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Pre-Show[]

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

ALL: (hollering) We play Dungeons & Dragons!

MATT: Just like that. It is our first show back for the new year. Let's hope 2022 is a better one. But we start with our first sponsor of the evening, NordVPN. Travis.

TRAVIS: (pants) Let me process this data. A malware bot has somehow hacked Robbie's brain and sliced his synapses, controlling him like a cyber sock puppet.

ROBBIE: Oh, you salty much, you filthy casual? You got the basics, but you still don't know who I am.

TRAVIS: I'll run a diagnostic. Just got to boot up my Connect Four, and Yahtzee the Qwirkle protocol.

ROBBIE: (laughs) Nice try, you dairy farmer, but I eat Qwirkle for bleep bloop, which hacker code for breakfast! Why don't you try and guess my identity, you boomer.

TRAVIS: Boomer? A Russian credit card scammer?

ROBBIE: Ha, so cringe.

TRAVIS: A teenage anarchist in his mother's basement?

ROBBIE: (laughs) RFLOL, no.

TALIESIN: Number Two, wait. Let's recompute this. What happened immediately before Robbie was infected?

TRAVIS: Well, he plugged his generic tablet into the set, and-- (gasp) into the set! You mean.... you're a rootkit virus inside our brand new Critical Role set?

ROBBIE: Oh, ho, ho! Ding, ding, ding! Leet answer. You can call me Setty, and check it out, I'm not just a virus, baby. I'm shareware. This whole new set is my domain! (evil cackling)

ASHLEY: What's up, trolls? It's me, Assley Dongson, and I hate oversized sweatshirts.

LIAM: Oh my god!

LAURA: No!

LIAM: That's not Ashley, you monster!

ASHLEY: (light growl)

LIAM: (powering up) Oh, hi dorks in Dorkland! Role playing is stupid! Actors are dumb! Eh. Shakespeare was as useless as a traffic light in GTA!

TALIESIN: Now Liam's got the bug! How do we wipe the very set we shoot on?

LAURA: (groans) That's the leetest part, doge monkeys. You can't! (laughs)

TRAVIS: This set can't be invaded by a virus! It's got NordVPN, providers of highest quality encryption for your internet traffic and hides your IP and physical location. With 5,400 servers in 59 countries, it is easy to get better internet speed and protection with one simple click, and it's available on every major platform, including Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux. Marisha had NordVPN installed on the set. There's no way you could have infected it. You did install NordVPN, right, Marisha?

MARISHA: Well, you know, I mean.

TALIESIN: But it's so affordable! Especially if you go to nordvpn.com/criticalrole to get a two year plan plus a bonus gift with a huge discount.

MARISHA: I know, I know it's been a lot going on, okay? And either it was about subscribing to NordVPN or renewing our subscription to Matt's Vest of the Month club, so um, I chose my husband.

MATT: What? These vests are cool.

ALL: (noises of agreement)

MATT: Thank you.

TRAVIS: Negatory! Setty, you're saying--

LAURA: Affirmation. (laughs) No. (laughter) Affirmitron.

ROBBIE: Oh ho ho ho!

LAURA: You're stuck with me all campaign long. (maniacal laugh) (evil cackling) (evil cackling)

MARISHA: Okay, don't worry. I caused this, so I'll fix it. I'll find a solution, the next time NordVPN sponsors our show.

ASHLEY, LAURA, and LIAM: Matt, vest to you. (laughter) (laughter)

MATT: Thanks, NordVPN. What is happening?

MARISHA: I inhaled my spit. (laughter)

MATT: This episode is also sponsored by our friends at Ghostfire Gaming and their new episodic subscription service, Fables. Each fables consists of six episodes released monthly, and in each of the episodes are four chapters, with each episode about 80 pages, and also comes with digital maps, digital tokens, making this the perfect all in one adventure and out now is the first episode, Grim Hollow Adventure: Citadel of the Unseen Sun. An adventure set within a world where the sun has vanished from the sky and vampires rule the land with an iron fist.

SAM: Oh!

MATT: That's right, Sam. Check it out now at ghostfiregaming.com/fables-criticalrole for a very reasonable $14.99 a month. Travis, you've got something to shout about?

TRAVIS: Oh, I do! (pants) Get out of the Nordverse. In case you missed it, right before the holiday break, we announced a brand new launch date for our upcoming series on Amazon Prime Video, The Legend of Vox Machina. (cheering) If you missed it, our series will be making its debut an entire week early on Friday, January 28th. One week early, so don't miss it! We're so pumped.

MATT: Fantastic. Laura, you got announcements.

LAURA: I do. We got merchandise.

TRAVIS: We do!

LAURA: Ta-da! It's a beanie!

MATT: That's actually awesome!

ALL: (noises of agreement)

LAURA: This is an Eiselcross beanie. It says, "Even we don't know what's here." (laughter) In addition to our beautiful beanie, we got a beautiful scarf. Now you can wear both things since it's still cold outside.

MARISHA: So cute!

LAURA: Look at that.

MARISHA: Oh my god, I love it.

LAURA: That looks really cute on you.

MATT: It actually does, yeah.

TALIESIN: Working really well.

SAM: It's Harvard colors.

TRAVIS: It's adorable!

LAURA: That's all I got to say about that.

MATT: Awesome, thank you so much.

LAURA: It's in our stores! (laughter)

SAM: I thought that was all you had to say!

MATT: Thank you, Laura.

LAURA: You're welcome.

MATT: I believe with that, our announcements are over. Let's go ahead and jump into tonight's episode of Critical Role.

♪ Critical ♪
♪ Critical ♪
♪ It's Thursday ♪
♪ It's Thursday night! ♪

ASHLEY: ♪ One-by-one, we climb until we reach the top. ♪
♪ Two-by-two, we fall. ♪

LAURA: ♪ Will we meet our end or meet our destiny? ♪
♪ Hold your breath and roll! ♪

MATT: How do you want to do this?

ALL: ♪ It's Thursday night ♪
♪ All ye Critters, come join us ♪
♪ It's time to continue our plight ♪
♪ There is magic and mystery ♪
♪ Who knows what will happen? ♪
♪ He might! ♪
♪ But one thing's for sure, ♪
♪ We never give up on the fight! ♪

TRAVIS: ♪ From the healer ♪

LIAM: ♪ To the renegade ♪

MATT: ♪ We all share the same goal ♪

MATT and TALIESIN: ♪ Adding more allies ♪
♪ Taking more chances ♪

SAM: ♪ Hold your breath and roll ♪

MARISHA: You can certainly try.

ALL: ♪ It's Thursday night ♪
♪ All ye Critters, come join us ♪
♪ It's time to continue our plight ♪
♪ It's Thursday night. ♪
♪ There is magic and mystery ♪
♪ From darkness, our friendship will rise ♪
♪ But one thing's for sure: ♪
♪ We never give up on the fight ♪
♪ Oh, get ready, ♪
♪ Get ready, ♪
♪ It's Thursday night! ♪(flames whooshing)

Part I[]

MATT: And welcome back. Last we left off, our heroes here, who have been traversing the city of Jrusar, had been on the trail of a few disappearances that have been happening in recent weeks at a theater. They managed to find out what was responsible and destroy this creature that had taken these creatures-- these people's lives. Sorry, very distracting to have myself on the screens. Thank you. (laughter)

MATT: But upon finishing this mystery, a figure nearby overheard that you had completed this appointed risky endeavor to find these missing people. An individual named Pock O'Pea, Chetney Pock O'Pea. Upon coming along with your band and asking for their help in finding a missing person that they themself are seeking, you began to search throughout the city, follow the path to where this individual, this Gurge, was currently staying temporarily within the city of Jrusar. Upon inspecting the temporary abode, the hovel in which he was living, you found signs of a struggle. Apparently, some sort of attack had transpired, and you watch marks of being dragged away, while also hearing of a terrible dire wolf attack in the city. Fearing that this individual may have fallen to the same dire wolf, you spoke for information with the person who had rented them the space and followed the assumed intent that he had been arrested by the local wardens. You'd gone over to the nearby factory and spoke with these wardens to see where he may have been. Upon them, awkwardly, nervously almost, walking into the factory and locking the gates behind them, Fearne decided to go ahead and inspect secretly in the form of a rat. Sneaking through the interior tunnels and heading into one of the side chambers, where it seemed the warden with more authority, amongst the two you spoke with, were having a conversation. Bit shifty of them. Already in a place of mistrust with these wardens assigned to this factory, they turned to leave just as you were there wading out from underneath the door in the tight space. Attempting to turn from where their footfall was, you failed to do so and took just enough damage to pop you out of your rat form. We come in just as Fearne has emerged full bodied in the middle of this small office chamber within the factory, staring now at these three wardens that look at you with surprise, confusion, and a slight shift towards whatever arms they have at their side. With that being said, what do you do, Fearne?

ASHLEY: Oh my goodness. I... Okay! I was trying to come in to get to you, but you ran in so fast. There's a whole pack of dire wolves out there. It's bad. I was trying to come in to tell you. You didn't hear me knocking on the door, so I slipped right under. Here we are. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Let's go! I go to open the door. (laughter)

MATT: Okay. Roll a deception check.

MARISHA: Come on!

LAURA: Oh god, please!

ROBBIE: How many?

TRAVIS: There's three of them, right?

MATT: There's three of them, yes.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay.

SAM: Just natural 20 it.

SAM: It's easy.

LAURA: Easy, easy peasy.

LIAM: Roll like Robbie.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, let's go with this guy. Uh oh. (laughter)

ASHLEY: 11.

MATT: 11.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: The one in front that initially had stepped and had his foot pressed back, as he watched you come into your rat form before his eyes blinks for a second, his hand instinctively going to the blade that's sheathed at the side of him, he goes--

ASHLEY: (yelps)

MATT: "What do you mean dire wolves? Now?"

ASHLEY: Yes! They're the ones that were killing people. There's blood all over their mouths.

MATT: They all glance to each other.

ASHLEY: We need to go outside right now.

MATT: Looks back towards--

ASHLEY: Immediately!

MATT: The one in the desk, who's still sitting there, looking forward. "Miss..."

ASHLEY: Fearne, and what's your name?

MATT: As you put your hand forward, the one in front, begins to pull the blade from the sheath.

ASHLEY: It's just a hand.

MATT: "Why are you in my office?"

ASHLEY: I told you. I was trying to run after the two that came inside that we were asking a question, we were out there for two seconds. This whole pack of dire wolves came out and I was like, "Oh shit!" I ran in to get you guys because this is bad.

MATT: "Right."

ASHLEY: This is very bad.

MATT: He glances to the other two. Says, "Could you describe the coloration of these dire wolves?"

ASHLEY: Yes.

MATT: "There are many different types in the jungle. It would be important for us to know what we're up against."

ASHLEY: They were so many different types. (laughter)

ASHLEY: There were... there was a white, fluffy one. There was a... brownish one. There was one--

MATT: As you're saying this, the two other wardens are beginning to slowly flank to get between you and the door.

LAURA: Oh my god.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay. In my head, I'm going to say, Oh... Imogen. I am not a rat anymore. We have a problem--

LAURA: Oh no.

ASHLEY: -- inside. Are you okay?

ASHLEY: I think so, but maybe just be on alert just in case.

LAURA: Okay! What's going on? Where are you?

ASHLEY: I'm in an office.

MATT: At this point, the two guards, one grabs your wrist on the left side and the other grabs your right wrist.

ASHLEY: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I'd like to cast Charm Person on... the head honcho.

MATT: Okay. The guy you're looking at across the way. Is there a somatic component to the spell?

TALIESIN and LAURA: Oh no.

ASHLEY: Oh, that's right.

SAM: V S M? V M? V S M.

ASHLEY: V S.

MATT: Okay, verbal, somatic. You don't need a material component, but you do need to speak the spell as you cast it. You do need to use your hands to do the somatic components of the spell. So yes, you can do it. Your hands are currently held by two guards. You'll have to break one of the hands free in order to finish the spell. Which guard do you choose?

ASHLEY: Okay, the one on the left.

MATT: One on the left, okay.

ASHLEY: Hey, whoa!

MATT: Roll a strength check.

LAURA: Oh god.

TRAVIS: Let's go!

SAM: You're strong!

ROBBIE: Yeah, you're strong.

TRAVIS: You're strong.

MARISHA: So strong.

ASHLEY: (laughs)

TRAVIS: What is it?

ASHLEY: That's a natural one. (groaning)

MATT: No fuck--

ASHLEY: Minus two!

TRAVIS: Natural one.

SAM: But she has minus two.

MATT: You have minus two? He's going to beat you. (groaning)

ASHLEY: Okay, okay!

MATT: Dueling natural ones! I was like, this is-- Nope. Nope. You go to move your arm. It's held in place. You do not have the means to cast a spell at the moment. The guy across the table now stands up from his desk and goes, "Miss."

ASHLEY: Yes?

MATT: "We should have a conversation. Sit."

ASHLEY: Absolutely.

MATT: The two guards carry you along and forcedly holding your wrists and sitting you on.

ASHLEY: Calm down! I'm not going to do anything. Jeez louise!

MATT: They sit you down, but they stay holding your wrists to your side. They're keeping you in place.

ASHLEY: Phew, it's hot. (laughter)

LAURA: You just hear in your head: This connection is going to break soon. Fearne, is there anything we can do?

ASHLEY: Yes. I think they might try to kill me. Maybe somebody come in?

LAURA: (whimpers)

MATT: The man at the desk, before we get over to you, just says, "Strange that you are asking around about this Gurge fellow."

ASHLEY: Oh yes, we didn't even get into that with you yet. I just wanted to make sure you guys were all safe.

MATT: "Why are you looking for him?"

ASHLEY: Well, I didn't really want to disclose this, but... we were in a relationship and, he just took off on me. And now we're just sort of trying to put the pieces together of getting my life back. So I think we're just trying to find him, because he's he stole a bunch of stuff from me and he's just, he's not, I just, (voice breaking) it's been really hard.

MATT: Roll a deception check.

MARISHA: Oh god.

LAURA: Oh my god.

ASHLEY: Come the fuck on. Goddamn it! Okay. Nine.

MATT: "You were in a relationship with the wild man. The hermit on the outskirts of the city."

ASHLEY: Well, he was a wild man.

MATT: "Right."

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: At this moment, coming back to you guys on the outside. (laughter) What are you doing?

LIAM: Are you all right? You look stressed. Why are you stressed? Are you all right?

LAURA: She's-she's-she's-- They know she's in there.

MARISHA: Do we kill everybody?

LAURA: She said they might kill her!

TALIESIN: Oh, thank god, let's go.

LAURA: What do we do?

SAM: Wait, wait, wait! We can't just barge in, this is a police department.

ROBBIE: Yes, we can.

TALIESIN: I'm heading towards the door already.

SAM: I've always been taught that slow and steady wins the rake.

LAURA: What?

SAM: If you want-- Some people need rakes.

MARISHA: It's "race."

TALIESIN: Is the door locked?

SAM: Nope.

MARISHA: It's-- all right.

MATT: Yes, there is a crossbar door at the front that she had slipped through before that is locked, as you go and try and pull on it.

TALIESIN: I'm going to--

LAURA: Get their attention. Go.

TALIESIN: I'm going to start banging on the door with the hammer, I'm going to break it fucking down.

TRAVIS: I'm really good with locks.

TALIESIN: I-- Ah, too late, I hit it with a hammer.

MATT: Okay. Roll, go ahead and roll an attack.

TALIESIN: I should make that go away so I can see my stats. Stats! That's 17.

MATT: Definitely hits the door. Go ahead and roll damage.

TALIESIN: These are so complicated. Barbarians are so complicated.

LIAM: That's some reverse math.

TALIESIN: 13.

MATT: 13, (whooshes) You hit the door, and the door (poof) budges slightly.

ASHLEY: Dire wolves!

MATT: There is a heavy impact sound, as you hit the door and it echoes, the sound of metal on heavy, heavy weapons (echoing crash) echoes through the factory halls behind you, and you say, "Dire wolves." You see him kind of-- "What was that noise?"

ASHLEY: How am I supposed to know?

MATT: You doing it again?

TALIESIN: No, I--

TRAVIS: Could I try mine now?

TALIESIN: Fine.

TRAVIS: Shit, age before beauty. And I get up there and start.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

TRAVIS: (clicks)

MATT: Okay, go ahead and roll.

TRAVIS: Is this sleight of hand?

MATT: This would be adding your proficiency modifier and your dex save, this is the thieves' tools.

TRAVIS: Great. 12.

MATT: 12. You know, this might've been an easier lock if it hadn't already been somewhat wedged by a heavy impact the previous round by a weapon. You can see there's a slight gap where it is now pushed slightly out of its normal socket there where the door is flush normally, but it has definitely fucked up the locking mechanism for the time being.

MARISHA: You know, I actually might be able to just pop the hinges off over here.

TALIESIN: Go for it.

MARISHA: Let me see. I'm going to take my rock chisel. Can I? Pop the hinges?

MATT: Roll an intelligence check.

MARISHA: ♪ Fucking doors. ♪ That's bad. It's real bad. Five.

MATT: Yeah, you got this, real fast.

MARISHA: Dink.

MATT: Like the Terrible Trivium, Marisha just begins slowly working-- sorry, Laudna begins slowly working on the outside of the hinge.

LIAM: Stop making that motion.

TRAVIS: If it helps, DM, I did my math wrong.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: It's actually 17.

SAM: Oh shit!

MATT: Still not enough.

ROBBIE: Whoa!

TALIESIN: Really? Wow.

ASHLEY: Listen, I just, I really-- I need you to give me some information. I can give you something as well, if that's how you like most transactions.

MATT: "Certainly." He looks over to one of the guards, who releases your right hand and pulls his blade out and begins looking over to inspect the sound that just echoed through the hall behind.

LIAM: Dorian?

ROBBIE: Yes?

LIAM: Think you can blast that thing off his hinges?

ROBBIE: I don't know, maybe! Am I the blasting guy? I suppose.

LIAM: Sometimes.

SAM: Like with a spell?

MARISHA: 10 more minutes. (laughter)

MATT: Meanwhile--

ASHLEY: All I ask, if you could just come out and talk to my friends and I. I don't mean anybody any harm. I just-- we really need to know where my love is, has gone.

MATT: "Why are you looking for him? Be honest for once. It might adjust your sentence."

ASHLEY: (sighs)

MATT: The guy who has released your hand and has his weapon out is now starting to put his hand up against the door, and is inspecting past the bars into the hall behind you.

ASHLEY: I'm worried about his safety. I went to go see him and he wasn't there and it looks like he might've been hurt. And I-- I'm really not trying to cause trouble, sir, I just-- we just need some help.

MATT: Roll a persuasion check with disadvantage.

LAURA: (groans) Oh my god, disadvantage.

ASHLEY: 12.

MATT: He seems unmoved and frustrated with the fact that you're wasting his time. You do have a hand free, though.

TALIESIN: Oh.

LAURA: Oh!

ASHLEY: I'm going to cast Charm Person.

MATT: (chuckles) Okay. He's about to speak up towards you. What's the DC on the spell?

TRAVIS: Oh boy.

ASHLEY: 15.

SAM: Ooh, that's good!

LAURA: That is really good.

MATT: That is very close, but he does not succeed.

SAM: Ooh!

ROBBIE: Oh, okay.

MATT: 14 total on his point. He like just missed it. He goes forward to give you a stern finger for talking to him and goes, "Hmm, my apologies. This was a major understanding."

ASHLEY: It's really okay. It's really okay, I accept your apology.

MATT: "What are you doing? Release her, it is fine." The guy goes, "Um, sir?" I said release her!"

ASHLEY: Wait, but before I leave, did you happen to know where Gurge is?

MATT: The other guard behind is like, "What's happening? We're just letting her go now? What's the noise coming from?"

ASHLEY: Can you guys-- who's in charge here? (laughter)

MATT: They both look at you incredulously, then look back at the main guy, he says, "She has a point. Look. We were given a donation from an old friend. Do you know of Artana Voe?"

ASHLEY: Artana Voe, that sure sounds familiar. Would you refresh my memory, maybe?

MATT: "She's a female bounty hunter."

ASHLEY: Oh, yes, yes, yes.

MATT: "She works all throughout the mines."

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

MATT: "Anyway. I know her from way back and she, on behalf of her employer, whoever it might've been, offered us a bit of coin to help her with a hunt. This Gurge individual, she was apparently hunting."

SAM: I'm going to try to saw through the door, by the way.

MATT: Okay, go for it. Roll a strength check.

TRAVIS: The metal saw through the metal door?

SAM: Uh huh. 19.

MATT: She loosened it for you, but-- (high-pitched saw whirring) It cuts through one of the hinges and you can see now, the door is like one good hit away from giving in on one side.

LAURA: Don't worry, Fearne, we're coming for you. We're through the door. We're going to be there any second.

ASHLEY: Oh, oh, oh, okay!

MATT: At this point, as this heavy sound hits, the guy talking to you goes, "What was that? Go look for it." And the two guards pulled their blades and start walking up the hallway to the sound.

TRAVIS: Maintenance, don't mind us!

ASHLEY: I'll come help or-- well, finish your story. I'm going to just sit on the side of the desk.

MATT: "We need to make sure that everything is safe. There's lot of commotion--"

ASHLEY: It's fine. This is a factory. You guys are so loud here.

MATT: "Fair enough. So suppose that--" And he keeps talking and, and while this is going, the two other guys leaving the chamber. "We knew from reputation that Gurge was some sort of strange wild man from what she said, but we were not prepared for what we encountered. He became a terrifying beast when assaulted. A violent melee ensued in the broad daylight, and it took him-- took me, Artana, and those two guards to subdue him and Artana left with the beast unconscious and we assured the neighborhood of a wild dire wolf attack. In best of just keeping a smoke screen. Minimize interest, but he's not dead, he's taken care of. He's fine."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "He is in Artana's custody and whatever business he's gotten-- wherever she may be, he's being taken to whatever debts he may have accrued."

ASHLEY: My, a monster, that certainly would explain some of our wild nights.

MATT: "You are an interesting one."

ASHLEY: Who?

MATT: "You."

ASHLEY: Sometimes.

MATT: "Explain how wild some of these nights could have been."

ASHLEY: Oh, just, I don't know if it's appropriate.

MATT: "We're just friends here in a room."

ASHLEY: Oh boy, it was lots of things that involved--

MATT: Right there, we come back to you guys. (laughter)

SAM: Ashton, give it a whack! Come on, knock this thing down!

LIAM: Orym is slashing the hinges that Laudna had been working on.

TALIESIN: Is everyone going on it?

LAURA: Yeah, are we just--

LIAM: I mean, we're just working on it.

ROBBIE: I'm trying to pull at the top hinge, trying to just pull on it.

MATT: Let's just go ahead and-- I think at this point, it's more about making a combined strength check between those who are working on it right now. So if you're pulling on it and you're helping out with the hinges.

TRAVIS: I'm still working on the lock.

ASHLEY: Listen--

ROBBIE: 22 for strength.

TALIESIN: Oh wow.

MATT: Great, yeah. (clinks) The door pulls away.

TRAVIS: Natural 20-- Oh. (laughter)

MARISHA: Oh my god!

TALIESIN: The door held lock just-- (laughter)

ROBBIE: Holding the door over my head.

TRAVIS: Teamwork!

LIAM: Like, once it's off the hinges.

MATT: Yep.

LIAM: (like Chutney) I got it!

TRAVIS: One for one!

MATT: The dust kicks up around it and soot just fills the air. You can't help but find yourself cough through instinct. And as it begins to clear back again you see, there are a number of lights further down the hall and the stairways lead down to the chamber. Looks like some individuals with headlamp circumstances are glancing over in your direction as two armed guards, the two that you had originally encountered come around the corner, weapons drawn and look towards you as the fallen door's dust begins to settle.

LAURA: Someone needs to fix those hinges. We just knocked on the door and it fell right on down.

ASHLEY: Did you guys get all the dire wolves outside? A whole pack of them.

MATT: As Fearne comes rushing around the corner--

ASHLEY: Oh, this whole time I thought they were at the office door.

MATT: They were further down the hallway. If you want to leave the office and call over them--

ASHLEY: No, no, no, no, no, it's okay, I'll wait.

MATT: Okay, so roll a deception check with disadvantage, girl.

LAURA: Yep.

TRAVIS: Whoa.

LAURA: Whoa, that's really good!

LAURA: I know, it's a double dice.

LIAM: Oh, is it?

ASHLEY: That thing is so cool.

LAURA: So that's a 20 with disadvantage.

MATT: Very nice. The two guards standing there, the wardens glance at each other. "Hold on, just need to get our... Don't move, don't move. We'll get this squared away. It's been really confusing here." Real quickly, he looks at the other guards and he's like, "Yeah, we just need to, um-- Boss? Boss!" And as you both-- he's leaned into the table. Hearing this in the background and goes, "(sighs) My apologies."

ASHLEY: I mean, that's why I just love maple syrup, so. Here's the thing, though. I got to go!

MATT: "I need to figure out what my ridiculous men are up to, so I'll walk you out."

ASHLEY: I can figure it out.

MATT: "I'll walk you."

ASHLEY: Oh, okay!

MATT: And he stands and walks along with you on the side. You see both come around the corner--

ASHLEY: Oh, here! This is an oleander. Put it in a glass of milk.

MATT: "Oh my goodness, thank you so much."

ASHLEY: It would just be lovely on your desk.

MATT: "Aww."

MATT: "I will do that and think of you later."

ASHLEY: Wait, what was your name?

MATT: "Oh, my name was Keledon."

ASHLEY: Keledon.

MATT: "I am the head Warden here in the factory."

ASHLEY: God, you're such a dear.

MATT: "I try. Not as much of a deer as you, because, you know."

ASHLEY: Oh, well, I know. That was a cute joke.

MATT: "Thank you." (laughs) "What is up?" He shouts over to his men. (laughter)

MATT: "Sir, these people, the people we were talking about, they went through the door. They said it was broken."

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: "Is it broken? Do we need to fix it?" And he's like, "Wait, are these your friends?"

ASHLEY: Yes, did you get the dire wolves? The pack of dire wolves that was outside that were just ravenous.

ALL: Yes!

ASHLEY: Woo! Okay, okay, okay.

LAURA: We sent them off of the side. They fell down the side of the spire.

ASHLEY: All right, let's go.

MATT: One of the guards goes, "But there wasn't any--" and the boss is like, "Shh! Well, we thank you for your service but you are on private property. I need you to leave."

ASHLEY: We're going, we're going, we're going.

MATT: "All right. Hopefully see you again?"

ASHLEY: I think this was really fun.

MATT: "I think so, too."

ASHLEY: Okay. Next time, next time. Okay.

LIAM: You want to get that door up for the dire wolves.

MATT: "Yes." (laughter)

MATT: As you all walk out, there's silence and awkward (coughs), a cough in the distance. It's just a super tense exit as you all scuffle out into the main street and take a breath and exhale.

LAURA: You said we were going to die!

ASHLEY: Well, I thought for a second, but then he changed his mind, I guess. I just, you know, did a little, you know, "I'm not the one you're looking for" type of a thing.

