Friday, August 31, 2012

A Fateful Encounter on Xudriss II

Mr. Till over at the FATEsf blog has recently  posted a nicely detailed report on his gaming group's experience in playing through our Quick Score on Xudriss II adventure for Rogue Space, but in this case it was adapted into a Diaspora one-shot game. We really appreciated the way John adapted the bare-bones structure of Xudriss II, including his bringing in more Achernarians and even a Space-Shen mercenary/henchman! Very cool.

We're currently exploring Diaspora, based in large part on account of John's advocacy and glowing praise of this FATE-derived RPG. We have a Cluster under development and expect to run a few in-house scenarios over the next few weeks in order to properly kick the tires and check things out for ourselves.

In the meantime, we're still building stuff for Rogue Space, including our on-going series detailing the mysteries of Lithus Sector which will finally get back on-track and on-schedule this Tuesday.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Leeja: Character Sheet

Leeja was first introduced in Episode 27.
"My father was a great Lord among the Pallid, before he was driven out of the Garden by his ancestral enemies. My mother was born among the lowfolk who dwell in the deep places below Aman Utal, but she was out-caste, the child of an unsanctioned union. Thus I was also out-caste. Unsanctioned. Unwelcome."
Leeja, Episode 29

Leeja
Unsanctioned Hybrid (Half-Pallid, with partial Morlock and other, inhuman ancestry...)
Thief Level 4 / Magic-User Level 4
Alignment: Neutral
Hit Points: 48
Armor Class: 8/5 (Partial Leather Armor, low quality / plus DEX bonus)
Languages: Gatruz, Bozik, Morlui

Attributes
Strength: 15        Mod: +1
Dexterity: 18      Mod: -3 AC, +3 Missiles, +2 Initiative
Constitution: 17  Mod: +2hp/HD
Intelligence: 16   Mod: +2 Additional Languages, Can read and write
Wisdom: 13         Mod: +1 Saving Throw (Magical effects)
Charisma: 14       Mod: -1 Reaction Adjustment, 5 Retainers, Retainer Morale 8

Vigor: 50 (STR+DEX+CON)
Will: 43 (INT+WIS+CHAR)

Saving Throws
Versus Breath Attacks: 9
Versus Poison or Death: 8
Versus Petrify or Paralyze: 4
Versus Wands: 9
Versus Spells or Spell-like Devices: 8
Thief Abilities
Pick Locks: 34%
Find/Remove/Set Traps: 27%
Pick Pockets: 41%
Move Silently: 41%
Climb Walls: 93%
Hide in Shadows: 31%
Hear Noise: 1-3
Backstab: +4 (X2 damage)
Special Abilities
  • Darkvision / Infravision 60' range
  • Gaze can cause re-roll of CHAR Reaction with either a bonus or penalty of +/-8 (twice per day)
  • Retractile Claws (inflict 1d4+1 damage, treat as magic weapons)
  • Motile Hair (Extremely long, manipulable/prehensile tendrils, can be used to strangle, pierce flesh, etc. has a comfortable range of 10', maximum of 12'.)
  • Untrained Empathy/ESP talent
  • Consume Vitality (Every 1 point of CON absorbed from victim restores 1d6 hit points)
Note: Exposure to the Voorish Sign causes Leeja severe pain...but so far why this might be has not been revealed...


Weapons
Short sword with serrated edge, very likely of ancient morlock manufacture, acquired in Episode 54. (Magical qualities remain undetermined).
Antique Hand-gonne (Four-barrelled pepperbox. Double damage at Short range.)
Crystal Stiletto (+2/X3 damage vs. Umbral/Shadow types)
Hand-Axe (+1 with a base 10% chance to Dispel Magic on a hit. Her hand-axe has a slightly-hooked spike on the back of the head, not the hammer-head like Bujilli's hand-axe.)
Leeja usually carries 1d4 daggers or knives she has taken off of previous opponents...


Armor
Vushka acquired a set of Arena-Quality Werm-Leather Armor for Leeja in Episode 97.


General Adventuring Gear
  • Utility Belt (Mostly empty, badly repaired)
  • Travel Pouch
  • Small Silver Mirror in felt slip-case

Special Gear
One Dark Violet BookOne Battered Field Journal, and a copy of last year's edition of the Blue Grimoire were dropped off for Leeja in Episode 97 by Gnosiomandus. She has yet to examine these books.

