Nualia Tobyn

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As her body slumps towards the floor, Nualia’s impassive mask breaks for the briefest of moments. She smiles softly at you while reaching into a small pouch at her waist. She slowly withdraws a small clear sphere swirling with red energy. As she tries to lift it, it slips from her grasp and falls to the ground, shattering with a slight cracking sound. Suddenly, the room is filled with a flash of bright light and your eyes instinctively slam shut.

As your eyes slowly flutter open, you find yourselves suspended weightless, floating in the air overlooking the village of Sandpoint. Things look different from when you departed just a few days prior, and your eyes immediately scan towards the main square where your adventures began just 2 short weeks ago. In place of the impressive newly completed cathedral stands an old church.

The door to the church opens and a beautiful little girl with silver hair and violet eyes pokes her head outside timidly before slowly stepping out. As she makes her way down the old stone steps, a rock flies out of nowhere and hits her across the head. Boyish laughter can be heard in the nearby bushes as someone yells, “Ugly monster. Go back inside!” Clutching the bloody welt on her forehead, the girl runs back up the stairs crying loudly.

The air shimmers – you are transported to a quaint old-fashioned schoolhouse in another part of town. The same timid quiet girl from the church sits alone in a corner, reading a book. Cruel whispers and giggling can be heard all around her as she quickly gets up and excuses herself to go to the bathroom. Three other girls follow a behind her and wait for her to walk into the outhouse before piling tables and chairs outside the door. Several hours later, the little girl’s frightened screams continue to pierce the dusk.

A flash – You look again and see a just teenage girl walking home from the direction of the school house. The air is filled with the sounds of lewd catcalls and whistling from several groups of adolescent boys. With a look of extreme discomfort towards the inappropriate attention placed upon her already beautiful form, the girl quickens her pace towards the church; her head hung low in shame.

The scene shifts to the same young girl holding a wicker basket as she browses through vegetables at the market. Suddenly, she feels a tug on her hair followed quickly by a loud “snip” sound. Whirling around, she sees an old woman gleefully hobble off with a handful of hair the color of the stars.

Another flash – A slightly older yet still teenaged girl is approached by a mob of petitioners. Many of them have rashes, boils, warts, or other physical deformities. Some claim to hear spirits in their head or to see the shadows of long dead loved ones. They ask her to cure their maladies with her touch. They asks her to drive the voices out of their heads by singing to them. They ask her to bless them. They call her, “Bless-ed of Desna”. Overwhelmed by their increasingly insistent requests and unable to help them all, she turns and runs towards the church. The mob gives chase, shouting their demands as they follow.

The vision clouds for a moment as the clear stern voice of an older man rings out saying, “on your eighteenth birthday, I will be taking you to the highly prestigious Windsong Abbey to become a nun. The Abbess expects all young applicants to be perfectly versed in their catechisms. You will not leave this room until you have memorized all of your scriptures.” Hours later, you see the young woman staring out her window gloomily as the sun sets on another warm summer day spent cloistered in her chambers.

A new figure takes shape before your eyes; a handsome Varisian boy, recently arrived to Sandpoint from Magnimar as part of a traveling merchant caravan. You see him taking the girl on a date; a beautiful picnic on a sunny autumn afternoon. It is her first picnic, and her first date. They talk and laugh together as he regales her with stories of the big city. They sit close together on a grassy knoll and watch the sun set. He kisses her on the cheek. She falls in love.

Weeks seem to fly by in a blur before the scene comes back into focus. It’s dark, and the boy is barely visible as he stands beside the eastern wall of the church. He lightly throws a pebble at the upper window. It opens and the girl eagerly sticks her head out. She smiles at him, her eyes sparkling with happiness, before swinging her legs over the sill and climbing down a ratty cloth rope. They grasp hands and quietly make their way down towards the moonlit beach. They walk for a while in the soft white sand until they happen upon a strange cave nestled within the cliffs beneath the newly built Glassworks. Giggling softly to each other, they make their way inside the cave.

The scene disappears again. This time months seem to rapidly fly by marked by feelings of happiness, love, and for the first time … peace. Abruptly a new scene sets in. The two young lovers sit cuddled together in the mouth of the same cave overlooking the waves at dusk.
The girl turns her face up towards the boy and says softly, “I need to tell you something”.

“What’s the matter?” the boy asks tenderly.

“I’m … I’m … pregnant.” the girl says.

