Chaff (Vivimancer 1), with henchman/carrier Conch (Calmonari 1),
Gormus (Thief/Specialist 1), with henchman Villius Paticus (Cleric1)
Azimer (Calmonari 1)
Karthik (Fighter 1)
In the wee hours of the next morning, a storm battered ship limped into the ring of islets and hove to the "Serpents Revenge". She was the "Western Witch", and was returning from an unsuccessful voyage of exploration to the east, in which nothing was met but foul weather and ship damage. She was headed back to Xin for repair and refit, so Thorgrim (seeing how quickly his exploration team was losing members) arranged to transship the adventurers from the "Western Witch" to the "Serpents Revenge". Just in case he needed a few more helping hands to haul treasure.
Thinking this new linguistic talent might allow the to talk to the shell men, the party slogged east to the chamber where they'd first encountered them. The room was now empty, and the water continued to rise around their legs. Hoping the tide lines on the walls were accurate and the water wold only rise a few feet, they decided to push further on. They passed though another flooded chamber with a floor thick with seaweed, and thence down a narrow slopped passage to yet another chamber. This one was occupied by two shell men fussing with a series of small round shells on the south wall. The pair turned to face the party. They made no overt hostile moves, but their hands moved to the crude clubs they carried in their seaweed harness. Karthik tried to speak to them in the alien language, while Azimer and Conch sent good vibrations. The two, however, did not respond to the fighter's words and generally stayed uncommunicative and defensive. Noting an exit on the other side of the chamber, the party carefully and gently bypassed the shell men and headed that way. The now thigh-deep water rushed pass them as they headed down a winding passage that eventually ended at another chasm. The water pouring over the edge obscured their view, but Azimer stuck her head under the water and using her bio-luminescent vision could see the chasm dropped just 30' into a chamber below. Azimer and Conch decided to dive down and explore, while Villius and Karthik stood guard at the top. Gormus, suspicious of the shell men, lit his pistol's match cord and went back up the tunnel to watch them.
While Azimer and Conch continued to explore below, Villius went to fetch Gormus and the pair pulled the bodies back towards the dry caves for thorough examination, leaving Karthik and Chaff to stand watch for the calmonari. They ignored (and were ignored by) the two shell men tending the wall, but encountered a single shell man in the eating chamber. Itching to see if the shell men, like the urchins, had pearls in their bellies, Gormus fired his pistol at the creature. It went down in a welter of blood and smoke and noise. He and Villus grabbed that body too, and hauled all four over to the sandy floored star-cave for examination. Alas, evisceration of the shell man did not uncover any pearls, but Gormus did find a small leather bag on the dwarf with a handful of gems and electrum coins.
Meanwhile, Azimer and Conch finished their exploration and rejoined Karthik and Chaff. Just in time to hear the boom of gunfire. Assuming their companions needed help, they pushed back along the passages and caves. Reaching the shell man eating chamber, they now found 8 of the creatures (one much larger than the others) milling about in the water, searching the chamber. These warily faced off against the party. Suddenly, two of the shell men searching in one corner of the chamber began waving and pointing and making complicated arm gestures at the rest. They'd found a trace of blood, and were not happy. The shell men raised their stone and wood weapons and moved to attack the party. Missile weapons flew at the shell men, Chaff dropped a spore cloud in their midst, and Azimer tried to catch some in her net. This took out half of the creatures (including the big leader), but for once they were mad and the rest waded forward to attack. A little melee ensued, and another shell man dropped. The last three now turned to flee towards the entry cave. Pursued by Karthik, Chaff/Conch and Azimer, the little creatures ran right into Gormus and Villius, who'd started marching towards the sounds of battle. Trapped between the two parties, the trio of shell men fought viciously, taking down Gormus before being wiped out themselves. Gormus was able to keep death at bay however, and with a little first aid was able to at least stand and limp along.
With the of the caves interconnections finally figured out, the party went back to the beach (after making a side trip to recover Fiona's body and gear) and called back the jolly boat to haul Gormus back to the "Serpents Revenge". They then went back to the shaft/boulder cave to wait for the tide to drop far enough to safely enter the flooding caves below. This took some hours, and they has to fight two wandering shell men while they were waiting. Eventually though, the two calmonari descended the shaft and reported the water level had dropped enough to proceed, so everyone headed down below. They briefly explored the flooded cavern and confirmed it connected with the two chasms (and Azimer fell into a hidden hole under the seaweed layer). They then formed up and headed up the narrow slope into the dry treasure caves. Reaching the skulls, they methodically smashed them all on the ground to make sure none were left to animate behind them. Inside one, Villius discovered a star shaped piece of jade. Moving on now to the first chamber, the party set up a blocking position and then elected the new guy, Karthik, to go forward and rouse the skeletons in the treasure room, and lead them back into the killing zone.
8 skeletons, 9 limpet men and 5 grinding skulls destroyed
535gp, 46ep and 2sp
11 gems (6x10gp, 3x50gp, 2x100gp)
Jade star (100gp)
Gold and jet sword hilt (no blade) [600gp]; a cutlass with a silver and gold mermaid hilt [500gp]
Scroll of Ward Against Magic;
Clerical Scroll - 1)Purify Food and Water, 2)Delay Poison, 2) Hold Person, 2) Bless, 2) Reveal Charm, 2) Spiritual Weapon, 2) Speak with Animal.
Karthik the Fighting Man