Leeja has been granted life-time access to Idvard's libraries and archives at his Keep on an Adjacent World. She wears a ring of braided black and yellow metal that is identical to the one that was given to Bujilli by Idvard in Episode 49. She is also owed one new spell as per her contract with Idvard from Episode 41.

Slasher Spawnling
In Episode 38 Leeja and Bujilli interrupted a clutch of little Slasher spawnlings in mid-meal when they came crashing through the roof. One of the tiny Slashers has taken an interest in Leeja, going so far as to perch upon her shoulder and guard her unconscious body, something quite out of character for such a creature. Leeja left the creature in her travel-pouch where it guarded her few possessions until recently when it laid eggs and died, leaving her with a number of slasher eggs.



Leeja's Spells (Labyrinth Lord)
(Spells per day: 2 first level, 2 second level)

First Level: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Read Magic
Second Level: ESP, Phantasmal Force, Web (variant: uses her own hair)

Special Spells
Charnel Breath
Protection From Shadows
Pale Shelter

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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 40

Previously...
Things settled down. Repairs were under-way. Leeja was enmeshed in a spell that granted her a form of healing sleep. Bujilli realized the depth of his feelings for this strange un-girl as he himself slipped into a sorcerous sleep triggered by the interaction of his Counsel with Idvard's spell. They both slept. They both dreamed. Upon awakening, much was left unsaid, perhaps for the best, for now. Idvard welcomed them both to his new and improved clandestine library on the otherside of the Weak-Point. They enjoyed a veritable feast. Idvard was positively gleeful:

"It is I who needs to be thanking you, Bujilli--you single-handedly demolished that Crystal Skull before it could become much more of a menace; you eliminated the leader of the local harpy coven; and you managed to reveal a werm-host who'd been living directly beneath my quarters, abusing my hospitality and playing dangerous games well beyond their ability or capacity...not to mention the lovely blackmail material you've handed over to me from out of all this--my boy; you may have just given me the means to finance my library once and for all, and to do it properly now!"

They had made an ally. Now, well-rested, well-fed and well-met indeed, Bujilli & Leeja are faced with an entirely new set of options neither of them could have imagined even a day ago...
"To business then." Idvard rose gently into the air and began to rotate slowly so as to take in the large armor-reinforced observatory dome above them. He positioned himself so that one eye was focused on each of them with the third one staring out at the angry, black and purple clouds overhead.

The storm outside was raging fiercely. Lightning shuddered and splintered through the heavy downpour. It was green. Toxic-looking. The clouds boiled with a vasty rage that radiated menace through the tortured darkness. For all of the view the great window might have afforded them, it showed very little of this version of Wermspittle. A few burned-out buildings. A mound of rubble. Jagged outlines of broken walls. All of it scored, scorched and notched from many terrible weapons in a war that really did end all wars...at least for a while.

"For some time now, it has been my intention to establish a private library based here on this Adjacent World. This domicile is in far better repair than my humble abode back there in the Burned Over District. Better repair and much more private. Once Urmigan's work-crew have completed repairing things back there," he pointed back through the Weak-Point to the attic rooms and the workers busily fixing a caved-in roof and floor section. The workers looked more like insects than humans. Tall, thin, long-limbed. They made little, if any noise. Aside from the constant banging of hammers or the sounds of other tools.

"To anticipate your question; no, they are not human. Urmigan's workers are drones, very skilled and talented at their respective crafts and trades, but entirely devoid of ego. Their minds, such as they can be said to possess such a thing, are extremely narrow in their focus and exceptionally transparent to most forms of telepathy or other such psychic perception. They have a high order of intuition, the better to help them carry out their instructions. They live to work and when they complete their assigned tasks, they simply shrivel into sterile husks. Very discrete. Quite disposable."

"But how do they know to do their tasks, or where to go?" Leeja scowled in disbelief. It didn't sound right to her.

