The party woke to a letter from Croak.
By the time you’re reading this you will likely have heard of the theft.
I simply cannot stand by while the people of Noname starve through the winter. Ultimately my decision to help Grandfather is the reason that their stores have been depleted. With the waters safe again, I had hoped the guild would send aid, but it appears I have misjudged their intentions.
I was honestly shocked when Gwen refused to send aid to those starving people in order to solidify her position in the coming conflict. Does she not realize that in war it is the citizens who suffer most?
Hard choices had to be made. I have stolen seven ships, several tons of grain and rallied some men to my cause. I will feed the people of Noname and dedicate myself to saving the people that so many have dedicated themselves to harming.
Please tell Gwen that I will reimburse her for the stolen goods, and I will do my best to see that this aid goes to the starving people and not to her enemies.
With that said, I bear you no ill will. If ever you are in need, you may count on me as an ally. If you keep your turtles close, I will always be able to find you.
Hoxie, you should really turn yourself in for Regicide. It’s kind of a big deal..
“After all this time,” said Hunny. “We’ve traveled together all this time and he just writes a letter?”
Their hearts heavy with loss, the party headed towards Quartz Peak. They saw that Owen’s Woods had been partially redeveloped into farmlands and the road was recently paved with cobbles. Despite the ash raining down, locals were feeling hopeful about the future.
The party members felt a strange feeling in the pits of their stomachs.
The ground lifted away beneath them. It was as if someone had turned the forest up-side-down and shaken out the people, animals, and plants. Slowly, they floated above the trees, towards the clouds of ash hanging overheard. Pine needles and struggling squirrels filled the air.
Hunny looked to the skies with glee. “I fart… Does it propel me?”
A bobcat floated by and Hunny grappled it, forcing a potion of animal friendship down its throat. It was then that she realized she had not read the instructions on the potion and that instead of charming the bobcat, it had charmed her. She pulled an animal out of her bag of tricks, intending to feed it to the bobcat, but instead she pulled a panther. The two cats fought in midair, spinning.
They heard screaming. An elderly lady, a child, and a teenager floated by into the clouds of ash. Hunny threw Blacksad into the air. Above the ash, he saw a strange cloudy castle floating in the air. He grabbed onto the child and signaled for Hunny to pull him down. They tied the child to a tree, along with their dragon turtle babies, the cart, and the turtle nanny.
“Well, I enjoyed watching that,” said Mithian. “But I got this.”
She sent her pseudodragon, carrying a length of rope, into the ash cloud. It brought the rope to the lady and the teenager, allowing them to be pulled to safety.
The party felt a strange heaviness. In the distance, floating squirrels fell. Pine needles pelted the earth like rain. The party secured themselves to trees and waited for gravity to return to normal.
…And then Hunny launched herself into the air towards the still-floating bobcat, dragging Blacksad behind her. He prepared his knife to stab the cats, so Hunny cut him loose to save her beloved. She then threw her two axes towards the panther, slicing off its spine. Triumphant, the bobcat ate the panther.
Gravity returned to normal.
Hunny fell 150 feet. The impact rattled her bones, but she walked it off. Unfortunately, the bobcat did not survive.
“Glad that’s over,” said Hunny. “I no longer love this bobcat.”
Blacksad laughed. “If you feel violated, imagine how your pets must feel.”
They continued traveling. In the woods, they found stretches of forest and farmland that had been crushed flat. They asked a local farmer and she told them that superstitious locals believed it had been done by magic, but in reality Queen Titania had blessed the lands by walking among them.
At Quartz Peak, Shan was waiting, carrying news from Gwen. She had assigned a teammate to help them with their diplomatic mission to the plains.
In a show of mist and lights, in walked Rodolfo Rollibard Ruffo (Triple-R ): soothsayer, fortune-teller, and pet detective.
Mithian raised an eyebrow. “Pet detective?”
“What else would you do with magic?”
“Oh, oh, oh,” said Hunny. “Can you predict my future?”
“Hmm.” Triple-R waved a hand over her. “Something very bad will happen to you today.”
“He’s legit, guys!”
The party set out towards the plains. At the base of the mountains, where Hunny remembered the plains of her childhood, there was a deep fissure in the earth, as if the chasm were spreading. In the distance, an enormous floating island dominated their view.
“But how do we get up?”
“I think I can help with that,” said Triple-R cheerfully.
He polymorphed into a giant owl and carried Hunny. Mithian drank a potion of polymorph and turned into a giant hawk and carried Blacksad. Together, they took flight and sailed on an updraft blasting from the chasm below. Hawk-Mithian was blown off course into a death spiral. She righted herself and landed on a tiny floating rock with a lone palm tree bearing two coconuts. She named it ‘Penis Island.’ In a treasure chest beneath the tree, Blacksad found a ring of the ram.
Once they reached the floating island, the party spotted cotton skinks in the distance. Hunny ran to greet the herd of skinks. On the back of one of the skinks, a barbarian emerged from the enveloping folds of wool and jumped to the ground. She was wearing a reptilian skull, wore floor-length braids, and had a face tattoo of talons under her eyes.
“You have a lot of nerve showing up here,” said Mug.
She and Hunny fist-bumped.
She was of the ‘Hide,’ the tribe that Hunny was from. Though she bore an old grudge because Hunny had stolen her dog, she also owed Hunny her life because she had foiled an assassination plot.
The party learned that when the plains were broken into floating islands, it isolated the cotton skinks. The herd of skinks before them was only a small part of the greater whole that belonged to the Hide.
The party spent the rest of the night carousing with the barbarians, swapping stories of punching over alcohol.
“But where do the barbarians get the leather to make their loincloths, then?” said Blacksad.
Mug explained that they were woven from the wool of the skinks.
“My loincloth was passed down in my family for generations,” said Hunny.
After racking their brains to find a peaceful way to settle generations of feuding, the party settled on a solution: they would convince Mug to conquer the other barbarian tribes by triggering a leadership contest. And then, once she unified them, she could join in Gwen’s war as a reward and punch tiny squishy humans.
Hunny wrote a nasty letter to the tribe of ‘Horn.’ It was carried away by Mug’s much-abused parrot.
You punch like a small human.
PS: And you smell.