Tales of The Brunch Club 040 “Scarecrows, Pirates & Gnolls, Oh My!”

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Welcome to Episode 40 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 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 39, the Brunch Club devised a plan to kill two birds with one stone by pitting pirate against gnoll. Diesa forged a note to Captain Santiago, informing him that the treasure of Bonlodier was located in a cave to the North of Wheaton.

Despite this being fake news, the pirates were hooked and were seen dragging a cannon out of town equipped with grapeshot and fist-sized iron balls.

As the Brunch Club anxiously awaited the outcome of their plan, they tended to various needs at the Lighthouse. Bored and seeking entertainment, Diesa pitched a prank competition against Jory, who inadvertently dodged several attempts made against him, finally succumbing to a dirty prank enacted by Salys.

Several days later, the group scried on Captain Santiago, revealing a bloodied, scarred captain with two crew members running desperately for their lives.

Chapter 40 “Scarecrows, Pirates and Gnolls, Oh My!”

The weather was cold and grey when the brunch club set out the next morning, each exhale producing small white clouds of breath against the frigid morning air.

Elora led the party through the forest as they followed the deep, inset tracks of the cannon Captain Santiago’s crew had dragged to the gnoll encampment. With luck, or potentially misfortune, they hoped to intercept the small crew of pirates as they fled back to Wheaton.

One day into their travels, there was still no sign of the nefarious pirate crew. The party decided to set up camp for the night, taking turns on watch for the marauders or other monsters. They gathered around a small fire to ward off the cold bite of the winter air.

“So,” Drusilla began, “what should we do once we catch up to these pirates?”

The question was posed to the group, but each member was keenly aware of whose decision it really was. They looked to Jory for a response. The halfling was sitting cross-legged, a small trail of wine dripping to the bottom of his chin. He stared at the flames.

“Jory?” Diesa asked, prodding for a response. “Interrogate? Torture? Kill? Any of those sound like good options?”

Jory snapped out of his trance. “Oh, uh. I mean… I-I think we should interrogate them, and after that… a dead pirate is a good pirate.”

He looked to Diesa, “I think I need a disguise, though. If they recognize me… it might be trouble for us. Like, life or death trouble”

Diesa nodded, unfurling a pack with a variety of paints, adhesives, and dyes to help craft elaborate disguises. Diesa meticulously set to transforming Jory, elaborately detailing each wrinkle, bag of skin, and grey hair. When she was finished, his only distinguishing feature was the smell of alcohol on his breath.

“Welcome back, Gerry Atric.” She stated smugly as she appreciated her work.

It was early dawn the next day when Diesa and Drusilla heard the snapping of twigs outside the encampment. They looked to one another, and Drusilla nodded. Several more twigs snapped, and soon they could hear the thumping of boots, wheezing, and huffing.

Diesa quickly shuffled toward her companions, shaking each awake as Drusilla’s voice cut through the still air.

“Halt!” She exclaimed.

The shape of Captain Santiago and two crew members soon appeared in the early dawn light. The pirates were dirty, bloodied, and haggard in appearance, although it was unclear if this was a recent development or a consistent style choice. Captain Santiago’s coat was torn, and he donned a traditional pirate’s hat on his head. An enormous Macaw Parrot sat on his shoulder.

The rattled ship captain held his hands up in front of him, peering back over his shoulder in trepidation. He spoke in a gruff voice, “We don’t want any trouble with ye ma’am, we’ll just be on our way.”

The captain tip-toed around a root as he spoke, eyeing the elf.

“Neither do we,” Drusilla began, calm, “but, please, stay and have a word with us.”

The captain raised an eyebrow, “Well I’m sure yer company would be lovely,” he paused, looking Drusilla up and down, “but we had a bit of a run-in and really best be on our way.” The captain said, eager to keep moving.

“I insist. Stay.” Drusilla continued. The two pirates beside Captain Santiago faltered, looking to their captain for a directive.

“Pardon?” The Captain asked, now defensive.

Realizing she was perhaps coming off a bit strong, Drusilla softened her expression. “It’s just,” she continued, “we’re heading in the direction you just came from, and to be honest, you don’t look so good. If you’d just had a run-in… we’d really like to know what happened so that we can be prepared.”

Santiago sighed, “Fuckin’ daffodils and roses. We got some bad intel.”

Across the campsite, Jory stood up, theatrically groaning as he rose to a hunched position. Salys shot him a warning glance, trying to prevent the halfling from drawing attention to himself.

“Now, now, no need for such language!” Jory wheezed, cracking his back with a flourish.

“Uhh, good morning Grandpa,” Salys said as Jory reached over and squeezed her cheek.

“Good morning my beautiful granddaughter!” Drunk from the night before, he stumbled a bit. The pirates eyed the halfling but continued their attempt to tip-toe around the camp.

“Oh not so fast, gents! You look hurt!” Jory called to them, “You must be hungry! Please, let us help patch you up and get you a little snack.”

Suspicious, but clearly in need, the pirates relented. The party shared some meager rations with the worn pirates, and Jory grabbed his medical kit. His heart racing, Jory motioned to the pirates to draw nearer so he could tend to their wounds. As they approached, the stench of sweat and body odor cut through the air.

