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.
MATT: Indeed. Tonight, we are sadly down one Sam Riegel, because apparently he has priorities.
LAURA: Where is he?
MATT: I actually don't know.
LIAM: Watching his kids!
LAURA: Is that where he's at?
LIAM: I don't know where he is.
LAURA: I don't know where he is.
MATT: That's weird. Well--
MARISHA: Oh, man, I feel like he told us.
MARISHA: You know? I just don't remember where he is--
LAURA: What is his mother's name!?
MARISHA: What is his mother's name!?
LAURA: It's Lenore! I know it. It's Scanlan's mom--
MARISHA: You don't care about his past!
TALIESIN: What am I doing Thursday night!?
TRAVIS: It's not that we don't remember, we just don't care.
TALIESIN: (laughs) Yeah.
MATT: Well, Sam, wherever you are, you're not watching, so you'll never hear this anyway.
MATT: But we love you.
TRAVIS: It's true. That's hilarious because it's true.
MATT: Before we get into tonight's episode, let's get through a few announcements here. First and foremost, tonight we have the delight of being sponsored by our returning friends Puzzle Quest!
MATT: Puzzle Quest, they're not pushing anything in particular, but we're wanting to talk about a bit how they're just-- their Marvel Puzzle Quest is awesome. I've been playing Puzzle Quest since it first came out. I remember spending many angry hours on Xbox Live, getting my ass kicked by people in Puzzle Quest when it first came there. But Taliesin, did you have anything you wanted to say?
TRAVIS: It's a big anniversary for them.
TALIESIN: Yeah, it's Puzzle Quest's ten-year anniversary.
LAURA: Wow, really?
TALIESIN: Yeah, and gosh, golly. Puzzle Quest. Marvel. Marvel Puzzle Quest. Marvel and Puzzle Quest.
MARISHA: You're not Sam Riegel.
TALIESIN: I'm not Sam Riegel!
MARISHA: You're not Sam Riegel.
TALIESIN: I'm doing my best! I was just given this! I thought he was going to be here! We brought his things out. I thought he was going to be here! And now I have this, and I have to somehow--
TRAVIS: Can you just play on his harmonica, or something?
TALIESIN: I'm not touching that. I know where it's been.
LIAM: It's a hard truth that only one of us is irreplaceable.
TALIESIN: That's so true.
MATT: This is true.
LAURA: It's sad.
TALIESIN: I can say that I do love comic books. I love three-jewel replacement games that I can play on airplanes--
LIAM: And Marvel.
TALIESIN: -- and when I wanna pretend to listen to my family over Christmas. It's great.
MARISHA: You're killing it, man.
TALIESIN: I know, and I suddenly realised a couple of them watch the show, and now they know that I'm not really texting you guys.
LIAM: Taliesin pulls out a curly blonde wig and--
MATT: And starts jamming candy bars in his mouth.
LAURA: Shaka, man, oh yeah.
TALIESIN: But, Marvel Puzzle Quest is great, because it's all the fun of the three-gem, Bejeweled-style games, but you would also collect characters if you're a big nerd like I am, and they've got basics like Thor and Iron Man, and new fun ones, like Ms. Marvel, and--
LAURA: What about Black Widow? Do they have Black Widow?
TALIESIN: They have Black Widow.
LAURA: Hell yeah, they do.
TALIESIN: Black Widow is actually one of the first ones I ever got, but they've also got crazy ones-- they've got Devil Dinosaur. That's nuts.
MATT: That's pretty intense, actually.
MARISHA: It's pretty nuts.
MATT: Do they have Slapstick?
TALIESIN: I'm even more embarrassed that I know you now. It was already bad. This is why you're never going to be on my show, Matt.
MATT: (cries) I know.
TALIESIN: Ooh. You're never going to be on my show because you don't have time. I know.
MATT: That's exactly why.
TALIESIN: But yeah. Marvel Puzzle Quest. Thank you guys. You can get it on Steam, Amazon App Store, Google Play, Apple Store-- it's all over the place.
LAURA: Yay, thanks, Marvel Puzzle Quest!
LIAM: Next up!
MATT: We have any merch updates? Or are we just still kicking ass in the store?
LAURA: (high-pitched) Hey, there's stuff in the store, you guys! You should go look in the store and see what is there.
MATT: Perfect. Thank you, Laura.
LAURA: You're welcome.
MATT: That was adorable. We have Wondercon coming up! Which we're excited about. It's for you guys who are able to come to Wondercon, Anaheim, California, April 1st on Saturday, we're having our Talks Machina live panel from 2-3PM in the Arena, the big room there, and--
TRAVIS: Come to Anaheim, 4,000 seats!
MARISHA: Yeah, big seats!
MATT: Trying to fill the room.
TALIESIN: Comfy seats.
MATT: Because if we manage to fill the room, we can use that as an example as to why we have good crowds, and we can hopefully do more events in more places in the country, or around the world! And see you guys in person.
TRAVIS: We want to see everyone within a reasonable driving or flying distance.
LIAM: Also, Taliesin and I are going to fistfight until one of us is dead or unconscious.
MARISHA: I'm going to break a pool cue.
TALIESIN: While drunk.
MATT: That's new. I didn't--
LAURA: It's going to be epic.
MATT: Okay! So that's a thing.
TRAVIS: Just roll with it.
MATT: See that-- yeah.
LIAM: Got a lot of pent-up aggression, Tal.
TALIESIN: I'm ready.
TALIESIN: I want a bruise, right here.
MATT: April 1st.
MARISHA: (laughs) I want a bruise.
TALIESIN: Critical Brawl.
TALIESIN: We just barefist it.
MATT: Speaking of Taliesin unconscious-- Wednesday Club!
TALIESIN: Oh, god! That's right.
TRAVIS: (laughs) Great one.
TALIESIN: We had great time this week talking about Swamp Thing and horror comics. Next week, we're going to be talking vaguely about DC Comics; everything from Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, the whole set of them and all the weirdness, and talking about New 52, what it is, why people seemed weird about it and why people are coming back to read it now. Like a brief overlook on everything DC Comics. It’s going to be fun.
MARISHA: It was a weird time.
TALIESIN: Yeah, it was a weird time. It’s getting cooler now.
MARISHA: I feel like when people talk about DC Comics, they just only vaguely talk about DC Comics these days.
TALIESIN: We're gonna try and see how many euphemisms we can-- We’re going to talk about it like, “I know you think this is a new dog, but it’s really the same dog, he’s just better now.” Yeah, we’re working on it.
MATT: And Signal Boost. Our good friend of the show, David Nett, actually, his episode just went up today. David Nett, who is an amazing dungeon master. You can actually see him on Round Table, the new show that just hopped up on Alpha. He’s also our trainer, who’s been kicking our ass in the gym.
MARISHA: He’s our personal trainer. We did a Hamilton work-out yesterday. Oh man, it was so cool.
MATT: Four sets of core sets.
TALIESIN: Did you take your shots?
MARISHA: Well, I rised up when doing squats.
MATT: And Peggy, not happy to be there. Perfect.
MARISHA: And if you go to iTunes, you can get the Signal Boost ringtone for your phone and it’s pretty great. Also, we have another surprise coming next week that I’m pretty stoked about, but you have to wait. No one probably cares. But I care.
LAURA: I’m so excited!
MATT: I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so scared! For those who don’t know what that is, you’re young.
TRAVIS: YouTube it!
MATT: All right. Also, today was the episode of Celebrity D&D.
LAURA: Oh yay!
MATT: There’s a preview on YouTube and the full episode’s on Alpha right now. Hopefully they'll bring it out down the road. With Joe Manganiello, who is legitimately an awesome guy. We got to know him pretty well through the process and he’s a huge old-school RPG-- like, he GM’d GURPS and Rifts for years in the late 80s in a little comic shop. I would never have guessed. We nerded out extremely hard. He’s one of my new favorite people.
MARISHA: He’s pretty cool.
MATT: So check it out. We had a good time.
MARISHA: And he had a cool hat.
MATT: He had a cool hat and a fun character. And he got to play with a younger Keyleth and Percival in a one-shot that is technically Exandria-canon.
MARISHA: I was much happier.
TALIESIN: I was not.
TALIESIN: You were. I was not.
MATT: And, of course, next Tuesday you can come and see some of us as well as our fantastic host, Brian Wayne Foster, on Talks Machina, Tuesday at 7PM, here on Twitch or Alpha. And don’t forget to check that out. It will be about this episode. Now, unless I’m mistaken, I think we’re done. And that means it's time--
LAURA: No! No! Hey, look at this cool dice bag I have, it’s got a bear!
MATT: -- to start tonight’s episode of Critical Role.
LAURA: Damn it.
MATT: Hello and welcome back, everybody. Nice one, Laura. Well done. So, bringing us into tonight’s episode. Last we left off, Vox Machina, after completing their assault and destruction of the Chroma Conclave, they’re tying up loose ends, various adventure hooks and dangers they’d left out in the open from earlier or during that whole adventure. After taking Keyleth to Vesrah to take her final trial of the Aramente, her long, many-year journey to prove her ability to lead her people, the Air Ashari, you returned to Zephra. Met her father, expressed that the trial was complete, and the ceremony took place in which Keyleth was given the mantle and officially titled as the Voice of the Tempest, the now-standing leader of the Air Ashari. Which, by the way, I’m supposed to give you this.
MARISHA: What? Was that the thing?
MATT: That’s the thing.
LAURA: You get another thing?!
MARISHA: I think this is my leadership thing. Yeah?
MATT: You have your leadership feat.
LAURA: That’s your mantle!
MATT: It’s your mantle.
MARISHA: I get another thing?!
MATT: It’s nothing crazy. But it’s fun.
LAURA: Wait. Is it a cloak? Don’t you already have a cloak on?
TALIESIN: It’s a mantle, it only goes to here.
MARISHA: I gave that cloak to Kerr--
LIAM: Rothfuss jacked that cloak.
MARISHA: -- who wore it away.
MATT: (laughs) Rothfuss jacked that cloak.
TALIESIN: I like to think there’s a piece of paper like pinned to his wall right now.
MATT: He has the stats up there as a reminder? Framed? Please do that if you haven’t already, Pat, please. So, after the ceremony is completed--
TALIESIN: Sorry, we’re good. Carry on.
TRAVIS: Perfect timing.
LIAM: Rehearsal paid off.
TALIESIN: Don’t feed them.
MATT: After the crowning, the ceremony coming to a close, the evening’s celebration kicks off and as the setting sun begins to darken the sky, the people of Zephra are now bringing out foods and treats and cakes, and they’re putting up ribbons of blue and white and gold on some of the nearby trees and doorways. And the folks of the Air Ashari tribe now are in the process of enjoying both the return of their people and the fact that there is now a clear head of leadership, and you guys are now surrounded, basking in the afterglow of the event as well as deciding with slow-rising tension what you have as the next step in your journey. So, what would you guys like to do?
TRAVIS: Charge headlong into danger with no lessons having been learned from the previous sessions.
MARISHA: Like it’s day one. Vox Machina, let’s do this!
TRAVIS: Naked and running in full steam.
LIAM: Like right now?
TRAVIS: Yeah. No Vestiges, no nothing.
LIAM: That would be the best end to that ceremony. Peace.
MARISHA: It’s our save game plus.
LAURA: But can I go talk to Keyleth, actually? I did want to ask you--
LAURA: Are you allowed to leave? How does this work, exactly?
MARISHA: I mean, I’m the chief. I can do whatever I want, right? I don’t know, actually.
LAURA: Should we talk to your dad?
MARISHA: I should maybe talk to Dad.
LAURA: All right.
MARISHA: Yeah. I go talk to Dad.
MATT: Okay. And wherever you walk now, because you have the mantle upon you and you have the cascading autumn-colored leaf cloak that flows behind you, it still seems very ceremonial in this jovial, party-based atmosphere. And as you move, you still can’t help but notice that all eyes are on you at any given point in time. People seem generally excited that you’ve returned and that you’ve taken up this position. Eventually you make your way off where you can see there are a handful of the older, the more elder members of the Zephra tribe. They’re around Korren currently, who notices you approach and shushes them all for a moment, turns to you, “Ah, Keyleth, my daughter. How can I help you?”
MARISHA: Korren, I was wondering if I could have a word with you for a minute?
MATT: “Of course. You do realise that you can still call me father. I mean, I know you’re the leader, but--”
MARISHA: Can I? Is that allowed? I don’t really know.
MATT: He puts his hand up and puts his arm around your shoulder and guides you off away from the chaos of the celebration. You hear the whistling of music and flutes and thin tanner drums going off in the distance. And as it fades the further off you guys walk in the direction of the tree where the ceremony took place--
(something falls in the background)
MATT: “Oh, sorry.”
MARISHA: You should fire that guy.
MATT: “I will.”
MARISHA: Shitty servants.
MATT: “It’s very windy up here. Don’t worry about it.”
MARISHA: Yes, that’s true.
MATT: As you walk further away towards the tree, he takes his arm off from around your shoulder and says, “Now, I understand you have many questions and we’ve prepared you as much as we could leading up to this journey you’ve gone on, but now you’re here.”
MARISHA: I guess.
MATT: “Primarily, the people of Zephra look to you for guidance when choices are hard, difficult.”
MATT: “You are the acting head of law, like I’ve been all this time. If there is conflict, if there is difficulty, if there is a challenge that presents itself, that requires the wisdom of a leader to step in--”
MATT: "That's when you're called upon."
MARISHA: So, (sighs) I'm confused. Was the Aramente my training to be a leader? You apparently prepared me as best as you could before I left, I don't know how well you all did (sarcastic laugh). So I'm just wondering if I need to expect that again, is this just me figuring this out again? Or do I have guidance?
MATT: "The nature of the Aramente is fluid. I have not taken it as I am not the leader. It is tradition and it is both, as far as I understand, a series of challenges and lessons tailored to whatever a person seems to be seeking or what you can draw from that, but also to interface with the other tribes and establish that connection between all the leaderships."
MARISHA: I did that (laughs). You're right, you haven't taken it, but that's been about 5% of my journey, all of the lessons that I've learned have been in the in-between.
MATT: "That is part of the Aramente itself."
MARISHA: I know. I guess... I don't know. Just trying to figure out how to navigate this, like the leader I'm expected to be. You know, Dad, you didn't tell me a lot about the world and sometimes I think I get angry at you for that.
MATT: "You're not wrong to have these thoughts."
MARISHA: Why didn't you tell me that the world could be so cruel and mean? Why did you never tell me that?
MATT: "We tried, but you can only tell someone so much. Do you not think we spent days warning you of the dangers and difficulty? We didn't thrust you out in the world with a smile, going 'have fun.' We told you it was challenging, we warned you of the people you might interface with that you couldn't trust. And for the first legs of it, we had a few scouts keeping an eye."
MATT: "Just to make sure you were safe."
MARISHA: Okay. It just sounds like it was advice coming from people who didn't really fully know.
MATT: "To be fair, when every parent has a child come of age, you can only coddle them so far. Every bird has to be kicked out of the nest for it to learn to fly. Not because we want to, but because that's how things are."
MARISHA: I know, and I thank you for that. I guess I'm just wondering what's next. Now what?
MATT: "Now, as leader of these people you go and learn how best we can establish ourselves in this countryside. Where once we-- (sighs) Gwessar, or Tal'Dorei as the humans call it, all of our civilizations are merging. Isolation that we've relied upon is becoming less and less viable."
MARISHA: I agree.
MATT: "And so part of, I think, what you have already begun, is finding a way to bring not just the Ashari, but Zephra as well, necessary friendships and allies."
MARISHA: Our people need to be connected to the rest of the world that we've sworn to protect. I understand the need for our isolation but I often wonder if we had a few close allies on alert, if the Thordak incident might've have gone a little bit differently.
MATT: "I agree."
MARISHA: I still need time, with Vox Machina. We still have things we need to complete. And then I promise I will return.
MATT: "All right. Come back. Do what you need to. You're not bound to this mountain. Just know that your heart is here, and we'll call for you if we need you. And when you're not needed beyond it, this is your home."
MARISHA: Thanks, Dad.
MATT: "I'm proud of you." And his professional exterior falls away and he just steps forward and gives you a big, warm, fatherly embrace and just holds you there.
MARISHA: Okay, Dad. Thank-- okay.
MATT: "Sorry." He rights his posture, shoulders back.
MARISHA: I do the same. Adjust my mantle a bit. Another question. Do I have to wear this like all the time? It's a little unwieldy. It feels a little froufrou-y. Kind of ceremonial. It's just a little like I'm going to trip on it.
MATT: You know, do what you like. It's yours.
MARISHA: Okay. 'Cause going upstairs in it, like in the heels, it's a little unwieldy. I mean, it's beautiful! I'm going to go get a drink.
MATT: You probably should.
MARISHA: Okay. Yeah.
MATT: All right.
LIAM: You read lips, what're they talking about?
LAURA: Ah, they were talking all about you, actually.
LIAM: I don't believe you.
LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
LIAM: Why would they be talking about me?
LAURA: It's this whole conversation about you.
LIAM: You are full of shit.
LAURA: No, I heard she was saying how much she admired you, and he was saying, "Er. I don't think I feel it as much," and she was like, "No, really, Dad, you just need a chance to really talk to him," and he was like, "No, just believe me, I did talk to him, and I don't feel that way."
LIAM: Yeah. Yeah, I'm--
LAURA: And then she was like-- Never mind.
LIAM: I'm so glad I confide in you. I have you to lean on. You are the rock in my life. What would I do without you?
LAURA: They actually said that, as well. They were talking about how amazing I am.
LIAM: While she's talking I start to walk away, quietly as possible.
TRAVIS: I'm so happy right now.
MARISHA: (laughs) So good.
TRAVIS: Ah, deception.
MATT: So as the ceremony dies down, the evening comes to rest, the night sky takes over and you can still hear the gentle whistling of the winds through the various cracks and crevices in the mountainside. You are brought to your respective temporary abodes for the evening to rest, and to plan, and plot what you wish to do going forward. So, what do you want to do?
LIAM: Well, figuratively or literally go to hell, I imagine.
LAURA: Yeah, are we doing this? Tomorrow morning, we're heading out to hell.
LIAM: Yeah, I mean, what're we going to--
TRAVIS: First things first.
LAURA: First things first what, Grog?
LIAM: Squad leader.
TRAVIS: How do we get there?
LAURA: Oh, she's got Plane Shift, right?
MARISHA: I can get us there.
TALIESIN: Very easily, actually. That's the easy part.
TRAVIS: We don't take, like, a ship?
TALIESIN: No, sadly we can't.
LAURA: No ships.
LIAM: No, but we don't know exactly where we're going to land, right?
LAURA: Well, we know the city that we want to go to.
MARISHA: I can get us somewhere within the City of Dis. I don't know if--
LAURA: Dis city.
MARISHA: Built Dis city!
LIAM: Man. This is going to go great.
MARISHA: It was too easy!
LIAM: I mean, when we went to the City of Brass, we did not shift into the City of Brass. We dumped quite a ways away.
MARISHA: It was, yeah. But on the outskirts.
LIAM: Yeah. So we have no control over that, so--
LAURA: We could pop into it. We could pop out of it.
LIAM: Yeah. So, whatever plan we come up with, one branch of the future is complete bullshit improvisation for if we fall into the shit.
LIAM: So there's no planning for that. So if we don't fall into the shit and we land somewhere relatively safe, what're we going to do? How're we going to play this? This is hell.
TALIESIN: Well, it is complicated. And, as hells go, there could be worse hells. I've been reading.
TALIESIN: Thank you. I've been looking into this, and it seems that where we're going has a very, very structured hierarchy. It's very ordered, the society makes sense, and wherever we find this creature that we have to slay, there will probably already be forces working against him that will be happy to ally with us to help that happen. They're vicious psychopathic creatures that only function because they maintain these rules with each other about how they're supposed to act.
LAURA: It's very ordered.
TALIESIN: I think it would be possible to find people who would be delighted for outsiders to come in and do their dirty work for them.
LAURA: However, Scalebearer, big high guy. Really important guy said not to make a scene. He said if we make a scene, that would go poorly.
TRAVIS: Says him. Psh. They're fucking titties.
LIAM: There's no point for sextuplets. We can't do that. That's not going to work.
TALIESIN: No. They can see through things. It's going to be complicated as well because we have value as well.
TRAVIS: Oh, I got it! We kidnap the president of hell and we assume his visage.
LIAM: What's a president?
TALIESIN: His name is Asmodeus. And no, we are not kidnapping Asmodeus of Hell.
LAURA: I think he's kind of powerful.
LIAM: He's really heavy.
LAURA: Might be hard to lift him up.
TRAVIS: Have you seen him?
TALIESIN: I've seen sketches.
LAURA: You have?
TALIESIN: Yes. Well, I mean, I don't know how correct these are--
LAURA: Morning! Morning has come!
MARISHA: Oh, wow!
TALIESIN: Oh, my.
MARISHA: These are a power surge in there.
LIAM: We talked all night and we squared it away and we're going to hell!
MATT: You talked all through the night. No rest was had.
MARISHA: It's very bright.
TALIESIN: We're going to be offered things there. There's going to be deals made.
LIAM: So we're talking negotiation or bullshitting our way. One or the other--
TALIESIN: It's going to be negotiating, probably with someone who'll give us cover if we do some dirty work.
LAURA: I mean, is it similar to the City of Brass? It sounds so similar.
TALIESIN: They have a lot in common, yes. It's even more structured, though. There's quite a complex-- I alone have identified 13 different caste systems within their function.
LIAM: Caste systems?
TALIESIN: There's imps, spine devils, barbed devils, chain devils, bone devils. There's all these different kinds of devil, and each devil has to answer to a different devil. They answer specifically to the devils that have fealty over them, who in turn are in constant war with the devils who are in fealty to other devils, and archdevils, and greater devils, who in turn all owe their fealty to Asmodeus.
LAURA: But we are not devils.
TALIESIN: We are not devils.
LAURA: Therefore, weak and liable to be taken as slaves.
TALIESIN: We are not even slaves. We are consumables.
MARISHA: I don't know. I feel like we've gotten a bit of a reputation for ourselves. I'm sure that word has spread. We're not, you know--
MATT: You would know this.
MATT: Percy, through your research. It's not terribly uncommon for mortals to wander through the City of Dis specifically because it is where goods, gold, and largely souls are traded to and from various structures or entities within the hells and beyond. To just consume or eat someone means nothing. The true worth of a soul is in corrupting it. And they do so through enticing, through corrupting their morals, through driving mortals through bargains and pacts to end up twisting into entities of order and evil as well, and then claim the soul of that. Contracts are a big thing.
TALIESIN: And then turning that into a lemure. Yes.
MATT: Yeah, into a lemure, or other forms of soul-based energy. But contracts are a very, very important part of the whole economy.
LAURA: So the person that we made a contract with was a devil that ended up being the one that killed Pike, right? That was a devil disguised as a demon?
MATT: Ah, no. That was a demon disguised as a devil.
MARISHA: Yeah, that was super confusing.
MARISHA: That was the one that we wished our way out of the contract.
MATT: Correct. Yes.
MARISHA: Yeah, we don't really have that anymore.
TALIESIN: I was very proud of that.
LAURA: Yeah, we don't have a wish. Okay, so we make no deals when we go.
MARISHA: No deals. No contracts.
LAURA: No deals. No contracts. No shaking of hands. No signing of anything.
TALIESIN: No accepting of gifts.
TRAVIS: Feel like I'm going to forget this.
TALIESIN: You are.
MARISHA: Just don't touch anything.
LAURA: Oh no. Don't touch anything.
TALIESIN: Might have to make you special gloves that don't have any fingers.
TRAVIS: I've got special gloves.
TALIESIN: Even specialer gloves.
MARISHA: Like a muff.
LAURA: That we can wear over those gloves.
TRAVIS: Like a what?
MARISHA: Like a hand muff.
TRAVIS: You're going to make me a special hand muff?
MATT: Taryon does pipe in, he's like--
MARISHA: We could put little ears on, we can make it like a kitten!