“You’re lying!” he replies quickly.

“No, I swear it’s true,” she responds, her eyes rapidly filling with tears.

“How could this happen? I thought your… kind was infertile.” he sneers.

“Why would you think that? What … what are we going to do now?” she asks timidly.

“We? What do you mean we? I’ll be going back to Magnimar with my caravan next week,” he says as he shrugs her hand off and stands to his feet.

“What? You … you said you were staying here with me!” she stammers pleadingly.

“Yeah well, I lied. I knew I should never have gone out with a pathetic monster-looking bitch like you!” he spits out, his face now twisted in disgust.

With that, the boy turns on his heels and storms away without a backwards glance. The girl’s mouth hangs open, too stunned to even call after him. Suddenly a piercing scream of raw anguish escapes her lips as her so-called “lover” disappears into the darkness.

Suddenly, it’s the next morning and the still sobbing girl kneels before an altar begging for forgiveness and grace. After returning from the cave the night before, she confessed everything to her adoptive father, desperate for a shoulder to cry on. Instead, he screamed at her calling her a disgrace, a harlot, and a monster. He then forbade her from leaving the church in fear of bringing public ridicule down on both of them. This morning, her prayers seem to fall on deaf ears, and a sense of bitterness begins to infect her heart and mind like a twisted poison.

The girl’s bitterness begins to fester into a dark rage, and the scene vanishes into a dark red mist. The mist continues to thicken almost overwhelming your senses before suddenly clearing. The scene before you is one of pure agony and pain. The girl is now suffering through a horrible stillbirth. As the waves of pain wrack her body, she looks down and catches a glimpse of her baby – a horrific and deformed monstrosity, which the blanching midwife immediately swaddles up and takes away. In one awful moment of clarity, the girl realizes that she has been carrying a fiend in her belly this whole time. She finally succumbs to the unbearable pain and slips into a deep coma.

The coma is filled with a variety of fevered visions. In the first, a pregnant woman with beautiful feathered wings, a jackal head, and a serpentine tail lovingly beckons to her. The girl approaches slowly, her steps labored with pain and exhaustion, before falling into the demon goddess’ motherly embrace. In another vision, she sees herself burning down the old Southpoint church – her home … no … her prison; with her foster father still trapped inside. She then dreams of masked men who revel in the act of hunting and killing other men. She is shown a way of joining them so she can hunt down and murder the boy who brought her so much pain. Then she sees herself being led to an ancient underground shrine, where she meets her tiny new quasit mentor. Another vision is of a monstrous and ancient goblin creature – a chosen of Lamashtu – that paces restlessly with ravenous hunger in a long forgotten chamber. The final vision is of Sandpoint being overwhelmed and razed by an unstoppable horde of monsters, herself standing amidst the ruins, reveling in the act of offering the souls of the dying to higher and more terrible beings beyond the understanding of mere mortals.

The dream within a dream fades as the girl awakens from her coma with a start. She quickly realizes that she is laying in her own bed in the church. As she lights the second and third torches, you see a dark spark of fury also light inside her soft violet eyes.

Scenes begin to shift rapidly and you can only make out a brief glimpse before they change again. You see the Varisian boy slumped against a wall, his neck oozing dark crimson. You see a heavily clad human drinking alone in a bar. Next you see an attractive dark-skinned female being given some disappointing news while a shape watches from the shadows. Then you see Chief Ripnugget shouting something about “make tribe strong” as he listens to the woman communicate with “the beast below”. It shifts – the chief is now standing at her side as she addresses a mixed assortment of goblins and other creatures including a large Bugbear holding a longbow. You see the silver haired woman locked in the throes of passionate lovemaking with a thin half-elf. Another shift – the woman and her lieutenants sit in a small room pouring over maps planning what looks like an attack. Flash – you see the woman sneak through a graveyard and retrieve some old bones. Then suddenly you see her burning the bones on some sort of altar as she glows with a frightening dark red energy. The rapid shifting stops as one final scene dissolves into focus. The woman stands over a clear basin of water. Seeing her reflection in the still liquid she softly says, “he was right … they all were … I am nothing but a monster.” The door scrapes open and she slowly turns.

The effect from the memory sphere ends and suddenly you are back in the stone room. Mere moments have passed in what seemed like hours. You quickly look down at Nualia … just in time to see the light fade from her hauntingly beautiful violet eyes.

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Nualia Tobyn

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