Friday, March 27, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 124

Previously...
Betrayed and his friends attacked by surprise in the middle of negotiations, Bujilli has returned to the camp of the Grunters and terminated their alliance with extreme prejudice...

Bujilli walked silently through the trampled camp, past dozens of piggish-corpses, on his way back to the Keep. He was tired, bloody and bloodied and thoroughly disgusted. It didn't have to be like this...it didn't...they could have worked something out...

Halfway up the ramp a buzzing noise disturbed his reverie of recrimination. Something big was close. Getting closer. Fast.

A large beetle-thing more than three times his size landed behind him.

He nearly slipped, almost fell to his knee, the one with the arrowhead lodged in the armor. The pain helped him focus. He ran towards the entrance to Idvard's Keep.

The beetle-thing snapped its mandibles at him. Missed.

Bujilli feinted to the right. The beetle-thing lunged. A hard swipe at the thing's nearest leg caused it to draw back. He was leery of getting his hand-axe caught in the thing's leg-joint. But if he could cripple enough of its limbs...

Golden traceries of light flowed across his field of vision. Counsel displayed the rapidly adjusting probability of each potential attack actually connecting with the targeted spot on the beetle. It didn't look good for his chances of taking this thing apart. The beetle would most likely get him before he could chop off its limbs.

Another swipe. The beetle buzzed angrily as it moved back out of the way of the hand-axe. He ran for the entrance. It was barred. The portcullis was down and the doors behind that were latched shut. Airtight. No guards were in sight.

"Scheiss!"

The beetle lunged for him. He rolled to the side. His knee gave out as he tried to get back onto his feet, so he knelt on it, driving the black-iron arrow-head deeper into his flesh.

The beetle snapped its glistening black mandibles at him as it approached. They were like chitinous scimitars, big enough to take his head clean off. His head. After everything that had happened with him and the Grunters this insect meant to take his head.

"I don't think so." Bujilli cast Gestural Globs. A mass of dermal mucus swelled into a semi-spherical blob in his free hand. A simple flick of the wrist sent the glob flying at the beetle-thing with a satisfyingly wet glunk.

The beetle-thing reared up, its wings buzzing angrily.

The glob of mucus slithered across its shell, gumming-up the wings and dribbling down along its shell in a gooey mess.

Bujilli watched as it dropped down onto the ramp only a few yards away from him.

It twitched, wobbled, tried to use its wings but couldn't. The sticky mucus caused its wing case to jam partly open. Its wings were ruined, shredded from sticking to one side or the other of the thing's own body. It couldn't fly. Its movements became jerky, erratic. It shuddered painfully--the mucus was infiltrating the beetle's breathing passages, closing-off its spiracles.

Bujilli did not wait around to watch it die.

He got up. He moved to the entrance and he pounded on the portcullis with the flat of his hand-axe.

Nothing.

No response.

"Open up damn it!"



Meanwhile...
Camille looked out the small section where there was a triangular gap in the boards nailed over the window. She wiped away the worst of the filth smudging it with her sleeve. It was blurry but she could make out shapes of the Fyters moving around out there. It was eerie, how they moved along, their hobnailed soles clicking and clacking across the cobblestones as they made their way down the street. Two more houses and they'd be at the door to this place...




Bujilli brushed the blood-soaked hair out of his eyes. His hand trembled. He was exhausted, bloody and bleeding from a score of small wounds. An arrow had gotten caught in his knee-guard. He'd snapped it off with a sweep of his scimitar, but now the point was digging into his flesh, making each step he took that much more uncomfortable. One of those vinkin halberds had shredded his sleeve as well. His ribs ached from where one of the last of his opponents had managed to hit him with a bulky, blocky hammer. He'd been caught flat-footed and the Grunter had knocked him flat; he'd used a Light spell on that one. Inside their snout. They panicked, dropped the hammer and ran squealing like their head was going to explode.

He almost laughed. Except for all the bodies scattered about what was left of the camp-site.

It was a stupid waste.

But it was over now. Maybe three Grunters had escaped. Possibly four. He had driven them back through the tunnel they had come through to reach this place; back through the Weak Point that opened onto some nameless Dead World they had tried to escape. He made sure they knew there was only death for them here in this place now. He used his fighting wand* to blast the area on the other side of the Weak Point with the smoldering white acid-jelly it drew forth from Selinoth-Yr, one of the Twenty Deadly Planes. It would deter any of the pig-things from returning and it would persist long enough for Idvard to come up with a better defense of his own later.

He had paused there, on the threshold of that dead world. It was raining on the other side. A cold, red rain drizzled across a blackened and pitted wasteland. The rain spattered and sizzled as it struck the acid-jelly, sending up wisps of foul-smelling steam that lingered over the mess he'd made.

He considered trying to use the Synchronocitor to close the Weak Point, but he was tired and unsure how to do such a thing despite Counsel displaying a series of diagrams and visual guides that displayed how to go about it.

He almost tried it.

Almost.

But he didn't know how much longer he could stay upright. He was bleeding, he was tired, and he just wanted to go back to his room at the Keep and fall asleep. Maybe he'd take a bath first. A bath sounded so very good. But there wasn't any way for him to get back inside the Keep unless the guards opened the door. Not yet.

Replacing the wand to it's sheath on his hip, he considered drawing his scimitar again, but thought better of it--he had his hand-axe or he could still cast a couple of nasty spells and he had his pistol. That would have to be enough. He didn't expect a lot of trouble; not from all the dead Grunters behind him, nor from the panicked Grunters he'd sent back to this place. He used the hand-axe to help him sit down. His damned knee was throbbing. He pried the black-iron arrow-head loose, tossed it out through the Weak Point. He loaded his pistol. Then he waited. It would only be an hour or so before the Synchronocitor was recharged.

Hedrard's amulet pulsed three times. It woke him. He didn't remember falling asleep. The rain had stopped. It was very dark, very still beyond the Weak Point. His makeshift moat of acidic-jelly made a barely audible sizzling noise as it settled ans seeped into the soil.

"Go to the mirror, boy."

Bujilli shook his head. He was soaked in blood, in sweat, in tears. There were dead Grunters to either side of him, more behind him. His handiwork.

He felt foolish for having tried to work out some sort of deal with the Grunters. It had been a mistake.

He gestured. The Synchronocitor twisted back into view. It was fully charged. He had it take him directly back to his room.

A small blue lamp glowed softly on the little table next to his bed.

He managed to take his boots off on his own. She helped him get undressed and tended to his wounds without a word.

She held him and he slept for days, weeks, hours...he had no idea how long. It was peaceful; no bad dreams, no nightmares, no memories of horrific things.

He woke to the gentle glimmer of the morning sun peeked playfully over the windowsill.

Morning Glories were in bloom all along the trellises on either side of his window. It was a pleasant scent to wake-up to and he relished it after all the reeks and stinks he had been forced to endure down there, below the Keep.

Bujilli sat up suddenly. He was naked. Bandaged. In his bed at the Keep.

Leeja stirred beside him.

He wasn't sure what to do.

"Go to the mirror, boy."

He saw the heavy old mirror-cabinet that had been wheeled into his room while he was gone. The key to the thing lay next to the small lamp on the table next to his bed. It was cast in bronze in the shape of some sort of apple tree, an apple tree that had a gaping, toothsome maw right where the hole in the key would normally be, if it had been a skeleton key.

Bujilli picked the key up. It was heavier than he expected. He looked at the mirror, examined the key, looked over at Leeja who had gone back to sleep and he made up his mind what he was going to do. He slipped out form under the blankets and pulled on a robe. The key went into a pocket. He closed the door to the room carefully, quietly behind him. He managed close to a full hour of soaking in the bath tub before she knocked on the door.

She took over the room while he busied himself locating some fresh clothes from the wardrobe. He had liked the old shirt, but now he needed to replace it. He selected a dark green velvet tunic that went over a raw silk undershirt and another pair of denim trousers, reinforced with airship fabric like his old ones. He couldn't find his boots, nor his armor. He was about to ask Leeja about his gear when there was a knock at the door.

He opened the door. One of the drones stood there holding a wicker basket inside of which were his boots and his armor, all of which had been thoroughly cleaned and repaired.

