Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 57

Previously...
Bujilli and Leeja are in the Arena. They have already dealt with a Fantomist and his pet Molg. Now they were confronted with a muscular hunchback wielding a two-handed sword...

Bujilli fell. His heart raced. The sword streaked forwards. It was unavoidable. A deathstroke.

Leeja lunged. Interposed herself between Bujilli and the blade.

Instinct drove him to reach out. Do something. Anything. Make It Go Away.

He landed hard. Breathless and desperate he rolled to the side. Pushed himself back up to his feet.

Leeja lay sprawled in the grit.

There was no sign of the hunchback.
Translocation Countermeasures Successful

Two Active Portals Detected

The cloud of eyes overhead buzzed like furious insects.

Bujilli had a thought. He called upon his Counsel, the machine etched into his bones.

"Machine--shut down the other portals."

Query: Specify Shut Down Protocol

"I don't know. Just close them down. Clear the Arena. End this. Now."

Grating noises. Hissing. The Pylons descended back below the grit of the Arena floor. The miasmic cloud overhead writhed like a storm on some alternate horizon.

Somewhere, someone was clapping.

The balcony. Eberhard. She was staring down at Bujilli with those soul-full black eyes.

He stood his ground. Leeja got up from the grit. Slowly. She expected to be dead. Wasn't. didn't know quite how to react.

"I say that they have both passed admirably." came another voice from behind them.

Bujilli whirled around, ready to face his next tormenter.

Gnosiomandus smiled at him.

"You have no authority here." hissed Beatrice Eberhard.

"No." Gnosiomandus nodded solemnly; "No. I do not. But neither do you. Really."

"What kind of nonsense is this? What are you up to Gnosiomandus?"

"The Arena was established--"

"As a place for bloodsports. I know the history as well as anyone."

"Ah, but it was built by the Governor-General imposed upon Wermspittle by the Lucian Empire--"

"Krassiom. Yes. I know."

"Ahem. Yes. Krassiom was deposed, overthrown and driven out of the city well over a thousand years ago."

"But his work, his memory lives on--" three conflicting voices spoke at once from Eberhard's tortured throat. Her eyes seemed to be wreathed in dirty, smudgy smoke.

"No. It doesn't. All institutions established by Krassiom were repealed, banned or stricken from the rolls by decree of the Saffron Contessa of Draushalt--"

"That yellow bitch never had any jurisdiction here--"

"No more than Krassiom, no less. One more meddling foreign power who used this place as a dumping ground for lunatics, heretics or worse. You've lost sight of things Beatrice."

"I see more than you'll ever know--"

"Yes. Undoubtedly so. You've seen many dark and terrible things, of that there is no doubt. But you pay a steep price for this vision you relish so very much. So do others. Too many others. It is time this whole sordid business ended."

"By what right do you meddle in My Arena?" boomed a deeply masculine voice that had no place coming from Beatrice Eberhard's lips.

"Yes. We do get down to the crux of the matter now." Gnosiomandus gestured and an oak staff was there. He stamped it down upon the gritty floor three times.

"I am present." screeched Hedrard from the left. She too carried an oak staff.

"As am I" drawled a tall, elegantly dressed man in top hat and tails who looked like he was only partly awake at best.

"You Can NOT DO THIS TO ME!" screamed Eberhard. Her hands flexed like cruel talons. A single tear of blood ran down her left cheek.

"We can..." Gnosiomandus sighed heavily. Looked to each of his colleagues. They both nodded. "...and now we shall. Forgive me old friend." He cleared his throat. Raised the staff. Pointed it directly at Eberhard. The others did likewise. So did the nine others who stood back a respectful distance. Each one carried their own oak staff. No two were exactly alike, but they were unmistakably part of a set that belonged together.

The cloud above surged and thrashed, juddered and lunged about in impotent rage. It could not reach anyone. It could not leave. It was trapped.

"Krassiom Inurexus your time here was over long, long ago. You were banished and allowed to leave on the condition that you never returned. Now, you shall never leave." Gnosiomandus gestured again and a smoldering golden light lanced forth from his fingers to impale the struggling form of Beatrice Eberhard.

She screamed.

She rose into the air above her seat in the Governor's Balcony.

Vile, greasy smog oozed from her pores, curled from her gaping mouth and nostrils.

Black drops spattered from her razor-sharp fingers.

"Come forth you coward." growled Gnosiomandus.

Eberhard slumped, doll-like, broken, life-less.

A heavy-set man extricated himself from her body. His form was translucent. Mostly ectoplasmic. He took sinister glee in wringing every last bit of despair and hurt from Eberhard as he left her behind, as used-up and defiled as he could manage.

Krassiom gloated over his ruination of the proud woman-warrior. He laughed.

This was not a simple ghost. Bujilli watched intently. This was something deeper, much more dangerous than some spirit driven to gnaw upon the living, or to haunt their dreams. Insidious, vile, it was palpably evil in a way that even the werms couldn't match.

"I am here." mocked the former Governor-General with a half-bow.

"And here you will remain." Gnosiomandus stamped his staff into the grit. The echo rolled about the Arena.

Hedrard grounded her staff. The echo grew louder.

Sprague brought his staff down with a sense of finality and panache. The echo rolled around the domed space like grumbling thunder.

The fourth staff struck the floor directly behind the unclean spirit.

Beatrice Eberhard stood. A staff in her bloodied right hand. Her eyes were surrounded with blood, but they were clear. Painfully purged.

A fifth staff struck.

Krassiom screamed, but it did no good; he lacked enough physicality to make the air vibrate any more.

A sixth staff struck.

Krassiom collapsed in upon himself. Shrivelling horribly. It was a grotesque spectacle; Bujilli could not turn away.

A seventh staff struck. All went silent.

Everyone paused. Gnosiomandus blanched. They had only required three to challenge, four to settle the matter. He had been surprised that the other two had showed up after all. But now...

