Chapter 24: Hell and High Water
At the start of this chapter, the adventurers are aboard the Captain Morgan, trying to return Dinarzade, the storytelling daughter of a Sidronian Sultan, to her homeland. The ship is tacking wildly off the Kessel Straits with a broken rudder, chased by one of the pirate galleys belonging to the Mad Wizard Al Hazared. In a morning squall, the party manages to evade Al Hazared’s ships, but decides to abandon the attempt to sail through the Kessel chokepoint and instead repair the ship in the inlets along the coast of he island of Thermanae and then sail through the dangerous Hellspout in an attempt to lose Hazared’s fleet.
After resting and repairing the rudder of the Captain Morgan, the rigger, Mr Greensea, reports a sighting of a scuttled ship along the beaches of Thermanae not far from where the Morgan is anchored, with it’s cargo apparently stacked neatly near the wreck. The party decides to search the ship for useful items and proceeds to the beach in a ship’s launch with the Morgan’s bosun Miss Teeg and the carpenter, Teng. Arriving at the wreck of the Arms Akimbo, they spot no survivors and set about recovering a ballista from the ship to add to the Morgan. Shortly after exploring the beach however, a commotion is heard from the woods along the shoreline, and soon a party of sailors emerges running from the woods, chased by a pair of Cyclops. The party manages to kill the dangerous one-eyed giants, and the survivors of Akimbo join the Morgan offering gifts, aware of the dangers of the Hellspout but happy to leave Thermanae behind.
As the Morgan leaves the safety of the inlets and heads into the open coast, Al Hazared’s ships emerge also and give chase, setting up a pincer maneuver with the Morgan in the middle. One of Hazared’s ships blocks the path to the Hellspout, but rather than risk turning and being caught by all ships, the party disables the blocking ship (which turns out to be an illusion) and proceeds towards the Hellspout. The Morgan then rams into an invisible wall of force which knocks some of the crew off of the rigging and breaks the bowsprit of the vessel.
Meanwhile, a dark robed figure on a flying carpet emerges from conjured fog and harasses the ship, summoning abyssal creatures to attack the crew. The party manages to knock the figure off of the carpet into the water where it is dispatched by a summoned sea-cat, but the carpet heads back to Hazared’s other ships. Clinton gives chase in the form of a giant bat, but is attacked by summoned creatures and an invisible stalker. Dangerously weakened as he nears the flying carpet, Clinton is hit by magic missiles from the now-visible occupant of the carpet, Al Hazared himself (the other figure being a decoy). Clinton avoids death by diving into the water and rejoining the Morgan.
As the Captain Morgan nears the Hellspout, it becomes clear that Hazared’s ships will catch them first. However, Radcliffe uses Telekenesis to move the tiller of one of the boats, slowing it down long enough for the Morgan to enter the Hellspout as Hazared’s ships break off.
Inside the stormy seas of the Hellspout all grows dark, as the ship tries to skirt the spout along the coast of the island, a ghostly, glowing ship appears from the darkness. The ghastly crew of the Abomina, including the spectral Captain Deathrattle, overtake the ship as a host of undead creatures both physical and incorporeal board and attack the crew. Father Pat and Peloquin manage to turn away most of the weaker undead, but the remaining Wraiths and Captain Deathrattle press their unholy attack, seriously draining Father Pat’s life force in the process. The spectral captain is eventually dispatched and the ship disappears as the storm calms.
At this point, the sea begins to lower and the Morgan becomes stuck upon the shoals near the coast, as a monstrous Drowning Devil emerges from the ocean. The devil taunts the party telepathically as it protects its gateway to Hell, knocking crew overboard and summoning water in Radcliffe’s lungs (who luckily is in possession of a necklace of water breathing). With the help of the Silver Spear, the party is able to dispatch the devil which explodes in a foul watery mass of goo.
The Morgan, now free to continue sailing, emerges from the Hellspout with no sign of Al Hazared’s ships and relatively little loss of life. The ship continues the two week journey across relatively safe seas to Sidron to reunite Dinarzade with her father, repairing the ship along the way.
As the ship pulls into the port of Sidron, Dinarzade expresses her gratitude and has the crew of the ship rewarded, while promising to have Father Pat restored to full vitality. Realizing their path home will either involve teleportation or overland travel across an ithsmus, the party bids fairwell to the crew of the Captain Morgan.
Before taking their leave however, Miss Teeg passes along information that she has learned from her Dominion contacts. Apparently, there is a large Dominion invasion force headed for the party’s homeland for some reason.
The next day, the party is summoned to a dinner hosted by the Sultan, in thanks for returning his daughter. As the celebration progresses with dancers, jugglers, and singers, a court magician appears and offers paltry tricks which fail to impress the seasoned party. However, as he progresses, one of Dinarzade’s necklaces begins to glow, and she soon discards it as it bursts into flames. Simultaneously, the court magician morphs into Al Hazared, and a cloud of yellow smoke emerges and chokes the Sultan and other courtesans to death. As the celebrators attempt to flee and realize they are trapped in the hall, Porkins uses his ring of return to teleport outside, where Al Hazared’s assassins block the door. Inside, a fiery Efreet emerges from Dinarzades discarded necklace, preparing to attack under Al Hazared’s direction.