Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bujilli: Episode 70


Previously...
Bujilli awoke back in his room. At the Academy. In Wermspittle. Leeja watched over him, Gnosiomandus dissembled, two fierce girls guarded the door, a familiar hag came by to heal his wounds, the woman in black brought him fresh weapons and armor including new boots...he had no idea he had so many friends and allies. So he started to get dressed...
Denim and airship fabric. The new trousers wouldn't wear out any time soon. A fresh undershirt. White cotton? Maybe not. It felt good. Didn't make his skin itch, like the last one.  He pulled on the dark violet leather lorica. The edges were finished with some yellow metal alloy. Each panel was backed with cobalt blue foil. Each panel was primed with green brass and some sort of purple stuff, probably some kind of amber. that stuff made each panel able to receive the imprint of a defensive glyph. He could feel it. The bottom three rows were already set-up with some basic wards. He could see Hedrard's mark, Eberhard's mark, Gnosiomandus' mark and a few others already embedded in the armor. another symbol, a jagged white spiral surrounding an empty hand might be Leeja's mark. Maybe. He knew a few glyphs, Gloomlight was one of the first such things he'd learned long ago. Now he wanted t learn more wards and the like. He'd need to make time to finish the job, once he learned what glyphs he wanted to use. He had a lot to learn. good thing he was back at the Academy.

The boots were slightly heavier than his old ones. More ankle support. The greave-plates clicked into place over his jeans. He tucked the new gloves into his belt. Reached for his tulwar. It was gone. Oh.

After so many years. So many battles. The old tulwar was gone now.

He still had Stril's hand-axe. Three slim knives slipped onto his belt. One for fighting, two for throwing. A wand? Yes. It was black, gnarled and twisted iron and wood. It had a sheath so he added it to his belt across from the knives. He'd ask about it later. There was a strange gonne in the satchel Mistress Eberhard had brought. Bujilli pulled the thing out. Looked it over. He knew next to nothing about gonnes other than that they were loud. He had the instinctive Almas distrust of loud things. But he appreciated what fire-arms were capable of doing. It had an extravagantly-tooled mechanism. Some sort of wheel-lock or other clockwork-inspired workings back above the trigger-part. The wooden parts were hand-carved from ebony and teak. It was sturdy. Solid. This was a grim and no-nonsense sort of pistol. Meant to be used one-handed. The grip curved elegantly into a hideously carved snarling club-face with three rows of iron teeth.

Manticore. Bujilli snorted. Laughed. Handed the thing over to Leeja.

She reached to take the weapon from his hand. It snarled. Snapped at her.

The gonne belonged to him. No one else.

So he pulled the bandolier with the tools, shot, powder capsules, and all the other gonne-stuff over his shoulder and slid the gonne into its holster. He looked over at his short bow. He much preferred the bow. It was quiet. He was accurate. They worked well together. Bujilli reached--

"Oh do make up your mind!" hissed a voice off to his left.

It was cold. He was standing in three inches of snow. The wind was picking up. Clouds were rolling in from the...west. Yes. He could see the sun. Barely. Then clouds obscured it. Storm clouds. heavy and ponderous with bad intent.

Bujilli turned to face the voice.

The man was over-dressed for the occasion. Violet-tinted glasses. Top hat. Elegant coat. Black gloves chased with seven kinds of metal. Walking stick, not the heavy oak staff he had carried last time.

"Sprague."

"Indeed." The man bowed sarcastically. His flourish was supple, yet sinister.

"I'm not interested." Bujilli went to spit, but caught himself. He smiled instead. He was still getting used to doing things differently.

"Ah but I am most definitely interested."

"Your initial offer was an insult and a trap." Bujilli strung his bow. It felt good in his hands. He'd missed it.

"But of course. That's the way of the world. Nothing personal. Just business. My voucher is still there in Room 303, in the East Wing, ready for your signature."

"I don't need it. I made a better deal."

"Yes. With Hedrard. So I've been told. that was some nasty business there with poor Lemuel, don't you think?"

"And hijacking me from my room. Is that business also?" Bujilli looked out across the rocks and ice, through black spruce heavy with snow. Nasty red thorns jutted from beneath the trees, through the snow. They were up in the mountains. One of the three peaks that broke up the ten thousand plateaus East of Wermspittle. Were there really ten thousand plateaus out there? It sounded impossible...

