Episode 7 - A Frogman and a Scholar

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Deep at the bottom of Zonot 4, the adventurers learn the scale of destruction in the depths of the well. As they rise up out of the depths, new horrors begin to come to light.

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Episode Credits

Produced by Play+1 and Charging Moose Media

Based on the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering by Wizards of the Coast

Story by Brian David Judkins

Featuring:
Andrew Krug
Eddie Cooper
Landree Fleming
Ned Donovan
Sarah Babe

Sound Capture and original Sound Effects by Will Melones

Theme Music by Alexander Nakarada of SerpentSound Studios

Additional Music by:
Alexander Nakarada
Serge Narcissoff of Worldeater Studio
Darren Curtis
Hayden Folker

Edited by Ned Donovan
Mixed by Josh Samuels

Special Thanks:
Megan Judkins
Will Melones

Transcript

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Brian 0:01

Hey party people, a quick word from your DM here. Episode 7 has some major plot development and is a poor place to jump in for the first time. So if you're not caught up, head back to Episode 1 so you don't miss the gravity of what's about to happen. And for you first-timers out there, welcome to the party.

Last time, on Encounter Party! A bio-contamination threw Zonot 4 into lockdown, isolating our players from the outside world. While trying to find the source, our players made a horrifying discovery. The missing orb had returned, embedded in a laboratory monster. Try as they might, our players could not defeat the beast and met with an impossible choice: save the life of Brevin, or recover the orb. With one fighter dead and the other unconscious, the three remaining heroes are trapped underwater at the bottom of Zonot 4. Will they make it out alive? Find out this week on Encounter Party!

So last week, we met with tragedy as we lost Brevin the fighter who was played by Ned Donovan. As for the rest of you, the bottom of Zonot 4 might as well be a tomb. All of the lights are out and only a few remaining systems even have power. You do have air to breathe, but the only sound you can hear in the dark is the trickling of water you can begin to hear seeping through the walls. Remember that Vizarra mentioned no one had reported from below so you are very much alone. And, don't forget, zonots are basically underwater skyscrapers. So you have a great deal of distance to crawl out of and you have an unconscious minotaur to haul with you. What would you like to do?

Eddie 1:55

I use Cure Wounds on her.

Brian 1:57

Okay.

Landree 1:59

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Brian 2:01

Have you guys rolled max hit points on the last three rolls?

Sarah 2:05

Yes.

Brian 2:06

Oh, well.

Eddie 2:06

That is 11 points.

Brian 2:07

Holy cow.

Sarah 2:08

Thank you.

Brian 2:08

Great.

Eddie 2:10

'Wake up!' (slapping noise)

Sarah 2:14

Motherfucker.

Brian 2:15

Welcome, welcome back. You... at this point, she doesn't know. You look around and you see, not much because you're still in the dark.

Sarah 2:26

Right.

Brian 2:27

And you can quickly count 'one, two, three, four,' which is the exact amount of fingers you have on a minotaur hand.

Sarah 2:33

'One, two, three...' Sound off?

Landree 2:35

'Oh, Brevin is dead.'

Sarah 2:38

'What.'

Landree 2:39

'Yes, he died.'

Sarah 2:41

'How?'

Landree 2:42

'Well, we had to flood the bottom two levels and he was still down there. He was unconscious. So he's dead now.'

Eddie 2:49

'He saved all of our lives.'

Sarah 2:51

'You left him to die?'

Eddie 2:54

'It was the only option.'

Sarah 2:56

'Bull shit, it was the only option, you do not leave another soldier behind.'

Eddie 3:02

'You were too busy being passed out on the floor to understand what was going on. But it was the only option. He saved all of our lives. He knew what he was doing.'

Sarah 3:12

'That-- no, that is unacceptable.'

Andrew 3:15

'To retrieve him would have meant passing back through its warpath, endangering our lives and yours and potentially sacrificing us all to retrieve one dying man.'

Ned Donovan 3:28

'You don't leave a comrade behind.'

Andrew 3:31

'You're welcome. By the way.'

Ned Donovan 3:32

'I shouldn't have to thank you for something that is understood.'

Landree 3:38

'I'd like to point out that also because you were passed out, you also left Brevin behind. So sometimes we need to turn this a little inward.'

Sarah 3:48

'Don't you need to go blow yourself up somewhere?'

Landree 3:50

'Not yet.'

Brian 3:51

Can I get a Perception check from everybody?

Andrew 3:54

10.

Brian 3:55

Yes.

Sarah 3:56

I rolled a 5.

Brian 3:57

Great. That new die ain't working out quite so much. So you are up the last flight of stairs that you've seen. The bottom has stabled-- Yes, please.

Andrew 4:08

We went up.

Brian 4:09

You went up. Yes, you have that... Lorzatch, immediately after you kind of went up and activated the purging mechanism that dropped the last two floors down into the well, that is all part of the protocol and sealed off. So you guys are safe, but you are still in like ankle deep water, there is a bit of an unsettling amount of water around. Power seems to be down for the most part. But it does not mean that the area is intraversible, non-traversible? One of the two, either or. But the rest of the area that you're in looks very similar to the floor that you were below. Small chambers, you are in dim light because they're still on some of these tanks with some of this strange glowing fluid, fish and other weird bio-organisms just sort of tolling around, either experiments, or purposeful, you know, workings of the zonot itself. At the moment, you are stable, but you can see the more manual escape options as far as what could be the long trek back up to the surface.

Eddie 5:17

'I believe we need to try and get back up to the surface to tell everyone what has happened down here.'

Andrew 5:23

'If we can access one of the pneumatic tubes that brought us down here to begin with, we might be able to return in one piece.'

Sarah 5:30

There's no way we can retrieve Brevin's body?

Andrew 5:33

'Would you like to go for a swim?'

Brian 5:35

You can, you can actually see out of, there's a couple of portholes, and also the staircase that's like right next to you.

Sarah 5:44

Yeah.

Brian 5:44

There is like a, like a film over it. And you can see down that whole area that you were battling in is just gone.

Sarah 5:53

Okay.

Brian 5:53

It had been like purged off of the zonot, not just like flushed out. But like, the whole part of that structure was cut away from the wall and is now way down into the depths.

Sarah 6:03

Okay.

Brian 6:04

So that's what you see. The, the actual, retrieving him is not an option. Retrieving anything is not an option. You are right now as far down as you can be without drowning.

