The Royal Order of Silly Hats

Getting Stoned the Hard Way
The City of Haysport.... is under attack!

Hunny tore down fences and torched the petting zoo of lies. The crowd turned on the petting zoo owner, demanding refunds. Hunny gave out her business card: Hunny’s Turtle Kingdom: For All Your Petting Needs.

“Come to my petting zoo,” she said. “For you, only double price!”

At the Skink Arena, Rudy bet his life savings on a decrepit, elderly skink with 1:200 odds. After an upset, he walked away with 90,000 gold. With it, he bought a carriage (for all his gold) and an aurochs to pull it.

Mithian bought a silken loincloth.

The party reunited. A portrait artist brought them to the edge of the cliff and promised them the best in rock art. The view of the sea was stunning: the sun shone over the ocean… and the seven ships approaching Haysport. Rudy whipped out his skyglass and saw that these ships were flying a flag bearing the emblem of the cult of leviathan.

Mithian sent her pseudodragon ahead with a letter of warning for Glink and Gwen. With some urgency, the party hired the services of taxi skinks. Rudy paid extra for them. They rented two skinks so the party could ride double.

“I want my own skink,” said Hunny.

“That will be 50 extra gold,” said the skink taxi-renter / portrait artist.

Hunny looked imploringly to Rudy.

Rudy sighed. “Okay. Give the lady her own skink.”

As the party descended down the side of the floating island, Rudy fell out of his saddle and cast fly to save himself. (Blacksad helped by shooting an arrow at his back.) Hunny convinced her taxi skink to join her petting zoo for its ‘better working conditions and benefits package.’ The skink, named Peaches, vowed to bring its children Pit and Leaf as well.

After a brief stop at Quartz Peak to rest and rob Odrick’s old cubby, the party rode on the back of dinosaur-Rudy. The pseuodragon returned with candy-smeared lips and Mithian learned that Glink had been spoiling him.

When they reached Haysport, the port and slums were already burning. Barbarians were putting out fires and rescuing civilians. A wall of water was suspended over the merchant district.

The party landed at Tea Hill. Three Gorgons were fighting soldiers, Glink, and the sphinx named Spire Guitar. As soon as they landed, a gorgon breathed green vapours over them. Rudy was immediately turned to stone. Mithian would have been too, but her fey boyfriend intervened and warmed her soul with his touch.

After a fierce battle, in which Spire Guitar and several soldiers were turned to stone, the party managed to destroy the gorgons. While Glink sang songs of inspiration, Blacksad rained arrows upon them. Mithian summoned an air elemental to buffet the gorgons with wind.

“Let’s blow these bitches away,” she said.

Hunny, with the help of her blood-splattered animals (including a giant elk), delivered blow after blow upon the gorgons until their metal plates split apart. Mithian finished it off by sending the last one to the not-nice room.

Hunny found a statue of a horse on the corpse of a gorgon. “How do I find out what this is?”

“You ask a wizard,” said Glink.

The party stared at the stone statue of Rudy. Blacksad sobbed over Spire Guitar. But this was not the time to worry about that. The city was still burning.

Mithian sent her pseudodragon, Peter, to scout ahead. Through Peter’s eyes, she saw three things: Shan was sitting on the corpse of a gorgon, prying off its plates. Jenny was fighting a desperate battle using water magic to drive back gorgons to protect the townspeople. Gwen was being attacked by a golem.

“We have to save Gwen,” said Blacksad.

“Well, we could sent Glink to help Jenny…”

“The princess is in danger?” said Glink. “I must go to her right away.”

Mithian sighed and mentally yanked Peter away from a candy store he had been trying to rob. She sent him to Shan to direct her to help Jenny.

The party charged down to the port. Mithian used her air elemental to blow around smoke, revealing smashed warehouses and a trail of clay. They followed it to the docks, where Gwen stood with two soldiers at her sides, their backs to the ocean. A clay golem approached them, reaching for Gwen.

“We’ve lured this creature away from the people,’ shouted Gwen. “And now we must trust in our allies and fight. I want all of you to live through this day.”

Glink, Blacksad, and Mithian climbed on top of nearby warehouses. Gwen directed her soldiers to fight their best. Spells and arrows rained down from above. Blacksad cast Hail of Thorns around the golem.

A gorgon emerged from an alleyway and charged into the party’s flank.

…And then Croak emerged from the sea, his slimy armour coated in layers of seaweed.

“They took my ships,” said Croak. “I’m here to take them back!”

Croak used misty step to teleport right next to the golem, but his blows were too slippery to land.

“You asshole!” screamed Blacksad. “You didn’t even call.”

Hunny struck the clay golem with an axe. “He never truly cared about us. He’s not even here to see us.

Blacksad was weeping. “We’ve been through so much… and you just show up… in the middle of a battle…”

Hunny struck the golem again and again. It shed clay with every strike. Then Blacksad took it down with an adamantine arrow. The clay melted away, leaving a fist-sized diamond.

Blacksad used the ring of ram’s strength to punch the gorgon into spikes. The air elemental enveloped it, shredding it with wind. Blacksad found a figurine shaped like a fly in the ruins of its body.

“Capture Croak,” Gwen barked. “I will not forgive treason.”

The party had a bad case of the butterfingers. Blacksad fell over and stubbed his knee. Croak slipped right out of Hunny’s fingers.

“Too bad I’m out of spells,” said Mithian.

“I thought you still had one left,” said Hunny.

Mithian examined her manicured nails. “Out of spells.”

Croak disappeared into the sea.

The party checked on Jenny and Shan. Together, they had killed two gorgons on their own.

Mithian patted Jenny on the head. “Good job.”

Blacksad asked Shan if she could heal people who had been turned to stone.

“Sure, I can turn people to stone.”

“From stone. From stone,” said Mithian.

“I would need some diamond dust…”

I will smash the diamond,” Hunny whispered. She put it in a sack and smashed it with her hammer. The satisfying crunch reminded her of cracking crusty bread… or crushing a pillar of glass holding up the soul of the world.

Gwen commanded her guards to collect diamonds from the nobles and bring them to Shan to use.

“I will smash all the diamonds,” said Hunny.

Blacksad gave the journal to Gwen to read. “I think we need to talk about some things.”

Gwen frowned. “I know what they want. There’s a door that leads to a cavern beneath the city. Only the true ruler of Noname can open it… Glink! Come to me. Read this.”

Glink confirmed that the person from the journal was Lady Elise. Wistfully, he told them about the fateful meeting he had had with the whale. “It was the winter solstice at an hour so late that the creature could only have been seen by poets and dreamers. The whale emerged from the stars and hovered above the palace…”

Blacksad scribbled in his journal.

“Then we know what these cultists seek,” said Gwen.

Hunny squirmed. “A pillar!”

“Still. This will be answered,” said Gwen firmly. “I can’t leave my incompetent brother on the throne.”

Blacksad shook his head. “You can’t go there. If you go there, they will have what they want.”

“I’m not that stupid,” Gwen snapped. “I’ll stay here. You are my top agents. I need you to infiltrate the capital and capture my brother. Research whatever you can about the beast that slumbers beneath the city. It walks the dreams of my people, but no one knows what it is. And if you see Croak… arrest him.”

“Oh,” said Blacksad. “Shit.”

Meet the (Barbarian) Parents
Wait, are we the bad guys now?

