Tales of the Brunch Club 003 “The Potion Thieves”

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Welcome to Episode 3 of the Rescued by Dragons podcast: The ongoing tale of a weekly Dungeons and Dragons campaign played in Portland, Maine.

My name is Dominic White and I invite you to picture yourself in a cozy, torch-lit tavern, ale in hand, huddled around a table with other listeners, waiting to hear the next chapter in the tale of… The Brunch Club.

But first, a quick recap of our previous episode…

In episode 2, after killing the bandits and skinning the giant crocodile, the Brunch Club camped for the night with their new friend Vorjhon, a silver scaled Dragonborn Paladin, who then told them his story. He had left his religious military company to go help a farmer named Jameson who was being harassed by goblins. When he returned to his captain, he was kicked out and told he would be branded a heretic for failing to obey the commands of those who spoke for the Silver Flame. He told Drusila, Elora and Salys that he was on his way back to the farmer’s and invited them to join him in case the goblins came back with assurances Jameson would surely pay them for any help. The goblins did indeed come back and the brunch club and their new ally were successful in killing them. Believing the threat over they arrived in Wyhill to learn about the best way to travel to Elnor. They decided to stay in town and research their options so Vorjhon insisted they go back to check on Farmer Jameson the next day, just to be sure they really did get all the goblins. When they arrived, they found his body crucified like a scarecrow in one of his fields. They agreed they should report the murder to Wyhill’s Captain of the guard, but not before helping themselves to some of Jameson’s gold. They collected Jameson’s cow, Bessie, and brought her back to town with them hoping to find her a good home.

And now…

Chapter 3: “The Potion Thieves”

Drusila the lunar elf, Elora the wood elf, Salys the forest gnome, Vorjhon the dragonborn, and Bessie the cow, walked into Wyhill. They asked the guard stationed at the city gates who the captain of the town guard was and where they might find them. The guard, thinking that this odd group should very well be brought to his superior’s attention, told them exactly where to find Captain Boyan. Not wanting to bring a cow to the Captain of the Town Guard, they first went to the tavern. There they asked the innkeeper if she could use a milk cow or knew of a local farmer that could take Bessie.

The innkeeper said she might be able to use Bessie and if she couldn’t she would find a farm that could. Drusilla said goodbye to Bessie and assured her that she was safe now. They then sought out Master Buckthonre to ask how much it would cost to have one of his merchant ships take them to Elnor. He did not trade in Elnor, so his ships did not go there. He also commented, “It’s strange that a Paladin and Cleric would want to go to Elnor. It’s run by powerful Wizards who have outlawed the use of Divine Magic.”

Upon hearing this news, Vorjhon and Drusilla decided they would still continue to accompany their companions to the Crystal Spire library. Their next stop was the harbor to meet the fisherman, Long John, and see if his boat was really as questionable as the innkeeper implied.

The Sea Hag, “Named after my late wife,” Long John told them, was a very old fishing vessel. It looked like its hull was made more out of patches than the original planking and it bobbed unsteadily, even in the calm water of the harbor.

When asked how long the journey to Elnor would take via Sea Hag, Long John replied, “‘Bout a week, as long as I don’t have to run her aground for repairs since there’s no harbors between here and there. Then it could take two or three.”

Later that night, the brunch club agreed the Sea Hag did not seem like it could make the journey without being delayed for repairs. They decided they would go spend another day in Wyhill to have brunch, get provisions, and decide if they would cut through the bog or not.

Before dawn the next morning, they were awakened by a ringing bell and the frantic shouts of people in the distance. Looking outside they saw one of Master Buckthorne’s warehouses on fire. They rushed to assist. While Elora, Salys, and Drusilla joined the bucket brigade, Vorjhon raced to the largest part of the fire. He got as close as the heat would allow him to and inhaled deeply. He exhaled a cone of cold, icy breath at the base of the fire, extinguishing most of it.

Once they finished dousing the remaining flames, Master Buckthorne thanked them and offered them a job. One of the items he traded in were magical potions. Specifically, potions of intelligence made from a rare blue moss that grew deep in the nearby bog. When consumed, these potions would turn even the most simple man into a temporary genius, for nice sum of gold, that is.

Many of these potions were being stolen from his warehouse and neither he nor the town guard could find the culprits. He offered them a reward to find out who was behind the thefts. After going back to bed and sleeping until brunch time, they went to talk to the local potion master Angelica Artz, who made many of the potions sold by Master Buckthorne.

She told them that the potions would most likely not be going to Elnor, as they had a thriving potion business there already. The most likely place the potions would be going to would be Sturgeon. The thieves would have to have another way of getting the potions out of the Wyhill as the town guard knew about the thefts and had been keeping an eye out for them at the town gates, The group decided that they must be using a tunnel. They walked around the outside of the town walls looking for anything suspicious.

Elora eventually noticed some brush that didn’t look natural. They investigated it and discovered a trap door underneath. They opened it, climbed down a ladder and into a dark narrow tunnel. They followed it, their way lit by three dancing orbs of lights Drusila had conjured around them. A little further in, the tunnel got slightly wider before ending. They found a ladder leading up to another trap door and some crates of potions on the floor. Vorjhon volunteered to go up the ladder first.

He carefully opened the trap door, looked around, but saw no one in the room. He threw the door open so he could scramble up quickly and get in a defensive position, but quickly discovered he was alone in the pantry of a small house. The rest of the party climbed the ladder and quickly searched the house. No one was home. As nonchalantly as they could, they exited the house one at a time hoping they wouldn’t draw attention to themselves. They took note of the house’s location and went to find Master Buckthorne. Master Buckthorne listened to their discovery and asked them to lead one of his most trusted ship captains to the house in question.

Captain Grath joined them and recognized the house as belonging to a local troublemaker named Donnie. They showed Grath the tunnel, and they recovered some of the stolen potions. Master Buckthorne thanked them and paid them 1,000 gold for recovering the potions and identifying one of the thieves.Captain Grath suggested the group might also be useful to track down and put an end to the smuggling operation in Sturgeon. Buckthorne agreed, and promised them another 1,000 gold if they were successful. He loaned them 3 horses, and a rideable Great Dane named Duke, for Salys the gnome. He also gave them each a potion of health, just in case they needed it.

They left Wyhill early the next morning, making good time to Sturgeon since they had horses, and Duke. After arriving and stabling the horses, they went to see the blacksmith, Nich Lobach, who they had befriended upon their first arrival in Sturgeon. Vorjhon, wishing to upgrade his armor, ordered a suit of Splint Mail from Nich. Nich accepted the commission, and the downpayment, and told the Dragonborn it would be ready in 3 days. They asked Mindy if she could watch Duke, and she agreed.

They then set off for the Black Lamb tavern where they remembered the surly bartender had acted suspicious about the items in the basement below the bar. They also remembered the crates in the basement were the same size crates they found under Donnie’s house. Despite Salys’s best efforts to charm the bartender, offering to inspect the basement just in case the rats had come back, he would not let them in. He rudely dismissed them, telling them the bar was not open, and they should leave. Not having any actual proof the potions were down there, they decided to go.

Since the smugglers were using a tunnel to get out of Wyhill, it made sense they were using one to get into Sturgeon. They decided to follow that lead instead. Elora guided them outside the city walls to a spot that she estimated would be close to the Black Lamb on the other side. They searched for a tunnel entrance and eventually found one a few hundred yards from the town hidden by camouflage. It wasn’t a trap door, but a natural, sloping hole in the ground that had been widened with shovels and pickaxes. Not wishing to announce their presence to anyone Drusila did not cast her dancing lights this time. The elves and gnome relied on their night vision to see in the tunnel and they guided Vorjhon through the darkness.

A few hundred yards in, when they felt they should be getting close to the end, they heard the faint ringing of a bell. They realized they set off a trip wire and decided to run as fast as they could out of the tunnel to avoid detection. They exited the tunnel and took shelter behind some bushes about 60’ from the entrance. They waited for a few tense minutes, hands on their weapons, ready to spring into action to defend themselves if needed. As they were beginning to relax they saw the camouflage around the tunnel entrance move ever so slightly, then go still. It moved a bit more, before going still again.

A tough looking man exited the tunnel, and quickly glanced around. He shrugged, and disappeared from view back into the dark hole in the earth. The group stayed put for a few more minutes to make sure the coast was clear, then gathered to make a plan. They would go back into the tunnel, avoid the trip wire now that they knew where it was, and then when they got to the end, would set off the warning bell on purpose, and ambush the smugglers when they came into the tunnel to investigate.

Once at the end of the tunnel, they realized the trip wire was roughly 120’ behind them. Elora tried to set it off from their position with a well aimed arrow, but could not hit it from that distance in the darkness so she volunteered to go set it off by hand and run back as fast as she could. They found a small door at the end of the tunnel only big enough to crawl through. They positioned themselves around it and Elora pulled the wire The bell on the other side of the door. They heard cursing, the heavy stomp of several feet coming down stairs, then the door swung open.

A different man poked his head and shoulders through it and looked to either side. Catching sight of a large silver dragon born waiting for him, he let out a startled gasp and tried to scramble back through the door. Vorjhon grabbed him by the shoulders before he escaped. They pushed and pulled back and forth for a few moments before the smuggler was able to slip out of Vorjhon’s grip and scurry back into the safety of the basement, slamming the door behind him. Because they had no idea how many smugglers were behind the door, and it didn’t look like Vorjhon would fit through it anyway, they decided to exit the tunnel once again and return to their hiding spot near the entrance.

As they approached the entrance of the tunnel, they heard a loud explosive blast from behind them. The earthen walls shook around them and dirt fell from the ceiling in dust and clumps. They ran faster for fear of the tunnel collapsing around them. When they reached the safety of their hiding place, they realized leaving that room proved to be a wise choice.

As they caught their breath and kept watch on the entrance, they saw a man emerge from behind the camoflauge. It wasn’t the same man who had evaded Vorjhon’s grasp, or the first man who had come out of the tunnel. He stood tall, and scanned the area around him. When his gaze fell upon the bushes they hid behind he smiled wickedly. He pulled a piece of flint out of his pocket and used it to light the grenade he was holding in his hand. He reached back and moved his hand forward to lob the explosive at them. As his arm arced forward, the grenade slipped from his grasp and landed a mere two feet in front of him. His eyes widened in horror and he scrambled back into the cave before the device went off.

The smugglers now knew someone was on to them and that one of them was a large silver dragonborn who definitely stood out in a crowd. They decided their only plan right now would be to stay out of sight for the rest of the day and then try to break into the Black Lamb later that night. Vorjhon covered himself in a blanket like a makeshift cloak, which seemed to work better than expected as no one gave them a second look when they walked back into town.

They went to Nich’s and asked if they could lay low in the back of his shop for the evening. He refused, not wanting to get involved. They retrieved Duke from Mindy and headed for the town gate furthest from the smuggler’s tunnel. They would camp in the woods away from the town for a few hours, then attempt to gain access to the tavern’s basement after dark.

As they turned the corner onto the main street towards the gate, they were spotted by a group of eight armed men, three of whom the group recognized as the smugglers, and one of them as the Black Lamb’s bartender. Despite it still being daylight, and in the middle of town, the smugglers opened fire on them with crossbows.

A lucky bolt from the thugs caught Salys in the neck as she crumpled to the ground. Elora was also badly bloodied but managed to drink one of Buckthorne’s health potions to stabilize herself. Vorjhon healed Salys with his divine powers. The gnome sorceress quickly scambled to her feet and blew apart one of the bandits with a barrage of magic missiles. The rest of bandits drew their swords and charged at them. One of the bandits and the bartender flanked Vorjhon and ran him through with their swords. Drusila was able to heal him with a quick prayer to the raven queen before the bandits could finish him off.

Click Image To Enlarge
“One of the bandits and the bartender flanked Vorjhon and ran him through with their swords.”
Artwork by Bethany Powers

They were able to kill a couple more of the bandits, but were still outnumbered and running out of health potions. The town guard arrived and ordered everyone to put their weapons down but the bandits ignored the order and struck down Salys once more. She collapsed and began bleeding out on the street.

One smuggler fled and Ellora was able to shoot him in the leg, but not slow him down enough before he escaped outside the city walls. The guardsmen opened fire and with the help of Drusila and Elora, killed a couple more smugglers. Vorjhon, now one-on-one with the bartender struck him with his warhammer. A divine white light fell from the sky, smiting the bartender where he stood. The lone surviving smuggler finally dropped his weapon. Elora, Drusila, and Vorjhon laid their weapons on the ground. As Vorjhon crouched down, he used the last of his healing energy to stabilize Salys and bring her back from the brink of death.

Our tale will continue next time in Episode 4

Valuable contributions to the story were added by the role playing of:

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