"Heyyyy! Gabby!" Kit said as she saw her friend enter the café. An older woman, with curly blue hair and a purple blouse, she couldn't be mistaken for human. Even though this was technically a formal interview, both parties had known each other for years and this promised to be a very giggly day. Kit had been assigned to work with an older, more experienced journalist for a project leading up to her college thesis, so she had chosen to do an written/audio biography on the Grim Reaper. Of course, knowing the Grim Reaper personally, it was an obvious choice. Obviously.
"Kit! So great to see you again!" Gabby chirped, coming over to the table the other woman sat at. They looked quite the opposite of each other, Gabby pale and thin, Kit dark and round. They were meeting in a new café down town knoxville, an inhuman owned cafe that was supposedly themed after Kawaii culture.
As Gabby sat down at the diner table, Kit said, "Right, I guess we've got a lot to do today, we should get started... Ready?"
"Okie dokie, first question, from one of my classmates: what is the difference between the Grim Reaper and the Angel of Death?"
Gabby chuckled a little and pinched the bridge of her nose. "oh dear... Where to begin? Well, for starters, Angels of Death are a species known as lesser azrals, while the Grim Reaper is a position you're selected for."
"Alright! so, next question, what does the reaper do if not collect souls?"
"Ah, that one's a little trickier, as I suppose no one in your class is familiar with the AltEther barrier?"
Kit shook her head. "And I've only heard of it. I don't really know anything about it."
"Right, well, I'll have to explain that first... Ah, you know about the... Hmm. You obviously know the difference between a human and say, a spirit, right?"
"and, you know that not many humans believe in things like free spirits, mostly because they never see them, right? Well, that's because they exist on somewhat of a different plain of existence. The Altareal world, versus the humans' Ethereal world. The wall between the two, the AltEther barrier, that's what I guard and protect. We corporeal beings inhabit the Ethereal world, and things like free spirits inhabit the Altareal world. Come to think of it, this is probably why I get confused for a lesser azral, when people see me conversing with spirits.
"My own question here, what would it need guarding from?"
"Depends on the situation, but just about any being can abuse the barrier if so inclined. Say, a couple years ago, a group in the Amazon had started an entire religion based on one of their own's discovery that he could rip the barrier and steal beings from inside. I had to intervene there."
"What does it look like?"
"What does what look like? Oh, the barrier? Here, I can show you." And with that, Gabby reached her arm about her head, seemingly bringing down a piece of dull pink fabric that attached to nothing. Kit's eyes opened wide at the odd sight. She brushed her thick hair out of her face.
"So, if you rip that, more magic-y beings can come out?"
"In a general sense, yes. It's significantly more complicated, but that's the gist of it."
"Sweet!" Kit said. The waiter had just arrived, and for a couple of minutes the girls were occupied placing lunch orders.
"Alright, so, what does an azral do, then?"
"A lesser azral, dear. They're the ones who take Souls to the afterlife, but normally, souls don't require that much help. (greater azrals look like stereotypical angels, they're messengers. Oh no, not many eyed, many winged creatures, but beautiful humans with eagle wings.) It's when something is preventing Souls from leaving that they have to step in." Gabby chuckled, as if to an inside joke,
"For example, a few years ago, a build-a-bear had to have a lesser azral escort necromancer from their premises. The man had been getting his laughs by infusing teddy bears with Souls. I wasn't there, but it apparently was pretty funny."
"Oh snap, did they collect all the haunted teddy bears?" Kit said, laughing.
"Not all of them, surprisingly! A few Souls wanted to remain with their new children, and that's how we get cases like Horace."
"Ah, Horace was one of the Souls who had decided to stick around. He and my husband are good friends. Heh, it's too bad my husband wasn't there when they brought the necromancer out of the mall, he would have laughed so hard."
"Is your husband a lesser azral? If you don't mind my asking, why wasn't he there?"
"indeed. He wasn't in this universe at the time. That's actually part of what I think you'll want to hear for your project, dear."
"Ohh, indeed. I'm looking forward to hearing it."
"Right then, how much do you want to here?" Gabby began, "this all goes back at least a hundred years, and I don't know how interesting it will be."
"I'm always down for a story! As long as you're, y'know, willing to tell it. This paper is confidential, so only my teacher an I will read it, and I trust Mrs. Chiron to respect everyone's privacy. A life story is a very personal thing."
"Of course!" Gabby said, "a lot of it is public in the scientific community already,"
Kit closed the notebook she had been writing in and turned on her tape recorder, and Gabby began her story.