The party leaves the research lab. Yish wants to go back to Bandu. Olivie is happy to have her books. On the way back, the party decides to take the way back to Bandu the same way they had come. This requires them to go back to the mansion. Clarion is curious about her work there, but she doesn’t pursue that thought any further.
After passing the mansion and while passing by the path where the party had met the merchant group earlier, the party is ambushed by four bandits. Yish jokingly offers Clarion in exchange for passage. The bandits like the offer, but Yish takes back the offer. Instead, he loads his crossbow (which causes the bandits to aim their bows at him), and he points it at Hnng. Hnng and Yish then put on an act to convince the bandits that the party is totally crazy. The act includes Yish threatening Hnng while nudging him with his foot and slapping him. Hnng makes strange screeching noises.
Two of the bandits say something about the party being connected with “the spirits” and then start running as fast as they can away from the party. The other two are not convinced that the party is connected with “the spirits”, but they feel very vulnerable without the other two and so run away as well. Hnng tries to chase down one of them, but that one gets away. Meanwhile, Yish shoots another one. Hnng then tries to grapple the bandit that got hit by Yish’s crossbow bolt. While Hnng does not succeed in his grapple, the bandit does lose his boot to Hnng, who begins gnawing on it. Once Hnng realizes he has failed at grappling, he yells out, “if I can’t have you, no one can”, and he shoots his crossbow at the fleeing bandit (the shot misses). The party eventually outmaneuvers the bandit, which leads to the bandit laying down his weapons, kneeling, and surrendering.
Marda approaches the bandit and asks how he got his armor. The bandit looks back at Marda and tells her that he doesn’t know (he received it from his boss). Yish points his rapier at the bandit, threatens him that Marda will fully explain the ethical armor matter unless he gives him all of his stuff. Hnng suggests that the bandit is a victim of bureaucracy. His name is Lactna Aurelius born under the sign of Libra. Yish attempts to lead the negotiation, demanding that Lactna give up all of his money, but Hnng tries to mediate the situation. Marda asks the bandit where the squirrels are most prevalent in the forest. The bandit makes the terrible mistake of mentioning squirrel traps, at which Marda moves to kill him. Hnng stops Marda from killing the bandit. Yish comes up with a compromise: keep weapons, receive healing, take down squirrel traps, and change careers.
Later during the travel, Yish pulls Marda aside and explains how valuable she is to him, which is why he acted the way he did with the chimera circumstance. He doesn’t want to lose her. The rest of the party is unbearable. Of all the people in the group, only Marda’s actions (in the context of her beliefs) make sense to Yish. Yish also reveals that he cares about finding Vallan because, despite Yish finding Vallan boring, Yish knows Vallan as the only person that seemed to care about him.
As the party approaches the swamp, there is a herd of ponies that ignore the party. Marda approaches them to ask if any of them would like to follow her. One of them has always wanted to be an adventurous pony. His name is Wubbe. Wubbe says goodbye to the other ponies and follows Marda. Yish tells Marda to find a way to permanently enable Wubbe to speak common.
As the party returns to Bandu late at night the third day afterward, Hnng invites Olivie to stay the night with him. Olivie is so flattered that she kisses him, and the two go back to his apartment. Marda asks Wubbe if he would prefer to stay in town or go to the animal sanctuary. Wubbe prefers to stay in town if the animal sanctuary is far.
As usual, Nen’s office is completely locked up. Hnng knocks. Nen opens his door slit a crack and asks, “What?” Hnng responds that he is quitting. Nen unbolts the door and rushes forward, embracing Hnng. He can’t stop smiling as he says, “I’m sorry to see you leave. I’d be happy to write you a letter of recommendation for your next position.” Hnng informs Nen that he has cleaned out his office.