The children run through the village, laughing and singing in harmony. The organist in the temple plays music that would rival even the great masters of the world. The dour fisherman, who smiles for nothing and no-one, hums a cheerful tune. Those who never had the ear for music wake up with perfect pitch, the harmonies sinking into them, resonating with the songs in their souls. Instruments are taken up and mastered, flutes and lutes and little harps. The town gathers at night and sings the deep songs, the true songs, the night songs, smiling and laughing as they dance and embrace.
Beneath it all, deep within the earth, the demon slumbers, growing stronger with each note that passes through joyful lips.
Mirig The Demon
Mirig is a patient beast. He is a hulking humanoid, covered in greasy fur and draped in a torn cloak, with the long legs of a canine. His arms end in hulking curled fists, halfway between a claw and a talon. His movements are full of hypnotic rhythm, each step taken as a beat in his song, each tilting of the neck performed to the chorus of screaming souls. His head is hidden behind a mask of bone and a single rose, but a glowing eye still pierces through one of the sockets, twinkling, full of joy, mirth, and a cruel playfulness.
When Mirig grows hungry, he finds a place where souls gather. Never a city, never less than a village. In the dark of night he prances through the streets, humming his catchy tunes, until he finds a place to burrow. Digging himself into the earth, he crystalizes and begins his slumber.
As Mirig sleeps, his essence begins to work its way into the people. The desire to sing takes them and they feel a giddy joyfulness when they follow through on those instincts. This usually starts with children and those already musically inclined, but it seeps into the souls of everyone given enough time.
Mirig’s magic is strong enough to tune the pitch of even the worst singer in the village, and those already with an aptitude for music find themselves ascending to heights they thought impossible. Composers write their masterpieces. An overplayed song accompanied by an old guitar can move a raucous bar to tears in a heartbeat. Everything, from the patter of rain on the roof to the incomprehensible murmur of a crowd takes on a melody of its own.
And, of course, there is the joy. Warring neighbors mend their grievances. Empathy sweeps across the village like a fog. Those without enough are given the extra from those with too much. Dancing and singing erupt spontaneously whenever people gather, and the songs last well into the night where they grow in volume and intensity. Birds gather along the rooftops and add their own chirping accompaniment.
As Mirig slumbers in his crystal cocoon, bloody, veiny off-shoots grow from his back and wriggle their way to the surface. These bloom into notelings, creatures with wide mouths, bat-like ears, and lungs strong enough for an endless ballad. They prance and dance through the village at night, singing new songs, kneading the demon’s music into the minds of the people.
On a moonless night, when the village is ripe with joy, Mirig’s notelings dig him from the rotten soil. Every home is empty, its occupants dancing, singing, and strumming in ecstasy throughout the streets. Bonfires, made from the stockpiles of winter wood, are lit and they dance around them, their eyes wide and faces stretched in wide smiles. Mirig prances through the people, pulling up his mask just enough to reveal a row of sharp fangs and his missing bottom jaw. He tears the villagers apart with his claws and shovels them down his throat. His demonic nature leaves him forever unsatiated, and the flesh of those he eats does not sit in his stomach—that would be a mercy. No, it is pulled straight to the hell below the world to burn for an eternity.
Mirig is protected by hell-magic, and cannot be harmed by any tool made by a mortal, even one of a magical nature.
Mirig has four unholy implements that he uses to defeat those who stand against him:
- An iron bell, the size of a man’s head. A single strike of the clapper can raise the dead—notelings pull themselves back together and Mirig’s mortal thralls return to unlife with hellfire in their eyes. Two strikes of the bell is a heavenly sound—mortals bleed from the eyes, the ears, and the fingernails; their mouths twisting up in a rictus grin of joy and beauty. Three strikes and a portal of hellfire begins to tear apart the world, sucking in the flames from nearby torches and bonfires. Mirig can use this to escape—the timing of the portal depends on how much nearby flame it can eat.
- A blood-red rose growing from the eye of his mask. A single petal plucked and placed under the tongue of a mortal enthralls them to the demon. They can no longer speak or sing themselves, but Mirig can project his own haunting voice through them. Mirig always has thralls in the village as he slumbers beneath it.
