When you work as a rogue, you pick up an eye for treasure, and as soon as Avoy laid eyes on that dagger, even at that distance, he knew he was looking at something that would fetch him a hefty price with the right buyer. It wasn’t like anything he had seen or heard of before, and working in this area, you came to be familiar with the kinds of magic that were around here. Sure, a decent enchanter could do help you out with a blade, but the kind of stuff he was watching–it took real emotion and purpose to imbue an item with that sort of power, whatever it might be doing. Sacrifice, even. A little theft would probably throw a wrench into the clan’s attack plans as well, since it seemed like the dagger was a key part of what they were doing. Losing it would buy the monastery some time–that, or the clan would ravage them looking for it, but with a token like that as a prize, he might not even go back to the monastery at all and just let the two sides duke it out.
When the ritual was complete, he tracked the dagger as best he could. It stayed with the shaman, who went into a smaller tent–probably his living quarters–and when he came out, the sheathed knife was gone from his waist, and he headed towards a large tent where the chieftain had gone, probably to strategize. This was his chance–and he’d have to be quick.
He scampered down the side of the outcropping where he’d been perched, a bit too quickly to be quiet or careful, but he managed to survive with just a couple of scrapes. He hadn’t bothered to memorize the patrols, but orcs weren’t exactly known for their guard prowess–he slipped through without too much trouble, and headed for the tent where he figured the dagger had to be.
He found it, and thankfully it was both unguarded and empty. That alone had Avoy doubting himself–if the thing was as powerful as he thought it might be, then why would they risk leaving it unprotected like this? He pulled a ward stone from his back, but it remained dull when he held it around the small tent–there were no traps that he could see, magic or otherwise. Perhaps he was just lucky? Best to be careful in any case. He poked around, and it wasn’t long before he found the sheathed dagger resting on a weapon mount beside the bed, reeking of orcish sweat and musk–enough to turn his stomach a bit. He picked it up, carefully, and pulled the dagger from the sheath a couple of inches just to make sure he had what he thought he had–and the light–this close to it, it felt like it was scorching his eyes. He slammed the dagger back into the sheath, but it was too late–he could…feel something in his head, a voice almost. Something raging around. Was it a curse? He didn’t know, but he’d come too far to second guess his decision now. He put the dagger in his pack and bolted out the tent and escaped the camp as quickly as possible. He’d just passed the outer line of guards when the horn sounded–his thievery had been discovered, and he didn’t have quite the head start he would have liked.
But something was wrong with him, he could tell now. He felt clumsy, legs and feet louder and heavier than they should have been. His clothes were hot and tight. His teeth hurt, his muscles ached–whatever this curse was, it was acting fast. Perhaps he should head towards the monastery after all–they would be a good bet to figure out what had happened to him and fix him. He didn’t make it that far, however.
He made it down the mountains and back into the thick forest between the camp and the monastery in the foothills, but the chills and aches were getting worse and worse. He slipped down a bank and tumbled down into a muddy rut, and he didn’t have the strength to climb back up–all he could do was huddle there, a voice still raging inside him, screaming really. It wasn’t his voice, it couldn’t be, but why did it seem familiar?
He awoke sometime the next morning–not too late that the morning chill had burnt off, but late enough that he could see well enough around him. It took him a moment to scrape the mud off and realize that something was wrong with his skin–it wasn’t the pale pink from before–instead, it was almost green-grey. He’d seen skin like that before in only one place–on the hides of half orcs.
He sat up, looked at the rest of himself, and in the course of the night, he had literally burst out of his clothes. He was close to six and a half feet tall, packed with muscle, small tusks threatening to push their way out of his mouth–whatever that dagger had done to him, it had turned him into a fucking half-orc! It wasn’t a simple polymorph either–those you could…feel your old body pushing back underneath it, looking for a weak point in the magic to break back out. This felt…normal. Like this is what his body had always been.
He gathered up the stuff that had fallen from his pack, including the sheathed dagger, and sat for a moment on the slope above the mud, and tried to figure out what to do next. The monastery might help him…but the monks had strict laws about allowing anyone with orcish blood into the place, which made sense given the animosity. Perhaps heading back to the camp would give him an answer–but they wouldn’t be happy to see him, and he wasn’t changed enough to pass as one of them. The question was answered for him, when he heard a rustle and a shout–someone had spotted him from above, and had their bows trained on him–but who?
Here’s the next poll! Patrons of course have their own bonus entry to read, and their own poll that they can vote in, to see what happens along the alternate course of the story.