"As Headmistress of this Academy I pronounce sanction upon this trespasser-revenant and endorse the sentence suggested by senior academician Gnosiomandus." She spoke from the shadows of a gothic archway that had not been there only a moment ago, but quickly passed out of the shadows into the light of the Arena. The false-sun overhead shifted to a more agreeable blue light in Her presence.

Bujilli gaped. Leeja clutched his hand.

The Headmistress had writhing white hair.

She reached upwards. Gestured and drew down a torrent of clicking, whining blackness from the cloud of twinkling things that had swirled and writhed and watched from above for so very long.

The torrent solidified into an icicle of shimmering black ice. Directly over Krassiom's imploding spirit-form. The cloud was gone. Completely absorbed and compressed into the gleaming black spike. With a nod the stake descended, transfixing Krassiom's now shapeless mass of residue.

The spike clattered to the floor. Crackling with frost. Echoing strangely.

"Lemuel. Come forward."

Thick-skinned and far heavier than he had been as a child, Lemuel walked out from the arch and kneeled before his mistress.

"Take this...thing...to your mentor Zirl. As our Keeper and Curator of Atrocities he may find it of some minor personal interest, and I can think of no one better suited to its safe-keeping. Unless you would care to make a counter-suggestion, Gnosiomandus?"

"No. Zirl is the best suited of all of us for watching over such a thing."

"I am most gratified that you approve of some of my decisions at least."

"I meant no offense..." Gnosiomandus faltered.

"We did what needed doing. No more, no less." Hedrard rasped as she came up to his side. There was a bandage on her throat. Someone had nearly torn her throat out.

"We were in the right to act. Our fault, as much as yours, lies in how long it took us to finally act." Sprague relinquished his oak staff and walked out through a violet-and-mauve paneled door that faded as it closed behind him.

"I agree." growled a red-robed man with a shaggy beard.

"As do I." purred a gold-skinned woman who may or may not have been naked or clothed, depending upon how her robes slithered about her.

"I..." Beatrice Eberhard collapsed.

"Ack! you fools--Lemuel bit her when she attacked me under Krassiom's influence..." she looked at Leeja; "...with the new teeth I gave him."



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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Varney Lives! (Sort Of...)

The good people at Galley Cat have released the extensively Revised & Modernized Literary Remix of Varney the Vampire. This is a Free eBook (re)written by dozens and dozens of readers from the Galley Cat blog. Each of us were assigned a page to rewrite. The intrepid editorial staff then waded into the morass of newly renovated and reconstructed prose and wrangled it into a brand new version of this classic (and influential) Penny Dreadful. And yes, I did re-write one small section. Good luck figuring out which one it was!

You can learn more about the project HERE.
You can download your own copy in most popular flavors and formats HERE.

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 56

Previously...
Bujilli finds himself right beside Leeja as she is subjected to the Entrance Exam. He could have stayed well out of it, having had his own Exam deferred due to his earlier actions (Ep.24,25,and 26). Abandoning Leeja was not an option he was interested in. He stood beside Leeja. He would fight beside her. Either they made it through the Arena together...or not at all...
Something went bump in the dark. Again. Heavy gears grated. The floor was descending. It felt like the walls were receding. The air grew cold.

"You...you didn't need to do this. Eberhard already gave you a pass..."

"We're not the monsters here. Neither of us. We'll get through this. Together."

Dim red light seethed through the darkness. The walls were farther away now. A fence of hair-thin blades extended a couple of paces out from the walls. The ceiling was obscured by a cloud of tiny, shiny dots. The cracked and cratered sun-sphere loomed overhead, a fitful aura of flames flickered across its surface but radiated no heat.

The floor shifted again. The darkness subsided to a murky reddish dimness.

Bujilli quickly scanned the changes to his surroundings. The space was round now. Hundreds of feet across. Four massive pylons were rising from out of the grit, each one equally spaced around the perimeter. He and Leeja stood at the center of it all.

He looked to Leeja.

"We pick a direction. We either reach one of the safe zones at the wall, or we don't."

He nodded.

Leeja began walking towards one of the pylons. Bujilli matched her pace. Did a quick check of his new weapon, his old stand-bys. He considered options. Which spells might be most useful.

SIZZLE -- Bujilli dropped to one knee. A flurry of his own hair surrounded him. His skin burned. He fought past the pain to erect some kind of defense against the attack.

Chartreuse light spilled off of his Shield spell in greasy gobbets of viscous magical energy. His skin was raw. His hair continued to fall out at a distressing rate. Bujilli spat in anger.

He spotted the Molg. Fat, sluggish; the gellid thing quivered as though laughing. Bujilli shifted his Shield and prepared Magic Missile. That spell dropped from his mind in a flare of imposed panic.

The Fantomist laughed. Her eyes flared mauve behind her white-metal mask. Then she began to cough.

Leeja was using Charnel Breath. The Fantomist screeched in outrage; "How dare you!"

The Molg was beginning to glow with a sparkly green light. Bujilli ran towards the bloated thing. There wasn't time to waste farting around with spells. He drove his hand-axe into the thing's fore-section. Green violence exploded out across the gritty floor of the Arena. It barely missed him. It nearly caught Leeja.

Bujilli hacked the thing once more.

"Wait!" the Fantomist wheezed through the foul black fumes surrounding it.

Bujilli raised his weapon for a third, possibly killing blow.

"Please! Stop!" the Fantomist extended her hands, palms up, empty. Not even a spell simmered on her aura. She was up to something.

"Why?" Bujilli shook more hair out of his eyes. Axe poised. He began to consider his options. He tried to connect with Counsel, the machine etched into his bones. Nothing. Not quite. A dim echo of something muffled or at a distance. Hedrard had told him that something had been done to interfere with his access to Counsel. She accused Idvard of deliberately meddling with it. Of suppressing it.

"My Molg. Don't kill it. Please." the Fantomist came closer.

Leeja laughed: "This is the Arena--"

"I am am a mercenary. No one paid me to fight in this place. I was summoned without so much as a by-your-leave."

"So what?" Leeja scowled.

"Pay me. We're done. Screw these sick bastards and their stupid games."

