This is a little "what if" following Melicamp's journey from nobody to hero. I hope you'll like it!
Author note: I know, I made Thalantyr worse than he is in the game, but even the nicest of wizards can have a bad day and the party had the misfortune of meeting him in such a day. Also, Melicamp’s miscast spell had made a mess of his study, so the old man was (understandably) less than inclined to help him out.
As the party set up camp for the night, the morale was quite low. After meeting Melicamp, a mage apprentice who had accidentally turned himself into a talking chicken, they had accepted to accompany him back to his master’s home, in the hopes that Thalantyr would polymorph the young man back to his original shape.
Unfortunately, the old mage first told them he would only speak to them if they brought him the skull of an Undead for his experiments and when they came back with the disgusting item, he simply kicked them out of his home, stating that he had no time to waste with foolish adventurers and an even more foolish, useless apprentice who had nearly destroyed his study with a spell gone awry.
No amount of pleading (from Meg and Melicamp mostly) and threats of being incinerated with a well-placed Fireball (from Edwin) did any good: on the contrary, Thalantyr, annoyed by their insistence, evoked a score of hungry and angry Ogres and a pack of Gnolls, forcing them to a hasty retreat, since they had no healing spells left and a battle would have been too costly at that moment.
Melicamp stared into the campfire clucking sadly, huddled against Meg’s side as she stroked his feathers comfortingly. “It will be all right, you’ll see”, she told him, “There’s plenty of mages in the Sword Coast and beyond, we only need to find the right one. In the meantime, you’ll stay with us, okay?”. Jaheira frowned, “Child, I don’t think this is wise”.
“We can’t just leave him on his own, Jae, he…”. “She”, Imoen corrected her and the Ilmatari blinked. “Uh?”. “Well, Melicamp is a chicken, so, technically speaking, he is currently a she”, the pink-haired thief explained. Poor Melicamp let out a pitiful cluck, looking, if possible, even more miserable than before, “I hate my life!”.
The Painbearer felt her heart clench at seeing him so desperate, then her face brightened, “Hold on!”, she exclaimed, rummaging into her Bag of Holding, then she took out of it a leather belt and placed it around his waist.
As soon as the clasp closed, an orange-yellowish glow surrounded Melicamp and when it faded, the chicken had changed: his size has increased, his tail was now made of long, russet crescent-shaped feathers, he had a glorious red crest on his head and two equally bright red wattles dangled from under his beak. “What..?”, he blinked, turning his head this way and that to admire his new form.
“You’re a rooster”, Meg smiled, “I can’t give you your human form back, but at least now you’re of the right gender again. I knew that the Girdle of Gender Change would come in handy sooner or later”. The rooster gave her a fond, grateful look, “Thank you, Meg”. “Hey, it’s the least I could do”. Edwin snorted, “Bah! At least, when he was a chicken, he could lay eggs for our breakfast! What good is he to us now?”.
She shrugged, “He can fight, I guess. I have an Enchanted Tome of Strength in my pack…I had planned of reading it myself, but I think this will be a better use of it”, she said, placing the open book in front of Melicamp, “Here you go”. The human-turned-rooster squawked excitedly, flapping his wings, “Great! Thank you!”, he exulted, then he sat down and eagerly immersed himself in the reading.
“And since you are, or were, the apprentice of a mage, I think Edwin could be your new te…”. “Absolutely not!”, the Thayan cut her off, “I won’t lower myself to teaching magic to a brainless chicken!”. “Rooster”. “It doesn’t matter! I won’t and that is all! (I would never live it down, should anyone from home know of it)”.
The young woman sighed, “Oh, that’s a shame: if anyone could teach him magic and turn him from a mere apprentice to a force to be reckoned with, that’s you, the best wizard of all the Realms. But if you don’t want to do it, I guess Dynaheir will have to tutor him in your place”, she said, winking conspiratorially to the Rashemi witch where he couldn’t see her. “Thou made the right choice, Meg”, Dynaheir said haughtily, “No good could ever come from an inferior Thayan’s teachings on magic”.
