The Tale of the Tezdonan Inscription

Ataraxia: Devil's Dawn

Welcome to Rixis

The docks of Rixis bustle with activity as Vili waits impatiently for the Nessus to finish docking. The gnomish mechanomancer practically vibrates with excitement as he stands beside his stoic Merfolk friend, Salas. The two had been catching up as they waited together. Salas tells Vili that he has come to Rixis on a diplomatic mission and has brought his wife, Ariel. Vili tells Salas of his new laboratory at the guild and his magical research. 

Finally the small but sleek ship throws down its gangplank and the crew begin walking down. Before any of the crew can step on dry land Vili and Salas are surprised to see an older Dwarven woman come plowing down the narrow plank. More surprising still is the sight of their fearless and stalwart friend Derek hurrying after her with an exasperated expression. The First mate-made-captain of the Nessus, Derek was clearly frustrated. 

"Come on Derek, be good boy and bring Mama's bag, eh?" The Dwarven woman yelled over her shoulder. Apparently her son, Derek obliges and puts down her simple rucksack. When he looks up to see Vili and Salas his black expression a little brighter. "Ho, boys!" Derek smiles, "this is my mother, Gorga Bronsworn, who I warned, TOLD, told, you about in my letter." Gorga, Salas, and Vili exchange pleasantries as they walk through the busy streets of the white city of Nessus. Vili and Salas learn that Gorga is an ex-adventurer hoping to get "back in game" Vili assures her that if he hears of anything he'll let her know.  

At Vili's lab the young gnome excitedly shows the group his latest invention. A large 7' mechanical beast in the shape of a long-necked fish like creature. "I got the idea from the taxi-fish in Abysrem!" Vili exclaims in pride and excitement. "I took everything I learned from the Inscription and used it to build this." Gears softly whirr as the beast raises its head and looks around. A slight blue glow can be seen to emanate from behind the eyes of the metallic creature. "His name is Tulvert" Vili explains as the creature shuffles over to inspect the group on its strangely dexterous flipper-feet.

The group hear a timid knock on the door as a wrinkled, bespectacled gnome steps into the room. "Vili we have a favor to ask you and…" the gome stops his sentence short upon seeing the other people in the room. 'I am so sorry, Vili. I, I had no idea you had company. I'll just come back later. 

"No, no, no Dr. Brulii! These are my friends you don't have to go!" Vili exclaims quickly. The group soon learn that the guild has a heard of a possible disturbance in one of the villages to the northeast of city. "Apparently there is a problem with some aggressive wildlife, and as you know it would behoove the guild to protect the people. This could be a good time to test out that creature of yours!" Brulii (now whiter than his own lab coat) says as he leaves the room in a hurry. 

"A quest for a hero!" Vili yells with exuberance as the group gather and head out of the city. They pick their way though shops and stalls of the alabaster city as they head for the gates of Rixis. Before they leave Salas takes the opportunity to bring the group to his temporary home in the market district and introduce the party to his wife. While visiting, Salas lets his wife know where he is going and advises her to be careful, especially now that she is carrying a child. "You know where the weapons are, if you need them" Salas says seriously to her. He ducks into a darkened back room only to emerge a moment later carrying a beautiful and deadly looking trident. "Let's go." 

The group take the better part of and hour walking to the farming village of Yannicks in the countryside near Rixis. After the uneventful walk the party stops at the gate, surprised. This appears to be a peaceful village. Nothing is wrong. The people seem happy and carefree, the guards are relaxed. Salas, Vili, and Gorga question a Dwarven guard who tries to tell the party that nothing is wrong. He insists that they are wasting their time, and that he has seen nothing out of the ordinary. He mentions that some  of the locals say that some people have gone missing, but he can't find any evidence. Salas is unimpressed with his slovenly demeanor and seeks out the local tavern to find out more. 

Inside the dusty pub the party sit and eat lunch. They question the bartender about these missing people. He tells them about the supposed victims, but reveals nothing more. As the party gets up and leaves he pulls Vili to the side to speak alone. "Don't get ahead of the Thieves' Guild on this one, boy" he growls. Vili assures him that they aren't going anywhere until they get to the bottom of this mystery, and asks him to keep their visit a secret from the Thieve's Guild. A sly smile crosses the barman's face as he reveals his guild badge. He is a Thief! Vili quickly gets up to leave, but turns as he crosses the threshold to say "We're going to get to the bottom of this, and we're not leaving as long as these people need help." 

