Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 104

Previously...
Bujilli, Leeja, their friends Hedrard and Lemuel, as well as two recently-freed prisoners have stopped to get some much needed sleep in an abandoned room they've barricaded as best as they could. Leeja used her Pale Shelter spell making it as restful a space as they were going to find within the upper passages of the Gormenstille...

Bujilli awoke with a start. The thunderstorm had run its course. He could still feel it. Out there. Thundering and flashing with lightning. The deep purple animosity of the storm was intense, but it was moving away. He wasn't completely sure if the thunderstorm had been some sort of a Purple Cloud or not, but even if it had been one of those murderous aerial horrors, it seemed to have not noticed him. This time. It was good to be small and easily overlooked by vast, malevolent forces.

That brought back memories of hunkering down in filthy crevices, waiting for terrible things scuttling about in the dark places to get bored or to lose interest or to just simply go away. His earliest adventures down among the dim and dismal caverns and crypts where his Uncle had sent him to find shiny-bits and curious trinkets had been harrowing. It wasn't until after his third foray down into the deep places, after having been mauled by centipedes, that Bujilli stole a silver table-knife to defend himself. The knife he had used to destroy the demon-thing that had taken over his mother's body...

Nostalgia held no particular charms for Bujilli. His childhood had been something to survive, to escape, not something to go back to, never to relive, not even in dreams. Least of all in dreams.

Bujilli sat up on the stretcher. The violet-tinged centipede scars across his chest ached. Perhaps it was some lingering effect from the storm. Or not.

He swung his legs over the side of the makeshift bunk and squinted into the darkness. He could hear the others breathing, snoring, sleeping fitfully. The Pale Shelter spell had run its course. Hedrard was curled up on a stretcher next to him. Lemuel was propped against the wall. The two prisoners were sound asleep; the roof-runner was twitching in the midst of a nightmare and the Ignoble clutched their Iron Mask like some sort of talisman. They were all getting some much needed rest. As much as anyone could. He hoped it would be enough.

Bujilli turned to look at the stretcher on his other side. It was empty.

Leeja.

She was gone.

No. not gone, just not sleeping.

Perhaps she was keeping watch. Or hunting. Or prowling. Exploring and scouting the way ahead. Or....

-scritch-

Bujilli was quickly and quietly on his feet, casting about for some sense of where Leeja might be. His hand scraped against the place where his tulwar used to hang. His manticore-pistol still needed to be reloaded. Hand-axe and alley-knife it would be. The hand-axe, once Stril's axe, had served him well for a long time now. The alley-knife had come to him from Mistress Eberhard, one of her gifts to him before...everything got complicated and messy back in Wermspittle. He wondered how the black-eyed Mistress of the Arenas was handling the recent upsets and disruptions. She was no one to trifle with, he'd known that ever since the first time he looked into her glossy black eyes. That Lady was every bit a death-goddess incarnate. She would be fine. Pity the fools who provoked her wrath.

There--something moved. Bujilli slipped toward the open doorway leading into the third room--the one that had been barricaded when he had fallen asleep.

The place reeked of sorcery.

And death.

CRASH!

Debris cascaded across the floor. Something had brushed up against one of the precarious piles of broken masonry scattered about the place.

Again movement.

Bujilli went towards whatever it was. A momentary trace of whiteness. Then it disappeared around a corner. He moved more quickly in pursuit, still trying to remain as silent as possible. It had to be Leeja. Her hair. Her ivory hair in the dark. He followed the white flicker like a will-o-the-wisp farther into the darkness.

What was she up to?

Leeja was like a pale white flame flickering through the dark and he knew that he'd follow her anywhere...

But that wasn't Leeja...

Bujilli woke with a violent start. His chest was on fire. White Irrlicht-fire curled and slashed across his face and chest. He called out to the others, his voice a gasping croak that stuck in his to-dry throat. The stretcher shifted. Fell over. He nearly tripped, but the hand-axe was in his hand, as was the wand.

"Wake. UP!" He forced the words through his throat.

The malignant radiance receded. Tiny condensation blobs of the stuff curdled into a kind of pseudo-matter where it touched him. Rancid, poisonous, milky snot; it tickled where it settled into his flesh.

Bujilli brought the twisted wand to bear on the center-mass of the amorphous hostile illumination and ordered the wand to damage whatever it was, however it was capable. There wasn't time for any sort of finesse, which he had not learned as yet, so he relied on brute force.

The venomous effulgence erupted into a thousand sizzling droplets flung across the room.

