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Pre-Show[]

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

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

MATT: Indeed. Before we get into our game tonight, we do have some announcements to get through, beginning with the first of two sponsors, NordVPN. Sam?

SAM: This episode is sponsored by your friends at NordVPN, providers of highest quality encryption for your internet traffic, and hides your IP and physical location. They have a great promo going on right now, so go to nordvpn.com/criticalrole or use code criticalrole and get a two-year plan plus one additional month with a huge 70% discount. Protect yourself from cyber attacks and avoid bandwidth issues with NordVPN. But none of that's going to happen because of you, Matt, or should I say Ultra Kodex.

MATT: (sinister laugh) Affirma-tron, BlackWillow69. That's what it says there. You never suspected that I, your best friend--

SAM: Well--

MATT: One of your best friends.

SAM: I mean--

MATT: Fine, close acquaintance. You never suspected I was actually the Ultra Kodex all along and now I'll decrypt to the quantum web forever. So Jack Zillow!

SAM: (offended) Oh!

MATT: Last words before you get fragged?

SAM: Yes. Tonight, you may slice one hacker from the net, but Kodex, you'll never truly win. The one thing you don't understand is the interwebs isn't just techno punks like me ripping sick ciphers. It isn't bits and bytes. It isn't Pinterest and TikTok and Groupon and Plunker.

MATT: What's Plunker?

SAM: Oh, it's kind of like Instagram meets Animal Crossing meets Zoomquilt. It's awesome. You know what? I'll send you an invite.

MATT: Oh hell yeah, thank you.

SAM: Sure, no problem. Anyway, the Nordaverse can't be conquered by one souped up virus slinger and his gorgeous cyber helmet because the real root code is inside of us. It's a web of friendships that brings humankind together. That's why we hack: not for the clout or the lulz or to steal Bitcoin, no! We hack for love. That's what NordVPN stands for.

MATT: (laughs) A rousing speech. But it's too late, too leet! I already offlined your partner, the only woman you've ever loved, and now, BlackWillow, you're all alone. Prepare to be deleted. I'm going to-- here. I mean, here. (laughter)

MATT: Bah! (laughter) I don't know what this does.

MARISHA: Zig-a-zig-ah!

SAM: Oh!

MARISHA: He's not alone.

SAM: What?

MATT: What? Marisha!

MARISHA: No, my username is TechnoSpice69. And with my 90s era hacker jams, I'm going to fire up AOL instant messenger and burn you down.

MATT: But you're my wife.

MARISHA: Sorry, Latex Dork. ♪ If you want to be my lover, ♪ you got to get with my friends!

MATT: Ha! Fools! Two server simps are no match for the malware of the Ultra Kodex!

TALIESIN: Grrah! Try three, then.

SAM: What?!

MATT: Huh?! Taliesin?!

TALIESIN: I think you mean FreezyBurn69! Fuck it. FreezerBurn69, and by the honor of my power glove, I shall defend the worldwide-- the worldwide world from your analog anarchy.

MATT: But-- But you lost all your data powers in a previous episode. Who gave them back to you?

TALIESIN: The same person who gave them to me and is messing up my ability to speak: Satan. ♪ (high-pitched note) ♪

MATT: That actually makes a lot of sense.

SAM: Yep.

TALIESIN: That's fair.

MATT: Yeah.

ASHLEY: (yelling) Whoa! (Cockney accent) And he's not the only one. MadHatterson69 logging on for duty, cap. Password: Swordfish.

SAM: Whoa! Son of a glitch. Wait, what was your special hacker power again?

ASHLEY: I was on TV once.

SAM: Gah!

MATT: That's so rad.

LIAM: WALL-E. The raddest, Kodex. You see, when one of us is in danger, we all suit up and boot up. Commodore69, ready to insert disc.

MATT: Wha-- Is that a Vectrex? But they're too powerful. They have one kilobyte of power in one megahertz CPU!

LIAM: 1.5 megahertz, motherfucker!

MATT: Oh my Google.

MARISHA: You started this crypto fight, but tonight, me and my Saturday Night Divas are going to end it for Travis. For Cryptonic Override!

TALIESIN: For every web wannabe and net raker. And for Satan.

ASHLEY: Because-- (laughter) because when the going gets leet--

LIAM: Hackers click together.

SAM: That's right, team. Prepare to make the jump to the main frame in three, two, one--

ALL: Jack in! (grunting, yelling, keys clicking)

SAM: I'm hacking! Oh no, he's jamming us with an MI4: Ghost Protocol! Commodore, do something!

LIAM: Roger that, mindstorming the Narzod. Scrambling the cosmic chaos. Hatterson, I'm getting armor attacked!

ASHLEY: Leonard Part Three, Part Four, Part Five. Leonard Part Six! TechnoSpice, he's pwning me!

MARISHA: No! Slam it to the left. Shake it to the right. ♪ Two becomes one. ♪ Viva Forever. Dah! FreezerBurn, help!

TALIESIN: Te invoco, o Satana Re del convito! (yells loudly)

SAM: This is it, I'm going to do it. I'm gleaming... the... cube!

MATT: No! There's just too many of them. I'm at alert! System override. No! (laughter)

MARISHA: Did we do it?

LAURA: Wha-- wha-- What happened?

LIAM: We destroyed the Ultra Kodex with the power of love.

LAURA: But BlackWillow69, the only man I've ever loved, he's gone.

TALIESIN: Not gone. He sacrificed his body and became one with the internet.

MARISHA: To destroy the Kodex, he transferred his leetness to us and became his core element.

ASHLEY: A beautiful, gleaming cube.

LAURA: But what does it all mean?

TRAVIS: What does it mean? I'll tell you exactly what it means. The next time NordVPN sponsors the show. Matt, hack to you. (surprised yelling)

SAM: That was crazy and well-rehearsed.

MATT: We love you a lot, Sam.

MARISHA: Maybe we should--

TALIESIN: That was a lot.

ASHLEY: That was so long!

SAM: That was a 20-minute bit!

MATT: That was insane.

TRAVIS: My face is wet. (laughter) My face.

TALIESIN: So gross.

MATT: Oh, thank you for that, Sam. And thank you, NordVPN, for putting up with our ridiculous bullshit.

TRAVIS: ♪ (fake sobbing) Shake it to the right! ♪

MATT: Oh my god.

MARISHA: Ha! Ha! Ha, see ya, hold tight.

MATT: And for our second sponsor for tonight, our friends-- (laughter)

SAM: There's no favoritism. We love them both! (laughter)

MATT: --our friends at Ghostfire Gaming.

TRAVIS: Ghostfire Gaming!

MATT: This episode being sponsored by our friends at Ghostfire Gaming and their game, Grim Hollow, which is their dark fantasy world of Etharis where the gods have fallen and civilization is left to face the tide of darkness when Grim Hollow, or within Grim Hollow, actually. Players will find transformation mechanics for becoming a demon, a lycanthrope, a vampire, and even a lich. And advanced backgrounds, contraband magic items, dark fantasy spells, and a complete guide to running a grimdark campaign. Hell yes. And you can check it out at ghostfiregaming.com. And if you use the code CRITROLE, all together, when checking out, you get 10% off. I actually really want to play that. And of course, thank you to our friends at D&D Beyond, our sponsors at the beginning of this campaign, the original tool set of D&D and our show. One of the cool things about D&D Beyond's master tier subscription is that a DM can share the digital book library with anybody in their campaigns. So only one of you needs to get it. You can share it with everybody you're playing with in your campaign. So visit dndbeyond.link/master if you want to learn more. A couple other-- few more quick announcements. First off, thank you all for joining us here live on Twitch and YouTube. To join our live moderated community chat, go ahead and head over to our Twitch channel, but thank you so much for checking in with us. Laura, you got some things to chat about.

LAURA: Hello, Bees is back!

MATT: Yay!

LAURA: It's now available in the US store and maybe in the UK store. It could be there right now, check it out. Check to see. You know we pre-record these episodes. So I don't know things. It could be there. Check the store. Love you. That's my announcement.

SAM: I thought you had two things?

LAURA: No, it's all one thing.

SAM: Oh, okay.

MATT: There we go.

TRAVIS: My head hurts so much. You guys looked so dumb.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: I dare say, I think that--

TRAVIS: No, it can't be. I need, like, five minutes.

MATT: --that ends our announcements. Better get ready quick, Travis, because we're about to jump into tonight's episode of Critical Role.

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

Part I[]

MATT: And welcome back. So last we left off: The Mighty Nein, having absconded from Eiselcross to prepare and try and cut off the race against the Tomb Takers towards the center of the ruin, head to Nicodranas. Then a few other places, where they try and steal some necklaces to keep them hidden from the-- hopefully the divining of Lucien and the other magics that would wish to follow and peer into their goings on. Upon breaking into the subterranean basement of a portion of the Vergesson Sanatorium, they caused a ruckus and Master Trent Ikithon was summoned. Had a brief tense exchange. You escaped, and as such, a chase continued, as you seem to be hunted by this individual and the Cerberus Assembly. Grabbing some family members in Nicodranas, specifically the family of Veth Brenatto and Marion, the Ruby of the Sea, you went to Tidepeak Tower, tried to find a way out as it seemed Yussa was currently on, spiritually, another plane and could not give you aid. You managed to escape by sending some of you into the Happy Fun Ball, the Folding Halls of Halas, and some of you to an unfamiliar space, from what you came to discover to be the Elemental Plane of Fire. While you all managed to converge not without some temporary losses, one of which happened to be Veth's child, brought back from beyond the pale. You all gathered yourselves in Zadash, where you had, very last minute, let The Gentlemen know that you were arriving with some people that needed to stay there. One of which the Ruby of the Sea, which has a old history with The Gentlemen.

LAURA: I'm the old history.

MATT: Yep, yep. We pick up as you all have just descended the stairs, the hubbub in the inside of the basement, the quarters of The Gentlemen beneath the Evening Nip. You see everyone scatter and turn as The Gentleman bows and says, "Welcome. Welcome, friends. I am The Gentleman, a businessman and occasional client of these Mighty Nein. I appreciate privacy and discretion, so please respect that during your stay," he says in the direction of the Brenattos. Looks towards Marion. "The famed Ruby of the Sea has joined us as well for a spell. Friends and esteemed business liaisons, please make her feel welcome, lest you draw my wrath. Come, come, settle in the space. Drinks, anyone?" You-- those of a decent passive perception notice, like, he's a pretty damp fellow at most times, but he is particularly drippy at the moment.

TRAVIS: Drippy.

ASHLEY: Drippy drippy.

TRAVIS: Drippy drippy.

LAURA: I squeeze my Mama's hand.

MATT: She takes a moment. "Well, thank you, Gentlemen, very much for taking us into your protected space for a time. It's much appreciated." And he gives a nod. (The Gentleman clears his throat) "Well, (nervous laugh) come sit." And he scratches his head. Everyone's looking at him from around the room, waiting for something.

TRAVIS: A round of drinks, I think, would be a good idea.

MATT: "Drinks sound fantastic. I'll have one myself." And the bartender starts making the rounds and getting cups out, and people start picking up a bit of a conversation. There's whispers around them as some folk settle back down, but all eyes are locked on all of you and the new arrivals. Luc is still clutching on the edge of Caduceus' finger and looks over towards you and just goes--

SAM: No, he hasn't taken a bath recently. That's just how he always looks.

MATT: "Okay."

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: "Do I have to take a bath?"

SAM: I mean, at some point, yes, we should get you a bath. When's the last bath you had?

MATT: Looks over to his dad and Yeza goes "It's not been that long."

SAM: Sure, sure. You don't want to dry out his hair or anything, but you know.

MATT: "It's hard to wrestle down when you're just one person. But yeah, I think a bath soon would be good."

SAM: That's a great idea.

MATT: "So we're in, like, a bar under a bar?"

SAM: Yes! Yes, it's a secret place, but they have good food here, and good drinks, and we'll get you a glass of milk and maybe they have some chicken fingers.

LAURA: Yeah!

MATT: At which point, immediately Luc's like, "What?"

SAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: They're not real fingers.

SAM: Oh no, not real fingers, sorry, no. They're just in the shape of.

MATT: "So it's like eating a finger?"

SAM: Oh boy. (laughs) Yes, yeah.

MATT: "That's cool."

SAM: Yeah, and you can dip it in ketchup and it looks like blood.

MATT: You hear this little voice on the side go like, (breathy chuckling) "Chicken fingers."

TRAVIS: What?

MATT: And you recognize the creepy halfling individual that works underneath The Gentleman who's just kind of, (excited, creepy chuckling) "You need food?"

LAURA: I don't remember this guy. (laughs)

SAM: I feel like we would have remembered him.

ASHLEY: I'm so glad, 'cause I was like, "Dang, this guy."

MATT: You've met him a couple of times.

SAM: I'm looking, I'm looking.

TALIESIN: I think a little bit of everything and learn to read the table.

LIAM: That's right, Butterfingers.

MATT: "Okay." And he wanders off. This is an odd, odd figure.

LAURA: What's my mother look like right now? What is she doing?

MATT: She's still standing next to you. She's holding your hand and you get the sense that she's waiting for your guidance.

LAURA: I'm going to put my arm around her waist and whisper in her ear: How are you, are you okay?

MATT: "I think so. A lot has happened very quickly, and--" Her eyes are just locked on The Gentleman as he's telling people to clean tables off and getting a drink and you see him take a cup and take a glass, a giant glass jug of some sort of brackish liquor and just (liquid pouring) into his cup before takes a quick swig and gets him settled, turns around and she's just staring straight at him.

LAURA: He seems nervous, Mama.

MATT: "Can't imagine why."

LAURA: Do you want to go sit at a corner table over there? I can send him over, or--

MATT: "Certainly."

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: "Where is best to sit?"

LAURA: I look for the most important-looking table, the most private-looking, important-looking.

MATT: That's usually the one that he has in the far back left corner.

LAURA: I'm going to send her right to his table, then.

MATT: All right, she goes over and goes to sit and you can see two of the thug guards that were there look like they took some sort of series of cloth napkins and tucked them in the front of their pants to look like waiters. And they're just like holding the chair for her. They're both looking at each other like, "I don't know what I'm doing." As you're watching this, The Gentleman walks over towards you, crossing off your path as Marion goes and sits and goes, "Jester."

LAURA: Hi, Papa.

MATT: "Can I have a word with you?"

LAURA: Of course.

MATT: "We'll be right back." And he leads you up the staircase to his private chambers upstairs. And as you enter, he closes the door. (breathes heavily) "What have you done?"

LAURA: Oh, well-- Oh no, you seem very upset.

MATT: "I'm just a little caught off guard."

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: "I was not expecting this."

LAURA: I know, I know, I know.

MATT: "You brought her here?!"

LAURA: Well, do you want to keep her safe or not?

MATT: "Of course! I just--"

LAURA: This is important! Do you think I would just willy-nilly bring her here?

MATT: "Yes!"

LAURA: No! She's very scared of traveling. This is very dire.

MATT: "That's true."

LAURA: And you're the only person in the entire world who could keep her safe right now. She needs you as a protector. Don't you want to keep the woman that you love more than anything in the entire universe safe?

MATT: "Jester, it's been a very long time."

LAURA: I'm not trying to set you up. I swear, I swear, I swear. Things are very bad right now. Super bad, okay? There are terrible people chasing after us. Don't worry, we're safe. Check out my cool necklace. Oh, this is lovely music you have in your room, Dad.

MATT: "Thank you, it was getting a bit loud. I decided to go ahead and--" He claps, and the--

SAM: Get out of here!

MATT: The shitty musicians outside change up. (laughter)

ASHLEY: We're just practicing!

MATT: "I'm not going to deny anyone aid here," He sits there and thinks for a second and goes, "And I suppose it is an oddly safe space to be."

LAURA: It is. You're the first person I thought of.

MATT: "Well, as long as we're not raided by the High-Richter or anything, I suppose, but--"

LAURA: Yeah, why would you be? (laughs) That would be crazy.

MATT: "Yeah."

LAURA: Nobody knows we came here, I don't think. So everything's safe.

MATT: "What are you in? What's happened?"

LAURA: Oh god, so much. What have I told you? You remember Cree and how they had our blood, and how we had people after us?

MATT: "Right, right."

LAURA: Well, that happened. We went up to the north, crazy crazy. And I fill him in on everything.

MATT: Pretty much everything? He still has his drink with him and just slumps into a chair and takes a heavy swig and then sets it down on the nearby table on the side of his bed and goes, "My, you've all certainly been very busy. Well, that's a lot of trouble."

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "But you're certain that you weren't followed or--?"

LAURA: We have these necklaces now. Nobody saw us or were able to scry on us, you know, Mama's safe too, so.

MATT: "All right, all right. Assembly business is-- well, we avoid it for a reason, but I trust you."

LAURA: The Assembly is bad. Maybe they won't be in power for much longer, or at least not the same people. If everything goes well, at least.

MATT: "Well then, how long do you expect we need to entertain your guests?"

LAURA: I have no idea.

MATT: "You know the kind of work we do. You know the kind of people I employ. You've brought a child into a literal den of thieves."

LAURA: I know. If we can, we'll try to find somewhere safe that's more appropriate for Luc and Yeza. I don't know when that will be, though. I'm hoping you can protect them from your own people as well.

MATT: "Oh, that won't be an issue." You can see the weight on his shoulders as he contemplates and he takes a second. His eyes squint and he-- You see him abacus counting in the middle of the air. "Thankfully, we've made a decent mint in the final months of the conflict, so we aren't hurting for work at the time, at least the kind of work that could get messy in the presence of a child. I don't believe I've ever implemented a vacation to my esteemed colleagues. I'll see what I can do. (sighs) I apologize, this is just a lot very suddenly."

LAURA: I give him a hug. I know it is. It's so much for me to spring on you, and... you didn't even want to admit you were my father not that long ago, and now I'm bringing all of this into your life. I'm thankful for everything you're doing for us, and I'm-- I'm proud to call you my dad.

MATT: He just looks out for a second, stroking his chin a bit, looks back at you. "It's hard to find the words. I can't say I'm a proud father. I've not been a father. Can't say I've been a proud influence. I'm a criminal. And I can't say that I've lived up to her expectations. I'm a cad. So I don't have any expectations. But I'll do my best to keep them safe."

LAURA: She doesn't either. She trusted me to come here and I'm thankful for that. But she's just as nervous as you are. Trust me on that.

MATT: "Why, whatever for?" and he gestures out to the balcony where you can see half of his staff are all standing there looking at each other awkwardly, not knowing what to do. Tattoos up the arms. Some of them, all manner of scars, still existing, non-cleaned bloodstains on parts of their clothing.

LAURA: Please, you think Mama's not used to seeing all of this stuff? You know what she does. You know the kind of people she's been working with before. Just talk to her.

