Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 86

Their wounds tended-to by the strange little servants answering to Klush's orders, Bujilli and Leeja were brought before Morquin and his mate Yushgra to deliver their message from Headmistress Shael. Their mission accomplished, they must decide what to do with the still-sleeping Ahven, and what they intend to do next... 

"Are they still out there?" Leeja hissed incredulously.

"Oh yes. They'll wait there for as long as they know you're inside." Morquin leaned back on his cushions. Impassive. Implacable.

"Then we'd appreciate it if you might point out another route we can take to return to our, to my room." Bujilli sighed. He had no interest in confronting the three killers waiting outside for them both. for all he knew there were three more such 'representatives' waiting for them out there, seeking to drag them off to meet with yet more of the secret masters or behind-the-scenes movers and shakers who've now taken a very real interest in them both. Contrary to popular opinion, it wasn't always all that good to be wanted.

"Certainly," Morquin nodded; You can take a stroll through the catacombs, take your chances poling a raft along the Buried Canal, or you could take to the roofs, if that appeals to you, though it is raining."

They looked at each other. Leeja nodded. "We'll take to the roofs."

"Despite the rain?" Morquin rose to his feet.

"Yes." Leeja was adamant. Bujilli wasn't sure why, but he would back her in this, certain that she had a reason.

"Personally, I would have opted for the Buried Canal, but then I'm not much of one for the heights. Have you some plan for hauling your...friend? Captive? Prisoner there along with you?"

Bujilli looked down on Ahven's still form. Disarmed, bound and under the influence of a Sleep spell. He wasn't terribly keen on hauling the boy across the rooftops. He also wasn't prepared to abandon him to the tender mercies of Master Morquin and his mate Yushgra.

"Ah. I see that this a delicate matter, perhaps you would appreciate something to help maintain your current position, prolong the situation, as it were, with a bit more discretion than what you are faced with at the moment?"

"Husband! No. We do not know these two--"

"Quite right. But a small gesture on my part might go a long way toward overcoming some of the unfortunate social awkwardness and reticence that festers in this place. If I make a small gist to you, and thereby make your current efforts a bit more bearable, then you'd be inclined to think a bit more favorably towards myself, yes?"

Bujilli nodded before he realized what he was doing. "That sounds fair..."

"What are you offering us?" Leeja's eyes were slitted with suspicion.

"A minor serum that I managed to salvage from certain burned-out pharmacological labs. It was banned almost as soon as it was first tested. So it is obscure, very rare."

"What does it do?"

"Once injected it reduces the subject's size substantially."

"It shrinks them?"

"One could be excused for describing it that way...the truth is a bit more involved...but the end result is what matters and that is what it will do for you; reduce your burden so it will fit easily into your belt-pouch."

Leeja placed her hand on Bujilli's arm. She was visibly uncomfortable with Morquin's offer, but did not utter a word; it was to be his decision.

"Are there any side-effects?"

"A few. Nothing too serious. It is, in many respects, fairly similar to the serums employed by the ancestors of my wife's people, as well as some of the other, more commonly available formulae still in-use among the Hyden and the like."

"Does it require an antidote?"

"No. Not at all. A small injection, say with a five percent solution, will be more than enough to give you a couple of hours to make your way back home. Once the formula wears off, his body will reacquire its mass, grow back to its normal size and so forth. Of course it will be painful, but such cannot be avoided..."

"Painful? How bad would it be?"

"Terrible. He will not thank you for it." Yushgra dropped her veils and began stripping-off her gloves. It resembled peeling skin back, only it revealed nothing. Her innate invisibility disturbed Bujilli. It was unnatural, for all that it was an inherited condition.

"I thank you for the offer, and it might have made things easier, but I must decline..."

"As you wish. It is refreshing to encounter someone who still retains some principles." Morquin grinned broadly. Too broadly.

"You care about this one?" Yushgra kicked Ahven's slumbering form, just enough to make him move.

"I...there are some things I want to get sorted out between us. He may have been misled or manipulated into attacking us--"

"So he is an enemy then. A sorcerer. Not a terribly good one, but a spell-caster none the less. He has the taint of old, bad things upon him. Poisonous things...but then you know about some of that already..."

"Yes. He used some sort of femur-bone to throw poisonous green flames at us...when...we...fought." Bujilli had not intended to discuss the matter with Morquin, let alone his wife Yushgra. But now...

"You did well to disarm him. Whomever he is, he is not entitled to wield such a thing. He takes much upon himself out of misplaced hubris. He deludes himself, making him that much easier to be manipulated in turn." Yushgra's voice moved past them as she opened a teak armoire and began to select something from the clothes stored there.

"How do you know this?" Leeja asked softly.

"I can see things. It is the way of my people; we see much that you do not, even as you cannot see us." She wrapped a strangely pleated skirt about her unseen hips.

"And can you--"

"Can I tell you who sent him after you? Why? Yes. I think that I could. But I won't. Not today. We've only just met and I am inclined to wait and see how you respond to things. There is a lot in motion currently and I do not know if we are to be allies...or something else..." Yushgra snapped herself into an immaculately-white ermine girdle that overlapped the skirt.

"We are not your enem--"

"Hush girl. None of us know what we are to each other, save only that I am with my mate even as you are bonded to yours."

"Ahem." Morquin folded his heavily muscled arms across his chest; "My wife and I shall answer the summons of the Headmistress. Would you like for us to deliver a message to those waiting for you outside our front doors?"

"No. No message. We have far too many questions to get answered first..."

"Alas, there are many answers here within the Athenaeum, if you but had time to avail yourselves of what we have to offer here..."

It was tempting to stay. Very tempting. But they needed to deal with Ahven, and they needed to check in with Gnosiomandus...and Hedrard, if only to find out how Sprague was doing.

"Thank you, but we really must be going." Leeja was growing anxious. It was time to go.

"Yes. There is something in the air tonight." Yushgra had pulled on a pair of spiked bracers, two criss-crossing belts, and a cloak of rich, black seal-skin. Bujilli found it impossible to keep an exact count of how many blades were sheathed and hanging from Yushgra's belts. More than four. He left it at that.

"Very well," Morquin stalked over to the armoire next to his wife and pulled out a heavily scaled cloak of lustrous black reptile-hide, which he held draped over his left forearm while Yushgra clasped a pitted and blackened cuirass over his mid-section. "We'll accompany you to the roof before we set out. It is dark--"

"And stormy." Yushgra helped her husband settle the heavy cloak into place, then handed him a pair of gloves riveted with dark gray oval plates that he pulled past his elbows.

