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Welcome to Episode 45 of the Rescued by Dragons fantasy fiction 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 adventure 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 44, the Brunch Club returned to Elnor and bade farewell to Kalavar. During dinner with Solania they learned that the unfriendly librarian, Shittman, was obsessed with all things Elvish. Drusilla shared her prophecy with him in exchange for the location of a touch point where they would be able to send Rajat to the Feywild. Schittman was thrilled with the prophecy. He told them it was most likely the long-lost first half of the Moon Fall prophecy that foretold the emergence of an ominous presence called “The Hungerer.” The librarian shared some information related to Elora’s past with the Obsidian Watch and told them the closest Fey touch point was near the Gates of Tor in the Aegis mountains.
Chapter 45 “The Weird Stuff Costs More”
The Brunch Club left the Crystal Spire Library feeling more hopeful than they had in quite some time. They didn’t have what would be called a ‘fully formed plan,’ but they had a destination, which was more than they had before.
This newfound purpose, or newfound direction at least, rode with them as they descended steep cliffs in magic elevators to Elnor’s Dock District.
They found the harbor master’s office and asked if there were any ships sailing to Sturgeon leaving soon.
The Harbor Master informed them that the light merchant vessel, “Scallywag” was leaving for Sturgeon at first light tomorrow morning. He told them where on the docks the vessel was berthed.
With the salty beard, tanned skin, crinkled eyes and bandana around his neck, Captain Hubert was the living archetype of a sea captain. He even had a wooden peg replacing the lower half of one leg.
Diesa remarked about how tall he was as they approached. He turned toward them, smiled, and said, “Aye, and I’d be even taller, but as ye can see, I lost a foot.”
Yes, he could take them to Sturgeon. It would cost them 5 gold each, 4 gold for Jory, since he was so small. The Scallywag would set sail two hours after sunrise tomorrow, with or without them.
They promised to be there.
The Brunch Club wondered how to spend the night waiting for the ship. Captain Hubert mentioned he would be spending his night at a local dive bar called “The Crusty Clam.”
“How are the drinks?” asked Drusilla.
“Bad, but cheap,” Hubert answered.
“How’s their whoring?” Diesa asked.
“Bad, but cheap,” the captain repeated.
“Sounds perfect,” smiled Elora.
“Tonight’s a good night to go, too!” Hubert told them. “It’s Trivia Night!”
There were a few hours left in the day, so the five adventurers decided to head back up the cliffs and into the main city.
They visited the “I Don’t Karat All” jewelry smith with the intention of trading some of their looted gems for gold to raise money to buy a Bag Of Holding. This also gave Salys a chance to reunite with Tuft.
They entered the store and saw Tuft busily working on a piece of jewelry. He looked up when he heard them enter. He was wearing a pair of jeweler’s glasses which made his eyes look comically large.
Salys laughed. Tuft grinned sheepishly, took the glasses off, and greeted them.
“What can I do for The Brunch Club today?” he asked.
“We have some gems we’d like to sell, if you’re buying,” Salys said.
Tuft said they were always in the market for quality gems. He took the bag from them and told them he’d be right back. He needed to go into the back room where the scales were.
“Can I watch?” Salys asked, following him closely.
“Sure!” Tuft said, beaming.
“Can I watch too?” Diesa asked. The others snickered.
“Um, no,” said Tuft, and closed the door behind them.
As Salys and Tuft went into the back room, The Brunch Club quickly gathered close to the counter. They leaned toward the door as far as they could so they could hear the two gnomes’ conversation.
“So… how do you like living upstairs with your grandmother?” Salys asked.
“Oh! It’s great!” Tuft said with earnest sincerity. “I think family is very important, don’t you?”
In the front room, the others looked at each other nervously, knowing Salys’s fatal relationship with her own father.
“Not to me,” Salys replied quickly, without seeming upset.
The conversation seemed to stall. “So…” Salys started, searching for something else to say.
“Do you want to spend the night with me?” Tuft blurted out.
They heard laughter from the front of the store.
Tuft’s face reddened, and he added quickly, “I mean, like go out, go do something, hang out?”