"The drones are automatically imprinted with a wide-range of useful skills. Whomever wishes to hire the drones must provide a guide to lead them to the work-site. Their bodies constantly eliminate of all spoor or trace, so there is no way to track them to a work-site. This particular capability stems from their need to evade very vicious, extremely sensitive predators, possibly Horla, or so says Urmigan. He discovered them and acts as their agent in Wermspittle. No one else has been able to look into the matter very effectively. The drones tend to wither into sterile husks when someone looks too closely into how they function. The fines imposed under the standard contract are severe enough to dissuade most such inquiries, the 'informal penalties' for this sort of unwarranted investigation are rumored to be substantial as well. The one instance that I am fairly certain of remains something of an unsolvable mystery as one of my all-too-curious colleagues disappeared suddenly and quite completely after attempting to dissect a drone. We'll never find the body. Not if Urmigan has disposed of it--he also provides a 'removal service' that he guarantees can make unwanted things go away permanently. But that is quite expensive and requires even the client to have all memory of the item in question removed from them by some unsavory insect process." Idvard shivered in disgust. Possibly from memory.

"So these things just go out, work, die and leave no real trace of their having passed other than the fruits of their labors?" Leeja pushed herself back from the table. Her lip quivered in disgust.

"Yes. Beautiful, is it not?"

"Grotesque. In the extreme." The tiny Slasher on Leeja's shoulder snicked it's sharp legs in response to her agitation.

"Ah, but you are looking at this from the viewpoint of a mammal. Your emotions are getting in the way--"

Bujilli laughed; "These things really are tools then, not people?" He knew he needed to get things going in a different direction. Before Leeja got too much more worked-up. He could sense her agitation. It fairly boiled in his own guts.

"Exactly. They are not sentient, not really."

"But this is still slavery--"

"But of course it is; as is nearly all forms of biologically enforced specialization among insects. It is their nature." Idvard sounded as though he were lecturing at the Academy.

Leeja looked down at the floor. Suddenly quiet. Even her hair went still.

"You mentioned that you wanted to talk to us about a business arrangement. Let's discuss that." Bujilli considered going over and placing a hand on Leeja's shoulder. But the little Slasher perched there might slice off a finger or two if he tried it.

"Yes. Indeed. I know that you were on your way to a curio shop. You wished to dispose of some properties. Perfectly understandable. All those gonnes make for an unwieldy burden, no doubt."

"My friend here seemed to be managing well enough. Before the roof caved in."

"Certainly. As you say. But I would hazard a tiny bit of speculation that whatever you were intending to off-load at this so-far unidentified pawn-broker or whomever, it would go even better for you were you to have even more valuable things to exchange with them? Yes?"

Bujilli began to voice his agreement only to freeze in-place. Leeja was staring at him. She grinned ever so slightly. He nodded. She smiled. Sweetly. Sinisterly.

"Let me guess; you want us to go muck about you new-found digs here. Clear and secure the tower we're in, maybe go check out what might be lurking down below the place? Right?"

"Ah...er...um...yes. Yes. If you would be interested in such a thing--"

"We keep anything we find. This is salvage and you haven't filed any claim on this location, have you?"

"Not yet."

"Good enough. When will your new minions arrive?"

"Bucephigon promised to have the first batch delivered in twenty-four hours after I placed my order..."

"And that means that they'll be on-site when exactly?" Leeja's voice took on a strange lilt.

"In roughly eighteen hours." Idvard sighed nervously. He was vulnerable. Going forward with his long gestating plan was risky. It could all go disastrously wrong very easily.

"What sort of defensive capabilities will they have?" Leeja nodded as though Idvard was only confirming what she already suspected.

"Standard resistances, self-repair capabilities, infantry tactics and basic weapons."

"What do you mean by 'basic'?"

"Crossbows, springers, blades and bludgeons. That sort of thing. Something of a mix. But nothing powered. No Galvanics," he glanced at the torch-weapon next to Bujilli's chair, "just in case such things would attract attention."

"And aside from a few wards, what have you got already in-place?" Leeja continued before Bujilli could respond. If there was any doubt in his mind about possibly holding onto the contraband weapon it was gone now. He stared down at the thing. It was clunky. Ungainly. Not the sort of thing he preferred to carry. But it might come in handy in special circumstances, such as what it was intended for. There were those creatures and things that were extremely susceptible to concentrated ultraviolet radiation. Most forms of vampirism were now extinct thanks to the proliferation of such devices.

