by Will Myers
A 3.5/Pathfinder Adventurer's Journal Side Quest for 4 PCs of level 5-6
Table of Contents
The Elves of the Silent Forest have had almost no contact with the outside world in the last two thousand years. Any time they have to interact with other societies, they will send shape-shifted spies in order to determine the strengths and weaknesses of those societies. Only once those attributes have been decided will the Elves send in a representative.
As organisms do, they evolve in relation to their environment and through natural selection the strongest organisms survive. This has now happened in the Silent Forest and something has evolved that is particularly good at killing Elves. These creatures have developed abilities that allow them to circumvent the abilities that Elves possess.
The Elves of the Silent Forest know of an item that they believe is buried under the Rybalkan church of the God of Warriors due to them having a spy in Rybalka. They hope this item will help them defeat this new threat that plagues the Silent Forest.
The Elves have had their Rybalkan spy place a magical item in the stream that feeds into Rybalka to curse the town in order to draw any heroes out of Rybalka. Once that occurs, a team of shape-shifted Elves that appear as Vikmordere warriors will enter the town, using the confusion and fear of the Vikmordere to break into Rybalka Cathedral and try to find the item they need.
The PCs will follow the clues out of town to the north for half a day toward the Dark Wood. There they will encounter a band of real Vikmordere warriors who are investigating the false band of warriors, the Elves, and could come into conflict with the PCs.
The PCs will find the Flask of Curses in the stream. Removing it will prevent the curse from continuing in Rybalka after another day, but the curse will have to be removed from the villagers. After finding the Flask and dealing with the Vikmordere, the PCs will begin their return to Rybalka to be met with a messenger telling them of the “Vikmordere” attack on Rybalka and their breaking into the cathedral.
Upon returning to Rybalka, the elves, still disguised as Vikmordere, will be found in or around the cathedral. The PCs will either need to be very diplomatic, which will be difficult due to their foes appearing as Vikmordere but still being Elves, or combat will ensue. At no point will an elf drop its disguise before death.
1. The PCs notice that Quorron has been doing sub-par work lately. Items that he creates or repairs are of a lower quality than usual, due to the curse. Being that Quorron is a stalwart perfectionist, he is angry at the downward spiral the town seems to be in.
2. The PCs are summoned to the Mayor’s office because Mayor Leonid has fallen victim to the curse and is afraid that some of his political enemies are out to get him. He wants the PCs to find out what’s happening and why.
3. Sage Yuri Statel believes that the curse can be removed with a mixture that requires the bark of Cheldwood trees. The trees grow to the north, near the edge of the Dark Wood and he would like the PCs to retrieve some of the bark for his potion.
4. The PCs notice that their own skills have started to suffer because of the cursed water. They may decide on their own to do some investigating.
5. The hunters employed by the village start having bad luck. The animals seem to always spot them and run away. The few times the hunters are able to get off a shot they end up breaking their bow strings or slip and fall down steep embankments. The hunters ask the PCs for help, for the good of the town.
Description for the Players
It started with some of the townsfolk having minor mishaps such as bumping their heads on things and falling down stairs, but whatever is affecting the town has spread and is now causing problems for everyone: Rybalka is under a secret attack. This attack must be foiled or Rybalka may be cursed forever!
For almost two weeks now, things have gotten bad in Rybalka. Everyone seems to have bad luck. The quality of goods and services are dropping rapidly. Even Quorron, a stalwart of the community, is affected. Something must be done. You may be the town’s only hope.
The PCs can do some investigating around town, making Intelligence and Perception (both DC 15) checks to determine that the only two things all of the victims has in common is that they all live in Rybalka and that they all drink the same water. People new to Rybalka (less than a week) seem to be unaffected by the curse, but they will be once they have drunk the water for more than a week. A PC with the Heal skill can make a DC 15 skill check, but other than various mild maladies, such as bumps, bruises, or broken bones; there are no physical indications of disease.
Sage Statel can find no magical cause of the problems that are plaguing Rybalka. This is because while the cause is indeed magical, the source is not in town. He believes that the problem can be cured alchemically, but he needs the bark of the Cheldwood tree in order to make his mixture. With the Cheldwood trees being so close to Dark Wood, Yuri is hesitant to gather the ingredient himself.
