The party wakes up from last night's beer adventure, and they cross the river after arguing about whether or not they already crossed it. Another heated argument about how the party will hide the canoes emerges, since they're about to go trekking into the jungle. Method one, stash the canoes into a tree like Christmas ornaments. Method two, bury them in the dirt like 🌱 would.
That boy sure do loves his dirt.
They eventually chuck the canoes into the trees, and Zanzibar takes note of their location by doing his weird voodoo math nonsense, scribbling the info in his journal.
The party sets off through the jungle on foot, and it's super hot on their trek. Zanzibar realizes that, having grown up in a dry desert, this suddenly humid, wet, plant-filled wilderness is terrible for his baggy genie-looking getup.
Dur-Dur-Dur is highly offended at Zanzibar's distaste for the sweaty Chult weather. "As my pappi once told me, as long as you're wet, you're taking a bath that day!" he says.
When Dur-Dur-Dur mentions his dad, he suddenly remembers that his dad may be out here in the jungle, so he keeps his eyes open for any orc-shaped people that respond to calls for "DAAAAAADDY!" much to the party's discomfort.
After their first day traipsing through the jungle, they make camp in the vine-filled wilderness. They agree to use the alchemy jug to create poison instead of beer this time, then give the poison to Dur-Dur-Dur since he likes stabbing bad guys with sharp things. After a few sleeping shifts, there are no other spooky things that get them in the jungle (except for Zanzibar's unending hate of all things soggy and wet).
He's like the anti-Anakin. Because... you know. The sand joke. Er, quote.
The next day, the party closes in on Yellyark. As Eku guides them through the hot, blazing brush, Dur-Dur-Dur comes across a tripwire. He follows the trip wire and discovers it's attached to some skulls filled with pebbles.
Dur-Dur-Dur shocks everyone by not stepping on it.
At the sight of an alarm system, the adventurers realize that going stealthy would be best, but Valour's splint mail armor never got the memo that quietness is next to stay-alive-ness, so he starts clinkin' louder than a pot and pan golem. Since their stealth is gone, Dur-Dur-Dur decides that now's a good time to shout for his daddy (just in case he's out here in the wilderness).
Eku shuts everyone up, then brings them forward. The party comes across a little goblin village in a small clearing, but the goblin huts are sitting on a scattering of tree leaves sewn into a net, and a branch-trimmed tree has been pulled over, creating a spring-like trebuchet that, at any moment, could launch all of the huts into the air.
"That's dumb!" Dur-Dur-Dur says, and his Intelligence is 5!
What unnerves these fools is how empty the goblin village is. "Wait, maybe this isn't the real town," Valour says. "Maybe it's meant to look like a real town so that something big and dumb steps into it, and they trap it."
Everyone looks at Dur-Dur-Dur.
"This doesn't make sense... we think it's dumb, and it's dumb for a reason," Valour adds.
Zanzibar decides to scout the village using his owl familiar, so he poofs the feathered bastard into existence and sends it out for voyeur spy shit. Zanzibar goes full Bran Stark and wargs with his familiar, looking through its eyes while his own body falls unconscious.
Dur-Dur-Dur uses this time to play with Zanzibar's face, puppeting his mouth so that he says goofy shit. While the owl is scouting, two batiri goblins wearing wooden, ant masks and standing on each other's shoulders step out of a hut and shoot an arrow at the owl. Zanzibar dismisses the owl, waking up to a face full of Dur-Dur-Dur.
🌱 is furious at what the goblins did to the tree, so he wildshapes into a panther and charges the goblins full Wakanda style. Dur-Dur-Dur eyeballs the tripwire spring trap and, being such a fan of traps now, dashes towards it, swinging with his +1 yklwa and almost tearing the vines keeping the tree strapped down.
At the sight of goblins beginning to mobilize, Zanzibar uses his wand of entangle and catches three goblin tents in the area, snagging a lot of them in some kinky tied-up-vine stuff. Valour and Minion barge into the fight to engage any goblins trying to mount an offense.
Goblins start pouring out of everywhere! The PC's start getting Vietnam flashbacks to the brawls they had beneath Kinchasa, but there are no spikey rooms to retreat to, and some of these goblins are stacked on top of each other like totem pole monsters! The leader, a queen named Grabstab, stands on top of three goblins as she orders the little bastards into the fight.
