Balance – Episode 58: Lunar Interlude V: Reunion Tour (Part One)

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Like Chilean miners rising, our comfy casual champion has returned. What other twists await us in... The Adventure Zone?

—The Announcer

"Lunar Interlude V: Reunion Tour (Part One)," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 58th episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

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Full transcript available here.

Our heroes' party has just undergone a fairly shocking expansion. They're now tasked with an infiltration mission that hits close to home. As the pieces move into place for the endgame, what do our heroes hope to find -- and where do their allegiances lie? Merle goes along for the ride. Magnus faces a difficult decision. Taako makes one last deal.

The Tres Horny Boys have just discovered that the Red Robe who has been stalking them for most of the campaign is actually their old companion, Barry Bluejeans, who was originally thought to be dead. But before we delve into that plot twist, we need some perspective.

Cutscene 1

Decades ago, in a wheat field on the outskirts of Phandalin. Barry Bluejeans crashes into the earth and rises back up as a red spectre. He takes a moment to collect himself and retrieves some blood from the fallen form lying before him.

A few months after this incident, Barry is checking out a black market auction in the hopes that one of the Grand Relics will be there. He is unsuccessful in finding any, and he instead buys several pods that, when fed the organic matter of someone, can regrow them from that organic material. As he walks out, he feels a chill wind move through him, a feeling not unfamiliar to him.

GRIFFIN : She’s found him again.

Barry deduces that being in his lich form for too long has made it easier for him to be detected by this mysterious woman, so he finds a crypt that he can camp out in. After ridding the chambers of its goblin residents, he spends the next month setting up his equipment, warding the crypt from magical detection, researching the relics' whereabouts, and waiting for his body to grow back in the regeneration pod he bought. As Barry triangulates the possible locations of the Relics on his map, he reminisces about his friends, knowing that none of them can remember him.

GRIFFIN : His only hope is to find Lup. With her help, he can take back the ship that brought him here.

It's months later now, and a now alive Barry, under the instructions of his lich counterpart, is surveying the foothills of Phandalin in the hopes of finding Lup's whereabouts. Unfortunately, while climbing a particularly treacherous craggy incline, he loses his grip and falls to his death, forcing him to wait another couple of months as he regrows a new body. After a bunch of seemingly endless cycles of locating, searching, and dying, Barry discovers that a dwarf by the name of Gundren Rockseeker is in need of a bodyguard for his quest to Wave Echo Cave, an ancient dwarven vault containing artifacts of immeasurable power and also where Barry believes Lup may have hidden the Phoenix Fire Gauntlet. Before becoming human again, he leaves a command for his alive self to find Gundren and to stick with him no matter what it takes.

GRIFFIN : And the last thing we see is Phandalin, already a perfect circle of black glass. Still warm. In the sky above we see your sphere floating away, up, and into the Bureau. And this form rises with some effort up and out of the glass and he almost loses it. He was so close this time, close to the relic, close to his friends, close to finding Lup. Why wasn’t she with them? If they have the glove, where was she? He couldn’t do this alone anymore and he knew it. He could not do this without his friends, even if they don’t remember him, even if she vilified him. It would take some convincing and a whole lot of waiting, but… relying on these people, his family, was the only reason he was still here, half-alive as he was. And he sees no reason to stop believing in them now.

End Cutscene 1

GRIFFIN : And now we’re back in present day, you can make the Lost noise now, Dad, if you want.
CLINT : [Makes a whooshing sound.]
TRAVIS : Now do a TARDIS noise.
CLINT : [Very poorly imitates the whooshing noise of the TARDIS]
JUSTIN : So either the Doctor is arriving to save the day or my dad is having an asthma attack.

Standing in front of the boys is a very naked and very confused Barry Bluejeans, who just assumes that this predicament he's in is because he partied too hard the night before. Merle hands him back his jeans, and the boys reintroduce themselves. Magnus, who is still a mannequin, explains to him that he doesn't usually look like this.

MAGNUS : Picture this but brawnier, you know what I mean?
TAAKO: Well, actually don’t waste your time with that! [laughing]

Because that’s no longer a going concern!

MERLE : Imagine a pile of ashes.
TAAKO : Imagine a pile of ashes.

