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Pre-Show[]

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

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

MATT: Yes. Before we get into tonight's episode, we do have some announcements to get through, beginning with the first of two sponsors, NordVPN. Sam?

SAM: Matt, you rat bastard, don't even try it, or should I use your evil haxor username, Ultra Kodex?

LAURA: You data fragged Travis. My husband is frozen in stasis.

ASHLEY: Oh no!

LAURA: Travis, can you hear me? Baby?

SAM: (sighs) And you wreaked havoc on one of our favorite sponsors, NordVPN, providers of highest quality data encryption for your internet traffic and it hides your IP and physical location!

LAURA: And it's NordVPN's birthday. What are your demands, you motherboard monster?

MATT: Don't you see? It's these ridiculous NordVPN ads. Three minutes of endless Sam and Laura, Sam and Laura! I can't take it!

SAM: Wait, wait, you just want us leet code monkeys to stop doing ads for NordVPN?

MATT: No! I want to do them myself. The power of the Nordverse shouldn't be in your noob keystrokes, it should lie within the Ultra Kodex.

SAM: What? No, our sponsor would never hire such an unhinged spokesman.

MATT: Well, they hired you, didn't they?

SAM: Oh, ice cold.

MATT: Fine.

SAM: Ice cold.

MATT: If I can't control the Nordaverse, then I shall defrag all of NordVPN. (laughs)

LAURA: You'll have to brute force through us, Johnny Mnemonic.

MATT: Are you challenging me to a hack off? But there's two of you and only one of me. You don't stand a chance.

SAM: Oh, we'll see about that, you root-kit rat. Cryptonic Override. Time to-- Wait, nope, that's not it. Where is it? Jack in! (laughter)

LAURA: Okay. (laughter) (keyboard clacking) Affirmation, BlackWillow69. Firewall up, he's going down.

MATT: You know what you have in common with pizza and bread? You're much better sliced. (gasping) The hack off is on.

SAM: Ah.

MATT: I need to get this--

SAM: What's he doing? Where's he going?

MATT: There it is.

SAM: What is that?

MATT: Ha!

SAM: What is that thing?

LIAM: The helmet.

LAURA: Oh no. BlackWillow, he's drowning me in spectral basal code, I'm going monochromatic.

SAM: What? No, try techno-lusting his universal soldier.

LAURA: I did, but he just bandersnatched my Jumping Jack flash drive.

MATT: What's wrong? Can't handle a simple eenie meenie Bieber rhythm attack?

SAM: Stay with me, Cryptonic!

LAURA: I can't, there's just too many of them. He's slicing me!

SAM: No! Negatoid! You fragged my partner, the only woman I've ever loved.

MATT: Wait, what?

SAM: Oh, nothing, nothing. Travis, you're still frozen, right? Cool, cool. Anyway, back to the hack.

MATT: It's over, BlackWillow, or should I say whack pillow?

SAM: Terrible.

MATT: I've pwned your friends, and I'm about to gleam your cube as well.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: After all I already know your master password.

SAM: No, no, not--

MATT: Swordfish.

SAM: Damn it!

MATT: It's always swordfish.

SAM: Goddamn, I should have known.

MATT: One crypto kick, and you'll drop faster than GameStop stock. Any last words?

SAM: Yes. I have last words. For NordVPN's birthday, every purchase of a two-year plan will get you one additional month free and a surprise gift. Go to https-- seriously-- slash-slash nordvpn.com/criticalrole and use code criticalrole. Protect yourself from cyber attacks, and avoid bandwidth issues with NordVPN. And thanks for continuing their support of our show. Matt, we'll continue this next time, hack to you.

MATT: It had to be this terrible helmet.

MARISHA: It's the best helmet.

MATT: Thank you, Sam.

MARISHA: It just takes away--

MATT: Thank you, NordVPN.

SAM: I heard none of that.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: Just no neck.

ASHLEY: No movement.

MARISHA: Yeah, just-- Old Michael Keaton Batman.

MATT: Yep, yep.

ASHLEY: One eyeball coming through.

LIAM: I liked how you, to see, had to turn the entire axis of the helmet.

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

SAM: The character choices are really interesting.

LAURA: Don't watch me undress, camera! Why every time?!

TRAVIS: Not the way I wrote it. Interesting.

MATT: Thank you, Sam. And big thank you to our friends at D&D Beyond--

SAM: Oh, the other thing that you guys don't know, they're going to do special effects in post that'll make it look like-- Well, I won't-- I can spoil it. It's going to make it look like she turns black and white.

LAURA: Really?

SAM: Yeah.

MARISHA: Kyle, is that true?

SAM: I think so.

KYLE: (from backstage) Yeah.

MARISHA: All right.

LAURA: Whoa!

TRAVIS: Which means it already happened and now we're just talking about it after the fact.

SAM: Yeah, we didn't know!

TALIESIN: Everybody else already knows we're the last to know, literally.

ASHLEY: I also love that it's turning into a love story. (laughter)

SAM: Well.

ASHLEY: This just goes deep.

SAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: It needed something.

ASHLEY: Yeah, it needed a little--

MARISHA: Every blockbuster has to have that love story.

MATT: Well, we're all knee-deep in that Nord lore. (laughter)

TRAVIS: "Nord lore."

MATT: And thank you, D&D Beyond. The official tool set of our show.

ASHLEY: Just knee-deep in that Nord lore.

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: (disgusted noises)

MATT: I'm a Nord lore whore, guys.

MARISHA: Rolled Nord Lore.

MATT: Oh boy. Until the end of February, subscribers get a free set of cool digital dice called the Everlasting Rime dice set. Check it out at dndbeyond.com. (laughter) You all right there?

TALIESIN: Yeah, we're good.

MARISHA: It's all Bob Loblaw's Law Blog.

MATT: Yeah, I know. (laughter) We have actually teamed up with BlizzConline 2021 for a special one-shot.

MARISHA: Yeah, we did!

MATT: I'll be running a game inspired by Diablo.

MARISHA: Yeah, you will.

MATT: With players Laura Bailey, Liam O'Brien, and special guests Mica Burton, Carlos Luna, and my wife, Marisha Ray, right there.

MARISHA: That's me!

MATT: This one-shot airs this Saturday, February 20th at 2:05-- specifically-- Pacific at blizzcon.com as part of the BlizzCon experience and celebration. So learn more about BlizzConline's jam packed schedule by visiting blizzcon.com or via their Twitter feed @blizzard_ent. ENT.

SAM: Conline?

MATT: Yeah, BlizzConline.

SAM: Not "live."

TRAVIS: Conlive.

MARISHA: BlizzConline.

ASHLEY: Online.

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: Oh, oh, I get it now. Okay.

MATT: Yeah.

SAM: Okay, okay.

MATT: Because everything's online now.

LIAM: Some leet haxor you are. (laughter)

MATT: He plays one on TV, Liam. But yeah, so check it out. Super excited. We had a lot of fun doing it. Marisha, you got announcements?

MARISHA: I do. Oh my goodness. Get ready for a new episode of Critter Hug. (cheering) With our hosts Matthew Mercer and the lovely Mica Burton. You all know them, you all love them. They're spotlighting awesome folks and projects in the tabletop community. And the new episode airs this Tuesday, February 23rd at 4:00pm Pacific on Twitch. And then, of course, the VOD on February 25th because that's how our VODs have always worked. And then, in case you missed it, our second episode of Crit Recap Animated is now on YouTube. (cheering) Yeah. Dives into the first story arc of the Mighty Nein campaign. It's super cute. Go watch it if you haven't. With narration by our Lore Keeper Dani Carr, animation by Offworld Studios, and writing by Dani, Kyle, and me. (cheering) Check it out, it's great. Go watch it. Get a refresher.

LIAM: Now it's moving into aggressive.

MATT: Yeah. She's good at that.

MARISHA: Fucking watch it.

MATT: Okay. Quickly, we're also going over to Laura for the last bit of our announcements.

LAURA: Oh, hi. I am telling you about this.

SAM: Hey! (cheering)

TRAVIS: Long-sleeve hooded shirt.

SAM: -- sleeve hooded?

LAURA: Yes, and-- wait. And also, you have the other shirt. ♪ Da da dum. Bah da dum! ♪ Both of these shirts are designed by Bryan Weiss. You may recognize the designs, but now they're on new things. And they're in our US store right now. Coming soon to other stores, dotah! In addition to that, we have--

ASHLEY: What is it?

LAURA: A brand new Scanlan dice set. I just showed them to Sam--

MARISHA: Purple baggies.

SAM: They're really cool--

LAURA: Oh yeah, they're purple baggies, and then the inside has the hot pink. I don't know if you knew that.

SAM: I didn't know that!

LAURA: Yeah, because Scanlan.

SAM: And they're so shiny.

LAURA: They are so shiny and kind of troll-y at the same time.

LIAM: Magic.

ASHLEY: Are they sparkly?

SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Oh, and these are everywhere right now in all our stores, including our new Canadian store.

SAM: Ooh!

LAURA: Go Canada.

MATT: (laughs) Awesome.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Thank you, Laura.

LAURA: Oh, I should say that's canada.critrole.com.

SAM: Wait, canada.critrole.com?

LAURA: That's what it says on this page, Sam.

SAM: Okay.

MATT: I trust, I trust. Well, I believe--

MARISHA: Canada before Crit Role.

MATT: Exactly. That brings us to the end of our announcements, and as such, let's go ahead and jump into tonight's episode of--

LIAM: Oh boy.

MATT: -- Critical Role.

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

Part I[]

MATT: Welcome back. That was terrible, you guys--

LIAM: That was too much.

MATT: -- stopped giving a shit over the time we've doing this. (laughter) Last we left off: The Mighty Nein, after making their way across Eiselcross encountering and fleeing from the Tomb Takers, meeting up with their old "companion"-- in quotes-- Essek and discussing the possibility of delving into Aeor's ruins specifically. After deciding to take some time with the brief respite you have after sending the Tomb Takers seeking another alternative to the threshold crest that they had lost, you made your way towards Yussa. You went ahead and looked into some possibilities of how to prepare for this. Acquired some friends to help you, to provide some options, some items. Spoke with Halas, shunted Halas. Went and visited Kima and Allura over in Emon, and let them know what you were going to be attempting. In doing so, you were also provided with some aid from their end, as well as some items loaned. One was offered, one was... surprisingly convinced to temporarily lend a very powerful item. If only we could find a way to use it. But you returned to Rexxentrum. And after hearing a little bit of the current murmurs politically between the Cobalt Soul and other aspects of the Empire, realized that beyond just the tension building in Eiselcross, things are a bit tense here at home, even in the aftermath of the peace treaty that was signed. After gathering yourselves for an evening's rest after a very long day of hopping literally around Exandria, you went after acquiring a chamber within the Rexxentrum archive to rest, lay down. And a few of you were visited by curious dreams. Caduceus, with an odd vision regarding something similar to the Grove where he grew up. Yasha, with a unique encounter with the Storm Lord of which it had been some time. And Caleb and Beauregard, who had a second evening encounter with some leering red eyes, welcoming you to whatever odd, dream state connection you currently harbor with them.

TRAVIS: You fucking dicks.

MATT: And so with that, a day of rest is completed. A morning greets you. You are absolved of whatever remaining lingering exhaustion points you may have carried. You are healed. But for some of you, not the most restful evening of sleep. As you all begin to gather your things, what would you like to do?

LIAM: Well, I think after a night like that, the first thing I want to do is strip naked in front of a mirror.

MARISHA: Yeah, I find Caleb and do the same thing. I start subtly, like, pulling up sleeves.

LIAM: Is there anything on my backside?

MARISHA: Uh. Lift up his shirt like I'm looking for ticks. Anything?

TRAVIS: Are y'all alone, or are we in the back eating popcorn for this?

LAURA: Because we're like-- Yeah.

TRAVIS: I would totally be here for it.

LAURA: We're all in the same room.

MARISHA: I think we only got two rooms between the two of us. So probably in front of people.

MATT: A few of you are seeing this. It isn't like--

LIAM: So we're in the corner?

MARISHA: In the corner being weird.

MATT: Frantically searching each other for ticks. It's a thing.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

MATT: With a brief investigation of Caleb, you see a second red eye has apparated in the center of the shoulder blades in the back.

MARISHA: I just tap on it. (clicking)

LIAM: Turn around, let me see your neck.

MATT: You look where the tattoo that she acquired from Orly is, and right square in the center of the tattoo with a previous eye was, you see a glowing red eye has appeared.

LAURA: Oh no!

TRAVIS: Separate locations for them, right, not like in between his scapula shoulder blades--

MATT: Yeah. Different locations.

LIAM: Yeah, just like the first were in different places.

TRAVIS: Shoulder for you, in between your shoulder blades, back of your neck, and where?

LAURA: Hand.

MARISHA: And my hand.

ASHLEY: So you each have two now?

LAURA: Yeah.

SAM: Are there pupils? Are they colored?

MATT: Just a solid red.

SAM: All of them are the same color--

MATT: All of them are the same color.

SAM: -- not shades of red, okay.

MARISHA: How does it go with the green, with the emerald?

SAM: I mean, it's kind of nice.

MARISHA: Yeah?

SAM: Yeah.

LIAM: Festive.

MARISHA: Yeah. Complementary colors?

SAM: Reminds me of Winter's Crest. Yeah.

LIAM: Do we feel any different?

MATT: Make a perception check.

LIAM: Find me, Google Docs. Nope. Nope.

SAM: You can't say Google. Oh shit, I said it! (laughter)

LIAM: 16.

TRAVIS: Same as it ever was. We ain't learned shit.

MATT: In the midst of all this chaos and tension, you take a moment to just check in with yourself and quietly breathe and feel and gauge where you sit physically, emotionally. You don't sense any different. Nothing seems to be shifted, elevated, diminished, beyond just the trail of adrenaline that's still pumping through your system post-discovery this morning.

LIAM: A lot of screaming.

MARISHA: Yeah, more talk of dreams and what we can craft from them. Did you get that?

LIAM: Shit.

MARISHA: Fuck.

LIAM: It's not every night.

MARISHA: No.

LIAM: But... ticking clock.

MARISHA: Do you think this is they're counting it based on the individual, or like we're-- they're counting it between us? Are we growing exponentially here? That's probably not right.

SAM: Growing--?

LIAM: In ability, in power, or--

MARISHA: In the amount of eyes.

LIAM: Amount of eyes. I mean, it's all conjecture at this point. The only thing I'm feeling is that we need to-- whatever plan we are going to cobble together, we need to do it fairly quickly and act on it. Good morning, everyone.

MARISHA: Morning.

ASHLEY: Good morning.

TALIESIN: Hey.

TRAVIS: Can you reach out to Lucien or any of the other Tomb Takers? Have you tried to connect your mind?

MARISHA: It's crossed my mind, but I haven't tried. I'm willing to try, though.

LIAM: Hey, asshole.

LAURA: I don't know, how would we know? I could try scrying on him and see. Ugh. I hate it. I feel icky when I try to do it, but I could.

MARISHA: Think he can see through these?

LAURA: I don't know.

LIAM: It doesn't seem like he needs to see through these. He can see, anyway.

TRAVIS: I think with his magic, though, he knows exactly where you are.

LIAM: So what are we going to do today? We could get some shopping done. This is as good as it gets for supplies and anything you need.

SAM: Wait, where are we again?

LIAM: Rexxentrum.

SAM: Thank you.

TALIESIN: Get around.

MARISHA: Heading to Nicodranas soon.

TALIESIN: One of the last two stops, as far as I know.

LIAM: Yeah, is Nicodranas sort of our jumping off point for when we're ready to go?

TALIESIN: Actually, I need to go home before we--

LAURA: You need to go home?

TALIESIN: I do.

LIAM: Okay.

SAM: Why?

TALIESIN: It was a piece of the puzzle. I don't know. I had a dream.

MARISHA: A dream.

LAURA: Do you have eye-- do you have an eye?

TALIESIN: I have two.

LAURA: No! You know what I mean, Caduceus!

LIAM: I look in his armpit.

MARISHA: I lift up his armpit.

TALIESIN: It's just a birthmark. It's not shaped like an eye or anything. If anything, it should probably be looked at.

LIAM: Smells like sandalwood.

MARISHA: Yeah, it does.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

MARISHA: A little eucalyptus.

TALIESIN: I wear a little, well-- (laughter) It's been a day. I had a dream that made me think that there's some connection. That there's something I should see. I don't know. I wasn't planning on going home, but I think I have to.

MARISHA: A connection to the Astral Sea, to Lucien?

TALIESIN: To what we're fighting. I don't know.

LAURA: Was it connected to the forest we saw?

TALIESIN: I think it was.

TRAVIS: The one we burned?

TALIESIN: Yes.

LAURA: Is it bad that I burned it? You think I made it worse?

TALIESIN: No, I genuinely think we did the right thing.

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: But... I don't know. I didn't want to go home, but I think I have to.

LAURA: Do we need to go there before Nicodranas, or--?

TALIESIN: That's up to you.

LIAM: Well, I think we should just agree on our musts. The things that we need done. I think that Jester's idea to approach my old friends and see if they would be willing to procure more medallions for us, that might be possible.

LAURA: It'd be wonderful if we could hide from them.

LIAM: And if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. And we just plunge ahead. I think there's enough history between them and I that they would agree to meet.

MARISHA: Just remember, let's try and find a quiet, secretive place to meet with them, since they are being investigated.

LAURA: Maybe you can have them come to the tower. That seems like a nice secret place.

TALIESIN: Huh.

LAURA: You don't have to show them the floor that has-- You can keep it a secret.

TALIESIN: Do we have any other friends in town?

TRAVIS: Or could we upgrade the tower with some more, I don't know, like a bell chime? People choose to come or go, or restrict their--

LIAM: I can already do that. Sorry, I'm just re-configuring my ideas for the day. We could do that.

MARISHA: And we do have friends in town.

TALIESIN: We could get a message to them without being seen.

LAURA: I could also send a message to them without being seen.

TRAVIS: (laughs)

LIAM: That's a bingo.

LAURA: You know, it's what I do.

TALIESIN: It is what you do, that's fair.

LIAM: So little bit of shopping, school friends.

TRAVIS: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: Does anyone else have anything to do here in this town?

TRAVIS: I have a question for you, actually, being the big arcane brain. In your time at the Cerberus Assembly, did you study any of what Lucien and the Tomb Takers do? It's what Molly did, the blood magic.

LIAM: I don't think so. You mean specifically whether or not I've come across knowledge in wider--

MATT: Roll an arcana check.

LAURA: Well, we learned that they were of the order of the Clarets.

LIAM: 27.

MATT: Damn.

ASHLEY: Wow.

MATT: You've come across in your studies at school bits and pieces of what's called hemocraft. Hemocraft is a form of arcana that is considered largely necromancy-adjacent, and not formally taught. Largely because it uses blood as a focus and as a tool for all sorts of spells. Which both from a divine worship standpoint, and just from a societal standpoint, is largely misunderstood. Or embraced by people of less than moral persuasions. There are historical elements of blood mages and people that have used and harnessed blood as a power source and to do so you need a lot of blood. It usually involves a lot of bodies. So yeah, hemocraft historically is heavily frowned upon by most society and civilization. Those who practice it, there are different pursuits, but the orders are self-proclaimed keepers of the secrets of hemocraft and you've heard tales here and there about some of them doing good things, some of them doing bad things. They largely wander outside in the outskirts of civilization for that reason, for whatever their purposes may be. But that is what you would understand from your studying in the realm of what the Tomb Takers seem to be trained with.

LIAM: Okay, so I would say I probably dithered about a bunch of that. Was there something specific?

TRAVIS: Yeah, they mentioned they were, as Jester said, a part of the Claret Order. I just assumed that was a thing, like a temple or a religion or something. But does that mean there are more of them and if so, is it a small group, a big group? Is it someone that we should check in with to see if, I don't know, are the branches of the Claret Order that are doing the same shit? Or would they be unhappy that these five are talking to each other through a bunch of red, glowing eyeballs?

LIAM: It seems like that would've been a history.

MATT: That would be history.

MARISHA: I was going to say, would Beau have heard of this?

MATT: Both could roll a history check.

LIAM: 27 again.

MARISHA: Wow. Probably not as good. Well-- well. What's 14 plus 16?

LIAM: A lot.

MARISHA: 30?

MATT: 30.

MARISHA: 30.

TRAVIS: All right, Empire kids. (laughter)

LAURA: It's the eyes, the eyes give them special powers.

ASHLEY: It's true.

MATT: You know of the orders, but any location of theirs or any specifics is pretty well-kept on their guard because if not, they would probably be hunted or at least subject to all sorts of manhunts. But what you both would know is that they're a little nomadic. There is no central location that they stick to. The few that did exist have been burned and toppled.

TRAVIS: Oh.

MATT: Probably once they were discovered by members of the Empire or even the Julous Dominion, the very, very beginning for those who were practicing hemocraft, even before the orders really took place.

LIAM: So it's a little bit like trying to find the Court of the Owls.

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

TRAVIS: Good ref.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: You would notice with your passive perception, Caleb, as you're having this conversation and maybe it's the conversation about hemocraft, maybe it's just the rude awakening that led you to being a little more focused in the morning, but as everyone's getting their materials together donning their armor to start the day, you notice, beneath Fjord's undershirt, this faint red glow that just ever so carefully catches your eye at this proximity. Right across where the sternum is poking outside of the shirt.

TRAVIS: So I can see where you were looking. When we were-- in the quick hurry to get away, Lucien, while keeping his eyes on you, sort of did a back swipe with his scimitar and when he did, this arcane circle appeared on my chest and it burned real bad. And I only thought of it this morning because you guys have two more of those eyes. And so I just didn't know if you might know anything about that.

LAURA: Well, take your shirt off, I want to see it.

MARISHA: Wait, what?

TRAVIS: (ripping)

MARISHA: Ooh!

MATT: (laughs)

ASHLEY: Whoa!

MARISHA: Ah!

ASHLEY: The beauty!

MARISHA: Oh, it's blinding.

TALIESIN: I'm rolling a d4 force damage.

SAM: It's so skinny!

TRAVIS: Not anymore, bitch!

SAM: So skinny.

TRAVIS: I've been lifting!

SAM: It's like--

MARISHA: It's true!

SAM: It's inverted.

TRAVIS: No!

MARISHA: We've pumped up our reps!

LIAM: Everybody, this is fine.

TRAVIS: (bouncing)

LIAM: This is fine.

LAURA: What is it? Do you recognize the symbol?

MATT: With the arcana check earlier. You do see it's very faint and just barely visible on the skin. It looks almost like scars in a circle pattern and it forms a glyph with a series of symbols carved within it. And there's a very, very faint deep reddish-purple glow. It is old hemocraft. It is a brand of some kind. You're uncertain necessarily of exactly what it does, but it remains on his chest. Well, you rolled a 27 on arcana. It is a brand. The best you can tell is it has some semblance of divination attached to it. It bears some similar marks.

TRAVIS: Fuck.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Do you think it can be dispelled?

MARISHA: Maybe.

LIAM: Dispel Magic.

MATT: Dispel Magic? Okay. Let me check one thing real fast. Just to check in on my own shit.

SAM: Wow.

TRAVIS: You'd think I would have noticed this while changing clothes, but fairly unaware. Apparently my passive perception sucks!

MARISHA: Is it like a sunburn?

SAM: How often do you gaze at your own chest?

MARISHA: It gets redder?

TRAVIS: I don't know about you, but every day, friend.

MATT: If you could go ahead and roll a d20 and then add your intelligence modifier for me.

LIAM: Low roll. Intelligence modifier?

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: Low roll. 12.

MATT: 12. You go to dispel, and there's a shimmer and it glows brighter for a second and you swear for a brief moment you feel like it's getting hotter--

TRAVIS: (yell of pain)

MATT: -- and then it just subsides, remains, unchanged. It reacted to the dispel, but it did not scatter or vanish.

ASHLEY: Did you say that it has scars and things?

MATT: It looks like a scar, almost, that wasn't there before, but almost like it was branded into his chest.

LIAM: I yell, "Don't move!" And I slap him really hard on the tit.

TRAVIS: (yelping in pain) (laughter)

TRAVIS: Oh no, my nipple's hard, ow.

SAM: What if Yasha used her-- Oh, wait, do you have that sword anymore?

ASHLEY: I gave it-- I-- no.

SAM: Oh, sorry.

ASHLEY: Kima and I did a switcheroo.

TRAVIS: Well, I guess it's just the three of us. Lucien disciples. We'll have to stick together, eh?

SAM: Wait, can you three speak together in unison?

LIAM: Splinter group, yeah?

TRAVIS: At the same time. One, two, three. Maximum.

MARISHA: Tits.

LIAM: (delayed) Maximum tits in alley.

MARISHA: Maximum tits. It's maximum tits alley.

SAM: The Somnovem is so hard to understand, their ways.

TRAVIS: Takes a lot of training.

SAM: Maximum tits?

TRAVIS: Yup.

LIAM: Maximum tits alley. (laughter)

MARISHA: My favorite alley.

TRAVIS: If you play it backwards, it'll all make sense. (laughs)

LIAM: History of the slums of Rexxentrum.

MARISHA: Yeah! (laughs)

LIAM: (gruff, cockney) Cor, you want to go out with the maximum tits? Yeah! (laughter)

TRAVIS: Cool. Cool.

LAURA: How do we get that-- what does it even do? How do we get that thing off of you?

TRAVIS: Divination. They can follow.

LIAM: So it's the same plan for more reasons.

TALIESIN: Oh man, we need to get rid of that, or else-- Well, no.

LIAM: Well, we keep trying. Maybe... Are you able to?

LAURA: I can Dispel Magic.

SAM: Want to give it a shot? You might have to touch Fjord's chest, though.

LIAM: Slap him really hard in the tit.

LAURA: Oh no, what am I going to do?

SAM: Yasha, maybe spread your wings, give them a little privacy?

ASHLEY: No! (laughter)

SAM: Like a changing curtain.

ASHLEY: I'll open my jacket because I'm big, and I'll just cover them.

SAM: That's nice.

ASHLEY: I want to save them.

TRAVIS: I don't think we need that. I'm already no shirt on. Just standing here.

SAM: She's going to be up there doing things.

LAURA: I'm going to cast it at 4th-level.

MATT: 4th-level? Okay.

LAURA: Should I do it higher than that?

SAM: Why waste it on Fjord?

TRAVIS: It's just a burned sigil into my chest. I mean, don't worry too much about it.

LAURA: I don't know how these things work. I'm just asking.

LIAM: Well, we don't know how strong the forces are we're dealing with. I slap him in the tit again.

MATT: (laughs)

TRAVIS: (yelps)

SAM: Magical tit! (laughter)

TRAVIS: Gah! My hands are cold.

LIAM: Okay, I loosened him up for you. Give it a shot.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: Get the blood flowing.

LAURA: Both tits.

TRAVIS: Slap or place?

LAURA: No, just place.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: At 4th-level, you said?

LAURA: Huh? At 4th-level.

MATT: Roll a d20, add your wisdom modifier, please.

TALIESIN: I see you doing this, I'm going to be done with this shit.

LAURA: Oh, come on! Why?!

TALIESIN: Really?

LAURA: It's a one.

MATT: Aw!

SAM: Minimum tit.

LIAM: Minimum.

MARISHA: Minimum tits.

LAURA: As she places her hands on your chest, even as she tried to warm them up, they're still pretty cold.

TRAVIS: Pecs! My pecs! My rock hard fucking pecs!

LIAM: Minimum tit lane.

MATT: On your chest.

TRAVIS: Yep.

MATT: You feel that sigil begin to warm and warm and then burn hot, hot! Oh, that actually hurts a lot.

TRAVIS: Ah!

MATT: And you pull away for a moment and you see it glowing brightly. And then it returns untouched.

LAURA: I'm sorry.

TRAVIS: Did you get it?

LAURA: No, it's still there. I guess Dispel Magic just doesn't work.

SAM: That would be the conclusion that we would arrive to at this point, yes.

TRAVIS: Feel like this is what the tattoos were like without any of the payoff.

LIAM: One thing that I learned in my youth is that after a great deal of pain-- Whack!

TRAVIS: (yelps)

LIAM: Feels really good right afterwards.

TRAVIS: There's an outline now.

MARISHA: It's just the endorphins.

LIAM: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Should sign that.

ASHLEY: I could try to rub it out. Well, that didn't work with Beau, so...

TRAVIS: How many hands do you need for that?

TALIESIN: (wheezes)

ASHLEY: I don't even need my hands. (laughter)

LIAM: This is a serious show.

LAURA: Yeah, sorry.

TRAVIS: Why don't I have Dispel Magic?

TALIESIN: I didn't have the Dispel Magic up, but I hadn't finished selecting my spells, so I'm torn.

TRAVIS: What if that spell doesn't even work? (laughs)

LAURA: I mean, I feel like we would believe that it doesn't at this point with two of us trying it.

LIAM: Let's go find that pillar in Eiselcross again.

TALIESIN: Did you look like you sucked at it, though, is the question.

LAURA: Did I look like I sucked at it, or if I was really focusing?

MARISHA: Is this a dispel thing or a restoration thing?

TRAVIS: It's fine. If it's so he can see me, he's already going to be looking at us anyway through scrying. Maybe it just lets him know--

TALIESIN: Exactly where we are.

TRAVIS: Yeah, or something.

LAURA: Well, do you have Greater Restoration? Because, you know, we could try that. It does help with curses! Maybe it's like your curse.

TRAVIS: We're not wasting a Greater Restoration on this!

SAM: On you? You're one of our teammates! Of course we're going to--

TRAVIS: Well, I mean we're far away.

LAURA: That was very kind of you, Veth.

MARISHA: Oh god. (giggling)

TRAVIS: So involved. (laughter)

TRAVIS: We should go. We have things we have to do.

LAURA: Yes, we have to buy things.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I don't think it would help with this.

LAURA: Okay.

LIAM: We got distracted by his rock hard pecs.

TRAVIS: Thank you, Caleb! Pecs!

LIAM: It was ironic.

TALIESIN: His chest was a lot. I suppose.

LIAM: Sure was. So we're going shopping. We're going to find my old school chums. Then we are going to travel to see your folks.

TALIESIN: Feels important.

SAM: Shopping for what?

MARISHA: I'll talk to you later.

TRAVIS: Just out of curiosity, I'm down to go. Could you give us any hint as to what you saw? Like, are we going to fight beasts or plants or...

TALIESIN: I didn't see anything to fight. I just saw that perhaps-- Saw that perhaps the corruption is more related than I thought it was and that I was hoping it wouldn't be, and that maybe that there is a reason to go.

LAURA: What precisely did you see?

TALIESIN: A forest in pain, a forest dying. It's been a while to be honest. Hours.

TRAVIS: ♪ It's been a while! ♪

MATT: (laughs)

MARISHA: Does it feel worse than how you left The Grove?

TALIESIN: Feels more acute. It feels very specific. It feels like what we saw.

LAURA: This seems dire.

ASHLEY: Do you feel like it's a result of what we did?

TALIESIN: I don't-- I don't know. I don't think so, but I'm choosing to be hopeful about it and think that if somehow the Grove has combated this effect for so long, even if it has been slowly losing that battle until recently, that maybe, I don't know, there's maybe something to be gained by seeing this battlefield.

MATT: Make an insight check for me. This is a general insight into the dream itself and the--

SAM: Self insight?

MATT: The imagery.

TALIESIN: 24.

MATT: Not bad. You know not of the status of The Grove. There were threads that seemed to connect elements of the Savalirwood to things that you saw in the ruins in Eiselcross. The imagery, the transformation of the landscape mimic the transformation to that of the hungry floating city of Cognouza itself. The ground turning into teeth and tongues. The trees becoming limbs. And buildings, architecture, and flesh merging, swirling, twisting, consuming. If that were happening now, that would be awful. Maybe it was a premonition. Maybe it was the importance of what path you're on or what's at stake should you fail. It's hard to tell.

TALIESIN: Just-- just a-- Wow, this is what two weeks does. Would it be possible just to check in really quickly to see? I know that messages are thin.

LAURA: Oh sure, I can Scry on your sister.

TALIESIN: Or just a...

LAURA: I've never been there, so I can't--

TALIESIN: Talk or--?

LAURA: I've never been to your home. Oh, send a message to them!

TALIESIN: Yeah, just a message.

LAURA: Oh yeah, yeah, I can send a message. Of course.

TALIESIN: Do you have a favorite or should I?

LAURA: You just tell me who you want to talk to.

TALIESIN: Let's talk to Cornelius. Let's talk to Dad.

LAURA: Have I met Cornelius?

TALIESIN: You've met them all.

LAURA: I did meet Cornelius? Okay.

MATT: You met the whole Clay family.

MARISHA: There was like five of them.

TALIESIN: I got a lot of them. Yeah.

TRAVIS: Shocker.

MATT: At the lagoon after all the statues were found around...

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay. All right, I'm going to send a message to Cornelius. What would you like me to say?

TALIESIN: Just... I'm coming home. We're coming home. Things have been strange, and is everything all right? Has there been any change? Are things holding?

LAURA: Okay. Okay. I'm going to send a message to Cornelius.

TRAVIS: That was 22 words.

LAURA: Wow. I'll give it some flair. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Take that, I'll make it better.

SAM: Hey!

MATT: Put a little stank on it.

MARISHA: Can't remember three words.

LAURA: I already forgot what you wanted to say. (laughter) Don't! That doesn't count! I haven't sent the message yet. Stop it! I'm sending the message now. Cornelius. Caduceus here. We've been doing things, creepy shit. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Is everything--

SAM: Where's the punctuation in that sentence?

ASHLEY: "Doing things creepy shit." (laughter)

MARISHA: Where are we? (laughter)

ASHLEY: Stop clubbing baby seals.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Oh man. (laughter)

MATT: Sounds like you're trying to tell his parents you're getting involved with their son there. (laughter)

LAURA: Heading back. How are things there? Creepy shit, too? How's the woods? Let me know, please. (laughter)

LIAM: A lot of umlauts in that message.

TRAVIS: Wow. Yeah, a lot! (laughs) (laughter)

ASHLEY: That's amazing.

LIAM: (strangely) How are the woods? (laughter)

SAM: Heading back? What does that even mean?

LAURA: I should've just gone with what he said.

MARISHA: "We've been doing creepy shit, too"? (laughter)

MATT: (as Cornelius) "Well, hello! And good morning! Not a lot of new creepy stuff. Woods are fine. Dreams have been weird."

LAURA: (gasps)

SAM: Oh.

MATT: "Wild Mother, watch us."

LAURA: He was really concise with his words. I'm impressed. Yeah.

TALIESIN: Why I picked him.

LAURA: I let you know what he said. Dreams, huh?

TALIESIN: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Have you guys tried to make anything with your minds yet? Or to make anything while you're dreaming?

MARISHA: I've thought about it. I just don't, I feel like we need to talk about that.

TALIESIN: Isn't technically just using your hands making things with your mind?

MARISHA: Well, I mentioned last night that maybe there is a power here that we can harness.

LIAM: I'm trying to actualize or manifest a hat on Beauregard's head.

MARISHA: What kind of hat?

LIAM: Like a Napoleon hat.

MARISHA: Make it good.

LIAM: Big feather.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Are you just trying to stare really hard 'til it hurts?

LIAM: (groans)

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LAURA: I'm going to take out my paints and draw a Napoleon hat.

LIAM: Damn it.

MARISHA: I help Caleb--

MATT: Make a sleight of hand check.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: -- really think about the Napoleon hat.

LIAM: I'm staring right at her while I do this.

LAURA: 15.

MARISHA: We will manifest a hat. We will manifest a hat.

TRAVIS: Chant it together.

MATT: You watch as very--

LAURA: Close your eyes! Close your eyes. Think a bit harder.

LIAM: But I feel like if I use my eyes.

SAM: Mage Hand!

MARISHA: Manifest a hat.

LIAM: I'm thinking of Easter Sunday.

MATT: You watch as gingerly, out of nowhere, it seems, this cartoony Napoleon hat, you know, the great Steve Napoleon of Wildemount-- (laughter)

MATT: -- just drifts down out of frame of your vision and gently comes to rest at an awkward cocked angle onto Beau's head.

LIAM: Well, we have done it. The power of the Somnovem knows no bounds. Congratulations, and welcome to the Eyes of Nine, Beauregard Lionett.

MARISHA: It's made of paper.

LAURA: No, it's not! It's made of actual hat stuff! (laughter)

SAM: Magical paint.

LAURA: Yeah, I made it out of my magic paints. I mean, I didn't make it. I'm saying he made it out of magical-- It's real hat stuff.

TALIESIN: The stuff that hats are made of.

TRAVIS: Fuck your D&D characters' names. Steve Napoleon in this bitch. (laughter)

MARISHA: If someone's not Steve Napoleon in campaign three. (laughter)

LIAM: I feel like we should move forward with our plans.

TRAVIS: (laughs) At some point this morning. (laughs)

LAURA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: You have an eye on your neck? Where--?

LIAM: No, it's back here.

SAM: Oh yeah, with your angel blood maybe you could...

ASHLEY: I want to just flick it.

SAM: Oh, flick it.

ASHLEY: And just see if it gets mad.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: It's a stupid thing to do, but just to see if there's any response to...

TALIESIN: I'd be mad if you flicked me in the eye.

ASHLEY: Agitating it.

LIAM: Are you flicking it?

ASHLEY: Do you want--?

LIAM: I'm subtracting one hit point. (laughter)

SAM: She's raging.

ASHLEY: If I just tap on it.

