After days of wandering around in a state of drunken hallucination, Hoxie came home. Her father gave her a cup of tea and she went to her bedroom for a well-deserved rest… only to find Blacksad passed out in her childhood bed. She threw the scalding tea in his face. He woke up and vomited all over her stuffed toys. Then he passed out…
…Until the scent of kobold wafted into the house. The party set out to rid Quartz Peak of kobolds.
On the way to the guild, Glink saw that the ‘dude with the guitar’ statue was broken. Moved to tears, he pulled out his special guitar and played a dirge for his lost love. Then he declared that if the party could retake the guild without his instruments being harmed, he would pay them each 500 gold.
Blacksad caught another waft of kobold stench on the stairwell leading to guild, but could see no enemy. A heavy mist hung in the air. Their footsteps echoed strangely. Quartz Peak was deserted, though someone had planted pine saplings everywhere.
With Hoxie strapped to her back, Hunny charged in.
A bomb flew out of the mist, landing at Hunny’s feet. Its explosion rained shrapnel on Hoxie and Hunny. The party had been separated, ambushed on the middle of a stairwell overlooked by high-ground, and flanked by kobolds with readied bows.
A rasping draconic voice called from the mist, “I want the bard. I need him for my collection.”
The party charged to the head of the staircase, trying to break free of the ambush. They attacked the kobold chieftain who stood in their way.
A shadow passed through the mist overhead. A cloud of poison gas engulfed Hunny and Hoxie, leaving them choking and gasping for breath. A dragon emerged from the mist, clearing the air with the beat of its wings. The kobolds pleaded to it for deliverance from their plight.
“Iris,” they called. “Iris will save us!”
Sulxax was smitten immediately. Although green dragons are the hicks of dragonkind, he decided to woo Iris because of her glossy scales.
Iris retreated to the roof of the guild, allowing her kobold minions to pelt the party with missile weapons. Hunny threw a lasso around Iris’s neck and then tried to use it to climb onto her back. Croak grabbed hold of the rope right before Iris took off, flew 80 feet into the air, and tore the rope as if it were paper. Hunny started plunging to her death, but Croak’s quick thinking (and a ring of feather falling) brought them gently back to Earth.
Meanwhile, Iris snatched up Glink, holding him hostage in her mouth. The party stood down, though Hunny managed to finally scale the dragon’s back. Sulxax tried to chat up Iris; she explained to him that she had come to Quartz Peak because her forest was destroyed by an earthquake. She liked to collect musicians and she wanted Glink so that be part of a concert she had planned that would involve the finest musicians of the world. Glink decided he was okay with this.
Hoxie convinced the dragon that she was Glink’s manager. She demanded a cut. The dragon bid her down from 40% to 30%. They agreed to draw up a contract, so Iris flew up to the rooftop to where she kept her lawyer. (In a cage, alongside some malnourished musicians.) Hoxie took some paper from Gwen’s desk and started drawing up a completely 100% legit and reasonable contract. Hunny took a nap on the dragon’s back.
Croak took Blacksad to Shan’s room, where she gave him a mushroom. In a drugged state, he hallucinated happy images, like dancing mushrooms, torturing Tim the trustworthy, and bathing in kobold blood. Blacksad wandered away into the mess hall, where Croak found him sleeping on a pile of dead kobolds. Croak took Blacksad back to Shan’s room and they tied him to a bed.
Shan showed Blacksad that she had revived Precious. The dog had been stitched back together. It smelled of lavender and its eyes were covered in a white film. It curled up on Blacksad’s chest. They locked eyes and its blank gaze, Blacksad felt a profound, soul-deep understanding.
On the roof, Hunny asked Iris if she would like to join her petting zoo. Iris declined, as she felt herself overqualified for a position involving giving rides to small children. In a rage, Hunny snapped the dragon’s wing. Iris whipped her head back, grabbed Hunny in her jaws, and threw her off the roof. Hunny fell three stories, surviving only because her fall was broken by Sulxax. (He had come out to the yard to search for something that the kobolds had stolen from his room.)
Hoxie rushed out of the guild hall, trying to convince everyone to calm down. After all, they were all ready to draw up a contract that would create a working relationship between them. Iris told her that if she wanted to work with her, Hoxie would need to kill Hunny and bring her corpse to the balcony.
Croak charged out onto the balcony to attack Iris. Hoxie’s obsidian dagger whispered to her, telling her that if Croak were dead, there would be no one standing in the way of her ambitions. Who was it who stopped her from stealing? Who had kept the dragon turtle’s hoard all to himself? If Croak were gone, she and Iris would be rich.
The sounds of fighting roused Blacksad. With a bed strapped to his back and a zombie puppy in his shirt, he climbed the stairs and crawled to the balcony… just in time to watch Hoxie charge Croak, plunging her dagger into his chest. The dagger chipped against his armour. Blacksad stuck Hoxie in the back of the head using the bed, knocking her unconscious.
Iris took advantage of the confusion to breath poison over Croak, Hoxie, and Blacksad. Blacksad retreated, dragging Hoxie to safety. Croak stood calm, unscarred, unafraid.
“What are you?” snapped Iris.
“I’m the hero of the slums,” said Croak. His sword was wreathed in green flame. With a swipe of his arm, he slashed the dragon across its belly, knocking her off-balance. Iris fell, snapping her neck as she hit the ground.
Sulxax used the guild washroom. From the magic beans in his shit, a Sulxax statue was born.
It looked him in the eye and said, “She was the only love you will ever have. Now that Iris is gone, you will die alone. You’re too stupid to understand metaphors.” Sulxax dragged the statue to his bedroom and covered it with a sheet.
Gwen showed up and took charge. She made sure the wounded were treated. She mercy-killed the kobolds she encountered. And then she saw Precious.
“My dog!” she shouted. “Why do you have him? That’s my childhood dog!”
“This is my dog,” shrieked Blacksad. “You can’t have him. We shared our souls. I’ve had this dog for all my life since 30 minutes ago.”
Gwen gently led Blacksad to bed and took Precious away.
The party stayed in Quartz Peak, aiding in the rebuilding. Croak fixed the outhouse. Sulxax destroyed the outhouse with a geyser of vinegar. Croak fixed it again.
Gwen led efforts to rebuild and paid 1000 gold to each member of the party. After a week had passed, she approached the party.
“You are the only one I can rely on,” said Gwen. She gave a letter to Croak and got his word that it would not be opened. “It’s an official guild job. I need you to deliver a letter… to my brother, Edwin, in Noname.”
Shan told Blacksad that she knew no antidote to his poison, but that the hornet sigil had something to do with an assassin’s guild in Noname. He should seek out a former pharmacy student named Liadon. She had met him in university when she was studying forensic anthropology. Shan gave Blacksad three vials of medicine, which he should take in drops. They would help him manage his pain. She also gave him a dose of morphine large enough to end his life, in case he wished to die painlessly.
“After a couple weeks, you’re going to be paralyzed,” said Shan. “It’s a bad way to die. You might prefer the morphine.”