"Mostly wards. I've kept things quiet. No one has noticed anything, yet. I've tried to avoid stirring anything up. I'd prefer to keep it that way. It's a war zone out there. Dead Worlds can hide a lot of bad things..."

"What can you tell us about this place, this Adjacent World?" Bujilli interrupted. He needed to know what to expect before heading downstairs into whatever had decided to make the place its lair or burial ground or whatever. He had grown-up exploring old pits, caverns and tombs for his uncle. First as bait, then as a free-climbing scavenger. A very good one.

"This Adjacent World was devastated by forces situated upon the moon. Until someone broke the moon. Now it's a ring of debris. But it came too late. Every major city was pulverized by the unrelenting bombardment of colossal masses of stone and iron. Only a few place, such as this section of Wermspittle, escaped being hammered into craters. When the smoke and dust finally cleared, at least enough to continue the fighting, what had been a very technical civilization was quickly reduced to a few sickly survivors who threw much smaller rocks at one another, first by dropping them on one another from airships, then by trebuchets and other such medieval engines, then simply lobbing them by personal muscle-power. Whatever war machines survived the lunar bombardment in any sort of operational condition were prone to malfunction or going rogue--there is something pernicious in this this place that interferes with complex machinery. But whatever this effect is, it has diminished drastically over the decades since the initial onset of hostilities. It is sporadic, fluctuating, irregular. My theory is that it is running down. It is so tenuous, so diminished now that it constitutes only a minor annoyance."

"And the survivors?"

"Very few. A succession of plagues wiped out most of those who made it through the lunar bombardment and the Ice Age that brought on."

"Ice Age?"

"Yes. All the dirt, dust and debris thrown up by the lunar bombardment created a dense cloud cover over most of the world for decades. The world grew colder. The oceans are full of ice bergs. The polar ice-caps extend well past the tropics. It's a Dead World--"

"Not Dead!" growled a shabby youth clutching a heavy wooden gladius-moringstar sort of weapon, all four edges of the almost obelisk-like blade were set with flaked stone, possibly obsidian alternating with flint or chert. He shook his weapon at Idvard accusingly.

"Ah yes, Bortho, do please some in. would you care for something to eat?" Idvard gestured to the table.

Bortho rushed to the table, his weapon dangling from a strap, and proceeded to gorge himself.

"I took the liberty of arranging for a native guide, such as is available. Bortho here is part of a local tribe of less than a dozen descendants from the survivors of the Great War. I discovered his people on my first foray into this world. Since I have extended to them an offer of refuge within my Keep they have been helping with the removal of vermin, clearing debris, and generally securing the above-ground sections of this tower."

"So why would you need us then?"

"These people categorically refuse to go below-ground for any reason whatsoever. They are afraid of the..." Idvard paused, unsure how best to continue. It was dawning on him just how vulnerable he had allowed himself to become by moving too quickly after all. It galled him intensely to have finally moved forward with his plans, after all this time, only to have done so precipitously after all. Perhaps this effort had fallen under a bad aspect? He resolved to consult with a Midwife for a Katarchic Chart when there was time to spare for such things.

"Yes? What--or who--are they afraid of then?"

"Something they call 'Grunters'--"

"Grunters Bad!" Bortho dropped his food and took up his weapon; "Where Grunters?"

"No Grunters, Bortho. Not here. You eat."

The boy snorted in disdain before resuming his messy repast.

Bujilli had a bad feeling about these 'Grunters.' He recalled the language Idvard had used to muter profanity earlier. The guttural language of the obscene pig-things who prowled the Blade-Maze deep below Kalkendru. If ever there were creatures who deserved to be called 'Grunters,' it would be them.

"What good is this 'guide,' if he won't go down-below? I am of course assuming that you want us to examine the basements and so forth below this place. Or do you want us to go take a walk outside for a bit and see what we can stir up?" Leeja studiously ignored Bortho.

"Oh he'll go where you need him to go--the Grunters have taken his mate. He's the one member of his tribe who will lead you to them."

"And abandon us once we find her, right?"

"Finding your way back shouldn't be anywhere near as difficult as penetrating their lair in the first place..."

