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Pre-Show[]

MATT: Hello everyone, and welcome to tonight's episode of Critical Role, where a bunch of us nerdy-ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons. Before we jump in tonight, we have a few announcements we want to get through. First up, we have a birthday today, we have my wonderful wife, Marisha. It's her birthday today! Happy birthday!

(cheering)

MARISHA: Thank you, thank you. Thank you to my mother who birthed me. She should really be the one who's getting thanked.

LAURA: Yes, she really should.

MARISHA: Yes.

LIAM: Still alive, mom.

SAM: Reenact it for us.

MARISHA: I'll leave that to Laura in a couple months.

MATT: Happy birthday.

MARISHA: Thanks.

MATT: Next up, we have our two sponsors this evening. First--

SAM: Two?

MATT: Yes, two!

SAM: I only prepared one. What's happening?

MATT: I'm doing the second one. You're fine. But our first sponsor for the evening is our returning friends at D&D Beyond. Sam?

SAM: D&D Beyond, everybody. (clears throat) D&D Beyond is our fabulous sponsor, they're here every week. They put these things on our iPads-- I mean, our tablet devices that help us track our stats and stuff, and they wanted us to let you know that this week, Matt Mercer's gunslinger fighter subclass is now available on D&D Beyond. In the character builder, critters can begin creating their version of Percy right now on D&D Beyond. They actually already have started creating their own versions of Percy and loading it with the features that we've come love about Percy. I've compiled a list. It's the Top Ten List of Percy Features Being Added on D&D! Everyone, a little, light drumroll if you could. Number ten: extra long, pompous names. Number nine: skin so white it claps on the ones and threes. Number eight: bags containing gunpowder and Victor fingers. Number seven: that feat where your dice always roll 20s even though they're not cursed by a demonic ritual. Number six: blue hair dye! Number five: steampunk bifocals. Number four: giant bathtubs that comfortably hold a female half-elf under the water for 15 minutes. You can add these features to your Percy. Number three: throat bubbles.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Wow.

SAM: Number two: wit and tact.

LIAM: Wait, what what what?

SAM: Wit and tact. And the number one thing being added to the gunslinger class: knives.

MATT: Thank you, Sam. You guys can use the gunslinger fighter archetype as well as the new feat that goes along with it; that's on there as well. Which anyone can take to learn firearms, be better at firearms, even if you're not a gunslinger, so check that out on the app. Thank you guys at D&D Beyond for being awesome, and you for supporting them and us. Of course, our second sponsor for tonight, returning, our fun friends at Obsidian with Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, which is finally out!

LIAM: I know, it's so exciting. It's so good, it's so pretty, it sounds so good, it plays so good.

MATT: It's really good.

SAM: I got it working.

MATT: That was the best response.

SAM: I can move my guy now.

MATT: I was there when he got that text, we just went (sputtering laughing). Oh my god.

SAM: I looked it up on Google first.

MATT: See, and he's already a step above most people on the internet. Deadfire's out, super excited, the voice sets and portraits of Vox Machina are in the game for free DLC, on PC. It'll be out for console later this year. If MetaCritic doesn't lie, it's at 90 and climbing. I love it. I'm so excited, I'm so glad people enjoy it, and so glad we can be a part of it.

LIAM: I played today and I just got my first dose of kaiju-god Taliesin, not regular-god Taliesin, kaiju-god Taliesin. It's good.

TALIESIN: I haven't gotten there yet.

MATT: Laura's character and Marisha's character in my party are starting to flirt and I'm like (nervous sound). I don't know how I feel about that. Of course, I made Gilmore. Marisha's character was flirting with me at first and I was like, "Nah, I got to shut this down, Gilmore's not interested."

MARISHA: (laughter) That's fair.

MATT: At least you two are getting together.

MARISHA: Just waiting for the other guys.

MATT: I get enough of this in real life. Happy birthday. Also, we are heading back to GenCon, guys! Our tickets went on sale earlier this week for the live show in Indianapolis, you can find it on Ticketmaster. The official GenCon panel is sold out, but keep an eye on the GenCon website as tickets that are relinquished may become available as it goes on. They keep cycling through and as things become available, they'll update it, so keep an eye. We'll try and update you as soon as we hear anything beyond that. But holy shit.

TRAVIS: If there are balcony seats for the live show, do not be afraid of them, because that balcony crew is raucous. Just being in that room while the live madness is going on is something to behold, so even if it's the back, if you want to go, go.

LAURA: It was a really fun group in the audience last time.

SAM: I'm going to hide some stuff up there.

LAURA: I like that.

SAM: We'll hide some stuff.

MATT: Why does it smell so funky back here?

TRAVIS: Why is there silly string coming out of the balcony?

MATT: Scanlan strikes again. Looking forward to seeing a bunch of you guys at GenCon. In the past four weeks in our 826 initiative, we have raised over $50,000 from the community, which is then doubled by fantastic Mark K, we've made over $100,000 to 826, so we can not thank you guys enough for your amazing support. Huge thanks to critter Mark Koro, of course, for being our counter support for this, and being such an amazing member of the community. Thank you. Thanks to Wyrmwood Gaming and our friends at D&D Beyond for their amazing support for the campaign to get us where we are now. If you'd still like to donate, you can go to 826LA.org/criticalrole. We'll have more information soon about the scheduling for my fireside chat, as well as the production crew Reddit AMA, and Marisha's Honey Heist soon, so stay tuned.

MARISHA: I need to start planning. Oh man.

MATT: Indeed.

MATT: Don't forget Twitch Prime. (singing) If you have Amazon Prime you can connect it on your Twitch and subscribe to a channel for free, there you go.

TRAVIS: That was a good jingle, actually.

MATT: Thank you. I'll remember it never. Critical Recap is available for those who have missed it before the episode and you're watching this now and you didn't see last episode. Why? But if you need to real fast, pause this, or later, or go and watch Critical Recap now, which our fantastic Dani Carr gets you up to speed of what happened in last week's episode. It's up on YouTube right now. Talks Machina is every Tuesday at 7:00pm Pacific, where our fantastic Brian W. Foster hosts our sit down chat with members of the cast. This last week apparently was off the chain between Ashley and Marisha.

MARISHA: Good times.

MATT: When everyone cries from laughing, it's a good night, apparently.

LIAM: You face planted on the couch.

MARISHA: I've never seen Foster sprout tears like that. That was amazing.

ASHLEY: You know you've got him when he has projectile tears. It seems opposite of what should be happening.

MATT: A special shout out to our friend, PulloutKing, from that episode.

ASHLEY: PulloutKing, thanks for the laughs.

MATT: We have new d20s restocked?

LAURA: They're not new, but older d20s

SAM: They're used d20s.

LAURA: I'm pretty sure they're the special edition ones. I haven't looked at the store, they're the red set, I think.

MATT: The rare ones.

LAURA: The ones that were available at our live shows before are in the store.

TRAVIS: Laura, would you consider selling used dice that end up in the jail too often? Just offload some of that shit.

SAM: I don't think the store can handle that many.

TALIESIN: I think if the dice know that they could go to a kinder, gentler home.

LAURA: I think I may have enough dice to go one for each and every critter.

LIAM: It's funny, you go and try to pet her dice they shrink back, they shy away.

(squeaking)

LAURA: They're like barnacles!

MARISHA: Next charity drive we have you could auction a few.

SAM: Charity drive?

ASHLEY: I was like: barnacles! She already said that.

SAM: Guys, the birthday girl is trying to talk.

MARISHA: I'm sorry, never mind, it's passed. No, I was thinking you could auction them off for charity next time, next charity drive.

LAURA: I mean, yeah, charity.

(laughter)

MATT: I believe that's the last of our announcements of the evening.

TRAVIS: Oh shit. A fucking troll, you guys!

MATT: Let's bring it in for tonight's episode of Critical Role.

[click, TV static] [groovy Critical Role theme]

Part I[]

MATT: Welcome back. Oh my god. Welcome back. Last we left off: The Mighty Nein, upon clearing their names, making some new friendships in the city and taking some time for themselves in preparation for the coming Harvest Close festival, found themselves wandering through the streets of celebration. They partook in a number of various games of chance and skill, got some fine snacks and food, challenged themselves, got thrown by their other party members, won some trinkets and toys, and then ended up signing up to the Victory Pit, the grand tournament that ends the Harvest Close festival. You managed to catch a few phrases off to the side of the initial lounge you were signing up in, where you discovered that war had been declared by the king on the eastern region of Xhorhas, that information was to be held back until the festival was over. You were held below with the other competing teams, and then one by one you were each presented into the center of the Victory Pit tournament where each of you has to battle a challenge of a creature or creatures in a three tier structure. Whoever survives all three bouts gets to share in the final pot prize. Currently two of the other teams have been knocked out, and it only remains to be you and one other. You guys are up first. You're pulled into the center and announced as The Mighty Nein's final round. Knowing the Stubborn Stock is watching from behind the distant doorways that lead into the central arena, you all scattered about the sands as the sun begins to get close to dusk, shouting out your various plans and then abandoning them last minute. You found places as these heaping, heavy thuds start quaking the ground in arrival before the door swings open. Out from behind it, roaring, a frenzied, angry hill giant, complete with pierced thorns jammed into each side of the body to drive it to a point of absolute anger and fury, comes bashing into the center of the arena, knocks over one of the large pillars, and this is where we begin. I need everyone to roll initiative.

TRAVIS: Let's try and talk to it.

LIAM: Just wear him down.

TRAVIS: Yeah, let's try and talk to him.

MARISHA: Almost a natural 20. Almost a 20!

TALIESIN: That's mildly adequate.

MATT: 25 to 20?

SAM: 23.

LIAM: 20.

MATT: 20 to 15?

LAURA: 19.

TRAVIS: (sobbing) No, far too calm.

MATT: 15 to ten?

MARISHA and TALIESIN: 14.

TRAVIS: Which one of you wants to go first?

MARISHA: I'll take it.

TALIESIN: I should take it because for now.

MARISHA: Molly'll take it.

TALIESIN: Make your life a little easier because I can keep disadvantage for your turn.

MARISHA: Sure, yes.

TRAVIS: Eight. What'd you roll?

ASHLEY: Six. The fun buns!

LAURA: Brought it back.

MATT: All righty, friends. It finishes slamming the large pillar into the ground and wields its giant club over one shoulder, its other hand reaching out for something and glancing over the field to see what its quarry is. Nott, you're up first.

SAM: Is the giant in melee? Would I get sneak attack damage or no? He's not engaged with anybody right now.

MATT: Right now, Fjord, you're hiding back there. I think I shifted it.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: No, he is not currently engaged.

SAM: Okay, then I will shriek and I will run towards Beau, full sprint.

ASHLEY: Full sprint ahead.

LAURA: Oh god, just right in it already. We're just right in it.

MATT: By the way, guys, this finally came in today.

LAURA: What is that?

SAM: It's north, east, west, south.

MATT: So you know where the north is, so you can use that.

LAURA: Shut up. That's so cool.

MARISHA: Which way's north, by the way?

MATT: This way.

MARISHA: Okay, thank you.

MATT: The people who do Campaign Coins make that now. Our friend, Deven Rue, who did our map for the show, she's the one who designed it. I've been waiting for it to come in. That's a point for you guys, if you ever want to shout directions at me of where you want to run, that's helpful.

LAURA: I love it.

MATT: You ran, full sprint towards Jester.

SAM: Sneak attack damage is so good, but I can't. That thing can see me, I'm scared. I'm scared, guys! I'm going to fire my crossbow. Ooh, it's a two, it misses. I'm super scared.

MATT: It arcs off, you hear this distant (yelp) in the audience way away.

TALIESIN: I was going to say, what was the number? Because that thing's got to have a low AC. What's the actual number?

SAM: Oh yeah, probably. Eight.

MATT: Yeah, no.

LAURA: He's got thick skin, I think.

MATT: Yeah, it's a pretty hardy physicality even if it's a broad target to hit.

SAM: Then I will run back the way I came.

MATT: Same place you were before?

SAM: No, like behind Yasha, behind that pillar over there, that wall.

LAURA: You said that's north?

MATT: This is north here.

LAURA: Towards you.

SAM: North always points to the star.

(laughter)

MATT: Caleb, you're up.

LIAM: I see this giant behemoth and I start backing up to go west around the stone, under my breath singing: We are the Mighty Nein, the Mighty Nein, the Mighty Nein. And fire off a Fire Bolt as I sneak behind it.

MATT: You're darting around the side.

LIAM: No, that is no good. That is a 13.

MATT: 13 just hits.

SAM: Okay, not too hard to hit.

MARISHA: 13 just hits, good to know.

MATT: It's a big target but it's pretty hardy.

LIAM: That is a one.

MATT: One point of fire damage. It hits and goes (splat). It's less of a Fire Bolt and more of a fire (fizzle). You see there's a patch on its rather furry belly that no longer has hair. It's very glaring.

LIAM: *Ja*. I am leaning, crouching against that stone, hands on the wall, just listening and working on keeping my gourd from rising.

MATT: Okay, good to know. Jester, you're up.

SAM: Go for it.

LAURA: Really?

SAM: Yeah, you so badly want to.

LAURA: I mean, I want to so bad. I want to use my Spiritual Weapon!

MATT: Then use it!

LAURA: Okay, well, I will. I'm going to hold my symbol in my hand and do like this because I've seen Caleb do fancy things, and then I'm going to make it.

MATT: Where would you like to place it?

LAURA: Right above his face!

MATT: (counting) 30 is where you can make it appear.

LAURA: Really close to his face.

MATT: Let me see what the range is on it. What's the range on the spell?

LAURA: I'm looking. 60!

MATT: 60! Yeah, you can do it, right over.

LAURA: Directly in front of his face, flat side facing him, and then just poof!

MATT: Roll for attack, go for it. As Jester releases her grip, this giant, heavy-looking but gorgeous glittering lollipop apparates out of the air, streaking down towards the goblin's face. Not the goblin, the ogre's-- giant's face. It's been a week.

LAURA: 16!

MATT: 16 hits, roll damage.

LAURA: That slipped out of my hand. It doesn't count if it slips out of your hand. Ten points of damage! That's my bonus. For my actual thing, can I do a cantrip?

MATT: Yes, you can.

LAURA: Yeah! I'm going to Sacred Flame him! He's got to roll dexterity over 14.

MATT: He rolled a 14, but has minus one dex.

SAM: Look at you, you're a killer.

LAURA: I'm a monster! Eight! Radiant damage.

MATT: *Wunderbar*. That finishes your turn, Jester.

LAURA: Yes. The spiritual weapon's right here, on his face.

MATT: You got it.

ASHLEY: He's blinded now.

MATT: Now it's the giant's turn. After being slammed in the face with this lollipop and the flames, is like (angry grunting). Ducks out of the way as it slams down on its head, grabs the side of the pillar, which breaks. The pillar, as it fell over, shattered into four or five pieces, grabs and picks up a single piece. The only one that it paid attention to right now is the one that lit its stomach on fire. It takes this thing and lobs it in your direction.

LIAM: I'm behind the stone pressed to the back of it though, presently, correct?

MATT: You do have cover. It's three-quarters cover. What's your armor class, currently?

LIAM: It is at 14 at the moment.

MATT: That adds plus five to your AC, so it's 19 on this attack. That's still a 21 to hit though, so it still hits you. 13 plus eight, sorry.

LIAM: Well bring it on, here we go.

MATT: As this chunk of the pillar goes flying across the arena towards you, it hits the top of the wall which breaks a good foot and a half section of it, shatters as it slams into your chest.

LIAM: What did it do, it did to 19? I can do a reaction, can't I?

MATT: You can.

LIAM: I cast Shield.

MATT: All right! There you go. As you see it slam into the wall above you and go swinging, you throw up the shield and all of a sudden there's a spark of arcane energy as it gets deflected inches off of the top of Caleb's head before slamming into the side of the actual tournament arena, hitting the stone causing it to crack and people in the front area (gasp).

LIAM: What did he roll?

TRAVIS and MARISHA: 21.

LIAM: Still hits. Because that only gets me up to 19.

MATT: You were 19 because you had three-quarters cover, because you were behind the wall. You had 14 plus five because you were behind--

LIAM: Okay, good.

MATT: At this moment, the absolute fear kicks into his eyes. The entity is going to charge forward. Right at that point, it stops and turns and sees out of the corner of its eye Fjord hiding behind the wall. That's going to be its turn. Molly, you're up.

SAM: Turn into water!

TRAVIS: (blubbing sounds) Surprise, bitches!

LAURA: Who's up?

TALIESIN: I'm up. How dumb do I feel like being?

LAURA: I feel like I'm already sweating.

ASHLEY: I forgot to go to the bathroom. I'm wiggling.

TALIESIN: If it's turned towards Fjord, then I'm going to run around to the opposite side of it.

MATT: Okay, to there? Is it for flanking bonus?

TALIESIN: For flanking bonus. I'm going to take two slices into his leg.

MATT: Go for it.

LAURA: Two shots in his leg!

TALIESIN: See, I didn't do it, and then you just went ahead and did it. I'm working so hard not to do it. What's the flanking bonus, by the way?

MATT: We've used it occasionally, but it works against you guys as well. If you manage to get directly across from a creature with an ally in melee, you get advantage on the attack.

TALIESIN: All right, so this is advantage on the attack.

MATT: You were ranged last campaign so it didn't come into play very often.

TALIESIN: No, not very often. I was trying to remember. I'm not feeling good about that one. Here we are. That's a 25 to hit.

MATT: That hits.

TALIESIN: I assume I don't get the extra bonus for radiant.

MATT: No, he's not undead.

TALIESIN: (counting) Eight points of damage.

MATT: Eight points of damage for the first strike.

TALIESIN: Then the next one is a natural 20! That's 14 points of damage.

MATT: The first strike you carve up alongside its blubbery, thick belly that's flipping over this piece of cloth that it has matted around its midsection. As you cut through, it buckles a little bit on that one side of the leg and you use that moment to cut behind its thigh, right down below where the Achilles tendon is. As you cut across, blood spatters across the sand and (yelling).

TALIESIN: All right!

MATT: That's your turn?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm holding.

MATT: He's going to use a legendary action.

LAURA: A legendary?! He's legendary?!

MATT: He's a frenzied solo, yeah.

TRAVIS: He's a frenzied solo? What does that mean?

MATT: He's going to go ahead and use his Furious Mash.

TALIESIN: Is he going to attack me?

MATT: He's going to attack, yeah, for slashing him.

TALIESIN: I'm definitely using Blood Maledict then, at full use. That was not good, that was bad. All right, that's all right.

MATT: Okay, so he has disadvantage on the attack.

TALIESIN: Yeah, and the next one.

MATT: That's still a 13 plus eight.

TALIESIN: Yeah that hits.

MATT: As you slam and slice into the back of the leg, he angrily turns back and swings down towards you and his eyes go black. There's a brief shake, it's still a massive club and you try to move out of the way but it's too fast, slamming onto you knocking you onto the ground. Your wind is knocked out of you and your whole world goes dazed and white for a moment. This is going to be 26 points of bludgeoning damage.

TALIESIN: I'm out.

SAM: What?

TRAVIS: Wow! Fuck! Yes! Oh man!

SAM: You wanted to.

LAURA: I underestimated the amount of damage he would do to us.

MATT: That was a really good damage roll. It reactively slams into Molly with the club. As the dust settles, Molly is not moving on the ground, probably pushed about an inch or two into the dirt and sand. There's a crater where the head of the club had impacted, and Molly is not moving.

LIAM: That really hurt, Charlie!

MATT: Beau, your turn.

LAURA: His name is Charlie.

MARISHA: Okay, I feel like this has changed the plan that I had.

SAM: Her plan was to hit Molly. It was a weird plan.

TALIESIN: He has disadvantage on his next attack as well.

MARISHA: Fjord, I feel like I should get up there.

TRAVIS: I'm just saying, this is a last man standing kind of thing.

MARISHA: You're the only one there.

TRAVIS: That's okay. Think of the team!

MARISHA: All right. Just this one time, though. I'm going to throw a throwing star.

MATT: You're going to throw a throwing star? Okay, go ahead.

MARISHA: Natural 20.

(cheering)

MARISHA: (singing) Happy birthday to me! Well, that was the world's shittiest die roll, though. No wait, I only get 1d4 right? It's just a d4 plus my bonus?

MATT: It's 1d4 times two, plus your bonus.

MARISHA: Okay, sorry. That's a better roll. (counting) Ten damage?

MATT: Okay, ten damage!

TALIESIN: Way too happy about that ten damage.

MARISHA: I don't get another one, right? It's just one action.

MATT: No, because unarmed attack, it's for the outside, yeah.

MARISHA: Okay, and I'm going to move.

MATT: You throw one of these spindly jagged star darts on the side. You throw it through the air and it sinks into its stomach. You don't even see where it impacted except for a small red line where it's beginning to bleed from where it carved into its belly.

MARISHA: I hit him! Then that's it, that's my turn.

MATT: You're going to stay there?

MARISHA: I'm going to stay there.

MATT: That finishes Beau's turn, Fjord, you're up.

TRAVIS: I'm going to use my bonus action to cast Hexblade's Curse on this giant. Hyuck Hyuck! I'm going to summon my Wastehunter falchion, two-handed, and I'm going to cut into his thigh.

LAURA: Isn't your Hex still up from the last game, too?

TRAVIS: No. It was up until the second round and then that was it.

TALIESIN: Also does that mean that his reaction has been burned by the legendary action? Is the legendary action a separate thing from--

MATT: Legendary actions are different from reactions.

TALIESIN: All right, so he's still got a reaction. Just checking.

TRAVIS: 25.

MATT: That hits. As the large falchion appears, curved and jagged, this splash of seawater across the side of the giant as its eyes are now set back on Fjord. At this point, the curse sets in, the blood spatters on the ground begin to come up into these black forms and adhere to his legs.

TRAVIS: 13 points of damage plus two for the Hexblade's Curse.

MATT: 15, nice.

TRAVIS: With my speed I'm going to run to the north as far as 30 will carry me.

LAURA: He's going to hit you.

TRAVIS: I know, he's going to hit me next turn anyway.

MATT: 30 will get you there, and he gets attack of opportunity against you. You strike it in the side and you go to run you get a fair distance, but the reach with that club is just far enough where it doesn't necessarily need it. As you go charging forward-- he has disadvantage because of that. That makes it a 13.

TRAVIS: Armor class 15!

MATT: You hear the (booming) from behind as it slams into the ground. The earth leaves your foot for a second and you land again. You make your way to the edge. Well done, that ends your turn. That brings us to Yasha.

ASHLEY: Can I make it over east? Let's go east, near his butt. How far can I get?

MATT: You can get there.

LAURA: Hit him in his butt!

ASHLEY: I'm going to hit him in the arse with the Magician's Judge. Reckless.

MATT: Reckless? Go for it.

ASHLEY: 15.

MATT: 15 hits.

LAURA: Does that mean he's going to get advantage on you now?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: But wait, you get to dispel magic!

ASHLEY: Oh shit, that's so bad.

MATT: Double ones.

TRAVIS: Are they really? Double unos?

ASHLEY: Double unos. Five points of damage!

MATT: As you go rushing by, you weren't paying attention for the last impact, and you see out of the corner your eye, Molly in the ground, jammed in and unconscious, bleeding out and that's just enough, being not in an enraged state, to viscerally affect you and shakes you just enough for you to swing the blade. It hits the leg, but it wasn't enough actual impact to carve into the flesh.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: That ends your turn, Yasha. Nott, you're up.

SAM: (sighs) Do we heal, or do we get this guy?

