- Author: FemmeLegion
- Setting: High Fantasy
- Environment: Plains, maybe desert – not someplace with a lot of naturally defending terrain
- Synopsis: A mighty enchantress defends a nearby city and its subordinate villages, and does so very well. However, she asks a steep and strange price in return.
|It is late afternoon by the time you reach one of the villages surrounding $CITY. Everyone seems to be going about everyday business, but the atmosphere is clearly one of tension. This is especially visible among the women. Some people look hopeful and excited; others look fretful and concerned.|
If the PCs do not immediately jump on the feeling of tension and start asking questions, you can up the stakes by having a middle-aged woman suddenly break down crying within earshot of them.
When the PCs do ask what everyone’s so excited/anxious about, the first answer will simply be “It’s the enchantress’s birthday.”
The PCs can learn the following things from anybody:
- The Enchantress, an elven female named Malia, came here about a hundred years ago. She demanded an audience with the $RULER-TITLE, and awed him deeply with a massive display of arcane prowess. She’s been here ever since.
- The Enchantress defends $CITY and its villages from any impending threats. She’s not so much on making the rain fall or the butter come up from the cream, but about ten years ago when some stupid upstart tried to add on to his domain, she single-handedly decimated his army. (GM NOTE: When I wrote this, I was using D&D 3.5 and figured Malia to be a high-level summoner. Tweak as needed.) They’ve not needed to raise an army since Malia came to town.
- “That bitch is like a tiger what ain’t quite been tamed yet. We feed her the boys to keep her quiet, but even then ain’t no guarantee she won’t decide to turn on us someday.”
- When the Enchantress first came to $CITY, she told the $RULER-TITLE that she had studied the arts of magic for centuries, and only in recent years had she figured out that magic could not bring her what she needed in order to be happy. Well, not directly, at least. In exchange for Malia’s protection, every year on her birthday the lands send her all the boys that have come of age in the past year. She keeps them until her next birthday and then sends home a number equal to what is sent to her that year. (E.G. if she got 20 last year and only gets 18 this year, only 18 of those first 20 will come back.)
- So far, all of the men who have been sent to Malia have come back, though some were kept for two or three years. That was tremendously stressful on the mothers of those men. They’ve all been returned in good health, though, and often with small but splendid gifts.
- As one of the NPCs mentioned earlier, the enchantress’s birthday is today. Tonight, the carriage comes to take away this year’s crop of boys. It will return in the morning with those who have been released. Several of the families in this village are preparing to either welcome their sons home, or bid them good-bye.
If the PCs decide to question the men in the village, those who are old enough will say that they were treated adequately during their time in the tower, and that their chief task was seeing to Malia’s happiness and comfort at all times. (GM Note: None of them have ever told ME if there was anything sexual involved – you’ll have to ask them yourselves.) A few of them remember her muttering something along the lines of “how do you ever expect to be a decent husband if…” They will also be able to give a pretty good description of the inside of Malia’s Tower, since they had to live there for at least a year (details to be added if I think about it, or use one you’ve already got – just make sure it’s got room for about 20 pool-boys.)
It’s actually a pretty consistent result that menfolk who’ve done indenture come back as more pleasant creatures. However, it’s not likely the villagers would notice that or attribute it to Malia’s influence. If one of your family members was gone for a year, you’d probably gloss over some of his more annoying habits too, and thus not necessarily notice that they were genuinely absent upon his return.
Questions for the GM:
- Is Malia looking for a true love, or is she just riding the thrill of getting lots of attention from lots of different men in the primes of their youths?
- If Malia is looking for a true love, what will happen if she finds it? Would the city still be able to defend itself if she were to leave, or have they grown complacent depending on her?
- Given that the menfolk do not appear to be harmed, and seem in all ways to come back from the tower better off than when they went in, would the PCs ultimately be doing more harm than good if they attempted to stop the Enchantress from taking the boys?
Malia is an elven female, about 250 years old, with green eyes and very shiny gold hair – almost metallic. She has actually grown a little bit buxom for an elf, almost pudgy, but still has that otherworldly elven beauty and grace.
If the PCs call on her politely, she will offer them refreshments – brought in by well-oiled and shirtless young men. She will be delighted to talk shop with any arcane casters in the party, and will notice any enchanted items, commenting on their quality. She is not a resource for consumable magics (scrolls/potions), but she might be convinced to let an arcane caster leaf through her grimoire to copy a spell or two. More easily convinced if said wizard is cute and male.
If the PCs ask about her habit of taking boys from $CITY and its villages, Malia will quite happily admit to it. She sees it as a highly mutually beneficial agreement. She gets lavish attention from a couple of dozen men at any given time (and, if applicable, gets first dibs on any potential marriage candidates). $CITY gets her support on those rare occasions it’s actually needed, and during the vast majority of years when it’s not, they also get menfolk who have been “trained” in how to make a woman happy – well, make HER happy, at least.
If the PCs confront Malia with hostility, they will find her formidable. As a frame of reference, she’d be level 17 in d20/Pathfinder, or level 25 in 4th-edition D&D.