People are afraid of the unknown. In a dangerous situation, instinct becomes the master and there is no way to tell how one might react. Most flee when faced with an incomprehensible situation. Others freeze and paralyze in place while a few brave, or perhaps idiots, prefer violence as a means to sort out the danger. However, there are unique individuals that take a different approach when they see something they don’t understand. They become curious.
This curiosity can be the preamble of a marvelous discovery, or it could be fed through the acquisition of power. But sometimes, the mere wish to learn and expand one’s horizons is enough to make the most cautious man consider reckless decisions. After all, curiosity killed the cat, as the saying goes.
Seskel is an ordinary man who stumbled upon an extraordinary being. It all started when Seskel moved from the busy city to Blueleaf, a quiet and calm farming settlement. He decided it was time to go after both his parents passed away from natural causes. They owned a small leather business in the city which he opted to sell. He always hated it anyway. Seskel was tired of the city noise and people so he thought it best to get rid of any link to it. He has always been shy and social interaction is not one of his strengths. He feels more comfortable working alone. Hence, a small cottage a few hundred feet away from the nearest home was perfect for him.
His parents’ inheritance plus the money he received from selling the tannery is more than enough to make ends meet for a long time and perhaps even take on a few projects. He bought one of the smallest buildings in Blueleaf. Its previous owner left it for a larger place. The modest home is 35 feet wide and 30 feet long. But Seskel didn’t need anymore.
On his third night there, while trying to sleep, he heard a voice in his head. The voice was low-pitched and it had a guttural, harsh accent. He didn’t pay much attention to it and fell asleep. However, the morning after, he remembered. He thought it was only his imagination. That night, he heard the voice again. It identified itself as a friendly beast who was very hungry. Seskel could hear the words in his mind, then the words turned into images. He could see a dark cave, piles of rubbish and offal, and a large mound of trash covering a strange creature. He replied out loud and felt stupid when no one answered. The voice kept asking for his help, telling him to look underground. As much as he tried to communicate back, he could not and it frustrated him. He wanted to know the truth.
Seskel didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone about this new imaginary friend. At first, he could only hear the voice at night but soon the hungry beast’s cries for help became a constant. Seskel’s curiosity and frustration accumulated for days until he couldn’t hold it. He decided he was going to expand his home downward. At first, the stairs were supposed to descend 20 feet but the voice in his head kept telling him to go further down. He hired many men and paid for overtime so the project took a couple of months. It was much less than expected.
In the end, they built another level 50 feet below his home. It was divided into two identical chambers. Seskel stopped the expansion project then. He knew he had to go even further down, the voice told him so. But he thought that, if this whole thing was real, he wouldn’t like to share his discovery with anyone. So he decided to continue the expansion himself. Since he didn’t have much experience, the only thing he could do was to dig a hole in the ground and build a well around it with bricks. The voice in his head and the images obsessed him. He knew he was closer to knowing the truth. It took more than he expected. It was an exhausting job and it took him more than ten months to finish but one day, he finally reached the bottom.
Seskel couldn’t believe his eyes when he finally met the beast. Stepping on the hard soil, he felt a sort of déjà vu. He saw, for the first time in person, all the images that he had registered in his head. The beast felt comfortable enough to show itself. It had the rough shape of a brown, sluggish elephant. It was covered in goo, rubbish, and remnants of other creatures and bones. The otyugh released a happy grunt when Seskel found it. The stench was strong enough that it pierced eyes and nostrils. Seskel could not ignore the physical response of retching, but he approached anyway.
Seskel had done nothing worthy of praise in his life. He never excelled in the arts of combat, nor science. So this discovery and the physical confirmation that he wasn’t crazy was too much to handle. He rushed to find something to feed the beast. He threw hay, fruit, old bones, and even a bit of rotten food into the pit. He enjoyed watching his new friend bury itself in everything he threw at it. After a period of adaptation, he didn’t mind the smell. He thought of himself as a farmer, feeding and taking care of his monstrous livestock.
The otyugh continued sending telepathic messages to Seskel since it was the only way they could communicate. Seskel felt he could trust the beast, he often went down with it. He knew the cavern under his home was larger than it seemed since there were times where he couldn’t see the monster. But he didn’t dare explore the underground.
