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Welcome to Episode 29 of the Rescued by Dragons podcast, Tales of the Brunch Club: A fantasy fiction podcast inspired by a weekly, home brew, Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
My name is Brian Messmer and I invite you to picture yourself in a cozy, torch-lit tavern, ale in hand, gathered around a table with other listeners, waiting to hear the next chapter in the tales of… The Brunch Club.
But first, a quick recap…
In episode 28, The Brunch Club gave Solania papers that proved Lady Tiroll was the assassin Varjho, just as Ahura Mazda claimed. She told them she had a job for them that would help them gain favor with the Council of Five, but would reveal the job the next day. Finally able to leave Lady Tirol’s villa, they found their coachman passed out drunk in the carriage. Salys eagerly volunteered to drive, but lost control of the horses and damaged some property on the way back to the Inn. They were fined heavily for the damage, but avoided a night in jail. Solania visited Vorjhon in the bathroom revealing it was her that sent him the secret note. She told him that they should meet her representative at the ruins of the Temple of the Raven Queen in Elnor at midnight, and that they would be granted a special license to use divine magic during their errand. The group visited Captain Grath who decided to take the afternoon off and spend it with Elora while the rest of the party went back to the Inn to rest before the night ahead.
Episode 29, “Corridors of Death”
Vorjhon slept for a while. He woke up early in the evening when he heard footsteps walking past his room and a door open down the hall. He assumed it was Elora returning from her afternoon in the Port District. He was happy for her that she was able to spend some time with Captain Grath. In their line of work, one should take advantage of happy moments whenever they can.
A clock tower in the distance told him there was still a few hours before they needed to leave for the Temple of the Raven Queen. He laid his armor and shield neatly on the floor. He sat quietly on his bed and began methodically inspecting each joint and seam of his armor, repairing it where he could, then polishing it to gleaming perfection. He did the same with his shield, popping out the more flexible dents and reinforcing the straps where they frayed. The last item that needed his attention was Eclipse. The two-headed flail had no visible damage. Not even a knick or a scratch, which he found remarkable. “I must be on the right path to have Bahamut bless me with such a weapon,” the paladin thought to himself. He painstakingly cleaned dried blood from the crevasses of the etched sun and moon orbs that topped the mace. Eclipse shone brightly after it too was lovingly polished. The paladin began putting on his armor when the eleven chimes of the clock tower told him it was time to get ready.
“Vorjhon, are you ready yet?” Drusilla said in a typically annoyed tone as she banged on his door. She opened it to find the dragonborn on one knee, head down, moving his mouth as if he was speaking, but no sounds came out.
“Oh, sorry,” Drusilla said when she realized he was praying again, as was his ritual every evening.
“Not to worry,” Vorjhon said standing up and smiling at her. “I was just finishing. Are the other’s ready? He asked.
“Yes, they’re waiting for us.” the cleric said. When she turned around to walk out the door, Vorjhon noticed the long cloak of pristine white fur that hung from her shoulders down to the backs of her knees.
“Are you wearing the winter wolf cloak?” Vorjhon asked, appreciatively. “It is beautiful!”
“Yes. Elora picked them up on her way back from Grath’s,” she told him. “I’m still waiting for the right pair of boots to go with them, though.” A playful smile flitted across her features as she teased the paladin. Vorjhon couldn’t help but grin at the old joke as they joined the others.
The Brunch Club found themselves walking briskly and running late. They thought they had given themselves plenty of time to meet Solania’s representative at the ruined Temple of the Raven Queen, but were told that no carriage service wanted to pick them up.
“Nice going Salys,” Diesa grumbled as they walked quickly through the streets of Elnor.
Even though it was winter, they were already sweating under the thick fur of their new cloaks.
“Hey, I didn’t hear any of you guys offer to drive,” Salys said. “And it was going really well until it suddenly wasn’t.”
