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List of Transcripts

Pre-Show[]

MATT: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Critical Role this week, where us crazy voice actors play a nerdy game of Dungeons and Dragons! I'm so glad you guys could join us. We had a small hiatus last week as me and Marisha were away at a cool event in the desert, but we're back. I want to give a big thanks and shout-out to Ivan for running that one-shot game last week. Ivan, you kicked ass, you were awesome, and thank you for carrying the torch when we couldn't be here. Really appreciate that. And for those who tuned in for him and supporting: thank you guys. Quick little shout-out. We had actually one of our fellow Critters come find us out in the desert this past week. So a shout-out to our friend Scott from Boise, Idaho. Operator, thank you so much for coming and visiting. It was awesome getting to chat with you, and it was cool.

MARISHA: Yeah, that was a surrealist experience.

MATT: Yeah, we had some cool Critical Role representation out on the Playas. That was really neat. Thank you so much. It was awesome to meet you, Scott, and thanks for coming by. Other fun announcements… This is a cool thing that came up, actually. Hasbro's working with Indiegogo right now to do essentially the search for their new face-to-face party game circumstance. So they're accepting a bunch of submissions right now. I think it's nextgreatgamechallenge.com, but if you're like me and spent a lot of your youth spending your summers designing your own card games and your own board games and your own party games and such that just sat there and did nothing, now is actually a really cool opportunity to submit those and possibly get them published. Because the person who wins, wins $10,000 on top of the fact that they get flown out to Hasbro, to the actual company building to work on developing the game with their development team. So that's pretty cool. (laughs) So those of you who have that little game design brain, go ahead and throw your ideas out that way. Submit to this! Hopefully you could win. The thing goes to September 30th? You don't have a whole lot of time, so get on it. But check it out! A possible opportunity for you to design your own game. Who knows, maybe one day we'll be playing it on this Twitch stream. So check that out. lso, Welovefine is running a t-shirt design contest for the upcoming Rage of Dragons Dungeons and Dragons release, and they've asked me to be one of the judges of that contest. So all you people with an artistic bone in your body, go ahead and design some t-shirts. Go to welovefine.com, check out the contest rules for the Rage of Demons contest. But I'll be judging your designs! And hopefully if yours is appreciated by me and all the other judges, you'll be getting a cash prize and have your shirts officially sanctioned by D&D and put on welovefine.com, so check that out! That's a cool thing! I've already seen some great art. Some people have floated over to Twitter. If I haven't responded, it's because I'm a judge and I probably shouldn't. (laughs) But everything looks cool, so thank you guys for your submissions.

TRAVIS: Do you accept cash bribes?

MATT: (laughs) No. Other cool announcements. Oh! Once again, every week we have our hundred sub giveaway. Every hundred subs we get, we have a giveaway with somebody randomly within the chat who is actively in the chat. This involves a picture of the cast, signed, one of our posters from our fantastic official artist Kit Buss, signed, and for a few short giveaways, we'll also be giving away a copy of this Pen to Paper Imaginary Friend book that we received, gifted to us by 826LA. It's a book of a collection of stories from the kids that have been tutored at 826LA that told stories about their imaginary friends and what they were like, and their adventures. And they had a lot of talented artists and animators come in and actually illustrate what these imaginary friends look like and what their experiences are with those imaginary friends. So we'll be giving one of these away with each one of those hundred sub giveaways to you guys who have been so gracious in helping support 826LA.

MARISHA: Yes. And we went today!

MATT: We went today to 826LA to deliver a nice, big, fatty check to them from you guys, and they were blown away by it. We got to teach a bunch of young kids the basics of Dungeons and Dragons, and we gave them copies of the books to hopefully start a few games of their own there, so thank you.

MARISHA: This was such a great experience, and we took video of it, so hopefully we'll have that edited and maybe sometime next week or the week after, you guys can see and learn a little bit about this charity that we support and talk about every week.

MATT: Yep, we'll have a cool video up. It'll show you guys our whole experience at 826LA delivering and talking to them about everything, so that'll be fun! Other announcements: This is one of the gifts that we're actually talking about at the start of the stream because we want to utilize it through it. A fantastic gentleman by the name of Jim Donnis sent us custom Vox Machina etched glasses. Customized character glass icons. I have my Dungeon Master glass here. So that's really awesome. And also sent us some really, really nice, quality, expensive dranky-drank.

TRAVIS: Yeah, it's legit.

MATT: It's legit. Jim, that's ridiculous. And amazing. And thank you! We shall progressively enjoy it through the stream tonight. So here's to you, Jim. Thank you very much.

MARISHA and TALIESIN: To Jim!

TRAVIS: (slurred) To Jim!

MATT: That's tasty. Also, announcements from us! Any project or game announcements? I know this recently sparks the release of the Mad Max game that just came out.

MARISHA: Where's Orion?

MATT: Orion will be here in a second. He's missing his moment.

LAURA: But Travis plays the lead villain!

MATT: Travis is the main villain! Scrotus!

TRAVIS: Yes, Scabrous Scrotus. Who is in no way related to Grog.

MATT: No. He is large and has many curious accoutrements on his outfit.

TRAVIS: Yes he does! He has a giant horn on his crotch. Don't know what that's about.

ORION: Are we talking about Mad Max?

MATT: Yes, we are.

ORION: Hey, he's Scrotus!

MATT: Yes! And you are?

ORION: I play Scab and a bunch of war boys. So check it out! Because I work with this guy here!

MATT: And I'm a war boy commander and a bunch of other guys, so you hear a lot of me going, “Get that guy!” And a lot of random NPCs giving quests.

LAURA: Yeah, I think you hear me barfing a lot during that game.

MATT: Oh, man. That was a lot of dry heaving for like twenty minutes.

LAURA: Yeah! Crazy.

MARISHA: Always makes me actually want to barf. It makes my eyes water and be like, ugh.

MATT: You know you've achieved it properly when the director goes, “Okay, no, we got it. Ugh.” So yeah, Chris put us through the paces on our varying array of vomiting techniques on that project. So enjoy that in Mad Max! Also, same time, just came out Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, for those of you who worked on that one. I know Marisha, if you want to talk about your involvement in that?

MARISHA: Yes, oh– Sam!

MATT: We have a Sam! Sam's arrived! Yay!

MARISHA: Yeah, I'm one of the Diamond Dog soldiers that you can eventually recruit and play as, and so you can either shoot at me a lot and kill me a lot, or you can run around as me. And apparently once you get me I've got better stats than Big Boss, which is pretty fucking dope.

MATT: Damn right, you do. I also voice a lot of the male Diamond Dog soldiers and enemy soldiers throughout the game, so you'll be shooting and capturing and recruiting a lot of me and Marisha throughout the game. Yeah, so check that out. Any other announcements?

ORION: Yes! Speaking of Mad Max again, because it's super cool, I've actually partnered with Twitch as of ten days ago, so I'm doing my Twitch and I've been playing the shit out of Mad Max, so follow me on there! Orionacaba at Twitch, and check that shit out.

MARISHA: You should play some Metal Gear.

ORION: Nope!

TRAVIS: Not until you beat Mad Max.

LAURA: You should play some Borderlands.

ORION: I'll go to your place and watch you play it because I want to watch you play your character.

MATT: Why don't you come to our place to watch Laura play Borderlands? We'll chain this.

MARISHA: Guys, why don't we just LAN party and only play as characters we voice?

MATT: That's not masturbatory at all.

TRAVIS: No. Not at all.

ORION: Yeah, that's weird.

TALIESIN: We can make a little ring.

MARISHA: Yes! Of narcissism!

MATT: Exactly.

ORION: Ew, that's gross.

MATT: Cool! Do we have any other announcements?

TRAVIS: Oh yeah, it's the start of the 2015 NFL football season. I'll be repping the Dallas Cowboys today. They're not playing right now, but they will be on Sunday. Go Cowboys.

MATT: Awesome. For the four of you that are interested in football watching the stream–

TRAVIS: We all come from different walks, all right?

MATT: I know. No, that's awesome. Cool! There we go.

TALIESIN: Teach me of your ways.

TRAVIS: (laughs) My sorcerer's ways.

MATT: (laughs) I was too much of an indoor kid. But I'm learning!

TRAVIS: There goes ball. Chase ball.

LAURA: We're growing! We're learning and growing.

MATT: I am. I got really into rugby when we were in New Zealand. Oh, sports I can watch!

MARISHA: Rugby's dope, man. They're hardcore.

MATT: Yeah, they hit each other really hard. They call things a scrum. That sounds like fun.

TRAVIS: Yeah. That's rugby. Scrum.

MATT: That's intense, man.

TRAVIS: Yeah, that's some brutal stuff.

MATT: Yeah. So we will have a Liam possibly joining us later in the evening. He had some family commitments tonight, but he's going to hope to try and join us around 8:30 or 9:00, if at all.

LAURA: A wild Scanlan coming next to me.

MATT: Oh no! We got Scanlan jumping ship now!

SAM: I've never been over here before.

ORION: How does it feel on that side? When I played with Will Friedle–

LAURA: Yeah, I was on that side.

MARISHA: Yeah, we were switched. That's right. It's weird. It does feel weird.

SAM: Everything flushes the other way around.

MATT: That's how it works in this place, yeah.

MARISHA: Is it colder over there? Are you guys in winter?

SAM: Wow, that's so weird!

MARISHA: I know, it's awesome.

MATT: Well, anything else? Are we good on announcements? Perfect! All right. Well then, let's go ahead and roll that intro and return. We'll jump right into the game and kick up this next session of Critical Role! See you in just a minute.

[dramatic music]

Part I[]

MATT: Welcome back. Quick announcement that I forgot: There is a Kickstarter up for the third Mythica film, which if you guys haven't watched it, it's a really awesome indie-budget fantasy series, and a bunch of good friends are in it. I play the main villain, necromancer Zorlock, who showed up a little bit in the second film, and the third one is now going into post, and that's what the Kickstarter's asking for your help.

[no audio]

MATT: If it's something you want to donate to, it's a cool project, you get to watch me be all evil and cast–

TRAVIS: I watched it. It's really fun.

MATT: (laughs) You can see me cast necromantic spells at Kevin Sorbo. I mean, what more could you want, really?

LAURA: Nothing.

MATT: Our hair has a battle. It's wonderful.

ORION: Our mighty DM versus Hercules.

MATT: Indeed. I remember the first time we met on set, he came up to me, and goes like, “What's your mother's name?” I still wonder. But anyway. Let us bring us back to the story. Now, Vox Machina, after completing the trials of the Slayer's Take and acquiring their marking brand as essence of them joining the actual guild itself, meeting the gynosphinx that is currently responsible–

LAURA: (chuckles)

MATT: Such children. Responsible for the development and the progression of the guild itself, they found themselves having Pike join them for about a week's time while the landscape of her temple to Sarenrae was being cleansed of a curse, and the group decided to follow through on their promise to aid Keyleth on her Aramente to find the Pyrah people to the far southwest of Vasselheim.

LAURA: Ugh!

TRAVIS: I'm burping garlic.

MATT: Ugh. Garlic. Stinking Cloud over there. You thought he wasn't a caster. They made their way to the mountains, eventually to the actual Pyrah tribe itself, where they underwent a trial through the elemental plane of fire. Battled some of the druids, the Pyrah themselves, in elemental fire form, combated against time through a cinder storm as they attempted to escape, and managed to do so with their lives, and in doing so gained the blessing of the Aramente for Keyleth from the Pyrah tribe, as well as a blessing from the main druid as well, as a spark stone. And returned to Vasselheim, Pike then said her goodbyes again, returning to help the restoration of the temple of Sarenrae, and you've all been left to your devices now. So. As you all awaken the next morning within the guildhall itself, your journey and your path is your own to take.

TRAVIS: We wake the next morning. Beard check, please.

MATT: Beard check. (laughs)

TRAVIS: Zero. Or ten?

LAURA: That's zero.

SAM: That's good.

MARISHA: It depends.

TRAVIS: That's a hundred.

MARISHA: Are you serious?

TRAVIS: That's the second time that's happened.

MARISHA: All you had to have rolled was a nine or anything other than a zero. That's all you had to– anything.

MATT: If this had been the second edition Encyclopedia Magica, you would've gotten the most broken artifact ever. You rolled two hundreds. With a tiny methodical squeak, your pores produce but a few random molecules of hair-like material that then puff in the air around you.

TRAVIS: Is it at least rough? Like, you know, he needs to shave, it's so rough.

LAURA: Nah, it's smooth as a baby's bottom.

TALIESIN: Well-oiled.

LAURA: Fine leather. That's what your face feels like.

ORION: It's still 24 hours since we had the feast, right? It still counts as the same time?

MATT: The travel back to the town took about two and a half, three days, so that's been long past the feast. So the benefits of the Heroes' Feast have already been washed from your system.

SAM: Where am I?

MATT: Where are you? That's a very good question. As you returned, tired from the venture, went to sleep. You have spent the past week or so–

SAM: On my own.

MATT: On your own, essentially finding one of the various establishments in the city that can aid you through your sore muscles through the help of feminine companionship– or other types of companionship; whatever your preference may be. But upon leaving, realize that your party had left and been gone for some time.

SAM: Where are they? Where am I?

MATT: You've just now found word they've returned to the Slayer's Take guildhall, and you've made your way in that direction this bright morning.

TRAVIS: Because it's free to stay there.

LAURA: Yeah, we can stay there for free.

SAM: Hello!

LAURA and MARISHA: Scanlan!

SAM: Where have you guys been?

LAURA: Oh, Scanlan. You've just missed Pike!

SAM: What?! Pike? Pike was here?

MARISHA: We took a field trip with her.

SAM: What are you talking about? Why didn't you call me? We have an earring!

ORION: I used it twice, and you said, stop bothering me, Tiberius.

SAM: Well, I– (sighs)

TALIESIN: We were hearing very weird things from the other end of that ear piece.

ORION: Though he definitely said my name and told me to stop.

SAM: You didn't lead with Pike, though! You should have said, Pike's here. Hey, Pike's here.

LAURA: You probably should have done that.

ORION: My bad.

SAM: (frustrated noise)

ORION: Sorry about that.

SAM: I mean, I was having a fun time, but I would've dropped everything to be with Pike.

ORION: Well, a Stormwind likes to finish a sentence, and I apparently need to start a sentence correctly for you to hold your attention long enough.

SAM: Don't bury the lede. Pike first. Always Pike first.

ORION: Right. Sorry.

SAM: I wasn't even in a brothel.

LAURA: Oh, you weren't?

SAM: I walked toward the brothel, but then I bumped into Zahra. Remember Zahra?

TALIESIN: Oh, Zahra!

SAM: She invited me over. We talked all night. One thing led to another– nothing untoward– but we just had a nice slumber party. It was lovely. It was me and a couple of tieflings. Three, I think. We were doing each other's hair, telling stories, playing songs. It was wonderful!

TRAVIS: Can I roll to see if he's bullshitting?

MATT: You can go ahead and make a– this would be an insight.

TRAVIS: Yeah! Grog insight check! Modifier is zero! That's a nine.

(laughter)

MATT: You are enthralled by his tale. Your elbows are on the edge of the bedspread right now with your hands clasped–

TRAVIS: Are my feet behind me, crisscrossing?

MATT: You are this close to a breakdown from Grease. It's pretty fantastic.

TRAVIS: (singing) Tell me more, tell me more…

SAM: It was great. We had a great PG night.

MARISHA: Sounds like exactly what you needed.

LAURA: Well, then. That sounds like a wonderful time. It's all right that you missed Pike.

SAM: Yeah, except I would have dropped everything to come to see the woman I love, the woman of my dreams, the woman I will marry and bear children with. I don't know if she'll bear mine or I'll bear hers.

ORION: Yes. How does it work with gnomes?

SAM: Gnomes, it's tricky.

ORION: Yes, I've never seen a gnome birth, before.

SAM: You never know.

TALIESIN: Would it help if there were trolls?

SAM: Oh, don't get me started.

TALIESIN: All right, so if there were trolls, it would be better that you missed everything. There weren't trolls, but if there had been, it would have been better.

SAM: Well, at least we're all together again.

MARISHA: We got to meet my family!

SAM: Wait, what?!

MARISHA: Yeah!

SAM: I missed everything.

LAURA: What did you do for all the days we've been gone now?

SAM: This was a long slumber party. We just kept going and going, and at one point, I was like, okay, I'll see you– oh, there's another meal? Okay, I'll stick around for another day. And we just kept going.

TRAVIS: Did you do nails?

SAM: We did. Not my hands. Just my toenails.

LAURA: All right.

SAM: We braided hair. We connected.

LAURA: That's wonderful.

TRAVIS: Connected.

SAM: Well, at least we're all back. We can get on the flying carpet and go somewhere fun.

LAURA: Oh no.

TRAVIS: Who wants to–

LAURA: Scanlan, you've missed everything!

TRAVIS: Maybe we should let Keyleth explain where the flying carpet went.

TALIESIN: Yes, Keyleth. Where is the flying carpet?

MARISHA: Why do I have to explain it?

TRAVIS: You're right. Tiberius, where did the flying carpet go?

ORION: It's right here. I open my Bag of Holding. (swoosh) It just doesn't fly anymore.

SAM: You have a Bag of Holding?

ORION: I went to Draconia for like two minutes and picked one up.

SAM: That's really far.

ORION: Oh. Well, I teleported. I went there, came back.

LAURA: So they killed the carpet. It lives no more. They also spent a lot of money. But hey, they didn't die, and that's a good thing.

SAM: That is a good thing.

MARISHA: And we fought a devil.

LAURA: A demon.

SAM: Whoa! The devil?

ORION: No, a rakshasa.

TALIESIN: It seems that an enormous amount of alcohol has given you some perspective. I'm very proud of you. Well done.

LAURA: Thank you.

SAM: Well, thank you for catching me up, fellows. What's our mission now? What are we doing now?

LAURA: That is a good question.

ORION: I have a suggestion. First I'm going to bring up Lockheed. Keyleth, if you think you could help?

SAM: What? I was gone for a day! There's a dragon now?

ORION: I'm going to take him out of his cage and put him on the table here.

MARISHA: Aw, he's got puppy breath. Oh, yes you do. Yes you do.

MATT: It is slightly worse than puppy breath.

MARISHA: You want me to cure him of poison?

ORION: He's diseased. You can maybe see if you could perhaps use your medicine strengths to see what the problem is.

MARISHA: I mean, the Heroes' Feast would have worked.

ORION: Yes, I know. That's why I asked earlier as the other guy.

LAURA: We did not have him with us then? We didn't have him with us when we had the feast?

ORION: No.

LAURA: You didn't think of him at the time?

ORION: I said I fed him, but I didn't say what I fed him.

TALIESIN: I have a strange thought.

LAURA: What?

TALIESIN: When was the last time we went home?

LAURA: Well, okay. Here's the thing. If we're going to go home– Emon.

TALIESIN: Greyskull.

LAURA: Right. If we're going to go home, I would really, really like to stop by Kraghammer.

TALIESIN: And pick up our money.

