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Qabian

Fire Wolf (Race Bending Contest)

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Qabian    69

((I didn't originally post a description of the base character because of a failure of reading comprehension. But! For the sake of posterity, I'm editing it in now, long after contest closes~))

Qabian Grimfire is an arrogant, narcissist, criminal, murderer of a blood elf fire mage. He is a Magister of Silvermoon who works proudly alongside The Grim in their mission for Peace through Annihilation, though it's no secret he's in it for the Annihilation, not the Peace. Most importantly, he never, ever apologizes.

This is not his story.

~~~~

When Caleb Goldwater woke up in the pillory, the first thing he felt was relief. The fight was finally over. He had lost, and yet, he lived.

“You’ll be fine,” a voice behind him said.

He barked a laugh. He couldn't turn to see who spoke, and he didn't recognize the slight foreign accent. “You think this is fine?”

“Of course. You will learn to control it.” A night elf woman in green and brown robes stepped out in front of him.

“Control?” he growled. “You speak as though you haven't seen what this does. There is no control.”

She reached out a hand and lifted his chin. He turned away from her as best he could within his restraints. “You’ve seen too much,” she said.

“That passes as insight where you’re from?” he snapped.

“You do not need to be afraid,” she continued, unfazed.

“I fear nothing. Least of all you,” he snarled.

“Good.” She smiled at him, sweetly, pityingly. “Let me show you.”

For some time after, all he felt was pain.

===

In the weeks before the Cataclysm, Caleb’s family had fallen prey to the violence, one by one.

His older brother was killed in an organized skirmish. The entire patrol had been overwhelmed by the frenzy of a single beast.

His younger brother was dragged off into the night. They met again much later, and Caleb did not hesitate to put down the boy with whom he had once spent every evening telling tall tales.

When his father became ill, bitten on the way home from trying to scavenge rations, the old man begged his surviving son to kill him. Caleb’s mother fought to save the man she loved. Their son killed them both.

Perhaps there was mercy in granting the father's request over the protests of the mother, but ultimately the actions were practical ones prioritizing survival, of his people, yes, but primarily of himself.

===

As a child, Caleb had been a bit cold, standoffish, standing to one side and watching while his brothers played. As he came to understand Gilnean class dynamics, he slowly believed his middle class birth was immensely unfair, a disservice to his clearly superior intellect.

He learned to read at a small schoolhouse alongside three other children who weren’t related to him, and immediately developed a habit of stealing books. Caleb’s parents would find the ill-gotten goods in his room and demand he return them, but that didn’t deter him from continuing to steal. He simply treated the entire town as his personal library. 

The day he stole from a small tower in the woods, his life changed for what he believed to be the better. The tome he pocketed revealed secrets of basic magic, and when he returned it, as he parents forced him to do, the wizard who lived in the tower offered to take young Caleb as an apprentice.

The wizard’s meager, wild residence hid the fact that the man was welcomed in the great homes of nobles and royalty. The portals within led to the places Caleb believed the world owed to him. While he was ordered to keep his new life a secret from his family and the village, he spent his days nearly on an even footing with princes, as his patron was beloved for his skill in combat, his eloquent speeches, and startlingly beautiful demonstrations of magic. The wizard was requested to attend or perform at scores of gatherings, and of course always welcome to bring his surprisingly precocious young apprentice.

Caleb was content in his double life, pretending he was poor yet providing for his family each night, improving his knowledge and dancing with dilettantes all day. Magic opened the world for him.

When the beasts came, Caleb fought them with the magic he had learned and he fought them well, but in the end, as they always do, they overwhelmed.

===

The next time Caleb woke, he found himself in a soft bed. The stretched flesh, the alien warmth of fur, the agony in his limbs, the fury that burned at his brain, it was all absent. Everything was as cold and smooth as it had always been.

If he hadn't been living the nightmare for so long, he might have actually thought it was a dream. The night elf who had spoken to him earlier sat at his bedside. “I told you that you would be fine.”

He said nothing and turned away from her.

“Are you angry?”

“No.”

There was a long silence between them.

“Come outside,” she said. “Wear the clothing here.”

He felt her pat the foot of the bed, heard the motion of her chair on the floor, then the door closing behind her.

He wasn't particularly prompt, but did as she asked. He emerged wearing the familiar plain robes of his apprenticeship to find her standing with her back to him outside the small house in the woods. If they were the woods he knew, it was a part of them he had never seen before.

He said nothing.

Suddenly, she turned and slapped him.

He put his hand to his cheek as it began to redden, but maintained his silence, showing his lack of understanding solely by the curve of his brow.

“Fight me,” she said.

“Why would I do that?” he asked. “You're not one of them. I am.”

“Yes,” she said, and stretched out an arm. Searing starlight wracked his body and he stumbled backward.

“W-What--”

“Fight or die!” she shouted, raising her arms again.

Instinct took over. With a gesture of his own, he silenced her spell mid-cast and followed up with a wave of fire of his own. As he did, he dropped to his knees, screaming in pain as his body shifted back to the bestial form that had landed him in the pillory.

“Good,” she said. Her body glittered green as the damage from his magic repaired itself. “Now change back.”

He snarled.

“No,” she instructed. “To return to your true form, you must harness the beast within. Leash him to your will. Find the calm that drives his fury.”

He stared at her, but if he was attempting to do as she asked, it was difficult to tell.

“You may find peace among the trees,” she said, putting a hand on his thick, curving back and directing him toward the woods.

He moved with her as she guided him, and he did find the peace there. He stared down at his own body with analytical curiosity as the bestial aspects he had taken on slid away, revealing the human beneath.

“This...” He held out a hand, a flickering flame travelling across his very human, pink fingertips. “This is no longer my true form,” he said.

The night elf tilted her head. “It is the one you were born with.”

“The man who was born was slain by the wolf.”

She shook her head. “No. Now they are one. They are in balance.”

He turned to face her with a slow smirk. He offered her his hand in a manner that would ordinarily be considered friendly, but was somehow off.

She reached out to take his hand warily.

He grabbed her forearm and pulled her toward him. “Now it is your turn to fight or die,” he whispered in her ear. He pressed a hand to her chest and a blast of flame slammed her backward, tearing her from his grip as she crashed against a tree trunk.

The wolf took over, but the agony from the shifting was brief. As the night elf struggled to her feet, shimmering with healing magic, Caleb gestured with a dark claw, silencing her spell mid-cast. He brought his massive, gnarled, hairy hands together and fire descended from the sky over the woman’s head. He stepped towards her, throwing fire with each step. 

Her skin turned to bark, but whatever defenses she was trying to put in place were too late. She shrieked as her body succumbed to the flames. He leaned over her fallen form, snuffling at the ashes. “The man is dead,” he growled. “Thank you for the gift of allowing me to kill him myself. You are the first to underestimate me, and will not be the last.” He loped off into the woods.

The howling that rose to the moon that night was accompanied by billowing smoke as the forest burned.

Edited by Qabian
added in that original description

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