Sean stood on the sidelines with the other mid-level priests and watched as Kylara, the newest acolyte, stood before the master and began to chant the first of the twenty-nine histories. He grimaced as the girl's naturally musical voice continued, her perfect pitch grating on his nerves and deepening his disapproving scowl. Meanwhile, her too pretty face glowed with pride.
This was the master's daughter, flaunting her status and privilege before all who gathered. Not once did she skip over a word or stutter. And why would she? The girl had likely been studying since she could speak. Sean had been given no such help. He had worked and fought for every bit of skill he had. No one had ever given him a hand up. And yet, here stood this young upstart, holding not even half of his forty years and already acting the queen. No doubt she would be groomed to take over when her father retired.
Laying in his bed that night, unable to sleep, Sean began visualizing all the horrible things he would like to see happen to the young brat. He would love to see her voice stolen by a debilitating illness, or hear that she had been ravaged by an Orc and had lost the will to live. He would even settle to discover that she had been caught cheating with memory magics and would soon be driven out into the cold. Sean felt a warm presence begin to enfold him as he considered all the possibilities. More pleasant images began to flood his mind, as though a soft voice were whispering sweet tales into his ear. At length sleep overtook him with a smile upon his face.
With every passing week, Sean's hatred burned stronger and brighter. He saw Kylara receiving more training than he ever had as an acolyte. He watched her gain more responsibilities and leadership over the other acolytes than he could bear. He made many plans on how to exact his vengeance upon the young upstart. Yet, being a coward by nature, he never dared to put any plan into action. During the day he found himself chilled, weak, and shaky with the hatred that suffused him. But at night he felt infused with a strange warmth while experiencing wonderful dreams of humiliation and torture. He felt as if some divine being was wrapping him up in its warm embrace and telling him all would be set to rights. He could not see the half-dozen small demons which surrounded him, taking turns whispering thoughts into his mind and warming themselves by the glow of his utter hatred.
When Sean learned that Kylara was set to lead the Sun-Greeting ceremony for the spring equinox, he became livid. No acolyte in their entire history had had such a privilege. But when that day came around, a mild illness made its rounds through the temple. It was merely an inconvenience for most, but Kylara found herself hit the hardest and temporarily lost her voice. The herbalist's remedy, which worked wonders for all the others, did not help the girl. Instead, she found her body fighting against it, breaking out into sores which would eventually turn to scars. To prevent this, the master ordered a healer to sit by the girl's bed and do what she could to minimize the damage. Unfortunately, the salve that the healer would normally use had already been depleted by a plague outbreak in a neighboring city and so she was unable to completely heal the damage.
Turning to her magics, the healer inexplicably stumbled while reciting the incantation. The result helped reduce the scarring but the process went too quickly and the girl found herself in intense pain as her body rewove itself. The pain caused her to scream, which further damaged her throat and gave her a permanent hoarseness.
With each new difficulty that cropped up, Sean felt the warmth and the dreams increase. So preoccupied with the way events were turning out, he failed to notice that he had begun to age prematurely. Deep wrinkles furrowed his skin. His hair began to whiten. Age spots dotted the backs of his hands and his skin began to thin. But these things did not matter to him. He was warmed by his burning hatred.
A Skrelleth demon is small and looks much like an imp. They are invisible to normal sight and immune to mundane weapons. They are drawn to deep-seated hatred and feed on its intensity. In turn they are able to send dreams and small thoughts into their host's mind to help increase the intensity of the hatred. To further boost the source of their sustenance, they are able to perform minor curses on the victim. This causes small inconveniences at first, but attempts to fix those will inevitably result in more debilitating circumstances. Cures for an illness become poisonous, spells go awry, accidents happen, sleep becomes fleeting.
This will continue as long as the hatred continues. Eventually, the hatred will begin to take its toll on the host, manifesting as premature aging. The three most common outcomes are: the victim commits suicide, the host has a change of heart and gives up on the hatred (this is rare), or the host's body gives out and he or she dies. Despite the aging, most hosts continue to hold onto their hatred. Watching a mortal enemy live in misery is all they seem to care about.
Sick party member: one of the PC's begins experiencing a run of bad luck. Whatever area the PC excels at becomes hampered in some way. A warrior breaks an arm while performing a mundane task and attempts to fix it leave the arm weakened. Wizards experience sudden memory loss and are unable to cast spells. The party must determine the source and put an end to it.
Old acquaintance: the party visits an acquaintance from years back, only to find he has aged too quickly. They must discover the cause and convince him to let go of his unnatural hatred.