- His golden eye peaking through the mask. A moment of prolonged eye-contact is all he needs—such a look empowers him to know the emotional state and location of a mortal at all times. The effect is dispelled only when the person feels pure, unselfish joy or the demon chooses another. Mirig can tear free his eye to give to his notelings, who use it as a lantern and to gaze deeply at his enemies for him.
- A chain link armlet braced around his bicep. When Mirig is struck—by steel, iron, or bone—a flash of hellfire erupts as that person’s true Name is etched onto one of the iron links. Any wounds dealt to Mirig are shared evenly between the demon and the Names on the chain. There is room for three true Names—the oldest names turn to ash, replaced by the newest ones.
Other than his tools, Mirig also has:
- Claw-talons of demon steel that can tear through even the strongest metal and burrow through the hardest rock.
- Legs of a wolf that let him cover great distances and leap great heights.
There are three notes, sung deep in the depths of hell, not made for mortal lips to utter. A song of these notes can break Mirig. Three notes to bind him and defeat him.
The first note is Myr. The second note is Ryia. The third note is Gnis.
The notes can be learned in old forbidden tomes, from other demons, or straight from the lips of the notelings as they prance through town. The means of Mirig’s destruction are sung from his own spawn.
To sing one of the notes is to embrace hell and the pain and suffering deep within those depths. For every thirteen heartbeats holding a note a mortal’s flesh is torn by the demon’s magic. The notes must be harmonized and sung in order to be effective. You cannot sing Ryia without someone else holding Myr first, and you cannot sing Gnis without at least two others: one holding Myr and one holding Ryia. Be careful: when you sing the notes of Mirig, you feel an intense and powerful joy seeping into your bones. It may be difficult to stop singing them, even if it kills you.
Singing Myr binds Mirig to the note. He cannot move more than thirteen paces from the singer. A demon enraged is a terrible thing, and Mirig will immediately try and kill anyone singing Myr so he can flee—he fears those who use his magic against him.
Singing Ryia can negate a single one of Mirig’s implements. To negate all four of them it would take a choir of four separate singers holding the note.
Singing Gnis will shred Mirig’s fur and cloak in holy fire, revealing his demonic flesh underneath. The note will tear open his skin, exposing the slimy demonic heart. The hell-magic that protects him will wither and flake, and now is the time for mortals to strike—your weapons now harm the demon!
Learning to sing these notes is no easy task, but it is possible. However, anyone holding the note, even in practice, will awaken Mirig from his slumber. While he doesn’t know where you are, he knows what magic you fumble with. He will grow as many notelings as he can, sending them with his golden eye to seek out the singers.
The Treasures of Mirig
To defeat a demon is to become rich in the spoils of hell.
Mirig’s demonic heart can be used in all manner of eldritch rituals as a source of power, negating the need for anything else. To use such an artifact requires a great deal of control—be careful, lest the ritual twists itself out of your grasp.
The claw-talons can be forged into a single knife of demon-steel. Such a thing could cut through anything, but forging it is no easy task. To hammer the metal into shape takes three moonless nights and a blazing fire. The minor demons of the world are drawn to this process like moths to the flame.
The iron bell is not as strong when rung with mortal hands, but it still has power. A single chime can wake the dead from their slumber, but remember: no spirit is happy to be roused. Two chimes can make any man kneel, but he will resent the act. Three chimes can open a gate to hell, but what fool would unlock the seals of a door they cannot shut?
The blood-red rose will never grow again, but the petals from it still carry magic. Placing one under your own tongue renders you immune to the eldritch magics of the world that would do you harm. The taste of those petals might cause alarm, however—do you notice how sweet and intoxicating they are? Best not to have more than one a week.
The golden eye glows like a lantern and burns no fuel. Submerge it in oil, water, or blood and still it shines. But one must wonder—even defeated, why does it feel like Mirig is looking back at you when you hoist his eye in the dark depths of the world?
