Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bujilli: Episode 62


Previously...
Whisked away from Wermspittle by a demon with the help of his conniving Uncle, Bujilli has been brought back home, after a fashion. A cave in the Yaddivar Highlands overlooking a heavily forested gorge, one of the caves he once was forced to go dangling for treasure by his Uncle. The Cave of the Centipedes. A place Bujilli once swore he'd never come back to for any reason whatsoever. Now, due to a treacherous sorcerous intervention, he was right back where he never wanted to be ever again. Brought here against his will, Bujilli was forced to face a sordid bit of his childhood that he had fervently tried to forget. Ahtrishka. The demoness who once marked him, claimed him as her own. But Bujilli is not a child any longer, something Ahtrishka learned to her everlasting regret. Finally free of the demoness, Bujilli finds himself confronted with his duplicitous Uncle. But before he can come to terms with his so-called guardian and former tormentor, four axe-wielding Mountain Yeren lunge into the cave intent on hacking Bujilli to bits. He only has time to consider one disturbing thought before engaging his long-time enemies: did his Uncle deliberately attract the Yeren?

Green light faded, a blurry visual echo seeping into the rough-hewn walls of the cave. His Uncle's Voorish Sign had done its intended job. Bujilli glared at his Uncle. The old bastard grinned at him, pointed to the entrance, to the Yeren. There wasn't time to deal with the rotten old sorcerer. Not yet.

Bujilli faced the incoming Yeren. It was like old times. He could sense none of the usual tell-tales of a shaman or other spell-caster among them so he used Julindi's Darts* to demolish the lead Yeren's face. That bought him time enough to draw both tulwar and hand-axe, and to choose his next target.

The lead Yeren screamed in rage and pain. Dropped it's axe. Clutched it's face as steaming blood gouted forth. The other three shoved him aside. Either he recovered, or he'd be meat later. Yeren were a hard people, extremely practical in such matters. Meat was meat.

The Cave of the Centipedes had been expanded and reinforced by Almas. It was scaled for much shorter humanoids. It wasn't the best place for trying to swing a heavy axe around. If anything, it favored Bujilli who knew the place all too well.

Slash! A wound blossomed on the shaggy forearm of one Yeren. Hack! Bujilli's hand-axe bit deep into the shoulder of another. The third Yeren growled in frustration--the others blocked it from making any sort of attack.

Bujilli yanked loose his hand-axe, spun and drove it square into the chest of the second Yeren. His tulwar slashed across the eyes of the first one. He stepped back. Ripped the axe free again. The cave echoed with the growls of the Yeren. One could barely hold its axe any more. Its partner couldn't see clearly. The one in back was getting impatient, anxious to get into the fight.

The Yeren with the ruined face roared in blind rage. It was charging. Regardless of its fellows.

The one in back cut it down with a heavy chop of its axe.

Bujilli dodged a back-handed swipe. He slid in after the axe. Struck the Yeren in the upper arm with both blades. The arm was ruined. Only a few tendons kept it from falling free. Its axe fell to the floor of the cave.

Too bad it had been the already blinded one.

The other Yeren chopped at Bujilli's legs. He barely avoided the blow. Almost lost his footing. The floor was slick with Yeren blood.

Bujilli withdrew farther back into the cave. The space got narrower as it went back, making it more awkward for his opponents.

One slipped. He lunged. Scored a wicked strike alongside the Yeren's outstretched arm. Followed up with a heavy blow to the foul-smelling thing's thigh. It dropped to its knees. It's companion leaped forward, axe raised high and howling a war-cry.

The axe struck the ceiling. Sparks flew. Bujilli gutted the Yeren.

Another axe nearly took Bujilli's head.

He rolled. His right ear was bleeding. He continued the roll then sprung upwards right at the axe-wielder, skewering them through the throat with his tulwar.

The tulwar stuck.

Bujilli let it go and moved back before a Yeren's axe nearly caught him.

Then an axe crashed into the cave wall less than an inch from his own face. He lashed out with his hand-axe. It bit deep into the attacker's shoulder. It too was pulled from his hand.

He shuffled backwards. Deeper still into the cave.

There wasn't time to get fancy. No spells. The Yeren would sense his sorcery and strike him down before he could do anything worth casting. They were well used to killing sorcerers. He knew better than to attempt to use his short bow--he'd never get it strung in time. But an arrow. That he could use. It was certainly better than nothing.

He slid out one of the barbed cold-iron arrows he had taken from Idvard's Keep. The Yeren grunted mockingly. He could feel it's hot breath as the filthy thing came at him.

Timing. It's everything. Especially in an apparently uneven fight.

