Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bujilli: Episode 64


Previously...
Enough is enough. Bujilli was summoned away from the Academy in Wermspittle to play his part in another foul scheme of this conniving Uncle. It took some doing, but Bujilli finally got something approximating the truth from his Uncle. He was called back to this place, the mountain pass where he'd grown up. The place he thought that he'd escaped years ago. His Uncle wanted him to kill his father. The human sorcerer who'd murdered Bujilli's mother. Having grown up more than a little conflicted and confused about his parentage, heritage and so forth, Bujilli faced a difficult, complicated decision. First he knocked his Uncle unconscious. Put him under a Sleep spell. Rigged-up a travois. Then headed out, away from the Cave of the Centipedes, which his Uncle had picked for a place of his own choosing. The Monastery of the Antazzic Order. It may be burning, perhaps even under the control of the Yeren, but Bujilli knew something about that place that his Uncle didn't. With luck, his Father was just as ignorant in this matter...

As desperate gambles went...it wasn't the worst risk he'd ever taken...necessarily...

Whiteness glared. Snow kept falling. It was wet, heavy. It also was filling-in his tracks. Even with the bundle of soft pine branches tied behind the travois. That was a good trick. One he'd learned from a fur trapper he'd met in his travels, in another mountain range, on the other side of this world.

Bujilli had the distinct feeling that he was being followed. Probably more Yeren. Out from the woods. Prowling for meat. He knew how they tended to hunt. Knew very well. He used to hunt them. Long ago. When he was younger. Angrier.

He was cold now. Not just from the snow.

His Uncle was like a poisonous tumor. A source of disquiet and turmoil. Always lying. Constantly scheming. Forever placing Bujilli at risk, thrusting him into harm's way, only to satisfy his opaque machinations and crass greed. But the old Almas had been the only family Bujilli had really ever had. His mother, an Almas, one of the not quite humans who dwelt in the high mountains, was killed before he'd got all his first set of teeth. His father...some mysterious human sorcerer from the Low Lands. He didn't know much about his father. Other than it was his father who'd murdered his mother. Or at least that was the story he'd grown up with. The story his Uncle had told him frequently and often.

Bujilli slipped on some ice. Dropped to his knee. Jarring. He looked around. The snow obscured practically everything. He was lucky if he could see ten feet away before the stuff swirled up and hid everything. Perfect Yeren weather.

Crunch.

Bujilli smirked. He would almost have been disappointed if someone, something had not been following him. No scent came to him on the wind. He wasn't sure who, or what, might be out there, but for now they seemed to be keeping their distance. Some caltrops would have been handy. Scattered behind him, anyone following his trail too closely would regret it. But alas, he hadn't brought any along with him. He considered a spell. No sense in wasting time. He grabbed hold of the travois poles and got going again.

The way down the trail from here was slippery. He nearly lost control of the travois twice. Almost dropped his Uncle's sleeping form into a deep ravine. Almost.

He stopped. Smoke. He could smell it whenever the wind shifted. They were close now.

Closer than he'd thought. The wall loomed before him, close enough to reach out and touch. He did. Now all he needed to do was follow it around to the entrance.

crunch.

Bujilli closed his eyes. Whatever was out there was keeping its distance. Biding its time. Not like a Yeren. They had exceptionally poor impulse control. No attention spans. They just prowled and ran after anything they scared forth, or went looking for likely hiding places from which to drive potential prey. Opportunists. They only rigged-up ambushes down in the dark woods where they lurked. Dead-falls. Pits. Snares. In the woods, Yeren were clever and cruel, away from their chosen ground they were clumsy, less confident.

He jerked the travois back into motion. Headed to the entrance. He hoped his choice of terrain would work to his favor. He knew he'd need any edge he could get. Whatever else might be true, his father was a sorcerer. A person of power. And his Uncle feared him. Wanted him dead, at Bujilli's hand.

His father was largely an unknown to him, but what his Uncle had told him made it clear that whatever his own feelings in the matter, his father very likely saw Bujilli as some sort of threat to his personal safety. After all, his Uncle had summoned him back from Wermspittle, ostensibly to kill his father. That alone made it clear that Bujilli could be used to harm is father. Like a tool. A weapon.

Bujilli spat in disgust. He remembered the sword he'd encountered beneath Zormur's Palace*. The wickedly jewelled and ensorcelled blade that contained a restless spirit that had tried to tempt him into becoming its wielder, its slave. That blade had a will of its own. It served its own agenda. If that cursed thing could claim its own fate and strive towards its own goals, how could he settle for anything less?

The left door was wide open, but the right remained steadfastly in place. Even a pack of Yeren couldn't take those ponderous doors off of their hinges.

He pulled the travois onto the cobbles of the paved area leading into the Monastery and set it down. The walls were intact. As far as he could see. The snow was thinning out. It was getting too cold for the snow. But the clouds still loomed all curdled and tormented overhead.

The scent of smoke was strong now. Pine smoke. Sooty and resinous. There were twigs, branches and needles scattered everywhere around the doors. As though loads of rough-cut wood were dragged into the place.

