The party left the harbor store and were led down the docks by Miran to the rescue ship Meriweather. Once on board they were introduced to Captain Morus Pikesear, who told them he was a no-nonsense captain who expected loyalty and obedience from the outsiders in order to complete the mission. When Dr. Nigel interrupted to ask where to put all of his things, Pikesear became agitated at his presence and wondered aloud why the doctor had to come along, saying that he did not appreciate having untrained men on his ship. He then introduced the party to his crew: XO Anita Downey, engineer Pip Wentz, anthropologist Ellum Feltongar, doctor Quin Lovelrunn, pilot Adran Penniwiir, and mechanic Kassel Ritt. Pikesear informed them that their mission first and foremost was to rescue the original crew of the Phantom Limit, and after that to investigate what happened and where the ship had been. Making their mission more difficult was the fact that ship was idling in the middle of a vicious ice storm, meaning outside temperatures and high velocity winds could be quickly fatal to anyone left exposed in the elements. He also provided them with a hastily drawn map of the ship and brief dossiers of the old crew. Once the briefing was over Miran told the group that she would return to Waterdeep to get started on their requests for information, said her goodbyes, and the Meriweather departed.
With seven days journey ahead of them, the group spent the first few days of travel getting to know the other people on the ship. Linny sought out the halfling engineer Pip and learned he was the youngest and newest member of the crew, having replaced the last engineer who died on a recent mission that Pikesear never talks about. She also spoke to the dwarf doctor Quin, whom she discovered had also lost a child and had gone into medicine to help save people. Osborne decided to learn more about the crew by breaking into their rooms instead of speaking to anyone, while Medivh spent more time with Dr. Nigel and learned that he had had a wife who died of an illness years ago. Gaius visited with Captain Pikesear and expressed concerns over Dr. Nigel’s true motives, declaring that he would not hesitate to subdue the doctor if he did anything to favor his ship over the crew and put the mission at risk.
On the third day, Gaius was sitting in the crow’s nest above deck and spotted some debris and a raft in the distance. Pikesear ordered the ship to steer toward it, and when they arrived they found four weak men hanging onto planks of wood floating in the water. The crew brought them aboard and the men said they had been aboard a merchant ship when it was attacked and destroyed by some kind of sea monster. Linny attempted to press them harder for information but the most talkative man named Liam asked for food and water before he could speak again. Later in the galley, Liam tried asking the group what they were doing out in the ocean and what their mission was. They kept their answers general, and why they talked Gaius offered to get Liam a refill on soup but actually slipped in half of his Philter of Love vial. The shipwrecked man became charmed upon eating, and revealed to Gaius that their ship had actually been destroyed a year ago, not days like they had said before, and they had spent that year under the water. When that information was revealed Liam’s three friends shapeshifted into deep scions and were quickly webbed in place by Medivh. Seeing his friends attacked broke the charm spell on Liam, who also transformed and joined the battle.
The party eliminated Liam and two of the others, who all transformed back into their human forms upon dying, and left the last monster—who had fallen on his face into the web and been unable to move for the entire fight—alive for questioning. Linny cast Zone of Truth and the creature revealed that they were spies for a kraken and were investigating the ship simply because they saw it, not because they were specifically targeting the Meriweather. Captain Pikesear came into the galley and said it would put their mission in danger if this creature was allowed to escape, so he ordered the group to “take care of it” and left. Osborne finished the monster off with five thrown daggers, and the party stored the body in the kitchen freezer.
Two days later, Medivh noticed another ship in the distance moving toward the Meriweather. When it drew closer, it raised a flag that the wizard recognized — the pirate flag of Captain Söze. Knowing Söze’s brutality from their last dream sequence, Linny used a Sending spell to communicate with Ye’Kan across planes. The disembodied voice of the bard told her to somehow communicate to the pirates that they know him, because Söze would likely not kill friends of his friends. Just then they noticed the cannons on the pirate ship raise and aim in their direction. Medivh decided to take off and fly toward the ship while Linny jumped on his back and cast Prestidigitation the whole way, shooting fireworks into the sky in the shape of Ye’Kan’s pirate tattoo. Back on the Meriweather, Gaius fetched Dr. Nigel to see if the inventor could come up with anything on the spot that could allow him to communicate with the pirate ship. As Medivh and Linny got closer, the mage in the crow’s nest cast Counterspell to turn off Medivh’s flight and the pair fell into the water. As Gaius tried to shout “parlay” using Nigel’s telescope-turned-vuvuzela, the pirates threw down a rope and pulled the wizard and the cleric up onto their deck and immediately surrounded them with their weapons drawn. Linny asked to see the captain and when Söze appeared, she insisted that they knew his friend Ye’Kan and were not hostile. Still fond of his former bard, Söze said he would allow them to go free just this once but promised he was not a man who gave second chances. The adventurers returned to the Meriweather, having narrowly avoided a potential barrage of cannon fire.
