to hold its breath, it will come out alive, still.
TRAVIS: If you want to do CPR, whatever.
TALIESIN: What if the things inside take the damage even if they are in the Bag of Holding?
TRAVIS: We should find out. Are you going in?
TRAVIS: I’ll go in.
ASHLEY: You stick your hand in there all the time. No?
TALIESIN: This is not a magic you want to be messing around with.
TRAVIS: All right. I just wanted to put it out there. We can all take the stones and go through. I bet it’s not going to be that bad of a deal.
TALIESIN: No, this is the fantasy equivalent of locking yourself in a refrigerator.
TRAVIS: Just wanted to put it out there if you wanted to live on the edge of life, but no, we’ll just do it the boring way.
TALIESIN: I feel comfortable with the level of risk-taking of jumping into a giant sphere that crushes anything it touches.
MARISHA: It’s definitely a large amount of risk-taking already.
LAURA: Can anybody tell if this plate is cursed? Can you tell if something’s cursed, bro?
SAM: Oh, the armor?
LAURA: Can you tell if something is cursed, Pike?
ASHLEY: I could try. Can I check it out and see if it’s cursed?
TRAVIS: That is a face that says, I’m giving you nothing. (groans) Garlic chicken.
LAURA: Gross. Were you the one burping earlier, too?
TRAVIS: I blew it that way, though.
LAURA: Yeah, but somebody burped in the first half of the game, and it was foul.
TRAVIS: It’s probably me.
TALIESIN: Careful where you aim that. You might break a camera.
SAM: Let’s go. Let’s move!
LAURA: I’m trying to figure out if this plate mail is cursed or not.
SAM: Who the fuck cares? We’re going to a cursed place.
LAURA: No, but it’s so we can put it on somebody here.
TALIESIN: Let’s grab a bit of funds. Do we have the group funds, as well? We have access to the group funds.
SAM: You think one plate armor’s going to do anything?
MARISHA: Scanlan’s back.
TRAVIS: Let’s go.
LIAM: Guess who’s back?
MARISHA: Hang on. Do we want to do a Heroes’ Feast?
TALIESIN: Not yet.
LAURA: Yeah, 'cause what if something’s waiting for us on the other side?
TALIESIN: What if nothing’s waiting for us on the other side? Because now we’re down one Heroes’ Feast.
LAURA: Yeah, but what if there is?
TRAVIS: We’ve got a mansion.
TALIESIN: Then we dive into the mansion and we have a Heroes’ Feast.
LAURA: We’ve got to waste a fucking minute. We’ve got to protect Scanlan for a minute.
TALIESIN: I think we’re going to be okay.
LIAM: I’m with your beau.
TALIESIN: I think over-cautious. Even when jumping into the depths of the undead, there’s such a thing as over-cautious.
TRAVIS: Let’s go down to the ziggurat.
TALIESIN: I’m putting the–- as I hit the microphone. Do not touch your microphone when you put on your necklace. I’m putting on my necklace.
LAURA: Okay, I’ll put on my necklace.
MATT: Each of you don one of the symbols?
MARISHA: Do we need to put on the robes, too, that we found?
LAURA: Fuck the robes.
TALIESIN: I want them to see me coming.
MARISHA: All right. Do you want the robes?
LIAM: I don’t feel strongly about it.
TRAVIS: If we put on the robes, we’ve got to pull out an eyeball each, too.
ASHLEY: We’re already there? We’re standing at the ball?
LAURA: Are we going down? Sure.
TRAVIS: We’re going down to the ziggurat.
MATT: All right. You find your way down into the subterranean tunnels beneath Whitestone, winding through the caverns until you enter the chamber that contains the ziggurat where you initially faced off with the Briarwoods. As you climb to the top, there before you, you see standing in all of its glory, the black, as you’ve called it, spinning orb of death. Approximately that large now, and it’s this dark void, that as you get close, it has this weird vibration to it. And there it is, suspended about four feet off the ground at the top of this ziggurat.
LAURA: Can I get close to it and put the necklace near it without touching it?
MATT: Yeah. You put the necklace near it, and you watch as the sphere, this weird grayish aura around it begins to emanate faintly, almost like the closer it gets, the brighter this weird gray aura tends to get and the wider it grows.
LAURA: That seems promising.
LIAM: I’m right behind you.
TALIESIN: Who first?
LIAM: Me. (whoosh)
MATT: All right.
TALIESIN: Well, that happened.
MATT: I would like you to make a constitution saving throw.
MARISHA: Keyleth reaches for Vax right as he goes in. Oh shit.
LIAM: I’ll use my first Luck of the day. Wasn’t that bad, but it’s an important roll. That’s better. 20.
MATT: 20. Okay.
TRAVIS: That’s a lot of dice.
MARISHA: Oh Jesus, that’s so many dice.
ASHLEY: (whispering) I thought we bamfed into it.
MARISHA: He twitched again.
MATT: You take 11 points of necrotic damage. Anybody else?
MARISHA: Just that? That’s it?
MATT: You don’t know that. You just saw him vanish.
TRAVIS: I’m game. I’ll go.
MARISHA: All right.
MATT: Everybody going in?
MARISHA: Yeah, in.
MATT: All right. Everyone, make a constitution saving throw, please.
SAM: Nine. No, 17.
MATT: 22 points of necrotic damage. 11 points of necrotic damage.
MATT: 22 points of necrotic damage. 22 points of necrotic damage.
MATT: 22 points of necrotic damage.