The wand was cold in his hand.

He re-sheathed it. Next to the still-unloaded manticore-pistol.

"Bujilli!" Hedrard called to him. She was kneeling next to his stretcher. No--not his--she was tending to Leeja.

"What?" his voice cracked as he all but jumped to her side.

"The Irrlicht...it drained her...badly. She must be particularly susceptible to it."

"Drained?"

"It stole a good amount of her vril, her life essence..."

"Will she be able to recover?"

"Yes. With rest. With time. Neither of which we're likely to be getting anytime soon. We need to get out of this place. The sooner the better. There are far worse things prowling these accursed passages."

"I'm not afraid of anything I can kill."

"Ah but what about those things that are already dead?"

Bujilli looked away from the hags' all too probing gaze.

He'd fought undead things before. Badly. The demi-lichipede he'd unleashed from its centuries-long slumber had nearly killed him, almost converted him into a minion, before his tulwar had landed a lucky blow at the last minute. But now he knew there had been no luck involved. His mother's spirit had intervened that time. But the tulwar, and her spirit were both gone now. He was on his own and woefully unprepared to fight the greater undead, abdead, living dead--whatever these things might be that lurked within the walls of this place.

"There are worse than vampires in these old passages. Far worse." Hedrard patted him on the shoulder then turned back to Leeja and began to do what could be done.

One more time Bujilli wished he knew some sort of healing spells.

But he did know of one spell that might help.

He cast Oneiric Bubble over Leeja and Hedrard both.

It wasn't much, but it was the best he could do for them. He'd never cast that spell over two other people before. It proved tricky. Took twice as long to get it right. But it finally spun into place and he carefully picked-up Hedrard from the floor and placed her on the stretcher next to Leeja.

Lemuel was clomping from the tumbled barricade toward the other doorway, checking their immediate space.

The Ignoble stood staring at the Oneiric Bubble, their Iron Mask forgotten on the stretcher beside them.

The Eloi roof-runner was examining the dismantled barricade.

Bujilli closed his eyes with a sigh. Then he caught the sense of it. Flimsy, filmy threads of evaporating force--the traces of a spell that had covered them all while they were asleep.

Subtle somnolent vibrations shimmered through the web-like strands.

No wonder the Irrlicht had been able to drain Leejas' essence without waking any of them.

But Irrlichts were immaterial things.

How did the make-shift barricade get removed?

He stalked over to the Eloi.

They looked up at him with dewy, too-large eyes; "Someone undid our work here one brick or chunk at a time and we never heard a thing..."

"There was a spell, some sort of sleep-inducing sorcery cast over the room. It affected us all." Bujilli watched the Eloi as they touched each of the carefully stacked and sorted piles of rubble that had been their barricade. Their hands were filthy, bleeding from rough work.

"Of course some one did. That thing wasn't physical. It was a thing of light and shadow; it didn't have any hands we didn't lend to it." The Ignoble sneered down at the Eloi from beside Bujilli.

"What? Are you accusing me?" The roof-runner stood up, hands balled-up into delicate fists.

"Your kind were raised to serve in medical experiments, brothels and as slaves. Everyone knows that you're all deeply conditioned to respond to all sorts of charms, suggestions or commands. Weak-willed cattle--"

"And you still clutch your Iron Mask like a pathetic child with their doll--"

"Enough." Bujilli still held the hand-axe and made sure that both of them saw it; "We don't have any time for fighting among ourselves. We need to get out of here--"

"Out? Out to where? We're in the fucking Gormenstille you idiot peasant. There's nowhere to go, not for us."

"We broke your chains. You're free--"

"Ha! This one would rather cling to the walls of her cell than face the world beyond these walls." The Eloi roof-runner had a sharp-edged splinter of stone in their hand. It wasn't much, but it could be enough; as a child Bujilli had started out with less.

"Look. We're leaving. If you want to stay behind, that's your business, so long as you get out of our way and never cross our path again."

"You can't cast me aside like this! How dare you! Do you realize who I am? I am Nemo 22722--"

"And I'm Nemo 112811. Who cares?"

"Nemo?" Bujilli thought he recalled something about that particular name, something that his Uncle had mentioned, or was it some book he had read as a child?

"We're non-persons. They took away our names and gave us a number."

"Then feel free to reclaim your names because you're free now."

"You do not understand. They really did take away our names. Removed our old identities. We have wiped clean of our old identities; there's nothing left to go back to, nothing to 'reclaim,' even if we wanted to do so."

