Balance – Episode 49: The Eleventh Hour: Chapter Nine

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That's enough dilly-dallying and pussy-footing around. These heroes are out of time! It's The Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"The Eleventh Hour: Chapter Nine," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 49th episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

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Full transcript available here.

Their prize secured, our heroes look to close out their final loop in Refuge by doing something unprecedented: They try to keep everyone in town from exploding, for once. Merle does some stargazing. Taako encounters an old friend. Magnus opens a tube.

The Tres Horny Boys have successfully resisted the Temporal Chalice's temptations and have landed themselves back in Refuge, with an unconscious June and the Chalice lying in front of them. Specifically, they are back in the top of Shaft B of the quarry. Meanwhile, back in the town of Refuge, various residents start remembering the events of the past loops as the Chalice's effects on the town begin to wear off. Back at Shaft B, Magnus picks the Temporal Chalice off the ground and looks a shocked Isaak in the face.

MAGNUS: I told you we’ve dealt with this before, asshole.

Roswell picks Issak up by the collar of his shirt and takes away his sheriff badge and places it on themself. Roswell drops Isaak back down and asks the boys what their next plan of action is. As the boys try to come up with a plan June reminds them that, without the Chalice, she can't sustain the barrier, meaning that The Purple Worm will burst through.

ISAAK: You can't fight it. Boys, listen to me. I've done this loop… a couple thousand times. I’ve tried everything. You can’t fight it. It’s all over. There's nothing you can do to kill that purple worm, trust me. I’ve tried everything.
TAAKO: I mean you can’t fight us, either. Like so if we’re doing greater than/less than kind of equation…
MAGNUS: That’s fair! I mean, that’s a really good point.
MERLE: It is kind of a three brains against one thing.
TAAKO: Yeah, well… two and a half?

Magnus asks if the worm started attacking before or after the bubble was put up and June explains that it was after and that the reason it is attacking is that the bubble is cutting off the worm from its babies. June pleads with the boys to not kill it for this very reason and Isaak suggests that they instead lure it away from town.

ISAAK: (...) but there’s no way to bring the bubble down. I’ve tried everything with that too.
MAGNUS: SHINK! What about this?
TRAVIS: That’s the Chance Lance.
GRIFFIN: [laughs] Oh, okay.
TRAVIS: I don’t have a good sound for it yet! [falsetto singing] Chance!

With that part of the plan covered, Isaak lets the others in on a plan of his; Flipping a lever that opens up Shaft B and closes Shaft A so they can lure it out through that way or at the very least get the town destroyed in a way different from the other twenty-five hundred times.

TAAKO: Hey, worse case scenario we die and we come back to life, no big deal.
MERLE: Yeah!
MAGNUS: ...Oh, hold on! No, well-?
TAAKO: Let’s do it!

Taako hits the lever and Shaft A closes while Shaft B opens up to reveal a cart track that goes into that shaft and spirals all the way around it, branching off into little tunnels here and there. Basically, a minecart roller coaster. Four minecarts roll out of a small hole at the start of the track and Roswell, without hesitation, jumps into the second of them.

ROSWELL: I’m gonna lead the worm away from the city, you three are more than welcome to join me if you want.
MAGNUS: You got it. Um, Isaak? For once in your miserable life, do something cool, get June out of here, and get her to safety.
ISAAK: Where is safe? What’s gonna be safe?
MAGNUS: Safer than here, man.

Isaak is a bit hesitant, as, unwittingly or not, he is the one who killed her father. Fortunately, June has had a lot of time to think things over and offers her hand to him. June begs the boys one last time to not kill the Purple Worm, and all three promise not to. Isaak and June head out as the boys prepare to board the minecarts. Magnus holds out his Chance Lance and prays for Istus to point him to the best track before finally boarding the first car, with Taako taking the fourth and Merle taking the third.


The engines for each cart kick into gear and lead the group down a long loop spiraling down the length of Shaft B, where they are interrupted by the Purple Worm bursting through a wall on the opposite side of the spiral, its mouth full of fire and heading towards Refuge. After a few failed attempts by Magnus and Merle to gain its attention, Taako successfully manages to direct the worm's attention away from Refuge by casting Shatter, causing a few rocks to drop on the worm's head, and it starts gunning for them. Just as it is about to catch up with them, the tracks suddenly branch off into a straightaway tunnel. While this happens, Magnus discreetly switches his Champion's Belt's dial to "fire".