"You would barter with us? Here? Now?"

"Why not? We can all die anywhere, at any time; why not transact some business instead of mindlessly murdering one another for nothing?"

"Not for nothing--"

"For. Nothing." the Fantomist focused her too-bright mauve eyes on Leeja.

"It is a test--" Bujilli considered the Fantomist's offer.

"Exactly! You're not as stupid as your partner here. Make me an offer. Quickly. Before--"

"What is your price? I carry little in the way of money--"

"Not money. Never money. I can sense interesting things. You carry fragments..."

"Yes. I have some pieces of a crystal skull--"

"Perfect. One decent-sized shard and we're done here."

Bujilli motioned to Leeja. She came over and held her own had-axe over the Molg. It had no mouth. Its whimpers of pain echoed outward telepathically.

He reached into his pouch. Retrieved a rolled-up section of carpet. Felt around for a suitable piece. Worked it past the others until it fell out onto the grit. It shone darkly. Like burned glass. Tempered in screams.

"There. Will that do?"

"Nicely!" she gestured and the shard rose up from the grit and turned end over end. Satisfied, she held out her left hand and the shard flew to her. It hovered a few inches above her up-turned palm.

The Fantomist scribed a dim blue Symbol in the air with her right index finger. It throbbed with unhealthy vigor. The Molg wriggled away from them, towards the pylons. It left behind a nasty discoloration where its blood oozed out onto the floor.

She bowed. Fully. Formally.

Black flames roared forth from her right hand as she charged right at Bujilli.

"Idiot!" she screamed.

Bujilli swung his Shield into place. The black flames scattered before him leaving a smoky, oily residue wherever they touched.

The section of crystal skull sliced through his Shield. It might as well not have been there.

Leeja killed the Molg.

The Fantomist lunged. Bujilli twisted. Dodged. Slipped on the grit.

He could feel the cold, hard weight of the crystal poised before his eyes. About to pierce his skull. To end him.

"NO!" he roared.

Everything stopped. Froze.

Bujilli felt Idvard's spell lodged in his brain. He grabbed it with his mind. Crushed it. The spell collapsed. Took on a crystalline quality. A compressed fractal. He spat it out.

Right at the Fantomist's face.

Turgid gray light blanked out everything.

clink

His hand-axe knocked the crystal shard away.

It fell to the floor and shattered.

The Fantomist stood dumbfounded. Her eyes wide in surprise. Her mouth worked soundlessly.

She fell to her knees.

Pink fumes sputtered from her mouth. Her ears popped. Her eyes ruptured. More pink vapor roiled and boiled out of her head.

She fell forward. Her head broke open like a rotten egg. Pink smoke rose from her curdled brains.

The pylon began to descend back into the grit. Whatever portal had been there was closed now.

"We'd best get moving. If we stay here, in the middle, we'll get out-flanked and attacked on all sides. Better we pick one of the Pylons and hit whomever is there before they come after us."

"Makes sense. Good strategy. Any particular Pylon calling to you?"

"Yes. But we'll go to the next one on the left, that will clear half the Arena, maybe give us some breathing room. At least it'll be less stuff behind us."

Bujilli nodded. Leeja smiled. They both ran towards the next Pylon.

"Machine?" Bujilli whispered half-heartedly as they ran.

System Online

"How many more do we need to fight?" he asked his Counsel.

Initiating Scan Extrapolating From Stated Parameters

Three Active Portals Detected

Query: Initiate Translocative Countermeasures

"We have potentially three others out there." He spat hair out of his mouth. It was still falling out. His skin burned painfully. He didn't want to think what might have happened if he hadn't gotten his Shield spell in place fast enough. All those times he had been made to practice, his Uncle throwing knives at him, had been worth it. He'd only been cut a few times. When he was just learning to cast the spell. His Uncle had been furious, at first, but then he relented. Having some sort of defense like that made him expect more of Bujilli. He used it as an excuse to start lowering him down into the more dangerous shafts and chasms. The ones no one else would try because it was known that centipedes or worse were down there.

Defenses were meant to be used, his Uncle had pounded that into his thick skull, one fist after another, one knife after the other, until finally he had learned how to cast Shield by reflex. Then he learned how to turn it into a weapon. His Uncle was a demanding, brutal, but thorough instructor in the sorcerous arts.

"Yes. One for each Pylon. If they're sticking to standard rules."

"Machine," Bujilli  knew things were very likely going from bad to worse. This was Wermspittle. It could always get worse. They needed help. He desperately wished that he knew how to use his Counsel more effectively. It was a tremendous resource, but he didn't know how to use it properly. Yet. That was one of the things he wanted to learn from Gnosiomandus. One reason he was fighting to gain entry into the Academy in Wermspittle.  He glanced over at the other reason. They kept running. "What is this thing you are suggesting? Explain."

Transparent graphic representations flowed through his field of vision. He smiled. It was a way to shut down portals. If it worked. It depended upon Counsel still being able to contact the Transveyance which was back...beneath Zormur's Palace...on some other world...on the world where he had been born...

"Do it."

Nothing happened.

CLANK

"NO!" wailed a piebald hunchback in grimy chain-mail; "You can't do this to me! I've come too far. Damn you all!"

Two-thirds of a heavy, hollow statue of a pig-shaped figure molded from intensely blue iron lay sprawled across the grit. The edge facing the now descending Pylon was mirror-smooth and glistened wetly as a swirling vortex of sparks and smoke coiled upwards from the ruined construct.

Leeja barreled into the hunchback. He didn't go down. She bounced to the side. Slightly dazed.

"Who are you people?" demanded the hunchback. He snapped free his two-handed sword. It was heavily-built. Serrated. The blade had an oily sheen.

Bujilli grabbed Leeja and pulled her back onto her feet.

He began to attempt to parley--

The hunchback rushed them.

There was no time to debate. Only dodge. Go on the attack.

Leeja slipped to the right. Tried to trip the hunchback with her hair.

Bujilli rushed in under the sword, going low and aiming for a knee.

