Shanti walked casually down the street, hands in the pockets of her jean jacket. She was humming some unfamiliar tune as she examined the beautiful fall colors. Leaves covered the sidewalk before her, crunching under her boots as she traveled.

She was on her way to the beach where Reisha, Fiyero and Darius were waiting for her. Shanti knew they were probably annoyed with her for being so slow but she couldn't help it. It was her nature. Plus fall always had the most amazing colors. Though no matter how pretty the colors were, something just didn't feel right. She'd tried to figure out why she felt this way with no such luck until she'd gone to speak with Atei, the God of Prophecy, the week before.

Not many knew where Atei lived. He preferred solitude. Being around other caused the prophecies to fill his mind at all times. So in order to keep sane he decided to keep his location secret. Those who were able to find him, were proven worthy enough to ask the thing they desired to know most. He did, however, have a soft spot for Shanti because of her Music and therefore she was allowed to visit him when ever she needed to. He would anwer any question she had as long as she played her Music for him.

"Somethings going to happen and I need to know what." Shanti had said. Atei turned his knowing gray eyes to her.

"An old foe has returned." he said simply. He hadn't been able to reveal anything else after that. The phrase had been bothering her ever since. The only old foe she could think of was the darkness that ruled long ago but that power had been sealed up and lost. How could it be back?

She suddenly got the strange sensation that she was being followed. When she looked around, however, no one was there. Warily, she started walking again. Even though she couldn't see anyone, she knew there was someone out there but who it was she didn't know. Normally the only one who ever tried to sneak up behind her was Fiyero but he was noisey and clumsy. Who ever this was, they knew how to stay quiet and out of sight.

Trying to look unaware, she kept walking. It wasn't until she heard a noise behind her that she stopped and turned again. Nothing. She looked around for places her pursuer could hide but found none. In this neighborhood it was rare to find anything but grass in the front yard. Confused her turned back but found herself face to face with a man not much older than she looked. Startled, she took a step back.

He had long black hair that practically covered his compelling violet eyes. He wore a black leather jacket with a high collar along with black pants and black shoes. His skin had a dark tint about it and was a head taller than she was. He gave her a friendly smile that showed off his perfect white teeth. Shanti felt herself being drawn to this man.

"Why are you following me?" she demanded, regaining her composure. He took a step towards her.

"I've watched you pass by my house for the past couple of weeks and you intrigue me." he said with a nervous shrug. "You always seem so... happy yet at the same time so sad." This statement surprised Shanti.

"I'm not sad. Peaceful might be a better word. Not sad." Shanti said simply.

"No, it's definitely sadness. It faint but it's there." he said confidently. His brilliant violet eyes seem to be staring into her soul. It made her nervous but Shanti couldn't get herself to look away.

"Who are you?" she asked, eyes narrowing.

"Well... I hope I can be a friend sometime soon." he said slowly and without another word he walked past her. 

"Wait!" She called as she turned around. He stopped walking and turned back, eyebrow raised. "Can I at least get a name?"

"Call me Rat." he said, giving her that dazzling smile before walking away.


"There you are!" Fiyero exclaimed as Shanti approached them. He met up with her and clapped her softly on the back. Reisha had her hands on her hips as she stood barefooted in the water, her short brown hair already soaked.

"We were beginning to wonder if you'd died along the way." she said, raising an eyebrow.

"Or if you'd found some amazingly colored leaf on the ground and couldn't bare to pick it up or part with it." Darius spoke up. Shanti turned to the normally silent boy, hands folded across her chest. "Or maybe some one had their radio on and you had to stop to tell them how that artist came up with the song since we weren't there to listen." He lay on his back in the sand in his swim trunks, his shark tooth necklace rested on his chest. His surf board was perched right next to him. Behind her, Reisha and Fiyero chuckled at this statement. Shanti sighed knowing they'd won this battle.

"Reisha is your father in?" Shanti turned to her friend, sticking her hands back into her pockets as she started towards the surf shop.

"Yeah, I'll come with you." Reisha said jogging to catch up with her.

The End

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