LAURA: I didn't know you could do that!

SAM: Did you invent that?

ASHLEY: Yeah. (laughter)

ASHLEY: This is not the faun you're looking for.

TRAVIS: That was very well handled, I have to say. I mean, the door, it's a little concerning given how many of you there are, but the three guards, no violence.

LIAM: Well, you know, maybe in the future, we'll start with you on doors.

TRAVIS: I don't want to presume, but it could be, you know, a good idea.

TALIESIN: It would have been nice to know. I feel like it would have been nice to know, just saying.

LIAM: I didn't really know your skill set beyond toys.

TRAVIS: Oh, sorry. I should be more vocal with that. Yeah. I'm real good with locks and I got quick hands and sometimes people don't see me very much.

LAURA: That makes sense.

TRAVIS: Yeah. I remain undetected.

SAM: What about his friend Gurn? Was he in there?

LAURA: Gurge?

SAM: Gurge.

ASHLEY: We got some information on Gurge.

TRAVIS: Gurge was in there?

ASHLEY: Gurge was not in there. Gurge was not in there. He is currently being held at the tar--?

LAURA: Artana Voe.

ASHLEY: Artana Voe.

SAM: What are you reading off of?

LAURA: I was in her head.

SAM: Oh, okay.

ASHLEY: She was in my head. I was just really tuned in to Keledon.

TALIESIN: Mind, notepad.

SAM: But Gurge is elsewhere.

ASHLEY: Gurge is elsewhere and he seems to be alive and well.

SAM: Oh!

ASHLEY: But also turns into things.

LAURA: What do you mean? Like you? What do you mean turns into things?

ASHLEY: Yeah, he was just saying that he was turning into a beast of some sort.

LAURA: Oh, well maybe he's like you. Like a druid or something.

ASHLEY: He could be.

ROBBIE: What kind of beast?

ASHLEY: He didn't say.

SAM: But he said periodically, not just one transformation, right?

ASHLEY: He did, didn't he?

SAM: I'm asking. No, I really don't remember.

ASHLEY: He did. It was not all the time, but I think just when he needs to.

SAM: So he's unlike the creatures that we saw or the other guy that we found in the wall who had slowly turned into a monster? It's not him, right? It's not that kind of transformation, right?

MARISHA: Well, in his house we saw the claw marks and they looked quite big.

TRAVIS: And they're sure that he turned into this creature or someone turned him into a creature?

TALIESIN: That's an excellent point.

ASHLEY: That is an excellent point.

ROBBIE: Where is he now?

ASHLEY: There was a woman involved.

LAURA: Artana Voe.

ASHLEY: Artana Voe was her name. That wasn't the place that he was at.

SAM: Do we recognize that name?

MATT: For those who've been in the city for more than a year, which I think is just you, roll a history check.

TRAVIS: Here we go, baby.

LAURA: Come on, baby.

TALIESIN: 13.

MATT: 13. You have heard the name before. You know that Artana is a name that's hushed by those that work in criminal circles as almost like a boogeyman in places. Kind of a mercenary for hire who is known for hunting those that are hard to find and bringing them back in one piece, if wanted in one piece. That's best that you can recall.

TALIESIN: From what I know, Artana Voe's a bounty hunter, mercenary, expensive, way above my fucking pay grade. I don't think I've ever met anyone who hasn't just heard a story from somebody else. It's never crossed my path.

LIAM: So your Gurge was a bounty for one of the most badass hunters in the city.

TALIESIN: When you put it like that, that's really--

TRAVIS: I mean, he did say that, you know, people, you know, always keeping tabs on him, but I thought he might've just been paranoid. But you know, did they say that they took him to Artana Voe and now he's in custody or what?

ASHLEY: No, I think--

MATT: (laughs) To clarify-- (laughter)

ASHLEY: I got who Gurge was, but not much else. (laughter)

LIAM: Oh, just vibing.

ASHLEY: Honestly, we were having such a good conversation, I forgot it all.

MATT: Artana Voe tossed them some coin to help her in apprehending him, which they did, and then she left with him unconscious.

LAURA: So she's a bounty hunter. So she's obviously taken him to someone else, someone with a lot of money.

ROBBIE: Do we find out who put out the bounty?

LAURA: We could try that. Do you know where we would find Artana?

TALIESIN: No, but if you want to find out what sort of shit rich people are up to, you talk to rich people and we have one.

TRAVIS: We do?

LAURA: Oh, we do.

TALIESIN: We do.

ASHLEY: Oh, that's right.

LAURA: We should introduce you, for sure.

TRAVIS: I know you're fancy. Are you the rich one?

ROBBIE: No, no, no. We have a patron of sorts that we work with on occasion. Yes.

TRAVIS: Oh shit. You're sponsored.

LAURA: Is that what it-- sponsored?

ROBBIE: That's nice.

LIAM: It's been a bit since we checked in, too. He might have learned a little bit more.

LAURA: How long has it been since we checked in?

LIAM: One or two days, hasn't it?

MATT: It's been a couple of days.

LAURA: Yeah. We should check in with him.

MARISHA: Perhaps we can find the root of who has a bounty out on your brother. What? What's wrong? Why do you keep looking at him?

ROBBIE: Ah--

TRAVIS: Because it's so fucking pretty over here.

ROBBIE: It is, it is very-- Yes, you are very handsome.

TRAVIS: (trills)

ROBBIE: Hmm. That's a noise. I was wondering, how are your manners? How would you feel about meeting a lord with a short temper? Do you feel like you could be on your best behavior or--?

TRAVIS: (laughs) No. But I'm all for it. This is great. You can't tell me that one's on his best behavior.

ROBBIE: He's not as bad as he looks.

TRAVIS: Did you see them rush the door? Oh man.

ROBBIE: All right. Let's go. You've convinced me.

TRAVIS: I could also remain out of sight if it's compromising to your relationship. I don't want to put you out of any more coin.

SAM: We're still exploring the relationship, too. This is the first I've heard that we're sponsored.

LAURA: I mean, he did give us money to do things.

SAM: I guess that's true. Although when you accept sponsorships, isn't that sort of selling out a little bit?

TRAVIS: I don't know. It kind of depends. Are you a group of individuals or do you have, like, a thing?

LAURA: What do you mean, "like a thing"?

TRAVIS: I don't know. Eh, you'll figure it out. I don't have time to put you through business school. Fuck. (laughter)

LIAM: Let's hit the road.

SAM: Eshteross? Esterosh-hosh?

LAURA: Esteros.

LIAM: Worcestershire.

MARISHA: Worcestershire sauce?

LAURA: Eshteross.

MATT: This is my vengeance for Purvan and every other time you've fucked with an NPC before.

SAM: I don't know where the S-H sound goes. Eshterosh?

MATT: Eshteross.

ALL: Eshteross.

TRAVIS: Are you sure it's Esteros?

MATT: Goddamn it.

LIAM: It's not full clownery it's just half clownery.

MATT: Dick.

ALL: (mispronouncing Eshteross)

MATT: That's okay. Okay. So yes. You will be taking a cable car back. So do mark off one silver each.

MARISHA: Do they have passes for this, like a fast pass?

TALIESIN: It was fast at some point.

MATT: No. Take it up with the Quorum, guys.

TALIESIN: Man.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we'll bring it up at the next city council meeting.

TALIESIN: I would roleplay the fuck out of that.

LIAM: New direction for the campaign.

MATT: It's your story, man. Tell me where you want to go.

TALIESIN: Roll for city council.

TRAVIS: We've got an idea for some changes around here.

ASHLEY: Oh no!

LAURA: Was there anything else we needed to do in the Smolder Spire?

SAM: Imogen? Imogen? Hey, Imogen, do me a favor. Do me a favor. Close your eyes. Close your eyes and just tell me what your happy place is. That way you won't think about what's around you. Just say it out loud. Where do you think of when you think of a happy place?

LAURA: A big field full of flowers and my horse standing next to me.

SAM: Your horse. What's the horse's name?

LAURA: Flora.

SAM: Is it a big mare or a stallion? I don't know anything about

LAURA: She's a mare.

SAM: Okay. And look, we're there!

LAURA: Oh!

MATT: (heavy crashing) With a heavy impact and a mild swing, you do come to base.

MARISHA: Fillies. They're called fillies.

SAM: Sure.

LAURA: She's a filly. She's a fucking filly. (laughter) I know this.

SAM: Being a horse girl.

LAURA: Being a horse girl. Just like I hear some people named Fjord knew everything about sailing--

TRAVIS: Oh yeah?

LAURA: I know everything about horses.

ASHLEY: Oh, I've heard of that sailor.

TRAVIS: Your backstory, 100%--

LAURA: He was a famous sailor, Fjord.

TRAVIS: -- download of real world education. (laughter)

SAM: If only we knew someone knew a lot about horses that you could ask.

LIAM: One or three people. (laughter)

MATT: As you travel to a familiar space in the Core Spire, you come to the exterior of (silly emphasis) Sir Eshtoresh's-- (laughter)

MATT: -- estate.

ALL: (mispronouncing Eshteross) There, Evelyn greets you and leads you into his study, where he is currently set partially facing towards the fire, which is in a low rumble at this point and is in the process of going through a book before you hear him slam it closed, stand up and set it over on one of the nearby desks and turn around. You see for the first time, this imposing figure of a broad-shouldered, older orc man, in his later years, but carrying with him a sense of purpose and honor and intensity. As he turns, you can see the spectacles at the end of his nose as he removes them and places them in a small pocket. "Welcome. And who is this one?"

LIAM: New friend. Just made him.

TRAVIS: Do I speak? I don't want to be rude.

LAURA: This is Chetney.

SAM: Chetney Pock O'Pea.

MATT: "Chetney. I am Ariks Eshteross."

TRAVIS: Ariks Esteross.

MATT: "Eshteross."

TRAVIS: Esteross.

MATT: "That is fine."

SAM: Chetney came to us with a request to help find his friend who has the ridiculous name of Gurge. (laughter)

MARISHA: It is quite ridiculous, isn't it?

SAM: And we set about to do that and discovered that Gurge has been taken hostage by--

TALIESIN: Artana Vas.

SAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: And we don't have a way of figuring out where that came from. We thought you might know a way of figuring out where that might've come from, because that's a lot of money.

LIAM: Yeah, we're trying to follow a lot of threads and we're starting to feel a little out of sorts.

LAURA: Tangled. A little tangled.

MATT: "It is the nature of cities such as this."

SAM: Did we also update Lord Eshteross on what happened with like the wall and all that? Have we been back here?

MATT: You have not.

LIAM: No, no.

SAM: Okay, so there was also a wall and stuff happened.

TALIESIN: More inanimate objects. Fucking thing. I'm just saying.

SAM: And the theater and--

LAURA: Yeah. Oh my gosh, the wall came to life. It was this big monster with like tentacles that came out of it. We almost died.

SAM: But that was the source of the disappearing folk that you had us go investigate. So mission accomplished.

LAURA: And we found out they were connected to this family.

MARISHA: The Treshis.

LAURA: Yeah. And! And I pull out the little thing that I took from the side of it, the little orb-y thing. This is part of the thing that brought it to life. I don't know.

MATT: "(hums thoughtfully) "I do not know what this device specifically is purposed for. The Treshis are one of the more influential Mahaan houses of the city." He clasps it in his hand for a second and thinks. "So the Chandei Quorum, it is responsible for the governance of this city, has eight anonymous members amongst the multitude of Mahaan houses and guild masters and other individuals that may be on this council. But their membership is unknown, aside from one, who speaks as their mouthpiece. It has been long assumed, at least on my part, that the Treshis have at least one member within those midst. If you believe in strong proof that they are involved with these, I would be careful about spreading this information before we have some means of a path of taking them to task."

ROBBIE: How likely would it be that one guild or faction within the Treshi house could operate autonomously from the rest? Would you assume that they would all be in bed together? Could this just be one outlier or would you imagine it's the whole family?

MATT: "Both are very viable options. Obviously, I do not have a lot of face time with the other families of the city, but now that I have a place to begin asking around about, I'll see what I can muster. There is a ball of some kind in the near future. I do believe I have an invitation though I cautiously turn it down every year. Maybe it's time to make a fashionable appearance."

MARISHA: Can we go!?

MATT: His eyes narrow, intensely looking at you.

MARISHA: It just sounds fun, never been to a ball.

MATT: "I can ask."

TRAVIS: Why do you turn it down every year, your Lordship?

ROBBIE: You're doing great.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

MATT: (heavy footsteps) He walks over towards you, stands lording over you. Arms crossed, looking down. "(laughs) Get up."

TRAVIS: Get, uh, get up? Yup. (grunts)

MATT: "No need to grovel at my feet, please. It makes me uncomfortable."

TRAVIS: Sorry.

LAURA: He's normally a lot more--

LIAM: Opinionated.

LAURA: -- than this. Yeah. That's a good word for it.

TRAVIS: We just met. That's pretty presumptuous. I think.

ROBBIE: You were doing so good.

TRAVIS: I'm trying to do my best for my boy here.

ROBBIE: You're doing great! You're doing great.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

SAM: What kind of ball is it? Is it a celebration of some sort of day, holiday or remembrance or something?

MATT: "Not a specific holiday. It is meant to be an annual social greet for the upper crust of the city. It is a place for business guilds to meet those who have come into power, to talk of those who have vanished from power, and to consolidate the interests of the coming year."

SAM: Wow.

TRAVIS: Pretty highfalutin.

MARISHA: Sounds like a racket.

MATT: "I hate such events, but this is too curious a threat not to target. By the way, I have heard back from the Lumas house. With a bit of a day or two of lead time upon it, The Anger will meet with you."

LIAM: Oh, excellent. I appreciate you making the effort for me.

MATT: "Now, you said Artana, yes?"

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: He turns around and walks up to one of the separate shelves on the other side of the room. He begins to pick through before pulling a book down and begins flipping through pages. "I keep tabs on persons of interest in this city. Your Gurge is not unknown to me."

LAURA: (gasps)

TRAVIS: Oh!

MATT: "It is hard not to be aware of an individual that walks with such superstition surrounding him."

TRAVIS: Superstitions?

MATT: "Wild man hunter that sleeps on the outskirts of the city by himself, known to be a great hunter of beasts and comes into town to trade his wares often. The people in the Steps below think highly of him. Those in the city itself stay wary. This Artana, while I do not know where they stay, they have a sister. Her name is Preio Madali."

LAURA: Say that again?

MATT: "Preio Madali."

TRAVIS: P-R-E-Y-O?

MATT: P-R-E-I-O.

MARISHA: Preio Madodda?

MATT: Madali.

MARISHA: Madali.

SAM: Preio Madali.

MATT: "She is one of the partial owners and common purveyor and manager of the Soot and Swill Tavern."

SAM: Ooh! The Soot and Swill. We heard about that. That's in the Smolder Spire.

MATT: "That is correct."

LAURA: Oh, we were just there.

MARISHA: We got to pay another damn toll.

LAURA: It cost so much money to get around.

TALIESIN: I said we should go there.

MARISHA: You should tell the Chandei Quorum to have, like, a fast pass type of situation or some sort of like, you know, locals pass.

SAM: At least a 10-pack.

LAURA: Yeah, like a totem. Some sort of token you can put on your shirt that shows that you're good to go without having to--

ROBBIE: A turnstile, maybe.

LAURA: Yeah, or that.

ROBBIE: I saw that, with the hands.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ROBBIE: (beeps)

MATT: "If this upcoming event manages to transpire and I'm able to get any of you in as a compatriot, maybe you can present it yourself."

ASHLEY: (gasps) That could be our business presentation.

LAURA: Oh yeah, that's good.

MARISHA: That's a good idea.

LIAM: Do we have to think about attire for this event?

MATT: "Wait until I have any confirmation."

SAM: He probably only gets like a plus one, so.

LAURA: Yeah. Doubt he can bring everyone, right?

ROBBIE: Yeah, I doubt it. You probably couldn't swing that, huh?

LAURA: That'd probably be really difficult to get a whole group in.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

MATT: "I have not been, I can try."

LAURA: Just bring a whole entourage with you. We can all do something for you. We can pretend that we're working for you in different ways, you know?

MARISHA: I think it's a good idea. All dress in a uniform.

LIAM: Entourage.

SAM: Or Imogen, you could wear, like, a-- No, Fearne could wear a big, hoopy-type skirt, and me and Chetney and Orym could all fit underneath probably.

LAURA: That's true!

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ROBBIE: You could stack on each other's shoulders and wear a big coat.

MARISHA: You're just describing the Nutcracker. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I mean, I did get that dress from the theater.

LAURA: Oh, that's true.

MATT: "(heavy sigh)"

TRAVIS: Do you trust the people at this ball? I mean, are there any associates of yours that you put faith in?

MATT: "I have allies in the city, yes. There are good people at the top. I just do not make a habit of being seen in public."

TRAVIS: Well, if you know, if it was of interest, too, doesn't have to be entirely a favor. I mean, some of us could sneak around, maybe eavesdrop for you, see what's being said.

MATT: "It is going to be a challenge to get approval for eight people who have been unseen, unintroduced, and do not have much to bring to this event."

TRAVIS: I wouldn't need approval. I'd just need your say so.

MATT: "What is your skillset, if I might ask, small sir?"

TRAVIS: I like to skirt in here and there without detection. And you know, I just-- hear what I can hear. Sometimes people don't pay attention to the little folk.

SAM: You know what? I think he's selling himself a little short. He's also a master woodworker. And around here at this establishment of yours, you might have some projects for him that you might want him to take a look at.

LAURA: That is true.

MATT: "That is good to know."

TRAVIS: I do love working with wood.

MATT: "Well. I shall keep this in mind the next time I require furniture. When it comes to this event, I will do my best. In the meantime, I wish I had more information on this Artana individual, but as you said, they do carry a high price, so. My curiosity is certainly piqued."

LAURA: Do you have any idea what they look like?

MATT: He looks back at the tome and glances a bit. "They are uniya, elf-orc. 'Piercing light brown eyes' is the only note I have here."

LAURA: Beautiful.

SAM: At the Sit and Swill.

LAURA: The Soot and Swill.

MATT: "The sister is at the Soot and Swill."

MARISHA: Oh, I thought it was Sit and Swill.

SAM: I thought it was Sit and Swill, it's not Sit and Swill?

MATT: Soot and Swill.

SAM: Soot and Swill.

ASHLEY: Soot and Swill. I apologize.

MARISHA: It's a town where everything's--

MATT: Uniya is the term for the half-orc/half-elf.

TALIESIN: She works the bar.

ROBBIE: Oh, that's a-- okay. Half-orc, half-elf.

SAM: Okay.

MARISHA: You eat, and you can sit. And then you drink. Swill.

LIAM: DM, sorry, just to back a bit.

MATT: Yes.

LIAM: Did Ariks, for the family-- Did he say a family name?

MATT: Yeah, the Lumas.

LIAM: Lumas. Thank you.

LAURA: Oh, for the--?

LIAM: For, yes, for The Anger.

MATT: Yeah. He was hired by the Lumas, the twins that were supposedly attacked.

LIAM: And the meeting's being worked on.

MATT: Yes. It just needs a day or two heads-up, so they can arrange it. It's not like a drop-in type circumstance, but with enough heads up, he can have it arranged.

LAURA: Do you want to give him a day?

LIAM: When's this ball?

MATT: "It's a little over a week from now."

LIAM: Oh, I don't want to wait 'til after that. I guess at their earliest convenience, if that's all right.

MATT: "Certainly. I will go ahead and set something up and let you know when it's confirmed."

LIAM: Is it all right if I bring my friends?

MATT: "You may have to take that up with the--"

LIAM: The family.

MATT: "-- the family who remains of it. At least whoever is stewarding the family for now."

LIAM: Understood.

TRAVIS: Could I ask one more question? Just because you hear rumors and stuff.

MATT: "Yes, small sir?"

TRAVIS: Gurge, you said he goes out into the Wilds. You wouldn't happen to know whereabouts, maybe?

MATT: "Not specifically. No."

TRAVIS: Oh. Okay. Thank you.

MATT: "My apologies."

MARISHA: I also have a question.

MATT: "Yes, scary one."

MARISHA: Who-- Hmm! Who puts out bounties? Like, who controls that? Is that the Wilders, or is that the Quorum, or is that families? Who does that?

MATT: "Honestly, all of the above. Bounties are placed from all different sources. Some are business-related. Some are personal. Some of it is from the wealthy elite. Some of it is from the everyday individual with vengeance on the mind or a particular business interest that might suit them. Some bounties are placed openly in various places of gathering. Others are placed through whisper networks. Others are shared amongst the Elder's Post and other such spaces where the more dubious members of the city often frequent. It can vary. For someone like Artana, they were likely requested directly."

MARISHA: And what about the Treshis?

MATT: "I'm certain they have put up many bounties in the past."

ROBBIE: Would they have the influence and funds to put up a bounty, an exorbitant bounty, say, 20,000 gold?

MATT: "Easily. They have three guilds under their house name. They have quite a bit in their coffers, I am certain."

LAURA: Is that high for a bounty, or is that about average?

MATT: "Whoever it is has certainly made someone very angry, but I've heard of higher."

SAM: Well, it being the time of day that it is, maybe we can scoot back over to the Soot and Swill or unless it's one o'clock in the morning and I just don't know.

MATT: No, no, no, no, no. It's mid-afternoon, I'd say, between travel to and from, and asking around, and the previous encounter at the Smolder Spire, yeah.

LAURA: All right.

LIAM: That's a good use of time.

ROBBIE: One last question, before I go, I'm sorry.

MATT: "That's okay."

ROBBIE: The substance we gave you from our encounter with Dugger.

MATT: "Yes."

ROBBIE: Did you happen to find any more information on that, by any chance?

MATT: "I haven't heard anything yet. I have an occasional associate I work with who is an accomplished alchemist, who has at least confirmed it is indeed brumestone, as suspected. Though such things in such a small array is very rare and often nearly exclusively controlled by the Alsfarin Union of Ank'Harel."

LAURA: That was the dust.

MATT: "Yes."

LAURA: Didn't we give you a vial of a slime, too?

MATT: "Mm."

ROBBIE: That's what I meant.

MATT: "Oh, my apologies."

ROBBIE: My apologies.

MATT: "Nothing back on that yet."

LAURA: Our apologies. Everyone's just so sorry.

TRAVIS: Not me. (laughter)

LIAM: So about the jizz.

MATT: "Nothing back yet."

ROBBIE: Thank you.

LAURA: (laughs) Anyway, about the jizz. (laughter)

ROBBIE: About the vial of jizz we--

MATT: "Thank you for your time. Do you require anything else of me?"

MARISHA: Do you require anything of us, those that you sponsor?

SAM: Well. I mean.

MATT: "Sponsor?"

MARISHA: I don't know. I'm just tossing it out.

MATT: "Hmm. Well. We'll see how the coming times ahead do. So far, you've proven quite the capable allies. Now, stay safe. Don't get in too deep."

LAURA: Thank you.

SAM: Ah--

TRAVIS: Do we walk backwards first a few steps and then turn?

ROBBIE: You just-- yeah.

TRAVIS: Okay. Thank you!

LAURA: Sorry. Last thing.

MATT: As everyone else is leaving.

LAURA: I'm sorry.

MATT: "Yes?"

LAURA: I just remembered. Have you had a chance to talk to the Starlight Academy? Have you sent a letter already, or--? I just didn't want to go there and they not know that we're--

MATT: "Thank you for the reminder. I will get on that immediately."

LAURA: Thank you.

MATT: "Not to worry. My apologies, things have been a bit busy."

LAURA: Hectic. Yeah.

MATT: Evelyn sees you back out. The city is yours.

TRAVIS: Holy shit! You guys are into some stuff! I heard about families. You're after some guy named The Hanger. You want to go to the Starlight Academy?

LAURA: Well, I don't want to go there. We would like to visit there. They don't allow outsiders to look at their library.

TRAVIS: Oh, I've been in there.

LAURA: What?

MARISHA: How?

TALIESIN: Insight check.

TRAVIS: Nah, I'm fucking with you. No, I haven't been. You don't have to! I'm lying!

TALIESIN: You're fucking lying. (laughter)

TRAVIS: This is crazy. Who's The Hanger?

LIAM: The Hangry. The Anger is someone who-- He's a warrior here in the city who has some information. Yeah, you had a little, just a little drop.

TRAVIS: They just fall out, these bats and these caves. Boy, the bacon's the worst. The ones that hurt.

LIAM: Yeah. The sharp ones?

TRAVIS: Yeah. Makes the eyes water.

TALIESIN: Save me.

LIAM: He's a friend of a friend of a friend from overseas. I'm trying to find him.

TRAVIS: Oh.

LIAM: We all... Most of us weren't together a week ago. You're a new arrival to a new group.

TRAVIS: Well, I feel very lucky.

ROBBIE: It is true though. We have, as you said, wandered into some shit or however you put it. I know we're trying to help you, but... You might be in for it too if you stick with us.

TRAVIS: I can be of service. I'm capable. Just watch me get into a fight, hoo!

LIAM: You really want to find this Gurge?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LIAM: That's still the priority?

TRAVIS: Well, yeah. Otherwise, I'm just here.

MARISHA: Did you know anything about him being beastly at times?

TRAVIS: He was a mess. Oof! The odor on him. Oh my god! My hair had a good, vibrant color to it. Now it's just white. It's not at all because I'm 200 and up.

LAURA: 200 and up?

TRAVIS: I don't know. I stopped counting after 101. Because what's the point?

ROBBIE: I'm still so confused. The nature of your relationship with this Gurge. Who is he to you?

TRAVIS: A master craftsman. Well, at least someone with the hookup.

SAM: To a master craftsman?

TRAVIS: Yeah. He didn't have a lot of nice stuff in his place so I got a little suspicious of that part. He seemed to be in the know.

LAURA: But he's a hunter?

TRAVIS: Yeah, seems like it.

LIAM: And a wanted man.

SAM: If you don't find him, you're trying to find a master craftsman to work for, to apprentice for?

TRAVIS: I would peddle my skills, but anything to survive. Survival of the fittest in this world. I got to do whatever it takes.

SAM: I've heard, but it sounds like you really want to survive by woodworking.

TRAVIS: Sure. I love working with wood. (laughter)

SAM: Should we get you some... some wood?

TRAVIS: I pull out a little twig. I got this one I was just whittling on it while we were taking the cable car thingy.

ASHLEY: What's your favorite type of wood to work with?

TRAVIS: Ooh! Well, oak is very strong but it's not very pliant. I like cherry wood.

LIAM: What's that going to be?

TRAVIS: This one? This is not preview night, okay, Orym? There's no sneak peeks!

LIAM: We want to get a peek of something!

TRAVIS: No! You got to wait! You got to earn these things!

LAURA: We haven't even given him--

TRAVIS: These kids! There's no patience these days!

ROBBIE: He's not an actual child.

TRAVIS: Instant gratification! (laughter)

LIAM: I'm two inches taller than you!

ASHLEY: You said you're 200 and up and then 101? How--

SAM: He said he stopped counting after 101.

