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Nanika and The Secret of the Graveyard Cult

Nanika Magus, Gunmage (Black Powder Phalanx)

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Nanika’s parents were aristocratic mages, and as such she was afforded every comfort one could imagine. Her privileged life was lived in a very comfortable home in one of the more affluent areas of Polathium, a contemporary tower that her parents had magically constructed to their exacting specifications with an abundant garden and small adjacent guest houses. Nanika wasn’t spoiled, but she was never lack for anything. As she grew her parents tutored her in magic, and hired some of the best alchemists in the city to help her with her studies. Her schooling was not solitary, but she never related to the other children. Be it that both of her parents were teachers at her school, or be it because of a self imposed isolation, Nanika was far more interested with reading and learning than she was the lives of other children.

She had friends, most of whom were in the clubs that she participated in but she kept them at arm’s length in favour of magical learning and the occasional short fiction novel. She loved mysteries, in particular the tales of one Vier Patience, a Venati detective who would invariably become embroiled in some conspiracy wherever he went. During her second year, she developed a closer relationship with one of her classmates because of these books, one Amethyst Careful who herself was Venati. Amethyst had the hooves of a sheep, and her mostly human classmates were none too kind about them. The two of them were not very popular, but they found a great deal of comfort in eachother’s companionship, for a time.

During their third year, however, Nanika noticed a gradual change in her friend; Amethyst began to dress differently, and had become more and more withdrawl from the friends they collectively shared. A new group of friends occupied Amethyst’s time, a group from a nearby school. While on the surface the sudden change wasn’t mysterious, Nanika suspected that something was amiss and took to investigating. She tried to make it appear, to Amethyst at least, that she wasn’t prying, but that only lasted so long. Their friendship did not endure the fallout, and Amethyst soon transferred schools.

This event, however, would stay with Nanika for a while. She changed her schedule, much to her parent’s chagrin, ignoring her talent for wizardry in favour of a more contemporary degree. She had decided to study to become a Black Powder Phalanx, a division of Gunmages tasked with searching out arcane crimes and bringing their perpetrators to justice. She was just a rookie when she stumbled on her first case. Some reagents had gone missing from a local shipment, and after Nanika had cross referenced them with her division’s tomes she came to the realization that somebody was likely planning to use a very powerful necromantic spell.

She followed the clues where they led; to a dockworker who had looked the other way, because whoever had stolen the reagents threatened his family, to a woman who worked at a local bar who noticed a suspicious group leaving in the directions of the dock on the night the crime was committed, to a child who nobody believed who swore she saw a similar group enter the graveyard the night before.

Investigating the crime was what fomented Nanika’s life as an adventurer; after that night there was no way she could stay in the city.

The night was overcast, a fog rolling in from the mountains nearby to blanket the streets, obscuring the Black Powder Phalanx team’s vision beyond a city block. They came upon the graveyard, and stealthily made their way in, beyond a hill to the back of the grounds. There, in a clearing in the wood, stood six figures, all of them chanting. Nanika recognized the spell, warning her commanding officer moments before a beam struck from inside the gathered group, hitting one of Nanika’s colleagues in the chest. He was ill immediately, doubling over and vomitting on the graveyard soil before a bullet rang out from the clearing, hitting him in the stomach. Their commander roared “Spell! They’re armed! Draw weapons!”.

The commotion broke immediately, the sound of bullets richocheting off of trees and headstones alike filled the chilly night air as Nanika ducked behind a tall grave marker in the shape of an angellic creature. A bullet destroyed the statue’s arm before Nanika leapt out from behind it and opened fire. One of the shadows in the forest had its weapon aimed directly at her, but her training allowed her to raise her hands and fire first. No words were exchanged, there simply wasn’t any time.

Her side was victorious, and her commander was already activating his sending stone to order a retinue of clerics be woken up and sent to the graveyard. As the mist cleared, Nanika took the initiative and approached the clearing. It was Amethyst, the girl who had been her closest friend, and the same person who had had her in their sights not moments ago. She lay dead on the ground, dressed in black cultist’s robes with a familiar sigil.

As the details of the case coalesced, it was discovered that Amethyst had joined a coven of Bullet Witches, and their ritual was intended to summon a creature who would enter the wizard’s college and steal the forbidden tomes of magic for them. Bullet Witches operated under one central credo; no magic should have a limit placed on it by any institution. Amethyst had fallen in with a group of people who had exploited her anger for their own gain, or so Nanika had deduced. But she wasn’t a victim; this had been her idea, and the thing that they had planned on calling was so dangerous there was no way that it wouldn’t have lead to deaths inside of the wizard’s college. Nanika was justified, but it still hurt.

Everywhere she looked she saw Amethyst’s smiling face. The store that they went to to buy their novels together, the confectionist who sold them sweets, even her own home, as vast as it was, had memories tied to it. It was a cruel fact that what she had done had tainted her vision of the city she loved so dearly. And so, on her commanding officer’s suggestion she set off to become an adventurer. He had called it practical learning.

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