Bujilli laughed; "Spoken like a true academic. If we do get into this place with some measure of stealth--which I highly doubt will be possible with this guide--we might find ourselves being followed back by a war party or worse, perhaps a whole army of these things. You're not ready for that sort of thing."

"Neither are you. Better you misdirect them and not lead them back here. I assumed you were both professionals--"

"We are." Leeja glared at Idvard. Her eyes shone hotly green-gold with challenge.

"So why even bother going after this kid's partner? Why are you interested in having us do this?"

"I need to know how these things are getting in so I can seal that point of access. Once you've determined how they are getting in, I can take measures to keep them out, one way or another. It is simply untenable to have these horrid things wandering into my new tower willy-nilly without so much as a by your leave."

"Understandable. But these things...they aren't native to this world, are they?" Bujilli stared hard at Idvard.

Idvard stared at Bujilli. Idvard looked away first.

"Are they or aren't they?" hissed Leeja.

"No. They're not native to this place, any more than you or I." Idvard nearly choked in making the admission.

"That means they have--" Leeja started.

"Another Weak-Point." Bujilli finished.

"Yes. Or a gate, or a portal, or some other sort of means of moving from one world to another." Idvard slumped his head to his chest.

"That means they have--" Leeja started.

"Potentially more reinforcements than a few minions are likely going to be able to handle." Bujilli finished.

"Possibly." Idvard nodded.

"They are invading, aren't they?" Bujilli cracked his knuckles.

"Most likely." Idvard lowered himself back down to the table.

Bujilli looked into Leeja's green-gold eyes. She began to smile. So did he. Without a doubt they both were in agreement. They were going to--


What?!?

What will Bujilli and Leeja do next?

Sealing-off the basements and cellars is one thing...

...and could prove plenty dangerous in and of itself.

But do they intend to go after Bortho's mate as well?

Will they face the swine-hordes of Kalkendru?

Or should they go on to the Curiosity Shop?

Or should Bujilli and Leeja be getting back to school?

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 39

Previously...
First the roof collapsed, then the floor collapsed beneath the new sky-light. Leeja was down, seriously wounded. Bujilli was on the verge of collapse himself, pushing past the limits of his physical reserves, mostly by main force. The Four Students from the floor below came running to Idvard's request for assistance, leaving Bujilli behind. But things were not quite so simple. The students had been up to no good and the Crystal Skull they had been attempting to meddle with arose from the floor to pursue them with implacable vengeance. It dissolved the leader of the Four Students with a violet ray. She died at Bujilli's feet. The Skull intended to go on a rampage, but Bujilli was able to ambush the horrid thing, smashing it to pieces from behind. His clever victory was short-lived as he was nearly incinerated by an ambush by one of the Three remaining students...who turned out to be a werm-host. Singed, bloodied and at his limit, Bujilli fell to his knees in exhaustion. He saw Leeja sleeping peacefully next to him. Then he crashed into oblivion right by her side...

BANG! Bang! baNG! Hammers were pounding inside and outside of Bujilli's skull. He groaned and rolled over. Something hissed in his ear and he rolled to his feet with tulwar drawn. A slasher-spawnling only six inches tall regarded him quizzically from atop Leeja's shoulder. She was still asleep. Deeply asleep. Bujilli could feel the cool caress of shimmering strands of sorcery delicately swirling around her body, keeping her pleasantly suspended in a healing slumber while the intricate tendrils of the spell worked to repair her grievous wounds. He sat down against the wall and observed the spell. It was elegant, beautiful. He'd never seen anything like it before. Most of the spells that Bujilli carried were things his uncle permitted him or that he'd managed to steal in secret from old books, or the few things that the Green Gem of Muktra had taught him in his dreams while it was trying to convince him to return it to Zalchis.

Bujilli sighed and wiped the crumbly-bits from his eyes. That all felt like such a long time ago. A life-time past. Things were so much different now. So much had changed since he decided to leave his uncle's yurt and make his way around the world of his birth...and to end up here, in Wermspittle of all places.

Maybe there were petty and meddling godlings running around the polyverse tampering with everyone's fate or destiny. Or perhaps the root-bound monks of Kalvidra were right and it was all the outcome of blind gods playing at dice they couldn't read.

