Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 107

Previously...
Thanks to Lemuel attending to the swarm of Varn-spiders, Bujilli, Leeja and the rest of their group were on their way upward to the roof-tops in the hope that the Synchronocitor could take them elsewhere. They were making pretty good progress until they ran into an ambush by a band of degenerates...
A set of stairs led down three flights to a large hallway. Blue-green mold smothered the corners and formed a foul canopy overhead. Dark liquid--it wasn't water--dribbled down the left wall, forming a long-running rivulet of oily nastiness that seeped sluggishly down the stairs.

"We can't stay here." Hissed the Eloi roof-runner. Their eyes were wide with fear. Blood leaked from a shallow wound along their left upper arm.

"What did you see?"

"Dozens of them. There's dozens of them. I only barely escaped." They were shaking badly, but clutched Leeja's knife tightly.

"Them? Who are we talking about?" Bujilli drew out his hand-axe.

"Yes. Who is out there? Perhaps we should introduce ourselves since we're clearly trespassing on their territory--"

"Sure. Why don't you go parley with them while we wait right here." Leeja suggested sweetly.

For a moment, a brief moment, the Ignoble appeared to weigh her words as though seriously considering it.

"There's nothing to discuss with them. Not unless you'd care to give them some suggestions on how best to cook your flesh. Even then I doubt they'd listen; they prefer to hear their victims scream as they torture them to death."

"Scheiss. There are dozens of them you say. And they are after you?"

"Yes."

"Then we best get going."

Everyone nodded except Hedrard. She seemed lost in thought. Distracted.

They were half-way down the stairs when the tribe of degenerates trailing the Roof-runner caught-up with them. A well-aimed javelin punctured the Ignoble's left arm, knocking them down onto their knees on the dusty floor where they began to scream hysterically.

Leeja drew out the javelin while using her Web spell to close-up the Ignoble's wound. She had an idea to extend the web to clamp-shut their mouth, but opted to let it go. This time.

Bujilli trotted back to the stairs. They were narrow and only one or two of the degenerates could come at them at a time by that route. He used Hold Person on the first degenerate to show their teeth as they clambered down the stairs. Three of their fellows piled into them, grunting, squealing and yowling in consternation at being thwarted in their bloodlust.

He prepared himself for the butchery before him.

Hedrard stopped him, her claw-like hand on his shoulder. He turned to face the hag.

"Killing isn't the only option, nor is it necessarily the best one in this situation."

"What do you suggest?"

"Look at them. Not much better than Morlocks." She took the javelin from Leeja and handed it to Bujilli; "Look at their handiwork. These are not beasts, not entirely, not completely. They are still at least partially human."

The javelin was cunningly fashioned from a length of thick vine that had been boiled or steamed and shaped, sanded and carved into a flexible, yet durable shaft. Flaked stone, some sort of greenish flint or chert formed the pointy-bit. It was primitive, certainly, but well-made, obviously the product of a master crafter.

"So they have not descended entirely into mindless savagery. What of it you old bitch?" The Ignoble backed away from the group, away from the stairs and the squalling, babbling degenerates wrestling their way out of the pile-up.

Hedrard walked over to the entrance to the stairway. The degenerates jammed in the passage went silent at her approach. Each one had several elaborately carved combs worked into their filthy hair and wore all manner of crude jewelry and adornments hand-crafted from bone, hide, braided hair, and cast-off bits of stone or metal. All of it cunningly wrought and covered with ornate inscriptions.

"Grosk."

The hunters resumed their struggle to extricate themselves from each other's limbs, but it was no good. It was too late. They were trapped and they knew it. Wide-eyed and running with sweat, the hunters stopped struggling and waited their deaths stoically.

Hedrard brushed aside Bujilli's spell and reached deep inside the guts of the hunter that had served as an impromptu barricade. Blood trickled down the front of their legs, but they made no sound, just stood there and let the hag do whatever she was doing.

The Ignoble ran away screaming. Leeja made to chase after them but Bujilli shook his head. They'd either catch up with the Ignoble later, or not.

"As I thought." Hedrard withdrew her hands from the degenerate hunter's bowels. The gaping wounds closed almost immediately.

She began to hum a strange little tune as she moved in among the quivering, glistening bodies of the hunters piled-up in the stairwell. Patiently, delicately, precisely, she plunged her claw-like hands deep inside the guts of one after another until finally she managed to work her way through six of the hunters before the ones that had not gotten themselves entangled in the stairwell ventured to see what was happening to their fellows.

"Shood bal."

Six hunters got to their feet and took up a defensive stance, shielding Hedrard from the rest of the tribe.

"What are you doing?" Bujilli asked softly, hoping he wouldn't be interrupting anything delicate.

"These people have fallen into their present degenerate state because they thought that they lacked any other viable options. I intend to make a trade with them; I can give them a fresh start towards a new life in return for their help getting us to the rooftops, or wherever else you want to go in this place."

"But how?"

"First I made it impossible for these six volunteers to consume human flesh without suffering terrible, painful consequences. I also took the liberty of making a few adjustments in their flesh and blood, as well as the things dwelling in their guts. They'll suffer an intense bout of fever, that's unavoidable, but in the end, those that survive the process will be better, much better for the experience."

"You...changed them..." Leeja's voice took on a husky quality as she tried to sort out what had just happened from what she thought she knew about the hag standing before her.

"Yes. I did. Just like how Bujilli altered Sharisse. How you changed Lemuel before that." Hedrard looked deep into Bujilli's eyes. Past the pain and the doubt there was something powerful, primordial, profoundly unsettling in the old woman's eyes, in her very soul.

"But..." Bujilli looked away, stared down at the floor. He wasn't sure if he should feel shame, blame or something else. He drove out the werms infesting Sharisse, gave her back her life and made sure the wermic host could not reclaim her ever again. He had even made it so that she would never starve again, eliminating her primary excuse for allowing the werms to take her over in the first place. He thought it had been a good thing to do. The right thing. He had tried to save Lemuel only to leave the boy in the form of something monstrous. He had tried to do what he thought was right. But who was he to do such things?

