Transcript:Into the Abyss

"The Gilded Graveyard"
"Into the Abyss"

Opening[edit source]

TALIESIN: An ancient threat stirs beyond the edge of what is known. Candela calls upon the Crimson Mirror to delve into long-buried machinations from Oldfaire's sordid past. A long-forgotten power, crawling towards its destined ascendancy. Our investigators must plunge into the void with only each other to light the way. As to what they will face beyond the darkness that lies beneath, not even Candela knows. We must hold our light to the darkness when there is nothing left but despair and all hope is lost. The Circle of the Crimson Mirror: Assignment #4822, Into The Abyss. ♪ (tense mysterious music) ♪ ♪ (tense mysterious music) ♪ ♪ (tense mysterious music) ♪ ♪ (tense mysterious music) ♪

TALIESIN: This episode of Candela Obscura is sponsored by our new partner, Aura, Intelligent Digital Safety for the Whole Family. In today's connected world, your digital security is more important than ever. That's where Aura comes in, the all-in-one platform designed to protect you and your family online. With Aura, you'll have access to powerful features, like identity theft protection, malware scanning, VPN services, and more. To learn more, please visit Additional information about Aura will be provided during the break.

TALIESIN: The "Candela Obscura Core Rulebook" has arrived and is ready for you to dive into. Visit to learn more.

Part I[edit source]

LIAM: As if through the thinnest membrane of flesh and blood, a sky burns in a deep and vibrant vermilion, sun hanging low, pregnant with its radiating heat over a city vast and proud, grand arches looming above its gleaming roads. An aging man with stretched, sallow skin stands atop a high peak, far above the walls of this mighty place. With a frenzied eye, he calls in a strange tongue, flecks of spittle flying from his mouth, a staff in one gaunt and jaundiced hand, and pointing towards the lands outside the city gates with the other. Legions of war gather in those hills, spear and blade at the ready. Thousands, hungry for destruction. The old man bellows. Your vision within this scarlet haze carries you up, up above this man, higher than the crow flies. You see the masses gathered like ants before you. So many, so insignificant. Your world is crimson. You dive from aloft and soar above these armies of men and women, opening to them and delivering their doom. Fearsome warriors choke and scrabble in the dust, eyes running with blood, hearts and lungs melting like rotten milk into the earth. Mere moments, a massacre of unthinkable scale, and yet, not sated. The city lies behind us. Those walls would crumble so easily. The mulling parasites within fall and fade. More. More! But an aging, matting voice echoes down from above, impossibly loud, sharp words, deep meaning, and the culling halts. The tethering of power we have never known. We that are misery, that know no fear, we are bound, smothered. The sky of blood turns to a numbing dark. Malcolm, you wake from a troubled night of sleep again, sitting up in a sweat in a darkened bedroom tucked in one of the endless corners of the Fourth Pharos. You sit on the edge of your bed, breathing fast, staring at your own troubled reflection in the dark glass of a mirror in the room. The details of your dream quickly fade from consciousness. In minutes, all that remains is a queasy foreboding in your gut. You have been increasingly on edge, Malcolm, in a way you're not accustomed to. Standing at the mirror, you can't help but notice that the whites of your eyes are looking a little bloodshot. Exhaustion. You're definitely feeling the weight of all this, Candela's business and your family's. Tell me, as you stare down at your own hands, one flesh and bone and the other mechanical, what is running through your mind?

IMARI: I haven't really had, ever since we entered, or were thrown, into the Fourth Pharos, I haven't rested at all. I wouldn't even call it rest. I would call it moments of, of blankness, questions. Is my family involved with what transpired at that auction? Why was my older brother there? What transpired with Edgar? Seeing Grimoria almost beaten down to death, barely escaping with our lives. Then all of a sudden, we have a secret sect that appeared. Who are they? What is their purpose? Could I have done more to protect the people in my care, which would be my teammates? Could we have done things differently? Because everyone's been affected by this. I don't see where this ends. It seems like the longer I am with Candela, the more questions I have, the more ingrained I feel I become with uncertainty.

LIAM: Your eyes burn a bit. You raise a hand, rub at them. This has been creeping up in the last few days. You chalk it up to exhaustion at first, but, it's hard to wonder if it's not more. Luckily for you all, you walked away with your lives. After handing over the chest, Candela has been able to verify that the remains of Atia Griffia in their entirety have been accounted for finally, and are now sealed away under the protections the Fourth Pharos provides. Your lives back in Newfaire, well, we'll come back to that. The first few days here were bad. Grimoria, your exposure and entwinement with the echoes of Atia Griffia left you bedridden your first few days here in the Fourth Pharos, giving you nothing but time to think, your mind awash in the ripples of all that you've survived. The masquerade, the church, the final moments of one of the most powerful alchemists in Oldfairean civilization, your mother's charred remains in the ruins of Westecklyn. In those first 48 hours of recovering, how do we find you, Grimoria?

AIMEE: Well, I think her conscious mind is looking for answers. Part of the reason Grimoria found herself wanting to be involved with Candela Obscura is because she didn't know what to do with the souls after she was done with them. What happened? What happens to them? She made-- She didn't make Atia a promise, but she said to her: I can help you. We can help you. You know, her remains are locked away, but did they really help her? Did they work to give her soul any rest or peace? She doesn't know. I think that causes a lot of distress because on the one hand, she's learned so much. She's had so many more experiences in the last few days than she's-- Actually, she's had a pretty eventful life, but she's learned a lot in the last few days, and yet not really anything towards her original goal of finding a way to give peace to these souls that she encounters. So I think that's what she's been grappling with in her waking mind. I think in her unconscious, in and out, drifting, has been having a lot of flashbacks to her origin story and also how she discovered her gift. I think that her new scar is manifesting in that way. It's not just voices anymore. Now she's having full flashbacks, things that maybe, little details she'd forgotten over time are now rushing back without any warning or ceremony. And it's all becoming untenable, too much.

LIAM: What a bizarre accident or twist of fate that the Foggs, who you've come to learn are at the bottom of the pecking order in the Red Hand, led you to your gift.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: Planting a ring on your finger. A farm girl.

AIMEE: Yeah. I think she has less answers than she started with, which is pretty tough. Maybe that's just part of growing up. But I think she knows, she really can't shake the feeling of fear that Atia must have felt, but also the directives that she got from her, which is, the player, I can't really remember your exact words, but I think it was something like destroy him or talking about-- I don't know if she was talking about the priest or a father or religion.

LIAM: That voice said to end his legacy.

AIMEE: End his legacy. Right. So she's like, who am I? How can I do that if I can't even, forget this soul, but any soul she encounters, she can't help them in any way. She just uses them. So I think she feels totally unmoored and less sure about her gift and her contribution than she did when she started.

LIAM: And yet not alone in those stretches of time by herself in this room in the Fourth Pharos. The whispering never ceases. At times, it's more pronounced than others. But all those souls, restless.

AIMEE: I think there's a fear growing in her. Maybe she's always had this fear, but it's a real fear that one day, whether through this work or even worse, through her performances or her Friday night shows that she puts on at the Foggs' house, she will encounter the soul of her mother or her father trapped somewhere. What will they think of her?

LIAM: It's easy to feel small in this very large world. Edgar. In these first days, your turmoil, bottled as best it can be, you've spent your time tending to your colleagues. Your waking hours are spent with Dr. Aguilar tending to Grimoria and Leo, conferring with Malcolm, and using what private moments you've allowed yourself to puzzle over an ID you've pulled from a wallet from the man you bricked in the Shriveline.


LIAM: As well as the magick channeling weapon you ripped from his hand. Eventually stuck, you shared the wallet with Zora, your Lightkeeper, in the hopes that Candela would see something that you could not. While you wait, tell me where your mind is in all this.

ALEXANDER: He is... stuck. He doesn't-- The last two times we've gone out has ended in (chuckles) him taking a life when he didn't mean to. And he's-- He's never, in the 18 years since his... (chuckles) his sister left, he's never heard that sound or seen that effect again. Then all of a sudden, it pops up while we're dealing with something entirely different and it's a weapon, or this is a weapon and harnessing something that happened 18 years ago. He doesn't know what to do with that information. And he had the person who might know in front of him and then killed him to save one of his colleagues. And he's trying to wrap his head around giving up everything he came here for to save someone's life who's not his family, who he's been looking for. That's tearing him up and he's not sleeping.

LIAM: Whatever it was that happened all those years ago in the park that took your sister from you made no sense, was random, like it fell from the sky.


LIAM: It rended your life to pieces. You've spent 18 years picking those pieces back up, assembling them into a new life at the hospital, helping as best you can. Now, all these years later, that same phenomenon somehow resurfaces and rips you open anew.

ALEXANDER: Yeah. (sniffs) Yeah.

LIAM: Leo Amicus, I fear you fared no better. A good bit worse. For those first few days, you were utterly unresponsive, lost somewhere in the corridors of your own mind, still reliving the nightmare you've tried to put behind you ever since The Dawn Society came to a close on that night of revelry, when a party game ended in tragedy, and the curiously exquisite clockwork contraption your sister bought you for your birthday from some quixotic curio dealer began to toll its broken melody in a sham of a seance, gripping the heart of every youth in that room with a terror that ended their lives, including your sister. As you slowly resurface from the fog here in the Pharos, what are those first conscious thoughts running through your mind?

TALIESIN: Has it all been a dream? Am I waking up for the first time? Am I still with my family? Am I not crumbling yet? Hmm, no. (sighs) It just isn't fair. Not just me, any of it, to anybody, it's just not fair. I can hear the sound so much. It's so much louder now, I can hear it over everything. I see it again, the machine, I see. I remember her face, I remember too much. (sighs) When did I start crumbling? When do you stop growing and start crumbling? I don't trust myself. It could be worse. I'm going to put that on my tombstone at this point.

LIAM: All of us in this life have so many desperate questions we ask. We're lucky if we find even a few answers. It doesn't seem fair often, but occasionally, there are. A few days later, you did know a little more than when you started here in the Pharos. Diving into Candela's files, Zora was able to ID our dead assailant. His wallet identified him as William Criswell, but Candela knows that to be a pseudonym linked to a man by the name of Duncan Webb. Webb served under Halen's special forces in the latter years of the war, and in recent years, has been linked to EONS, the Esoteric Order of New Sciences, which working for Candela, you know is an organization looking to implement alchemical phenomenon into daily life, business, and beyond. The other detail of note that's worth mentioning is one that, Malcolm, you yourself recognize, examining the weapon Webb carried, this glove. Aside from the two lines of alchemic sigilry running along the contours of this gauntlet, when you peel back a flat bit of metal paneling on the back of it, you find a line of extremely small print etched into that metal: The letters TR, followed by a familiar pattern of numbers.

IMARI: Mm. The brand of the Trills.

LIAM: You recognize it, a string of digits used as a numbering convention in your family's munitions factories.


LIAM: The effects on those killed in that church were unmistakably close to what killed your troop in Westecklyn. While maybe farther removed, it was also reminiscent of your sister's death all those years ago, Edgar, in the midst of a string of disappearances in Regent Park. The war ended three years ago, brought to a halt by an unparalleled phenomenon that destroyed the entirety of Westecklyn on the west side of Newfaire, where you lost your parents, where your unit was obliterated only months prior to the end of the war. But your sister was murdered by some version of this technology in 1889, five years before the conflict even began. The war machine was hard at work long before enemy troops set foot on Faireland soil. Three years after the war's close, it looks to still be going strong. Your lives back in Newfaire are upside down. Leo, at the very least, your father is pressing the family about you. Malcolm and Grimoria, you can only assume powerful people are actively looking for you now. Edgar might be the best off in this regard, but then again, who's to say someone from the hospital board wasn't in the crowd that night? You don't know. So, that is where we are as we wade back in tonight. On a brighter note, I think after last game, you four have persevered through enough adversity to have a little circle advancement. I would love to do a little game talk and know what small upgrade options you are choosing, what circle ability you are adding to your circle, deal with any scars that have been taken, and use the last, the last of your circle resources before moving forward into our third chapter.

AIMEE: Shall I begin, or should you begin?

ALEXANDER: I can go.

AIMEE: Yeah, go for it.

ALEXANDER: For my advancement, I've taken two additional points of drives and I have taken a-- ♪ Bah, bah, bah, bah ♪ What else did I do? I took a new gilded die, which is a gild in the Move category, gilded die in Move. As, I believe, for our thing we all took together, we took Stamina Training, so.

LIAM: Which gives the circle three gilded dice at the beginning of every assignment.


LIAM: They can just be pulled from, one at a time, as needed, for anyone.

ALEXANDER: I also took a Refresh and a Train.

LIAM: Okay. Okay, Grimoria?

AIMEE: For my advancements, I added two drive points in the Nerve and Intuition category, and I gilded my Move, just like you. (laughs) I also took the last Stitch of the group and a Refresh. As far as my scars, I think I mentioned that, but I've now suffered a another scar, a bleed scar, which is manifesting in the way of flashbacks of the death of her family. I think with that scar, I also have to move one of my action points?

LIAM: Yes, you pull it from one and give to another.

AIMEE: I pulled from my Read, I would imagine that that would be confusing, flashbacks and voices, and moved it to Strike, because maybe she's become a little violent because of it.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: Understandable. Grimoria is in the lead with scars now, with two scars.


LIAM: The only member with two scars.

IMARI: Yeah, she's so hardcore. (grunts)

AIMEE: She would get a tattoo if it wasn't nineteen-oh-whatever.

IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: Do it with a knife.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: All right, Malcolm.

IMARI: I chose to, willed myself two additional drive, one for Cunning and one on Nerve.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

IMARI: I also gave myself another action point for Read, because I figured we're going to be doing some investigation. Yep, that's what I chose to do for myself. I think that's going to be adequate.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: We hope.

AIMEE: (laughs) I hope.

LIAM: And Mr. Amicus.

TALIESIN: Well, for my upgrade, I suppose, I gave myself a action point in Move and I gilded it because I think I'm learning that running is a better option in general.

IMARI: (laughs)

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: I imagine I'm getting a little better at it. As for scars, I did take a scar last game, and it is my--

LIAM: You're tied then, because you started with a scar.

TALIESIN: We are tied. We're at two each.

AIMEE: Oh, right, right.

LIAM: I misspoke.

AIMEE: Yeah.

TALIESIN: The effect that long periods of silence had on me where I would start to hear the box again, now it doesn't really need the silence anymore and it has begun to manifest visually on occasion. Clearly, at the end of last game, it became very apparent the sort of things that can happen now, especially since I was not prepared for it. So I have lost a point of Read, because spotting lies is now a bit harder, and I've put it into Focus because I'm attempting to compensate by keeping track of my reality and attempting to maintain a sense of my surroundings and what is real and what is not. Yeah.

LIAM: Isn't it funny that someone who is struggling so can be so stabilizing to those around them?


AIMEE: Mm-hmm.

TALIESIN: Then taking a Refresh and a Train.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: Choo-choo.

TALIESIN: (laughs)

ALEXANDER: That's my joke.

IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: Well, before the choo-choo--


LIAM: -- leaves the station, I'd like to open this up a little bit and ask if there is anything that any of the four of you have been dying to do or discuss? Any threads you specifically want to pull?

IMARI: I think seeing my brother forced things back into perspective. Malcolm's always been-- Just to give some side story to our audience, my family was basically not very loving. I think I talked about that before. The men on this side tend to go into the military aspects of the family, as the women tend to take care of the business side of the family. So we're one of the oldest families in Newfaire, and we've been ingrained, I believe since the founding of it, so we've established ourself pretty significantly. The way that we deal with maintaining our power is kind of like a monarchy, where we marry other families of equal power or greater and we consolidate that, and we expand upon it. One of those is being ingrained with the Periphery, as well as the Primacy, my dad holding power in the parliament, as well as having some sort of associations with EONS as well. Maybe possibly selling weapons to them, possibly investigating, possibly advancing R&D. I have no idea, because I've been excommunicado from the family because I did not wish to follow along that path.

LIAM: Well, you have somewhat better of an idea.

IMARI: But I have a better idea now that I figured out that part of our equipment was within the Ascendancy. So now that's nagging at me, and my brother being there and absconding rather quickly before this went down is also on my head as well. He ran away pretty quickly from the party, or maybe he ran somewhere else, I have no idea, but I'm also thinking about that, too. I want to know what he has to do involved, but I'm more focused on what my father, because my father's been the one who's always pulled from the shadows, and what he's gotten my older brother involved into, or maybe, does he know? This is what's on my mind.

LIAM: Okay, well, the night at the masquerade, things did go very, very south, and the Red Hand is a lethal opponent, but we still have access to Leo's apartment via the Fourth Pharos. So would you seek out your father?

IMARI: (sighs) Just like Leo, I haven't thought about even glimpsing my father, because why battle with a hungry tiger when you know you're going to get eaten? Especially if you haven't seen him, or you left in disgrace. So I don't know if me appearing in front of him would be the easiest scenario, I don't know if I should ease into that, or if I should just investigate from the shadows. I know my sister and my mother, even though they'll never admit it, have a soft spot for me.

AIMEE: (chuckles)

IMARI: So I don't know if I would ever maybe try to go around their route, in a secret way, and try to contact them and ask for something. I haven't spoken to them for, I would say, two years, or even seen them in two years. The occasional notes have been passed over that time, but really, if anyone's seen with me in the family, it will be questioned and it will not be good for them, so.

LIAM: You tell me, because we'll go there if you want to.

IMARI: (sighs) I want to send a message to my sister. Actually, I want to send a message to my mother. I want to question-- I want to be very vague, and I want to establish a meeting place we could potentially-- where we could potentially meet.

LIAM: It's as easy as that. Using Leo's apartment as a staging ground, a letter is sent off to your mother, yes? And four days after arriving at the Fourth Pharos, and mind you, you are feeling a burning in your eyes, and now on the inside of your ear somewhat. Temper is just a little on the line in a way that you're not accustomed to. But so far so good. That note is sent out, and you agree to meet in a corner of Regent Park in 24 hours. We will move to Regent Park, where, as you wait on the agreed-upon park bench on the southeast corner, you see, for the first time in a great long while, your mother approaching from down the walk. She stops 200 feet away, looking at you from afar. You can see her catching her breath, and then picking up her pace again and walking your way. She sits down next to you and stares out at the green here in this area. "You look like you're not taking care of yourself."

IMARI: (laughs) Mm, Mother, of course the first thing you would notice would be my appearance. How are you?

LIAM: "Well, we're keeping on. Keeping the ship steered right."

IMARI: And how is Father?

LIAM: "Curious, as am I. Perhaps you'd like to explain the other night?"

IMARI: Before I explain that, Mother, I ran into Desmond, as you know. I'm pretty sure he's--

LIAM: "Oh, I'm well aware."

IMARI: Before I explain, what is our dealings with this auction? I know just you being here is a dangerous thing for you, so I appreciate you, and of course I don't need to express our need to keep this quiet, so to speak.

LIAM: "Your brother was making an investment that night, an investment that has gone up in smoke. I don't suppose you know anything about that, do you?"

IMARI: Well, all I know is that there was some sort of unexplained phenomenon that took place and a life was lost, and that I think it's a little bit more complicated than you're letting on an investment. I think multiple people might be interested in the family's investment. Something interesting did happen though. I did see battle, and I had a piece of equipment fall into my hands. Equipment that was manufactured from our R&D, our family R&D, from the source. Would you happen to have any insight into that?

LIAM: "Come back in, Malcolm."

IMARI: I can't come back in, Mother, come on.


LIAM: "Well, I am not going to talk to you about this unless you're--"

IMARI: Mother, I would disrupt the entire family if I came back in, you know that. Father would never allow it. Desmond would never allow it. Only Adonya and you have ever had my back, and if that, a minute fraction of what I need to survive in that family. No, no, no, no, no. No, I'm better by myself. I'm better alone. I'm better in the shadows. You know that.

LIAM: "If you don't come in, I cannot keep them off your back. And with the mess you are in right now-- Son, come back in."

IMARI: But, Mother, what will happen when I come back in? How can you guarantee my safety? Can you guarantee my safety if I come back in?

LIAM: "I can't guarantee it--"


LIAM: " -- unless you come back in."

IMARI: I need to stay in the shadows for a little bit, mother, now's not the time for that. I can't tell you exactly how I know, but this goes deep. In the phenomena that occurred, there's multiple fractions at play and I think you know that, and I think father knows that. Now, I don't know how he's involved, but I recognize the Ascendancy and I recognize the Hand. Now maybe, maybe I can do something where I could scratch your back and you can scratch mine. Is there any information that I can give you that you might need that you might not understand? Because I don't think Father knows the full picture. I don't think you know the full picture of what is transpiring here.

LIAM: She turns to you and puts a hand on your cheek. You feel a thumb stroking your cheek. "I am going to give you three days to think about this. I'm serious, you'll only be safe if you come back in. I don't need another word right now. Think about it, son, think. It would be good to have you at our side." She gives you a light pat on the cheek and she stands. "You know I'll always love you. Heartbreak aside, you've done our family so proud. Just wish you saw it."

IMARI: I can't be what you expect me to be, Mother. Which is a machine. I'm a human being. I'll protect other human beings. I'm not interested in your power. I'm not interested in your might and that will never change. No matter if I'm by your side or I'm in the shadows. I will always feel that way. I will never conform. You know this.

LIAM: She just stares back at you, nods her head, holds your gaze and you see her breath catch a little bit and she turns and begins to walk away, back down the way she came. Back in the Fourth Pharos. Anyone else have any business to see to?

ALEXANDER: I'd like to check on-- At some point during the time we're here, I'd like to have gone in after Leo's awake and coherent. I want to just be in check on his hand and go in and see him. How are you feeling?

TALIESIN: I think I'm feeling how you look.

AIMEE: (laughs)

ALEXANDER: Thanks, that sounds awful.

TALIESIN: It is. How are you feeling?

ALEXANDER: Well, both you and Grimoria are awake again, so that's good news. Malcolm is doing his hero work, and I guess we all have to figure out what our next step is. How is your hand feeling, or hands I should say?

TALIESIN: Well, they feel better than they look. Oh dear.

ALEXANDER: You definitely did a number on them.

TALIESIN: Yes, old ghosts. Very old ghosts. Did I ever tell you? I know I told you a little bit.


TALIESIN: That was the room where I nearly died and my-- I hesitate to even call it my carelessness. I don't know. I don't feel, well, uncertain, although I know I'm not responsible, but I don't know how not to feel responsible for watching people die in such a horrible manner. It doesn't go away.

ALEXANDER: No. That's where your... sister?

TALIESIN: My sister and others. I try not to think about it. Honestly, everyone there. It's fascinating. There were dozens of people at that party, quite a few. No one ever talks, not one. Not a single bloody person has ever actually told anybody what happened there.

ALEXANDER: This is why you don't exist in the same way you used to.

TALIESIN: Between embarrassing my family and also them blaming me for my sister's death, which I was perfectly capable of doing on my own. I didn't need their help for that.


TALIESIN: We're not a very forgiving family. I suppose money does things to people. I wouldn't know. I've never not had it. I'm lucky, normally they just bury their indiscretions, not divorce them. I've been watching you. I watch everybody, but I've been watching you.


TALIESIN: Thank you for saving everybody.

ALEXANDER: What else is a doctor for?

TALIESIN: Thank you for, I know it hurt you, and I know it hurts you what you've had to do. I know that face and you are a bad liar.

ALEXANDER: Yeah, I guess I am.

TALIESIN: I know it doesn't help, but I am grateful.

ALEXANDER: I appreciate the appreciation.

TALIESIN: Your sister, I know we've spoken a little bit about it, but much less than mine.

ALEXANDER: Yes, she's... that was her... I guess I'm going to take it as a way of saying goodbye. That thing, that item, the firearm I brought back. I don't know why or how, but it makes the same noise and causes the same effect as I heard the day she disappeared.

TALIESIN: And we find it--

ALEXANDER: On those people.

TALIESIN: In the place where everything happened to me?

ALEXANDER: These are-- When she left, I don't remember it happening, but I guess she tried to hold on and there's 15 of them in total. Here and here and here and all down. No one believes me or believed me. I woke up on the steps of my house and was taken to the hospital with all these burns. Coincidentally the same shape and size as my sister's hands. Everyone thought I was in shock. No one cared to come up with a rational explanation as to why I had a bunch of hand prints all over me. I tried to explain what I saw, no one believed me. And that was 18 years ago. But it put me here eventually, thanks to Decklan, who believed me for the first time. And now I just get to carry these around, and then I get to ruin the chance of me finding out who did it.