The Purple Worm crashes and shreds through a bunch of the different tracks before stopping itself and arcing its head up towards the tunnel the boys are in, its rows of teeth grinding in opposing directions clockwise and counterclockwise as it drills its way towards them. Merle casts Shield of Faith on Taako, granting a +2 on his AC, while Taako, unsatisfied or perhaps untrusting Merle’s acumen, cast Fire Shield on himself.

GRIFFIN: Magnus, what are you going to do? All you’re trying to do is slow the purple worm down.
TRAVIS: Super great question. Well, with all of my magic and cool stuff [laughs] I’m gonna do nothing!
CLINT: [mockingly] Why don’t you make a chair and throw it at him?
TRAVIS: I do that.
GRIFFIN: You don’t have anything to make a chair out of.
TRAVIS: Damn it [sighs]

Magnus sees some cracks in the tunnel's ceiling and he throws his Chance Lance into one of them, cutting off one of the worm's tendrils in the process, before recalling it back onto himself. However, the Purple Worm is still coming in hot so Merle seeks guidance from his Scrying Bones on which part of the worm is most vulnerable, the outside or the inside? It's the inside. Using this new information, Magnus makes his greatest sacrifice yet and throws his collection of robot arms into the worm's open mouth, with most of them getting wedged in its teeth. This slows the worm down a bit but not enough to stop it. This leaves only Taako, who casts Evard's Black Tentacles. These tentacles reach up and grab the Purple Worm as she moves through their area of effect and she starts pulling these tentacles to the point where they’re about to snap and break in an attempt to escape. This gives the boys enough time to move out of this straightaway safely from the Purple Worm’s approach.

MAGNUS: Good job, Taako!
TAAKO: Magic is easy!


The boys exit out into a large black chasm. In front of them, the tracks branch off into two directions, left and right. A lever that can change the direction of all four carts springs out from the floor of Taako's car. After some deliberation, Taako recalls Paloma's big prophecy[1] and pulls the lever right. A few ways down the right track and right before going into a tunnel they see that the left track leads to a dead end, with ten carts full of skeletons all piled up on the ground a hundred feet below it. The lever inside Taako's cart recedes and four more levers appear in everyone's carts, this time moving up or down. Roswell and Magnus go up while Taako and Merle go down. Sure enough, the tracks start to branch upwards and downwards and the group goes down their respective paths. The Purple Worm gets a sudden burst of speed and starts chasing the boys in between the two tracks.

Merle casts Spiritual Weapon, which he shapes to look like a fish hook, which gets caught in the Worm's mouth and drags it backward away from the boys while also doing 13 damage to it. Magnus, noticing that the hook made an opening on the Worm's cheek, ties a rope around his Chance Lance and a crowbar. Holding onto the crowbar, Magnus throws the Lance into the opening and hooks the crowbar between the rails, stopping the Purple Worm in its tracks as it is flung back. Unfortunately, this move nearly destroys the track Magnus and Roswell are on and now it seems ready to collapse any second. Magnus recalls the Lance and utters Roswell's command word, "Junebug", and commands them to stretch and attach their arms to Merle's cart so he can use their arms as a bridge.

ROSWELL: This is a shitty shit shit shit plan, you know that, right?
MAGNUS: Junebug! Do it!

Roswell connects the two carts using their arms, losing some of their armor in the process, and Magnus, using his shield, zip lines down the arms onto Merle's cart.

MAGNUS: Okay, just jump!
ROSWELL: This is a shit idea, are you sure?
MAGNUS: It’s gonna be great!

Roswell retracts their arms and jumps down into the cart successfully but also loses their legs and leg armor. Roswell creates some new legs using clay from their torso and gives the boys a thumbs up. The track that Roswell and Magnus were just on then finally collapses into the wall as they near the end of the tunnel.


The boys notice that, amidst all the commotion, something damaged the engine to Taako's car, and that Roswell's weight is slowing down both carts, which is bad considering the Worm is starting to catch up with them. Fortunately, Merle remembers that he has a magic wrench that can fix things and whacks the engine with his Adamant Spanner, restoring it. As for the other problem, Merle suggests that Roswell jump out so they can lighten the load, but Taako has a better idea and instead casts Levitate on Roswell. This makes the carts go faster and Roswell starts to floats backward away from the carts and into the vicinity of the Worm. Roswell stretches their arms out so one of the boys to grab and Magnus grabs these arms and pulls Roswell forward just as the Purple Worm snaps its mouth shut, just narrowly missing Roswell.