MATT: Whack! A steady hit. Likely a small welt will rise in time, but it doesn't seem to react. It's odd, and much like with Mollymauk in the time that you knew him, these tattoos, they look like tattoos. At a glance, it looks like ink, it bends with the skin. It's just an image. So it doesn't have any difference in physicality or texture, other than the fact that in a close look, it is smooth. There's no pores. Just where the eye is, it's just a smooth surface.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LAURA: Can I-- Give me one of your not-creepy daggers, just a regular dagger.

SAM: They were all stolen, but I'll give you a crossbow bolt.

LAURA: Okay. I'm going to take a crossbow bolt and poke my finger until it bleeds.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Then I go over to the eye and smudge it on the eye.

MATT: It smudges onto it.

LAURA: Oh.

MARISHA: That was a good idea.

LAURA: Well, sorry. That's gross now. I thought it would do something.

TRAVIS: Do you feel more powerful?

TALIESIN: Or do you feel sticky? I don't know.

LIAM: (sighs) I still just feel awkward.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: So that plan.

MARISHA: Okay. So we know we're going to talk to your-- (clears throat) (laughter)

LIAM: She's changing!

TRAVIS: Kill her! Kill her!

MATT: Roll initiative! (laughter)

ASHLEY: No!

MARISHA: Our date! So close!

SAM: We've mentioned shopping a few times.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

SAM: What are we shopping for?

LAURA: Well, you need more crossbow bolts.

SAM: Yeah, I mean, yeah, sure.

LIAM: I need some supplies.

LAURA: I want to get a jeweled chalice, so in case we have to cast Heroes' Feast, then we can.

SAM: Do you have what you need to revive people and stuff?

LAURA: I got lots of diamonds.

SAM: Okay.

MARISHA: How many healing potions did we get from--

TALIESIN: Powdered.

MARISHA: Huh?

LIAM: We got two from Yussa.

SAM: Where are the new healing potions?

TRAVIS: Don't look at me. I'm not holding any shit anymore.

LAURA: I would like one, because I had to down one.

SAM: I would like one as well because I had to drink one.

LAURA: Okay, yeah. You both can have a healing potion.

SAM: Are they greater, regular or--

LAURA: They were just regular, right?

TALIESIN: Diet.

TRAVIS: No, they were superior.

MARISHA: Superior, right?

SAM: Is that this?

MATT: No, superior is in the other box.

SAM: Ooh, the huge ones?

MATT: A little bit larger, yeah.

TRAVIS: Big honkin' turds of things.

MARISHA: So what is that? 5d4?

MATT: That's 4d4 plus four.

MARISHA: But those are five.

MATT: Those are 8d4 plus eight.

SAM: Ooh!

TALIESIN: That's a pick me up. You need that.

TRAVIS: Damn, really?

MARISHA: Okay, okay, okay, okay.

SAM: While we're talking equipment: (stilted) Does anyone have any studded leather armor they want to give me?

TRAVIS: (stilted) Oh yes, I do!

SAM: (stilted) Oh great!

TRAVIS: (stilted) I actually have a spare that's over here. Take this and enjoy.

SAM: Oh, thank you!

LIAM: Talking logistics. So we're going to go to your family 100% tonight. To do that, that is the most difficult thing that I do.

TALIESIN: Is there a Cobalt library that we can use instead if we can use a circle, someone to teleport us to them.

LIAM: Is there a circle at your destination?

TALIESIN: No. But wait, it is, well...

MARISHA: How far away is it from here?

TALIESIN: Far.

LAURA: It's far?

TRAVIS: Far.

MATT: As far as The Grove?

MARISHA: Mm-hmm. Rexxentrum? It's south of Rexxentrum.

LAURA: It's in Xhorhas. I mean, it's in...

MATT: It's north of Shadycreek Runs. So it's a few days' travel on foot or by horse.

LAURA: Way in a different place than I thought it was. (laughs)

MARISHA: And we have no quick means of bamfing?

LIAM: Quick is with circles. And without a circle, it's my utmost, which we have to do.

TALIESIN: There's no easy access to that, other than the fact-- It's technically a shrine, so I have to designate--

MATT: You have to designate it. You have to designate it. Yeah, otherwise travel is going to be on foot or through magical means.

LIAM: But that means that to talk to my friends we are not meeting inside my home, we have to find a physical location here in town today.

LAURA: Oh wait, hold on! Let me see, let me see, because I have a spell I could do that might-- I got to see how long it takes to cast. It takes me an hour to cast it.

SAM: That's okay.

TALIESIN and LIAM: That's fine.

LAURA: But... I can create a temple.

MARISHA: Whoa, what?

SAM: Excuse me?

TALIESIN: Yeah. That's a thing.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

LIAM: What do you mean?

LAURA: Also, it's not quite as amazing as your tower, but it's a temple that is for the Traveler and it creates basically a world, also another door.

LIAM: Similarly hidden?

LAURA: Similarly, well... I think so. Let me see.

MATT: The creation of this temple, as opposed to being a door that leads to a pocket dimension, you need the space to create the temple.

LAURA: I need 120 feet.

MATT: You need 120 feet because you create an actual physical temple for 24 hours.

LAURA: I thought it was like a tower-- Oh, never mind. That's totally different.

LIAM: That's amazing.

MARISHA: I mean, that's really cool.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: You have to show us some time.

LAURA: Yeah, I've never done it. I would have to-- I mean, I have to think about what I would want the way that you did the tower probably, huh?

LIAM: Yes, please.

LAURA: I'm going to start drawing schematics.

TALIESIN: You also need a idol of the god that you're--

LAURA: I've got enough idols of him, okay? Don't worry.

LIAM: That's just a dick.

MARISHA: She has so many dicks.

TALIESIN: Just needs to be a five-gold dick.

MARISHA: Sure. Yeah.

SAM: Maximum dick.

LAURA: I've got a 20-gold dick. I've got a 30-gold dick. I've got so many gold dicks. (laughter)

MARISHA: A 30-gold dick and 30 gold dicks.

SAM: All right, so where are we going to schedule this meeting with your friends?

LAURA: We got to just figure that out on the fly. Let's get going. We got to start shopping.

LIAM: Well, maybe talk to-- Maybe we should send them a message first. If they need to rearrange their plans.

SAM: Anything to prevent us from leaving would be good. So yes.

LAURA: Okay, okay, okay.

LIAM: No, no, no. They-- it's-- (sighs)

LAURA: Which one should I send it to? Eadwulf or to Astrid?

SAM: Astrid 100%.

LIAM: Astrid would be more likely, I think, to keep it on the down low. If she's going to. Wulf, I don't know.

SAM: Say no more. He's a big brute. We hate him.

MARISHA: Is that a risk? If you're saying that, is there a risk in between now and then of them spilling their beans? Should we just try and grab them?

TRAVIS: Yeah, is a heads-up better, or is it like, "Meet us in five minutes"?

LIAM: Well, they're not going to have a...

MARISHA: Maybe it's a, "Meet us in five minutes," or "Are you available to chat?"

SAM: Or, "We're outside. Come down and see us."

MARISHA: Yeah, I like that.

LIAM: "Outside and come down in five minutes" is in Trent's backyard.

TRAVIS: It's all right; he can die, too.

LAURA: Oh! No, that's a different city.

SAM: Just send her a message and just say, "Hey, old friend in town here. Why don't you meet us at the... Grim Shelf Tavern."

TRAVIS: Love it when Sam uses his notes.

LAURA: The Grim Shelf Tavern.

SAM: Or the Stone Coffin Fighting Pit, because that would just be fun to go visit.

LIAM: No. We meet them at the dance hall.

LAURA: The dance hall? The dance hall?

MARISHA: The dance hall?

LAURA: The oops-stone dance hall. I'm going to send the message to Astrid. When should I tell her to meet us?

SAM: Dusk.

LIAM: Sure.

LAURA: Dusk. Hi. Caleb wants to talk to you. It's important. Important. Meet us at the dance hall at dusk. Tell nobody. Keep it secret from you-know-who. (giggling)

LIAM: Well done.

MATT: A brief moment before you get a response. "Danke. I'll be there. Please tell Caleb, 'Thank you.'" That's all. She said Danke, she'll be there. And also to tell you, "Thank you."

TALIESIN: Well, that's nice.

ASHLEY: She's thanking you for the dance hall? What am I missing here?

LAURA: What is she saying thank you for? Is she saying thank you because--

SAM: She might've been saying thank you to you for passing along--

LAURA: No, no, no. She said, "Tell Caleb 'thank you.'"

MARISHA: Giving him another chance?

LAURA: Maybe?

MARISHA: No?

LIAM: I don't know.

LAURA: What if she's saying thank you because as soon as she sees us, they're going to be able to bring us in and it's going to give her the ability to rise up to the top?

LIAM: Well, then perhaps you will all remain hidden and I will talk to her.

SAM: Yes.

LAURA: Okay.

SAM: We'll form a perimeter. We'll stay in the shadows. Some of us will turn invisible. We'll watch.

LAURA: Good idea.

LIAM: Maybe one more of you in the hall. You know, since I have 87 hit points.

MARISHA: Yeah, I think that's fine.

LIAM: In disguise.

TALIESIN: We can all be in disguise if we have to.

SAM: Fuck it. It doesn't even really have to be you. Can't you project a hologram of him or something?

LAURA: I can project a hologram of me.

SAM: Oh, okay.

LIAM: You can't dance with hologram.

LAURA: Ooh, I could disguise myself and then project a holograph! Well, no.

TALIESIN: I think just maybe spreading ourselves out amongst the hall. It's not they don't already know that you contacted.

LAURA: Oh, right.

TALIESIN: There wasn't a request to come alone.

TRAVIS: We had Vess DeRogna show up, remember?

LAURA: That's true.

TRAVIS: She wasn't there.

SAM: So shopping then?

LIAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Shopping then dancing.

MATT: All righty. So for the day in Rexxentrum, what are you shopping for? Who's looking for what?

LIAM: Well, I need to find a place that sells gems and crystals and amber, specifically.

MATT: Those are all fairly easy to procure here in Rexxentrum.

LAURA: -- for me.

LIAM: Yeah? I have very little money.

TRAVIS: You know what you could do? You could sell that ring I have. (laughs)

LAURA: I'm not selling it, Fjord.

TRAVIS: It's 5,000 gold pieces!

LIAM: Not anymore.

SAM: When they got away with all of our belongings, did they get our gold? Am I just carrying around thousands of pieces of gold on me?

MARISHA: I split mine up into individual packages.

MATT: You guys should keep whatever gold is on you on yourself. Anything else would be in the bag of holding.

TALIESIN: I keep all mine.

MARISHA: We learned this lesson after Hupperdook.

TRAVIS: I didn't keep anybody's gold.

LIAM: I never have gold for longer than 20 minutes, so I'm fine.

MARISHA: That's true.

SAM: Oh, that's right.

TALIESIN: Also, just in case we can find anything else magical that might help, it's always worth sweeping a magic shop.

TRAVIS: Like a Ring of Ice Resistance.

TALIESIN: That would be amazing.

LIAM: Watch, we go straight to Hell once we buy that ring.

MATT: I will say, for the purposes of the shopping trip narrative, similar to your last time here, most of the magical items have not yet returned since their wartime inscription. And the last time you did go to a magic shop here, you cleared them out of a lot of their lower end magical items as well. Many a celebone still remains within some of you.

TALIESIN: Don't regret nothing.

MATT: But yeah, gems are easy enough to procure here in Rexxentrum specifically. It is the capital, and there are sections of the city that are filled to the brim with all manner of textile warehouses, and craft sales fronts, and carts, and stores of all kinds. So, I guess, say what you're looking for and I'll tell you if it's available and for what price you require.

LIAM: Well, I'm looking for... Yussa gave me two or three pieces of amber. I'm struggling to remember. I think it was two. So I need five total.

TALIESIN: I would like a forked metal rod. 250 gold forked metal rod attuned to this plane of existence would be smokin'. I say as Taliesin in Clay's voice.

MATT: (laughs)

TALIESIN: He would never say "smokin'" and it came out of my mouth. (laughter) I want that stricken from the record.

MATT: Fair enough. We can edit it out.

TALIESIN: It's been a day.

LIAM: So three pieces of amber for me.

MATT: Okay. Yeah. You can definitely do that. Just reduce the cost. The amber's easy to find, comparison to some of the locations. It's not easy. It isn't like they're available at every corner, but after an hour or so of traveling around and asking questions, you find a place that does have pieces that will work for your purposes.

LIAM: Do you know how much it would cost?

MATT: Well, for the pieces of amber that require for it, I'd say each chunk would be about 20 gold. So for the three of them it would be 60.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: For the purity and size that you need.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Your rod that is attuned can also be found. Though the attunement process of it is going to be partially a combination of you working with Caleb to do so. The rod, the actual requisite materials and construction is very specific. It doesn't come pre-attuned. But both of you working together would be able to attune it to this plane, since it's the one you're most familiar with.

TALIESIN: The only other thing is I'd like a little more saffron for my True Sight, if I could get some.

TRAVIS: Saffron's good.

TALIESIN: Where'd it go? I've opened too many things. Let's get three of them, so that's another 75gp.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and mark that off and make sure you mark that in your inventory.

LAURA: Can I get incense worth 250 gold and four ivory strips worth 50 gold. Each! Holy shit.

TALIESIN: Do you have enough diamonds and diamond powder and everything?

LAURA: So that's...

LAURA: 450 gold.

MARISHA: I'm also pretty--

TRAVIS: Caleb.

MARISHA: -- flush in cash if I need to help fund the clerics.

LAURA: I think it might be good to--

MARISHA: Fund the clerics.

LAURA: Because I don't have enough money to buy a jeweled chalice, worth at least 1,000 gold, though.

MARISHA: Girl, I got you.

LAURA: Okay.

MARISHA: I'm going to buy Jester that jeweled chalice.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: And, I forgot--

MARISHA: Sugar mama.

LIAM: I wanted to get a couple of pearls worth 100 gold each, if possible.

MATT: Yeah, those can be found as well.

LIAM: Okay.

MATT: Yeah. You are in the center of the Empire's influence and there are many, many different avenues of trade in and out of the city, so of all places where you're looking for more specific objects, here'd be some of the easiest to find, so.

LIAM: Okay.

MARISHA: Caduceus, do you need me to buy you anything?

TALIESIN: Do you got either a-- what do we use, 300 or 500gp diamonds? Is that our-- Emergency diamonds are 300 or 500?

LAURA: 300 for Revivify. I think 500 for something else that I can't remember. So I have one 300-gold diamond, one 500-gold diamond, one 1,000-gold diamond.

TALIESIN: That's an emergency. That's for the crazy, crazy restoration that's, you know, no time limit.

LAURA: Right, oh, and I have one more 300, so I have two 300-gold diamonds.

TALIESIN: 100 years or something.

TRAVIS: And, remember you got the 500 gold of residuum for Allura.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm actually pretty good. I've got enough to-- other than powdered diamond.

LAURA: I have 400 gold worth of diamond dust.

TALIESIN: Okay, that'll do. Then I think we're fine.

MATT: All righty.

ASHLEY: I would like to buy something.

MATT: What would you like to buy?

ASHLEY: I think... I'm looking for something that can make you invisible, like a potion of invisibility, or even a necklace or something.

TALIESIN: Jesus. (mutters)

ASHLEY: (sighs)

MATT: Go ahead, roll either an investigation check or a persuasion check. Your choice.

ASHLEY: Okay. 19?

MATT: 19. It takes you the better part of a day, you know, early afternoon or so, and eventually after asking some questions, you get sent to this small alleyway purveyor of odd knickknacks and mashed materials, given as various healing pastes and balms. You can see him arranged in the edge of this cart that's wedged into the shadows. The gentleman there has this large red-orange tuft of a beard at the end of his chin, he's scrawny and leaning forward with long arms that rest at the edge of the cart. He pulls himself forward out of the shadow and looks towards you with this paper hat and goes, "Can I help you? Are you looking for something?"

ASHLEY: Yes. Hello. I'm looking for something, um... that could... (sighs) I don't know if it's maybe a potion or maybe a necklace of some sort, but... where someone couldn't see you. Is that a--?

MATT: "Now, there are many types of not being seen. Are you trying to avoid the sight of things from all over or from far away? Immediate or distant?"

ASHLEY: Well. Distant?

MATT: "So avoiding the wandering eyes of divination?"

ASHLEY: Correct.

MATT: "Well." And he pulls out this small balm vial, roughly about the size of a hockey puck or so, and opens it up a bit and goes, "If this is placed upon your person, smeared into the skin and soaks within, for the next hour, you will be avoiding any sort of prying, magical eyes from a distance, immune to being scryed upon." (laughs)

ASHLEY: How much is that?

MATT: "This? Oh, 1,500 gold."

SAM: Oh, jesus.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MATT: It seems grossly expensive.

ASHLEY: That feels grossly expensive. (laughter)

MATT: "Well, it's a particular purpose."

ASHLEY: Do you have two? Is this for one person or is this--

MATT: "This is for one person."

TRAVIS: Single use?

ASHLEY: Hmm?

TRAVIS: Is it single use, or is it like can-o-disappearing gel.

MATT: Looking at it, it probably only has a handful of uses and only lasts for an hour. Even though you aren't the most practiced bargainer, even this seems a bit high. And, as far as scrying goes, and your experience with Jester, it may not be exactly what you're looking for, as far as invisibility.

LIAM: It just says BENGAY on it.

ASHLEY: Yeah. (laughter)

TRAVIS: It's old timer Tiger Balm.

ASHLEY: I think this is not exactly what I'm looking for. It's also a little high in price, so I think I'm going to--

MATT: "Well, prices are relative to who wants it." And he goes and tucks it away, back underneath the edge of the cart.

ASHLEY: What about 1,000 gold?

SAM: Ooh, here we go. Here we go.

MATT: "Deal."

SAM: Oh no.

LAURA: (groaning)

TRAVIS: Or do you want to be invisible?

SAM: It's done.

ASHLEY: (sighing) I'm trying to think how this could work, actually.

TRAVIS: You do you, don't let me--

ASHLEY: No, no, I know. I'm just--

SAM: (pigeon cooing)

TRAVIS: (pigeon cooing)

SAM: (coos) You're getting ripped off. (coos)

ASHLEY: I know, I feel like I'm getting--

TRAVIS: Learn from my mistakes!

ASHLEY: This is not exactly what I'm looking for anyway.

TRAVIS: (pigeon cooing)

SAM: But, it's okay, it could be cool. (coos)

TRAVIS: You hear Victor somewhere screaming, "Learn from my mistakes!" (laughs)

LIAM: (coos) It's a game. (coos)

ASHLEY: 1,000 gold. (laughter)

SAM: (coos) Yeah.

ASHLEY: I'll buy it.

MATT: Yeah.

MATT: He scoots it forward to you, happily grins with a mouth filled with darkened gums.

TRAVIS: Oh boy.

MATT: And teeth where they've receded from a bit, so the mouth just seems extra wide.

