The party stands in the shrine of Shagambi, terribly exhausted from the fight with the clay people.
"Can we take a short rest?" Dur-Dur-Dur pipes up. "Because I have no HP."
The party rests in a shortish fashion.
Zanzibar proposes that, with a short rest, he can recover 4 levels of spell slots. "Should I take one 4th-level spell slot or four 1st level spell slots?"
"Go for one level 4 because we need gorillas," Dur-Dur-Dur says.
And everyone likes gorillas!
The party short rests so that Zanzibar can get some gorillas. Did you know that gorillas actually don’t live in Zanzibar/Tanzania? I now know this because I tried to make a joke related to “Zanzibar can get some gorillas,” and you know what? It definitely could!
"Now in the middle of that fight, some jacobis or draculas tried to get us. So we have an iron door in the way,” Zanzibar says, gesturing to his wonderful iron door that he made with his shirt.
"Are you just saying this so you can brag about the thing you did with the door?" Valour says.
The party inventories their healing potions in case they really really really need to use them later, which they will because they are them. Dur-Dur-Dur opens the door-door-door and steps outside in search of jabocis or draculas, but he sees nothing except for rain. "Coast is clear. Bring an umbrella! Let's go to the place where everyone is dead at!" he shouts.
The party heads that way.
They arrive at the area that was massacred and start examining stuff in case of treasure. Valour hears a call for help and lets the party know.
The party mocks Valour for being a paladin and hearing a cry for help.
"Someone sounds like they need help," Valour says again.
The half-elf goes and checks the voice, then hears someone mumbling from beneath some rubble. At one point, the voice calls out in the Grung language, which is unsettling for everyone.
Unsettling for everyone except Dur-Dur-Dur.
Dragonbait is ordered to pull aside the rubble since he’s an NPC with hit points and a sword that Valour hopes to inherit. Beneath the rubble is an old man who looks kind of terrible.
"Someone heard me!" the man says, which someone hears. He then passes out.
Dur-Dur-Dur gives him a goodberry.
The man is passed out no more.
"I don't know how long I've been down here," the man says, coming back to consciousness. "We were attacked by the yuan-ti."
"Who is we?" Zanzibar says.
"I was hired out by wizards from Thay," the man says. "To translate and scribe for them in these ruins."
Zanzibar is unconvinced. "We all know comprehend languages!" Zanzibar says, comprehending some shiftiness in the man’s alibi.
"Hey Old Man, do you want to translate for us?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"FYI if we come across some more red wizards, you're not hanging out with them," Valour says.
"Hey Old Man, do you know anything about orcs?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"I know most of them live over to the east," the Old Man says.
"Let me tell you something about orcs, we have things called life debts. And right now you owe me one!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"There's another orc... that little green dwarf," Valour snickers, thinking about Dur-Dur and the implicated family drama.
"There's another dwarf!” Dur-Dur-Dur panics. “That's where daddy's at! I guess daddy can handle any dwarf though.” Which is a funny thing to say since the only dwarf handler in Dur-Dur-Dur’s immediate family tree is probably his mother.
Dur-Dur-Dur exemplifies the party’s ADA compliance as he picks up the Old Man and the old man. "Do you need anything from this area before we leave?"
Valour gives the Old Man a healing potion, which doesn’t do a whole lot since he’s suffering from levels of exhaustion more than Hit Point loss.
"What do the puzzle cubes do?" Zanzibar asks the Old Man.
"They open a vault,” he says, then looks directly at the camera. “The Tomb of the Nine Gods."
"I WAS RIGHT!” Zanzibar cheers from deep within Dur-Dur-Dur’s bicep. “THEY'RE DEAD! THEY'RE ALL DEAD! THEY'RE IN A TOMB!"
Dur-Dur-Dur then sets the Old Man down to relax. Zanzibar puts a Leomund’s tiny hut over him to keep him safe.
The Old Man then tells the party that he can speak Old Omuan, Common, and Grung.
"How do you know Old Omuan?" Zanzibar says.
"He's old!” Dur-Dur-Dur explains. “Naturally old! He got there the real way!"
The party then checks out the Kubazan shrine, which has already been raided but it’s close by so why not? The dead froghemoth is still there, so 🌱 harvests an eye from it. Valour researches froghemoths in his Volo's Guide to Monsters.
"Bullywugs worship froghemoths as gods," Valour says. "Also they reproduce asexually."
"Yes..." 🌱 says.
Dragonbait hops into the mouth of the frog statue and finds the key in the mouth, then turns it. The nearby door opens, and the party sees a spiked floor and a dead man impaled on a spike. There is an Indana Jones-looking swap-the-gold-idol-and-put-the-sandbag-on thing with a rock where Kubazan’s puzzle cube once was.
The party decides that already-looted shrines ain’t gonna do them nothin’, so they cross to the northeast towards Papazotl's shrine, but on the way stop at another shrine. They just love shrinin’!
While traversing the main road, Dragonbait leads the way because, again, lots of Hit Points and a magic sword. He explores one of the buildings and disturbs some giant wasps, and some mad monkey mist leaks out and engulfs him, then Dragonbait just stands there.
