Listen on YouTube
Welcome to Episode 18 of the Rescued by Dragons podcast, Tales of the Brunch Club: A fantasy fiction podcast inspired a weekly home brew Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
My name is Dominic White 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 tale of… The Brunch Club.
But first, a quick recap of our previous episode…
In Episode 17, The Brunch Club woke up with hangovers that were cured by healing prayers from Vorjhon and Drusilla. During breakfast the women engaged in another rat killing contest in the basement of TJ’s while Vorjhon asked the tavern keepers for information about the area around Wheaton. They went to the Sun Spot where Saberhagen told them about navigating Elnor and gave them a shopping list. On their first day on the road they took a detour to check out some caves on the coast. They stumbled, literally, into a cave full of chanting cultists who pulled daggers on them but were no match for the Brunch Club. They continued their journey until coming across an inviting clearing and made camp for the night.
Episode 18, “To Trust A Thief”
Drusilla sat on her heels as she knelt on a cleared patch of ground. She held her torso upright and stared straight ahead into the forest across the road from their campsite. It had been snowing for an hour and there was a fresh layer of snow on top of the earlier accumulations. It was one of those early, pre dawn mornings where the snow on the ground and in the air seemed to absorb all sound. It was the quietest evening the lunar elf could remember in a long time and she enjoyed the stillness while her companions slept behind her.
If it wasn’t for the extreme quiet Drusilla might not have heard the small twig snap across the road. She narrowed her eyes and peered into the woods where the faint sound had come from. Nothing moved. She said a barely audible prayer to herself. Three glowing orbs of light appeared across the road. They hovered above some bushes on the edge of the road. Even with the bright light it took Drusilla a couple of minutes to locate the silver eyes staring back at her through the thicket. They looked at each other. The owner of the silver eyes stayed perfectly still, never breaking eye contact. The cleric sent two of the three orbs through the tangle of low branches, searching for other figures. When she was satisfied there was only one, she calmly called across the road. “It’s more comfortable over here than in the bushes.”
The figure stood up. The dwarf was not much taller than the bush she was hiding behind. When she crossed the road Drusilla got a better look at her. She was under five feet tall. She had the stocky build of a dwarf, but even with her dark, studded leather armor, she looked lean and muscular. The fair skin of her face was framed by medium length blue hair. A shortbow was slung over her back. One hand carried a travel bag down by her knees. Her other hand held the end of a battle axe that rested on her shoulder.
She tossed her bag next to Drusilla and scanned the sleeping figures behind her. “You gonna wake your friends?” she asked.
“They’ll be up soon enough,” Drusilla answered. “I’m enjoying the quiet.”
The dwarf sat on her pack.
“Drusilla,” the elf introduced herself.
“Diessa,” the dwarf said.
After a few minutes Drusilla asked, “How long were you out there?”
“All night,” Diessa answered.
With no tone of accusation in her voice, the cleric asked, “You planning to rob us?”
Diessa replied, “Yup. But you guys keep watch.”
They heard the grunts of stretching, waking bodies behind them as sunlight streamed over the horizon and filtered through the trees.
Drusilla stood up from her kneeling position. “I’ll introduce you. Don’t mention the stealing thing. Our paladin can be a bit annoying about that.”
“Whatever,” Diessa said as she stood.
Drusilla introduced Diessa to the others. She accepted their invitation to share breakfast.
Vorjhon asked “Are you heading to Enlor as well, Diessa?”
The dwarf answered curtly. “Eventually. What’s it to you?”
Vorjhon seemed to ignore Diessa’s standoffish reply. “You are welcome to travel with us if you want. Safety in numbers. Though it shouldn’t be problem this close to Elnor.”
Diessa didn’t answer.
Elora pointed at Diessa’s bow she had set next to her pack. “You any good with that?”
Diessa said, “I’m alright. How are you with the longbow?” She saw the others smile and laugh inwardly.
The red-headed gnome answered for their ranger, “Yeah, she’s alright.”
Diessa nodded and continued eating.
The Brunch Club noticed her staring at each of them as she ate. They knew she was sizing them up. They didn’t know why.
“I’ve come from south of Drazean” she told them. “I left my village a few weeks ago. I’ve been trying to ste… um, earn money to get my family out of poverty. I found a map that supposedly leads to a large ancient treasure. I have followed it this far, but I can’t seem to find the location. If you help me I’ll split it with you.”
Salys crossed her arms. “Five ways, or half for you?”
Diessa seemed surprised and insulted. “Five ways. Yeah. Who would demand half? That’s stupid.”
“Yeah, it is,” Salys agreed.
Elora held out her hand. “Can I see the map?”
Diessa hesitated, then reluctantly handed it to the ranger.
Elora examined it. She could see why it was difficult to follow. The map was crudely drawn and the scale of its landmarks was inconsistent. There was a small drawing of what looked to be a wooden table next to a tree. “What is this?” she asked, pointing to it.
Elora handed the map back to her. I think we can find it. It looks like it’s only a couple days walk from here.”
