Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 38


Previously...
Bujilli and Leeja fell through a rotten roof into a private library. Leeja has been seriously injured. The clandestine librarian (a Triloo) has sent Bujilli to go get help--the hole he and Leeja have made in his roof is sure to attract a local gang of harpies who like nothing quite so much as mutilating old books, except maybe for murder or torture...and now they have a chance at all three of their favorite things in one fell swoop.
Leeja screamed.

The Ceiling collapsed. Books and debris rained down. Dust swirled everywhere. A dead harpy fell down through the newly formed hole from above.

The Four Students pushed out into the wrecked hallway. Three of them ran for the stairs and headed up to Idvards' library. The one with the delicate mask and elegant gloves held back. She looked at Bujilli. Her eyes were large, expressive, beautiful. And she knew it.

"Something is wrong--" A bolt of violet energy evaporated her eyes, her face, her head, her shoulders. Steam curled from the gaping ruin of her exposed torso. Her body collapsed to the floor with a wet gushing.

Bujilli sighed, more out of sheer exhaustion than disgust. He'd seen worse things, being raised around demons and sorcerers. Reflexively he slipped back behind the door frame and quickly spun a Shield spell into effect before him. Blood trickled from his nose. He didn't have a lot of energy left to waste fighting some sort of sorcerous battle, especially not with something that could lob around violet rays that evaporated matter at the slightest touch.

The Four Students had been attempting to summon something...no...not quite...not summon. They had been attempting to embed someone's spirit into the crystal skull they left behind in their haste to assist Idvard, the Triloo librarian.

Bujilli knew a few things about crystal skulls. None of it of very much use right at this moment. He looked up at the gaping hole in the ceiling. A harpy was staring down at him from the hole in the roof above the new one. She was loading an arquebus.

He reached for his bow. Then he remembered leaving it behind in his room. He had only intended, only planned on checking into a few things at the Academy. He hadn't wanted to get tangled up in things, or look like a rube walking around with a bow on his back. Now he wished he'd made a better choice.

Tired, hungry, bloodied, dirty and well past his bad-time, Bujilli was in his element. He closed his eyes. The words came to him before he even consciously thought of what needed to be said. He smiled coldly then rolled his head back and let the voices echo from his throat in a torrent of Aklo.

Vile, smoldering gibberish erupted from the room behind him.

Bujilli readied himself. He'd only get one chance at this.

The Crystal Skull floated out of the doorway. It was looking up. At the harpy. A violet ray nearly split her into two sections.

Bujilli struck from behind. His hand-axe struck sparks from the back of the Crystal Skull.

He'd used the backside of the head. Blunt and hammer-like it fractured the mineral matrix. The pent-up energies of the entrapped sorcerer did the rest.

Violet flames leaped up from the Crystal Skull. It wobbled in mid-air. Cracks raced around and around the thing as they penetrated through each overlapping layer that had been built-up over centuries of patient deposition by unnatural forces. The Skull faced Bujilli. It screamed obscenities in a dozen dead languages then fell to the floor in a jumble of wickedly sharp fragments that glinted evilly.

Bujilli considered replacing his hand-axe, but thought better of it. He thought about renewing his Shield spell but just couldn't muster the enthusiasm necessary. He was done playing around.

He stopped himself. Looked down at the crystal pieces. They were just lying there on the slightly scorched carpet. He looked at his hand-axe. A smile flickered across his thick lips. It only took him a few hacks with the blade and he rolled-up a section of carpet and stuffed the fragments into his pack for later. Waste not, want not. He'd read that in one of his uncle's books.

Getting up from his knees took more effort than he had counted on. But he pushed himself. He had to get upstairs. Leeja needed him. It was too damned quiet.

It took forever to get up the stairs. He slipped and fell twice. Finally, he used the hand-axe as a sort of cane to help haul himself back up to the attic and Idvard's now-ruined library.

He needn't have bothered.

There were three more dead harpies draped clumsily across the wreckage of crushed bookshelves and the dangling remnants of the rotten roof.

"Where's Yulisse?" demanded the tall one. He held a galvanic-lantern mounted on a spear-shaft. It smoldered sinisterly. It was also pointed at Bujilli's mid-riff.

"She's dead. Your Crystal Skull hit her with a violet ray before she could do anything."