"We've run through the rain before..." Leeja began.

"No doubt. And we are well past the Killing Rains now, but there are things that travel behind the rain..."

"...things that are best avoided." Yushgra pulled her hood up over her head.

Bujilli scooped-up Ahven and slung him across his shoulder. He adjusted his hold. Then Leeja bent the boy's knees forwards, pushed down and tied a fresh length of rope around the boy's legs, pulling it across Bujilli's chest, under the boy's arm-pits and tied it off. It would have to work.

"They are determined my dear." Morquin smiled. took Yushgra's hand and led the way to the ramp that led up to the roof.

Rain sprayed in through the opening in the roof, despite the overhanging edges and overlapping sections meant to minimize such things. It was dark out there. Massive clouds loomed overhead. Thunder boomed and rolled through the night.

"Good luck!" Morquin yelled to be herd through the pelting rain.

Bujilli nodded. Leeja smiled sweetly, then set off across the rooftop. Bujilli followed close behind.

They followed the spine of the massive peaked roof. The eaves were flooded and over-flowing. Leeja swung down onto a half-hidden catwalk below the main roof. This led them to a set of iron stairs. four flights down they were able to run across an elevated walkway connecting the main part of the Athenaeum to another building. The wind and rain made stopping more dangerous than staying in motion. They kept going. Up the crenellated facade of the next-door building, across a red-tiled roof, down a sloping section of half-collapsed wall, following the broken-up center-posts of a massively overgrown arbor; they kept going on through the storm, not taking time to examine their surroundings beyond what was available for hand-holds, foot-holds or climbable surfaces.

It was exhilirating. Reckless. Fool-hardy. Bujilli nearly lost his grip twice. But he kept going.

The rain was cold. The night was dark. They ran across roof-tops, avoiding lightning rods, dodging weather-cocks, vents and chimneys. A balcony. A door. Leeja let them into a chamber near the top of a burned-out building. The glass was still intact on this corner of the place. Dust swirled into mud as they dripped across the ancient carpets and hard wood floors.

"Why?" Bujilli slumped against the heavy pillar of a baroque bed-frame bereft of all linens.

"We're out of that place. No one knows where we're at right now. We can deal with this--" she slapped Ahven; "--burden once and for all. then we can catch our breath before we dive back into things. Maybe you can contact Gnosiomandus and see what has been going on since we were sent off on this errand of Shael's..."

"Your aunt Shael..."

"I didn't pick the bitch, any more than you picked your uncle." Her eyes flared gold-green in the darkness. Lightning rumbled across the night sky outside the tall windows. This chamber was fairly large. Mostly stripped. What furniture was left in-place was covered with shrouds or had collapsed into fire wood. The fireplace looked like it was still serviceable. If they felt like taking a chance on it.

"Your plan makes sense." He gestured to the rope so Leeja would give him a hand getting things un-tied.

They laid Ahven on the carpet. Re-tied his hands.

Bujilli went over and examined the fireplace. There was a draft. Water dripped down the back. He'd seen worse. Rummaging about the chamber, he was able to collect some fairly dry pieces of furniture and some scraps of old drapes and a section of rug that fell into a mass of loose fibers when he touched it. Getting a fire started was easy. He adjusted the flue. The fire grew bright and hot. It felt good.

He slumped down onto the floor. More tired than he had realized. Also more drenched. He began to remove some of his armor and clothes, setting things on the bricks before the fireplace to dry out.

Leeja returned from examining the rest of the floor. She was carrying some candles and cardboard box.

She lit a pair of heavy, old candles. Set them on a taboret dragged over from beside the bed-frame.

The box contained three cans of brown bread. The labels fell off when they lifted the cans. Neither of them read the language they were printed in, so they ignored the words. The picture was enough. A little careful knife-work and the cans were opened. The stuff smelled good, not spoiled, so they set each can close to the fire to let them warm up a bit.

"So what do you think we ought to do with this asshole?" Leeja retrieved her can, picked-out morsels with her stilletto.

Bujilli pried-out a mouth-ful from his own can. It was heavy with molasses, raisins, some sort of nuts. Not what he was expecting. It was good, but very, very sweet. He mulled over the matter while he chewed.

"Ilzinna was supposed to be the nice one, according to the walls. This one, Ahven, is a real piece of work. He wouldn't cooperate. Cast Voorish--"

"The Hateful Sign. Yes. His hands are incapable of making any sort of sign for now. I made sure of it."

"Good. So do we try to interrogate him again? Last time didn't go so well."

"He's part Umbri. The Umbri are..."

"They are a Deep People, one of the groups who live beneath the surface of the worlds. They trade with the morlocks and my father's people. They hunt my mother's folk."

"This one is part morlock. As was his sister. But the mask she was wearing, that wasn't Umbri, was it?"

"No. The mask was older, deeper. Those tombs are supposed to have been sealed away for centuries. Not counting when Niobe and I..."

"Yes? your sister and you...what?"

"We broke into the tombs beneath Zurugossa. I saw masks there. Like the one worn by Ilzinna. Before the floor collapsed from under us and we were separated."

"Niobe went back to your father. you went on to Wermspittle."

"Essentially. Yes. After I escaped from the Cnidarri and got past the Trading Post at Lussettrin where someone poisoned the water-supply with White Powder." She shivered in recollection of the Loathsome Masses that had once been merchants, fishers, and other people just trying to make a living in the dim reaches.

"So these masks are very old?"

"Yes. I was raised with folk-tales about the things. They hold the souls of ancient beings that hate all humans..."


"Yes. Their definition is a great deal more inclusive than most other people. My sister and I, for instance, we were both considered human by the masks."

"So who else would have had access to these things, after your sister and you left that place?"

"Anyone daring to go into the place. The old wards were feeble. We'd wrecked several of the traps on our way in. After the floor collapsed...the place was ripe for the looting..."

"I wonder if Gudrun would know anything?"

"Excuse me?"

"Gudrun dealt with Ilzinna, back when she was being manipulated by Sprague, or was it Not-Sprague, his simulacrum? Whichever, she might know something."

"I doubt it. I have the distinct impression that whatever was behind Gudrun's impromptu feud with you, it wasn't something that left a lot of lingering traces."

"So you don't think it was entirely Sprague/Not-Sprague either?"

"No. Sprague was an opportunity. A convenient. cats' paw."

"Ilzinna was doing what her grandfather had asked her to do, as some sort of test."

"But were Ahven and Ilzinna sent to kill you before they were caught-up in the feud, or did they only receive those orders--"

"Not orders. She said it had been a request."

