Name: Dendikash â€œDendeâ€ Daceran
Grippli (2â€™ tall frog folk)
Dende stands at 2â€™2â€, his skin a hue of lime green, speckled with black spots and giving off the slightest sheen of a swampy slickness. His palms and soles are tinted in a deeper forest green. His eyes bulge from his skull when not covered in goggles, blood red with no divider between sclera and iris, his pupils black and slitted like those of a cat. Unlike other gripplis or amphibian-adjacent creatures, Dende has pronounced bottom canines that protrude ever so slightly past his bottom lip. The webbing between his fingers shows signs of scorch marks, but remain intact.
His usual attire consists of a deep, black trench coat emblazoned with stripes of red on the collar, decked out with small pockets sewn on across the entire surface areas of both the inside and outside of the coat to the side seam, each pocket carrying a small amount of alchemical components and reagents, as well as various vials. Paired with the coat is a thin black belt with a rose-gold buckle to keep the coat clasped when necessary. Over his eyes he typically wears a pair of thick, black-lensed protective goggles. While he does own a pair of pants and shoes, they are specifically saved for formal occasions, academic gatherings, and in case of public speaking; Otherwise, Dende will insist on going commando and barefoot, citing a need for â€œunrestrained movementâ€. He typically wears a small backpack, thoroughly pocketed and compartmentalized like his trench coat.
A chilled wind courses through the Vargas Swamp, moonlight filtering through the trembling branches upon every tree. As the closest thing to a body of water in the heart of the Katapesh desert, the swamp hummed with arcane energies, wisps of magic floating along the current of the winds. Both the breeze and light barely break through the cracks of the log cabin in the heart of the wetland where a young half-orc is hard at work.
Inside, we see Dendikash Dumag Daceran, a 5â€™10â€, 21-year-old Half-Orc/Half-Elf draped in a drab brown cloak, hunched over a workstation littered with scraps of parchment, small bowls filled with varying powders and pastes, and a retort and alembic bubbling away, distilling a pale green liquid. Mounted above this table is a weathered tome, transcribed in a language long since lost to the ages, heavily annotated to where the margins on the page have become near-non-existent. Atop the page, written loud and clear in the common tongue, is a header: â€œULTIMA MUTAGEN (?)â€
Dende watches intently as the distilled concoction drips drop by drop into the positioned vial, his pointed ears twitching in eager anticipation as the vial fills. â€œCâ€™mon...câ€™monâ€¦â€ As he feels the draft from outside creep its way indoors, he rubs his hands together - He had ventured to quite a few outside worlds in his pursuit of magical knowledge, though he found it fitting that it should all bring him back to his homeworld of Katapesh. He needed somewhere brimming with arcane power in order to synthesize what he seeked - a transformative solution derived from the most ancient of magics, Ultima. A potential vaccine against illness, weakness...darkness, evenâ€¦
Dende snapped out of his distracted state and turned his eyes back to the vial, now filled to beneath the lip of the glass. â€œYes!â€ He jumped up to his feet and checked his timepiece - 11:58 PM - impeccable timing. As the witching hour drew near, Dende began to perform the ritual he had translated from the ancient tome, his hands tracing the shapes of runes into the air while murmuring the incantations in a forgotten tongue he had painstakingly translated.
By 11:59, the air began to grow thick as arcane energy began to permeate through the cracks of the log cabin, circling around Dendeâ€™s hands in a pulsing glow. The alchemist steadied his near-trembling hands as he reached for the vial to complete the spell.
â€œFuun di dipast grub fun di zibn heldn tsu di shpits fun himl, di velt vet tsitern!
From the deepest pit of the seven hells to the very pinnacle of the heavens, the world shall tremble!â€
With the vial held above his hood, Dendeâ€™s voice reverberated against the walls of the shack as the magic encircling his palms poured into the vial.
The green liquid took on a blinding light as the watch hit midnight, and Dende downed the potion in one gulp.
For a moment, the winds drew to a halt as the cabin sat beneath the glow of the high moon.
Not a second later, the shack violently exploded.
The straw roof practically disintegrated in the blast, and the stacked logs that once formed walls were propelled outward in all directions, planted in many instances like large, lumbering javelins embedded into the muck of the bog. All that remained on the small plot of land was a scorched crater where the shack once stood.
In the center of that crater lay Dende, covered in soot and a state of shock. His ears were ringing relentlessly, his head pounding, his body aching, yet less than heâ€™d have thought it would. Knowing he had to move, he crawled his way to the edge of the water - his legs wouldnâ€™t carry him properly.
He reached his hands into the water to rinse out his eyes, yet as he lifted his cupped hands to his face, he began to notice extra skin between his fingers. No, not skinâ€¦ â€œ...Webbing?â€ He continued to rinse off his face, then attempted to catch his reflection in the water, only to find that it wasnâ€™t his reflection anymore. What stared back at him from the rippling mirror was...wasâ€¦
â€œ...a Grippliâ€¦oh dear...â€
Dende pulled back onto his rear, sitting up as he only began to fathom the consequences of his actions. He had flown too close to the sun in his thinly-veiled quest for power, and he would have to grapple with the ramifications of his hubris for a long while. He wasnâ€™t certain if the magic he had called upon was truly Ultima, but whatever it was was powerful nonetheless; this wouldnâ€™t be an easy fix, IF it could even be fixed.
â€œI...I guess this is me now.â€
Dende was born and raised in the desert world of Katapesh. His mother, Durgat, is an Orcish War Alchemist and his father, Falaa-Fel, is an Elven bard. While Katapesh was never taken by the Heartless during the Dark Seeker Crisis, it was still assaulted by denizens of the darkness, held off in part by the efforts of Durgat as a Commander of the Zephyr Guard. Dende would grow up hearing these stories of â€œthe crawling shadows, born of the darkness in our heartsâ€. These tales would linger in his mind through his later pursuits of knowledge.
In peacetimes, his family worked a Potions stall in Katapeshâ€™s Grand Bazaar, and by the time he was 11, Dende was taking a more active role in the family business, making basic healing potions and ethers whenever he got home from school. As a teenager, he started experimenting with more advanced alchemical techniques like bombs and mutagens, often sneaking away to the College of Dimensional Studies to hide away in the library. It was there where Dende would stumble across the ragged, ancient tome that would put him on the path of Ultima and the potential of its power.
By the time he was 18, Dende had scrapped together the munny and supplies necessary to build a clunky-yet-technically-functional Gummi ship, The Kingdom Come, proceeding to venture off to other worlds in search of knowledge, magic and power. It would be three years later that Dende would return to his homeworld in secret to try his hand at crafting the Ultima Mutagen and fail.
Now, two years since accidentally transmogrifying himself, Dende continues his work as an alchemist. With the return of the Heartless and the rise of Hybrids, he still seeks answers behind the power of Ultima, hoping that it may stem the rising tide of darkness if utilized properly.