The party emerges into Grandfather Zitembe’s study. They’re beat to shit from their fight in Mauratal.
"Oh I thought you were going to die for a minute!" Grandfather Zitembe says, standing over his scrying pool. He’d been watching their fight from afar the whole time. Not helping them, you know. Eff that.
A little flying snake is hovering behind Zitembe's head. It nudges him, then gives him a letter.
“Ah, it seems the famous researcher, Volothamp, is in Port Nyanzaru to promote his new book…” Grandfather Zitembe reads from the courier message.
"You are giving all of the sidequests now?" Zanzibar shouts in exasperation.
"Volo's my friend!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"No, Volo is a wizard," Zanzibar argues.
"He's 7 feet tall!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"No... go right ahead," Zanzibar says, giving up on the argument.
Dur-Dur-Dur takes a deep breath. "He's 7 feet tall! He's got a white beard with a lightning bolt on it! He knows all about the monsters. He told me all about the monsters when he came in. ‘Hey you, little green boy,’ that's what he called me. ‘Let me tell you about the green-winged dinosaur that is invincible, and nobody has seen it until we have’ let's go see him!"
The battered party begins to leave, but Grandfather Zitembe reads another segment of the letter. "It seems the Merchant Prince Ymezra, daughter of the late Jessamine, also just sanctioned her first assassination... for a woman named Azaka."
The party freezes in place.
"I wonder if our guide knows who she is," Dur-Dur-Dur says. "They have the same name."
"... Let's go find Azaka before the assassin does," 🌱 says.
"WAIT! They're talking about killing our Azaka?" Dur-Dur-Dur says. "We got to talk to her about it."
"What crime has she committed?" Zanzibar says.
"I don't know she's probably a weretiger!" 🌱 says.
"SHH!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"Wait, someone had to order this. We can look up who sanctioned this," Zanzibar says.
"SHE did! Ymezra sanctioned it!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SMART NOW!" Zanzibar shouts.
Dur-Dur-Dur looks down at the headband of intellect in his clutches.
"Let's go to bed!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"No, we need to find out who commissioned the assassination," Zanzibar says.
The party storms out of the Temple of Savras and makes a mad dash to Princess Ymezra’s villa to talk to her about all the killin’ and such.
"Hey we are concerned citizens of Chult but not really and we have an appointment for the murder woman!" Dur-Dur-Dur says to the guard out front because for some reason he’s still the party’s face.
"Who's asking?" the guard says.
"Ah dangit what is my name?” Dur-Dur-Dur says, unable to remember his birthname. “TAG!" Dur-Dur-Dur pushes Zanzibar forward. "Wait, TAG!" He pushes Argus into the fray instead.
"Excuse me, sir guards, do you have some nice plants for sale?" 🌱 says.
"No poisons for sale today. We open in the morning,” the guard says.
"Who placed the order for the assassination?" Zanzibar says.
The guard peers at Zanzibar for a bit, then steps inside. He emerges a bit later, then motions Zanzibar to come inside. And only Zanzibar.
Dur-Dur-Dur hears some of this.
Zanzibar is welcomed into Ymezra’s meeting chamber. He sees that she’s much younger, perhaps only 11 or 12 years old, but very poised and professional for being a Merchant Prince of poison and assassination. She’s leafing through a stack of parchments.
"Are you also looking into sanctioning an assassination?" Ymezra asks him.
"No! But the party who has been currently sanctioned for an assassination is an associate of mine," Zanzibar says.
"Your associate is a weretiger. Are you aware of this?" Ymezra tells him.
"Yes! This became known to us after the beginning of our association. She has been our guide in the jungle."
"Are you aware that Prince Jobal has blacklisted her from the guide registry?"
"I did not! I'll let you know that the lady Azaka is in control of her condition. She is actually having her… 'moon time' right now, and she takes great care to avoid populated areas when she does so. She left our party for a few days so she would not be a threat to us. We came back to town in the time of her transformation, so she left into the jungle so she could not be a threat to humanity. That's what she told us."
Ymezra tells Zanzibar that there are witnesses who reported a woman who shapeshifted into a tiger and attacked a family in the lower districts near the jungle. She holds up a parchment, which details the situation.