The drone deposited the basket in front of Bujilli then left. He watched it as it walked away until it turned a corner then he picked up the basket and took it to the bed. He wasted no time getting into his gear. The boots felt like someone had replaced the pads inside. Good. They'd been in need of that. They fit perfectly. His armor was clean, all the pads had been replaced, the straps as well. He couldn't find any trace of the punctures, scratches or dents he knew had to have been there when he returned. The side panels were slightly different, reinforced along slightly different lines and the lamellar sections were thicker, yet it weighed about the same as before. He took his time adjusting each strap and panel just like he'd learned from Rilma the mistress-at-arms.**

He had just removed the green book from his loot-sack when Leeja came back into the room.

"How is Idvard? Bortho and Zutissa? Are they..."

"He was still in a bad way when I last checked in on him. The healers he has been able to hire to work here in the Keep are doing what they can, but they aren't surgeons or midwives. Also, there might have been poison in the wound..."

"I'd just about bet on it."

"Bortho is hobbling around and seeing to the defensive arrangements. Zutissa is...much worse off. We nearly lost her..."

"I'm sorry..." Once again he found himself wishing he had learned some healing spells.

"Yeah. Me too. I really like those two. Did you know that they've had two more children since we last saw them?"

"But we haven't been gone that long..."

"Time works differently for them. They named the girl Julilli and their son is Beela."

"Nice."

"What happened...down there?"

"It wasn't meant to be, I guess. I tried. I failed. I've learned my lesson. They won't be bothering us ever again."

"What did you do?" Leeja cocked her head to one side.

"I unraveled the Unchild, took Talzag's head and killed most of the Grunters. Three or four might have survived, but I drove them back through the Weak Point they used to gain access to the tunnels underneath us. I set up a temporary barrier to entry to discourage trespassers."

"Oh..." Leeja looked into his eyes and for a moment they both were able to look deep into the other's soul, past the wounds and scars and terrible things they'd each seen or witnessed or done...

She wasted no time getting clothed and into her armor. He noticed that she had a new short sword slung on her belt as well as a different pistol, this one had four barrels and a much more elegant weapon than the one she used to carry. He lost count of the knives and daggers and wasn't quite sure where they all went.

He slid the book back into the sack and placed it inside the wardrobe, beneath a stack of underwear. He wasn't going to lug it around unless and until he got a chance to really study it first. A book like that could be a hazard to the unwary. He'd come back for it later.

Leeja was smiling. He couldn't help but to smile himself. He felt good. Ready and raring to go and do something, anything, so long as it was with her.

"Do you want breakfast, or should we unlock the mirror and see what it is that Hedrard wants?"


What should they do next?

You Decide!


* The wand was received as a gift from Mistress Eberhard in Episode 69 and equipped in Episode 70.
** As seen in Episode 122.


Synchronocitor Status: Fully Recharged.


What should they do now?

Do they go get some breakfast, or should they unlock the mirror and deal with Hedrard? Should they go give Bortho a report about what went on down below before anything happens? He might want to know about the Weak Point down there so he can set up some sort of defense against any more intruders. Do you think that Bujilli ought to check-in on Idvard before heading off on his next adventure? You know that once they unlock the mirror, anything might happen...


So what do you think Bujilli & Leeja ought to do next?

You Decide!

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About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 123

Previously...
No sooner had Bujilli and Leeja returned to witness the conclusion of negotiations between Idvard and the Grunters, than Shael burst into the room dragging along a reluctant prisoner, then the Unchild lunged across the table to viciously attack Idvard before disappearing...

Bortho struggled to stand. His front was badly scorched. The morningstar fell from his grip as he dropped back down in an empty chair, passed out, and sprawled forwards onto the table. Zutissa lay very, very still where she had crumpled to the floor, little trails of black smoke curled upwards from her badly scorched armor.

Idvard hovered at the head of the table staring down at the gory ruin of his own eye as it lay there in a pool of blood soaking into various papers, hastily scribbled notes and other such ephemera left in the wake of the now defunct negotiations. Blood flowed copiously down the Triloo's face, down his robe, dripping from his sleeve. He ignored the blood, forced himself to get past the pain; the Keep was vulnerable. There was too much to do. He looked at Bortho, Zutissa, the others in this room. He looked at Bujilli and he screamed. His entire body convulsed. He fell to the floor. Unconscious.

Leeja cast her Web spell, immobilizing the cuckoo-girl that had attacked Shael. Then she went to Idvard and tried to stop the bleeding.

Jumdrim entered the room. He scowled at Bujilli; "I've brought you a mirror..."

Two Fyters rolled an ornately carved, gilded and inlaid mirror locked behind heavy shutters into the room and took up position on either side of the thing.

"Here." He placed the key in Bujilli's hand then quickly went to his master's side.

"Idvard needs a healer. So does Bortho and Zutissa. Hurry!"

Jumdrim nodded then disappeared.

Bujilli brought the Synchronocitor into visibility with a twist of the wrist. The ancient device glowed deep violet as it came alive in his grip. Deep within his bones something shifted into place. Golden flames wreathed his hands, bled out over and around the shaft of the Synchronocitor, swirling into place all around the mechanism and in a moment of incredible clarity he knew what needed to be done.

He could see the lingering vestiges of the spell that the Unchild had used in her escape. He saw the traceries of vril-charged symbols, the fading echoes of her words of power. He stabbed the Synchronocitor into the shriveling nexus left behind in the wake of her transport. The dying spell shuddered and flared. He forced his way through the rapidly decaying aperture in a surge of violet sparks and golden ripples.

Someone was shrieking, a shrill and obnoxious sound. Bones clattered and beads clacked as someone moved past a curtain of sorts. He kicked his way past dirty cushions and pillows. The still-smoldering corpse of a Grunter glared at him as he stepped over it. This was Talzag's sleeping quarters.

"What have you done?" Yelled the old shamaness-sow.

"Something you would never have the guts to do--"

The Synchronocitor pulsed in his hands. He could still hear his friend screaming in agony, could still smell the blood. The shock of the Unchild's sudden betrayal was raw in his nerves. He had hoped things would be different.

"Sow Slayer? How?" The Unchild's eyes went wide with fear as it realized what sort of device it was facing. She dropped the crackling pink quartz blade she had intended to use in removing Talzag's head. The blade shattered as it struck the floor.

Bujilli knew what to do. His Counsel and the Synchronocitor were united now, integrated, as much a part of him as he was of them. He severed the link between the Unchild and her creator Talzag. Then he unraveled the spell that gave her life and form and identity.

Talzag struggled against the red-metal chains conjured by her renegade spawn as they sizzled and popped and sloughed away into so much fetid smoke.

The Unchild screamed as she unraveled into oblivion.

Talzag took up what was left of the pink quartz knife. She glared at Bujilli as the red chains fell away into vapor. She dropped the knife.

The Unchild was no more.

Only a foul mass of cancerous cells and blackening fluids remained.

"I had intended to help your people--"

"We didn't ask for your help; we don't want your help."

The Synchronocitor slipped back out of phase.

He drew out his hand-axe and the new scimitar.

"I regret that it had to end like this..."

Talzag spat in disgust just as her head left her shoulders.

He wished there could have been something better than pointless butchery.

It was a stupid waste.



Meanwhile...
Gudrun didn't like this place. The rocks were too red. The sand was too damned red. Even the lightning was red. And the way that dead mule stared at her with those lifeless eyes made her feel almost apologetic, as if she were guilty of something...





Hedrard's amulet pulsed three times.

"Go to the mirror, boy."

Bujilli shook his head. He was soaked in blood, in sweat, in tears. All about him were strewn the bodies of dead Grunters.

He followed the trail of the dead back to their old camp. Maybe a few had escaped, maybe not; he was too tired to remember.

The camp-site was silent.

He stopped. Stared at Talzag's nest.

He did not want to go back in there.

But he knew he had better do just that.

Only a fool would leave behind spell-books, grimoires or other such things lying around for their enemies to carry off freely.

He felt like a fool for having tried to work with the Grunters.

He had actually believed that Talzag was being honest with him, that she would work with him.

Fool.

