Tales of The Brunch Club 031 “Panic Cakes”

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Welcome to Episode 31 of the Rescued by Dragons fantasy podcast, Tales of the Brunch Club:

My name is Brian Messmer and I am not only your story teller, but the dungeon master behind the homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign this story is based on. Please join me as I tell the tale of how my players, and the dice, ruined and improved my perfectly laid plans.

But first, a quick recap…

In episode 30, The Brunch Club continued their mission for Solania beneath the ruins of the Temple of the Raven Queen. They killed some more undead and encountered an undead beholder. The Beholder disintegrated Salys into a pile of ash before being slain by multiple attacks. Vorjhon prayed to the dragon god, Bahamut, and offered to exchange his life for Salys’s. Bahamut agreed and the brunch club watched as the ash reformed into their sorceress gnome and Vorjhon disappeared scale by scale.

And now…

Episode 31, “Panic Cakes”

The surviving members of the Brunch Club sat silently in the eerily quiet room. Salys sat hugging her knees, pressing them against her chest. Everything she owned had been disintegrated by the beholder’s blast so she wore only Elora’s cloak and a pair of silver, dragon scaled boots. They had appeared on her feet when she was resurrected.

“What happened?” Salys asked after a few minutes.

They told her how she had been disintegrated by the Beholder and how after Vorjhon’s prayers, he disappeared and she came back to life. They also told her about hearing the paladin’s prayer speaking on the wind, in which he promised to protect them, or sacrifice his life if one of them should fall.

Salys rested her head between her knees and trembled slightly. “Vorjhon, you’re such an asshole,” she whispered as she raised her tear-stained face.

Drusilla stood up and walked to the door. She looked down the corridor and listened. She heard no sounds except for the torches burning on the walls. She reached out with her divine sense and tried to locate any undead creatures near them. She felt nothing.

“I think we killed the source of the undead,” Drusilla said, glancing at the lifeless corpse of the beholder.

Diessa began going through the undead corpses’ rotted clothing.

“Do you really think this is the time and place to be looking for gold?” Drusilla asked the rogue.

Diesa shrugged. “It’s always a good time and place to look for gold,” she said in a factual tone. “Besides, in case you hadn’t noticed, the bag of colding and everything in it disappeared with Vorjhon.”

“I wonder if that’s why he made us split the gold instead of having him carry it all,” Elora observed.

Drusilla sat with Salys while Diesa and Elora searched the room. They found nothing on the bodies or in the coffins but when they rolled the dead beholder to the side, they uncovered a leather bag in the corner. The bag contained a fair amount of gold pieces, old but fine jewelry, and a large gemstone.

“Well, at least this makes up for some of what Vorjhon took with him.” Elora said. Diesa scowled.

“Are you ready?” Drusilla asked Salys.

Salys nodded. As they exited the room, she glanced back at the last place she saw Vorjhon. She couldn’t shake the feeling they were leaving their friend behind.

They walked quietly, and cautiously back through the tombs, but they encountered no more undead. They took a break when they reached the room where the pair of enchanted suits of armor guarded one door.

“Should we try and see if there’s anything valuable in there?” asked Diesa.

“We’re a man down and I don’t think Salys is ready for a fight,” Elora answered.

“I got nothin’,” Salys admitted.

They continued through the long hallways and stairs until they reached the bulkhead doors. The enchanted runes that covered the inside of the doors when they first entered were now gone. Elora pushed up against them, expecting resistance from the beam they knew locked the doors from the outside. They opened easily, exposing the party to the chill of the pre-dawn air.

“Do you need my cloak?” Drusilla asked Salys as they walked down the deserted street.

“Thanks, but I’m actually pretty warm,” Salys answered. She took Elora’s cloak off and handed it to the cleric.

“What are you doing?” Drusilla asked her.

“I’m testing a theory,” Salys said. She walked a few steps ahead and held her arms out from her sides and took a deep breath. “Nope, still not cold!” she said with a smile. “I think Vorjhon’s boots are cold resistant. You can take your cloak back now, Elora.”

