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Welcome to Episode 23 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 Bethany Powers 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…
On their way to do battle with a pair of hill giants, The Brunch Club destroyed an innocent log after Vorjhon misheard Diesa. Inside it they found an expensive looking necklace with a star-shaped ruby pendant. As they progressed further, a grey giant hurled boulders at them to prevent them from getting closer. They retreated, then came up with a plan to lure him out with 40 pounds of smoked meat. They put their plan in action after dark. Unfortunately the first creature it attracted was a three-headed Chimera, which heard Vorjhon’s shield scrape the rock he was hiding behind..
Episode 23 “Three And A Half Heads”
The three-headed chimera stared at the boulder which barely concealed the hiding Vorjhon. Its red-scaled dragon head reared back, mouth aglow with imminent fire breath. Elora shot the dragon head in the neck, causing its lethal flame to shoot harmlessly above Vorjhon when it recoiled from the pain. Elora quickly shot a second arrow at the chimera and struck it once again in the dragon head’s neck.
All three heads turned in anger toward Elora, who ducked down behind her blind. While the beast searched for the source of the arrows, Salys peeked over her hiding spot just enough to fire a salvo of magic missiles. The missiles hit the chimera’s flank. Bright green blasts of magic energy exploded against it as all of the sorceresses’ attacks hit their target.
Before the light from her blasts faded, Salys dropped to her knees. She felt her skin tingle all over. The air pressure around her seemed to increase, making it harder to breathe. Green light circled around her. She had this feeling once before. It was in the bitch bog when she lost control of her magic power. That time the magical surge had saved Vorjhon after a basilisk turned him to stone. She had no idea what this surge of untamed magical energy would do. The hair stood up on the back of her neck. The hair on her head felt like it was standing as well. She realized it was growing…. fast. Her joints, bones, and muscles suddenly ached. The sensation reminded her of a distant, vague memory. A feeling of horror came over her when she remembered why the aches in her body felt so familiar. They were growing pains. Her hair grew past her eyes in a matter of seconds and she realized she was aging rapidly, with no way to stop it.
While Salys aged behind her blind, Drusilla prayed and fired a purple bolt of energy from her hands. It further wounded the chimera and caused it to glow with violet light. The Brunch Club had been in enough battles together that they recognized Drusilla’s Guiding Bolt, which briefly made the target easier to see. The purple light also glowed brighter on the more vulnerable parts of the creature. Elora used this information to her advantage and hit the brightest glowing spots with two phoenix arrow shots from her longbow. Vorjhon and Diessa charged the chimera. They attacked both sides of its rear flanks, staying out of reach of its three heads. The dragon head hung limp. It dragged on the ground as the chimera tried to move away from the paladin’s and rogue’s attacks.
Elora stood up and took careful aim to deliver a final death strike, but she was thrown off balance when something hit her. A winged lizard, about the size and shape of a large chicken, struck her shoulder as it flew past. Another flying lizard swooped past her head. Then another, then another, then four more landed near the pile of jerky. They began fighting each other over the free meal. In their frenzy, they began striking Diessa and Vorjhon as well.
Diessa grabbed one of the lizards by the tail and swung it at the other lizards that were biting and clawing at her. She knocked one of them out of the sky. When it landed on the ground she used the lizard in her hand to beat it to death.
Drusilla conjured her cloud of spiritual ravens. It swirled around her in a fifteen foot wide cloud as she ran to Diessa. The multitude of spectral ravens which formed the cloud began ripping at the lizards and chimera with their tiny beaks and talons. They did not touch Vorjhon, Diessa, or Drusilla.
Behind her blind, Salys breathed a sigh of relief. Her hair stopped growing after about four feet. It was almost touching the ground when she stood up, but she was able to flip it behind her shoulders. She saw the strange flying lizards attacking Diesa and shot green lightning bolts from her fingertips. The lightning struck one lizard, arced to the lizard behind it, arched to the lizard behind that one, then arced to one more. All four lizards dropped dead, smoking on the snowy ground.
Vorjhon noticed the chimera was in agony. Blood seeped from several wounds on its body and both the dragon and goat heads were lifeless, dragging harmlessly in the snow. The paladin felt pity for the fearsome, majestic beast. He said a prayer. Eclipse glowed with divine silver light. He brought the two headed mace down upon the chimera’s lion head. When he struck it, Eclipse released an explosion of divine energy into the beast which put it out of its misery.