TALIESIN: Well, clearly you're mad. It's perfectly rational explanation, all of that.

ALEXANDER: (laughs) I guess so.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I woke up institutionalized.


TALIESIN: Told a couple people, immediately learned that was a terrible idea.


TALIESIN: Mm. You deserve answers. It's not fair.

ALEXANDER: No, it's not.

TALIESIN: It's good to say that out loud on occasion, I find, even if we know it.

ALEXANDER: Yes, I haven't-- I haven't talked about it in 18 years.


TALIESIN: Mm. It's been 23 years since mine. The only person I've ever actually told the whole story to is the young one, Grimoria. Wrong place, wrong time.


TALIESIN: She knows all of my secrets. She could get me in such trouble.

ALEXANDER: Well, I guess it's a good thing she keeps getting hurt the worst. If we lose her, then no one has your secrets.

TALIESIN: That's very fair, but, hmm. I will say to the race to the inevitable.

ALEXANDER: (laughs) See who gets there first.

LIAM: It's a cold comfort to you both, learning that you have walked side by side for months, over a year, and you are so similar. You share so much in common and never knew until this moment. Hello, Grimoria.

AIMEE: I think panic is rising in her as I sit in the room by myself and against better judgment, I scribble a note to the Foggs and I say, "Can I come home?"

LIAM: Do you give a return address?

AIMEE: I put the coffee shop downstairs.

LIAM: Got it. So that message gets sent out to the Foggs, and a day goes by and there's no response. On the second day, you visit Leo in The Endless Well down below, the coffee shop, and a message has been left for you. It simply says, "Where and when?"

AIMEE: From the Foggs?

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

AIMEE: I think I go upstairs to Leo. I don't understand the response and the only person I can really talk it out with, who knows my whole story is Leo, so I show it to you.

TALIESIN: Oh, dear. I don't think this was a wise move, dear.

AIMEE: I have nowhere else to go.

TALIESIN: Nonsense, absolute nonsense. You can stay here for as long as you like.

AIMEE: I have to make a living.

TALIESIN: Well-- Why don't we, and I'm well aware that every time this conversation happens, it never goes well. (sighs) Why don't we just take a breather, take a month, and find something else, find anything else. Those people are going to-- I find their message to you unsettling. I don't trust them. I trust them less now. They're not good people. You have so much time and so much potential than to (sighs) let it break on those rocks over and over again.

AIMEE: Yeah. It's difficult because... they're the only parents, for better or worse, that I've had in the last few years. And I feel like I owe them something. But I-- Maybe I don't. I do think it's clear I'm not welcome back. In the way that I'd like to be.


LIAM: You have a sudden flash of a memory from when you were eight, sitting out on the porch in the sun. Sitting in your mother's lap. Your father waving a toy in front of you, and you laughing and laughing and never feeling more safe than in that moment. Your father could make you laugh. It passes.

AIMEE: It's funny because when I lost my parents, I was forced to grow up, and now I feel like I'm not getting younger.

TALIESIN: Mm. I promise you that feeling will go away.

AIMEE: (chuckles)


AIMEE: Thank you for your hospitality and I promise I won't stay long.

TALIESIN: Stay literally as long as you like. And if you get... tempted to go back to those terrible, terrible people, as somebody who was raised by terrible, terrible people. I understand the... perverse need. You have something, though. You have real parents. Even if they're gone. You should (sighs) think about what they would want for you.

AIMEE: Oh. I think they wouldn't recognize me if they saw me.

TALIESIN: Well, that's what children do. I think they would be impressed, though.

AIMEE: Thank you.

TALIESIN: What was his name? Felipe?



TALIESIN: Look at that, it's good to be remembered.

AIMEE: (chuckles) Yeah.

TALIESIN: So, rest. I'll talk to Charley to make sure we pay attention to see if they come snooping around.

AIMEE: Thank you, and thank you for your patience.

TALIESIN: We've all been young. You are well ahead of the curve, believe me.

ALEXANDER: If I might knock to come in, from the Fourth Pharos.

TALIESIN: Oh, it's crazy. All right, I'm opening the-- I'm looking into the mirror, walking back and flinging it open with some drama.

ALEXANDER: Considering this is your home, I do like to knock before I enter.

TALIESIN: This is why I know it's crazy Uncle Edgar. Come on in.

ALEXANDER: You make it difficult to find you when I need to do your checkups.

AIMEE: Oh, sorry. I feel okay, physically.

ALEXANDER: I'm sure you do.

TALIESIN: She'll be staying here for the duration, so she'll be much easier to find.

ALEXANDER: How are you doing? How are you feeling? After waking up.


ALEXANDER: Now that you've had a little time to orient yourself.

AIMEE: Well, I physically fine.

ALEXANDER: Right. All the other things?

AIMEE: Well, not great, but I don't think any of us are doing that great.

LIAM: I think I would drop in here that Malcolm, you are returning from your visit with your mother in the park. Down the hall and are heard in here. Malcolm joins you here in Leo's apartment.

TALIESIN: Oh, I know that knock. That's a very heavy hand, excuse me.

IMARI: Gents and lady.

TALIESIN: Uncle Malcolm.

ALEXANDER: How is the espionage going?

IMARI: Oh well, you know. As swimmingly as possible. Grimoria. Edgar, did you make her cry?


ALEXANDER: Yeah, that's what I do.

TALIESIN: That was me.

LIAM: All of you, the three of you, can't help but note the bloodshot appearance of especially Malcolm's left eye. But both, really.

ALEXANDER: Now that I have you all here, may as well do all the checkups at once. How are you feeling?

IMARI: Well, I'm a little run-down, Edgar.



ALEXANDER: Um, any... new sensations, side effects, things with the eyes, or the breathing or the lungs? Or anything that could've been infused with said powder that was blown in your face?

IMARI: I swallowed that fucking powder.

TALIESIN: (chuckles)


IMARI: I just keep thinking about it. I have the worst pain in my left eye right now.


AIMEE: Do we have a sample of the powder?

ALEXANDER: If I remember correctly, you did have a bag of it.

TALIESIN: I may have gotten rid of that bag.

LIAM: I think it was handed over at the Fourth Pharos and it was examined, yes.


IMARI: I have a burning in my head. At first, I thought maybe I was coming down with something or maybe it was the seasons or what have you. But it's intensifying.

ALEXANDER: Well, you are in luck. I can't help you.


ALEXANDER: This is not the kind of doctor I am. But I'm sure someone in the Fourth Pharos can assist. I will do my best to help anyway I can.

IMARI: Sure.

ALEXANDER: But I have no idea what's going on with you. I have no idea what's going on with you. Or as much as I would like to. I have no idea what's going on with me or you. And now, what are we going to do? This is the bigger question.

TALIESIN: I'm deeply worried now: the doctor has gotten snarky. I'm going to go make some lunch for everybody, excuse me. Figure it out, you all.

IMARI: I could do for a glass of scarlet, that's for damn sure.

TALIESIN: Done and done.

ALEXANDER: That will help everything.

LIAM: After this string of difficult days, grappling with your situations and yourselves. You made me tear up, Taliesin Jaffe.

TALIESIN: Just so you know, I don't a role play for this, but I am just securing my ass. I talked to my solicitor. I'm making sure that I have extra layers of protection if my parents decide to get snippy. I'm moving everything deeper into a fucking web.

LIAM: Right. Shuffling things around?

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm. There we are.

LIAM: A moment does come where each of you in your reflection, are brought word that Zora wishes to gather. An older gentleman, Kahn, with a waxed and manicured beard finds each of you one by one within the Fourth Pharos. He's wearing a suit and a dark red fez on his head. He gathers you all and quietly leads you down hallways you're not certain that you have traveled here before. Until, that is, he takes a turn up an alcove set of stairs that deposits you, for the first time, in the seemingly endless vault of the Fourth Pharos. You gaze on rows and rows of cages. Stretching out before you like unending bookshelves in some impossible library. Endless aisles storing, as Kahn tells you, every dangerous phenomenon Candela has ever secured. For centuries. High above it all, a massive astrolabe. The devices that keep the Fourth Pharos safe and still within the Flare. A gigantic one gleams down over the entirety of this vault, spinning in a perpetual rotation that maintains everything you see before you. Leo, you hear the hum of it. Massive bands of metal spinning. Ticking away. Ceaselessly. Bigger than any clock you've ever seen. The guide says, "This way, please. Down this aisle." You begin to walk down one long path between rows and rows of cages. As you get between them, you see a gold to yellow shimmer on the bars. You pass by one cage, some of them have objects in them, but some have people. One has what looks like an overgrown tree inside of it with roots and branches wrapping around the bars of it and you see what looks like a man with the complexion the same texture and color as the wood. Melded into it. And you hear "(groaning creak)" as he turns and watches you pass. A little further down is a cage with glass lining the inside of it. Grimoria, when you get close, a little girl about 12 years old--

AIMEE: (startles)

LIAM: -- swims up to the glass.

IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: With her face pressed, she wears a dress, soggy wet. She spins around to put her back there, but another face appears and stares at you. And rolls and another, and rolls. Almost like when you go to the zoo and some of the sea life plays with the kids watching. She traces her way, or their way, along the glass until you walk on. You see a- not human- severed head resting on a pillow on a small wooden table at the center of one cage. Its eyes just follow you as you walk by. Eventually, he leads you down where you take a left, passing through multiple rows of these aisles. You pass through an archway on the outer edges of the vault and descend down a new set of stairs into a new hallway. Eventually, he points to a door in the distance which looks almost completely upside down to you. In this skewed twist that happens so often in the Fourth Pharos. But as you progress, the hallway seems to shift. Or maybe it's you that shifts in place. You find yourself standing outside of a single door with Kahn in his fez outstretching his hand.

ALEXANDER: I don't think I'm ever going to get used to the way this place works.

LIAM: You open the door and find Zora in a small, but warmly lit room sitting in a comfortable, red loveseat next to a low table set for tea. There's a desk off to the side, a few stacks of files spread out a bit on it. In one corner, a violin rests on a table and a huge book lies open, set on an ornate lectern for easy reference. You notice, immediately, the unmistakable shine of tears in Zora's eyes as she glances at you all and gestures for you to sit. "I'm so sorry. Do sit, please. (sniffles) I had them bring in some tea. Sit, sit."

ALEXANDER: Is everything all right?

IMARI: What's wrong, Zora?

TALIESIN: How's Decklan?

LIAM: Her eyes well up immediately. "Well, you see, Decklan passed away in the night."

IMARI: Oh. Oh no.

LIAM: "He was stable for a while, but... things started to decline. He was not alone when he went, Dr. Aguilar was there, Edgar. (sighs) Aguilar's not certain what happened, really. We've never seen anything like this." She just stops herself and hangs on you, Malcolm.

IMARI: You don't even have to say it. I know where this is going.


LIAM: "We have-- As I told you, we'd been waiting for Decklan's circle to return from their work. And they haven't. They were a few days behind schedule, that day you arrived on Serenity. I was anxious at the time, now we fear the worst. I don't... know if it's connected or not, but."

AIMEE: Where were they supposed to be?

LIAM: "Honestly, with all that you have laden on your shoulders already, I-- I hate even troubling you with any of this."

AIMEE: Well, I'm out of a job now, so.

IMARI: Oh, Zora.

LIAM: "(tearful sniffle)"

IMARI: You know, we're all family and we're going to do what we need to do.

LIAM: "It has been a spell of weeks, I'll tell you. Like everything is coming undone. (sniffs) Um. Decklan's circle, since you asked, the Circle of the Wyrm. Let me back up, I suppose. For decades now, Candela has been chasing a myth or a fairytale, depending on your point of view. Incidental references that have been found in a few disparate texts about some sort of an ancient Oldfairen vault dating back before the fall of the empire, possibly built by Emperor Calinus, at the time." Emperor Calinus, a name that has come up at this table before. Emperor Calinus, a name known to anyone who studies any level of history of this place, of Oldfaire. The last reigning emperor before the end. "Before the ocean sundered two millennia ago. Housing things of terrible power, say these disparate mentions. The texts are scarce, but there has been a concern within Candela for a great while that it was real. And if real, that someone with ill intent would one day find it. And that finally happened. Fortunately, it was Candela Obscura that discovered it. For little over a year, the Circle of the Wyrm has slowly been sifting through that place. A handful of dangerous objects have already been extracted and are here now, contained. Decklan and his circle were making regular trips into the depths for this purpose, always reporting back within set timeframes. Dependently so. Until now. (sniffs) Dear, I fear they're either trapped or worse. Um. (sighs) I hate myself for proposing this. But I know it is difficult for you all to walk through the streets of Newfaire, right now, there are too many unknowns and it is too dangerous. But perhaps you can still fill a purpose." She takes a deep breath. Finding the will to continue. "Your new assignment, is to find the Circle of the Wyrm. Rescue them, if they are able to be rescued. And short of that, figure out what happened to Decklan. And you, dear. Um. Right, logistics. I'm sorry. None of you have said a word. Where are your heads at?"

AIMEE: I didn't really study much history. But I'm assuming that this vault is somewhere deep in... where?

LIAM: "Well, yes, it is quite deep in Oldfaire. However, we've done a good deal to mark the way there. The Circle of the Wyrm has been traveling there for over a year."

AIMEE: Via ship?

LIAM: "I'm sorry?"

AIMEE: Via ocean ship?

LIAM: You know, all of you know that Oldfaire, the ancient city that Newfaire is built upon the bones of--

AIMEE: Is underneath. Yeah.

LIAM: -- is down below the modern city streets.

AIMEE: Right, right, right. Okay.

LIAM: So it means-- And, again, I know we're all players joining for the first time, but as the Circle of the Crimson Mirror, you guys actually have--

AIMEE: Been there?

LIAM: -- been in a little. It's not really your circle's--

TALIESIN: Purview.

LIAM: -- specialty, purview, correct.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

LIAM: You have been more about dealing with issues topside--

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: -- and investigations of phenomenon in and out of the city. Your Lightkeeper-- Sometimes members of circles do move from one to another, like Decklan, for different reasons, but a Lightkeeper will have any number of circles going at once.

AIMEE: Do we know, have you mentioned why Decklan broke apart from the Circle of the Wyrm? Was he on a sabbatical, or we just don't know how he got separated?

LIAM: What she told you originally when you were on the ship at sea was that he came back from assignment. She was very thin on details then, but said that he had come back from assignment and was a little haggard and was looking for some time off or away--

AIMEE: Got it.

LIAM: -- and rekindling or reconnecting with his family.

IMARI: It now makes sense, though, why he would have time, especially if he was infected with whatever's infecting me.

ALEXANDER: Well, I do have a question in that. When you did send us to Serenity, you stated that he-- Yeah, forgive me if I'm getting this wrong, but he didn't come back, he just left a note for you saying he was going to visit his family.

LIAM: "Yes, and I didn't think anything of it."

ALEXANDER: Right. But he never actually, or at least no one saw him come back to the Fourth Pharos.

LIAM: "Well, no. He did, and I was getting to that. I'm not sending you down there blind. You see, a single member of that circle is actually accounted for."


LIAM: "Working at Briarbank College the last month. Her name is Alessandra Gregory, Professor Alessandra Gregory. She's a historian there. For the last month, she's been split off from the group doing research related to their work in Briarbank, The Antiquarian, here in the halls of the Pharos. She did see him briefly before he set out for Serenity."

IMARI: Is there a way that I can actually talk to this woman? Well, I have a suspicion, well, I'm pretty certain that whatever Decklan had when we got to him, it was infecting him. I'm pretty sure he was infected by the time he came and visited the Fourth Pharos.

ALEXANDER: How do you know that?

IMARI: Well, he came from below with the Circle of the Wyrm, and I'm assuming what he had--

ALEXANDER: What he had seemed--

IMARI: -- infected him.

ALEXANDER: There are a lot of assumptions in this.

IMARI: Well, I was blown in the face with a white substance.


IMARI: A white substance that he was covered in. He had a translucent growth on his face. Now I'm not sure, this is a hypothesis, but I'm pretty sure that's all connected, the dust that was blown in his face, the dust that was attempted to blow in other people's face, and what was blown in my face.

LIAM: Candela and Aguilar, Dr. Aguilar have confirmed--


LIAM: -- that the growth on his face and the pulverized powder that was thrown in your face, blown in your face, they do share the same composition.


LIAM: They're just in a different form.


AIMEE: Is there anything of Decklan's, a personal item I can maybe try to glean some information from?


LIAM: "Well, I am going to send you to Professor Gregory. She will act as your guide. She's been down countless times with Decklan, like they all have. (sighs) She's rightfully hesitant to make the trip on her own. It is always-- It's never an easy thing to go down. But again, they have been there many times before. They have marked their own path. They go down and come back like clockwork. For over a year they've been doing this." She goes over to her desks, though, and rifles around, and she comes over to you with a chain with a simple little medallion on it and there is the image of a lighthouse on it.


LIAM: "I gave this to Mr. Murphy when he was young, when we were in a circle together. Several years ago, he returned it to me with a very nice letter as a birthday present. I'd forgotten it existed, to be honest. It was just a trinket. But I've always held onto it. I'm-- I've always been very fond of the boy."

AIMEE: It's really hard to lose people we love before their time. Is there anything Grimoria can feel, anything spiritual or anything Decklan would've, I don't know, imbued?

LIAM: She presses it into your palm. Why don't you make a Sense roll for me?

AIMEE: Great. Ah! That's a good roll.

IMARI: Three dice, baby.

AIMEE: That one's a good one for me. Five.

LIAM: Five? You close your eyes, and again, your work at the Foggs', 95% of the time it is fakery.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: But every once in a while, you hold something in your hand and are awash with feelings, with memories, with thought. You begin to see Decklan with people you don't know, maybe in Hallowharbor, certainly on docks somewhere, pointing off towards the sea--


LIAM: -- and laughing with them.

AIMEE: Do I recognize the dock as a place I've been before, or is it the docks of Newfaire?

LIAM: It looks similar to the docks where you left from.

AIMEE: Well, I don't really know what this means, but it seems like he was happy and looking forward to going home. I mean, I think I read that correctly. I could be wrong. (laughs)

IMARI: (laughs)

TALIESIN: We do what we can with what we're given.

ALEXANDER: Until further evidence comes about, I just want to keep it in everybody's mind that the powder and what is affecting you and what affected Decklan does not necessarily, or is not necessarily linked to this. We only experienced the powder and Decklan's infection while on Serenity. We have no evidence that it was down there. Just playing devil's advocate.

AIMEE: He didn't seem sick on the dock where I just saw him, but--

ALEXANDER: He did seem?

AIMEE: Did not. He seemed happy, laughing.

ALEXANDER: Exactly my point.

IMARI: Here's one thing. Sisters were all possessed, killed their own mother.

ALEXANDER: Only on the island.

IMARI: Only on the island, but they were strangely attached to that bag of powder. Then we saw those two atop with their animals. It seemed like we were surveyed by the whole town.

ALEXANDER: On the island.

IMARI: On the island. Now, maybe he found something or maybe he was possessed when he went to the island.

ALEXANDER: I don't think it's a possession, I think it's an effect of this powder.

IMARI: Well, I use possession as a very loosely base, but this powder obviously causes some sort of change into your personality.


IMARI: Right?

ALEXANDER: I'm just asking to keep an open mind that the powder might not necessarily be connected to his or his circle's disappearance.

TALIESIN: It could've come directly from the island.


TALIESIN: But we should probably keep an eye out for it.

ALEXANDER: Yes, absolutely! I'm just--

IMARI: It could be either. And I agree with you. I'm simply saying they were investigating Oldfaire and then he took a break and then he went back to his island. Wherein, people in the island were under some sort of influence from whatever was there. We don't know. But his mother was killed by his sisters.

ALEXANDER: Please, I remember what happened.

IMARI: He was in the cone, covered with the substance.

ALEXANDER: Yes, no, we were all there.

AIMEE: Well, I think we can ask Professor Gregory if they came across--

ALEXANDER: Yes, exactly.

AIMEE: -- anything down there.

IMARI: My fear is that whatever's going on, number one, I don't want to be affected by it. Number two, if we're going on this mission, I don't know how long I have, if I have any kind of time, if there's any progression going on or if it's something secondary that we don't know about. But there's a lot of variables at play.

ALEXANDER: Yes, there are. I'm keenly aware of how wrong I was about the island. You don't have to remind me. But, asking the good doctor when we meet her about the powder is exactly my point. Asking where or if she knows where it came from. If she's never heard about it, then it's a completely separate issue that we will still have to deal with because, obviously, you are affected and you are getting worse.

LIAM: "And she is ready for you whenever you are. I'm not sending you now, of course, but she's prepared to go and lead you."

AIMEE: I'm ready to go.

IMARI: Well, there's nothing on my plate. It's been such a delightful place to have a good old tea time at, by the way, I might add.

TALIESIN: Decklan's body.


TALIESIN: Where's it going to be interred? Is he going to be in one of those delightful cages that we passed on the way in?

IMARI: Oh, don't even say such a thing.

TALIESIN: No, I want to know.

ALEXANDER: I want to know.

LIAM: "You are correct, Mr. Amicus."


TALIESIN: Makes sense.

IMARI: How could we let him stay in those-- Who would let him stay there?

ALEXANDER: Because he's dangerous and we don't understand what it is.

TALIESIN: Out of idle curiosity, how often does a circle member end up in that little menagerie?

IMARI: Are they all circle members?

LIAM: "No, no, no. But it does happen."

TALIESIN: Mm-hmm. I don't mean to--

LIAM: "The work is dangerous, and sometimes our members are touched. I wasn't going to bring this up, but it isn't pretty. The body has undergone rapid decomposition in hours. I've never seen anything like it."

TALIESIN: We're going to need to see it.


TALIESIN: You know we need to see it.

LIAM: She stands and walks over to the shelves next to her desk and pulls out a drawer and pulls a sideways bottle of brown liquor out of it and walks back to the table and pours a little bit into her teacup, standing, and then downs the tea. "All right, well, now is the time, then."

ALEXANDER: You don't have to if you don't want to.

LIAM: "Of course I do, darling. Come." You guys wind your way through the paths of the Fourth Pharos and arrive back to that same isolation room with a large, round window sealing off Decklan's body from your viewing. The sheet has been removed at this point and Decklan's body is just on a bare mattress on this bed. There aren't many features to look at. His head has caved in to a degree, crusted over with mottled white scabbing and has sunken in almost like fruit left to rot for too many days. You can see, Dr. Lycoris, that that moves down the neck and into the chest, which is sunken in partially, not to the same degree there as well.

TALIESIN: (suppressed gag)


ALEXANDER: Is the effect and the decomposition located to areas that specifically would've been infected by inhaling a powder, i.e., the face, neck, and lungs?

LIAM: Sure. Make a Focus roll.

TALIESIN: Definitely not assisting.


LIAM: Candela. (laughs)

IMARI: Oh yes!

LIAM: It lives.

IMARI: We love those rolls.

TALIESIN: (laughs)

LIAM: Yes, you can tell that it is, from the nature of it, it follows the line of the breathing passages in the nose--

ALEXANDER: And from there--

LIAM: -- throat and lungs.

ALEXANDER: Checking extremities, fingers, toes, is any decomposition happening there, apart from normal form?

LIAM: There is some discoloration that travels beyond the worst of it, but it does seem to mostly be centered in those places.

ALEXANDER: Okay. Well. (sighs) I undo my kit, take a vial, and I'm going to take some scrapings.

LIAM: "Hold." She leaves for a second and comes back with Dr. Aguilar who comes in with a mask on and an apron, carrying the same for you, and holds them out for you before entering.

ALEXANDER: Thank you. I suit up. And you-- Please stay outside.

LIAM: Dr. Aguilar just stares at you. He looks at you after the to-do he made and looks at Murphy's ruin and deflates a little bit and walks in with you.

ALEXANDER: I go in and collect some samples so that I can look at them later and try and figure out something.

LIAM: Okay.

ALEXANDER: Doctor, I'm sure you noticed the same thing I did, that it appears to be the decomposition is located directly to areas closest to the breathing passages and lungs.

LIAM: "Yes. He was stable for a week and the vitals began to drop and his breathing became cumbersome. In the middle of the night, they stopped outright, and-- I've never seen anything like it, Lycoris."

ALEXANDER: Neither have I.

LIAM: "Days! This should take days for other comparable conditions."

ALEXANDER: Well, upon just this short glance I've had, my initial idea, or at least a place to start is that this is possibly some sort of dried, bleed-infused fungus that then, when blown into the nasal passages, coats the interior and then takes root and enhanced decomposition.