The party landed on a large floating island. In grassland stained by pigments, they found the burned ruins of an old house. Hunny knocked over the remains of the charred walls. Hoxie tripped and found a trapdoor leading to an underground cellar. Mithian cast Detect Magic and found the grounds carried the taint of divination magic.

At the base of the stairs, there was an ancient pool filled with metallic liquid. Hoxie fished into it with a broom and discovered a necklace with a pendant shaped like a cresting wave: the symbol of the cultists who had tried to drown the world.

In a ruined bookcase, Hoxie found a journal. Reading it, the party learned of an elf who conspired alongside Zeke to free the whale… by destroying the pillars of the world.

“Let’s meet him,” said Hunny. “We can tell him he’s lonely and his boardgame tastes suck! …He just needs a friend.”

“Oh, okay. An insane person, a child-beater, and a heroine addict,” said Blacksad. “What a great choice in friends.”

“Should we go see Glink and ask him who gave him the guitar?” said Rudy.

“That’s threeee daaaaays away!” said Hoxie, Hunny, and Mithian at the same time.

Blacksad shook his head. “We went to a genie’s world for six months and the world went to hell and we can’t take three days to travel back to Haysport?”

“Oh, Oh!” said Hunny. “Does the pet detective have a pigeon?”

“I got this,” said Rudy. He walked away from the party for a time.

“I don’t know, man,” said Blacksad. “Are we the bad guys? I don’t even know anymore.”

“Welll,” said Hoxie. “We broke the pillars and we killed the guardian…”

“Not to mention the mass turtle abortion.”

“If we smash the pillars, we free the whale?”

“Well,” said Mithian. “You can’t create or destroy energy. You can only change its form. So… does that not mean we could remake a pillar?”

“Then we could break them and create new ones?”

Blacksad turned to Hoxie. “If all this is true, do you know what this means? Maybe Zeke made you murder the king.”

“Nah, I was drunk.”

“Was just trying to offer you an out, but if you want to own that…”

“I guess we should stay with my parents,” muttered Hunny.

The party fell silent.

“Your parents?” said Mithian.

“Uh, yeah,” said Hunny. “They live here. Did I not mention that?”

Hunny led the party to a cozy cottage in the ruins of a fort. They were greeted by a bear-sized dog with a femur bone in its mouth.

“No sudden movements!” barked Hunny. She casually patted the dog on her way by.

At the door, they met Hunny’s father, Gregg, dressed in a leather apron that said ‘Raid the Kitchen!’

Hunny shared the story of her parents’ true love. Her father had fallen for his barbarian captor after she had carried him away on a raid and kept him as a domestic worker. He had been a human anthropologist studying orc culture, so he adapted readily to his environments, though everyone thought he was a bit lame.

As Gregg cleaned Hunny’s weapons and made the party comfortable, they could hear Hunny’s mother arguing in the other room. Hunny explained that her mother was a raid consultant, so all the other barbarians came to her for advice.

They decided to ask Hunny’s mother, Mollases (Molly for short), to unite the barbarians for a great raid on Noname. Hunny knocked. An axeblade pierced the door.

“I’m working!” shouted Molly.

“Mom, it’s me!”

“Hold on, dear.”

The party heard a smashing sound. The door opened and Molly stepped out. A man lay slumped against the deck.

“What happened?”

“Call waiting.”

Molly greeted her daughter with criticisms of her life choices. After all this time, she visited her mother as the owner of the second greatest petting zoo in the barbarian world? Hunny vowed to find and destroy the other petting zoo to earn her mother’s respect.

“Hey, lady,” said Blacksad. “Do you know anything about that burned house on the plains?”

“The one that belonged to that elf lady? I burned it down.”

“Wow, wow. You are my hero,” said Hoxie. “And the ruins this house is built on?”

“Oh, I killed some robed humans and used the rubble from their homes to build mine.”

“Can you be my new mom?” said Hoxie. “You. are. my. hero.”

“Wait, wait,” said Blacksad. “Elf lady?”

“Do you think it was Lady Elise?” said Mithian. “From the court of Noname. She was an elf and she used divination magic.”

Rudy stepped out for ten minutes and returned pale-faced. “We need to go back to Haysport right now.”

“Why?” said Mithian. “Do you really think that none of us notice this going on? Where do you keep going?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“I am worried about it.”

The party ate like guests, feasting on raw meat that dripped blood. They convinced Hunny’s mother to lead all of the barbarians in an epic raid on Noname. She warned them that the neighboring island was lorded over by a wizard jerk.

Blacksad wandered into Hunny’s room, which was filled by a rock-hard bed, barbells, the skulls of the other barbarian children she had bested in the third grade, someone else’s baby teeth, and her old training weapons, including her bronzed baby axe.

After spending the night and helping to humanely dispose of the man who had been knocked unconscious in Molly’s study, the party set out for the next island. They saw a bridge made of fallen logs that spanned the gap between islands.

Hunny charged ahead… only to lash out in horror with her hammer as the bridge squirmed and wiggled underfoot. Broken in half, the trees tumbled into the abyss. Rudy managed to transform Hunny into a quetzalcoatlus in time for her to rescue the sapient tree from falling into the chasm. Mithian engaged it in a philosophical discussion on the meaning of life.

Flying on Hunny’s dinosaur back, the party traveled towards a paint-stained tower. The wind howled like a child’s imitation of a ghost. The grass sighed underfoot. Even the tower itself wriggled when the landed on it. It had no door and no windows.

“What is wrong with this island?” said Blacksad.

“I’m starting to think that Hunny’s mother was right,” said Rudy. “Wizard jerk.”

Rudy knocked on the tower, causing a door to appear. He and Hoxie entered, finding that the room inside looked like a giant mouth and ribcage. The door disappeared behind them because Blacksad stabbed the wall with an arrow, causing it to scream.

Rudy lit a torch, which also screamed. He followed the stairwell down to a locked door. He knocked, claiming to be a food deliveryman. The door opened, revealing a pimple-faced teenage half-orc named Glendyn, who went by Dyn for short. The boy explained that he had used his magic to make friends of the world outside because his human friends had been brutally murdered by the barbarian across the bridge.

Rudy offered the lonely boy a spell to make a friend. In return, Dyn gave him a scroll bearing a powerful illusion spell, and he allowed the rest of the party to enter the tower.

Mesmerized by Mithian’s beauty, Dyn swore to join the Royal Order of Silly Hats. After a bit of light flirting from Mithian, he gave her his great treasure: a hole that can be used to escape into other dimensions, though he could never predict where it would end up. Mithian promised to dance with him in Haysport.

The party continued on to a barbarian camp on the next island. There, they met the leader of the Hock, Lagenar. The man encouraged them to visit the local petting zoo, which he believed was superior to the one in Quartz Peak.

Hunny punched him and stormed over to the Discount Petting Zoo, where she discovered that all the animals were just woolen skinks in knitted outfits. Blacksad tore the car-ears from the nearest skink…

“Hey!” shouted one of the barbarians. “Those people just ripped off that cat’s ears. That’s not okay.”

An angry mob formed around them.

My Little Alicorn Polymorph
Earthquake? More like whalequake, am I right?

The party set out to find the Horn to convince them to join Gwen’s army and to return the woolen skinks to their rightful owners.

