Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 35


Previously...
Bujilli woke up wounded, bandaged and being dragged through backstreets and allies on a make-shift travois. There was a sphere of darkness surrounding him, presumably cast by whomever was dragging him around. Gonnes could be heard in the near distance. Then a shot nearly struck Bujilli. The travois got caught on some projection or mound of compacted garbage and tipped over. It was Unfred pulling the thing. Bujilli could see the sign over the only unlocked door in the alley, the place where Unfred was trying to take him--a Butcher Shop...
BANG!

The gonnes were coming closer. No doubt about it now. There were at least two of them. Bujilli wasn't sure if they were shooting at one another, Unfred or both. The travois fell away from Unfred's hands. They were gooey and strips of melting flesh stuck to the poles like warm string cheese.

Bujilli looked at Unfred. Really looked. The big man was sweating profusely, even more than his labors should have caused, outrageously more. The sweat was becoming milky. His skin glistened and was growing translucent. Greasy. Liquifying.

It reminded him of how Lemuel had transformed* due to his abuse of the Hard Candy.

Bang!

Unfred lurched forwards from the impact of the shot. A large section of his back began to slowly peel away from his ribs and spine. He wheezed wetly and bent down to retrieve one of the travois poles. With a vicious jerk he tore the pole loose and snapped off the end to make a crude weapon. His eyes burned with baleful malice as he came at Bujilli.

Hand on tulwar, Bujilli quickly looked around the alley. It was narrow. Strewn with garbage. The walls on either side were rough and irregular, easy to climb, if he had half a chance. He flexed his arm. The wound was healing fast. There was only a slight stiffness and that would pass. He'd had worse. Recently. He considered his spells. Just trying to inventory his options gave him a splitting headache. He could force it, cast something low, mean and messy...but it would cost him dearly and he did not like the idea of passing out or seriously injuring himself this close to a Butcher Shop, especially with a running gonne fight going on around him.

He looked at Unfred. The big man was beyond the point of no return. He was transforming into a Loathsome Mass. It was just a matter of time. And not much of it either.

Bujilli smirked. Rose from his crouch. Flexed his muscles to test things out quickly, then he broke into a run. Straight at Unfred. At the last moment he ducked, tumbled and brought himself up behind the lumbering hulk of rapidly dissolving brutishness. Unfred turned to face Bujilli. His left leg stayed stuck in-place. Unfred didn't seem to notice.

Not much point in jabbing, stabbing or hacking someone who doesn't notice when they've lost a leg. He took his hand off the tulwar. It wasn't going to be much use. Blocking or parrying the pole would be a big mistake--Unfred had too much muscle mass. Contact of any sort would be a mistake. Bujilli had no intention of getting entangled with Unfred...his memory of what had happened with Lemuel was still vividly fresh in his mind. Like a still-bleeding wound. For a moment he thought he could almost hear Lemuel crying.

The good thing was that Unfred was now between Bujilli and the shooters.

The bad thing was Bujilli was now between Unfred and the door of the Butcher Shop.

He avoided Unfred's increasingly clumsy swipes, swings and stabs with the snapped-off pole.

/Machine/ He called upon his Counsel; /What is my best way out of this alley? Which way should I go?/

In response to his direct query, the Counsel overlaid a panoramic display of the immediate area over his normal vision. There were at least three moving objects coming around the corner, blocking off the other end of the alley. He couldn't tell where the other shooter, the one up along the rooftops, had gotten to--

Unfred nearly gutted Bujilli with a wild lunge.

He back-stepped and just barely managed to avoid the splintery end of the pole.

For a moment he considered running up to one of the few doorways along either side of the alley and trying to force the lock. But this was Wermspittle. Anyone who kept a door onto an alley this close to a Butcher Shop either had incredibly strong locks, wards or other defenses...or they didn't need them. Not the best option.

Bujilli spat in disgust. Then he leaped to grab ahold of the first projection he thought might hold his weight. And he climbed. He climbed fast. The way that only a starved and desperate half-almas can climb when sufficiently motivated.

Spak!

The pole split down the middle. It missed Bujilli's leg by only a fraction of an inch. He could feel the splinters flying off of the thing as it broke.

He climbed.

Six stories up.