“Inferior?!? How dare you, you Rashemi simian!”, the Red Wizard snapped, outraged, “Fine, I’ll be the chicken’s…The rooster’s teacher. And when he becomes the mightiest bird wizard of the Realms, you’ll have to crawl before the both of us!”.
The Wychalaran sniffed disdainfully, “If thou sayeth so. Meg?”. Margaret Dawn shrugged apologetically, hiding a grin, “Sorry, Dynaheir, but he wins this round. Melicamp, from now on, you’re Edwin’s apprentice. Promise me you’ll be a good student”. Melicamp nodded, “I promise. Master Edwin, I am ready for my first lesson”.
During his travels with Meg’s party, thanks to the other two Enchanted Tomes she had managed to acquire for him along the way (one more book of Strength and one of Constitution) and Edwin’s teachings on magic, Melicamp became a valiant warrior and a powerful wizard in his own right, despite his feathery form.
When the group was ambushed by Bodhi’s minions and brought to Irenicus’ lair, the rooster was left behind, completely ignored by the Vampires who considered him useless, so he had no choice but to set out on his own.
He had been in Athkatla for barely a day, when, while sleeping, he was captured by a ruffian on Lethinan’s payroll and sold to the Copper Coronet to fight against other roosters: apparently, Amnian nobility enjoyed the sight of two feathered combatants fighting to the death.
Thanks to the experience he had gained on the Sword Coast and his human intelligence, Melicamp had little trouble winning fight after fight and by the time Meg and her friends took their weapons against Lethinan and the slavers, he had become one of the most renowned fighters of his category, with a separate cell, a harem of lovely girls to pet him and the best bird-feed available at his disposal.
The cage he was kept in during his resting moments was slammed open and the rooster suddenly found himself looking in surprise at one of his old travelling companions, the big Rashemi ranger Minsc, along with his inseparable hamster Boo, “Minsc? Is that you?”.
“A talking rooster? Wait, Minsc knows you: you’re friend Melicamp!”, the ranger beamed, “Oh, joyous day, we are reunited with our old friend!”, he exclaimed happily, taking Melicamp up and giving him a pat on the head, “Little Meg, come and see who we’ve found!”.
The Ilmatari joined them and smiled, “Melicamp! Ilmater be praised, I’m so glad to see you! How are you?”. The rooster clucked with joy, “I’m glad to see you too, Meg dear. I was captured by one of Lethinan’s men more or less a couple of months ago, but I didn’t fare that bad, all things considered: I’m a gladiator now”.
She blinked, puzzled, “A…Gladiator?”. He nodded, “Indeed! My fighting prowess is renowned and praised in all Athkatla and everyone knows me by my battle name”. “Ah. And what is it?”.
He straightened and his chest swelled with pride as he answered, “I’m Melicamp, the Raging Cock!”.
Melicamp once again joined Meg’s adventuring party and hit the road with both old and new travelling companions, their journeys bringing them all across Amn, Tethyr, the Underdark and even the Abyss. In Suldanesselar, he was finally restored to his original human form by the Seldarine, as a reward for stopping Irenicus once and for all.
His thirst for adventure was not yet sated, though and when the news of an upcoming war in Tethry reached the Elven city, he decided to fight at his friends’ side against the new threat. He remained a steadfast companion through thick and thin and his blades and spells had a big part in the victory in the Bhaalspawn War, helping Meg and Imoen get the upper hand over their deranged, blood-thirsty, power-hungry half-siblings.
After the end of the war, being back to normal and having had enough of adventuring for a lifetime, he decided to settle down in Beregost, bought a nice house and married the lovely daughter of a farmer, who gave him a son, his pride and joy.
Even to this day, many, many years later, the bards still sing ballads about Melicamp the Brave, the young human warrior-mage who travelled with the legendary Bhaalspawn and helped bring peace in the Realms. And in the memories of many Amnian nobles, a certain feathery gladiator still rages on.