The tinkle of bells in Hoxie’s mind told her to use her magic wand. She waved it carelessly into the air, casting slow on Blacksad and Hunny. It wore off after 5 minutes, but Blacksad was a hypochondriac about it for most of the rest of the day.

Mithian turned into a mammoth. Rudy cast flight on her and the party climbed on. Hoxie’s baby turtle (Squirtle) held on with his super-buff turtle muscles and by chomping onto mammoth tail.

Landing on the next floating island, mammoth-Mithian spotted the herd of woolen skinks in the distance. She charged towards them, trumpeting.

The herd stampeded, tossing some of their barbarian riders, and charging for the edge of the floating island. Zurud, leader of the Horn, approached the party and stated that if they were not strangers (therefore guests) he would kill them where they stand.

Rudy rode Horse ahead and used fireworks to turn the herd just before they plunged over the edge.

Rudy, Hunny, and Mithian tried to box in the skinks, but a third of them (still bearing riders) bolted and drove off the cliff into the void. Their bodies were tossed carelessly by warped gravity, endlessly rising and falling, smashing against islands.

One of the skinks bit Rudy and tried to swallow him. Hunny rushed up to charm the skink with a potion of animal friendship.

“But wait. How can I feed a potion to the skink while it’s eating Rudy?”

Lying ‘slowed’ in the mud, Blacksad muttered, “Again. You drink the potion. You.

The skink tried to swallow Rudy, choked, and spat him out.

Zurud recognized Hunny, who had pushed him in the mud once when they were children. He told the party of his grand plan to tie the islands back together with skink rope. Rudy told him of Gwen’s war and asked if he would be interested now that they had saved 3/4s of the herd from danger. Zurud declared that he would exchange no favours with outsiders who had not even engaged in a ritual poetry battle.

Blacksad stepped up.

Hello fellow, you seem so contrarian
For someone who calls himself a barbarian
We have come to take these lizards
Sorry for the trouble with this here wizard

Zurud, moved to tears, shared his own poetry in response:

Softly the axe falls
Red rain
Damp earth
Footprints in rusty clay

The earth drinks
Marks fade
The trails we leave
Are lost
Until only the axe remains

“Sometimes I poem too,” said Hunny.

Now that poetry had been exchanged, Zurud swore eternal brotherhood (and sisterhood) with the party. He agreed to their request to journey to fight with Gwen and squish puny humans.

The next island was high above them, in the shadow of a looming thunderstorm. Rudy cast fly on Hunny and got her to carry a rope and an immovable rod up to the next island. She spoke the command word (cupcakes) to fix it in place, allowing the rest of the party to climb up. Since her arms were already burning from carrying the huge skink rope, she used her feet to help pull them up. It was a great workout.

Everyone sprawled out to recover from the ordeal of climbing.

Hoxie giggled. The bells on her hat tinkled and suddenly she was surrounded by three duplicates.

“Does she always do this?” said Rudy.

“I think that hat needs to go,” said Blacksad. He reached for Hoxie.

“But which one is the real meeee,” said Hoxie.

Blacksad and Rudy each grabbed a Hoxie, but they vanished. Hunny reached for a remaining Hoxie, but a pool of grease formed below her. She tripped and fell. Hoxie giggled.

Tiny party hats appeared on Blacksad and Hunny’s heads. Hunny lost a foot of height and Blacksad gained a foot. Mithian reached out a hand to touch the place where Hunny’s head had been… and poked her in the eye.

A mouth formed on the hat. “Look at that thunderstorm. What a great place to go for an adventure, am I right?”

Rudy used detect magic on the hat and determined its enhancement was related to the school of necromancy. He sensed the touch of a god of death.

“Well,” said Rudy. “I think we can leave this alone. It doesn’t seem like an immediate threat. I mean… it’s not hurting her.”

“It’s not healthy,” snapped Blacksad.

Mithian examined her nails. “This from the guy with the heroine addiction.”

“I can quit heroine any time I want, Mom.

The party spent the night on the dry, wind-swept plains. In the morning, the clouds looming over the island were pink with the rising sun. The thunderstorms had stopped.

An enormous chain dangled from the bottom of the clouds. As they neared it, they saw the chain was actually a double-helix spiral staircase ascending into the sky. Rudy commanded Horse to wait for them.

“Oh, oh,” said Hunny excitedly. “If we run into a genie again, ask for an airship.”

They climbed until they emerged in a reception room filled with silk curtains and silver-gilt chairs. They stole enough drapes that they could see their way more clearly through the room.

They found a stable filled with Pegasus skeletons. In one stall, an emaciated alicorn with golden eyes stood alone. Rudy cleaned some ancient straw and Hunny fed it to the beast, speaking soothingly to it.

Hoxie found a shed and dug through it until she found some slightly moist oats. She found a false bottom on a wardrobe and pried it loose, revealing moldering books. Rudy dug through them and found a book about the castle, describing a gem called “The Heart of the Sky.” The party concluded that this gem must be another one of the pillars of the world.

They opened a door in the room and found it lead to open skies.

“Let’s just close that for safety,” said Blacksad.

They returned to the reception hall and went down a hallway where wind buffeted them back. Through its windows, they saw a courtyard filled with treasure, protected by the winds of an endless twister. Hoxie tried to jump out the window, but Hunny held her back.

Once they had passed through the hallway of winds, the party entered an enormous room filled with carvings of whales. At the center of a pyramid of stairs was a pedestal bearing an enormous gem, held in the embrace of carved wings. Behind the gem, another double-helix stairwell led up into the sky.

Rudy checked the book for information about the treasure in the courtyard.

“These offerings, given by those devoted to the gods of wind, will remain guarded for as long as the Heart of the Sky remains whole.”

Hoxie dashed up the stairs. “I’m gonna break it. I’m gonna break it.”

The Pegasus reared, snorting in distress.

Hunny grabbed Hoxie by the scruff of her neck and then tied a child leash to her.

Hoxie, grumbling, found some sapphire whale statuses that were small enough to carry and shoved them into her bag of holding.

The alicorn, striding fearlessly, walked up the spiral staircase. The party followed.

“Unite the barbarians,” Blacksad muttered. “Go unite the barbarians and now look. Pegasus skeletons and wind.”

They emerged onto a craggy hillside under heavy cloud cover. The air smelled of ammonia and chlorine. The alicorn led and the party followed it into the clouds. Dragonflies alighted on their arms.

“Well, this is nice,” said Hunny.

The alicorn stopped at the top of a hill. It turned to face them. The party gathered close.

And then the alicorn returned to her original shape: a cloud giant. She revealed herself as Azura, a bounty hunter hired by Edwin to capture the murderers of his father. The party tried to negotiate and buy her out, but she declared that her word was her honour.

A harsh wind rose, pushing the party back towards the edge of an overhanging cliff. The conditions turned aside arrows and thrown daggers. Every step towards the giant was against the push of the wind.

Hoxie pointed her magic wand at the giant and shouted, “Pickles!” Lightning struck the giant. She seemed unfazed.

Mithian cast blight. Rudy used magic to turn Hunny into a giant ape. She buffeted the giant with a barrage of punches.

Hoxie climbed onto her leg and stabbed until the giant’s boots overflowed with blood.

The giant staggered. She turned invisible and tried to reposition, but the blood trail she left behind betrayed her location. Rudy hurled a fireball, scorching both her and the earth around her.

