Back within a twisting ravine, there was a wider spot, carved out by the storms and geological violence of the distant past. There, a small waterfall tumbled into a pool, chewing away at the limestone strata below and spreading a perpetual mist to moisten the roots of the peaceful grove of trees. Occasional visitors, both animal and sapient, took advantage of the sheltered spot, fished in the pool, or camped there for a time. Otters played in the pool and beneath the falls, and the beaver’s lodge was old and well established.
Cast out from another reality, the obdurate green stone fell to earth by the side of the pool, casting it’s shadow across the waters. It was infused with unnatural energies; those plants that sent rootlets searching along the disquieting symbols covering it’s surface grew dark and twisted, their spirits awakening to warped sentience. In the depths of the pool below, shadows lingered, growing strong and slipping into the caverns below the waterfall. The hidden grove grew strange, and became a haunt of the unseelie fey.
Mobile creatures, both sapient and non-sapient, began to avoid the area. Eventually, it was left to itself, forgotten.
The ritualist came long centuries later. No one remembers why… It might have been revenge, or madness, or something that he or she believed justified. Perhaps it was merely that special stupidity that only the very clever can pull off – but he or she translated the symbols, drew on the eldritch energies of the stone, and opened a gate, foolishly damaging the integrity of the world in a violation that would take millennia to heal. The things which answered that call were not a part of the natural order of the world – but they had power in it.
A druid answered that disturbance. He was not a particularly benevolent man, but such a disruption of nature could not be permitted. He allied with the unseelie fey against the things that had been unleashed, and found a ritual to seal the gate with the blood and soul of a sapient being, binding the spirit of his sacrificial victim to hold the gate closed for seven years. He made his home in the gorge, and trained an apprentice to hold the gate sealed after he departed.
His apprentice bound himself more closely to the unseelie fey, and had an even darker bent – but that mattered little as long as the gate remained shut.
Aumakua Puka, as he prefers to be known among the fey, believes that those who inhabit cities are weak and foolish, that most people are overly meddlesome, and that the wilds and their creatures – such as the beasts and the fey – represent the true and proper order of the world. He finds more in common with them than with men.
He works to keep the area sparsely inhabited, “harvests” the occasional victim for his rituals or “recruit” for his companions from among those villagers who infringe on the forest beyond his ravine, holds the gateway shut, and keeps the minor things it has spawned – creatures of mud, of strangling slime, and the bones of creatures long dead, infused with unnatural energies – trapped in the modest complex of caverns beneath the waterfall.
To aid him in his labors, he has his companion creatures, the beasts of the wilds that he has awakened and now leads, and a loose alliance with the Unseelie Fey – who have adopted him, and who find his holding a convenient access route to the forest and villages beyond.
So, what we’ll have here is Aumakua Puka himself – at about sixth level or a bit lower with a fey template – his Companions (whether Creatures or Animals) and Followers (ritually-awakened plants and animals), and perhaps a few Unseelie Fey and predatory plants scattered about the place. Three or four secondary encounters at CR 3-4 and a CR 6 “boss” makes this a mission suitable for characters of levels 3-4.
If the characters take out Aumakua permanently – and they’ll almost certainly want to, he’s been responsible for quite a few disappearances, sending monsters to chase out the local villagers, and some fairly gruesome “warnings” – the seals he’s been maintaining will start to come undone.
First out, the local unseelie fey will raid some of the local villages to “avenge him”. Given that they’re not too clear about “death” this is more an expression of annoyance than anything else – but it can still make quite a mess.
Then the creatures of the caverns beneath the falls will start getting out. For that, probably some Oozes and Chaos Beasts. Sadly, the only treasure down there is left over from random victims and – vaguely possibly – a few items that wound up in the river in the mountains and were swept downstream until they went over the falls and wound up in the caverns.
To complicate life, we might put in a small tomb behind the falls, with access through the deeper water-filled caverns. Somebody, perhaps a thousand years ago, really wanted to hide the place.
In a few years, when the seal on the gate goes down, the characters will need to find a way to once again bottle up the lovecraftian horrors from beyond.
Naturally enough, if the characters eliminate any of Aumakua’s companions, he’ll get more. If they launch an initial attack and pull back, he’ll muster his resources, and ritually summon something nasty to send after them. If it can’t take them out, he’ll launch some personal attacks; there’ s no point in letting your enemies catch their breaths. Not surprisingly when facing a Druid and his awakened and unseelie friends, camping in the forest nearby after upsetting him is more or less suicidal.
The opening of the gate, and the arrival of the horrors from beyond, is a scenario for later – Return to the Pool of Shadows anyone?
Next up, a possible build for Aumakua and his companions.