The Sea Ghost
A few days after their triumphant return from the destruction of the smugglers’ ring at the Haunted House, the party was hastily summoned to an emergency meeting of the Saltmarsh Town Council. Here it is explained to them that, though the land-based operation of the smuggling ring has been quashed, there must be a seagoing vessel by which the contraband was originally conveyed and this is still at large. The City Fathers, fearful that any surviving smugglers may seek to re-establish their operation from some other base, wish to apprehend this vessel and so put an end, once and for all, to the smuggling.
The party was asked to undertake this task and, as an inducement, they offered a reward of 500 gp is offered to each member of the party for the successful conclusion of the mission (they may of course keep whatever other loot they find).
It is reasoned by the Council that the surviving smugglers on the vessel will, as yet, be unaware of the death of their land based colleagues, and a return visit by them with a further cargo of contraband may well be expected. As the last consignment was off-loaded only a short while ago, the next is not reasonably to be expected for some time, probably during the next ‘dark of the moon’ which begins in about two weeks time. The Council will arrange for two local men from a part-time corps of ‘excise officers’ to patrol the potential rendezvous points each night for the next two weeks in case the smugglers return earlier than expected. However, their resources are slight and the Council is unwilling to risk the lives of volunteers by ordering
them to take the ship and its crew by force — they anticipate the smugglers would put up a fight to protect themselves and their cargo, and could easily overpower a couple of local men.
The proposal is therefore that the excise men will undertake a patrol each night but that as soon as an approaching vessel is spotted, the party should perform the actual task of boarding, the excise men going with them for added support.
Sure enough, the next new moon saw the adventures and two excise officers – Will and Tom Stoutly – rowing out into the bay beyond the dark shape of a 90’ ship to approach it from the far side.
While the smugglers continued to signal their missing compatriots, the silent form of Ravaaga Silentread.scaled the anchor chain and tied and threw down a couple of ropes down to the others. A sleep spell from Gahana Trannyth soon silenced the three smugglers.
What followed was an assault on the poop deck as the characters and two Stoutly brothers opened up with missile weapons and closed in for hand-to-hand combat, where their superior numbers finally took their toll.
Little did the party know that the sound of the fighting was heard by the spotter in the crows nest and another smuggler on the forecastle. The latter managed to sneak belowdecks and raise the alarm. Fortunately, the team had time for a healing spell and reorganisation before the rest of the smugglers and their lizard man passengers.
The adventures found two new friends as they secured the boat. Damonel Blackroot bonded with the lizard men’s pet pseudodragon.
Hidden in a secret cell, the adventurers also found an aquatic elf figher-theif named Oceanus chained to the bulkhead. He was weak and spoke only elvish, but Ravaaga and Damonel soon found out his story.
They discovered that he was a member of Manaan tribe, who inhabit the coastal waters about 15 miles southwest of Saltmarsh. His tribe had noted, from a distance, the periodic arrival of the Sea Ghost at night at a supposedly deserted, coastal area. Suspicious of this mysterious behaviour, the tribal chief detailed Oceanus to follow the ship back to her port of origin and to discover what he could of these strange proceedings. This Oceanus did, and at the vessel’s home port witnessed the purchase and stowing aboard
of a large amount of weaponry.
The same night, Oceanus slipped aboard the ship to investigate things further, but he was no sooner on deck than he was surprised and stunned, to awaken some time later chained to
the very spot they found him.
The party also found stashes of a large number of weapons and other evidence of their smuggling operation. But to whom were they selling the weapons, and were they a threat to the people of Saltmarsh.