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Welcome to Episode 19 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 18, during Drusilla’s night watch,she heard a twig snap nearby. She saw a silver-eyed dwarf watching their camp from the bushes across the road. Drusilla invited her to sit with them. Her name was Diessa and she said she was seeking her fortune to help her family get out of poverty. She also had a difficult to read map to a hidden treasure and told them if they helped her find it, she’d split it with them. Elora was able to follow the map to an abandoned mine shaft. They lost control of the tricky, hand-cranked elevator platform and plunged the last 20 feet down the shaft. With only minor injuries they continued into the mine. Vorjhon and Diessa each set a trap off, but were able to avoid harm. They found the treasure chest at the back of a large cavern next to a small pool of black liquid. It was surrounded by weapons and empty armor. They stood at the entrance to the cavern and plotted their next move.
Episode 19, “The Serpent King”
The Brunch Club stared at the ownerless weapons and armor that lay between them and the treasure chest.
Salys suggested, “Let’s not end up like these guys.”
Drusilla said, “Can we assume that whatever killed these poor bastards came from that pool?”
They all nodded in agreement.
Diessa looked around the cavern. “I’ll sneak around the edge and get to it. You guys can cover me.”
“Wait,” said Vorjhon as Diessa took her first step. “You have bow. You can help cover. Chest may be boobytrapped. Why don’t I go, carry it back here, then you open it. If something goes wrong, we’ll be here to assist you.”
“Well aren’t you a noble one?” Diessa mocked.
“He’s right,” said Elora. “It makes the most sense.”
Diessa stepped back and took her bow off her shoulder, nocked and arrow on the string, and pointed it at the dark pool. Elora did the same. Drusilla said a prayer conjuring her mystical raven. It flew to the pool and hovered between it and the treasure box. Salys got ready to unleash as many magic missiles as she could the if liquid in the pool so much as rippled.
Vorjhon walked slowly around the cavern, staying close to the stone walls. Drusilla’s dancing lights guided his way. He walked as quietly as he could but occasionally his heavy boot would crush a small rock, or his shield would clank against mace. Their heightened alertness made even the slightest noise seem as though it echoed around the cavern.
Diessa whispered, “That oaf is going to get us killed.”
Salys came to the defense of their paladin. “That oaf will probably save your life at some point.”
“Both of you shut up,” urged Elora.
Vorjhon reached the strong box. He paused for a few seconds, staring into the pool. Its surface remained perfectly smooth and undisturbed. He lifted the strongbox easily. It felt lighter than he thought it should, but he’d never carried a box of treasure before, so he had no basis for comparison. Drusilla’s spiritual raven stayed between him and the pool as he carried the box back to them. They let Vorjhon pass and walk a few yards into the tunnel. They backed towards him, keeping their eyes and weapons trained on the dark water.
When they went around a bend in the tunnel and could no longer see the cavern, they relaxed a little. Vorjhon put the box down and stepped away. “All yours,” he said to Diessa.
Elora kept her bow ready and looked back toward the cavern, keeping watch. Drusilla kept an eye on the other end of the tunnel.
Diessa dropped to one knee, took a small roll of cloth out of one of her pockets, and laid it on the ground. She unrolled it exposing an array of delicate lock picking tools.
“You’re a thief.” Vorjhon said, the contempt obvious in his voice.
“I prefer the term, ‘rogue,’” she replied. She inserted one lock pick into the keyhole and jiggled it up and down, getting a feeling for the lock’s inner workings. She placed a second pick in the lock below the first pick and pulled them up and down in opposite directions. They all heard the loud click of the lid unlocking.
Diessa turned back at the paladin and smiled. “A damn good rogue at that.” She opened the lid and a single large dart shot from the opening and embedded itself in her shoulder. “Damnit!” she said through gritted teeth. She fell back into a sitting position. Her thoughts became cloudy and her stomach felt nauseous. Pain began to well up in her extremities. “This dart’s fresh,” she said weakly.
Vorjhon stepped forward, removed the dart and placed a hand over the wound. He said a prayer. When he finished Diessa felt her head clear and the pain and nausea subside.
“Told ya he’d save your life,” Salys said and smirked at Diessa. Diessa smirked back.
The rogue got back on one knee and slowly, more cautiously this time, opened the lid all the way. There was a small cloth bag and a folded piece of paper at the bottom and nothing else. Diessa read the note out loud.
“The Dark Serpent beat you to it. Find me in Elnor’s Slate District for more lucrative opportunities, if you’ve got the stuff. In the meantime, here is a little something for your trouble.”
Diessa emptied six gold pieces from the bag into her palm.
“Yay. We’re rich,” Elora deadpanned.
The dwarf inspected the interior of the box carefully hoping to find a hidden compartment. When she found nothing she stood up and kicked the box angrily.
“Do not despair,” Vorjhon said calmly, “We will keep our word. You are welcome to come to Elnor with us where there will likely be more opportunities to earn money for your family.”
Diessa said nothing and stomped angrily up the tunnel back toward the broken elevator.
As they followed after the rogue, Salys asked, “Do you think she’s still gonna split the treasure with us?”
Vorjhon and Diessa climbed easily out of the deep pit, then used the ropes to pull the others up. They took advantage of the couple hours of daylight still left in the day and marched across the snow mottled grasslands back toward the road to Elnor. The mine shaft was an hour behind them when Elora felt something brush against her feet. She jumped back and called out, “Snakes!”
They stopped and looked at the ground. Snakes pushing two feet long darted between the grass and under the patches of snow. They sprung up near them trying to take bites out of their feet and ankles. Salys was short enough that they were able to nip above her knees. One lunged at the gnome but Vorjhon slammed the edge of his shield down, decapitating it. He lifted Salys onto his shoulders before she could get bitten.