He rummaged around in her nest. Most of what was there wasn't worth his time. Crude fetishes, bone-mobiles, pouches of unsavory mixtures, bundles of grotesquely shriveled fingers taken from their enemies; the old sow's most valuable possessions seemed to be locked away in her brain. Perhaps she didn't want any upstart apprentices stealing her secrets. Then he found a green book. It was bound in some kind of supple, almost velvety hide. The cover was incised and inlaid with gold in curious jagged patterns that formed different shapes as the cover was tilted or moved. The lock was made from bone and it fell away at his touch. He cracked it open to scan the contents. Aklo. He snapped the thing closed, then he cut a piece from the cleanest section of the drapery walls and wrapped the book up in the fabric. He quickly stuffed the bundle into his larger loot-sack. It wasn't the sort of book to stand around in a place like this gawking at like some idiot.

He quickly inspected the most likely seeming places in Talzag's nest but found nothing else of any use to him.

If he took more time, examined things more carefully, he could probably find several useful things...but there wasn't time.

He'd opened the book. Even if he hadn't fully read the first glyph it had been exposed long enough to reverberate through the near aethyr. That sort of thing tended to attract the attention of things he just did not want to deal with right now.

So he headed back towards the fortified ramp-entrance to the Keep.

He was too tired to run, otherwise he would have.

Halfway up the ramp and feeling foolish for having let his uncle's bullshit superstitions get the better of him a large beetle more than three times his size landed right behind him. He nearly slipped, almost fell to his knee, but was able to keep going. It snapped its mandibles at him. Missed.

Bujilli ran for the entrance. It was barred. The portcullis was down and the doors behind that were latched shut. Airtight. No guards were in sight.

The beetle lunged for him...


What should Bujilli do next?

You Decide!




Synchronocitor Status: Recharging (roll 1d4).


What should he do now?

Roll for Initiative. (1d6 +1 for DEX bonus)

Then Bujilli has to decide whether to fight the big beetle-thing, or try to escape. If he is going to fight, should he cast a spell (which one do you suggest?), use his fighting wand, use his pistol, or hack the thing to pieces with his hand-axe & scimitar? If he should run away, I mean make a strategic withdrawal, then how would you recommend he go about that?

There is a base 25% chance that the guards notice something going on out there on the ramp-way. If someone rolls 25 or below on a D100 then help is on the way, but if you roll 75 or above then someone on watch duty is going to sit back and watch Bujilli fight the beetle-thing, possibly making bets with one of the other guards.

If there's going to be a fight, then five or six (or a few more) d20 rolls would be helpful.

We need another 1d6 roll to check for possible Wandering Monsters attracted to all the noise and ruckus from Bujilli's encounter with the big black beetle. A result of 1 means there's an encounter and a 6 means that there is an event or something like that. This beetle-thing was attracted to him because of the green book, so something else might be in the area, possibly drawn towards all the dead Grunters left lying around...

Leeja is in command of the Keep at the moment. Idvard is incapacitated by his injury, but a healer is available and doing the best that they can for him. Bortho and Zutissa both in a very bad way and need more help than the healer can provide. Shael is also in dire need of some help with her condition, but she has been able to move around a lot better than she could previously--there seems to be a lessening of the glassification effect, so maybe Shael is throwing off the curse...

A d12 will determine something very important, likewise a d4 will tell us how many hours the synchronocitor will need to recharge and yes, that's hours not days.

And that appears to be everything for now.

What should Bujilli do next?

You Decide!

Previous                            Next

Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six  |  Seven


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Coming Soon

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 122

Previously...
Back at the Keep negotiations between Idvard and the weird little Unchild representing the Grunters proceeds apace while Bujilli and Leeja attend to some other matters...

Hedrard's amulet pulsed three times.

"So; should we stay or should we go?" Leeja closed the door behind them. The negotiations would go along just fine without them for now. They'd check back later.

"Go to the mirror, boy."

Bujilli paused in mid-stride. He could feel the warmth of the amulet on his chest. Hedrard's amulet. She was trying to reach him. It was time to go see her. Almost.

"What is it?" Leeja reached out to him, a look of concern on her face.

"It's Hedrard. She's trying to contact me. I just heard her voice." He looked up and down the hallway they were in; no mirrors in sight.

"What did she say?"

"I'm supposed to go to a mirror, only there aren't any right at hand..." He remembered something about an ancient war and how all the mirrors in Wermspittle were kept behind shutters, doors or drapes. After having met Sprague's doppleganger he could see why it was a bad idea to leave a mirror out in the open like an open window or door.

"We had best get you some more arrows. Even better, we should both get ourselves prepared as best we can manage for what is coming; I have a feeling that things are going to get loud and violent sooner, rather than later and we'd better be ready."

"I had hoped to go to the library..."

"Arsenal first. Library second. Then there's a mirror in your room..."

"There are four arsenals, two armories, and more than a dozen weapons-caches, not counting the racks beside each of the major guard positions; which would you like to visit first?" Jumdrim the Steward stepped out of a too-narrow aperture behind them. Despite being dressed like some sort of jester or clown, he appeared somber even serious as he held out his hand to Bujilli.

"What is that?" Leeja asked, instantly suspicious of the strange steward.

"I was instructed to make the proper adjustments to Bujilli's ring. It will allow you to summon and command up to twenty drones, as specified in your agreement with Idvard. It's a simple matter. Won't hurt a bit." There was a small milky blue lozenge in the steward's outstretched hand.

Bujilli began to remove the ring Idvard had given him as a token of their various agreements.*

"No need to remove the ring. If you'll allow me..." Jumdrim deftly placed the smooth blue stone onto the ring and it rapidly melted into the black and yellow striped metal band, forming a small blue oval that appeared to float within the metal itself.

"There. Now you can summon your drones and they will recognize your commands. You were discussing your immediate plans. I couldn't help but overhear. Might I be of some assistance? Unless you'd prefer to wander about on your own. I understand that you're both used to that sort of thing..."

"Time is of the essence, more likely than not. Which way is the closest place we can replace our arrows and so forth?" Bujilli wasn't sure what to make of the slender Spirk with his ruffled collar and exaggerated features; the little man reminded him of things the Comprachicos were said to do to some of their prisoners...only his features were really and truly his own and not the product of torture and surgery.

"Will this do?" Jumdrim bowed with a flourish and a pop and they found themselves standing before a battered old desk where a bored looking Tsalalian woman wearing an antique civil defense helmet sat glaring at them. Her hair was arranged in rows of tight braids, each one terminating in a tiny obsidian skull.

"Nicely!" Leeja began to examine the racks and shelves and stacks of crates arranged around the room. It was time to go shopping.

"This is Bujilli, that is Leeja; they are special guests of Idvard and have free access to the arsenal. Rilma here is our recently-hired Mistress-at-Arms. She can assist you in locating and collecting anything you might need." Jumdrim slipped back through another too-narrow aperture, leaving them to the tender mercies of this fighting woman whose lustrous ebony skin seemed to be composed almost entirely of layer upon layer of battle-scars...or were they ritual markings...it was difficult to tell for certain as they seemed to flow like weather patterns within her flesh.

"I thought you would be taller. She's too pretty to be much of a fighter, not like everyone has been making her out to be. Huh. So, what kind of mayhem-makers and damage-dealers are you two looking for then?"

"I need some arrows..."



Meanwhile...
She remembered it had been raining when they struck off the manacles. They had been friends of one of the other prisoners. Her foot had slipped into a crack and she had gotten stuck. She remembered looking into the eyes of the hairy little fellow, how he really would have come back for her if she hadn't yelled and swore and warned him off. Then the section of wall collapsed and she toppled with it, sliding and skidding and tumbling down, down, down through the rain and the rubble and the screams and thunder.

It was something of a shock to wake up surrounded by darkness and silence, all the more so since she had not expected to ever wake up again. Stiff and sore, damp and dirty, she wasn't sure where in the Gormenstille she had wound up, but she was more determined than ever to escape from this hateful place...