At Vili's sudden urging the party darts out of the village only to stop a few hundred yards later. They pull off into the woods. Vili tells the party of his encounter with the barman. He warns the party that the Theive's Guild is not to be trifled with. Just as Vili begins to explain the long-standing rivalry between the Thieves and Artificers a huge creature suddenly bursts from the forest. A giant goat lowers its horns and bears down on Gorga, pushing the doughty dwarf back against a tree. Salas deftly pulls his trident from its strap and brings two lightning-quick swipes against the beast, striking its hindquarters. Tulvert's first real field-test begins as he takes a bite out of the side of the creature. To the astonishment of everyone, the flesh Tulvert rips from his enemy begins to rot away immediately. The party realize that this is no normal foe. Vili frantically pulls on his heavily patched cloak until he finds a certain black shape in the pattern. He grabs this black circle and pulls until the patch rips free from the cloak. In one motion Vili tosses the shape and the ground beneath the goat as he mutters a magical incantation. The moment the patch touches the ground it expands in three dimensions. Where there once was a patch of grass, there now exists a pit large enough to contain the monster. The goat falls down to the bottom of the pit and with a sickening crunch stops moving. 

Gorga, Vili, and Salas look at one another in the sudden quiet. Witout words all three of them climb down into the pit to inspect the unnatural creature. Vili realizes that the beast has been deeply affected by some kind of necromantic magic. He is barely able to begin speaking before all that remains of the creature is its skeleton. When he reports his findings to the group Gorga explains how she has encountered a similar magic before. A former Artificer, she explained, used something like a combination of Vili's work and necromancy to save her husband's life. Years ago Gorga's husband died while hunting a vicious beast in the mountains. Gorga carried his broken body to the Artificer who was able to remove her husband's spirit from his body and put it into a metal golem. 

Salas on the other hand takes this time to confer with Eadro, his patron deity.  While in a meditative state his nostrils are filled with the stench of evil as Salas sees a vision of Yannicks with seven spirits in seven geometric shapes floating above the city. Salas' holy connection has revealed an evil presence in the area. As quickly as the goat hit Gorga, a force that Salas cannot see throws him to the ground. The others rush over to him to find out if he is okay. When they get to Salas he tells them of what he saw in his vision. They decide to return to the village and inspect the homes where people were supposed to have disappeared from. 

The party move as quietly as they can through the village and come to the homes they were looking for. They find the father of a missing boy in the first house, yet he insists that his son is just off playing with some friends in the woods. Despite questioning by Salas and Gorga, the father doesn't budge. It appears that even if he is wrong, he believes what he is saying. The group then moves to the second house. Here things are different. The house is apparently abandoned, suddenly and without struggle. Dinner is laid out on the table and the food is still warm, but no one is there to eat it. Vili takes a few minutes to cast an elaborate spell to help see if any magical objects are present in the house. There is only one. A blanket radiating with necromantic energy. Vili gingerly stuffs it into his bag of holding to investigate more thoroughly later. 

Gorga, Salas, and Vili decide that the next step is to go into the woods these missing people have been taken from. The group set off northward and soon stumble upon a group of men, apparently hunting. Vili recognizes the Barman from earlier that day among the group, but before he can warn the others Gorga challenges them. As her gruff voice rings out through the trees a huge stag speeds past both sets of hunters. Everyone rushes after it, Vili trying to capture it, but the others trying to bring it down. The deer escapes into the woods leaving the opposing groups to face one another. The Barman tries to intimidate Vili and the others into leaving. "You don't want to get the guilds involved" he warns. When Vili doesn't back down the Barman grabs him in a headlock and holds a knife to his throat. "LEAVE, or the gnome gets it!"

Salas acts quickly. Centering himself in prayer, Salas seems to disappear. In an instant, with the sound of rushing water, he has switched places with Vili! After the theives' aggression a piched battle breaks out between the two groups. Gorga releases her rage and draws her mighty two-handed axe 'Seventh Son.' Her ferocity cuts through her foes as she rains blow after blow down on the men. Vili's alchemical formulas fly from his hand burning and blasting at the enemy, as he commands Tulvert to pin the Barman to the ground. Salas's trident shines with an otherworldly light as he lashes out at his foes. As soon as the fighting started something in the woods changed. An unseen force has begun slamming into people on both sides of the conflict, sending them flying across the battle. Only Gorga is able to fully withstand the invisible attacker. 

Both Vili and Salas try to deescalate the fight once they realize that there is something else at work. As Vili and Gorga focus on containing the thieves, Salas draws on the power of Eadro. He uses the guidance of his god to find the unseen foe and with a powerful stab manages to strike the being. Salas' holy power reveals a red demon, that crumples dead as soon as it was hit. 

Salas, Gorga, and Vili stand victorious, but aren't sure of what they've accomplished. They know that some kind of demonic force is at work. The Barman refuses to tell them anything. The people are still missing, and a necromancer appears to be on the loose. At a loss the party decide to return to the Artificer's Guild and report on what they've found. Vili shares a misgiving that they might have stepped into something much bigger, and the guild might not be pleased with him. All the same the trio turn to Rixis. 

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