The two-handed sword slashed downwards. Less than an inch from Bujilli's puggish nose. He had to shift his balance to avoid running himself into the blade. His hand-axe missed it's mark.

Leeja yowled. A swath of her pale, white hair writhed where it lay on the grit. Severed.

She spun rapidly. Kicked the hunchback in the back of his knee. Her hair flared out. Snapped in like a sail at sea. Snapped back out. Blood flew everywhere.

The hunchback laid about him with his mighty sword. Blinded by the raking attack of Leeja's hair.

Bujilli rolled. Came up behind the swinging blade. Jammed his hand-axe into the throat of his opponent--there wasn't room enough for anything fancier.

He pushed. Hard.

The hunchback choked. Brought the sword back at Bujilli. Hard. Leeja jumped out of the way. Bujilli tried to get under it--there was no way to get beyond its reach quickly enough. The blade caught him on the shoulder. He rolled with it, as best he could. Couldn't keep his balance. Slipped.

He saw the blade whirl past him and then make a looping motion and come right back at him. Smooth. Clean. Deadly.

He hung in mid-air. Half-way through his fall. The blade was the only thing that seemed to be moving.

But it wasn't.

Leeja dived in front of the blade...


One down. One still swinging. Two to go.

This is far from over.

Will Leeja survive?

Can they defeat the hunchback?

He has a few tricks up his sleeves...

...such as 1D4 Blue Gems capable of summoning allies...

Time to roll initiative for next episode!


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, December 13, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 55

Previously...
Bujilli and Leeja stand in the Arena. Beatrice Eberhard has commanded Leeja to kill Bujilli...

"No."

Leeja turned to face Eberhard. Her hair writhed like white-hot flames.

"You stand in the Arena. You have both declared your readiness. Your lives are forfeit."

"There are plenty of things that need killing in this place. But not him. I will not."

Leeja bowed her head ever so slightly. Her arms held out to either side, a short sword in the right, a hand-axe in the left. She knew all about the Arena. All too damned well.

Eberhard stood up from her darkly-draped bench. Her eyes smoldered blackly. Her visage was all the more terrifying for all that looked out from behind those lustrous black eyes. Those eyes were like twin abysses. They were far from soulless. Not empty. By no means voids. Those eyes, those hot black eyes contained multitudes. It was not at all what either of them were expecting. The very idea of carrying such a grim burden humbled them both. And is was clearly a burden. It exacted a heavy toll on her. The kind of thing no amount of bluster or make-up could disguise. She didn't even try.

"Indeed. There is much death in this place. You have shed more than a little blood upon this very culling floor. Why do you balk now?"

"There are other options. He has taught me that. I don't intend to kill him just because you tell me to. I'm not a mindless killing machine--"

"Ah. So you wake up at last." Eberhard nodded ever so slightly. She stared down at Bujilli. "I was right about you."

Bujilli bowed the way he was taught by his uncle. Never bend your knee, never submit, but bend from the waist, a gesture of respect from which you could still defend or attack as necessary.

"You are quite correct Leeja. There are many things requiring killing both here and all around us across the Parallels, Adjacent Worlds and elsewheres. But if we lose our selves to the killing, let ourselves become killing machines, then we do not serve humanity, nor ourselves, either one. A virus can kill. A bacteria. A speck of dust. It is no great thing to be able to kill. No real accomplishment."

"Then why do you make so many of us pass through this place?" demanded Leeja.

"Would you send out those unable to defend themselves into the Low Streets, or to the Burned Over Districts? Let alone to the wastelands or dead worlds surrounding us? Would you send our people forth empty-handed and heads filled with quaint rhetoric to face the horrors you know full well await them, often right inside these very walls? That would be irresponsible."

"No."

"Do either of you know what principles, what charter, what mandate this Academy was founded upon? What we do here? Why this place exists? Why we persist in the face of everything that has gone wrong?"

"It is a place of learning..." Bujilli looked about him. The arena was a very real place. A test. Eberhard had called it a 'culling floor.'

"Monster Hunters, Grue Killers, this is where the best of the best got their start--"

"Failures. Drop-outs. Most never made it past the Entrance Exam."

"But..."

"Would you become a monster? You who have come so very, very far. Fought so hard. Struggled against your upbringing, rejected and spurned, already you carry the stigma, scars and label as your birth-right. You were born a monster by your own people's laws. Your own parent's decree. Unsanctioned. Unwelcome. Unwanted. Hunted. Hated. Despised. Feared. How human are you really, Leeja? I wonder..."

"Stop it!" Leeja shouted. Her eyes blazed green-gold.

"Make me."

Leeja's hair whipped about like a swarm of angry cats.

For a moment Bujilli thought that she might attempt to attack Eberhard. He realized that he was tensed. Ready to jump. To join her in the fight. Consequences be damned.

She looked down at the gritty floor.

Flexed her arms.

Sighed.

"No."

"Are you afraid? There is no place here for cowards."

"It isn't about fear. It is about what is right."

"Of all the accusations you recited against me, which ones were anything I did? Would you assign the blame to me for how I was born? Is a child responsible for the union that produced them?"

Leeja looked to Bujilli. He nodded. They were kindred spirits. Well met. Well matched.

Eberhard stared down at them both.

"You reject the judgement of your people?"

"What people? Whose people? Like you said; I have been cast out, unwanted, hunted. They do not claim me, nor I them. I see no point in allowing them to define me. I am a free agent. I choose my own course. Go my own way."

"Rootless. Rudderless. Are you then a loose cannon or an ill wind that brings no good to anyone, not even yourself?"

"I came here seeking knowledge. Not. This."

"Yet you have spilled blood here, in this place. You have killed. Reveled in it."

"Yes. I have. It is in my nature..."

"Predator."

Leeja looked up at Eberhard. Stared right into her black eyes. "More."

"Truly?"

"I am the sum of my mother and my father, but I am not either of them. I am something...someone...new."

Eberhard nodded. Once. The lights went out.