MATT: "If she wishes to talk to me."

LAURA: Ugh.

MATT: "Don't roll your eyes at me, Jester."

LAURA: Never.

MATT: "You literally just did."

LAURA: No, I didn't! I don't know what you're talking about. (clears throat)

MATT: "That's better."

LAURA: Thank you.

MATT: He finishes his drink rapidly. Sets it down. "How do I look?"

LAURA: Maybe change your shirt. It's kind of drenched.

MATT: "Shit, shit." He runs off to his cupboard and starts trying on different outfits like, "This one? Is it too much blue?"

LAURA: Ooh no, no, no.

MATT: "It's blue on blue on blue."

LAURA: No, it's nice, it's dark color, it's good.

MATT: "Like an accent, primary popping, I don't--"

LAURA: One more button. Just button one more, yeah. Okay, now go.

MATT: "All right."

LAURA: Don't think about it.

MATT: He goes and opens the door and takes a step out and stops, and turns back and looks over his shoulder at you and goes, "Be careful. Whatever you're doing, all of this, it's an unkind world out there."

LAURA: Yeah. I will.

MATT: "You're too good for most of it." And he steps out. "My apologies! I just had to tend to--" and he starts heading down the stairs leaving you alone in the upstairs chamber with the door partially ajar.

SAM: Oh lord.

LAURA: (laughs)

SAM: Oh boy, don't open those drawers. (laughter)

LAURA: (excited squealing) What could I do in here? Going to peek under the bed.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: (deep voice) Hey, how you doing? (laughter)

LIAM: No room, no room.

MATT: Modify Memory. (laughter)

MATT: Peeking under the bed. It looks to be a handful of cushions cursorily pushed beneath it.

LAURA: Oh, oh! The big ruby that I gave him, is it still here? Is it next to his bed?

MATT: Go ahead and make a perception check.

SAM: Big roll, big roll.

LAURA: 16!

MATT: Glancing about the room, you do not immediately see it.

LAURA: Drawers, drawers, drawers.

MATT: You just start going-- okay.

LAURA: I want to find it and try to put it next to his bed and-- oh, I'm going to pull out-- I'm going to make a drawing of Mama and sit it next to his bed.

MATT: Okay, going through the drawers you discover a flintlock pistol.

SAM: Magic paint and it becomes a real thing, a real person.

MATT: An actual pistol with ammunition and a little, tiny box next to it in one shelf unit underneath a desk area. You can see there is a fake drawer underneath the desk as well, where it looks like a stiletto blade is bolted up into it. Next to his bedside table there's a small, little octagonal cabinet with different sides on it. It has a drawer on top and as you open it up, the inside, you see another dagger, a small snuff box of some kind, and the ruby you're seeking.

LAURA: Well, at least it was close to the bed. Put it on the shelf. Oh, and I'll draw the little-- and I'll put the ruby on it. Like artfully, you know, like Pinteresty so it's like--

MATT: Dressing the window. Presentation of it.

LAURA: Yeah, exactly.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: If his room is messy, though, I'm going to hide things just in case, you know, she comes up here or something.

MATT: Okay, you get the sense that everything in here was rapidly cleaned.

LAURA: Already?

MATT: But in the way that a 13-year old prepares his room rapidly, where like, once again, underneath the bed, underneath and behind stuff, he's crammed things. Just discarded outfits. You know, anything that would've probably been just dropped and left along the floor has been just shunted into little pocket spaces to make it look clean at the time.

LAURA: That's appropriate. And the snuff box is actually just snuff in there?

MATT: You open it up?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: There is a material in there, a blue crystalline substance.

LAURA: Does it look familiar?

MATT: Go ahead and make a history or arcana check.

LIAM: You should smell it just to be sure.

LAURA: See, I'm scared to.

TRAVIS: Uh-huh.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay.

LIAM: Powdered paste.

LAURA: Ooh, 20.

MATT: 20! This is suude.

LAURA: (gasps) Yeah, well. I'll close it, and shut the drawer. Yeah, no, that's fine, okay. I'm going to go.

MATT: Okay, for the rest of you, as they wander off, you can see the room, which is very different from pretty much any time you've been there. And there is this unique circumstance where all these people that generally keep a very rough and checking in with a territorial presentation with the rest of you are now at attention. looking at you like, "Don't judge," and just looking about making eye contact, and then (clears throat). As Marion is seated and they give a table to you and your family. Cups are placed out and they start pouring drinks for you, your husband, and your kid, before the guy's like, "No, no, dumb, wait. No, sorry. We have milk." And one of the other guys goes like, "I think we got cheese."

ALL: Ew.

LAURA: Just water is good. Or juice, yeah, any sort of juice, maybe even in a shot glass is fine.

MATT: "I'll be right back. I got to make a quick run."

TALIESIN: A carafe, a carafe.

MATT: One of the guys exits. Most the juices they have here are fermented, it seems. But nevertheless, you guys are left within the chamber. Some of them begin bringing these really shabby wooden platters that have semi-stale bread but it's been cracked open. They're trying to make a good looking spread.

LAURA: That's so sweet.

MATT: With whatever they could find on short notice. And so it's a bunch of shitty, scavenged bar food that's arranged in a little platter. Marion's like, "Oh my goodness, thank you. You didn't have to break out the good salt."

TRAVIS: (laughs) The good salt. (laughter)

LIAM: In the time that lapsed, I have taken some of my silver thread and tied it around one of my black raven's feathers that I use for flying and under the table I rubbed some of my catmint on the feather, and say: Hey Luc, you want to see something crazy?

MATT: "What?"

LIAM: I hand him the thread. Go dangle that over my cat. (foomph) It's covered in catnip.

MATT: So you've all, at different points in time, seen varying degrees of emotion and energy levels from Frumpkin. This is a feral demon energy from the fey cat who just starts going crazy on the string.

MARISHA: Why's he making that howling noise?

MATT: Luc is just enraptured and pulling and tugging on it. And they're both just having a good time at the side of the table. Yeza's looking around. "All right, so we're staying here for a while."

SAM: I think so, or in a safe house, if The Gentleman deems that you know, more appropriate, but yes, we need to stay out of sight and this seems like an appropriate--

MATT: Waves to somebody else over there who just goes-- It's such a--

SAM: Maybe don't make eye contact.

MATT: "Oh, okay, I didn't know. Well, thank you, or Jester or whoever else."

SAM: Yeah, I think this is on Jester. I hope it's all right with The Gentleman.

MATT: "Okay."

SAM: He seems nice today. He's nice. He's been nice to us.

MATT: "Wow, um. Sorry, I'm still processing everything that's happened."

SAM: Yeah, of course. So we got out of there super fast. I'm so sorry about that. I mean, I'm talking about back at Nicodranas not the other place, but I know you guys don't have any clothes or anything. Maybe we can make some arrangements to get some brought over, and you left out some food for the pup, right? For the dog?

MATT: "Yeah. Oh no. I didn't, we just rushed. I didn't even--"

SAM: Of course, yeah, why would you have?

ASHLEY: You have a dog?

SAM: I mean, it's not my dog.

MATT: "Um." At which point, Luc's playing with the cat, goes, "Where's Nugget?"

SAM: Oh boy.

MATT: Yeza goes, "Nugget's on an adventure, like your Mama."

SAM: You know what the great part about Nugget is? He can disappear and reappear other places, so he can get out and he can get food and go to the bathroom and stuff. He doesn't always have to shit in our house like he normally does.

TRAVIS: Send him a message.

MATT: "No, he's actually taken to taking a poop in all of our neighbors houses, too."

SAM: Oh!

MATT: "Yeah."

SAM: That's a good trick.

MATT: "Yeah, it's a lot of great conversations I've had for the past couple weeks."

SAM: Oh no.

ASHLEY: Maybe the neighbors are giving him food.

SAM: Probably.

MATT: "If not, he's taking it. Blink dogs are a lot, aren't they, Luc?" He's like, "He's so funny." And keeps playing with Frumpkin with the string. Yeza's like, "Okay, well, we'll have to tackle that problem when we get to it."

SAM: You know, Jester might be able to send a message to someone in Nicodranas to go check in on the dog.

MATT: "Maybe, that might be helpful."

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: "Oh boy."

SAM: I'm sure she knows, or Marion might know a sitter of some sort.

MATT: "Okay." He grabs his cup.

SAM: But yeah, we'll just stay here until we figure out what the next plan is. Everyone, what is the next plan, do we know? Oh.

TALIESIN: Yeah. Going to the Grove. I think that's the next stop. Do we have some business to take care of here still?

LIAM: I think we're doing it right now. I'm ready. I mean, not this moment, but I'm set for the day. Do you have anything from home on your person?

TALIESIN: Everything. What do you need?

LIAM: Just an object.

TALIESIN: Oh, yeah.

LIAM: From the house you grew up in, or nearby.

TALIESIN: Yeah, that's practically everything I own.

LIAM: Just to avoid mishap on arrival.

TALIESIN: Let me see what I got.

SAM: What time is it, ish?

MATT: Let's see, you guys returned--

LIAM: It is exactly...

MATT: I'll say roughly early afternoon.

SAM: I mean, we're not going to go right this second, right? We're going to spend a day and night here, at least?

LAURA: How many days have passed since we left Eiselcross?

SAM: Good question.

MATT: Somewhere in the neighborhood of three to four, I think.

TALIESIN: That's, yeah.

LAURA: They said two weeks thereabouts, but we're playing it safe.

MATT: Somewhere between a week and two weeks.

LIAM: Yeah, we were talking about a week to play it safe.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: I feel like it should be our last stop.

TRAVIS: Yep.

LIAM: So I think we should go there at the end of the day with enough time for--

TALIESIN: Whatever we're going to find there.

LIAM: --going to find, and then we need to rest again so that we can depart promptly.

TALIESIN: Do we need supplies before we go? I'd never say no to a few different things.

SAM: We're near Pumat, right?

LAURA: Yeah, did we have anything left that we were getting Pumat to make?

TRAVIS: Nope.

LAURA: We didn't have him making anything custom that we left with them last time, right?

SAM: I think I had him making a rosé flask.

MATT: Yes.

LAURA: (laughs) That seems important now.

SAM: Definitely.

MATT: Which you could go pick up, likely while you're in town.

SAM: Cool.

MATT: (laughs)

TRAVIS: Maybe he'll have a ring of ice resistance. Make a trade.

MATT: Hey man, the fire elemental plane battle--

TRAVIS: Don't you "hey man" me! (fake sobbing)

MATT: As you guys are sitting and having this conversation some of the individuals begin to shrug back a bit and nod and scatter off and head into small side rooms or head back up the stairs as The Gentleman reenters the chamber. Catching up where he left Jester's conversation there. "Welcome to stay as long as you need. You're under the protection of The Gentleman. Need not worry. The Mighty Nein, I believe. Jester tells me you're about to probably head off before the day is done to continue your business up north, yes?"

MARISHA: Sounding likely at this point, yeah.

TALIESIN: Very likely.

MATT: "All right, all right, well, do not worry, we will keep a vigilant watch on your families, I guess," and he looks over towards Marion for a second and nods. "Plenty of time for us to share stories and catch up, should anyone be interested."

LAURA: (giggles)

MATT: "Down time. The rest of you, take the day off." They're like, "What? What's that even mean?" He's like, "Go, uh-- here," and he goes and points to one of the guys inside. He goes like-- (whispers) And a guy on the side you see, who's carrying a small satchel goes and starts like putting coins in the hands of each of the workers. He goes like, "Consider this a bonus for all the hard work you've done. Take this, don't spend it all in one place, or do so, I don't care. But just take the day for yourselves, journey about Zadash, and make it your own. (nervous laugh)" They all kind of, "Okay."

MARISHA: You should do the haunted Zadash tour, actually, highly recommended. Did that the first year I was at Cobalt Soul.

MATT: They all turn and look at one guy there, who's this shrimpy looking, Ichabod Crane fellow who's like, "Oh no, I'm not doing that again." (laughter) They're like, "No, we're doing it," and they grab him and he's like, "No, I don't want to do that again!" And they start dragging him off as they all begin to exit out. Except for the large ogre guard who's still sitting there, who's half-asleep in the back who has a little makeshift bow tie on, but it's way too small on him.

TALIESIN: Ask for Andrew, never mind. Andrew's the guy-- That's okay.

LIAM: It was actually Travis they just dragged off. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Yeah, that's true.

MATT: Yeza goes, "Well, greatly appreciated, Mr. Gentleman. The Gentleman?"

SAM: Mr. The?

MATT: "Mr. The, is that what--" (as The Gentleman) "Gentleman's fine." (as Yeza) "Right, well, on behalf of the Brenatto family we're just very thankful for the safe protection that you're offering, and if we can be of service whatsoever in this space, we do have a number of skills." (as The Gentleman) "Interesting. What kind of skills do you have, I might ask?"

SAM: Well, my son is a very talented sneaker and swiper and--

MATT: (as Yeza) "(stammering) He is far too young."

SAM: But Yeza also has his own talents. He's excellent with chemistry and mixing--

MATT: Luc goes, "I can shoot stuff!" He's like, "Shh! I indeed am an accomplished alchemist and have experience with all number of various components."

SAM: If you had anything that you needed mixed or unmixed, you know, he's your fella.

MATT: And The Gentleman sits back and looks back like, "(impressed) Hmm! Very well, I'm not here to put you to work, but if you're offering, to pass the time, at least, make yourself some coin under our umbrella. Heck," and he looks at him for a second, "Good to tell your kids some point down the line maybe, that you got to work for a criminal." And Yeza goes like, "Well, no, I--"

SAM: Do you have a sleeping quarters here, Gentlemen, that would be appropriate for us?

MATT: "Yes, yes, I have a room currently being prepared."

SAM: Oh!

MATT: You hear some shifting in the back room of like barrels screeching. And you get the sense they're clearing out one of the store rooms or making space.

SAM: Thank you. Much, much appreciated.

MATT: "Of course, of course. But for the rest of you who are making your journey, I wish you all the greatest of luck. And please come back with stories. And if you find anything particularly of curious interest that you think might fetch a pretty penny, I can connect you with some buyers. So let me know."

SAM: Do we have anything?

TALIESIN: I actually have a thought, a question. Did Cree live here?

MATT: "No, no, no, no."

TALIESIN: Okay, so Cree didn't leave anything behind?

MATT: "No, no she just up and left."

TALIESIN: Well, it was worth a shot.

MATT: "Sorry, yeah no, I don't have enough rooms to house my entire organization, but there are a few that can stay here if need be. And we do offer to those who need it, safe house detailing like you've requested. But happy to oblige. But please stay safe. And we'll take care of things." He looks back and sees you coming down the stairs now after you've rummaged through his room.

LAURA: Skip, skip, skip. I give him a wink. Skip, skip, skip.

MATT: He gives like a, "(nervous laugh)"

LAURA: (giggles)

MATT: "Well, and to Jester as well, keep them safe. Keep her safe. Seriously."

LAURA: Are you kicking us out, are we leaving?

MATT: "No, but I mean, I have things to tend to."

LAURA: Oh yeah, of course you do.

MATT: "Goodbye," and he awkwardly walks over to the bar and takes that same, takes the full glass liquor bottle (clears throat) heads over to Marion's table.

SAM: Mm, okay.

MATT: "And should you need anything, don't be afraid to ask." Kind of lingers in the moment. And Marion just sitting there pulling apart apiece of bread, looking up at him. "Well, it is greatly appreciated and perhaps I have some questions for you later today."

MARISHA: Oh!

MATT: He goes, "Um. Well, enjoy your meal," and he quickly shuffles away and heads up the stairs to his room.

LAURA: Oh, he's going to be at the room before--

MATT: And you hear him go, "What the?" (laughter)

LAURA: (humming)

TRAVIS: Are we resting this evening so that we can actually take a long rest before we go?

LIAM: At our destination.

LAURA: We--

TRAVIS: Copy that.

LAURA: Yeah, we won't be able to transport twice in one day so.

TRAVIS: Right.

TALIESIN: We'll be sleeping rough, but a comfy rough, at the very least.

TRAVIS: We are good with sleeping rough.

LAURA: Yeah. Going to grab the stuff from Pumat's and head out?

SAM: Oh, I mean you don't-- We don't have to go there on my account.

TALIESIN: I wouldn't mind just, at the very least--

LIAM: One more time for old's sake.

TALIESIN: Informing friends, taking a look, maybe finding another diamond.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah.

TRAVIS: Let's do it.

LAURA: All right, so we're not coming back here then, before?

TALIESIN: Not til it's over.

LIAM: Boy, you can just feel us running toward our destiny, can't you?

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: Oh, I was going to stick around here while you guys shopped. Is that all right?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

TALIESIN: We'll pick up your--

SAM: Yeah.

LIAM: Yeah, you spend time.

SAM: Yeah, I don't feel like, you know, leaving him right now, if that's all right.

LAURA: Of course.

MARISHA: Jester, do you want us to look for anything for you? Do you want to stay?

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Okay.

MARISHA: Diamonds.

LAURA: Yeah, just, you know diamonds, if you guys want to pick up another one of those fancy cups so we can do a couple of Heroes' Feasts, depending. A jeweled chalice would be smart.

TALIESIN: That would be a good idea.

MARISHA: Okay. All right.

LIAM: You good to go? Later?

SAM: No, you go--

LIAM: Later, later.

SAM: Oh. Yeah, I mean, we have to, I have to talk to Yeza one more time, but yeah, I think. I don't know. It was a rough day yesterday, you know?

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: A rough, jeez. Yeah.

ASHLEY: Is there anything that you would like us to pick up for Luc?

SAM: Oh, well, last time we were there, I asked. He didn't really have much in the way of toys. Plus, I already have something for Luc, I made--

MATT: (as Luc) "Toys?" He pops up from under the table. He's got a smudge in his nose and he's just crawling underneath.

SAM: We weren't, we were-- We were talking about toys, but only for your birthday, which isn't for a while, but I did get you something when I was up north, I got you, I got you this. And I'll take out this little horn, horned hat thing that I had made for him. It looks like mine. For when you get cold, it's not, or just when you want to look cool.

MATT: "Yeah."

SAM: Yeah, it's cool, right?

MATT: "I look like my mom." He holds his little toy crossbow up.

SAM: Yeah, we do look alike. We should get one for dad, too.

MATT: Fires it off and you hear this, (grunt). It's this larger looking half-orc fellow who's covering one eye, is like (pained grunt).

SAM: Sorry, sorry.

MATT: "It's fine."

SAM: Okay. You can't shoot above the neck. You know, keep it down below the neck.

LAURA: Unless you're trying to really hurt someone, you know, unless you're in danger then go straight for the eyeball.

MATT: "Okay." Yeza's like, "Ah, I mean, I can't argue."

