The impromptu band of heroes set out from Clifftop at first light, taking the advice of the town’s elders and heading towards the tower of Wimrick the Sage, who undoubtedly could help them in their search for answers. Wimrick’s tower stood several days’ journey South from Clifftop, in the midst of the lowlands. The party made it there almost without incident, but encountered a fearsome beast in the woods near the tower: a dire bear. A ferocious opponent, the party supposed that it had been driven to such ferocity by the supernatural weather experienced on the coast in recent days. Brynhilde slew the beast after jumping onto its back, and the party arrived at Wimrick’s tower without further incident.
Wimrick was a most hospitable host, and gave the heroes much sagely advice, and gifted them each with an artifact sure to help them in their journey. He advised them to take the ferryboat south to the city of Port Chancer, on the southern coast of Gardania. There they might find the Keepers of the Cerulean sign, an order Wimrick thought might have insight into the odd events of the past week. Wimrick’s invitation for tea is a standing one extended to the intrepid band of heroes, and they were assured that they were always welcome to visit.
In the late afternoon the party left Wimrick’s tower and boarded the ferry to Port Chancer. Unfortunately, a wicked storm was brewing. It reached its height as the heroes were on the river that very night. After a harrowing night keeping the raft afloat, the party managed to disembark before it was swept away in the violent rapids. Sodden and soaked, standing in a torrential thunderstorm, the party headed for their only chance for shelter – the small coastal town of Ashenport.
At Ashenport the party quickly realized that everything was not as it seemed. Folk seemed friendly – and Francis and Brynhilde were suspicious. After a night’s sleep, the party questioned the town mayor and several other citizens – despite a cryptic warning from the Mayor, Alderman Ritter, nothing seemed out of the ordinary – until the following night, when a mournful call from beyond the sea compelled several guards and other visitors to fall into a waking trance, and walk themselves off of the pier into the roiling ocean, to drown. Shaken and confused by this, the heroes investigated further, and discovered evidence of a cult hidden in the town – a cult of what they were unable to discern. The Call again was uttered shortly after noon, and several more innocents found watery graves – but in rescuing some of the walkers, the heroes encountered alien creatures rising from the sea: squamous fish-men covered in shifting scales and slime. They battled the creatures and managed to save several men from drowning, but returned to the inn still perplexed. The elusive cult was yet to be found.
Their break came when they walked in on Peter, the innkeeper, attempting to poison their food with black ichor-like substance. When confronted, Peter told the heroes of a cult gathering in the Gleaming Dawn Church – and more disturbingly, that the whole town was part of it. Rushing to the church, the party found it empty – but Rhovanion found a secret door underneath one of the pews and the heroes descended beneath the church into a stony crypt. There they discovered the cult’s true place of worship. Dread carvings lined all the walls, and pools of black water lent the catacombs a disturbing air. The heroes fought through more fish-men and cultists, including Alderman Ritter and Sharallan, the false priestess of Pelor, before finding the leader of the dread cult – a man who called himself Althanis. He attempted to turn the heroes to the worship of his alien sea-god, but the party slew him, even as he transformed into a maddening mockery of human shape and cursed Rhovanion with dark magicks. With Althanis fallen, the party believed their trials in Ashenport to be done…but that was not the case.
A third Call sounded across the waves, even as the heroes emerged from the cult’s lair. The storm worsened, and more fish-men emerged from the waves to usher the innocents to their watery graves. The party fought them off, and found a trail leading to a cave system, hidden by the high tides. They climbed down the rain-slick cliffs, only to encounter a motley of hideous creatures as they fought tooth and nail through the wet caves. Swarms of sea-creatures given wriggling, clicking unlife chased the heroes deeper into the caves, where they encountered a creature that had no place on this earth. The Gibbering Mouther, an amorphous conglomeration of eyes and toothy mouths, born of some alien realm, dropped amongst them and the heroes battled it, even as it attempted to devour Francis with its many mouths, all the while babbling and cackling in alien tongues. The heroes slew the creature, and fought their way to the central chamber – where they encountered the mastermind of Ashenport’s demise. An Aboleth, a member of an ancient race bent on the enslavement of the surface world – a powerful psionic presence. It lured the party into the deep water, where it fought them fiercely with tentacle, maw, and magic. In the end several of the heroes nearly died that day, but the Aboleth was slain, and in the moment all life faded from it, a final mournful Call came from the sea, but one signaling madness and anger, rather than one of beckoning. The curse on Ashenport was broken. The heroes would have been overjoyed despite their brush with death, but they returned from the caves to a chilling scene: Ashenport was deserted, and there was no trace of the townsfolk save for hundreds of footprints in the mud, leading to the ocean. The sea had taken its price, even as the storm lifted and the sun shone once more. Disheartened but alive, the party left Ashenport behind and continued on their way to Sutherport, where they would catch a ship to Port Chancer and learn some answers.