Leaving Falken Drango behind, the party returned to Port Shaw. After completing various sundry tasks, a messenger boy approached Bertram with a note. Their patron, Lavinia Vanderboren, requested an audience. Once at Lavinia’s estate, they found repairs from the bullywug invasion progressing well. Servants were hired and Lavinia seemed in good spirits. Surrounded by paperwork, she commented that she was settling accounts with Mayor Hargrove and others in Port Shaw and felt her finances were in much better shape. With her was a middle-aged human man, Captain Colthyn Riggs.
Lavinia noted that Riggs had done many favors for her parents in the past and now needed a favor himself: Escorting his merchant ship to Freeport. Riggs explained that the biggest dangers were likely pirates or slavers from Carcass, but the possibility always existed for monster attacks. With a promise of 500 gp each from Lavinia upon return, the party agreed. To fill out Captain Riggs’ crew and protection, they hired a gladiator warrior named Jana (after they sobered her up) and a wandering priest of Bowbe named Orie.
They showed up at Riggs’ ship, the Sealord’s Blessing, the next morning. Riggs himself seemed to be holed up in the cabin, but first mate Handerly greeted them warmly. He introduced them to the crew which included Gloomy Gus (a sailor full or bad omens), “Preach” (a soft-spoken apparent priest of Quell who oddly seemed to dabble in poisons) and an odd blue-skinned Tulita man with bulging round eyes named Pawanai (a Tulita blessed/tainted as an undine). The party integrated into the crew and, within an hour, were at sea.
Winds were favorable and Handerly seemed an expert at guiding the craft. He instructed them in various tasks and nautical terms. At midday, Captain Riggs emerged and began barking orders. In all, he seemed a moody leader who frequently yelled at the crew one minute and went completely silent the next. He smelled of rum and appeared not to have slept the night before.
That night, the lookout in the crow’s nest noticed a flickering flame. Riggs was interested in investigating and the party caught glimpses of a wrecked ship a few hundred yards away, illuminated by flickering flame. Looking for volunteers, the captain’s eyes settled on the party. The captain promised one share each (which, since he was captain, seemed overly-generous). Keahilani, Shea and Ozzy stayed aboard while Jana and Orie joined the party in the dinghies. Ono jumped into the open ocean and swam. In moments, they found the shipwreck and realized that a coral reef was pierced by a “trident” of stone pillars. The ship seem to have grounded on one of the trident “tines.” Ono jumped out of the water after seeing the silhouette of a tremendous fish and a school of tiny snappers that Bertram identified as Blood Snapper. They clambered aboard.
On deck, Aleister levitated to the intact crow’s nest to get a better look. Immediately, six filthy four-foot long birds with six legs each jumped from the nest and attacked. Bertram and Aleister recognized them as gryphs, with the ability to implant eggs in hosts. Bertram began firing while Ono and Jana did battle with the things on the deck below. Aleister was quickly grappled and implanted with offspring from the creature’s ovipositor. Orie avoided combat to heal. Oddly, Captain Riggs danced in and out of combat but didn’t engage one foe for long. Once the vile creatures were dead, Orie performed surgery on Aleister and removed three blue, squishy eggs.
They explored the upper cabins, finding evidence of a bloody battle but no corpses. All belongings seemed to have been smashed. Whoever did the damage, they didn’t appear interested in gold since coins were found in abundance. Oddly, Bertram located a belaying pin with sigils similar to the SeaLord’s Blessing as well as handkerchiefs with the initials C.R.
Walking back across the deck, the rotten wood gave away and the party plummeted through the floor and then through the amidsheps deck as well, into the lower cargo hold. Aleister’s Feather Fall spell saved them injury. Once there, they found more evidence of combat, dried blood and wreckage. They looted what they could, until Ono discovered a treasure chest half-submerged in water. The chest came alive and revealed itself to be an aquatic mimic. It attempted to drag Ono into the depths, but the party destroyed it and let it sink into oblivion.
Bertram again located a smuggler’s hold, opened by a disguised button. Pushing it, they located the skeleton of a human man, a tattered journal, old candle and dried ink next to him. The journal told of a young man named Titus who, escaping something he referred to as “tattered reavers”, hid in the secret hold. Too late, he realized it could not be opened from the inside. He penned his last request to return his ring and journal to his mother and noted he would likely die of thirst. He also noted that Captain Riggs was not to blame.
Whirling around, the party saw Riggs descend into a smooth, rock tube that seemed to go below the ship. Ono promised him death and the party pursued. A swirling green mist was seen inside the tube. Ready with feather fall, they began to descend, finding that the mist almost floated them to the bottom. Half way down, the tube widened and the walls were covered with a strange seaweed. The plants came alive and began strangling Aleister and Ono. A few blasts from Bertram’s weapon and hits from Jana and Ono made quick work of the creatures.
At the bottom, they found a jade-colored porthole. After examining it, the porthole slowly swung open. Ono jumped in first, finding himself in an alien environment. Fleshy, almost alive walls seemed to pulse. Strange equipment hummed and pulsated against one wall. A large column swirled with gases. As the rest of the party followed, grey gas erupted from the column covering them all.