The following day the Raven Queen’s sails were once again fully set, and the ship was making good time as it completed its trek around the cape. The crew was now sailing westward in the waters of the South Sea when dusk began to fall. It was only an hour later when a lookout spotted a mysterious form in the nearby waters, and a quiet word quickly spread that it appeared to be some sort of sea serpent? Tensions continued to mount as the minutes passed, until a long necked serpent suddenly exploded from the water! The crew quickly began to scramble to the defense of the ship. But the companions seemed determine to deal with the threat themselves as the dwarf Mongo insisted that the crew take cover below deck, but the crew either failed to listen or failed to hear the dwarf over all of the commotion. Then Altain approached the sailor who appeared to be in charge, and explained the need for the crew to remain unharmed in order to sail the ship. The explanation seemed to take hold, as the man turned and directed the others to take cover below. At that poinst many of the heroes had already begun to engage the large serpentine creature as it lunged at the group scattered along the ships decks, the creature’s long neck allowing its jaws to snap down upon men up to ten feet away from the ship’s rail. But the true danger had not yet been realized until four additional heads suddenly burst from the surrounding waters!! Audible gasps could be heard on deck, as each of the companions suddenly came to realize that this beast was no serpent at all, but instead a five headed hydra! But the brave heroes refused to back down, and after finally collecting themselves fought valiantly until two of the creature’s heads had been severed. Then something incredible took place, as each stump began to regenerate two heads! Suddenly the group of heroes now faced a six headed hydra!! It was under the stress of this sudden revelation that the paladin Fin was bitten by several of the heads and fell unconscious to the deck. The dwarf Mongo, seeing his companion’s blood mixing with the sea water that continued to splash over the ships deck, began to shout loudly above the chaos. His words inspired those around him to fight for their fallen companion, and to the groups amazement Fin began to stir! The paladin fought against the rolling sea, and began rising up. Somehow with Mongo’s words of defiance and hope Fin had regained consciousness, and now stood preparing to call upon Bahamut in the hope that his god might give him the strength to carry on. The battle continued to rage for several long minutes as the companions struggled to avoid the sharp teeth of the hydra’s many heads, but many found it nearly impossible to avoid the assault. The watery deck was now stained with the blood of not only the enemy, but the companions as well. But finally after an exhausting battle only one head remained, and the group had begun to realize that Altain’s sword, “Moonfire”, was the key. Apparently the enchanted swords ability to summon fire seemed able to cauterize the wounds of the hydra, preventing the creature from regenerating additional heads. The tactic had proved successful thus far, and with one head remaining Altain charged forward to prevent the creature from regenerating yet again. But the eladrin swordmage was unaware that the beast had seen the charge coming from his peripheral vision, and the serpent-like head suddenly wielded around, striking Altain and knocking him unconscious! To the groups horror the hydra had already begun to regenerate two more heads from the stub of the previously severed neck. The sea creature now writhed about with three heads that now snapped down upon the hapless heroes, and many of the companions were nearing their ends. Nearby, one of the crew looked on helplessly as he watched the heroes nearly slay the beast, only to suddenly witness two additional heads join the epic battle. The situation was getting more dire by the second, and finally three crew members jumped up from below to join the fray. One quickly manned the ballista nearby, while the others stepped forward towards the ships rail to engage the large sea creature. Meanwhile, Fin carefully made his way towards Altain and recited a quick prayer, healing some of the swordmage’s more severe wounds and helping him to regain consciousness. Finally after what seemed like hours rather than minutes, and with the assistance of the crew, the heroes finally felled the beast – its dead carcass staining the surrounding sea water crimson, as the creature slowly sank into the murky blue depths of the South Sea.
Many in the group were now near death themselves, and each was in desperate need of medical attention. Fin moved about the group assisting those he could, while fully realizing that if not for Bahamut’s gift of healing that the entire crew would have surely perished. Soon Captain Burgoyne could be seen inspecting the damages to the ship, but thankfully the damage was slight and the crew immediately began making the necessary repairs. Captain Burgoyne had asked to see the paladin Fin LaVie in his quarters, and the two men disappeared below the ships deck shortly after. The Captain had noted the paladin’s holy symbols, and witnessed the divine healing only heard of in legends and stories of a bygone era. He seemed curious of what had transpired in Fin’s past, and how he came to possess such power. Apparently the captain was familiar with the legend of “The Chosen One”, but seemed a nonbeliever before now. Burgoyne now seemed unsure in what to believe? Fin confirmed that the Captain had witnessed true healing, and Burgoyne would need time to process the new information. He thanked Fin for his time and the two parted ways.
