Year 544, 12th of Ches
Shiela Corrin addressed Sugarfuss the Bold, extending her lord’s invitation to enter his lair.
“Only the cat servant may enter. The rest of you must remain here. My lord does not trust adventurers.”
“Don’t worry,” said Hunny. “We’ll take our shoes off.”
“Very well. But you must wear these blindfolds. Do not peek. If you tamper with the blindfolds, he will know.”
“Hey man,” said Blacksad. “We’re not going to kink-shame. You do you.”
Rudy cast fly on Hunny. One by one, she carried party members up the shaft and dropped them off in the hallway above. She bumped a gas spore and showered Blacksad and Mithian with spores. They managed to cough it all up.
Sheila led the party through a round room. At its center was a depression where large insects roamed through piles of rust. The walls were smeared with cooking oil.
“Tread carefully,” said Sheila Corrin.
Rudy peeked through his blindfold. A beam of light shot from a nearby mirror and narrowly missed his head. He lowered the blindfold again.
She led them them through a cylindrical room with stalactites on the ceiling and a mirror danging from a chain. Jewels were encrusted on the walls.
“Touch nothing,” said Sheila.
“Nothing to see here, guys,” said Hunny. “Just some perfectly ordinary walls.”
Rudy peeked again. “Hey. These walls are full of treasure.”
Light flashed from the mirror at the center of the room. Another beam of light singed Rudy’s hair.
“Move along!” said Hunny forcefully.
They climbed into a hallway. There, they met a swarm of floating eyeballs.
Sheila stroked its eyestalks affectionately. “This is Socket.”
Socket floated over to Blacksad and touched the side of his face.
“What is that? I’m blind.”
“Nothing,” said Hunny. “Don’t worry about it.”
They passed a hallway full of prison cells. Emaciated kobolds dressed in rags called out for help.
“Who are those guys?” said Hunny.
Shiela shrugged. “Just some criminals.”
“Hey, are you guys really criminals?” said Rudy.
The prisoners looked at Sheila fearfully and then nodded. “Yes.”
The party emerged in an enormous room blanketed with piles of golden coins and gems. Several tunnels branched off into the darkness. There were hundreds of statues of humans and monsters fleeing in terror, including an enormous dragon at the center of the room.
“Have a seat in the waiting room,” said Sheila, gesturing to a depression in the piles of gold. The waiting room chairs were made of twisted statues of bodies.
“Ohhhh,” said Hunny. “The chairs are people.”
“I think I’ll stand,” said Blacksad.
Mithian sighed. “Is there a handsome one?”
Shiela pointed to an elf statue with the physique of a romance novel hero.
“Perfect,” said Mithian. She sat on his lap.
With a sad smile on her face, Shiela stood beside the statue of a man.
“Is that your father?” said Hunny.
“Aren’t you sad?”
“No. I can see him whenever I want.”
The room lit up in a prism of colors. Light flashed from the mirror that dangled from a chain above. An image of a blue beholder appeared within it.
“I am Vertirsa, Saviour of the World! Thank you for delivering this kitty of noble lineage to me.”
“What exactly makes you the savior of the world?” said Blacksad.
“I am the true guardian of reality itself.”
“Oh. He’s the guardian of the pillar, then,” said Mithian.
“Aha! I can see that you are no mere deliverymen. Now, tell me who you serve. Are you spies? Queen Hilda purged all knowledge of the pillars from this city.”
“No, no,” said Hunny. “We’re not spies. There are these cultists. Bad guys. They are trying to destroy the world.”
“Oh? If you know so much, then who smashed the pillar of the sea?”
“They did! The cultists.”
“Wasn’t that you?” Blacksad muttered.
Hunny frowned. “Oh… yeah!”
“You? I knew it. Spies! Capture them. I must interrogate them all.”
Light flashed from the mirror. In the center of the room, color returned to the stone statue of a dragon. It was brown with darker stripes.
“Okay, that’s it.” Blacksad lifted his blindfold. “Holy shit. A dragon?”
Shiela moved to stand protectively beside her father’s statue.
Hunny gave Sugarfuss the Bold to Mithian to hold. Then she charged in to strike the dragon with her axes.