Sarah 6:13

All right, we go up then, somehow.

Brian 6:16

So you begin the long trek upward, mostly by feel as it is still very dark. You will encounter many wrong turns and most of the doors have to be opened manually by brute force and all of this through ankle-deep water. And it's slow going, but--

Eddie 6:33

I cast Light on my shield so we can see.

Brian 6:35

Great, so you have even better light.

Landree 6:36

And Frank, my dancing lights.

Brian 6:38

Frank returns. So it's this winding, twisting, Giger-esque pathway as there are seemingly no straight lines in this facility and you start to become disoriented and lose track of time. Unless, does anybody have any Ranger abilities to determine, you know, like direction, time of day? No? Okay. So you start to lose track of time as each floor is like its own mini-dungeon as you guys have to hunt in the dark for the stairwell that will lead up to the next floor. And eventually, after about 15 floors, you come upon this very large door that looks like it leads into some sort of very large chamber. But there is no power to the door and it will take some sort of physical effort to open manually.

Andrew 7:21

Lorzatch will look for another console.

Brian 7:24

Give me Investigation.

Eddie 7:25

While he does that, let's try and open this door together.

Brian 7:29

You do, great, I'm gonna hold that for a second. I'm just gonna tell him what he sees. And then we'll let you guys go.

Andrew 7:33

17.

Brian 7:34

You do find another console. But unlike the other one that you see, this one seems to be-- you are elvish. So you can you can see that the message on this particular console suggests that there is a lockdown on this particular area. But it is not accessible from this console, whatever access to these and controls to this particular room is prioritized by whatever is inside of that room. So you're getting the sense that that room is designed to be able to lock itself down from the inside. So this is some sort of smaller quarantine section, you guys would like to try and force open the door?

Sarah 8:13

Yes.

Brian 8:14

So designate somebody to make a Strength check with advantage.

Sarah 8:17

With advantage, you said? That is a 23.

Brian 8:21

Great. So the two of you kind of put your effort into it and you find a way to dig your minotaur hands deep into whatever goo makes up these doors in this place. And you pull and you tear. And there's a great deal of force but not in a physical resistance as in like a vacuum resistance. And it doesn't take very much effort for you to kind of just shove this door open before a massive torrent of water just pours out of this place. I need everybody to make a Strength saving throw, please.

Landree 8:58

Does me being aquatic help, help me at all in this respect?

Brian 9:02

Not from being bludgeoned by a wave of water.

Landree 9:04

Yeah you right, you right.

Andrew 9:05

17.

Brian 9:06

Great.

Eddie 9:06

6.

Landree 9:07

An unnatural 1.

Brian 9:09

12. Great. Eddie and Landree. So Zenia and Lennox, you will both take 6 points of bludgeoning damage and get knocked on your butts. The rest of you seem to be okay at the moment either because you're just right in front or you might be slightly far enough down that you don't get flushed. But there's an insane amount of water that pours out of this room. And if the floor you were on weren't as wide enough, and you hadn't kind of opened the doors that you did on your way up to let this water sort of passed down through the stairwells, you might have inadvertently just flooded yourselves and died by drowning. It's like that much water. As you get a chance to kind of step in the natural light that you guys have made with your shield and with Frank expose an absolute horror scene. There are Simic dead everywhere, some drowned, some dead by combat. And way on the far end of this massive, what looks like an operating room, you can hear the faint calling of three figures on the far wall who are still alive. You see two people who look like sentries and then one Simic member who seems to be some sort of medical professional. Ned Donovan, welcome back, would you please describe the character that they are meeting.

Sarah 9:09

12.

Ned Donovan 10:33

Across the room, you see a six-foot-tall Vedalken hybrid. The hybrid has, rather than the normal blue skin, a translucent blue hue that you can almost see through but not quite. He looks at you, one arm outstretched, and a green sort of glow moving around his hand pointed straight in your direction. He stands tall and direct and immediately says, 'Identify yourself or die.'

Brian 11:01

The two merfolk sentries that seem to be with him kind of look up to him at his attitude and now realize we might have to round two with some more fighting and they kind of slowly peel themselves up off the floor, shoulder their spears and look like they're--

Eddie 11:17

'Vizarra, your biomancer, sent us down here to help.'

Andrew 11:21

'We put down the krasis on the levels below.'

Ned Donovan 11:24

'Fikarra Ordruun, First Class, Boros Legion, 34th District.'

Landree 11:29

'I'm Zenia.'

Ned Donovan 11:30

'And what is a group of ragtag fighters doing at the bottom of my zonot without a single Simic guide?'

Andrew 11:38

'Because they were all murdered by the krasis that you created.'

Ned Donovan 11:43

'I will be very careful with you.'

Andrew 11:44

'Please do.'

Ned Donovan 11:45

'If you look around, every single one of these bodies is one of my people that I have spent years with, and most of them were killed by me. So I want you to be very careful when I ask you this question: are any of you corrupted?'

Sarah 12:02

'Not to my knowledge.'

Andrew 12:03

'Describe this corruption.'

Brian 12:06

What you see before you very distinctly between some of these bodies, is that a portion, say about 40% of the Simic Combine members that are littering the room, are infected or covered in those black veins that sort of pustule out from some of the people that we've seen before. It's the same black veins that sort of crawled up into that krasis as it began evolving into a more sort of black amorphous creature. It's also the same black veins, Lennox, that you would have saw from that vagabond way back at the Leg End.

Andrew 12:42

And that are etched into the orb that Lorzatch has.

Brian 12:46

No the orb is, is and always has been, just a perfect pristine metal sphere.

Andrew 12:53

Got it.

Brian 12:54

No blemishes, it doesn't even tarnish, doesn't even leave any oil on it. It is just perfect. Also, Lorzatch, would you please give me a Medicine check?

Andrew 13:03

Yes. 17.

Brian 13:06

Great. So you can also identify that several of these people are dead from drowning. A quick look at the three survivors. One very distinct aspect of them is two of them are merfolk and-- are they showing? Your, your Simic medical officer, who seems to be very aggressive to you right now, has gills. So several of these people died simply by drowning. A great portion of them have died from martial wounds, there was some sort of battle that happened in here. And the way that the bodies lie, it's very clear that there was a fight between the corrupted, as he describes them, and the non-corrupted. You also find buried beneath some of the pile of corpses is the now very distinctly dead body of Elazia.

Andrew 13:50

And does Elazia's body bear any of the same marks as the other corrupted?

Brian 13:55

It does not.

Landree 13:56

I'd like to go over to Elazia's body and search it again.

Brian 14:01

Sure.

Landree 14:04

Cool. Only a 5.

Brian 14:06

There's just a lot of, it's kind of waterlogged. What you do see is that whatever sort of, like, whatever she had kind of been wrapped in for care for part of the trip that it kind of kept her in stasis, that is no longer on her. You can find it, it was clearly cut deliberately, probably by the medical staff. But as far as anything else there's really just sort of the chaos of, it would be hard to even determine what was on her person and not part of somebody else's person.

Ned Donovan 14:32

'Are the bodies contagious at this point?'

'I have absolutely no idea.'

I start moving the...

Brian 14:40

Somebody can perform a Medicine check to answer that question. Either--

Ned Donovan 14:44

I can do it.

Brian 14:44

Yep. Either you or Lorzatch.

Andrew 14:46

Lorzatch will assist.

Brian 14:47

Yeah, so roll with advantage.

Ned Donovan 14:50

Advantage was useful. It's a 23.

Brian 14:52

There has been a lot of contact. I mean, it was a full out brawl. But as far as you can tell, Simic stranger, there has been no cross contamination, that getting into a fistfight with somebody who was corrupted has not transferred the infection or whatever it is, is not transferred from person to person. By your account of what happened before the brawl, several people turned and it was not really a very discernible understanding of who did and who did not and why they did and why they did not.

Ned Donovan 15:26

I put my hand down. 'I have no option right now but to trust you. But one wrong move and my sentries will kill you without any remorse or second guessing.'

Andrew 15:36

'How can we return to the surface?'

Ned Donovan 15:38

'Power is out. And until we can restore the power we have to go by foot, level by level, floor by floor.'

I'd like to just be moving the bodies and kind of separating, like, basically lining them up in a mildly respectful manner and just separating them.

Brian 15:53

Yeah, please take a point of Inspiration.

Sarah 15:55

Oh, thank you.

Andrew 15:56

'This woman, Elazia. Were you here examining her?'

Ned Donovan 15:59

'Yes.'

Andrew 15:59

'What happened?'

Ned Donovan 16:02

'Someone arrived here needing medical attention. They were sent down to the bottom of the zonot where we could be protected against problems, as it appears you found out. Early on, there was a warning. I was called in because something about the woman you see here was imbued with a magic energy that no one had seen before or understood.'

Sarah 16:23

'But the Simic know about that stuff.'

Ned Donovan 16:26

'No. We know about many things. But I was, I don't get called in for routine medicine moments. I came down. What we discovered, well, an alarm was hit. Very quickly, a bio-contaminant went off. Soon after, many of my colleagues here on the floor began to turn, change, adjust, adapt, and immediately attack.'

Andrew 16:51

'Was she the originator?'

Ned Donovan 16:52

'Unclear. It did not come from her. Whether or not she was the catalyst is something I am very, very curious about. As we fought, one of our doctors, Lorin, she hit the lockdown button, knowing that this could not get out of these floors. At that point, everything shut down, communications cut off, doorways were sealed. As we battled, we began to lose badly. And I made the only choice I knew how to do. I hit the floor purge, I let in the water, drowning everyone who was corrupted, along with the rest of my team.'

Andrew 17:26

'It was at this point that we were sent down to take care of the krasis on the lowest levels.'

Ned Donovan 17:32

'And what did you find?'

Andrew 17:33

'An adaptive krasis that was able to regenerate upon death, increasing its lethality with each new incarnation. Embedded inside of its flesh was one very, very unique artifact, a perfectly round sphere, the nature of which we do not yet understand.'

Ned Donovan 17:53

'Do you have the sphere in your possession?'

Andrew 17:55

'I have it in mine.'

Ned Donovan 17:56

'Is it safe?'

'Okay, we need to get to the surface immediately.'

Andrew 17:58

'No.'

'Agreed.'

Ned Donovan 18:03

'By the way, my name is Parax.'

Brian 18:04

So with Parax in lead, you guys again, claw your way up to the top, over and over flight. As you go through dark, wet, disturbingly quiet sections of this underground facility. The two sentries that were with Parax are in a lot worse condition than they bluffed during the encounter. And they need your help carrying them, shoulder to shoulder, on the way back up to the surface. I need everyone to give me a Survival check, please.

Andrew 18:39

16.

Ned Donovan 18:40

19.

Landree 18:41

Unnatural 20.

Sarah 18:42

15.

Eddie 18:43

19.

Ned Donovan 18:44

It's good to have your rolls, Sarah.

Brian 18:45

Surprisingly, even in the wake of everything that's happened, you find the energy to avoid levels of exhaustion. Perhaps it's the light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps the higher you climb, the closer you are to getting out of this hell. As you continue to climb, you begin to see more Simic guild members on the upper floors. Many admin people are racing about trying to regain any sense of order among the disarray. You climb and climb and eventually you can feel the sunlight peeking through the windows, signaling that you've reached the floors that sit above the waterfall. When you eventually reach the lobby you find a collection of high-level guild members gathered around a makeshift command center hastily assembled in the middle of the lobby. There are papers, pieces of kelp and all manner of equipment strewn about the floor connected to aqua-power generators. Everyone is shouting at each other with that strange Simic manner where they are forceful but polite at the same time, all without really showing any emotion at all. Standing at the center of the group, taller than any other, is Master Biomancer Vizarra. She spots you from across the lobby. And once she recognizes you, Parax, she hustles over to you.

Ned Donovan 19:55

I immediately take a hand and I put it on Zenia's head. And I say, 'Vizarra, can you confirm their story? Or do we need to take them down?'

Brian 20:03

'Is this all that's left?'

Ned Donovan 20:05

'What do you mean?'

Brian 20:06

'Are there any others with you?'

Ned Donovan 20:08

'No.'

Brian 20:08

'You are the first and the only to make it up. Come with me please.' And she very politely, much more so than anyone else you've discussed in this entire adventure, begs you to join her in that antechamber that she talked to you before. As soon as you guys make it in, you finally get a chance to decompress just for a moment and rest, the two sentries who were with you are taken away for medical care. And in that moment of privacy, Vizarra herself finally let's go for a moment, her pristine merfolk frills wilt, her body crumples over, and the weight of what's going on for just the moment gets to her. And she just looks up at you, Parax and is like, 'What happened?'

