The idea of a failed experiment idea is what I worked with...
And just spun it up a little...
You left it open as to which Pact of the Chain...
So I went with "The Great Old One" on Page 109 of PHB.
I mixed in how the Sheppard's Crook is yours... and why you'd have a flying dog...!
This was very fun, and very easy to write.
I even slid in a Kenny Rogers reference (a nod to my late father who loved Kenny Rogers!)
As always, please give feedback - what you liked, loved, hated, what works, what doesn't!
I love to hear it all!
I have lived all of my life as a simple farmer. I woke up before the sun and would plough the fields with a tool that barely scratched the dirt. Then, I’d spend the next three hours, just as the sun was beginning to rise in the horizon, raking the fields to prepare them to have seeds dropped. Once that was done, I would grab my sickle and go to the fields and cut down what I could before the overbearing heat of the rising sun forced me to take shelter in the shed for several hours, parched beyond belief.
I frequently helped neighboring farms with ploughing and hay making, so that they would in turn assist me when possible; especially when it came to using livestock manure to help fertilize our fields. It was a community that helped one another and stayed close to one another. When a stranger came into our town, they were questioned, often repeatedly, by several people, to see what their intentions of visiting Torehaven were. My best friend, my dog, Nightmane, would growl at anyone he did not find trustworthy (and he was usually right!)
One year, the sun was so uncharacteristically hot, that we called the three months of relentless sun, The Searing Summer. The sun had been so hot that many of the rivers were much lower than they traditionally were since there had not been much snowfall in the nearby mountains. The dried rivers led to dry wells, which led to no water for home or fields, which in turned led to dying farming fields.
It was as if I had been cursed, because during the Searing Summer, my wife Luseal also decided to leave me and our four children. By the end of the Searing Summer, myself and the others of Tornhaven were worn down, thirsty and hungry, so when a mysterious figure in long, velvet black robes, that covered everything but his hands; and only his nose and mouth were visible from his face, slowly walked through Tornhaven, not a single one of us had the strength or desire to question his intentions.
At the Rabbit’s Hole Tavern, he slowly walked in, speaking to no one, and made his way across the room and sat near the fireplace, which was not lit because of the heat emanating throughout the town already. The way he turned and faced the fireplace he seemed to see a fire burning that was not there; he even extended his hands as if warming them against some invisible flame.
I took a sip of my drink; a small glass of water costing three gold because of the rarity of any water to be found and made my way to the mysterious figure. I sat down next to him. “Hello stranger,” my voice rasped, “you’ve come to Tornhaven at a bad time, I’m afraid. We have little in the way of food, due to no water and the animals seeking food elsewhere. The few livestock most of have we’ve only eaten if they perished from dehydration. We don’t have much for you. But I’ve spoken Vertan and he said he can get you a room for twenty gold. He understands that seems outrageously expensive, but with our,” I was cut off as the man reached into a pouch and handed me a bag of gold that weighed as much as two hundred gold.
“I’ll take it,” his voice hissed like a serpent. His lifted his cowl slightly as I caught my breath. Not only did he hiss like a serpent when he spoke, his eyes had slits like a serpent that glowed beneath his cowl. “You look like you’re strong.”
I tried to break away from his gaze; but there was something hypnotic about how he spoke and the way his pupils seemed to vibrate back and forth so quickly. “I work in the fields every day,” I replied; and though I spoke the words I was not in control of myself and I could tell I wasn’t. I wanted to scream but no words emerged.
He pulled his cowl over his eyes once more and hissed, “Come, let us go for a walk, and tell me about Torehaven.”
Though I could not see his eyes I could still not break from his hold. I rose to my feet as he did and gestured politely for him to walk in front of me. We walked out of the Rabbit Hole and I waved to Vertan as if nothing were wrong though my soul were screaming desperately for someone to help me. Uncontrollably, I told him how Torehaven had been formed by a band of runaway slaves who had escaped the clutches of the Dark Elves – better known as The Drow. We had all grown up as slaves to the Drow and used to being slaves, forced to farm and often be sacrificed to their dark goddess, Lolth.
The stranger seemed to snicker at the notion that Lolth was a goddess. “Calling herself a goddess these days is she?” he hissed between chuckles. “She’s always been such an arrogant one, that one.”
I directed him to my home and explained how the drought had killed the fields that were once lush with life. I opened the barn doors and showed him my emaciated livestock. As I turned to leave, he hissed the word, “Stop” and I froze in my tracks cursing that I could not control my own body.
He touched my face as he pulled back his cowl, revealing a humanoid look, with eyes of a serpent, a smile lined with two large fangs, and golden skin with scales.
“What are you,” I managed to utter.