Before the chimera hit the ground, loud shrieks filled the air above them. Three gryphons dove at them from the sky. The eagle-headed, winged lions swooped in, then pulled up at the last second so they could rake their targets with sharp front talons. The two that dove at Diesa and Drusilla were driven back by the relentless, swarming attacks of Drusilla’s cloud of spiritual ravens. The third one struck Salys. Its sharp claws easily tore through her robes and ripped deep gouges in her back. The gnome’s long hair got tangled around the gryphon’s leg. It dragged her out of the blind as it charged toward the freshly killed chimera. The gryphon managed to get untangled from Salys by kicking her repeatedly with its rear lion’s legs.
Drusilla ran to Salys’s prone, bloodied body. She was surprised to see the four foot long hair but concentrated on the prayer of healing. Salys thanked her and stood up. She raised her hands toward the gryphon that had bits of hair wrapped around its leg. The familiar surging feeling came over her as soon as the magic missiles left her hands.
“Not again,” she moaned.
“What?” Drusilla asked, as she noticed the green energy circling her gnome friend.
“Another magic surge,” Salys shouted. “Second one tonight.” The only thing more unlikely than having two magic surges so close together, was having the same effect twice in a row, which is what happened when Salys’s hair grew another four feet.
The flying lizards were all dead. Vorjhon kept the first gryphon focused on him while Diesa and Drusilla closed in on the second. Diesa chopped at it with her axe, while Drusilla thrust her sword into it. Her cloud of spiritual ravens helped kill it quickly. Elora fired two quick arrows at the beast engaged with Vorjhon, dispatching that one as well.
Salys used her dagger to cut the eight feet of hair down to a manageable two. The third and last remaining gryphon charged her. She swiped at it with her dagger. It backed off a little and circled around her, waiting for its friends to come to its aid. When it realized the other two gryphons were dead, it leapt off the ground with its powerful rear legs and flew away into the darkness.
They caught their breath as they watched it fly away.
“Well that was the worst plan ever,” said Elora. The Brunch Club agreed and retreated back to the site where they made camp earlier that day. They healed their wounds and went to sleep, hoping a good night’s rest would help them come up with a better plan in the morning.
Nothing disturbed them that night and they woke up to a cold, misty day. This was good news as it would make it harder for the hill giants to see them coming.
They sat around a small fire and ate breakfast.
“Your hair’s a mess,” Drusilla said to Salys.
“I know. The middle of a battle is not the best time to give yourself a haircut,” said Salys.
“Here, let me clean it up for you.” The cleric said, holding her hand out for Salys’s dagger.
While Drusilla tried to clean up Salys’s hasty haircut, Diesa asked, “Where’d all the hair come from?”
They explained to Diessa the unpredictable side effects of their sorceresses’ wild magic.
“It saved my life once,” said Vorjhon, happily.
“Judging by the length of my hair, I think I aged sixteen years last night,” Salys remarked as she picked up some of the long clippings that lay at her feet. Gnomes typically lived well past the age of three hundred and fifty, so this was not particularly devastating news to Salys. “Do I look wiser in my old age?” she asked with a grin and a humorous twinkle in her eyes.
“So what do we do about the giants?” Diessa asked between bites of her breakfast.
“I don’t think that was a hill giant,” said Salys.
“Why not?” Drusilla asked as she finished trimming the gnome’s fiery red hair.
“It seemed smart. Like it just wanted to be left alone,” answered Salys. “Remember the hill giant we fought outside Wheaton? It was kind of dumb, and aggressive.”
“Hill giants don’t have gray skin either,” said Elora.
“And there seemed to be only one, not two,” added Vorjhon.
Elora took out the map Pernold gave her and studied it. “According to this map,” the ranger said, “it gets a bit hillier to the north east. I say we give this giant a wide berth and head up that way.”
“So say we all,” agreed Drusilla, speaking accurately for the rest of The Brunch Club.
Before they packed up camp and headed to the northeast hills, Salys held Vorjhon’s shield up in front of her. WIth its tip touching the ground it was almost as tall as she was. The emblem of Bahamut that took up most of the front of the paladin’s shield was impeccably polished. Salys inspected Drusilla’s handy work in the reflection. “Not bad!” Said the gnome..
After an hour of marching in the morning mist the women’s hair was soaked and matted to their faces. Rivulets of water rolled down Vorjhon’s scales. The anticipation of battle kept them from feeling the cold. They reached the hills and walked carefully through the vales, keeping their eyes peeled on the hilltops. They began seeing trampled grass and bones covered in snow. When they came across a fresh animal carcass, they stopped. Through the mist, around a 100 feet away, they saw a large hill in front of a larger ridge with what looked like the opening of a cave. From their position they couldn’t see the top of the hill.