Barry is still confused and asks them how he knows them and where they are. Magnus says that they had a run-in with each other over a year ago during a mission to Phandalin and that Barry has a coin in his pocket that should clear things up for him. Barry pulls the coin out and lifts into the sky, and the voice of lich Barry begins to come out of it. The voice then starts to list off some things that only Barry himself would know, such as his fear of the dark, that his very favorite thing in the world is swimming in very cold water on a very hot day, that his father, Greggor, died when he was too young to know him, and that his mother, Marleana, had soft gray hair when he was born, and that, to him, she was the most wonderful woman who ever lived. 

PAST BARRY: You remember them but you have forgotten so much. And right now, in this moment, you feel a dull weight in your chest. It’s the weight of a love that defined and redeemed you but you’ve forgotten who that weight belongs to. Barry, I’m you, just moments ago and I remember who that weight belongs to, and I can help you remember it too.
BARRY: Yeah, al-alright.

The voice explains that the boys' brains are going to start trying to remember other things about Barry and that he needs them to fight this urge, as knowing these things might complicate the mission. He directs them toward a map of the Bureau of Balance headquarters on his desk that will show them how to access Lucretia's vault, which holds what he needs. In order to learn this, he explains, he had to temporarily possess a BoB member, as his lich form would be detected instantly. The voice instructs them that they need to bring alive Barry with them to the HQ and that they also need to follow his map if they ever want to learn more about their pasts.

CLINT : Wait a minute. Wait a minute, w-w-w-w-wait. So now we’re gonna work against the Bureau of Balance?
TRAVIS : Yes Dad, surprising no one on Reddit.

Taako is not yet convinced on the whole betraying the Bureau shindig, as he feels that they have no reason to distrust the organization. Magnus pulls Merle and Taako away for a sidebar, and he shows them the scroll given to him by June, specifically the part that shows that he was the red robe who helped create the town of Refuge. The two of them, like Magnus, are completely unable to fully comprehend just what this means. Magnus divulges to them that he's recently been having flashbacks of memories he doesn't remember having, such as being on a planet with two suns, but this new information sounds like static to Taako and Merle. Taako tells Magnus this and explains his theory that there might be another Voidfish keeping them from remembering these things.

MAGNUS : Uh, it-it makes complete sense because I… I swam with The Voidfish, and um… and they sang to me.
TAAKO : [singing] Under the sea! Under the sea, less than a sea, more of a tank, full of our filth!

Magnus divulges some more information to the boys about how during his last visit, the Voidfish sang the words "EGG BABE" to him, and also that, before they left for Wonderland, he broke into the Bureau's prison in order to talk to Robbie. His conversation with him, which revealed that he was arrested for being somewhere he shouldn't have been, makes him think that Robbie might have been the person Barry possessed in order to access the vault. This, to him, is what makes Barry trustworthy.

TAAKO : Okay, that tracks. Listen, I have an update from Taako Central. I’ve updated my list of people I trust and things I believe to no one and nothing! Not a joke, I don’t trust you, half-pint, I don’t trust Jeff from Today’s Special, I don’t trust Barold whatever his name - I trust nobody, nothing. And you’ve convinced me to add The Director and her crew, her coterie to that list, but it does not extend - it is no one. There is nothing and no one.
MAGNUS: Is it at least a sliding scale, Taako? Do you trust us like, a little less or a little more than The Director, where are we at as far as placement on the-
TAAKO : It’s a big ol’ void! All orbiting planet Taako, of non-trust!

Barry collects his map and other equipment and tells the boys that it's time to head out. Taako reminds everyone that he's only on board because he doesn't want to start his own podcast. The coin chimes in again and lich Barry tells them that once they're outside the boys will need to summon their bubbles with their bracers and that human Barry shouldn't bother leaving any blood behind as this will be their last chance to make things right.

Before leaving, the boys remember that lich Barry told them that they need to come up with a good disguise for Magnus, who is currently a mannequin, and Merle suggests that they tell the others that he's a servant that Taako brought to life in order to handle the Animus Bell, which they all decide to go with. After utilizing the offer of cucumber sandwiches to tempt Barry into getting in the Pocket Spa, the group leaves the cave and are met with lots of storm clouds overhead. Taako takes a look at their surroundings and sees that the trees are wilting and everything is less colorful. Ready to go, Merle presses the "Uber" button on his bracer.

MAGNUS : Before it gets here I should also say, boys: one, keep in mind, you’re probably gonna have to explain the stones of farspeech being gone, two, I’m probably not gonna be able to talk. Uh, so I’m just gonna just like, y’know, automaton it pretty hard, uhhh, y’know, wooden statue and all that, so you might have to do the talking for me.
MERLE : Okay, one, you’ve done a pretty good job of not talking up to this point by [voice increases in volume] filling us in on all this crap! And two, okay.

