The Corrupted Woods

Under the capture by King Lykesha (a female), the duo is questioned with suspicion of where they hail and are heading to.  They are informed that the Dorian Forest is off limits to non-Wood Elves, and that the only reason they are not dead is because Pickles is considered a cousin elf to the race.

OPTION A (IMPRISONMENT): "You were caught trespassing through my domain.  I would have you both put to death by now if it weren't for you being our cousins of the skies."

"But I cannot permit you to travel through the Dorian Forest as I have too many travelers pass by over the centuries bringing corruption, lies, and deceit to those I protect.  Therefore, I banish you to the Oubliette to be shackled.  Guards.  Begone with them."

They are taken to a small hole in the ground that is sealed by a metal plate and tossed inside.  It is merely a small chamber with nothing but a pile of bones and a tin cup against the wall.  They remain there for several hours before food is brought down to them.  Surprisingly it is by the Queen who was sitting beside Lykesha.  She introduces herself as Queen Quendella and informs them of the curse that has fallen upon her King.  She believes that several things are causing her corruption, and she fears the king will eventually succumb to the darkness if not saved.  She then asks if they would agree to help rid of the problem, and in return, she will release them from the Oubliette.  If they are successful in aiding the three areas in Dorian Forest, they are to return in the hopes of King Lykesha being herself once more.

OPTION B (LYKESHA'S AID): The king regards the duo positively through their words and actions before the court and requests they perform three tasks that the forest might regrow to its former status.

They are ordered to prove their integrity by vanquishing a corruption that has spread throughout the forest.  Three areas of importance are key elements to the prosperity of Dorian Forest.  Nearby lies sacred grounds for the owl people who are called Moon Masks.  Normally docile creatures, they have become violent not from the Touch but from some other form of corruption.  The duo is required to investigate the grounds and cleanse the source without killing the Moon Masks.

At the heart of the forest lies the Deku Tree.  It is the Mother of the forest and nurtures all living beings within it.  Recently it has become ill and has stopped producing leaves and fruit.  Something has caused this beautiful and magnificent species to fall into decay and is close to dying.  The duo is tasked to purify the tree so that it may bare fruit once more.

Finally, on the edge of the woods lies the Sanctuary, a holy graveyard for those who have perished within the forest with Honor.  Something has caused the dead to stir, and the darkness that is the source must be eradicated at all costs.


MOON MASKS

While traveling to the sacred grounds, they pass by a peddler who is traveling down a narrow dirt road with a wooden wagon, pulled by a single ox.  She calls herself Jazmin and is old and hunched over with raspy hair and brittle teeth.  She shows you her wares, which are all marionettes that magically move on their own.  She sells them to families who are without kids or those who need help around the house with common chores.  Some of them are adult size, but they are all life size.  They aren't for sale to them, but she says she is heading to Raven's Hollow, a sad village to the northeast that is in need of her wares.  Before she leaves, she hands them an old used wand that she claims to withhold a small amount of magic left that can subdue a savage beast.

The sacred ground is a ring of large narrow stones with four altars and a cairn inside.  The outer stones forms a visible energy shield that encompasses the altars inside.  Each of the twelve stones has writing on each in a runic language.  Pickles can understand them as letters.  With only twelves letters, some duplicates, they are able to guess the words can be jumbled into "Archdruid Poc," which History talks of a legendary Cervitaur (half deer, half humanoid) that was the creator of the Dorian Forest.  By touching them in order to spell the name, each illuminates and will lower the shield when completed.

Each altar sends a jolt of 1 hp of 4 elements: fire, ice, poison, lightning.  Each needs the opposite to be placed upon the altar for it to open the cairn.  Each altar clearly displays the elements in some fashion: flames, frozen ice, crackling sparks, and a green gas surrounding.

While they may light a torch for the ice altar, pour water on the fire altar, and place earth on the poison, they will need poison for the lightning altar.  This is acquired after investigating the Deku Tree and finding the poisonous tree frog in the jar.

When they begin activating the large stones, they will be attacked by 3 Moon Masks that are armed with crude stone daggers.  They screech an ungodly sound that deafens the duo for 1 round unless a CON save is made at DC 12.

Once completed, the cairn shifts upward from the ground to reveal an opening that leads down via stairs.  The bottom of the stairs leads to a chamber with throne made of stone and a vault door behind it, decorated in leaves, elements of the forest, and woodland creatures.  Carvings of a name have mostly been eroded, leaving a few letters that could have spelled Archdruid Poc before.  The throne looks to be carved from the same block of stone it rests upon, and sitting it will open the door.  If the duo has trouble opening the door, etchings on the wall beside the staircase door read "I command power by my presence; I am only for the Crown."

Inside the vault is a marble tomb that has been perfectly carved to be a resting stag with ornate tribal-like spirals carved across its body.  It can be opened, but when done, a CON save to avoid a coughing fit for 1 rd as spores shoot out from the pressurized area inside.  A giant humanoid fungus crawls out  with pieces of bones sticking out in various places with a set of antlers on its crest.  One shoulder has three small spores that billow a small, smoke-like cloud.

Once vanquished, the fungus shows it had been latched onto the skeleton structure of the Archdruid.  Removing the fungus and laying the bones back to rest frees the Moon Masks from their bewitch.  Searching the chamber, they find a charm shaped like a leaf that can be worn (+1 Armor).

