The party decides to stay in for the night at Dungrunglung since the frog people are cool now, and that bitchin’ maze offers protection. Also, the grungs are still ready to party even with the bloodbath.
They’re just freaky like that.
Dur-Dur-Dur double fists drinks all night, constantly throwing beer in Zanzibar's face to keep him in the spirit.
Zanzibar deals with Dur-Dur-Dur’s nonsense and starts copying the blood drawings on the shrine wall into his notebook.
🌱scoops up some of the fungi from the grung king’s shrine and looks over his notes, realizing that this fungus is tongueslicer lichen, which can be dried, powdered, and mixed into a paste that, when applied, nullifies all magic in the area.
He wonders what would happen if he slathered it on Zanzibar… all over him… just… slather it—
The party sleeps where they drop, then wakes up the next morning to lots of hungover grung from the married-to-the-goddess-then-murder-all-around festivity.
Dur-Dur-Dur sulks now that he has to leave his froggy friends who share his love for Nangnang, so he hugs them goodbye and suffers some poison damage due to their toxic skin. He then tries asking a random grung to come with them on their journey. 🌱 tries goading the grung along.
Dur-Dur-Dur does a bad job at pitching the team’s insurance benefits, especially since NPC’s don’t last long with them… also, he smells like the evil grung king from all that face-sucking he did earlier.
The party sets off through the jungle, bidding Dungrunglung farewell. Their next point of interest is the giant tree that they saw from atop Firefinger. While journeying, 🌱 sees some spider-webs up in the trees, then points out that the whole canopy is covered in them. 🌱 critiques the local park rangers on their inability to keep the spider webs in check, but he also likes experience points, so he isn't against clearing out the spiders himself.
The party feels like they could fight most anything at this moment, and who doesn’t like XP? They trek through the web-infested jungles and whaddyaknow, six giant spiders! Who could have possibly seen that foreshadowed?
Zanzibar steps forward, says his magic words, and straight up murders five of them off the get-go with a fireball spell planted right in the center, torching the webs and leaving one flaming spider remaining.
Valour keeps his sword sheathed, confidant that his skills are not needed for this fight.
Dur-Dur-Dur follows Valour’s tactics and also doesn’t attack.
🌱 tries using his circlet of blasting, can’t quite get it to work, then begins writing a letter of complaint to the Chultan Forestry Department and promptly affixes it to a nearby tree.
Azaka and Xandala also sit out because they’re NPC’s and I don’t want to put them into initiative order.
The remaining hurt giant spider charges forth and critical strikes Zanzibar in the face, biting the shit out of him for 28 damage and reducing him down to 9 HP after he he rolls 5 on his constitution save to negate the poison coursing through his veins.
Everyone in the group laughs and points at him.
Zanzibar goes SUPER pale at his unexpected predicament, so he pumps a full shot of magic missiles into the spider, killing it.
Valour tosses Zanzibar a bottle of bugspray.
🌱 takes off his crown, looks at it funny, then says "Xandala I think you got my crown.”
🌱 trades pretty-pretty-princess tiaras with the half-elf girl.
Valour heals Zanzibar a bit with cure wounds.
"All right, to the tree! No nonsense..." Valour says.
They let Zanzibar sleep in Valour’s Xandala’s tent later that night.
"Is the sorcerer tent comfy, wizard?" 🌱 says.
"Very comfy. Thank you," Zanzibar says.
"I didn't mean it as a slur, you know," 🌱 says.
Speaking of poor tents, Zanzibar rolls a 1 and a 9 the following day for his divine spellcaster feature, so the party sets regular traveling pace.
Azaka breaks the news that she needs to leave for a couple of days since it’s her time of the month. You know, lycanthropy. She doesn’t want to transform into an uncontrollable weretiger and eat her clients’ faces off. The party gives her a raptor whistle, and she heads off to do her thing.
🌱 forages later that day and finds 5 lbs of eblis eggs, as well as a patch of unspeakable morel mushrooms, which have an anchovy-like aroma. Dur-Dur-Dur points out that they’re poisonous if eaten uncooked.
🌱 sets up a campfire with druidcraft and cooking the stuff, making omelets with the anchovy mushrooms using oil from alchemy jug. He then takes out a yacha beetle, cracks it open like a nut, and dumps its juices in there while rambling about how no mad monkey fever is going to get them tonight.
The party chows down and sleeps for the night.
The next day, the party comes across a dead corpse swarming with flies. They spray the area down, then loot a set of navigator’s tools off the corpse. Obviously, this is some kind of pirate. 🌱casts animate dead on the humanoid body, which causes fungal growths to spread throughout and slowly take over its infrastructure, bringing it to unlife.
Valour gets upset and puts a hand on his sword hilt.
"QUICK! If you name it, he can't kill it!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"I name it Morals!" 🌱 says.
Dur-Dur-Dur later goes looking for food and finds an almiraj, which is a bunny-like rodent with a unicorn horn. He grabs it and squeezes it like Lennie from Of Mice and Men. They cook it, and Dur-Dur-Dur dresses it by sticking it to the tree by its horn.