SAM: But I think they're going to go shopping anyway. So if there's anything you need. Actually, you know what? I have-- Not that I want to do super dangerous chemical stuff around our son, but I do have some stuff to make an explosive device. And I was hoping that you would, might help me put it together at some point.

MATT: "Oh yeah."

SAM: Not now, not in this bar. Maybe we could, I don't know, do it sometime.

MATT: "Yeah, we'll find a place."

SAM: Okay.

MATT: "Likely not the interior of this space, but yeah, we can try that."

SAM: Okay.

MATT: "Okay."

SAM: A little fun project.

MATT: Looks over at Luc. "Mommy and Daddy are going to work on a project. Nothing dangerous. In a little bit."

LAURA: I'll keep him company.

MATT: "Thank you very much."

LAURA: You're welcome.

MATT: All right, so who's going for what? Who's shopping or looking about? What's the plan in Zadash?

LIAM: Find Pumat's.

LAURA: Quick trip.

MARISHA: Pumat's. Quick trip, yeah.

TRAVIS: Famous last words.

SAM: Always say that.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I want a bespoke hat. Sorry.

MATT: All righty.

LIAM: Before we go, do you have a little bit of coin still?

SAM: Oh, tons.

LIAM: May I borrow some?

SAM: Yes. How much do you need?

LIAM: 500, if you have it.

SAM: Here's a thousand. I'll give it to you in platinum so it's easier to carry.

LIAM: Thank you.

MATT: Yeza at the table is watching you give him this like "You are really making some money as adventurers, aren't you?"

LIAM: Shrewd businesswoman.

MATT: "No joke."

TALIESIN: High risk, high reward.

SAM: Well, also we don't spend that much because Caleb here gives us free lodging when we need it. And you know, bolts don't cost that much. Caduceus can make us food when we need it.

TALIESIN: It's pretty good.

LIAM: Those frequent tower points add up.

MATT: "All right."

TRAVIS: Shame on you. (laughter)

MATT: "If you are going into town, just because probably shopping in the market's not the safest thing, just--" and he starts writing down on a piece of paper--

SAM: Cereal, eggs.

MATT: Yeah. General food and survival items while they're going to be down in this safe area.

SAM: Change of pants.

LAURA: Maybe disguise yourselves before you go? Just in casies. Do you guys have a spell to do that?

TALIESIN: I can do that.

LIAM: For me. You can.

SAM: Yashie?

ASHLEY: I mean, I can't disguise myself but I'm up for, you know, being-- if you want to make me into something.

LAURA: Can I-- hmm, let me see.

SAM: Who would we be hiding from? Just the prying eyes of--?

LAURA: Any, yeah.

ASHLEY: It's not a bad idea.

SAM: We're scry-proof right?

LIAM: It's not concentration, so I can--

TALIESIN: Doesn't mean they don't have agents walking around.

LAURA: Oh, you can?

LIAM: Ja.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: Easy, for you both, for the three of us.

SAM: Oh great, cool.

LIAM: I was not thinking.

LAURA: Great.

ASHLEY: Great.

MARISHA: Make me look like--

LIAM: One of the Spice Girls?

MARISHA: Yes, nailed it. Sporty, if you don't mind.

ASHLEY: Damn. Could I be a Spice Girl as well?

LIAM: Yeah, which you--

ASHLEY: Surprise me.

LIAM: Okay. She's Posh.

MARISHA: Yeah. It kind of works.

LIAM: Scary Spice is obvious.

MARISHA: It's the little--

LIAM: Obvious choice.

MARISHA: Little black dress.

MATT: The classic historical adventuring team out of Marquet, the Spice Girls?

TALIESIN: I'm going to turn into Alan Cummings as the manager from the film.

MATT: There you go.

LAURA: Oh my god, yes!

TRAVIS: From the film.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

MATT: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: Spice World.

LIAM: I make myself look like Baby Spice.

TRAVIS: Well, I suppose I'll be a Spice Girl as well.

LIAM: You're Scary.

LAURA: No, he's Ginger.

LIAM: Oh yeah, I forgot.

ASHLEY: We are here to spice up your life.

LIAM: Yeah, to match your ring.

TALIESIN: You spice?

ASHLEY: You spice?

LAURA: Here, before you go. I give Ginger Spice all my money just to help out with-- it's only 393 gold.

TRAVIS: That's all your money?

LAURA: I've spent a lot on diamonds, Fjord! Here, that's for more diamonds or whatever else you find that could be useful for us, okay?

SAM: Jester, do you need money?

LAURA: What do I need money for?

SAM: I don't know.

LAURA: We're going up into the North to die, so I won't need it after.

SAM: That's fair, that's fair.

TALIESIN: Mittens. Mittens it is, all right. Maybe some mukluks.

MARISHA: Don't want cold hands while you're dying.

TALIESIN: No.

MARISHA: All right. To the spice bus?

ASHLEY: To the spice bus.

LIAM: Spice Girls world tour! Here we go!

SAM: They had a spice bus?

MARISHA: Absolutely they did, it was the fucking coolest.

TALIESIN: How have you not seen this movie?

SAM: I haven't seen the movie.

LIAM: Oh wow, you would love it.

MARISHA: They each had their own little area in it.

TRAVIS: No, they didn't.

LAURA: Yes.

MARISHA: It was the coolest.

LIAM: It's a good movie.

TRAVIS: In the movie or in real--?

LIAM: It's silly fun.

TALIESIN: Do it with a Josie and the Pussycats double feature.

MARISHA: In the movie, they did a "it was bigger on the inside" TARDIS thing, but they did have a spice bus.

TRAVIS: All right.

TALIESIN: The more you know.

MARISHA: Anyway.

MATT: So in Zadash, where're you going?

TRAVIS: Quick trip, "quick trip." On the spice bus.

ASHLEY: The bus will get us there quick.

LIAM: Pumat's.

LAURA: Mr. Pumat's. I'm not there.

MATT: No, fair enough.

LAURA: But I'm thinking Pumat's.

MATT: All right, so you make your way to the Pentamarket. The wind is picking up, a little chillier. The clouds are coming in a little bit so there's a little bit of a grayer sky coming for the latter half of the afternoon. Weaving your way through the streets, you eventually find your way to the familiar green wooden exterior of the Invulnerable Vagrant. Walking inside, you see one hooded figure is currently walking around and just checking out odds and ends. Couple of small books, some materials. And in the back, you can see the familiar face of Pumat behind, looking over towards the potential customer who is currently looking around and looks over to you as you enter the main entryway. "Oh, oh, goodness me. This is a fine how do you do. How are you all doing? Welcome back."

LIAM: Oh, hello. We are not a group of adorable singers.

MARISHA: Yeah, does he see through it?

LAURA: Does he have truesight?

MARISHA: Does he know?

LAURA: (gasps) Oh my god, that's awesome.

LIAM: But I'm also Baby Spice in here, so.

MARISHA: It's true.

LIAM: So hello. We're back, we're passing through town. How have you been?

MATT: "My apologies, I should have expected this was intentional. Well, it's a pleasure to meet all of you strange--"

MARISHA: Girls.

MATT: "Girls. Adventuring ladies in here. Hi, I'm Pumat Sol, happy to help you in whatever it is you might be looking for."

TRAVIS: Are there other people in the shop?

MATT: There's one other individual.

LIAM: Oh, good.

TRAVIS: Get the fuck out. No, I'm just kidding. (laughs) Shop's closed.

TALIESIN: Reel it in, Ginger. Reel it in.

LIAM: Caleb's scratchy Zemnian coming out of Baby Spice's mouth.

MATT: Yeah, so the figure in the hood is looking curiously over the shoulder before going back to looking at small little wands and orbs and random magical knick-knacks. "So you're welcome to look about the place. Still kind of sparse, but you're welcome to it."

MARISHA: We just need a few things. One, we need to pick up that flask that Lady Veth left behind.

MATT: "Right, yes, the flask that was ordered, not by you but from another person, since we first met right now."

LIAM: Yes, this was Scary Spice.

MARISHA: Yes.

MATT: "Ah, oh, don't want to figure out how you got that nickname. Uh-huh. Let me get that for you." He's just terrible at lying. He's so bad at it. I mean, one's off to the back and you hear a couple of footsteps coming down the way and be like, "Oh, hi! Bunch of new customers today. It's a happening place here." And the other Pumat comes out of his curtain goes like, "No, shh, shh." "Oh, apologies." And just goes right back upstairs The original Pumat Prime comes back out again. He goes, "Here you go. Here's your requested--"

SAM: I'm not there, but he'll pick it up.

LIAM: I will take it--

SAM: It's very confusing because I'm dressed as Not Here Spice.

MATT: Right, sorry.

TALIESIN: Spice not appearing in this quest.

ASHLEY: We'll make sure to (British accent) give this to her. (normal voice) That's right. We'll make sure to give this to her. I was trying something and it didn't work.

TALIESIN: (over-enunciating) We're also in the market for gems, if you've got any?

TRAVIS: Are you--

TALIESIN: I'm trying to do a-- I'm trying to do your role.

TRAVIS: (high-pitched grunting)

TALIESIN: Yeah?

MARISHA: This is so awkward. The most awkward we've ever been!

LIAM: Pumat, I was hoping to rifle through any scrolls you have in the shop. I know that you are low on everything, but.

MATT: "Well, I can probably muster a few. Anything in particular you're looking for? We've got a bunch of things in the back. So I guess, give me something to focus on."

LIAM: Higher level?

MATT: "Define higher level."

LIAM: Five, six, seven?

TALIESIN: And diamonds, definitely diamonds. Die-muns. Dah-monds?

MATT: "I'm not much of a purveyor of cut gems, it's not really my specialty. I can imbue them with a magical properties over an extended period of time, but I'm not a jeweler."

TALIESIN: That's fair.

MATT: "Sorry, Manny Spice."

ASHLEY: Do you have a jeweled chalice then, or no, that's still--?

MATT: "No, you got to commission those from the-- well, there's a number of folks here in Zadash that could probably do it. I can point you to a couple. To answer your question, looking for-- we're a little limited in the upper register. Cause a lot of that magic is kind of regulated."

LIAM: Ja, ja.

MATT: "(stilted) And it would be illegal to sell such magical things to random strangers on the street."

TRAVIS: (high-pitched grunt)

MARISHA: Is that guy looking at us?

MATT: No, but he's keeping in place, listening a little bit.

TALIESIN: Insight-- I was planning on insight checking this person.

TRAVIS: Eadwulf.

TALIESIN: 17.

MATT: 17?

LAURA: That's not terrible.

TALIESIN: For me, it's terrible.

MATT: They were looking through things and, since you've entered, they've done the thing where they just seem to keep going back to the same objects. And so you get the sense that they're just eavesdropping.

MARISHA: Just nosy?

MATT: (as Pumat) "But maybe-- I'll see what I can have that's more on a viable public purchasing level."

LIAM: Absolutely.

MATT: And he steps into the back a bit and comes back with a few small cases and sets them out. "These are your fundamental and low level easy to pick up magics that can be helpful for the starting mage."

LIAM: I like to go back to the basics.

MATT: "Fair enough." Kind of glancing in you see, one of them, hold on.

TRAVIS: (high-pitched grunt)

MARISHA: (snorts) Ginger is having a rough day.

MATT: Yeah, apparently.

TRAVIS: (high-pitched growl)

MARISHA: Ginger's a Muppet now, being played by Ms. Piggy.

TRAVIS: (Ms. Piggy noises) (laughter)

SAM: (like Ms. Piggy) Kermie.

TRAVIS: (like Ms. Piggy) Oh Kermie.

MARISHA: That was a pretty good Ms. Piggy.

MATT: One of them is Wall of Ice. Second one is Cloudkill.

TRAVIS: The fuck?

LAURA: Sounds cool.

ASHLEY: Was ist das?

TRAVIS: Kill a cloud, it's not that cool. 1st-level (poof).

MATT: And the--

TRAVIS: Sun!

MATT: The third and final one is called Arcane Sword.

LIAM: Arcane Sword?

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: So Cloudkill, Arcane Sword, okay. Oh boy.

TALIESIN: I'm going to grab Beau and move to the side of the shop to show something off.

MARISHA: Yes?

TALIESIN: I should make an offhand comment to throw Mr. Nosy in the wrong direction of where we're going.

MARISHA: (affirmative grunts)

LIAM: I'm perusing, perusing.

MARISHA: You know your accent reminds me, where's your accent from what are you trying to do? It's like you, but just more stupid.

TALIESIN: I was trying to do the-- Fjord's old how-- (stammering) howdy. (bad Southern accent) I don't know where it's from. Wasn't doing it very long.

ASHLEY: It sounds like you have something in your mouth.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: (normal voice) Feels that, feels that way.

ASHLEY: Like a--

TALIESIN: A big wad of gum.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MARISHA: I don't even know how to work with this, Caduceus.

TALIESIN: I'm dropping it once we're out of here, I just feel like if I stop it'll be more suspicious.

MATT: He's already committed. All right.

ASHLEY: Do you, Pumat, have things here, like, you know, clothing or cereal or supplies for living?

TRAVIS: (high-pitched) Milk, do you have milk?

ASHLEY: Milk, you know just some, some goods.

MARISHA: And diamonds and a jewel-encrusted chalice, the basics.

MATT: "I, uh-- well, I apologize, but I am not much of a purveyor of gems and or chalices, as I stated previously, nor a keeper of oats or breakfast items. I am an enchanter."

ASHLEY: Do you have enchanted oats?

MATT: "Is that a thing?" He scribbles a little note to himself. "I'll get to that later. But there are a number of places throughout the entire city where you can go ahead and find these things for a nice cheap price. And if anyone gives you any trouble, just tell them that Pumat sent you."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: Don't know if it'll help, but you know."

ASHLEY: It could.

MATT: "It'll sound officious."

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: "So any interest in these extremely low level and paltry magical spell scrolls?"

LIAM: Yeah, I will take this jumping one right here and I'll tap on the Cloudkill spell.

MATT: "All righty, that'll only be a little price." And he writes a little note and passes it over. It says 6,000 gold pieces.

LIAM: (pained sound)

LAURA: Whoa.

LIAM: Wow. Wow!

MARISHA: Still pricey.

LIAM: You know, maybe I will stick to the regular jumping just with my legs. But I will consider this. And the next time we are coming through town again. (whispers) I don't think we're ever coming through town again, I will pick it up then. Apologies for making you go to the trouble to find this jumping spell.

MATT: "No worries. But if ever you need it, you know where to find it." He goes and takes it, puts it away.

ASHLEY: Wait, do you appraise things and look at them and do that whole thing?

MATT: "I can, depending on the object."

ASHLEY: Because I've-- I've been wanting someone to look at this and tell me a little bit. I'm going to pull out my Tuskborn press plate-- breastplate, I'm not sure why I said press plate. My armor from Obann.

MATT: Right, right.

ASHLEY: I've just always was curious about this. Is it magical at all or it's just--? How much do you think something like that would go for?

MATT: Well, real fast. Have you been wearing this?

ASHLEY: No.

MATT: Where has it been kept?

ASHLEY: In my bag.

MATT: Okay, so you just have this breastplate in the bag? Okay, got it. I'll allow it, I'll allow it. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I mean, if that feels, I mean, I don't know why I would carry that big in my pack bag.

MARISHA: Just for a change of breastplate.

ASHLEY: Yeah. I mean--

MATT: I'll allow it, I'll allow it. It's fine. “Why, let me go ahead and take a second, let me--" and he pulls his goggles down and adjusts one of the lenses on it and takes a look and goes, "Well, it's certainly got some, some magical enchantment here. Oh yeah, this is, uh--" he pulls the goggles up. This is of an infernal make. Most definitely. Got some bad energy."

ASHLEY: Yeah. Do you-- what does something like this cost?

MATT: "Well, something like this you'd either have to get from somebody's odd collection or probably through some nefarious means. How'd you get it?"

ASHLEY: Somebody gave it to me as a gift. A lovely gift.

MATT: "Well, whoever it is, you might want to question where they got it. This thing's got a-- got a dark legacy behind it."

ASHLEY: Yeah, I figured as much, but I just wanted to--

TRAVIS: We should get the fuck out of here.

ASHLEY: --check in.

MATT: "If you're looking to get rid of it, I could probably take it off your hands. I mean, I can think of a handful of folks that would want to probably add it to their collection, if you want to part with it."

ASHLEY: I'll give it some time. We'll be back for the scroll later.

MARISHA: Maybe we can find someone to sell it to in Darktow.

TALIESIN: That's not a bad idea.

MARISHA: Yeah. Since we're headed that direction.

TRAVIS: To Darktow.

MATT: "Wait, you're heading to Darktow?"

MARISHA: Yeah, just don't tell anybody.

MATT: Leans over towards the guy in the hood who, like, puts something away in a satchel and starts walking out. "I'd just be careful. That's a-- that's a place of bad folk."

MARISHA: Mm-hmm, so we've heard. Well, wish us luck, Pumat. Anybody need anything else before we get the rest of our groceries?

LIAM: No, it's been a pleasure doing business with you over the months. We hope to see you again.

MATT: "Of course."

LIAM: Soon.

MATT: "You know where to find me. Just come on by whenever. Hopefully, in a few more months here we'll have a better stock. It's got cleaned out recently, but check in."

TALIESIN: Is this a new cleaned out or the same old cleaned out?

MATT: "Mostly same old cleaned out. You know when most of this was confiscated by the Assembly, just went disappearing past enemy lines. And I've been trying to rebuild some sort of a rapport here with new objects and items, but that takes time."

TALIESIN: Makes sense, makes sense.

MATT: "Yeah, Zadash wasn't built in a day."

TALIESIN: (sighs)

LIAM: Well, I'm sure we will be back before too long.

MATT: "Well, I look forward to it. You still doing this illusion thing next time? Kind of hard to concentrate and try to focus on which one's which."

TALIESIN: Hopefully not.

MARISHA: Only if you would like us to come back and spice up your life.

MATT: "I'll think on it."

MARISHA: Okay, next tour then.

TALIESIN: Spice life. (laughter)

MATT: "All righty."

TRAVIS: Please, god. (laughter)

MATT: All right.

LIAM: Anybody else have anywhere else to go? I don't.

TALIESIN: Chalice and diamonds, if they exist, but other than that, we can just roll.

MATT: Whoever wants to helm that, make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: Not me.

MARISHA: I'll try it.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: I will assist.

MARISHA: Ooh, okay.

LIAM: Look, over there.

MARISHA: That's both pretty good, both pretty good. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Ye Olde Pier One.

MARISHA: 30 total.

SAM: Whoa!

ASHLEY: Damn.