High Priest Juriendor does not know what is causing the town’s malady and has been praying for guidance for over a week with very little response. He continues to lead services at the church of the God of Warriors which seems to console the townsfolk but offers them no relief.
1A. Dire Boars
Three hours outside of Rybalka, the party will cross paths with a small herd (7 total, one adult male, one adult female, one adolescent male, four juvenile) of dire boars. These boars are more aggressive due to the plants and fruits they’ve been eating that have been tainted by the cursed water. Normally, they would challenge but avoid any people but their increased aggression means that combat with the adult and adolescent male (treat as a standard boar) is inevitable. The female will move away with the juveniles, but will fight to protect her brood if necessary.
1B. Vikmordere Warriors
After five hours of travel, the party will be near the source of the trouble, the submerged Flask of Curses.
As you continue your trek north, the sun reflects off of the snow and a gentle, cool that emanates from the Dark Wood blows over you. The sound of the stream has grown louder as the waterway has widened. There is a smell lingering on the breeze; an acrid smell that makes your nose twitch. It fills your mouth and makes you cough.
In this area is a small party (five warriors plus Kampe) of Vikmordere warriors. They will hide in the woods (Spot/Perception DC 25) and watch the PCs, but will not attack unless confronted.
If the Vikmordere are spotted and approached peacefully (treat starting attitude as indifferent), they will explain they are searching for proof of another group of Vikmordere that was spotted heading toward Rybalka.
The leader of the Vikmordere party is Kampe, who is an able hunter and warrior. He will tell the party that one of his scouts saw another party of “rogue Vikmordere” moving toward Rybalka when there are not supposed to be other parties in the area. He will also make note of the water in the stream, which has grown darker the further along the party travels. If there is no conflict, the Vikmordere will head back to their land and report their findings.
If the Vikmordere party is not found, they will observe the PCs and eventually follow them back to Rybalka.
2A. Stream Crossing
North of where the party has met the Vikmordere, the stream has become a black sludge and only the swiftness of the current has kept it from clogging the streambed altogether. If tasted, the water has a very bitter taste to it, causing the taster to gag. If drunk, the water will induce nausea for 1d4 hours.
As the stream widens and starts to wind its way further up the hill, turning toward Dark Wood, there is a fairly large, simple wooden bridge that is in need of slight repair. On the north side of the bridge, the water is still clear.
Under the bridge (Spot/Perception DC 20) is a long-necked golden vase, with a silver stopper tied to the neck with twine. If the vase is retrieved, any party member that can read Elven or uses a spell that accomplishes this can tell that the script is Elven and identifies the vase as a Flask of Curses. The script also describe the type of curses the Flask is producing. If detect magic is used, the vase will radiate as moderate conjuration.
Removing the vase from the water will prevent un-cursed villagers from being cursed, but will not remove the curse from those who are already affected. Anyone who looks into the open mouth of the vase or drinks water from the vase is subject to the spell bestow curse and takes a -4 penalty on attack rolls, saves, ability checks, and skill checks until they can have the curse removed. Using the stopper on the vase prevents anyone from being cursed until the vase is opened again.
Once the vase is recovered, the party can return to Rybalka.
2B. Barking Up the Tree
The Cheldwood trees line the stream on the north side of the bridge. The bark is particularly brittle, so a DC 25 Knowledge (nature) check will provide the number of pieces that Sage Statel requires.
Cheldwood trees, however, have a defense mechanism. When threatened, Cheldwood trees that are close together each release a different compound which, when mixed together in the air, creates a sleeping gas. A DC 20 Fortitude save negates the sleeping effect, but causes dizziness for 1d4 rounds. A failed save puts a PC to sleep for 1d4 hours and upon awakening, causes dizziness for 1d4 hours.
On the return trip to Rybalka, about an hour from town, the party meets up with a messenger from town. Stopping for a moment to catch his breath, he finally speaks.