"Negotiation. We need to talk. Privately. Without distractions."

"What do we have to negotiate about?"

"You possess a specimen that I very much would like to acquire. At a fair and reasonable price, of course."

"The Dream-snail shells. I still have a few pieces left." Bujilli nodded to himself. He remembered that Sprague was in charge of the Oneirical Studies Section. Of course he wanted the Dream-Snail shells.

"No. As much as I would like to examine those, personally, I'm not here to bargain on my own behalf. I represent other interested parties--"

"Who? Who are these 'interested parties,' and what do they want?"

"I am not at liberty to reveal their identities. Nor their ultimate intentions."

"What do they want?" He casually drew an arrow from the quiver dangling on its strap from his bow-hand and inspected it. One of the arrows from Idvard's Keep. The yellow metal flange-fletchings quivered slightly. He wasn't sure, but it looked like there was greenish metal at the core of the shaft; he could see it glinting through the spots where the wood was flaking away. Old stuff. But it still worked. Well enough.

"You captured a freshly-hatched miasmagaster."

"So what?" Bujilli saw no reason to volunteer any information.

"They want it."

"Do they?"

"Yes."

"So?"

"Will you give it to them?"

"I haven't heard their offer."

"I am prepared to offer you three grimoires, containing no fewer than a dozen unique spells each, as well as my personal tutelage in the Oneiric Arts for one year and a day, if you surrender the miasmagaster immediately."

"That's the best you can do?"

"No. But it is as much as I am willing to offer at this time. It's a good deal. Really. I'm taking quite a loss in all due honesty."

"Three old books. You'd fob me off with some moldy-old crapulous creeds and spurious nonsense?"

"These are quality grimoires--"

"Spare me. I grew up reading the grimoires my Uncle bartered for--they're mostly rubbish, when they aren't sheer shit. Most sorcerers are frustrated poets with delusions of talent. Besides, how do I know that your books will be in a language I can even read? They're not enciphered are they? I hate cipher manuscripts."

"No ciphers. No codes or anagrams or other tricks. Just the working journals of a combat mage, a wand fighter, one who spent some time studying abroad...in Tsan Yian."

"Really?" Bujilli could feel the hook waiting for him there in the oh-so-tempting bait. Then it hit him: someone had been watching him, keeping track of him. Whether it was Sprague or his mysterious masters didn't matter. The fact that someone was able to monitor him at a distance without him knowing about it inspired a fresh sense of anger in him. He let the arrow slip forward, caught it under his fore-finger so he could hold arrow, bow and quiver-strap in one hand. Then he cast Thought Wall. He held Zone of Normality ready to go if necessary. He'd learned his lessons from the Green Gem. And his Uncle.

"There's no need to get defensive--"

"The spell only responds to what it recognizes as an attack. So, if you're not up to anything untoward, it isn't going to affect things."

"Ah. Well. It is good to know ones limitations."

"That's what my Uncle always said."

"He sounds like a wise man."

"Not really. These grimoires you are offering do interest me. Of course you already knew that they would."

"No sense in offering you something you've no interest in, is there?"

"Like your tutelage? I already have a mentor--"

"That old bastard? He's a professor of Unnatural Philosophy, a hunter after cryptozoic aberrations and weird antiques, someone who pokes around in old ruins, tombs and other filthy holes in the ground looking for obscure trash no one really wants any more. Haven't you gotten tired of picking through old tombs and robbing graves?"

Bujilli looked out to the tree-line. Scanning for Yeren-sign. An old habit. What Sprague was saying hit home. For years now he had complained and grumbled about being stuck down in some pit, to root about like a trained truffle-pig, scavenging obscure loot from forgotten catacombs. Years. So many years. He grew up scrambling through tight, dark spaces clutching strange treasures, avoiding things that prowled in the deeps. Sneaking his way past them. Or fighting. When he had no other choice.

It was a far more tempting offer than he would have ever suspected. Before. The death of his Uncle had changed things. No. Not changed. It had crystallized something deep down. Brought it into the light.

Bujilli had learned a lot about who and what he truly was in the course of the last few days.

He had an idea.

A counter proposal of sorts...