MATT: "Oh, but I've such fine handwriting! If we need to sign anything, just let me know. I'm happy to."
LAURA: No, Tary, no signing anything.
MATT: "I've signed a lot of contracts in my time. My father used--"
LAURA: No signing of contracts.
MATT: "-- to do contracts throughout the countryside."
LAURA: Although I'm sure you're good at reading contracts as well.
MATT: "This is true!"
LAURA: Yes. You can read them, but don't sign them. How about that?
MATT: "How about if I read them and I like it?"
LAURA: No. No signing.
LAURA: Unless you want to stay in hell.
MATT: "Agree to disagree."
LAURA: And we come back here.
TALIESIN: Your current contract with us actually stipulates that you can’t have another contract enacted until you confer with all of us.
MATT: He goes through his bag and pulls out the contract. “I stand corrected.”
TALIESIN: I’m very thorough.
LAURA: I don’t even remember he signed a contract.
MATT: “Doty, write this down. Be more careful about exclusivity in future contracts.”
TALIESIN: I don’t think you were there. This might have been just him and me getting drunk at one point.
TRAVIS: Is there any worth to only a few people, or one or two, going in to get a lay of the land, once we get there? Instead of just moving in our truffle-shuffle normal formation.
LAURA: I feel like that could be very dangerous, for one person to go in alone.
LIAM: Yes, I agree.
TRAVIS: I’ll do it.
LAURA: Grog, no.
TRAVIS: I’m very stealthy.
LAURA: Last time you were alone-ish, you almost killed two guards.
TRAVIS: What is the problem with that?
LAURA: In Vasselheim.
TRAVIS: We got away with it, right? Did we got caught? Did we get caught, Tary?
MATT: “No! We did-- Did we get caught?”
MATT: “I don’t know. I still have-- I only remember half of what happened.”
TRAVIS: Tary is very excited about my plan. It’s affecting his memory of what happened.
MATT: “I think I blocked it out. But what I remember was interesting.”
LAURA: You could always look in Doty’s diary and find out exactly what happened.
TRAVIS: Yeah, peruse the last 90 pages for the last hour.
MATT: Takes the book and starts thumbing through real fast. You look over at Doty who still has chunks and clusters of bits of red hair from the somewhat removed goatee.
LAURA: Fu Manchu?
MATT: Yeah. His secret goatee.
MARISHA: So, Percy. We know a lot of things and people move through the Nine Hells. What does it say about rakshasas in there? Where do they fall in the caste?
TALIESIN: It doesn’t actually say where rakshasas would fall in the caste, does it?
MATT: There wasn’t a terrible lot of information. Not all the devils are in the same system. There is a promotion-demotion system in which devils advance and are demoted based on their elements there. But there are other fiends that exist in that space that aren’t part of that system. Rakshasas are a little bit outside of that system. Succubi, incubi, they’re a little bit outside of that system. There are other fiendish creatures that actually traverse between both the Abyss and the Hells based on what their interests are. So that’s predominantly the structure of the devils that are--
TALIESIN: In Dis?
MATT: Well, that are built within the Hells as their primary domain.
LIAM: Percy, help me understand, since you’ve read so much about this.
TALIESIN: Yes. Whole page.
LIAM: Good on you. So if the Raven Queen escorts souls-- If you’re an absolute, terrible shit of a person and the Raven Queen escorts you over to the other side, we’re going to be wandering among the souls of the damned? People who die go to where we’re going?
TALIESIN: If they’re under contract, this is where they go.
MATT: And many who sometimes aren’t under contract go there as well.
LAURA: Oh really?
MATT: And you would know this, actually. The Raven Queen, as part of the laws of the cosmos that hold the various planes together, the Raven Queen does indeed escort good souls to the positive planes, the upper planes, and not-so-good souls to the lower ones.
LAURA: Actually, I know that from reading a lot about the Raven Queen. I can answer that for you.
TRAVIS: If you don’t use a turn signal, if you have a vanity plate, you go to hell.
LIAM: Thank you. I know they get escorted to the other side. It just seems like an odd idea to be walking in a city full of the thrown-away. I’m talking to the air right now.
TALIESIN: No, we’re absolutely listening.
LAURA: I’m sorry. Keep going.
LIAM: It was the best thing you never heard.
TALIESIN: That changed the game forever.
LIAM: I miss Scanlan Shorthalt so badly.
MARISHA: Because he listened to you so much more?
LIAM: No, he’s just my buddy.
TALIESIN: Speaking of just our buddy--
MARISHA: As we move on.
TALIESIN: -- Pike is another concern. I would feel far more comfortable making sure that she is definitely on board for this.
LAURA: Well, that’s difficult.
LIAM: Phone a friend? What do we do?
TALIESIN: I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about that, the best way to--
LIAM: I mean, Hotis-- How long has it been, DM?
LIAM: Since Pike wasted his sorry ass.
MATT: It’s been, offhand, a couple of months.
LIAM: A couple months. I mean, I don’t think one more day is going to kill us, if we want to go get her. You know.
LAURA: That's difficult.
TALIESIN: I know, I do bring it up, though, that it is one those things that we should talk about.
LIAM: I mean, if the fates allow.
MARISHA: Yes. I feel like we would have to find someone to send a message.
MARISHA: There is a Message spell, maybe in the form of a text.
MATT: Just blackmail the writers of Blindspot.
MARISHA: Yeah. (laughs)
LAURA: Ashley is in New York. (laughs)
TALIESIN: This is one of those things where I thought I would just bring it up now before we go running in there.
LIAM: Oh, I was just trying to guilt Matt into playing Pike, but--
TALIESIN: I am okay with that too.
LAURA: No, it's Ashley's character, though.
MARISHA: I mean we kind of did--
TRAVIS: Pike, Tary, what else? (laughs)
MATT: Yeah, just throw all the NPCs at me.
LIAM: It's not the Thordak battle, there's not 87 miniatures on the board!
LAURA: No, but I mean, it could be, we don't know.
LIAM: All right, well, we're all going to die.
MARISHA: We'd also have to see if Ashley would be down with us, you know--
TALIESIN: I thought I would bring it up.
MARISHA: -- Kaiju-ing Pike once again.
TALIESIN: I just thought I would bring it up--
MATT: You guys could Jaeger her again.
TALIESIN: -- 'cause it is one of those things that is pretty clutch down there.
LIAM: Not prepared, but we never are.
TRAVIS: Nope. So we kidnap the president.
LAURA: Definitely. I'm liking it more.
MARISHA: So, I'm curious, if-- Rakshasas aren't necessarily part of the system, and this guy tends to come in and out and just make people's lives a living hell. (laughs) Hell! We're going! Puns!
TRAVIS: Good. Slick.
MARISHA: Then maybe no one would miss him. In fact, maybe people down there don't like him. You know?
TALIESIN: The feeling I get reading-- the more I read about this place, is no one likes anyone down there, and so if we can figure out a way to be convenient about it, you can disappear anybody.
LIAM: Also, didn't someone tell us that if they get trashed they are treated like shit there?
TALIESIN: He's probably not well-respected.
LIAM: We've trashed his ass twice.
TRAVIS: When we went to the City of Brass we were owned, right? That's what let us move around so freely?
TALIESIN: We don't have to do that here.
LAURA: Are you sure-- okay.
LIAM: (sighs) I mean, we thought it was getting us around but it clearly wasn't.
TRAVIS: There's nothing that we need to think about like that so that we have--
LAURA: So we should just go down, act like we're evils, like our souls have been claimed by another devil already.
TALIESIN: Honestly, the more we act like us, the more people are going to try to tempt us into things.
MARISHA: I could use Alter Self or try and change into something that's devil-y.
LAURA: Can't they see through that?
TALIESIN: They'll probably see through it.
MARISHA: I have a question.
MARISHA: Because that is an interesting question, because--
MATT: Illusions are different than actually physically changing yourself.
MARISHA: Right. It's transmutation--
MARISHA: Because Shapechange is considered a transmutation spell, whereas Seeming was an illusion spell.
MATT: Seeming was an illusion. Illusions and--
TRAVIS: You actually become that thing.
MATT: As far as you know, the pit fiend you encountered is the only creature that saw through an illusion.
MATT: However, illusions and transmutation spells, things that actually physically alter your form, that's not considered an illusion. You are actually changing your physicality, so Alter Self would not be something that a creature with Truesight could see through.
MARISHA: Can I Alter Self to a succubus?
MATT: I mean, you could alter yourself to look more--
MARISHA: To look like one.
MATT: -- like one. Maybe, yeah.
MARISHA: Or like a tiefling?
MATT: I mean, you wouldn't be able to give yourself wings.
MARISHA: Are tieflings a thing the City of Dis?
MATT: You don't know.
MARISHA: Percy, are tieflings a thing in the City of Dis?
TALIESIN: I don't know.
MATT: Ah, actually--
TALIESIN: Would I know? It's not on the page. You gave me one page.
LIAM: If you just think for a second.
MATT: I know, I know. Well, before I gave you a basic structure and I am filling in the gaps as we go.
TALIESIN: Sure, thank you.
MATT: Yes, they are quite often found there. That is specifically a city that a lot of the social construct revolves around the cross-section between the mortal races and devils.
MARISHA: I wonder if they have guides. I wonder if I can be like a tiefling tour guide for you guys.
LAURA: Maybe you could be our conduit, the person that brings us to--
MARISHA: Yeah, like an ambassador, an escort.
TALIESIN: Already have us under contract.
MARISHA: Already have you under contract.
TALIESIN: Do you feel up to this level of deception? I say with all seriousness.
MARISHA: (inhales) You know it's not my strongest suit, and I recognize this.
LAURA: Wait, wait, Tary. Do you have anything, like a spell you can make, any kind of trinket, (laughs) that would help Keyleth be better at lying?
MATT: "Oh, well, I do believe that I can enhance somebody's visage."
LAURA: Well, not that, no. I'm talking an actual like ability to tell lies better. Something that would up her maybe charisma?
MARISHA: Does he have Enhance Ability? Is that what you are talking about?
MARISHA: He can give me Enhance Ability which means I would get advantage on checks.
LAURA: That's better.
MARISHA: Which I can do on myself as well. Yeah. So, yeah, I can give myself, you know, I can--
MATT: "But I can do it as well, and probably a little better."
MARISHA: And Tary can do it as well. I'll talk into a mirror for a little bit, practice some things that tieflings might say. What are things tieflings say?
TALIESIN: Oh God, I'm a tiefling. What happened? Why has this happened to me?
MARISHA: “Oh God, I'm a tiefling. What happened? Why is this happening to me?” See?
LAURA: That's perfect, that's perfect.
TALIESIN: It's uncanny.
TRAVIS: I don't believe you.
LIAM: We are so close to being able to semi-retire and take it easy. We cannot cock this up. We're going to hell, we’ve no plan! What if we went and were completely honest, and were ourselves? And explained that we were here to remove the shittiest devil in the city?
LAURA: Seriously? Seriously?
LIAM: I am being serious.
TRAVIS: Yeah, he does have a slight point.
LIAM: We tried that. We've tried that. I mean, maybe it'll work. We just run willy-nilly. That's what we do.
TRAVIS: Maybe we do them a favor, it's not like we're saying--
TALIESIN: I'm of the opinion that a bunch of mortals show up in the City of Dis looking for a rakshasa, I think they're going to be able to put two and two together.
MARISHA: Why? Yeah, they're going to know. I honestly don't think anyone's going to have a problem with us killing this guy. It's just a matter of do we want to be full Vox Machina? Because it might paint a giant target on us. Or maybe have someone as a silent escort? I could try and not speak a whole lot.
LIAM: Yeah, I mean, you could--
MARISHA: I could just-- maybe I could be a mute escort? I had my tongue cut out.
LIAM: I mean, I just feel like our-- certainly without Scanman-- our chances of fooling anybody are lower than they've ever been. So maybe having you as a tiefling escort gives a little credibility to the dummies there.
LIAM: There's lots of people who're not dummies there, and I feel like we should just quietly negotiate our way through, because I don't think we can bullshit, not without Scanlan.
TALIESIN: I think that's very fair.
LAURA: All right.
MARISHA: I agree. Okay.
TRAVIS: I got lost, but I agree.
LAURA: Did you ever get a response from Sam on his potions? So, I didn't want to tell.
LIAM: Six regular, three medium, one superstar. If you need gold, I've got loads.
TRAVIS: It's literally right there.
LAURA: Oh. I didn't know you wrote it down, Grog.
LAURA: You can't count.
LAURA: Okay, we gotta pass these potions out. Who wants a superior?
LIAM: I do.
TRAVIS: Oh, do you have those potions?
LAURA: Yeah. Yeah, Tary gave them to me.
TALIESIN: They were gift-wrapped and everything.
LAURA: Did you steal them from me when I wasn't noticing? Because if you did I would have perceived it.
MATT: “I did, sorry.”
TRAVIS: Perceived it?
LAURA: Yeah, I would have. Because I have really high perceiving.
MATT: “I thought that's why you wanted it gift-wrapped.”
LIAM: I'll take any-- I forget the sizes, is it venti, or grande?
LAURA: I don't want you dying again. Take the superior.
LIAM: Ooh, thank you.
LAURA: Is that all right with everyone?
TALIESIN: Yes, that's perfectly fine.
MATT: “I will say I did buy them, if I could also--”
LAURA: Really, Tary? Because you have all those patches, I thought that's the reason you gave them to us.
MATT: “Oh, but they're measly trifles of healing, I could use something--”
LIAM: Tary, how tough is that armor?
MATT: “The best that money could buy.”
LIAM: Yeah, but is it ceremonial or is like shit-kicker?
MATT: “It’s functional.”
LAURA: Do you want two regular potions, how is that, Tary? Is that good for you? In addition to your patches? Or would you want one of the greaters that you bought for us?
LAURA: Wow, all right, sure, take it back.
TALIESIN: (laughs) I'm so sad Sam couldn't be here for that.
LAURA: Okay, I'll take a greater as well.
MARISHA: All right.
TRAVIS: Are you sure you don't want to give me one? Because I usually end up pouring it into one of you sloppy saps.
LAURA: Good call. Greater for Grog.
LIAM: That's a good idea.
LAURA: So that's all three greaters taken.
TALIESIN: I'll take two regular if you've got them.
LAURA: Two regulars for Percy, two regulars for Keyleth.
LAURA: And that's-- well, that's two regulars left.
LIAM: That's like strapping a turkey baster to a tank, that's what that is.
TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah.
MARISHA: I would maybe just keep those or give them to Grog maybe, once again.
TRAVIS: Get up. (laughs)
LAURA: Okay, so Grog.
LAURA: You have two regulars and one greater.
LAURA: All right.
LIAM: Fred, Freddie. Do we know what languages are likely to be spoken there?
TRAVIS: Oh, good question.
LIAM: Does that say in your books?
MARISHA: Did you just call Percy 'Freddie'? I like it.
LAURA: He keeps calling him that.
LIAM: It's his name, isn't it?
TALIESIN: Infernal? They speak Infernal. Technically it would be a middle name.
LIAM: Do you speak Infernal? Well, it is--
TALIESIN: I do not speak Infernal.
LIAM: -- your name, is it not? You have 37 of them, am I allowed to use any of ones between the first and the last?
TALIESIN: I am struggling to find a reason why not, which is somewhat irritating.
LIAM: You know, we're years into being friends. What do you prefer?
TALIESIN: Percy is just perfectly reasonable.
TRAVIS: What about D-Roll?
LAURA: What about Von?
MARISHA: D-Roll's pretty good.
LAURA: What about Musel?
LIAM: Oh jeez, I was just about to agree on it but--
TALIESIN: My god, you've found the line, and I've drawn it.
LIAM: I don't know, D-Roll's pretty good. Man, D-Roll's great!
TALIESIN: D-Roll is actually pretty slick.
LIAM: I'm suddenly extremely jealous of Grog for coming up with that name. Oh man, yeah, that's going to haunt you, my friend.
TALIESIN: You're just going to end up Wings someday, that's all I'm saying.
LIAM: Y'all wanna stop and get a wing?
LAURA: Infernal. But they speak Common, I'm assuming, as well.
MATT: You don't know. You really don't know.
LAURA: Ah, shit. We don't know anybody who speaks Infernal, do we?
MARISHA: Hey, Tary.
LIAM: What about Zahra?
MARISHA: Do you have any spells that help you be able to speak languages? Isn't there a spell called Languages?
MATT: "Not at the moment. However, if we have enough time, I'm sure we could go and find a local class that teaches, maybe go to the Lyceum and we could learn the basics. Few weeks."
TRAVIS: Tary, do you want me to punch you in the face?
MATT: "No, I do not. Please, don't do that. Which, by the way, if we need any sort of healing--" And he rummages through his pouch here and says, "I can muster a couple of short-term potions if it gets too bad."
LAURA: Why did you take one of the greaters if you can make healing potions on your own?
MATT: "Well, I can only really use one for myself, and I wanted a backup."
TALIESIN: So Infernal is going to be a problem.
LIAM: And we're taking Doty with us? Is that the plan?
MATT: "I don't see why we wouldn't. Why would we not want to bring him with us?"
LIAM: I'm sure there's lots of robits in hell.
TALIESIN: Does Doty speak Infernal?
MATT: "Doty doesn't speak."
TALIESIN: Can he write in Infernal?
LIAM: Is he a protocol droid?
MATT: This is where it would be useful for Sam to send me his character sheet so I would know what languages he chose. But because Sam's not here, no. Doty does not know or speak Infernal.
LIAM: Somewhere an aerator's going (raspberry).
TRAVIS: Sam's stuff is right there, isn't it?
LAURA: Oh, yeah!
TALIESIN: No, that's my stuff. I'm spreading because he's not here.
MARISHA: Not really.
TRAVIS: Can we tear off your sleeve and then you understand Infernal?
MATT: "No, you don't need to do that."
TRAVIS: We could try.
MATT: "I would not recommend it."
TALIESIN: I speak Disco, but not Infernal.
TALIESIN: So sorry.
MARISHA: (sings) Disco Inferno.
TALIESIN: I'm not really that sorry.
TRAVIS: You can't just off-the-cuff that. You've gotta save that for something.
TALIESIN: That was for the Aladdin earlier. I had to do something in retaliation. We're looking to see if anything--
LAURA: I speak Abyssal, but that's the other ones.
LIAM: That's the other guys.
MARISHA: I mean, if I wanted to use Shapechange to actually turn myself into--
LAURA: A succubus.
MARISHA: -- a succubus or a rakshasa, then I would speak Infernal because I do get that with-- we didn't really fully decide. It never specifies.
MATT: I would say, yeah.
MARISHA: Because you get everything, but you just keep your intellect, wisdom, and--
TRAVIS: Yeah, do that!
LIAM: You get a whole other language?
LAURA: Tight, then make yourself a succubus.
MATT: Well, no, you keep your intellect, it's not like you learn what the creature would know. So probably not.
MARISHA: But you learn their spells and abilities. You automatically get those.
LIAM: Are the spells in the brain, though? Or in the body?
MARISHA: It doesn't specify in the spell. It's kind of what you decide.
TALIESIN: It depends on what kind of spell. Like, elemental spells--
LAURA: I really want to see what you look like as a succubus, personally.
TALIESIN: I do, too. This picture they have in the book is quite exciting.
MARISHA: Yeah, she's got a whip.
TALIESIN: Yes, she does.
MATT: Any average example of that creature, one without any class levels or the spellcasting trait. So you don't get any spells. If you turn into something that has spellcasting, you don't get their spells. You maintain your intellect--
MARISHA: But I get their abilities.
MATT: You get their abilities, their physical abilities and things they can do.
LAURA: Oh, but that's different than knowing their language.
MATT: Yeah. So I don't think you'd pick up a language.
TRAVIS: Yeah. You get to suck.
MARISHA: All right.
TALIESIN: Well, we may have to actually hire a guide once we're in there, then.
LAURA: No, we can't hire anyone! Why can't we just a hire a tiefling? Don't you have any other tieflings in your tribe?
MARISHA: Maybe, but I imagine they would be super-rare.
LIAM: You've been gone a while.
MARISHA: Do we have any?
LIAM: Maybe ask dear old Dad.
MATT: We'll say for the purposes of-- thank you for the text. So, he checked on the languages that Doty knew.
LAURA: Aw, that's great.
MATT: And Infernal was not one of them, I'm sorry. So there are two tieflings that exist in this society. They're pretty rare when it comes to Ashari, just because a lot of tieflings tend to not feel comfortable in some natural elements sometimes.
MATT: One of them is about six years old. And the other predominantly works as a gardener in the vicinity.
MARISHA: So it's not a guarantee that they know Infernal, necessarily?
MATT: It's not a guarantee, I don't think.
TALIESIN: We could go ask.
LAURA: I think we go.
MARISHA: I could go ask. I mean, I could go and get a few buzz-words, you know--
LIAM: Let's find that six-year-old.
MARISHA: -- hello, goodbye, please, thank you, left, right.
TALIESIN: No, thank you.
MATT: Actually, most tieflings do learn Infernal as a language.
MARISHA: What time is it?
MATT: You guys have been talking late into the evening, it's maybe one or two in the morning.
LAURA: So go in the morning, find out. If not, we'll just go there and hope that someone speaks Common.
TALIESIN: It is called Common for a reason.
MARISHA: Yeah, Common. I feel like we'll be okay.
LIAM: Well, we can't sit here and wait for him to come back, we've just gotta fucking do it, right?
MARISHA: Unless-- I could try and talk to Dad, too, and see if he has anything to help with languages, but I don't know. I think we'll be okay. We'll be all right, right?
LAURA: It's just hell.
MARISHA: It's just hell. It's fine.
LAURA: No big deal. Fine.
MARISHA: Okay, so do we have a vague plan? Should we sleep?
TALIESIN: Sleep, talk to the gardener.
LIAM: But if we do this, we're done. We can take it easy.
TALIESIN: For a bit.
LIAM: To do what? What is left? The dragons are dead. All that's left is Hotis. What is left?
LAURA: The fucking deal that I made with your fucking goddess. Who knows if she'll call us out on it, but.
LAURA: There's that.
LIAM: Well, I'm not going to run right back to the temple. Are you?
LAURA: Well, hell no. She creeps me out.
LIAM: Thank you.
LAURA: I saw her face. It's fucking weird.
MARISHA: Yeah, I saw that-- wait, you guys all saw-- we really talked to--
LAURA: Yeah, that happened.
MARISHA: Because that feels like a fever-dream. That happened, you saw that.
LAURA: Did you know we saw her?
MARISHA: Grog, you saw that, right?
LAURA: The giant white mask?
MARISHA: The giant white face.
LAURA and MARISHA: Grog.
LAURA: I feel like Grog's getting more--
LAURA: I feel like you're lying more now than you used to.
TRAVIS: That is not true.
LIAM: What do you want to do after this, Grog? Say we get back from hell. What's the next step for you? I mean, we're going to party, that's a given, but, like, are you done with the Herd?
TRAVIS: Oh, I dunno, I never look that far ahead. It keeps disappointment low.
MARISHA: No expectations. I like it.
MARISHA: I mean, it's bad for goals, but yeah.
MARISHA: High-five, buddy.
TRAVIS: (with a mouthful of drink) I don't have any plans, so I do anything and it normally works out great.
TALIESIN: There were words in there.
LAURA: I actually understood it. How fucked-up is that?
TRAVIS: You don't need to see all the way to the horizon, right? You just gotta see right in front of your own little feet. You'll get there.
LIAM: Yeah. You remember that time a sword killed you?
LIAM: You do, yeah. Doesn't always work out. Sometimes it gets cocked up, yeah?
TRAVIS: Not yet.
LIAM: Not yet.
TALIESIN: He's got a point.
MARISHA: He does have a point.
LAURA: This is true. I mean, we're all here.
MARISHA: Has anyone stopped to wonder why we're all still alive?
TALIESIN: All the time.
MARISHA: Yeah, by all likelihood we shouldn't be. That's fun. Good times, good times. What about you, Vex? What are you doing after we take a retirement?
