The walls screamed. The spell collapsed into fragmented wisps of vrillic haziness that left a bitterweet aftertaste in its fading wake. Or it would have, except now there was heavy, green smoke billowing through the room as turgid green flames raced along the door-frame.
Bujilli hesitated. Went to Leeja. She scratched terrible ruts in the floor with her claws; "Go!"
He turned to go after Ahven.
Green Flames roared through the doorway. A noxious, poisonous pillar of fire that hurt to even look at it.
Bujilli grabbed Leeja. Yanked her to her feet. Ignored her claws. Pulled her along with him through the door, diving under the sizzling canopy of flames. The column roiled and flared, expanding rapidly from the top as it rolled into the room, a blind avatar of inexorable destruction.
The room exploded behind them.
Leeja tore herself loose from Bujilli's grip.
Bujilli slipped on the smoldering shreds of what used to be carpeting. Rolled. Righted himself. Took his bearing and lunged as hard as he could.
Ahven let out a startled gasp as Bujilli slammed into his med-section full force. The femur-bone slipped from the boy's grasp but was attached to his wrist by a thin cord or lanyard.
The raging green flames ceased instantly. Air crashed back into the devastated room with a loud clap of almost thunder.
Leeja jammed her claws into the boy's left shoulder. Hauled him onto his feet. Onto his tip-toes.
Bujilli opened his mouth, about to say something, saw her gold-green eyes smoldering with rage. Closed his mouth. Drew out his dagger and cut the cord. The femur-bone clattered to the floor. A quick, cursory examination showed him that the things seemed to be inert, so he dug out a rag and wrapped the thing and slid it into his belt-pouch. He wasn't going to leave it within easy reach of someone who knew how to use it.
"Morlock relics and the hateful speech. You use them both. Just not very well."
"Well enough bitch."
"No," Leeja twisted her claws slightly, "not really."
He jerked like a spastic puppet, trying desperately not to scream.
She smiled. He screamed. Long and loud.
"Enough." Bujilli replaced his dagger and drew out his hand-axe once more. He wasn't sure whose head he might have to take at the moment.
The boy collapsed. Leeja let him drop. Wiped her claws on her leggings. Stared at Bujilli.
A tense, unpleasant moment.
So much hung in the balance.
Bujilli coughed. Pointed to the unconscious boy with his hand-axe.
"He hurt you..."
"He nearly killed me. If you hadn't..." She averted her eyes. Shame? Something else?
"I couldn't leave you there." He looked back into the burned-out room. Heavy, foul smoke lingered in the place. Corpse-smoke. It made his nostrils burn.
"You're both bleeding. Him far worse than you. Do we need him alive?" She came over before Bujilli. One hand caressed his face. Rubbed the stubble on his chin. She pulled out wool-lint and a rag from his belt-pouch and bound his wounds with studious care. The boy lay bleeding behind them.
"I'm reluctant to leave him. Once we stop the bleeding, we can carry him along to the Athenaeum. We can see if Morquin can give us a hand with him, otherwise, I can ask Hedrard for some help with him." He ran his fingers over the simple amulet she had given him back during his fateful first meeting with her. A subtle pulse let him know that she was aware of the situation.
Leeja stood back and let Bujilli deal with the boy. She would not touch him. Not in anything but the most violent fashion. The hate was fading from her luminous eyes. But slowly.
Bujilli quickly examined the boy. Did what he could for the wounds. Bound his hands and feet. Cast a Sleep spell on him for good measure. Lifted him to his shoulder. The kid was fairly light. All skin and bones, as it were.
They set off down the hallway. Passing a Custodian headed toward the blasted room. They quickened their pace and tried to put some distance between them and the Custodian.
Bujilli followed the visual cues provided by his Counsel. Static maps were mostly useless in the Academy, so much of it was dynamic and frequently shifting or changing orientation that a map needed to be updated quite often to be of any use. Counsel proven itself invaluable as it evaluated their current position and sought out the quickest route to their destination, the Athenaeum.
The boy was getting heavy by the time they finally reached the huge, black and tan double-doors. Massive colossi stood on either side, one holding forth a giant bronze book, the other unfurling a banner-like scroll, also cast in bronze. The floor was polished jasper.
They walked up to the door. Leeja balled up her fist to knock on the door panel.
The doors opened smoothly before them.
"Please, do come in--" The tall, heavy-set man in an armored apron stopped in mid-greeting.
Someone fired a gonne behind them.
Leeja was down. Blood on the pretty jasper tiles.
Another shot ricocheted from the door.