Ned Donovan 20:57

'We contained the problem. We lost many people.'

Brian 21:01

'I saw the reports that the bottom floor had been purged. Is this true?'

Ned Donovan 21:06

'You can talk to these people about that.'

Brian 21:10

'Who authorized the purge of the bottom well?'

Sarah 21:12

'We did.'

Andrew 21:13

'I was the one that activated the purge.'

Brian 21:16

'Did something get out?'

Andrew 21:17

'Well, it died. Of that much we can be certain.'

Eddie 21:20

'Well, we hope so. It was a very powerful beast. We purged it into the abyss.'

Brian 21:28

'Let's see, the bottom floor would be Experiment 57. That is not a violent creation. What has happened?'

Eddie 21:36

'It was violent when we arrived.'

Andrew 21:38

'Are you aware that there was an artifact embedded inside of its flesh?'

Brian 21:41

She kind of looks at you strangely, too tired to be confused, but she has no idea what you're talking about.

'Yes, I see.' And she straightens up and recollects herself sort of resuming the, the power of her office, remembering that she is a master biomancer and she, she takes the authority back and says, 'Now, tell me what happened. What of the patient? What of that Dimir spy they brought to my laboratory?'

Ned Donovan 21:49

'Be careful.'

'Gone. We took care of everyone except the three that came out with these people.'

Brian 22:19

'Dead or gone?'

Ned Donovan 22:22

'Both.'

Brian 22:22

'And what of the krasis?'

Andrew 22:24

'Jettisoned from the bottom levels.'

Brian 22:26

'I need a full account of what happened. Was anyone alive? What of the caretakers? The scientists?'

Sarah 22:32

'There were no caretakers on the second level, at the very bottom level-- levels.

Andrew 22:32

'No.'

'There were no personnel of any kind to be seen, merely the adaptive krasis.'

Brian 22:37

'And you've killed it.'

Andrew 22:42

'We purged the bottom levels. If its final form could survive the crushing depths of the abyss...'

Brian 22:48

'It evolved?'

Andrew 22:49

'Many times and seemed capable of evolving further.'

Brian 22:53

'How? Describe it please, this is important.'

Andrew 22:57

'It started as an amphibious creature, one blazing yellow eye...'

Landree 23:03

'Four legs.'

Andrew 23:04

'And an outer epidermis seemingly capable of bending light to its will and thus appearing invisible to the mortal eye.'

Brian 23:12

'That was our intended development, but all of our evolutions are manually instigated. Our experiments are not allowed to spontaneously mutate. It's a safety precaution to keep us in control.'

Andrew 23:25

'The following form was a hybrid shape composed of parts equally arthropodal and, I suppose, shark and--'

Brian 23:33

She seems to just be like 'okay, yeah, this is all normal.'

Andrew 23:36

'And from this--'

Brian 23:38

I guess shark-crabs. Normal.

Andrew 23:40

'It rapidly decomposed into a protoplasmic black slime that then adhered into what I can only describe as a colossal salamander.'

Brian 23:52

'Tendrils?'

Andrew 23:53

'Many.'

Brian 23:54

She gets incredibly frightened and looks to you, Parax.

Ned Donovan 23:59

'Fifty percent. Fifty percent of our team.'

Brian 24:02

'Oh no.'

Andrew 24:03

'Are they related?'

Ned Donovan 24:04

'Those black tendrils...'

Brian 24:06

'I'm afraid they are.'

Ned Donovan 24:07

'Yes.'

Brian 24:08

'You've purged it but you did not kill it. And now it has descended deep into the water.' And she suddenly becomes very afraid and her eyes shoot open wide. 'You have to get to the pump station. You have to shut down the water! Parax, it's going to be in the water!' And she commands you all to fly as fast as you can to the pump station. Now, Zenia, you would know that the pump station is run by the Izzet, so you need to drop everything that you're doing and rush to the pump station ASAP to convince the Izzet to shut down the water. Parax, you see Vizarra pull a small toad from her hip and she whispers a couple of things to it before handing it to you. And she says, 'You must hurry. Take this in case there's a problem but I beg of you please go now.'

Sarah 24:56

'Yes, ma'am.'

Brian 25:01

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And now back to the party.

You guys are off, racing your way. Yes.

Landree 25:39

Zenia just charges and expects everyone else to...

Brian 25:42

Great. It is a hustle. Can I please get another Survival check from you guys as you storm through the streets of the compound.

Natural 20 looks pretty awesome to me, that rainbow-colored died looks awesome.

Andrew 25:56

10.

Sarah 25:57

14.

Eddie 25:57

11.

Brian 25:58

An 11.

Ned Donovan 25:59

17.

Brian 25:59

And a 17. Just barely for some of you, the imperative-ness of the situation is just... you've got to go, the adrenaline is pumping, the urgency of what possibly could happen, the severity of this seems way outside your realm of reasoning but enough to know that shit is going to happen if you do not rush. You make your way--yes.

Sarah 26:19

To help with the pace, I'll drum.

Brian 26:21

Great. Great. Great. I love it. I would say that if anybody had failed their Survival check at that point that we could make that go keep tempo. In fact, I will allow your party to have advantage on their first skill check when they get to the... collectively, whoever decides to roll it, you may have advantage to your first skill check when you reach the pump station. It's a bit of a slog. It's like a good 20-minute dead run hustle to try and get there. If you guys look at the map that you can see, the noise is louder and louder and louder as you reach a water pump station. It's a weird building that is full of everything you would expect from the Izzet: tubes and cylinders that come from who knows where and lead to who knows what, the sound is unbearable. The conditions alone make you wonder why anyone other than a Rakdos cultist would even want to hang out in this place. But for you, Zenia, it finally feels like home. You guys barge your way through. Can I have somebody give some sort of Intimidation or Persuasion check to make your way into an authority where you can find whoever's in charge of the pump station.

Eddie 27:34

We can both do it.

Sarah 27:35

Okay.

Eddie 27:36

We can, I can, who has the higher one? We can, we can...

Sarah 27:39

I've got a plus--

Brian 27:40

You can assist and save your advantage.

Eddie 27:43

You should assist me.