LAURA: Oh, wow, this is happening.
LAURA: (laughs) Good one, Grog. I mean, yeah.
MARISHA: I mean, we knew that.
LAURA: I'm going to hopefully build up my small house.
TALIESIN: You do have a small house if you're feeling--
LIAM: Has it been built?
LAURA: No, no, it needs to be.
TALIESIN: It needs to be. There's land.
LIAM: 'Twill be.
TALIESIN: Yeah, 'twill be. It's going to be lovely.
MARISHA: 'Twill be lovely.
TRAVIS: Are you going to be like Mr. Bates on Downton Abbey afterwards?
LAURA: I don't know who that is.
MARISHA: Considering your idea of "small".
TALIESIN: It was very nice before it caught fire.
LIAM: This is the sweetest before-we-all-die.
TALIESIN: This is, and the Grey Hunt itself is eventually going to be popping up.
LAURA: I would love to know what that is.
MARISHA: What is the Grey Hunt, Percy? You keep saying what the Grey Hunt is.
LIAM: Yeah, bust that out.
MARISHA: What is it?
TALIESIN: What's your plans, Kiki?
LIAM: Whoa, whoa, back it up.
MARISHA: It's nothing. It's nothing, is what it is.
LAURA: I feel like the Grey Hunt is something really terrible and you just haven't told me.
TALIESIN: It's not terrible.
LIAM: Bust it out, D-Roll.
TALIESIN: No, no, no, I mean, there's some boring bits of it, obviously.
LIAM: Well, tell us the juicy bits of it.
MARISHA: Is it like paying your taxes, where it's not a real thing, but you kind of have to do it because it's on paper, and someone tells you to?
LAURA: Do I get a jolly hat out of it?
TALIESIN: Where does she learn this stuff? I've never--
MARISHA: I learned it from you, Percy!
TALIESIN: Oh my god.
TRAVIS: "I learned it from you!"
TRAVIS: No guilt.
TALIESIN: Part of the Grey Hunt-- and this happens not every season, but often on Winter's Crest festivals, and again it is an official title and does actually carry with it some responsibilities beyond that, but they're very, very you, they'll be fine-- is, and I can't give too much of it away because part of the ritual is also--
MARISHA: Oh my god! Tell us something!
TALIESIN: You are going to have to go into the woods, and meet something.
LIAM: He's making this up as he goes.
TALIESIN: No, I'm really not.
LAURA: Meet something?
TALIESIN: You go into the woods, there are creatures that live in the woods that have been affected by the land, that have gained some--
TRAVIS: You're going to shroom your tits off.
LAURA: Do I get really high? Is this the whole point of the Grey Hunt?
TALIESIN: Whitestone. There are things within the earth of Whitestone that have certain power and certain energies, and they have been seeped into the plants and the stones and the animals themselves, and your job will be--
LAURA: Do I have to find the highest animal in the woods?
TALIESIN: More or less.
LIAM: I am starting to regret that I asked. What's the punchline?
TALIESIN: The punchline is you're going to go and you're going to have to actually bring back a kill, and it will be a very specific kill that is asked for.
LAURA: Oh, wow.
TALIESIN: But part of that then gives you a practically divine right to manage and look after the creatures of the woods, and our hunting, and what is reasonable to be killed, and otherwise. I think I'm covering most of it--
MARISHA: How do you mean divine? Like she can see things? If she kills the radioactive beast does that mean she gets radioactive powers?
TALIESIN: Divine more in the sense of what reasonable people do to tell commoners that we're allowed to talk to them.
MARISHA: Oh. That's not as fun.
TALIESIN: Less exciting.
LAURA: Do I go alone or do I get help?
TALIESIN: You do go alone. No, you do not get help.
LAURA: Oh, shit.
MARISHA: That's so cool.
LIAM: You're so fucking transparent sometimes.
LAURA: Sounds fun.
TALIESIN: I think you're going to do very well.
MARISHA: Oh, you'll be fine!
LAURA: I look forward to it.
MARISHA: She's killed tree beasts and dragons, she's fine.
LIAM: Everything under the sun.
TRAVIS: Tree beasts or three beasts?
LAURA: Look, my light-up 20 just lit up for no reason as we were talking about it. I think it'll go very well.
TALIESIN: It's a sign.
TALIESIN: It'll be a lovely Winter's Crest. We haven't had a master or mistress of the Grey Hunt in many, many, many years.
MARISHA: So, what are you going to do when we take a break, Percy? You still haven't answered the question.
TALIESIN: I don't know. I mean, I think I'm going home. I say "I think." I'm going home. There will be work to do there.
LAURA: Don't look at me.
TALIESIN: And I have plans for my city. I have plans for the people. I want to make it great again. I want to make it shining, beautiful, comfortable for everyone.
MARISHA: You know, I might need your help. I have a few ideas for the Ashari tribes as well.
TALIESIN: I think that that would be an excellent thing, for our two people to communicate very regularly.
MARISHA: I think they need to.
TALIESIN: I think they must.
MARISHA: Can you help me build some sort of, maybe like, alarm system?
TALIESIN: That sounds very expensive, I'm not sure that that's possible. Yes, of course I can help you with something like that.
MARISHA: Okay! But with taxpayer's money. Also something else you taught me.
TALIESIN: It will be a string on a bell. You're learning so well.
MARISHA: Yeah, just two cups on a string.
LAURA: Can we go to bed?
MARISHA: Yeah. Let's do that.
TALIESIN: Are we all sleeping in this hut, or do we have separate huts? We're all sleeping in this hut, aren't we?
LIAM: Welcome to your yurt.
TRAVIS: Is it all water outside still? Like, a little bit of water on the ground? No. We're not there anymore.
LAURA: It's windy. You're up on a cliff.
MATT: Grog is very drunk at this point.
LIAM: So drunk.
TRAVIS: There's so much water outsi--
MATT: No, you guys do have separate places to stay. People clear out in clusters, you have your own locations to sleep.
LIAM: Why does it smell like mayo?
LAURA: That's gross.
TRAVIS: Taste of choice.
LIAM: It is mayo! Take that!
LAURA: He's just been drinking mayo. (laughs)
TRAVIS: Takes a strong constitution.
LIAM: That is vile!
TALIESIN: That's probably not kept well.
LAURA: That's so gross. All right.
TALIESIN: Goodnight, lovely people.
MATT: You guys rest for the evening. The morning comes, with your mayo hangover.
TRAVIS: It's so pure, it never leaves a hangover.
MATT: As morning comes around, you all come to consciousness. The village of Zephra is already come to life. You can see that the townspeople are up and about, they're handling their business. The guard's being tended to. You can see the Windriders are already out, leaping from mountain peak to mountain peak, doing their perimeters in the vicinity. The children are up and being lead to their various outdoor classes. The city is alive, and your business is your own.
MARISHA: I get information on that gardener and where to find him. Or them. Or she. Or he. I don't know who they are.
MATT: Right. It's easy enough to find, in this city in particular a tiefling sticks out like a sore thumb. You see a woman, probably in her-- it's hard to tell with a tiefling, demon don't crack. But she's a little older, she's in her 40s probably. Dark purple skin, the horns curl backward and come to almost a singular point behind--
LAURA: Oh, cool.
MATT: And the dark hair shifts in streaks of gray, but she's in the middle of what looks to be, gloves on, in the process of checking and planting more seeds.
MARISHA: Do I know her name? Did I get a name?
MATT: Yeah. This is Whitney.
LIAM: I've tagged along, by the way.
MATT: Not her given name, but the name she chose when she joined the Zephra.
MARISHA: Sure. Okay.
MATT: You've interfaced here and there, nothing too immediate. You were very young and you were still-- last you were in the village, being pushed towards this place of greatness, so a lot of people didn't interact with you directly too much.
MATT: But you've seen her around.
MARISHA: When we were like kiddies? Oh, no, but she'd be forever--
MATT: She was older, much older.
MATT: As you approach, she stops and wipes the dust from her hands, and turns, "Ah! My lady Keyleth, I'm sorry." And she stands up and does, like a small--
MARISHA: Don't do that. The bowing thing is-- I've always been uncomfortable with it, don't--
MATT: "I didn't really know what to do--"
MARISHA: No! It's-- No, don't, it's fine. No. You're fine. You're great! Hi!
MARISHA: Good to see you!
MATT: "You as well, congratulations."
MARISHA: Oh, thank you. I was just wondering if I could actually just ask you a few questions, on behalf of everybody.
MATT: "Certainly, what can I do to help?"
MARISHA: Well, okay. (sighs) I don't know if this is a sensitive subject or not, I know you've been away from this for a little bit, but it seems me and my team are going to the Nine Hells. To the City of Dis. And, yeah. No. I know. We all had the same reaction. (laughs) I just, I didn't know if you could actually help me with any Infernal language or any knowledge that might help, or if you still know the language.
MATT: "I've not had to use it in a very long time. I don't know much about what you're talking about, I've lived here in Vesra my whole life. I don't know what else I can offer, as far as-- I can read a little Infernal, and I can understand it if I hear it, I haven't really had to speak it in a while. What do you need?"
MARISHA: Well, we were thinking of going in under disguise as, potentially, as tieflings, since they are more common there.
MATT: "All right."
MARISHA: So I didn't know if you could share any basics of your language?
MATT: "What do you want to know?"
MARISHA: Well, you know, hello. Goodbye. Thanks. Sorry. Left, right.
MATT: "Oh, all right." And she takes a minute and has to scratch her head, you can see it's been a long time since she's ever had to exercise her Infernal-speaking muscles--
MARISHA: Do you want to do this over breakfast? I can, we'd be more than happy to buy you breakfast.
MATT: "I'm all right, I'm all right, I'm in the middle of my work here. Okay. For a greeting, I mean as much as there is one. It's pretty abrupt." And if you're keeping tabs on this, it's pronounced "koo-thok".
TALIESIN: Kuthok. We're all going to say that over and over again now. Kuthok.
LIAM: It's like Klingon.
LAURA: Yeah, it does. It sounds like Klingon.
MARISHA: Okay, cool.
LAURA: Emphasis on "THOK".
MARISHA: KuTHOK. You're right.
MATT: "There's, goodbye is very similar. Kuthrek."
MATT: "That is usually said in a very forceful manner. Goodbyes outside of-- it's usually a very stern separation."
MATT: "What else did you--?"
LIAM: Excuse me, I'm sorry. I'm Lady Keyleth's-- friend, and--
LIAM: Aren't I though?
MARISHA: No. Sorry. I saw the hesitation and it was cute. Keep going.
LIAM: All right. We-- You grew up here, so I don't know if this means anything to you, but we are searching for a rakshasa. Do you know what that is?
MATT: "I'm afraid I do not."
MATT: "Look, it's all right. I understand, I-- many people just assume because of the way I look that I know a lot about devils and demons.”
MARISHA: No! No, no, no! I--
MATT: But I really don't. I'm sorry.
LIAM: No, it's all right. Sorry.
MATT: “It's okay. I just--"
LIAM: Yeah, we're-- we're kind of grasping at straws so I hope we didn't offend.
MATT: "No, no offense taken. Just-- I wish I could be of more help. I'm sorry."
TRAVIS: (whispers) Insight check.
MATT: "Any other phrases?"
LAURA: (whispers) Insight check.
LIAM: (whispers) No.
MARISHA: I mean-- maybe like a 'yes' and a 'no'? And then we'll totally leave you to your work, because I feel like I've totally interrupted, like, your flow and I'm so sorry.
MATT: "It's okay. You're allowed to. You're the Voice of the Tempest, for goodness sake. I--"
MARISHA: Doesn't excuse me from human decency. (laughs)
MATT: "Fair enough. 'Yes' is-- 'yes' or an acknowledgement, is more of a 'yai'."
MARISHA: Yai. Was that right?
LAURA: Episode 91, where we force Matt to make up an entire language on the spot.
MARISHA: Yeah. (laughs)
MATT: Yeah. Thanks guys.
TALIESIN: This is so wonderfully Doctor Dolittle.
LAURA: Yai equals yes.
LAURA: Nai. Nern.
TRAVIS: She’s not even waiting for it.
MATT: Sure, that's it now, guys.
TALIESIN: No! No! Damn it Liam!
MARISHA: Fuck! Shut up! Shut up!
LAURA: No, not 'ermahgerd'!
MATT: It is now.
MARISHA: Come on. Come on, really?
LIAM: He's god.
LAURA: No he is not.
LAURA: Oh. My. God.
TALIESIN: Ermahgerd. I hate you.
LAURA: That's canon.
TALIESIN: It's going in the book.
LIAM: What's that, Mr. Disco? Who do you hate?
LAURA: Thanks a lot, Liam!
TALIESIN: You and she of the so-called "Tempest" can both--
LIAM: You're welcome.
TRAVIS: Brilliant. You're not going to ask her any questions? But she's a fuckin' felon on the run from the Hells. You're just going to let her go--
MARISHA: She's not a felon on the run. I've known her since I was a child.
TRAVIS: No, you're a fool. You're blind.
LAURA: We're not here, so don't worry. We're not having this conversation in front of her.
TRAVIS: She's a mass murderer and you let her pick your vegetables.
MARISHA: She's a peaceful fucking gardener for the past 20 years.
TRAVIS: It's a great cover.
LAURA: For the past 20 years.
LIAM: Speaking of which, do you know-- what's the word for peace? Is there a word for peace? Do you know?
MATT: "Not that I know of."
LIAM: All right. Shit. This was not very fruitful.
MARISHA: Mm. It's the Nine Hells. Is there a word for 'thank you'? Do they thank people there?
MATT: "It's similar to 'goodbye'."
MARISHA: (laughs) It's similar to goodbye.
LIAM: Is it more or less forceful?
MATT: "About the same. It can mean both."
MARISHA: Can be both?
LIAM: It's an inflection thing?
MATT: Well, it's more like 'aloha.' It can be 'hello' or 'goodbye', you know.
LIAM: I feel like we've hassled this woman enough.
LAURA: You should ask, like, how to say 'Don't fuck with me.'
MARISHA: Yeah, I feel bad. Whitney.
LIAM: Well that's a bit of a complicated phrase for someone who barely knows how to say 'hi' and 'bye.' Woman who's not here.
MARISHA: Thank you so much for us interrupting your morning. Is there anything you'd like from me in return?
MATT: “Just leave me to my gardening, if that's okay."
LIAM: Yeah, we can be annoying sometimes. We understand.
TRAVIS: She's got more people to bury.
MARISHA: Great to see you. See you again.
MATT: "You as well."
MARISHA: Man. So good to be home. Okay, let's go! Vax?
MATT: As soon as you start walking away in the awkward quiet you hear her say over your shoulder, "Good luck."
MARISHA: "Thanks." I don't look back out of embarrassment.
MATT: Okay. (laughs)
TALIESIN: Ah. Voice of the Tempest.
MARISHA: Voice of the Tempest, motherfuckers!
MARISHA: First act of being king!
LAURA: Kathrek. Kuthrek.
LIAM: I don't know if I said that right.
LAURA: It's koothrek.
LIAM: I just said tangerine in--
MARISHA: It's Kuthok. Kuthrek. Yai. And ermahgerd.
MATT: (with accent) Ermahgerd.
LAURA: What is it?
MATT: Yeah, you got to roll it.
MARISHA: Rounded vowels.
MATT: We've all suffered through those pronunciations.
LIAM: Inside baseball.
TRAVIS: Make it the last word in a four-sentence line.
MATT: Mordor. Anyway, sorry. Voice-acting lamenting. So!
TALIESIN: Mm. Open your portal to the Nine Hells.
MATT: That's a 6th-level spell. So what do you guys want to do?
TALIESIN: I think it’s-- are we going to just do this?
TRAVIS: How did it go? Did you learn everything?
MARISHA: You know, it went about as well as one could expect?
TRAVIS: I expected it to go pretty fucking well.
LAURA: Did you learn all of the language?
MARISHA: Uh-huh, I totally learned all the language in one 15-minute setting of annoying a poor gardener.
LAURA: Well, tell us what you learned so that we can speak it too.
MARISHA: Okay. Hello, hello-- kuthok.
LAURA: Kuthok. Got it.
MARISHA: Kuthok. Yeah, an emphasis on 'thok'.
LAURA: Got it.
MARISHA: Uh-huh. Goodbye--
LIAM: Is Cusack.
MARISHA: Close. Close. Kuthrek.
MARISHA: Yes: yai.
LAURA: It's like 'yay', only kind of weird.
MATT: So excited for this.
LIAM: I'm not.
TALIESIN: (whispers) Hate you.
MARISHA: No-- is ermahgerd.
MARISHA: It's impressive that no is the most complicated one. I know.
TALIESIN: So how do you say, 'Do you speak Common?’
LAURA: I think probably, 'Do you speak Common?'
TALIESIN: Oh, well, that's fair.
TRAVIS: That's it? That's all you got?
TALIESIN: It's remarkable.
MARISHA: She didn't remember a whole lot. She's been living amongst us for quite a while. In fact, she never lived in the Nine Hells, because apparently that was maybe vaguely offensive?
LAURA: Well, yeah.
TRAVIS: Did you believe her?
TALIESIN: She kills at night.
MARISHA: She's n-- yes. I've known her for a while.
TRAVIS: What's her last name?
LAURA: What's her mother's name?
MARISHA: (laughs) What's her mother's name?!
TALIESIN: No. No, I'm calling that one.
TRAVIS: She's coming with us though, right?
LAURA: Did you learn how to say 'Leave us alone'?
LIAM: She wasn't very good on phrasing.
LAURA: That works.
LIAM: It was just words.
MARISHA: Just words.
TALIESIN: Yet I will say, 'yes', 'no', 'please,' and 'thank you' can get you through enormous amount of transactions with any people.
MARISHA: Well we don't have 'please' and 'thank you' because apparently they--
LAURA: It's the Nine fucking Hells, nobody says please and thank you.
MARISHA: Yeah, they're not very polite.
TALIESIN: So 'yes' and 'no' get you through an awful lot.
LIAM: If a horrible devil is bearing down on you to kill you, you just say 'Ermahgerd, ermahgerd, ermahgerd, ermahgerd, ermahgerd, ermahgerd.'
MARISHA: It's like the equivalent of the Shia Leboeuf 'Nanananana!'
MARISHA: Nananana no.
LAURA: Check! This is great.
MATT: I am so excited for this.
TALIESIN: We are stalling.
MARISHA: This is going great. We are totally stalling.
LAURA: All right, we should probably go.
TRAVIS: How do we feel about kidnapping the nine-year-old tiefling?
MATT: You hear the tearing of paper behind you as Taryon takes a sheet from Doty's book and is now, "Ermahgerd.”
MATT: "Er-- (clears throat)--er-- (high pitched voice)-- ermahgerd. Er-- I'm practicing."
LIAM: Get it out of your system now, because when we get over there you should probably keep your voice down.
LAURA: You've got to be, like, so cool.
LAURA: You've got to be the coolest.
LIAM: And if that means not talking, that's what it's got to be, all right?
TRAVIS: Tary do you remember how dangerous the kraken was?
MATT: "Yes, but we still prevailed."
TRAVIS: And this is like-- (whispers) what's a big number?
TRAVIS: This is, like, seven times more dangerous.
LIAM: Yeah. Everybody's a kraken there. More or less.
TALIESIN: A city of krakens.
MATT: “Well, do we all have to go?”
TRAVIS: Only if you want to become, you know, a full-fledged, permanent, into-the-histories member of Vox Machina.
LIAM: Is that on the table?
MATT: "Then I accept!"
TRAVIS: Mm. Wise choice.
TALIESIN: It is now.
TRAVIS: A wise choice. It's only like part of it.
TALIESIN: This is assuming that we're going to survive, to be fair, so--
LAURA: I know, we could all die.
TALIESIN: It's a lot of assumption. Oh, any of us. Any.
TALIESIN: Nothing, it's going to be great.
LAURA: Let's do this. Let's build Dis city.
TRAVIS: Do you have a will made up?
TALIESIN: How do you even know that-- I-- no, never mind.
TRAVIS: Don't worry about it, we'll get to that later.
LIAM: The multi-verse is large and wide.
MATT: All right. What's the plan?
MARISHA: Time is a flat circle.
LAURA: (sings) Let's go to Dis city.
MARISHA: (sings) We built Dis city on rock--
TALIESIN: Nope. Nope.
TRAVIS: I will shave both of your heads.
TALIESIN: Thank you. Thank you. I'm behind this plan. It's a good plan.
LIAM: Not in character.
MARISHA: That was a bad song.
TRAVIS: (electric razor noise)
MARISHA: All right. Are we going?
LAURA: Oh, shit.
MARISHA: Are we going? Are we ready?
LAURA: I mean, I was kind of joking, but sure. Let's go.
MARISHA: All right.
LAURA: What is this? What is this creepy, weird--
LIAM: Who Dis?
LAURA: Who Dis? Who dat?
MARISHA: Who Dis? We gotta hold hands and then--
TALIESIN: Wait are you above me or below me?
TRAVIS: I'm above you.
TALIESIN: All right.
MARISHA: Good job. Bamf, City of Dis.
MATT: As you all hold hands, and you complete the ritual, the incantations leaving your lips, your vision suddenly grows dark as the magics of the spell pluck you from your home plane and thrust you into the space between.
LAURA: Oh god.
MATT: Before you, a glow begins as you rocket towards an unexpected and incredible sight: an endless permeable tapestry, a tangled lattice of burning, divine fire appears before you, writhing and growing as you shoot towards it with incredible speed. You instinctively wince and curl, a promise of impact triggering your need to defend yourself, the dread as the air begins to heat around you. Then-- whoom-- you impact and pass through harmlessly, the heat fading. You glance over your shoulder to see it gone. You just passed through the Divine Gate.
TRAVIS: The Divine Gate.
MATT: You glance over your shoulder to see it vanish, but then another flash of red magical power consumes your vision as your feet suddenly find hard ground. As the rush of powerful energies subside, the swirl of color and sudden thrust of movement coming to an abrupt halt, you find yourself standing within an extremely dark alleyway of some kind, framed by the exterior of dark stone buildings, climbing up above you for many, many stories. The cracked, thick cobblestones that mark the floor are littered with filth, slivers of cracked skulls and bones, as well as discarded refuse of some indeterminate origin. The air here is extremely hot, the walls and floors themselves around you seemingly the source. As you look and glance out past both sides of this alleyway you've somehow arrived in, the air distorts with intense heat as smoke rises from the streets themselves around you, the occasional ash or ember drifting through the air in front. Now, the dense city that surrounds you is incredibly massive; the walls, the structures that clutter the immense black metropolis surrounding you glow at the edges like heated glass. As you peek past and look further out, you can see the city is a broken maze of metal ramparts built into miles of steep hillsides and shattered towers framing an endless labyrinth of twisting alleyways. Within these streets, your eyes dart around to see dozens of molten, slithering masses of flesh shifting past the mouth of the alleyway, roiling, stepping with sick slapping sound, their faces twisted into a grotesque look of ever-retching horror, the sounds gaping like a (gasps in pain) wince with an underlying screech and scream. You see behind them, cracking lashes over these masses of flesh, two large humanoid devils with spine-like protrusions that come jutting out of the sides of ash-white skin pulled tight against a massive skeletal form, the backs of their bodies forming these gargantuan scorpion-like tails that dangle, looming dangerously in front of them. As they step forward (whip sounds), two more lashes go, you see these fleshy masses (gasps) begin to clutter up again and move further past the exit to the alley as these bone devil-like creatures slowly crawl past. One of them stops for a second and continues walking as you all hold your breath. A sudden, horrid stench of decay fills the air as they pass. You hear them crackling in the distance as they shove along their tortured charges. As you glance up past them, you see the sky now: dozens of winged shadows glide through the air across a greenish, cloudy, barely lit sky that flashes with far distant cracks of lightning. Occasionally brightening darker shapes, larger, looming in the distance. But one that draws your eye like a terrible dream, unable to look away upon noticing it, is an impossibly colossal tower of black iron and lead, stretching for hundreds of miles into the sky before vanishing into the dark, clouded expanse above you. You blink and turn around to look at the other side of the horizon, but there stands the exact same tower. You shift around; no matter your view of that horrid horizon, there stands the Iron Tower, the throne of the archdevil, Dispater, standing ever-vigilant over his Iron City of Dis. And that’s where we’re going to take a break.
