Thanks to the incredible hard work done by Melon Lord, the fifth episode of The Mortal Path has been thoroughly and utterly transcribed! Thank you, Melon Lord! We’re so grateful for the work put into this fantastic transcript, and we’re so excited to be able to share this work with you all. Thank you hugely to Orion for the editing!
While Orion plans to transcribe more episodes, transcription is a time consuming and difficult task, and this is a passion project of his. We’ll be updating the site with new transcriptions as they come, and will be keeping you all updated on Twitter. If anyone is interested in helping Orion write these transcripts, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can put you in touch!
So, with another HUGE thank you to Melon Lord and Orion, we are so pleased to present here:
Episode 5: The Icetooth Ball
Created by Yubi, Gary, Kitty and ed.
Transcribed by Melon Lord and edited by Orion. Any corrections to suggest to this transcription should be sent to email@example.com with ‘Transcript Error’ in the subject line.
Timestamps written are approximate rather than exact, so as to avoid breaking up the flow of the dialogue.
Please note content warnings for gore (around 1 hour in) and emetophobia (around 1 hour 10 minutes).
ed as Taro: Previously, on The Mortal Path…
[Clips from previous episodes with slow dreamy synth music in the background]
Yubi as Marlo: Anybody who wishes to resist the spell, make me a charisma saving throw.
ed as Taro: Here I go!
Yubi: She steps back and smiles as she goes,
Yubi as Marlo: Innocent, all three.
Kitty as Nerium: [Gasps] Thank you so much! Thank you so much.
ed as Taro: I’m getting something too, I’m getting… Oh what’s that smell? Is that… Oh, is that bullshit?
Yubi as Marlo: Have you got those ten gold pieces you owe me? You did promise me ten gold pieces for my services.
ed as Taro: Did I? Interesting, interesting…
Yubi as Marlo: I do have a little something I need doing.
Yubi: You also remember Elden Zugai, because he was also a friend of Lord Falutin’s.
Yubi as Marlo: Tonight, he will be at the Icetooth Ball.
ed as Taro, excitedly: Is it a masked ball? Is it a masked ball?
Gary as Natalia: You are learned in magic. I might ask for some lessons.
[Dreamy background music is replaced by a lone violin to signify the theme tune starting]
Gary as Natalia: Please, ah, this sword.
Yubi as Marlo: I think when you use it, something rather wonderful will happen for you, but for the person that you’re hitting it with, well… They might find themselves in a spot of bother.
Yubi: And she hands it back to you.
Kitty as Nerium: There you go! Don’t you look lovely? Give us a twirl!
ed as Taro: I’m not dressed yet. [Laughter]
Yubi: The two of you are in your outfits…
Gary as Natalia: Wait, where is the ball? Is it in the Town Hall?
[Drums come into the background music, the pace picks up]
Kitty as Nerium: Once they’ve set off, I am totally going to go through both their bags.
Yubi: Pallen steps forward, and he opens his arms, and he goes,
Yubi as Pallen: Welcome to the Icetooth Ball!
[The Mortal Path’s theme tune (by Rachel Graff) begins properly]
Yubi: Nerium, as you open the backpacks of your two companions, Taro and Natalia, you two step forward into the Icetooth Ball. As you two step into the ball, you can see that there are lots of people already there, and the party’s already happening.
[Different music starts up, dreamy harp and piano, very quiet, soft and calm under the speech]
People are dancing, in one corner there’s a little string quartet set up, there’s music, there are tables laden with food. It’s all incredibly beautiful. The decorations are all themed around blue and silver, there’s lots of viper and snake symbolism. It’s really pretty, and Pallen – who is standing next to you, the drow mayor with the great big medallion – looks over at you, gives you a meaningful look, nods his head, and very quickly walks away. And you two are left standing at the entrance to the Icetooth Ball. What do you want to do?
Gary as Natalia: I think at this point, we split up and approach him with different tactics.
ed as Taro: Yeah. And, for future reference, we probably shouldn’t know each other.
Gary as Natalia: I quite agree. I don’t want to know you. [Yubi laughing]
ed: I walk off.
Yubi: Where do you walk off to? Where are you heading?
ed: I’m gonna do a sweep of the room, just walk around and see what there is to see. Keep an eye out for Scar-Face.
Kitty: Case the joint.
Yubi: As you start heading ‘round, it doesn’t take you long to spot him. There’s a sort of seating area set up in one of the corners, where there are sofas and chaise longues and various opulent places where you can sit and relax. You see him after about maybe fifteen minutes of doing a very slow walk around the big hall. He is an older human man, he’s got white hair, and he has a big scar bisecting his lower lip. He’s sitting alone at one of the sofas, and he’s drinking what you assume is wine or some sort of drink from a silvery goblet. He doesn’t look particularly interested in anything, he doesn’t look particularly bored, he’s just sitting there watching people walk by. You get the feeling that’s him.
ed: Okay. Is it just all in one room, or are there like… other rooms. What’s the deal?
Yubi: It’s one big room. There are big double doors that lead out to a very big balcony on the left, bits of the room are partitioned by various folding screens, but it does seem to be one room. There’s a space cleared for a dance floor, as well as spaces cleared for tables filled with food and various chairs and small tables scattered around.
ed: I want to go out on the balcony.
Yubi: You head out towards the balcony. It looks down into this big courtyard, and there’s a big something in the middle of the courtyard that’s been covered in tarpaulins. There are lots of people milling around, they seem to be getting ready for something.
[~5 minutes in]
ed: I’m just going to hang out there for a bit. Can I see Old Man McOldface from the party balcony?
Gary: Oh yes, Old Man McOldface.
Yubi: Yeah, Old Man McOldface is quite towards the back corner of the room. You’d have to keep checking on him, but you can see him, just about.
ed: Okay, I’m just going to chill.
Yubi: It’s quite cold out there, but it’s refreshing, it’s nice.
ed: I like the cold, in this scenario. [Laughter] Because it makes me seem cool.
Gary: Says the guy who hated to cold on the- oh, never mind.
ed: Well that wasn’t cool then, Gary. That was uncool cold.
Gary: Ah, the uncool cold.
ed: This is the cool cold.
Yubi: This is the cool cold.
ed: This is the cool cold.
Yubi: Natalia, what are you doing?
Gary: I’m going to the bar to get a drink.
Yubi: There is a wide selection. There doesn’t seem to be anyone there particularly manning it. Servants are sort of refilling glasses, but it seems to be “pick what you want to drink.”
Gary: What’s on offer?
Yubi: There’s some ale, there’s wine, there seems to be water, and there looks like there’s fruit juice as well.
Gary: I’ll grab a little glass of wine.
Yubi: Red or white? Or rosé?
Gary: Uh… Oh dear Lord. Um, I’ll go for white. And then, I think I’m going to start to schmooze around the party a bit, but not directly towards Elden.
Yubi: As you start walking around, people take interest in you but nobody really moves to start a conversation with you. There seems to be cliques. You can see people are sort of clumping together. This, as you know, is an event that happens every year – people seem to have set societies. As you look around, you can see Marlo in a far corner. She’s dressed in this amazing silvery laced dress, she’s got a big headdress on, and her skin is painted with little decorations in silver and white. She is talking to Pallen and a couple of other people in one of the corners.
But people seem to be sort of clumped together; people are looking at you, but no one’s making a move to talk to you.
Gary: Is there anyone on their own?
Yubi: Yeah, there’s definitely a couple of people on their own.
Gary: I’m going to go up to one near Elden and just start talking.
Yubi: There is a gnome sitting on one of the chairs. She has some sort of fruit juice in her hands, and she is sitting alone and sort of watching the dancers. As you come over, she looks up and she gives you a little smile, and she goes,
Yubi as the gnome, with a high, polite voice: Good evening.
Gary as Natalia: Hello there. This is such a lovely party, isn’t it?
Yubi as the gnome: Lovely as always. Doesn’t change much, but, you know, still beautiful.
Gary as Natalia: Have you been here- well, how long have you been coming?
Yubi as the gnome: Oh, seventy-odd years, I should imagine.
Gary as Natalia: Seventy? You don’t look a day over thirty!
Yubi as the gnome: [Chuckles] Thank you very much, but I’m far over thirty I’m afraid. I didn’t catch your name? I don’t believe I’ve seen you before either.
Gary as Natalia: My name’s Natalia.
Yubi as the gnome: Oh, it’s nice to meet you, Natalia.
Yubi: And she holds out her hand.
Gary: I shake it.
Gary as Natalia: Visiting from Cindarion. I’m just wondering – who are the regulars? Who else comes here?
Yubi as the gnome: Well, most everybody you see here is sort of an old hand. There’s a couple of new faces this year; Marlo over there, she’s been a couple of years running now, she used to pop by every so often, but-
Gary as Natalia: Oh, what does she do?
Yubi as the gnome: She’s with the Brightlight Circus. They come into town every year for the carnival. They have some sort of deal with Mayor Pallen, so…
Gary as Natalia: I see. Who else?
Yubi as the gnome: New faces… Well, there’s that gentleman with the mask out on the balcony, I don’t believe I’ve seen him before, and um, well, the-
Yubi: She leans in a bit, and she goes,
Yubi as the gnome: The gentleman behind me is a new face as well. There’s one or two, a couple of new children, come of age and ready to stay up late for the activities, that’s about it.
Gary as Natalia: Well, the one on the balcony, he looks very strange, I’m not sure what to make of him. How about the chap behind you? Is it usual for new people to just arrive? I mean, excluding myself, of course.
Yubi as the gnome: Well, he’s just opened that new diamond mine, I believe, so it’s quite right that he should be invited, of course. He’s going to do wonderful things for Grendelford.
Gary as Natalia: Ah, just opened it you say? About how long ago was that?
Yubi as the gnome: A couple of weeks, really, not long ago at all. Really, they’re just starting the actual work. There was, I believe, a preliminary dig in which a couple of, you know, gems were found, enough to convince Pallen that it was a worthwhile endeavor. And well, you know, he’s rich, so bought a house and some land, and he’s doing good so far.
Gary as Natalia: Is this area full of diamonds?
Yubi as the gnome: [Chuckles] Not that we knew of! How did, um-?
Gary as Natalia: So it was just luck?
Yubi as the gnome: I assume so. I mean, I’ve heard that he is relatively well versed in geology and geography and he says he’s opened several diamond mines before, so…
[~10 minutes in]
ed: Hey Gary, pro-tip: If you’re having a conversation with someone, it’s generally polite to ask what their name is, right?
Kitty: You’re not there.
ed: Before you start giving them the mine quiz. Asking about their Minecraft stats.
Kitty: They haven’t asked her name.
Gary: No, yeah, yes she did ask me for my name.
Yubi: Yes she did.
Kitty: Oh, yes she did? And she didn’t- [Laughing]
Yubi: No no, no no, she did. [All laughing]
Kitty: Mysterious stranger!
ed: I mean, I’m obviously not there…
Yubi: I can’t believe that Taro had to be your social conscience.
Kitty: She was on a roll, she was getting good info.
Yubi: Mhm. But the gnome woman, she kind of looks up at you, and she goes,
Yubi as the gnome: And, how did you get an invite?
Gary as Natalia: Oh, I was just passing through and I bumped into Pallen, and he said to come along. I- this is very rude of me, I’m sorry, miss. What, pray tell, is your name?
Yubi: Um. [Pauses, and everyone else starts laughing]
Gary: That’s why I didn’t ask! I’ve been there, I’ve DMed.
ed: It’s Google-dot-com slash-search slash-random-fantasy-names.
Yubi as the gnome: Michelle.
Gary as Natalia: Michelle, how lovely to meet you.
Yubi as Michelle: It’s a pleasure to meet you too. But I didn’t quite catch what you did – or, are you a friend of Pallen’s?
Gary as Natalia: Not quite. I’m part of a prospective trade delegation.
Yubi as Michelle: Oh! How wonderful, more trade coming to Grendelford is always welcome. What do you deal in?
Gary as Natalia: Oh, this and that. Sometimes silks, sometimes furniture. We have some few toys and trinkets and gadgets over in Cindarion which I think would go down well.
Yubi as Michelle: Where is Cindarion? I’ve not heard of it, I’m afraid.
Gary as Natalia: Cindarion is on the other side. The other side of the mountains.
Yubi as Michelle, awed: On the other side… My gosh, you’ve come a long way.
Gary as Natalia: I have. Well…
Yubi as Michelle: Why Grendelford?
Gary as Natalia: I’ve heard it’s such a wonderful, blossoming town. And the Ice Festival- Ice Dragon Festival?
Yubi as Michelle, helpfully: The Icetooth Carnival.
Gary as Natalia: Icetooth Carnival! Yes, that was it. It’s such a lovely thing, I was in here earlier in the day, and I was just mesmerized.
Yubi as Michelle: Well, I’m glad that you’re enjoying our little town. “Blossoming” isn’t perhaps quite the word I’d use, but maybe in the future, with all these new business endeavors coming in. Very exciting.
Gary as Natalia: So, is Elden – is this chap’s money – is that a big thing for the town?
Yubi as Michelle: I’m not quite sure what you’re asking, we all have our own ways of making things work. Ah, do you know what? I’m so sorry, my friend over there has just beckoned me. If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to go and speak to her for a while.
Gary as Natalia: Of course.
Yubi: And she gets up. And as she does, she shoots you a little weird look as she goes. And she hurries over to where you can see another gnome is actually waving, to be fair.
Yubi: You are sitting in the costuming room, the reclaimed costuming room which is clearly some sort of big holding room in the Town Hall, with the backpacks that you have started to go through.
Kitty: Oh yes.
Yubi: Whose are you starting with?
Kitty: I will start with Taro’s, please.
ed: My bag of tricks! Full of junk.
Yubi: Taro’s magical bag of tricks. You don’t need to roll any checks because you’re just looking through them in your own time. You find in Taro’s bag, there is a deck of cards, there is a set of dice, there is-
Kitty: Oh! Can I roll the dice a few times and see if they’re loaded?
Yubi: Absolutely. Taro, are they loaded dice?
ed: They are loaded dice! Correct!
Yubi: They are absolutely loaded dice!
Yubi: They keep coming up on sixes or ones.
Kitty, in a singsong voice: How did I guess?
Yubi: How did you guess? As you keep digging through, there’s also two kind of… Costumes? Two- you assume are costumes, because they appear to be set pieces. One seems to be the outfit of some sort of train conductor. There’s a hat, there’s a whistle, there’s a hole punch, there’s some sort of uniform going on that looks like it would fit Taro. And there’s also some sort of merchant-type thing. Something that looks very fancy and is relatively well-made, but you being a seamstress and actually having an eye? It’s one of those things that’s fake-well-made. Enough to fool a commoner, but not to fool somebody who actually knows what they’re looking for in silks and good ways in which to create clothing.
Kitty: So it’s got sort of fake double cuffs?
Yubi: Exactly, it’s got that kind of fake double-breasted thing where it’s actually just one little strip of material sewn into the main coat type thing. [Kitty laughing]
Kitty: Yeah… I bet the pockets are sh- actually no, I bet the pockets are really good, but I bet they’ve been adapted to be really good.
Yubi: There are lots of very good pockets in seemingly odd places all over the outfit. There’s also two hats. One seems to have the top of the hat missing, it’s more of just the cap-bit of a hat. [Kitty and Gary laughing] And he other one is the same sort of base, but it’s got this incredibly fancy, like, super fancy [Gary losing his shit with laughter] mayor’s hat that’s stuck on top of it, really badly attached, that are clearly two very different hats that have been put together.
ed, dramatically: How could you.
Yubi: You said that was it!
ed: How could you do this to me?
Yubi: Listen, you can’t shitpost and then tell me what’s actually in your bag in one sentence, because then you get the croupier, the Lord Mayor’s croupier, the train conductor and the merchant.
Kitty: Nice. Nice. As I’m looking at these, I’m going to take them out of the bag, and they’re crumpled – they’ve clearly come from the bag, he hasn’t just half-finished from the costumes around me.
Yubi: Oh yeah, no no no, they are clearly from the bag, and there’s signs of wear and tear on them.
Kitty: They smell, don’t they?
