Chapter 1

Rorek's feet shuffled along the side walk. His head faced up, fascinated by the trees. He enjoyed the way the light shone through every leaf, giving them an emerald glow. It was one of those days that he just felt was different than the rest. He was off from work for the night and was free to roam. The whole town was his to explore.

Rorek had an eye for adventure. He could make a story out of anything - and he was always the hero. And as a hero, damsels in distress were his main targets. That could be why he followed the sound of the yelling into the alleyway. The rest of the street was empty, so the fight would be all his own.

"Are you crazy?" a man's voice yelled. Rorek stood just outside the alley and glanced around, taking the time to examine the every aspect of the scene before jumping in. The man who spoke was squeezing a girl's thin wrist. He was tall and muscular with a tattoo of a snake going up his arm.

"I didn't mean to bump you," the girl responded.

"You better be sorry," a second man's voice called out. Rorek had almost overlooked the thin man behind them. He was boney with a thin blond mustache.

"I never said I was sorry, jerk. In fact, I'm not sorry at all," the girl replied. When the man didn't move, she went on, "Look, I don't have time for this."

"Excuse me?" The man pushed her back into the wall.

The girl shoved him back, not doing much but the action alone aggravated the man. "I was rushing – alright? So if I hurt your friggin' feelings – I am so, so sorry. I hope your shoulders heal, and I hope your balls grow back soon so you don't have to whine like a little girl just because someone brushed up against you."

Rorek turned so they could see him. The skinny man in the back didn't notice him at all as he dug through the girl's black handbag. The tattooed one looked over at Rorek right away.

"Everything okay here?" Rorek asked. He leaned against the wall with his hands deep in his pockets.

"Everything is just fine," the girl responded. Her blue eyes met Rorek's brown ones in a glare before she started to push the tattooed man off of her.

"Yeah, run along kid." The taller guy smirked at Rorek, tightening his grip on the girl. Rorek's thin body frame did not seem like much of a threat to a man who looked able to lift a public bus.

"If you value that hand, you're going to let me go," the girl warned.

Rorek had to bite his tongue in an effort not to laugh. The girl was incredibly short and fragile looking. The man found her insult funny as well, and the two men started laughing. The girl was being crushed by the man's hip as he pushed her harder into the wall. "What are you gonna do about it?"

"How about we all just walk away," Rorek offered. "No need to start a fight. We can just pretend this did not happen."

The three heads turned to him for a second before the tattooed guy shook his head dismissively. After seeing his friend's lack of concern, the skinny one snorted another laugh. The girl gave Rorek a small amused smile before raising her hand. Her two fingers pressed deep into the man's wrist causing the man to bend over in pain. The man let out a groan as the girl pushed him off her. Her hands flew onto his shoulders and she kicked off the wall, lifting her body to a handstand –using him as the base. When she landed, she did not pause to regain her balance. Her leg swung around and hit the man behind his knees, causing him to fall into the wall. She turned to the smaller man and held out her hand. "My bag, please."

The man gave one glance to his friend before returning her money to her bag and handing it over. She turned around to leave. The second her back was turned, the smaller man pulled out a knife. Rorek opened his mouth to warn her, but she was too fast. On instinct, the girl turned around and grabbed his arm. She twisted it backwards and kicked the man in the stomach, knocking him to the ground. Without wasting more time, she turned and left the alley.

Rorek followed her up the street. The girl did not turn around to acknowledge him. "Where did you learn to fight like that?" Rorek asked.

The girl turned on her heel. "I don't know who the hell you are but you really better stay away from me."

"Rorek Hitsuia, at your service." He smiled for good measure. "And you are?"

"Annoyed. By you. Now get away from me." She turned back around and continued walking. Rorek frowned; he was truly curious where she learned to fight so well. He dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out a small device. It looked almost like one of those mobile devices the mortals used to communicate with each other. The only difference was that Rorek's did not flip open and the screen was about the width of his thumb. He dialed from memory '6-71-8922': his identification number. He felt like a bucket of cold water was dumped on him as he switched into spirit form. Rorek shivered, trying to shake the cold feeling that he would never get used to. He jumped up, landing gracefully and silently on the rooftop of the building alongside the street.

No one would be able to see him in his spirit form. It would be easy to keep up with the human girl as she walked. The girl interested him in a 'needing to understand' sort of way. Rorek followed her out of mere curiosity. He walked along the rooftops - his eyes fixed on the girl.