"Request then. I don't think Ahven here is likely to cooperate with us any more than he did before. But..."

"But what?"

"We don't need his cooperation. For one thing he's a liar."

"What do you mean?"

"I've been thinking about his claim to have been raised among the Umbri. Half-breed or not. The few Umbri who have some into Wermpsittle came through the East Gate of the Inner Ramparts three winters ago. They settled in the shanty-camps on the north-side of things, as far away from the Unter-Rail as possible. Their elders were all suffering from some kind of poison, some sort of purple gas they encountered on their way across the borderlands coming out from the dead worlds..."

"How do you know all this?"

"I read the papers."

"So you think that Ahven here is lying about being from the Umbri?"

"Yes. Did you see his sister's eyes?"

"No." He had only briefly glanced at her face in the course of dealing with the mask. The damned thing had been in the middle of casting a spell. After she was already dead.

"Her eyes were a very distinctive oily-purple..."

"I'm sorry, that means nothing to me."

"I think that Ahven here was really only her half-brother, or maybe he took after their morlock ancestors more strongly than she did. Whatever the case, she definitely took after the other side of their family tree."

"And who would that be?"

"The Purple Horde."


"Ilzinna was 'asked' to kill you by her 'grandfather.' The Desert Fathers, the elders of the Purple Horde never issue orders, they make requests. It's a mark of the loyalty of their offspring."

"But he's at least half morlock..."

"The Desert Fathers take a wide array of concubines, all the better to re-populate the dead worlds..."

"But why would these people have any sort of grudge against me? I never heard of them before this?"

"They obviously know about you. These two were sent to prove themselves to their elder; killing you is some sort of test for them both."

"Well, Ilzinna failed the test. I don't plan on letting Ahven succeed either."

"So that brings us back. Do we kill him? Or do we try to learn something more? Or do we just let him go?"

"I'm loathe to release him just to have him come back at an inopportune moment. I'm also not keen on killing the kid just because he's a pain. Once we start doing'll just get messier and nastier as we go along. I don't trust him, but we do need to know more. I want answers, not more questions."

"We get what we get. We can confront him with what I just told you, maybe he'll slip up, especially if we keep him off-balance..." Leja smiled.

"You have an idea?"

"Let me show you." Leeja went over to the far wall, unhitched the chain for the chandelier and lowered it. Then she tied Ahven to the chandelier, feet-first and raised it so he was hanging only a few inches from the musty, damp carpet.

"Now, if you'd release your Sleep spell..."

Bujilli snapped the outer shell of the spell and it faded into a soft vrillic cascade of immaterial threads.

Ahven stirred.

Leeja poked him in the belly with her finger; "Grandfather is disappointed with you, Ahven."

The boy thrashed about, swinging back and forth, upside down, hands bound, trapped.

"Kill. Now. No--"

"Yes, yes, we heard it before; 'no talk.' You like to present yourself as an ignorant refugee, but we know better."

"You know nothing."

"Wrong again. We know that your sister didn't get those gorgeous purple eyes from your morlock ancestors."

Ahven went rigid. His face radiated a determined defiance.

"We also know that you're no might have come through the East Gate with them, but you're not one of them. Are you?"

Sullen silence.

"Your sister, if Ilzinna really was your sister, failed your grandfather's test. You're not doing so well either. In fact, I bet you don't even recollect just how much you've already told us while you were under the influence of our spells..."

Ahven fought his bonds, growling like an animal. She let him wear himself out. Then Leeja took a handful of his shaggy hair and lifted Ahven's face up to about waist high. She stared into his eyes with her gold-green gaze. Softly, simply, she cast her Charm Person spell. Ahven spasmed, briefly, but found himself unable to resist. He was too worn down. Confused and uncertain, not sure what had taken place while he was under their control, he wasn't able to fight off the charm.

"There. That didn't hurt a bit. Now tell us about your grandfather."

Ahven choked. Whispered hoarsely.

Leeja leaned closer.

A scent like rotten peaches.

Bujilli yanked Leeja away from Ahven as thick purplish smoke curled up from the boy's nostrils and mouth. His eyes were solid purple now. Leeja's throat was raw. Her nose bled.

The purple gas continued to flow forth from Ahven's twitching body. Dark, sweet and deadly; the vapor was spreading out to fill the room. The reek of spoiled peaches was overpowering.

Bujilli pulled Leeja away. They both gathered their gear as quickly as they could and got moving. Once out of the chamber they paused long enough to get fully dressed. Then they took the stairs down to the fifth floor. There was a three-floor gap at that point.

"Most of my rope is back upstairs." Leeja hissed in anger.

"So we improvise. Or we--"

"We improvise. It's not safe to stay here. Not with that..." She coughed. Blood spattering her hand as she tried to cover her mouth.

Bujilli had no more rope, no more cord, not even a piece of string. He looked around the place. At first he considered trying to tie together some drapes or something, but most of them were too dry and rotten. The carpet was useless in this regard as well.

He pushed the window open. Rain poured in. The storm was going in full force outside. This way wasn't going to work. So he tried another window. No. Another. No. Another. A balcony. He went to the railing and looked down. There; on the left was a set of stairs leading down to an elevated mezzanine or patio.

Thunder crashed overhead. He grabbed Leeja by the hand and led her out into the rain. Down the stairs. Across the patio. The way down from there came in the form of a slope made-up of the bricks and stonework from the neighboring building that had collapsed against this one. Water rushing off of the patio made the way slippery, but it was better than falling three stories.

They made their way down the irregular slope. Ducked under a half-intact awning. This place was boarded-up. Advertising flyers for Lear's Soap and Hard Candy were haphazardly pasted over everything. Leeja coughed up more blood. Bujilli considered breaking into this place. Or...

Out in the rain...
  • Should Bujilli break into the boarded-up building?
  • Would it be better to look for a street-sign or some familiar landmark and head back to the Academy?
  • Maybe they could make their way to Schroedinger & Cave's shop?
  • They might look for an inn or tavern...

Or do you have a better or different suggestion? 

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 85

Wounded and possibly poisoned by contact with a Morlock anathebone, Bujilli and Leeja arrived at the doors to the Athenaeum only to be ambushed by anonymous assassins wielding gonnes...

Leeja was down. Her blood spilling across the pretty jasper tiles in front of the wide-open Athenaeum doors.

A shot ricocheted from the door.

"Hurry!" the heavy-set man in the armored apron gesticulated wildly, motioning them to pass through the door.

