The party steers into Port Nyanzaru and marvels at how much fancier it looks than shitty ol' Kinchasa. There's a fort, some temples, bright colors, dinosaurs, plants all over the place, a humid misty drizzle of rain, and a dock full of people transporting their wares. A massive wall surrounds the city, and beyond the wall are scary murder jungles full of King Kong voodoo horror.
The party takes their ship up to the warehouse docks and unloads, meeting Dockmaster Zindar, who is a gold half-dragon being tended by several clerks who tote his ledger books and notes. He's shouting at everyone, not once relenting in his endless tirades, as though there is always something that can be improved upon.
The half-dragon asks who the captain is.
"I am," Zanzibar begins to say, but he is unsurprisingly interrupted by
"McSneakle! McSneakle is the captain!" McSneakle says, glaring at Zanzibar. "We had this boat way before episode 4!"
Zindar directs them to unload their wares into one of the warehouses, then flurries off to go yell at another incoming boat. The party stops one of his clerks to ask for information about Port Nyanzaru and Chult, and the poor NPC has just become this location's "What's This?" NPC
What's This NPC? (hwäts-t͟his-EN-PI-SI): noun. The NPC a Dungeons and Dragons party meets in a new town, usually the first one that will talk to them, who becomes bombarded by questions regarding every fucking detail about the town/area/dangerous stuff. Usually a low-level worker since talking to a king or noble requires going through effort.
Synonyms: "Where's This?" NPC, "Who's That?" NPC, "Do You Know Where?" NPC, "Tell Me Where..." NPC.
As they begin talking, the clerk says that Chult is ruled by the seven Merchant Princes, which all have their own specialty of trade and have names that are impossible for the party note-taker to spell right on the first try. She breaks them down as follows:
Ekene-Afa deals in weapons, shields, traveling gear, rain catchers, saddles, wagons, and canoes.
Ifan Talro'a deals in beasts and beast training.
Jessamine deals in plants, poison, and assassination.
Jobal deals in guides and sellswords.
Kwaothé deals in fruit, wine, ale, tej, oil, perfume, and insect repellent.
Wakanga O'Tamu deals in magic and lore.
Zhanthi deals in gems, jewelry, cloth, and armor.
Whew, that was a lot of talk about the seven princes! Unfortunately, the clerk's explanation regarding the princess kept getting interrupted by all of the following bullshit which made this whole thing take damn near an hour:
Bullshit nonsense that interrupted my monologue about the princes number 1: Valour finding out that his god, Tyr, is not liked in Port Nyanzaru due to a legendary Chultan, Ras Nsi, forsaking the Chultan god, Pretzelcoatl, in favor of Tyr in an attempt to bring justice to Pretzelcoatl after Pretzelcoatl hid the utopian city of Mezro from the world. Other non-Chultan gods are worshipped in Chult, but that Tyr fellow... folks don't like him because of the HERETIC, Ras Nsi! Boooo Ras Nsi! We hate him!
Bullshit nonsense that interrupted my monologue about the princes number 2: 🌱 wanting a full damn detail from the clerk about the cultural ethics of licking plants and whether or not certain laws exist to keep him from doing so. Fortunately, page 17 of Tomb of Annihilation has a full list of what laws regarding plants exist in Port—NO IT DOESN'T I MADE IT ALL UP!
Bullshit nonsense that interrupted my monologue about the princes number 3: 🌱 asking the little clerk if she knew anything about a giant vacuum of souls living deep within the Chult jungle that has been siphoning the dead into a gravitational nexus where their souls are to be fed to a growing demigod offspring of the chaos god, Guga. The clerk doesn't have a damn clue about this because clerk, but she says that Morgan Freem—I mean, Grandfather Zitembe at the Temple of Savras might.