MARISHA: Good, I have to pee so bad!
LAURA: Wait, I have a question! We did a Heroes’ Feast last night, right?
MARISHA: Nope, we didn’t!
LAURA: I thought we said we were going to do it! I thought we were going to do it!
MATT: You have to say you’re going to do it. Nobody said it.
LAURA: Didn’t we say we were going to do it?!
LIAM: Might have said it last game, but I don’t remember it this game.
TRAVIS: We didn’t say it.
LAURA: I thought we said it in the last game.
LIAM: No, but then you have to follow through--
LAURA: Shit balls mother bitch fuck balls!
TALIESIN: It’s okay, we’re going to find an inn.
MATT: We’re going to take a break here, guys, real fast. For the chat room, we’re giving away this really awesome Wyrmwood.
LAURA: Ah, that’s some of my favorite wood right there!
MATT: It is the black and white ebony tabletop dice tray. It’s fantastic. The word to use in the Twitch chat-- if you’re in Alpha, move over to Twitch chat to make sure you put this in there to be part of this giveaway-- the word of the night is ‘Doty,“ D-O-T-Y.
LAURA: It should be ‘ermahgerd,’ but whatever.
MATT: They’ve already established it. Next episode.
LIAM: Too bad, so sad.
MATT: Back here in a few minutes, and we’ll pick up where we left off. See you guys shortly.
TRAVIS: Holy shit!
MATT: Welcome back. So, first, before it begins, our winner of the chatroom is going to win the awesome dice box from Wyrmwood is Thaign, T-H-A-I-G-N.
MATT: So congratulations, we'll get your information and get that sent to you, well done.
TRAVIS: The box is really sweet, We just saw it.
LAURA: Yeah, we did.
MATT: All right, so, as you guys have just taken in as much of the scenery as you can here within someplace in an alley in the center of the City of Dis. Where no matter where you look, the creepy distant tower of iron seems to follow--
LAURA: (whispers) Dis tower.
MATT: -- your vision no matter where on the horizon you glance. Ever watching, ever present.
TRAVIS: That's weird.
MATT: What do you want to do?
TRAVIS: Send up a flare.
TALIESIN: While we can do that--
LAURA: Let's put our hoods and cloaks on. Weren't you going to make yourself look like a tiefling?
MARISHA: I, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I can do it right now. Is anyone watching?
LAURA: Can I see if anybody is watching right now?
TALIESIN: There's an omnipresent iron tower that's watching.
LAURA: Is there a-- I mean, iron tower?
TALIESIN: It's more the 'omnipresent' part that was really the point of that, but yes.
LAURA: I thought you said an eye on a tower, and I was like, that's a different tower.
MATT: That's a different tower.
TALIESIN: That's copyrighted, I'm well aware.
MARISHA: Percy's got a good point. We might want to try and get out of the street. Get indoors. Yeah.
LAURA: Can I perceive anywhere that looks like where travelers would stay?
MATT: Make a perception check.
LIAM: I'll do the same.
LIAM: That's better than me. 24.
MATT: Okay. As you come up to the edge and lean against the wall, looking over the side. First, a moment passes, and as your shoulder hits the wall, you smell something burning as you glance back. Suddenly your shoulder, you can see the heat of the actual wall with just a brief contact to your body has begun to burn--
MATT: -- and singe the outside of your cloak.
LAURA: Oh crap!
LIAM: Pat your hair, pat your hair, pat your hair, pat your hair.
LAURA: Ow, ow, ow, ow.
MARISHA: Wait, from just peeking around the corner?
MATT: From just leaning and touching the wall.
TRAVIS: (groans) Ugh, it's Tucson.
MATT: You immediately notice that the bottom elements of your shoes are melting a little bit on the bottom with your steps.
LAURA: Oh my gosh. Good thing rubber doesn't exist here.
MATT: The city itself is just this emanating source of perpetual heat. You're already sweating in the presence here, and as you glance around the corner and look at these buildings that rise up, you can see the architecture is hooked to the corner as the monolithic deep reds and blacks and grays that everything's built from, nothing belies an exterior that would seem to be welcoming to a traveling pack of people, at least not from your current standpoint.
LIAM: And remind us, it's dim or it's not super bright here, is it? Dark?
MATT: No. It's not super dark either. Imagine a very very very very cloudy day around sunset.
LAURA: Well. I don't know what to do other than to-- Does it look like there's anybody around us that can see us? Anybody watching?
MATT: (laughs) Are you trying to be stealthy?
LAURA: I mean, I'm glancing subtly, trying to look like a badass but also stealthy.
MATT: Make a stealth check.
MATT: Okay. As you glance out to the side, you watch as two, what look to be humanoid, normal-sized humans, but deep red skin, black hair, horns curled at the front of the forehead and folded leathery wings at their sides, begin stepping off from one of the nearby roads that seems to go further into the city, and they walk past and one of them glances over and sees you. And they both just keep walking, seemingly not affected or alerted by your presence.
MATT: Looking about each side of the road as you go, there is a lot of movement through these streets, there are a lot of creatures, all sorts of weird shapes, you see a lot of that weird fleshy mass that you saw stepping forward, there's clusters of them all over. Many of them seem to be herded or pushed, some seem to be almost chained together in places and being dragged around.
LAURA: Is it like that we ran into in-- Was it Kraghammer-- Where were we where that thing was like a mash of bones and stuff?
LIAM: Oh, in the field of bone shards.
MATT: Oh, right, right!
LAURA: Is it like that?
MATT: No, imagine a very, very rotund person that is perpetually melting out of clay, and-- let me just show you a picture, actually.
TRAVIS: Is it like a fondue pot of nine people in one?
MATT: There's a single face.
LIAM: It's like a walking shit sack, yeah?
MATT: Kind of.
TALIESIN: Pizza the Hutt.
MATT: That right there.
LAURA: Ew! You can't even see legs!
MATT: It's just these, like a liquified person that is just a somewhat-shifting, burbling forth fleshy sack that occasionally-- you can see like the mouth and what looks almost like a face that is ever-screaming and writhing in pain.
LAURA: That seems awful.
TRAVIS: This guy needs some calcium.
LAURA: Wait, imma put my glasses on so I can see it again! Oh, you already closed it.
MATT: I can bring it back up again, it's all right.
TRAVIS: Right next to that beautiful picture of a--
MATT: Oh, yeah! Well, you've already seen the other creatures before.
LAURA: Oh my gosh.
MATT: But that's your fun one there.
LAURA: That is so creepy. Okay.
MATT: But they're being herded around. You see smaller creatures, you see imps, which you've encountered before: tiny winged leathery humanoid creatures that flutter around and seem to be more keeping a peripheral view, an overhead view of the goings-on of each one of these clusters of entities being pulled to the city. You see a handful attending each of these that move along, these humanoid devils that have long polearms, and from their dark, almost like bluish-purple skin, what looks to be almost like a series of jagged pointed tendrils that jut from the bottom of their chin and almost like writhe and curl as they push forward, occasionally shoving their weapon into the side of these things and just getting them back on track as they wander off.
LAURA: Do I see anything that looks like normal Exandrians? People that are just like--
MATT: At the very-- at this moment, no. And you get the sense that, at least, they're not super common. (laughs) Almost everyone that is currently walking through the street in this particular intersection seems to be of some sort of devilish heritage.
LAURA: Right. I go back to our group and say, well, I was spotted for sure. Nobody seemed to pay me very much mind, but there's nobody here that looks like us. I don't know if we've happened to pop into a particular area of the city that is inhabited mostly by devils, but that's where we are.
TRAVIS: Do we know what layer we're in?
TALIESIN: Dis would be--
MARISHA: What layer of Hell? It's like, the third, fourth? Second.
LIAM: Dis is two.
TRAVIS: Oh, we gotta find the--
LIAM: What level Dis?
TRAVIS: Open market, right?
LAURA: Yes, the market.
LAURA: Oh, right.
TALIESIN: If we find the market, we'll find an inn. Find an inn, we'll find a place to drink and get a room.
TRAVIS: Please don't make me be the one that remembered all the shit about Dis. I mean, I am The Grand Poobah de Doink of All of Dis and That, so.
LAURA: Oh, that's true, you would know!
TRAVIS: Y'all motherfuckers is coming with me.
TALIESIN: Oh no, I can already see that going poorly.
LAURA: I feel like we should put our hoods up and just generally act like we belong here.
LIAM: Just walk with purpose.
MARISHA: Do you think if I do an Alter Self here that people will notice?
LAURA: Can you do it quickly? I mean--
MARISHA: Yeah, I can do it at will.
LAURA: We're in an alleyway.
TALIESIN: All right, let's all make the changing circle.
MARISHA: Yeah, just shield me, like we're changing at the beach.
LAURA: Can you just lean in front of Keyleth?
MARISHA: Look casual. Don't touch the wall, you'll burn!
MATT: Which actually, you do immediately take four points of fire damage as you do so.
LIAM: Aww, poor baby.
MARISHA: Aww, buddy!
LAURA: Put some mayonnaise on it, you'll feel better.
MARISHA: Yeah, it's true.
TRAVIS: Mayonnaise (squelching noise).
MATT: So, are you changing your appearance?
MARISHA: Yeah, I'm going to--
LAURA: Can you imagine how sour Grog must smell all the time? He just has mayonnaise on him.
LIAM: Curdled dairy at all times.
TRAVIS: Or how much I love it? Sam said he can cast Alter Self on himself plus three others.
MATT: Yes, I'm working on that.
MARISHA: Oh, he can do it on others?
MATT: Yeah, people who can actually cast the spell, they can cast on other people, but you as a druid ability, you can only do it right on yourself.
MARISHA: Oh, copy. Cool. I'm going to look like kind of a vague cross between Whitney and Zahra.
MATT: Okay, and as you do that, Taryon immediately goes, "Oh, great idea!" and he turns himself into-- he pulls out a small object and clicks it for a second, as it does, his form shifts into an almost identical-looking--
MATT: (laughs) No, a male tiefling. And then goes, "Who else, who else? Who else would like my blessing?"
MARISHA: You know? Hold off on that. I'm not saying it's not a good idea, but maybe we should workshop it. What--
LAURA: I want to be one.
MATT: "I knew you would!" And he comes forward and pulls another one out and as he breaks this small capsule in your direction, this burst of arcane energy hits you and all of a sudden, your form shifts into an almost identical-looking tiefling; same colors--
LAURA: No, change it up-- stop, Taryon!
MATT: "I wh-- okay! Ah!" and he tries to finagle with it for the last second as the spell just about takes hold of your shape goes slightly more, and he goes, "Uh, blue?" and you're a little more blue. It's the tail-end, like the "Eh?"
MARISHA: Hang on, hang on, we don't want to be--
LIAM: No, I'm talking it out. You can do that to how many more of us?
LAURA: Two more people.
MATT: "Two more!"
LAURA: (laughs) Kidding, he knew.
TALIESIN: I'll take one, why not?
LAURA: Yeah, Grog can look like Grog.
LIAM: I feel like a handful of tieflings and Grog is better than us as we are.
TALIESIN: I would agree.
MATT: He goes ahead and takes one--
LAURA: But make him more red. Pink!
MARISHA: Hang on, hang on, how long does Alter Self last when it's just a spell? Because if we were going to try and eat some food, and take a break, then maybe we should do that first? Are we still doing that, or are we just going head-on into this? Feel like our plan's already dissolving.
LAURA: No no, we need to get a-- we need to eat.
LIAM: Yeah, we're in a back alley.
TRAVIS: Heroes' Feast.
LIAM: We gotta walk through this town.
MARISHA: I can find it too, Matt.
MATT: I'm looking it up, hold on.
MARISHA: Alter Self lasts for one hour.
MATT: Correct, concentration though, right?
LAURA: Okay, well that'd-- concentration?
MATT: Yeah, and so--
TALIESIN: If we're going to fight, it doesn't matter. I'll take grey.
MATT: "Well, by all means!" and he hands you the small capsule-- It's almost like he enchants the coins, you're actually casting the spells on yourself, so you are concentrating on the spell.
MARISHA: Okay, so I guess we will get through this city and eat a Heroes' Feast when we get to our destination?
LAURA: Yeah, and then we'll just Alter Self again.
LIAM: So I can do this on my own then?
MATT: "Yeah, by all means."
LIAM: Fuck it, all white.
MATT: You become an albino--
MATT: -- tiefling of your own intrinsic design.
LAURA: Way to totally blend in.
MARISHA: Very, very unique.
LAURA: Good job, rogue.
LIAM: Do you think everybody here dresses like the Raven Queen’s butler? I mean--
MATT: You have encountered an albino tiefling before.
TALIESIN: We have.
MARISHA: Have we?
LAURA: Lillith was an albino?
LAURA: That’s why she was so pale.
MARISHA: She was so cute!
LIAM: You can say you’re sorry.
LAURA: I’m not.
LIAM: You’re not? You should be.
LAURA: I’m not!
LIAM: You’re wrong, though.
TALIESIN: Right! Let’s find ourselves a marketplace and an inn!
MARISHA: And a rakshasa.
TALIESIN: Let’s go. I am going to step out into the street.
LAURA: Act like you belong here. Act like tough and cool.
TALIESIN: With pomp and circumstance and purpose.
MARISHA: I join Percy.
TALIESIN: Please don’t write things down while I do that.
LAURA: Oh no!
TALIESIN: That’s not nice!
LAURA: Act like you belong.
MATT: Why, whatever do you mean?
LAURA: People will buy it. We just walk looking straight ahead; don’t look around too much.
MARISHA: Yep yep!
LIAM: 10% what you say, 90% how you say it.
TALIESIN: I act like me, I think I’m going to be fine.
LIAM: I act like Percy.
TALIESIN: He’s also going to be fine.
MATT: As you guys step out into the main road, you can see the cracked stones that make up the walkway here. Even just walking through here, though you feel confident in your placement, the presence here you're still getting used to, and it’s something about the air, or you feel just a little dizzy as you’re still adjusting to the heat, to the placement, to the strange ever-so-faintly non-Euclidian structure to the landscape around you. It’s forcing you to consciously right your posture and pay more attention to your surroundings than you normally would. There’s just something about the presence here that’s unwelcoming. You can see there are a number of other streets that head in any direction. It’s hard to tell which way is further into the city and which is further out, it’s so vast. Even the City of Brass or Ank’harel in their size, none of them seem to really scrape the surface of the sheer immensity of the City of Dis by comparison.
LIAM: This should be easy.
TALIESIN: I wouldn’t know from reading anything, I wouldn’t have a vague idea of where to go? I have a theory at the moment, but it’s pretty light.
MATT: From what you read, it was mostly about the structure of the society, there was no well-written cartographer’s experience--
TALIESIN: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the City of Dis. I say we head to the tower.
LAURA: The tower’s in every direction.
TALIESIN: So, whatever direction it is, that’s the way we’ll head.
TRAVIS: Wow. That’s true.
LIAM: So it’s that way.
MARISHA: And also that way!
LIAM: Some people go both ways.
TALIESIN: I feel like if I were going to build a giant tower that couldn’t be ignored, I would have that be the center of anything and every place. It may not even matter.
LIAM: Let’s take a stroll and see a lay of the land.
MARISHA: As we start taking a stroll, can I do a nature check to see if I can spot any native beasts, insects, etc.? Native animals, birds.
MATT: Make a nature check.
MARISHA: Critters, and the usual.
MATT: Sure. This would be more perception, actually because you’re trying to pick up details in the scenery.
MARISHA: Perception check?
MATT: Nature to understand if you knew what they were.
MARISHA: That’s a shithole roll: 14.
MATT: You do, occasionally, catch what looks to be some element of small, flying, buzzing pests, but they’re different than what you’re used to. The brief glances you get of one that comes nearby, it seems to have eight sets of wings and some horrid-looking pincers on the front and looks like a nasty denizen of the scenery. And immediately, you’re like, “Ugh!”
TRAVIS: I lean over to Vex, and I say, oi. In an effort to blend in, should we just kill a random person?
LAURA: I feel like only if it’s called for, yeah?
TRAVIS: I just thought of it, so does that mean it’s called for? Is that what you do here?
LAURA: No, probably not just yet.
TRAVIS: They might really like it here.
LAURA: No, but they could, but they also thrive on order.
LAURA: And I feel like that's a little out of order.
TRAVIS: Right. I’m glad I asked you.
LAURA: Me too.
LAURA: Keep doing that.
TRAVIS: Asking you?
LIAM: Why is our life so much like Vaudeville?
MARISHA: You do like the theater.
LIAM: That’s true.
MARISHA: Do you think a Pass Without a Trace spell would be beneficial here?
LAURA: It’s concentration.
TALIESIN: Why try to be complicated?
LIAM: Let’s just own this.
TALIESIN: Let’s own it.
LIAM: Take a walk. Percival.
TALIESIN: No fear!
TALIESIN: I strut.
LAURA: (gasps) Maybe we can drop a little bit of dust of tracelessness behind us, though, so we’re-- no?
TALIESIN: No, let’s not make a scene. I’m going to look for signs to look for the sorts of people who are walking around, if there seems to be a flow of traffic, if people seem to be going in a direction, coming from a direction.
TALIESIN: Getting a sense of the city.
MATT: While heading towards the tower?
TALIESIN: While heading towards the tower to make sure that I am trying to get a lay of the land so maybe I can see if we should veer off in a direction. I’m also looking for humans, someone who might speak Common.
LIAM: And, are there stores, are there businesses? Are these all non-descript buildings, or does it all just look like the same shit? Or is it--
MATT: They are varying, but there's nothing here that looks like a welcoming shopfront. The structures are varied, but any of the signs or any of the scrollings that you see chiseled into the stonework and metal is not a language--
LIAM: So, it’s like a hellish financial district, there’s just nothing there.
MATT: Loosely, yeah. It looks like Detroit on Halloween.
TRAVIS: Love you, Detroit.
TALIESIN: It’s been a while.
MATT: Yeah, man. Devil’s Night, it’s great.
MATT: So, you follow. As Doty’s (stomping) behind Tary, staying as close to the middle of all of you guys and shielding himself between your various bodies. You continue to follow Percival as you step through, paying attention. Go ahead and make an investigation check.
LAURA: I’m going to keep an eye out for anybody that seems like they’re noticing us too much, anything.
LIAM: Yeah, same.
LAURA: Of course.
TRAVIS: Natural snitch.
TALIESIN: Yes, of course.
MARISHA: Natural snitch!
MATT: You are--
TALIESIN: -- a problem.
MATT: You are a problem.
TALIESIN: I may have to-- I’m aware that there’s a lifespan on this die, that I may eventually need to put it away.
LIAM: We are in hell. If it’s going to come out anywhere--
TRAVIS: If you roll one more natural 20, it’s just going to dissolve into gold dust and float away.
MATT: It’s okay. One of these days, your contract will come to me.
TALIESIN: I’m well aware.
LIAM: If you lift up Taliesin’s mohawk, you can see the little tiny, little points. Little horns.
MATT: Or the maze. You walk for the next ten or so minutes. Two things you notice, looking for patterns and elements of the city around. There does seem to be a general direction of, not individuals as such, but a lot of these fleshy masses, which you’ve read about in the book, they’re referred to as lemures. They are fallen damned souls that have been tortured into this specific form that are the lowest base level of devil that exists here.
MARISHA: Just a fleshy mass, Liam.
LIAM: I want to go to bed.
MATT: But, a lot of them seem to be going in this certain direction. It’s difficult to maintain focus on the direction of the tower if you have to avert your eyes. However, if you’re looking in a particular direction, it doesn’t follow your direction wherever you move, it’s whenever you have to look away and change your perspective on the horizon, that’s when it appears elsewhere. So, you assert yourself in a direction and maintain that way. After about ten, 15 minutes, there’s no discernable gaining of distance on the tower.
LIAM: Oh, for fuck’s sake.
TALIESIN: In that case, I’m going to find a lemure and inquire sternly of directions.
MATT: As you’re walking, you see there are three of them currently that are chained together with two of these weird black, jagged spiked collar and midsection bands that are jammed into their sides and they’re all joined and the hooks and the chains are screwed into the side of the building. They do not appear to be currently attended at the moment. And, as you approach one is there like (gurgling).
MATT: (pained gurgling)
MATT: (pained gurgling)
LIAM: That is fucking disgusting.
MATT: There is no language. It looks like it can’t really communicate.
LAURA: Oh god.
LAURA: That’s really sad.
MARISHA: It kind of is.
TALIESIN: Well, that’s depressing. All right. What building are they currently chained to?
MATT: It's about a three-story tall, long tower. It’s long on one side and then half the size on the other, and it juts up like a monolith that comes from these two hooks at the top. There's no signs or particular language on its exterior, but there does appear to be a doorway, a big, black metal iron doorway that is closed maybe a foot to the left of them. You're--
LAURA: Does it look like people are coming in and out of that building?
MATT: If you wait a moment, you can find out.
LAURA: Maybe we can post up and see, or just walk on in.
TALIESIN: I wouldn't recommend walking on in.
LIAM: We're walking and nothing's changing. Do we want to stay put for a while and see what happens?
LAURA: Well, our surroundings are changing, we're just not--
MATT: (crashing noise) At this point, the door shifts open with a slam, there's a burst of phosphorous-type clouded fume that drifts out from the interior as, curling down, looming from the inside, another one of those large, lanky, skeletal-looking devils with the giant scorpion tail lurches out, and sees all of you clustered over, and begins to rush up quickly and grabs the side of where the hook is jammed into the wall and just breaks it out with its bare strength, and yanks the lemures closer. (speaks Infernal) You see its jaw almost seems to disconnect and unhinge for a moment as it gets impossibly long and its tongue (slurping noise) and begins to just walk away from you guys down the road, dragging these lemures behind it from the chains.
LAURA: As soon as he opened the door, I wanted to get a look inside of where he came out.
MATT: Perception check.
LAURA: It was almost a 20, but it was a 25.
MATT: 25? You get a very brief glance on the inside. Very dark, red light seems to slightly light the interior. It looks almost like a shelf of some kind. That's as much of a view as you got. It was just some sort of a shelf, bit of furniture in the side there.
LIAM: Hotis, where the fuck are you?
LAURA: Where's a fucking place we can have a stupid feast?
MARISHA: If we can get to a safe, quiet place, I can do a Locate Creature spell and see if I find him. I can also scry on him, but I need to--
LAURA: You need something--
MARISHA: Something not in this back alley of a street.
LIAM: Did that devil who just left leave the door wide open, or did it shut it?
MATT: No, the door slammed open and as it walked towards you guys, slammed it shut behind it.
TALIESIN: Which way did the creature go?
MATT: Loosely the same direction as where you were walking for the tower.
LAURA and TALIESIN: Keep walking in that direction--
TALIESIN: See if we can gently catch up, just to the vague periphery, so if I can see them, then great, and if not, oh well.
MATT: Are you following this group? Is that what's going on?
TALIESIN: (indecisive noise) From a gentle long distance, and not with great intent.
MARISHA: Was he talking to the lemures, or to us?
MATT: Talking to you guys.
MARISHA: To back the fuck off? Okay.
MATT: You were clustered around, apparently, his charge or--
MARISHA: His, yeah, his people. "Back the fuck off from my people", yeah.
TALIESIN: That was a chain devil?
MATT: No, this was a bone devil.
TALIESIN: That was a bone devil? All right.
MATT: I can show you what that looks like.
TRAVIS: Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!
MARISHA: This means I could theoretically turn into him now that I've met them, right?
MATT: Technically, yeah.
TALIESIN: That won't go poorly.
TRAVIS: Get. The fuck. Out of my nightmares.
