Balance – Episode 33: The Crystal Kingdom: Chapter Five

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What mortal danger will our heroes not take seriously this week? Maybe they'll make some boner jokes at some skeletons! It's the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"The Crystal Kingdom: Chapter Five," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 33rd episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

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Full transcript available here.

Our heroes face a series of challenges while exploring Lucas' lab that are, admittedly, all pretty adorable. But still super deadly! Just, like, huggably deadly. Merle performs a random act of kindness. Taako remembers an acrobatic nursery rhyme. Magnus experiences the magic of flight.

When we last left our heroes, a ball of light had fallen through a rift in space, and the room began to crystallize. Magnus tries to chop down the door to the sealed, unoccupied room. He only makes a hole in the door, and he can see through it that it is another private sleeping quarters. It is unlit and derelict.

The trio and NO-3113 skedaddle out of the airlock and head toward the center of the lab. As they escape, the pillar in the middle of the room explodes, and crystal shrapnel flies at them. The gem shards halt at the closed door, forming the shape of a dwarf, as if they were all targeting Merle. The ball of light then hops back into the rift and disappears.

TRAVIS: Hey Griffin, I don’t wanna derail it, is this the gems targeting Merle or you targeting Dad? Is there something you need to talk about? Are you mad at Dad for some reason?
GRIFFIN: Uh, I’d rather not get into it.
TRAVIS: Okay. We’ll save that for “The Adventure Zone Zone”.

NO-3113 had used her satellite dish attachment to scan the crystal, and reports that it is from undead origin. Angus chimes in through the Stone of Farspeech, noting that the situation sounds very familiar.

They come across another branch in the path. One hatch is labeled “Death Laser Calibration Chamber”. The other hatch is labeled “Large Humanoid Species Behavior Modification Testing”, but the text has been crossed out and rewritten in crude handwriting “Hugbears”. Lucas insists that they go to the death laser chamber, but of course the three refuse, yelling “hugbears” whenever he tries to get a word in.

They follow the hugbears sign and enter into a cozy-looking living room. There is a lit fireplace with family photos on the mantle, but other furniture is overturned. Tea cups are smashed on the floor, potted plants are upended, and there is a giant hairy mass in the middle of the room. They can make out the individual forms of four bugbears of varying sizes. One of them has a large cut on his forehead.

MAGNUS: I am chuggin’ for some huggin’, let’s do this.

Magnus begins his pre-hug stretches. Taako decides to hang back in the airlock. The pile of bears begins to rustle a bit, and Merle approaches and casts Prayer of Healing on the one with a cut on his head.

The cut is healed, and the bears all wake up. The smallest one runs up to Merle, grabs him, and screams terrifyingly in his face. A larger bugbear scolds her, telling her that “this is a different batch of folks”. Magnus, Merle, and Taako politely introduce themselves, Magnus mentioning that he is a huge bugbear fan.

The smallest bear puts Merle down and apologizes, and then the four of them introduce themselves. There is Aaron Styles, who helps with Lucas’s wardrobe; John Cook, who does all the cooking and “all the Johning”; Jamie Green, who tends to the plants; and the smallest one, Christy Kilgore, who couldn’t think of a clever last name having to do with maintenance. These are the names they’ve taken on since working for Lucas, and are not their original bugbear names.

Taako nonchalantly asks if they know Klarg. Surprisingly, they totally do. Aaron says that Klarg, formerly Daniel, is his son. Magnus briefly explains how they met Klarg, glossing over their charming of him, and assures the bugbears that he is fine.

According to the hugbears, they had gotten into a “kerfuffle” with the regulators when they tried to get past them and go further into the lab. Boyland attacked them initially and Carey threw some kind of sleeping dust at them.

Lucas, speaking through the Stone, calls this one of his “less ethical experiments”. He’s put inhibitor chips in their brains so he could have “helpers” around the lab. He says that Klarg, formerly called Daniel Butler, used to live with the hugbears here. During a scuffle with his sister he hit his head and disabled the chip, then freaked out and escaped. Lucas hypothesizes that when Taako charmed Klarg, it messed with the chip, and that Klarg may be charmed forever, on and off.

Lucas orders the bears to allow the trio through. Magnus asks if they want to come with them, but Griffin doesn’t want to keep doing all their voices, so Noelle tells them to just lock themselves in the airlock and they’ll come get them later. Magnus asks what the abandoned dormitory was used for, and Aaron Styles replies that it had been Maureen’s, Lucas’s mom. Magnus keeps asking about Maureen, not picking up that she is dead for an embarrassingly long time.

Our heroes leave the hugbears, and depart through their supply room, which they find has already been covered in crystal. Under a window in this room they discover a crystallized Boyland, with his helmet off and a cigar in his mouth. They immediately make fun of their fallen friend.

MAGNUS: Boyland is closed for good.
TAAKO: The sad thing is he’ll never get to be a Manland.
JUSTIN: We probably just high-fived, by the way. In fiction.

In an effort to make the crew feel anything at all for this deceased character, Griffin informs them that Boyland volunteered at the Boys and Dwarves Club every weekend, had four hundred sons and thirteen daughters (“That’s why he’s called Boyland.”), and was about to go on a camping trip with his family next week. Merle takes Boyland’s axe, engraved with all 413 kids’ names, then performs some dwarven funeral rites. After Clint rolls an unnecessary investigation check, Griffin assures him that Boyland had met his demise after taking off his helmet to smoke, and a single crystal snowflake landed on his skin.

The gang moves on and come to another intersection. One door is labeled “Gravity Augmentation Chamber”, and appears to be an older version of the airlock chambers they’ve come across. The other door is labeled “Temperature Augmentation Chamber”, and is completely iced over. Using Clairvoyance, Taako sees that ice extends into the room for several feet. He also sees two figures in null suits, clearly Killian and Carey, fighting ice-covered robots, taking them to “fucking fool school”. Not wanting to bother hacking at the ice for ages to get to the robots, Taako tells the other that the room is empty.

TAAKO: Empty as hell. And when you heard me say, “aw shit, sweet flip”? That was just a childhood rhyme I use to help focus myself.

They catch him in this lie pretty quickly, but Taako assures them that Killian and Carey are handling things fine and obviously don’t need their help. Instead, they check out the gravity augmentation chamber. It’s full of floating junk; a fridge, cages, microscopes, crates, a barrel, and various other industrial equipment. Lucas tells the crew that the anti-gravity technology was developed by Maureen, and he throws trash in here because he doesn’t know where else to put industrial waste.

The four step into the room and begin floating around all the garbage. Clint makes a Superman reference that only Justin gets. Magnus is very excited at discovering the magic of flight, and NO-3113 very kindly compliments him on his flipping and spinning. Merle and Taako are less impressed.

MERLE: Do you wanna stay here?
MAGNUS: No… I just signed a lease on a condo.

From a pile of rubble emerge three unusual creatures. They are pink, weirdly shiny, have eight padded feet and circular snouts with rows of sharp teeth. Lucas says they are tardigrades, or “unkillable water bears”. Tardigrades are supposed to be microscopic, but these are the size of car engines, and they seem to be looking for a fight.

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

Featured Locationsedit | hide | edit source

  • Lucas's Lab
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