Twenty yellow-metal fletched arrows in a heavy Bruthem-hide quiver. A scimitar with a green-sheen on the ornately etched and incised blade. Several new throwing knives and a tightly-packed net fashioned from some sort of metallic fibers. They had both found a few things worth picking up at the arsenal. Rilma had been very helpful. She clearly knew her way around weapons and had helped them both re-do their harnesses so that everything was more accessible and less likely to bind or to get in the way at the worst possible moment. Neither of them had ever realized how complicated a suit of armor could be with all the knots and ties, joints and seams, and all Rilma's talk of weight distribution and airflow and other such tactical esoterica had left them both thankful they did not wear anything more complicated than what they already wore.

Jumdrim appeared just as they left the arsenal and took them to the library. The chairs were comfortable, as was the fireplace and the tea service, both of which were managed by a pair of green monkeys wearing pillbox caps and gloves--black for the fire-keeper and white for the tea-tender.

"As you can see," Jumdrim gestured expansively behind himself at the many half-assembled and mostly empty book-shelves; "We have a lot of work to catch up on. Unfortunately, with all the troubles we've had with the Grunters below, there hasn't been time to get the new library into working order yet. We may have to hire-on a few assistant librarians, once things settle down, of course."

"Of course." Leeja sipped her tea and stared at the stacks of books, boxes of books, sacks of books piled all over the place. She kept looking for a cat to peek out from behind one of the piles.

"Might I assist you in finding something in particular?"

"Would you have anything handy that would be effective against fungal-things? Spells suitable for use in subterranean spaces in particular would be good..."

"Hmmm....yes...I think we might have something along those lines." Jumdrim made a series of fluid gestures as he cast a spell that formed a small gleaming golden sphere that crackled with vril as it hovered inches above the palm of his left hand; "This will help me to find what you're looking for..." The golden sphere lifted into the air and swooped this way and that as if searching or following the scent of a particular book or treatise. It zipped up one aisle and down another, zig-zagging and loop-de-looping as it went along. Then it stopped. It buzzed. It returned to Jumdrim, but at the last second veered and slipped past him to hover directly above Bujilli's belt-pouch.

"Interesting." Jumdrim regarded Bujilli drolly, as though not particularly amused at having his time wasted.

"I think it likes you..." Leeja jested.

"What does it mean?" Bujilli watched the golden sphere roll and spin and wobble as it held station right at his side.

"It means that you are already carrying such spells as you requested. I suggest that you take advantage of the opportunity to reacquaint yourself with the contents of whatever you have with you. Negotiations are proceeding apace and I suspect you have at least an hour before they will be done with the preliminaries. I'll have the kitchen send you something to eat if you'd like."

"Thank you. That would be wonderful." Leeja sank back in her overstuffed chair and slurped her tea. A nap sounded lovely.

"Yes. Thank you." Bujilli snapped open his belt pouch. He touched the spine of one booklet, journal or compact digest after another until the golden sphere buzzed and he knew he had the right one. He removed the booklet; it was a thickly-covered and waterproofed traveler's edition of The Yellow Pages. The cover was more like a jointed box or shell that fully enclosed the book. It required a key to open the thing. The golden sphere buzzed three times in rapid succession then clattered to the little table in between Leeja and Bujilli's chairs. It had taken on the form of a golden key.

"I'll leave you to it then."

Bujilli picked up the key and opened the book. It smelled like peaches. The book was printed in Zanjik, which he recognized from a set of frond-scrolls his uncle had taken from the corpse of a rival sorcerer. His uncle had refused to teach him how to read that language. It was not one of the scripts that lent itself to magical translation; it was one of the languages one either learned the hard way or not at all.

Disgusted, he flipped through the book. Pictures, diagrams, symbols--his hand froze in place. Yellow filaments extended from a particular symbol made up on jagged crescents and swirls. He tried to pull his hand away but it wouldn't budge. The filaments jabbed at the palm of his hand. Blood dripped onto the book, seeping deep into the page with the symbol. He couldn't move, couldn't make a sound; the filaments stabbed into his flesh again and again and again. Like a bird pecking at seed, or a needle dragging thread through cloth--no not quite that--it was marking him, imprinting him with the symbol.

He had asked for a spell.

Now he had one tattooed into the palm of his left hand.

The filaments flowed back into the book. He slumped back into his chair. The book closed. Locked. The golden sphere oozed out of the lock and faded away with a final buzz.

"Ah. Good. You've finished. You're needed in the informal dining room. I think that they are about ready to come to terms."

Bujilli glared at the steward. Leeja woke with a start. She looked at Bujilli. He looked away. This wasn't the time to get into it.

He got up from his chair, as did she. Jumdrim bowed slightly then opened the door. Instead of the hallway it led directly into the dining room. They both entered and took their seats.

Idvard nodded to them both. He seemed pleased at the way things were going.

"What was that?" hissed the Unchild.

The double-doors across from Bujilli flew open.

Shael walked in dragging the limp form of a very bedraggled looking Cuckoo-girl; the very one that had led the ambush on them.

"You bitch! You're not going to ruin this for me!" The Unchild lunged, both pudgy little hands rapidly going through a series of abrupt, violent gestures as grotesque, wrongly echoing words vibrated from her snout in a trail of black sparks. Before anyone could stop her, the little pig-thing was across the table and clutching Idvard. With a vicious snarl she bit into the flesh under his leftmost eye. Blood spattered. Idvard screamed. The Unchild squealed as he tried to dislodge her.

Bortho appeared beside Idvard. He had his morningstar in-hand, but could not get into position quickly enough to strike the squealing pig-thing without also striking his employer.

Zutissa appeared on the opposite side. She grabbed the Unchild around the mid-section. A shower of black sparks sent her flying across the room. She hit the far wall then crumpled to the floor and lay still. Bortho swung his weapon but before he could connect another shower of black sparks sent him flying almost on top of Bujilli who caught him. He set Bortho down in the chair next to him and checked to see if his friend was still alive. There was a pulse. He seemed to be breathing, but he was unconscious and terribly burned. The smell made Bujilli nauseous.

The Unchild snarled, yawped then tore Idvard's eye out. She spat it onto the table and laughed at their shocked expressions of horror.

"I will lead the Purple Horde here to your Keep myself!"

"But why?" Bujilli rose from beside his fallen friend, one hand on his fighting wand, a spell forming in his mind.

"Why?" The Unchild laughed; "Because you are all weak and doomed. The worldkillers are coming and there's nothing you can do to stop them."

"Your people have sworn to serve--"

"I never swore to serve anyone, least of all you."

Leeja threw one of her new knives, but the Unchild was already gone.

 Idvard collapsed to the floor in a bloody, shuddering mess. Bujilli went to him. Leeja went to check Zutissa.

"What was that thing?" Shael stood in the doorway, shocked by the suddenness of the Unchild's attack on Idvard.

"Someone that had the right idea!" The Cuckoo-girl twisted in Shael's grip and bit her on the thigh.

The cuckoo-girl rushed to Bortho's unconscious body and took his dagger.

Shael started to form a spell, but she was too weak, too injured, so instead she punched the kid in the face. The girl dropped the dagger out of surprise. Her eyes began to glow.

"Not on your best day." Shael knocked the girl flat, then picked up the dagger. Her left-side was crazed with cracks and blood and fragments of glass that had once been her skin. She looked over at Bujilli; "I'm not sure what has been going on. But I do know that this little brat had no idea who any of us were when she attacked. She was after someone else entirely."

"Do you know who she was after?"

"Yes. She was after Gnosiomandus."

Hedrard's amulet pulsed three times.

"Go to the mirror, boy."


What should Bujilli & Leeja do next?

You Decide!



* See Episode 49.


Synchronocitor Status: Fully Recharged.


What should they do now?

Okay...so we dealt with the trip to the arsenal and picked-out a few new toys. Bujilli has a new spell that is imprinted into the palm of his hand and Leeja did have a pleasant nap in the library. And we've reconnected with Shael.

But the little oinkerling Unchild has proven completely untrustworthy; she's just betrayed herself, after a fashion, which takes some doing. And now she's off to go find the Purple Horde, if we can trust anything that nasty little thing says...

So, Idvard is injured (grievously), Zutissa is injured, Bortho is injured, and Shael is a real mess, so they could use some medical assistance. If someone would roll a percentile die (1-100), that'd be helpful in determining whether or not there is a healer available on the premises. There's a 30% chance that a healer is available, anything over 30% means that the healer(s) are all busy or incapacitated from the previous gas attacks.