Another shot tore a chunk out of a marble statue's belly, one of the smaller ones arranged along the near wall. Bujilli slipped in some blood. He wasn't sure whose. Ahven's body was getting too heavy, too awkward to keep carrying him. He considered dropping the boy and putting his manticore-pistol to good use.

One more shot spanged off of the bronze book held by the colossi flanking the doors. Bujilli slammed down on his left knee as he slipped on another pool of blood. His, most likely. He was beginning to really hate gonnes.

He looked to Leeja. Shifted his grip on Ahven's unconscious, bound form. Shoved the boy towards the fat man gaping at them. Reached over and grabbed hold of Leeja and dragged her towards the door.


Someone's head came sailing towards them. One of the shooters, most likely. It landed with a wet crunch at the feet of the fat man. Bujilli couldn't help but smell the sweet stench coming off of the severed head. They had been heavily-dosed with Hard Candy. The dead flesh was already blackening, sloughing off of the bone with a faint sickening sizzle.

Another shooters' scream was cut abruptly short.

"No! Ple--" The third one threw away his weapon only to erupt in a fine red mist and a steaming pile of shredded meat splattered across the jasper tiles.

Three disparate figures strode into the atrium. Each from a different hallway, a different direction. One was a wild-haired and wode-smeared woman with moss growing in her hair and too many owl's talons protruding from her hands and feet. She curtsied daintily and smiled lasciviously at Bujilli from the left corridor; "Before you go any further--"

The second figure, farthest away across the atrium, was some sort of hunchback who appeared to have a third eye protruding from its hump, glaring malevolently over their deformed shoulder. It had been the hunchback who cast the spell that exploded the second assassin's blood and meat across the tiles. The residual blue flames licked across their heavily studded leather fighting gloves; "--My masters would--"

The third figure wore a heavy wool great coat and their face was covered by some sort of tight-fitting fabric, possibly silk, like some sort of web or cocoon overlaid with a pair of vintage airship goggles. They carried a massive two-handed sword over their shoulder that still dripped blood from the recent decapitation of the first assassin; "--Request your presence."

Three killers stood at the three arches of the atrium before the Athenaeum. All three of them had just eliminated one of the shooters. Each of them clearly represented a different party. An interested party. Three very interested parties who no doubt wished to discuss delicate matters and dangerous things, ostensibly in secret, and yet they competed with one another to be first in line. These were people of power and prestige who wanted to deal with Bujilli bad enough to kill. People very likely not included in Headmistress Shael's itinerary. He looked down at the fizzing head on the floor. The rot was spreading rapidly, but he was able to distinguish some of the features. Enough to know that this had once been a young boy. Whomever they were, they sent children after him with gonnes. They knowingly sent them to their deaths. It was all a set-up. All some sick sort of passion play. Cold, callous and calculated. A bit of twisted theater for his benefit. A game. Politics.

Politics in Wermspittle.

The three killers held their places just a hair behind each of the arched passageways. They watched one another as they waited for Bujilli's response. Blood had been spilled. Power displayed. Lives snuffed-out. There were rules to these sorts of things.

Without a word, Bujilli heaved Leeja through the doors and collapsed inside the vestibule of the Athenaeum. He felt the heavy doors seal behind him. The fat man adjusted his armored apron, then set about tending to Leeja.

"How bad is it?" Bujilli wobbled as he tried to get back onto his feet.

"Depends on your point of view young sir..."


"Oh. You mean your friend here. She's badly hurt. But I can stabilize her condition. If you like..."

"She's my partner." Bujilli made an effort to keep the snarl our of his voice; "Get her stabilized, if that's the best you can do, and I'll get her--"

"Of course young sir. Not a bother at all. Mistress Yushgra can tend her wounds. That will spare you making another sortie past those ruffians and rascals outside our doors."

"I appreciate your efforts on behalf of my friend. And this Yushgra's as well."

"Think nothing of it young sir. Will you also be requiring my assistance? What of your other friend there?" The fat man gestured toward Ahven.

"I am injured, as is this one. We could all three very likely benefit from your assistance. If it's not a bother..."

"Certainly young sir. No bother. Not really. And while I attend to you three, could you perhaps tell me what that unpleasantness out there was all about?"

"Damned if I know." Bujilli slid back down against the wall, nauseous and shaky from blood-loss or something. He felt warm. soft, gentle white light filled his mind's eye. His hands itched. Green specks dotted his fingers from handling the weirdly carved Morlock femur-bone that Ahven had attacked him with less than an hour ago. Or maybe it had been longer. Time worked peculiarly in this place. It was almost as warped as some of the people.

"Ah. So it is a mystery then."

"We were sent here by the Headmistress. To speak to Morquin--"

"Indeed? Well, in that case we'd best see to it that you don't bleed-out before your audience." The fat man clapped three times.

Three serpent-headed children rushed out form some unseen gap in the wall and began to examine Ahven. They had syrupy-red eyes and their scales were banded with yellow, white and orange, with purplish tongues. Bujilli watched them reinforce his Sleep spell, as though re-tying someone else's knot.

Three dog-headed children scampered out and began to sniff Leeja, examining her wounds, licking away the blood and rubbing her with fragrant salves and applying bandages. They worked together extremely well. One, with the head of a hound and ragged-looking wings, cast some sort of healing spell over Leeja, a soft blue glow that flowed through her bandages and soothed her burns--he had not realized that she has been burned. Perhaps it had been the dark speech, or the Voorish Sign that Ahven had used.

Three winged monkeys chittered and bickered as they pawed over Bujilli, locating his wounds and similarly tending to him. The one with bat-like wings cleared away the blood and washed him with a sponge dipped into a bucket of cold water. Another had raven's wings and stitched his wounds closed, after it had extracted a bullet and several green lumps of some strange glassy substance. The third one had the wings of a huge, yet delicate moth and it cast a spell on him that tickled as it caused his flesh to mend and his clothes and armor to re-knit and repair itself.

The fat man in the apron beamed proudly as the three sets of furtive little things went about their business. When each trio was finished they bowed solemnly towards their patient, then to the fat man, then to Bujilli and left, disappearing back into the walls.

The last of the three monkeys lingered just a slight bit longer than its fellows. It placed something in Bujilli's hand before he realized what it was doing. It nodded once with an incredibly serious look on an otherwise foolish face, then scrambled out of sight. He glanced at the object. A small bone cylinder. Intricately carved.

"There. That will do for now. You will address Master Morquin immediately. Then we'll see what we will see..." The fat man bent down, grabbed Ahven, hoisted the comatose boy effortlessly. "I'll leave it...her...for you to attend to, young sir." They locked eyes; "Follow me then." The fat man set off without waiting for Bujilli to respond.

