I have finally paid my respects to the great Signor Pietro Manzini! We met at a small restaurant next to the University, where he treated me to a generous dinner complete with two flasks of the best Tuscan wine. My father recommended me to this ancient friend of his, and so far this professor of medicine has been an excellent guide, pointing out the best and least expensive places in town for rest and dining. After he finished filling my wine glass, he began to talk to me again about his work at the University. His contributions to the field are very famous outside Padua, and he is on familiar terms with many a doctor of great repute. Since the man was on good terms with so many men of science, I decided that now was the perfect time to mention the name of Dr. Giacomo Guasconti. However, he did not respond as warmly as I had anticipated. "Dr. Guasconti! How did you hear of his name?" "The view from my room falls upon his garden. I had inquired the landlord as to the owner of the wonderous flora." Manzini stroked his beard. "I was hoping, Giovanni Baglioni, that your lodging would overlook his plants, not do them justice! But enough of my ranting...you inquired about Dr. Guasconti." He shifted his weight and poured himself another glass of wine. "It would be wrong of me to deny well-considered praise for the man, for he has made some remarkable discoveries in the field of botany. BUT..." he stressed the point, "BUT he could care less of the value of a human life." Manzini sipped his wine. "His patients are only interesting to him as subjects for his newest experiments. He would sacrifice human life, including those closest to him, for the sake of adding a grain to his enormous heap of botanical knowledge." "But surely, Dr. Manzini, surely Dr. Guasconti is not as cruel to his fellow man as you..." "AND THAT'S NOT THE WORST OF IT! It is Dr. Guasconti's theory that medicinal value can be extracted from poisonous plants. He cultivates them in his garden, and is said to have created new varieties of poison, none of which Nature has ever seen! Now and then he concocts a wonderful cure, but that is the work of pure chance. This blasphemous work should be as noteworthy, no, even MORE noteworthy than his few successes." "Signor Manzini, I know not how much Dr. Guasconti loves his work and the successes that it brings, but I do know for a fact that there is one object more dear to him." "And what would THAT be, my dear boy?" "His daughter...Beatrice."
"Beatrice? Signora Beatrice Guasconti?!? You have seen her then?" "Yes I have. In fact, I have spoken with her a few times in her father's garden. She is a wonderful woman, and I love her dearly." Manzini groaned and shook his head. "Say it isn't so! My best friend's son has fallen for the lovely queen of Hell!" "Signor Manzini! You must not mean what you say! You have emptied a flask already; maybe the wine has gone to your head." "Don't chastise me boy! Listen! What I say now is of valuable merit." He pulled out a small book from inside his jacket, and flipped through the pages. "A while ago, before you came here, I was reading some old authors and found a story that strangely interested me. It was about an Indian prince, who sent a beautiful woman to Alexander the Great as a gift. She was as lovely as the dawn, her voice as rich as a tropical sunset. But her most impressive quality was her perfumed breath...richer than a hundred thousand roses. As any young man, Alexander instantly fell in love with her, but a certain wise physician discovered a terrible secret about her. This woman had been nourished with poisons since her birth! She had become the deadliest poison in existence, her love being poison, her embrace being death! Isn't this a wonderful tale?" "A man of YOUR stature should not be reading childish fables." "Aaah, but this one is no longer a fable. IT HAS BECOME A REALITY! You, young Alexander, fell for the poisonous beauty that is Beatrice, sent by the wicked prince Giacomo Guasconti, and I, the wise physician, will save you from her fatal breath!" "I have had ENOUGH of your drunken rubbish! If you think that Beatrice is some accursed poisonous monstrosity, then YOU, Signor Pietro Manzini, are GRAVELY MISTAKEN! I refuse to sit with a man of such wild mind! "Dear Giovanni, where are you going?" "To see my love Beatrice...she will heal the pain and suffering I endured sitting with the likes of you! GOODBYE!"
A Maiden Sister
Communicate with Plants: Standard
Could Signor Manzini be right? Is it possible that Beatrice, the love of my life, is nothing more than an unspeakable horror living in Dr. Guasconti's botanical hell? Oh, what am I thinking?!? The old man has gone completely MAD! There is no way Beatrice could be anything so horrible. Here I see her walking around in her father's garden, embracing the numerous flowers. She is performing her father's role as the gardener, undertaking the great task of taking meticulous care of every single plant. Her gentle touch on the delicate petals of the flowers conjures up in my head the image of a young maiden gently tending to her younger sister. She whispers to them, and leans in to listen to their reply, the flowers inches from her lovely face. She breathes in their wonderful scents, her skin darkening with color and her breath becoming even more richer in scent. She plucks the richest blossom and replaces the dead one pinned to her bosom, her breath now almost overpowering. I can only stand here and stare in awe at the turn of events, and the wonderful swirling images that are invoked in my head.
The Garden of Eden
Illusion Creation: Ultimate
"Giovanni..." Is she calling me? "Giovanni..." She is! My love beckons me with her beautiful voice! "Giovanni! Giovanni!" I don't want to keep her waiting. I run to her. As I approach her, the smell of her breath starts to overwhelm my senses. The images in my head brighten, and grow more distinct. The garden begins to glow. She speaks. "Giovanni, are you happy?" I smile, taking in more of her sweet breath. "Yes. When I am with you I am always happy." "Giovanni, do you love me?" Her breath grows sweeter with every word spoken. "With all my heart, my dear Beatrice." The garden glows even brighter, and starts to grow and expand. "Giovanni, will we live together for the rest of our lives?" "Yes..." Her breath overwhelms me...the garden has grown so bright that I can barely see in front of me. I gasped. The garden has grown into a beautiful forest, the plants more beautiful than ever. A fountain sits in the center of it all, clear sparkling water running. I inhale all the sweet perfumes that they release. I am now Adam, standing in the Garden of Eden! It is so quiet, so peaceful...this perfect picture would not be complete without my lovely Eve. But where is Beatrice? She vanished! No...she was still here this whole time...watching me. She smiles, then embraces me. I never want this moment to end!