Valour recalls I'jin the Almiraj is one of the nine trickster gods of Omu.
The party continues their journey, lead by their Morals.
Around dusk, Morals bumps into a skeleton warrior… then another. And another. But then some strange-garbed men in armor join in with the skeletons. Lastly, a tall, bald man with gray skin and sharp, red robes steps forward, eyeing the party curiously.
Who the fuck are these weirdos?
Valour mumbles, "I'm mad as fuck. I want to ask him why they're walking around with skeletons, but now we're walking around with a zombie..."
Zanzibar recognizes the bald man as a red wizard of Thay, which is a far off, magi-ruled kingdom to the east.
The wizard greets them.
Dur-Dur-Dur shoves a drawing of his father at the wizard and asks him if he's seen an orc.
“I do believe most orcs in Chult are found near the Peaks of Flame. Maybe you should consider investigating there for your lost comrade,” the red wizard says.
“What are you doing here?” Valour says.
“Just heading south,” the red wizard responds.
“Have you been to the giant tree in the north?” Valour asks.
“Yes,” the red wizard says. “It’s quite dead unfortunately, as is all plant life within a mile of it. Blighted, it seems.”
🌱 has a moment of crisis.
The red wizard looks at the symbol of Tyr on Valour’s shield. “There are others who bear that mark; others that I seek to set right.”
“Not good enough. What you are doing here,” Valour says again.
The red wizard smiles. “I’m going to Omu.”
“Why?” Vaour says.
The red wizard keeps smiling. “Why, that’s where the Soulmonger is?
“What's the Soulmonger?” Valour says.
“It’s something that sells souls?” 🌱 speculates.
“It siphons souls,” the red wizard says. “From all around the area, pulling them to one central place.”
“Are you going to destroy it?” Valour asks
The red wizard’s smile wavers.
The human guards charge in on Valour, but he holds them off, taking only minor wounds. The red wizard casts misty step and disappears into the trees.
Valour swats at a guard with his sword and divinely smites him to a divine death.
🌱 chases after the red wizard and sees him retreating through the jungle. He casts hold person, but the red wizard counterspells his attempts to keep him still.
Zanzibar joins 🌱 and shakes his booty, casting hypnotic pattern, which charms the red wizard and keeps him from retreating further.
Dur-Dur-Dur narrows in on the skeletons, smashing two of them to bone splinters with his axe.
Xandala activates her circlet of blasting and torches a guard with scorching ray.
Two guards see that their Thayan boss is in trouble, so they break off from their engagement with Valour, running towards Zanzibar and 🌱. Valour takes an attack of opportunity and cuts one guard down.
The remaining guard throws his spear at the charmed red wizard, which hits and breaks the wizard from its hypnosis. The wizard disappears further into the jungle.
Valour chases after the wizard on Minion III, be he sees no trace of his foe.
🌱 scans the area and sees nothing as well. He casts moonbeam, but deals no damage to any creatures. At this point, the party believes the red wizard went invisible.
Zanzibar sends his owl up, and the owl sees bushes moving in an area like in Predator. Zanzibar shakes his booty again and casts hypnotic pattern on the area, but his spell is counterspelled by the Thayan wizard's trickery.
Dur-Dur-Dur keeps chopping up skeleton boys because he’s good at it and he ain’t about to ruin a good thing.
Xandala casts fireball in the area that Zanzibar cast hypnotic pattern, and she hits the mage, but she doesn't break his concentration so he stays invisible.
The red wizard misty steps out of the burning jungle, then books it through the woods away from PC's, putting over 100 feet between them.
🌱 kills last guard by smashing his quarterstaff through the guard’s face, making a bouquet sprout out of the back of his head.
Morals charges at the remaining skeleton, but he’s dumb and can’t hit shit.
Zanzibar goes back into his familiar's sight and looks for signs of movement, but he sees nothing.
The PC’s finish off the last skeleton, and about a minute later, the owl sees the red robes of the Thayan wizard fluttering through the trees as he casts fly on himself, zipping through at 120 feet per round. He disappears to the south.
Zanzibar is very upset that he couldn’t scalp the wizard’s spellbook.
The party camps for the night, and when they wake up the next morning, they set off towards the tree. When they get near the massive structure, they see that the Thayan wizard was correct: the tree is completely blighted, as are all plants within a mile of it.
Puffing up in little wisps of black smoke, eerie elemental creatures laugh and jeer at the PC’s, pointing at 🌱’s growing misery at sight of the dead tree.
The party reaches the base of the tree, which is hundreds of feet in diameter. 🌱 casts speak with plants, but he receives no response from the tree or the nearby plants.
"It's wrong!" 🌱 says. “It’s all wrong!”
The smoke creatures usher the PC’s along, pointing to an open knot in the base of the tree which leads down into the ground. The party sets off down it to get to the root of the problem. Get it?
The root of the problem!
