83. If you’d just like to take your seat sir

The party head south, around the balcony and out of the smoke, searching the floor for any sign of a trail. They pass an open doorway on their left, the large room beyond filled with tables and chairs, some sort of feasting room it appears. The tables are covered with vases, glasses and cutlery and some have piles of what was presumably once food. There are only two occupants, the first is a skeleton sat at one of the tables and the other is a golem, its androgynous face an identical match for the medical golem, though this one is coloured black with a thick white stripe down its chest.
Gordon points to a smear of blood on the floor by the nearest table, it is heading south east. The golem takes a moment to notice the party, before stepping forward, bowing to them and then launching into a stream of friendly, though incomprehensible, gibberish.
It walks up to Kradorn and takes him firmly (very firmly) by the arm, talking all the time in its own cheerful tone. It takes two steps away from Kradorn before realising he isn’t coming with it and then pulls him along with its considerable (18/50) strength towards the table with the skeleton and its plates of moldy and rotten food.

Talo, keeping watch behind the party, thinks he sees a figure step out onto the balcony beyond the drop-chute opening, though it’s hard to tell amid all the smoke. Two silver spider things scuttle past the figure in the second or two that Talo glimpses them. Both of these spider things clamber over the edge of the balcony and one seems to float off into the smoke. Talo thinks he’s seen the metal spiders before, in the workshop of the mindflayers.

Talo sidles up next to Kradorn and Gildor, “We are being followed, gents.” The dwarf explains what it is he saw. “I say you circle back on this fella and give him a surprise.” He says with a nod to Gildor, “We cannot afford enemies behind us in this place. Kradorn, maybe you can hide out of sight and we heavies can sit as bait.” The dwarf suggests with a raise of his brows and a slight smile.

Kradorn follows the golem cautiously. Prepared to defend himself, not entirely trusting the golem, given the skeleton.

“I hope this servant isn’t planning on keeping us here against our wills. I think the trail heads southeast from the look of the blood stains”, Gildor says.
“Whoa.” Gildor lowers his voice, “Talo, Someone is following us? Let’s make sure Kradorn is ok and can get loose and we can set up the plan to circle back on this spy.
Gordon cast comprehend languages and see what this beastie wants with Kradorn. I’m low in magic or I would do it myself.” Gildor searches the skeleton and the room for the card or other gadgets they might be able to use.

The golem pulls Kradorn over to a chair on the same table as the skeleton and sits him down on it. Then it takes a spoonful of the mouldy food from one of the plate and tries to force it into Kradorn’s mouth. Kradorn bats away the spoon but it is clear what the golem intends. It also begins shouting at Kradorn and Gordon’s ‘Comprehend Languages’ reveals it to be a stream of foul mouthed invective.
Gildor searches the skeleton but finds nothing and turning to search the rest of the room, he spots another golem coming out of a doorway in the far south-east corner. It’s dressed in a dirty white coat with a tall white hat, it’s armed with a knife and a hatchet and it looks like it’s coming help its companion.

Gildor says, “Let’s leave this place and head south-east.” Gildor helps Kradorn get free if needed so they can all run to the south-east and follow the “We don’t need to fight and only if it’s absolutely necessary to save our skins” If a fight is inevitable, Gildor uses buckler and sword and works to fight in a flank or rear attacking position, letting Cynan and Kradorn draw the frontal assaults. Gildor will back-stab when possible.

The black golem is fast and before Kradorn can get away he gets a mouthful of the foul, bitter stuff but manages to spit it all out. His mouth stings and tingles afterwards though.
Gildor meanwhile is hit by the other golem’s kitchen knife, as it’s hurled across the room at him. The white robed golem charges at the elf, cleaver raised as it comes.
Kradorn Jams his sword into the black golem’s guts and drives it back before bringing his sword down on it, it parries with its arm and the sword just glances off the metal under the black, cartilage-like skin.
By this time however Gordon and Cynan have arrived to help and Gordon’s axe and Cynan’s glowing sword hack the golem down into a twitching, sparking ruin.
Talo, unable to get into the fight, moves around to help Gildor and shouts at the other dwarves to do likewise.
The golem runs with inhuman speed between the tables and Gildor, somewhat surprised, stumbles backwards to escape. The cleaver hisses into Gildor’s small shield and almost splits it in two, numbing the elf’s arm.
It hacks at Gildor again as he tries to stand and this time the cleaver bites into his arm. Gildor’s sword impales the golem’s chest but it seems oddly hollow and comes out clean. By this time Talo and the dwarves have arrived and Talo’s axe bites into the golem’s side.
The golem ignores the wound and hacks at Gildor again catching the elf across the shoulder and cracking his collar bone before he manages to roll away across a table and into a heap on the floor.
Talo’s axe hits again, leaving the gaping hollow interior of the golem’s chest exposed. Munin hits too, his axe cracking the horrible animated device’s spine and bringing it clattering to the ground frozen in mid-stride.
For a moment there is silence, broken by a distant whooshing or hissing noise and then the clatter of a pot or pan from the doorway in the south-eastern corner of the banqueting hall.