An Embrace of Death
Toxic Touch: Supreme
I look into her eyes, and she is looking at me, smiling. Suddenly, my head starts spinning. I can't see! My vision is starting to blur! My whole body aches with excruciating pain, and I can barely stand up on my own! Beatrice help me! My love, something is wrong with me! What? She lets go. I fall to the ground. Help me! Beatrice, help me! I need a doctor! Go, find someone quick! But she stands there. I cough up blood, and shake feverishly. Beatrice! BEATRICE PLEASE! Please, help me! She smirked. "Giovanni, you are such a fool! You are just like the other men." "There were others?" Her laugh went through my heart like a dagger. "Of course there were others before you! Men and women, young and old! All of them fools like you! They come to seek my company, as a friend, a lover, a teacher, a role model! They would do anything to be in my presence, anything to be closer to that wonderful paradise that is Eden! It is too bad that all of them had met such a dreadful end instead!" She slowly walked over and squatted next to me, flashing her now ugly, evil smile. Her once sweet breath is now repulsive and toxic. "Be honored that you loved me, Giovanni Baglioni! For I am the descendent of a beautiful and powerful Indian woman that wooed the great conqueror Alexander!"
Poisoned from Birth
Armor Skin: Superior
"ACCURSED ONE! YOU POISONOUS MONSTROSITY!" I struggled to lift myself off the ground. "You do not deserve to breathe the fresh air and tread the blessed earth that God created for man! Here, oh powerful and beautiful one, let me help you return to the Hell in which YOU WERE SPAWNED!" With the last of my strength, I released a fury attack upon the wretched beast that was Beatrice. But alas, not a scratch was on her skin, not a punch bruised her, or even made her wince! She got up and laughed again after I gave up. "Foolish Giovanni! You should know better than to make a futile attempt at my life! I was born among these flowers...these poisonous beauties! I grew up and blossomed with them, under the watchful eyes of my father. They are my sisters! They nourish me with their sweet and deadly odors and share with me their most special secrets. They helped protect me, gave me the ability to protect my body using the poison that is in it! Now my skin is covered with a poisonous shield, such as my sisters are covered in their poisonous nectar."
ARGH! I can no longer STAND HER and her devilish ways! I attempted to lunge at her and rip her apart with my bare hands until I realized something dreadfully wrong. My limbs...I can't feel them! I fall over...my whole body feels numb! That wretched woman smiled in amusement of my horrible state. "Aaah...my poison has finally taken over your body, Signor Giovanni! All that is left for you is a slow, painful death!" She leaned over my body and blew in my face, causing me to vomit. "But do not worry...your dead body will not go to waste! In fact, you will be a perfect specimen for my father's experiments!" She placed a finger to my numb lips. "Sssh! Don't speak! Yes, yes, the others have also gone this route. They did not really have a choice in the matter, for they were in the same predicament as you are now. But if you think about it, Giovanni, what you are doing right now will actually benefit my father's research, and quite possibly the entire field of botany as we know it! Isn't it nice to know that you will give up your life in the name of science?"
"Hmm...he is finally dead...the poor misguided fool. But he did bring about his own undoing...I only set up the trap. It was his decision to take the bait. His and many others before him. It is sad really; no one could see through my disguise...all they focused on was the outer shell, and never bothered with the core, the most important part of all. I only hope Giovanni realized during his last moments of life that I did not do all this because I hated him. I loved him, and I enjoyed his company. But I love my father and my sisters even more. I will do anything for them, anything that will help them stay happy and healthy. But no one can understand that..." "Oh, but I do understand..." "WHAT? Who are you?!?" "Uhh...my apologies Signora; the door was open, and I let myself in. My name is Father Michael Cantini, and I was sent by Signor Pietro Manzini for a Signor Giovanni Baglioni. It is very urgent that I see him as soon as possible..." "You can see him right now, Signor Father...he is laying right over there." "Oh my! So what Manzini says is true! I am too late! But the Lord will now give him his message..." "The who? Signor Father, you speak of a strange tongue." "...You...you did this to him, didn't you?" "Yes Signor Father, but it was for a good cause." "You poor child...you must be saved..." "Saved? From what?" "From your father's misguided and evil influence." "Evil? My father is not evil! You are the one that is misguided!" "Come here, my child. It is time for you to be cleansed of your sins..." "Cleansed? Sins? You talk nonsense!" "No my child...I am only trying to help you..." "I cannot accept help from the likes of you! Walking around chanting in a foreign tongue! Worshipping beads and crosses as if they were gods! They are objects! They are dead! They have no blood flowing in their veins...they don't even HAVE veins! At least my father and my sisters are living and breathing, and thinking! Your gods don't even have BRAINS! How can they comprehend you worshipping them?!? Get away from me!" "My child, please don't push me away...it's for your own safety..." "My sisters...FATHER! HELP ME!"