MATT: 22 points of necrotic damage. So as you leap into the sphere, you feel as if the gravity that holds you to the ground, or sometimes the ceiling, bends around you and your limbs are wrenched forward, like someone has you in a full Nelson that doesn’t end. Your body is about to be condensed and crushed, when you feel the symbol pulse, and the gravity lessens somewhat. It’s still tearing into you, and you feel this coldness and this numbness come over your body, as you feel like you’re a square peg being pushed through a round hole, physically pushed through against your will. You begin to yell out in pain instinctually before it comes to a stop and you all land to your feet, out of breath. The numbness begins to fade to immediate pins and needles, just pain across your entire body. You feel like someone just raked a number of tacks across every surface of your skin and as the pain begins to throb, you can feel the blood pulsing throughout your body as it all shoots to the surface. You still sense that you, thanks to your symbols around your neck, you managed to withstand a much more dangerous arrival. As your eyes focus, you already feel the chilled air that surrounds you, like a cold, cold winter morning. The sky above is sunless and gray, like an overcast horizon without clouds to texture it, breached by distant mountain ranges like so much broken glass. You see behind you immediately the other corresponding siphon, floating, bright gray-white in color and glowing, the same color that you saw briefly shifted to in the ziggurat near Ank'harel. Beneath it, you find shards of ruined objects, piles of long-dead bodies, flesh and bone rended and twisted like they’d been put through some rapid tornado on different sides of their body. And you see a lot of these shattered pieces of wood and metal were all a number of objects that were thrown in here during the experimental phase when you guys first uncovered this. You look around and notice that you stand atop a rectangular platform of dark, smooth stone, about 15 feet on each side. Beneath the edges, about 20 feet down, 'til it comes to the ground. So you’re on an elevated stone platform that the siphon is affixed to above, floating about four feet above the top of the surface. And you look down to the ground immediately around you and you see just dry, cracked badlands. It seems to spread out, making up the majority of the Shadowfell around you. Surrounding your location, your sight clarifies to see what appears to be hundreds of buildings and structures that form this shade of an ancient city, like a town, a sprawling village. Half the structures toppled and destroyed, piles of rubble and rock. The ground itself seems to jut up in places, these tiny, shooting spires of black and gray earth that the city has either been built around or seemed to have grown through. As you look past that, you see movement throughout the streets in the distance, but before you can focus on that, your vision immediately sticks towards, in the center of this circular-like city, the standing, ominous, commanding, massive spire of obsidian black, familiar to both of you through two different types of vision you’ve experienced. A jagged monolith that exudes ancient hatred, encircled by dozens of dark, winged beasts that watch over the dreary skies. Who here is proficient in history?
LAURA: Nobody is proficient in history?!
SAM: We’re doomed to repeat it.
TRAVIS: Really, Percy?
TALIESIN: No, I have other qualities, history was not my forefront. I know Whitestone.
SAM: Somewhere, Taryon is reading a history book.
MATT: Exactly. The two of you make history checks with disadvantage because you lack proficiency. Yes, you being a bard, you pick up information in passing. With disadvantage, each of you.
LAURA: Oh god.
SAM: That’s a bad sign.
MATT: You have no inclination of where you stand or what’s before you. All you know is you stand now on the cold plane of the Shadowfell, the echo of the Prime Material.
LAURA: Our notes on the Shadowfell.
MATT: You do.
TALIESIN: Can we consult the Rand McNally?
TRAVIS: The Rand McNally guide, yeah.
MATT: You’re welcome to. Just so you guys know, you are all standing out in the middle of the open, on this large stone platform looking down in the center of this giant city–-
LAURA: There are things that are moving below. I see them.
MARISHA: And the ziggurat is above us?
MATT: There is no ziggurat. There is a large, black spire, but that’s in the center of the city maybe two miles off.
LAURA: As we hop down, I cast Pass Without a Trace on all of us.
LIAM: There are buildings around, so are we in the middle of a field, a plain, badlands?
MATT: There are buildings. You see two structures maybe 50 or 60 feet from you on each side, and then going forward, from your current position, it leads right into the city. So this structure is on the outskirts. It’s right on the perimeter.
LAURA: Do we see any other orbs around?
MATT: Make a perception check.
MATT: You glance and, in the faint gray sky above you, around the glowing white-gray orb this side of the siphon, you see a very, very faint aura of bluish-purple that is weaving into a thread, a rope almost, various strands that knot and twist to form a cord, a very barely visible cord that just drifts up towards the very top of that tower for miles. And there at the top of the tower, you see a vibrant, sparking, pulsing, purple glow. And from there, you can see two other distant strands that arc off into the very faint other edges across, triangulating around the other sides of the outskirts of this ancient city. You see the faint, glowing white-gray pulse of two other siphons affixed to two other platforms, all these strands converging at the top of the tower.
ASHLEY: Before we get to it, can I cast Bless on his bullets so I can give them back to him?
MATT: How long does it last?
ASHLEY: Not very long.
MATT: You can. There’s a difference between casting a spell and enchanting something. It’s a loose enchantment to Bless the ammunition. That takes a while to focus on.
TALIESIN: I imagine it’ll take a few days when it’s done.
ASHLEY: When it’s done.
TALIESIN: I don’t expect us to be in and out of here, I think this is going to take some time.
ASHLEY: I’d rather enchant them.
TRAVIS: The structures to our left and our right, are they solid, do they have focus?