"I have held back, focused on the beasts of the menageries and rehabilitating the abominations and hybrids developed and bred for use in the old arenas, becoming something of a glorified veterinarian, much as Gnosiomandus once accused me when we still argued about such things. When we were both much younger, much more foolish and idealistic. Back when we still believed in the work we were doing, each of us trying to do what good we might, in our own way. Before it all went to hell and we withdrew behind our walls and tried to ignore it."

"What do we do now?" Leeja asked.

"We go meet the leader or leaders of this tribe and I make them a deal they cannot refuse. Then they help us to get where we are going. After that...nature will have its way, run its course."

"You ... you are all monsters ... monsters!" The Eloi Roof-runner backed away, then turned and fled down the corridor, each step obliterating the footsteps left behind by the Ignoble before them.

Bujilli watched the panicked Eloi flee into the darkness. He regretted how things had turned out. He wished he had been able to help them, save them...but then he thought of Sharisse and Lemuel and the others he had tried to help...

"Let's go." He was not going to stand around in the dust and gloom and torment himself with regrets. He did what he could, as best he could, and that was either good enough or it wasn't. He wasn't some kind of god or omniscient being. He made mistakes. Lots of them. That was how to learn things, what drove him to learn more, to be able to make better decisions, to do better.

Leeja took his hand in hers and they followed Hedrard as she directed her entourage back up the stairs. The rest of the hunting party were taken aback at the way the others had changed. Fear sprung up like a forest fire among them and they fled before the six of their band who now served a hag.

Two flights up they followed the six hunters. A domed chamber covered with a mosaic of lapis lazuli depicting a starry night with constellations set out in gold, an orrery hung broken overhead in a tangle of cables, rods and chains over the central pit where the tribe made it's nest-lair.

A tall, thin man with scores of tiny golden tubes woven into his lion's mane of filthy gray hair stood atop a rough platform of scavenged brick and sheet-metal glaring at them as thy made their way down the gently inclined ramp through the bleachers and benches where the tribe-members slept or busied themselves carving fresh javelins, working at fashioning elaborate hair-combs or other adornments. Children played obscure games out of the way from the adults.

"Grosk." Hedrard croaked. At her gesture the six hunters took up positions on either side of her.

"Ulla ulla ulla! Obresk. Kitur. ULL-vosig-yusk-golm. Bastif!"

"Morons. These people are descended from Morons, an off-shoot of the Eloi." Hedrard informed Bujilli and Leeja before stalking right up to the leader of the tribe and staring down at him. He glared at her. They stood there for seconds before he blinked, whimpered, quickly looked away. He tried desperately to withdraw back to his private lean-to before anyone could see that he had wet himself. Children began to mock him with sing-song taunts. The adults took-up javelins and seemed poised on the brink of either laughter or some sort of war-cry.

"Morons?"

"People who have an extraordinary capacity to believe nearly anything, the ability to serve nearly any cause, follow any order without qualm or reservation. They respond to authority, any recognizable authority, and lack the capacity to question anything. They are like the Eloi, only they lack empathy and obey a deep-rooted form of logic. They are incredibly well coordinated and are quite a sight to behold when they march beneath their banners." Hedrard seemed to be looking far away, reviewing bitter-sweet memories from long ago.

"Slaves then."

"No. These are people who voluntarily subjugated themselves long, long ago. Their ancestors were intuitive conformists; they are consummate followers, aiders and abettors of tyrants and demogogues; the product of hundreds of generations of true believers."

"They appear to be getting restless.."

Hedrard raised her left hand. A lurid red glow slithered outwards into the murky, smoky air like a mass of writhing vaporous blood-red tendrils.

"Neusk!"

The red-light tendrils spread rapidly in every direction twisting around and between everything and everyone within the tribe-nest except for Hedrard, her two companions and the six feverish hunters at her side. She brought down her hand sharply. The shimmering red light congealed into delicate scarlet traceries that writhed and squirmed and began to take root.

"Red Weeds!" accused Leeja.

"Yes." Hedrard watched as the Red Weeds infiltrated the stones of this place and sent out feelers and feeding threads that extended through every reachable nook, cranny and crevice until they found the necessary materials needed to grow and thrive in this place.

"But why?" Bujilli couldn't believe what he was seeing. The Red Weeds were settling into place as if they'd always been there. Children were climbing the thicker stalks or chasing errant runners with sticks, each time they whacked the vine-tips they changed direction which amused the girls and boys immensely. The adults were far more nervous, much less trusting of this radical new change in their nest-site.

Hedrard lifted a plump red fruit from a vine that swirled up to meet her hand. She tossed it to Bujilli.

"Now they have something to eat besides each other. If they are clever, they can learn to work with the leaves, the shoots, the various other parts of the Red Weeds and clothe themselves, make tools, whatever they need. But they will still have a taste for meat, so..."

She reached up toward the opening in the dome overhead where the broken orrery hung and began to whistle shrilly.

After a few minutes of her whistling a fluttering noise began to echo through the shaft overhead.

A pigeon perched on her hand.

She wrung its neck. Split it open and butchered it for cooking, then handed it over to one of the six hunters who took it over to a cooking fire built atop a raised stone block.

The thigh bones were quickly, expertly converted into crude whistles that she then handed off to another pair of her entourage.

They blew the whistles. One after another pigeon fluttered down through the shaft to perch momentarily on their outstretched hand. The remaining two hunters took the pigeons, wrung their necks and prepared them for cooking.

One by one a few of the bolder, or hungrier, members of the tribe approached the cooking fire. The cooks passed out skewers of roast fowl. Others rushed up to claim their share. Still others began to sample the different varieties of red berries, melons and fruits bulging into place around the nest wherever the Red Weeds found a suitable cache of nutrients.