Even though they were in a hurry, they couldn’t keep themselves from slowing down when they approached the remains of the old Temple District. The finely hewn stone and well crafted facades of the mage-controlled portion of the city gave way to piles of rubble and crumbling shells of once-great cathedrals. Broken steeples, that at one time stood high in the air, now lay crumbling on piles of their own shattered stone. Not even the dead were spared the indignity of neglect. The graveyards were full of broken markers and buried under the collapsed walls of the churches that once stood by their sides.
They were relieved to see a lone figure seated on a large granite block just before Elnor’s clocks struck midnight. When they got close, they could see a raven carved in bas-relief in the figure’s seat. It was upside down, as if it had fallen out of the sky.
“Are you waiting for us?” Drusilla asked.
The woman said nothing and looked at each of them. She was dressed in a black cloak with the hood pulled up. She pulled the hood down to reveal her face. She had chestnut hair, matching eyes, and the facial features of a half elf. “Come, the sooner you get started, the better.” She immediately turned towards the crumbling temple behind her.
She led them past some piles of rubble to a set of wooden doors set into the ground. A heavy timber beam lay across it. The beam was nested in ‘L’ shaped brackets keeping the door from opening from the inside. Vorjhon took a step forward to remove the beam. Before he could touch it, the half elf waved her hand. The beam moved on its own. It rose up just enough to glide out of the brackets and onto the ground without making a noise.
The representative waved her hand again and the doors opened quietly. They could see the doors were solid oak and very thick. The underside of the door was covered in carved runic symbols. The open doors revealed a staircase which led down to a large antechamber. Old carvings were crumbling along the columns, they looked do be flocks of birds flying towards the sky, but many of them had cracked, faded, or fallen.
“Follow me,” the half-elf said.
When they gathered in the room, she told them their mission.
“A few weeks ago an undead corpse was found wandering in the Granite District. It was quickly dealt with and traced back to here. A few more appeared, then more and more. We sealed them in but The Council wants to know what’s causing it. Your job is to search the tombs and find out what’s raising them, destroy it if you can, and kill as many undead along the way as possible.”
“Solania said Drusilla and I would be allowed to use our divine magic, is that true?” Vorjhon asked.
The representative nodded and handed him and Drusilla each a small rolled parchment. “Keep these on you while you are in Elnor. They grant you permission to use your holy powers while on Council business,” she told them. She then quietly added “May the gods be with you,” as she turned from them and ascended the stairs.
They watched the doors close above them and heard the heavy timber settle into place.
“Um, how do we get out?” Elora wondered as they stood in the darkness.
Three floating orbs conjured by Drusilla guided them down a long flight of stairs that was interrupted by a landing every ten feet or so. The landings led to no rooms or hallways, just more stairs downward. The fifth landing finally ended in a twenty foot hallway which had an open doorway into a room at the end.
Vorjhon whispered for them to stop when they had all reached the bottom of the stairs. He concentrated on his surroundings and opened his mind. His heightened awareness of the fiendish and undead forces told him what lay in the room ahead.
“Seven undead, two ghouls,” he whispered.
“Don’t let the ghouls claw or bite you,” Drusilla warned.
“We should lure them out,” said Elora, removing her phoenix arrow from her quiver.
“Wait,” Vorjhon said, then turned to Diessa. “Hold out your axe please,” he told her.
Diesa held her battle axe in front of Vorjhon. He removed a small glass vial wrapped up in a rag. He emptied the vial, pouring a clear, viscous liquid on both sides of each blade. He rubbed the oil in with the rag.
“Holy oil. It hurts undead,” he explained.
Drusilla sent one of her dancing lights through the door, bobbed it up and down, and slowly drew it back to her.
“It’s like fishing for corpses,” said Salys.
“Kill the Ghouls first if you can,” said Vorjhon.
“How will we know which one’s a ghoul and not just a zombie?” Diesa asked gruffly.
Just then a rotting humanoid stumbled out of the chamber, into the hall. It swatted at the orb of light with long claws, like a corpse’s overgrown fingernails. A tongue with chunks of it missing lolled from its slack jaw, unnaturally long and swaying with its movements. The ghoul paused and turned its attention to the group as it’s stench wafted around it.