The links of chain are heavy on the flesh and the mind. Wrapping them around your throat—a necklace of hell-iron—grants you gifts from beyond this world. Your pitch becomes perfect, your timing impeccable, and the songs your lips sing are heavenly and pure. What power could you yield by tickling mortal ears with such a boon? Do you notice the chains tightening after every song you sing?
Compendium of Tables
|An acquaintance of one of the characters writes them a ten page letter going into great detail about their new found love of music. The back half of the letter contains musical notation of a song they’ve supposedly written. The music is haunting, jarring, and ugly, but underneath the rawness of it there is an aspect of joyful playfulness. The acquaintance has unknowingly included Myr in the song, but it cannot be found in the sheets of music—it only becomes evident to a trained ear if the song is played.
|An old demon hunter, past his prime and unable to continue, comes to the characters with word that Mirig has burrowed in the nearby village. The demon alluded him decades ago, and he only has two pieces of advice: plug your ears to the song and the song contains the way to defeat the beast. Yeah, he knows it’s contradicting. As payment he has a small fortune that, at this point in his life, he has no need for.
|A small boy, the son of a farmer on the outskirts of the infested village, has come to the characters with a wheel barrel. Underneath a tarp is a dead noteling. The boy recants the tale: his father began singing a tune, a single note, over and over. A pack of notelings came for their farm, dragging their father off. When the boy is silent, he begins to subconsciously hum that same tune…
|As they travel, a bird lands on the shoulder of the least musically inclined character, tweeting a pleasant melody. Given enough time, the music will sink into anyone listening, and they’ll feel the beginnings of a drive to visit Mirig’s village—only a short journey away. Experienced singers will recognize that one of the notes the bird sings is an impossible note—the note of Myr.
|A procession of young men and women dance provocatively and sing throughout the streets, never stopping long enough for those they encounter to steal a kiss—but not from lack of trying. The crowd grows as the procession teases and tickles the heartstrings, and anyone attempting to follow through on the flirtatious advances ends up taking up the song and dance.
|A man lunges out from an alley. His ears are plugged with wax and his mouth is scabbed over from sewn-shut lips. A bloody butcher’s cleaver hangs heavily in his hands. In a rage, he’ll try and cut down anyone singing. The crowds flee from him. If captured and his lips cut free, he’ll begin singing the note of Ryia as loudly as he can—drawing the wrath of Mirig under the earth.
|A wandering musician, taken by the song but still with his wits about him, strums on a guitar desperately as he walks the streets. If the characters look like out of towners, he’ll sing them a song; ostensibly about a man trapped at the bottom of a well, but clever ears will pick up the subtext: something deep below has infected this place and they should run while they can. If questioned, the busker will only sing the song over and over again.
|A woman nearby shrieks from inside her house. The crowd on the street ignores it, claiming that she’s been telling tall tales and is just looking for another sympathetic ear. Investigators will find her claiming to have seen a “man bat” in her cellar. The characters won’t find a noteling immediately but they will find a network of tunnels that the notelings use.
|One of the demon’s thralls, cloaked and singing with Mirig’s voice, dances through the street. They avoid people, but the song carries, seeping into the homes as they sing the note Myr. Trying to catch or corner them will result in them fleeing as best they can into the night.
|Down an alley, a group of notelings feast on the body of a stray dog. The breaking of bone and chomping of teeth is a song itself—the sorrowful storm of a slow dirge. Gnis can be learned from this music, but only by feeding the notelings more meat so they can continue their feast.
|A man lunges out of the dark at the group! He is deaf and recognizes them as newcomers. If they follow him back to his hiding spot, he will communicate Mirig’s hold on the village with pictures and gestures (he cannot read or write). He, however, is not immune to Mirig’s influence, only resistant—the vibrations and hums from the music still seep into the soul.
|A group of wassailers skip and dance between the homes, singing with joy in their hearts. They will try and draw in streetgoers to their merry band, growing hostile and angry if refused. The deep songs they sing are the strongest of Mirig’s nature, and skilled ears can pull out all three notes (Myr, Ryia, and Gnis) if they accompany the group for long enough. One must be wary of joining such a parade of infectious joy, however…
Design: Ty Pitre & Norn Noszka
Writing: Ty Pitre
Art: Norn Noszka
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