The party needs a way to paddle up the River Worchestir, but there are no boats stashed in Zanzibar’s robe. Sounds like that robe ain't as useful as you thought! 🌱 decides to use the Marvelous Pigments to draw a really cheap boat. With a boat full of loot, the party hops into the river and paddles north towards Port Nyanzaru.
Everything is going great until SURPRISE a bunch of snake monsters called jaculi spring out of the snake-bush and attack! They got little springy tails that let them extend out like a cartoon character. One of the jaculi bites Dur-Dur-Dur, but its teeth can’t hurt his lycanthrope skin.
"Zanzibar look! We are immune to snake bites!" 🌱 shouts, then moonbeams one of the snakes. It leaps at him and bites him back. Then a bunch of other jaculi just GO for Zanzibar—straight at him.
Apparently 🌱 is wrong sometimes.
Another jaculi springs at 🌱 and crits with its slinky-bite attack, so Dur-Dur-Dur kills a bunch of the snakes in retribution. 🌱 ignites shillelagh and relocates moonbeam so it can better kill stuff.
Zanzibar freaks out since he's surrounded by snakes! He freaks out so much that he polymorphs himself into a giant ape, which instantly sinks the boat as he swings his massive fists and kills the remaining jaculi.
Zanzibar picks up Dur-Dur-Dur and tucks him under his arm in poetic vengeance, then drops him back into the water as he picks the boat up and drains the water out. 🌱 is unamused by this. Dur-Dur-Dur carves up some snake skin.
They continue up the river until the find Camp Vengeance, which is beat the fuck up and obliterated to hell and back. Whoops! Can’t win every side quest.
The next day they head out. They see along the sides of the river that there are kudzu vines draining the life out of some human-ish and animal-ish corpses. How neat!
🌱 talks to flesh-eating vine, animating the decapitated corpse it’s munching on so that it can walk around and look stupid.
"Are you from Chult?" 🌱 says to the vine. “Do you eat people?”
"Oh yeah I just eat whatever,” the vine says.
Zanzibar shouts from the boat because he ain't getting anywhere near this thing with his penchant to be snatched at by long, slender antagonists. "Do they eat all people or just dead people?"
"Well if they're not dead, we can help them be dead," the vine says.
"Well I think this zombie that I animated is filled with carnivorous kudzu seeds. I'm taking it with us," 🌱 says, then turns back to the vine. "Hey if you see our friend Valour, don't snatch him up! You'll get better prizes... tell the rest of your plant friends as well."
"I'll remember that!" the vine says.
Dur-Dur-Dur takes 🌱 aside and takes out a picture of his dad. "Do you think the plant knows where my daddy is?"
"Have you seen this orc?" 🌱 asks the vine, holding up the picture.
"I dunno much about that. I haven't eaten orcs in a long time,” the vine says.
🌱 thanks the vine and the party rests for the night under Leomund’s tiny hut. 🌱 tries to get his new zombie to stay inside the hut with the others, but Zanzibar is having none of it.
"He has to sleep outside the bubble!" Zanzibar says, obviously having never heard of the Lichlord Xanxax v. Board of Purification court case.
Back at Port Nyanzaru…
Valour has arrived! Yay! We’re back to that point now! He and Artus Cimber and Dragonbait arrive back at the port, keeping a low profile as they head back to the Thundering Lizard Inn.
But someone is already watching them!
Argus Fargus—I mean, Ezekiel Beremon, is hawking some family heirlooms for spare change along the docks of Port Nyanzaru. He’s a tiefling warlock, pompous and totally in love with his own self image—but he has an eye for the unusual!
What’s more unusual than a paladin, a hooded figure, and a dinosaur man with a holy weapon walking by? Excluding the dragon turtle with a town on its back. And the dinosaur pack animals roaming around town. And the NASCAR dino races. And—well, it doesn’t make sense that he notices them out of everything else.
Fuck you, it’s time for plot!
