Eleint 19, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
Two days after leaving Baldur’s Gate, the crew of the Dragon’s Plunder spotted a huge sailing ship adrift at sea, covered in a thick veil of fog. The ship’s lookout noted that the huge ship—easily twice the size of the Dragon’s Plunder—was the Cottonmouth. There were no sailors on her decks. The Cottonmouth’s sails were furled and the helm was secured. The ship’s anchor had been lowered. It looked as though the ship had been suddenly and mysteriously abandoned.
Despite Captain Waveshredder’s attempt at hailing the Cottonmouth, a quiet sense of pervasiveness sent shivers down everyone’s spines. The fog shrouded both ships in an eerie pall.
Captain Waveshredder, along with some others, recalled that the Cottonmouth was the largest known ship to ever sail the Sea of Swords. Built in distant Luskan over a century before, the Cottonmouth was built for one purpose, to transport slaves. Her captain, a devil-of-a-man named Blackheart was said to have transported thousands of slaves before he died—reportedly of old age. But as the legend goes, another captain took over the ship’s helm. This new captain would also take on the name of Blackheart. It was also said that the ship’s captains—there were at least five known Captain Blackheart—possessed the fabled Ring of the Phoenix. A powerful ring and said to be worth a king’s ransom, the ring caused the wearer’s body would be immediately consumed by fire, his or her body turning to a pile of ash, if slain in combat. But the legend goes on to say that within a breath’s moment, the wearer would return—weakened, but alive—in a flash of fire! The ring was supposedly handed down by each captain to his successor. With the ring, every one of the ship’s captain was a formidable opponent who did not fear death in battle.
The adventurers met to decide what to do next. While some suggested that the Cottonmouth be left alone, others suggested that the Cottonmouth—if truly abandoned—could be worth a fortune if salvaged. Lyrica—under the guise of a male human merchant named Nyjel—warned that the Ring of the Phoenix should not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands if the ring was onboard. She also offered the possibility that there were still slaves left on board, but were unable to respond or call for help. After several minutes, it was decided that the three merchants along with the hired adventurers would board the Cottonmouth to investigate. Captain Waveshredder said, he would prepare enough of his crew, along with his First Mate, Bighass to take control of the Cottonmouth once it was secured. Perhaps the ship could be sailed to the Nelanthar Isles or returned to Baldur’s Gate.
Brogan, along with the others, prepared themselves. A skiff was lowered into the fog-veiled water. The adventurers then made their way to the abandoned ship.
Upon arriving onboard the Cottonmouth, the adventurers didn’t see any sign of struggle save for patches of water everywhere on deck. A set of watery footprints were also spotted near the ship’s skiff. The prints seemed to have started near the port-side rails but quickly ended near the skiff. They also saw an open hatch nearby, leading down into the ships hold.
As the group move towards the opened hatch, three ghostly figures emerged out of the ship’s deck. Each of the figures wore the simple garb of sailors, yet their undead bodies were composed mostly of water. Immediately, the ghosts advanced towards the adventurers. Each gurgled the words, “You can’t have them!” as they attacked.
A battle ensued in which the adventurers fought off and destroyed three watery ghosts while sustaining little or no injuries to themselves.
After, everyone carefully made their way down to the ship’s hold. All were ready to face any other threats that may await them onboard the cursed ship.
Below, the adventurers noticed empty cabins lit by enchanted lanterns that turned themselves on when someone entered. An empty storage are—save for some coins, several equipment, and minor trinkets—was also discovered below. The captain’s quarters, its door shut could be seen towards the ship’s stern.
But as the group made their way towards the captain’s quarters, four more ghosts suddenly materialized and attacked the adventurers. The door to the captain’s quarters suddenly burst open revealing a lavish, spacious cabin. Seated behind a finely carved table was none other than Captain Blackheart himself. He, too, was a ghost made of water.
And upon his finger, the group spotted the fabled Ring of the Phoenix!
To be continued in Sea of Swords, Part 2…