Barna arrived at the camp to find it in ruin. Bodies were strewn over the walls, throughout the camp, and piled up in front of the chiefs’ Hut. The young
Bandit ran to his chiefs corpse, noting the bite marks that ravaged his body.

He fell back into a sitting position and sighed. There was only one creature alive capable of this particular flavour of carnage. Suddenly he heard Galliwigs voice calling out. “Barna? Are you back?” Barna couldn’t muster any reaction to this but to fall on his back and laugh. As long as their priest had survived, they would all be fine.

“Yes, Gal. Looks like I missed the fun!” He looked happily at the heavily armoured gnome walking towards him. “Fun? Three people died making sure I managed to hide. They threw me into the Barrel, Barn. THE BARREL! And don’t even get me started on the screams… I’m not sure everyone will even want a resurrection after that.” The gnome sat next to his larger friend and sighed. “I’m not sure the diamond is big enough for this many resurrections.” Barna nodded. The diamond they had used to channel that spell had already cracked off a few pieces over the years, and while he didn’t understand the nuances or specifics of the magic the priest used, he did understand better than anyone the description that Galliwig had given the camp: “Need diamond for rez. Diamond breaking is not good.”
Standing up, Barna looked around the desolate camp. “Ok, so we rez who we can, then bury the rest until we can find a fresh stone.” he started dragging the chief’s body to the small hut at the end of the camp, crouching to get in as he pulled the chief to Galliwigs altar. As the small cleric began his ritual, placing the frayed gem on a stand on the end of the flat stone slab, sprinkling various herbs over the body, and holding the medallion around his neck, the one that connected him to his religion. “Oh wise Flarghlagn, call this man’s soul to the gate, and permit him safe passage to this vessel.”
Mass of dead bandits in the snow
Image from TESO

The whole process took about ten minutes, enough time for Barna to drag three more bodies to the door of the miniature hut. Barna heard a sudden deep breath of air from inside, interrupted by a thud, followed by a string of curses. The chief had woken up, and, as always, shot up into a sitting position, knocking his head on the ceiling.

“Gruumsh’s left eye, Gal! How many times do I have to tell you to lift your ceiling?”
Galliwig laughed, resting his forehead on his hand. “That makes twelve. I did, but I had to raise the altar as the portents dictate that the altar must be a certain height from the roof, not the floor.” Barna stifled a laugh. The so-called ‘certain height’ just happened to be the exact height that only the chief and Mor hit their heads. The portents were also a complete lie, and Barna was the only one who was aware of this. Shortly after, the chieftain crawled out of the tiny temple, grumbling and rubbing his head. “Bloody hells, Chief. It’s not right to question a man’s religion when he’s just saved your life!” He grinned, putting on his best ‘mock-judgement’ voice.
“Can it, Barnathemew. I swear that ceiling gets harder every time!” It did – every time the chief managed to get himself offed, Galliwig would throw a few hardening spells into the wood. He and Barna had a bet going to see which of the two tallest members of the gang would be the first to notice. Barna sighed, knowing he’d have to give the priest his last few crowns.
“Barnathemew? Really? You really did wake up on the wrong side of the crypt.”
“Bite me.”
“Oh, no, the goat’s done that enough for today.”

“Alright, alright, help me clean this place up – we got a lot to do.”

Barna really did enjoy getting a rise out of the boss. Given the loose hierarchy of Bandit gang leadership he knew he could have taken his place – he was much smarter and almost as good at fighting, but he had never wanted the role because of the problems that came with it. Far better to constantly annoy him and occasionally give him the right advice.