Ezekiel tries to fall in behind the trio, tailing them to spy on their business, but Valour catches onto the charade. He stays alert, and notices Ezekiel following them. Valour falls back behind a building and waits for Ezekiel to walk by. He jumps out and pushes Ezekiel against the wall in an alley.
"Ooooh how forward? Is it this kind of establishment!" Ezekiel smirks.
"Do I know you?" Valour says.
"Do you want to?" Ezekiel says.
"Um... I don't think so! Who are you and why are you following us?"
"I noticed a fetching artifact that your scaly friend had, and I wanted to inquire about it, but not on the street. Sticky fingers and all... but not mine!"
"I don't think he's interested in showing things off to strangers."
"Hrm... you're weird. I'm walking away." Valour says and Valour does.
"Not the first time I've heard that today!" Ezekiel says, dusting himself off.
Valour joins his other party members at the Thundering Lizard Inn, and Ezekiel follows after them. The inn is packed with patrons, and Shenice is working her heart out to keep up with the pace.
"I guess the dragon turtle being here is making a big difference because this place has NEVER been this busy before,” Valour tells Artus and Dragonbait.
He tries to get Shenice's attention but can’t manage due to the crowd. While he’s away, Ezekiel sits with Artus and Dragonbait. He extends a hand.
Dragonbait gives his hand a firm handshake.
"Antiquer extraordinaire!" Ezekiel says to the lizard.
"What's your angle?" Artus says, folding up his hands, keeping his gloved hand with the Ring of Winter tucked under his arm.
"I'm interested in that sword!" Ezekiel says, looking at Dragonbait’s Holy Avenger.
"Oh the sword!" Artus says, relieved.
Back at the bar, Shenice approaches Valour. "What do you want? How much? Now!"
"Where is Dur-Dur-Dur?" Valour says.
"He went to some place called Darth Maul or something."
Valour gives her 30 gold pieces after seeing how worn out she is. "Hire a teenager or something!"
Valour rejoins the group. "It's too crowded in here to keep a low profile. Let's go stay on our boat."
"WAIT WAIT WAIT!” Ezekiel shouts, looking at Shatterspike. “You two gentlemen look like you have a good attunement to artifacts."
"What do you mean?" Valour says.
"I'll offer you my services in exchange for loot share!" Ezekiel says, posing.
Artus, Valour, and Dragonbait form a group huddle, and Artus tells Valour he's fine with the lackey, but a zone of truth on him wouldn’t hurt.
"We'll meet you at the Temple of Savras tomorrow morning," Valour says.
"YES! Temple of Savras. Early morning. I'll be there in my BEST!" Ezekiel says.
"Just... just show up. We're not trying to draw attention to ourselves,” Valour says, looking at Ezekiel’s regal attire. “Nothing plumed."
"I'll bring my expedition gear that I took from father!" Ezekiel says.
"We'll… we’ll see you in the morning,” Valour says. “Actually, since you’re hired, go help Shenice!"
Shenice snatches up Ezekiel and puts him in the back to do dishes.
Let’s see what Dur-Dur-Dur, 🌱, and Zanzibar are up to!
"So anyways like I was saying, Argus threw the orb of mystery stuff at the crab people, and then they chopped his head off." Dur-Dur-Dur says, recalling his adventure through the Shrine of Tamoachan.
"He’s so much smarter than that though!" Zanzibar says. "That's something YOU would do!"
"Well I was wearing my headband of intellect at the time." Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"That totally makes sense. That sounds like Argus would have died." 🌱 says.
"Anyways after that I got bit by a weretiger so now I'm a weretiger SEE WATCH!" Dur-Dur-Dur says, grabbing a handful of knives and stabbing himself with them. He takes no damage.
"Well Valour can do that!" 🌱 says.
"Oh well then give me that one," Dur-Dur-Dur says, then snatches Zanzibar’s silver knife and stabs himself. "OOOOW!" he shouts, then snatches the potion of healing patch off of Zanzibar's robe of useful items and drinks it.