The group comes out into a massive underground cavern, with tons of small tunnels bored in nearly every direction. However, there are no tracks leading into these tunnels, and, to their horror, the group realizes that the track they are currently on comes to a full stop in this room. Before the full stop, however, is a 120-foot ramp leading downward, followed by a brief incline, and then nothing. However, about 70 feet in front of the end is another ramp leading upward to the only source of light in the cavern, the bubble over Refuge. With only moments to spare, Magnus orders Merle to hold onto Roswell and tells Taako to get into the front cart and Enlarge the engine so they can speed up the cart.

TAAKO: That seems dumb–
MAGNUS: It’ll be great! It seems we gotta break through, right? And remember the cannon? The only way to get through the bubble was the high-speed, right? And I’ve got this lance. Let’s do this.
TAAKO: Brace your asses. [snorts]

Another source of light appears in the room as the Purple Worm open its mouth and charges up another fireball. In response, Merle casts Guardian of Faith and summons Della Reese onto the rear cart they are about to cut loose so they can send it back at the worm and do damage to it.

DELLA REESE: This feels right.

Della Reese jams a beautiful golden heavenly spear into the hitch connecting the two carts and goes flying back towards the worm and attacks it. Casting this spell causes Merle to let go of Roswell, and they begin floating backward. Now perfectly in between the boys and the worm, Roswell draws their halberd, ready to strike the worm, only for Taako to cast and grab Roswell with Bigby's Hand.

ROSWELL: Okay, you all have done some great work here, I need you to trust me, right now! Trust me! Taako, tell me that I made Refuge safe. Just do it! Tell me that I made Refuge safe!
TAAKO: Roswell, you made Refuge safe.
GRIFFIN: As you say that, Roswell starts to kind of expand like they did in the bank.
ROSWELL: Thanks a lot, fellas.

A fireball shoots out the Purple Worm's mouth and right as it leaves its mouth, Roswell spasms for a bit and spreads their clay outwards in a giant red sheet. The yellow glow sustaining Roswell disappears from their clay and enters the vermillion flycatcher on Roswell's shoulder as the sheet catches the fireball in its tracks and stops it from reaching the boys' cart. The flycatcher flies away from the ensuing explosion as the worm gets caught in the sheet, slowing it down long enough for the boys to safely and freely fly down the ramp and launch upward towards the bubble. Magnus braces the Chance Lance in his shoulder forward and jabs it into the side of the bubble. The extremely loud room falls silent and the boys find themselves suddenly sailing through the white space in a minecart going a hundred miles an hour before finally exiting out a hole in the white space leading to the outside. The cart crash lands back in Woven Gulch and flips over, dumping the boys back in front of Avi and the cannon as it continues to go past them.

GRIFFIN: Avi turns and looks at you and he’s really startled.
AVI: [exhales quickly] You guys just scared the shit out of-

Avi is interrupted by the hole the boys came through expanding and shooting out a still very angry Purple Worm through the side of the bubble. Magnus pulls Avi down as the worm goes sailing above all four of them and skids to a halt just past them. The Purple Worm is not deterred, however, and it attempts to shoot another fireball at them, only to be stopped by the appearance of the three worms the boys fought and spared prior to entering Refuge.[2] They gather around the Purple Worm, making overjoyed sounds, and it decides to spare the boys. After letting out a roar of joy, the Purple Worm wraps around its three children and burrows back down into the ground, finally reunited with its family.

CLINT: [singing] It’s a mother and child re-u-u-u-nion~! You guys have heard that song before right?
TRAVIS: Nope! But I get the point of it, it was pretty straightforward.
GRIFFIN: You literally said the thing that happened.
CLINT: Well, Paul Simon did originally, I was just quoting.

[Money Zone]

A white as sheet Avi stands paralyzed with fear. After a few attempts to snap him out of it, the boys realize that he is literally paralyzed just as the Red Robe appears behind him. They quickly put a finger up to their lips and, with a wave of their hand, silences the boys' Stones of Farspeech. They ask if the boys retrieved the Temporal Chalice. The boys answer yes. They ask if the boys changed anything with it. The boys answer no. The Red Robe asks again if they used the Chalice. Once again, the boys answer no.

RED ROBE: I'm really proud of you. I thought there was a chance that maybe this would be the one to end your adventure.
MAGNUS: Wait- you're proud of- hold on, you're the Red Robe, right? You're one of the bad guys.
RED ROBE: Who told you that?

The Red Robe asks if the boys trust them. The boys answer with a firm, but honest, "hell no". This response causes the Red Robe to literally lose its composure as its spectral form starts to jerk violently and bolts of red energy shoot out from its body. One of these bolts moves toward Merle who, with a Nat 20, dodges out of the way. The Red Robe drops to their knee and starts muttering to themself in a voice different from the voice they have been speaking to the boys with.

RED ROBE: [without warped voice] Lup, they don't trust me. I can't do it anymore, Lup. I'm sorry.

The Red Robe regains their composure and tells the boys that they will need to trust them completely the next time they meet, or else everything they've done will be for nothing.

RED ROBE: The Hunger is almost here. And when it arrives, this world will be lost.

With that ominous warning, the Red Robe disappears. Avi becomes unparalyzed and asks if what he just saw was a purple worm. Taako confirms his suspicions and asks him how long they have been from his perspective, to which Avi answers forty-five minutes. The boys notice that, despite putting a hole in it, the bubble is still around Refuge and they see Istus's reflection inside of the barrier. She thanks the boys for their help and explains that the reason the bubble is still up is that the time in Refuge is out of step with the rest of time.

ISTUS: Time passed a bit differently in there than it did with the rest of the world. June, using the cup on the day that the worm attacked, she looped a single day 2,517 times. Well, they’re about to catch up. Um, you should really watch,

Istus disappears, and the bubble goes transparent. The boys see Refuge and its citizens on the other side, all of whom are moving extremely quickly because time is moving really fast in the bubble. The boys see the sun rise and set a few times per second, creating something akin to a white strobe light effect. The whole town gathers near the edge of the bubble, near where the boys are standing, and they watch in timelapse as they quickly erect a big wooden sign, which they decorate and ornately paint with a single word: “Thanks!” Under the sign, there are three clay figures modeled after the boys that some kids are crafting up, which they do in time-lapse really quickly. And as the boys watch this fast-forward scene in front of them, every time they move, the kids instantly reshape these clay statues to mimic them, almost like its a game, even though time is passing at wildly different speeds.

Nearly 7 years pass in ten minutes, with the boys seeing various events such as midsummer harvest festivals, weddings, Candlenight celebrations, funerals, good days, bad days, etc. After ten minutes are up, time inside the bubble slows down until it’s nearly in real time. And the town gathers around the sign they erected in the boys' honor, and without a sound, the bubble pops. All the inhabitants of Refuge begin cheering, and they quickly envelop all four of them, some wanting to know more about Avi, who is a complete mystery to them. Some of them pull Avi in and start bombarding him with all sorts of questions, like whether or not the boys work under him and if he helped take down the bubble. As Avi graciously hangs out with these people, the boys are whisked away to a feast made in their honor.

With seven years having passed for the people of Refuge, the boys decide to check in on some of Refuge's residents before they leave for good. Magnus and Taako go to talk with a much older Paloma who congratulates them on getting the best possible outcome out of the many shitty ones she foresaw.

MAGNUS: Did I make the right choice?
PALOMA: Hm. That’s hard to say. We’re all here and I think it was the right choice because things could’ve gone very, very badly for all of us if you had made a different choice. So– it was maybe not the best choice for you, but it was the best choice for us. Does that make sense?
MAGNUS: Thank you.

Paloma grabs Taako and leads him away so they speak in private. She hands him one of her crystals and gives him one final prophecy: "In your hour of greatest need, you will find the power that you seek from the man wreathed in flames."

TAAKO: Well my lady, I have one request for you.
PALOMA: Yes, what is it?
TAAKO: Will you find the kids, in town, who spent all their time to make those beautiful statues of us… and tell them to make my dick bigger.
PALOMA: [high fives Taako] You got me good that time, son.

Meanwhile, Merle visits Cassidy, who is decked out in a fancy suit and top hat, at the Elder's Manor where he learns that in the time passed Cassidy was made the new town elder. Merle tells Cassidy he is proud of her and she asks if he plans on ever visiting Refuge again, to which Merle answers with a definite no. Merle, expecting something in return for saving Refuge, asks Cassidy if she has something to give him. Cassidy reaches into her pocket and tells Merle that, in his hour of need, what she is about to give him will supply him with just the saving grace that he requires. Merle stretches out his hand and is given... a couple of lint-covered root beer barrel candies.

CASSIDY: They’res my favourites, you know this.
MERLE: [annoyed] Yeah. Mmhm.
CASSIDY: We’ve been trapped in a bubble, a closed environment for 7 years and I’ve held onto these root beer barrels- I fought off the temptation to eat these things- where you going?
MERLE: [increasingly sounding more distant] Typical, typical, typical, fun, thanks a lot!

Magnus finds a fifteen-year-old June working with Ren Mol'diira at The Davy Lamp. June thanks Magnus for all he has done and runs up to her room, returning with a scroll that has his scrawled on the outside, which she hands him. After June runs back into her room, Magnus hears the voice of the Red Robe warn him that opening the tube will make it harder for them to protect him, but Magnus tells them to "bite my ass" and opens it anyway.

Taako casts Fabricate on a piece of paper and heads into The Davy Lamp, where he sees Ren polishing some glasses behind the bar.

REN: Oh my god, Taako! I’m just kidding, I remember you coming up and seeing me a couple times, how about that magic lesson, boss?
TAAKO: Actually, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.

Taako unfurls the piece of paper and presents Ren with a diploma that reads: “Top of her class, this scroll bestows upon you, Ren, the high honor of being the first and only graduate of Taako’s Amazing School of Magic.”

REN: Aren’t I supposed to like, take lessons and stuff? Aren’t I supposed to like, learn from you first, before… ?
REN: Yeah?
TAAKO: [softly] I’ve been watching the whole time.

Ren tells Taako that she'll never forget this and gives him a big hug. Taako also gives her the Gust Master-5000 as he has no real use for it considering he can already cast Gust of Wind. Ren asks if they will meet again, and Taako tells her "he's not the DM on this one" but that he hopes so.

The boys visit Istus's temple, which has been rebuilt by Luca, who is no longer a skeleton, and Redmond, who looks seven years older and is now pudgier. Magnus asks the brothers for a moment inside the temple, which they accept. Magnus heads into the temple and calls for Istus, causing two candles near the pulpit to flare up. He asks if she knows anything about the static the boys encountered during their time with the Chalice[3] but gets no response. Magnus asks if they should be concerned about the static and one of the candles goes out and rolls off the pulpit and down the stairs. Merle goes up to the pulpit to make one last offering.

MERLE: Mighty Istus, an offering to you to show our love and gratitude.
CLINT: And I put those two nasty root beer barrels on it.
ISTUS: [soft whisper]...Yuck…
MERLE: Aw, I’ll take them back then.
ISTUS: No, leave ‘em. Maybe I can clean them off.

The boys pass by the statue of Jack, June, and the Red Robe as they are leaving Refuge. Besides this statue is another smaller statue of Roswell made by the same kids who created the statues of the boys. As the boys take a moment to admire the handiwork of this statue they hear someone say:


And standing on this statue in front of the boys is Roswell, now in vermillion flycatcher form! They tell the guys that, now that they are no longer bound to serve Refuge anymore, they are off to explore the world to their heart's content. Magnus tells Roswell that if they ever get bored they can hang out with them on the moon and Roswell flies off to parts unknown. Avi summons an excavation bubble and the boys make it back to the moonbase, where they hand the Chalice over to Davenport to be destroyed. It gets put into a metal ball, etc. etc. and when it opens back up its empty.

THE DIRECTOR: Avi reported everything in already, I guess I’m sorry for making such a big deal out of everything; apparently this relic wasn’t as difficult to reclaim as I thought it was going to be, so, well done, boys.
MAGNUS: No, it was super tough!
TAAKO: Get bent. [Tells her the whole story]
THE DIRECTOR: Okay. Well, I take it back, that sounds fucking awful.

Lucretia hands the boys 5400 gold pieces, which they split into 1800 each, and some Fantasy Gachapon tokens.

Epilogueedit | hide | edit source

Later that night, Merle notices while stargazing out in the quad that there seem to be fewer stars in the sky than normal. As he intently watches the sky in order to confirm his suspicions one of the stars winks out right in front of his eyes.

MERLE: That’s weird.

Taako returns to his private dorm and as he hangs the Cloak of the Manta Ray on his coat rack, turns and finds Kravitz, with his fancy black suit and handsome face, sitting on his couch. He stands up and says:

KRAVITZ: Well, we need to talk, don’t we? ‘Cause you boys… You’ve added quite a bit to your death count, haven’t you?
TAAKO: …That one’s on me.

Magnus sits alone in the Bureau's dining hall. Magnus pops the tube open again and unfurls the two papers inside, both of which give off a strange sensation that prevents Magnus from drawing any kinds of conclusions on what he sees. The first paper is a sketch of the design of the statue that stands in the middle of Refuge. The second paper is an older draft of the same statue.

GRIFFIN: In this earlier sketch, Jack and June look exactly the same, but the Red Robe’s hood is pulled down. And you can see his face. And it’s an incredibly familiar face, Magnus. Because it’s your face. This figure in this red robe, is you.

[Theme Tune Plays]

The Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source

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Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

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