While not trusting Sprague, and being quite suspicious of whomever is acting through him, Bujili has an interesting opportunity here. Those old books might prove useful, especially as they may offer him some insights into Tsan Yian, the ancestral homeland of his father, Lyhydris.

But accepting Sprague's mentorship would be problematic, not to mention a betrayal of Gnosiomandus. It also seems a bit weird to be offered something like that after Sprague has been working against him from behind the scenes, tricking Gudrun into trying to kill him, and so on.

Why do these unspecified parties want the misasmagaster spawnling? To what purpose? To what end?

Should Bujilli turn over the little monster...or is there a better deal to strike that is more in his better interests?

What kind of counter-proposal should he make?

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

8 comments:

  1. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I say he tries out Sprague's offer.

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  2. Digging in dusty tombs and forgotten holes is the center of Buljilli's being. If he trades at all it should be for the books and a "favor"(preferably commemorated with a black spot, geas or other compulsion).

    After all, being apprenticed or otherwise in the grasp of a sneaky old wizard type is what got Bujilli into all this trouble in the first place. Furthermore, he's a valuable commodity as an apprentice - one that can get things done - wizards should be paying him for the privilege of having him on their staff, or allying with him rather then acting as if they are lowering themselves to teach him.

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    1. An excellent point. Right to the heart of the matter. The Transveyance sent Bujilli to Wermspittle in Episode 19 precisely because he asked to go where he could learn what he needed to know. It opened the way directly into Gnosiomandus' study. Past the old fart's copious wards and defenses.

      The books are obvious bait. Or possibly a feint. Whomever is behind Sprague may not know as much about Bujilli as they want him to think they do. Classic strategy 101. They have certainly seen quite a few things...and there was some talk about Sprague observing Bujilli's encounter with the Muck-Raker back in Series 2 or 3 (need to go look that up soon). They've seen a few things, but not everything--and they did not see what happened at Idvard's Keep. That much Bujilli knows as certainly as he knows anything right now.

      Bujilli isn't interested in being anyone's errand-boy. He did his time as a dangler and as live-bait for the centipedes, working for his Uncle. Taking on a mentor, as he negotiated in Episode 19/20 is about gaining access to the knowledge, resources and education he has been lacking up until now. He grew up reading tons of crappy old grimoires. He's carrying a set of Little Brown Journals that still hold a pile of undetermined spells (readers can choose the spells for those).

      Value. Yes. Bujilli has quickly gone from unknown quantity to pawn to shiny-object to someone to be dealt with in a very short amount of time. He has drawn together quite a support system of very interesting people. And gaining the respect and gratitude of someone like Mistress Eberhard...that's no little thing.

      Bujilli jumped well past the simple apprentice-level crap, consider it testing out of the lower grade level requirements. Even with a free pass he still fought in the Arena and passed the Entrance Exam on his own terms and against seriously warped and unfair odds stacked against him.

      Bujilli has proven himself. That's what scares some of those behind-the-scenes schemers. He must be converted, conscripted, deflected or misdirected...or neutralized.

      He isn't like everyone else...

      We'll be getting into an exchange between Bujilli & Gnosiomandus regarding his 'apprenticeship,' lessons and so on, hopefully soon. It seems like we're close to a point where it will finally happen.

      Depending on what the readers decide, of course...

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  3. This is masterfully done.

    Building on what Trey suggests - keep him close - and Gus - guarantee the favour, know his own value as an ally - why not look to build a new force in the world, tie Sprague into a growing, loosely-formed and overlapping band of people whose talents can help Get Things Done, even Put Things Right? No leader, but Bujilli and his friends' thinking as a guiding force. So much to do after all, so much space to cover.

    That's how I read the line: "Bujilli had learned a lot about who and what he truly was ..." Old limits removed - even the comfortable familiarity of the tulwar, not to mention the unfamiliarity of his father - and new awareness of how many like-minded people there are around him, and how much love for who he is.

    If so, the counter offer could begin by appealing to Sprague's value as distinct from whoever his masters are now, turning the 'no more dusty tombs' line of argument to Sprague's situation, to channel and turn the energy they're exerting, and maybe build on their plans as they relate to the miasmagaster.

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    1. Thanks. I hate all the typos and fiddly stuff, but that can be corrected later, when I add the new footer and revise the links, now that we're posting the Quick Indexes, episode Guides, and a few more resources.