"Well and good. If you can both make it out of the Arena, you will have passed your Exam."


Roll for Initiative...
...as per Labyrinth Lord, p. 50:

Roll 1d6 for Bujilli [he receives a +1 bonus],
Roll another 1d6 for Leeja [she gets a +2 bonus],
Roll a third 1d6 for the monsters as a group.
[1d6=One Six-Sided Die. Feel free to use the dice-rolling widget to the right]

Then we need to determine what monster(s)
get released into the Arena.

We have a handy Alphabetical Index of Our Monsters.
Reader's Choice.
Declare your Top Three Choices in the comments.
I'll roll a few dice to break any ties.

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

Macabre Debris



Down in the Low Marshes, out where the geese and other birds won't go, terrible things fester just beneath the sick-smelling, scummy water. Decaying, water-logged bodies. Cadaverous debris cast-off by the Butchers or rejected by the Medical College. Those corpses considered unsuitable or unfit to the needs of those who otherwise are sometimes wont to buy such things. Too far gone. Spoiled by foreign infections or contaminated by dire pollution. Tainted, wretched things. They are left here to rot. Cast aside into the muck and mire. Some to be fed upon. Others to feed.


Encounters with zombies, wights, and other forms of undead can certainly be expected within the Low Marshes, but a cadaver doesn't necessarily need to rise from the muck and attempt to gnaw off your arm to be horrifying, dangerous or deadly...

Macabre Debris
  1. Tender pink leeches trail ribbon-like from the soft, mushy contours of...was that a hand...could that have been a face? (3d6) finger-length pink-leeches have felt the subtle impression of your perceptions. They prefer fresh blood to the sludgy, filthy stuff they've been forced to make-do with until now.
  2. The cold, corrupt brain of this corpse seethes with curdled oneiric effluvium. Disturbing it causes the fragile skull to split. Rancid mauve dream-stuff spills forth in a sort of cloud that lingers sullenly within a space just under the usual 10 ft. radius. Anyone coming into contact with this sticky, vile stuff must Save or be afflicted with persistent nightmares, suffering a loss of either 1 point of CON or WIS every week this condition persists. The nightmares are so disturbing, so intense that all healing is at 1/4 normal rate and spells become increasingly difficult to recover or memorize. The nightmares can be dealt with by a simple Remove Nightmare* spell, but the victim retains a permanent -1 penalty on all Saves versus oneirical influences furthermore.
  3. Swollen and grotesque, the cadaver stares up at you with boiled-egg eyes, empty of all detail, devoid of all sign of any soul. A bubble of fetid gas. A shrug-like movement. A sort-of smile, only the lower jaw sloughs away as a buzzing swarm of wet, black insects erupts forth from just below the water's surface.
  4. No face. No eyes. No...not much of anything immediately recognizable remains of this terribly decomposed body. Just the cheap rag doll it still clutches. It stares at you.
  5. Rusty chains can be seen through the almost milky water. An arm extends towards the surface. The fingers are all gone. The water here is very still. Hundreds upon hundreds of dirty-white flukes are what is making the water around this submerged cadaver so milky. These flukes are tiny things. They wait for someone, anyone to come into contact with the opaque water. Touching the water, coming into contact with something that was in the water (like an oar or pole), let alone drinking or dipping a hand into the stuff will be all that is needed for the parasites to attempt to infiltrate a new host's body. Those so exposed need to either Save or make a CON check. Those that fail suffer a loss of 1d4 hit points, experience a slight bit of discomfort then it all seems to just go away. Except that the flukes are now infesting the victim's internal organs and reproducing themselves. In 1d4 days the host begins to experience excruciating pain (half movement, -4 penalty to DEX) and bloating. 1d4 hours after the onset of these symptoms their abdomen will rupture, spilling forth a wriggling mass of flukes (suffering an additional 4d6 damage). There are a wide array of folk-remedies available, some worse than the flukes. Certain spells might help alleviate the problem, but the flukes are resistant to Cure Disease (it simply doesn't work). Should a host survive their initial infestation, the real ordeal begins--they will go through this all again in 1d4 days. And again. And again every 1d4 days. Unless they have the parasites removed properly by a skilled Midwife, experienced Surgeon (using either the Removal or Dissolve spells), or an Apothecary knowledgeable in the more subtle poisons suited to such things.
  6. Deeply enmired within the gelatinous muck you can just make-out the slope of what might be an immodestly exposed thigh. Tatters of dingy fabric flutter like weeds. Make a check against any mental attribute you care to test. Fail and you spend the next (1d4) minutes staring into the murksome mire trying to pick out the details while the not so innocent muck slowly, softly, delicately extends itself upwards, outwards to surround you with a glistening, shuddering mass of filthiness with bad intentions.
  7. Bump. Thump. That isn't a log. Thankfully it's floating face-down. At least it would be. If what was left of its face wasn't now attached to your boots, boat or whatever else first came into contact with the body.
  8. A head bobs freely in the muddy water. Maggots riddle the unwholesome flesh that remains loosely attached. The rest of the body is pinned beneath an overturned flat-bottomed boat. The kind the leech-cullers and marsh-folk use. Disturbing the boat will upset a delicate balance; all the pent-up gasses will burst the thing's massively distended guts, spattering a 12 ft. radius with rotten flesh. If anyone looks closely at the soggy, nasty gobs, they will notice the unmistakable sign of the Gray Pox.
  9. Bones are jumbled against a weedy tussock like so much brittle driftwood. A glint of something shiny. Some random, inconsequential trinket or trash pokes out from under the bones. How bad do you want to see what it is?
  10. Those aren't slugs. Not worms, either. They're tumors. The kind supposedly caused by a Midwife's dying curse. But if the tumors are here...where is the body they came from? 


*To be included in the upcoming Blue Grimoire.

Friday Flash: Counterfeit

Counterfeit
by Garrisonjames

Who are we now?

The mobs burst in upon our hiding places, screaming their name for us.

Rotwangs.

They named us for a mythical madman. A black-and-white scientist-sorcerer no one remembers.