LIAM: (air horn)

MATT: (clears throat) So jeweled chalices, on the scale of cost that you would need and what you're looking for are very, very hard to find because they're usually made to order. It's not like somebody just sits there often with a massive gold chalice or jeweled chalice ready to go ahead and sell off to anybody and it just stays in their window. That would be an invitation.

SAM: There isn't a Faberge egg store around that just happens to have-- (laughter)

MATT: You find something akin to it. There is one. One that is available, but only after asking around, getting a bit of a feel for where such a place would be able to be located. Let me find the proper... There it is. So it's worth 1,000 gold pieces. You do find it. It is a little bit upcharged to 1,100, but it is ready and available.

MARISHA: Do they have any diamonds?

MATT: This individual does not have any major diamonds. They have really, really small ones, like Swarovski crystal style.

MARISHA: Oh.

MATT: And that's going to be the challenge here, too, is diamonds aren't available on a mass scale. There isn't De Beers blood diamond trade here in the empire, necessarily. And most ones you find will be smaller and you'll have to consolidate them over time.

TALIESIN: We'll probably take what they've got because we always need powdered diamond anyway, so.

MARISHA: Can I ask if he'll throw in some of these diamonds and then we'll call it 1,100?

MATT: Throw in, no.

LAURA: (laughs) Throw in some diamonds.

MATT: But you can make a perception check to try and haggle a bit, if you'd like.

MARISHA: Persuasion?

MATT: Sorry, persuasion.

LIAM: Persu-eption.

MARISHA: That's what I was getting at. This is my strong suit. Ooh, I rolled a 19, though, for 20 total!

MATT: All righty. (laughter)

LIAM: I'm a real boy!

MARISHA: That's the most first-- I did it, you guys!

MATT: Little bit of haggling, little bit surprising yourself in this circumstance, but you manage to, between the chalice and about 150 gold's worth of smaller diamonds of various sizes, some that are used for ring insets, some that are used for earrings and other bits of accessory jewelry, about 150 gold worth, you get it all for 1,150.

MARISHA: Deal.

MATT: So you knock 100 gold off the whole deal with the 20.

ASHLEY: Tight.

MARISHA: I'll pay for it.

ASHLEY: Good haggling.

TRAVIS: Holding.

MARISHA: He thought I was smooth.

ASHLEY: Dude, you were.

MARISHA: Smoothest I've ever been.

ASHLEY: Yeah, it was amazing.

MARISHA: Pretty great, thanks.

ASHLEY: Yeah, no, good work.

MATT: Anything else?

MARISHA: Maybe I should go into sales.

LIAM: No, I'm feeling we are going to un-spice pretty soon and we need to be moving on anyway.

TALIESIN: Let's call it.

LIAM: That's a good look for you.

TALIESIN: Thank you. I know, I feel dapper.

LIAM: It works.

TALIESIN: Probably drop the accent, though. That was a-- experiment's been going poorly lately.

LIAM: You're better at accents than I am.

TALIESIN: I don't know, you've got a-- show me something.

LIAM: (low-pitched, slow, American accent) Oh, Wild Mother.

MARISHA: No, you're better-- you're better than him.

TALIESIN: Wow.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Had a good tone, though. I thought you were going to start chanting.

LIAM: Mm, bop bop.

MARISHA: Yeah. That's a good one, that slaps.

SAM: Heh.

MARISHA: Mm, mm. (laughter)

LIAM: Well, let's go, because tick tock.

MARISHA: Before two become one, oh!

MATT: As you guys are making your return in that direction, we'll go ahead and move over to those who have stayed behind. So Jester and Veth, what would you like to do while the others are away?

SAM: Hang out with my son, play, entertain, could give him a tour. See if there's any pictures to show him or anything fun to snoop around to look at.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: There is-- a storage room has been altered and cleared out and a bed has been moved from another room into this one to give it a little more of a private space. But it's a large bed. It'll easily fit both Yeza and Luc. It smells a little dingy, but it's not terrible, especially given the short notice that they were given here to prepare for it. There are a lot of other rooms that are locked.

SAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Intentionally so. But you go ahead and do a little pass around the vicinity.

SAM: I could unlock some of them, but I won't, I won't. I won't abuse our host. No, that's it, just a little tour around and I don't know how long they were gone, but you know. Just hanging out, and also peeking every once in a while on Marion, seeing how she's doing and if she's made any moves to The Gentleman, maybe.

LAURA: I'm distracting her at the table, telling her stories and you know, just trying to keep things light while also keeping an eye on The Gentleman.

MATT: He has not left his room. (laughs) But Marion is very happy to catch up with you. She's adjusting to this unfamiliar space and is liking the attention and with her presence, too, you can see a lot of people in the room, a lot of the employees of The Gentleman who at first were taken aback and awkward are starting to listen in, too. They're starting to get invested in these tales that your mom is telling. And once again, she carries a room. She definitely-- it's hard for eyes not to eventually fall upon her with her force of personality and charisma. And as you guys are talking, there are a few moments where you stop and extend your awareness beyond just the two of you, and you can tell the whole room is leaning in your direction, but yeah. She seems to be in better spirits now that you're out of this chaos that you've been dragged through these past day and a half. But she goes, "Jester, I... I get the sense with everything you've told me that what you're all going to do... All of this sounds extremely dangerous. And I know you will do wonderfully. You have every time. You continue to surprise everyone. You consistently break expectations. You, my sapphire, are capable of anything."

LAURA: It's, um-- It's very dangerous. I don't know what exactly we are going to have to do. The last time we tried to go against these people, we-- It went really bad. I didn't want to tell you. I don't know-- I don't know if we'll come back. I think we will, I hope we will. But if we have to stop them and it takes us with it, then that, I think, will be worth it. That will be worth it.

MATT: She puts her hands out, clasps yours in hers. "Sometimes, fate brings us to places we never expected to be. And there are rare moments where individuals have the chance to really change the future for everyone else. To protect those who may or may not know they need protecting. And it's... I am challenged to find the words to describe how proud I am of everything that you've done. But you are my sapphire, and I want you safe. I don't want a martyr for a daughter."

LAURA: I don't want to be a martyr. I want to come home.

MATT: "Good. Promise me that you will. If it begins to look very bad, that you come home."

LAURA: I promise.

MATT: "(sighs) I'm sorry, I know I'm being a little selfish here, but--"

LAURA: No.

MATT: "Just--"

LAURA: It'll be okay, Mama.

MATT: "You're so smart, and you have such talented friends around you. I have all the faith. And you're smarter than all of them, so if they need to be reminded--"

LAURA: Some of them are really smart, really smart.

MATT: "But none are you."

LAURA: You'll be safe here. And you don't need to stay forever, just, you know... Just for a while.

MATT: "All right."

LAURA: Okay. Maybe you can give a concert later, that could be fun. A secret concert, that could be bad. Don't give a concert. That would let people know you were here. That was stupid, don't do that. Just for Papa, (laughs) or not, if you don't want to. Oh my gosh.

MATT: She reaches out and grabs the edge of your chin and just makes you look at her. You can see her eyes watering. "I'm proud of you."

LAURA: I'm so proud of you.

MATT: "I know you'll come back."

LAURA: Of course.

MATT: "It seems, eventually, everyone does." She looks off, towards the staircase.

LAURA: He'll come down soon enough.

MATT: "I don't know if he will. He seemed pretty spooked."

LAURA: Well, nobody's gone up there.

MATT: She takes her wine and drinks heavily. (laughter) Sets it down. "(sighs)" And she stands up, grabs and squeezes your hand for a moment. Begins humming under her breath (hums) and then slowly walks through the room towards the stairs.

MARISHA: (laughs)

LAURA: I just watch her.

MATT: Yeza's in the process of, "I mean, I can imagine all the number of chemicals would be useful for somebody who works beneath the laws of the empire. Poisons, toxins, caustic materials. (stammers) I don't even know what would be needed."

SAM: What would be needed to work with the empire, you mean?

MATT: "No, no, no, what would The Gentleman need?"

SAM: Oh, I don't know. Well, I mean, he's into all sorts of underworldy-type businesses. He might need chemicals to identify precious stones.

MATT: "Okay."

SAM: Chemicals to drug people or to cure people from being drugged as well.

MATT: "Okay, okay, yeah. I kind of offered my services without thinking it through. It just sounded cool at the moment, but then now it's really bad, but--"

SAM: No, no, no, I think this is the stuff of cutting edge alchemy that you'd be perfect for. It's fine and all to just make the standard, same mixtures every day of your life. But if you get to do some interesting, new stuff and blaze a trail, that could be really interesting.

MATT: "Interesting?"

SAM: Yes! You know, you could have your own sort of adventures within chemistry, of course. But, I mean, coming up with something new that no one else has done before, inventing something.

MATT: "What if it's illegal?"

SAM: Well, yeah, I mean, there's that. But you know, I can ask what the laws are on that sort of thing. I don't think a chemical can be illegal. Maybe how it's used can be, but--

MATT: "Right, right."

SAM: You're okay. I mean, I don't think there's rules against, like, you can't own this chemical.

MATT: "Plausible deniability. Yeah, yeah."

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: "Oh boy. (sighs) What are we doing?"

SAM: (chuckles) I don't know. I'm a really bad parent.

MATT: You look over and Luc is curled up and passed out in the chair next to the table. He's burned his energy out from his initial arrival. And Yeza rubs the hair out of his forehead a little bit. "I don't think that's true. I think we're learning how to parent."

SAM: Mm-hm.

MATT: "And maybe, maybe not chose the safest gifts to give him at times, but-- but we're figuring it out."

SAM: I just want him to be happy and I-- you know. I know what he really needs is just time, time with me and time with us as a family. That's what I really want to give him. In the meantime, I've tried to give him things to make him happy and excited. Distract, but he needs us all together, very soon. I need it, too.

MATT: "I need it, too."

SAM: Yeah. Hopefully, this will all be over soon.

MATT: "I hope so."

SAM: Thank you for-- thank you for coming and for being in this stale beer-smelling place with our son.

MATT: "You know, it's life experience and it's going to make for some pretty funny stories when he gets older."

SAM: Mm-hmm, yup. Wonder what he's going to be like. Maybe he'll rebel and be super boring.

MATT: "That would be a rebellion."

SAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: "(sighs) If he's anything like you, at least. This the last one for a while?"

SAM: I think this is the last one, yeah.

MATT: "Okay."

SAM: God, I hope so. I mean, I can't imagine anything bigger than this. And if there is, then no thanks. No, I'd rather be here. Well, not here, this is gross.

MATT: "This is, yeah, it's not optimal."

SAM: But you know, with you.

LAURA: Hey.

SAM: Sorry.

LAURA: I go back to doodling on the table.

MATT: (laughs)

SAM: Anyway, yes.

MATT: "There's some cool places in Nicodranas that I've scouted out that I want to show you when we get a chance."

SAM: Oh yeah? Different places to live or to work, or both?

MATT: "Different places to show you. You don't, I'm learning, have to have a motive for everything you want to do. Sometimes fun for fun's sake."

SAM: (chuckles) That sounds novel. I'd love to see them. And I love Nicodranas, everything but the water. I mean, the rest of it is great. I think we could live there.

MATT: "I think so."

SAM: All right. Two weeks, we'll start a new life together.

MATT: "Okay, two weeks. I'm holding you to that."

SAM: Feel free.

MATT: He gives you a little kiss. While the rest of you are returning--

LAURA: Oh, can I walk over before?

MATT: Sure, yeah.

LAURA: And just say, "Hey, love birds. You need some time, I can watch the little one."

SAM: That's very kind of you, Jester, but--

LAURA: For boning and also for making stuff. I thought you were going to make something.

SAM: We are going to make stuff. I mean, he is asleep, but if you want to do some bomb making right now, I'm cool with it.

MATT: "Yeah?"

TRAVIS: Bomb making.

LAURA: Yeah, I can watch Luc, totally.

MATT: "Okay, let's go-- let's go make some bombs."

SAM: Okay, yeah.

MATT: "Yeah."

SAM: Let's make some bombs.

MATT: "All right." (laughter)

LAURA: Wear yourselves out. Have a good time.

MATT: (laughs)

SAM: No, but really, let's make some bombs.

MATT: "Okay, well, yeah." Okay, what did you want to make?

SAM: I have material to make, I think, two Fluffernutters.

MATT: All righty.

SAM: Or maybe one really powerful Fluffernutter, I don't know.

TRAVIS: Ooh.

LIAM: Still all euphemism. (laughter)

MATT: Your choice, two regular or one powerful?

SAM: How about two regs?

MATT: All righty.

TALIESIN: Always go [inaudible].

SAM: Because one could fuck up.

LAURA: That's true.

MATT: So you have proficiency in alchemist tools? Or alchemy kit, or?

SAM: I believe I-- well, I wouldn't have it anymore because it would have been stolen with all of our stuff.

LAURA: The alchemy kit, yeah.

MATT: Right, Yeza would have-- oh, but he had to rush off.

SAM: But when we were at somewhere recently, I bought a bunch of materials to make these things.

MATT: You did, you did, you're right.

SAM: The components that I would need.

LAURA: So you probably would have bought another one, because that was after our stuff got stolen.

MATT: And to be fair, anything you didn't have, The Gentleman's facility probably has something that could work for it.

SAM: Hm, nice.

MATT: So okay, I'll allow it. So if you were are proficient, is what I'm saying, with alchemists kit or not?

SAM: I don't-- how would I know that?

MATT: It would be under your proficiencies in the lower left.

SAM: Under proficiencies and languages, it says, "Tools: alchemist supplies."

MATT: Yeah, great.

SAM: Okay, great!

MATT: So go ahead-- go ahead and roll a d20, add your proficiency modifier and your intelligence modifier, with advantage because Yeza's helping you.

SAM: Okay, that's terrible. Proficiency and what?

MARISHA: Aw, you having a little Ghost moment?

TALIESIN: Intelligence.

MATT: They're both just pouring the chemicals. He's behind her.

SAM: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. (laughter)

MATT: Oh my god.

LIAM: Oh, don't mix those!

LAURA: ♪ Oh my love ♪

SAM: My proficiency is five, yes? That's not great. 14. (laughter)

MATT: That's not bad, that's not bad.

LAURA: Not great.

MATT: No, that's not bad. If you were making the big one, that might've been something else. But you go ahead and you barely, barely craft a Fluffernutter.

SAM: Oh wait, plus intelligence, you said?

MATT: Plus intelligence modifier.

SAM: Oh, 15, okay. That's still slightly better.

MATT: Okay, yeah, you barely pull off a Fluffernutter. Do you want to go ahead and try for the second one?

SAM: Woo! That was refreshing.

LAURA: Maybe this time, Yeza can be in front. (laughter)

LIAM: I need to wait five minutes before the next one.

SAM: Natural 20!

LAURA: Yay! (claps)

ASHLEY: Eyy!

MATT: For a total of?

SAM: 20 plus proficiency is 25, plus intelligence, 28.

LAURA: Wait, your intelligence is three?

SAM: I'm doing the plus three on intelligence?

MATT: Yeah, your modifier.

SAM: Yeah, my modifier. That's right, that's right?

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: Should have been 17--

LAURA: Yeah, your last addition was fucked on your--

SAM: No, I looked at the wrong thing. I added two instead of three.

LAURA: Oh, okay.

SAM: I don't know.

MATT: Don't doubt his math! It's fine, it's fine.

SAM: No, no, it's-- I was wrong.

MATT: All right, so go ahead and you make a Fluffernutter. And you make a Fluffernutter with an asterisk.

LAURA: (gasps) Ooh.

TRAVIS: Yo.

LAURA: That's exciting.

MATT: So just write that down.

LIAM: That means twins.

SAM: Hmm, Fluffernutter--

ASHLEY: Ooh!

LAURA: That means you also got pregnant. (laughter)

TRAVIS: No, Lucian, don't! I'm with child.

SAM: Okay, thank you, thank you.

MATT: All righty, while the rest of you are returning from your shopping trip, you pick up some general supplies. Yasha, based on the requests that were made, you pick up general food, dried goods, milk, juice anything else that they do not seem to have or are able to provide at the moment, until they begin to take care of their guests for the time being, as they're heading back. (as Trent) "You run like you carry a guilty conscience. Absolve yourself and tell me why I shouldn't continue to pursue." You hear in the center of your head, Caleb.

MARISHA: He's so up in your DMs.

LIAM: For once in your very little life, consider that there are things larger than your own machinations. Take some time off.

MATT: No response yet.

LIAM: Zero confidence in that.

MATT: So you all eventually regather, down in The Gentleman's lair. What would you like to do?

LIAM: Well, first, I don't know if Pumat is price gouging or what, but it was too steep for us. And I didn't really see-- I was really just doing it for old time's sake. I just-- I love being here, I love his shop, but it was not cost-effective, so here's your gold back. Your platinum back.

SAM: How much do you have just in general?

LIAM: Like four hundo.

SAM: Why don't you take another six hundo, just so you have some money.

LIAM: I don't think they'll have shops where we're going.

SAM: Yeah, but what if you have to barter with a fey creature or something, I don't know.

LAURA: Fey creatures don't want gold.

LIAM: Eh, give it to your husband, save it for your kid.

SAM: Okay.

ASHLEY: I got a lot of groceries for Luc and for Yeza.

SAM: Oh, thank you!

ASHLEY: We've got enchanted oats.

TALIESIN: Oh, thank god.

ASHLEY: A lot of it is just way too sugary sweet cereals, and then weird food like bugs and--

LIAM: Enchant-- (laughter)

LIAM: Enchantios?

ASHLEY: All of the important food and protein you would need.

SAM: Did you grow up on this stuff?

ASHLEY: No, I've never tried it, but it was so colorful, so I bought it.

SAM: Thank you so much, Yasha.

ASHLEY: Welcome.

SAM: I think you can keep the bugs because we have enough, because we're fine.

ASHLEY: I wouldn't want to take all these. I feel like-- he needs to eat.

SAM: He does. You know what? I'll just take a handful because I think we're going to be fine, so.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay. I'll keep them for myself, then. Whew.

SAM: Thank you, thank you, and one more thing. I keep forgetting to do this and I've been meaning to. I have a gift for you. It's not from me. I was going to do it on our date, but you know, sort of fell through. But here, I have this really old, dry flower now. It's a white flower.

ASHLEY: Aww!

SAM: It's not from me, it's from that woman-- Vilya? Do you remember her from Rumblecusp?

ASHLEY: Yes, of course.

SAM: She wanted to give it to you and I forgot, I forgot to pass it on.

ASHLEY: Thank you. I'm going to put this in my book and lay it in here and I'll press it with the rest.

SAM: I'm glad.

ASHLEY: Thank you. (sighs)

MARISHA: Got a jeweled chalice.

SAM: Oh, shit!

LAURA: Gimme!

MARISHA: Jester, catch!