TRAVIS: Yeah, hundo plus.

ASHLEY: How old do you feel?

TRAVIS: Oh... I don't know. Sometimes I feel older than time itself, and other times I just feel like everything's so new. I could be in my younger 20s.

ASHLEY: That's wonderful. Time is something that... It's a construct that man uses to define change. Be whatever age you want. I guess.

LAURA: Is time different in the Fey realm?

ASHLEY: Maybe. I don't really know.

LAURA: Oh.

ASHLEY: I think it just is what it is.

LAURA: Oh. I heard stories.

ASHLEY: What'd you hear?

LAURA: I just heard stories about, you can't ever tell what time of day it is. Things happen when you come and go from there. Years have gone by! It only feels like a couple minutes for you.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

LAURA: (gasps) Oh my god!

LIAM: Look at the pig!

ASHLEY: Werthering Heights? Oh my god.

LIAM: The pig is in Werther's!

TRAVIS: That is unapproved. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Blur it!

MARISHA: Unofficial, not a sponsor.

LIAM: Yet.

TRAVIS: Oh my god.

MARISHA: Yet.

LAURA: Did it have glue on it? Did you take it off and it had glue?

SAM: Little bit.

TRAVIS: It's non toxic!

TALIESIN: They're old. Send a telegram.

ASHLEY: Oh, well, yes. I think that can happen. Sometimes I get a little bit confused with time because maybe it's just where I'm from, but I don't know, just take things day by day.

LAURA: So do you know how old you are in Exandrian years?

ASHLEY: 112.

LAURA: Wow! That's amazing!

ASHLEY: Yes, 112. That's my age, but I feel... I feel about 732.

ROBBIE: Whoa.

TRAVIS: That's the opposite.

MARISHA: Wiser.

ASHLEY: Wiser, of course, but also sometimes younger, I guess everybody feels that way though, sometimes.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I don't even know why I care, but how old is the monkey?

ASHLEY: Oh. Mister?

MATT: (hooting)

ASHLEY: How old are you?

MATT: (confused hoot) (retches)

ASHLEY: Let's say--

LAURA: That landed on my-- Okay.

ASHLEY: Oh dear.

TALIESIN: That was better than what I was expecting, I'll be honest, that went better than I hoped.

ASHLEY: How old do you want to be?

LIAM: He's pretty smart.

MATT: (panting)

ROBBIE: Mister, Mister, do you remember when--

TRAVIS: Mister Mister.

ROBBIE: (laughs) Mister Mister! Do you remember when you were birthed out of the ground? Do you remember when Fearne delivered you into this world?

MATT: (excited hooting)

ROBBIE: Okay. Okay. So how old are you? Can you tap it out?

TRAVIS: Yeah, there we go, yeah. Like the counting horse.

TALIESIN: Did you see Star Wars in a theater? (laughter)

ASHLEY: That's always the best measurement for age.

MATT: (chittering) Curls off of her, gets on the ground. Picks up a hand and looks at you and goes to knock and goes-- (chittering)

MARISHA: Did you get that?

ROBBIE: I understood absolutely nothing.

MARISHA: All right.

ASHLEY: Oh, tell me.

MATT: He tells you, "Since you found me," essentially.

ASHLEY: Okay, so since we found him, but he was probably already who he was before this. Somewhere else, maybe, so let's make you... Let's make you 42?

LAURA: That's a great number.

ASHLEY: Younger, older?

MATT: (unsure hooting)

ASHLEY: I'm going to make you younger. Let's make you... Let's make you seven.

MATT: (excited screaming)

ASHLEY: He likes that. He's seven years old.

TALIESIN: It works.

LIAM: Are we giving out ages?

MATT: Curls back under your hair.

ASHLEY: Scritchy scritchies.

MATT: So where are you heading to?

LAURA: Oh, right.

TALIESIN: I've already taken that silver out my pocket.

MATT: All right, another silver from all of you.

LAURA: Why? Why?

TALIESIN: Death by a thousand coins.

LAURA: Just exposure.

TALIESIN: Just got to have a nickel on you.

MATT: Look, the Quorum's got to make its money somehow.

LAURA: Yeah. I'm going to be a master at this after--

SAM: Yeah, you're doing it again and again.

ASHLEY: Oh no!

SAM: Oh no, oh no.

TRAVIS: What's that?

ASHLEY: The car's a-moving!

TRAVIS: Oh god.

TALIESIN: Can you shame a fear of heights out of somebody? I'm so fucking curious.

ASHLEY: We'll see.

TRAVIS: I have a question. I think you were talking about your brother, right? And asking about the bounties. Are you worried that if we find Artana Voe or Preio Madali, Medala?

ALL: Madali.

TRAVIS: Madali. That they might recognize your face and take you as collateral?

LAURA: Oh, what if it's the same bounty hunter?

ROBBIE: Chetney, I actually hadn't thought of that. That's very smart.

ASHLEY: I hadn't thought of that either.

ROBBIE: Huh.

MARISHA: Should we disguise you?

TRAVIS: We could maim you.

ROBBIE: No, thank you.

TALIESIN: I think you're going to find the vibe here to be a little more chill than that. If it comes to things, this is the sort of place that gets resolved in a brawl. I don't think it's really going to be that big of a problem. It's a nice place. Well, no, it's not. It's my kind of nice place. It's my kind of nice place.

MARISHA: When was the last time you've been?

TALIESIN: I don't know, I got kicked out for something.

MARISHA: Oh!

LAURA: Perfect.

TALIESIN: I don't remember. I was very drunk at the time but I did get kicked out, but it didn't seem personal. No, I don't think so. I don't remember. It wasn't personal. I would've heard.

MARISHA: We still have to dive into whatever is going on with you.

MATT: (rumbles) You come to rest at the bottom of the cable. Exiting once more into the Smolder Spiler. The (garbled) Spire. Sorry, I've been day drinking over here while you've been role playing. Spiralerler! (laughs) The familiar smell of the somewhat soot-dappled air greets you as you step out into the open afternoon sky. The faint mist is still lingering over the city from the cold morning and you can see a bit of a darkened possible storm front is on its way in the distance. But you go ahead and follow your genasi friend here to the Soot and Swill Tavern. The outside of it, you can see it looks to definitely be a tavern though it looks like it's in a bit disrepair and the wood, while it looks like it's definitely modeled to have a dark, almost burnt-umber-to-black wood coloration, the closer you get, you realize it's just over time been turned to a blackish color from the surrounding atmosphere. There's actually almost a charcoal scent to the air surrounding it. Perhaps it may have burned at some point and was salvaged. But as you begin to make your way towards the front of it--

SAM: ♪ Making my way ♪

MATT: Hmm.

LAURA: First of the year.

MATT: There it is, yay. You can already hear a low, rhythmic drum beat, coming from the inside. Someone is playing a low undertone of music throughout the chamber as you hear laughter and the clinking of metallic implements of eating and drinking. You can hear banter and shouts and the occasional grumble. There, across the way you can see the circular edge of the bar where a couple of patrons are currently leaning over and talking amongst themselves as they gather their drinks by whoever's serving them. As you step inside, the smell in here is strong of old stained wood, ale, charcoal and ancient burned interior, and just an undercurrent of faintly-bathed individuals that have come in here during their work break or a day off. You can see most of the folks in here look like they're standard working-class folk. Some of them maybe have come off of a mining shift and you can see the bit of soot and dark black dust that has gathered around their fingers and elbows and the outside of their face where their masks had come off. They're all enjoying a bit of late afternoon merriment before they go to rest, go to work, or go home.

MARISHA: Looks like it's happy hour.

TALIESIN: I make my way straight to the bar.

ALL: ♪ Makin' my way! ♪

TALIESIN: Thank you.

LAURA: I'm going to stay by the door.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: ♪ Stayin' away ♪

MATT: Are the rest of you staying back with Imogen?

SAM: I'll hang with Ashton, if that's all right.

MATT: Okay.

ROBBIE: I'm going to hang back with Imogen, yeah.

MATT: Okay. So it's just the two of you or is anybody going with them?

ASHLEY: I'll go up with them.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: I'm going to stick with my man, Chetney.

MARISHA: And I'll stick with Imogen.

MATT: Okay. Got it. So the three of you begin travel through the center. Some people glance over and give you that look of like, "Oh, I've seen this guy around here once or twice." The two of you definitely draw some stares as you step through here. Some of the folks stop their conversations and glance over, most of the eyes on you as you come rolling through. Someone leans forward with an intense look and just takes a deep swig before setting the drink back down.

MARISHA: I just, once again, do my thing where I poke into their vision.

MATT: Trailing behind them? The person goes about their business and quickly ignores what they were doing.

TALIESIN: That's my new favorite thing.

MATT: The three of you head over towards the bar. You can see the semicircle that is open on each side and behind it, there is a large offset series of shelves for all sort of dark glass bottles and tankards and glasses. Some of them dirtier than others, you can see a whole stack of kegs and taps all set up to the side. They're in the middle of the people that are chatting at the edge of it, leaning onto the point. You can see the purveyor of it is a female uniya in her 30s or so, you can see dark brown hair that in places has streaks of a deep red. It comes forward down heavily in the front over this side of the face. Then on the back it's just pulled over the ear and tied. They're in the process of having a lively conversation with another patron as they go ahead and start filling a few glasses. As soon as they begin going into roaring laughter, she glances over towards you and goes, "You're back again, huh?"

TALIESIN: Yeah. How bad was it last time?

MATT: "Wasn't great."

TALIESIN: How expensive of a bottle would I need to buy to make it great?

MATT: Checks under the counter for something. "That one." Points over to one of the shelves and you could see there is a finer, a stack of smooth baubles that create a singular little wine bottle of sorts. Though it is not wine. There are elements of gold filigree around it and it looks of elvish make. Imported, definitely.

TALIESIN: Fuck me! Oh.

LIAM: Syngorn.

ASHLEY: How much is it?

MATT: "85."

ASHLEY: I have just the thing. I have just the thing, actually.

MATT: "Do you? Hi, by the way, who are you? You're adorable."

ASHLEY: Oh, hi, I'm Fearne.

MATT: "Fearne, what'll you be having to drink?"

ASHLEY: That bottle. I'm going to reach over--

SAM: Oh god.

ASHLEY: -- put my hand on the small of Ashton's back and I'm going to unclip the Allhammer earring that he stole from me.

TALIESIN: Let's roll, motherfucker.

ASHLEY: Let's Rollies?

MATT: Perception check.

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Sleight of hand check.

LIAM: Rollies!

ASHLEY and MARISHA: Rollies!

TRAVIS: Keeping what's important up front.

ROBBIE: Let's go.

SAM: I'm going to perception check this, too.

TALIESIN: Want to do this on the count of three?

LAURA: She already rolled-- oh.

TALIESIN: I rolled, too. Want to both say on the count of three?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

ASHLEY and TALIESIN: One, two, three.

ASHLEY: 19.

TALIESIN: Nine.

LAURA: (gasps)

SAM: Oh!

MATT: It is yours.

ASHLEY: This should suffice, I think. It's from the Allhammer. It was from my great-great- great-great grandfather.

MATT: Make a deception check.

MARISHA: Holy shit!

TRAVIS: Great-great-great- great-great grandfather! That's some record keeping you've got there.

ASHLEY: 15.

MATT: 15, okay.

ASHLEY: I mean, this is worth much more than the bottle, but I don't want to carry it around, it's big.

MATT: "Your great grandfather was a pachydan?"

ASHLEY: Mm-hmm. (wheezing laughter)

MATT: "Who am I to question it? This is a very fine piece. However, if we're in the business of pawning here, I'm just going to say there is a level of take on this. I'll knock off half the price, but say another 40 gold and we're square."

TALIESIN: I'm going to give 50 gold. I might be a little more annoying before the night is over, I just want to start the apology now.

MATT: "That's fine, I got plenty more bottles for you to buy before the night's done."

TALIESIN: Fuck me.

MATT: Shifts it forward towards you.

TALIESIN: Better be fucking be great.

MATT: "It's all right."

TALIESIN: (sighs)

SAM: We're going to have a great evening here tonight, miss. By the way, my name is Fresh Cut Grass, smiley day to you. Your name, for the next time we need a refill, was?

MATT: "Whose is this?"

TALIESIN: They're kind of their own. I've been making some friends, and-- I know, I'm aware of--

MATT: "You made friends!"

TALIESIN: I'm aware of how that sounds.

MATT: "We'll see how long that lasts for the rest of you, but sure! But wait. I just haven't seen one that talks before."

TALIESIN: Yeah, they just do what they're going to do.

SAM: I just start spinning around in a circle.

TALIESIN: They're doing that right now.

MATT: "(laughs)" Other patrons begin to, "(laughs) Great!" They're throwing some copper on the ground around you.

SAM: Thank you! Oh, copper, oh!

TALIESIN: They're professionally likable. I don't know what else to say.

MATT: "Well, at least one of you is. Two of you, my apologies."

ASHLEY: Oh, it's really fine.

SAM: No, go-- I was just wanting to know your name, so we could be sure to flag you down to tip more later.

MATT: "I'm Preio. This is my establishment. I've got a few tables that are open. Just don't... Well, don't do anything he tells you."

TALIESIN: No problem. All right.

SAM: Thank you kindly!

TALIESIN: Taking the bottle, taking some glasses.

MATT: "Wait, does it drink, too?"

TALIESIN: No. Well, kind of, no. I'll show you later if things go well. It's actually pretty entertaining.

MATT: "Okay, you know where to find me."

SAM: I spin the other way and go away.

MATT: "All right, what can I get you?" Begins dealing with another customer that's walked in since your conversation.

LAURA: Did we see all that happen?

MATT: From a distance, yeah.

TRAVIS and MARISHA: ♪ From a distance ♪

TALIESIN: So, much like a shitty day at Disneyland, we're going to claim a table as quickly as possible.

SAM: Hey! Mission accomplished, we already found her.

TALIESIN: So I've done my best to smooth over any previous engagements, so we're kind of at a neutral point now.

LIAM: Broke even?

TALIESIN: More or less. I tried to start things, so that when things inevitably go poorly, we have somewhere to go, but yeah. Have a drink when you're ready. Somebody who she doesn't already kind of hate should go over there and have a conversation.

MARISHA: Why don't we send her a shot of this? You know, lubricate her.

ASHLEY: That's a very good idea.

MARISHA: Toast with her.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah! We can all raise a glass and she can raise it and then she can get drunk and we can ask her questions.

SAM: I can bring it over to her, she seemed enamored by me.

TRAVIS: In my experience, you know, people that work at bars have really strong constitutions. They can just drink and drink and drink with all the assholes late into the morning and be just fine.

LAURA: That's true.

TALIESIN: Can confirm.

TRAVIS: But it's a good gesture.

SAM: Yeah, would be nice either way.

LAURA: Yeah. Make her like us a little bit more, right? This is expensive shit. How often does she get to drink this?

TRAVIS: That's true.

LAURA: Why am I cussing so much with y'all?

TALIESIN: Okay, I got to try this shit. I want to see what I bought.

TRAVIS: "Why am I cussing?"

ASHLEY: (like Imogen) "Why am I cussing?"

TALIESIN: I have that effect on people.

MATT: It's sweeter than what you like usually, but it's not bad. It's definitely stronger than you're expecting, at least from what the bottle seems to let on. It'll definitely get the job done, if maybe spike your sugar intake for the evening.

TALIESIN: That's the worst money I've ever spent. Yeah. Give her some.

LIAM: I'm super curious.

LAURA: I know.

LIAM: Pour me a glass?

LAURA: Is there markings on this or anything, so we can see what it is?

MATT: Do you read Elvish?

LAURA: No.

MATT: There are markings on it.

MARISHA: Actually, I can read it.

LAURA: You can?

MARISHA: I can.

TRAVIS: It says drink me!

LAURA: What does it say?

MARISHA: It says, and you see Laudna's eyes go (zoom) white with a greenish glow-ish tint to it.

TALIESIN: Never going to get fucking over that. That's the fucking best.

MARISHA: As I read it.

LIAM: Disney crosseyed.

TALIESIN: It's been a while since I've seen that, it's great!

MATT: It is an elf-based deep plum wine liquor that is based out of the Gladepools of Tal'Dorei.

LAURA: Oh, the Gladepools!

MARISHA: Plum wine from Tal'Dorei.

LAURA: Fancy. I'll just pour little drinks for everyone around the table.

TRAVIS: Thank you!

LAURA: You're welcome.

ROBBIE: Sweet!

LAURA: Hey, who paid for this? This is not a cheap... Was that you, Ashton?

ASHLEY: Ashton did.

TALIESIN: I did.

LAURA: Thank you, Ashton.

SAM: Ashton had a little bit of help, though, over here from Fearne.

ASHLEY: I actually didn't pay anything.

LAURA: Oh really?

SAM: You gave a trinket, didn't you?

ASHLEY: Oh, yeah, but I don't think that's worth anything.

LAURA: A trinket? Oh, is that what you reached for on his back?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: I'll bring it, I'm going over.

MARISHA: All right.

SAM: (whirring)

TRAVIS: That's what happens when glucose gets you. (laughter)

SAM: Preio? Pardon me?

MATT: "Oh, hey there, yeah."

SAM: Compliments of our table, we wanted you to have this little taster.

MATT: "Oh goodness, look at that. Thank you so much. That's sweet, that's really sweet."

SAM: I don't know if you're allowed to enjoy on-duty. You are, you are.

TRAVIS: Goosh! Killing it. No problem.

SAM: How is it?

TRAVIS: Woof!

MATT: "I mean, it's-- It probably does better when you have a cough, but I'm doing all right for now."

SAM: Oh, it's syrupy or something?

MATT: "I think it'll help with a cough, that's what I mean. It was good, I'm not trying to talk down."

SAM: Are you hurt? Are you okay?

MATT: "I appreciate the offer, it's a very sweet gesture."

SAM: Excellent.

MATT: "Can I get you anything?"

SAM: Oh, no, I don't consume any beverages. We're just here, we're just here. We're looking for somebody.

MATT: "Oh. Well, who are you looking for, little man?"

SAM: Oh, well we were-- Oh boy. We were, you know what? I'll just cut to the chase and be honest with you, if that's all right, because you know, yeah. We were actually trying to find a relative of yours, a relation.

MATT: "Oh?"

SAM: Yeah. I think her name is Artana?

MATT: "Yeah, I don't know where Artana is these days."

SAM: Oh, Artana Voe.

MATT: "Yeah." (laughter)

MATT: "Yeah, yeah, no, I mean, you know, she gets around. Not a relative of mine, but I haven't seen her around in a while."

SAM: Not a relative of yours? Huh.

MATT: "No, no, no. Madali's my name. Artana Voe is different."

SAM: Oh. Okay. Okay. Because we had just heard that she was your sister and so I guess the fellow who told us that lead us astray, is that right?

MATT: "Seems to be, yeah. You know. People get things wrong all the time. Just because we're both uniya, doesn't mean we're necessarily related."

SAM: Sure, yeah. I guess we should just never assume, huh?

MATT: "Yeah, for the best."

SAM: Because when you assume you, you make an um of asses.

MATT: "That's how it goes, that one, yeah."

SAM: All right. Well, if you find out where she is, let us know, we'll be over there drinking.

MATT: "Of course, yeah. No worries, if I see her around."

SAM: Okay.

MATT: "Nice." Your passive insight is pretty decent. As you're asking these questions, the first time it comes up, and then later when it comes up, you can't help but catch Preio just quickly looking over towards the kitchen and then back to you. Then back to the kitchen and back to you. Definitely seems to be a little tight in the physical position than when you first approached.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: Before relaxing once more as you head off.

SAM: Well, she liked the drink.

LAURA: Oh, good!

SAM: And then I asked her about her sister, and she claimed--

LAURA: Oh, straight up, just like that?

SAM: Yeah, well, I panicked. So I just did it. And-- She doesn't know where she is, and claimed not to be related to her.

LAURA: And you believed her?

SAM: No, not exactly. I got a little something. She kept looking over to the kitchen. Now, either she's really hungry, or there's someone in the kitchen that maybe she's worried about us seeing.

LAURA: I'm going to side glance to the kitchen. Do I see anyone? Side glance.

MATT: You can see the kitchen door, which is, if the bar is on the far left hand corner as you enter, the kitchen door's on the right hand side on the far back wall. Same space where the bar is, but it's partially ajar.

ROBBIE: Is it one of those swinging doors, a back and forth, for heavy traffic? People going in and out?

MATT: No, it looks like it closes. It's a normal door.

LAURA: Can I see anybody moving on the other side if it's partially open?

MATT: Make a perception check.

LAURA: Oh! 14.

MATT: 14?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Not too bad. Looking in, you don't see anybody but you can occasionally, through the din of the interior chamber here, hear the sound of a pan. Something breaks and you hear, "Shit!" But there's a person in there, at the very least.

LAURA: Okay.

ROBBIE: Chetney.

TRAVIS: Yeah?

ROBBIE: Do you think you could make it into that door without anyone seeing?

TRAVIS: Oh, no problem. Do you want me to get in there and see what's what?

ROBBIE: Not my choice to make, but--

LAURA: I mean, remember there could be a very skilled bounty hunter on the other side of the door, so--

TRAVIS: What do I look like?

LAURA: I don't know, are you a skilled bounty hunter?

TRAVIS: You don't know. I've lived lifetimes.

LAURA: That's true.

TRAVIS: Here's another idea, though, just in case this goes tits up. We could always put a bounty out on Ashton and make them come to us.

LAURA: Oh yeah.

SAM: You mean, talk to the barkeep and say that we want--

TRAVIS: We need somebody found, mm-hmm. Then we lie in wait.

ROBBIE: You want to use our friend Ashton as bait?

TRAVIS: Well, I'm pretty good at reading people, and it seems like they're down for pretty much fucking anything.

LAURA: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Well, now I'm conflicted, fuck.

TRAVIS: It's a good tease, huh?

TALIESIN: I was about to be--

TRAVIS: Anyway--

TALIESIN: -- really angry about that.

TRAVIS: You ready to go to this room?

LAURA: Right now, just right now?

TRAVIS: Well, yeah.

LAURA: All right.

SAM: We can get a little demonstration of Chetney's skills.

TRAVIS: I go invisible.

SAM: Oh, oh shit!

MATT: You watch as Chetney vanishes before your eyes in an instant.

MARISHA: Fun.

TALIESIN: Well--

TRAVIS: Peace out, bitches. And I slap Dorian in the face. (laughter)

LAURA: Don't you become un-invisible when you attack? (laughter)

ROBBIE: It's a caress, it's a caress.

TALIESIN: I'm going to walk to the bar, then, and get up and try and get some attention.

MATT: "What do you want?"

TALIESIN: That was an apology bottle. Now I need something I can actually drink.

MATT: "Noted, all right."

TALIESIN: Something-- Yeah, what do you-- something with some burn. I can't get the plum out of my fucking mouth.

MATT: "Fair enough." and goes ahead and starts going through, looking back over the shoulder at you, seeing what would be considered your type, but also, "It looks like you came into some money recently. At least the way you brazenly walked in here. I'll find you something proper."

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: Begins glancing through. While you're doing that.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: Roll a stealth check with advantage.

TRAVIS: 17.

MATT: 17. You skirt across the floor. You can see some individuals stand up and start making their way towards the exit. You cross past and dodge out of the way, darting through, behind where Ashton is, the bar over to the edge of the far right corner of the back part of the chamber. There you see the door partially ajar and you scoot in. Immediately the room is about 10 degrees warmer and you can see above you, there are counters and tabletops. There is a stone slab across one way. You can hear the sizzling of some sort of meat cooking. There are numerous pan handles you could see off the side, and in the far edge of the room you see about a hunched, nine-foot tall ogre, who is currently wearing a long cap that pass down their back to about mid back, no shirt, a heavy leather apron on, and you can see grease smattered on their arms. They're in the process of juggling different pans and filling a plate.

LAURA: Does he have thick glasses? (laughter)

TRAVIS: Okay, so we've got a cook. Are there any other windows or doors out of this kitchen?

MATT: Make a perception or investigation check.

TRAVIS: Ooh, my choice, huh? 21.

MATT: Okay. The first thing you hear is this gentle (whistles). The ogre is just whistling to himself as he's getting his work done. At one point, you see hobs this large cooked piece of ham and half catches it in the pot before it hits the floor. (grunts) Puts it back up in there and keeps cooking it.

TALIESIN: That's a cook. (laughter)

MATT: Looking through the room, you can see all manner of utensils hanging from different hooks that are jammed up into the wood of the ceiling. You can see hanging locks of garlic and other dried herbs that have been partially carved away and utilized. To the far left, there is a table that has two wheels in the bottom of one side and stoppers in the other. It looks like it's a small, almost like a serving cart, that's being used for general storage. But it's pushed a little further away and you can see along the wall beside it, it looks like there is a door that is meant to blend in with the rest of the room, that has just enough of it pushed away from the wall where you can just see the outline of it. You do not see, at this glance, a place to pull it open necessarily, but you do see the outline of a door that otherwise would be difficult to spot.

TRAVIS: Flat, flat plane? No knob or anything? Just no purchase, just a crack between that and the other wall?

MATT: From what you can see, there's that heavy rack is placed up against it and it helps blend it in there, and is either holding it closed or hiding what is used to open it. But that is what you see to your left.

TRAVIS: Does it look like it's slightly ajar or like a sliding thing?

MATT: It doesn't look it's sliding. It looks like it's ever so faintly pushed away from where its resting space is, where there's a very faint lip of it that you see is exposed.

TRAVIS: Got it. It's just a thin amount, so I couldn't even get through it. I have to move this fucking bookcase.

MATT: You would, yeah.

TRAVIS: Unless it's cheap wood and I hate cheap wood. (laughter)

MATT: The call is yours.

TRAVIS: Fair enough.

LAURA: Is it a backless bookcase? Really cheap wood.

TRAVIS: Got that shitty board on the back.

MARISHA: Cardboard.

TRAVIS: Son of a bitch. It's leaning.

TALIESIN: What is the Tal'Dorei Ikea, I wonder? (laughter)

TRAVIS: Are there any vegetables up on the counter that I can reach up and snag, like a turnip or a radish? What do they use in Animal Crossing?

SAM: It's a parsnip.

MATT: Yes, actually. There are a-- what's your passive perception?

TRAVIS: Passive perception. Hold on, I know where this is. It's right here, it's 11.

MATT: 11, yeah. I mean, like, glancing around, you can see there are a number of some carved, some still waiting to be cooked tomatoes and what looks like radishes, potatoes, and other things that are easy to grab with a little bit of a leap from where you're standing.

TRAVIS: I'll take a radish and a tomato. One hard, one soft.

MATT: While the ogre cook does not notice, they both vanish from the counter.

LIAM: This one's for the theater.

TRAVIS: How to get in? Do I handle this all myself? Show these bitches how it's done. Or do I exercise teamwork? And who am I talking to? (laughter)

LAURA: Are you saying something to me?

TRAVIS: Oh. (laughter) No! No! Stop, how do I sever this connection? Hello?

