The Crystal Kingdom is the fourth story arc of The Balance Arc. It follows the Tres Horny Boys as they fight through ghosts and giant tardigrades in order to prevent a super sciency laboratory that has been overtaken by pink tourmaline from hitting the sea and crystallizing the entire world.
It's Candlenights. You're celebrating in your dorm with friends at the Bureau giving and receiving presents including a set of strange badges emblazoned with an unreadable type given by an anonymous donor. The Director is contacted by Lucas, who calls her by her real name, "Lucretia". He explains that he has a Grand Relic, The Philosopher's Stone, which belongs to the school of transmutation magic. Something in his lab has taken it and used it to turn the exterior of his lab into pink tourmaline. The spell is still being channeled, meaning everything that the crystal touches is also turned to crystal. His lab is sinking into the Stillwater Sea and if it touches it, the world will get crystallized and destroyed.
You are sent to his lab with another party in tow; a team of Regulators sent to arrest Lucas for his abuse of confidential information. That team includes Boyland, a gruff Dwarf Fighter, Killian, and Carey Fangbattle, a Dragonborn Rogue and sister of Jeremy "Scales" Fangbattle, a bard introduced in the Flophouse Switcharoo Episode. The team of Regulators is separated during the fierce winter storm. The three of you enter a conservatory which has been crystallized and are attacked by Golem which has self formed out of the shards of crystal. You escape and hear a song sung by a synthetic voice but you can't quite piece together what is going on there. After besting a few traps, including the puzzle robot Hodgepodge, you meet NO-3113, a helpful floating robot powered by a large glowing fuse in the middle of her chassis.
You find a peculiar mirror in Lucas' private chambers which show you sights from OUR world (the real world) and find an abandoned bedroom belonging to Lucas' deceased mother, Maureen. You meet a family of Bugbears which Klarg once belonged to, all of which have behavior modification chips which make them pretty chill. You also find a very dead Boyland who has been crystallized after having a smoke by an open window in the lab. After a few run-ins with the Golem which seems to only want to attack Merle, you regroup with Killian and Carey, and Merle is tricked by the Golem who speaks with a man's British accent impersonating Pan, Merle's God. He entices Merle to grab a crystal which shatters and pierces his hand. Magnus quickly chops off his arm to stop the crystallization from spreading through his whole body.
You're whisked into the med-bay where Lucas treats Merle's wounds and gives him a new arm made of Soulwood, a living wood with psychic capabilities. He takes you to the Cosmoscope, a room filled with gemstone windows to other planes of existence, which he crafted using the Philosopher's Stone. The room is designed to allow the user to study those planes and perhaps see what lies beyond them. The seven of you, including Lucas, Killian, Carey and NO-3113, make your way towards the elevator in the center of the complex, but Killian and Carey turn on Lucas to arrest him before he can get closer to the Relic. The Crystal all around you changes forms a few times and Lucas disables your whole party by activating a trap in your Null Suits, which is protective outerwear which has protected you from getting crystallized this whole time. Lying paralyzed on the floor, the Golem appears in front of you once more.
The Golem introduces himself as a bounty hunter named Kravitz, who says he is there to take Taako, Magnus, Merle, and NO-3113 back to the Astral Plane. He escapes after Taako eats one of his crystals with the Glutton's Fork. Carey sees Killian's helmet has a crack in it. Killian confesses that she was almost taken in by the thrall of the Phoenix Fire Gauntlet and leaves, taking the bugbear family to safety.
They continue to the Robotics Manufacturing Room, where they find three robots, each containing the soul of an enemy the team killed before Maarvey, Jenkins, and Magic Brian. A fight ensues, and Merle banishes the three back to the Astral Plane. Magnus realizes that NO-3113 is a spirit in a robot body. She remembers that her name is Noelle Redcheek and she died when Phandalin was destroyed, and she is filled with determination to help the team stop the Philosopher's Stone. She makes herself a new body from the combined parts of the robots they just destroyed.
They finally reach the room Lucas is in. He has been trying to free a humanoid robot from an amethyst stalactite. The robot holds a large disc (later revealed to be the Siphon, a device Lucas built to take souls from the Astral Plane) in one hand, and the Philosopher's Stone in the other. The room also contains a large sapphire mirror- a mirror to the Astral Plane, the land of the dead.
