Lion looked uncertain. “Why are we following this guy’s boat?” He lowered his voice, inasmuch as a giant lion could speak quietly. “He seems a little... crazy.”
Goat turned to his co-head with a sigh. “He’s reputed to be the greatest captain ever to sail these seas, and to have buried a treasure beyond reckoning. So if we track him...” He waited for Lion to fill in the logical conclusion. He waited for quite a long time.
“...then he’ll lead us to the treasure?” Lion said at last.
“Exactly!” Goat rolled his eyes. It could be so frustrating sometimes, being attached to an idiot and a moron.
Lion scratched his head with one enormous claw. “I get that part. But why do we need to be covered in goose down?”
“I explained that part already! It’s our clever disguise. We’re too big to be unobtrusive otherwise. This way, he’ll look up and think we’re just a big fluffy cloud.”
Dragon sniffed some goose down up his nose and sneezed out a huge flaming ball of fluff. Dragon grinned.
“...a big fluffy cloud that’s on fire?” Lion said hesitantly.
Goat sighed. “St. Elmo’s fire?” he suggested without much hope.
Fortunately, the notorious Captain Fang hadn’t noticed – he was very busy pouring water back and forth between two shiny seashells.
With Dragon doing what passed for steering as they flew, and Lion refusing to look down, it was up to Goat to keep lookout. It was a miracle that the little boat hadn’t been swamped by the waves yet, Goat thought, but the captain must have some plan that just wasn’t apparent to them yet. But he would figure it out... oh yes, he would. He was the smart one, after all. He watched as the boat steered its way through a narrow channel, the likes of which would have challenged even the most experienced sailor...
Down below, Fang had managed to get himself tangled in the ropes, then looped them around the tiller. He seemed to think it was some sort of swing, and was kicking his legs excitedly and shouting “Higher! Higher!”
Lion had fallen asleep, and Dragon was starting to get distracted by a nearby seagull that had taken to following them, maybe because it could smell the paste they’d rolled in to glue the feathers on, but Goat was stubborn. He wasn’t going to give up this quest so easily. “What could he be doing?” he muttered, his brow furrowing between his horns. “He’s more clever than I expected.”
Captain Fang was singing a song about oysters. Not much rhymed with ‘oyster,’ but it was a surprisingly long song nevertheless.
Finally, the captain’s little boat came to rest on a sandy beach, on a small and seemingly-deserted island. This had to be it, Goat was certain. He woke up Lion, and made Dragon take them down. The paste and down was getting itchy, and a quick rinse in the ocean would be refreshing anyway. They hid behind some rocks just off the shore, bobbing gently in the waves. Lion complained about getting wet, and Dragon stuck his head underwater to watch the fish, then stayed down there so long that Goat had to tell Lion to pull him up before he drowned them all. Dragon came up grinning with a fish in his teeth, which Lion accepted gratefully. Then Dragon sneezed out a cloud of steam. It gave Goat an idea.
“Keep doing that,” he told him. “We’ll make our own fog, then we can follow him!”
Getting Dragon to do something on purpose that he’d just done by accident was harder than it seemed, but eventually they managed to produce a considerable cloud of steam, enough to obscure them as they made their way onto shore. Well, it would have been a good disguise, if they could get Dragon to stop sneezing. His sneezes were very loud.
“Gesundheit!” said Captain Fang, and disappeared into a pit that had suddenly opened up beneath his feet.
Goat thought it must be a password of some sort, maybe one that opened a secret underground chamber. He was just pondering the difficult question of how they’d get at the treasure if it was hidden at the end of a long, narrow tunnel, when he noticed that Dragon was grinning. “What are you so happy about, sulfur-breath?”
They had reached the edge of the trapdoor now. It was just large enough for Dragon to stick his head down it, which he promptly did, his long, snake-like neck twisting and bending at odd angles. Goat hated it when Dragon was out of his sight – for one thing, it just felt weird, and for another, he didn’t like not knowing what he was getting up to.