Drusilla said, “If this works out, maybe you can come back to Elnor with us and we can take on a few jobs together and get you some more money for your family.”
Diessa smiled for the first time. “That depends on how much treasure there is.”
The Brunch Club and their new friend broke camp and followed Elora northward into the forest.
Their progress was slow at first. The trees were close together and the underbrush was thick and clingy. After a few hours the trees began to spread out and the underbrush thinned. Through the trees, they saw a snow covered meadow in the distance. When they approached the edge of the clearing Elora stopped and held her hand up. They all stopped. Vorjhon, Salys and Drusilla knew that was also a signal to keep quiet, but Dieassa asked loudly, “What?”
The word barely left her lips when a large grey cat leapt at the dwarf. She turned in time to see the fierce, growling panther descend upon her with its long fangs bared. A blur passed over her shoulder. The cat’s growl stopped abruptly. It fell harmlessly in front of Diessa, its head resting on the toe of her boot. There was a smoking, burnt hole where its eye used to be. Blood soaked the ground from the other side of it’s head. Diessa turned to Elora who nodded at her before turning back toward the meadow.
“How did she get the arrow back in her quiver so fast?” Diessa asked, astounded.
Salys chuckled. “We told you. She’s alright.”
Elora took out her compass and asked to see the map again. “It looks like there’s a stream or spring a few hours to the north. We can camp there, then we should be at the marker sometime mid morning tomorrow.”
They followed their ranger until the sun was sitting on top of the bare hills in the distance. As predicted, they came upon a small stream where they made camp.
After they ate dinner and the sun set, they went to sleep while Elora kept first watch. Diessa, still suspicious of her new companions, tried to stay awake, but soon succumbed to sleep as well.
Near the end of Elora’s watch she heard what sounded like the crunch of a footstep on snow covered grass. She turned towards it and was immediately struck from behind. She yelled out as she hit the ground. A bukly, fur covered body was pressed against her. It reared up on its knees and raised a large claw above its head, ready to bring it down upon her.
In the moonlight, the beast looked like a cross between a goblin and a bear. Its claw dropped down toward her but never connected. The beast howled as Eclipse shattered its arm, causing the forearm to hang loosely from its elbow.
Elora rolled out of the way only to be hit by another creature. She winced in pain, but managed to get to her feet and dive for her longbow. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a third creature springing toward her, but it was halted by a bolt of purple energy slamming into it, courtesy of Drusilla.
Vorjhon said a prayer and Eclipse glowed with a holy silver light, allowing the dragonborn to see his enemies in the darkness.
“What are these things?” Vorjhon asked, as he raised his shield to ward off another attack.
“Believe it or not,” Elora answered as she shot her Phoenix arrow into one of them. “I think they’re bugbears!”
Drusilla couldn’t believe it. “Bugbears? I thought they were just stories to scare kids!”
Vorjhon swung his glowing mace at the Bugbear with the wounded arm. His prayer of smiting blasted it when Eclipse made contact. The beast crumpled to the ground. “True stories, apparently,” the paladin added.
An arrow zipped past Vorjhon’s head and pierced the heart of the second bugbear before reappearing in Elora’s quiver. She quickly drew it again and shot it at the remaining bugbear. It put a hole through its chest, but it was still standing and charging Drusilla. Vorjhon moved to the cleric’s side and brushed the sweeping claw aside with his shield. Drusilla called forth a column of purple flames that engulfed her goblinoid foe. It dropped to one knee, swayed from side to side for a second, then fell forward into the snow.
They made sure the bugbears were indeed dead, then collected themselves.
Drusilla looked at the corpses. They were between seven and eight feet tall. “I can’t believe we were attacked by bugbears.”
Elora nodded. “They’re supposed to be incredibly rare.”
Vorjhon put Eclipse back on his belt. “Lucky us.”
They were startled by a sudden rumbling noise, but relaxed when they realized it was just Salys snoring. Diessa was also still sound asleep.
“I wish I could sleep like that,” Drusilla said
Vorjhon replied humorlessly, “If you could, we’d be dead.”
Elora finished her watch while the rest of them went back to bed. Drusilla soon relieved her. The rest of the night passed quietly.
Diessa and Salys woke up and noticed the rest of their party was still asleep.
“Do they always sleep late?” Diessa asked the gnome.
“No,” Salys answered. She pointed at the bug bear corpses lying in the snow at the edge of their campsite. “But I’m guessing those had something to do with it.”
Drusilla, Vorjhon, and Elora woke up to the welcome smell of breakfast cooking.
Salys greeted them, “Looks like we missed quite the party last night.”
Drusilla replied, “Sorry. We didn’t have time to send out invitations.”
“We’ll make sure we scream louder for you two next time,” said Elora.
Despite their late start, they did in fact reach their destination mid morning. What looked like a poorly drawn table on the map, was in fact an elevator platform above a mine shaft. The platform was surrounded by a timber frame work. Ropes ran from the top of the frame to two pulleys that sat next to each other on the platform. Each pulley had two cranks, one on either side, making it look like it was designed for four people to raise and lower it.
They examined the contraption carefully. It looked sturdy and functional. All of them except Salys grasped a crank handle. They cranked downwards but the platform didn’t move. Salys found a rod locking the platform in place. She tried to pull it out but there was too much pressure on it for her to be able to release it. Vorjhon reached down and grabbed it with one arm, keeping the other on the crank. He pulled it out and the platform began plummeting. The side Vorjhon was on dipped down further than the other side, but he was able to level the platform when he got his second hand back on the crank. They slowly lowered the platform, but the weight of it started to strain on them.
“I can’t hold on much longer,” Drusilla warned. The crank slipped out of her hands and that corner dipped down jerkily. Salys ran over and together they were able to get hold of it again.
Diessa lost her grip for a moment causing the platform to jerk down on her corner. This caused Elora to lose her grip.
The awkward lurching of the platform became too eratic to control. Finally they all lost their hold on the cranks and plummeted twenty feet down the rest of the shaft. The platform splintered when they hit the bottom.
Salys was the only one moderately injured, but Vorjhon was able to heal her immediately.
Drusilla stared up the shaft. They were roughly sixty feet down, but the ropes were still attached to the framework at the top. It would be a long climb up, but at least they weren’t stranded down here.
There was only one passageway at the bottom of the shaft to choose from so they followed it. The cleric lit their way with three magic orbs of light dancing in front of them.
They had only gone a few steps when Salys said, “Wait guys. Why don’t I check it out with Pip?”
“Pip?” Diessa asked.
A small white pygmy owl with brown and gray markings hopped out of the hood of Salys’s purple robe.
Diessa’s normally gruff tone disappeared, “He’s soooo cute!”
“Fuck you, shorty,” Pip said, though only Salys could hear him.
“Enough of that,” Salys said sternly. “We’re gonna go check out this mine shaft for a bit.
Pip shook his adorable fluffy head. “You shitting me? I ain’t going down there.”
“You don’t have a choice,” Salys informed him before addressing the rest of the group. “Okay, so I’m going to transfer my awareness into Pip. I’ll be able to tell you what I see, but I won’t be able to hear you. You guys need to stick close to me and protect my body while I’m gone. If there’s trouble, just tap my shoulder. I’ll be able to feel it.”
“You guys are weird,” Diessa observed.
The bright green color of Salys’s eyes faded. Pip’s matching green eyes got brighter and he flew down the mine shaft.
“It’s pretty long,” Salys’s body said. After a pause she continued. “I haven’t reached the end yet.” Another pause. “It doesn’t look like anyone’s been down here in a long time. I’m going to come back.”
Pip flew back and landed on Salys’s shoulder. Vibrant color returned to the gnome’s eyes. “Woah. That was weird.”
“How do you think it felt for me?” Pip said in a petulant tone.
Vorjhon led the group down the corridor with Drusilla’s dancing lights illuminating their way. They traveled cautiously despite Salys’s scouting report that all looked clear. Vorjhon felt a stone sink under his feet and heard a ‘click’ above him. “Get down!” He shouted while he instinctually lifted his shield. A rusting axe blade covered in cobwebs swung down from the ceiling and struck the paladin’s raised shield instead of burying itself in his skull.
Diessa stepped ahead of Vorjhon. “Maybe I should go first and check for traps.”
“I can find traps,” said Vorjhon with a hint of wounded pride in his voice.
“You certainly found that first trap,” Salys joked.
Diessa moved down the cavern confidently. She turned and walked backwards for a brief moment to tell Vorjhon, “Traps are kind of my thing.” Her heel swept through a tripwire. Darts shot out from small holes in the cave wall and pierced her sides. They were small darts and did not do much damage. Diessa cursed. She pulled one out and sniffed it.
“Poison?” Elora asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” Diessa answered. She breathed steadily, waiting to feel what affect the poison would have on her.
Drusilla approached the dwarf. “Do you need healing?”
Diessa shook her head. “I think the poison’s old. It’s lost its potency.”
Vorjhon said to Salys. “Traps are her thing.”
Diessa smirked sarcastically, and continued down the tunnel, this time with more caution.
They approached a curtain of cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. Diessa swept at it with her axe, keeping as far back from it as she could. When her axe disturbed the webs, a four square foot section of floor dropped down several inches revealing 12 inch rusted, yet still sharp, spikes.
They easily leapt over the trap and continued on. The tunnel soon opened up into a large cavern. At the far end of the cavern was a small, plain, iron box with a keyhole in the middle of the side that faced them. They saw a black puddle next to the box. It looked more like molasses than water. Ownerless weapons and armor littered the ground between them and the small black pool.
“What now?” Salys asked.
This tale will continue next week in Episode 19
Episode 18 was written by Dominic White and based upon a Dungeons and Dragons campaign created by our dungeon master, Brian Messmer.
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!