At the end of last session, we left the party in a perilous position. They were battling a gigantic shark that had been trying to eat a rowing boat (and the desperate sailor therein).
Although the sailor was now safe aboard the Mermaid’s Mistress, several of the party were badly injured. Karelia drove the shark below the ocean waves with a flaming sphere and the heroes still out on the water thanks to Grooble’s water walking spell rushed back to the ship before the vicious predator could reappear. All made it back to the ship as something huge passed directly under the vessel. Grooble—thinking quickly—flew aloft and dripped some of his blood into the water. With the shark thus distracted he slowly led it away from the ship. Once he had led it some distance away, he healed himself and then returned to his companions.
With the ship now safe, the party turned their attentions to healing their own wounds and speaking with the fisherman they had rescued. It transpired the man was called Adler and he was in desperate need of help. He had been rowing all morning to find aid for the beleaguered village of Black Cove. It seemed the village had been under attack by some fell agency for several days and that Adler’s own wife—Sara—had been kidnapped when she and Adler has attempted to consummate their marriage on the Wedding Rock. The Wedding Rock stood the legend-shrouded island of Nal-Kashel, which lay about two hours sail beyond Black Cove.
Hearing of a village in need of help, the party quickly agreed to help and Markessa set sail. The village lay about five hours sailing away and as the Mermaid’s Mistress drew ever closer, the weather began to worsen. Dark clouds gathered on the horizon and as the afternoon wore on, a light rain began to fall. Eventually, the party sailed into sight of the village, but in the meantime the weather had worsened.
The ramshackle village of Black Cove stood at the mouth of a small, sheltered bay. The village seemed deserted—the only light coming from the village’s lighthouse (known as the Red Eye of Asmodeusu). The party decided to rest overnight and investigate the village the next day.
However, it seemed fate—or perhaps some fell agency—had other plans. As dusk fell, the wind and rain picked up becoming even harder. Before long, a storm was brewing and waves—that got larger and larger—crashed upon the beach. As the party watched—now many of them on deck—the waves reached the first line of huts and destroyed them and the village’s dilapidated jetty. But worse was to come.
The wind and the rain did not abate and as the sea got even more violent as huge waves began to break around the lighthouse. Before long, the sea had risen so high the lighthouse itself began to flood! As the party—those that hadn’t succumbed to violent seasickness—looked on, a gigantic octopus clambered out of the raging sea and attacked the lighthouse. Its huge tentacles quested inside through doors and windows. Even over the wind and the rain, the party could hear the faint frenzied screams of those trapped within as the octopus grabbed and pulled out villager after screaming villager. In short order, it had grabbed about a dozen of the defenceless, terrified folk and retreated back into the sea its captives—or food—yet struggling vainly in its mighty tentacles.
As the huge predator from the deep retreated, the wind and waves began to calm and shortly thereafter conditions had returned to a semblance of normalcy. At this point, both the party’s paladins began to feel a little uneasy and had the distinct impression Heironeous was not happy with their delay in helping the villagers.
Thus galvanised the party leapt into the ship’s boats and rowed to the village to see if there were any survivors (and to see if they could render any assistance).
They discovered, much of the village was abandoned (and in a sorry, ramshackle state). At the lighthouse, however, they discovered a score or so traumatised survivors. They set about helping these poor unfortunates—who seemed very suspicious of the party and their sudden arrival in the wake of the latest devastating attack. The party noticed many of the villagers were rather ugly and some were even misshapen. With word and deed, the party slowly improved the villagers’ attitude toward them. Eventually, they learnt the attacks seemed to have started when Gerlach—a villager, sorcerer and alchemist—developed an interest (and visited) Nal-Kashel. Several villagers spoke of a debt they owed to the sea and it seemed they—as a people—had some kind of unnatural link to the briny waters of the Hellmouth.
With this information in hand, the party searched the rest of the village for survivors and clues (finding none) and rested overnight in preparation for a trip to the sinister, storied isle that seemed to be a the centre of the village’s woes.
In the morning, one of the villagers, Estian, offered to row the party to the isle (as the waters around the island were treacherous for larger vessels).
After several hours, the island came into sight just as the rowboat entered a large jellyfish swarm. At the sight of the sinister island and of the ruined towers floating above it, Estian laughed. Several of the heroes sensed something was wrong moments before he transformed into a hideous, green-scaled humanoid in front of their eyes. With a guttural laugh, Estian—or what was once Estian—began to violently rock the rowboat. Unfortunately, before Zainnis shot him dead, he had rocked the boat so violently that both Thaladan and Cortana (previously known as Peta) were tipped into the sea amid the jellyfish swarm. Disastrously, both paladins were wearing heavy armour and promptly began to sink below the rough ocean waves…