The ground shuddered. From beneath them, a low moan rose. The trembling knocked Blacksad onto the edge of the cliff. As he dangled above it, he saw that the cavern mouth below had teeth. They were on the backs of an enormous floating whale. It was rising, leaving the islands behind.

While Blacksad held on for dear life, Rudy scooped the loot that the giant had been carrying: a brilliant helm, a deck of cards, and a bag of sapphires.)

“Let’s give it an animal friendship potion so it calms down,” said Hunny.

“For the last time…”

“Oh, right.”

Hunny drank the potion and climbed down to the creature’s eye. She looked into its gaze and spoke gently.

“Where are you going?” she asked.


“Where is home?”


“We have to get off this thing,” said Blacksad.

Everyone climbed onto giant ape Hunny and Rudy cast fly.


As the party descended, they saw that the castle they had been exploring was dangling from the whale by thick chains: the stairwells they had ascended. The whale’s side was deeply scarred.

“We’ll help you, friend,” said Blacksad.


“I don’t think I can break through chains that large,” said Rudy.

The party landed safely. Horse trotted out, carrying an enormous bone. They watched as the whale rose further and further away, until he vanished into the starry sky.

"I untie myself and fart in the direction of the bobcat."

The party woke to a letter from Croak.

Dear Companions,

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?”

“Uh, anything?”

“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.

Diplomacy achieved!

The King is Dead: Long Live the King
Drunken Bender Regicide

The party built a raft that could float the dragon turtle’s enormous severed head to Noname, where they could turn it in for the bounty. In the wreckage of sailboats, Croak found Hoxie lying under a smashed boat. He healed her. She immediately claimed a turtle egg, which hatched.

The party named their turtles:

  • Megan Myrtle
  • Notortus BIG (Biggy for short)
  • Squirtle (the runt of the litter, with a malformed flipper and a lolling tongue)

Hoxie told the party (minus Croak) about what she had done while she was not in the party:

She got drunk and tried to rob the manor, only to be stopped by the butler with dimension door. She tried to rob the palace and failed. Solxax followed her to a gambling den, where she lost at so many games of chance that she had to sell Solxax into slavery to cover her debts. Then she stole a boat and departed to sea to search for them. A storm blew her onto the dragon turtle’s island, where she lay unconscious until the party found her.

With baby turtles in tow alongside the severed head of their grandfather, the party sailed to Noname. Once there, they learned from the locals that the king had been murdered by agents of the would-be usurper, Gwen. A sigil had been left at the scene belonging to the Royal Order of Silly Hats.

“Oh, but we’re part of that order,” said Croak.

Hunny knocked all three guards unconscious and hid them in convenient barrels.

Mithian had her pseudodragon carry a letter to King Edwin:

“Hey Edwin Bro,

Sorry about your father. That sucks. We’ve bravely taken care of the dragon turtle and like have his head and stuff. If you can come down to the harbor, we can do a tradesies for his head for the reward. Oh, and then we can take your painting to your sister. Also, Blacksad says hi and he misses you and wants to see your face.

From Mithian & Co"

The party spent the night in Clove and Rosalee’s warehouse. A cloaked figure knocked on the door at midnight: King Edwin.

He reassured the party that he did not believe they had known about Gwen’s treacherous plot to murder the king. He agreed to pay them the 10,000 gold bounty for slaying the dragon turtle.

He still hoped that he could reach his sister’s heart and convince her to embrace peace. He handed off the wrapped painting to Blacksad and told him that only he should view it before Gwen. He offered the party the chance to take their gold and flee. They could live in the countryside as petty nobles. But they were not convinced. They wanted to speak to Gwen and learn the truth.

Concerned that the famine had still not been lifted in Noname, Croak sent a letter to the guild-master:

“Dear Glink,

“I killed the dragon turtle. Please send those grain ships I requested to Noname.

PS: Did you guys kill the king?

Sincerely, Croak"

The party set sail. On the way, the whispers in Hoxie’s mind made a pact with her: so long as she shouted a cool attack name, she could use the power of a ‘cool toy.’ Hoxie chose her attack name wisely: Pickles! Into her hands fell a mysterious pink wand with wings cradling its weighted tip.

The journey continued uneventfully until a strange mist rolled in. Mithian cast Detect Magic with a dismissive wave. The mist stunk of magic, so she sent her pseudodragon in to scout. Beyond the mist was a strange land of slowly-flowing water. There were transparent trees filled with schools of tiny fish. A coral castle in the distance.

Against the protests of Blacksad and Mithian, the party set a course for the mysterious island. There they were greeted by a water elemental shaped like a frog with transparent organs. Its body was like blown-glass, but ever-shifting.

“My Lord saw you slay the Dragon Turtle. He was very impressed and would like to meet you.”

The servant led them through a twisted coral castle with porous walls through which elemental servants passed freely. In the throne room, lined by dozens of water elementals, sat an enormous frog in a genie’s robes. His name was Lord Bloat (a title he believed meant ‘grand’ and ‘imposing’ in human speech.) In a pool of water suspended on the wall, he watched all that transpired on the seas.

“Thank you for teaching that old turtle a lesson. Centuries ago, he called me a mud-slinging tadpole. Sorry to say such filthy words around your little ones…” Lord Bloat laughed. “I brought you here to the Plane of Water. I will grant you the honour of being my servants.”

“Uhhh…. Can we sleep on it?” said Mithian.

“Of course. I will prepare rooms for you.”

The party refused to spend the night. Mithian swore that they would return in two weeks after thinking it over. Lord Bloat insisted that they enjoy his hospitality.

“You’re pretty pushy for a fat frog,” said Blacksad.

“Never have I been so generous to base creatures that walk the land,” said Lord Bloat. “If you will not be my servants, I will make you my slaves.”

Hunny smashed one of the water elementals with her hammer. It dissolved into water and reformed, apparently unharmed.

Hoxie giggled. “Oh no. We’re going to die!”

Blacksad shot an arrow into Lord Bloat’s neck. “Oh well.”

Lord Bloat flooded the room. Blacksad climbed onto Megan Myrtle’s back and used her as a platform from which he could shoot. Hoxie used her mysterious wand to read the frog’s mind. Water elementals mobbed the party, trying to drown them. Mithian used her Wand of Lightning Bolts on the crowded elementals. Croak aimed an attack at the lord himself.

As Lord Bloat was electrocuted, the water elementals surrounding him flickered in and out of existence. The party realized that they would need to defeat him before they were drowned.

The party pelted him with attacks of magic and electricity. He turned into a cloud of gas and attempted to slip into the porous wall. Croak pulled out his fan, used Gust of Wind, and forced him to transform back into his physical state.

“Wait!” Lord Bloat raised a hand. “If you spare my life, I will grant you one wish.”

Mithian sighed. “Can I just kill him?”

The party argued over whether to wish for an airship, for power and riches, or for the truth about who murdered the king. They turned to Blacksad to write a wish that could not be twisted.

“We wish for the knowledge of how and who murdered King Haggard of Noname, the most recently deceased king, and the whereabouts of evidence of his murder.”

Lord Bloat grinned. The world went black. The party found themselves in an opulent bedroom, all lace and lacquered furniture. Standing on the bed, pressing a pillow into the king’s face, was Hoxie.

When the vision faded, Blacksad was holding a silk pillow with a monogram H.

“I didn’t do it,” shrieked Hoxie. In her mind, bells tinkled like laughter. “I don’t remember doing that.”

