As an infant caterpillar, Talla was snatched away from the butterfly grotto by woodwolves. Butterfly princess Mariposa had searched for her but failed to locate the baby. Talla Unica's mother would later continue the search for her missing child on her own, but would disappear into the forest and never be heard from again.
Talla Unica would retain vague memories of her birth mother, recalling that she had pearlescent wings and, like Talla, white hair.
The precise details of how she lost her wings changed every time Talla Unica related the story. As a young child, Talla Unica claimed that she was eventually found by humans and raised by them. When she underwent the metamorphosis, however, her adoptive family thought she was dying. After she emerged from her cocoon stage as a butterfly, she once said her adoptive mother panicked and cut Talla Unica's wings off. Afterwards, Talla Unica ran away from home.
In another version of the story, however, Talla Unica claimed she cut her own wings off herself.
Regardless, the experience was sufficiently traumatizing that Talla repressed the memory; she evidently remained unaware of her true butterfly heritage, at least consciously. From all outward appearances, she was a young human female, but she retained scars and bumps on her head and on her back.
Talla Unica had white hair and white eyes (a rarity among butterflies), and wore an oversized tunic and a pair of shorts with a rope belt.
As a child, Talla Unica possessed an unusually powerful clairvoyant ability. She had the power to predict events with perfect accuracy, though she was not always consciously aware of the ramifications of these events. When she became an adult, Talla Unica realized that she had only been seeing a single path, the most likely possibility, rather than the myriad possibilities that existed.
A Butterfly's TaleEdit
Mariposa was reminded of the night she had failed to recover the missing child shortly after her people had inexplicably disappeared from the butterfly grotto. She experienced similar feelings of frustration and failure during both instances.
The Quest for the World-BreakerEdit
By unctual year 3889, at age 13, Talla Unica was self-sufficient, using her self-taught knowledge of plant lore to survive. Despite this, she was unable to fully care for herself, and had numerous bugs living in her hair.
When a storm hit, she retreated under a stone bridge by Kingsbridge, wrapped up in blankets to protect her from the elements. She happened to meet "Four" Wheeler, who had been exiled from Torlynn and was hiding from the weather under the same bridge. When prompted for her name, she answered "Talla Unica" because that was what was written on the label of her blanket; it was not until later that Four would learn it was not her true name.
Talla Unica and Four became friends, and started traveling together. Four even gave her a haircut, but failed to notice her pointed ears. On a mountain pass en route to Darkholm, they found the unconscious body of the moth warrior Syxx, with whom Four had been previously acquainted. After reaching Darkholm, they stayed for several weeks at the Slip Right Inn, with Four alternating between working at the tavern and tending to Syxx, while Talla Unica came and went, collecting herbs and plants for the moth's recovery.
When Erasmus the innkeeper expressed a particularly inappropriate desire for her, Talla Unica responded by brandishing Four's dagger, killing the man and fleeing Darkholm. She ran all the way to the Great Divide, and—perhaps traumatized by the incident, or perhaps having recalled memories of her earlier childhood, or perhaps both—armed with some inkling that she should be able to fly, prepared to jump into the depths of the chasm. She was rescued by a recovered Syxx, who glided with Talla until they reached the rope bridge that spanned the chasm and into the waiting arms of Brian Devonhyre, who was traveling with the butterfly princess, Mariposa. When the rope bridge was cut, Talla was separated from Four, depending now on Syxx as her companion of choice.Mariposa recognized Talla as a butterfly right away, accurately surmising that she was the missing caterpillar baby. Talla was unable to provide an explanation as to how or why she had lost her wings. Talla became part of Mariposa's search for the Flightless One, and provided Mariposa with information on where she might find the onion grass that was part of the Flightless One's legend. Talla traveled with the others into the depths of the ancient Tree and discovered the Flightless One still alive; Talla, with her characteristic lack of tact, was the first to point out that she was missing her arms and legs.