LAURA: Yes. 25,000 gold.

TRAVIS: If we're going to leave, could I make a small request?

TALIESIN: You want to try again, don't you?

TRAVIS: I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder.

MARISHA: Oh!

TRAVIS: Would you mind terribly if I maybe went out to the street and picked a fight?

TALIESIN: Oh, give me strength.

MARISHA: Wait, go out on the street? You're not going to chase down what's-his-butt?

TRAVIS: I want Kern.

MARISHA: Okay, we're going to find Kern.

SAM: Are you sure about this?

TRAVIS: I'm sure.

MARISHA: Hang on, are we going to go find Kern and do this with rules, or we going to do this without rules?

SAM: Without rules, you would win.

TRAVIS: I can't do it. I have to do it by the rules.

LAURA: So you want to go in the Crucible again.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Is there a tavern downstairs or anywhere they'd have cups or wineskins?

MATT: Within the guildhall, there is a mess hall area. A kitchen would have cups, but it's not a full tavern.

LAURA: Tiberius, do you have any wineskins or anything?

ORION: Excuse me?

LAURA: Do you have a wineskin?

ORION: Oh, I'm sorry. I was waiting on my first request before.

SAM: Oh, what was your first request?

ORION: To see if Keyleth could do anything, but a wineskin? Yes.

LAURA and TRAVIS: Oh, thank you.

MARISHA: Can I do a check to see if I can tell what Lockheed has? What kind of disease?

MATT: Sure. Go ahead and make a medicine check.

SAM: Oh, it's sick? Get me away from it.

MARISHA: 21.

MATT: 21. Looking at Lockheed, you get the feeling that his disease essentially comes from a continuous time period of poor meat being presented as a meal option. It's less of a magical or any sort of unnatural disease. It's just something that is passing through his system.

ORION: Emaciated?

MATT: Not too emaciated. More that some bad meat has found its system, which means without treatment over time, his health could diminish. However, if the food you've been feeding him has been a decent level, if this continues, it might clear. It could be aided through the use of simple healing salves and/or natural remedies.

MARISHA: Can I make a few Goodberries for him and feed him a few more Goodberries?

MATT: Sure.

TALIESIN: Why not great berries?

MARISHA: Well, I guess that's a matter of opinion, Percy.

ORION: As far as the matters at hand: I, of course, Grog, encourage your violence. And Taliesin, I do quite like the idea of going back to Emon–

LAURA: Who did you just– who did you just–

TALIESIN: You just NPCed me. Just NPCed me all over the place.

ORION: Oh, sorry. I'm sorry, speaking Draconic again. Percy.

TALIESIN: Taliesin is my mother's name, please. No.

ORION: Sorry. No, that's not your mother's name.

TALIESIN: It's not my mother's name. She wasn't well. Carry on.

LAURA: What was your mother's name?

ORION: I'm sorry. Percival. I go over to Percival and I give him a hug.

TALIESIN: Oh god.

ORION: Sorry, I'm scaly.

TALIESIN: It's all right. We didn't touch in my family. Go ahead.

ORION: I like the idea of going back to Emon, but before that, I do believe we should go back to Kraghammer and collect our gold.

TALIESIN and LAURA: Yes.

ORION: Did we say that already?

TALIESIN and LAURA: We did.

ORION: Wonderful. I was concerned about Lockheed.

MARISHA: So much has happened.

ORION: I'm going to put him on my shoulder.

TRAVIS: Did you say you encourage my violence?

ORION: Of course.

TRAVIS: I take off running out the room.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Oh, Tiberius. You have to be careful. You have to be responsible–

TRAVIS: Was there a window in the room?

MATT: No, not in this one.

TRAVIS: Okay, just checking.

TALIESIN: Was there a Looney Tunes hole in the wall?

(laughter)

MATT: So as Grog bounds off into the distance, do you guys give chase?

ORION and TALIESIN: Yes!

MATT: You get out into the main thoroughfare.

MARISHA: We really need to make that leash for him, like we said we were going to.

MATT: As you make your way to the main thoroughfare, you look over and you catch the image of the distant goliath heading northward towards the Braving Grounds, just plowing through the crowd. You see a couple people that are knocked flat onto their ass, like head shaking, “what just happened?” as he just goes bounding into the distance.

MARISHA: Follow the trail of distressed people!

ORION: I give chase. I give myself Fly so I can go over the crowd.

MATT: As you glide over the crowd, you can see a few Bastions glance up and narrow their eyes and begin whispering to themselves.

ORION: It's fine! I realize what I'm doing, and I stop.

TALIESIN: That's going on your tombstone: I realize what I'm doing, and I stop.

MATT: As you enter the group, you, Percy, thanks to him, notice that there are now no less than five Bastions keeping a 30-foot distance walking and following behind Tiberius.

LAURA: I go up and I tell Tiberius, maybe it's best just to keep a low profile for a while. And I turn around and wave at the Bastions.

TALIESIN: It's all right. He's from Emon.

MATT: As soon as you wave and make that interaction, they break off in two and three and go in different directions and disappear into the crowd.

LAURA: Cool. That was fun.

TALIESIN: Hunter's Mark one of them.

LAURA: Yeah, I'll Hunter's Mark one of them.

ORION: Do they feel that?

LAURA: Oh, wait. Can they feel that?

MATT: Go ahead and make a sleight-of-hand check on this.

LAURA: Oh gosh. Wait, which one should I roll first? Okay. Hold on. Natural 20, what!

MATT: You are the anti-Wheaton as of late. It's kind of amazing. All right, yeah. You Hunter's Mark one of the Bastions who wanders off in the crowd, and you have a very good idea of where he and/or the cluster that's with him is moving. As you guys progress, following this path that Grog is carving through the crowd, heading for the main bazaar area at the center of the Quad Roads district, heading northwestern, up into the Braving Grounds of Vasselheim, you can also sense that they are following, though at a good 60-foot distance, keeping an eye on the red-scaled dragonborn that then flew out into the open air of the midday sun, with his tinier dragon, his very meta dragon-on-dragon action. You continue pushing into the Braving Grounds area. You can see, now, giant black smokestacks that are billowing up from the various blacksmithies, and there is a large industrial iron complex that is used in the mining and reforming of all the weapons and armor that go to the Bastions of the city here in the Braving Grounds. You make your way up towards the Bellows' Respite Inn, to where the Crucible itself is held in the center. As you approach, it is midday. There's no crowd gathered. The Crucible is currently empty and left on its own. You glance about for a second, and there's nobody here running any sort of fight ring.

SAM: Damn it, you'll have to come back.

TRAVIS: (shouting) Kern!

MATT: As you're shouting into the air, a few people nearby–

TRAVIS: And the Star Trek reference is good. His name's Kern; it's fun.

MATT: Nearby individuals drop their stuff and look over as this billowing, deep goliath voice fills the air around the center of this mildly business-as-usual road vicinity. Suddenly, a few individuals come looking out from inside the Bellows' Respite Inn. It has a tavern portion to the front. One of them is Once-Lucky Ned, who is the person that runs the tavern. He's a human barkeep that wanders out and, “You! Philip! Yelling Kern?” And you see this look on his face.

TRAVIS: Bring me the body of Kern.

LAURA: Alive! Alive.

ORION: He wants to fight him.

MATT: He cocks his head a little bit at you. “Just a moment. Stay right there.” And he runs back inside.

SAM: There's going to be a street fight!

MARISHA: I hear Scanlan say that and I run out and I say, (shouting) fight!

MATT: At this point, other members of the tavern are starting to come out, tankards in hand, like, “what's going on?” They see you. “Oh! There's going to be a fight at the Crucible!” You hear the shouts going off the nearby houses; it's echoing, like town crier to town crier. You're hearing voices echo throughout the entirety of the Braving Grounds: people preparing for this midday unexpected throwdown. At this point, you see a few of the Bastions wearing the armor that is geared towards Kord, the god of strength that runs this portion of Vasselheim.

LAURA: The ones that I'm keeping an eye on?

MATT: No, the ones that you're keeping an eye on were from the Quad Roads, and they're still staying back. One of them, the one that you've marked, is around the corner, just keeping an eye on everybody, but he's mainly keeping to himself. He does stand out like a sore thumb because his armor is darker and based around Erathis, whereas here the Bastions that are under Kord's vision have more of a red, dark, almost rusty look to their armor. Anyway, as the shouts continue, some of the Kord Bastions gather, one of which you recognize as the one who was acting as the bookie the first time you came to the Crucible. And he looks– wiping sleep from his eyes– he looks like he just got into his armor and rushed out here for about ten minutes since you just came out here and shouted your challenge to the sky. He rushes out for a second. “You! Hey, am I to hear properly that you are challenging our standing champion once again?”

TRAVIS: Aye, you heard right.

MATT: “Midday, now, under the noonday sun?”

TRAVIS: Aye, where everyone can see, and he can't hide.

MATT: He glances over to another Bastion that's to his left. “Get Kern. Now.” He rushes off and he looks back to you. “Well, then. A fight we're going to have.” At this point now, there's probably about 20, 25 people that are beginning to gather around the outskirts of the Crucible around you. “Oh, it's Philip! Philip's showing down with Kern!” There's all these different whispers now going throughout the crowd as the rest of you gather. The Bastion that you've been following backs off and stays further back, and is slowly keeping a distance further away as the crowd begins to gather, wanting to stay inconspicuous amongst all this chaos and rabble you guys have collected.

MARISHA: I join in with everybody else. Yeah, did you see that, Kern's fighting Philip!

TALIESIN: Why are you telling me this? Of course I know.

MARISHA: Kern's fighting–

ORION: I also know.

MARISHA: Shit.

LAURA: Can I try, subtly, to pass off my ring of AC to Grog?

MATT: Grog, do you have any enchantment of protection, currently?

TRAVIS: Nope.

MATT: You do not?

TRAVIS: I don't.

MATT: On the ring, does it say attunement required?

LAURA: No. It doesn't, I don't think. Hold on, let me look.

MATT: I can look it up for you, if need be.

LAURA: Ring of Protection.

TRAVIS: Yeah, my Belt of Dwarvenkind is the only thing, but that's all.

LAURA: It just says plus two bonus to AC and saving throw– oh, requires attunement.

MATT: Yeah, you have to take time to go ahead and attune to the magical item.

LAURA: Damn it! I'm sorry, Grog.

TRAVIS: It's all right.

LAURA: You shouldn't have taken off running!

MATT: (laughs) About 20 minutes pass by as the crowd is now gathered, about 50 to 60 people. Apparently, word of your last battle has gotten around, and now there's this fevered pitch of interest. People have dropped what they're doing and the smokestacks you can see have slowly turned to a dribble as everyone who's working the nearby forges and/or smelting irons have rushed out here to see this battle and dropped what they're doing. This has turned into full-on, “Morpheus is fighting Neo.”

TRAVIS: I turn to the bookie, and I take out my entire coin purse, and I throw it at him.

ORION: I use my Mage Hand–

LAURA: No, don't use magic!

ORION: Oh no, I don't! I don't do that!

TALIESIN: We whack him on the head before he starts to do the hand. Stop it!

TRAVIS: I throw him the coin purse and I say, I expect to see that doubled when I get out. And I jump into the pit before Kern even arrives.

MATT: You leap and the whole crowd goes (cheering) and this series of shouting screams surround the air around you. He grabs the coin purse– how much is in that coin purse?

TRAVIS: According to this, it's eleven– that can't be right, can it?

SAM: 11,000?

LAURA: Personal funds?!

MATT: Your personal funds, not what's in the Bag of Holding.

TRAVIS: 1,363.

MATT: 1,363 gold pieces.

LAURA: That's normal. He probably has more than that.

MARISHA: You should start charging admission at the door.

SAM: I run up. There's a bookie here?

MATT: There is a bookie.

SAM: I run up to him and very subtly say, I'd like a hundred against Grog, please.

(laughter)

MATT: Okay. He looks down at you and says, “Not bad. Going with the odds. It's three to one against him.”

SAM: All right, yes. Just don't mention if I win. Maybe I'll come and collect later.

ORION: I have 600 gold pieces–

MATT: You don't hear this.

SAM: I'll collect later. Don't say anything.

MATT: “All right.”

TALIESIN: Good chap, I'd like to place a bet. 500 gold pieces on Philip.

MATT: “On to Philip. All right. (laughs) 500.”

ORION: I'm going to break my bank and follow suit to my human friend. 612 is, I think, all I have left.

MATT: “Curious number, but certainly.” At this time, the crowd gets a little more hushed, people are like, “Oh.” And you see– you don't see this, because you're down in the Crucible– you see the crowd, which has probably gathered close to 70 plus people, part, and you see walking over, soot smeared across the front of his face, stepping up is Kern the Hammer, with a bristled, half-orc mustache, a little bit tousled from a day of hard work, sweat glistening off the top of his brow and the top of his head.

TRAVIS: He's missing a lip.

MATT: As he approaches, you can see– there has been some healing through the quick work of the clerics who worked after the last battle. However, there is definitely a section of his upper lip that is permanently missing, looking almost like a half-cleft palate. You can see beneath it, his sneering yellowed teeth grinding as he approaches the Crucible.

TALIESIN: I believe in you, Philip.

LAURA: I'm going to bet.

MATT: You're going to bet?

LAURA: I'm going to bet. I'm going to put 600 on Philip!

MARISHA: So wait, this betting thing is enjoyable?

ORION: No, it's not. It's a gamble.

MARISHA: It feels bad?

TALIESIN: It's terrible.

MARISHA: So why do we do it?

ORION: So we can make more, and plus, it's giving faith in our friend.

LAURA: It's inspiration.

MARISHA: I'll bet five gold on Philip.

TRAVIS: (laughs) That's an excellent bet. That is an excellent bet, Keyleth.

MARISHA: Thank you! Is that how it works?

MATT: Vax stands behind you and is like, “Yes, I'll stand behind your bet,” and keeps his gold to himself. At this point, the crowd separates. This tension's mounting, and everyone's eyes are on Kern as he steps up to the edge of the Crucible. You now notice the dark figure. The noonday sun is now high in the sky, and you can see, by the little bit of the shadowed outline of Kern, muscle-bound, looming over the edge of the Crucible. You hear a voice call down to you, low and gravelly and familiar. “You! Did you like the gift I sent you?”

TRAVIS: I reach into my belt and I pull out his upper lip, and I give it a smell and I say, I've enjoyed it very much. I've come to collect the rest. And I fling it into the pit.

MATT: It hits the ground. “You're not wearing the medal. A shame, really. I thought you'd be more proud of your status.” (whoosh, thud). He leaps down into the pit right before you, this grin on his face. As everyone's gathering around, people are now swarming the bookie, handing gold left and right, and he's making notes in his little ledger out of his pocket. People are beginning to gather around and crush against the outsides of the Crucible with some people being careful, almost being pushed in. At this point in time, now, Kern's glaring at you and you guys are slowly circling each other. (grunts) “You've been training, I see. Good. So have I!” He goes and takes his wine skin, pops off the top–

TRAVIS: Hold! Surely a man of your stature would honor me by sharing a drink before this battle.

MATT: He takes (glugging) and throws you the wineskin.

TRAVIS: How much is left in there?

MATT: About a third. You're clutching it in your hand, and he's staring at you intently.

TRAVIS: (sniff, sniff) I don't drink such piss water. I pour it out. I take out my own wineskin that I filled with the stone giant strength, and I chug it down.

SAM: He's juicing!

MARISHA: Oh shit!

TALIESIN: Oh!

MATT: You see him snarl to the side as you toss his wineskin to the ground and you chug your own. It tastes very heavily– this is frost giant strength, you said?

TRAVIS: Or the stone giant, yeah.

MATT: Oh, the stone giant. It tastes very heavily of black charcoal, dust, grit, and the actual liquid itself has a very gravelly texture as it goes down your throat, and you can feel chunks getting caught, but you push through and continue gulping it. It's thicker, like a molasses, than it is an actual liquid. You finish it off, toss it to the side. Go ahead and mark your increase to strength for this.

TRAVIS: I got it down already.

(laughter)

MATT: You came prepared!

TRAVIS: (singing) We're going to need a montage, a montage.

MATT: (laughs) You toss your wineskin to the side. The bookie, you hear now, raises his hand. “All here in attendance. We have here in the Crucible this day, a rematch of titans. The standing champion of all the Braving Grounds of Vasselheim: Kern the Hammer.” (cheers)

(booing)

MATT: Coins start raining on you: copper, silver, and gold pieces spin down on the ground around you, Grog. You guys just stand tensely locked in that warrior glare. “Challenging him, once again, tail between his legs, intent on claiming his glory, returning to the Crucible, Philip.”

TRAVIS: No! Philip is dead. There is no Philip. There is only Grog, the Vengeful.

(cheering)

MATT: Cheers go up around the outside of the Crucible. You can now see the entire crowd– the energy itself is electric in the air; eyes are intense and bloodshot. Everyone is looking down into what is about to be, hopefully, a drag-out, throwdown fight. You feel the rippling strength of your stone giant elders tearing through your body. You flex, and you hear with each muscle tensing and the popping of bones and sinew as you prepare yourself for this. As you're doing this, you see across the way, Kern cracks his knuckles, and you can see the giant scar from his snarling lip. You realize he hasn't been snarling this whole time; it's just the natural state of his current smile. And then he snarls. You can see his orcish tusks protruding out, and the gums themselves, black and purple, peering out from underneath his upper lip that you once destroyed. “I'm going to take yours this time, boy.”

TRAVIS: Enough words, toothless. Let's do this.

MATT: Roll initiative.

TRAVIS: Oh, I get advantage, don't I? That's better. 20.

MARISHA: Music change!

SAM: How did you have that ready?

TALIESIN: Witchcraft!

MATT: I keep all my stuff at the ready, just in case. All right.

TALIESIN: Are we that predictable?

MATT: I have a whole cluster over here. So what'd you get for initiative, in total?

TRAVIS: 20.

MARISHA: There's papers just littering our apartment, just information.

MATT: I have clusters and clusters of maps that are either used or unused, at all times. All righty.

MARISHA: Our house is a D&D cave.

MATT: I'm so sorry. As you're preparing for this circumstance, you are up first. Grog, you have initiative.

TRAVIS: I race towards Kern, and I duck down as if I'm going to go into a form tackle towards his waist. I take a step to the side at the last second and wrap my arms around his waist from behind, pick him up to DDT him over my shoulder.

(cheering)

ORION: The DDT!

MARISHA: The DDT!

MATT: Okay. For this, go ahead and make an athletics check.

TRAVIS: Okay. (laughs) 25.

MATT: 25.

TRAVIS: 18 plus seven.

MATT: He rolled a 23. 15 plus eight. So you rush up behind and he goes in for the feint, attempts to parry. However, you vanish from the side. He feels the arms wrap around him and he reaches down instinctively to try and pry them away, but it's too late as you lift him up off of his back and (whack) send him onto the ground. Go ahead and roll 1d2 plus your strength modifier.

LAURA: 1d-what? Two?

MATT: Well, it's 1d4 divided by two.