She wasn't extremely pretty or anything: her black hair only reached her shoulders and, unlike most mortal girls of the day, she wasn't wearing the usual low-cut shirt and mini skirt. She had on a long sleeved black shirt and blue jeans - nothing too special. She didn't even seem to wear makeup like the other humans did. From what he could tell, she was only wearing black eye liner.

She constantly glanced over her shoulder as she walked. At the end of every block, she would glance back. It was like a twitch – walk, stop, check, walk, stop, check.

Finally, she turned onto a roundabout street and up the pathway to a two story blue house. Rorek jumped from the rooftop a few houses down, landing on the side walk with a small 'pat' sound. She was halfway through her doorway when she spun around, looking directly at him. Rorek stared in horror for a minute, trying to reassure himself that he could not be seen. Somehow, he doubted that. Maybe it was the way shock displayed clearly across her face, or maybe the way her eyes locked with his. It might have been the way she jumped into her house, slamming her front door and locking it. It was all too much to be a coincidence.

Rorek crossed the street into a small field that separated her block from a larger road. He pulled himself into a nearby tree, concealing himself within its branches. After a few minutes, the curtain from the second floor window was moved aside and she peered out, looking directly at the spot he was just standing. She frowned and opened the window. Leaning her head out, she peered down both sides of the street. She gave up after that, shaking her head and running her fingers through her short, dark hair. The girl pulled the curtains open, making it possible to see into her room.

It was neat: a bed against the wall on the opposite side of the window, and a desk just against the window. Her closets, which were next to the bed, were open to show two rows of clothes, all hung facing the same way and sorted by color. She was sitting at her desk with a book open in front of her. Rorek watched her eyes as they flew across the pages. It seemed like only a matter of minutes, but the other lights in the house went off.

The quiet street grew dark and streetlights came on in intervals. Her bedroom door opened to reveal an older looking woman, appearing to be in her eighties or nineties. The two exchanged a few words before the woman blew a kiss to the girl and flicked off the light. Through the darkness, her silhouetted figure got up from the desk and to move over to where the bed was. She soon descended into the covers.

Darkness consumed the house. The whole town seemed to be silent. A few sounds broke through the night: a car door slamming, a father yelling to 'go to bed', and the sound of shuffling metal as someone threw out their garbage. A cat ran by the street before jumping into a neighbor's yard and a raccoon ripped through an unlucky person's trash. A church tower nearby chimed ten o'clock. Then eleven. In the far off distance, Rorek could hear a train passing through the town. Midnight came and went to one in the morning, and one went to two. Rorek waited patiently, determined to find an answer as to who this girl was.

A little after the clock chimed five in the morning, Rorek could see movement. The girl got up and rubbed her face. She threw her hair up into a short ponytail on the top of her head and dug in her closet for a minute. When she came out she held a pair of sneakers, which she slipped on before leaving the room. She left through the front door a few seconds later.

When she got to the street, she broke into a light jog. Naturally, Rorek followed her. She was not hard to keep up with. Her jog was slow and steady. Rorek began to see why she was able to kick the man down the day before: she clearly had strong legs. She made a left into a small grass area. It was the most pathetic excuse for a park Rorek had ever seen with just a few trees and a small path cutting through it.

The girl skidded to a stop and turned around. "You're still following me."

It wasn't a question, so Rorek remained where he was. His eyes glanced around, trying to figure out if she was talking to him, or someone else. After all, she could not see him. The girl stared at him expecting an answer.

"Are you talking to me?"

"No, stupid. I am standing here talking to myself," she replied. "Who do you think I am talking to?"

Rorek hesitated, trying to make sense of the situation. "Are you saying you can see me?"

"I swear, if you don't cut the crap- who the hell are you?"

In most humans, being so defensive was a sign of weakness, but this girl was also confident.

"Are you even human? I thought you were but... hm... how odd." Rorek leaned over and poked her arm, testing to see whether or not she was human.

The girl slapped his hand away. "Don't touch me." She swung her leg around in an attempt to kick him. Rorek was faster though, and he grabbed her leg in midair.

"Do not try to hurt me," Rorek replied as he dropped her foot. He a head taller than her, and yet she stood looked him right in the eye without fear.

Rorek held out his hand politely to help her up but the girl ignored it. "I want to know who you are," she said in a slightly nicer tone than before.

"I had already told you. My name is Rorek Hitsuia. What is your name? I have been very curious."

"What are you then?" She ignored Rorek's question. Rorek smiled in amusement at how she tried to act tough. He normally would have left by this point, but the curiosity was getting to him. The fact that this girl could see him in his spiritual form meant that she would learn about his world eventually; might as well be now.

