Tales of The Brunch Club 046 “Under New Management”

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Welcome to Episode 46 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…

After leaving the Library, the Brunch Club prepared to part for the Aegis Mountains, where they hoped to find a Fey touchpoint. They coordinated passage to Sturgeon with Captain Hubert aboard his ship, The Scallywag.

Captain Hubert encouraged the Brunch Club to check out a local dive bar called the Crusty Clam for Trivia Night, and the party agreed it sounded like a good time. While selling their newly acquired gemstones at ‘I Don’t Karat All’, Salys asked Tuft to join them for the evening.

That night, the game of Trivia was a bust, but the group managed to enjoy their time. After, Salys and Tuft decided to continue enjoying one another’s company, while Diesa opted to take a room with a different kind of company the Crusty Clam had to offer.

Asking for someone who “made their patrons feel vulnerable,” Diesa found herself accompanied by Rose, who agreed to share her secrets in exchange for more gold. In a sexually-charged exchange, Rose informed Diesa of the identity of the Dark Serpent, the political tidings in Sturgeon, and one big, juicy secret: that Lord Windsor was operating as a human sex trafficker.

Meanwhile, Salys and Tuft decided to go “back to his crib”, encountering two thieves on the way to his home. Salys convinced them that they had just spent most of their money paying for “the weird stuff” at the Crusty Clam, and were allowed to continue on their way.

Episode 46 “Under New Management”

The docks were bustling with activity the next morning. Stinking, hungover sailors hurried to prepare the ships for departure, grumbling as they hauled goods across the Pier. The Brunch Club hardly looked better for wear after their night at the Crusty Clam, moaning as they made their way to the Scallywag.

“Welcome aboard!’ Captain Hubert exclaimed, the peg-legged captain exalting in the early morning mist. He seemed unaffected by the previous night’s debauchery. “Make yourselves at home, and we’ll be to Sturgeon before you know it!”

The captain led the group onto the ship, shouting commands at his crew as he gave the party the grand tour of the Scallywag. Their sleeping quarters were modest, with worn hammocks hung from the ceiling that swayed softly. Etchings from past travelers were carved into the walls, ranging from romantic scrawlings to haggard remarks.

As the party settled in, they began recounting the evening prior amongst one another.

“… Yeah, so we told them we were into the weird stuff,” Salys said, and the others burst into laughter. The gnome had taken out her woodcarver’s tool, scraping the letters T. U.F. T. into the wall as she sat cross-legged looking toward it.

She cocked her head, staring at the letters.

“Nahh,” she decided and began scratching the letters out. “It was good… but not that good,” she explained.

Diesa described her evening with Rose, leaving out the more intimate details of what transpired between them the night prior. She informed the party of Lord Windsor’s Sex Trafficking activity, confirming that he was someone that they should soon deal with. She then suggested, blushing ever so slightly, that they try to use Rose as an ongoing source of intelligence.

The next days passed uneventfully as the group settled into periods of aimless wandering about the ship, games of cards and chess, and anxious planning for their arrival in Sturgeon.

The planning was contentious, but they reached several small conclusions in their discussion. The party agreed that Elora should use Rajat to learn what she could about her past, using their information about the Fey TouchPoint as a bargaining chip. They also discussed the possibility of simply letting the Archfey that guards the touchpoint deal with Rajat as they saw fit.

There were differing opinions when it came to what they should do if given the opportunity to travel to the Feywild.
Jory looked pale at the thought, “I would die.” He said confidently. “I’m not as strong or brave as you guys, I-I don’t know if I would make it.”

Salys expressed her own concerns. “I’d rather not risk losing my memories,” she argued nervously, “us non-elves have to think about that. Besides, I don’t know if I trust what I’ve heard of the Fey… it sounds too good to be true, and Saberhagan didn’t seem much too fond of his experience there.”

“I’ve got some more business to take care of on this plane,” Diesa muttered.

Elora and Drusilla, on the other hand, entertained the idea.