LIAM: "Yes, the little sachet of powder that you brought does seem to be almost like it was harvested--"


LIAM: "From Mr. Murphy or someone similar."

ALEXANDER: (sighs) I don't know. It will have to be upon further inspection. Obviously, we have someone else we need to look out for.

LIAM: "I understand you may be going into Oldfaire."

ALEXANDER: Yes. We'll also try and ascertain whether or not the powder came from Oldfaire or from the island of Serenity, as we only encountered it on the island. Not sure if it came from Oldfaire.

LIAM: "Well, I wish you luck. We may all be carrying it at this point, I suppose."

ALEXANDER: Yes. It's possible. Don't know how much it dispersed into the atmosphere when it was blown into Mr. Trills' face.

LIAM: "Well--"

ALEXANDER: Or how much is coming off the body.

LIAM: "Best of luck."

ALEXANDER: Thank you, doctor. And thank you for--

LIAM: "Please be safe, all of you."

ALEXANDER: Thank you for watching out for him and watching over him when he passed.

LIAM: "It is our line of work."

ALEXANDER: Yes. I'll exit the room.

LIAM: Okay. I will slide us through Leo's apartment into the waking world, unless anyone has a--

ALEXANDER: I do have one thing to do.

LIAM: Yeah.

ALEXANDER: As we leave and we're walking through the Fourth Pharos, leaving, I want to get your attention and have us hang back a little bit.

AIMEE: Okay.

ALEXANDER: A lot of things have happened to you in the last couple of weeks. I know that, I know you and Leo were very close, and you-- I guess what I'm trying to say is that I may not show it as much, but I also care about you very much and I want you to be safe.

AIMEE: Thank you.

ALEXANDER: I'm bringing this up for a reason. I know we all trust Malcolm and he is part of our circle. I don't know the effects of this powder and what it might do to his mental state or to his decision making. So when we go into Oldfaire, I need you to just have your eyes open.


ALEXANDER: I need you to not-- If he starts acting irrationally, do not go near him.

AIMEE: Okay.

ALEXANDER: Because I don't know what he will do, considering the state we found Decklan in. I don't know what affects proceed that state.

AIMEE: I understand. Thank you.

ALEXANDER: So just... Don't be in front this time.

AIMEE: (scoffs) Well, I'll try not to be.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

IMARI: Can we get this show on the road or what, guys?


IMARI: Let's do this.

AIMEE: Okay.

ALEXANDER: Yes, sir.

LIAM: All right. Circle of the Crimson Mirror, you wind your way out of the Fourth Pharos and end up briefly back in Leo's flat, not knowing what dangers lay in wait. The four of you hop into a carriage, a horse-drawn carriage, for the most anonymous path to the Varnish, The western part of the Varnish, which is where Zora has sent you guys. She's given you an address. 111 Waverly on the west side of the Varnish along the Stentorian River. Eventually, you guys stand in front of a brownstone building, somewhat run down in this section of the Varnish. It is midday, bright sun. You're just off of a main thoroughfare and you can see hundreds of people going about their day on your way here, and now off in the distance, up the block. But you head up the stairs, business at hand, knock on the door, and you hear through it, sound like footsteps coming down some stairs. The door opens, and you see a woman standing before you in her early forties with sandy blonde hair, straight and pulled back into a very neat ponytail. She's wearing a tan jacket or coat that looks like it is durable, and some darker colored slacks and boots that she's wearing. "Hello. I'm Alessandra. I've been expecting you?"


IMARI: Ma'am.

ALEXANDER: Leo, Malcolm. Grimoria.

LIAM: "Grimoria. You must be, and that would make you Edgar."


LIAM: "Well, come in. Come in. Let's not talk out here on the stoop." She closes the door behind you and she begins to walk up a set of stairs, up this thin brownstone that looked like it was about four stories tall from the outside. It looked four stories tall from the outside. You follow her up and she leads you past a couple of doorways into an open sitting room or a salon that is scattered with notes and scraps of paper, maps pinned to the wall, and charts. There are sketches on the wall, really well done, of different objects or artifacts. There's one of a mask that is halfway between an oval and a triangle with large round eyes and lines going down that read like strange pupils, no mouth, and little slits where the nose would be. There's another picture of what almost looks like a snake, but it is really like a string of interconnected rhombic dodecahedrons, which are, you might know as a d12, except these look larger and it looks intricately carved in this drawing, and they trail out from behind a much larger spherical shape, and on the other end, a knife is tied. It's very bizarre, the things on the wall. So they're the first that catch your eye. "Come in. Sorry. I know it's mess."

ALEXANDER: It's fine.

LIAM: "It's always a mess. I'm a bit of a mess."

ALEXANDER: (chuckles)

LIAM: "Any word on Decklan?"




LIAM: "What?"

IMARI: Unfortunately, he passed.


LIAM: "No."


ALEXANDER: I'm sorry that we were the ones to tell you. He passed last night.

TALIESIN: Sacrificed upon the altar of the future, as we all might be in the next 24 hours. Sorry. The tea was very bitter.

ALEXANDER: I apologize that we're the ones telling you.

LIAM: "Will you excuse me a minute?"


IMARI: Way to let her down slowly.

LIAM: She leaves, and you hear her walking just down to another room, and a door shut. You look around the room a little bit more in this awkward silence while she's gone. Again, there's tables of notes and bits of gear hanging around, a couple of lengths of rope in one corner and packs, traveling packs and sets of boots. There's also, you spot over in the corner, something you haven't seen in over a year. You spot this green, worn leather journal that you recognize as Decklan's, sitting on a stack of papers.

AIMEE: Is it appropriate to pick it up?

LIAM: I mean, can you as a player pick it up?


LIAM: For suresies.

AIMEE: I'd like to pick it up and maybe-- Well, first, I think she would try to see if she could Sense anything. You know, this is what she does. Shall I try?

LIAM: Sure.

AIMEE: Great. I think at first, she's going to try to Sense something on the spiritual realm.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

AIMEE: Candela on my gilded!

LIAM: Candela.


IMARI: Damn, that's--

AIMEE: Damn it, I should have-- Yeah.

IMARI: Gilded Candela, the best.

(chef's kiss)



IMARI: Candela gold, baby!

AIMEE: Candela gold,


TALIESIN: There we are.

LIAM: You turn your back to the group and hold this journal in your hands and look down at all the notes on the table, and you can see they're in Decklan's hand as well. You squeeze it as tightly as you can in your hand. You want to know something so badly. You're about to put it down and you just feel an overwhelming presence. Not a memory.


LIAM: Just a notion, a gut feeling. Stay away. You hear Alessandra, Professor Gregory, coming back, and as you turn, holding the journal, a photograph falls out and lands on the ground, and you look down at your feet and you see a picture of yourself, all of you and Decklan leaning against a truck in a grassy field with a farmhouse on a hill in the distance behind it. You look very nervous in the photo. You're very serious. Malcolm's leaning back against the truck, his eyes are closed and he's just bathing in the sun, and Leo is side eyeing him and Decklan is off to the side, just smiling at the lot of you.

AIMEE: Excuse me for looking through these things, Professor Gregory, especially after giving you such terrible news in such a terrible way.

LIAM: "He was with you first."

AIMEE: Yes, I--


AIMEE: I was just wondering, why do you have all of his things? Why do you have this journal?

LIAM: "We all practically lived here."


LIAM: "We do, for different stretches of time."

AIMEE: I see.

LIAM: "There's a lot of his, some of his clothes are here."

AIMEE: I know that, Zora mentioned that you saw him before he left for home and I was just wondering what he seemed like, what his mindset was, and did he seem like himself?

LIAM: "He did. He-- He was only in for about a half hour. I've not been with the group for five or six weeks. I have been trying to figure that out." She points to a drawing of this large conch shell sketch, and there appears to be some sort of a gemstone or mineral, crystal embedded near the small tight end of it.

ALEXANDER: It's-- It's okay. We can just take a minute, if we need to. We don't need to be so formal about this.

LIAM: "No, no, no, no. It's like we're distant family, in a way."


LIAM: "No, he was only here for 20 or 30 minutes and I was taking a break from the libraries."

IMARI: How did he appear to you?

LIAM: "He was a little anxious, maybe, but really, that's the worst I can say. You know, we've been going down pretty deep into the city, the old city, for so long that we each take turns every once in a while. Like, oh, it's Nestor's turn to take two weeks off. Because it can be hard down there. Just the darkness, even just that."


LIAM: "So he definitely seemed like he was in that frame of mind, but he's been there a few times. He's been there the fewest times, but-- He just said he was going to go home."


AIMEE: While she talks, I wonder if-- I will just look at the last entry of the journal, see when that was and see if there's any good information in there.

LIAM: Sure. On the very last page, he talks about how well he thinks things are going.


LIAM: He talks about something called, he references something called The Tulquist in it and says he's glad that he didn't burn his hand worse than he did, and glad that it got back into the Pharos and accounted for. He--

IMARI: Tulquist's last mission.

AIMEE: And what's the date on that, relative to when he--

LIAM: Relative to now? It was maybe four weeks before Serenity.


IMARI: Tulquist. I don't know this because you're reading this, right?

AIMEE: I could maybe say that out loud. Or what is a Tulquist?

LIAM: "Oh, that." She points to the thing that looks almost like a rosary bead of polyhedron shapes.

AIMEE: Okay.

TALIESIN: With the knife?

LIAM: "Yeah. Yeah."


ALEXANDER: You found that down there?

LIAM: "(sighs) We did. Our work. How much has Zora told you?"

ALEXANDER: You found the vault, and you've been down there searching through it.

LIAM: "Yeah, another circle found the place. We've been tasked with making our way through it and clearing it out, so to speak. We've been down there for a year. We've gotten four things out. But that's because we take our time. You don't run down there, you don't jump headlong into Oldfaire, and we never want to just rush in and grab these things, which is what I'm for. That's why I spend so much time in the stacks. We like to know what we're picking up before we pick it up."

AIMEE: The last thing you remember Mr. Murphy picking up, did it seem unusual? I mean, more than normal? Was he the only one who handled it or--

LIAM: "Oh, no. No. I mean, I handled it."


LIAM: "But you don't want to get blood on it."

AIMEE: Of course.

LIAM: "Because then it hurts. Anyway. Not anymore. That's done. We've kind of had a really good track record. The work can be slow and the darkness gets to you, but we're good at what we do."

ALEXANDER: Um. Obviously, you didn't know he passed, but were you told what his condition was, what was afflicting him?

LIAM: "Yes. Yes. I knew that he was in a bad place. I just didn't know that the end had come."

ALEXANDER: Well, none of us did. It happened very rapidly. Did you, while you were down there, or did he find a small satchel of a powder-like substance or any bag or anything that was almost like a ground up white chunky chalk?

LIAM: "No."


AIMEE: This is when I would ask for an insight check.

TALIESIN: I was going to say, I am definitely, I want to figure out whether she's telling the truth.

AIMEE: What's that?

ALEXANDER: That is a Read, I believe?

LIAM: That's a Read roll.

TALIESIN: I would love to take that Read roll.

AIMEE: Yeah, you go for it.

LIAM: Some of you can do a group Read, or you can go your own way.

TALIESIN: I have a--

AIMEE: He's got stuff.

ALEXANDER: I've got two in it, gilded.

TALIESIN: The first Cunning. Let's see. "The first Cunning you spend on the roll is worth 2d instead of 1d." So I get-- Lie Detector, "When you make a Read roll in an attempt to figure out whether a person is telling the truth, gild an additional die. The first Cunning you spend on the roll is worth plus 2d instead of plus one." So I have one point in Read, so I get two gilded dice for this.

LIAM: Okay.

ALEXANDER: Yeah, and I will give a drive to that because I'm also looking,

TALIESIN: Oh! Then I'll also spend a drive on that as well.

AIMEE: Cool.

TALIESIN: Since I'm just going to get it back anyway.

IMARI: Candela all around.


TALIESIN: Oh, that's a Candela. Yeah.

AIMEE: (laughs) I saw that one from here, baby!

TALIESIN: That's very much a Candela. Although, I don't get my drive back. That's okay.

LIAM: Leo, you are excellent at reading people. You can't mistake the earnestness on her face from the moment you walked in and the the real emotional impact your news hit her with. You believe it.

ALEXANDER: Well, you have even-- The item or the substance I'm addressing is, we believe, what caused Decklan's unfortunate circumstances, and it was something we encountered when we visited him, or found him, more accurately, where he grew up on Serenity, the island off the coast.

LIAM: "Yeah, Zora has told me a little bit, and I've been waiting for the--" She waves you over and points to a photograph pinned to the wall amongst all of this stuff and there's a photograph not too different from the one that you just discovered by accident. But you see Decklan again.

AIMEE: Which I kept, by the way.

LIAM: Mm-hmm. I think she clocked it, but she doesn't mind.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: This time, Decklan's in the middle of it and he's got his arms around Professor Gregory and another man in the picture with darker skin and a shock of white hair in a long coat. There's another man in the picture, has a bit of a Halen Navy look to him. He's wearing a pea coat, he has gloves on. And two other women, A woman with this dark black-haired bob cut. She's wearing a bomber jacket and boots and almost looks like aviator pants, and then a very tall, very broad woman in this black and white photo, just the hair looks white, but she looks young, relatively young, and she's wearing a shirt with the sleeves rolled up really high and her arms are huge. "That's us. That's your extended family."

AIMEE: May we have their names?

LIAM: "Yes." She points to, "So that's me, obviously, and Decklan. This other gentleman that Decklan's got his arm around is Alonzo Whitlock. He's the closest thing we have to you, Grimoria, in the group. This man here is Nestor Ronquillo, and then the woman here in the bomber jacket, that's MaryAnne, MaryAnne DeWitt, and then Hilda's our muscle, Hilda Greenwald."

ALEXANDER: I couldn't tell.

LIAM: "I'm worried about them, too."

ALEXANDER: Yeah, I'm sure.

LIAM: "It's been a long time. Once, seven or eight months ago, some of the group were delayed for a while. They got stuck. There was a bit of a cave-in, but-- I was nervous, and now with him, Decklan, I mean, in the-- Decklan."

ALEXANDER: Yes. At this point in time, we have no evidence that what happened to Decklan came from Oldfaire, so this is possible, that this happened after he got to his home. Unrelated circumstances--

LIAM: "Okay."

ALEXANDER: -- to what has happened, what, if anything, has occurred down there.

LIAM: "Knock on wood. I guess we're going to find out."

ALEXANDER: Doesn't mean it didn't, but we just have no evidence. Sorry.

AIMEE: I don't mean to rush anyone, but maybe we should get started looking for your missing team members.

LIAM: "Okay."

TALIESIN: Do we have-- I assume you have supplies and ideas.

LIAM: "I do."

TALIESIN: That sort of thing.

LIAM: "I do, I've made this trip 20 times. Stick close to me. It really will be fine."

TALIESIN: I apologize, earlier, for my briskness. I'm just-- I think I'm a bit worn thin.

ALEXANDER: We've had a long couple of weeks.

LIAM: "I'm real sorry."

TALIESIN: Uncharacteristically angry.

ALEXANDER: (sighs)

LIAM: "You okay?"

ALEXANDER: Yes, I'm trying-- We can talk about it on the way. It's fine.

LIAM: "Okay. Well, it's not far. Come with me."

ALEXANDER: Before we leave, this is the college where my father works, right?

LIAM: Say that again?

ALEXANDER: This is the college where my father works.

LIAM: Briarbank.


LIAM: That she works at.


LIAM: Yes.

ALEXANDER: The same place. Okay, I just wanted to-- I don't have time to do a proper check in, but my father works here, in the same department.

LIAM: We're not at Briarbank. She was--

ALEXANDER: She was there.

LIAM: We're in the Varnish.

ALEXANDER: Thank you. Sorry, I was confused as to where we were.

LIAM: Briarbank is in Briar Green, and she has been spending time in Briar Green, and this is their chapter house.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

LIAM: I could've been clearer.

ALEXANDER: Then I will go past this, then, at some point.

LIAM: Okay, all right, well, she grabs a bag, a satchel, and throws it over her shoulder and says, "All right, follow me."


LIAM: She steps out of this operations room, is what it looks like, and heads down the stairs with you all following, and, instead of going out the front door, she hooks right and walks to the back of the brownstone and starts walking down another set of stairs. She lights a lantern and walks into a darkened room below ground level under this brownstone, and before you, you see there are sacks and gear thrown around in here. All kinds of stuff, crates, you even see one box with two rifles in it and some ammunition, but the main feature of this room is that there is a massive-- No, massive is overstating it. There's a large pit in this room with scaffolding coming up and out. Malcolm, you just got led down into the basement of this place where there is a pit in the actual floor.

IMARI: My gosh, you have a lovely restroom.

LIAM: "Help yourself. Anyone else have to go before we set off? Because it's just going to be in the rubble, if not."

ALEXANDER: I understand.

LIAM: "Okay."

IMARI: We can find a bush next time.

LIAM: "You get used to it."

ALEXANDER: Let's move on.

IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: So there's this large hole lit now by a lantern down here and there is metal scaffolding coming up out of the hole. "Okay, so where we're going is actually not under here. It's further northwest, but that's closer to Groundswell, and those entrances--" You guys know this. That is a spot where there's been a lot of sinkage over the years and lots of Oldfaire ruins poke up, and that is an easier way to get into Oldfaire. However, it's also highly regulated by the Periphery and the Primacy. "So we use here because during the war, this whole neighborhood sank a bit. They think there was some structural damage underneath because of the shelling that happened by the river. Anyway, a lot of collapse, and now you can get in around here. Not as many places, but this is one. So when I go down in and you follow me, just step where I step, but I'm going to say it out loud, just so we're clear. Do not go left, okay? Just follow me right." She starts to climb down this metal scaffolding into the pit with the lantern hooked on a little ring she has on her belt.

ALEXANDER: Are there any other lanterns up here that we can take?

LIAM: Yes, there's all kinds of to-go gear. This looks their staging ground to go in.

ALEXANDER: I'll have grabbed a lantern.

IMARI: I'll grab a lantern, too.


AIMEE: Same.

LIAM: Okay.

AIMEE: Maybe I'll sneak the rifle, too.

LIAM: You want a rifle? Okay, so you loop a rifle around your back, for sure. There's two.

IMARI: Oh, I would love a rifle.

LIAM: Okay.

AIMEE: I don't know what I'd use it for, but it's a shame leaving it here.

LIAM: Firing bullets!

IMARI: Can't I bring my rifle?

AIMEE: Yeah.

IMARI: (laughs) It might get crazy.

AIMEE: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Anything else of value? I don't know.

LIAM: There's rope. There are provisions. There's food that could be taken from here.

ALEXANDER: If there's a backpack, I'll load it with food supplies.

LIAM: Sure, there are two or three backpacks. It's staple food and stuff that can travel.


LIAM: She just waits patiently, half of her body already disappeared down this pit.


LIAM: "No, no. Better prepared. Okay, ready?"



IMARI: I'm ready.

LIAM: "Don't go left."

ALEXANDER: Don't go left.

LIAM: She disappears down into the hole, and you watch as her lantern illuminates down the darkness below her. You can see a line of stone beneath her. She moves to the right, and you can see stone and void, and she moves over to the right, and you see her drop, and it takes a second to process what you're seeing, but she lands on ground maybe six or seven feet below from where she dropped. "Where I am. Don't go left!" She walks out of view. You guys, one by one, move down the scaffolding. With your lanterns, you can see that she has dropped onto the roof of some sort of building down here.

AIMEE: Mm. When you lean to the left and look down, you can't see ground, so you go right and drop down, and now all of you are on the stone rooftop of-- You can see little glimmers of light in a few remote places off in the distance, not two places, but that doesn't help you over here. They just look like stars in the night, almost. You can see that you're on a rooftop that stretches out about 40 or 50 feet, and she leads you and says, "Come on, this way, and again, I've taken this route so many times, but best err on the side of quiet, okay?"

ALEXANDER: I do have a question.

LIAM: "Yeah?"

ALEXANDER: How do we get back up?

LIAM: "Oh, you can get back up. I mean, it's a pull--"

ALEXANDER: It's fine, it's fine. As long as there's a way to get back up.

LIAM: "Here, here."

IMARI: I'll give you a boost up the ladder.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

LIAM: "You have to stand on the lip of the roof. Be careful."


LIAM: "Okay." She moves towards stone stairs that move down the side of the building, so off the roof and down, and you guys begin to wander down stone steps that head down this thousands- of-year-old building. Going down two flights, three flights, four, five, and you find yourself stepping out onto old stone stonework from the old world, and there is tons of rubble. Half of this building, maybe a third of this building, is collapsed on one side, and you can just see, when you hold your lantern in that direction, the base of a mountain of rubble. She points out and says, "That's part of the damage from the war, so we're not going that way, follow me." You start to move through the streets of Oldfaire. You see arches over your heads, both broken and occasionally one that's complete. Impressive, old structures. The further you go, you start to see even shafts of light in the distance. You travel for 10 or 20 minutes, just stepping through. At one point, she pauses you guys and she reaches into her pack and pulls out a little ball and cup toy. She puts her finger to her lips and she walks over to what looks like the broken remains of a fountain, no water, and she sets the little ball and cup down on the stone, and then she waves you on, and you guys pass on by. Of course, curious, you look back, and Grimoria, you see in the dark there now, as you carry your light sources away, you can barely see what looks like a child standing in the darkness, completely covered in a dark line, wearing a simple shift. You look back to the rest to say, "Do you see this?" And they're gone, and the little ball and cup is gone. Alessandra shrugs at you and moves on. "We leave something every time we go by."

AIMEE: That's nice.

IMARI: That's downright creepy.

LIAM: "Like all of this, you get used to it, to a degree. Come with." You continue to travel, and you can only guess that you are moving under South Soffit, even.

AIMEE: Under--

LIAM: South Soffit, which is the area under the Eaves, since you're moving northeast. She says, "We're getting closer to the point where Groundswell starts. We don't have to go all the way in, but that's our target." Eventually, you pass by, you see maybe 200 feet off, a large surviving stone building, quite large, and all along one wall of it are carved eyes, open eyes placed at different spots. You can only see it because there are rays of light coming down from holes in the earth to this place. At one point, you think you can hear the subway going far above your head. "That is the-- That was the seat of power there, that building with the eyes. Iomene first, and then before the end, Calinus." She moves on, leading you forward. Maybe 30 or 40 minutes of this quiet march through Oldfaire, you walk out into this large brick square surrounded by a series of arches all around it. This looks like maybe some sort of massive meeting place or open square from the old world. Professor Gregory just passes through. All your little lanterns are swinging in the dark as you go, and you realize, too, as you walk by, until the point where you got to this open square, you've been passing by these little metal spikes or rods in the ground with a little red smear across the top, similar to what you find on hiking trails.

IMARI: Markers.

LIAM: Mm-hmm, and she is, you can see, absentmindedly noting them as she goes. We get to the square, and she starts counting arches. "One, two, three, four-- Okay, follow me." She starts heading in a certain direction and passes under an arch. You go down this long, broad road with arches over it, and eventually get to this large maw of an opening in the city in front of you. You stand at the top of a ledge. You hold your lanterns out, and she says, "They call this the Endless Descent."



IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: "I'll show you."


AIMEE: No thanks.

LIAM: She moves down the left-- She moves towards the left, down along the lip of this, the edge of a 30- or 40-foot drop to you. You can see, just barely, the ground down there below. She arrives at two more spikes that are splashed red with paint, dry now, but there's a rope ladder affixed to those, and she twists around and begins to climb down it.


TALIESIN: I'm so sorry. Okay.

LIAM: You begin to travel down the Endless Descent, 20-foot tall step by 20-foot tall step, going down these rope ladders that the Circle of the Worm has left for their travels here. You get to the sixth stair and get to the bottom and look at the wall of that stair, and you see a strange, almost beehive pattern carved into this step. Did not look like that on steps one, two, three, four, five, but here, the entire height of it, and stepping closer, Leo, you see that the one you get near with your lantern-- Actually, the one next to it, too. All of them have intricately carved cities of stone in them, little miniature vistas, obviously not like Newfaire, but not the architecture of Oldfaire either. Strange, alien to you. You've never seen anything quite like it, and you are a connoisseur of fashion and architecture and style, but you've never seen this. You hear a clicking in the distance. Everybody freezes. Professor Gregory does hold up a hand, waves you all to cool it. A minute or two goes by. She nods her head, and you continue your descent. 10 of these stairs, 20 of them, 30 of them. You've been traveling down these stairs, because it is slow going, for 30 minutes. You get to the 34th or 5th or 6th, and you find what looks like an abandoned encampment. There are tents pitched here, what look like very old packs. The tents are tied shut. As you wave your lanterns in front of them, it causes shadow play along these tents. The shadows, for a brief moment, don't move the way you would anticipate with the movement of your source of light, and the shadow spins around the tent and up the side of it, and you can see what looks like people inside, but silhouettes, and they look like they turn to each other and talk, and then recede into the base of the tent, into the shadow. "It's okay. It's okay." Grimoria, the whispers in the back of your head pick up, a crowd speaking in your head right now. (echoing) "Stay with us. Stay, stay, stay here-- Stay here, here, here, here-- No, no, no--"

AIMEE: It's just all too much. I think she really feels the weight of all the people left behind, all the souls that are just aimless, not pinned down, or maybe they are pinned down, but not at peace. It's just too much.