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

LIAM: Ooh!

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: I'm really good at catching things.

TALIESIN: I wasn't worried about you.

MATT: As she drops it. (laughter)

LIAM: Start painting.

TALIESIN: I got some glue, we can put that back on.

MARISHA: Caduceus, diamonds. (grunts) Yep.

TALIESIN: Nope. (laughter)

MARISHA: (scattering)

TALIESIN: I got it, one second.

LIAM: There's the dust.

TRAVIS: Good thing we got time.

MARISHA: All right. We ready?

TALIESIN: Nope. (exhales)

TRAVIS: Yes.

SAM: Caduceus?

ASHLEY: How are you feeling?

SAM: Yeah, what are we doing?

TALIESIN: We are following the Wild Mother, who has been helping us along this path. And I feel that she... wants me to go home, if just briefly. There's a reason for it.

MARISHA: What are you going to do if it's not briefly and she wants you to stay?

TALIESIN: I don't think she does.

MARISHA: Do you?

TALIESIN: I don't, I mean, I-- wait, what?

MARISHA: Want to stay?

TALIESIN: I do.

LAURA: (laughs)

MARISHA: Home.

TALIESIN: That's a-- I don't know if that's a fair question.

MARISHA: Wasn't trying to play mind games.

TALIESIN: In that case, yes.

MARISHA: In time?

TALIESIN: Let's go.

LAURA: Let's go!

MATT: (laughs)

TRAVIS: Short stop.

LAURA: Ooh, ooh, ooh! Righty before we leave, I'm going to send a message to Yussa.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Oh, shit.

TALIESIN: Oh, shit.

ASHLEY: Oh no!

TALIESIN: We're the worst.

LIAM: Yes, we are.

LAURA: To see if he's okay.

LIAM: Probably not.

LAURA: Hopefully the message will-- I don't fucking know. I'm going to send a message to Yussa.

SAM: Could he go feed our dog?

TRAVIS: Or conscious, we don't even know if he's conscious.

LAURA: I don't know if he's okay, I need to check on him.

LIAM: He could be--

TALIESIN: (dial tone)

MARISHA: Yeah, he's still--

TALIESIN: We're sorry, the person you are trying to message has been disconnected.

TRAVIS: Only a few people are going to understand that.

TALIESIN: I know.

MARISHA: True.

MATT: We're dinosaurs. All right.

LAURA: Yussa, are you okay? We sort of came through in a hurry. I hope you're okay. I hope you're not mad. Are you okay?

SAM: Oh god.

MATT: Immediately, you hear this... unexpected sound. Layers and layers and layers of voices, screaming, wailing, shouting, screeching.

LIAM: Oh no, he's there.

MATT: Hundreds of voices, thousands of voices. And then it ends.

LIAM and ASHLEY: (gasping)

MATT: We're going to go to break.

ALL: (yelling) No!

MARISHA: What does it mean?

LIAM: At least we have a friend over there.

LAURA: That's where he was like, sending his brain to the freaking astral plane!

LIAM: Yeah. He's chilling at the city.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

SAM: He's still in it.

LIAM: Well, his body's in the tower.

TRAVIS: How did he get there? What was he--

LAURA: Remember, he was astral projecting.

LIAM: Astral projected self is hanging with the Somnovem. Probably.

LAURA: He's probably trapped right now.

LIAM: Maybe?

MARISHA: Is he trapped?

ASHLEY: Yeah, what if he's stuck?

SAM: He doesn't have a body to go back to! (gasps)

TALIESIN: He's got a body, it was right there.

ASHLEY: His body was there?

LIAM: We hope.

SAM: His body was probably sliced in half by Ikithon!

MARISHA: (panicked laugh)

TRAVIS: Cool.

MATT: Well, regardless--

MARISHA: No! What's happening?

MATT: We'll come back here in a few minutes.

MARISHA: Maybe it means we have a contact when we get there.

MATT: Sure.

LIAM: Maybe he's there or--

MARISHA: We can stay in his loft.

MATT: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Is that--

LAURA: Oh my god.

TALIESIN: Are those three teeth yours?

MATT: (cackles)

TALIESIN: Akira out--

MATT: Oh yeah, oh yeah. All right, we'll see you guys here in a minute.

Break[]

The night is darkest before dawn. But fear not my child, for dawn is coming. Arabell, where are you? Oh please, no. The darkness has taken this world from us, how much more will we let it take before we have nothing left? I'm sorry, we are closed. We know she's in here, give her up and we'll go easy on you. We dream at night of a kinder world, only to find it slip from our grasp when we wake, leaving us broken. Ah, we found you. (zombie moaning) (glass breaking) There's no way out! Push! (men groaning) (door slamming) However, this is not a nightmare we will simply wake up from. (door breaking) (zombies growling) Salvation is within all of us, all you have to do is fight. Fight for the ones we love. I'm coming Arabell. Fight for who we are. (fire bursting) Fight against the darkness that seeks to enslave us all. (arrows firing) For while there is still breath left within us, Etheris is not truly lost.

Dwarvenite, the most precious substance among Dwarven smiths. Able to absorb the very spirit of the craftsman. (magic ringing) Thus infused, it becomes nearly indestructible. Able to forge heirlooms what will last for generations. (smith yelling) (anvil breaking) Pure dwarvenite, now you can get your hands on this legendary substance with the new Dungeon of Doom. Available now at dwarvenforge.com. (fire bursting)

Matt, speaking of never getting old. (both laughing) You have decided to Zoom into the show from where tonight? I'm having a hard time, it looks a little bit like it's the top of the Statue of Liberty's torch, but I'm having, it could be either that, maybe the Christ statue of Rio in Brazil, where exactly are we tonight? To be fair, I had a lot to drink last night, so I'm not entirely certain, so this is as much a surprise to you as it is to me. One of those woke up in a dumpster behind Arby nights, huh? Yeah, but a little tall for that, unless this is a very tall dumpster, in which, culturally, we do worship the trash these days. Oh wow. So could very well be-- Is that a slight on this program? No, I don't know what that's a slight on. How could you slight on this program? (all laughing) You can slight something that's at the bottom. Yeah, I was just gonna say, I was just gonna say.

(typewriter typing)

Hey critters, Laura Bailey here, let's see what's up in the Critical Role shop. (bees buzzing) Oh my gosh, it's so amazing. The cuteness, it's overpowering. It's so cute, I can't handle it. (crow cawing) Oh goodie, you can look just like my brother. I mean, the Traveler always says impulse purchase are a good decision. (mouse clicking) So click on over to the Critical Role shop. Don't worry, there's a few more minutes in the break, you still got time.

(stool rattling) Hello everyone, it's me, Marisha Ray, Creative Director for Critical Role content, and I want to take a moment to speak from the heart about how much we appreciate your support, no frills, no crazy gags, just honesty. Over the past five years we've made a lot of ridiculous promos in an attempt to earn your subscription here on Twitch. We've leaned on juvenile prop humor, cheap costumes and putting our loyal employees in slightly embarrassing situations eagerly hoping that we've captured your attention. Today I am not resorting to edge lord jokes written by Brian W Foster, or dressing Sam as a celebrity to recreate an obscure commercial most people haven't seen to remind you that subscribing with a Twitch Prime account requires to resubscribe each month. We don't always need an elaborate green screen gag or have to put Matt in cosplay to tell you that you can easily gift subscriptions to fellow critters if you're feeling generous. I mean, hell, I've consumed entire production days shooting complicated parody promos feature Taliesin Jaffe as a vintage spooky boy in full monochromatic glory all in the hope that your smile may turn into a sub. But not today, no weird graphics, no puppet murder, no Sam Reigel. It's just me, here to say thank you, love you all, goodnight. (Marisha blows kiss)

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back.

MARISHA: (softly) Fish sticks? What?

MATT: So, Mighty Nein, gathering your things and preparing your final moments here in Zadash. As this experience is happening, Jester reaches out to Yussa and has a revelation, as a series of screams seem to be the retort that she receives.

ASHLEY: What's the matter?

LAURA: He's with the city.

TALIESIN: Is that what he--

LAURA: I didn't hear him. I didn't hear anything. I just heard-- (sighs). I just heard the screams. I just heard the city.

MARISHA: All right, well.

SAM: Is the screams just the city or is it all--? Where is it? The Abyss?

LAURA: I don't know what it is. It's the people living in the city, I don't know.

MARISHA: The Astral Sea.

SAM: The Astral Sea. Does all of the Astral Sea scream?

MARISHA: Well, no, we've been there before.

LIAM: Yeah.

SAM: So he was in the city?

LAURA: I don't know, he didn't answer me.

SAM: Do we have anyone in Nicodranas who can go check on him?

LIAM: You could ask his butler.

MARISHA: Wensforth.

LAURA: I could, tomorrow.

LIAM: Tomorrow.

LAURA: I have no more sending spells today.

MARISHA: Oh man. I guess, I mean, I can use a higher level.

SAM: Wensforth? Wensforth.

MARISHA: Wensworth? Forthwens.

LIAM: You know what? Think about it. We are going to be going to sleep not too many hours away. Not much is going to change for Yussa between this moment and six hours from now. If he is either in real trouble-- well, he's up shit's creek, yeah? So save it, and we go. And if you don't need it for anything else, you can conserve your power and then--

LAURA: Use it before we go to sleep.

LIAM: And then do it. Ja.

LAURA: Okay, okay. He couldn't be separated from his body, the way that Molly was, and he's just trapped mentally in the city, could he? Could his body be broken and--

LIAM: What do I know about that kind of thing?

MATT: Make an arcana check.

TRAVIS: (laughs) That's a "who fucking knows?"

MARISHA: Yeah, right.

SAM: So many d20s.

LIAM: I should've gone with the one that just fell on my iPad. That is just a 16.

MATT: 16?

LAURA: Veth rolled a 15 and she made a fluffernutter!

LIAM: It's not too bad.

MATT: You don't know too much of that scale of magic. Astral Projection and astral travel to that degree is extremely powerful magic. Especially to project one's spirit away from the body. You're not sure, really. You could go one way or the other.

LIAM: What did the voices sound like? Can you do your best approximation of it?

LAURA: (assorted screaming) Just a lot of that sort of thing. Nothing really saying anything. Just screaming, sounding tortured.

TRAVIS: All unhappy screams--

LAURA: Pain.

TRAVIS: --or some that are like, "Hey, oh, it's great in here!"

LAURA: There could be one and it's just drowned out. You know-- I don't know.

LIAM: It's like the sounds of Action Park.

TRAVIS: I'm fine. Oh, my concussion.

MATT: Somnovem's just a huge Beatles concert.

LIAM: Hmm. And we have the last dream, which was screams of pain, fear, terror, agony.

MARISHA: Lots of screaming.

LIAM: Good stuff, good stuff. All right, well, we have a plan. We'll stick to it. We will check with his friend. What do you have for me to get us to your home?

TALIESIN: Oh, I remove the dragonfly cloth that runs through my armor. That ought to do it.

LIAM: Is this room okay? Do you mind if we depart from in here? Can I draw on your floor?

MATT: Couple of guys look at each other. "Yeah, I imagine there's all right."

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: "Do you need us to move the table out of the way?"

LIAM: Ah, ja, that would be helpful, thank you.

MATT: "You're welcome." (laughs) They're really out of their element in this whole hosting thing. (creaking) They move some tables out of the way.

LAURA: I use Thaumaturgy to blow the dust on the ground away from the area that Caleb needs to draw on.

MATT: It is a cloud.

TRAVIS: Is it really dust, though, or is the grimy, sticky stuff on the bottom of the bar floor?

LAURA: That's still stuck?

TRAVIS: Let's be honest. We know what that floor is like.

LIAM: Sticky alcohol floor.

TRAVIS: There's no dust.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Some other things.

TRAVIS: Just that Laffy Taffy. (laughter)

TALIESIN: That's not sawdust.

LIAM: Okay, so I put down a little bit of old parchment of mine and I put the fabric that Caduceus has given me on top of it. And then I start to, with chalk, draw out from there, from the center, and I spend my five to 10 doing that and get to the very end.

SAM: As you're doing that, if I may, Caduceus, can I just have a word with you?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: Can I pull you aside for a second into one of these weird, stinky alcoves? Hey, I just want to say thank you again for saving my son's life yesterday. It was-- I mean, it was everything to me, so thank you.

TALIESIN: It was the least we can do. You've raised a good kid, by the way.

SAM: Yeah. No, yeah, he's great. I want to-- I feel like I owe you for this and I want to come help you with whatever you're doing here. But also, I kind of want to stay. And so I thought I'd ask your advice. What you think I should do.

TALIESIN: (exhales) What's your biggest fear?

SAM: I would say it's not coming back, but that's not it.

TALIESIN: But why?

SAM: It's not it. I think my biggest fear is for him, for Luc to... expect me to leave.

TALIESIN: Well, any advice I have in that direction is obviously going to be a bit thin. I'm not a parent. I was a child once, though. So I have experience in that direction. Every parent eventually leaves one way or another. And I suppose there's nothing you can do for a child to protect them from what the world will eventually do to them. I certainly can't imagine this is what my parents really wanted for me. But they allowed me to do this. They built me to do this and to be happy doing this. My happiness has occasionally wavered, but it's held. And I feel like you've instilled that in your son. The dark times are going to come and maybe you'll be there and maybe you won't. You're working hard to make as few of them happen as possible. But I don't fear for his happiness in the long run. Well done.

SAM: And what about mine? Do I care?

TALIESIN: I don't know. I think your parents really messed you up. (laughter)

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

SAM: Do you need me right now?

TALIESIN: I do, for what it's worth. But I think we all need each other's happiness also. So that's important. No one of us is here to sacrifice for the others, really. We all have to be in it together. I can't even imagine what you're going through.

SAM: Well, it's much better than it could have been without you.

TALIESIN: I appreciate that, but... genuinely, I can't imagine how much it is and what a burden it is. And how much you sacrifice is-- everyone knows. More than others, I think, although I wouldn't say that out loud to everybody else.

SAM: I'll tell them.

TALIESIN: I figured.

SAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: I need an end to this, too. But I don't think it's here yet and I'm hoping to see it.

SAM: Well, I needed you yesterday and you need me today and I guess that's it.

TALIESIN: For the record, when this is over, it's no debt. We're always here for each other. Even if we're not in the middle of it. Happy to do it again a year from now, a decade from now. Whenever, I'll be there.

SAM: Thanks, I appreciate it, Mr. Clay.

TALIESIN: Try not to blow me up again. That would be nice, too.

SAM: Sure.

TALIESIN: That's what I'll ask.

SAM: Okay. I'll aim for somebody else.

TALIESIN: Fjord's looking flammable.

SAM: He always does.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Thank you, I appreciate it.

SAM: All right. Caleb, you almost done?

LIAM: Yeah, are all the Brenattos here right now?

SAM: Is he asleep?

MATT: They're present, I'd say, yeah. Luc is a little sleepy eyed, but.

LIAM: All right, well, when I near the last few strokes of the sigils on the ground in chalk. Luc?

MATT: "Yeah?"

LIAM: Come a little closer. So we are going to go again, but when we come back, we would very much like to stay. In the meantime, thank you for lending us your mother. We need her to keep an eye on us.

MATT: "Yeah, she's strong."

LIAM: And don't worry. I look over his shoulder at his father. We'll keep an eye on her, too.

MATT: (as Yeza) "I trust."

SAM: Don't do any dangerous experiments while I'm gone.

MATT: "I wouldn't think of it. I only get to do those with you."

SAM: Yeah. And keep him close. Don't let him out of your sight.

MATT: "I don't intend to."

SAM: And take this potion, just in case. I don't know what could happen, but just take it.

MATT: "Honey, I think you're probably going to need that more than I would, if we're staying in here."

SAM: I hope not.

MATT: "I hope not, either, but you made us both a promise."

SAM: Okay.

MATT: "You promised."

SAM: It's a promise. I'll be back real soon. And then whatever you want to do for the rest of your life.

MATT: "Well, I should start thinking now, then."

SAM: Yes.

MATT: "We'll get on it. I'll have Luc help me with some ideas." (as Luc) "What?" (as Yeza) "Don't worry about it now."

SAM: All right.

LIAM: You ready?

SAM: Yeah.

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: Jes, are you ready?

LAURA: I'm going to just run up the stairs really fast and put my hand on the door. I'm not going to knock or anything.

MATT: Okay. You hear low voices, conversation.

LAURA: Okay. And I'll come back down.

LIAM: Yeah? Okay, auf Wiedersehen. (whooshing).

MATT: (whooshing) You all, one by one, go running into teleportation chamber to--?

SAM: Oh, shit, he forgot to pick a destination! We're done!

TRAVIS: (tearing apart)

SAM and ASHLEY: (screaming)

MATT: Correct, so this is teleport spell, not the circle. You all--

LIAM: I don't need it, right. I can just go.

MATT: Yeah, there's no circle.

SAM: That's just for flair.

LIAM: Just for flair.

MATT: Yeah, there's still a casting process to it. Still a casting process.

TRAVIS: "You wrote on our floor."

MARISHA: It's a curse.

TALIESIN: It's just a circle of dicks.

MARISHA and MATT: Yeah.

MATT: There's a brief moment after you all leave and one of the guys, like, "He didn't even use the circle." (laughter) Smash cut to--

TALIESIN: Banksy. Boom!

MARISHA: Hopscotch squares. (laughter) A game of Four Square for them.

MATT: You all set foot on a soft, mossy, grass-covered and earthen ground as you emerge from wherever this arcane sudden surge brought you into the shaded center of the Blooming Grove. You see yourself surrounded by the dense canopy of the Savalirwood. The sky above, a dense gray color with a gentle rain that is falling and immediately beginning to soak coldly through you. Wind blowing a bit. That storm that you saw coming seems to have begun to set in this far north of where you were. Looking around you, you can see the exterior of the Blooming Grove. When you first arrived, you could see the Savalirwood's corruption was beginning to encroach upon the grounds. It had bypassed the exterior stonework and fencing. But now, as you glance about with the light that you still have, you can see that it has blossomed. Thick, uncut grass rises up bright green. Flowers and other roots all begin to intertwine as ivy now grows over the iron fences. Beyond that, you can see a number of these odd, if beautiful, purple crystal structures. These almost tree-like, twisting pillars of natural, purple crystal that sit at the perimeter of the grounds. They ever so faintly thrum with a faint light. (thrumming)

LAURA: Caduceus, this is beautiful!

TALIESIN: Yes. Oh, it's your first times.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Yes.

MARISHA: Oh, yeah, that's right. Yasha's too.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

LAURA: (giggles) You grew up here? This isn't at all how I pictured the cemetery.

MARISHA: It looks a lot healthier.

TRAVIS: The crystals are natural? That's supposed to happen?