"Then pick new names. Start new lives."

The Eloi perked up at this radical new thought. The Ignoble scowled, rejecting it out of hand; "Such a thing would go against centuries of tradition, it would be a betrayal of my lineage and ancestors."

"As you will then. It is your life, your choice."

Lemuel was standing over Leeja and Hedrard. Keeping watch.

Bujilli nodded in approval.

The boy who had once attacked him in order to get some slight advantage in the Entrance Exams at the Academy had been through a great ordeal, a terrifying transformation, an experience they had both shared. They had an understanding of one another like few other beings could ever imagine...and yet they remained so very independent, so separate. Since Hedrard had severed their connection they'd both changed considerably, becoming incredibly different from each other, and yet the bond, the link between them remained...a strange form of kinship. It was good to have friends, especially in this place.

"How do we get out of here?" The Eloi sat back down on their stretcher.

"We don't. No one does. That's the point--"

"If there's no obvious way to get out of here in the next day or so, then we need to find a way to stay out of the way until I can get us out of here another way."

"You have a way out of here? Why are you waiting? Let's go. Now!"

"It doesn't work like that. I need another day before I can use it." Bujilli felt the Synchronocitor hovering close to hand. It was bonded to his aura and even phase-shifted as it was, he could still feel it, still sense it slowly recharging. Twenty-one hours. They just needed to survive another twenty-one hours in this place before he could take them elsewhere.

"That's inconvenient. So what do we do in the mean-time? Knit socks from cob-webs?" The Ignoble slumped onto their own stretcher.

"This place was built for a reason--"

"It's a prison."

"I get that. But --"

"This is the place where they throw away the unlawful bastards, the inconvenient relatives, the unwanted and those they can't afford to simply murder..."

"Mad kings, princes replaced by simulacra, barons with ties to officially defunct lineages, children with unfortunate bloodlines...hostages..."

"And secrets. Such secrets as would beggar belief. This place is a repository of dangerous knowledge, all sorts of buried evidence, troublesome things and inconvenient truths..."

"Secrets? Knowledge? Like spells?" Bujilli re-set his stretcher into place and sat down. Maybe this place might be worth a bit more investigation...

"The central core of each tower is an archive stacked full of boxes, books and other things--"

"And how well defended or guarded are these archives?"

"Depends. The Central one is out of the question...but one of the lesser tertiary tower might be something we could reach and poke around in a bit...it's dangerous...but we might be able to do it..."

"Foolishness!" The Ignoble fumed; "I, for one, do not relish getting killed or worse just so you can browse through other people's dirty secrets in search of--"

"Knowledge. I came to the Academy at Wermspittle seeking knowledge. Now that I find myself in this place, I am curious jut what sorts of things I might learn here..."

"Curiosity killed the cat--"

"I am no cat."

"Of course not. Cats are noble creatures. But surely we cannot run off in search of gods know what before your friends recover form your spell..."

"They will be waking up very soon. Then we need to decide what we are going to do next."


What should Bujilli and company do next?

You Decide!



Now What?

Well, first we need to roll for Initiative: Roll 1d6 for (1) Bujilli and his group, and (2) on the off-chance that there is some sort of lurker or prowler near-by.

That done, we need a Wandering Monster check: roll 1d6, on a result of 1 there is a wandering monster to be rolled for off of the Wandering Monster Matrix for this section of the Gormenstille. Since we're advised to check for Wandering Monsters every two turns (as per P. 125 of Labyrinth Lord), we could probably do with say four or five such checks, if someone feels like rolling for them.

Five or six D20 rolls would also be handy.

Then it's up to you to decide what Bujilli and his crew ought to do next. The Synchronocitor will be ready to re-use in 21 hours. So what do they do in the mean-time? Go exploring? go stir-up the vampires down the passageway they just left? Look for a way through the Gormenstille in order to go looting one of the tertiary towers? Build-up their defenses and sit tight until they can leave? Something else? Let's hear your suggestions!

As always, if you have any questions or want to vote for a particular direction to take or specific thing to do next please let us know in the comments, or via email.

What happens next is up to you, the readers.

You Decide!

Previous                            Next

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. Bujilli returns! I've no dice at work, but I think they should hunker down and sit tight. No use going looking for trouble if they've got a way out soon.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yep. Sitting tight might be a good idea anywhere else...but in this prison...it will almost certainly attract the attention of prowlers and predators...

