Bujilli shivered. Cold. Bloodied. Standing alone in a deep dark place. Only this time he was accompanied by a ghost. It was like so much of his childhood all over again. Even if his wounding was only superficial and by his own hand. This time.
He called out his father's name a second time.
Arcane Geometries swirled through weird sequences of no discernible order.
A third call.
It was working. He could feel it in his bones. Or was that his Counsel somehow letting him know the spell was effective? Did it matter?
He began to cast Shield. It was the accepted form, what most sorcerers would expect. Then he considered Zone of Normality, one of the spells he'd learned from the Gem of Muktra. He felt the loop of white hair around his finger. He wasn't alone in this dark place. Not really. Not this time.
Smiling, he cast Zone of Normality and remembered how he had felt in Wermspittle. Alongside her. Running across rooftops with his partner. Fighting beside the girl with the long white hair. Leeja.
He began to cast Shield, if only as a formality of sorts. Good manners. He got half-way.
"Who Dares!" roared a malevolent voice.
The geometries flickered. Locked down into a spiral of overlapping triangles that blurred into a circle of green light.
A figure stood at the heart of the circle. A grim silhouette. Bujilli thought he'd be taller.
The light shifted from crisp light green to wavering deep violet.
"I am Bujilli. I called you here. Father." He had trouble not spitting in disgust from the foul taste of the word.
"Not without help. Not without goading." Accused the dark figure of Lyhydris.
"That is beside the point--"
"That is precisely the point! Why else would I have answered your summons?"
"You would have summoned me, sooner or later, if I had not acted first--"
"Your Uncle does you no favors my son--"
"Who are you to call me son?" Bujilli spat in anger.
"Do you have another father? I think not."
"I'd rather be an orphan that your son.."
"And yet you summoned me here. Why?"
"My Uncle said--"
"That lying sack of dung. And has he told you how he infected your mother with a hateful mold and sent her to kill me on my last night among her people?"
"What? What are you saying? You killed her. I know you did. You can't deny it--"
"Of course I killed her. She was no longer truly herself any longer. Her mind was driven from her body. The mold controlled her flesh. It acted under your Uncle's orders. I destroyed the corrupted shell. Released her from her torment."
"You're surprised. Shocked even. Obviously your Uncle intended for you to be so full of righteous indignation, so blinded by long nurtured hatred and anger that you would strike out at me before we might talk. That's how he works. Clever, conniving bastard. He killed the woman I loved, the woman who gave you birth, even as you blame me for her death, if not more so."
"This is no quarrel for us. Unless you would persist in your ignorance and blame me for what had to be done. Would you rather I had allowed your mother to persist as a slave of the mold, a puppet in service to your Uncle?"
"No. But how do I know you are telling the truth?"
"I could tell you to examine your own heart or some gnoph-shit like that of course, but I won't. Have you some spell in your repertoire that will allow you to verify my veracity in this matter?"
Bujilli nodded. He'd read through every one of his Uncle's grimoires that he'd been able to sneak out from under the old sorcerer. For a neglected and abused child, Bujilli was surprisingly well-read, especially in terms of sorcery. He knew a spell that ought to work. He cast ESP (LL, p. 31). He looked across the dim Chamber of Summoning at his father's dark form and peered deep into the man's thoughts. Down to the core where emotions seethed and tossed like a turbulent black sun. He spoke truthfully, but the reality of his sorrow over the loss of his dear Yllorria was overwhelming, a wound that affected him deeply, that he carried out of guilt and regret. Regret. Shame. Remorse. He could see his father's long held belief that their son was dead. Murdered by Ylloria's brother. Then the connection was severed. There was only so much of this sort of thing any man can bear.
They both stood in silence. Each having looked deeply into the other's mind, heart, soul.
"I knew I couldn't rely on the brat. Ahtrishka warned me not to trust to his anger. He's always been a disappointment to me. Weak. Like his mother."
Three green tendrils of smoky non-light struck the ghost of the Grandmaster. Bujilli felt the ghost's screams as the spell unraveled the layers of its auric shells, stripped it of it's last vestiges of identity. It was gone. Destroyed. The spell left a lingering bitterness in the air behind it.
A dozen or more Yeren corpses shuffled into the Chamber behind Bujilli's Uncle. Each glared at Bujilli through green-lit eyes and gnashed their yellow teeth in rigidly restrained anger. His Uncle's influence was unmistakable. Pieces of a puzzle clicked into place. Dozens of encounters with unnatural tings, shambling masses, lesser demons and worse all took on a very different character. The words of the Lichipede* slithered across his mind one last time: 'Stupid little puppet.'
"You were the one who commanded the Yeren..."
"That'd be pretty obvious wouldn't it? Half-wit." His Uncle spit on the floor in disgust. It felt weird to see that gesture being done in front of him for a change.
He needed a new way to display his disgust.
"You dug up my mother's corpse. Gave her body over to that demon-bitch."
"Yes, yes, yes; a thousand times yes and so fucking what about it pup?"
"Yawn. Get over yourself you sentimental tyke. I've done all that you say and more, far more and much worse besides. So what?" His Uncle clutched his pot belly and laughed at Bujilli. His eyes radiated a deep resentment, a smoldering hatred he'd been forced to hold back for too damn long and now and this was his chance to end things once and for all. The old Almas was finally revealing his true feelings once and for all.
Bujilli could feel his stomach twist in disgust. All his life he'd been raised to be his Uncle's pawn. A twisted reflection of the vile old Alma's own self loathing.
"Release me. I would settle our score--"
"No. He's mine."
* From the short story: 'Purple Wrath', to be available shortly.