Sarah 27:44

Oh, actually, plus... plus five.

Eddie 27:46

Then I should assist you.

Brian 27:47

And then save your, save your drum Inspiration for a different roll.

Sarah 27:53

And that's 24.

Brian 27:54

Great. You guys come in like a fury. You have no idea what's going on, but these are Izzet workers, they're busy pulling levers and looking over their glasses to make notes on a clipboard and you guys are just-- here comes a minotaur busting through like 'don't have time--'

Sarah 28:11

'Make a hole!'

Brian 28:12

'Make a hole, people!' (drumming noise) 'I don't have time for this.' Zenia, with a little bit of help from you, you guys managed to, like, I'm pretty sure I know who would be in charge and where to find them. And you guys burst your way into the command center of who is a very startled female Vedalken, whose day has just been completely uppended by, 'What? Who are you? What are you doing here?'

Landree 28:12

'You need to shut down the pump, the water pump.'

Brian 28:39

'I'm sorry, can we begin from the beginning where I should care about whatever this is?'

Sarah 28:43

'Now!'

Ned Donovan 28:44

I just hold up the toad.

Brian 28:45

Oh, great. You hold out the toad and the toad opens its mouth. And from the mouth of the toad comes the recorded message of the master biomancer. And she just says, 'This is Master Biomancer Vizarra of Zonot #4, there is a contaminant in the water system. You are hereby ordered based on our lease agreement to shut down the water pumps now.' And with that message, the frog just kind of turns into goo.

Ned Donovan 29:12

The goo is absorbed by my hand.

Brian 29:14

Great.

Sarah 29:15

Ugh.

Brian 29:15

Awesome. It's just a one time recorded message.

You knew that if this was to ever go wrong in the other way, a little fun note, that frog has also one charge of a plaxcaster in it. Which means that if somebody was really just like, 'I don't want to listen to this message,' it just goes 'firing my laser' (laser noise).

Sarah 29:20

Right.

Brian 29:40

If you hadn't rolled your Intimidation check correctly that's what would have happened, is this frog would have just cleared a hole for you. So this Vedalken is kind of looking at you and, and she's kind of looking at you and she's like, 'Is this real?'

Ned Donovan 29:51

'Yes.'

Brian 29:52

'I cannot shut this down.'

Andrew 29:53

'What do you mean you cannot shut it down?'

Sarah 29:54

'We're not asking.'

Brian 29:56

'I have direct orders from Master Researcher Malphus Reed that under no circumstances am I to shut this pump station down.'

Ned Donovan 30:05

'Please remind me, where is this pump station located?'

Andrew 30:07

Don't we know Malphus Reed?

Ned Donovan 30:09

Yeah.

Brian 30:09

Yes, Malphus Reed is the name of--

Sarah 30:11

'Wait. What? Malphus Reed?'

Brian 30:14

'Yes.'

Sarah 30:15

'Malphus Reed is dead.'

Brian 30:17

Malphus Reed is the dismembered man who was murdered in the Leg End tavern for those of you at home following along.

Andrew 30:24

Thank you.

Brian 30:24

She goes, 'What?'

Sarah 30:26

'I saw his limbs. Turn off the pump now.'

Brian 30:29

So--

Ned Donovan 30:30

'You don't have a choice here. To be clear.'

Brian 30:32

That is evident. She, she protests a great deal as she's going over. She says, 'Yes, Vizarra has control and ultimate authority. But I am in a great deal of trouble here. Master Researcher Malphus Reed came to me personally and gave me direct instructions that under no circumstances-- he said that this pump station was vital for the research that he is doing and there is going to be a major shit storm between the biomancers and the Izzet compound.'

Andrew 30:58

'I'm sorry, is an adaptive krasis in your water supply turning your people into slavering mutants also beneficial for Izzet research?'

Eddie 31:06

I use Channel Divinity and I order her to turn it off.

Brian 31:06

'I do not know! This is why you Simic are always digging into the wrong things, playing with life, playing with creatures instead of studying science in its natural form!'

Oh, what is the DC on that?

Eddie 31:21

13.

Brian 31:23

Oh, yeah, she's like, okay, she's like, fine, she goes 'fine.' So she, she calls down to a bunch of people. There's some goblins working there. She said, 'Turn it off! Turn off the pumps!' And they're like, 'Are you serious?' 'I am not fucking around, turn off the pumps now! There is a contamination!' And they're like, 'Oh, shit.' And then the goblins all kind of scurry. And you hear a great deal of loud machinery as the entire pump station comes to a screeching, grinding halt. And suddenly, the whole compound is just sort of filled with this echo of metallic pain that takes just a time to just sort of dissipate. And she turns to the rest of them. She says, 'I hope you are happy. Now the entire compound is under lockdown. We are stuck here until this message is fixed.' She kind of is, like, done with you.

Ned Donovan 32:14

'Do not worry, Izzet, we will get it back on in short order.'

Brian 32:16

Now what you would know, Parax, is that by shutting down a major utility like this is, it's grounds for the entire compound to be locked down. So that entire area on the map that is surrounded by the wall is now completely quarantined.

Sarah 32:33

Guess we're Simic now.

Andrew 32:35

So is there any part--

Brian 32:37

Get out the green and blue, ladies and gentlemen, because we're fish people from here on out.

Sarah 32:41

Look at me, I can swim!

Andrew 32:45

Is there any part of this facility that would be open to the water supply? Is there a place for this krasis to emerge?

Brian 32:53

Yeah, that massive water well that is in the middle of the map, where it is currently, but it's way down. So all of the Simic facilities, especially the zonots, connect to the underground oceans. So the very, very underneath of Ravnica is actually a massive waterway ocean. We're talking below the undercity where the Golgari are. And that's why, that's where the merfolk had been for millennia. And they only appeared after the catastrophe that was the breaking of the Guildpact about 75 years ago. So wherever that is, it's down and it's deep, and it's under the undercity. So wherever it goes, it may not end up anywhere, but it's way, way, way way down. Perhaps forever.

Ned Donovan 33:35

Now does the quarantine block off being able to potentially send a runner back to Vizarra?

Brian 33:40

Oh, no, you guys can still, as you can see in the map, everything in that area is still open.

Ned Donovan 33:46

Got it.

Brian 33:46

You just cannot leave the compound. So that massive walled-in area. So you can still, the Izzet research center, the pump station, the civilian area, the zonot: those are all still in the area, but you are restricted to the overall Simic controlled area. You are in Simic turf for the moment, permanently.