LIAM: It also reminds you of those first hours after the event when you crawled out of your destroyed home. At different places in town, you saw people's silhouettes scorched into the side of walls, like shadows painted there forever.

AIMEE: Yeah. It's just so very overwhelming.

IMARI: What are you sensing, Grimoria?

AIMEE: They have nowhere to go. These souls, they're just stuck here. It's so depressing.

LIAM: Almost, Edgar, as if your sister had been pinned to one place. You begin to move towards the next rope ladder to climb down. There's a bit more gear and a crate, actually. Leo, as you pass away from the tents back towards the next means of climbing down, and you see a logo on one of the bags here that is a very old and outdated logo of the Steedwell empire.

IMARI: Oh, wow.

LIAM: Faded and dead.

TALIESIN: I'm going to very gently get a little closer.

IMARI: I'm going to fall behind.

TALIESIN: Take a look.

LIAM: Sure. You've seen these preserved and clean and kept well in-- The family home has a bit of a museum in it of some of their contributions to Newfaire society over the years. You've seen clothing and coats on mannequins. Here is one of your family's products from a past decade, just moldering in the dark.

TALIESIN: I want to touch it. I don't think I--

LIAM: You hear a--

TALIESIN: I don't think I will, but I was hoping to maybe see, just peek to see if perhaps it was open, but not touch.

LIAM: The bag?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I just--

LIAM: You reach your hand, and your thumb runs down along the fabric of it, and you hear (soft ticking).

TALIESIN: I jump back.

LIAM: (soft ticking continues) That sound follows you down the next rope ladder, and the next 40 stairs, 50 stairs, 60. Eventually you reach the 72nd stair, and Alessandra gathers you all together. "Are you all good? Do you need to take a break or rest?

ALEXANDER: (sighs)

LIAM: "We're about halfway."

AIMEE: Oh my--

IMARI: Halfway.

AIMEE: I thought you said it was quick.

TALIESIN: (laughs)

IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: "Well, we're almost done with the stairs."

ALEXANDER: Yes, halfway to the vault, you mean. Not necessarily-- okay.

LIAM: "Yes, yes, yes. We're going to be taking a shortcut."

ALEXANDER: If we were halfway down, then we'd be reaching the center of the earth before--

LIAM: "(laughs) I don't know. But you will want to see this. Come."


LIAM: "Yes?"

TALIESIN: Is it appropriate? I pull out the bleed detector. Is it appropriate to use something like this down here or does it become a problem?

LIAM: "I use those."


IMARI: I still trust hers.

TALIESIN: Well, I thought you would appreciate the occasional checkup.

IMARI: Oh, I love the checkup. Always.

TALIESIN: I do a quick bleed detect on you.


IMARI: Ah, love it. Good.

LIAM: (laughs) It's faint.

TALIESIN: But holding?

LIAM: It's faint, but it is there.

IMARI: (sighs)

TALIESIN: I'll keep checking.

LIAM: Meaning you are reading--

IMARI: How bad is it?

LIAM: -- a faint bit of bleed.

TALIESIN: Just a touch, just the slightest touch.

IMARI: You let me know if it gets any larger, will you?

TALIESIN: I will. Also, I should add, what on earth am I going to do about it if it does? (laughs)

IMARI: Take this rifle off my back and do what you have to do.

TALIESIN: Oh, if--

ALEXANDER: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I will be very impressed if I pull that off.

LIAM: "The next stair is a little different." She walks you over to the edge, and weirdly, you don't see a drop off. You do see the edge of stone, but you see leaves, the tops of trees poking up above the height of that step. Nonsensically, as you hold your lanterns out, you realize you're looking at the edge of a forest growing down here.

IMARI: It's magnificent.

LIAM: "This is the Great Landing. Come on." She doesn't seem particularly perturbed, and she heads down the next rope ladder. "This one stretches on, it does keep going down, although we've never gone further than here down the stairs. We're going over that way." She begins to lead you, her lantern moving between trees in a forest, somehow growing roots digging into stone. You can see soil splitting up, somehow giving them purchase.

ALEXANDER: That's odd. Wild.

LIAM: She pushes through and goes much farther than the length of the stairs that you have visited prior and spent the last one to two hours descending. She moves all the way across it, moving through this wood down here, and comes up on a large crevice in the wall over here. Somehow this built wall, this stone wall has broken, and there are cracks going down into the floor. In fact, you can follow those cracks down under the trees. She says, "Best we can figure, at some point, there was some sort of shift down here and a break. I said shortcut, we are going to be passing through what we think used to be solid. It's not anymore, but this isn't the actual entrance to this place. The actual entrance is way on the other side and also collapsed. So, happy accident. But follow me."

ALEXANDER: Do we know what circle found this?

LIAM: "You would have to ask Zora."

ALEXANDER: It's fine, I was just--

LIAM: "We were assigned here."

ALEXANDER: -- didn't know if you knew them or if anything happened to them.

LIAM: "Well, the story is that they found this crevice, but nobody wanted to go into it for years, and then eventually it happened. And they found my office."

ALEXANDER: Yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: Yeah, do we know the name of the circle whose tents those were?

LIAM: "I don't even know if that was a circle. Those have been there at least the last 40 years."


LIAM: "The way I hear it." She pushes in and steps through this large V in the wall. Soon, you are moving through cave space in here, with large hunks of stone that look broken from the cave roof above. But eventually, it opens more and you're able to dip your head, especially you two, to not smack your head on something. The lanterns throwing shadow on the stone around in here. Then you have to bend down a little bit more, and then a little bit more, and soon it is uncomfortable for you two. You've got one hand on the ground, like Gregory, and you're half crawling, you can kind of be up. She looks back to you and says, "I'm going to keep my lantern up, you might have more luck here if you stow yours and just follow."


LIAM: "But everybody, you do you." She begins to move through, and you see her lie on her stomach and she begins to drag herself through this thin, flattened-out crack. She looks like she is navigating with purpose, very little hesitation. It looks like she knows what she's doing, because she's been here before. "Follow where I go." Who wants to go after Professor Gregory?

IMARI: I'll go.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: Last words, last deed. (laughs)

LIAM: Soldier right into the trenches.

AIMEE: Mm-hmm.

IMARI: Into the trenches we go.

LIAM: You start to drag your body through, following behind Gregory, with her light dragging (stone scraping) as you go. It just gets tighter and tighter. You reach a point where it doesn't look like you should be able to fit through there. She does, but she's smaller. But there was a really big woman in the photo you saw, and you push through.

IMARI: (strains)

LIAM: You're moving, but it is a slow drag. There is a moment where you think: I don't think that I can go forward and I don't think that I can go back. Let's take a brain as you begin to feel the claustrophobia of where you are. Make a Move roll for me.

IMARI: I'm going to burn a drive on that.

LIAM: Okay. You're jammed in place.

AIMEE: You have the extra Train, too.

LIAM: You feel stone pressing into your ribs in two places right now.

IMARI: All right, let's do-- That's two, that's one with gild, that's right, three with the gilded one. Five.

LIAM: Five.

IMARI: I'll take that with that one.

AIMEE: That was close.

IMARI: Yeah, yeah, it--


AIMEE: Don't take that one.

IMARI: (laughing) Yeah.

LIAM: Okay. You begin to pull yourself through, and you can feel your healing knife wound begin to drag against stony surface.

IMARI: (groans)

LIAM: You are worried that you're going to tear this open. You are worried you are going to hurt yourself real bad in here. You manage to rotate slightly and get that wound away from whatever element is doing the damage and slide through about five inches suddenly.

IMARI: (grunts)

LIAM: Yeah, it's a mixed success. Let's take another brain. You are worried that you are going to start to bleed out down here in the bottom of the world, Malcolm. It starts to widen a little bit, and you follow after her. The light source is traveling away. Who's following Malcolm?

TALIESIN: Do you want to go?

AIMEE: I guess I would.

LIAM: Okay.

ALEXANDER: I can go last.

TALIESIN: All right.

LIAM: You follow where Malcolm went. Thankfully, you are nowhere near as large, but as you drag yourself in here, you also start to feel an overwhelming sense of closed oppression here. You close your eyes to block it all out, and you can see around you the cellar that you shoved yourself into, the day your mother shoved you into the cellar and you were pressed amongst barrels underneath the family home. She told you to stay, she told you to stay quiet. You were there for days, jammed in there. Make a Move roll.

AIMEE: Oh, thank god, it's a gilded one. I mean, I'm going to spend a drive. Let's see. Oh, that's-- Yeah. Four.

LIAM: Four?

IMARI: Get your drive back.

AIMEE: Eh, get it back.


IMARI: (laughs)

AIMEE: I get it back.

LIAM: You breathe and ignore the whispers rising in your ears, like the sound of leaves in a storm flitting around each other along the street, and move through. You're smaller, so you're able to scrabble all the way through, in behind Malcolm.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: But for a mixed success, you'll take one brain.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: Which I believe is three for you now, yes?

AIMEE: I got a stitch.

LIAM: You stitched?

AIMEE: Or not a stitch. Yes, stitch.

LIAM: Yes, you're a blank slate.

AIMEE: (sighs)

LIAM: Yes.


ALEXANDER: Going to have to work harder. (laughs)

IMARI: (laughs) He's like: Damn it.

LIAM: All right. Who's next?

TALIESIN: (sighs) Into the abyss we go. (exhales heavily) Yep, yeah, I'm climbing up.

LIAM: Okay. All right, you can feel your finer clothes dragging along stone and are not happy about it. You follow Grimoria into this dark passage, into this inky abyss, with just the bare bit of light shining through your friends to you. It's still with you, you can hear it bouncing off the rocks in here, too, so it's almost like three sources of it or four sources of it.

(soft ticking)

TALIESIN: Stop, stop, stop.

LIAM: Why don't you make--

TALIESIN: Oh, going to fuck with me, are you?

(soft laughter)

LIAM: Why don't you make a Sense roll?

TALIESIN: (sighs) All right. Let me try this. Why not? Ah, Candela.

LIAM: Candela.

AIMEE: (laughs) Finally, someone gets--

TALIESIN: (nervous noise)

AIMEE: It's been two minutes.

LIAM: You open your eyes wide in the dark and just listen and tick along with the clock, that clock that is following you. The light source is moving further ahead, you are on your own. You are in a church, in a room, on your back. You can't move. Your body is already still. You're watching your sister's feet run away from you out into the church proper. But you scrabble a bit of stone and dirt in your hand, squeeze as hard as you can, and you can feel the pain here in this moment. Leo, for all the trouble you're having, it's not real, it's not real. You know it is not real. For the first time in a long time, you are grateful to suddenly have silence. You scrape your way through, following Grimoria's path. In you go, Edgar. (sighs) You are tall, but lanky, and begin to drag through, one foot at a time. Everyone has stopped in here, so it can't be good. As you drag, you can feel your scars scraping along the stone wall of this place. Every foot of movement you take is a reminder, a reminder of your other half, gone and with you every day. Make a Move roll, please.

ALEXANDER: Spend a drive. Five, and I get my drive back.

LIAM: Five.


LIAM: You continue to drag along and you can't maneuver your body to get your side free of that damage, and you just scrape and scrape along, and by the time you get out, you don't wound yourself, but for a five, I will give you a brain.

ALEXANDER: (breaths shakily)

LIAM: As the loss of your sister is now raw and red under your clothes.

ALEXANDER: (fortifying breaths)

LIAM: Gregory helps you get up into a low crouch. "Come on, breathe. Breathe."

ALEXANDER: (intentional breaths) Thank you.

LIAM: "It was that bad for me the first five or six times I did it, too."

ALEXANDER: Well, it's a good thing I'll be doing it the second time, when we go out.

LIAM: She leads you forward and you guys, hunched, walk through this passage for another five minutes. You hear her voice say, "Wait, what?" She trots ahead a couple of steps ahead of you.

IMARI: Wait, wait, wait, we wait for her.

ALEXANDER: Shh, shh, shh, just wait.

LIAM: "I'm here, sorry. Shit." You guys come up behind her, she doesn't flee. She is looking at this thin, vertical gap in the wall between two walls of stone. The cavern comes to a pinch here that you're in and travels on, and it looks like somebody went at the stone here with a hammer or an axe or something. You can see what looks like a bored or drilled hole here, but just stone broken away from it. "Shit, I don't know. Shit, normally there's a rope. We normally have a rope here."

AIMEE: Did one of us grab a rope?

IMARI: One of us had a rope in their pack.

LIAM: "Well, I have a rope, but--"

ALEXANDER: It's not secured.

LIAM: "It's not that easy. There used to be a spike here with a rope tied to it going to the other side."

TALIESIN: What happened to the spike?

LIAM: "I don't know."

AIMEE: Are we going up or down?

LIAM: "Across."


TALIESIN: Oh, oof.

LIAM: "Okay, okay, okay, okay. I've done this so many times, it's fine. It's fine, here, tell you what we'll do. Big man, come here." She takes a rope out of her pack and hands it to you. "Wrap this around your hand, please. Hold on tight." She lets it all out onto the stone floor here and she ties it around her waist, and she crawls into this space, which is this far across stone wall and stone wall. Ground is right there below it. She wedges her feet. She presses her back up one side and pushes her feet to the other and she's just suspended there. "I'm going to do this here so you can see how it works. Get a lantern over here, okay?"

TALIESIN: All right.

LIAM: "Watch where I go because you're going to want to do what I do."


LIAM: "Okay? It's just leg muscles." She begins to slide her back, and slide her back, and she's using that oppositional force to move through She's got a lantern ringed and hanging from her belt as she moves, so you can see the stone floor beneath her start to--


LIAM: -- drop and give way. The further she goes, you can see that it spills out into nothing--


LIAM: -- after seven or eight feet. She keeps going, pressing in this, what is like, if anyone's ever gone hiking in Utah--

AIMEE: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

LIAM: -- slot canyons, except there's-- This is one you don't want to do this with.

ALEXANDER: (laughs)

LIAM: She moves her way across and then she starts to dip down actually a little bit. She's maneuvering her body and her legs tighten up a bit, and then she starts to angle up. So it's like she did a loose V down and then up, and you can see her traveling about 30 to 40 feet away from you guys. You can see in the distance there is a metal spike rammed into the stone there and--

IMARI: I'm still holding on the rope.

LIAM: Yes, so that rope is trailing out.

IMARI: In case she falls, I'm the one who's going to be anchored down to hold her.

LIAM: Yes.

IMARI: Okay.

LIAM: That's going to be a bad scene if that happens, but yes.

IMARI: Okay.

LIAM: Yes. She makes it across, and you hear her footfall drop onto stone all the way across there. You can see her lit now across this dark void. Your lantern's here, her lantern's there. She takes the rope off of her and she begins to tie it hard onto that metal spike.



LIAM: "There's a couple ways we could do this. You can't bring the rope with you or otherwise it's not there for the next, so. (sighs) You could tie yourselves together and come across and then I'll hold and we got this. But you saw where I went, right?"


TALIESIN: Oh, yes.

LIAM: "Okay."

IMARI: Oh man.

TALIESIN: Oh dear.

LIAM: Okay. Who's going to be the first on the charm bracelet of our circle?



IMARI: I'm the strongest.

TALIESIN: So you should probably go last.

IMARI: Am I going to be holding all of us? Are they getting anchored on me for strength and support or will it be like--

LIAM: Well hopefully, no one's going to be weighing on anybody, but you do maybe want to think about gravity and what happens when who falls where--

IMARI: One slips.

LIAM: -- in the worst case scenario.

ALEXANDER: So, just to be clear, you're holding one end of a rope that is going across. There is another that they have tied to the metal spike that is there.

LIAM: It's tied, yes.

ALEXANDER: So we just have the one rope coming over.

LIAM: Yes.

ALEXANDER: So in theory, we would all tie into this rope.


ALEXANDER: And go across.

TALIESIN: That's the thought.

ALEXANDER: Yes, so then order is important.

LIAM: You got another 60 feet on this thing.

ALEXANDER: I think you should go in the middle.


IMARI: Okay.


IMARI: Could be a balance.

ALEXANDER: So if you fall, at least all of us can hold you to a certain extent, that way you're not pulling us all down from one side. I don't know if that's accurate, that just in my brain makes sense. But if you're at the end, you are going to fall and cause the most centrifugal force to pull. If you can fall and we can be on two sides to hold you, you won't pull as much force.

IMARI: Sounds like a good plan to me.

ALEXANDER: You are the heaviest of us, not to insult you or anything, you just are.

LIAM: Okay, so the order--

ALEXANDER: I think it should be--

LIAM: -- will be--

ALEXANDER: You go first. Then you.

AIMEE: Mm-hmm.

ALEXANDER: Then you, then myself.

IMARI: All right.

TALIESIN: That makes sense. Right. Right, right, right.

LIAM: Okay. So you link yourselves all, tying a hook, a loop of rope around your waist. Leo, then Grimoria, I think you said, then Malcolm, then you, Edgar.

ALEXANDER: Don't give it too much slack between us. We need enough room to maneuver, obviously, but if there's too much slack and one of us falls, we'll pull too much force.

TALIESIN: Yes, yes, of course.

ALEXANDER: Give it about a foot and a half, two feet.

TALIESIN: If possible we'll let--

ALEXANDER: Take it slowly.

TALIESIN: -- Alessandra know to wrap the rope as we go, keep it as taut as possible, or if she can pull.

LIAM: Yes, mm-hmm. Yeah. Yes, that's a good call. Meaning as soon as rope is fed, it can be--


LIAM: -- tied on. Okay. Okay. Leo, you start to move across, and you can handle it okay in the beginning. Then Grimoria, you follow along, maybe a five or six foot distance.

IMARI: Okay, here we go.

LIAM: Then Malcolm, and you are still with your feet on the ground. So here we go. These are high stakes rolls--

AIMEE: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: -- right now. You can feel the barest bit of (gentle breeze) underneath you and under your legs. Leo, make a Move roll, please.

TALIESIN: I'm going to-- I'm going to burn a drive, and I think I'm going to use my extra die because, boy.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

IMARI and AIMEE: (laugh)

ALEXANDER: And we also, remember we have these in case.

TALIESIN: Those, just in the case.

AIMEE: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

TALIESIN: (grunts) I'm going to burn a resistance.

AIMEE: Yep. (laughs)

IMARI: Oh, Leo.

TALIESIN: I only get to roll what I have.

ALEXANDER: Yeah, base roll. Yeah.

IMARI: Baby.

TALIESIN: That was rough. Nope.


TALIESIN: Very bad, I rolled a one.


TALIESIN: But I got my drive back.


AIMEE: There's that!

LIAM: So one of you on the ground, feet on ground, three of you moving across. Leo, you maneuver your way down in the direction she did, and as you move up the slot canyon, the two sides of this tight space, it widens a little bit, so it's a little harder and you have to push your legs a little longer. You reach a certain point where your toe goes (grip slipping) and you feel yourself drop.


LIAM: Now, what happens?

IMARI: I'm already over the edge, of course. I'm going to move to hold. I'm going to move to anchor him before he falls, so I have to steady my body.

AIMEE: Grimoria.

AIMEE: Mm-hmm.

IMARI: Both begin to fall.

LIAM: I need you to make a Move roll right now.

AIMEE: Okay. I'm going to burn a drive.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

IMARI: Shit.

AIMEE: I think I'm going to use my-- Fuck, I don't know if that's smart. Yeah, I'm going to use my train.

LIAM: You feel the rope go taut between you and Professor Gregory as Leo drops.

ALEXANDER: One left.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah.

LIAM: You feel a yank so hard in your waist.

AIMEE: Five.

LIAM: Five. You are still in a portion of this terrible spot you're in where it is tighter, and you press with all of your small frame's strength to the point where you feel stone digging into your back it hurts so much.

AIMEE: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: Your feet scrape down the stone floor and you feel the rope wrench your waist and gut. You take a brain and a body.

AIMEE: Oh, you're just taking advantage now.

IMARI: (laughs)

AIMEE: Because I got a blank slate.

LIAM: You thought you were about to be dropped into a hole to nowhere.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: Leo, you are hanging suspended--

TALIESIN: (groans)

LIAM: -- between an iron spike and your diminutive friend, Grimoria. You take a brain as you dangle where you are.


ALEXANDER: All right everyone, slowly, we need to back up to lift him up to regain his footing. On three. One, two.

LIAM: Why don't you make a group Move roll. You can choose, Malcolm--

AIMEE: Who's got the highest?

IMARI: I have the highest in Move.

LIAM: -- or Edgar.

IMARI: -- I can burn two drives.

LIAM: Yes.

ALEXANDER: I only have one in Move, so.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: No, I have-- I can do, I have one, two, I can roll four die.

ALEXANDER: Don't burn everything, because--

IMARI: I won't. I still owe myself--

AIMEE: You want to use one of these?

IMARI: No, because I still owe myself one more, one more because I have Adrenaline Rush and I've taken two brain, so I filled up all my drives off of that. Well, first Adrenaline Rush, so with this one I spend I'll fill one again, so I'll only be spending one drive.

ALEXANDER: I don't think it stays. I think if it's full, it just fizzles.

IMARI: Oh, is that how it goes?


ALEXANDER: I don't think you can bank it off in the aether to just sit there.

IMARI: Okay, gotcha. Okay, well then, I'm going to, either way I'm going to burn two drives.

LIAM: Okay.

ALEXANDER: So then we all add a--

IMARI: So I'm going to get four.

LIAM: If you help, if you're aiding, which you are with your body, then you can add a drive.

IMARI: I have four, I have four die.

LIAM: Four die?

IMARI: Yeah. I think I'm good.


IMARI: Oh. Five on gilded.

LIAM: Five on gilded.

TALIESIN: Not bad.

AIMEE: That's pretty good. That's almost a Candela.

IMARI: Boom! I get to replenish that shit.

AIMEE: Pretty good!

IMARI: Then I'll replenish this drive. Actually, leave the drive because I didn't erase it.

AIMEE: Pretty good.

LIAM: So you're on the end. You start backing up and--

IMARI: (laughs)

AIMEE: I was like, that's good.

IMARI: You're like, "God, please."

LIAM: Leo is dangling and bouncing in this spot like a marionette, that you're in. It is hard, what you are doing. You are dragging this whole line back. You do have Edgar pulling on the rope, but you are the one using your waist and core. You can feel the wound in your ribs screaming as you drag them back.

IMARI: I feel a body coming on.

LIAM: Actually, no, I think you're going to take a brain.

IMARI: (groans) Then I have a scar. Oh wait, it's three?

AIMEE: Oh, then you're out.

TALIESIN: It's at four.

IMARI: It's four, okay.

LIAM: Four.

AIMEE: Okay.

ALEXANDER: Oh, don't go out.

LIAM: But you raise Leo up to the point where you have your feet in there again. Now, I'm not going to make you roll Move again. You are raised to a point where your feet catch and you're good and you start to drag your way up and you join as the train moves back. Grimoria, we've got three, we've got one across. Leo is standing on the other side.

ALEXANDER: We've got it. It's all right, everybody. We have this, we can do it.

TALIESIN: Hold everything.

AIMEE: So I have to do another roll? No, sorry, what'd you say? I mean, I'm not talking myself into another roll.

LIAM: No, I think that between--

AIMEE: I'm going to start the bargaining phase of this.

LIAM: No, bargaining's fine.

AIMEE: It's the grief process that's happening here.

LIAM: Bargaining's fine. I think that with Leo's help and your size and the gentlemen's size, that now that Leo has made it across, there is enough manpower to help you finish the distance, but that gets Malcolm moving and Edgar behind.

AIMEE: I mean, I know it's not much, but I will assist in whatever way the three of them, so hopefully that'll help my puny little--

IMARI: Every ounce helps.