TRAVIS: Six.

MATT: Six, all right. (impact noise) So he took the damage. There's no attacks this round, currently; however, he is currently prone. He is prone on the ground right there. As you slam him onto the ground and release him, he falls to the ground and you hear (pained grunt) this exhale of pain. All right, you also have a bonus action, still.

TRAVIS: Right, with that action, I would like to go into– does it take an action to rage?

MATT: It takes a bonus action for you to rage.

TRAVIS: Which is what this is?

MATT: Yes.

TRAVIS: I would like to rage.

(cheering)

MATT: And with that, as you see his form crumple on the ground, he gets up to one knee and begins standing up, wiping off a little bit of the dust that's been smeared across his slobbered chin. You look down at him, and the light that's pouring down from the sun that was once white and yellow in tone now turns to red as your eyes focus on your quarry before you. That ends your turn. Kern uses half movement to stand up. (grunts) Looks at you and gives this chuckle. (slow chuckle) “This early, then? So be it.” Bites the edge of his wrist and tears a chunk of his own flesh off the side of his arm. (tearing sound, heavy breathing) Uses his bonus action to rage. Goes into his frenzied rage, as well. And he's coming at you with both fists. One thing you notice, strangely: Kern, who previously seemed to throw haymakers at you, before, goes into a stance.

LAURA: He's been training!

ORION: He monked up!

MATT: And goes into swing two heavy fists at you. That is going to be a– Let's see, 24?

TRAVIS: That hits.

MATT: Ooh, that is going to be a 27.

TRAVIS: Yeah, that'll hit, too.

MATT: All right, first hit is nine points of damage.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: Second one is eight points of damage.

TRAVIS: He got nine points of damage?

MATT: (whack, whack) Yeah. And for those who are paying attention: they're both raging, they both take half damage, but since they're both doing it, we're negating both abilities because otherwise this battle would take three hours. (whack, whack) These fists, you see as they hit you, they're not just extremely strong and powerful previously, but they're hitting precise areas where you feel the muscle and bone is less resistant. There is technique to these punches that wasn't there before.

TRAVIS: No problem!

MATT: He is going to dodge to the side here. (whoosh) Dodge off to the side (whoosh). Prepares himself, fists ready, for a defensive action. It's your go.

TRAVIS: All right, I would like to enter a frenzied rage, and I would like to– since he moves off to my side, I see him move, and I throw a back fist into the concave area of his nose.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: 23.

MATT: 23 hits.

TRAVIS: Great. That is– motherfucker, six.

MATT: Six damage?

TRAVIS: Yes.

MATT: All righty.

TRAVIS: I would like to then reach forward, as he's reeling back from that hit, with both of my thumbs and throw them towards his eyes.

MATT: You're going to attempt to blind? All right, so what this is going to be is for your second attack, a loose grapple, and we'll see if you can manage to push forward from that point. So go ahead and make an athletics check.

TRAVIS: 14.

MATT: 14. That is going to be a 16 on his end, unfortunately. As you reach up, he (whoosh) slaps the hands away. His defensive posture– he was ready for that sort of advance and he just knocks them to the side with a grin. Yeah. You do still have a bonus action, if you wish to use it.

TRAVIS: If he knocks it aside, I take my right leg and I throw it to the outside of his kneecap, trying to snap his ACL or MCL.

MATT: Okay, go ahead and roll for the attack on that.

TRAVIS: That's a 27.

MATT: 27 does indeed hit.

TRAVIS: Why didn't that happen before? That's seven.

MATT: Seven points of damage? Oof, all right. As he pushes your hands out of the way, (whack) a resounding snap sound as your foot hits the side of his thigh. His leg muscles themselves are like a tree trunk and take most of the impact of the damage and you see him (pained cry). You can see the pain in his face. His grin gives way to a sudden grimace of pain. Your leg is now held in place; he resisted the full force of the blow to some physical damage himself, but not enough to knock the knee out. Do you want to move at all, or are you going to stay where you are?

TRAVIS: I would like to move to flank his right side.

MATT: All righty.

SAM: Put him in a body bag!

MATT: As you move over, with that it comes to his turn. As you're moving to the side, he spins around this time. You have not yet seen him move his legs to this extent, to a full back roundhouse kick towards your head. That is going to be a 20?

TRAVIS: That hits.

MATT: That hits, okay. Second attack is going to be a 19?

TRAVIS: That hits.

MATT: Next attack is going to be a 12, no, 13.

TRAVIS: That misses.

MATT: Okay. So the roundhouse kick (whoosh) swings around, completely unexpected as you pull to the side. (smack) Hits you right square in the side of the face and jaw. That is going to be seven points of damage.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: And as you're reeling from that, he brings the leg back, jumps in the air and does a secondary jump, side-swiping kick to the other side of your head, as you're sent to the side. (whack, whack) Second one doing eight points of damage. (whack, whack)

TRAVIS: Okay. All right.

MATT: And he's going to move slightly over here, basically getting you up against the wall. He's situating himself now where since you moved to the side; he's putting you in this pincer formation between the wall and himself. That ends his turn. You're up.

TRAVIS: (grunts, pants) I see you've been taking some ballet. How very cultured of you. And I rush forward. I'm between him and the wall?

MATT: You are between him and the wall, yes.

TRAVIS: Okay. (laughs)

LAURA: I get up on Trinket's shoulders and cheer.

MATT: (roars) Trinket roars with you. (roar) This roar of victory, which people around immediately take two steps away from the large bear that's suddenly roaring in the center. You guys are unfazed, too focused on each other.

TRAVIS: I rush up and get him, give him a little nasty– of the last time for a double thunderclap, to either side of his ears.

MATT: Oof, okay.

TRAVIS: That is a 13.

MATT: 13. Unfortunately, as you go to swing, he (whoosh) ducks out of the way, and your hands slap into each other, finding no purchase on his head.

TRAVIS: That's all right. Since I didn't find any purchase, I'll see where his ears are, try and grab them, and I'm going to attempt to rip his ears off of his head. His nice pointy ears.

MATT: Okay, so your second attack is going to be to try and grab his ears. Go for it.

TRAVIS: 16.

MATT: 16, no. As you go up for the one ear, he parries it to the side with his hand.

TRAVIS: (sighs) Third attack. 14.

MATT: 14. (whoosh) Knocks that one out of the way. As you're (whoosh, whoosh) swinging at him, he seems to just be dodging out of the way. He still has the force behind him, but whatever he's picked up now has completely thrown you off. You weren't prepared. You were prepared for a bruiser. You've now seen, still a bruiser, but with a little more refined technique, and it's throwing you off your game. You need to resettle yourself. You need to pull yourself in, Grog. However, in that moment of thinking, he swings at you with a double pummel up towards the torso. That is a natural 20. That is going to be a 13.

SAM: Oh! Miss.

MATT: This is yours, I believe. And that's going to be a nine. (laughs) Or, sorry, a ten. So first one hits, second two miss. (whack) The first one comes through and smacks you right in the center of the stomach. With a double hit, that's 14 points of damage.

TRAVIS: I would like to use my Stone's Endurance.

MATT: Go for it. You, at that point as the punch hits your stomach, you flex, feeling the strength of the mountain fill your body, your ancestral roots of your stone giant brethren fill your form.

TRAVIS: That's 16.

MATT: 16. As the fist (crash) finds the side of your stomach, the iron-like form that is your torso stops his fist in its place, and you see him (pained exhale) pull away, shaking his hand. As he shakes away, he brings up his other hand to backhand you. You duck out of the way. He swings with a kick around with the momentum, and you catch it in the middle of the air. So we're going to start your turn with you now holding his leg up by the side of your head.

TRAVIS: Oh, fantastic. I'll keep that leg up in the air. I'll move it over to my shoulder, take both my hands up and bring it down on top of his kneecap, hyper-flexing the leg.

(yelling)

MATT: Go ahead and roll for attack on this.

TRAVIS: That's better. 26.

(cheering)

TRAVIS: That's eight.

MATT: Eight damage? All right.

MARISHA: Maybe we can start a chant for inspiration.

LAURA: Yeah, can we? Grog.

MATT: So that's your first attack?

TRAVIS: That was my first.

MATT: So as you go (crash), bring it down, the knee– a human's leg would have hyperextended, but the sheer size of muscle– and this is comparable to your own– you feel it definitely hurt and he's like (pained cry) yelp out in pain, but it's not enough to fully pop the leg back.

TRAVIS: What's the matter, ballerina? I thought you should be stretched out and ready for this. And I reach back and I drive my fist into his nutsack.

(laughter)

MATT: Roll a second attack.

TRAVIS: 25.

MATT: That definitely hits. Go ahead and roll damage on that.

ORION: Oh my god, a Grog punch to the balls.

TRAVIS: Eight. My first eight.

MATT: Nice! Second eight, actually. You've already rolled.

TRAVIS: Oh, that's right, okay.

ORION: I'm going to argue that that should be doubled because there's two balls.

(laughter)

MATT: Kern is one of those individuals who's had his nuts kicked enough times in his life to know the pain well and be prepared for it. So as you come down, (whack) slam it right into him. You hear this (high, pained wail) almost wolf-like screeching howl as Kern's head lifts up in severe pain. His hands come down and grasp your wrist and is now holding it, trying to pull it away from his midsection. He's in a very bad situation right now.

TRAVIS: With that last one, can I take my right leg and in an effort to shoot for that same knee I've been kicking at, aim for the knee or sweep his feet?

MATT: Sure, go for it.

TRAVIS: Fuck. That'll miss. It's a 13.

MATT: 13. As you pull back to sweep, Kern uses this advantage to bring up the other leg that you haven't hit, plant it right on your shoulder and neck area, and then push off your body. As you sweep underneath, he leaps backward, flipping in the air. (thud) Lands on both of his feet, clutching the inside of his groin area, like (snarling grunt) shaking off the pain through the anger. So he leaps back to here.

MARISHA: As that's happening, we all start a chant.

ALL: (chanting) Grog, Grog, Grog.

SAM: As they're chanting, I'm starting to sing amid the chant. (singing) It's the eye of the goliath, it's the thrill of the fight. Rising up to the challenge of that asshole. (speaking) And I'm trying to send inspiration to him.

MATT: With that, you hear through the fury, through the anger that the chant, your real name, not Philip now, your real name, reclaimed in the center of this proving point in the center of the oldest known city to civilization, under the visual guidance of the god of strength and valor. And through all that, you hear the gentle hymn of Scanlan's voice cut through all that and come to you with a beat, a rhythmic beat that drives you forward. Go ahead and take a d10 inspiration.

(cheering)

MATT: Now Kern, having landed on his feet, rushes forward towards you, and first using his bonus action, is going to go ahead and reach down for a very deep uppercut. It looks like he's coming in for a left, and sweeps down to try and take you from underneath, breaking through your defense. That is going to be a 20.

TRAVIS: That hits.

MATT: You take ten points of damage. Right to the chin from underneath. For the bonus action, Kern then comes back, and you're used to an unleashed flurry. Kern, however, comes back into a fully defensive position, righting his hands and leg in a backwards stance, and is just looking at you, ready for you to come. He's using his action to go into a dodge. It's now your turn.

SAM: Oh, wait, so he gets some sort of advantage?

MATT: All attacks against him have disadvantage this next turn.

ORION: Wait, against him? No, he meant… advantage, because balls.

MATT: Nope.

ORION: Damn it.

MARISHA: The balls doesn't give advantage?

ORION: No, he has tough nuts. Never mind.

MATT: He has the feat Toughness, which I think really resists any sort of ball damage at this point.

TRAVIS: In an effort to keep my distance, I run towards him, I jump up in the air and throw one thrust-kick towards the side, right towards his chest, just to see what his defense will do.

MATT: Go for it. With disadvantage, so roll twice.

LAURA: Oh god. Mother bitch!

TRAVIS: Well, that was a natural 20, but 19.

MATT: 19. Total 19?

TRAVIS: Total 19.

MATT: That just barely hits.

TRAVIS: Can I add the inspiration to the– no, just to the roll, right. That is an eight.

MATT: Eight. So.

TRAVIS: Halved. So half of three is one and a half, and we're rounding up?

MATT: Rounding up, yeah. Three and four is a two, considered.

TRAVIS: Right, so eight.

MATT: All righty. All right. So you rush up, (whack) slamming. He puts the defense out and tries to push to the side. However, his defense is imperfect; you can see he's still new to this fighting style, and you still manage to push through with sheer force and slam into the side of his torso from the impact.

TRAVIS: I leap forward again and try to throw my thumbs into his eyes.

MATT: Okay, you're going for the blind again. Go ahead and roll an attack on this, with disadvantage.

TRAVIS: 21– aw. 15.

MATT: 15.

ORION: Inspiration!

SAM: If you want to use it.

TRAVIS: That's a 22.

MATT: 22 hits.

(cheering)

MATT: So you rush forward to grab. You have hold of his head now. There's no damage this round, but you're enabling yourself now for the rest of the round to attempt to push into his eyes. There's no damage on this one. You grab the side of his head, and you see his eyes open with this look of fear at the unexpected ferocity from you. Go ahead and make an athletics check.

MARISHA: Come on, Grog!

TRAVIS: 24.

MATT: 24. He rolled a 19, so go ahead and do damage on this. Roll damage.

TRAVIS: With the four? Six.

MATT: Six, all righty. So as you have a hold of his head, you grin as your thumbs push into his eyes. He yells out in pain, and before you can damage the eyes permanently, he slaps off of your hands so hard and with such an intense push that you can't help but feel your actual forearms be blown back. However, he's clutching the side of his face, and for the next round, he is blinded.

TRAVIS: Can I move?

MATT: You can move, as well.

TRAVIS: I just back straight up.

MATT: Back this way? He currently doesn't threaten you because he's blinded, so you can rush past him and not get an attack of opportunity.

TRAVIS: Oh, really?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: I'll move along the wall to his left side.

MATT: Over here?

TRAVIS: Yes.

MATT: To there?

TRAVIS: Yes.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: But back up?

TRAVIS: And back up just a little bit. Yeah.

MATT: Okay. So. As you dodge off to the side, Kern's grabbing his face, and just takes a moment. Hears your footsteps along the side, as there is no stealth to this; there are just footprints. However, Kern does attempt to sidestep over. He's going to attempt to make three strikes at you, with a disadvantage on all of them because he's currently blinded.

TRAVIS: All right, you seem to be rolling pretty high. You could use the dice that I threw.

MATT: And rolls against him have advantage as well. All right, so attacks against you. That is going to be a 14.

TRAVIS: Misses!

MATT: Natural 20 or an eight. So that'll be 16.

TRAVIS: Okay, that misses.

MATT: 19 and 19. Another one does hit. So, wide punches forward. They're a foot away from you. You chuckle, getting out of the way, and as you chuckle, he hears that. (snap) And for a moment, his mind clarifies, even though his eyes are closed with a trickle of blood off the side of one of the eye. He immediately goes into a faster-than-you-expected midsection punch that (whack) smacks you right in the middle of your laughing stomach. Because you're laughing, there is that tension, but it wasn't flexed, prepared for an actual impact from a fist. And you take seven points of damage from the hit to your abdomen.

TRAVIS: All right.

MATT: It is your turn. He is still blinded, so you have advantage on all these attacks. As you reel from the hit to your midsection–

TRAVIS: I want to move– no, I'll stay right where I am. Can I reach forward, grab his head and his shoulder, and go in for a bite attack at his neck?

MATT: You certainly can.

TRAVIS: (growls) Yes! Aiming for the jugular. 23.

MATT: 23? Definitely hits. Go ahead and roll damage on that.

TRAVIS: All right. Eight.

SAM: You're sure you're adding that right?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

SAM: It's just plus four?

TRAVIS: Plus six. This is halved.

SAM: Are you sure? I thought you were both raging. There's no halves!

TRAVIS: No, we halve the die.

SAM: Is that true?

MATT: Both of them are at half damage because of their raging, so we're considering them both to not count that.

SAM: So they're not counting the halves?

LAURA: So he shouldn't be halving his die?

MATT: Well, no. The die halving is the natural damage of a punch, 1d2. So it's half of a d4.

LAURA: Got it. Sorry.

MATT: Except for Kern, who is currently doing a full d4 on his punches. For some reason! (laughs) All right. So. As you rush in, he puts out a hand to try and punch instinctively as you rush towards him, his eyes still coated in his own blood. You push to the side, reach in, and grab the back of his shoulder, and (crunching sound) Grog-bite into the side. It's like biting into a tree trunk, his skin is so thick.

TRAVIS: I eat bar stools for dinner.

MATT: You do, actually, and the taste is similar, Your teeth grind in, and you find yourself tearing into probably what would be the toughest steak you've ever tried. You get about a quarter to a half an inch in with your teeth, definitely taking a chunk and (tearing sound) tearing out what you can, but based on the general hardiness of his half-orc structure, you don't get to a jugular or any major vein, but you do leave a gash that leaves a significant mark on his body. That's the first attack.

TRAVIS: I pull back from the bite, and I whisper into his ear, I was wondering what was going to break first: your spirit, or your body. And I would like to try to pick him up over my head and bring him down on my knee, Bane-style.

LAURA: Batman!

MATT: Go ahead and make an athletics check. With advantage.

TRAVIS: Okay, that's 25.

MATT: 25.

TRAVIS: Do I need to roll on advantage to see if I get a 20?

MATT: Sure, go for it.

TRAVIS: Oh, it's a 19. It was so close! 26.

MATT: 26.

TRAVIS: Son of a bitch!

MATT: You reach forward and scoop him up, lifting him over your head. He's trying to resist it, but in his unable-to-see state, there's no way he can possibly resist this. You lift him up over the top, (whack) down onto the knee. Go ahead and roll damage. I will consider both your two final attacks, but this attack damage is doubled, modifier included.

TRAVIS: Seven, so 14.

(cheering)

MATT: All right. As part of this, he is–

SAM: Oh no. He's going to pull some shit.

TRAVIS: Matt reaching for things is never good.

MATT: I'm going to go ahead and make a constitution check on his end. The DC is going to be the damage dealt, so he's going to try and essentially resist the effect of this. He is at disadvantage because he's blinded. That is a three. An 18 and a three. However, he still has a high constitution and so that's still plus nine to that.

TALIESIN, TRAVIS, and LAURA: 12.

MATT: Not enough to beat the 14. So, for the purposes of this round, Kern is currently on the ground, stunned. He loses an entire round of combat.

(excited noises)

MATT: No longer blinded, but Kern is currently (choking noises) reaching towards his back, where there's this shooting pain throughout his entire nervous system. You have another round to go.

TRAVIS: I reach up with my fingernails, and I carve these scrapes down my face, and I leap up with both feet, and I jump down on his head.

(yelling)

LAURA: It's so brutal!

MATT: All right. Go ahead and roll. Attacks have advantage on him because he's stunned.

TRAVIS: That's better. 23.

MATT: 23 hits.

TRAVIS: You know what? Just three of them. (battle cry)

MATT: Just rage-stomping on him? Okay! Three attacks.

TRAVIS: 20.