Bujilli snorted. Philosophy was for drinking, not for taking seriously. An old sailor had taught him that on the long voyage across the Sea of Tears.

So long ago.

He watched the spell run its course until he fell asleep. Even with the hammers. Saws. Curses and shouts. All the noise of the work-crew repairing Idvard's roof and floor.

Idvard.

Bujilli snapped awake. He flexed his fingers. A quick check revealed nothing untoward. Not noticeably.

He got up. His joints creaked. He was still tired, but much better off than when he had collapsed earlier. He could feel the tingling waves of vibration emanating from his very bones. For a moment he saw the patterns of golden energy working outwards from deep within his flesh in stark contrast to the silvery energy working itself inwards through the flesh of Leeja. It was almost a mirror reflection of sorts, only not. Not quite.

Bujilli crouched down and brushed a strand of hair away from Leeja's face. She looked more at peace than he'd seen her so far. She was striking. Her features had the stamp of something feral, something alien that bordered upon both the incredibly seductive and ultimately repulsive. Her body radiated fertility in a way that unsettled him, challenged him...confused him. Terrified him. Yet he knew, somehow, deep down, that she was a friend. An ally. They were Partners now...whatever that meant. He wasn't sure what exactly they had gotten themselves into by agreeing to work together. So much went unsaid, unrevealed, yet very much present and insistent in their every interaction. He'd never met someone who carried nightmares behind their eyes like he did. They both carried scars the other knew all too well. They both were outcast, unwanted, the products of unhappy unions through no fault of their own. They more clearly understood one another than anyone else ever could...or should. The sympathy that was growing between them was almost intoxicating in itself. They both had strong feelings for one another. The significance of this realization left him dazed. That it was a mutual experience, something they shared with one another, made it precious beyond all measure. And fragile. For a moment Bujilli considered running away.

Sparks stuttered from his aura, criss-crossing with more sparks coming from the spell surrounding Leeja.

Bujilli drew himself back. All was normal again. Such as it ever was.

He reached out again. Sparks danced and pirouetted between the gold and the silver spell-patterns again. It did not hurt. He placed his hand on Leeja's hand. Something shifted. The two patterns of energy meshed. Bujilli watched the energies intermingle, joining into a stately dance of complimentary forces that knitted a cocoon over them both.

Bujilli slept.

He dreamed. Nightmares drained back into the darkness, for now. Whispers trailed off. Distractions faded.

Suspended in a dark, warm place of comfort he discussed the future with a golden-voiced being who knew him better than he could ever know himself.

He extended his hand. A golden flower. The scent of copal and blood. And hair. White hair that writhed.

Bang! BANG! BanG! Went the hammers.

Bujilli sat up. He was rested. Refreshed. For the first time in...how long? Hours? Days? He couldn't recall how long it had been since he left his room at the Academy to go exploring a bit. His Counsel noted the passage of sixty-two standard hours, thirty-six hours as he reckoned their passage.

Leeja sighed softly. She opened her cloudy-gold eyes. Her smile grew wider as her claws retracted.

"About time you two woke up--" Idvard loomed over them both. The tiny Slasher snicked its legs at the impatient Librarian.

He stared at Leeja. Then at Bujilli. At them both with all three eyes as only a Triloo can.

"How?" Idvard was shocked.

"What?" Bujilli asked as he stood up and extended his hand to help Leeja.

"You're both...the spell I used was old, from a scroll dragged up from beneath the ruins of Old Aldriss six pars over...it was only a cursory healing. It was to effect a surgical repair, not a full restoration. Not of you both..."

Bujilli smiled. He glanced over at Leeja. She smiled back at him. They both turned appropriately sphinx-like countenances towards their somewhat stymied host.

"Yes. Well...never mind...it's no matter. No werms, that much I can tell for certain."

"No. No werms. We're not on the best of terms with them..."

"I'm aware of that. Quite. That fact alone made me inclined to overlook your unanticipated intrusion upon my domicile."

"And for that I...we..." He looked back to Leeja, "We wish to apologize. It was never our intention to trespass. We were headed off to sell some things at a local curio store when the roof gave out from beneath us..."

"Yes. They do have a habit of doing that, especially here in the Burned Over District. No one maintains things any more. Not like in the old days. Not hardly. Hmmph." Idvard shook his head ruefully.

