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Welcome to Episode 33 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 32, The Brunch Club hadn’t decided on letting Jory join them yet, but did invite him to spend the day with them to see if he’d be a good fit. They bought Salys some new clothes and equipment to finally replace what she’d lost when she was disintegrated. Diesa, Elora and Jory entered a pit fighting tournament. Elora won a two hundred gold prize for coming in third place. They celebrated at a local tavern where a group of pirates recognized Jory. Before Drusilla could negotiate a price for the halfling, Diesa broke a bottle on the table and attacked the pirates. One of them picked up Jory and tried to get away with him, but he was stopped by Salys. The Brunch Club left the tavern in a hurry and decided staying at the Rampant Wizard Inn was no longer safe.
Episode 33, “Undercover Butler”
Diesa entered the large single room The Brunch Club had rented at the Victorian Inn. It was crowded but they hoped that renting only one room would disguise the fact that a group of five had checked in. She put the basket of fruit and bread on the small table in the middle of the room.
“Any sign of pirates out there?” Salys asked.
“Not that I saw,” Diesa said as she peeled an apple with her knife.
“Were you followed back?” asked Jory.
Diesa shot him a glaring look.
Jory took that as a “no”.
No one spoke while they ate breakfast.
“Jory, I want to apologize for the past couple days,” Drusilla said when they had finished eating. “Vorjon’s death affected me more than I want to admit, and I know if he were here, he’d want us to help you.”
“Yeah,” agreed Elora. “I was a bit mean to you too. I can’t really call myself a monster hunter if I become a monster. And I don’t want to become what I hunt.”
“Vorjhon was kind of our moral compass,” agreed Salys. “He gave his life for me, but he’d have given it for any one of us. We owe it to him to try and be good.”
“Um, exactly how good do you think he’d want us to be?” asked Diesa, wondering if ‘being good’ meant she had to stop stealing shiny objects that caught her eye.
“Does this mean you’re not going to dress me up like a little girl?” Jory asked, hopefully.
“I’m not saying it’s off the table,” Drusilla smiled at him. “But if someone has another idea…”
“Let me give it a shot,” Diesa said. She rummaged through her rucksack and pulled out a strip of rolled canvas. When she unrolled it they could see it had pockets for makeup brushes, tubes of grease paint, and other items that made up a theatrical makeup kit. She told Jory to sit on the low coffee table in front of her and she got to work.
When she was done, Jory stood before them as an elderly halfling. His hair was gray, and cut to make it look like it was thinning. His eyebrows were white and bushy. He had a scraggly chin beard, and dark circles under his eyes. A rolled up pillow case in his shirt gave his belly a paunch.
They were all impressed by the transformation.
“Something’s still missing,” Drusilla said, though she couldn’t identify what it was.
“I think I know,” said Jory.
He borrowed Salys’s staff and held it like a walking stick. He bent forward slightly and began using the staff to walk gingerly around the room.
He said in a strained shaky voice. “Hello there. My name’s Jerry. Jerry Atric. It’s nice to see young people these days taking an interest in adventuring. Why, back in my day…”
Diesa threw a piece of bread at him to make him stop.
“Now it’s perfect,” Drusilla said.
Jory bowed, taking credit for his performance.
“Who’s the young halfling playing dress up?” asked a voice that belonged to no member of The Brunch Club.
They all leapt to their feet and pointed their weapons at the cloaked figure who suddenly stood in the small room with them.
She pulled her hood back from her face.
The Brunch Club relaxed and put their weapons away.
Jory stood wide eyed and amazed. “Solania!” he said with star-struck reverence.
Solania made herself as comfortable as she could in the cramped room. They offered her the room’s only chair, and she accepted. The rest of them sat on the two beds, except for Diesa. She stood leaning against the door with her arms crossed.
They started to tell her what happened in the crypts beneath the ruins of the old Raven Queen temple, but she stopped them, offering to wait until Vorjhon joined them.
She looked genuinely sad when they told her what happened to Vorjhon. She also looked disappointed. After a moment’s pause she bade them to tell her what happened.
“An undead beholder. That is unusual,” said Solania when they finished their tale.
She also told them that the room guarded by the magical suits of armor was the tomb of the great warrior, Siriden Hindel. The guards were animated constructs known as helmed horrors, created specifically to guard Hindel’s resting place.
She thanked them for uncovering the source of the undead and killing the beholder. She told Drusilla she could keep the license to use divine magic while in Elnor, but asked her to only use it when absolutely necessary. She also told them she would start the process of getting them access to the library
She looked as though she was about to share something with them, but then stopped, and rose to leave.
“Solania,” Drusilla asked. “What did you want to use Vorjhon for?”
“Yeah, we know about the note you had given to him at Lady Tiroll’s,” said Salys.
Solania sat back down. She thought about where to begin, and decided to start at the beginning.
“Centuries ago, Elnor was ruled by a triumvirate of powerful clerics. Magic users such as myself, and Salys, were considered abominations and hunted as heretics. The clerics, with no one to check their power, became corrupt, and the citizens of Elnor suffered. Eventually a group of five powerful mages began a secret teaching college where they taught other gifted people the arcane arts. They also rallied the oppressed people and together they overthrew the triumvirate. Those five mages were the original Council of Five. They tore down all the temples, banished the clerics, and made divine magic ilegal inside the city walls.”
“They took their mage college out of the shadows and invited anyone around the world to study there. They took every book, scroll, journal, and sketchbook from all the temples and used them to start the Crystal Spire Library’s vast collection. It ushered in the golden age of arcane magic and made Elnor the education capital of the world. But just like the clerics of old, without anyone to check their power, the Council of Five eventually became as corrupt as the triumvirate they had overthrown. Once again, the common people suffered.”
“I want to restore the clerics to Elnor, and reshape the government to one ruled by clerics, wizards, and common citizens. Vorjhon told me he would help, but now that he’s gone…” her voice trailed off. The look of disappointment once again appeared on her face.
“Why can’t we help you?” Drusilla asked. “I am a cleric of the Raven Queen, and I would like to see her temple restored to its former glory.”
“He took a death ray for me. I’m in,” said Salys.
“Sounds like fun,” Elora added.
“So, how exactly are we supposed to help you?” Diesa said, sounding unimpressed. “We got our asses kicked by Ahura Mazda, and lost one of our own to a rotting beholder. How are we supposed to take on a bunch of power hungry wizards?”
Jory looked appalled. “Don’t talk to Solania that way!” he scolded Diesa.
The rogue rolled her eyes at him and waited for Solania’s answer.
“She’s right,” Solania said, agreeing with the surly rogue. “I would never ask you to take on Ilian and his supporters.”
“Ugh, I knew Ilian was a creep!” scoffed Elora.
Solania smiled, then continued. “I need you to find someone for me. A wise old hermit named Kalavar. He is very powerful and could help check the Council’s power while a new government is formed. He may not be willing to help though, so I need you to convince him on my behalf.”
Diesa cracked her knuckles. “I think we can convince him.”
“How do we find him?” asked Drusilla.
“He lives on a rocky island twenty miles east of here. The waters are treacherous, but it’s a day’s sail, if you leave early enough. There’s a boat named “The Damsel” at the docks. Captain Butler is expecting you tonight so he can set sail with the tide before dawn.”
“Is there anything you can tell us that might help convince him?” Salys asked.
“A gift for him is already on the ship. When you present it to him, tell him, ‘The foundation of Elnor continues to crumble. Solania has upheld her end of the agreement and humbly asks your assistance in setting Elnor right.’”
They all agreed they would help and would be on The Damsel that evening.
“Great. Another ship,” Jory muttered, but agreed to go along.
Solania thanked them, and again gave her condolences to the fallen Vorjhon, before disappearing through a portal.
The sun was setting as they walked through the Port District. They could hear the creaking of masts, the hum of wind through an infinite number of ropes, and the call of gulls circling the docks, looking for scraps.
Jory noticed a larger number of gulls on the boardwalk nearby. They were circling above an open air market.
“I’ll be right back,” he told his companions, as he hobbled quickly away, committing to his Jerry Atric disguise.
He returned a few minutes later. A large burlap sack was slung over his shoulder. It almost touched the ground and he was struggling to carry it.
“Give me that,” Diesa said as she grabbed the sack and flung it over her shoulder with ease.
“Thank you,” Jory said. “Don’t look inside. It’s a surprise.”
Diesa grunted and they continued to The Damsel.
They announced who they were and Captain Butler invited them aboard. The Captain was average height for a human. He was clean shaven and had close cropped hair and brown eyes. He had the face of a sailor exposed to years of sun and salt water.
“I recognize you!” Elora exclaimed when they reached the deck. “You’re the bartender that gave Vorjhon the note at Lady Tiroll’s party,” she then added in a quieter, more conspiratorial tone.
Captain Butler bowed. He replied, “At your service.”
“What’s that?” Salys asked. She pointed at what appeared to be an elf-sized statue wrapped in quilted blankets and rope being loaded onto the ship.
“I believe that’s what you’re supposed to deliver,” Butler told them. “Come, let me show you to your cabins.”
“Can you point me to the galley?” asked Jory.
The boat was underway and well out of Elnor harbor when the Brunch Club gathered on deck in the morning. There was no sign of Jory. They noticed the crew were all smiling. Most had mugs with steam visible from their hot contents. Some were holding plates or had empty plates next to them.
Captain Butler approached them. He smiled happily. “Thank you for sharing your cook with us! This is the best breakfast our crew has had in a long time. We don’t have a cook, we usually just take turns, but now I think I might have to spend the money for one!”
“Hi guys,” Jory said behind them. He was out of his Jerry Atric disguise and holding a tray. It had four mugs and four plates of what looked like waffles, but they were orange. “Want some pumpkin waffles?”
“That sounds weird,” said Diesa, but they all tried some.
“These are delicious!” Drusilla said.
“So good,” agreed Elora.
“Better than I was expecting,” offered Diesa, who then asked, “What’s in the mugs?”
“I call it ‘Pumpkin Spice Foamy Coffee’,” Jory said proudly. Even though no one asked, he began a detailed description of the recipe. “The tricky part was rapidly whisking milk over a low fire to make it frothy before it burns.”