As the meeting between the paladin and captain ended a sudden flurry of activity had just begun above deck. Apparently some bloody clothing of a crew member had been discovered hidden behind some crates down below in the cargo hold. A lineup was now being held on deck, and all of the crew was accounted for, but who the clothing belonged to had yet to be discovered. After some questioning one man finally stepped forward, and although appearing very nervous, took the blame for hiding the blood stained clothes. Robyn was doubtful of the story however, and later explained to Burgoyne his suspicion that a stow away was amongst them. The half-orc then explained that an assassin had been trailing the group for quite some time, and that he feared that the assassin was now hidden amongst the crew, or at the very least onboard the Raven Queen.
Several days later the ship finally entered dark waters of the Midnight Sea. It was late in the evening and many had heard stories of the strange going ons in these mysterious waters. Then suddenly the calm surface of the water exploded with writhing arms of a beast from the depths! Minds raced as the crew desperately scrambled to seal the hatches. During the sudden chaos on deck Captain Burgoyne could be heard yelling something about a “kraken”, but none could be sure exactly what was said. Quickly several in the group moved to slash the massive tentacled arms of the unseen creature. Soon Robyn and Mongo found themselves grabbed by the large tentacled arms, and hoisted above the deck. Others scrambled to strike the arms now attempting to abduct their fellow companions. But after a few short seconds of terror the arms suddenly released their stranglehold on the two heroes, dropping them to the deck, before disappearing below the surface of Midnight Sea. As suddenly as it had begun the attack had ended, but a deep rooted fear of the unknown had also been realized. Captain Burgoyne explained a legend amongst sailors called “the kraken”, but also told the group how it was believed to be a seaman’s myth used to explain the mysterious disappearances of ships gone missing on the high seas. It was the only explanation the Captain could offer, and one the Captain obviously hoped was inaccurate, since legend said the beast was capable of dragging a full sized ship to the dark depths of the sea!
The next evening the Raven Queen lookout finally bellowed the much awaited words “land ho!”, and much of the crew scrambled towards the ships rail to catch a glimpse of the fabled city. There in the distant fog the ruins of the Sunken City could be seen protruding from the dark waters of the Midnight Sea. But there was also an unexpected sight, that of dark ruins positioned out of the water which made their way inland between two large cliffs that stood near the waters edge on either side. The ruins of Vor Rukoth were massive, much larger than any of the civilizations now known to exist upon Sarsis! Then the still air was pierced by the sudden order to drop anchor, and a large splash soon followed. With a smile Captain Burgoyne appeared from the stern castle and wished the group luck, explaining that his crews voyage ended there. The crew was then given orders to drop the rowboats to water level. Captain Burgoyne thanked the group for performing bravely on the long voyage, but explained that he was unwilling to risk his ship by closing any further towards the dark ruins. It was then that Ridick suddenly appeared from below, apparently excited for the sighting of land. Ridick had been ill for much of the voyage, but now seemed rejuvenated by the prospect of solid soil beneath his feet. Robyn, fully understanding that the captain had no intentions of moving the vessel any closer, prepared to climb down the Raven Queen’s flank (mumbling all the while about his dislike for the looks of the so called Sunken City). The others crowded around, looking down on the small boats below. Each boat seemed so insignificant in the much larger waters of the Midnight Sea. But the group knew that it was only in such rowboats that they would be able to successfully navigate the streets of the old sunken market. Smiling the Captain once again thanked the heroes one final time, when the halfling Cal suddenly leaned towards Burgoyne’s ear and whispered words apparently of a more serious note. It was only then that Captain Burgoyne expression suddenly grew serious, and he began telling the group of an ancient tale of “the beast” of the old market…