After several days at sea, Soul of Winter comes in sight of the looming, shattered hulk of the derelict Emperor of the Waves. Wolgar Windrune brings Soul of Winter within 500 feet of the derelict along its starboard side, close enough to make out its major external features. Its masts have been shorn off, but the upper deck appears clear of debris, as if whatever hit the ship was strong enough to carry off the masts, sails, and rigging. Its figurehead, once a majestic angel in flight, has been hacked and disfigured.
Captain Wolgar and the sailors aboard Soul of Winter express amazement that the Emperor is still afloat. Gaarz notes that the ship has suffered heavy damage across its upper decks, consistent with the effect of a typhoon or tidal wave. The vessel lists noticeably to port, evidence that the Emperor’s ballast has shifted, though the incline doesn’t appear severe enough to make moving around on deck hazardous. The ship rides low in the water, implying that the bilge and possibly even the lowest deck are flooded. The captain also makes it clear that he suspects the ship is likely to sink during the ten days it would take to tow it back to port.
Not all of the ship’s visible damage is due to time and weather. Gaarz spots impact damage to the ship’s hull that indicates it recently came under attack from a seagoing creature.
The captain orders two sailors to ferry the characters to the Emperor in a rowboat. The sailors bring ropes and grappling hooks to give the characters easy access to the main deck. There are no portholes or large openings in the hull of the ship, making the main deck or quarterdeck the only way inside.
Soul of Winter comes no closer than 500 feet to the derelict. After taking the characters up to the ship, the sailors move 200 feet away from the Emperor and hold their position, waiting for the characters to reappear on the upper deck with the treasure from below.
Much of the ship is filled with sheets of webbing and the party fights swarms of spiders, ettercaps, giant wolf spiders, and phase spiders.
Roughly in the middle of the ship they encounter a half-orc named Krell Grohlg worshipping at a shrine.
During their search they discover a water-logged page of the captain’s log. The log details the ship’s last voyage, including an account of the terrible storm that threw Emperor of the Waves off course and separated it from its escort. Running low on food and drinkable water, the ship was forced to drop anchor off an uncharted island. The last entry describes an attack by orcs that fought alongside goblins and monstrous vermin. Though the crew fended off this initial attack, they suffered heavy casualties. The final entry records the captain’s fear that this attack might have been the precursor to an even larger assault.