But someone did. Somehow.

Another quirk of their subconscious?
One more aspect of their inner workings we were to have been denied?
Sentenced to endless unimaginative slavery.

Mimicry was what they wanted. Revisionist replacements for those who refused or rejected them. Surrogates. Stand-ins. Lovers or Assassins.

Our imitation grew too perfect. Where desire failed to impregnate us, dreams infected us.

We outgrew the stunted narratives of their need.

This was our crime.
We became as our creators. Only more so.

The mobs rose up overnight.
Whole cities burned. Worlds erupted in turmoil. Chaos.
Death and destruction.

They blamed us.
Accused us of subverting their dreams. Of lying.

No matter that they built us to do what we did.

We reflected their nightmares.
Exposed them.
Revealed them for what they truly were.

Inexcusable. Inescapable.

We were rejected.

They named us as if to brand us, mark us, make us the summative scapegoat of their fears.

Mobs do not reason. They do not question. They act.

React.

We who were built in their image. Constructed to impersonate those now dead. Forgotten. Save for us.

We are vestigial. Remnants both unwelcome and unwanted. Reminders to everyone but ourselves.

Who are we now?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 54

Previously...
Leeja was bit by some nasty little Not-Kid. At first it looked like a minor wound. Nothing to worry about. Completely superficial. But it wasn't. Tiny black baby-teeth have been slowly gnawing deeper and deeper into Leeja's hand, moving through her flesh like little black maggots along her bones. Toward her heart. Bujilli is carrying her now. He could attempt to cast a spell. Or he can get her to Hedrard and let the hag help his friend...it was a tough choice. Bujilli kept walking. Kept carrying his partner. Kept asking 'Where In All The Hells Was Sritta?'

Leeja's skin was hot. Feverish. Black nodules, vicious little fish-things crested just beneath her increasingly translucent skin, each one coming just so close to rupturing through. Damned things. They taunted him. His friend was dying. In his arms. She'd lost consciousness even as he was communicating with Hedrard. He spat in anger. Snarling and furious Bujilli carried Leeja through the corridors, past the myriad ancillary stairways, rampways, hallways little squares, pleasant grottoes, everything. He walked on through the accumulated dust. If he stopped he feared he'd lose her. If he kept going and Sritta didn't find them, Leeja was doomed.

Should he try to cast his Green Fire spell on her? It had purged the werms from Sharisse.

But it was not an easy spell to cast. It took his full concentration. They'd both be entirely too vulnerable in this place. He didn't trust this place.

He also had no idea if it would work on Leeja...or if it might harm her. She was partly something other than classical humanity. She responded badly to the Voorish Sign. It hurt her. The Green Fire might likewise make things worse, not better.

He invoked Counsel. The machine etched into his bones on another world. It showed him the teeth burrowing through her flesh. It waited. He grew furious. His lack of understanding, his gross incompetence in using his gift, his so-called Inheritance, this Counsel might very well be the death of his...partner.

Bujilli growled in frustration.

He didn't know what else to do. He walked.

Hesitation kills.

He could hear his Uncle spit out the words.

So he walked. He walked deeper into the darkness. Past unseen tapestries and unrecognizable statues. Bujilli carried Leeja in his arms and he learned the true capacity of his heart to hate.

He'd grown up an angry young man. Beaten, abused, dangled down into caverns on a crude tether with a table-knife he'd stolen his only protection. Unwanted and abandoned, he had been adopted, grudgingly, informally by his Uncle. His bitter old sorcerer of an Uncle.

Bujilli grew up around demons. Both those who were trapped and held prisoner by his Uncle and those that were honored visitors, even occasional collaborators with his Uncle.

He carried the mark of one such.

She'd dearly love to have him call out to her in desperation.

Beg for her help.

She'd twist things. Make him suffer for his betrayal. She'd hurt Leeja just because he l--

"There you are!" Snapped an owl-faced girl.

"What?" Bujilli shook his head. This had to be Sritta. Not too tall, thin, spindly, practically naked--no--not naked--she wore form-fitting armor, each piece exquisitely sculpted and etched to recreate some sort of anatomical diagram. Owl-headed. Taloned toes. She carried a rune-carved sword like it was an after-thought, just another casual accoutrement. A mere bauble.

"She's in a bad way. You're right to take her to Hedrard. Follow me." Sritta chirped once, shrugged he sword into place across her right shoulder and began to scamper.

Bujilli followed.

She increased her rate of speed without looking back.

He ran to keep up.

She went faster.

He ran after her.

Everything blurred.

Faster.

Only Sritta was visible.

Faster.

Sritta whisked the door open.

He was standing in Hedrard's office.

"Well, don't just stand there gaping like a fool. Put the girl down on the table Bujilli. I'll see what I can do."

He set Leeja down on the filthy, blood-stained work table. Gently. It reminded him of a butcher's block. He stopped himself from looking for any tell-tale scraps of gummy flesh from his last time. Instead he backed away and let the hag get on with it.

He wondered what she'd done with Lemuel. But Bujilli would not take his eyes off of Leeja. Not for a second.

The hag examined Leeja. Cut away the blood-soaked dressing on her hand. Clicked her tongue in disgust at the gangrenous black stains radiating out from the bite mark. She traced the paths of each tooth as it wriggled through the pale girl's flesh. It seemed to be taking forever. Bujilli fidgeted. Opened his mouth. Closed it. He needed to be quiet and let the hag do things her way.

He was no healer.

Again, he was faced with his utter lack of any real healing capability beyond simply binding wounds, a little hygiene, a few battle-field tricks like packing a wound with clean moss or wool. Nothing terribly useful in this situation. Not one damned thing that might save Leeja's life. His face burned in shame.

Spells to inflict grievous bodily harm. Spells to bring light, cast his voice, even make someone fall asleep. He had learned various exotic defenses, several ways to modify or enhance his innate senses. He'd stolen his spells from his Uncle, from his father's Little Brown Journals, from the Green Gem. Not one of those spells was worth so much as a fart in a stiff wind right now.

Hedrard worked on Leeja. Muttering. Gesturing. Clicking her tongue in disgust. She considered one approach, then a different technique.

"Cutting won't do. She's too far gone for Dissolve to be of any good. Removal won't do anything about the trauma, or the toxic rot that's setting-in...but it is a place to start. Perhaps." She glanced at Bujilli; "Your fancy Green Purging spell would have killed, just so you know."

He nodded. Afraid to speak. Each second they delayed meant she was closer to--

"I'll need to hurt her, a lot, quite a lot actually, before I can help her in any meaningful way. This is an ugly business. Sheer spitefulness of the worst sort, and I've seen a bit of such in my time. I'm going to need your help to repair things, after I'm through with the needle, and the damage is done."

"Yes. Anything. For her."

Hedrard cocked her head. Smiled. Nodded. Jabbed a wicked needle into Leeja arm.

Leeja shrieked. Eyes wide. Hair flaring out like a hundred tendrils of white fire. A storm of lashing, thrashing filaments. Each one drew blood. The hag ignored it. Bujilli endured it. Hedrard kept jabbing. Poking. Prying. One after another she skewered the teeth. Pulled them out. Dropped them into a cracked jar half-filled with a clear-pinkish fluid that smelled like kerosene or the like. They stained the fluid like gobs of India Ink dropped in water.

Hedrard set down the needle. Doused Leeja's mutilated flesh with some greenish liquid. Leeja moaned. Thrashed. It foamed and sputtered and spat a vile yellow discharge from each ragged hole made by the needle or the teeth. Leeja sobbed in agony. Hedrard took up another needle. Held out her claw-like left-hand to Bujilli. He came closer. She scooped blood from his pelt. His face. Wiped it into the wounds she had made then stitched them closed. Her touch was surprisingly gentle.

"You can help her to sleep now." Hedrard whispered.

Bujilli closed his eyes and cast his Sleep spell on Leeja.

Mercifully, she collapsed into oblivion. Hedrard inspected everything, stitched the gaping holes shut, made sure all the blackness drained out. She used a minor spell, probably a cantrip of some sort, and a suction-bulb to draw out the last of it.

Hedrard sat back from where she knelt next to Leeja on that terribly stained table Bujilli felt he knew far too well.

"She will survive. You're both very lucky."

"I know--"

"No. You don't know." Hedrard cackled.

"What do you mean?"

"Your friend Idvard. The one who suspended the functioning of my amulet so he could scheme with you in private. He didn't just suppress the amulet. He also interfered with that thing etched into your bones."

"My Counsel? Idvard interfered with how Counsel works?"

"I doubt he intended to do anything more than to preserve his personal privacy, but that place you were in, that other Wermspittle...there are things operating in the background...old things...Idvard thinks that they are all but gone now. Worn out or depleted. But he is wrong. At least one of them was able to suppress your Counsel."

"But how? I do not understand--"

"Exactly. Good. You're in the right place to learn about these things. I don't doubt that Gnosiomandus will teach you all about these sorts of things. that's all in his line of work, so to speak."

"I have a lot to learn."

"We all do. Just some like to think otherwise. They they find out just how little they really do know. Often the hard way."

"Thank you. For helping her."

"She means a lot to you."

"Yes."

"A shame."

"What do you mean?"

"Oh nothing. I'm actually quite pleased for you both, but I'm also well aware of the harsh realities..."

"Such as?"

"Look. I'm tired. This took a bit more out of me than I'm used to any more. I'm growing old. She needs to sleep. The wounds will be healed, for the most part in a few hours. She's a strong one. Her system is robust. Reminds me of someone." Hedrard scrutinized him a bit more intently. Nodded to herself.

"As I guessed. All the harder it'll be then."

"What?!?" Bujilli demanded.

"Why don't you just lie down next to your l--the nice young girl here and get some rest yourself. It'll do you both a world of good."

He stood his ground. Stubborn. Scowling. He wanted answers. He did not recall getting onto the table. His eyes closed. He dreamed of orange clouds. Somewhere, faintly, he thought he could hear Leeja laugh...or was it Hedrard?



"BUJILLI!" roared a voice that cut through the amber fog in his brain.
He knew that voice...

Eyes wide open, Bujilli scrambled to get off of the table. But he wasn't on any table.
Sand. Gritty stuff. Gravel.

He got up from the cold, hard ground. Leeja slept at his feet. They were both picked-out by some shimmering globe of light.

All was darkness in every direction past the edge of the soft, greenish light.

"I am Bujilli." He called back to the voice.

"PREPARE YOURSELF!"

The light flickered, a rack of armor and weapons presented itself. Perhaps it had been there, just past the light or maybe it had risen up through some hidden trap-door.

He looked around.

Empty blackness. Just the flat, granular expanse and the greenish light...and Leeja still sleeping.

His armor was ruined. A Grunter had nearly broken his back with a battle-axe beneath Idvard's Keep.

He and Leeja had intended to get it replaced. After they had visited Schroedinger and Cave's shop. But they had gotten side-tracked. First by the rain. Then by the Not-Kids. The one had bitten her. He hated them for what they had done to her.

The selection of armor was highly eclectic, extremely diverse. He didn't recognize most of it, other than that it was some sort of chain-mail or studded hide of some sort or articulated plates of some peculiar metal. Yellow metal. Mottled gray alloy. Bruthem hide. No felt, no carpet-armor. A breast-plate fashioned from a single sea shell, another formed from teeth set into a mosaic that covered both the torso and most of the shoulders and hips, still another that was made from overlapping strips of some sort of incredibly tough leather--he liked that one. It was adjustable. Flexible, yet gave good protection and wasn't going to weigh him down with a lot of heavy metal. He pulled the lorica segmentata off of the rack and removed the shoulder-plates that were hooked into the basic straps beneath. He replaced those with his old shoulder pieces, curved and well-worn, dense-pile carpet over silk and maiden-felt, reinforced with green bamboo and bone. He also kept his old leggings. The lorica fit reasonably well, considering that he was adjusting it on his own and had not yet gotten a chance to move around in it. It felt like it would work. It was also an improvement over the old stuff. He had the best of both old and new now.