Bujilli slipped the monkey's cylinder into his belt, then he knelt down to pick-up Leeja. She pushed him away. Slipped. Sprawled into him. They lingered there for a couple of breaths. Holding each other. Then they helped each other back to their feet. She stumbled slightly. Grabbed his arm. They switched their arms around until he got her to drape her arm over his neck and to lean on him. Together they got to following the fat man towards their audience with Master Morquin. The healing spell used on Leeja was slower to respond than the one used on Bujilli. He wondered about that as they followed after the fat man. Maybe it was some kind of precaution?

The Athenaeum was a large place. Elegant. Immaculate. All marble and jasper and other rich stone tiles, columns and pillars, sweeping rails and wide stairs; a labyrinth-museum of quiet hallways meeting at atrium junctions where huge chandeliers were suspended over delicate fountains. Side passages led off to a vast array of dedicated libraries, dim scriptoria, esoteric displays. One could easily spend months wandering through this place, surrounded by learning, languages and lore.

"You say that the Headmistress has sent you?" A tall, thin very black man stared down at them. His eyes solid, glossy black and accusing.

"Yes." Bujilli shifted his weight in case things were about to get violent again.

"And who is Headmistress of the Academy now? Not Inlache, surely." The very black man scowled at them both, not so much studying as challenging them.

"Shael." Leeja shivered slightly, but remained upright, a defiant fire in her gold-green eyes.

"Truly? How distressing for the Gardeners. But at least the Faceless Lords are happy, though you'll never catch one of them smiling, will you?" Master Morquin laughed heartily.

Bujilli was unsure what to say. He didn't feel like laughing.

"No need to get flustered--it was a rhetorical question. So. Shael is now Headmistress and she has sent you three to--"

"Excuse me. Headmistress Shael asked us," Bujilli gestured to Leeja and himself, "To request your presence at her Chamber of Consultation."

"And this one?" Morquin pointed to Ahven.

"He sort of got in the way when he attacked us...after we went to...oh scheiss; it's a long story." And he wasn't entirely sure how much of it he wanted to share with Morquin.

Morquin laughed. His teeth, gums and tongue were entirely black. Bujilli had heard of a people who were like that. But they tended to live near the polar regions.

"Sit then. Would you share some tea with me? You both look like you could use it." Morquin folded his long legs and took position upon a massive cushion with a grace that was nothing short of impressive.


"Klush; go see to the tea. Then you can get back to your work. I'll get Yushgra to tend to our guests once she is finished. Oh, and get Zumbri to go clean up the atrium."

"Yes Master Morquin. I will get the tea. Will you be needing your sword?" Klush hesitated as though he wished to speak. Morquin pointedly wasn't giving him an opening.

"Not immediately, but you have a good point; please ask Yodrik to prepare my war gear. Now the tea if you please."

"Yes Master Morquin. Right away." Klush waddled off towards the kitchens more than a little deflated that Morquin was not going to ask his opinion about the recent excitement.

"So. Shael is Headmistress now, and she has sent you two to come ask me to consult with her. Things must be pretty bad for her to do that."

"I...don't know what we're at liberty to discuss..."

"Are you under any sort of prohibition? Have you been ordered to not talk to me?"

"No..." Leeja wondered what Morquin was getting at.

"There you have it then. You are expected to use your own discretion. Tell me, are you students here at the Academy?"

"Yes. Both of us are." Bujilli nodded.

"Excellent. Who is your sponsor? Hedrard? You wear one of her amulets I see...and I'd bet good money that Eberhard herself was her sponsor...except you carry a pistol that I recognize as one of her collection..."

"Hedrard is a...friend. We have an understanding, an arrangement of sorts. The pistol was a gift, from Mistress Eberhard. Gnosiomandus is my sponsor, for both of us." Bujilli felt slightly tongue-tied. Morquin was an imposing figure. And he knew it.

"Gnosiomandus. Huh. I thought he was dead. Well, in any case, I have no problem with Hedrard listening-in on us, so you may keep the amulet. I am impressed that you've managed to earn the respect of someone like Eberhard, to receive such a gift from that lady is no small thing. I would dearly love to hear all about it some day, but obviously, you did not come here to regale me with tales of your exploits. No. You come here to convince me to leave this place and run the gauntlet in order to come to the assistance of someone who never before lifted a finger on my behalf..."

"I do not know very much about the politics in this place--"

"Politics?!? You run errands for the Headmistress herself. You are beset by assassins reeking of Hard Candy at my very door. You are sought out by the Gardeners, the Comprachicos, the Seamstresses, all of whom expect you to drop everything and come talk to them--"

"I have a feeling that was all just a set-up--"

"But of course it was. The Faceless Lords, the Corruption trade, the Ignobles; they do not usually operate openly, not even in this place, especially in this place. No one operates in the open in this place. My dear wife Yushgra can help me explain things better, I am but the child of a small clan of poor refugees who wandered into this place by mistake."

"My husband is too modest. His people came here through the Glowfields. They braved many dangers. Faced many challenges..."

Bujilli looked about the room. Mistress Yushgra's voice seemed to be coming from beside Morquin, but he could see nothing, no one there.

"Yushgra my love, you taunt the boy needlessly."

Silk scarves swirled up into the air. Spinning, whirling, wrapping around the invisible body of Mistress Yushgra.

"You are of the Abseen--" Leeja's eyes went wide in shock.

"No. I am of the Perdu. My mother was Abseen. My father...was more purely of the blood, thus making my place among my people a bit...complicated. something I imagine you can well appreciate Leeja." She paused for a bare instant but Leeja could feel the weight of Yushgra's gaze, her undivided attention focused upon her; "You are familiar with our peoples?" Yushgra donned a pallid velvet mask and gloves, drawing them up over her limbs in a reversal of the usual strip-tease. It was simultaneously sensual and threatening.

"Only from my studies. I've never of..."

"Well, you have met one of us now. Why have you come here?" Yushgra chuckled. It had been her express intent to throw Leeja off-balance. Another game being played out. It bothered Bujilli. He was getting tired of all the pretentious manipulations and flaunting of his ignorance. It was galling how in a place of larning and knowledge it was always ones ignorance that was being scored off of, endlessly pointed out and preyed upon by those who supposedly knew more, knew better, knew things others did not. It felt like a buffet where the cooks were actually beggars, each holding back one dish and parceling out only small samples to their chosen few. It offended him. Deeply.

"Headmistress Shael asked us to come here, to request--"

"Hold. She 'asked' you? Who are you that she would 'ask' you to come to us, and not simply order you about like common students?"