With now just two days remaining until they reached the Phantom Limit, the party was jolted the next morning by some kind of force colliding with the bottom of the ship. Looking overboard and only seeing a dark cloud of black ink, they instantly began to worry if they were about to encounter the kraken the deep scions had told them about. Two purple tentacles attached to each side of the ship and when the group went to attack, one of them grabbed Osborne and pulled him down into the water. Able to breath underwater because of her newly purchased necklace, Linny jumped in after him while Medivh flew into the air for a better view and Gaius prepared the ship’s cannon. Linny freed Osborne with a Water Walk spell and their foes were revealed to be giant octopi. The two of them managed to jump out of the water and cling to the ship just as Medivh hit the beasts with an electric Chromatic Orb, frying one of the octopi to death. Gaius then fired the cannon and hit the second, killing it an explosion of guts and tentacles. The group held a brief dance party on the water in celebration and collected pieces of the beasts to use for calamari dinner later that evening.
Finally, after their treacherous week on the sea, the Meriweather sailed within view of the Phantom Limit. The temperature dropped and the winds increased dramatically as the rescue ship plowed through ice to pull up alongside the ill-fated vessel that was at least twenty times larger than them. They extended the airlock and left the Meriweather, entering the Phantom Limit on the bottom deck in a large hallway. The ship was completely silent and still. Dr. Nigel looked around with wonder and admiration of his own creation while Captain Pikesear ordered the entire group to go to the Navigation Deck to investigate. There Linny spied a book peeking out from under a desk, and when she went to pull it out she found that it was attached to a severed arm. The book was the captain’s log and the arm belonged to the body of the original captain of the Phantom Limit, which was also under the desk. The body was missing its eyes and its tongue. The log consisted of the first ten entries of the ship’s original journey and ended with the captain saying that the next day they were finally going to activate the Conjuration Core. That entry was followed by many blank pages, and near the back of the book there was one page marked with a series of lines and dots that the party could not make sense of. Pikesear ordered the party to accompany him, Dr. Nigel, and Pip to the Core for further investigation while the rest of his crew remain in the Nav Deck to see what they could find out.
At the Core, Dr. Nigel explained that the device needed a code in order to operate, a code that only the original captain would have had. Finding no evidence that any codes had been entered recently, the party wondered how the ship had finally reappeared after seven years. Dr. Nigel and Pip investigated the Core itself and found no signs of damage or tampering, so the mystery only deepened. Seeing nothing else in the room, Pikesear said they should head to the crew quarters next to continue looking for survivors. As they were about to leave the room, however, a bright light suddenly filled the chambers and mechanical whirring began as the Core started to activate. Looking back, the group saw Pip standing directly in front of the device staring up into it. Before they could move, the Core sent out a huge shockwave of energy that sent the party flying backwards into the wall. After just a few seconds everything was calm again, but when they regained their bearings they saw that Pip was now gone.
Captain Pikesear got up and ran around the Core, frantically yelling Pip’s name and searching for his engineer. Dr. Nigel looked both concerned and marveled by the Core somehow activating on its own, and was unable to explain what he just saw. Linny tried using her Stone of Farspeech but found that all of the Stones were inactive. With Pip nowhere to be found, the group agreed that they should hurry back to the Navigation Deck and check on the rest of the crew. As the reached the door, however, it happened again — the bright light, the mechanical whirring from the Core, and the shockwave of energy. They were again thrown back against the wall, but this time when got their bearings, they saw Pip was back and laying prone on the ground, breathing but completely unresponsive to stimuli or healing spells. The Stones of Farspeech were also active again, with XO Downey asking what had happened. Pikesear ordered her and Lovelrunn to meet everyone in the med bay so they could work on saving Pip.
They arrived at the same time as the XO and the doctor and began trying to treat the halfling engineer. Gaius tried pleading with Pikesear to get back on the Meriweather and leave, but the captain said both that the Phantom Limit’s medical facilities were far more advanced and that their rescue mission was not over. Further complicating matters, the pilot Penniwiir chimed in on the Stones and said that the two shockwaves had badly damaged the Meriweather and that the rescue ship was beginning to take on water. Pikesear ordered the pilot and the mechanic Ritt to go and fix it immediately just as everyone began notice that the room was getting colder and they could see their breath. Dr. Nigel realized that the ship’s ventilation and heating system must have been knocked offline by the Core’s shockwaves.
Looking at the ship’s blueprints, Nigel and Pikesear said that someone would have to crawl through the vents to reactive it, but that the vents were quite small. Pikesear said that normally such a task would be assigned to Pip, but since the halfling was out of commission he turned to Linny and asked her to go in his place. The gnome was visibly afraid but agreed to go. Pikesear said he would send Dr. Nigel with her to talk her through the process over the Stones and another party member with them for protection. At the same time, he and the remaining two party members would go to the Core for further investigation and to protect the ship in case anything went wrong again. Gaius volunteered to go with Linny and Nigel because he did not want to let the doctor out of his sights, leaving Medivh and Osborne to accompany the captain. With their roles assigned, the two teams prepared to leave the med bay to keep the ship operational and allow their rescue mission to continue.