"A curiosity. Might I ask... under what circumstances did you meet the person who ordered this assassination? I understand it was a woman named Xandala."
"Yes she offered substantial payment when she approached." Ymezra pulls her hair back, showing that she is wearing a circlet of blasting.
"FUNNY SITUATION ABOUT THAT TIARA THAT I HAVE SPENT MANY DAYS STARING AT!” Zanzibar says. “So Xandala is... forgive my language... an EVIL SORCERESS BITCH! Allow me to take you back. Would you mind—oh he's not here. He's in the jungle. Surely Xandala told you we were coming. Did she tell you we were coming?"
Ymezra stares at him. "I don't know who you are."
"Okay so Xandala is a sorceress—"
"Yes we have many of those around here."
"SO! Xandala comes to us here in Port Nyanzaru. She shows up in our lives and she says she's looking for her father. That's number 1 for her evil plots!"
"Why is that irksome?” Ymezra says. “I lost my mother."
"Princess Jessamine is a great woman!” Zanzibar apologizes. “But Xandala lied to us multiple times, saying she is a low level sorceress. And my friend who is a paladin of Tyr—always tells the truth—he casts zone of truth which I wish I could do now since you'd believe me. And we probe her with questions, and when we ask her if she's really on a quest to save her father, she RUNS! And before we get back to town, she puts an assassination on our guide. I think she is tricking you, my lady!"
Meanwhile, Dur-Dur-Dur pushes past the guard outside and comes running into the building, barging into Jessamine’s room.
"CONTRARY TO WHATEVER YOU MAY THINK, I was making good headway here!" Zanzibar shouts to Dur-Dur-Dur.
"Pardon me your majesty, I'm Dur-Dur-Dur!"
"That man is actually a citizen," Zanzibar says.
"That is an offensive term. I am your friend!” Dur-Dur-Dur says. “Speaking of friends, our friend is in trouble of being killed, and did you see the person who put the contract on her because she is also my friend!"
"Yes I saw her, blonde hair and blue robes. She paid handsomely,” Ymezra says, showing her tiara.
"I gave her that present! My friend gave that to... to you?" Dur-Dur-Dur’s eyes water.
"You two seem to have differences on this woman’s character..." Ymezra says, not liking how the PC’s can’t decide if they distrust or trust Xandala.
Ymezra tells Dur-Dur-Dur that Azaka, the mark, attacked people in Port Nyanzaru and they may have contracted lycanthropy from these bites.
"Lycanthropy? I thought she was a weretiger,” Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"My friend wasn't in here when I told my story, so let him explain and see what matches up," Zanzibar says, sitting quietly.
Dur-Dur-Dur explains the situation with the frost giants, and how Zanzibar and Xandala had a friendly rivalry about who could cast spells better, “And let me say, she won! She was upset and I was upset because we are both missing our daddy. They were like, ‘You need to tell us who you are!’ And I was like ‘No you don't you just find your daddy!’ And our friend is like a religious fanatic with a tattoo on his shield and he was like ‘Zone of truth,’ and like ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am Xandala’ and then ‘Is he your father?’ And she poofed! Disappeared. Valery charged where she was and I was like ‘No Valour stop’ and I hit him with a hell-maker on his face. And he was like ‘Oh you're strong!’ and Zanzibar was like ‘boom boom boom spell spell spell,’ but Xandala is a better spellcaster and she didn't care and was flying so she does all that and she runs away and stuff and I'm so mad I'm like ‘No Xandala I love you I miss you!’ And I don't know how Azaka got all into this but that's what happened."
"4,000 gold pieces and this circlet were paid to me. Azaka will die," Ymezra says.
"My princess, though I feel like the price has been paid, and I have an assumption. I have seen Xandala cast polymorph. I believe she has transformed into a tiger and set up Azaka."
Ymezra says that if they can cure Azaka’s lycanthropy, and if they can prove her innocence of the attacks, Azaka’s mark will be pulled.
Zanzibar explains that his religious friend is coming back.