LAURA: You don't hear anything.

TRAVIS: I have more power than I thought. (laughter) I will-- I'll make my way back towards the kitchen door, but I'll take the radish and I'll roll it along the floor behind the ogre's feet, kind of loudly, and see what kind of a reaction it gets.

MATT: Okay. You roll it. (thumping) He's in the process of holding two various cooking implements before, "(grunts) Ah, shit." Gets his foot back and starts kicking it over to where he is, sets one down and picks it up. Begins setting it on the counter.

TRAVIS: Okay. I'm going to creep my way back out like a mongoose. I make my way back to the rest of the group.

MATT: All right, as you all are slowly sipping your imported Elvish--

LAURA: It's giving me a headache.

MATT: -- plum wine/liqueur. It's in that in-between space where you're not sure which one it is.

TRAVIS: (stage whisper) Hey.

ROBBIE: (yells)

TRAVIS: Don't act-- Act normal. It's me. It's Chetney.

ROBBIE: I know, yes. What did you find?

TRAVIS: I found, in the kitchen, an ogre.

ROBBIE: He's whispering into the side of my thigh, right?

MATT: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, you're on me? Ah!

TRAVIS: Your shirt's just pulled down on the side. (laughter) Okay, here's the dealio. There's an ogre, about nine feet tall, real big, making food. Don't eat the food. But there's a door hidden behind a bookcase. I would have done it myself, but I'm the one paying you people! So I wanted to come back and report this. I could stay like this for a while, so I'm still of use.

MARISHA: Do you need a--

TRAVIS: I'm done.

MARISHA: Do you need a--

TRAVIS: I'm done talking.

MARISHA: Do you need a distraction?

TRAVIS: Oh, that would be a great idea.

MARISHA: I could probably help with that.

TRAVIS: Okay, did you want to elaborate, or--?

MARISHA: Oh! Should I? I don't know.

ROBBIE: What happens during the distraction? There's usually distraction and then something else happens. What's the something else?

MARISHA: Well, you know, if he's cooking at the stove, maybe I could have the stove burst into flame, like it's gotten out of control and pops in his face a little bit.

LAURA: Oh.

TRAVIS: Ashton.

TALIESIN: Am I back yet?

MATT: Yeah, if you feel confident that you've distracted long enough.

TALIESIN: Definitely.

MATT: Okay, then yeah. You've strolled back just as this conversation was happening.

TALIESIN: How much do I owe for the bottle?

MATT: That would be--

TRAVIS: Oh, I thought he was paying for the bottle. Sorry to cut you off.

MATT: 12.

TALIESIN: All right, that'll do.

SAM: Then Chetney will use the distraction to sneak through the door?

LAURA: Can he still just go by himself?

TRAVIS: I'm just curious--

TALIESIN: What'd I miss?

TRAVIS: Is anyone passing out food?

TALIESIN: What the fuck?

TRAVIS: Just act normal!

TALIESIN: When? How?

TRAVIS: Is anyone--

MARISHA: Oh, he went into the kitchen--

TALIESIN: No, act normal, I don't know how to.

LAURA: Oh, right.

TALIESIN: I know you went in the fucking kitchen.

MARISHA: Oh.

TRAVIS: I was just wondering who delivers the food?

LAURA: Oh, have we seen any waiters or anything?

ASHLEY: I've seen a lot of delicious ham walk by.

TALIESIN: Oh you don't want to eat the ham.

ASHLEY: No to the ham, okay.

MATT: You have seen, there are two bar hands that both bring drinks to tables and occasionally go into the kitchen when you hear a, "It's up!" No specification, just "It's up." Then they both look at each other and one of them heads back to check to see what is up and then emerges with various portions of meals and delivers them about the chamber.

ASHLEY: Why can't we eat the food? Wait, can I see you yet?

TRAVIS: It's filthy back there. Listen, if you just want to take out these people handing out food, then they'll be short-staffed and then somebody else will have to leave the kitchen to deliver the food.

LAURA: How would we take--?

MARISHA: Take them out like-- Yes.

SAM: Kill them?

MARISHA: Murder?

TRAVIS: Boy, that's a lot of interpretation on your part. I just said take them out. It could be for a drink, to dance.

ROBBIE: You also wanted to set the cook's face on fire, was the other idea, so.

TRAVIS: Right!

MARISHA: Oh, don't get me wrong, I wasn't being judgmental. I'm here for it, if it calls for murder.

TALIESIN: We're going to die.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Or a distraction.

SAM: I can try to take, with a spell, wherever you are, I can try to influence them to do something other than their duties, like leave.

TRAVIS: Oh, I also need some muscle, because like I said, there's a bookcase in the kitchen. It has to move.

TALIESIN: I can do that, I'm just very visible here. More visible than even normal.

LAURA: We just have to find a way to--

SAM: Orym can be sneaky.

LAURA: -- get him out of the kitchen.

LIAM: A little, I'm not that strong, though. I'm just fast.

LAURA: Is this place open all the time?

ROBBIE: What gets a cook out of the kitchen?

ASHLEY: I know.

SAM: What?

LAURA: What?

ASHLEY: You know when you go to a restaurant and you're like, "I would really love to give my compliments to the chef"?

SAM: They bring 'em out.

ROBBIE: Excellent, excellent.

ASHLEY: Yes.

MARISHA: Good idea.

ASHLEY: Then he'll come out. I can give him all the-- I'll eat the food, guys. I'll eat anything. So if I order the food and I'm like, "Oh my goodness, this is amazing," and then you guys can go in there?

MARISHA: It's not a bad idea.

LAURA: Yeah, some people could go in. Some of us would still have to distract Preio. Praya.

LIAM: They're really interested in you, so maybe you can, continue to showboat.

SAM: I can distract more.

LIAM: Yeah?

LAURA: Oh, that's right. Maybe you could put on a performance or something.

TRAVIS: Maybe the tiny tots can handle it. I mean, I've got guns for days. I just need other person to help me push. (laughter)

TRAVIS: What are you laughing at?

SAM: Who's the sneaky one besides-- Is anyone sneaky?

LAURA: I think we're all terribly un-sneaky.

ROBBIE: We shouldn't need to sneak if it's only the chef in the kitchen.

SAM: You're right, you're right. Well, so let's start by ordering a ham.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: Ugh.

ROBBIE: Ashton, you think you and I can handle the bookcase with--

TALIESIN: If we can get back there without being seen, sure.

ROBBIE: All right.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: I go up to the bar.

MATT: All right, so you go ahead and approach Preio, who finishes serving two drinks. "Hey, honey, what can I do for you?"

ASHLEY: Hi, what do you have? What's on the menu? Is there a chef's special today or something of the sort?

MATT: "Yeah, you want a meal? We got a meal."

ASHLEY: What do you have?

MATT: "Whatever's in the meal for the day."

ASHLEY: That sounds great. Okay.

MATT: "All right, get it out to you. Another meal!" (laughter)

TRAVIS: Outstanding.

ROBBIE: Oh wow!

TALIESIN: It's not a happy meal, it's not an unhappy meal. It's right in the middle.

ROBBIE: Another meal.

TALIESIN: It's just another meal. (laughter)

TALIESIN: No maze on the box. No word scramble.

ROBBIE: There will be a toy.

MATT: You can hear the sizzling commence of a fresh whatever being prepared. (laughter)

LIAM: Comes with ball and cup.

MATT: Yep. A number of minutes later, you hear a voice in the kitchen go, "It's up!" You see one of the servers, who's a very short goblin who's been darting around between the different tables and took a little break on the corner, you can see has a small bit of tobacco they've just finished rolling as they're about to head outside on a break go, "(sighs)" (laughter)

MATT: Heads and treks back to the kitchen. Returns with a platter and you can see on it-- there are definitely portions in this. There are different colors. There is a gray something. There is a brown series of somethings, and what looks like it might've been a soft rice. It comes over. It does smell like it was cooked and may have some flavor or enjoyment to it. But it's definitely a little nondescript when placed upon the table. "Here you go."

ASHLEY: Thank you very much.

MATT: "This is for you."

ASHLEY: Do you have utensils?

MATT: (stammering)

ASHLEY: Thank you very much.

MATT: "All right."

MARISHA: Look at the neutral tones.

LAURA: You don't have to do this.

ASHLEY: I mean, this looks delicious to me. Don't you smell this?

TRAVIS: It smells pretty good.

TALIESIN: Yes, sadly.

TRAVIS: Should we case the perimeter while you're eating the food to see if there's a back door or anything?

TALIESIN: Did you see a back door back there?

TRAVIS: I was inside, so no.

LAURA: So you didn't see a back door into the kitchen?

TRAVIS: No, there's a door in the kitchen, behind the bookcase.

TALIESIN: Was there another door?

TRAVIS: No.

MARISHA: I'll look! I go and I look.

SAM: Oh, outside the--

MARISHA: Uh-huh.

SAM: Okay.

MARISHA: I go walk around the back.

MATT: Okay, you go ahead and walk the outside perimeter. There is a very thin space to glance on the side, and as you get to where the back is, there is no back alley. This is actually built partially into the Spire itself.

SAM: No back door.

MARISHA: No cellar, nothing on the sides?

TRAVIS: That you know of.

MATT: Not from the outside, it seems. As you begin to carve through this, oh, there is cooked ham, there is beans, there was an actual meal. It's all covered with a loose gravy that tends to give a muted coloration to everything on there, which in itself is quite delicious, but yes.

MARISHA: Oh, it sounds good.

MATT: It's not bad.

ROBBIE: Loose gravy.

ASHLEY: Excuse me?

MATT: Yes. "Uh, yeah, yeah?"

ASHLEY: Come here, please.

MATT: "Is there something wrong with it? What did he do?"

ASHLEY: No, this, what is this? What all is this?

MATT: "That's a meal."

ASHLEY: This is one of the best meals I've ever had. (laughter)

MATT: "Really?"

ASHLEY: It's all so just tasty. Could you bring out the chef? I would love to give my compliments to the chef.

MATT: "Okay."

ASHLEY: This really is award-winning stuff.

ROBBIE: As I'm hearing this, I motion to Ashton to make our way over toward where we could get to the door.

ASHLEY: I'm going to try to eat as much as I can.

MATT: It is greasy, but, I mean, it's the southern shit I grew up with and loved.

LAURA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Good shit.

MATT: Yeah, yeah this is some late night Waffle House shit.

LAURA: Ham and beans sounds fucking good.

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Distract the liver.

MARISHA: I want to go to a Waffle House.

LAURA: Right now.

MATT: The goblin server rushes off and goes into the kitchen. Who's doing what at this point?

TALIESIN: I'm hanging onto you as we go over there with the bottle.

TRAVIS: I'm rolling in the deep.

MATT: Okay, the invisibility lasts for an hour?

TRAVIS: An hour!

MATT: Yeah, so you're still holding on to that.

SAM: I've got eyes on... Preio.

MATT: Preio.

SAM: And I'm on distract her duty if she walks away or anything.

MATT: Preio's currently in the process of now cleaning down the space. A few patrons have left and there's a little bit of a lull.

SAM: Wait, she's by the bar?

MATT: Yeah. Preio's back at the bar.

SAM: Okay, I'll zoom over.

TALIESIN: Fresh, Fresh, bottle trick. Bottle trick, if you need to.

SAM: Bottle trick? Oh, oh okay.

TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

LAURA: Oh, yeah, good idea, good idea.

SAM: I don't know what that is.

MATT: "Hey there, honey, can I get you anything else?"

SAM: Oh, I just had a bottle trick I wanted to show you. (laughter)

MATT: "Okay, show me a bottle trick."

SAM: Well, it's a work in progress. I thought maybe you could give me some pointers, having run an establishment like this for quite some time.

MATT: "Sure."

SAM: I'll put the bottle on my head.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Oh, that's dangerous to be called a bottle trick. Well.

TALIESIN: Well.

LAURA: There's more to this trick, you just hold on, because it's pretty impressive once he--

SAM: I will try to zoom forward and zoom back with balancing it on my head.

LAURA: Okay, well.

TALIESIN: Oh no, that wasn't--

LAURA: The bottle-- No, no, no, no. Preio, hold on.

MATT: Well, first, make a dexterity saving throw. (laughter)

SAM: That's a natural 20. (cheering)

MATT: At first, it looks like it's about to tip back and you compensate, and at this point, it begins to lean in the other direction and you compensate. As opposed to just keeping it in place, you are continuously keeping it right about to fall,

LAURA: Look what I can do!

MATT: Which builds this perpetual tension, and everyone around the bar, on the edges, start going, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" All of a sudden people are starting to join in. "Whoa, whoa." This stupid-ass trick somehow is gaining attention.

TRAVIS: Killing it.

SAM: I'm covering my eyes.

MATT: Preio's on the edge going, "I don't know what I was expecting, but sure." While this is happening--

MARISHA: It's a Boston Dynamics video.

LIAM: Hovering over towards the other side of the joint, so that we're in place for when the chef exits.

MATT: Right at this moment, as this is happening, the goblin comes rushing out. (whimpers) (thundering footsteps) "Who wants to see me?"

SAM: Oh jesus.

ASHLEY: Oh wow. Me!

MATT: (heavy running footsteps) You just get this bounding ogre. People are scooting out of the way, and one of the tables people pull it back, it's like (scraping) off the wood across the way. Big smile on the face. You can see the lower underbite of the ogre peering beneath this giant grin. The grease and sweat across the face. That one long hat dangling and swaying to and fro as it bounds over towards you. At that moment, Preio glances over, and then everyone focuses-- you rolled a natural 20-- focuses back on you. (heavy footsteps, grunting pants) "Is it okay?"

ASHLEY: I have to tell you this is one of the best meals that I've ever had.

MATT: (grunt, exhale)

ASHLEY: It--

MATT: (heavy breathing) You see tears beginning to well up in his eyes. (exclamations, laughter)

MARISHA: I love him.

MATT: "(grunts)"

ASHLEY: What's your name?

MATT: "My name Pretty."

ALL: Pretty!

ASHLEY: Pretty?

LAURA: Oh god. Brady or?

ASHLEY: Pretty or Brady?

TRAVIS: Pretty.

MATT: "Pretty."

ASHLEY: Oh, so Pretty.

LIAM: What's going on?

MARISHA: (laughs) "What's going on?"

ASHLEY: I just have to ask you, what are the ingredients that you use? Is there cinnamon in this?

MATT: "(sniffles) Yeah." (laughter)

ASHLEY: I thought so. What else, what else? This is an old family recipe, isn't it?

MATT: "Sure."

ASHLEY: Tell me everything that's in it, please.

MATT: "Well."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "First, I cook a lot of meat fat."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "Then I mix it with the oil."

ASHLEY: Oh great. You know what, hold on, I got to write this down.

MATT: "Oh, it's a secret recipe."

LAURA: That's true. You shouldn't take all the secrets.

MATT: "I'm kidding. You can write it down."

ASHLEY: Okay, I don't have to. (Pretty laughs) (laughter)

ASHLEY: Have a tissue.

LAURA: Here have some plum, here.

ASHLEY: Have some plum wine.

LAURA: Have some of our liqueur.

LIAM: Oh, he's going to get sloppy.

ASHLEY: It's very sweet.

LAURA: It's really good.

MATT: "Another. So--" and he starts going on and on about this. You guys are-- what are you doing?

MARISHA: Go, go, go, go.

TALIESIN: Are we doing this?

LAURA: You're doing it!

ROBBIE: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Pass Without A Trace.

SAM: Oh, thank you.

MATT: All right, so I would like those who are heading towards the kitchen to roll a stealth check, please. You with advantage.

LIAM: For our little mob?

TALIESIN: Our little mob all has Pass Without A Trace.

MARISHA: These four?

TRAVIS: Yeah!

TALIESIN: Thank god.

TRAVIS: 20! Oh, Pass Without A Trace, 32!

ROBBIE: Dirty 20, with--

SAM: Plus 10.

ROBBIE and MATT: 30.

LIAM: 15.

TALIESIN: 18.

MATT: Plus 10?

LIAM: Yeah, plus 10, I rolled low.

TALIESIN: 18.

MATT: 18, okay, still pretty decent across the board. There is some heavy distractions between the kitchen chef being left outside and lightly blubbering in a public space, which is a very rare sight in this establishment, let alone the oddest of circus acts transpiring in the center of this dive bar, which is not usually this kind of lively at this hour. But you all trek around, skirting the crowd, blending in, and then pass through the open door into the kitchen, where you are met with the smells of cooking oils, and meats, and garlic, and other delightful hefty meal bits. Here you are.

TALIESIN: Let's do this.

TRAVIS: I quickly walk over to the bookcase and I tap it, because you can't see me. Then I'll look in the little bit of the door that's seen. Do I see any traps or any contraptions that might set off an alarm?

MATT: Investigation check.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: The rest of you see what may be a bookcase to Chetney, is just a serving cart with the wheels on one side.

ASHLEY: Oh my god!

MARISHA: Because your perspective was that limited.

MATT: Yeah. It's about three and a half feet up, almost four feet up with the chest length there.

ROBBIE: Chetney, Chetney, where's the bookcase? (laughter)

TRAVIS: I can't quite see above this gargantuan structure, but it's here.

ROBBIE: I don't see it.

TRAVIS: Everyone!

ROBBIE: Tap on it!

TRAVIS: Together on three!

LIAM: Where in the room are you?

TRAVIS: (tapping)

MATT: You can hear the sound. What'd you roll?

TRAVIS: A 25.

LAURA: Whoa.

SAM: Oh my god.

MATT: 25. The door, as you glance past, you can now get a good look behind the small gap. It looks like there is a single metal ring that rests as bolted into the door, that is pretty flush with the cart placement to keep it hidden. You do also see a small keyhole beneath it.

TRAVIS: Oh, hold on, I got to work. Can I reach the keyhole from where I am, or is through the--

MATT: You can. It's a little rough, if you don't move it out of the way.

TRAVIS: Help me move this gargantuan--

ROBBIE: Orym.

TRAVIS: Please!

LIAM: You want help moving?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LIAM: (squeaky wheel sounds) (laughter)

MATT: It's no longer in your way.

TRAVIS: My gods, you are a man of unparalleled strength. I pick the lock!

MATT: All right, go ahead and roll a pick locks check with your-- It's once again dexterity and proficiency modifier.

TRAVIS: Ugh. That is a 12.

MATT: A 12.

TRAVIS: Not great, that was really low.

MATT: It's not giving, it's not giving.

MARISHA: Shit.

LIAM: Oh no.

MARISHA: Oh shit.

LIAM What's the--

TRAVIS: Goddamn it.

TALIESIN: What's a thieves' tools roll again?

MATT: If you're proficient with them?

TALIESIN: I am. I believe so. It's under my tools, so I would assume I'm--

MATT: It's under your tools, but is it under proficiencies?

TALIESIN: Where are my proficiencies? It just says languages. It doesn't say... Oh wait. There we are. It's proficiencies tools: disguise kit, thieves' tools.

MATT: Then yeah. Go ahead and roll. It's your proficiency bonus and your dexterity bonus.

TALIESIN: Dexterity save.

SAM: Dexterity bonus.

MATT: Bonus.

TALIESIN: Oh, so, all right.

MATT: Modifier.

TALIESIN: That's cocked. That's worse, but that's okay for both of the things it could've been. 11. (groaning)

MATT: This lock is not moving for you. It doesn't look like it's a complicated lock, but for some reason, it's eluding both of your minds and your tools at the moment. You can hear the sizzling of food that's now, in the cook's absence, is beginning to maybe get close to burning.

SAM: Oh no.

TALIESIN: I'm going to hop over and flip it.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Is Pretty making a lot of noise still out with the group?

MATT: You glance out the area. Pretty is on his knees on the ground, holding Fearne's hand in his. You can see intense conversation, the two of them. As right now he's like, "Then, when it's close to being done."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "Then you just slather it with all the gravy."

ASHLEY: That's how you do it!

MATT: "Yeah, and you let it sit for two, three minutes, and it congeals."

ASHLEY: Oh! Good stuff.

MATT: "Yeah!" All right, so what are you doing?

TALIESIN: Chetney, you need to hurry up. It cannot possibly take that long to describe what this is. You've got to fucking hurry.

TRAVIS: (repeated) I'm trying. Okay, can I try it one more time at a higher DC or something? I don't know.

MATT: If you want to try it one more time, but I will say you've both failed doing this once, which means not only is the DC extremely high, but you're at risk of breaking your tools if you fail.

TRAVIS: We could just force it.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: Can't get it open.

SAM: It's gone bad.

MARISHA: Keep failing their checks on fucking doors.

MATT: What are you doing?

TALIESIN: You want to try and force it? That'll be better.

TRAVIS: Might as well.

TALIESIN: I'm still cooking.

ROBBIE: Do it, do it.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Let me try one more time, and then you can fucking wreck it.

LAURA: You're cooking?

TRAVIS: Maybe we'll get lucky.

TALIESIN: It was burning.

TRAVIS: I'll just try one more time. Oh! That's a 26.

MARISHA: Oh!

LIAM: (sighs)

MATT: 25 was the DC. (groaning) After all that. So at a moment you feel one of the picks beginning to bend and you're like, "Oh no, no, that's not good." Then you just manage to slip the second tool underneath, and it manages the pressure that's bending it to give, and the final tumbler goes and it pulls it slightly away from the wall.

TRAVIS: No problem, let's move.

LIAM: All right.

MATT: All right, so who's doing what?

TALIESIN: Do we all go in?

ROBBIE: I'm going in.

TRAVIS: It's a swing, or it's a slide?

MATT: It's a swing.

TRAVIS: Swing, got it, okay.

MATT: It pulls a little bit further away from the wall. It's not fully open.

LIAM: Invisible old man, you first.

TRAVIS: Okay, I go.

MATT: All right, who's after you?

LIAM: Me.

MATT: Okay, then after you?

ROBBIE: Yeah, I-I-I'll go after Orym.

MATT: Okay, so as you rush in, followed by Orym and the rest of you--

ROBBIE: Hurtful, hurtful guys. We all stutter sometimes.

MATT: You all immediately dart into this room that is low lit. You can see that there is one oil lantern that's set on a table that's dimly lighting this space. The room is about 10-foot by 15 feet. It is a small room. You can immediately, glancing around, you can see all sorts of storage crates, and boxes, and looks like burlap bags filled with grain or rice or all sorts. This is a kitchen storage area. You also see a cot. On this table, where there is the lantern, you see a figure that is sitting there. Currently in the low light you can see what looks to be a woman, maybe late 20s or so, who is uniya. You can see the elven ears and the orcish features giving her this unique, almost strikingly beautiful combination of both features. Very slender build and dark leather armor, and a cloak that is dark green, nearly black. Heavy belt with a number of pouches and tools around it. You can see that there are a set of black gauntlets that are resting on the table, along with a mostly empty plate. As soon as you all step in, and glance, and see them, they immediately look up, and then reach over and grab a heavy crossbow and aim it right towards you, who the first that walked in. As you all gather in, the three of you are right there.

TALIESIN: (tutting)

MATT: She goes to aim and we're going to go to break. (groaning)

MATT: Because we're there.

SAM: Wow.

MATT: We'll pick up at this spot here in a few minutes. We'll see you guys here shortly.

Break[]

(gentle music)

Man: We don't have the strength alone.

Lizard Woman: It's the truth. If we try to storm the gates again, we will be killed.

Girl: By what though? Man: How long has she been in the ditches?

Lizard Woman: Just a week, she'll learn.

Girl: I could help.

Man: You've never seen the gates of the sun. I have, I know what lurks there.

Girl: But to explore the Astory in Acropolis beyond, it's a scholar's dream.

Man: This is no dream.

Lizard Woman: It's not even a nightmare. Nightmares end, our imprisonment in the ditches is eternal.

Girl: But if we can pass through the gates--

Man: Horrors unimaginable await beyond the gates.

Girl: But you have magic, weapons. Together we could survive the necropolis, make it through to the surface, be free there.

Lizard Woman: Free? The sun itself is forsaken Astoria. There is no freedom in the dark. And what would you be willing to sacrifice to get to the surface? Would you give your blood for it, your friends, your soul?

Man: When you stand in the court of the blood drinkers, haunted by what you've seen, well, you would be a brave hero indeed if you still thought of saving anyone but yourself.

Girl: Well, I have to try. Someone has to.

Lizard Woman: All of us here, you think we have not tried? Those whose bones hold up these very walls, you think they did not try?

Girl: If you've given up, I will wait here for others. There must be more like me. (heart beats) I just hope they get here soon.

(gentle music) (epic adventure music) (mysterious music)

LAURA: Hey Critters, Laura Bailey here to guide you through what's new in the Critical Role shop. Ooh, so comfy cozy. Glorious! I mean, the Traveler always said impulse purchases are a good decision. Look at this. Isn't it fashion? So much fashion happening here. The cuteness! It's overpowering. Style should never be a dump stat, darling. And hey, if you want, you can head over to the Critical Role shop right now.

(mysterious enchanting music) (typewriter clicking) (mysterious music) (inspirational music)

We now go live to a special address from the President. Hey dweebs. Now as your president, I've been kinda killing it lately. I gave global warming an atomic wedgie. I balanced the budget by selling my Pog collection, and I saved the Queen of England from that octopus! But my kick-assery is far from done. According to this chart that I made, an estimated 35% of you are still a bunch of nasty goobers, but don't worry, I have a plan. Operation: Gag Me With A Spoon. It's easy sleazy. According to this study that I wrote, if every citizen subscribed to Critical Role on Twitch, we could reduce maximum goobage by a metric buttload. Twitch is the only place where you'll get a live and moderated chat and when you subscribe to Critical Role, you instantly get access to all their shows as soon as the live broadcast ends. So while you're oogling those Critical Role dorks with their sick goof-em-ups and their nerdy voices, think of me, Gale, the current president of whatever. Now I gotta go make a fresh batch of spitballs, but I guess I have some time for your boring questions. You. Gale, is it true that if you subscribe to Critical Role through Prime Gaming, you have to resubscribe every month? Uh, yeah. I do it right after my monthly prank call to Pee-an O'Brien. Next question. Does Critical Role have exclusive emotes for their subscribers? Uh, doy. Of course they do. I like the hello bees one, 'cause bees are cool. I replaced my whole security detail with a bunch of bees that think I'm their queen. Last question. Yeah, with all due respect, is Operation: Gag Me With a Spoon a real policy, or are you mad goofin'? Am I mad goofin'? What, do you see me scarfing Milk Duds while doodling ding-dongs in the SkyMall catalog? Listen, I know I'm new to this. And I admit that when I made the wish to be the boss of everything, I did not know the witch that works at Woolworth's was listening. Well, Faustian bargain or not, I am the president and I have an obligation to lead this country. So to answer your question, no, I am not mad goofin'. Security, take him out. (bees buzzing) (Gale laughing) Later, chudruckers!

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back. So as we left off.

SAM: Oh god, that's right.

MATT: While many of you are running distractions--

TRAVIS: What a dick.

MATT: -- in the Soot and Swill Tavern, our troupe of an invisible Chetney, a Dorian Storm, an Orym of the Air Ashari, and an Ashton Greymoore--

TALIESIN: Oh shit.

