Captured by Alcide Mondavi, the Heroes were lead into a great hedge maze. The Mondavi prince advised them all that he would offer up Vittore Bernoulli as a prize, should they escape his maze alive. The catch… he would be hunting them whilst they searched the maze for Bernoulli.
Racing through the maze, they found themselves split up and pursued by Eisen mercenaries. The Heroes fought valiantly against their captors, with Alejandro Castillo de la Rosa and Gianfrancesco Ludovico Sforza della Villanova proving their worth in combat. Axel fought stoically, even though his fortunes were, as ever, rather poor. Tricksome Mac Tíre Glic Beag found a means to steal back Maebh’s sidhe blade, which she put to good use. Calisto Diana De Espinosa De La Cruz used her scorching talents to keep the largest body of their enemies at bay. Zoya transformed into a common cat to attempt to track down Bernoulli.
The Ussuran woman lead Gianni, Faiza, and Ganbaatar through the close brush of the maze, and finally found what she had been looking for as the others fought with a large group of Eisen horsemen. The trail of the digger lead to a secluded area within the maze, where Gianni came face to face with an Eisen gunman. The two struggled desperately, but the Eisen gurgled his last breath as a sharpened stick pierced his throat from behind. Yet there was no one there when Gianni searched.
As Gianni lead the others traveling with him , Faiza took the lead and was suddenly struck down by a thunderous shot from a pistol. Gianni rushed to her aid, only to find his recently-discovered beloved perished. The wound was from a very close range.
Gianni screamed the name of his enemy, knowing somehow Bernoulli had done this deed. But he was nowhere to be seen. Except, of course, by a cat. Hearing some crashing among the hedges, Zoya took to the top of the trees and saw Bernoulli moving to the edge of the maze. Gianni instantly took flight after his mortal enemy. Ganbataar was close behind.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group were fighting off axemen who had hacked their way into the maze at Mondavi’s commands, well away from the flames fed by Calisto. The Eisen attempted to take Rossana d’Amore as their prize. Once her shock had worn off at being dumped unceremoniously into a hedge maze after being dragged to a prison, and then manhandled by rough Eisen, Rossana proved to be a fierce fighter. Randolph Addison Berryman was savagely struck down by several axemen, and Alejandro showed an innate knack for swordsmanship by dispatching the axemen.
When Gianni and Ganbataar rose to the heights of the hedgerow, they found Mondavi and Bernoulli locked in deadly close combat. Gianni leapt into the fray, intent on his enemy’s head. His dive into the fight proved to be the distraction Mondavi needed to take flight. Ganbataar leapt as well, to fight with Mondavi’s surprised men.
After having taken a horse, Bernoulli spurred after Mondavi, leaving a frustrated and wounded Gianni to stew at Vittore’s innumerable escapes and close brushes with a final conflict. The Heroes rejoined, their foes defeated but their quarry in flight.
Berryman suggested, and the others knew, that Bernoulli would go after Mondavi. The Prince had all of the digger’s possessions and the light of Bernoulli’s cruel vengeance had lit upon his person. But many in the group were wounded, and in need of stitches and bandages. They made to retire to a small Vodacce village in the countryside, not far from Mondavi’s secret mercenary base.
And that night, a carrier pigeon flew to Dionna, carrying a message filled with warning, and fear.
26 Tertius, 1668; Somewhere in the shadowy depths of Dionna, Vodacce
“So the servant you saw fit to replace me with vexes you so much does he, my Prince?” came a rough, chuckling voice.
“Careful how your tongue takes to speaking to me, or I will have it removed, you drunken bastard,” came the dangerously smooth reply.
“I’m… I’m sorry, Milord,” came the reply as Carlo Accorso realized the game he was playing had been called.
He kneeled before his Prince.
“Why is it that you call upon me, your now retired servant? What has the young one done?”
“My young Hand plays his role well, but he has overstepped his bounds. I sent for his recall to Dionna while he was in Paix. Either he missed my missive, or ignored it. Whichever it might be, I would have him recovered and brought home. I have need of him. Your face is one he will recognize, and your voice is one he will listen to. If neither of these things work, he is to pay the price for disobeying his Prince. Your blade is to bring back his head,” the cool voice of Giovanni Villanova intoned, displaying no emotion but issuing command.
As the older man rose to his feet, nodding his head, a young boy rushed to their side, holding aloft a piece of parchment.
“My Prince, a missive has arrived for you!”
Villanova took the slip of parchment from the boy’s hand, smiling, and ruffled his fingers in the boy’s shaggy hair. Accorsa began to turn away, to ready himself for his travels.
“That’s a good boy. I’ll see to it that you are rewarded,” the Prince said, almost fondly.
Unfurling the paper, the Vodacce Prince’s countenance darkened.
“Accorso, wait. It seems there has been a change of plans. It appears I will need you to bring back not just my errant Hand, but two more heads as well.”
Pulling a piece of paper from his belt, Villanova readied a quill for his response.
“Go to see my lovely Montaigne girl, she will deliver yourself, as well as this missive, in the utmost haste. I will be trusting that you recall what happens to those who fail me, Accorso. Arnaldo. His former masters. Keep their fates in mind.”
Accorso shook his head, willing away the alcohol that was clouding his head. He had work to do again for his Prince. His fingers fumbled in his pocket over the gold Swordsman’s pin lying tarnished at the bottom.