"Wake up Bujilli. Wake up." Leeja cradled his head in her lap. Blood was everywhere. Her writhing white hair was spattered with gore. Her hands were soaked with the stuff. Surrounded by ghastly carnage, her tears washed away the blood upon her face. Dripped from her chin. Fell onto the so quiet form of her fallen companion.
"Free Me." Rumbled the dark form of Lyhydris from within the summoning geometries.
Leeja looked up from her partner's too-still form. Gold-green eyes shining with something other than hate, other than hunger. Lyhydris went silent. Took a step back, as far as he was able.
"He's not like you...or me..."
"I can save him."
"At what price? I recognize you for what you are--you are from one of the Golden Cities." She made the innocuous terms sound like a filthy epithet.
"I am a scion of the third house--"
"I have done what I can for him. He still breathes. Shallowly, fitfully, but he is yet alive."
"For how long? He is my son--"
"Paternity is not at issue here. It is pointless to try to coerce me with your sorcery. Bujilli is in my care. I shall take care of him. You may have spawned him, given him life, but you've done fuck all for him ever since. Whatever claim you think that you might have had on him, think again. You abandoned him. Turned your back like a coward. Gave him up to that one." She nodded to the grisly severed head of Bujilli's Uncle. Impaled upon the blackened and pitted ruin of a tulwar.
"Who are you to speak thus to a Lord of the Tsannish Host?"
"In this place? I'm the only friend he has."
"Yet you would let him die? Your spells and your tears will not be enough. He's dying. I can feel it. Even trapped as I am behind these accursed wards and bindings. I recognize death."
"I'm sure you do. Your kind fear only life. You are very brave around death. It comes easy to you."
"It is in our nature. As it is in your own."
"You think you recognize my nature?"
"I know your kind well enough. Concubines and terrorists. One of the less objectionable Abhuman lineages birthed within the Deep Dendo. But you are not entirely of your...would it have been your mother's people?"
"Yes. My father was a Great Lord among the Pallid..." (see Ep. 29)
Lyhydris hissed in hatred.
"I was...am...my birth was...unsanctioned..." Leeja stared down at the red-smeared floor. The old shame still caught her unaware, twisted her guts like a knife she tried to ignore most of the time.
"You have that in common with my son..."
"Look. It's all well and good that we too can discuss our respective bloodlines and all that vermscheiss your kind values oh so damned muchly, but it is not helping my...friend...your son."
"What will you do?"
"I'm taking him out of this place that reeks of Yeren and death."
"Where will you go?"
"Out into the snow. His Uncle's yurt isn't far--he never went very far away from his precious horde of grimoires and pornography."
"Do you know the way?"
"I can find it."
"Will you release me?"
"Well enough. When next we meet, I hope to return the favor."
"Just go. We both know full well that you could have withdraw from the summons any time you wanted."
Lyhydris was gone.
The summoning geometries dissolved into an aethyric after-image that faded slowly into the encroaching dimness.
Leeja adjusted Bujilli's body in her arms. Rose from the sticky muck. Carried him out of the ruined, burned and now deserted monastery.
It was snowing outside.
The wind felt clean.
It was good to be alive.
Smiling sweetly, sinisterly, she drew forth the token Gnosiomandus had given her. Let Lyhydris hunt out the old Almas' already stripped and emptied yurt. Idvard had been a very big help in getting all that crap transferred out.
She'd left a Black Smoke mine there in the middle of the wretched old yurt, just for Lyhydris, or his agents. Bortho's people had uncovered a cache of the nasty things beneath Idvard's Keep. It seemed like the right thing to do...
Leeja wiped away her tears as she walked through the snow to the Cavern of the Centipedes where the transition would be easiest...and where another, different bomb would make it next to impossible for anyone to follow them.
Bujilli would awaken back in his room in Wermspittle. Classes were starting. She was not going to let him be late...