AIMEE: Thank you, guys. I know.

IMARI: Stronger, small but mighty.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: Okay, but you, with your size, and the stitch in your side, I will want you to make a Move. Roll again as you travel.

IMARI: I'm going to burn a drive.

LIAM: You moved all the way back to the beginning and have to start over.

IMARI: I'm going to burn and drive on that. I'm going to run three. ♪ Ah tah tah tah ♪ tah tah tah ♪

TALIESIN: I was going to say he's pretty solid for this one.

AIMEE: Yeah?

IMARI: Yeah.

AIMEE: Let us know if you need.

IMARI: I will.

TALIESIN: Because we'll know.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: I am scared to death for you.

IMARI: Well, in that case, I will burn another drive.



AIMEE: Are you sure you don't want help?

IMARI: Yeah, no. I want you guys--

LIAM: Is it six? How many dice do you have in your hand?

IMARI: I have four die.

LIAM: Four die.

IMARI: I know, I want you guys to keep your, I want you guys to keep it because we're going to need it. We're going to need it. You guys need to keep your drives. I can replenish mine off of Adrenaline Rush. I'm fine.


IMARI: Candela.

TALIESIN: That's good because I saw the other thing.

LIAM: I saw the other two from here.

IMARI: I also had a five. I would've been good.

ALEXANDER: I have a hypothesis you've done something terrible in your life to deserve this.


ALEXANDER: Somehow you did something terrible just to get good rolls.

LIAM: So Malcolm, I mean, this is what you do. You are 200 pushups a day, every day, right next to the bed and you--

IMARI: I take pride in this body, I eat efficiently, I eat clean.

AIMEE: "I eat clean." Clean and mutton.

LIAM: I eat Candela for breakfast. You begin to press your way across and you do not have the same problem that Leo and Grimoria have of that widening out because of your size, your height, but you have to follow up, following behind Malcolm.

AIMEE: How you doing?


LIAM: Oh, yes.

AIMEE: What you got? You need help?

ALEXANDER: I'm good, I have three.

AIMEE: Okay.

IMARI: What we got, baby?


IMARI: Oh, baby.

LIAM: Four.


IMARI: I feel a brain and a body coming on.

AIMEE: Shh! Don't give him ideas! Maybe if we don't think it, he won't know.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: It's always worse that, like, it feels your thoughts.

LIAM: Yeah.


IMARI: He reads our thoughts.

LIAM: Here. Here we go.


LIAM: You start to move across. And Edgar, you follow behind, placing your feet as you go. Your ribs are still searing from the past 10 minutes.


LIAM: And your legs are shaking, but your back just burns as you move. You are ignoring it and ignoring it and ignoring it. You think, "Ah, if I just shift," and then you feel your whole backside start to slide down, and you swing, losing your grip.

ALEXANDER: (gasps)

LIAM: Swing beneath Malcolm, who holds like a fulcrum. You go swinging and you feel (thudding)

ALEXANDER: (grunts)

LIAM: And go black.


AIMEE: So he's out?


AIMEE: Fuck. Or let's pull.

ALEXANDER: Oh my god.

IMARI: I'm going to pull him up immediately.

AIMEE: Well, we all help.

TALIESIN: We all help pull him up.

AIMEE: I mean--

LIAM: That's plenty of people. You begin to drag and drag.

AIMEE: Crap.

IMARI: Steady arms, steady arms. Steady!

LIAM: Edgar's limp body gets pulled up and over, and there is-- Some skin on his forehead is broken and flapped away a little bit and he is bleeding down his face.

IMARI: I want to check a pack immediately. Just from me being in the field, I know that could either be a concussion or it can seep out and cause further infection. I want to bind that wound immediately. I want to try to find a gauze or something inside the bag.

LIAM: Sure, sure.

TALIESIN: He'll have something in this kit.

LIAM: Yeah. You rifle through his bag. What I'd like you to do right now is make a Control.

AIMEE: Shoot, I have nothing in Control.

IMARI: Ugh, god.

TALIESIN: Where's Control? Yeah, I got nothing.

IMARI: I'll burn a drive.

ALEXANDER: Oh good. Every one counts.

TALIESIN: Let me give you an extra drive for that.

AIMEE: Sorry.

IMARI: Yeah?

TALIESIN: Yeah. I'm going to assist. I'm going to give a drive.

ALEXANDER: Wait, you nothing in Control?

IMARI: I have one. I have one. No, I have two dies.

AIMEE: Can this bring him back, though, or no? I'm just saying here, if this is just how good we bandage him up.

IMARI: Is that two die?


IMARI: If I have one--

TALIESIN: That's one die.

IMARI: That's one die. Right, okay.

TALIESIN: I'm giving you drive, so that's two die.

ALEXANDER: I thought you were the gun guy.

AIMEE: Wait, but do you guys hear what I'm saying? Is this high stakes?

LIAM: This is not high stakes.

AIMEE: Oh, yeah. That's why I was like--

LIAM: This is not high stakes.

AIMEE: Because if this is just how well we--

LIAM: That's a good reminder. Yeah.

AIMEE: You know.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'll hold.

IMARI: Hold your drive, then. Okay, well then, I'll just roll. I'll just roll.

LIAM: Yes.

IMARI: I'm going to roll this one little die. Edgar.

AIMEE: If anyone can do it, it's you.

IMARI: I'm coming for you, Edgar!

ALEXANDER: I feel like you're supposed to be better at this.

AIMEE: Don't--

LIAM: You hear him in your head.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

IMARI: I'm like-- (laughs).


IMARI: Five.

AIMEE: Five! That's still pretty good, you guys!

IMARI: I find a dirtied bandage. It was used before.


ALEXANDER: Thank you.

AIMEE: Where do you even have that dirty bandage?


AIMEE: It's like a tampon, just--

ALEXANDER: So you rifle through Edgar's bag and you pull out some bandage and you get it wrapped around him tight. You've seen this man work for a long time and you've picked up the barest notion of how to tend to wounds. A minute or two later, everyone gathered around him on the ground, his eyes flutter awake.

ALEXANDER: (quick inhale)

AIMEE: Maybe some smelling salts.

LIAM: Jolts up your nose and--

ALEXANDER: (grunting)

LIAM: Sharpens you even further.

ALEXANDER: Not necessary.

IMARI: Welcome back to the land of the living. Looks like we got to patch you up this time, huh, old boy?

TALIESIN: I really thought it was going to be me that got knocked out.

LIAM: Edgar, you're having a little trouble seeing. There's blood in your eye.

IMARI: Take your time. I want to try to wipe that out for him.

LIAM: Okay.

ALEXANDER: ("wait" noises) Just give me a second. Don't touch me.

LIAM: Mm. Vision is a little not right. It's a little blurred. "How are you, doc? You all right?"

ALEXANDER: Well, I assume this means I'm alive.

LIAM: "You're alive."

ALEXANDER: Okay, then I'm serviceable.

LIAM: "We could stop here. We could wait."

ALEXANDER: Just a minute, just give me a minute.

LIAM: "Okay."

ALEXANDER: (heavy exhale)

LIAM: "There's been a taut rope there for over a year and we just hook it and move across."

TALIESIN: Someone undid it.

LIAM: "Yeah."

TALIESIN: Why would they do that?

ALEXANDER: (creepily whispers) I don't know. (normally) The spike wasn't there.

TALIESIN: The rope wasn't dangling.

ALEXANDER: Is it dangling on this side?

LIAM: "Yeah."

ALEXANDER: (whispers) Okay.

LIAM: "Looks like somebody--"

ALEXANDER: Ripped it up.

LIAM: "Missed it on the way out. Or-- I don't know."

AIMEE: Can we, I don't know, shine our lanterns to see if there's a body down there? Somebody that may--

LIAM: It's--

AIMEE: Too deep?

LIAM: -- too deep.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: Okay.

ALEXANDER: Look, I don't want to be grim. Maybe we should pull the rope up. The one that was dangling.

LIAM: "Sure. Save it for us."

ALEXANDER: (whispers) Yeah.

LIAM: Okay, so you guys get it all in a loop, and bring with? Leave here?

ALEXANDER: I mean, the original rope, was that wholly gone?

LIAM: Yeah, mostly. It was like a foot or two.

ALEXANDER: Okay, so it was cut?

LIAM: Yeah. Well, there was a frazzled bit of rope on that side.

ALEXANDER: Yes, okay.

AIMEE: We should definitely take it with us in case we need another.

ALEXANDER: Yes, take our rope.

LIAM: "Your rope, yes."

TALIESIN: Yes. That's a good idea.

ALEXANDER: I'm having trouble seeing out of this eye where I hit my head, on the left side.

LIAM: Right.

ALEXANDER: I keep seeing... I feel like I keep seeing movement and it keeps catching right at the corner of my eye and I'm having a hard time. I keep seeing shadows move and I can't tell if it's just here or if it's physical, but--

LIAM: If it's real. If you wish it were true.


LIAM: At this point, you would move one of your points. This is your second scar.


TALIESIN: I'm going to have a quick check to Malcolm really quickly to see--

ALEXANDER: I'm moving one out of Read as my vision's not as--

LIAM: Right from Read to?

AIMEE: To Move.


ALEXANDER: I think it will go to... Yeah, you know, Move is applicable.

LIAM: Leo, as you pull out your detector again, you are maybe imagining it, but you can't help but wonder if it's a little stronger.

AIMEE: Can I sense anything specific?

LIAM: Sure. You can do Sense.

AIMEE: Anything useful, I don't know.

LIAM: Toward Malcolm, you mean, yeah?

TALIESIN: Or in general?

AIMEE: Yes. Well, I don't know if that'll give me any more information. Or maybe just general. How about a general sense of danger? Maybe if there's something lurking, or--

LIAM: You're trying to figure out what specifically? In the story.

AIMEE: In the story, I guess I'm trying to sense if something magickal nefarious has happened to block our path, you know?

LIAM: So not related to Malcolm, but where you are?

AIMEE: No, because he's, I mean, I don't know what I would learn from that.

LIAM: Okay.

AIMEE: Yeah, just--

LIAM: Sure.

AIMEE: -- to see if there's anything specific.

LIAM: Well, then you would use Sense still here, too.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

AIMEE: Oh, well. Hold on. Do that again. That was a five, though, but-- Another five on the gilded.

LIAM: Five.


AIMEE: Yeah.

IMARI: I like that.

LIAM: You are in tuned with ancient remnants of the past, and it's not close, you can't place it yet, but you can feel yourself in the presence of that feeling in your gut and in your heart when you are picking up the 50th thing Mr. Fogg has given you.

AIMEE: Mm-hmm.

LIAM: This one has ties. This one is real. Gregory looks to you, says, "If you're all right to go, we're getting close."


LIAM: "Can you walk, doc?"

ALEXANDER: I can. I'm fine. I just-- I'll have to get a new pair of glasses.

LIAM: "Okay. Here. Why don't you come with me?" She loops her arm up under yours and walks you down the path of this cavern, which widens and closes again and widens. But thankfully nothing is hellish as the last half hour. Eventually, you find yourself spilling out over piles of stone and into flat ground.

AIMEE: Thank god.

LIAM: And turn around and see that you're crawling out of a cave-in in some sort of structure. You're in a building somehow. She said-- Gregory says, "Okay, start looking around. This is the place. This is where we spend our time. You can see in there," and she points into, there's a room with two doors opened only about 30 or 40 feet away. The doors have a golden sheen to them and they have lines, curving lines etched into them. "This is the first thing that we pulled. That was the mask that we pulled out of here of Ardos. Took us like two or three weeks to get in and then one month to figure out what to do with it. Anyway, I'm not here to give you a tour per se. We should start looking around," and as she moves a little further into this space, you can see that you're on the corner of this building, and there's a hall going off down this way and a hall going down off that way. This way, there are a few more rooms in that direction where you can see doors open, but past that are many more sealed doors down the hall. It is eerily reminiscent of the Fourth Pharos for a moment, although nothing is spiraling in your vision. Maybe in yours, Edgar.

AIMEE: (laughs)

IMARI: Oh, shit.

LIAM: She moves through. You guys follow her because she's the one who knows what's up in here. She looks into one room and you guys follow in and it's empty. She looks into the next. She shakes her head. You get to the-- She crosses to the other side of this hallway and looks into a doorway here, and you actually see there is a pedestal in here like there have been in the past few, but those pedestals were empty. This one has a large, by lantern light you can see a white and pinkish conch shell about this large sitting on this thing and you can see a black stone, glimmering, glinting from the light of the lantern that she holds up. She looks around, "Shit, shit, shit!"

AIMEE: Professor Gregory, are we looking for your team?

LIAM: (emphatically) "Yes!"

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: (desperately) "Yes."

IMARI: This is where they're supposed to be? They're supposed to be here?

LIAM: "Well, this is the last place that I saw them. This is the last place that we were all together."

TALIESIN: Well, let's take a second. I don't know how this necessarily-- This place is filthy. Wouldn't there be--

ALEXANDER: Footprints?

TALIESIN: -- footprints of some kind to touch?

LIAM: That would for sure make sense. Make a Survey roll.

TALIESIN: Oh, right. I'll make a Survey roll. Well, I'll even-- Yeah.

AIMEE: Sure?

TALIESIN: No, I will not.

AIMEE: Don't do it. (laughs)


AIMEE: Sorry. Like, "Really, no!"

TALIESIN: Yeah, no.

LIAM: Looking for footprints is low stakes.

AIMEE: Footprints in the sand.

LIAM: For your health.


AIMEE: All right!

IMARI: Trying to find the line.

LIAM: Five. Well, you can see Gregory's fresh footprints in the dust down here. That's pretty easy to see, but you do see prints moving around. Lots of them. You take a few minutes. She looks like she wants to start running around, but she holds.


LIAM: You guys watch as Leo with his hands behind his back is looking down in the lantern light that you guys supply. You begin to follow a couple sets of tracks off down the long hallway that you were headed. Do we follow these?

IMARI: Yeah.


LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: Well, I want to first, before we do that, I want to take out my, I want to activate my bleed detector on my hand and see if I get any kind of sense.

LIAM: Your hand, as soon as you access the detector, your hand begins to glow a very, very bright color from it.

IMARI: Is this towards the footprints that we're walking towards?

LIAM: Not the footprints. Well, not that you can tell.

IMARI: Right. Just all around.

LIAM: Perhaps you're walking between doors, and behind the previous doors were things that Candela came here for to lock away. So it is a safe bet to think that behind every door in here of this vault that they believe belonged to Emperor Calinus 2,000 years ago, that there are things that are going to set off your detector for bleed. So by the light of the lanterns and the light radiating off the back of your hand, you guys follow Leo as he does seem to have a bead on a pair of tracks. They get messed every once in a while as older tracks cross through them, but you're following one specific shoe tread and you take a right and take a left. Gregory starts muttering herself as you go. "We should not be going this deep in. It's against protocol." But she falls in next to you, Leo, and can't deny that you're onto something and you guys continue down, take a right, and then go down a set of steps, maybe 30 or 40 stairs--

AIMEE: Ah, I'm drowning!

LIAM: -- and walk forward. Down here, there are no other tracks.

AIMEE: So it just disappears?

LIAM: No, I'm sorry. I wasn't clear. There are five sets of tracks here, whereas previously there was many and you were trying to find the freshest in the mess. But you leave that behind and you are following five sets of footsteps moving.

AIMEE: I think we're missing four people.

LIAM: There is also one set of tracks coming out.

IMARI: Oh shit.


IMARI: Oh man, I have a sense of what those tracks belong to.


IMARI: Look. I mean, to myself, I'm thinking, I'm like, I'm going through my brain and I'm thinking, I'm looking at the tracks because, I mean, I do know how to read tracks since I've been special military unit. I'm aware of how tracks are spread, but then I notice the tracks going out and I have an eerie suspicion that those tracks might belong to Decklan.

TALIESIN: What kind of shoes? How big?

LIAM: Oh, then you would have to do a Focus roll for that one.

IMARI: I'll Focus roll it.

LIAM: That's a low stakes roll.

TALIESIN: I've got it, my Focus is a little better.

IMARI: Okay.

TALIESIN: I have a theory. Four. Double fours. So four.

LIAM: Double fours.

TALIESIN: I'm just curious if it's--

LIAM: You're focusing on the prints leaving?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I'm trying to get a sense if I think it's the right size for Alessandra, or Decklan, or someone else.

LIAM: Well, they're not her size. She has pretty petite feet, comparatively.

TALIESIN: Just checking.

LIAM: He did like to wear work boots, and-- You think that's what these are. They line up to Decklan's size. They look older, the prints, than the ones that are left on the right.

AIMEE: Sorry, just for clarity, the trail ends, is that what you're saying? Or we just noticed the other pair and then we're like, "Oh, okay."

LIAM: They're continuing around one more corner.

AIMEE: I think we should go. I think we should--

LIAM: You can see past that corner, more stairs going up. So perhaps two sets of stairs meet here in the middle, or maybe that goes somewhere else entirely. But the tracks bend around the corner.

TALIESIN: He didn't say anything.


TALIESIN: I mean, he left.

AIMEE: No, yeah.

TALIESIN: Others didn't.

ALEXANDER: It doesn't help us to jump to conclusions. Let's just wait 'til we find evidence of anything.

TALIESIN: We just don't want to become evidence of anything.

ALEXANDER: I understand, but getting bent out of shape is not going help anybody.

IMARI: Can I roll a Survey roll?

LIAM: Yeah.

IMARI: I'm going to roll a Survey roll.

LIAM: Searching for?

IMARI: I just want to further investigate the tracks.

LIAM: Do you want to follow the tracks? Because you don't need a Survey roll for that.

IMARI: Well, no, I want to, just the tracks leaving. I want to see if I could see anything else that might be, I mean, you got a four, right?

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

IMARI: So I would need to get something better.

LIAM: It's low stakes.

IMARI: Well, I won't see shit.


LIAM: Yeah.

AIMEE: Sees nothing.

LIAM: You look over, you place a hand on Leo's shoulder and you stare at them and you can't tell--

AIMEE: Delaying the inevitable here.

LIAM: But Leo--

AIMEE: We're trying.

AIMEE: Leo, his grip on your shoulder's a little tighter than is necessary in that moment.

TALIESIN: How are you feeling?


TALIESIN: How are you feeling? I gently put my hand on the grip.

IMARI: Feeling good. I'm good.

TALIESIN: Perhaps too good?

IMARI: (sighs) I'm good.


IMARI: I think we should follow the track.


IMARI: I'll lead the way.

TALIESIN: Okay. Keep talking if you need to. Don't pretend you're better than you are.

IMARI: Feeling slight pressure on my scar right here. It's like, I have a, the burning's always been there in my eye, but now it's almost like a migraine, but it's a little bit on the frontal lobe and it's just sort of-- I can feel it pressing on my scar.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: But it's not constant, kind of pulses every now and then.

LIAM: Malcolm leads the way and you turn the corner and see about 60 or 70 feet down a hallway. Large golden doors, 40 feet high in here, and one of them is cracked open. Through the light that is being thrown by your lanterns down that hallway, you think you can see a hand on the ground.

AIMEE: Like (hand clunks) that?

AIMEE and IMARI: (quiet chuckle)

LIAM: Yeah.

AIMEE: Oh shit.

IMARI: Okay. In the doorway.

LIAM: Past the doorway.

IMARI: Past the doorway.

LIAM: Just barely alit by from this distance.

TALIESIN: Don't suppose we can just say we found them, get on our way.

ALEXANDER: I have to see if they're okay.

IMARI: We're going to have to do the hard work. Let me do-- I'm going to drop my pistol from my holster and I'm going to hold my lantern. I'm just going to be ready.

LIAM: Yeah.

AIMEE: I-I-I will grab my rifle.


LIAM: You've never used one before.

AIMEE: I've never used one, but I'm--

IMARI: I taught you in the yard before.

AIMEE: Oh yeah, okay.

IMARI: I let you shoot a few times.

AIMEE: I know how to pull the trigger.

IMARI: Not enough for you to be familiar with it.

AIMEE: Yeah, I'm not a sharpshooter.

ALEXANDER: I'm going to go check on the body.

LIAM: Okay, you guys move forward. Actually, she, Professor Gregory gets a little bit ahead of you, Malcolm, and she starts, (huffing) her breathing picks up. She runs in with her lantern and you hear, she breaks in just before you do. "Oh, no, no, no!"

ALEXANDER: Shh, shh, shh, wait, wait, wait, come back, come back, come back.

IMARI: Doctor.

LIAM: A sob escapes her chest and she chokes it and sinks into your body as you hold her in as you guys enter here and lamplight illuminates what looks like a crime scene.

AIMEE: Oh shit.

LIAM: The door opens into a large, round room, and for the location we're at, directly across, shadows thrown against it is a stone face carved into the far wall facing out here and it has got a look of revulsion on it. This is Oldfairen era, obviously, like everything else in here, you have seen sculpture from the time and it is quintessential. The hair on this face is almost like a wavy, what's the word? Like a Caesar cut, I guess, from Earth-One's terms, but the face is drawn back like it is seeing something horrific. That aside, the Circle of the Wyrm lies scattered about the room, all dead.

AIMEE: All of them?

LIAM: To the right, just inside the door. Let's do this, this will help you visualize. Even though the table's not the same shape, this table is the room and this, you two are at the door. The stone face is here. There is a body right about in front of where you are sitting, Malcolm, in the room, at about four or five o'clock, and this is MaryAnne DeWitt. This is the woman with the bob cut in the bomber jacket, which you see in here, and there are multiple puncture wounds in this jacket. She has been stabbed many times. She is lying with both hands. She's on her back and in one hand she holds a gun, a revolver, which is pointed 'til about 11 o'clock in the room, pointed towards a man who lies on the ground, Alonzo Whitlock, and he has a bullet wound in the back of his head and is splayed out off kilter from the center of the room.

IMARI: Is he holding a knife in his hand?

LIAM: He's not. He's not.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: Not that you see. So DeWitt has been stabbed near to the entrance and Alonzo Whitlock has been shot in the back of the head. At about the nine o'clock are two bodies close together. The large woman, Hilda, she has a bullet wound in her chest, and the man near her, Nestor Ronquillo, his throat has been cut, and Hilda does have a knife in her hand, so it is pretty obvious that she cut this man's throat for whatever reason and we've only, we see one gun in this room and it is in DeWitt's hand by the door.

ALEXANDER: I'm slowly doing my job, check the pulse on each one of them, knowing what I'm going to find.

LIAM: But you know what you're going to find. These bodies look like they've been laying here for a while.

AIMEE: Which one was their Medium? Nestor or--

LIAM: Alonzo, who is--

IMARI: That's good, yeah.

LIAM: Here at the front.

AIMEE: I think Grimoria would-- You said Nestor, sorry, or Alonzo?

LIAM: Alonzo Whitlock.

AIMEE: I would go to Alonzo, and I don't know, touch the body to see if I could, like if a Medium would leave a message for someone else, like some sort of trail, some sort of spiritual message.

LIAM: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

IMARI: That makes sense.

LIAM: Make a Sense roll for that, for sure.

ALEXANDER: You stay with what you're doing. Let's back up out of the room, everybody.

AIMEE: Five.

LIAM: Five. You place your hands on Alonzo. Close your eyes and reach for him in the way you know how, and he does feel close, but not here. It also feels different than any moment, any intersection you've ever had with a spirit. It feels muted somehow, but you know that it's near.

AIMEE: Muted like...

LIAM: Qualitative essence of a spirit. I'm not sure.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: It doesn't feel as present and visceral for some reason.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: She drops down next to him as well, Gregory, and she looks scared to touch him almost. She touches the edges of his hair for a second and then her hand on his face and she looks back at DeWitt by the door and she shuts her eyes to block it out. She pulls away, clutching herself there over his body. Leo, you notice off to the side by Hilda and Nestor's bodies. Now that you've been in here for a minute or two, there are thin grooves in a few places in the wall, some sort of design or architectural feature. You can see down on the ground, growing out of a crack in the wall, the seam where the wall meets the floor, there is a little splay of--

AIMEE: Oh no. Shit.

LIAM: -- white matter.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ALEXANDER: Yep. Back up.

LIAM: As you guys back up, you look to the professor who's staring at the statue with her back turned to you, and her head turns with a blank stare and her hand slides into the mouth of the statue. You hear (clanging). You hear the sound of metal go (sawing), and a glut of blood splurts out and runs down the wall. [floor splitting]

IMARI: Fuck!


LIAM: The floor beneath begins to lower. 20 feet, 30.

AIMEE: We got to get out of here.