      Three votes for taking Sprague up on a deal for a 'favor,' hmmm. Interesting.

      Coopting an opponent is a strategy Bujilli has employed in the past. He used Ventriloquism to help the Zurian Pricesses' mercenary fight the Muck-Raker back in Episode 17 or 18. That turned one foe against another and let him escape. So it is a concept he is familiar with and ready to use when necessary. One also has to wonder how a man so vain as Sprague can stomach serving these secret masters of his. That has got to grate on his nerves in no small measure. That might be something Bujilli can use, a bit of leverage. He has made a career of converting would-be foes into assets...think of how he handled Sharisse, for example.

      A Loosely-formed, overlapping band of people who can get things done & put things right? That'd be the cast of characters parading through the front end of Episode 70 in a nutshell. Wasn't planned or premeditated. It was a direct consequence of what went before. Choices made. Bujilli has served as the catalyst for something new in Wermspittle, something that threatens the entrenched and established order. Hence the bit of push-back we're just starting to see...

      Old Limits Removed. Yes. Very much. The training wheels are off and the old crutches, however comfortable, are now gone. It's a brand new day...and the path ahead has yet to be blazed; we've crossed the edge of the old boundaries other people set-up for him as a child...now it's up to Bujilli to really go explore things, to carve our a niche for himself and to walk his path one step at a time through the uncertainties and ambiguities surrounding him. Guess you could say he's come of age...

      Dealing with Sprague as you suggest is brilliant. The guy is vain as all get out. He can't be happy serving anyone but his own intolerable ego. There's a chance to foment some dissent, get Sprague to re-consider his allegiance and maybe get him working against his masters.

      Those secret masters behind Sprague want something. They're using the miasmagaster as a test, the sharp tip of a spear, as it were, to probe Bujilli's resolve and integrity. They see something in Bujilli that bothers them, troubles them, enough so that they are trying to deal with him through their agent before things get out of hand. Perhaps Sprague was not supposed to reveal his servant-status? Maybe things are already somewhat in flux on that end...

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  4. I agree with Gus's insight. To borrow a phrase, Bujilli "has prospects. He's bona fide." Sprague needs to offer him a lot more. Also, Sprague's not trustworthy on any level. Bujilli would do well to remember and act on Hedrard's advice from Episode 26, "If you expect to get anything worthwhile from Sprague, you'll need to see him face-to-face and make sure you cross his palm with cold iron first." This discussion needs to be happening on Bujilli's territory, not Sprague's.

    Bujilli needs to reach out to Leeja, like he did when his uncle nabbed him. She needs to know where he is, and maybe help him. He should not be out here on his own.

    Bujilli can't trade the miasmagaster. It's under his care, it's his responsibility. To trade it for anything, much less questionable grimoires, would go against who Bujilli is. IF he makes a deal it will need to be for something else, which may have been Sprague's intention all along. Finding out how to tap into Counsel would be a pretty big coup for Sprague, for example.

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    1. You made me laugh when I read that 'Oh Brother' reference. It's quite right, very appropriate. Bujilli definitely has prospects. Quite a few opportunities. And friends. Sprague's offer was what he was willing to do, but not necessarily what his masters would do. Bujilli could escalate things. Sprague would not like that. He was clearly trying to interpose himself between Bujilli and his masters. That might be something that Bujilli can exploit.

      Thanks for quoting the warning from Ep. 26--Sprague is not trustworthy. He's already tried to get Bujilli killed on at least one occasion that Bujilli knows about. He does not make fair trades nor honest deals, not willingly.

      Reach out to Leeja, huh? Hmmm...

      Ah. Switching the item(s) in question might be a good way to draw more information out of Sprague. The choice of the Miasmagaster may have been only an opening gambit. Kind of like a play upon Bujilli's chess match with the ancient Miasmagaster back under Zormur's Palace back at the beginning. Again, not intentionally done, but it fits nicely.

      Counsel. Yes. Sprague would want to have his own Counsel if he could...but the Oneiric Vortex Bujilli left behind him blocks Sprague from personally going there and trying to get one for himself...and he doesn't trust any agent. Besides it is something that cannot be done/gained through a proxy. Sprague may have reason to doubt that he might pass the Transveyance's testing of his humanity...

      Delete

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