"You are neither one of you 'common students,' that much is for certain. You carry the favor of several tenured professors, some of whom carry the oak staves. I do not know this Gnosiomandus, but my mate recognizes his name, so that is enough for me, for now."

"Shael wants our help." Morquin grew serious.

"Indeed?" Yushgra leaned languidly against Morquin; "Why?"

"There has been an attack--"

Klush re-entered the room. A small parade of gaudily-dressed mice, moles, a bogle-runt, two blue zoogs, three hobyahs and a wombat wearing a bow-tie filed into the room carrying platters of biscuits, tea cups, honey, three kinds of milk and a selection of teas, both in-the-bag and loose. He carried a pair of tea pots, one in each hand, himself, as if not trusting the servants to carry them without incident. The wombat set up an ebony trestle-table and everything was quickly arranged, then Klush shooed the serving animals away.

"Thank you Klush. You may attend to your other tasks now." Morquin dismissed the fat man before he could make his mind known. With a bow he left. His brow furrowed in frustration.

Morquin shifted position, prepared a pair of cups, presented one to his wife, took up the other, then gestured to Bujilli and Leeja; "Feel free to fix your tea however you prefer. We have a good selection of--"

"It's quite excellent Master Morquin." Leeja happily set about fixing a pair of cups of tea. Some of the herbs looked more like fungi to Bujilli, but he held his tongue and let her tend to the tea-making. He felt a little sad that there was no yak butter. At least there was honey and some sot of sage, from the smell of it.

"You have an interesting selection of servants." Bujilli observed.

"Orphans. All of them were retrieved and rescued from various battle-fields, out past the Baffles, down among the Jumbles, as far away as the Black Woods, the Big Valley, the Black Water Bogs and the Monoliths of the Downcast Moon."

"We take them in, teach them their letters and give them a home, food and education. Most of them stay on as researchers, assistants, or in other capacities." Yushgra sounded bored.

"You are both very kind--"

"Hardly. We value loyalty. Those whom we take in appreciate what we do on their behalf. Those who remain in our service are dedicated, loyal." Morquin sipped his tea.

"Those who go on to other stations, other pursuits remain well-disposed towards us, often they feel a sense of indebtedness, another form of loyalty. It has proven to be quite useful in the past." Yushgra sipped her tea.

"An interesting way of doing things. Too bad others are so much less enlightened about such things." Bujilli closed his eyes and saw the severed head of a child rotting away at the door to this place. Even the simplest things came at such a harsh price in this place. No one ever did things nice and easy.

"Like those who sent the child soldiers to shoot up my atrium?" Morquin grinned from behind his tea cup, as though guessing the thoughts troubling Bujilli. Morquin was an astute observer, a talented judge of people.


"Ah. You are an idealist. You have come to a strange place indeed, if you intend to retain your ideal intact." Morquin sighed sadly. It was impossible to tell if he was mocking or serious.

"I came here to learn..."

"Yes? But to learn what?" Yushgra leaned forward, her silk wrap slid down, revealing the absence of her body beneath the voluptuously contoured fabric that remained in-place.

"You did not come her seeking power? No. I can see it now; you desire knowledge. Ah, but such knowledge changes things, transforms us even as we try to come to terms with it, and it's implications. You wish to learn, but are you willing to change in accordance with what you learn?"

Bujilli considered Morquin's words. He did not wish to appear hasty in his response.


"Oh ho! I really think he means it." Morquin laughed heartily.

"Yes. He does." Yushgra sat back on her cushions.

"So will you go to meet with Headmistress Shael?" Bujilli asked, if only to change the subject.

"I have not decided. What do you advise?"


"What do you advise me to do in this situation? You know more of what is going on out there than I do at the moment. You say that you are ignorant of the political realities going on around you. Your Headmistress asks you to perform her errands, instead of ordering you to do her bidding. No less than three of the old factions have tried to recruit or abduct or neutralize you before my very door. I say you are the best possible person to advise me in this matter; so what do you think I should do?"

"The Athenaeum is part of the Academy, yes?"


"Then as part of the Academy, you do owe the Headmistress that much. Go. Listen to what she has to say. Then make up your own mind as to what you want to do."

"Fair enough. We'll go listen to Headmistress Shael then. But if she's reaching out to me, then she's very likely stirring-up the hornet's nest and reaching out to others, and not reaching out to still others. It may well be as important whom she does not reach out to, as anyone she does try to contact. There are a lot of barely buried rivalries, simmering feuds, all sorts of land-mines and bad blood all through this place, all through Wermspittle and beyond. As far as I know the damned war is still going on, somewhere."

"Nothing is quite as simple as it might at first appear..." Bujilli sighed.

"Oh a few things are. Death. Sometimes."

"Speaking of death; you might wish to take a different route back than the one you came here by. Unless you wish to continue your conversation with those three..." Yushgra gestured vaguely towards the direction of the doorway they had used.

"Are they still out there?" Leeja hissed incredulously.

"Oh yes. They'll wait there for as long as they know you're still inside."

"Then we'd appreciate it if you might point out another route we can take to return to our, to my room."

"Certainly. You can take a stroll through the catacombs, take your chances poling a raft along the Buried Canal, or you could take to the roofs, if that appeals to you, though it is raining."

Success of a sort. They made it to the Athenaeum and have convinced Master Morquin and Mistress Yushga to go meet with Headmistress Shael. Now they just have to find a way back to their room in order to get some much needed rest before getting embroiled in the next round of incidents and explosions. Unless you readers think they should go somewhere else besides Bujilli's room.

In either case, it is nearly time to leave, and they don't want to wear out their welcome...

  • So should they go out the door they came in by, and confront the three killers?
  • Or should they go wandering through the catacombs?
  • Or take a trip down the Buried Canal?
  • Or take to the roofs, despite the cold spring rain, and run all the way home?

Or do you have a better or different suggestion? 

Let me know if you have any questions or could use some clarification to help make your suggestion(s)!

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 84

A young girl lay dead at their feet, slain by the black arrow Bujilli formed from the demon sent to kill him. Notoriously duplicitous, the arrow may have killed the wrong party; the Mask she wore held a spirit that may well have been the real culprit. But before they could learn anything more, someone interrupted Bujilli and Leeja. It was Ahven. The dead girl's brother. You could say that he took a dim view of his sister's demise...

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.

Bujilli sneezed.

"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.

They've reached the Athenaeum...

Now they just have to survive the next bit.

As usual, we'll need Initiative rolled for 1) Bujilli, 2) Leeja, 3) Morquin's Assistant, 4) the attackers.