Time passed and Seskel developed an insane relationship with the beast. The telepathic communication, which is common in otyughs, fascinated him. He thought he was special. And little by little, insanity took a hold of him. He became obsessed with the beast, and a morbid curiosity to watch it eat overtook him. He started bringing animal carcasses and other disgusting non-edible things. The beast ate everything they threw at it.
Seskel’s derangement made him consider using live subjects as food for the monster. He started with rats and other rodents, then switched to dogs and cats. But one day, the otyugh asked him what he tasted like. Seskel was so obsessed with the creature that the question did not even startle him, he thought it natural for him to ask such a thing. He decided it was time to step up its diet.
He traveled to town and offered a couple of beggars a bowl of hot soup and warm bread. They followed him without question and entered his home. Downstairs, Seskel hit them in the back of the head and threw them to the well. The gory display erased any trace of sanity remaining in Seskel’s mind, and he couldn’t wait to find the next victim.
Since the beast’s diet radically changed to live subjects, Seskel knew he needed a place to keep them. He built four cells beside the well. Now, Seskel kidnaps people traveling alone, unlucky beggars, and even goes as far as to pay for the release of a prisoner, only to imprison him again. Two months have passed since Seskel fed the beast its first humans. About ten people have gone missing to this day.
The mayor in Blueleaf, Saris Tull, is more than concerned. Ten missing people are too high a number for a small village such as Blueleaf. People in town are aware of Seskel’s presence. There was a lot of fuzz and noise when he expanded his home. One witness claims he saw Seskel enter his home with two other people and come out alone some weeks ago. Others suspect him because they never see him socialize with anyone. Saris Tull thought it prudent to pay him a visit.
The mayor had a cup of tea with Seskel and they talked for a while. Seskel told him why he moved to Blueleaf. He explained what happened to his parents and the tannery. The mayor left a few hours later, satisfied with the conversation. However, while drinking tea, he could notice a faint rotting smell but he could not tell what caused it. Besides, he considered it would’ve been rude to mention it. Seskel would not stop sweating while they talked, and he replied with a squeaky voice, like a child caught doing something wrong. He suspects something fishy is going on at Seskel’s.
Saris decides to hire a group of adventurers. He wants them to go and pretend to be brigands. The idea is to break into his home like thieves and find out what is really going on under his home. He doesn’t want to send town guards because he is not completely sure of his suspicions. Saris is trusting his gut on this one. The mayor offers 50 gold pieces to each of the involved heroes.
The mayor’s visit gave a bad feeling to Seskel. A bit of paranoia starts to grow in him. He starts to believe the mayor is after him. “It won’t be long for the city guard to raid my home,” he thought. But he isn’t going to allow that. The morning after, Seskel hires a group of mercenaries to take care of him in case things go rough.
The following descriptions of areas 1 through 8 correspond to Seskel’s Home.
Terrain. Seskel’s home has stone flooring. The deepest level underground features hard brown soil.
Doors. All the doors in Seskel’s home have regular quality locks. A character using thieves’ tools can pick the locks with a successful DC 14 Dexterity check if they are closed. Seskel is the only one with keys for all doors.
Light. Every room features oil lamps or wax candles.
Smells and Sounds. The first level of Seskel’s home has a faint tea aroma. He usually drinks tea in the living room (area 3). A strong and piercing smell of rot and decay can be perceived in Seskel’s room (area 5). The smell is stronger in the contiguous chamber, and it is the strongest down the well.
Seskel hides downstairs near the cells (area 6) when the adventurers come. Seskel’s bodyguards stay on the first level, with instructions to protect him and his house.
Seskel’s home has only one entrance. There is a small wooden table with flowers in a clay vase. The flowers are withered and dry. There is a thin layer of dust covering everything. A passive Perception score of 14 or higher reveals there are several recent footprints on the ground. A successful DC 16 Wisdom (Survival) check reveals that a group of at least five people recently entered the residence.
This is a small foyer dividing the living room (area 3) from the foyer. There are a small table with three chairs and a few wooden crates with supplies. Two of the men (thugs) Seskel hired are here. They attack any intruders on sight. If one of them drops to 0 Hit Points, the other one retreats to the living room.