MATT: They’re solid, they’re stone buildings, they’re homes, though plain and cracked. There are sections of wall missing in places. As you look about the grounds here, and you know this because you’ve ransacked and been responsible for the ransacking… or the rubble of Westruun. But this city appears to have been, some time long ago, under siege. You see signs of battle, you see impact, you see roofs that were burned and now lie as just black husks. This area has seen warfare long ago and the signs of it are old and it looks like the signs of life that exist in this space, the movement you see of figures in the distance wandering through the streets, there’s no immediate threat to this city, but you get the sense just looking out that something big happened here a long time ago.
TRAVIS: Any of you with the eyes, can you see what that is up in the air?
LAURA: Yeah, I also want to look and see what the fuck kind of creatures it is that are moving around in the city. But I want to see what kind of creatures are flying around as well.
MATT: Okay, so you guys have moved down from the platform, and you cast Pass Without a Trace, so I’d like everyone to make a stealth check, please. Adding plus ten to your roll.
LAURA: Ooh shit, you rolled bad, yo!
MATT: Okay! So, to stay stealthed, you have to find some place to be stealthy. You’re not stealthing out in the middle of nowhere. Where are you going to find–-
TALIESIN: Towards the city.
LAURA: Those buildings.
LIAM: Are we temporarily staying put and talking shit out or are we going?
TALIESIN: The building on the left, I’d say.
LAURA: Yeah, like hide behind something.
MATT: Okay, you guys dart off to the left. It appears to have once been a two-story structure, but the upper level has since collapsed and part of it is falling into the bottom floor. As you begin to approach the doorway on the inside, Vex'ahlia, you hear what sounds like a faint crunching sound on the inside.
TRAVIS: (nervous laughter) What the fuck? Oh my god.
LIAM: (whispering) What’s the matter?
LAURA: (whispering) There’s something in this building. (louder) Are there windows on the building, at all?
MATT: There are. There is one window on your side, and the doorway around the corner.
LAURA: Peek in.
LIAM: I’ll look in the window with my 40 stealth.
MATT: You glance inside, and as you peek over the top, in the brief bits of light coming through the shadow in here, you can see the collapsed piles of broken stone and wood planks that used to hold the structure of the upper level together. You can see what looks like furniture that’s been destroyed. Simple, basic. This is not an extravagantly decorated space. Built for function, more than anything. But moving amidst the shadow, you see what appears to be a humanoid creature of pale gray skin, elongated limbs, long, clawed fingers. Bald head, pointed, hooked ears, and what looks to be slightly broken, jagged, yellow, elongated teeth in this jaw, as it’s currently munching on what looks to be a small furred rodent of some kind. (crunching)
LIAM: This is probably redundant, but I will Divine Sense undead.
MATT: It is very undead.
LIAM: Do I sense, see, hear anything besides this one?
MATT: What’s the radius?
LIAM: 60 feet.
MATT: Nothing else catches your attention, no. You watch as it finishes and walks toward the doorway. Vex'ahlia, as you’re off to the side, you watch as this creature leans forward and goes into a sprint, and then leaps up onto a distant rooftop. (leaping noises) Just leaping from rooftop to rooftop. As you’re watching that leap, another movement catches your eye, and you see another one about three blocks down. You can see, there are at least a handful of these creatures stalking through the ruins, leaping from building to building, from floor to floor.
ASHLEY: What was it eating?
MATT: A small, furred creature. You didn’t get a good look at it. You got a fair look at it.
TRAVIS: It was an otter. I love otters.
MATT: Apparently, so does the creature.
LAURA: Why would there be otters in the Shadowfell?
MATT: There’s something you didn’t know about otters, Laura.
MARISHA: They love holding hands?
LAURA: Does it look like any of those scary creatures are around each other, or are they avoiding each other?
MATT: It’s hard to tell at this distance. You’re so far out of the city. You’ve only been able to notice a few shapes from this distance. You’d probably have to get in a little closer and spend some time watching their behavior to pick that up.
LIAM: I’m going to crouch down by this dead rodent. Do I sense the Queen, more or less, here?
MATT: Make a wisdom check.
MATT: You close your eyes for a second. No. None.
TRAVIS: Can I pop my head back out the door, and looking at the ground, is there any semblance of a sewer system or a runoff grate or anything?
MATT: Make a perception check.
TRAVIS: Oh Jesus. Yeah, bitch. Seven.
MATT: No. Not at all.
LAURA: Grog! Get your head back inside.
LAURA: There’s things flying around out there.
TRAVIS: I’m keeping a lookout.
TALIESIN: I’m going to crawl up the wall to the second floor to see what’s up there.
MATT: As you go up the side and step over onto the rubble, you see a large, broken, what was once the floor of the top floor that slid into this giant decline, this slide of rubble, if you will. At the top, you can see what looks to be a broken weapon rack that is empty. No weapons on it, but you get the sense that this small structure was a perimeter tower outpost.
TALIESIN: It’s been cleaned out.
TALIESIN: There’s no sign of anybody who used to be here? Nothing of value, nothing of interest?
MATT: Not in the structure, no.
TALIESIN: I think we’re going to have to move deeper in.
SAM: Should I make us all ghoulie?
TRAVIS: Do we notice anything strange about the little necklaces that we’re wearing now that we’re in this place?
MATT: Nothing at the moment, no.
LIAM: Hey, you feeling good about your decision to come with us?
SAM: This is terrible. I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. Let’s go do it. I’ll cast Seeming on us and make us all gray, pointy-eared, little Nosferatu-vampirey things, I suppose. Did I see the thing that skittered out?