Rudy stole a gem encrusted shield from the mounds of treasure. He ran down the hallway and smashed open the prison cells. “Who will fight their way to freedom?”
Unfortunately, the prisoners were agents of Vertirsa lying in wait for intruders. They attempted to stab Rudy, so he nuked them with a fireball and casually walked away.
Back in the treasure chamber, Mithian used her wand of lightning bolts to attack the cave dragon. In response, it roared and struck the ceiling of the cave with its tail. Rocks battered MIthian, pinning her under the rubble. Sugarfuss, its paw injured, limped away.
“How dare you!” shouted Vertirsa. “A kitty of pure lineage!”
In a flash of light, the dragon was disintegrated.
“Hey,” said Blacksad. He rushed over to Sugarfuss and healed her. “We are not your enemies. We just want to chat, man.”
Vertirsa asked Sugarfuss to live in the Chamber of Feline Affections. After inspecting it and finding the room was filled with climbing equipment and cages of mice, Sugarfuss accepted. She curled up on the Heart of Earth and went to sleep.
“Who do you serve?” said Vertisra. “Do you serve Queen Hilda?”
“She’s dead, man,” said Blacksad.
“What? But I only put her into power four hundred years ago.”
“Humans don’t live that long, man.”
“Then who is in power now?”
“That’s, uh, complicated.”
“Gwen and Edwin Elderin are in a civil war,” said Mithian.
“We serve Gwen,” said Rudy cheerfully.
“Okay. If these Elderins are of the lineage of Hilda, that means that you serve the one who serves me. This is how human inheritance works, I am given to understand. Therefore, you will pay me tribute!”
Hunny pulled out two panthers from her bag of tricks. They were brought to the Chamber of Feline Affections. She also pulled a direwolf, which was rejected by the lord. Socket floated over and ate its eyeballs.
Rudy dumped 4000 gold on the ground. He gave the chunk of starglass he had found to the lord. Blacksad begrudgingly gave up his new cloak.
“Bring the Elderins to me,” said Vertirsa. “They will swear fealty.”
“It might have to be one at a time,” said Rudy.
“This is acceptable.”
A door in the rock wall swung open. “Take this passage into the palace. Oh… and bring Socket with you. He gets lonely.”
Hunny went into the kitchen and knocked over all the furniture. The Tusked Skyfish who worked as a chef started crying. Blacksad attempted to comfort him by righting the furniture, but Hunny knocked it over again.
Blacksad sighed. “Sorry. My friend is an asshole.”
Rudy pretended to return the shield he had stolen and left a minor illusion in its place.
The party followed the hallway to a pair of giant golden doors leading into the castle. While within the hallway, reality was warped in such a way that no one inside the castle could see them.
Blacksad applied the Oil of Etherealness and walked through a hazy, dreamlike castle. He passed through walls, observing servants at work. In the library, a owl noticed his presence. He continued on to a courtyard where a small cottage sat on stilts within a pond of koi. Inside, a sobbing Edwin was painting propaganda posters.
Blacksad walked straight back, passing through the throne room. There, he saw Elise seated on the throne.
“Well met, ghost,” said Elise.
“You can see me?”
“I know a lot of ghosts,” said Elise.
“That’s sad,” said Blacksad. “You seem lonely.”
“You have no idea,” said Elise.
“Hey, man. Have you ever thought that if you give up this war, you might make some friends?”
“It’s a means to an ends,” said Elise. “In the end, none of this will matter.”
“You end of the world types are all the same. Just like that asshole Zeke.”
“He grows on you.”
“You could at least let that poor crying dude in the courtyard go.”
Elise chuckled. “I need the prince for a while longer yet.”
“Bummer. Well, I’m in a bit of a hurry,” said Blacksad. “Can you tell me where the servants quarters are?”
“Give my regards to Glink,” said Elise as Blacksad passed through the wall.
Blacksad snapped awake in a pool of his own blood. “Sorry, guys. I might have kinda alerted Elise that we are here.”
“There’s no choice, then. We need a distraction,” said Rudy. “Let’s send Socket ahead to create a distraction.”
