Once upon a time, there was a plutomancer named Chom Skee. History does not recall his race; he could as easily have been a dwarf as a halfling. But it is generally agreed upon that he was in fact a gnome, because his ideas occupied the intersection of "brilliant", "deranged", and "dangerous use of magic", which is pretty much synonymous with "gnome" these days.
Chom, it turns out, was obsessed with chickens. But not just any chickens; no, only dire chickens would do. This was mainly because, as a plutomancer, Chom was also obsessed with gold and magic, and he became convinced that if could concoct the proper alchemical elixir, he could find a way to bestow a plutomantic ability upon his chickens, specifically the ability to lay golden eggs. Dire chickens, being larger and stronger than their lesser counterparts, not only had a better chance of surviving the alchemical transformation but also had the nice side effect of laying much larger eggs. This, as they say, is win-win.
After a few tragic mishaps resulting in dire chickens being converted to gold, Chom was ready to give up. But then, as he stared at the golden chicken statues adorning his front lawn, he had an idea. And oddly, it made him think of owlbears. And then he began to giggle.
The problem, he realized, was that a dire chicken wasn't sufficiently magical to handle the alchemical transformation of calcium-into-gold within its reproductive organs. But, if he took an animal which was already magical, well then! That should work just fine.
The Dire Chickenbear project was an unmitigated disaster which resulted in a hasty night-time relocation, the destruction of a small farming community, and a hefty price put on Chom's head.
And the less said about the Dire Perytons, the better.
But three kingdoms later, Chom finally hit upon his masterpiece: the Dire Cockatrice. In retrospect, this should have been his first choice, since it was already a magical chicken-thing which could turn men to stone with but a peck of its beak. Matter of fact, Chom could have bypassed the whole Dire aspect altogether and just enchanted the Cockatrice further, but by that point he was, as the folks say, "toys in the attic nutso" and fond of wearing a suit of chicken feathers.
Thus was born Goldpecker: the fearsome Dire Cockatrice who could turn men to gold. This was Chom's masterpiece, a self-perpetuating species with the potential to generate massive profit. He even thought about hiring himself out as an assassin and/or body-removal specialist: after all, when a body is turned into a gold statue and then converted into loose change, nothing short of a Wish is going to bring that person back.
Sadly -- or perhaps fortunately -- Chom perished in a tragic mishap involving too much ale, a late-night booty call, and a misplaced Periapt of Proof against Petrification.
And so, the legend goes, you can hear the dreadful cackle of Goldpecker carried on the early morning breezes of the scrubs and plains as he greets the golden dawn with gold of his own: the freshly petrified body of a hunter, trapper, or adventurer too sloppy to post guards during the night.
Ask not for whom Goldpecker crows: he crows for greed.
The Fine Print
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