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"Who is Napaka?" Valour says to the party.
"She's the queen who blew me up three times," Zanzibar says.
While the party discusses how to deal with the skittish mirror survivor who isn’t Biff, 🌱 reaches for the horns of the slain minotaur, but the Omuan warrior woman slaps him with the flat side of her sword. Annoyed that he can’t satisfy his horniness for minotaurs, 🌱 instead goes to the dead gargoyle and smacks it up a bit, collecting a pile of gargoyle dust. He isn’t slapped for this.
"Valour, see if you can buy this lady's armor off of her,” 🌱 says, admiring her chitinous plated armor.
"We tried talking to her but all we can do is do elaborate hand gestures," Zanzibar says.
Zanzibar then reaches into his pocket and pulls out the magical scepter that he took from Napaka’s sarcophagus. He shows the scepter to the Omuan, who then holds her hand out for it, desperate to possess the scepter of her fallen queen.
"NO!" Zanzibar says, then puts it away.
"Ask for her armor," 🌱 says.
Zanzibar knows that he can’t speak with her yet, so he uses his helm of telepathy that he’s been toting around since episode 35. He casts detect thoughts to see what’s going on in her head, but she saves against the maneuver and then snarls at him. Valour casts divine sense, but senses nothing.
Everyone eyes Valour for casting divine sense in her presence.
"Hey, Valindra didn't attack us," Valour says.
"And she's definitely evil," Zanzibar says.
"But she gave me this thing!" 🌱 says, pointing at his ioun stone that I keep forgetting to draw.
"I don't know what to do for this lady," Valour says, unable to traverse the language barrier.
Dur-Dur-Dur isn’t paying attention to any of this, so he loots the dead drow mage and finds no spellbook. Zanzibar is mad at this. "Identify these robes!" Dur-Dur-Dur says, stripping the drow and shoving the laundry into Zanzibar’s hands. He is also mad at this.
🌱 whips out his t-rex dagger and scalps the drow's hair, putting it into his bag. He then squeezes the stirge for its Chultan juices. Dur-Dur-Dur searches the dead Chultan merchant and finds an empty wine bottle bearing a pretty label that says, 'The Wizard of Wines Winery, Red Dragon Crush, 331422-W', a pyramid of sticky black incense that smells very bad, and a pipe that blows bubbles. He immediately puts the pipe in his mouth.
🌱 then sinks his teeth into the drow mage and gains 3d8+8 HP as his body learns to decompose humanoid flesh. As he absorbs the drow nutrients, for the next 24 hours he can cast darkness one time. Neat!
Dur-Dur-Dur loots Biff’s electrified corpse and finds nothing.
"Biff was not a very good fighter," Zanzibar says.
"Yeah he was garbage," Chumbawumba agrees.
"I have an idea of how we can impress this lady," Valour says. He takes out Bookmark, holds it up in the air, then uses Moa to go invisible and runs away. As he passes Dragonbait, he yells, "FUUUUCK!"
🌱 still won’t let off with trying to obtain her armor, which he’s having a hard time of obtaining after ripping scalps and devouring people. "We could ask her for that armor!” he shouts to Zanzibar. “Do you have suggestion with your head?"
"Let's just make friends with this lady and call it a night," Valour says.
"We could take her to the tomb of Napaka," Zanzibar suggests, but not with suggestion. Regular suggestion. Non-italics.
"I'm not going back in there again!" Valour says.
"We've successfully detonated all of those traps," Zanzibar says.
"We don't know that!" Valour says.
"If that chick's her queen, she might think 'my post has ended because I was assigned to protect the queen!'" Zanzibar suggests, but again not with a suggestion… more of a recommendation.
They decide to lead the Omuan warrior to Queen Napaka’s tomb. As Zanzibar guides her, he makes sure to flex and strut to show off how strong he is, even in his old age.
They enter the room with the twice dead tyrannosaurus and the blind painter corpses, and the Omuan woman is astonished at the sight, unable to comprehend what she’s seeing. Zanzibar takes her around the balcony, but he slips in some of the oil that Valour dumped out in their earlier fight with Dur-Dur-Dur, looking ever-so-foolish.