MATT: Very briefly.
SAM: I’ve seen other undead things.
MATT: Yeah. You can make something that looks undead-adjacent.
SAM: Yeah. My guy will look more like the Meat Man in undead form, but otherwise, everyone’s normal.
LAURA: I want straggly, but still a braid. Really nasty, straggly hair.
SAM: Your ear’s half off.
TRAVIS: I definitely want an eyeball hanging out.
TALIESIN: Straight hole right through the head. No jaw.
MATT: All right. What do you guys do?
LAURA: I think we should probably try to observe the things that are flying around the tower.
TALIESIN: Slowly make our way to the town.
LAURA: Observe. Still try to avoid any of those scary creatures, but see if they avoid each other as we look at them.
LIAM: Super slow, super careful.
SAM: Maybe we should stagger.
LAURA: No, those things were speedy. Be normal.
SAM: We’ll walk like this.
TALIESIN: Left, right, left, step, step, step.
MATT: Make a performance check. No.
MARISHA: While they were looking at weapons racks and doing stuff like that–
TALIESIN: You make it sound so tawdry. Carry on.
MARISHA: While they were doing that, I pull Vax aside. I grab him–
SAM: Let’s get married.
LAURA: Let’s just do it.
MARISHA: Goddamn it. Scanlan’s back. Listen, you can’t die, and I don’t know what’s going on in your head, or what you’re thinking, but I feel like it’s not good.
LIAM: I’m the best I’ve ever been. Don’t worry about me. Worry about us.
MARISHA: Has the Raven Queen spoken to you at all?
MARISHA: Recently? Down here?
LIAM: Not since we got here, no, but recently.
MARISHA: I need you with us. Not with her. I need you with us, and with me. So let me do this. And I’m going to burn my 9th-level spell and cast Foresight on Vax.
SAM: Ooh, Foresight!
LAURA: What is that?
SAM: Shit. It’s real good.
LIAM: This one goes to nine.
LAURA: What is Foresight?
MARISHA: Don’t fuck it up, man. It’s my 9th-level spell.
MATT: For the next eight hours, not concentration, you can’t be surprised. You have advantage on all attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws, and other creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls against you.
LAURA: Holy shit.
SAM: You can see just in the future. Three seconds.
LAURA: That’s amazing!
LIAM: You guys, let’s go shopping!
TRAVIS: I raise my blood axe…
MATT: All right.
SAM: Am I going to die in three seconds? Am I going to die in three seconds?
TALIESIN: Let’s make our way into town. Quietly.
LIAM: Within the next eight hours.
SAM: I feel like Vax should lead the party.
MATT: All right, so are you stealthing through?
LAURA: Still being stealthy, but yeah.
LIAM: Looking cool, but stealthing.
MARISHA: We look so cool.
TALIESIN: We’re not doing–
LAURA: Matt’s like, I will kill you all.
MATT: You guys scatter just enough to dart between alleys and find shaded bits and leap from base of building to alley, keeping a cohesive unit as best you can. The first thing you notice, the further in you get, even within just the first couple of blocks of the city, you see broken swords, you see pieces of armor, and you see figures walking through the street ahead of you. You see hundreds of scattered skeletons, decomposing bodies shambling through, but they all walk in patterns. They’re not scattered, mindless. There is some will or direction to their movements. You see them wearing ornate armor with designs and symbols on them that look old and tarnished and scratched.
LIAM: Are they moving like troops or is each individual following its own…?
MATT: Some are moving as troops, and occasionally you see an individual wander off, but they’re just sort of walking around and scanning. I’m going to have Scanlan, you roll a history check, and Pike, roll a religion check.
SAM: 17. Oh! You know what, seems important, I will inspire myself. Can I do that? I haven’t done this in so long.
MATT: Yeah, add a d12 to it.
MATT: Got to get the dust off, man.
MATT: Okay. You, looking over there, a lot of the armor that these skeletons are wearing, it doesn’t fit with the Shadowfell. The silvers, the golds, the tattered blue cloaks, there’s something regal about some of these armor sets, as old and ancient as they may be. It doesn’t seem to match the sense and feel of the Shadowfell. While you’re having this thought, Pike, you glance over and look at one of these pieces of armor and you recognize the symbol, it’s like a stained-glass circle with a gold star in the center. It’s the symbol of Pelor. Many of these bodies, these undead wandering the city, seem to have been soldiers that fell in whatever battle that once besieged this city, and many bear the mark of Pelor.
TALIESIN: I mean, the Chained–
LAURA: The Chained Oblivion.
TALIESIN: The Chained Oblivion, there was a fight between.
MATT: That was, but that was on the Prime Material, and that was in the vicinity of the Alabaster Sierras.
TALIESIN: That mark couldn’t have ended up–
LAURA: Was the Shadowfell always the Shadowfell?
TALIESIN: I don’t know.
SAM: Maybe this city was taken somewhere else or something. Transported here.
MARISHA: Does this city look like Whitestone?
MATT: No. None of the buildings, the structures, resemble Whitestone.
SAM: Is there any architecture that I, or anyone, notices, like from a region of where we’ve been?
MATT: No. Not really.
SAM: Mid-century modern, mostly?
MATT: Yeah, yeah, lot of Ikea. No, but you do get the sense– some of the architecture here does resemble elements of some architecture designs that remind you of Wildemount.
SAM: Man, we should have brought Tary.