"You stole that!" Zanzibar says.
"Well you tricked me!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
Zanzibar takes a moment to calm down. "So you're a weretiger?” he says.
"I'm more than just a weretiger. I'm a person." Dur-Dur-Dur says, folding his arms.
"How often are you going to be a weretiger... doesn't Azaka have to leave a long time?" 🌱 says.
"I was just reading about them yesterday!" Zanzibar says. "I know all about them."
"AND YOU LET ME GET STABBED?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
They continue to talk until the following morning. I wonder what’s happening at Port Nyanzaru?
Valour and his freezie friend and his stinky lizard friend wake up from the boat and head to the Temble of Savras to meet up with their sleazy devil friend and see Grandfather Zitembe.
"Have you seen my companions?" Valour says.
"Have you found new ones?" Zitembe says, pointing at everyone. "Your companions went to Mauratal."
"Well I'll go see them," Valour says, going to the circle of teleportation. "You guys ever used one of these things before? It's pretty cool!"
He and his companions stand on it, and nothing happens.
"Well... hrm...” Valour says. “Uh, hey Dragonbait and Ezekiel you two trade sides I think we are off balance. It's a common mistake." Valour says. They switch places, but they still don't teleport. "It must be broken or something. Let me go get Grandfather Zitembe."
"I am right here." Zitembe says.
"Oh yeah, why is it not working," Valour says.
Grandfather Zitembe tries it out, but he can’t teleport to Mauratal. "I think this teleportation circle you are trying to go to no longer exists. I can scry on them. Do you have anything that belongs to your friends?"
"I don't think so,” Valour says, then gets an idea. “I’ll be right back!”
Valour leaves and returns an hour and a half later hauling a massive rocking chair that is stacked with couches: Dur-Dur-Dur’s shit. "I hope this is enough..."
Grandfather Zitembe uses the articles to cast scrying, parting the veil and gazing upon the PC’s heading up the river to Port Nyanzaru.
Dur-Dur-Dur feels a strange sensation, as though something is watching him. He looks up in the air, "We're on the way back! We are on the way back!"
Zitembe relays this info to Valour.
“Who all is with them?” Valour says. “Did they get any new companions?”
"Well... there is a plant person, a Kinchasan, an orc, and... a headless one?" Zitembe says.
"Well Argus was kind of in and out... He liked boats." Valour says.
With this new information, Valour and the gang decide to go see the Merchant Prince Wakanga. At his villa, they see that Wakanga is meeting with a young woman dressed in the fine riches of a Merchant Prince.
“Ah, my friends,” Wakanga speaks. “Meet the Merchant Prince Ymezra. She is the daughter of our late Merchant Prince Jessamine and the rightful inheritor of her estate. She is the new Merchant Prince governing poisons, plants, and assassinations. Isn’t she adorable! She also facilitates as a tie breaker if the seven Merchant Princes can’t come to a decision. I hope you enjoyed this condensed backstory!”
Ymezra explains the situation involving Azaka after the party asks about her, and that she told a squirrely old man in their other party about weretigers and how he needs to clear Azaka’s name.
"Yeah you definitely met Zanzibar," Valour says.
"He grimaces a lot," Ymezra says. "He needs to smile more, like I do!"
"He smiled a lot in his youth!" Valour says, then turns to Wakanga. "I believe you had something that belonged to him?"
Wakanga goes to his study and gets the spellbook he copied from the Qelong necromancer. He slips a note in it, then hands it to Valour. Valour checks the note, seeing that it says “KEEP ARTUS CIMBER OUT OF HERE. TOO MANY PRYING EYES. PRINCESS KWAOTHÉ KNOWS ABOUT THE RING, IF SHE IS STILL KWAOTHÉ.”
Valour decides it’s time to leave and catch up with their friends on the river, especially since leaving means they can get Artus Cimber out of town. Before they leave, Valour buys 12 healing potions from a local vendor.
