The Sparing Ones, The Backwater Gambit, Campaign Diary 16

Chapter 15

The Sparing Ones

 

The only people they see are themselves…

 

Nym, Roben, John, and Jorg find themselves standing in a bright, white void. The landscape is featureless and seemingly infinite. In the distance, they see four forms walking towards them soon realizing these forms are mirror versions of themselves. The four discover they can touch the mirror forms, which do, say, and react the exact same as they do. The party is confused about how to proceed and overcome the challenge they’re facing. 

Jorg attempts to do some damage to the mirror forms making a surprise move to slash at Nym’s mirror form but misses. Following from the idea, John stabs the real Jorg in the shoulder. The party watches as mirror form John stabs mirror form Jorg with both Jorgs taking a small amount of damage. Soon the party discover the mirror forms don’t possess the magical items the real selves do–Jorg puts on his Hat of Disguise to appear as JOhn revealing that while he changes, his mirror form does not; John holds up the Pearl of Power necklace Nym made him seeing his mirror form self hold up the same necklace but without the pearl;

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Roben unsheathes and activates his Sun blade discovering his mirror form only holds a hilt; and Nym pulls out her Javelin of Lightning seeing her mirror self do the same gesture but hold nothing. Reluctantly, the party decides to kill their mirror forms.

After a debate about how to do it, Roben steps up with his Sun Blade attempting to decapitate his mirror self. As he does so, his mirror self goes through the same motion but has no blade. The radiant blade severs the head of the mirror self as Roben feels only a quick but fleeting burning sensation through his neck. The mirror form of Roben turns to dust. Roben then does the same to the remaining mirror forms. When the last dies, the dust from all the mirror forms swirls up caught by some unseen and unfelt wind and suddenly the party is standing in a large stone hall.

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Before them on three stone thrones are three beautiful women. They all appear to have the same visage but different colored hair with their eyes a colorless white. The Sparing Ones sitting on their thrones tower over the party, who realize each of these witches appear fifty feet tall. The witch in the center welcomes the party congratulating them on making it through the trials to reach them and they’ve earned a boon from them. Stepping forward, Nym greets and thanks the witches saying they’re here to have their friend cured of the curse plaguing him. The middle witch immediately looks at Jorg. She waves a hand. Jorg feels his body convulse as the were-gnoll curse is pulled from his blood. A large fang pierces its way out of the bite wound on his forearm. Jorg gently pulls it out of his arm, holds the fang in his hand before placing it in his pocket. The wound heals completely as Jorg feels his body remain health.

The middle witch explains to the party they can ask for two more boons–one from each of the other witches–if they complete the task presented by them. John asks another witch for a spell to help them defeat Kolo. She replies that they will find what they need if they journey to the southern Corse ruins and defeat the rival coven there. The final witch seems more manic constantly asking the party if they will play her game. The party is hesitant but eventually John agrees to play. The witch seems overjoyed. Her hands reach down to John offering him an array of playing cards telling him to pick a number of cards to draw from the deck.

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John draws six cards from the Deck of Many Things. His first card is The Fool, his second The Fates, the third is The Throne, his fourth draw is Ruin, his fifth draw is The Skull and before the Visage of Death can fully materialize he uses The Fates card to erase his previous draws. With his final draw, John selects Donjon. His body instantly disappears leaving his clothes and items to fall to the floor where he was standing.

The party is stunned by the loss of their compatriot. As Roben and Nym debate what to do Jorg quickly begins to put John’s belongings into the Bag of Holding. Realizing they’ve earned the final boon even though John has disappeared, they request he be brought back to them. The witch seems crestfallen but agrees. Suddenly, the Bag of Holding seems to puff out. John’s hand shoots out from the bag followed by his head as he crawls out of the bag stunned but unharmed. Having requested their boons, the Sparing Ones bid the party farewell. Instantaneously, the party finds themselves transported to the verdant field they stood at when they first saw the Corse Ruins. Their spells are fully restored as is their health.

