A young man standing 5`8, he has dark hair, and brown eyes. Very little stands out about him, he wears a standard explorers outfit, though closer inspection would reveal it to have been torn and crudely repaired a number of times.
A towering creature standing over 7` tall, it is brownish orange in color, its skin covered by thick leather and fur. Its hands hold five fingers, each tipped by vicious foot long claws. Three horns sit atop its head, one above each eye, and one centered above the snout. A short muscular tail hangs behind it, and when moving it does so much as an ape would, walking on its hind legs, yet assisting itself with its forelimbs. Its posture seems to be constantly hunched over.
Edmund’s early life was much like that of many other children his day. Born to a life of toil, apprenticing under his father to carry on the family trade, he looked forward to three score and ten years of hard work, and little pay. This was made even worse when the wars came, and his father was called to the front, never to return.
As the eldest son, it fell to Edmund to care and support his family, a job he was not looking forward to, but it had to be done. His training under his father yet unfinished, he joined the town guard, the pay was decent, and the job doable, if not ideal. Eventually however, he managed to secure a position with Godrick, one of the cities leather armor merchants.
On the final day, when he was to meet with his soon to be employer to formalize the agreement for 10 years of service, as he was passing the city gates, he witnessed a caravan of Grey Wardens preparing for an expedition outside. Suddenly, disaster struck, a wagon carying heavy caskets of ale lost a wheel, the barrels rolling across the crowded plaza. One of the Grey Warden’s, weighed down by gear, didn’t manage to leap out of the way of a rolling barrel, and though he survived, his legs were crushed. As he was carried away to the temple for healing, the expedition commander Marcus Gaunt did a count and came to the decision one more person was needed, even if it was just to carry stuff.
Hearing the call to join the expedition, Edmund jumped at the chance, the pay was so much better then even years of work with Godrick would be, besides it would be much more interesting. And with the expedition only lasting a month, he’d have years worth of pay in a much smaller time period. He came forward, offering his services, and while there were some others interested, by luck, or perhaps due to experience as a guard, he was chosen to accompany the expedition.
It was a week and a half stiff march to the ruined tunnels, were scouts had found signs of magical fluctuations, guessed to be another one of Malik’s, or one of his underlings labs. Another 4 days to clear the rubble, while fighting off wandering undead, lost without their master. Marcus believed the number of undead in the region must point to the are being excavated having held some significant value.
Finally, after days of hard work, the tunnel was clear, the ceiling and walls shored up with logs. The expedition made its way through into what lay beyond. Edmund was uncertain whether to call the chamber they entered a lab, or a crypt. The Grey Wardens spread out to search the chamber and its off-shoots, heavily warned not to touch anything that could be magical till it could be examined by an expert.
Alas, struggling for survival with years of little cash, Edmund simply could not resist when he wandered into one of the side rooms already cleared of traps. There, wedged in a corner of a desk, stood a beautiful emerald statuette. He reached for it, quickly snagging it. He was just about to stuff it in his pouch, when a voice spoke from the doorway. “And just what the hell do you think you are doing Grey?” Two things happened at once then. As he spun around to face Markus, Edmund lost his grip on the statuette, and in slow motion, they watched as it fell to the floor, shattering upon impact. There was a bright light, its color beyond description, beyond any possibility of human conception or description.
When Edmund awoke, the first thing he noticed was that he was on the floor. And the ceiling was overgrown with rainbows. Turning his head, he saw Markus, smooth and shiny, like a porcelain doll. His body from the chest down had become one with the floor. It was only then that he noticed he himself felt… distinctly weird. He blinked, and tried to rise to his feet, but he felt all wrong. His weight was off, his arms moved oddly. He looked at his hands, and saw fur, five fingers tipped in vicious foot long claws. He screamed, and it came out as a strangled roar. his jaw was all weird, huge teeth bit at his tongue. He struggled to his feet, and looking down found his entire body was colored a brownish orange, leathery scales covering it. His feet were clawed, and he had a tail! Staggering out of the room, into the main chamber, he was met with… chaos. Like a child had scribbles over a picture of the room, and made it real. He saw remains of some of the other expedition members, in various states of death and life, though none looked to remain so for long. A mirrored section of the wall caught his eye, and he moved towards it, examining himself.
He stood over 7 feet tall, when he straightened, though a natural hunch made him normally stand shorter. He was covered in orangish-brown skin, and spots of fur, his hands ended in huge claws, and he had three horns on his head. One above each eye, and one more on the tip of his… snout?
Fear and panic took hold, roaring, Edmund careened out of the tunnel, and into the forest. It wasn’t till hours later, that he managed to regain control of himself, and miraculously, his form. Still near the campsite, he heard the sounds of a fight going on. Sneaking back, he found that a small shamble of undead had come across the expedition’s survivors, who were fighting back as well as they could.
He rejoined the group, helping fend of the ravenous dead, and for the next couple hours they dutifully searched for additional survivors. A few hours before nightfall, William, the new acting expedition leader, made the call to head back to the nearest village as it seemed unlikely to find any more survivors, and a scout had reported a larger number of undead in the region then the now decimated expedition could deal with.
Having reached the village of Brookshire just after nightfall, rooms were acquired at the inn, and much discussion was put into what had happened. Eventually, long after most of the expedition had retired to their rooms, it was concluded it may have been a trap, that either was supposed to produce these effects, or possibly interacted with one of the shelved experiments.
Edmund had retired to his room as soon as he could, without quite being the first to do so. Alone in his room, with the door locked, he felt his features reverting to the creature. He had managed to maintain his human form, indeed he found that his human form was still the default, what he went to when completely relaxed, or he suspected, was unconscious, but otherwise he had to fight to maintain it. But it just felt wrong now. His limbs were too thin and week, his teeth didn’t seem to fit together right. And he felt so defenseless. Even the sword he grabbed during the fight didn’t seem to offer as much comfort as his claws did. The very posture that came naturally to his human form felt uncomfortable and wrong.
He would have preferred to leave the expedition then and there, spending days forced into his old form did not appeal to him at all, but at the same time he couldn’t very well leave when they were heading his way anyways, not without bringing on questions. The week and a half march back home was the worst he had ever felt.
Most of his payment in the end went to his family, enough to live off of for a couple months, much better then any civilian job could have offered. A hefty sum also went into some books on transmutation. It was certain a civilian life was, for the time, not going to work out, and if he was to take further jobs with the Grey Wardens or anyone else, he would need to fool at least anyone unstudied in the arts, and in time even the skilled, who might come across him that it was normal magic, quite usable by anyone who knew the spell. Not that he’d ever reveal said spell of course, a mage simply must protect his personal spells as well as any Guild protects it’s secrets. A family spell maybe, or better yet, a spell earned by conquest, whether by force or game.