Yubi: A little bit!
Kitty: I mean, not even a little bit, they smell quite a lot.
ed: Alright, the bag canonically smells, because I said so last week, so…
Yubi: Okay, it’s a slightly smelly bag.
Kitty: Stinky costumes… Okay, so: Stinky costumes, some loaded dice, some cards…
Yubi: As you keep digging, you’re pulling out these items, all of which fold down quite reasonably into this backpack. There’s also Taro’s original clothing that he was wearing before he switched into his outfit.
Kitty: Oh, he bothered to pack it into the bag?
Yubi: Yeah, I think so, he just put all his stuff in- I think we said last week that you put all your stuff together for you to look after, it’s not just scattered in this room of clothes.
Kitty: That’s true.
Yubi: As you pull it out, you notice that the shirt is very much different from the trousers and the overcoat. You are welcome to roll me an investigation check on it if you want to learn more about it.
Kitty: Yes. Okay, this is the first roll with the fancy new dice. All my test rolls have been, like- well, not all of them, but enough of them have been single figures that I’m nervous. [dice rolling]
Yubi: Do you have – before you tell me your answer, what the dice roll is – do you have proficiency in investigation?
Yubi: In this occasion you do, because you are looking for things to do with the material, the crafting… You’re looking at the fabric and stuff, which is something of your profession.
Kitty: Excellent! Well, my proficiency bonus is two, so that would make it a sixteen.
Yubi: A sixteen! Okay: Fancy, it is well made, and it has some pretty distinctive patterns on it. And they’re not patterns that you normally see. And after a bit of inspecting the coarse material of the shirt – there’s some really fancy embroidery and pattern stitching that looks like it comes from Djaral. And you don’t know much about Djaral, or you don’t know anything really about the geography, except that it is a great big desert and it’s on the opposite side of Alfallen from where you come from. And you only know it because Lord Assolin had a hat with the same sort of stitching and pattern that he was very fond of, and very fond of telling everyone that it came from the other side of the world.
Kitty: Hmm… I mean, really really the other side of the world as well, because if it comes from a desert, then it’s right over at the- what I would instinctively want to call the pole, but it’s not.
Yubi: The Yubi-pole. The reverse pole.
Kitty: The Yubi-pole, yeah. The pu-pu-pu-pu-pule.
Yubi: That’s it.
Kitty: Anything else in there?
Yubi: The very last thing at the bottom of the bag-
Kitty: I mean, I don’t think it’s the very last thing, because there’s a harmonica in there too.
ed: I think there are two things… There’s like, three things.
Yubi: Yes, okay. There is also a, sorry, there is also a… Oh yeah, there is, sorry. I wrote my notes slightly funny.
ed, judgmentally: Yeah that’s what I thought.
Yubi: Underneath the- thank you. Underneath the clothing, there’s also a kind of battered harmonica that’s clearly seen some use. There is the leather bracelet that Taro took from the box.
Kitty: Oh, yeah, did that have something written inside of it?
Yubi: It does, it says, “until next time” engraved the leather. And it’s not super well engraved, it looks like it’s done by somebody who’s not a professional, and it’s a bit worn where you would tie it around your wrist.
Kitty: I will tut at it.
Yubi: You tut at it.
Kitty: I look at the harmonica and for a split second I think about going pwooo, and then I go “no, ew, no yuck,” and I put it back down. [Yubi and Gary laughing]
Yubi: You quell the urge to put your mouth where Taro’s has once been.
Kitty: I really do, and it’s not hard to quell.
Yubi: And as you look in the bag-
ed: Can you roll to quell, please?
Kitty: I shall! I shall roll to quell!
ed: You’re going to fuck it up.
Kitty: That is a four!
Yubi: Oh, you toot it! You toot it! You give it a little toot, and then you remember… you remember that harmonicas are a mouth-to-mouth instrument and regret everything for about a second.
ed: Toot toot, motherfucker.
Kitty: Yep, yep. I’m sorry that I did that.
Yubi: It does sound nice. It’s a good harmonica, it sounds good. And as you look in the bag, the very last thing in the bottom is some sort of handle. It looks like it’s a handle from a drawer of some sort, maybe a door. It’s quite ornamental, and it’s clearly been pulled out of whatever it was sunk into.
[~20 minutes in]
Kitty: Is it a handle as in a pull handle, like you get on fancy kitchen drawers in Homes and Gardens?
ed: Nah, it’s one of those, like- you know, the ones that kind of hang and they’ve got the round thing on them.
Kitty: Oh, like a door knocker?
ed: Yeah, that kind of thing, but more of a handle than a door knocker.
Gary: One of them floppy knobs. [Yubi giggling quietly]
Kitty: Oh. Oh! Oh, like on fancy old antique cabinets, when you’ve got the little swingy ones.
ed: Yeah, sure why not. Let’s go with that.
Kitty: I mean, I’m trying to picture it. Make me a word picture, ed.
ed: Oh, fine. Maybe I’ll retcon this one. It’s just a bent piece of metal with some screws in it.
Kitty: Okay. It’s a bent piece of metal. Maybe I don’t know it’s a handle anyway.
ed: It’s pretty obviously a handle. You’ve seen furniture before, I can tell you that for free.
[Kitty, Yubi and Gary laughing]
Kitty: Should I roll for furniture proficiency?
ed: Yeah, roll furniture.
Gary: Is furniture in your backstory?
Kitty: No, because that did not go well.
ed: Do you have proficiency in furniture…?
Kitty: It’s a handle.
Yubi: That is all that’s in Taro’s bag. A lot of clothes and some weird items.
Yubi: Taro. You are on this balcony. What do you want to do?
ed: If nobody’s coming to talk to me, I think I’m going to just kind of saunter over to the bar.
Yubi: You’ve gotten a couple of looks, but nobody really seems to be branching out to talk to you.
ed, disdainfully: Losers.
Yubi: You head over to the bar. What are you getting to drink?
ed: What is this bar? Is there a barkeep?
Yubi: No, it’s a long table where drinks are set out in various glasses in regimented orders. It’s quite clearly alcohol, and then soft drinks and water at the end.
ed: Alright. What looks like the most expensive?
Yubi: Probably the wine? Maybe the red wine?
ed: Yeah, let’s get some of that. Let’s have the red.
Yubi: Okay, you pick up a glass of red wine.
Kitty: Have they got any fizzy?
Yubi: Nothing seems to be fizzing.
ed: I’m going to just neck it and then just take another one with me.
Yubi: Okay. Alrighty, you down the first one, and it’s pretty alcoholic, and you take the second one. It feels warm from being outside so long.
ed: It’s a good thing my constitution is very high.
Yubi: Mhm. Mhm.
ed: No wait, it’s actually not negative, I didn’t even realize that, holy shit.
Yubi: Yeah, it’s one of your not-negative ones.
ed: H-oh. Yep!
Yubi: You do okay for now. Alcohol generally takes at least twenty minutes to kick in, I find. But it’s you, so maybe you’re immediately passed out.
ed: I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m not, canonically, otherwise the plot doesn’t continue. [Yubi laughs]
Yubi: No, you’re fine.
ed: So who are these… And is it really just Elton John and, um, Michelle Dwarf? Goblin? Imp? They’re the only singles in this party? Even Michelle the gnome is not single anymore, right? She found another gnome.
Yubi: No, there are definitely people meandering between the tables. You can absolutely go try and talk to someone. There’s a human man, there is an orc, and there is another tiefling.
ed: I’m going to lean against a pillar and just sort of look at them all. But like, give them kind of a meaningful look.
Kitty: Through your large mask.
ed: Oh shit, you’re right.
Yubi: You’ve got a very good mask on.
ed: I’m just going to try any point my flat mask face in each of their directions, but in, like, a… I’ve got no plan of how to win at a party. You’ve really struck at my weak point here, I don’t know how to mingle! What is this?
Kitty: I know! You took three dorks and put them in a party and said, “talk to people.” What kind of fantasy is this?
Yubi: Are you giving them a look that’s coming across as threatening, or “come hither?”
ed: Through my mask. Um…
Yubi: What is Taro aiming for?
ed: Taro’s aiming for unreadable here. Just, some kind of focus, but a generically unreadable one because I’m wearing a mask. He just wants to get their attention, but in a very subtle way that makes it look like they’re the ones who are paying attention to him.
[Yubi rolling dice]
Yubi: Okay, the orc completely ignores you.
ed: Alright, loser. His loss.
Yubi: The human man is nervously glancing over to you every so often, but the tiefling, after a minute of you staring, turns to look straight at you and stares right back.
[~25 minutes in]
ed: The staring continues. We’re making eye contact here. I’m not backing down from this.
Yubi: Okay! After about eight seconds – which is generally accepted as two seconds too many to have direct eye contact without it getting intensely awkward – the tiefling looks around, and then slowly walks over to you and goes,
Yubi as the tiefling in a quiet, concerned voice: Are you alright? [Kitty laughing loudly]
ed as Taro in a deeper pompous voice: Excuse me?
Yubi as the tiefling: You’re, uh, staring? Are you alright?
ed as Taro: I’m pretty sure it was you who was staring at me.
Yubi as the tiefling: I’m pretty sure that you were staring at me first, and that’s why I was staring at you… Do I know you?
ed as Taro: Well. You might do.
Gary: “Under this mask.”
ed as Taro: Have you heard of the Tarovians of Nebelheim Valley?
Yubi as the tiefling: The… Nevelheim? Um…
Yubi: Is that a real place?
ed: Yeah. Well, I don’t know, I just made it up. [Gary laughing] This is like a Dragon Ball episode! It’s Dragon… Dungeondragon. Everything’s made up, Yubi.
Yubi: Yes, but the thing is, I gave you control over the world! So if you say this is a real place I’ll be like, “okay, it’s a real place, let’s see if the character knows it,” we can’t live in this limbo, ed! Does it exist or not?
ed: I don’t know, Yubi! I don’t know. What do you think?
Kitty: Is Taro making it up?
Yubi: It’s an eighteen, it’s a real place, it’s the first word that just springs to your mind.
ed: Okay, cool.
Yubi: And the tiefling goes,
Yubi as the tiefling: Oh yeah! Yeah, actually! My grandma lives there! Still don’t think I know you.
ed as Taro: But- well what does she think of the place?
Yubi as the tiefling: It’s nice…? Sort of a sleepy, quiet little village.
ed as Taro: Yes, thanks to the patronage of my family. [Gary laughing]
Yubi as the tiefling: What was your name again?
Kitty: Good save!
ed: What was that question? I didn’t hear.
Yubi as the tiefling: What was your name? Again?
ed as Taro: Count Talisar Tarovian.
Yubi as the tiefling: Right… Are we talking about the same place…?
ed as Taro: Yes. Now, I’ve given you my name. What’s yours?
[A beat of silence]
Kitty: Yuubes, you knew, you knew we were coming to a party!
Yubi: I know, I know, I should have prepared names, I’m an idiot, I did totally forget.
ed: It’s Roxas Joxas, protagonist of Kingdom Sharts.
Yubi as the tiefling: Oh, I’m, uh… Joxas?
ed: I hate you.
ed as Taro: Hi… Joxas. Well, I can’t say I know the name, the family name – I do presume that is the family name.
Yubi as Joxas: Ah, no. The family name is… Joxas…?
Yubi as Joxas: …Troxas.
[A beat of silence, someone clapping]
ed as Taro: So, what you’re telling me is that your name is Joxas Joxas Roxas?
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: [Chuckling] No no, no no, sorry, Joxas Joxas Troxas.
ed as Taro: Joxas Joxas Troxas…?
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: That’s it.
Gary, high pitched: What the fuck are we doing??
Kitty: I was going to say, is this Dungeons and Dragons or Trolls now?
Gary: Are we sure this is a podcast?
ed, deadpan: This is Dragon Ball… Welcome to Dragon Ball Z, two. Three. GTE, the reboot, coming soon.
ed as Taro: So, Roxas Joxas Troxas-
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: No no, there’s no “Roxas,” that’s my brother.
ed as Taro: Oh…
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Can I help-? Who are-? I haven’t heard of you. Are you meant to be here? Should I tell Pallen? Does he know you?
ed as Taro: Have you met Pallen?
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Yes?
ed as Taro: My father asked him a favour, that I might come here and visit. So, yes, he does know me. He’s slightly more aware- he knows a bit more about the world than you apparently do.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Well. He is older than me. Maybe.
ed as Taro: That he is. Now, what do you do? How exactly do you afford to live?
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Oh, well, my dad is one of the main architects. He designed the town hall.
ed as Taro: Oh, interesting, that’s an interesting building.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Oh, do you like it?
ed as Taro: Yes, I was in it earlier.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Oh. It’s kind of closed off for the carnival at the minute. Maybe you… got a tour?
ed as Taro: I go where I choose. It’s the burden of privilege.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Well I do hear you on that, I do get invited into a lot of places just because people know my dad. It kind of sucks.
ed as Taro: It does, yes.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: You know, sometimes you just want to get real with people, but they always know who your dad is…
ed as Taro: Yes, yes, I do know that. In fact, I’m only here because my father’s tired of my bachelor lifestyle and he wants me to settle down.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas, incredulously: In Grendelford?
ed as Taro: Well no, no, he’s sending me to all these parties throughout the country. I think he wishes for me to find a mate and settle down.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: [Audibly cringes] That’s an odd way- did he say that to you?
ed as Taro: He did. He is a very strange man. I think it’s living in a manor for the past forty years without really leaving, he’s sort of slightly out of touch.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Yeah, that made me kind of uncomfortable when you said that, that was a bad word.
ed as Taro: Yeah, I won’t quote him so directly next time, I think. Yes.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Well, maybe that’s the way- you’ll probably get better luck if you also don’t just stare at people across the room for a long time. It’s kind of unsettling.
ed as Taro: I’ll be honest with you, I was just looking in that direction and I zoned out.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Oh. Well now I feel really embarrassed.
ed as Taro: Yeah… I didn’t want to… You know… But I suppose I have now. Well…
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Generally, my social interactions go better than this. I feel like maybe we got off to a bad start here.
ed as Taro: Yes, I believe so-
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: I’m Joxas Joxas Troxas. What’s your name?
[Gary laughing, ed sighing]
ed as Taro: I’m Talisar, but most people call me Taro.
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Taro, it’s, uh – I think it’s nice to meet you?
ed as Taro, quickly: Do people mostly call you Joxas… Joxas… Your name? In full?
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Mostly just Jock.
ed as Taro: Okay, Jock. That’s more manageable.
Kitty: You really might need to- one day you can meet his sister, Coxas.
ed: [Sighs] Thank you for that one. Thank you for very much lowering the tone.
Yubi: We were having a really sensible proper D&D conversation!
Kitty: Sorry, were you?
Yubi: I thought so, I was in the zone. The Joxas zone.
ed: The Jock zone.
Gary: Is he a rower? Is he a part of the Coxas Four?
Yubi: Oh no. Oh my God. He’s got a brand of apples.
He holds out his hand to you to shake… [Laughs] That was such a British joke.
ed, sighing: I shake Jock’s hand.
[~30 minutes in]
Yubi: Okay. Natalia, you can see, as you look around the room, that Taro’s shaking the hand of another tiefling, and seems to have made a friend. What are you doing?
[Drums start up below the dialogue, to signal the intermission music with a simple techno-flute-y tune]
Gary: I’m going to go over to the main man, Elden.
ed: Your main guy! Your boy, Elden!
Gary: The boy.
[Music continues by itself for about twenty seconds]
Yubi: Hi everyone, it’s Yubi, your DM, here again in the intermission, just to say hello! And a couple of other things. I’m doing a little bit better, so hopefully my voice won’t sound quite so wrecked.
I want to start this out by thanking people for their support. I want to give two little shout-outs, to Michelle – who has appeared in this episode, who very kindly signed up to our mailing list – and of course, once again, to J. Zugai. Again, we’re so sorry that we keep laughing at “Zugai,” and also that I made you not a very nice dude in the show. I’m sure in in real life you’re very, very good. I really hope that you’re chill with this. If you’re not, I’m really sorry… You can always email us…? And if you also want to be mocked relentlessly, apparently, on our show, then please feel free to sign up to our mailing list, which is still available and on our website, themortalpath.com.
We also want to give a massive shout-out to people on Tumblr. We’ve had this amazing influx of fanart and mood-boards and people who’ve been making posts… And just all sorts of amazing things have been happening over there. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and your support! We are just so grateful.
And on that note, I do want to remind you guys of our giveaway. The wonderful @SettlingGeek on Twitter – @SettlingGeek is all one word, s-e-t-t-l-i-n-g-g-e-e-k – has donated an amazing set of dice for us. The competition rules are to create a piece of media, anything you like. It can be a picture, a photo, an interpretive dance, a poem, a drawing, a story, anything. Post it onto the social media of your choice, make sure you tag us on it, so we can see it, make sure we interact with it – if you haven’t seen any of the main accounts giving it a like or a reblog or a retweet, make sure that you email it to us or you tag us again so that we definitely see it. Also please let us know that the piece that you’ve made is for the competition. The deadline is the twenty eighth. Of course, please be willing to allow us to send you something in the post – make sure you have parental permission to give out your address if you need it, although this podcast is rated E so… Naughty.
Speaking of this podcast, it’s getting weirder! It’s getting weirder, and you will definitely hear it being pretty weird by the end of this episode. It’s getting a bit spoopy as well, in some places, so fair warning. This is a podcast that definitely has comedic moments, but also has slightly more… You know, like, dark-ish kind of areas. I’m really excited for it. I’m definitely not holding these guys’ hands from here on out, so it’s going to get really interesting. We really hope you like it, and we really hope that you stick with us as it gets weird and a bit spoopy
[~35 minutes in]
If you do like our show, you can always leave us a review on iTunes. We are so grateful to the people who take the time. It doesn’t take very long, we know it’s a bit of a hassle, but it really helps us out so much. iTunes is such a big distributer for podcasts, and having people give us reviews on there just- it helps so much. We’d really appreciate if you could take the time to do it.
Of course, we also totally appreciate any shout out that you can give us on any social media – anything in which you talk about us, tag us, hashtag us… It really helps, as we can genuinely see spikes in numbers after somebody’s talked about us. Speaking of numbers: We have hit over one thousand five hundred downloads, which is amazing for a podcast that is now entering its third week. So, thank you so, so much! Another huge shout-out to CupofD20s who wrote this amazing review about us – thank you so much for that – and to the Goblin Gazette, who interviewed us. To the both of you – thank you so much! We really appreciate it, and we’re so glad that you’re enjoying the show.
The schedule for our next episode – we’re obviously doing one today – and then the next one is going to be February the fourteenth. It’s our Valentine’s Day present to you! The reason for that is we’re moving to an episode every two weeks. So, every two weeks on Wednesday – the fourteenth, the twenty eighth, etcetera, etcetera. The reason for this is that I do all of the editing, I make most of the music, except for the theme song of course, and I also work forty hours a week and I do another podcast and I just need time to be able to keep the quality up to scratch. So, it’s going to be every two weeks from episode six. We really hope that you can wait the week between episodes. Give us a re-listen, maybe, and maybe have a listening party with your friends!
I do want to say thank you again to Rachel Graff – rachelgraff.com – who wrote our amazing theme, and also to Dice Bard, who donated the first set of dice for our giveaway. Thank you so much for your support, we really appreciate it.
I’m going to let you guys get back to the show. I hope that you enjoy the weird stuff that’s coming up. [The drums start up under Yubi’s voice again to signal us coming back to the story] Also, sorry that we were so weirdly horny for this episode.
[Music plays uninterrupted for about twenty seconds]
Gary as Natalia: Hello. Do you mind if I sit here?
Yubi as Elden Zugai, with a slightly forceful deep voice: I don’t mind… If you must.
Gary as Natalia: Oh, I see. I must say, I’m rather new here. Everyone seems to be branched off into their own little groups. Who are you?
Yubi as Elden Zugai: You haven’t heard of me? Well.
Gary as Natalia: As I say, I’m very new here.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I find gossip travels quickly in small towns like this, but I suppose if you’re new here perhaps you haven’t heard. I am Elden Zugai.
Gary as Natalia: Elden Zugai?
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Yes. And you are?
Gary as Natalia: Natalia. Nice to meet you.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I haven’t heard of you.
Gary as Natalia: No, probably not. I come from a land far away. Where do you hail from?
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Bereland, actually. I am a head advisor to King Thendal himself – perhaps you’ve heard of him.
Gary as Natalia: Oh, of course I have.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: And where are you from, then?
Gary as Natalia: Cindarion.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Oh, not so far.
Gary as Natalia: No, not at all.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: You’ve come a long way to this charming pala-… place.
Gary as Natalia: It is- It has its quirks.
Yubi: Kitty, don’t! I made a mistake with my mouth!
ed: Sorry, what was that word? You’ve “made a mistake with your mouth,” is that what you said? Is that what I just heard?
Gary: Title of your tape…?
ed: No. Just…
Kitty: Title of your podcast.
ed: Title of your podcast- that is a good podcast title! You’re right! Why did we call it this shit?
Yubi: I’m trying to get in character here, you guys are throwing me out of my own zone!
Kitty: You were doing so well, you guys. Nobody giggled at the table or anything.
ed: Thrown straight out of the Jock zone.
Yubi: Now I’m in the Zugai zone.
ed: I’m good. I’m good.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I find it rather dull.
Gary as Natalia: Are you here on some mission from King Thendal?
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Not quite. I have been allowed my own freedoms to seek wealth for the kingdom, and to make new business opportunities where they may arise.
Gary as Natalia: That sounds very exciting. Very promising.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: It’s all work, isn’t it? But one does what one must in order to please the King.
ed: Don’t make that face!
Kitty: I mean…
Gary: I wasn’t even thinking that until you did that!
[Yubi and Gary giggling]
[~40 minutes in]
Gary as Natalia: How do you… [breaks off into giggling]
Kitty: “How do you please the King?”
ed: That joke fucking sucks.
Gary as Natalia: How do you usually… please the King?
Kitty: No… God, no.
[Yubi clearing their throat]
ed: This podcast is cancelled because none of us can collectively keep it in our collective fucking pants.
Yubi: He gives you a little look, and as he reaches with his glass – he takes a sip – and you can see that he’s wearing some pretty fine jewelry. He’s got a very nice silver bracelet, but what catches your attention is a ring he’s wearing. It’s some sort of dark green stone embedded in a silver base, but the stone is slightly cracked. He looks over to you, and he gives you a slow look. He says,
Yubi as Elden Zugai: King Thendal has recently seen me for my worth and has given me the promotion I so desire. But King Thendal only keeps the best around him, so it’s only natural that I should be there. And yet I must continue to prove myself, as we all must in this world. I didn’t quite catch what you were doing here.
Gary as Natalia: I’m just visiting.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: You must have friends in high places to get an invite here. You’re not with the carnival, are you?
Gary as Natalia: Oh, no.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Well, thank God for that. Dreadful bunch.
Gary as Natalia: Why do you say that?
Yubi as Elden Zugai: [Scoffs] Carnival-goers, they’re all troublemakers. They leave a great big mess and cause all sorts of disruptions. If I had any say in it, I would ban the whole thing altogether. There’s no need for it – it’s a waste.
Gary as Natalia: I quite agree. It seems rather tacky to me.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Exactly. Places like this don’t have class, but, well, perhaps under my influence they will grow to see what is worth keeping and what is worth getting rid of.
Gary as Natalia: So, do you plan on setting down roots here?
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I already own land. I have a manor, and servants of course.
Gary as Natalia: Naturally.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Of course. I suppose I own the diamond mine. I suppose roots have been planted. Whether or not I’ll stay very long remains to be seen.
Gary as Natalia: Are you just here to generate wealth for your king? Or do you harken to-
Gary, softly, interrupting himself: The fuck-?
ed: Just straight out say it. “Do you harken?” “Do you harken often?”
Gary as Natalia: Or will you soon be recalled to your king’s side to advise on some matter of the realm?
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Oh, he has ways of contacting me should he need my advice, and I of course have ways of contacting him should I feel he needs mine. No, I suppose I’ll stay here until my work is done.
Yubi: Roll me a perception check, if you wouldn’t mind.
Gary: That’s an eight.
Yubi: As you’re speaking to him, there’s a sort of tingle in your right hand. You’re not sure what it is or why, but there’s the briefest little… Almost like when you have pins and needles in the very tips of your fingertips. He looks over to you and he says,
Yubi as Elden Zugai: And what about you? Are you staying in Grendelford long?
Gary as Natalia: I don’t think so. Just passing through.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Quite wise.
Yubi: Nerium. You put aside Taro’s bag, thoroughly searched. You’ve got every nook and cranny, you’ve got your-
Kitty: I mean, not that thoroughly, no.
Yubi: Well, okay-
ed: I don’t know man, you went pretty deep.
Yubi: Yeah, there’s a whiff- oh no. Oh boy. There’s a whiff to it.
ed: You blew his harmonica; you went deep.
Yubi: That’s true, you did.
Kitty: I don’t want to be reminded of that. Now, whilst I am looking through these bags, I am of course listening out for footsteps. Should I hear footsteps at any point of some member of the household staff going past, can you let me know if that happens?
Yubi: Absolutely. What is your passive perception?
Kitty: It is fifteen.
Yubi, impressed: Fifteen! That’s very good, actually! Okay, very good to know, thank you. So you put aside Taro’s bag. You can hear footsteps above you, behind you… This is clearly a town hall where there are still people. Occasionally, there’s voices and laughter that you think are probably the carnival lot going one way or the other, but nobody seems to be really coming near this room. So, you have Natalia’s bag. Are you going through that one too?
Kitty: Oh, yeah.
[~45 minutes in]
Yubi: The first load of items in Natalia’s bag are Natalia’s clothing, of course, the ones that she’s taken off to change into her fancy frock. There’s also two books and a whole lot of adventuring items – things that you have seen sold in the higher ends of Hopewell, things that appeal to the young with money to spend who basically want to go glorified camping for a while. There’s a rolled-up tent, there’s pitons, there’s dry rations… Everything that looks like you could get up and go and be able to survive.
Yubi: But the two books are what capture your attention. One of them is a dark leather book where the title and the spine have been worn away – it’s actually really difficult to read what they say – and it’s only upon actually opening it that you realize that this is a book about magic. It is a book that describes the different types of magic wielder that there are in the world. It’s clearly a very old book, it is dated. There are stories in it that you have heard of. You’ve heard of certain wizards, or certain people who could use their voices and songs to create magical effects. There’s a couple of legendary people in here, but it doesn’t seem to mention any of the newer people that you know of living in some of the bigger cities, or the rumours that you’ve heard coming through Hopewell of new inventions where technology and magic are starting to meet in other places. There doesn’t seem to be mentions of that.
The front half of the book – two thirds of it – are relatively un-thumbed. They’ve clearly been read, but they’re not deeply read. It’s at the back of the book where the pages are wavy and crumpled, there’s smudged finger marks and some of the pages are a little bit bent. The very, very last entry in this book is “warlocks,” and this is the most-thumbed passage in the book. It’s also the shortest – there seems to be the least information on it. There doesn’t seem to be any particular person associated with “warlocks,” there’s warning tales, more like. It’s all about making a pact with an unknown for magic who will ask for a price in return. Is there anything else in that book, Natalia, that you would like to add?
Gary: I think it probably mentions something about how, when a pact is entered into, there might be some physical alterations.
ed: I hope you viewers at home were listening in for that one! Wink!
Yubi: Wink! After looking through that one and putting it aside, you turn to the other one. This one’s much plainer, and it’s also much newer-
Kitty: Actually, before I put that aside, I’m going to flick through it, because it considers all the forms of magic users. I’m going to flick through it, and I’m going to go,
Kitty as Nerium: Wow, warlock sounds like a very bad idea. [Yubi and Gary chuckling] I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, so never mind that one about singing.
Kitty: And I keep flicking through, because I’m really interested in those goat-ponies. I’m probably going to stop somewhere around about “wizard” and go,
Kitty as Nerium: Oh, okay, well, I’d probably have to learn to read a bit better, but that’s a possibility. I’ll bear that in mind for the future.
Yubi: Yeah, there’s a couple. There’s one type of magic user who commune with nature, who draw magic from the very earth itself to do wondrous things. There are those who get magic from their Gods, who find faith and seem to be blessed with divine powers. There are those who are born with a spark of magic on their blood that flares into life at some point – and again, those ones tend to come with warnings. Ones like “sorcerer,” they’re called, and “warlock,” those are the ones in this book that have the warning labels attached.
Gary: “Watch out in case you get born with this blood. That’s something to avoid.”
Kitty: Wow! Yeah, no, that’s awkward. You have to avoid that.
Yubi: There are also wizards, who read between the lines of reality to learn this magic on their own behalf.
Kitty: I’m not much of a reader, I’ve got to admit, but it’s a vague interest. I want to go on to the next book.
Yubi: The next book you pick up is much plainer, it’s smaller, and it’s more crumpled even than that one. That one looks like someone has read it a lot, but they love it. This one is much more tucked away, and upon flicking it open it becomes immediately obvious that that is Natalia’s diary.
Kitty: I start at the most recent entry and start reading backwards.
Gary: So, the last entry reads,
Gary as Natalia: What just happened? I don’t know if this is the best thing, or I’m fucked.
ed: The title of, um…
ed: [Despondent sigh]
Gary: A few more entries back,
Gary as Natalia: I’m getting by now. I have some qualms, but surely this is justifiable.
Kitty: Oh, interesting.
Gary: And a little bit further back,
Gary as Natalia: Holy shit. Holy shit. I’ve been giddy since it happened. I can’t believe I fell asleep and only just woke up in time. And that man. I’ll pay him back. I know where he lives.
Kitty, excited: Oh, very interesting, very interesting! Keep going. Do I need to roll to make sure nobody’s coming back?
Yubi: No, your passive perception – you’re still listening out but there’s no one there at the moment.
[~50 minutes in]
Gary as Natalia: There’s opportunity on the road. I hate that I’m doing this, but I must, to survive.
Kitty: I would like to pause for a moment, roll my eyes, and go,
Kitty as Nerium: Who writes a diary that cryptic? [All laughing]
Kitty: And then I would like to carry on reading.
Gary as Natalia: I’m getting desperate. The money is almost gone. So much for a plot of land. Here, everything is so expensive. No one needs work, the Kranks have seen to that. It’s overcrowded.
Kitty: And “Kranks” is capitalized, as if it’s a family name?
Gary: As if it’s a proper noun.
Gary as Natalia: It’s overcrowded. People are even starting to live in the second layer. My hosts won’t suffer me for long with no payment. I need something soon.
Kitty: [Blowing noise, like sucking through her teeth] Cool. Back a bit?
Gary: The very first entry,
Gary as Natalia: I’m exhausted and frustrated. The guard said “no.” I’ll need to find a different way. I’m so disappointed. I almost wish I hadn’t run. Almost. I’ll find some way to change things. I’ll make it here, I swear.
ed: That whole thing is the title.
Yubi, laughing: Just stop it. Stop it.
ed: It’s a light novel title.
Kitty, singing: Woah-oh, livin’ on a prayer.
ed: I’m liking this Wiki-leak shit.
Yubi: Yeah, it’s very good.
Kitty: It’s very interesting. Nerium is very interested in the fact that the very first entry says, “I almost wish I hadn’t run.” Because she knows that Nat has some dead people in her background, and now she knows that Nat is on the run, so that’s interesting.
Yubi: Okay. So, you spend the time reading through Natalia’s diary. It is written pretty cryptically, and that does actually stand out to you, that it is written in a way that almost seems deliberately difficult to get names and information from. It seems to be quite carefully written like that.
Kitty: But then I would notice that, actually, she’s a bit like that in conversation as well.
Yubi: Yeah, to be fair. It’s a good reflection.
Yubi: Taro. You are standing with Joxas Joxas Troxas.
ed: Joxas Joxas… Yeah, okay, whatever. Jock.
Yubi: It was your fucking joke, mate.
ed: It wasn’t a joke, I was just saying things with my mouth, as usual, and I got myself in a pickle.
Kitty: “I made a mistake with my mouth.”
ed: I made a mistake with my mouth.
Yubi: You made a mouth mistake, and now we’re here with Joxas Joxas Troxas.
ed: So we are! Continue the plot, please.
Yubi: What are you doing? He’s just chatting to you now.
ed: I’m going to keep an eye out to see if Nat’s still talking to Big Boy Mc… Man.
Yubi: Yeah, Nat is indeed sitting next to Elden Zugai, and they do seem to be having a conversation. He’s not, like, turned towards her, deep in this conversation – he’s still sitting pretty dead on – but he is occasionally looking over to her. He is clearly responding to her, but he doesn’t seem to be as into the conversation as Joxas is apparently into talking to you.
ed: Okay. I’m happy to chat shit and just keep an eye on how things are going over there.
Yubi: You keep talking away to Jock, who seems to be a relatively amicable, if kind of looking for something a bit more rebellious, type of person. You can see, after about ten to fifteen minutes of conversation, that there is another tiefling at the back of the room who looks like him but older, who is definitely now starting to glance over back towards you two.
Yubi: Natalia. What are you doing?
Gary as Natalia: So, what happens at these parties? As the night goes on?
Kitty: Car keys in a bowl?
ed: Eww! Mu-um! [All laughing louder]
Kitty: I’m sorry! That was cruel and entirely called for.
Yubi: At that, he definitely glances over to you. There is a moment where he absolutely for a minute takes in how you look. And then he very slowly turns his head back to looking over the party, and he goes,
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I wouldn’t know, this is my first time attending this ball.
Gary as Natalia: So, you’re a first-?
Gary: No, I’m not even going to-
ed, sighing: Come on Gary, pop his cherry.
Yubi, laughing: God!
ed: Can I just say that I really hate doing this podcast, and I just generally hate hanging out with all of you?
Yubi: If you guys weren’t all such randy buggers, we’d be fine! It’s all of you!
Kitty: I am so sorry! It’s turned into a… Yeah.
Gary as Natalia: I think I’m going to get another drink, if you’ll excuse me.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Of course.
Gary: I wander over to the bar.
Yubi: Have you drank any of your wine yet?
Gary: I’ve been sipping it.
Yubi: Okay, you go over to the bar, and it’s still stocked with drinks.
Kitty: Is your lipstick all over the glass?
Gary, sobbing a little: I don’t know what to do here!
[~55 minutes in]
ed: I’m looking for an opportunity to sidle over there, in a way that it doesn’t look like I just waited for somebody to leave so I could go chat with him.
Yubi: You wait maybe two or three minutes. Joxas seems to catch sight of someone else, and goes,
Yubi as Joxas Joxas Troxas: Oh! Sorry, excuse me a minute, I’ll be back.
Yubi: And he sort of trots off into the other part of the room.
ed: Okay. I want to walk behind him and lean over to one side, over the back of the chair next to him or something, and go,
ed as Taro, still in the deep pompous voice from earlier: So. Are the rumours true?
[Gary wheezing, someone clapping]
Yubi: Oh, okay! … He freezes in place. He very slowly turns his head to look at you, and he goes,
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
ed as Taro: A commoner raises up to the hand of the king, and then is mysteriously sent over to some nothing town? Hmm. Seems a little bit strange to me, don’t you think?
Yubi: He stands up and turns, and he grabs your elbow. And as he does so, you can feel this little static, this little twinge, this shock that you’ve felt a couple of times now with Natalia when there seems to be something magical happening around you. His grip tightens, and he goes,
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I think we’d perhaps better talk somewhere else. Won’t you come with me?
ed: I come with him.
Yubi: He leads you out to the balcony, which is relatively free of people, and over to a corner of it, still keeping a tight grip on your elbow. As you get there, he leans in a bit and goes,
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Who sent you?
ed as Taro: Let’s just say, I’ve heard some stories, and I feel maybe we have something to offer each other.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: And what would that be?
ed as Taro: Let me see… I’ve met men like you before. You can gain anything you want, but what you can’t get is status. Not true, aristocratic status.
Yubi as Elden Zugai, aggressively: I have status.
ed as Taro, disbelieving: Oh, do you. I’ve heard of you.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Who are you?
ed as Taro: Hah, me? Let’s just say I am a Count.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: From where? From Berriland?
ed as Taro: From a little further afield.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Cindarion?
Ed as Taro: I’m of… The Nebelheim.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I’ve not heard of you.
ed as Taro: I’ve heard of you, Mr Zugai.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: And what is it that you- what do you know? What have you heard? Tell me. I’ll pay you for the information.
ed as Taro: The word in various courts around the land seems to be that you’ve come into some kind of power.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: Who has been whispering that?
ed as Taro: I couldn’t possibly give up my sources to someone common-born.
Yubi: He pushes you a little bit against the balcony, and he says:
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I think you had better.
Gary: Can I just say: Natalia’s keeping an eye on this. She’s a distance way, just watching.
Yubi: You know Taro well enough at this point to see that he is being semi-held in place, but to the normal eye it just looks like they’re having a conversation on the balcony.
ed as Taro: If you’d like to hear who’s been spreading these rumours, perhaps you might offer me a bit of information first.
Yubi as Elden Zugai: And what is that?
ed as Taro: I’d like to know more about how someone like you suddenly finds a diamond mine out here.
Yubi: He looks down at his hand, and you notice now that he has this ring with a dark green cracked stone embedded in silver. He looks back up at you, and he says,
Yubi as Elden Zugai: We do not all get born with gifts, but some of us come across them in our lifetimes. I have my ways. The diamond mine is real, I have proven that.
ed as Taro: Interesting. Let’s say that I might know of a family looking for somebody to marry in.
Yubi: He pulls back a little bit, and he goes,
Yubi as Elden Zugai, clearly thrown off: I am far past any of- What are you talking about?
ed as Taro: Yes, well, I suppose if you did want to live out the rest of your days as “Mr Zugai,” that would be just fine, wouldn’t it? Unless you would rather become, say, a duke…?
Yubi as Elden Zugai: I… I am already head advisor to King Thendal, I have no need of more position or power.
ed as Taro: If that’s the highest you’ll aspire to…
Yubi as Elden Zugai: [scoffs] I have many more aspirations than a simple advisor.
ed as Taro: If you’d like to tell me more, and perhaps share some of your good fortune, I’ll be around.
ed: And then I’m going to try and walk off.
Yubi: He lets you walk off, and he takes a half-step back and he’s a little bit shaken. He’s clearly a little bit shaken. He’s looking more animated now than he’s looked for the whole party. And as you walk off…
[~1 hour. Deep, slow synth music starts, replacing the party music]
Yubi: Nerium. You hear footsteps outside the door. You hear slow, stumbling footsteps. And you hear something that sounds like someone kind of… sobbing. It’s a rough little [makes soft, irregular gasping sounds] noise.
Kitty: Have I put everything away back into their bags at this point?
Yubi: You tell me. I think probably.
Kitty: I would like to have. I mean, that’s the first thing I do. I want to make absolutely certain no one can tell that I’ve been in them.
Yubi: You do that.
Kitty: Okay. If I can still hear the sobbing after I’ve done that, I would like to crack the door open just a fraction and see if I can see who that is.
Yubi: You crack the door open, and you peer out. The hallway is dark, darker than you remember it being – it looks like a couple of the lanterns on the walls have gone out. There’s a mix of lit candles to give it an atmospheric glow inside and there’s also the strung lights that are commonplace in big towns but a couple of the bulbs are sort of flickering toward the end. And there is a halfling woman in the hallway, with short, dirty-blonde hair, and vaguely ragged clothing. And she’s standing at a bit of an odd angle.
Kitty: Am I looking through a door to outside, or within to the town hall?
Yubi: Within the town hall, in the corridor.
Kitty: She’s in the corridor?
Yubi: Yeah. She’s in the corridor, right beside your door. She’s maybe fifteen feet from you, with her back to you. As you creak open that door, she slowly turns. And as she turns to you, you recognize her, because she is a servant of Lord Falutin’s… Who was fired decades ago. Decades and decades and decades ago. As you look at her and the shock catches up to you and flows through you… Her throat has been slit. And it is gaping open, but the wound is old and gnarled. And as she looks at you, there is a second where your eyes meet, and her mouth moves and there is a hiss of air, and she goes,
Yubi as the halfling woman, in a halting, choked voice: Ne… ri… um…
Yubi: And then she staggers, and she collapses, and as she hits the ground a thousand small dead animals explode out from where she was, and there is no trace of her left, just this pile of half-rotten bits and pieces of bats and frogs and toads and squirrels and mice and rats. And the smell that hits you is overwhelming and nauseating.
Yubi: Taro and Natalia, you two are at the ball. Pallen suddenly bangs this huge gong and he goes,
Yubi as Pallen: Ladies and gentlemen! If you would to the balcony, the Dance of the Icetooth Viper is about to begin – our show for the evening!
Yubi: The crowds begin to move out on the balcony, all chattering excitedly. There’s bits talking about how fantastic it was last year, how wonderful. Do you guys go along?
Gary and ed: Yes.
Yubi: [Laughing] Taro, you do a little U-ey to the other end of the balcony, I assume, you don’t just 180 pivot back to Zugai?
ed: No, that’d be dead-ass weird.
Yubi: Well, it’s Taro, so…
ed: “Hey buddy…”
Yubi: Okay, so, do you two end up standing together, or are you separated?
ed: I want to kind of stand sidled up to Natalia, but in a very non-obvious way. I just want to just sneakily conveniently be standing next to her.
Yubi: You guys stand there, and you look down into the courtyard. You can see now that the tarpaulin has been pulled back from whatever was on the ground, and there is this big mechanical-looking snake coiled up in the centre. But the courtyard is empty. Pallen looks around for a second, then he goes,
Yubi as Pallen: [Clears throat] The Dance of the Icetooth Viper!
Yubi: And chnnnng against the gong again. And nothing happens. All three of you make me constitution saving throws.
Kitty: [Wailing noises]
ed: Oh my gosh…
Kitty: Oh fuuuck!
ed: Um. Let’s just say I got a three, let’s go with that.
Yubi: Okay, three…
Kitty: Well, I got a four.
Yubi, laughing: Four…
Gary, smugly: Twenty.
Yubi: Nat twenty?
ed: Classical twenty.
Yubi: Classic twenty, alright. As you two look down at this courtyard, this empty courtyard, you realize that in the town which lies beyond it the lights are starting to zzznk, zzznk zzznk, zzznk in parts of the houses, and the streetlights are starting to flicker oddly. There is murmuring now happening on the balcony you’re standing on.
[~1 hour 5 minutes in. Music picks up with a deep horns and soft drums, tense and urgent beneath the dialogue]
Yubi: Suddenly the eyes on this mechanical snake shunk open and glow with bright yellow light.
Gary: I look over immediately towards Elden, to see what his reaction is.
Kitty: I doubt it makes much difference, but mine was actually a six.
Yubi: He doesn’t look particularly shocked – yet – but he is also looking around in vague confusion. This viper suddenly psshhhhh, and all this steam flies out from its nose and its mouth, and its head slowly rears. There is a smattering of clapping from people and nervous laughter. And then its head swings ‘round to the balcony and it opens its mouth, and there is this horrific sound of grinding cogs and gears and metal, and you can see that one of its teeth is metal, and the other one seems to be a shard of real tooth. Both of you who know what magic feels like, there is this awful, sickening khwhuhnk feeling that washes over you. It suddenly darts forward, and you two are both overwhelmed with horrific, crippling pain – it is like you are being pulled and stretched apart.
Yubi: Nerium, looking at this mound of dead things on the ground, you also feel this horrific, pulling, stretching pain throughout every inch of you. What do you guys do?
Kitty: I, through practice, stifled the scream that was about to come out of my mouth. I did duck back into the room and shut the door behind me almost as soon as the animal explosion happened, I may not have even seen they were animals. I ran to the packs and pulled out the biggest of the swords – I don’t know which one that is, I presume that’s Nat’s new one.
Yubi: It’s probably Nat’s new one, I think.
Kitty: And I back up against- are there windows in this room?
Yubi: No, there are no windows in this room, it’s an internal room.
Kitty: Okay- I back up into a corner behind a rail of clothes and I hold the sword out in front of me, full on Baggins style.
Yubi: Have you taken the packs with you?
Kitty: Nope [pops the ‘p’]. I grabbed the sword and I ran to the corner, and I’m wagging a sword like I know what to do with it, which I don’t.
Yubi: You are overwhelmed by this agonizing feeling. It was difficult to hold the sword anyway – it is nearly impossible to hold it now.
Yubi: Natalia and Taro, what are you doing? You are, again, overwhelmed with this crippling agony, this sickness.
ed: I think I just fall on the floor.
Yubi: Okay, Taro fucking collapses.
Gary: Is this – slightly meta-ing – is this what the constitution was for?
Yubi: You don’t know!
Gary: Has Natalia resisted it to an extent?
Yubi: No. You don’t feel any resistance to it. It is horrific.
Gary: She backs up a bit, away from the monster thing, and- does it lessen at all?
Yubi: It doesn’t lessen at all. But you look around, you can tell you seem to be holding it together better than Taro. Nobody else seems to be recoiling in pain. People are starting to scream, and people are starting to run away, but you can barely breathe your chest feels so tight.
Gary: Is Zugai?
Yubi: He is looking around in horror, and he is also running.
Gary: I whisper to Taro,
Gary as Natalia: I’m sorry. This might be our best chance.
Gary: And I run after Zugai.
Yubi: You make it about four or five steps before the pain gets so intense that your vision starts to white out. All three of you, your vision starts to white out. And this pain builds until this crescendo… pops.
[Music switches for low, ominous wind noises crashing quietly in the background]
Yubi: And all three of you are suddenly standing, blinking – well, Taro’s actually on the ground, so two of you are standing, Taro’s on the ground, and Nerium and Taro – you guys just barf.
Kitty: [Makes retching noises]
Yubi: But Natalia, you seem to keep it together, you do not quite lose the contents of your stomach like the halfling and the tiefling on either side of you. I would like one of you to roll me a D20, and you guys can decide who.
ed: Do you want to flip a coin for it?
Kitty: I mean, there’s three of us.
Gary: Oh yes, the old three-way coin.
ed: Oh, shut up. [Kitty starts laughing]
Gary: Let’s roll a D6 to find out who’s going to roll the D20.
ed: Okay, so I think Nat has the best… No, I’m not doing that. Nat’s on her feet, right?
Gary: Yeah, I’ll just fucking roll it.
[1 hour 10 minutes in]
Gary: Oh! That’s a gentleman’s sixteen.
Yubi: A gentleman’s sixteen.
ed: Always believe in Nat.
Yubi: As you guys blink the white spots and the remaining loosening pain away and try to come to your senses, the first thing that you notice is that it is hot. It’s like… sweat-already-starting-to-prickle-on-your-skin hot. And Taro, the ground that you are on… like, it’s hot. As you look around, everything is barren looking. There’s this massive, deep clay ochre, rocky, almost sandy landscape that stretches out in front of you. There is, in the sky, this burning pressure, and the sky is filled with these thick, dark clouds that seem swirl above you. Right in front of you is a wrought-iron pole that has flower-like petal pods drooping from the top. It’s rusted, it’s kind of icky, a bit gooey and ooey, and there are wires that go from the top that sink down into the ground.
[Lone violin starts up, signifying the ending theme starting up again]
Yubi: As you guys take a deep breath and look around, it suddenly crackles with static and a hiss. These old-timey speakers start to make a mmmyunng sound as they come into life. This voice, this tinny, weird voice echoes out, and it goes,
Yubi as the voice over the speaker, with an aloof accent: We are terribly sorry for the inconvenience. Things on our end are getting a little hard to control. We ask for your patience, and your forgiveness while we try to fix this… Goodbye.
Yubi: And the sound cuts out.
Gary: But- but what?
Kitty: Where are we now?
[The music starts in earnest with the familiar drumbeat of the theme song, fading into the lone violin that ends the episode]