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Welcome to Episode 34 of the Rescued by Dragons fantasy podcast, Tales of the Brunch Club:
My name is Brian Messmer and I am not only your story teller, but the dungeon master behind the homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign this story is based on. Please join me as I tell the tale of how my players, and the dice, ruined and improved my perfectly laid plans.
But first, a quick recap…
In episode 33, The Brunch Club finally agreed to let Jory join their group. Diesa disguised him as an elderly halfling to help hide him from the pirates. Solania appeared in their room and gave them a new mission: Find a wise and powerful hermit named Kalavar and convince him to return with them to help restore political balance to Elnor. Solania had a ship waiting for them to take them to the island home of the mysterious Kalaver. The ship was commanded by Captain Butler, who Elora recognized as the bartender who slipped Vorjhon the note about restoring divine magic to Elnor while they were at Lady Tiroll’s party. The journey started pleasantly, with Jory taking over the galley to make everyone waffles and pumpkin spiced coffee. The smooth sailing was interrupted by a pair of Water Elementals that attacked the ship, killing one of the crew members before The Brunch Club, with the aid of Captain Butler, finished them off.
Episode 34, “Saved By The Bung Hole”
The brunch club stood, shaken, on the deck of The Damsel. They were tense; the encounter with the Water Elementals was unwavering proof that open waters were rife with peril. Drusila, in particular, looked pale and shaken by her unwelcome brush with death.
Her hand lay on her chest where the elemental had struck her, swiftly knocking her unconscious during battle. The color was slowly returning to her cheeks, but she was weary.
Before anyone could speak. Captain Butler emerged from his cabin, now dry and donning a modest white blouse. Both Diesa and Elora sighed, lamenting the fact that he no longer appeared salty, wet, and shirtless.
“Any of you spellcasters able to patch me up?” Captain Butler grunted, eyeing his weary passengers. Drusilla nodded, and with a wave of her hand reduced Captain Butler’s fresh wounds to faded scars.
“Thank you, by the way,” Drusila said, “we’d have had a hard time beating those things without the help of you and your crew”.
Captain Butler nodded, looking out to sea. “Like I’d let a few armed puddles destroy my ship. They won’t be coming back if they know what’s good for ‘em.”
Drusila nodded, and set to healing herself from the battle. Shortly, she seemed to regain her composure, looking enlivened and rejuvenated.
After several hours of uneventful travel, Salys noted the appearance of a small speck of land on the horizon, squinting her bright green eyes as she gazed into the distance. The island was small, with jagged rocks on the shore and what appeared to be a small mountain emerging from the center. It was lush with trees and plant life, slowly taking shape as the ship drew closer.
“About time,” Diesa said as she pushed herself up from a seated position, groaning. Looking overboard briefly, she scowled, “I’ve never much liked the ocean.”
“I think it’s kind of neat!” Exclaimed Jory, popping up next to Diesa. He took a deep swig from his bota bag. “I mean, yeah, it totally reminds me of that time I was captured by sailors and kept prisoner and abused and beaten by pirates and I really wasn’t sure if I’d ever be free again… but other than that, I find it really peaceful and calming!”
Jory beamed at the open sea, taking in a deep breath of the crisp salt air. The group looked at him and then exchanged glances with one another, stupefied by his unwavering positivity.
Oblivious to his companions, Jory surveyed the horizon, his eyes locking on a speck soaring through the air. “And the nature, I mean – look at that bird! From all the way over here? That thing must be ENORMOUS. Really, these ecosymptoms are just fascinating!” He hiccuped.
“I think you mean ecosystems?” Elora sighed, looking in the direction of the flying creature.
She paused, her stomach knotting. “Um, guys…” Elora trailed off, her eyes fixated. “I… don’t think that thing is a bird.” The speck slowly grew larger and larger as the ship continued its course.
“Of course it’s a bird,” Diesa retorted. One of the crew members looked on beside her, nodding in agreement.
“It’s… I mean, I think that’s a Wyvern.” Elora stated slowly, evaluating the long barbed tail and two hind legs.
“Ah, for fuck’s sake,” Captain Butler exclaimed as he joined the group. “You five are just magnets for disaster, aren’t ye? That’s a Wyvern alright.”