TALIESIN: Well, it depends on your definition of natural.

LIAM: A little different than how we left it, though.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

ASHLEY: Caduceus--

TALIESIN: This is the way it was described to me when I was younger.

ASHLEY: Am I allowed to pick a flower? Or do I have to leave them here?

TALIESIN: There are rules.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TALIESIN: You have to read the name. There'll be a stone. You'll have to read the name, think about them, ask permission, and there has to be more than one bloom. So that one bloom is always there. And don't take more than one.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TALIESIN: And if you get a weird vibe--

ASHLEY: Leave it.

TALIESIN: --don't pick it.

ASHLEY: I'll wait a little bit, then.

TALIESIN: I can show you where my family flowers are, too.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TALIESIN: But you'll know if you're not supposed to. I don't worry.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: While it is still mid-afternoon-ish, the darker storm cover that's blowing in tends to shade the atmosphere. And you can see the faint, warm glow from a window from the Clay abode that sits near the center of the grove itself. You can see a bit of smoke coming out through the chimney.

TALIESIN: I'm going to walk to the temple and knock on the door. (knocking)

MATT: The door, you hear shifting of metal. (metal sliding, door creaking) And there, on the other side of the door, peeking through the warm, candlelit glow, from the interior, you see Constance Clay, Caduceus' mother peeks out.

TALIESIN: Hey, Mom.

MATT: "Caduceus."

TALIESIN: I have friends with me.

MATT: "My goodness. Come here." She opens the door and just gives him a big hug.

TALIESIN: I should take-- okay, oh.

MATT: Pulls back a bit.

TALIESIN: I'll take this off.

MATT: "My, my, my, you're all getting soaked. Come in, come in, quickly. I'm so happy to see you. Come, come, come. We need to make some more tea."

TALIESIN: I'll start taking off the layers of armor and ridiculous. And just take off anything that's wet and put it in the corner by the fire.

MATT: You all enter the beautiful interior of the temple. It's simple, but very well kept. The interior has a very wet earth and herb scent to it. It almost seems to change by the moment as you sit in there with the breeze that comes through the distant windows that are currently open to let that fresh rain smell mingle and push through the various scents. And you can see dried herbs and dried flowers and other things that have been hung. Some that look to be in almost ceremonial wreaths. Some that might be being prepared for other things like steeping. You can see all sorts of lanterns that are gently flickering throughout the interior chamber. Very simple furniture, probably long ago crafted from some of the trees nearby. Carpentry may have been a trade of a Clay before his time. And within a very, very short period of time, you hear other footsteps beginning to approach and a few other figures arrive. You can see Clarabelle, your younger sister. Actually, no, that's your older sister. Comes out and glances. He's got a lot of siblings.

TALIESIN: I do, and they all have the same name. (laughter)

MATT: Glances out. "Caduceus."

TALIESIN: Hey.

MATT: "Hi."

TALIESIN: You look shorter.

MATT: "You look wetter."

TALIESIN: (laughs)

MATT: She comes up and it gives you a clap on the shoulder. Behind that, you see Caduceus' father, Cornelius, steps out from behind and he has what looks to be a cup of some sort of hot, steaming liquid. "Oh, Caduceus, I didn't know you were coming. All right."

TRAVIS: (laughs)

TALIESIN: A bit short notice. Things have been moving kind of quickly.

MATT: "I can imagine. I mean, we sensed you'd find your way here soon, but maybe just not quite this soon."

TALIESIN: Well.

MATT: "Tea, everybody?"

MARISHA: Yes.

LAURA: Yes, please.

ASHLEY: I'll have some.

SAM: Sure.

MATT: "I'll get to that, right now. Don't worry about it."

TALIESIN: Thanks, dad.

MATT: "Dry off a bit." He turns back and as he curves around the corner to head to a back chamber, you see Calliope just peeking around the edge. She still has the hat on that you gave her. Takes the hat off, hides it. And then leaves the room.

TALIESIN: It's good to see she's doing well.

MATT: "Well," Constance says, "doing as well as we can. Sleepless, or at least restless nights as of late."

TALIESIN: Me as well. We have a lot to discuss. Where's Colton, where's Corrin, where's Aunt?

MATT: "Colton and Corrin are actually out doing a trade run to Shadycreek. Likely to be back in probably the next couple of days, two to three days, but I'm sorry that they weren't here to greet you."

TALIESIN: That's okay. I'm just glad to see anybody here, and to be honest, it's-- I've never seen this place looking so good, so healthy.

MATT: "Us either in some time. That's thanks to all of you."

TALIESIN: Well, things are afoot. I suppose. Instead of, again-- I'm going to cast Exposition at 3rd-level.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Counterspell.

TALIESIN: (laughs) Shit! Dick!

MATT: As the family that's present begins to close in as you tell this tale and this impromptu story circle begins to build out of the space in the entryway of this temple. With each additional stage of danger that is discussed about the city, about the visions that you've had, there is a noticeable shift in tone. Constance, looking at the rest and making eye contact says, "A number of us have been having visions in our meditations and dreams. The comfort of the Wild Mother sometimes coming with an undercurrent of warning. Anxiety, dread, anticipation of something unknown just over the horizon. That question, like something lurking in the shadows beyond your sight in the forest. We haven't been able to place it, but-- (sighs) It's an odd feeling, like, like every time the sun set, we were watching it set for the last time. Does that make sense, Caduceus?"

TALIESIN: Yes, yes, it does. I-- I don't want to infer too much because things have been so strange and so unexpected. But... I fear for everything. I've had dreams of this place touched by such-- I hate to even use the word evil. Malformed. I was-- You trained me against to-- to protect this place from the undead and from the perversion of death. But I have seen-- I have seen life twisted in terrible ways that make any death seem like a mercy. It's-- It's a lot out there.

MATT: You see Cornelius is going around refilling everyone's tea and goes, "Well, Caduceus, that's, um, unsettling. Calliope, do you want to talk to your brother?" Calliope comes forward and sits down. "I don't know how to describe it necessarily, but we've all had these desperate-- disparate thoughts and feelings. It feels like it has some connection to you. And if this vision that you had, this terrible thing that you're all making your way north to deal with, if that's the connection that I'm feeling so strong here, then I don't want you to go."

TALIESIN: Yeah. (sighs) I know.

MATT: "Like, you-- you've-- you--" You see, Constance goes, "Please, my--" She says, (as Calliope) "No, no, no, let me talk. All right, you've done your thing. You went out. You followed the Wild Mother's visions. You put together the salvation of our grove. Right? Like, you-- Why don't you just come back home? Stay here. Respectfully, let these folk deal with the problem."

TALIESIN: Is Constance making a face about this?

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Where is it at?

MATT: That maternal... worry for you. But also kind of knowing your answer.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm going to go outside.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: I'm going to go to the-- I'm going to go to the spring and sit by the spring for a second.

LIAM: It's a lovely home you have here.

MARISHA: Yeah, the tea is very nice. (clears throat)

MATT: (as Cornelius) "Well, thank you very much."

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: "There's certainly more where that came from. I can go ahead and settle some more plates for dinner. We've got all manner of mash tubers and--"

LAURA: Ooh, yum.

SAM: All manner of tubers?

MATT: "Well, we have three different types here I can prepare."

SAM: That's a lot of tubers.

LAURA: Oh, do you have the golden tubers?

MATT: "Don't know if I do."

LAURA: Yellow tubers?

MATT: "Yellow."

LAURA: Yellow?

MATT: "Yeah."

LAURA: Yeah. Those sound good.

LIAM: Those are good.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: I ate those growing up.

LAURA: I'm going to pull out some of my baked goods that I bought on our last shopping spree and just sit them out on a plate for everyone. Sorry, I touched them, but they're pretty yummy.

MARISHA: Here, Cornelius, let me help you get some plates.

MATT: You see they're all looking a bit perturbed with Caduceus's exit.

MARISHA: Perturbed, like irritated?

TRAVIS: Flummoxed.

MARISHA: Flummoxed?

LIAM: Tubered?

MARISHA: Tubered.

MATT: Constance begins to make some little conversation while Calliope gets up and leaves after Caduceus. Now you're out there by the spring, and the rain is starting to really come down now as the light to the afternoon begins to slowly climb towards the end of day. You hear in the distance (thunder rumbling). You see the distant flash.

TALIESIN: I'm just going to stare at the-- oh, lilies in the pond. I'm just going to-- I am not ready to go back in there.

MATT: You hear the gentle footsteps, wet footsteps of someone approaching. (as Calliope) "Look, I'm just being honest. It doesn't mean I expect you to listen to me."

TALIESIN: If you're going to talk, sit.

MATT: "Fine." She plops down next to you, just still looking down at the spring.

TALIESIN: I know it was supposed to be you. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want any of this. I was going to be the one who-- I was going to be the one who stayed. I know. Sometimes I feel like I stole this from you.

MATT: "Sometimes I think that, too, but--"

TALIESIN: I have seen things that are amazing, beautiful beyond anything I could have imagined. And I have seen things that have taken parts of me, and I will wake up in the middle of the night for the rest of my life. There are-- it is so big. And I don't know what you saw while you were gone on your travels, but it is just so big out there. And I didn't want it. Maybe a little. After you left, then Colton left and Dad left, even Clarabelle left. And time stopped meaning anything. And it was too quiet. And the Wild Mother wasn't speaking. And I was just here, keeping home, and waiting for a sign to leave. You know, I started eating the petals of the lilies. It was one of those old stories that this was the first-- one of the first plants that maybe it had more of the first power that started this place, and I started having strange dreams. I hadn't even thought about them until we, I returned, 'til today. And even those first dreams told me that this was coming. And if I were done, they would've stopped. And I don't want to go. I have-- I never-- I wasn't going to come home because I knew I wasn't going to want to go. But I don't want you to go either. Because it has to be me, because I've already seen it, and it will just horrify me just a little less than the rest of you. I want to be done. I want you to go and not do this. To be-- I want it to be your turn.

MATT: "(sighs)" She takes her rock and throws it into the water. (water splashing) And throws her wet hair back across her shoulder.

TALIESIN: Smells so good.

MATT: "Yeah. It's just frustrating."

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: "It's frustrating that you've gotten out and see the world and-- and you've-- I don't know, you made me proud in spite of myself. And then--"

TALIESIN: Well, give me time.

MATT: "I hate admitting it, but it wasn't my time."

TALIESIN: I still wear everything you gave me and everything you made for me. Never, never put any of it down.

MATT: "(sighs)" She reaches in her pouch, and she pulls out something and holds it and goes, "Thanks for the hat," and hands you this thing in her hand. You look and it's a bracelet, woven from silken burlap, that has glass beads periodically throughout it. It's simple but elegant.

TALIESIN: You still do good work. (sniffs)

MATT: "That'll smell like home for a while, so while you're off, I don't know, fighting this city or something."

TALIESIN: Look at what the world has done to my hair.

MATT: "I know, it looks awful."

TALIESIN: It's so terrible.

MATT: "I trust-- we all trust in your instincts. You've always been the, of everyone, the one who just had a-- a better sense of how things were meant."

TALIESIN: Clearly, I was wrong about my thoughts that I was going to stay here. Can't always be right.

MATT: "No."

TALIESIN: And my sense, and I want to make sure you know this, is I don't think I'm coming back. And I'm not okay with it, but I'm making peace with it. If there's a way for my body to get back here, I'd be very grateful, but there's every possibility that that won't happen. I'd like my name somewhere if I'm-- if there's nothing to bring back. That would be a comfort.

MATT: Her demeanor gets extremely dark, cold, almost, as her eyes meet yours. It's odd to feel so close to your sister and in that moment feel so far away. She nods. "I'll look to it."

TALIESIN: And I want you to take care of everybody. And especially, I want to make sure you take care of yourself, and don't, don't get locked up here on my account. Your job is to get everyone situated and then make sure that you find whatever destiny you're supposed to have. I don't think you're supposed to be here. Not forever. Let Colin do that. It'll be funnier.

MATT: "(chuckles) You're not wrong."

TALIESIN: I'm thinking about, now that I'm here, doing, talking to the Wild Mother or maybe trying something a little out of the ordinary, seeing if she has something to say while I'm here.

MATT: "Well," and she stands up a little bit while you're still sitting, rain splashing across her face, still coming down. "May have to talk kinda loud."

TALIESIN: And I stand up with my staff, put the bracelet on. Do you know, and I don't know if it's true, but there's a version of the story that says that they had, with the first hero that gave this place its power was put in the ground where the spring erupted from, and that point, and the flowers that grow from there, are the first flowers. I know that there's a lot of stories told, but that's the one I believe. I'm going to take the crystal off of my staff and put my staff down. I'm going to wade a little bit into the water. I'm going to take one of the pebbles and put it in my mouth, and I'm going to take a deep breath, holding the crystal, and step into the deeper points of the spring, and let myself take a big breath, and let myself sink and try and I guess Commune is the spell to cast.

MATT: There is no better time but to cast Commune under these circumstances. All righty.

TALIESIN: I'm going to use it in an unusual way.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Since I'm here.

MATT: Explain.

TALIESIN: I have been getting visions. I have been getting-- it's not quite a yes or no question that I want to ask. I want to... it's not quite a plea for help, but I want whatever blessings that she can give and whatever, whatever she can do to make the road clearer and whatever she can do to make the notion of what we face stronger.

MATT: As you descend beneath the waters, the cold spring waters, as the water overtakes your hearing, you can hear the muffled sounds of the rain breaking the surface. And then as you give in--

TALIESIN: Casting this.

MATT: --to the depths, the waters around you begin to warm, the rolling thunder begins to fade, and you feel almost like you're being cradled, like something has scooped you up from underneath, and that warmth is welcoming. It smells sweet. It smells like, like a fresh rose after a rain. And as you concentrate for this focus, you sense that warmth will never truly fade, for the clarity of what you face, that warmth grows cold, and you sense something, open your eyes, like two fingers pull your lids open, and before you, you can see the visage of the Wild Mother, massive and all-encompassing before you, her beautiful brown skin, long red hair, every part of her just adjoining with nature. And she looks towards you with a sad face, and you see below her, in her amorphous body, seeds, seeds that when you begin to focus, the distance, the size, the scale, the scope, is so odd and off from this perspective, but each of these, these aren't seeds, these are, these are beings, these are souls, these are lives. These are... this is life. Everything living connected. And you can see it all connected to her, and she just looks at you, sad. As you hear the screams filtering in, the endless thousands of screams, and you watch as each of these seeds, these lights, go out. And the color fades from her, and you watch her wither, her eyes never leaving yours. And as best as she can convey, I think you understand the scope of what it is you face.

TALIESIN: If I'm deep enough, I want to touch the bottom of the spring.

MATT: You reach, and you find the muck, you find the roots, you find the bottom.

TALIESIN: I'm going to take a big handful and wait till I'm almost out of breath and then start making my way back to the surface.

MATT: (deep breath) Calliope stands there at the edge, still looking. "Did you find what you're looking for?"

TALIESIN: Unfortunately. I get my hands nice and dirty. If I don't come back, it's your job to protect this place from whatever's coming. If I fail, she'll tell you what to do.

MATT: As you step out of the water, she leans in and just wraps her arms around you for a second, leaning her head on your shoulder, takes a deep breath and pulls back and looks at you, and kicks you into the water.

TALIESIN: (exclaims) And I'm down. (laughter)

MATT: And she walks back into the house.

TALIESIN: (sighs) Just going to take a second to float.

MATT: Feeling the rain on your face. The last bit of light begins to fade into that distant blue.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I had that coming, okay. (sighs) I'm going to pick up my things, and go back inside and make some apologies to the family.

MATT: Okay. Meanwhile, for the rest of you, a meal begins to apparate. Food is being prepared, and while it is a vegetarian meal, you shouldn't be surprised at this point, make very good vegetarian food, as he has.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

MATT: The smells fill the space, and the warm comforts of the Clay family brings a little bit of additional sense of home before this last leg of your journey begins anew. Conversations are had.

TALIESIN: I, uh-- I gained some clarity, I want to apologize to everyone for that, that bit of-- that unfortunate outburst, I suppose.

SAM: Out-- Outburst?

TALIESIN: I'm not normally one to storm out.

LAURA: Apology not accepted, I'm sorry. It looks like we can't travel together any further.

TALIESIN: A blood feud it is, then, excellent.

SAM: I mean, you just sort of walked out normal speed.

MATT: Cornelius is like, "Wait, what happened?"

MARISHA: But there is a storm going on, so maybe that's what he meant by storming out.

SAM: Wasn't very dramatic.

TALIESIN: They've been a very bad influence on me, I'm going to have to get rid of a lot of language.

TRAVIS: What kind of clarity did you gain?

TALIESIN: Hmm?

TRAVIS: What kind of clarity did you gain?

TALIESIN: Well... I don't want to go, I don't want to leave home, but that is not on the car-- that is not on the table. That is not an option. There is-- I don't think there's any way out of this for any of us.

LAURA: Well, yeah.

TALIESIN: I, uh-- Before I met you all, I had started, I apologize, Mom, Dad, it started in sort of inducing a connection to the Wild Mother through the ingestion of certain flowers. Coping.

MATT: Constance, you hear her turn around and go, "Ugh! He gets that from you."

TALIESIN: Hoping to gain some insight as to what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to save my home. It had been so long, and it seemed like its significance had ended, and coming home reminded me of the, the last vision I had before you all arrived, which was, I remembered, I saw this river of dark water that the bottom that could not be seen, and it would move, it moved through, through the valleys and emptied into the ocean. And then I saw the forest. I saw this mighty forest, and the trees had eyes. The trees had eyes. And then I looked into the sky, and the sky had eyes. And then I looked down, and there was the spring, and there were eyes at the bottom of the spring. And then I turned to my family grave, to the stones of-- the stones of the Clays, and nine strange butterflies drinking from the nectar of those blooms. There's no getting out of this.

LAURA: (indignant spluttering) You had that dream forever ago?

TALIESIN: I had a lot of dreams forever ago.

LAURA: But, ugh! You had a dream about eyes?

TALIESIN: And then you showed up.

LAURA: (spluttering)

TALIESIN: I thought I'd-- I thought it all made sense at the time. It felt like someone was coming at the end of it, that I was expecting something, and the next morning, here you were.

LAURA: Well, not me.

TALIESIN: Not you, but--

SAM: But us.

TALIESIN: I woke up and started packing, and there you were. And then I made tea.

SAM: Well, that's reassuring in some ways, you know? It's like it was fated to be.

TALIESIN: I feel like a lot of things were maybe fated to be.

MARISHA: Eyes.

TALIESIN: That was a long time ago.

LAURA: Whoa. All that was in motion that long ago.

TRAVIS: Well, we're back here now. Is there anything we can do here before we go? Is there a source of corruption, something that your family has detected? Something that you're being pulled towards?