Dur-Dur-Dur asks where they are researching the lycanthrope patients who were attacked. Ymezra says they are in the Temple of Selune.
"You know that I cannot pay to undo this bounty. If the penalty for lying is as you say it is, then you know I have risked a great deal to come to you,” Zanzibar says. “Also, Xandala is very dangerous. I suggest you take care of yourself!”
Ymezra pulls back her robe, revealing she has a small arsenal of concealed weapons, poisons, and magic items attached under her attire. BIG FLEX!
The party goes to the Thundering Lizard Inn to relax, but Zanzibar goes back to the Temple of Savras and searches its library for books about lycanthropy. He discovers that it is a curse that can be removed only if the lycanthrope was bitten. Those who are born lycanthropes can’t have the curse removed. He finds out how lycanthropy can be detected using silver, so he borrows the book as well as a silver dagger from Grandfather Zitembe.
Meanwhile at the tavern, 🌱 takes a Soren juice potion, which causes his quarterstaff to glow blue when in his own presence. Neat!
Zanzibar runs into the Sune temple where the lycanthrope patients are being kept. "I'm here to help!" he shouts, but he is completely patronized by the beautiful Sune clientele since he’s a dirty old man.
He runs into the hospital room.
"Look mom, a clown is here!" A child points at him.
He goes up to the doctor. "I'm here to discuss your tiger bite patients. The alleged weretiger in question—and you're going to think I'm crazy—is a good friend of mine! She is not actually here, though deliberately not biting people. I think that an evil sorceress is setting up the whole thing. I think the sorceress transformed herself into a tiger and attacked these people to set it up."
"What would you like to determine?" the doctor says.
"You're going to insist that I'm crazy! But I insist that we cut them!"
The injured family starts to freak out, but Zanzibar shoves the werewolf book into the doctor’s hands. The doctor reads about the lycanthropy curse, and once she’s approved, she rakes a small scalpel over one of the patient’s hands, noting that it leaves a mark. She then takes the silver dagger and does the same, seeing that it leaves a similar mark.
There is no lycanthropy since both blades left marks, not just the silver one!
"My lady, continue to provide care to these people, but I do not think they are cursed,” Zanzibar says.
"I appreciate your assistance," the doctor says, then hands him a coupon for a free makeover at the public bathhouse since he looks kind of ratchet.
Zanzibar returns to the Thundering Lizard Inn and sees 🌱 raving in the tavern with his blue quarterstaff glowstick. He disregards the scene and gathers the party together under his Leomund’s tiny hut which he sequesters under a bed since Xandala could be after them at any minute.
The party lays down their tasks for tomorrow:
See the turtle town
Go to Mauratal
Oh yeah go to Omu and stop the Death Curse
The party wakes up heads to Grandfather Zitembe's.
"What brings you back here, looking for another book?" Zitembe says.
"Actually looking for another person!" Zanzibar says.
They ask him to scry on Xandala to see if she is nearby. If she’s nearby, they’ll shank her ass. If not, they’ll do other stuff.
Zitembe tries to scry on her using the circlet of blasting that 🌱 is wearing since it belonged to her at some point, but it’s not enough.
"I cannot see her. She is very powerful,” Zitembe says.
"So are we!" 🌱 says and steps through the teleportation circle to Mauratal.
The party emerges on the other side and XANDALA IS RIGHT THERE WAITING FOR THEM!
Glyphs light up around the circle of teleportation in the Mauratal library, and the whole tower erupts in a flash of explosions. Zanzibar and 🌱 leap out of the collapsing debris, but Dur-Dur-Dur and Argus fall into a gaping cavern beneath them that swallows them whole, along with the battered remains of the flaming library.
Zanzibar instantly shakes his booty and casts hypnotic pattern and makes Xandala take a 6 for her save on his portent roll. She is hypnotized!
🌱 tries digging for his friends but they are SUPER buried down there.
Zanzibar digs through Xandala’s robes while she’s full derp and finds her spellcasting focus, which is an eagle's feather. He throws it into a fires created by the exploding library. 🌱 conjures some woodland fairy pixies and paints some shackles and a bag with his marvelous pigments to muffle and restrain Xandala once she snaps out of her hypnosis.
