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skwerl56767

[Open] The Forsaken World

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   This is a supernatural/modern-world sandbox (at least until all the demons destroy the sandbox because they're jerks who don't like to play with anyone). We're always accepting people! At the moment I won't be joining myself, but I'll still be here to manage the roleplay whenever needed.

 

   Plot:

   Far off in the branches of possibility there exists an alternate Earth (big shocker). This Earth has been forsaken by the angelic forces guarding it, for all mortals have turned their backs on them. All belief that there is a difference between good and evil has been destroyed in some way or other, and without anyone willing to call on them for help, the angels were commanded to leave. It would simply take a generation of hardship for these people to understand again why morals matter.

   Where there are no angels guarding, demons come in swarms. They no longer need to hide and carefully manipulate the minds of the people around them. Now, they can walk in their true colors, exercise deceit fully, show their faces and gather devout worshipers all at the same time. Sure, everyone is certain they're demons, because they certainly aren't normal, but they can't be pinned as evil or wrong when such definitions were considered subjective. The demons knew this. They knew that to give power to themselves, or to those they worked for - to empower their entire Realm and expand its influence and territory - they had to claim this forsaken world. The typical problem arises, though: they have to claim it first, and fast, before their rivals gained the upper hand and squashed their efforts, taking the planet for themselves. It's a mad struggle between supernatural powers the people have unknowingly invited in.

   With angelic forces gone, a permanent night fell, the light fluctuating only thanks to whether there were clouds or not. This alone would cause the ecosystem to fail, but the demons came in and promised to keep the land alive. This was their checkmate: to force people into factions serving them, in exchange for a sustainable, comfortable lifestyle. It was an easy way to gain followers and by extension, power. Some people know that despite their ability to do good, all demons intend to do harm in the end. Others turn a blind eye and say the exchange for a good life now is worth it. Some even embrace the demons' philosophies fully. Regardless, all are being harassed to join one faction or the other. "Join me, join me...!" One man grew sick of it, and sought to change it all. He figured, if all the malevolent entities from all religions exist, and so many of them are interested in taking over his world, how hard would it be to summon someone who could actually help?

   So that's what he did. That is how you came in. You are a supernatural entity, whether sent to this world, or called to it without your knowledge. You could be a cruel ruler seeking to conquer and gain more power, or an arch angel wishing to save these mortals. You could be anything in between! No matter what, it's going to be a hard struggle, as there will be plenty of powerful creatures opposing you.

 

Setting:

  • The place of interest is a landlocked city, set between two mountain ranges with a narrow northeastern corridor and expansive southeastern plains. The valley has a high water table, with lots of creeks, rivers, and ponds, but the air is dry thanks to the dense coniferous forest on the mountains and lack of storms. The mountains are quite impressive, and very rocky.

    • The largest body of water, the Pottoman River, cuts through the city. The Pottoman is calm in this area, but is a narrow, deep rapids up north near its source.

    • The marshiest land lies in the western mountains' shadow and heads north a bit. Here there's the highest concentration of ponds and converging tributaries. In the opposite direction, there are less bodies of water and wider, softer hills.

    • The east is warmer than the west, thanks to prevailing winds and a good sun exposure. Here the forests are more boreal, unlike the western forests, which are colder and strictly coniferous.

  • The city offers just about anything you can think of. Its metropolitan center is located southeast on the river, while its old downtown area is up north from that. The urban areas are around this. The industrial sector is south, and rural areas extend east to south. Most of the older parts of the city lie north. The city doesn't have much of a skyline; while it does have large buildings downtown, styled both old and new, they are a far cry from a metropolis such as New York.

    • The city is expanding down the river, since the valley is too narrow upriver and a lot of the land was turned into protected forest and wetlands, but there is tourism up here. The city is especially well-known for its hiking trails, fishing destinations, small Pottoman waterfall and, most notably, the Dominion caves, a vast underground network that hasn't been fully explored. Old mines, railroads, and other caves can also be explored. Aside from beef farms down south and some logging and mining, tourism is the city's greatest export.

 

The state it's all in:

  • It has been several months since the sky turned dark. While this strange darkness has revealed every supernatural being - simply called "supernaturals" - they came out of hiding slowly, starting with the brashest demons.

  • The initial chaos and panic is over, but relations with the supernaturals remain tense. Many people are scared or awed. Some are simply wary, or skeptical. Very few are ambivalent. A surprising number of people are thrilled and eager to help, seeking some kind of miracle in return. Most people will have seen a supernatural at this point, but it's safe to assume you won't trusted right away.

  • Zealous people have formed cults pocketing the city. At first their practices were kept in carefully-hidden areas, but now they're more open about the (positive) activities. Preexisting cults have also started showing up; it's scary, knowing how many there were in the city before this all started.

  • Thanks to some cults and proactive supernaturals, some larger followings (and the effects of their Realm's influences) have appeared. These are the factions mentioned in the Plot. They are eager to recruit people for their causes, just or not. There are also a couple of "vigilante" factions, consisting of people either opposing the supernatural invasion, or trying to remain normal despite it all.

  • As a supernatural, you also get to worry about the politics and warring between Realms, as many powerful supernaturals - mostly malevolent - are vying for control of the whole planet. Since this world is forsaken, not many of them are hiding anymore.

 

Technical:

  1. Usual roleplay etiquette applies.

  2. No sheets here. Instead, features we can use to describe your character when we meet will be woven into your posts. You can put this information in OOC if you can't fit it all into your intro post.

  3. I expect you to be prudent and know when you're powerplaying. The power level caps at what most people consider as "arch angel"/"arch demon". I describe it as: any fathomable power goes, but for more powerful actions other people need reasonable time to react to it (i.e. you could destroy the planet, but you'd have to give others a lot of time to try and stop you first). There are also the usual logical restrictions, such as your character not being able to immediately know something without reason, etc.

  4. As a general rule, the more unreasonable or powerplay-y an ability is, the more power your character needs to use it. This RP allows all supernatural beings to have any ability at any time, but using an ability requires power. Power is obtained by belief from mortals. So to use your wacky powers, you're going to need a following, or leech or be given power from another supernatural.

  5. Also important: I do not consider a power that doesn't affect its environment (like mind-reading) or has a very localized effect (such as on a single person) to be "minor". It boils down to what you're trying to do, not the scale or consequences of what you're doing. When in doubt, ping me!

  6. If someone doesn't post or talk for roughly two weeks, simply skip and move on. A ping never hurts to see if someone has gone inactive or not.

 

Lore Framework:

  • A Realm is a religion + its mortal territories where the religion's effects apply.

    • Realms have territories in multiple planes. Each territory pertains to the plane it's on.

    • Example: a religion with a paradise for the dead would have it in the Plane of Heaven. It could also have a place of torment in the Plane of Hell. It would also have mortal territories on the Mortal Plane, thanks to mortal believers.

  • Planes expand infinitely as more territories are added to them. They are like continents, and the territories are like countries on that continent.

    • A Realm can span planes, but planes cannot span other planes. However, a Realm's territory on one plane can be linked to its territory on another plane.

    • Example: a portal to Hell on the mortal plane would actually lead to that Realm's Hell, but it can't lead into another Realm's Hell. The portal would have to be taken over by another Realm for its destination to change; that, or an agreement must be made between the two Hells to effectively share the portal.

  • Realms expand using influence. Influence is a marker - you can liken it to an atmosphere, or a magic or curse - created by a being of that Realm or believer in it. Influence marks the Realm's property; it fades if not refreshed every now and then. Compounding the influence makes it stronger, which makes it harder to remove and last longer.

    • Influence can alter something physically along with claiming it. Many properties and creatures under influence impart different looks, feelings, sounds, evens smells and tastes, reflecting the allegiance of the Realm.

      • These affects do not have to be uniform between the Realm's planes. For example, if your Realm has a war-driven Hell, the Heaven does not also have to be war-driven. Your Realm's planes can have their own influences, and thus their own effects, but they will all be recognized as being part of your Realm.

    • All supernatural beings can spread their Realm's influence, via their own means, but it takes power to do so. Influence can be diluted or concentrated: so with a small amount of power, you can either put a strong influence on a small object, or a weak influence on a big object.

  • Supernatural beings gain power by spreading their Realm's influence. They can override another Realm's influence with their own to claim that Realm's territory. It takes more power than what it took to place the first influence to override it.

    • All supernaturals have their own influence, but in the case of minions, they've agreed to allow another, stronger supernatural to override their influence with its own. In this case, the minion spreads the stronger being's influence to empower it, and receives a bit of this power back as thanks.

  • Followers are desirable because a person willing to obey has allowed the Realm's influence to enter him, thus empowering the Realm, yet it cost no power to claim that person. Souls lend more power than bodies since they are eternal. Both are claimed separately.

  • Sealing a soul is how souls are claimed permanently; otherwise, followers that have been claimed could switch their allegiance to a rival. In many cases, sealed souls become part-supernatural, though at a cost. Some demons do this by ritual or offer contracts; all sealings though depend on the soul in question being willing to be sealed. Demons seek out sealings for extra power, but few ever get it. To have a sealed soul is to have a huge asset in the constant struggle for dominion.

 

   Roster:

   -AlexisV-

   Askee-ah:

 

   An oversoul entity born from the spirit and nature of velociraptors during their time on the planet. She has no form but controls many physical vessels, which are summoned at will and when called on by believers needing protection; these have effectively reintroduced velociraptors to the world. She was summoned back thanks to pop culture, which has also affected her raptor vessels: they resemble the six-foot reptilians portrayed on the silver screen, rather than the little feathered guys actually dug up from the ground.

   Holy sites are theatres and natural history museums. She desires to restore prehistoric forests, raptors, and her pack, despite the raptors living on in the form of birds. He considers her followers as part of her pack, and is willing to obtain more despite not fully understanding the complexities of sentient mortals.

   One of Askee-ah's "nests" (safe haven for her followers) is the Searchlight Grande Theatre. It's a five-story, honey-colored brick building with the first three stories having boarded-up windows. A torn art deco awning sits above the brass-coated double-door entrance. Its sign sits on the corner of the building, built for bulbs and neon lights which it now lacks. The lobby is small but built large, with a sweeping double staircase in the back, vaulted ceilings, and two crystal chandeliers with only a few working bulbs in them.

   Askee-ah's power to make vessels extends to general shapeshifting, demonstrated once when a pack of her raptors adopted glowing neon markings. She can teach others this ability, but it would cause the spiritual makeup of that person to change, to essentially compensate for the power, by adapting to it the way Askee-ah is adapted to it. It would mess up a mortal for a while, but going up a supernatural's tiers, the side effect lessens.

 

 

 

-ValidEmotions-

   Argia:

 

   Neutral-aligned entity akin to death, both in sparing souls not yet ready to be reaped and harvesting those that are. In her Realm she reaps souls, breaking them down into energy with her blade and returning it to the source, for creating new souls - as far as she knows, at least. If she doesn't, the soul will rot inside a shell of a person, which causes unnecessary pain. One of the Harbingers of Dark, balanced by the Paragons of Light, Argia served only to terminate lifelines as required by fate to maintain balance. Lifelines, while not visual, she can track through sensation, and some have different "textures". The two head figures of her Realm are Kirit and Meztli. Argia herself has been given multiple titles, including Cold Witch and Stealer of Light, although when she was summoned she was referred to as "Vengeance".