The two leisurely carried body after body to the Hut, slowly being joined by seven more of their comrades before Galliwig walked out of the hut with a tiny diamond in his hand. “I’ve got juice for one more spell,” he said, discouraged. “It’s time to get Mor on the altar. “
Looking at each other, Barna and the chief sighed. This was always a painful process. Barna gave the order to bury the rest of the bodies, calling Knicks to help with the massive orc. Knicks had gotten her name for being the only Bandit ever known who was incapable of using a bow or crossbow. The only weapons she had ever had a feel for were the paired throwing daggers that were enchanted to return to her hands after throwing. She’d throw them past someone, just nicking them before calling them back, causing them to dig into the targets’ back. She was also strong and nimble despite her short size, which made her the only way they could have two people inside Galliwigs hut to move the resident orcs’ massive frame.
“I don’t see why we don’t just cut his finger off,” the rogue complained. “Burns more diamond,” Barna grunted in response. “Cheaper to use the whole body.”
The chief snickered from outside, “Is that what the butcher said to the farmgirl?” As the others struggled to manoeuvre the mass of dead weight in his hut, Galliwig allowed himself to get lost in thought. “Yes, on both counts,” he finally chimed. Knicks rolled her eyes sarcastically as Barna’s jaw closed the gap between his head and the ground – a reaction of pure shock that the chief had actually said something that wasn’t just intelligent, but witty even. Knicks noticed this and reminded Barna that the chief was, in fact, male, and the slightly perverse nature of the comment would always compensate for the sheer lack of brainpower in times like this.
It was another ten minutes later that Mor woke up with a start, bashing his head and letting off a chain of curses longer than the chief’s death record. Which, given the size the now tainted diamond had once been, was quite ridiculously long.
Uncut Cullinan Diamond
The PHB never said anything about diamonds being cut before using them as a spell component...

The whole process had taken about two hours, and the sun was well into the sky, filling the camp with the smell of death and sweat as the the next two hours were spent putting the rest of the bodies into shallow graves. The bandits worked well as a team – Galliwig had raised the dead in order of usefulness, and the current survivors were the top half of the gang’s hierarchy.

No young, doubtful, inexperienced or clumsy fresh meat here to slow anything down – they were able to work with little more than the occasional gesture or meaningful glance. Still, it was unpleasant work, and more than once they considered just feeding some of the newbies to the pigs. While none of them were that cold, even for bandits (except Mor) the other problem with this was that the pigs had gotten the worst of the attack. Even Galliwig didn’t have a spell for what happened to Miss Truffles. Poor, poor, Miss Truffles.

With all of the bitter work done, the ten bandits gathered around the Barrel, each quietly pouring a drink and sitting in a circle, all looking to the chief, with the diminutive healer on his left and his advisor on the right. “So, are we going to talk about what the hells happened last night?” it was Cairne, a half-elven man with a braid long enough to wear as a belt. It wasn’t clear if he was directing the question to the chief or the priest, but the quivering of his one pointy ear seemed oddly accusatory.

Galliwig was the first to speak. “You all did admirably last night. I know it’s a lot to ask to lay down your lives to save mine, and a lot of the idiots in the ground over there,” he pointed to the mass grave unceremoniously shambled together by the pig-pen, “didn’t have the tactical sense to do what had to be done. But you, Knicks and Mor did, and the fact that you’re sitting here is the fruit of that. So thanks.”

He’d been working on that little speech the whole morning, it seemed, but he still seemed to consider every word as he said them, one by one wandering if it was the right thing to say.

Cairne sighed, his irritation wavering in the face of such a unique compliment.

After a brief, strangely awkward silence, Barna was the next to raise his voice. “That’s all well and good, but what DID happen this morning? I left early to take the bardess home, and I came back to… Well, this!” He waved his arm to gesture at the whole camp. While all of the fires were out, the plumes of smoke rising from several huts, wagons and piles of debris, along with the fact that not one square meter of the camp wasn’t littered with either missed arrows or severed limbs made it very clear that he’d missed quite a battle. As if to drive the point home, the arm that had somehow held onto the ale barrel that whole time finally lost its grip, falling behind Barna and giving him a not-so-reassuring pat on the back.
Knicks leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees, interlocking her fingers to make a bridge to rest her chin on. A shadow masked the scowl on her slender face, and suddenly, all that Barna could see was the darkness in her eyes under her pixie-like hair. He shivered. “It was… It. The dread goat. I heard the pigs squealing…”
Evil lookin' goat.
Real talk - this goat was one of the hardest fights my players have had - though it was right after a bbeg druid fight

Dylan Beckbessinger

App developer by day, Chaotic Neutral dungeon master by night, Dylan has been a DM for 10 years, and an avid fan of all things geekdom for far, far longer than that. Favorite class is eldritch theurge, because raw power doesn't need any limits.


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