LAURA: That's true. We're here because of the vision that you saw.

TALIESIN: I've seen something of what the Wild Mother wanted to tell me. Is anything else-- have you seen anything else? Has anything gone awry?

MATT: "Hmm." Then they turn to look-- they all look at each other and-- (as Cornelius) "No, not in particular. Just a sense of something coming. It's hard to describe, just a growing, a growing fear. I wish I could give more detail." Looks over to Constance, who goes, "I'm just worried."

TALIESIN: Me, too.

MATT: (as Constance) "I feel like whatever this is, this is more than the Grove by far."

TALIESIN: It is.

LIAM: Well, feels like we're here for the night.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I do appreciate this. I'm going to resupply on a few things I can only get here.

LAURA: Oh, okay. Yeah--

LIAM: Caduceus, it's-- it's nice to have a home-cooked meal. Four walls and a roof for a spell.

TALIESIN: I was going to say you're welcome to put up the mansion, if you are so inclined, although I will admit I found the house oddly cozy.

MARISHA: I like the smells in this place.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: It smells good.

ASHLEY: I have to say, I-- this is one of the most wonderful places I think I've ever been to.

TALIESIN: I would recommend walking the grounds.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LIAM: Uh, Jester. Before the end of the night, remember, maybe we can check in on--

LAURA: Definitely, we can, I can cast-- I can send messages to lots of people.

MARISHA: Caduceus. This feels like a place with lots of tranquil energy and connection and maybe some rich arcane vibes.

TALIESIN: You are not wrong.

MARISHA: You think if I did some meditating of my own that I would have maybe a better chance at success, or do you think it's not the right kind of vibe?

TALIESIN: I think this place is very special, and this place is for a conflux of deities. It was built by one for another, and faiths of all sorts are buried here.

MARISHA: What if I want to try and contact something that's not of a certain faith?

TALIESIN: What do you want to try and contact?

MARISHA: I just point to the back of my hand.

TALIESIN: Hmm.

LAURA: (whispers) That's a bad idea.

TALIESIN: I don't know where the safest place would be. I'll say, if you walk and find a place that feels right, I trust you. Find a-- find a stone that feels right.

MARISHA: We showed up on your doorstep. You don't think that this could be bringing more darkness and corruption into your life, do you?

TALIESIN: I would be impressed if we could find a way to bring more darkness and corruption into our lives. What's the point of... What's the point of maintaining a place like this if its job is to be useless in a time of hardship? This is not a bunker. This is the Wild Mother and this is the Arch Heart and this is their place. I'm not worried. She'll tell you if she doesn't want you to do it.

TRAVIS: Just to be clear, there's no corruption here? I thought you had a vision of something that was corrupting the trees or the ground, or something we're going to be investigating that might give some sort of a shade of what we would be seeing.

LAURA: Yeah, the city was taking over here.

TRAVIS: Your family hasn't noticed anything like that? Nothing we can check, or?

TALIESIN: Well, I'm going to do a walk around anyway.

TRAVIS: Constance, Cornelius, you've seen nothing like this? Your family?

MATT: Constance thinks for a second. "No, I mean, ever since the completion of your trek, and when you saved us all from that horrible stone-bringing creature, the crystals you brought back fought back the corruption of the forest, and the Grove has been cleansed. It's been saved."

LAURA: Is that a sign? Should we do something with the crystals? Do you think that would help us against the city? Maybe you got a vision of the city overtaking here because it's so angry that it got forced out.

TALIESIN: Is there still corruption at the edges?

MATT: (as Cornelius) "Oh, yeah, the whole wood is still the wood. Just the Grove is protected now."

TALIESIN: Does anyone want to take a walk?

TRAVIS: Yes.

LAURA: Sure.

ASHLEY: Yes, I would love to.

LIAM: Well, if you're going, we're going to keep an eye on you.

TALIESIN: Calliope?

MATT: "Of course. Clarabelle?" She's like, "Yeah?" (as Calliope) "See if we can muster | up enough blankets and cushions for our guests to sleep semi-comfortable tonight." (as Clarabelle) "Okie dokie." She runs off.

TALIESIN: I want to take a walk at the edges and inspect the new crystals and take everyone around to see what they see.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: See what the borders look like now.

MATT: You all step out into the evening rain now. The light quite dark. If any of you want to bring some particular light sources or create some light sources it would be recommended at this hour.

TALIESIN: (light igniting)

MARISHA: Can we get some globules, maybe, Caleb?

LIAM: Yeah, if you want dim light, I can do that. If you want bright light, I can do better, but probably dim.

MARISHA: Yeah, matches the vibe.

LIAM: (globules popping into existence)

MARISHA: (surprised noise)

MATT: As you guys begin to walk around this fresh post-dusk hour, the Grove is beautiful. And as you peruse the exterior, you can see the elements of those crystalline trees, the four that have magically assembled since their implantation at the outskirts of the Grove. The trees themselves are semi-translucent. There's purple and pink, almost woven threads, like braided textures of different types of crystal that bind and twist into each other. The roots themselves extend and follow the perimeter of the premises. They stand probably eight, nine feet tall, thin, but nevertheless stalwart in where they're placed. Looking past where the trees are, and there is a radius around them where you can see the greenery continues past the outer edge of the fence that contains the Grove, and about three or so, four feet from the outer edge, you can see the grass begins to get ever so faintly darker, and dryer, and the heavy tree canopy beyond there almost immediately becomes the familiar corrupt coloration of the rest of the Savalirwood. That odd, purple-gray color to the leaves. And while you may have questioned it beforehand, there is some element of similarity, in some ways, to the forest you had encountered in the Aeorian ruin and Eiselcross. Different types of trees, but the corruption is somewhat familiar.

LAURA: What did it do here? How did it get all the way down here?

TALIESIN: This is old, it's the same--

LAURA: So is the fucking city.

LIAM: Few thousand years old.

TALIESIN: This corruption is-- it's the same corruption.

MATT: This corruption is hundreds of years old.

LAURA: What if... (gasps) What if, oh, I don't know, that's stupid.

SAM: What?

TALIESIN: No.

LAURA: I don't know, what if, like, some of the relics from Aeor or something got brought down here? Didn't they say, like, a lot of weird relics are here as well? That's from the elven city.

MATT: The elven city of Molaesmyr is where the corruption seemed to stem from.

SAM: Which is close to here?

MATT: It's a number of miles away.

LAURA: Maybe the elven city was infected.

SAM: Infected?

TALIESIN: Maybe.

SAM: With what?

LAURA: Whatever this is.

ASHLEY: How far in is it--

LAURA: Elves are old.

ASHLEY: That city's already gone?

TALIESIN: I would know where the ruins are.

MATT: You would. You have not been there because it is extremely dangerous to go near them. But--

MARISHA: Timeline's different.

MATT: It was once, and you would know this, and I believe I spoke of it before, it was once the center of Elvish culture here in Wildemount. It was a thriving elf city, massive city. And one day, something went wrong.

LAURA: And how long ago was that?

MATT: A few hundred years ago.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: And it corrupted the majority of the Savalirwood, destroyed the city, or at least left it abandoned. Many, many people died, and those that survived fled northward to the doors of Uthodurn to create the diarchy there, or fled to the sea to the west around the top of the Empire and founded Bysaes Tyl, which is the one elven city within the Empire.

LAURA: Those elves learned about what happened. They were trying to communicate as well and it opened the door to the Somnovem.

MARISHA: History keeps repeating itself.

LAURA: Yep.

MARISHA: A bunch of fancy-ass mages trying to tap into some ancient power, wreaking havoc.

LIAM: The forest pre-dated, was from here, just a long time ago--

LAURA: Yeah, the forest was fine.

MATT: The corruption that you saw in the ruin was a different part of the city than Cognouza.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MATT: It was a portion of Aeor.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: But you're uncertain if it has any specific connotation to the Somnovem--

LIAM: One ward of the city went to another place, the rest of it crash landed and that is what we were picking through. Not the portion of the city that went to the Astral Sea.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: So that corruption didn't come from the Somnovem, that forest existed already.

MARISHA: I think it depends on whatever type of residual magic--

TALIESIN: No, you're right. You're right!

LIAM: I don't think we have a definitive answer, but there is at least a chance that the elves of this forest came in contact with, discovered, something from the people of old. I mean, the elves are people of old, but from long ago. I don't have any answers.

LAURA: How does it help us? How can we use that knowledge?

TRAVIS: Yeah, other than talking to them?

LIAM: We're like ants trying to understand the contents of a book we're crawling on.

TRAVIS: I mean, I suppose that city that we've never been to that's up and around the way, the Bellisblayoh, what was it?

MATT: Molaesmyr.

TRAVIS: Yep.

SAM: Brelesbrao.

TALIESIN: Molaesmyr.

TRAVIS: You know, with all that time we don't have we could go and talk to them about what happened to their old city.

LIAM: Nope, that's a nein.

LAURA: Or are they gone?

MATT: Oh, they're gone, it's abandoned.

TRAVIS: No, no, no, I know that some of them went up to Uthodurn and then you said another one went woo, up to this other thing, and it had a bleh.

MATT: Correct.

TALIESIN: The generation's passed now, though.

MARISHA: I mean, it all is connected back to that same time of when relics started being uncovered from Aeor and this information started being spread.

TALIESIN: We all still need to sleep, right? It's a bit rough.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Well, I don't normally do this, but I'm going to try one more Commune.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Is there a clue to what it is we face in the abandoned city Molaesmyr? Thank you.

MATT: So what was the question again? I'm sorry.

TALIESIN: Is there a clue to what we face in the abandoned city Molaesmyr?

MATT: You sense the Wild Mother blowing through on the cold, rainy wind, as it smatters the side of your face. In that cold darkness as your eyes are closed, you sense that... Likely not directly.

TALIESIN: Would there be something to help us in our battle?

MATT: You get the sense from her that-- The imagery that comes to you is of many things across many lands that could be helpful, but you quickly see a tree lose its leaves. Time passes.

TALIESIN: Is this... Is the source of this corruption the same? From the same origin?

MATT: The same as which one?

TALIESIN: As the corruption in the forest, underneath the, in the cavern.

MATT: You see the two disparate forests through time, imagery of one within a city, and one around a city. Different times. Similar threats.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: They are connected, but we are running out of time.

TRAVIS: Right, I say we don't sleep. We go to Aeor right now. Let's get it on. (laughter)

MARISHA: ♪ Let's get it on! ♪

TRAVIS: Sleep?

LAURA: Sleep.

TALIESIN: Suppose we must sleep.

LAURA: Wake up. Go fight some astral cities.

MARISHA: I'm going to take a little walk real quick.

MARISHA: Okay.

TALIESIN: Do what you have to do.

MARISHA: I'll be back. Caleb, do you want to join?

TRAVIS: (laughing) Wait, hold on. The two motherfuckers with red eyes on their bodies are not going by themselves into the woods. It'll be the last time we see--

MARISHA: We're not going into the woods.

TRAVIS: Wherever your walk is, you'll get a chaperone, okay? You get a chaperone.

MARISHA: Okay, Caduceus. Come on, chaperone us.

TRAVIS: I gotta kill Caduceus.

MARISHA: (stabbing sound)

TALIESIN: (shushing) Do you have any more acid, because you can...

MARISHA: No, I got to hit the Veth up for that.

TALIESIN: That's my punishment for bad Southern. Carry on.

LIAM: Keep it quiet, Laura Bailey. If I want to destroy the campaign with Marisha, I'll do it!

TALIESIN: I'm going to watch and rest on a crystal tree and just sort of watch.

MATT: All right.

TRAVIS: Destroy?

MARISHA: Beau and Caleb are that little girl in front of the burning house?

LIAM: (laughs)

MATT: (thunder rumbling)

LAURA: Oh!

MATT: The storm has definitely arrived, the rain is getting heavier. What did the two of you want to do?

TRAVIS: Get out there!

SAM: It's you! It's your story!

TRAVIS: Get out there!

SAM: You're the storm!

MARISHA: (laughs) I'm going to walk around, and I'm going to do exactly what Caduceus advised me to do. And I'm just going to meditate, focusing on these things that are on my body, and seeing if I can just like, get a hunch in my brain. Get a feeling of a good spot to anchor to.

LIAM: I'm going to throw the dome up over us so we don't get drenched.

MARISHA: While we walk?

LIAM: You're going to meditate and walk at the same time?

MARISHA: Well, I'm going to find a place.

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: And then, yeah.

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: But sure.

MATT: So you walk for a bit. There are a number of patches within the grove that are comfortable, soft, long grasses. Even some mud patches, especially around the grove's watering hole.

MARISHA: Anything-- get the feeling? Connective? I find a good spot.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: This mud patch, does this feel good? Just a like grassy knoll.

TALIESIN: If it's a mud patch, it's probably actually somewhere where someone was interred.

MARISHA: Ugh.

TALIESIN: So I'm going to just look at the stone. I didn't say that to you, I'm going to look at the stone and see if perhaps this was a worshiper of Ioun or anything like that.

MATT: You would, you know this area pretty well. And you know, specifically, there are a handful of individuals that were interred here as followers of Ioun and it's easy for you to steer her towards one that has some solid ground.

TALIESIN: Right, try this.

MARISHA: This grassy knoll?

TALIESIN: If it feels good.

MARISHA: Okay, okay. I don't know what I'm doing. This isn't normally my jam. I'm going to see what happens.

TALIESIN: I'm backing up.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: See ya.

LAURA: Bye, Beau.

MARISHA: I'm going to sit down. I'm going to stare at this symbol of Ioun that is carved into this grave marker, and just lose myself in the intricate carvings and how deep the recesses seem to go in all of these carved marks, and the illusion of if it's recessed or if it is carved, and it is protruding outwards, and try and meditate and see if I can get some sort of connection to somebody who might give me some sort of an answer, or an advantage, on what I can do with these eyes that are on my body.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and roll a d20 for me and add your wisdom modifier.

TALIESIN: The Wild Mother assists you. (laughs)

MARISHA: Just my wisdom modifier.

MATT: Correct.

MARISHA: Lucky jade.

TRAVIS: It's going to be that gopher sitting on a fence. (yelling)

LIAM: Did you do it?

MARISHA: I picked it up really fast because it went out, but it's a 20!

SAM: Whoa.

TALIESIN: That's the 20 face. I know the 20 face.

MARISHA: Can I keep it? Can I take it home?

MATT: You were picking it up to re-roll it.

MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: Zig-a-zig-ah.

MARISHA: And it still bounced out. Should I keep that one? It's good.

MATT: What is it?

MARISHA: It's a seven. With my wisdom modifier, which is plus four, so 11.

MATT: 11?

MARISHA: But the first one was a 20.

MATT: It was. I'm just going by the intent of re-rolling.

TALIESIN: Never touch.

MARISHA: Shouldn't touch it.

MATT: As you stare into this symbol of Ioun before you, and focus, and concentrate, in trying to extend your consciousness in the way that you hear other people do to gods and deities and powers for guidance. For information. And you look into this symbol of Ioun. A symbol you've seen a lot of your adult life. A familiar symbol of three eyes. You just focus on that top one. You focus, and the sound of the rain, gets quieter and quieter. The cold begins to turn to numbness. The sense of location, of self, begins to drift and disseminate, like diffused liquid and water. And all you can see is that top eye. You blink, and it's red, and a voice goes, (as Lucien) "Well, if this isn't unexpected. Looks like the children are all growing up. Well, what do you want? You're the one who reached out to me." You hear Lucien's voice.

LIAM: I'm just looking at the side of her head.

MARISHA: Do you have like a manager that I can speak to? I wasn't trying to contact you.

MATT: "Well, too bad. You found me."

MARISHA: Yeah, I didn't know you were going to be at this party or else I wouldn't have come.

LIAM: Scheiße.

MATT: "You don't have to be rude about it."

MARISHA: What are you guys up to, I guess? (laughter)

TRAVIS: Is this out loud or is it in her head? Come on, I got to know!

LIAM: I've copped to it being Lucien two sentences ago. (laughter)

MATT: From your guys' perspective, she is just staring at the symbol.

LIAM: Oh, she's not talking out loud?

MATT: She's not talking out loud. She is not-- at least she's not physically speaking these things. "Now to your sudden... we'll say, follow up on our excursion, left us a bit in a lurch, so we had to double time it. But we're keeping a schedule. How about you?"

MARISHA: Oh, you know, stretching our legs, seeing the sights, taking the scenic route. You know, just having a grand old time.

MATT: "Great, great."

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: "Well."

MARISHA: Yes?

MATT: The silence pauses for a moment and, "(sighing) You can see quite a bit with two eyes. Imagine what you can see with three." And you focus on the symbol of Ioun with the three eyes and all three eyes--

MARISHA: I cut.

MATT: --are glowing red.

MARISHA: Can I cut away?

MATT: Make a wisdom saving throw.

TRAVIS: Oh!

MARISHA: ♪ Here's where I want that natural 20 ♪ ♪ It's another fucking seven ♪ (laughter) 11.

MATT: You can't break away.

LAURA: Oh no!

MARISHA: Oh, wait, a saving throw?

MATT: Saving throw, yeah.

MARISHA: A saving throw. That is different, 'cause my wisdom is plus nine.

SAM: Damn.

ASHLEY: 16?

MARISHA: And I can also--

TRAVIS: Your wisdom is plus nine?

LAURA: Mine is a plus 10 on my saving throws.

MARISHA: And I can spend a ki point to re-roll saving throws. Can I do that right now?

MATT: That's a monk thing?

MARISHA: Diamond Soul!

SAM: Monk thing.

TALIESIN: Oh!

MATT: That's right.

LAURA: You can re-roll what? You can re-roll what?

TRAVIS: Broken ass monks.

MATT: Monks, yo.

LAURA: You can re-roll saving throws?

MARISHA: If I spend a ki point.

LAURA: Of course you can.

MATT: (laughs)

TRAVIS: How many ki points do you have now?

MARISHA: 14, one per level.

LAURA: So basically monks just have endless luck? That's what it is?

LIAM: Ki points!

LAURA: Monks just get luck.

MARISHA: Can I do it?

MATT: She can do it once for a saving throw with a ki point if she has one left over. You can do it.

MARISHA: Ha ha, it's better! Yeah. 27, nope, sorry, 25.

TALIESIN: Whoa.

MATT: 25, as you try and pull away and you feel something holding you there. You can't see anything, all you see is the red eyes and you can feel him speaking into your mind. And as soon as you try and pull away, it's like someone's grabbing your head and holding it in place. And as you feel the tension there, you break away and all at once, the rain is around you again, that cold sensation rushes back to you. And you're in the low-lit exterior of the Grove once more. You both watches as Beauregard suddenly just goes, (grunts) off to the side.

