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Nerissa Natoli

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Nerissa Natoli was a Westmarch noble, who lived in the country's capital. She excelled in playing cards and reading the faces of her opponents. While she never gambled as liberally as her husband, she emptied the purses of more than one rival in "friendly" card games, such as Destiny or Wild Geese (she particuarly excelled in this game).

BiographyEdit

Nerissa was married to Ashton Natoli; a good man, in her eyes, but one who had taking to drinking and gambling, draining the coffers of House Natoli in the process. At some point he vanished, taking what remained of the family fortune with him. Thus, over the period of a year, Nerissa was forced to deal with the creditors, as her standard of living was reduced as she struggled to pay off her husband's debts. She also had to provide for her sister, Elizabeth, and while strange creatures were reported in Westmarch. Things reached such a bad state that she knew she was at risk of losing her manor, per Vincent Dastin's unwillingness to collect Ashton's debts any longer.

On the same night as Dastin's refusal, she was picked up in a carriage by Carlotta, who claimed to be an old friend of the family. She was aware of Nerissa's situation, and offered her a way out. She asked if she played cards, to which Nerissa responded in the affirmative. Thus, Carlotta arranged to come to Nerissa's manor the following evening. Nerissa guessed that Carlotta was sitting on a fortune, and that she wanted to intentionally lose it through a card game so that she wouldn't be seen giving out her wealth as an act of charity.

The next evening came, and Carlotta arrived. As they discussed the stakes, Nerissa offered what was left of her jewelry. Carlotta wasn't interested, and asked Nerissa what she valued most in the world. Nerissa, assuming that this was a game of social niceity, responded that what she desired most was to see her husband returned, sober, and with his wealth restored. In return, she wagered anything of hers that Carlotta desired. Carlotta agreed, and explained the rules of the game. They would each pick three cards, drawing them one at a time. By the end, whoever held the highest card would win. Nerissa was put off, knowing that this would be a competition of luck rather than skill, but agreed to take part. The game was played, and Nerissa won. Carlotta saw herself out, saying that she would come tomorrow night, if Nerissa chose, but warned her to choose carefully. And with that she left. The same night, a commoner arrived at her manor, bringing Ashton's body to be buried. He had nothing on him, and Nerissa had to foot the bill for the delivery fee.

Nerissa was aghast. She suspected Carlotta of witchcraft, but rationalized that it had to be a coincidence. She decided to have Carlotta return, in hope of getting the fortune she had offered. Carlotta arrived, and Nerissa offered the same stakes—anything that Carlotta desired, against a dowry for Elizabeth. She was put off by how Carlotta seemed different, more "hungry," but the game was played, and again, Nerissa won. Carlotta exited the manor before she could discuss payment of the dowry. She again warned Nerissa to consider the stakes, and that if she wished her to return (again), she would do so on the morrow. Nonetheless, Carlotta apparently honored her word, as a boy arrived with an envelope, containing a dowry. Apparently, Viscount Delfinus was a distant relation of House Natoli, and he'd just passed away. Before he died, the letter claimed, he had set aside funds for his youngest unmarried relations. She shared the news with Elizabeth, who was overjoyed. All seemed well...

...at least it did until Elizabeth collided with Maurice, their servant, who was holding an oil lamp. Elizabeth caught on fire as the flames spread, and while healers were able to save her life, her face was severely disfigured. It was now obvious to Nerissa that Carlotta was behind this. Twice she'd got what she wanted, and twice what she'd wanted had been ripped away. Thus, she resolved for a final game, one that she would win, no matter what. So the next night, Carlotta arrived, her visage still offputting, even as Nerissa refused to give her the usual social nicities. Regardless, Nerissa dictated the stakes. She would have Elizabeth's happiness and beauty restored, and it would be done so for the duration of the game, until she turned her last card. Carlotta resisted, but eventually acquiesed, and sure enough, Elizabeth's beauty was restored, though she was in a daze. Nerissa bid her goodbye as the game began. As it neared its end, with Nerissa waiting to turn her card, as Carlotta urged her to bring it to an end, Nerissa did so, by plunging a siletto into her own chest. Carlotta tried to save her, but it was too late. Nerissa was dead. And what was more, Carlotta had lost, for Nerissa had dictated that the terms of the bargain be "until I draw my last card." Now, it was an action that she could never undertake. Losing her old vigor, Carlotta left the manor, commenting "well played, my dear. Well played indeed."[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Turn of a Card

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