Tales of The Brunch Club 039 “Fist-Sized Balls”

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Welcome to Episode 39 of the Rescued by Dragons fantasy podcast, Tales of the Brunch Club:

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

But first, a quick recap…

In episode 38, The Brunch Club scouted the gnoll encampment to the north and discovered it fully fortified. Elora merged her consciousness with Copper’s and snuck within earshot of the camp. She learned the gnoll shaman was performing a ritual to turn an ordinary gnoll into a super gnoll called a Flind.

On the way back to Wheaton they encountered a larger than average white goose who tried to steal Jory’s spatula. They feared it might be Rajat wildshaped into goose form and attacked it. All of their attacks either failed to hit or did no damage. The goose vanished before they could attempt to attack it again.

And now…

Episode 39: Fist-Sized Balls

The Brunch Club sat in Saberhagen’s cozy upstairs study. Jory tossed bits of cooked fish to Saberhagen as the rest of the group discussed what to do about the gnolls to the north.

The group agreed they could not simply sit and wait for Wheaton to be attacked again.

“We could try to find Chad and Thad,” Salys suggested.

“They’d want us to pay them,” said Elora.

“We could offer them a share of the loot,”

“Even if these guys are that good, two more people isn’t going to make a difference against a bunch of gnolls, a flind, and Rajat,” the Ranger countered.

“We could start a rumor that there’s treasure in the cave,” Diesa quipped. “Maybe a few groups of adventurers would go up there looking for it and thin their ranks a bit.”

“Sounds promising,” said Drusilla. “But how do we start that rumor?”

Elora chuckled, “That sounds like the perfect job for Salys and Diesa.”

Salys sat up. She enthusiastically suggested, “Diesa and I could go to a thieve’s bar and pretend to have a quiet conversation about the treasure and how to get it…”

“But it wouldn’t really be quiet,” said Diesa, finishing the thought for her.

“Um, guys,” Jory interjected. “As promising as that sounds, we’d be sending people to their probable death. I don’t feel good about killing innocent… well, innocent thieves.”

The group sat in deflated silence. Saberhagen looked at Jory and cleared his throat, indicating that the halfling should resume feeding him.

“Oh, sorry,” Jory said to him. “I was just thinking…” his voice trailed off as he rummaged through his pack. He withdrew the map to the Lost Treasure of Bonlodhir and placed it next to Saberhagen. “You could scry on someone who’s touched that, right?”

“I could,” Saberhagen confirmed, then added, “but a description of the person would help immensely.”

Jory described Captain Santiago and his ship, “The Rod’s Curse” to the wizard in every detail he could remember.

“Jenkins!” Saberhagen called out to his familiar. The sound of two quick handclaps came from another room. “Bring me the scrying bowl!”

Saberhagen stared into the glowing water that filled the shallow bowl. “I see him,” he said. “The captain and his ship are in a cove just to the north of Elnor.”

An uncharacteristically evil grin formed on Jory’s face. “I think I have a plan,” he said. “Why don’t we give The Rod’s Curse an ‘anonymous’ tip that the ‘halfling and the map they seek’ are in a fortified cave to the northwest of Elnor? Let’s have them take out some gnolls for us.”

“How do you know the gnolls won’t kill them instead?” asked Salys.

“Who cares?” answered the halfling. “The worst-case scenario is the gnolls kill the pirates. Best case scenario is they wipe out each other.”

“I thought you didn’t want to see innocent people get killed?” Drusilla said.

Jory’s face fell into a dark expression. Images of strangers and friends left to burn and drown flickered through his mind. “They’re not innocent,” he stated with conviction.

“I like this plan!” exclaimed Diesa. “I’m all in!”

Diesa forged a note she was confident would bait greedy pirates. They sent it to the ship via carrier pigeon.

In exchange for the promise of more fish, Saberhagen agreed to scry on Captain Santiago once a day to track the pirates’ progress or see if they even took the bait.

Drusilla spent the following morning trimming and watering her plants. The crop of catnip she started cultivating in the windows of her alchemy lab was growing nicely. Once she was finished she took a moment to appreciate the magnificent view of the harbor the top of the former lighthouse afforded her. That was when she saw it.

“Get up here now guys! You need to see this!” she shouted down to her companions.

The rest of The Brunch Club rushed up to the top floor. They followed Drusilla’s gaze out into the harbor.

“Ho-ly fuck,” said Diesa.