"You need to do any shopping before we leave?" Valour asks Ezekiel.
"I'm all stocked!" Ezekiel says.
Valour then gets two boats and heads out. While paddling, he sees a flock of dinosaur birds that he almost mistakes for coatls, but they’re more bird than snake—a different animal. He also catches sight of Lilac’s pink hair. She’s watching them from the woods.
"Lilac!" Valour shouts, but he gets no response.
The next day, they sail further south. They see hadrosaurs and pteranodons, and by now Ezekiel is wearing less and less of his puffy coats and is dressing much more practically now, donning appropriate gear to survive in the jungles.
The other crew sets off at a fast pace northward, and Dur-Dur-Dur sees five eblis birds eyeballing them from their huts. Dur-Dur-Dur has shown in the past that he hates these bastards, so he smashes through their homes and kills two of them while the others fly away—giant chickens on the menu tonight!
The next day, the party finally reunites as their canoes meet in the river.
🌱 waves at Valour and points at the plant zombie he animated from the vine. "Hey Valour look what I caught! What you got over there?"
"I found Xandala's dad!" Valour says, pointing at Artus Cimber.
"Xandala's dad? She's evil!" 🌱 says. "At some point she did die, but zombies got her."
"I hope that isn't her real dad because we killed that bitch!" Zanzibar says, his lips almost curving into a smile.
Valour points to his companions. "Well so Artus these are my friends who helped defeat all the frost giants… Wait, where is Argus?"
"Argus threw a vial of sleeping gas at some crabs and I killed them!" Dur-Dur-Dur says, not actually telling Valour that Argus is dead. "Also I am a weretiger."
Valour’s smile quivers a bit. "Artus, Dragonbait, these are my friends who are going to save the world!"
Artus looks at the animated plant zombie "... That party member doesn't have a head.”
"He's not a party member! He's a trap!" 🌱 says.
"We had to use your couch to find you," Valour tells Dur-Dur-Dur.
"Did you return it?" Dur-Dur-Dur- says.
"... Ezekiel?" Valour looks to the party member who was hired to help Shenice keep the tavern in order.
Valour signs, "We gotta find someone who is better at business, because I hired this man to clean your bar, and then I dragged him into the jungle."
They speak about Ymezra and how they met each other.
"She definitely remembers you, Zanzibar!" Valour says.
"Did she show you her knife collection?" Zanzibar says.
"... She did not." Valour says.
"She has a jacket full of crazy shit!" Zanzibar says.
"I think you're thinking about yourself,” Valour says, looking at the robe of useful items.
"Zanzibar can now turn into a gigantic monkey!" Dur-Dur-Dur shouts.
"That's a thing I can do now! Want to see?" Zanzibar says.
"NOT ON MY BOAT!" 🌱 shouts.
"That's a cool sword!" Dur-Dur-Dur says, looking at Dragonbait’s sword.
"Oh, Dragonbait is nonverbal. He communicates through smell,” Valour says.
"Oh so do I!" Dur-Dur-Dur says, then squints as he farts. "See? What am I thinking about?"
Valour looks at their map and sees that there is a mine less than a day’s journey from Port Nyanzaru. "If we are wanting to go back to town, I propose that on the way back we check out this little mine thing on the map. If it's empty, the people that are not going into town due to the threat of dangerous magical weapons—ahem, Artus and Dragonbait—can wait here for the party members. Also there might be some free XP or a plot hook there.”
The day passes onto a new one, and the party paddles up to the mine, discovering that it’s abandoned. They set up a camp, leaving Artus Cimber and Dragonbait in there. 🌱 casts plant growth on his zombie friend, which causes sentient vines to burst forth from the zombie and surround the mouth of the mine.
"Okay now don't let you two get eaten by that!" 🌱 tells Artus and Dragonbait.
"I know an assassin vine when I see one." Artus says.