"So now we have a way up." Leeja watched as more pigeons descended from above.

"Yes. We do. Shall we get going before one or another of the old leaders' rivals decides to start making speeches?"


What should Bujilli, Leeja and Hedrard do next?

You Decide!


Now What?
The way upward and outward seems to be clear...if they can figure out a way to get get through the overhead shaft. So should they try to make use of the overhead shaft, or look for another, easier way up and out of this place? Or should they stick around a while and find out what they can learn from these people and maybe see if they have any knowledge of alternate routes to the roof-tops?

As always, if you have any questions or want to vote for a particular course of action 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!

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Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Varn-Spiders

Varn-Spider
No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')
     In Web: 160' (120')
     In Shadow: 120' (90')
Armor Class: 6/13
Hit Dice: 5+
Attacks: 1d2 Stabbing-Claws+Bite
Damage: 1d6 per claw
       3d4+Poison (Bite)
Save: T5
Morale: 8
     (11 if Handler is present)

Special: Varn-Spiders can climb shadows as though they were webs at slightly decreased speed. 

Electrical/Galvanic attacks heal damage similar to Flesh Golems.

Upon reaching zero hit-points Varn-Spiders rise as undead husks (equal to zombies) within 1d4 hours, unless completely dismembered.

If destroyed by fire, Varn-Spiders fall to ashes that reform into a swarm of 1d100 tiny 1hp spiders within 1d4 days.

Varn-Spiders are huge and aggressive arachnids bred to serve as hunting beasts by secluded enclaves of vampires who survived the purges in Wermspittle. Their bite attack drains blood, swelling their abdominal section until it begins to drag (upon draining 5 or more HD worth of blood, they move at half normal speed). Their masters then drain the spiders upon their return to the enclave.

Index: Six Things

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lemuel [Episode 106.5]

“Do you know who I am boy?”

“Yessir.”

“Say it. I want to hear it.”

“You sir are General Octravius Culver. Hero of the Battle of the Greensward and Liberator of the three Greenhells--”

“Edens! They were Green-Edens when we took them over. It was only after betrayal and malfeasance that they descended into hellishness. I conquered Eden itself three times over only to see it corrupted, poisoned, turned against me by my enemies.” The old man slumped back onto his rough bed, palsied hands wiped away the memory of sweat and mud and blood. Green thread-like tendrils curled and coiled just beneath his waxy skin, a lingering reminder of how wrong things went so long ago and far away.

Lemuel knew that if he could see the green-marks there was too much light in the room so he turned down the alcohol lamp. The General could not tolerate bright light. It made the green-things under his skin twitch and writhe with life. The green-things tormented the general and anything that caused him displeasure or discomfort caused him to torment Lemuel. He belonged to the old general. No one else wanted him.

“Bah. You're a worthless little shit, like all these ignorant peasants.”

“Yessir.”

The old man glared at him for a long time. Lemuel needed to pee really bad. But the General was in one of his moods again. A bad one. He clamped his legs together and waited it out.

“I've been good to you boy. When no one would take you in, I gave you a place, fed you, clothed you, taught you how to be a man and a soldier. I beat the weakness from your flesh and scourged the fear from your mind. Preparing you for your holy mission.”

“Yessir. Thank you sir.”

“You're of an age now. It is time for you to leave for Wermspittle. Before...you become twisted and ruined like some of your kin. But before you go I wish to give you something. Here. Hold out your hands.”

A knife. No. Not just any knife. The one Grandfather, the General, made his name with all those years ago. It was heavier than it looked.

“I pass on my knife to you so that you will avenge me boy. That is your only purpose in this life, you holy mission. You will avenge me!”

“Yessir.” The knife turned in his hands. The well-worn handle slid into place.

The old man sat there staring at him. His bed reeked of hatred.

The knife struck three times before he could stop it.

He ran from the room.

He took nothing with him.

Except for the knife.

His Grandfather's knife.



Hedrard stretched her shoulders with a series of bony clicks. She stood taller, straighter now. Frailty fell away from her like chaff from wheat in a mill. An old cold light twinkled in her eyes; it was not a pleasant thing to behold by any means. Lemuel had some idea of what she intended to do. What she could do. He knew of her power first-hand.

Spiders. Huge, wicked things that served vampires. A swarm of them was approaching. Lemuel looked at each of his companions. Bujilli was tired. Leeja had suffered a draining attack that left her weakened. Hedrard was still struggling to free herself of the after-effects of the spells the Purple-eyes had used on them both. The other two were useless. Well, the roof-runner might manage to do something with the knife they'd given them...but he didn't want to bet on it...especially not with their lives.

"Get everyone moving. I'll buy us some time. Just let me know which way you're going--up or down--and I'll follow as soon as I am able."

Bujilli looked into Hedrard's eyes. A mistake. Lemuel knew that as well.

"Up. We'll look for a way to get back to the roof-tops and take our chances with the Synchronocitor. It got us here in the first place, I'm hoping it can get us out of here once it has recharged."

"Go then. I'll--"

Lemuel rushed past them both. The make-shift barrier collapsed as he pushed his way through it.

"Scheiss!" Hedrard made to follow then stopped herself. Lemuel looked into her eyes. She knew then that he was no longer her problem or property and never would be again. She smiled ever so slightly, then he turned back to the business at hand and drew his Grandfather's knife.


"Hand me the knife." Hedrard demanded.

Lemuel refused. He tried to shake his head. It sloshed and jiggled wetly making him dizzy.

"It is a hateful thing. One that will only bring you pain and sorrow. Give it to me, if only for safe-keeping..."

"No." He struggled to get the word out--it felt like his mouth was filled with thick, sweet honey, like he was drowning in the stuff, but he could breath just fine. It was disorienting.

The hag glared at him hotly. Few dared to refuse her. But this boy, this low-land orphan defied her. Perhaps there was hope for him yet.