   Argia resembles a woman, wears a black dress and has bandages on her form, both tattered and fraying. Possess black feathered wings, which are new to her; they can "collapse" into the form of a similarly-colored shawl. Grey-white hair, ghastly skin, and dark eyes. She has a weapon called Atropis the Inevitable, a smoke a sorts that she can change at will. Known forms: a scythe and a broadsword, both with blades of polished iron.
   Oddly, coinciding with Argia's first experiences of anger and free will, her shawl - and by extension her wings - gained red tips. Atropis has a fracture-like defect in its blade, which is also new. She appears to be able to use her controlled resource of rage to cast minor illusion spells.

 

   Jorath ("Jay"):

 

   A demon who used to work to bind Soul Contracts, but has since lost bargains and status thanks to a botched Soul Contract for Malvorin; the claimed soul had been too vague on a single name. His true form is currently known to have dark horns that branch into two and are weighted by chains, and the remnants of wings, folded and bound by more chains which are staked into his back by dark bone spikes. The outer halves of his wings were sheared off long ago. The name "Jay" comes from his human life he had centuries ago, which few know about.

   One of his disguises is human, with muscular, somewhat dark, olive skin, unruly black hair with red streaks in it, and deep blue eyes. He wore a tank with a jacket and jeans, the latter has a chain loop on the right side; he has since gifted the jacket to Gabriel, and wears a long-sleeve with a grey jacket.

   Silver tendrils show under the skin when his adrenaline spikes, which radiate primarily from his chest. His chains are restrictive, not a power, and grow searingly-hot when he tries to say certain things. Sometimes, usually accidentally, these chains can lash out and attempt to bind others.

 

 

 

   -RavenWolf1010-

   Hrafn ("Raven"):

 

   An obsidian-colored she-wolf, daughter of Skoll and niece of Hati, from the Nordic Realm. Is the size of a horse. Is neutral in a way, as mortals would summon the god wolves for help during wars, yet the wolves are also destined to fell other gods.

 

   Gabriel:

 

   A defected warrior archangel native to the Realm. She bears a sword and has wings, though they can hide under a human form. Intends to take the Realm back from the influx of demons, but has waning power. Human-like form with grey eyes. Her sword has a "life" of its own, and a bit of an attitude. It is able to communicate in a way and change form if necessary.

 

 

 

   -Lycanious-

   Vaz:

 

   A demon with a focus on obtaining souls for clients, whomever the clients may be. Uses subterfuge and manipulation, as opposed to brute force, to make mortals sign Soul Contracts. Has cracked deals with many Realms and many mortals.
   Is able to change form. The true form is currently only known to have four, charcoal-coated feathered wings - the lesser set is smaller and set farther down the back- which have had most of their primaries and secondaries ripped out, ink-like blood, a seemingly-infinite, whip-like tail tipped by an arrowhead, and horns that go forward before arching up and inward a bit. An arch used to connect the horns, but is now broken.

   All of the true form's features are hidden when disguised. Known disguises: an amber-eyed gentleman with gaunt, angular features, blonde hair, and a sharp wardrobe, complete with a tailcoat and an unassuming grey scarf.

 

 

 

   -Merciless_Medic-

   Kansif "Bear-Mother":

 

   A half-orc from Kyrptmalwun Village, christened as a shaman by the blood of a mother cave bear. She follows Luthic, an orc goddess of nature, life, fertility, medicine, females, servitude, homes, new moons, and bears, who possesses a bear form which stands to 10' at the withers and has shimmering, runic fur. Kansif has deep green skin, claws, glowing yellow eyes, and long black hair. She wears fur wraps, a fur skirt decorated with bear bones and a rat skull, leather boots, a shoulder pauldron bearing two long and three short horns, a belt across the chest, a breastplate, leather bracers, and a special amulet with bear teeth and a dark shard. The amulet is her spellcasting focus: she can cast any spell she doesn't know with it once per day, but any more than twice breaks it.
   Kansif currently has these weapons: a greataxe (with an iron or steel blade and a silver blade) and a warhammer on her back, two handaxes sheathed on a waist belt, and a light crossbow mounted to the left bracer. Her left side also holds the crossbow quiver.
   She also has a Bag of Holding slung over her shoulder, which always weighs no more than 15 lbs. It has 20 ration packs, 3 cases of 20 bolts, 10 medical kits, a mess kit, a steel mirror, a signal whistle, a climbing kit, a whetstone, a waterskin full of water, a pouch of coins, and commoner's clothes.
   Known spells:
   -Using the runes engraved in her back, Kansif can see an individual's aura. Her eyes have a black glow when she does this. This is predominately to check if the person is magical.

 

 

   Other Notes:

  • Ditraxol is the name of the wrath demon Malvorin sent to hunt down Jorath. Smaalvir was a weedy little demon who's very low in Malvorin's chain of command, and favors the businessman act. He was uh... raptor food.
  • Auris Domniir Inc. is currently trying to establish dominion over the planet, and supposedly holds the Dawn, or the daylight of the world. The demon in charge doesn't have many relationships with other supernaturals, and most of its power is currently rooted in humanity's compliance. Its symbol is a sunrise.
    • Zeph'Jaalvir ("Zoe") is a known messenger. She was last seen in human form, with a sundress, sandals, and a sunhat. A small purple cape sports the corporation's symbol.
    • The sunrise symbol carries a hex with it. Those authorized to bear it are unaffected; otherwise, it will greatly cripple a supernatural, and can kill a mortal. This protects the corporation's brand.
    • The Dawn Lord (head guy) gave all supernaturals on the world a 48-hour time window to join the corporation willingly. Its code of conduct is, supposedly, reasonable, and in favor of protecting mortals. Supernaturals (particularly demons) who don't comply are risking being assimilated or driven out by force. All angels also have a heavy bounty on their heads.
  • Vaz can fashion and name "living" quills using his own wing feathers. All quills are black and charcoal-dusted because of this. The quills have their own personalities, can move on their own accord, and share a weak "mental link" with Vaz, used to know their whereabouts and handling; at greater distances, quills can only communicate to Vaz via The Compendium (a tome that acts as Vaz's repository of knowledge), which they remotely write in. If in danger, a quill may stab at an offender, injecting ink/ikaar in the process; in mortals it inflicts a sort of severe dyslexia, though supernaturals may be immune to it. Typically though they flee and/or send an alert to Vaz.
    • Fi'Faltuun, "Sealer of a Thousand Sins", is a refined and beloved quill which Vaz gave to Jorath. Her name means "Good Fortune". Has a golden hilt which her name and a shamrock leaf are etched in. She's fond of backhanded insults, verbosity, flowery wording, and is a stickler for grammar.
    • Lojaal'O'Ith is the quill Vaz gave to Argia. Has an ebony hilt with her name carved in it. She's reserved, pensive, and hesitant. Prefers illustrations over words. A very new quill, has yet to earn an honorary title.
  • Illstrund is the name Vaz gave the chain Jorath has on his hip, thanks to the one time it was accidentally attached.
  • Auras are what Jorath and Vaz use to sense other supernaturals. Vaz's is like inky parchment with gold flecks. Argia's is a burst of dark colors and embers. Jorath's is hunger, heat, iron, and silver. Kansif too can see auras, but what she sees differs due to her difference in Realm allegiance, and she primarily detects magic versus nomagic, as opposed to individual influence.
  • Jorath and Vaz appear to be from the same Realm, or at least know each other. Commonspeak is what they usually converse in, but they also know Oldspeak. Current Oldspeak words:
 
  1. aeiuwn = angels
  2. auris = dawn
  3. az = connecting word, similar to o or ra
  4. domn = dominate, master, keep
  5. -ge = adds commanding effect
  6. hatlo = tell
  7. -iir = suffix to apply an action to an object, like -er (i.e. master or keeper = domniir, binder = strundiir)
  8. ikaar = blood
  9. ill = bad
  10. ith = truth
  11. l'antiira = term of endearment referencing comforts of fire
  12. l'anvitra = light
  13. lokis = deceit
  14. nil = none
  15. nocturn = night
  16. o = connecting word which changes upon context
  17. pli- = male pronoun
  18. ra = the
  19. re- = your
  20. sht = to have
  21. solus = sun
  22. strund = string, connection, binding
  23. taak = demands, take
  24. terras = grounded, particularly in reference to weakened power
  25. vaz = scribe, write
  26. wulf = wolf, lupine
  27. xaal = secret
  28. xnam = to want
  29. yi- = pronoun I
  30. zuul = fallen
     
  31. Au = "but" or "am not"
  32. Yoklist entiga = unable to be trusted
  33. Thrixna wezlu, nannatuwa = safer now that you are gone

 

 

 

Edited by skwerl56767

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Askee-ah was born from the remains of gods gone so long from the earth that nature itself had forgotten them.
 
Sparks of belief, and awe, and reverence from the strange new creatures of this world gave her life again.
 
For a long time she only lived in the waking world in repetitive ceremonial portrayals that offered her no free will of her own. But she flitted through shadows of fear, and stalked the dreams of her believers. Her believers gave her size and strength and ruthlessness beyond the measure of the god-bones she was born from. And they gave her something terribly powerful: a  undeterred belief that she was a nearly unstoppable force against any strength man had to offer.
 
For a long time she was no friend to man. She was a hunter, a wild and savage creature without human morals, and her believers loved and feared her for these qualities.
 
But in time, a new ceremonial story was written, one of companionship and empathy, and belief in that was lightning-quick and strong.
 
When the sky darkened and fear came, some few called on the beloved terror of thier nightmares to protect them from the strange new powers that stalked the streets.
 
So Askee-ah's gained earthly forms in the shadows of the city, to protect her followers, her pack. As her presence became known and felt, her power and beleivers grew.
 
And after an absence of over sixty-five million years, velociraptors walked the earth again.
 
 
[Ooc: Askee-ah is a single "entity" controlling many physical vessels, which can phase on and out of existance at will, and when called on for protection by her believers.
 
Movie theatres and natural history museums are her holy sites.]

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She couldn't figure out if she was called to this place or if this place had always been within her reach. Her memory wasn't what it used to be, her mind and eyes filled with so many lifelines, so many souls. Argia shut her black eyes, closing out the unfamiliar world. Something was different here. The souls. They weren't the same as the souls she chartered to their destruction at the behest of her sovereign. Something marred their lifelines and twisted them, turning everything upside down. 

 

No. This wasn't a place she belonged in. But, it was a place that reached out for her. Power pooled here. With her eyes closed, she could feel it, almost dip her fingers into it, and it pulsed at her acknowledgement of it. Death was here. Balance and Imbalance. Her fingers curled around the dark staff of her scythe, wisps of smoke tickling at her ghastly skin. 

 

Argia opened her eyes, lifting her other hand to the grey-white hair draped down her shoulders in straight strands. Nothing about her seemed to have changed, not outwardly. But she could feel something different. The black, tattered dress wasn't different, nor were the fraying bandages that wrapped around her arms and torso, exposed where dress failed to conceal. Tension shifted across her back and the sound of feathers graced her ears. That was different. 

 

She glanced back, over her shoulder, and saw the movement of wings. Tattered, damaged. Black feathers were crinkled or falling. Those that still remained bled into white at the tips. She stretched the wings out, carefully pulling one forward with her hand to inspect. Argia wasn't created with wings. And yet, in this place, they were as much a part of her body as her arms. She frowned. The decrepit state made her wonder about any perceived ability to fly. She let the wing go and gave them a hesitant flex. They obeyed, rising and falling in slow sweeps. She could feel strength in them. Air stirred. Flight was possible, she determined.

 

A faint hum floated from her lips as she studied her surroundings. A city drowned in darkness. Not wholly unfamiliar, but no less different. Argia began walking, the ends of her wings trailing softly against the ground. Her scythe dissipated, the smoke reshaping as a broadsword that glistened with polished iron. Atropos, the Inevitable. She wasn't here to claim souls for destruction. Not yet. She couldn't place a name to it, but something called within her bones, within her power. 