Bujilli watched the axe descend. Then he jumped forward. Jammed the arrow upwards into the soft part under the Yeren's lower jaw. It sunk into the thing's flesh. He rammed it upwards. Hard.

The axe clattered to the floor.

Bujilli dodged to the side.

The Yeren stood gasping. Staring bulgy-eyed and startled.

Bujilli retrieved his hand-axe. One quick blow to its knees and the surprised Yeren fell forwards, driving the arrow out through its skull.

He didn't bother retrieving his tulwar until all four heads were lined-up just outside the entrance.

The arrow was broken. Irretrievable.

So it goes.

If he was staying, he'd cut some saplings into stakes and mount the heads. That was what the Yeren did. What they expected. Tradition. It marked a spot as being deadly to the kin and kind whose heads had been taken. It was the only ward that anyone knew for holding back the Yeren. A crude cultural taboo. It didn't always take a spell.

He wiped his weapons clean using the matted hair of the dead Yeren. They didn't wear a whole lot. Mostly some bones, vertebrae and teeth tied into their filthy hair. One had a blue-green rag, a silken scarf of some sort, bound around it's left ankle. Another wore half of an ill-fitting bronze vambrace that had been crudely re-worked to almost fit its fore-arm. He knew better than to look for anything useful on the Yeren corpses. If they'd have had anything worthwhile, they wouldn't have been prowling around in these woods so far from their usual hunting grounds.

His breath came in white puffs that mingled and mixed with the steam rising from the dead Yeren. The cave reeked of Yeren, blood, sweat, death.

No matter; he had no intention of sticking around.

He looked down upon the decapitated bodies of the Yeren. The old hate hadn't come to him. Not like it used to. Not like he was used to.

He didn't need it.

His Uncle stepped out of the shadows towards the back of the cave.

Bujilli simply stared at the old sorcerer. He considered cutting his throat, if only for old time's sake or on general principles, but decided to give him a chance to say his piece beforehand, just in case there was a good reason to not end things then and there.

His Uncle glared back at Bujilli.

They both stood there. Eyes locked. Neither budging.

Finally the Uncle looked away. Spat on the floor in disgust.

"Fine. Yes. I admit it; I drew the Yeren to us."

Bujilli stared at the old Almas. He felt cold. Clean. Empty. Ready to do anything.

"I needed to know for certain if you could stand up to them..."

"Wermscheiss!" Bujilli laughed. He'd spent too long in Wermspittle. He swore like someone from there now.

His Uncle cringed visibly. Some part of him seemed to cave in upon itself. He didn't look all that threatening any more. Not like he used to, like when he terrorized and brutalized a small boy. Those days were gone now.

"One Reason." Bujilli growled.

"What?"

"Give me one good reason not to kill you right where you stand."

His Uncle cringed visibly. Looked down at the cave floor. Heaved a heavy sigh.

"I helped you destroy Ahtrishka--"

"After consorting and conspiring with her to summon me here in the first place."

"I had no choice--"

"We're sorcerers--we always have a choice. You taught me that."

"Then for that reason alone you might spare my life."

"Why did you bring me here?"

"I need your help..."

"So you colluded with that demon-bitch Ahtrishka to bring me back? Not the best way to inspire me to be particularly helpful..."

"I wasn't worried about her. I summoned her up in the first place. I built the cage she used to be locked-up inside...until someone released her."

"I considered it a parting gift."

"Ungrateful, reckless scoundrel. You cost me a great deal in your leaving."

"Do you truly wish for a full accounting between us old man? Grateful? You would have me thank you for your beatings, your continual abuse, your forcing me to go down into dark places in search of salable trinkets without so much as a knife to defend myself with--"

"Until you stole one."

"Like I had a choice."

"You did. You made it. You took what you needed."

"I was a child."

"And you survived. You became one of the best danglers ever, until you got too big to squeeze into the deepest nooks and crannies."

"It certainly wasn't from growing fat on the scraps you begrudgingly left for me."

"You needed to be hungry so that you'd come back. It was motivation to find something worthwhile."

"Like my tulwar."

"Exactly. You still owe me my fair share for letting you keep it--"

"Hah! Take it if you dare. We both remember what happened last time you tried to claim it."

"Damned thing nearly took my head off. It's your blade now, whomever forged it or wielded it long ago, it belongs to you now. But I am still owed my due as your sponsor and legal guardian--"

"I owe you nothing."

"Not true. Who taught you spell-casting?"

"Hah--I taught myself far more than anything you ever tried to teach me--"

"And who taught you how to read? How to open your first grimoire?"

"Every spell I learned during my time with you I had to steal from behind your back."

"Of course; a sorcerer capable of trapping and binding a demon such as Ahtrishka would be so easily fooled by such a clever little boy like yourself. Fool. I allowed you to 'steal' those books, to study those spells."