MATT: 20 hits.

MARISHA: You're right. This is so much more exciting when you bet.

TRAVIS: 15.

MATT: The first, you leap up into the air, both feet down (wham) right into the shoulder and side of the rib cage. You hear a (wet crunching noise) snap as at least two ribs give way under the sheer weight and force of your left foot. As you leap up again, bring down both feet a second time, one finds purchase on the ground next to him, while the second one hits him right in the lower abdomen, pelvis region. (whack) With this second one, you hear (deep groaning) the scream as the air is nearly knocked out of Kern. The third one, you reach up, this time just seeing seething rage. You can feel the actual foam at the corners of your mouth dripping down the sides of your chin. As you bring your leg up again to stomp a third time, this time Kern rolls out of the way. He manages to just avoid the third slam. What's the total damage on that?

TRAVIS: Did I roll? It's good. Eight and eight!

MATT: Damn!

TALIESIN: You turned him into a stain.

MATT: Kern, no longer stunned, now gets up, (grunts) holding the back of his side.

LAURA: You suck, Kern!

ORION: You also smell!

MATT: (chuckles) Glances up for a moment at you, and sees you raising your fists and gives a grin. Looks back towards you and lunges towards you now. He's going to attempt a grapple at you. Go ahead and make an athletics check.

TRAVIS: That's a one.

LAURA: Do you get an advantage at all?

MATT: Nope, no longer blinded, no longer stunned. You are considered currently grappled. All right, so for the action there– as a bonus action he's going to rear back, open his mouth, and attempt to bite towards your face.

MARISHA: He's Mike Tyson-ing you.

MATT: Correct. That is a 21.

TRAVIS: That hits.

MATT: You take ten points of damage, and you feel teeth grasp on to the top of your lip, and with a sickening sharp, burning sensation, (wet ripping noise) your upper lip is now torn from the front of your face. As you see Kern reel back, a streak of blood spilling off in an arc as his head pulls back, a terrible grin creeping across his smile. As you now see, this dull gray-colored, Grog flesh-toned piece of skin dangling bloodily from his mouth.

(disgusted noises)

MARISHA: We can fix it!

MATT: Your turn, currently grappled so you can't move.

TRAVIS: I would like to attempt to break that grapple.

MATT: Okay. Make an athletics check.

TRAVIS: That is 21.

MATT: He rolled a 14. So you break from the grapple. Still have your bonus action.

TRAVIS: Both of my bonus actions, or all three?

MATT: Actually, breaking from grapple– let me double-check. It uses an action, so yeah, it's your action. You still have a bonus action.

TRAVIS: I blow through my newly lipless mouth, (laughs) and I run up and I throw my face into his.

MATT: Okay! Go ahead and roll for your headbutt.

TRAVIS: That's a 17.

MATT: 17 misses. As you dodge forward, Kern actually spits it toward you and it (squelch) hits you in the face, and for a second, it completely throws you off. Your head still goes forward. However, as you look down, Kern has already swished beneath you. The sheer speed is unexpected; he's now beneath looking up and grabs the chunk of the lip that he had taken and comes up for a full round of attacks against you.

TRAVIS: Wait, that was just my one attack.

MATT: Oh, that's right. You still have– No, you used your action to break the grapple. So you're still grappled, so you can't move. So this is his turn.

TRAVIS: I broke the grapple!

MATT: You did break the grapple, so yeah, you could still move if you wanted to.

TRAVIS: No, I'll stay there.

MATT: Okay. That is a 23.

TRAVIS: Hits.

MATT: 23. And a 12.

TRAVIS: (sighs) Misses.

MATT: So, grabs the lip in one hand, reaches up and then (slam) uppercuts you from underneath for the first hit. That is seven points of damage.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: The next one, however, is eight points of damage. Swings up and actually haymakers you to the side with the hand still holding the chunk of your lip in it (slamming impact) across the side of your face, and is going to attempt to do a backwards leaping flip-kick. However, because Kern is not as practiced at this and is over-extending, you see it telegraphed far in advance, and you duck out of the way, and it (whoosh) whiffs past. Kern loses his balance for a minute and in an embarrassing moment almost falls over from his own strike. Manages to catch himself and is like, “Nobody saw that, right?” That ends Kern's turn. You're up.

LAURA: (shouting) I saw that, Kern!

TRAVIS: I reach forward, throw that leg towards the right knee again. Still working on the same spot.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Miss.

MATT: All right. Still have two more strikes.

TRAVIS: That's a 21.

MATT: 21 hits.

TRAVIS: And I miss.

MATT: Okay. So, you rush forward with your leg (whoomph) he manages to duck out of the way, bringing his knee up to the side. Comes down to try and get ready for the next attack; however, you already used that inertia of the kick to bring your fist down (whack) right across the front of his face. Go ahead and roll damage.

TRAVIS: That's an eight.

MATT: Eight. All right. Okay, and the third strike, you come out to follow that up with a full combo, at which point however, he reaches out, (clutching noise) grabs the sides of your wrists with both of his hands and brings it down to where you're now face-to-face again, left at his mercy at this point. You're off-balance and led towards him. It's Kern's turn. Kern is going to reach back and attempt to headbutt you in the front. That is a 21.

TRAVIS: That hits.

MATT: That is an 11.

TRAVIS: Misses.

MATT: And that's going to be a 22.

TRAVIS: That hits.

MATT: Just (whack) headbutts you right square in the face. You reel back from it. He goes to headbutt again. This time you duck out of the way. However, at that point, he pulls you closer in towards him, still holding your wrists to his side, and he headbutts you a third time. So, the first headbutt does nine points of damage, and the other one does seven points of damage.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: (whack, whoosh, whack) Pulling you in, this time releasing you from the sheer impact, pushing you back onto your feet. It's your go.

TRAVIS: Am I back to the wall?

MATT: You're pretty close to the wall, yeah.

TRAVIS: I'd like to take a step back, put my back foot on the wall, and then push off into the air with a huge overhand right.

MATT: Nice! Okay, pushing off in the air and arcing down with the fist.

TRAVIS: That's a 22.

MATT: 22 hits.

TRAVIS: Eight points of damage.

MATT: Eight points of damage. All righty.

TRAVIS: And then I say, you were supposed to be the only lipless one. And I soccer ball the shit out of those dimes between his legs.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Nice! 25.

MATT: 25, that definitely hits.

TRAVIS: That is seven.

MATT: All righty. (whack) With another screeching (howls in pain) your foot immediately cracks right. You've now repeatedly pummeled him into his man-bits, and you can see there is a dark stain in his trousers when you pull your foot back. You've definitely drawn blood in his nether regions.

LAURA: Oh, Kord. That is painful.

TRAVIS: Is he still standing? Is he bent over?

MATT: He's standing partially bent forward, clutching towards the severe pain in his nether regions.

TRAVIS: What? Did you lose something? No? You'll lose it now. And I do it again.

MATT: All right.

TRAVIS: 19.

MATT: 19 just barely hits.

(cheering)

TRAVIS: Eight!

MATT: Eight. All righty.

TRAVIS: Thank you, Percy.

MATT: (whack) A third hit. This time (guttural cry) another howl in pain. Kern reaches down and clasps his hands once again, the same capture maneuver he did with your fist, onto your ankle, and you can see the face goes from pain and his eyes flash open with a blood-seething orc rage. Half-orc this may be; in this moment, Kern's gone full orc.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: And you can see (growls) on his turn, Kern is going to, pulling your leg forward towards you. You feel yourself pulled off balance, and the momentum pull you towards him as he unleashes another flurry of blows against you.

SAM: As he does, I shout out from the audience using my Cutting Words.

MATT: What do you shout?

SAM: Oh, Kern, do you need some dick? Because I gave some to your mom last night!

(laughing and jeering)

MATT: Go ahead and roll a d10, and I'll subtract it from his attack roll.

SAM: d10?

ORION: That was a burn.

SAM: Fuck! Only three.

MATT: That's okay. So, his roll was a 21, that brings it down to an 18. What's your armor class?

TRAVIS: It's 18.

MATT: 18, so it still hits.

(dismayed shouting)

MATT: Still, that was awesome! You can see there's a momentary distraction as Kern glances over for a second angrily, but still follows through with the first hit, this one clocking you straight in the face, sending your head back in severe pain. You take ten points of damage. (whack) You fall backward, the force of the blow sending you onto your heels. Second strike comes in at a 15. I believe that misses.

TRAVIS: Oh, that misses. Yeah, sorry.

MATT: That is– oh, that's a natural 20. That puts it at 12 points of damage on the third strike. As Kern comes forward, the second punch swings over your head as you're still reeled back. The third one, he runs forward towards you as you're pushed a few feet away and knees you right straight to the solar plexus, (gasps) the impact causing the air to escape your lungs, and for a brief moment you're (gasping) having to pull the air back in. It's your turn.

TRAVIS: Right.

MARISHA: So, is that– I was just saying, if we get another chant going–

ALL: (chanting) Grog, Grog, Grog.

MARISHA: Cover me. I cast Healing Word on Grog.

MATT: All right, I'm going to ask you to do a sleight-of-hand check.

MARISHA: Okay. Do I get advantage because we're all chanting together?

MATT: Nope.

ORION: What if I shot off a Prestidigitation firework?

LAURA: Nope.

MARISHA: To help me out? Will it be a team effort? No? All right.

MATT: Doing this now.

MARISHA: Oh, that's good, that's a 16. 18 total.

MATT: (chuckles) As you begin casting, one of the Bastions grabs your wrist and pulls you into his face and says, “I'm sorry, missy. Am I to understand that you're cheating?”

MARISHA: No! That's just the language of my people.

ORION: She's foreign.

MARISHA: Yes, I'm foreign.

MATT: Go ahead and make a deception roll. It would be with disadvantage, but because Tiberius is helping you, we're just gonna make it a straight roll.

MARISHA: Deception?

MATT: Deception.

MARISHA: 11 total, because charisma.

MATT: The Bastion says, “You're coming with me.”

MARISHA: Why do I always get busted?

ORION: Can I do something real quick?

MATT: Scanlan was going to act first, and then we'll get to you.

ORION: I want to be like, excuse me, and I– sorry.

SAM: I said, I see this happening. I go over and I use Friends to cast–

MATT: As you're about to walk over, Tiberius puts his hand out and goes–

ORION: No! Excuse me. And I pull out ten gold coins. That's all I actually have because I had ten left, (laughs) and I take those, and I give them. I'm sorry. This has been a misunderstanding. She's foreign, and she's royalty. Please, I'm from Draconia. She's from– she's a druid. I say all this shit really quick, and I'm like, I'm so, so sorry.

MARISHA: I worship the ever-loving unicorn, Rainbow Fluffers.

MATT: Make a deception check with disadvantage, because he's already pissed off with this.

ORION: What was it? Deception?

MARISHA: He rolled a 12 and a 13.

ORION: Deception? So that's 22 and 21.

MATT: Okay. The Bastion glares at you, looks over at one of the nearby Bastions. You see two manacles clank down on your wrists. Another Bastion to your left and the Bastion that's holding you both says, “Apparently, she's got people helping her out. Come on. We're dragging her off.” You both are being pulled away.

ORION: As they do that, I'm like, you said dragon!

MATT: You guys are being dragged away from the Crucible. Grog.

TRAVIS: It's my turn?

MATT: It is your turn.

TRAVIS: I come back from that knee to the solar plexus.

MARISHA: Right, guys, have fun! Root for Grog for us!

TRAVIS: I reach out and grab the back of his head, and I drive my elbow straight into his chin.

MATT: Go for it.

TRAVIS: 25?

MATT: 25 does hit.

TRAVIS: Yes! Eight.

MATT: All righty.

TRAVIS: As it carries through, I'd like to come back with a back elbow, same spot. Boom.

MATT: All righty. Roll for an attack on that.

TRAVIS: 16.

MATT: No. (whoosh) Parries it to the side after the first impact sets his jaw off to the side again. (crack) Snaps it back into place.

TRAVIS: Last one?

MATT: Last one.

TRAVIS: Since I'm standing and I probably whiffed, I see that knee that I've been working on, and I throw my heel out and try and pop it in.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Yes! 27.

MATT: 27 does hit. Go ahead and roll damage.

TRAVIS: Eight.

MATT: Eight. All right. You go forward and (pop) your foot finds the side of the knee, and the knee this time buckles under the weight (cracking) off to the side. Kern falls onto one knee, puts both hands out on the ground, and (coughing) coughs up this sputtering puddle of blood that then spills out on the ground. Kern looks like that blow is about to knock Kern over to the side, but Kern sits there and tenses his muscles. His head whips up at you, and that orcish glare, that sheer focus of fury that you saw once before, is holding him on the edge. Kern looks up at you. “No, this is my town!” (roars) and leaps up at you with a flurry of an extremely desperate half-orc. First strike comes at you. That is a 22 to hit.

TRAVIS: Hits.

MATT: That is a 27 to hit.

TRAVIS: Hits.

MATT: And natural 20.

(groaning)

MATT: First strike is ten points of damage.

TRAVIS: Ten points. Okay.

MATT: Next one is eight points of damage.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: Last one which is eight, six, 14 points of damage.

TRAVIS: Right, okay.

MATT: What are you at?

TRAVIS: So that puts me at negative 13. I use my Relentless Rage.

SAM: Oh! What is that?

TALIESIN: Our little boy's growing up!

MATT: So Grog is put in the negative as the orc has pummeled you, and you feel (doosh, doosh), and with a final resounding crack, the knee comes up, slamming you into your chin. You feel your body begin to fade. Your vision begin to dull to black.

SAM: I just won 100 gold!

MATT: At that point, you feel that seething anger, that rage, that medallion that was given to you, the section of lip that is now missing from your face. Let me go and see what this is. Relentless Rage.

ORION: For Philip! No, it's Grog now. I'm not there; I'm arrested.

MATT: All right, make a constitution saving throw right now.

TRAVIS: 21.

MATT: 21. You instead drop to one hit point.

TRAVIS: One hit point.

MATT: All of a sudden, the rage pulls you through, and your whole body (whipping noise) snaps up into place again, and you can see Kern before you has this grin on his face that he's just watched victory come to him, and then it's torn away. His eyes open and that half-orcish rage suddenly fades for a second as you see, for the first time, deep fear take the heart of your combatant. Take your turn.

TRAVIS: I look at my arms, I look at him, I spit blood into the sand, and I say, well, well. Where have I seen this happen before? Time's up. And I run forward and in a massive arcing uppercut, I drive my fist under his jaw with everything I have.

MATT: Go ahead and roll for damage.

TRAVIS: Oh, damage?

MATT: Roll for attack.

TRAVIS: Okay. Oh, shit. 18?

MATT: 18? As you rush forward he, through the fear, still brings his hand up and slaps the first hit out of the way. Second attack.

TRAVIS: I look down and I say, (sighs) Very well, respect. And I take my elbow and drive it into his temple.

MATT: Roll for second attack.

TRAVIS: 15.

MATT: 15. The second one, brings back and parries it to the side. (heavy breathing)

LAURA: I lift up my shirt and I say, I love you, Grog!

SAM: Oh my god, it's her tits! It's her tits!

MATT: Through the fury of your rage–

SAM: She just showed her tits. That's inspiring!

MATT: In this moment, if that were to distract Grog, I'm afraid Grog would drop his rage.

TRAVIS: (laughing) Don't, no.

LAURA: Never mind! I put my shirt back on.

MATT: However, the entire other side of the Crucible right now is going (gasps, cheers) they all burst into cheers. Vax, by the way, is standing behind you and going, “Sister!” and is pulling your shirt down for you, and is desperately trying–

LAURA: 600 gold!

TRAVIS: I've missed the uppercut.

MATT: Missed the elbow.

TRAVIS: Missed the elbow.

SAM: Can I sing from the audience?

MATT: At this, not right now.

SAM: It's all this roll.

MATT: It's the middle of his turn.

TRAVIS: I take both of my fists up over my head, and I just bring it down.

MATT: All right. Roll for it.

TRAVIS: 13.

MATT: 13. Kern simply slaps it out of your way, and you can see the fear begin to fade, and for a second, looks at you and sees, truly, how close on the edge you are. “Oh, you've proven yourself this day, but there is only one champion of the Crucible.” You're up, Scanlan.

SAM: Yeah, so I was going sing to him to inspire. I guess I can still try.

MATT: Yeah, go for it, what do you want to sing?

SAM: I sing, (singing) with your arms, and your fists, and your legs, and your wrists, it's in your head–

ALL: (singing) In your head, you are fighting.

SAM: That's all I got.

MATT: d10 inspiration die to you, Grog, in this pinnacle moment, so hold on to that d10.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: All right. Kern, now intensely scared, is using his action to go into his dodge maneuver. He's on the edge. You can see, one eye is swollen shut and he (deep breath) goes into the stance to defend himself. However, as his bonus action, all of a sudden takes two steps forward and almost Bruce Lee one-inch (whipping noise) punches to your torso. That is nine plus eight. 17.

TRAVIS: Misses.

MATT: Misses. Goes to punch; however, the short distance, while the speed is extreme, misjudged the distance and it stops an inch before your chest. You look down, and it's barely stopping before it finds your chest. Looks up at you. “Come at me.”

MARISHA: He just come-at-me-bro'd you!

SAM: Is he in defense now?

MATT: He's in dodge mode, yeah.

SAM: He's in dodge, so it's at disadvantage?

MATT: So all of your attacks are at disadvantage.

TRAVIS: I want to leap at him and try and grab him around the waist.

LAURA: Oh my god. Just hit him.

MARISHA: Take him down!

TRAVIS: I get three– no.

SAM: Just hit him!

MATT: Do what you want, Grog. Do what you want. What are you doing?

TRAVIS: All right, fine, fuck it. With desperation that this might fall away, I throw my goliath fist at him.

MATT: All right, so first punch (grunts), with disadvantage.

TRAVIS: 19. Nine. 17.

ORION: Plus ten!

TRAVIS: 22!

MATT: 22! (whoosh) Roll damage.

TRAVIS: Eight!

MATT: How do you want to do this?

(cheering)

MATT: (laughs) RIP ears, everyone. Clutch Scanlan inspiration. Grog, how do you want to do this?

TRAVIS: (chuckles) As the fist connects and he starts to wobble, I reach over. I stand above him and grab around his waist with his back facing towards me. I lift him up over my head so that his head gets to come up and look at the crowd one last time before sending him straight back onto his shoulder blades and neck and smashing him into the earth!

MATT: (smash) With a resounding slam, Kern's body impacts into the stone floor of the Crucible, a cloud of dirt and dust (whoosh) around. Rocks break off and tumble down the side of the walls of the Crucible as the crowd has to stop themselves from falling in from the sheer impact of the tremor that you've left slamming Kern. You can see everyone fall silent; the crowd's cheers all come to a sudden halt. The dust settles. You can see nothing at the base of the Crucible. As the cloud slowly comes to rest, you see there, broken and laid out on the ground is an unconscious, bloodied, and ruined Kern, as Grog steps forward, head hunched beneath his billowing shoulders, fists clenched in anger, victorious in the center of the Crucible.