Outside they are all standing in a circle around the cairn facing inward.  They speak in perfect unison without tone as if chanting.  "The Eating Death is no more, we feel the life of Poc through our veins once more.  Our gratitude to you."


THE DEKU TREE

A colossal tree is rooted in the heart of the Dorian Forest.  Its bark is rugged and deep, but the leaves are gone along with the fruit it would normally bear.  A magnificent opening is at the base of the trunk that leads into a large chamber.  The room has two levels connected by a ramp that wraps along the wall.  In the center of the ground floor is a large hole that has been sealed with cobwebs.  Stretching down from the ceiling and leading into the hole is a thick strand of vine or branch that looks to be highly taunt in danger of breaking.  This branch is suspending a human shaped heart the size of a horse, but it is trapped beneath the cobwebs the vine is stretched through.  Hard-shelled barnacles are latched onto the heart that looks to be struggling to maintain its beating.

There are three spider-like creatures that are feasting on the vine in various spots along it, each  with an unusual skull-shaped backs and making awful clicking noises as they eat.  When attacked, two tree-like humanoid creatures that come out of the bark.  These Blights begin spraying a poisonous fungus onto the ground that forces the duo to leap around while engaging them.  If the spider-like creatures can sever the vine, the heart will cease to beat and the tree will die.

Searching the room, they find a chest that has sunken into the tree's floor as the plant has partially grown around it.  Opening it reveals 150 gold coins and a peculiar tree frog held within a holed-jar.

When rescued from the spiders and Blights, the Deku Tree will morph a section of its outer shell into a face to speak.  

"I can feel the darkness leave me as I speak.  Thank you, mortals, for saving my life and all the life that surrounds you.  I know you, Pickles, and I know you Zaburk, as the world of Zatra is alive and watching your next moves.  On your journey, this will give aid to you in times of peril."

A leaf sprouts quickly on one of its branches as it is lowered towards the duo, a single drop of dew falls on them from the leaf's tip.


SANCTUARY

The duo arrives in a Necropolis-style cemetery with cobblestone streets that wind their way in a spiderweb pattern to a centralized square decorated with a dried up fountain.  Aligning on both sides of each street are tombs, each adorned with various symbols.  A few mausoleums are spotted in a few areas while the stone wall that surrounds the cemetery have wall vaults.  As the cemetery is frequently visited by mourners, lanterns hang on wooden posts throughout and are all lit, which cast an eerie illumination.

Above the cobblestone, numerous ghosts can be seen dancing a waltz in time to some haunting organ that echoes off the tomb walls.  From the small rise that overlooks the cemetery, one can see a burly man is digging at one of the few graves along one side while a small section dedicated to pets belonging to the noble families are along the right wall through a small arch.

Traveling through the cemetery, the duo should be mindful of the gargoyles that rest silently on the tops of some of the tombs.  Their shadows are alive, and passing through them causes them to become animated and attack.

Towards the back, they hear a muffled scream from a woman as a lady in all black runs down the street, being chased by decomposing skeleton corpses, still possessing their eyes, while behind them skewered on a spigot is a man dressed in similar attire to her.

The gravedigger calls himself Pol, and he is digging up the various unkept graves in search of his wife whom he believes to be buried somewhere in the cemetery.  He had dug her coffin up to relocate her to a more pleasant location when he discovered the coffin to be empty.  She has risen and is currently masquerading around the cemetery fountain causing the dead to act mischievous to mourners visiting.  If she can be killed and her body returned to Pol, he will give them pumpkin seeds that wll rise and cling to the dead.

The fountain has decorations along the outer perimeter that can be removed.  A series of 4 rings pop out of their perfectly notched resting spots and seem to vibrate with just the slightest touch causing a gentle but high-pitched ring.  The inside of the fountain has 4 thin notches where the rings can fit in vertically to which they all begin spinning in unison once placed.  The sound opens the mausoleum behind the fountain, and it also causes the pyramidal box the duo found in Chamber 3 to open.  Inside is a strange star map and an odd cylindrical device with five notches of varying length cut out at one end.  The stars seem incomplete to form any constellations to identify where it is from.

Inside the mausoleum, it travels down into a catacomb that spread across the cemetery.  Each wall has resting areas carved out of the stone with names above each.  While the first names seem to be insignificant, the last names all share the same name: Barova.  Each body lays exposed in tattered clothing that they were buried in with various trinkets of sentimental value laid with them.  One resting area is empty, and the party must search for clues to find where the missing family member is.

Their objective lies with a Death Wight, a 4-armed spectre that has stolen the corpse to resurrect its pets and control the restless.  Its intentions are to reclaim a village not far that it once oversaw as the local noble leader but was exiled after the villagers discovered him to practice necromancy.

Each round, 1d4 undead animals arise while the Death Wight summons the undead zombies to the cemetery square.  While it can be killed, it arises in 2 rounds unless the body can be returned to its rightful resting place.  While one person takes the body back, the other must fight off the creature or lay the corpse down in incremental distance through the catacombs.

An environmental tactic would be to open the tombs surrounding the cemetery square.  Many of the more powerful restless walkers cannot return to their chambers as the doors have all been shut on them.

Throwing pumpkin seeds between the cobblestones will cause the vines to grow instantly and begin to grab the legs of the zombies and skeletons, holding them in place for several rounds.

The Corrupted Woods

Dungeons & Dragons Zatra