LIAM: Scrubbing them too hard.

MATT: His eyes peer through from underneath his long paper hat and, "Appreciate your patronage." Scoops the gold over. "Anything else Theodore can do for you?"

ASHLEY: No, but if this doesn't work, I expect to get my money back. And, if not--

MATT: "All sales are final." (simpering laugh)

ASHLEY: We'll see about that. (laughter) Goodbye. (laughter)

MATT: "Goodbye!"

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: As you walk away, you hear the sound of a cart shuttering.

ASHLEY: I hear the sound of a cart shuttering?

MATT: Meaning, you hear him behind, closing shop.

TRAVIS: He's getting lost.

MATT: His cart's like... (mimicking doors locking)

ASHLEY: He's like, cool, I'm set for... Okay.

TALIESIN: He's moving.

TRAVIS: 1,000 G?

LIAM: No refunds. (mimicking wheels squeaking)

ASHLEY: It's okay.

SAM: Matt, I would like to buy some things.

MATT: All right, what would you like?

SAM: I would like 40 crossbow bolts.

MATT: That's easy enough to acquire, no major issue there.

SAM: I would like--

MATT: Cost on that would be--

SAM: Oh, sorry. There's cost?

MATT: Yes, there's...

LAURA: I have to pay money?

MARISHA: Give a bolt, take a bolt.

MATT: I mean, imaginary money. (laughs) Acquiring them becomes a hilarious circumstance eventually. All right, all right, where's the page? There it is. (growling) I thought it was--

SAM: You could tell me literally any amount of money and I would just say, "Fine." 600 gold pieces.

SAM: You could say 200. Fine, done, I don't care. It's all fake money.

MATT: (laughs)

TRAVIS: "It's all fake."

MATT: No, okay, so that would be two gold, you're fine.

SAM: Great. I would like-- I'm wearing these little earmuffs that have little horns built in onto them. I'd like to get, if I can find some sort of shop, curio-type shop, a littler pair of horns. Antler-y things.

MATT: Okay. You do eventually find one of a number of odd haberdasheries that are scattered throughout Rexxentrum. Going inside, it seems to be more for, at least the one that you find for your purposes, is a little more meant for silly occasions. It's meant for celebrations. It's not so much just a classic nice-looking hat haberdashery, more of a place that presents for events and holidays. And, as you inquire within, they do not have a hat specifically with antlers on it, but they can cobble one together for you, ready by the next morning, if you'd like?

SAM: I'll take it.

MATT: All right. The whole thing together will cost you 20 gold.

SAM: Amazing. Next-- (laughs) I'd like to buy a lovely flower. Like a silver flower.

MATT: A silver flower?

SAM: Or white or anything.

MATT: White's easier.

SAM: Sure.

MATT: (laughs) A silver flower could be done if it's painted. But yeah, white flower, you find for two copper. Easy.

SAM: And then lastly, the components to make a new Fluffernutter. (laughter)

TRAVIS: The real loss. (chuckles)

MATT: Yeah, you can find-- and you would know where to find those materials with the right questions being asked. Just a singular Fluffernutter?

SAM: Oh. Maybe I should get enough for two, in case I fuck one up when I make it.

LIAM: A double Fluffernutter?

TALIESIN: You fuck one up when you make it, you won't be around to make a second.

SAM: A double fluffer?

MATT: All righty. We'll say, with the knowledge and experience, how powerful do you want this Fluffernutter to be?

LIAM: (laughs)

SAM: As powerful as the last one, and then some?

MATT: Okay. (laughter)

SAM: Double the power.

MATT: Double the nutter, if you will?

SAM: Yes, double nutter.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Oh.

MATT: (laughs) Just asking you, it effects the DC of the check.

SAM: Sure.

ASHLEY: Double the nutter.

MATT: We'll say, for the materials to make two fairly comparatively powerful Fluffernutters--

TRAVIS: (laughs)

MATT: -- put you back about 120 gold.

SAM: Worth it.

MARISHA: Oh shit.

SAM: Boop! Thank you, I'm done.

LAURA: That's not bad.

TRAVIS: Gotta make us some more Fluffernutters.

MARISHA: (giggles)

TRAVIS: (mimicking explosions)

MATT: Well, we have to see if he's successful in making them now.

TRAVIS: Oh, sure.

LAURA: Oh. Uh-oh.

MATT: Materials can be a waste or worse.

TALIESIN: Don't do that in my house, please. (laughter)

TALIESIN: I'm restocking on chocolate and cocoa, too.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Just, I know it's--

MATT: As much gold or silver as you'd like to spend on it, you can mark it down.

TALIESIN: Stupid amounts.

MATT: Easy to find in these areas.

MARISHA: I was wandering the market and sort of bump into Veth while looking for flowers as well.

SAM: Oh, what are you doing here?

MARISHA: What the fuck are you doing here?

SAM: Oh, I just bought a flower. It's really nice and pretty.

MARISHA: Very-- that's gorgeous, what kind of flower's that?

SAM: I didn't ask.

MARISHA: Huh.

SAM: I'm not very good with this stuff.

MARISHA: What do you think of these other flowers?

SAM: Oh. I mean, they're all nice. I got this one for you, though.

MARISHA: Wait, what? Why?

SAM: Well, I thought you could give it to Yasha.

MARISHA: Really?

SAM: Mm-hmm.

MARISHA: I was here looking for flowers for Yasha.

SAM: Are you okay?

MARISHA: I'm okay, I just love you so much! I give Veth a hug. (laughter)

SAM: Oh, I'm in your belly button now.

MARISHA: You are. (laughter)

MARISHA: (sighs) It's a beautiful flower.

SAM: It's big.

MARISHA: I know.

SAM: I thought, maybe you could talk to Jester and she could make it into some sort of corsagey thing, or I don't know. I don't know what girls like.

MARISHA: What do you think of this bow tie over here at this other kiosk?

SAM: Bow tie?

MARISHA: Yeah, this guy over here is-- here, just-- it's like a houndstooth situ--

SAM: Oh, I'll take a look.

MARISHA: What do you think? It's blue. I ju-- is it--

SAM: For you?

MARISHA: Houndstooth is a lot, isn't it?

SAM: For you? To dress up?

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: Oh! Oh, I thought like a gift, it's a weird thing to give a bow tie.

MARISHA: No. No, it's for me.

SAM: Oh, then I think it's excellent.

MARISHA: Yeah?

SAM: You can see if they have it in turquoise or something.

MARISHA: Yeah? The navy probably clashes a bit.

SAM: No, I don't know. No, I think it looks good. Let me see it on.

MARISHA: Do you have it in-- does he have it in turquoise?

MATT: Um-- (laughter)

LIAM: (coughing)

MATT: It can be acquired.

TRAVIS: Let me check.

LIAM: Priceless.

MARISHA: (sighs) I don't want to wait for a commission.

SAM: Just do the blue!

MARISHA: This navy's good.

SAM: Do the blue.

MATT: "You don't have to wait for a commission."

MARISHA: It's fine.

MATT: "I just have to check down the street, I got friends who have--"

MARISHA: Oh, you got-- no, no.

SAM: It's really nice.

MATT: "Never mind. Get out of my place then, jeez."

LAURA: (laughs)

LIAM: That guy's going to die. (laughter)

MARISHA: Thought the customer was always right, but whatever.

SAM: I think it looks very distinguished.

MARISHA: Okay.

SAM: And smart. And not trying too hard. It's just like a little.

MARISHA: Okay. I'll take it.

SAM: I'll pay.

MARISHA: (childish noise)

TRAVIS: Nice. (laughter) Way to come out on top. (laughter)

MATT: "That'll be eight silver."

SAM: Oh. (laughter) Oh, that's just his speaking voice. Sure, here you go. 10.

MATT: "Thank you."

SAM: Take 10.

MARISHA: I sort of asked Yasha out on a date.

SAM: So did I.

MARISHA: (laughs)

SAM: I kind of knew. I'm sneaky that way. And, I'm excited for you! Do you think you're going to finally, you know, do it? Not it, but go on a date!

MARISHA: Oh, yeah, yeah. That's the plan. Yeah.

SAM: Do you think you're going to do it?

MARISHA: What? (laughter) (laughter)

MARISHA: I am going into this with no expectations and on Yasha's terms and her timeline.

SAM: I mean, absolutely, it's all about what Henry Crabgrass says, right?

MARISHA: 100%. Consent.

SAM: Totally, just let her guide.

MARISHA: Yeah.

SAM: Guide you. But if you had your druthers?

MARISHA: I mean.

SAM: Yeah?

MARISHA: I mean.

SAM: Yeah?

MARISHA: But we'll see.

SAM: No expectations.

MARISHA: I need a shower.

SAM: Yeah, sure. Well, I don't know, maybe not. She's, you know... Xhorhasian. (laughter) I don't know. You know, I don't think Xhorhasian ladies shave their pits or anything, you know?

TRAVIS: (tightly) Mm-hm. (laughter)

TALIESIN: (muttering) The ladies here.

MARISHA: Okay. (laughter)

SAM: I think you're going to be fine.

MARISHA: You think so? I'm so nervous, dude.

SAM: Yeah! You've got a flower. You've got a bow tie.

MARISHA: I do. Okay.

SAM: And you've got an open heart.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

SAM: Whatever happens, happens. If you just talk, that's a win.

MARISHA: Yeah. What else-- do I need chocolates or something? I got the flower, I got the bow tie, is that... That's dumb.

SAM: I mean, I don't think she's into chocolates unless they're chocolate-covered grasshoppers or something. But I think, maybe just plan a moment. Just have a moment ready, where you can say something or do something that shows how you feel. I'm trying to channel Caduceus here, but I feel like if you open yourself and just are honest and open and vulnerable.

MARISHA: Okay.

SAM: You could be... likable. (laughter)

MARISHA: I could be likable. Yeah. (laughter) I could. I've planned several moments.

SAM: You have?

MARISHA: Uh-huh, I've written them down.

SAM: No way.

MARISHA: We'll see, though.

SAM: Oh, you're not going to tell me any.

MARISHA: Thank you for your advice, Veth. I've got to go find Caleb.

SAM: Okay, bye.

MARISHA: And I just push her aside. (laughter)

LIAM: Caleb is looking for a children's bookstore at this moment.

MATT: You know exactly the store to find.

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: It's been there for 60 years and still one of the preliminary children to young adult bookstores in Rexxentrum.

LIAM: Excellent, I would like to-- I am looking for a pair of books that I had when I was a child. One is a collection of Zemnian fairytales. Preferably one that contains a specific one. And then also, I'm looking for a-- I don't even know if it's in print anymore, but a primer on transmutation.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: And magic in general for children.

MATT: Make an investigation check. That one's a little hard to find.

LIAM: Yeah. 22.

MATT: It's hard to find, but not for you. Especially given that you know this so well, like the color of the binder, the pattern on the spine. You know this so well-- (snaps) that even in a wall of various scattered books, you know exactly what to look for. (snaps) And the minute you pass by your third specific book repository seeking this-- (snaps) you catch it in the lower-right, and there it is. One copy.

LIAM: Oh, the illustrations, I remember them very well.

MATT: "I'm sure you do, you going to buy it?"

LIAM: Yeah, how much do I owe you for the two?

MATT: "Let me see that one there. Four silver pieces for the two of them."

LIAM: Of course. I pull that out. Actually, I just give him a gold.

MATT: "Wow, oh, wow, wow. Thank you, thank you, um-- Well, here, take a copy of our zine." I don't know. (laughter) He's just, he's excited. (laughs)

ASHLEY: Zine?

LIAM: Oh, wow. Zemnian punk rock, I am into it. Cool, cool, cool. Not that long ago, I could not have afforded to do that, so enjoy, have a good year.

MATT: "You too."

LIAM: Okay, and I just stuff it away and head out into the street.

MATT: All right.

LIAM: I've found everything I need to find.

MATT: Okay, everybody done their successful shopping?

MARISHA: I find Caleb coming out of the store!

LIAM: Oh!

MARISHA: Hey. I wrote down all my ideas.

LIAM: Oh, yes. Yes?

MARISHA: Yeah, you wanted me to write them down.

LIAM: Let me see.

MARISHA: Here. I hand him a thing. I hand him a piece of paper.

LIAM: All right, I just give it a quick look.

MARISHA: Mm-hm.

LIAM: Yeah, that's good. That's good. Tha--

MARISHA: What?

LIAM: Why?

MARISHA: Because. You fucking know why. (laughter)

TALIESIN: (coughing)

LAURA: What? (laughs)

ASHLEY: Hoh boy.

MARISHA: They're magic.

LIAM: I will--

MARISHA: They're not going to last, it's not going to be forever.

LIAM: I will-- I will do it.

MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: But that's a lot, Beauregard. That's a lot.

MARISHA: How, out of all the things on that list, is that a lot?

LIAM: You wouldn't understand. I walk away. (laughter)

TRAVIS: What were y'all even talking about? (laughter)

ASHLEY: (laughing) Oh man. (laughter) I am so nervous. (laughter) But excited! (laughter)

MARISHA: Yeah! (laughs)

LIAM: Oh boy.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

MATT: All right, unless there's anymore shopping to be done.

TRAVIS: We could get the ring just appraised if you wanted.

LAURA: Yes, Fjord, we'll go to get-- We're going to stop, we're going to get some pastries, a lot of extra pastries to go into the haversack because it's always good to have pastries. And then, yes, Fjord, I will go with you to a jewelry store. (giggling)

TRAVIS: Okay. (laughter)

LAURA: Let's go get this ring appraised.

TRAVIS: I just want to see if it's kept its value, you know. You can hold onto it.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: You gather all the pastries you'd like. There are quite a number of locations, at least in the part of the city that even you're familiar with, which is only a small portion of it, where there are a number of bakeries and smells and scents that are easy to follow.

LAURA: We just-- it's like, you know, a bar hop.

MATT: Right.

LAURA: But, a bakery hop.

MATT: I dig it.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: God, that'd be delicious. One day again.

TRAVIS: Right? Damn it.

MATT: And then, yeah, if you would like to, you find a prominent jeweler. Fancy exterior, a dark blue, painted wood structure with crystal chandeliers that are lit by magical globes on the inside of the front way and you're like, this would be a decent jeweler.

TRAVIS: Do you-- I need you-- I need you to do it.

LAURA: You want me to do it?

TRAVIS: If it's shit, I'm going to lose my mind. (laughter) I need you to find out.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to put the ring on.

MATT: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: And I'm going to... hold myself up as fancily as I can and I'm going to dramatically walk into the store.

MATT: (bell ringing)

LAURA: (loudly) Hello! I need a-- I need help!

MATT: (laughs) The place is fairly empty beyond two individuals that work there. One, you see a half-elven girl who sits up, very short, dark hair, a very small pair of spectacles that are so small to the point of being ornamental, pressed against the cheeks below the eyes. She looks up at you, this nice button-over blouse. "Hello, may I help you?"

LAURA: Yes, I need your help. (sighs dramatically) It's lovely, isn't it?

MATT: "Are you betrothed?"

LAURA: (sighs) I was.

MATT: "Oh, I am so sorry. I myself was once left at the altar. I understand the heartbreak."

LAURA: I'm so sorry. Anyway, how much could I get for it?

MATT: "Hmm. Well, if I might?"

LAURA: Yes.

MATT: She lays down this soft piece of material. Almost like a... a velvet or a colorful, I forget the word I'm looking for. But anyway, we'll move on from that, as my brain short-circuits. Pulls out a jeweler's kit and a long eyepiece.

LAURA: He was a very wealthy merchant and he left me on the high seas. I think he might have been taken by pirates.

MATT: "Hmm. Well, it is a very nice make. The band itself is platinum."

LAURA: Ooh.

MATT: "And, the ruby, while not magnificent in size, is very well-cut. I'd put this ring-- are you looking to sell it?"

LAURA: Well, it is enchanted.

MATT: "Oh. Well, such enchantments, I believe, are a bit beyond our specialty."

LAURA: Oh. Right. How much would it be if it wasn't enchanted?

MATT: "Just standard ring would be, I could take this off your hands for about 400 gold pieces."

LAURA: (laughs) No, no, no, no, no, that's terrible, here. (mumbles) I'll go find an enchanted place. Where would that be?

MATT: "I have a cousin who would be able to take a look at that, if you'd like."

LAURA: Okay, yeah, sure.

MATT: "Let me just go ahead and, if you don't mind waiting here for a bit, he may be on his lunch break soon."

LAURA: Okay!

MATT: She darts off and the other person in the back, who's deep in a book just looks up, you see this older human woman with graying hair up in this top bun with these frazzled curls coming off of it. And she goes, "Hey."

SAM: (laughs)

MATT: And just goes back to reading. You wait there for a good 15, 20 minutes or so before the woman comes back with another man, looks to be a bit younger than her, also half-elven, hair buzzed very close to the head, who comes in a bit scattered. "Oh, I'm still learning. I cannot guarantee that I..." She's like, "This is my brother, he'll be able to help you."

LAURA: I thought it was your cousin.

MATT: "Brother-cousin."

LAURA: Oh, I understand. (laughter)

LIAM: The grift is on.

MARISHA: Some Kentucky shit. (laughter)

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

MATT: "So if you would have him take a look at this?"

LAURA: Sure.

MATT: (as brother-cousin) "Hmm."

LAURA: It was given to me by my merchant fiancé who was stolen by pirates.

MATT: "Wow."

LAURA: I know, it was tragic. It means a lot to me.

MATT: (as jeweler) "So, if you would be so kind as to make sure this deeply pained woman would know the extent of the love that left her."

LAURA: Yes.

MATT: "Huh?"

MATT: He goes, "Right, um-- (mystical chanting)"

SAM: Oh boy.

MATT: "(mystical chanting) Hmm. This ring."

LAURA: Yes?

MATT: "This ring does carry some magic to it."

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

MATT: "Namely, is meant for a minor protection."

LAURA: Oh, a little one?

MATT: "Yes, I'm afraid that the man who left you was a bit, what's the word that they say? Cheap."

LAURA: (gasps) No, don't tell me these things! My broken heart!

MATT: "I'm so sorry."

LAURA: It's not worth anything?

MATT: "Well, it's worth something, but you know, she would be the person to ask about that."

LAURA: Oh, I understand.

MATT: "Mm."

LAURA: Oh, my poor, cheap, dead fiancé. (laughter) What will I ever do?

MATT: (as jeweler) "Well, we could find it onto the hand of somebody who appreciates it, for but a small fee. We'll take it off your hands."

LAURA: (giggling) You know what? My heart, it is breaking too much. I think I'm just going to take it and wear it forever. It will remind me of him. (laughter) Because you're full of shit. This is actually a very expensive ring. Okay?

MATT: "(scoffing)"

MARISHA: (gasps)

MATT: "Well, then good day."

LAURA: But I really appreciate everything you tried. That was a really good performance. (laughter)

MATT: They both look at each other very confused and you hear across the room, this: (elderly laughing)

TRAVIS: (laughs) Good, yeah.

