Hidden 6 mos ago
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The Lesser Evils

The City, sometimes completely undistinguishable from any other major metropolitan area on the planet, sometimes it seems completely unique. The City, 10 percent the super wealthy elite, 15 percent so called normal individuals, 75 percent seedy ghetto, 100 percent criminals and crime. The City is also possible one of the most supernatural cities on the earth. Like it's mortal inhabitants its supernatural ones tend to be criminals or dark creatures, succubi, incubi, tieflings, elementals, wizards, magicians, witches, and above all else demons.

I am the Detective. I'm not sure how I gained that name, but it's been me for a long time now and will be me until the day some terrible thing offs me. Like other aware mortals I hold the line between the mundane and the less mundane. I've gone toe to toe with Fae Queens, unstable demigods, and a couple of the Demon Lords. Now, however, a new threat come to The City, my city. The Outcasts have come to play. Unlike demons, which do have their own sense of twisted honor, and Fae, who will die before they break their own strange rules, The Outcast have neither honor or rules. They care only for their own pleasure and delights. Unfortunately, their pleasure involves torturing Innocents. Demons will seek to corrupt Innocents. Fae will seek to trick them. But only the Outcasts will torture Innocents while they are still Innocent. Why they are doing this, if there is a bigger reason or purpose for this, remains undiscovered. My magic, like most magics, is based on rules. The Outcasts, who follow no rules that I can discover, remain so well hidden, that no magic I can find can even locate them. No one wants to touch this, but this has to be done. The Outcasts cannot be left to take control of The City, nor can they be allowed to leave. I can use my own magic to trap them in The City, but then I’ll have no energy to fight them myself. I'll have to summon the Lessers.

That makes them sound like a group when really, they are no such thing. They are only united by name and morals. Like the Outcasts they follow no rules and honor is practically nonexistent. Still, they do not hold with hurting Innocents. That is the one thing they can all agree is fundamentally wrong: hurting Innocents. If my choices are letting the Outcasts take The City without a fight or calling upon the Lesser Evils, I'll take my chances with the Lessers. Calling them will be difficult. They aren't some supernatural SWAT team. They aren't organized in any way. They are simply seven powerful individuals that will do jobs for a price. Getting all seven of them may be a problem, but I have to try. For the sake of the Innocents, for the sake of The City, I have to try. I only hope they don't snap my neck or take my soul as payment. After all, they may be the Lesser Evils, but they are still evil.
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by LadyAnnaLee
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The Detective sat at the head of the conference table in the hotel boardroom that they rented specially for this meeting. They had invited seven of the world’s most dangerous individuals to this meeting in a desperate attempt to save both The City and the world. They took another pull of their coffee as they checked the clock. It was only 9 AM. There was still an hour until the meeting at 10. They had wanted to be early. They didn’t know anything about the promptness of the people coming, but figured some would be early, some would-be right-on time, and some would be late. They just hoped none of them killed anybody until after they dealt with the Outcasts.

The Outcasts, pyromaniac Samael who willingly fell until there was no place left to fall, sadistic Eris whose methods upset even the Unseelie Court, and Bob, the timeless perfectionist who believe in absolute complete minimalism. Those were the ones that The Detective knew about. There could be more. They had found a way to block their usually snooping abilities. In fact, the Outcasts had found a way to block and or hinder most of their magic. Did they know what The Detective was, or did they just get lucky? There were no clear answers and in desperation The Detective put up a barrier. Nothing over a certain amount of magical power was getting out of The City. The world was safe from the Outcasts for now, but it meant that they couldn’t do anything more directly. So, in a desperate gamble The Detective had reached out to the Lesser Evils.

They weren’t really a group but there were rumors and whispered about all of them all over the supernatural community. Seven creatures of no particular morals save one that they all shared: the oldest human posing as a CEO that killed to steal a creature’s memories, a thing older than the planet who horded gold like a child horded candy, a succubus that didn’t sleep with anyone and smiled while covered in blood, an proprietor of a magical bed and breakfast that didn’t seem to truly exist, the angel that fell with no regrets and took the defense of Innocents just a step to far, the Egyptian matriarch who’d do anything and everything for family, the witch addicted to social media. Some lived in the city and were easy to get into contact with, a phone call, a message on social media, an in-person visit, a summons, a few even came to them. None of them would hurt Innocents and learning what the Outcasts were was enough to get them to agree. They just hoped it didn’t come back to bite them.

The Detective looked at the clock. There were still 55 minutes. They pushed up from the table to look out the window. The sky was overcast and grey. It wasn’t raining yet, but the forecast said it might. Omens were a thing in certain magical systems and rain at the beginning of an endeavor was rarely a good sign. They shook their head. Now was not the time to be worrying. Their guests would be arriving soon, and they needed to appear put together. They didn’t feel put together and had to resit the urge to fiddle with one of the countless boxes of breakfast pastries or the containers of coffee that cluttered the table. The barrier drained a lot of The Detective’s energy. They wouldn’t be able to help with the Outcasts as much as they would like. At least the enemy wasn’t going anywhere.

They forced themselves to take a deep breath, ”Breathe. Focus. You can do this. They haven’t won yet. They haven’t won yet and never will.”


Hidden 6 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Dragonfly 9
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((Um, is it okay if Ms. Smith has colored text as well? It's okay if it's not!))

It should've been a beautiful day outside.

Ivan huddled under a building as a cat with a gold pouch on his back, waiting for the rain to stop. He had just stolen some gold from a crypt underneath the city, and had turned into a cat in order to slip past all the traps and get to it. Unfortunately, he couldn't bring all of it with him, due to his current size and also the fact that if he turned into a human in the crypt, he would probably trigger a trap or something, and it would either hinder his escape or make him drop the gold that he did have. Either way, he didn't have much gold when he escaped, and while he tried to convince himself that it was okay, that there was more gold at home(which there was), he still found himself wanting more.

He was Blackbeard once upon a time, after all. Why couldn't he have more?

As for why he wasn't braving the rain, well, he was a cat. Along with the fact that he had had to dart over to the nearest building in order to avoid getting wet, he really didn't feel like braving the rain today, even as a human. He cursed his new cat-like instincts for this, but...

Ivan looked at the rain again. It was still pouring down heavily, and didn't look like it was intent on stopping. It was also gross(and equivalent to sky drool/tears), wet, and horrid in all senses of the word, and Ivan wasn't planning on touching it at all. While he had talked to some Detective guy earlier, which had made him leave the crypt before he could figure out how to bring more of the gold along with him, now, Ivan was pondering over whether to not go to the meeting he had set up with that guy. I mean, sure, Innocents were in danger, but did that guy really have to choose a day when it's raining? Like, really?

No, that guy could wait until the sun came out. Ivan needed to-

"Mr. Peters."

Ms. Smith, Ivan's personal assistant, stayed annoyed as Ivan groaned and turned to face her.

"What do you want?" He asked, scowling. "Can't you see that I want to be left alone right now?"