"Dead? No. I don't believe it."

"She can't be..." husked the other girl.

"You're lying--"

"No. I'm not. Go look for yourself if you like." He waved towards the stairs with his hand-axe; "And point that damn thing in another direction." He stared into the tall guy's eyes. The student blinked and lowered his weapon.

Two of them ran downstairs. The girl screamed in horror. The boy retched.

Bujilli stood there staring at the lantern-wielder. His left knee wobbled slightly. He looked around for some sign of Idvard, for Leeja.

"Where's my friend?" he shifted his grip on the hand-axe. At this range he was all but certain he could split the kid's skull before they would even realize it was all over. His uncle had forced him to practice just that very move for dozens of years until it was all but instinct. Words fail, spells run out, bullets and arrows get used-up, but a good blade keeps on working and a well-placed hand-axe could do wonders for calming down an irate sorcerer.

"They're back there," he pointed; "She's in a bad way."

"No shit." Bujilli pushed past the boy. Idvard had promised to do what he could for Leeja. He checked the edge of his hand-axe. It was still keen. Even after hacking apart a murderous mass of shale the ancient weapon had retained it's edge. It was a good weapon. A good complement to the phurba he had lost back on the roof-top. He regretted losing that phurba. It had saved his life a couple of times. He grinned--pity the fool who thought that uppity blade would serve just anyone. It had taken him the better part of a month to negotiate terms with the thing...

"There you are." Nodded Idvard.

Leeja was asleep on a rough cot. The shard of roofing tile was gone. Her thigh was wrapped in heavy bandages. But she was breathing. Alive.

Bujilli felt a wave of relief wash over him.

scrape

He dropped to one knee and brought the hand-axe up with a sweeping back-handed arc.

It connected.

The galvanic-torch-spear clattered to the floor. It had barely missed. As it was Bujilli's hair was singed across the back of his head.

Bujilli lurched up from his crouch and jerked the axe free. He turned to watch the tall student crumple to the floor with a surprised expression on his face.

One more smooth swing and the kid's skull was split wide open. Blood spattered. The body spasmed involuntarily. The skin...writhed...

Bujilli snatched-up the galvanic-torch-spear and jammed it deep into the ruined head of the ambush-inclined former student. Flesh smoldered. Werms hissed. Popped. Juices ran. Bujilli did not stop until the body was incinerated into a foul gray and inert ash.

"Korran was a host? We never knew. It makes sense now..." The Other Girl, the one with blue hair, stood there. Watching the mess on the floor that had once been one of her...friends? Co-conspirators? Ritual-partners?

"He thought he could strike from behind..."

"Yeah. We saw him make his move as we came back upstairs. You were right about Yulisse." The remaining student, his face a mess of acne and myriads of nicks from attempting to shave such a rugged countenance held his hands out. Empty. He did not mean to attack, at least not immediately, not with any physical weapon.

Bujilli bent down and wiped his hand-axe on the carpet. It slipped back into the loop on his belt in a motion that would make a dedicated gonne-fighter jealous. He gripped the torch-spear. It made a good thing to lean on. He was so damned tired.

"So you watched your friend try to kill me from behind and said nothing?" Bujilli was too tired to even bother making it an accusation.

"No. We didn't have a chance to do anything before you had already taken care of things."

"I never liked the creep. Now I know why..." The girl scowled at the mound of ashes.

"Your friends are dead. The harpies look like they're either dead or driven off and if they're anything like the ones I grew up hunting, they're not going to be in too much of a hurry to come back. Not until they've worked-up some sort of a plan or convinced themselves that they can do better next time."

"Yeah. Cowards."

"Not cowards--scavengers. Opportunists." He glanced at Idvard; "What are you going to do about your roof? They'll be back sooner rather than later if you leave it open like that." he gestured to the gaping hole he and Leeja had fallen through.

"I'm a librarian, not a carpenter." Idvard looked about the place. Stared at the human-shaped mound of smoldering ashes that used to be Korran. The ruined shelves. The scattered books. The dead harpies. The gaping hole in the roof and the floor both. It began to rain.

Bujilli was almost tempted to laugh. Almost.