 

A dark entity sprinted past her, slipping to a stop a moment after. It turned its beastly head towards her, red eyes sparking. It wasn't a creature Argia had seen before, but demons were demons. The beast regarded her as she regarded it. Then it grinned and lowered its head briefly before continuing its original path, darting into the shadowed reaches of the city. 

 

"You've come!" Argia twisted, facing the sudden voice. Before her, a gaunt man in loose clothing fell to his hands and knees before her, muttering a chant or prayer beneath his breath. She stared at him, not certain how to respond. A few moments after, he lifted his head and crawled forward. "Vengeance. You've come at last."

 

"I don't understand what you speak of. I am not vengeance. I am what is laid out before everything. I am determined before one has the chance to breathe their first breath." Argia crept a step backward, jerking her foot away as the man touched her worn boot. "Did you call me here? Where am I? What has been done to me?" She could feel more calling to her, but not because her sovereign had determined life or death.

 

"We called you, yes! You are our Vengeance and our Judgement. You are Death and Life." The man had stopped moving closer, but his bloodshot eyes and weathered face continued to stare up at her.

 

"Death and Life, you are not quite wrong. But I am not its lord, only its deliverer. What is this vengeance and judgment you claim?" Argia glanced at Atropos again, the sword humming in her hand. Were the two somehow related? As she studied her blade, a glint of black raced through the metal, as if someone tried to repair a crack that had developed. That was never there before.

 

The man rose on his knees, reaching his hands up to her. "They are all one and the same! This world is tarnished and must be held accountable for its sins. You are the bearing of that judgement! There are creatures and humans here. Some have followed your rule with utmost loyalty. But others have not. We, your devoted, have opened the path for your arrival and you have come!" He turned his head to the side and motioned with an arm. "I brought others with me; we were hoping for your appearance and remained as prepared as we could be. I hope we meet your expectations."

 

Argia followed his attention, witnessing as two other humans and a beast, not wholly unlike the one from before, came out of hiding. Like the man, the newcomers lowered themselves to the ground, bowing at her feet and uttering prayers. There was something wrong here. All of this was new, too different, to her and she took another step away. "Expectations?" Part of her knew she shouldn't have asked such a question.

 

"For sacrifice, of course! You are newly arrived, so it is fair that you might not realize. You need power here and power is what we are willing to give." The man smiled at her. 

 

No. 

 

It was all wrong. She did not take sacrifice. Her sovereign did not take sacrifice. She stepped back even further and Atropos vanished from her grasp. Her newfound wings unfurled. Argia hesitated as she watched their faces twist into disbelief. Wetting her lips, trying to dispel the dryness in her throat, she said, "You do not meet my expectations. I will not take something so inferior." Then she powered her wings and fled from the small group.

 

[[Whew. Sorry. I hope this works out. 

In case it wasn't quite clear enough: when Argia thinks of souls and "claiming" them, she is referring to "the old way" from where she originates. Not this "new" method that occurs in this new world.]]

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Posted (edited)

Why am I here?

 

She felt a wane in her power. This was not her realm. 

 

There was an unsettling darkness here. She did not feel the presence of her father or aunt. For the first time in thousands of years she was alone. The obsidian-colored wolf turned her mighty head skyward towards the odd darkness that blanketed the sky. This couldn't be Ragnarok, could it?

 

What happened to this place?

 

The wolf turned back from the sky and took in her surroundings. From what she could tell it was a place much like her own Midgard. However, here the people had seemed to have strayed from the old Norse practices. Bending down she finally noticed a circle painted around her with her name in runes. Hrafn. So, not everyone had forgotten about the Norse ways. And now she knew how she had ended up here. She had been summoned. The forest was quiet aside from the occasional chirp of a bird. The she-wolf pinned her ears back and huffed, annoyed that she had not been at least greeted by whoever had summoned her. What now? Left with little other direction she set off to try and find whoever had summoned her. After that, she would have to find a way home. She wanted nothing to do with these mortals, or this realm, especially if they did not respect her enough to at least greet her after summoning her. 

 

((Hrafn or "Raven" as she'll also be known as is the daughter of Skoll and niece of Hati. If you aren't familiar with them, they are the wolves who chase the sun and moon in Norse mythology. I think I might have another character or two, one for sure an angel but if all the angels are gone I'll have to maybe change her up a bit. Got some ideas though.))

Edited by RavenWolf1010

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Lurking on the outskirts of the downtown area, an unassuming and quaint little coffee shop was beginning its metamorphosis into the catalyst for hundreds, if not thousands of souls to be claimed by the malevolent forces that eagerly hungered for them.

 

“Sorry, just, can I take some time to think about it?”

 

Or at least, it would be, if mortals weren’t so mind-numbingly, obnoxiously, absolutely fickle about everything they did from the moment they decided to encase a perfectly good soul in a prison of flesh and bone to its inevitable escape.

 

Vaz forced another smile across their face for the man across the table from them, making sure to coat their next few words in an extra layer of honey. The human had only suggested that they were reconsidering the deal Vaz had meticulously laid out for them after all, not that they didn’t want to go through with it any more. He didn’t deserve a total disdain for his existence just yet.

 

“Of course, my dear.”

Purred the demon, resisting the urge to redirect him to someone or something far more vengeful for wasting their time. Without breaking eye contact, Vaz reached for the pile of business cards beside their drink and slid one across the table. They waited patiently as their companion contemplated the symbol of a quill resting in an inkwell and the matching gold lettering beneath it, and chuckled when he finally decided to pocket it.

“I suspect that we’ll be in touch again shortly though. You know where to find me.”

 

The visitor stood abruptly, signalling that their discussion had come to an end. Vaz lazily watched on as the portly fellow fumbled with his belongings, rambled something about a late doctor’s appointment, and scurried back out the door he came through. Once out of sight, their gaze slowly shifted back down to the untouched croissant and half-empty, unpaid for cup of coffee across the table and Vaz emitted a small ‘tsk’.

“Typical. No wonder they’ve given up on this place.”

 

A sigh emitted from Vaz as they lounged back, whisked the business cards back out of sight, and switched their attention to their own reflection in the window beside them. The angular, tired face of a sharply-dressed gentleman with amber eyes and a few too-many pointed teeth sneered back at them, and Vaz wondered whether they could scrape together enough remaining energy or owed favours to craft a friendlier look for themselves. The dull, ancient ache across their shoulders seemed to intensify in protest to that, and for a brief moment Vaz was tempted to unfurl their wings right here and drop this ridiculous guise all together-

 

No. Not here. Not ever.

 

Vaz had always taken pride in the subtlety of their manipulations. Sure, much of their demonic brethren had the audacity to storm through the towns right now in all their agonising glory, but Vaz refused to work on the principle of fear. A single, willing soul artfully coaxed into the clutches of their peers was worth multitudes more of those beaten down and torn from their mortal shells. At least, that’s how it worked in Vaz’s book.

 

Vaz loathed this place. It was chaotic, miserably-cold for a demon used to the warmth of their domain, and if they ever tracked down the being responsible for their untimely summoning then perhaps they would consider breaking some of their own rules for once.

 

Still, there was work to be done. It might have gotten unnecessarily complicated in this realm, but it was to be done all the same. Vaz pulled the strings of their mortal vessel once more and slid out of the booth to go and pay for both meals. At least the woman at the counter was kind enough to spare them a few coins and a sympathetic smile over the matter, and even if she had a somewhat inaccurate impression it was nice to hear a genuine ‘good luck with the next one!’ variant once every few centuries. Vaz responded by leaving a few of the papery-ones in the jar beside her and took their leave, shivering slightly as the cold of the outside world hit them once more.

 

After buttoning up their perfectly-tailored trench-coat and adjusting the much shabbier, greying scarf around their neck, Vaz began a brisk stroll through the streets. They had no particular destination in mind at this stage, but sometimes all it took to sign off on a new Soul Contract was to wander around a forsaken place looking like you knew how to get someone out of it.

Edited by Lycanious

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One of the vessels that was Askee-ah chased a man through the deserted streets at breakneck speed. The man was fast, but not fast enough.

 

He'd threated one of Askee-ah's pack, demanded... food, or life essence, something of that nature. Much of the complexities of human life escaped her comprehension, though she was slowly learning.

 

She screeched and pounced, claws grappling at the man's collar and clothes as he tried to scale a chain link fence. She hooked a killing claw through a hole in the fence for momentary balance, then leapt back as the man fell. She could have easily and precisely ended his life with her claws, but she was careful not to deliver a fatal injury.

 

One thing she learned early on was that humans considered all other humans part of pack, a very large pack with very loose loyalty, prone to infighting as if deeply bereft of an alpha pair to provide order. But humans were still loyal to the pack, even to packmates who hurt them and tried to rob thier share of food. They became upset if those packmates were seriously injured or killed, even if a packmate had done something unforgivable that made it not a packmate any more. Askee-ah was powerful, and could divide herself into almost numberless raptor-vessels, but she was one, and the humans of her pack were many. So Askee-ah abided by the strange agreed upon rules of her pack, as complex as they were.

 

She hissed and growled and tore at the man's clothes and nipped at his flesh, making an excellent show of attempting to capture and kill him and just barely missing her marks.

 

The man tired quickly, and she allowed him a chance to escape. He probably wouldn't return, and if he did, her packmate (one of *her* pack, she thought with fierce pride) could call on her again in an instant.

 

One of her was still at that human's side, standing guard and providing comfort. The human wasn't a skilled fighter, and was frightened and demoralized.

 

The Askee-ah that had let the man go gave a satisfied trill, and bobbed her head a few times, cleaned her claws against her hide, and trotted back the way she had come.

 

She had noted a scent-trail during the chase, finding it again with some difficulty in the damp weather, though it was reasonably fresh.

 

Humans were not to be hunted for sport. But demons had no such protection, and consuming them often provided her fragments of knowledge and power.

 

She summoned three more of herself in the gloom, and began to follow the trail.

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Her wings were tired. 

 

After the initial adrenaline from her abrupt departure began to wane, Argia could feel the strain in her back. Her wings began to flounder and she dipped closer to the rooftops. The small group she'd left behind was long out of sight but more humans had become visible. They occupied the dark streets, some making startled sounds and gestures as she passed above. Others seemed undisturbed by her brief presence. This world was strange, so different from where she should have been. At least the humans hadn't changed too much, from what she could determine. They looked and sounded as always, despite the alienness of their lifelines. 

 

Wind pushed against her, swinging her down to the edge of a building. Argia sucked in a breath and tried to twist her body to avoid hitting the structure. Mostly, she succeeded. Her foot still kicked the layered bricks and her wing rubbed against the corner. Struggling, she rose higher to avoid the next building. She needed somewhere to land, a safe and quiet place. Too many humans were scattered about for her comfort. 

 

A running figure captured her attention and, looking down, she only caught a glimpse as a human sprinted out of view. But the reptilian creatures left behind were unfamiliar and strange. Everything was strange. Argia flew towards some of the less populated side streets, her exhausted wings flailing in fruitless attempts to keep her aloft any longer. She needed only a moment more, only a few feet further, and she could clear another building. Straining, Argia felt her wings give up and she gasped as she plummeted to the rooftop. 

 

Her body smacked against the asphalt and gravel that made up the flat roof, momentum bouncing her into and over the shallow ledge. A single shout escaped her lips as her hands searched for something to grasp. Feathers filtered past her vision. Her shoulder clipped something metallic; a fire escape. Desperate, Argia snatched at the bars that rushed upward. Her fingers curled around cold metal, her body jolting. Groaning, Argia looked upward as she swayed, then down. She'd only fallen partway down but there was still too much space between her and the ground of the alleyway. 