Ms. Smith sighed and resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose. She did not get paid nearly enough for this.

"Mr. Peters, you are going to be late for your appointment with The Detective if you don't change back, and head to the designated meeting spot right now," She said, her words deliberate and clear.

"I don't care!" Ivan yelled, causing some of the passersby to look at the two in utter bewilderment. "It's not my fault that it started raining, and besides, now that it is, I'm not going anywhere!

Ms. Smith let out another sigh, then came up with an idea she'd knew she'd regret.

"...Do you want me to carry you there?" She asked, looking like she wanted to die. "My umbrella will shelter the both of us from the rain, and you can stay in my arms while we're-"

"Yes, please!" Ivan suddenly exclaimed, cutting off Ms. Smith and leaping into her arms.

Ms. Smith looked at the grown man in a cat's body for a bit, already deeply regretting her life choices. Then she just sighed again.

"Alright, let's go," She monotoned with dead eyes, then started walking over to the location The Detective was waiting for them at.

When they arrived at the hotel, and then later, at the door of its boardroom, Ms. Smith noticed that Ivan was now sleeping and purring in her arms.

"Mr. Peters, it's time for you to meet The Detective," She said in a loud tone, causing Ivan to wake up abruptly.

"Aww, but I-"

Ivan looked up to see Ms. Smith boring a hole into him with her glare.

"...Fine, fine," He said, then jumped out of her arms and was back in his human form in four seconds. Ms. Smith was then about to tell Ivan to just knock on the door when-

"HEY, I'M HERE!" Ivan yelled, thrusting the door open and stepping inside. "You said you wanted to meet with me?"

"..."

Ms. Smith facepalmed.

She really wasn't getting paid nearly enough for this.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by FollowthePath
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FLASHBACK



“Is that really what you want?”
Aodh cooed, a small knife between her pale thin fingers. She drug it along her own jaw line as she kept a straight face, eyes wide and ghostly looking while she observed him.


“Please! Please let me go!”
the demon squirmed. Aodh had wrapped him up in some ropes she’d been soaking in holy water. The more he moved, the more damage he did to himself, and the louder his moans became.


“I’m afraid I can’t do that,”
Aodh said, continuing to circle the creature, her voice still sounding angelic despite the words escaping her lips. “You see… you didn’t just encourage that little girl to hang herself… you literally gave her the ropes. Made yourself a friend. You’re the reason an entire family is craving justice and revenge. But they can’t get to you like I can…”

“PLEASE!” he cried again, struggling.


*buzz buzz*


Aodh frowned, feeling her phone ringing in the pocket of the white leggings she was wearing. She skillfully pulled it out with the knife still in her hand and answered it without looking to see who it was.


“Hello?”
she answered in her sing song voice. “Mmm hmm… mm hmmm…” Aodh listened, the soft moans of the demon who was becoming unconscious from pain fading in the background. “Yes, I will be there immediately.” Aodh hung up the phone and tossed it to her left hand. She flicked her right wrist and threw the knife straight into the chest of the demon. “I suppose that would hurt if you had a heart,” Aodh mumbled, walking over to the thing. “Looks like I have to go. But… I like the look of you just staying here like this. Etched forever in my memory. Just like the memories you’ve made for others that they didn’t deserve,” Aodh growled, pulling her knife back out and walking away, leaving the demon to his fate.



PRESENT DAY



Aodh arrived in The City, concealing her wings and making her appearance as human like as she could. She had her grey hair braided off to the side and was wearing a loose fitting white top, with a sharp white blazer over the top. She wore tight black jeggings and flat, pointed shoes that were also in black. Besides her wings, Aodh also had concealed her large sword on her back, a belt of weapons along her waist, and tried to make her skin a bit warmer looking.

Aodh had sensed a barrier before entering the city, and then once she did, it was like a cloud of heaviness. The evil contained within this place had cause her to take a step back before pushing forward towards the building they were to meet at. Aodh didn’t know how to walk or behave another way besides with her head held high, with a powerful walk of decisiveness. As a result, she noticed others around stoops and random shops look up and eye her. She would either ignore them or stare carelessly right back. Most were low levels demons or supernatural creatures. She had no fear of them. She could sense some larger evil in the city, however, and she was not coming into contact with it luckily before she got to her destination. It might have made her late.

Aodh walked inside and asked the front desk for directions to the conference room she was looking for. They kindly pointed her down the hall and told her which way to turn. Aodh smiled and thanked them graciously before waltzing that direction. On her way inside, Aodh saw a woman shaking her head. Aodh just raised an eyebrow in curiosity before looking around inside the actual room. Was that the Detective? Who was the black haired man with the long nose? Aodh had her hands in her pockets and looked between the two of them, as if awaiting an unspoken explanation.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by DawningAurora
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CS / Interactions:

Albert was watching the fire flicker within the hearth as a storm ranged outside of his Bed and Breakfast. He had a cigar in his mouth and a quill in his hand. It was an item older than civilization itself and has written countless documents which changed the world. Recently he found himself fidgeting with it whenever he needed to think. Someone who went by the name ‘The Detective’ arrived at his B&B the day prior and invited him to a meeting. He was still unsure if he should go as it had been decades since he saw the outside world. Of course, he has watched its development from this very armchair but has yet to see it in person. From what he was told, this meeting was to discuss a group called ‘The Outcast’ who have been causing havoc within this city. He didn't gain much from helping, but their arrival did correspond to a steep decline in the travelers that frequent his B&B. Was it a correlation? He could not tell.

“What do you think? About the time I leave this dusty place?” Albert asked the house, who responded with a flare of hearth causing some of its amber to jump out and attack him. He gave a boisterous laugh before brushing off the smoldering ambers. “Aight Aight I’m sorry I called you dusty.” Albert smiled at the house before standing up. This B&B has been his companion for thousands of years, so it is not surprising that it has grown tired of his tasteless jokes. He is sure that the house would be glad to rid of him, if only for a short while.

“Please prepare a coat and umbrella for me,” he spoke before the lights in the house flickered. He left the B&B to do its things while he gathered a few more trinkets. First was a small compass he procured from China over a millennium ago. It barrow power from the same contract that hid the B&B. Anyone without immense magical abilities would not be able to see him while it is on his person. And if they did see him, he would only appear as a lowly mortal. Next was a fresh cigar. He would never leave home without one. And lastly, a pocket watch that allowed him to summon some of the authorizes he had while within the B&B.

With everything in hand, Albert quickly changed his tie and suit jacket before heading out. He also gave the house some instructions to not accept any visitors and to keep the hearth warm for when he returned. With that, he left his cozy home for the first time in decades. That sense of adventure and excitement once again filled him. He had forgotten what it felt like to be young again.

The next hour or so was spent looking around the city, trying out foods, and seeing how culture has changed in the past few decades. Maybe he could learn a thing or two to accommodate the newer generations. WiFi seems to be a common commodity nowadays, but he didn’t know where to start with implementing it. The B&B was very particular with how it functions, one needed to write contracts and exceptions to allow new things like wifi to work. The barrier kept most of that from entering by default. To write such a contract, he needed to have an in-depth understanding of the subject. He was never much of a scholar and the thought of learning about wifi bored him to no end. Maybe he could get someone else to do it for him.

Making his way through the city, Albert arrived at the hotel just before the meeting time. It was quite daunting to enter such a building. It was massive, much bigger than any man-made building he has seen, other than the Pyramids, but then again, it wasn't a fair comparison as the Pyramids were partially unfinished when he arrived in Egypt. Not wanting to waste any more time, he entered and found his way to the meeting room without anyone noticing.

When he arrived, he was taken back by the scene before him. The first thing that caught his eye was the Angel. Despite being hidden, he could clearly see her translucent wings and a large sword. He assumed she was a fallen angel but not in the same vein as him. He gave up everything, including his wings, when he fell from heaven, she did not and looks as if she was banished instead. The next thing that caught his attention was the human woman and something else. He could not tell what the black haired man was, but he was clearly not human. Quite the group of people that arrived so far.

Albert approached the group before taking his hat off, holding it to his chest, and giving a little bow while saying, “Good morning everyone. I hope I am not too late.”
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Pascal
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Overcast skies were surprisingly helpful for even lighting. Juniper’s vibrant blue(ish) hair was a stark contrast to the dreary day. She wore a pink lattice back cross crop top, jean shorts, oversized midnight blue suspenders and some midnight blue strappy shoes. She loved the sound the heels made when they clacked along the sidewalk and street. She had a small white backpack on her back, one of her favorite recent purchases, and it held most of her essentials—apart from her phone, which was of course in her hand.

Scrolling through the photo settings, Juniper examined her profile with various filters before making a few extra tweaks to the settings. She took a few pictures, shifting her pose and expression between each. After a dozen or so, she went into the album and critiqued them. She settled on her favorite, then added a caption.

#AsUniqueAsACloud. No… That wouldn’t work. It sounded weird.

#CloudyWithAChanceof … ugh…

#CloudyWithAChanceofChange? Too inspirational.

#CloudyAndRoudy But she wasn’t even dressed that scandalously.

Juniper took a break and searched cloud captions. She hated all of them.

#TheDayIsAsBeautifulAsYouMakeIt Okay… But kind of wordy.

#TheCalmBeforeTheStorm Ominous.

Juniper’s alarm went off. She swiped the notification of the meeting to the side and began walking down the street. She paid little attention to her surroundings, and instead continued to think about crafting the perfect caption. She alternated researching puns, rhymes, and cute quotes with looking at her picture and second-guessing her choice. Maybe she needed to start with her quote then come up with the picture to match.

She passed a mural on the wall and was inspired. Pulling up her livestream, Juniper looked over a few settings and plastered a huge grin as she started it up. “Hey all you Juni Junkies. I need your help.” She turned slowly, panning her camera so the mural could be seen.

“I came across this wonderful work showing a bunch of people in the community coming together to make something beautiful. And it made me think of my awesome junkies. Hearts!” She blew a kiss at the camera and continued.

“But in a few moments, I am going to post my most recent selfie, desperately in need of a Hashtag Caption. I can’t wait to read your suggestions, and my fav will get a Shoutout in my next stream. Thanks Junkies, and don't forget to Like, Comment, Subscribe, Boost, and turn on your notifications so you can be the first to get my next Junkie post!”

There. Problem solved. Juniper posted the selfie and briefly glanced at some of the comments that were already coming in as she continued along the main thoroughfare. Her phone buzzed again for her meeting. She looked up at the street sign. Still had plenty of time to get there. Actually, she could even stop and get coffee, she thought as she spied a sign for an adorable café. She would have to do a full review later. But for now, she could try something.

Juniper went up to the counter and ordered a Grande nonfat lavender latte with oat milk, plus a croissant, scone, and a biscotti. While she waited for the beverage to be made, she walked around the shop looking for the best table for the background of her picture. When she got her drink, she arranged each pastry in turn on the plate beside the drink. The biscotti looked the best. She took a handful of pictures, lamenting that they didn’t have a lavender cookie or sprigs of fresh lavender to adorn the plate. Fortunately, she whispered a few words and they appeared perfectly in place. Juniper waved away another notification for her meeting and took a few pictures.

After she was satisfied—or rather, her desire to show up to this meeting outweighed her desire to take more pictures in the coffee shop—Juniper took a few bites of a pastry, then took a sip of her coffee before throwing them all out. Lavender was such a strong taste.

There was a good reason that Juniper set her reminders for the meeting for every ten minutes from 9am to 10:20am. She could get distracted on the way by things like murals and coffee. Fortunately, she still made it to the hotel before 9:40, and there weren’t that many good photo opportunities with the horrible fluorescent lighting in the hallway. The lobby had been nice, though, and she took a few moments there to enjoy the scene before moving to the boardroom location that kept popping up on her notification bar.

”Morning!” Juniper said cheerfully as she entered the room. She saw the folks at the table, with a variety of anxious and anticipating expressions.

”I hope you don’t mind if I grab a pastry.” Juniper said to the Detective, who was the only one she recognized here, having met them prior to them. Juniper opened the boxes and spent more than a full minute looking over the different ones before she carefully made her selection. She helped herself to one or two from each box, and got a plate, then put them all in her spot. Like she had done at the coffee shop, she experimented with different combinations of pastries on the plate, taking a variety of pictures while basically ignoring the rest of the people in the room. Of course, she already did breakfast pastries today, so she couldn’t post this one right away.

Or could she…

#SecondBreakfastBestBreakfast #WhatAboutElevenses

There, nothing like a lively debate to keep the notifications rolling in. She finally relaxed in the chair, and picked up one of the pastries, taking a small bite of the claw shaped one with almonds and icing on top. She then tried a tart, but found it too tart and put it down quickly.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by duskshine749
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Cain pressed enter on his keyboard then leaned back, stretching after a long nights work. He had been up all night finalizing all his preparations for his extended absence. He leaned forward once more and spoke in to the intercom on his desk, "Sarah, can you come in here and confirm everything is in order." A moment later his personal assistant Sarah entered his office. Sarah was a fine looking woman, about as tall as Cain but a bit on the chubbier side. Nothing wrong with that, back in Cain's day some meat on your bones was a good thing, it was a sign you were well off. She had her black hair in a neat bun and she was looking more brown than usual, perhaps she had gotten some sun recently.

"Right, Mr. Adamson," she stood holding a clipboard with some papers in it, "all of your normal duties have been allocated to those most suited to the job. They almost couldn't believe you were offering a pay raise for the added work."

Cain simply shrugged, "it's only natural people are compensated for their efforts. It's something a lot of people don't seem to realize these days." Cain often felt the world had gotten worse as time had gone on, but that wasn't a fair assessment. Plenty of things were better as well, he was just a bit of a grump at times.

"Yes, well," Sarah continued, adjusting her glasses slightly, "those who need to know have been informed this is an extended leave of absence for personal reasons. You really don't know when you'll be back?" Cain shook his head and she went on. "Very well, however long it takes we'll still be here when you return."

"Thank you Sarah, I don't know where I'd be without you," Cain got up from his desk and gave Sarah a hug.

"Oh I'm sure you'd still be here, just looking dishevelled with nothing organized," she hugged him back as they both laughed. Sarah had been Cain's assistant for nearly 10 years now. Professional boundaries were different when you were working with someone for that long.

Cain let go of her and looked at his watch, "oh damn it, I spent too long working. Hopefully I'm not late. I will have my phone on me though I may not answer, leave a message if there's an emergency."

"I know, now get going," Sarah started pushing him towards the door, "there's a thermos of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee on my desk. Made the way you like it, a going away gift."

"You're the best." Cain jogged out the door and grabbed the thermos as he headed to the elevator. Once inside he took off the lid and smelled the coffee. Perfection. He took a swig as the elevator reached ground floor and started walking towards the meeting place. It wasn't worth grabbing a cab, besides, the walk would help wake Cain up.

Eventually he made it to the building, and made his way to the room where they were all to meet. He entered the room and was surprised to see a familiar face in Aodh. He nodded at her and grabbed a muffin off the pastry table before heading over to speak with his....associate? Friend? He supposed they were friendly enough. "Hey, Aodh, how have you been? I haven't seen you in, what? A few centuries?" It had certainly been a while, and Cain wasn't exactly good at keeping track of time. Being several millennia old will do that to you.
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Argenti looked at the dead thing at his feet. It had been masquerading as a human. The low-level succubus would have even believed that it was human except for the fact that it had been employed as a high school teacher just so it could prey on younger students. As such it was in all reality one of the worse monsters that Argenti had the pleasure of dealing with. Even in his own head that sounded sarcastic, but it wasn’t supposed to be. It truly been a pleasure to deal with the thing. He had had it in a dark room for almost a week. At first it had begged to be let go. Then after the second day it had started to beg for death. Argenti was not an angel of justice or some other such nonsense. He was a sadistic demon who delighted in tormenting things that deserved it. There was just something so satisfying as breaking every bone in a monster’s body one at a time before slowly skinning it alive inch by bloody inch. IN the end Argent had killed the child rapist not because he was filling merciful, but because he was bored and needed to clean up. On second thought he didn’t want to be late to this meeting. He would have to clean up later and hope the human cops didn’t find it first. Argenti did take the time to wash up in the falling apart sink and change before leaving. He did want to be presentable.

As he was leaving, he heard a whisper, “A work of art, as always Argenti, a practical feast.”

Argenti paused to grin a not nice smile as the shadow that shouldn’t be on the ally wall, “Oliver. Did you gorge yourself on that thing’s pain without my permission?”

The shadow laughed, “Like you care. Al me feasting does is put them in more agony.”

Argenti shrugged, “True enough, but if I still did all the work.”

The shadow melted of the wall to take a more three dimension vaguely humanoid shape, “Fair. You seem to be in a rush. Shall I clean up to pay for my meal?”

Argenti shrugged and his smile was just a tad less menacing, “Fair is fair.”

Oliver laughed, “We should both be on our way then. After all fair is fair.”

With that both demons parted ways, the shadow back into the room to clean up and probably sell the body to some other demon that would eat the flesh. Argenti wasn’t too worried that that Oliver wouldn’t do a decent job. The shadow would probably so a better job than the succubus would. This wasn’t the first time that they had come to an arrangement like this after all. Argenti was well versed in causing pain and that was what Oliver lived off of. Argenti hadn’t realized that Oliver was in The City or he might have called him before starting. It was very likely that Oliver hadn’t been there the whole time. He probably came upon it part way though and hadn’t wanted to be rude enough to interrupt. Argenti trusted Oliver about as much as Oliver trusted him, which was to say very little, but right now it was a mutual arrangement that had a very little chance of one of them ending up dead. So, for now it worked.

Right, right now Argenti needed to get to the place that this meeting was happening. He could step to Inferno and then step back to the hotel in question, but the rumor was that there would be a least one angel there and Argenti wanted to avoid any infighting in this group that The Detective had managed to collect right off the bat. It was a good cause, or at least a cause the succubus could get behind, he didn’t want to sabotage it right away. As such showing off the fact that he was a demon right out the gate was not the best idea, especially since he was a low-level demon at that. He didn’t want any angels to get it into their heads that smiting him was a good idea. So, he hurried though the rain in his dark jeans, green t-shirt, and black rain jacket.

He wasn’t the last one to arrive at the conference room, but he was one of the last. He had been wrong about one angel. He thought at least two of them were angels. There was also what he thought might be a demon of some sort and a witch. Then there was something that didn’t seem like a demon or an angel but did seem impossibly old. Plus, at the head of the table, was The Detective. This was not Argenti’s ideal crowd but there was breakfast. He snagged a donut that he could tell had some sort of red jelly in it covered in glaze that melted under his fingers to sit two seats down from the witch, He did not speak to anyone as he bit into his donut, raspberry it turned out. He wasn’t here to make friends. He was here to hear how this particular group of people were going to help each other deal with the Outcasts. Because they did need to be dealt with.

He did mutter under his breath, “Raspberry. Why couldn’t it be strawberry?”
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Zanavy
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Zanavy slightly derpier than the setting

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Setepenre

Lesser Pride


"CANDY! Caaandy NOOOW!"

The child's wails were, perhaps mercifully, muffled by the kitchen floor as she lay face-down in half of her jammies. Setepenre stood up from her kneeling position beside her daughter and allowed one moment to inwardly scream. On top of everything else going on this day, it seemed she had committed the cardinal sin of running out of Aliyah's potty training rewards. The woman rubbed her furred temples for a second and then picked up her phone.

"Sorry about that," Setepenre continued, holding the phone with one hand while reaching for the beeping microwave with the other. "Yes, we'll be over in about half an hour. Thanks for watching her on such short notice, that day care lady was being such a bitch you wouldn't believe! She actually had the nerve to say-"

The lion-headed woman reacted quickly to right the plate as she realized she had almost unconsciously poured the defrosted steak into the frying pan with all the breakfast potatoes. A couple drops of cow blood managed to drip off into the pan. Eh... a little more iron in one's diet wouldn't hurt.

"...Thanks sweetie, we'll talk later, loveyoubye." Setepenre hastily finished the call and hung up. She scooped the potatoes onto a plate, gingerly stepped around her sniffling toddler, and placed the breakfast in front of a teenager dressed in the uniform of a nearby grocery store and looking remarkably not thrilled about it.

"Good luck on your first day, Marwa," Setepenre commented in the cheeriest warm tone she could muster. "I am so proud of you."

"Okay," the teen mumbled, eyes on her phone. That was one more word than Setepenre expected to hear out of her. Success!

The woman smiled and scooped up Aliyah into a hug. The girl hung limply like a ragdoll. That was fine, it was much easier to dress a child in a ragdoll tantrum than a flailing tantrum.

Several minutes later, Setepenre was speed-walking to the backyard, exhausted post-tantrum girl in one arm and a plate of bloody mostly raw steak in the other. The divinely blessed being arrived at a metal fenced-in enclosure and slid the steak plate over a rail, letting the meat plop onto the ground. She let loose a series of growls.

"<Have a good day, John!>"

After a few moments, a pair of golden eyes emerged from the large roofed hut near the center of the enclosure, followed by a massive maned head. The lion gazed up at the encroaching rain clouds with a slight frown.

"<Bye mom,>" John replied. The big cat let out a lazy yawn. "<Tell Marwa good luck for me.>"

Setepenre waved goodbye with the bloody plate and headed toward her car. As she walked, her muzzle shortened into a human visage. The hair shrunk from her face and sprouted thick black coils on the top of her head. Her eyes shrunk and dilated to a human look, though they maintained their golden color, an unchangeable hint of the supernatural. 'Penny' pulled open the side door of the old mini van.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Penny power-walked through the hotel, umbrella-less and halfway soaked, determined to beat the clock. It was... kind of a rough morning, but miraculously she found a parking spot not too far away, and that combined with her lead foot and her technically not needing to eat may just allow her to get to this meeting on-

Penny stopped on a dime, then back-tracked a few paces to a large set of doors. She double checked the room number written on the post-it note stained with who-knows-what in her hand. Penny stared at the door for a second and then closed her eyes. She took five deep breaths and counted slowly backward from twenty. Cheesy as it felt, she did take her own advice occasionally, and she really needed to go into this meeting of the supernatural with a cool head if she wanted to make a decent first impression.

Penny put on a friendly smile and pushed through the doors. As expected, she saw several people had arrived before her. Most of the people looked... fairly normal, like herself at the moment, not quickly distinguishable as powerful dangerous beings to the untrained eye. Good. At least these supernaturals weren't the total idiot kind.

The divinely blessed woman made a beeline for the coffee. She took a couple big glorious gulps before searching for someone to get to know. Perhaps someone who looked shy, she loved bringing the quiet ones into the group. A quick scan showed the presence of a man both quiet AND handsome - perhaps this day would turn a corner, after all.

"It's been days since I had a hot cup of coffee that hasn't been forgotten in the microwave multiple times," Penny remarked with a smile as she slid into a chair next to the donut-eating succubus, plopping her massive mom purse on the table. "I am Setepenre... ha, it feels weird to say that in this form. And who are you? Are you from around here? I suppose that might be a complicated question around this crowd."

Penny looked over the handsome man's shoulder and squinted as she caught sight of a person at the head of the table. She had only met The Detective once in the flesh, briefly, and the sight of this person rung a vague bell but she couldn't be sure. Penny gave the person a polite wave just in case.
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The Detective looked around as their guests came into the room almost one after the other. Ivan Peters, the Lesser of Greed, came in as a cat that transformed into a human after leaping from his assistant’s arm. Aodh, the Lesser of Wrath, arrived appearing human with hands in pockets. Another angel, Albert, Lesser of Sloth, was next with his cigar and hat over heart. Juniper Murik, Lesser of Gluttony, was physically present, but her attention was clearly fixated on her phone. Cain Adamson, Lesser of Envy, reached out to the one person that he knew as soon as he entered the room. Argenti, Lesser of Lust, arrived looking like the cream-satisfied cat. Setepenre, lesser of Pride, was last as she came in via frazzled whirlwind.

The Detective rose and gestured out with their hands, “Thank you for coming. Please have a seat.” They nodded to the assistant, “You may leave.” Once everyone was sitting or settled The Detective started by pointed to each individual and named them to introduce them. Then they continued, “The City is under attack by a group known as the Outcasts. Normally such a group wouldn’t be cause for much alarm, but they have done something to interfere with my particular brand of magic. It is all I can do to contain them in The City, and that alone taxes me. I do not know how many of them are. I have managed to identify the demon Samael and the Fae Eris. I believe their goals are primarily chaos and destruction. The third is a creature calling themselves Bob. I am not entirely sure what this person’s goal is. I do know that somehow the three of them are harvesting the souls of Innocents for energy. I don’t know how.”

That was supposed to be impossible. Demons, vampires, Fae, demigods, a majority of all supernatural creatures hunting the souls of mundane and capturing a near Innocent was a prize. But an actual Innocent? It was supposed to be impossible. Demons corrupted. Vampires bribed. The Fae tricked. Demigods promised. They all did this in an attempt to get the Innocent to no longer be an Innocent so they could claim them. It was almost a game or challenge. The most common form of Innocents were children, but other forms did exist. The seven people in this room all fought against the corruption of Innocence in one way or another. That’s why The Detective had risked calling them. They had to at least be concerned that these Outcasts weren’t even corrupting before getting the Innocents.

The Detective steeled themselves to confess, “I will not be able to help you in the investigation or the fighting that is sure to be part of it.” They gestured to the Seven Lessers again, “That is why I asked all of you for your help. I am hoping that one way or another The Lesser Evils will be able to work together to eliminate this threat. If you have any questions for me, I need you to ask them now. I may not be able to answer them later.”

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The chairs soon filled up, with the last arrival being a MILF-type who immediately got coffee and sat down with her massive mom purse. Juniper turned back to her phone as everyone was getting settled. She didn’t eat any more of the pastries, but she did sniff one of them and savor that for a few moments.

Juniper listened as the Detective began to speak, though her body language might not have communicated that the best. She continued to scrolls, tap, and type throughout the exposition.

Evil beings. Chaos and Destruction.

Sounded like a movie trailer. If the Detective had more of a melodramatic voice. In a City, filled with supernatural beings, a group of Outcasts are harvesting Innocent souls for ener-

Wait… really? Juniper looked up at the Detective. Interesting.

Guess that made them the rag tag group of heroes. Haha.

Juniper looked around the table, waiting for someone older and wiser to step in with a plan. But moments of silence were drawn out like molasses pours out of a bottle. And Juniper’s patience was wearing thin.

”So, can you give us the names of the Innocents? And what you know about them?” Juniper requested. She had already pulled up a few social media sites to try to figure out who these people were. If they couldn’t immediately find the Outcasts, perhaps it was better to learn more about their targets. Granted, Innocents probably didn’t have a very interesting social media presence, but no one else was jumping forward with ideas.

Before The Detective replied, Juniper’s mind was already moving on to the rest of the exposition, and what it might mean. Many beings sought Innocent souls, but others sought to corrupt them and then digest/absorb/enslave or whatever. Another angle in all of this would be to try to learn their motivation. Chaos and Destruction could be done by just setting fire to things, or cutting toxins into drugs and then letting the distributors take care of the mass murder. Since they wanted souls of the Innocents, then presumably there was something larger going on.

She found herself wondering what else had been changing in The City. She thought over recent trends. There was a somewhat disturbing trend on TokTiK about going out on dates and murdering your partner. There was a class action lawsuit about TenSecondHacks leading to more than 34 deaths by using electrical currents to burn fractals into wood. But that didn’t seem related specifically to this. Maybe some subliminal messages in adverts? Those would depend largely on which platforms these folks were using, and how long ago this started.

“When did you first notice you had difficulty with your abilities?” Juniper asked next. If she had a better timeline, then she could piece together any other concurrent trends that might be related. “And do you have a timeline for any of the events you know are related to these Outcasts?”
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Argenti looked at his pastry as The Detective started with introductions and explanations. What they were saying was alarming to say the least. The succubus hadn’t been in The City for long, but even he knew the rumors that The Detective was one of the more powerful beings in The City. If they were having problems, it was unlikely that the seven of them would have better luck. Still, Argenti found himself desperate to try. This Outcasts, whoever they were, were dangerous. Corrupting an Innocent was bad enough. Actually, taking an Innocent’s soul? That was completely unacceptable. He wanted to leap out of his chair, find these Outcasts, and eliminate them. Still, he forced himself to remain stationary. If they were powerful enough to give The Detective pause brute force wouldn’t work. They would need a plan.

Argenti had no idea what that plan could even possibly be. He wasn’t really a planner. He focused on torturing people that needed to be tortured. So, it was a good thing that someone else spoke up first. This Juniper, as The Detective called her, was on the right track even if she seemed to be more interested in her phone. Not all Innocents were exactly the same. If was a pattern in the victims there maybe a way to figure out what the end goal of this Bob was. It was Bob that Argenti was the most interested in. Destruction and chaos were easy. Samael and Eris, whoever they were, didn’t need Innocents to cause it. Which mean this Bob, with unknown motives had to be playing a significant part.

So Argenti asked his question without caring if he appeared rude or not, “This Bob, what can you tell us about them? You have to know something more than what you are saying if you know what they are calling themselves. What do they look like? Do they talk to anyone other than Samael and Eris? Do you know what species they are?”

It was odd that The Detective knew that Eris was Fae and that Samael was a demon with out knowing anything more about Bob. Was Bob just that more secretive? Argenti supposed that was a possibility and couldn’t been sure. He wasn’t an investigator. He made things bleed. Maybe one of the other Lessers was. That would be helpful. He cast a look around the other people at the table. They were all powerful. He could sense that. Most of them were old too. The phone addict might be younger than him, but the rest felt older. He couldn’t do much, but he did have a sense for power and age. It helped him avoid too much trouble. None of them activated the Gift either, which meant he could work with them He night not like it, and most of them might be annoying, but he could and would be able to deal with these other Lessers if it meant saving Innocents. In the end, that was what was important about this whole encounter.
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"We can chat some more later," Cain said to Aodh as the Detective called them all to order. He took a seat and ate his muffin as the Detective explained the situation. The Detective seemed like a rather powerful being if they were able to gather the rest of the people here, if these Outcasts could stop their magic then they were likely even more powerful. Cain still had some hope though, to stop a very powerful being you generally needed a specific spell, meaning you could be weak to other forms of attack.

Juniper spoke up while Cain was pontificating about what type of magic the Outcasts might be using to stop the Detective. She brought up some good questions, she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders, despite seeming to be the youngest of all those gathered. Argenti proceeded to bring up this Bob character. Cain had also found it strange the Detective seemed to have no information on them. He doubted they'd get any more on Bob though, the Detective didn't have any reason to hide important information like that. They were the Detective's last resort, the Hail Mary at the end of the game, if they were still hiding important things at this point that seemed like a huge blunder.

Cain decided to speak up asking what he was most interested in. "What exactly is your brand of magic that the Outcasts are able to get around it?" Cain had used most forms of magic in his long time on Earth, it was a bit of a favourite subject of his. "Actually, if I could get a general idea of everyone's special talents that would help me greatly," Cain addressed the rest of the room with this comment. Obviously it was difficult to trust all these strangers, but they had all come together for a common goal, so trust would have to come with the job. "I'm able to copy the abilities of others, both magical and mundane. So knowing what you can do will make me better be able to help out in a bind." If he wanted them to trust him enough to tell their abilities he would have to be the one to start by telling his.
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Setepenre

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Penny quieted her mind as well as she could to take in the solemn information The Detective presented. The news of these Outcasts threatening Innocent souls was troubling indeed. But that was why she was here in the first place, anyway, to protect her descendants and others who did not deserve such a fate.

The apparent team name of this group of seven powerful beings, though... 'Lesser Evils?' Penny couldn't help but scoff a little. None of Setepenre's line were ever lesser at anything.

The young phone-obsessed girl beside Penny spoke up about the possibility of connecting dots between The Outcasts' victims. Penny nodded along in approval. She couldn't help but feel a bit of kinship with the girl, who reminded her of her own daughter. Frustrating as it was to try to interact with a person who had their nose on a phone screen 24/7, some of these young folks could pull off certain kinds of magic with the internet that Penny could only begin to fathom.

"That's some good thinking," Penny replied to Juniper, starting a little side conversation. "If it takes us a long time to prepare to take these Outcasts head-on, at least we might be able to protect the Innocents better in the meantime if we can identify which ones are most in danger. Or even, if push comes to shove, pick the most suitable bait for a trap..."

A bit later, one of the team members spoke up about his powers, met by a table full of silence. That... was a very bold move indeed. The more one supernatural being knew about another's powers, the more opportunity they gained to circumvent them and pose a serious threat. Of course, this Cain fellow was certainly not telling the whole truth, nor did Penny really expect anyone at the table to reveal their full hand now.

"I am able to wield the strength of a lioness in battle," Penny addressed the table. "I can transform into a lioness, a human, and anything in-between. Regardless of my form, I have enhanced strength and speed, and I am a skilled swordswoman. My roar inspires supernatural bravery or fear, depending on the situation."

Penny left a few stones unturned, most importantly, the source of her powers. Any being imbued with divine power could be hamstrung by interference with their connection to the divine, and Sekhmet already seemed to have a tenuous grasp on the world in this era as it was. Penny felt a pang of guilt for choosing not to publicly praise the glory of her goddess in this instance. She would find a way to make it up to Sekhmet later.

Penny frowned as she turned to The Detective. She had a burning question that she couldn't help blurting out.

"And, sorry to interrupt the current topic of conversation, but are there any magical or otherwise protections we can put in place to mitigate the risks of these Outcasts immediately identifying us as threats and targeting the Innocents closest to us like a pack of cowards? I understand that most of our... certain variety of people don't tend to keep close connections with mundanes. And I know the risks all of us made just by choosing to walk into this room. But if there is any chance of concealing our identities for as long as possible, I think that should be a priority for us."
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Albert listened intently to the conversation around him but didn’t comment on much. The old angel in him did feel sorrow for the innocents that were killed. He was once in charge of finding and punishing such crimes, but not anymore. His old beliefs are nothing more than a fading amber inside of him. Though that didn’t mean he wouldn’t help. These outcasts were dangerous and would be a bother for him down the line.

Many questions were proposed and ideas were shared. Most were curious about the person named Bob, which was quite a strange name for an immensely powerful being. It didn’t match any of the deities he knew of. Could it be an alias or a forgotten god? “Detective, could you tell me how long they have been trapped and their estimated kill count? Innocent souls often have 2 uses, to fuel magic or to summon something. So if we know how many souls have been reaped, we could estimate their power or end goal,” Albert asked.

When the question of skills was proposed, Albert gladly shared what he could do. It wasn’t like one could use his powers correctly if they copied his abilities. “I am able to write contracts that have a wide arrange of effects. But it’s ruled by an equivalent exchange. One can’t obtain power without giving something in return. And Cain, do be careful. You could erase yourself with my ability.” Albert imagines he can bind the outcast to the city if the detective were somehow killed, but he refrains from mentioning that. It was too much of a hassle for him to write up a contract of that level. It wouldn’t need a page or two but hundreds for it to work. He wanted to help the innocent, but not at the expense of several sleepless weeks.

Albert turned and gave Penny a saddened gaze when she asked about protections for her family. He thought about it for a moment but eventually spoke up, “Setepenre, I own a small bed and breakfast just outside the city. It is protected from even the gods themself. You and your family are welcome to move in. If you do, I can also extend its protection for when you need leave cause if you have work or your kids have school.”

Albert was silent for a moment before continuing, “everyone here is welcome as well if you need a place to stay while we work on this case.”
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The silence in the room was damning and for a brief moment The Detective feared that the Lessers might just walk out. They didn’t know what they would do if that happened. As much as it pained them to admit, even to themselves, calling this group had been their last hope. Well, not their very last hope, but their last hope at getting a conclusion that was acceptable. Then Lesser Gluttony asked her question. It took a great deal of effort to not visibly sigh in relief. They weren’t walking out just yet. The Detective still had a chance to convince them to help.

They handed a folder to the witch, “Here are the names of the ones that I managed to identify. I located 19 of them. I suspect there are more victims but cannot be sure how many. They arrived in The City about 3 months ago. Then about two weeks ago my powers started to … falter.” They pointed at the Lesser Lust, “I have seen two individuals, one male and one female, that I believe may actually be Bob in two different shapes. In both forms they are practically perfect yet somehow completely ordinary.” They gave their head a brief shake, “I realized they were a threat about a week in. By then Bob had already figured out how to effectively hide from my magic which is doable but shouldn’t be easy. I do not think Bob was their original name. I think it is the name they are choosing to use now.”

Then they paused. How to answer the Lesser Envy’s question without revealing too much or too little. The Detective didn’t want to be unhelpful, especially since Setepenre, Albert, and Ivan had already shared, but they really didn’t him copying their abilities. That would be difficult. It shouldn’t be possible, but it also shouldn’t be possible for their powers to be blocked this completely. This was entirely new territory and for the first time in a long, long time they weren’t sure what was going on. They had taken a risk with the barrier. That made them inclined to be cautious now. That didn’t mean that could be deliberately mysterious. That wouldn’t be helpful at all and might even be detrimental.

They spoke slowly, “As for my powers specifically.” They sighed, “They follow a specific set of Rules. Within The City those Rules should be absolute. As such how much power I have or don’t have depends on how successfully I follow the Rules. It is possible that the Outcasts have managed to get me to break one of the Rules, but I doubt that. I know the Rules pretty damn well. It is more likely that they managed to craft or find a loophole. Right now, most of my power and magic is going towards keeping a barrier up around The City. It specifically keeps the three Outcasts in and beings of a certain power level out. They will not be able to flee nor call reinforcements. However, this taxes me greatly. Soon I will have to Sleep in order to maintain it. I will not be able to do more.” There was another sigh, “I did not call you all to fight. I called you all to support each other in this battle. I was hoping.” For the first time all meeting they smiled as they pointed at the Lesser Sloth, “That one of you would offer protection to those that needed it, so that way those of you could fight would be able to do so without worrying about friends and family.” They turned back to the young witch, “Have you discovered anything useful?”

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The one who was introduced as Cain asked a more personal question about The Detective, following up by asking the same of the rest of the group. Juniper would have considered that to be quite a personal question—one that required a fair amount of vulnerability. She was more likely to admit her sexual fetishes over talking about her abilities in conversation. Cain provided his reasoning for the question, which was sound. If they wanted to take care of this problem, they needed to be forthcoming with each other. And if he could truly emulate any of their abilities, they could potentially be a great deal stronger. And of course, the ability made a great deal of sense with him being Lesser Envy. Juniper found herself wondering if he grew depressed with himself when he wasn’t around others to emulate—if he felt like he wasn’t enough on his own.

Since he had taken the initiative of explaining his own ability first, Juniper felt a bit less hostile about potentially providing her own tidbit of information, after a few others jumped in as well. Setepenre could transform into and embody the notable characteristics of a lioness. Interesting, though she wasn’t sure how lions were particularly prideful. Actually, her thoughts jumped to Pride rock and she was somewhat sure that was related to the Disney movie the Lion King. A quick phone search revealed that was, in fact, the kingdom of the Lion. And wasn’t a group of lions called a pride? Still, those didn’t really seem to be entirely about being Prideful, so Juniper would have to wait to learn exactly why she was Lesser Pride another time.

Albert brought up a few questions and explained that he had the ability to create contracts. Juniper found it amusing. Of course someone embodying sloth would just write down contracts and make shit happen rather than actually doing anything himself. He also explained that he had a bed and breakfast just outside the city with a great deal of protection. That was pretty awesome. Juniper wondered how cute it was. Albert was dressed with a sort of eccentricity that led her to believe he would have quite an eclectic taste in décor for the bed and breakfast. She was always looking for neat places to go, as long as he didn’t make her sign any contracts before stepping foot in the place. Juniper was pretty shit at reading fine print. Sure, he provided an electronic version, could always control+f the thing for key words like ‘soul,’ ‘heart,’ ‘exchange’ that sort of thing. But thesauruses could be mighty weapons too, and she didn’t trust herself with such business.

Juniper accepted the folder handed over by The Detective, though she not-so-internally sighed that it wasn’t in the form of electronic files. Paper was so… bulky and ineffective. The answers from The Detective told her that these folks came to The City with a plan, and likely had a lot of things in place over the weeks before ever affecting The Detective. The Detective began to answer Cain’s question about their abilities, which was quite a trusting gesture. Juniper half-listened as she began flipping through the folders. She could also scan the documents into her phone with her camera app and then look through them electronically.

When she was addressed again a short while later, Juniper let out a thoughtful hum. “Maybe. I’m going to need a bit more time.” She fiddled on her phone as she spoke. “As for Cain’s question, I am a witch. I use some spells, mostly to alter myself in minor ways, or create some illusions, along with some basic healing and such. I can also make a person fixate on their guilty pleasures to the point of neglecting obligations or basic body functions.”

Putting her phone down, the display revealed a map app still up, with a couple of pins on it. “I didn’t see anything jump out in terms of age, gender, race, marital status or occupation.” Those were all the quick things to look at, basic one-word answers on the first page of each of the folders. “I started putting home addresses and work addresses in for each person, to look at where their paths might be crossing with each other. There are definitely some similarities, but I am not sure if it is a coincidence related to population density in general, or perhaps these people were targeted somewhere near their homes, at a grocery store, library, fundraiser event, whatever. I’ll need more time and maybe some of y’all who like reading long boring biographies can take a look at some of these, too.” Juniper slid the folders out in case other folks wanted to grab some and read through people’s backgrounds. She saved their names in her phone, and would look them up on social media while the conversation around the table continued.
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Well, Argenti wasn’t going to share his full set of power, but he didn’t want to be the one holding out, “I’m a low level succubus.” He flapped his hand at this Cain, “There’s no point in copying my powers.

That was true for the most part. If he could mimic mundane powers as well as supernatural like he said Argenti’s parkour and free-running skills might be useful, but there was no point in bringing those up. If he got called out later, he would just say he hadn’t realized those were important enough to mention. Could Cain copy knowledge as well? If so, he might like the knowledge of how to efficiently torture a plethora of species, but since he hadn’t mentioned that Argenti would keep it to himself. He didn’t need to know about the Gift. John had given that to Argenti and he wasn’t sharing that!

He might get a few raised eyebrows for calling himself a succubus rather than an incubus since he wasn’t cross dressing today, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t even sure when succubus had come to mean female sex demon and incubus had come to mean male sex demon but that hadn’t always been the case. Oh well, these were supernatural creatures indeterminate age, not some “traditional” idiot born only 5 decades ago. This group had to have more sense. He draped over the table and flashed Cain his flirtiest smile. It didn’t mean anything. It was just supposed to reinforce his statement that he was just a low-level succubus, which was true enough.

Only to straighten and turn serious as The Detective simultaneously handed Juniper the files and talked about Bob. Practically perfect and completely ordinary? It was possible. Argenti had seen it before. His silver eyes grew hard. It was also extremely difficult. Argenti looked around the table. No one here fit the bill, but if this Bob did, that might explain how they got Innocents away for the crowds to extract their souls. They had to get them away and into a private space. That fact that there were so few victims lent proof to that theory. The Outcast weren’t taking souls in mass. Whatever their plan was they wanted, pure, undiluted, uncorrupted Innocent souls. It was dangerous, but sooner or later, it would also make them trackable.

So, when the witch, Juniper, passed over the files he took one at random. IT opened to reveal a yearbook picture. Argenti steeled himself to look at the age: 16. So, these Outcasts weren’t just taking Innocents. They were taking children too. It was true that most Innocents were under the age of 30 and even more were under the age of 18, but still, it felt worse somehow. The boy did the fairly typical things that Innocents did. He volunteered at a youth sport’s program three times a week, played the same sport at his high school, had slightly higher than average grades, volunteered at a soup kitchen once a week, went to a farmer’s market for most of his shopping, helped his single working mom taking care of his two younger siblings without complaining, and was genuinely well likely. He hadn’t been declared dead yet and his social media was filled with comments about how he wouldn’t have run away and how he was such a sincerely sweet guy. Argenti pulled out his only phone, plugged in his headphones and found the interview with his mother begging for whoever had her son to please give him back, that she wouldn’t press charges. She wasn’t an Innocent, but even through the screen Argenti could tell that she wasn’t an Innocent because of some big choice. Life had just happened to her. The way it just happened to most people. She was at least 98 percent Innocent. That wasn’t exactly how it worked, but close enough. Argenti’s whole posture screamed an increasing rage as he watched it, and his face promised murder.

He scowled as he looked back up, “There is a pattern here somewhere. They are looking for quality rather than quantity. We can find the pattern and we can stop them. We just need to work together. We don’t have to trust each other. We just have to work with each other.”
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Ivan


A fire lit up in Ivan's eyes when he saw another one of the files the witch skimmed over. The file seemed to be about a girl, looking to be about nine or ten, innocently playing on one of the swings of some playground. An Innocent...and another one of these Outcasts' victims.

"Back in my day..." He muttered, hunching over in his seat and hitting his fist loudly on the office table. "Outcasts were people who were on the receiving end of usually poor judgement, not doing the cruel judging themselves!"

Usually, Ivan wouldn't care about judgement in the slightest, and would try to get money from anyone no matter what he thought of them. But, when the victim of biased judging is an Innocent?

...Well, these so-called "Outcasts" had hell to pay now, that was for certain.
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Cain was glad the others gave at least some hint of what they could do. Even if it wasn't much, having at least some idea of what everyone was capable of would help if they got in to a tight situation. Given the caliber of these Outcasts the likelihood of trouble seemed high, and Cain definitely wouldn't want to get in to a direct conflict with them.

"Perhaps for the time being we should take Albert up on his offer and spend some time in his B&B." It was a somewhat cowardly move, but Cain also thought it was the smart one. "If these Outcasts are powerful enough to hide themselves from the good Detective here then it's easy to imagine they could also be keeping tabs on them and by extension all of us since we all came to this meeting. Unless of course anyone has any leads we could investigate right now." Cain was mostly looking at Juniper with that last comment. She was doing something on her phone, he hoped it was research.
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Albert’s eyes narrowed at the mention of The Detective’s power waning. He had been curious about the detective since the first day they met. They must be immensely powerful if they are capable of maintaining a barrier as complex as this one. That begs the question as to what The Detective was. They may look human, but that meant little for someone attending this meeting. He also wondered why the outcast chose this city specifically. Anyone with power would be able to notice the control the Detective has over this city. One would not be able to go unnoticed with him around. At least right now, The Detective seem to be on the side of good. Having him as an asset would be of great help if not for his deteriorating abilities. Keeping him safe should be their top priority because it is obvious the outcasts are targeting him specifically.

“Well my invitation extends to you as well Detective if you require a safe place to rest,” said Albert. He didn’t know what he meant by sleep, it could be the literate sense, but it could also be a number of things.

“Now please excuse my skepticism, but are we sure that these missing people are dead? Maybe instead of harvesting their souls, they are keeping their victims alive for other nefarious means,” Albert noted, “living sacrifices, bait, or even as an insurance policy.”

He saw everyone around the table reacted to the files. The lot of them seem to be angered by the treatment of the victims. They are all aligned to good and having living shields would be immensely effective against this group.

“Once again, excuse my skepticism, old habits die hard when you are old,” Albert gave a small chuckle. Age is an irreverent metric to everyone here but he can sense that he might be the oldest one present. “I would like to know what everyone expects to gain from this. I understand if you are doing it out of the goodness of your heart. That is my reason for doing so, but I assume not everyone here is like me. So what does everyone think they will gain because there is a lot to lose…”
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