TRAVIS: I put my foot on his chest and do my best King Kong. (yells)

MATT: At which point, the crowd raises into shouting cheers, claps–

LAURA: Did I show my boobs?!

SAM: No.

TALIESIN: None of us remember that. At all.

MATT: The bookie screams out, “We have now a new champion of the Crucible! Not Philip, but Grog, the Victorious!” Cheers and shouts, and you hear loud boos, even curses shouted. You see people shouting off, throwing empty coin purses off to the side, different language– it's a whole cacophony of cheers and curses, and then all of them fall suddenly quiet. The whole crowd turns over to the edge of the Crucible. You see standing over– let me bring this down here for a moment of tension– standing over to the edge, a hood is thrown back on a figure that's been watching the entire fight. You notice this figure, as the hood is thrown back: an older human man in his mid- to late-sixties with tough reddish tanned skin. Short, but stocky. Receding gray hairline with a long, coarse gray beard that tumbles to his belt line. He wears what looks like ceremonial robes of red and gold, simple wooden sandals, and a dark brown necklace of large, two-inch round beads that adorn the shoulders and neck area. His body is stout and ripped as muscle, trained over a lifetime of martial prowess and careful honing. His arms are crossed as he looks down at the Crucible, down at you, Grog. Gives a nod and a smile. Turns around and walks away from the crowd, quietly, as everyone silently takes in this momentary experience. A few seconds pass, and then the crowd continues cheering once again.

(cheering)

MATT: The clerics now come climbing down to the center of the Crucible to retrieve the unconscious and bleeding-out body of Kern, administering Heals immediately to make sure he doesn't actually slip away from everyone.

TRAVIS: I run over and grab my lip and pick it up and go, just between you and me, is there anything we can do with this?

(laughter)

MATT: One of the clerics looks up for a second. “Hold it there for a moment.” And reaches out and administers a 5th-level Cure Wounds. He's making a medicine check to see how– well, that's a 16. You go ahead and heal– that's shitty rolls– ten. I should've just rolled that one there. You heal 22 hit points, but you feel your lip fuse, and while it might leave a very small scar, it is in one piece. You might want to be careful about spitting or anything too heavy with it for the next few days for fear of jettisoning it from the front of your face accidentally.

TRAVIS: Right, or growing a beard on it– oh, that's already on my chin.

TALIESIN: If you grow enough beard, you can knit it together to hold it in place.

TRAVIS: I'm actually sweating.

LAURA: Yeah. I am, too.

MATT: You make your way up the rope ladder to the top of the Crucible as the crowd– some folks come up and cheer and grab your hand and shake it. “Thank you. I believed you'd do this. Kern's been sent in there too long. It's about time he got taken down.” (laughs) And he gets pushed out of the way by another person, a young guy, 16: scrawny but excited, “You're my new hero. Oh my god. Oh, Grog. Where did you learn to train? Can I train with you?”

TRAVIS: Grog's not here right now. This is Philip. If you'd like to leave a message, come back another time. Got to go, bye! And I walk away. I find Scanlan in the crowd, and I reach out and shake his hand.

SAM: Ow!

TRAVIS: Sorry, little bit of ongoing rage.

TALIESIN: Scanlan, are you all right? You look a little poorer, somehow. Have you lost money? You look like you've lost money. Especially in the face.

SAM: Well, it was worth it.

TRAVIS: I heard your voices cutting through the crowd. Where are Tiberius and Keyleth?

ORION: Grog, we got arrested while you were fighting, just so you know.

MATT: You guys, by the way, right now are currently brought to a small holding facility not far from the Crucible, where you've been set down on a bench, both manacled and left while the one Bastion that originally found you is currently keeping watch.

TRAVIS: Outside?

MATT: Out of vision of you guys. You don't see; they're just missing.

SAM: Grog, before we go deal with our friends, if I may: That man fought a brave fight. I feel you should go make amends with him, it was a respectable battle. You won't feel good about yourself unless you do.

MATT: At which point, the bookie hands a sack of gold right into your hand. “Well fought, new champion!” And hands it to you.

TRAVIS: Fuck that shit. (laughs) I was about to, but chaotic neutral, sorry!

(laughter)

ORION: Never mind.

TRAVIS: I was ready.

TALIESIN: And that, kids, is chaotic neutral.

MATT: At three to one odds, that sack of gold you get back contains 5,452 gold pieces.

LAURA: You know what's so great about that, Grog? You said you were going to pay back the gold you lost me in the first fight.

TRAVIS: I did. And I pay it back happily as I look at her dragon eyes of money hoarding.

MATT: Okay. You go ahead and work out that payback to her.

LAURA: All right!

ORION: I'm going to use the earring real quick again. Whenever you're free, Grog.

TRAVIS: And handing money to Vex has sobered me up a little bit. I do walk over to Kern the Hammer and extend a hand and say, well fought, brother.

MATT: His arms are currently draped over two of the clerics that have pulled him out of the Crucible, face broken, blood streaked down one side of his face. Is stepping with one foot, dragging the toes of the other. (grunts) Is brought to turn around to face you by the two clerics and looks at you as you extend your hand. Looks over at you. One eye swollen shut, the other glaring at you, bloodshot and angry. You see the teeth are gritted and grinding beneath his still-busted, missing upper lip. (snarls, laughs) “Well fought, goliath.” And he (groans) brings one hand around one of the clerics and takes you in a Beastmaster–

TRAVIS: Yes! Strength and honor!

MATT: However, there is no strength left. It's barely there. He takes his hand back and it hangs loosely to one side, and he looks at you and says, “I'm proud to have finally found my match. When I recover, I'm going to find you, and I'm going to want that championship back!”

TRAVIS: When the time comes for a rematch, I'll be here.

MATT: “Good. Where can I find you, Grog?”

TRAVIS: (quietly) Oh shit.

SAM: Yeah, yeah. Just tell him.

TRAVIS: If I'm not here at the Crucible, because I don't think you need an audience for glory, you can always find me in Emon at Castle Greyskull.

LAURA: Greyskull Keep!

TRAVIS: Greyskull Keep!

SAM: It's a real place.

LAURA: Good luck with your dick, by the way. Sorry about that.

MATT: He looks over at you, (groans) and you see for a minute he had forgotten about that in this exchange of honor, and some of the pain resurges, and (moans) starts whimpering, (coughs up spit) spits off to the side this giant bloody loogie that slaps on one of the sides of the cleric who's like, “Ugh!” Starts wiping it from the outside of his tunic. Looks back at you. “Greyskull. So be it. Ow.” And hobbles away through a series of painful whimpers and whines. Percy, the bookie collects you. You bet 500 at a three to one; that is four times return. You make 2,000 gold.

TALIESIN: Beautiful!

MARISHA: I've made 20 gold.

MATT: You haven't made anything yet. You're arrested.

MARISHA: I'm arrested.

MATT: 2,400 to you, Vex.

LAURA: Fuck yeah!

SAM: I'm here to collect my winnings, please.

MATT: The Bastion laughs. “Then you would owe me 300 gold.”

SAM: No, I bet on Grog, if you remember correctly.

MATT: “No, I have it here in my ledger that you bet against your friend Grog.”

LAURA: Oh, he would never do that. I believe you are mistaken, actually.

SAM: There must be a typo. I bet on Grog. Don't you remember?

MATT: Are you casting something?

SAM: Nope, I'm just doing this.

MATT: Go ahead and make a deception roll.

LAURA: Can I back him up?

SAM: Nope.

MATT: What did you roll?

SAM: Two. Well, wait. What is this, deception or persuasion? What is this?

LAURA: Deception. Oh, that's so high!

MATT: Deception.

SAM: Yeah, it's 15. No, it's not good, no.

MATT: He gives you a look and goes, “No, you did not.”

SAM: I've got to work on this.

MATT: And he whips around and takes his cloak around, dismissing you, taking you out of the conversation, and walks back towards the Bellows' Respite Inn.

ORION: Can I now use the damn earring? Okay. Grog, (stutters) could you use your clout to get us out of holding?

TRAVIS: What? You're in holding? Yeah, I'm sure. I'm a pretty big deal.

LAURA: What's going on? You were arrested? Why?

ORION: Because Keyleth tried to do something, and I tried to talk her out of it and it didn't work out, and we're now in holding. It's fine.

MARISHA: Oh, bullshit, you tried to talk me out of it.

LAURA: You tried to talk out what?

ORION: I mean, I tried to help her out.

TRAVIS: Tiberius, what can you see around you?

ORION: A guard looking at me.

LAURA: Can I track them?

MATT: Make a survival check.

TALIESIN: If someone were to be an idiot, where would you take them to hold them?

LAURA: 16.

MATT: Because you know their tracks, their footprints– I would put it at a disadvantage, but that would cancel it out. At a 16, you look around. You can see there is a track of two people with their feet being dragged behind two heavy footprints by heavily armored individuals that lead. There are three buildings off to the side and there is what looks to be a small station for holding, a general Bastion satellite station within this portion of the Braving Grounds.

LAURA: Can we go over and knock?

MATT: You knock. A few seconds pass and the door slides open a little bit, and from the inside, you can see a partially scarred on one cheek, late thirties, early forties gentleman who looks square-jawed and definitely trained in some semblance of looking gruff and angry and says, “Can I help you?”

LAURA: Hi, yes. I'm looking for– (sighs) I'm looking for a couple of people. They're actually mental patients, and they've gotten loose.

ORION: Vex! Here we are!

LAURA: Oh! That's them, I'm afraid.

MATT: “These two cheaters over here? These are the ones you're looking for?”

LAURA: Cheaters? Well, that makes sense. They don't understand normal social rules.

ORION: I'm from Draconia!

MARISHA: And I'm also… not from here.

LAURA: You see what I'm talking about?

MATT: Go ahead and make a deception check.

ORION: Just say where you're from. That's easy.

MARISHA: Zephrah. But they don't know what that means.

ORION: I'm sure they don't know what Draconia is, but I like to spread the word.

LAURA: 24.

MATT: 24. Okay. He gives you a look and says, “Well, look. We have reason to believe they may have been trying to fix and/or rig the bets on the recent bout out here in the Crucible. That is a very serious offense here in the Braving Grounds.”

LAURA: I can imagine it would be, yes.

MATT: “However, I don't want to deal with the processing and the time it takes, so if these are indeed your charges and you're willing to fill out some paperwork and pay the fines right now, we'll relinquish them to you.”

SAM: Well, what's the fine? How much was the fine?

MATT: Who are you?

LAURA: Oh, he's my lawyer.

SAM: I'm Burt Reynolds, esquire. I'm an attorney at large. I represent all manner of escaped mental patients. (laughs)

MATT: Make a deception check.

TRAVIS: The mustache is up.

SAM: 20.

MATT: “Very well, small Reynolds, sir.”

SAM: If you would like us to fill out the paperwork. I have about two reams of paperwork for you to fill out, to release them to us, as well. And also there will be court costs involved, oh boy, in triplicate. You'll have to get your supervisor to fill out this one, and I will need this one, and I will need this one, as well–

MATT: “500 gold's fine, and we'll release them to you. All right? Is that fine?”

SAM: Oh, 500 gold. That's fine. And they'll still get to collect their winnings from the pit?

MATT: “I don't care what they're going to do, just take them from me!”

SAM: Great, thank you sir. You know what, I can make this paperwork disappear. This is fine.

LAURA: Actually, for a small– never mind.

TALIESIN: Just let it go.

LAURA: I noped myself on that one. Here you are, 500 gold.

MATT: He collects it and ushers over the other Bastion, who comes over and takes off your manacles and escorts you to the door and says, “However, if I see either of you two causing any trouble anywhere in Vasselheim, it's down to the oubliette you go, you hear me?”

SAM: Say that word again? What? Oubliette?

MATT: “The Amaranthine oub-lie-blah-bloo. What is wrong with me? Get out of here! Run!”

(laughter)

SAM: You've been bested. (laughs)

MATT: You've out-talked the talker as the guard finds himself so flustered by the frustration and anger that he's been caused by this entire strange arrival of individuals, his speech pattern has been muddled, and in frustration shoves both of you out the front door and slams it behind you.

ORION: As I leave, he's speaking Draconian!

SAM: I think he's having an aneurysm.

ORION: He's speaking Draconian! I heard him.

LAURA: You guys! What were you trying to do? Cast magic?

ORION: She casted heal and I tried to talk her out of it, and I just got arrested, too.

SAM: Thank goodness you are being represented by an Ace Attorney.

ORION: Hold it!

LAURA: He won! Let's go get your winnings, because I think that should cover the amount I just spent on getting you out of jail.

MARISHA: Yes! I'm owed 20 gold!

TRAVIS: Tiberius, thank you for your efforts. You, as well, Keyleth.

MARISHA: Oh, I'm so happy you won, Grog.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

MARISHA: So happy.

TRAVIS: I'm the champion.

MARISHA: I wish I could've seen, because I was eating my binder out of stress.

MATT: As you guys make your way back to the Bellows' Respite Inn, you manage to find the one Bastion who acts as the bookie, who is currently halfway through a very heavy pint and chatting with one of his friends, and you can hear there are stories now. People are retelling the tale of the battle in the Cauldron of the rise of Grog the Victorious.

ORION: When we're released, I would like to get my winnings back.

MATT: That's where you guys are going: to the bookie who keeps them.

TRAVIS: Are we in the tavern?

MARISHA: Hey, Grog! They're talking about you.

MATT: You guys are now in the Bellows' Respite, yes.

TRAVIS: Are there any small lads running about or maybe excited to see me or something?

MATT: As you guys enter the tavern, there is a sudden bit of whispered quiet. “Shh! There he is!” And all the tales fall to an end and the place falls quiet as everyone stares at you as you enter. (heavy footstep sounds) Stepping in.

TRAVIS: Are there any younger men that are–

MATT: (shushing noises) There are maybe two men looking like late teens to early twenties who saw the fight and are currently like wide doe-eyed, seeing a hero before them.

TRAVIS: I walk over to one of them and I pull out a gold coin and I say, how would you like to make a gold coin, son?

TALIESIN: Oh boy.

TRAVIS: Wait!

MATT: “From you, Grog the Victorious? Of course! What can I do?”

TRAVIS: I reach into the Bag of Holding. I take out the second-place medal, the participant medal, and I go, make sure Kern gets this.

(laughter)

MATT: He reads it. (chuckles) “Yes. Yes, indeed. Of course.” And he runs off.

TRAVIS: You sick fucks!

(laughter)

SAM: Well, I mean, come on. You came into a bar looking for young boys. What was I supposed to think?

MARISHA: We're together now. We're not arrested anymore. You don't have to keep doing this. All right! To Grog the Victorious!

ALL: To Grog!

MATT: The bookie gives you your coin purse of 20 gold.

MARISHA: You guys, this really makes gambling so much fun.

SAM: Don't make a habit of it.

MATT: Tiberius, you get your coin purse of 2,448.

ORION: Great, wonderful.

TALIESIN: But you owe–

ORION: No, she's paying for that.

LAURA and TALIESIN: She's got 20 gold.

ORION: She had other gold.

MARISHA: I bought a nice meal for you the other night.

LAURA: That's true. She bought a couple of nice meals for you.

ORION: Oh, shit! That's right. I'll pay you.

SAM: I lost 100 gold.

ORION: What was it? 24?

MATT: 2,448 was the number.

LAURA: So I guess I broke even.

TALIESIN: You still netted a profit.

MATT: If you want to take the 500 from that, (mutters quietly) minus 500… 1,948.

SAM: That fight was amazing.

MARISHA: That was fantastic.

MATT: I was going to say, as you guys celebrate with a joyous drink of ale here at the Bellows' Respite Inn to celebrate the victory of not Philip, but Grog the Victorious in the Cauldron here in the Braving Grounds of Vasselheim in the northwestern region of the countryside, we will go and take a quick restroom break, return here in about five minutes. See you guys here shortly.

TRAVIS: Yeah!

Break[]

[break]

Part II[]

MATT: Welcome back, guys. Welcome back! We are returning as the party has finished their celebration, drinking hard through the afternoon, celebrating Grog's victory at the Crucible.

LIAM: Was that amazing, or was that amazing? I've never seen anything like that, at all! Cheers to you, big man.

TRAVIS: Thanks, bud.

SAM: L'chaim!

MARISHA and LAURA: Cheers!

ORION: I raise my glass of water and cheers, as well.

TRAVIS: Thank you, Tiberius.

MATT: Y'all enjoy our applesauce.

TRAVIS: Or glass of water.

MATT: Apple juice.

LAURA: Good apple juice.

MATT: Very good apple juice.

TALIESIN: Be gentle with that. Apples don't grow on trees.

LIAM: This episode of Critical Role brought to you by Mott's!

MATT: Mott's Irish apple juice. All right! With that bit of business with the Crucible currently taken care of, the rest of your path is your own. What do you wish to do?

LAURA: (stuttering) Money? Kraghammer?

TALIESIN: Emon by way of Kraghammer.

MARISHA: Is there anything else we want to do while we're here?

ORION: No!

MARISHA: Are we over this town? Over this city?

TALIESIN: I just need to pick up a little bit of ore on the way out so I can work on making some more ammunition on the way to Kraghammer.

ORION: I like that idea. We could take the airship and you could craft some things. When we do go, I think I might have an idea for our carpet situation.

SAM: Oh?!

MARISHA: Really?

SAM: Your Wheel of Mending, perhaps?

ORION: No, that didn't work.

LIAM: We tried that. It didn't work.

ORION: It kept it intact. But when we return to House Thunderbrand, I believe we have a few items that they want. The deal was when we procure certain items, we will be allowed to have certain information and certain– we didn't explain what we were going to get. But we should return, get our gold, and definitely visit House Thunderbrand.

LAURA: Right. 'Cause they have magic things.

ORION: They are strongly arcane. Perhaps they can enchant for what we have procured for them in that venture. And maybe that could be a good way of getting around getting our carpet re-enchanted without costing any coin.

TALIESIN: We'll prod that.

LIAM: Can they make me unsee my sister's boobies?

LAURA: You didn't see them! You were behind me, so shut up. What are you doing all the way over there, anyway?

SAM: I saw them. I saw them!

ORION: Scanlan? When you describe them to me?

SAM: I will draw them in great detail.

ORION: Thank you.

MARISHA: I wasn't there, either!

LAURA: How about no?

TALIESIN: In great details of the internet. Just saying. I went there. It was already there.

LAURA: I was caught up in a moment of passion! I'm sorry!

TALIESIN: Too late!

SAM: She would do anything for you, Grog!

LAURA: Anything for you and for the 600 gold that I put on your fight.

SAM: Oh, it was for the money!

LIAM: Listen, I was right there. There was no other way around that situation.

TALIESIN: You did what you had to.

SAM: Listen. I would show any part of me for, like, two gold.

TRAVIS: Here's two gold.

SAM: Here, take a look at my third nipple!

LAURA: On your body?

SAM: It can be wherever I put it, really. It's magical.

ORION: It's a piece of gum!

