The mysterious ship is boarded, and there is no living crew left aboard. They do find the remains of Captain Orlando of the Sea Maiden, worthy vessel of the Merchant Alliance. And they pick up his battered and sea ravaged journal in which Aoust makes out some details of a voyage cursed with madness and a tragic end to Orlando’s crew… locked in the hold to die slowly. Deux, Aoust, and Silaka decide not to open the hold.
Back aboard, Huxley and the Albers let the ship drift away. But trouble is not gone for long. In the night the fog thickens, and a ship propelled on black sails clips by and those on deck are ambushed by a half dozen half-rotted undead sailors. They are dispatched with some difficulty, two crewmembers are slain. One of the crew is injured badly and is barely alive. His wounds look infected and he does not respond to any healing. And the bodies of the two fallen crew have disappeared. A watch is set, and everyone is on edge from the moans of the dying man. Selene begins pacing the deck and talking to herself, clearly distraught, saying “He will return!”
Deux asks a few questions of Vincenz who reveals vague legends of an angry-mad sea god and his fleet of black sailed ships, crewed by undead “scourges.” He seems uneasy about being locked up below deck with the infected crewmember. Then a clamor breaks out on deck and the crew, especially Ox, seems ready to string up Huxley. Ox had apparently found the captain’s glass eye in Huxley’s possession. In a very tense moment Aoust, Silaka, and Deux make a case for leaving Huxley to live at least until he can be properly tried on shore. Morale is low, and anarchy or mutiny are but a hair’s breadth away.
Just before dawn the fog thins out, revealing the black silhouette of the cursed ship sailing fast on unfelt winds. The Albers is rammed before it can maneuver out of the way, and the two ships become locked as their rigging and rails enmeshed. Silaka is thrown overboard with the impact. Undead scourges leap aboard tearing into the crew with vigor. Two of the scourges look very like the two fallen sailors who only recently were slain. The crew of the Albers is poorly organized, each man fighting for himself and none heeding Huxley’s barked commands.
Deux and Aoust enter the fray. Aoust discovers that undead creatures have no vital organs – to his dismay. He is left hacking somewhat ineffectually with his kukri. Deux dispatches several scourges rather quickly with her fire magic, but she is out-matched when it comes to melee. Silaka climbs up the rigging and sees that the two ships have begun to dip and are carried in a maelstrom. The dark ship is dragging them down. As she swings over onto the foredeck several more scourges intercept her, and to everyone’s surprise Captain Fenn, looking pale and menacing, is commanding them from the deck of the dark ship!
Selene goes mad at this point and begins attacking her own crew, crying out to Fenn that she is coming to him. Silaka will have none of it and hits her off the foredeck with her quarterstaff. Deux delivers two mighty shocks to the former Captain via her owl familiar, and it looks like he is dispatched; the scourges are all stunned for a moment. A scream below deck tells them what they had suspected would happen, the dying sailor has become a scourge and begun attacking the crew still below. Fenn is not down, however, and he boards the Albers and orders three of his scourges to converge upon Huxley. Ox is killed by a scourge, and Fenn kills Huxley and then turns his undead wrath upon Aoust, who is injured and then done in by a crushing blow to the skull, a scourge from behind. Old Pete fires a heavy crossbow into the scourge, but it is too late for Aoust.
Deux and Silaka manage to finish off Fenn and the remaining scourges. The few crewmembers alive scramble to hack apart the two ships as they are still being dragged down into the maelstrom. Deux goes below and finds that Vincenz has escaped and gone into the hold. He is climbing out as she descends with a vile of purple worm’s stomach acid. “Eats through anything,” he informs her. They employ it on the rigging and watch as the dark ship breaks free and swirls to its otherworldly grave… the plaque inscribed, “Sea Maiden” just discernible on its side.