"I am a Death Guardian," he said simply, "Unit 6, Rank 71, assigned to position section number 8,922." Rorek gave a proud smile.

The girl blinked. "A death guardian... right… What's that?"

"A Guardian of Death," Rorek replied laughing. The girl's eyes narrowed, clearly not amused by Rorek's humor. "I work for an organization known as The Death Deities. We make sure that the spiritual world does not bother you mortals too much. We get a lot of nicknames from those few humans that catch us fighting in our visible form. Um... Santa Muerte? Shinigami? Psychopomps? Grim Reapers?" Rorek explained.

"...Mhm…You fight monsters... Are you childish, stupid or just insane?"

"Have I given you a reason not to trust me?" Rorek asked.

"You just lied to my face," she replied, her eyes narrowing as she stepped forward, "And you're stalking me. That's enough of a reason not to trust you. This town doesn't get a newcomer without everyone knowing about it. We're a small community."

"So, what do you say I am then?" Rorek asked in amusement, "Please, enlighten me."

"Well, I would agree with the fact you don't have a normal human mind. Why don't you just go back to whatever mental institution you came from and leave me alone?" She started to jog away again.

"Wait," Rorek called after her. His speed was ten times hers, and in the blink of an eye he was in front of her, holding her arm so she could not run off again. "It is your turn."

"Excuse me?"

"It is your turn," Rorek repeated. "Who - or what - are you?"

"Human, stupid," she replied. "Let me go."

"Not until I know who you are and why you can see me." Rorek waited as the girl thought for a minute, clearly realizing that he was stronger than her. "What is your name?" Rorek asked.

"I said let me go," she repeated, trying to push him off her.

"Just tell me your name."

"Regina Smith," she said, struggling against his firm grip.

"You are lying. I just told you I fight demons for living. Do you think I cannot tell when a human is lying?"

"Ouch. Okay. Okay," she said as his grip tightened. "Natalie Stone. Let me go."

Rorek released her arm. "So how old are you?"

"Fifteen," she answered. Suddenly her 'tough girl' attitude came back, "but I don't have time to be sitting here. I have to go."

Beep. Rorek's Deities Communication Device went off just as she started to walk away. Pulling it from his pocket, he glanced up at her, "Okay, well a demon is in the area anyway. Duty calls. I will see you around Natalie. It was a pleasure meeting you."

Rorek turned and before she could open her mouth to respond, he was gone, leaving Natalie standing alone in the dimly lit park.

Rorek was already two streets over, knowing Natalie was still standing in the same spot he had left her in the park. Being a member of the Deities came with a lot of benefits, and speed was only one of them. His eyes scanned the area for a demon, knowing it was nearby.

Meanwhile, Natalie walked along the park wondering what just happened. I could be dreaming, she told herself, or he could be insane. How did he disappear so fast? Maybe I am insane. Or maybe he is just good at hiding? Her head pounded with hundreds of conflicting theories, none of which seemed likely.

She continued her jog down the usual streets she took every other morning, trying her very best to forget about that strange boy. She switched her focus to her jog, making sure she was keeping a constant pace.

"Where is the demon?" a voice broke through the silence. Natalie closed her eyes as she slowed down, silently praying that when she opened them, the street would be empty. Or at the very least, she hoped the street would be free of that weird boy.

Sure enough, when her eyes opened Rorek was ahead of her. He stood on the lawn of a nearby house, squinting down the street.

Natalie tried to turn onto another street in hope that she could avoid him. His head turned quickly toward her.

"Natalie." Rorek glanced up the street and back to her. "There is a demon in the area. You need to go, hurry up."

"I don't see any demon," Natalie responded.

"Natalie, the demon is going to come here tracing my scent. They go after mortals. Get out of here," Rorek explained.

"Why would it trace your scent if it wants to attack a mortal?" Natalie asked, happy to find a loophole in his story.

"Does it matter to you?" Rorek replied. Natalie just raised her eyebrows and Rorek said, "It would want to attack me, but humans are weaker. Just get out of here, now."

"I don't see anything coming," Natalie said. Rorek launched forward and pulled Natalie to the ground. Her elbows scraped the gravel and the cold cement scratched her arms. She was about to protest, but Rorek covered her mouth and pointed up the street. A tall figure emerged from around the corner. It was a little taller than the houses, and it was ugly. The creature walked with slouch. The skin was a cherry red color, but it was wrinkled and prune-like. Two very short brown horns stuck out of the top of its head.

Natalie froze from shock as Rorek pushed her behind the streetlamp. His breath was right against her ear as he whispered: "Do not move."