LAURA: Bye.

MATT: Looks at the other two like, "What'd you expect?"

LAURA: (giggles)

MATT: "Good day."

LAURA: Keep-- keep track of what relative you say. It's-- it's import-- okay. (laughter)

MATT: As you're leaving the door, you hear, (as brother-cousin) "So are you still paying me?" (as jeweler) "No!" (door slamming) The door closes.

LAURA: (gasps) Guess what, Fjord?

TRAVIS: It's so expensive.

LAURA: It is so expensive, I got 500 gold for it!

TRAVIS: What?

LAURA: 500 gold! Can you believe it?

TRAVIS: You mean 5,000 gold?

LAURA: Well, no, 500 gold. That's how much you said it was, right?

TRAVIS: Jester, no! No, no, it was 5,000!

LAURA: Oh no! What am I going to do? My poor, dead pirate fiancé. (laughter)

TRAVIS: That was very mean.

LAURA: I know.

TRAVIS: You can keep it.

LAURA: Well, but we should get some money for it, right? I'll just wear it until we find somewhere to sell it.

TRAVIS: Yeah, sure.

LAURA: It's so sparkly. Even if it's not protecting me.

TRAVIS: You're not going to attune to it? You're just wearing it?

LAURA: Well, Fjord, I can't attune to this and also this pink stone that's floating around my head!

LIAM: (pulsing)

TRAVIS: (sighing) When we start to get around the Tomb Takers again, one of us should attune to it.

LAURA: You're right. Do you want to put it back on?

TRAVIS: No, you can keep it for now.

LAURA: Okay. Don't let me get my finger chopped off and lose it.

TRAVIS: Yeah, that would be bad.

LAURA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: All right, we try to find the others. (laughter)

MATT: All right, so that ends your journey on that?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: All righty!

LAURA: Success!

MATT: (laughs) Well done.

SAM: Worth it.

TRAVIS: (whispers) Fuck. Fuck!

MATT: As the day slowly clambers on into a dusk shade of dark reds, oranges and purples, the various magical lanterns of Rexxentrum begin to alight, the people begin to shift from their daily chaos and hustle and bustle into some elements of... celebration, some elements of drinking away the pains of the day, general rabble-rousing, but the life and the energy does shift into the night of the capital city. What would you like to do?

SAM: Dance it up.

LIAM: Yeah, it's just we have a lot to do.

LAURA: Should we disguise ourselves before we go in?

LIAM: Yeah, maybe. Maybe I stay the way I am and you all find a place to sit or dance or...

LAURA: Okay. I can disguise myself.

TALIESIN: How fancy is everybody looking here?

LIAM: I can do-- oh, no I can't.

SAM: This is just like a bar, right?

LIAM: It's more of a beer hall, dance hall. So, it's not very fancy, no.

MATT: It's not like a dive bar by any means, but nobody here is coming dressed to the nines. It's moderate.

LIAM: It's like a cultural landmark. This is the Empire.

MATT: Yep.

SAM: Cool.

TRAVIS: We should be outside as well as inside, yes? Who will be outside?

SAM: I'm no good at seeing things from a distance, so maybe I could be close up and either invisible or disguised.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

TRAVIS: I will stay outside the door. Are there a ton of... Yes, I will look like someone who has taken their drink outside and is just posted up, back against the establishment, perhaps too far into my cups.

MATT: Got it, so you're posted out front playing the part of an early evening drunkard.

TRAVIS: (drunk mumbling)

MATT: Fair enough. Who else?

TALIESIN: I'm going to go red-headed, bearded human male. Build my atypical-- my Ford Prefect.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: And dressed all right, I'm going to sit in the corner of the bar trying to get the full lay of the place and just nurse some fruit juice.

LAURA: (giggles)

MATT: Fair enough.

LIAM: Okay, so you're red-headed and inside? You're inside the place?

TALIESIN: I'm inside the place.

LIAM: With red hair.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

LAURA: I'll be inside as well.

TRAVIS: Outside, human looking, a little busted up.

LIAM: Okay.

TRAVIS: But not near the front door, probably 50, 60 feet away from the door.

MATT: Okay, you've got it.

LAURA: I'll be inside as well. A human woman, long black hair, tight fitting dress. Bombshell hanging out at the dance floor, waiting for some young stud to sweep me on my feet.

MATT: Okay, you've got it.

ASHLEY: I'll post up in a corner in a booth, real quiet, just making sure--

TALIESIN: All the different vantage points.

ASHLEY: Nothing behind me.

SAM: You can't disguise yourself, can you?

MARISHA: Uh uh. Trying to figure out what's best for me.

SAM: I can make you invisible for an hour.

MARISHA: Whatever you feeling. Are you also going to be invisible?

SAM: I could be, yeah. We could be the invisible ones. I think I can do that if I do it at a higher level? Yeah, I can do that. I can make us both invisible.

MARISHA: Okay, I'll be with Nott. We're invisible.

TALIESIN: I have an image of you just hanging from the chandelier doing this.

MARISHA: Yeah. Full "Minority Report".

TALIESIN: Yeah.

MATT: Yep. All right, so, you both vanish.

LIAM: I wanted to ask, you have my old medallion yeah?

LAURA: Yes.

LIAM: May I borrow it?

LAURA: Of course, of course.

LIAM: Just for this. Okay.

LAURA: I mean, (mid-atlantic accent) of course, of course. (laughter) Whatever you need, stud.

SAM: You're going to get hit on so much tonight. (laughter)

LIAM: That's a lot of confusing. Okay. I will go sit at a table on the edge of the dance floor and wait.

MATT: Right, the usual table?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: All right. 10, 15 minutes or so go by, keeping an eye on the crowd in here. The odd hustle and bustle, the mixture of languages, laughter, the occasional argument. Mostly the energy here is fairly jovial. Drinks and food being brought about. It is as pleasant as you recall. And one of the more pleasant locations you've been to in Rexxentrum.

LIAM: Before you dig in deeper, one last thing I wanted to do before this moment, I would have run off to the loo to cast Fortune's Favor on myself.

SAM: To rub one out. (laughter)

LIAM: To rub one out.

SAM: You got to prep before the date.

LIAM: You can cast Fortune's Favor anywhere on your person. (laughter)

SAM: You don't want to go in loaded.

TRAVIS: Heroism.

LIAM: Geometric shapes. (laughter)

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Matt's red. (laughter)

MATT: I just envision just holding the little black pearl and going-- (laughter)

LIAM: Not the black one. I need that one to go to Rumblecusp. One of ones I bought today. Anyway, back to the table, back to your excellent narration.

MATT: As you return from your favoring fortune, you've been hit on numerous times, usually by-- let's say one of them was just a very shy gentleman who was like, "Would you care for a dance, maybe?"

LAURA: Sure. (laughter)

MATT: He didn't know what to do. He's like, (nervous stammering) and you just scared him off briefly. Another one's a total douche bro who just came up to you, sleeves rolled up, hair wet back and he's got his big, heavy tankard in his hand and he's just like, "Would you like to dance, eh?"

LAURA: Fuck off, kid. (laughter)

MARISHA: Yep. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Oh my god.

MATT: In the midst of the sound and chuckles and shouts and music and drums, everything gets a bit quiet. Caleb is glancing across the chamber into the entry way. You see stepping in a female figure, wearing a casual, dark gray, looks like a short robe with a mantle over top and a hood. She pulls it back just a little bit and glances about. You can see the familiar lightish hair past the eyes as they meet yours. And she beelines across the chamber.

TRAVIS: Did I see her come in?

MATT: You did.

TRAVIS: Was she alone?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: 16.

MATT: 16.

TRAVIS; And rooftops on the street.

MATT: Yeah. Glancing about, she appears to be alone.

SAM: After she comes in, I'm going to start wandering around without bumping into anybody if I can, using my Blindsense to see if I can see any other invisible people around.

MATT: Interesting, make an acrobatics check.

SAM: Okay. Wow, that landed on top of another die.

MATT: I saw that.

SAM: Should I take it?

MATT: Yeah!

SAM: It's 19 plus 10, 29.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: You're not just dodging through the crowd, you are pirouette-ing and leaping and corkscrewing and yeah, it is--

TRAVIS: Catherine Zeta-Jones.

MATT: (laughs) If anyone could see you, it would look like the coolest display of Capoeira. You're just leaping and spinning through the crowd and between people, but keeping it to the beat of the music. It's awesome, but nobody can see it.

LIAM: Otis ain't shit.

MATT: You do not sense anyone mysteriously invisible in the chamber around you, aside from Beauregard.

SAM: Oh, there you are.

MARISHA: Are there exposed beams in this place?

MATT: On this? Yes, there are. It is a higher ceiling here on the base floor.

MARISHA: I'm going to do some dope monk shit and I'm going to get up in the beams, so I can patrol from the top.

MATT: Make an acrobatics check, super easy.

MARISHA: It'll be hilarious if I fail.

MATT: That's why I had her roll, just in case.

MARISHA: It's fine, 23.

MATT: Easily done. There are easy footholds on the various planks in the wall and you just (effortless grunting) and you're up there with nary a sound. Any sort of slight impact or noise is drowned out by the surrounding din. No worries.

MARISHA: I'm just going to patrol from above.

MATT: You've got it. You watch as she comes and joins across your sitting arrangement. Pulls the hood back over her shoulders. Smiles a bit before leaning forward. (as Astrid) "It is good to see you, Bren."

LIAM: It's good to see you. Have a seat. Thank you for meeting me on such short notice. I don't know, I'm very nervous here. More than I have been on our past meetings. I've sort of been trying to rehearse all day what I would talk to you about here. And none of it seems... appropriate. Things okay here after our dinner?

MATT: She glances about the room. "They've been interesting. You and your friends traveled to Eiselcross at the behest of Vess DeRogna?"

LIAM: We did. Come on, let's dance. And I take her by the hand and lead her onto the middle of the floor.

MATT: She goes along willing. And as you both begin to dance and the tune here is a little more of a rhythmic sway. So, it's easy enough to engage, but interesting, it's been a while since you've been in a position to try and lead, but your partner is also often switching and taking the lead. There's almost a duel within the duet of a dance as she comes by and brushes past your ear and whispers, keeping it covert while looking over your shoulder. "Ludinus has been keeping an eye. Never one to trust Vess. So he requested you be tracked by Volstrucker. So we followed you."

LIAM: How far did you get?

MATT: "Well, quite a bit until you came to a base of a mountain range and turned into birds. It's hard for us to follow those who polymorph, but you need to be careful. Ludinus is very well aware of what has become of Vess. He knows of your proximity. Just be careful."

LIAM: What does Ludinus know of her condition?

MATT: "I do not know. I just know that no one has heard from her in the Assembly for weeks. And you were the last to leave with her."

LIAM: I struggle with... trust and I want very much to trust you. I think we both know that's not entirely possible.

MATT: "Not if we're both to stay alive."

LIAM: What I wanted for the Empire as a child is different than what I want for the Empire today. And I would hazard a guess that what you and I want for the Empire is similar in some ways, but different in many others. I turn around and scan the room.

MATT: For?

LIAM: Where everyone is.

MATT: You can make out everybody except for-- I'll let you make a perception check.

LIAM: 18.

MATT: 18. You see Yasha in the corner. You see dancing not far from you, Jester in her illusory form. You see Caduceus having a seat and sipping from a drink and that's all you can see within the chamber. But all eyes are in your direction and they're keeping a close watch.

LIAM: I care very much for the friendship that we once had, but I don't trust you entirely, and I'm sure you do not trust me. And yet I have come here today to ask you a favor. A few weeks ago, the number one thing on my mind was trying to sort out the pieces after that peace treaty and how to improve things here at home and all that is gone. My friends and I, we are getting wrapped up in something. A danger, a very real danger that includes the survival of the Empire, the Kryn, all of us. There is something terrible coming out of the north. Something that has no preference for nation. And this is going to be so hard to swallow and overlook, but I need your help. We are in a race with a ticking clock to stop a very real threat from being unleashed. And we're being tracked, in fact, I may be watched at this very moment, which means you may be. Do you still wear one of these?

MATT: Her eyes still pass by yours and she grabs your hand and begins leading you and the dynamic of the dance has shifted. And as she brings your hand up across the shoulder. You see it brush past a cord on her neck where a similar medallion briefly drifts out before it slides back beneath the shawl. She spins you around and pulls you in and switching into Zemnian, she says, (American accent) "These are odd times indeed. But this confusion is advantageous."

LIAM: (American accent) If there is any love left between us, I need more of these. And I just lay my head against her head and dance for a moment. Not forever, not for anything against the Empire or you. My differences with you, we'll save them for a later day. But I need enough of these for my friends for a few weeks maybe, so that we can go unnoticed. And I promise you, as the boy that I once was and the love that the three of us shared. I mean no harm against the Empire, or you, now. And I will bring them back. I'm begging, Astrid.

MATT: As you leaned into her, there's a brief moment where even though you're still dancing, her body seizes briefly. That limber sway to the beat clams up ever so slightly and you feel her hand touch your back and shoulder and she falls back into lockstep with you and listens. There's that pause and she just leans into your ear. You're just cheek to cheek, not even looking at each other. (American accent) "I'll see what I can do. Just know there are eyes on you, which means either we're walking into their trap, or you beat them at their own game."

LIAM: As she says those things and we're dancing around the room, I spot Jester on watch, tracking her insane dance moves until we spin away. And then I pull back a bit.

MATT: As you pull back, she pulls back a bit, too, and you can see her right herself and smile, putting on that formal mask, that veneer that you've seen before. It drops again briefly, she looks at you once more in Zemnian and says, "They know you're here. It could be an opportunity, if you strike first. (German accent) "Well, it was good to see you. Enjoy the rest of your evening and, well, maybe we'll catch up some other time."

LIAM: Fraulein.

MATT: "Tschüss, Bren." She puts her hood up and goes to exit the location. You watch your exit and head out.

MARISHA: I follow. I (footsteps) across the beams, slink down one of the walls, trail her out the front entrance a little bit.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: As I see Beau leave, I'm like (coughs).

LAURA: No, she's invisible.

TRAVIS: Oh. No, didn't see.

MARISHA: I will-- (laughter)

MATT: You accidentally inhale some of that spit. You're like (coughs).

MARISHA: I'll give Fjord a little pop pop on the shoulder, though.

TRAVIS: (scared stammering)

MARISHA: Be cool, be fucking-- Jeez.

SAM: Ghosts! Like sneaking up on a cat. (yowls) Right in the tit.

MARISHA: I track just for a little bit.

MATT: Okay, make a stealth check with advantage.

TRAVIS: Putting a cucumber behind me.

MARISHA: Don't fuck me, Gil. Natural 20, Gil! ♪ It's been a while! ♪ And 30 total.

MATT: All righty. You follow her for about seven or eight minutes before you see her veer off the road a bit and head into just a small, not even an alley, but a little pocket between two buildings

MARISHA: Alley, pocket, okay, got it.

SAM: You're writing down "alley"?

MARISHA: Dude, I might need to find this again. Go, go, go

MATT: Okay. As you catch around the side about three, four feet.

MARISHA: Three, four feet. (laughter)

MATT: Within this side pocket you see her now back against the wall, sitting on the ground, knees close to the chest and she's just curled up in a ball.

MARISHA: (laughs) How long does she sit there?

MATT: About five or six minutes or so.

MARISHA: Does she seem deeply conflicted, clearly? Or what was her--

TRAVIS: Good. (laughter)

MATT: "Deeply conflicted"? I don't know!

MARISHA: Not to be projecting on her or anything.

TRAVIS: Or is that even her?

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Make an insight check.

TALIESIN: It seem like she has a big date tonight?

TRAVIS: I mean, if you touch somebody and they're under an illusionary spell, you can tell that it's not them.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Okay, it's fine. 15. 16.

SAM: Pretty good

MARISHA: It's okay.

MATT: In the low light at this point in the day, it's a little challenging to pick up most of the details of her expressions, the physicality. It's hard to tell, but she spends a good five, six minutes or so sitting there. She just--

MARISHA: Is she crying? She's crying, isn't she? She's crying, you guys. Okay.

MATT: It's hard to tell, but you're caught off-guard as she abruptly sits up, stands, brushes herself off. (breathes deeply) And then beelines in your direction

MARISHA: I hug the wall.

MATT: She continues by and--

MARISHA: Peek around the corner, she heading for the towers?

MATT: She's heading towards the deeper exterior of where the Candles are, yeah.

MARISHA: I head back.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: After pickpocketing a few baubles, I'll uninvisible and then sit down if he's back sitting again, I'll rejoin Caleb.

LAURA: Yeah, I'll head over, too.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: I'll meet up with Fjord in the front.

SAM: Anything interesting?

LIAM: Yeah, sure. A few things that were interesting. I think she will look into our request. We're probably going to need to reach out to her again.

LAURA: Should I do it now?

LIAM: No.

LAURA: (mid-atlantic accent) Should I do it now? (laughter)

LIAM: Why, Miss Lavorre, whatever do you mean? Probably wait till tomorrow. Give her a chance to figure that out. It's not like there are-- Oh, here. It's not like there are 20 of these on a wall somewhere.

LAURA: You-- We're all in the same boat now. If you want to keep it on, it's special to you, Caleb.

LIAM: Are you using it?

LAURA: I mean, all of us are.

LIAM: But are you using it now?

LAURA: Now I'm holding it.

LIAM: Yeah, but he's peeking at you.

LAURA: Well, he's peeking at all of us. Probably peeking at-- (gasps) Fjord! Should we make him wear it again 'cause he's got the brand on him.

SAM: I'll send a message to Fjord saying: Hey, we're just having drinks now, come back up.

TRAVIS: (clears throat) Oh! Puke and rally.

TALIESIN: I'm going to walk over.

LIAM: It's a bit like Whac-A-Mole, right?

ASHLEY: Caleb, you are a very good dancer.

SAM: Ooh, yes.

MARISHA: Yeah, you are.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: (cups clanking) Oh shit.

LAURA: You guys were pretty cozy.

MARISHA: Sorry, the invisibility. Coming out of it gets wonky.

SAM: Yeah, that's crazy.

LIAM: Love it. That's how that's how you come out of invisibility. Drinks go all over the table.

SAM: Caleb, your hips don't lie.

LIAM: Oh, she was doing most of the leading.

LAURA: Yeah, we were watching.

LIAM: I, ah-- Town I grew up in. Everybody could dance like that.

TRAVIS: What did she say? How did it go?

TALIESIN: We want to maybe--? well, you know.

LAURA: They had sex on the dance floor.

TRAVIS: I don't believe you. No, they didn't.

LAURA: Literally.

LIAM: Metaphorically, more like. They followed us? North.

LAURA: What?

SAM: And do you think that meant they sent people to follow us or she herself followed us?

TALIESIN: Oh! Oh.

LIAM: Volstrucker.

SAM: She is one, isn't she?

