[Attempt two: getting creative with “edgy” descriptions because Phil doesn't like repeated mentions of liven't]
[Attempt three: further editing. Prayed to toaster gods for guidance and received nothing in return. This shall hopefully be my last attempt]
At first, it didn't seem like much. A small increase, nothing much. But then there was a pattern. Multiple people, in multiple sects. With each one, there were reports of a mysterious masked figure seen shortly before or after a body was discovered. There were sightings of different masks, but they were never seen together. Rumors abounded that they were agents of the underworld, simply there to collect when a mortal's time was up. Still others argued that they were demons who fed off of the sorrow and panic generated from the publicity. Rumors or not, the consensus was clear: the Masked Ones, as they had been dubbed, were responsible.
So far, there were only three that were known. When the Jackal mask was spotted, the victim most often had stab wounds. There was never any evidence of a struggle. The Eagle mask caused mass panic in the medieval sect with unidentifiable poisons that made it seem as if the victims had simply dropped for no apparent reason. The mask of the Hyena was not seen as often as the other two, but scenes tied to his appearance were often the most gruesome, with the mortal rarely in one piece and usually with a crushed skull. Reports of maniacal laughter being heard nearby was enough to drive most people away.
One of the stranger things to come from the Masked Ones' sudden appearance was the intense interest Orphos had invested into them. He was doggedly following their trail, making an appearance at every crime scene, though what he did while he was there was anyone's guess. That was where he was now. The deity had visited a bustling medieval kingdom that suddenly had many grisly discoveries in the previous weeks. The dealer god was standing near the scene of the most recent one. It appeared to be the work of the Jackal; sightings had been reported, and the victim had several stab wounds and was dumped in the alley of a nearby tavern. The body had just been taken away by imperial guards.
Orphos stood at the entrance of the alley. He leaned heavily against a wall as he stared into the darkness with a deep frown, lost in thought. The god had something cupped in his hands. Upon closer inspection, one could see that it was a glowing ball of orange light: a mortal's soul. He rolled it from hand to hand, toying with it in a distracted manner as if it was a rubber ball instead of the very essence of a human being.
The more observation-inclined would notice that the cuffs of his navy blue coat were stained with blood. He didn't notice your presence, or if he did, he was wholly ignoring you.
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August 2017 — March 2019
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When it’s time for you to venture out, don’t let fear have you looking back at what you’re leaving behind.