Their quest then took them to seek out the wizard Tha'aron, who was purported to have knowledge about how to deal with the World-Breaker. While the grown-ups discussed business, Talla Unica enjoyed playing with Hissy-Fitt. After boarding the wizard's wagon and preparing to leave, Talla and the others were enveloped by a snowy avalanche. It was then that she admitted to killing the innkeeper. Talla suffered from hypothermia and fell into a comatose state. She was believed to be dead until she was successfully revived by a magical lightning bolt generated by Tha'aron's sorcery. Talla's body bore a mark where the lightning had struck her, a memento she would carry for the rest of her days.
After traveling to Torlynn Castle, Brian attempted to have Talla arrested for the innkeeper's murder, until Four intervened and insisted that he had done it. Later, Talla Unica alerted a sleeping Tha'aron to the danger when the castle was attacked by goblins aboard the Xanthippe. When Tha'aron attempted to use a lightning bolt against the craft that would completely expend his life energy, Talla grabbed the wizard in protest, inadvertantly contributing some of her own life essence to the spell, thus saving Tha'aron's life and augmenting the power of the incantation.
Following the destruction of the World-Breaker, Talla Unica returned with Mariposa to the new butterfly settlement that Mariposa had discovered. Talla, along with the survivors of Mariposa's colony, were welcomed into the fold, with promises from the butterfly king that Talla's special needs would be taken into consideration.
The Curse of the Fate ShifterEdit
During her first couple of years at the new butterfly encampment, Talla Unica felt like an outsider. While she was friends with Gusano, the other butterfly children teased her, calling her "Wingless Wonder" or "Talla Unicant" (as in "can't fly"). Also, she grew tired of the hundreds of butterfly stories she was seemingly expected to memorize.
In spite of her missing antennae, or perhaps because of their absence, Talla Unica began to develop strong clairvoyant abilities. She was able to predict, with perfect accuracy, events that were about to take place. The closer she got to an impending event, the more clear her precognition was. Distant events were more difficult for her to discern.
In 3891, when Mariposa was exiled from the settlement, Talla Unica opted to accompany her in her search for Four, with whom she had parted ways. They traveled to the human village of Frontwater to begin the search, though Talla quickly realized that Mariposa may have been purposefully distancing herself from Four, searching for him in places she knew he wouldn't be, because she feared she might harm him. Mariposa feared she would eventually go insane from bloodrock exposure, and asked Talla to take the necessary measures if Mariposa should try to harm her. Talla was pragmatic about the request, noting that it was not difficult for her to kill someone if it were necessary.
After Mariposa tried to single handedly fight off the patrons of the Callithumpian Interrobang?!, Talla Unica chastized her for her actions, insisting that Mariposa discard her weapons and armor if she knew they had debilitating effects on her. She wrestled Mariposa for the armor, and was thrown forcibly to the ground for her efforts. It was at this stage that Talla Unica told Mariposa the story of what had happened to her wings—either no longer repressing the memory or finally being willing to share it. She helped Mariposa realize that the bloodrock was changing her, and she cast the armor aside.
It was around this time that Talla Unica found a new friend in the form of Normal, a true butterfly who had started following Talla about. She decided to adopt him as a pet, naming him and even carrying on conversations with him. Talla's precognition warned her of Normal's eventual death, but she found that despite being well aware of its arrival, she was not emotionally prepared for the actual passing of her friend.
Talla Unica and Mariposa encountered a camp of Trolls; Mariposa attempted to fight them off, while Talla Unica was forced to flee. She remembered Forever the dragon coming to her rescue while freezing to death in White Mesa, who had heard the thoughts of her dying companions. Talla recognized that she could offer her precognition to the weary, long-lived dragon and reveal to him when he would die. His response was not sufficiently timely, so Talla used her precognition in another way. She returned to the Troll camp, pretending that she was in control of the elements and "summoned" lightning and earthquakes, scaring the Trolls away.