She had already examined the knife while the boy was recovering from his drastic transformation. Bujilli had only barely managed to save what he could of the boy. The effort had nearly claimed them both...now they would be inextricably bound to one another.

"Have it your way then. But I will not have that knife in my work-space any longer than is absolutely necessary. Once you are stable enough to leave, you'll take it with you."

"Where?"

"Where will you go? I've spoken with Zirl. Shiidri will take you to him when you are ready."


They said there was maybe six of the spiders out there. They were wrong. There were twelve of the things. The spiders were not afraid of the boy rushing to meet them. Lemuel smiled; they would learn to fear him soon enough. He had hunted river-spiders and the noose-weavers that infested the forests near his people's enclave. These things were bigger, but they were only spiders and he knew how to kill spiders, even really big ones.

THUNK!

Lemuel skidded to an abrupt stop. A single black spike of gleaming chitin jutted suddenly from out of his chest. One of the Varn-spiders had caught him from above, impaled him on its blade-like claw. He twisted about, tearing his wermhide sheath in the process, and hacked through the flexible joint of the limb. Three cuts and he was free of the thing. He drew out the spider-leg and cast it aside. Another spider sensing an opportunity rushed in to bite him. He stabbed it in one of its larger eyes. It shrieked and recoiled from him.

The rest of the spiders moved-in to surrounded him. Good. That would make this easier.

The knife flashed hatefully in the blue-tinted gloom as Lemuel charged the nearest spider.


“So you are Lemuel then? Of course you are. No one else would stand there dithering in the darkness like that. Come in boy. I've been expecting you. Hedrard has told me quite a bit about you.”

It took him a bit of effort to reform a working tongue. Speaking wasn't easy for Lemuel. It took concentration. But it was getting easier as he relearned how to do it. “I um Lemuel. Sh—She sent me. You.”

“Yes, yes, I know. You've been through a terrible ordeal. Hedrard told me. You need not explain; I am very familiar with the ravages of White Powder and all its derivatives, including Hard Candy. You are very lucky young man; most people in your situation wouldn't be walking about let alone trying to re-learn how to speak. No. Most of them would be reduced to oily black puddles of corruption after the Vile Transformation. But not you. Somehow you survived the process, were dragged out of it by the intervention of this Bujilli person. It remains to be seen if they've done you any kind of favor by doing so, but where there is life, there is hope.”

“Hope?” It was not a word he'd ever heard before. He wasn't sure what it meant.

“Of course. Otherwise Hedrard would have ended you when she had the chance. Instead she sent you to me.”

“You?”

“I am Zirl, Keeper and Curator of Atrocities. Hedrard has asked me to consider becoming your mentor here at the Academy.”

“Will you?”

“A good question. I am uncertain. There isn't a lot to work with in your current condition--”

“Monster. I monster...” Lemuel held out his hands, turned them over and back again, tracing the stitches in the wermhide that formed his new skin. His translucent flesh glistened wetly through gaps in the hide where his movements had loosened the seams. He was mostly gelatinous now; a shapeless, formless thing that only had a manshape because of Hedrard's hard work and clever stitchery.

“What do you know of monsters boy?” Zirl shook his head; “You are not a monster because of your recent physical transformation. You are not even a monster because of your upbringing. Yet.”

“Not Monster?"

"Not hardly. The one who gave you that knife was a true monster, but you already knew that, didn't you?"


Another spider-limb flew over his left shoulder. He brought his elbows back into the other one's eyes, rupturing them into a wet greenish mess. They'd given up biting him after the sixth time. He'd twisted off the front half of the last one's face or whatever you called their front-parts as it tried to withdraw its fangs. The poison coursed through his flesh, mingling with his fluids and becoming a part of him. It felt good. Warm. Comfortable. It made the Baby Teeth Hedrard had set into his jaw ache with the need to bite back...so he lunged toward a spider, clambered on top and sunk his teeth into it right behind its cluster of eyes. It tasted salty.

CHAK! A spider knocked him to the floor. They knew better than to try to impale him again.

Three more spiders swarmed over him. Biting, stabbing, rending, doing everything they could to hurt him, to kill him.

He snapped a spider's leg. Punched another in the fangs. Stabbed the third one in its belly and dragged the knife back out through its face in a spluttering gush of innards and fluids.


"She wanted you to surrender the knife, didn't she?"

"Yes. Won't."

"It's bonded to you. Strongly. Culver had a gift for such things."

"You Knew ... gr ... grandfath--"

"Octravius Culver was many tings, but he was not your Grandfather. Not by blood. That would be impossible. His parents had kept him down on their farmstead well past the point when all children need to leave. He was rendered sterile. The other...deformities...were not obvious ones, so he managed to pass as nearly normal, most of the time."

"No. General was my..."

"General? Culver was a corporal when he deserted his unit during the Greensward fiasco. He managed to keep a very thorough journal and to make very detailed maps of his route through one of the Greenhells and tried to barter those for a position on the faculty. It wasn't until later that we discovered that he had been copying from the work of a Pruztian Military Cartography unit that had been wiped-out by disease, poison or something else. He was summarily exiled and went back to the Low-Land swamps. To your people. He probably bought you from your relatives."

Lemuel sank back into himself. He had been bought by his...by Culver...but he had thought that was the way it was done. What else was there to do with an orphan? The Mills had been bombed into rubble. The Labs were burned-out shells. The mines were flooded or filled with poison gasses. There wasn't much point in investing too many resources in a kid who would either run off in the Spring or turn into some sort of freak if they stayed too long past the onset of puberty.

"The knife is a Pruztian General's ceremonial dress dagger. The blade is forged from meteoric iron and it is heavily imprinted with Culver's hatred and insane lust for revenge. You can keep the thing, if you choose to do so; just be aware that it is a toxic influence on you and that it will continually try to subvert your will. I suspect that Culver did a great deal more than just hand you this knife. He raised you, didn't he?"

"Gave roof. Food. Clothes. Beat weakness out."