No one believed her.

“Shit,” said Blacksad. “I should have asked him to fix the pillars of the world.”

The party checked the crumbling coral castle for treasure. In dungeons deep underground, they found a girl and a pegasus…. Jenny the Mage. But she was three years older than she should have been.

“How long have you been down here?” said Blacksad.

“Three days,” said Jenny. “I searched for you, but I was trapped here…”

The party realized that the flow of time was wonky on this plane. They fled the castle. Twin moons were setting on the horizon, but when they slipped through the mist, they saw only their own moon.

But the phase was wrong.

“We are so good at this,” said Blacksad. “We should stop at every mystical island we come across.”

“At least we rescued Jenny?”

Mithian sighed. “We could have lived our whole lives without rescuing Jenny.”

They sailed to Haysport. Even from the distance, they could see that time had passed: it was Fall when they had left Noname and now cherry blossoms were in bloom. New walls had been built around the town and the haphazard orchards razed and replaced with tended fields of wheat and vegetables.

Glink, dressed in armor and cape and bearing a dagger shaped like a flute, greeted them at the harbour. He told him that in the six months that had passed, Gwen had built up Haysport, taken Esterway and Lamure, and convinced the hill giants to support her cause. Through it all, Glink had been essential as a PR person, a public speaker who gave super-inspiring speeches.

“In two months,” he said. “We’re going to take Noname and put an end to this war.”

The party met with Gwen and showed her the painting, a stirring portrait of childhood siblings embracing before a sunset. It was stylized like graffiti. The children both had hairy chests.

Gwen was not impressed. “In the face of famine and war, this is what my brother does? Paint?”

“Hey, man,” said Blacksad. “He’s getting a lot better at painting.”

Gwen told the party that she was not responsible for the king’s death.

“That’s true,” said Croak. “Hoxie did it.”

“My father…” Gwen was shaken. “But I suppose it does give me a stronger claim. Is it true?”

Blacksad nodded sagely. “There was a cosmic frog genie who gave us this knowledge. It was some pretty heavy shit.”

Croak demanded to know why Gwen had not sent the grain ships he asked for. Gwen tried to explain basic tactics (like the importance of not sending food to the enemy before a probable siege), but then settled on promising to let Croak lead a relief expedition if he would work with Hoxie’s contacts Clove and Rosalee to convince the populace to support her as rightful Queen. But it would taken a few months to get the grain ships together.

In the meantime, she asked the party to go to the barbarian plains and seek out the support of the half-orcs there. The Plains of Grappalar had been riven by an earthquake and was now broken into seven floating islands. The Royal Order, led by the locally born barbarian Hunny, could go and aid them in their time of need. On the way, they could see Shan in Esterway and break the curse on Croak’s headband-of-no-inner-monologue.

After a stop at the tea shop for potions, drugs, and gossip (including a warning about a bounty hunter targeting Gwen and the Royal Order), the party mounted their turtles and crawled towards Esterway.

But, in the forests outside Haysport, black clouds billowed above them. Ash rained from the sky. The wind that carried the ash was blowing from the direction of the plains…

Showdown: Croak vs Grandfather
"The babies would've just grown up evil anyway."

The party searched the ships docked in Crescent Cove.

Hunny found a mousefolk girl and asked her where she could buy some mousefolk slaves. The girl lead the party to her ship to meet her captain, a cyclops called Percy the One-eyed: Undisputed Lord of Snakes and Ladders.

A familiar man was hanging off the captain’s arm: the bartender who Hunny had assaulted the night before.

“That’s her,” the man said. “She’s the one who beat me up!”

The cyclops bellowed with rage, swung his club down on Hunny, and his crew of misfits surrounded the party. They were a sahuagin, a sea-salt-rusted suit of living armour, and a mousefolk swashbuckler.

Hunny summoned her terror goat and rode him into battle. Startled by the terror goat’s aura, the bartender jumped into the ocean, where he was immediately devoured by a bloodthirsty shark. Enraged by his lover’s death, the cyclops battered Hunny with blow after blow. Mithian used her Wand of Lightning bolt to come to her aid.

…And then the boat was on fire. A shark leaped on deck. All was chaos.

Back-lit by his burning ship, the cyclops fought the barbarian one-on-one on the back of the giant goat. Blows rained on Hunny’s skull and she fell unconscious. The cyclops raised his greatclub to strike the finishing blow…

With the help of Mithian’s Hunger of Hadar (AKA ‘bad-touch place: the not-nice room’) and Blacksad’s Hail of Thorns, the party managed to separate the pirate’s crew from its captain, allowing Croak to shield Hunny long enough for Blacksad to awaken her with a healing spell.

Hunny steered her terror goat into the dark sphere of Hunger of Hadar. She leaped off its back and then dismissed her goat, leaving the cyclops to his doom.

In the dark embrace of Hadar’s not-nice room, Percy dreamed of his husband. When the darkness lifted, no trace of him remained.

The party finished off the sahuagin and dumped the suit of armour into the ocean. Blacksad captured the mousefolk girl to press for information on Rosalie’s whereabouts. He learned that she had been spotted on a ghostly ship that is said to glide over Crescent Cove without touching its waters.

The party put out the fire and looted the boat for drugs and gold.

A tiny dragon, coal-black with a belly that glowed like a lantern, appeared and dropped a letter into the Croak’s hands. It was a call to action from Glink, inviting the party to join Gwen’s new army, which had conquered Haysport.

The party decided that they would try to patch things up between Edwin and Gwen when they deliver the painting.

They boated out to the ghost ship in the cove. After climbing a rope on board, they found that the ship was crewed by silvery floating goldfish that manipulated the ship without touching anything directly. A fish passed through Blacksad’s chest and sent an icy chill through his soul. He numbed the feeling with heroin.

It was then that Zeke appeared, seated on the cabin roof with a careless air. He negotiated with Croak, offering to give up Rosalee in exchange for a favour: he wished to speak to Grandfather, the dragon turtle. There was information that he wanted that he believed only Croak could convince the dragon to part with.

Croak agreed reluctantly, but only if Zeke would give him a potion of storm giant’s strength. Zeke agreed, but only after Croak gave his word that he would keep his end of the bargain.

Zeke told the party the tragic tale of his unrequited-but-purely-platonic love of princess Gwen and how he had formed the cult as a way to bring her to her rightful throne, only to be driven mad when Gwen refused to accept her calling.

Blacksad told him to get over it.

Mithian flirted with Zeke and learned that he was seeking the pillars of the world. He had sought the party out because he believed that Grandfather knew where to find one.

Using his armour to detect Grandfather’s location, Croak steered the ghost ship out to sea. Three days later, they arrived at Silverfrond, a small island of sandy beaches and the ruins of a seaside resort. Broken sailboats littered the waters.

“Grandfather!” called Croak. “We need to talk.”

The dragon turtle surfaced. “Ah, Croak. I was hoping you would do me a little favour…”

“One thing at a time.”

“You see my grandchildren are hatching and I was hoping you would swear to protect—”

“I am here for two things. First, I need you to answer a question. And then I am going to have to fight you.”

The dragon refused to answer.

Zeke, laughing like a madman, disappeared and left the party to their doom.

A bubble floated down and popped, dropping Rosalee into Clove’s arms. The silver fish blinked out of existence and the ghost-ship fell into the sea, where it immediately began to sink.