LIAM: 50. You watch as the lip of the hallway you entered from rises ever upward above you. Your stomach lurches as you take a sudden drop. [bricks tumbling]

LIAM: But the platform catches and drops again, and then grinds to another stop. Some sort of resistance is slowing your descent, but all too soon, the momentum becomes too great and all of you start to plummet fast. [air howling, swooshing] [floor crashing] (panting) Before our story goes any further, let's take a moment to thank today's sponsor, Aura. Aura is an all in one platform that provides comprehensive digital safety for you and your entire family. We don't want you to have your identities out there for anyone to just find, so that's why we're giving you a free trial of Aura. Data Brokers sell your information to scammers, spammers, and anyone else who may want to target you. Cleaning up your information not only helps reduce the amount of spam you get, but also protects you from hackers who could use this information to help them access your social media accounts, bank accounts, or other sensitive information. Unfortunately, data breaches have become a regular occurrence online, but don't worry because Aura is always on, always doing the hard work of keeping you safe and alerting you if you're possibly in trouble. Protect your family from the online threats you can't see with Aura. Click the link in the description or head over to to start your two week free trial. Thank you Aura for sponsoring this episode. (creepy music)

Part II[edit source]

LIAM: Edgar.

ALEXANDER: (labored breathing)

LIAM: You shift in place on a broken stone floor, your head ringing, bits of dust raining down from higher up in this shaft as you open your eyes in the darkness. Your vision is a blur. Your mind is a blur. Before we proceed any further, a bit of housekeeping. Everyone at the table takes three body.

AIMEE: Well, I'm out.

TALIESIN: Well, you're not taking it now. You took it.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: So what that means, if you took a scar from plummeting down-- I'm so on edge, you guys. Plummeting down this shaft and striking the bottom, you take a scar, carry those three body through, and we'll get to you in a moment. Just keep track of where you are with scars and marks. Remember, if those bodies carry to a scar, any remaining body move through to the next.

TALIESIN: So you should be one lower than you were.

LIAM: You push yourself up on one arm, look around you, and start to try and get your bearings. You are sitting, it almost feels like a slide. The floor you're on is on an angle, and down at the bottom of this angle, you see your three friends in a bloody heap.

ALEXANDER: Okay. Okay.

LIAM: Off to the side, you see Dr. Alessandra Gregory, her face split open on a stone--

AIMEE: (despairing sigh)

LIAM: -- her body face down, limp--


LIAM: -- and very dead. As your vision comes into clarity here, you realize, somehow you can see, even though no lanterns at the moment are burning. It is very, very pale, dim lighting, and you can see up behind you, up this stone ramp and a five- or six-foot crawl up is a hall, and all along the arched roof of that hall that you can see from where you are has fingers of white fungal growth spreading down.

ALEXANDER: Oh shit. Okay, okay, okay.

LIAM: What do you do?

ALEXANDER: So they are all down a slide from where I am.

LIAM: Not moving, akimbo, half piled on each other.

ALEXANDER: Can any of you hear me? Are any of you awake?

LIAM: Leo.

TALIESIN: (groans)

LIAM: You hear a voice in the back of your head.


TALIESIN: That depends. Am I unconscious?

ALEXANDER: Okay, stay very still. I'm coming to get you.

TALIESIN: Oh no. No, no, no.

ALEXANDER: I'm going to try and slowly start making my way down to them.

LIAM: Leo, your back, there's something wrong in your back. You twist your shoulders where you lie. You can move, but every movement comes with a small price. You hear stone and dust and skittering as Edgar slides down toward you.

TALIESIN: Careful, just careful.

ALEXANDER: I'm being careful.

TALIESIN: Okay. I don't feel great.

ALEXANDER: I wouldn't expect you would. Okay, now tell me, can you move your fingers?

TALIESIN: Can I? I try.

LIAM: Yes. Yes, they move.


ALEXANDER: Can you move your toes?

TALIESIN: Just as much as normal.

LIAM: It hurts your lower back a little, but you can.

TALIESIN: Oh, that does not feel good though. My back is--

ALEXANDER: Okay, okay. Stay still.

TALIESIN: Okay. Right.

ALEXANDER: Now, position-wise, who is on top? Is it Leo?

LIAM: Leo and Grimoria are sort of in an X.


LIAM: With Leo's body over Grimoria's lower back and legs, and Malcolm is underneath them all.


TALIESIN: I'm going to tap--

ALEXANDER: Grim, are you awake? Can you hear me?

AIMEE: I'm fucking passed out.


LIAM: You feel a hand on your shoulder and slowly come through, and the first thing that strikes you is a sharp, sharp pain in your left shoulder. You start to realize that your arm is pinned underneath your own body and someone, something.

ALEXANDER: Okay, I'm going to try and gently detangle the both of you.

TALIESIN: (skeptical groan)

ALEXANDER: We're going to do this very slowly, because we're all in trouble.

TALIESIN: (laughs)

ALEXANDER: Apart from the fact that we fell a long way--

AIMEE: Mm-hmm.

ALEXANDER: -- there's a lot of that mushroom above us.

LIAM: There's also bits of particulate dust, even hunks--

IMARI: Oh shit.

LIAM: -- falling from above you.


LIAM: If you think about it, as you were plummeting, it felt like you were smashing through or scraping some resistance for part of the trip on the way down.

ALEXANDER: Yeah. Okay. I'm going to-- I go over to Grimoria.

LIAM: Yes.

ALEXANDER: I take the bottom of her skirt and I start ripping bandana-sized strips of cloth for everybody. I'm sorry, I'm ruining your dress, but we need this.

AIMEE: That's okay.

ALEXANDER: I start tying them around their mouths and my mouth.

LIAM: Understood.

ALEXANDER: Then I have one for Malcolm when I get to him.

LIAM: Understood.

TALIESIN: Well done.

ALEXANDER: Okay. Let's try and move you all.

TALIESIN: (groans)

ALEXANDER: I'm going to start with Leo.

TALIESIN: (groans)

ALEXANDER: I'm going to try and slide him out, off to the side.

LIAM: He moves sideways, still on his back, still not risking tempting it, probing it, and you have clearance now for Grimoria.

ALEXANDER: I'll move Grimoria off of Malcolm.

LIAM: Grimoria, as you sit up and your arm comes free--

AIMEE: I think she throws up.

LIAM: You do, you throw up all over your front.

ALEXANDER: It's okay.

AIMEE: I feel like I want to throw up. (laughs)

ALEXANDER: It's okay. It's okay, it's okay, come on, let's get you up.

LIAM: You try to move your arm, and you can, but it is not what you are accustomed to. You can manipulate your hand, in pain. You can raise your arm up, in pain. It's functional, but damage is done.

AIMEE: Okay. Can it be put back into place, or no?

IMARI: Dislocated.

LIAM: Sure, you can--

ALEXANDER: I'll examine you. We'll see if we can fix it.

TALIESIN: If not, we can make a sling, I believe.

ALEXANDER: I just need to get to Malcolm.

TALIESIN: Coat and skirt.


ALEXANDER: I place a hand on Malcolm. Is Malcolm face down or face up?

LIAM: His legs are facing, not straight up, but on an angle up towards this passage that is above, and his head is bent, not horribly, but he has probably slid and sunk into the base of this incline.

ALEXANDER: Before I try and wake him up, how is his face? How does it look?

LIAM: Well, his face, his eyes are closed. His mouth hangs open, and you can hear slow (labored breathing). If you're asking if there's any telltale signs of what you've seen happen to Decklan, you can make a Survey. This is a low roll. You don't have to burn any resources, if you even have any left.

ALEXANDER: I do. Four.

LIAM: Four. Yeah, it's low stakes. You've never seen anything like this condition or this growth, but it's not like in the last hour his condition or his traits have progressed any further.

ALEXANDER: Okay. Malcolm, can you hear me? Malcolm?

LIAM: Malcolm, you start hearing a voice echoing in your dreaming mind, and then realize that you're--

IMARI: (groans)

ALEXANDER: Don't move.

LIAM: -- awake.

IMARI: (groans)

ALEXANDER: Okay. Hey, we fell a long way. Is there pain anywhere, other than just-- Anything major?

IMARI: (groans) My head. (groans) My head.

LIAM: You feel a welt growing on his head, a lump on his head. Malcolm, you also feel your right shoulder, stiff and pained.

IMARI: (groans)



IMARI: Oh, my shoulder.


IMARI: My right shoulder.

ALEXANDER: All right, let's get you up. We're on a bit of a slide, but everybody's been pretty hurt, so let's just get our bearings, but first, I tie it around, keep this on. I point up.

IMARI: Gotcha.

LIAM: Leo, lying on your back, your view aimed up this stone shaft, you notice that there are recessed shelves or grips moving up this very tall shaft. It looks like whoever built this place left a way to leave it, should anything go wrong. However, you also see, you think, in the shadow and texture of this growth that swirls up and up and up and up and up and up this passage, the shadows in a few places, two, three places, are moving, maybe 100 feet or more up, slowly.

TALIESIN: I don't mean to alarm anyone. First of all, there is, it seems, a clear way up, by someone who has a cruel sense of humor, and I don't think we're alone up there.

IMARI: What do you see?

TALIESIN: I've not been the best observer, but I think there's movement.

LIAM: Why don't you make a Survey roll, Leo.

TALIESIN: All right. Low stakes, I assume.

LIAM: Yes. Well, relatively.

TALIESIN: You are terrible.

IMARI: (laughs)


LIAM: Three.

TALIESIN: Gilded, so I'll take that.

LIAM: You hear movement every seven or eight seconds.

TALIESIN: That's not what I'm used to hearing.

LIAM: You're worried, maybe you're imagining it.


LIAM: Maybe you're imagining it. There are still bits of particulate and dust raining down every few moments.

ALEXANDER: Try and breathe through your nose.

LIAM: All of you can see now.


LIAM: Your eyes are adjusting down here, and you can see this growth from the arch in to where you are. It curves around and up, traveling up to--

IMARI: Where's our exit?

LIAM: Well, you came from up there.

IMARI: Up there, so we have to go back the same way.

ALEXANDER: There is a--

LIAM: There is a ladder, and there is a passage--

ALEXANDER: -- pathway, a passage.

LIAM: -- at the top of this.

IMARI: Is any of that growth by the passage, by any chance? Is any of the growth by the passage? Is there anything growing by there?

LIAM: The passage is clear, it looks like, climbing up this fallen platform you're on, and the lip of that hall or way up there seems clear, but the ceiling above it and the walls are grown. So it looks like if you went in there, you'd be walking under fingers of this stuff.


LIAM: Last detail, it is that growth that is giving off the barest bit of light, and why you can see here. There are torches. One of them is shattered to bits. The glass is broken. But one managed to survive, cradled between Leo and Grimoria.

ALEXANDER: We have a lantern that seems intact.

LIAM: Yeah.

ALEXANDER: Can I make a quick Survey check--

LIAM: Yeah.

ALEXANDER: -- to see if the gun that the body was holding is around here anywhere?

LIAM: Yes, yes.

AIMEE: And maybe one of the knives, too. I think there are two knives.

TALIESIN: Two knives.

AIMEE: No, just the one knife.

LIAM: You saw one knife.

AIMEE: Yeah, maybe--

LIAM: You thought there might be two.


LIAM: Five. You're looking for the gun?


LIAM: You do see the gun. You have to walk over to-- Not walk, you have to slide over to the body of Dr. Gregory. You can see a bomber jacket partially underneath her, and you pull back her body, and she falls to the side, and you see just a ruin, just a ruin. Very little detail left. You can make out a few teeth and one eye still in its socket, but everything else is gone. You now see DeWitt with her short cut black hair, slightly bloodied, but those bodies were there a while, and you find the gun a few feet down the ramp there.

ALEXANDER: I put it inside my vest, or tuck it into the edge of my pants.

LIAM: You start to hear sound from above.

AIMEE: Yeah, we need to get out of here.

ALEXANDER: Okay, everybody.

LIAM: You start to hear more pronounced sound.

TALIESIN: It's not just me.

AIMEE: Of cracking, or movement, or what?

TALIESIN: There's something in here.

LIAM: Something beyond the dust.

AIMEE: Yeah, okay.

LIAM: Fragments of--

AIMEE: Yeah, we've got to go.

ALEXANDER: Okay, okay. We need to go slowly. We don't know if this is stable. So we've got to get to that ladder and get up to that passage.


AIMEE: I'm going to crawl.

LIAM: Sorry, I wasn't clear enough. There's a ladder in this shaft that leads up from where you came.

ALEXANDER: Oh, okay.

LIAM: But something is coming down that direction, and from that ladder, this platform that you crashed down on is slanting up and, whoop, you can go somewhere else.

AIMEE: I see, okay.

LIAM: So that ladder would be cool if you felt up to a whatever long climb.

ALEXANDER: But there's things up there.

LIAM: Yes.

ALEXANDER: Okay. Grimoria, you start climbing. We've got to drag him up.

TALIESIN: Where's-- There's a-- There's a crushed lantern.

ALEXANDER: And an intact one.

LIAM: An intact lantern.

TALIESIN: Does the crushed lantern still have fuel?


LIAM: Yes, it's the glass that's shattered.


LIAM: But it has landed in such a way that there is still--

TALIESIN: Do we want to attempt to make that ladder, which I assume is wood.

LIAM: No, no.

TALIESIN: It's stone.

LIAM: It's carved recesses.


IMARI: That's right. Into the thing.

TALIESIN: We could leave a little-- Well, we have an option at some point.

LIAM: The sound is getting closer.


ALEXANDER: Let's go.

IMARI: We got to go. All right. I want to help start-- I want to get to my feet, shake it off.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

IMARI: I want to, first we need to tend to Leo first.

LIAM: And, Leo, you can move. Everyone can move.


LIAM: It just hurts.



LIAM: It just hurts.

ALEXANDER: Make our way to that tunnel.

AIMEE: Okay.

IMARI: I'll stick behind Leo to make sure I can prop him up if he slips from there or something like that. I mean I know I have one bad arm, but I could still use my hand to prop.

LIAM: You are still a circle.

IMARI: Yeah.

LIAM: You guys climb your way with difficulty up this ramp and then pull yourselves up a four-foot raise because it's wedged down a little bit below maybe where it was supposed to rest and climb into a hall. You see the whole hall ahead of you goes forward and up on an angle. All along it is this fungal growth--

IMARI: Shit.

LIAM: -- hanging down from above. You can see more pale light beyond, it just looks like all that same color. You're not close enough to understand or decipher the color you're seeing or detail from that color, but you gather there is more.

IMARI: Grimoria.

AIMEE: Yeah? (laughs)

IMARI: Can you channel? How conscious do you think you channel right now?

AIMEE: (stumbling mumbles)

IMARI: Can you channel that old woman that you did?

AIMEE: Yeah, I can, the problem is I was waiting, I mean, just above table talk.

LIAM: Sure.

AIMEE: I was waiting because it doesn't cost me nothing.


AIMEE: So I was waiting for some-- I could do a Sense roll to see if I can, I don't know what possibly--

IMARI: Maybe there's a secret passage that you can--

AIMEE: Yeah, maybe something. I was just trying to--

LIAM: If you're looking for a secret passage, that would be Survey. But if you're looking for magickal phenomenon around you, that is Sense and you can, you especially, can sense things if you roll--

IMARI: Can she sense something to tell us how to get the fuck out?

LIAM: There is no game guide or cheat code in this place.

IMARI: (laughs)

AIMEE: Because every time I use Sense, it's always some answer that's not helpful.

IMARI: It's always an answer of answers.

ALEXANDER: Before we do anything, I think we need to get a little further down this passage.

TALIESIN: I assume we were just walking.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: Okay, you limp your way, the four of you.

ALEXANDER: I pull out the glove and I put it on.

LIAM: Put it on your hand.

AIMEE: I have the rifle pointed at whatever the fuck.

IMARI: Is there anything I can use to make a little small torch to burn something that might be in front of me? Something like a lantern?

LIAM: You can strip away some of the clothes quickly from the Circle of the Wyrm.

TALIESIN: Well, I think I've got a plan B for that. We're going to be fine.

LIAM: But I'm going to give you 30 more seconds to brainstorm.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ALEXANDER: We don't know--

IMARI: We're just going to go.

ALEXANDER: We don't know if this fungus is flammable.

IMARI: We're just going to go.

LIAM: Okay, so you begin to walk--

ALEXANDER: And we don't want to--

LIAM: -- limp your way along this hallway. That door, that passage, that arch in the distance starts to widen with your perspective as you get closer. You step out onto a stone platform, created, built, manmade, and find yourself looking up at a massive, massive underground cavern. The entire cave roof of which is just grown over with this stuff. It is huge! Inside the hull, it's like its size adapts to the amount of room it has. In the the passage it was relatively small hands of it, but here in the cavern, it's like an upside down forest coming down from the ceiling. It looks oddly-- This is not in world I don't think, like Velcro growing down from the ceiling. A forest, it looks climbable even. It is so thick and curved, snaking around each other. That you see. The stone platform you're on stretches out in an arc across to a building in the distance. But the bridge is broken 20 feet in front of you. Across this expanse, you can see the other side of that bridge that has fallen into this pit below. There is a large building with huge, tall doors all around it. There is growth coming out of some point at the top of the dome of this place, stretching up into the ceiling and all around. That growth stretches from out of the building all the way across the chamber, down around you. If you wanted to, you could reach out and step up on a part of it. Everything is pale and glows with just a tiny bit of luminosity. The torch you have lights up your surroundings well, and then it is just this dimness stretching out so far.

AIMEE: So it looks like our only way out or away from here is just more of the growth. It's not less growth, it's more.

LIAM: Physically where you are, Grimoria-- Do me a favor, make a Survey roll.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: As you think about whatever it is that is coming down that shaft and looking at a broken bridge in front of you, and you don't see an elevator out of here anywhere.

AIMEE: Okay, I'm going to burn a drive for that. Five. (sighs)

LIAM: Five.

LIAM: Okay, you take in the entire chamber while the men just stand slack jaw looking at it. A few things you process very quickly. One is that the sound behind, you can hear it still behind you back there. You're not missing any hidden exits that you're maybe searching for, but you can definitely see if you wanted to, you think one area of this growth on the left just curving down and growing into the side of this bridge, where if you wanted to, you could climb into this mess and make your way up and through. But you also, as you're surveying this entire chamber, off to all of your right, you see the growth over there is shifting in your view. It's like it's alive or it's something the same color as it is moving through. A few of them, no more than a few.

AIMEE: Okay.

IMARI: It's only one section?

LIAM: No. Your head darts around looking everywhere, hearing these things now you think, it sounds like maybe they're scrambling about the bodies, maybe, behind you. But you can see a couple more moving off on your left, too. It looks like two little clouds of life are moving through the thickets along the walls. Closing on your location.

AIMEE: So I relay this information, very quickly ask, I mean it sounds like our only option is to go to the growth connecting to the bridge, so--

ALEXANDER: I think making it across to that other building as quick as possible, as quietly as possible is the appropriate response. I don't know what those things are, but there could be any sort of bleed-infused life being down here.

IMARI: Do we want to try to burn through this?


IMARI: Want to burn it down?

ALEXANDER: If you want to stay over here and burn it down after we get across, by all means.

IMARI: Do we have to burn a path through it? Is it blocking our path?

AIMEE: No, no, because we can go down the growth and up into the bridge.

IMARI: All right, cool, then I'll follow.

ALEXANDER: I'm just going to put down a blanket. No burning.

IMARI: All right, cool.

ALEXANDER: No burning right now.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ALEXANDER: It's bad.

AIMEE: So we do that.

LIAM: Okay, okay. Each of you, one by one, starts to move up into this hanging forest of fungal growth. Malcolm, you take the rear where these things are coming behind and you look behind you and you can see low to the ground down that passageway, some sort of forms with obvious arms and feet or fingers--

IMARI: Oh shit.

LIAM: -- just moving pretty quietly along that stone floor. You see one coming along the ceiling in the hallway, too. You almost missed it. They're about halfway up as you climb up behind the rest of the group and you begin to lift and climb your way. It's probably 500 feet across. Everybody, as you climb up high, it's not like you're hanging just from the bottom of it and then it's a straight drop. You're wise enough to move up through several bands of this stuff, because you can see how far you will go if you drop. Knowing that, everyone make a Movement roll. All our rolls are high stakes.

AIMEE: Can we burn-- Oh, so I get one more if I use my drive.

TALIESIN: Once you use your resistance, you don't get it back if you fail your drive again.

LIAM: You don't get it back.

TALIESIN: Okay, I just figured.

AIMEE: Five on the gilded, so I'm getting my drive back.

IMARI: Four on the gilded.

TALIESIN: Candela.

LIAM: Candela.

IMARI: Who got a Candela? Oh, nice.

LIAM: So--

TALIESIN: I got fucked up.

LIAM: -- your circle, this quartet moves in a quiet little parade through this "Alice in Wonderland" nightmare. You make it a full, almost halfway across. You are in the vault of this cave's temple. Grimoria, you are behind Leo moving through this stuff. It's like climbing trees when you were a kid. He gets a little bit ahead of you. You hear him grunting as he moves, and he dips down out of view and another form comes in from above, and you see slowly moving, what looks like a white, muddled abdomen or torso. Long, thin, and slender. You're watching this thing move in horror as it comes towards you slowly. It doesn't feel like it is alerted to you yet, but your brain wants to make there be arms and legs. But the four limbs you see are not adhering to the anatomy you are familiar with. They seem to move in any angle and direction they need. There is no difference between the feet and the hands. They're just long tendril-like digits, not too different than the stuff you are climbing on. It comes down into view and turns so that it is right-side up. You see it almost is a low moving white-scabbed crab, but there is no head on this thing anywhere. What looks almost like two flexing moving shoulders here, just has a melted pile of growth, just a hump. It crawls up next to you. You are about six or seven feet away from this thing. You're a little further back, you are a little further back, and it is just hanging in space there, and a little thin sliver or gap (growls) opens in the center of its body. You see as soon as that white scabrous exterior opens, it's just red inside and a thin little moving red tendril with little nodes or bobbles on the end of it just twists in the air. It turns and instantly begins to rush you. What do you do?

AIMEE: I'm just, I don't have a choice. I'm going to invoke The Prestige and invoke Atia Griffia's soul/spirit, and trust that this is her realm. She would know what to do here.

LIAM: Got it. You hear a voice in your mind. "Come, child. I am with you. Take it and go."

AIMEE: Take what?

LIAM: Now, you have this spirit commingled with yours. You still have to deal with all these guys. So tell me in this moment, overlapped with Atia Griffia, in a story that you're writing, what would you want to do right now?

AIMEE: Okay, so just to set the scene, there's this thing coming towards, so we're in, is it an enclosed space or we are in a tunnel and he's in front. So he's already passed?

LIAM: It's not tunnels, it is branches, it's like climbing through endless white tree branches.

AIMEE: He's maybe relative safety. I don't know, I don't see him.

LIAM: He disappeared like eight seconds ago. He was climbing, also, you don't hear that language is in the old tongue, but you understand.

AIMEE: What I would want to do if I could do anything right now is to create a spiritual tube that we are all encased in, so that we can get through this safely. If there's a way to also quietly exterminate these little funguses, that'd be great. But I would just literally take getting us to safety.

LIAM: I'm going to work with you on that. Will you give me a Sense roll, please?


AIMEE: Candela.

LIAM: Candela.

IMARI: Oh my god. Yes, baby.

LIAM: You hold on here and stretch one hand out and you see your hand and you see another transparent hand, slightly overlapped and both press forward and you watch this creature with its little snaking probe go (crackling growls) It presses back into branches of fungus around it. Another one, as that's happening comes sneaking around from a different direction, but immediately starts getting shoved back away from you all. You start to climb through, you don't understand what is happening and all of you climb as fast as you can. Leo, you are arriving, you're almost there. You can hear this rising noise behind you as everyone moves down through. Eventually, you plop down onto stone on the other side. You drop out of this growth and you are standing on a wide precipice in front of this building that now towers high above you. You've made it across. You can hear, as you guys arrive, climbing down out and joining Leo. You can hear (chittering) in the distance and looking back across, you can still see what looks like 20 or 30 amassing on the other side and crawling in to that forest and coming.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: You turn towards the building and there are massive doors, double doors. Set on this curving exterior of the building.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: (chittering)

AIMEE: I think that--

TALIESIN: Do the doors open or--?

LIAM: Do they?


LIAM: They don't open for you like someone's waiting.

IMARI: Yeah, I'm going to freaking open that door.

TALIESIN: I was going to say, are the sounds coming from inside?