Predicting that they would be meeting the Elves of the Elvenwood next, Talla Unica led the way to their domain. Elladan was quite impressed with Talla Unica's natural abilities and insisted that she lead the charge into battle against the Dwarf war machine, the Giant, which was making its way to the Elvenwood. Talla Unica agreed, but in the ensuing conflict, many Elf lives were lost and Elladan grew impatient that Talla could not predict the specific aspects of the fight that he had hoped for.
Later, Talla Unica foresaw Mariposa and her new Elf friend, Arienne, entering the Giant through a hatch in the machine's foot. She told them how to open the hatch, allowing them to climb into the machine with the intent of disabling it from the inside. Talla accompanied them, but when she had a prediction that she would fall, she let go of the Giant, opting instead to run ahead and warn the towns in its path of its imminent arrival. She tried, and failed, to rescue a baby from the abandoned town of Rainbow's End.
Talla Unica was able to divine where Mirabel Miller had ended up, helping Four address the package he sent her that contained a couple of spare limbs for Syzygy.
Embarrassment of RichesEdit
In 3892, Four and Mariposa made plans to confront the sorceress Deorwynn Fletcher, and coaxed a reluctant Talla Unica to accompany them. When she foresaw the events to come, in which Four used a scepter to open a magical portal, Talla Unica was defeated, recognizing that there was nothing she could do to stop it. Despite herself, she implored, "Four, don't grab the scepter!" but Four misheard her and did so anyway. The scepter was activated, creating a rift in reality through which Four and Syzygy were pulled. Talla Unica, accepting her fate, jumped in after them, and was quickly followed by Mariposa.
Talla Unica and a dismantled Syzygy found themselves in a barren, deserted valley of an unknown land. After collecting most of his parts, Talla Unica began to suffer from heat exhaustion and allowed Syzygy to carry her, unconscious, until they located and were reunited with Four and Mariposa.
Talla Unica awakened at Halcyon Heights and made Birthday Jones-Smith's acquaintance, who allowed Talla Unica to remain until she had recovered. Later, when it became clear the group would require idento-chips to function in Birthday's world, Talla Unica offered to accompany Syzygy to search for them. She turned down Mariposa's offer to give her the remains of her starflower nectar, insisting she could survive for months without it. Syzygy confirmed that Talla Unica had different physiology, identifying her as half butterfly and half Elf.
Later, Talla Unica was visibly revulsed as Syzygy extracted the idento-chips from the inhabitants of a cemetery, She mentioned she had not foreseen this event because she had been trying to block out her precognition. She also revealed that she had once attempted to look as far into the future as possible, and had foreknowledge of the deaths of both Mariposa and Four—but never saw Syzygy meet his end.
Armed with the ability to make purchases on credit, Talla Unica ventured into the Northwest Quadrant's underground tunnels and bought several things from the sales drones at the retail shops. She observed that the sales drones had a one-track mind, responding in an identical manner to specific keywords. She eventually walked away with a cadet cap with neurotransmitter-inhibiting capability, allowing her to block her precognizance when she wore it.
Talla Unica also coached Syzygy on how to pursue a relationship of sorts with Persephone, in whom he was greatly interested. She encouraged him to buy things for her in the hopes that she would feel obligated to return the affection. She also suggested that he say the exact opposite of what he meant, assuring him that this was perfectly normal courtship behavior for people.
Following the apparent death of Four, Talla Unica remained at Birthday's apartment with decreasing frequency, returning only to drink a little bit of the artificial nectar that had been synthesized for Mariposa. At one point, she threatened Birthday with a sword and stormed out of the apartment, prompting Mariposa to chase after her. It may have been her intention to lead Mariposa back to Four, who had been in the hospital's recovery wing.
Eventually, Talla Unica and Syzygy made their way to the Rose Law Cryonics Lab, fighting their way through the drones operating the facility and clearing the way for Mariposa and Four's eventual arrival. Like the others, Talla Unica was placed into cryonic stasis, fully cognizant of what was to come.