LIAM: I have no idea what's going on.

SAM: We're all together. That's what's going on.

MARISHA: I love this tavern.

ORION: What is closer to Kraghammer? Emon? Or where we're from?

TALIESIN: It's halfway. I think Kraghammer is in between us and Emon.

MATT: No. Actually, from where you guys are currently, across the Ozmit Sea is Emon, which is the port city in Tal'Dorei, and then Kraghammer is maybe two days' travel.

LAURA: So we gotta stop into Emon first.

ORION: Oh, that's fine. Are we all ready to go?

MARISHA: What time is it?

MATT: By now, I'd say it's probably 1:00 in the afternoon, since that fight's happened.

MARISHA: Y'all, we're day drunk!

ORION: Are we ready to go?

TRAVIS: We're getting ore, right?

MARISHA: We're celebrating Grog, right?

TRAVIS: Doesn't Percy want ore?

TALIESIN: It's not hard to get a little bit of ore. I'm just going to pick up some.

ORION: After that, are we ready to go?

SAM: Well, maybe. There's two more things that I have unanswered questions for. First of all, you said we were going to stop on the way to get a new carpet or to get our carpet repaired?

ORION: We need to go to Kraghammer to collect our 30,000 gold waiting for us.

LAURA: 25,000.

ORION: 25,000, sorry. While we're there, House Thunderbrand. We've procured a few items, or at least one, while we were down in the Underdark. We should return there and talk to them and perhaps in exchange for gold, perhaps have them enchant the carpet to fly again.

SAM: That is a smart idea. That's great. Before we leave though, does anyone have a nagging, tugging feeling about that cloaked human who praised your performance? Should we investigate that at all?

TRAVIS: He had a lovely beard!

SAM: Well, that makes something. Could we at least find out who he was before we leave town?

LAURA: Oh, bartender!

MATT: At which point, you see off to the side Once-Lucky Ned, the barkeep, looks over. “Yes, yes? You have a question?”

LAURA: Yes. That bearded, hooded gentleman at the end of the fight, yeah?

MATT: Thinks for a second. “Oh, you mean–”

LAURA: The one that everyone was quiet for.

MARISHA: The red and gold robes.

LAURA: What? Who? Who is he?

MATT: “You're certainly not from around here, are you?”

LAURA: I'm not.

MATT: Looks around. “That was Earthbreaker Groon.”

SAM: Earthbaker Groon?

MATT: “Earthbreaker Groon.”

ALL: Earthbreaker Groon.

TRAVIS: That's a great name!

ORION: Where does he hail from?

MATT: “He's the Dawn Marshal of the entirety of these here Braving Grounds.”

MARISHA: Dawn Marshal?

MATT: “He's the Dawn Marshal. He is the highest esteemed cleric of the church of Kord, the Trial Forge itself, in the center of this city, this portion, this district. Well, he is the very top of the entire hierarchy underneath Kord's strength and watch.”

LAURA: And he nodded!

MATT: “Apparently, he was summoned to watch this fight and approved of your prowess in battle.”

LAURA: What does that mean?

MATT: “I have no fucking clue!”

(laughter)

MATT: “But that's an honor is what that is, and appreciate that yourself.”

TRAVIS: Aye, and I do. If I wanted to find this Earthbreaker Groom–

MATT: “Groon. With an N.”

TRAVIS: Oh. Groon. Right. The other one's weird. Would I find him in the middle of the Trial Forge?

MATT: “Most likely.”

MARISHA: So this guy's like the Pope of Kord?

MATT: “Pope?”

ORION: What is a Pope? It's okay. She's young. Thank you for the information.

MARISHA: I'm foreign!

ORION: And foreign. Have a good day.

MATT: “Thank you.”

TALIESIN: And has antlers on her head.

ORION: I think we should all leave.

MARISHA: I like my antlers.

TALIESIN: I like your antlers.

MARISHA: What's wrong with my antlers?

TALIESIN: There's nothing. It's just a very reasonable reason not to take you too seriously.

ORION: Scanlan?

SAM: Yes? Yes, Tiberius, my good friend?

ORION: Are you satisfied in your knowledge you've procured?

SAM: I'm always satisfied.

(laughter)

ORION: Wonderful!

TRAVIS: Too easy. Too easy!

ORION: Grog, I'm sure you would like to… go to a pub of sorts?

LAURA and MARISHA: We're in a pub!

ORION: Oh, fuck!

MARISHA: We're day drunk!

SAM: That's how drunk we are!

ORION: Shit!

TALIESIN: I have a brilliant, if slightly inebriated, thought.

ORION: I walk out of the bar.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: I have an even better brilliant, yet slightly inebriated thought.

SAM: Oh, I think I saw Tiberius fall over.

MARISHA: Oh, is Tiberius puking? Oh…

LAURA: What is it, Percy?

TALIESIN: My thought is I can probably find some of the ore I need to procure at the same time that we find this Groon fellow, and at the very least, you can strike up a quick conversation with him.

LAURA: Would you like me to go with you, Grog, as your manager?

TRAVIS: I would actually like both the twins to go with.

SAM: Grog, would you like any young boys to accompany you?

(laughter)

TALIESIN: You can give them a medal!

TRAVIS: No.

ORION: I went back into the bar because I went to take a piss outside.

LAURA: Let's go!

MARISHA: Wait, where're we going?

ORION: What is going on?

LAURA: You guys are recovering from your drink.

ORION: Hold on a second.

MARISHA: No!

ORION: I've had plenty of water.

TALIESIN: You're already been arrested today.

ORION: I'm fine! (slurred) Scanlan has been ordering me water for the whole time has been cleared.

MARISHA: That's right! I have already been arrested today, but I did get better.

MATT: All right, so you guys are going with Percy to procure materials for forging new ammunition?

TALIESIN: Yes.

MATT: All right, go ahead and make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: What happened to my dice? Okay. 14.

MATT: 14, okay. It takes you roughly 30 minutes or so. Thankfully, this region itself contains… honestly, most of the smithing-based materials and/or workshops they required. The difficult part is finding black powder. It is not refined in this region. It's usually considered almost a byproduct of some of the mining and smelting, and it's very rare to find. Eventually, you find one smithy that gathers it. You're not entirely certain why. And after you give people a couple of examples of the smell of it and what to look for, people send you in this one direction. And you're sent to this one small hovel that is attached to the very base of the mountain that overlooks the entirety of the city, on the far northwestern edge of the Braving Grounds. You come to the door, and it's a very simple, slovenly-kept house. The wood itself is a little warped from the weather; it hasn't kept well, and there's a musty smell of mildew from the outside of the building. But you see a slight glow between the cracks. Apparently, there is some sort of interior light.

TALIESIN: Hello?

MATT: “Yes?”

TALIESIN: Charming. My name is Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski De Rolo III.

SAM: Huzzah!

TALIESIN: Thank you. I was sent here in terms to hopefully negotiate the purchase of some black powder? I heard–

MATT: The door slams open at this point, mid-sentence, and you see from around the corner a very lithe, crooked-looking man. Quite elderly, but very spry for his size. You see his arms and legs are very lanky and almost spider-like in the way they move and shift as he peeks out. And you can see he has spectacles of two different sizes and thicknesses around each eye. His hair is frazzled and gray and white, and he goes, “Yes?! You said you need black powder? Yes, yes, come in, come in!” And he runs back into the hovel.

TALIESIN: I gingerly enter.

MATT: As you step inside, the scent hits you immediately, and you realize this place is probably filled with black powder. And the last thing anyone wants is to set off any sort of flame. This would be a very bad idea. And as you look around, your eyes adjust to the low-lit interior. You realize it's low-lit because there are two very, very faintly set magical torch sconces on each side that are very, very low light.

LAURA: Very similar to the ones surrounding you.

MATT: Kind of like these, but even smaller! And you can see in the room, there is a small forge that's in disuse to the far end.

TALIESIN: I would hope so!

MATT: There are a large, large, large number of crates and barrels that all seem to be containing various parts of discarded gravel. Basically, whatever is shoved off of any mining expedition goes to him and he just shuffles through it and separates in different pieces. And there's barrels full of sulfur, barrels full of what looks like broken onyx or broken quartz, and they've all been separated. And you can see now this is his OCD collection. And there is, indeed, at the far end what looks to be a barrel that contains a large amount of black powder that is just everywhere. It's like this very fine coat of powder that is encompassing this entire room. And as he turns around, you can see now his hands themselves are black and coated in it. And he goes, “So! You came looking for black powder, did you? No one asks about the black powder, but I knew it had a purpose! Yes! You wish to buy it?! How much do you want?”

(giggling)

MATT: (pants heavily) “Speak up! Speak up, I haven't all day!”

TALIESIN: How much for a barrel or a hogshead's worth?

MATT: “For the barrel? The barrel, that'll run you… (mutters) 4,623 gold pieces for the barrel. However, for the hogshead–” You can see now the spittle dribbling down his chin.

TALIESIN: I can! It's as if I can see the spittle myself!

MATT: Yes, indeed! “But! For the hogshead, which– ooh!” And he turns around and shuffles through a bunch of pieces of burlap and sacks and pulls out what looks to be an actual dried and hollowed-out hog's head. “To fill this? To fill this hog's head with it? This'll only cost you 426 gold pieces. "Yes?”

TALIESIN: How about 400 even, and you can direct me to some ore, as well?

MATT: “Ore? I do not work in ore.”

TALIESIN: I thought you might have a friend.

MATT: Make a persuasion roll.

TRAVIS: Nice, Percy.

LIAM: Look at that, he slipped right into Mercer there.

SAM: No, that's the other character.

TALIESIN: I love Percy. 25.

MATT: 25.

TALIESIN: I'm sure you have a friend. You must. You seem so amiable.

MATT: “400! 400 and I send you to Samson! Yes? You take?”

TALIESIN: My good sir, you have a deal!

MATT: “Glorious!” He turns around and jams the hog head into the barrel of black powder, picks it up. (poof) The soot settles against you and the rest of you guys as you now find yourself partially covered in this slowly dissipating cloud of black powder. (coughs) You cough instinctively and push it away. “Yes. 400 gold. You pay?”

TALIESIN: I gingerly put the purse down in front of me.

MATT: He takes it. With a whisk, it's already put away into a side pouch, and you hear the clanging of haphazard coins in his far pocket. “Here! Hog head! Take it! (grunts) To Samson! This way!” And he grabs your arm and drags you out of his hovel. He points across the way with his shaking, crooked finger. “Samson! There! In the brick building! Tell him Victor sent you. He'll give you ore!”

TALIESIN: Thank you for all of your help. You've been so kind.

MATT: “My pleasure. You want more powder, come back. Yes, yes?!”

TALIESIN: I might do that.

MATT: “Good! Goodbye!” And pushes you out, takes both of you by the arms and pushes you out, slams the door behind, and you are left standing there, half-covered in blackened soot and black powder, in the center of the thoroughfare, midday, stunned by the whole encounter.

TRAVIS: I mean, come on, come the fuck on!

SAM: Amazing. Matt's crazy prospector character.

TALIESIN: I'm going to walk over to Samson's place and become very excited at the prospect of a new accent.

LIAM: 6.2, 6.4, 6.5.

TALIESIN: 4.3 from the Russian judge.

MATT: Yeah, you walk to the distant brick building. The bricks themselves are made of a hardened, grayish clay material that's been made in the basic construction of this. The roof itself is a solid slab of stone. There is no pretty or elegant aspect of its construction. It's merely built here for purpose. The door is partially ajar, and as you peek in you can see there is a very active forge. There is a heat emanating from the interior, and you can see there is a man who is currently hammering something away at what looks like an anvil set outside in front of it. (metal clanging) “Yes?”

TALIESIN: Mr. Samson?

MATT: “Yes?”

TALIESIN: The strange fellow down the road sent me to you. He said you might have some ore?

MATT: (heavy sigh) The head sinks into the shoulders with a sigh. “All right. If you dealt with that crazy old coot, at the very least I can offer you a brief conversation. Hold on just a second!” (grunts) And you see he takes this visor off the front of his face and sets it down and removes these big leather gloves and this leather apron of sorts and puts it to the side, and he wipes his brow as he steps over. And you can see him now. He's a man in his late twenties. Muscle-bound, a little thick around the waist, barrel-chested. A little bit of scruff on his chin, but nothing beyond not having time for upkeep and focused on his work. He steps up. “So what did the old coot tell you, anyway?”

TALIESIN: He said you might have some raw ore for sale that I might purchase. You'll excuse me if I don't come in; I'm covered in explosive powder.

MATT: “No, please. Stay there. For the love of Kord, stay on that doorstep. Do not step into my abode, please.”

TALIESIN: Of course.

MATT: “Please.”

TALIESIN: No. Yes.

MATT: “Please. All right. What ore are you interested in?”

TALIESIN: Just some iron ore. Actually, I have a little invention which sends projectiles at great speed.

MATT: “That sounds fascinating. I have ore for sale. Raw ore– would you like ingots? I prepare ingots. They're a little more expensive, but they're proper and ready for any sort of use as blacksmithing materials.”

TALIESIN: Ingots would be preferable, yes.

MATT: “All right, how many are you looking for? Five, ten, 20?”

TALIESIN: What could you give me for approximately a thousand gold's worth?

MATT: He gives you an arched eyebrow in surprise. “I mean, I only have about 200 pounds of iron ingots at the ready.”

TALIESIN: I certainly can't carry that much with me right now. Let's say about a hundred pounds' worth?

MATT: “A hundred pounds of iron ingots. I could sell it to you. Let's set the price at about 400 gold pieces.”

LAURA: Ugh, haggle him down. I'm not there.

LIAM: But in the back of his head, he hears your voice. We all do, at this point.

TALIESIN: Let's say 350 gold, and I promise to always shower twice before entering your home for my next purchase.

MATT: Make a persuasion roll.

TALIESIN: All right.

SAM: Pointless haggle. I love it. Best part of the show.

MARISHA: I wish I were Percy.

TALIESIN: 24.

MATT: 24? He goes, “You drive a hard bargain. However, underneath all that soot, I can see you dress well, at the very least. A bit tattered around the edges… I'd like future business, so 350 and take the ingots, and please do shower next time.”

TALIESIN: Of course. You are a gentleman, and apparently a worthy smith, as well. I do bid you good day, then.

MATT: “I've already completed the transaction. Flattery is not required.” He reaches over and settles into a large, triple-bagged sack of ingots. He gets partway through and goes, “Nah, this is cart-worthy.” He sets it up on a small cart and brings it over to you. And it's a small, wheeled wooden cart. It looks really rickety and probably about to collapse, but he does not charge you for it. It can be hand-carried if need be.

TALIESIN: Good man, I will see you when my need arises again.

MATT: “I look forward to it. Remember: bathed!”

TALIESIN: Very bathed. In fact, quite bathed.

MATT: “Seriously. Bathed. Please. All right, we're good. Thank you.” And he closes the door. All right. You guys?

TRAVIS: We're going to see Earthbreaker…

SAM and LAURA: Earthbreaker Groon!

MATT: All right. Make your way to the outskirts of the Trial Forge.

ORION: We know who he is. Do we need to pursue this guy?

LAURA: Just to talk to him, because he likes Grog.

MARISHA: I mean, we can stay and keep getting day-drunk.

SAM: Why don't you just go get arrested again?

MARISHA: Hey, that hurts, Scanlan.

TALIESIN: I'm going to come back and join you.

ORION: I'm going to do a daily roll for my pet because I'm going to try to teach a trick, and I rolled a 15.

MATT: Okay. Trying to teach it a trick?

ORION: Yeah. At the end of the– does it just build up points today and then try…

MATT: What kind of trick are you teaching?

ORION: To scout!

MATT: To scout for you? I'd say with a 15, yeah. You take some time, and with a small Draconian command, a phrase of your choice, you teach it that on that one phrase, it will go ahead and wander ahead for a bit and then come back and relinquish in very broken, very basic Draconic language into your connection with it. Very, very basic information on what it saw.

ORION: Cool.

SAM: I'm going to throw a Lightning Bolt spell into my Ioun Stone.

MATT: Okay, so you store that. Awesome.

ORION: Little treat.

MATT: It takes it and gobbles it down happily. Awesome. You guys make your way to the Trial Forge, the large temple to Kord itself. It's once again brilliant to behold. There are steps leading up to the front area: these giant reddish, almost rusted-over looking iron doors that block the front entrance. At the very top of it, you see looming over this entire district is a gargantuan statue of Kord himself. This giant, muscle-bound humanoid titan of a figure, that stands there: giant beard, muscle-bound torso, bracers against the arms, just one knee up. This very heroic pose and just looking over the rest of Vasselheim under his gaze. You see at the front of these iron doors, there are two more Bastions adorned in the same way as the ones that oversaw the battle at the Crucible. One shouts out, “Halt! Ye who approacheth the Trial Forge, what is your business here?”

LAURA: Yes, we are here to pay homage to Earthbreaker Groon with the latest champion of the city.

MATT: “Of the city? The city claims no champion!”

LAURA: Of the Crucible. You know.

MATT: They glance at each other.

LIAM: The Earthbreaker is a fan.

MATT: (chuckles) “I highly doubt that.”

ORION: Tell him it's Grog's–

MARISHA: We're not there.

LIAM: Check your facts, buddy. He likes the cut of his jib, believe you me.

MATT: And the other one gets up to his side and stands there, arms crossed, looking down upon you from three large stone steps up with this look of, “I'm looking forward to throwing these guys out.” About five minutes pass and the next one comes back and whispers in his ear… “Very well. The four of you may enter briefly. But this one's only invited to the center chamber. The rest of you must keep a distance. A distance.”

LAURA: Oh, yeah, like what? Ten feet? Yeah?

MATT: “You'll know.” He steps aside and the doors (stone scraping) slide open. As you guys step into the interior, the smell that hits you immediately is that of sage and other burned herbs that are used ceremonially to cleanse a certain landscape of evil spirits, from a superstitious standpoint, but also to build an atmosphere of meditation and understanding. The one Bastion that left and came back and whispered in his ear comes up and leans into you guys and gives you a nod. He doesn't actually speak to you, but he gives you a hand gesture to follow. Leads you into the Trial Forge and you can see now, these halls are essentially one long hallway. It's an arch about 85 to 100 feet up. And the interior of it is built out of a very thick, sturdy reddish stone. You don't know if the actual stone itself is built from a substance of this color, or itself has been stained or colored to match the rest of the Kord reddish aesthetic. But as you step in, your footfalls clack against a black marble floor with what looks like gold streaks through it, almost like there are small veins of some sort of gold material that has been polished within the actual marble itself.

LAURA: Very pretty.