“I think it would be fun,” Drusilla admitted, “we could learn so much about our ancestry.”

“Depending on what Rajat says… I have to admit, I’m curious.” Elora said, pondering the idea.

Jory took a big swig from his Bota Bag, wavering slightly as he stood. “I’ve said my piece. If you need me, I’ll be meditating on deck.”

Mid-afternoon the following day, the party huddled above deck, trying to catch the last bit of sun before it began its descent over the horizon. Elora gazed toward the setting sun, something giving her pause.

She drew her compass from her pocket and stared intently for a moment. “We’re turning South,” she stated to the others, showing them the compass as the needle vibrated over the ornate ‘S’.

Diesa marched to the bow of the ship. “Hey, Hubert! Sturgeon’s North.”

The Captain glanced at Diesa.

“That’s ‘Captain’ to you, dwarf. And, I’m well aware. We’ve heard rumors of a dragon living in the bog, probably a crock but I like to give it a wide berth just to be safe.”

Diesa nodded, recalling the stories her comrades had told her about the Bitch Bog. “Captain,” she corrected herself.

Night fell quickly as the ship sailed onward, water lapping quietly at its sides.

“Is it getting really cold?” Salys asked as she shivered, and the others agreed. Even compared to the brisk chill they had encountered over the past several days, the air was now bitter cold.

The sails of the Scallywag slackened as the wind died out, and suddenly, the only sound that could be heard was the tired creaking of the ship. For several moments, the party exchanged anxious glances, questioning the quick change in atmosphere.

“I’ve not seen you before… Diesa.” A voice hissed. The timber of the ship vibrated beneath their feet. It was a voice several of the group members had heard before, encountered in the Bitch Bog many weeks ago.

“You mastermind you. A keeper of so many secrets… when will you share your own?”

“You sniff out the lies in the world, yet you never tell your own. A Chieftain’s daughter, and with debts to pay… Princess. Your heart is as black as my scales.”

Diesa stood still, exposed. Her hand rested on the hilt of her axe as the Dragon’s voice continued.

“And you, you worthless drunk. Worshipping someone who was no more than a worthless drunk himself. You try to find meaning at the bottom of a bottle, but no matter how much you drink there’s nothing there. Maybe one day you’ll prove you’re worth something more than your wit.”

“Well that’s not that creative,” Jory whispered to his companions nervously.

“Drusilla, still a poor little girl, thousands of miles from home. That drivel scribbled onto a scroll of paper… it just keeps growing, doesn’t it? Do you feel yourself slipping into a spiral of nonsense? When will you give up and realize it’s all for naught? You may think you’ve found a new family in your companions, but they’ll end up just like your last.”

“And Salys,” He laughed to himself. “I’m starting to like you. Trading in those closest to you for power – first your Father, now your friend. Why should you be so lucky to live while they perish? Why should you be on this earth to breathe this air, while he cannot? You could learn a lot from me, we will see each other again.”

“Elora, you’ve found the scraps of your previous life, I see… but how much of it is the truth, and how much is just more lies? How do you even know you can trust these people? You seem to think you’re on the path to enlightenment… I will leave you with that quaint thought.”

“I look forward to seeing you all again – maybe in person, so I can see the look on your faces next time we speak.”

Several moments of silence passed before the wind began to pick back up, the sails of the Scallywag shuddering back to life.

“What the fuck was that?” Captain Hubert called across the ship, cutting through the silence. “You failed to mention that you knew the dragon in the bog.”

Salys laughed nervously. “I mean, knowing him might be a stretch. We, uh, encountered him once. In the bog.”

The Captain shook his head, “Shoulda charged you more. What’re you lot looking at, back to work!” He yelled at his crew and they quickly began resuming their duties.

Jory glanced at Diesa. “Princess?”

“With… debts to pay?” Drusilla pressed, her arms crossed.

Diesa shrugged. “Look, guys, it doesn’t matter. I don’t love the term but yeah, I guess I’m a Princess. Really not a big deal.”