MATT: -- are rushing into the back hidden chamber that is affixed next to the kitchen. As you dart in, in the dark-lit room, you are immediately faced with a figure. Cloaked, standing up, and pulling a heavy crossbow on you all, finger on the trigger, tension held in the air.

LIAM: Please, don't shoot.

TALIESIN: Whoa, whoa, whoa!

LIAM: Definitely don't want to fight.

MATT: "Why should I not?" And you see the other hand reaches back for a blade.

LIAM: Just want to talk, looking for Artana Voe.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

TRAVIS: Come on.

MARISHA: Big money.

TRAVIS: Invisible.

LAURA: Ooh, ooh!

LIAM: I can't see it. It looks real low, though. And my--

LAURA: Halfling Luck!

TALIESIN: You rolled such a tiny die.

LIAM: My nondescript tablet is turned off.

SAM: Oh no.

LIAM: It's real low, though.

SAM: Let's just cut.

LIAM: Super low. (laughter)

MARISHA: Take it back, trash it.

LIAM: Total of four.

MATT: It's garbage

SAM: Total of four?

LAURA: Oh no! What's with the rolls tonight?

MARISHA: Right? They're bad, right? They're bad.

SAM: I don't know what you're talking about.

MATT: Does a 19 hit you?

LIAM: Just. Just.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: Just? Wow. Okay.

TRAVIS: Take it and duck.

MATT: You take eight points of piercing damage as you have your shield up and the bolt releases from the heavy crossbow, (whooshes) it hits the shield, arcs up, and just catches you on the side of the chin. and then (impact) sticks into the wall behind you.

LIAM: Believe it or not, still don't want to fight. Still, still don't want to fight.

TALIESIN: I step in front--

MATT: At this point, you watch the heavy crossbow fall to the side, the hand catches another bolt, spins it around, and in one movement, turning it around, (whooshes) pulls it back, has it at the ready, and has now geared it over towards you, Dorian.

LIAM: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait.

LAURA: Wait.

ASHLEY: Wait.

LIAM: We just want to talk. I got a bolt in my chin, I'm not swinging, We just want to talk.

MATT: "Then talk. Quickly."

LIAM: We're looking for Artana Voe. That you?

MATT: "Maybe. What do you want with her?"

LIAM: Chet? Still here?

ROBBIE: Whatever you say it had better be good. (laughter)

LAURA: You're such a dick.

MATT: All right.

LIAM: We need to find-- (laughter)

ASHLEY: That's so great.

MATT: Does a 14 hit you?

ROBBIE: It does not.

MATT: You watch as she fires, but it's slightly to the left, the bolt (springing) into the wall next to you. It was a warning shot. (laughter)

SAM: I missed. (laughter)

MATT: (crossbow reloading)

LIAM: Gurge.

TALIESIN: Oh, for fuck's sake, we're looking for-- (groans) Fuck's sake, we're looking for a friend, a friend of a friend who went missing. We're just trying to help a buddy out. There's a lot of weird shit going on and we just need a little bit of fucking help.

LIAM: Gurge, we're trying to find Gurge.

TALIESIN: Gurge. Fuck.

MARISHA: You forgot his name. (laughter)

TALIESIN: (groans)

MATT: Crossbow's still pointed at Dorian. "You're not going to find Gurge here."

TALIESIN: I know that! We need help.

MATT: "What do you have to offer?"

TALIESIN: Fuck, I don't know that, hold on. We hadn't gotten that far. What do you need? What do you want? Why don't you fucking talk, you asshole. (laughter)

TRAVIS: We have money.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

TRAVIS: I'm closer to her and to the left, I've just kept going.

MATT: (crossbow firing) With disadvantage because you are invisible. Ooh. That's going to be a-- another 14 to hit.

TRAVIS: Misses. Ow, you got me!

MATT: (crossbow reloading)

TRAVIS: I'm sorry! I'm sorry. I've had this affliction my whole life. Listen, I'm looking for Gurge, he's a friend. I'm just trying to find him so I can get some work. Please, we don't want to bother you very much. We can give you money, we don't want to bother you anymore. If you could point us to the direction of where--

MATT: "Put it on the table."

TRAVIS: (stutters) H-h-how much?

MATT: "What have you got?"

TRAVIS: Ah, that's kind of an open-ended question. How about 25 gold?

MATT: She points it back over towards you.

TRAVIS: 30, 30! 30 gold.

ROBBIE: I have more gold as well.

MATT: "Put it on the table."

ROBBIE: All right.

TRAVIS: You see 30 gold just appear on the table.

MARISHA: (metallic pinging)

TRAVIS: (coins dropping) (laughter)

TALIESIN: I swear to fuck, Chetney, if I find out you have more money than that-- (sighs) You're going to be dead in ten years.

ROBBIE: I've got that. I could at least match it. I think. May I?

MATT: "Match it."

ROBBIE: Okay. I'll walk slowly over and pull out 30 gold, set it next to Chetney's.

MATT: "All right."

TRAVIS: You also see a small wooden rocking horse appear on the table. (laughter)

MATT: "Thanks." Still drawn, grabs the chair, drags it back towards the back of the chamber, so her back is towards the cot, goes and slowly sits in the chair but keeps the heavy crossbow aimed at you, across her lap, and just keeps eyes darting amongst all of you. "I was hired to find him, and I did it. He's not with me anymore."

TALIESIN: Where'd you take him?

MATT: "My client is privileged information." She glances back at the table. "I can tell you I was told he was a threat the minute he entered the city. Apparently word got around: wild man Gurge was returned to the civilized streets. My client paid me very well and emphasized he be brought back alive."

TRAVIS: 15 more gold appears on the table and does the poker chip (coins clattering) to form a new tower.

TALIESIN: I'm still trying to decide how much I like this motherfucker. I'm not--

TRAVIS: Please!

SAM and MARISHA: (laugh)

LIAM: I'll put another hundred down if you can tell us where we can lock onto them.

TRAVIS: Wow!

MATT: Make a persuasion check with advantage.

LIAM: Hey--

MARISHA: Come on.

ROBBIE: (whistles)

LIAM: Natural 20. (cheering)

MATT: Plus? (cheering)

LIAM: Plus nothing.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: On the Keyleth die.

LAURA: What?

TALIESIN: Fuck. Holy fuck.

MATT: "Show me what you got."

LIAM: Shield and sword away, shield and sword down, and slowly pull out a sack, and I count out 50 for me, and put in 103 gold on the table.

MATT: "My client was Vali Dertrana. Vali's the business commissioner of the Mirror Towers in the Core Spire works out of the Moon Tower. I haven't done much for him before, but when a client is shifty about details, especially when they can get me killed, I hold no loyalty. So there you have it."

LIAM: Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

TRAVIS: Vali Dertrana over at the Moon Tower.

MARISHA: She was at what?

LIAM: We were obviously never here. Side question: if we ever needed your services, what would that run us?

MATT: "It depends on what services you're looking for."

LIAM: How much would it cost to bring in Gurge?

MATT: "Gurge, here? Well... knowing what I know now-- Eight G's."

TRAVIS: (coughs in shock)

SAM: Eight gold pieces. (quiet laughter)

MATT: “He's not a typical mark, that one, and if you're looking for him, you best be careful."

LIAM: Okay, okay. Well, we'll table the collaboration. Is that extra hundred worth any advice or tips?

MATT: "I don't deal with people like him often. In fact, only once before. Just don't get bitten."

LIAM: Okay. Gang, are we good?

TRAVIS: Is there anything in the room on the tables away from where Artana is of any value or interest?

MATT: Roll a perception check.

LIAM: Roll that check.

MARISHA: We've got two kleptos now.

TRAVIS: 17. (laughter)

ASHLEY: (mimicking Chetney) It's just so shiny.

MATT: Around Artana, both on the table, on the belts, and on the edge of the cot, there are all manner of strange tools and knives and hooks. They could be torture implements. They could be hunting implements that could be used for cleaning creatures, skinning creatures, or making someone yell in pain if they need to. You're uncertain as to the purpose, not too dissimilar to a lot of your chiseling tools, just a little nastier looking. Beyond that, it's hard to tell in this low light. Most of the rest of the chamber appears to be storage for all manner of cookable goods.

TRAVIS: I start slowly backing out of the room. It looks like you work with your hands. I respect it.

TALIESIN: Dorian, you got something you want to say? You want to ask?

ROBBIE: Long as you don't shoot me, is that fair? Uh-- Have you heard of a large bounty 20,000 on a... security detail that went wrong? Something perhaps put up by the Treshi family?

MATT: "Yeah. You do match a certain description that came across my path."

ROBBIE: Does it seem to be a... popular bounty in the bounty hunting community? (laughter)

MATT: She leans forward and gives you a good hard look from tip of head to bottom of feet. "Real familiar description."

ROBBIE: Oh. (drawn out) Hi. No...

TALIESIN: We wouldn't be asking if that was the thing.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

ASHLEY: No.

TALIESIN: That would be some crazy shit.

MATT: "Stranger things have happened. Meal tickets walking into my lap."

ROBBIE: We all have family, right? And we want to protect our family, don't we? I have nine friends here who I consider family.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

LIAM: Here's that other 50.

ROBBIE: Eight-- math is hard.

TRAVIS: 50. Does that help? Does that help? Does that help?

MATT: The silent Bertrand Bell-- (laughter)

MATT: -- as he looks over you.

ROBBIE: He's in my pocket in a greasy bone mess.

MATT: It's true, yeah. Roll a persuasion check.

ROBBIE: All right.

LIAM: 50 gold, I added an extra 50 gold!

MATT: Yeah.

ROBBIE: (laughs) Oh wait! Oh, no, no.

MARISHA: That's a 12.

ROBBIE: Oh, thank god. Yes. 15.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: 15.

ROBBIE: It's why we're there.

MATT: "Yeah, that'd be pretty brazen for a mark familiar with their own bounty to walk in here against me. But you say family. I take it you're related to this mark?"

ROBBIE: Oh, in a very broad sense, yes.

MATT: "Well, I bet you'd tell your friend-- Sorry, your family to get out of town real quick. If he's still here. I'm not the only hunter on the loose. I don't know, it seems like this is the first lead I've got." She's reading your face intently. "If he's still here."

TALIESIN: It wouldn't pan out the way you think. We appreciate your candor.

MATT: "All right, then. Hope we don't meet again."

TALIESIN: Pleasure would definitely not be mine. Out!

TRAVIS: Some of your tools need sharpening.

TALIESIN: Try the meal when you got a minute. I close the door.

MATT: Close the door behind you. (as Pretty) "Anyway, I'm sorry. I've got get back to work."

ASHLEY: It's been such a pleasure to spend time with you. It really, truly has.

MATT: "You too."

ASHLEY: Thank you very much.

MATT: "Look."

ASHLEY: Yes.

MATT: "I may be called Pretty, but you are--"

ASHLEY: Pretty-- You just have-- Your heart is as big as you are.

MATT: "It's very swollen." (laughter)

ASHLEY: I just can tell. Yeah.

MATT: He starts (stomping).

LAURA: Have we seen our friends come out of the kitchen yet?

MATT: Not yet. The rest of you step out of the room and at that point you hear the heavy footfalls approaching the kitchen of the cook.

MARISHA: Do something.

LAURA: (coughs) (bangs table) Pretty!

MATT: "Yeah?"

LAURA: What are you doing later?

SAM: Oh no.

MATT: "Working, and then sleeping?"

LAURA: What time do you get off? (laughter)

MATT: He looks back-- (laughs) He looks back over at his boss, who's like-- "Uh-- Two hours after sundown."

LAURA: Two hours after sundown-- Pretty? Do you want to go on a date?

MATT: "With you?"

LAURA: Anybody at this table.

SAM: What?

LAURA: I mean--

TRAVIS: Oh yeah, yeah-- (laughter)

LAURA: Whoever you want to go-- I don't know.

ASHLEY: (stammers) We could-- we could all go, just make it a full group hang type of thing.

LAURA: You know, the three of us are sitting at the table, still, right? It's the three of us?

MATT: Looks back and gives a big old thumbs up to his boss at the tavern front. Preio goes, (as Pretty) "They like the meal." (as Preio) "I mean, go get it, buddy." He gives you, like, a "Sure?"

MARISHA: We'll meet you out front.

MATT: "It's a date."

LAURA: Have they come out yet?

MATT: They're now coming out. I need you guys to roll a stealth check if you want to be unseen as you exit.

TRAVIS: Pass Without a Trace still up?

MATT: It's still-- How long does it last?

TALIESIN: An hour.

MATT: Ten minutes, right?

TALIESIN: No, Pass Without a Trace?

MATT: Is it ten minutes or an hour? One of the two.

TALIESIN: Uh, (gibberish).

LAURA: I know, which one is it?

MATT: It's been a while.

TALIESIN: One hour.

MATT: One hour. There you go.

TALIESIN: Concentration. I didn't get shot.

MATT: That's true. You're good.

TRAVIS: 31.

LAURA: Whoa.

LIAM: 32.

TALIESIN: 20. I rolled real bad.

MARISHA: (gasps in shock)

TALIESIN: Plus 10!

ROBBIE: Ah, fuck, natural one.

TALIESIN: Plus?

ROBBIE: Plus four, plus 10-- oh, okay, 15.

LAURA: Natural one.

MATT: Still a natural one.

ROBBIE: Doesn't matter, right? It's a failure.

MATT: It is a group check.

ROBBIE: Okay.

MATT: You rolled a 20, you said?

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

MATT: Let me see what it's looking like. (bumps microphone) Oops, sorry.

LIAM: 32 and a 31.

MATT: 32 and a 31, that's two successes, two failures--

LAURA: Whoa.

MATT: A natural one is two failures, and then you're on the cusp, we'll see.

MARISHA: But Fresh Cut Grass is still doing his bottle trick. (laughter)

MATT: Yeah, and you know what? No disrespect to you, the charm's worn off a little, and folks are going back about their business.

SAM: It's just back and forth. (laughter)

MATT: At a certain point, it just doesn't grasp the same attention.

SAM: I went from side to side for a while, now diagonal, but that's all I got.

LIAM: Second verse, same as the first.

TRAVIS: Oh man!

MATT: As you all scoot out of the kitchen and back into the riff raff of the chamber, looking across to your friends as, stepping aside, a big hand palms the side of your shoulder and pushes you, Dorian, out of the way. "Move aside, shift got to finish!" He just charges back into the kitchen with a renewed vigor. It does not seem there is a lot of eyes noticing your return, luckily. But as you reconvene at the table you see your friends finally return.

LAURA: How did it go?

TALIESIN: That was expensive.

SAM: You're bleeding.

MARISHA: You totally have an arrow in your chin, wow.

LAURA: It wasn't sticking in your chin, Orym. (laughter)

MARISHA: The whole time just centimeters from your jugular.

ROBBIE: Whoa!

TALIESIN: I forgot. I'm going to wander over to Fresh Cut Grass and grab my bottle. All right, thank you.

SAM: I can stop that now?

TALIESIN: Oh yeah, well done.

MARISHA: Good job, good job.

TRAVIS: We can go if we want to. We found out all we needed to.

SAM: Who's saying that?

LIAM: You know, we got a lead. We should probably get out of here soon.

MARISHA: Okay, we just have to be back in two hours.

TRAVIS and LIAM: Why?

LAURA: We have a date.

LIAM: With?

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

SAM: All of them are going on a date with the cook?

MARISHA: Pretty is his name. He's very sweet.

LAURA: He was so nice.

MARISHA: So nice.

ASHLEY: He was very, very nice. Yeah.

LIAM: Okay, wasn't the outcome I was expecting.

ASHLEY: What did you guys get?

TALIESIN: Shot, mostly.

LIAM: A name, a location for good old Gurge.

TRAVIS: You can't see me. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Did you just say that out loud?

TRAVIS: Yes.

TALIESIN: I take an elbow to wherever I heard that coming from.

TRAVIS: Ow! (laughter)

TALIESIN: Asshole!

TRAVIS: Damn it!

SAM: Well, let's go. Yeah. Let's get out of here.

MARISHA: Are you all right?

ROBBIE: Hmm?

MARISHA: You look very--

LAURA: Distracted.

MARISHA: Pensive-- Distracted.

ROBBIE: (clears throat) I thought we had the drop on them-- They ended up getting the drop on us.

LIAM: Walked right into it.

TALIESIN: I mean, all things considered, we did all right.

LIAM: Do we really need to be back here in two hours?

LAURA: Yeah. We can't stand him up, he's too nice.

MARISHA: Oh, absolutely!

LAURA: He had a good soul.

ASHLEY: He really did.

MARISHA: We've all--

ROBBIE: Chasing--

MARISHA: Well, he's just an outcast, and we all know what that's like, and that would be just so mean.

TALIESIN: Gods love a cook.

MATT: It's two hours past sunset. Sunset's probably about three hours off.

LAURA: Three hours away. Great.

MATT: Five hours, technically.

LAURA: Five hours away.

MATT: Two hours past sunset, three 'til sunset.

LAURA: Got it, got it, got it.

ROBBIE: Nine friends plus three sunsets equals math.

LAURA: We have five hours.

ROBBIE: Got it.

LIAM: One adventuring party leaves at 60 miles an hour going north. (laughter)

MARISHA: I hated those.

TALIESIN: I'd say go shopping, but all of the shops down here kind of fucking suck.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I mean, they're here, but they kind of suck.

SAM: Where was the lead? Where did...

LAURA: Oh yeah, where did she send you guys to?

LIAM: Moon Tower in the Core Spire.

SAM and MARISHA: Core Spire.

LAURA: All right, which is how-- Is there a connection to the Core Spire from the-- Smolder Spire?

MATT: Correct, yeah. All the different spires connect to the Core Spire and a handful of them have premium contacts between them that cost more, but they all connect to the Core Spire. That's the one they use as a junction point between all of them.

TALIESIN: That's where the theater was.

LAURA: Yeah, the Core Spire's got all the shit.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: Let's not forget we have to go back to the theater to pick up our memberships.

ASHLEY: Oh, that's right.

MARISHA: They had to make up the cards. I have to sign for them.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: Dance card is so full.

TALIESIN: Weird fucking week.

MARISHA: It's true. Maybe we have time to catch a show between our date.

SAM: Maybe you can take him there on the date.

LAURA: Oh, that would be so cute!

MARISHA: That's a brilliant idea.

LIAM: Could multitask.

ASHLEY: That would be really sweet, yeah.

TALIESIN: Five birds, two stones? I don't know. Are you still invisible?

LAURA: We're heading to the Core Spire.

MATT: All right. Everyone mark off a silver piece for the return trip.

SAM: Someone spot me.

TRAVIS: Probably not now.

TALIESIN: Did you just say that?

TRAVIS: It's worn off by now.

LAURA: I'm paying for FCG.

TALIESIN: Okay, never mind. I was going to take another hit, but that's okay.

TRAVIS: You've got so much-- (whispering) You've got so much money! That was almost half of what I have. You're very generous.

TALIESIN: Was that almost half of what you have?

TRAVIS: Yeah!

TALIESIN: Insight check. 13.

TRAVIS: Yeah!

TALIESIN: All right. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Just making sure. You're weird.

ROBBIE: As we're leaving and getting called out on being distracted, and they're chit-chatting about their date, all Dorian can think about is that woman in a fucking dark corner realizing he just gave information about himself and his brother. Every instinct in him wants to go back there and just fuck her up. He doesn't. He stays with his friends for now.

MATT: Okay, just focusing and staring forward as you all continue your return gondola trip to the Core Spire, shaking slightly along the way.

ASHLEY: Oh no!

LAURA: Fearne!

TRAVIS: We should probably relay some of the stuff that was said, I mean-- Artana said some messed up shit.

SAM: You did?

TRAVIS: No! The bounty hunter.

ASHLEY: What kind of things?

LAURA: Do you want to relay it all?

TRAVIS: Well, I'll relay it all, but there was, I mean. She said "as long as you don't get bit."

LAURA: What do you mean "bit?"

ASHLEY: Bit by what?

LIAM: By the beast.

TRAVIS: Yeah, Gurge.

LIAM: By Gurge.

ASHLEY: What is-- (gasps) is he--?

MARISHA: He's got, you know, some sort of infectious--

LIAM: Direwolves?

SAM: Someone said wild. What, he's a wild person? Wild man?

TRAVIS: Yeah, he's a-- He either was turned into a beast or becomes a beast or--

ASHLEY: Maybe he becomes-- Did you ever see him turn into anything?

TRAVIS: No!

ASHLEY: By the light of a full moon?

TRAVIS: No. He smelled terrible, though.

LAURA: Would we know about werewolves and stuff like that?

MATT: You only have the information you've been given.

LAURA: I know! Would there be lore of werewolves or something?

MATT: There's definitely folktales about it. You've never encountered one, but people speak of distant stories. Occasionally in Marquet, there are tales of people that transform into beasts at the light of a full moon. Some that go wild and just-- Murdering folks, some that end up being hunted down as destroyers of villages, but they all seem kind of old, and, you assume, used to scare the children.

LIAM: You could've been a gnome werewolf, Travis. You blew it. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Shit! (laughter)

TRAVIS: Reset, back to one! (laughter)

ASHLEY: Wait, you said he smelled. What does he smell like? Just--

TRAVIS: Like urine. (laughs)

ASHLEY: I don't know if I know what that is.

TRAVIS: A little fecal matter.

LAURA: A little fecal--

ASHLEY: Oh, oh, oh.

LIAM: Pee and poo.

TRAVIS: Yeah, and just B.O. I think he was one of those au naturel people, doesn't like to offset the natural musk.

ASHLEY: Sure.

TRAVIS: I just figured that's from the wilderness stuff. Now that I'm putting it together, like a jigsaw puzzle, one piece at a time. The picture becomes clearer. Stinky.

SAM: This bounty hunter said that Gurge was delivered to the Moon Tower? Is that right?

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: Yeah, the full name was Vali? What was the last name?

TRAVIS: Vali Der--

ASHLEY: Dertrana?

MATT: Dertrana.

LIAM: Dertrana.

SAM: That's who ordered the hit or the capture?

MATT: Correct.

TRAVIS: Delivered alive!

MATT: They are the business commissioner of the Mirror Towers.

MARISHA and LAURA: Business commissioner.

ROBBIE: Head of business.

MARISHA: At the Mirror Tower? Moon Tow--

SAM: Mirror Tow--

MATT: Within the Moon Tower of the Mirror Towers, there are--

TRAVIS: Is it "Mirror Towers" or "Meer?"

MATT: It's the Mirror--

TRAVIS: Mirror Towers.

SAM: Mirror Towers.

MATT: Now, that's a space that you know of and you may have heard of, but none of you have really been to. It's further towards the top of the Core Spire. You get closer to the Quorum Grounds. While a number of-- Close to a majority of the Mahaan houses live on the Lucent Spire. A number of them do reside and do their business, as well as a number of the guilds, up towards the top of the Core Spire, overlooking the rest of Jrusar and the surrounding jungle.

LAURA: Is the Core Spire the tallest?

MATT: It is the second tallest. The Aerie Spire, which is where the conservatory and the sky port is, is the tallest, but it's also a lot thinner. Most of its construction is towards the top of it, as opposed to the Core Spire, which is almost throughout the entire Spire itself.

TRAVIS: Who knows anything about the Moon Tower?

MARISHA: Ashton!

TALIESIN: I've never fucking been there. I don't know.

SAM: The Aerie Spire, we're going there now?

LAURA: No, we're going to the Core Spire.

SAM: Oh, okay.

LAURA: To the Mirror Tower of the Core Spire.

LIAM: Of the Moon Towers.

MARISHA: No, the Moon Tower--

MARISHA, LAURA, and LIAM: Of the Mirror Towers.

MARISHA: -- of the Core Spire.

LIAM: Oh my gosh.

TRAVIS: You've been here longest, but you haven't gone there because, why? Is it fancy or something?

MARISHA: Would we know anything about if it's fancy?

MATT: You would know that a number of guilds actually carry the core of their business within what you've heard are the Mirror Towers. You've never been there. You're not quite sure what a Moon Tower is. You've generally not wandered that far off because you haven't had a reason to, but you know that apparently, it's a place of guild business and that's about it. If you want to roll a history check for any additional info?

TALIESIN: I mean, fuck it.

MATT: Just in case.

LAURA: I wonder if we're going to get kicked out. They're really particular about people they let--

MATT: Nah.

TALIESIN: No.

LAURA: -- wander into these places.

TALIESIN: That was-- just in case I'm wrong-- Four.

SAM: We've got to sneak in and get Gurge for--

LAURA: We need to sneak in?

SAM: Chetney, right?

MARISHA: And they said they'd--

SAM: Or else we don't get toys.

MARISHA: They took him alive, which is interesting.

TALIESIN: When you put it like that.

MARISHA: Because business commissioner makes sense: she wants to takes him out if she's afraid that he's going to cause any panic or scare and detract from local business.

TALIESIN: That's an expensive person to hire to take them out.

MARISHA: But she wanted him alive, right? Why not just take him out?

LAURA: Chetney, is this guy a real bad guy? Is he a criminal? Has he killed people? Are we trying to let a killer free?

SAM: Yeah, we're talking about, now, going to bust out a werewolf man from an ivory tower so that he can recommend you for an apprentice carpenter job? Is that what's happening? (laughter)

LAURA: This is a bit absurd at this point.

LIAM: Yeah, you could just slum it with us. I say that as someone who just dumped 100 gold for you.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LIAM: But still.

TRAVIS: I could pay you back half of that.

LIAM: I just want my wooden toy.

MARISHA: I guess we're just curious if there's another route to the same outcome--

SAM: Or another layer that perhaps you haven't revealed to us yet about why-- the importance of this gentlemen.

TRAVIS: I don't know enough about him. I didn't know he killed anybody and I didn't know he was a beast or a wolf or bear, lion, whatever the hell he is. I don't know, maybe we can find out a little bit more, but you're right. It's all a little frustrating.

ASHLEY: Was he a friend to you?

ROBBIE: Yes, why are you so dedicated to this cause?

TRAVIS: Well, when I left Uthodurn, I left all the years of work that I had done behind and a bit of a career, all up in smoke and then I thought that might be the end of my crafting days and I suppose it could be again, but it makes me real happy and he seemed to understand that I had skills that are kind of rare and the people that pointed me in his direction said that he was the key to, you know, higher clientele. I took it on faith. I'm sorry I don't have more answers. It's really all I have, but it sounded pretty good at the time.

MARISHA: Oh no, it's nice to be believed in. Sometimes it's very special when it comes around

LAURA: Can I roll an insight check?

MATT: Sure.

ASHLEY: Good call.

TALIESIN: Shifty carpenter man.

LAURA: 13.

MATT: 13.

TRAVIS: Can I roll a deception check?

MATT: You may, if you'd like.

MARISHA: Wait, what does it mean?

TALIESIN: Travis is just fucking with us.

TRAVIS: 21. (laughter) It's all lies, Imogen. I want to wear your skin for a hat. (laughter) You could just ask me! I say it in my head.

MARISHA: She has nice skin, honestly.

TRAVIS: I said that in my head.

MARISHA: Oh, the skin part?

TRAVIS: Yep.

MARISHA: Thought it was--

TALIESIN: Did you just blurt out "she has nice skin" out of nowhere--

TRAVIS: What the fuck, Laudna! Shit! (laughter)

ASHLEY: She has nice skin.

LAURA: Okay, in your head you hear--

MARISHA: Just in the ether.

LAURA: There's got to be more to this, Chetney.

TRAVIS: Out loud you hear: I'm sure there is, I don't know any more than that. That's literally all I have. Truly. We can just leave it, I don't want anybody getting hurt and I don't want you being out more money.

LIAM: Well, in this beast's defense, we have heard that the people down below think highly of him, which doesn't jive with him being, you know, a crazed murderer. Tell you what, the ladies have a date in three or four hours. Why don't we just visit, look around? What's the worst that could happen? We don't need to go invading a tower tonight.

TRAVIS: That would be most generous of you. I would take you up on that. I mean, if that's okay with the ladies. What?

LAURA: Nothing. Nothing at all.

MARISHA: Are you going to go on a little boy date while we have our date?

LIAM: You don't want to come with? I mean.

MARISHA: Oh wait, what?

LAURA: What?

MARISHA: I was distracted.

LIAM: It's, like, four hours away your date, right?

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: I was just saying maybe we all go have a look around

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: Oh, all right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, lets go.

LIAM: Not invade a tower tonight, but just get a lay of the land.

ASHLEY: What is the Moon Tower? Isn't it weird that they have--

LAURA: Is there a Sun Tower and a Moon Tower?

SAM: Maybe that's the Mirrors.

ASHLEY: Maybe the moon makes it come alive.

MARISHA: That's a good point.

SAM: Let's go find out.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Yeah, let's go find out.

MATT: So you have spent most of your time within the Core Spire, in the central, mid-range of its spiraling main streets, following where you know it's supposed to be, you begin to head further and further up and as you do, you cross by beautiful gardens, these tree-covered, constructed elements of the most beautiful aspects of the surrounding jungle, cultivated to be a welcoming presence here in the middle of the industrial city. Continuing further upward, you pass a massive waterfall that cascades from the top of the spire, which is odd given the fact that there is nothing feeding a waterfall from that far up, in a spire this thin, but it cascades down the side of the spire and spreads into a series of rivers that scatter across and then spill off the side of the spire, down, turning into mist waterfalls below. You begin to realize that there are certain portions of the Core Spire street below where there's perpetual mist flowing. You now know its source is from this upper portion. There are bridges that lead over each of these small rivers. Continuing onward and keeping an eye abound, you do eventually find rising against the stone spire wall to your left, a heavy gate that surrounds a guarded courtyard that holds up four beautiful polished towers of marble and limestone, that climb to a droplet-like peak, each of them, at different heights. Heavy vine cover climbs up the sides of each tower, the peripheral edges, carefully manicured to frame the warmly-lit arched windows that adorn these towers in different ways. You can see the base of each tower expands into a small compound with its own interior set of chambers and you can see sets of stone archways that dot the courtyard where different pillars and statues mark way points and paths between them, set with nearby benches. This is a beautiful space, cultivated, gated, and you can see there is probably four wardens that are keeping perimeter or standing watch at the front gates that lead into the interior of the space that, glancing about, you get the sense this is likely the Mirror Towers, as the bit of, now starting to press into sunset, lighting is gleaming off of their polished exterior's strongly and catching the surrounding neighborhood in bright, flickering lights that occasionally shift and shimmer almost like you're underwater.

LAURA: Do any of them obviously look like it would be the Moon Tower?

MATT: Not from this distance.

MARISHA: You said they're laid out in a geometric--

MATT: There's two of them that are the closest and then there are two more behind and further apart that are not quite up against the spire itself, a little bit further away from it to allow green courtyard to surround it and there are trees and bits of jungle brush that have been carefully manicured as well, similar to the gardens you've passed by and you can see the stone pathways between and through these arches that creates this interior space and there's probably about a dozen or so people you can see, some that are sitting and talking in elements of this courtyard, others they're walking from one tower to another. You see a one set that exits from the front gate and give a nod to the guard as they head further up the spire into buildings above.

SAM: Are there simurghs around or anything patrolling?

MATT: There are, glancing-- Actually, make a perception check for me.

SAM: Mm-mm. Nine.

MATT: Nine. At a glance, you see maybe two or three that are in the sky, not directly scanning overhead, but three that are at a quick glance around within, you know, 300-400 feet of your location, glancing over the city.

LIAM: Excuse me, ma'am. We're visiting and everyone is set to come get a look at these towers. I'm sorry to intrude, what can you tell me about them? They're beautiful.

MATT: This older woman with a soft monocle that sits over the bridge of the nose with a chain that links to her earring. You can see her hair is heavily curled and then held underneath with a pin to where it gives this braid bob look to it. She has a high-V collar coat that goes over the rest of her outfit. She looks very well dressed, with some jewelry. Her, you know, dark tan skin and this creased smile peaks up. "Of course, these are indeed the Mirror Towers. This is where a number of the guilds do their business and where the Quorum occasionally holds meetings outside of the main halls at the peak of the spire. Where are you from?"

LIAM: Well, we're old friends, but we're from all over. Some of us live here, but some are coming from overseas even.

MATT: "Hmm. Well, welcome to Jrusar, Those of you who are from far from here, and I hope you enjoy your stay in our beautiful city."

LIAM: Oh, thank you. Do they do the same thing in all four of these?

MATT: "Oh, different business, it shifts from time to time. It is often a place where our diplomats and visitors on official business will come and stay and have their meets."

LIAM: So they each have their own purpose?

MATT: "Yes, but even that varies based on what is available and what is needed at the time."

LIAM: What's this one called?

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

LIAM: Oh no. It's three. (laughter)

ROBBIE: How long can the country rube--

MATT: Yeah. "I am terribly sorry, but we are on our way for an evening's rest, but good luck, I hope you enjoy your stay. All of you."

ASHLEY: Uh, oh-- uh.

MATT: Yeah? (laughter)

ASHLEY: I love your glasses, your monocle.

MATT: "Thank you."

ASHLEY: Where did you get it?

MATT: "It was a gift many years ago."

ASHLEY: Oh, I love it. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Can I have it? (laughter)

MATT: "No."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: And she turns to leave. (laughter)

LAURA: "Okay." (laughter)

LIAM: Swing and a miss.

LAURA: Good try, though, good try.

MARISHA: It wasn't bad.

SAM: Should we ask how to get in through the gate? Or do you like, if you need a pass or something?

LAURA: Need to make an appointment? Are there guards? There's guards.

MATT: There are two guards posted at the entry gate and you can see there are two separate wardens that are slowly working their way across the perimeter and there is, it is like an oval courtyard path of the gates, meaning it doesn't completely connect in the back, it meets the back portion of the spire. You can see built into the rock behind it, there are a few open windows, like there is an interior structure of some kind and as you get up to this part, you can start seeing more windows and platforms and balconies built into the spire that overlooked different elements of the city, that aren't necessarily part of this courtyard and the towers themselves. But you don't have any close view of them, necessarily.

TRAVIS: There probably aren't any symbols or identifying iconography on the outside of the towers or anything?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Ugh, 14.

MATT: 14. From this distance, you can make out the front tower to the left. Along its base, you can see there is an arched doorway that leads into the bottom of the tower and about 10 feet above it, in a darkly colored, similar limestone material. Right there, you would see-- Sorry, I'm double checking here the different types there are. Okay. You see a circle with a series of diamond shapes that emerge from it in a continued pattern around its perimeter.

MARISHA: The sun?

TRAVIS: Feels like it, or that's the Snowflake Tower. (laughter)

MARISHA: Obviously not wrong.

ASHLEY: Snowflake Tower, Sun Tower, Moon Tower--

LAURA: Rain Tower.

ASHLEY: Rain Tower.

TRAVIS: That's the one that's to the front left?

MATT: Front left, yes.

LIAM: Well, let's just keep strolling.

LAURA: Can I go up to one of the guards?

LIAM: You sure can.

LAURA: I mean.

MARISHA: Maybe they do guided tours.

TRAVIS: You going on another date?

LAURA: (chuckles weakly)

SAM: Before you walk up, can I cast Guidance on you?

LAURA: Sure.

SAM: Okay. You got this.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: As you approach, you see the two wardens that are at the front. There was one that appears to be a younger human, muscular, handsome with a bit of curled dark hair that comes from underneath the helmet that he's wearing. The other looks to be a bronze-scaled dragonborn, probably a little older with you can't quite tell if it's facial hair, or an actual facial trait but part of the chin comes to a long point that seems to curl inward at the edge, but they're both armored and holding their position and as you approach, they glance over, not aggressively, but definitely in a curious wariness.

LAURA: Hi. All right. So I was sent here. I'm from Gelvaan, have you heard of the city?

MATT: The two look at each other, and the dragonborn pipes up, Yes, we are aware of the location."

LAURA: Wonderful! So Master Faramore has asked if I would come and talk to someone about opening a business here and he said that the person to talk to was the business commissioner, but I think he said her name was-- oh gosh, what was it? Vali, Vali Dertrana, I think it was, about getting a license or something, I think he was looking, looking for a way to--

MATT: Make a deception check.

MARISHA: Come on.

TALIESIN: I think you have a d4 on that.

MATT: You do add a d4, yes.

LAURA: Oh! Do I get advantage?

MATT: Nope.

LAURA: Okay, cool, that's a natural one. So I don't think a four is going to do anything.

MATT: Doesn't matter on that. "Unfortunately, lest you have previously set a meeting with the commissioner, you may be out of luck. Perhaps I would submit something in writing."

LAURA: That makes sense, you know. Of course, I think he sent a letter ahead of time, but it probably hasn't arrived yet, so--

MATT: "What is your name? I could pass it along inside."

LAURA: Imogen of the Faramore Residence. Also--

MATT: Writes it down.

LAURA: Did he send it to the correct tower? Now he thought it was the Moon Tower, but I see there are four and now I'm wondering if maybe we sent it to the wrong one.

MATT: As he's writing in the notes, haphazardly, goes like, "Well, if it was the commissioner, it's likely the Moon Tower."

LAURA: Moon Tower, yeah, and which one was that? Oh gosh, they all look the same.

MATT: He begins to point towards the-- what from your perspective will be the back right portion before the other guard takes a spear, hits their foot. "Ah, somewhere on the premises."

LAURA: Right, sorry. All right, well, keep an eye out. Oh, is there a mailbox or someone that it should be delivered? Oh gosh.

MATT: "I will pass this within. Try back again tomorrow morning."

LAURA: Thank you so much. You've been so helpful. What was your name?

MATT: "It does not matter. Have a good day."

LAURA: Thank you.

SAM: How'd you do?

LAURA: I think I know where the Moon Tower is. It's that one back there.

TRAVIS: That was bloody great.

LAURA: (laughs)

ASHLEY: Okay, well, we know which one the Moon Tower is.

LAURA: Yeah, but I don't know how we're going to get in there.

MARISHA: Maybe this is something we can get Eshteross' help with, like some sort of a written pass.

LAURA: That's true, that's true.

LIAM: Introduction.

LAURA: He's got so many ins, I feel like, yeah.

MARISHA: Anything he writes on paper is gold.

LIAM: Is it just the one entrance?

TALIESIN: Or pick and choose.

MATT: Looking about, there is the main gate in the front and the rest of it is a large wall that surrounds the courtyard that is about seven and a half feet tall and you can see has metallic pikes along the way, about every half foot or so. That's primarily what you can see.

LIAM: You said the back towers are close or up against the spire itself?

MATT: They're not up against it, but they're maybe 20, 30 feet from the spire wall to allow more of the courtyard to still fill the space behind them with green and bush.

LIAM: And that spire behind those two towers, how high does that go?

MATT: The spire is the central rock core of the entire city spire and that climbs up for, I'd say 500, 600 feet more.

TALIESIN: I could toss you over the wall.

LIAM: I know you can.

TRAVIS: I could go invisible with Ashton again and we could just--

ASHLEY: Walk right in.

TALIESIN: I'm not doing that with you again.

TRAVIS: What do you mean? We're synced up.

TALIESIN: No, I don't really think we are.

TRAVIS: Oh.

TALIESIN: No.

TRAVIS: I could go invisible with Orym again. No, just kidding.

LAURA: Man.

LIAM: By the way, you owe me drinks for the next two months.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Or the rest of your life, whatever comes first.

LAURA: It's a long life.

ROBBIE: Things always tend to go sideways when we sneak in somewhere we're not supposed to be.

LAURA: I feel like we got to find a way to just get in.

MARISHA: I know, I feel like we've resorted to the B&E route quite a bit and maybe we should mix it up.

TRAVIS: The letter's a good idea. I mean, you guys have a hookup, right?

LAURA: Yeah. We should talk to him.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: Surely.

ASHLEY: He can get us something official.

MARISHA: Maybe there's a pass, like a fast pass.

SAM: (laughs)

MARISHA: Like the trolleys should have.

ASHLEY: They really do need a pass here of some sort.

TALIESIN: Maybe one-- I don't know if they use those any more, though. It might be gone.

MARISHA: What?! (laughter) What is this, you need some sort of membership?

LIAM: This is the Haunted One background built all around fast pass. (laughter)

SAM: Are we deciding we're not getting in tonight? We're not going to try to-- y'all aren't trying to do your fancy stuff to get--

ASHLEY: I mean, I could see if I can walk in.

SAM: Or be a bird or something.

ASHLEY: Little-- All they can do is say no. Oh, I guess I could.

MATT: Do you have flight unlocked currently in your--

ASHLEY: No, I can't fly yet.

TALIESIN: You could be a bird that doesn't fly. You could be, like, a penguin.

MATT: At a certain level, she will be able to fly, but not quite there.

ASHLEY: No flying speed yet.

ROBBIE: So it looks like this whole area is fortified from the front facing side.

MATT: Correct.

ROBBIE: And then built into this--

MATT: Correct. It's a large oval wall that holds in the courtyard and the towers are within this central courtyard.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

LIAM: So if we're doing sneaky, sneaky. You got the gates, you got the wall, you got mountain climbing.

ROBBIE: That's a lot of sneaking.

MATT: There are a number of hedges and large bushes and archways all throughout the courtyards. It's not an open field.

ROBBIE: Everyone get a hedge. Put it on.

MATT: I mean, worked for Snake. (laughter)

MATT: He never did a hedge, but he should've.

LAURA: Are there people constantly coming in and out of these gates?

MATT: Not too often. In fact, since you've arrived, you saw the two that were leaving as you approached and you've probably been looking around, walking in the space, in a very nonchalant, not attention drawing way for about 10, 15 minutes and you haven't seen anybody else exiting.

LAURA: I feel like if it's a place of business then people would be coming in and out all the time.

TALIESIN: Might be the hour.

SAM: How intricate are the wardens outfits?

MATT: They're no more or less intricate than the other wardens you've seen around the city.

SAM: Are they the same? Everyone's uniform is the same?

MATT: For the wardens are generally the same. You see small details, like other, beyond them personalizing themselves, or occasionally seeing some with shoulder pauldrons and other symbols of higher station and having some authority amongst over other wardens. But continuously, you see a through line in the general attire they wear, yes.

TALIESIN: You having a thought?

SAM: Well, yeah, I'm trying to think, you know, some of y'all could blend in as a warden and walk some of the other ones in, maybe? If we got-- we have a fabric place that we've been to. (laughter)

LAURA: That is true.

ROBBIE: Costumes.

TALIESIN: None of us blend very well. That's the one thing that I keep noticing. This is not a-- this is not a-- I can't think when you're doing that. It's okay, it's okay.

MARISHA: Doing what?

TALIESIN: Nothing.

MARISHA: Just making eye contact. Trying to be polite.

TALIESIN: Keep at it.

LIAM: A dead lady standing next to a robot.

MARISHA: I don't know what the fuck you mean?

SAM: If you put a spotlight on us, we could be cops, right? (laughter)

ROBBIE: We're totally not cops!

SAM: I'm a warden!

MARISHA: I've got sunglasses.

SAM: Freeze! (laughter)

LAURA: Let's try to get a letter.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Yeah, and then if that fails, we can, you know--

MARISHA: Break and enter.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Things are going real well.

TRAVIS: Or decide if that's what we want to do. You're being very generous, again. This looks pretty-- It looks a little more heavy duty than the kitchen in the tavern.

LAURA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: It feels like an official way in would be better.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: I'm honestly pretty invested, though, I kind of want to meet this Gurge.

TRAVIS: You're infested?

ASHLEY: Me, too.

MARISHA: I mean, yes, but invested.

TRAVIS: Oh! Phew!

ROBBIE: But even if we got inside, how do we know where to look?

LAURA: Well. Yeah, I think we need to be shown to Vali.

LIAM: Yeah, we don't want to raid a whole tower.

ROBBIE: If Artana got in by bringing in a bounty and this family is looking for bounties, who's to say we can't find our own?

TALIESIN: (doubtful humming)

TRAVIS: Oh shit!

ROBBIE: Oh, you like that?

TRAVIS: Well, you look like a bounty.

ROBBIE: No, no, no. That's not what I meant. No, no, no.

MARISHA: I thought that was what you were suggesting?

ROBBIE: Excuse me, no, no, no.

LAURA: Oh my gosh, Dorian, that's such a good idea!

ROBBIE: I thought we could actually find a legitimate bounty and then--

SAM: How can you look closer to your brother?

LAURA: Just put a hood on him.

ROBBIE: I don't even believe this is the-- Is this the same family that is looking for--

SAM: No, it's not, but maybe they would be interested in finding one that another family is after.

MARISHA: Well, also for the guilds do business here, that means that the Treshis are a part of here.

ROBBIE: I'm just not certain I want to bring more--

SAM: Pretend you're your brother.

TRAVIS: Yeah, put these manacles on. (clanking) (laughter)

TALIESIN: Why do you have--

SAM: Why do you have manacles?

TRAVIS: What? You got to hold wood still sometimes, you make do with what you got. You don't have manacles?

TALIESIN: Well, actually, to be fair, I've seen a lot wood trying to escape lately, so I can't actually--

ASHLEY: I don't know about--

LAURA: I don't like it, take it off.

ROBBIE: I don't think that I can.

TRAVIS: Try.

ROBBIE: (grunts)

TRAVIS: Tink! They come right off.

ROBBIE: Oh!

TRAVIS: I disabled the locking mechanism.

ROBBIE: Are these toy handcuffs?

TRAVIS: Yeah, you got to lock them closed, otherwise they just shut.

ROBBIE: Thank you, Chetney.

TRAVIS: What the fuck, you think I'm crazy? (laughter)

ROBBIE: I could, sure.

TALIESIN: I-- I think that would be a better idea after we got your brother out of town.

ROBBIE: I don't want to bring any extra attention to him.

LAURA: Yeah.

ROBBIE: I'm sorry, Chetney.

MARISHA: Should we try and get him out of town, speaking of?

TALIESIN: I think we should try and get him the fuck out of town. This would be a good idea if your brother was out of town.

ROBBIE: All right.

TALIESIN: But... We got to do something about that, it's family, you got to take care of fucking family.

ASHLEY: Well--

ASHLEY: Where else were you going with that idea, though?

ROBBIE: Hmm?

ASHLEY: Where else were you going with that idea?

ROBBIE: Oh, I just thought we could find our own legitimate bounty, maybe something, a little lower budget. Nine of us, it shouldn't be hard to go track someone down and take them out and bring them here and that not only would give us access to the Moon Tower, but also properly walk us into wherever they keep their bounties, which, after all, is what we're looking for.

LAURA: I don't think everybody is the same bounty, order though, this particular one came from Vali, but--

ROBBIE: Could we find one that came--? Do we know who the bounties come from?

TRAVIS: Do they post on walls and shit like?

ROBBIE: Yeah.

MATT: Occasionally. You would know this more than anyone. It's rare that a bounty goes on a public board somewhere because they don't want a bunch of fuckheads who see the culling number to go and to hunt someone down, so it's usually gone through whisper networks and recommendations.

TALIESIN: This is not the sort of information we would be privy to, and anyone who would have it to give it to us, wouldn't want to because it's their money, not ours.

MARISHA: What about-- Speaking of boards, though, what about this?

TRAVIS: Paper? What is this?

SAM: It's talking about the Paragon's Call.

MARISHA: Yeah, it says, you know, demand skilled hands to protect us, demand Quorum approval, you know, didn't they say that the Quorum did meetings here.

ASHLEY: They did, they did!

MARISHA: Maybe we want to be a part of Paragon's Call.

SAM: I don't even know if Paragon's Call exists right now.

LAURA: I think Paragon's Call is against the Quorum.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I think the-- Right?

SAM: Well.

MARISHA: No. "Demand Quorum approval and authority for the Paragon's Call." These were the angry rich people that were like, "Oh, we want to have--"

SAM: Special force of--

TRAVIS: Could I see that?

MARISHA: Against the crime in the city.

ROBBIE: Can you read?

TRAVIS: Yeah. I can read, get the fuck out of here.

ASHLEY: What if we take that letter up to the guards?

TALIESIN: No, yeah, no, I hate that. I think that's a really fucking bad idea.

LAURA: Maybe we wait until there's new guards.

SAM: More like a political flyer than a letter.

LIAM: I honestly really liked Imogen's idea. I think it's solid.

SAM: Which is... get a letter?

LIAM: Yeah. See Eshteross.

MARISHA: I believe that was my idea. I feel like I have to put that out there.

SAM: Respect, respect.

MARISHA: Thank you.

ASHLEY: I think we should-- I think we should get the letter, I think we should get the letter.

SAM: We'll go get the letter, then.

LAURA: Good idea, Laudna.

MARISHA: Thank you.

TALIESIN: -- cheek skin when it happened, but yeah.

MATT: All right, so you're heading back to Eshteross' place?

SAM: I guess so.

LIAM: I save my praise for the living.

LAURA: (laughs) Aw.

TRAVIS: It's expensive to move between these spires.

MATT: Same spire, thankfully.

TRAVIS: Oh, it's the same spire. (laughter) I hook up a rope and repel down this bitch.

MATT: That is an option.

TRAVIS: Oh really?

MATT: Yeah, roll some acrobatics, man.

TRAVIS: How far is one level beneath the one that we're currently on?

MATT: A few hundred feet.

TRAVIS: Few hundred feet?! (laughter) You know, I'm good. (laughter) I'm cool.

MATT: All right. So heading down to the familiar space, more in the central part of the Core Spire, you return to the Eshteross manor. Evelyn leads you back to the same study where you can see a few more books have been pulled out and there is a tray with tea that may have been resting for awhile. Few of the books to the side and sitting in the same chair by the fire, you see Lord Ariks Eshteross finishing chewing on a cookie before turning and standing up. "You return."

LAURA: Already. You sick of us yet?

MATT: "Not possible."

LAURA: He's so wonderful.

ASHLEY: He's wonderful.

MARISHA: Are those cookies you baked? Your latest and greatest?

MATT: "I'm trying a new recipe."

LAURA: (laughs)

MATT: "Do you want to try some?" He lifts up the tray and holds it out.

MARISHA: Who would I be to say no? What are they?

MATT: "Maple." (gasping)

MATT: "But different!"

MARISHA: You daring boy.

MATT: As you take a bite, he goes, "I added ginger." (laughter)

MARISHA: Hmm, spicy yet sweet.

MATT: "And?"

MARISHA: And so soft. And is that-- Is that turmeric? (laughter) Fantastic!

ASHLEY: Anti-inflammatory as well. Wow!

MARISHA: Mm-hmm! Good for the throat.

MATT: "You have made me quite happy this night. Thank you for your insight."

MARISHA: Just returning the pleasure.

MATT: "Do you hear that, Evelyn? She likes it."

LIAM: Ginger snaps, canon. (laughter)

MATT: "Anyway, I do not think you were here to just try my baked goods. Unless you were, but--"

LAURA: No, so we were trying to get into the Moon Tower of the Mirror Towers.

MATT: "Hmm."

LAURA: And they wouldn't let us in, not surprising.

MATT: "Not at all."

LAURA: So I said that I knew a guy that was trying to open up a business. That didn't work too well, but we thought maybe if we had a letter that showed that we had actual business there, then we could potentially get in. Potentially.

MATT: "Do you have a specific... cover you would request for this?"

LAURA: Well, in the town that I am from, actually, the man I worked for, owns a lot of shops.

MATT: "And the name of this individual?"

LAURA: Master Faramore.

MATT: "Master Faramore." He walks aside and you can see he takes up a stack of paper that was in a drawer of a nearby desk, pulls two of them out, gets a ink and quill and begins to write down. (scribbling)

LAURA: I don't believe he has a shop in Jrusar already, but he has them all over Marquet.

MATT: "Understood." (scribbling) (laughter)

TRAVIS: Got squirrels in this room. (laughter)

MATT: Reaches over the top of the desk and takes a small stick of red coloration, holds it over one of the candles, lets it drip upon the sheet, reaches in a pocket and pulls out something on a long chain, presses it into it, rolls it up, and hands it to you.

SAM: Whoa!

MATT: "This should be enough to get you where you need."

LAURA: Thank you. Thank you. Wow. You make it look so easy.

ROBBIE: Don't be ungrateful.

LAURA: Um. Oh, I mean, that seems like two rewards, really.

LAURA: This is delicious.

MATT: "Then the trade was fair."

LAURA: That is really good.

TALIESIN: Um, um--

MATT: "Not you, you don't get one."

TALIESIN: That's fair.

MATT: "I'm kidding. Of course you can get one." (laughter)

TALIESIN: Not that this is necessarily your problem, but... we're trying to get somebody out of town extremely quiet. Getting them out quietly-- The person's actually a little irritatingly-- They talk a lot. We need to get someone out of town alive.

MATT: "What have you done in the past few hours since we last spoke?" (laughter)

TALIESIN: It took a lot to figure out where this guy was being held. We had to deal with some very shady people.

MATT: "Right?"

TALIESIN: It would be easier to move around the city if we had fewer things to worry about. Family in peril can make people do foolish things.

MATT: "What's it you ask of me, then?"

TALIESIN: Either if you're capable of getting somebody quietly out of town, or if you might know somebody who could.

MATT: "I could likely do so if this individual would be willing to come to me. As I think me or any of my associates reaching out would be met with mistrust, understandably. And you would owe me a favor."

TALIESIN: I don't think it would be my favor. I would recommend that when it comes to family, it's worth the paying of some fucking debts.

TRAVIS: I'll take the favor. You've paid my debts. I don't owe him anything yet. Seems only fair.

MATT: "This is acceptable."

TRAVIS: I'm trying!

ROBBIE: Thank you, Chetney.

TRAVIS: Yeah, whatever.

SAM: Well, that's all if your brother even wants to go.

TALIESIN: Better fucking go.

ROBBIE: It seems a bit silly. This individual is my brother and I have to know. These bounties that we discussed earlier, what's their reach? Jrusar? Marquet? How far do these things travel?