The cuckoo-girl might be playing possum. that's a 50-50 sort of thing, so either roll another percentile die, or roll a d6 (or flip a coin) and we'll say that even means she's faking, odd means she's actually knocked out.

Hedrard is really trying to get in touch with Bujilli right now. Perhaps she could help Idvard--she is a healer, among various other things. Maybe they can ask Jumdrim to bring in a mirror to contact her from this room? Or is that perhaps a bad idea?

With Idvard incapacitated and his two lieutenants badly injured...who is in charge around here? Once the rest of the staff learns about what happened, we'll need a Morale Check (2d6, as per page 56 of the Labyrinth Lord book). 

We also need a 1d6 roll to check for possible Wandering Monsters. A result of 1 means there's an encounter and a 6 means that there is an event, probably some Damned Thing or another. I'll post a Wandering Monster chart for Idvard's Keep early next week.

Let me know what you think they ought to do in the comments below, or via email and we'll resume things next week!

What do they do next?

You Decide!

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Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six  |  Seven


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Coming Soon

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 121

Previously...
Bujilli stands before a war-herd of Grunters that have sworn themselves to him as a scintillating violet lance shrieks and howls in frustrated, thwarted rage that only he can hear...

The Un-Babe's eyes were a lurid pink that darkened into a heavy red along the edges while a scarlet glow smoldered deep within. There was no denying the fierce intellect that operated behind those squinty, piggish eyes. Wet with birth-gore and wrapped in filthy rags, the creature snuggled closer to Leeja and watched everything very intently, knowing all too well that everything she saw or heard was shared with another...at least for now.

"Warriors approach from above!" One of the perimeter guards crumpled to his knees, a yellow-metal arrow sunk deep into his left shoulder, leaving his arm to hang useless at his side, his armor crusted with dried, old blood.

"There's no time to lose! We have to reach Bortho and his people before they start dropping gas-bombs or worse on us!" Bujilli pushed his way through the clamoring and clomping Grunters. He only hoped he could reach the fighters defending Idvard's Keep before things went all to hell.

Leeja grabbed Bujilli by the shoulder; "That guard came from the wrong direction!"

Zulli snatched the violet lance from Bujilli's hand and rammed it through the guard's face with a sickening, all too wet squelch. Pale off-white mycellium-strands burst out of the guard's shuddering, juddering corpse to writhe and lash about in a frenzy.

Zulli slipped in the muck losing her grip on the violet lance. Flat on her back she looked up at the fungal horror looming over her. The violet lance snapped in two as the corpse lurched and shuddered and tried vainly to remove it from its head. Purplish fluid frothed delicately as it dribbled freely from the flesh surrounding the broken lance.

"TYRANT!" The cry went up among the Grutners who took up positions to block the fungi-possessed corpse from escaping or advancing. they had faced several of these things before* and they knew now what must be done. Those nearest the thing used their halberds and spears to hem the thing in, to hold it back so that those behind them could get to work. They knew from hard-won experience that they might not survive, but they were certain that the others would end this thing once and for all.

 Leeja started to turn away, intending to carry the Unchild born form Talzag's self-spelled flesh away from the coming mayhem but the little creature reached out and gripped her chin and forced her to look down at it; "Take me closer!"

The command was so forceful, so earnest that Leeja complied without argument.

The Unchild growled and grumbled and sputtered in some uncouth tongue as its pudgy little hands went through a series of motions. Black Flames roared forth from the Unchild's six out-thrust fingers arcing over the heads of those still in-between it and the fungi-infected corpse to cascade down upon the thing in a torrent of sibilant whispers and a cold that burned more deeply than any natural flame could. Six snarling, sputtering nodes of black fire took up position on either side of the cadaver forming a pair of opposing triangles. The little pig-imp glanced over at Bujilli then she set the nodes to spinning. Faster and faster they swirled around, becoming a screeching blur that radiated an intensely wrong sort of cold.

The Unchild made a fist and barked a command.

Immediately all the nodes stopped in place, fluctuating, crackling tendrils of black flame roared into position forming a hexagonal cage of energy around and half-within the torso of the fungi-ridden cadaver. It blackened and crackled and collapsed in upon itself as the wicked flames danced through its flesh, then it began to fracture like dark glass under impossible pressure. The black flames snapped into place, one after another, one triangle after another, the whole assemblage expanding outwards, increasing in size and intensity until finally forming a smoldering black icosohedron that fully encompassed its victim.

Zulli scrambled back from the mess clutching the section of the violet lance that had broken off. The Grunters arrayed behind her would not let her pass. One of them set his vinksome halberd at her midsection. She would ahve considred it ironic under other circumstances.

"Let her pass." Bujilli commanded the Grunters. One moved aside smartly, but the next-nearest one hesitated, almost looked back towards Talzag's den.

"Will your spell destroy this thing?" he looked down at the bloody and dirty little Unchild in Leeja's arms.

"If you like. Or I can incapacitate it if you prefer. Do you wish for me to destroy it Skull-Thief? Or would you like to interrogate it somehow?" The Unchild's was utterly sarcastic in its feigned deference.

"Not yet. I might be able to make use of the thing, but it will have to be later. After we return from conferring with the Lord of the Keep Above." He considered what to do about the little pig-thing.

"You have a use for this thing? Is it a secret? Will you tell me what you intend to do with it?" She batted her too-long eye-lashes and heaved a mock sigh that was as comical as it was disturbing.

"I may be able to use it to track down its source, the Fungal Tyrant that sent this thing back here among your people..." with luck he might be able to do much, much more than that, but he wasn't sure how much he wished to confide in Talag's Unchild. It combined the worst features of the wrinkled old shamaness-sow and an infant like some twisted sort of putto only someone suffering from a fever would ever have sculpted...or someone truly warped would ever bring into the world like Talzag had done. Her ruthlessness and ambition were as profound as they were grotesque.

The Unchild nodded sagely, as if savoring a particularly subtle joke, then she terminated her spell, leaving behind a gleaming black twenty-sided object that hovered six inches off of the floor with a violet lance jutting out of one face. Frost rimed the edges of the thing and a bitter mist trickled off of its surface.

"My progenitor can keep this thing frozen for weeks if necessary." The Unchild squirmed in order to face towards her 'mother,' Leeja turned without having to be asked. "Isn't that right 'mother' dearest? Perhaps while we're gone you can let the strongest and worthiest males attempt to free that violet lance from the black stone...maybe if one succeeds you could take them as your new consort..."

"Talzag made to get up, but was too weakened from her efforts. She glared at the impish spawn.

"We'll deal with it when we return." Bujilli nudged Leeja and they began walking away from Talzag's nest.

"Lead on Head Taker." The Unchild smirked as it waved him toward the passage to the next chamber.

Bujilli looked back at Talzag. She made the same gesture that her spawn had. She slumped back down upon a pile of furs and cushions. Guards took their place behind her. Those who wished to curry favor with the new mistress jostled and pushed their way in front of one another; things were settling down into familiar patterns again. He wondered how long it would take for Talzag to betray him. He expected maybe an hour. She was still a bit worn out from having birthed her weird imp-pig after all.

"You needn't worry about that old hag. She'll behave. I promise."



Meanwhile...
The Tripods were moving through the Tulgey Woods, burning down anyone who got in their way....





"Halt!" Three gladius-wielding skirmishers called out to them from the top of a ramp-way where all the embedded lamps had been broken of covered over. Four more fighters wielding spears stepped out from behind camouflaged manlets on either side of the blade-wielders.

"Can I kill them?" wheedled the Unchild.

"No. These are Bortho's people. They serve the Lord of the Keep Above." Leeja hissed.

"Send word to Bortho and Idvard. We bring an emissary from the Grunters."

"Who the hell are you then?" The burlier of the three waggled his gladius at them as if to encourage them to speak up and be quick about it.

"I'm Bujilli and this is Leeja--"

The fighter on the left elbowed his friend; "Those two are friends with Bortho and Zutissa."

"I don't care who they think--"

"Stand aside Grallaf." Zutissa stood three steps behind and to the right of the guardsman, one hand on her sword, the other bearing a slim metal rod topped with a bluish crystal that gave off a deceptively gentle illumination.