"Why?" Bujilli shifted on his feet. He had always thought that he had gotten away with something. Now he doubted. He considered how things had happened. It had been far too convenient. It was distressing to feel a long cherished illusion get dashed into bits, to discover that he was not quite as clever as he had always imagined himself.

"Why? You dolt! You were never going to bring back the really valuable stuff unless you could find it, and survive long enough to return with it."

"But why not just teach me what I needed to know?"

"You hated me. You would never trust me. Besides, you had a better idea of what you needed or could use than anything I might consider appropriate or useful. Better you learned to fend for yourself than rely upon me or anyone else. Especially in terms of learning the art and science of sorcery. Believe it or not, I gave you the greatest gift of all by not making you an apprentice and binding you to me--I allowed you to retain your freedom."

"One cannot give what is not their's in the first place."

"No. But I could have demanded your servitude--"

"You treated me like a slave--"

"I made you strong. I made you a sorcerer."

"You stole my childhood. Beat me. Bullied me. Forced me into the deep, dark places in order to scrape out some bit of over-looked loot or buried trinket. You made me rob old forgotten graves and tombs so you could grow rich and fat."

"Yes. I was hard on you. Yes. I did terrible things. I am an Almas. I am a sorcerer. I never wanted you. Never asked for you. But when my sister was abandoned by your sire it was left to me to tend to her. When he tired of her and murdered her, I was left with her half-breed child."

"I never asked for you to take me in."

"No. But I did. I made many mistakes, but I am a sorcerer, not a wet-nurse or a parent. I was ill equipped to raise such a willful mongrel."

"You never did anything that wasn't to your benefit somehow, someway."

"Like I said: I am a sorcerer."

"Enough. What is done is done. I'm not a child any more. I have my own life now. Why did you call me back here?"

"Your father..."

"What about him?"

"He has returned."

"So what is that to me?"

"He intends to call you to him, even as I did, only he intends to destroy you, even as he destroyed your mother."

"And you summoned me here ahead of him? Why?"

"I want your help to destroy him. Before he destroys us both."


So...should Bujilli stick around to hear his Uncle out? Or should he start working out how to get back to Wermspittle? Or should he head out into the snowstorm, perhaps head back to the village where he grew up or perhaps go poke around in the old monastery across the gorge that the Yeren set on fire? Or is there another option you'd like to see?


You Decide!

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


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

10 comments:

  1. Since he is here now, I think Bujilli should stay to meet his father

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    1. Might make for a strange reunion of sorts, but it could also answer some lingering questions and maybe give Bujilli a better sense of his heritage on the paternal/human side...

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  2. Nice to see you writing again! It seems like things come in threes, including betrayals. Perhaps seizing and binding his Uncle Bujilli should then pump him for information. Relocating might also be useful - any gossip on the monestary? It could be shelter if it's not haunted.

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    1. Hi Gus, I'm slowly getting back into things and will hopefully be posting more often, more regularly in the coming weeks. I have a table in-progress for you. There's a lot of folklore about things coming in threes--good, bad, otherwise. Betrayal seems to be his Uncle's stock-in-trade, so exercising caution is definitely a good idea. Seizing/binding the Uncle could get interesting...but the cavern is not a good place for that--there are Yeren out and about--so perhaps relocating would be a smart move first. The Monastery is the closest obvious shelter. There are caves a bit farther out, but they'll be right through the forest where the Yeren are on the prowl. going another route will lead back to the Uncle's yurt and the cliff-side village Bujilli grew up in, but again it is twice as far along the trail as the monastery, and the Yeren are really stirred-up for some reason.

      As to gossip about the monastery, it was built centuries ago by a radical sect of mystics from the far South. They spent their time contemplating deep, esoteric symbols and performing elaborate rituals, which pretty much kept them out of trouble, so people left them alone. They may or may not have brought relics with them from the South. They may or may not have had dealings with beings from other levels of existence. There used to be guardians watching over the place, unsleeping-unliving things that would have to have been destroyed for anyone to desecrate and plunder the place. That would take some serious doing and not a little sorcery.

      Bujilli's Uncle has had dealings with the old monks in the past, but Bujilli never was able to learn just what the monks came to the yurt to discuss, nor what sort of trading or bartering they had going. Bujilli suspected there was some sort of demonology involved, but never found out before he left...

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  3. Bujilli needs to take a peek outside and see if the old monastery really is burning, as his uncle stated in Episode 61. From what I can see, nothing he says should be assumed to be true.

