Well of Odium
A Lupin Sorcerer whose wolfen tendencies come courtesy of a family curse.
Marrik: Male Arcane Lupin Stalwart Battle Sorcerer 4; Medium Humanoid (Monstrous); HD 4d8+16+8(Stalwart); hp 56; Init +4; Spd 30 ft/x4; AC 18 (+4 Howler Armor, +4 dex), touch 14, flat-footed 14; Base Atk/Grapple +3/+6; Full Atk: Swift (+2 Kukri) +9/+9 One-handed (1d4+3/1d4+3);18-20/x2. SA&SQ:Spellcasting, Armored Mage, Darkvision 60ft, Shifting, Keen sense of smell, Lycanthrope Bane; SR 0; AL NG; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +5; Str 16(+3), Dex 18(+4), Con 18(+4), Int 16(+3), Wis 13(+1), Cha 18(+4);
Feats: Weapon Proficiency (Simple, Kukri, Longbow), Armor Proficiency (Light), Weapon Focus (Kukri), Spell Focus, Combat Casting, Eschew Materials
Racial: Monstrous Humanoid (Immune to Charm Person, Hold Person, etc.); Medium Size; 30 ft land speed; Darkvision 60ft; Acute Sense of Smell (DC 10 Wisdom Check to ID any Lycanthrope within 30 ft, +5 Racial Bonus on Spot, DC 20 Wisdom Check to ID any Invisible or Hidden character within 5 ft); +2 on Ride & Listen Checks; +1 on Attack & Damage vs. Lycans
SHIFT: 3/Day for a duration of 7 rounds each, can assume a werewolf-like form granting the following: +4 Intimidate, +2 STR, -2 CHA, Grants 2 Claw Attacks as Natural Weapons, dealing 1d6+STR MOD each, 2x Crit
Marrik turned the rusty flintlock pistol left and right, testing the weight of it. It was a marvel. Nearly four pounds of crafted wood and steel, it was covered in fine acid-etched knot-work from barrel to pommel. Was it a pommel? Or had Barrows called it simply a grip? No, that was the stock, right. Lock, Stock, Barrel. Marrik mentally labeled the parts of his newest acquisition just as he had been shown. He was sitting high in the crook of an ancient oak tree, waiting.
Of course, he was supposed to be hunting, but as the early morning hours had worn on the black sky had given over to indigo, and only the brightest stars could still be seen. Nothing had come down the deer trail below. In the quiet, he had turned to his pistol for the hundredth time since its purchase. Marrik had scarcely ever seen anything so fine in detail and craftsmanship. Pity it wouldn’t fire… Still, he was fairly certain he could find someone in town to fix it, and then he’d have a real treasure! He pulled back the hammer –that’s the little arm at the top of the lock—and winced at the audible squeak and smoky rust from the mechanism.
Marrik’s amber eyes scanned the forest floor below. Any foreign sound in the forest is felt as much as heard. At a distance, such a strange noise as creaking steel can frighten even the sternest stag, and cost a man his dinner. Wrapping the rusty pistol in its crimson cloth, Marrik pressed the trigger, released the hammer slowly, and tucked the bundle silently into his overcoat pocket. A foolish thing it was, playing with a new toy like a thoughtless young pup, when on a hunt.
There would be time for his flintlock pistol, his raccoon pelts, his bundle of newly-tanned deer hides, and all the rest of his heavy pack, all once he reached Duskenvale. These trips between towns kept him well-paid and in good standing with the storefronts and smithies of the area. The money was exceptional if you could survive the trips through the forests. Most traders did so only in the safety of a caravan, and those were slow in coming. Once a month, a caravan was profitable if you were quick of pace and managed to keep most of your men alive. But for quick turnaround shipments between Abbotsford, Duskenvale, Last Resort, or any of the outlying homesteads, a Ranger was your best bet. And in these remote areas, only Marrik and another man, Durbin, spent much time alone in the woods. And according to Orin the Tanner in Last Resort, Durbin was almost a month late back from Duskenvale. This of course could mean nothing, or worse.
So, Marrik had finished his business in Last Resort, left a load of goods at the General Store, loaded up his pack, and set out on his return trip home. Duskenvale had been home to Sir Marrik, Knight, Freeman, and landowner, and so years later it was home to his son, Marrik, eventually called the Ranger. Marrik now owned a very large collection of stone walls that might once have been a minor castle, but had fallen into disrepair generations ago. The townies called it Marrik’s Ruin. He lived in a wood-and-earth cottage in the Ruin’s courtyard when he was around to take shelter. The Ruin had been uninhabitable when Sir Marrik had been granted it with his knighthood, and the elder had never been much of a stonemason. Nor had he had the money to pay one, so a cottage it was.