He found the eaves clotted with rotting filth and muck, but they held as he clambered up and over. The slates were rough, pitted and scored but stable.

Bujilli sprawled for just a moment. To catch his breath. The climb had not been particularly demanding, but his system was still fighting off some sort of infection or poison.

In mute confirmation the Counsel etched into his bones showed him the image of his bloodstream and tiny white particles that were being enveloped and expelled from his body one after another. His body was learning to resist and reject the effects of White Powder...and all the myriad distillation and derivatives of the nasty stuff. He knew now that he had been poisoned. Most of the effect was in his lungs. something he had breathed-in. Some sort of vapor or gas or dust.

Yes. He remembered talking to Leeja, then a cloud. A billowing white cloud. It had filled the room. Unfred had ambushed them with the stuff. But somehow he had either miscalculated or botched the job and dosed himself even more than anything he had managed to inflict upon them. A serious, costly mistake.

He was tired. Bujilli closed his eyes. Just for a moment.

It would be so easy to just lie there and sleep. And die.

Bujilli rolled into a prone position. Quickly he spotted some likely looking cover, a crumbling chimney, and slithered over to it quickly, quietly, carefully.

Someone screamed. It sounded like they were falling. It ended abruptly.

Bang!

Something slid messily down a steep section of the roof-top only a few yards away from Bujilli. It left a streak of  blood behind as it slipped over the edge and fell to the alley below.

/Machine,/ Bujilli began to ask Counsel for some idea of what was going on around him. Then he spotted another climber. They were coming up after him.

He wished now that he had brought along his bow after all. Again.

Instead he would have to improvise. He drew out his phurba. Usually, he tried to carry a pair of disposable daggers that could be used-up at any moment, either as impromptu traps or to jam a door or whatever. But he did not have any extra daggers. He had hoped to pick a couple up from a local merchant, but never had the chance. Another mistake.

He looked at the phurba in the soft moonlight. It was a beautiful bit of workmanship. Hand-forged. Inlaid with topaz and turquoise. It was a shame to throw it away. but it would be a bigger shame to carry it into death without using it. He had learned a harsh lesson from having been overly attached to his very first knife. It had been a crude piece of silver tableware that he had stolen from his uncle and hand-sharpened on a rock in secret. That knife had very nearly gotten him killed. But it had taught him the value of non-attachment to objects.

The would-be attacker heaved themself over the eaves. It was a gangly boy with matted hair and too-long nails. He locked eyes with Bujilli. Red depths of hunger and desperation and something else...something even more disturbing than simple madness swirled and crashed like waves in that boy's eyes.

Bujilli threw his phurba.

The boy lurched. Slid. His face a mask of puzzlement, he lost his grip and fell off of the roof.

He landed badly. But there would be no vengeful spirit. Only the lingering memory of those too-red eyes.

Bujilli sank back against the chimney. He disliked killing. But he had an even deeper aversion to being killed.

Showing compassion in this place had opened him up to attacks, but had he not done what he had done, he would not have made the friends he had made, nor been granted entrance to the Academy. Anyone could kill or be killed, but in Wermspittle very few people ever tried to do the right thing any more. It was such a radical concept that it had earned him no few enemies. but he was learning how to deal with that sort of thing as well.

Skitch.

Scrape.

He quickly surveyed the area around him. Someone was approaching. they were trying to be stealthy, but broken slates, sagging timbers and other things like that made it difficult to remain completely silent.

Bujilli considered his options. He was still not ready to cast a spell, unless absolutely necessary. He loosened the tulwar. He might not get a chance to get close enough to use the blade, but then that was probably the very thought going through the mind of his remaining would-be attacker. Bujilli smiled grimly. He knew a few tricks. He might yet get out of this situation. He'd faced gonnes and those who fought behind them before. They could be beaten. He'd done it.

"Bujilli?"

Leeja. It was Leeja.

His heart skipped a beat.

Was she friend or foe?

What was she doing here?

How--

The wriggly strands of white hair wrapped around his fingers tugged lightly. Insistently.

He took a gamble.

"I'm here." He waited. Poised to move, to attempt to run to the next outcropping, that other chimney or to leap across the alley. He thought he could make it. Maybe.

"You got the last one. We can go now."

"What happened?"