“Can Pip have a closer look at that ridge?” Elora asked Salys.
“No fucking way,” said Pip, though only Salys could hear him.
“He’d be happy to,” the sorceress told them.
Pip flew through the mist in the direction of the ridge.
“There’s two giants up there,” he told Sayls when he returned. “They smell terrible.”
Elora asked the owl to describe the ridge above the cave. Salys told her Pip’s observations.
“If we can sneak up ridge and get above them, that would give us advantage,” said Vorjhon.
The Brunch Club agreed.
Using Pip’s description, Elora led them to the edge of the ridge from the back. They got within eighty feet where they could peer down and see the two hill giants. They sat on a wide fallen tree trunk, ripping raw meat off bones with their teeth. The carcass of a large, legless bear lay in front of them.
“Well, no time like the present,” said Salys.
“Take the big one out first,” Vorjhon reminded them.
They all stood. Elora, Salys, and Diessa silently prepared to attack. Drusilla shifted her foot to get in her own attack stance and dislodged a small rock stuck in the ground. It skipped and rolled down the hill, hit the ridge, and landed at the giants’ feet. They looked up the ridge and saw the five figures staring down at them. Instead of ducking out of the line of fire, they stood up, making themselves nice, big, inviting targets.
“Wow, they are dumb, aren’t they?” Diessa said as she let her arrow fly from her shortbow at the larger of the giants.
Elora, Drusilla, and Salys unleashed their attacks as well. The giant staggered back, fell to one knee, and struggled to breathe. The slightly smaller of the two giants howled with rage, picked up the bear carcass with one hand and hurled it over the ridge. It struck Elora square in the chest, knocking her backwards onto the ground, landing on top of her.
Vorjhon ran over to their fallen ranger. Blood sprayed from her mouth as she coughed and tried to breathe. The paladin rolled the bear off of Elora. He bent over and touched her shoulder. His healing energy flowed into her.
The wounded giant tried to stand. Salys, Drusilla and Diessa fired again, all shots striking true. The giant dropped to his knees once more, then fell over onto his side as life left his body.
The remaining giant picked up the tree trunk and hurled it up toward the women that killed his friend. Vorjhon dove in front of it. The trunk hit his shield and drove his arm into his abdomen, knocking the wind out of him.
The sorceress, cleric, and rogue took their shots. They all hit the giant, but its rage helped it ignore the pain. It picked up a nearby rock with both hands and held it over its head, getting ready to hurl it.
Elora finally caught her breath. She got to one knee taking partial cover behind the bear. In rapid succession she fired one phoenix arrow into the middle of the giant’s forehead. The impact of the arrow created large holes in the front and back of the cranium as it entered and exited. Before Vorjhon could shout, “We need the head!” Elora’s second shot did even more damage to the giant’s skull. The giant stood motionless for a moment. Its eyes grew unfocused as its mouth hung slack. Drool poured off its lower lip. The boulder slipped from the giant’s hands, falling straight down. The large stone crushed the giant’s head like an egg, collapsing it all the way down to the neck.
Vorjhon gave Elora an annoyed look.”Sorreey,” said the ranger.
When they got down to the bodies, the paladin’s fear was confirmed. The head of the giant had been obliterated. They were able to salvage a few teeth and some scalp, but nothing that would definitively prove they killed both giants.
“What now?” asked Diesa.
“I guess we can at least collect the one head,” said Elora.
“What’s so funny? Drusilla asked.
”Captain Pernold never said which head he wanted,” Vorjhon answered, “If you catch my meaning.”
Salys also laughed. “It’s a good thing they’re both male,” she observed.
They rolled the giants onto their backs. Salys used her dagger to cut away their loin cloths.
“Damn,” muttered Elora at the exposed giant penises. “Those are going to take more than a dagger.”
“Congratulations, Diessa,” said Vojhon, patting her jovially on her shoulder. “You’re the one with the axe.”
Diesa sighed. “Fine,” she said, and removed the intact head and two penises from the bodies. She placed them in the bag of colding.
The Brunch Club reached their previous night’s campsite before dark where they spent an uneventful night. In the morning they began the day long walk back to Elnor with their prize.
This tale will continue next week in Episode 24
Episode 22 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!