🌱 ‘s pixies read Xandala’s mind, relaying the thoughts to 🌱. Xandala’s mind is a mess of rage and hate, confirming that she set up Azaka, and that she found out the symbols for the Mauratal circle of teleportation by transforming into a flying snake and spying on Grandfather Zitembe as he used his scrying pool.
Zanzibar freaks the fuck out hearing all of this.
🌱 takes his tyrannosaurus tooth dagger and slits Xandala’s throat, then uses her bleeding corpse to water the nearby plants. He bottles some of the blood as well.
Meanwhile, down below…
"I think... we have an issue." Argus says.
"What's the issue?" Dur-Dur-Dur says
"There is um... I have no idea where we are."
The orc and half-orc duo have landed in a hallway with piles of collapsed rubble behind them. Xandala's explosion opened up a hole to a deep, underground dungeon, and the orcs are now stuck in it. This little hallway has several alcoves with figurines set up in primitive displays, as well as a central display showing a creation myth involving a snake-creatures of sorts.
Argus sniffs the air and detects that the whole dungeon is full of poison that can possibly be avoided if they wear masks and stay low to the ground. Argus tears some cloth off an extra set of traveling clothes and hands it to Dur-Dur-Dur to use as a mask.
Dur-Dur-Dur tries breaking the pile of rocks that filled the hole after them, but there’s no way back up. They have to go forward.
Above ground on the Mauratal surface, Zanzibar is still furious. "This bitch was the snake messenger! That bitch!"
Below ground, Argus checks out the diorama sees a little statue person who is holding a shepherd’s crook that looks kind of like a key.
"Go open the door," Dur-Dur-Dur says.
Argus picks up the key from the little statue, then puts the key into the keyhole on the door and turns it. The door is pulled open, and they step into the next hallway. Argus checks out the bamboo carvings on the walls, realizing that they are attached to the wall at only one end. Dur-Dur-Dur gets some rocks and lobs them at the detached bamboo, which they bounce off of. Dur-Dur-Dur figures out that the bamboo carvings can swing out into the hallway.
Argus leaps past the bamboo carvings while Dur-Dur-Dur takes his adamantine greataxe and breaks a bamboo segment on the wall, then steps over. He puts his feet on an unseen pressure plate, but he doesn’t weight enough to cause it to activate.
At the end of the hallway is a bronze door with a marshland engraved on it. Argus notices some slime oozing out from beneath the beaten bronze door.
Above ground in Mauratal…
"I think we need to get the hell out of here," 🌱 says.
🌱 then ponders what kind of dinosaur could dig their friends out of the hole, settling on reanimating Xandala’s corpse and making her do all the digging. He then uses his marvelous pigments to draw a hole in the ground, but the ground keeps filling up with dirt and rocks.
"Do you have locate object prepared today?" Zanzibar asks him.
"Of course not," 🌱 says "That's your spell."
"I don't have that spell... wait I DO have that spell,” Zanzibar beams. “… I also don't have it prepared today."
"I don't think it will make much of a difference though because we know where they are, they're down there," 🌱 says, pointing at the dirt.
"I literally have no spells to get us down there," Zanzibar hangs his head.
Back underground, Dur-Dur-Dur and Argus open the door and see a muddy room with a boulder in the center of the room with a giant crayfish scuttling about. A bamboo staff rests against the giant rock. The giant crayfish stares at the duo.
Dur-Dur-Dur backs up and uses his beast sense ability.
"Helloooo!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"Who is this?" the giant crawfish says.
"I'm sorry we entered through here." Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"Be gone! It is my sacred duty to guard this place I’m Caleb Crawdad!" the crayfish says.
Dur-Dur-Dur debates taking the bamboo staff.
"Which direction did you get brought in here from because I'm trying to get out." Dur-Dur-Dur asks.
"Be gone!" Caleb Crawdad says.
At that point, the giant boulder begins to move, revealing that it’s a hermit crab named Kalka-Kylla and the bamboo staff was its leg. It was sleeping! "What are you doing here?" it grumbles as it wakes.