As the boys and Barry wait for their ride, Taako slips on his Band of Telepathic Thought so he can communicate with Magnus telepathically. Taako suddenly hears a very familiar voice that tells him to "Trust Barry. Love Barry."

VOICE: Taako, it’s me, it’s [static] it’s me, trust Barry.
JUSTIN : Is it Kravitz?
GRIFFIN : It’s not, no, it’s a woman’s voice. It’s that same dissonance again where this voice is so special to you, like, and it’s like, infuriating, you can’t remember who it belongs to, you can’t remember why.

Clint has a small moment of jealousy about the others having cool plot developments happening to them, but this quickly subsides. The glass ball floats down and stops in front of the group. Magnus hides his bracer and armor in a bag along with his other belongings, and the guys step into the orb. Taako pulls the lever and they are sent flying towards the BoB base.

CLINT: [begins singing the Dance of the Hours]
JUSTIN: Griffin composes music for this program, Clinton.
CLINT : Sorry, right, I forgot again. Sorry.
GRIFFIN : No, that’s it, that was - he actually got it like, note for note that’s exactly - I was gonna do some clown bullshit. I actually have it written down in my notes right here. It says uh, BPM 128 uh, 4/4 time, clown bullshit.
CLINT : Oh, let me finish! [continues song]
TRAVIS : I think the people got it.
CLINT : Okay, good! Good!

[Money Zone]

Cutscene 2

The Astral Plane, a few hours ago. The lights below the surface of the endless lake are gone, no movement from the water at all, no sounds of spirits drifting beneath. There's only the motionless storm overhead. A thick layer of black ooze with ribbons of bright color sits atop the water. Cut to the Eternal Stockade, a prison for ill-tempered ghosts, where, in the distance, a hand has just punched its way out of the still waters. This hand belongs to Kravitz, who frantically hoists himself up onto the island the Eternal Stockade is built upon. As soon as he's on land, a couple hands come out of the lake in an attempt to drag him back down, but with a couple decisive swings of his scythe, he's able to fend them off. He then makes a mad dash backward into the Eternal Stockade, where he barricades himself.

GRIFFIN : Kravitz had seen so much during his time as the Raven Queen's charge, things that most adventurers given ten lifetimes would never even dream of. Arcane cults worshipping dragons made of light, cities of vast machinery and towers of gilded iron, crystallized laboratories rescued by lovable doofuses...But this scene, the world made ink black and frozen. He's never seen anything that could do this before. And if it’s happening in the other planes, he knows he has his work cut out for him today.

Kravitz tries to create a portal to the living world with his scythe, but nothing happens. After three more attempts, Kravitz hurriedly falls to one knee and lays out five feathers in a circle in an attempt to commune with his boss, The Raven Queen. She doesn't answer. With this, Kravitz is able to deduce two things.

GRIFFIN : He is trapped. And he is alone.

End Cutscene 2

While the boys are lifting up into the Bureau of Balance hangar, they hear Lich Barry's voice in the coin tell them to hand over the Animus Bell to the Director so that they don't raise suspicion. The voice also warns them not to let her see human Barry, or else she'll figure out whats going on. The glass ball makes it back to the launchpad, where a flabbergasted Avi watches as the boys step out of their ball.

MERLE: [in a sing-song voice] Oh, wooden servant! Bring along our bags and be quick about it! [evil laughter]

Avi runs over to the hangar and yells to the other that the boys are back from Wonderland. Avi explains to the boys that the whole base was worried because they had lost contact with them, but then he notices that Magnus is "not with them" and he asks them where he is. Taako tells him that Magnus died, shocking Avi, and Carey and Killian burst through the front doors of the hangar, with NO-3113 and Davenport following close behind.

CLINT: [getting progressively quieter] Oh shhhhit...shit...shit...oh…

Carey is excited to see that the boys are safe and sound, but this excitement vanishes when she too notices that Magnus is "missing." Merle strainedly explains to her that Magnus didn't make it, causing Carey to collapse in grief. Killian takes Carey in her arms, and she asks Taako and Merle how Magnus died. They tell the others that he heroically died in the process of fighting a couple of liches. With his whole body. Nothing left but ash.

TAAKO : We couldn’t even bring him back.
MERLE : Nope.
TAAKO : You know what? In retrospect we could’ve brought him back.
MERLE : Yeah maybe.
TAAKO : There wasn’t a lot to pick up.
MERLE : You know, we really didn’t try.
TAAKO : We should have swept him up. I regret this now.
MERLE : [Voice cracking] We could have scattered his ashes somewhere.
TAAKO : [Voice breaking] Somewhere beautiful. He woulda liked that.
CLINT : Is there an Academy Awards for podcasting? Do they have that?

Killian asks what happened to their Stones of Farspeech that kept them from communicating with the boys, and Taako says to her that they were made inoperable by Wonderland's magic. Killian notices that their Stones of Farspeech are gone, and she asks why they don't have they have them if they're now outside of Wonderland's magical field. Merle lies and tells her that their Stones were lost to the Wheel of Sacrifice, an answer that Killian finds satisfying, and, with NO-3113's help, she scoops up and carries Carey. While this conversation is happening, Davenport, along with two guards, is expectantly waiting with a tray by one of those big lead balls used for destroying relics.

KILLIAN : Oh yeah, they wanna get the relic blown away as quickly as possible. The Director’s really eager to get her hands on this one, so, um, let’s just get this taken care of and I guess figure out a funeral? Is that, I guess, next?
TAAKO : That seems about right. We could launch him into space like Spock. That would be sweet.
MERLE : That would be very cool.
TAAKO : I do have to warn you though, please be careful. This, uh, the mannequin you see, I reclaimed -
MERLE : Woody! His name’s Woody!

Taako explains to Killian that she should be cautious around "Woody," as he's a mannequin he reclaimed from Wonderland in order to try to study more of their magic, and he doesn't what powerful and dangerous magic it has been under the influence of. Justin rolls a 4 on his bluff check, and Killian is instantly averse to the idea of bringing back a mannequin possibly filled with dark magic. Merle saves face by telling her that they needed something that could handle the Bell without falling under its thrall, and, thanks to a 16 on Clint's bluff check, she believes him and allows them to keep "Woody."

She and Carey leave as "Woody" clunks over to Davenport and he puts the Animus Bell in the hatch on the lead ball. Davenport shuts the hatch on the orb and wheels the cart out of the chamber with his two guards. After "comforting" a depressed Avi, the boys also head out to the quad, where they see the same storm clouds they saw at Barry's cave. While following the map, they are stopped and surprised by the sounds of the Fantasy Costco's doors opening. However, unlike the last few times they've visited, no theme tune plays, and the place looks completely ransacked. The group head inside to investigate, and they see that all the inventory has been packed away in crates and bags by Garfield the Deals Warlock, who is preparing to leave for parts unknown.

GARFIELD : Oh, uh, we’re closed. Thank you for coming to Fantasy Costco though. [Singing, poorly] Fantasy Costco, where all your dreams come true, got a deal for you. Alright. See you later!
TAAKO : Uh, hold on just a second kemosabe.
MERLE : The sign says open 24 hours.
GARFIELD : Well...that doesn’t really take into account the….apocalypse, so I’ve gotta hit the ol’ road, Jack.

Garfield explains that his main reasons for closing down Fantasy Costco are mainly due to the impending apocalypse and because he was thwarted in a test of mercantile wits by Taako during their last visit and he now feels that his days as a shopkeep are over. While Garfield mourns the apparent loss of shopkeeping skill, Magnus tells Taako telepathically that they'll need the blood he gave Garfield so they can regenerate him a new body in one of Barry's pod.

TAAKO : [to Garfield] Listen, I need something from you, before -
GARFIELD : I told you, my trading and selling days are over. I’m a joke!
TAAKO : I know. I understand what you’re saying.
GARFIELD : I’m a sham!
TAAKO : I understand. Listen, I’ve gotten-
GARFIELD : [sadly] I’m a wiener boy.

Taako explains to Garfield that Magnus "died", and they need his blood to remember him by. This instantly lifts Garfield's spirits, and he offers to trade them Magnus' blood for something of equal value. Taako offers to trade him a glossy portrait of himself from his "Sizzle it Up With Taako" days, signed with the words, "To my friend, Garfield, keep reaching for the stars. Nothing’s finer than eating in your diner. Sincerely, Taako.” Garfield merely cackles at this offering, and he tells Taako that he'll have to do much better than this. Taako caves in and hands over the Flaming Poisoning Raging Sword Of Doom...but not before casting Drawmij's Instant Summons on it so he can summon it back later.

CLINT : Taako! Don’t!
TAAKO : [Laughing] I just conned this dumb son of a bi- hold on. Let me finish and then I’ll gloat.
MERLE : Okay.

