The he felt it. Lemuel. The connection they shared was too deep to deny. Lemuel* was in trouble. The boy needed help.
Bujilli stood off to the side of a gaudily-painted wagon of radishes and considered what he should do. He could feel Lemuel's distress through their connection. A psychic bond had been established between the two of them when Bujilli had salvaged the young boy from the ravages of the vile transformation brought on by his abuse of Hard Candy, an insidious treat concocted from the White Powder. Lemuel had nearly dissolved into a Loathsome Mass, but Bujilli had intervened, had risked his own life and well-being to pull the boy back from the brink of dissolution.
When he had left Hedrard's workspace, she was about to stitch together some wermskin to help stabilize Lemuel's physical form, which now mostly consisted of glistening gelatinous goo. The last time Bujilli had seen Lemuel**, the boy was carrying the unconscious body of Master Sprague back to Hedrard's workspace. There had not been time to do much more than nod to one another, as very important things were going on all around them at the time.
Bujilli looked around his surroundings. He knew he was close to finding the answer, the missing piece of the puzzle that was Wermspittle...but it might as well be locked away in the heart of the moon for all the good it would do to stand around here in the cool spring rain hoping to spot some clue that would help him unravel things once and for all. Watching the farm children with their rickety one-way carts and make-shift stalls. Seeing the peddlers with their mushrooms, roots, and herbs. Hearing the calls and cries of the various mongers and merchants. The smells. The colors. The textures and racket, movement and motion; he knew he was close to the truth. Painfully close.
If he could just see what he was missing...
"Excuse me young sir." An old crone clutched Bujilli's shoulder to steady herself after bumping into him.
"Your pardon. I was lost in my thoughts..."
"Yes. You were." She cackled softly. Her hands whipped out. seized his forearm and slapped something hard and cold into the palm of his left hand. Then she continued on her way. He looked down at his hand. A thimble. Silver. Blood was welling up from his hand where he held the thing.
He looked up. The crone was lost in the milling crowd.
He looked at the thimble. It was engraved in Aklo, Franzik and Etrurian. The sides were all spirally. It wasn't really silver, more like silver-plated yellow metal. It was much heavier than he would have expected.
The blood on his hand receded like the tide going out on a beach. It was being absorbed into the thimble.
"AH! such a find! I offer you three goats and a chicken for it!" A fox-tailed goblin tugged on his arm, eagerly trying to get a better look at the thimble.
"Thief! She would steal your trinket for next to nothing. I offer you my dolly--it's eternal servitude will be yours if you but grant me ownership of yon bauble." A serpent-tongued goblin leered meaningfully at him from beneath her grimy bonnet. She was clutching a dirty and beat-up looking rag doll. A doll that had miscellaneous blades, nails and screws stitched, sewn and taped into its pudgy little fists.
"Boys don't like dolls you stupid little slut. Here; I'll give you six packets of seeds, three golden keys, a ticket to Madame Ishwalla's Dubious Boudoir, and this ring that I cut off of the very hand of Yaximillian Vargoom Himself after the battle of Karlogne. what do you say?" This goblin wore antique chain-mail that hung loosely on their too-long and stick-thin limbs. He had a fuzzy green face covered in warts and scars, with six or seven ear-rings stuck into each ear apparently at random and he was proffering a grotesquely over-sculpted and bejeweled ring that he could not believe anyone would ever willingly wear.
Bujilli closed his fingers over the thimble. He didn't have the thing for even a minute before the offers started rolling in...he wondered why...
* Lemuel first appeared in Episode 21, fought with Bujilli in Episode 22, collapsed in the throes of a hideous transformation brought on by abuse of Hard Candy in Episode 23, was lent a helping hand by Bujilli in Episode 24, became something of a 'blood-brother' to Bujilli in Episode 25. We've seen Lemuel off and on since then. He seems to have made some significant progress in becoming more human and less a shapeless, loathsome mass of corruption.
** We last saw Lemuel in Episode 81.
Muishka pulled out her mother's pepperbox pistol and a wickedly serrated and wavy-bladed gutting knife. She was a Wanderer--they bought and sold luck, but rarely indulged in it themselves.
Leeja watched as the elevator continued downwards...maybe they could slip past unnoticed...the elevator didn't make that much noise...
One of the shaggy folk barked and pointed to the descending cage.
"Damn dog-mounting Voormis." Mishka cursed.
The elevator continued downward...maybe it would keep going. Leeja wasn't thrilled at the prospect of fighting a small band of these dog-snouted, hook-clawed little people. She was all but certain that they probably had friends near-by.
Mishka froze in mid curse.
Leeja extended her claws. Her hair lashed about like a cat's angry tail.
The machine stopped. The elevator door was ajar. The Voormis readied their spears and pruning hooks for a charge. Leeja rushed them instead. She dragged her claws through the shoulders and across the arms of the shaggy creatures, wounding as many as possible as quickly as possible. Once through their ranks she turned and snarled. Her gold-green eyes smoldered in the dim half-light of the landing. All six of the creatures were bloodied. One had dropped his weapon. Two were wide-eyed and looked ready to make a break for it. She charged right at those two, trilling her voice in a bloodcurdling sing-song ululation that would make a Mucoid squirm in fear.
The Voormis broke ranks. Three of them turned and ran. BANG! Mishka's pepperbox pistol discharged with a greenish flash.
One of the Voormis tried to assist its fellow back to its feet, the last one turned to face the thing in the shadows that Mishka had fired upon.
"I am so glad that you missed." The bear squinted at them through a dusty monocle...