3. Living Room
A small section of this area corresponds to a modest kitchen. There are a wooden table and some chairs in the middle of the room. One veteran and two thugs are ready for battle if they heard the commotion in area 2. If the mercenaries are defeated, they plead for their lives. They confess they are only doing this for gold. They explain they don’t care for Seskel and whatever he is doing. They claim they don’t know anything. A passive Insight score of 14 or higher reveals they are telling the truth. None of the brigands know what is the source of the smell.
There are five sets of stairs. Each of them descends 10 feet. 10 by 5 feet landings connect each section of stairs. The strong and foul smell of the otyugh’s lair becomes stronger every 10 feet. There are small tables with oil lamps on each landing to light the way.
5. Seskel’s Room
Beside the bed, the room doesn’t have much furniture. There are an old wardrobe and some other wooden boxes on the floor. The bedsheets look stained and there is an uncomfortable amount of dust all over the place. Any creature present in this area perceives the strong odor coming from beyond the door.
6. The Pit
The well is about 35 feet deep. A successful DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check allows a character to climb down the well. It is completely dark below. The smell of rot and decay comes from the bottom. Seskel (commoner) is here. He looks afraid and desperate. He is sweating and he holds a metal pipe on one hand, like a weapon. He drops the pipe the moment the adventurers approach him. He adopts a fetal position and covers his head and begs for his life.
If the adventurers spare him, they can interrogate him about what is really happening. Seskel tells them the truth without omitting any detail. He finishes the story saying that the monster is his friend and that he wants no harm done to it.
7. The Cells
There are four identical cells. Two of them are occupied. The two poor souls Seskel imprisoned last are a beggar named Willy and Sally, an unfortunate woman who was picking berries alone. The man has been there for a day, the woman has been missing for two whole days.
8. Otyugh’s Lair
This is a natural cavern. An area of about 25 feet in diameter is visible space from above, but the cavern is larger. There is a tunnel north of the cave, what is beyond this tunnel is up to the DMs discretion.
An otyugh dwells at the bottom of the pit, covered in trash and goo. The otyugh sends telepathic messages to the adventurers. It asks if they bring food too, or if they are the food. The otyugh’s tentacles reach the end of the well above it. It attacks any human who is not Seskel that approaches it.
If the adventurers pretend to harm the beast, Seskel stands in their way. He says there must be an alternative to violence. He makes a suggestion of turning himself in as long as they leave the beast alone. He claims the monster eats literally everything, so he makes the crazy proposal of using it as garbage disposal.
The adventurers have to decide if they want to spare the human or the monster, both, or none of them.
Choosing to slay the monster causes Seskel to go mad and try to stop the adventurers. They may spare him or not, but he fights until he is knocked unconscious or killed. The otyugh fights to the death as well. Saris Tull pays the adventurers the agreed-upon amount and gives them 200 supplementary gold for taking care of the beast. If Seskel is alive, he is taken to prison and gets a life sentence for the murder of eight people.
If the adventurers accept Seskel’s proposal, they must speak with Saris Tull about it. He agrees to pay them what they agreed since they did the job of finding out what was happening. But he is not very convinced of the garbage disposal idea. A successful DC 16 Charisma (Persuasion) check allows a character to convince Saris to accept the idea. The check is made with advantage if the adventurers take Saris to Seskel’s and show him what the beast can do. If Saris is not convinced, he thanks the adventurers and tells them he will take care of the monster. He explains he doesn’t want to hire them for this task since they have a biased opinion about the monster. Regardless of Saris’s decision, Seskel is sent to prison for life if he is alive.
In case Saris accepts the garbage disposal idea, Seskel’s home is demolished to access the pit. All people in Blueleaf are informed of the new place to throw trash and garbage. After a couple of days using the pit, Saris realizes it wasn’t a bad idea after all and thanks the adventurers for insisting. He pays them 150 additional gold pieces for their service to the community.
Willy and Sally, the prisoners, also thank the adventurers for saving them. The beggar only has 3 copper pieces. He tells them it is everything he has, but that he gives it away gladly. Sally lives in Blueleaf and her family pays the adventurers 5 gold pieces for saving her.