"You okay, buddy?" Valour says. "Has he ever done this before?"
"No, this is new," Artus Cimber says.
The party has no lay on hands or yahcha beetles, so 🌱 uses the last of his chyngwa charm to cast lesser restoration, freeing Dragonbait from whatever nonsense was getting at him.
"How about we just don't go into buildings? Half the buildings we go into have mad monkey fever..." Zanzibar says.
After more walking, Zanzibar sends his owl to check out a place that looks a little… sketchy. Nothing looks too out of the ordinary except for the place being an overgrown ruin, but the owl points out an odd flower garland hanging on an overturned wagon. Dragonbait is sent forth, and he finds a chyngwa under the wagon that gives him a blessing.
After their mess is blessed, the party finds the shrine of Wongo, which is covered in monkey carvings and has several archways leading within, all but one being covered by portcullises.
They wake up the Old Man and tell him to read a sign, which says, “BETTER TO BE WONGO’S FRIEND THAN HIS ENEMY.”
The party hears monkey noises as they get closer, and 🌱 wears his monkey mask. They enter the main tunnel and find a room with four masks mounted into the wall: a lion, a boar, a zebra, and a vulture. These masks all look towards a monkey statue in the center of the room, which is holding four bowls in its outstretched hand-palms and feet-palms.
An engraving near the statue’s base reads, “WONGO’S FRIEND KNOWS WHERE TO POUR THE WATER.”
Dur-Dur-Dur goes outside and breaks open a portcullis and follows the path, which leads to the backside of the lion mask, letting him peer through it. When he does, he sees that a beam of light is pointing at one of the monkey statue’s palms.
Dur-Dur-Dur then proceeds to tear down all other portcullises and peek through all the masks, which have beams of light pointing at different cups.
The rest of the party realizes that the masks all have inscriptions written above them:
Lion: “I ate one of the boar’s friends.”
Boar: “The vulture is lucky to be alive.”
Zebra: “My only friend starved to death.”
Vulture: “One of the others has no friends.”
It’s a riddle!
The party debates...
"Probably the lion is his friend because Wongo is a douchebag," Valour says. "But that's me basing that on character, not this puzzle."
The party agrees that it's the vulture they should put the water in. Dur-Dur-Dur peeks through the vulture mask and tells them where to pour the water.
🌱 pours water into the statue's left hand. Everyone packs in. Dur-Dur-Dur hides behind everyone. People debate whether they should all be inside or not as Wongo’s puzzle cube appears in the left hand because they know that snatching it means bad shit will happen.
🌱 hears a voice that says, “Take the prize and curse your friends, or fight my children to claim it. What is your choice?”
Well 🌱 ain’t about cursing his friends, so he uses his symbiote power to transform just in time for a whole mess of su-monsters to show up! One claws at 🌱 as Artus Cimber uses flesh to stone but actually it’s ice on a su monster, and it petrifies into an ice-monkey.
Dur-Dur-Dur charges in, rages, and hits a monkey just as another su-monster screams at him. Valour goes up and slices the throat of one. The frozen su-monster shakes off the spell, and Ezekiel swings with his halberd and hexblade's curse, hitting the critter.
🌱 shillelaghs one su-monster as Zanzibar ray of frosts one to death and shouts "ALL ME, BABY!"
Dragonbait wails on a su-monster that psychic screams at Valour. Artus uses Bookmark on a monkey real rough as Dur-Dur-Dur shakes off the paralysis, and Valour kills the last su-monster.
Dur-Dur-Dur then reaches out and obtains Wongo the su-monster's puzzle cube!
Dur-Dur-Dur pockets the puzzle cube, and the PC’s discuss their next plan. They can continue going northeast to Papazotl’s shrine, or they can check out a creepy-looking amphitheater that’s not too far from them. Ever the explorers, the party heads to the amphitheater to look for stuff.
As they enter the amphitheater, a disembodied voice speaks to them. "Go no further…"
"What do you know of Valindra Shadowmantle?" the voice says.
"Well... she lives in a tree..." Dur-Dur-Dur says.
At that point, four red wizards materialize around them, standing and floating atop the ruins and glaring at the party. Zanzibar recognizes one of them as the red wizard he chased in the jungle, and the wizard gives him an acknowledging glance.
One of the wizards steps forth. Half of her face is an old crone’s, and the other half is a beautiful young woman. “I’m Zagmira,” she says. “And I’ve heard from Valindra that we would receive reinforcements at her behest.”
"Can you heal me?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"Do I look like I heal people?" Zagmira sneers.
Ezekiel group huddles everyone to discuss some facts, "So as I see it, that's four of them yes. That's four more mouths to feed, treasure-wise, if they come with us."
"Well they're here for the Soulmonger, not treasure... they want to use it," Zanzibar says.
"They have those puzzle cubes," Ezekiel points out. "And you want their spellbooks."
"Just one..." Zanzibar clarifies.
"Let's just kill them and take their puzzle cubes. They're little bitches!" Valour says. "You guys got spells, right?"
