Balance – Episode 59: Lunar Interlude V: Reunion Tour (Part Two)

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We're nearly caught up now. Have you been paying attention? This next part is... well, it's important. It's the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"Lunar Interlude V: Reunion Tour (Part Two)," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 59th episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

Synopsisedit | hide all | hide | edit source

Full transcript available here.

Our heroes are out of time, out of options, out of places to hide. The holes in their history are starting to fill in; but are they going to like the answers they receive? We're almost caught up, now. Taako fights his fears. Merle loses faith. Magnus hears music.

A quiet motionless storm hangs overhead, and there is no one around as Taako and Merle leave the abandoned Fantasy Costco and make their way towards Lucretia's chambers. They enter the room overlooking the relic destruction chamber to find Angus McDonald, intently studying the destruction process, and Lucretia, who apologizes for sending them into Wonderland and getting Magnus killed. Taako casts Detect Thoughts and learns that she is genuinely happy and relieved to see them and also heartbroken about Magnus. She is also excited, anxious and a little bit worried about something else but Taako does not probe further since it would make her aware of the spell.

Merle puts on a spiel about being broken up over Magnus' death and asks Lucretia if he and Taako may have a few minutes alone in her office to remember all the good times they had in there. To their surprise, the bluff works, and she says that she will join them in a little while.

As they enter her office, Taako casts Detect Magic and only the painting behind Lucretia's desk gives off any magic vibes. Barry's coin chimes on and informs them that they will need to move past the big heavy door that leads into her private sanctum and that this may be the point of no return—for once they go through with it, they will very much be trespassing.

They Split the Party, huhedit | hide | edit source

Magnus leaves the abandoned Fantasy Costco, bringing with him his Bureau bracelet, the Tarantula Bracelet, and his old shield & ax. He makes his way to The Voidfish's dome without running into anyone and realizes it's Midsummer, but there is no Midsummer Festival being put on this year. (Consequently, it has also been exactly one year since sinister eyes appeared above the Bureau base). He takes the elevator down to the Voidfish's chambers. The guard retinue usually posted outside the chambers is nowhere to be seen, but he can hear a harp being plucked within the chamber itself. He sneaks the door open and sees Johann sitting in front of the tank, playing his harp. The Voidfish begins to sing upon seeing Magnus but Johann is unaware of his presence. Magnus uses his Tarantula bracelet to climb up to the ceiling and drop down on Johann. He knocks him out with a sleeper hold, doing his best not to hurt him while rendering him unconscious. Unfortunately, Johann drops his harp and a couple of the strings snap as it hits the floor.

The Boys have a bad tripedit | hide | edit source

Merle and Taako discuss whether they are truly going through with the plan and turning on the Bureau.

TAAKO: So, here’s my thought.
MERLE: Okay.
TAAKO: We just got the last thingamajig, right? The last artifact or what have you?
MERLE: Right.
TAAKO: After this, we’re unemployed, right?

They both agree that staying with the Bureau is unlikely to get them any more money, but these new people might have work for them. Being in agreement to carry on with the plan, Taako attempts to kick the door open, hurts his leg, and then opens it like a normal person. It opens up into a long, empty hallway, about ten feet wide and a hundred feet long. Barry's coin chimes in again and starts outlining the solution to a complex puzzle involving twelve orbs on pedestals that need to be touched in a certain order, there is, however, no puzzle in sight. The boys fail to detect anything unusual about the hallway and walk on in – and immediately sink into the floor like it's quicksand.

They are both sinking quickly while being pulled towards the middle of the room and scorpions start coming out of the walls, crawling towards them. Merle pulls out the Vroom Broom but before he can use it, it bursts into flames and is destroyed. He is left holding a bouquet of dead flowers, from which spiders start to crawl onto his soulwood arm. Taako, meanwhile, is pulled under and finds himself terrifyingly alone in a dark space. But he suddenly realizes that none of this is real and finds that he is actually just lying on the floor, with Merle writhing next to him, still under the illusion's influence. He snaps Merle out of it by shouting into his mind with the Band of Telepathic Thought.

Having come to their senses, they hear a faint clanging noise and see a large alarm bell activated by their intrusion. However, the noise is muffled as someone has cast Silence on it.

GRIFFIN: And standing in the doorway behind you, you see Angus McDonald holding a wand outstretched. And he says—
TAAKO: Hell yeah! Nice magic, little man!
GRIFFIN: And he says:
ANGUS: Start talking. I—I need to know what you know.

Magnus goes for another swimedit | hide | edit source

Feeling bad about the broken harp, Magnus quickly fixes it before approaching the Voidfish. It beckons him to enter the tank again and as Magnus climbs up to the opening, it wraps a couple of tendrils around him to help his buoyant mannequin body stay submerged. Magnus asks what the Voidfish knows about him that he doesn't know and it shows him a vision in response.

From the Voidfish's perspective, he sees a crystal cave where several Voidfish are gleefully flying around. He sees himself in a red uniform, walking towards it and speaking to it. There are also several other figures in red uniforms in the cave. The vision blinks and he sees himself running towards a silver ship with some of the other Red Robes and the Voidfish. The vision ends and Magnus asks the Voidfish to confirm that he is indeed a Red Robe. It does not quite understand what a Red Robe is but shows him several visions in which he is wearing a red uniform, often alongside other people in similarly red uniforms. These visions take place aboard the silver ship, where he appears to be checking in on the Voidfish and trying to figure out how to feed it.

As the vision ends Magnus attempts to contact Taako, who is at this moment under the influence of the illusion in the corridor, so all he hears from him is screaming and shouting. Turning his attention back to the Voidfish, he asks if anything he remembers is real.

GRIFFIN: Oh, yeah, that’s all real. I don’t know how the Voidfish would, like, lie about that, but that’s—that’s all real, I wouldn’t.
TRAVIS: It’s a real fear I was having.
GRIFFIN: I’m doin’ some stuff here but I’m not gonna take the backstories that y’all came up with and, like, fuckin’ throw ‘em in the dumpster for my own thing. ‘Cause that’s shitty DMing and shitty storytelling. So I’ll just—this is Griffin telling you outright, like, yeah, that stuff’s real.

Magnus asks if the Voidfish knows what's really happening with the relics but it doesn't. Then he asks if there's anything he can do to help it gets its kid back and the Voidfish grabs him and roars loudly. He sees another vision, this time the Voidfish is nursing an egg in its tank. A small baby Voidfish hatches from the egg and the two voidfish dance around happily. Next, the vision shows Lucretia entering the chamber and then leaving with the baby Voidfish in a small tank as the parent Voidfish screams and sings in sadness.

As the Voidfish releases Magnus he sees that Johann is conscious again and has spotted him. But before either of them can do anything Johann is cut down. He is thrown backward and collapses motionless on the floor. Magnus' visions clear and he can suddenly see that the room is full of humanoid figures of varying shapes and sizes. They are composed of dark matter with swirling flashes of colour inside. Some are tall with broad shoulders and long arms, some look robotic and others are just living shadows with long, horrible claws for hands. He remembers that these beings look the same as those in his visions of him and Barry getting killed. With horror, Magnus recognizes them and realizes that The Hunger has found them.

[Money Zone]

Zone of Truth Junioredit | hide | edit source

Taako and Merle both make wisdom saving throws and successfully resist as Angus casts Zone of Truth on them.

MERLE: [laughing]
TAAKO: That was adorable.
MERLE: Nice try, kid!
TAAKO: He invented Zone of Truth, this guy.
MERLE: I am Mr. Zone of Truth!

Barry, however, does not make the save and from inside Taako's bag, they hear his voice.

BARRY: Ay, I'm hidin’ in this guy’s bag and I'm gettin’ kinda claustrophobic and also I'm not supposed to be up here!
TAAKO: Oh, shit.

Barry climbs out of the bag and Taako agrees to tell Angus everything.

TAAKO: I can’t lie, you cast Zone of Truth on me.
MERLE: We resisted, though.
TAAKO: Well, okay, now he knows that.

With the cat (and Barry) out of the bag, Taako allows Merle to cast Zone of Truth on him, willingly forgoing his saving throw. Stating that he trusts Angus implicitly, he goes on to tell him the whole truth, hoping that Angus of all people should be able to figure out what is really going on.

Angus is conflicted about going against the Bureau and the Director since she took him in and gave him a home. Even so, he has discovered that the spheres being taken into the relic disposal chamber are not the same as those the relics are actually being placed into and he wants to help the Boys discover the complete truth.