"Thank you for your help." Leeja nodded her head. Her hair shimmered like pale flames about her as it settled down into a configuration that best accentuated her features.

"Yes. Thank you." Bujilli bowed slightly out of respect, as one would do to a peer or fellow student back home, according to the one book on etiquette he'd only partly skimmed at a young age.

Idvard laughed.

"It is I who needs to be thanking you, Bujilli--you single-handedly demolished that Crystal Skull before it could become much more of a menace; you eliminated the leader of the local harpy coven; and you managed to reveal a werm-host who'd been living directly beneath my quarters, abusing my hospitality and playing dangerous games well beyond their ability or capacity...not to mention the lovely blackmail material you've handed over to me from out of all this--my boy; you may have just given me the means to finance my library once and for all, and to do it properly now!" Idvard extended his hand and Bujilli shook it.

"I seem to have missed quite a bit." Leeja purred.

"Indeed. Lucky you are to even be alive. And now, no doubt you both could use some sustenance. So if you'll follow me..." Idvard floated off through a doorway. Back towards the Weak Point. His back-up location.

"I'm starved." Leeja put out a hand to steady herself. She gripped Bujilli's arm. Tenderly. No claws.

"So am I." He nodded and took her arm in his as though attending a formal ball and led her past the work-crew, through the Weak Point and on into the room beyond where Idvard led them to a trestle-table laden with food.

Seven different fire-arms were stacked at the foot of the table. The filthy arquebus on top of the pile was the one that Bujilli had seen a harpy futilely attempting to re-load in the rain.

The food was good, hot and plentiful. All the meats were obviously whatever they were as they needed to carve them off of the roasted carcasses of various birds, shell-fish or a smallish pig. There were no sausages at the table. Idvard made a point of explaining everything to Leeja and asked at least twice as many questions as he answered. They watched a massive thunderstorm from beneath a sturdily constructed greenhouse-like observatory dome built directly into the heavily reinforced roof of the building on the otherside of the Weak-Point. It resembled a thick-walled keep more than a run-down tenement. Just as the area surrounding it resembled a burned-out and blasted war-zone more than a ruined slum.

"Where are we?" asked Leeja as she sliced more smoked rabbit for herself.

"One of the Dead Worlds on the otherside of a Weak-Point. Here the entire world, such as it is, beyond this version of Wermspittle has been devastated by a run-away war. Fewer than one percent of the original populations survived and those that have are quickly dying-out due to disease, and other factors."

"But..."

"Yes?" Idvard patiently hovered at the head of the table.

"This is still Wermspittle?"

"Yes. Yes and no. It is Wermspittle, but a slightly different version, part of an Adjacent World, a place and time subtly different and slightly out of step with the one we know and you take for granted."

"Isn't it dangerous to come here?"

"It's all relative, really. Back there," Idvard hooked his thumb towards the Weak-Point and the rooms full of Urmigan's work-crew busily repairing the roof and floor; "things are plenty dangerous. People just fall in through the roof. Harpies are trying to spoil all my books. The wermic host is out to...whatever. My point is, yes, this is a dangerous location, but so is where we've just come from. It's not about the danger, one takes steps to address those things, I'm not a fool; but rather it is about the opportunities."

"Opportunities?" Leeja raised one eyebrow as she sampled the mashed potatoes.

"Yes. This world is practically abandoned. There are no claims against it, so it's wide-open to me, pardon; to us. So long as we keep quiet about things and don't go inviting trouble or claim-jumpers."

Bujilli blanched. His hand shot up to the amulet Hedrard had given to him.

"No worries Bujilli--I took the liberty to suspending the operation of Hedrard's little watcher. And I've sent her a polite note explaining the situation adequately to her; you are my guests and she is quite well aware of my preference for privacy. In fact, sending along that note has given me an 'in' with Hedrard that I'd not been able to attain previously. It will be handy to discuss certain matters of mutual interest and concern with her very soon. Again, I am very much pleased to have made your acquaintance, however unorthodox your entrance may have been..."

"I'm sorry about that. Sorry about your students as well." Bujilli regretted the death of the two students, even if the tall boy had been a werm-host, whatever that actually meant. He got the impression that it was a bit more involved, more pernicious and voluntarily wicked than what he had encountered with Sharisse.