Andrew 34:04

And we are not likely to get this quarantine lifted until we can be sure that it won't seep into the water supply and endanger the entire city.

Brian 34:13

As of right now, the ultimate authority within this area is Vizarra. So the only person who can lift this quarantine at the moment would be her or whoever replaces her in authority. The Izzet, you guys have not actually kind of learned what they're doing here. Or why they're technically set up shop on Simic property. Yes. So as you, as you kind of leave the pump station and take a second to consider what you're going to do, maybe head back and, back to the zonot and have a conversation with some of the Simic...

Ned Donovan 34:49

That's what I want to do...

Brian 34:50

You get a chance to kind of look up at the sky and get your bearings for the first time and realize that it is morning, which means that you have been down under the water for the entirety of yesterday all through the night battling that monstrosity, saving the few Simic that you managed to find and climbing your way all the way back up to the surface. What would you like to do?

Andrew 35:13

For the first time in 16 hours? There isn't an immediate crisis requiring our attention.

Eddie 35:19

I think we should get some rest.

Landree 35:21

I agree.

Ned Donovan 35:21

I'd like to do that but return to the zonot.

Andrew 35:23

That makes sense.

Ned Donovan 35:24

I do not want to be anywhere near this Izzet establishment.

Eddie 35:27

Let's return.

Brian 35:28

Okay. So you head back to Zonot 4. I don't think anybody's going to impede your entrance at this point, I think partly because you have Parax with you. And also because your presence isn't quite so strange anymore. But inside the lobby is still an absolute madhouse. Everybody's running around. They're trying to get a hold of the situation. So it's difficult to find any place to sort of sit and rest without being in somebody's way. But I will say that the young Xavi I think approaches you as she sees you coming in the front door and says, 'Hi, would you like a place to sit down?' And leads you back into that antechamber which has kind of become your, like, remote personal space inside the zonot. You guys can take a short rest while you're in there.

Sarah 36:12

Okay.

Landree 36:12

Yes please. Thank you.

Eddie 36:13

How about a long rest?

Brian 36:14

A long rest requires like six to eight hours and you're not going to get that much time because Vizarra would like to speak to you again.

Eddie 36:21

Damn Vizarra. Come on. I'm sleepy.

Brian 36:25

She liked to, she'd like to check in on you at least.

Eddie 36:29

Damn girl.

Landree 36:30

Did we ever get the Vedalken female's name who was running the pump station?

Brian 36:34

No.

Landree 36:35

Okay, okay.

Andrew 36:36

We can head back later.

Sarah 36:37

I would like to ask Ned's character, Ned's character--

Brian 36:40

Yeah.

Sarah 36:40

What his name is.

Ned Donovan 36:41

'I am Parax.'

Sarah 36:42

'Fikarra. Good to meet you.'

Andrew 36:43

'Sorry, "parrots?"'

Ned Donovan 36:45

'Parax. With an X.'

Brian 36:47

Xavi does come back and bring you guys some food, something to drink. She makes a joke: 'Don't worry, it's not corrupted.' And then immediately realized that that's in horrible taste and very embarrassingly retreats back out to go help whoever she has to help.

Landree 37:02

'I'd actually like to know for certain where this actually came from. How do you know it's not contaminated?'

Brian 37:07

'Because it came from the cafeteria.'

Sarah 37:09

'Thank you, Xavi.'

Brian 37:10

You guys get a bit of time to converse with yourself before Vizarra will pay you a third visit.

Sarah 37:16

I assume we have, like, drinks, or whatever. Can we--

Brian 37:19

Nothing alcoholic, just nourishment.

Sarah 37:21

Right, like water. Whatever.

Brian 37:23

The Simic are probably not imbibing as you, if you remember from that one woman in the Leg End who was feeding her alcohol to her toad, and not to herself.

Sarah 37:33

Probably at a moment when everybody's kind of a little quiet, Fikarra's just going to be like, 'Can we take a moment and toast to Brevin for all that he gave us and all that he helped us with?'

Ned Donovan 37:43

'Who?'

Sarah 37:44

'He was our man that we lost. And to all of the Simic who gave their lives.'

Landree 37:48

'And to Elazia.'

Ned Donovan 37:49

'Who's Elazia?'

Sarah 37:51

'Elazia was--'

Andrew 37:52

'The woman in your clinic.'

Sarah 37:54

Gulp.

Ned Donovan 37:55

'I will not drink to her.'

Andrew 37:57

'And the dead don't care either way.'

Landree 38:00

'And cheers to that.'

Brian 38:01

So after a brief moment, you guys get a chance to eat, get a little short rest in, decompress, and perhaps let the weight of the situation fall off your shoulders for a time. Vizarra manages to bring herself back into your presence. She has regained her poise, she has resumed her station. Right now, what the situation needs is her leadership and her intelligence. And she's still kind of curious about what happened. But she seems to be more curious about what seems to have been the trigger for the lockdown, which was whoever was in that Medical Center in the middle of the zonot, since they were the ones who activated it. And that activation you very quickly has to come from somebody high up and she starts discussing with Parax about the operation, you learn that there was a very high-level doctor, probably second or third in command at the zonot, who is in command of the operation, you learn that the setup was that Elazia was brought in and she was sent down with this medical team, and that, from your understanding, it was treated seriously that they had every intent to preserve this woman. And they understood the seriousness of the idea of precognition, and they were trying to do their best to bring her back so that information could be utilized. And you very quickly, you very quickly get a sense that their intention of doing so was maybe not as kind as they thought. But they thought that they could use this information to parlay assistance from the Azorius to deal with these three other guilds that are trying to vie for permission to build their, their rail lines through their system. So that you understand was the initial setup, but where everything went wrong, she kind of talks to Parax and says, 'Now, were you there at the moment of intubation?'

Ned Donovan 39:50

'I was.'

Brian 39:51

'And what happened? Was she the cause of the outbreak?'

Ned Donovan 39:54

'Unclear. It did not appear to emanate from her or the object.'

Brian 39:59

'What object?'

Ned Donovan 40:01

'Your sphere is back.'

Brian 40:03

'You must be joking.'

Ned Donovan 40:04

'Golgari, please produce the sphere.'

Andrew 40:07

And he pulls out what used to be a simple mess kit. And inside that container is the sphere.

Landree 40:13

'Did you say "your" sphere?'

Brian 40:15

She's incredibly perplexed. And the conversation kind of continues a little bit without acknowledging that you guys really don't have any idea what's going on. She kind of sees the orb. And again, she's not really acknowledging that you guys don't know what's going on here. 'She had it on her person.'

Ned Donovan 40:33

'It was inside the wrapping, inside her hands.'

Brian 40:38

'Why? We dismissed that object to Mr. Alfonso months ago.'

Andrew 40:43

'We recovered it from inside the krasis.'

Brian 40:46

'I'm so sorry. You must be very confused.'

Andrew 40:49

'How could it have leapt from her possession into it?'

Brian 40:52

'It is not ours, before you begin to suspect our involvement. We found it, but it is not ours. We were doing some routine excavation at the bottom of the well. When we found this strange metallic orb in the clutches of a piece of organism. Wrapped around it was a severed black tentacle, ink like you described and yet rigid and more corporeal. We at the Simic have no desire to study the inorganic. We were far more concerned with whatever organism this tentacle had come from. I called Mr. Alfonso because, well, that's what one does when you have an artifact you cannot identify. We dismissed the orb into his collection months ago. I'm very concerned it somehow found its way from his possession into the hands of the Dimir with the intent of bringing it back here.'

Landree 41:44

What's curious to me though, as well as that, if this was where it was originally discovered, and there wasn't an issue of outbreak before...

Andrew 41:51

'It seems he had some kind of trouble upon acquiring his train. We've discovered half of it on the tracks leading away back towards the Boros precinct, where there was, it appeared, a outbreak of a different kind.'

Brian 41:51

'We did not keep it here for very long. I studied it for maybe about five minutes. It seemed nothing more than a metal orb. I called Mr. Alfonso just out of courtesy. He spent a great deal of money purchasing a train and bribing the Izzet to let him use their rail line to get down here, solely so he could have a research facility on site.'

'The captain of our sentries did make a comment that he had made quite a fuss, something about part of his train simply disappearing. You'll have to excuse me, these things don't seem to matter in the moment. But now that I'm putting pieces together, I'm quite confused.'

Andrew 42:41

'If we could speak with Mr. Alfonso, if you have the power to summon him to us.'

Brian 42:47

'I imagine with only half a train, he's trapped in the lockdown like the rest of us. I know Xavi spends a great deal of time with him. Perhaps she can locate him for you. Parax, would you please do me the courtesy of supervising this situation? Just in case there's more to Mr. Alfonso then we thought.'

Ned Donovan 43:05

Sure.

Andrew 43:05

'And at this point, I would say it's rather likely.'

Brian 43:08

'Please rest up. I must return to my duties and salvage what I can of my research station.'

Andrew 43:09

'When you have a moment...'

Brian 43:16

'Yes?'

Andrew 43:16

'I would appreciate a private audience, if you've the time.'

Brian 43:20

'I have one now if it is truly important. As for the rest of you, please take all the time that you need.' You all may finally take a long rest and, congratulations, you have leveled up to level three!

Lorzatch, there is obviously the second room to that antechamber and she simply leads you around to her left and gives you a private area. As soon as you get inside, she makes it clear, like, our facility is made out of gooey mucus, sound isn't going anywhere. 'Now what is it you'd like to discuss?'

Andrew 43:54

'I cannot claim to speak for all the members of my swarm and so I cannot apologize their behavior. But I certainly hope that you can and will allow me the chance to broker a peace between the reclamation parties that are building through your territory and with the zonot which you command.'

Brian 44:12

'I appreciate your compassion. It is troubling that your guild, being what it is and having the history that it has, should be so willing to be first in line to break the Guildpact. Again. One positive note of the lockdown is that it seems unlikely the Golgari will be able to remount any of their aggressive efforts. Make no mistake, I hold all three of your opposing guilds in equal severity. The Boros are trying to flex their military muscle, pretending that they have the authority of the Azorius. The Izzet are trying very hard to broker a deal using their power plant. The Golgari, however, seem to be taking the low road. As cultured as your guild claims to be, they have a tendency to lead towards the sword more than anything else. Since you are unaware of the actions of your guild, I will enlighten you: the Golgari are trying to breach us from underground through the walls of the well. I can only assume they're attempting to cut us off from our underground waterways. What they are doing is more dangerous than they know, for they are now between us and the krasis. With the lockdown, it seems unlikely that we will be able to communicate with them. But make no mistake, the minute the quarantine is over, I will expect you to make contact. For now I will consider you an ally. But do not think that I won't hesitate to use you against your own guild.'

Andrew 45:41

'Everything I've come to expect. Tragedy, really. I've always thought that we've had more to gain by working together than against each other. Ours is a more circular path. I like to think that we walk the same one.' And Lorzatch leaves.

Brian 45:53

'It is unfortunate that the elven cultures have taken such... conscientious splits in evolution.'

Andrew 46:01

'But isn't divergence always the way?'

Brian 46:05

'Quite right. Rest up. If you need anything else, please consult my assistants. Thank you, under-citizen.' So I would imagine, after what has happened, that you are going to take the remainder of the day to rest. By the time you end a long rest, it will be time to retire for the day anyway, so getting a full day's rest and, as Andrew had mentioned before, kind of being out of the fire for a day to just sort of loaf and recover might be very healthy. You do have a situation of a less egregious kind to deal with at the moment. You are quarantined within this Simic compound. What would you like to do?

Eddie 46:45

I think we should go talk to Mr. Alfonso.

Sarah 46:47

Oh, yeah, let's... let's go beat that fucker up.

Brian 46:51

Oh, okay.

Sarah 46:52

I mean, talk to that guy.

Brian 46:53

It's a very aggressive opinion.

Andrew 46:56

He's here. We should do that while he's here.

Landree 46:58

Yes.

Andrew 46:59

Okay.

Sarah 46:59

In theory, he's here.

Ned Donovan 47:01

Can't get out now.

Andrew 47:02

Yeah, it's locked down.

Brian 47:03

All it takes is a simple summoning of--

Landree 47:05

Xavi?

Brian 47:06

Xavi. She goes, 'Yes, I remember you saying that Mr. Alfonso might be in danger. I do happen to know where his train is located. If you'd like me to send you there...?'