Captain Santiago’s shoulder was gashed, and his torn jacket matted with blood. The other pirates were covered in cuts, and one limped toward the fire. The silence was palpable and tense.

“I like your bird, what’s his name?” Drusilla asked, attempting to break the silence with small talk.

“George.” Captain Santiago responded, curt. The bright red parrot shuffled on his shoulder.

“Does George talk?” She pressed.

“Sometimes,” he side-eyed the bird. “George?” The enormous parrot simply fluffed its feathers, its beady eyes locked in a staring contest with Pip, who sat on Salys’ shoulder.

Pip, for a Pygmy owl, looked enormous. He had puffed his feathers and chest, staring back at the parrot as if to say, ‘come at me, bro’.

“George here has a taste for… shiny things” Santiago explained, as George cocked his head to the left.

Salys laughed, “Hm, we know someone like that.” She gave Diesa a look, and the corners of Diesa’s lips twitched slightly, almost as if to smile. She prodded at the fire as George cawed, “How much is it worth?!”

Sick of the small talk, Diesa looked up at Captain Santiago. “It looks like you had quite the encounter, for daffodils and roses. What was back there?”

He grunted. “Gnolls is what they’re called. They… walk like men, but they have the face of hyenas. Smelled like ‘em too.” His face twisted in disgust. “There was this one fucker, who had a three-headed flail. With one swing he took out three of my men.”

“That sounds awful,” Drusilla responded, “Were you able to take any of them out?”

“We got a few with our cannon, but that fucker with the flail smashed it to smithereens before too long.”

“I don’t know if we should go North, guys,” Jory responded, making his voice sound weak.

Captain Santiago eyed Jory, suddenly skeptical. “What’s yer name?’ He asked.

“Uh, Gerry.” He responded, looking down to avoid eye contact with the pirate.

Salys quickly intervened. “Yep! He’s my grandpa! He’s seen better days, but he’s a great forager.”

“Your grandfather is a halfling?” The pirate captain speculated, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah, uh… hehe. It’s a long story,” Salys began, “Root Run is a weird place.”

“It’s the third century, not the dark ages!” Gerry added with an anxious laugh.

Captain Santiago paused, and then straightened himself. “Well uh. We appreciate the fire and food but it’s really time we head off. Best of luck to yer crew.”

The pirates began to slowly back away from the fire, and the members of the brunch club began eyeing one another desperately, unsure of how to proceed.

Breaking character, Jory unhunched his back and spoke in his normal voice, calling after the retreating pirate captain. “Yeah, I bet you have to get back to the ship, right Captain?”

To his dismay, they seemed to begin walking with more fervor.

“Fuck,” Elora whispered. “Jory – shoot to kill, or no?”

Jory pondered for a moment. “Kill the spares, keep Santiago alive.” Then, maniacally, Jory sprinted after the pirates, launching a series of attacks with his darts. Despite his comically elder appearance, there was a nimble grace to his stumbling gait.

“Well, I guess we’re fighting.” Diesa pulled out her shortbow, sinking an arrow into the shoulder of one of the pirates. He grunted but continued to run.

Elora was next to shoot after pirates, narrowly missing one with her arrow.

“Ah, I’m rusty,” Elora muttered, annoyed. She knocked another arrow, following the movement of one of Santiago’s henchmen and taking a deep, calming breath. She loosed the arrow, which sank deep into the pirate’s skull. He fell forward, dead on impact.

Beside her, Salys’ eyes glowed green, her eyes locking on Captain Santiago. In moments, a ball of fire erupted from her fingertips, landing square on his back. He lurched forward, the leather of his coat bubbling from the heat. Despite her deadly aim, Santiago quickly recovered and continued running.

The party continued desperately launching attacks against the pirates as they ran. Jory, enraged and fearful of losing his opportunity for retribution, dashed after the pirate captain, shooting darts through the air.

“You didn’t find your map, did you, Captain?” He shouted, all adrenalin.

“Goddamn it,” Diesa muttered. Jory was out of range, squarely between the party and the retreating pirates. “What a shit show.” She groaned and began sprinting after her Halfling companion, whom she had grown begrudgingly fond of.

As she ran, she drew her shortbow, shooting, and missing Captain Santiago. “Fuck!” she yelled.

Elora followed suit, quickly firing a series of arrows at Captain Santiago and eventually hitting him square in the back. To her surprise, the captain continued this sprint. He was in rough shape, limping, bloodied, and air wheezing reluctantly from his lungs.

Salys shot another fireball at the captain, hitting him once more. He spun on his heel, raging. “I thought it was you,” Santiago shouted, glaring at Jory. He drew his pistol, shooting at his once-captive and narrowly missing.

“Dude, I’m right here!” Jory taunted. The Captain seemed to weigh his options momentarily. Quickly, he returned his pistol to his belt and began running once more, aware his life was on the line.

The Brunch Club continued their pursuit, fearful of what would happen should the pirates make it back to their ship. Arrows, darts, and magical attacks sang through the air, bringing down Santiago’s remaining companion.