They continue through the corridor up to a vault door, much like the ones they entered through except that this door has a numerical keypad on it. There are seven empty spaces above the keypad, indicating a seven digit password is required. Merle gets out Nitpicker, who immediately starts berating him.

NITPICKER: What the fuck is wrong with you? How are you this bad at adventuring?! You know what I do, I pick locks and stuff! Does this look like a lock? No, it looks like a fuckin’ Tandy 5000! What am I supposed to do about this?

Meanwhile, Taako simply uses the Hole Thrower to create a ten feet wide hole in the door, allowing them to waltz through.

The Last Stand of Mannequin Magnusedit | hide | edit source

The Hunger is still advancing on the Voidfish's tank and Magnus can see that Johann is looking really, very, very bad. He starts to swim up as he reassures the Voidfish that he's gonna get its kid back and asks if it needs water to live. The Voidfish lets him know it's fine without water and they both get up on top of the tank. With a mighty swing of his ax, Magnus shatters the glass of the tank and sends a huge wave of water outwards. It knocks back a bunch of The Hunger, taking out about 20 of them, but without the glass in it, the whole tank crumples and he also falls. He lands near Johann and The Hunger descends upon him. He takes out four of them in a last stand before they cut down his mannequin body.

All of a sudden he finds himself in the haunting grayness of the ethereal plane. He can see The Hunger continuing to attack his wooden body and above him, through the ceiling, he can see a swirling light that's roughly in the shape of his flesh body. He feels the light pulling him in but before it takes him away he sees Johann, standing over his own body. He looks solemnly at Magnus and says:

JOHANN: Magnus. Don’t let them erase me, Magnus. Don’t let them make the world forget.

Take a Sip, Boysedit | hide | edit source

Though much more orderly, Lucretia's private quarters bear a striking resemblance to Barry's cavern hideout. There is a desk with two tall, even stacks of journals and in front of them sits two empty journals with a quill and inkwell for both. Lucretia also has a map, much like Barry's, that she has been using to track the relics across the world.

On the desk is a holy symbol, hovering and spinning above a disc. The holy symbol depicts a tree within a circle, with a hundred branches reaching out to the ends of the circle. Merle identifies it as a non-denominational symbol of the gods and feels a powerful force emanating out from it. He recognizes it as the force that kept lich Barry away from the Bureau headquarters.

In the corner of the room is also a small tank, with a light shining from within. Looking at the tank makes their minds feel weird and almost familiar, as if there is something within it that they can't quite see. Suspended above the tank is a bell, and before they can do anything else, Barry's coin chimes on again.

BARRY: Okay. Now you should’ve had enough time by now to get in there and drink. So you should be remembering now, but it may take you a while. But the short version: we’re all [static] and [static] was one of us, but [static] now if we can reach [static] we should be able to [static] before [static].

Each time they hear the familiar static the bell above the tank lets out a deafening chime. Taako scoops up some of the water from the tank into a flask and takes a swig before passing it to Merle and Angus. Even though the bell has gone quiet now, Merle casts Silence on it, just in case. Barry also takes a sip and fills up his own canteen with tank water. They can all see a small baby Voidfish in the tank now and as Angus taps the glass of the tank, the baby holds up a little tendril to him.

Barry, however, seems like somebody just hit him in the head with a hammer. He sinks to the floor holding his head and Taako and Merle also feel something big coming at their brains that makes their guts run cold. Barry cautions them to not try and remember things too fast. He asks Merle to please do something about the holy symbol on Lucretia's desk.

They hear people approaching, responding to the alarm on the baby Voidfish's tank. Merle attempts to casts Divination but absolutely nothing happens. He is completely disconnected from Pan and his magic. Luckily, he still has enough religious knowledge to understand the lich ward. He takes a hold of the disc under the hovering holy symbol and the symbol freezes in mid-air. As he grabs the holy symbol itself, he feels the anti-lich ward get sucked into the disc and the disc shatters, disabling the ward. He is left holding the holy symbol, which happens to be +2, and would undoubtedly have been cool to have if he could still cast spells.

As guards arrive in the room, Barry urges them to not put up a fight, saying that things have been set in motion and they just gotta go with the flow. He also reiterates that they need to take it slow and not try to remember things too quickly. Angus doesn't know what he's talking about and is just delighted at the cute little baby Voidfish. The boys also lament the fact that there is no replay button on Barry's coin and they cannot replay his previous static-y message.