 

She studied the platform of the fire escape one level below. She studied the platform she hung from. Climbing up the foot or two of bars would be easier than trying to swing herself into the lower platform. But her body hurt. Her wings drooped, as if lifeless. She lifted her free arm, grasping at the bars. Grunting, she started to pull herself up. Pain spasmed through her chest and back as her right arm seemed to collapse. Had her shoulder been dislocated? Dangling again, she hissed at her misfortune.

 

Either she would have to drop onto the next platform down or convince her wings to work for a moment more. She'd rather try the platform. If only she had a few more inches, she could brace her feet against the top railing. But, she wasn't about to try shuffling her hand down two more rungs on the railing she currently held. Argia glanced at her wings, hoping they would start working again. They only gave her a bare twitch, a tired shift. "Dear me..." she breathed. "What sort of mess--" She shook her head and gritted her teeth. 

 

She released the bars and dropped. Her wings, sluggish as they were, lifted and fluttered with no sense of rhythm. One slapped against another railing, twisting her body mid-fall. Argia hit the ground with an audible crash on the edges of a trash heap. Water splashed against her left shoulder but the sensation of it came second to the pain that flooded her flesh. Argia's vision ebbed out and back in, and she blinked several times to clear it. She didn't dare to move, no matter how undignified she feared she might look. 

 

Healing wasn't a primary necessity but it had its uses. Not everyone was so willing to die and have their soul ripped apart in the name of oblivion. And Argia didn't always fend off ordinary humans, not when Paragons existed to balance out the nature of beings like her. But her healing, as superior as it was compared to humans, still required time. So, time she gave it. Closing her eyes against the heat that seared through her back, she drew in a sharp breath. On the exhale, smoke flittered past her lips, sparks of green flickering in and out of existence. After a few moments, she sat up slowly and picked herself up, stumbling as her legs worked to support her weight. 

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The coppery scent of blood was one that was all too familiar to the she-wolf. Years of war flashed through her mind as the smell made her mouth water. What was injured? The forest around her blurred as her pace quickened and her sight narrowed. So hungry, when had the last time she'd eaten been? Even though eating regularly was not necessary for her (her influence could satiate hunger, the more there was the less she would have to eat as it made her closer to 'immortal'), in this realm it would seem as though she would have to adopt such practices once again. The smell of blood overpowered any of the other scents in the area as she came upon a small mountain stream. Blood was everywhere, as if someone had tried to paint with it. She lowered her head and stepped forward cautiously. This was no animal blood. And a stray body part confirmed it. 

Backpedaling, Hrafn scanned the trees and bushes for a possibly still lurking threat. Whatever did this had done it for the simple joy of killing and dismembering this poor mortal. Her hunger subsided, unable to bring herself to eat the human. While her farther and aunt had no qualms with it, she drew the line at eating the very beings that gave them their power and strength. Keeping her senses sharp the wolf searched the area for any hints that might point to whatever had done this and where it might've went. While searching she found a knapsack stuffed with various maps, Nordic books, and paint. So this is what happened to the poor *******. The wolf gingerly pulled the maps out and did her best to unfold them. There was just enough light to make out some of the details of the map. A city meant people. People meant she could find someone to explain what's going on and then she could begin to figure out a way to go home.

Without a compass, the sun, or even a moon to giver her a sense of direction she decided that following the stream was her best bet since water flows downhill and it was probably her best bet to get down and out of the forest. She turned back to study the grisly scene one last time. Outside of typical Norse traditions, burials are usually customary. Yet Hrafn preferred to let nature take its course more naturally as her father had taught her. "Fara til Valhallar." She bowed her head in a respectful farewell and headed downstream.

 

----
The apartment was dingy and dark. Of course everything here was dark anyways so it shouldn't have really mattered. Gabriel twirled her sword into the wood carving an indent as she did so. A show played quietly on the TV but she payed no mind to it. The defected archangel was far too deep in her own thoughts to give a damn about anything else at the moment. It had only been a few months since her brothers and sisters abandoned this world. She could never bring herself to do it though, she loved the humans far too much to simply let them fall to the demons or any other beings that would now come and try and stake their claim. They ridiculed her for it, calling her a fool and telling her how she was going to die and they needed to learn. If she died on her sword so be it. It was more than her kin could say they'd do, claiming how much they loved to protect humans and yet choosing to forsake them. Sure, they make mistakes. That's why they're humans. It one of the things that set them apart from the "high and mighty" angels. Gabriel knew better though. Angels could be just as flawed as any human. She embedded the tip of the sword into the wood floor with a yell. They're the foolish ones. Even if humans had turned their backs on the angels, Gabriel still had faith in them as humans. The only issue was was that she was going to need help, and a lot of it, if she wanted to take back the realm from the demons. Given her massive wane in power she was no longer in shape to do much of anything though, archangel or not. There was just enough faith left in the world to keep her from becoming mortal but with each passing day it was fading.

A loud banging from underneath her snapped her from her thoughts. "Keep it down up there!" Came a muffled voice. The angel buried her face in her hands. What had she come to? With a heavy sigh she pulled the sword from the wood and got up and placed it on her kitchen table. As far as she knew none of her neighbors suspected her of being a supernatural, much less one of the archangels. It was certainly beneficial that without a heightened sense or seeing her with wings she could pass for human easily enough though it was getting more difficult to hide her true form though as her powers faded. If she was going to make anything happen, she would need to do it soon.

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Vaz found that tonight’s stroll through the town was an unusually serene one given the fate that had befallen this world. There were people around, plenty of them, but for once they seemed disinterested in the gaunt, overly-dressed man that weaved past them. Normally Vaz would revel in the silence, but the absence of new soul contracts was starting to take its toll on the tired old demon. Catching the attention of the greedy and the power-hungry would be a welcome change, for once.

 

Soon giving up on any sort of luck for the night, Vaz found themselves nose-deep in a recently borrowed magazine when they heard a set of sharp gasps sound beside them. Instinctively Vaz brought a hand up to their temple and ran their spindly fingers though golden strands of hair, checking for a set of horns that might have been protruding from it. Blasted things, never staying put. When they safely concluded though that, no, nothing was out of place, Vaz glanced up and followed the gaze of a startled couple pointing skyward. A winged being drifted above them, the demon following its movement with mild curiosity in the hopes it was a familiar face.

 

They overheard one of the humans ask the other if it was an angel, and Vaz’s attention snapped briefly back to them. A short, sharp bark of laughter at the absurdity of their statement escaped the demon’s maw, earning a look of confusion from one and a glare from the other. Vaz waved their hand in a half-hearted motion that suggested they should just ignore the strange, overly-dressed man that had been eavesdropping on their conversation and switched their attention back to the magazine. The thought of any angel daring to stick around now that the floodgates had opened was...bizarre at best. Downright hilarious, even.

 

Still, Vaz had to admit the figure did kind of look like one. And a very drunken one at that, judging from the shaky flight-path it had taken through the air. It seemed to dip far too close to the buildings below, and Vaz could have sworn they saw it clip the edge of the rooftop before plunging out of sight. 

Perhaps they’ve Fallen.

Suggested an idle thought, disrupting a fascinating article on the Top Ten Must-Have Kitchen Appliances. Vaz snorted at the thought, turning the page even though they were no longer absorbing its contents.

So? 

They asked themselves, as they squinted at one of the pictures trying to remember what a microwave was and why it was so expensive.

So you should go make sure they aren’t getting torn to pieces by anything.

The dull ache in Vaz’s shoulders returned, and the demon sighed as they realised the voice in their head wasn’t going to shut up until an investigation was on the way. Rolling up the magazine like a baton, Vaz heaved themselves off the wall they were leaning on and headed for the building they’d last seen the strange figure flutter over.

 

It didn’t take long to track down the new arrival, thanks to Vaz’s obsessive habit of staring down every nook and cranny they came across. It turned out that the winged figure hadn’t flown much further than the demon’s line of sight, crashing a mere few streets away from where they had been lurking. By the time Vaz had spotted them they were shakily staggering back onto their feet, and Vaz took a moment to quietly soak in the situation near the alleyway entrance.

 

Eyes flickered to the useless, glorified tufts of feathers that hung at the woman’s side, and that was enough to convince Vaz that this had to have been a Fallen Angel. And a recent one at that, judging from how disorientated they looked.

“Throwing you out with the rest of the garbage was a nice touch.”

Called the demon, doing their best to look casual and unthreatening as they took another few steps into the alleyway. 

“You must have done something terrible up there for that.”

Edited by Lycanious

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Staggering sideways, it took Argia a few moments to regain her balance. Once steady, she felt along her right shoulder, fingers dancing tentatively across her skin. She grasped her arm, inhaling the discomfort. Could she pop her shoulder back into place on her own? She'd never tried before. But then again, she'd never fallen some couple hundred feet to the ground before, either. Now that she could add the event to her list of experiences she hadn't wanted, Argia--

 

“Throwing you out with the rest of the garbage was a nice touch.”

 

She didn't jump, but that didn't mean she wasn't startled. Spinning to face the newcomer, Argia's precarious balance protested and she stumbled a step before she caught herself. How had she not heard the individual arrive? Humans always made too much noise. She scrutinized them, dark eyes sweeping down and up to take note of their groomed features. "I have done nothing," she said. "My sovereign designs Fate, designs Life and Death, and I am naught but his deliverer." Their lifeline wasn't right, not for a human. Not the same knotted lines as other humans in this foreign realm. "This is not where I belong; something brought me here." 

 

Argia lowered her hand from her limp arm, wondering how much vulnerability was safe to show. I am not trash, either, she thought. She knew she looked undignified with water soaked into part of her clothing and hair, and dirt clinging to her flesh. The individual didn't need to rub it in. Glancing at her wings, crumpled feathers and all, she frowned. "I do not belong here. These are not my wings. They changed me, those who summoned me here." Snapping her gaze to the newcomer, she felt her fingers tighten around the staff of her forming scythe. "Are you one of those strange zealots? Those who think my sovereign demands sacrifice? I am not your Vengeance! You will send me back home so I can continue my task as was laid out."

 

She tried to stand taller, to present herself in the manner she ought. Her back flared with pain though and she grunted, her wings spasming as if trying to flee from a threat. It threw her off balance and she used her scythe as a steadying crutch. Argia sucked in another deep breath, exhaling more green-flecked smoke from her lips. In the next heartbeat, the pain ebbed away and she sighed. Panic would serve her no good here. 

 

Her gaze shifted to the stranger again. She studied them more. They weren't human, that much she could sort out with an attentive mind. Regardless... She looked away, frown pulling at her features. "My outburst was not becoming. You don't appear like the others, but I've only had an encounter with them in this place. It is difficult to know what to expect." What was it that humans said? Making amends was something Argia only ever witnessed, not something she was meant to do. There was nothing to apologize for bringing death or preserving life. And yet, so many often lashed out at her as if she had committed a wrong against them.

 

This time, however, she had been the one to lash out unjustly. She could pass it off as a response to their insult of calling her "garbage", but it wasn't in alignment. Oh-- "I am sorry." Those were the words. They were unfamiliar to her lips and she was certain she pronounced "sorry" incorrectly. Possibly. It seemed like a simple two-syllabic word to form. 

 

"You seem familiar with the workings of this realm. What are the rules I must follow? What is this place?" As her words quickened, she began to realize that she could not hear nor sense her sovereign. Panic wanted to surge back up and she tightened her grip on her scythe, trying to will it back down. It almost felt like she was cut off, lost and trapped within a domain without clear guidance. "Please." Her voice came out much softer than she had intended. "Any guidance would be appreciated."

Edited by ValidEmotions

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The three raptors had climbed fire escapes and window ledges up to the rooftops, and from there tracked thier quarry silent and unseen.

 

They'd almost had a good chance to pounce, once or twice, but the demon was walking close to crowds of humans.

 

So she hung back, scenting the air and watching with eagle-sharp eyes as the demon came briefly into view between gaps in buildings. She'd loosed a bit of her power and given two of her raptor-vessels a flicker of free will and independant thought. It made them more cunning hunters, though somewhat less than immortal, and they would complain if bidden to return to non-existance. She enjoyed the sense of kinship they gave her most of all. Few of her human pack could join her hunts in anything more than a rudimentary fashion.

 

Askee-ah leapt quickly and quietly from one roof to the next, eyeing the demon a few blocks away. She could sense that none of the humans on the ground were her believers, (there was one in the building beneath her, but he was asleep in a nest.) but she had learned well enough that humans placed heavy significance and symbolism on things that caused them to be hurt or distressed. Trying to fully consider it gave her a uneasy kind of existential headache, but it meant she didn't want to fight a demon where there was risk of injuring humans that might become packmates. Even if she didn't want to think too hard about why she took that action.

 

After a while the demon rested, examining a colorful leafy thing. Askee-ah liked to play with those, and sometimes they hid tasty treats. Perhaps the demon was looking for bugs to eat.

 

A flicker of shadow fear washed over one of the raptors. She felt it flinch and give a small call of alarm that rippled through her own mind.

 

Memories older than old, of scythe-like wings and stabbing beaks that brought death...

 

Askee-ah shook herself. She was bigger and more powerful here, big enough that even the biggest fliers would hesitate to attack. And she had never seen one of those fliers here, besides.

 

Still, she was startled when she saw the dark winged creature that flew overhead.

 

She stood tall and sniffed the air after it had passed. Getting a scent from a flying being was uncertain, but it didn't smell like a demon.

 

The three raptors watched it intently. It seemed weak, injured or sick perhaps.

 

Uncharacteristically, the thought of following it to take advantage of that, to attack and eat it, didn't cross her mind like it would have just a few months ago.

 

But the raptors were curious all the same. And they were quick to note the demon was too, they had given up thier bug hunt and headed toward where the flier had come to ground.

 

The raptor on Askee-ah's left darted and leapt from one rooftop to the next to quickly circle around. She saw through it's eyes that the flying being had landed, that the demon was approaching it.

 

The other two raptors made thier way forward as stealthily as they could.

 

Askee-ah crept to the edge of a rooftop, hidden in the shadow of some kind of shiny metal contraption. She listened intently. It pained her to try to understand human complexities, but she felt drawn to do so at the same time, like a strange sort of hunger.

 

So the raptors crouched and waited, the hunt put aside for a new curiosity.

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Vaz paused as the winged woman whipped around to face them, caution beginning to override the initial thrill of curiosity. It occurred to the demon that the attempt to lighten the mood with the garbage comment might not have gone down as well as they hoped. No accounting for taste, clearly. Thin lips pulled into a tight grimace and the budding lecture on modern hilarities died however when she stumbled forward again, Vaz torn between offering a helping hand or shuffling back a little more to give her some more breathing room. They settled for the latter, at least until they got a better read on who they were dealing with.

 

As she spoke of such intricacies as fate and mortality Vaz listened on politely, though secretly hoped that they weren’t going to dwell too much on such things. Vaz just made the deals that lead to sealed fates, actually contemplating who or what decided which ones succeeded and which ones failed was liable to bring on a migraine. It was a shame that this one had Fallen, though. They seemed amiable enough towards Vaz that they might’ve been able to put in a good word to this ‘sovereign’ entity. 

 

Vaz opened their mouth to enquire what exactly happened to her, but was cut off by further rambling and the sudden, wrath-filled glare that cut through the haze of confusion. The demon bristled and took another step back, brandishing the rolled-up magazine as though it would actually stand a chance against the wickedly-sharp scythe that was now materialising between them. Despite the poor timing, another huff of empty laughter had to muffled through gritted teeth as she implied they had anything in common with a zealot. Vaz would have to make it quite clear that no, they had no interest in encouraging such blind devotion to any entity, demon or otherwise. 

 

And what was this about ‘your Vengeance’? Vaz knew a self-proclaimed Demon Lord of Vengeance, but he wasn’t the sort that liked to bring in others to do his dirty work. Vaz made a mental note to mention this the next time their paths aligned, if only to ensure that some other fiend wasn’t running around claiming souls under a false identity. Last thing Vaz needed was another power struggle between their superiors.

 

The woman shuddered again, and a growing sense of alarm developed in Vaz as they watched the wisps of smoke and green embers spark from her. Vaz had no idea what it was, but based on personal experience coughing up plumes of smoke was never a good sign. It made them lower their guard, empathy driving them to dismiss the garbled apologies with a wave of the wrist and instead edge closer to properly offer an arm to grip onto this time.

“I would suggest you put those wings away, if it’s within your capabilities.”
Announced the demon in what was an attempt at a gentle suggestion, but came out as a demand all the same.  

“I’ve found no rhythm or reason here. First time I stumbled into town it was…overwhelming. Lots of awe. Lots of hatred. The worst was the ones with a disinterest in…everything. I still haven’t gotten used to that part.”

Vaz realised they were starting to ramble, and took a deep breath. Their gaze drifted momentarily to the dying sky above them, having of already lost track of how long they’d been here without the guide of a proper day-night cycle. If they’d been more successful in carving out a niche for themselves here, the boost to their senses might’ve alerted them to the ravenous beasts that peered down at them from the rooftops. But Vaz was drained, and distracted, so after a moment of contemplating the view above them they switched attention back to their new acquaintance.

 

“The wings will give you away in a heartbeat. The mortals for the most-part have just been irritating about it, but there’s a lot worse out there and I only know of what hails from my own realm and the small fraction that has collided with it in the past. Keep your head low and make some powerful friends from the sidelines, while you wait for some semblance of order to be restored. That would be my advice.”

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She nearly didn't recognize what the stranger was intending to do. They came closer and slightly raised an arm out to Argia. It took her a moment and then she realized what was odd about the scene--it wasn't the arm she could comfortably grab. Still, she didn't want to seem rude, no matter how awkward she felt or might appear. Especially after she'd made the individual--demon, now that they stood closer to her--react defensively to her outburst. 

 

They looked distressed about something.

 

Scythe dissolving from her grasp, Argia reached her left hand across to grasp the proffered arm. Again, she looked at her wings upon the individual's words. Could she hide them as they suggested? Or, more like, ordered. She gave them a testing shift, noting the lessened stiffness in the appendages and the faint rustle of feathers. Her brow furrowed, concentration and confusion blending together. Was she supposed to think at them? How had she gotten them to work right enough for flight, before? Panic, mostly. She'd been overwhelmed and it felt like the wings had simply resp--

 

The feathers melted together as the arms--was that the right word?--of her wings lifted. She stared, wide-eyed, as wings wrapped around her shoulders and feathers fused into soft cloth. Black faded into white as the color traveled downward to the hem of a two-toned shawl. "Fascinating..." Argia breathed. She almost missed their budding answer to her questions. Shifting her gaze, she watched for changes in the demon's features as they spoke. "Disinterest?" Were otherworldly beings such as her and the demon more familiar to humans in this realm? The idea was a curious one for her. 

 

But the concept of creatures who would hunt or seek to harm her was not a new reality. Argia nodded in acknowledgement of their advice. "Thank you. I am Argia. You are?" She figured an introduction would be beneficial, and enough time had already passed since their exchange began without formalities. She was curious about the 'my own realm' comment, but she refrained from asking for more insight about it.

 

Head low and powerful allies. A recommendation to hide and pick a side. The concepts seemed almost outrageous to Argia. She picked no sides, had no allies, because she would work with one entity on one day, and then against them on the next day. And Death didn't hide. But, if her sovereign could not reach her in this isolating place... If those who summoned her had changed her into something she yet could not determine... Was she still bound by the same laws that governed her actions? 

 

"Is there an entity here that maintains Balance?" she asked. "A neutral force that ensures all sides act accordingly to keep the world alive?"

 

Normally, Argia could feel the faint touch of Balance. But, as she focused in search of that presence, she only brushed against a smoldering rage. It startled her and she immediately pulled her awareness back from it. It wasn't hers, and yet, it seemed to yearn for her. Or some part of her yearned for it. She couldn't decide. "What was done to me?" Argia's grasp tightened a fraction on the demon's elbow. 

 

A lifeline darted across the edges of her attention. She wouldn't have paid it any attention--lifelines were always moving as the beings possessing them were never stationary for long--but it felt connected to other lifelines. Argia turned her head, sweeping and lifting her gaze to scan the buildings that stood on either side of her and the demon. It was gone in a moment. Perhaps she imagined it. Likely, it was an ordinary aspect of the realm; she was surely going to encounter one strange thing after another. 

 

It didn't dissuade the feeling that there were eyes focused on her. 

 

Argia glanced down at her worn boots, water gradually soaking into the material as she continued standing in the shallow puddle. "As... As much as I enjoy the alleyway, perhaps we can move on from here to another place?"

Edited by ValidEmotions
Tiny typo

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Darkness. Darkness everywhere she turned. Everywhere she looked, her sight remained clouded in this strange darkness. If this were any kind of darkness, magical or not, she should be able to see through it normally. In front of her emerged a bear, illuminating this strange veil of darkness that enveloped this humanoid's senses. This bear was larger than any she had ever seen, coming up to ten feet at the shoulder. As this bear's bright silhouette came closer, the humanoid was able to see the intricate designs shimmering over the bear's fur. Its eyes glowed with intensity, yet there was a softness to them. It was then that she knew who this was.

 

This was Luthic, her goddess, communicating to this half-orc through her animal. Luthic is her orc goddess, the goddess of life and nature, the goddess of fertility and medicine, the goddess of females and servitude. The orc deity of the new moon and bears. The female half-orc grew her own claws to be recognized as the Claw of Luthic, a shaman who was given the power to sling spells after forming a pact with her from a ritual that included bathing in the blood of a large mother cave bear. She gave the leftover cubs to her tribe so they could be used as guard animals or mounts.

 

The bear began to speak without ever moving its maw, and as it spoke, images flashed through the half-human's mind quickly.

 

"There is a growing power in another realm. A place unlike these realms. This realm is a place no one has set foot in. However, someone has recognized me and is actively trying to summon me. Seeing as you are one of my best shamans, who follow the traditions and goals I set forth, you shall go and investigate. I will stay connected to you, but you may feel a weakness in your spells and your ability to use them. This is also why I chose you. You fight like a warrior, the best after your father-in-law."

 

The images that took form and flashed by the humanoid's vision showed briefly a city she had never seen before. Technology she had never experienced or even thought about seeing graced her vision for about a second before vanishing completely. All she saw was a place graced in darkness all day, with technological advances she had never witnessed nor experienced, and humans with other strange humanoids that make her think of angels, demons and devils in her own world. But it held different people, not the humans she is so used to. What was this alien world?

 

"Kansif Bear-Mother. Please, think about my offer. This world is alien, yet familiar to me. Someone called for my presence, so I shall invite one of my followers to investigate."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

It was a cold, starry night. The cold breeze drifted by, biting the flesh of those who were asleep. Some stayed asleep, hidden under their furred blankets and bedrolls. When the wind came by, all it did was cause those to flinch, while others jolted awake, as they were already in a cold sweat. With Kansif, she was already awake, undeterred by the wind that seemed ever so diligent in scoping out the cracks and nooks in their shoddily made houses, which were made in the vain attempt of trying to make a village quickly with little resources they had. Mud caked over straw were the roofs, while the edges of the circular houses were made with logs cut in half. The floors of each hut were made with grass tightly bound together. A fire hazard? Yes, but it was the best they had. Yes, they had a forest they were nearby, but the denizens of the Kryptmalwun Village were hesitant in grabbing more wood than they already did. They had come across a Green Dragon, said to be at least 1,000 years old or older. They weren't going to be dumb enough to encroach on the dragon's territory.

 

As Kansif scratched at the deep green skin on her arm and situated her clothes accordingly, she mulled over the visions she was given. There was an unspoken rule between her and her patron: Never talk about the vision beyond gaining directions to find the location or person. Her glowing yellow eyes scoured over her equipment. She knew her equipment was going to be outdated at the very least, but she thought this was going to be a breeze. Go there, stay for a couple days to scope it out, and come back. Easy enough.

 

She pulled up her long black hair into a ponytail, bounding it with leather and piercing the hair with a bear's canine she took from the first cave bear she killed with her bare hands. She situated the fur laden wraps that enveloped her chest and the skirt she wore that held the bones of the bear she killed, along with a rat's skull in the middle. She fitted her leather boots on tighter and put on her armor. She put on her one shoulder pauldron, which had two long and three short horns protruding from the metal. The belt strapped around her chest and then she put on her breastplate. She tightened the straps that hugged her back and then put on leather bracers over her forearms. She then delicately put on her necklace, which held several bear teeth and a dark shard. The dark shard had magical properties. Treated like an amulet, it allowed Kansif to use a spell she had never used before or learned how to use, but its powers may only be used once a day. If she used it more than a couple times in one day, it may shatter.

 

She then strapped on her weapon sheathes and her belt around her waist. She slipped her greataxe and her warhammer on her back, her two handaxes at her side, and she set a light crossbow on a mount on her left bracer. She then set her quiver of crossbow bolts on her left, and then began packing the items in her bag of holding. No matter what was put in here, it would always be 15 pounds. She repurposed the small strap that tightened it into a longer strap so she could carry it slung across her shoulder. It held 20 packs of rations, three cases of 20 bolts each, ten simple medical kits, a mess kit, a steel mirror, a signal whistle, a climbing kit, a whetstone, and a waterskin filled with water currently. She also had a pouch of coins, as she thought they would have some significance in this new realm, and she had more common clothes in this bag of holding.

 

After slinging it over her shoulder, she was set and walked out of her hut, which was a tad nicer than the other ones due to her status of being her village's shaman. As she walked to the shrine that held a crude statue of a bear and a spear made of rock jutting from the ground, she felt something strange come about her. Her scowl was very evident, as she was not having these surprises. Not now. The bear seemed to speak, as its eyes glowed. Ah, that was what that feeling was. The voice of Luthic echoed in her mind and a portal was created.

 

"Good luck."

 

That was all?

 

The portal formed quickly in front of her, and as Kansif looked at the swirling vortex that connected two dimensions together, she looked back at her small village. The shrine overlooked the village, as it was on a hill set into a cave. She felt a little upset. She was more comfortable traveling the lands of Faerun, as the Material Plane was more familiar than this strange land. Still, she sighed and looked over at the portal, beckoning her to fall in. She took one step in, and the pull of being forced into another dimension was an exhilarating feeling. It also terrified her, as she never experienced this before. Suddenly, as she stepped down, she hit grass. Well, grass soaked in blood. She looked around to see the remains of bears and humans surrounding her and men in weird cloaks were surrounding her. A cult?

 

A cloaked member, who she thought was the leader, walked up to her and smiled. Kansif's long clawed hands tightened around one of her handaxes as she glared at the man, who faltered immediately. Her glare looked right through the man, and a greeting of friendliness turned into a scream as the man fell over and began crawling backwards. The circle broke as the cult members ran off, clearly not having whatever this scowling half-orc was going to deal. The man that was on the ground finally got up after struggling to do so due to panic and ran off. Well then.

 

She sighed and peered around and then up at the sky. Strange, this place. This place was too... Much? What was the word for this? At least she could read what everything was saying, but it was translated into common or orcish before her eyes due to her invocations. She walked forward, towards the city, but she strange. There were so many beings, plain like the humans of her realm, but also many beings that felt like demons and angels, along with other beings that made her feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortable, because she didn't know how to make up for these sensations. They were unknown to her, which put her on edge. She began to walk around the city, clearly not wanting to get anywhere near the foreign jungle of buildings, that seemed a bit too much for her.

 

A kingdom made of bricks and mortar in her realm was too much for her to fathom. A city made of more than just bricks and mortar? She felt like a fish out of water.

 

What the hell was going on?

 

It was then that she realized the usual connection she had with her orc deity was waning. She looked back at the unstable portal and tried to go back, but it closed quickly. Like the severing of a lifeline, her connection with her deity all but disappeared. The shard kept her still connected to her deity, but she knew her spells were weakened until the new moon. Of course, she didn't know well this place worked in terms of the moon phases, as there were no day/night cycle.

 

Feeling a crushing sense of homesickness she never felt before, she begrudgingly walked back over to the city, continuing her perimeter scouting. She was starting to feel the onset of a bad day, and her scowl proved that. Not even a greater being would want to experience being set with this upset face.

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Oh crap.

 

A figure leapt over the fence, chainlink rattling from the trespass.

 

Oh ****. 

 

His breath came in ragged gasps. Fabric rubbed against his legs and torso as he ran. Normally unruly, short black hair swept back from the wind, thick streaks of red dye blending in. Nimble fingers touched metal as he slid across the top of a sedan, startling a human woman with a bag of groceries. "Sorry!" He barely glanced behind him. The threatening heat boring into his back kept him on the move. Ocean-blue eyes scanned the world ahead for any opportunity of escape.

 

Jorath slipped and skidded as he made a too-quick change in direction towards a shopping center. His shoes scuffed the concrete and, for a heart-freezing moment, he thought he would crash. Fortunately, no such thing occurred and he kept his forward momentum. It only required shoving two humans aside in exchange. The string of swearing continued in his thoughts and he swore he could hear Malvorin roaring after him. Okay, roaring wasn't the right word; the guy wouldn't go so low as to actually roar in public. Malvorin, Jorath liked to acknowledge, had better taste than that.

 

It didn't matter that Jorath might have... maybe... accidentally botched a Soul Contract intended for Malvorin and gave it to his enemy instead. Come on. It wasn't as if Malvorin wouldn't have another chance at a rather important business man's soul. Sure, this one controlled a lot of the banks and some of the business sector but...!

 

Did it really warrant being chased down by one of Malvorin's goons? 

 

Jorath broke through a crowd of shoppers, ducking into a store full of pungent candles and body creams. He slunk behind some of the larger displays, putting an excessive amount of interest into some of the perfume vials. Really? Candles, lotions, and perfumes. How much more scent-y things could they pack into one place?

 

"Can I help you with anything?"

 

Waving quickly at the woman, Jorath flashed a broad grin. "No, but thank you. I'm just looking for a surprise gift for my boyfriend. I snuck away while he was looking at some shoes so hopefully he doesn't find out where I went." The woman smiled at him, mouthed something like an 'oh' possibly, and then walked away. Jorath rolled his shoulders and glanced through the shop windows into the main areas of the center. No goon. No looming doom burning into the back of his jacket. Maybe it was clear.

 

Letting out a puff of air, Jorath ran a quick hand through his hair before passing his hands over his clothes to straighten them. He watched his medium-dark, olive-toned skin twitch along the back of his hands as silvery tendrils slithered through the flesh. Keep it together, Jay. His body always itched or crawled or just otherwise felt uncomfortable whenever his adrenaline hiked up. It'd been told to him before that demons couldn't go against their natures. And his was just as foul as any others.

 

But he tried, anyways. Or, at least, he tried what he could while also staying alive long enough for the next day. It was... well, an awkward juggling act, to say the least. 

 

Jorath wasted time with tidying himself up, waiting just a little longer to make sure he'd actually lost the other, more powerful demon. Thank the Realms he was fast and the goon was more of a tank. He wasn't as fancily dressed as some other demons he'd encountered but Jorath liked to think he had a decent sense of style. If he wanted to, he was certain he could pull off the black trench coat, Mysterious Edge vibe. But he didn't want to. He liked his loose-fitted jacket, tank top--because, let's face it, he had some good-looking muscles to flex--and jeans. Silver chains dangled from a belt loop and connected to the adjacent one at his right hip. There were more chains, and those ones made of iron, but they weren't visible on his body. They simply chimed within his ears like the ghosts of a memory he could never forget.

 

He looked and felt human. Mostly felt human. 

 

Okay. He'd wasted enough time here. Pretending like he wasn't fully satisfied with the over-abundant display of options, Jorath left the store and slipped out of the shopping center. He continued to keep a wary eye out, in case Malvorin's goon had stuck around somewhere close by. So far, though, it seemed he was in the clear. Which was nice because he was hungry. Hunger was always two-fold though. The ordinary human need for sustenance, and then the less-than-ordinary demonic need for other... stuff. He did his best to ignore those cravings but had more failures in that department than he would like to acknowledge. 

 

[[My hand slipped.... Jorath (AKA Jay) is geared to cross paths with Hrafn, Gabriel, Kansif, or any combination of the three.]]

Edited by ValidEmotions

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Vaz stiffened a little at the touch, despite obviously expecting it. Something about it had sent an unpleasant shiver down their spine, though Vaz had trouble placing why that was the case. Perhaps they had just grown unused to physical contact over the years, the sort of company Vaz kept was not noted for any sort of affection after all. They eventually brushed off the feeling as another chill from the wind, tugging at their scarf to bring it up over their chin as the other being contemplated what to about the wings. Vaz smiled into the folds of the garment as they both watched the wings flutter forward and melt into a shawl, relieved that she at least had enough energy for that.

“Lovely. Never seen that approach before, but it should do nicely.”

 

They bowed their head slightly in a proper greeting as she revealed her name was Argia. Not the sort of name Vaz expected, but at least it was an easy one to remember. Vaz wasn’t sure what it translated to, but if the harsh, guttural language utilised by their own kind could evolve over time it seemed reasonable that it would work the same for the angels.

“I go by ‘Vaz’, mostly. I won’t bore you with any of the titles attached to the name, half of them don’t apply here and the other half are pointless.”

 

At her inquiry the demon went back to their default scowl, images of some of the hopeless faces they’d passed by drifting back into their thoughts.

“Balance? I’d have thought your lot were in charge of that.”

Scoffed Vaz, jabbing a thumb over their shoulder as though such entities were hovering somewhere just behind them. They had a lot of further colourful things to say on the subject of the angels and the world they’d abandoned, but no need to flood the newcomer’s ears with such things just yet. 

“Well, at any rate, if there’s something around here meant to be keeping the balance it’s doing a terrible job. That’s all I can say for certain on the matter.”

 

Remnants of unease and tension returned, Vaz blaming it on the tightening grip on their arm. They watched as her gaze shifted to the sky once more, and after a moment cleared their throat for attention.

“Yes, we should go elsewhere. It’ll take your mind off of things for a while.“

Vaz wished they had somewhere specific to suggest, but they didn’t yet have a place to call their own. They had managed to scrape together some of the local currency, mostly by insisting that mortals provide them with a respectable sum of it before the first interview, but so far they’d been spending it on warm beverages and pastries. How much did it cost to claim one of those apartment things around here? 2 cinnamon swirls? 200?

 

Trying to work out the exact number of pastries they would have to sacrifice was making Vaz yearn for the warmth and vague familiarity of the coffee shop again. And if that was where they spent the most of their idle time, Vaz supposed it was a good enough choice as any.

“Ever eaten before? It’s a poor substitute for proper energy, but you might be able to sap a bit of strength from it if you’re desperate.”

Vaz tested taking a step with the extra weight of her on their arm, and motioned to the alleyway exit with their free hand.

“I’ve got a place in mind where we can go. It’s a bit of a walk, but the seats are comfortable.”

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Her walk turned from a trot, to a run, and finally to an all out sprint. She could feel the power in her muscles as they stretched and contracted with each stride. When had been the last time she had ran? Food was easy to come by (when they did eat) and thus hunting was unnecessary. The realms had been at peace so there were no wars to fight in, resulting in her adopting a very sedimentary life for a once mighty warrior. Had she become complacent? The she-wolf huffed and shook the thought from her head. No, of course she hadn't. She was still the warrior she was a millennia ago, right?

After hours of running she could finally start to make out a faint glow of what she assumed was the city on the horizon. Slowing her pace to a trot she took in the change of surroundings. The stream had widened into a river now, flowing rapidly through the thinning trees. There was a dull roar as waves crashed over rocks and white water swirled. The wolf stopped to rest for a few moments as she took in the land around her. If it weren't for the everlasting darkness this wouldn't be too bad of a place. 

 

---- 

 

There seemed to have been some commotion outside her window. Of course for where she lived that wasn't very unusual. Then came a knock at her door. Now that was unusual. She reached for her sword but stopped herself short, glancing at it forlornly for a moment. Instead she opted to wait for a second knock. 

 

KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

 

Ah, damn.

 

As quietly as she could she moved to the door and peered through the peephole. Three dark figures crowded her door. There's no way that can be a good sign. 

 

"Ms. Hensley we know you're in there." Came a male voice from the other side of the door. Who? Oh right, the fake name she had given for the apartment. "Can I help you?" She finally called, ready to step aside if they tried to break down the door. "We just have a few questions for you, ma'm.

"About?"

"Could I come in?" The other two men slunk out of sight, raising her suspicions even more. "I'm sorry but my apartment is a mess right now, could you come back another time?" She watched as his body language grew tense. The hair on the nape of her neck rose. "Ma'am this issue is kind of time sensitive, if you could just-" A chill ran down her spine and made the hair on her arms stand up. She turned just in time to see a form creeping in through her window. The angel lunged for her sword on the table but the human form moved quicker. It tried to snatch the sword from her hand but she pulled it free. The door behind her flew open and the man stepped in pulling out something from his coat. Gabriel moved but not quite quickly enough. The bullet tore through her shoulder and pain shot up into her neck and down her side. One man grabbed her now injured arm while the other lunged to try and grab her other arm. With her good arm she clawed at the man holding her while kicking at the other coming towards her. Her wings flapped wildly, battering both of the men. For a moment they were dazed and she was able to pull her arm free. Slashing blindly with her sword she leapt towards the window with the men in pursuit. They snatched at her wings, pulling out feathers, as she dove through the window and onto the fire escape. Half tripping, half falling down the stairs ( and face first into the railing giving her a lovely shiner) she heaved herself over the railing and opened her wings. Pain tore through her shoulder and throughout her body as she tried to make an ungraceful get away. Again? How? Sweat rolled down her face as she struggled to fly and still keep relatively out of sight. Finally, she dipped low and landed in an alley, using the last bit of her power that wasn't going to healing to conceal her wings. She used the wall to brace herself and slid down to a sitting position as she caught her breath. How do they keep finding me? The alley stunk of urine and trash but right now she didn't care. Closing her eyes she leaned her head back and tried to slow her breathing. Maybe I really am as foolish as they say I am. What made me think I was going to be able to save this world when I can't even defend myself anymore, and everyone hates my kind?

Edited by RavenWolf1010

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Argia

 

The corner of her lips edged upward. "Titles? You seem like you would have an interesting list of them; I don't believe you could bore me with them." Argia couldn't see much behind their scarf, but she was starting to note slight shifts around Vaz's eyes. She would have to learn more about her new companion before she dared to make any assumptions about their more subtler details. 

 

No Balance? Argia almost balked at that reveal. Her brows knit together. She should have been greatly concerned, fretful even. Without Balance, a world couldn't survive. At least, that was the way of things she'd been instilled to believe. Could this world function differently? "I suppose... If my sovereign cannot seem to reach me here, then it stands to reason that Kirit and Meztli cannot reach this world, either." She mulled over that possibility. Vaz thought her "lot" dealt with keeping the world balanced. While they weren't exactly wrong--she was merely a part of it, but Kirit and Meztli were the ruling entities that delivered the World's decrees--she started wondering what "lot" Vaz was suggesting. Did they know about Argia's role as a Harbinger or did they understand her neutral position as Death and Life? Vaz said puzzling things.

 

Vaguely, she only caught the rest of Vaz's words. "Sad..." she murmured, not quite intending to have responded. A thought struck her, some sort of revelation. Vaz was a demon. Were there angels of sorts here, too? Oh! "Vaz? You are a demon, yes? I'm not a demon...." If they thought angels were in charge of keeping balance, maybe it was best to clarify now that Argia wasn't one. She realized she'd let a pause interrupt her words. Frowning, she added, "Nor am I an angel." Perhaps Vaz would understand her role of neutrality better now, outside as she was of both "sides". 

 

Vaz spoke again and started taking the first steps out of the alleyway. She followed their lead. "I--no, I've never eaten before. I have never felt hunger; it is a mortal thing and serves no difference to Death." What an odd question. But, at their words, she realized she wouldn't know what hunger felt like. She did feel weak, but that had to be because of her fall. Wouldn't it? She searched inward again, feeling for the store of power that allowed her to accomplish her destined tasks. It had waned as if tired. Mingled within it, though, there was that foreign rage still. It gave off heat and vital power. 

 

She realized she could sustain herself on those smoldering embers, a fire just waiting for the right being to coax it into a wild blaze. Argia refused it, though. Anger was not hers to feel, only a calm apathy. 

 

So where had her outburst come from before? 

 

Distressing thoughts. She fled from them, stuffing them into the dark recesses of her mind, as far away as possible. But now she knew what hunger felt like and she couldn't determine if she was a fan of it. 

 

Argia realized she'd missed Vaz's lingering words and that they had stopped moving at some point. Blinking, quickly turning her gaze away from the ground to Vaz, she stared until her thoughts caught up. "A place... Yes. Apologies. I don't mind a walk; I've walked the entire planet for millennia." This planet? No, that was wrong. "My realm, that is."

 

[[Yes, please. I encourage a misinterpretation of that pause before "I am not an angel".]]

 

Jorath

 

His hands had finally stopped shaking. Zipping his jacket up to block out some of the cold, Jorath rolled his shoulders again, trying to dispel the unseen weight and ease the stiffness. Food. Focus on food. He lifted his gaze off his feet, scanning the various buildings to get a sense of his bearings. He knew this area, just not as well. It looked mostly like apartment complexes and shoddy motels. Motels had vending machines, didn't they? Jorath searched his pockets and found a few various coins and some crumpled bills. Hopefully that would be enough. 

 

Jogging across the street to the first motel, he searched the scant outdoor hallways until he found one machine. Fantastic, it had snacks. Bare pickings but it would suffice. He decided on a bag of chips, chasing away wrinkles in the dollar bill he had as best he could with the corner of the machine. The machine didn't want his grungy bill the first three times. On the forth attempt, Jorath shoved the money in and pressed his hand over the slot. The machine protested but eventually acquiesced and gave him his chips. 

 

As he grabbed the small but over-inflated bag and let the flap of the catch slap back into place, a sound punctuated the air. Gunshots were sometimes a common occurrence; it mostly depended on the time of the year. But, since the world had fallen to chaos (or near enough to it), they'd become disturbingly more frequent. Didn't matter how predictable it was. Jorath shifted his weight from one foot to the other, wondering if he should bother with it or not. 

 

The sound of glass shattering was fainter but recognizable still. 

 

He sighed, popping open his bag of chips and snatching a quick handful before tossing the rest into a trashcan. He ate the handful as he ran towards where he thought the noise had come from. Jorath slid to a stop when he spotted men running down a fire escape, their speed slowing as they descended. Stepping back and out of their line of sight, he watched them walk by, their faces twisted into something like disgruntled frustration. Had they lost what they were chasing? Seemed so.

 

Jorath knew their type, sort of. Not friendly men but these were human nonetheless. Normally, he wouldn't concern himself with human conflicts--he had enough on his plate just trying to keep his skin where it belonged. However, one looked like his clothing had been sliced pretty nicely. Probably just a knife... But a knife against a gun? He pinched the bridge of his nose. Fine, fine.

 

He started searching, checking spaces the men had gone away from, and eventually found something interesting. She was sitting in an alley, back against a wall, with blood staining her top but no wound visible. And she radiated with a weak aura that he hadn't encountered in a long time. "That must not have been fun," Jorath commented. He held his hand out. "Want a chip? I promise it's not a poison apple."

 

[[Hope you don't mind the aura. Gabriel can likely feel Jorath's fluctuating aura/presence/however you want to classify it, as if it cant decide to burst/break apart or solidify itself. But that's up to you on how much you want Gabriel to notice with her waning power.]]

Edited by ValidEmotions

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((The vending machine bit had me rolling as I remembered that spongebob scene.))

 

Gabriel was so sapped between the pain and the power that she was using that she didn’t even hear as someone approached her. 
 

“That must’ve not been fun.”

 

The angel’s eyes fluttered open. They were a dull grey, lacking the fierceness and power they usually held. She couldn’t help but groan and roll her eyes. No more people. She couldn’t handle any more people today.


“Yeah, you’re right. It certainly wasn’t.” 

 

The wound had already began to close, the bleeding slowing to barely a trickle. It would probably be a good idea for her to find a jacket soon or at least a change of shirt. ”Want a chip? I promise it’s not a poison apple.” The angel stifled a guffaw, turning to the man for the first time. She was about to speak when his aura finally registered. “Of course you would say that,” her tone turning snide. “You could swear it up and down and still would never believe you.” How could she have missed something like this standing right next to her? A frustration began to bubble inside her. The angel then went to reach for her sword but found it gone. ****, had it even made it out of the apartment with her? Rising to her feet she went to take up a defensive stance but her body protested and black dots swam across her vision as vertigo unsteadied her. Using the wall to brace herself she shot the demon a dirty look. Sure, her almost mortal form would be depleted from healing and escaping but she still wouldn’t take a chip from him if it were the last chip in the world. 
 

((Pretty soon here she’s not going to be able to tell human from demon, unless it’s an exceptionally powerful demon. What a boat Gabe is in at the moment, and she certainly isn’t making any friends XD ))

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He tried not to wince, he really did. But as the woman rose too quickly and staggered in consequence, he grimaced slightly. She wasn't in a good state but he gave her points for being so defiant regardless. Jorath signed faintly, breaking the chip in two and eating a piece. "I know that. But, you don't have much room to protest. Not right now, not in your state." The angel wouldn't want his pity, he knew, but he felt it anyways. He hadn't seen an angel in a long time and it was a sad state of affairs that the first one he did encounter was in such a bad way. "Look, I haven't dropped dead or developed any symptoms; you can trust the chip is just an ordinary chip. Well, it's stale but that's only because I got the bag from a banged up vending machine." 

 

Jorath didn't take offense at her defensive behavior, not truly.  He held her steely gaze and his shoulders began to feel as if they were sagging, as if exhaustion weighed on them but wasn't completely his. "I can help you regain power. I have a Realm; it's small and I try not to use it, but it's adequate and you can build it as you see fit." Should he tell her that it was also partially tied up in agreements with Malvorin's Realm? Probably. Actually, he was surprised he hadn't felt anything happen to or through his Realm just yet after his flub. He wondered why for a moment, various concerning ideas coming to mind, but he shoved it aside. He'd figure that mess out later. 

 

The chances of an angel agreeing to make use of a demon's Realm, much less a demon such as Jorath, was likely well below zero--into the negatives. However, it wouldn't have sat well with him if he'd failed to offer in the first place. He only kept his Realm to allow for survival in a world that was consuming itself. It was, admittedly, smaller than it first had been, but only because Jorath had bargained off piece after piece. If he wanted to, he could break it all and regain his Realm as it was before. Instead, he purposefully neglected a few here and there to offset growth in other parts as they occurred. Some of those bargains had since gone bad.

 

Okay, that was a lie. As of Malvorin, all of his bargains basically went bad. Sometimes it resulted in the return of a piece of his Realm. Other times, it was a complete severance of his power. Both scenarios hurt equally bad. And here he was, offering a new bargain. Apparently, he just never learned. But then, his bargains were never with an angel. Talk about selling your soul to the devil. 

Edited by ValidEmotions

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“Oh, they’re just the usual, melodramatic sort that tend to get butchered in translation.”

Chuckled Vaz, rolling their eyes at the very thought of it. As long as Vaz was unbound by a specific entity most of the titles applied to them were fluid and unofficial. Based on the observations of mortals and gossip of their realm, rather than Vaz actually claiming a trait or concept as their domain and their’s alone.

 

However, the unofficial titles, Vaz was all to happy to share now that she’d shown the slightest bit of interest in them. They tapped a finger to their temple as they tried to conjure up some of their favourites.

“I think the most flattering one was ‘Lady of Silence’. Very useful in my line of work you see, puts a bit more trust in the mortals. ‘Keeper of Quills’ I always thought had a nice ring to it, but it’s not exactly the sort of thing that you shout out to inspire awe and respect from allies.”

 

Well, not more than once anyway. Xaal’razuul still giggled a little every time Vaz ventured into their domain after they’d made the mistake of including that one on the business cards.

 

“And then there’s the ones like ‘Consort of Ven- Ah. Well. You get the idea.”

Vaz was starting to get the impression that she was hearing them without really listening. Especially when whoever ‘Kirit’ or ‘Meztli’ was, was suddenly brought up. Vaz didn’t get time to ask more about the matter though because the next inquiry over whether they were a demon caused a silent ripple of laughter to shudder through their body.

“Surprised you had to ask. Honestly I don’t know what you had in mind but-“

 

Oh.

 

Vaz shuffled about uncomfortably, the mirth draining from their body once more. They blinked slowly at her, and if the scarf hadn’t been covering their mouth she would have seen it open and close a few times in indecision over what to say next.

“It...it takes some time to wrap your head around it. Call yourself what you want, I’ve found it won’t change anything in the long run.”

 

They were silent for a bit after that, focusing mainly on Argia’s attempts to walk and wondering if she’d last the journey. The demon paused as she did, though they couldn’t fathom what was so interesting about the ground that made her keep starring down at it. At least the initial shock was starting to wear off, by the looks of it.

“A millennium on this plane, and you never thought to try a jam tart?”

Vaz shook their head, nudging on their arm to indicate that they should keep walking. Absolutely ridiculous. The taste for adventure in the angels must have died along with the common sense.

“Come on, quicker we move you from the crash site the better. I doubt I’m the only one that knows you’re here.”

Edited by Lycanious

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Gabriel looked down at the half of chip and then back to the demon. "Keep it, not like half a chip is going to do much anyways." The edge in her voice melted into more disdain than anything. A demon didn't show kindness out of the goodness of their heart. They never did anything for free. She shifted the weight that was resting on her shoulder so that it would stop screaming at her in protest. "A realm? A demon's realm? Are you out of your mind?" How could she let herself be 'helped' by the enemy in good conscience, much less stay in the good graces of Heaven? Oh but how she could use the chance to recharge. What help would she be to saving this realm if she was too weak to do anything? She bit her lip as she halfway considered it. "So, what's the catch then? I know you have to have one. Nothing in this world anymore is for free." Her eyes caught his as she spoke the last sentence, making sure to add an extra edge to it. Demons indulging humans in their greed were the biggest perpetrators. Of course though in the end humans left to their own devices would inevitably destroy themselves even without the help from demons. Gabriel had seen it happen first hand. The angels merely helped to provide balance from the demons and keep humans from burying themselves too deep. They'd figure it out eventually and Gabe had faith in that. 

"And why are you being nice to me? Why haven't you just finished me off already? We're sworn mortally enemies after all."

Edited by RavenWolf1010

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Argia

 

"Lady of Silence and Keeper of Quills sound like wonderful titles," Argia said. And, to her, they genuinely did. "Far better than 'Cold Witch' or 'Stealer of Light'." Was that bitterness edging her voice? She clamped her mouth shut before further words graced her tongue on the subject matter. "I've been fond of quills; they seem like they can hold so many wondrous things, tell so many truths and whispers. Like they can hold a story without judgement." 

 

She had noticed their silent laughter in the way it shook their body and she wondered what she had said to illicit such a response. But it was gone nearly as quickly as it came. The event was... oddly provocative. She'd never made someone laugh before. As Vaz stared at her, shifting and clearly disturbed, she wanted that laughter back. It felt different. It felt better, compared to the cries or screams of anguish. 

 

At Vaz's apparent bemusement about her lacking knowledge of some jam tart, it was Argia's turn to laugh. It rose so suddenly, breaking through her features and causing her to release their arm. Her hand came up to partially cover her face. Truthfully, until then, she never knew she could make such a sound. She wanted that sound to last longer but it faded on its own and she blinked, both startled and melancholic. "Mortals die every day. And some require intervention to stay alive. There's... never been time for a--a jam tart." Maybe she should have been concerned by the fact that there were no lifelines calling to her, no pressing need to keep moving from one soul to the next, reaping those that were due for oblivion and saving others from too-early an end. Similarly odd, she found that she wanted to puzzle over that later. 

 

It felt like she could breathe for the first time.

 

Idly, she returned her hand to Vaz's arm. She didn't make them insist further, walking at their behest to leave the alleyway behind. While she walked, she found that she had more questions for Vaz. "Jam tarts. Are these a favorite of yours? I know humans like to make all sorts of various flavored things. Are Jam Tarts flavored, too?"

 

Jorath

 

"Maybe I am," Jorath replied, stuffing the rest of the chip into his mouth and chewing it as he mulled over the prospect. After a moment, he shrugged, determining that he didn't have an answer about his sanity. He let her stare at him, let her glare cut its blade against his flesh to no avail. He wasn't worried about what she could do to him. Not now, and not later. Jorath hardly blinked as she questioned about any catch. "That will depend on you and what you want," he said. 

 

He could feel her interest, could see her contemplating the idea. Cold trailed down his back as anticipation pooled at his fingertips. In his ears, he heard the faint shifting of chains that only existed in his head. 

 

"Enemies, yes." How to answer her questions? Stuffing his hands into his jacket pockets, he brought a foot back and lightly tapped the tip of his shoe against the ground. "I'm being nice because..." He didn't know how to put it into words. No one ever asked before. In fact, it was something he would have kept hidden from other demons. "I hate what I am," he finally acknowledged. "I haven't wanted to be a demon in a very long time." There was weight behind that, hundreds of years sitting tiredly on his lips. "I don't expect you to believe me and sometimes I wonder about it myself. After all, a demon can't go against its nature, right?" He repeated the words of someone else. Couldn't remember who it was but it probably didn't matter.

 

Of course, he had to scoff at the situation because his nature involved the very bargain he was offering to an angel. 

 

"I haven't "finished you off" because I don't want to. And, honestly, if you've lasted this long, I'd like to think there's a reason for that." He shrugged again.

 

Pulling his hands free from his pockets, he stood a little stiffer, shedding the vulnerability he had started edging into. "I can't guarantee your safety during or after making a bargain. Understand that. I've not made one with an angel before so I have no expectations of what might occur. But I do promise you power from my Realm." 

 

The catch. What was the catch? The information wasn't coming to him. He needed more from the angel.

 

"What is your name?" Jorath's spine began to tingle with a waiting power and his ocean-blue gaze locked with the angel's gray. "State your purpose and need. Specificity is demanded for an adequate cost."

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Was she actually considering this? Like, actually?  "You're being nice because you hate what you are..." she repeated the words trying to get them to sink in. In all the time she had been around this was the first time she had ever heard a demon say they hated what they were. Most demons wore it as a symbol of pride as if enteral damnation and servitude was something to brag about. "You're right, they can't. Not in the end. Because in the end they're always on someone else's leash. And if they're powerful enough to not be well, they're truly the cruelest in the end." Too many had been taken from her by the wars, by demons. Gabriel had only survived as long as she had because she fought tooth and nail to survive with the faith of millions behind her. Now left with nothing perhaps it was time to make a tough call. In the end if her heart was in the right place maybe this was exactly what she needed. With a heavy sigh she pushed herself away from the wall and stood unsteadily on her own feet. "My name is Gabriel." It was odd to hear her true name after so many months of it simply sitting within her own mind and collecting dust. "I need power so that I may seize this realm back from the demons and protect humanity as my brethren will not."

 

-----

 

Making her way further down the river it had turned from rapids to a smooth inviting flow. The wolf would be half tempted to jump in if it weren't for how bitter cold it was right now. Her stomach groaned again, reminding her of her new necessity of having to eat regularly. "How do mortals live with this constantly?" She grumbled as she turned to the sky and inhaled deeply. Pine. Moss. Water. There. A buck was in the area. While she did not share her father's massive size she was still quite large enough to be able to take on a buck  on her own. It was the stealth that was her problem.

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“Yes...”

Whispered Vaz, who found themselves genuinely delighted in how Argia had described their beloved quills and the under appreciated power they were capable of wielding. Vaz rarely felt vulnerable without a weapon to conjure up, but disarming them of their ability to commit precious, binding words to paper was nothing short of a nightmare.

“Marvellous little things, they are. I have a respectable collection of them stashed away somewhere. But I guess you’d except that from someone with a name like Vaz.”

Head tilted in consideration of the names that had been spat back at them, and Vaz wondered what she could have possibly done to earn them in the short time she’d been cast aside. Stealer of Light sounded downright devious-

 

Vaz cast a suspicious glance back up to the endless night above them.

Surely not...

No, this one seemed far too fragmented and dazed for being capable of something like that. And yet, the thought that it had something to do with her presence here still lingered at the back of Vaz’s mind. Perhaps they would press on the matter in a quieter location.

 

The returned laughter startled the demon from their attempts to puzzle things together, Vaz hadn’t been sure if it was something she was capable of at this rate given her reaction to the garbage comment. They gawked at the concept of never having the time for simple pleasures, but then berated themselves under-breath for not knowing better. Of course she wouldn’t have. Their pace began to quicken, determined to give the newcomer a few glimpses of positivity before the inevitable existential dread had time to start creeping back in.

“Jam tarts are...erm...”

Brow crinkled in concentration.

“...Jam flavoured. I don’t know what they make them out of. Jams, probably. But they’re very nice? I’m more partial to this thing they call a hot chocolate though. The hotter the better.”

Edited by Lycanious

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