Bullshit nonsense that interrupted my monologue about the princes number 4: Oh look it's 🌱 again who would have seen that one coming? Well 🌱 is unable to stand still for a moment while Zanzibar keeps mispelling "Ifan Talro'a" in his note-taking book, so he pulls Zanzibar to the side and tells him "Hey Zanzibar, I just want you to know that I really appreciate the seed and the terracotta pot. I've been going through a lot lately. Recently, my best friend died and his death caused my to become a necrotic master of mushrooms and if there is anything I now about my best friend, Soren, I know he'd really want you to have this..." 🌱 then gives Zanzibar the magic tincture of distilled wild magic. "Also, if there is one thing I know about Soren, he would NEVER want McSneakle to have it."
Bullshit nonsense that interrupted my monologue about the princes number 4: Zanzibar hears the phrase "dinosaur races" and flips his shit because "Holy fuck, y'all got dinosaur races here?"
At this point the party tells me to go over the princes again because they weren't paying attention, but that is all interrupted by
Bullshit nonsense that interrupted my monologue about the princes number 5: We had to put the game on pause for about 45 minutes because bumfuck Georgia weather decided to make our power flicker and ruin our Roll20 experience, meanwhile our only non-Georgia player, Zanzibar, is over there tater-tottin' with his potatoes in Idaho and playing with himself at the excitement of seeing a dinosaur race while we're all hoping hail doesn't come down and murder us!
So after the party is done weaseling all the information out of this woman, they drop their shit off in a warehouse and go shopping, but not before Valour tries to tip the clerk and McSneakle tries to steal the tip. Minion is left on guard duty with the ship crewman to make sure their silk doesn't get snatched.
They meander around town, buy a barrel of wine, and meet a crying man named Belym who says his husband, Draza, was wrongfully accused of stealing fruit from Princess Kwaothé, and is scheduled to be thrown into Executioner's Run with a pair of velociraptors within the next few days. 🌱 says he'll find a way to have him released since laws shouldn't exist for stealing fruits. The rest of the party is in on it (except maybe McSneakle) since they don't like this idea of no due process with fruits.
With their new quest acquired and the ticking time clock of the Death Curse ready to spirit away more unfortunate souls, the party keeps fucking shopping!
🌱 picks up a +1 shield, Zanzibar unloads a bunch of scrolls they can't use for 1200 gp, Valour visits the Temple of Gond and trades in his chain shirt for a down payment on some splint mail, and while Valour is speaking with the smiths at the Temple of Gond, he sees an ad posted for a Chultan guide: Eku, a good-hearted woman who seeks to rid the jungle of evil.
Rid the jungle of evil? That sounds like JUSTICE!
The party meets back up, divvies up the loot they acquired from selling their gear, then heads off to the Temple of Savras to speak to Grandfather Zitembe. McSneakle was doing something earlier where he tried to find a vendor for some darkvision goggles, but he dies at the end of this episode so I'm not going to worry about those details.
The party steps into the Temple of Savras, which has a massive antechamber with acolytes meandering about, but Grandfather Zitembe is arguing with three nasty-looking men. He throws the men out.
The party approaches Grandfather Zitembe, then tells him about the Death Curse and the souls being siphoned into the Chultan jungles. Grandfather Zitembe says that it sounds ridiculous, but Valour gives him the Candle of Guga and tells him to ask Savras himself.
Grandfather Zitembe goes to his Psychotorium, speaks with Savras, then returns, his face haggard and afraid. He tells the party that he sees, "A jungle city far to the south, enclosed by cliffs and crawling with snakes" and "a black obelisk draped in vines." When asked about this city, he responds only with "Omu."
The PC's then ask him about Princess Kwaothé and her habit of imprisoning people, and he whispers back that she is a dangerous woman who does not forgive slights easily, but money is the true god of Port Nyanzaru.
The party then leaves, with Valour separating to find Eku at the Harbormaster's Office and the other three going to Kwaothé's villa to speak to her about the issue with Belyn's husband, Draza.
When Valour arrives at the Harbormaster's Office, he sees Eku, a pretty middle-aged Chultan woman, putting up her poster among several other guides' posters. Valour asks her why she would make a good guide when there are so many others, and she answers back that Valour seems to be a decent person, so they would match well. After all, she seeks to rid the jungle of evil!