As the party re-orients itself, they see in the near distance coming towards them waving Asher, who has used his monk skills to locate the party (this player was able to return to the campaign after missing out for several weeks). Even though time has barely moved for Nym, Roben, John, and Jorg, two weeks have passed  since the strange barriers were brought down over the towns of Monton and Foxon. Asher has been trying to find the group since then but has had a difficult time locating them. He explains that when Pras and the members of The Hundred went to go help the party in Monton, the barrier fell on Foxon. Asher decided to stay in Foxon to aid the locales as they fought a separate contingent of hobgoblins and gnolls. He was able to collect the treasure the party hid all over Foxon and cache it at their homebase of the Moncrief Estate. Also, he discovered on the body of a hobgoblin captain a folded, sealed parchment message:

Vel’drav lil’ guilds phu’ bal’run rid de’, lil’ che’el orn tlu sei’lor whol udossa ulu valbyl. lil’ pelor amankil inbal tlus mauhnius lueth orn naut vrine’winith udossa.

The five of them are unable to translate the language but they suspect it might be undercommon or Drow. They remember that Pras can speak undercommon. Nym uses her chroma stone to contact Pras (this player was also able to return to the adventure). She’s able to get a hold of him doing her best to relay the message which Pras then attempts to translate (I had Nym’s player read the message in undercommon and gave Pras’s player the translation in my own nearly illegible handwriting, then I just read the proper full translation for the whole table):

When the guilds are gotten rid of, the city will be set for us to bind. the Pelor clergy have been compelled and will not stop us.

The party of five now decide to head south the Corse ruins. They know that one of the ruins was where the Hag Coven lived before being driven out, this is in the southwest, and the other is or was the home to a coven with some kind of demonic faith, this is in the southeast. Their goal is to earn the boon by attempting to defeat the remaining coven in the southeast Corse ruins. It takes the party six days to travel south with some stops along the way to hunt and forage to replenish their rations. Just before they reach the Lazaran River, on the other side of which the Corse ruins are, they discover some ransacked wagons.

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I made these paper wagons from files gotten at DriveThruRPG.com

Investigating, John and Nym recognize the wagons as belonging to the merchant Edda Taisi. They find several supply bundles but it’s clear there was once much more. There are signs all around of looting and marks of bodies being dragged away. They decide to follow the tracks suspecting something nefarious has again befallen Edda. As they move through the woods, the party is discovered by Pras, who has been tracking bandits who’ve been raiding the refugees as they made their way to Bas Eldritch.

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The six adventurers continue on through the woods following the trail of the bandits until they come to the ruins of cottage. In the ruins, they discover several locked chests that were clearly stolen as well as seven uniforms of the River Guard of Bas Eldritch.

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A cottage ruin from DriveThruRPG.com with my portable chess set minis for scale

Soon the group comes to a rough pebbled shore of the Lazaran River where they see the half-orc cleric/bard Zur (taking control of this NPC was a player who just wanted to play for one night) in the midst of fighting seven human and half-elf bandit thugs.

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Some of the bandits are in River Guard dress although it is clear they are not official. There are supply boxes and barrels loaded onto and waiting to be loaded onto a boat.

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A patrol boat from DriveThruRPG.com

The party rushes to the aid of the half-orc. The battle is prolonged as the bandits are formidable, but ultimately the party prevails as two surviving bandit thugs flee. With the battle over, the party speak with the half-orc.

Zur is a fence for much of Edda Taisi’s supplies when they arrive in First Town and when he has to move product discreetly in Bas Eldritch. He knew his business partner and friend was having trouble with thieves so when he hadn’t heard from him in a while, Zur went looking for him discovering the bandit thugs looting the caravan. Investigating the boat, Jorg and John hear moans coming from what looks like a storage compartment turned brig. Jorg picks the lock discovering a severely beaten Edda tied up. Zur heals Edda so the party can find out what has happened.

In the heavy rain after a long journey and battle, the eight decide to make camp on the river bank. There are enough of them to keep watch and stay safe, and in the morning, they’ll figure out what their next move is.

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