“Oh I see.” Diesa said, gripping her battleaxe tighter and willing the stench out of her nostrils. The whole party could already feel their stomachs churning.
“Ignis,” Elora said, commanding the tip of her arrow to burst into flame. The arrow sailed down the hallway and set the ghoul’s tattered clothing on fire on its way through the creature’s cold dead heart.
Salys finished it off with three magic missiles to the chest.
“Conserve your magic missiles, Salys. We don’t know how many of these we’ll have to face tonight, or what kind of creature is creating them,” Vorjhon suggested.
“Yeah, yeah dragonbreath. Don’t worry about me,” Salys laughed as she set another undead aflame with a fire bolt.
Drusilla called forth a sacred flame to engulf another undead that shambled through the doorway. As more creatures entered the hallway, they were met with fire and arrows. When the second ghoul fell, Vorjhon approached the doorway. He stayed along the hallway wall, giving plenty of room for arrows to zip by. He engaged the last of the undead, crushing its rotting skull easily under the weight of Eclipse.
Elora retrieved a couple of her arrows and Diesa began inspecting the pockets of the mouldering, tattered clothing.
“What are you doing?” Drusilla asked, with disgust in her voice.
“Looking for loot, duh, what else would I be doing?” Diesa said as she moved from corpse to corpse.
“What kind of loot do you expect to find on corpses from a tomb?” asked Vorjhon.
“I mean, it’s not like they’re going to be using their loot in a tomb either.” Salys chimed in, But Diesa found no loot.
Vorjhon led the way into the next room, it was empty. It appeared to be a repository of cremated ashes as urns set in recesses lined the walls. On the opposite wall was the only other door. It led into another hallway which again, seemed to open up into a room twenty feet away.
Vorjhon reached out with his divine sense once again. “Seven more undead, and another ghoul,” he told them.
“See if you can lure them out,” Salys said.
Vorjhon walked halfway down the hall and stopped. He said a prayer, and as he raised Eclipse, it glowed brightly and filled the hall with bright divine light. The light drew two of the undead into the hallway. Vorjhon struck the first down with Eclipse. Elora and Drusilla killed the second with a couple phoenix arrow shots and sacred flame.
Four more undead and the ghoul entered the hallway.
“Step aside, Vorjhon!” Salys shouted as she extended her hands.
Vorjhon backed up against the wall as a bolt of lightning crackled past him. It struck the ghoul and passed through him to the next four undead. The undead dropped to the ground. Their smoking corpses sparked with residual electricity. The ghoul moved toward Vorjhon, but was struck down from behind by Diesa’s battle axe. It collapsed into a pile of motionless decaying flesh.
“Ohh! This holy oil works nice!” Diesa enthused as she turned to face another undead emerging from the doorway.
The remaining undead were cut down quickly. Diesa once again searched their pockets in vain and The Brunch Club moved forward into the next room.
The next hallway ended in another long staircase downwards. They descended the steps which turned into another long hallway that snaked around a corner about sixty feet away. Salys summoned Pip and asked him to scout around the corner.
The surly owl begrudgingly obeyed and flew down the hall.
When he returned he told them the hallway around the corner was wider and also about sixty feet long. It ended at a wall with a small doorway in the center that led into a large room.
The room contained more undead corpses, animated skeletons, and some angry looking spirits.
“Does he know how many?” Vorjhon asked after Salys relayed Pip’s information.
“The room was full of zombies and ghosts. I wasn’t sticking around to do a head count, you shiny asshole,” answered Pip, though only Salys could hear him.
“He said he didn’t want to risk it,”
Drusilla kept two of her dancing lights behind them using only one to guide them down the hallway so the light would be less noticeable around the corner.
When they reached the end of the hall they decided to creep forward in the blackness, leading Vorjhon along with them as he was the only member of the group without dark vision.
When they got within thirty feet of the door they stopped to make a plan. “I can set a trap in front of the door,” Diesa offered.