Croak used the folding boat.

“Leave me here,” he said. The party protested, but he insisted. “if you stay here, you’ll die. I need to do this alone.”

Grandfather aimed a gout of steam at the fleeing boat, but Blacksad used the folding fan to speed the boat out of range. Mithian shrouded the turtle in Hunger of Hadar.

The dragon offered promises and threats. Croak would not be deterred. Boiling water scalded Croak, but his dragon-scale armour resisted it. He grappled onto the turtle’s back and pried a scale off his back, exposing the soft flesh underneath. Then he unloaded blow after blow into the dragon’s back as it struggled to maneuver around to reach him.

The party reached the shores of the island. From the beach, Mithian pelted Grandfather with long-range magic. Blacksad and Hunny found the clutch of dragon turtle eggs and started smashing them.

An egg cracked open and a baby turtle spilled out, instantly bonding with Hunny. She used her Saddle of the Cavalier to mount it and then rode around as she smashed the eggs of the turtle’s would-be siblings.

Through tear-stung eyes, his hands slick with yolk, Blacksad broke egg after egg… until he too came face-to-face with a newly hatched baby turtle. He raised his dagger to end her life… and found that he could not. Instead, he turned aside to find more eggs to destroy. When the newly-hatched baby trundled after him, imitating him by smashing eggs alongside him, Blacksad sobbed.

“It’s like a physical manifestation of your guilt!” said Hunny cheerfully.

Grandfather surfaced and tried to crawl onto the beach to protect the baby turtles. Mithian stood in his path, an orb of pure darkness balanced on her fingertip.

“Noo, please,” he pleaded. “If you will spare these children, I will never again target human ships. I swear it.”

“Every promise you have ever made has been a lie,” said Croak. “Your reign of terror has gone on long enough.”

“If I survive,” Grandfather spat, “I will wage war on humankind. I will kill every last one of you.”

Mithian put her hands on her hips. “I’m only half-human.”

She unleashed Hunger of Hadar. Minutes passed and Grandfather did not appear. Only the sounds of cracking eggshells broke the silence.

When the darkness receded, grandfather lay on his side, blood leaking from between his scales, his breathing ragged. A turtle egg cracked open in the sands in front of him. A turtle flopped out and looked up at its grandfather with innocent eyes. Mithian killed the newborn with a casual flick of her wrist.

“Wait,” Grandfather rasped. “The pillar… I’ll tell you… if you spare them. It’s on Quailcrest mountain.”

“We don’t care about that.” Croak ended it with a sword through the dragon’s throat.

Zeke appeared on Grandfather’s back. Croak sliced him in half and his cloak fell away in tatters, empty. Only the cultist’s mad laughter remained.

Blacksad, Hunny, and Croak agreed not to smash the remaining eggs. Instead, they would find a way to raise the turtles away from humankind and keep them safe, teaching them proper values. Mithian disagreed, but she let it pass.

All that remained was to divide up Grandfather’s hoard, a mound of coins of every currency, totaling over 12,000 gold. The weight of treasure was almost more than the folding boat could hold.

“We could sell these dragon turtle eggs on the black market. And let’s claim the reward too,” said Hunny, holding out the wanted poster that promised 10,000 gold to the slayer of the scourge of the seas. “We just need his head…”

The party looked at the ship-sized corpse of the dragon turtle… and wished Hoxie hadn’t run off with the Bag of Holding.

Solving Problems by Leaving it to the Authorities
Giraffe: The Other White Meat

After the echoes of grating sounds had died away, the party finished exploring the assassin’s base. They found a set of crates, which Hunny smashed open… revealing jars of liquid, silks, spices, and all of Blacksad’s gear. When the base started flooding with sewage water, they hastily escaped and met up with the guards above.

They headed to the palace to see if they could find a doctor who would be able to determine if the bottles they found contained medicine. Hunny ran ahead and burst in demanding a soft bed. She was arrested by the guards… but Prince Edwin Elderin had them stand down.

The prince promised to do anything in his power to save his friend, Blacksad. He had his servants wake up every doctor in Noname and set up the party in a VIP suite for traveling dignitaries. Hunny curled up in a canopy bed after cuddling with a pile of puppies in the Fluffy Dog Room.

As they waited for doctors, the party talked to Edwin about his plan to convince Gwen to rule alongside him. The prince decided to express his feelings through art by having the party deliver a heartfelt painting to his sister.

Doctors tried various methods on Blacksad: charcoal, leeches, an all-chicken diet, and the medicine stolen from the assassins. By morning, he felt clear-eyed and healthy, aside from the lingering effects of addiction. The party awoke to find that their gear had been rifled through, though nothing was taken.

Edwin was busy in meetings, so he asked the party to meet with him in the evening. They head into town to do some shopping.

At the Crystal Cadaver, a scroll and curios shop, they bought five grab bags containing a Wand of Thunderbolt, Elixir of Health, Necklace of Adaptation, Scroll of Sun Flare, and an Adamantine chain shirt. Hunny bought a Saddle of the Cavalier. Croak bought a Headband of Intellect that was cursed to make him blurt out too much information. The shopkeep threw in a folding boat for free. Mithian tried to get the shopkeeper to track down an item, but the woman would only agree if the party was willing to beat up a rival shopkeeper. So everyone just left.

“Elixir of Health,” said Croak. “Did we just randomly pull an item that would have cured Blacksad of poisoning instantly?”

Down the street, people started shouting and breaking windows. Buildings caught fire. As Croak went to investigate, Mythian and Hunny bought healing potions from PaPaPa-Potions across the street. Hunny spent all her gold on ten Potions of Animal Friendship.

Hunny grinned. “I can totally mount something to claim it as my own and say ‘Now you’re mine for an hour.”

Mithian bought a couple love potions… and then told the shopkeeper that the lady across the street wants to beat him up for some reason.

They caught up with Croak… and saw that the whole district was rioting. They stopped a rioter and asked him why they were doing this. The working class of Noname was starving, since no boats had made it to the island in three months and they believed the nobles were hoarding produce from the farmlands. The nobles had forbidden boat travel out of the city for the sake of public safety, trapping the people in slums where they could only starve.

The rioters attacked the exotic animal zoo called McWallbucks with the intention of making meals out of the animals. They converged on the port, burning warehouses and boats. Led by a man in silver and white armour called General League, the royal guards pushed through the crowd and clubbed the rioters. The party talked it over and decided that this was a problem the guards should handle, since it was a matter of civic order. It was Edwin’s problem.

“Croak,” said Blacksad. “I think we need to tell you that Grandfather is not a nice turtle. He is totally the one destroying all the boats.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. He only attacks pirates.”

“No, man.”

“I believe he’s innocent… but I think we need to talk to him. Maybe he can do something about this.”

A little girl in a sunflower-pattern dress approached Croak and asked if he was talking about the dragon turtle. Her eyes were glazed and unfocused. The party followed her, knowing that she was in a trance.

The girl led them to a man dressed in a trench coat. The stench of rotting meat filled the air. The man asked Croak to introduce him to Grandfather. Croak asked if he was Zeke, but he did not reply. Instead, he told the party to come to the Crescent Cove… and then collapsed into a pile of desiccated remains. Blacksad took his locket… and found it contained a picture of the dead man himself when he had been alive. Hunny shook the little girl until she snapped out of her trance, then the party turned her over to the guards to take home.