I found you! While you’ve been gone, a bunch of Vikmordere entered Rybalka and made their way to the cathedral! They’re keeping anyone from going inside and there are sounds of wood breaking! The village guards can’t get through! They need help!
The party can begin hustling back to town. Unless the DM wishes to have more encounters, nothing more happens.
The party enters Rybalka to find it in a state of chaos. As they near Rybalka Cathedral they learn that Vikmordere (actually Elven warriors and magically disguised, total number 8 plus 2, who are inside the cathedral), have surrounded the sanctuary and destructive noises can be heard from inside.
Mayor Leonid and a handful of guards (equal to the number of PCs) approach the PCs and brings them up to date, not that there’s much new to report.
I’m glad you're back! Those heathens ambushed some of our guards and have taken over the cathedral! I tried to talk to them, but they won’t answer! All they do is stab at people with those spears! Do something!
The PCs can attempt to talk to the Elves (treat initial attitude as hostile), but this won’t accomplish much, other than threats and a possible poke in the ribs with a spear. Anyone can make a DC 20 Speak Language/Linguistics or DC 25 Listen/Perception skill check to figure out that the “Vikmordere” are speaking with an odd accent. A second DC 20 Speak Language/Linguistics or DC 25 Listen/Perception check will determine that this accent is Elven. Anyone who speaks or understands Elven makes these checks automatically.
The PCs can make a plan to take out the Elven guards and it will be standard combat, with Mayor Leonid and the remaining Rybalkan guards helping out where they can. The Elven guards have no spellcasters among them and the only two spellcasters are the two inside the cathedral.
As the battle outside the cathedral winds down, the doors of the cathedral will fly open and a villager will come running out in a panic, followed by an Elven sorcerer disguised as a Vikmordere shaman. The villager will be nonsensical if questioned, talking about the evils that the Vikmordere inside are committing and how powerful they seem.
The “villager” and the “Vikmordere shaman” inside the cathedral are the last of the Elves and will try anything to escape. As they are both spellcasters, they will have various means of distraction. The villager tries to make a stealthy retreat as the shaman commands attention. The shaman will fight if necessary, but only long enough to provide a distraction for his partner to escape.
If the shaman is captured and questioned, he will drop his disguise and appear in his Elven form, hoping to give his comrade time to get out of the village.
"I am Myhal Melithaltindre, Protector of the Leaf. I have come to your land because my Queen Warden sent me here to claim an object, the Menalpaur, which we believe was hidden by the Vikmordere in this building some time ago. We had hoped that the object would help us against our current plight: the Edhelgurth."
"We Elves enjoy certain advantages over you humans, but something has grown within our forest that has advantages over us. Our fear is that the Elven race will be wiped out entirely. And if that happens, I cannot believe that the Edhelgurth will be content with us. Your lands are ripe with prey."
"Sadly, we could not find the artifact. Perhaps it is a sign from Naneth that our time has come. Regardless, my mission has failed and I am yours to do with as you wish."
Myhal surrenders himself to the PCs custody. There are rumblings from the gathered townsfolk that he should be executed immediately, but Mayor Leonid silences them and has Myhal taken away to jail until he can decide what to do with Myhal.
When the PCs enter the cathedral, they find large holes chopped through the wooden floor of the cathedral and the dirt below dug up. As they near the back of the cathedral they find Juriendor alive but unconscious. When he wakes (DC 12 Heal check or any healing magic), he will tell of how the two Vikmordere burst into the chapel and asked him where the “Menalpaur” was. When he said that he didn’t know, they translated “Menalpaur” into “Heavenly Fist.” When Juriendor still didn’t know, they said he served no purpose and knocked him unconscious. There is no sign that anything was found in any of these holes, so perhaps the Elves were misinformed or maybe the Menalpaur was taken earlier by someone else.
The Elven plot has been resolved (for now) and the people of the village are safe.
Sage Yuri Statel begins making his home brew with the Cheldwood tree bark, assuming the PCs brought some back. High Priest Juriendor, once healed, will help with this process and administering the draught to the villagers.
The PCs may keep the Flask of Curses, destroy it, or sell it to Sage Statel for 100 gp.