“Um, why don’t you hold onto it for a little longer, naked girl,” Elora laughed.

Modestly draped once again, Salys, Diesa, Drusila and Elora reached the Rampant Wizard Inn. Sadness came over them again when they realized they no longer needed a third room for Vorjhon.

When they got ready for bed, Salys tried taking the silver boots off, but no matter how she tugged, they just wouldn’t come off. She sighed and stared up at the ceilings, resigning herself to being stuck with the boots her friend left her with.

They slept into the early afternoon. Salys was still exhausted. Every joint and muscle in her body ached. They went to the closest tavern from the inn so Salys wouldn’t have to walk too far. It was a small establishment in an alley around the corner called The Shivering Nip. They sat in silence as they brooded and waited for their food.

Eating at taverns from Boughmoor to Elnor had made The Brunch Club something akin to epicureans when it came to tavern fare. Though not terribly picky or pompous about food, they had become appreciative of a well crafted meal, especially if that meal was brunch. Thus far, their favorite meals were at the Red Fin Fishery in Wheaton.

So it caught them by surprise, even in their state of mourning, that the meal brought to them by the young halfling in this tiny, alleyway tavern, was the best meal they had eaten in their travels thus far.

Within a half hour of the food’s arrival, they felt their spirits had been lifted, and Salys felt as though her constitution had improved slightly.

“We should toast Vorjhon,” Drusilla suggested, feeling somewhat less melancholy after the delicious meal.

They all heartily agreed and called out for a suitable beverage.

The halfling returned and began pouring some mead in each of their glasses.

As he filled the rest of their glasses, Diesa took a sip of hers.

“My gods, this is fucking good!” she exclaimed.

“Thank you, I make it myself,” the halfling said before he walked back into the kitchen.

“Diesa, you’re not supposed to drink before we toast,” Drusilla chided.

Diesa shrugged and took another sip. “I’ll drink then too,” she assured her.

They raised their glasses, but no one said anything. They looked awkwardly around the table, not knowing what to say.

After a moment, Drusila said, “I am over three hundred and fifty years old. In that time I have never known a more self-righteous pain in the ass than Vorjhon. But he was devoted to protecting us.” To her surprise, Drusilla felt tears well up in her eyes and she choked up for a brief moment. She recovered her composure quickly and continued. “I will miss that big shiny bastard.” She lifted her glass higher. “To Vorjhon, Bahamut’s greatest champion!” she exclaimed.

“To Vorjhon!” they shouted in unison, and downed their glasses. Diesa topped off her glass and they passed the bottle of delicious mead around the table until it was empty.

With their spirits drunk, and their spirits lifted, they finished brunch laughing and grateful for the fact that Salys was still with them and Vorjhon’s death had not been in vain.

They were mere yards from The Shivering Nip when they heard a familiar voice call out to them. “Excuse me! Wait! Excuse me!” the voice shouted.

They turned to see the halfling waiter running after them. He had medium length, Sandy hair, tan skin, and hazel eyes. He wore a green vest over a loose fitting shirt. Instead of shoes, he wore cloth wraps around his feet and ankles. He was still wearing his apron.

“Excuse me,” he said again. “You’re The Brunch Club, aren’t you?” he asked.

“We are,” Salys said, smiling at him.

“Hi, I’m Jory, Jory Quinshire,” he said nervously. He looked as though he suddenly noticed something. “Where’s the big silver one?” he asked.

“Not a good time to ask that,” Diesa said, coldly.

“Darn, I heard he was the nice one,” Jory said quietly to himself.

“What do you want?” Elora asked.

“Um, your protection,” the halfling answered.

“From whom?” Drusilla asked.

Jory looked around nervously. “It’s kind of a long story. If you follow me to my place, I can tell you. It’s not far.”

The Brunch Club looked at each other, wondering if they should trust this small stranger.

“I’ve got more mead,” Jory chimed in brightly.

“Let’s go!” Diesa replied.

