Thanks to the letters found in Rowyn’s private chambers, the party knew that Vanthus and one of his lovers, Brissa Santos, were targeting a shipment of valuable items being offloaded by pirates at a place called “Kraken’s Cove”. The only lead they had, the party awoke the morning after the party in their honor, some bleary-eyed and heads pounding, and sought out information on the location of Kraken’s Cove.
As Traxen, the only sailor in the party, had not heard of the place, Othar had the idea to seek information at the Cartographer’s Guild, in the Noble District. After paying an honorarium to the slightly nerdy but ultimately very knowledgeable halfling mistress of the guild, Kiva Willowtop, they discovered that Kraken’s Cove was located on the eastern edge of an area known as the “Bay of Blood”, an area about seventy kilometers east along the cost of the continent. Kiva didn’t know why the area earned that name, only that sailors tended to avoid it. Thanking her, the group set off to question the sailors of the Azure District, who filled them in: the so-called “Bay of Blood” earned its name because it’s a geographical spot that chews up ships. The bay is the only source of fresh water for many, many leagues along the coastline by way of a waterfall that spills into the bay, but the bay itself is fraught with jagged rocks and coral reefs that rip hulls to shreds. Many sailors had lost their lives in that cove, and it was for that quality that it had earned its name.
With a basic idea of where Kraken’s Cove was and an estimate of how long it would take to reach it by rowboat and with a larger, crewed vessel (thanks to Traxen), the party decided to hire a fishing boat to take them to the location.
This task proved harder than it sounded. With the recent murder of Keltar Islaran, the city’s Harbormaster, and the lack of a successor thanks to Keltar’s children being unfit for the job or estranged and his second in command, Soller Vark, being missing, sea trade in the city had temporarily ground to a halt. While it would normally be easy to pay for boarding on a cargo freighter bound for the region, with no cargo going in or out, they were left trying to find a captain mad enough to attempt to brave the Bay of Blood.
After a long day of searching, their hunt payed off in the form of a knob-nosed, cirrhosis-afflicted, red-bearded, stout human by the name of Malcolm Singer, captain of a fishing trawler with a massive mermaid figurehead he affectionately dubbed the Tittyfish. While his fee was high, he would brave the Bay and wait for the party while they conducted their business. Cash up front, of course, as he knew from adventurers, and their bad habit of not coming back from the dangerous places they go. He told the party he’d need a day to hire a crew and that they could leave the following day at low tide.
The following afternoon, as arranged, the party – now including Churtle – boarded Captain Malcolm’s schooner, crewed by a pair of identical twins who were known troublemakers and, to everyone’s surprise, Lienne Tiel, who dryly explained that after losing half her fleet to “dumbfucks who can’t keep track of a boat for half a day”, she was forced to leave It Still Floats! temporarily in the hands of a friend while she took up more lucrative and dangerous work with Captain Malcolm, a long-time friend of her father’s.
The journey began with a small hitch, as the twins Malcolm had hired seemed to take offense to Churtle’s presence on the vessel. This was quickly allayed by Kizziar, Dorian, and Traxen’s rather forceful implication that they would brook no harm coming to Churtle, further backed by their reputation as heroes of the city. Things seemed to ease up as the trip continued, and Churtle made a tasty seafood gumbo for the ship.
In total, the trip took nearly two days. Early in the morning of their second day at sea, they broke from land began to ford the Bay of Blood, seeking Kraken’s Cove. By early afternoon, they found the coastline again, but progressing any further into the bay was beyond the scope of Malcolm’s ability and that of his crew. He moored the ship aground a few miles north of where they believed Kraken’s Cove to be, telling the party that he would wait for them, but that they’d have to walk from here.
Locating a narrow game trail that lead up the beach to the top of the cliffs that overlook most of the bay, the party formed up a line that began a trudge through the dense, steaming jungle towards their goal.
It immediately become apparent that something was wrong. After about a mile’s walk, the group noticed that the sounds of the jungle, normally teeming with life, seemed to halt altogether. They cautiously began to search for signs of life as they continued, but the first thing they found offered no comfort: a large parrot, native to the jungle, lay just off the path, it’s torso ripped open as if from the inside out. Startled, they continued to walk, but the signs became more ominous: a gull torn in half and discarded, a monkey with horns having clawed out its own guts, a look of malice and madness on its dead face, a living snake crawling with tentacles crossing their path and throwing itself off a cliff. Finally, in the distance, the party spied a plume of black smoke rising in the distance, a dark portent of what to expect.
Nature itself seemed to be going insane, the closer to the smoke the party came. Animals tore each other apart, spattered with blood, covered in tentacles, bone spurs protruding from their skin. And it got worse: as the group began to round the final bend to Kraken’s Cove, they were attacked! Monkeys, mad with rage, dropped down from the trees, snapping at them with tiny, needle-like teeth and sharp claws. While they were quickly dispatched, they managed to bite both Traxen and Kizziar, who in spite of Tobin’s best efforts quickly developed a black, itchy rash that wept blood and, to their horror, broke into small, hooked boon spurs beneath the skin. Even worse, when these creatures met their end, they began to sizzle momentarily before simply exploding, leaving a skeleton and a puddle of green, acrid-smelling goo in their place.
Dumbfounded by these events, the group pressed on, finally reaching Kraken’s Cove: a small, sandy bar situated in front of a series of cave entrances set into the cliff face. The source of the black smoke now became apparent. The sea itself was on fire, a slick of grease covering a massive expanse of the bay. Ships burned where they sat in the water, the roaring of flames and crashing of waves covering any sound that may haunt their decks. Even through the smoke, the party could see movement on the beach below. Someone yet lived.