Vivian hid her head and began shaking. “Bad man! So not pretty!” she muttered to herself, hiding behind Taiass Atwari and Kao-Tsu Quan. Regardless, the pixie bounty hunter continued to threaten her capture, explaining that he had been chasing Vivian for years now, and that she was wanted for the murder of 27 pixies of the fey realm. In his land she was a wanted criminal, and considered a danger to his people. It was his responsibility to the pixie people to bring Vivian to justice.Nathan Bishop turned to the vampire, hoping for some explanation, but all she did was hide deeper into Talia Lancaster (Black)‘s skirts as tears of blood stained Vivian’s delicate porcelain cheeks. “Too long ago! Can’t remember, it wasn’t pretty!” she stammered as she averted the fighters’ eyes. The sweet smelling pixie snapped angrily at her. “Fine! If you won’t come willingly, villainess, I will take you by force!” With that, he drew his bow and let fly, as did his pixie counterparts. Taiass flourished his spear to defend Vivian as battle was upon them. The immortal one would be protected by her friends, at least until they received more of an explanation. The skirmish was fast and furious, but amidst the fighting, a strange happening occurred. As Vivian’s fangs penetrated the flesh of her pixie opposition, she staggered, and gasped, eyes wide, as she tasted the blood of her kindred for the first time in hundreds of years. “You…I…remember!” she whispered to the muffin man. “How could you have done this to me???” Her eyes narrowed into slits as she ruthlessly cut into the pixie with new found strength and increased her speed and celerity. Her attacks grew tenfold as her anger and hatred toward the pixies was apparent until finally, as the last pixie fell, the main aggressor yielded to her. “Stop! I do not wish to continue this fight further. I only ask that you pass on Vivian as a prisoner to me and my people. As I said, she is wanted for the murder of 27 pixies. Regardless of her reasons, this is a crime that must be judged by her people. She has long abated our grasp, but I assure you, she IS dangerous. As I cannot defeat you in combat, I ask that you consider my words with weight. I will concede to you as a prisoner for now, but know that I am of good nature and you harbor a fugitive. I only act on the will of the fey people.” With that, the Muffin Man surrendered to his captors.
After a quick discussion, Talia volunteered to bring the pixie to the Sohman outpost of troops. He would be considered a Calican prisoner and held by Kao-Tsu’s monastary. When asked to explain her actions, Vivian gave the others a cold stare. “My reasons for my actions are for me to know. Just know those pixies deserved their fate. They took away and killed my only friend I had in the world, and yes, I went into a blind rage and killed people. Now that I have tasted his blood,” she paused to wipe away a dark smear from her mouth, “I am even more convinced of my own justice, now that I am in my proper mindset.” Nathan and Kao-Tsu exchanged a look. This explanation would not be enough to let them trust Vivian for much longer…or even to convince them that she should not be turned in to the pixie bounty hunter! But for now they must continue on, the hours were ticking away and the Sohman election was almost upon them.
After meeting back up with Talia, the group moved on to their final destination in Sephor: Follino Hill. The hill glistened with white marble as they stood in awe of Correlian’s Basilica, a major temple to Correlian Lorethian. The Basilica was run by Maester Alejandro, an eladrin with considerable sway to the religiously inclined of Sohma. In trying to meet the Maester, our heroes were met with difficulty; however it was suggested to gain his favor, they could help with the funeral of Katherine, a fallen rose of the former Queen’s guard. This task was met with simplicity, and the adventurers headed back to Ostiense Hill to Queen Andula’s residence. They had done all they could do to promote the Queen and could now only hope that the people remembered their efforts the next day!