“Is that..?” Elora began asking.

“The Rod’s Curse?” finished Jory. “Yeah. It is. What the hell are they doing here?”

“They probably looked at a map and realized this was the shortest way to the gnoll camp by land,” said Elora.

“What do we do?” Jory asked. There was panic in his voice.

“Nothing,” Drusilla said calmly. “We stay here and watch them.”

They watched the Rod’s Curse glide into the harbor, drop its sails, and tie up at the main dock. The ex-navy ship dwarfed the small fishing boats around it. With military precision, the crew unloaded a cannon with two large wheels fixed to each side. Fifteen pirates disembarked and marched into town, led by Captain Santiago.

From their perch above the harbor, they watched the captain and two pirates go into Druron’s blacksmith shop while the rest milled about outside with the cannon.

After a few minutes, the three men emerged from Druron’s. The pirates marched through Wheaton’s north gate and into the forest.

“What now?” Jory asked.

“Let’s go see what they wanted with Druron,” said Drusilla.

“There’s still about five or ten pirates left on that ship,” Jory said worriedly. “Maybe I should stay here.”

“No problem,” Diesa reassured him. “We’ll just get you back to being Jerry Atric.”

The Brunch Club, with Jory disguised as an old halfling, stood in Druron’s blacksmith shop.

“They seemed pretty odd to me,” Druron admitted to them after being asked about his visit from the three strangers. “Usually when ships like that come in they want things repaired. Fittings, turnbuckles, that kind of thing. These guys just wanted grape and chain shot.”

“Grape and chain shot?” asked Drusilla.

“Grapeshot is a lot of little iron balls that get shot from a cannon at once,” Jory explained. “It’s used for killing soldiers on deck. Chain shot is two fist-sized balls connected by a chain. They’re for bringing down masts or tearing through rigging and sails.”

“Heh, you said “fist-sized balls,” snickered Elora. Salys and Diesa snickered.

“Did you sell that stuff to them?” Drusilla asked.

“Only the grapeshot. I have to make the chain shot. They said they’d be back in 3 or 4 days to pick it up.”

“Man, ship battles sound terrifying,” said Salys as they left Druron’s and headed to the Sun Spot.

“Yeah,” said Jory softly.

“They are in the forest heading in the direction you told them to,” said Saberhagen as he stared into the scrying bowl. “They are moving at a steady pace, but the cannon is slowing them down.”

“Are they saying anything?” Drusilla asked.

“No,” answered Saberhagen.

“It took us almost two days to get there and we didn’t have a cannon,” observed Salys.

“They’ll get there by the end of tomorrow, but they’ll wait till sunrise to attack if they’re smart,” said Elora with confidence.

Jory agreed. “They were part of the Drazeanean navy before they became pirates. They’re well trained.”

The group thanked Saberhagen, gave him some fish, then went to get brunch.

“We’ve got a couple of days to kill, what should we do?” Salys asked as they finished their after-brunch mimosas.

“I should brew some healing potions,” Drusilla said.

“I want to see what kind of fish I can catch from our lighthouse. Maybe do some crabbing,” said Jory.

“I want to knit some catnip bags for Saberhagen,” said Elora.

“I’m gonna do nothing,” said Diesa. But she was lying. She knew exactly what she was going to do. She smiled inwardly and downed her mimosa.

Diesa sat alone in the common room on the first floor of the lighthouse. She hadn’t forgotten the first day they met Jory. Specifically, how he had embarrassed her by not only evading her attack but also kicking her in the face, all while pouring a perfect glass of mead and handing it to her on a frying pan used as a tray.

This was finally the day she was going to get him back. She rummaged through her pack and found the length of rope she was looking for. She arranged it in a circle on the floor just outside the kitchen. After rigging the rest of the snare trap, she covered it with dust to make it blend in with the stone floor. She baited it with a bottle of mead right in the center.

“Whatcha doin’?” asked Salys when she entered the lighthouse with Elora and Copper.

“I’m gonna catch Jory in a snare trap,” she answered, matter of factly.

“Why?” Elora asked.

“Why not?” Diesa said.

“I wanna see this!” said Drusilla from the steps she had just descended.

They all sat in the common room, drinking mead and wine waiting for Jory to return.

Several glasses later, they were all feeling pretty tipsy when Jory walked in the door. He was carrying five large fish.

“Hi! I got us dinner!” he said, and headed straight for the kitchen. “Oh look, one of you left your mead here,” he called out to them, stepping gingerly in and out of the trap.