Groggy and a bit woozy, Gildor gets to a sitting position fumbles in his backpack and gets a potion out and drinks a third of it down. He whispers to Kradorn “You OK Friend. That didn’t look too tasty.” Nodding in the direction of the commotion, “Might be more of the robots or our spy possibly back there making a racket.” Once healed a bit he takes stock of his health and takes another swig if needed.
He saves enough potion to have the healing machine golems try to replicate it for them. They’re going to need it to survive this place. If there are no other golems or dangers lurking, Gildor finishes searching the place for any card like Gordon has, of any kind of colour. If he finds enough he shares them out with the main group. Talo can coordinate for the other dwarfs. Depending on what Kradorn finds in the back area commotion Gildor says, “Let’s follow the blood trail to the south-east once we are ready folks. I don’t think this food is worth eating.”
Gildor looks at Talo, “Can you heal the others my friend?”

Even after drinking two-thirds of the healing potion Gildor isn’t able to do much more than stagger up onto his feet, still seriously wounded. He looks about for any sign of a card and finds two in the various jackets and bags hanging from hooks in one corner of the dimly lit room, a black and a purple card.

Kradorn stands in the opening looking in the direction of the noise. Guarding his friends for the moment as they recover.
“I am good my friend. How are you? What should we do?” Kradorn replies.

Beyond the opening is what surely must be a kitchen, judging by the number and size of the knives, ladles, stacks of crockery, goblets, cutlery, pots and pans. A long steel table runs down the centre of the room and the fighter can barely make out a dark wet streak (almost certainly blood) running along the floor and going around behind the table.

Talo hustles to Gildor’s side, “Sit lad,” is all he says as he helps the elf into a resting position. The dwarf begins patching him as best he can. Over his shoulder he yells, “Munin, please form up the dwarves! This lad is in bad shape and we cannot afford his loss!” Given time, Talo looks around for where Kalam may have been dragged.

Spotting the bloody trail, Talo nods in the direction of the corner, “This may be a good lead. Let’s take a look. Gildor, try and keep the dwarves around you.”

Gildor winces as he sits up and slowly gets to his feet with Talo’s help, “Thank you kind sir. That golem got the best of me. If I fall in battle, get the rest of this potion to the medical bay and try and get them to make more of it if possible. We cannot survive without healing help of some kind. Let’s find Kalam quickly and get back to the med lab to heal up. If we don’t find him soon we may have to give up the hope we may find him to save ourselves. We are all in bad shape here. Any more suprises like that and we won’t make it to find the King.”
Gildor takes the cards he found.

Kradorn and Gordon advance into the kitchen and begin to move around the big table in the centre of the room followed cautiously by Cynan and Talo. Immediately a displacer beast leaps up onto the table and lashes out at Gordon, sending him crashing into a pile of pots and pans.
Kradorn reacts before the beast can turn on him and plunges his sword through the things neck and spine. It gives a snarl and drops lifeless onto the table.
Talo rushes to Gordon’s aid and can see the gnome is seriously wounded, though still conscious.
Kradorn heads around the other side of the table and finds kalam’s body laying where the displacer beast had dragged it. There is no sign of life but he is relatively intact.

Talo is in a flurry of activity trying to stem the bleeding from the heavy wounds Gordon has sustained. Holding a bandage in his teeth he motions for Gomgol to hold the wrap in place while he ties off the stitch he just sewed into Gordon’s side.

Gordon comes to and staggers to his feet, thanking Talo for his work but still badly wounded.

Upon seeing Kalam’s lifeless body, Talo’s face blanches and the furry medic springs into action. He hustles over to Kalam’s body, “Daldin, grab his feet, we need to get him back to the medical bay immediately!” Talo hoists the fighter under his arms and jerks his head to the vertical passage, “Grunor and Daldin, help bring the wounded along. Cynan, make sure the way is clear as we run the wounded up the chute.”

The paladin nods and heads out onto the balcony with Munin to scout ahead.

Talo helps direct the group back to the medical golem on the floor above.

Still in bad shape Gildor helps out where he can and his heart sinks as he hears the beginnings of a fight. He sees Gordon’s body smash against the wall and hope turns to fear. He hears the gasp of the beast as someone lands a killing blow. He sees Talo rush to help Gordon then take off out of sight again, “Good job friends. Praise be to Urharwen for watching over us. You’ve found Kalam!!!! Hurry let’s get back to the medicine room.”

Outside on the balcony, they can go north just a bit and go up the shaft. Gildor will try and help the shorter folks up to the upper level if he is able otherwise he just makes sure he can get up. “Let’s get Kalam checked out, then the next seriously wounded and so on, until we are all fixed up. We need to rest to recover prayers and magic my friends. It may take some time to restore Kalam and we should make use of that time to rest up.”
“If only I could figure out a way to make more of this healing potion through these golems.” Gildor looks at Talo and Munin, “Will you rest with us and wait for all to be ready so we can begin searching for the king again?”
Gildor waits for his turn to be healed and rests when he can to recover spells.

The party hustle out of the kitchen, through the dining hall and out onto the balcony. The great garden below is dim and quiet under a pall of smoke which fills the ceiling space and obscures the bright light there.
There is a security golem on the balcony, just beyond the drop-chute archway and looking over the balcony the party can see a spider-like machine, floating next to the strangle vine that attacked them. It is shooting occasional gouts of white powder at the remains of the fire and another of these machines clings to the wall below the balcony, blasting more of the white powder at the fire. Everywhere the powder touches the flames splutter and die. The fire will be out soon.
The golem turns and walks towards the party as they approach the drop-chute but Gordon waves his red card at the thing. It nods, says something incomprehensible and goes back to overseeing the firefighting operations.

The party climb into the drop-chute and grabbing the hand-holds, glide up and tumble out, onto the deck above. They gather themselves and stagger into the medical room.
The medical golem takes Kalam immediately, strips him of his armour and puts him down on one of the couches, where more and more devices and tubes are placed on and in the human’s corpse.
It turns to the rest of the party and after a quick survey of all their wounds puts Gildor onto the remaining couch minus his armour.
While the couch and all its devices work on Kalam and Gildor, the golem sits Gordon in a chair and begins treating the gnome itself. It tries to talk to the party and Gordon casts a Comprehend Languages spell to translate what it’s saying. It says Kalam will take 5 bells (16 hours) to return to a viable state and then begin healing. It can treat Gildor, Gordon and Cynan for their wounds and patch up Kradorn and Talo. After that it has enough medicine to treat one more serious injury before its stocks are depleted. It can continue to apply first aid and patch up injuries but nothing more serious.
It strongly suggests that you all get some rest as the metabolism accelerators you were given earlier work better that way and some of you are showing signs of stress and exhaustion.
Once Gildor has been treated on the couch he swaps places with Gordon, though he’s still feeling battered and wounded. By the time Cynan has taken his turn a sixth of a bell has passed and Munin is pacing up and down. Everyone is eating by this point, as everyone feels strangely hungry.
“I canne wait 5 bells twiddling my thumbs here. We (he says, indicating the three other dwarves) need to be oot looking for King Thraim. You rest here, if we find him or any sign we’ll be back.” With that Munin shoulders his pack and shield and takes up his axe. He nods to farewell to Cynan “Sir.” and moves out into the drop-chute junction.

Gildor stops the dwarves and says, “If you are going to go, leave a trail so we can find ya. You saw what the creatures here can do. Be safe and hopefully we can catch up to you.” Gildor rest as the golem works on him. “We still have some time to search for the King and the Captain or the Card the Captain carried. I suggest once we get some rest we track the dwarves or head back down to the lower level we were on and see if we pick up a trail for the Captain or the King and go from there. Does anyone else have any ideas that might help us?”

“Wait… we should stick together. Kalam will be safe here as we search. We will return and check on him after each search.” Kradorn replies.

“No offence Kradorn but ya dinne look fightin’ fit ta me.” Smiles Munin, gesturing to the party in general.

With no one else volunteering to go with the dwarves, everyone settles down and after a guard is set, the party manage to get a good twelve hours rest. During the rest Cynan lays on hands, to bring everyone back up to full health again.
Another four hours sees Kalam restored to life, though he is still unconscious at this point. The medical golem is in the middle of detaching and extracting most of the devices from Kalam’s body when the door opens and Munin and Daldin stagger into the room, bloodied and battered, carrying a small table between them, upon which lays the body of Thraim.
The golem assesses the fallen dwarf but shakes it’s head at the dwarves and talks softly to them, explaining there is nothing it can do for him.
“We found the king and two of his guard at the bottom of the southern drop-chute, there was a beast there with some sort of magical enchantment, Grunor just stood and stared as it crushed him beneath its massive fists. We fought and killed it but only we survived. Thraim’s body was laid nearby.”
The dwarf sits in one of the chairs while the golem administers first aid.
“Our job here is done, I must remain with Thraim’s body but Daldin will come with you. If I remember, there is some reason why we cannot go back through the gate to the lair of the mindflayer but I forget it now. That is your quest I think now, gentlemen.”