Still exhausted from their encounter with the Water Elementals, the group debated the best course of action. Jory suggested the ship turn away, giving them a chance to rest before returning under the cover of nightfall. Torn, they turned to Captain Butler for his thoughts.
“As much as I dislike the idea of fighting a Wyvern today… I dislike the idea of encountering one tonight much more.”
His point was taken. Should the Wyvern attack at night, the crew would be at a serious disadvantage. Finally reaching a consensus, the Brunch Club conceded to the fact that an immediate encounter may be their only option, despite still being exhausted from battle.
Drusila, Diesa, and Jory swiftly took position on the deck of the ship, each brandishing crossbows. Captain Butler and his crew manned the cannons. As the Brunch club debated who should strike first against the rapidly approaching beast, they were interrupted by a sudden cry of “FIRE!”
Two cannons boomed from inside the ship, causing it to rock and throw the group off balance. One of the well-aimed cannon balls hit the Wyvern square on its scaled chest. It let loose a high-pitched shriek. It faltered, dropped several feet, then regained its composure. With a renewed, angry vigor, it pushed through the air toward The Damsel.
Another cannonball hissed through the air, striking the Wyvern a second time. Recovering, the Wyvern ascended higher, now a mere fifty meters from the ship. Drusilla, Diesa and Jory steeled themselves with their crossbows. They held their aim steady, save for Jory, as they waited for the beast to descend upon the ship.
Suddenly, a scream escaped from the Wyvern. Its piercing howl cut through the air as it lost control of its movement, and plummeted from the sky. It collided with the ocean and skipped across its surface. The water quickly closed in around its lifeless corpse, enveloping it in a watery grave.
Satisfied, Elora grinned to herself as she placed her phoenix arrow back into its quiver.
“NICE SHOT ELORA!” Jory cheered, tossing his bow to the side. “WE DID IT!”
The ranger smiled coyly, looking toward her companions. “It was alright, I guess. At least The Damsel is no longer in distress.” Her joke was met only with groans.
Elora glided back toward the group, tucking her bow and arrow away and allowing herself to smile with relief Though she hadn’t admitted it, she had feared this battle could have been the last for her and her companions. “Brunch, anyone?”
Under the guidance of Captain Butler, the Damsel eventually anchored offshore. The Brunch Club divided into two rowboats. Drusilla agreed to row the statue for Kalavar to shore in one, and the remaining members of the Brunch Club piled into the other.
Jory stood in the stern of the rowboat, slurring instructions to the group. “Stroke! Stroke!” He shouted, teetering as the small skiff navigated the crashing waves.
The shoreline grew clearer as they made headway toward the island. Panting, they continued to drive their oars into the water, pushing steadily along. The party was about sixty feet from the shoreline when they heard the familiar sound of screeching from above pierce through the wind.
Eight winged, humanoid figures emerged from the mist, descending toward the rowboats. “STRO- oh my God!” Jory exclaimed, the first to locate the source of the screeching. “H-harpies!” He shouted over the noise.
“We’ll skin you alive,” They could hear the Harpies screeching, coupled with laughter more chilling than the cold winter mist. The harpies continued to taunt the group, and a particularly hideous Harpie could be heard shouting “You’ll make a fine feast!”
The Harpies began to swirl above the Brunch club like vultures preparing to descend upon rotting corpses. Suddenly, their stream of insults stopped, and was replaced by an enchanting song.
One-by-one, the party members were lulled into submission, until Diesa was the only alert member of the party.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Diesa screamed. Her comrades sat around her. They were dazed and did nothing, bedsides rock slowly back and forth to the Harpies’ song, each oblivious to their surroundings. “You’re just… sitting there?! This is pathetic!” The dwarf huffed in frustration.
“Elora… shoot them!” Diesa continued, pointing aggressively toward one of the nearby Harpies. Instead of reacting to the plea, Elora just sat there, staring glassy-eyed at the Harpy who charmed her.
The winged predators quickly descended upon the group, launching a series of attacks against Diesa and Drusilla. Diesa screamed, and Drusilla jolted as if waking suddenly from a deep sleep.
Now alert, Drusilla unsheathed her Long Sword, and swung it aimlessly through the air in an unsuccessful attempt to dissuade her attackers. Meanwhile, Diesa attempted to waken her companions by brute force.
“WAKE. UP.” She shouted, swinging at Jory. Despite his charmed state, he nimbly avoided her series of desperate punches. Exasperated, she instead turned to Salys, striking her across the face.
