Balance – Episode 69: Story and Song: Finale (Part Three)

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"Story and Song: Finale (Part Three)," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 69th episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

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Full transcript available here.

Our heroes reach their journey's end.

Aboard the Starblaster, Magnus Burnsides, Merle Highchurch, and Taako stand ready as Lucretia comes closer and closer to channeling the last of the Animus Bell into her staff. The Hunger launches an assault of tendrils as their ship approaches, but Davenport displays his usual astounding prowess at the helm and gets them past The Hunger's defenses unharmed... almost. One quivering puddle of Hunger-plasma remains on the Starblaster's deck, which transforms itself into John (or rather "Shadow John", an atavistic version of John). Los Tres Horny Boys attack and appear to beat him easily, but Shadow John reveals his true form, "Final John" (a.k.a. "SephiJohn"): a nightmarish creature emerging from a black opal pool where it is buried up to its thick, jagged torso. It has two long arms ending in razor-sharp, three-fingered claws and skeletal wings made of multicolored light. That same light also makes up a crown sitting on top of its head, and its face is now featureless. Los Tres Horny Boys renew their efforts, but Final John -- seemingly without much effort -- lays them all low, rendering each of them unconscious and defenseless on the deck, laughing as the light fades from their eyes.

As our heroes begin to drift towards death, the Starblaster's Bond Engine begins to hum and glow. Each of the three heroes feels "a warm and loving presence" within the Bond Engine, enticing them to call out to it for aid. Merle calls out to Pan, who appears from within the Bond Engine and heals Los Tres Horny Boys to maximum health. Magnus calls out to Troth, the tiefling monk who inspired him as a child to protect others, and she gives Final John a savage beating. Taako follows suit by summoning Joaquin and enlisting his help against Final John, then Merle summons Garfield the Deals Warlock who lobs a hand-grenade at the snarling monstrosity which once was John. Magnus calls out to Roswell and asks them to "[p]unch the shit out of John", and Roswell obliges. Taako blinds John with sunbeam, Merle summons The Voidfish to attack John's orbs, and Magnus summons the Royal Bear (a.k.a. Power Bear), who delivers the penultimate blow. Badly wounded, Final John lashes out at the Bond Engine, which begins to smoke and emit sparks. Finally, Taako uses his KrEbStAr on John, and as he does so, Merle and Magnus put their hands on his shoulders to brace him. Thousands of white threads connect Taako, Merle, and Magnus to one another. John screams as the light tears him apart... "[a]nd then the light swells and consumes everything [they] see."

As the light fades, Merle finds himself in another Parley space, on a beach with John -- the normal, lucid John -- who asks "Merle...will you sit with me? Just...just for a moment?" Merle agrees, and without saying a word, the two of them watch the sun go down over the ocean, until John disappears with the last sliver of light.

Merle returns to the Starblaster, which has crash-landed on the surface of The Hunger. Lucretia has set up a shield to protect them from The Hunger's minions while Davenport attempts to repair the Bond Engine, and she begins to cast the spell that will seal The Hunger away from the multiverse. Suddenly the Bond Engine thrums back to life and reveals its final gift: a portal back to Faerûn. The portal draws Davenport inside, but Magnus insists they're "not going fuckin’ anywhere". Lucretia's bubble-shield bursts and The Hunger comes pouring in, and time freezes. Our heroes realize that this is the goddess Istus giving them the chance she promised them all those months ago: the chance to decide what to do, whether to stay and die with Lucretia or return to Faerûn. Taako initially takes the portal back to Faerûn to protect Lup, but when he realizes how well the fight is going for her, he returns to Merle and Magnus and Lucretia. Time restarts, and the three of them make their last stand against The Hunger while Lucretia casts her spell and the world goes dark again.

Our heroes awaken in a familiar location: a train-car from the Rockport Limited, which appears to be floating unsupported in an empty white void. An invisible presence (which they name Jeffandrew) speaks to them, saying that he and "a small team of other folks" created this existence, which was almost destroyed when The Hunger circumvented the laws of reality and started consuming other planes of existence. Los Tres Horny Boys' intervention allowed Jeffandrew and company to take all the beings and locations which were inside The Hunger and start putting them all back in their proper places. After thanking them for saving their existence from what appeared to be certain doom, Jeffandrew sends Los Tres Horny Boys and Lucretia back to Faerûn, where they arrive before the gates of Neverwinter, just in time to witness the last of The Hunger disintegrating into nothing. Magnus hoists Angus onto his shoulders, who shouts for all to hear, "Hey, everybody! Johann was right! We won!"


