“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble.” – William Shakespeare
You awaken; locked behind the bars of a cage. The crisp autumn wind rattles the gibbet and your prison waves back and forth. Your breathe looks like dragon’s fire as you exhale. Your cage suspends from an old tree branch. The rope holding your cage is thin and worn. Be careful, you think, for if you move too much, the rope could snap and you’ll fall to a very untimely demise.
“Oh, Aggie, this one’s finally awake!”, a voice shrieks from below.
As you look down to find the speaker, you see a creature hobbling towards you; its back hunched over and left leg lagging, slightly. You lock eyes with the creature, whose resemblance is somewhat human-like. The creature grins at you, revealing its empty mouth. Its teeth are completely rotted away and what’s left is jagged and putrid. Its nose, long and crooked to the left. It’s hair, thin, long, and unkept. Its eyes, green and black; unnatural.
“Let me go!”, you call from the trees.
“Ha Ha Ha. Oh no, child, let you go? But won’t you stay for supper?”
The woman waves her hand and the rope holding your cage is released. You begin to fall. You think you’re going to collide with the ground when suddenly, she lifts her hand again. With a very soft motion, she catches you just before land. You hover over the ground. She walks away, back towards where she came. Your cage follows her, hovering over the ground.
“Aggie, get that pot ready!”, the creature yells.
You look around the area, trying to see if anything looks familiar. Up in the trees, you see more gibbets hanging. Rotted corpses lay in the cages. A putrid stench perfumes down from them. Ahead of you, you see the witch brings you to a small cottage built into a tree. Leaves hang from this trees branches, but they are not lively. The leaves hang lifeless, frozen in place, as if a magical force is holding them there.
The creature makes their way to the door and it opens before she reaches it, without laying a hand on the doorknob. Inside, it is dark. Small candles illuminate places of the room, but not nearly enough to see everything. A roaring fire in the center of the room create harsh shadows which dance along the furthest wall.
Another creature is seen inside, looking quite similar to the one carrying you. She presides over the roaring fire and the cauldron on top of it. Bubbles fly out of the cauldron and pop in the air. Whatever is isn’t boils greatly. The witch carrying you drops her spell. Your cage lands on the floor with a loud crash.
“Look at the little one, Aggie. Isn’t it cute? Hahaha!”, The witch shrieks. “Don’t play with your food, Agatha. Leave the child be.”, The other responds.
You realize what these creatures are; Hags. Witches from the forest’s depths. And you’re their prisoner, which means it won’t be long before they either eat you or experiment on you; weaving you into some kind of abomination. In order to survive, you’ll have to either outsmart them, or slay them. Slaying them will be too challenging, as they have greater numbers and you are one person, unarmed. Your eyes dart around the room, looking for something, anything, that may help you escape.
The witch maintaining the cauldron walks over to a glass cabinet and opens the door. Inside are a collection of vials, all glowing and sparking in different colors. She collects one vial that sparkles purple, closes the door, and makes her way back to the cauldron. She opens it up and empties its contents inside of the cauldron. The boiling concoction slows to a silence. She looks back and forth, unamused. She takes the vial and drinks the remaining contents, then smashes the bottle on the floor, screaming in a rage. The other hag takes a few paces back, avoiding the fury, laughing. The enraged hag extends her hands at the base of the cauldron and flames erupt from her skin. She screams in pain, as the cauldrons contents let out an incredible steam.
The steam fills the room making it hard to breathe. It clouds your vision and you lose sight of them for a moment. The hags begin to laugh a moment later. A hand grabs on to your cage, pulling the door open. Another hand reaches in and grabs your wrist, hauling you out of the cage, free. The hag doesn’t release you and begins dragging you towards the cauldron. The laughter of both hags ensue as you try to force yourself away.
Closer and closer you get to the cauldron. You have moments left to make a decision before you’re thrown into the boiling pot. In an effect to break from from its grasp, you bit down hard on the hag’s hand. It screams in pain, as blood pours out from its hand. It releases you and you dash towards the cabinet filled with vials. The other hags runs to the aid of its companion.
“You fool!”, The hag cries at you. “You’ve tasted our blood! You’re not edible anymore!”
A foul taste appears in your mouth, as you realize you the hag’s blood now covers your mouth. You spit up, as much as you can, but it doesn’t make a difference. The foul taste does not fade.
The hag you bit, turns to you, holding its crippled hand and says: “Fine, we won’t eat you, but you’ll die for this, regardless!” The hag rushes towards you with its arms extended. You turn, and as fast as you can grab the small cabinet containing those vials and pull it down with all the force you can muster.
The cabinet crashes on the floor. Glass shatters everywhere. Colors of potions fly through the air. Vials roll across the floor. The hags try desperately to retrieve what they can, swearing at you and crying for help. Two vials roll to your feet. You grab them, briskly, and throw them into the boiling cauldron!
“NO!” The injured hag cries.
A blast of fire sends you flying into the furthest wall. The cauldron explodes, incinerating the hags where they stand. You lose your vision for a moment and the room fades to black.
Some time later, you awaken on the floor of the cottage. Your vision is blurry. You stand to your feet and look down at your hands. Something has changed. Warts cover your hands and they tremble, softly. Your teeth hurt and your feet feel weak. In front of you, you see the destroyed cauldron and the two casualties standing around it. The hags who sought to eat you now stand frozen in place as burnt statues, dead. The encounter resulted in their death, but you did not escape unscathed. You feel your face and it feels different, like leather. Something is definitely wrong.
You search for a mirror, or window, anything to see your reflection. You find a window, but it’s covered in soot. You grab a cloth from the floor and wipe the window. To your surprise, you don’t see your reflection. Instead, it’s something else. It frightens you. You reflection looks much like the hags, but not entirely, you still see parts of you in there. You’ve aged greatly. You’ve changed. The encounter has, in fact, warped you into something else. With a screech of disgust, you fall to the floor, tears welling in your eyes. Then you see it; a book. Laying there on the floor, covered in scorch marks from the explosion, is the Necronomincon of these hags. All their secrets and all their spells, now at your disposal. All they knew is now available to you.
A feeling of excitement comes over you. A feeling you have never felt before. This was something new, something devious. You open up their evil book and for a moment the writing looks like a form of gibberish, something you couldn’t possibly understand. Then, before your eyes, the words become clear and you can understand everything they’ve written. A whole new world of possibility has opened to you.
– – –
Time passes and eventually, you realize that your new, deformed body is unacceptable to the outside world. People see you as a monster, a creature, that should be slain. You’re not fully a hag, but you’re not fully a human anymore. You’re a Hexblood. And so, you go to the one place where creatures like you can and will be accepted, the circus. You enlist in Cirque Serendipity, the traveling circus, as a fortune teller. The spells provided in the hag’s spell book have allowed you to create magic and mystery, and so, you study all you can about theatrics and storytelling with magic. Eventually, you become an incredible shadow sorcerer, able to create magical experiences filled with shock and awe for your patrons.
Word begins to spread about an old hag who tells fortunes for coin with a traveling circus. When you learn of this, it upsets you. You were young and vibrant. The past you was a sight to behold. So, you start wearing a cloak over your face, hiding your true form. Then, when your patrons begin to describe their desires, dreams, and virtues, you use your magic to alter your appearance, then reveal yourself to the patrons, leaving them spectacularly amazed. Word continues to spread of your great success. Many seek to hear your fortunes and learn more of their impending futures.
– – –
The Hexblood Sorcerer is built using the Gothic Lineage races featured in Unearthed Arcana January 2021. This character begins at level 3, but where it ends is up to you! I can’t wait to see what adventures this character experiences.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in