They arrived at a row of small buildings in the Slate District. Jory led them to the smallest house, more of a shack, and unlocked the door. As he invited them in, he apologized for the lack of furniture. He stood some unsplit logs up on their ends to serve as makeshift stools for his guests.

The small house had only one room. There was no bed, or furniture of any kind except for a freestanding cupboard, one small chair, a small, beat up range, and a crate fashioned into a small table. A halfling sized bedroll leaned against the corner.

Jory retrieved five mismatched tankards from the cupboard and poured them all some mead.

“So who do you need protecting from?” Drusilla asked the halfling as she sipped the mead.

“Pirates,” Jory answered, and proceeded to tell them his story.

Up until a few months ago he lived in the Quartz District on the estate of the wealthy Dwarven merchant, Berrack Goldhammer. Jory’s parents ran Master Goldhammer’s domestic affairs and Jory worked there as well. One night, while drinking at a tavern in the Slate District, he befriended two sailors who bought him many drinks. The next thing he remembered was waking up on board a Drazeanean frigate miles off shore. He realized the two sailors were part of a press gang.

He was put to work in the galley to assist the ship’s cook, Coyra Elkean. Coyra was short for a half elf and had a slight build and fair skin. She looked frail and delicate compared to the burly, mostly human crew of the Roderick, but they treated her with fondness and respect. Coyra was an excellent cook, and an even better brewer of mead, which were two of the reasons the crew liked her.

Despite being well fed and happily drunk on mead, the crew was a rough one. One of their favorite past times was to make the least senior members of the crew fight each other and bet on the outcome.

Coyra prepared Jory by teaching him how to fight larger, stronger opponents by evading blows and using their own size, and momentum against them. Sharing his love of alcohol, she also introduced him to the teachings of the ancient philosopher / warrior Chencka Jia. – Now listener I want to butt in here and foreshadow something I think was really clever. The name Chencka Jia was thought up by Dominic White, for Jory’s Back story, and I still applaud his wit in thinking it up. The name is a scrambled reference to someone in the real world, but not even the other players figured it out for months. Now back to the story – Jia believed that by mixing moderate drinking with meditation, one could embrace the chaotic nature of the world and flow with its unpredictability instead of resisting it. He believed this also made one into a better fighter by keeping their opponents off guard, and taking advantage of the chaos of battle. This was something Coyra had taken to heart and further developed herself, before passing the knowledge on to Jory.

Her training worked well and kept him from getting beaten too badly at first. Eventually Jory developed into an elusive, entertaining fighter who became a crew favorite. He and Coyra also managed to win a lot of their shipmates’ gold by betting on him.

Eventually Jory became accepted as a member of the crew. Captain Santiago even let him send a letter home to his parents letting them know that he was safe. Despite missing home, he enjoyed cooking, brewing, and meditating with Coyra, and considered himself happy.

However, this happiness soon turned to terror, and heartbreak. Captain Santiago received orders that a merchant ship carrying documents which allegedly proved the existence of the legendary Lost Dwarven Treasure of Bohnlodir was sailing in nearby waters. These documents included a coded map with the treasure’s location. The captain’s orders were to find this vessel and convince them to come to Drazean where the Navy would assist them in finding and extracting the legendary enormous treasure, in exchange for an extravagant finding fee.

Captain Santiago wanted the treasure for himself and began a murderous campaign of terror looking for this ship. They ransacked many merchant ships and tortured the crews trying to find the Bhonlodir Documents. If they didn’t find them they burned and sank the ships so word of what they were looking for would not get out. A few crew members of the Roderick voiced objection to this plan, but they were threatened by the rest of the crew, who were infected by the same greed that gripped Captain Santiago.

Eventually they came across a smaller, but heavily armed ship that would not yield to their demands to be boarded. A surprise, close range broadside crippled the larger Roderick, but the experienced crew was able to board the smaller ship and overwhelm the crew. On this ship, they finally found the Bonlodhir Treasure Map. Santiago forced the survivors, along with his own crew’s dissenters, on to the sinking, burning wreckage of the larger ship Roderick, including Coyra. Jory begged Santiago to let him go with her, but he refused. The ship still needed a cook, and his silly fighting amused the crew, he told him. He watched with grief as Coyra and the burning Roderick disappeared over the horizon as they sailed away.