LIAM: Ja, but she could have been delegating. I was a little distracted.

TALIESIN: So all those times it may not have always been-- It could have been-- oh, wow. We were being very spied on.

LAURA: We're being scryed on by lots of people, huh?

TRAVIS: Oh, so, some of those spheres, those eyes weren't necessarily Lucien. They could have also been--

LAURA: No wonder it feels like all the damn time.

LIAM: But it also wasn't just scrying. I think that they were on the ground there.

TRAVIS: Present?

LIAM: Yes, they said they lost track of us once we took to the air.

TRAVIS: Oh shit, they were with us for a while.

LIAM: She said into the mountains, too, right?

MATT: The first time you took flight was shortly after you went to your first ruin and you were choosing between the yeti village or going right over the mountain. That was the first time you transformed into birds and went over a mountain.

LIAM: So it would have been then.

TRAVIS: Does she know about--?

LAURA: The vagina. The vagini.

LIAM: Lady D is off the map for them. They do not seem to know why. And I did not get a sense they know about our old friend.

MARISHA: Does she think we had a part in--

LAURA: I'm going to call my vagina Lady D from now on.

MARISHA: Lady D's a good word.

TRAVIS: You telling just me that, or the table?

LAURA: Well, I look to you and say it, but--

LIAM: What is the D short for?

SAM: Dick?

LAURA: (laughs)

MARISHA: Ready for.

TALIESIN: Richard.

LAURA: It's a good name.

LIAM: Okay.

TRAVIS: Anything else?

LIAM: Blue screen, blue screen, blue screen.

MARISHA: Did they report us? We being investigated? Do they think we're responsible? Or does she not know?

LIAM: I mean, we are on the list, I'm sure. One of the most powerful people in the country is gone and was last seen with us. Which is partially why I wanted to loop them in at the beginning to nip that in the bud, but we do not have any good options.

TALIESIN: Have they been following us since we got back? Do they know we're here? Do they know where we're going?

LIAM: I do not believe so, but--

LAURA: I think she said that they knew we were here.

ASHLEY: They knew we were here.

LIAM: That we were here in town?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: She did mention that.

LIAM: Thank you. You said something super quiet, and I was like, "What did he say?"

MATT: Sorry, I just need--

LIAM: That's okay.

MATT: (softly, close to mic) They know that you're here.

TRAVIS: Caught the important part at the end.

MATT: Should've ASMRed it for you.

LIAM: Yeah, I got that. I got that.

TALIESIN: (whispering) Is that sandalwood?

ASHLEY: (whispering) We know you're here.

TALIESIN: Carry on.

LIAM: (whispering) Just a little bit of wrapping paper.

SAM: Well.

LAURA: Well, fuck. Are they watching us now? Are they here?

SAM: We've had eyes on this whole place every moment we've been here. No one's here.

LIAM: Maybe not physically on location.

LAURA: Orbs. We've got to get those necklaces.

LIAM: Well, we still need to-- we have to do what we have to do.

TALIESIN: We have to do what we have to do.

LIAM: Go see your family.

ASHLEY: Why are they watching us? Is there like--?

LIAM: Well, Lady DeRogna is the Empire, or was the Empire. She was one of the nine Cerberus Assembly members. She is gone.

SAM: Are you concealing the last thing that she told you, or have you told us that?

LIAM: I hadn't gotten to it yet.

SAM: Cool.

LAURA: What else did she say? (laughter)

SAM: How'd you leave things?

MARISHA: What were her last words to you?

LIAM: She said bye.

SAM: All right.

LIAM: She said, "I need to go find an alley."

SAM: So off to Caduceus' place, then?

LIAM: No, no, no. Let's just leave here.

TRAVIS: Okay.

LIAM: There's more, but let's leave here.

TRAVIS: Sure.

LAURA: Okay.

TRAVIS: I'll leave first and scan the streets.

MATT: Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: Yeah, bitch. 18.

MATT: 18? Not bad. Looks like the expected scattering of late night event hoppers and people finishing closing up work and business for the night. Nothing strange catches your eye.

TRAVIS: It's clear.

TALIESIN: Do we want to get a room?

LIAM: (inhales) Yep.

TALIESIN: That's the way to do it. Let's not even leave the building.

LIAM: It's a cheap room.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's smart.

SAM: They rent rooms here?

TALIESIN: I mean, I assume they do.

LAURA: Yeah, yeah. Right?

SAM: I mean, not every restaurant has rooms.

LIAM: Inn with a tavern?

MATT: I don't believe you've had a room here before.

TRAVIS: I would change location.

MATT: This is more of a social space. There is a place that you've rented here before that's towards the Mudtop Ward.

LIAM: Yeah, let's do that.

MARISHA: We could also go get rooms back at the Soul, but it might be good to separate our location.

LIAM: I think right now, yeah.

MARISHA: I think so.

LIAM: Just go off the grid as much as we are able to.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: I'll just drop an oops-stone in the hall before we leave.

MARISHA: (laughs) Yes. Yes.

TALIESIN: We're paying for a room.

LAURA: (mid-Atlantic accent) Excuse me.

MARISHA: (mid-Atlantic accent) Fiona Fancypants had some burritos.

MATT: You see these two gentlemen who were eyeing you for a lot of the dancing, who've been hovering, sort of that dance hovering, looking for a way to get in there, as soon as you turn around and drop the stone, stop and go--

LAURA: I wink at them. (laughs) (laughter)

MATT: They're just left there, confused and like--

LIAM: ♪ What is love? ♪

LAURA: Oh god.

TRAVIS: I can taste it.

MATT: Are you going to the previous place you rented, or are you looking for another new establishment, or?

LIAM: Let's just find one in this area.

LAURA: The one we rented before is close by.

LIAM: Is here, close by?

LAURA: Right? Yeah?

MATT: You guys went to find some place that was a little bit cheaper and off the path in the Mudtop Ward last time.

LIAM: Let's do that.

LAURA: Yeah, we'll go to the same place.

TRAVIS: Veth, what does your sight do, and how long does it last?

SAM: It's forever and always.

TRAVIS: Oh?

SAM: I can see things that are invisible. I can see-- well, I'll check. Creatures, I believe. If I can hear, I can hear the location of any hidden or invisible creature within 10 feet of me. So I've got to go around listening for breath, basically.

TRAVIS: Got it.

LAURA: Okay, but you don't see.

SAM: I don't see, I just can hear if there's some living thing near me.

LIAM: She's Daredevil.

TRAVIS: As we're moving, I'll slip into an alley, summon the sword very quickly, and cast See Invisibility for the next hour, just in case we're being tailed physically.

MATT: You've got it. Easy enough to do.

MARISHA: I wanted to say earlier, as everyone's leaving, I will be the last person out, to see if any eyes trailed after Caleb or Veth as they left.

MATT: Perception check.

MARISHA: Okay, okay, okay. I think I know my-- 15.

MATT: 15?

MARISHA: That's fine.

MATT: Nothing piques your radar of intrigue or worry.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: A short time, you find your way back to the Mudtop Ward. You find a small hole in the place. It's less of a major inn, and more like partially attached to stables, three table eating room, and a total of four rooms available, of which one is currently occupied. The others are available. It smells largely of hay and slop, and like dried grain, that's gotten a little moldy. Not the worst, but definitely has more of an earthy atmosphere to it. But dirt cheap, each room is--

LIAM: Perfect.

MATT: It's one silver piece a night per room.

LIAM: Okay.

ASHLEY: I'll take care of this.

SAM: Want to negotiate?

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah, I'll take care of it, guys.

TRAVIS: Before we head in the structure. Orbs, rooftop, streets, any invisible forms, spheres, anything like that?

MATT: Okay. Make a perception check.

TRAVIS: 14.

MATT: 14. Nothing catching your attention. You feel pretty solid, you're not seeing anything of that sort. Okay.

TRAVIS: In we go.

MATT: Do you just get one room?

LAURA: Yeah!

LIAM: Just the one room. You heard the lady. One room, please!

MATT: Easy enough done. One silver for the night. Chambers prepared.

SAM: I'll take care of the payment.

MATT: It's small but functional for your purposes.

LIAM: Okay. All right, so once we're in, let's not even waste any time. You're ready to go?

TALIESIN: No, but let's do it.

LIAM: Do you have any kind of keepsake from home?

SAM: We're just going to leave? Don't we have things to pick up? Shopping? Don't you want to talk to her again tomorrow? Or just go?

MARISHA: Yeah, is she going to give us stuff?

LIAM: We don't know.

MARISHA: So we're going to go and come back?

LIAM: Well, we don't have a lot of time.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: So the question is, do we wait a day here in town? We could.

SAM: At least to see what she says in the morning?

TRAVIS: I think it might be worth it.

LIAM: We could go-- That's true.

TALIESIN: Your call. I feel confident that home is home right now.

SAM: I mean, I'm okay going and coming back, but we have no idea how long that's going to take.

LIAM: Well, okay. Okay. Boy, so many things. So many things.

MARISHA: Well, hang on a minute, because we left in a hurry. Where do we stand?

TRAVIS: How were you feeling?

MARISHA: Because I tracked her to an alley. She seems real sad.

TRAVIS: Sad?

MARISHA: Yeah, I think she had a little breakdown, a little cry sesh.

SAM: Well, wouldn't you, if you wanted to be with this amazing young man, and couldn't be because of circumstances tearing you apart?

MARISHA: Absolutely, I think that could be potentially one of a dozen reasons. Feel for her, man.

LIAM: She's skirted the issue of taking the old man out.

MARISHA: Wait, what?

SAM and MARISHA: You mean Trent?

SAM: Or Ludinus? Or both?

LIAM: She didn't say, but I assume she meant Trent.

TRAVIS: Holy shit, Caleb.

SAM: As in, she would help, or she--

MARISHA: -- is suggesting it? Yeah.

LIAM: She was encouraging.

SAM: Then fucking let's do it.

ASHLEY: Yeah, that guy's the worst.

TRAVIS: What did she say? How did she phrase it?

LIAM: She said that she thought this was the time, if we struck first.

ASHLEY: How do you feel about that?

LAURA: Could be a trap?

LIAM: Yes, it could be a trap. He could have sent her.

LAURA: Yeah. If they know we are around, they think that we killed Vess, and then she sends us after Trent, too? Two Assembly members?

LIAM: You still got your stuff up?

TRAVIS: I do. For an hour. How's the room that we're in?

MATT: Looking around. Don't see anything that catches your worry.

TALIESIN: How's the scar?

TRAVIS: Ah.

TALIESIN: I mean, is it glowing?

TRAVIS: It's not really the scar so much as my rock-hard pecs that are still-- ah! -- throbbing.

LIAM: (slap)

TALIESIN: Don't say pecs. Show the scar.

LAURA: The necklace--

TRAVIS: (ripping)

TALIESIN: How it keeps reforming is beyond me, but that's cool.

LAURA: You think it matters?

MARISHA: Just so many rippable shirts.

LIAM: I feel like they could just be switching between us. It couldn't hurt.

ASHLEY: I mean, what if she was--

LIAM: Caleb just sort of slumps to the ground, head between his legs and sticks his own head into his hands.

LAURA: It's okay, Caleb. We'll figure this out.

TRAVIS: Can I just ask you straight out? I've been wanting to for forever. If you had Trent Ikithon tied to a chair, and he was powerless, and it was up to you whether he lived or died, what would you want?

LIAM: Ja.

MARISHA: Yeah?

LIAM: He's everything wrong with this place. But we have so much to do right now, and I don't know what she's playing at. So, if the time was right, and circumstance would allow. Although, part of me questions if that is some part of the game that he is playing in and of itself. He's spoiled a lot of young people from this country. And he shouldn't be doing it anymore. I do have some hesitation, because I don't know what fills that vacuum. I don't know.

LAURA: Astrid?

TRAVIS: Eadwulf?

LAURA: You?

SAM: You.

TRAVIS: Would you consider filling that void?

LIAM: And what? Contradict the king?

MARISHA: Seems like they have no problem doing it.

TRAVIS: I mean, you could, in theory, effect change from the inside. This is all conceptual, of course, but...

LAURA: I mean, it's possible that all this will get taken care of for us. Didn't you say, Beau, that the king was opposed to the Assembly members right now? There's infighting going in, right?

MARISHA: There's a lot of infighting and a lot of incongruent information being tossed around.

SAM: I don't know. When have you ever found that the wheels of justice sort of just turn in the right direction?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

LIAM: And the infighting has ebbed and flowed for centuries, as long as Ludinus has been in power and before.

MARISHA: We're not necessarily immune to it, either. We were with Vess when she died.

TRAVIS: Yeah, but Vess got picked off easy, and if Trent is out of favor, it would be quite opportune. It just also looks like an amazing way to get us to be tied to the deaths of two huge Cerberus Assembly members.

MARISHA: Absolutely. So the question is, was Astrid slumped in an alleyway crying because she misses you? Or was she slumped in an alleyway crying because she's trying to set you up? And she knows that's fucking shitty.

LAURA: Should I ask her?

TALIESIN: I've got a better idea.

TRAVIS: Mm-hmm?

TALIESIN: If we get a hold of her, she comes through, we're going to have to have one more conversation. It's the perfect opportunity for Zone of Truth. Make a room where we have to lay our cards on the table.

LIAM: You got any feelings from that god of yours?

TALIESIN: Hmm?

LIAM: Got any feelings from that god of yours?

LAURA: Oh, I can ask Artie. He's real good at telling when people are lying and stuff.

TALIESIN: I could ask, but it's not really where we come from. It would probably-- Jester's really maybe a little more inclined.

LAURA: Yeah, I'll take a few minutes and cast Commune.

MATT: All righty. As you all settle into this chamber, the senses grow steadily more perturbed by the aromas that seem to permeate the inside of this chamber. The stains across the wooden floor, and the furniture that tell a number of stories in parts that leave the imagination to consider where the rest of the story may have gone. But you complete the ritual, and you watch as within the central circle that you're sitting, you glance up into the ceiling of the room you are in, and Artie is up on the roof looking down at you, as his hood falls back and he goes, "Hello, dear. What is it you wanted?" And he just drifts onto the ground next to you, the cloak (whooshes), like a Batman landing.

TRAVIS: We see, or just she sees?

MATT: Just she sees.

LAURA: Oh, just me today? Fun! Okay. So you know how Caleb was just talking to Astrid, and she was saying all these contradicting things, and saying they know that we're here. Is she setting us up for a trap?

MATT: "It's challenging when individuals are duplicitous by nature, at least by the teachings they've undergone. I can't straight-up tell you what a person's feeling, but I can gather she's certainly an opportunist."

LAURA: Hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Okay.

MARISHA: That's an opportunist.

TALIESIN: Oh.

LAURA: I really should have thought about the things I was going to ask you before.

MATT: "That's all right. You could ask me about how my day was."

LAURA: Well, hang on a second, I only get a few of these things.

TRAVIS: (laughs)

LAURA: Hmm. Anything you guys want to ask him?

MATT: Smacks your tit.

TRAVIS: (howls) (laughter)

MATT: Now you all can see Artagan. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Fucking archfey! God!

SAM: Your nipples are so raw.

MATT: "What? All the cool kids were doing it. I'm sorry."

LAURA: Oh man.

SAM: Did you say, is the Grove safe?

TALIESIN: Is the Grove safe for now?

LAURA: Oh, is the Grove safe for now? Caduceus' home!

MATT: He looks up for a second, closes his eyes. "Hmm, same musty smell it always seems to carry. I don't think it's in any immediate danger."

LAURA: That's good to know.

TALIESIN: Good to know.

SAM: How about is Trent Ikithon home, or is Trent Ikithon watching us?

TRAVIS: Or is he--

LAURA: Is Trent-- I should say "or Ludinus," because we need to know.

SAM: You don't get two questions, but sure.

LAURA: Well, it's one question.

SAM: Yeah, sure.

LAURA: You don't have to specify who, that's the problem.

SAM: Is someone watching us--

LAURA: No, that's a dumb question.

SAM: -- is not a good question.

LAURA: I want to know if--

SAM: Everyone's watching us.

SAM: Trent.

TRAVIS: Would attacking Trent right now be in our favor?

LAURA: Ooh, that's a good one. What he said.

SAM: He's not gonna be answering that.

TRAVIS: He could be sick, he could be out of favor.

LAURA: Would attacking Trent Ikithon, right now, be in our favor?

MATT: "This very moment? Likely not." (laughs)

LAURA: So no.

MARISHA: Bitch.

LAURA: Yes, she definitely is setting us up. How was your day?

MATT: "My day was fine. I'm just glad you decided to check in. I'm a little bit wary of your choice in decor. I think you're worth a lot more than this chamber. I mean, it's a bit of a step down."

LAURA: I know it's stinky in here, but we were trying to be secret.

MATT: "Well, you're doing it well. And I certainly can't be seen here. Bye!" (whooshes) (laughter)

LAURA: He's so fun, you guys.

MATT: Yeah, you gather the final answer was inconclusive, taking what you're saying literally and being, "Right now this very moment, right now? No." But it's a hard question to answer.

TRAVIS: I think she sees Caleb as a--

LIAM: Pawn.

SAM: I don't. I genuinely don't.

LAURA: I think she's conflicted. I think she loves you. I think she loves you, Caleb.

LIAM: I don't think she loves me, Jester. It has been a very long time since--

LAURA: Do you love her?

LIAM: I care for her, but that doesn't matter.

LAURA: If it came down to it, and Astrid asked you to do something that went against everything you stood for now, because it would help her, would you do it?

LIAM: No.

LAURA: Well then, we can't trust her to do the same.

TRAVIS: I think she sees Caleb as an opportunity to better her situation. Not in an evil way. I think she sees you as someone who is capable of doing what she is afraid to.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: It had occurred to me. Maybe we can just keep the pretense up long enough to get the favor.

SAM: I-- I will say that I don't like making decisions based on what we think other people are feeling, because we have no idea what's in her mind. We just got fed a bunch of bullshit by your fake god. We should make decisions based on what we want to do, and what we think is right.

LIAM: I'm not making decisions based off of what the fey gentleman said, I'm going off of what I read on her in the moment.

SAM: Which was that she can't be trusted?

LIAM: She's ambitious. And I would not be shocked, if Trent were removed, if she were to fill that place, and I don't get the sense that things would improve much.

SAM: I don't really care about her or what she does, or this place, or these people. All I care about is what you do, and how you control your destiny. I've heard you say that you don't want to forget about your past, and that's admirable. I've heard you say that you want to go back and fix your past, which is--

LIAM: A fairytale.

SAM: -- interesting. But I think the most concrete thing that you can do is seize control of your past. Go make of it what you wish. If this man wronged you, fix it. Fix him, get rid of him. Put it behind you, get closure. Burn your past. That's what you have to do for you. Not for her.

LIAM: I've weighed that very thing for many, many years, Veth. And in the past, I was not strong enough to do it, or brave enough to do it. It didn't even seem like a possibility until recent time, but now we have a lot to do, that is more important than--

SAM: Nothing is more important that you.

