We meet our heroes, and they meet each other. Nick has his fortune told by a Vistana and finds himself on a carriage ride. Will meets the The Swirly Man for the first time and finds himself on a carriage ride. Lamora leaves the Temple, and finds herself on a carriage ride. All three carriage rides come together in an wholly unfamiliar foggy location and a fourth traveller, Mydhryn, also arrives by carriage. Together, our unwitting adventurers head into the dead forest.
Welcome to Pork Fried Dice!
We Meet Nick
We are introduced to Nick, who is working on a farm in an unknown Northern part of the land. He is currently picking potatoes in return for food and a place to stay on his way to the nearest big city. Nick is hoping to find information about what happened in his home town.
A Vistani caravan passes by the field. An Old Man seated in the back stops the caravan and jumps off the wagon running to Nick, who (for reasons we don't quite understand and aren't really important) continues to hold a potato. The Old Man tells Nick he's seen him in his dreams and wishes to draw cards for him. Nick agrees to follow him, entering the wagon.
The Old Man asks Nick to cut the deck and draws the first card saying, "You have seen much hardship". Nick agrees while remaining skeptical.
The second card holds the image of an executioner and the Old Man says, "You are searching for something or someone".
He draws the third card. An image of an old man with a heavy sack on his back is presented to Nick. The Old Man says, "You must go through a trial to find the strength to face your adversaries". Nick asks for more information about the trial while the Old Man pulls the fourth card.
Nick sees a humanoid figure entirely cloaked in shadows on the fourth card, and the Old Man says, "You must choose a path and cease your wandering".
The Old Man's dream indicated that Nick must go to the carriage stop (about a day's walk to the North) in order to find what he seeks.
Nick thanks the Old Man and leaves the carriage as the caravan pulls away. Nick isn't sure exactly what to think of this encounter, but he decides to leave for the town first thing in the morning. He was going that way anyway.
On the following morning, he follows the road north. After a light lunch, he starts hearing noises from the woods. Someone is following him. About a quarter of a mile down the road, his way is blocked by Bandit #1 who says, "We think we're going to rob you".
Nick tries to talk his way out of being robbed. While Nick indicates that there is a nice potato farm just down the road, Bandit #1 pulls out his scimitar. (Dear Listener, you might be wondering at this point, "What kind of guy turns on the only potato farm that gave him shelter?" Don't worry, Dear Listener, Nick gets his somewhere around Episode 11).
Nick "Tallies Forth" and trades damage with Bandit #1, who next retreats to pull out his crossbow. The bolt misses our hero, and Nick dashes at Bandit #1, tackling him to the ground. Bandit #1 yields to Nick admitting that that he is alone. Nick disarms him, taking his very standard scimitar (not a +5 scimitar, to Nick's disappointment). Bandit #1 runs away (and good riddance).
Arriving, only slightly damaged, at the carriage stop, Nick is greeted by a man named Grestle, who says he's been told to expect Nick. Someone has paid his fare. Although Grestle does not know where the payment came from. Nick asks if he can provide any service in return. (Dear Listener, you may find some humor in this discussion starting around 00:22:17).
Grestle declines Nick's offer, and Nick hops on board.
We Meet Will
We first find Will, a resident of Tivoli, in his villa eating veal and drinking wine. We hear a knock on the door, and Will's butler enters. The butler informs Will that he has visitors, and Will scolds the butler for interrupting his rest and recuperation time. The butler indicates that the men are quite desperate to speak with Will and opens the door a bit wider. Will sees that a Very Large Thug is holding the butler at knife point. The Very Large Thug begins to read something written on his hand.
"Good evening, Mr. Pompion. My employer would very much like to speak with you at your earliest convenience."
Will compliments the man's reading skills and refuses to meet with his employer. The thug turns his hand over and reads, "The earliest convenience is right now". Two more Thugs step into the room as Will asks who their employer is. The Very Large Thug decides that this is all too hard and tells Will that he will kill the butler if Will does not go with him.
Will decides to follow them out of curiosity. As he starts out the door, he receives a smack over the head, knocking him unconscious.
Will opens his eyes to find himself sitting in a very nice chair, in a very nice room, facing a very well dressed middle aged bearded man with some grey at his temples. The Bearded Guy extends a hand to Will, "Mr. Pumpkin, a pleasure to meet you at last. I hope my men weren't too discourteous to you."
Before asking who the Bearded Guy is, Will compliments the Very Big Thugs reading and performance skills and says he could have gone without the head injury. The Bearded Guy refuses to answer Will saying that who he is isn't important. The important part is that he has come to Tivoli, a town ripe with profitable opportunities, to take over all of Will's business operations.
The Bearded Guy will let Will leave his town in one of two ways. "Tonight, you will walk out and keep walking 'til Tivoli is just a memory for you. Or, I will kill you and have my men kill everyone you are associated with in town, and all your bodies will feed the crows on some hillside nearby."
Will alternates between sweating through his suit and complimenting the Bearded Guy. (Dear Listener, you may find this becomes a common theme for Will).
The three Thugs escort Will through a dark alleyway on the edge of town. The Very Large Thug, deciding they have gone far enough, draws his weapon. While Will tries to talk them out of killing him, we find out that the Bearded Guy's carpets, which came from the Far East, are very expensive (thus the need to kill Will in the dark alley). Our hero offers to pay the Thugs to allow him to escape, and Will feels a knife against his throat.
The world begins to slow down around Will. It's as if time has stopped for everyone and everything around him. A figure approaches from the distance. This figure appears to be made of swirling fog.
While Will gets away from the frozen Thug's knife with only a small cut, the man made of fog continues to approach.
We Meet The Swirly Man
"So Billy Pumpkin," The Swirly Man say "Look where you found yourself. Thinking you're so strong and powerful, yet here you are almost being killed by men who can't even spell their own names."
Will dismisses that name as ridiculous and tries to run from the man but finds himself frozen in place. He claims to have been watching Will for some time saying, "I know you and your brother and your sisters and everything that they've been doing."
Will compliments the man's "swirliness" and says that he should be getting home.
The Swirly Man tells Will that he sees Will's life going in a different direction from now on. He offers to rescue Will from his deadly situation and even give him powers to protect himself. In return, Will must help with an occasional favor - whatever The Swirly Man requires.
Will sees no choice but to agree and is handed a "locket for his pocket (it is not a walkit)".
The Swirly Man gives his first command. Will must enter the carriage at the end of the dark alleyway and ride until it stops. The Thugs are lifted into the air. Their arms and legs are ripped off simultaneously and their parts fall to the ground and make an awful mess. Will is glad that his clothes aren't soiled and tells the Thugs that this is what they get for messing with him, so next time, don't do it. (Dear Listener, yes, they are dead and can't hear Will. Please see the quote section below for more information.)
Will sees the carriage and after realizing that the dark alleyway looks relatively safe, he Olympic Speed Walks to the carriage. At Will's questioning, the Carriage Driver indicates that he does not know his employers.
Will says, "He was Swirly. He was Swirly. It was amazing." He gets into the carriage feeling like this is the best deal he has ever made.
We Meet Lamora
Lamora starts her adventure in Season 1 with a full adventurer's pack, a mace, a shield, and some money - basically everything the Temple Priests could provide for her safe journey to anywhere else. She leaves the Temple heading North West to the nearest town marked on her map. She cries a little as she walks through the forest. This is the first time in her life she has ever been alone.
As she wanders the path, she comes upon a carriage. A man is standing alone outside the carriage, not paying attention to her at all. Lamora, aware of her loneliness, approaches this complete stranger.
She asks him if he knows of a good place to eat in the area and he tells her that the village is a half day walk followed by a larger city another 10 or 12 days walk in the direction she is going. He realizes she is a bit bewildered and seems lost.
