Curse of Strahd

A Time to Despair

The backstory!

“You thought you could betray ME?!” The Old One, a Being Who Should Not Exist, screams in outrage at the slight figure standing before him. “I gave you my power through the Pact. I GAVE you the power to fulfill your lifes mission. Many have felt your vile touch and ended up exactly as you desire! HOW DARE YOU REFUSE TO UPHOLD YOUR END OF OUR BARGAIN!!!”

The small figure smiles defiantly up at his ‘benefactor’. “Our bargain was your power for my soul. Your power has been granted and my soul is forfeit BUT your end of the bargain is not complete.” He takes a low, mocking bow. His next words drip with venom. “My lord.”
“The bargain was for your power until I can fill the world with my namesake! Many suffer but not nearly enough! Not even by half! I say it is YOU who is trying to betray our bargain!” Crimson eyes flash in a brilliant display of rage and power.

The Old One glares angrily down at the young tiefling and tries to find flaw in his logic but cannot. He is indeed trying to take the soul of this powerful yet headstrong warlock. But he will not admit defeat nor admit he was trying to cheat. So he took it upon himself to alter the situation in his favor. He became fixated on erasing this foolish mortal from existence. Drawing forth the entirety of his incredible power, the Old One unleashed a wave of force with a singular purpose. To destroy all it touches. This included the forest around them, the countless numbers of creatures within and most importanly the annoyingly smug warlock Despair.

But before that destructive wave could harm a single cell of anything within its range the world shifted. All color drained from the sky, the leaves, the creatures and even the power unleashed from the Old One. All became motionless, stopped in the moment. All save for the Old One and Despair. And one other.

“I think that will be QUITE enough out of the two of you!” Chronos bellowed as he stepped forth through a rift in time. “I absolutely despise stopping time like this but you’ve left me with no other alternative. Do you know how much energy this takes?! The only larger drain on my power came from a group of fools traveling backwards in time to try and rewrite history!” The powerful figure of the Lord of Time stopped in the direct center between the Old One and Despair. He turned his fury first to the Old One.

“This is your SECOND warning in as many aeons! You can’t simply destroy an entire ecosystem because of the irritation caused by a mortal! Any further infractions will result in erasure!”

The Old One’s head shifted forward. Not quite a bow but more of a sad, sulking measure. “What’s the use of all this power if I can’t destroy the things that irritate me?”

Chronos shook his head and waved his hand in a negligent manner. “You can destroy your irritants, by all means! Just KEEP the destruction to what is irritating you! No more mass destruction unless brought about by prophesy!”

“Yes Lord Chronos.” the Old One intoned sadly. As he turned away and began sliding back to his own plane of existence a lowly muttered “Asshole.” could be heard faintly before he disappeared altogether.

Chronos finally turned to face Despair who had been watching the Old One get torn a new orifice with the greatest amusement. “Wipe that smile off your face, insect!” Despair’s face melted from amusement to glaring hatred.

“I am no in…” “SILENCE! You continue to exist ONLY because I did not want to listen to this Plane’s protector file a complaint! I’ve been keeping my eye on what you’ve been doing with this power.” Chronos held up a hand to stop the protest he knew was coming. “Yes, yes. I know. ‘I am Despair. My goal in life is to spread my namesake to the world that shunned me simply for existing.’ I am WELL aware of your intentions, your reasons. I even don’t begrudge you your desire either. You mortals, who live so briefly yet so fiercely, are free to live your lives as you see fit. No. What I have been watching is HOW you’ve been doing it. Using the power granted from the Old One to twist the minds of those around you into doing things they should not do and only freeing their minds when the task is complete so they can live the rest of their lives in utter misery at doing precisely what they would never do.”

At this point Chronos paused to take a breath from his tirade and gave Despair some time to speak. However limited that time would be depended on how Despair answered. “I used magic to charm those heartless bastards, yes. I cannot nor will I deny it. I’m proud of it. BUT! I did not twist any minds. Every person charmed. Every person who did such unspeakable acts. Did so because the desire to do it was within them in the first place! A husband’s desire to remove his family from the picture so he could have the woman that wanted nothing to do with him when she found he was married. A child’s desire to kill their friend so they can have that coveted toy. All we mortals possess darkness. I simply help them draw it out!”

Chronos looks thoughtfully down at Despair, stroking a beard that seems to eternally shift from the coarse black bristles of youth to the gray wispy strands of old age. “You have a point, warlock. All you mortals do in fact possess darkness. But few act on it. And those majority that do not, do not for a reason you have failed to pick up on. All mortals ALSO possess light within them. That husband wouldn’t have ever acted on his desire because his desire was fleeting. That woman completed his soul. His children gave him reason to lead a good life to set an example for his legacy. That child would never have acted on the impulse to kill his friend because he knew his friend was always willing to share his toys with his friend. You see only the darkness, Despair. Because you have blinded yourself to the light.”

Stormy gray eyes bore into the mortal before him. “Very well. I WAS going to destroy you utterly for your actions but I will not, now. I will give you a chance. This moment and all before it will be forgotten by you. By even your very body. I will turn back the clock for you and you alone. Your body will de-age to the point before your magical studies led you to forming a pact with the Old One. You will forget all spells and all powers granted by him. You will forget all time from that moment until now. All moments save for the knowledge that you became a warlock. The knowledge that you wished to fill the world with despair. And the knowledge that something profound has changed. And this shall all happen.”

NOW!” Despair shouts as he wakes from his dream. “Bloody nightmares! Always shocking you awake and leaving you with a feeling of dread but no recollection of what the damn thing was about!” The sound of crunching paper turns his crimson gaze to what is held in his hand. Unfurling the length of parchment he begins to read. “An invitation from….Lady Morwen? To her estate in Daggerford? What in the planes is a ‘death house’?” After some brooding over what to do and taking some time to shake off the remaining feeling of dread from that dream, a small smile tugged at his sinuous lips. “Maybe these folks need a little despair in their lives. And Despair is only to happy to provide!”

As he exits a house he cannot for the life of him remember living in, he utters in a voice dripping with venom words he doesn’t remember uttering a thousand times before. “I just hope there aren’t any bloody halflings!”

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