"We are strangers, how do we get out of here respectfully, oh great Kalka-Kylla," Dur-Dur-Dur says.
Kalka-Kylla points to a door in the east.
"Let's go very carefully because it's slow movement going,” Dur-Dur-Dur says, eyeballing the slippery floor. “Bye Kalka-Kylla!"
They follow through the door and see a hallway covered in slime. Along the side of the wall is a stucco block that covers a hallway. They use their tools to see that the block has a corrosive substance on it: lime.
"I hope your headband of intellect tells you what lime is," Argus says.
"Yes I know what they are, they're delicious,” Dur-Dur-Dur says.
Dur-Dur-Dur uses his shield to push back the block and avoid touching the lime. He cleans the shield with some of Argus' old clothes, which are eaten by the acid.
The room they enter is a tiny sequestered room with 6 urns and a double doors that has weird symbols written on it. They don't know what the fuck it says since they speak only orc and common, and these symbols are neither.
Argus peeks through the seams of the double doors and sees a glass sphere on the other side of the doors. Any force applied to the door would cause the sphere to break. He doesn’t know what’s inside, but he’s trapped with Dur-Dur-Dur in a dungeon, so he isn’t taking any chances.
"Do you want to smash this stuff down or just leave?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
“No!” Argus says, then pokes his thieves' tools through the keyhole so he can finagle with the glass sphere, and a tink tink tink response sound of his tools on the glass hints that there is nothing solid or liquid inside of it.
Argus tells him to catch a globe that is going to fall when he opens the door. He picks the lock, opens the door slooowly, and finds the glass orb. Dur-Dur-Dur holds the orb in his hand, and they see that it’s filled with strange gas. They step through the door and see there is a tomb with lots of glyphs on an altar-looking thing, but they can’t read it. Other than it being a generally spooky chamber place, there is also a battleaxe embedded onto the other side of the wall.
Dur-Dur-Dur steps out of the room. "Come on Argus I got an idea real fast!"
They run back to the slimy room with the shellfish characters in them.
"Hey Kalka-Kylla look what I found. Can you tell what it is!?" Dur-Dur-Dur says, then tosses the orb at the creatures.
The glass orb breaks and the gas inside expands, filling the room. Everyone makes a Constitution save. Everyone but Argus succeeds. He falls unconscious in front of Dur-Dur-Dur, and initiative is rolled!
Kalka-Kyla skitters up and lashes out with his claws, grappling and restraining both Dur-Dur-Dur and Argus. Dur-Dur-Dur swings while grappled and hits, dealing some damage to the giant hermit crab. Caleb Crawdad skitters up as well and swats his claws at Argus, hitting him easily since he is restrained in Kalka-Kylla’s claws.
Kalka-Kylla strikes again, hitting both orcs. Argus tries to hit Kalka-Kylla but misses.
Dur-Dur-Dur activates Durminator’s special ability and swings, scoring one hit, but not putting much of a dent in the hermit crab’s shell.
The crustaceans attack back but miss everyone.
Dur-Dur-Dur tries to hit them again, but he’s critically missing his swings. Argus gets one last attack against Kalka-Kylla, but not enough to hurt the giant hermit crab too much.
Dur-Dur-Dur breaks free and runs away, leaving Argus to his doom.
Caleb Crawdad drops Argus with one snip of his claws.
"This is your fault you green fuck!" Argus shouts as he falls unconscious.
The crustaceans start tearing Argus apart, And Dur-Dur-Dur lobs acid vials at the crabs, but he’s not able to do enough damage to stop their massacre. Eventually, Caleb Crawdad grabs Argus by the head, twists it around, then pops it off, sucking the juice out of Argus’ head.
Kalka-Kylla uses his claws to slam the door in Dur-Dur-Dur’s face, leaving him alone in the other side of the door.
Dur-Dur-Dur goes back into the creepy room to examine the battle axe lodged in the wall. He gets a really creepy feeling as he approaches it, with chills going down his spine. He grabs the battleaxe, but he can't pull it out. He then tries hacking away the walls behind the axe, but it just stays there… floating…
Dur-Dur-Dur may have, for the first time ever, lost all of his friends.