“But, are there people looking for you? Your family?” Salys asked.

“Oh, they probably think I’m dead,” Diesa answered.

“You said you lived in poverty!” Jory exclaimed.

“Oh, goodness no. We’re fucking rich.” Diesa laughed. “Well, I mean maybe not so rich at the moment, I did make one itty mistake.” She paused, and the group urged her to continue.

“There was… a heist. It went south, fast. My family owed some money, and I found a way to steal it back. Repaying our debt would be the best way to prove that I should be the leader of my clan, not my idiot brother. Needless to say, it didn’t go well… so I fled.”

“So we’ve got a princess on our hands!” Salys shrugged.

“My real name is Diesa Brawnanvil, of the Brawnanvil Clan. Don’t call me princess. ” Diesa retorted.

Silence fell over the group for a few moments, before Drusilla noted, “what he said about Vorjohn… don’t listen to him, Salys.”

Salys sighed, “I would never do that to someone I cared about.”

After seven full days at sea, the Scallywag ported in Sturgeon. To celebrate their arrival, the group had several drinks onboard the Scallywag, and found themselves stumbling into the small, bustling village.

“It reminds me of when we all first met!” Drusilla exclaimed into the crowd, “I wonder if the rats ever came back to the Black Lamb after we took care of them?”

“Well, it’s likely under new management now, considering…” Salys responded.

“Considering what?” Diesa asked.

“Oh! We killed the last owner!” Elora responded casually. Several people in the crowd stopped to gape at the group before averting their gaze and scurrying away.

Curious about the fate of the Black Lamb, they decided to head there for a quick brunch. The wooden door slammed shut behind them as they entered the bar, only to find it deserted.

“Hello?” They called into the empty space. The bar and stools at the Black Lamb were covered in dust, and the mismatched glassware behind the bar looked to be coated in a thin layer of grime. A faint snoring came from the kitchen.

Jory crept into the kitchen, nearly tripping over the large, drunken man curled up on the kitchen floor. An empty bottle of whiskey sat beside him, and a thin trail of drool extended from the corner of his mouth. Jory poked him, and the man haphazardly swept at his hand, eyes still closed.

“Um, hi. My name is Jory. I see you’re taking a nap so I don’t want to take too much of your time. My friends and I are pretty hungry so I’m just going to slip you 5 gold if you don’t mind us helping ourselves to some food and ale?”

“Sure,” the man groaned, opening one bloodshot eye to gaze at Jory. He then grunted as he rolled to face away from the Halfling, his snores quickly resuming.

After lunch, the group decided to find rooms at the Original Tavern. They asked the innkeep where the locals hung out, to which he answered “Not the Black Lamb, any more. Now they go to Jimmy’s.”

The party shot him an inquisitive look.

“Used to be his house, but people kept showing up. Now, he lives upstairs and downstairs is his business. Jimmy’s.”

“Has… anyone been to Tor lately?”

“Well, there’s this one guy. Frederick. A bit of an introvert. Probably at home writing some books.”

“Maybe we should check it out. Does he drink?” Drusilla asked. The innkeep informed them that they could buy some whiskey at Jimmy’s, if they had some available.

Jimmy’s itself was crowded to the rims. A few townspeople stood outside speaking animatedly, and a whir of voices spread through the air. Through the frosted glass windows they could hear cheering, belching, and laughter emanating from inside.

They made their way through the entrance, the door slamming behind them. Heat washed over the group, both from the fires and the close bodies crowded into the room.

A stout gentleman approached the group, with a monkish, circular round of hair around his head.

“Ah, new to Jimmy’s? Welcome, I’m Jimmy!” He exclaimed as a patron clapped him on the shoulder.

“We heard this is the place to be in town!” Drusilla responded, her voice raised to combat the noisy crowd. “Do you sell any whiskey? Or shots?”

‘Two bottles it is!” He exclaimed, asking the group for two silver to cover the charge. He handed Drusilla and Elora each a bottle of yellowed liquid. “Enjoy!”