Hardly reacting, Salys continued to gaze out to sea.
Moments felt like a lifetime to Drusilla and Diesa, who were panting heavily, drenched in the cold mist. The group of Harpies continued their overwhelming attack against them. They clawed at the dwarf and the elf as they attempted to ward off their attacks.
One of the Harpies swept down upon Drusilla, striking her across the chest. She fell, her vision going black. With just a statue beside her, the cleric began to bleed out into the rowboat. Diesa was the last member of the party standing. She grunted in frustration as the Harpies descended around her. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of opponents, it wasn’t long before Diesa also fell unconscious from the Harpies’ attacks.
Death is a funny thing.
As they died, the charmed members of the party felt only vaguely aware of the claws pressing into their flesh. They were oddly relaxed as the Harpy claws dug into their skin.
One by one, each member of the Brunch Club, as the old adage goes, saw their lives flash before their eyes.
Fading slowly, Diesa recalled images of being a small girl in the Cliffgate Mountains. Her father, the Chieftain, scolded her for once again stealing from the kitchens. She recalled Adrick Craghold, a member of the rival clan, and how her hand felt in his. She recollected the shame she felt being banished from her clan. In her final moments, Diesa wished for redemption.
As Jory’s skin was slowly picked apart, he couldn’t help but wonder if his parents would be distraught over never hearing from their son again. His final thoughts wandered toward his heroes, the Brunch Club and his long lost friend Coyra, who had taken him under her protection when he was kidnapped.
As Elora’s thoughts faded into darkness, she lamented the fact that she was about to die without the knowledge of who she really is. Lost memories flickered briefly through her consciousness, portraying the Obsidian watch, vampires, and the Feywild as she spiraled into darkness.
Drusilla’s memories portrayed a more simple time. She was brought back to a beautiful city with golden spires, surrounded by a lush jungle paradise. She could see her friends and family surrounding her, and the air was filled with laughter and song.
Salys envisioned herself cozy at home with a book, aware that her father was out there somewhere, soon to return home. In the distance, she could hear gnome children giggling throughout the forest. The ease of the afternoon brought a smile to her face, and she felt safe and at home.
For each member of The Brunch Club, everything soon faded to black.
Suddenly, Salys awoke. There was no light around her.. Her eyes widened with terror when they adjusted to the darkness.
A creature stared back at her. Its enormous eyes were larger than her body. She could hear the steady, deep breaths of the creature over the sounds of nearby water breaking against stone. With each exhale, a warm breeze seemed to creep over the gnome’s skin and bright red hair. In the gloom she couldn’t make out the edges of the beast, but she knew it was big. Really big.
“Do you make a habit of dying on peoples’ doorsteps?” The creature asked.
Salys blinked, unsure if she was dreaming. “Where am I… w-what are you?” Salys asked.
“I’m a dragon. A very old, very annoyed dragon.” Its low voice rumbled throughout what appeared to be a dank, uninviting cave. It sounded inconvenienced. “Some Harpies seem to have taken a liking to your group. They seemed hungry for gnome meat… hmm, well, three days ago now.”
“We’ve been here for three days?! M-my friends!” Salys exclaimed, panicking.
“Your friends are fine,” the dragon assured her, gesturing behind Salys. She turned. Her eyes were still adjusting to the darkness of the cave, but she could vaguely make out the shapes of her comrades laying upon the cavern floor. Turning back to the dragon, a realization struck her.
“Wait, are you.. Kalavar?” She asked.
“Yes.” The dragon responded, without the intent to elaborate.
“Wait… wh-what? You’re… a dragon?!” Not once had she, or the other members of the Brunch Club, considered the possibility that the object of their quest would be anything other than an old hermit living on a rock.
“Clearly your recent mishap is clouding your cognitive abilities. Yes, as I explained, I am a dragon.” Kalavar responded.
“Do you… want to hang out? Talk? Oh wow. This is just, this is a lot to take in mister Kalavar.” Salys stammered, terrified and excited.
He ignored her invitation. “Tell me, gnome… why are you here?”
“We came here on behalf of your friend, Solania. She… wants you to lead the five and take charge of Elnor.” Salys said. She gestured toward the moonstone statue laying haphazardly to one side of the cave, explaining that it came from Solania as a symbol of change and good will.