TALIESIN: (Minnesotan accent) "Hello, we're from outta town, y'know?"
LAURA, MARISHA and TALIESIN: (Minnesotan accent) "Oh, don't ya know?"
MARISHA: (Minnesotan accent) "Yo, I got my Polaroid with me."
MATT: (Minnesotan accent) "Oh, hello."
ALL: "Oh, hello."
TRAVIS: And we all fall out.
TALIESIN: And we all die. Too much Fargo lately.
MATT: As you tail this from a distance, go ahead and make a stealth check, Percival.
TALIESIN: Well, that's-- 15.
TALIESIN: I'm not-- (indecisive noise) Keeping my distance.
MARISHA: He's D-Rollin'.
LAURA: They see me-- no.
MARISHA: I love Laura bailing so fast.
MATT: As you guys are following Percival's lead along the roads here, the heat is starting to really crawl under your armor-- those of you who are wearing it, you're fine, Grog. You watch as the lemures are dragged off into an alley to the right.
TALIESIN: If they go to an alley, then I'm not going to go down an alley. I'm going to walk by and maybe look down the alley from across the street, but I'm not-- I'm trying to stay on main roads.
MATT: You make a large arc around and glance over. You can see them being pulled down the alleyway, and then to the left around the corner.
TALIESIN: No-- That feels like a trap to me. That feels like the sort of thing I would do if I wanted to shank someone in an alley.
LIAM: I've done that, actually, that's true.
TALIESIN: I knew you had.
LAURA: Do I see any buildings that look like people are coming in and out raucously?
MATT: Not yet, no.
LIAM: What if we walked for a while and looked back. Let's give it ten minutes, and then we'll figure something out.
TALIESIN: We'll take a left at the next main thoroughfare.
LAURA: He's going to keep out for anybody watching us.
MATT: Perception check.
LAURA: While I'm looking for buildings.
MATT: Okay. You do hear the occasional screech in the air, as you see these winged entities in the distance just (screeching). As they just dive through and around the top of the city.
MARISHA: Do we recognise what they are? Are they wyverns? What are they?
MATT: No, there's a humanoid aspect to their bodies but they're just beyond the general red glow of the city to make out their details.
MARISHA: I'm going to try and start focusing on that for the next walk. When one gets down close, I want to see if I can see what it is?
MATT: Okay. Some of them look to be imps. Armored imps. These tiny little things that dive through. Some appear to be larger. Some have long tails that draw behind them, their giant leathery wings, and they just glide through. You get a glance at one that seems to have a human torso and legs that are hanging at its sides as it swoops through, like a sentinel just watching over the city. A lot seem to be doing arcs to and from the tower as you watch these patterns--
LAURA: I could fly up in the air and see if I can spot a market.
MARISHA: I could Beast Shape into something that's natural--
LIAM: That's better.
TALIESIN: Is it?
LIAM: Better? Well, I don't like anybody going up.
MATT: Ten minutes' travel, Percival, by the way? Still not anywhere near closer to the tower.
MARISHA: Weird thought: what if we try to walk away from the tower?
TALIESIN: There is no walking away from the tower.
LIAM: This is stupid. What if I think about being in front of the tower?
MATT: Do you just think about it?
LIAM: Yeah. That's it.
MATT: Okay, so you walk towards the tower, but thinking about being there. So you guys keep walking for a bit. You get about two blocks before you see the next major road turns to the right, and there you can see, this road you've been on, which seemed sparse as far as the denizens of the City of Dis-- As soon as this big roadway opens to the right of you, the buildings seem to grow larger and taller, and they seem to almost twist and collide the higher they get. They're all constructed from metal and iron, but there's almost an organic, natural curvature at times that seems warped, causing a few to almost seem to collide and jut into each other at their peak. Many of them have these big, black metal chains that dangle from the outside, and giant, evil-looking hooks mounted onto the front of the buildings, some of which currently hold lemures that sit there and writhe on it, like a punishment for something they did. In the roads themselves, a lot of them have pikes jutting up, and it looks like sections of the road cracked open, and there are natural rock spikes and formations that have protruded out from the ancient construct of the city. But people just walk around them as they go. And you do see more people down this way. You see more of those devil-like creatures, you see a few tieflings in the distance. You see a few humans. You see a few fair-skinned folk wandering through. You see that same bone devil that earlier you saw emerge from the side alleyway about two blocks up, still clutching those three other lemures behind it by chain. It walks up to another bone devil that seems to be sitting off to the side, and is in the process of scratching the side of its horrible, bony chin and jaw. It comes up to it, and they both speak and snarl. You cannot read their lips, because they don't really have lips, and you don't know Infernal. But they both almost become a unit, and walking side-by-side head further down that path, with the three chained lemures behind them. Glancing over, you do see, as you've been focusing on the ground and around you, look up, and the tower has shifted position down to the end of that roadway. You thinking of it--
LAURA: Was that what did it?
MATT: No. It's still the same distance it ever has been. In the process of losing its sight from your peripheral, due to other buildings closing off your vision-- As soon as you lose sight of it entirely and reassess where your vision is on the horizon, there the tower is once more.
LIAM: Does it always feel like it's dead ahead of us, all the time?
LAURA: No, it's always off to the side, right?
MATT: It changes. As soon as you become aware of the horizon, it becomes oriented wherever that awareness is.
LAURA: How about I watch any of the people, the humanoids, or anything like that, that are together-- Can I see them talking, does it look like any of them are speaking Common, if I'm trying to read their lips--
MATT: They're quite a ways away from you. You're not able to make out any detail.
LAURA: I'll walk in the direction, just get in the area that they're in, so that I can try to read their lips.
MARISHA: Once again, I want to keep an eye out, because I had a shitty perception check, for any birds, bats, beasts that I see flying?
MATT: No birds, no bats, no beasts. There isn't a whole lot of indigenous wildlife within the Hells, it seems. Or at least nothing that would be considered a beast.
MATT: Even the insect you saw earlier, or the insect-like creature, it had twisted, fiendish qualities to it on a very micro scale.
LIAM: That was an ambassador.
MARISHA: It probably was! That's the thing, it probably was!
LIAM: I'm going to trail my sister by like ten feet and watch her back.
MATT: You're moving closer to get a view of lip-reading. What's everyone else doing?
TRAVIS: Is the ground as hot as the walls are?
MATT: It is. Even as you're walking, you've grown somewhat accustomed to the uncomfortable heat that your boots are currently mustering. Thankfully, you guys are wearing footwear designed to endure environmental hazards, or magical footwear, for some of you. But you imagine if you were to stand still for too long in one place, it would probably end up damaging any sort of regular footwear worn.
TRAVIS: Jesus. It's like a parking lot in Texas.
TALIESIN: Venice in August. Beach, not--
TRAVIS: Is there anything about the humans in particular? Are they wearing anything unusual, or do they have any company with them that might denote why they're allowed to roam about?
MATT: The two that you see ahead of you, a man and a woman, the man has stark white hair that is almost wet, and brushed very tight to the back of the skull, with a series of black and red markings or tattoos, or some sort of scar, that goes across one side of his face. A very, very thick nose piercing that connects to a chain that links to the back of his ear and is wearing layered, black leather armor. The woman, who is currently conversing with him on the other side, has long black hair with a shock of white that curls to the front. Her skin is a deep reddish brown, tan color, and her armor is a dull gray, like a cloth-patterned armor? But she seems to have at her side a very wicked-looking scimitar that is hanging at her belt, and she rests her arm on it, casually. You look just past them, and you can see they have two sacks resting on the ground as they're having this conversation, and a cage.
MATT: The cage is not empty, there is something inside, but you’re not quite close enough to make out any details. You can just see there is a cage and some shape inside. You make a perception check.
LAURA: That’s cocked. (deep voice) 27.
MATT: I will say make a stealth check as well. This is to both get close enough to witness their conversation but not be noticed as overtly trying to--
LAURA: That was bad.
MATT: You saddle up and instinctually go to lean on the wall. And go (winces). This is not conducive to your usual casual tactics. But you pay attention and you catch bits and pieces of their conversation. They’re arguing about price. They are both talking about how much it’s worth. Is it even worth bringing it here? We’ve come this far. We already have the offer. Might as well go through with it. One of them talks about how they hate the Fetters.
LAURA: The Fetters?
MATT: The Fetters.
TRAVIS: (whispers) I bet it’s one of those little dudes we had.
MATT: Then one of them goes, let’s get going, this place makes me feel uncomfortable.
LAURA: I still can’t see what they have in the cage?
MATT: You can glance just barely past and you can see what looks to be some sort of a humanoid. Naked. You can’t make out much more detail. You can’t tell if it’s male or female. It appears to be medium- to light-skinned. You can’t get much detail beyond that from this distance, unfortunately.
MARISHA: How big is this cage?
MATT: It’s maybe four foot by three foot. A little smaller, actually. It would be more like three foot by two foot, because it looks pretty cramped.
LAURA: I’m going to walk up to them. Before they walk away.
MATT: As they both start turning to walk, one of them--
LAURA: I’m going to be casual as I do it. I just walk up.
MATT: You can see there is a couple of chains fixed to the front of this cage and there is a handle of some kind that the guy lifts. There are small wheels you can now see that are fixed onto the cage that you can now see as it rolls--
LAURA: I don’t even look at the cage at all, like I don’t give a shit about it. And I walk up and I say--
MATT: The woman immediately turns and sees you, and her hand moves from resting on the pommel of the blade to grasping the handle.
LAURA: Oh! Are you with me?
LIAM: Ten feet behind you.
LAURA: I signal at you to come over. I don’t want to look like I’m talking to the people, yet. I’m just walking in their direction, and I lean over to my brother and say, God I hate this place, don’t you?
LIAM: Yep. Pretty much.
LAURA: (exhales) It’s so hot. I wish we were back home.
LIAM: Everything fucking looks the same.
LIAM: Nondescript bullshit.
LAURA: I make eye contact with the woman as I say it.
MATT: Make a subtle deception check. They are intensely paranoid, it seems.
LAURA: 30-- no, 20-- 21.
MATT: She stands there, and keeps watching you. The guy who was pulling the cage stops, turns around and looks. You can see the chain swing and dangle for a second before coming to a stop as he glances back, his eyes iris-less. Just dark pupils with white around them. And he just-- not a snarl, just a very intense stare, he doesn’t seem to be put at ease, but he’s definitely paying attention.
LAURA: Can I help you?
MATT: “I’m sorry, what?”
LAURA: You were staring at me, darling.
MATT: “You, unless I’m mistaken, approached our space.”
LAURA: Oh, you had claimed it. Sorry. Everything is claimed.
MATT: She turns around, and gives him the expression of, fucking shove off, and he takes the chain, and begins to tug it and they both walk away.
LAURA: That didn’t go as well as I planned. (laughs) I just want to find a fucking tavern!
MATT: You just let them walk away?
LAURA: Yeah, but as they walk away I want to look at the fucking cage and really get a good look at what they had.
MATT: Glancing inside, you're not sure how old or how young, but there is a definitely beaten, wounded young man. Between the streaks of blood and visible gashes and lash marks, the skin seems pretty vibrant and clean. This is a creature that was taken here. This person was taken here against their interest and is being dragged in a direction.
LAURA: All right, before they walk off I go, oi! You made a deal for that one yet?
MATT: They turn back and look at you. "Yeah."
LAURA: Where do you go? I have something I'd like to sell as well.
MATT: "We don't share our clients." And they both just keep walking back in the direction they were going.
LAURA: It's not working. I'm trying so hard.
MARISHA: You're doing great. It was amazing.
LIAM: Hey, man.
LAURA: (whispers) Oh god!
LIAM: What about-- I want to get off the street. I'm tired of walking. We've been walking all--
MATT: He's about 20 feet from you.
LIAM: We've been walking all day.
MATT: He's not even turning around. They are just walking away.
LIAM: Are you whispering that to me?
LAURA: Yes, I am whispering to you. It didn't work. We find other people.
TRAVIS: I am currently spitting on the ground and watching it evaporate.
MATT: And it does. It's like (psh).
LAURA: I mean, do I see a tavern around here? It seems like a busy sort of street.
MATT: (laughs) You can keep walking and looking for some sort of a tavern.
TALIESIN: Are there any other people around? I'm going to give a roll.
MATT: Sure, I mean, there are people, those are the only two humans that you had seen in the vicinity. Again, you saw--
MATT: -- you saw a handful of tieflings a little even further down the road and you see a few humanoid-like devils that are just covered in barbs and spines that seem to walk in spurts, like they'll step, step, and then dash a few steps and then stop and then glance around nervously and then continue forward. Roughly human-sized, maybe a little smaller.
MARISHA: Is everyone here afraid that they're going to be murdered at any corner?
TALIESIN: No, obviously they don't trust us. Let's try this proper. I'm going to start walking and see if I can make eye contact with anything.
MARISHA: You're going to try to make eye contact with these people?
MATT: Are you guys following them or are you staying back with your party?
TALIESIN: Well, I am walking in their direction anyway--
MATT: You guys have caught up to them now and Percival is apparently walking forward so--
LAURA: Percy, where are you going?
TALIESIN: Just trying to--
MARISHA: Did you notice no one here makes eye contact with you? It's really weird.
TALIESIN: Well, they did.
LAURA: I follow in the general direction of those people that walked off.
TALIESIN: Yeah. I'm going to head toward the tieflings as well. Which I think is the same direction anyway, so.
MATT: Yeah. As you are following from a distance these two humans, the two tieflings that were conversing split off. One walks across the way and vanishes into an alley. The other one joins, not the humans, but seems to be walking in the same direction if maybe about 20 or so feet ahead of them.
MARISHA: As we walk a little bit, I just want to covertly heat up my hands, light them up a little bit and then touch the wall to see if it burns me as well a little bit. Just graze my fingers along it.
MATT: The flames that you create from your hand are magically produced and insulated from your body because you are the source their magic by the blessing of the emberstone that you struck. It does not unfortunately protect you from the searing heat from the building as you reach out. (sizzle) You immediately take four points of fire damage.
MARISHA: Even though my mantle of the tempest, I ignore extreme heat?
MATT: You do ignore extreme heat from a general air, like being on a desert. It doesn't prevent you from touching a fire and burning your hands.
MARISHA: It's what I was curious about.
LIAM: Stove. Stove. Stove! Stove! Ahh!
MARISHA: S'good, s'good. It feels good. It feels good. Stove cat.
TALIESIN: Stove cat.
MATT: Some of the rolling clouds, you hear a distant clap of thunder roll through the vicinity as the occasional flashes of bluish-white and green ash clouds on top of you.
LIAM: Those humans have both gone outside?
MATT: No, they’re still in sight, you guys are slowly following from a distance.
LAURA: You said they split off? They split away from each other?
MATT: The humans kept going. The tieflings that he was following, there were two of them that were loosely stepping in, they split off. One vanished into an alley, the other began walking in the same direction.
LIAM: Do we talk to this guy? Because I’m about to. We’re fucking dicking around, here.
TALIESIN: I’m just going to ask somebody where to find a pub or an inn. Not trying to be coy. Not trying to be interesting.
LIAM: We can’t pretend shit here. Let’s just go talk to them.
MARISHA: Wait, are we interesting?
TALIESIN: Yes, we are interesting.
MATT: You watch as three different flying imp-like creatures suddenly dart off the nearby buildings and dart past you, and you watch as the two humans stop and drag themselves off to the side. The tiefling that was walking not far ahead of them takes a few steps back and waits patiently. As you watch, stepping through one of the adjacent roadways, about three or four small devils that have these barbed spines that stick out of their body in all directions come walking through, carrying these little spears.
LAURA: We step off to the side.
TALIESIN: I push everybody to the side and down.
MATT: As a procession behind them you see a familiar creature. You see a massive, rippling red-muscled pit fiend come stepping through.
MARISHA: Oh no!
LAURA: Not the one! Not that one!
MARISHA: It’s not the same one?
TRAVIS: He said a familiar creature.
MATT: And the creature is familiar. You’re not--
LAURA: It doesn’t mean it’s *the* pit fiend.
MATT: But you see it begins lurching through the street, strolling like it’s walking with purpose to whatever business destination it has. But it has an entourage around it of lesser demons that are all clearing the street as it walks. You see the respect that a creature of this strength has even within the center of this sphere of hell. Behind it, you see a very large orb, about ten feet in diameter. It’s a glistening, golden glass and on the inside, it seems to have what look to be almost a hundred different screaming faces pressed against it from the inside that are merging and swirling. As it’s being pulled by these lesser demons behind it, the pit fiend’s just walking like it’s the middle of its work day. As it crosses the path, the demons and the cart continue past out of view, and eventually the various entities walking the street before pick up their pace and continue on like nothing happened.
TALIESIN: I kind of like it here.
MARISHA: I subtly, as he goes by, study and examine what he looks like, the pit fiend.
MATT: It’s very similar in size and shape, design, musculature as the one you battled in the City of Brass. There are a couple of pretty quick-to-pick-out marks and changes in the bony crest and horns on its head, and the coloration on its wings go to a dark, deep purple as opposed to the bright, vibrant red of the last one. So, it is a different entity than the one you battled. You continue walking and you’re starting to notice, as you follow these people forward, that the further you walk in this path, and already the sides of the alleys and street corners and such were pretty littered with broken refuse pushed into the corners, but the further you step into this, the more and more destitute and filthy the city seems to become. You begin to see more and more lesser demons just sitting off to the side, just lazily looking around for some sort of impulse to kick in, and grab something that’s dangling from the bottom of whatever food chain exists here. You see more lemures that are in the process of being grabbed and fought over, that have just dwindled over time, like their fleshy, tortured soul mass has been abused and slowly disintegrated and has been left to be fought over by whatever exists in this area. The buildings themselves begin becoming less these large monolithic towers of black iron and more resembling sagging, stone-like swamp structures that have a blackish-purple moss that seems to seep from the side; the air almost becomes more humid with the heat as you pass through. The streets are becoming far more dense. You are seeing more humanoids of different races, you're seeing more of the lesser devils coalescing in these center spaces, and you do see what appears to be some semblance of what you would call a devilish tavern. There is no music, there is no lively chatter, but you do see what looks to be chairs, you look to see what seems to be a common area where some entities are sitting and partaking in food of some kind.
MARISHA: As we move through the streets, I just want to trail behind Vax and take a look at if anyone's reacting to him unusually, or taking notice of him.
MATT: Okay. Make a perception check
MARISHA: Don't fuck me, Gil. Okay, yeah, 24.
MARISHA: It's all right, it's all right.
MATT: As you're keeping an eye out, the gleaming bright albino tiefling does seem to, at least, have caught the eye of a handful of humanoid-- it looks like humans, you see they're trailing behind you by a good hundred or so feet--
MARISHA: They are following us?
MATT: -- but they appear to be following you. One appears to be a-- it looks dwarvish in how stout it is, but it's hard to tell at this distance, and the humanoid creature to the right of it is human-sized, but it is wrapped in a wreath of dark chains that seem to cover most features, the face and the torso. You can see bits of skin and muscle peeking through, but it's just an entire robe of very tightly-wound chains, just massed around its torso and legs and arms.
LAURA: Ugh, this is like Hellraiser!
TALIESIN: I was having a Hellraiser moment.
LIAM: Perfectly healthy, perfectly normal.
MARISHA: Does he seem to be following slightly behind, and stuff, of the dwarvish-maybe-creature?
MATT: They're staying in step with each other, but you--
LAURA: Oh, it's a buddy movie!
MARISHA: Yeah, buddy cop?
LIAM: It's like Fox and the Hound.
MATT: But they're both very directly fixed and have been for a little while, on the white tiefling that has just walked by.
LIAM: How far is this tavern from us?
MATT: When you notice it at this point, as you're walking actually forward, it's about 30 feet off.
MARISHA: I come over the comms and I say, hey, Vaxy-poo, I think we're being followed, I kind of feel like they can smell you.
LIAM: Me specifically?
LAURA: Well, you are quite lovely, brother. Into the tavern? It's up ahead.
TALIESIN: Into the tavern.
MARISHA: Keep an eye out, it's like a kind of stout, maybe dwarvish man and a humanoid creature covered in chains.
LAURA: I glance back and see them.
LIAM: Thank you for the heads-up, I'm going to go in.
LAURA: Yeah. I stand outside the tavern with Grog and wait for everybody to get inside.
TALIESIN: I go stepping inside the tavern.
MARISHA: I slip inside as well.
MATT: Okay, as you guys, and Taryon follows suit. "Ah, Doty, do whatever he does." He points to Grog. Doty steps next to you.
LIAM: What a setup.
MATT: As you guys enter, the the low-burning, orangish-red glow of the interior shows you a slab slate floor. Across you see tables that are carved from similar deep obsidian bedrock-type material. The edges of them almost hook upward, and within the inside, you can see a handful of these similar spined devils, that you've seen as part of that procession earlier with the pit fiend, are sitting and ravenously feasting on some nondescript purplish-red meat. You can see the tables, actually, are almost like troughs, and the center of it seems to be almost a funnel, where all the blood and gore that is--
LAURA: Ohh-- (shuddering noise)
MATT: -- sent out from the viscera that slurps past their toothy maw, is gathered and then siphoned down below.
LIAM: Out of curiosity, these spined devils look like the thing we fought under Krieg's house. Was that Krieg's house? It was, wasn't it?
LAURA: Oh, yeah yeah yeah.
LIAM: With the succubus.
LAURA: Should we-- I just walk up. I'm just going to ask for a room, and just go up.
MATT: I can show pictures of all these creatures, it's great!
TALIESIN: I'm going to stay downstairs to see if they try and come in.
LIAM: Is there a bar here?
TRAVIS: We’re still outside.
MATT: There is the ones that are currently feasting at the one table there.
LAURA: Oh my god.
LIAM: Is there the hellish equivalent of a bar here?
MATT: You glance-- that's one table there; there's another table where you can see what looks to be a deep-red-skinned, very handsome-looking man who has black hair that fades to a very faint grey at the tips; it's long and goes past the shoulders. He has horns that protrude up the front, he's-- the rest of his body is swathed in dark black and grey cloak, and you can see wings folded against his back, and he just sits there, clutching a goblet at the table, usually staring into it as he occasionally sips, lost in his own thought. Beyond that, in the corner, you do see sitting--
MARISHA: Me at 1 AM.
MATT: A rather rotund-- He's a greasy, obese-looking fella who's been-- he has a big and matted, brown beard. His hair has this curl and he has a whole series of scratch marks across his face that just-- long, deep-set scars that leave this very marred visage, and he grins this toothy grin as you enter. You can see he's just-- his chest hair that's exposed under his white tunic, and his leather apron that he has over the front of that. It's just a very, very disturbing grin when he smiles at you as you enter, and he sits up from his stool and walks over and puts his hands down, and as it puts its hands down, you can see them begin to burn his skin but you can now see these calloused fingers-- you can see he's been here for quite some time and has had his own way of adjusting to the atmosphere, and just leans in, (speaks Infernal).
MATT: "Ah, you aren't from around here. (laughs)"
TALIESIN: Certainly not.
MARISHA: Ermahgerd. Ermahgerd?
MATT: As you say that, the devilish entity that was sitting at the table slowly turns its head over towards her--
MATT: -- and has now taken an interest in this group that has entered--
MATT: -- sipping his wine.
MARISHA: I look back at him and I light up my fingers and I give him the flaming finger guns. Super douchey.
MATT: He gives a nod.
MARISHA: Over-exaggerated nod.
TRAVIS: He's literally eating raw meat and blood.
LAURA: No more, Keyleth. No more eye contact.
MATT: Well, he just has a goblet, but you don't know what's in it.
LAURA: Do you have rooms available?
MATT: "We can provide space, yes."
TALIESIN: We're here on a few days' business and we were hoping to find a friendly place to rest our heads on occasion, maybe take in a meal of something not necessarily--
TALIESIN: Too conscious?
MARISHA: Too conscious? (laughs)
MATT: He leans in and goes, "I can provide that, don't worry. How're you paying?"
TALIESIN: Will coin suffice?