Hey, that's what the party plans on doing!
Eku then asks if she can see into Valour's "true being." Valour agrees, and Eku grabs his hand. Valour feels Eku peeking into his thoughts. She releases his hand, saying that "You are true of heart and pure of soul."
Valour asks her if she knows of "Omu," and she says that she knows of its location but hasn't been there, and that there are giant gargoyles that guard the place. Valour tells her that a great evil lies there that they must vanquish. Eku is ready to help the party! They agree to meet the following morning at the Thundering Lizard Inn, and Valour pays her 150 gp down payment.
At Kwaothé's villa, Zanzibar, 🌱, and McSneakle are told to wait in a sitting room by her gladiator guards. It will be an hour before she can see anyone.
Big mistake because these PC's can't sit still for jack shit!
🌱 climbs out a window into the garden, finds a beetle, puts it on his head, then casts skywrite to spell out "FREE DRAZA" with clouds in the sky above. Zanzibar starts casting detect magic, and realizes that McSneakle's crown is cursed to always make him act like an asshole, as well as automatically return to his head if he removes it.
McSneakle then takes his crown off and starts boomeranging the sumbitch all over the room. He then casts mage hand and makes the mage hand fly in a nearby guard's face, which pisses off the guard, who tells McSneakle to leave.
McSneakle leaves but boy-oh-boy does he make a show of it all! He's eventually thrown out of the villa. While outside, he casts disguise self so that he looks like Valour, then tries to reenter, but the guards see through his illusion, punch him in the face, then kick him out again. He debates creeping over the garden wall to get back into the villa, but instead decides to just complain outside since "no one is paying attention to me!"
McSneakle is mad as hell, so he wanders the street and finds another one of the guards. He proceeds to bitch at the guard about how terribly he has been treated, and that he demands to be taken seriously. The guard tells him off, then ignores him. McSneakle casts charm person on the guard, but the guard resists, draws his weapon, and cuts McSneakle down where he stands.
McSneakle dies alone, his final words being, "Bury Minion with me!" He then finds the source of the souls as his spirit is whisked away to the deep, Chultan jungle.
Back in Kwaothé's villa, 🌱 and Zanzibar are invited into the Princess' meeting room, where she awaits them with two of her consorts, a beautiful Chultan man and woman.
Zanzibar introduces himself as a representative from Kinchasa, and that he brings a gift of silk from the Manzibar. Kwaothé questions him about the Manzibar's title, and Zanzibar tells her that the Manzibar is elected out of a guild council. Kinchasa's government is much like Port Nyanzaru's, except Kinchasa chooses an executive officer kind of like a Prime Minister of Parliament.
Kwaothé likes this form of government, especially since it cares not about nobility. She tells Zanzibar that she was born in rags and poverty and prefers not to do business with nobles. She also tells him that the silks he brought would fall under Princess Zhanthi's dominion, but Zhanthi is a remnant of Chultan nobility, and Kwaothé would not mind undermining the woman.
🌱 then says that they would really like it if Draza was set free since his crime was so minor. 🌱 then suggests that there may even be, I dunno, a message in the sky that could sway her. Kwaothé's consorts peek outside, then laugh at 🌱's skywrite message. Kwaothé takes joy in 🌱's little games, then says she will gladly accept the gift of silk in exchange of letting Draza free if Draza's freedom is inclusive to the bargain.
"You don't understand," Zanzibar says. "I am still speaking to the other Merchant Princes to make this gift of trade. You are simply the first."
Kwaothé looks at Zanzibar, "Is the release of this prisoner tied into your choice?"
"I am here to judge character and establish trade accordingly. For a trade deal with merchant lords is as close as nobility becomes in these progressive societies," Zanzibar says.
Kwaothé speaks with her consorts, then speaks to Zanzibar. "I shall release this man, and I shall await your decision."
The party departs, returning to the Thundering Lizard. Zanzibar thinks he catches sight of something peculiar with Princess Kwaothé's consorts, but disregards the suspicion.