A swarm of goblins pile in on 🌱, doing so much damage to him that he loses his big kitty form. Eku runs to his aid and casts sanctuary on him so hard that elsewhere in a parallel universe, Quasimodo shouts "Notre DAMN, son!" Dur-Dur-Dur takes a second swipe at the spring device, snaps the tethers, and causes the tree to go full trebuchet and launch the goblin tents through the jungle high overhead, grabbing some goblins in the process.
Then the ants attack!
Spewing forth from giant sand mounds come millions of ants that skitter across the terrain, the majority of them gnashing towards Dur-Dur-Dur. They surround him, and within seconds the orc is tarpitted in a pile of goblins and ants. He... is... stuck!
Zanzibar uses wand of entangle on Dur-Dur-Dur to further up the tarpitting, giving him the thumbs up since he is doing an amazing job getting martially gangbanged by battle-stacked goblins and ant swarms.
A goblin stack advances on 🌱, but he sprays spores near a campfire and envelops the stack like a marshmallow shishkebab. Eku draws the goblins and ants towards her, then commands 🌱 to thunderwave the shit out of them, even if it means catching her. 🌱 drops the thunder magic and sonic booms the bastards out of the way, and Eku keeps swinging her enchanted snake staff, cracking skulls upon skulls.
"Help me!" shouts Dur-Dur-Dur to Zanzibar as the goblins and ants start whittling his hit points away.
"No, help me!" shouts Valour as he and Minion fend off the Queen Grabstab and her cohorts. "I only got 16 hit points!"
"Yeah but look at all the dead things next to you and the alive things next to me!" Dur-Dur-Dur shouts.
Zanzibar weighs the pleas for help... then chooses to assist Valour! The wizard casts sleep, causing the goblins making up Queen Grabstab's battlestack to collapse, leaving her by herself and unguarded. The queen promptly proceeds to soil herself as Valour pummels the shit out of her with Shatterspike. She flees towards a stack of boats, but Zanzibar follows up with a fistful of magic missiles that end Grabstab's retreat, dropping her facedown in the dirt and ensuring her demise.
Unfortunately, she still has an army of goblins that won't let up!
The goblins drop Minion, and Valour raises him back with lay on hands. Eku pushes 🌱 aside and tanks the gnashing ants and slashing goblins, though 🌱 goes on the offensive and breaks some goblin kneecaps with his shillelagh staff and more thunderwave crowd control.
Valour does all he can to fend off goblins and keep Minion safe, but eventually Dur-Dur-Dur is overwhelmed by the goblins and ants, which finally pull him under after biting and stabbing him multiple times. He drops to zero hit points, not even his insane rage being enough to keep the ants and goblins from taking him down. Eku leaves 🌱 to fend for himself (heh, she "leaves" the "🌱" ... DO YOU GET IT!? LOOKHOWFASTI'MTYPING), and 🌱 sends a healing word at Dur-Dur-Dur to keep him afloat.
Dur-Dur-Dur's eyes flash open, and he realizes that he's prone, in difficult terrain, and surrounded by monsters. "Hey guys, I had a good dream, but I woke up to a nightmare again!"
Zanzibar glares at him. "You're bitching at me that I'm not killing things but there are five things that can't attack you right now!" He points at the sleeping goblins.
"Okay I forgive you," Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"Okay well I hope your next character forgives me too!" Zanzibar shouts.
Dur-Dur-Dur has no time to contemplate the aspect of forgiveness and letting bygones be bygones since swarms of ants engulf him again, dropping him to zero hit points. The goblins begin to overpower the rest of the party, and Eku, running low on available spells, begins to pray.
She slams her staff into the ground, and a blast of magic fills the battlefield. When the dust settles, the party's jaws drop as they realize that Eku has used her deep magic to transform into a giant brontosaurus!
Eku promptly pancakes a goblin with a stomp of her tree-sized foot, and the goblins straight up begin to scatter. Zanzibar focuses the ants with his magic missiles, going full Orkin Man while Dur-Dur-Dur critically fails a death save. Zanzibar then rushes to the orc and shoves a goodberry into his mouth, which he may or may not find kind of kinky. Dur-Dur-Dur wakes up and says, "Where did that brontosaurus come from!?"