MATT: "I suppose."
TALIESIN: If we get anything more exciting, we'll be sure to let you know. We just got here.
MATT: "One room," and he puts up a thick, meaty finger that you can see has-- it's been broken in two places and not healed right.
TALIESIN: Oh god, stop it, Matt! Ugh.
MATT: "Three rooms, and a special meal for the lot. 250 gold."
MARISHA: Wow, wow, vacation destination right here.
TALIESIN: I'm totally okay with that.
LIAM: Yeah, it's airport prices.
TALIESIN: I'm totally okay with that.
TRAVIS: Let's be honest, it doesn't really matter what we think about that price.
TALIESIN: You, sir, is that 250 a night or 250 total for our stay?
MATT: He gives you all a really dark look. "We'll say for the stay. A few days, you said, right?"
TALIESIN: For that, 350 I think. I feel that I want you to know just how grateful we are. I'll put the extra 100 out of my personal bin.
MATT: You can see he's looking at you as you're saying this, and he's contemplating. You can see there's that urge to jack it up. But he keeps glancing past you occasionally and just nods and accepts it.
MARISHA: Do I notice this?
LAURA: As he's talking, I turn around and lean against the table that he's talking over and see who he's looking at.
TRAVIS: Does that burn you?
MATT: You take five points of fire damage.
LAURA: Well yeah, but I'm going to act totally calm about it.
MATT: You glance, watching his eyeline and you can see that same dark red-skinned devilish-looking man who was paying attention to you all is currently meeting his gaze directly and gives him a nod.
MARISHA: Oh, no no no! This ain't no Hostel situation! Aw, hell no.
LAURA: I think he might be the owner.
MARISHA: That makes sense-- but still, still, no. No, we're not going to go in here to be sold in the middle of the night.
TALIESIN: We're good, we're good.
MARISHA: Are we cool?
TALIESIN: I think we're cool. Just let it play out.
LAURA: Can we insight check the guy we're talking to?
MATT: Sure, go for it.
LAURA: Okay. Sure, why not! Here we go. Yeah, yeah that's good. 17.
MATT: 17? I mean, he's hard to read, but he seems to be a pretty fucking creepy guy who's giving you rooms to stay in, and seems to be making eye contact and his reactions based on some sort of unspoken conversation with this other entity in the room with you. But he reaches down without breaking eye contact with the rest of you as well and puts a set of three keys onto the table. They're all these ragged-looking black iron constructs that are identical in some ways but their handcrafted visual style shows that they have different slight changes to their designs. Kind of shoves them forward towards you. "Premium." And he reaches down. You hear the clanking of some sort of glass-like instruments and he pulls up these small, almost dull gray-looking sponge-like stones that are about that large. Kind of puts one out in front of each of you. Takes the coins. (sighs) Goes and walks back--
LAURA: Wait, before he walks away. How long have you owned this space?
MATT: "Oh, I don't own it. I just work here."
LAURA: Who runs it, then?
MATT: "Why you asking so many questions, girl?"
LAURA: I'm curious, big man. That's all.
MATT: Make a persuasion check.
LAURA: (squeaking noises) 18.
LIAM: She said with confidence.
MATT: "That's on a need-to-know basis, sweetheart. Enjoy your meal." He goes and like sweatily waddles over to his chair in the corner and sits down.
MARISHA: Is this rock tartare? Oh my god. We used to serve this all the time in the Air Ashari. It was a delicacy in the Earth Ashari.
MATT: As you lift it and bring it towards you, it seems to have this very, very faint energy around it.
MARISHA: Oh, I don't know if is this rock crudite.
LAURA: Let's get up to the rooms. I want Tary to identify it once we get up to the rooms.
MARISHA: I kind of do like a--
LAURA: Don't, don't. Not yet, Keyleth.
MATT: Keyleth, as you tap it and bring it towards your mouth, you guys watch as it glows with a faint pale yellow-green color and, Keyleth, you hear this faint soft, wailing sound as this slight drift of soul energy drifts off of the stone and is inhaled by Keyleth.
TRAVIS: Oh! (laughs)
MATT: Keyleth, you feel a sudden rush--
TRAVIS: Of course!
MATT: An unexpected rush of energy. Your vision clarifies--
LIAM: Give it to Keyleth, she'll try anything!
LAURA: You ate a soul, Keyleth?!
TALIESIN: That had a name! That had a life, that had a mortgage.
LAURA: Oh my god!
TALIESIN: He made some bad decisions, and now you're eating it--
MATT: A sudden rush of energy--
MARISHA: It's so Keyleth, yeah. Oh shit.
TALIESIN: I'm so proud of you.
MATT: You feel very awake. Your senses clarify and like a boundless surge of energy in your body, like you could do anything.
MARISHA: (exhales) Do we-- are we resting right now? Let's go right now.
LAURA: Let's go up to the room.
LIAM: You okay over there?
MARISHA: This is like the best rock tartare I think I've ever experienced.
MATT: Tary, by the way, goes--
LAURA: No, no, Tary!
MATT: Like sucking hard on the stone. And you watch as the hairs on the back of his neck stand and he goes, "Good sir. How much are each of these?"
TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah.
LIAM: I'm quietly thinking about Scanlan, watching this happen.
MATT: The guy sits forward and goes, "For you? 30 gold apiece."
MATT: Tary goes, "I'll take 20."
MARISHA: Buy the lot, Tary! Buy the lot! Good man! And I like Beastman shake him. Yeah!
LIAM: Are you okay?
MARISHA: I'm great! I feel great.
LAURA: Let's go upstairs.
TRAVIS: We got one left, let's take it upstairs.
LAURA: No, we've got one for each of us.
TRAVIS: He said three of them.
TALIESIN: Three rooms.
MATT: So Sam, mark 600 gold and wherever you are, Sam, mark down 20 soul stone slivers.
LIAM: Welcome to Hollywood.
MARISHA: They're soul stone slivers?
MARISHA: That's what they're fucking called? That's some-- man. You need to put a disclaimer on those.
LIAM: Let's get to the rooms, shall we?
TALIESIN: This is everything I wanted. Yeah, let's go to the rooms.
MATT: All right. You guys make your way up to the chambers, and to your surprise, the interior of these rooms are fairly well furnished. While the entrance chamber seemed to be pretty brutal, the chambers that you were given-- they aren't next to each other. They're a little scattered as far as the rooms. Only maybe ten or so rooms in the whole establishment. But each room has a very well-crafted bed. There appear to be some well-made chairs of a similar stone material of the downstairs setup there, all having this weird, jagged stylings to their construct. The chamber's still hot as fuck, and it is an uncomfortable interior, but the bed itself does not appear to be bursting into flames. The material here is seemingly resistant to the heat in which it's in the proximity of.
LIAM: No, it's just a bed in New York City in July.
LAURA: I open up the bag of colding and just like put my face next to it.
TALIESIN: Don't fall in.
LAURA: No, I just want to breathe in the cold.
TALIESIN: Don't lick it, either.
LAURA: Wait, should we all go to one room, then?
LAURA: And I want to look all around the room and see if anybody's watching, if there's any kind of holes in the wall.
LIAM: Yeah, is there any kind of bugs or any--bugs.
MATT: Make an investigation check.
TALIESIN: Bugs or bugs. I cast black light.
MARISHA: Bugs and bugs and bugs and bugs-- I cast black light!
MATT: Cool. So as you guys take a good ten minutes or so. As you're looking over the room, everyone's Alter Selves except for Keyleth's fade.
LAURA: Yeah, we were close there.
MATT: You guys were very close. But you glance around the room and it seems safe. You don't see any sort of signs of any spying.
MARISHA: Tary. You look like yourself again.
MATT: "Oh, I'm about to feel a lot more like myself here in a second." And he starts going through the--
LAURA: Not yet. Just hold on one second. Maybe I'd cast Identify on those, just before you eat another one.
TRAVIS: Oh yeah.
MATT: "Oh, right!"
MARISHA: Tary. Tary. There are beds. And Keyleth goes and jumps up on a bed, and just starts jumping on them a little.
MATT: Tary goes like-- leans into you and goes like, "Is she hitting on me?"
MARISHA: As Keyleth jumps in the bed on the background.
LIAM: It’s hard to tell sometimes. Just go with it. Don’t make any sudden movements, and let her get it out of her system.
MATT: “Right, right.”
MARISHA: Mattresses are springy here!
LIAM: What’s the D&D equivalent of a glowstick?
MATT: It'd be a Sunrod.
TALIESIN: That's actually true.
MATT: That is actually true. (laughs)
TALIESIN: I'm going to gently pop her in the ankle to see if I can get her to just fall onto the bed and stop hopping.
MATT: (falling and slamming noise) Percy just knocks you onto your ass.
LAURA: Okay, Keyleth, okay.
MATT: By the way, the buzz, if you will, the rush slowly begins to fade over the next minute or so. Taryon finishes his Identification and goes, "Huh. Apparently these are receptacles to contain a fragment of refined soul."
MATT: "Yeah, these were once living people. I'm going to be sick."
LIAM: I start giving Keyleth--
LAURA: (laughs) You just ate a person! You just ate people.
MATT: "I know. I kn-- (nervous noises)"
MARISHA: I go with Taryon to puke.
LIAM: Ooh, never mind. I was going to give her a scalp massage, but ugh.
TALIESIN: So does the Identification spell actually tell you the name of the person that you were consuming?
MATT: "Nope! And I'm glad! I don't want to-- I didn't-- I don't-- I'm sure they were a terrible person. If they're here they're probably a terrible person. They're probably terrible people, right?!"
TRAVIS: How many souls did you just buy?
MATT: "I don't know!"
LAURA: (gasps) Well, it was fragments, so maybe it's only like five souls, completely?
MATT: "Maybe? I don't know the logistics."
TRAVIS: Like a whole family.
LIAM: I mean, you were really up, though, when you were, you know, full there.
LAURA: But does it heal you? What do the fragments do? I mean do the soul fragments just like--
MARISHA: Yeah, what happened? What happened when that happened?
LAURA: -- do you just feel better, are you healed or are you just not hungry anymore?
MATT: Sustained. I mean, as far you understand, and from what you experienced there, any sort of hunger pains that would have existed there seem to have been staved off, and there is a--
TALIESIN: (laughs) It's literally Soylent.
MARISHA: That's really messed up, because now I'm hungry.
MARISHA: It's very hollow sustenance, I'm really hungry now.
LAURA: Well, we're about to have a Heroes' Feast.
MARISHA: Oh boy.
TRAVIS: Back to the plan.
LAURA: Back to the plan.
MARISHA: Oh god, my throat's a little tight.
TALIESIN: Scry. You're going to be fine after you scry.
LAURA: Okay, scry. Let's scry on Hotis.
TRAVIS: And then the Feast?
TALIESIN: I'm going to give her a shot of something, just to calm down.
MARISHA: Yeah, can you give me like, a minute?
TALIESIN: Going to give her a shot of something. Got to go back for more, soon.
LIAM: Pours a soul in.
TALIESIN: (laughs) Certainly spirits at the very least. Soul and spirits. I shouldn't be finding this as funny as I am.
LIAM: Oh, it's very in-character.
MARISHA: Keyleth paces back and forth for about five minutes, and then goes, okay, I'm good.
LAURA: Let it settle.
MARISHA: I'm great. Okay.
LAURA: Grog, do you want to keep leaning against the door, maybe? I'm just afraid-- I feel really uncomfortable in here. Are there windows in the room at all?
TRAVIS: Can I touch the door with my pointy finger real quick?
MATT: Yes, you do.
TRAVIS: Is it burny?
MATT: It is.
LAURA: Maybe Doty can lean against the door? Stand in front of the--
LIAM: Hey yeah, Tarytown, can you have Dotes lean on the door?
MATT: Which, by the way, as Grog does that, Doty goes-- into the door, and Taryon's like, "Oh, Doty, you can stop doing that, but do lean against the door."
LAURA: Does he take fire damage?
MATT: Doesn't appear to be affecting him.
MATT: Though, over the next minute or so, you see parts of the back of his armor begin to glow a dull red to match the coloration of the edges of the buildings.
LAURA: Oh shit, that's kind of cool.
MARISHA: That's pretty cool, yeah.
LAURA: Don't touch Doty!
MATT: It's my favourite board game.
ALL: Don't. Touch. Doty!
MATT: Waiting for it.
LIAM: Seems like a Catholic school game.
MATT: All right, so, what are you doing?
TRAVIS: Oh my god.
LAURA: Oh no. We're going to scry on Hotis.
MARISHA: We're going to scry on Hotis. I'm going to scry, using my 5th-level spell, not the Scrying Eye because I want to use my spell ability, and it's going to be awesome, and I'm not going to be hiding from a soul that I accidentally consumed.
LIAM: No, you're going to be bottoming out.
MATT: Okay, hold on just a second.
LIAM: Just need another soul, man.
MARISHA: Let's add to Keyleth's guilt a little bit more.
LAURA: It's okay, it was already dead, Keyleth. Or maybe it was like the soul gems.
TRAVIS: Yep, that thing was still alive.
MARISHA: Don't say any of that. I've got to focus.
LAURA: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm kidding, kidding, I'm totally kidding.
LIAM: Here-- I'm sure it was somebody who murdered children, you know? It was probably a major arsehole.
LAURA: Yeah, it was probably a really bad person, and now they're inside of you.
MARISHA: You know, not something else I'd want right now, no. None of these things.
MATT: What level spell is the scry?
MATT: Fifth? As soon as you cast the spell and center your vision on the idea of Hotis, the spell immediately fizzles and dissipates.
LIAM: Son of a--
MARISHA: Son of a-- god--
MATT: And you begin to remember, through your research of the rakshasa, up to a certain level of spells, 6th-level spells, they're immune to it.
MARISHA: Damn it to the Nine-- or Second Layer of Hell. All right.
LAURA: So, cast it at a higher level.
MARISHA: So, I’m going to try again.
LAURA: At what level?
MARISHA: I’m going to-- we’re in for the night, yeah?
LAURA: We can be.
LIAM: That’s the plan. That’s the intention.
MARISHA: We’re going to eat a Heroes’ Feast.
LIAM: All topped off at the moment, so whatever you do, we’ll make up.
LAURA: Do we know if the Nine Hells have day and night the same way--
TRAVIS: I’m not topped off; I need four hit points.
LIAM: I touch Grog’s shoulder and I give him four hit points.
MATT: And, just like that--
TRAVIS: Thank you.
MATT: Yeah, a little bit.
LAURA: Does this place have day and night the same way?
MARISHA: We’ll be eating a Heroes’ Feast, correct?
LAURA: Yeah, but are we going to scry first?
LAURA: Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah yeah!
MARISHA: Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah! I’m going to do an 8th-level Scry.
MATT: An 8th-level Scrying?
MARISHA: On Hotis.
LAURA: Eat it, Hotis!
MARISHA and TALIESIN: Show me what you got!
LAURA: Eat that scry!
TRAVIS: He’s rolling.
LAURA: Oh god, he is.
MATT: This time, you grit your teeth. The spaces are already prepared for the first ritual you did.
MARISHA: I also give it a good ten minutes, let him get distracted and forget that he, maybe, just got scryed on.
MATT: Okay! You close your eyes, and this time, remembering both the original conflicts with him in the Quad Roads, the battle, which you recall was at the base of a statue of Dispater, the archdevil of this sphere of Hell.
MARISHA: Oh fuck, no.
MATT: Way back when. You remember him falling off the top of the balcony with Vax--
LIAM: Good times.
LAURA: And then being stabbed by Scanlan.
MATT: -- and using these memories, you focus on the essence of Hotis. Your vision suddenly pulls out of the top of this chamber that you’re in, to a brief glance, just a flash over the horizon of the city, and there you see the ominous dark tower, for but a moment. Then there’s a flash as your vision is pulled further into this cityscape of darkened, withering alleys, and the whole atmosphere as the core of this space that you guys are heading towards seems to be disheveled, ruined, destitute, and filthy. Your vision is dragged in that direction, to ground level, then below, and is brought, suddenly thrust into chambers, dark, bars, iron doors, a prison. A prison beneath the streets of the city. There’s another flash. You see devils, dozens of them, walking guards, some larger than others. You see a flash of large, red leathery wings. You see something horned and dark, grinning beyond a metal door, and then beyond that door, there’s another flash, and on the inside, you see tendrils of red flesh extending from the ceilings and the walls, all merging to a center small core. There you see this fleshy egg-like structure, about this large, that is suspended by these strands of muscle-y sinew, and there you see writhing and twisting within the membrane of this, a small, misshapen humanoid cat-like creature that is currently writhing on the inside. You can hear the faint squealing and screaming--
LAURA: (high-pitched) Rakshasa!
MATT: -- in pain as Hotis, not yet fully formed, slowly torturing its way back to its full physical form. It is just screaming with hatred, awaiting the moments of vengeance once the torturous pain that currently consumes its existence fades and it can once more plot its return to the Prime Material Plane.
MARISHA: But it was in a prison underground, under the tower?
LIAM: In a Faberge egg.
MATT: Underneath this portion of the city, or a little ways ahead.
TALIESIN: Suspended by octopi.
MARISHA: Holy fuck!
TALIESIN: This is going to go great!
MARISHA: Holy shit!
LAURA: Anything else? Anything else? Anything else? Did you see anything else?
MATT: That’s all you see. You just saw flashes just leading into this. You have no idea exactly where it is. All you saw were flashes of a prison under the city, and Hotis still incubating in this chamber.
TRAVIS: We’ve got to get arrested.
LAURA: Or become police officers.
LIAM: Yeah! Police Academy, that’s the thing the do!
TRAVIS: Keyleth will get arrested, no problem.
MARISHA: Yeah, that’s true. Just tell me to go do something in public. That’s all you need. All right. So, I’m remembering, it seems like Hotis might serve the devil of this realm, the leader, the president, as you have said a few times, Grog.
MARISHA: Mm-hm, Dispator. Seems like he serves him, and is in a prison. You know what's fun, I feel like a lot of the things we were looking for this whole time are all underground. It's like an underground city. Man, this is terrifying.
TALIESIN: What if that means it's just as hot underground?
MARISHA: (exhales) Well, the good news is, once we find Hotis, it'd be super easy. The bad news is, finding Hotis? Super hard.
LIAM: Gotta find out-- I assume she's-- you've filled us all in on what you saw.
MARISHA: Yeah, I'm assuming I translated.
TALIESIN: So all we have to do is teleport through that tree that's underground. We can send him a small bonsai tree, as a gift.
MARISHA: (gasps) Oh my god, oh my god!
LAURA: Yeah yeah yeah, then as soon as he wakes up--
LIAM: We have to find the prison--
TALIESIN: We have to find the prison, find out what it is, who runs it--
LIAM: And then get in, get arrested, get--
TALIESIN: Infiltrate, perhaps. Call a favor.
MARISHA: I have a weird feeling that this prison is run by Dis-- Lord Dispater himself.
LIAM: James Spader.
MARISHA: James Spader.
TRAVIS: Wait, you said it wasn't fully formed, right? It's still, like, in its goo phase?
MARISHA: It is.
TRAVIS: Am I the only one that feels like this is an awful lot of trouble for something that's not a problem yet?
TALIESIN: The trouble is, once it becomes a problem, it continues to be a problem until you cut it off at the root.
LAURA: He only stops when you kill him down here.
LIAM: Right, Grog, it's two different sets of problems. Here, he's a wee, wee bab in a chocolate egg, but getting to him is difficult. If we wait, then he gets the jump on us when we're sleeping in our beds.
TRAVIS: Not in a chocolate egg?
LIAM: Not in a chocolate egg. Then he looks like a guy in a mascot suit at a Winter's Crest fair.
LAURA: Or like Gilmore.
MARISHA: Or like Keyleth.
TALIESIN: Or like Pike.
LAURA: Oh, I can't even imagine Hotis disguised as Pike.
MARISHA: I know, what a dick move that would be.
LIAM: So, it's now or later, it's just a different set of problems, and now we know what we're doing at least.
TALIESIN: I may-- well, I'm tempted to head downstairs to have a drink, start scoping out and see who might know what's what about that prison.
LIAM: I mean, we know fucking nobody in this city.
LIAM: And they all look like garbage, so why don't we just start with the garbage downstairs?
TRAVIS: Small question: we checked in as-- you checked in as tieflings.
LAURA: Yeah. We have to re-alter ourselves before we go downstairs.
TRAVIS: For bursts of an hour, each time?
TALIESIN: Or we could just not talk about it and see if anyone actually notices, just see if anyone's going to be rude about it.
TRAVIS: There's only a few rooms in this place, right?
MARISHA: They keep a fairly close eye on their patrons.
TRAVIS: I would think so-- ol' broken sausage finger may be sharper than we think.
MARISHA: Hmm, I have a feeling there are more eyes on us here than we even realise.
LAURA: Oh, I'm sure.
TRAVIS: Hey, I'm really hungry, can we have that fucking Feast now?
MARISHA: Yeah, and I make a Heroes' Feast.
MATT: All righty. You guys go ahead and muster the Heroes' Feast.
LAURA: I mark off 1,000 gold.
LIAM: Extra hit points, no fear.
LIAM: Lustrous hair.
TALIESIN: Shiny fingernails.
LIAM: Shiny fingernails. Feel like you ate a soul.
LAURA: Does that mean all of our heal-- our points are healed, or are we just--
MATT: Well, if you guys take a full rest, you will.
LAURA: Oh. Oh, that's the question I wanted to ask you: did we know if here, night and day is the same?
MATT: You don't know that.
LAURA: No, that wasn't in any of his books?
MATT: Make an intelligence check, actually.
TALIESIN: That's 12.
MATT: You really have no idea. I mean, there are beds, there are places to stay, and from what you can tell, there are-- there is traffic from creatures that travel from different planes, probably require sleep. So, whether or not there is a day-night cycle based on any sort of improbable sun, there probably are expected day-sleep cycles for creatures that need to sleep.
TRAVIS: They pump oxygen in, you can stay up as late as you want.
MATT: Yeah, it's fine.
MARISHA: No windows.
MATT: So Keyleth, roll 2d10.
MARISHA: All right.
TALIESIN: I'm so excited.
TRAVIS: Come on, now.
MARISHA: Big money, no whammies! That's an eight for one, and the other, not as good. Ten total.
MATT: Okay, so everyone gets a bonus of ten-- that's an average, I guess. Close to average. So, ten maximum hit point increase to everybody for the next 24 hours.
MARISHA: I also, at the end of dinner say, I would like to raise a toast. To Vox Machina: for going and being together all the way into hell and back.
LAURA: Well, fingers crossed.
LIAM: Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
TRAVIS: We might not come back.
MARISHA: Well, all the way to Hell and--
TALIESIN: To hell!
MATT: "Thanks to the wonderful guidance of the Voice of the Tempest!"
TRAVIS: (sighs) Oh Tary.
MARISHA: Oh jeez.
MATT: "Keyleth of the Air Ashari and-- keep writing this down-- and to the majesty and the heroic and adventurous drive--"
MATT: "Of Taryon Darrington!"
MARISHA: Of Tary-- Everybody, to Taryon Darrington!
MATT: "To me!"
MARISHA: And with that, I do Inspiring Leader, my newest feat since I'm a leader.
TALIESIN: What voice is this?
TALIESIN: This is your "Leader" voice.
MARISHA: This is why I'm a voice actor. And--
MATT: So you cheer and talk for about ten minutes.
MARISHA: Yes, cheers to Taryon Darrington and his glistening armor and his flowing locks of golden hair. And I continue for ten minutes about Taryon Darrington.
MARISHA: And his glistening boots of shining upkeep. And his--
TRAVIS: He's losing hit points from this.
LAURA: I want to throw up.
MATT: And the whole time Doty's--
MARISHA: Writing it all down. And then I give temporary hit points equal to my level, which is 17, plus my charisma modifier, which is nothing. So you get an extra 17 on that ten.
MATT: That's temporary, though.
LAURA: Why are we inspired by hearing you talk all that shit about Tary?
