“Durnan, the perpetually scowling proprietor of the Yawning Portal Inn, harrumphed as a he pushed his broom sullenly across the floor. He seemed to be muttering something about druids and feathers.
As I took my seat at the bar he gave no indication that he would be attending to me any time soon. Instead, a portly half-elf scurried over to the taps and produced a frothy, chilled bronze mug full of the Amnish mead and collected my gold. Sipping the slightly nutty but honeyed drink I surveyed the room; each time I visited this place I heard more and greater tales of heroism and adventure and I truly hoped that today would be no different.
Thankfully I had but a few moments to wait. Scanning over and beyond the dirty dwarves and burly orcs, my eyes came to rest on a group of deeply-tanned humans in the corner. They were deeply engaged in not only their stories but also their drinks; a collection of empty mugs had grown on their table and were now threatening to take over and spill to the floor. I winked at my half-elven barkeep friend and indicated that I would like to order 4 more of whatever they were having.
The humans blinked in brief confusion as I placed a new mug before each of them. Their language was strange, almost alien, and once they started chatting again it took me a few moments to realize that they were speaking Chultan. The jungle island (or peninsula, to some) far to the south did not often have visitors that I was aware of, and rarer still would the natives leave and come to the mainland – let alone as far north as Waterdeep. I took in their story as best I could, though I’m afraid I lost a little bit in translation.
You see, friend, they were speaking of an ancient and nearly forgotten city named Tamoachan. Located somewhere along the interior of the Mistcliffs, the mountains on the northwest side of the island, Chultans of yesteryear had built a shrine dedicated to Zotzilaha. This being’s function translated loosely to ‘vampire god’ – or was it ‘death god’? – and this shrine was built to simultaneously give worship to it and bind it to one place. Only their greatest warriors and shamans would be allowed to trek there, as the entrance was hidden deep below the labyrinthine streets of that place. Great and terrible challenges await in those halls, from poisoned darts to monstrous foes to fearsome servants of the ‘vampire god’ himself… alas, I am unfit for such a trip!”
I tapped my recently bandaged ribs and leg, explained that kobolds were to be avoided at all costs, and continued:
“Though you, my brave and eager friends, are merely a ship’s passage away from glory in the dark jungle to the south. Think of it: piles of gold, enchanted ritual daggers and platinum-gilded masks of the animal gods, elder curses and wards… oh how the heart aches for what it cannot have.
Come, I will draw you a map of what I understood from their conversation. You should be able to get to Port Nyanzaru on the north side of the island, then in no more than three days journey into the jungle you should find this place and harvest from it the riches that every adventurer craves!”
For the DM:
Thinking outside the box: