Bujilli glared at his Uncle. Quickly counted the Yeren corpses staggering and shambling into the chamber. Nearly twenty. At least they all looked wounded. Several were missing pieces. Some of them were oozing a nasty black fluid from around their eyes. Something about the scent was familiar.
Quietly, he cast Auric Sheath. He couldn't say why. It was instinct. Bujilli had learned to listen to his instincts. It had taken several hard lessons. But he'd survived. He learned.
Violet light shimmered around him. The backs of the Yeren corpses' heads looked fuzzy. Indistinct. Smudged with some lingering grayness that partially blotted things out. It reminded him of the strings of marionettes. Aethyric strings. Running off into the distance. Connecting them to their master. He'd seen this sort of thing before. Bortho. Back under Idvard's Keep. The stench was more noticeable now. There was a Fungal Tyrant involved in all this. He was sure of it. As sure as he could be, under the circumstances.
None of the Yeren corpses showed signs of the distinctive purplish growths pushing out through their flesh. Not yet.
He couldn't tell where the aethyric connections ran off to--they grew too indistinct, too faint as they flowed back to their source. He also wasn't sure if they doubled-back or not. All he was certain about was that the hazy grayish streams ran back through the one doorway. One point of entry. A choke-point, potentially. If he could find some way to close that off...
"Funny thing about demons. They cannot act directly, not when they are trying to corrupt their victim. No. If it is their will that moves the hand, then all the consequences are theirs. It is in getting you to move your hand in accordance to their will, but freely of your own volition wherein the damnation truly lies. You have to give in to them. Submit. Be weak. But you know all that, don't you Bujilli?"
Bujilli made to spit in disgust. Caught himself. He smiled instead. That always pissed off his Uncle. Two could play at this sort of penny ante yak-shit. Pre-fight posturing. He despised it. But this time...it might be wise to use it, to attempt to distract his Uncle. Buy some time...
"Like a stupid puppy you ran off to fetch your father. Idiot. Like he would ever help you. I'm the only family you have. The only one who watches over you. Takes care of you. Provides for--"
"Oh Shut Up." Bujilli smiled wider. He adjusted his grip on the tulwar. The blade seethed with hatred for his Uncle. It shimmered with emotional heat. He wondered why. But this was not the time, not the place to delve into such mysteries.
"You will show some respect to your elders--"
"Shut up you old bastard. You didn't bring along a pack of Yeren corpses just so you could pretend to scold me one last time."
"No. I didn't. I brought them to cut you into little pieces." It was his Uncle's turn to smile.
"Good. We can drop the pretense. Here I am all alone. Surrounded. Out-numbered."
"Yes. you'd be a fool to fight, wouldn't you? And I did not raise you to be a fool, now did I boy?"
"You've brought along some allies...I could use some allies myself...perhaps I should free my father--"
"YES!" shouted the malevolent voice of Lyhydris.
"NO!" Bellowed his Uncle.
The band of white hair wrapped around his finger tightened. Relaxed. Tightened again. A signal. He was not alone here. Not now. Not ever.
Bujilli smiled, shifted his shoulders, rolled his neck muscles to loosen up, drew his hand-axe, stretched his arms wide and sighed loudly.
"I'm through with this. Let's end it." Bujilli charged his Uncle.
The old Almas squealed. Stumbled into a Yeren corpse that glared at him with angry green-lit eyes.
Bujilli laughed. The Yeren's head flew off into the darkness. The green-lit eyes went dim before it hit the floor. His Uncle scrambled to get away.
The tulwar shrieked through the throat of another Yeren. Taking the one next to it as well.
He stopped. Looked directly into a pair of shining gold-green eyes. White hair flashing and flickering like ivory flames. Leeja smiled. Sweetly. Sinisterly.
The Yeren didn't stand a chance.
Blood, gore and body fluids spattered and splattered across the floor making it slippery. Lopped-off body parts were scattered hither and yon.
The tulwar shrieked in rage. Leeja keened and screamed as was her nature. His Uncle squealed and swore bitterly.
The Yeren were dismembered. Hacked to bits. Useless without further sorcerous intervention.
Bujilli's previously cast Zone of Normality collapsed with a sharp pop.
His Auric Sheath exploded into violet sparks. Disrupted. Gone.
Blood and pain erupted from his abdomen. A ringing sound. The tulwar was gone. Knocked from his had by one of the missiles flung at him by his Uncle. Julidi's Darts. Two of them had struck him. The blade had deflected or blocked several more. Bujilli collapsed to his knees in the foul and murksome gore.
A staggering Green Flash exploded from the left-hand of his Uncle. Indelicate Thunder assaulted Bujilli's sensitive ears.
Voorish Sign was cast.
Leeja's scream ended abruptly.
Preternatural Stillness soaked the place.
"Idiot child." His Uncle spat on the floor.
Bujilli laughed. Sudden pain lanced through his guts. He put his hand out before him. To catch himself from falling into the oily gore. He touched the hilt of his tulwar.
Pain fell away as Bujilli rose from the blood and muck. Both tulwar and axe ready to wreak vengeance.
A gentle touch held his wound closed. Gave him strength. Urged him onward.
He knew the secret of his tulwar now.
Why it hated his Uncle so intensely.
The one thing that had saved him so many times before.
His secret weapon, he had once called it.
Secrets had a way of revealing themselves.
Now he knew.
It was time to end this. Once and for all.
Pink light skittered across the chamber in a disturbing, arachnid manner. The tulwar slashed through it like so much weak smoke. Bujilli moved towards his Uncle. One step at a time. Blood oozing form his wounds despite the ministrations of the tulwar's spirit.
"I came of age years ago." He took two painful steps towards his tormentor, his mentor, his Uncle.
A cloud of black nails swirled around Bujilli. The tulwar couldn't cut through such a thing. He endured. Took another step. Blood welled-up from dozens of little gashes and cuts. Three more steps.
"Yet you denied me my birth-right." Bujilli sliced through a billowing green mist that sucked and clutched and tittered and chuckled obscenely in a dozen echoing voices. It fell silent as he passed through it. So much green scum overlaying the tainted blood. A few more steps. It hurt. Badly.
But he hadn't crawled out of all those deep, dark places to just give in now. He hadn't fought his way up and out of his innumerable childhood hells to let his Uncle break him now. Not now. Not ever.
His Uncle cast Umbral Maiming. Purely from spite. Bujilli dropped to one knee, as his shadow was viciously assaulted. The tulwar disrupted the spell before it ran its full course. The blade was growing hot. Smoke was starting to leak out from between Bujilli's fingers. It hurt. Just not as much as his guts.
Pain he could live with. He had years of experience in coping with pain.
"I should have been accepted as an adult among our people when I returned with this blade. I ought to have been recognized as a full-member of the clan by your public declaration, as is tradition." He coughed. Blood. A bad sign. Another step.
"You'll never be recognized. Never admitted to the clan. You are not of us. Mongrel whelp. Half-bred and ill-begotten--"
"You think I care about any of that now?" Bujilli grinned. One more step.
"Why do you mention it then?" His Uncle looked perplexed.
"I speak of the dead past. Of things that might have mattered once, long ago." Another step.
"But we all grow up sometime." The tulwar flashed. Bujilli didn't even feel it. He let go. Slid to his knees in a torrent of his own blood.
He didn't see his mother's revenge.
The tulwar clattered to the floor. Inert. Spent. Fulfilled.
Bujilli looked down into the dying eyes of his Uncle's severed head as it stared up at him from the bloody floor.
He passed out. He wasn't sure if it was a hallucination or something else. He thought he saw his Uncle's head slither through the muck and blood as if being dragged away. Back towards the doorway.
All went black...