Salys, Drusilla, and Elora tried not to laugh as Diesa angrily got up to grab the mead off the floor. They burst out laughing when Diesa accidentally set off her own trap. It closed around her arm, but the snare was not well-tied and it slipped harmlessly off the rogue’s arm instead of hauling her up.

“Hahaha! Oh, nice trap, Diesa,” laughed Elora.

Salys and Drusilla were laughing too hard to speak.

“I’d like to see you do better,” Diesa snapped at the ranger.

“Five silver says I do,” challenged Elora.

“Oh I want in on this,” Drusilla said.

“Same!” exclaimed Salys.

The next morning Jory got up early to see if he could catch some of the crabs that lived near the shore of their island. While he was out Elora set her snare trap up outside the lighthouse door. She left the door open so the four women could see what happened from their seats in the common room.

It wasn’t long before they saw Jory running up the path to the lighthouse. He was hopping and twisting and flailing his arms. As he got closer they could see he had crabs clinging to him with their claws. There were a couple on his clothes. One was grabbing his hair. Another was clamped on his big toe, causing the erratic hopping. He was waving one hand trying to get a crab off his finger and juggling another crab in his other hand trying to keep it from pinching him. He was running so fast he jumped right over Elora’s snare trap.

“Thanks for leaving the door open for me!” he said cheerfully as he bound into the kitchen.

Elora folded her arms and huffed as Salys and Drusilla laughed.

“See? Not so easy, is it?” smiled Diesa.

Jory prepared some of the crab meat for Saberhagen and they went back to The Sun Spot for their daily pirate update.

The feline wizard was waiting for them in his upstairs sanctum. The scrying bowl was already prepared.

The glowing water coalesced into an image and Saberhagen described what he saw: The pirates were making progress and seemed to be on schedule.

Saberhagen heard one of the pirates grumble, “Be easier without the cannon.”

“Yeah. A bit overkill if you ask me,” said another.

A quiet, but gruff and authoritative voice interrupted their chatter, “If you underestimate your enemy, you don’t get another chance to overestimate them,” Captain Santiago snarled at them.

There was no more talking after that.

With nothing else to do but wait until tomorrow, they headed back to their island.

As they walked up the path toward the lighthouse, Drusilla slowed down slightly, letting Jory pass. She motioned for the other three women to slow down with her. “I put a tripwire inside the door,” she whispered to them. They stayed back far enough making sure Jory would enter first.

He pulled open the door and turned around. “What are you guys doing all the way back there?” He asked. His act of turning while stepping forward threw off his stride and he tripped on the step to the threshold. The nimble halfling managed to regain his balance by hopping on one leg, right over Drusilla’s tripwire.

“No silver for Drusilla,” Diesa sang softly to the group as Salys and Elora laughed.

While Jory cooked up some more fish in the kitchen, and Drusilla crafted some more potions in her alchemy lab on the top floor, Salys, Diesa, and Elora sat in the common room. Elora knitted catnip bags for Saberhagen while Copper slept next to her side. Salys napped on the couch with Pip snuggled up against her arm. Diesa sat at the table tying a snare trap over and over again, trying to figure out where she went wrong. The calmness of the afternoon was broken by the sound of a loud commotion coming from the docks.

It was loud enough to wake up Copper and Salys, but not Pip, so Salys tucked him in the hood of her robe as they climbed the stairs to the top of the lighthouse.

From Drusilla’s alchemy lab they had a clear view down to the deck of The Rod’s Curse. All of the sailors were trying, in vain, to catch a large white goose that was waddling quickly away from them, just fast enough to stay out of their grasp.

They noticed the rigging was cut in several places. Several sails had long gashes in them. One sail and yardarm were completely off the mainmast and strewn across the bow of the deck.

A woman in a tricorn hat stood up by the helm and shouted at the crew. “What are you doing? Get him! It’s only a goose!” she screamed with commanding fury.

“But… but…” one of the crew stammered, “He’s got a knife!”

Upon closer inspection, The Brunch Club noticed the goose did indeed have a dagger clutched in its beak.

Without hesitation, they ran down the steps to their own little dock and jumped in their rowboat. On the way, Jory stopped in the kitchen to get something.

Diesa and Drusilla rowed them toward the pirate ship. Jory and Salys called out, “Here goose! Here goose!”

“HONK!” Elora called out loudly.