LIAM: Because it's in the spellbook.
LAURA: I don't feel inspired.
MARISHA: Well, because I would hope that with my, you know, Tary's golden locks of flowing hair and with my very impressive cape that I got, you know, for touring the world. Like a frequent flyer card.
MATT: We'll say for the purposes of this, Taryon got 17 temporary hit points.
MARISHA: What?! No! You know what, Vax, I'm still, I'm still practicing.
LAURA: It's getting there. You know what? Next time share the compliments, make all of us feel cool.
LIAM: And all this while, Vax has been staring at Taryon and imagining him with exactly half a beard.
MATT: While Taryon notices you staring intently and she's giving this inspiring speech about how amazing he is-- Taryon looks over at you and goes, "She's hitting on me."
MARISHA: With his belt that is bejeweled and his very bedazzled pauldrons and his--
LAURA: So over this part.
MARISHA: Very, very manicured cuticles. And I don't know what else to say for ten minutes about Tary.
TRAVIS: Are we staying in? For the, for a bit?
TALIESIN: On the plus side, we're all very tired now.
LIAM: What else is there to say about Taryon Darrington?
MARISHA: Don't ask me. Please don't ask me.
MATT: What are you guys doing? Are you resting?
LAURA: I don't know. Should we? Rest? I don't even know what time it is here.
MATT: You don't.
LAURA: It could be like early morning and we could rest and then wake up in the middle of the night.
TRAVIS: We've only been traveling for like a few hours, right?
LAURA: But it could be a completely different time here!
MATT: Yeah. But it's more about your internal clock, whatever you want to do.
TALIESIN: It took us quite a while to find this place.
MARISHA: I've also expended my 6th, 7th and 8th-level spells
MATT: It took an hour, a little over an hour since your arrival. Since you guys did your transformations.
LIAM: Yeah. We went to bed, got up, and then-- what was that?
LAURA: Oh, that was a burp. I forgot we were filming. (laughs)
MATT: Yeah. You've had maybe three hours, four hours since waking up in the morning.
LIAM: It's like noon in our internal clock, probably.
LAURA: I feel like we should just fucking try to do something.
TRAVIS: Yeah, so if we've got to find our way to some sort of prison, two options. Get arrested. Or ask people where people go who get arrested, which seems really fishy and stupid.
MARISHA: It seemed like it was underground, almost spanning this entire city. We could possibly try and find a back entrance. I don't know.
LIAM: We need to talk to somebody. Just talk to somebody. We can walk around for another two hours and wait until somebody gets the heebie-jeebies from us and fucks us up. Or we can talk to somebody. I'm going to talk to somebody.
LAURA: Well, there's the owner downstairs, the creepy guy.
LIAM: I've already left the room.
LAURA: Oh, Jesus.
TALIESIN: I follow him.
LAURA: I follow. Wait! We're not altered!
MARISHA: No, you're not.
TALIESIN: No. He already went down.
MARISHA: You want to come back-- Vax, Vax, Vax, Vax!
MARISHA: You're not altered! You're not altered! Hey! Hey!
LIAM: I do a quick U-turn.
TALIESIN: All right, we grab him, drag him back in.
LAURA: Oh god.
MATT: At which, as Tary goes, "All right, Doty. Let him through," as you leave, Doty kind of moves away from the door and lets you by. As he bends forward with kind of the taut gesture of bowing as you pass by, you see his entire back is glowing bright red.
LAURA: Tary, can he heat up to the point that he doesn't work any more?
MATT: "I hope not. Probably not. I'm going to say not."
LAURA: You made him, after all. You would know.
MATT: "Right. It's fine." He looks over to Percival. "Right? He's going to be fine?"
TALIESIN: Maybe flip? Flip sides, just keep flipping the sides.
MATT: "Right! All right, Doty: chest against the wall." And Doty just kind of pancakes against the door a second time.
TRAVIS: I wish I had some bacon right now.
LAURA: Can you Alter Self again, on us?
MATT: Let's see, I'm going to check the character sheet that I got sent.
LIAM: Good god, he can do anything.
LAURA: If we're screwed, we might have to be us.
TALIESIN: We might have to.
MATT: Well, he can cast Alter Self, he goes, "I can technically do it one more time."
LAURA: But you'll be out of other things you can do?
MATT: "I will be out of all my things. Of the big things. I mean, I still can--" He kind of jostles a satchel he has on the side, you hear a bunch of glass and things clinking. He says, "I still have my accoutrements. But as far my devices to help you guys out, I'm kind of spent at that point. But--"
TRAVIS: You know, I still look the way I did when I checked in. Looking like me going to go and do all the recon.
MARISHA: I can do Alter Self at will, I'm just not the best person to talk to people.
MATT: "Why don't we let the two of them go?"
TALIESIN: (inhales nervously)
LAURA: Oh god.
MARISHA: Are you? Is that Grog and Keyleth?
MARISHA: Grog and Keyleth. Haven't done it for a while. Grog and Minxie. (laughs nervously)
TRAVIS: What? You and I, me and the tiger?
MARISHA: Yeah, I'm not saying I'd be a tiger. I'm just hearkening back to our team-up.
TRAVIS: But you said Minxie.
LIAM: Yeah but, I mean, I haven't stepped in lava in a while. Doesn't mean that's something I should right now.
MARISHA: Well, you know, it's what we call a call-back? You know, don't worry about it.
TALIESIN: It's, you know, what's-- No, I don't want to say what's the worst that could happen. What's the best could happen? What's the best outcome here?
LIAM: I feel like with Scanlan gone, our best talker is this one.
TALIESIN: Yes. Probably the two of us, possibly.
TRAVIS: Where are you pointing, over here? I can't see.
TALIESIN: Yes. Grog.
TRAVIS: I've got a head of hair in the way. Where'd you point?
MARISHA: You know, Grog and I can be very intimidating. Right, Grog?
TRAVIS: Yeah, but it's more angry.
LAURA: You know, he might do great here. I haven't been doing so hot.
LIAM: Yeah, but you know, I feel like in so many situations we go: "What happens if I push this button? Let's just see what happens."
LAURA: Let's just send Grog down.
LIAM: But that's not what I'm saying. I'm actually arguing the opposite of that. I'm saying for once, maybe, I mean, you're a very good talker. Why don't we send the person who's good at talking down? Instead of on a lark, sending down, you know, the brute to talk.
LAURA: Yeah, but everything I've tried hasn't worked so far. Maybe they're immune to persuasion down here and maybe all they need is a little (grunts) a little jostle.
LIAM: Maybe you haven't been lucky. Maybe you need to give it another shot. I mean, your average is a little bit better than the Big Man's.
MARISHA: Yeah. We could go back to old-school days and I could always go Minxie. Little intimidation check?
TRAVIS: They're going to want to steal you and put you in a cage.
TALIESIN: I'm perfectly content to just go down there, and if anyone asks we've just changed into something more comfortable.
LAURA: Let's just fucking go.
TALIESIN: Let's go.
LIAM: Both of you! You're both-- he can only do one person.
MARISHA: Yeah. Are going to change into something? Or are you just going to be totally oblivious that you're definitely not the people who walked in upstairs?
TALIESIN: I'm going to be totally okay.
MATT: "I have one capsule."
LAURA: We're going to be okay. He says he's got enough for everyone still.
LIAM: He's only got enough for one.
LAURA: No, he's got enough for all of us.
MATT: "I can do it to one person"
LIAM: One person.
TRAVIS: Yeah, and I go down as just backup.
LAURA: It's up to you, Percy, dear.
MARISHA: And I can do it at will.
LIAM: You go, you go.
TALIESIN: I don't think I-- do you think with the capsule or without. I don't want to
TALIESIN: Fine, with.
MARISHA: Oh, jeez. Someone pick who goes down and talks. I feel like Grog.
LIAM: I just did. Percival, you're going. It's hell, this is your game now.
LAURA: With Grog. You're going with Grog.
LIAM: Sure, as back-up, yes.
MATT: "Be my guest."
MARISHA: Percy and Grog! Go, go, go, go!
MATT: All right so as you take the coin and you kind of focus on it (fwoosh) and your form shifts back into the previous tiefling appearance.
TALIESIN: I grab a soul shard, I suck it down. (sniffs)
LAURA: Have fun storming the castle.
TALIESIN: Oh, let's do this.
TRAVIS: Oh, you did a rail of soul, huh? Okay. Sweet!
LIAM: He just-- (mimics snorting cocaine)
TALIESIN: And we head down.
LAURA: Did he really? Did you take soul?
TRAVIS: He did! He's so causal, he was like, (inhales, then roars)
TALIESIN: (inhales) Let's do this. Sucked it down like an oyster.
MATT: And as the rush hits you, you take a step and pause for a moment, because the rush is strong and familiar. It's similar to the sensation and the rush you had when you took a life with the Pepperbox when Orthax was still holding sway.
TRAVIS: Oh no.
MATT: That same passage of some sort of a soul energy, and as the rush hits, that familiarity itches you on the inside, and you're a little caught off-guard and made uncomfortable by it.
LIAM: Steady as she goes, Percival.
MARISHA: Too much?
TALIESIN: Too much.
MARISHA: Little much?
TALIESIN: Little much.
MARISHA: Little overwhelming?
TALIESIN: Yes, little bit.
TALIESIN: I'm going to be meditating upon that a little bit later. Let's head downstairs.
LAURA: Come back, please.
LIAM: I place my hands on Grog's shoulder and Percival's shoulder and cast Bless as they walk out the door.
MATT: Okay. You guys head out, into the hallway.
LAURA: I smack both their asses.
MATT: (smack noise)
LIAM: You dive in front of me to do that?
MATT: (laughs) And Taryon goes, (inhales deeply). (laughs) He gets weirdly uncomfortable. All right, so, you guys head back downstairs. The two devils that were there feasting earlier appear to have left, and the room is mostly quiet and empty now, except for the same rough-looking bartender in the corner and there, at the same table, is the red-skinned, devilish, handsome gentleman. As you walk down, you see what appears to be a small impish creature that's on his shoulder, and he's currently conversing with it quietly, and then as you guys step down, he (waving noise) to it, and it flies up, and skitters off into the distance outside of the door. Turns to you, reaches over and takes bottle off the table and fills the goblet.
TRAVIS: What comes out of the bottle?
MATT: It appears to be some deep red liquid.
LIAM: It's merlot.
LAURA: Oh. Yum.
MATT: He's watching you, but he's not expecting any interface.
TALIESIN: I walk over. (clears throat) Could I possibly entertain you with some company?
MATT: "It would-- it would be a change of pace that is quite welcome. Take a seat, both of you."
MATT: The seats, as they-- they're heavy and they're not quite as-- they're heated at the base, they're warm to the touch, but they're not burning you. You both pull them up and they grind against the slate stone floor of the interior as you plop down and sit. "Shall I also fetch you a drink?"
TALIESIN: That sounds lovely. What is actually available at this hour at this establishment?
MATT: "Available at the establishment, not this kind of drink. My personal reserve, that I can offer."
TALIESIN: I would be curious, I would hate to be indebted to you at this point, but I would be very curious to try whatever it is that you consider to be your personal stash.
MATT: "I would prefer you indebted to me."
MATT: And he lifts a finger and the gentleman at the far edge of the bar stirs, "(grunts) Oh, right. (heaves)" and Chris Farleys his pants a bit.
MATT: Comes over with two similar goblets and places them on the table, and steps back to the corner. The gentleman takes the bottle and fills them both, kind of finishing the last bit he had in Grog's chalice, and sets it to the side.
TALIESIN: What may I call you?
MATT: "You may call me Ipkesh. What may I call you?"
TALIESIN: Ah, Freddie will do for now.
MATT: "Freddie and Greg?" (laughs) God damn it!
TALIESIN: Broke the DM, ten points. Boom!
TALIESIN: Fuck souls, that's a rush.
LIAM: Two points for Gryffindor.
MARISHA: Oh man, buddy cop, go!
MATT: "So what brings you to my fine establishment?"
TRAVIS: What does the chalice smell like?
MATT: Smells like a strong, alcoholic wine of some kind.
TRAVIS: I take a big old sip.
MATT: It's good. It's very good. You're not a big fan of wine, generally, because you're more of a liquor and ale person, but as far as the wines you've had, it's pretty good.
LIAM: Your pancreas melts.
TRAVIS: This, I'm sure you know, is really good.
MATT: "It better be. So, what is your business?"
TALIESIN: Honestly, cards on the table, we're in town because a friend of ours got in badly with a rakshasa.
MATT: "(chuckles) This is not an unfamiliar tale."
TALIESIN: We figured not, and we're definitely out of place, a bit out of sorts, and definitely out of our depths, but thank you for the rooms. I assume this is your establishment, is it not?
MATT: "I run it at the-- how do I say? A partnership with my betters."
TALIESIN: I think I understand. Take another sip. Ah, well, regardless of betters or otherwise, I'm grateful for the sanctuary. All of us are. So we, I assume, are not the first people you've met coming into town, looking for a rakshasa?
MATT: "I have not met them, but stories do swirl, and find my ears. It does all of us well here to know what's going on."
TALIESIN: Well, I will admit, we have some questions.
MATT: "Well, perhaps I have some answers."
TALIESIN: We've heard of a-- would you call it a prison? An underground series of cells, beneath the tower? Beneath the tower, beneath the city. That's where we think we might find our boy.
MATT: "There is a prison here, yes. I know it well."
TALIESIN: You know it well, I would hope not from personal experience?
MATT: "Oh, no, no. It imprisons many things, but-- I would be blunt with you as well. We live here under the interest of business, yes?"
TALIESIN: I understand.
MATT: "Information is a resource."
TALIESIN: A very, very great one. There is a prison, underground, people go there. Perhaps this is an easy question to ask that will flow freely, what is this? Why do people get sent to that prison?
MATT: "What do you have to offer for my information?"
TALIESIN: What are you in the market for? I have dull things, but I get the distinct impression you're not necessarily somebody who's going to be interested in coin?
MATT: "I prefer not to dole out small tidbits. I prefer to bundle in larger packages."
TALIESIN: I understand. How do I know that what you have is worthwhile?
MATT: "I can--"
TALIESIN: I have a proposal.
MATT: "Hm, tempt me."
TALIESIN: Obviously we're interested in the prison. We're interested in somehow getting into the prison, or possibly getting our problem out of the prison. I'm not saying that we're looking for some sort of grand mastermind or otherwise, but if you feel that you're the sort of person that would have enough information in this direction of how one might get access to the prison or otherwise, and get out with their skin intact-- at least most of it-- or the sorts of people who would be interested in helping such an adventure go forward, that would be worth our while and interesting.
MATT: Brings up a hand and snaps his finger. As it does, the entire room around both of you goes dark. Jet black. You still see the table before you, the drinks in your hand, the gentleman across the way, but everything else around you just goes complete, lightless, umbra expanse.
TRAVIS: I had too much of this wine.
TALIESIN: I don’t think I’ve had enough.
MATT: “If we’re to speak freely, it’s best that we speak in a place where it is safe to speak.”
MARISHA: Oh my god. He fucking teleported you guys away somewhere.
MATT: “My cost for my information is high, but I can both give you what you seek and the means of achieving what you want, but I want a favor in trade.”
TALIESIN: And I hope-- If you’re willing, that if we decline your offer, I hope you will take no offense.
MATT: “I will take no offense, but those that listen might.”
TALIESIN: That’s fair.
MATT: “What I’m trying to say is, it behooves you to make this contract. So. What you seek is the Mentiri. The Mentiri is the prison beneath the city. I can tell you more, I can get you there. I can probably even find out who there knows of or is involved with this rakshasa. And this favor I ask will lead you to this path.” He leans forward after taking a big sip of his wine, finishing the last of it, setting it aside with a heavy (poof) on the table. “I work for Utugash, one of the prominent owners and taskmasters involved in moving souls and soul goods throughout this area of Dis. He is slovenly, he is lazy, he is powerful, and he needs to fall.”
TALIESIN: Is he a pit fiend?
MATT: “At one time, maybe. At this time, his laziness has left him a useless sack of demon shit, and I have bent under his fist and brow for far too long. I have friends now in other places, and if his business were to crumble, that void left behind could elevate me and my compatriots.”
TALIESIN: Of course.
MATT: “Now, I have friends in this prison, and the offense of travelers tearing down someone of prominence, and yourselves being still within your very mortal coils, why that’s what this prison is designed for; for those that break the laws of the land but haven’t yet passed. To be ripened. To be kept, until they do, once the corruption has set them for the rest of our factory. So, you slay this creature, I can see that you are safely arrested and placed with allies on the inside that could move you around and bring you fairly close to this rakshasa you seek. That is my offer.”
TALIESIN: This is a fair offer. I will quietly, without naming names of any kind, confer with my compatriots and we will give you a yes or no, without naming names of any kind.
MATT: “Very well.”
TALIESIN: Before we leave, and just as a personal favor. I’ve been touched by a demon before, by a creature. Does it show here? Can you see?
MATT: He gives you a strong look.
TALIESIN: I’m going to pull Hex up on myself.
MATT: At which point, you see his expression change, and he rears back and goes, “It doesn’t show, but the blood ward leaves its scar on many who exist here. Your essence is not of the Abyss, I would not worry. But do be careful in flashing such power.”
TALIESIN: I’m thankful. My last question: this taskmaster of yours, the name you gave me, is it his true name?
MATT: “No. True names, now that is an expensive trade.”
TALIESIN: One would hope. Would have made our job much easier.
MATT: “And mine long ago.”
TALIESIN: Fair. We will meditate upon it.
MATT: “I will say: beware the Whispers, the golden-armored fliers, the watchers of the archdevil himself. His paranoia seeks to know everything that goes on, and should such treachery that we talk of be revealed, well, that would a very unfitting end to me, my compatriots, and every one of your friends.”
TALIESIN: I will not speak your name in public. I will not speak your name in private, to be honest. You’ll just be Our Friend Downstairs for now.
MATT: “Avoid the Whispers.” He snaps again and the sphere of darkness fades, and you’re back in the tavern, unmoved.
TRAVIS: Anybody looking at us strange?
MATT: No. The one person in the room there, the rather bulky fellow in the corner seems to be half-asleep, almost like (sleepy lip smacking).
TALIESIN: We finish our drinks. Keep an eye on the door, see if that strange dwarf-like creature shows up.
MATT: You finish your drinks over the next couple of minutes or so-- it wasn’t a heavy pour. Ipkesh just intensely, with a slight smile, looks you all over as you all quietly assess your positions in the discussion. No sign of that individual you saw earlier.
TALIESIN: All right.
TRAVIS: I’ve made up my mind.
TALIESIN: Well, the rest have to do the--
TRAVIS: No, no, it’s you and me down here.
TALIESIN: No, we’re going up.
TRAVIS: If you want your glasses back, we decide here and now.
TALIESIN: That’s fair. Let’s head upstairs.
TRAVIS: Damn it!
TALIESIN: We head up.
LAURA: How’d it go?
TALIESIN: Well, our friend downstairs says be careful of what you talk about out loud. It’s pretty standard.
TRAVIS: Apparently people are listening to everything.
LAURA: Like in here?
TALIESIN: Probably in here.
TRAVIS: So no names. No specifics.
LAURA: God, it’s good to be so cool.
TALIESIN: Well. It’s pretty typical.
MATT: Doty is writing that. Tary goes, “Don’t-- don’t write that down.”
TRAVIS: How many empty soul stones did she have while we were gone?
LAURA: I’ve had none! This place is just so hot.
LIAM: So, we switch back to Little Elf Boy, Little Elf Girl, Antlers, Greg.
TALIESIN: I definitely would recommend everybody not use their real names. That’s something I should’ve pointed out earlier. Nothing here is using its real name.
LAURA: Did you ask him if you don’t look like a tiefling if people are going to notice?
TALIESIN: I didn’t. But I asked him some other things.
TRAVIS: I don’t think it matters, though.
TALIESIN: I don’t think it matters, either.
LIAM: What did you find out?
TALIESIN: Well, there’s a prison underneath the city.
MARISHA: Yes. Knew that.
TALIESIN: Our friend says he can probably, very likely get us in there and get us close enough to deal with our problem.
LAURA: All right.
TALIESIN: I believe him.
MARISHA: What’s the catch?
TRAVIS: We gotta kill someone.
TALIESIN: It's the typical catch. We have to do him a favor.
TRAVIS: And then get arrested for it.
TALIESIN: Or he'll arrange for us to be arrested.
TRAVIS: I understood that we kill him, then when we go to the prison, he knows people in the prison who would make sure that we find our way to the right places. But that's the shitty part.
LIAM: Who do we kill? The person you just spoke to?
LIAM: Someone else?
TALIESIN: Someone else whose name I will not say out loud for now.
LIAM: Okay. But you know it?
LIAM: All right.
LAURA: All right. How would we do that?
TALIESIN: Well-- How do we ever do anything? (laughs)
MARISHA: And why does he want this certain someone killed? I'm sure it's out of politics?
MARISHA: All right.
LIAM: It's just evil versus evil here.
TALIESIN: Yeah, it's really actually quite convenient that there's no such thing as the right thing to do. It just sort of takes so many things off the table here.
LIAM: Mm. You're not going to throw a rock and hit an innocent person in this city.
TALIESIN: No, the rock is probably the most innocent person that you're going to throw.
LAURA: What if somebody threw a rock and hit us? We're quite innocent.
LIAM: Right-- Right.
TALIESIN: It would be a contract, we would be--
LAURA: Well, Tary is.
MARISHA: A contract?
TALIESIN: Everything here is a contract.
MARISHA: But Tary's exclusive, he can't sign any more contracts!
MATT: "That's true! You told me that."
TALIESIN: He would not be signing the contract.
LAURA: (whispers) Don't say his name!
MARISHA: I mean, Barry! Barry's exclusive.
TALIESIN: Barry Barrington.
MARISHA: (laughs) Barry Barrington!
MATT: "I don't like this at all."
TALIESIN: Chin up, Barry. (laughs)
MARISHA: Barry Barrington-- (laughs)
TALIESIN: (chuckles) It's better than--
MATT: "Don't write that either!"
TALIESIN: -- Perry Paddington.
LIAM: Berenstain Bear.
TALIESIN: Barry Paddington is actually- has got a nice ring to it.
TRAVIS: Well, if we've got your code name, what'll we call you?
TALIESIN and LAURA: Freddie.
TRAVIS: Freddie. Right.
LAURA: I wouldn't know that--
TALIESIN: And Greg.
LIAM: Is that, I mean, that kind of is your name, is that all right?
TALIESIN: It's not really, it's a bit of it. It's off.
TRAVIS: I still like D-Roll, but whatever.
LIAM: D-Roll's good.
TALIESIN: D-Roll's fine, just don't use any real first or last names, nothing you would sign to a piece of parchment.
TRAVIS: Freddie, how do you feel about this plan?
TALIESIN: I feel good about it. I feel like it's a terrible idea.
TRAVIS: Right. But do you have any amendments to it? Would you change it somehow?
TALIESIN: I would just confirm with someone of reason that we're to do this and get arrested for it, or we're to do this and otherwise--
LAURA: Oh my god, how wonderful would it be if Scanlan could just Dimension Door-- Oh, I shouldn't have said his name. Could just Dimension Door down to that thing, to the room, and just slice up the little egg, and then--
TRAVIS: Who's to say where he's going?
LAURA: -- bamf out?
TALIESIN: Well, we can't, can we?
LAURA: Probably not.
LIAM: Also, I'm not trying to prevent us from following this plan, but we were warned not to make any deals with any creature--
MARISHA: We definitely made a deal between ourselves before we came down here: no contracts, no deals.
TALIESIN: I didn't agree to that.
LIAM: So the first thing we do, is--
MARISHA: Make a contract.
TALIESIN: Well, look at where we are, to be fair. I sort of knew we would have to.
MARISHA: But do we need help getting arrested? I'm kind of with Grog! All I have to do is walk out into the square and open my mouth, and then I'll get arrested.