Quickly, the Brunch Club polished the first bottle of whiskey, passing it around amongst themselves and grimacing after each swig. It wasn’t the finest whiskey they had tasted, but the bite warmed them from the inside, removing any remaining chill from the outdoors.

Slurring and inebriated, they drunkenly decided to head to Frederick’s.

It was another cold night, but the party was warmed by the first bottle of whiskey they had consumed. They walked in jagged lines, following the instruction of the innkeep who had told them where Frederick’s home was located. They found themselves at a nondescript, two-story home.

Striding confidently up the front steps, Elora knocked at the door. Several moments of silence passed before she knocked again, to no response.

Diesa huffed, picking up a pebble and throwing it at an upstairs window. A moment later a light turned on, and a slight shuffling could be heard from the indoors. The door opened just a sliver, held fast by several chain locks. A pair of big eyes staring at the group from through the crack.

“Fredrick?” Drusilla asked.

“Um, my name is Fredward. Who are you?” He asked through the small opening in the doorway.

“We’re, um, the Brunch Club. And we have some questions if you don’t mind us joining you.”

“Do you like whiskey?’” Jory asked, and Elora held up the second bottle.

“If it’s free, I do!” He responded. Fredward closed the door, and a clicking could be heard from behind. Shortly he had unlocked all six of the locks, opening the door to his visitors.

Fredward’s home was covered in souvenirs from what they had to assume were travels all over the world. The home was unkempt, and Fredward cleared stacks of scrolls and books from his furniture to give the group members a place to sit.

A black, furred creature was splayed across the floor as a rug, with long tails protruding in multiple directions. Its claws were long, and its fangs even longer.

“What is this?” Drusilla asked, gesturing at the rug to break the ice.

“Well, it’s a Displacer Beast I encountered years ago in the Bloodwood, kept it as a souvenir,” he admitted. “We had gone to scalp some elves, no offense, but it wasn’t quite the mercenary work I had in mind.” He shrugged as Elora and Drusilla shifted uncomfortably.

“What brings you to my living room?” He asked as he poured a bit of whiskey into his cup.

“Well… we want to learn about the Gates of Tor,” Drusillla responded. “We heard that you’ve been, and we’re particularly interested in what encounters you’ve had that way”

He paused, eyeing the group. “There isn’t much, now. Some ruins and abandoned towers. Outposts, whatever. Most have been plundered. Out in the mountains, things get less friendly – the terrain is rough, as with those you’ll encounter there.”

“There are orc clans, some cyclopsis, a roc, a bahir. We’ve seen it all in those mountains.”

“A Bahir?” Drusilla asked.

“Dangerous bastards. Rare beings. A bit of a cross between a centipede and a lizard. Lots of legs, those ones. The trails out there aren’t well kept, either, you’ll want climbing spikes, for sure.”

“Why did you go there, to Tor?” Jory asked.

“This or that.” Fredward responded curtly.

Jory asked if Fredward had been to the gates of the Feywild, to which he explained that he was unable to get through, having had difficulty opening the gates. Fredward stood up, walking to a stack of books in the corner of the room. He brushed off the leather spine and held it toward the group.

“I finished a book, it explains the monsters I’ve encountered and how to deal with them. 20 Gold, and worth every coin if you’re planning to head that way.” Salys took hold of the book, quickly flipping through its pages, which were filled with ornate drawings and notes on what must have been almost a hundred different creatures.

“Have you heard of a touchpoint?” Jory asked, looking from the book back up at Fredward.

“No, but I haven’t looked.”

The party polished several more rounds of whiskey with Fredward before the conversion waned, and soon they were all yawning. With their newly purchased monster manual, they shook hands with Fredward and agreed that they would meet again someday, in due time.

“By the way, I prefer gin.” He called after them as they left his home, stepping out into the dark of night.

Our tale will continue in Episode 47

Episode 46 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:

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.