After being threatened by Magnus, Lucas tells them the full story: he's actually had the Philosopher's Stone for 4 months, not a few weeks, and he used it to make more Cosmoscope mirrors for his mother, Maureen. When she used the Cosmoscope, however, it killed her and destroyed her mind. Lucas devoted himself to finding a way to bring her back, testing out his inventions on NO-3113's spirit to contain it within a robot vessel, and built the robot in the stalactite, which currently contains his mother's soul. When he took her from her prison in the Astral Plane and put her in her new body, she attacked him and stole the Philosopher's Stone, using it to crystalize the lab.
Kravitz appears in the mirror and explains that he is a bounty hunter for the goddess of the natural order of life and death, the Raven Queen. He has come to stop Lucas, a necromancer, collect Maureen's soul, who escaped from The Eternal Stockade (a prison for souls who try to escape), and collect NO-3113's soul, because she's dead, but he stumbled upon Taako, Magnus, and Merle, who have huge bounties for having died several times (8, 19, and 57, respectively) and not coming to the Astral Plane. Kravitz is attacked by spirits escaping the Eternal Stockade, who then come out of the mirror to ask for help destroying the barriers between life and death. Everyone refuses, and a fight ensues.
Several of the spirits possess robots and fight NO-3113 and Carey, while Magnus, Merle, and Taako fight Legion, a collective form of many spirits. The robots target Lucas and shoot him, leaving him nearly dead. Taako shatters the stalactite, freeing the robot Maureen, who uses the Philosopher's Stone to stop the spreading crystallization of the lab. She gives it to Magnus after he promises to help fix things, and Magnus eats it. He attacks the sapphire mirror, putting a small crack in it and severing it's link to the Astral Plane. The mirror falls on top of him, pinning him beneath it. Maureen destroys her robot's hands and uses the exposed wires to act as a defibrillator for Lucas, bringing him back to life. Merle, with the help of Pan, banishes Legion back to the Astral Plane.
With the fight over, they regain contact with the Director and the Moonbase. Magnus lies and tells the Director that Lucas is dead, thinking he owes Maureen for giving him the stone, and Merle heals Lucas at Maureen's request.
Kravitz possesses one of the destroyed robots. As a reward for stopping the Legion, he gets rid of Magnus, Taako, and Merle's bounties, as well as Lucas's, since he's technically never died. Magnus cheats to beat Kravitz in a game of high-card draw in exchange for NO-3113 and Maureen's souls to be left in their new mechanical bodies. Despite this, Maureen chooses to go back to the Astral Plane, telling Lucas that she saw something in the Cosmoscope that she should not have seen, and she can't risk remembering it and losing her mind again. After promising that she'll see Lucas again someday, she leaves with Kravitz.
Lucas calls Upsy to help everyone escape and gives them the central fuse from Maureen's robot, telling them it contains the memory of whatever she saw in the Cosmoscope. Lucas promises that they'll never see him again, and Upsy takes Magnus, Taako, Merle, Carey, and NO-3113 back to the Moonbase.
Carey and Killian have a heartfelt reunion, and everyone discovers that NO-3113 doesn't need to be inoculated with the Voidfish's ichor. NO-3113 joins Carey and Killian's team, replacing the late Boyland as a regulator. Merle and Taako use their combined magic to get the Philosopher's Stone out of Magnus. They give the stone to Davenport, and it is destroyed.
The Director calls the three into her office to question them about their conversation with the Red Robe in the Cosmoscope, asking them why they don't trust her. After being reassured that "it's not mistrust, it's just stupidity," and that they just forgot about her instructions to run away from the Red Robes, they all agree to trust each other in the future.
Once back in their rooms, they hear a voice coming from the fuse that used to be in Maureen's robot. It says, "I saw all of existence, all at once. I saw a dark storm, a living hunger, eating it from within. But I saw a brilliant light, heralded by seven birds, flying tirelessly from the storm. I saw seven birds. The twins, the lover, the protector, the lonely journal keeper, the peacemaker, and the wordless one."
The machine repeats the list several more times before going silent.
- Lucas' Lab
Long-Term Significance Edit
- Knowledge of the planar system
- Introduction of Kravitz and his claim that the boys have died several times in the past, despite none of them remembering that
- Introduction of NO-3113 and that entities from other planes still know and comprehend things that the Voidfish has erased
- Merle loses his arm and has it replaced with a soul wood prosthetic.
