Have you seen the monsters down by the harbor?
They show up during the nights. No, they're not vampires. Boats docked overnight find themselves being boarded by men who are more machine than man.
The worst part though? The eyes. The glowing red eyes.
Overheard from a conversation With Fazl, a Harbor Guard on Terrus
In the modern days of the Trigate Universe, the Planar Council is focused on protecting the planes from the outside threats that are mainly composed of Joukenhainen's forces on the border planes. However, there are still many malevolent forces on the planes belonging to the Council that are still strong and cause the Council much trouble.
One such force is the Cult of the Red Eyes. This technomagery cult is led by the Bone Skink, Zayik.
Zayik was once a promising student on Terrus studying under the famous human technologist Adam Adieus. Zayik was always an impatient student who sought out easy ways to solve complicated problems, often leading him to things more dangerous then he could effectively handle with his current skill. Though he tried many unorthodox and unethical experiments Adam always managed to keep him in line. However, Zayik did invent the Autosmith, which is an automated blacksmithing tool that is animated by a furnace spirit that happened to make him known in both inventing and blacksmithing circles. The Autosmith can be found in high class, famous blacksmith shops.
However, Adam was an elderly man and eventually, time got the better of him. Zayik mourned for a short time, and soon realized it was his chance to experiment unhindered by the old man's values and morals. Gathering every book he could find on the subjects of Alchemy, Engineering, and Artificing, Zayik got to work on an object that was an unholy fusion of machine, magic, and man.
He came up with plans to create a mask that would enhance his intelligence ten-fold. It took him two years to finish the mask but he was missing one vital component in the end; a soul that he could place inside the rubies in which the mask was adorned with. This particular component required Zayik to capture the spiritual essence of a Ruby Dragon. Zayik, however, was an intelligent and unethical man and decided that the essence of a newly hatched dragon would be much more powerful. Cruelty in his heart, he sought out his prey.
Several more months passed by before he found his prey but it did not come easily. While sneaking away with several eggs from the lair of a Ruby Dragon, he was severely burned and lost his left arm. Closing himself in his laboratory on Terrus, he began work on his final project.
Slaying the newly born dragons gave Zayik the needed souls he needed to complete the mask. By placing the newly constructed spirit rubies in the eye-sockets he completed his mask. He placed the mask on his head and gasped as the power rushed to his head. Words, thoughts, and ideas grew where there previously had been none. He fell to his knees as his mind changed from a minuscule void to one flooding with an ocean of knowledge. Where he had planned the mask to make him intelligent he had succeeded but with a drawback; the mask was inherently evil. Having been forged with the souls of children and made of impure parts, the mask slowly began its quest of devouring Zayik's being.
For some time, everything seemed fine. Zayik continued with other projects, such as replacing his left arm with the same technology as the mask. Eventually, Zayik realized his created arm was a lot better than his original arm. In a moment when the mask had taken over his mind, he sawed off his arm and eventually replaced that as well. It was then that he started to sink into depravity. The mask's mechanical grips began to tighten and his flesh began to decay. As the mask grew more powerful, Zayik's vision became more and more polluted. He started seeing things in only shades of red as his vision passed through the distorted rubies he had placed in the mask.
One day, Zayik went out into the town to get some supplies. Wearing a cloak to hide himself, he made his way to the market. When he had accumulated all he had wished to purchase, he realized he had forgotten his money, and the shop keep accused him of being a thief. In a moment of rage, Zayik reached into the shopkeep's chest and pulled out their innards. He soon realized only too late what he had done and ran back to his laboratory.
The police and militia quickly made their way to his laboratory and were sickened by what they saw; people of various races and genders flayed open on walls with machines hanging from their innards, as well as the corpses of many small animals; most likely stray creatures that could be found in any of the allies of the city. In a massive attack, Zayik managed to fight off the militia and police, using his metal claws and biting large chunks of them with the massive mechanical jaws he had given himself. His laboratory however had caught ablaze, so he ran to the sewers.
There, he had met others like himself; runaways, outcasts, freaks. The others were amazed with the pure strength and simultaneously frightened by the mask that Zayik possessed. Some followed him like servants, and it would be these few that would become the next to possess a mask.
That was over fifty years ago. Today, Zayik, also known as the Red Eyed King, has spread his presence all over Terrus and several larger cities on other planes. The bulk of his forces are in the portal cities on Terrus, though there are several cities in which they resume control over that do not have a Trigate.