The dragon sighed, taking the statue into its long claws and relocating it among a massive pile of gold and jewels. He seemed to admire the statue, and placed it prominently amongst his collection.
After a pause, Salys gathered up the courage to ask, “So, my friends… are they going to make it?”
Kalavar nodded slowly, and Salys turned to her companions, who lay scattered across the floor of the cave. To her surprise, Captain Butler lay amongst them, his chest slowly rising and falling.
“You should get some more rest,” Kalavar encouraged, eyeing the brave gnome. Salys nodded, realizing how exhausted she truly was. She lay back down, resting her head on her tiny arms, and drifted back to sleep.
“What the… guys?!” Jory exclaimed the next morning, jolting up from his sleep.
“You are so shrill! Can you just shut up a minute? My head is killing me.” Diesa exclaimed, covering her ears as she lay in the fetal position.
“Is this the afterlife?” Drusilla moaned, as one by one, each member of the Brunch Club awoke from their sleep.
“Guys, I don’t know when he’s going to be back so I’m just going to say it,” Salys blurted. “Kalavar is a friggen dragon! I woke up, we talked, it was weird. I think we all died, but he saved us.”
The group stared at Salys, each processing the fact that they had perished.
Captain Butler shook his head. “I saw you muscle heads getting your asses handed to you… you were definitely dead, or close to it.”
The group agreed that, while waking from certain death in a cave with a dragon may be horrifying, there had been ample opportunity for them to become dinner in the prior three days. At the very least, it seemed, Kalavar would not harm them.
“Look. guys, we can talk about this more later, but I told Kalavar about our quest. He didn’t sound entirely convinced about his return to Elnor.”
The Brunch Club processed their unfamiliar surroundings, examining the dank cave and the massive pile of treasure that lined the wall. Kalavar soon returned, landing with a loud thud onto the floor of the cave.
Jory stood upright, and in a panic he recited, “SOLANIA HAS EVERYTHING ON HER END COMPLETE. THE LAWFULNESS OF ELNOR HAS BEEN CRUMBLING. SHE HUMBLY ASKS YOUR ASSISTANCE IN SETTING EVERYTHING RIGHT.”
With his statement out of the way, Jory suddenly fainted, a small thud reverberating through the cave as he hit the solid rock floor beneath him.
It took time for Jory to recover, and after waking he continuously shifted his gaze toward the dragon and away again. Kalavar presented Jory with fish eggs and seaweed, suggesting that he distract himself by providing nourishment for his friends.
At dinner, Kalavar presented a wooden barrel to the Brunch Club, explaining that he has no use for drink. The party examined the barrel, debating the best way to reveal its contents. Eventually, they resolved to open the bung hole and give the contents a sniff. To their delight, they identified it as fine, well-aged whiskey.
Drusilla portioned the whiskey into small shells they gathered from the floor of the cave. Once each member of the party had a drink in their hands, she raised hers. “To our lives,” she stated, tossing the liquid back.
“To our lives,” the group responded.
As the group sipped their whiskey, Kalavar inquired of their plans.
“Well, we’re hoping to bring you back to Elnor,” Salys responded, eyeing the dragon.
Kalavar sighed, shifting. “I think I would like to return to my slumber.”
“Oh, hell no.” Diesa responded, grounding herself. “There is no way we came this far just to wake you up and lull you back to sleep. I’ll be damned if we came all this way for nothing!” Her words rang sharply across the cave. Drusilla gently rested a hand on her friend’s shoulder, to calm her before speaking up herself. Her voice trembled at first, but Drusilla slowly gained confidence as she addressed the ancient dragon.
“We lost our friend, a dragonborn, who would have gladly died a second time to see peace restored to Elnor. We accepted this quest in his honor, and we urge you to reconsider. People are being subjugated and unjustly punished. You have the power to shape the way of life in Elnor and to guide it back to something to be proud of. Please, we urge you to reconsider and to see the opportunity for good that lies ahead of you.”
Kalavar gazed at Drusilla, silent. She continued. “If you have the opportunity to make this messed up world a better place, and you pass that up then…” she faltered briefly as she remembered she was more or less scolding an ancient dragon. “Then you aren’t the leader Solania would have us to believe.”
The dragon sighed. “Elnor has the potential to thrive under just rule, but it is festering under corruption. Perhaps I should just burn it to the ground and start anew?” Kalavar mused.