"We have no idea how many spell slots they have," Ezekiel says. "We know that they can fly and go invisible."
"Hey half old lady!" Dur-Dur-Dur shouts from the huddle. "Wait, which eye do I look at? First of all. I gotta be honest. Half of you is looking pretty old and meek, can you demonstrate some spells so we can see what you can do? Can you demonstrate some high-level spells for me?"
Dur-Dur-Dur rolls a 1 for persuasion.
The wizards point at Valour, "Come speak with us."
"I think he is a little under the weather," Ezekiel says.
"No! I don't trust you guys. We can talk right here," Valour says.
"You didn't accept the deal with Valindra," Zagmira says.
"I already have a deal with Tyr and Pretzelcoat," Valour says. "You're not even going to see the Soulmonger."
"Do you wanna see a cool thing real fast," Dur-Dur-Dur says. "Look how beautiful my axe is!"
All four of the wizards disappear.
"I told you I told you I told you!" Valour says. “Little bitches!”
"That's what I was afraid of," Zanzibar says. He tries to counterspell their invisibility, but his counterspell gets counterspelled like a damned Magic the Gathering game.
The wizards are gone.
"We now have a problem," Zanzibar says.
"Well let's get our tent out and go to sleep!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"RIGHT HERE? WHERE THEY'VE BEEN CAMPING?" 🌱 says.
They instead loot the amphitheater and find some treasure, as well as a helm of telepathy.
"I could use this! Unless someone else needs it..." Zanzibar says.
"I could use it," Ezekiel says.
"No, you don't need to read anyone's mind!" Valour says.
Zanzibar gives Ezekiel the wand of entangle in exchange for the helm. The party then debates what to do for their camping situation.
"This camp feels like the worst place to camp!" Zanzibar says.
"Why?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"They'll try to kill us!" Zanzibar says.
"There's 4 of them and 6 of us!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"And sometimes more if we want monkeys!" Valour says.
The party hunkers down under a Leonund’s tiny hut and rests, but the red wizards don’t disturb them that night.
The next day, the party definitely decides to go to Papazotl’s shrine. No nonsense! They find a market on the way there, which seems abandoned for a bit until they—
Nope! No nonsense! They keep walking.
Papazotl’s shrine has a couple feet of water overflowing within, and that water is teeming with crocodiles. Fortunately, Mauratal taught the party that crocodiles are not really an issue for the PC’s unless the crocodiles are massive, so 🌱 casts water walk on the party, and they proceed to eliminate the hell out of the little crocs until a larger, momma crocodile shows up.
But there’s just one of her and like six of the PC’s, so they annihilate her ass as 🌱 uses chill touch to reach into her wounds and tear her to shreds.
The party shakes their Old Man awake and makes him read the sign up front, which says “PAPAZOTL TEACHES US TO BOW BEFORE NO ONE.”
They go inside and see some strange stuff, most notably six animal statues of a lizard, a jaguar, a lobster, a toucan, a bat, and a frog… and another fucking riddle.
Didn’t they just do an animal based riddle?
The riddle says the following,
Comes with sunshine
Leaves with night
Hides in darkness
Does not bite
Always joined to its caster
Never strays from its master
"How do you say shadow in Old Omuan?" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
The Old Man speaks the word, and nothing happens.
The party then spends a lot of time trying to figure out the riddle. They then realize they need a shadow! They need a way to block out the light, but then realize that the light is blocked out and they’re in the dark because they all forgot they have darkvision.
Zanzibar casts light on a coin and puts it on a pedestal. Nothing happens.
🌱 uses his blue quarterstaff and waves it over the lizard statue and finds nothing. He eventually waves it near the bat statue, which reveals a crawlway that's two feet wide and 3 feet high, only visible when a shadow is cast over it. 🌱 casts gaseous form on Dur-Dur-Dur so that he can fit through the crawlway. The orc goes in and enters a room with a grid etched into the far wall.
"Cast a shadow on it!" Valour says.
"I'm a gas!" Dur-Dur-Dur says.
"Un-gas from that side and start breaking through!" Valour says.
🌱 un-gasses Dur-Dur-Dur, who appears in material form. Dur-Dur-Dur then hacks his way through the wall and back to the party after around thirty minutes of swinging.
"This is a puzzle key," Dur-Dur-Dur says, looking at the grid pattern.
After much debate and lots of chopping up the shrine, the party realizes that the grid spaces on the pattern match the number of letters in the initial riddle, and that by putting each letter into the grid, a secret message appears, “COVER EYES.”
Dur-Dur-Dur covers his eyes with his hands.
Ezekiel looks at him really disappointed-like.
"What about the eyes of the statues?" Ezekiel says.
"I have plenty of mummy cloth to cover everyone's eyes," 🌱 says.
"Where'd you get mummy cloth?" Ezekiel says.
"FROM A MUMMY!" 🌱 shouts.
They wrap the eyes of the statues in mummy cloth, which causes the puzzle cube of Papazotl to emerge from a nearby pedestal. 🌱 reacquires the mummy cloth.
"All me!" Dur-Dur-Dur says, then hands the puzzle cube to Zanzibar.