"Oh they were never my students. Dear me no. Not hardly. Yulisse was the one who originally contacted me. She wanted a quiet, out of the way place where she could do some ritual work. Discretely. She paid me a rather steep price without even blinking. It was enough to make it tentatively worth my while. So I let her set up her work-space on the floor below me and allowed her to be shielded by my wards and what-not. But I kept an eye on her and her little group. I also notified her sponsor back at the Academy. We're old friends Ezgalar and I. Old friends. Not dear ones by any means, but old ones, certainly. We have an understanding betwixt us."

"So you knew what they were up to?" Bujilli set down his spoon. The lentil and carrot soup was excellent.

"More or less. Unfortunately quite a bit less, as it turns out--I've been a bit pre-occupied ever since that lack-wit illiterate bastard blabbed his mouth to the harpies and got them riled-up about all the books I had sitting around right under their fetid little tails. Filthy things. Stupid, hateful destroyers of knowledge. Worse than plagiarists, really."

"So you bear us no grudge for the demise of Yulisse and..." Bujilli paused. He couldn't recall the tall boy's name.

"Korran. His name was Korran. He used to be a Butcher Boy, but no one is supposed to know that, of course. Partly why they wear the masks and all that."

"Korran. He nearly burned me down with that weapon of his..."

"A modified galvanic-torch. Stolen from a Sewer Militia arsenal no doubt. It's a special weapon, not much use outside of a squad of trained exterminators. There's a reward for returning it, I'm sure. I can arrange for that if you like, unless you'd prefer to keep the thing for sentimental reasons?"

"No. no. Give it back to the rightful owners. I can't see much use for it...outside of what has already been done."

"As you wish."

"Why didn't it start the whole place on fire?" Bujilli sat back in his chair. Leeja dropped a forkful of ham.

"Only now does this occur to you?" Idvard laughed heartily.

Bujilli pushed away his bowl. He'd lost his appetite.

"Do you think that I would store my books in a fire-trap? I've worked hard to keep that place safe from random arsonists, book-burners, Puritans and the rest. The floors are fire-proofed, as are the walls, the ceiling panels and most of the support timbers. But I can let all that lapse now. We'll move the lot over here and set up the library within these walls, like I had hoped to be able to afford to do when I first discovered the Weak-Point, just as soon as Bucephigon has my new set of minions ready. It was expensive making it a rush order, but that can't be helped. Time is of the essence now that so much that has been pent-up for so long has finally broken loose once and for good."

"Time? Essence? Minions?" Leeja echoed Bujilli's thoughts; "What exactly is going on here, Idvard?"

"I'm glad you asked. You see, I have a business arrangement that I'd like to discuss with you two--you're not under any contractual obligations are you? I know that Bujilli here is sponsored by Gnosiomandus and has earned the support of Beatrice Eberhard and Hedrard; quite an impressive accomplishment for someone only admitted to the Academy less than three days ago."

Leeja looked over at Bujilli. He looked back into those golden-green eyes. In unison they both smiled; "Tell us more..."


Idvard has a plan, but do Bujilli and Leeja want to get involved in it?

Should they stay, or should they go? Either way there's sure to be trouble.
(Besides; what sort of minions is Idvard buying in bulk?)

Should they go explore the war-zone, or go back to the burned-out slums?

Do they want to enter into a business deal with Idvard?
What would he want from a pair of adventurers like these two?

Do they still want to sell-off their loot at the Curio Shop?

Does Leeja still have room for dessert?

Shouldn't Bujilli be getting back to the Academy fairly soon?
And what will he tell Hedrard?

Should Bujilli act as a go-between for Idvard and Hedrard?

Has Bujilli had enough soup?
Perhaps he would like some roast turnips? Jellied snails?

What about the Two Students who survived the Skull / Harpy / Wermic-host ambush-o-rama?

How deeply do Bujilli and Leeja want to get embroiled in Idvard's schemes?

Blackmailing Ezgalar might not be in their best interests; they've already made a few enemies...

Maybe they ought to consider just what they want to do about the Crying Girl. She's the one who sent those gonners after Bujilli previously...

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

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!


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

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