MATT: Gives you a nod and a smile. No words in response. Continues to gesture forth, and as you guys step in, you see occasionally a few other individuals walking by with a similar gold and red robe aesthetic that you saw Earthbreaker wearing when he went to watch your battle in the Crucible. However, they are generally a little more dressed down, very simple, as opposed the expressive designs that were billowing across the baggy leggings that the Earthbreaker was wearing. And the robes. As you continue forward, they all step aside and keep a quiet watch, until you begin to notice in the distance, there are two large hallways that intersect. You can see most of the Trial Forge are now two long hallways that intersect into a center piece. And the center place of this temple, there is a raised dais at three different levels. And at the top of it, you can see, there is a beam of light that comes down from above. As you begin to walk towards the structure, you see there is a small figure that is currently sitting on top of this central dais. As you approach the outskirts of this main central chamber where the two long hallways intersect, the quiet Bastion puts his hand out and tells the rest of you to stop. Gives you a look and nudges you to proceed.

SAM: Do you need us with you?

TRAVIS: What? Yeah, you know I don't like talking.

LAURA: (whispering) He's not very good at talking. Would you like someone to come and translate for him?

LIAM: Is he going on his own, then?

LAURA: Is that a yes?

SAM: Good luck.

LAURA: Okay, sorry.

TRAVIS: I go forward.

MATT: As you step forward, footfalls clacking against the material–

LIAM: I'm sorry, we've been daytime drinking, and I hate to interrupt that, do you have a place here if I can't–

SAM: I don't think they– This is a temple.

LAURA: Yeah this really not the kind of–

LIAM: Are you sure?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Puts his hand out.

LAURA: They don't like talking.

SAM: Oh he has some sort of vow of silence. We should respect it and also make fun of it when he's gone.

LIAM: Is that the end of that? It's fine. (whispering) I've got a flask.

MATT: As Grog steps out in the central chamber, you can hear his footfalls echoing throughout the site, and as you look up, you can see now the light source from above, there is what looks like a stained-glass domed roof to the top of the central chamber. There is a dark spot in the center, where you can see the shadow from the early afternoon sun is being blocked from the giant statue of Kord that remains at the top of this temple, who is currently, essentially, now looking at the structure, straddling the top of this giant domed stained glass roof, and so underneath this statue is where the top of this structure is, and through it, these beams of light are coming down, multicolored and cascading onto this central chamber. Sitting in the center, you see, cross-legged, arms to the side, eyes closed, there sits Earthbreaker Groon, the Dawn Marshal himself. Quiet, as you approach.

TRAVIS: Eyes closed?

MATT: Eyes closed.

TRAVIS: I step forward and say: (coughs) Sorry to disturb, I'm looking for Earthbreaker Groon.

MATT: You see an eyebrow twitch for a second. Eyes remain closed, and the head turns for a second. Hands come together like this, and in that one motion stands to his feet, almost like it was effortless, from what would seem like a very uncomfortable position, suddenly is fully standing with a swift movement. In place, rotates and turns towards you, eyes still closed, at which point the eyes open– and you saw pupils previously, but in this moment of what seems to be serious meditation, there is this luminescent white light that encompasses the entirety of each eye, just looking straight towards you, the hands still clasped in the center. They're staring straight at you.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: “You have found the Earthbreaker. What do you ask of me?”

TRAVIS: I keep the little bit of pee that's about to fall out from falling out, and I say: I happened to see you amongst the crowd at my recent tussle. It seemed that everyone there seemed to know who you were. I wanted to at least introduce myself.

MATT: “You are Grog the Victorious.”

TRAVIS: That's right! (coughs) That's right.

MATT: “Once called Philip. Known as one of Vox Machina, the travelling band from Emon. Slayer of demons that once usurped Uriel himself. I know of your travels. I know of your deeds. What else do you ask of the Earthbreaker?”

TRAVIS: I don't really ask. I only mean to say that Vox Machina is at your disposal, if you would ever need someone outside of the amazing Braving Grounds, Vasselheim. We're really amazing.

ORION: We know where they're at, right?

MARISHA: No.

ORION: We don't know where they're at?

TRAVIS: If you would just keep us in mind.

MATT: At this point in time, his eyelids close, and they open again, and there's a softness that there wasn't before. The white light has faded, and you can now see beneath them these extremely piercing very, very light blue, almost white irises that surround his pupils. And from his old, weathered, wrinkled face from underneath his beard, you can see a smile slowly crawl across his cheeks. His hands release and rest to his side. He lifts his head slightly as if to look down at you from upon this dais, not with judgment, but with curiosity. His voice echoes and booms through this with even but a whisper from his throat, once again saying, “Your piety is accepted. Perhaps there may be a use for Kord of you and your compatriots in the future. Should this day arise, you will know, and you must hurry. Dark times are ahead. I can see the veils twisting. Many, many evil minds come to rend the peace apart. There will be a day I call for you, Grog the Victorious. Stay alive.”

TRAVIS: I mean to. Thank you. It has been an honor being in your presence.

MATT: He steps back to his position originally. “Now go.” He turns around and sits back into his meditate position and closes his eyes and disappears back into the same place where you originally saw him.

TRAVIS: I turn around and I go: Guys, his fucking eyes are glowing.

LIAM: (whispers) We're not here.

LAURA: (whispers) You've got to go.

SAM: You kept it together great!

TRAVIS: Thanks. Did you hear all of that?

SAM: Yeah, I couldn't hear much, but it was great.

TRAVIS: I almost had an aneurysm.

LIAM: He sounded very serious.

TRAVIS: Yeah we should go. He's cool.

SAM: Do you think I should shit somewhere–

LAURA: No. Just go.

SAM: Okay, we'll just go, then.

TRAVIS: Yeah, sans shit. And we're out.

LIAM: Better be safe.

SAM: Better be safe?

LIAM: Just a little one.

LAURA and TRAVIS: No.

SAM: No? Okay, we'll just go.

TRAVIS: And we make our way out of the golden-floored, glowing-eyed guy's house.

MATT: You are escorted out of the Trial Forge. You eventually meet up with the rest of Vox Machina. You carrying to your side, strapped, a dried hogshead filled with black powder and a cart of about 100 pounds of iron ingots.

TRAVIS: Ooh! You want me to hold onto all that for you?

TALIESIN: Actually, if you could just help load it onto the ship, that would be lovely.

SAM: Are we going on the airship?

ORION: If we could fit it in the Bag of Holding, it would be much better.

TALIESIN: Sure. Certainly, if we can put it in the Bag of Holding, that would be fine.

LAURA: Is that a pig's head?

MARISHA: It is literally a pig's head.

TALIESIN: I… Yes, that is in fact a pig's head. It's complicated.

SAM: Let's find Captain Damon and get back on the ship.

ORION: I start casting Circle of Teleportation.

MATT: As you guys are having this discussion, you look over and you can see the airship, which is a not too hard to see from this distance, is currently being outfitted, actually being finalized, being outfitted with brand new ballistae. Remember those giant dragon-headed ballistae you saw settled on the walls on the outskirts of Vasselheim? Those have now been affixed to the airship, as the previous air encounter it had, they didn't seem to quite cut through the defenses. You guys notice this just in time, as you see a flash of light and you look over your shoulder, and Tiberius has finished drawing what looks to be a large sigil– I fixed my pronunciation in that, thank you–

SAM: I like “siggle.”

MATT: I grew up with “siggle,” and nevertheless– I know. Sigil–

LIAM: Since I came in at the halfway mark, I really wanted to go to an ink specialist here in Vasselheim before we left, so can we retcon and go backwards and say that I got the elven sounds for “vuh” and “mm” put right there?

LAURA: Tattooed on his fucking wrist.

LIAM: Elven. And then over here, I don't remember much of the mathematics, that my teachers in our homeland–

SAM: Wait, are you saying that someone out there in the world should do the elven symbol for VM and we should all get literally tattooed?

LIAM: No, that's ridiculous. But over here, I have a mathematical shape. I don't know if you know arithmetic, but I learned arithmetic when I was studying. I learned knife-work, I learned elven poetry, and I learned arithmetic and I had a knack for it. She didn't, but I did. And I would like to get a– it was called an icosahedron– right here.

LAURA: Right here?

LIAM: Right here.

MARISHA: Wait, are we all doing that together?

SAM: In real life?

MARISHA: I'll go with you.

LIAM: This is real life. But to start–

MARISHA: You guys, we got a little day-drunk. Let's go together. Come on.

LIAM: Just me, the symbol for “vuh” and “mm” in Elven right there.

MATT: All right. So, as you've had this done over the past few days as you were awaiting the return of the other team who went off against a white dragon, apparently, you've had the time to do so, you just haven't quite revealed it to the rest of your allies yet.

LIAM: All right.

MATT: All right. But you guys look over your shoulder, and as you're talking about taking an airship, Tiberius has crafted a runic circle into the ground that itself is beginning to pulse with arcane energy, a familiar “siggle,” one that you think actually–

LAURA: (whispers) Sigil.

MATT: Sigil. No, I keep fucking it up. I just happily fixed it, and then you caught me.

LIAM: That's pronounced Coke and a cola.

MATT: There we go. The arcane sigil on the ground, a familiar one that you once saw on the beach of one Underdark subterranean island.

MARISHA: Down by the beach, so that we have–

LAURA: Down over by the bad lands?

MATT: Tiberius, you are on the cusp of completing your ritual.

ORION: Oh, I choose Emon.

MATT: All right. The sigil flashes with arcane energy and opens up. You see a small doorway that's sparkling across the ground.

MARISHA: He's just making the sigil.

LAURA: We can just pop over to Emon.

MATT: You can see the sigil shimmering as the energy is beginning to fade.

TRAVIS: We should go in.

TALIESIN: Let's go!

SAM: What about the airship? What about Captain Damon?

LAURA: The airship was only going to take us to Emon, anyway.

LIAM: I walk right through it and say, Tiberius, where are we going?

ORION: Emon. I go through, too.

SAM: Captain Damon–

ORION: I'll hold it for a minute.

LAURA: Good thinking, Tiberius!

MARISHA: And I just jump in, woohoo!

MATT: You all leap through the sigil–

TALIESIN: I keep jumping into things.

MARISHA: I like jumping into things. I like leap of faiths. They're exciting.

MATT: You guys find yourself once again in a small, white room. Familiar; the place that was your immediate sigh of relief when you returned from the Underdark.

MARISHA: Guys, it feels good to be home.

MATT: You push through the doorway, returning once again to the 80-foot circular chamber of white stone, where a vibrant crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling. There are five other doors around the room, and you are currently in the center of the Traverse Junction within the Alabaster Lyceum.

LIAM: I mean, we just did this. It wasn't too long ago.

LAURA: So it's okay, we popped out. Is the same guy there?

MATT: Indeed. Gatekeeper Xanthus is there waiting for you.

MARISHA: How long have we been gone?

TRAVIS: Hold on, Tiberius wants to say something.

ORION: To explain the travel schematic, it would take us a few days to come back on the airship to this particular area if want to go back to Kraghammer. It would be much more efficient if we teleport, as we have, and take a transport to Kraghammer, which is only north of here, as well, which will only probably take a day, right?

LAURA: Five days.

SAM: Oh shit, did we leave Trinket?

LAURA: Trinket is with us.

ORION: Airship. From here.

MATT: Oh. It is nearly a week to travel from Emon to Vasselheim in the airship, yes.

ORION: To Kraghammer?

MATT: No, to Kraghammer from here, it's about a three-day travel on horseback.

ORION: Right. The airship, right?

MATT: There is no airship to Kraghammer.

LAURA: Yeah, but it would have dropped us off in Emon anyway.

ORION: So we just shaved off five days.

SAM: Good job, Tiberius.

LAURA: I pop on out and I say, hello again.

MATT: “Yes? Oh, you. You've returned.”

LAURA: Yes, we have.

MATT: “Well, this time, I would like you to fill out the proper paperwork.”

LAURA: This time, of course, you already know ahead of time that we are dear friends of Uriel, and we do not need to.

MATT: “That is not true. I had my ass chewed out by Headmaster Thurmond the last time you came through and told me that. So–” and he fumbles underneath his desk– (boof) slams down what looks to be a cluster of about 20 to 25 papers. “I require you to fill these out so I do not lose my job here in the Lyceum.”

LIAM: All right, Vax pulls it over and starts filling it out and says, all right, but you know, we're kind of a big deal here–

LAURA: I was saying, Percy is so good at paperwork.

ORION: I can split the load.

MARISHA: I thought we had a lawyer for this. I thought we had Burt Reynolds, esquire.

ORION: We're doing the paperwork.

LIAM: I've got it, Burt. Just because you didn't like paperwork, or Elven, doesn't mean I don't. I've got it. But Uriel's not going to be pleased.

LAURA: He's going to be super pissed.

LIAM: But don't worry, I'll do it.

MATT: “I look forward to it. Great.”

ORION: Well, there you are, and here's my–

SAM: Do you have a bathroom around here?

ORION: Oh, Scanlan, hold it.

MATT: “Down the hall to the left.”

SAM: All right. I might make it.

LIAM: Vax fills out the entire thing, except for the final signature, and says, Scanlan, could you put the final signature on this?

ORION: Notarize it.

LAURA: Tiberius is helping.

SAM: Oh boy. Buttoning up my fly. Final signature? I'll just sign my name.

LIAM: That works, too.

MATT: “Thank you kindly. You are free to go.”

LAURA: Thank you so much.

MATT: “Oh, it's been a pleasure.”

LAURA: A real pleasure.

MATT: “Very much so, thank you.”

LAURA: Thank you.

MATT: “Thank you.”

LAURA: Thank you so much.

MATT: “Thank you so much.”

TRAVIS: Okay, here we go. We'll go out this way.

SAM: You know what I think? I think you guys hate each other, actually.

MATT: “Be on your way. Goodbye. Please, leave now. Go.”

LAURA: Emon is so beautiful–

SAM: Don't worry, I shat in the hallway.

LAURA: What time of day is it?

MATT: As you guys leave the Lyceum, you enter the main courtyard that leads into it. You are currently within the Cloudtop District of Emon, a clear blue sky dotted with clouds ahead of you. You gather it's probably around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. No time has passed, since the travel was instantaneous, thanks to teleportation.

LAURA: You are so good, you.

TALIESIN: Why don't we take a day or two to recuperate and then make our way to Kraghammer?

MARISHA: We are officially drunk in two different cities!

LAURA: I'm not drunk.

SAM: Is our next destination Kraghammer?

ORION: Yes. Collect our money.

SAM: Let's take a night and then go set off in the morning.

ORION: What time is it right now, in the day?

MATT: It's about 4PM.

ORION: Could we ride, maybe? Drunk riding.

MARISHA: Well… (whining) We haven't been home in so long.

ORION: We can go to the keep and say hi to everyone.

MARISHA: I need to water the garden. It's probably half dead.

ORION: No, we have servants that do that.

SAM: To the keep!

TALIESIN and TRAVIS: To the keep.

MATT: All right. You guys make your way through the Cloudtop District to the southern edge of Emon, to the lower slums outside of the city, along the southern wall to Greyskull Keep. The visual is welcoming. It looks standing, clean, and in the distance you can see a figure walking across the top of the wall, keeping watch. As you get closer, you can see it is the image of Cordell, the half-orc individual that you guys hired along with Shayne. As you approach the front gate, you see what looks like a tent: a large, thick burlap or linen, brown tent is set up right outside of you guys'–

LIAM: That wasn't there before–

LAURA: What? What is that?

SAM: Cordell. Cordell! What is this tent?

MATT: Cordell is looking over the edge as you approach and he gives you a wave. “Hello.” And you can see Shayne runs up next to him off the top. She has her crossbow at the ready. She goes, “Oh! Finally, you've arrived. I'm so glad you could make it. Yes, this has been here for about two weeks now.”

SAM: Is someone inside of it?

MATT: At which point, you hear sudden rustling from inside of the tent and a face pops out, briefly. You can see what looks like humanoid features, and suddenly darts back inside. And you hear more rustling. It sounds like pots and metals clinking around.

LAURA: I immediately go over there and throw open the–

MATT: As you throw open the tent, at that moment, you see another person is pushing out of the tent. And you both have this awkward moment where you both (awkward noises) and he pushes off of you instinctively and rights himself. The tent half collapses behind him and he catches himself and stands there at the ready. You see before you what looks to be a young man, probably in his late teens, 19 to 20 years old. Haphazardly dressed in scale mail armor, a longsword, crossbow, and handaxe, and buckler all dangling from his belts, weighing him down slightly. His dark brown eyes peer from beneath his short, tousled ash-blond hair. And a nervous yet excited smile flashes across his face. “Oh! You've returned! Ah. You! You, Percival. Percival, the great one who streaks fire from his tube. And the great druid princess. Keyleth, right? And you. You, the dragonborn who controls the elements himself. Tiberius of the Stormwind family, yes. Yes, I've heard of you. Scanlan. Scanlan I've heard your tales across the land. Your womanizing does not reach ears too far from the city.”

SAM: Well, I'm… Men, too.

MATT: “And you, the twins. Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia. Oh, the many bodies you've lain at your feet of the evil that crossed your path. And the mighty, muscled Grog. Oh, I am beside myself. I've been waiting for this–”

LAURA: Grog the Victorious. Get it right.

MATT: “The Victorious. Yes, of course!”

SAM: And you are, young man?

MATT: “I am Kynan Leore, son of Harold the butcher, and I wish to join you in your travels.”

LAURA: Oh, darling! You're so brave and strong.

ORION: Well, you're welcome to do so–

SAM: No! No, not at all.

MATT: “Really? It would be my honor. It really, truly would be.”

SAM: No. This is not an open membership situation. Vox Machina has been together for many years, and we've forged our bonds of friendship–

MATT: “I can forge my way. I can prove myself.”

ORION: What is your skill, sir?

MATT: “Well. My father, Harold the butcher, is well known throughout these lands.”

MARISHA: For?

LAURA: Butchering, I believe.

TRAVIS: He's a good butcher. Yep.

MATT: “Well, he is an actual butcher in the upper slums. But! I have been training day and night for months until I was ready to fight alongside you all and I humbly offer my sword as part of Vox Machina.”

ORION: Ah, your sword?

MATT: “Yes, I am a skilled swordsman!”

LAURA: You are?

MATT: “I trained under old Leonard Fyke, an ex-guard captain of Emon, himself. He was a friend of–”

MARISHA: Wait. What was his name? Linen Fyken?

MATT: “Leonard Fyke. He was once–”

MARISHA: Leonard Fyke.

MATT: “Leonard Fyke, yes.”

ORION: As he's talking, I motion to open the gates.

MATT: You hear a shift as Shayne and Cordell begin to pull the top of the gates, the chains clenching. (metal creaking)

LIAM: Is he talking to Vex? Are they talking together?

LAURA: I'm using insight on him as he's talking.

MATT: Go ahead and roll insight.

LIAM: How close are they?

MATT: They're about four feet across.

LIAM: Four feet apart? I flip a dagger in my hand and I go (impact noise) to the back of his head, is what I do.

MARISHA: Just to knock him out?

LIAM: Yeah. I did it. It's done.

MATT: All right. Roll an attack.

LIAM: Don't worry. I'm using the flat end. Oh, good. That's a 17.

SAM: Plus whatever.

LIAM: Plus a high number.

MATT: Oh, you rolled a 17?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Go ahead and roll sneak attack damage. It's a critical because he hasn't acted.