TALIESIN: Do we just want to get arrested? Or do we want to actually end up where we need to be?
TRAVIS: So my thought, right? Is that I think we have to be arrested. Breaking into a prison seems real tough. At least with this guy's plan, if he's lying, the worst we get is just straight-up arrested, which I would assume means all our toys get confiscated, right?
TRAVIS: So, not all of us go on the killing.
MARISHA: A couple of us go and get arrested--
TRAVIS: Yeah. And if he's a man of his word, then those people that are in get led along to this magic place where you can go and smash Chicken Little.
MARISHA: And the rest of us can follow along?
TRAVIS: But if he's a lying piece of shit, like I'm sure everyone else is, we're going to need someone on the outside--
TALIESIN: I get the distinct impression that most people here are painstakingly honest, which is the horrifying thing about a place like this.
TALIESIN: I think that they-- that there's a lot of lying by omission.
LIAM: I have a thing. Might be helpful while we're here.
LAURA: What is it?
LIAM: It's a little vial of oil of etherealness. The oil can cover someone of my size, maybe Scanlan's size, and it lets you--
LAURA: No Scanlan! (laughs) Well, he's not here--
LIAM: Lets you walk through the Ethereal Plane for an hour, so you can sort of bypass where you are.
MARISHA: (whispers) It's like wearing the Ring, the One Ring.
LIAM: Little bit, yeah.
LAURA: Like, you walk through walls?
LIAM: Yeah, I mean, you're walking on a whole parallel--
LIAM: The way it was explained to me, on this piece of paper, is that you are parallel to where you are.
MARISHA: I will say, having--
LIAM: Can't pick anything up, I don't think, can't--
MARISHA: -- having Truesight, if anything has Truesight, like the archdevils--
MARISHA: I'm pretty sure they can see into the Ethereal Plane, with Truesight. But that's only the archdevils who might have it, but it is illusory magic, I'm pretty sure.
MATT: How does it say it on the item?
LIAM: Well, it's the effect of the Etherealness spell, for one hour.
MATT: Oh right and so, for that-- the specifics on that.
LIAM: I was trying to sprinkle fairy dust on it, but let's just go to the rules, shall we?
MATT: Let's see here, 4th-- 8th-level.
MARISHA: 'Cause I think anything with Truesight can see into the Ethereal Plane, I think.
LIAM: This is like Nazgûl KY.
MATT: Kind of. It says: You remain in the Border Ethereal for the duration, or until you use your action to dismiss the spell. During this time, you can move in any direction. You can see and hear the Plane you originated from, but everything there looks gray, so yeah, it's like The One Ring, but you can shift in any direction. You can only--
MARISHA: Is it considered illusory magic?
MATT: No, Transmutation.
MARISHA: It is Transmutation.
MATT: While on the Ethereal Plane, you can only affect and be affected by other creatures in that Plane. Creatures that aren't in the Ethereal Plane can't perceive you, can't interact with you, unless a special ability or magic has given them the ability to do so. You ignore all objects and effects that aren't on the Ethereal Plane, allowing you to move through objects you perceive on the Plane you originated from.
LAURA: God, I really wish we had the stones with us now.
LIAM: Yeah, but it's a-- this is a slow-moving one-way ticket.
LIAM: It's an hour.
LAURA: Yeah, but--
LIAM: So I could use it--
LAURA: I mean, you could find your way down there.
LIAM: Right, or if we get trapped, one of us could lather up and get out. I mean, I don't know what-- we don't really know what we're dealing with yet, but it's just good to know that we have it in our back pocket.
MARISHA: I mean, with Shapechange, I can change down to one of these little weird, eight-winged insects we've seen flying around.
TALIESIN: Imps, imps.
TRAVIS: And do what?
MARISHA: Get in.
LIAM: Then change into something bigger and squish the egg.
TALIESIN: You can't think they won't notice that you're an imp that doesn't belong to anybody?
LAURA: No, not an imp. It's an insect.
MARISHA: The little insects that have we've been seeing flying around that might be little, tiny, very tiny imps, I don't know.
LIAM: I mean, it's not a bad idea. Lot of variables, but it's a pretty good idea.
MATT: Do keep in mind, when you Shapechange, you maintain the hit points of whatever--
MARISHA: Of whatever I change into. So if I get down there and I get caught--
LAURA: You'll bamf into yourself.
MARISHA: I'll bamf into myself. So, the way Shapechange works, is whatever I assume first-- we need to clarify this later, not now, 'cause it's like whatever you had before, is what you have. So do you just have 1 HP the whole time, based on whatever you changed into first?
MATT: Yes. So, if you turn into a dragon with 300 hit points, that's great. The next thing you turn into cannot have more than 300 hit points.
MARISHA: Right, but if it goes down--
MATT: If it gets damaged down to say, ten hit points, and then you turn into a different kind of dragon, that dragon will still have ten hit points.
MATT: Or if you turn into a fly that has one hit point max, and then back into a dragon, it'll be a dragon with--
MARISHA and MATT: -- one hit point.
MATT: You cannot regain hit points by changing forms with the spell.
LAURA: Oh, wow.
MARISHA: But it's whatever I had before. So I can't change into something awesome, then change into something less awesome--
TALIESIN: Crappy, and then back into something awesome.
MARISHA: -- and still have its hit points?
MATT: You can do it, but you'll-- whenever you squeeze through to the tiny hit points, those carry over into the big creature.
LIAM: So you're saying you don't bring your 300 dragon hit points down into the fly body, you switch to-- you switch to fly hit points.
MATT: Unless it's the last resort, or you have a way out, yeah.
TRAVIS: I think we go perform the hit, and then we leave Tary, I mean Barry, to get arrested. Right?
MATT: "Just-- well, no, we're going to do that, all of us, right?"
TRAVIS: Like super-secret spy. No, this is a very privileged role.
TRAVIS: Yep, big-time macho-man stuff.
MATT: "Are you going to get me out of the prison?"
MARISHA: Prison Break-style. It'd be so dramatic.
LAURA: I just don't think we should do that to Barry.
TRAVIS: He's ready for more responsibility, right?
LAURA: I really don't feel like he is.
MATT: "I think she might be right in this instance, but, if we're going together and you guys stay around me. We're a team, right? That's what teams do, we do things as a team! Vox Machina--"
LAURA: Don't say our name. Don't whisper.
MATT: "Grox Dock-in-da-- Stop writing it down, Doty!"
MARISHA: Box Cockina.
TALIESIN: So, do we say yes to this?
LAURA: Oh, dear lord.
LIAM: To doing the hit and then going to prison?
TALIESIN: Well, what else are we going to do?
LIAM: Right, no, I'm not arguing.
TRAVIS: (sings) Don't say no to this.
TALIESIN: I say yes.
TRAVIS: Yeah, me too!
MARISHA: We can also always-- yeah, all right. Wait, what did we just agree to?
LAURA: To killing an archdevil.
TRAVIS and TALIESIN: No.
MARISHA: We're taking this contract?
MATT: Not an archdevil.
LIAM: Wait a second, wait a second. When you peeked into Hotis--
MATT: Killing a greater devil. There's a big difference.
TRAVIS: Archdevil is the Pope of this area.
LIAM: When she peeked-- I'm asking Keyleth, but you might need to come in here with detail. When you peeked in at Hotis, what-- Like, how much security was around him. What was around him?
MATT: Didn't really see.
LIAM: Didn't see. Just saw a Cadbury egg.
MATT: Flashes of interior--
MARISHA: It comes in pulses.
MATT: -- and like (bff) and then all of a sudden--
TRAVIS: Definitely something big with big, red, flashing wings, though.
MARISHA: Yeah. Yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah, yeah.
MARISHA: Archdevil or no. Hard to say.
LAURA: Could be, like, a pit fiend or something.
MARISHA: I'm getting the idea that maybe Hotis serves Dispater? Dis--?
LIAM: Dispater, yeah.
MARISHA: Yeah. Dispater. Yeah, kind of think he serves him, so we're kind of maybe going in to kill one of his literal secret spies. Think it's kind of what's going on.
LIAM: Yeah, that's what we're doing.
LIAM: So, kill the thing, get arrested, possible bug Keyleth. Possible ethereal Keyleth as ways to get in and out. Possibly.
MARISHA: I mean, I can always Beast Shape there, then have Shapechange later. You know, I can do the whole be a flying squirrel in someone's pocket, like we've done before, type of thing.
LIAM: Yeah. I mean, once we kill this thing, which we will, we're diving into the unknown.
TRAVIS: Do we all want to kill the thing?
TALIESIN: Once we kill this thing, we Plane Shift out of here faster than you can say-- Oh, oh, we're--
LIAM: Not Hotis. The contract. To get to Hotis. That's the owner's--
TALIESIN: That, we'll confirm with our friend. That, we'll confirm with our person. And, seem like I don't want to use that term too loosely. We'll see what would be most advantageous for getting what we want out of this situation.
LIAM: All right, so he gets what he wants and then we see if we get what we want.
MARISHA: How easy is it going to be to kill this--
LAURA: It won't be easy! Let's be honest.
MARISHA: -- mysterious person?
LAURA: This is going to suck!
LIAM: Yeah, I mean, we had a fucking nanny who used to tell us nightmare stories about this. It's way worse than she described it.
TALIESIN: Pit fiend-ish.
MARISHA: So, wait, we're expecting two of you to kill something pit fiend-ish level--
TALIESIN: No, all of us.
MARISHA: I-- what? What is happening?
TALIESIN: All of us. We're going to kill this thing--
MARISHA: So we all kill the thing and then two of you get arrested and then the rest of us follow you?
TALIESIN and LIAM: All of us get arrested.
MARISHA: We're all getting arrested now!
LIAM: Yeah, mm-hm.
MATT: "That's much better!"
MARISHA: What happened to like two of us getting arrested?
MATT: "That's much better, I like that plan."
TRAVIS: Explain to me about the contract. So, in the contract, if he doesn't hold up his end of the bargain, like, he explodes or something, right? It's a magic contract?
TALIESIN: It will quite possibly be a magic contract.
LAURA: You're not going to have to sign anything, yeah?
TRAVIS: Because if we get arrested, and they take all our goodies, and we're in a cell, I'm going to kill all of you with my bare hands.
TALIESIN: We're going to ask him this downstairs. I just want to take it to you and see if everyone thinks that we're going this direction. We'll make the most comfortable deal we can, but honestly, I'm very curious if anybody has any better ideas.
MATT: "We've already gone to hell. Let's also go to prison!"
MARISHA: We could try and just straight-up espionage--
TRAVIS: Prison assault.
MARISHA: -- stealth this. Prison assault, and I could do a Locate Creature, and we could just figure out where Hotis is and try and completely, yeah, prison break this. Without signing any contracts.
TALIESIN: Full-frontal assault on a demon prison in the basement of--
MARISHA: I'm not saying full-frontal, I'm saying--
LIAM: Well, walk us through it again. Walk me through it again, one more time.
MARISHA: We're stealthy motherfuckers, right?
TRAVIS: We don't know where the prison is.
MATT: Tary raises his hand slowly, "Doty, put your hand up."
LAURA: These are the least stealthy people I think I've ever seen, and we know Pike.
MATT: "I mean no offense, big guy, but--”
LAURA: He's quiet.
LAURA: He's really quiet.
MATT: "Su-- Nothing at all."
LAURA: His boots are made of fur.
MATT: "I know, they're beautiful. Did you make those?"
LAURA: They're very quiet.
LIAM: But you two, Kerry, are very loud. Is what you're saying.
MATT: "(squeaks) I get nervous."
MARISHA: Barry, is there any way that you can, like, (sighs) condense Doty? Put him in your po-- No?
LIAM: I mean, reality is, two of us are stealthy. Everybody else is mediocre or worse.
MARISHA: I'm really good. Okay? Really good. I know you're talking about you and your sister, but I'm really good, too. Just want to point that out.
MARISHA: Fuck. Off. Percy. Fuck off.
MARISHA: That had nothing to do with stealth. That had straight only to do with dexterity, which is not my strong suit.
TRAVIS: Hey, Beekus, you just said his real name.
MARISHA: (sighs) Freddie. Fuck.
TRAVIS: So, hey, Freddie, like, how long do you think guy downstairs will give us to decide?
TALIESIN: I figure-- Well, if we're going to do this, I think we should do it quickly.
LAURA: Oh my god.
LIAM: Probably listening to us.
MARISHA: No, they're not. I'm getting--
TRAVIS: Not supposed to make any deals. We could just try and do it on our own. The deal might put us in a position where we're totally fucked.
TALIESIN: It might.
TRAVIS: We don't even know where the prison is.
MARISHA: (whispers) But we could find out.
TRAVIS: You think.
LAURA: Can you cast Locate Creature right now?
MARISHA: Yes! Yes, I can!
LAURA: Just cast it and see.
MARISHA: I 100% can!
LIAM and LAURA: Let's do it.
MARISHA: I fucking cast Locate Creature!
LIAM: See, part of our problem is sometimes-- always, we grab the first opportunity in front of our fucking faces, so--
TRAVIS: Isn't that the way life is?
LIAM: Let's explore this opportunity.
TALIESIN: What level are you casting Locate Creature at?
MARISHA: Level? It's a level two-- a level four spell.
TALIESIN: Will that work on him?
MATT: You cannot cast it at a higher level. Well, you can cast it at a higher level, but there's no effect.
MARISHA: It doesn't do anything.
TALIESIN: Okay. I was curious if he has a blind spot or not.
MATT: All right, so, you take a moment, you finish casting Locate Creature. You concentrate once again on Hotis, keeping a very clear image of what you saw in the Scry spell. As you complete the spell--
MATT: -- nothing.
LAURA: Because it's a level fucking four.
TALIESIN: It’s all right.
MATT: Well, the creature has to be within 1000 feet.
MARISHA: And it has to be within-- But it lasts for an hour. It's a concentration spell.
MATT: It is.
TRAVIS: Just take off running around the city, man. Boom! Marathon Woman. Go get it.
MARISHA: I can fly. I can look and fly.
TALIESIN: Turn into an imp.
TRAVIS: (sings) She's a maniac, man-- oh, he's down there!
MARISHA: I could go right now and fly around while it lasts for an hour. Do a quick scout.
TRAVIS: How do you fly?
MARISHA: With fucking Beast Shape by being like a beasty thing.
TRAVIS: Can you do that and concentrate at the same time?
MARISHA: Yeah. That's at-will.
TRAVIS: Yeah, sure off, go on. Fly off by yourself, nobody cares.
LIAM: I'll go with her.
TRAVIS: How do you go?
LAURA: You're not a-- well, it doesn't matter.
LIAM: I'm not what? What am I not?
LAURA: A tiefling anymore.
LIAM: I know. But she's a big fucking bird, I mean--
MARISHA: I don't have to be a big fucking bird--
LAURA: She could be a succubus.
MARISHA: -- I could be literally a tiny fucking bird, or a succubus.
LIAM: All right, do your thing.
MARISHA: If I am a succubus, though, it's burning my 9th-level spell and we're done for the night.
TRAVIS: You get captured or eaten out there, we're done for the night anyway. (laughs)
LIAM: Hell is tearing this team apart.
MARISHA: What were the weird imp things that I saw flying around?
LAURA: Those are the golden armored things
MARISHA: The gold armor imps.
MATT: There are impish creatures with golden armor that you saw at a distance in the sky above.
LAURA: Was there anything else flying other than them?
MATT: There were other creatures flying, but they were too far away to really make up any decent-- and some of them of them were just imps, just the tiny little devils that fly around, and there were some that seemed a little larger with humanoid bodies and giant, leathery wings that were just coasting through.
LIAM: And you said this is like the biggest city we've ever seen?
MARISHA: There are things that fly here?
MATT: There are many things that fly. The first thing you saw when you looked up in the sky was at least a dozen or so winged creatures all up in the clouds.
LAURA: Oh, god.
MARISHA: I can go. Going to the window. Anyone stopping me?
LAURA: There's no window, it's just wall.
MARISHA: There's no windows. Anyone stopping me as I Alter Self and--
TRAVIS: This is your game, go for it.
MARISHA: -- head towards the door? No?
TRAVIS: Do it.
MARISHA: No one? All right, I'm going to go do a quick pass (laughs)
LIAM: Oh, gosh. Be careful.
TRAVIS: Have that backup character ready.
LAURA: She becomes leader of the Ashari and dies as soon as she gets to jell.
TALIESIN: One day.
TRAVIS: Go get it, keep going. Momentum!
MARISHA: All right, all right, all right, all right, all right. I'm going to Shapechange.
MATT: You're casting Shapechange, okay.
MARISHA: Level nine.
MATT: All right, what are you turning into?
MARISHA: I'm going to do a succubus. I know I've got a good look at them and they can fly.
LAURA: Wait, are succubuses devils down here or are they demons?
MARISHA: They're devils.
LIAM: Those are devils, and we saw one under Krieg's house.
MATT: They're fiends.
LAURA: Okay. They're fiends.
MARISHA: And they're kind of rogue agents. I'm hoping no one questions this.
MATT: Okay. So you have succubus.
MARISHA: Shit. Okay. Mm. Just-- quick loop.
TRAVIS: Yeah, ermahgerd--
MARISHA: I, as the tiefling, walk out of the tavern, just very intent on my direction. As I walk out of the building, I take a left, hang down an alleyway, check over my shoulder, make sure no one's watching and then (fwoof) into a succubus and take off.
MATT: Okay, make a stealth check real fast.
TRAVIS and LAURA: Oh god.
MARISHA: Fucking hell.
TALIESIN: Fucking hell is right.
TRAVIS: (sings) Highway to the danger zone.
MARISHA: Just a straight-- oh, that's good, that's good. 20 total. No, no, 21 total.
MARISHA: I forgot my proficiency bonus went up.
MATT: As you exit the building and turn right and into the alleyway, being careful not to be seen in your tiefling form, begin to cast the spell as you see two shadows step into the entranceway of the alleyway.
MARISHA: Nope. I stop it.
MATT: Okay. So you stop it?
MARISHA: Yep, and I just kind of keep walking.
MATT: You just keep walking? Okay. You don't even look back, you just keep walking?
MATT: Okay. Keep walking, and you hear footsteps behind you.
MARISHA: I start blocking around.
MATT: Okay. As you go blocking around, the footsteps seem to be keeping pace with you. There's two sets of them.
MARISHA: Peek over my shoulder. Do I get a glimpse on who they are?
MATT: You see what appears to be a squat, kind of tan-skinned dwarf figure.
MARISHA: It's the dwarf again.
MATT: The features, like you expect to see a dwarf, appears to be a female dwarf of some kind, but there's some sort of physical alteration's taken place. They look like they've been either very injured and healed wrong, or some sort of corruption has taken place. But it's walking forward with this hobbling gait, and to the left you see the other entity that is just wrapped in chains, and they're about 30 feet behind you.
MARISHA: 30 feet behind me?
MATT: About 30 feet behind you, yeah.
MARISHA: Are we alone?
MATT: It's just you and the two of them right now. Just in this small alleyway off in the building that's immediately adjacent to the structure where you're staying.
MARISHA: I'm still, I imagine, within range of the tavern?
MARISHA: Just gonna say, I'm being followed so be on alert. Same dwarven chainy figure.
LAURA: Should we come out?
LIAM: Do you need us out there?
MARISHA: No, just wait a second, I'll say Jenga if need be.
MARISHA: I stop, about-face, and light up my hands and keep the hood up. And just say, I know you're there. What do you want, and who are you? Keep the hood up.
MATT: Head's down. The footsteps slow when they get about 20 feet from you. And they stop. You keep your head down. The dwarf figure brings one weird, swollen, twisted arm in front of the other, crosses it. The chained figure, you hear all the jangling, shifting, and as you get a better glance over your shoulder towards it, you can see the chains that dangle don't just dangle, they're all kind of slowly shifting and spinning around, like hundreds of small snakes that are just readjusting and moving across the body. You can see its eyes, part of its nose through as the chains pull across and hide most of its features. The skin itself a deep, deep pinkish-red, like a normal body that's been constricted so much that all the blood has rushed to the surface.
MARISHA: Off-the-cuff, do they seem familiar? Any idea on who they might be?
MATT: No. But there is a heavy breathing from the female dwarf figure that just-- they glance at each other.
MARISHA: I say, do you want to tell me? You want to tell me who you are? 'Cause I don't have a lot of time to deal with this.
MATT: The chained one says, "You seem to walk with a white one."
MARISHA: Who's asking?
MATT: "I am asking."
MARISHA: 'I' could be referred to many people, including myself. So I am asking--
MATT: "Silence. You will bring us the white one, or you will be tribute yourself."
MARISHA: What do you want with him?
MATT: There's no response.
MARISHA: I don't think you'd want me as tribute, so you'd best bet tell me what you want with him, because maybe we could strike a deal.
MATT: "The white one caught the attention of a creature that I wish to see pleased."
MARISHA: Well, is this creature willing to make a deal? Because the white one belongs to me.
MATT: "You have ownership of the white one?"
MARISHA: Of course.
MATT: Make a deception check.
LIAM: It's not really lying.
MARISHA: (laughs) It's not really a-- Not great. Six total.
MARISHA: It's not entirely wrong, though.
MATT: "Hm." You hear the chains intensify with the rattling and clanking. "Perhaps you should walk with us."
MARISHA: Where are we going?
MATT: "To the one who wishes to now know of your ownership."
MARISHA: And if I decline?
MATT: "Then you will no longer be able to stop us."
MARISHA: I'm sorry, I still didn't catch your name.
MATT: "You do not need our name."
And that's where we're going to leave tonight's episode.
MARISHA: Oh, what?!
TALIESIN: Yeah! I love Hells, man.
MATT: It's 11AM, or 11PM, and that's a fun place to pick up next week.
LAURA: Oh my gosh. (Minnesotan accent) Oh no!
TALIESIN: (Minnesotan accent) Oh no.
TRAVIS: I could be many people, it could all f-- Silence!
TALIESIN: Or that, okay.
MARISHA: It’s kind of a pejorative, you know. Do we need to know like-- what kind of "I"? Is this this royal "I"?
TRAVIS: It's royal "we".
MARISHA: The royal "we"?
MATT: Shapechange, how you force me into bringing even more minis to the game every week.
MATT: Just in case.
TRAVIS: Multiple bags.
TALIESIN: We can leave them here now.
MATT: I'm doing that.
MARISHA: I didn't burn the spell, right? I stopped it, I didn't burn the spell, I stopped it. Right? Because I was like "Cancel cancel cancel", come on, man.
TALIESIN: My vibe is it didn't burn.
MARISHA: I thought it didn't burn either.
MATT: I will say, just for the sake of this, for the sake of-- this roll will determine this. Roll-- what's your passive perception actually?
MARISHA: My passive perception?
MARISHA: Pretty good.
TALIESIN: You've got to do something about that. That's becoming a problem.
MARISHA: Shut up.
LAURA: Shut up. (laughs)
MATT: 21? I'll say you cancelled it, you did manage to just catch their movement out of the corner of your eye, just as you entered the alleyway, and you-- just as you were about to begin the spell, they arrived.
MARISHA: All right.
MATT: That's only because they didn't roll very high stealth themselves. Well, cool!
MARISHA: Fucking hell.
MATT: Thank you guys so much. Literally. Fucking Hells. Plural, guys.
LAURA: Things aren't going very well here.
TALIESIN: I think they're going great.
MATT: This is fun. I love--
MARISHA: We're not slaves yet.
LAURA: Hey, bonus!
MATT: I love the City of Dis. You guys just scraped the surface. All right, so we'll be back here next week on Thursday. We'll also be-- some of us will be here on Tuesday, for Talks Machina at seven. We'll talk about this chaos. We'll be at Wondercon, April 1st, 2-3PM for our Critical Role panel, please come and see us. Thank you again for Puzzle Quest for being our awesome sponsor today.
ALL: Yay, Puzzle Quest!
MATT: So check out Marvel Puzzle Quest, and until next week guys, is it Thursday yet? Good night.
TRAVIS: We are in deep shit!