The goose turned and looked at them. Even though it was looking away, it still managed to sidestep and evade the pirates’ lunges. It hopped up on the gunwale and jumped down into the water.

“Tell it I have food,” Jory said to Elora.

“I don’t speak goose, you idiot,” Elora said.

“But, you honked,” said Jory. He turned his attention back to the goose. “Hey, I have the spatula!” Jory held up the spatula the goose had previously tried to take. He waved it in the air. “You want it?”

The goose rapidly swam up to the boat, cocked its head, and looked at Jory.

“Do you need help? Are you cursed or something?” Jory asked.

The goose took the spatula.

They watched the goose turn and swim away.

Diesa noticed the crew of The Rod’s Curse was watching the goose too.

“Hey boys!” She shouted up to them. “You like to party?”

The pirates looked at each other, then at the fiery first mate that stood by the helm. “Um, no, we’re busy.”

“C’mon, why don’t you invite us up? We have mead!” Diesa insisted.

“What are you doing?” Jory whispered loudly at her.

“Just follow my lead, crazy drunk people are way less suspicious than crazy non-drunk people.”

“Oh man, this is crazy, but I’m down,” said Salys.

The first mate strode purposefully over to the crew and yanked them back from the gunwale. She looked down at The Brunch Club and shouted, “You! Fuck off!”

“Do you like to party?” Diesa shouted back up at her.

The first mate turned without answering and walked away to tend to her ship’s repairs.

“Too bad,” said Diesa as she started rowing back to their island. “She was hot.”

It was near dark. A fire warmed the common room. Dinner was over and Jory excused himself. He went outside, heading to the outhouse.

Salys smiled, waited a few moments, then got up to open the door. She motioned the others over but put her finger to her lips telling them to stay quiet.

A few moments later they heard a shriek, then Jory scream, “What? How? Oh no… Ewww…!”

“What did you do?” Drusilla asked.

“I cast an illusion on the toilet to make the hole look like it was a few inches over,” Salys said proudly.

“Oh, that’s just evil,” Elora laughed.

They heard the outhouse door slam. They peered through the door and watched the silhouette of Jory waddle down to the shore with his pants around his ankles.

When they saw him walking back they ran to their seats.

Jory walked in. He had a confused look on his face. His shirt was wrapped around his waist to cover himself modestly. He clutched his pants in his hand. They dripped with seawater.

“What happened?” Salys asked, trying to keep a straight face.

“I think the lighthouse is still haunted,” he said, his voice a little shaky. “The toilet… moved.”

“That sounds scary,” Drusilla cooed. “You poor thing.”

“Sounds shitty,” said Diesa.

“I’m just going to go to bed,” the confused halfing said as he trudged upstairs to his room.

They waited until they heard his door close then let their laughter escape them. Salys held out her hand so they could all place five silver pieces in her palm.

“Worth every copper,” Diesa smiled.

The next morning they sat in front of Saberhagen, eagerly waiting for him to scry on Captain Santiago.

The cat stared into the bowl. The water, his eyes, and his collar all glowed the same light green color. They saw his pupils widen as the image began to coalesce.

Captain Santiago was running through the woods. He was running fast. His face was bloody. Saberhagen couldn’t tell if the blood was from wounds, or the branches he was ignoring in his panic. The image zoomed out. There were only two others with him. They also had panic in their eyes. Their clothes were stained with blood and they all seemed to have at least minor injuries, but it was not enough to slow them down.

“I guess it didn’t go so well,” said Diesa.

“What now?” asked Salys.

“I don’t know. Maybe once they reach the ship they’ll just sail away?” said Drusilla.

“Or they’ll want to know who sent them up there to get slaughtered,” muttered Elora.

“We need to find out what happened and if they killed any of the gnolls,” said Jory.

“I agree,” said Diesa. “We should intercept them as soon as possible. Before any of their crew goes looking for them.”

They thanked Saberhagen and hurried back to the lighthouse to get supplies before heading out into the forest.

When Jory went to his room to get his gear he noticed something shiny resting in the middle of his bed.

It was his spatula.

Our tale will continue in Episode 40

Episode 39 was written by Dominic White, Bethany Powers, and myself, Brian Messmer.

Valuable contributions to the story were added by the role playing of:

The recording of our Dungeons and Dragons game session that inspired this episode will be available on our podcast channel this Thursday under the name, Brunch Club LIVE!

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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.