Borc's Bandits

Episode 35: Fuuuuuuuuuuccckkkkkkkk!!!!

After exiting the crystal caves, the group decided to head back down the mountain. Yewusha and her zombie minions were nowhere to be seen and the group didn't want to wait around for them to show up. 

As night fell, they made camp among the forested foothills on the edge of the mountain range. Rain lashed down and, during watch, Nuck and Magick felt uneasy, like something was watching them. Borc and Nuck decided to go scout through the surrounding trees. They saw broken branches and some odd tracks but no creatures.

In the morning, as the group was getting ready to depart, Borc noticed some dwarf-sized footprints a few feet from where he had slept. They led into the trees and disappeared before going 15 feet. When he turned back to tell the group, they all saw, written in mud on Borc's bald head: "Thxxx Byeee." Borc also noticed the cat toy from Gloria was gone and Magick slowly put the pieces together. The warlock suggested that Gloria might have actually been a Lich and used the group to smuggle her phylactery out of the cave so she could escape (by killing herself and re-emerging from the phylactery as a Lich is want to do).

As they walked, the group wondered if Gloria was good or bad. They wondered if Yewusha was good or bad. Then they wondered if they were good or bad. Before they could decide, they found an odd, very old statue in the forest surrounded by a calm pool of water. Inscribed in sylvan along the base were the words: "Ask and ye shall be answered." Nuck asked how to open the magically-locked box containing the Quiama Crystal. The statue answered with a confusing response about besting Vakys and beads or berries. 

They asked other questions and tried to get more out of the strange statue but to no avail. Frustrated and confused, they decided to continue onward. Julliumz and Magick took turns trying to remove the magical enchantment trapping the crystal in the wooden box but neither were successful.

That night, Nuck and Julli heard branches breaking during their watch. They went to investigate and spotted more broken branches and tracks. Following the tracks led them to a slow-moving invisible creature meandering away from their camp. Julliumz dispelled magic revealing one of Yewusha's zombies. They watched for a while and then let it wander off.

But when they turned back to return to camp, Yewusha was standing right in their path. A tense, surprisingly civil conversation took place. Yewusha asked for the crystal. Julliumz claimed they didn't have it. Yewusha knew they were lying. The back and forth was tense but going nowhere. Slowly, the other party members woke up hearing the conversation off in the trees and, one by one, they joined Nuck and Julli—carefully positioning themselves so that Yewusha was surrounded. 

The group asked what Yewusha wanted with the crystal. Yewusha asked what they wanted with it. Yewusha told the group that she knew they had it. She could sense when it was outside the bag of holding. They told her about Cesc—that they were simply on an errand to collect it for someone else. Yewusha probed them with more and more questions and slowly, Nuck realized that the charming female wizard was stalling.

Sensing something wasn't quite right, Nuck signaled to Borc. The barbarian lunged at Yewusha as Nuck teleported back to camp. Borc flew right through what turned out to be a very convincing illusion and landed face-first in the dirt. Nuck searched frantically through the camp looking for the bag of holding—but it was already gone. 

The group was frantic. They scried on Ken, Yewusha's zombie to see where she had gone. But Magick's vision only showed the zombie shambling through nondescript forest trees. In a moment of brilliance, the group decided to backtrack to the mysterious statue to ask it about Yewusha's whereabouts. But once again, they got an odd, elaborate response that didn't seem to make much sense. They probed the statue with other questions about Yewusha, Vakys, and the crystal before they realized that it was a red herring. The responses were more like fables than truths—lies just vague enough to be convincing.

They gave up on the statue and tried once again to scry on their foe. This time, Magick saw a similar scene, but one that suggested the wizard and her minions were much nearer to the edges of the forest. Yewusha was frantically pulling items from their bag but had yet to get her hands on the crystal. 

Out of options, the adventurers decided to get back to Hythe and ask Cesc for guidance. The remainder of their trip was spent quietly, despondently walking single file. That is until they ran into Tela and Finare on the road just south of their inn. Cesc's two acolytes asked if the group had found the crystal. They told the group that Cesc would be very pleased with their work. The two acolytes then admitted, rather secretly, that they were on a different errand and quickly left the group and continued southward.

The group arrived back at their inn late at night and, after the briefest of meals, went to bed. But only a few hours later they were all awoken by knocks on their doors. Scout was in the hall and told them they had a visitor. 

Sitting in the tavern on the main floor, drinking wine and snacking on bread and cheese was Yewusha. Unable to summon the crystal from the bag of holding (she didn't know what its name was) she had come to make a deal. She kept the group's gold but handed back the bag and the remainder of its contents as a show of good faith. She offered to return the gold and provide new, additional information—about Nuck's crown and Borc's hammer—in exchange for the crystal.  

Unwilling to let her get the drop on them again, Wax snuck some Whisky of Truth and some of Borc's magic mushrooms into Yewusha's wine. Emboldened and unknowingly charmed, she told the group about the two magic items—and the other three that, together, made up the Remnants of the Fall, a series of items crafted by the gods during the last celestial war. She told them what she knew about the other three: a ring, a cloak, and a dagger. She also told them the truth about why she wanted the crystal: she needed it to protect and (when required) revive her zombies. Since they met her, Yewusha had been calling them, oddly, jokingly, her children. She admitted the truth beneath the joke: they were, in fact, her children. And all she wanted to do was to keep them near and protect them.

The story humanized the necromancer and, taken aback by her honesty, the group suggested she stay in town, near enough to the crystal to benefit from its powers. Out of options, and under the effect of Wax's Whisky of Truth, she suggested the group take the crystal to Cesc as they had planned—it was the right thing to do. Whatever Cesc had planned, Yewusha would do what she always did: try her best to make due with an unfortunate lot in life. The party went back to bed after making sure Scout would keep a close, close, close eye on their new guest….



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