The Omuan sees the throne with the skull of Karagos mounted on it. She approaches, it, drops to one knee, and mutters “Karagos…” before heading into Napaka’s tomb. She sees the dead queen and seems a bit unnerved at all the charred, burnt stuff on the wall. She kneels in front of her, mutters a prayer, then stands up.
The sneer on her face shows that she wants to get some revenge on some bad guys.
Yay! New tank!
Valour then reappears behind her, "See, that's why we killed all this stuff! They're evil!"
The Omuan steps up to him and offers her hand. He shakes it. She then draws her sword and waits for Valour to point the way towards the next thing she needs to kill.
"Right now we need a safe room where we can sleep," Valour says. "What do you say, team?"
"Sleep!" Dur-Dur-Dur shouts.
"We can probably rest anywhere then. We haven't heard any clanging," Zanzibar says, noticing a lack of the clattering noises that kept them from sleeping earlier… which also raises questions. Did they vanquish whichever foe was keeping them from resting?
They decide the best place to sleep is the room where they had the fight with the mirror people, but there are all these dead bodies just sitting there. They push the corpses out of the room because it’s hard to sleep when there are corpses around if your name isn’t represented with an emoji. Valour does a funeral rite ceremony on the Omuan’s minotaur friend while 🌱 casts animate dead to resurrect Biff and the older Chultan as zombies.
Two zombies! It’s the best day ever!
Since they have lots of time on their hands, they decide to listen to backstories. Everyone sits around and listens to Doomfist's backstory first!
"Uuuuh, oh god..." Doomfist says, unable to come up with anything.
Everyone then decides to listen to Valour's backstory instead!
"Tell us about how you got to be a paladin," 🌱 says.
Valour clears his throat. "My name is Uul'valaar Stevenson, and I was a half-breed—kind of. I am of two worlds, but not really of either. I never fit in with humans or elves. Each sees me as a human-thing or an elf-thing, and I'm not really either. And I got a dumb name. And kids are mean. And when you have that childhood or that life experience, you can either be a jerk or look out to protect others. I want justice and fairness and goodness. That's why I became a paladin."
"Did you like major in... what did you study to become a justice warrior?" 🌱 says.
"I just kind of went around and righted wrongs,” Valour says. “I found Meepos and had them not worship Tiamat… then accidentally left them behind in Kinchasa to ruin the timeline. I don't know what's happened to Meepo."
With Valour's backstory over, it's time for the druid to step up and explain his past.
"All right everybody you're going to need a snack," 🌱 says and gives a goodberry to everyone as he sits down to tell the weirdest… fucking… thing… anyone has ever heard.
He clears his throat and begins the tale, "So living peacefully in the forests and swamps between the small villages of Blackshire and Warcross, 🌱 was content on tending his garden, finding wild fruits and flowers, brewing and vintning his beers, wines, and spirits. Over the years and then all of a sudden, deforestation ruined his home and his way of life. Now he travels around the world, fighting the injustice of deforestation by any means necessary.
"His father was from an historical farm in a plains area. When his ancestor founded the farm, he brought several chestnut seeds from his home thousands of miles away. The trees survived the chestnut blight that took the lives of all their kin, but one by one each tree, save one, perished to the strange new plain. The sole surviving son of the founder was entranced by the sole surviving chestnut. Each month, with learned precision, he drew the tree. Years went by, lives went by, and every month—without fail—he drew that tree.
"On his deathbed, his son promised to carry on the tradition, but he himself was shortly fallen in the war. His own son was too young to understand what he was doing, and took up the drawing task himself. After hundreds and hundreds of months, the pictures stacked on one another told the story of the chestnut bursting with movement, alive and growing.
“Generations later, the chestnut and the drawings hypnotized 🌱's father, who was later known as Watchmen.
“🌱's mother eventually became known as Maidenhair. She was studying to become an actuary because she thought the idea of putting the concept of risk to math was beautiful. On one particularly bad day, she was struck by lightning and killed.