After a long moment, Dragon re-emerged, gripping Fang carefully between his jaws. He deposited the little kobold safely on the sand once more, and licked him in an affectionate fashion with his forked tongue. Fang seemed not at all surprised to see Chimera standing there. “Why thank you for the dumplings, Mr. McGillicuddy! ” he said to the huge monster. “I hope you like your tea cosy!” And with that, the terror of the seas ran off down the beach, chasing a seagull.
Goat was just wondering what the heck that meant, when Dragon started to cough, choking on something. Only getting two-thirds as much air as usual was unpleasant. “Quick,” he shouted, “clear his throat!”
Lion acted swiftly, grabbing Dragon’s neck and slamming it repeatedly against a nearby palm tree. Dragon made a terrible retching noise and something flew out of his mouth, landing glittering in the sand. That got Goat’s attention – maybe they’d get some treasure out of this after all!
Once Dragon was recovered, or at least back to his usual self, Chimera wandered over to see what he’d coughed up. Lion poked at it gingerly. “Tell me it’s not actually a tea cosy,” Goat said, almost afraid to look.
“No,” Lion said, but he sounded puzzled – moreso than usual. “It’s a box. Like... a treasure chest!”
They all looked at it with renewed interest. Then there came a very long pause. “Uh, Goat…how will we open it?” Lion asked hesitantly.
Goat would have slapped himself on the forehead if he’d had a hand of his own. They weren’t really built for lock-picking, especially on something so comparatively tiny. “We could carry it back…” he was just saying, when Dragon started shaking his head vigorously enough to make them all dizzy. “What?” Goat said, cranky at the interruption.
Dragon pointed with his nose at Captain Fang, who was making sand-angels further down the beach.
“…or we could ask him to help?” Lion interpreted. Dragon’s eager nods were sign enough they’d got the message right.
“No way!” Goat sniffed. “We found it, and we’re not sharing it!”
Dragon looked glum, and flopped his head down in the sand. Then he got distracted by trying to make an angel of his own. Lacking arms and legs, it turned out more like a sand-smear, but it seemed to make him happy.
Lion carefully picked up the chest to shake it next to his ear. “There’s definitely something in there,” he said, “I can hear it rattling around.” This only tantalized and frustrated Goat more.
“AAARGH! Fine,” he said at last, unable to bear the suspense any longer. “Go get the little reptile and let him have a try at opening it.”
Dragon led the gallop down the beach to fetch back Captain Fang, whom he scooped up in his mouth like a mother cat with her kitten. He deposited the kobold in front of the treasure chest and nudged him a few times in the back. “Think you can open it, little fella?” Lion asked hopefully, in case Dragon’s message wasn’t clear enough.
Fang looked at the chest, then back at Chimera. “Right turn at the crossroads, and straight on until morning!” he said brightly, and pulled a key out from beneath his shirt. It fit the lock perfectly. Fang lifted the lid, with each of Chimera’s heads breathing down his neck. Goat was privately planning to eat him if it turned out to be something they might have to fight over, Lion was as thrilled as a little drow child on Lolthmas morning, and Dragon was just grinning as broadly as he was able (and also drooling a bit.)
“What is it? What is it?” Lion couldn’t contain his excitement.
“It’s... it’s...” Goat peered closer. “It’s full of gemstones! Oh glorious day!”
Fang picked up a half dozen of the shiny stones and popped them in his mouth. “Jolly Rangers!” he said indistinctly.
Goat’s mouth hung open in disbelief. “We went through all this trouble for a box of candies?” He might have to eat the little bugger just on principle, never mind that he had a herbivore’s teeth. That would just make it take longer, and hurt more.
Dragon, however, was delighted when Fang gave him a handful of the bright, shiny sweets, and then another handful and another... And Dragon’s sugar-high soon spread to the rest of them, so that even Goat couldn’t feel too grumpy by the time they flew away. Dragon waved his wing to Fang, until the other two told him to stop it before they fell out of the sky
Fang waved back, then sat down and had a few more candies. It was too bad that all of the ones at the bottom were so hard he couldn’t even chew them, he reflected, and then made his way back to his boat and sailed away, leaving the chest half-full of gems sitting open on the beach.