"You were trained to be a weapon, not a human being. That my boy is the work of a monster."


Twelve spiders, each larger than a pregnant cow, wriggled and writhed in a gore-splattered heap at Lemuel's feet. He'd hacked-off the legs of the ones he hadn't had a chance to kill yet. He walked from one to the other of the dismembered things and used the knife...Culver's hateful knife...to end each spider.

When he was finished, Lemuel surveyed his handiwork and felt conflicted. It had been a glorious fight, if a bit one-sided. The spiders couldn't really hurt him; not with poison, or fangs, or stabby-claws. He reveled in the languid, lingering heat of the spider-venom flowing through his body. It felt good. More than good. He looked down on the ruptured chitinous thorax of a spider, examined the contours of the exposed organs and tissues. There was something beautiful in it that he had never been able to see before. He felt as if his eyes were opening for the first time. It felt good. He reached down into the remains of the spider and pulled forth a dripping gobbet of flesh and swallowed it. The taste was like nothing he had ever experienced before. He took another piece. And another.


"If you would be more than a cat's paw for some sick-sad-dead failure with delusions of being a war criminal, I may have a job for you...if you are interested."

Lemuel stared at Zirl. He knew the man was being truthful--he could taste it in the air, see it in the overlapping swaths of color that shimmered around him. His body had been drastically reorganized, something to which he was becoming adjusted, but now his past, his sense of history, his sense of self were having to adjust as well, and it left him feeling disoriented, vulnerable, and very much alone.

But he wasn't alone. Deep down he could feel the glowing golden kernel of something that Bujilli had left behind. A gift. It was supposed to reside inside his bones, like it did inside Bujilli, so he made sure that he had at least a few bones, especially a jaw, so he could anchor his tongue and talk better.


Lemuel gulped down the last of the sweet meat from his seventh spider-leg. It wasn't quite the same as bog-crab, but it was pretty good, once he got past the saltiness. He could feel his body breaking-down the spider-flesh, some portion of him studying the stuff, learning from it, incorporating it into his own flesh. His body was learning the spider's tricks. Already smooth chitinous plates were growing over the wrecked parts of his wermhide skin-sheath. He wanted to free himself of the truss that Hedrard had fitted him with, but he was not ready to do that just yet. He needed to learn more things, and not just spider-things. He smiled then tore off some shreds of wermhide and swallowed them as well. His body could learn the secrets of the werm-things to reshape and rebuild the hide sheathing his gellid form.

He looked at the knife in his hand. It radiated black, inky strands of festering hatred that coiled and curled like fetid smoke. Spider-flesh sizzled along the blade. It reeked like an old man's twisted ambitions and dead dreams. It made him sick. Then he realized that it was literally making him sick. The longer he held on to it, the more twisted and deranged he would become. He looked at the knife again. It wasn't his. It never was his, never would be. There was no reason to keep carrying it around.

Lemuel left the old man's knife stuck in the brain of the largest spider. It didn't stop calling to him until he was more than a mile away on his way down into the depths of the Gormenstille. The others wanted to leave this place, and he appreciated that, understood it, but he had a job to do. Besides, he felt like a kid in a candy store...



On a Mission for Zirl...
Lemuel is descending into the depths of the Gormenstille in order to carry out some errand on behalf of his mentor Zirl. But what sort of business would the Keeper and Curator of Atrocities have within this place? Lemuel's adventure is only beginning...



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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 106

Previously...
Bujilli, Leeja and the rest of their group knew they could no longer stay where they were. They needed to get moving. They could either go down into the depths in search of unknown secrets or upward to the roof-tops in the hope that the Synchronocitor could take them elsewhere. But which way would they choose?

SSSCCRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTCCCCCCCHHHHHHH!

Something moved in the darkness beyond the make-shift barrier. Back towards the spot where they had left the fungus-riddled corpse of the custodian.

Bujilli slipped out through a gap in the stacked and piled debris they had tried to use to make this spot more defensible. He padded along as quietly as he could. Six steps past the jumbled bricks and beams he spotted the distinctive glimmer of freshly-expelled fungal spores.

Pale blue light swirled where things disturbed the otherwise placid cloud of faintly luminous spores. Some of the spores stuck to the chitinous carapaces of the things that were approaching from the direction of Bannerworth's enclave. Spiders. He counted six of the things as they passed through the flickering blue miasma exuded by the rapidly growing fungi. Dripping filaments formed dozens of sticky curtains that were increasingly tangled-up in the limbs of the approaching spiders.

Bujilli returned to the group. Leeja was scowling meaningfully at the Ignoble. Hedrard was staring at the space beyond their pitiful defenses as if she could sense the spiders out there. For all he knew, she could see them, somehow. He didn't really know all that much about the old hag, but he was glad to have her on his side.

"We need to get going--"

"How many did you see?" Hedrard stretched her shoulders with a series of bony clicks. She stood taller, straighter now. Frailty fell away from her like chaff from wheat in a mill. An old cold light twinkled in her eyes; it was not a pleasant thing to behold by any means.

"At least six. Very likely more than that."

"Six what? What's out there?" Demanded the Ignoble.

"Spiders. Very big spiders." Bigger than any he'd ever seen before. But he didn't feel it was prudent to elaborate any further.

"But spiders are quiet..."

"They're moving through the fungi growing in the passage. That seems to be slowing them down."

"We need to delay them. Otherwise they will simply run us down and you do not want to be taken prisoner by these things." Hedrard flexed her bony fingers, her nails looked longer, almost like Leejas' talons.

"I'm open to suggestions." Bujilli looked at Lemuel, Leeja, the Eloi and the Ignoble and back to Hedrard.

"I can cast Web..." Leeja offered.

"No. The passage is too wide, too high; they'll go around it." Bujilli knew she could extend the reach and the range of that spell, but it would cost her more energy than she could spare right now. She was still recovering from the draining attack of the Irrlicht.