"A few seconds later, the forest revived her, and the spirit of the trees grasped her soul. She immediately quit her schooling and started traveling to the other side of the continent: there were Old Trees that needed her.
“On her journey, she spent weeks traversing a treeless plains area until she saw in the distance a single, solitary chestnut. Watchmen found her and together they saw that the blight had finally reached this chestnut. It was dying, along with all the others. There was nothing left for Watchman at the farm, so they left to save the Old Trees.
“There, they became leaders in an ecoterrorism movement to destroy loggers' equipment. When 🌱 was very young, their biggest bombing went awry, and Maidenhair never came back. It drove Watchman mad, and he left 🌱 alone with the forest between Warcross and Blackshire, where he thought the loggers would never make it.
“🌱 loved the forest and the plants, and he learned to love the chemicals they made. He became adept in brewing fruit wine, and he wanted to learn goodberry wine and ale. The Old Trees helped him become a druid so he could learn to make more goodberries and help the forests... And that's where 🌱 comes from!"
Everyone hopes that took a long time to tell.
Chumbawumba steps up, "Aight you big green fuck, I can take up the last hour," Chumbawumba says, ready to tell his backstory. "I don't have a backstory," Okay nevermind. "But I do have a joke. Dur-Dur-Dur, where you at you big green fuck? You always ask for jokes? This joke is called the aristo-tabaxis..."
3 hours later and everyone is missing Ezekiel something terrible.
They then go to bed.
"Zanzibar...” Valour whistpers. “I have three vials of dreaming agaru… do you want these?"
"Uh, I have a pile of them. I have ten,” Zanzibar says.
Zanzibar then quaffs a dreaming agaru, which allows him to reroll one of his portents. "I should have been doing this for years!" He rerolls his 11 and gets a 15.
The party then regains their Hit Points and levels up. Sweet! They then decide it’s time to go down the stairs to floor number five, which is accessible through the hole in between the gargoyles.
"We need to have a chat first!" Zanzibar chats. "Something told us that the gods don’t go down there."
"Something told us that there are no MORE gods down there,” Valour clarifies. “You heard machinery, which could be Acererak."
"How many gods have we found?" Zanzibar says, which sounds like a title for a self-help book.
"We haven't found Shagambi the Kamadan," Valour says.
"So, before we go down to the place that there are no more gods… how confidant are we?" Zanzibar says.
"How many skeleton heads do we have?" Valour says, then counts four.
"We don't have any idea how many skeleton heads there are,” Zanzibar says. “But there are one per floor. We've been on four floors and found eight gods, and I don't think there will be another god down there. Do we want to look for the last one?"
Valour says, "If we walk around and fuck around and look, there's no way we're going to do a whole day's worth of activities and sleep again. We need everything to fight Acererak now unless us getting a little hurt to get a god power might be better than what we have now. And we don't know that."
"Okay. I want everyone to consider the fact that we might not find that last god and might not come back up once we come down," Zanzibar says.
"True, we haven't explored this floor. BUT there are lots of traps in these tombs," Valour says. "I say we just go down. I say we don't trigger any more traps.” Speaking of traps, Valour suddenly remembers something kind of important. “Hold on! When we were on the first floor, we spoke to a thing... what floor was that on?"
"Five..." Zanzibar mutters.
"Let's go down the waterfall!" Valour says.
"The voice also talked about Withers, who said he doesn't go down here. so maybe we haven't found him,” Zanzibar says.
"Though we think Withers is the doppelganger. That's what Lickety Biscuit said," Valour says. “So if Withers is the caretaker, that means he has an apartment around here. I know what I can do! I can summon Quest over this hole, and if Sikkukurut goes after that, he's gonna have a horse on his head!"
It’s not a terrible plan.
But it’s not really a plan, is it?
More of a desperate contingency.