The pirates renamed their new vessel The Rod’s Revenge. They stayed at sea as long as they could. They avoided known shipping routes in hopes of remaining undetected while they tried to decipher the map. Occasionally they would slip into uninhabited lagoons where they would go ashore and find what they could to replenish the ship’s supplies.

Jory was miserable, and scared. The crew mistrusted him now based on his loyalty to Coyra. He survived by cooking the best meals he could, brewing new and delicious craft meads, and being even more theatrical with his pit fighting. When he wasn’t cooking, brewing, or fighting he spent all his time hiding from the crew, meditating on the teachings of Chencka Jia, and planning his escape.

After months of frustration at not being able to decipher the map, Santiago decided they needed to find a scholar to help, willingly or not. So they anchored in a well-hidden cove a few miles from Elnor, This was when Jory decided to make his escape.

That night, when everyone was asleep, Jory stole some supplies and a bag of coins from the ship’s stores, and snuck into the Captain’s quarters. He stole the map and documents from the desk and slipped over the side of the boat.

He went to the Goldhammer estate hoping to be reunited with his parents. When he got there the estate gates were locked. A couple of unfamiliar guards said Master Goldhammer had just left for a months-long tour of his various warehouse ports and took his entire staff with him. The guards had never heard of Jory, and he had no way of proving who he was. The gates seemed permanently shut for him.

Jory used some of the gold he stole to rent his little house and got a job as a cook at The Shivering Nip.

After Jory finished telling them his story, the small table crate was stacked high with pancakes he had been cooking the whole time.

“Um, you know we just ate, right? You were there,” Salys said, pointing at the flap jacks.

“Oh, yeah,” Jory said, looking embarrassed. “When I get panicked, I like to cook.”

“That’s quite a story,” said Drusila.

“How much can you pay us for our protection?” Diesa asked.

Jory looked even more embarrassed. “Um, I don’t have much money left. But I can cook for you! And you can have this.” He handed the rogue a thick scroll of multiple rolled up papers.

Diesa unrolled it. The top sheet was indeed a coded map to the Lost Treasure of Bohnlodir. She handed it to Salys who inspected it with interest

“Can you give us a minute?” Drusilla asked Jory.

Jory nodded and went to the opposite side of the small house where he was still comically close to the huddled group, and started cleaning up the mess he made cooking.

“What do you think?” Drusilla asked quietly.

“I don’t know, we’re not as powerful without Vorjhon, and taking on a tiny drunk seems like it might hurt us even more,” Elora said.

“He said he can fight, maybe he can hold his own?” said Salys, looking up from the map.

Diesa walked up to Jory and placed her cup on the crate next to him. “Can I get some more mead?” she asked.

Jory nodded. When he picked up the bottle and started pouring, Diesa lunged, and attempted to grapple him. Without interrupting his pour, he side-stepped away from her and grabbed a nearby frying pan with his free hand. He whacked Diesa in the face. She swung at him but he leaned backwards and kicked her stomach as her fist sailed over him. She bent over as the wind was knocked out of her. When she straightened up, Jory was holding the frying pan in front of her like a tray. In the center of the pan was a perfectly poured glass of mead.

Diesa huffed, swiped the glass off the pan, downed it in one gulp, and walked out of the house.

“We’ll talk about it tonight.” Drusilla said to Jory. “We’ll meet you at The Shivering Nip tomorrow with our answer.”

Salys handed Jory the map. “See you tomorrow, shorty,” she said, proudly standing stiff backed, a few inches taller than Jory.

Our tale will continue in Episode 32

Episode 31 was written by Dominic White and myself, Brian Messmer. The story is based upon my own homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Additional role playing contributions to the story by:

Ambiance and effects used with permission by Michael Ghelfi.

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Thank you for listening, and please join me next week to see what my players’ choices, and the roll of the dice, have in store.