Garfield gleefully takes back the Sword, oblivious to the fact that he has just been conned, and throws the boys a ring of keys that open up the back doors of the Fantasy Costco. With a twirl of his cape, Garfield disappears in a puff of smoke, along with the crates and bags containing his inventory.

JUSTIN : Nice fuckin’ customer service, Jesus.
CLINT : No followup, no receipt.
TRAVIS : Yeah, he didn’t offer like a five year protection plan or anything.

The boys head to the back room, which is filled with various storage things and some emptied out vaults and cash registers. More importantly, laid out on a long table are the shield and ax that Magnus sold to Garfield, although some of the blood seems to have been scrapped off both. And next to this table is another regeneration pod. Inside of this pod, through the green blackish fluid, is Magnus' body.

Cutscene 3

Cut back to the black market auction shown earlier, where Garfield is sitting right next to Barry during the bidding for the pod.

End Cutscene 3

TAAKO : Well this presents some unique challenges.
MAGNUS : Not for me! I want my body back!

Taako tells Magnus, who is eager to get his body back, to think about whether or not he wants to take the risk, as they're not sure how much of his memory he'll lose. Merle also brings up that giving back his old body risks their entire stealth mission, but Magnus is still adamant about getting his original body.

MAGNUS : I can’t feel anything. I’m not hungry. I don’t breathe. My heart doesn’t beat. Do you understand? And that’s me! That’s me! Right there!
TAAKO : It's sort of you. It’s your body, but is that really you? I mean, honestly?
MAGNUS : Those are the arms that have held my wife.
TAAKO : They’re a clone. It’s not you!
MAGNUS : I can’t fight, I can’t protect, I can’t do anything in this body. I have worked all my life to be able to fight and protect and do good.

Magnus makes a deal with the other boys to stay in his current body until he inevitably dies and returns to life in his clone body. He tells the boys to head to the Director's office without him, and for Taako to give him a signal when it all pops off. The other two agree to this, and Merle gives Magnus one last heartfelt goodbye.

MERLE : See you, good boy.
MAGNUS: Okay. Weird.
MERLE : Yeah, a little bit.

Before leaving, Taako leaves for Magnus the sapphire that will summon back the Flaming Poisoning Raging Sword Of Doom and a note that says:

Trust the voices in your head, and open your mouth, and let the first words you speak be “Flaming Raging Poisoning Sword of Doom.”


(That means “Post Script” in case you learned that after you forgot. P.S. means post script.)

You’re gonna wanna smash that bad boy, too. Smash that, smash that bad boy.

And put some clothes on.

And the two of them walk out of the empty Fantasy Costco, leaving Magnus and his clone body behind. Magnus lays out his armor and clothes on a table, and he grabs his old shield and old ax and heads for the Voidfish's chambers.

Epilogueedit | hide | edit source

"We see the floating Bureau of Balance headquarters. We see Magnus, laying out his possessions in front of his new body, his mind still addled with memories he cannot quite process or explain. We see Merle, the dwarven cleric and Taako, the elven wizard, departing a large, emptied out megastore and walking towards the main dome on the far side of the complex, still unsure in their stride. We see inside that dome, at the Director, making preparations to destroy the Grand Relic as Davenport delivers it. We see Angus McDonald, the world's greatest detective, watching this process intently, as he watches most things.  

And we see Carey, inconsolable at the unceremonious death of her best friend. She's in her private quarters with her girlfriend, Killian, and her robotic teammate Noelle, neither of whom know exactly what to say... What do you say? We see Johann, who just finished restringing a fiddle, which he plucks happily as he begins composing a new meal for the Voidfish, which floats nervously in its tank.

And then we're back outside, and we pan up. And up. And up. Past the sky, past space, beyond the boundaries of the Prime Material Plane in which this story takes place. And we see more planes, now, the Astral Plane, the Plane of Thought, the Elemental Planes, all of them, all twelve planes that make up our Planar System, moving in perfect orbit, perfect synchronicity, sustaining each other in a meticulous, demanding dance.

And then, we pan up. And we see a thirteenth plane, descending.

It is a disk, of shimmering, living darkness, crossed with ribbons of bright blue, red, green, gold, it is larger than the other planes combined. And as it lowers, slowly, bright, white eyes begin to open all across the underside of this plane. Millions of them. Burning with malice and– Hunger. All focused inward and down, back down, all the way, back down, on the floating headquarters of the Bureau of Balance. And somewhere inside of that living plane, we see a smile flash across someone's face."


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