 The burly guard backed away and they passed without further incident.

Zutissa led them up ramps and along passages, through the Keeps underworld defenses and up into the Central Courtyard where six unter-fighters in studded leather waders, breathing masks and other such gear were gathered around waiting further orders while the rest of Idvard's forces were occupied clearing-away debris, mitigating lingering pockets of poison gas, and other such tasks.

Bortho was suddenly in front of Bujilli, clasping him by the shoulder; "It is good to see you. We were about to descend in force...try to get you back from the pigs..." He stared at the Unchild. She in turn stuck out her tongue at him.

"We've brought an emissary from the Grunters. She speaks for Talzag, their leader--"

"They have surrendered?" Bortho sounded incredulous, possibly disappointed. Either way it was substantially different from how he had acted when they had first met. Back then all of Bortho's folk dreaded going down into the lower levels of the Keep. They had been incredibly frightened of the Grunters. Not any more, apparently...

"Not hardly." laughed the Unchild.

"They serve me now. That's why I want to talk to Idvard. I think we can all come to an understanding that would be in each of our best interests." He still wasn't sure what to say abouot Zulli just yet.

"I would certainly like to hear your proposal!" Idvard hovered into view from around the corner. He was flanked by a dozen insectile drones, each wielding an impressive assortment of weapons.

The Unchild was dumbstruck. Neither she nor her progenitor Talzag had ever encountered a Triloo before.

Idvard rang a small green bell with his left hand. A Spirk clad in black and tan motley and an outrageously ruffled collar stepped out from a slim aperture.

"Jumdrim, please prepare the informal dining room off of the main hall. We have several  distinguished guests for dinner." He looked intently at Zulli. She tried to meet his gaze, but looked away.

"It will be as you say." The Spirk Steward disappeared back through the aperture which then closed back upon itself with a faint popping sound.

"Come then. Let us adjourn to more comfortable environs and by all means let us discuss such matters as you have in mind." Idvard floated on ahead so as to lead the way. The drones marched along in mindless synchronization. There was no overt evidence of his having cast any spells, but they passed along through the chlorine-damaged gardens; through the main inner-gatehouse; down a pillar-lined hall, kitty-corner through a trapezoidal room draped in vivid pink; along a corridor flanked by twenty statues of squat and shaggy morlocks wearing over-sized ovalish masks; up a spiral ramp and ended their journey in a richly paneled and well-lit room where a small banquet was set out for them buffet-style.

"Make yourselves comfortable. Have something to eat, drink. I have the impression that we have much to discuss."

"You are not the builder of this place..." The Unchild sneered.

"No. By no means do I claim to be. But I do claim it. And have defended it. Do you wish to dispute my claim?" Idvard poured a small snifter of brandy and took up his place at the head of the heavy oak table.

"This isn't about me, but rather my people...and Head Taker here."

"Head Taker?" Bortho set down a plate heaped with smoked salmon and roast potatoes. Zutissa shushed him.

"The Grunters have taken extreme losses. They've fought their way into the spaces down below and they've had to fight to remain where they are...and they've fought very well. I doubt very much that they would have stayed around this long nor attacked you directly if it wasn't for outside agitators who stirred them up and set them against you with lies and empty promises."

"Who? Who would do such a thing? I doubt very many people even know that I'm here..."

"The Purple Horde want to use this place in order to infiltrate Wermspittle--"

"WHAT?!?" Idvard set down his brandy and stared at his friend with his central eye, all the while keeping everyone else, and particularly the Unchild well within view of the other two.

"They came to us. Our Sow-Mistress at the time was an ignorant slut with no real grasp of strategy despite her penchant for penny-ante schemes and vendettas. She made a deal with the purple robes. They were setting us up, using us. Long story short; she's dead, I'm the new mistress and Sow Slayer here has claimed our fealty. We follow him now...my progenitor serves him, the rest follow after."

"But this is no good..."

"Talzag and her people need a home to call their own. Your Keep is woefully exposed to outside forces down below...you don't have the troops or resources to really consolidate your hold on everything down there...not without a major, very bloody, very costly fight. Then there's that Fungal Tyrant to deal with once and for all."

"What are you suggesting?"

"Hire-on the Grunters. Put them to work. If you don't want them down there under your Keep, then help them find a place of their own."

"An interesting proposal..."

"What's to stop us from taking over this place?" Grumbled the Unchild in between mouthfuls of roast beef and succotash.

"You don't have the numbers, nor the resources. You can fight, make a real mess of things, but in the end you know as well as I do that you have not established your claim. Your people have been misled into fighting someone else's battle for them. You deserve better."

"You say this? You? Skull Thief? One of the most notorious enemies of our people?"

"I say this...whatever happened before was...another place, another time..."

"And another group led by another mentally challenged sow. You're right. We cannot hope to establish our claim here...nor can we hope to take over this Keep...not at this time..."

"I have discovered six Weak Points in the ruined city in the valley below us."

"Ahem." Zutissa scowled at Idvard.

"Forgive me; my associates have discovered six Weak Points in the valley below. Two of them lead to places that might be especially worth further investigation. I would be open to discussing terms for your group to act as scouts or to lead an expedition--"

"What about the lower levels of this place?"

"I would be interested in contracting with your group to serve as consultants on how I--we--might go about better securing things down there and perhaps you might lend some assistance in regards to this Fungal Tyrant as well..."

Bujilli sat back in his over-stuffed chair. They were talking each other's language now. The Unchild was completely engaged and trying to negotiate the best possible deal for her people...after all those years of mocking those who had taken over her group and criticizing everyone else's efforts, it was her turn to show what she could do...show what Talzag could do, working through her imp-spawn.

He looked over at Leeja.

A slight nod to the door.

He quietly excused himself. Idvard and the Unchild were so engrossed in their negotiations that they didn't notice, or chose to ignore his departure.

She met him at the end of the hallway.

"I still need some new arrows...and I'd like to spend some time in Idvard's study like he offered last time..."

"That...sounds like a plan..." She smiled.

Hedrard's amulet pulsed three times.

"So; should we stay or should we go?"


What should Bujilli & Leeja do next?

You Decide!



* See Episode 44.


Synchronocitor Status: Fully Recharged.


What should they do now?

Should they go see Hedrard? Or go learn a few new spells? Or visit the Armory & Arsenal to re-equip themselves? Any other suggestions?

Things seem to be going pretty well at the moment, all things considered. Maybe someone would like to roll a Reaction Roll for the Unchild to see what her feelings are towards Idvard? (2d6 per LL p. 52)

Should Bujilli stick around to ratify any agreements that get made...or should he rely on the Unchild to handle things?

While they are here, it might be a good time to ask about the control amulet for the set of drones Idvard was supposed to provide to Bujilli.

They both have their own rooms here at the Keep, so they could get some sleep...

Whatever gets decided, we'll definitely need a few D20 rolls.

Feel free to ask questions or to discuss the situation in the comments. I'll do my best to respond to comments in a timely manner.

Let me know what you think they ought to do in the comments below, or via email and we'll resume things next week!

What do they do next?

You Decide!

Previous                            Next

Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six  |  Seven


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100 - 111)
Series Seven (112 - ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 120

Previously...
Bujilli stands before a war-herd of Grunters that have sworn themselves to him as a scintillating violet lance shrieks and howls in frustrated, thwarted rage that only he can hear...

Grunters are a harsh folk. Barbaric nomads who call no world home for very long, they do not remember where they began. The oldest bones and ashes and souls of their ancestor are lost; left behind on some nameless, abandoned, dead world thoroughly poisoned by fighting gasses, ravaged by a host of war-poxes and manufactured pestilence. They carry the marks and the lingering traces of the diseases that decimated their people, killed their world. They bear the pox-marks, the viral stigmata, the festering sores and lesions no shamaness-sow can heal; they embrace these things as honorable scars gained in combat...scars that pass on from generation to generation as the war their ancestors fled persists in tormenting them, twisting them, driving them onward.

Bujilli looked upon this rag-tag host of Grunters who have accepted Talzag as their Shamaness-Sow...and pledged themselves to him. 'Sow Killer' they called him. Head-Taker. Skull-thief. He was a legend to their kind after his time in Kallkendru, in the Blade Maze. They feared him; that was a bitter, slippery hold and not the best thing to rely upon. He knew how fear worked all too well. He'd learned from a master.  His uncle.