"Get everyone moving. I'll buy us some time. Just let me know which way you're going--up or down--and I'll follow as soon as I am able."

Bujilli looked into her eyes. All argument evaporated instantly.

"Up. We'll look for a way to get back to the roof-tops and take our chances with the Synchronocitor. It got us here in the first place, I'm hoping it can get us out of here once it has recharged."

"Go then. I'll--"

Lemuel rushed past them both. The make-shift barrier collapsed as he pushed his way through it.

"Scheiss!" Hedrard made to follow then stopped herself; "Let's go. Lemuel thinks he can handle these spiders and he knows which way to go to catch up to us."

"Do we just leave him--"

"He made his choice. Let's not waste the young man's gallantry. It has been a long, long time since another young man put himself in harm's way on my account. I'd rather we made the most of it. So let's get going. He'll find us after he's dealt with these spiders."

"How? How will he find us?" screeched the Ignoble in a tone that was both accusatory and insulting at the same time.

"We share a bond of sorts. He'll be able to find us." If he survives. If he doesn't run into worse things trying to catch up to us. Bujilli didn't like leaving anyone behind, but this time the decision was made and they needed to make the best of it. "Let's go."

Leeja nodded. The Eloi Roof-runner went ahead of the group, one of Leeja's daggers held at the ready in their left hand.

Bujilli and Hedrard flanked the Ignoble and prodded the reluctant ex-prisoner along behind Leeja.

They didn't have far to go before they found a narrow stairwell that wound around the inner walls of a chimney-like shaft less than ten feet across. The door that has sealed-off this vertical passage was mostly charcoal and long since fallen into a heap.

The Ignoble screamed as they ran toward the exposed stairwell and hurled their Iron Mask down the center of the stairwell shaft.

Ka-Thunk! Klunk! klank-klank-klank-klank-klank-klank

The Iron Mask bounced from one wall to the next as it bounded and ricocheted its way down the stairs into the darkness below.

"Asshole!" Hissed Leeja. Her short sword poised to take the Ignoble's head.

"Like you said; 'we are in this together.' I just made sure you wouldn't feel quite so tempted to go down there looking for who knows what. You apparently have a means of escaping this place. I mean to make sure I get out of here. It's as simple as that."

"We don't know what's down there--"

"Wrong. I know. Guards and scavengers. If one of the scavengers finds my Iron Mask, they'll think that it was removed by one of the free-tribes or corridor-clans and tossed aside as a warning that this territory is now claimed." The Ignoble looked quite smug, obviously very pleased with their supposed cleverness.

"I'm not sure I buy your explanation, but there's nothing to be done for it now, so let's get going." Leeja slowly, reluctantly lowered her blade.

"Stop!" The Roof-runner came back down the stairs in a hurry.

"What did you--"

"Run! We can't go this way. They're not far behind me."

"Who--"

"We can discuss things later. Now might be a good time to use your spell, Leeja." Bujilli shoved the Ignoble forwards. Hedrard made sure they kept going with an occasional poke in the ribs with her talon-like nails.

Leeja cast her Web spell, making sure to seal-off the upper passage-way as quickly as she could before running to catch up to the others.

They followed the corridor that curved past the stairwell until it crossed another passage. The Eloi went right so they all went right.

It grew darker as they went along, so Bujilli cast Gloomlight to help them all see a little better. He set the glyph formed by the spell to stay roughly ten paces in front of the Roof-runner.

Left at the next passage. Right after that. Straight through the next. Then they emerged into a round chamber thirty or forty feet in diameter. At the center of this chamber was a ramp-way that curled like a ribbon up past the ceiling and down well below the floor.

The Roof-runner paused to make sure they were all following, then off they ran, up the ramp-way.

The ramp-way made about a dozen spirals before it terminated in a domed enclosure that might once have been some sort of protected garden. Dead leaves and dried-out stalks were all that was left of whatever once flourished in this place. The still air reeked of stale beer.

Six paths led away from the ramp-way. Each one was bordered by trellises and arches of dead plants. The floor was ankle-deep or deeper in spots with dried plant-matter.

"Can you get us out of here now?" Asked the Roof-runner.

Bujilli closed his eyes to consult with his Counsel. It was sluggish in responding. There was resistance to his inquiry, as if the very walls emanated some sort of stifling effect, only it wasn't like the sort of thing he had experienced elsewhere. It felt like his brain was packed in aspic, but he was able to access the Synchronocitor still floating along at his side slightly out of phase while it recharged. They had seven hours left to go before he could attempt to activate the device once again.

"Not yet. It'll be seven hours before I can try it."

"Then we'd best keep moving." The Roof-runner held out their right hand, palm outward and turned to face one after another of the paths available to them. They chose the third one for whatever reason and headed off in that direction. Everyone followed. The Ignoble seemed about to try something, but Hedrard dissuaded them with a good poke.

The third path split to encircle a pool filled with rusted chains and manacles. They kept going.

A set of stairs led down three flights to a large hallway. They were half-way down the stairs when the tribe of degenerates who had been trailing the Roof-runner caught-up with them...

What should Bujilli and company do next?

You Decide!



Now What?
It's time to roll for Initiative: Roll 1d6 for (1) Bujilli, (2) Leeja, (3) Hedrard, (4) The Roof-Runner, (5) The Ignoble, (6) The Degenerates.

We need 3d6 rolled to determine how many tribal Degenerates we're dealing with...

Five or six D20 rolls would be appreciated so I can deal with any shots fired, javelins lobbed, etc.

We could also use another Morale check for both the Ignoble and the Eloi prisoners, (as per P. 56) by rolling 2d6 for each of them. The Eloi has base Morale of 8 and the Ignoble has a base Morale of 10. Remember--Bujilli receives no bonus/penalty from his Charisma, however Leeja does gain a -1 modifier that can be applied--lower scores are best in this situation. One or both of them might panic. If they are attacked by Varn-Spiders, they both receive a +2 modifier to their Morale Check, since they know far too well just what those horrid things will do to them, and what very likely follows close after them.