It was impossible to count how many there were and difficult to get a shot at one, even for Elora. From atop Vorjhon’s shoulders Salys fired a salvo of magic missiles in the direction of a writhing cluster of the snakes. Five of them perished immediately and the rest scattered in different directions, disappearing into the grass and snow.
They watched the ground all around them for a minute. The snakes did not return. Salys patted Vorjhon on the head. “I think it’s safe now.”
The dragon put her down gently and said, “Strange that we find note from Serpent King then get attacked by snakes.”
“Could be a coincidence too,” Elora said. “Snakes are common in this kind of terrain.” The ranger resumed leading them back to the road.
They followed her for another hour. When the sun touched the horizon they stopped and made camp for the night.
The next morning began the coldest day of winter so far. The cold was magnified by the biting wind that whipped into them from the direction they needed to go. Silver Scaled dragonborns are not affected by the cold as much as other races, so Vorjhon walked in front to help shield them from the wind. They followed behind each other closely, practically walking on each other’s heels.
Their progress was slow. They decided not to stop for lunch to make up for lost time and walking helped keep them warm.
By mid afternoon, the wind strengthened into a gale. Even though Elora was right behind Vorjhon, he still had to shout to be heard. “We should look for shelter!”
Elora shouted back to him, “Already looking!”
A half hour later she tapped him on the shoulder and pointed toward a distant rocky hill. “It looks like there’s a cave there!”
Vorjhon nodded and turned in that direction.
When they got closer, they could see that there was indeed a small cave among some rocks at the foot of a small hill. The entrance was only about 4 feet tall, but if there was enough room inside it would be a welcome shelter from the icy wind.
Salys summoned Pip. “Go check out the cave, make sure it’s safe.”
Pip huffed dramatically. “Fine. Whatever.” He lifted off the sorceress’s shoulder and swooped into the opening..
Seconds later Salys’s eyes widened. “Shit! He’s gone!”
Drusilla looked at her with concern. “Gone?”
Salys confirmed, “Yeah. I think something killed him.”
“He’s not really dead though?” Vorjhon asked. “Can’t you get him back with another scroll?”
“Yeah,” Salys said. “But right now I’m more worried about what’s in there.”
They stared into the dark hole in the rocks and saw 3 pairs of eyes reflecting back at them. The eyes got larger as they got closer. Elora and Diessa readied their bows and the others prepared to defend themselves.
A wolf with pure white fur and piercing blue eyes appeared at the entrance to the cave. It was large enough it had to crouch down to get out. Two other wolves waited behind the entrance.
“Fuck!” Elora shouted, “Winter wolves!”
Before she could fire her arrow, the wolf in front exhaled a cone of icy breath. It was similar to Vorjhon’s ice breath, but much more powerful. The freezing cold spray made the wind around them seem like a warm summer breeze by comparison. The sudden shock of cold knocked Drusilla, Salys, and Diessa unconscious. Elora was able to turn and brace for it. Cold permeated her body and she felt like she’d never be warm again, but she remained conscious. She fired her arrow at the closest wolf and hit it in the chest below the neck. It yelped in pain and blood stained it’s pristine white fur, but it was not dead.
Vorjhon’s natural cold resistance protected him from the icy blast. He quickly ran to Drusilla and revived her with his healing touch. He stood in front of her and blocked the second wolf with his shield while swinging Eclipse upwards into its ribs. He felt some crack upon impact.
Drusilla rolled over and grabbed Salys’s hand. She said a quick prayer of healing and the gnome sat up, shivering uncontrollably, but alert. From her sitting position she quickly fired off five magic missiles into the side of the winter wolf lunging at Elora.
Vorjhon used his shield to push his winter wolf into the path of the third to keep it from attacking his prone companions. Drusilla used the opportunity to scramble to her feet, run to Diessa, and heal her as well.
The first wolf ignored the pain caused by Salys’s attack and swiped at Elora. It’s powerful claw dug into her thigh. Her leather armor took most of the damage but the wolf’s claws still ripped three large gashes into her flesh. She almost welcomed the feeling of warm blood running down her freezing skin into her boot.
The ranger took two quick shots with her phoenix arrow. The first sailed past it, but the second hit the center of its head right above the muzzle and pierced its brain. The wolf’s lifeless body toppled over into the snow.
Diessa fired her short bow at the wolf engaged with Vorjhon. It yipped and turned to charge her. Before it could, Vorjhon once again swung his two headed mace into its rib cage. This blow collapsed the massive canine’s lungs and stopped its heart.
Drusilla, Salys, and Elora combined their attacks on the third wolf, which succumbed immediately.
Elora limped over to Vorjhon. The paladin fixed her injured leg with a healing prayer.
Drusilla sent her magical light into the cavern to make sure there were no more wolves inside. They saw it was empty and just big enough to fit the five of them. They built a fire just inside the entrance so it could not be blown out by the wind. They huddled close to it to get as warm as they could.
“We should skin those,” Elora said as she warmed her hands. “Winter wolf pelts are rare and worth a lot.”
“In the morning,” Drusilla answered. “They’re not going anywhere.”
The Brunch Club fell asleep with Elora and Drusilla taking their turns at watch. Vorjhon slept at the entrance to help block the wind from coming in.
The next morning was calm and bright. Even though it was still chilly the sun felt warm on their faces as they emerged from the wolf den. After a quick breakfast, they helped Elora skin the large winter wolves. Despite a few blood stains and spots of singed fur, they managed to come away with some large, high quality, snowy white pelts.
It wasn’t long before they were back on the relative safety of the road. They traveled quickly and in the very early evening they reached the gates of Elnor.
This tale will continue next week in Episode 20
Episode 19 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!