    Bujilli was able to establish contact with Leeja in Episode 61, but has he been able to ascertain if Counsel is available here and now? If so, it might be able to provide insight on what's got the Yeren stirred-up. It might also be able to give some history on the monastery. The more Bujilli knows, the better.

    I do think Bujilli needs to deal with his dad on his terms rather than waiting for his dad to deal with him. He needs details from his uncle about how the uncle knows the father's intentions, both to summon Bujilli and to destroy him. For that matter, Bujilli needs more real, adult-level details about his dad in general. He's a human sorcerer. What more does Bujilli know? What more can his uncle tell him?

    Again, everything the uncle says is suspect. Listening to the words not said can be more informative than the story being told.

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    1. The Monastery is burning. Leeja...is occupied. We'll see more about that later. Things did not come to a stand-still back in Wermspittle once Bujilli left. Far from it.

      The choice set before Bujilli in this episode is to either deal with his father, or get dealt with by hi father, at least that's how his Uncle is presenting things...

      I take it you do not trust Bujilli's Uncle any more than Bujilli does...that's probably for the best...

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  4. There seems to be a consensus building through the comments and I'll back it too.

    He should listen to what his Uncle has to say, but reading between the lines, and perhaps consider a more sophisticated way to bind him. Of course, it may be enough that Bujilli is needed, for now. Head for the monastery if it seems the safer option at this point, but bearing in mind it is still a very large unknown, and not only might it not offer any respite, it could add whole new factors to the problem. Given that, does Bujilli know a reasonably secure spot deeper in the cave complex?

    Also, how confident is he, potentially with Counsel, that he actually can get himself back to Wermspittle, or at least find the means to do so? What level of preparation might be needed, in terms or material and time? That's key to any plan. Perhaps the monastery could help with it? It would be one good reason to visit.

    Before leaving, he might want to be sure there's nothing else he wants, no residue or trace of Ahtrishka or Yeren that could be of use.

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    1. Interesting idea there...a more sophisticated way to bind a hostile sorcerer. Sounds much better than trying to break past all his defenses and hack off his head, though that also does have a lurid sort of appeal to it.

      There are no safer spots in the cavern complex, in fact it gets really dangerous really quickly, once you descend down the main shaft. The warm region surrounding the shaft is literally crawling with centipedes of various sorts and sizes, each preying upon the other in a very twisted and highly unnatural pseudo-ecology. Bujilli knows his way around down there, but he can't fit through the narrow passages he'd need to get past in order to reach anything resembling a quiet/less hazardous space.

      The very idea makes his scars itch...

      A quick inquiry to Counsel affirms that re-opening the way back to Wermpsittle is within his power...from this location. Moving will make it more problematic, shifting the equations and skewing the math needed for it to come out right. However, if his father's refuge is a typical sorcerer's lair, it may contain a few things that could assist in the process.

      There's nothing left in that cavern system that Bujilli wants any longer. Yeren hides are worthless. The axes are too awkward for a non-Yeren to really get much use out of them; very warped handles and an odd distribution of weight that suits the Yeren's peculiar physiques. Ahtriska is gone...maybe for good. In any case, Bujilli is done with this place.

      Also, regarding 'safe spots,' with the snow falling outside, this is perfect Yeren weather and they are most assuredly on the prowl all over this area. The safest places are unlikely to open up to a stranger for fear they might be a Yeren under a glamour or worse. Bujilli's uncle is unwelcome in most of the local villages, except when someone has a possessing demon or something else equally as noxious and horrid going on that he is then called in--grudgingly--to deal with, before they kick him out again.

      The Monastery might be a good place to go examine. It at least could possibly afford some protection, might be more defensible than the cave. It is only assumed that the Yeren set it on fire...based on what the Uncle said. Not the most reliable source.

      Of course, it would help to know where Bujilli's father has set-up shop, so to speak...

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    2. I'm so far behind, but it's going to be a lot of fun catching up. This is all good information. Have you thought about a Bujilli's Sojourn sourcebook? All the fine details from your comments could go in, like this sketch of the pseudo-ecology and the Yeren axes. Maybe in the form of numbered references to be used as a table. It could be a very inspirational resource.

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    3. No worries Porky. I'm working on stories for Leeja and a few other characters that have crossed Bujilli's path, and some of those narratives also intersect with this series, so old episodes will take on something of a new life all over again.

      Yes, a Sourcebook is in the works, after the two PDFs I'm trying to finish right now reach a point where I can hand them off to beta readers for proofing and comments. We'll definitely be adding-in all the stuff scattered across the comments and have some fresh new things in there as well. There are also a few pieces of Bujilli fiction that are in-progress as well, so there will be a lot more Bujilli stuff going on starting this week...

      There will be tables...

      ...lots of tables.

      Thanks for the suggestions!

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