Valour ties a rope to Dur-Dur-Dur and mounts him on the side of the hole since he’s sticky, then the paladin goes invisible and lowers himself down. He lands in a pentagonal room full of compost matter with a rusty old sprinkler in the middle. Two paths arch to the south and the west. Valour then signals 🌱 to be the next one down.
🌱 goes down, a zombie tucked under each arm.
"There's like weird plant stuff down here," Valour says, coincidentally right when 🌱 arrives.
"I like weird plant stuff," 🌱 says.
"There's also this rusty sprinkler,” Valour says, pointing at the rusty sprinkler.
🌱 has no opinion regarding rusty sprinklers.
The party realizes that there are a few pentagon-shaped platforms resting on cogs that are walled off in certain ways, and that they need to rotate these cogs to connect the paths.
🌱’s zombies dig through the compost and realize all of the mulch is latticed together, which is unusual but not super daunting. He’s done his fair share of mulching in his THIRTY PAGE BACKSTORY I’m sure.
The party takes the western exit, which leads to another pentagon shaped room, but this one has freshes… freezers… frescas? FRIEZES! Geez room description, make me Google much? So they find a goopy pile of acidic slime on the floor in this room, and the FRIEZES on all five walls depict scary, spooky black dragons. There’s another exit to the west of this room, but the PC’s decide to backtrack a bit and check out the southern exit, which is a hallway spotted with more of this goopy slime.
🌱 suspects danger ahead, so he steps up and casts darkness at the end of the hallway where it forms a dreaded two-place hallway that would make even the most Dur-Dur-Dur of orcs shudder! So now that juncture is dark… and nobody can see anything now.
That may have been a bad idea.
🌱 apologizes and breaks the darkness.
Valour leaps across the slime patch in the hallway and lands on the other side. He looks at the ceiling, which has "AWAKEN NAPAKA!" scrawled in blood. Neat!
They enter the connected hallway and notice that the floor is sloped at a five degree angle. Also the walls of this long chamber are covered in murals (not friezes, just so you all know! We’re only putting “friezes” in one room!) of people with hoods worshipping a black star.
Doomfist speaks with his doom-face. "Zanzibar has that helm thing they're worshipping—the black star—similar depictions. In the other room they were running from it and in this room they're worshipping it." He points at the MURALS.
Several of them leap across the goopy stuff and check out the murals. 🌱 notices that a sconce isn’t lit, so he lights it with magic and shit. The flickering light shows that a crocodile-headed humanoid on the bas relief (seriously they couldn’t have just called the friezes a bas relief? Wait a minute I THOUGHT THESE WALLS WERE MURALS FUCK M—)
The crocodile-headed humanoid on the… the… WALL PAINTINGS THAT STICK OUT A LITTLE BIT is holding up a treasure chest, and the flickering light shows that the lock on the chest is a real lock!
Zanzibar checks out the “AWAKEN NAPAKA!” text on the ceiling, then he pulls out her scepter. He shouts, "Awaken Napaka!"
"Lady Akunai!" 🌱 shouts.
Nothing happens even harder.
They show the writing to the Omuan and she's completely baffled. She can’t really read it.
The party sees that there is a curtain at the eastern end of the hallway so they pull it back, revealing a gargoyle statue with one of its hands broken off and lying on the ground. The broken hand is clenched shut, and the other three hands are wide open. They read a riddle written somewhere nearby I don’t know wherever the hell this riddle is at.
THREE I NEED
THEN THREE MORE
THREE MORE STILL
AND I OPEN THE DOOR
"There's nine Trickster Gods..." Valour ponders.
"HEY! Didn't we get a key from Napaka?" Zanzibar says. He reaches into his bag of shit that he stole from the dead queen’s dead corpse and pulls out a crocodile-shaped key.
Crocodile key? Crocodile lock? Maybe!
Zanzibar puts the key in keyhole and turns it, revealing a crawlspace behind the treasure chest. None of them want to go through it. If only they had someone to check it out…
"Lickety Buscuit, get over here!" Chumbawumba says as Tubthumpin hovers over.