Before Salys could reply, they heard Elora call out, “Invite him to the Crusty Clam!”
“Yeah, so we’re going to this cool sounding dive bar down at the docks tonight. You want to come with us?” Salys asked him. “It’s Trivia Night,” she added, trying to sweeten the deal.
Tuft did like trivia, and was happy to be invited and spend time with the beguiling sorceress. He was a little disappointed that it wouldn’t be alone. Nevertheless, he happily agreed.
“Yay!” They heard the others cheer from the other room. Salys sighed and rolled her eyes.
They left the jewelry store with fifteen less gems, but six-hundred more gold pieces. Tuft had given them the name of an enchanted goods emporium where they might be able to find a Bag Of Holding. He also told them where they could have a sending spell cast.
At the Wizard Ward Wares, they purchased their Bag of Holding. Drusilla, asked about another bag that caught her eye. It was an unassuming furry grey bag. The enchanter explained it was a Grey Bag of Tricks. Once a day the owner could withdraw up to three random, small furry creatures that do your bidding. The creatures vanish at dawn the next day. The animals withdrawn could be a weasel, giant rat, badger, boar, panther, giant badger, dire wolf, or giant elk.
Drusilla was already counting the gold out before the enchanter finished the description of the item.
Their next stop was a small nook of a shop called “Correspondence.” They wrote down the twenty-five word message for the wizard to magically send to Rajat. He was to meet them in Sturgeon seven days from tomorrow.
Rajat replied that he would be there and hoped “it was worth his time.”
The Crusty Clam was filled to capacity. All the tables were occupied with drinks and their drinkers.
They saw Tuft standing against the wall, keeping an eye on the door. A dwarf walked past him and ruffled his bright red hair.
“Boy, am I glad to see you,” Tuft sighed when they approached. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my hair ruffled in the last half hour.”
“Looks like we’ll have to stand,” muttered Drusilla as she scanned the packed tavern.
“We could fight someone for their table,” Diesa suggested, only half joking.
Jory walked to a table with drunken confidence. The six large, burly sailors sitting at it didn’t even see him until he cleared his throat.
The sailor closest to him looked down. “What do you want, kid?” he asked.
“I’m not a kid, I’m a halfling,” Jory told them. “And I have a bet for you.”
“Scram kid,” another of them said.
“Halfling.” Jory corrected.
“Scram kid,” the sailor repeated.
Jory shrugged. “Okay. But if you won, you would have made a gold each.”
The table fell quiet. The first sailor looked at him, curiously. “What’s the bet, Halfling?”
“I’ll let one of you try to punch me in the face. If you hit me, I’ll give you each one gold. If you miss, you give my friends and I your table.”
The sailors laughed. They took the bet, and chose which of them would attempt to punch the Halfling for easy money.
Jory assumed a defensive stance and concentrated on his opponent’s body language. The sailor was quick, but Jory easily sidestepped the punch, causing his opponent to lose his balance and almost fall on his face.
The sailors groaned and reluctantly gave up their table, playfully ribbing their companion for ruining their chance at some easy gold.
Jory’s companions joined him at the table.
The six of them ate and drank and eventually noticed a young human man with long hair set up a table in the corner of the bar. He placed sheets of parchment, inkwells, and quills on the edge of the table. Diesa got up and walked over to him.
“‘Sup?” Diesa said.
“Sup?” the young man replied, barely looking up as he organized his table.
“You the trivia guy?” Diesa asked.
“Triva Bard?” he corrected.
Diesa threw a gold coin on the table. The bard looked at it. His eyes lit up for a second, before his brow furrowed. “If someone knew I let a team bribe me to win I’d get my ass kicked.”
“It’s not a bribe,” Diesa said. “I want you to ask a specific question, then give me everyone’s answers when it’s over.” Diesa wrote her question down and slipped it to him. He read it, nodded at her, and took her gold.
Diesa brought their answer sheet and quill back to their table and they waited for Trivia Night to begin.
When it did begin, Brunch Club felt extremely confident as the first question was, “How many heads does a Chimera have?”