- Reveal that Klarg is going to be charmed on and off forever now because of Taako's spell and Lucas' wonky modification chip
- The ominous "seven birds" line from Maureen's fuse box.
|Ep. 29: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter One||December 19th, 2015||Listen||1:01:48|
|A new adventure begins! Join our heroes as they host a relatively successful office holiday party, and mourn as that party gets totally sidelined by a potential apocalypse. Magnus puts his carpentry to good use. Taako perfects his macaron recipe. Merle does some re-gifting.|
|Ep. 30: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Two||December 31st, 2015||Listen||1:02:05|
|Our heroes make their way into Lucas's floating, crystallized lab, and face off against their deadliest foe yet. Will they thrive under the pressure of an apocalyptic time limit? Or will they waste too much time just standing around, debating the names of members of the band U2? Magnus gets caught fibbing. Taako learns about a Grandpa. Merle gets Touched by an Angel.|
|Ep. 31: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Three||January 14th, 2016||Listen||1:01:45|
|Having survived an encounter with their deadliest foe yet, our heroes take a moment to reflect on some of Faerun's most prodigious scientific achievements. Later, the trio is forced into a deadly test of intellect, and you can probably guess how well that goes. Merle does some pest control. Magnus makes a token of friendship. Taako enjoys some "Taako time."|
|Ep. 32: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Four||January 28th, 2016||Listen||1:03:17|
|We may have finally found a challenge that our heroes cannot overcome: Math-based trivia. Can our heroes stump their animatronic captor before turning extra crispy? Can they stave off a crystalline death for one more episode? Merle seeks divine intervention. Magnus makes an otherworldly find. Taako's good out here.|
|Ep. 33: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Five||February 11th, 2016||Listen||1:00:03|
|Our heroes face a series of challenges while exploring Lucas' lab that are, admittedly, all pretty adorable. But still super deadly! Just, like, huggably deadly. Merle performs a random act of kindness. Taako remembers an acrobatic nursery rhyme. Magnus experiences the magic of flight.|
|Ep. 34: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Six||February 25th, 2016||Listen||1:00:37|
|Can our heroes achieve a competent victory against three relatively unkillable foes? More importantly: Can they do any sick stunts while doing so? Taako conjures up the ultimate terror. Magnus has a public service announcement. Merle faces a crystal conundrum.|
|Ep. 35: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Seven||March 10th, 2016||Listen||1:11:01|
|Our heroes recover after performing some impromptu emergency surgery on their holiest team member, and then, after kicking it for a while, learn the secrets of the universe. No big deal. Taako tries on a new voice. Magnus does some backseat Regulating. Merle learns about an exciting new plant.|
|Ep. 36: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Eight||March 24th, 2016||Listen||1:20:57|
|Hey, things aren't really going that great for our heroes right now, but on the plus side - it's MaxFunDrive time! You can support our show by going to maximumfun.org/donate, though unfortunately, you can't really support our heroes right now, they've got to un-goof this situation themselves. Merle saves a life. Magnus gets new legs. Taako introduces a long-overdue tentacle scene to the show.|
|Ep. 37: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Nine||April 7th, 2016||Listen||1:03:09|
|It's going down. Our heroes have a thrilling showdown with three of their most deadly, most dead foes -- but will they fare as well in Round Two as they did the first time around? Taako defies gravity. Magnus adds to his collection. Merle learns the basics of the Cleric class.|
|Ep. 38: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Ten||April 21st, 2016||Listen||1:13:27|
|It's time for the final confrontation. Who's been hunting our heroes all throughout this campaign? What's Lucas really after? Why is Merle getting just completely boned in every fight? Answers to these questions and more linger just behind the play button. Taako has a plan. Magnus has a snack. Merle says his prayers.|
|Ep. 39: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter Eleven||May 5th, 2016||Listen||1:12:14|
|After a climactic victory, our heroes have a few loose ends to tie up before moving on to their next adventure. Will Lucas and Maureen get Regulated? Will Kravitz claim his undead bounty? More importantly, how are they going to get that big, magic rock out of Magnus' tummy? Merle does prank medicine. Magnus tells a fib. Taako just twerks it out.|