They usually come out at night in large groups to plunder and loot, and occasionally cause other mischief. All loot eventually makes its way to their sewer headquarters, where the Red Eyed King or his highest ranking followers use it to create more masks for his followers.
The Ruby Eyed Mask
The mask was flawed from the initial moments of its conception. An unholy combination of magic and machine, once it came in contact with its wearer it began a process unalterably changing them. Eating away flesh and growing more metallic connections, the mask eventually replaces the wearer's complete face and if worn long enough, their entire body into a machine that is incredibly evil. The combination of the slain spirits of the dragon young with the spiritual tainted materials in its construction caused the mask to gain a vile intelligence that is completely unspoken of.
Zayik's body is now hardly Bone Skink as he is almost a complete machination of the mask. His massive mechanical form frightens anyone who sees it, even making his followers tremble. His gullet has evolved to a point where he can eat anything; flesh, bone and even metal.
The masks that are created for his followers do not possess intelligence, instead functioning more like tools, but the fusing process still happens. The entire face (and most of the head) is replaced with the mask, which possesses a steam-powered jaw with jagged steel teeth, giving them an odd appearance. Their eyes are covered with a thick red lens, hence the origination of the name of the cult. As members progress through the ranks of the cult, more and more of their bodies are replaced with similar machinery that drives Zayik.
Once the masks are put in place, they become vital to the life of the wearer. If the mask was somehow removed, they would instantly die from both the shock to the brain and the immense amount of bleeding.
The initial connection of the mask starts both a transformation of diet and the innards. The wearer becomes stronger, more durable, and more prone to rage. It also allows the wearer to eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths. One of the biggest weapons in the arsenal of a Red Eye Cultist is the massive jaws their mask possesses - many a guardsman in full plate mail have had huge chunks bitten out of them, plate mail and all. The masks also make their wearers lose any semblance of who they were before the masks are put in place, and also make it so they must obey the Red Eyed King or suffer as an incredible electric shock will course through their body.
Ranks of the Cult
The cult possesses many ranks, each one getting more and more maskware. There are also several specialized ranks for people who have talents above the normal ragged people who join up.
These are the lowest ranking members, and are usually only in this rank for several months. These Neophytes have nothing to lose as they have to prove themselves to the higher ranking members to ensure them they are deserving of a mask. They usually cover themselves with tattoos, and are considered "cannon fodder" for the higher ranking members’ disposal.
After the Unmasked have proven themselves, they undergo the surgery to have their masks attached to their skulls. Swelling with new found power, the Neophytes are really headstrong and arrogant, feeling invincible leaves them open to more attacks then a seasoned warrior would allow. The Neophytes make up the bulk of the cult.
Left Arm of Zayik
Having completed several tasks in the name of the Red Eyed King, the Masked Neophytes either have their left arm cut off and replaced or just replaced if they've lost it at a previous time. With a new sense of power, they have renewed vigor, but with more experience then the Neophytes makes them more seasoned warriors, less prone to the mistakes of their predecessors.
Mage of Many Teeth
Almost all members of the cult are uneducated commoners, however once in a while, a powerful magi of some sort joins the cult. To these particular members, they receive additional upgrades past that of the standard Left Arm of Zayik. They have a Mage-Jewel installed in their chest, that allows them to constantly harness magical energies, making them more capable then most regular magicians, however this constant amount of energy flowing through their bodies drives them slowly towards insanity.
Acolyte of the Mask’s Fury
After completing even more tasks and gaining more favor with the Red Eyed King, the members reaching this rank find their masks receiving their last and final upgrade to their masks, making them more powerful then before. The steam upgrade grants them even more power behind each of their bites, but also allows them to breath out hot, scalding steam that makes them an even greater adversary.
Most Acolytes never get the chance to become Full Metal, but those who do once again find themselves on the surgery table. Having all of their limbs replaced and their bodies reinforced, the Full Metal are extremely durable and strong. They are also given a ruby spirit feeder, which can grant them even more power for short periods of time by using the power of a spirit ruby.
Bearer of the Red Eyes
The final step of the evolution in the cult, The Bearer of the Red Eyes are the elite guardians of Zayik himself, and answer directly to him. They also usually are the ones that give out orders for the cult, leaving Zayik to make the more important decisions. They have a massive claw attached to their left arm, making it useless for anything but combat. They also have a magical shield generator, making them nearly indestructible.