Bujilli stared at the flaccid brain floating within an ovoid shell before him. He could sense no obvious means of perception or communication. The thing seemed inert. Almost as if it were asleep. As much as anything that hovered above the floor in a translucent shell with no obvious sorcerous means of support could be said to be asleep or inert.
He disliked the brain. It didn't seem right. He was loathe to interfere with it, even to try to examine it--perception often stirred things up, especially the perceptions of a sorcerer. It was a fundamental building-block of sorcerous practice. The act of observation was in fact an interaction.
Bujilli averted his eyes.
No sense waking up sleeping disembodied brains.
He quickly examined his surroundings.
There were Transveyances on either flanking wall. Both looked intact and undamaged, but then such things were extremely durable. It was the traps and nasty surprises left behind by other explorers that one had to be more concerned about.
Bujilli wobbled on his feet. He wasn't prepared to go jumping through a portal or gate to find himself hip deep in alligators or whatever those things are called that prey upon the homeless in the sewers in Jhadikanthor, the so-called Holy City.
He laughed. A short, sharp bark of mingled disgust and rueful humor.
He had not enjoyed his time in Jhadikanthor.
Bujilli slipped down onto one knee. The Gloomlight popped and was gone.
He was left in the dark. He was in a bad way.
Bujilli sneezed. Blood spattered across the floor. His blood. He almost laughed. Almost.
The tulwar went back into its carrier on the fifth try.
His hands were shaking. Vision blurring.
Bujilli stumbled over to the wall. Next to the opening he had come in through. He slumped down against the wall and slid over just a bit, to be out of the line of sight of anyone or anything that might come through the silently flickering portcullis.
The dust he stirred-up made him sneeze again. More blood. This time it throbbed. His head hurt.
Bujilli fumbled around in his pack.
Eventually, finally, he took a sip of Gapf. The bitter herbal liqueur he had liberated from his Uncle's private stocks burned delightfully down his throat and warmed his belly. It didn't have any real healing properties, but it made him feel better.
A clean rag. A patch of someone's shirt he had lifted off of a clothesline back in...Jhadikanthor. Hah. Yes. Jhadikanthor. He smiled as though it was the height of good humor. The cloth was soft, ripped easily, and once wadded-up helped him to staunch the bleeding.
Another slug of Gapf.
He re-drew his tulwar. Set it behind him so it was within easy reach, but mostly out of sight, just in case. He placed the phurba in front of him. No ghost would cross that thing willingly.
More Gapf. A nibble of some compressed meal-cake. There wasn't much left. He'd need to hunt some meat soon. But first he needed some rest.
He leaned back against the wall. The bleeding had mostly stopped. The rag was mostly dry now. A good sign. No more new blood. He hated the idea of sitting around in a place like this with the scent of fresh blood in the air. But what else could he do?
He replaced his meager rations. His hand brushed against the Little Brown Journals. For a moment he considered looking for some sort of help in one of those booklets. But no. There was no point. Those spells came at a price. He'd best reserve them for extreme situations, unless he actually found some time to study them once and for all. He hated the idea of burning-up the pages to cast a spell he did not know. It was the kind of thing a stupid child would do. An amateur's profligacy. He was not new to this sort of thing. He had been trained better. By worse.
Bujilli stifled a snort. Mostly. Then he thought about the spells that the spirit trapped within the Green Gem had taught him. Essential Protections, the spirit had called them. The sorts of things one would need in order to survive in the place that the Gem wanted him to go. Where it wanted to return.
Bujilli had no interest in serving as a courier for the Gem any longer.
But the spells...
Oneiric Bubble. That one would help. It would be an effort, but he could manage it. He hoped.
Bujilli took his time. He assumed the deep trance his Uncle had worked long and hard to make sure Bujilli could perform even when being pelted with snow or doused with buckets of freezing river water. It was easy to get into the trance. Far too easy. That worried him, for a moment, but then he let that go--there was nothing for it but to continue on. No turning back.
He relaxed. His breathing deepened. Slowed. His hands moved slowly, methodically. The forms were observed. The patterns of light and shadow constructed in four dimensions and the spell settled upon Bujilli like a comforting shell. It reminded him of the shell. The shell encasing the floating brain.
Then everything went black.