Following the catastrophe, the world begins to rebuild and recover. Goldcliff is rebuilt and legalizes battle-wagon racing. Refuge is revitalized when the earthquakes during the catastrophe open a rich new vein of diamonds. The city of Neverwinter becomes a beacon of hope for refugees, and Lucas Miller chooses it as the place to found his Academy of Arcane Sciences, the star pupil of which is Angus MacDonald. Davenport becomes a wandering sailor, and loves his new life of travel and freedom. Kravitz negotiates a deal with The Raven Queen to have Lup and Barry work for her, hunting down other undead: a job which gives them both immense satisfaction. Barry uses his body-growing vat to make a new corporeal form for Lup, which she loves. Lucretia transforms the Bureau of Balance into the "Bureau of Benevolence", a humanitarian organization which helps to resettle refugees and rebuild towns and cities which were damaged on what came to be known as "The Day of Story and Song".


One year later...edit | hide | edit source

Taako's name was cleared the day after the Day of Story and Song, when Sazed turned himself in to the local authorities for poisoning the audience of Taako's last show. In the meantime, Taako has become the headmaster of his own school, dubbed "Taako’s Amazing School of Magic", with Ren Mol'diira as his deputy headmistress. He splits his time between running the school and travelling to promote his own personal brand. Taako and Kravitz are still dating, and Angus drops by to say hello. He asks if Taako has gotten his letters (he has, but didn't read them), and Taako tries to hire Angus (who is about to start teaching in his own right) away from Lucas' school with an enticing signing package, which he insists is "non-negotiable". Angus reveals that he knows about Taako stealing his grandfather's silverware, and Taako amends his offer to "somewhat negotiable".

Merle spent the intervening year travelling the world with his new business, "Merle’s Extreme Teen Adventures", teaching young people how to become adventurers and build self-confidence. He was also approached by Lord Artemis Sterling about becoming the governor of a resettlement colony for refugees located on the remains of Bottlenose Cove: Merle agrees to the responsibility, but only if he can have the title of "Earl Merle". As the year draws to a close, Merle officiates the wedding of Carey and Killian, with all the surviving Bureau of Balance members in attendance.

Magnus also opened up a business-slash-school named “Hammer and Tails” on the remains of Raven's Roost, where he trains service dogs "to protect and serve those who need them". Despite his original intention to die in a blaze of glory so he could be with his dead wife Julia, Magnus finds new purpose in life, and lives to a ripe old age. At his deathbed, all of his friends from the Bureau of Balance are there at his side, including Kravitz, who gently harvests Magnus' soul and takes him away to a tiny island floating in the Astral Plane, where Magnus is — at long last — reunited with Julia. The two are given a little home and a pair of Magnus's favorite dogs, and Kravitz tells them that he will "make sure you will have as much time as you need" to make up for all their lost years together.

The narrative shifts back to Carey and Killian's wedding day, where Magnus has to talk Carey through some last-minute pre-wedding jitters. Carey says that although she's really excited to spend the rest of her life with Killian, she's also afraid of how much her life will change, even though she knows it's going to be good, when she walks through that door and says "I do". Magnus consoles her that "the fact of the matter is, your life is a constant stream of changes" and that although he wishes he could "tell you that everyday from now on will be amazing, and the happiest day of your life, but that’s not the way that life works, but every day will be made better because she’s in it with you. You aren’t going to be alone ever again, even if you’re ever separated, you’ll still never be alone."

Carey stops pacing and catches her breath, takes a moment to compose herself, and proudly asserts that she is ready to begin the next phase of her life with Killian. As Magnus and Carey walk through the door and the congregation rises to their feet, the "camera" pans up and up into space, where we see Fisher and Junior drifting happily through the void, together, heading off in search of new worlds to explore and new stories to tell.


As the music fades, Justin interjects "Thus ends the Adventure Zone: Balance, the story of four idiots that played D&D so hard, that they made themselves cry." The McElroys share an almost-tender moment with each other, filled in equal parts with love and good-natured ribbing, and they debate what game they should play next. Griffin bids us goodbye, and "No Dogs on the Moon" plays us out.

THE ENDedit | hide | edit source

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

Quotesedit | hide | edit source

Final Battle Beginsedit | hide | edit source

MERLE: John, I've died 68 times. 68, been there, done that. Do your worst pal.
MAGNUS: Hey you know what, let's do this.
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