The Veil of SoulsEdit
Talla Unica's stasis pod experienced a catastrophic malfunction, prompting Syzygy, who had been watching over the cryonics lab, to make emergency repairs. Unfortunately, despite Syzygy's best efforts, there remained a problem with the pod. Talla Unica survived the three thousand years of stasis to awaken in the New Age, but at a price. While Four and Mariposa had only aged approximately one year while in suspended animation, Talla Unica had aged closer to one hundred years. She awoke from the pod a full-grown woman.
However, a part of her might have remained awake during this period, and her long time in stasis allowed her to work on her growing powers. She realized that her clairvoyance enabled her a look not just into a single inevitable future, but multiple possible futures. Indeed, Talla Unica foresaw the possibility that the group would be rescued by a magical flying castle, but she considered it so utterly preposterous that she said nothing of it.
What frightened her the most, however, was that she could see so far into the future to witness the end of existence itself. It was a prospect that filled her with terror and despair.
When searching the ship for a weapon that might destroy Dreadnaught, Talla Unica confided in Jenna. She admitted that she'd gone from being a child prodigy to just another ordinary woman, and she found the prospect somewhat unsettling.
In their search for the crystal fragments to reassemble the keystone scepter, Talla Unica accompanied Mariposa and Arienne to Seventeen Horse Town to look for the cobblestone. Talla Unica discovered the cobblestone lodged in the gullet of a local junglefowl. She killed the bird, cutting it open to produce the cobblestone, but didn't seem to understand why Mariposa and Arienne were horrified by the act.
After Endeavor traveled to Porticus Umbra so the crew could acquire the sunstone, Dreadnaught attacked again. Talla Unica raced into the Captain's cabin to warn Mariposa, but Brian Devonhyre, who had been assigned to guard Mariposa, stabbed Talla Unica in the leg with his sword. Her injury was later tended to by Arienne.
Talla Unica advised Four to land the Endeavor, smash its engine, and go into hiding. She predicted Deorwynn would grow in strength and influence, but would eventually forget about Four and Mariposa, enabling them to live a sequestered but happy life. Four was unsatisfied by this and refused to take her advice to heart.
Arienne convinced Talla Unica to help mutiny against Four and remove him from command. Talla Unica knew that people would die if Four faced off against Deorwynn, something she wanted very much to prevent.
After Jenna sacrificed herself to get rid of Dreadnaught, Talla Unica regretted that she hadn't seen it coming. She'd looked into the futures of Four and Mariposa and the others, but as Jenna wasn't alive, she hadn't considered how Jenna's decisions might affect the future.
Once Four was removed from command, he conveyed the importance of continuing to collect the crystal fragments to Talla Unica, who offered to help him keep collecting the fragments in secret. On pretense of needing to repair the ship, Talla Unica redirected their course to Xalvador's Folly, where they secured the headstone. Four seemed remarkably unfazed when Talla Unica remarked that she had murdered two people for it.
Talla Unica also informed Four that Mirabel was going to be very important in the very near future, and that he should keep her close.
During the final confrontation with Deorwynn, Talla Unica could do little but watch as her friends were hurt or killed. In the aftermath, others tried to blame her for not doing more, but she insisted it wasn't her fault that Four failed to heed her warnings.
Realizing she had to decide how to do the most good with her powers, she left the group, taking Syzygy with her.
Her name is almost always given as Talla Unica; only in exceedingly rare instances is she referred to only as Talla.
Behind the ScenesEdit
The story of the missing caterpillar baby was told in A Butterfly's Tale, but the character wasn't properly fleshed out, or given a name, until The Quest for the World-Breaker. Mariposa estimates Talla Unica's age to be 11 or 12 by the time of The Curse of the Fate Shifter, but the author's timeline gives Talla Unica's birthdate as unctual year 3876, making her 15 years old in that story.
Talla Unica's story about her adoptive human family does not address the fact that she would have had antennae and pointed ears, even prior to developing her butterfly wings. Given the ever-changing details of this story, its veracity is clearly in question.
Also, remarks made by Talla Unica during The Curse of the Fate Shifter imply that she may have killed her adoptive human mother.
Talla Unica's heritage as half-butterfly, half-Elf was not discovered until Embarrassment of Riches.