He drew his hand-axe. Padded softly to the doors. Listened. Then entered.

Someone had piled-up a great mass of logs and brush wood toward the back of the central open space of the Monastery. It still blazed. Sparks drifted on the swirling wind. Smoke billowed upwards. The wall behind it was blackened. Every shutter, every door was hacked to bits and splinters. Blood and filth was splattered across the walls, the columns, the railings. Dead Yeren littered the cobbles. The heat from the fire keeping them free from most of the snow.

A siege. Of sorts. As he had suspected.

He went back and dragged his Uncle in past the big doors. He examined the heavy chains that worked them. Everything was in order. He closed the doors. Dropped the bar.

The snow had stopped falling.

Whomever had been following him was locked outside.

Now he had to decide whether to hunt down whatever Yeren remained in this place...or set his ambush into motion while he still had a slight advantage in terms of timing.

At least he hoped he still had some sort of lead on his father.

But time was running out. Either he secured the area, or he took his chances. Either way, any Yeren left in the place would sense his sorcery and come to investigate...

...and if he hesitated much longer, his father might summon him, just as his uncle had...



*See Series One.

Bujilli has to choose between prudence or pre-emptiveness.
Does he clear the area in order to secure his position before attempting a sorcerous confrontation with his father?
Or does he move now, before his father can act, and seize the advantage before it is too late?

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. Confront his father! I pity the Yeren that interferes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Confrontation seems inevitable. The Yeren may well have reason to remember why they used to hate and fear that one little Almas who dared to hunt them...

      Delete
  2. That's a tough one, for sure. Like Arnie I'm confident Bujilli is a force to be reckoned with, but if he will be at the limit dealing with his father, it could prove costly not to secure the position first and risk being jumped at a critical moment. Even one Yeren could prove a distraction enough - and we don't know what killed those Yeren or could have crept in while the door was open.

    As a compromise solution, rather than search the whole place, he could cast Speak With Dead to find out quickly what happened, or Listen to the Walls for the same, but in the latter case maybe also to find the most secure location nearby, to get out of the open. Gates and defensive walls won't stop everything, and the central open space may allow anything inside good freedom of movement to attack from various points in the complex.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah but now Bujilli has a significant choice to make. You set it out perfectly. Using Speak With Dead on the Yeren might get him some answers, but the spell does not make the dead automatically helpful or particularly friendly. Yeren are spiteful things. they could lie or attempt to set Bujilli up for an ambush. But, that said, this is a good suggestion. It could help prep him for whatever else might be on the premises...

      Listen to the Walls is another excellent choice. That spell would be more likely to give some honest feedback, and like you said, it might help Bujilli locate a secure position and/or his enemies.

      That central open space might also be a good spot for Bujilli to look up in the sky...

      Delete
  3. I was going to suggest the opposite - clear this place first.

    The writing here is beautiful. Confident. There are some nice turns of phrase, such as: "opaque machinations and crass greed" and "The scent of smoke was strong now. Pine smoke. Sooty and resinous."

    Feels right as we approach winter here in Minnesota.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay then, we have two options, both very good choices, to consider. Hmmm...I'll see if I can set up a poll first thing Monday. Maybe that would be a good way to handle this matter, by letting readers vote.

      Thanks for the kind words. It feels good to be getting back into writing Bujilli's adventures again. We're rapidly approaching a major turning point for our favorite half-almas. Finally getting a chance to confront his father will be a huge thing for Bujilli, one way or another, for good or ill. It will be the culmination of a major arc for him.

      Our recent trip out to the Fargo/Moorhead area has been very inspiring...

      Winter is coming, and that just makes Wermspittle loom a little closer as well...

      Delete
  4. To be clear, I was suggesting the opposite tack from Arnold K (and hello, Arnold!), not Porky. If you'd care for a random card draw from The Deck of Fate, I pulled a card with the quite possibly dueling Aspects "It's All In The Reflexes: and "Coming Up Roses" - might provide useful inspiration for the spells Porky suggests casting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe we should consider adding some FATE stuff to Bujilli, like these cards...those are some interesting cards...

      Delete
  5. I think Bujilli needs to know a little bit more about what's been happening here. Before he casts any spells, can Counsel give him any feedback on the layout, where Yeren may be hiding, and if the follower is indeed still outside the walls (it may have known another way in), etc.? Counsel might not register as sorcerous ("any Yeren left in the place would sense his sorcery and come to investigate"), giving him a little bit of extra time to get ready. I also like the idea of him casting Listen to Walls (potentially more objective info) once he's ready to cast spells.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Counsel can tell him a little bit about the area, but there are wards in-place that hamper its usefulness. These wards are what Bujilli is counting on to hinder his father's sorcery. If that works out.

      There are three Yeren hiding on mezzanine, just to the left of the blazing fire. One is badly wounded.

      The place appears empty otherwise. As far as Counsel can determine. It cannot perceive the lower levels. Something blocks it.

      Delete

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