The party head back to talk to Edwin… and found the prince was stuck in a series of tense meetings about how to handle the food shortage. The prince decided to open up the city’s winter stores to the people to get through the crisis, even if his father disagreed.

Edwin offered to sneak the party into his father’s war room to check the maps for the cove. But Croak and Blacksad were worried he would get in trouble, so they decided to track down Clove and Rosalee instead to see if they knew the geography of the area well. On the way, Croak wrote a letter to Glink and had it sent by bird.

When they arrived at the warehouse, they found that its windows had been smashed and the building looted. Croak asked a local, who told him that the mob had targeted the mousefolk because their ship was the only one that had passed safely into the port. They had also broken into McWallbucks and eaten all the giraffes.

Blacksad found a blood trail and followed it to an alley where a blind kobold beggar asked for change. Blacksad left him a… present.

The blood trail led to Clove, who was huddled by a dumpster, hiding from the people of the slums. Clove shot an arrow at them and missed. She told them to come no closer. Blacksad saw that she was bleeding from a wound on her chest where one of her ribs was protruding, so he healed her. Croak used his Elixir of Health to cure her alcoholism and allow her to think clearly.

Clove begged the party to help her rescue her sister. Someone had taken Rosalee and the other mousefolk during the middle of the riot, but Clove had only just barely managed to escape. The party asked her to describe the people who had taken Rosalee, but she could only remember that there had been a girl wearing a sunflower-patterned dress.

Croak asked Clove if she knew the location of Crescent Cove. It turned out to be a smuggler’s bay frequently-used by mousefolk and other non-humans to get around the royal family’s prejudiced trading restrictions. She agreed to lead them there.

Under the cover of darkness, the party went to the farmlands beyond the noble district and used Croak’s folding boat to cross the waters. Mithian said ‘you got this’ while Croak and Hunny powered the boat across and Blacksad scanned the waters for rocks.

As the party approached the bay in their boat, Croak announced that they were landing. Pirates emerged onto the decks of the ships beached in the cove, but they decided to ignore them. (Everyone carefully avoided mentioning the word ‘pirate’ around Croak.) Clove led the party to a bar where shady dealings were typically done. She warned everyone to act with an air of confidence and keep a ’don’t fuck with me’ expression at all times.

They walked into the bar, where a group of elderly men were playing Snakes and Ladders. The bartender asked if they would like a drink. Mithian tried to charm him into providing information, but he turned out to be gay.

Hunny punched the bartender in the face and asked him if he had seen any mousefolk. He told her that he had seen some people (he assumed slavers) with mousefolk tied up one of the boats, but he didn’t remember which one. Hunny smashed some bottles and then knocked the game of Snakes and Ladders onto the floor.

Outside, Croak said, “There are 12 boats… We will split up and search each one.”

He used the control word for the folding boat to set up a cabin they could use to rest. At dawn they would strike.

The Butterfly Effect
"I need to start a graveyard in my petting zoo."

There was a standoff between Hoxie, Mithian, and the assassins at the clinic called Queen Anne’s Mercy. Just as Mithian tried to convince Judith that she was good for the money to buy a poisoner’s kit, Blacksad broke a window and tumbled inside. He had Jeeves carry him into battle.

Hoxie used Detect Thoughts and sensed that Judith was going to attack. She tore a canoe patch off her cloak, retreated through the doorway, and threw the canoe behind her to block the assassins’ path. Mithian fled through the window with Misty Escape. She sent her pseudodragon to find help.

A wolf emerged from the hall and tore into Hoxie’s flesh. Judith snapped the canoe in half and cleared the way for her minion, a kenku dressed in a cloak. He advanced on Hoxie, ready to skewer her with his daggers. Sounds of rasping metal filled the room.

Blacksad asked the butler to take Hoxie to safety. Out of respect, the butler obeyed his wishes and used Dimension Door to bring Hoxie to the street in front of the clinic… leaving Blacksad to fight alone. He leaped out of the window and face-planted beside the hedges. Judith knocked him unconscious with the butt of her dagger.

Solxax and Croak showed up with ten royal guards. They met up with Hoxie and Mithian and then marched inside the clinic. Croak told the receptionist, Willow, to take a day off. The group searched through the clinic and found Blacksad’s blood-trail, which lead into the middle of a room but stopped. Hunny smashed the ground and realized that the floor echoed as if there were a hollow space below. It was Hoxie who discovered a hidden doorway behind a bookcase.

Croak charged into the assassin’s secret underground base, immediately triggering a pressure plate that pelted him with poisoned needles that could not penetrate his armour. Hunny smashed a crate full of ceramic unicorns. Mithian sent her pseudodragon ahead to scout the dining hall.

Hoxie stole a jester’s hat with golden bells from a pedestal at the top of a stairwell. Whenever its bells tinkle, she hears laughter in her mind. Mithian scooped up two of the golden platters on the table… only to realize they were normal platters coated with golden paint and glue. They stuck to her hands, leaving her unable to cast spells with somatic components. The guards tried to eat chicken from the platters and quickly succumbed to poison.

Croak charged ahead into the hallway, only to fall into a spike-pit that snapped shut above him. Solxax managed to avoid the pitfall, but tripped a wire that caused the tunnel to collapse above him. He narrowly escaped being crushed, but the pathway was blocked. Mithian used Move Earth from her ring of spell storing and used it to clear out the debris. The spell uncovered a hidden tunnel behind a thin layer of rock.

Hunny sent her animals ahead to trigger traps. Pumba the boar died under a barrage of of poisoned needles. The giant elk got stuck in a narrow hallway. Ghost the direwolf refused to follow Hunny’s orders and fled back to the surface. When Hunny moved ahead to free her elk from the hallway, she noticed that there was a room full of butterflies at the bottom of a stairwell.

As soon as Hunny entered the room, a swarm of butterflies descended upon her, trapping her beneath the combined weight of their tiny bodies. As they swarmed over her, they attacked her skin with their poisoned bite. The party had to work together to free her. Mithian tore off the dinner plates stuck to her hands so that she could use her magic. (RIP Mithian’s skin) During the chaos, Hunny managed to capture four butterflies in a net. Hunny swore vengeance on all butterflies and then crushed her captives beneath her hammer.

Hunny found a kitten in a cage filled with the butterflies’ last meal. She named her new pet ‘Die, Butterflies, Die!’

Meanwhile, Blacksad woke up tied to a bed in a room without a doorway. Judith told him that a client had paid them very well to make sure that his death would be slow and painful, so they would allow the poison to take its course. Judith’s wolf appeared beside her and she placed her hand on its back, disappearing into thin air.

Croak and Solxax led the way deep into the underground tunnels. The tunnel walls transitioned from jagged stone to softer, reddish sandstone layers. Croak tried to pummel some of the sandstone… only to send spores of russet mold into the air. Croak blew it back with his Wind Fan.

As Croak rounded the corner of the tunnel, he was faced with a fork. He and Solxax took the left path, turning their backs to the right branch behind them.

And then Judith appeared with the wolf at her side. She launched a sneak attack at Solxax’s back, stabbing him multiple times. Solxax lost consciousness, hovering on the edge of life and death, until Hoxie pulled him to safety and stabilized him.