MARISHA: (groaning) He's such a cock.

TALIESIN: I mean, I didn't bury this particular person, so I can't comment on that.

MARISHA: Oh, I'm not talking about Ulysses, sorry.

TALIESIN: Oh.

MARISHA: Yeah, he seems cool. I don't know, I didn't talk to him.

LIAM: Who'd you talk to?

MARISHA: Fucking Lucien.

TALIESIN: Oh.

MARISHA: I don't know, he didn't seem to-- in fact, he was like, "Mm, where are you? What are you doing?" He didn't seem to make any type of hints that he knew where we were, that he could see us--

LIAM: So you butt dialed him.

MARISHA: Yeah, well, I wasn't trying to get to him, but I guess--

LIAM: That's a butt dial.

MATT: Make an arcana check.

LIAM: Arcana check for butt dial. Oh, so low. So low! 15.

MATT: 15.

LIAM: Rolled a four.

MATT: The best that you can glean from this weird circumstance is, yeah, these protect you from divination--

LIAM: But not talking.

MATT: Inward. But if someone reaches outward, it's not going to have much of an effect.

TRAVIS: You've got the touch!

LIAM: Would have been way more fun to fail that save.

MATT: Oh, I was waiting on it. (laughs)

ASHLEY: Oh no no, no no no.

LIAM: Take that ki point, just rip it up and throw it away.

TRAVIS: Now you've only got two eyes.

MARISHA: Yeah, oof.

LAURA: Lame.

MARISHA: Stupid.

LIAM: We all have two eyes.

TRAVIS: Yeah. (laughs)

TALIESIN: Collect them all.

MARISHA: Well--

LIAM: Did you find anything of use?

MARISHA: No.

LIAM: Just that he's a cock, which was information that we--

MARISHA: We already knew.

LIAM: --had, yeah.

TALIESIN: Why did you break away so harshly?

MARISHA: He was trying to put another eye on me. He was like "Mm, here, have another, nyah nyah."

TALIESIN: I'm going to just check out the symbol of Ioun on the stone and make sure it's okay.

MATT: Unchanged from all the time that you've known it.

TALIESIN: That's rude.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: You okay?

MARISHA: (sighs)

TALIESIN: Actually, do you mind checking?

MARISHA: Yeah. Can you bring the globules over?

LIAM: They just float over.

MARISHA: Anything?

MATT: Make a perception or investigation check, your choice.

TALIESIN: Pff! (laughs) Perception it is, and I will give myself a little kick because I don't want to miss nothing. Oh, well, that's nice. Perception, why do I even look? 31.

LAURA and LIAM: (impressed noises)

SAM: Pretty good, pretty good.

MATT: Pretty solid once over on Beauregard, you do not notice an additional eye.

TALIESIN: Unless it's somewhere really inappropriate that I don't really want to go looking in, I think you're fine.

SAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: I'll have Yasha tell me later if she sees anything.

TALIESIN: Oh man, that makes me so happy.

LAURA and MARISHA: (fake laughter)

TALIESIN: One date's great, but like, you need to keep going.

MARISHA: What, with Yasha?

TALIESIN: Yeah, like, just, you know, just a little bit everyday. Just got to work at it. So I'm told.

MARISHA: Okay, thank you.

TALIESIN: Oh, you know.

MARISHA: I wasn't expecting a little relationship advice in the middle of this conversation.

TALIESIN: I really shouldn't give it. I'm just so excited.

MARISHA: No, I'm here for it.

TALIESIN: All right.

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah, you give great advice, genuinely.

LIAM: You know, I think we might be past the point of fact finding. I think it might be time to go to bed. Rip the bandaid off, and do what we have to do.

TALIESIN: I'm ready.

LIAM: Well, I am not, but there's only so much procrastinating we can do, and we're running out of time.

TALIESIN: I'll be ready after breakfast. Would you mind... Can you wire-- can you do the wire?

LIAM: Your home?

TALIESIN: Just in case he figured out where we are.

LIAM: I can. I mean, he's going to be bearing down on us the moment the wire is tripped, but I can.

TALIESIN: At least we'll wake up as opposed to last time.

LIAM: Okay, we'll make it ring the bell, sure.

MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: Terrible thing.

TALIESIN: Let's go sleep and have a good breakfast.

MATT: Okay. You all return to the home and the main entryway/general living space of the front part of the temple has become an open slumber party floor. There are blankets and pillows and satchels and sacks. Anything that could be considered comfortable-- more comfortable than a general flat, hard floor-- placed about and ready for you all to rest for the night. Is there anything anybody would like to do before you go to bed?

LAURA: Oh yeah, you're probably going to go outside too.

ASHLEY: Let's go. I kind of want to-- can I go pick a flower out there?

TALIESIN: I gave you permission.

ASHLEY: Yeah? Anywhere, or just the--

TALIESIN: Hmm? As long as you leave one and most of them have way more than one. And if there's one that only has one, then you shouldn't touch it. They're definitely not all edible and I said that if you get a bad feeling about one, then don't take it. And look at the name. Or at least look at what's on the rock. Because not all of them have names.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LAURA: (laughs)

MARISHA: There's a lot of instructions for picking a flower.

ASHLEY: It is, it is, it is. All right. I'll go for a little bit, I'll be back.

LAURA: I imagine that Fjord and I are not inside. I wanted to go for a walk around and look at all the glowing crystals and the lichen and all that kind of fun stuff around. Not going into the scary part of the woods but just walking around the grounds.

MATT: Fair enough. Easy. The grounds themselves are pretty comfortable. It's beyond them, beyond the exterior fence where things get really creepy. Easy enough to do.

LIAM: This is the last save before the boss fight, guys. So get all your stuff out.

MARISHA: I know, it does feel like it.

LIAM: I have something as well. I'm just putting it on the list.

MATT: All righty. All righty.

TALIESIN: I'm so excited.

MATT: The two of you walk out into the now pouring rain.

LAURA: Yeah. Hey, it's like we're standing in the ocean, it's so wet. That's stupid. That's dumb. Let's just--

TRAVIS: Like on the deck of a ship, because--

LAURA: Yeah, that's way better, that's way better. As we're walking, I just want to tell Fjord about the talk I had with my mama. You know, I told her we were-- She made me tell her that I would come back if things got scary. It reminded me of the conversation that we had. I lied to her, Fjord. I promised her I would, that I would turn around and come back if things got bad.

TRAVIS: Mm-hmm. Why did you do that?

LAURA: Because I want her to be happy. I don't know. I didn't want to-- I didn't want to make her cry. Because who knows, we might come back, you know?

TRAVIS: We could. I'm counting on it.

LAURA: I know. Just... you know, I got to see my mama and my papa together and it was pretty great and they seem happy and it just had me thinking that you never got to talk to Vandran.

TRAVIS: No. All the more reason to come home.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: How did it feel?

LAURA: Seeing them?

TRAVIS: Yeah, together.

LAURA: It was kind of like one of my storybooks. I always had this dream that he would come back to the Lavish Chateau someday, and he'd walk through the door, and Mama would see him in the middle of one of her shows and she'd stop singing and rush off the stage and jump into his arms. And it wasn't quite that, but you know, I saw his eyes when he saw her for the first time and that was pretty great.

TRAVIS: He seems very nervous around her.

LAURA: Yeah. Well, he has a lot to-- He's got a lot to account for.

TRAVIS: For sure. Nervous is good. Cocky and carefree, not so great. Nervous is good. Means he cares.

LAURA: Yeah. Did you want me to send a message to Vandran?

TRAVIS: (sighs)

LAURA: I'd do it.

TRAVIS: No. No.

LAURA: Do you want me to scry on him? So you can at least know?

TRAVIS: No, because I'm going to see him.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: I know it. And if for some reason I don't, he's found his peace. I would never want to ruin that.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: But thank you.

LAURA: Of course.

TRAVIS: We're coming back.

LAURA: Yeah. We're going to win. We're going to destroy a god city!

TRAVIS: We're going to tear it apart and float through the Astral Sea!

LAURA: We're going to be amazing!

TRAVIS: Then find a way to come back.

LAURA: And then we're going to see Vandran!

TRAVIS: I mean-- yes. Yes.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay. I just wanted to check. You can hold my hand now.

TRAVIS: I'm holding your hand.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: (laughs) I'm checking you out.

LAURA: I'm checking you out! (laughter)

LAURA: We'll head back.

MATT: Okay. Caleb, you said you had something you wanted to do?

LIAM: I do. My shit's by myself.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Is that okay?

MATT: Of course.

LIAM: Yeah. In fact, I don't want to be interrupted, so I'm going to cast Greater Invisibility on myself and take a walk away from the Clays' house. I'm going to go through the rain down to the edge to where it's safe and I'm going to put up the dome for myself and once it's up-- it takes a little bit-- I'm going to lay out a long stretch of leather in front of me and bring out Frumpkin.

MATT: (meows) Hello.

MATT: (meows)

LIAM: Yeah, spend some time with me, okay? And I start to do that thing where I bring out every object that I have, carefully, one at a time, and put them neatly in neat little rows so I can see everything in its place and talk to Frumpkin while I'm doing it. (exhales) Oh buddy boy.

MATT: (meows)

LIAM: This is like the beginning with us. For one more night.

MATT: (meows)

LIAM: Yeah. For years, it was just you and me before we added one. Then we added more and it turned into nein.

MATT: (affirmative meow)

LIAM: So many families. Continuing to place things. You've got such a big family here. Veth and her family, and you know, all these close ties. So much family. You know, we're probably all not going to make it back from where we're going. Probably.

MATT: (quietly meows)

LIAM: But maybe we will if we try very hard. You and me, we'll do our best to keep families together. You and me, we'll keep people together instead of letting families break apart.

MATT: (meows, purrs)

LIAM: You know, I'm going to tell you something. All my stuff is already arrayed out before me. I take out the smaller of my books in the holster and I set it down for a moment on a dry spot. If we do make it back, you've been a good companion all this time. Heh. Actually, it's a win-win for you because if we all die out there, you get to go back to where your home is. But if we do make it back, I'm going to let you go anyway. Because you're not my cat.

MATT: (uncertain meow)

LIAM: My cat is dead. But you're a good boy anyway. And you've done a lot of good for me. So one way or another, you'll be free soon.

MATT: He looks up at you with that familiar, affectionate look. The eyes flash with a sheen of magic green for a brief moment. Wordlessly, you sense understanding.

LIAM: I put out the incense and the herbs that I use to summon him and I begin to, while those things percolate and prepare, I begin to write a little bit in that other book just for a minute. And then I bring him over and as everything reaches completion, I reach out and I scritch him under the neck and his fur from where I touch him, starts to spread white over his body from the point of contact over his whole self, and he is a white cat. Probably better where we're going.

MATT: (meows)

LIAM: (sighs) This Stone of Good Luck isn't going to do shit for me so I'm going to put that away. I'm going to put this ring back on. Increase our chances.

MATT: (meows)

LIAM: Come here.

MATT: (purring)

LIAM: Okay so, we better head back because what happens next is they start do a search of the grounds for us thinking we're dead or I've gone off to try to talk to a stone eye and contact our nemesis or some foolish thing like that. So I don't want anyone to be alarmed.

MATT: (meows)

LIAM: (sighs) All right. I'm being foolish, come on.

MATT: All right. Make your way back to the rest of the group.

LAURA: ♪ Make your way ♪

MATT: (laughs) Anybody else?

ASHLEY: I'm going to go for a little walk. And I'd like to see if I can try to find a flower that seems kind?

TRAVIS: Kind?

ASHLEY: Yeah. And just not-- that is open for the taking.

LAURA: (laughs)

MATT: Make a perception or nature check.

TRAVIS: You get that flower.

MARISHA: Yeah. (laughs)

ASHLEY: Say again?

LAURA: You take that flower. You take it good.

MATT: Perception or nature, your choice.

LAURA: Okay. 18.

MATT: Not bad.

ASHLEY: Perception's pretty high.

MATT: Walking around a bit and just strolling through, and there's many beautiful flowers in this grove. Taken in by all the sensory overload of your first arrival here at the Blooming Grove, this is the first time you've really had to take it in in smaller pieces. Especially given the limited light.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: But light for you is not much of an issue. As you can just create your own. And as you walk around, unveiling the darkness of this grove before you the colors pop like a kaleidoscope that begins to reveal itself from the shadow. Eventually, you come upon this gentle little lavender flower. A cluster of them really. But its shape, the scent, as you get close, that is strong enough to come through the cold rain, the scent of the storm that's come through. It's not a flower you've really seen. But it seems welcoming as a flower could.

ASHLEY: Okay. I'm going to pick the flower and find a spot where I'm not covered from the rain. And I'm going to take off my coat and everything so I can just feel it everywhere and I'm going to take out-- I had taken, a long time ago, some petrified bark that the Storm Lord had taken down the tree. So I'm going to take that out and I'm going to eat a petal of the flower and sit there and hold the bark and just trace it. I feel like this is the closest that I've ever been to you. I feel like I know so many people that have so many very close relationship with their gods. I don't know what I'm supposed to do, but please, please walk with me.

MATT: (low rumbling)

ASHLEY: (sighs) Are you there? I take out my-- not mine, but I take out the sword, the Holy Avenger, and I lay it all there. And I try to just let the rain fall on it. I don't know how to use this. I don't know if there's something that you can do. I-I-- I don't know how to do this. (sighs)

MATT: A flash. (thunder rumbling) The rain continues to fall. The blade looks damp and cold.

ASHLEY: I actually feel like this is very bad for the blade. It's going to get rusted. I'm going to eat the whole flower.

MATT: All right.

ASHLEY: Because it's what Caduceus did and I'm trying to make some type of connection here.

MATT: Make a constitution saving throw for me.

ASHLEY: Okay. 10.

MATT: Okay. You sit there for a bit, just trying to focus, holding this petrified wood in your hand. This dark, this pale, cold piece of what was once wood. And you begin to think back to experiences, memories. Back to the Dolorav Tribe. Thinking back to finding the shattered statue of the Storm Lord in your fugue state wanderings. A similar sense of cold rain on your face then when he first found you. Remembering every storm that called you to the horizon. You're feeling weird. Your stomach's churning a little. (exhales) Close your eyes and breathe. You inhale and you exhale. You inhale and you exhale. You inhale, and as you exhale you feel this rumble in your chest. Like a purr. (low rumbling) You inhale. (exhaling, low rumbling) It's weird. You feel very strange and you open your eyes and you're no longer in the grove. You look around you and there is just broken, open badlands endlessly in every direction. Flat, shattered shale. Jagged rockscapes. Dust and bone. You can look around and see bits of stone forming up out of the ground and almost reaching. You glance and can see iron cages and broken chains scattered about. And above you, rain. Rain. Rain pouring down from the clouds above. (loud thunder crashing) Flashing white light and this boom of thunder to the right as dust seems to be spraying from the sky. You find yourself wincing as you feel the impact of the bolt of lightning that has not struck far from where you sit. You stand, instinctually, reaching for the blade that you set before you, but it's not there.

ASHLEY: I frantically start looking around for it. Anywhere.

MATT: Roll a perception check.

ASHLEY: 21.

MATT: You look about. You see a blade. You grab it and pick it up. It's broken, it's rusted, it's old. It's not yours. You look around, you see other weapons. Each in similar condition. You begin to see the broken bits of bone. The stone. You begin to sense a long history of battles fought, won, lost. Soldiers who've won. Soldiers that were lost. But your blade is nowhere. What do you do?

ASHLEY: (sighs)

MATT: You glance up and can see the darkened skies. (thunder crashing) Another flash of lightning. The storm is somewhat sparse where you are. But the clouds even grow darker still. A reddish haze on the horizon. Lightning you see flashing ahead, miles and miles ahead, rapidly arcing wild through the sky. (sparking) Occasionally touching down.

ASHLEY: I will drop the dagger-- the sword, the broken sword. And I'll start walking towards the horizon. I will continue to follow.

MATT: One foot in front of the other. And another. And another. The mud slick beneath your boots. Continue to push, slide and catch yourself, and continue to go. And as you do, the thunder gets louder, louder, and more recurring. (thunder rumbling, lightning crackling)

ASHLEY: I'll just start running towards it just as fast as I can go.

MATT: Splash, splash, splash. You run and run. The thunder continues to roll. Almost constant now. (rumbling) "The dark sky that claims the horizon." (rumbling) The crackling light that splits the tree and flesh." The flood that carves stone and earth." You look up and you can see, faintly in the clouds of the growing storm ahead of you, that familiar face. (thunder rumbling) "In our wake the rains that nurture and cleanse. I am the storm. What are you?"

ASHLEY: I am your champion.

MATT: "Chain breaker. Angel reborn. Punisher and redeemer. Show me." And that's where we'll pick up next week.

SAM: Oh! Oh!

LAURA: Oh jeez louise! Just right there?

MATT: Yep.

TALIESIN: Show me what you got.

MARISHA: Show me what you got!

ASHLEY: Ooh!

LAURA: You got a week to think about what you're going to do.

TALIESIN: This is what I wanted. This is what I want.

SAM: So you don't have a sword?

TALIESIN: I wanted everyone to get high and find their god.

TRAVIS: You don't need a sword.

SAM: Brass knuckles?

LIAM: Your spine.

TALIESIN: I said not to eat the plants, too.

ASHLEY: Did you?!

TALIESIN: Just the ones I was eating. Some of them are really weird!

ASHLEY: Well, you had said it and I feel like for Yasha, she'd be like--

TALIESIN: No, you did it right-

ASHLEY: "Oh, that's how you connect to a god."

TALIESIN: Oh no, this is the plot of Gremlins. (laughter)

LIAM: Give it to Yasha, she'll eat anything!

MATT: A bunch of smaller Yashas start jumping out of her back.

ASHLEY: I mean, she's tried everything at this point to try to make the connection.

TRAVIS: Orphan Maker doesn't need a sword.

ASHLEY: I'm going to be barfing all the next day. Just sick as a dog.

SAM: Worth it.

MATT: It's probably going to be a rough morning.

ASHLEY: Yeah, it's going to be a rough morning.

MATT: Could be a rough evening, we just started.

TALIESIN: Covered in your own sick.

TRAVIS: What is Kord the deity of?

MATT: Of strength, of contest, of storms and all manner of things in that space.

TALIESIN: Freedom.

MARISHA: Contest.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: She's throwing up swords. Is that okay? (laughter)

MATT: Some people eat 'em. Some people throw 'em.

LIAM: Yeah, yeah.

MATT: Some people just find them everywhere. We'll pick up from there next week.

SAM: Exciting.

MARISHA: Oh my gosh.

MATT: It's going to fun. In the interim, we'll see you then. Thank you so much for following us for this crazy story. We love you very much. And is it Thursday yet? Good night.

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