On the next day, the party heads back to the port and arrives at 2:00 AM. They go to the Thundering Lizard Inn and find Shenice asleep at the bar.
"I wonder if she knows there are beds upstairs she can sleep in," 🌱 says. "They probably won't charge her."
"Hey Shenice, how about you hire some help?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"NO BECAUSE THEN I'LL HAVE TO SPLIT TIPS!" Shenice wakes up, shouting. She then storms up the stairs to set up their rooms after pouring ten mugs of tej for everyone.
Dur-Dur-Dur throws the mugs into the party’s faces in celebration of their reunion and return, just like Nang-Nang would have done! He then looks to Ezekiel. "... Hey don't you work here?”
“I think I do,” Ezekiel says.
“Well then clean this up!"
The next day…
The party hocks all their stuff from the bat tomb which takes most of the day. Meanwhile, Zanzibar checks out the solid gold bracelet that Dur-Dur-Dur found in the shrine and discovers that it’s a bracelet of rock magic… that is ever-so-slightly cursed.
Valour and Ezekiel split off to go see Wakanga again.
"I noticed that a certain person of importance is not with you," Wakanga says, noticing Artus Cimber’s absence.
"Who?" Valour says
"Good!" Wakanga says, smiling.
Wakanga then discusses how odd Kwaothé has been acting. He says that she is being needy and impulsive moreso these past few weeks, which makes him think that something is afoot. He may need to send Valour a message via flying snake at some point if things go poorly in town.
Valour gives him a code phrase so that Wakanga knows the letter is from him: XANDALA SUX. He then asks Wakanga if the Merchant Prince needs anyone to intervene, but the prince says he thinks they can handle it on their own.
Meanwhile, the rest of the party heads out and finds Volo, who is still selling copies of his Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Just as Dur-Dur-Dur described, Volo is 7 feet tall and has a lightning bolt beard.
"Hello Little Green Boy!" Volo waves at Dur-Dur-Dur.
"HI VOLO I AM JUST LIKE YOU NOW! I SAW THE GREEN-WINGED DINOSAUR THAT NOBODY HAS SEEN AND I NAMED IT!" Dur-Dur-Dur shouts back.
Dur-Dur-Dur then buys three books for everyone.
Afterwards, the party goes to Badu to check out what other interesting tidbits exist on the dragon turtle. While walking around on its shell, an older Kinchasan shouts at Zanzibar, “Pemba! Oh, excuse me, I thought you were Pemba.”
"AH! Pemba is my older brother!" Zanzibar says. "In the jungle there are ghosts, and if they look at you, you get old! My father is the Manzibar of Kinchasa."
"Did you also come over here when the dragon turtle arrived?" the Kinchasan says, convinced that he’s speaking to Pemba’s little brother.
"Well when I came here, there was another dragon turtle, here,” Zanzibar says.
"I'm sorry about the confusion. I was reminded of Pemba, who came here with me over a decade ago,” the Kinchasan says.
"Ah yes, you look very much like him if he was old. The resemblance with your family is uncanny!"
The Kinchasan then explains how the Badu the dragon turtle goes around from port to port, letting the merchants on his back sell their wares at foreign markets. The Kinchasan then tells Zanzibar that he is very skilled at fencing stolen items and finding better markets.
"We are looking for a bag of holding that used to belong to our friend, McSneakle,” Zanzibar says.
"I'll keep an eye out!" the Kinchasan says. “So how’s your luck been with the ladies? Pemba and I would make all kind of bets about how we’d go about town and pick up Chultan chicks. The ladies loved Pemba! Surely you…”
The Kinchasan then realizes that Zanzibar is dealing with the whole looks-like-an-old-man thing.
Zanzibar scratches his beard. "You are a merchant trying to sell the treasures that we find. If we leave town, and if you leave town on the back of… your town, how do we find you to sell these goods?"
The Kinchasan chuckles. "Pemba knows where to find me, and you know where to find Pemba!"