Idvard swore fluently and effusively in a language Bujilli had only heard once before. Deep below Kalkendru.  He'd gotten lost within a bladed-maze. Hunted by snuffling, flatulent pig-things in the fetid darkness. He looked at Idvard thoughtfully. The voice wasn't the same. Too high-pitched, not enough bass. But the words, the gutteral spitting-sounds were unmistakable.

The librarian moved over to the far wall, the one that separated his rooms from the other half of the attic.

He extended his spindly arms and began to slap, tap and wipe his blunt fingers across the dingy Yellow Wallpaper. It peeled away like a thing alive, revealing a passage that did not lead to the other set of rooms, or at least if it did, not the exact same rooms one would expect to encounter on this side of the Weak Point.

The rooms on the otherside of the Weak Point were not exactly opposite, not like the simulacra-spaces behind certain mirrors, but just enough different to feel odd. Not bad. Just different.

Idvard glared at Bujilli as though all this was somehow his fault. then the librarian moved over in front of the two remaining (surviving) students. He held out a purse. The boy reached out to take the money.

"I need you two to go and bring Urmigan here right away. Make sure that you fully explain the extent of the damage to him and that I want it repaired immediately. No excuses. No negotiations. Get him back here before too much more rain ruins my books," he glared at Bujilli, "and I'll make it worth your while."

The purse disappeared. The two students ran down the stairs.

Idvard move into the newly revealed space on the otherside of the Weak Point.

Bujilli looked down at Leeja. One of the Slasher spawnlings was perched upon her shoulder. Keeping guard.

He laughed. Then he collapsed into oblivion next to his friend...


Leeja is recovering from her wounds. And she may have found a new pet...

Bujilli has just crashed, having pushed himself well past his limits.

Idvard is annoyed, but not entirely hostile. Not exactly.

Maybe they can work out some sort of a deal with Idvard?

The immediate threats seem to be resolved...at least until the harpies decide to attack again.

The surviving two students seem relieved to be out from under Yulisse's domination and neither of them trusted or even much liked Korran.

Will they find Urmigan in time?

Will the roof get fixed before too many more of Idvard's books get ruined?

What is the Triloo librarian up to over on the otherside?

How long will Bujilli get to rest before the work-crew arrives and he and Leeja need to get moving again?

Should they take a look at Idvard's back-up location?

Should they head to the Curiosity Shop like they had planned previously?

Or do they need to take a break...maybe get some food and stay out of trouble for a bit?

Where should they go from here?

You Decide!


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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

11 comments:

  1. Collapsing in strange territory after being ambushed sounds like a string indication that rest is absolutely required.

    Idvaard may be a good person to know, and it wouldn't hurt to make some sort of arrangement to help him secure the books. But I'd be very cautious about trusting him/it after that bit of foreign language without knowing more about Bujilli's past encounter and Idvaard's history.

    So far I've been a fairly poor judge of character on Wermspittle, however.

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    1. Bujilli hit his limit, even with the on-going help of the Counsel etched into his bones, he still has physical limitations and there are consequences of pushing things too far...like collapsing in strange surroundings. Of course, this being Wermspittle, it could have been worse.

      Idvard has responded mostly decently, so far. He's plenty unhappy about the roof getting caved-in and his books being ruined or tossed about, but he seems like a person who always has a back-up plan...and in this instance it is a doozy.

      Bujilli will be asking about the language-thing. Now that you've pointed it out, he's burning up with curiosity.

      As to judging character in Wermspittle...it's difficult on a good day and there are few, if any good days in this place. Not everyone is truly themselves, others are too much themselves, and some don't even know who or what they might be...there are possessed-types, ghosts, revenants, liches, shadows, simulacra, humuncoli, dopplers, and a lot of others wandering through this place. Discerning motives, malevolent machinations and ulterior schemes takes skill, spells and a bit of luck...and even then it might not be entirely reliable as a lot of this sort of thing can and does switch on the fly...or with the roll of a die...

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  2. That said, the two remaining students may be helpful contacts as well. Bujilli has some powerful friends at the Academy, but some help or eyes among the student body would also be useful.

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    1. The two remaining students are very relieved to be out form under the influence/domination of the other two. They are also not affiliated with the crying girl who seems to be behind some of the attacks directed at Bujilli of late. They also consider there to be a debt between them and Bujilli for his revealing the truth of the matter and releasing them from their impending thralldom to the wermic host...

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  3. Working out a deal with Idvard is probably a good idea, once Bujilli's conscious again. An off-campus contact / resource would be helpful, and Idvard seems to have resources beyond his books.

    If Leeja and Bujilli heal up fairly well during their rest then I'd say go to Schroedinger & Caves. If they need more rest and food (and if staying where they are isn't an option) then they should go to the street cafe with the chocolate first and rebuild their strength.

    They should not follow Idvard into his back-up location without an invitation from him. It could be interpreted as an invasion.

    I rolled 5d20s on the dice roller page and got 19, 18, 20, 12, and 15.

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    1. Idvard is reasonable, for a Triloo. He is already looking at the current situation as something of an opportunity and he is considering how he might get Bujilli to help him out with a few errands out on the otherside of the Weak Point...

      Leeja is going nowhere until she is healed--that last wound was life-threatening and will take more than some bandages and muttered imprecations to make all better. Just used some of your numbers to determine how the students discharged Idvard's orders--he's their neighbor, not their teacher, so they have a bit of lee-way in how they do stuff for him...

      Good call about the whole 'crossing-the-threshold- thing. People in Wermspittle are very sensitive concerning borders and boundaries. they take invasions seriously in this place. Real Seriously. And Personally. Crossing into that space uninvited would be a really bad idea. Roll up new characters bad.

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  4. Sorry I'm so late... Just realized it is Thursday. I agree with ETP's suggestions. I wish there were somewhere else than Idvard's for Bujilli and Leeja to rest. I don't find it credible that he didn't know one of his students was possessed? Pre-Occupied? He seems to care more about books than people...not a good sign in a place like Wermspittle.

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    1. Bujilli and Leeja wish they were somewhere else as well. But here they are and now we get to make the most of it, one way or another.

      The Students from the next floor are not Idvard's students. The Four snuck out from the Academy to conduct experiments in illicit and banned ceremonial practices that their academic supervisors and mentors did not approve of nor sanction. The leader of the group was the werm-host girl who bribed Idvard so that they could be shielded by his wards of privacy. She thought that would allow he to slip under the notice of her tutors. It did. But Idvard took the liberty of conferring with her sponsor back at the Academy and was giving them regular updates on their lack of meaningful progress to date.

      Now that situation has gotten complicated in no small way as Bujilli has discovered this unauthorized extracurricular activity and it leads back to someone at the Academy whom we've not met yet...can you say academic politics?

      Idvard cares about three people at a time, in general. His obsession over books is fairly common to his people and he has taken responsible steps to rehabilitate himself into a productive member of a grossly dysfunctional society...

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    2. Addendum: Never mistake werm hosts for the possessed...though there are some uncomfortable similarities, these are actually quite different things. As we'll be seeing shortly since no one has taken steps to deal with the spirit those kids were attempting to shove into the crystal skull...

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  5. I agree with the above. I'd only add that they should find out as much about Idvard as they can before they leave, and maybe take an innocent wander around too, and at least look into the space beyond the Weak Point if Bujilli feels it's safe to do so. They might even offer to help with the library, especially as Bujilli seems equipped to handle some of the arcana. Definitely memorise the location when they head off too, in case there's a need to return. There was a suggestion early on that Bujilii's being here is part of some larger pattern and if so, Idvard may be tied into that.

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    1. Idvard has taken an interest in Leeja and Bujilli both, so getting him to talk won't be a problem. For once. The usually taciturn and withdrawn Triloo librarian remains aloof and only minimally involved in other people's affairs. He is quite upset over the wermic host intruding upon his business; another good reason to make use of the Weak Point and to enlist some support or to start considering mutual defense arrangements.

      Being an outsider such as he is, Bujilli offers an unique perspective on the ways and means of magic and sorcery that Idvard is dearly interested to know more about. So much so that the typically dour Triloo is nearly giddy with questions of his own, but desperately doesn't want to alienate the young mammals before he's had a chance to demonstrate his good intentions, at least towards them, for now.

      Bujilli has entered into a game of great stakes played by diverse hands, all of whom have decided that he is a suitable pawn, agent, catalyst or whatever. Any patterns observed in the course of this adventure may well be part of still more patterns, all of which criss-cross, overlap and react to one another in strange, organic ways...like a writhing mass of angry werms...

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