By the middle of the afternoon, the election results were finished. Overwhelmingly, Queen Andula had retained her position as monarch and ruler of Sohma! That evening, a celebration was held with the senators in Velian Hill. However, as Nathan and Taiass noticed, the attendance was sparse to people and the press. Nathan walked over to Talia to whisper this fact to her, and as he did so, all of a sudden, the doors to the Senate burst open. A disheveled and red eyed Talia met his eyes from the arched doorway. “Manlins!” she yelled, between heaving breaths. “One of the candidates is a manlin!” Nathan turned slowly to face the woman beside him, and was horrified to see her face morphing from the familiar beautiful complexion of Talia Black to a cruelly smiling manlin imposter, her hands curling around a red dagger glowing with arcane magic. As she thrust the dagger over his shoulder to stab him in the back, he blocked it with his shield’s edge and reversed the blow, stabbing the manlin attacker. The female manlin panicked as she looked at the wound, which began to glow and burst into a bright light, blinding Nathan momentarily. Simultaneously, Jacobus Grakus, the main candidate in opposition to the queen, morphed into a manlin and began attacking those around him, including Jaynus Septimus. Nathan moved in to protect Queen Andula, looking to his right and noticing that his manlin attacker had apparently disintegrated with the magic from the red dagger. The five adventurers gathered together and fought off the assassins with relative practiced ease, thanks to the real Talia’s early warning. As the room cleared out, and they checked on the well being of the Queen, Talia explained what had happened.
Earlier the previous day, when they were in the Velian district strip club, as Talia had disappeared backstage, she had been ambushed by manlins, who planted a fake Talia in her position with a plan to assassinate Nathan. The manlin forces had her held hostage in a small encampment outside the city, and she had overheard that one of the candidates in the election was actually a manlin. No matter who won, they planned to execute a coup on the Sohma’s leaders that evening during the election celebration. Luckily since their main forces had left, she managed to escape the prison just in time to warn them! After hearing her tale, the Sohman senators were roused by a heroic speech from Taiass. Now, the Callican and Sohman allegiance was even stronger than ever!
Unfortunately, Talia showed the others later on that evening, the manlins had taken her scrolls of teleportation. If they were to regroup with Belcoot and the main forces, it would take time. Also, Nathan was quick to realize, the muffin man was gone- the manlin Talia had apparently tried to kill him instead of turning him in to the guards. He had simply left a note for Vivian: “The hunt continues…” Queen Andula, in appreciation of all of the Calican’s hard work, was more than happy to donate horses for their journey, as well as some magical items from the Sohman vaults to help in the war effort. Regardless, it would be a month before they were with the other Calicans.
On their long journey, Vivian continued to distance herself from the others. They noticed her demeanor had changed; no longer was she the happy go lucky, impish creature obsessed with sparkles they had grown to love. Vivian was now colder, wiser, and despite her childlike appearance, very much an adult. Kao-Tsu attempted to discuss her past with her but to little avail; she still kept much hidden from her friends, and the distance was beginning to chasm the trust and friendship she had with them, especially regarding Nathan. Even their Yule celebration was half-hearted, with only Kao-Tsu, Taiass, and Talia participating. Nathan threw himself into focusing on the war effort. Talia watched the days tick by with worry. The day of her curse being fulfilled was drawing near.
January 9th, our heroes finally reached the Calican camp in the Northern Shifting Sands. Kao-Tsu immediately took Talia (as promised) to see Arthur Kayin Macbeth, hoping the wise cleric may know some sort of cure to her curse of Lloth. After a thorough examination, the cleric had no easy answers. No cure was known to him; all he could suggest was a journey to the underdark to challenge the goddess herself…and even that journey, with all of the dangers entailed, was no guarantee. Despite Kao-Tsu and Nathan’s support, Talia conceded that was a journey she was not willing to make, not with the war going on and all of the people that required their help. As it was, the heroes were petitioned with 3 different choices that could use their attentions. Kao-Tsu received a letter from Zerbo in Mixed Bag, stating that she had figured out how to make mud-boys of her own, and she wished to send 20 of them to the Calican Military, but needed someone to meet them. Taiass also got a letter from the Court. His reports contained bad news, that Prince Jaynus’ forces had now gained a resistance to radiant damage. This could be averted if the phylactory of the lich king was destroyed. It just so happened that an agent of the court knew where the phylactory was…unfortunately that agent was Bellon, presumed dead. If they were able to find the body of Bellon, the “speak with dead” scroll enclosed with the Court’s letter would come in handy. Also, Belcoot had received reports from Calican spies that in Zartinia, General Tavor Kel, presumed dead in battle, had been spotted by several trustworthy people. If they were able to find him, his presence would be able to rally the Zartinian forces, which were at this point spreading thin and loosing hope.
Three possible decisions…..where would our intrepid heroes go next? And would their differences drag them apart from each other? With the final battle approaching fast, a choice must be made…before it is too late for action!