Fear was not the way to hold power over these things. They were savage, even cruel, but were also thinking, feeling beings. They were fighters now, with vestiges of a bastardized and degraded form of soldiery impressed upon them, perhaps imprinted deep within them. He wondered what it would be like if the Grunters, if these  Grunters, were somehow able to reclaim their heritage, to become warriors and soldiers and not simply rootless, aimless, marauding barbarians. They formed 'Legions' when they staked a claim on some territory. He grinned at the thought of a Legion of Grunters marching across the blasted and ruined territories of the Dead Worlds. They were an adaptive people, cunning, clever, quick to adopt new things if they offered an advantage in battle. Perhaps there was a way to re-direct these creatures, to put them on a path that was far more worthwhile than simple pillaging and rummaging around in the cold dirt...what if he could set them on a better course?

"Head Taker!" Talzag clomped back towards him with a cluster of six other Grunters in her wake; "The purple bullets have all been gathered-up as you commanded. They stained the leather and burlap sacks we used at first, so I had them all transferred to a stout wooded crate that is waxed inside, one of the crates that used to hold our chlorine bombs."

"Excellent. That should do very nicely to contain the vile things. The fragments will make highly toxic bullets...but they are toxic to handle at all times. They are each a sort of 'seed' for a Purple Cloud. It would be extremely foolish to use these things wantonly or recklessly."

"I will have the crate sealed and placed in the caged-wagon we use to haul our most dangerous weapons..."

"A good idea. I trust your people to know how to manage such dangerous weapons."

"You honor us--"

"I have faced your people in battle; I know what you are capable of and I've learned to respect your kind."

"As we've come to...respect you, Head Claimer."

"Talzag," Bujilli smiled and gripped the old sow by her shoulder; "You, and your people, have no need to fear me so long as you remain faithful and loyal. I would like to help your people find a suitable place to call your own; someplace where you can rebuild your society, reclaim your heritage..."

Talzag tilted her head and squinted at him in disbelief; "Why would you do this for your enemies?"

"We are not enemies, are we?"

She stared into his eyes, into his soul for the space of seven seconds then looked away; "No."

"Long ago I was led astray by bad advice; I ran afoul of DuKushKa's war-herd because I was led into a trap by a duplicitous green gem that whispered secrets and lies into my mind--"

"The Gem of Muktra? But I did not detect any sign of it--"

"I left it behind me."

"But it is a source of great power..."

"Only at a greater cost. The Gem seeks a way to return to Zalchis and it cannot be trusted. It deliberately led me into one conflict after another as it tried to find a suitable, pliable host that it could dominate and control and get to carry it back from whence it came."

"Perhaps another might have better luck with it..."

"I have found greater power without the Gem." He held up the violet lance meaningfully.

Talzag looked at the metallic lance in his hand and nodded. She was sorely tempted by the things that the Gem of Muktra was rumored to offer to its hosts...but the Gem was far away and there were no guarantees it would still be wherever it had been abandoned...and besides, she stood before a legendary being whom she knew carried tremendous power in his bones and soul. Talzag chose the power she saw arrayed before her over the nebulous promise of power she had no way to claim. At least not yet. There might be a way to claim both for herself. A scheme began to sprout within her skull and Talzag smiled; it wasn't a pretty sight.

"But will you share your power?"

"No."

She scowled as she nodded involuntarily to herself--it was exactly as she had expected. Sorcerers never shared their power, not in her experience.

"I intend to help you find your own power."

Talzag froze. She blinked. Scratched her jowls. It made no sense.

"What do you mean?"

"First we must get your people busy doing something productive, then I'm going to take you to meet a friend of mine. If you make a good impression on him, you may just gain all the power you can handle."

Talzag nodded. She wasn't certain what the Sow Slayer was hinting at, not exactly; but perhaps there was some way she might be able to turn all this to her advantage yet. It never once occurred to her that Bujilli might possibly mean exactly what he was saying.

"Do you have a map of these caverns?"

"No." She grunted in disdain. They had no need for any maps, not while they were still establishing their claim on this place.

"I see. Well then, you'd best set a crew of your best scouts and whomever can put together as accurate and complete a map as your people can manage right away. You're also going to want to re-secure your perimeter, set guards at critical junctions and set-up a regular, rotating patrol."

"But why? We're the only ones down here..."

"I very much doubt that. Look at it this way; you got in, so it stands to reason someone else might get in as well...and you're not going to want to have to fight-off a superior force that gets the jump on you from behind while you're getting things sorted out."

Talzag squealed in agreement and quickly got to work issuing orders. The war-herd surged into motion. If it is one thing Grunters know all too well, it's the need to defend their camps.

"Do you have a plan in mind for these creatures?" Leeja crossed her arms across her chest and watched the Grunter camp swirl into action all around them.

"I have the beginning of a plan, but it all depends on a lot of things that are out of my hands..."

"Such as?"

"Whether or not I can get the Grunters to work with Idvard and vice-versa...and how long I can keep the Grunters occupied so they don't waste time and resources in pointless squabbles and power-grabs..."

"They're Grunters. That's what they do."

"No; that's what they've been doing for a long, long time. They could do better, given the right guidance..."

"Better? Guidance? You've claimed them, made them serve you...but to what end?"

"This particular Adjacent World isn't truly dead, that's why Idvard was able to claim his Keep, why Bortho's people were able to survive, why the Grunters came her in the first place."

"So it's really more ruined than completely dead. I suspect it isn't for lack of trying."

"Do you remember what Gnosiomandus told us about the Dead Worlds?"

"Not particularly."

"Wermspittle is surrounded by hundreds, possibly thousands of Dead Worlds."

"So?"

"I want to set these Grunters out to explore and reclaim  some of those Dead Worlds."

"Is that a good idea? I mean..."

"Leeja--there are terrible things already out there growing and festering and taking over entire worlds, not just the Horde and the Purple Clouds or the Scarlet Plague or any of that. If someone doesn't start pushing back, the Horrors surrounding us will continue to proliferate until they overwhelm us, destroying everything, killing us all."

"But why these things?"

"We have to start somewhere."

"You're a fool." Zulli coughed fitfully as she sat up. Her eyes were amber-orange swirled with mossy green. Her lips were stained a deep purple from her one-time captor, the vaporous horror that had once taken her body as its unwilling host-vessel.



Meanwhile...
Beatrice skewered another homunculus. This one had three slavering jaws on three rudimentary, eye-less heads. It wasn't fully-formed so she knew she was getting closer to the source....




"Perhaps." Bujilli hunkered down beside the Vinkin Gaswerker; "You've had a rough time of it from what I can see. I was told that your people were immune to the poisons and influence of the Purple Clouds."

Zulli glared at Bujilli. He stared right back at her. She gave-in, nodded, closed her eyes, began to weep milky-white tears.

"They found a way to break your innate defenses down..."

"I was taken* by the Comprachicos**. They...did...painful...things to me." She shuddered in revulsion at the memory of what was done to her.

"Did they sell you to the Horde then?"

"No. They made me into a slave, an experiment, a toy for their clients. Their fleshwrights and organ-grinders worked on me for months, putting things that didn't belong inside me and making them take root and grow and become functioning, working parts of my body. They grew seven sets of lungs inside me. Gills taken from fungi and fish. A heart that came in a zinn-clad box they bartered away from some Butcher named Unfred. I remember that very vividly--the rest is something of a blur--but that I'll never be able to forget...or forgive."

"Unfred?" Leeja slitted her eyes as she studied the Vinkin girl more closely. She knew Unfred all too well herself. She suspected, but never could prove that he had been connected to the Butchers. She was doubly glad he was dead...or was he? He had accidentally overdosed on White Powder, perhaps he had arranged it all, allowed himself to be exposed deliberately...there were stories about those who somehow retained some semblance of their personality after undergoing the Vile Transformation.

"Do you know him?" Zulli looked up at Leeja suspiciously.

"I thought he was dead. But if he was connected with the Comprachicos or the Butchers, or both...well...there are worse things than being dead."

"They did bad things to you--why? To what end?"