LIAM: No, no, no, no.


AIMEE: Do I have, in this ability, do I have her memories? Am I seeing through her eyes, or is it just a little bit autopilot?

LIAM: She is with you.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: Her voice.

AIMEE: I'm going to listen to that voice, and see if it seems like we're intuiting that safety is beyond those doors.

LIAM: You look at the building, you look at one set of double doors in front of you, and you can see lines, intricate, curving around, concentric circles, overlapping circles. You hear, in that old tongue, (Atia) "We will not bind him. We will break him."

AIMEE: I will help you. (laughs incredulously) If I can.

IMARI: Is that her speaking to her?

LIAM: You don't hear it, but--

LIAM: -- you look at--


TALIESIN: She gets all the fun shit.

LIAM: -- Grimoria staring at the doors just-- Oh, but unless, I'm sorry, are you using The Prestige?

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: So you are seeing this translucent double image. Part of the time, you can see Grimoria, but part of the time, a mist moves and swirls around her face, and you can see this much older, tan woman, with white hair, floating. It just shifts back and forth, sometimes both.

TALIESIN: Oh, I hate all of this.

IMARI: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Let's see if, quietly, you take one side, I take the other, just wide enough for us to get in, yeah.

IMARI: I'm going to help Leo.


AIMEE: It's like "A Quiet Place." (laughs)

LIAM: That will be a Strike or a Move, I'll let you choose.

IMARI: I'll do a Strike, and I'm going to burn one.

LIAM: Okay.

TALIESIN: All right.

TALIESIN: Do you want a drive or no? Are you all right?

IMARI: I think I'm good.


ALEXANDER: While they're doing that--

LIAM: Yes?

ALEXANDER: Can I make a Focus roll to quickly see if I can suss out how this thing works? The gun.

IMARI: Candela.

LIAM: (laughs) Okay.

AIMEE: Yes, baby


LIAM: Candela, Candela.

IMARI: Candela, baby.

AIMEE: That good hand.

TALIESIN: I'm stealing those dice when this game is over.

LIAM: (grunts)

IMARI: Candela.

TALIESIN: On the gild?

IMARI: Candela gilded, too.

LIAM: Okay, so.


LIAM: While they're working on the door, you are looking over this glove, with this cylinder that you remember from the church, that man drew energy off of Atia Griffia's remains, and it seemed to fill that chamber. There is a little clockwork disk in the hand, a little brass, like a bowl-shape wheel. It turns in your hand. You can feel it still possesses one amount.

ALEXANDER: One shot.

LIAM: You believe, you believe, because as soon as you turn that wheel, that cylinder and all the little lines on it begin to shimmer gently.

ALEXANDER: Okay, okay.

LIAM: You guys shove the door. Shove this thing, and as your hands slide across it, you see the dust of this that has been here, who knows?

AIMEE: (chuckles)

LIAM: Who knows? Smear away, and you see a metallic sheen of gold uncovered. Then your fingers push in and around, and one big door. (thuds) (creaks) It stops, and you can feel something fighting it, but you flex as hard as you can, and Leo shoves into your hands, and it goes. (sliding) There is enough room for each of you, one by one, to slide into this building.

ALEXANDER: Go, let's go. Let's get out of here.

LIAM: You can see these two moving down about 15 feet up from the edge, coming down to the stone. So you--

TALIESIN: As soon as we're in, we're going to start shoving the door right back.

ALEXANDER: Shoving it closed.

LIAM: (thuds)


TALIESIN: Is there anything to keep it from?

IMARI: (laughs) So what are we locking ourselves in?

AIMEE: I know. (laughs)

TALIESIN: It's better in here than out.

LIAM: You are focusing on the door at the moment, and you can just barely hear, (creaking movement) (thuds) but then nothing. So you allow yourself to turn and see what fresh hell you have walked into now.

IMARI: Oh, great.

LIAM: It is a wide, expansive space. You can see from the roof a flow of this growth moving up the walls and out. It is like a wound or just (huffed laugh) a squinted eye at the top where all of these stretches of this material meet in the middle, and remembering what you saw outside, you suspect grow up and out. But all the walls, you can still see glimpses of the doors in here and they're less dust coated, so you can see glints of gold here and there, but the fungus is everywhere, even down to the floor, and there's just snakes of it further in.

TALIESIN: Does this feel like it might've been ground zero for this, with such an intense focus at the top?

LIAM: Yeah, I'm not going to make you roll for that. Yes, it seems like, in the center of the chamber, about 100 feet away from you, in this big, circular hole is a big mound or hump in the middle.

AIMEE: Aw, shit.

LIAM: There's some sort of oblong shape perched on an angle, like some sort of strange, melted modern art.

AIMEE: Okay, okay, okay. No exits that we can see?

LIAM: There are other doors, many of them are grown over.

AIMEE: Shuttered.

IMARI: I think that's the root, I think we have to fry the living crap out of it.

ALEXANDER: Okay, settle down with the burning and the destruction. We don't know the effects that will happen. Let's take a minute and figure out where we are, and if there's a way out of this room.

AIMEE: Can I-- Can I, like, sense-- Can I get a sense of what this is, what is this growth?

LIAM: You can't see it too well, you're about 100 feet away from it.

AIMEE: But even the ones we've already seen, what is it? A fungus, is it just an unruly magick virus?

LIAM: Well, you see fungus on the ground here, and it seems to be, there's long snakes of it, I think it's probably coming from the center and out onto whatever this thing is in the center.

AIMEE: It's coming from that thing?

TALIESIN: Is it possible to walk gingerly, or is there just nowhere for feet to find purchase?

IMARI: It's everywhere, right?

LIAM: You can step amongst it for a while.


LIAM: There does look like, the furthering you get, the thicker it gets on the ground, but out here, it is splayed with gaps.

IMARI: Every door is covered with this?

LIAM: Not every, most.

IMARI: I want to do a Survey and see if I can find a door that's not covered and see if there's--

LIAM: Well, the one you came in is not covered.

IMARI: Is the only one that's not covered?

LIAM: Make a Survey roll.

IMARI: Shit. (sighs) I'm going to burn a resistance.


IMARI: I'm going to burn a drive.


IMARI: Sorry, resistance.

ALEXANDER: No, no, no.

IMARI: Sorry, (laughs) drive.



IMARI: You're like, "Why?" (laughs)

ALEXANDER: No, I just didn't want you to burn something you didn't have to.

IMARI: Yeah, no, no, no, no. Five.

LIAM: Five. Malcolm, you take a few steps forward, carefully stepping on stone between these things, and peer out. It is very dim in here, but you think you do see one, maybe two that don't look too badly covered. You look over your shoulder, not too dissimilar than the one you came through. That one is maybe the least, but not by much. Peering through, trying to get a better look, having spotted those potential exits, you feel a crunch under your foot, and you feel (cracks) some of this material breaking. Then all around in the chamber. [hisses]

AIMEE: Fuck. Spores.

IMARI: Oh shit.

LIAM: All of you--

IMARI: Oh no.

LIAM: -- smell, taste something sweet. Your eyes--

IMARI: Fuck, we're infected.

LIAM: -- start to blur and burn a bit.

IMARI: (sighs)

LIAM: This room, which is so pale and white, begins to shift and warm. Your vision swirls in pink and red. It's almost like those vents of extreme heat at the bottom of the ocean, or when you look at a location far off on a hot day and your view moves and shifts. Grimoria, you look around and don't see Leo, or Edgar, or Malcolm any... more. You are in a sea of crimson.

AIMEE: Can I try to fight that, since I have a special thing happening? Just try to see if I can hold onto any kind of--

LIAM: You hear a voice in your ear, Griffia's ancient voice saying, "This is his woe, this is his folly."

AIMEE: How do we fight it? We want to destroy him for you. Every trace.

LIAM: "Come with me." You want to try to do what specifically? I know that you want Atia to help you.

AIMEE: I want to know so many things. I want to know what it is that we're doing here and what she wants us to do, because this is her realm. So if she can give us a directive, then I will do everything to do that and also protect my friends from getting more hurt.

LIAM: Okay, I'm still going to tie it to dice.

AIMEE: Yeah, that's great.

LIAM: Make a Sense roll.

AIMEE: Okay. Yeah, just kind of tell us what to do here. Ah, fuck. Ah, on the gilded, fucking Candela.

IMARI: Ah, yes.


AIMEE: (sighs) I swear, and this was a fucking three, man, and a two.

LIAM: You turn from side to side, you look behind you, you don't even see the doors you came in. It looks like an endless landscape of (pants) fuchsia. You reach your hand out, and your hand, Grimoria, is curving impossibly and bending and almost like it's melting in front of you. But then in the distance, in this desert, far off, you see a darker shape jutting up to the side. "He almost wiped us out once, and now he will do it again." Leo, your friends are not around you. Your pain is gone. Your arms are just gyrating and floating in space. You see the red nothingness start to move and swirl, some sort of shape, transparent, taking place off in the distance. It is large, you have to tilt your head back, which then begins to curve too far to look at it. It looks so huge. Nearly invisible, you just see the steam or particulates, stuff moving and floating out of the way as you see the shape of one massive leg. (whooshes) This being, transparent as it is, (whooshes) silently turns to you. You see its surroundings (flittering) invisibly float up and out in wide jets of heat, like massive wings. This being regards you as it moves slowly towards you. "(guttural speech) What do you do, Leo?

TALIESIN: Am I floating?

LIAM: "(guttural speech) (guttural speech) You look down, and you don't see any ground. Your feet just step and step, like you're doing water ballet, your body twisting in strange, rounded movements.

TALIESIN: Just focus, and briefly close my eyes, and I tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. I know where I am, I'm where I'm always, I'm in a room with a clock. It's where I am, it's where I'm always. I'm in a room with a clock. Tick, tick, tick.

LIAM: It doesn't hurt, but you can feel your ribs--

TALIESIN: Tick, tick, tick, tick.

LIAM: -- slowly twisting and moving. You can see under your flesh when you look at your arms, and pull your shirt open, your innards are moving in rhythmic little patterns inside. What are you trying to do here, Leo? Your fingers are bending and moving and growing, six inches, 12 inches.

TALIESIN: I survived the clock. I know, I know time. I'm always time. I know when I am. I know what I am. I can look in the mirror and I know what I am.

LIAM: "(guttural speech) (menacing hiss) (vicious snarl)" Do you know what you want to do, Leo?


LIAM: Then do it.

TALIESIN: I breathe and I pull myself into myself and I race towards whatever feels like Grimoria and Edgar, or my friends. I'm time, I move through time.

LIAM: Make a Survey roll.

TALIESIN: ♪ (searching hum) ♪

IMARI: Do you want another drive?

AIMEE: Can we help?


LIAM: No, not at this moment.

AIMEE: Because we can't hear any of that.

LIAM: You have no idea.

IMARI: All alone.

TALIESIN: Let's burn that resistance.

IMARI: Do you want to use an extra die?

AIMEE: Don't forget we got this.

TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll take one of those.

AIMEE: Yeah.

IMARI: (blows raspberry)

AIMEE: (laughs)

TALIESIN: Thank you.

TALIESIN: Well, that's one, two. Wow.

IMARI: Please tell me there's a Candela in there.

TALIESIN: That's a one, that's a one.

IMARI: Oh no, no.

TALIESIN: That's a one, and a Candela.


AIMEE: Oh! You!

IMARI: Oh my god.


TALIESIN: Oh good, I needed that resistance.

IMARI: Candela on the gild?


AIMEE: Oh, you get that back, baby!


LIAM: You swim through this sea of crimson, your body twisting and curling impossibly. You can feel your heart beating rhythmically. You feel hard, mechanical parts inside it, and behind this moving, melting mask that is your face, and you swim and swim. It all fades just a little bit and the color dims just a little bit, and you can see a strange, massive shape about 60 feet away from you. You see all of your friends facing different directions. Malcolm is staring upward. Edgar is just looking at his own hand. You see Grimoria staring at that large shape in the center of the chamber. "(guttural speech)"

AIMEE: Goddamn it.

LIAM: "(growls)"

IMARI: Told you we should've burned that shit.

LIAM: "(guttural speech)"

IMARI: Didn't I say burn it?

LIAM: You move closer to her. You close the gap. You look to your side and see Leo melting out of nothingness into being. Put a pin in it, you two. Malcolm, what are you doing?

IMARI: I'm--

LIAM: You feel your whole body curving like a serpent's. It feels like your head will just keep going and eventually form a circle, your body just spiraling in space.

IMARI: I need to snap myself out of it. Obviously, I'm in a trance. I know this enough not to be reality. I've dabbled with psychedelics before, and this does not feel like reality to me. So I need to jar myself out of the trance. I need to figure it out. Do I have my lamp by me? Is there anything hot?

LIAM: If you want to find your lamp right now, that is going to be the subject of your action here. Your body feels like spaghetti.

IMARI: First of all, my main thing is to slap myself out of the trance. I want to get Edgar's thing off his wrist and I want to burn the shit out of that middle freaking-- I want to rip it off his wrist, I want to burn that thing in the middle of the thing because I think that's the source of what's going on. But I need to get out of this trance first.

LIAM: So make a Sense roll to reveal.

IMARI: Fuck. All right, I'm going to burn, I'm burning both drives.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: I'm going to use--


TALIESIN: All right.

IMARI: (exhales) Baby. Those are the worst.


IMARI: Candela.

AIMEE: Sorry, I got ahead of it. I'm sorry, that's your moment. That was your moment!

IMARI: That would be good.

AIMEE: I'm sorry!

IMARI: Candela.

IMARI and AIMEE: (laugh)

LIAM: "(guttural speech) (guttural speech)" You talk yourself down from this. You have been in hell. Like then, now you hear impacts of ordinance striking the ground, exploding. You hear the sound of bullets (weapon ejecting), (bullets striking) people screaming in the distance.

AIMEE: (dejected sigh)

LIAM: It melts away like a painting, just draining into the ground. For a moment, you see not the pink haze, but dust in the air and a massive form moving through the cloud in here with you. It is so massive. But there is Edgar staring at his hand and Leo and Grimoria together. (hissing sizzle) You feel a burning behind your eyes.

IMARI: (grunts)

LIAM: The gravity of the situation cuts through your detached reality. What is it you want to do now?

IMARI: When I look around, you're saying there's something pulsating, whereas it looks like it's the root. There's something pulsating in the middle of the room.

LIAM: You can barely make out--

IMARI: It's waving.

LIAM: -- these tendrils of fungus stretching into the center of the chamber in some large, humped shape 70 or 80 feet away from you.

IMARI: I want to run, and I'm going to throw my lantern at it. I want to test my hypothesis before I lose, before I rip the gun off of Edgar because I don't know if that's going to work and we might need it.

LIAM: Got it.

IMARI: I want to run. I want to throw my lantern right at that mound and see what it does. I'm going to take a freaking Hail Mary.

LIAM: Good, I want to see that, but getting out of the haze was your share for the moment, so hold that thought.

IMARI: All right. That was fucked.

AIMEE: Fuck. Sorry, I got to keep it together. I can't--

LIAM: Your hand is stretching apart. There are holes in it. You look down at your side and there are hands extending out of your ribs, your own body clutching at your flesh, pulling at you, trying to grasp your clothes and drag them into your own body. "(guttural speech)" What do you want to do in this moment, Edgar?

ALEXANDER: I look down at my hand. I know I'm still standing in the room. This is the effect of the fungus. There's too much of it, it's overwhelming my senses, but I'm still in that room. The real world still exists. There is a thing in the center of this room.

LIAM: Your thoughts bubble around you, echoing, muted, coming into razor-sharp clarity, then fading like they're buried--

ALEXANDER: There was a thing.

LIAM: -- under the earth.

ALEXANDER: There was a thing in the center of the room. I need to find the center of the room. I need to shoot the center of the room. I used this in the center of the room. I'm going to shoot the center of the room.

LIAM: Make a Survey roll to find the center of anything right now.

ALEXANDER: Critical.

LIAM: Two Candela?

ALEXANDER: Two sixes.

AIMEE: Double Candela.

IMARI: Double Candela.

AIMEE: You better be able to shoot to win.

IMARI: Better work, baby. you better work it.

AIMEE: You better work it.

IMARI: You better work it.

LIAM: You watch the hands suck into your body.


LIAM: One of them splays outward and is so clearly a young and feminine arm and it sinks down and into your guts.

ALEXANDER: You are not here! You're dead.

LIAM: The color mutes to a degree and you can see you're facing one of these overgrown doors. It's still stretches and twists in your vision. You turn away from it and you see the tableau behind you, 70 or 80 feet away, this mound of material, this thing. You see Malcolm a distance away staring at it intently. Grimoria and Leo are close together, staring into each other's eyes, glazed looks on their faces. You have found your target. The being begins to stride through the chamber. Again, it is not corporeal, it is a ghost of itself. You hear a voice inside your ear. "It comes."

AIMEE: Can I talk back to it?

LIAM: (monster) "(guttural speech) (guttural speech)" Quickly, what do you tell?

AIMEE: I'm going to say: Atia. Calinus has no new power here. These are all relics of a past long gone. He is not here, but you are here. He shot his shot, you're just loading your gun. We have all the power here.

LIAM: Its massive wings flare out almost to the edges of this chamber. Pull back (violent swooshing) and close in your direction. Make a Sense roll for me, please. You feel an ocean of force buffeting past you, Atia and you shifting and shaking in the heat of it.

TALIESIN: Can I open this door now?

LIAM: You feel thousands of souls appearing like a multitude in this chamber with you and they are moving fast past you. Make your roll, you will follow up.

IMARI: Let's do, let's do it, let's do it.

AIMEE: Candela.


AIMEE: Oh my god.

IMARI: (claps) Ah, fuck.

AIMEE: He's not here, bitch. You're here!

LIAM: That second skin of Griffia moves forward and out and now you see her shifting in the heat ahead of you and her hands splay wide and you see thousands of transparent lives break and wash past you. (souls scattering) You and she, you at her back, the Red Sea parting around you, and you hear her voice. "Not then. Not now." Leo.


IMARI: I could fight back maybe.

LIAM: What do you do?

TALIESIN: Do I see this?

LIAM: For the moment, you do.

TALIESIN: I am going to walk over to Grimoria and I'm going to place my hands on her shoulders and I'm going to steady her towards all this and hold on.

LIAM: Your hands reach out. You don't feel any sensation as your hands touch her. You see as he's suddenly there in this place and his hands start to spread and melt with your arms, his arm and yours start to ring and intertwine spaghettifying in space between you, but you hear him, his face. "I'm here."

AIMEE: Great.

LIAM: Malcolm.

IMARI: That was some good shit, man. I wish I had some of that.

AIMEE: Good for 10.

LIAM: "(guttural speech)"

IMARI: I'm going to (like monster) fro-ta-ta my fucking lantern right at that ass. That's what I want to do straight.

LIAM: Make a Move.

IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: Make a Move roll, Malcolm.

TALIESIN: Go for it.

IMARI: Throw ta-ta, baby, it's right, I'm a burning two drives on this bitch right here.


IMARI: Burning two drives. Don't tell me to throw ta-ta, how dare you. I'm going to freaking-- Four, right? That's four. Sweet. No, that's three, that's three. So I want that. All right, baby. Five, five gilded, so I won't get too messed up.

LIAM: You run through this space, your limbs stretching out. It is more the will to move through this place that propels you. You don't feel any pain, any stress, any struggle. You just glide through this space and you feel the lamp in your hand and it is twisting and curving, moving. Its fire moving like electrons in a little circle inside. I need you to make a Strike roll. You got there.

IMARI: Oh no!

LIAM: You got there.

IMARI: I though that was a Strike!

LIAM: This is your complication on a mixed success.

IMARI: I'm burning a drive on this.

AIMEE: No one, we can't help, right?

LIAM: He is 80 feet away and he sees a lantern that is (twisting).

IMARI: I'm burning two drives on it. Nope, that was not.

AIMEE: That was not it.

IMARI: That was a drop. That was a drop.

AIMEE: (gasps)

IMARI: Candela gilded.

LIAM: Somebody's got to get this guy some new dice.


AIMEE: I'm sorry that I keep gasping in the wrong moment.

IMARI: Holy shit.

LIAM: Which hand was holding that lantern, by the way?

IMARI: It was, well, my good hand.

LIAM: Yes.

IMARI: It has a little extra oomphy on it because it's freaking a little robotic.

LIAM: You will. You think your hands release and the hand expands and grows wide, like a massive creature's wing, but metallic. You can see the joints and hinges growing and bending. That lantern, like a nebula. (thick slurps) (puffs) (vaporous expansion) You see flame erupt like a thousand molten droplets in space with no gravity. One end of this growth begins to char. "(guttural, snarling speech) (eldritch growl)"

IMARI: That did something to you, baby. It's lovely. I like that. What's Edgar doing right now? Is he still entranced?

LIAM: That's a good question.

AIMEE: You were about to, he was about to do something?

ALEXANDER: I can see the room. I--

LIAM: For the moment you can.

ALEXANDER: For the moment I can. Did I see him throw the lantern?

LIAM: I will say, in this moment, you did.

ALEXANDER: Edgar has a brief panic. He thinks about the fact that the room is full of particles and spores, and that this could erupt into a huge fireball if that breaks. Holds his breath. It doesn't. (sighs) Points out the gun.

LIAM: The glove.

ALEXANDER: The glove.

IMARI: (claps)


LIAM: I need you to make a Strike roll.

ALEXANDER: Oh, Strike roll.

LIAM: Because this is not the human anatomy and you are not seeing perfectly well.


IMARI: Maybe that's precision. Does he need precision and anatomy?

ALEXANDER: For Strike rolls, I can roll Focus, but this is not that kind of a thing.

LIAM: Read out the full text for me.

ALEXANDER: "When you know where the body is most vulnerable-- When attacking an enemy," which I am not doing.

IMARI: But you are attacking it.

LIAM: I would take that to be, being a surgeon-- I'm probably need somebody to--


LIAM: -- fly in some water.

TALIESIN: It's not about the rule, it's about flavor.

LIAM: You're a surgeon, so you understand the human body and where to cut it. You are looking at something that looks like a giant rotting lima bean--

ALEXANDER: It's not a human body. Okay.

LIAM: -- in the center of this place.

ALEXANDER: I am going to--

IMARI: Can I aid him at anything?

LIAM: You're too far apart.

ALEXANDER: Let me just do this.

LIAM: You ran up and got close. Edgar is firing from a distance.

IMARI: Gotcha.


IMARI: Fuck, fuck, fuck.


LIAM: Edgar, this hand stretches out in front of you and you watch its metal and leather and bronze melt and share colors. The world around you flares red again and you see an eruption of (expanding explosion) green that sprays outward impossibly. In the distance you see, in waves of red, an invisible shape, one of these thousands of souls flooding this space, darken into a shadow and color bleeds up into it. Wavering 50 feet ahead of you, you see your sister walking towards you, arms outstretched, inviting you.

IMARI: Oh, hell no!

LIAM: She's crying.

IMARI: Oh shit. We got to move, got to move. Knock down, break, punch.

LIAM: You hear her voice there, behind you, inside. "Ah, Eddie! It's okay."

ALEXANDER: It's not you. It's not you.

LIAM: I'm going to ask you to make one more roll, and let's make this one a Sense roll.


TALIESIN: We don't see any of this.


LIAM: Five.

IMARI: Nice, love it.

ALEXANDER: (shaky breathing)

LIAM: You breathe. You breathe. It can't be her. It can't be her. It makes no sense. And yet... No. But what if? But-- You begin to run towards her. You're running through the space. You know it is foolish. You know that this will end you, Edgar. It can't be her, and you don't care. You get about seven or eight more steps through this place to her and skid out, sliding. Your hands splay wide and spaghettify off in different directions as you try to grip the air, and her vision melts in front of you. You find yourself staring at a porous surface six inches in front of you, white with streaks of red and pink through it. You can see this close, everything moving in little holes, little pores all over this hulking thing that you are now standing at the foot of.

IMARI: How far away is he from me?

LIAM: From you? 40 feet. You two are together. The creature is now moving.

IMARI: Oh, dude. I want to run towards that, I want to run towards Edgar, knock him out the way, knock him out the side. Here's what I want to do.

LIAM: Yes.

IMARI: I want to run towards Edgar, snap him out of his trance, rip the glove off, and try to fry the shit myself.

ALEXANDER: (exhales)

IMARI: That's what I want to do.

AIMEE: (laughs)

IMARI: So we can do a Move and then we can do another Move and then I can do a shoot.

LIAM: That sounded like three things.