“What I am won’t matter to you soon,” he laughed. “You see, I travel from town to town, collecting one soul along the way, as to not draw too much attention to myself. I am rebuilding myself, collecting the purity of soul energy into myself so I can return to the Heavens and dethrone these ‘new gods’ who claim to rule the heavens; each and every single one of them.”
He began drawing a circle on the barn floor around me. The sheep and rams in the barn, here to protect them from the desperate predators circling the farms, looking for anything to eat, spoke in volumes their concern of what they felt.
His talon raked down my chest, ripping my shirt open. “Tala-mon,” he snapped his fingers and suddenly I was floating in the center of the circle.
“This, I fear,” he began to hiss, “will be extremely painful.” He looked up at me, “For you.”
“Bela-ros tuh-mere aba-den,” he began to chant.
And pain would never be accurate for what I felt. Imagine a thousand hooks beneath the layer of flesh, suddenly, slowly, and deliberately painfully being pulled in every direction. Now imagine that, doused in alcohol, with a thousand cuts upon your flesh. Now imagine a searing fire beneath you, melting your skin like warm wax. That might begin to describe a fraction of the pain.
My eyes fluttered to the back of my head as I felt numbness from my toes work their way up my body, finally reaching my heart, and then I saw it.
My soul. My actual soul was drifting above my body.
Suddenly a being in white robes, angelic, fiery wings, of pure white light appeared. “Bezarar, I’ve found you! Stop this madness!”
Bezarar, the serpent being, laughed, “You are already too late Thyordin! A few more souls and I will ascend and tear this world apart.”
The being of white energy looked at me, “Do you trust me?”
I stared at my hands which were fading away. “Do I have much choice?”
“I can restore you,” Thyordin shouted quickly, “to break Bezarar’s spell on you! But … he has already pulled your soul from your body. I cannot promise that you will return as you were.”
All I could think of was my four children; their mother had left them, if I died, all they would have is Nightmane and the community.
“I accept, no matter the cost!”
Thyordin pulled out a gleaming two handed sword made of pure light and severed the tie between me and Bezarar and suddenly my being shattered into a thousand pieces. I felt myself torn into a million pieces, thrown together, ripped apart again, thrown together, then ripped apart, and then blackness.
My eyes fluttered open and the first thing I could see was my hands.
“What happened to me?” I was shocked at my own voice which was considerably deeper. I looked around and there’d been no sign of Bezarar or Thyordin.
Had it all been a dream? I tried to stand but felt like my body was still broken. I leaned heavily on the Sheppard’s Crook that had been leaning against the pen. It burst with energy sending searing pain through my body that once again dropped me to my knees. I pulled myself on the Sheppard’s Crook again and began to hobble towards my home. As I opened the door, my four daughters screamed and ran away.
I chased after them until I passed by a mirror.
“No,” I whispered.
I was a foot taller than I was before; but more strangely, I appeared to be a cross between a human and a ram; similar to what Minotaurs looked like, but I had curved horns of a ram.
“My soul,” I whispered, “has been thrust into a ram’s body!”
I quickly ran back to the barn and grabbed a tattered blanket and threw it over my head and hunched over. As I walked out of the barn, Nightmane ran up to me and I immediately noticed how his eyes glowed.
I heard a voice in my head which belonged to Thyordin. “I apologize for the state in which you have been left. I could not let you walk this world alone so I have bestowed your best friend with a gift,” and just then Nightmane sprung out wings from his side. “I believe there is a way to undo what’s been done, but both Bezarar and I are from an ancient time long ago; ancient magic was used, long forgotten by the people of the world… but one day, you may find what is needed to restore you to who you once were.”
With Nightmane at my side, I returned to the Rabbit’s Hole and waited outside, hunched over so I wasn’t my new towering self, and waited for Vertan to leave. As he closed up I kept my distance and said, “My friend, I will need you to watch my daughters.”
Vertan turned, startled. “What are you doing hiding in that cloth? And did you know the stranger never came back to sleep in his room? Free two hundred gold for you and I, I say.”
“Use it to watch over my daughters,” I said, trying to prevent my voice from being so deep.
“What’s wrong with you? Why are you hiding under that? And what’s wrong with your voice?” Vertan asked, stepping closer.
“Stay there,” I snapped. “Listen the stranger inflicted me with a sickness. I am off to the main city to find a cure. But I need to know my daughters will be safe.”
“Of course, of course,” Vertan nodded. “I will pray to the gods that a cure can be found. I will go gather your daughters now. Treat them as my own, I will.”
“Thank you, Vertan.”
That was almost two years ago; my youngest is now eight seasons old, while my oldest is now eighteen. I have wandered the world seeking this “cure” that Thyordin said may exist… One perk of this new form seems to be that my entire body radiates magic…
My name is Wollhelm Woolfgangson, and I am more beast than man.