The goblins are cut down as they flee, rolling a natural zero on a charisma check to stay in the fight. Some of them escape into the woods, but the day is won and the ants are annihilated. The party is bloodied beyond all odds, and the spellcasters are low on spell slots. Dur-Dur-Dur has seen the blackness of death twice, but at least he managed to launch off the catapult village which was THE TITS!
The PC's begin looting bodies, finding the amulet of Vorn on Grabstab's neck! Zanzibar confirms the magical device, realizing that he can use it to control a shield guardian. He instantly goes over his notes for information about shield guardians, having remembered studying them in some random-ass place worthy of making a DC 13 Arcana check. The DM just gives him the page from the Monster Manual and says "here's what you know!"
But amidst all of this...
Eku's a brontosaurus!
Dur-Dur-Dur uses his magical barbarian animal-speaky powers to talk to Eku, who tells him that she used her legendary magic to transform. She won't be able to transform again for a whole month, which means...
THE PARTY HAS A MONTH'S WORTH OF BRONTOSAURUS!
Dur-Dur-Dur proceeds to indulge the party on his new findings. "Um, hey you guys this is Eku. I don't know if you know that... she said she turned into a dinosaur with her legend berry magic."
The battered, cut, bludgeoned, exhausted, damn-near-death party instantly tries convincing Eku to rig the dinosaur races in Port Nyanzaru for them because SURE! That's what people worry about after almost getting murdered by goblins! But Eku ain't about having the number 3 spraypainted on her while running around town. "I will never do such a thing as to be ridden by a person in a race!" she says to Dur-Dur-Dur.
Valour uses divine sense again, detecting that Eku is still a celestial being. Damned if he's ever heard of a celestial being that could transform into a brontosaurus! Valour analyzes the situation and begins plotting. 🌱 grabs some saplings and begins potting. Zanzibar takes out his journal and begins jotting. Dur-Dur-Dur finds a bush and begins pottying. Argus leagues away hopes on a boat and begins yachting.
Valour reaches into his pocket and produces the Candle of Guga, which has two more uses remaining in it!
The half-elf places the candle on the ground, speaks the name "Pretzelcoatl," then lights it. He feels the world disappear around him and fill with smokey rainbow lights, sparkles, and Elton John music. Soon enough, he feels the presence of the ancient, flamboyant, twisty-rainbow serpent deity.
Pretzelcoatl, however, appears fairly annoyed that a mortal is trying to contact him. He's really not a fan of the mortals right now. Valour is quick with his words, telling the god that he is with Eku in Chult, and that she is trapped in the form of a dinosaur. Valour elaborates on Eku's good deeds, telling her patron god that she is an astute follower who wants to rid the jungles of evil, but the glamorous snake god seems apathetic to Valour's pleas.
"Everyone asks for help... They always ask for help to kill each other," Pretzelcoatl says. "It's why I left Chult for some much needed me-time. Time's are tough for a snake god, especially a pretzel-based one like me who ain't very straight. I'm literally a feathered boa. So how about you do something for me! Kay? you will watch over Eku, and rid the jungles of the Nine Trickster gods that my followers succumbed to when I wouldn't humor their violent demands! I hate posers!"
Pretzelcoatl then fills Valour's head with a vision: one of nine Chultan spirits who took advantage of Pretzelcoatl's absence. They ran amuck in the town of Omu, stoking people's lust for bloodshed and danger, bringing about the town's demise.
When all is said and done, Valour awakes and remembers the names of the nine trickster gods:
I'jin the Almiraj, fickle and unpredictable.
Kubazan the Froghemoth, wild and spirited.
Moa the Jaculi, truthful and kind.
Obo'laka the Zorbo, nervous and obsessive.
Papazotl the Eblis, shrewd and conniving.
Shagambi the Kamadan, wise and virtuous.
Unkh the Flail Snail, self-absorbed and indecisive.
Wongo the Su-Monster, violent and deranged.
Nangnang the Grung, selfish and cruel.
As Valour recounts the name of Nangnang, he looks towards Dur-Dur-Dur, remembering that the orc is obsessed with Nangnang. Like, really obsessed. He even thought Minion was Nangnang reincarnated at one point.
Sometimes there is such a thing as too many side quests.