This of course was an endless source of friction between the knight and his wife, who –once upon a time—had been married to the great knight as was proper for the fairest maiden in the land and (distant) cousin to the queen. How many years it took for her to realize that her husband the knight was only a fortunate man with a sturdy sword arm and good intentions, their son couldn’t say. But for certain, she had grown to hate the knight, and enlisted the aid of another man to have rid of him.
“I’ll use the blackest magic, curse him foul of fang and fur; Then my lover you shall hunt him, so to slay the wolfen cur…”
Or so the romanticized story went, as told by the bards. Marrik had heard the song, alright. It stung bitterly, all the worse since he knew how things had really happened. His mother had a book of spells. Where she got it, or how she’d learned to use it was anyone’s guess. But there was a curse within its pages to turn man into beast. To cast it, she brewed a potion, drank it down, and tempted the man into her bed. The casting was in the lovemaking. Marrik didn’t know why.
But the spell was cast, man turned into wolf, and was hunted by the witch’s lover. The wolf escaped, for a time, into the woods. The witch, to her horror, only discovered later that Sir Marrik wasn’t the only one to receive unexpected consequences of their tryst. She likely would have killed the child, but her lover believed the baby to be his. He named the baby after himself and raised it as his own. Only the mother knew this was the child of the Wolfen Knight, and she hated the child utterly. The babe quickly became a sign of her secret sin. As the boy grew, he looked increasingly like his father – and worse, sometimes like the wolf he’d become…
A sound along the path..! Marrik woke with a start from his memories. There was nothing good to be gained from that tangled mess. He was a man now. His name and rightful place in the world had become common knowledge along with the story of the Wolfen Knight some years ago in the King’s Court of all places. And although no one else knew the full extent of the tale, nor of his cursed part in it, Marrik received too much attention from the songs as it was.
So, he took his father’s name and moved back to his father’s lands. He avoided people as best he could, and made his living in the woods he had loved as a boy. Only a handful of people in a handful of storefronts and tradesman’s shops had cause to deal with Marrik. He had learned quickly upon his return to Duskenvale that Kalos at the ‘Dwarf had an ear to every need in that town. Abbottsford and Last Resort had their contacts as well, and Marrik traded in goods and services alike between the three towns as a result.
Again, a shuffle down the path… Marrik sniffed the air and grimaced. He smelled blood in the wind.
Shrugging off his overcoat, Marrik took off at a run, dashing along tree branches like a jungle cat. As he leapt from tree to tree, he slid his fiercely curved blades free of their scabbards. A hundred yards out, the coppery scent grew pungent, like drinking vinegar. This was old blood… Suddenly, beneath the mask of sharp copper, he recognized the scent: Durbin! Marrik leapt from the lowest branch of an ironwood to the soft moss beneath. He could tell Durbin’s scent was coming from someplace near. A good deduction pointed him to a thicket. As he charged in, Marrik snarled, his scowl stretching as joints popped and elongated. His teeth sharpened and extended, and his neck and chest thickened, all sinew, muscle, and hair. An instant later, a man with the head and mouth of a wolf slashed his way into the thicket, a terror on giant wolf’s feet!
A porcu-puma – a 60-lb cougar covered nose to tail in 8-inch quills – sprang lightning-quick up and out of the thicket, leaving its meal behind. As it darted past Marrik, its tail whipped about, lashing the wolf-man across the shoulder, leaving a brace of oozing quills in its wake. Marrik drew back and released a thunderous bark, growling and shaking his sword at the spiny cat as it ran. Far too much of him wanted to chase that damned thing and kill it. He squashed that part down with a slow breath and forced himself to relax. Slowly his face, neck, and chest returned to their normal, human states. He sheathed one of his swords. Blood began to trickle down his arm from the 7 long quills which now fanned from his shoulder. The wound burned sharply, the veins purpling and swelling around it, and Marrik knew he’d be drinking the last of his anti-toxin when he returned to camp.
For the moment, Marrik had a more immediate concern. A half-eaten arm lay in uncaring earth before him. He had already recognized the scent as Durbin’s, but the pinky ring proved it beyond doubt.