As sea fog rolled in, the party took a quick look at Devil’s Cove and discovered steep, vertiginous cliffs glowering over a narrow stony beach. While searching for tracks, Johann realised the vegetation in the area was strangely stunted and mis-coloured—in much the same way as the seaweed and weeds choking the ruins of Greystone.
After their initial foray to the cove, the party returned to the village proper and spoke more with the priestess at the Chapel of the Mistress before returning to the Stooped Man for more refreshments. Several of the party engaged some of the regulars in competition. It quickly became evident the regulars fell into two basic camps: the Purho who were uglier and surlier than the more normal-looking Eerola. Speaking with a gnomish local, Addabar Erklen, Johann and Thangrimm learned the two families ran rival smuggling operations and that they had been locked into a feud for generations (although the gnome did not know what started the conflict). The gnome further believed a cult lurked in the village and that it was based in—or perhaps under—Devil’s Cove. Warg seemed particularly keen to start a fight between the Purho and Eerola—to see what would happen—but, sadly, his stirring failed to kick off the barroom brawl he so craved.
With their initial explorations completed the party retired for the night to their draughty, ill-kept rooms. The next morning, the heroes awoke to discover a deep sea fog had crept into the village overnight and blanketed the dismal village. Sounds seemed strangely muted and the streets had an odd, seemingly ethereal feel to them. Several of the heroes set off to Devil’s Cove to see what they could see during the day, but the dense sea fog made further observations tricky. The scouting party decided not to investigate Devil’s Point without their companions, but Johann did notice the discolouration and the sickly look of the grass and gorse bushes growing along the cliffs seemed more pronounced the closer to the bay one got; to the south around the Chapel of the Mistress the vegetation appeared normal as if something was keeping the taint spreading from the bay at bay.
Determined to unlock more of the Coldwater’s mystery, the heroes wandered the village in search of more clues. They spoke with Addabar Erklen again in his apothecary shop and visit’s Holg’s Locker, although the surly owner didn’t seem very keen on making any actual sales. The party also realised there seemed to be more industry in the village than was normal for a settlement of its size. They swiftly came to the conclusion—borne out by further questioning, and observation—that the fishing industry was essentially a front for the various smuggling operations operating in the village. Alice spent a few hours on the harbour breakwater watching the village’s fishing boats come and go; none turned northwards toward Devil’s Cove and the wily elf surmised the “fishermen” were transferring their cargos somewhere far out to sea.
Speaking with the half-orc shipwright Uzlen Itkonen, the party managed to hire a fishing boat and a pilot to guide them to Devil’s Cove so they might explore the place better. The shipwright seemed more talkative than most of the surly villagers and it transpired she’d had some dealing with the Amma and its captain in the past. She warned the heroes not to cross Ambro Kontio lightly and to watch out for several of his crew. She had particularly dire words of warning about Kaija Miekka, who was whispered to be a powerful sea witch, and Otava Himottu who has nicknamed “The Strangler”.
(100 bonus XP for the first player to let me know they read this).
With this information gained the party set sail to Devil’s Cove through the thick sea fog. Luckily, their pilot seemed to know the way and steered them around several submerged rocks that could have ripped the bottom out of their boat. Without major incident, the party arrived at Devil’s Cove perhaps a half-hour later as the tide was receding. Splashing ashore the heroes searched the southern part of the cove and discovered a ruined rowboat.
Turning their attentions to the northern part of the bay, the heroes discovered a section of beach still underwater; beyond the beach stretched away toward Devil’s Point. With daring do, Thangrimm—thinking perhaps the mysterious set of steps said to lie somewhere in the cove could lurk here—stripped off most of his equipment to search the sunken area. Eventually, he discovered a submerged tunnel leading towards the cliffs. Following it downward the brave dwarf discovered a set of flooded steps leading downwards. Returning to his friends he explained what he had found and dive again into the sea’s frigid waters to continue his explorations. Now joined by Warg, Thangrimm further discovered a small chamber at the bottom of the stairs fully 30-foot below the cliffs. A set of stone, probably watertight, double doors set into one wall hinted at a further complex under the cliffs. Neither dwarf—or Alice who also joined in the underwater explorations—could determine how to open the doors, although the elf did discover a faint aura of magic lurking on the doors and at the bottom of a small oval depression in the chamber’s floor.
Warg also discovered a strange circular sigil carved into the doors. This got the party thinking—they had seen this sigil before in Greystone: it was the symbol of Dagon the demon god of deformity, the sea and sea monsters. Suddenly, much of what they had witnessed in Greystone and Coldwater began to make sense!
However, the time they had to ponder this realisation was short-lived for Thagrimm and Veronwe both heard an ominous scratching, or perhaps scrabbling, sound from the cliffs toward Devils’ Cove. Several small rocks clattered down the cliffs from above and as the fog momentarily parted, Johann thought he saw something large, black and monstrous scrabbling along the cliff face…