MATT: But, like, old Wildemount. Like, no modern structures, definitely from centuries back. As you continue to wander and keep your eyes out, you occasionally hear the distant (creature shrieking). You watch as the (wings flapping) winged, dark beasts are circling overhead.
SAM: Do we recognize them?
MATT: No, not yet.
LAURA: Never seen anything like it?
MATT: You have not seen anything like these before. Black as night against the gray sky. From this distance, you make out no details in their bodies. It’s almost like a moving shadow above you. Wherever light would hit to give you some sense of structure, it’s just absence, void. It’s just a flying shadow.
TALIESIN: Are there any buildings that have enough structure to them where it feels like there might be things inside that have been relatively unmolested at this point?
MATT: Possibly. Make a perception check.
MATT: 12. I mean, there are some buildings that look like they have some structure, and the further into the city you get, the more you see that this becomes a little less destroyed. But you begin to see some figures moving that are not armored undead, not zombies, and not any of these quick-moving creatures. You see three figures walking back towards the orb where you guys came from in the same black cult robes, hoods off. They would appear to be human.
TALIESIN: But they’re cultists.
MATT: But they’re cultists.
LAURA: They don’t look like they’re afraid of walking around?
LIAM: Yeah, what’s their demeanor?
MATT: They’re just walking through.
LIAM: How far are they from us?
MATT: They’re about 100 feet up. A little further than that.
LIAM: Coming our way?
MATT: Coming your way towards the sphere where you guys were.
ASHLEY: Maybe that’s what we need to look like.
TRAVIS: Cover and ambush?
LIAM: Or watch, see what they’re doing.
TALIESIN: Kill two, keep one to question?
MARISHA: How many are there, three?
MATT: Three of them.
TALIESIN: God, can we even kill people here? Will they die?
LIAM: Yes. But do we watch, see what they do with the sphere first?
TALIESIN: Let’s cut them off.
SAM: I could be bait. Then you could come ambush them.
LIAM: Let’s watch for a moment longer.
TRAVIS: Find cover.
MATT: Okay. So what do you guys do?
TRAVIS: I’m going into the building.
LAURA: I’m following them, just subtly.
MARISHA: Yeah, let the twins go ahead first.
MATT: Okay, so the two twins follow and the rest of you duck into a building off to the side? Okay. You guys, I need you both individually to roll stealth as you tail behind them.
LAURA: And we still have Pass Without a Trace on. 34.
SAM: Wait, we’re staying put and they’re walking off somewhere else? How are we going to see what’s going to happen?
TRAVIS: They were walking towards us.
MATT: The cultists are basically walking past you guys, going the opposite direction of where you were traveling, and both the twins just vanish from sight. You’re like, “Well what if-- Gone again.” You guys pace behind them, jumping from alley to alley. Occasionally they’ll stop and do a walk over. There’s not a sense of paranoia, but they’re very watchful. Their attire, while still cult robes, is a little more intricately adorned, and you see the one in the front is carrying a hanging lantern that gives off this weird smoke behind it, like a censer.
TRAVIS: A censer?
LIAM: Yeah, like a Catholic.
MATT: Yeah. But it gives off this faint glow, and they walk and make their way slowly outside of the city towards the pillar where the orb is. And they just look around it, walk over to the few buildings to the side, divide a little bit to a perimeter, reconvene at the base of the orb, and begin making their way back to the center of the city.
LAURA: Is there anything else around? Should we kill them?
LIAM: All three? Take one? Kill two, leave one?
SAM: We can ambush them.
LAURA: Get ready for an ambush.
TALIESIN: When they walk by the house, push them.
LAURA: When they walk past you guys, we’ll attack.
SAM: Should I put someone out there to confuse them?
LIAM: No. When we go, follow suit.
MARISHA: I can Grasping Vine one into the building, right into Grog’s hands.
LAURA: Wait until we attack them first.
MATT: All right. The three of them walk back, leaving a small censer trail behind. The smoke, the almost incense-like smoke, burns off within a few feet after. They eventually cross right next to the doorway and window to where the rest of you are waiting. Both of you guys roll for an attack. Are you aiming at two different ones? Same one?
LAURA: Two different ones. And it’s an automatic…
MATT: It’s an automatic crit if you hit, and you have advantage on the hit because they don’t see you.
LAURA: Natural 20. Not that it matters, because I already got a crit.
MATT: But still, it’s nice.
MATT: 26. Both hit. Go ahead and roll damage, both of you, doubling your weapon die damage and your sneak attack.
LAURA: Bramble shot.
SAM: There’s three of them, right?
MATT: Three of them, yes… You also double the bramble shot damage because it’s a crit.
SAM: Hey, look, we’re killing things! Well, maybe.
TALIESIN: Incapacitating, at the very least.
LAURA: Oh, shit, dude.
MATT: 85 damage. Rogues, man. It’s what they do.
TALIESIN: The head is cleaved from the body.
LAURA: 56 for me.
SAM: It was Kima and Allura on a mission. They’re dead.
MATT: As the three of them walk, the two on the outside both, at the same time, (impacts), crumple. No noise, just fall to their knees, face down on the ground, unmoving. The one in the center that’s holding the censer turns and looks back and sees–
MARISHA: And I go (whoosh) and Grasping Vine him, and throw him right into Grog’s hands.
LAURA: Don’t kill him!
TRAVIS: And if he’s successfully thrown, I just cover his mouth and grab the back of his head and squeeze.
SAM: Which mouth?
TRAVIS: Ew, God.
MATT: That is a 16.
MATT: Fail. That’s right, because 21. So as soon as he turns around, out of one of the cracks in the stonework nearby, you can see some dry, grass-like gray brush. There is what appears to be some faint hints of local plant life, but it all looks like gray, dry grass. Or, you know after a morning freeze, when you see elements of a field that have that weird, textured, almost water plant look to it? It’s clusters of that, but curled. And one of those whips out with this one, long, grayish, almost fleshy-looking vine that wraps around it and yanks it inside the house. (grunt) Gets yanked in. Grog, you catch him.
TRAVIS: Cover his mouth.
LIAM: Like clockwork.
MATT: Go ahead and make an athletics check, Grog.
TRAVIS: Oh, that’s a million. 26.
MATT: He struggles against your grasp, and it’s nothing. It’s like holding a baby in your arms.
TRAVIS: Percy, will you give him a reminder not to move?
TALIESIN: Oh, yes, this will be fun. I take out a small, three-inch steel ball. I look him right in the eye, and go, Manners. And I toss the steel ball at our friend. The iron bands.
MATT: Okay. What does he have to save on that?
TALIESIN: I actually make a ranged attack roll.
MATT: Okay, make a ranged attack roll. d20 plus your dexterity. You have advantage because he’s currently restrained by Grog.
TALIESIN: Makes me feel better. Thank God. That’s still fine. 23.
MATT: Okay, so as you chuck it the three feet, it impacts, and you watch as the orb swells and expands, and all of these chain-like plates of dark, reddish iron metal wrap around him, constraining his hands, his legs, and locking him into place around his jaw and his head and his mouth.
LAURA: Can he still talk?
TRAVIS: Yeah, when I take my hand off his mouth.
TALIESIN: This thing will allow him to talk. I believe this thing has a…
MATT: It has a little slit that you can remove to the side.
LIAM: It’s got a gimp hole?
MATT: All good magical items do, Liam. That’s what you call an artifact.
TALIESIN: I give him a second to sit and I wait until we’re all inside.
MATT: Okay. You guys both attacked.
LAURA: Pull the bodies inside.
MATT: First make a stealth check, because you both exposed yourselves with the attack, and there are creatures overhead shrieking.
TALIESIN: With advantage. He has advantage.
LIAM: Plus Pass Without Trace.
LIAM: 37, that’s kind of low for me.
MATT: Okay. You watch as one swoops nearby, and you hear the (shrieking), and you guys dart by. Doesn’t seem to take notice. You drop back into the building, and there you see your quarry now bolted to himself through a series of dark iron metal plates.
TRAVIS: Our quarry, does he have two eyes?
MATT: He does not have both eyes. Left eye is missing. You see him now. This is a man in his mid-40s, salt and pepper hair, seems to be an unkempt beard around his chin. Hair is maybe about ear-length, a little tattered now since he’s been roughed up and manhandled a bit. His skin’s a bit yellowed, a little jaundiced. You get the sense he’s probably been living here for quite some time, and he doesn’t look healthy.
LAURA: I grab the thing that was making the smoke and bring it.
MATT: The smell is awful. It’s hard to differentiate from the general smell of decay and dust that this entire realm seems to be suffused with, but the smoke that billows off of this is like fresh putrescence, mixed with a very, very strong charcoal.
TALIESIN: This may be how they move freely.
LAURA: That’s what I’m thinking. We hide the bodies. We’ll bring the bodies inside, too, so that nobody sees them.
LIAM: Press him.
TALIESIN: I’m going to let you speak, and we’re going to have a conversation. Given where you are, the circumstances that we find you in, I’m going to let you know that there is a curse upon my weapon, and the souls that are killed with this weapon are claimed by a demon named Orthax. Now, I haven’t experimented as to what happens when somebody’s soul is claimed by more than one creature, but I’m excited to find out. So wouldn’t it be interesting if everything you’ve been promised here is suddenly null and void? So, yes, we may threaten your life, but I want you to know that what’s really at stake here is just precisely what’s left of your soul, so answer with caution. And I unlock.
MATT: Roll an intimidation check.
TRAVIS: That was nasty, it was real good.
TALIESIN: Fucking dice. No love on that one. Terrible. Eight.
MATT: You unlock, and he just goes (laughs) “I don’t have to tell you anything.”
LIAM: I punch him in the temple.
MATT: “This pain is meager. I’ve felt far worse. I’ve given myself far worse. Pry and poke all you want.”
LIAM: I punch him in the mouth.
TALIESIN: This sort of thing isn’t going to get us anywhere. Pike. Think you can give him back his eye?
LAURA: Oh, that’s a good idea.
SAM: You’re going to use a carrot?
LIAM: No, that’s the stick.
MARISHA: Do you have Regenerate with you?
ASHLEY: I do.
LAURA: Separate him from his god.
ASHLEY: I put my hand over his eye.
MATT: He doesn’t flinch.
LAURA: Do it.
ASHLEY: Are you ready to have your eye back?
MATT: “I’ll just pluck it right back out.”
ASHLEY: Well, you can’t. Because you’re just going to stay in these binds forever.
LIAM: Or Grog will pull your arms off.
MATT: “Do your worst.”
LAURA: No, he’s not scared of pain.
TRAVIS: Just ask him some questions before the fun begins. Let’s see what he answers with.
LAURA: Do you know Delilah Briarwood?
MATT: “Maybe. The fact that you’re already here means that you have no way out, so I fear not. Even if I perish, I die with the comfort of knowing that you’ll perish soon after. That is the comfort in the Whispered One.”
