The Royal Order of Silly Hats

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.

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