TRAVIS: You don't heal. Hit him.

SAM: No, I mean Molly.

TRAVIS: Fuck Molly!

SAM: All right, I'll clock around the corner and fire off a shot.

MARISHA: He has potentially three rounds until he dies.

TRAVIS: I love Molly, but fuck.

TALIESIN: I don't.

SAM: 20 to hit.

MATT: That hits. You can roll damage.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: He is adjacent to Yasha, so it is sneak attack damage.

SAM: Ew, terrible.

LAURA: Oh my god! What's with these rolls!?

ASHLEY: We're going to die.

LAURA: No, don't say it.

ASHLEY: We're going to live.

SAM: Nine points of damage.

TRAVIS: Not as convincing.

MATT: Hey it adds up, guys. It's cool. As you duck around the corner, you release the bolt. It sinks into the chest area and looks around in direction trying to find you. You still have 20 feet of movement.

MARISHA: You don't have Healing Word or anything anymore?

SAM: No, I'm not a--

LAURA: Nobody has.

MATT: It's not a rogue thing, unfortunately.

SAM: You can perform one of these (mumbling) use a bonus action to control the hand. Fuck. Okay, I can't cast Mage Hand as a bonus action with Legerdemain or whatever, right? I can only use it. Okay, then I will fire again, why not. Natural 20.

(cheering)

TRAVIS: So casual, that's a good--

LAURA: Ah!

SAM: Does that double my dice?

LAURA: Yeah!

SAM: Plus that's 16 points of damage.

LAURA: Nice.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay.

MATT: The first one hit, and he starts growling, and looks right in your direction. You go (screams), fire a second one that goes right into one of its eyes and starts roaring. It gets caught right up inside. It doesn't quite pierce the eyeball, but it gets up into the socket.

LAURA: (groans) That would suck so hard.

MATT: It's scratching at its face angrily.

LAURA: Good thing he's already frenzied.

SAM: Then movement to clock right back around that corner of the--

MATT: Right there?

SAM: Yeah, of the structure. Yeah, right there.

MATT: Okay. That's your turn, Nott.

SAM: Yep.

MATT: Caleb, you're up.

LIAM: I was considering going out there, but I'm not going to do it. I'm going to bend around the side and fire off another Fire Bolt at it. At Charlie. That is a 12 to hit.

MATT: That does not hit, unfortunately. It just misses. As you see once again, Molly on the ground and Yasha barely making an impact. Nott gets a couple good hits off, and you try to fire. Unfortunately, as he pulls back to grasp the face, the Fire Bolt goes wide past where the head previously was.

LIAM: Yeah, I'm going to use my movement to back up behind that column.

MATT: There?

LIAM: *Ja.*

MATT: That would put you about there. That ends your turn, Caleb?

LIAM: *Ja.*

MATT: Jester, you're up.

LAURA: Okay. Molly, I'll get you as soon as he moves. Okay? That he doesn't hit me. Okay?

TALIESIN: (humming)

SAM: (strained) I'm dead.

LAURA: I'm going to move Spiritual Weapon around, and I'm going to use this side. I'm going to smack him right in his funny bone.

MATT: Okay. As the hand is grasping at where it got shot in the eye, it goes right for the back of the elbow.

LAURA: Yeah! That hits. Then 1d8 plus four. That's cocked. Yeah! 12 points of damage.

MATT: Twelve points of damage.

ASHLEY: Yes!

MATT: As it hits, (impact) (pained groan) He's shaking the hand as it's going numb. The one eye is half shut. Going (pained groans).

LAURA: While he's shaking it off, I'm going to use my bonus action to Toll the Dead!

MATT: You mean your action. Because you already used your bonus action.

LAURA: I'm going to use my action to Toll the Dead!

SAM: I was thinking about you.

LAURA: He's going to have to roll a wisdom of 14.

MATT: Wisdom of 14. Natural 19, sorry.

LIAM: (farcical Czech accent) Two wild and crazy clerics.

LAURA: Bullshit. So he saw me. I'm going to jump down behind, north side. Northwest side, right in the corner there. I'm going to go (small squeak) and try to not get hit.

MATT: That ends your turn. It's now the giant's turn. As Yasha has just torn into the side, it's going to turn back to you and is going to double club attack you.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: It has advantage on each.

ASHLEY: That's so true.

MATT: Because she did Reckless.

ASHLEY: Because I did Reckless like a ding-dong.

LAURA: So every attack against you is--

ASHLEY: Yeah. I'm dumb.

MATT: The first one is a 25.

ASHLEY: Well that definitely hits. I'm probably going to be unconscious.

LAURA: No.

MATT: Natural 20, okay.

TRAVIS: Oh no.

MATT: The first hit is--

ASHLEY: I don't know why I did Reckless. I'm learning, I should have waited.

MATT: 23 points of damage, bludgeoning damage, from the first hit. (whack) You put your hands up, and you put the blade up to catch it, it slams into it and pulls the shoulder out of the socket and pushes you down into the dirt. As you push off, the club goes up once more and then (whack).

LAURA: 23 was not the critical.

SAM: Not the critical?!

TALIESIN: That was not the critical.

SAM: She could be perma-dead right now.

MATT: I rolled an eight, seven, and a five. That's--

ASHLEY: Am I perma-dead?

MATT: That's 43 points of damage.

ASHLEY: How many?

MATT: 43.

ASHLEY: Okay.

SAM: What's your total?

LIAM: What's your max?

LAURA: She's got 40 something hit points.

MATT: You have to go negative your max score.

TALIESIN: Which you do not do.

LAURA: Which you don't do.

TALIESIN: So you're just unconscious.

ASHLEY: I'm just unconscious.

SAM: Just super-duper unconscious.

TRAVIS: That was pretty close, I think.

ASHLEY: Is that right?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

SAM: Whoa.

TALIESIN: You're out.

LAURA: You're just unconscious.

MATT: With the second slam, Yasha partially deflects the first impact and then vanishes in the second one. Right there next to Molly, as the dust clears, you see Yasha, unmoving. Her legs up in the air. As the rest of her torso is pushed down into the dirt, and the rest of the ground is covered over. Where you can see the back of her shoulders, and the back of her head, and the rest of it is dust settling. She's not moving either.

LAURA: Shit. You came close to perma-death.

TALIESIN: Yeah, but not. That almost--

TRAVIS: (laughs) J-E-L-L-O!

MARISHA: I'm watching people get squashed in front of me. Freaking kill box.

LAURA: Were you still big, too?

LIAM and ASHLEY: No.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: It's a quick thing.

MATT: I think at this point-- yeah, because you're the one who shot it twice in the eye, and it saw you duck behind. (counting)

TRAVIS: Stick and move.

MARISHA: That's my thing.

MATT: You watch as it steps over the wall. "Tiny thing!" After it smashes Yasha, it doesn't even care anymore and there's a little bit of foam at the corner of the mouth. The blood's trailing down the face from where the bolt entered. That's going to end the giant's turn. Molly, you're up. Molly? Molly.

LIAM: Tal.

MARISHA: Molly.

TALIESIN: Yeah?

MATT: Molly, make a death saving throw.

TALIESIN: Oh, I don't have to. I get shocked from my-- the chest. The heart locket sparks and--

MATT: Oh, that's right.

TRAVIS: The what?

SAM: What, you're back up?

LAURA: He bought that locket.

MATT: What are the effects of the locket again?

TALIESIN: What?

MATT: What are the effects of the locket again?

TALIESIN: Ready for this? It's really cool.

LIAM: Full HP.

TALIESIN: No. When you wear this pendant, you stabilize whenever you are dying at the start of your turn. In addition, whenever you roll hit dice to regain hit points, the number of hit points--

MATT: Yeah. So you stabilize. You're still unconscious.

TALIESIN: I'm unconscious, but I'm breathing.

MATT: But you're not bleeding out.

TALIESIN: I'm just (deep breath).

MATT: There you go.

LAURA: Yasha, however--

MATT: Beau, your turn.

MARISHA: He's looking at Nott pretty hard?

MATT: Yeah. He's about to smash the little goblin.

MARISHA: Okay, Beau is going to run and flank with Nott over here onto also the northwest side.

MATT: Over there? Flanking would be on the opposite side.

MARISHA: I have to be on the opposite side.

LIAM: Yeah, you'll get advantage.

MARISHA: No, I want to go in front of him, where I can get his attention. The northwest side.

MATT: Right here?

MARISHA: Yeah. I'm going to point at his dick, and I'm going to go: Tiny thing! Then for my action, I'm going to take the dodge action.

MATT: Okay, so your bonus action is to say “Tiny thing.”

MARISHA: Huh?

MATT: Your bonus action is to say “Tiny thing” towards his dick.

MARISHA: Yeah. I say: Tiny thing! You tiny thing!

MATT: Go ahead and make an intimidation check.

MARISHA: To insult his penis size?

MATT: Yes, that is exactly what you're doing.

MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: You have to intimidate his dick.

TRAVIS: That didn't--

MATT and LAURA: It landed.

MARISHA: Well, it's a natural one. Well, the second one was a one. First one was an eight. Neither were good.

MATT: He seems to think you're agreeing with him with regards to Nott. "I know! Tiny thing!"

MARISHA: So I didn't get his attention?

MATT: No. That's your turn. Fjord, you're up. You're in the middle of the field and you see both Yasha and Molly crushed into the ground. This little lollipop is (flittering) in the air behind.

TRAVIS: Lovely. Yeah, I'm going to use Eldritch Blast. Shoot across the arena, 120 feet. Try and hit him.

MATT: All right. You move into the space here?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: You can see him over the wall.

TRAVIS: That is a 16 plus six, 22.

MATT: That'll hit. Go ahead and roll damage.

TRAVIS: That is 12 plus two, 14 points of Eldritch Blast damage.

MATT: Nice! That's a good hit. (impact) Off the side of the shoulder. You can watch where the section, where the skin used to be is now exposed muscle. Where it's burned off, the outer layer of the body.

TRAVIS: Can I use the rest of my speed to move behind the column, so that I'm hiding behind the column?

MATT: Sure.

TALIESIN: Was that with the Hex?

MATT: With the additional Hex damage, right?

SAM: Hex damage?

TRAVIS: What?

MATT: That was with the additional damage from the--

TRAVIS: With the additional d6, yeah.

MATT: That ends Fjord's turn. Yasha, I need you to make a death saving throw.

ASHLEY: Okay. Do I add anything?

MATT: Nope.

ASHLEY: A seven.

MATT: That's a fail. You failed your first death saving throw.

ASHLEY: (gasps) Okay.

MATT: At the end of Yasha's turn, the giant is going to use his legendary action. He has one legendary action. Trying to do a club attack against you, Nott.

MARISHA: No!

LAURA: He has only one legendary action for the whole fight?

MATT: Once every round.

LAURA: No.

MATT: That's a 19. What's your armor class?

SAM: That hits.

MARISHA: I'm sorry. I should have been more explicit about his insulting his penis size.

MATT: 19 points of bludgeoning damage.

SAM: Yikes.

MATT: As it slams down, it hits you, and pushes you into the wall. You're flattened against the stone which quakes. On the opposite side of it, it cracks and (stones scattering) off the back. You hear this squeak sound as Nott is crushed between the club and the wall.

TRAVIS: I'll kill him! Not Nott.

SAM: It didn't work.

TALIESIN: You have to hit the confirm button.

SAM: Damn it. Okay, that's not good.

MATT: It's your turn.

SAM: My turn?

MATT: Yes.

SAM: I will look up at the giant man who just hit me and I will take out a tiny piece of pastry and let it crumble to the ground and look up at him with fear in my voice say: Why don't-- (sighs) why don't goblins eat court jesters? Because they taste funny.

MATT: He looks very confused in the middle of his foaming frenzy.

LAURA: Behind the wall I start laughing.

MATT: "Jester?"

SAM: I will cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter.

MATT: Oh, shit. (laughs) What's the save on that?

SAM: 13.

MATT: But what is it? Is it wisdom?

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: That is a natural 17 minus one, 16.

SAM: Oh.

MARISHA: Shit.

SAM: Why isn't this working?

ASHLEY: He's rolling well.

LAURA: He's rolling really well.

MATT: I'm rolling really well. I'm so sorry, guys.

SAM: Can I please get the changes to take? Yes, okay. Okay, that sucks. I will bonus action disengage!

LAURA: Yay! Run away really far.

SAM: I will run away! Just the maximum amount of running away I can do which is only 30 feet. Towards Caleb, to the north and if I can get behind that pillar.

LAURA: Don't group!

MATT: You can get there.

LAURA: Don't group up.

SAM: Other side, possibly?

MATT: If you wanted to go around that way, you could.

SAM: All right.

MATT: We'll say yeah. That'll put you right there. Okay, that ends your turn. Caleb, you're up.

LIAM: This is a long shot, but I have no way of damaging him. I'm going to pull out some sand out of pocket and mutter a few arcane words and trail it in front of me and cast Sleep back behind him here so it does not touch Beauregard.

MATT: Go ahead and roll your 5d8.

LIAM: *Ja.*

MATT: Go for it and tell me what the total is.

LIAM: *Ja,* I know. This is probably not going to work, but I can't hurt him. Fuck. Good, better. 23.

MATT: 23? You watch as the large giant, (groans) (slower groan).

TRAVIS: What?

MATT: Steps back and hits the pillar behind him. It cracks and tilts to the side. Catches him (grunts). Falls to both knees and eventually hits the ground. This loud, heavy snore.

TRAVIS: Oh, shit!

MARISHA and LAURA: Do we win?

MATT: He's just unconscious.

LAURA: Yeah, but does that mean we win? He's on the ground!

MATT: You shout this out?

MARISHA: Huh?

MATT: You're shouting this out as this is happening?

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Do we win?!

MATT: They're all waiting for a moment.

SAM: Go heal Yasha!

LAURA: Oh, we have to wait, it's like turns.

MATT: No one's called the match yet.

MARISHA: Fuck!

SAM: Go heal Yasha!

LAURA: It's my turn now.

MATT: It is your turn, yes.

LIAM: We're going round by round?

MATT: Correct.

LIAM: Don't touch the giant.

MATT: Any movement, Caleb?

LIAM: Yeah, I will start moving towards Molly and Yasha as far as I can get. I call out, medium volume, not to the crowd but to my friends: That wasn't even supposed to work.

TRAVIS: Sand.

MARISHA: You did good, Sandman.

MATT: Jester, you're up.

LAURA: I'm going to run over to Yasha.

MATT: (counting) You can't quite get there.

LAURA: Shit. Could I have reached Molly?

MATT: You could have reached Molly, yes.

LAURA: Okay, then I'll go to Molly first. Sorry, Yasha.

ASHLEY: That's okay.

LAURA: I'm going to--

MATT: Well, actually if you were here, you could have gotten to there.

LAURA: I could have gotten to Yasha? Okay, then I'm going to-- because she's dying. I'm going to use Cure Wounds on her. My last spell, y'all. That is 1d8.

TRAVIS: That's all right, you're going to wake up, and you're going to fucking go apeshit.

LAURA: Ten points of healing for you.

ASHLEY: I'll take it. Oh, thank you.

ASHLEY: I add that here?

LAURA: And you're up! Then for my bonus action, I'm going to send my Spiritual-- oh, no.

SAM: You can do whatever you want.

LAURA: No, I can't-- if I touch him, he wakes up.

LIAM: Yeah, don't touch him.

SAM: You can get it over there.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to bring my Spiritual Weapon over to him.

MATT: You can move it 20 feet there.

LAURA: I can move it 60 feet.

MATT: Well, the range is 60 feet, but as a bonus action it moves 20.

LAURA: I see, okay.

TALIESIN: That's why I was like, get it closer.

MATT: Next, the giant's turn. It stays unconscious for the duration until something hits it. Yeah, so it's a minute.

LIAM: Until we touch it, so we need to get in a Goodfellas circle around it to decide who's going to beat the shit out of him, and don't touch it before that moment.

LAURA: We have a whole minute?

LIAM: Caleb says. Yeah.

MATT: Potentially, guys, here, figure out what your plan is until someone touches it.

LAURA: I can heal Molly while that's going on, then.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to give Molly a healing potion.

TRAVIS: He doesn't roll to wake up or anything?

MATT: No, he doesn't. He stabilizes.

LIAM: I'm going to move back by where Fjord is right now, behind that column.

MARISHA: Me and you take the head, maybe we can--

MATT: Moving which one?

LIAM: Stand me by Fjord, to the north.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Yeah.

SAM: I'm going to take a healing potion.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: 2d4, I think I roll it.

TALIESIN: Does she roll the healing potion if I take it, or do I roll it?

MATT: It doesn't matter who rolls it, really.

TALIESIN: Okay, because I was curious if my locket gives me-- does it count as my hit dice or no?

MATT: Well, healing potion isn't hit dice. Hit dice is only when you're taking a short rest.

LAURA: That's good. Seven plus two, so nine points of healing.

TALIESIN: Okay.

ASHLEY: Thank you, Jester.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

LAURA: You're welcome, I'm sorry it's kind of a weak thing, though.

ASHLEY: I give her an awkward side hug.

LAURA: (gasps) Thank you. I give you a big waist hug back.

ASHLEY: Oh.

TALIESIN: I'm going to crawl behind there, and at the very least I can--

MATT: Behind where?

TALIESIN: To the west, behind that rock right there. I can, at the very least, keep trying to give him disadvantage on at least one attack.

LAURA: I'm going to go northeast.

MATT: Where, like over here?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Anybody else?

MARISHA: Yasha and I are going to flank his head.

LIAM: I'll form the head.

MATT: Okay, so you're going here, and Yasha's going here, is that what you're doing?

MARISHA: Yeah, we want to both try and get him in the head.

ASHLEY: I want to put points down on his--

MATT: Well, you can't both go for the head, if you're flanking. Either you can both get by the head--

MARISHA: That's what I'm saying. We flank his head.

MATT: Oh I see.

MARISHA: Sorry. I used poor language. We're both by his head.

MATT: That's okay. All right.

SAM: Then I'll walk around the other side of the pillar so I get a good clean shot. Am I within 30 feet? I want to be within 30 feet.

MATT: Within 30 feet, you would be there.

LAURA: Oh god.

SAM: (crossbow loading) Ready to go.

MATT: Who's taking the first shot?

LAURA: Then as soon as his eyes start to flutter open, right?

LIAM: Whoever hits big hit first.

TALIESIN: Or also, because he'll get the one legendary, but other than that, it's whatever we can get the fullest round.

LIAM: Whoever can do the most damage with one attack should go first.

MATT: Who's attacking first?

LAURA: Who's going first?

ASHLEY: I feel like you could do the most damage.

LAURA: Do it! Go, Beau!

MARISHA: Okay. I look at Yasha and I'll go down first. Right after me. Okay, ready? I'm going aim right for his other eye socket, the other one that Nott hit, and come down right in the middle, try and gore his head out.

MATT: Go for a roll. It's a melee attack, you have advantage because he's unconscious.

MARISHA: Please don't fuck up on a sleeping guy. 14 and 15.

MATT: Okay. It's an auto-crit, because he's unconscious.

LAURA: (gasps) Auto-crit!

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: It's with your staff.

MARISHA: Oh god, it's a one.

MATT: Aw. Two damage, plus--

MARISHA: Plus four, so six damage. That sucks.

LAURA: Oh, that is painful.

MATT: As you slam down, it hits right off the ocular socket, and skids off the skull, (growl) the eye shoots open, the other one still swollen from the shot earlier, opens as well. (roaring)

MARISHA: I take my bonus action and Three Stooges style, go poke, right in his eye. That's a natural 18.

MATT: You still get advantage because he's prone.

MARISHA: Okay, let me get that crit. No, 18 though.

TRAVIS: Damn it, that would be great. Crit eye poke!

MARISHA: God, a one again. Five damage. Lot of crappy damage rolls.

MATT: Poof, right in the eye. (roaring) The eye closes instinctually, and the arms begin to flail, as it's trying to--

SAM: Are we allowed to attack, or no?

MATT: No, because that's the end of Beau's turn, now it's Fjord's turn.

TRAVIS: Right.

MATT: At the end of Beau's turn, it's going to go ahead and use its recovered legendary action to--

LAURA: Can you run away before he can get an opportunity of attack on you?

TALIESIN: Technically he hasn't had a-- oh, no, he did, because it's a whole round back, nevermind.

MATT: It's been a number of rounds.

TALIESIN: I'm working every bloody angle I can think of.

SAM: We weren't holding our action for when they-- I guess we never said it.

MATT: You didn't declare it.

SAM: Oh, fuck. I thought it was implied, we were just waiting for it to wake up.

MARISHA: I thought you said, who's going to attack first, we were going to Goodfellas it. We were going to do that.

MATT: Okay, well, from now on if you're going to hold your action, please specify that. Those who were nearby needed to hold an action, that would be you, Molly.

MARISHA: Can I then move and try and jump over him so I then flank him with Yasha? Can I use my movement to get to the other side?

MATT: No, because if you guys were holding your action to the trigger of you attacking, then they're all going before you do that.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Cool. Take your turns.

TALIESIN: I'm going to go ahead and say, (demonic voice) You got hit in the face with a piece of lollipop! I'm going to attempt to do four psychic damage and give him--

MATT: That's a 15. 16 minus one, yeah.

TALIESIN: (sigh) Will you roll under 15 eventually? Okay.

MATT: I know, I've been rolling really fucking well tonight, I'm sorry!

LIAM: You gave him the die.

TALIESIN: I know.

MATT: It's also a DC 10, but yeah. All right.

SAM: 23 to hit.

MATT: You have disadvantage because he's prone.

SAM: 22 to hit.

MATT: Okay. Still hits.

SAM: That is 13 points of damage.

MATT: 13 points of damage? How do you want to do this?

(cheering)

SAM: Trying not to hit Yasha or Beau, I would love the bolt to go through its belly as far as it can go.

LAURA and SAM: Right in the belly button.

MATT: As it begins to thrash about, its one hand hits the ground, kicking up all this dust and sand. The other club comes back, using it to get up off its feet, it looks like it's ready to swing out towards Yasha and Beau, who's finished slamming into the creature. At that moment, you see the exposed belly that already has gashes in it from the wound, and you wait and release right for the opening. As it sinks in, it stands up anyway, and you watch as blood begins to pour out. You hit something major, and it's starting to bleed out and it--

LAURA: I did not expect that to happen!

MATT: Takes a swing, and at this point there's already blood draining out, and the swing goes wide, hits the ground, falls back onto its butt, and proceeds to slowly go back to sleep forever.

LAURA and TRAVIS: Forever.

TALIESIN: (whisper) Shh. Go to sleep.

SAM: Do we win yet?

MATT: At which point there's a pause, this awkward quiet before the entire audience at once goes (cheering)

LAURA: I use my Thaumaturgy to start chanting, Nott, Nott, Nott, Nott!

ALL BUT SAM: (chanting) Nott, Nott, Nott, Nott!

SAM: No, don't draw any attention to me, no, don't see me, no!

TRAVIS: I look over at Caleb and say; No big deal, right?

LIAM: I pull my hood further down over my face.

MATT: The cheers continue as the large goliath steps out again with his tattoos and spiked armor, and he goes, "There we have it, the third round completion of The Mighty Nein! But one more fight stands. Congratulations!" You guys are then led over to the holding area off to the side, as you pass your friends of the Stubborn Stock.

LAURA: I grab my Spiritual Weapon as we're leaving and drag the giant lollipop out of the arena with me.

MATT: Leaving this large groove in the sand behind you. As you guys walk by, the team begins to-- there's this slow motion, like opposing little league baseball teams passing each other.

MATT, MARISHA, LAURA, and ASHLEY: Good game.

MATT: You see Darrow, who gives this, "Not too bad, well played." Gives a smile as he continues past. You see the dwarven crossbow ranger gives a grin with his big scruffy poof beard. There's the half-elf woman with two warhammers that she's spinning on the leather straps on the end. You see this really fucking old guy. This wrinkly, old prospector-looking eyes through these wrinkled slits. (hoarse greeting)

TRAVIS, MARISHA, and ASHLEY: Fucking old.

MATT: I have no other way to describe him.

TRAVIS: Old as balls.

LAURA: Is his hair long or short?

MATT: His hair's long past his shoulders, but it's super bald skullet on top. You see there's a tattooed halfling, who's got his chin in the air, grin and give you a show, and there's the human archer that has a longbow that's at the ready. All of them walk by, all six of them, into the center of the arena.

SAM: As we walk by, can I try to untie the old guy's shoelaces?

MATT: Make a sleight of hand check.

SAM: 20.

MATT: (laughs) He does not notice. It's not a shoelace, unfortunately. There's a boot lace. You untie it. You don't know how much of an effect it will have.

TRAVIS: You just killed that old man. Well done, Nott.

LAURA: They looked pretty cool.

MARISHA: They did.

LAURA: Do you think we looked that cool?

MARISHA: I liked how the archer was walking around ready, all the time, maybe we should do that.

LAURA: Yeah. Nott, always keep your crossbow loaded.

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: But how will I drink?

MATT: As you guys make your way into the holding area, the doors close once more. As the goliath, Jermai Kull shouts out, "For the final match of the tournament, and the final round, the Stubborn Stock!" The audience big shouts, screams, hands in the air, then silence. (monster shriek) The gates on the side open as they all circle around and look ready, not able to really ascertain the direction. All the gates open, and then barreling through at the far side, you see a large 20-foot dragonoid creature with a long snout, wings that have been carved and cut to where it cannot fly, and it's lumbering forward without its flight. No arms, just the wings, giant clawed legs, and a long tail with a large poison stinger at the end. This is a wyvern. A wyvern that's been prevented flight, and comes barreling straight to the center. They immediately go into a formation to accept the creature as it goes. Darrow rushes up with his battleaxe and starts cutting into the creature. You see this divine energy flicker off the arc as it slams into the side of this, this flash of radiant energy off of his battleaxe. He pulls away, his long black ponytail swishing behind from the arc of the blow. As he ducks out of the way, the tail swings and he ducks underneath it. The archer pulls back an arrow and the arrow flashes bright blue-green energy before it strikes and bursts into arcane energy on the side of this wyvern. It turns around and grabs the dwarf by the head and begins to thrash around with him in his jaws, throwing him about ten feet, he skids to the ground, falls unconscious in the first round.

LAURA: Just like you, Molly!

MATT: The old armored guy pulls up a symbol from his chest and begins to chant in the wrong direction, before the halfling grabs him and spins him this way, and he goes, "Right, ha!" and continues his chants. Another weapon, a Spiritual Weapon appears and apparates, but it looks like a large club of stone that begins to slam. The wyvern spins around and its tail manages to impact the belly of the old guy as he finishes his chant, and you watch him go limp and fall to the ground.

MARISHA: Guys, I feel like we got the better end of the deal on this draw. Kind of glad I'm not fighting this thing.

MATT: The halfling with the tattoos tears his shirt down and exposes all these tattoos on his chest, and he slaps them and begins to chant in a Haka-style chant. He begins to (chanting). As he's doing this chant, all of his allies that are standing begin to get revved up, before he rushes in and pulls a blade and strikes at the wyvern, carving into its side.

LAURA: Yasha, you should do that.

MARISHA: We should rip off these guys' aesthetic completely.

ASHLEY: I just like the idea of the formation.

MARISHA: Yeah, formations are cool.

MATT: You watch as the dwarven crossbow ranger rushes up and brings the cleric back to health. The cleric comes to consciousness and then brings through a quick casting of a spell off to the side, the-- what's the other one there, it was the--

LAURA: Was the old guy the cleric?

MATT: The old guy's the one that went down, and-- actually, no, the dwarf you thought was down actually gets back up. He wasn't unconscious, just knocked really hard. He gets up, makes sure the cleric is up. The cleric heals some people around them and they begin to curl around it. They continue to strike and back and forth, the audience is breathless at moments. The wyvern jumps up on top of one of the walls, its stinger spins around and jams into Darrow. You see Darrow, the leader, takes a blow to the chest, and he goes unconscious on the ground before the wyvern pounces on him and starts tearing into the body.

LAURA: He's eating him!

MATT: The halfling, who's still continuing this chant, rushes forward, leaps onto its back and begins carving at the back of its neck. The elderly cleric begins approaching, still chanting in his mind and he's unleashing heal spells, and occasionally throwing a bolt of energy, an electrical divine bolt of energy strikes the side of the wyvern. The dwarven ranger unleashes strike after strike of the crossbow and the wyvern's hitting whatever comes near it. Two more of the members go unconscious and it gets down to just three on their side, before they manage to continue to stab into its side. Like a long-running bull fighting ring, both sides are exhausted at this point. Three of the six are down and the wyvern's still standing. Darrow has gotten back up and is breathing hard. He backs around the side and they've all surrounded the wyvern who's feeling cornered at this point, blood pouring from different wounds on its body. It gives another loud shriek. It turns around towards the elderly cleric and charges him and with a giant sweep of its jaw, sends him about ten, 15 feet in the air before he lands and rolls, unconscious on the ground.

SAM: Does the shoe fall off?

MATT: There's two left. The boot does dislodge and arc an additional ten feet before resting away from--

TRAVIS: Catching on the power line.

MARISHA: Knock down the shoes.

MATT: With that, the two standing members which are Darrow and the halfling both charge in. The halfling gives a pat on Darrow's shoulder and shouts out a phrase in a language you don't understand. Darrow seems to embolden his muscles, rushes in for a strike and carves down with his battleaxe into the back of the neck after it slammed into the cleric. As the blade sinks in about five or six inches, the large battle cry that it gave shrinks back into this weird withering screech. As it whips around, Darrow pulls his battleaxe out and backs away a few steps. The wyvern falls to its knees and with that Darrow spins the battleaxe in his hands and carves off the rest of its head with two, three, four strikes before it collapses. With that (cheering).

LAURA: I use Thaumaturgy to say in the audience, "The Mighty Nein are cooler still."

MATT: (chuckles) The cheers are deafening at this point. The gates open in front of you as the emcee walks out once more and goes, "An incredible fight by the Stubborn Stock! Bring out our other winners, The Mighty Nein!" The audience goes into loud cheers. You guys step out into the arena. The same crew's coming out and dragging the body of the wyvern off down into the depths of where it was originally unleashed and the doors close behind. The clerics rush out and bring to consciousness the other members of the Stubborn Stock. They all eventually rise, beaten and bruised and as winded as a lot of you look. They give you a look as you approach and it's a "well done" smile. Wordless, but a nod of respect. Then you to the right side of Jermai Kull, them to the left. "Raise your arms! For today on this Harvest Close, you are the victors!" The crowd goes crazy once more, flowers and bits of rice grain and all sorts of things are thrown into the center of the ring in part of the celebration.

LAURA: Throw some money instead!

MATT: There are copper flung from the audience, from the row. You guys take that moment. While it's frustrating to share it, maybe, you made it. One of the gates on the opposite side opens up and a group of seven individuals begin to approach in various robes. You recognize a lot of them as people that were in the lounge earlier before you entered this actual arena. They're carrying a small chest of iron and dark set wood and as they place it on the ground, they begin to pull out sacks of money. They're presenting you the divided prize. That's three rounds for the group and each round was 200 gold. That's 600 gold that you guys get to divide and then the final pot was 2,000 divided amongst the two teams. An additional 1,000 to your team. So 1,600 gold.

TRAVIS: Not bad.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: As the money's delivered to you, you acquire your reward. There's a final burst of cheers from the audience and you're escorted back into the holding area where the other groups have already left. They close the doors behind and it seems like the fanfare's over, the attention on you, momentarily, has faded and it's just you guys, the clerics, and the other group, the Stubborn Stock.

LAURA: Did you say all the politicians have already left as well?

MATT: Last you saw, they were up in the stands.

LAURA: Oh, okay. Okay.

MATT: You guys just got back to the holding area, taking a breath for yourself.

TALIESIN: Is there a heal spell in the house? (groan)

MATT: Darrow goes, "That's a really good question. Clerics?" The clerics say, "We've used most of them, but I can offer a couple." They come up and they give you a heal. You heal eight hit points.

TALIESIN: That helps.

LAURA: Heal Yasha too, she's really low.

MATT: Yasha, you get one and then that's a ten. You heal ten. Then two other spells are delivered to the opposing side. The other team.

LAURA: Yeah, because they had a lot more people that fell, actually, so they probably need it really bad.

TRAVIS: That was very well fought. Impressive.

MATT: "I appreciate that. I say the same to your team. That was no small feat. I mean, literally. It was a very large feet on that gentleman."

LAURA: But a very tiny dick, as was pointed out by our friend, Beau.

MATT: "As I heard that from across the way."

MARISHA: Really, he doesn't catch nuance though, so.

MATT: "That's okay."

MARISHA: Good to know for next time.

MATT: "Apparently giants do not suffer the same insecurities that most people in this town does."

LIAM: What happens now? Do we just go home after this or is there some sort of soirée afterwards?

MATT: "Oh, there is, but in the lounge area. Come!"

LIAM: Who is invited to the party?

MATT: "Well, the winners, of course."

MARISHA: Is there free booze?

MATT: "Most likely."

MARISHA: All right.

MATT: "Come on!"

TALIESIN: I need a drink.

MATT: The dwarf behind you goes, "Oh, aye. I could go with that one too. (grunts)" He's holding his back. The half-elf who had the two warhammers goes, "Oh, don't worry, honey." Scruffs his hair. He goes, "Stop it!" He puts his arm around her waist and two walk off together.

TRAVIS: Dwarf got game.

LAURA: They're cute together.

MATT: You're lead back to the lounge where you had originally signed up for this, also the same place where you had overheard the conversation with Starosta. As you enter now, it's still that low-lit interior with the fine furniture, cushions. The food spread has been refilled. The drinks are poured. The servants are going around with their trays to make sure that everyone has opportunity to eat and drink as you go. Inside, however, it is a little busier than the last time you recall. The Starosta, Wyatt, is there as well, currently entertaining a few guests in there. There's a couple of well-dressed merchants that look like they're dressed in the same way that many of travelers from the Menagerie Coast are. There's one of them who looks like they're wearing clothing that a little more exotic than you're familiar with. You do also see, within this area-- let's see here. You see Lawmaster Orentha Stonegrasp, there with her curled, gray hair, the older dwarven Lawmaster of Zadash.

LAURA: Oh, she's the one that we talked to before.

MATT: Briefly, yeah. You had one encounter with. Alongside her is Dolan Thrym and two other people you haven't met.

SAM, MARISHA, and LAURA: Dolan.

LAURA: The guy from the--

SAM: Our Dolan.

LIAM: Are they totally visible to us? What are their physical appearance?

MATT: Oh the what-- what?

LIAM: The people that are with Dolan, what do they look like?

MATT: Oh. They both appear to be wearing similar dull gold robes as to what you've seen members of the King's Hall wear. But they're a little more casual. They're not quite as presentory or "in-the-office" mode.

TRAVIS: The individuals that are in the more exotic than we're used to, what can we see of them? What do they look like?

MATT: Well, there's two people dressed in merchant garb that you see, the colors and the silks and the billowing pants and the jewellery is very reminiscent of Menagerie Coast where it has a lot of finger chains that attach to rings and it's this very presentory jewelry, this classic European in visual aesthetic. You've seen it around in town where you grew up so you gather these people are from Menagerie Coast folk. The one who looks very exotic has very light linen outfit that is a dull egg-shell white, but then has trim that is gold and purple. The pants are a deep blue. Short black hair, dark skin, bright smile, but you don't notice any other cultural touchstones that you have any previous experience with.

LAURA: Have I ever seen an outfit like that before?

MATT: You may have seen things similar to it passing through your town from a distance or from your mom's place of business, but nothing that you would necessarily know. Roll a history check, actually.

SAM: She knows her history.

LAURA: 19?

MATT: Actually. You get the sense that this is probably Marquesian. He's probably travelled from Marquet, which is a long way away. Very rare that you find people coming all the way from Marquet to the Empire, especially. Menagerie Coast a little more often, but this is something different. ou approach and enter, the Stubborn Stock immediately scatter to the food and drink. Starosta Wyatt, who you had seen briefly but not actually engaged with before, stands up as tall as a halfling can as you approach with his curly, matted hair and the shocks of white and gray on the side. His arms open and he goes, "Congratulations! I just had to come and tell you personally a fantastic display. Come closer, please, I want to meet all of you." He starts putting hands out to meet you. "What's your name?"

ASHLEY: Hello. I am Yasha.

MATT: "Yasha. Pleasure to meet you. Fantastic performance. You're a mighty warrior. I'm really impressed."

ASHLEY: Thank you very much.

MATT: "Oh. You are?"

TALIESIN: Molly. Charmed.

MATT: "Molly Charmed. Good, pleasure to meet you."

TALIESIN: That'll do.

MATT: "Fantastic. You, miss?"

LAURA: Lady Fancypants McGee.

MATT: "That's a curious name."

LAURA: So nice to meet you.

MATT: "Pleasure to meet you as well. Pants are rather fancy, well done. You there, little missy?"

SAM: Hi. I'm just Pam.

MATT: "Pam. Pleasure. Shy. That's okay, that's allowed. What's your name?"

LIAM: Caleb.

MATT: "Caleb. Pleasure, pleasure to meet you. You are?"

MARISHA: Beau.

MATT: "Beau. Well, pleasure to meet you as well. And you, sir?"

TRAVIS: Fjord. It's been an honor fighting in your Victory Pit.

MATT: "Oh, well, I will tell you, a brilliant display of skill and precisely the kind of showmanship the fine people of Zadash need right now. I appreciate your being a part of this. It's well-earned victory and--"

SAM: Was this person in the conversation I was spying on before?

MATT: Yes. He was the one who was being notified. This is the Starosta of Zadash.

SAM: Okay.

TRAVIS: Have tensions eased in the city a bit since, you know, the incident?

MATT: "The incident?"

TRAVIS: Well, in the tower with the-- yeah.

MATT: "Oh, right. Well, we've taken care of that for the time being. Repairs have been made, the tower's back where it was. The individuals you probably want to talk to about that are over there in the corner." They were faced away from you when you first entered, but looking out from the far window that leads to the outside, you see two figures faced away, looking outward, holding glasses of wine. It looks to be the two figures you saw when you first entered the ring, Oremid Hass, the headmaster of the Zauber Spire. Or the Halls of Erudition.

LAURA: Then the dude in the white robes?

MATT: The dude in the white robes.

MARISHA: Oh shit.

LIAM: They were the two that were just pointed out to all of us.

MATT: Yes. They were just facing away from you guys. Wyatt Fedar says, "If you want to enquire the specifics, they'd be the ones to talk to. I will say, I've recently been notified by Stonegrasp." He points over to the Lawmaster, who's in conversation on the side with her own people. "That you had already completed some dangerous contract work for the city, is that correct?"

TRAVIS: That's indeed true, yeah. We found ourselves in harm's way. We're always looking for the next bit of adventure to put some coin in our pockets and do the city some good.

MATT: "That's fantastic."

LAURA: We beat a spider.

MATT: "That's the one she mentioned. That thing had been a problem for some time, I hear, so it's greatly appreciated. You've done twice now, a great service for this city. Well, this evening is yours to celebrate. Things shifting as they are, we may have need of upstanding and skilled citizens of the Empire such as yourselves in the near future. Should you be interested, that is."

LAURA: Is everything okay, Starosta? You seem rather stressed. I'm good at spotting these things.

MATT: "I appreciate that. My position here comes with a number of responsibilities so at any given point in time I'm probably am very visibly stretched, but I'm doing the best I can. I appreciate that. Where might we contact you, should we be so interested?"

TRAVIS: Well, we're frequently at the-- what the name was the--

LAURA: The Leaky Tap.

TRAVIS: The Leaky Tap. Yep.

MATT: "Leaky Tap Tavern, okay."

TALIESIN: Frequently, not always.

LAURA: Yeah. Sometimes we stay at the Pillow Trove, you know.

TALIESIN: Sometimes we're out and about.

MATT: "All right. Well, good to know. Should we have need of you, we'll know where to come and find you."

TRAVIS: Actually, on the Pillow Trove: you know, sometimes people don't quite know the services we do for the city. Sure would help if we had some sort of slip or badge that would allow us to move more freely, you know?

LIAM: Through the gates.

MATT: "Oh well, that's not a worry, I don't think. Simon!" Hits the side of the chair and one of the crownsguard comes up, but a more decorated crownsguard. Looks like he holds more status and he goes, "Yes, Starosta?" He looks about and says, "Can we ensure that the rest of your body of soldiers understand that these fine champions of this year's Harvest Close festival are allowed entry and exit from our fine Tri-Spires?" He's like, "Yes, sir. We will make sure that the Crownsguard are aware of The Mighty Nein and their ability in and out unimpeded."

TRAVIS: Most gracious of you.

LAURA: Thank you so much. What is your name?

MATT: "Oh, I'm Jeremiah. Captain Jeremiah. I'm-- anyway. Well done, well fought." He takes a step back out of the conversation and you get the sense that there's a little bit of a hierarchy there where the Starosta, not meaning to, but there's a very much, "I should not be part of this conversation," and he steps out of it. "Well. Very well. Look, enjoy your well earned evening of revelry as much as you can. I have a sense there are some stressful days ahead so enjoy it. Rest well." Takes his glass and drinks to you.

SAM: To a better tomorrow!

MATT: "Indeed, young girl." He turns around and sits up on the couch, and re-engages in conversation with one of his various guests.

TRAVIS: He certainly seems stressed.

SAM: He's going to die tomorrow in war.

TRAVIS: What?

SAM: We all are.

TRAVIS: What are you talking about?

SAM: Didn't I tell you guys? There's a war starting tomorrow?

TRAVIS: Did you?

SAM: I overheard them. Yes!

LAURA: She did tell us.

SAM: We're all going to die. We should leave now.

LAURA: We're not going to die. The war is very far away from us.

TALIESIN: I can't believe I find myself agreeing with Nott here. We should get out of town while it's still possible.

TRAVIS: Really? We're just starting to climb our way up through this thing.

TALIESIN: You leave the table when you've got the pot. You don't wait for everything to go back to the dealer.

LIAM: I think for a day or two, everyone here is going to be very preoccupied in the city. If there is anything you are thinking of doing, it would be a good time to do it.

LAURA: We should steal everything.

TALIESIN: At some point, they're going to start looking for people to fight this war, and I'm not sure I want to be around for it, because boy they know who we are now.

LIAM: What I am suggesting is a compromise. Not leaving immediately, but soon.

LAURA: I need time to go back to the Pillow Trove, you guys.

LIAM: DM, can you remind me what time of day it is?

MATT: It's past dusk now. At this point, nine o'clock in the evening.

LIAM: On past days, has Pumat's place been open this late?

MATT: It has been.

TALIESIN: I still have a giant tapestry over my shoulder.

LAURA: I like to think you did the entire fight with it.

TALIESIN: I put it down before the fight.

TRAVIS: Anyone else pick up on those two individuals in the corner?

LAURA: Well, he pointed them out, we should go talk to them.

MARISHA: They look familiar.

LAURA: What should we say?

ASHLEY: Do you want me to do the talking?

TRAVIS and TALIESIN: Yes.

ASHLEY: I was kidding.

SAM: No, you should. You weren't with us the night that all this went down, so they would not suspect you of anything.

LAURA: That's actually true.

TRAVIS: Outside your boundaries, here you go. Let's go.

ASHLEY: Fjord, can you come-- We're all going to go, right?

TRAVIS: Sure. Yeah. I'll join you. Jester?

LAURA: You want me to come, too?

TALIESIN: I actually think maybe it should be her and Beau, because they won't recognize her, and human faces tend to blend into the crowd, whereas we do not.

LAURA: I can listen to the Starosta.

TRAVIS: Fair enough.

LIAM: I am already hanging out by the door to this place. I left 30 seconds ago.

ASHLEY: Wait, but I was actually kidding.

TALIESIN: I'm not.

LAURA: You'll be great, Yasha.

SAM: Just ask them about what happened the other night and the crick that they killed.

TALIESIN: Remember how we talked about getting you out in the world more, and then you said you didn't want to, but then we said you're going to have to do it anyway?

ASHLEY: I know, but--

TALIESIN: This is those times.

ASHLEY: (sighs) Okay.

MARISHA: Come on, let's go make asses out of ourselves!

TALIESIN: She'll take care of you.

LAURA: Ask about the Xhorhasian that they fought and then ask them how they do so much cool magic. Then ask them--

SAM: Who they work for? We know who they work for. What do we need from them?

MARISHA: Names. Information.

TRAVIS: What are they worried about.

MARISHA: Where are they going to fight? Are they going to roll out people?

LAURA: Ask them how they fly.

SAM: Oh! Why don't you just act like you know more than you do? Like, (gruff voice) Whoa, I hear war's coming tomorrow. What about that?

TRAVIS: If we're going to help the city, the more we know, the better.

TALIESIN: Let's not even start making vague promises. (to Yasha) Just be yourself and you'll be fine. (to Beau) Just be anybody but yourself and you'll be fine. It's going to be great.

MARISHA: What was that about making promises?

TRAVIS: As they start walking over, I'm going to wide flank to the left--

MATT: Wait, so who's going where?

MARISHA: Me and Yasha are going to go talk to the wizards.

MATT: Beau and Yasha are going there?

LAURA: You're not going to go too?

TRAVIS: No, these two.

LAURA: Oh jeez. I'm going to constantly stay within a few feet of the Starosta, but not like in a weird way. I just want to like overhear his conversations and see if he's talking about war and stuff.

TRAVIS: I'd like to flank to the left and keep an eye on the crowd to see if anyone pays attention to two strangers approaching.

MATT: Okay. It seems that the cluster of merchants that he had originally mentioned are keeping pretty close to the Starosta. They're probably in the business of discussing future transactions and business. You gather probably more on the Starosta making connections in preparation for what's about to transpire.

LIAM: Is it really crowded in here? Are there a lot of people?

MATT: There's about twenty or so people in the chamber. The chamber's maybe about 40 feet by 40 feet. It's fairly packed.

LIAM: I am going to send Frumpkin dancing around people's feet to follow Yasha and Beau, and take a seat in a chair on the side of the room as close to the door as possible.

MATT: You find a chair, everyone seems to be standing and conversing.

MARISHA: It's okay. Fjord's been teaching me how to talk to people.

ASHLEY: Do you want to take the lead?

MARISHA: Sure. I walk up to Orenid Hass. Oremid.

MATT: They're both faced away and they're looking out. There's a window that's open that leads out into the main Victory Pit and then there's the sky, which is mostly clouds, occasionally you see a break with some stars. They're in the middle of a conversation, but it's hushed.

MARISHA: I grab Yasha behind on the small of her back. I walk her up to the window, and I'm like: Yeah, and there's actually a really great view--

MATT: They both immediately stop and turn over to look at you.

ASHLEY: I can't even imagine the beauty.

MARISHA: Right? It's such a great view. Over there is the Cobalt Soul.

MATT: "Pardon me, can we help you?" You glance over, and you can see Oremid Hass, at first glance: squat, maybe five-foot-three, but a wide body, like Wolverine proportions. Very dark, ruddy brown skin with eyes that are black like obsidian that sparkle when you look at them. The hair is very short and curled, and there's this very strongly inset dimple wrinkle when he smiles with teeth that are dull gray in color. There's something not quite human about him, but also very welcoming. As he turns towards you, there's a bit of dust that is loosened from the edges of his ears, and it (air puffing). It's a strange phenomenon. With long reddish-gold robes, his arms are folded in the sleeves where you can't see them. He says, "I apologize, we've taken time away from the window." The other gentleman turns towards you, and you can see now, very close, an older gentleman, probably 70s or so, skin slightly jaundiced or yellowed in color versus the usual pigmentation here. Bald on top, but longer gray-white hair that goes past the shoulders, the same white and gold robes. He smiles, but he looks like he's not enjoying the pleasantries of the space, but then puts on a face as soon as he notices your arrival and gives a nod. "I recognize both of you. You were part of this fight ordeal, The Mighty Nein, correct?"

MARISHA: We were. I recognize you, too. I feel like we've met before. Maybe at a gala previously?

MATT: "It's possible. I do not recall, but if so, it is good to see you again. I'm sorry."

MARISHA: Beau.

MATT: "Beau, I am Oremid Hass. I am the Headmaster of the Halls of Erudition. This is my compatriot, Master Trent Ikithon."

MARISHA: Trent Ikithon.

MATT: He turns and goes, "It is a pleasure to meet you. I saw what you did today as well. It was a very majestic display of skills, quite."

ASHLEY: Thank you very much.

MARISHA: Majestic is my middle name. We saw, the other day, you guys fighting off those invaders, that was very impressive. Thank you so much for your service to the city.

MATT: Oremid goes to raise his hand and Trent goes, "Oh, so you were present during the attack outside of the Zauber Spire, *ja*?"

MARISHA: Well, I mean, it was pretty public. Towers are tall.

MATT: "Well, it was an unfortunate incident that, thankfully, we were present, both of us, to take care of it before it grew too dangerous."

ASHLEY: What were you fighting?

MATT: "That seemed to be assassins sent by the Kryn dynasty, terrible cricks that attempted to steal something that should not fall into their hands."

ASHLEY: The Kryn dynasty, they are from northern Xhorhas?

MATT: "That is correct." He gives you a look over, like he's inspecting you with a very rapid and very detailed intake of your features, and he goes, "Where are you from, if I might ask?"

SAM: Abort, abort, abort.

ASHLEY: I am... from...

MATT: "Where did you grow up?"

ASHLEY: Xhorhas.

MATT: "How long have you lived here in the Empire?"

ASHLEY: Not very long. About, let's see, maybe eight months or something?

MARISHA: That doesn't look good. No.

MATT: "Fascinating."

MARISHA: She travels and has helped--

MATT: Trent isn't even looking at you. He's completely focused on Yasha.

ASHLEY: I travel. I left. (stammers) I chose not to live there anymore.

MATT: "Why did you leave?"

ASHLEY: I just, you know, it's not a great place to live. It's awful. It's martial and it's not a comfortable place to live.

MATT: Make a wisdom saving throw for me real fast.

ALL: Ooh.

LAURA: Wisdom saving throw? He just did Zone of Truth on you!

TALIESIN: Wow, that was cocked.

LAURA: Super cocked.

SAM: Super cock!

ASHLEY: Seven. Because I have a negative.

MATT: As you're talking, it's weird. He's staring at you, but for a moment you feel like there's an illusion over his mouth and his fingers. They're still not moving, but it's almost like your eyes catch something shifting unseen beneath them. It's almost like you've layered two images over each other for a brief second. Then they're gone, and he goes, "Huh. Well, very happy to have you fighting on our side."

ASHLEY: Yes, I most definitely am. I can assure you I don't stand for anything bad from the Xhorhas and I am here to help.

MATT: "Wonderful. Maintain that, please."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: "You and your friends seem to be very helpful, and a lot of help may be needed. Should you ever stray from that path, it has been a pleasure, Yasha."

ASHLEY: Yes, that's me.

MATT: He reaches out and shakes your hand once more. "I would like very much to talk to you some time in the future. You're intriguing."

MARISHA: Well, you see, you have to go through me, because I'm her booker. That's actually a conversation that me and you and the rest of The Mighty Nein can have.

MATT: "You're Cobalt Soul, aren't you?" Oremid goes, "Please, stop this interrogation. I apologize. My friend is very studious."

MARISHA: No, I am Cobalt Soul. Yeah. Super proud of the work we're doing over there.

MATT: "You have done much great work and have aided us on many occasions."

MARISHA: Everyone at the Cobalt Soul feels the same about you all at the Halls of Erudition.

MATT: Oremid Hass actually laughs and he goes, (laughs) "Look. I know that there have been tensions in the past, but, complete honesty, I really appreciate what you do over there."

MARISHA: Thank you.

MATT: "Anyway, we must be off. The evening has grown late. Is that correct?" Trent goes, "Yes, that is correct. It's been a pleasure. I look forward to our paths crossing again."

ASHLEY: Great. Same here, because this was great conversation.

MARISHA: One last question, Oremid. The Cobalt Soul's been talking about moving to the front line. Do you have any idea if we're going to get the same support from the Hall of Erudition? Because I know you're a fan of our work and we're such a mutual fan of yours.

MATT: "To the front line of what?"

ASHLEY: Ah, you know.

MATT: "We train a good number of war mages, yes. Some of our finest will be present at Bladegarden and beyond. Should things escalate any further, I'm sure a number of our circle will also join where it's necessary."

MARISHA: Beautiful.

MATT: "You have my word and the word of the Assembly."

MARISHA: Cobalt Soul's got your back too.

ASHLEY: But to be clear, do you know what you're fighting?

MATT: They both have a knowing look at each other and look back to you. Trent casts forward and says, "We have been studying for quite some time as is the nature of protecting our people here, yes, but there are still many mysteries beyond the boundaries. Why? Is there something you know that we don't?"

ASHLEY: Just if you're fighting-- I just wanted to know if you were fighting the Kryn.

MATT: "Very much so. They have killed many of our people. The skies to the east darken, and we want to keep that darkness from spreading. We wish the sun to continue to rise on this empire, and currently it does not over the Ashkeeper Peaks."

ASHLEY: I wish you the best of luck.

MATT: "Thank you. If you're ever near Rexxentrum, find me. I would like to continue this conversation."

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: Oremid Hass speaks up and goes, "All right. Well, anyway, a wonderful night to you all. Rest well. Congratulations and well fought."

TRAVIS: DM, can I ask, is his name Trick-a-tick-a-ting-tong? What was his name?

MATT: Trent Ikithon. I-K-I-T-H-O-N.

LAURA: Oh, I spelled it right!

MATT: You're welcome.

SAM: I ran a half-ikithon once.

TRAVIS: Boo!

ASHLEY: Where did he say we could meet up?

TRAVIS: Rexxentrum.

ASHLEY: Rexxentrum?

MATT: Rexxentrum, yeah.

TRAVIS: Which is where the Soltryce is.

MARISHA: Rexxentrum. Soltryce Academy.

MATT: They exit, and you watch as Oremid, halfway through the room, as he has his arms folded, goes, "Oh my goodness. Look at you!" and gets down and starts going towards Frumpkin and is like, "Well, how did you get in here?"

MARISHA: Oh my god, he's got a weakness.

MATT: He begins reaching for--

LIAM: Hass or Ikithon?

MATT: No. Oremid Hass immediately goes down and goes from this completely well-established presentary persona to this child-like wonder of this wonder at this cat. He's like, "Come here. Please. I would like to touch on you."

LIAM: I'm taking all this in first person.

MATT: Yep.

MARISHA: Let's remember this for later.

TRAVIS: My whiskers!

LIAM: That's all I can take. I get out of it.

MATT: Okay. You pull out of it, and you watch as Oremid actually picks up Frumpkin and holds him in his hand and starts petting him like (coos). They both continue to walk towards the exit.

LIAM: I lean forward and look at the ground.

MATT: Okay. As they exit the chamber, Oremid, outside, goes ahead and sets Frumpkin down and pets his head for a moment. "Go on. Don't get stuck inside." They both leave and exit into the night.

TALIESIN: That looked like it went well. How bad was it?

SAM: What information did you glean?

MARISHA: Man, Yasha's super honest.

SAM: Why? What happened?

MARISHA: Super forthcoming.

ASHLEY: I figured it's like one of those things, that if you're going to get caught, you might as well tell the truth because it's easier to remember. I don't know. I panicked.

TRAVIS: Well, did you say anything you didn't want to?

ASHLEY: I don't think so. Did I say anything that was bad?

MARISHA: I don't think so.

LIAM: Maybe where you are from and how short a time you have been here.

ASHLEY: Oh, I said both of those things.

TALIESIN: You said both of those things?

LIAM: Yes, you did.

MARISHA: You definitely made it seem like she could be a Xhorhasian spy definitely there to potentially kill them. In fact, I think that's exactly what they thought might have been happening.

LIAM: Yeah, but you also dropped a horse apple in front of them as well.

MARISHA: Yeah, it was kind of great.

TRAVIS: What'd she do?

LIAM: She mentioned a little insight on the pending war when no one knows about the pending war.

MARISHA: I think they're going to look at you as a good resource. I think that's what you revealed yourself as.

ASHLEY: Either that, or they think that I'm a Xhorhasian assassin, and I am not.

MARISHA: What the fuck is the Kryn though?

SAM: The Kryn is the kingdom over there.

TRAVIS: Kryn.

ASHLEY: It's the Kryn dynasty.

MARISHA: Oh, the Kryn.

LAURA: Kryn is the empress of the drow, you guys.

TRAVIS: The green is something else.

LAURA: I'm not here. I'm next to Starosta.

TALIESIN: It didn't devolve into a punching fest. That's pretty good.

LAURA: Is the Starosta still here?

MATT: The Starosta is still here, yes.

LAURA: Okay, I'm still there.

MATT: Make a perception check.

MARISHA: I was envisioning a big, evil monster.

LAURA: 20.

MATT: Okay. You overhear the gist of most of the conversation, best you can without catching too much attention to yourself. Over the next 20 minutes or so, you catch what amounts to them discussing possible future difficulty in crossing border boundaries between the empire, the Menagerie Coast, and imports. The necessity of them, but having to make sure they go through very stringent processes in doing so, with the promise of coming conflict. He doesn't outright say that they're at war yet, but the Starosta is essentially laying the groundwork for maintaining trade lines through the Wuyun Gorge, across the Cyrios Mountains. Wanting to make sure that the port towns of the Menagerie Coast still have access to get the necessary goods to the empire, not only to maintain their people, but to get them as quickly as possible to the front to the east.

TRAVIS: Right, allies.

MATT: Yeah, they're trying to basically establish-- what initially seemed like it may have been a pleasantry based arrival on their part, they have been pulled into this conversation with the Starosta out of necessity from his standpoint. You can sense there's a bit of desperation in his voice. He's generally trying to do the best job he can and feels overwhelmed in the moment and is trying as best he can to cover it.

SAM: Yasha. Just so we know and can-- I trust you. But if there's anything that we need to know, now would be a good time to tell us so that we're not in danger. Are you a Xhorhasian spy come here to do bad things to the empire?

ASHLEY: No.

TALIESIN: Oh my god, you've discovered why she's been with my circus all this time, working as a bouncer.

SAM: Well, why are you here then? Why did you flee?

ASHLEY: Well, I don't know if that is any of your business at this time.

SAM: Well, I want to know in case they're going to come try to kill you and kill me by accident.

TALIESIN: If they try and kill you to get answers, then, this way, you don't know anything. Then you're really not worth anything.

TRAVIS: Plausible deniability.

SAM: Plausi-mon-a-mon-a-minity?

TRAVIS: There was an M in there that wasn't supposed to be.

TRAVIS: Plausible demi-ability.

LIAM and TALIESIN: Sea anemone. Sea anemone.

SAM: I just want to know if you're on their side or the Xhorhasian side so that when this war comes, that we're not caught in the crossfire. That's all.

TALIESIN: What side are you on?

SAM: I'm on my side.

TALIESIN: Exactly.

ASHLEY: I'm not on any side, but I do think what we are fighting is something very terrible.

SAM: You mean what *they're* fighting?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: In Xhorhas?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

SAM: The Kryn?

ASHLEY: Yeah. I mean, we heard about them in the north and they're mostly dark elves that settled in a massive ruin that was completely forbidden for us to travel to.

SAM: Did they do bad things to your people?

ASHLEY: Yeah. The ones that went there. They do keep their skies dark. It's some kind of dark magic that we don't know of that keeps the sun away. They've enslaved men and beasts and demons under their banner.

SAM: That sucks.

MARISHA: Have you seen the dark skies?

ASHLEY: I've never been there because it's hard to get there and it's not someplace I would want to go alone.

SAM: Did you know anyone who went?

ASHLEY: I've heard stories, but never anybody personally.

TRAVIS: Are you interested in going there?

ASHLEY: I've always been curious. Just to see with my own eyes, but they've done so many bad things that I would want to fight them.

MARISHA: I think Molly's right. I think Molly and Nott are right. I think they're going to try and start enlisting soldiers here. Are they doing the same where you're from?

ASHLEY: I don't know.

LIAM: During this whole talking, I look in and see where my cat is.

MATT: Frumpkin is maybe 20 feet outside the door and is waiting for you guys to exit.

LIAM: Okay. I tell him to wait there for me.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: If we're really going to be pulling out of this city that fast, haha. Maybe we should take advantage of these new badges we have and hit up the Tri-Spires.

TALIESIN: Finish the evening off right. I'll honestly say I'd like to get out of here as soon as possible so they don't think we're running from the news. We get out of here before the news hits.

TRAVIS: Fair enough. All at once?

MARISHA: Where do we go?

TALIESIN: I don't care. I'm just happier moving than staying still.

LIAM: How quickly are you thinking?

TALIESIN: If it were just the two of us, I'd say leave tonight, but--

LIAM: How about 24 hours from now?

TALIESIN: See if we can make it faster, but 24 hours is not terrifying.

TRAVIS: Dusk tomorrow.

TALIESIN: No later than dusk. I would like to get out before news starts to spread. Before they decide to start locking down the holes.

LIAM: Yeah. One more day. Just to get supplies and get ready for the road again.

TALIESIN: That's a fair point.

SAM: Should we divide up the money?

MARISHA: Yes!

TRAVIS: It's at least 220 gold each.

SAM: Great!

MATT: As you guys are in the process of finishing this up and people are starting to leave from the lounge area and they're starting to close down, Darrow comes up with his troupe-- they're a ways into their cups-- and he's like, “Friends, before we shove off and probably never meet again, I just wanted to say it's been an absolute pleasure to get to meet you, to watch you fight, for you to watch us fight. All the luck in your future endeavors.”

TRAVIS: Same to you. It was very impressive. Where does fate take you after this night?

MATT: “Well, as far as I know, we're probably heading back up to Nogvurot and continuing with our contract of sitting around and being paid for nothing.”

TRAVIS: Is that-- remind me again-- north of here? Northwest?

MATT: “Northeast-ish. East of Rexxentrum. That's where we've been stationed for the past six or seven months or so. Done a few jobs here and there.”

TRAVIS: Is this a contract that keeps on going or is there any set end date for you guys?

MATT: “No, not until they cancel it.”

TRAVIS: Man, that is rough. We've been hearing little murmurs of action-- what direction is it?

SAM: East.

TRAVIS: East of here.

MATT: “Like over on the border with Xhorhas?”

TRAVIS: Indeed. Trouble stirring up. You hear anything about that?

MATT: “Other than the fact that there have been incursions and kidnappings and stuff, it's all been small and localized within the borders, but Bladegarden's there for a reason, and Talonstadt.”

TRAVIS: Since you're familiar with that trip back and forth, anything you would recommend us checking out? Just in case we decided to wander for a bit?

MATT: “(laughter) What are you looking for?”

TRAVIS: I don't know, a good time, a bit of adventure. Maybe a bit of both.

MATT: “Hm, a good time. To be perfectly honest, if you're looking for wining, dining, and various nightly pleasures, my faith does not allow for that so I'm a very bad source, but,” and he turns around--

LIAM: I think what my friend is talking about is can you recommend any good ways to get into trouble?

MATT: “Oh. Legal trouble, or illegal trouble?”

LIAM: What you will.

MATT: “If you're going to go illegal, you can actually go just beyond the boundaries of the Empire to Shadycreek Run. Entire haven for murderers, thieves, and all sorts of strange people.

TRAVIS: Maybe if it's not so gnarly?

MATT: There is Deastok to the west, as well as Kamordah. There's quite good drink in Kamordah. There's Pride's Call if you like the jovial dwarvenfolk there. Much less dark and intense as Grimgolir, because they're right on the boundary and most of them are fighting for the war as well. Personally, Rexxentrum's got it all.”

TRAVIS: We here that. Soltryce Academy is located there as well.

MATT: “Yeah, that it is.”

TRAVIS: Do you know anybody that's graduated from that academy?

MATT: “Not privately, no. Like I said, I've only been here for about a little over a half a year. To me, it's not been too bad.”

TRAVIS: Fair enough. Well, I wish you the best.

MATT: “You as well, my friends. Drink deep. Play hard.”

TRAVIS: Indeed. Same to you.

LAURA: I'd like to stop the Starosta before he leaves the room.

MATT: Okay. You do notice, as Darrow leaves, he does have a medallion around his neck that, previously, was hidden under his armor. It is the symbol of the Dawnfather.

LAURA: It's the legal thing, after-- oh no, it's not!

MATT: The Dawnfather's legal here.

LAURA: The Dawnfather is legal here.

MATT: As the rest of the folk are exiting out, you guys have basically waited to close down the party. Most of the servants are cleaning up and finishing up the space. The Starosta begins to leave and make his way out there with his companions and they're chatting.

MARISHA: I drink all the leftover drinks that people left behind.

MATT: Classiest. Classy.

SAM: I have limitless alcohol.

LAURA: May I have a moment of your time before you leave?

MATT: “Oh yeah, of course! Jester-- ” No, you told him it was Fancypants.

LAURA: Fancypants, yes.

TRAVIS: McGee.

MATT: “Fancypants McGee.”

LAURA: Yes.

MATT: “Right, right. Yes-- ”

LAURA: My friends call me Jester.

MATT: “Fair enough. What can I do for you?”

LAURA: Well, I couldn't help but notice your body posture, for this *whole* party, has been rather tense. I don't know if you noticed, but I am a bit of a healer, and I'm from the Menagerie Coast, where I did a lot of mental healing, as well as body healing. If there's anything you need to relieve your stress, I'm very good at this. This is why I came here.

MATT: He gives a look and goes, “Uh,” and looks back and forth between his companions. He goes, “What are you insinuating?”

LAURA: I'm talking about somebody to talk to.

MATT: “Right! Right.”

LAURA: To relieve your mind of your stress!

MATT: “Right. I really appreciate that offer. Genuinely, Jester Fancypants McGee. However, such is my life-- ”

LAURA: I know you have people that work for you--

MATT: Maybe in a week. Give me some time. A lot of stuff percolating right now, but Leaky Tap, right?”

LAURA: Or the Pillow Trove.

MATT: “Or the Pillow Trove. All right, well I may have use of your services soon. Not at the moment, but soon.”

LAURA: Okay. I can help your mind! You just relieve that stress! It's somebody to talk to, it's very helpful.

MATT: “I appreciate that. Soon.” He is trying desperately to not make the wrong impression to his friends. He darts off with them into the night.

TALIESIN: Are you drinking every random cup or are you pouring them all into one cup?

TRAVIS: Suicide or one at a time?

MARISHA: No, I'm just finishing the ones that are left behind! It is an atrocity to leave alcohol on a table.

MATT: Make a constitution saving throw, Beau.

TRAVIS: Yeah! One of those was full of dip spit.

LIAM: Fjord's work.

MARISHA: 17.

MATT: Iron stomach Beauregard over here.

LAURA: You're going to have the shits later.

MARISHA: Probably.

TALIESIN: You're a trash person. I walk over and I take your last drink and drink it and salute.

MARISHA: You're a-- You--

TALIESIN: I know!

LAURA: Oh man, you guys, I was really trying to get the Starosta to talk to me.

SAM: Well, you offered him your services. I would've said yes if a strange psychoanalyst walked up to me and--

LAURA: I am a healer! I'm a really good healer.

TRAVIS: Did you tell him that he has to give you a dollar to engage your services?

LAURA: No, I told him-- I didn't give him a price, actually.

MARISHA: See, that's even shiftier.

LAURA: That means I'm really good, is what that means.

ASHLEY: You charge for these services?

LAURA: Not for friends.

ASHLEY: Oh.

LAURA: (whispering) I'm actually really shit at giving advice, but don't tell anyone, okay?

ASHLEY: I don't agree. I feel like you would be very good at it.

LAURA: Well, any time you have any problems, Yasha, you just come to me, okay?

ASHLEY: Okay. I maybe showing a little bit of pink on my cheeks.

LIAM: Are we talking about rolling at the Pillow Trove this evening? Is that what I am picking up on?

LAURA: I need to go by there anyway. How long has it been since we've been in town?

MATT: Since you've been in town? It's probably been a week and a half to two weeks.

LAURA: By this point, my mom has probably got the package here.

TRAVIS: Well, by all means, let's stop by there and then let's see if there's a fancy place for us to--

MARISHA: We have some fucking money to burn!

SAM: We need some healing potions and things.

LAURA: Yes. I bet there's places in--

TRAVIS: We'll go by Pumat's later. It'll be fine.

LAURA: We did go to the Silken Terrace!

SAM: What is the Silken Terrace?

MATT: At this point now--

LIAM: Seven, eight, nine?

MATT: Oh, no, now it's probably about 10:30, 11 o'clock.

TRAVIS: Plus, there's always one of those Pumats running around.

SAM: Okay. What's the mission for tonight?

TRAVIS: Tri-Spire. Pillow Trove. Get Jester's package. Get turnt up. Get some healing potions.

LIAM: Wait, we're getting turnt up before we go to Pumat's?

LAURA: Why not?

TRAVIS: Yeah!

LIAM: Do you think Pumat is going to be open at 2 in the morning?

TRAVIS: At Ren Faire, the more you drink, the more you spend.

LAURA: Why do we need to go now?

LIAM: We don't.

LAURA: It's late.

LIAM: Yes.

TALIESIN and LAURA: We did a lot today.

MARISHA: Oh my god, I'm so tired!

LAURA: That's probably because you just drank 15 drinks.

TRAVIS: Lead the way, Jester!

TALIESIN: Up early in the morning?

LAURA: Up early in the m-- Are we staying at the Pillow Trove?

MARISHA: Pillow Trove!

TALIESIN: Yes!

LAURA: Did you guys divide the money up?

TALIESIN and SAM: Yes.

LAURA: What did I get?

TALIESIN and SAM: 228.

SAM: And five silver.

MATT: All right. You exit from the forum, the Victory Pit, out into the night. The event is still going on so the people have filtered out. Everybody is either pretty tossed or is in the process of closing down their various cards and established places of sale. The Pentamarket is closing. The festival pushed it a little for some establishments. You make your way, walking towards the Tri-Spires, and that's we're going to take our break.

MARISHA: We're already at break!

MATT: Yeah, we're taking a break because it 8:50.

SAM: Happy Birthday!

(cheering)

MATT: We'll be right back. However, we do have our Wyrmwood giveaway. Tonight, we have the quilted maple dice tray. With our leather interior.

LAURA: Yeah, that's really cool!

MATT: You can touch it. Not only do you win it, but you win it touched by Laura Bailey. The price just went up by 20% on the Wyrmwood. The quilted maple one will go to one of you lucky winners in the US or Canada, excluding Quebec. Come into the Twitch chat. Tonight's term is “Victory.” Put in the word “Victory” in the chat to be entered, only once. More than once and you'll be disqualified. We'll come back at the end of the break to announce the winner. See you guys there in a little bit.

Break[]

[break]

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back, everybody. Before we jump back into the game, we have our winner of our fantastic dice box from Wyrmwood: it is DeadLikeCarrion. DeadLikeCarrion, congratulations. Danoba will get your information, we will get that sent out to you A.S.A.P., but well done.

MARISHA: And thank you, Paul, for getting us all ice cream!

MATT: Yes! We had break ice cream. Nobody tell my trainer.

LAURA: I had the fro-yo, because it's healthier.

MATT: You guys are leaving the Pentamarket in the late hours of the evening, making your way towards the Tri-Spires. As you approach the outskirts of the outer wall, the gates open, the guards there posted, there are three there waiting. They begin to approach as your troupe begins to arrive. One of them steps up, goes, "Hold please, we've-- Oh, right, please, you may continue."

TRAVIS: Yeah, we're them.

LIAM: Very obviously holding and petting my cat and looking at all three of them as we walk by.

MATT: One of them is the guy that kicked him originally. He's not the one that interfaced with you, but he's standing by the side there, just waiting. He watches you approach as you walk by, and he goes--

LIAM: *Guten abend.*

MATT: He swallows and doesn't respond. Just looks off in the distance.

ASHLEY: Caleb, what did you say? *Guten*--

LIAM: *Abend.*

LAURA: Good night? Hello?

LIAM: Yeah, that's--

TALIESIN: Gluten almonds.

LAURA: Have a pleasant evening.

MARISHA and ASHLEY: Gluten almonds.

TRAVIS: Where are we going?

SAM: I mean, we're going to the Pillow Trove. I support you, Jester, but I mean--

LAURA: I support you too in all of your endeavors, Nott.

SAM: Okay, then let's go there.

MATT: As you guys make your way through the streets of the Tri-Spire--

LIAM: Excuse me, apologies. I pull Beau backward by the arm. And-- no. Long enough until we fall back a bit, and wait to see that the group is not paying attention.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Can you get me into that library tomorrow?

MARISHA: Yeah. I told you a fucking secret though. I also kind of told Yasha the secret. You and Yasha know the secret.

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: It's not really that much of a secret.

LIAM: Okay, but the library is a thing that we can do before we leave this city?

MARISHA: Yeah. As long as nothing crazy happens, I'm assuming.

LIAM: I am just hoping to look at books. Is that all right?

MARISHA: I know. I know exactly what you want to do. Yeah, should be all right.

LIAM: Good. Great.

MARISHA: What are you looking for, just more spells? Or anything else in particular?

LIAM: No, I mean, spells you can find, you know, digging in 1,000 year old laboratories. I want to learn. I want what is not readily available to all.

MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: I don't know if that is something that I would be allowed to look at. What kind of clearance do you have?

MARISHA: They're not going to let you see the super secretive weird shit in the back.

LIAM: History?

MARISHA: Yeah, there's tons of history, man. They forced history down my throat.

LIAM: Okay, this is good.

MARISHA: Hey, wait though.

LIAM: Oh, that's two times I've tried to bail out of this conversation.

MARISHA: I know. Real good at it. Why are you afraid of fire?

TRAVIS: Great segue.

LIAM: Uh. Well.

MARISHA: I'm just saying, I just want to know because I'm going to be taking you around books, and your relationship with fire is, you know.

LIAM: Are you going to set the books on fire?

MARISHA: No, are you going to set the books on fire?

LIAM: I'm going to read them.

MARISHA: I'll take you in the library if you tell me why you're afraid of fire.

SAM: (whispering) Oh, manipulation!

MARISHA: One secret traded for another. It's a fair price, I think.

LIAM: Is there anyone around?

MATT: There's the group ahead of you, maybe 15 feet, and you're approaching the exterior of the Pillow Trove.

LAURA: I'm giving Yasha a piggy-back ride.

MARISHA: Do you know where to find me when you're ready?

MATT: Do you consent to this piggy-back ride?

ASHLEY: Yeah, I have my feet linked so I can monkey piggy-back ride.

MATT: That's amazing. There's the Zauber Spire, glistening and lit from beneath. Assembled, and no longer akimbo. You guys approach the exterior of the Pillow Trove. There's these steps that ascend to the entryway, the arched door frame, and you enter the beautiful--

MARISHA: I'll take you to the library as soon as I get my payment. Drinks?

SAM: We're out in public, and we're in front of a hotel.

MARISHA: Inside the hotel has drinks.

LAURA: I like how you have a handle on your mug, but you don't use the handle.

MARISHA: Well, it's a little unbalanced. I have to choose if I'm going to commit to the handle, or if I'm going to commit to the cup.

LAURA: Maybe do the thing you just did.

MARISHA: This is not bad.

LIAM: But the handle gets-- I do the same thing with this cup. I grab it by this the whole time.

MATT: As you make your way into the--

LIAM: How do you do it, Sam?

MATT: The Pillow Trove, in its beautiful marvel presentation there awaits you as you come into the well-lit interior. There's a number of candles that are hanging on small hooks in the walls, and dangle there, and the flames flicker to light the archway, and the inside. There you see, sitting at the table, going through a stack of parchment, is Madam Luenna, who you had briefly seen before in this beautiful red dress.

LAURA: She's gorgeous. Hey, that lady, that's who I was trying to look like that night, you remember, when we were at the-- yeah.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Well kept, almost bouncy brunette hair, and golden eyes, and she smiles as you enter. "Hello, how might I help you this evening?"

LAURA: Hi, do you remember me? I was here before.

MATT: "I do remember, yes. Good to see you."

LAURA: You too. Did you know we just won in the Victory Pit?

MATT: "I did not. I did not attend that portion of the festival, but congratulations!"

LAURA: Thank you, we're kind of famous now.

MATT: "That's wonderful."

LAURA: We think we might stay here tonight, too, because we thought it would be nice for The Pillow Trove to have famous people staying here for you.

MATT: "But of course. Is that a room for each of you?"

MARISHA: She's an Instagram model!

LAURA: It depends on what you want to offer us as the Victories of the Victory Pit.

MATT: "Well, I'm happy to offer you rooms at the discounted rate of the charging price we give to it. It's still an establishment."

LAURA: Oh, yes, but we would tell everybody we stayed here all the time.

MATT: "Well, it doesn't work that way, my dear."

LAURA: I'm really bad at persuading people today, apparently.

SAM: Do you want me to try?

LAURA: I'm doing a really bad job. I have a package probably here anyway, so I'm going to check on that. I'll let everybody else talk to you about how famous we are now.

MATT: "All right. How many rooms would you like?"

TRAVIS: I think two will do just fine.

MATT: "Two rooms. All right."

MARISHA: However many can bunk together, I guess.

MATT: Okay. Two rooms, purchased for the night. That would probably put you around four gold.

LAURA: That's it?! Four gold! Do you know how much she wanted to charge me before? I'm going to leave it though, because I am walking away. I'm at the front desk.

ASHLEY: Four gold for two rooms?

MATT: For each room.

TRAVIS: I'll cover the fellas' room. Here's four gold.

MARISHA: Yeah. Here's four more for me.

MATT: This was her ceding to the Victory Pit victory and return customer price. Jester, what are you doing?

LAURA: I'm going to see if my package is here from my mom.

MATT: Okay, so you head to where you went previously, which is a little side chamber. There's a young woman there waiting, who is falling asleep at the desk. "Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't see you there. Can I help you?"

LAURA: I blend in with my environment very often. It's common.

MATT: "Oh. Well, very well done."

LAURA: I have a package here, probably.

MATT: "Name?"

LAURA: Jester.

MATT: "Jester. Hold on just a second." She gets up and walks out of the room. A minute passes. Two minutes pass.

TRAVIS: Anything on the desk of value?

MATT: On the desk of this woman who has left? There looks to be a small oil lantern set there that's flickering. It's well-made.

TRAVIS: Nice pen or anything?

MATT: No, it looks like she took it with her.

TRAVIS: I keep waiting.

MATT: About five minutes pass before she enters with a small parcel under her arm, and goes, "I believe this is to you, Jester, correct?" It's a small box about that big, it says "Jester" written in nice handwriting on it.

LAURA: Oh yes, that would be the one I'm expecting. Thank you so much!

SAM: It came?

LAURA: It came, I guess! See, I told you my mom is really cool, you guys!

SAM: I'm sorry I doubted you!

LAURA: Oh my gosh!

TALIESIN: We're all going to be here to see this open, right?

LAURA: (whispers) It's probably a lot of money, so we should open it up in the rooms.

TALIESIN: Very fair.

TRAVIS: Thank you for your help. We'll retire for the evening.

SAM: Do we typically tip when someone--

MATT: She does have her hand open.

LAURA: Oh, here. Of course, of course! Here's two gold for you.

SAM: Two gold? Jesus!

LAURA: I'm very wealthy now!

MATT: Thank you very much, madam. Have a wonderful night and stay here at The Pillow Trove.

LAURA: Now we don't have to worry about things anymore, you guys!

MATT: As you guys head back, the keys are given out to both of you. The madam leads you up to your chambers. On your way up, she goes, "Are there any other services that you will require while you're staying here this evening to celebrate?"

SAM: What services are available?

MATT: "All kinds of services."

MARISHA: Bottle service?

MATT: "Wine can be delivered. Companionship can be provided."

TRAVIS: Oh shit!

TALIESIN: Massage?

ASHLEY: What kind of companionship do you have here available?

MATT: "Ah, well--" You see her trying to find the words for it. She goes, "Likely the best kind of companionship you can find."

LAURA: Not the best kind.

SAM: The best available.

TRAVIS: You don't happen to work with the Ruby of the Sea, do you?

MATT: "No, I know of her. She has a reputation. But we have fine companions here as well, to--"

LAURA: She has the best reputation, you know.

MATT: "She has a *great* reputation, yes. But she works outside of the Empire. Should you be interested, we have a number of individuals across the spectrum who would be happy to lend you an ear, and help ease your mind."

MARISHA: Jester does that too.

LAURA: Hmm? Who does that?

MARISHA: Lend an ear. Give advice. Ease your mind.

LAURA: Oh, I do ease people's *minds*.

MARISHA: Just saying that's how it sounded before, too.

SAM: Yasha, if you were to partake of a companion, what kind of companion are you interested in? Is it like a beast type of a thing, or--

LAURA: Like a tall one or a short one?

ASHLEY: I don't know, just one that I-- maybe lots?

TRAVIS: *Maybe lots?*

LAURA: What color eyes do you like the most? Do you want people with one color eye and the other color eye, like you--

MATT: "How about you come and find me when you've decided whether or not?"

MARISHA: Is there like a-- never mind.

TRAVIS: Jester, shall we?

LAURA: Yes, yes.

MATT: The madam leaves.

LIAM: Can I ask an out-of-character question? As a citizen of the Empire, how much does Caleb already know about the Cobalt folk?

MATT: The Cobalt Soul? You know of them, in the way that you know of the people at City Hall that keep all the records of buildings and such. You know it exists, everyone knows it's part of the structure, but nobody really pays much attention because it's a place of learning beyond what the usual learning process is. Certain people would.

MARISHA: Like the public libraries of today.

LIAM: Right, you're a librarian.

MATT: Kind of, yeah. Everyone knows that it exists, but the few people that really take an interest in it either end up pursuing it, or adjacently to it. Those people end up acquiring more knowledge and it becoming more prominent in the society. It's almost an unused resource, unfortunately.

LIAM: Their political affiliation?

MATT: Within the Empire? They're one of the many sanctioned places of worship for the Knowing Mistress. But they're with the Empire, they function within the Empire, and the individuals that run each Archive are appointed by the Crown. As with all places of worship in the kingdom, whoever helms those locations-- the High Priest, the High Archivist, whoever they are-- they are appointed by the Crown and work directly for the Empire. All religion here is employed by the Empire at the highest point.

TALIESIN: So long as there's a Cobalt Soul Scholastic Fair, really.

LAURA: (gasps) Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark?

MARISHA: Yes! I want my pencil set!

MATT: That's after winter, unfortunately. You have to wait until spring for those to come around again. God, I miss those.

TRAVIS: Shit. Everybody got those gifts brought to the room.

MARISHA: It felt like a festival inside your school.

MATT: Yeah, it was amazing.

LAURA: Do they still have those?

MARISHA: Let's make one for adults!

MATT: Guys! Reading's cool! No, legitimately, it is.

MARISHA: Support 826LA! Thank you to those who did.

MATT: You head to your rooms at the Pillow Trove.

LAURA: Okay, when we get the money, we should all go out and buy new outfits, and we should go have a feast, and maybe we can buy new clothes for the horses too, because I bet they would really like that.

ASHLEY: But you don't need to give us money.

LAURA: It's for everyone! I open up the box that says my name right on it. It says it right here, my name.

MATT: First off, the package, as you shake it a bit, it has various objects inside of it. It rattles a bit.

LAURA: It's not as heavy as I expected it to be.

MATT: No.

SAM: Maybe it's a check.

LAURA: That's probably what it is. I have no idea what that is.

MATT: It's about eight to ten pounds. As you open the package and unwrap it, it's pretty well wrapped, you open the parcel and on the inside there is a bag of coin about that big there.

LAURA: It's probably platinum, because it's lighter.

MATT: There is a small bundle that's wrapped with twine, and there's a letter.

LAURA: Ooh! (singing)

SAM: Beautiful handwriting.

LAURA: Yes. She's really amazing. Do you want me to read it out loud?

SAM: Yes, of course!

LAURA: Okay, okay. "My darling Jester," that's me, "I do so hope your journeys have been safe, fruitful, and wondrous. I've always wished you to see the beauty of the world around us, and while the circumstances perhaps were not the most favorable, it has allowed you the freedom to become your own woman."

SAM: That's nice!

LAURA: I spent a lot of time inside, I told you guys that. Okay. "To show all of Wildemount and beyond the gifts you have to offer, and the joys you have to give. My sweet girl, how I miss you." I miss her too, so much! "Your laughter, your energy, I've been sick in your absence." Oh, because I'm such a healer, you know, and I took care of her, so that makes me so sad. "But it is the trial any mother must endure, I suppose. You're on your own now, and while I will always miss that little girl, I'm equally eager to see the woman you will become. Tensions here are less, but not absent. Given time, I hope things will vanish into the past, and you may come to see me once more! Until then, I have included a small trifle, some things to keep you comfortable, creating, and free. I love you. Your Ruby," my mama, "Marian Lavorre." She doesn't tell many people her real name, you know.

SAM: Marian? That's a beautiful name.

LAURA: Isn't it?

TRAVIS: That's a nice letter.

LAURA: I love my mom so much.

ASHLEY: It looks like she loves you very much, too.

LAURA: Let's see what she sent us, okay? I open the little package.

MATT: Okay. The package contains a vial about that big, filled with dark liquid. You shake it there.

LAURA: Do I recognize it?

MATT: You do. She keeps it, usually, by her materials. It's a bottle of her lavender perfume.

LAURA, SAM, and MARISHA: Ooh!

SAM: Chanel!

MARISHA: That's what I was going to say! Wow!

LAURA: It smells really nice! Everybody really likes this smell!

MATT: It's a smell that's very much affiliated with her, and as you smell it, a wave of nostalgia comes over you. Your childhood flashes through you again. Within that bundle as well, you see there are five small ink vials of different colors. There's a red ink, there's a blue ink, there's a green ink, and then two black.

LAURA: Blue, green, yes!

SAM: Color printer.

MATT: Magenta, cyan. (laughs)

LAURA: This is so I can keep painting. I used up a lot of the paint that I had at the festival.

TALIESIN: Hmm?

MATT: And 200 gold in the pouch.

LAURA: 200 gold?!

SAM: That's a lot of money! For all of us.

LAURA: That is a really good amount of money. 200 gold is a lot of money, you guys.

TRAVIS: Are you expecting more?

LAURA: Well, I mean, when we left, you know, I had a lot more than that. But, you know, it's because I'm growing up, and we probably are learning about how to spend money better, so she's teaching me, probably, that 5,000 gold is not needed every time.

SAM: She gave you 5,000 gold before?

LAURA: (panicked exhale) I really thought there was going to be more money in here.

SAM: Did you tell her that you were out of money?

LAURA: I did! I did tell her that!

SAM: And this is all she sent?

LAURA: But you know what, that's totally fine! 200 gold is really generous of her!

SAM: Maybe. I don't know your mother, maybe she was testing the postal system. Sending a small amount as a test. You can write back and say, "Got it safely, feel free to send more."

LAURA: That's a really good idea.

SAM: Maybe that was it. Because I wouldn't want to send 5,000 gold over the mail system. There's people out there who *steal* the mail!

TRAVIS: (laughter) Whoosh! (imitates dramatic music)

MARISHA: You made an incredibly excellent point. It is so easy to defraud the mail.

ASHLEY: Plus, 200 gold is a lot of money. That's more than I pretty much have right now.

LAURA: It is a lot of money!

TALIESIN: It's more than we used to make in a year, easily.

MARISHA: It's a lot to send somebody in a birthday card.

LAURA: Caleb?

LIAM: What?

LAURA: I'm really sorry about that one time when you were talking about money with me, okay?

LIAM: Oh, that's fine.

SAM: The most important thing is that she loves and cares for you, and wants to support you from afar.

LAURA: That is really great. She sent my favorite colors. Red and blue and green and black. Those are my favorites to paint with!

SAM: Those are the absolute most basic you can have.

LAURA: You can mix them. She knew I had a lot of white already on me, so I can make lots of colors.

SAM: Mostly paper is white, too.

LAURA: Well, it doesn't work like that.

SAM: I don't know how it works.

TRAVIS: Are we going back out, or are we turning in? Some of us are beat to shit.

LAURA: Do you guys want to split up the 200?

MARISHA: Jester, why don't you keep that?

ASHLEY: Jester, it's your 200.

MARISHA: We just kicked ass and made 200. We'll do it again tomorrow.

LAURA: That is true. I'm going to put this in a special place, so that we have it in case we need it. Okay?

MARISHA: Sure. The emergency fund.

LAURA: Exactly. This will be "Mom's Emergency Fund."

MARISHA: Sure. Yeah.

LAURA: I'm going to paint that on the bag. "Mom's Emergency Fund."

TRAVIS: All right, well, I'm getting tired. I'm going to turn in to the other room, if anybody feels like joining. Congratulations, Jester. That's very exciting.

TALIESIN: How deep of a sleeper are you?

TRAVIS: I don't know, I feel like after a day like today, pretty fucking deep.

TALIESIN: Cool. We'll find out. I'm going to go downstairs

MATT: Okay. All right, so you head downstairs.

TALIESIN: I'm going to at least need the best masseuse they have who's also willing to do other interesting things. And someone to feed me and talk to me as the entire thing is going on.

MATT: The madam goes, "Well, I can definitely provide those requests. That sounds like a two companion request.

TALIESIN: I would imagine so.

SAM: Wait, just so I'm clear: Do you get a full release massage while you're eating a steak or something?

TALIESIN: Fruit. Don't be crass. That's just weird.

MATT: "Preference? Male, female, in between?"

TALIESIN: Best hands, best conversationalist. Surprise me.

MATT: "Very well. That will run you 20 gold."

TALIESIN: I pay it, and you can sleep through it or not, if you like.

TRAVIS: I'm just going to be turning my face to the wall.

TALIESIN: Welcome back to college, man!

TRAVIS: College roommates.

MATT: As the rest of you are turning in for the evening, to relax. You all eventually get yourselves comfortable. Caleb, you're reading through your book. Then, at the door, (knocking) of the male room, and it opens up. There you see a young man and a young woman both enter, in nice silk robes.

LAURA: Oh, it's in the room?

TALIESIN: Oh yes. Had you not put that together yet?

MATT: Both human.

TALIESIN: We got two rooms.

MATT: "All right, so, who requested the service?"

TALIESIN: Oh excellent! Are you on the bed?

TRAVIS: Not anymore.

TALIESIN: Okay. I'm going to take the bed, and I'm going to take my full massage and otherwise.

ASHLEY: And otherwise?

TALIESIN: If you would also like some food, I'm sure they'd be willing to--

MATT: They bring in a small platter of grapes, and other fruit.

TRAVIS: I'll take an apple and say: Godspeed. I will leave the room.

MATT: Caleb?

LIAM: I leave the room and actually run downstairs and ask the front desk if they have another room.

MATT: "Yes, of course, another room can be provided."

LIAM: How much is that?

MATT: "For your troupe, that would be four gold for a third."

LIAM: Excellent. *Ja.* Here you go.

MATT: "All right, here's your key. It's two doors down from the one on the left that you originally purchased with your friends."

MARISHA: Is it the four ladies in a room?

TRAVIS: I'm doing the old college hallway sit. Just outside the door like-- That's my room. Occupied.

LAURA: Can we hear? Are we next door to this room? Can we hear what's happening?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TALIESIN: Oh, I'm sure at the very least I knock on the door and say; I'm having fruit if anyone wants anything.

SAM: I rolled a 14.

LAURA: I rolled a seven.

MARISHA: I rolled a 16 plus-- Oh, 19?

TRAVIS: 18.

LIAM: I rolled a one. Are we done taking donations?

MATT: Taking donations?

LIAM: You know, for 826? That's all done now, right?

MATT: I think so, yeah.

LIAM: So now they're just straight-up bad.

MARISHA: Man, in context that was weird as fuck! I rolled a 19.

TALIESIN: It's mostly ridiculous conversation through this whole thing.

LAURA: Can we hear?

MATT: All you hear are giggles.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MARISHA: I poke my head out. Do I see Fjord?

MATT: You see Fjord in the hallway. Yeah.

MARISHA: Psst.

TRAVIS: Hey. How you doing?

MARISHA: You're in the most expensive hotel in 100 miles and you're in the hallway. That's real fucking funny.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Molly got a guy and a girl that walked in with food.

MARISHA: You want to come in our room so you're not in the hall?

TRAVIS: Do you have people in there with food?

MARISHA: I have Nott and Jester and Jester has pastries.

LAURA: Yasha's in here, too!

MARISHA: We could order room service. You want to come in and order room service?

TRAVIS: Yeah, that sounds fine.

MARISHA: Let's do that. We order room service.

LIAM: About when this is happening, I pull the wire out of my coat and hold it into my palmed hands and Message to Nott. Nott, will you find an excuse to bring Beauregard and yourself to my room you saw me go into?

SAM: Message received.

TRAVIS: What?

SAM: Huh? Nothing. I didn't say anything.

LAURA: You said "Message received."

SAM: I was practicing a new catchphrase.

LAURA: It's weird.

SAM: That's why I'm practicing.

LAURA: You should try a different one.

MARISHA: I kind of like it. I don't know. Like, you hit someone--

SAM and MARISHA: Message received!

MARISHA: Yeah, that's great. I'm kind of into it!

SAM: It's a little heady.

MARISHA: Yeah. You have to unpack in the moment.

SAM: Yeah. Hey, you know what? Did you order the room service yet?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LAURA: We called down?

SAM: I think the phone's broken, so maybe me and Beau should go deliver the order downstairs.

LAURA: Oh, okay.

MARISHA: I mean, yeah.

LAURA: Yes. Tell them we want cookies and milk for sure.

ASHLEY: A rat--

SAM: Oh! We didn't eat our rats yet!

ASHLEY: Well, we can get them here, and then save those for another--

SAM: I mean, they'll die!

MATT: The rats are currently back at the Leaky Tap.

SAM: Oh.

LAURA: Oh, that's right.

MATT: Well, no, you haven't. No, you still have them, you haven't gone back.

SAM: Should we toast now?

ASHLEY: Well, yeah. I am pretty hungry.

LAURA: But Yasha likes to cook hers, remember.

ASHLEY: You don't like to cook yours?

SAM: Uh, no.

ASHLEY: Nott, that's crazy. I mean, I'll try it, but I feel like it's much-- Do you want me to have them cook it? Have you ever had it cooked?

SAM: No.

ASHLEY: With a little salt, little pepper.

SAM: No.

LAURA: I don't know if they will cook rats here, though.

ASHLEY: No?

LAURA: Most of the places that charge a lot of money for rooms don't usually cook rats. But they do have other animals that they will cook for you.

ASHLEY: What do they have?

LAURA: Probably like a cow, or a deer, or an owlbear or something.

MARISHA: How about this: we'll tell them to give us the chef's choice. The special.

MATT: The giggling gets louder from the other room.

TRAVIS: Oh god. I can't tell who that's coming from.

MARISHA: Oh god. Come on, let's go.

SAM: Give me your rat and I'll have them cook it and bring it back for you.

MARISHA: We're spending enough money on this place.

ASHLEY: Are you sure you won't take it?

SAM: I won't eat your rat.

ASHLEY: Do you promise me?

SAM: Do you promise not to kill me in my sleep because you're a Xhorhasian spy?

TALIESIN: (loud giggling)

SAM: If I don't eat your rat, you can't kill me in my sleep because you're a Xhorhasian spy.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: With a (squeak) as you pull it away.

SAM: All right. Let's go order some food.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: You make your way to Caleb's room?

SAM: As soon as we get out of the room, I say: I was told to bring you to Caleb. I don't know why.

MARISHA: Can we go order food first? Then we'll go hit Caleb, because it's going to be, like, 45-60 minutes to deliver it.

SAM: Sure. Right, it does take a while to deliver. All right, we go order food first.

MATT: All right, you go order food, for the breadth of the evening meals it costs we'll say one gold, five silver for food for everybody.

LAURA: What do you guys want to do in the room now?

SAM: I'm going to send a few Messages out. Caleb, what room are you in? Caleb, what room are you in? Caleb, what room?

LIAM: If I eventually catch it, I give Nott the room number.

SAM: Oh, okay. He's in room six.

MATT: You guys make your way to Caleb's room.

SAM: (knocking)

MARISHA: (knocking)

LAURA: Jesus.

LIAM: Come in.

SAM: I brought the monk. Are we discussing some escape plans?

LIAM: Potentially. You know, we're leaving soon, and Beauregard has an in at one of the bigger libraries in the city and I want to go there before we leave.

SAM: Excellent, let's go. Tomorrow, right? When they're open.

LIAM: Yes, but Beauregard has given me a condition. She had some questions for me, and I would like to answer them, but I don't feel right telling her and not telling you, so I would love for you to stay here for a few minutes.

SAM: Sure, yes, whatever you want, Caleb. It sounds serious.

LIAM: Beauregard, may I ask you a question to start?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: How do you feel about the Empire?

MARISHA: Oh, I mean--

LIAM: Are you in favor of how things are going here?

MARISHA: No, but I'm not in favor of many things. I don't like a lot of things. Kind of have a problem with authority and they're like the epitome of authority. I watched my father sacrifice a lot to try and impress those people. I'm not sure what it was for. Seems like a lot.

LIAM: Are you comfortable with business as usual?

MARISHA: What? How do you mean?

LIAM: Do you approve of how the Empire is going?

MARISHA: I'm not super invested in like the political spectrum, I just don't want any part of it. So no? I think it could be better. No.

LIAM: Is she lying to me about being not invested?

MATT: I mean, that's up to you if you want to--

MARISHA: No.

MATT: As far as I know, yeah, she's being pretty forthright.

LIAM: Do I have to shout, "Insight check," or--

MATT: No, it's up to her whether or not she decides if she needs to or not.

MARISHA: Marisha's telling you, Beau is being genuine.

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: Oh. Not super invested about how the empire is going?

MARISHA: I think--

TRAVIS: Everybody's lying!

MARISHA: I have no investment in their success or failure. I think most of them tend to be scumbags who want monetary and influential gain, and I think they treat their poor pretty shitty and they treat their elite pretty great, and I think that's sucky. Yeah, I think they're garbage people, but Molly thinks I'm a garbage person--

SAM: Trash person.

MARISHA: Sorry, a trash person. If they're garbage people, I'm their rare cousin, the trash person.

LIAM: I would like to get if my reading on if that is genuine or not. Yeah?

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: Okay, so, Liam asking a question, and this is your choice. It's just an idea that popped in my head. Could I request that everybody but Sam and Marisha leave the table?

MATT: You can, yeah.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Can we get everybody else but Sam and Marisha to leave?

LAURA: Bitch! Fine, bitch! I didn't want to listen anyway, bitch!

SAM: That means you, too, Matt!

MATT: Oh, sure. Well, then!

MARISHA: Yeah, I--

TRAVIS: (yelling)

MARISHA: I watched my father sacrifice a lot to get where he was, and I'm not sure if it was fucking worth it. So the Empire doesn't lean favorably in my spectrum. But I also don't care if they really live or die or whatever.

LIAM: Well, I really want to go to the library tomorrow.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: This may be a very stupid decision of mine.

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: What does she want from you?

LIAM: Would you be willing to leave with me tomorrow if I asked you to?

SAM: Of course.

LIAM: Just the two of us?

SAM: Absolutely. Right away. Whatever you want. But why?

MARISHA: Is the secret that valuable?

LIAM: I am going to tell you the story of how I murdered my mother and father.

SAM: Oh!

LIAM: When I was younger, I grew up in a small township outside of Rexxentrum called Blumenthal. My mother's name was Una. My father's name was Leofric. Everyone was very excited about me when I was young. I was bright and confident. People used to say that I glided through life and everything just worked for me. As I got older, it became clear that I had a knack for the arcane. Everyone talked about this Soltryce Academy, maybe I would go there someday. The way they do things at that Academy, they don't take all-comers, they look for the diamond in the rough and every couple of years they find one. But when I was a young man, adolescent, really, they found three of us. Another boy and a girl, and--

SAM: From your town?

LIAM: *Ja*, from Blumenthal. And we were accepted.

SAM: How old were you?

LIAM: I was young.

MARISHA: What's young? Teenager?

LIAM: Yeah. Anyway, we went there. I studied for a year. I worked so hard. It came easier to me than the other two, but they were also very accomplished. There were other students from other parts of the Empire there, and a little over a year of learning all they had to impart, I met a man named Trent Ikithon. He became our teacher.

MARISHA: Why didn't you say anything earlier?

LIAM: Earlier when, earlier tonight? Earlier a week ago? What do you mean?

MARISHA: When we were talking to Trent. You know we were talking to Trent.

LIAM: After a year of studying in the main school, Trent handpicked all three of us again, and we left the school proper and went with him to a home out in the countryside where he trained us. It was a good time. We believed in the Empire, we were going to keep it strong. He was cruel. He hurt us a lot. Made us go through extreme circumstances, but we got strong. I also fell in love, but that's another story.

MARISHA: One of the other students.

LIAM: Yeah. We rose through the ranks and it was the Empire over all, and eventually, he wanted to test our allegiance, so strangers were brought in-- traitors. Disgusting people, *traitors* to this empire, and we killed them.

SAM: You were just students?

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MARISHA: He made you executioners?

LIAM: We wanted to be.

MARISHA: Caleb, that's deeply fucked up, you know that, right?

LIAM: Yeah. A few months of studying, of a little bit of torture, a little bit of murdering dissidents and traitors and deviants.

MARISHA: Then one day your parents are brought in as traitors. No?

LIAM: No. We were ready to graduate, and the last test of our allegiance was-- I'm getting ahead of myself. I went on a trip home and visited my parents and when I was there, in the middle of the night, I awoke and overhead them talking, and went to the stair and listened to them talk about revolution and tearing the Empire down, and I felt disgraced and shame for my family. My mother and my father, who were so wonderful to me when I was a child, and were so happy for me to go to the Academy and believe in the Empire *so much*. I went back to the school and when the three of us were summoned and told what was expected of us, I knew what had to be done. We went to this other boy's home first, Eadwulf, and we stood by as he killed his parents. We went to Astrid's house, and had dinner with them, and she poisoned them. Then we went to my home and we grabbed a horse cart, and in the middle of the night, placed it against the door to the home and I set it on fire.

MARISHA: You had to do this to graduate, to prove your loyalty.

LIAM: Well, yeah, but it didn't exactly go according to that plan because as soon as I heard my mother and father screaming inside... I was so sure, until I wasn't, and I broke a bit.

SAM: Did you go in after them?

LIAM: No, I went to an asylum for a number of years. I broke. I don't remember so well what happened to me there. It was quite a number of years. Years later, a woman was there, and she, another patient, put hands on me, and she took the clouds away. She took it all away, and not just my madness, but the fake memories that Ikithon put in my head of my parents.

SAM: Fake memories?

LIAM: Wanting to betr-- yes.

SAM: Wait, there was a false memory? He tricked you?

MARISHA: Into hearing their talks against the Empire, is that what it was?

LIAM: Yes, but it doesn't matter, because I still wanted to do it when I did it.

SAM: But you didn't know what you were doing--

LIAM: So what?

SAM: You were brainwashed.

LIAM: So what?!

SAM: Programmed.

LIAM: Doesn't matter, I should have-- I'm a disgusting person. It doesn't matter. Anyway, all that gone, just like that. I ran. Not right away; I pretended like nothing had changed for several weeks. She went stark raving mad 15 minutes later herself, the woman who helped me. I killed one of Trent's people there, and took this. I pull out the necklace. This has been keeping me hidden for years. For five years.

SAM: What do you mean, hidden?

LIAM: They can find who they want, but not with this. They cannot find me. I would really like to get into that library, because I would--

MARISHA: Like to run again?

LIAM: Hmm? No, I like you all.

MARISHA: You were just talking with Nott about running tomorrow.

LIAM: Well, that all depends on you, Beauregard.

MARISHA: If I don't let you in?

LIAM: If you can keep a secret.

MARISHA: Caleb, I'm good at keeping secrets. You heard us talking to Trent. You know he wants Yasha, and you're the only person who knows the atrocities that this man-- who utterly gave me the creeps, by the way, so I'm feeling a little bit validated in the fact that I read him pretty well--

SAM: I don't think it's--

LIAM: Anyway.

MARISHA: I'm just saying, you have a responsibility now.

LIAM: Which is?

MARISHA: Keep this guy from hurting more people.

LIAM: Well, that's precisely why I want into this library.

MARISHA: You want to take down Trent. Is that why you're doing all this? You want to take down Trent?

LIAM: Among other things.

MARISHA: Ah. What are you hoping to find?

LIAM: Anybody can make lights. Anybody could send a message through a wire. I want to bend reality to my will.

MARISHA: Caleb, you don't, though. No one wants that amount of power and responsibility.

LIAM: Yeah, well, I told you why I am afraid of fire. So you are going to bring me to that library.

MARISHA: Don't worry, I'll take you to the library. There are two options here: you can selfishly try and go after this guy for your own vendetta, or you can use your motives to keep others from getting hurt in a very similar way.

LIAM: Both of those are appealing to me.

MARISHA: All right. I know you just make dancing lights-- or at least you can feel like you just make dancing lights-- but those dancing lights make sure I can punch people in the fucking face whenever I can't see shit. A little bit of teamwork goes a long way.

LIAM: Okay, good. I think Nott and I are going to retire now. Maybe you can go get that food for the others.

MARISHA: Cool, man, cool. Kick me out of the room, I get it. Yep, all right.

SAM: You want to stay here?

MARISHA: No, I mean, you just dumped some heavy-ass shit like that and then ask me to leave. No, I get it, it's fine.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: All right, I'll leave.

LIAM: But you don't have to leave the table.

MARISHA: No.

LIAM: I'm not asking you to leave the table.

MARISHA: I'll keep your secret. We'll keep all this a secret. I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of, though.

LIAM: (laughs slightly hysterically)

MARISHA: We'll figure it out in time.

LIAM: Goodnight, Beauregard.

MARISHA: Caleb (clicks). Nott.

SAM: Good evening.

MARISHA: I have a charcuterie board coming to the girls' room, if anybody wants any.

LIAM: (door slamming)

SAM: I go over and I throw my arms around him and hug him. I'm so sorry. It wasn't you, it's not your fault. It wasn't you, you were made to do it. It's *not* your fault. It's not your fault. I know you don't realize that now, but you will. This pain that you have, that you wear all over you like a mask, it's just that, and you can take it off someday. I know it hurts, but it wasn't your fault. I'm going to keep telling you that until you believe me.

LIAM: Are you and I good?

SAM: What you did was awful, truly terrible, despicable and unforgivable-- until you can forgive it. At some point, you'll have to do that. I swear to you that I will be at your side until you do.

LIAM: I have an idea that can make that happen.

SAM: Really?

LIAM: Yes. It will take a lot of hard work.

SAM: A lot of books.

LIAM: And a lot of books.

SAM: I'm in. Whatever you need, just tell me and I'll get it for you.

LIAM: I pull out the silver thread and I start putting it around the room, and go over some notes. I have some ideas already, some ideas I had, and I will stay up another hour or two before going to bed.

MATT: Can we retrieve the rest of the group, please? Back to the table. (sharp exhale)

SAM: Fart jokes!

MATT: We got a Caleb lore dump.

MARISHA: Huh?

MATT: Got a Caleb lore dump. As you find yourselves reading for a bit, eventually a knock comes at the door, and a little bit of snacks are brought over from the side of the girls' room, if you want some. The food arrives at your guys' room, and the knock does come at your room, Molly. As the food arrives, the door opens, and the two--

TALIESIN: Oh, is the food arriving?

MATT: The food has arrived as the companions and you have completed your evening--

TALIESIN: Okay, in that case, I am going to enter--

SAM: You're cleaning up.

TALIESIN: Oh no, I've thought about this. I had time to think while watching things outside. Not you guys. I've got the remnants of the fruit. I'm coming in with the food into their room, and I am wearing nothing but my tapestry.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: I am your god, long may I reign. Eat of my fruits.

MARISHA: I just ordered another fruit platter.

TALIESIN: It's good. I got through a lot of this.

MARISHA: But long may he reign. Huzzah.

LIAM: We're still pre-sleepy time?

MATT: If there's something else you want to do.

LIAM: No, I want to go to the bathroom.

MATT: Then you may go to the bathroom if you'd like, and we're going to come back in the morning.

LIAM: Thanks, Dad!

MATT: Whenever the rest of our group returns?

SAM: Laura and Travis went home, they have a-- Yeah, Dateline was on?

MARISHA: 60 Minutes.

MATT: Well, until they get here--

SAM: Oh, no, Ashley's gone, now. It's just us.

TALIESIN: If anybody had any questions they want to ask. Laura's in the bathroom--

MATT: Gotcha, no worries. (singing) Pregnancy.

TALIESIN: Just looking forward to wearing a giant Platinum Dragon. That's all I wanted.

MATT: As the evening draws to a close, you all get probably the finest rest you've had in a while. It's extravagant rooms, the inner chambers are well-decorated, the morning window-- as the drapery is left open, the sun comes through in golden beams--

LAURA: Oh no, we missed our stuff.

SAM: It's morning-time now.

MATT: It's the morning time. You guys come to consciousness.

ASHLEY: We were going to play some Truth or Dare.

LAURA: Well, it's fine. We did. We totally did.

MATT: You gather yourselves. What are you guys doing with the day?

LAURA: Well, I guess we should go back to the Leaky Tap there, and--

TRAVIS: Can I ask for everybody to leave the room, except for--

(laughter)

MATT: All right.

TALIESIN: We have a cart.

LAURA: Oh yeah, we can load it up.

MARISHA: Where are we going, before our errands? Or after our errands? What's the destination?

TALIESIN: I'm going to get the map.

MARISHA: Oh, the map!

SAM: Are we all back together again? Over breakfast?

MATT: Yeah, you guys have all woken up and gotten together again. We'll say for purposes of this that breakfast has been provided, like brought to your room as part of the staying over, but you finish your morning.

SAM: Like, continental, or like French toast?

MATT: Upper-end continental.

LAURA: You guys totally missed it. We had the *best* time in the room while you guys were gone for a very long time.

MATT: There you go!

ASHLEY: Fjord and Jester made out.

LAURA: We had a crazy orgy in our room and you guys didn't *even* want to be part of it.

SAM: Insight check! 11.

TALIESIN: I'm happy to move in whatever direction anybody likes.

LAURA: Oh, you know I'm lying.

ASHLEY: Wait, I roll, too. I roll, too, because I was part of the lie.

SAM: I think she's lying.

MATT: You backing her up?

LAURA: Did you roll shit, too?

ASHLEY: I rolled a four.

MATT: Yeah, they're lying through their teeth.

LAURA: Man.

SAM: Before we leave, shouldn't we get a lay of the land? I mean, I trust my own ears, they're very large, but I barely heard half of a conversation. I don't even know really what's happening other than I heard that there's a war happening.

TALIESIN: What's the good side of this, then? What's your best-case scenario?

SAM: Well maybe we should do some snooping around town and find out if there indeed is a war before we leave town.

TALIESIN: If they lock the gates, or start conscripting--

LAURA: Will they do that?

TALIESIN: I don't know what they'd do. All I know is I don't want to hang out, and obviously we've made a bit of a reputation for ourselves.

LAURA: But then, any city we go into, won't they lock us in that city?

SAM: We also have allies here. We have The Gentleman--

LAURA: (gasp)

TALIESIN: He's an ally now.

LAURA: You know what we should do? You guys! Why don't we talk to Dolan about it? He would tell us!

SAM: Dolan! We haven't even checked in with him!

MARISHA: Oh, shit! We forgot to check in with him!

LAURA: He was at the party last night! He was with that really cool guy from Marquet.

SAM: We have a bunch of allies. We can't just up and leave without at least saying, like, we're out.

LAURA: Let's go talk to Dolan.

TALIESIN: Have you literally never left a town without telling everybody because, you know, there's a possibility you're going to get conscripted to go fight a war?

SAM: I have never had allies before.

LAURA: Let's go talk to Dolan, and then we'll leave, and we'll go to Hupperdook and then we'll go to Nogvurot.

SAM: Because those are funny-sounding names?

LAURA: No, because *Hupperdook* is a funny sounding name! Then Nogvurot is where our friends from the other mercenary group live.

SAM: It's also where there was a string of kidnappings.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: See, *that* sounds like our speed. *Not* conscripting into fighting on the front lines.

LAURA: We can disguise you as a kid and they could kidnap you and you could fight them from the inside.

SAM: I don't like this idea.

TRAVIS: How about we go say hi to Dolan, we'll run by The Gentleman, let him know that we're thinking about bouncing, and then we'll be on our way.

ASHLEY: May I take a look at that map, Jester?

LAURA: Of course, Yasha!

MARISHA: Does anyone know who funds the Victory Pit?

TRAVIS: I'm sure it's the city, right?

MARISHA: Probably.

LAURA: We could ask Dolan about that, too.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Don't think they don't know our names now.

LAURA: Can I say that while it was last night, I painted a picture with the new paint for my mom?

MATT: Sure.

LAURA: I'm going to ask the front desk if they will send it to her. Back to our house in the Menagerie Coast.

MATT: Yeah. They're less paints and more colored inks. You can purchase paints wherever you want to, but these are like--

LAURA: I mean, I *have* paints I guess.

MATT: But you have paints to do it.

LAURA: Okay, I'll paint it with the stuff I have.

MATT: You paint her a little picture.

LAURA: Ooh, colored inks? I didn't realize that!

MARISHA: Gel pens!

MATT: (clicking)

LAURA: Ooh.

MATT: Postage for sending it off is simple enough at that size to be about five silver from here to Nicodranas.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: I think we should be careful, because the longer we're in town, the more people we talk to, the more people might decide that they're invested in us staying.

TRAVIS: Fair enough. We'll keep our eyes open. To Dolan's then.

MATT: To Dolan's first?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MARISHA: You guys go to Dolan's. You want to take a field trip?

LIAM: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Where are y'all going?

LIAM: We have to take a trip to Pumat's for supplies and then--

TRAVIS: Insight check! Just kidding. I'm good.

MATT: All right. Who's going where?

MARISHA: I go wherever Caleb goes.

SAM: Me, too.

LIAM: Pumat, library.

MATT: Pumat, library. The rest of you guys are going to Dolan's?

TALIESIN: To Dolan's. We'll meet up at Pumat's.

MARISHA: Okay. That sounds good. You guys, Dolan's; we'll go library.

LIAM: We'll do library first. Then we'll pull Matt.

MARISHA: We'll pull Matt.

TALIESIN: We can pull Matt's soul.

MARISHA: Pull Matt Key.

MATT: So. As you guys--

LIAM: (silly voice) Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!

MATT: As you guys exit the Pillow Trove, and you make your way outside of the Tri-Spires, the first thing of note is the tone and the mood of the city has shifted dramatically.

MARISHA: Fuck!

SAM: It's a more festive atmosphere?

LIAM: It's a party, girl.

MATT: No. First things first. The skies are gray. What little bits of sunlight came through the last day have completely absconded. The sky is covered in gray, nearly stormy clouds. There is an air of stress and question in the streets as you start seeing Righteous Brand groups making their way through. As you make your way through the north side of the Pentamarket, one of the town criers comes by shouting, "War declared on the Kryn by the King in retribution of attack on eastern garrisons!"

TRAVIS: Oh, shit.

MATT: Another one, a few moments later further down the way shouts out, "Righteous Brand mobilizing east to protect our families! Spare what provisions you can to ensure victory and support our defenders!" There are clusters of Righteous Brand groups, the full armored military outside of the Signet Wall that have come into the streets and are basically picking up provisions, asking for donations from anyone that can spare things for this scenario. They're grabbing horses from nearby stables, and it seems like since the close of the festival, through the night and into the morning, preparations have already kicked in on the military side.

TRAVIS: Maybe not to Dolan's, then.

LAURA: Why?

TRAVIS: Because we got to get the fuck out of here.

LAURA: Well, are we still all together, or are we already split up?

MATT: You're already split up.

LAURA: There's no way we'll be able to get out of here before--

MARISHA: Back to Pumat's.

TALIESIN: We're going to do our best. We're going to see how it's going to be.

LIAM: Did we hear that, though?

MARISHA: I'm assuming we all heard it as we split.

MATT: You heard bits of it as you split off. You guys heard a bit. It says, "Crick incursion threatening imperial borders! The Starosta recommends armed escorts for travel across the valley!" A lot of these Righteous Brand soldiers are also saying goodbye to their families. There's a lot of people in big embraces with their children or with their parents, and there's very much the air of the morning before the big shift begins. The Crownsguard themselves are doing the best to keep the peace and inform people and not keep individuals from freaking out as much, but you do see a few arguments breaking out in the streets and there's that general tension of, "What's happening? What's going on? How bad is this?" But everything seems relatively under control. The Signet Wall, which is to the north side of the city, which is where all the military is usually situated-- you don't have a view beyond the wall, of course, but you can see that's where a large part of the Righteous Brand is emerging into the city from. Yeah, there is definite building presence, and tension in the city in preparation for the shift eastward. You guys are heading to Dolan's still?

LAURA: Are we still?

MATT: Or what are you doing?

LAURA: I mean, it's obvious we're at war now. There's not much to talk to him about, huh?

TRAVIS: That's what I mean.

LAURA: Maybe we should see if we should be some armed guards for some rich people going across the valley before, so that we have, you know.

TALIESIN: Just a thought to check the board; also get our stuff from the Leaky Tap.

LAURA: Yeah, that's what we can do while they're at the library.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

ASHLEY: That's a good idea.

MATT: You guys are heading back to the Leaky Tap?

LAURA: We're going to go by the board first. The job board?

MATT: Oh, the Taskboard.

LAURA: To see about being armed guards, and then we're going to go to the--

TALIESIN: Possible private escorts. Private escort, either north or--

MARISHA: Might be our best way out of town, actually. Good idea.

MATT: Okay. You guys head to the Taskboard outside of the King's Hall, the four of you. There's the original posting "Seeking or paying for any information on Myriad or unlawful activity within the city.” There's the reward on rebel gatherings, anti-crown rhetoric, but this time you've seen a shift to the recent Righteous Brand convincing letter. It says, "War has found our doorstep. Defend your family from the Xhorhasian hordes by sword or shield. Good pay and adventurous living as a soldier of the Righteous Brand. Seek Leopold Wanstiker at the Marrow Keep in the Signet Wall." The other "Proof of other's worship of heretical gods paid in gold." You don't see any immediate postings for armed guards but those are probably done privately through the merchant guilds. However, as you're looking at the board a voice goes: "Oh, well that's perfect!"` You see Voloshin, the Keeper of the Hall who you had previously interfaced with when you did your job in the sewers, come out in his robes and he says, "We'd actually sent a page to look for you but they must've missed you. The Lawmaster wishes to speak with you, would you come with me?"

TRAVIS: Of course.

LAURA: Yeah, of course we will.

TALIESIN: Sure.

MATT: “Providence it is. Enter, please." He leads you inside the hall of the king and there are the two archways between the clerk's center and the Lawbearer's small shrine within the chamber. He leads you down the right hallway past two sets of doors and there's a third door on the right that is partially ajar. As you enter it, you see a spacious but rather minimalistic chamber. It's a bare chamber beyond a bookcase, the desk, with a long bench in front of it, and a series of three small windows where the sunlight comes through-- or the light, there's not really sunlight at the moment because of the weather. Beyond that, it's white marble and fairly empty. There at the desk you see, her arms sprawled looking down over clusters of parchments, the Lawmaster Orentha Stonegrasp. Her gray hair has tumbled past her shoulders and her bangs have been pulled back like a natural circlet, keeping it out of her eyes. He pushes into the chamber, she has a dark brown fur robe on. The cold morning air makes the room, especially the dark marble, very cold. She keeps it on for warmth. She looks up from the papers and greets you with a smile and goes, "Thank you for coming. That was mighty fast. Have a seat, if you don't mind. Thank you, Voloshin, close the door, if you could." "Of course, my dear." He closes the door, leaves you in there. "I wasn't expecting such a rapid response, but I appreciate your expediency."

LAURA: Well, we were right here.

MATT: "That's fantastic. Please, have a seat. I'd like to discuss a few things with you if you don't mind. First off, congratulations yesterday. That was quite a display and fantastic victory. Well--"

LAURA: Are we going to war?

MATT: "I see you are aware of the shifts in our current imperial state of affairs. We haven't had war in generations. I'm hopeful that the conflict is swift, but I'll leave that concern to those with the right expertise. I'm tasked with keeping my people safe here, not on the front. Here. Now, wartime puts us in an unfortunate scenario. Zadash effectively governs the southern half of the empire and most of military might is now leaving us. Our Crownsguard will be stretched thin across keeping the peace and dealing with unrest and worry and protecting these walls from whatever pushes through the lines of battle and the general things that wander from beyond our boundaries. Money isn't an issue, but personnel is. There are outlying threats and criminals we no longer have the manpower for and as such, the Crown has approved an expanded mercenary budget. Now you've already proven your ability to me twice. Most recent, your skills in the Victory Pit showing you capable and loyal to the king. I know not your interest, but if you would come under contact, under my office as legionnaires of the empire, you would be responsible for protecting the lives of many innocent people. Now, under contract you would receive fifteen gold per week per person as a stipend whether or not you were on contract or not. It could be at your leisure, months at a time with no work and you still get paid no matter what you do. Each assignment rewards its own bounty of course, case by case. The work I'll be presenting will largely involve the hunting of outstanding criminals, the acquisition of resources that may benefit the Empire in this time of war, and sometimes the extermination of dangerous creatures that threaten life away from the front lines. Now you'd all have credentials within the Empire and that will grant you access to supplies, pro bono. Access to empirical halls, and individuals otherwise restricted to the general populous.

LAURA: Would we get healing potions?

MATT: "When they're available, those supplies are a bit stretched thin and put toward the front lines. We could probably muster what we can. Could I hope for your help on this?"

TRAVIS: That's quite the offer. Seem to be opening up the whole kit and caboodle for us here.

MATT: "Dire times make for dire circumstances. We don't take lightly the ask that we're giving here-"

TRAVIS: We understand your position, unfortunately you find us in a precarious time. As you can see, we don't have all of our fellows here with us and this morning's news caught us unawares. We'd need a fair bit of time to consider your offer, I'm afraid. We can't give you a yes or no right now.

MATT: "I understand, that's fine." She smiles lightly, the crow's nests in her eyes folding in a bit. "I hold no grudge against you should you decline. That's all."

LAURA: We do appreciate the offer and we can't wait to talk to our friends about it, though.

MATT: "Okay."

SAM: Insight check.

MATT: "Well, should you be interested, the first contract I can discuss, if you choose to sign with us. It does offer a 10,000 gold bounty."

SAM: (choking)

LAURA: What is it?

MATT: "I can't tell you until you sign the contract."

LAURA: Why not? It sounds like a lot of money for something, though!

TRAVIS: We have sympathy for your situation. Will you be here in a few hours if we need to return?

MATT: "Oh I have no choice, I'm in the process--" and she gestures to the papers below her and there's a stack of approval letters and reports that have to be put out there. She's dividing what forces that she can allow to go the eastern front and sticking her feet in the sand on what things she needs to maintain order in the city.

TALIESIN: You have our deepest sympathies at your position. This is obviously going to be a very difficult time.

MATT: "Well, the issue here is that many of our finest investigators and hunters will be sent to the east and as such many of the criminals and individuals that we were in the process of finding and bringing to justice will now go free or return and run rampant."

LAURA: If only my friend were here. Me and my friend Nott are really good at solving crimes, we're the best investigators.

MATT: "Well, consider what I'm saying. At the very least, come back and notify me."

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: "No harm no foul otherwise." She leans forward and goes, "Look, I understand. People are as varied as they are selfish. I believe in the Empire, but I definitely don't believe with all the people that run it. I do what I do because I feel if I don't a lot of good people will be crushed under the boot of those that misuse their power. But there are good people here, and we do what we can. I've seen the good that we can do. That's why I'm here. I wish to fight for this land that I call home, to protect those that cannot protect themselves, and combat the destructiveness and selfishness of anarchy. Utopia's impossible, I know that, but I do what I do to make life as livable as possible. Anyway, go speak with your friends, and I'll be here if you need me."

LAURA: Do you think the war will make it all the way here?

MATT: "If the war makes it here, then we're in far more trouble than I anticipated.

TRAVIS: Fair enough, you're asks are fair. We'll return, quickly.

MATT: "Thank you. I should get back to work." She rubs her hands and gets back down to the paper. The door opens behind and Voloshin leads you back out of the King's Hall.

LAURA: If you ever need anyone to talk to because you feel really stressed out, I'm here. I'm a good healer, mentally.

MATT: She gives a nod and a wave.

TRAVIS: We turn and leave.

MATT: You guys are escorted out of the King's Hall and left back out to the streets.

LAURA: Whoa, that was crazy!

ASHLEY: That was crazy.

TALIESIN: That's a lot.

LAURA: 10,000 gold! What do you think it is? Do you think it's a dragon or something crazy like that?

TALIESIN: I think it's The Gentleman.

TRAVIS: I do too, or something just as sinister.

ASHLEY: I wonder if there's some way to find out somehow what it is before accepting.

LAURA: I feel like The Gentleman probably works with the city, you guys.

TALIESIN: I feel like 10,000 gold is buying an awful lot of cooperation. More cooperation than I think I'm capable of.

TRAVIS: Let's find the others and get our story straight.

LAURA: Back to The Leaky Tap, then? Get our stuff together?

TRAVIS and ASHLEY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Then we'll meet them at the shop.

MATT: As you guys get to The Leaky Tap, you see near the front door a young page wearing similar, though simpler, robes as Voloshin and members of the King's Hall, who approaches and goes, "Oh, hi! I'm sorry, I was supposed to give you this summons from the Lawmaster."

TRAVIS: We've already been, it's all right.

MATT: "Very well," and then runs off. You guys gather your supplies and start making your way back towards the Pentamarket. The three of you, where are you going?

SAM and LIAM: The library.

MATT: You make your way towards the Archive of the Cobalt Soul here in Zadash. The same beautiful building with the large, steepled tower top.

MARISHA: Button up. I turn to Nott. How do I look? Do I have any makeup running?

SAM: Do you wear makeup?

MARISHA: Like once a week.

SAM: I think it's worn off.

MARISHA: All right, good. Let's go.

SAM: Should I be--

LIAM: That would be helpful.

SAM: Do you think I should be more of a normie for this?

LIAM: I'm going to do the same thing that I did the other day. I am going to cast Disguise Self and make the gigantic glasses and change my cloak to a similar shade of blue.

MARISHA: What's that thing you guys do, Mother's Love? What's that situation?

SAM: That's for when we steal things, and I pretend to be his baby and he pretends to be my mama. Then when they're looking at the cute baby, he steals something.

MARISHA: Right. You could go with the first half of that plan, but without the second half that involves the stealing?

LIAM: They would let you bring a mother and her baby into the library?

SAM: I'll be a dwarf.

MARISHA: I'm more concerned about bringing in a man and a goblin.

SAM: I can disguise myself as well.

LIAM: Normally when we do Mother's Love, Nott stabs people.

MARISHA: Sure. You do know how to adjust in certain circumstances, though, right? You do know how to improv based on the current surroundings, though, right?

LIAM: Hey, this city's under lockdown, can we go into the library?

MARISHA: Yeah, let's go.

SAM: I'll cast Disguise Self and be a little halfling girl.

MATT: As you guys make your way to the front archway of the entrance of the archive, there is the main sign in bench, which has the large tome that's on a small pedestal, where you sign in to enter the facility, and then you're greeted by one of the archivists who approaches. You recognize this individual as Madeer. Has an olive colored skin, short, dark hair, approaches with a smile. "Beauregard, you come with companions."

MARISHA: I do. Spreading that Cobalt love.

MATT: "Fantastic. What is it you seek this day?"

LIAM: Me? I am interested in the history of the greatest arcanists of all time.

MATT: "History can be done. Arcanists can be done. Please, do sign in here."

LIAM: *Ja.* Caleb Widogast.

MARISHA: That's your name.

MATT: "And your friend?"

SAM: Veth.

TRAVIS: Ham and Beth.

MATT: "No surname, very well. I will be escorting you as well. Come." Madeer leads you into the library. For the first time you guys seeing it, it is overwhelming. It's strange. For as much as there's a very calm, almost cathedral-like structure on the exterior, the interior of the chambers have a curved, organic feel to the way it's situated and organized. The bookshelves wrap around these walls, these separate antechambers that are broken up like ventricles of a heart. In each one, it is floor to 15-foot ceiling filled books with large shifting ladders that glide across poles and wheels. There are a number of tables and small nooks where individuals are in the process of taking notes or reading through. It's not super crowded. There's maybe eight other people in the facility at this time. Obviously the city is very occupied with other things at the moment. It's not like there's a huge, constant need for this, and the people in here are usually regulars. A lot of older folks, people who tend to spend their later life wanting to read and learn.

3:30:00 - 3:59:59

MARISHA: Memberships.

MATT: You are led to a section. Madeer reads through. "Arcanists, you say? Historically? Are we talking Age of Arcanum?"

LIAM: I am looking for histories, accounts of people who pushed the boundaries of what can be done over the ages. The firsts. I am interested in more than what is typical, at least as much as can be known. Do you follow me?

MATT: "I believe so."

MARISHA: He's a magic fan.

LIAM: *Ja,* that is true, I am a magic fan.

MARISHA: Little heavy-handed, man. Like, really heavy-handed.

MATT: A few tomes are retrieved. "This here is a recollection of what elements of historical significance could be pulled from the remnants of the Age of Arcanum, pre-Calamity. There are a great number of mages out there, though many of them befell darker interests. But here are those books. If you're looking for more modern mages, we have historical information on the past 200 years of empirical magecraft and powerful wizards in that realm."

LIAM: What about the unexplained?

MATT: "Explain what you mean by 'unexplained,' please."

MARISHA: I said you were already being too heavy-handed!

LIAM: Questions. There is a certain amount of knowledge in the schools of this empire, and then there are questions. Theorizing, philosophy of the arcane.

MATT: "That would be more Soltryce Academy material. They do lay claim to most of those theoretical discussions and research. The Cerberus Assembly would be the keepers of those research endeavors."

LIAM: Excellent, I shall go there next.

MATT: "I have a book here on the Cerberus Assembly, if that would be of interest to you."

LIAM: Yes.

MATT: These tomes are presented to you. You can spend time to read if you'd like. Madeer watches the entire time, like a hawk.

LIAM: I start reading.

MATT: Which book do you go through first?

LIAM: I will start with the first, the oldest.

MATT: Okay. Are you absorbing it, or are you skimming through?

LIAM: This one, I am absorbing it. I will read it cover to cover.

MATT: Cover to cover will take you the better part of the day.

LIAM: I'm a speed reader, and an average novel takes an hour to an hour and a half for a speed reader to read.

MATT: You're a speed reader, but this is also very dense material, and it is essentially a historical theorizing on historical elements they've been able to piece together. I'd say by the time you've gotten here, it'd be about noon in the day.

LIAM: I'm holding three tomes, correct?

MATT: Yes, and I'd say you'd finish this book by about 3:00.

LIAM: If I take a moment to skim, ten minutes through each one, and get the barest idea of what I would find inside each.

MATT: You want me to just tell you all the history?

LIAM: No, I'm trying to figure out if I were to look at a couple of pages at once from three different books--

MATT: What are you looking for? You have to give me something to go on here, otherwise this is going to turn into an hour and a half of me telling you about the history of the Age of Arcanum.

LIAM: I want the furthest extent of transmutation and changing reality.

MATT: Okay. There are discussions about transmutation on a powerful level. It involves the creation of turning mountains into mobile clouds. It speaks of, in the Age of Arcanum, there were floating cities. There was arcane technology utilized in that period, which was this magical utopia, but a lot of that was lost in the war, partially because a lot of these mages, when they had developed magic to this point, weren't satiated with their mortal capabilities, and that was when they were easily corruptible by the betrayer gods. Then it goes into discussion on the Calamity. Magics that can alter the fabric of reality exist out there. Some of them appear to be myth, some have been wiped from time and history because they've been voted too dangerous and they're supposedly under lock and key in other places of the world, if not completely eradicated because it was not fit to leave them in the hands of mortals.

LIAM: This was in one of these tomes?

MATT: Yes.

LIAM: Then I will focus on that, because I'm interested in that.

MATT: It speaks on theories and manipulations of-- if you're looking for things reality-based, reality's a big scope. Transmutation specifically, most of what you can glean from this discusses the idea of turning from one creature to another, turning from one substance to another, how they would be able to build fortresses out of stone and then turn it to diamond for extra protective elements, and those were the great palaces of that age.

LIAM: You know my main interests. Do I find anything of that in here?

MATT: You find some discussion of it. You find some discussion of the manipulation of time, but what minor manipulation is capable through magic is merely to slow or expedite what happens. Accelerating time to a certain degree becomes very dangerous, and there is talk of some mages that have attempted to reverse time in short stints, and that process is both very taxing and in the past has completely annihilated those who toyed with that power. It speaks specifically of two different mages who believed that they could possibly alter choices, alter elements of their past to benefit their future, their gaining of power and influence. One was turned to dust, the other was never seen again.

LIAM: I spend all my time with that book.

MARISHA: Hey, Madeer. How's it been? How's it going?

MATT: It has been frustrating, but fine.

MARISHA: Fucking Zeenoth, am I right?

MATT: Zeenoth is a great friend.

MARISHA: No, he's a great friend! Great guy. Great guy, that Zeenoth. Has Dairon left?

MATT: I have not seen her this morning, but I don't know if she's left or not.

MARISHA: Cool, cool.

MATT: You read through that tome. It's about three in the afternoon now.

MARISHA: Hey, Caleb, not going to conquer the world in a library visit.

LIAM: Can you give me two more hours?

MARISHA: No, I cannot give you two more hours. I can't. I will gouge my eyes out with a fucking pencil if I give you two more hours.

SAM: How about one more hour? We'll all compromise.

LIAM: What about 30 more minutes?

MARISHA: Do you have something in your neverending flask?

SAM: Of course, would you like a drink? Are we allowed to drink in here? Why are you carrying around a cup?

LIAM: I skim the book on the Cerberus Assembly.

MATT: It has a breakdown of previous members who passed away. It's basically a historical dialogue of how it was established. The name was actually a reference to a group existed in the Age of Arcanum. It talks about how there was a war of mage houses 150 years ago within the empire that nearly destroyed part of the capitol, Rexxentrum, and as part of the ceasefire and the arrest of these mage houses that were at war, as opposed to imprisoning them, they agreed to bind themselves to the empire and work for them. That's what the Cerberus Assembly was established as: a power under rule of the king. Since then has flourished. It's helped the kingdom rise to power, it helped them conquer the Julous Dominion. They work with and under the king. It talks of all the members and it talks about what they do. Trent is in there. There is Master Trent Ikithon, who is the Archmage of Civil Influence. Civil Influence is the title and it talks about how he is the propagandist and the constructor of the face of the Empire in upper echelon circles. It speaks of Martinet Ludinus Da'leth who is the Archmage of Domestic Protections, who is the oldest in the original member of the Assembly who still lives. Was there when it was built and is currently considered the leader of the Assembly. It speaks of Marquis Jenna Iresor who is the Archmage of Industry. One of the younger members of the Assembly. There is Master Doolan Tversky who is the Archmage of Dysology.

LIAM and MARISHA: Dysology?

MATT: D-Y-S-O-L-O-G-Y. There is--

SAM: Are you reading these things out loud?

LAURA: Yes, he is.

LIAM: You could say I'm muttering it under my breath.

MATT: There is Lord Athesias Uludan who is the Archmage of Diplomatic Union. There is Lady Vess DeRogna who is the Archmage of Antiquity. I'll send you these later. It's fine. I'll send you an email.

TRAVIS: We now have something that rivals a shopping episode. It's called the library.

MATT: There is Headmaster Zivan Margolin who is the Archmage of Conscription. Then there is Headmaster Oremid Hass who is the Archmage of Cultivation. Those are the eight members currently.

TRAVIS: I mean, I have to give a small golf clap for--

TALIESIN: You wrote all this?

MARISHA: It's The Silmarillion.

MATT: Oh, there is a lot more information!

SAM: Caleb, when you were muttering there, did you say Dolan Tversky?

MATT: Doolan.

TRAVIS: Not Dolan.

LIAM: Similar name.

MARISHA: There's nothing in this. You handed it back, I thought there was going to be something in it.

LIAM: Okay, I will say that I got my fill. I can feel this one's radiating--

MATT: Yeah, burrowing vision into your neck.

LIAM: I want to stay for 17 more hours, but I'm ready to go. I am good. I am done. Thank you.

MARISHA: All right, thank you.

LIAM: Thank you.

MATT: ”Of course! Good day.”

MARISHA: Thanks, Madeer.

MATT: ”Good to see you, Beauregard.” He escorts you out of the Archive.

LIAM: Caleb looks at the thousands of books that he did not read and leaves.

MATT: Yeah, and there's a whole second level above the spiral staircase.

LAURA: And we count our fucking blessings.

MARISHA: You know, you're not going to find any answers in any of those books.

LIAM: Let's go find the others.

LAURA: We've already left the city.

TRAVIS: We are in Rexxentrum.

SAM: They're in a different campaign.

MARISHA: What do you mean it's been 17 years, Pumat? What do you mean?

MATT: You guys, what have you been up to during this time? Because it's been a number of hours.

LAURA: Anything.

TRAVIS: We ate like three shepherd's pies. We fucking killed a guy and hid him in a room. We stuck him next to the skellington.

LAURA: It was great.

TALIESIN: We did our taxes.

LAURA: Molly told all of our fortunes.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: You've gathered all your materials. You went and checked on your cart, which is now currently--

LAURA: We just pushed the giant rotting head out of it and left it on the street.

MATT: Okay, that is a nasty fucking manticore head. The flesh has sloughed off of it at this point. Yeah, it's pretty rough. You save your cart, the horses are still there. The horses you had, at least.

LAURA: Hey, you guys. I never used my fate thingy yesterday because I'm stupid. Did you guys want to use it today?

TRAVIS: For what?

LAURA: Oh, did I not tell you about this thing? Oh my gosh, you guys, you know the weird little thing that we stole?

TRAVIS: Uh-huh.

LAURA: Well, it gives you this-- okay, well you focus on it and you go to this place and you can see it and there's this little gray ball and it goes "Touch me!" and then you go "Okay!" Then it comes out, and it goes in your chest, and you get control of your fate for one time in a day.

TRAVIS: Wow.

ASHLEY: What? What do you mean you get control of your fate?

LAURA: Well, like basically like if you fuck up or something like that and you get to fix it, maybe.

ASHLEY: Can you go back and--?

LAURA: No, it's like all of a sudden you feel a little lucky, maybe.

ASHLEY: Do you want to try it?

TRAVIS: Yeah, sure. Why not?

LAURA: Let's hide next to the body that we just killed so that you can try it in the cellar so that nobody sees, because we should probably be careful pulling this thing out.

TALIESIN: I would imagine right now especially.

LAURA: Yeah. I pull out the box. Just focus on it, Fjord! I'll protect you!

TRAVIS: Do I have to touch it or just look at it?

LAURA: I can't remember. I think you just--

TRAVIS: I'll do both. Are you doing it, too?

ASHLEY: I'm going in?

LAURA: It can only do one person in a day, but we'll pass it around the group, so if you wanted to do it today, Fjord, then Yasha, you can do it tomorrow.

ASHLEY: Okay.

TRAVIS: Sure.

MATT: As you focus on it, there's nothing really there until your hand touches it and then there's a momentary connection. You feel the thrumming of the object, this dull heartbeat. Your vision goes tunneled until you're pulled into this space of light and stars, distant gases and colors. There you see, beyond this brief journey, this sense of self-dissipating. At the moment where it gets a little scary and you being to lose a sense of personal identity, you see this tiny gray mote of energy before you that's also pulsing with that same pattern. You instinctively reach out and feel as you absorb it into yourself, and there, the fragment of--

LAURA: Did he say anything when he touched it? Like Caleb did?

MATT: Did you say anything?

LAURA: Did you say anything? No, you were silent the whole time?

MATT: Your vision has come back to you and you feel this--

SAM: I'm half sea monster!

TRAVIS: Was I supposed to say something?

LAURA: No, it's just when Caleb did it, he was like, “I love you, Mom and Dad!” Then he started crying.

TRAVIS: Oh, no. It was a crazy trip though.

LAURA: Yeah?

TRAVIS: Yep.

ASHLEY: Do you feel like you have control over your fate?

TRAVIS: No?

TALIESIN: Do you feel…lucky?

TRAVIS and TALIESIN: Do you?

TRAVIS: Well, I don't know.

LAURA: I close up the box. I put it back in the bag.

TALIESIN: Let's go to Pumat's and let's get the rest of them together, I'm sure by now--

LAURA: We will ride the cart. Do you guys really think we probably shouldn't become legionnaires, then?

TALIESIN: No.

LAURA: No? We should leave town?

TALIESIN: I think we should get out of town while the getting's good.

LAURA: That lady's really nice, though. She's like a grandma.

TRAVIS: 10,000 gold, I mean, shit. Wouldn't mind earning 10,000 and then bouncing.

SAM: We're going to go to Pumat's as well.

TALIESIN: You're conscripted once you start earning that 10,000.

TRAVIS: Yeah, you're conscripted as long as you stay in town.

LAURA: I wonder how the contract works? I bet it's like a magical contract or something like that where you sign it and then they have like your soul!

TALIESIN: Or you sign it and then the next time you come across some soldiers of the Empire, they have you executed for treason for running off on it.

LAURA: Oh, that would be bad.

ASHLEY: Yeah, we should explore this idea, but maybe.

TRAVIS: Right, let's go to Pumat's.

MATT: We'll say for the purposes of expediency, and you guys lolling around a little bit to try and catch up, you all arrive at Pumat Sol's in roughly the same time in the Pentamarket. As you enter the interior of the chamber, you can see the three Pumats are dusting and staring off because there are currently no other people making purchases inside. Most of the business and chaos-- people dealing with the initial shock and preparation stage of this coming scuffle with the East. As you enter, the first Pumat glances over in your direction. "Oh, hello there! It's real interesting morning times. What can I do for you?”

TRAVIS: Had a bit of a tussle. Guess what we are back for?

LAURA: I bet he doesn't have any more yet.

SAM: Healing potions, do you have any?

MATT: ”Unfortunately, you guys have pretty much cleaned me out, and what little bits I had were snatched up bright and early this morning by the Righteous Brand.”

LAURA: We should have bought some earlier! Do you know of anyone else who would have some?

MATT: ”Generally, I don't like to plug rival purveyors here in the city.”

LAURA: Right, but seeing as how you don't have any inventory.

MATT: ”There is Grace of the Wilds, which is on the southern side of the Pentamarket. You can go ahead and have Jasna Bree maybe help you there if the army hasn't gotten to her first. But I digress. Respectfully, it's going to be real difficult this time of year."

LAURA: To get healing potions?

MATT: ”Because we're at war.”

LAURA: ”This time of year,” like it happens every year?

MATT: ”No, but I mean it's that time of year right now apparently where war happens. That's a problem."

LAURA: Are you going to go to war, Pumat?

MATT: ”No!”

LAURA: But you're such a powerful person, don't you think you would be helpful?

MATT: ”I don't think that's any of our fates right now, isn't that right, boys?" They're all like, "Yeah, no that's--” “No, warfare's not my thing."

TRAVIS: I know we were in here very recently. You haven't got any overnight special deliveries of anything interesting, have you?

MATT: ”Unfortunately, you've taken the bulk of what was there. Much was there except a few odds and ends that you couldn't afford previously."

LIAM: Do you have any of that paper that I have been purchasing so much of?

MATT: "We got a little more paper, yeah."

LIAM: Could I purchase, say 200 gold worth of it?

MATT: "Certainly. That can be provided. We still have that little pearl thing, we got the bracelets, but that's all we got at the moment. Mister Prime back there is hard at work." He turns back and you hear this voice like "Yeah! Got a lot of stock to kick up now! You cleared me out for a while, which thanks for that!"

TRAVIS: You're welcome.

LAURA: What was the pearl again?

MATT: "Oh this here's a pearl that allows you to go ahead and utilize your magical capabilities. Let's see here. Yeah, you use a command word and it allows you to regain one of your spells."

SAM: How much was it?

MATT: "This one runs you roughly about 350 gold pieces."

LAURA: I would like to buy that please, thank you!

MATT: "All righty, by all means."

SAM: Is it one use only, and then it's gone forever?

MATT: "Once per day."

TRAVIS: What was that other item you had?

MATT: "Well, here you are, if you would like to--"

LAURA: Is it the Pearl of Power?

MATT: It is.

LAURA: I had that as Vex!

MATT: "There's this enchanted shield here, which we discussed previously. That has an enchantment to its deflection capabilities so it will help improve your chances of avoiding dangerous physical contact via weaponry and other sources. Then these here are this pair of bracers are able to do a similar scenario given you don't have too many types of hide or metal in the way to prevent the enchantment from protecting you, but--"

TRAVIS: Does it work with medium armor?

MATT: "Well, nah, it only works if you don't have any armor or shield."

ASHLEY: Oh, what does it do?

SAM: No armor, not even light armor?

MATT: "Yeah, sorry."

LAURA: Do you wear armor, Yasha?

ASHLEY: No.

TALIESIN: Oh?

LIAM: Beauregard does not either.

SAM: How much are those?

MATT: "That one will run you back about 1,200 gold."

SAM: Maybe not, forget that.

TALIESIN: I don't know.

ASHLEY: Maybe save that for another day.

SAM: Do you have any enchanted crossbow bolts?

MATT: "Let me go ahead and check there for a second, those are generally smaller scale here. Pumat III, if you don't mind." "I got it, already listening to you, don't worry." He goes up a small ladder in the far corner into an attic place and you hear some rustling around as the other Pumat's there patiently watching. "So yeah, crazy war times, huh?"


TRAVIS: How much for that shield?

MATT: "Oh, this here enchanted shield will run you about 550 gold pieces."

TRAVIS: I think I'm all right.

MATT: "Fair enough." About five minutes pass and then the Pumat comes down, he's got a small, bound cluster of bolts and he goes, "Hey, so it's all we got, but we've got a batch here of ten enchanted crossbow bolts. These upon firing should offer a small bunch of fiery impact on whatever you strike with them."

SAM: How much are they?

MATT: "For each of these, it's 50 gold per bolt."

SAM: I'll take two bolts please.

MATT: "Two bolts, here you go."

SAM: Thank you.

MATT: He passes them over to you. These bolts, upon impact, do an additional 1d8 fire damage.

SAM: Nice.

MATT: You have two of them, and it's one use only.

SAM: Okay. 1d8 fire damage. Great.

MATT: You may have a chance of recovering them every time you--

SAM: Okay, cool. What did we decide? Are we leaving town or are we doing something else?

TRAVIS: We got an offer to work for the city, to be legionnaires. To protect it while its troops, hunters, and mercenaries are going to the front lines. There are bounties of up to 10,000 gold in reward if we stay.

SAM: Caleb, do we want to stay? Are there things here that you need?

LIAM: I defer to the group. I think we work well together and whatever you think's best.

MARISHA: 10,000 gold.

ASHLEY: 10,000 gold is a lot of money.

MARISHA: They want someone really important dead is what it sounds like to me.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Sounds like an expensive enemy to make.

TRAVIS: Our other option being fleeing the city? There were no postings for--

LAURA: We already pushed the nasty head out our wagon.

MARISHA: Oh. Should have done that like a week ago. Good call. Yeah.

TALIESIN: I'm legitimately happy to go in any direction far away from the front line, personally.

MARISHA: Is joining the city joining the war? Is that what they made it sound like?

TRAVIS: Believe so.

TALIESIN: I think it's a slippery slope.

LAURA: Joining the city is protecting the city, more than it is joining the war.

TALIESIN: It's conscription.

MARISHA: The city's a part of the empire.

LAURA: But you're under contract, for 15 gold a week.

LIAM: What about your interest in the Hall of Erudition here and the Academy?

TRAVIS: Oh the Soltryce?

LIAM: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I'd like to see it, but I guess I'm not in a terrible rush.

LAURA: The big one's in Rexxentrum, anyway.

MARISHA: I think we'll make gold wherever we go.

TALIESIN: I agree. They say there's kids disappearing up north?

LAURA: If we stop by the merchants' guild we may still be able to be armored escorts for people.

SAM: Or we could just leave.

LAURA: Or we could just go.

MARISHA: Check by the merchants' guild, see our options, and then make the decision from there.

TRAVIS: Sure.

MARISHA: All right.

LIAM: You know coasting is not a bad idea either. There is not as mass of a gain, but there is not as higher risk for whatever this 10,000 gold is.

LAURA: Yeah, let's not do that one.

LIAM: Play it safe.

LAURA: Just be armored guards.

MARISHA: This means we're staying together, though.

LAURA: Oh, I thought yes, that was a given right? I mean, we all work so well together.

TALIESIN: I like it.

LAURA: We make really good roommates!

MARISHA: We do make such good roommates.

SAM: Well, Beau, do you want us to stay together?

MARISHA: I think we make a good team. I think there's more to be had here.

SAM: All right.

MARISHA: It might run out, who knows. I'm not an optimist, but think there's still more to be had.

TALIESIN: Do we make a polite exit at the least or do we just bugger out?

TRAVIS: She seemed pretty heartfelt, I think a polite exit would be thoughtful.

TALIESIN: After that?

MARISHA: Merchants' guild then polite exit?

SAM: Yeah, maybe we'll rustle up W.C., Loo, John, Crapper, Shitter, and Toilet.

MARISHA: Oh that's right, our horsies!

LAURA and MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Any other business you want to do before you decide to leave the city?

LAURA: Did you want to swing by a see if-- Yeah, can we pop into the other shop? The old Grace of the Wild and see if they have any healing potions, just to check out.

MATT: Okay. Yeah.

TALIESIN: Just in case.

SAM: In the interest of time...

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Do they have any?

MATT: In the interest of time, Jasna Bree, who is a rather eccentric woman with wild black hair, a slightly hard to follow disposition, greets you and is like, "Hi! Welcome! Glad you could make it! Healing potions, yes. Unfortunately kind of already cleared out. I'm so sorry. Give me a week, I will have a fresh batch of healing potions, and I'd be happy to help."

LAURA: Definitely be back in a week. Wait, do you have any herbalism kits?

MATT: "I do! I do!”

LAURA: Oh great! Could I buy some--

MATT: "I have four!"

SAM: How much?

MATT: "For each it's-- let me check." She goes into her ledger.

TALIESIN: The DM's Guide.

MATT: Yeah, it works out well.

LAURA: Would I be able to make potions of healing with this?

MATT: With herbalism kits?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: I believe you would, yes.

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: Can make potions of healing?

MATT: Correct, it is five gold per.

LAURA: Oh great. How many do you have?

MATT: You have to have proficiency with it to make a potion of healing. Are you proficient with herbalism kit?

LAURA: I don't know how I would tell.

MATT: It would be under your proficiencies.

LAURA: Oh, then no. Oh no, I only have proficiency with a forgery kit and a disguise kit.

MATT: Sorry.

LAURA: No, then fuck it! I don't want that shit!

TRAVIS: I'm going to go back to Pumat's. I'm going to buy that damn shield.

MATT: Okay! There you go.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

SAM: If she has the materials to make acid, I'll buy it from her.

MATT: Yeah, she easily has materials and sells them to you.

TALIESIN: I couldn't make potions with alchemist supplies, could I?

MATT: Not potions. You can make poisons, acid, various alchemical concepts, if that's an interest to you.

TALIESIN: All right.

MARISHA: Does she have any badass weapons? Any badass sticks?

MATT: No. She is purely a purveyor of salves and natural remedies and--

LIAM: Ointments.

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Can I ask a question?

MATT: Yes.

4:00:00 - 4:14:37

LAURA: With a healer's kit, can you heal people when you're not in combat? Or is it just for stabilizing?

MATT: The healer's kit usually can be used to stabilize somebody. There's a feat you can take that allows you to spend an action to heal someone with it in combat. It's called the Healer feat. Which is actually pretty cool.

LAURA: Oh, okay. I'll look at that.

MATT: It turns anybody into a combat healer.

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: Should we go say goodbye to somebody and leave?

MARISHA: Are we checking the merchants' to see if there's any armed escort requests out of the merchants' guild?

MATT: Who's helming that?

SAM: Fjord!

TRAVIS: Not me.

LAURA: I'll do it.

MATT: Make an investigation check.

SAM: I'm coming with her.

ASHLEY: I'll help you.

LAURA: Us three. Oh. That was bad.

MATT: She's helping you with it. It's advantage on you.

LAURA: Yes! (laughs) Oh no! Slightly better. Five.

MATT: You gather the knowledge of this war has blindsided most of the merchant guilds in Zadash. Best you can tell, most of them are in the process of getting ready to figure out what their next endeavor is. Those that would be leaving won't be leaving for a few days. If you hang around, you may be able to pick up that kind of work.

ASHLEY: Okay. That's something.

LAURA: Well. I think we'd have to wait. Maybe we should just go?

ASHLEY: Should we say our goodbyes to Orentha?

LAURA: We'll swing by and say, sorry we are declining.

MATT: As you guys make your way back to the King's Hall, you are escorted back into Orentha Stonegrasp's office. "I see you've returned. I appreciate your expediency in getting back to me." Her crackling Southern drawl breaking through with her bright dwarven smile. "Considering what we've discussed, what have you come to a conclusion on?"

LAURA: I think we are probably not going to be able to help out right now.

MATT: "I understand."

SAM: It's not you. It's us. We're not ready for that kind of commitment.

MATT: "I understand, that's all right."

SAM: You're going to make an adventuring party very happy some day.

LAURA: You really will.

MATT: "I hope so. We'll send someone else after the Hawker."

LAURA: After the what?

MATT: "The Hawker."

LAURA: What's a Hawker?

MATT: "Don't worry about it."

SAM: Does anybody know what a Hawker is?

LIAM: Which spelling are you using for that word? The -awk, the -ock?

MATT: H-A-W-K.

LAURA: Like a monster or something?

MATT: "No. He actually was a legionnaire for us about five years back, but then went rogue, and we believe had ties with the Myriad and became a powerful tent-pole here in the Marrow Valley. We had him cornered in Deastok about three months ago by a team of crownsguard under the leadership of Carlos Ventuga. But this Hawker slew Carlos and fled south into the Wuyun Gorge and disappeared into the Menagerie Coast. We're having to send what we can to try and retrieve him and bring him back alive."

LAURA: From the Menagerie Coast?

MATT: "Yes."

TRAVIS: The opposite direction.

LAURA: The Menagerie Coast is really freaking cool, you guys.

SAM: So many choices!

LAURA: Oh shit, that sounds really cool!

MATT: "If you need more time, that's fine."

LAURA: What do you guys think? Hold on, can we talk about this?

TALIESIN: Quick huddle.

SAM: Pros and cons.

TALIESIN: I'm happy just to leave the city.

LAURA: Pros, we get to visit the Menagerie Coast, which is always really cool.

TRAVIS: Pro, 10,000 gold.

LAURA: Do we have a time limit on when we'd be able to get him?

MATT: "No, but the longer it takes, the easier he probably has vanishing into the south."

LAURA: Makes sense.

MATT: "We sent a troupe after him about eight weeks ago, and I fear they may not be coming back at this point. We intended to send some of our top investigators from the capitol after this bounty--"

SAM: Investigators!

LAURA: That's what they said!

SAM: That's our job!

LAURA: We're really good at it!

MATT: "It's 10,000 gold alive, 5,000 dead."

LAURA: What if we were like, let's go after this guy, and then after that, we'll talk about being under contract? Like this can be a test situation.

MATT: "Unfortunately, if this is to happen, I need you under contract."

SAM: Do you need some tea or something?

MATT: "I'm good, I appreciate your conscientiousness."

SAM: A lozenge?

MATT: "I'm all right, but thank you."

TALIESIN: Do you have a lozenge?

SAM: I don't, I just feel bad for her.

TALIESIN: Shouldn't be offering things that you don't have.

MATT: "It's fine."

ASHLEY: What does the contract entail?

MATT: "Retrieving this man and bringing him back here for justice."

ASHLEY: How long are we in contract with you? Just for this, or--?

MATT: "The contract has you as a legionnaire, and as part of that you just--"

SAM: Forever.

MATT: "Well, until we decide to mutually end your service."

MARISHA: Mutually.

MATT: "Well, if you wish out of it, we can discuss it, it's fine. But I mean as opposed to deserting is the problem."

MARISHA: So you want to hire more legionnaires to go kill an ex-legionnaire who wasn't legionnaire-y enough for you.

LAURA: No, he ran away when he was a legionnaire.

MATT: "He ran away and then allied himself, we believe, with the Myriad and then has since, upon attempting to bring him in, murdered some of our finest men."

MARISHA: Right.

LAURA: The Myriad does some scary stuff, you guys.

TALIESIN: If we happen to bring him in even if we weren't under contract--

MATT: "Part of the bounty would still apply I'm sure."

LAURA: How much of the bounty?

MATT: "Probably half."

ASHLEY: That's an option.

LAURA: But if we were part of the contract then we would get access to a bunch of stuff.

ASHLEY: That's true.

MATT: "Think about it."

SAM: Think about it.

LAURA: Can we decide, can we talk about this?

SAM: Huddle up again.

MATT: You guys can discuss this over the next week if you want. You don't need to decide this right now.

TALIESIN: I'm too tired to make proper decisions.

MATT: It's fine. "Return when you have an idea." You're led outside and start making your way to the Leaky Tap to discuss your plan of action. There, waiting--

LAURA: This is where we hit the save point. I don't know.

MATT: As you guys head back to The Leaky Tap, the Righteous Brand are making their way through the city. It's a weirdly solemn, unexpected military parade essentially as they're just gathering supplies and making their way through. It's a show of strength to help rise the spirits of people that seem confused and worried about this coming conflict. So it does seem to calm nerves and a lot of the children seem excited to see them. Coming down the streets on their horses and their armaments in display. While you're watching it go by, a voice whispers up next to you and goes, "Psst, hey." You turn and you see, hood up, Kara. "Sorry, don't mean to bother you. If you have a moment, things are getting strange around here and The Gentleman may have a bit of work for you."

MARISHA: We're the prettiest girl in town.

TALIESIN: Should have left in the middle of the goddamn night.

MATT: We'll pick up from there next time. You guys made quite a display last night in the Victory Pit.

LIAM: You just made it three times as complicated in seven seconds.

MATT: Yeah, I know.

TALIESIN: Knew it was coming.

MATT: Picking up on that. However, you guys do level up. You hit level five.

SAM: What does that mean?

LAURA: Level five?!

MATT: That means it's all rolls and hit points to finish off the evening here.

MARISHA: Right now?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Oh gosh.

MATT: So we'll start over here, we'll go in order. What'd you get, Beau?

MARISHA: I rolled a seven plus three.

MATT: There you go.

MARISHA: Wait, right?

MATT: Whatever your constitution modifier is.

MARISHA: Plus three, yeah.

MATT: Some extra hit points to Beau. What'd you get, Nott?

SAM: I roll a d8?

MATT: Roll a d8.

SAM: I got a seven.

MATT: Nice!

TRAVIS: Everybody rolls a d8?

MATT: I believe for a warlock it's also a d8. Caleb is a d6, he's the only one. Warlock is a d8, but it adds a plus.

LIAM: I rolled a four.

MATT: What'd you get?

LIAM: Four, plus I've a constitution modifier.

TRAVIS: It was a d8?

MATT: d8, yeah.

TRAVIS: Six plus four, ten.

MATT: Nice.

LAURA: Oh I'm rolling a eight as well?

MATT: You are as a cleric, yes.

LAURA: Five.

MATT: Five, ok. d10 for you.

TALIESIN: d10 for me. Six.

MATT: You all are rolling above average, nice.

ASHLEY: d12?

MATT: d12 for you.

ASHLEY: Nice. 11?

MATT: Shit, you guys rolled really good this time, well done!

ASHLEY: Plus two?

MATT: It'll be your constitution modifier, so a plus two to that for 13 hit points. So add 11 and it should give you 13.

LAURA: Oh it'll go. Here, let me get-- Over on this side, you can manage your levels.

ASHLEY: That's right.

MATT: For Molly, Beau, and Yasha, that means your attack action now does two attacks. You get an extra ki point. Casters all get level three spells. That's pretty great. And your proficiency bonus goes up by one. So all your proficient skills, proficient attacks, spell DCs, and spell attack modifiers all go up by one. I think it's all going to be included in there already, in the app. It's a good level.

TALIESIN: I add six to the rolled HP?

MATT: Correct.

TALIESIN: All right.

LIAM: What's everybody's hit points at, what are the new totals?

MATT: Beau also gets stunning strike.

MARISHA: 44.

LAURA: My hit points are super low, you guys.

SAM: What's uncanny dodge?

LIAM: The best thing ever.

LAURA: He got uncanny dodge.

SAM: Sneak attack bonus 3d6! Oh shit. All the dice.

MATT: This is my favorite part. Watching people realize what they get when they level up.

TALIESIN: Oh wait, I get a bunch of weird shit, we're going to have to have a talk.

SAM: You can use your reaction to halve the attacks damage against you?!

MATT: Yep.

SAM: Holy shit. I'm unstoppable!

MATT: That's part of the reason that Vax survived so much in the last campaign.

LAURA: I think I get Revivify now.

SAM: Can I use that once a day? Once a round?

MATT: No, it's just your reaction, once a round.

SAM: Once a round?!

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: Holy shit. I'm a golden god.

TALIESIN: I get a new blood curse. I want to have a conversation about that before we go into that.

MATT: Yes, you do get another blood curse, you get to chose.

LAURA: I have Dispel Magic you guys!

SAM: So does Yasha, no big deal.

ASHLEY: No, that's a big deal.

MATT: Then you get, of course, 3rd-level spells, and you get another invocation. You can mess with it later.

LIAM: Where we're leaving off, are we going to come back? Because it's the end of the day, are we going to come back at the end of the day or are we going to come back next morning?

MATT: It's late afternoon at this point. You guys are coming back right as you met with Kara there.

LAURA: Great, so you can go back to the library next time.

MARISHA: (chanting) Level five, level five.

MATT: Yasha, your speed increases by ten, which is nice. That's some fun stuff. We'll leave it there and we'll pick up next week in this pre-war chaos. Guys, thank you so much for hanging with us. I hope you had a good time. We had a good time. We'll be back next Thursday, see where this goes as choices, paths, avenues, and possibilities all being to arise.

LAURA: (singing) Too many options.

LIAM: They're engrossed in leveling up. This is the joy of Dungeons & Dragons.

TALIESIN: I'm excited to see what new shit I can do. My proficiency bonus, did it automatically go up?

MATT: Yeah, it automatically puts it up.

LAURA: Holy shit, you have so many hit points.

MARISHA: I want to go to Taco Bell on the last 45 minutes of my birthday.

MATT: Okay, let's do it. Happy birthday.

MARISHA: 45 minutes.

MATT: I love you, we're going to get Taco Bell.

TALIESIN: That is the best birthday meal.

MATT: I think so. All right guys, thank you so much, we'll see you next week. We love you, and is it Thursday yet? Good night.

[music]

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