      The Synchronocitor is recharging, but we have yet to see if it will work while inside the central tower of this prison-complex...this place was constructed in order to keep a lot of things inside it and never let them get out again...

      Delete
  2. It's good to be reading Bujilli again. There's so much to it and it keeps getting deeper, even in the further-backstory, as with the fragment on the encounter with the demi-lichipede. It also has so many overlapping spheres of the fantastical that even as a reader it makes demands on the imagination.

    I rolled the d6s for initiative and got a 1 for Bujilli and a 2 for the unknown, which is a little odd because it matches the numbering in the post... As usual, I'll hold off for now with the d6s for the wandering monster checks and the d20s, to give someone else the chance to roll.

    As for the plan, given how weak they are Trey might be right, that they're best off resisting the temptation to go after an archive. Then again, the current location has already been struck once, and something might even be lingering, so if they're staying put, they should reinforce the space on as many levels as they can to be sure they can stay safely for the full period.

    One possible compromise could be pushing on towards an archive, but agreeing to halt and hold the first more secure space they find rather than go on at any cost.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good to be writing Bujilli again as well. I'm working on some stories to fill-in some of the gaps or to expand on some of those hints and fragments like the encounter with the Demi-Lichipede back in Bujilli's youth.

      Thanks for the Initiative rolls!

      The party is in a weakened state...but remaining in this part of the tower is a good way to attract the attention of Bannerworth's minions...and an encounter with vampires could be worse than the Weirdlight...which fairly easily overcame their previous efforts to fortify this position, using Charm, Suggestion, Hypnosis and so forth--Eloi being extra-susceptible to such things...

      Looking for a more suitable place to hide-out and get some rest is a good compromise and would avoid some of the escalating Wandering Monster checks...

      Delete
  3. 2,3,6 for WM's so I guess nothing comes sauntering by....for the first few rounds at least.

    I also like the idea of the archives, but with reservations, as does Porky. My concern is that although information and intelligence may be gained, there are other denizens of the tower that also value intelligence, or conversely, protect it for their own needs and machinations.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thanks for the die rolls. Looks like the group gets a break for the next little bit and they can make plans. This place is sparsely populated in most parts partly due to the plague(s), partly due to the vampires, and partly due to other factors. The guards don't bother to patrol since they control the majority of the food supplies and access to fresh water and medicine and they control the 'safer' parts of the place. So getting to the Archives is do-able, with some of that old fashioned 'quickly, quietly, carefully' stuff, and a bit of scouting. The real challenge is how to handle the things that dwell in the Archives and the things that prowl there...and where to go inside the place, as the Archives are huge and encompass many floors and extend into several towers and passages and lesser domes and the like. Then there is the matter of what sort of information or knowledge are they looking for in this place? Perhaps there is some sort of index or librarian or custodians or something that can help them...if they know how to ask or convince them to assist them...

      Delete
  4. As much as I would like for the group to have a safe place to rest and recover, I don't think they'll find it anywhere in the Gormenstille. They need to keep moving until they find a way out, or the Synchronocitor recharges.

    The Eloi and the Ignoble may be prisoners, but they are registered (Nemo 22722 and Nemo 112811) and probably trackable. Keeping on the move might make them a little less easy to find. Do they have any identifying markers (tattoos, sigils, jewelry, etc.) and if so is any of it magically marked? If it is it would be worth considering dispelling it or using it to mis-direct any pursuers.

    Since they need to keep moving they may as well try for the archives. Definitely not toward the vampires.

    I rolled 5d20s and got 12, 14, 17, 11, and 20.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is not a safe place; there is nasty fungi in the passage, and vampires very close-by. The group made this area as secure as they could and the Irrlicht was able to invade their space anyhow...so maybe moving along to look for a better, more protected location might be a good idea.

      All prisoners within the Gormenstille are duly registered and recorded in the Red Book. These two prisoners are non-persons, and are not particularly traceable since they only retain residual pieces of their original identities. No one much cares about them, so they can wander about fairly freely...and tend to serve as a free-range food-source for the vampires and others. Not a glamorous life by any stretch of the imagination.

      Avoiding the vampires seems prudent at the moment. There is, of course, no guarantees that the vampires will avoid the group...

      The Synchronocitor is recharging...but there is no way to know whether it will function from inside these walls, or not, until it gets tested. The Gormenstille was built to keep things inside it, so there may be resistance, defenses, wards, or other things to get past before they can escape...

      Thanks for the die rolls. That 17 means that one of the prisoners has a potentially bright idea about how to get out of this place...

      Delete

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