Hunny stomped her foot. “We can’t just release this monster into the castle. The servants are innocent. I mean… Can we? He will eat their eyes.”
“Well,” said Blacksad. “I don’t want to be in the position to make this decision… but I don’t think we have the luxury not to. We need a distraction to get in.”
“It could just come through ahead and scare people and not take their eyeballs.” Hunny gave Socket a meaningful look. “Right, Socket? You can do that, right?”
Socket bounced up and down excitedly.
“I don’t think he gets it,” said Rudy.
“Okay, Socket. Listen. Don’t take the eyeballs. But if you can’t resist, just take one. Okay? Only one. Don’t take both eyeballs from the same person. Move on to the next one. Okay?”
Socket nodded his eyestalks.
They opened the door. Socket hovered out of sight down the hallway and disappeared into the servant’s quarters. A woman screamed.
“Oh well,” said Hunny. “I tried.”
The party slipped through the servants’ quarters in the chaos. They met the Elderly Division of soldiers and warned them about the Occulus Swarm loose in the castle.
They emerged in a banquet room, where castle guards stood in wait. Mithian seduced a pair of soldiers who were twin brothers. She told them to wait for her in the kitchen. Then she convinced the rest of the soldiers that she was a noble and that they should leave to fight the swarm. Some left. Hunny punched the ones who remained.
The party emerged in the courtyard. Elise was standing on the rooftop of the cottage.
“Fancy meeting you here.”
“I heard you were lonely, so I brought some friends,” said Blacksad.
“I have all the friends I need,” said Elise. She whistled and three gorgons jumped down from the rooftops. “Meet Creaky, Sneaky, and Weepy.”
“She gave them names?” said Mithian. “Sad.”
Blacksad climbed on a rock in the middle of the pond, struck a pose, and fired arrows at Elise. Hunny mounted a Nightmare and charged gloriously into battle. She struck Elise with her axe and forced her to retreat to the edge of the pond using Misty Step.
Blacksad sighed. “Here I am trying to look cool on this rock and you charge in on this metal mount from Hell… Nevermind.”
Elise grinned. She cast Dominate Person and commanded Hunny to kill Blacksad. Then she used Misty Step to escape to the rooftops.
Mithian, Blacksad, and Rudy focused on trying to destroy the Gorgons before anyone was turned to stone. Hunny charged in on her mount and took Blacksad by surprise. He turned and took a direct hit to his face. Then he crawled away across the pond and tried to escape up a tree.
Mithian cast Dominate Person and commanded Hunny to track down Elise instead. Rudy attacked Hunny with Magic Missle to try to snap her out of it. After a great personal battle of will, Hunny resisted Mithian’s mental control and submitted wholeheartedly to her mission to kill Blacksad. She smashed him so hard that her attack destroyed the tree he was hiding in.
Blacksad lay unconscious on the ground. Hunny raised her axe to deliver the final blow.
Mithian made a ‘finger gun’ gesture. “Bang.”
An Eldritch Blast hit Hunny in the back of the head, snapping her out of Elise’s mental control.
Hunny looked at her bloody fingers in horror. “I did this?”
“It’s okay,” said Rudy as he moved in to stabilize Blacksad. “It wasn’t your fault.”
Mithian sent her dragon after Elise. He found her up the hallway, limping away, badly injured. He used a poisonous attack to strike her back, knocking her unconscious. Before the party could find her, Socket found her first and ate her eyeballs. Then Rudy found her, tied her up, healed her, and took her hostage. In the hallway, he encountered several eyeless maids.
Rudy freed Edwin from the cottage, where he had been locked in. The prince showed them the paintings he had made of their battle while he watched from the window. He praised Blacksad as his saviour and agreed to come with the party.
“It was horrible,” said Edwin. “They made me paint mainstream art.”
Hunny stood with her arms crossed. “This whole day is horrible. Eyeless people everywhere. Blacksad almost died.”
The party flew away. Hunny rode her Nightmare. Blacksad rode his fly. The rest of the party rode on Rudy in dinosaur form. General League fired a dragon cannon at them, but they managed to dodge.
They flew to the edge of the island in search of a boat to take them back to Gwen so they could put an end to the civil war at last.