The lizard hops out of Tubthumpin and trots down the tunnel. He shouts out what he sees, "There is this giant statue on roller wheels! And a giant ruby the size of that fisty feller's fist!"
The party realizes that the lizard has crawled behind the western wall, and they realize that the wall can be lifted, so they tell the Omuan woman to smack it. She and 🌱’s zombies smack it for a while, and after a few good hits, the wall rises into the ceiling!
Behind the wall OH MY GOD IT’S A MASSIVE STEAMROLLER STONE JUGGERNAUT THING MADE OUT OF STONE and it gets ready to roll down the incline and smush the party!
🌱 casts erupting earth, causing the rocks and dirt beneath the juggernaut to crack upward, and it looks like the juggernaut took none of that damage. This will cause issues. "Zombies die for me!" 🌱 shouts, sending the zombie Chultan and zombie Biff forward.
Zanzibar uses the Ring of Winter to cast ice wall in the spot that the door had been. Dragonbait shoots lots of arrows at the juggernaut but does absolutely nothing whatsoever.
The Omuan tries to run from the juggernaut, but her foot gets caught a little bit and it hurts the hell out of her, but she gets away. While fleeing, she tries to grab Zanzibar’s bag which has her queen’s shit in it.
“NO!” Zanzibar resists, pulling the bag away from her.
"Don't you have the scepter?" Doomfist says.
"Yes I showed it to her,” Zanzibar says.
"I think she wants it," Doomfist says.
"WHY!?" Zanzibar says, using one of his portents to resist her taking his bag from him.
Chumbawumba casts shatter on the structure, then hides.
"What should we do? Should we dodge this trap!? It may destroy the gargoyle and that may be important!" Valour says, deeply concerned.
Valour uses Bookmark to teleport behind the stone juggernaut, and he sees a giant ruby stone sitting on a pedestal behind it. He grabs the ruby like Abu from Aladdin.
Zanzibar wants to leave the hallway, but he sees the angry Omuan blocking the hallway, and he doesn't want to get near her, but the juggernaut is in the other side of the hallway. He uses the Ring of Winter to cast Bigby's hand, interposing it between himself and juggernaut.
The juggernaut doesn’t head down the sloped hallway, but instead kicks into reverse and heads straight at Valour who is standing maybe 1 foot behind it. The half-elf backs into the corner, cramming himself at an angle that the stone juggernaut can’t quite reach him.
The Omuan tries to get Zanzibar to produce Napaka’s adamantium mace by reaching for the bag again, but he slaps her hand away after rolling a natural insight check of 1 to figure out what she’s doing. Doomfist, however, realizes that she was trying to grab the Napaka mace.
"THE MACE! THE MACE IN YOUR BAG!" Doomfist shouts to Zanzibar about the mace that Zanzibar literally identified it’s magical properties as “a very specific artifact meant to destroy a dangerous construct.”
He just needs to activate the mace and the juggernaut will crumble to dust!
"Oh it's adamantium,” Valour says, looking at the mace. “That would hurt the juggernaut!"
"Yeah but the Mace of Terror would do more damage!" 🌱 says.
Nobody’s getting it!
Dammit I guess nobody’s reading these writeups! I can just blab out all kinds of secrets in here and nobody will know, like how Valour is also on the sixth floor—
Ah forget it.
Chumbawumba enters the fight, throws a firebolt at the rock thing, hits for twenty, then teleports away with his magic boots because he’s too fat to run away.
Valour activates Flametongue and swings at the juggernaught, hitting it and just kind of burning it a little. It’s a rock. Fire doesn’t do a whole lot to rock. If he picked Charmander as his starter, he would have known this.
Speaking of Pokémon just fucking everything up, 🌱 steps into some of that goopy slime by accident and hears a voice in his head, "About time you got down here! Hahahah!" it cackles.
"Uh you guys hear that voice?" 🌱 says.
"You been eating your own mushrooms!?" Chumbawumba says.
Zanzibar finally takes the fucking Napaka scepter out and it vaporizes the stone juggernaut to crumbly pebbles THERE he saved everyone! Damn!