Blacksad managed to struggle free from his restraints, but doubled over with exhaustion from the exertion. He could hear sounds of fighting beyond his room, so he strained against the wall with his bare hands, desperate to claw through to the passageway where his friends were fighting for their lives.

Enraged at the sight of Solxax’s wounds, the team surrounded Judith. Croak attacked her, but was pushed back by the wolf’s icy Frost Breath. Hoxie, Hunny, and Mithian pelted Judith with attacks. When she tried to retreat behind her wolf, she triggered Croak’s Booming Blade. The assassin fell unconscious on the cavern floor… but was rescued by her wolf’s Dimension Door spell.

Hunny smashed the wall that separated Blacksad from the party.

…But before the party could celebrate, rasping metallic sounds echoed through the tunnels around them.

In Search of a Cure
“That's no island. That's Grandfather!”

The party set out to bring Gwen’s letter to her brother, Edwin.

They walked back to Haysport and met up with the mouse-folk that Croak had promised to help. Rosalee hesitantly agreed to hand over the deed to her boat if the party promised to use it to get the boat back from the townspeople. Hoxie and Sulxax stayed with the caravan to guard it during the night. They found their way to the ship’s graveyard where everyone had agreed to rendezvous. Sulxax stayed up to fix an old rowboat, while Hoxie found an old burlap sack that contained mementos from her mother’s youth.

Croak, using his reputation as the Hero of the Slums, found a helpful stranger to point him in the right direction. At the same time, he learned that none of the boats heading to Noname have made it safely into the harbour. He recommended keeping to the shallows, but that longer route would take three weeks. Blacksad’s poison would kill him by then.

The boat was broken and lying on a sandbar in the harbour. A strange woman agreed to give it to him, then sped away; Blacksad immediately realized that it was Shelley Bellemere in disguise, but she had already gotten away. He convinced Croak to steal the woman’s boat, the Grandmothers’ Rope, to use as a decoy to cross the seas. Inside her cabin, they found a letter from Zeke, the Herald of Leviathan.

Croak appealed to the better nature of the people of Haysport and asked for their aid in fixing the boat for the mousefolk. He showed them the deed to the boat, since people were still hesitant to help the mousefolk that they blamed for the fires of the slums. They agreed to help their hero, though they did so in a state of drunken revelry, as if in the midst of a festival.

Using her sensuality, Mithian charmed the workers to make them work faster and harder. They finished the boat repairs overnight. With Croak’s strength, the three of them were able to get the boats over to the ship’s graveyard. Mithian sent her pseudodragon to the caravan to give the signal for them to meet up. The mouse-folk used the repaired rowboat to reach the boats.

They headed into the open sea. Croak, Blacksad, and Clove were on guard, watching the sea. Blacksad took a moment to contemplate life and all its beauty; the ocean’s breeze stirred his poetic soul. Hoxie convinced Rosalie to make a business partnership with her; Rosalie could have exclusive distribution rights to all of the coral Hoxie had acquired from the chasm. Mithian stayed below decks to have some quality time with her fey boyfriend. Solxax trained, oblivious.

Blacksad spotted an island in the distance. It was tiny, a stereotype of a lonely and deserted island. Rosalie confirmed that it wasn’t on any maps. She tried to steer the boat around it, but the island kept pace with them. It approached closer, then disappeared beneath the waves.

Croak dove. He swam closer and greeted Grandfather, who had come to swallow the ships. The dragon turtle assured him that he was patrolling the seas to keep them safe from pirates. He again asked Croak to join him, and then asked after the contents of the ships. Once he learned that the ship was crewed by mousefolk, he let it pass. When the party docked in Noname, dockworkers scrambled to service them. They were the first boat to pass safely into its harbours in months.

The party set out to track down the assassins associated with the hornet sigil. Croak and Blacksad staked out an alley, waiting for the most suspicious thug they could find to pass through. Croak confronted a tattooed half-orc and demanded answers.

Mithian stepped in to prevent a fight. She soothed the stranger and allowed him to pet her pseudodragon. He told her that he had seen graffiti that looked like the hornet sigil on the necklace Blacksad carried. It was on an old brick building on the university’s campus.

The party called it a night. The next day, they searched until they found marks of cleaned graffiti on the library. Hoxie decided to break into the library. The walls of the hallway were filled with ‘Class of XX’ pictures. Solxax spotted Shan in a class photo from 100 years ago. Since they knew what year she had graduated, they were able to break into the student records office and dig up information about ‘Liadon’ from around the same time.

They learned that his full name was Liadon Silverfrond. His graduation bio indicated that he was going to open up a clinic. Due to Mithian’s noble background, she remembered that Queen Amy, before her death, had opened a lot of public works like clinics. In the library, under the ‘local history’ section, she found a book that detailed the late queen’s achievements, which even included a photo of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a clinic: there was Liadon, shaking her hand. The picture even showed the address of the clinic.

The party went to the artisan’s district, where they were picked out by the guards due to their dishevelled appearance. The guards were ready to arrest them due to a disturbance, when Croak whipped out the letter from Gwen. The guard seized him and Solxax, but Hoxie was able to slip away with Mithian and Blacksad.

The guards, after searching them for weapons, took Croak and Solxax to see Edwin Elderin… who the party already knew as Edwin Elderberry.

Croak delivered the letter. Edwin Elderberry was shocked to learn that his sister, Gwen, had declared war with the intention of taking the kingdom from him. He implored Croak for help. Ever heroic, Croak agreed, so long as the price was willing to help find the antidote to the poison that was killing Blacksad. Edwin swore to save Blacksad, his true friend.

Meanwhile, Mithian decided to crash with her friend Beth RayAnne, a local noblewoman. Her butler greeted the door and took immediate care of Blacksad, taking him to the sitting room to lie down. Beth knew something about the clinic, called ‘Queen Amy’s Mercy,’ and gave Mithian instructions on how to give a coded signal to the receptionist to indicate that they wanted ‘special service.’ The pass-phrase was, “My poor great-uncle Pete is bedridden with cholera.” Beth RayAnne gave a letter to Mithian that vouched for her noble pedigree, even if she was foreign-born.

In the morning, dressed in nice silk PJs, the party went to the clinic. The butler fireman-carried Blacksad. Outside the door, Hoxie heard a strange grating noise, but she was unable to spot its source. Mithian convinced Blacksad to stay outside with the butler. As soon as he was left alone, he heard the strange grating sound and saw a hooded figure looking down on him from the roof. Blacksad downed some drugs, eager to investigate, trampling flower bushes. But he was too weak to climb up the building. The butler convinced him to stay put.

Mithian and Hoxie went in and gave the pass-phrase to the receptionist. They were taken into the backroom and introduced to Judith Liadon, who offered them package deals on poisons. Mithian indicated that she wanted a ‘do it yourself kit’ that would allow her to get a boy out of her life. Something that would make him suffer, nice and slow. But did the kit come with an antidote in case the poison accidentally afflicted the wrong person?

After inspecting Mithian’s documents, Judith agreed that she had such a poison. It would only be 100,000 gold, and she’d throw in the antidote. Mithian tried to convince Judith to accept her signet ring as collateral, but that she was ‘good for’ the rest.

“No.” Judith grinned. “I think you’re lying.”

With grating rasp, a hooded kenku appeared from the window. He held his dagger to Mithian’s throat…

Rock the Dragon
If someone won't join your petting zoo, break their wings

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.”


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