Having fought one, they knew the answer was “Three”.
The next question: “How are Hags made?” The Brunch Club knew that one too, having witnessed a Hag born from the possessed form of a thirteen year old girl.
“What color dragons can be found in swamps?” They had seen a black dragon in the swamps of the Blue Litch Bog.
“What do Beholders use their extra eyes for?” This question took a little joy out of the game for them. It brought back the image of the undead beholder’s eyebeam disintegrating Salys before Vorjhon sacrificed himself to bring her back.
“What do Clerics use their holy symbols for?” They slid the parchment to Drusilla, who wrote about the spell-focusing power of her holy symbol.
“How did Winter Wolves get their name?” The Brunch Club remembered the deadly power of the Winter Wolves’ icy breath when they fought them and got their Winter Wolf cloaks.
“And now for the bonus question,” the Trivia Bard said, “Who is the Dark Serpent?”
The Brunch Club felt confident about their answers and listened eagerly as the bard read them back:
“Chimeras have two heads.”
The Brunch Club looked at each other with puzzled looks on their faces.
“Hags are born during an eclipse.”
“What the fuck?” Elora said. “He doesn’t know shit.”
“Green dragons are found in swamps.”
The Brunch Club shot angry looks at the bard.
“Beholders use their eye stalks to prevent their enemies from sneaking up on them.”
“Well that’s just not true,” muttered Salys.
“Clerics use their Holy Symbols to prevent the undead from attacking them.”
Drusilla stewed, wordlessly.
“Winter wolves are called winter wolves because they prefer cold climates.”
“I think he’s making everything up.” Jory whispered.
Finally the host said, “No one answered the bonus question correctly so the identity of the Dark Serpent remains a secret.”
“Well that was bullshit,” said Elora.
“I’m gonna go get the answers I paid for,” said Diesa, standing up.
“I think you should all go up there and tell him how wrong he was,” suggested Jory. “I’ll stay here with Tuft.”
As the others left the table, Jory flagged down a barmaid, requested a bottle of moonshine and two shot glasses. He filled each glass with the clear, strong smelling liquid and slid one of them over to Tuft. The glasses were like tumblers in their small halfling and gnome sized hands. Tuft sipped his gingerly. Jory downed his whole glass in one gulp.
As Drusilla, Salys and Elora explained to the bard how wrong his answers were, Diesa thumbed through all the written answers regarding the Dark Serpent’s identity. They confirmed what she already knew and offered no additional information.
When they got back to the table, Tuft was half way done with his glass of moonshine and grinned happily when he looked at Salys. Jory was filling his third glass.
The night wore on and eventually Drusilla, Elora, and Jory felt like calling it a night. They inquired about rooms.
Rooms without company cost three silver. Rooms with company cost five.
They chose the “without company” rate.
Salys and Tuft decided to stay at the bar.
Diesa wasn’t ready to turn in but didn’t want to be a third wheel to Tuft and Salys. She took a room with company.
As their friends left, Salys bid them good night and told them not to wait up.
“You two be safe,” Drusilla said to them. “And if you get into any trouble, you have the other half of my Rockie Talkie. Just call me.”
“Yes, mom,” teased Salys, theatrically rolling her eyes.
Tuft smiled as his cheeks turned red with alcohol and embarrassment.
Elora and Jory stood by the door inside Drusilla’s room and watched the cleric open the Gray Bag of Tricks. She reached her hand in and pulled out a ball of gray fluff. She tossed it on the ground and it transformed instantly into a gray panther. It stood, looking at her. She commanded it to be still.
She pulled out another gray ball of fluff, tossed that to the floor, and it turned into a gray badger. The third ball of fluff produced a second badger.
Drusilla spoke to each of the animals, giving them their commands. She told one badger to snuggle with Elora, one to snuggle with Jory, and the Panther to snuggle with her.
Elora happily clutched the warm fuzzy badger to her chest and went to her room. Jory took one of Drusilla’s pillows, laid it on the floor and used that for his mattress. He used the badger for his pillow.
Drusilla commanded the panther to curl up next to her in bed.
