Alas, the party faced a broken cart! Purchased in Gotullihein, it had a special contraption that allowed it to switch between wheeled cart and a sled on rails, making it perfect for desert crossings. The first time the party tried to use it, the system broke, necessitating repairs right on the edge of the sands, where our heroes felt the unmistakeable sensation of being watched. Nothing emerged to attack them, and then they were off!
Even just two chickabobs were enough to send them flying across the sands. There was a brief moment of panic with a fist-sized wasp harassing them, and when it was dead a mysterious ray fish that could glide through the sand gobbled it up. There was a whole school of them following the cart closely, but a quick blast of power from Jory sent them flapping away.
The protections the witch had arranged for herself were many, and varied. The oni who had been run off returned in hot pursuit of the heroes, disfigured and warped by its own alchemical draughts. The party dispatched it and its disturbing snake-dogs with prejudice. A forest made of trees with exploding fruit blinded and deafened them, but they pressed through with no permanent damage. A keen eye spotted feathers warning them of harpies lying in wait ahead, with whom the party negotiated safe passage in exchange for freeing the winged wretches from Gumulgra’s painful extortion.
At long last, the witch’s hut was before the party, situated on a rise within a wide crag. An attempt to break in stealthily from the rear of the compound backfired when an enchantment threw the intruding PCs directly into the large, dirt-floored pit that took up much of the hut. From above, the amused Gumulgra revealed the parties quest-giver was also the witch’s patron, though he was clearly so unsatisfied with her work enchanting his well that he sent the PCs to assassinate her. Despite this revelation, the PCs were convinced of her evil, and rushed to engage her.
Gumulgra was all too eager to do battle. At first, she shot bolts of power down at our heroes while she floated above on her broomstick, cackling. A lucky strike destroyed her ability to fly, but the space filled with a dark, obscuring fog, and the witch proved her bo staff skills with a litheness that belied her years. Through cooperation, the PCs managed to gravely wound the witch, causing her to retreat to the platforms above, tossing down potions at random. The very first to score a hit was accidentally a healing potion, re-energizing the party! Though the witch rallied near her bubbling cauldron, she was no match for the combined efforts of all five party members, and in what may have been her death throes, she dissolved into hundreds of squirming centipedes.
In no time at all, the party had scoured everything of value from the hut, including the broken, empty harpy eggshells they humbly returned to their grief-stricken mothers. No further conflict arose, and our heroes were free to return to the Land of the Seven pools without incident, to claim their prize and put the squeeze on Ishkar for his treachery.
Swapping their supplies in preparation for a long journey through the desert, Partyocalypse was almost ready to depart and continue their original quest for Ioun’s Lost Library—but first, the night was young, and there was revelry to be had…