IMARI: (laughs) No, I mean, I see no other way out of this. They're enthralled. Big thing's coming towards him. He's getting sucked in. He needs to snap out.

LIAM: You try to get him away. I think let's start with getting him.

IMARI: Maybe I should shoot him in the leg.


IMARI: Because I have my gun with me.

LIAM: Go for it.

IMARI: If I can't--

LIAM: It's up to you.

IMARI: If I can't get him out. I'm going to run towards him.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: Oh fuck. Yeah, I'm going to run because I'm going to need that thing anyway. All right, I'm going to do a Move.

LIAM: Okay.

IMARI: I'm going to burn a drive. That will make me three.

LIAM: Your vision is getting redder by the second.

IMARI: Yeah. Come on, baby. Give me something I can-- Candela!

AIMEE: Dude, I'm not even, I'm looking right at--

ALEXANDER: This isn't fun anymore.

AIMEE: Oh, it's fun for me!

LIAM and IMARI: (laugh)

AIMEE: Oh, it's fun for me! We're going to make it out!

TALIESIN: He's thinking about it.

IMARI: Well, we still got two more Moves left, so.

AIMEE: Can I help? Maybe while he's doing that--

LIAM: So, Malcolm with a six, with a success, you slide through the space and get to Edgar, just as your vision is starting to cloud with red. The detail you saw until now is vanishing and your hands mesh with Edgar's chest, and you see hands again, Edgar. Hands. You shove him back and you feel yourself--

ALEXANDER: Do I see the hands attached from anything? Are they coming from something?

LIAM: No, not with a three. No. You get shoved backward, floating through space. I will say that you manage to drag that glove off as he goes--

ALEXANDER: If I feel--

LIAM: Yes?

ALEXANDER: -- something pulling on me--

LIAM: Yes.

ALEXANDER: -- and trying to remove this thing that is the most important thing in the world to me--

LIAM: Mm-hmm. You want to contest it?

ALEXANDER: I'm contesting by pulling that gun and firing.

LIAM: (exhales forcefully)


ALEXANDER: Because I don't see you.

IMARI: Oh my god!

ALEXANDER: I see monsters.

IMARI: All right.


LIAM: Well, make a-- I will say you can make Focus with this because there are hands involved.

AIMEE: This is how the other group died, by the way.


AIMEE: They had hallucinations.

IMARI: Of course they did.

AIMEE: That they were attacking, and that's it. Fuck!


LIAM: Four.

AIMEE: Say goodbye to your foot.

IMARI: Well, thanks for my flesh wound. (laughs) He's like: Flesh wound, no. Kidney shots, yes.


LIAM: Mixed success. Which side the success and which side the failure? Your goal, by shooting, is to hold on to the glove?

ALEXANDER: My goal is to use this to stop whatever's happening.

LIAM: Stop what's happening. Okay. I think I know how to weigh in on this one. So you see hands appear out of nowhere, grasping at your body, and you pull out a gun, which bends like a cartoon as it comes up.

ALEXANDER: These are not your hands! You don't exist anymore! You only exist in me!

LIAM: You can just tell you're pulling a trigger and your whole hand (fleshy wavering) ripples, like an eruption in water. You, across the space, in this moment, see droplets of blood fly backward out of Malcolm's body.

IMARI: (grunts)

LIAM: I'm going to say gut for this.

IMARI: Oh man! The worst shots.

LIAM: You will take a body. It splays out and floats in space, moving behind him. Malcolm, you feel no pain.

IMARI: (grunt) Ah!

LIAM: However--

IMARI: (laughs)

AIMEE: (as Malcolm) Ah!

LIAM: However--

IMARI: Shit. I'm getting weak.

LIAM: It was a mixed success. So, you see Edgar go floating backward from you and space pulses and ripple between you. You don't feel anything, but a little sphere bending of darkest red floats by your eye, and you look down and you can see a shifting and twisting open cavity in your gut as balls of blood float up and out. While it doesn't hurt, the fact that you acknowledge that you have been gut shot and feel nothing is terrifying, and you take a brain.

IMARI: (grunts)

LIAM: Now, I believe that's four brain marks for you.

IMARI: That is a scar. That's my third scar.

LIAM: Now let me explain something. Ordinarily, if you take four marks and get a scar in the middle of an encounter or a heated moment, you are down. But in this instance, in these circumstances, now that you have taken a scar from brain, Malcolm is mine.


IMARI: Great.


IMARI: All right.

AIMEE: Can I have a go?

LIAM: Yes, absolutely. Anyone who wants to jump in, please do.

AIMEE: Okay, I really feel that I have-- I feel Atia, I feel like I've gotten, I think she understands. She's here now.

LIAM: Yes.

AIMEE: Her power is present.

LIAM: Yes.

AIMEE: With that, I would like to Strike.

LIAM: She acts with you.

AIMEE: Yes, I would like to Strike the thing that we're guessing is the source of this mass hallucination.

LIAM: Yes.

AIMEE: So I'll do that, (laughs) and I'm going to burn a drive.

LIAM: This will be Sense.

AIMEE: Oh great!

LIAM: Two, now with Atia.

ALEXANDER: That's way better.

AIMEE: Better. Okay.

IMARI: That's right, yeah, because you're not using your physical for that.

AIMEE: Okay. Right, right, right. Okay.

IMARI: You want the extra?

TALIESIN: This is a good time for the extra

IMARI: You want the extra? Do you want the extra that--

AIMEE: Sure.

IMARI: To lovey, lovey.

AIMEE: If we all agree.

LIAM: Stop helping each other and die!

AIMEE: So at this point, what does this mean? It's just an extra die.

IMARI: (laughs)

ALEXANDER: I'm trying, Liam!

AIMEE: This is just an extra die.

IMARI: He tried to do it.

TALIESIN: I'm also, I'm going to, for this, I'm going to attempt to just--

LIAM: Yes.

TALIESIN: -- be as much of a psychedelic flesh shield, at this point. I'm just trying to pay attention all around. Because I know this is important.

LIAM: So your primary goal in your fever dream is to protect your dear friend.


LIAM: Understood.

AIMEE: So, do I get an extra, or is it a drive, or no?

TALIESIN: This might be for later.

AIMEE: Oh, okay. Okay.

TALIESIN: I'm putting that out there.

AIMEE: Great. So I'm going to also spend a drive so I can get to have five, and then pray.

IMARI: Let's do this. Drive that car, baby!

AIMEE: (sighs) Candela ungilded, baby!

IMARI: Mm! So tasty!

LIAM: Man!

IMARI: Kentucky fried gilded.

AIMEE: (laughs)

LIAM: Oh man, I meant for this to be so much worse for you guys.

LIAM: You take--

AIMEE: It's early.

LIAM: -- a few steps striding forward. Leo, you float along, hovering like a ghost beside her, and you see blue and white robes trailing behind her. Grimoria grows another foot in space. Her toes are not touching anything. She touches down briefly, like she's walking on pink water. Four arms: two that are Grimoria's and two that are Atia's splay outward, almost matching the massive wings of this thing, and they splay out, and all four hands come together and (whooshes) clap. You see a ripple that extends out like a shockwave through this entire space, and you see the contours of thousands of people suddenly glimmer into existence, like translucent mannequins, twisting and bending and then vanish again. That shockwave (explosion) slams into this massive, I'll say it, chrysalis sitting in the chamber. "(growls)" You see a burst out of the side, which again, floats up and out. You can see long, white bone-like fingers stretch out of this thing. Leo, you see Malcolm running at you, gun aimed at your face. It twists in a spiral towards you. What do you do?

IMARI: Oh man!

TALIESIN: What can I do? I am-- How close is he to me?

LIAM: It's hard to judge measurements in this space but he looks--

IMARI: I want to aid in this movement. I want to give him a drive because I can fight it. Because I can still fight that. So if I can fight it--

LIAM: You're mine.

IMARI: Oh shit!

LIAM: You're down.

IMARI: Damn it!

LIAM: You're out of the scene.

IMARI: Damn it!


LIAM: Malcolm is mine.

AIMEE: Heads down, seven up.

ALEXANDER: Heads up, seven up.

AIMEE: Yeah. Heads up, seven up.

LIAM: Decklan Murphy--

AIMEE: Oh shit.

LIAM: -- the Circle of the Wyrm. Malcolm Trills.


TALIESIN: I don't--

LIAM: He looks like two grand dining room tables away.

TALIESIN: I'm going to try and move and tackle as best I can. I do--

AIMEE: I can help you, I think, because we're one, right?

TALIESIN: You're a little busy, but--

AIMEE: I'll give you a drive.

LIAM: What are you doing? You're making a movement.


LIAM: Trying to...

TALIESIN: If he's charging, I'm going to try and-- Oh, I--

LIAM: Just tell me in story-wise and I'll tell you what to roll. How about that?

TALIESIN: I'm going to try and entangle myself with him. I'm going to try and pull him down with the mess that is mine. But especially, I'm going to, I feel like I have some control with the clock. As long as I keep thinking about the clock, I feel like I have some control, and I'm going to Ensnare.

LIAM: It's bringing time back into your life. You see him step with every clockwork rotation and tick. Why don't you make for me Strike?

AIMEE: You can take one of mine. I can push him out.

LIAM: Do you have any drives to share in Nerve?

AIMEE: I do.

LIAM: Then share it.


TALIESIN: I will take that drive and I will burn one of my drives as well. So hold on. So that's-- Taking a drive, taking a drive. Okay, that's where I'm at. Better than nothing.

IMARI: Come on, old chum. Yeah!

TALIESIN: Candela.

IMARI: (laughs) Malcolm laughs from the ether.

AIMEE: Right!

IMARI: (laughs)

LIAM: Malcolm comes running and this melting revolver in his hand you see in slow motion as the clock goes, "Tick."

(slowing ticks)


LIAM: (low thrum) You see that shockwave coming. But Grimoria's hand and Atia's are there, splaying wide, and a torrent of heat and wave. (wet whooshes) You watch that bubble of shockwave gets (wet whoosh) off to the side and you receive Malcolm and your arms undulate around him until they are hard to make out, and your chest presses into his and you feel his heart beating with yours (quick beats which slow) in a knot on the floor. What you doing?

ALEXANDER: As I float back--

LIAM: "(guttural whooshes) (guttural speech)"

AIMEE: Fuck.

IMARI: Oh god!

(whispers inaudibly)

LIAM: The invisible giant, the angel--

ALEXANDER: I start reciting in my head.

LIAM: -- bends low.

ALEXANDER: All of the bones in the human body and where they connect and the exact positions in which they connect in order to form myself into a solid piece.

LIAM: (growls)

ALEXANDER: You don't exist.

LIAM: (sighs) Let's make a Sense roll. You are in a hallucination. I can't think of what else to do.


LIAM: Four. (inhales) (exhales) This massive angel is bent down over its prize. Its heart, hands insect-like, stretching out.

ALEXANDER: Let's give this another shot. If you're listening, why don't you help me this time? I hold out my hand above one of the hands on my body and wait for her to reach out.

LIAM: Wait for your sister to reach out?

ALEXANDER: Then fire the gun again. I have no idea if it's charged. I don't even know if I fired it the first time.

LIAM: Okay. I didn't get to the complication from your mixed success.

ALEXANDER: That's fine. Go ahead.

LIAM: No. No, no. I like this.


LIAM: This is a high stakes role.


AIMEE: Can anyone help?


AIMEE: Fuck!

LIAM: So don't fuck it--

AIMEE: (laughs) Okay.

LIAM: -- up.

ALEXANDER: All right.

LIAM: That hand glides around in a spiral and you feel it hold yours and lift and you hear in your ear as your finger presses and you can feel like rubber, this in your hand. "I love you." (wet squish) Roll.

ALEXANDER: I love you too. What am I rolling?

AIMEE: Sense.

LIAM: You are firing. Clarify for me because I'm in a fever dream here, too.

ALEXANDER: I'm pulling the trigger of the glove again.

LIAM: The glove.

ALEXANDER: No idea if it's charged or not.

LIAM: Right. Roll.

ALEXANDER: Am I rolling--

LIAM: Sense.

ALEXANDER: Sense. Okay.

LIAM: Sense.


LIAM: You're aiming--

ALEXANDER: For the center mass again.

LIAM: For the center mass.

ALEXANDER: The chrysalis.

LIAM: Okay. So a mixed success. (splutters) Between you and this massive target, you see (splutters) (growls) viscera and blood bursts out and floats all around you. You hear a massive roar in the room, and then it doesn't hurt because nothing here hurts. But a hand, another one, wrapping all around your body. Grimoria, you're the only one who sees it. A large white hand, grasping Edgar and pulling him into this bloodied, leaking mess. Edgar, you feel all over your body, your face, your chest, your arm, it doesn't hurt, it's more of a thousand little tickles, like if you've ever gone swimming and you feel fish nibbling at your body,

ALEXANDER: I'm still holding the hand where her hand was?

LIAM: It's actually here now.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for staying with me for so long.

LIAM: "It's all right. It's all right. (deeply) "It's all right."

AIMEE: Oh no!

LIAM: (slurps) That hand drags him in, and you watch as he melts into this wounded elder thing and his face starts to mesh with what's in front of him, and his head disappears and then yanks back, like a swimmer out of the water. (undulating splutter) behind him.

AIMEE: So he's out of it? It was like a contact, and then he's--

LIAM: Slowly, Edgar turns around. The angel behind him (slurps) fades--

ALEXANDER: (panting gasps)

LIAM: -- and hundreds of little holes open up all over Edgar's body. [hissing] He hovers higher into the air and you see wings (splutters) peel, break out of his back. (growls) He begins to hover towards you. I know.

AIMEE: (laughs)

LIAM: What are you doing with Malcolm?

IMARI: (laughs) Fuck!

TALIESIN: Am I aware of any of this happening?



LIAM: Hands are wrapping around your neck. It doesn't hurt, but you are seeing Malcolm's fingers, both flesh and metallic, like a noose. (slurps)

TALIESIN: I see the metallic hands.

LIAM: Yes.

TALIESIN: He's a clock. I'm going to go into the hand and attempt to open it up and close him the way the clock closed. I'm going to stop the clock.

LIAM: Yes. I would like you to make-- (laughs) I know what I want, now what roll will I have you make? I would like you to make-- It can be Strike or Control. Not your forte, I know.

TALIESIN: They're both terrible. I was really hoping I could go Intellectual on this, but since this is just memory and physicality, it's not--

LIAM: You are dealing with Play-Doh.

TALIESIN: Yeah. Yeah.

LIAM: With your mind and your friend.

TALIESIN: Hoping for a Focus, but I'll take anything that--

LIAM: I know.

TALIESIN: Strike or Control?

LIAM: Or Control.

TALIESIN: They're both the same, so I'll burn--

LIAM: Tell you what. Tell you what.


LIAM: Tell you what.


LIAM: I'll let you make a Focus.

TALIESIN: You'll let me take a Focus?

LIAM: Yeah. Is that any better?

TALIESIN: Oh, much better! But that might not be what you want.

LIAM: It is a high stakes role.

TALIESIN: Yeah. Then yes, please. Focus. Getting thin.

LIAM: As you try to-- I think, as you have this thought to stop his clock--

TALIESIN: (laughs)

LIAM: -- you simultaneously try to shake off what you know cannot be real, even though it feels weirdly good.


LIAM: Your hands intertangle with Malcolm's snaking fingers. (slurps) (whooshes) Your hand and his wreath around each other like a serpent, metal and your flesh. It (violently slurps) like that cobra (splutters) digs into the gaping wound in his gut.


LIAM: You feel no pain as that serpent winds its way up the gears of the clock. You feel every angle, every wheel, every vibration, and you feel the heart of that clock beating in your hand and (slurps) his gut gushes out in a blanket all around you. As you smile, looking at the show, you feel in your own gut, (fluttering bursts) you feel no pain, but you take a body. Grimoria.

AIMEE: Okay. Grimoria sees all of the souls--

LIAM: "(growls)"

AIMEE: -- that have rippled, and she's caught sight of them. Atia sees them, too, and I don't know if this is possible, but she is such a powerful sorceress, alchemist, is there a way to harness and summon all of the thousands of spirits that are around to try to fight this thing in a similar way that she did right before she died?

LIAM: Yes. You can try this. You, behind Edgar, hovering in the space, you see the chrysalis (slurps) wilting, and there is a spindly alien infant slowly melting into what looks like pus, the form going as he approaches, and you hear her voice in your ear. "Now he is bare."

AIMEE: He's what?

LIAM: "Now is the time. Take him." I need you to make a Sense roll.

IMARI: Baby.

AIMEE: Okay. I'm going to--

IMARI: We rolled all the dice, goddamn it. We burned them.

AIMEE: I'm going to burn a drive. I still got these two.

IMARI: I can't even help. I can't do shit.

TALIESIN: No, you--

IMARI: I'm like, I'm guts-ed out.

AIMEE: Five on the gilded.

LIAM: Five. Five on the gilded.

IMARI: Well, that's better than four.

AIMEE: That's better than four.

ALEXANDER: (grunts)

LIAM: (whooshes) (slurping) He is there so fast, and you feel his hands, (popping) multiple hands moving up, grabbing your face. Seven, eight of them holding you in place. You hear Atia's voice. "Now! Now!" You open yourself to her and every soul in this place and you feel gravity, you feel movement. All of the lost souls in this place (slurps) twist and pull into you.

AIMEE: (exhales)

LIAM: You take a body, you take a brain, you take a bleed.

IMARI: Jesus! My poor baby girl.

AIMEE: Well, if she's going to go, she's going to go in a blaze of glory.

IMARI: Fuck it. Let's just all go out.

LIAM: You feel Atia's hands on the back of yours. (slurps) (whooshes) You watch as rivulets of heat and energy move from your hands into your friend's face. You watch his eyes, his head getting dug away and balls of fluid just leaving, leaving. You can see his skeleton, like rubber, all of it going. The hands pulling free of your face. You both drop down, you, and Edgar, and Atia, like she's holding you from behind. "End it!"

AIMEE: How would I do that?

IMARI: Shoot the thing in the middle of the floor.

LIAM: You tell me.


LIAM: Don't roll the die. You tell me how you defeated my monster.

AIMEE: (sighs) I think, because there are so many souls that are lost, and I, Grimoria, thought they were powerless, but actually they're not powerless, they're a source of power. Maybe I don't know how to put them to peace, but we can all combine for the greater good of something. I think, in the same way that Atia, thousands of years before, right before her death in her last great act of sacrifice, essentially ignited a sort of nuclear power to make sure that his power didn't get any bigger than that. It's the same thing. I think it looks the same, and I think Grimoria's come to terms with what that might mean for her. But however you want to paint that picture, but I think essentially it's like when she was standing on top of that island, and all of these ancient Oldfaire soldiers were charging at her, and she just muscled every ounce of power around her to just end it.

LIAM: Nearly 2,000 years apart, Oldfaire and Newfaire align. Atia Griffia destroying what an emperor sought, poisoning her own body, which survived through centuries, only to spill before your feet and bring you two together to finish this thing held in this place deep in the center of the earth. Calinus is undone. (dissipating whoosh) Another wave (dispersing) stretches out from you. Edgar's body hits the ground. Red, pink, fuchsia bleeding away. He lies on the ground, dying in front of you. Off behind you, you see Leo. Gutshot, crawling, confused, through the growth. And Malcolm, lying lifeless and still, his eyes glazed, facing the ceiling. You hold Edgar's hand. One more hand holding Edgar. One more hand. He eventually goes still. Thousands in here, thousands of souls. Who were they? You couldn't know them all. They surround the two of you, the four of you facing into the center of this chamber, and gently drift away en masse. You can feel their freedom.

AIMEE: (relieved sigh)

LIAM: You can't help but wonder how long, how hard their imprisonment here was. Moments pass, Leo, your senses come to you, to a degree. You feel pain, serious pain in your gut as you press your hand to your wound and drag yourself to your friend, and see that where there were four, there are now two.

TALIESIN: We have to leave. It's time to go.

AIMEE: Okay.

LIAM: One question before we leave. Are you saying goodbye to Malcolm and to Edgar here?

AIMEE: I would rather not. Are they dead? Are they gone?

LIAM: Yes.

AIMEE: Do we know a way that we can get them out?


LIAM: (sighs) It would be difficult. You could maybe return, but there is a broken bridge and an upside-down forest to move through.

AIMEE: Can I sense if their spirits are still here or have they gone with the rest of them?

LIAM: Make a Sense roll.

AIMEE: Candela on the gilded.

IMARI: (laughs)

AIMEE: Swear to god.

IMARI: (eerie whisper) Take Malcolm with you.

LIAM: You look up at the surroundings here, trying to feel them, trying to find them, and you see two soul transparent forms standing by the door you entered by. They turn toward each other. (dissipating poof) Like smoke against the door. You feel their freedom.

AIMEE: I'm sorry. I think we got to go.

TALIESIN: We've got to go.

LIAM: With some great difficulty, you climb time your way across this cavern. You spend an entire day resting in the vault. You risk moving across that drop. Easier on the way out than on the way in. Slowly, slowly, slowly. Four days later, you limp your way through the streets of Oldfaire, and climb stairs, moving up around a tall ruin. You help your friend up on the scaffolding and climb up into a brownstone, and take a moment to look at the photograph of the Circle of the Wyrm pinned to the wall. Leo gets you a taxi. A rarity, but not for someone with your coffers. You step out on the curb in front of The Endless Well and climb a single set of stairs, and find yourselves together, alone, the crimson mirror reflecting your grief and your relief. As you're looking at your friend doze slightly on his seat here in his room where you've met so many times, you notice a little envelope sitting on the silver tray on that small wooden table sitting by the door to the Fourth Pharos. It has your name on it.

AIMEE: Oh god. Thank you.

LIAM: Why don't you read that out for the table's benefit?

AIMEE: "Grimoria, apologies for having this delivered postmortem, but you would have argued. I'd rather just skip to the part where I'm right." (laughs) "Family is a rather touchy subject for both of us. While I've made peace with my situation a long time ago, I still miss the feeling of legacy a family provides. I'm hoping you will allow me this continuity. The apartment, its contents, and my personal accounts are yours. It's not a fortune, but it is more than enough to be quite comfortable for a long while, even by my standards. Keep it or let it go at your discretion, but know that it is a great gift to me knowing that they will be yours." (voice breaks) "You'll find all necessary papers and instructions in the bottom-left drawer of the vanity. I have every faith you will find a life that honors me, your parents, and yourself. With my eternal gratitude, Leo."

LIAM: He's sleeping quietly on the couch. Tuck him in there and let him sleep. It's been hard. The circle was broken. Two is not a circle. I know that is painful, but you know you stopped something far worse than individual heartbreak. You also know the world deserves better, and Tottergrass, Westecklyn, your home, mine, for every person under the sun. That's where we'll end our story tonight.


LIAM: Well, that's not how I thought it would go.

ALEXANDER: (laughs)

LIAM: That was heartbreaking. (laughs)

AIMEE: (sighing) Oh.

LIAM: But also very brave.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: And magic. Thank you for helping me find magic in the dark.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for showing us that wonderfully horrible story.

AIMEE: Like only Liam O'Brien could.

ALEXANDER: (laughs)

AIMEE: (laughs)

LIAM: (impishly) Sorry.


ALEXANDER: No, it was great.

IMARI: Good job, man.

LIAM: Well, I hope you guys all enjoyed as well. The story may have been terrifying, but I was terrified, too.

AIMEE and ALEXANDER: (laugh)

LIAM: Go down this descent beneath Oldfaire. I just thought you four were wonderful to be at the table with. Thank you very much. Why don't you please, please, as we fade out for the night, drift away like so many souls, remind everyone at home who you really are and who you were here.

ALEXANDER: My name is Alexander Ward, and I am a bit of a mess. I played Dr. Edgar Lycoris. Thank you.

AIMEE: I'm Aimee Carrero, and I played Grimoria, AKA Alma Látigo.

LIAM: Látigo.

IMARI: (laughs) My name is Imari Williams, and I play Malcolm Trills.

TALIESIN: My name is Taliesin Jaffe, but most of the time, I am Leo Amicus.

ALEXANDER: (laughs)

TALIESIN: I live here, so.

ALEXANDER: (laughs)

LIAM: To our deceased, you went down gloriously. Thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice.

ALEXANDER: Aw, I loved it. I wanted nothing more.

IMARI: I know.

IMARI and LIAM: (laugh)

LIAM: All right, guys, we'll see you later for more sad tales, and hopefully some sunnier ones as well. Good night.

"The Gilded Graveyard"
"Into the Abyss"