Salys looked at the dragon. “But not everyone is corrupt. We need to believe there’s a better path for the city… without burning it to the ground. Solania believes you can hold The Five accountable and bring justice to Elnor.”
“You make a convincing point,” the dragon responded, surveying the group. “I do appreciate that you all gave your lives, to deliver this message.”
“Well, that wasn’t exactly plan A,” Jory muttered into his shell after refilling it with whisky.
Kalavar breathed steadily. He seemed to be weighing his options. “If Elnor is as you say it is, and Solania is ready… I will do my best to make right of it.” He turned to face Elora. “You’ve been… quiet. Do you have anything to add?”
Elora stared at the dragon, unphased by his enormity. “No,” she stated, “I think that just about covers it.”
Salys paused, “Well… wait.”
Everyone turned to face her. “Look, um.. Elora has been having some issues with her memory. Like, she lost it. She has just about no idea who she is or where she came from. You seem powerful, so, do you know anything about memory restoration?
The dragon paused. “I haven’t much experience in the art of restoring memory, but I might be able to point you in the direction of those who can assist you.”
“Do continue…” Elora implored.
“There is a shaman named Ander Stormwinds in Northern Halstein that may be able to help you with your memory loss. To the west of Drazan, there is also Amica LeCroix, and to the south, Diero Astorio. They are all powerful in their own right, and while I make no guarantees… they may be able to restore you.”
Elora sat silent for a moment. Fear and excitement filled her, although outwardly she remained stoic. The prospect of discovering her identity both thrilled and terrified her.
The silence in the cave was thick as the party reflected on this new information, but after a few moments, Diesa could no longer help herself.
“You seem like you enjoy the finer things in life,” she stated, gesturing at the hoarded gold and treasure surrounding the party. “We’ve heard of the lost treasure of Bonlhodir… do you know if there is any merit to the legend of his treasures?”
The dragon eyed Diesa, “I knew him,” he responded. “A very stubborn dwarf, though he was a very successful merchant and weaponsmith of his time. If material wealth is what you seek… it isn’t a bad place to start.”
“It’s a means to an end,” Diesa responded.
The group continued to probe the dragon for more information regarding their histories and travels, but it seemed they had exhausted his wealth of relevant knowledge. Finally, Drusilla asked the one question the entire party had feared bringing up.
“Look, I don’t know if this is offensive, but… if you’re heading back to Elnor, can we hitch a ride?”
For the first time, the dragon seemed to laugh. “I was going to suggest it.”
“AWESOME!” Jory exclaimed, thrusting his fist into the air.
“And,” Kalavar continued, “I’d like to offer you a favor. You risked everything to deliver this message, and a favor from a dragon is one of the most valuable gifts that can be received. All I ask is that you use it wisely, and at the right time.”
Come dawn the next day, Kalavar’s voice reverberated throughout the cave. “Wake up, it’s morning.” he boomed, abruptly startling the party out of their slumber.
“I have one last gift for you,” he said. “For helping me realize where I am needed.” The dragon pointed one massive claw toward a set of fine, enchanted leather armor that had been separated from the pile of treasure.
The party unanimously agreed that Diesa should don the armour.
Kalavar told the party it was time to leave. They tentatively climbed on top of the bronze dragon’s enormous back. His massive wings propelled them rapidly higher and higher. As they ascended into the air, they saw the remains of harpies scattered across the beach.
Within the hour, Elnor emerged before them. With power and grace, Kalavar landed atop the city’s famed library. His massive talons wrapped around the crystal spire and dug into its translucent stone surface.
The impact of the mighty bronze dragon’s landing echoed off buildings throughout the Crystal District. The echoes were followed by a deafening roar. The air around the party crackled with electricity as Kalavar unleashed an arc of lightning into the early morning sky, announcing his arrival to all of Elnor.
Our tale will continue in Episode 35
Episode 34 was written by Bethany Powers and myself, Brian Messmer. The story is based upon my own homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
Valuable contributions to the story were added by the role playing of:
More information about Rescued by Dragons and ways to support this podcast can be found at RescuedByDragons.com. You can follow us on instagram at RescuedbyDragons and on Twitter @rescuedragons.
Thank you very much for listening Please join us next week to find out, along with the rest of us, what‘s going to happen next!