Despite his resilience, a shot from Elora’s bow finally brought Captain Santigo to his demise.

Salys sighed. “We forgot about George.”

Quickly, she warged into Pip, flying off to locate the giant talking parrot. When she returned to her own body, she pointed him out to Elora.

A few feet away, Diesa had devised her own plan, scattering gold pieces around her feet in an attempt to attract the treasure-loving bird. She waited, ready to strike when George landed.

With terrifying accuracy, Elora shot the parrot with one of her arrows, killing him instantly. George plummeted in a blur of red feathers toward the scattered gold, landing in front of Diesa with a massive thud.

“Take this, bird-brain!” Diesa shouted as she drove the head of her axe through the parrot corpse, cleaving it in half.

“Don’t worry guys, I got him!” Diesa reported back to the party, returning her axe to her belt.

The party made quick work of looting the pirate corpses, yielding several gold pieces, a hand crossbow, and one half of a “Rockie Talkie”. With some effort, they dragged the corpses away from the trail, agreeing that the owlbears would surely enjoy the feast.

Discussing their next steps, they agreed that the best move would be to return to town to check on the pirate’s activities – it was possible Santiago had used his Rockie Talkie to tell his crew they had encountered gnolls, and the crew would soon realize their Captain is late to return.

Preparing to head back toward Wheaton, the party heard a shuffling behind them. Turning, three animated scarecrows approached and took hold of the pirate corpses, dragging them into the woods toward the gnoll fortress.

Diesa charged at one of the scarecrows, but as she ran toward them, she quickly froze. A deep fear ran through her body, and she found herself unable to move. Quickly, the rest of the party jumped to her aid.

Jory was able to stun one of the scarecrows, and Drusilla struck another with her guiding bolt. To finish the job, Elora and Salys quickly shot them down with a slew of lightning, fire bolts, and Phoenix arrow fire.

When the last of the scarecrows fell, Diesa jolted, released from her paralysis. She gasped for air. “Please,” she breathed, “can we get out of this fucking forest?”

The Brunch Club made it back to town on time for dinner and agreed that a visit to Saberhagen was in order once more. Leaving the dimly lit restaurant, they made a pitstop at the lighthouse to retrieve catnip for their feline patron.

To their shock, the lighthouse was in disarray. Drusilla’s potion materials were scattered throughout the lighthouse, and the bunk room was covered in giant white bird droppings.

Inspecting the droppings, Elora sighed. “Guys. This is definitely goose shit.”

Salys sighed, waving her hand to cast prestidigitation. In a moment, the white droppings disappeared. “Fucking goose.”

“Fucking goose.” The others agreed.

Drusilla continued up to the tower, the smell of greenery growing strong as she entered her greenhouse. To her dismay, the catnip hadn’t grown as much as they had hoped. She cast a plant growth spell on the plants in the room.

It was unsurprising that the plants began to grow, but Drusilla was shocked as the catnip erupted from their pots. Several window panes cracked as the plants burst out through the windows of the lighthouse.

“Oops!” Drusilla called from above. The elf disentangled herself from the vines and made her way downstairs.

“We might… need a different present for Saberhagen,” she observed, telling them the catnip needed time to dry. She dusted off her leather pants and sighed. After a moment of thought, Drusilla pulled a bright red parrot feather from her pouch and attached it to some string and a stick.

Satisfied with her work, she looked at her companions. “This should do!”

At the Sun Spot, the party presented Saberhagen with his gift, to which he purred with delight. “Oh my gods, you shouldn’t have!”

“Jenkins! Pick up that string and make the feather wiggle!” He exclaimed to Jenkins, circling his feet. Jenkins clapped twice with acknowledgment and dutifully took hold of the stick, bouncing the bright parrot feather through the air as Saberhagen beat at it with his paws.

“So, uh,” he continued as he swatted at the feather. “What can I help you with this eeeevening?”

The Brunch Club recounted their activity over the past two days.

Salys held out the scarecrow mask to the playing cat, “We took this… we were hoping it might help you scry on Rajat if it was sent by him.”

The wizard purred, “only one way to find out.”

Dismissing Jenkins, Saberhagen began his scrying spell, gazing into the still water of the shallow bowl. The Brunch Club stood silent, anxiously awaiting to hear his findings. Saberhagen’s tail twitched furiously.

When Saberhagen’s spell ended, a look of concern was washed over his feline face.

“I saw him,” he hissed. He looked at the group. “It’s not good.”

“What did you see?” Drusilla asked, encouraging the wizard to continue.

Saberhagen looked at her with a serious expression. “He was… speaking to his Warband of gnolls. He was speaking to a large one, with a flail on his hip.” He shook his head. “He looked furious…”

“What did he say?” Jory asked.

The party stared anxiously at the cat, waiting for his answer.

“He said, ‘Burn it to the ground.’” Saberhagen told them gravely.

Our tale will continue in Episode 41

Episode 40 was written by Dominic White, Bethany Powers, and myself, Brian Messmer.

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

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!

If you enjoyed this podcast, please help us out by sharing it with your friends and rating and reviewing us on your favorite podcast platform. We’d really appreciate it.

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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.