MATT: “So you knowingly came here. You are both foolish and simple.”
TRAVIS: No, that’s just me.
MATT: “So you said you have questions.”
TRAVIS: What’s flying around in the sky?
MATT: “The sentinels.”
MATT: “That is what they are for us, but they are known more formally as Gloom Stalkers.”
TRAVIS: Gloom Stalkers. That is a great name.
MATT: “They are hungry. Ever hungry.”
TRAVIS: They also look fearsome. Do people cower before them in their presence?
MATT: “You will.”
TRAVIS: I’ll bet. I am easily startled.
TALIESIN: Where are you from?
MATT: “It does not matter. The past means nothing when you give up your secrets.”
TALIESIN: The ziggurats, there’s three of them. You’ve come through the Wildemount one?
MATT: He shakes his head. “You will get no information from me.”
SAM: All right. Can I have a try? You’ve got one eye, right? Ugh.
MATT: You see the gaping socket, and as he goes to blink one eye, you can see the marking on the inside, it looks like it was burned out, so you watch the outer edge of the flesh and muscle twitch whenever he blinks.
SAM: Gross ocular muscles. I just want to make you feel good, man, so I’ll just sing to you. I’ll hold up my cone, and I’ll sing, (singing) Just the two of us. You can’t quit me if you tried. Just the two of us. Me and your eye. So I’ll Dominate Person.
TRAVIS: He’s back.
MATT: That is… That’s an 11. All right. His grin glazes over and he goes…
SAM: Will you please tell us everything you know when we ask you?
MATT: “But of course.”
SAM: Where are you from?
MATT: “I am from the outskirts of a far eastern Wildemount village named Zuvan. It was built on the ruins of Orthanus. I was a poor man, but I found purpose.”
SAM: Did you come through a ziggurat in Wildemount? And if so, where?
MATT: “I don’t know. I was taken with many others who had given themselves to the secrets of the Undying King. I awoke here, mauled but living, and was inducted, and that was when he took my eye.”
MATT: “He. One of the acolytes.”
SAM: The flying things. Well, we know what they are now.
TRAVIS: What do they do?
SAM: Do the flying things have magical powers?
MATT: “I do not know. They shriek, they eat, they watch. I do not mess with such terrible and wonderful instruments.”
ASHLEY: How does he get through all the dead?
SAM: The smoke-making thing that you were carrying. What is it and how does it work?
MATT: “It protects those of us who are not as esteemed in the arts of necromancy to not be bothered by the roving, long-dead soldiers of the last war on Thar Amphala.”
SAM: The last war on Thar Amphala! What does that mean?
LAURA: I don’t know!
SAM: What does that mean?
MARISHA: The last war on what?
MATT: Thar Amphala. Thar Amphala, the city built for the Whispered One, long ago.
SAM: Oh, that’s where we are.
LAURA: Who lives in the tower, Vecna? Is that where he is?
MATT: He just looks at you strangely.
LIAM: It’s got to come from him.
LAURA: I’m a really good friend of his.
SAM: She really is, that’s being rude. But who lives in the tower? Is it Vecna or Mistress Delilah?
MATT: “It’s where his essence has slowly reclaimed the space. He will live soon.”
LAURA: Oh, but he’s not back yet!
SAM: The Mistress Delilah. Where is she right now?
MATT: “I have not seen her, but if she is not out, then perhaps the ritual is soon. She is probably at the top of Entropis.”
SAM: Entropis is the tower?
MARISHA: That tower?
SAM: The only tower.
TRAVIS: What other alarms are there in the city that would detect outsiders?
SAM: What protections do you have on the tower?
MATT: “I do not know the specifics. I am but a watcher on the outside of Thar Amphala.”
SAM: You don’t go in?
MATT: “I have not gone in since I gave my eye.”
SAM: And what are your people called? Your group, your cult?
MATT: “We are the Remnants.”
ASHLEY: What’s his purpose?
SAM: What’s your job with the Remnants?
MATT: “I am to watch the outskirts of the city. I am to escort those who would bring various things in preparation for the ritual.”
LAURA: What ritual? What is the ritual going to do?
SAM: What will the ritual do?
MATT: “The ritual is to restore him. To bring him, so that he can complete the main purpose. The ritual of seeding.”
SAM: He’s just a farmer, guys.
LIAM: How does Delilah factor into it? What does she get out of it? What does she do?
SAM: I don’t think he knows all of the intricacies.
LIAM: I know, but he’s probably promised them all something.
SAM: What has Delilah promised you? What do you gain out of this?
MATT: “When he, the Undying King, returns to this world, and we bring what we have gained, what we have brought from the other plane, that seed will be taken to the ritual of the space.”
LAURA: What have they brought?
SAM: Did you bring something through the portal? What was it?
MATT: “I do not understand the details, but for many months now, these siphons, they have been building the seed. They have been preparing for his return. And from there, he will complete what he started so long ago.”
LAURA: And that shit’s happening soon?
SAM: When does the ritual begin?
MATT: “Soon. Things accelerate.”
SAM: I know we look different now, but if you had to pick one of us, which is the most handsome?
MATT: “That would be you, my friend.”
SAM: I thought so.
TRAVIS: Can he take us safely to the tower?
SAM: Can you escort us to the tower? Dominate Person has got to be wearing off.
MATT: I’m checking the spell just to be sure.
LAURA: We have a thing. We can at least get through town.
SAM: One minute. It’s probably over.
MATT: Yeah. So by about now, after these questions have come through, his one eye blinks, and he goes, (grunt), “It matters not. He already knows you’re here.”
LIAM: I punch him in the temple again.
LAURA: He likes it. Stop giving him pleasure.
TRAVIS: I poke him in his remaining eyeball.
MATT: Do you? Roll a strength check.
LIAM: A strength check? For some Jello?
TRAVIS: Oh God. 25.
MATT: (shriek of pain)
TALIESIN: I close the mouth.
MATT: There is a smear of crimson down his face as the other eye has just been turned to paste.
LAURA: Wow, we’re terrible people.
TRAVIS: Oh, what was that? It matters not? Oh, are you going to be rewarded? Yeah. How many middle fingers am I holding up?
LAURA: We should put him out of his misery.
TRAVIS: Why? I like misery.
SAM: Well, if we just release him into the city without his censer…
LIAM: He’s going to stumble out like a maniac. Squish the bug, Grog.
SAM: No, no. If we send him away from us, maybe one of those things will find him and we’ll have a clearer path.
TRAVIS: He’s yelling. He’ll make all sorts of sound.
SAM: Yeah, if we send him away from us and then we go the other way. He’s a human distraction!
TALIESIN: We don’t need a distraction, we need quiet at this point.
LIAM: And those things, we don’t know if they could alert back if they saw something fishy like that.
TALIESIN: I’ll release him and you do your business, all right? Manners.
MATT: (mechanical clicking) It all unfolds and returns into the sphere.
TRAVIS: Great word.
TALIESIN: Thank you. It’s programmable.
TRAVIS: Should we let you back out so you can find your way back?
MATT: “Do your worst.”
MATT: With a sickening snap, you can hear as the spinal column is severed at the base of the neck, and he goes limp in Grog’s grasp.
ASHLEY: Grab his necklace in case we need another one for some reason.
LAURA: Should we grab any cloaks?
TALIESIN: Grab the necklaces and the cloaks and the censer. All three of them.
MATT: Actually, he has almost nothing on him but the censer.
MARISHA: No necklace?
MATT: He has– Actually, no, he would not have one of the necklaces. Because he does not…
MARISHA: Travel through?
MATT: He has a symbol, a similar symbol, but it’s much smaller, more just a basic holy symbol of some kind. Same shape, but it doesn’t have the same thick iron presentation as the ones that you guys encountered.
LAURA: I have a holy symbol to Vecna that we took off of somebody in the original ziggurat.
MATT: Yes, and that is the same symbol.
LAURA: It is, okay.
LIAM: We’re in an ancient city. Are there the remains of furniture in here?
LAURA: I just want to take a nap or a cozy sit-down.
LIAM: No, I want to shove him in a closet or wrap him up in something.
TRAVIS: I’m putting him in the Bag of Holding as you’re talking.
TALIESIN: We can’t keep everything.
LIAM: Does anybody see any– Never mind.
TALIESIN: Is there anything of interest in this building, since we have a moment?
MATT: Make an investigation check.
LIAM: I’m going to investigate, too, because I was looking for furniture.
LIAM: And I have advantage, hold on. Investigation… 22.
MATT: Okay. You do find some furniture. Most of it’s very basic, tables, maybe a couple chairs, a couple of cots that are mainly wood boards with a thin cushion on it. The existence here was not to be– It’s a very plain city of worship. You can see everything was built here to gather worshipers, to gather the Remnants, or whatever they were called before, the last time that Vecna fell and the city was assaulted.
LIAM: Right, so this is all worse than Fallout Three at this point.
MATT: It’s on par with.
LIAM: PlayStation Three graphics.
TALIESIN: I say we make our way towards the spire.
MATT: So now, still under the guise of various undead, holding a wandering burning censer procured from the now-dead, eye-popped corpse of a wandering cultist, you slowly make your way deeper into the city of Thar Amphala, towards the tower of Entropis, where seemingly the cult of the Remnant are attempting to bring Vecna back to physical form for an even greater ritual thereafter. And that’s where we’ll finish tonight’s episode. We’ll return next week to pick up from there, guys.
LAURA: This is amazing!
TRAVIS: This is the best setup ever!
MATT: So happy. I know! I get to touch people’s hands!
MATT: I know, we’re such huge nerds. This feels so much like the home game, it makes me happy.
LIAM: Serious deja vu.
TALIESIN: All it needs is honey and brie.
LAURA: We could put food out in front of us!
MATT: Next week, pajamas and mimosas. What better way to celebrate a Vecna arc in the Shadowfell?
LIAM: Bring your dog to work day!
TALIESIN: PJ’s, mimosas, and very old puppies?
LIAM: And Charlie? Can Charlie come?
LAURA: I think it’s necessary.
TALIESIN: Charlie can run Trinket.
MATT: So guys, thank you so much. We’re back next week. I want to give another big thank you to the amazing crew and people here at Legendary/Geek and Sundry that have been working almost around the clock to make this set work, to make this table work, to make the equipment work, the lighting, the audio. We’ve taken all of your suggestions, we’ve reached out to the community, to try and make this as best and as comfortable as possible for us and you guys. I know it’s a work in progress, and you’ll watch things improve as we go, as we learn and figure things out, so thank you for your patience. But seriously, if you get the opportunity, show some appreciation for the people who’ve been working really hard to try and improve this experience for everyone involved. Thank you guys, you’re all so amazing.
MATT: In the meantime, I want to tell you all, I love you very much. Happy 101st episode. And is it Thursday yet? Good night, guys!