"Don't you remember?" Leeja was walking confidently across the roof-tiles directly towards him now.

"Only vaguely. Unfred...he poisoned me, us."

"Yes. He did. but neither of us are cut-out for White Powder addicts, are we Bujilli?" He recalled her golden irises, her billowing white hair, her talons. Leeja was not just some girl who had come to this place to get away from whatever she had left behind her. She was something...different.

"I guess not. Are you immune to the stuff?" Bujilli gripped the tulwar. He considered which spells he might be able to cast without too severe a strain. He remembered that Voorish Sign hurt Leeja before. He might be able to cast that with enough force to break free. Maybe. But he was out on the rooftops, gods only knew where in Wermspittle and he had no idea how to get back to the Academy.

"No. It just doesn't bother me overly much is all. I blame my mother." Her voice hissed. Anger? Disgust? Something else?

"So you are unharmed?" He examined the tiles around him. The ones to the right looked fractured, weakened. He'd prefer to avoid placing his weight on them. If possible.

"For the most part. I'm famished, tired and one of the bastards shot me in the leg, but I'll be fine. After I eat."


Are all the other would-be attackers really gone?

Should Bujilli stand his ground or flee?

Is Leeja friend or foe?
Should he cast Voorish Sign?
Should he give her a chance to prove her intentions?

Someone eliminated at least two of his would-be attackers...perhaps Leeja really is looking out for Bujilli after all?

She did follow him.
She did find him.
That is her hair writhing around his fingers.

Maybe...
Just maybe...
Leeja could be an ally.

But just in case...
That weakened spot in the roof might serve as a make-shift trap of sorts...if he can maneuver her towards it...but is that a good idea?

Truth and Consequences.
Looks like we'll be getting a bit of both next episode...

What should Bujilli do next?

You Decide!


Previous                                                        Next

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


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-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

15 comments:

  1. I don't think he has much choice but to trust her now. They should get the hell out of there.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have to agree - I think Leeja has basically decided to side with Bujilli, and given that her boss is a pile of evil slime at this point, she's unemployed - which seems a bad place to be in Wermspittle. Perhaps Bujilli should remind her of the fact that Unfred is dead horribly and suggest that they both return to the hag. There Bujilli can see if the old lady is able to explain a few things and/or Leeja.

    Ultiamtely maybe work out a henchperson agreement with Leeja - like a percentage share of treasure or a straight retainer fee. If not with Bujilli perhaps help her get a job with someone who is Bujilli's ally.

    Also take a peek and see if that knife is recoverable - cause it sounded nice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and the phurba could be recovered, but doing so will require climbing down to the alley below and grabbing it before someone or something claims it first. It is very do-able, but it would have to be done immediately.

      Delete
  3. Bujilli should take Leeja's gestures at face value, and trust her for a while. Find a safe place where he can rest and heal over night - maybe get a room at a tavern, or two adjoining ones. I think he should not return to the academy (or his dorm specifically) until daytime and after he has had a long night's rest.

    Bujilli should have a frank conversation with Leeja. Thank her for her aid. Ask her what kind of relationship with him SHE desires. Leeja's episodic predatory-seductive behaviors may be survival instincts based on species-being, but may also be due to having a long history of fairly exploitative or at least quid pro quo exchanges with human males (and maybe females for all we know).

    Bujilli has had his own negative/exploitative relationships with others such as his Uncle. So he "gets" why survival behaviors happen, and probably will have a clearer perspective on them than most Wermspittle locals can have. They are too imbricated in those relationships. So, time for something new, if Leeja wants it. Whether it is an intimate relationship, an alliance, or an employment relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm not so sure he can trust her yet, at least not at all times, and this may be one such time. He does still know next to nothing about her after all.

    Maybe he should be open with her as to the doubts he has, and warn her to keep a distance while he pulls himself together after the pursuit and procedure? He can be entirely honest when he says he needs to be sure of everything and everyone in this strange part of a strange new world. Stalling for time now might give her time to cool off if the problem is as simple as something like a blood lust after dispatching the would-be attackers, and even if she has bad intentions he has time to get the confirmation. If it looks dangerous, he always has the threat of Voorish Sign.

    Gibbering Mouther's suggestion of doing an open deal is another way to go, even as early as this, if it looks she might be motivated by that kind of thing too.