The combat between the Varn-Spiders and Lemuel was played-out using the previous die rolls and we'll find out how it was resolved, and whether or not Lemuel escaped next week.

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        [Lemuel]         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, October 15, 2014

Which Way To Go?

At the conclusion of Episode 105, Bujilli and his party must decide whether to seek out a way upwards back toward the rooftops of the Central Tower of the Gormenstille where it might be possible to use the synchronocitor to escape from this place (which remains to be seen), or find a way down into the lower levels of this place where there are several abandoned or neglected archives they might go poking about in...

Standing fast and trying to defend themselves from a swarm of Ten Varn-Spiders coming towards them from the direction of a passage leading to a vampire enclave is also an option, but no one is particularly enthusiastic about that and there is a chance that the Varn-Spiders might be hunting-beasts in the service of the vampires...

You Decide!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 105

Previously...
Their much-needed rest within the upper passages of the Gormenstille disturbed by a prowling Irrlicht, Bujilli and his companions weight the merits of sitting tight and searching-out a better hiding place while the Synchronocitor recharges. But even once the transition mechanism has recovered enough power...will it work in this place? The Gormenstille is a gargantuan prison complex that might have given Piranesi nightmares...

Bujilli slumped back on his make-shift stretcher-cot. He was still tired. He'd only managed a couple hours of sleep before having to deal with the Irrlicht that had taken-over the Eloi and almost drained Leeja to death.

They'd re-built their defenses, such as they could, but it was a shabby bit of work. It would be laughable...if it wasn't him and his friends in this situation. Vampires and pustule-bubbling fungi on one side, a vast labyrinth of twisting passages and countless empty rooms arranged by mad men and degenerates all around them. Only an idiot willingly breaks into a prison. Especially such a prison as this one.

The others referred to it as the Gormenstille. A place of secrets, hidden and denied things, troublesome things, buried things...it was as much a catacomb as a labyrinth, a prison of lost souls where even death was no release. This was no place to linger.

"How well defended or guarded are these archives?" Bujilli looked about himself, carefully examining the defenses they were able to rig-up with available materials. It wouldn't hold against an dim-witted Almas child looking for shiny-bits, let alone any of the nasty things Hedrard claimed were likely to be lurking hereabouts.

"The Central Archive is out of the question. It's one of the reasonably 'safe' places, so it's heavily protected. But there are sub-divisions and secondary, even tertiary caches, vaults, and other places filled with things that are meant to be held apart of the rest of stuff relegated to this place. We could probably gain access to one of the locked rooms, or a sealed library no one has checked in decades, possibly centuries. There are all sorts of secret chambers and shielded or warded spaces scattered throughout this entire place..."

"This is a fool's errand," scoffed the Ignoble; "You cannot seriously be contemplating wandering around the peripheral sectors of the Gormenstille looking for some random collection of illicit papers or dubious documents just to satisfy some perverse streak of curiosity!"

"I admit that I am curious about what all is secreted away in this place...but I am more interested in getting us all out of here. Sooner rather than later. Look at this place--a child would be embarrassed by such a flimsy fort. We need to find a better place if we're going to get any rest." He looked over at Leeja. She was still asleep. The Oneiric Bubble spell he had cast over her and Hedrard had faded-out. It had helped, but it wasn't enough. They had at least another 19 hours before the Synchronocitor was recharged...and then he would find out if it would operate properly inside the walls of this place. If it functioned normally they'd go onward to some other place...but if it did not work...they might be stuck here a while. He did not like their prospects in this current location. Not with vampires, insidious fungi and weirdlight-things prowling through the area.

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

"I say we sit tight and wait for whatever you expect to happen in the next however many hours to take place. Why go around stirring up more trouble or drawing attention to ourselves?"

"Coward." The roof-runner glared at the Ignoble. Two broken non-people poised on the brink of destruction at every side; it was incredible that they weren't both--

"Insane! This is thoroughly and completely mad!" The Ignoble's eyes were wide with mounting panic.

"You two might lower your voices before you wake the dead with your pointless arguing." Hedrard groaned as she sat up on her cot. "Both of you ought to know better than to waste breath arguing like that. Neither of you is complete, whatever sense of identity you have now is not at all who you once were. Whomever you might have been is irrelevant now. What lives you might have led previously do not matter now. That was all taken away from you, for whatever reasons, for whatever sins or crimes or offenses. You were rendered blank slates...and instead of making use of this opportunity, you both squandered it, wasted it, wallowing in fear and the dim distorted reflections of memories you'll never fully recover no matter how hard you try."

The Eloi and the Ignoble both stared at Hedrard. The Eloi grew thoughtful, the Ignoble balled up their fists and struggled to make words form, words that wouldn't come no matter how hard they tried. Finally their throat constricted from the strain and they choked. Coughed. Sat down with their head in their hands and cried.

"What was done to these two, and hundreds, thousands of others, was cruel and disgusting; extravagantly pointless, much like this whole place." Hedrard slowly, stiffly rose to her feet. She looked impossibly frail and ancient. Her eyes glimmered with deep red highlights. She began to gather-up her iron-gray hair and twist it into some sort of knot at her back.

Leeja stirred, awoke with a start. Her hair flared about her like a white hot corona then her green gold eyes fixed on Bujilli and she smiled.

"I thank you for releasing us from our would-be executioners up above."

"You are both welcome, all of you, actually..."

"But you were a fool to rush into such a place as this all unawares." Hedrard shook her head ruefully.

"What were you both doing in this prison?"

"We were not 'in' prison. Not exactly. We were both captives of the Purple Horde. They took us to one of the roof-top sanctuaries built by one or another of the cultists cast down into this place by whichever rivals or ecclessiastical authorities had access to a Black Key or made a deal with one of the Faceless...or the Soulless...or the Nameless..."

"But why did they bring you here?"

