Balance – Episode 57: The Suffering Game: Chapter Seven

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Aw dang! What a cool cuss! I think you might be doing some cussing of your own by this episode's end. It's the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"The Suffering Game: Chapter Seven," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 57th episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

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Full transcript available here.

Game over.

Taako makes some fashionable friends. Merle does some wordplay. Magnus remembers.

Cam has left the party, Magnus is now a mannequin, and the Tres Horny Boys are about to throw down with Edward (who's now in Magnus' body) and Lydia. But before that last bit can happen, one of the liches uses the black smog on the ceiling to form a steel beam and attempts to drop it on the boys. Luckily, the Red Robe makes himself visible to all the boys and intercepts the steel beam with two human-shaped statues, also made from the black smog, who catch it with their hands and disappear back into the black smog.

MAGNUS: Listen, uh, Taako, Merle, I know that’s a little weird, and you’re just gonna have to trust me on this one: He’s with us. I think. More or less.
GRIFFIN: He gives you a big thumbs-up.
TRAVIS: I give him a wooden, like, a salute.

Seeing this new entrant into the fight, and seeing that the steel beam failed to hit, Edward smugly laughs and says,

EDWARD: Well this fight just got a lot more interesting.

Edward reaches an arm into the air and snaps, and suddenly the cylindrical chambers that are surrounding the central platform all start to emit different-colored beams of neon light that shoot up and onto the ceiling of this massive chamber, and the outer ring of cylinders begins to rotate around the central platform, the floor of which has also turned into a checkered neon light.

WONDERLAND: ROUND THREE START edit | hide | edit source

Enemy's Turn!

Lydia starts floating in the air. Lydia heals Edward for 38 damage.

MERLE: Waaaaaaaaaaaiiiit a minute I thought healing didn’t work in here!
LYDIA: Oh, that’s only a one-way street, dear!

Hero's Turn!

Magnus reviews his current stats:

  • Personality trait: Is a mannequin
  • Ideals: To be a mannequin
  • Bonds: Very few, because is mannequin
  • Flaws: Splinters
  • Features and Traits: Is a literal mannequin
  • Languages: Common and Mannequin

Magnus uses his new ability to communicate with mannequins to ask if they could offer him any help in fighting Edward and Lydia. The mannequins shake their heads no and shrug. Magnus jumps onto Edward's back and attempts to get the Chance Lance away from him. He fails! Edward easily shrugs Magnus off. Magnus saves! Magnus lands on his feet and takes no damage!

Enemy's Turn!

EDWARD: Let’s see what this baby can do!

Edward uses Goading Attack on Magnus. He fails! Edward attacks Merle with Railsplitter. He succeeds! Merle takes 9 damage! Merle is unconscious...

Hero's Turn!

Taako casts Animate Objects on the mannequins. Taako commands these mannequins to attack Edward. However, these mannequins are still under the command of Lydia and must be swayed to Taako's side.

MAGNUS: Friends, mannequins. Help us! My wooden brothers! Join me in this fight against your captors! Your controllers, they have used you for evil and we shall use you, we shall free you from their bonds. And after this, we’ll totally take you with us 100% guaranteed.

Five of the mannequins are convinced! Mannequin x5 tackle Edward. Three of them succeed! Edward takes 30 damage!

Merle is unconscious...

Enemy's Turn!

Lydia conjures a wrecking ball from the black smog, which swings towards the direction of Taako. The Red Robe blocks it with another wrecking ball! Lydia casts Ray of Enfeeblement] A black beam of enervating energy extends from Lydia's finger and towards Magnus. Magnus fails to save! Magnus will only deal half damage with weapon attacks that use Strength until the spell ends.

Hero's Turn!

Magnus attempts to activate the Magnetic Charge which is currently on Edward's person. He succeeds!

Pause Fight

Magnus sneaks up on Edward as he's fighting off Taako's mannequins and activates the Magnetic Charge. Every metallic item (i.e. Chance Lance, Flaming Raging Poisoning Sword of Doom, etc.) in its vicinity is suddenly flung into the crowd of mannequins.

Resume Fight

Magnus attempts to call the Chance Lance to himself. BUT WAIT!!! Edward also attempts to call the Chance Lance to himself!

GRIFFIN: Oh my god. Okay, are we gonna do a fucking, Star Wars Episode VII, like—
TRAVIS: Fuck yeah


MAGNUS |||||||||| EDWARD

MAGNUS |||||||||| EDWARD

MAGNUS |||||||||| EDWARD

Magnus retrieves the Chance Lance! Edward smirks in response...

Enemy's Turn!

Edward uses the move Poetic Justice. Edward attempts to rip off one of Magnus's fucking arms! He succeeds! Magnus takes 21 damage and loses his right arm!

Pause Fight

After getting his ass kicked, Magnus recalls a memory of another time he got his ass kicked. Specifically, the memory of the time he got beat up by a couple of bullies while attempting to protect a dog.[1] And as a beaten up kid Magnus lies on the ground looking up at the sky, which also happens to have a unnatural light purple color, he realizes that there are two suns in the sky, both nearly overlapping each other right on the horizon.

GRIFFIN: And you think, “Oh that’s… that’s weird.” But then you remember, “Oh, well, it’s not weird at all,” because that’s how it is here, in your home. This world that this memory is taking place in, this is your home. This world that you’re on now, this place you’re at and have been for a while, it is not where you’re from.

Resume Fight

Hero's Turn!

Mannequin x5 attack Edward. All of them succeed! Edward takes 45 damage!

Taako breaks through Lydia's Ray of Enfeeblement and casts Protection from Evil and Good on Magnus. Magnus is now protected from certain status effects, creatures, etc.

Merle is now slightly conscious... and he sees Cam floating above him!

CAM: Hey, Crimson Wonder, were you the one that cooked up that door earlier? I got an order for ya. Can ya make me up a Healing Game?

The Red Robe nods and conjures Cam’s pedestal from The Healing Game.

GRIFFIN: Cam looks down at Merle, and then he looks up at you, Taako and Magnus, and he says,
CAM: I, uh, I thought of something heroic to do.

Cam casts Mage Hand. A spectral hand appears and slaps down on the pedestal. A beam of light shoots up from the ground beneath the pedestal and consumes Cam and the pedestal. Cam is dead...

Merle recovers 6 HP. Merle is awake! Merle uses the Ring of the Grammarian to turn Divine Word into Divine Wood. Merle casts Divine Wood on Magnus. Magnus recovers 14 HP and is now imbued with divine power.

Enemy's Turn!

Lydia casts Death Bolt. A ball of darkness is hurled at Taako. Taako fails to save! Taako takes 19 damage! Taako is unconscious...

Hero's Turn!

Magnus channels the divinity imbued onto him into the Chance Lance, and he attempts to jab it into Edward's back. He succeeds! Before it even makes contact, a faint holy light emits out of the end of the Chance Lance and hits Edward for 21 damage. Edward is sent flying and he lands in-between all three of the boys.

GRIFFIN: And you hear him say, he kind of gets up on all fours and he says,

Pause Fight

Edward falls back over and, almost like a cartoon dead person, his spectral Lich form rises up out of Magnus’s real body.

EDWARD: Did you really think—

Suddenly, Taako's Umbra Staff rears up in Taako's sleepy hand, turns inside out, and because Edward is a lich and is practically made out of magic, Edward is sucked into the Staff. Things go a bit differently than normal, however, as Edward is seemingly tossed around inside the Staff so forcefully that it flies out of Taako's hand and onto the floor. The Umbra Staff continues to bounce around for about ten more seconds before turning inside out again and shooting him out.

GRIFFIN: And he slides about eight feet down the runway, and then disintegrates into ash.
CLINT: Nice.

Lydia lets out a scream of rage, and she drops down beside her fallen brother and she begins to lose the clarity of her Lich shape. Eventually, she reverts back into her basic black robe form, no fancy garments whatsoever, and she picks up some of her brother's ashes in her hands, and she says,

LYDIA: I guess… I guess we still needed each other after all.

Lydia points a finger towards the Tres Horny Boys, and she just screams. There is a flash of darkness and a deafening roar, as the party feels and sees dark, crackling energy blowing around all of you like a sandstorm. And when it passes, Lydia is gone. And sitting in another pile of ashes at the end of the runway is a small, copper bell inlaid with a diamond pattern across its body where she lay. Edward and Lydia are slain...

Victory...or is it!?

The Red Robe points down to the spot on the runway where Edward fell, and also where all of Magnus's belongings are. However, Magnus's body is gone!

MAGNUS: My beautiful body!
GRIFFIN: With her last, furious act, Lydia destroyed your body.

[Money Zone]

Justin retcons that when Edward was sucked into the Umbra Staff, Taako regained consciousness for a split second in order to utter this line:

TAAKO: Liches...get...stitches... [blacks out]
MAGNUS: Now to be fair, Merle, I think we will both agree that Taako would want to die after making that joke, so we should just let him go peacefully into that good night.

Magnus checks through his belongings to see if Steven made it out okay, which he did thank God, and he gives one of his healing potions to Taako, which brings him above zero. Magnus sees that the Red Robe is pointing at the Animus Bell, and he asks them if he should grab it. They nod yes, and Magnus goes to pick it up. Of course, like the other relics, the Bell tries to tempt Magnus into using it.

THE ANIMUS BELL : How would you like to live forever?
MAGNUS: I’d hate it. Shut the fuck up.
THE ANIMUS BELL: [hurriedly] Uh, oh! Okay!

Magnus picks up the Bell, and the room is suddenly struck by a big windstorm that absorbs the entirety of Wonderland (including the mannequins, black smog, etc.) until nothing is left of it. The wind shifts upwards into the sky and the boys find themselves back in the middle of the circular clearing in the Felicity Wilds that contained all those billboards advertising Wonderland, except those are gone too. Also in this circular clearing are about twenty other really confused and miserable looking people. Taako feels a hand on his shoulder and is healed for thirty-six damage by none other than Antonia, who now has a sash covering her eyes and white streaks in her hair.

ANTONIA: Rough day?
TAAKO: Yeah… yeah... It’s been a hard one… I died twice… I guess… So I’m—and um… that’s been all the things that have happened.
ANTONIA: My day was pretty shit.
MAGNUS: Are you a mannequin?
ANTONIA: Uh, no, n—oh my God is that Magnus?!
MAGNUS: Yeah! Yeah, so, maybe like, keep your shit to yourself unless you’re a fucking mannequin.

Antonia tells the boys that she can tell it was them that freed everyone from Wonderland, and because of that she's willing to forgive them for screwing over her group during the second Trust or Forsake. Taako takes this as an opportunity to absolve all possible guilt he might have felt for being the one who screwed them in the first place, because:

TAAKO: [barely keeping together with laughter] At the end of the day! I guess it doesn’t matter who pushed what buttons and who… betrayed who, really. The important thing! Is that we’re all… family! We’re all part of this thing called life. By the way, you’re welcome!
MERLE: Hakuna matata, to you!

Artemis Sterling, now looking to be in his late thirties, approaches Merle and, after a few seconds of silence, drops to his knees and begs for forgiveness from Merle for forsaking his group during the first Trust or Forsake round.

MERLE: My son! My son! Say… three Hail Marys, and six push-ups, and all is forgiven.

Artemis vows to one day use his considerable power to make it up to Merle. Magnus, meanwhile, ignores an approaching Rowan and storms over to the Red Robe demanding answers. He swings his detached arm at them but they catch it easily and Magnus is struck by another forgotten memory. This time it's Magnus walking through a desert, lost and thirsty, in an attempt to hide something he has created and is terrified of. In his hand is a red jacket with an insignia over the left breast pocket, and which he has taken off in order to make it through the desert's unbearable heat. Eventually, Magnus stumbles upon two strangers, a man and a small girl, who give Magnus water, hospitality, and kindness.

GRIFFIN: You spend some time with them and they’re just really good. And so you decide that you’re gonna hide your creation with them. Because they’re gonna be the ones who are gonna be able to keep this cup safe.

Magnus comes back to and he finds himself and the other boys following the Red Robe through the Felicity Wilds. The Red Robe stops walking (floating?) for a second and promises the group that everything will make sense soon. Suddenly, Angus's voice comes out from each of the boys' Stones of Farspeech asking for their whereabouts. The Red Robe hears this and makes an illusory object in the shape of a Stone of Farspeech and gestures for them hand over theirs. Magnus complies and tells the other two to also hand them over, which they do somewhat reluctantly. The Red Robe then crushes the Stones in their hand.

TAAKO: Hell yeah, goin’ rogue! Been waitin’ for this the whole time! Fuck yes! Off the grid!
JUSTIN: I pull out my credit cards and shred ‘em.
TAAKO: Fuck yes! Taako’s always ready for this! I’m ready to go off the grid at any fuckin’ moment!

Something like thunder roars overhead after they do this and the boys notice that the sky looks like it's storming, but it's not raining. The Red Robe explains that they'll need to hurry before night falls as tomorrow will be a very fateful day for them. The Red Robe conjures a coin-shaped object in their hand and whispers into it a reminder for later:

THE RED ROBE: You’ll need to disguise Magnus, obviously, and...don’t let anyone touch him, or we’ll be discovered.
GRIFFIN: And then he waves his hand over the coin and it disappears.

Thanks to a successful Survival Check by Merle, the boys' are able to safely navigate through the Felicity Wilds, and when it comes time to make camp they settle down in the same camping spot they made little over a year ago during their first mission together.[2] During the night, Magnus has some more visions of his forgotten past, with the two that stick out the most being a vision of him standing on a silver ship surrounded by other red robes as they fly away from a land being consumed by waves of darkness, and a vision of The Voidfish with a thick book bound in blue leather and silver trim floating in its tank.

The next morning, the group makes it through the Felicity Wilds, and they are lead by the Red Robe into a cavern and eventually into a room lit by several dozen candles, all arranged on a desk piled with magical tomes and maps. Behind that desk is a map of Faerûn, with strings connecting to possible locations of Grand Relics. Opposite from this desk is a glowing pod full of green fluid and with something growing inside of it. Lastly, there is a huge scroll unfurled that shows with perfect accuracy the headquarters of the Bureau of Balance, and a large wooden chest with a red robe draped over it.

GRIFFIN: And sewn into its breast you see a familiar sight. You see a circular patch, with a design containing twelve multicolored circles, and a sort of like...shifting, imparsable text in the middle of it. Only Magnus, you can read that text as plain as day. It’s an acronym, and it says: “I.P.R.E.”

The Red Robe explains that they've used the glowing pod several times to recreate their physical form in pursuit of their goal, but a side effect is that they forget all the truths they know about in their lich form, which is why they have the coin handy to give their living self commands. They also explain to Magnus that they won't be able to recreate a body for Magnus as the process takes months, and they've only got hours. The Red Robe then prepares to enter the body growing inside the pod and asks Merle to be a bud and retrieve some clothes from the chest for when he comes out.

As they lower themselves into the pod, Magnus has one last vision of him fighting off an army of shadows as tar-like pillars of darkness streaked various colors plow into the ground. Off in the distance, a silver ship weaves through these columns and fly out of sight, which fills him with immense relief, and next to him he sees a human man also wearing the same crimson outfit with the same I.P.R.E patch as the one Magnus is wearing in this vision, except theirs is a full robe instead of a jacket. Suddenly, this human man is impaled in the chest by a black tendril, which causes him to stagger back.

GRIFFIN: And he turns, and he looks at you, Magnus, and he smiles. And he says,
UNKNOWN MAN: [same voice as Red Robe] Well. We’ll get ‘em next time.

Merle opens up the chest and finds a white cotton shirt, a studded leather belt, and a pair of pants. Sturdy, denim, and blue. The pod splits open and out steps a man the Tres Horny Boys never expected to see ever again after what happened to him in Phandalin.

GRIFFIN: Barry's back.

[End of Episode]

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