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Ruin

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RUIN, CALIFORNIA: A surprisingly lush city, just left of San Francisco, home to UC Ruin, a college famous for its Fey Studies program. About two hours from the coast, but there’s still the odd row of palm trees along a highway, and on a good day you can climb a mountain and see the coastline. Everyone knows that Ruin is a crossing of ley lines, a space where realms intersect. There’s a dark and storied history of fey creatures and demonic entities crossing over in times when the ley lines are weaker, known as Demon Days. There are practices in place on Equinoxes and Solstices, little one-use salt shakers and sets of iron nails you can pick up at a bodega.   Daylight is pink, at first. Something about fey magic and industrial waste and air particles; at dawn, the city is awash in rose-colored light. The higher the sun rises, the more golden it gets, glinting off windows until it mixes with the layer of slate-grey smog that never really seems to go away. The places where the sun breaks through the clouds are almost always spots buzzing with fey energy: the roots of a 600-year old red oak, the parts of Carmine River least touched by human hands, the odd fairy ring on the roof of an apartment building. Even these skylights are tinted pink; they’d be cute if it weren’t for the fact that every single resident of Ruin is extremely wary of fey traps. A small part of the population is nonhuman, fey in origin, but they go about their lives unbothered, for the most part. There’s also the odd human here and there who’s made a deal with the Court and lived to tell the tale, but they always come back...different. You’ll swear the teenager bagging your groceries didn’t have a chunk bitten out of their ear last week, or that there’s something off about your neighbor’s smile one morning. It’s hard to tell if someone is part fey at first glance. Inexplicably sharp canines, a sixth toe, limbs that are just a few inches too tall or too short; wild arcane energy can’t fully be contained in a ‘normal’ human form, so it manifests in strange and unusual ways.   There are times when the ley lines, the crossings between the world of man and the world of fey, are at their weakest. They call them Demon Days. On these days, monsters, aberrations, strange and often lethal creatures, cross over into Ruin. There are procedures in place to stop people getting hurt, of course; the Order of Hours, a black-ops, no-holds-barred wing of the FBI, fights these creatures, and is constantly dedicating itself to finding new ways to protect ruin. An agent of the Order can flash a badge and get into every building in the city. Everyone’s learned to look the other way when they do anything that skews towards unethical. The creatures that make themselves known on Demon Days are known to all as horrid, reckless monsters, that need to be put down. No one’s advocating for them.

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