MATT: "Well if the amount is right, and it's been around long enough, it can reach every shore on Marquet. But it depends, bounty to bounty."

ROBBIE: Well. Out of town is good.

TALIESIN: If you think he's smart enough to fucking keep low, keep his head down, it's still going to be your problem. Some moron's going to think that you're him.

ROBBIE: Erase the bounty is better.

TALIESIN: It is better.

LIAM: More expensive, but not better.

MATT: "How much is this bounty?"

LAURA: A lot.

MARISHA: 20,000 gold.

MATT: (Eshteross exhales)

ROBBIE: As you can tell, we are in several situations above our station.

MATT: "Even if I were to escort your brother out of this city, it would not do anything about the bounty. Do you wish this bounty paid off?"

TALIESIN: We'll have to hide him from them for now.

SAM: Do you have 20,000 gold extra just lying around?

MATT: "Lying around, no, but... (sighs)

TRAVIS: Can I just say, getting him off the X is pretty good. If 20K feels a little steep and moving is the next best thing, it worked really well for me. I'm just telling you.

LIAM: Maybe we could get him on an airship.

ASHLEY: Is there such thing as canceling a bounty?

MATT: "There is. If the reason for the bounty has been made in equal share. What has your brother done?"

ROBBIE: Vague. He was part of a protection party. Things went awry and he was the fall man. Something was stolen. We don't know what. Obviously important. The burden has fell on him.

LAURA: Oh yeah, they mentioned a golem.

MATT: "An automaton being. Quite an expensive thing to be taken. I imagine, if such a thing were returned to those who set the bounty that would cancel the debt with enough influence and good will."

LAURA: It was stolen from the Treshis?

TALIESIN: Was there any markings on it? I can't remember. Was there something that, I don't know. Do we have any leads on that?

LAURA: There was... There was the initials on the trunk.

LIAM: There were?

ASHLEY: JH?

LAURA: Initials on the trunk.

ASHLEY: JH!

TALIESIN: What were they?

ASHLEY: JH, I think.

TALIESIN: JH.

ASHLEY: I don't remember. Is that right?

TALIESIN: Does that ring anything?

ASHLEY: Jerry.

MATT: "I don't remember the individual with this 'JH'"

SAM: Heinfeld. (laughs)

MARISHA: (laughs) Jerry Heinfeld! (laughter)

LAURA: Does that ring any bells? JH?

TALIESIN: I may have a thing. I'll try and dig it up.

ASHLEY: Juh.

TALIESIN: Wouldn't make sense, though.

MARISHA and TRAVIS: Jahh.

MARISHA: Jaah--

TRAVIS: Jaa...

ASHLEY and TRAVIS: Ooh?

MARISHA: Haa... naa

TRAVIS: Jeh?

LIAM: Jimmy Hoffa.

MARISHA: Maybe it's--

SAM: Jimmy Hoffa! (laughter)

SAM: We found him!

TALIESIN: Oh, yes. (laughter)

ASHLEY: After all these years!

TALIESIN: Scraping the NPC names at this point.

SAM: We have a letter. So, we have one actionable item.

LAURA: Yeah. All right.

SAM: Then a lot to think about with your brother.

MARISHA: Is it time for our date?

SAM: Oh my gosh.

TRAVIS: What time of day is it?

MATT: Right now, it's about-- close to sunset in the next 30, 40 minutes. You probably have a little over two and a half hours.

MARISHA: We've still got time. Should we freshen up?

LAURA: (laughs)

MARISHA: I think I'm covered in blood still. I'm not sure.

LAURA: I mean, yeah, we haven't bathed since--

MARISHA: Weeks!

ASHLEY: We're fine!

LAURA: It's been a while.

MARISHA: It's been a while. (laughter)

SAM: What do you ladies like to do on dates? What's your ideal date?

ASHLEY: What everybody does, I think.

SAM: Which is what? I don't really know.

ASHLEY: Dancing and eating and-- So many things. (laughter)

SAM: Dancing and eating. How about you, Imogen?

LAURA: Oh-- uh...

SAM: Have you been on a date before?

LAURA: Uh...

TRAVIS: Oh, shit.

SAM: Oh, no?

LAURA: No.

ASHLEY: Oh.

SAM: Oh, are you bashful about that?

LAURA: No-- Bashful about not being on a date?

SAM: Just, you know, going on a date?

LAURA: You know, no, it's just-- Like a-- you know... It's hard to find someone who-- If you're on a date, it's just that one person. You're reading their mind. You know all the things that you're doing wrong, and--

SAM: Oh, you can hear!

LAURA: It gets really uncomfortable, you know. Plus, you know, people think you're weird and then-- They don't--

MARISHA: That's why I hadn't ever been on a date.

SAM: Because people think you're weird?

MARISHA: Mm-hmm!

TRAVIS: What about before you died?

MARISHA: You know, when I was a young girl, of course I was still the freak of the town, but there was a crush on a young boy that I went to school with and... I feel like he threw dirt in my face at one point.

LIAM: What was the boy's name?

MARISHA: Andy. (laughter)

ROBBIE: No! (laughter)

ROBBIE: Hell no.

TALIESIN: Not Whitestone Andy? Really? (laughter)

TALIESIN: Have you been reading my fucking notes?

MARISHA: Not-- Andrew! (laughter)

ASHLEY: Whitestone Andy?!

MATT: You can read all about Whitestone Andy in the Tal'Dorei Campaign Guide. (laughter)

LIAM: I was fishing for a person. I didn't get what I wanted.

ROBBIE: High fantasy Andy.

MARISHA: She did not know fucking Percy!

TRAVIS: Just toss that one back in! (laughter)

LIAM: Last name Griffith?

TRAVIS: Oh my god. (laughter)

MARISHA: (whistles)

LIAM: It's canon!

MARISHA: No!

LIAM: Oh man!

MARISHA: My whistle broke!

TRAVIS: Percival Fredrickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III, and... Andy. (laughter)

LIAM: Oh, Andy. (laughter)

LAURA: Okay. All right. So, yeah, that's what you do on dates. You go dancing, and you eat.

MARISHA: I'm so excited!

SAM: I mean-- I didn't-- Yeah, you go dancing, you eat.

MARISHA: Is the theater a wrong choice? Is that bad?

SAM: Asking me? I don't know!

ASHLEY: Theater would be great!

MARISHA: We should take him for a walk in a graveyard.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LAURA: That actually sounds really pleasant. Sounds really peaceful.

MATT: "This is extremely riveting. I must tell you."

MARISHA: Oh, my goodness, we're still here.

TRAVIS: Can I have a--

MATT: "You have not left?"

TRAVIS: May I have--?

MATT: "There's two left."

TRAVIS: Oh, excellent. Dorian, do you want one?

ROBBIE: Share?

TRAVIS: No, you have your own cookie. You can't have mine.

ROBBIE: Oh, I'll take it.

TRAVIS: I have both.

ROBBIE: It's the polite thing to do, to share sometimes.

TRAVIS: Here, here.

ROBBIE: I don't-- okay, fine.

TRAVIS: I gave you the bigger one.

ROBBIE: Thank you.

MATT: "Well, good luck. Stay safe. Don't take too long. That is dated, so--"

LAURA: Oh! Would it be prudent to go in the morning or today? Do you think?

MATT: "With a little convincing, tomorrow should be fine, but the sooner the better, rightly."

LAURA: All right. Thank you. We could go right now?

MARISHA: That's true. Is it weird that it's after hours?

SAM: You mean go up to the tower again?

LAURA: We could. We've got an hour and a half before the date.

SAM: Sounds more important than a date with an ogre?

LAURA: Well, it's--

SAM: The kitchen guy?

ROBBIE: Thank you. The cook man was nice, but--

SAM: Are y'all really, truly--

LAURA: He was very sweet! You didn't spend a lot of time talking to him. The whole time you were back there, we were having a conversation.

SAM: Are you really? You're thinking you might've found your soulmate? All three of you, in this ogre?

ASHLEY, LAURA, and MARISHA: No!

MARISHA: It was about company and being kind.

ROBBIE: Can we make it a speed date?

TALIESIN: If you're not careful, you slowly will get banned from every single bar within the towers, because you'll get awkward with the cook in one. You'll get awkward with the bartender in another. You'll start a fight in another. You'll accidentally start making out with somebody's sister! Things get weird. You might as well take it and deal with it now. Go on the fucking date, so we can go back there and drink at some point in the near fucking future.

ASHLEY: Yeah, but what if we fall head over hooves with him?

ROBBIE: What if it's a terrible date? The two of you have never actually been on one before.

SAM: There's also three of you. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Well, it's more to love. I guess.

MARISHA: You know what would be very--

SAM: Are you going to fuck this guy?

MARISHA: What the fuck are you talking about?

ASHLEY: Isn't that what you do on a date? (laughter)

TALIESIN: What the fuck, Grass? (laughter)

TALIESIN: What have you been reading?

SAM: I just don't want anyone to be led on. He seemed like he had a pure heart, and you don't want to--

ASHLEY: He did. It was a very pure, big heart, swollen, turgid--

MARISHA: It's--

ROBBIE: Excuse me?

TRAVIS and LAURA: Turgid?

TALIESIN: Thank you for turgid. There are no expectations placed on this. I think it's just a good time for everybody involved.

MARISHA: Honestly, it's highly likely he's going to die from clogged arteries at any moment-- (laughter)

MARISHA: -- from the amount of grease that he serves everyone and himself, so.

ASHLEY: Give him some glorious last days.

LIAM: -- of the day is it?

SAM: All right.

MATT: It's 25 minutes until sunset.

LIAM: Sunset?

MARISHA: We've got 25 minutes? Oh, no, wait, two hours--

ALL: Two hours.

MARISHA: Two hours and 25 minutes. (laughter)

LIAM: It's maybe the end of the workday.

LAURA: So now's the time to go visit her. Because she'll be wanting to get done with everything. We can jump in. She'll try to: Fine, let's talk really fast. She might give something away.

SAM: All right. Let's go.

LIAM: We'll quickly rattle the information out of her, find this person, wrap it up quick before your date.

ROBBIE: Oh, I'm sure we'll be done in time.

ASHLEY: Yes, this sounds like such a great, solid plan that will definitely go very smoothly.

TRAVIS: So we're going in as business people? We're going to make our way in to the Moon Tower, and talk to someone about Gurge?

ROBBIE: Yes.

TRAVIS: And we get him?

LAURA and MARISHA: Uh--

MARISHA: That's a little--

SAM and MARISHA: TBD.

ASHLEY: We'll figure that out.

TRAVIS: Okay.

LAURA: I don't think he's there, personally.

ASHLEY: You don't?

LAURA: No, I do not think Gurge is going to be in that Moon Tower. I think Gurge is going to be at a different location. Personally.

LIAM: Probably.

MARISHA: Maybe.

ASHLEY: What if he's in a room?

MARISHA: Those towers definitely have dungeons.

ASHLEY: Yeah, or he's in a room where the ceiling is open, and then they wait for the moon to come out, and he's like, "Awoo!"

LAURA: (gasps) At the Moon Tower! Fearne, that's brilliant.

ASHLEY: Well, there's a lot more where that came from.

TRAVIS: Do we know if it's a full moon? Would we hear?

MATT: Anyone's likely to make a nature check if they'd like to lead that charge.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: Nature or survival, your choice.

LAURA: Is it okay if I check as well?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Cool. Cool. Cool. 11.

MATT: 11, okay.

ASHLEY and TRAVIS: 14.

MATT: 14.

ALL: Ooh.

MATT: Catha's been waning for some time, and it's off to the western side of the sky. Ruidus is drifting overhead this time of year. So not a full moon, in the classic sense.

LAURA: Is there ever a time that they're both full?

MATT: Yeah. Ruidus doesn't wax and wane. It just stays this dull red color in the sky and it moves in a much slower trajectory through Exandria than Catha does. Occasionally, it seems to almost glow or flash in the sky at odd times. There are many theories. Usually on nights on which it's seemingly brighter than others and those that are born beneath it are considered set for lives of ill fate.

TALIESIN: It's covered often, though, too?

MATT: Yeah, it's depending on the weather whether you can see it or not.

LAURA: Wow.

TRAVIS: All right. Let's try it.

SAM: We're going up? Who's going in, all of us?

MARISHA: Should we get briefcases?

LAURA: Have we left his presence yet?

MATT: I assume you guys have begun trekking towards your next destination, wherever that may be.

LAURA: Okay, I'm just going to talk to him.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: Is this letter for all of us, or just a couple of us?

MATT: "This was to give all of you entry, I understood."

LAURA: Thank you, that's all I needed to know. I'm sorry to disturb you.

MATT: "It is fine. I am used to it now."

LAURA: (laughs)

MATT: Okay, so you were heading to the--

SAM: Same place?

MATT: Mirror Towers. Okay. Returning to the upper regions of the spire, you come to the familiar courtyard that previously you could not quite enter. The same guards are posted.

LAURA: Good news.

MATT: "Yes?" Takes it. Pulls out a small blade and cuts the seal, but looks at the seal for a second. "Just a moment, I need to confirm legitimacy." He steps through the gate and you see him vanish in the courtyard. An awkward five minutes passes. The other guard looks at you all, spear to the side.

ASHLEY: Hi.

LAURA: How's your night going?

MATT: "Okay."

LAURA: Cool.

ASHLEY: Do you like working here?

MATT: "Mm."

TALIESIN: Does it pay well?

MATT: "Eh."

LIAM: What are the hours like?

MATT: "Long."

ROBBIE: Do you get bathroom breaks?

MATT: "Yeah."

TALIESIN: You ever seen some shit? Some shit go down?

MATT: "Maybe."

LIAM: You get along with the other guy?

MATT: "Okay."

ASHLEY: Is the fence to keep people in or keep people out?

MATT: "Both."

ASHLEY: Oh.

MARISHA: Ever punch someone in the face?

MATT: "Once."

LAURA: Whoa.

MARISHA: Cool.

TALIESIN: Do you have your own armor, or is there, like, a locker full of them that fit everybody?

MATT: "That."

TALIESIN: Ugh.

TRAVIS: Would you like a wooden coin?

MATT: "Sure." (laughter)

TRAVIS: There's a small, copper-looking wooden coin.

MATT: "Thanks." It's at that point that the dragonborn guard returns.

TALIESIN: I'm so proud of everything that just happened.

MATT: "You have been cleared to enter."

LAURA: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much. (laughter)

MATT: Gate opens, and you enter the courtyard.

TRAVIS: If he flips that--

SAM: That was it, that was easy.

TRAVIS: -- he will die.

LAURA: Gosh, can you imagine? We would've gone through all this effort, we would've snuck in, we would've come up with some stupid thing, when all we had to do was go to Lord Eshteross.

MATT: At about this time, the sun has entirely set.

LAURA: Thank you so much.

MATT: A gentle mist begins to slowly gather across elements of the spire, even reaching this high, which you begin to notice as the storm that you saw in the distance begins to close in. The gray sky shows that rain may be imminent any minute now, but for the time being, the change in weather, the change in temperature, has caused the fog to rise higher than it normally does, and even this high up in the spire, there's a faint mist that's beginning to fill the space. But here you are now, in this torchlit interior of the courtyard, you can see various small stone pillars that carry sconces that burn and give this beautiful, gentle flickering throughout the various regions of cultivated garden and bush. You can see the archway, you step through, and there is a central portion of the courtyard where there are a number of benches around and there is a series of set marble, that gives a starlike spiral, out in the center, and paths split off and separate, heading to the various towers around. You can see the arches, even in this space, have symbols upon them. You can see one that resembles the sun, going in the direction of the first tower that you saw. You can see one that resembles a simple four stars that goes off to the one to the far left. You can see off to the right, there is one towards the front that has a clear space with a water-like pattern of waves pushing through, and there is one that has a crescent Catha set upon it that heads to the far back right.

LAURA: I think that's the-- That's the way we go.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LAURA: As we're walking, I'm going to slowly Prestidigitation everyone to make us as clean as possible.

MATT: Fair enough. You do pass one individual, you can see is leaving the Moon Tower, an older man, looks to be elven in appearance, his hair would be thinning, if not for the elven blood, but is pulled tight against his head and slicked back to the middle of his back with tendrils that rest in front of his ears and drift to the center of his chest. He's wearing fine yellow gold robes and is currently holding a small stack of tomes under one arm, and he scoots past and gives a nod and he continues on through the courtyard. You continue onward to the Moon Tower, and there you see, as you approach it, it is a beautiful central tower that rises probably six, seven stories. It is a thick tower like the others, and still ends into an almost teardrop point at the top, where you can see a gem of some kind is refracting what little bit of distant Catha moonlight that is beginning to push through the gathering clouds before the rain for the evening takes it entirely. At the base of it, you can see it widens out into a series of structures, a small compound that rests around the base of the tower, and a small rise of about seven or eight steps leads to the open entryway, where you can see a warm light from the inside. Stepping up into that space. (water dripping) Small droplets begin to fall from above and you sense a very faint bit of rain beginning to fall upon the city.

LAURA: It's kind of magical.

MATT: Now, you all quickly step within the interior. Within the Moon Tower, you can see there is a young assistant of dark bluish-purple-gray skin, elven, dark elf in particular, looks maybe in his late teens, early 20s, very young to a visual perspective, who is wearing these stark white and silver robes. He is currently taking a number of leather-bound books and setting them upon these dozens of locked shelves around the interior of the chamber. You can see each of these books has a chain that is affixed to the front, there is a loop on the binding, and they are locked within these spaces, and they are labeled, though a bit far from where your eyes can see. As you step in to the sound of rain splashing upon the stonework outside, he stops and looks back. "Sorry, I'll be right with you." Places the tome up and finishes locking it, and almost loses his balance before catching himself. "(exhales) Okay." Closes that shelf, and you can see a whole set of bars comes down and locks. He places a lock in there, sets his keys to the side, steps down from his shiftable stepping tower, pushes it to the side. "Right, can I help you?"

LAURA: Yes. I'm going to pull out the letter and read it to make sure I know exactly what Lord Eshteross said in it.

MATT: In not so many words, it breaks down that under the intent and power within the Prudaj Textiles Business and the House of Lord Ariks Eshteross, the bearer of this, and is written your name in full, and the seven companions you see before you are to be granted audience when available within their schedule to specifically Vali, and it breaks down Vali Dertrana and a number of titles thereafter, the business commissioner of the Mirror Towers, liaison between Mahaan houses. It is a very, very formal presentation, but it does seem to be thorough.

LAURA: All right.

MATT: "Oh, all right. I think he's-- Let me check. Excuse me just a moment." He double checks all the locks on the shelves, and then heads down the hall, and to the curve around the right beyond what would have been the tower base and further in toward where the base compound is to the back of the tower and to the right and then vanishes around the corner.

TRAVIS: Assassinate. No.

ASHLEY: I'm going to run my fingers along some of the books.

LAURA: Yeah, I want to see what the books are.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Are they in Marquesian?

ROBBIE: We're such thieves.

MATT: Interestingly enough, they are numbered, but there are no titles. Fearne, I would like you to make a constitution saving throw for me, please.

ALL: Ooh!

SAM: Electric fence.

TRAVIS: Why?

ASHLEY: Okay.

LAURA: Ooh, that's good. Oh.

TALIESIN: Please be the only good roll of the night.

ASHLEY: Is... this a magical effect? (laughter)

MATT: It would be considered, yes.

ASHLEY: Because I have advantage on that.

MATT: Okay, roll again.

TRAVIS: Come on, now.

ASHLEY: Roll again?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Because that was not good. That's not any better.

ASHLEY: Six.

MATT: Six.

LIAM: We're rolling ass tonight.

MARISHA: Yep, we are.

LAURA: We're rolling ass tonight.

MATT: You take seven points of lightning damage.

MARISHA: Yep.

MATT: And you are blinded. All of a sudden, your vision goes to white as your body shudders at the burst of arcane electrical energy and you all watch as Fearne's hair stands out on end for a moment and stays there as she pulls away, eyes wide.

ASHLEY: Oh, do not touch those books! (laughter)

LAURA: Are you okay?

ASHLEY: Yes, I'm fine, it's like when you put your finger in a socket.

SAM: What's-- Nope.

ROBBIE: What's a socket?

SAM: Why are your eyes doing that thing?

ASHLEY: What's wrong? What are they doing?

SAM: They're pointing all over.

MARISHA: Fuck. Fuck. Nope, you're failing.

TALIESIN: I'm going to gently--

ASHLEY: Oh wow, I can't--

TALIESIN: -- grab her and move her away from the books. I'd also like to pickpocket her really quickly.

TRAVIS: Oh shit!

MATT: Okay! Go ahead and make a sleight of hand check.

ROBBIE: But her senses are heightened.

TALIESIN: I feel like, with advantage-- No, it's okay.

MATT: Given the circumstances, it'd be with advantage against-- Yeah, go for it. (die clattering on floor) (yelling)

MATT: You roll perception with disadvantage, because--

TALIESIN: I'm doing that again.

SAM: It ain't happening.

ASHLEY: Perception, you said?

MATT: Yes, with disadvantage.

ASHLEY: Okay. Okay, 15.

TALIESIN: 20.

LAURA: Oh!

ROBBIE: (whistles)

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Boy, this is--

TALIESIN: I was going for an interesting object, not money.

ASHLEY: Let me see what I have.

MATT: What would be an interesting object that you think would be likely pilfered in your current state?

MARISHA: Pulling out the old notebook.

ASHLEY: Stand by.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

ROBBIE: You're stealing from each other.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

MATT: I love it.

LIAM: Get that Stonky Ring.

ASHLEY: I know exactly what I think you should grab is my very important chamber pot that I got from Dugger.

TALIESIN: How big is it?

ASHLEY: It's like a soup bowl.

TALIESIN: Actually, how many random objects do you have on you right now?

ASHLEY: So many. I'm just riddled with them.

TALIESIN: Tell you what. I'm going to roll a d6.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TALIESIN: And just--

TRAVIS: In all her clothing.

TALIESIN: We'll go down the list, and whatever number of the first six.

ROBBIE: Yes.

TALIESIN: It's only fair. Ready?

ASHLEY: Let's do it.

TALIESIN: Three.

ASHLEY: That's literally the chamber pot.

TALIESIN: Ah! Never mind, then. (laughter)

SAM: Rollies!

TRAVIS: Verified handpicking.

MATT: It's a nice little chamber pot, it's about that big, it has--

ASHLEY: It has a flower in it from Orym.

TALIESIN: It has a flower in it?

ASHLEY: It's like a-- Yeah.

LIAM: Keep it fresh.

LAURA: Just sitting in the dried piss at the bottom.

LIAM: Keep it fresh.

TALIESIN: All right.

MATT: It has a little rope around the lip of it that she can affix to her side, so it dangles as she walks.

TALIESIN: It's dangling around mine now.

MATT: There you go. Your vision does begin to slowly return just as the young dark elf returns. "Ah, terribly sorry, I think he's indisposed. He's not coming to the door of his office, so he's probably busy."

LAURA: Oh!

MATT: "Come back tomorrow, maybe."

TALIESIN: Is he all right, are you sure? Is he taking a nap, or--?

MATT: "He has long meetings."

TALIESIN: We're here right now.

MATT: "I understand, but he's indisposed. My apologies."

LAURA: Of course.

ROBBIE: But you just went up to see him, right?

MATT: "Well, I knocked on the door. He's not currently answering, because he's probably in a meeting."

MARISHA: What if he's dead?

TALIESIN: I mean, are you sure he's okay?

MATT: "I don't think he's dead."

ROBBIE: You were gone and back so quick, he must be nearby.

TALIESIN: I'm a little worried.

ROBBIE: Yeah, me too. Should we go check on him?

MATT: "I've got this. I've got this."

ROBBIE: Yeah, are you sure?

MATT: "I'll go check again."

ROBBIE: I'm going to press a little bit, up to him a little bit and just walk toward that space.

MATT: "Ah, just give me a moment. I'm going to go check, all right."

LAURA: Yeah, I'm just so nervous.

MATT: "No, it's fine, it's fine." He fumbles and pulls out his key chain and wanders back down the hall and to the right.

LAURA: I'm so stressed.

SAM: I think we should follow this gentlemen.

ROBBIE: Let me know if you want to.

ASHLEY: We'll just come with you to just to make sure.

MATT: He's already down the hall and he left around the corner.

LAURA: Just slowly walk down the hallway.

LIAM: See if we can catch sight of him, yeah.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: You do hear echoing from the hallway.

ROBBIE: What did you say?

MATT: "Hello?"

TRAVIS: I can only go invisible once a day.

MATT: "Hello, Master Vali? Ah, I don't know." (creaking, door locking) As you guys all step down the hall and turn the corner, you can see him locking the door behind you. He goes like, "Ah! Sorry. I don't know. He's apparently not here. So he might be gone, might've left for the day. I didn't see him."

LAURA: Oh.

MATT: "So my apologies."

ASHLEY: Was that his office or his bedroom?

MATT: "No, this is his office."

ASHLEY: Oh, that would make sense, I don't know why--

MATT: "But I think he might've gone."

LAURA: Oh, all right.

MATT: "My apologies."

LAURA: That's strange. And you didn't see him go?

MATT: "I didn't, but I've been busy, you know, it's possible he went around. Try back tomorrow."

LAURA: Of course. Do you know, does he live close by?

MATT: "I don't know; I've never asked."

LAURA: Oh, really? What time does he normally come in in the morning?

MATT: "Well, normally he comes in-- I haven't been paying much attention. A lot of people come in the morning. I've seen--"

ROBBIE: As he's distracted with these questions, I'm slowly just shuffling Chetney behind my cape.

TRAVIS: (groans)

ROBBIE: And I'm going to pull my little eyelash and that gum out. I'm going to, tink, and I'm going to cast Invisibility on him.

LIAM: Nice.

MATT: Okay. Is Invisibility verbal and somatic?

ROBBIE: It is.

MARISHA: Uh-oh.

MATT: And material?

TRAVIS: Maybe not.

MATT: I would like you to make a sleight of hand.

ROBBIE: Rather not?

MATT: You can make a sleight of hand check.

ROBBIE: ♪ I am very good at sleight of hand. ♪ ♪ Very good. ♪ ♪ That would be a 24. ♪ (cheering)

MATT: Carefully muttering under your breath, and motioning and gesturing just out of the periphery sight of this individual, you sense the arcane energy leave your fingers, and Chetney, you vanish from sight.

ROBBIE: Go get him.

TALIESIN: I'll actually say, since we're here, I actually have some questions. Has any of these books actually ever escaped?

MATT: "Uh."

TALIESIN: You've really got them locked up there. Do they leave?

MATT: "Like on their own?"

TALIESIN: Well, I mean, that's a lot, clearly.

LAURA: We saw furniture come to life just recently.

TALIESIN: It's been a thing, it's actually a thing.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: While they're talking, I just (footsteps) start going.

MATT: Roll a stealth check with advantage.

SAM: Come on. (exclamations)

TALIESIN: What's up, Travis.