    If she is on his side, she ought to understand his thinking and may be able to make a meaningful gesture to demonstrate it. Could he have the Counsel run an analysis of her motivations, possibly on the basis of a fuller analysis of her nature, maybe through the contact with her hair? It would be reasonable to let her know he's doing this of course, and get her permission in advance, assuming he felt he could based on the signals he was getting as to how she might respond.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Opening up to Leeja would be a new thing for her; no one has ever done such a thing before. It would disorient her, if nothing else. He does still have Voorish Sign and you may be onto a good way to open up a dialogue that could then lead into an offer of a retainer fee. That would flow nicely.

      RE: Counsel. Yes. Such an analysis will be confusing until more is observed of her reactions and responses. Right now the Counsel does not have enough to work-up anything reliable beyond very vague outlines. It will begin to analyze the writhing hairs and it will try to ascertain what manner of creature Leeja really is, as best it can.

      Do you want Bujilli to tell Leeja point blank that he is doing this?

      Delete
    2. I think that's down to Bujilli, to what feels right in the context and as the situation develops. I don't envy him the position he's in.

      Delete
  5. I like Porky's ideas. Here is another suggestion. Can the Counsel create some sort of abeyance field that makes it difficult for Leeja to get too close to Bujilli and drain him without his consent? Maybe that would also facilitate coming to terms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RE: Counsel. Yes. Specify the parameters and Counsel will work on it. Affecting physical thing sis more demanding than simply doing sensory analysis, especially in the attenuated atmosphere of this place. Counsel is fairly limited to the reserves Bujilli carries personally...
      Of course he might consider ways of acquiring more resources to work with, but most of the techniques involved resemble various forms of energetic vampirism, more or less.

      Creating any sort of barrier would deepen distrust. This is a delicate situation. It could lead to a great opportunity, or to a terrible enmity...

      Delete
  6. I like Gibbering Mouther's plan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This does seem to be the consensus so far.
      A few more dice rolls and we're just about set for Thursday...

      Delete
    2. Time's getting on so here's a batch of five, which I think is the number Entirely Too Perky usually rolls - I can't see the roller widget, so I'm rolling analogue.

      19, 12, 11, 12, 9

      Delete
  7. @Trey: Yeah, getting out of there is a good idea. The fight made enough noise to attract a bit of attention. As to trusting Leeja, it might help to clarify a few things quickly...like not eating Bujilli. Just a thought.

    @Gibbering Mouther: Right on the money--Leeja does not have a lot of good options. Her former boss is dissolving and dribbling away down the local storm sewer. If Bujilli offered her a deal of some sort, like promising her a retainer fee as you suggest, that might just cleat up a few things. Whatever happens next, it would be good to have someone reliable watching his back, like when he sleeps next...

    ReplyDelete
  8. @John Till: Excellent advice, and a good insight as well--Leeja could be a strong ally, if Bujilli can establish a few ground rules. Following Gibbering Mouther's suggest vis-a-vis some sort of Retainer Fee would be a great start. She has a lot to lose, so giving her something to gain could work wonders.

    You comments about Leeja's backstory are very close to the mark. Her experience has been less than wonderful up to now. There's an opportunity to break that chain of past associations and to establish a new direction here, just as you suggest. It would be wise to begin with a employment offer before jumping ahead into something that might potentially be disastrous for both parties, at least until they are both ready for such a thing as a 'relationship.' They are, if anything, 'birds of a feather,' in quite a few ways. Perhaps they will be able to forge a good bond between them, like say an odd-couple sort of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser meets Wermspittle.

    Like Rick(Bogart) said; 'I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.'

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like Bujilli negotiating a business relationship with Leeja (he needs a guard and a guide) and then finding a safe place for him to rest and for them both to eat. Leeja might know someplace off-campus, or a way back to Hedrard's that won't attract too much attention. I agree that he should not go back to his dorm room until he's rested and prepared. Leeja might also know where he could purchase some throwing daggers.

    Rooftop negotiations should not take too long, though. Whoever Unfred was taking Bujilli to might come looking to see what they can salvage.

    @Porky: Thanks, I usually do roll 5d20s. :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comment. We value your feedback and appreciate your support of our efforts.

ShareThis