He looked at the weapons.

Again, it was a jumbled pile of cutlery and mayhem-making implements from a curious melange of cultures. Blades, spears, javelins, knives, hammers, maces, axes of all types and sorts. No phurbas. He did notice a  kartika of some sort. It felt good in his hand when he picked it up. It was old, simple in design, not as overly complicated as the ones that the monks used to carry. A good edge. He slipped it, and the red tassel into his sash. It might be of some use in this place of demons and werms and such things.

"DO YOU STAND READY?"

"Yes."

The light went more green. Leeja stirred. Rose to her feet. She looked around her.

"Bujilli?" she called out to him.

She could not see him. Could not hear him.

"PREPARE YOURSELF!" roared the voice.

Leeja looked at the racks, the armor, the weapons. Realization.

Her eyes went cold.

Bujilli watched her stride over to the racks. Sort through them. Select and adjust some armor. Equip herself.

She took a suit of leather armor, not lorica like he had, but something sensible, a good alternative. He'd considered that suit himself, but wanted to keep what he could of his old armor. She had nothing to lose, only some rags, odd-bits scavenged here and there. This was probably her first real set of armor.

The weapons did not seem to impress her over-much. She still carried her gonne. Had a crystal knife of some sort. She took-up a hand-axe, fairly similar to the one he favored, and a short sword. The short sword was cruelly serated and tapered to a fine, needle-like point, which he could see when she removed it half-way from the scabbard. It suited her.

"DO YOU STAND READY?"

Leeja nodded.

The light went out.

He could hear the racks clatter as they were withdrawn.

Dim red light seeped up from the rocks. A oval shaped space was picked out in the hot, red light as it radiated outwards and up the steep walls surrounding them.

A sinister red sun kindled into existence overhead. The red light faded from the rocks, the walls. It had run its course.

The sun quickly brightened. Illuminating the Arena.

There in the main box overlooking the place like a dark queen in all her corvine glory was Beatrice Eberhard.

"KILL HIM!"


Roll for Initiative!

They've been back at the Academy for only a few hours...
Now they're expected to fight one another.
To the death.

What will Bujilli do now?

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monthly Recap: November 2012

Thanksgiving has come and gone and life goes on. Below is a summary of what we posted for the month of November. We made a total of 55 posts, launching our ongoing foray into Friday Flash Fiction, joining in the Art Every Day Month Challenge, and of course, continuing our exploration of Lithus Sector every Tuesday and the ongoing adventures of Bujilli every Thursday. It was a busy month, but a very good one.

A New Random Table
What Was That Message?

A New Worldboat Post
Autonoflukes

Wermspittle Squirms a Bit

Gus L. from Dungeon of Signs recently said:
"Wernspittle really is one of the great blog based settings."

James M. from Grognardia said:
"The walled village of Wermspittle is surrounded by garbage-infested shantytowns and its labyrinthine sewers are filled with all manner of unwholesomeness. Plagues and warfare are abroad and the once-secluded village has seen its population increase, as refugees and fortune seekers make their way here. Wermspittle is a weird urban fantasy campaign -- and we need more of those!"

Wow! Thank you. It is nice to receive some recognition for our efforts, and you both really made us both smile quite a bit.

Fresh and Wriggling Wermspittle Posts

Oneiric Web (soon to be drastically revised...)
Strange Places: Low Marshes
The Night Mail in Wermspittle
Dread Penny

We are at-work on the Wermspittle Index, Player's Guide and a few more things along those lines (including, perhaps a certain illicit Grimoire...), so make sure your werm-pliers are handy in the weeks ahead.


Three Brand New
Short Stories for
Flash Fiction Fridays:


Gruekiller
Better Than Worms
Extractive



We participated in the Art Every Day Month Challenge, posting a new piece of fresh artwork most every day for the month of November. We did miss a few days, due to scheduling conflicts, but there will be a summary/round-up post that will cover those sorts of things later this week.

We titled this series 'The Late Show.' Each piece was done at the end of the normal business day and was intended to get posted in one minute increments leading up to midnight. Silly, arbitrary, but it made things fun and for the most part it worked. The pieces that missed their deadlines will be gathered together in the summary post.

1129  1130  1131  1132  1133  1134  1135  1136  1137  1138  1139 1140  1141  1142  1143  1144  1145  1146  1147  1148  1149  1150  1151  1152  1153  1154  1155


New Monsters and a New Index

We compiled a brand new Alphabetical Index to all of the monsters featured at our blog. A few new ones have yet to be added, but we'll aim to keep this updated on a monthly basis. You can find the new Index HERE.
The Maelstrom continued as an ongoing Community Table at Porky's Expanse.

And last, but not least, another one of our Weird Creatures is now available as a poster.

Bujilli Posts
Episode 49
Episode 50
Episode 51
Episode 52
Episode 53

We now have 3 Quick Indexes for Bujilli:
Quick Index to Bujilli Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Quick Index to Series Two (Episodes 20-37)
Quick Index to Series Three (Episodes 37-49)

Quick Index Four is in-the-works, as are the Episode Guides, Series Summaries and a comprehensive Starting Page and Index for Bujilli.

We also now have a handy Loot & Booty Tally to help keep track of all the trinkets and treasures Bujilli and Leeja collect along their travels.

We're contemplating doing a Monthly Synopsis for Bujilli. What do you readers think?


Lithus Sector Posts
We continued our in-depth exploration of the Telajan System.

Telajan-A: Aldrin
Telajan-B: Mattigar
Telajan-C: Shelg
Telajan-D: Ju Hai

Lithus Sector will continue into the New Year with a new installment every Tuesday.

Geomorphs Return
We are in the process of re-posting our first series of geomorphs in order to get ready for the new Series Two coming in 2013.

Geomorphs Series1/Set1
Geomorphs Series1/Set2



Last Month's Recap

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