TRAVIS: That's not possible. Oh, okay, jesus christ. I saw a one and a one, but that's an old dice. That's a one and 16, so 20, dirty 20.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: That's not possible.

TRAVIS: I was like, "That can't happen."

MATT: You gingerly move around and seemingly unnoticed are to the exterior of the door.

SAM: Exterior of the door.

MATT: He just finished locking the door behind him right as you guys arrived.

TRAVIS: Distance from his desk and book area to the hallway and the door is?

MATT: Oh, a good maybe 70 or more feet.

TRAVIS: I'm going to, well, let me look around. Is there anything else down the hallway or is this the end of the hallway?

MATT: You're right behind. He's still in the hall, but he's starting to usher the rest of you back, he's like,

LAURA: Yeah, we'll start walking him.

MATT: "Right, okay. Furniture, wait, I heard something about that happening.

LAURA: You did?

TALIESIN: That was us.

MATT: "You were there for that?"

LAURA: Yeah, we ended up taking care of it.

MATT: "This whole city's going to shite."

LAURA: Have you ever heard of anything like that happening before?

MATT: Go for it, go ahead and roll (laughs).

SAM: Come on, come on.

MATT: "I mean, I know about there's all manner of enchanted and animated items, but they're not running wild in the city."

TALIESIN: Fucking kidding me.

TRAVIS: Do a good job.

SAM: What's your idea of a good date, by the way?

MATT: "I don't know, like, maybe gondola ride to the Aerie? I don't know."

MARISHA: Ugh.

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

TRAVIS: 21.

MATT: 21. (laughter) The lock is a bit too complicated for you at the moment.

ROBBIE: No!

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: Should've gotten some Guidance.

MARISHA: Fuck.

SAM: I can't guide some invisible weirdo.

MATT: It's a tough entry on that one.

TRAVIS: No, that's fair, that's fair. But I'm not going to be thwarted. Is it just this desk in the hallway? Is there another way? Do I see stairs any way? Other doors? Anything that leads up?

MATT: I mean, there is a staircase in the central area where his desk is and it spirals upward to the actual tower.

TRAVIS: But nothing that's behind him besides this door?

MATT: No. This office does feel like this is on the outside of the compound, so it is the furthest portion of this base area around the tower.

TALIESIN: It's like a lobby.

MATT: Right, so--

TRAVIS: Good luck.

MATT: So the office of Vali is against the outside of the building.

TRAVIS: Got it, got it, got it, got it.

TALIESIN: So none of these books could've made this happen then? This is not some sort of weird magic collection--

MATT: "I don't know, this is--"

TALIESIN: You mean you lock these books up and you don't know what's in them, or--?

MATT: "No, it's not my job to know what's in them. I'm just told to lock them up."

ASHLEY: You don't take a little peek?

SAM: Imogen.

MATT: "No."

SAM: How's he doing?

TALIESIN: No, I mean clearly, clearly.

MATT: "I appreciate your coming by, I really do. Come back tomorrow and maybe he'll be back in then, and we can go ahead and get this sorted." Hands the paperwork back to you.

TALIESIN: Will you be working tomorrow morning?

LAURA: Chetney.

TALIESIN: Or will it be somebody else?

MATT: "Tomorrow, it might be someone else."

LAURA: Chetney Pock O'Pea.

MATT: "I'm off for the next two days. I'm at the end of my shift, so."

LAURA: Have you made it into the office?

TRAVIS: No, it's a sturdy lock. I tried, it's not working.

SAM: As he's ushering us out, I'm going to touch the books.

MATT: You're going to touch the--

SAM: I'm going to touch the book.

MATT: Well, the books are behind a bar.

SAM: Yeah, the cage.

MATT: Okay, make a constitution check.

SAM: 12, I don't know. 16, actually.

MATT: 16, okay. You take four points of lightning damage.

ASHLEY: Take one.

MATT: And are not blinded.

SAM: I'm going to just spaz out and go-- (screams)

MATT: "No, no, no, no, you're not supposed to-- stop that, that's enchanted, oh god, god. Please, don't, don't. I'm sorry. (exclaims)"

TALIESIN: I don't know what happened. Sometimes things happen. Okay, hold on, I'll check.

MATT: "Don't touch this. None of you touch it! It's specifically designed not to be touched."

LAURA: What happened?

TALIESIN: Okay, buddy, I got you, I got you. Hold on, hold on.

MATT: You can see other, out the way, there are some other patrol wardens are starting to hearing this noise and you can hear. "What's going on?" And distance, they'll be here shortly.

TALIESIN: It's all right. It's all right.

MARISHA: This man hurt our friend.

LIAM: He's very expensive.

LAURA: No, no.

MATT: "I did not, what?!"

TALIESIN: It's all right, sometimes-- They get buggy, they get buggy. It's all right, it'll--

ASHLEY: He just needs a tune up. (laughter)

TALIESIN: You're literally just playing with-- okay.

MATT: Chetney, what are you doing?

TRAVIS: I'll try one more before we just call it off.

MARISHA: Come on, Chetney!

MATT: Oh boy. You're going to need to roll super high on this.

TRAVIS: It's a 26, but I don't know if that's enough. I think that might've been before.

MATT: Yeah, 25 was the threshold the first roll. This brought it up higher.

TRAVIS: Figures.

MATT: Sorry.

TRAVIS: I can't do it, I can't do it!

LAURA: Just come back. We can try again in the morning.

TRAVIS: I'm a failure.

LAURA: No, you're not.

TRAVIS: I add nothing to the team. (laughter)

LAURA: Chetney, nobody else can be-- Well, I guess somebody else could be invisible. I guess Dorian could do that to anyone now. No one else can-- Chetney, just get back here.

TRAVIS: All right. I was enjoying the pep talk, though.

MATT: The wardens approach and they're like, "What's going on in here?"

TALIESIN: Oh.

MATT: "This automaton touched the side of the books, so it went a bit haywire. Are we all right? Are we all right?"

SAM: (robot voice) I cannot feel anything anymore. I am entering malfunction mode.

ASHLEY: Oh no!

TALIESIN: This is my fault. I got to take him home and do a thing. It's okay, nothing you did, nothing you did. We'll just-- Come on, come on. We're good, help it up.

SAM: I'm going to try to make the Apple computer boot noise.

TALIESIN: Do it, do it. I want to hear it.

SAM: I don't know. (bongs) I don't know. (laughter)

MATT: Yeah, we're old. (laughs)

TALIESIN: Come on.

SAM: All right, we're leaving?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: Do you know what time we should head back here in the morning?

MATT: "I wouldn't go any later to-- earlier than nine, probably."

LAURA: You know, is it possible to leave a note? Slide it under the door or something, so that he knows what to expect?

MATT: "Maybe, I can probably do that." And the wardens (groans), and they wander off and continue their walk throughout the grounds.

MARISHA: Please, it's the least you could do.

SAM: (robot voice) I am hurt.

MATT: "I can leave a note, just give it to me."

LAURA: Okay, yeah.

MATT: "And then please--"

TALIESIN: Super appreciated.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: That's really cool.

MATT: "I need to close soon, so--"

LAURA: Do you have a piece of paper I can--

MATT: "I can get that for you, yeah." He wanders off, and goes in the desk, and starts getting a piece of paper out.

ASHLEY: But how do you touch the books? How is that a thing?

MATT: "That--"

TALIESIN: 20% less.

MATT: He turns to you like, "Well, that is information I should not be sharing. That's part of my job."

SAM: Like a Roomba. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Roomba. (laughter)

LAURA: Write a whole letter.

TRAVIS: I tug on Dorian's cape. Let me out.

ROBBIE: I know.

LAURA: Okay, here's the letter. There you go.

MATT: "All right, I'll make sure it's left in the office. So sorry. Sorry about your friend."

SAM: (robot voice) You have destroyed me.

MATT: "Oh god."

LAURA: Maybe you shouldn't just slide it under the door because now I'm worried that he's going to come in and he's not even going to see it's under the door. Can you leave it on his desk or something? I'm just freaking out.

MATT: "(sighs) All right."

LAURA: Chetney, follow him.

TRAVIS: I picked up on it. That was slick as fuck. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Are we going to-- Oh boy.

MATT: "But nevertheless, get out, get out."

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay.

MATT: And he ushers the rest of you out.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay, okay.

SAM: Thank you, have a shiny day.

MATT: Closes the doors behind you.

TRAVIS: I'm still inside.

MATT: Still inside. Looks at the sheet. "For the love of gods. (groans) Why'd this day get so weird?" And he starts walking down the hall. Make a stealth check with advantage.

MARISHA: Come on.

SAM: Come on, come on. Get in that room.

TRAVIS: We're doing good, we're doing good, 17.

MATT: 17.

SAM: That's not-- That's not great.

MATT: Okay, continues walking down the path, pulls out the key ring, finds the right key, turns to the right, heads down the hall, comes to the door. (clicks) (creaks) Opens up inside. It's shady inside, but it looks like there is a blue orb that sits above a small pillar, floating about an inch above it that just gives this dull blue glow throughout the interior of this office. Stepping inside, you can see there is a large dark wooden desk. You can see there are shelves. There is a liquor cabinet off to the side, there's a bunch of papers and stuff on the main desk area. There is a large stained glass window that looks out into the courtyard.

MARISHA: Time is a flat circle.

MATT: But the figure, the young dark elf goes over and sets the paper on the desk and goes, (sighs). And then leaves the room, closes behind. (clicks) And locks it. And you are now locked within the office. What are you going to do?

TRAVIS: I count to 10. I don't even breathe. I say to Imogen: I'm in.

LAURA: Great! What do you see? What are you doing?

TRAVIS: There's a big blue ball, a stained glass window, and these enormous bookcases. (laughter) I'm afraid to move.

LAURA: Is there a door in there anywhere? Can you get--

TRAVIS: Is there a door anywhere?

LAURA: Outside of the one that--

MATT: You can make a perception or investigation check, up to you, to look within the darkly lit room. Do you have darkvision?

TRAVIS: I do, 60 feet.

MATT: Okay, yeah, yeah.

TRAVIS: 22.

MATT: 22.

LAURA: Okay, okay.

MATT: Okay, so first, the stained glass window that overlooks the outside, you can see it creates a colorful rose represented in a rainbow tapestry of panes that gives the symbol there. Some are larger, some are smaller. Just beyond it, you can see some of the distant lights in the courtyard. Looking around the sizable office, the decor is mildly gaudy. You can see there are paintings of little quaint cottages at golden hour.

SAM: Oh boy.

MARISHA: Kinkades?

MATT: Yeah, just filled with Kinkades. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Hey, those are fun puzzles, though.

MARISHA: Fuck this guy. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Burn it down.

MARISHA: (laughs) Burn it down.

MATT: His name is Kinkade [Kin-kah-day] and he's the Painter of Suns.

TALIESIN: (laughs)

MATT: You can see tapestries of odd blocky patterns in clashing colors throughout the room. Definitely a lot of money put into this. There is a heavy vermaloc bookcase that sits against the wall behind the large slab of the wooden desk there that you see with multitudes of intricate drawers that are visible on the chair side of it.

TRAVIS: Vermaloc.

LAURA: (laughs)

MATT: Yeah, vermaloc is actually pretty rare and you recognize it immediately.

TRAVIS: Oh yeah.

MATT: Deep purple coloration.

LAURA: Ooh.

TRAVIS: (high-pitched laugh)

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I'm so glad I can't hear this in my head.

SAM: Wood porn.

ROBBIE: Hashtag horny for wood.

MATT: Yep.

TRAVIS: Please let me be alone in here. In fact, I'll close my eyes and just use my senses. Do I hear or smell or feel anything that might be off? Something that could be illusory, arcane in nature? Not what is seems. Just another physical presence in the room or something that is hidden?

MATT: Nothing to that-- Well, well, what'd you roll for investigation before? It was--

TRAVIS: 22.

LAURA: 21

MATT: 22. Or 21. I will say within the sense there.

LAURA: 23.

MATT: Well, glancing around the space in here, first off, you do see there are just numerous blank paper stacked on the desk. There is a large trader or trade route map of the Oderan Wilds spread across one half of the desk. That's with trade routes marked and all the paths of the actual jungle around. (laughs) You can see there are-- Once again, all the drawers that you can see, there are locks on the drawers. There's three on each side to a total of six. After your previous experience in the day, you glance back at the bookcase on the wall behind you. You're like, "These fucking bookcases." You head over to it and look at where it meets the wall. You sense the faintest of noise from behind the bookcase.

TRAVIS: You're shitting me.

MATT: No.

TRAVIS: Oh, baby. Okay. I look at the blue orb. Make a little move. Anything? Reaction? Flare up?

MATT: Nothing.

TRAVIS: Fuck yeah! Home free! All right, I'm going to go up and look at the trade map. I'm going to scroll that piece of shit up. Squirrel that away.

MATT: All right. (cheering, screaming)

MARISHA: Chetney!

TRAVIS: This is the biggest item! (laughter)

MARISHA: Oh. (exclaims)

MARISHA: Oh my god.

ROBBIE: Wow.

TALIESIN: That's hot.

LAURA: Oh my god.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

ROBBIE: Gulch of the Betrayer.

MARISHA: Fucking brilliant.

TRAVIS: Gurge is here.

SAM: Fucking brilliant.

TRAVIS: That's fucking hot.

ROBBIE: Oh my god, yeah, yeah, yeah.

MARISHA: Cool.

TRAVIS: Okay, phew. The locked drawers are very tempting, but I've learned, that door, I don't need anyone else for this. I'm going to put my back up against the-- Is it a bookcase or is it a fucking tea cart?

MATT: No, this is an actual bookcase.

TRAVIS: Goddamn it. I'm not afraid! Wait, I'm going to look on either sides of the bookcase to see if there are any sorts of traps or wires or anything that might--

MATT: Make an investigation check.

TRAVIS: Okay. 16.

MATT: 16. You don't sense any traps, but you do get the sense this bookcase is on a mechanism, but one you do not see the presence of around the bookcase.

TRAVIS: I go over to the desk. I've made these kind of things before. I look under the desk for a button or a switch. Where is it, you fuck?

MATT: You look underneath the desk, and it is just smooth wood underneath where the chair is set.

TRAVIS: Goddamn it. From my vantage point, can I look under other things for some sort of a switch that only someone under four feet would see?

MATT: (laughs) Nothing in that space. There's just the drawers.

TRAVIS: I know it's here somewhere. Are there candle stick holders?

MATT: No, there's just the orb in the center of the room that's giving the single source of light beyond the faint bit of light that's coming through. Actually, no, at this point, any sort of external light has been covered in the rainy sky. Other than the distant torchlight, there's not much making it in from the outside.

TRAVIS: Is there a drawer with a lock that has more wear on the outside of the lock than the others?

MATT: Make an investigation check for me.

TRAVIS: 23.

MATT: 23. On the left-hand top side, you see where the key hole is, there is much more wear on the wood surrounding where the metal entry point is.

TRAVIS: Let's go to work on that one.

MATT: Go ahead and roll for me, please.

SAM: Chet, come on, old man.

TRAVIS: Yeah, much better, 24.

MATT: 24, messing with it there. (clicking) The drawer opens up slightly.

TRAVIS: As it opens up slightly, I look.

MATT: (laughs) Glancing inside, there is a small iron chest about that large, almost like a scroll case, but it is a chest. It's designed with a flip top that is immediately visible there. And a small leather bound book about that big.

TRAVIS: It's a iron chest that's open?

MATT: It's closed currently.

TRAVIS: I open it.

MATT: Okay, you can open it. On the inside, you see 100 platinum pieces. (gasps)

SAM and LIAM: That's a lot of money.

MATT: For that one there--

TRAVIS: We're going to Dalen's Closet. (laughter)

MATT: From there, there's also six gold pieces. That's all that's within that one, yes.

TRAVIS: Fuck.

SAM: There's a book, too?

TRAVIS: There's a book?

MATT: There's a small leather bound book. About that big.

TRAVIS: I'll do (flipping pages). Do I see anything on the first couple of pages before I thumb it?

MATT: There's only 20 pages in there. Only the first two are filled with any sort of text and writing. A lot of them shorthand notes. Roll an intelligence check for me.

TRAVIS: Man, I don't remember the last time I rolled a fucking intelligence check. Ugh. 17.

LAURA: That's good.

MATT: 17's pretty damn good.

TRAVIS: Oh, okay. (laughter)

TRAVIS: I don't know! 21 and 26, falling apart.

MATT: Fair enough. The shorthand breaks into elements like: pay made, order, Dreamset. The next one and all the other ones we're talking about different connections to unions. Other one that's talking about times that are set. It doesn't quite make out the details. The one other one that catches your eye says, requested by Nightmare King.

TRAVIS, SAM, and ROBBIE: Whoa.

ROBBIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's make that one big.

MATT: Comma, bring alive.

LAURA: Uh oh.

SAM and ROBBIE: Oh boy.

TRAVIS: What the fuck does that mean?

MARISHA: Oh no.

SAM: Nightmare King.

LAURA: What's up with that?

ROBBIE: That's fucking fine.

LAURA: Yeah, that sounds--

ROBBIE: Everything's okay.

ASHLEY: Scary.

TRAVIS: That's on the top. Of the six drawers, one is unlocked. Are they all equal size or is it that thing where top ones are smaller and the bottom ones are heftier?

MATT: Actually, on this one, the top ones are larger and the bottom ones are thinner.

TRAVIS: Okay, I'll go to the top right one and see if-- Actually, I'll run back to the door, put my ear. Any sound?

MATT: Nothing more, no.

TRAVIS: I'll go back and try that--

LAURA: Chetney?

TRAVIS: Huh?

LAURA: We're going to lose connection soon.

TRAVIS: (loudly) What do you mean? There's a time limit on this?

LAURA: There's a time limit on this. How are you doing?

TRAVIS: How much longer?

LAURA: Like a minute.

TRAVIS: I found a bunch of money and a trade route map.

LAURA: You don't have to yell. I can hear you.

TRAVIS: Oh, (whispers) and a trade route map. There's a door behind a bookcase.

LAURA: Oh, another one?

TRAVIS: Yeah, but a real bookcase, and there's a mechanism. I'm trying to find it, but it wasn't under the desk.

LAURA: Maybe it's in one of the drawers of the desk.

TRAVIS: Let me look. I'll try the upper right-hand.

MATT: Upper right-hand? Go ahead and roll to see if you unlock it.

TRAVIS: Come on, goddamn it. Yeah, 27.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: Holy shit.

ROBBIE: You killer.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Thank goodness Travis is rolling good.

TRAVIS: Sometimes.

MARISHA: (laughs) I know.

MATT: You go ahead and (clicks). Hit the lock on the top right. (creaking) It opens up a bit. There is a heavy velvet sack that is currently taut and tied and--

MARISHA: Some Crown Royal.

MATT: That's all you see in there, yeah.

TALIESIN: It's full of Crown Royal.

ROBBIE: Tiny werewolf.

TRAVIS: Heavy velvet sack.

SAM: Tiny werewolf?

TRAVIS: Without opening it, can I feel the contents? Does anything feel like a key or anything?

MATT: No keys, but certainly a lot of coin.

TRAVIS: Oh shit! Okay. How much time do we have left? I don't want to get stuck in here.

LAURA: Like a minute, I don't know, not long. Check the inside of the drawers, could there be a button or something?

TRAVIS: There's six drawers! I unlocked two.

LAURA: Yeah, but have you touched all the inside of the drawers that you've unlocked?

TRAVIS: Oh. No?

LAURA: Look for a mechanism within them.

TRAVIS: I stick my hand down and reach around.

MATT: On the one on the right?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: You stick it in. You hit something. You hear behind you. (rumbles) (cheering)

MARISHA: Oh my god.

ASHLEY: Yes!

TRAVIS: Oh my god. I owe you my body when I get out. Okay. So I'll turn around.

MATT: You turn around and you can see--

MARISHA: After Pretty.

MATT: -- where the bookcase was, there is an open area carved a little bit smaller than the size of the bookcase. There is a darkened staircase that descends.

LAURA: Uh oh. You can't go alone.

TRAVIS: You bet your ass. We came for one thing and one thing only. Beast man. I'm going in. (gasping)

MATT: You go in?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Roll a stealth check.

TRAVIS: Oh god.

LAURA: Alone.

TRAVIS: Well, how the fuck are we going to get back here?

LAURA: Did you take all the money?

TRAVIS: Yeah. I got all the money.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: Should I not? Last 20 seconds.

LAURA: (phone line interference) Chet-- Chet--

SAM: (static phone line) If you'd like to make a call... (laughter)

TRAVIS: I mean, I really want to come back. But how the fuck are we going to do this?

LAURA: No--

SAM: Man, do you.

TRAVIS: I'm going.

MATT: Okay, roll a stealth check for me, please.

TALIESIN: I'm so excited for your next character.

ROBBIE: Does he get advantage because he's invisible?

MATT: As invisible he gets advantage on stealth, yes.

TRAVIS: I do get advantage on stealth? Okay.

MATT: Because you're invisible, yeah.

TRAVIS: I hate this. (groaning)

TRAVIS: 16.

SAM: That's not bad.

TRAVIS: It's not great. It's not terrible.

MARISHA: Oh, you have advantage.

TRAVIS: Yeah, the other one was--

MARISHA: Advantage. The other one was bad.

MATT: As you begin heading down the stairs, you hear voices. One, that, as you pick up the conversation, says, (Voice 1, posh) "Our patron is pushing for legislation in the coming week so whatever you plot must be quickened." Another voice follows up. (Voice 2, creepy) "Your dullard mind fails to grasp the beautiful pattern I've already constructed across the city." (Voice 1) "Ira, I'm serious. Let us get this over with, so that I might never deal with your cruel arrogance again." (Ira) "Then bring me some riff raff from The Steps. People no one would miss. And maybe a Mahaan child just to spice things up. This next wave will--" (Voice 1) "I will most certainly not bring you a child, you freak. And only a short time longer. Finish your work and be gone from my life." (Ira) "Of course, once my work is done, I shall leave. (chuckles)" Footsteps begin to approach you.

TRAVIS: I back up. I go to the inside of the drawer and I click the button.

MATT: You go and click the button. It's not closing.

TRAVIS: I shut the doors and I try and open the door and get out of the office.

MATT: The door is locked. (thumps)

TRAVIS: There's no inside thing?

MATT: Not that you see, no.

TRAVIS: Oh god. I'll try to do the lock pick.

MATT: (approaching footsteps) Go ahead and roll for lock picking.

LAURA: Oh god!

MARISHA: Come on, come on.

LAURA: Chetney!

MATT: Now, I'm going to ask you this again. What's giving you-- are you rolling 2d20s?

TRAVIS: Yes. Because...

SAM: New role, who this?

LIAM: Next character is going to be even older.

TRAVIS: No, not on this one.

MATT: On this one, all right, roll one.

TRAVIS: That's a 16.

MATT: The door's not budging.

TRAVIS: I shut the drawers and I run across the office, and I put myself in the corner.

SAM: Are you still invisible?

TRAVIS: I am, but I make myself small and tiny in the corner.

MATT: Okay. Stepping into the room, you see an elven, half-elven man, light blond hair coiffed in the front a bit, these sideburns that come to a point. He's wearing some nice clothing and he steps in. (inhales) (exhales) Goes ahead and reaches behind one of the nearby portraits you see hanging next to it, and presses something, and the bookcase (rumbles) shifts back into place.

MARISHA: Cool.

MATT: Pulls the chair back and sits.

TRAVIS: Uh-oh.

LIAM: Crap.

ROBBIE: Oh fuck.

MATT: He steps up and one of the ornaments on the wall, which is this sheathed saber, (unsheathing) pulls free. And begins walking through the room. Looks out the window. Looks underneath the small futon, slashes. Where are you?

TRAVIS: I'm in the corner. If you come in the door and the bookshelf's on the right, I'm in the far corner opposite where the desk is.

MATT: Okay. Slowly begins to make his way through the room, swashing and cutting through the air.

SAM: Oh god.

LAURA: But you're very short, so maybe he's cutting above you. (laughter)

MATT: (sniffs)

SAM: Old man smell. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Smells like menthol. (laughter)

MATT: (sword swishes) Slowly creeping closer to where you're currently resting. About five feet away. (slices) Three feet. (slices) Right next to you.

TRAVIS: I run!

ROBBIE: Where?!

TRAVIS: I run up. I jump on whatever bed or shelf is next to the window. I'm going through that motherfucker. (cheering)

MARISHA: Through the window? (cheering)

TRAVIS: I don't know what's on the other side.

ROBBIE: Go, old man!

MARISHA: Come on.

MATT: (foot falls) (glass breaks) The stained glass shatters as you fall and tumble. Out into the rain below. The rain's pouring on you, on your face. You hear a voice go, "What the--?" Rushes up, blade ready, you can see the elven man standing there, looking out about.

TRAVIS: I take the tomato from the kitchen and I toss it.

MATT: Towards him?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Okay, roll an attack.

LAURA: Wait, no, not an attack.

TRAVIS: No, not an attack. I'm just tossing a tomato at him.

MATT: Just tossing a tomato? Okay. (laughs) Just in the direction?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: (splats) "Are you fucking kidding me?" (laughter)

TRAVIS: (fast foot falls) Sonic the Hedgehog.

MATT: As you rush off into the rainy evening, in the courtyard, eyes peeled for your friends, the rest of you looking at each other panicked as the last conversation you had with Chetney he seemed to be lost within the office. Until you hear the shattering of glass in the distance--

LAURA: Oh fuck.

MATT: -- and the shouting of voices. As you glance over into the now harder falling rain... We'll pick up there next time.

TRAVIS: Oh my god! (groaning)

MARISHA: Epic!

SAM: What a caper!

ASHLEY: What a caper!

ROBBIE: Let's go!

LAURA: (whoops)

ROBBIE: You got all the good shit on you, too.

LIAM: That's got to be a record for the show. We did three clusterfuck break-ins.

TALIESIN: In a row!

MATT: No joke! That was insane! (laughs)

TRAVIS: Fuck! My fucking wrists are throbbing.

MATT: (laughs)

MARISHA: Did you get in your steps?

LAURA: Oh man.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah.

MARISHA: Just from this game.

TRAVIS: "You've achieved your goal."

LAURA and TRAVIS: Oh my god.

TRAVIS: I can feel my heartbeat in my eyes.

MATT: All righty, hey.

ROBBIE: You did it all.

TALIESIN: Way to go.

LAURA: And you got money.

TRAVIS: I can pay you back!

LAURA: So much money!

MATT: It's not over yet!

LAURA: I wonder how much is in that bag.

ROBBIE: Yeah, he has it all.

TRAVIS: It's not over,

MATT: It's not over yet.

TRAVIS: Oh shit.

MATT: We'll pick up there next week. Welcome to the new year.

TRAVIS: Yeah, 2022! (clapping)

SAM: Oh boy.

TRAVIS: Legend of Vox Machina, January 28th.

MATT: That's right, yes! Soon! (cheering)

SAM: Mere days away.

MATT: Oh my goodness. Thank you all so much for joining us for this chaos. We love you very much, and is it Thursday yet? Good night.

(cheering)

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