Fine then FUCK YOU! While down there, Zanzibar realizes that his light source tinges deep red when under the tree, clearly a hint that some spooky voodoo nonsense is going on and he ain't about any of that unless there's a spellbook to be had in the end.
🌱 mourns and casts druidcraft, making the little dead thorns in the tunnel sound like the plants are talking to him, which freaks out Dur-Dur-Dur, who instantly starts chopping shit down.
As the PC’s keep descending, they feel like they’re encroaching ever-closer into a bizarre otherworld, where certain laws of physics tilt off the beaten path. Whispers from unseen mouths echo within, and after an hour of walking, the PC’s are greeted with a creaky, wooden door that bars their path.
Valour breaks door down.
"That was a strange knock," a voice responds.
The PC’s bear witness to a hazy, underground laboratory and research station. Roots curl and twist around the walls, and a wooden shack rests in the northern corner. Stepping forth is a tall man clad in black and red attire, his face a pattern of red and black tattoos.
He shows no ill tidings to the PC’s.
"What are you doing in this dead tree? Whatever it is, it's killing plants for nearly a mile,” Valour says to him.
The man bows. “I’m Kotaki. The nearby plants are dead? For a mile? Hrm… Curious…” he says in a wispy tone.
"So you killed the tree?" Valour says.
"I had to,” Kotaki mutters, as though in a trance.
🌱 begins to spread his antimagic tongueslicer lotion over his arms and rattles, "Oh is that so!?"
"Can I help you to any tea?" Kotaki mumbles.
🌱 wild shapes into his mushroom monster form.
Kotaki goes over to a drawer and hands three seeds over to 🌱. “These gulthias seeds are from the tree. Perhaps you could use them.”
🌱 accepts the seeds, then slams Kotaki in the face with his quarterstaff for 14 damage.
As he does so, a wailing cry resounds from Kotaki’s shack, and a fluttering, monstrous fetus creature hovers out of it, a long umbilical cord stretching back into the shack.
The party loses their shit completely as the ghost of a shrieking woman barrels out of the shack alongside the zombie fetus, a pair of umbilical cords descending from her ectoplasmic hoo-hah. She skitters towards Valour and plunges into him, taking over his body with spiritual possession. The twin umbilical cords that trailed from the ghost now extend from Valour’s back, and ghost orders him to draw his sword and swipe at 🌱!
Valour swings but misses since the ghost isn't sure how to maneuver his body.
🌱 ain’t got no time to be freaked out by humanoid anatomy, so he beats Kotaki again with his quarterstaff, sending Valour's backseat driver into an uproar.
Dur-Dur-Dur follows 🌱's lead and critical strikes Kotaki with a swing of his greataxe.
Kotaki stumbles out of the fight, blood dripping all over the ground. He shuffles over to the undead/unlife child and pats it on the head, muttering, "It will be okay little one... There are no more gods in Chult..." A second fetus monster flutters up and joins with him.
Xandala panics, unable to use her spells due to 🌱’s tongueslicer ointment, so she uses her circlet, shooting one scorching ray a piece to Kotaki and the freaky undead babies. She hits all of them, but the children appear immune to the damage.
The ghost mother slithers out of Valour’s body and twists her face into a macabre visage, spreading fear into all around her. Dur-Dur-Dur panics from the sight, but Zanzibar becomes so wracked with misery and pain that he magically ages 40 years!
"He just spent 40 years just… standing here!" Valour shouts, then charges at the ghost woman and strikes her with his magic weapon. "You don't get to use my body!"
🌱 focuses all three sorching rays from his circlet of blasting on the ghost mother, and she burns away, her wails of death sounding just like Valour when he cries like a bitch. Next to Kotaki, the undead fetuses smolder into piles of ash and dirt—their source of unlife now gone.
Dur-Dur-Dur charges at Kotaki and hits him in the chest with his axe, ending his life like Thor at the end of that Avengers movie with the bad guy in it.
Kotaki mutters in his death rattle, "The gods... are coming back? Guga? Dendar?"
The room falls silent.
The PC’s begin looting the strange lab, finding the following pieces of treasure:
Goggles of night
Qelong rug (worth 250 gp)
16 stacks of incense (25 gp each)
2 bags of powdered black pearl (500 gp each)
Headband of Intellect
370 gp, 861 sp, and 1,211 cp in Qelong coins
The party gives old man Zanzibar the goggles of night so that he can see better, what with the poor eyesight and all. Zanzibar gruffly checks through the drawers and diaries, discovering that Katoki is from the land of Qelong, southeast of Chult. He knows it’s a wartorn region, but not much else jogs his memory.
Dur-Dur-Dur puts on the headband of intellect, raising his intelligence score from a 5 all the way to a 19!
There are not nearly enough flowers for this Algernon.
“I know aaaall about Qelong!” Dur-Dur-Dur says, and he proceeds to babble about how the wartorn land is from a duel between the chaos god Guga and Dendar the Night Serpent, and how Dendar is like the Yin to Pretzelcoatl's Yang; they're mirrors of one another.
Everyone then gives Zanzibar heaps of moral support to help him adjust to his new life as an elderly man.