They all drifted off to sleep, aided by the warm animals snuggling with them.
When the tavern keeper showed Diesa her room, she asked if she had any requests for her companion for the night. Diesa thought for a moment and said, “Send me someone who makes your patrons feel the most vulnerable.”
The madam cocked an eyebrow and asked, “Do you have a gender preference?”
Diesa shook her head.
“Go to room 3D, get comfortable, and wait for Rose.”
Diesa went to the room. She did not take off any of her armor. She found the darkest corner of the room, crossed her arms, and leaned against the wall to wait.
The door opened. A beautiful woman walked in. She wore only the sheerest of veils which left nothing to the imagination. She looked at Diesa and smiled.
“Sit down,” Diesa said, moitioning to the bed. “You can cover yourself up with a sheet or something. I’m not interested in your body. I want to ask you some questions.”
Rose approached confidently. She sat on the corner of the bed closest to Diesa. She did not cover herself. “You only paid for my body, not my secrets.”
“How much are your secrets worth?” Diesa asked, tossing a gold coin next to her on the bed.
“More than my body,” Rose replied, ignoring the gold coin.
“That depends on the secrets. You want the dime a dozen ones you could hear in any dockside bar, or the big, juicy, hefty secrets?” Rose said. “Or we can start small and work our way up to the bigger ones if you want.”
Diesa narrowed her eyes at the barely clothed woman. “I want good information. If you rob me, I’ll cut off your left tit.”
Rose’s eye contact never broke, and her smile never waned. “But I need that one,” she replied coyly.
Diesa cracked a very slight smile. She had to admit inwardly that Rose was a formidable, self-assured woman. She liked her. “Tell me what you know about the Dark Serpent? And don’t tell me he’s a low level thief who likes to talk big, because I’ve heard that already.”
“Why do you want to know about him?” Rose asked. The genuine curiosity broke through her seductive facade.
“He wrote me a letter,” Diesa replied, referring to the note they had found at the abandoned mineshaft when she first joined the Brunch Club.
“Ohhh! Scandalous,” Rose teased. “Information about the Dark Serpent will cost you two gold.”
“One gold,” countered Diesa.
“One gold and a kiss,” replied Rose.
“Fine.” Diesa said.
Rose told Diesa that The Dark Serpent’s name was Richard, and despite his reputation of being a petty thief that talks big, he was actually quite good at what he did. He prefered to steal and sell magic items rather than mundane gold and gems.
“What do you know about Sturgeon?” Diesa asked.
Rose told her that Sturgeon was a backwater town with not a lot going on there. She did hear there was a decent-sized potion smuggling operation there, but it was discovered and terminated a few weeks ago. She also said there were rumors that if the Kingdom of Drazean were ever to invade and claim Elnon for itself, Sturgeon would be one of the towns they attacked first.
“Have you ever heard of a druid named ‘Rajat’?” asked Diesa.
“It does not ring a bell,” Rose said.
Diesa thought for a moment about other questions she could ask, but couldn’t think of any, so she asked, “What about the ‘big, juicy, hefty’ secrets? How much for those?”
“Fifty gold,” Rose replied without hesitation. “I assure you they’re worth it. Dirty little secrets about very powerful people.”
“Fifty gold? How do I know they’re real?” Diesa asked.
“You’ll just have to trust me,” Rose replied. “After all, don’t you like to feel vulnerable?”
“No,” Diesa said, flatly. “I just like secrets given up by vulnerable people. What about a favor? Anyone hurt you that you want killed?”
Rose laughed softly. “I’m flattered, but no. I know how to take care of myself.”
“Fine. Fifty gold,” agreed Diesa. “What do you know?”
“Do you know Lord Raymond Windsor? A local, ‘Businessman’ who owns the Jade Serpent?”
“I’ve met him briefly,” Diesa said, thinking back to Lady Tirol’s gala.
Rose informed Diesa that Windsor was a human sex trafficker, getting his sex workers from slavers from all over the world. He was very, very wealthy and therefore influential. But he might be getting nervous and keeping things more under wraps now that Kalavar has arrived.
“Are you here of your own free will?” Diesa asked.