When she explains that this is the first time she has been out of the Temple, he offers her a ride to the next town. Since he is going that way anyway to pick someone up, she doesn't need to pay him.
She naively accepts the ride and hops into the carriage.
A Long Carriage Ride For All
The carriage ride seem to drag on forever for everyone (not unlike the 4th and 5th Game of Thrones books). The windows of each carriage are covered in dark curtains from the outside, so no one knows what time of day it is, but it feels like hours have passed.
While traveling, Will inspects his locket and realizes that it is his sister's locket. It looks like it has been damaged. He can tell that there is power in the locket when he holds it, but knows nothing more about it.
All of a sudden our heroes notice that the air smells different, and each carriage drifts to a stop.
Nick listens for any clues before stepping out of the carriage, but hears nothing. He steps down from the carriage and notices two identical carriages next to his. The horses and drivers are all missing. Nick sees shapes of trees around the carriages, and while it is still daytime, it is very grey and overcast here. The forest (mostly dead and dying trees) around the carriages is almost obscured by a thick fog. There is a road in one direction, but no indication of where the carriages came from. Nick goes up to the closest carriage and opens the door.
Will is in that carriage.
Will jumps back and says, "Hello!" to Nick asking who he is. Will asks if Nick met The Swirly Man. When Nick explains that he has no idea who The Swirly Man is, Will pushes past him hopping out of the carriage.
Will, seeing a third carriage yells, "Hello!". When Lamora hears this, she cautiously exits her carriage and asks if they are the drivers.
Everyone introduces themselves and it becomes very clear that no one knows what is going on. Will takes control of the conversation and asks them to tell their stories. Nick tells the truth about how he found himself in the carriage. Lamora tells the truth about her story.
When Nick asks Will how he got there, Will tells them about The Swirly Man. He explains that The Swirly Man helped him, but does not give them any details about the Thugs, the locket, or the deal he made with The Swirly Man.
Will urges them to go find The Swirly Man as he is sure to have the answers they seek.
As they are in discussion, another carriage appears out of the mist, coasting to a stop in line with the others.
We Meet Mydhryn
Our heroes agree that they need to know who is in that carriage. As they approach, the door opens and a man steps out. He looks at everyone puzzled indicating that he doesn't know who they are or care. He inspects the carriage and says, "This again? Random craziness". He explains that he is a storyteller on his way to his next gig.
"This is nowhere near The Staggering Unicorn" he says.
They all bully Lamora a bit for never being outside the temple, and it is clear that no one knows where they are or why they are there.
Will suggests that they walk down the road. If they walk far enough maybe they'll find a town. Will then walks off not waiting to see if anyone else is coming. Mydhryn follows with Lamora behind, and Nick brings up the rear.
"It's the bumpiest one" - Eric telling someone how to find a D20
"Now, I have darkvision. Can I turn off the lights?" - Nick facing Bandit #1 in the forest
"Let's get this straight. I don't need your help. I find you entertaining." - The Swirly Man to Will
"You are Swirly and mysterious, and I'm guessing you like that about yourself, and you go with that. You do that." - Will complimenting The Swirly Man
"There won't be a next time. I should remember to say that next time. Next time there won't be a next time. This time there won't be a next time. I gotta work on that. This was your last time. The first time. The first time was your last." - Will scolding the dead Thugs as their body parts hit the pavement
"They look very afraid as they die." - Kevin in response to Will scolding the dead Thugs as their body parts hit the pavement
"He was smoky. He was Swirly. Grey. He was like a mist. He was magical. He was amazing." - Will describing The Swirly Man to Nick and Lamora
- This episode was brought to you by: Your Friend's Mom's Basement - open 'til 11:30 pm, unless it's a school night.
- The episode name quotes Mydhryn's observation upon stepping out his carriage and discovering himself in Barovia.