Happy Rebirthday, Magnusedit | hide | edit source

Magnus chokes out a lungful of green, brackish fluid as the pod in Fantasy Costco unceremoniously dumps him onto the floor. He sees all his belongings around him and notices that he still has all ten fingers. This body is also ten years younger than his old one, as it was created from material taken before the sacrifices in Wonderland. In this new body, he has all his old memories, with a few crucial exceptions. He cannot remember the visions he had as a mannequin—he doesn't remember being from another world, giving the Chalice to Jack and June, dying along Barry Bluejeans or the big silver ship. Most importantly, he also doesn't remember The Hunger. Suddenly, Magnus is stabbed in the shoulder.

He sees and feels the wound open up on his shoulder but he cannot see his assailant. He feels that there is something in the room, though, and invisible hands start grabbing at him. The blow to his shoulder knocked him back against a table and flashing his eyes across it, he sees the note and sapphire left by Taako. Without hesitation, he crushes the sapphire in his fist and says “The Flaming Raging Poisoning Sword of Doom”. The giant, flaming sword appears in his hand and though he is otherwise nude, it gives him a sense of security. He swings it in wide arcs around himself and feels it carve through things. He takes a small cut to his stomach but keeps swinging, and he can see figures collapsing to the ground it the sword's fiery wake. The fight is quickly over and Magnus grabs all his gear and gets dressed, socks first.

He carves his way out of the abandoned Fantasy Costco, using his intuition to cut down more invisible foes, and makes it out to the quad of the Bureau. He comes upon a horrific scene with a dozen or so Bureau employees swinging their weapons wildly, or blindly shooting off spells. As many employees as are fighting have also fallen, lying motionless on the ground. He spots some familiar faces by the entrance to the main dome. Carey and Killian are fending off more invisible enemies and a small distance away from them, NO-3113 is confidently roasting attackers with her flame cannon. She appears to be the only one who can actually see the invisible attackers.

As Magnus approaches them he sees something get the better of Killian. She attempts to block an attack with her big crossbow but it gets knocked away and a long, red slash appears across her left arm. As Carey sees this she yells and changes. A circle of frills unfolds around her neck and her eyes go feral as a blue cloud of electricity and flame comes pouring out of her mouth. She blasts this electrical fire in a wide circle around her and Magnus sees it swirl around the invisible shapes as they flail and collapse in a fiery death. As the fire subsides he sees her help Killian quickly wrap her arm. Carey sees him, and she's just dumbstruck.

Carey runs over to him and punches him in the face. She wasn't putting her full weight behind it though, so she only does 3 points of damage. She starts asking how and why and what but Magnus cuts her off, saying they need to get to the Director and figure out what the fuck is happening. He'll explain about his weird wooden body later. Carey launches herself at him and gives him a big hug.

CAREY: Let me guess, you ignored my lessons. When there was trouble, you… well… you took the big hit. Didn’t you, bud?

Enter Memory Laneedit | hide | edit source

Angus, Merle, Taako and Barry have been brought before Lucretia. As they were brought into the room, Barry broke away from the group and charged at her but Davenport stepped in his way and they tussled for a second before the guards pulled him back to the others. Lucretia is up on the dais and they can see that she is surrounded by a somewhat opaque magical barrier. She is kneeling down by one of the lead balls used in Relic disposal and is channeling some sort of energy from the orb into her staff. Taako and Merle remember that her staff is, of course, the Grand Relic she made when they first arrived in this world. As they realize they just had that thought, they feel like their brains just got struck by lightning. Lucretia looks at them as they both grab their heads.

LUCRETIA: Oh my god. Did you— did you inoculate yourselves?
MERLE: We did.
LUCRETIA: It’s gonna be too much, you’re gonna remember too much, it’s too—it’s too specific, you’ll be killed, why—why did you do that?
MERLE: We’re stupid?

Barry is having an easier time. Each time he dies and turns into a lich he remembers everything again, so the process isn't as painful for him now. Taako is standing next to him and hears him whisper an invocation. He is quietly casting the spell Command and mutters the word “drink” to follow up. Lucretia asks what he said but Barry pleads with her instead of answering.

BARRY: Lucretia, you gotta help them remember. It’s over. You owe them that. You already have the relics, just help them remember. Their—their—their minds are gonna shatter if you don’t.