LIAM: Yeah, but it's the back end of the dagger, all right?

MATT: Yeah. Go ahead and roll sneak attack times two.

ORION: I go inside the keep.

LAURA: And you're touching my dice!

LIAM: The boy needs a lesson. This is not a life for a child. Okay, that's good.

SAM: Oh Jesus. It's like a million.

MATT: Times two.

LIAM: 28 on the sneak attack damage only.

MATT: Is that times two? Or is it 28 times two?

LIAM: Oh, times two. So that's–

SAM: Dead!

LIAM: No, he's not.

TALIESIN: You cleaved his head off with the blunt end of the knife.

LAURA: If he's a level one, you killed him.

LIAM: It's 56. Just the sneak attack damage alone.

MATT: And then add the d4 and the modifier for the dagger.

LIAM: That's ten.

MATT: So a total of 66 damage.

LIAM: 66 damage, yeah.

MATT: 66 damage. As you're having this conversation, you (whoosh) behind him and (whack) right to the temple. He's like, “I'm a swordsman. I'm trained. I'm–” (impact noise). And he goes straight down into a pile.

LIAM: With my bonus action, I pull out one of my remaining healing potions, right? And I shove it in his mouth like this, and it'll go glug-glug-glug down him.

MARISHA: That happened so fast.

MATT: Eventually he's like, (panting)

LAURA: Hi, darling.

LIAM: I take him by the lapels. Things move very fast with us. I don't think you understand what you're asking for. If you think you can handle that–

MATT: “Oh, Vax'ildan.”

(laughter)

SAM: This is why he's single.

MATT: “I've heard of your work for quite some time. Show me your ways.”

LIAM: Illithid, all right? Beholders. Large white dragons. I know it's cool to see her flash her boobs and this one sing a song. It's all excitement and craziness and all the rock and roll that the kids are talking about. But listen to me. It's dangerous. You could die any given day. So could I, so could she, so could him. Maybe not him, but the rest of us, sure. Are you really interested in this?

MATT: Make an intimidation check.

LAURA: Why?

LIAM: Tough love. That's called tough love. It's not bad. That's a ten plus– can somebody pass me that shit over there?

TALIESIN: Plus six.

LIAM: 16.

MATT: He looks at you for a second. His brow comes together, and you can see there's a quiver to his bottom lip. He goes–

TALIESIN: Wait, wait. There. There's his heart breaking.

MATT: “I thought you were heroes. I waited two weeks to meet you.”

LAURA: How could you do that to him?

LIAM: Tell me your name again.

LAURA: Kynan.

MATT: “It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter at all. You're right.” And he puts his hand up and pushes you away. He pulls out of your hands and takes a few steps away and looks over his shoulder. You can see now, there's tears welling up in his eyes. He goes, “I just wanted to be a hero.”

SAM: Wait.

LIAM: Kynan! Kynan.

TRAVIS: Train him up.

SAM: Send him on a mission.

LIAM: Come back when you're ready.

SAM: No, send him on a mission.

LIAM: Come back when you're ready. Come back again. Train yourself, and I, personally, will be your mentor.

MATT: Make a persuasion roll.

LAURA: Oh, you'd better roll good because I'm going to be so mad at you if you hurt him.

LIAM: What's my persuasion? Oh, you passed it down. All right. I make a seven.

MATT: He looks back at you, and the tears–

LIAM: I'm going to use Luck!

MATT: All right.

LIAM: It's a 20 on that one!

MATT: Natural 20?

LIAM: Yes.

MATT: He looks at you with the tears welling up in his eyes. He blinks them away for a second. (sniffs) “You mean that?”

LIAM: I do. You will be my right-hand man. I promise.

MATT: He looks over at the rest of you. Looks at Percy. Looks at Keyleth. Tiberius isn't there; Tiberius has already walked into the keep. Looks at Scanlan. Looks at Vex'ahlia. Looks at Grog. He grasps the sword that's currently sheathed at his side. “I will. I'll make you proud. I will be Vox Machina with you. I swear it. I swear it!” He runs back to his tent, and you see him start gathering up his things, and he begins tearing it down, and you can see the tears are still coming, but he's steeled his expression.

LIAM: I walk over to him. These people can't hear this. I kneel down next to him, and I put my hand on his shoulder and say, I was once like you and didn't know what I wanted or where I was going. I just want you to be ready. We've got some shit to do. When we come back, we'll start over. You're starting from ground zero. Starting from the basement, you'll work your way up. And I promise, I will be ready for you no matter what Mercer throws at me. I promise.

SAM: Mercer's our god.

MATT: “All right.”

LIAM: Don't question it. And I take him by the hair. Don't question it. Come back. Right on his forehead.

MATT: He gathers the rest of his tent and things, piles it up, and he's speechless at this point. You can see he's partially torn between wanting to look hard and ready to do this, and also still blown away by the fact that he's even encountered you guys after all this time. He takes the rest of his stuff and holds it in one arm and darts off down the path towards the river, hops over it, and then makes his way towards the rest of Emon and vanishes into the distance.

MARISHA: You know, you might have just sent him to his death.

LAURA: Why did you have to knock him out?!

LIAM: To go home and train?

LAURA: We could have trained him!

LIAM: We almost died ourselves in that temple, in that pyramid.

MARISHA: You just put expectations in his head!

ORION: Are they inside yet?

LAURA: Yeah, we're walking inside.

LIAM: So we should have made him a full-fledged member today, right now?

MARISHA: No, that's not what I'm saying at all.

LIAM: Make him a butler? He doesn't want to do that.

MATT: As you guys are having this conversation, you turn into the entrance of the keep, and there standing, arms behind his back, is Tiberius. Serious-faced.

ORION: I look right at Vax. Why did you do that to that young man?

LIAM: He wasn't ready!

ORION: Stop it. It was aggressive beyond necessity. We should have trialed the boy.

MARISHA: That was his trial.

ORION: That was not a trial!

SAM: We'll see, if he comes back.

ORION: You are far more powerful, Vax. You know that. This boy was a fan, at best. We could have put him to work, or something.

MARISHA: Do you think he would have been happy with work? I'm not even happy that he told him to go off and continue training. I think telling him to go off and continue training is a bad idea.

LIAM: He now knows the facts. He knows his skill level. He knows where he stands. He will either go back to being a fishmonger–

SAM: Son of a butcher.

LIAM: Son of a butcher, well. Everyone has their own personal path. Or he will come back to me, and if he comes back to me, I will train him. If not, it wasn't meant to be.

ORION: And if he comes for your head?

LAURA: He won't.

TRAVIS: Oh, he won't?

LIAM: I'll deal with that, as well.

TRAVIS: Did you never see The Incredibles?

(laughter)

ORION: Vax.

LIAM: Yes, Tiberius?

ORION: You and Grog I respect and fear the most out of all of us. You are cunning.

SAM: What am I, chopped liver?

ORION: I could crush you in one blow, Scanlan.

SAM: Let's leave it at that.

ORION: Vex, I fear you and am slightly attracted to you, as well. Grog and Vax, you are the strongest and most noble and cunning–

SAM: You live because I let you live. Just needed to say that out loud.

ORION: You believe what you believe. I'm just saying, when it comes to things, sometimes you really rush into stuff, and stop. Because you could just be chill sometimes.

(laughter)

MATT: At which point, you hear a voice ring out from across the courtyard of the keep. “Ah! You've all returned!” And you see across the way, Laina, your joyful housekeeper, comes rushing out, arms open to greet you all. You can see there's a little bit of dirt on the front of her apron, like she's been cutting the hedges or doing some sort of garden work. She rushes out and hugs you. “It's been so long. It's been far too long. It's so good to see all of you.”

ORION: As I see her, I turn to greet, but I want to give Vax a little pinch on the butt. A little friendly pinch.

MATT: A little tweak. A little dragonborn tweak. “Oh! Sorry, that reminds me. Hold on.” And she pulls out a little piece of paper. You recognize it: it's used in various arcane messaging. She pulls out a small quill and dabbles it and starts writing a quick message on it. Closes the lid (fire burst noise). It disappears.

MARISHA: What was that?

MATT: “I'm sorry. I was given that, just in case you all returned–”

MARISHA: Who gave you that? What was that?

MATT: “Seeker Asum Emring of the council. The ranger. He said as soon as you all returned, I'm supposed to let him know. He had very important business with you.”

LAURA: Maybe for the future, don't do that until we tell you it's okay to do that?

SAM: Seeker Emring, you said? Of the council of Tal'Dorei?

MATT: “Yes.”

SAM: He's an ally.

LAURA: No, he's fine. It's just, maybe we wanted to take a little nap or something.

MARISHA: Yes, ask us first.

MATT: “I'm sorry, I was– oh. Okay. My apologies. I was given implicit instructions by him.”

ORION: It's all right, we forgive you. I give her a hug. Sorry, I'm very scaly.

MATT: “Oh! Ah, it's good to see you, too, Lord Tiberius Stormwind.”

SAM: Could you instruct the security guard– we can take care of it. We should instruct the security guards: if there's a tent outside the keep, they should just burn it down.

MATT: “Oh, that nice boy! I brought him biscuits every morning. He was so sweet, that one.”

MARISHA: You brought him biscuits? Oh, she fed the stray. That's adorable.

LIAM: Do me a favor. Roll up his tent, keep it inside. If he comes back to ask for it–

MATT: He already rolled up his tent when he took off.

LIAM: Did he leave anything?

MATT: There was a couple of small pots and pans and things that he left.

LIAM: If he comes back, let him in. If I'm not here, let him use my room for as long as he likes, and I'll pay for it.

MATT: “Okay, it'll be done.”

LAURA: Feeling guilty that you knocked him out, brother?

LIAM: No, I feel perfectly justified.

ORION: Oh, you shouldn't.

TRAVIS: Can we rest before we go see this ranger?

SAM: Let's do it.

MATT: Right. You guys make your way into the keep. Laina immediately rushes off to the kitchen and begins preparing a welcome back meal for all of you. You can smell, after the next ten to 15 minutes pass by, that scent of freshly-cooked meats and baking bread begins to fill the air around Greyskull Keep. The halls are kept nice and warm. It's very clean, and it's a very welcome sight to be back home. You take time to rest and exhale and go over the sequence, and as you walk by, you see across the right from the main foyer, you can see a little bit of the light echoing through from the temple of Sarenrae, the stained glass, itself, and for a moment you all take a sad memory of Pike, whereever she is, hopefully to return to you very soon.

MARISHA: It's just not home without her.

LAURA: Here's the thing, Scanlan, how do you look through your poo? Can you look through it anywhere, or is it perhaps from the–

SAM: If you'd like to. I'm feeling a little bit Pike-sick right now. I could concentrate very hard.

LAURA: Just concentrate for a moment and see what she's doing.

LIAM: Would we be able to see, as well?

SAM: No, I'd have to describe to you what I see.

LAURA: Tell us what you see. Unless she's naked, in which case, stop looking.

SAM: Of course, I would definitely stop looking if I saw her naked in front of my poo. Definitely.

MATT: Are you…?

SAM: Sure, I'm going to try to scry through my poo.

MATT: You sit down and close your eyes and begin to concentrate, and as you begin to focus your energy, the sense of the arcane mind itself has gathered between the center of the head and the center of the chest. You begin to join these in the center, and your consciousness begins to glide downward towards your bowels. Eventually, you find a point of connection and you feel your vision transcending this single point on the prime material plane. You are brought through the small channel across the astral sea to connect, and suddenly your vision takes place. What looks like a cluster of dirt to one side and a darkened chamber that is lit by a series of torches. Before you, you see, still and slightly muddled, the Temple of Sarenrae as partially uncovered. You can see the large stone archway that is the front of the partially collapsed temple. You can see now there is stone being brought down the wooden staircase, and it is being used to slowly build up and reconstruct what was once a beautiful and very well-revered structure. You can see in the distance a small, white-haired gnome figure that is currently acting as foreman for this whole construction process and is giving orders and shouts to the other individuals here. Glancing about, you see her step over, and one person trips and drops a stone, and she walks up to them and takes them by the shoulder and lifts them back up and gives them a little hug, and then picks up the stone and carries it with them over to where it belongs on the side of one of the walls.

SAM: She should fire that person, but okay.

MATT: A few more moments pass and you gather that this is a slow-moving, but a consistent moving, renovation of the temple of Sarenrae, based on the limited number of people that she has at her disposal to help with the process. But it seems to be going well.

SAM: (gasps)

LAURA: What did you see?

SAM: She was definitely naked.

ORION: Really?

SAM: No, she was supervising her crew in a fair, but firm way. She was just being Pike: driven, radiant, beautiful, and empowered by the spirit of Sarenrae. She's everything that we think of her and more. She's beautiful and charming. Let's just let it be known that I could kill Tiberius if I wanted to. Just going to say that.

ORION: It's fine. Yes, you can, Scanlan.

SAM: Yes. I mean, that's beside the point. Pike was glorious and wonderful and confident, and I miss her so much. I hope from time to time I can look in on her.

LAURA: Anytime you want.

TRAVIS: Look through your shit.

SAM: Well, it's really any bodily fluid, I believe. I could piss. I could barf.

LAURA: Ooh! Any time ever?

TRAVIS: Is this real? Is it a real thing? Is it real? He can do this?

MATT: There is a gradual fade to the effect.

LIAM: I'm raising my flask, and I say: To Pike.

ALL: To Pike.

LIAM: The best in all of us.

SAM: She really was, and is.

MARISHA: Our own little inspirational poster, inside each and every one of us.

SAM: She's not little, but yes.

MATT: As you all drink, a familiar voice echoes from across the hallway.

MARISHA: Pike?

MATT: “Your food is ready, everyone.”

(groaning)

MATT: And you see Erwen Dastell, your elderly halfling manservant, is there standing in his attire, smiling, happy to see you all. “Laina would like you all to know that your meal is ready. This way, please.”

LAURA: Thank you, Erwen.

MATT: He leads you to the dining hall. The food is already prepared, and you sit down to eat. The meal is very welcome; it's the best food you've had in a while. Comparable to Southern comfort food. There's gravy, biscuits– it's beautiful.

LAURA: Fried chicken.

MATT: (chuckles) It's delightful. A little ways into the meal, you can see Cordell steps into the room and glances in for a second. “I am sorry to interrupt, but we have a visitor.”

SAM: Is it a councilor from Tal'Dorei?

MATT: “It is. The halfling.”

ORION: Invite him in for dinner.

LAURA: Does he want some fried chicken?

MATT: “I could ask.”

MARISHA: Tell him if he's okay with us being a little tipsy.

LAURA: Still?

MARISHA: Well, I figured we just kept going.

MATT: A moment goes by, and you see Seeker Asum Emring arrives at the doorway. He's wearing dark, looks like studded leather armor, a very deep green cloak about his shoulders. Even at the council meetings, he's dressed for utility. He seems to be that individual who has his eye in many places in the room at once; he's a ranger by trade, and paranoid by nature. His head is shaved bald, and he has tattoos across one side of his halfling face. As he walks in, he gives a swift bow and says to everyone, “Greetings. I'm sorry to interrupt your meal. I was notified that you have arrived, and I have business I would like to discuss, if you have a moment.”

MARISHA: (groans) Is it bad news? We're not in the mood for bad news.

MATT: “I'm all right. It's not bad news, it's just something I wanted to run by the rest of you.”

TRAVIS: Please feel free to speak.

MATT: He steps and finds a chair at one of the nearby tables, clustered towards the center, where you guys have pushed your dining tables together. “Now, while you were gone, a venture has been put into motion. In celebration of the agreed-upon construction of a grand bridge across the Shearing Channel to the eastern continent of Wynandia, a dinner is being held here within a week. This venture is helmed by one Lord and Lady Briarwood of Whitestone, as the bridge would be set at the edge of the Alabaster Sierras. They are probably en route as we speak. The bridge shall open trade routes with the kingdom of Wildemount across the way. I'm here because few things escape my eye. Percival, when last we were company, you had shifted so very uncomfortably at the mention of these two. May I ask why?”

TALIESIN: Had I? I hadn't noticed.

MATT: “Well, I did.”

TALIESIN: I have had dealings with them before. I find them… untrustworthy.

MATT: “I have my reservations, as well. My network has been watching their acquisition of Whitestone since the de Rolo family fell to disease, and there are far more questions than answers. I've sent operatives to inquire, but each has sent me a letter of resignation instead of choosing to stay within Whitestone under my employ. Now, our sovereign requested that I extend an invitation to this coming dinner– per your request to him, Percy– to you, Vox Machina. I am here to ask if you will attend, and if so, if I can trust you to keep an eye while I do my work.”

LAURA: What say you, Percy?

TRAVIS: It's Percy's call.

TALIESIN: (sighs) Yes, we will attend.

MATT: “Very good. I will contact you in the next few days and shall discuss further. Until then, enjoy the rest of your meal, and thank you.” He sits up from his seat.

SAM: We're having bread pudding for dessert.

MATT: “I'm good, thank you.”

MARISHA: Wait, when did you say this dinner was taking place?

MATT: “In about a week, they should be arriving.”

TALIESIN: Excuse me. I have a bit of work to do downstairs.

SAM: Can we go to Kraghammer in that?

LAURA: Seven days in a week or in a week, like five days?

MATT: “They are expected to arrive in the next five to seven days. The dinner is set for seven to eight days from now.”

LAURA: Got it.

SAM: Thank you for your information.

MATT: “Of course. We shall discuss further.”

LAURA: Percy–

TALIESIN: I've already gone.

ORION: Oh, what is the attire for the event?

MATT: “As formal as one may muster. If you do not have suitable attire, it will be provided, but please do notify the council.”

SAM: I could lend you one of my jackets.

ORION: I'd like to see what they propose.

TRAVIS: I don't really do formal, so?

LAURA: Don't worry, Grog. We have a wonderful tailor.

LIAM: The fancy clothes in the bag.

LAURA: In your Bag of Holding.

TRAVIS: We've got like two left, and they wouldn't fit me.

MATT: “You can figure this out amongst yourselves. I have business to attend to. Have a good night.”

LIAM: We'll be there. Thank you.

MATT: “Of course.” And with that, he turns around and leaves. He's one of those individuals where as he walks away, and this catches your eye in particular, for a moment you have to admire the fact that he takes naught but two steps and for a second, you swear he was walking, he had about 15 feet to the door, and he's just gone.

LAURA: He's good.

MATT: And with that, we shall end this week's session.

(groaning)

LAURA: Oh, but I want to talk to Percy!

MARISHA: I know! Percy just ran off to the basement, to his workshop.

MATT: We'll pick up directly from this moment next week.

MARISHA: Guys, I feel like we need to have a conversation with Percy.

LAURA: Yeah, that needs to happen.

TALIESIN: (screams)

(laughter)

LIAM: So, Percy, do you want to strike off in a random direction and just go and go and go?

TALIESIN: So, that money that we're owed. Why don't we do that? I think we have time for that.

MARISHA: Maybe we could send an errand-boy to get it?

SAM: We're back, guys. We're back!

[end of captions]

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