“There’s enough room on either side of the door for Vorjhon and I to ambush whoever comes out,” Drusilla said.
“You guys are fucking loud, let me set the trap first,” said Diesa as she moved quietly down the hallway.
The party members with dark vision could see only her silhouette as she crouched down, removed some items from her bag, and prepared her trap.
“Ready,” Diesa said when she returned to the group. “Don’t fuck it up,” she added to Vorjhon and Drusilla as they began moving into position as quietly as their armor would allow.
Fortunately these undead were not the most observant creatures, and the paladin and cleric were able to take their positions on either side of the doorway.
“We need to draw them out,” Elora said.
Salys took a torch from her pack and lit it. “Wow, it’s so dark and lonely down here,” she exclaimed loudly. “It’s really scary for a little gnome like me, all alone, helpless, tasty.”
Two of the undead corpses shuffled out of the doorway. A skeleton followed, quickly catching up to them. They passed through the door never noticing Vojhon and Drusilla on either side of it.
When they reached the site of Diesa’s trap, the first two undead stepped on the ball bearings spread out along the floor and fell into seating positions. The skeleton tried to go around but he slipped on the oil the rogue had also poured on the floor.
“Now!” shouted Diesa.
Elora ignited her phoenix arrow and shot it into the oil-soaked floor.. The floor burst into flames and quickly engulfed the three undead creatures. They wailed as they desperately tried to stand and run, but could not stop themselves from repeatedly falling down into the ball bearings and burning oil.
Vorjhon said a prayer and Eclipse glowed with divine light. Drusilla said a prayer of her own. A spectral raven appeared at her side.
As soon as another skeleton stepped through the door, the cleric’s raven attacked it. Vorjhon whispered a quick prayer and hit the undead fiend from the other side. The decaying ribs cracked under the paladin’s blow, and the explosive energy of his divine smite felled the skeleton on impact. The next zombie to come through the door tripped and fell over the scattered bones, making it an easy target for Drusilla and Vorjhon.
The growing pile of bodies made it difficult for the uncoordinated undead to get into the hallway quickly. This made it easy for the party to pick them off one by one.
The battle seemed to be drawing to a close when three ghostly figures streamed through the door. They floated quickly around the pile of corpses and bones. Diesa shot one with her shortbow, but the arrow appeared to slip through it without doing noticeable damage.
“You need to use magic against them!” Vorjhon shouted down the hallway to his companions. One of the spirits heard the shout and turned to attack him. Fortunately Eclipse was a magical weapon and the damage it inflicted caused the ghost to scream in agony.
Diesa slung her bow over her shoulder and withdrew her axe. She charged the second ghostly form and swung at it. The spectral skin hissed from the holy oil on her blade as she cut into it.
Elora ignited her phoenix arrow and let it fly at the other specter that was charging them. The phoenix arrow once again sailed through it, but the magical flame left a scorched hole all the way through the ghostly body. Drusilla’s sacred flame finished it off.
Vorjhon cut down his spectre with a second blow from Eclipse, while Salys used a barrage of magic missiles to finish off the one Diesa had wounded.
“Did you really need to waste a powerful spell on the last ghost?” Vorjhon said to the sorceress, passively aggressively reminding her they should conserve their spell energy.
“Nope! I did not.” said Salys. “But it felt great!”
Diesa retrieved her arrows and inspected the moldy clothing for valuables. Once again there was nothing.
“Does anyone need to rest?” Drusilla asked.
“Diesa’s holy oil lasts only an hour. We should press on,” said Vorjhon.
The rest of the party agreed and they stepped forward into what they hoped was an empty room.
Our tale will continue next week in Episode 30
Episode 29 was written by Dominic White 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:
- Bethany Powers, who plays Diessa
- JP Black, who plays Drusilla
- Liz Raychard, who plays Elora
- Anna Flemke, who plays Salys
- Dominic White, who plays Vorjhon
- And Brian Messmer, who plays everyone else
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!