And Lucretia starts to explain. She tells them that there were seven of them and they came from another world, another reality altogether. They were members of the Institute of Planar Research and Exploration, an elite team sent to explore other realities on an impossible ship. But something went wrong and they were pursued by a destructive force beyond measure or comprehension. As they came to this world, they made the Relics in an effort to hide the Light from the Hunger. But, she says, this was a mistake and they damned the world from the moment they put the relics into it. She did not want to create the relics but was overruled and so she took to fixing their mistakes upon herself.

She fed a record of their mission to the Voidfish and made everyone forget. She hoped this would give her the opportunity to gather the relics and fix things herself, but her very first attempt at reclaiming a relic was a disaster. She almost died in Wonderland, nearly leaving the world without anyone who remembered the truth of the Light and the Hunger. So she set out to form an organization to aid her in her task, but this, too, proved unsuccessful. The thrall of the relics proved too powerful and all who came into contact with them succumbed to it. She knew she would need the help of the only people who were immune to the thrall, the people who made the Relics in the first place, and the Voidfish provided her with a solution.

This solution came in the form of a child, the baby Voidfish. She fed select parts of their mission log to the child, allowing people who drank the parent's ichor to know of the existence of the Bureau and the Relics while still concealing the full truth from them. Next, she located the Boys and arranged for their employment with Gundren to bring them into contact with the Phoenix Fire gauntlet. She also created the story of the evil Red Robes to inspire the Boys while further obfuscating their past.

And now, with the Light of Creation reformed, she claims that she can build a barrier to keep the Hunger at bay, a home where all of them can be safe. All of them, save for Lup. Lucretia apologizes to Taako and Barry about Lup, saying there was nothing she could do.

GRIFFIN: And Taako, you remember Lup now, of course! How could you forget Lup? Those memories that you had in the Chalice of your lonely childhood, of you just like, out on the road, just fighting for survival, there was something there that you couldn’t quite perceive. Some… some static. It was Lup. It was—it was your sister, out there with you on the road, outcast but never alone.

That was six of them, Lucretia, Barry, Lup, Taako, Merle and Magnus. As for the seventh, their captain, Lucretia goes on to explain how she “edited” around their past, letting them keep their names and lives while erasing anything that had to do with their mission. But their captain was impossible to edit around. His life was the mission, and so his name was all he kept.

GRIFFIN: And she motions to her side and then reacts with a start as a silver dish falls to the ground, sending a bag of coins and three gachapon tokens bouncing down the steps of the dais. And there’s Davenport. And he’s holding the flask that Barry surreptitiously tucked into his hand. And he’s wiping some ichor away from the edges of his mouth. And he shakes his head and he says,
DAVENPORT: Lucretia? What’ve you done?

The door is kicked open and everyone sees team Sweet Flips and Magnus. Lucretia gasps in happiness upon seeing Magnus alive, but it is quickly replaced with horror as she sees the scene outside the doors. Merle and Taako also feel horror crawl over them as they see the shadowy beings assaulting the moonbase and recognize the Hunger. They also see massive tendrils of living darkness reach down from the sky to collide with the ground.

GRIFFIN: And from those pillars, the Hunger’s armies have begun to manifest, marching outward to raze the world below. It’s the end of the world. Again.

Epilogueedit | hide | edit source

GRIFFIN: We see inside of Lucretia’s office, specifically, the portrait. And wearing these uniforms of red are seven people. There’s an elven woman who looks so much like you, Taako, and she has her arm around Barry and they’re both smiling. And Taako, you’re just like, front and center frame and you’re cheesing it for this picture.  And Merle, you and Davenport are standing side-by-side and you’ve got your shirt sleeves rolled up and you’re laughing and just like flexing and striking a pose. And Magnus, you’re just kinda standing behind them and smiling and waving kind of goofy. And in the middle of this– this crew, with the same cautious smile you’ve seen hanging over her office for a year now is Lucretia and she’s holding her journals. And she’s surrounded by friends. And if you were in that office, still, you could see it all now. You could see the seven of you celebrating a rare moment of peace and happiness during your harrowing journey. And it’s time to remember this moment now, and all of the others that brought you to where you are today. It’s time to reclaim your stolen century.

The Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source

Max Fun Drive! Donate here.

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

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Referencesedit | hide | edit source

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