LIAM: If that thing comes through a hole in the ice, there could be no more Empire, no more Dynasty, nothing. And I don't know what's happening with this, or that. I don't want to waste our time, to have us fall, on the top of the world. Yeah, I want him dead. He ruined my life. He took my life away from me. And I fucking helped. But I'm not going to risk all of you right now. We need to get ready, and we need to go north, and finish what we started.

SAM: Is that your fear making that decision?

LIAM: There are things way bigger than my personal grievances. As painful as they are. Save it for a rainy day, is all I can say right now.

SAM: Every day is rainy.

LAURA: When we save the world, we'll come back and kill Trent.

TALIESIN: And if we don't, he'll probably die anyway.

LAURA: Yeah. Silver linings!

LIAM: I don't have to be the one.

TALIESIN: No.

LIAM: We just need something better, Caduceus.

TALIESIN: I think you're making the right choice. I think there may come a time, and a place, but.

LIAM: Thank you. Your concern is appreciated, truly. Thank you. For now, if you are all right with this, we stay here tonight, like you said. We reach out for her again tomorrow, see if anything can be gleaned, and maybe some of us can have some little bit of pleasure for one night. Give me one second, says Caleb, not Liam. Okay. He pulls out Calianna's wand and sits on the ground, and starts to begin the process for creating the tower here in this shitty sheep's quarters.

MATT: All right.

TRAVIS: As he does that, I'll use the rest of the See invisibility to make sure nobody's watching him do that in this room.

MATT: Perception check.

LAURA: Guidance.

TRAVIS: What does Guidance give me?

MATT: An additional d4.

LAURA: Additional d4.

TRAVIS: Eight.

SAM: Oh god.

LAURA: Wow.

TALIESIN: Thank god.

MATT: Feeling pretty solid you got this place on lockdown. (laughter)

TRAVIS: We airtight, fam.

TALIESIN: (sighs)

MATT: And with the completion of the casting, the familiar door reveals itself, the tower interior awaiting your entry.

LIAM: Now, I regret to inform the majority of you, and myself, that we will in fact be sleeping in this shithole. Beauregard, Yasha, the tower is yours.

MARISHA: Oh, we're doing this tonight?

LIAM: We are doing this tonight.

TALIESIN: Oh yes.

ASHLEY: W-w-what are we doing tonight?

LIAM: I push Yasha into the door.

MARISHA: I pull out my fl-- Yash-- she's gone.

LIAM: And it shuts.

LAURA: You can do this!

TRAVIS: Is that a flower?

TALIESIN: Gently guiding you to the door.

MARISHA: I'm going to go on a date, bye!

MATT: (laughs) And the door closes behind as the rest of you stand there in the rather cramped, unpleasant, but functional quarters, for your night's rest, at the behest of Caleb.

LIAM: Okay. Let me put the Alarm spell on the shitty door.

TRAVIS: Yeah, yeah, please, yeah. (laughs)

MARISHA: I thought we were going to do this tomorrow night.

LIAM: Yeah, I don't care.

MATT: And we're going to take a break.

MARISHA: What the fuck! Because we're past break time.

MARISHA: I thought I had 45 minutes! That went on a little long, my apologies.

MARISHA: 45 more minutes to think about things. Fuck.

MATT: We'll come back here in a few minutes to see what the evening in the tower holds in store for these two members of the Mighty Nein. We'll see you guys in a few minutes.

LIAM: Too much attention on me!

Break[]

Critter hug is that lighthouse, that beacon of just warm, good, fuzzy feelings that even when every Wednesday is an historical event, (lively music ends) we still have this awesome platform and space to just dedicate to pure, wholesome, good love, and send out those vibes to people who really deserve it. And I feel like that's my purpose on this planet, is to just make sure that people who need love get love. I like that, yeah. Thank you, thank you. I'm happy to be right beside ya, getting on your coattails. I'm on your, sir. We're on to co-coattails. There you go. Co-coattails? I want coco-coattails. Coco-coattails. Delicious, yeah. Yeah, it's like I'm wearing half of a sleeve and then sitting on your coattail. And then you're wearing the other half of the sleeve, and then sitting on my coattail. There ya go. We're probably gonna trip and fall a lot. It's a coat ouroboros, just kind of? I was thinking coat human centipede. But that's where my mind was going. What? I know, I'm sorry. Wow! (whimsical music)

LAURA: Hey, Critters, Laura Bailey here. Let's see what's up in the Critical Role's shop. (upbeat music) Ooh, look at this. Look at the details, ooh. Roll an investigation if you want, it's basically perfect. I mean the traveler always says impulse purchases are a good decision. Go ahead, darling. Treat yourself. The cuteness, it's overpowering. It's so cute, I can't handle it. So click on over to the Critical Role shop. Don't worry, there's a few more minutes in the break. You still got time. (upbeat music continues) I'm a fan of hot air balloon rides above the Venetian countryside. I'm a fan of Momlan, she's always got my back. I'm a fan of wine older than Taliesin. I'm a fan of Twitch subscriptions. I'm a fan of emotes by ArseQueef. They're neat. I'm a fan of a wife so cool. (sound distorting) People forget I exist. Exist, exist, exist. (heart beating) (cacophony of sound) I'm a fan of wearing your skin as a mask. (classical music)

Part II[]

MATT: And welcome back. So, as we left off, the door slams shut behind Beauregard as the both of you stand in the bottom of Caleb's nein-sided tower, freshly renovated. Caleb, take it away.

LIAM: Yeah, so this is Caleb's tower, so the narration will sound a little like Caleb.

SAM: But with Barry White music playing in the background.

LIAM: That's right. Welcome, Mighty Nein. So you are in the entryway where you have been several times. It is a very tall, nein-sided chamber.

ASHLEY: Wait, is this narrated? (laughter)

LIAM: Yes, from over here. No, no, it's not.

MARISHA: I sort of put in some requests to Caleb. I don't know how any of this is going to turn out. Art is subjective to interpretation, right?

ASHLEY: I love art, so.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: This is perfect.

MARISHA: This'll be like a weird gallery of what I wanted and what we got.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I'm in.

MARISHA: Okay. Do you, will you go on a date with me? I thought this was going to happen earlier. I'm kind of fast-tracking things now.

ASHLEY: I-- yes, I would love to go on a date with you. I was thinking this was going to happen later as well, so I'm not as prepared.

MARISHA: Me neither.

ASHLEY: I didn't take a shower.

MARISHA: I have really bad BO.

ASHLEY: I like BO. It's great. So, I'm Xhorhasian. I can't smell.

LAURA: (laughs)

ASHLEY: I'm in.

MARISHA: Okay!

ASHLEY: I-- wow. This feels weird that they're all sleeping out there and we're having a great time, but fuck it.

MARISHA: I kind of thought this was going to happen in Nicodranas, when Veth was going to be with her husband, and Jester and Fjord would go bone somewhere, I don't know. I just-- I thought it wouldn't be, like, a thing.

ASHLEY: Here you go, you're in, and everybody's outside.

MARISHA: Uh-huh.

ASHLEY: But listen. I feel like-- it feels like the world is ending all the time, so we might as well.

MARISHA: Yeah. Cheers to that. I'd love to just--

ASHLEY: Cheers.

MARISHA: Get ready real quick. And I put on my bow tie.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: I just do a quick comb with my fingers

LIAM: And you hear a bell go (jingling). And right down at your feet is Frumpkin, the cat. And he has a little silver bell that you've seen Caleb use with his spellcasting before, tied with a ribbon to his tail. And he just looks up at you and turns and begins to go up the spiral stairs, up to the platform that you depart from to reach the upper regions of the tower.

MARISHA: I think we should follow the hospitality staff.

ASHLEY: Oh, yes. Sir, lead the way.

MARISHA: Please, good Frumpkin.

LIAM: When you crest the top, there is an easel with just a little note on it that says: Willkommen. And there are--

MARISHA: There's an easel? So Airbnb.

LIAM: -- sparse, not many, but black and blue flower petals, just sort of floating, rotating slowly in the column in the center of this chamber that is used for floating up to higher regions.

MARISHA: I can't tell if I'm hot or cold, hang on.

LIAM: Frumpkin actually starts floating up in front of you. The bell going (jingling).

ASHLEY: I'm cold, but I'm sweating.

MARISHA: Yeah, me, too.

LIAM: And as he rises above you, the iris opens and a-- slightly different than what you've seen before, the chamber above is completely dark and Frumpkin disappears into it. (jingling)

ASHLEY: Wow.

MARISHA: Shall we?

ASHLEY: Sorry, I thought you were giving me something. You wanted my hand. I-- it's been a minute. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Wait. I grab the petals, a couple of the petals, and I put them in my book really quickly. I just wanted to save these. Okay, here's my hand.

MARISHA: Okay.

MARISHA and ASHLEY: (laughing)

TRAVIS: Up!

LIAM: Okay, so as the two of you slowly, hand-in-hand, float up through the open iris into the great hall above, you ascend into darkness. And you see the iris, the brass iris close beneath you. So you're in total darkness, and you feel your feet very gently just land back down on the floor, on this iris. And you're alone together, feeling each other's hands in the dark. And you see, after a brief moment, a runway of amber-colored, miniature, long-haired dachshunds come aglow in the dark, like a runway leading towards, in a path towards, one wall in this nein-sided chamber. And Frumpkin you see in this dim light just walking forward and the tail going (jingling).

ASHLEY: What are these most glorious creatures?

MARISHA: These are wiener dogs. I think this is a wiener red carpet. I'm trying to interpret what Caleb meant.

ASHLEY: Holy shit.

MARISHA: Yes. Aren't they cute?

ASHLEY: I reach down and I give some scritches. And I just keep scritching as we walk.

ASHLEY: And I'm gonna pick one up and hold it.

MARISHA: This is exactly what I was hoping for.

LIAM: As you make your way down between these two rows of dachshunds, you see two of Caleb's globules slowly fade up in warm light when you draw close to one of the doors. And Frumpkin turns around and there is a little note hanging around his neck, and it says, "Eins." And you see two little amber dachsies pulling blue velvet sashes that are attached to the handles of double doors, 'cause remember there are nine sets of double doors in this chamber, and the dachsies on the ground pull apart the doors. And as they do, you see what looks almost like a rolling stage of sorts coming gently, sliding out of the closet space, but it has sections that are folded up and collapsed in weird, strange ways. And as it expands out of the closet, it begins to open up almost like a clockwork construction, or even a pop-up book. Tables and chairs fold out and lock into place in various ways. And you now are looking at a trio of tavern tables. The last thing to slide into place are a familiar-looking bar which brings in the rear. And a hanging sign that slides out, extending over, drops. And you see a sign similar to the one you remember long ago that read, "The Nestled Nook."

ASHLEY: (gasps)

LIAM: Now I should point out the colors of this wooden recreation are just a little more vibrant, little more colorful than you remember, but it is unmistakably a magical fold-out recreation of the Nook. One of Caleb's globules now glow intimately over each of the three tables. You notice three bottles of Lionett vintage--

MARISHA: Perfect.

LIAM: -- sitting on the bar alongside some glasses. But also you hear the turn of wheels as a little amber dachsie pulls what looks like a small sleigh on rollers, out of a hole in the back of the closet, along a track that is extended out from that hole to the bar. And the dachsie, like a little Santa, pulls a little sled out. And there are two crystal glasses on it, full of a dark, amber liquid. And there's a little folded note in front of the cocktails in Widogast's script that says, "Dark and Stormy." A nod to our goth barbarian, you surmise.

ASHLEY: Oh, thank you.

MARISHA: Cheers.

ASHLEY: Cheers.

MARISHA: I--

ASHLEY: This is--

MARISHA: No, you go first.

ASHLEY: You go.

MARISHA: No, you.

ASHLEY: Shit.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: This is lovely.

MARISHA and ASHLEY: (laughing)

MARISHA: He really outdid himself. This is just stop one.

ASHLEY: This is just stop one?

MARISHA: I told Caleb, since I wanted to start over, I wanted to start over. So my request was a little bit of a walkthrough of where we've been, and some of our favorite hiding spots. And felt it was only appropriate to start at the Nestled Nook Inn. So these are just a little bit of, you know, pre-gaming cocktails, so don't go too crazy.

ASHLEY: I chug. (laughter)

LIAM: The large chamber is shrouded in darkness. The only thing lit up is this little tavern corner. All on its own, in the void.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: I like your bow tie.

MARISHA: Thank you. Veth helped me pick it out.

ASHLEY: Boy, I-- I got something today to use for this moment, but--

MARISHA: It's not that divination cream, is it? 'Cause that might be toxic.

ASHLEY: It is.

MARISHA: Oh!

ASHLEY: But I think... it smells weird? And I think I-- (stammering) I-- (sighs). I've been trying to keep my distance from you when I found out that he was listening and they were watching. But I just-- I've had a lot of people in my head, and I don't want to give them you. So.

MARISHA: Are you talking about Lucien?

ASHLEY: Yeah, and I just-- I don't want them to see that I-- That I-- fuck.

MARISHA: I mean.

ASHLEY: That's not what I-- that sounded weird. I don't want them to know that I care about you. Because I don't know if they're going to use that in some way, you know?

MARISHA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: But--

MARISHA and ASHLEY: (exhale)

ASHLEY: Fuck it, I guess, you know?

MARISHA: I really hope you don't-- I mean, clearly you do, but you shouldn't harbor any guilt about any of our previous encounters, in which you clearly weren't yourself. It's not that I'm trying to compare. And I know you've been through a lot. But... I hope you know I trust you. And I don't feel like I have any right to say that what we're going into is any different, because I don't know. I don't know Lucien's capabilities separate from Obann, or anybody else. But that, that wasn't you. And you shouldn't judge yourself as if it was.

ASHLEY: I try not to. I think it's-- it's getting easier. But I still am haunted every night with the look on your face when I almost killed you. But.

MARISHA: I still think of the look on your face when I bruised the fuck out of your eye, punching the shit out of you. Trying to get you to snap out of it. They're not pleasant memories, Yasha.

ASHLEY: It's funny, we don't have a lot of pleasant memories, it seems. But we've all come together and tried to make some.

MARISHA: Here's to making some more tonight.

ASHLEY: Absolutely.

MARISHA: Last time we were here, in the Nestled Nook, Lucien was still Molly.

ASHLEY: God, I miss him so bad.

MARISHA: I don't think I ever got the story of how the two of you met. But let's save that for location number two.

ASHLEY: Okay.

LIAM: (bell jingling)

MARISHA: Frumpkin!

LIAM: There's a little note hanging under his chin and it says, "Zwei." And-

MARISHA: Time for number two.

ASHLEY: What? Oh, that's two? Okay, zwei.

LIAM: The entire room goes dark again, and you sit in darkness for a moment. And little amber dachsies lead away from the tavern where you are. You surmise back towards the center of the room, and Frumpkin just strolls along, inviting you behind him. As you make your way behind the cat, you start to hear the sound of little rollers again and globules floating closer to the ceiling start to, still dim, but light up. And you see those tracks like aqueducts that run all around the walls that they-- normally cats travel through-- have the dachsies running all along them. And you see a curtain or drape being pulled all around the entire room. Different pieces being stretched out until you see black and blue wildflowers painted on this backdrop surrounding you all around the room. And the curtain undulates gently, giving the effect of flowers blowing in the wind. And as you reach the center of the room, and you hear just a little more tinkle of the bell, you see a picnic blanket sitting in the center and there is a little basket with a black and blue checkered cloth in it. And there are tacos with fish and insects. Some of them still moving.

ASHLEY: Oh, it's my favorite.

LIAM: There is another basket with several more bottles of Lionett wine. And as you reach the picnic blanket and sit down, you see a few dachsies running in different directions across the room. And long, green silks get pulled across the entire floor. And those undulate as well. And as you sit there, it's art and pageantry, but it does create the effect of sitting in a field of wildflowers. And the globules of light are dim, and it feels like the early part of evening.

ASHLEY: Wow. This is so beautiful.

MARISHA: It's like living in a painting.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: (laughs) Tacos?

ASHLEY: My favorite. (laughs) Yes.

MARISHA: I furl out the blanket. Lay it down. Crack open a bottle of wine.

ASHLEY: Oh, yes, I'm very excited to try.

MARISHA: This is a good year. My father, oof, he had a rough time this year. A lot of barrels wasted due to a giant flood that came into the vineyard. So only the ones that were on the topmost shelf were the ones that were able to survive, so.

ASHLEY: So it's limited.

MARISHA: Very few bottles of this. I mean, it seems like a magical creation. We'll see how it does.

ASHLEY: I'm in.

MARISHA: Pour two glasses. So how did you and Molly meet?

ASHLEY: Well, when I was going through the wastes of Xhorhas, when I was not quite myself for weeks or maybe a month, however long it was, I don't know. When I finally came to, he was the first person that I saw. And... he was so beautiful. I had been in-- just-- there was no color, there was no life. There was no anything out there in the wastes in Xhorhas. And then when I saw him, he was a kindred spirit. And he introduced me to everybody in the circus. And they took me in. And him and I were the best of friends. And I was weird and he was weird. We all were weird. And he just completely accepted me for who I was. And he didn't ask any questions. But he changed my life in a very big way. But that's how we met. He was the first person I saw in, I don't know, however long I was-- I mean, obviously not including Obann and whatever happened with that during that time. But (sighs) that's how we met.

MARISHA: I hope you feel like we've been your new circus.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: Accepted by all of us weirdos.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I--

MARISHA: Is it not the same?

ASHLEY: It is... better.

MARISHA: In what way?

ASHLEY: There's a closeness that we all have that I haven't experienced with a group of people like this before. I care about everyone so deeply. And I feel that love back. And I loved everyone in the circus. They were all so full of life and-- you know. But everyone in our group is family, and that's something I didn't ever quite have.

MARISHA: I'll never forget seeing you for the first time at the circus, and the crazy--

ASHLEY: I think I carried you?

MARISHA: You did. I--

ASHLEY: Why, why did I carry you?

MARISHA: Because you were trying to confiscate everyone's weapons, and I didn't want you to take my staff. So I pretended that I was injured and Jester was like, "Oh yeah, she's got a hurt leg,"

ASHLEY: Oh, so I was trying to help you in.

MARISHA: It was super dumb.

ASHLEY: And I, yeah, that's right.

MARISHA: You saw through my bullshit real quick.

ASHLEY: I-- I didn't, I thought you were hurt, I think.

MARISHA: You did not.

ASHLEY: Didn't?

MARISHA: There was no way. I mean, if you want to, like, make me feel good now, I'll take it.

ASHLEY: I may have been distracted with things, but I-- I remember when I saw all of you, it was-- Boy, that day changed everything.

MARISHA: It's interesting you talking about Molly being this burst of color in your monochromatic life, because part of the reason you stood out like a sore thumb is because you were this black and white and gray monochromatic vision amongst this fairytale of color.

LIAM: You hear a squeaky wheel in the distance. (squeaking) And out of the darkness, one single little dachsie comes with one of those little sleds behind him. And there is a little stack of black moss cupcakes on it. And he just stops in front of Yasha, and just looks up. (panting)

MARISHA: There they are, yes! Black moss cupcakes.

ASHLEY: Oh my god.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: This is just the greatest hits.

MARISHA: Had to, you know, all the greatest hits.

ASHLEY: Scritchies.

MARISHA: Aren't they the best?

ASHLEY: Oh, I just love them.

MARISHA: Oh, these buddies!

ASHLEY: So much floof!

MARISHA: I know you like dogs.

ASHLEY: Aw, just love 'em. I just can't get enough, I just--

MARISHA: Caleb got a little bugged out about me turning the cats into dogs.

ASHLEY: Really?

MARISHA: I know.

ASHLEY: Well.

MARISHA: I mean, it kind of makes sense.

ASHLEY: I wish he would add them to the mix. I love cats, but dogs-- I just love 'em.

MARISHA: (gasps) Like cats and dogs living together in harmony?

ASHLEY: Yes.

MARISHA: That's--

LIAM: Traitor.

MARISHA: We should pitch that to him.

LIAM: Traitors, both of you.

ASHLEY: I think so.

LIAM: (wheels squeaking)

MARISHA: Cheers to Black Moss cupcakes, I guess.

ASHLEY: So how are you doing? (laughs) I know that's kind of a loaded question, but are you okay?

MARISHA: I'm okay. I'm okay. Yeah. Hearing the news from Yudala yesterday about how they're prosecuting the Cobalt Soul members that were responsible for my being there, I don't know. It gave me a resolve and a sense of purpose and assurance that I didn't know I was looking for. Felt like I kind of cleared away any final reservations I had with the Reserve and I mean, I'm still my regular, skeptic self, but it was good to hear that not all of bureaucracy will stand for that type of bullshit.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MARISHA: Hey. I just want you to know, just before we continue this, whatever this night is, that I have no expectations, and at the end of all of this, if it just-- You have the reassurance of knowing that I'm somebody that you can come and talk to, if you need to and that's-- That's enough for me.

ASHLEY: Thank you for saying that. I-- I feel the same way. But at the same time, (sighs) I-- Things really changed for me when we went to Kamordah. And I saw you with your family. And I got a glimpse into how your world was when you were growing up. And I-- (sighs) I fell in love with you in Kamordah.

MARISHA: I look at the dachshunds behind me.

ASHLEY: I just-- that just came out so fast. And I didn't know that was going to come out right then. I say that. I don't-- ooh. I don't have expectations either. But I really care about you, and I just hope, if anything, that you know I'm so proud of the person that you've become. Just seeing where you started and where you are now, you have completely done that on your own. And I just, I'm-- You blow me away.

MARISHA: Feeling's mutual. You could have left at any time. You kept coming back to this group. Why?

ASHLEY: (sighs) You guys are the only family that I have. And I think... I am so scared.

MARISHA: When I was in Kamordah, that fear of losing this family, I almost sabotaged it just so that I wouldn't have to deal with the angst and the anguish of wondering if and when and how this family will fall apart, like ripping off a bandaid that was never there, I guess over a wound that was never there. Just tried to rip it off for the pain, and nothing else.

ASHLEY: Yeah. That's relatable.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Yeah. I'm so scared to lose everyone. I think that's why I kept showing up, also trying to kill everybody, so that doesn't really make any sense. But (scoffs) I don't want to lose anyone 'cause I don't know if I could survive that again. But I feel like people keep asking me, "What's your purpose?" Lucien asked me that, and I'm like, "I don't know." I feel like it's just to protect, to try to keep everybody safe and alive.

MARISHA: That's why you're my favorite.

ASHLEY: (laughs) Who, me? (sighs) I want to kiss you so bad.

MARISHA: I want to kiss you so bad.

ASHLEY: Okay.

MARISHA: I was about to ask you.

ASHLEY: I jump all over her.

MARISHA: I kiss her! (cheering) (laughter)

TRAVIS: There it is.

MARISHA: Just like, cupcakes are on the side of the wall.

ASHLEY: (laughs) Making a mess.

LAURA: Seven areas left untouched.

MARISHA: Yeah, I'm-- No, Floofs, Floofs, get away.

ASHLEY: Okay, go, go, shoo, scram.

MARISHA: No, no, get, get, get... Oh, the dogs, I forgot the dogs get in your face.

LIAM: But Yasha, as you guys entangle yourselves and roll all over the place, you hear a little jingle and look over, and Frumpkin is there, staring at you, with a very blank stare on his face.

LAURA: I smack Caleb on the back of his head.

LIAM: You're not here. I'm not controlling this! This was set going.

MARISHA: (laughs)

LIAM: You see another little placard hanging under Frumpkin's face, and it says "Drei", which you know very well by now from hanging out with Caleb is the Zemnian word for three. But then the card falls away, and it says the common word "die"! And all the globules of light blaze as bright as they can, and the flowery curtain all around the room drops and spills down to the floor. And all of the nine double doors in this entire room are opened and filled with what look like amber, leather-clad, humanoid figures with doberman pinscher heads! Yes, Beauregard!

ASHLEY: What!

LIAM: These are the ninjas you requested!

MARISHA: Yes!

MATT: I need you to both roll initiative.

ASHLEY: Best date ever! (cheering)

ASHLEY: Holy shit, this is the best.

LIAM: It was on the list, motherfucker!

ASHLEY: Shit, it's so bad, such a bad roll.

MARISHA: Okay, okay!

ASHLEY: Oh, I get advantage. It's the fucking same. I rolled two nines, which is appropriate. So plus three, it's 12.

MATT: 12.

MARISHA: 16.

MATT: 16, all righty. So we have Beau is up first, then the dobermans, then Yasha. Beau, what are you going to do? All nine of them are now rushing in from all sides.

MARISHA: So I'm kind of on top of Yasha, right? Because we were in the middle of this heated makeout. So as I'm kind of straddling her, I'm like: Sorry, babe. Gotta handle these ninjas. (laughter)

MARISHA: And without really moving much, I just cartwheel off of her into a standing position. And I take out my staff, and I do a really extra flourish for no real reason, and then I go after the ninjas--

MATT: Go for it.

MARISHA: With my staff.

MATT: Go for it. You're attacking them.

MARISHA: But it's really Jedi-like.

TRAVIS: Oh, yeah.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Episode III flourish.

MARISHA: Yeah, putting on--

TRAVIS: (rapid lightsaber humming)

MATT: Nonsensically, yeah.

MARISHA: Full-on Episode III flourish, nonsensical. None of this would hit.

MATT: Go for it. First one's coming at you right now. (barking)

MARISHA: Oh my god, oh my god.

ASHLEY: Oh, so scary.

MARISHA: Oh god, that is a-- And I rolled like shit for me, which is funny. 17.

MATT: 17 still hits.

MARISHA: All right.

TRAVIS: For the doberman pinschers.

MARISHA: Next one, that's a natural 17 for a total of 29.

MATT: All right, go ahead. Don't even worry about damage. (laughs)

MARISHA: Pop pop.

MATT: The first one rushes you, whack. You hit the first one that comes at you. As you hit it, poof. It explodes in a spray of-- would be, uh--

MARISHA: Uh-huh!

MATT: Black and blue glittering illusory dust. (whoosh) Off that side.

MARISHA: And I just--

MATT: Second one--

MARISHA: -- turn my hair in the glitter. As I look at Yasha. And I go for the second one.

MATT: Whoosh!

ASHLEY: I do a fake faint. Oh my god. (laughter)

MATT: The staff goes through the second one without even looking. That one just gets bisected. You watch as it scatters into more glitter dust around you.

ASHLEY: Wow!

MARISHA: I take some of the glitter dust, and I just smear it across my face.

MATT: (laughs)

LAURA: That's going to be there for years. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Yeah, herpes of the craft world.

MARISHA: Oh no, oh no, oh no! Oh, it's in my...

MATT: The remaining seven come rushing in.

MARISHA: A pop, pop! Flurry of Blows.

MATT: Go for it. Before their turn comes.

TRAVIS: Burn those ki points, go.

MARISHA: All the ki points.

LIAM: Burn 'em all. You're going to bed. In theory?

MARISHA: Okay. (laughs) That is a-- Sorry, 20 total.

MATT: Yeah, that hits.

MARISHA: And a 15 total.

MATT: 15 also hits.

MARISHA: Okay, so I am going to take my staff, and I do a spin, and I toss it in the air. And I go a-pop, pop! And I catch it.

MATT: (impact sounds) They both just explode into glitter dust.

ASHLEY: Yes!

MATT: You catch the staff mid-air. With that--

MARISHA: Babe, I might need help with these ninjas. (laughter)

TALIESIN: Babe.

ASHLEY: Babe.

MARISHA: Babe, babe, I got a ninja problem.

ASHLEY: Let me help you exterminate.

MATT: As you begin to stand up to join her, the other five come rushing in.

ASHLEY: Oh, no!

MATT: Two against you. Does a 14 hit?

MARISHA: It misses.

MATT: Whoosh, over her head.

MARISHA: Oh no!

ASHLEY: She's so strong! She's too strong!

MATT: A 23, does that hit?

MARISHA: That does hit.

ASHLEY: Oh no, babe!

MATT: You take one point of bludgeoning damage as one leaps, a flying kick, that hits you and just pushes your head a little bit before it kicks off. (yips and snarls)

TRAVIS: Yes, it barks, yes.

LIAM: They're barely unseen servants.

MATT: Yeah, they are vaguely there. (laughter)

MATT: The other three rush towards you. One goes to try and grapple you from behind to hold you. Make an athletics check for me.

ASHLEY: Okay. That, oh. That's a 19 plus nine, so 28.

MATT: It's like being held by a warm breeze. It's holding like (growls) And you're just like, it's immaterial. The other two come towards you to just unload on you with a series of blows. 15?

ASHLEY: It doesn't hit!

MATT: 12.

ASHLEY: No, it doesn't hit!

MATT: Natural one!

TRAVIS: (laughs)

MATT: And the last one will be a 14. They are coming at you, but you are just too powerful, as these hits just tissue-paper off of you. And they're just barking and growling. You feel awesome. You feel unstoppable. It's your turn. What are you doing?

ASHLEY: Okay.

LIAM: Guys, this is what little kids do. (laughter)

ASHLEY: I know. Okay, so if they're still--

SAM: Going to make out and kill some ninjas.

ASHLEY: If they're grappling around me--

MATT: There's one grabbing you, and there's two to the front and sides of you.

ASHLEY: Okay, so what I'm going to do--

MATT: Not actually grappling you, just holding onto you.

ASHLEY: I am going to go into a rage.

LAURA: Yes!

MATT: Mm-hmm.

ASHLEY: And in that rage, I'm going to look over at-- (imitates horn) I'm going to look over at Beau. Imma bamf out the wings.

SAM: Yes! That's hot.

TRAVIS: Get it, get it.

ASHLEY: Then I'm going to take my new sword.

SAM: Oh yeah, your sword.

ASHLEY: And I'm going to just start flying around and then swinging.

MATT: Go for it. Since it is not attuned to you, yeah, you're just swinging a basic sword.

ASHLEY: Swinging a basic sword.

MATT: But go ahead and roll for an attack, yeah.

ASHLEY: Okay, am I adding anything?

MATT: You're adding your strength modifier to it.

ASHLEY: Strength modifier, okay.

MATT: And your proficiency modifier because you are still proficient with a greatsword. So it would be proficiency plus strength.

ASHLEY: Okay, so that would be, oh, wow, okay, so 26.

MATT: That definitely hits.

ASHLEY: Yeah!

MATT: So as you pull the wings outward, feathers scatter out and mix with the glitter that's still in the air and drifting past. You take the sword and, whoosh. As you strike through, it just passes through, and it stands there. (yelps, explosion) And just explodes into glitter. As you spin around for the second strike, go ahead and roll.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay. Oh, wow, okay. Why am I rolling so well right now? Okay, so--

LAURA: 'Cause you're getting laid!

MARISHA: That's true.

ASHLEY: 30 total.

MATT: The other one sees the blade coming and goes (snarls) And jumps in the air to try to kick towards your head. And as you do, you sweep the blade upward. And you watch it go (whimpering, explosion) into another shower of black and blue dust sparkling in the air. There is currently two left that are engaged with Beauregard.

ASHLEY: Okay, I'm going to go over there and-- (background music horn)

ALL: (imitating horn)

ASHLEY: I'm going to fly over to her. I'm going to grab her and pull her in. And kiss her.

MARISHA: Ooh.

SAM: Yes.

ASHLEY: And then flick the other two.

MATT: Awesome, I'll give you a free action on that one, hell yeah. (laughter)

MATT: So as they're just assailing, we'll say, for the purposes of this, you're just giving in to this? We'll say you're letting this happen?

MARISHA: (scoffs) Uh, yeah.

MATT: Yeah, that's your turn.

SAM: Sentinel!

MATT: As you're holding her in there, they're both battering at you and having no impact as you, poof, poof. They both just detonate, (soft whooshing) as the glitter passes, and you're left there standing, holding her. As you pull back--

MARISHA: We make a pretty good team.

ASHLEY: Yeah, we fucking do. (laughter)

ASHLEY: Do we... Do we have more stops?

LIAM: (bell jingling)

TRAVIS: Oh god.

MARISHA: Oh no. (laughter)

MARISHA: We'll--

LIAM: The cat is there. There is a little placard. It says "Vier" on it.

MARISHA: I look at it.

LIAM: Three adjacent closets are opened by more dachshunds. And a billowing cloud of steam spills out of the center door of these three, bringing with it the scent of herbs and soap. These three new stages begin to slide out and unfold similarly to the tavern. Across the hall from you, the center stage unfolds and reveals a fairly large polished stone tub, filled with water that is steaming hot, just like this date. A few benches surround it--

ASHLEY: Ooh.

LIAM: -- as well as an array of greenery displayed in planters about the water. There's a sign hanging off the lip of the stage, and it bears the familiar words "Steam's Respite." And it does in fact look like a stylized version of the bath house you visited in Zadash. The stages on the left and right are a touch more elaborate, and you hear gears clanking and turning inside the folded contraptions, extending up and broadening out. And you watch as two platforms begin to erect themselves before your eyes. Ladders fall down, and lengths of highly polished brass metal begin to extend out in segments until you see two slightly varied brass water slides that lead to the stone pool of water before you. One slide comes down in a curve to the edge of the tub. The other one is just a short little dip into space, which leads for a 10-foot drop into the water. They're a little bit different. Finally, underneath each of these two platforms--

SAM: -- are parrot samurais. (laughter)

LIAM: Surrounded by more greenery that is sliding into place as I speak, there are two large, apex predator cats. Bear with me here. A pair of massive amber lionesses sit proudly among fragrant eucalyptus leaves. And beside each of them, a straw mat rests. On one platform, there is also another easel from Caleb with a short note. Dear Beauregard, please forgive my deviating from your explicit instructions. But as a fan of rule breaking, I think you will likely permit the transgression. Besides, what better gift could I offer the Lionett? Please enjoy your massage and soak. See you tomorrow at breakfast. C. W.

ASHLEY: What happens in here? Do we fight?

MARISHA: We don't fight. They rub.

ASHLEY: (laughs) Yes.

MARISHA: Our backs. For a massage, it's a massage. He got us a massage, yes.

ASHLEY: I've missed massages so much. (laughs)

MARISHA: Me, too. Well, tower's ours. Claim the rest of the night with me?

ASHLEY: Absolutely.

MARISHA: I strip naked, go up to one of the water slides, go down into the hot tub.

LIAM: It's hot.

MARISHA: Ah!

ASHLEY: I strip naked.

SAM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

ASHLEY: Fly up to the top of the water slide. (laughter)

TRAVIS: Let's go, let's go. Come on.

LIAM: Campaign tradition.

ASHLEY: Put 'em back in. I know I can't take them out twice.

MATT: They haven't faded yet.

ASHLEY: They haven't faded, okay, good.

MATT: Time gets weird here for the time being, because why the fuck not?

ASHLEY: And then I-- I'll go down the slide sideways like this. (laughter)

MARISHA: Flying through the air?

ASHLEY: Yes. (laughter)

MARISHA: And then I just cuddle up into her, wrap my arms around her, give her another big kiss.

LIAM: The whole room darkens as the few globules that are here dim, dim, dim, dim, and once again you're in a little, small, intimate pocket of light in this giant chamber. And then you start to see illusory fireworks in the dark above you.

ASHLEY: Oh, come on. And as you look at each other's faces in this hot tub, you see those lights reflected on each other's beautiful faces, reds and blues and greens.

MARISHA: Hey.

ASHLEY: Hey.

MARISHA: I love you, too.

ASHLEY: That's the best thing I've ever heard.

MARISHA: Just lay my head on her shoulder, enjoy the show.

ASHLEY: Oh, but at some point, I'm very curious about--

MARISHA: The mirror?

ASHLEY: -- something in your bedroom.

MARISHA: The mirror.

ASHLEY: Yes, yes, yes, the mirror in your bedroom.

MARISHA: Bed is made whenever you're ready.

ASHLEY: We'll enjoy the show first.

MARISHA: Okay. We enjoy the show.

MATT: All right.

TRAVIS: That's a dope date night.

ASHLEY: That's the best date ever.

SAM: Steam fills the camera.

MARISHA: Yeah, steam, steam, steam.

MATT: Steam fills the camera as the fireworks (explosions) fade off. Then we'll go ahead and finish tonight's episode there.

MARISHA and ASHLEY: Aww!

LAURA: As the rest of the group sits outside: It smells like farts out here. (laughter)

SAM: I just, as we fall asleep, I just slap Fjord on the tit. (laughter)

TRAVIS: I start to cry just a little. It's so sensitive now.

LIAM: I will just throw in one last little detail because there was a chance you were going to go to your rooms.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: And eventually you will. And eventually, you're going to ♪ fuck ♪.

MARISHA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: I want to know everything.

LIAM: But when you enter into the sitting room, not you, Yasha, but you, Beauregard, with your passive perception, notice a very slight change to the stained glass window above the fireplace, which is a picture of the Mighty Nein, their backs, staring out at a field in the Empire. And the only change, it's very minimal, is that Yasha and Beau's hands are--

LAURA: Oh my god.

LIAM: -- linked together.

ASHLEY: Come on.

LIAM: Scene.

MARISHA and ASHLEY: (sobbing)

ASHLEY: My girlfriend.

MARISHA: My girlfriend!

MATT: An evening to take a moment to appreciate the reason you fight and the things worth protecting with the dangers ahead. But take a moment of respite, well earned, of connection well needed, and to take stock in what's important. Thank you all for joining us. We'll see you next week. We love you very much. And is it Thursday yet? Good night.

TRAVIS: Yay, y'all hooked up!

(cheering)

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