Rose’s easy smile faded slightly. “Whore’s don’t typically choose to be whores, free will or not. It may not be the life I dreamed for myself, but we all have to do what we can to survive. At least I’m not at the Jade Serpent anymore.”
“You were one of Windsor’s slaves?”
Rose nodded. Her smile had dissolved entirely.
“How’d you get out?” pressed Diesa.
“You’ll notice he has a scar on his cheek,” Rose said with a hint of pride in her voice, though it had become a little shaky as unpleasant memories flooded back to her. “And I’m good at taking advantage of powerful people who like to feel vulnerable.”
“It seems like the tables turned on you tonight,” Diesa said with a smirk, but not mean, or teasing. “I think I’m the one who made you feel vulnerable.”
The smile returned to Rose’s face. “That may be. But you still owe me fifty-two gold and a kiss.”
“And five silver for your body,” added Diesa as she leaned toward Rose’s lips.
Salys and Tuft finished their drinks shortly after their friends left. Salys turned to Tuft and said, “So.. want to go back to your crib?”
“I sleep in a bed,” said Tuft.
Salys laughed. “Are you drunk?”
“I think I can walk,” he smiled. “But we can’t be too loud when we get home.”
“Woah, planning a big night?” Salys joked.
“I mean, I mean,” Tuft stammered. “When we walk through the door. There’s a bell on it. I don’t want to wake my Grandma. She’s usually a heavy sleeper, but she’s always listening for the bell.”
They took the elevator back up to the city and began walking to Tuft’s. As they walked and chatted Tuft said suddenly, “I think that guy is watching us.”
Salys followed the direction of Tuft’s pointing finger. A figure walked out of the darkness toward them. He drew his short sword.
“I think he has a friend,” Tuft said, as another figure approached them from another corner, sword also drawn.
When they got closer, the first one spoke to them in a threatening, low, gruff tone. “If you give us your gold, we won’t have to gut you.”
“Let me handle this,” Salys whispered to Tuft.
“How?” Tuft asked, worriedly.
“With my amazing personality,” she answered. “Hey, look,” Salys said, turning to the bandit. “We don’t have a lot of money. We just came from the Crusty Clam, you guys look like you’re familiar with it, and we just spent most of our money there.”
“The drinks at the Clam don’t cost that much, little ones.” The second man snarled.
“Well, we weren’t just there for the drinks, if you know what I mean,” Salys said, and winked knowingly at them. “We’re a pretty adventurous couple, and you know… the weird stuff costs more. A lot more.”
As if seeing them for the first time, the bandits looked at the two gnomes that stood before them. They looked, with their bright copper and orange hair, like they would indeed, be into the weird stuff.
“I know you know what I’m talking about,” Salys continued, in a hushed tone. “You guys look like you’ve spent a night or two at the Clam.”
They nodded. One leaned in and spoke even lower, “You ever have that… itch after you been there?”
“It’s funny you should mention that,” Salys told him. “We were just talking about that. We didn’t want to say anything too loud because we didn’t know if it was contagious.”
“Do you know how to get rid of it?” The bandit asked.
“I really don’t,” Salys said. “I was thinking of trying fire.”
The man nodded his head and they let them go on their way in peace.
They hurried on their way. As they let themselves into the jewelry store and up the stairs to Tuft’s room, he asked quietly, “Are you really into the weird stuff?”
Salys smiled. “Define weird.”
Rose woke up. The sun streamed in through the windows onto the sheets. She rolled over. When she realized she was alone she felt surprisingly disappointed. She saw a stack of fifty two gold pieces and five silver on the nightstand. A note lay next to it.
“When I’m back in Elnor, I’ll be looking for more juicy gossip to buy. Information is as good as gold. So were you last night. Maybe the life you dreamed of isn’t out of reach just yet. -D”
Our tale will continue in Episode 46
Episode 45 was written by Dominic White, Bethany Powers, and myself, Brian Messmer.
The audio reording 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:
- 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
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.
More information about Rescued by Dragons and ways to support and follow us can be found at RescuedByDragons.com.
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.