Another set of 4 d20 rolls, and let's say 8 d6 rolls would also be most appreciated.

Another 1d4 and a 1d20 roll would both be useful in determining what Hedrard did prior to this shoot-out.

Then...well...what should Bujilli do now?

Drop Ahven's body? Grab Leeja and drag her through the doors. Turn to face the shooters? Call out for help? Ask the guy in the doorway to assist them? Cast a deadly spell? Something else?

What do you suggest? Let me know if you have any questions or could use some clarification to help make your suggestion(s)!

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

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

These Really are Strange Aeons...

It's kind of funny how things play out in "real life" sometimes. We all know that h. P. Lovecraft 'invented' the Trans-Neptunian Planet of Yuggoth in his weird fiction and poetry. He wrote about the imaginary planet as part of his Yog Sothoth/Cthulhu Mythos, and most notably in his set of 30+ sonnets titled Fungi From well as the Whisperer in Darkness, where there is a very nice connection made to Machen's work, but that's a digression for another time. Ahem. So, if you take a look at this article posted at Nature:
A Sedna-like body with a perihelion of 80 astronomical units, you'll see the current evidence that there really is an Oort Cloud, Virginia...and that it mat be teeming with dwarf planets and other bodies. but wait, that's not all, not by a long shot. If you click over to The Guardian, there's an article that will warm the heart of any die-hard HPL-fan. Based upon what we currently know, there is compelling evidence, based upon observations of Sedna, and VP-113 ("Biden"), and  their respective orbits,that there could very well could be a Trans-Neptunian 'Super-Earth' orbiting out there. Sure, NASA has pretty-much ruled-out the notion that there might be a Saturn-sized 'Planet-X' out there, but a 'super-Earth,' only 10-times the mass of Earth might have slipped by unnoticed. So far. A very real Yuggoth might still be waiting discovery out there, rolling along the black rim of the solar system...


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dreaming Nettle-Jelly (Red Bestiary)

I saw nothing moving, in earth or sky or sea. The green slime on the rocks alone testified that life was not extinct. A shallow sandbank had appeared in the sea and the water had receded from the beach. I fancied I saw some black object flopping about upon this bank, but it became motionless as I looked at it, and I judged that my eye had been deceived, and that the black object was merely a rock. The stars in the sky were intensely bright and seemed to me to twinkle very little.

As I stood sick and confused I saw again the moving thing upon the shoal—there was no mistake now that it was a moving thing—against the red water of the sea. It was a round thing, the size of a football perhaps, or, it may be, bigger, and tentacles trailed down from it; it seemed black against the weltering blood-red water, and it was hopping fitfully about...
The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells

Dreaming Nettle-Jellies
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (gaseous form)
Armor Class: 7 (Cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons)
Hit Dice: 1+
Attacks: 1d6
Damage: 1d6 per tentacle, + Poison (Save or suffer Paralysis for 1d4 rounds)
Save: MU 2
Morale: 4

Once they hunted shellfish and insects along the littoral zones of the blood-red seas of a distant world that was all but dead, veiled-over by the raging storms of a vast Purple Clouds that poisoned the air so that few other creatures could still breathe. The Dreaming Nettle-Jellies breathed-in the toxic vapors emitted by the Purple Clouds overhanging their seas and those that survived adapted, incorporating the poison into their stinging cells. They have followed the Purple Clouds across one world after another, dreaming their inscrutable dreams and forging subtle telepathic empires of emotionally-charged symbols and richly cultivated memory beneath ceaseless purple skies.

Their extremely pliable flesh is smoky, almost translucent, when fully extended, it takes on a deep, rich black when fully contracted. Each of their twenty-four primary tentacles is covered with thousands of stinging cells and end in long, tapering needle-like talons. They have a second set of 8-12 oral tentacles ringing their centrally-located mouths that they use only to feed themselves. These plumper, stubbier tentacles lack the talon-tips, but are covered with even more virulent stinging cells (inflict double damage, Save at -2 or suffer Paralysis for 1d4 rounds). The outer tentacles have the capability to manipulate objects, but few of them remember how to use simple tools. Instead they prefer to rely upon their stinging cells and their psychic abilities as they flit about using an innate form of limited levitation.

Nettle-Jellies are blind, but their sensory nodes are very acutely aware of vibrations, magnetism and changes in ambient light, making it very difficult to sneak-up on them, unless you move extremely fast. Hoppers intensely dislike surprises and are likely to lash out wildly with their stinging-tentacles or spells if startled, attacking everyone and everything within a 10' radius for 2d4 damage, Save at -1 or suffer Paralysis for 1d4 Turns.

 They are natural Dreamers, and rarely pay any attention to the waking worlds, preferring to leave that aspect of their existence to their instincts in a form of inspired automatism, making it very difficult to communicate with them beyond simple empathy or symbolism--they are enthusiastically emotional, but almost completely devoid of rational thought.

Nettle-Jellies progress as Magic-Users, Oneirists or Psychists, but never Clerics. They have the following innate powers: Levitate, ESP, Telepathy, and Detect Weak Point, which they can use at will. They also have a random selection of spells appropriate to their class by HD/level. Nettle-Jellies do not use spell-books, but instead culture their spells like psychic pearls within the pools of their shared dreamspace. Their spells also tend to be incredibly idiosyncratic and self-referential, and thus nearly impossible for anyone else to learn, let alone attempt to cast.

Source: These hopping invertebrate hunters along the coastal regions of distant blood-red seas were inspired by The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, with a liberally-mutated bit of Chrysaora achylos tossed in for good measure.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Black Wood-Dogs

"Like the black wood-dogs, the Bushmen often in fits of savage frenzy destroy thrice as much as they can devour, trapping deer in wickerwork hedges, or pitfalls, and cutting the miserable animals in pieces, for mere thirst of blood."

After London, by Richard Jefferies

Black Wood Dogs
No. Enc.: 2d4 (4d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1 (Bite)
Damage: 2d4+2
Save: F3
Morale: 10

Vicious, blood-thirsty beasts who delight in tearing their prey to pieces for the sheer malice of it. Black Wood Dogs are highly destructive creatures, killing everything that they can with no consideration to what they can actually eat. They have no fixed territory, but rather once they deplete an area of all game they move on to find another spot to spoil. These feral canines are so mad with blood-lust that they cannot be tamed, only destroyed. They feel no pain, are immune to all forms of Fear, and will attack anything, including the undead, whom they regard as something especially toothsome.

What sets these creatures apart from wild dogs or dire wolves is that they never sleep, never stop moving, and are always on the hunt after fresh prey.

In most cases Black Wood Dogs prefer to eat other wild dogs, coyotes, dire wolves and the like, but from time to time a particularly powerful or vicious outsider will be allowed to run with a pack and sometimes they will inter-breed, though any pups produced by such liaisons tend to get devoured or abandoned while extremely young, almost always in the Spring. Low Land Farmers prize these pups greatly, and if treated well and trained properly, they become very loyal and stalwart guard and fighting dogs who are absolutely fearless in the darkest part of winter and who won't turn tail when confronted by mobs of biters or worse.

Too bad they can't be bred in the Low Lands. They too become sterile or distorted, producing unviable deformities or worse if they come to adulthood in the Low Lands due to the lingering effects of ancient weapons. Perhaps an enterprising family or two might relocate to one of the smaller plateaus in the East where they can raise more of these dogs free from the Low Land taint.

Being practical sorts, certain others among the Low Land farmers have recently discovered that Black Wood Dogs are resistant to the effects of Black Smoke, and that their hides retain this resistance when treated with lime to make stout cloaks...

Source: After London by Robert Jefferies, with a bit of a nod to Jack London.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lesser Purple Clouds (Lurid Vapors)

"Alone that same day I began my way southward, and for five days made good progress. On the eighth day I noticed, stretched right across the south-eastern horizon, a region of purple vapour which luridly obscured the face of the sun: and day after day I saw it steadily brooding there. But what it could be I did not understand."
The Purple Cloud, by M. P. Shiel

Lesser Purple Cloud (Lurid Vapors)
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (gaseous form)
Armor Class: 7 (Cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons)
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1
Damage: 3d6 per round due to poison/suffocation
Save: F8
Morale: 11

Malevolent and malicious, Purple Clouds are toxic aerial horrors that have lain waste to entire worlds. They spread intensely poisonous gasses before them, killing-off nearly every living thing

with an insatiable, implacable malice that encompasses entire worlds.

Lesser Purple Clouds prowl the ruins of dead worlds like apocalyptic gods or hungry beasts searching for their next victim. They hold uneasy dominion over these places that they have poisoned, where once life flourished and now the Red Weeds are overgrowing everything. It seems that only vermin, fish and plants escape the gaseous wrath of the Purple Clouds.

The few reports recovered from various Dead Worlds by Foragers, Scavenger-scholars and others regarding Purple Clouds agree on only three things: 1) Whatever they are, they are purple and seem to be composed mostly of some sort of toxic vapor, possibly cyanide or something related; 2) The toxic gasses emitted by the Purple Clouds tend to stink of spoilt peaches or almonds, the scent is said to be unmistakable and one should seek to avoid it at all costs; 3) They appear to be actively hostile and possibly sentient in some bizarre fashion, leading some scholars into much pointless conjecture as to how this might be possible.

Source: These Purple Clouds are inspired by M.P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud which is another Last Man on Earth type of post-apocalyptic novel that takes place after a vast Purple Cloud wipes out most of the world's population. The Purple Cloud of the novel originated underground, having been released into the atmosphere by way of a volcanic out-gassing event. The protagonist survives the poisoning of the world due to his having gone to the North Pole. upon returning as the sole survivor of his expedition, he finds everyone else dead, before going off the deep end and burning down most of the world's cities, primarily because he's bored and silly. It is possible that he was driven mad due to all the potted meat he'd been eating, but really, he's a selfish, amoral and unlikable asshat even before heading off to the Arctic, so maybe he was always a bit tetched. Oh and later on he discovers another survivor, a young woman, and that sets off pseudo-Biblical delusions of re-populating the world with his and her descendants. The only thing I personally liked about the novel was the Purple Cloud itself...

You can find a copy of The Purple Cloud via Project Gutenberg, if you're interested, or you might like to try to listen to the audiobook version via LibriVox.

White Beast (Red Bestiary)

"We perceived something white lying on the ground, but could not immediately make out what it was. At length we saw that it was the carcass of the strange animal with the scarlet teeth and claws which the schooner had picked up at sea on the eighteenth of January. Captain Guy had had the body preserved for the purpose of stuffing the skin and taking it to England. I remember he had given some directions about it just before our making the island, and it had been brought into the cabin and stowed away in one of the lockers. It had now been thrown on shore by the explosion; but why it had occasioned so much concern among the savages was more than we could comprehend. Although they crowded around the carcass at a little distance, none of them seemed willing to approach it closely. By-and-by the men with the stakes drove them in a circle around it, and, no sooner was this arrangement completed, than the whole of the vast assemblage rushed into the interior of the island, with loud screams of Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, by Edgar Allen Poe

White Beast
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 6+
Attacks: 2 or 1
Damage: 1d6/1d6 (Claws) or 2d4 (Bite)
Save: F6
Morale: 11

Special: White Beasts Move Silently (75%), and Hide (80%) within arctic or boreal environments, irrespective of shadows. They also gain a +2 bonus to hit if they manage to attack with surprise. They are consummate ambushers. They are also highly resistant, if not immune to most poisons.

Red in tooth and claw, the great white beasts roam far and wide across the frozen wastes surrounding the polar regions of many worlds that are officially listed as 'dead.' These creatures endure tremendous hardship, persist in the face of incredibly daunting prospects, and abide within the barren wilderness. Predators and scavengers, they present a formidable challenge to any who would attempt to cross over into their fiercely defended territories and hunting grounds. They feed upon fish, crabs and other sea life, as well as anything they can run down and kill on the ice such as various types of penguins and/or adventurers wandering about lost after blizzards and the like. Confirmed man-eaters, these things appear to prefer man-flesh to any other sort of meat and will go to incredible lengths to get past any and all defensive measures to dine upon human flesh.

These beasts appear to have survived upon worlds devastated and depopulated by the Purple Clouds. Some scholars believe that the White Beasts may be somehow immune or resistant to the toxins produced by the Purple Clouds, making them invaluable as subjects for study and evaluation by means of dissection and so forth. Of course no one takes seriously the crack-pot theories and half-baked claims that these things are in any way related to the Gnoph-Beasts, any more than they are some kind of aberrant ursine or degenerate 'polar ape' such as the Nickel Dreadfuls do so love to go on and on about despite any definitive proof or evidence of their existence. The samples taken from carcasses brought back by the Parzguin Expedition into the brightest heart of the Glowfield were supposed to have conclusively proven that these beasts are indeed a unique species unto themselves, but most of their samples were lost in a fire that gutted their laboratory and warehouse, so the question remains open and myriad unproven theories abound.