"I was made to be able to breathe and to contain all sorts of poisonous gasses. They wanted me to serve as a vessel for alien, vaporous things that were more gas than flesh, things with inhuman, cold and calculating minds..."

"The Purple Clouds."

"No; something else, other things. They had made some sort of a deal with the Wall Guards stationed on the Inner Ramparts***. I was meant to serve them as a scout, being able to move about in an environment that quickly infiltrated their masks, got past their defenses. But instead I never reported back. I ran and I kept running. I fell through some sort of aperture...I think it might have been a Weak Point...and I found myself trapped in a buried labyrinth made up of half-flooded caves or rough hewn chambers covered with strange paintings all across the ceilings. I floated from one dimly luminous, echoing space to another until I was dragged under by a whirlpool. An underground river swept me out into a deep, deep canyon...some sort of oasis surrounded by bitter-black sand and caustic dust. The Purple Horde found me there..."

"Do you remember what the thing that was inside you made you do?" Leeja felt sorry for the girl. She knew what it was like to be an experimental subject. She also had a sneaking suspicion she knew whose heart had been in the box.

"Only vaguely. The thing wanted me to watch, to know what I was being used to make happen, but it was too poisonous, too toxic...it all feels like a garbled, distorted dream. One I'd just as soon forget. If I can."

"Do you have any idea why they sent you here? Why this place?" Bujilli knew it wasn't likely he'd get an answer, but he had to ask.

"Passage. They planned on using this place as a passage into Wermspittle--"

"Scheiss! This place is not on the maps. It's a back-door right into the heart of Wermspittle..."

"Talzag!" Bujilli bellowed for all he was worth. There wasn't any time to spare.

"Yes Head Claimer? I am here."

"Do you have anyone you can trust to watch over your people while you accompany me to meet the Lord of the Keep Above?"

"No. But I may have another option. Will we be gone long?"

"I cannot say. If we're lucky, you'll be able to return in a couple of hours...if not, then we might not ever return."

"Ah. Dire circumstances call for drastic measures. I have a spell well-suited to the occasion. Give me a few minutes to prepare--"

"Time is of the essence." Bujilli scowled, not certain if he liked what he saw within the Shamaness-Sow's aura. It was too similar to a spell he'd studied from his father's Little brown Journal. He had to trust that the old sow knew what she was up to...

"Do you want to watch?"

"No. Thank you." He had too good of an idea what she was going to do and didn't trust his stomach to bear up under the circumstances.

"I would." Leeja moved past him to accompany Talzag back to her nest-like jumble of filthy draperies and humped-up old carpets.

He reached out to Zulli, proffered his hand. She took it, tentatively, hesitantly.

"You're under contract to Idvard as a consultant..."

"Yes. I know. I didn't mean to...it was that thing inside me..."

"I'll talk to him. He's usually pretty reasonable. Are you inclined to throw your lot in with us, or are you going to head for the hills?"

"There's nowhere to run. We're surrounded by Dead Worlds...anywhere we go, they're probably already there, waiting patiently."

"They've had centuries to claim their domains out along the perimeter."

"Centuries. Longer. Time doesn't mean the same thing out there. It's broken. Fractured. Fragmented."

"I wonder how it all got that way..." Bujilli shifted his grip on the violet lance. For a moment he considered handing it over to Zulli, but he didn't quite trust her enough for that, not yet.

"It was a war...a war to end all wars..." She wobbled to her feet. He let go of her hand.

Talzag screamed. The entire camp went completely still. She shrieked again. Again. Weird after-image ripples swarmed about her sleeping area. Leeja cursed softly in some Underworld tongue he was untutored in. Talzag gasped, swore vehemently, began to laugh.

Bujilli looked over at the draperies, to where Leeja had gone in there with the old Sow...into her den. He would have rushed inside to confront the duplicitous sow, but he didn't want to abandon Zulli. He didn't trust her.

Leeja pushed back the drapery. Strings of bones and bits of metal and other things clattered and rattled as she emerged carrying a slightly bloodied bundle of rags that squirmed.

It was a baby Grunter. One that had Talzag's features. It pulled back the rags wrapped around it and poked its snout over to glare at Bujilli; "I will accompany you to meet the Lord of the Keep Above."

"Is...is Talzag..."

"I'm fine. I'll need a couple of hours to rest and recover--I lost a lot of blood. The spell I used worked, but the grimoire I copied it from did not provide any details. I will have to write down my notes while I recover..." Another hand, bloody with birth-gore, rudely threw aside the drapes to Talzag's nest. It was Talzag. She clomped over and examined the speaking, wrinkled and wizened infant in Leeja's arms.

"I will remain her with my people and oversee the defenses of this place, as you said. In the meanwhile, I will also accompany you to meet the Lord of the Keep Above. I can see everything this one sees, hear all she hears and can speak through her. We are not quite of one mind only, but she is newly born and will not be strong enough to sever the connection for some time."

"An interesting solution..."

"Spoken like one of the wombless." Talzag scoffed softly. She was pleased to have disgruntled the infamous Skull Thief.

"Mistress--Sow Slayer--Warriors approach from above!" One of the perimeter guards looked from one to the other, a yellow-metal fletched arrow sunk deep into his left shoulder.

"There's no time to lose! We have to reach Bortho and his people before they start dropping gas-bombs or worse on us!"

Leeja grabbed Bujilli by the shoulder; "That guard came from the wrong direction!"

Zulli snatched the violet lance from Bujilli's hand and rammed it through the guard's face with a sickening, all too wet squelch. Pale off-white mycellium-strands burst out of the guard's shuddering, juddering corpse...

"TYRANT!"


What should Bujilli & Leeja do next?

You Decide!



* We posted a random table of Takers previously. Perhaps someone would like to roll to determine which group abducted Zulli?
** We've given a brief overview of the Comprachicos...and will have more  details to share very soon.
*** We discussed the Inner Ramparts a while back. A more extensive set of encounter tables, scenario seeds and the like are on the way. 


Synchronocitor Status: (1) Day to Recharge.


What should they do now?

First and foremost we need to roll Initiative for 1) Bujilli, 2) Leeja, 3) Talzag(elder), 4)Talzag (younger), 5) the camp, and 6) The Fungal Tyrant that has been lying in wait for a few months now after most of his other spore-drones were destroyed by these Grunters after their sneak attack as seen in Episode 44.

There is a 50% chance that the Tyrant possessing the spore-saturated cadaver recognizes and remembers Bujilli & Leeja.

If someone wants to roll for the Fungal Tyrant's Reaction once it recognizes Bujilli & Leeja in the midst of its enemies, go for it. [See LL. p.52, roll 2d6]

Zulli has slipped on the muck near the guard and is prone. The violet lance has completely impaled the spore-possessed head of the abdead guard. There is a base 40% chance that the cadaver is slowed down for the next 1d4 Turns due to the lance.

If the Tyrant recognizes Bujilli & Leeja (Combination of the % roll and the Reaction Roll above), it might try to negotiate rather than mindlessly, pointlessly attack...or it might attempt to do the most damage possible and go for the most important or the most potentially useful target, perhaps trying to take the 'baby' hostage or going after Bujilli directly, or something else--it's up to the readers to decide.

I'd like to determine how far away Bortho and his strike team is right now. Let's roll 3d6 and let the result determine how many minutes away he is from this spot. He'll have 4d4 fighters with him and Zutissa will have 4d4 fighters with her in a back-up team. Idvard will have an observation mechanism of some sort with each of the two teams.

I had hoped to get them back to the Keep in order to confront the Cuckoo and see what was going on with Shael, but things got going and this seemed like a good spot to end the episode. We'll try to get back to Shael and her new 'friend' next time...providing something else doesn't interrupt things like a left-over spore-soaked abdead Grunter stirred up by the renewed patrols...

We also need to decide about Hedrard's Amulet and whether or not this is a good time to connect with her...but that can wait until next time.

Feel free to ask questions or to discuss the situation in the comments. I'll do my best to respond to comments in a timely manner.

Let me know what you think they ought to do in the comments below, or via email and we'll resume things next week!

What do they do next?

You Decide!

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Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six  |  Seven


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100 - 111)
Series Seven (112 - ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

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