Sarah 47:18

'Please, that would be lovely.'

Brian 47:19

She gives you some directions. Parax, his train is located at the very end of the Izzet line on the far end of the compound, which does in fact end inside the compound, because their Izzet line connects directly to their research station so you can get to it from inside the walls of the lockdown. So it takes you about half the morning to kind of huff your way over there. One of the big distinguished differences is that the Izzet have managed to build into the compound so they still have the ability to ship in and out. At the moment, no, because the quarantine is down, but whatever debate has happened, they were clearly here far before the Boros even tried to queue in and make this power play. At the very end of the line, where there is no more construction, is the back half of a train that looks like the missing piece of the one that you found on a completely different rail line. You happen to see some remnants of scribbling yellow calligraphy as you approach that will be the back half that says 'Of Wonder!'

Andrew 48:22

What did we find in the first place? M-U-E-R?

Brian 48:26

E-R, ER was on the opposite side. So this is the same side that you had found M-U, a bunch of scored in the middle... 'of wonder.'

Sarah 48:35

Muse of wonder?

Andrew 48:36

Museum.

Sarah 48:37

Oh, you're good at letter stuff.

Brian 48:40

Everybody, give me a Perception check.

Sarah 48:44

Holy fuck.

Brian 48:45

Did we buy some new dice that work?

Sarah 48:47

Yeah.

Andrew 48:49

You're, you're going over here, man.

Eddie 48:51

6.

Brian 48:52

Oh, no.

Landree 48:52

7.

Ned Donovan 48:53

8.

Sarah 48:54

I got a 17!

Brian 48:55

I don't know if your horns, like, have, like, sound amplification. But you can we hear somebody sort of, kind of muttering to themselves and moving around inside the train.

Sarah 49:05

'He's in there. Oh, he's in there.'

Brian 49:08

What would you like to do?

Sarah 49:09

Can I kick in the door?

Brian 49:10

Yeah.

Eddie 49:11

Wavin the 44

Brian 49:13

You kick in the door and, very startled, you see this kind of spindly, medium-built older human male.

Andrew 49:22

The same one we passed by.

Brian 49:23

The same one you passed by on the way into the compound exclaiming something to the sentry. He is frail. I think a good sneeze would break him in half. He has a peculiar facial hair situation in which it looked like he tried to grow his mustache all the way around his face, but realized that it had to stop at one point. So he has this nice, beautiful, illustrious barbershop mustache that's stark white that kind of branches out. But then he's decided to kind of curtail his sideburns down up underneath. So not quite the Munchausen but getting there by some weird design.

Andrew 50:05

Ships passing in the night.

Brian 50:06

Yes, it's just, yeah, it kind of gives the pause that says, why didn't you just grow the beard directly into the mustache? But he wanted the definitive mustache and he did have a monocle that just fell and whatever box he was carrying, he just completely dropped to the floor.

Sarah 50:24

Does it explode?

Brian 50:25

No.

Sarah 50:25

Okay.

Brian 50:26

It just, kind of, whatever was in there was glass and is now broken. And he just, 'Oh my! Oh! Who are you? What?'

Sarah 50:32

'Mr. Alfonso?'

Brian 50:33

'Oh, yes, of course. Who are you? You are big.'

Sarah 50:36

'Yeah, I'm a minotaur.'

Brian 50:37

'Yes, I can see that, my dear.'

Sarah 50:39

'Fikarra.'

Brian 50:40

'Hello Fikarra. My I ask what you were doing damaging my train further than it already is?'

Sarah 50:45

'Can you tell me why half of your train was on the Boros line?'

Andrew 50:49

'And why a large number of your former personnel were turned into slavering mutants?'

Sarah 50:54

'Who then attacked people in their homes.'

Brian 50:57

Okay. He, like, kind of now addresses the fact that there's like a crowd of people outside his train yelling for him. And he's like, 'Pardon me, might I...? Yes, I'll come right out. Yes.' And he kind of like asks you to just sort of like, give him some space so he can come out and address you all. And he says, 'Oh, my. There are a lot of you.'

Sarah 51:17

'Yeah.'

Brian 51:18

'Yes, colorful people. Hello.'

Landree 51:22

'I like your facial hair.

Brian 51:23

Oh, thank you, my dear. My name is Rufir Alfonso the Third, artificer extraordinaire, purveyor of the ancient and the unknown. And I welcome you to my Museum of Wonder. Except for that last bit. Sorry, bit of a practiced routine, you know. You seem quite cross.'

Sarah 51:44

'Yep.'

Andrew 51:45

'It's been a rather trying several days. Delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr. Alfonso the Third. We have a number of questions regarding a certain artifact that I understand was in your possession, for a time at least.'

Brian 51:59

'I see.'

Andrew 52:00

'And a bit of business to do with the second half of your train and the personnel-- former, I suppose-- who we discovered had been transformed into slavering mutants and had a rather spot of bother with them on our way here.'

Sarah 52:15

'That's a polite way to put it.'

Brian 52:15

'Oh.'

'You have information about my missing engine.'

Andrew 52:20

'And one Mr. Gato. If the name rings any bells.'

Brian 52:24

'Well, perhaps we could have some tea. And if I could convince you to just carry a couple of these heavy things toward me, we can find a way to go back to where I'm staying and have a nice conversation.'

Sarah 52:36

Seriously?

Brian 52:36

Yes.

Eddie 52:37

'Let's have a conversation right here.'

Brian 52:39

'Oh, my word. Well, I suppose we're going to talk here then.'

On the next Encounter Party, our players have finally caught up with the elusive Mr. Alfonso. What has he learned about the mysterious orb? Can he shed light on just what the heck is going on? And what of the Golgari incursions? Find out next time on Encounter Party! Encounter Party is produced by Play +1 and Charging Moose Media, based on the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering, created by Wizards of the Coast. Edited by Ned Donovan, mixed by Josh Samuels, theme and other music by Alexander Nakarada of Serpent Sound Studios. Additional music by Darren Curtis, Hayden Folker, and Serge Narcissoff. Special thanks to Megan Jenkins, Marcus Thorne Begala, and Will Melones.

You know, there's always more room at the Encounter Party. So if you like our show, help us out by telling your friends. And remember to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app. If you are using apps like Apple Podcasts, ratings and reviews go a long way to helping us reach a larger audience. So thank you again for listening and let's keep the party going.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai