A day ago, every last demon in all the planes went and vanished, swallowed up by a cosmic maelstrom of unknown proportions. Normally this would be news worth celebrating, given that demons tend to be unpleasant creatures as a rule, and the multiverse is a better place without them around to cause trouble. But the problem is, it’s always preferable to have trouble you know rather than trouble you don’t – and a mysterious case of universal genocide is decidedly in the latter category.

Which brings me into the picture – Jack Dragon, Private Eye. Solver of unsolved mysteries, famous for having found any number of missing princesses, artifacts and even – once – an entire kingdom that went on walkabout for a tenday.

Finding a missing race is a new one, though, and answers aren’t coming easy.

Right now, I’ve started my search with the two most likely culprits – namely those above and those below. You’ve got your celestials, your standard pack of angelic creatures devoted to bringing peace to the world, or more often, bringing death and retribution upon the forces of evil. Taking out the demons would be a pretty big deal for them, and might even let them start focusing attention on fixing up the world, rather than just holding back the tides of darkness.

On the other end of the playing field are the devils – which some Primes might be surprised to discover aren’t the same thing as demons, not by a long shot. You see the demons are the angry unwanted stepchildren of the Hells, fueled by a thirst for destruction and an enjoyment in unleashing all manner of havoc and chaos across the realms. The devils, on the other hand, are all about conquest – enslaving others, ruling the world, manipulating kings and archmagi alike into doing their bidding. Definitely evil, and with a cruel streak a mile wide running through them, but still fundamentally opposed to the mindless destruction their cousins represent.

Matter of fact, there is – or was, rather – something called the Blood War between the two groups. A constant battle dating back throughout the ages as they send their armies forth, vying for dominance over the lower planes. Now, don’t ask me as to who exactly finds anything worth fighting for on a plane where the ground is made of ash and the sky filled with burning hellfire – but for them, it was more about the principle of the thing, each pack of fiends out to prove they were the baddest of the bad.

And – as you may have guessed by the fact it has been ongoing since the dawn of time – it resulted in a stalemate. The demons are (were) more ferocious and able to rely on literally endless hordes from their home in the Abyss… but the devils are hardened soldiers who fight with strategy, tactics and intelligence. Thus – stalemate.

Until now.

With the demons gone, their more lawful kin are free to stop wasting resources fighting them – which is a whole batch of bad news for, say, everyone who fond of not being oppressed by hellish tyrannical overlords.

The celestials, the servants of the gods of light. The devils, rulers of the Nine Hells, who have their own connections to countless dark Powers. Both with a motive, and both with access to enough magical mojo to potentially pull something like this off.

Which is why I’m here, sitting on a hilltop in Arcadia, watching the two groups wage war.

It’s a pretty amazing sight, if you go in for that sort of thing. Heroic figures in golden armor charging into ranks of soulless monsters in black and red. Gods trading blows, with each strike powerful enough to shatter the very ground at their feet, to boil the very air surrounding them. Spells laying waste to the landscape, blood turning the fields of green into pits of steaming mud, immortal corpses scattered lifeless across the ground…

…and unfortunately, it leaves me back at square one.

See, the given reason for the war is that the devils are trying to expand, now that their cousins are out of the way, and the celestials feel the need to step in and stop them from doing so, and maybe even cut them off at the source. Problem is… that isn’t their nature, not for either side. These are primarily defensive-minded creatures – beings of logic and rational. They build plans, they take things slow, and any cosmic machinations they come up with often take centuries to unfold.

They don’t charge into battle without heed for the consequences, grinding their own powerbase down to nothing simply for the chance to take the enemy with them.

At least… they don’t do so unless they feel there isn’t any other option available.

Like, say, they were convinced their enemy had the power to wipe them out of existence, and unless they stopped them now, there wasn’t going to be a chance to stop them tomorrow.

They are both wrong, of course. Up here, on the hilltop, I can see that much. If both sides are convinced the other is the guilty party – convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, so much so they would risk everything they have worked for in a single bloody war – then that means each side is innocent of the crime itself.

Which sucks to be them, sure. But it sucks even more for me – because it means the easy answer is wrong, and despite them being the only two groups with sufficient power and clear motive, neither is actually guilty.

Which, as I said, leaves me back at square one.

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