The hot drink tasted like pumpkin pie. It was especially enjoyable in the cool, brisk ocean air that blew across the deck.
“Ew! Gross.” gagged Diesa. “This tastes like a toddler’s drink.”
“Some people don’t like it,” Jory admitted. “I guess there’s no accounting for taste. I’ll go get you some black coffee.”
They stood on deck, sipping their coffee, waiting for the island to appear on the horizon.
Salys took out her scroll of find familiar and sat on the deck. As she read it, they saw the familiar sight of the letters glowing, then burning away. When she was done, a small white pygmy owl stood in the ashes.
“Where are we? What the hell happened in the tomb? I thought we died!” Pip looked around him nervously, trying to adjust to his sudden surroundings.
“It’s okay,” said Salys in a soothing voice. “We’re fine.”
Pip looked up at Jory. “Who’s the short one?”
“That’s Jory,” Salys said, then finished the introduction. “Jory, this is Pip.”
“What’s going on?” Jory asked, visibly confused.
“This is Salys’s familiar,” explained Drusila. “He understands us and can talk, but only Salys hears him.”
“Wow!” said Jory. “You guys are so cool!”
“Hey. Wait a second,” Pip said to Salys as he swiveled his head from side to side. “Where’s the big dumb dragonborn?”
Salys told Pip everything that happened and how Vorjhon gave his life to save them. Pip stared at her and said nothing. His beak quivered. His eyes watered. “I can’t believe his gone!!!” he wailed. Tears streamed down his feathers. He buried his face in Salys’s shoulder and wept.
“There. There,” said Salys softly as she gently patted him on the back.
The Brunch Club sat on deck. The island had become visible on the horizon, but the head winds were causing them to have to tack and jibe rather than make for it in a straight line. Their progress was agonizingly slow.
“Sailing is boring,” Elora observed.
“Yeah,” Jory agreed. “They don’t sing about this part in the ballads.”
The group said nothing for a few moments as the wind breezed across the deck. Every minute their vessel crawled slowly towards their destination.
A sudden lurch of the boat caught them off guard, causing them to almost fall ove. They felt the wind pick up. Waves crashed against the hull on both sides and sent water spraying over the deck.
“This doesn’t feel right,” Jory said. The worried look on his face concerned the others.
They stood up and fastened the safety lines around their waists.
The waves pummeled the boat even faster now and the wind whirled around them. Captain Butler called for the sails to be furled in. The last sailor was climbing down from the mast when he was hit by a wave that knocked him across the deck.
“Woah! Did you see that wave?” Diesa shouted over the roar of the ocean.
“That’s not a wave,” Captain Butler said, coming up behind them. His shirt was off, revealing a well-muscled torso, which Elora approved of.
The water that had splashed across the deck, pooled together and rose up in the form of a large humanoid. It had no legs, but moved around the deck easily on a column of water. It had large arms and hands which it used to pick up the dazed crewman and slam him down into the deck head first, breaking his neck with a sickening snapping noise.
The Brunch Club drew their weapons. Captain Butler drew a scimitar that seemed to glow and shimmer. “It’s a water elemental,” he said. “They’re hard to kill. Magic works best,” he told them as he raised his sword and charged.
Elora’s phoenix arrow beat him to the creature. Steam hissed from its front and back as the arrow seared through it and returned to Elora’s quiver.
Captain Butler sliced an arm off the watery beast. It fell to the deck and collapsed into a large puddle.
Drusilla called forth a sacred flame on the creature. It gurgled and seemed to arch back in pain as steam poured off it. It swung wildly with its remaining arm and knocked Captain Butler off his feet. Then it charged Drusilla and punched her in the chest with a fist the size of her torso. The cleric grunted with pain but managed to keep her feet.
Salys fired several magic missiles into the beast. The surface tension that bound the water in its elemental form seemed to shake and tear apart.
Jory saw his chance and kicked it twice. He followed the kicks with two quick punches which was enough to reduce it to a harmless puddle.
Another wave crashed over the side of the boat and morphed into a second elemental. It attacked Drusilla with another powerful blow to her chest, which knocked her unconscious. She looked immediately pale. The others knew she’d been critically wounded.
“Diesa! Jory! Help Dru! We’ll hold it off!” shouted Elora as she sunk two more phoenix arrow shots into the creature.
“Will fire do more damage to it?” Salys asked the captain as she raised her hands.
“Please do NOT conjure fire on my boat!,” implored Butler as he charged the creature.
“Good point,” said Salys. She fired another volley of magic missiles at the water elemental. It staggered back upon the impact.
Jory held Drusilla’s head up while Diesa poured a healing potion into her mouth. She coughed and sat up.
“Thanks, I needed that,” she said.
Elora and Salys hit the water elemental again, wounding it enough for Captain Butler to finish it off with a final swing of his scimitar.
They all got in defensive positions, waiting for the next elemental to appear, but none did.
The waves calmed down and the wind returned to a gentle breeze.
Our tale will continue in Episode 34
Episode 33 was written by Dominic White and myself, Brian Messmer. The story is based upon my own homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
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!