"They intended to sacrifice us to a Purple Cloud in a ritual they expected to give them power in this place." Hedrard looked about the room they were in. She clearly did not approve of their present accommodations.

"Them again?" Bujilli still wasn't entirely sure why the Desert Fathers of the Purple Horde had some sort of vendetta against him, but now he decided it was well past time he found out.

Leeja struggled to rise from her stretcher-cot. She was still wobbly, weak from the Irrlicht's draining attack.

"They've certainly taken an interest in you, but they're far more interested in something...or someone...locked-away within this place. They took advantage of the turmoil and chaos in Wermspittle to nab poor Lemuel and myself and bring us here. At first I thought they were only going to try to use us against the Academy, there is a long history of antagonism between them and the various schools, colleges and institutes gathered together under the banner of the Academy. Diametrically opposed forces. We are dedicated to learning, knowledge, rekindling what meager light we can in the midst of such overwhelming darkness and destruction; while they are barbarians, ignorant locusts who plunder cities left stripped of life by their masters, those aerial horrors that have killed entire worlds one after another, extinguishing all life save those few who become their slaves and servants..."

"Why haven't they overrun Wermspittle already?" Leeja sat back down.

"The Academy wasn't always a great power in its own right, not like the Medical School or the Unthedral. The Academy grew out of the old Institute for Apocalyptic Studies. They came to Wermspittle for the same reason most others shunned or avoided it--the place is surrounded by myriads of dead worlds. However anyone tried, whatever means was used, the overwhelming majority of the worlds accessible from this place were--are--dead. and not just simply devoid of life. No. They were once living worlds, populous worlds filled with living, breathing beings...before something happened, something terrible."

"The Clouds? Did they kill everyone off?"

"No. The Purple Clouds were all but unknown up to three hundred years ago. They were considered works of fiction. Then one all but killed off the Fourth World, the Adjacent World accessed from the South East Gate of the Inner Ramparts. We drove off the Purple Cloud, or at least we thought we had. The Privy Council and the rest hid behind propaganda and political wrangling, as always. Vigilance waned, budgets were cut, the old horrors were forgotten in the face of fresh terrors, immediate concerns and the ongoing mess we've made of the place...and in the meantime the Clouds have returned to Wermspittle..."

Bujilli remembered the Smog Shelter he and Leeja had taken refuge in, the Leech-monger who had saved her life even if he had stolen her tainted blood doing it.*

"How? How could it get like--"

"We can debate that until the vampires round us up like cattle. Or we can discuss things when we're somewhere more defensible, more survivable."

"These two have been telling us about the Archives--"

"The Central Archives are heavily defended..."

"Yes. So they've said; but there are less well defended secondary sites that we might be able to use--"

"Fine. Do you have a better suggestion? Any alternative?"

"No."

"Then we ought to get moving before whatever lurks or prowls through this section notices us, or the scouts from below catch our scent. I have no interest in being taken by Bannerworth and his Comprachico friends, not to mention the fungal colony you left behind us in the Calotte-Passage."**

"Do either of you know which way to go?" Leeja got back on her feet.

"Certainly not." Huffed the Ignoble as though offended at the very thought.

"I have an idea, if you're willing to try something unorthodox..."

"We're listening."

"We go back upstairs--"

"Absolutely not!" The Ignoble dropped their Iron Mask and slumped against the wall in terror.

"Up? Why?"

"Your mechanism-thing brought you here at that spot. We don't know if it will work deep inside the walls of the Gormenstille...this being the kind of place that it is, I'm nervous about testing the defenses when we don't need to do that. We go up, not all the way back to the specific place where you let us go necessarily, maybe we can find another spot similar to that one, someplace less likely to be watched over by cultists or whatever."

"Makes sense to me." Leeja sighed, already exhausted from the thought of retracing their steps back up to the rooftop.

"Well young man? Do we look for a way up or down? Unless you have a third option?"

SSSCCRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTCCCCCCCHHHHHHH!

Something wicked was approaching from the direction of the passage leading to Bannerworth's clandestine enclave...


What should Bujilli and company do next?

You Decide!


* Bujilli & Leeja took refuge in a Smog Shelter in Episode 95 where they met the Leech-Monger who did save Leeja's life, even if he did steal the tainted blood for so-far unknown reasons...
** The Custodian turned out to be an infested-minion of some sort of fungus-creature, possibly a Fungal Tyrant in Episode 103.


Now What?

We need to decide which way Bujilli and his group will be going--Up towards the roof-tops, down to the Archives, or in some other direction. Should the group attempt to stand their ground and defend their position against the oncoming critter(s), or would it be better to retreat and look for an escape route? We'll definitely need to know if they are going to try to go upwards or downwards or in some other direction in either case...

Then we need to roll for Initiative: Roll 1d6 for (1) Bujilli and his group, and (2) that wicked something (or somethings) approaching from the passage.

We need 3d4 rolled to determine how many Varn-spiders are coming up through the Calotte-Passage. (I rolled a 1 in response to the raised voices, then another 1 on the Wandering Monster Matrix, so we get some Varn-Spiders...)

Three or four D20 rolls (per spider) would be useful in determining how the combat goes, if things do get violent.

We could also use a Morale check for both the Ignoble and the Eloi prisoners, (as per P. 56) by rolling 2d6 for each of them. The Eloi has base Morale of 8 and the Ignoble has a base Morale of 10. Remember--Bujilli receives no bonus/penalty from his Charisma, however Leeja does gain a -1 modifier that can be applied--lower scores are best in this situation. One or both of them might panic. If they are attacked by Varn-Spiders, they both receive a +2 modifier to their Morale Check, since they know far too well just what those horrid things will do to them, and what very likely follows close after them.

Once we resolve the current situation with the approaching malevolent arachnids, we will most likely need a follow-up Wandering Monster check due to the noise and so forth, if things do get violent: 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 two such checks, if someone would be so kind as to roll a couple of six-siders for us.

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

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