A/N: Hey, SympleSymon here, just to save some confusion when reading this - and hopefully the rest – of 'Vagabond Exorcist'. When thoughts are written within commas (NOT quotation marks, but single 's), then it is the voice inside the man's head speaking, not him…on the rare occasion here that he does think, then it's without commas or any other kind of quotation mark.

Hope this helps! Now, go on, and enjoy…

Chapter I

'Great. Just great…'

The large window gave little resistance to the body that had just been thrown against it, exploding out into the night in a shower of glass, the body falling with it as it rained down to the cobbled streets below.

'Great…I'd forgotten our job was thirteen floors up.'

The young man who was falling through the midnight air amidst the deluge of glass and splintered window frame – all three illuminated from above and below by lamp and moonlight – struggled valiantly to shake away the wooziness and pain that threatened to overwhelm him. He could hardly retain his consciousness, but still he fought on, the voice raging on inside his head as he descended for what seemed like an agonizing eternity, his inescapable fate lying several dozen feet below him.

'If I'd known from the start just how careless you are, I'd never have agreed to this. I mean, of all the demons you've met in your time, you try and sneak up on a Rislen!'

Before the man could get off a retort, his body slammed onto the cobbled stones amongst the cascade of glass that fell around him in a tinkling crescendo, that which he didn't land upon bouncing back into the air, only to rain down upon him once again, the shards stinging his face like an unforgiving hail. The sheer impact of his fall knocked the breath clean out of his body as the majority of his ribs cracked and splintered into his organs, collapsing a lung and tearing into his stomach. His bald head whipped into the curb, dashing against a steel grating, splitting it wide open, his blood flowing and dripping through the slits into the sewers below. He'd landed on his left arm awkwardly, his fist driving into his spine with such force that it snapped, his legs becoming alarmingly numb and motionless.

Blood filling his lungs, throat and mouth, the man gurgled out a scream of intense pain and distress, but also of confusion; that fall should have killed him instantly. Instead, why was he now lying, paralysed and helpless, basically in a gutter, with what wasn't now numb on fire with excruciating pain?

'Sorry,' apologised the voice, 'it's part of the Pact, remember? You can't die, not until you've helped me reach Atonement. Again, if I'd known that meant you'd be surviving things like this, I'd never have agreed to it in the first place…'

Luckily for you there are some perks to the Pact…just give me some time.

The man could've cried out in joy when he felt the warmth of the healing aura encompass his body. Glass shards that had previously been buried inches into his skin now found themselves being forced out, the gashes they left behind healing up instantly, the same as with the cut on his head; the crack closed-up, the blood vessels reconnecting to one another effortlessly. He could feel his legs, his spine gently shifting back into place, closely followed by his numerous ribs, his crushed chest expanding as the bones took shape beneath it once again. His lung became re-inflated, and clear of blood, his breathing steady and unblocked by any kind of fluid, his stomach lining stitching itself back up.

For five minutes he just lay there on the stone path, his head still leant back into the gutter, his knee-length brown leather coat and dark blue denim jeans soaking in the blood of his previous injuries as a light rain began to fall. For five minutes he did nothing but breathe and laugh, cold, refreshing drops splashing against his gentle features, happy to be alive, glad to be no longer in such torment.

After that, he took a gamble and sat up, his muscles aching and screaming out in protest. But he was alive, and therefore gladly worked out the stiffness, kinks and numbing. With his knees drawn in close to his chest, he blinked away the rain hanging from his eyelashes to finally see the bad, bloodstained condition his clothes were in.

"Can you do cleaning, too?" he rasped, his vocal chords still sore from their lack of air and moisture from before.

'Don't push your luck, boy.'

Grunting, he stood up, his legs shaky and weak at first. Propping himself up against the nearest black, wrought iron lamppost for support, the young man took the time he now had whilst his strength and stamina returned to consider his plan of action.

He looked up at the hotel he'd just been forcibly evicted from by the Rislen demon with renewed conviction, his teeth gritted as he glared up at the jagged, gaping hole that had been the window to Room 13M. It was an obvious beacon for any being from the Otherworld, because it was common sense that no hotels – or any other building, for that matter – were supposed to have a thirteenth floor (superstitions were made for a reason, after all). And yet, here it was; the Hotel Solaris, with not one, but two thirteens in a single room ('M' being the thirteenth letter of the alphabet)! Grimacing, the man wondered why an event of this magnitude and kind hadn't happened sooner, and more often.

A shrill, blood-curdling scream rang out into the otherwise empty night, finally reminding the still addlebrained man just what he had been called to the hotel for in the first place; of course! The girl!

'You're not going back there again? Wasn't your first dance with Death enough?' the voice asked with a sneer as he tore across the road to the Hotel Solaris' main doors.

"Giving up's not what I do," he growled lowly, his rough hands grasping the double-door's long brass handles. "People count on me."

The door didn't budge, simply shaking in its locked and bolted position, the dull thuds taunting him about the prospect of failure, something he couldn't let happen.

"Some help?" he asked, finally.

'Take, take, take…'

Another aura began to emanate around his arms, this time red and empowering as he felt an instant adrenaline rush course through his veins, causing him to grip the handles so tightly he crushed the slightly, imprinting his grip upon the soft metal. Then, with a barely audible grunt, he pulled at the secured doors, wrenching them open and free of their hinges and other fastenings with a splintering of wood and grinding of metal. As soon as he released the two large doors at his sides – sending them crashing to the hotel's marble porch with a crash that chipped and scratched the elegant stonework in several places – the aura dissipated, the adrenaline fading quickly.

The screams picked up, much louder now they had the lobby and stairwell to echo down, this time accompanied by the guttural roar of the Rislen, its mocking laughter making it sound like it was gargling with thick oil.

Spurred on by the sheer urgency and fear of the girl's distraught cries, the man sprinted across the plush, blue interior of the hotel lobby, paying the burglar alarm no heed as he neared the stairwell, and began taking the steps two, three, even four at a time.

'What's is the hurry, boy? The Rislen thinks you are dead, so it shall take it's time with the girl before it even touches here; it's a sadist demon, so it's probably having its fun just by scaring her.'

"You willing to risk that?" the man wheezed as he rounded the turn of the eighth floor. "Because I'm not, and in case you're having trouble remembering, I'm the one in charge here."

In his exhaustion, the steps seemed to be growing larger and further apart, but still he climbed, his pace never slowing no matter how loudly his legs screamed out in protest, falling heavily on the stone as if they were filled with lead.

'Fine, suit yourself…I was just going to suggest a more careful, tactical approach this time, as I think I may not have enough energy after that last show of machismo to heal you fully next time.'

"Suggestion noted," the man grunted, sweating starting to trickle down his forehead and into his hazel eyes, causing him to blink and wipe it away. Floor twelve…

Thirteen!

'Here we are,' the voice sounded unimpressed with his decision to return, its sound reduced to something similar to a sneer. 'If you're just going to get beaten senseless and thrown out like an unwanted toy again, can't you at least pause to catch your breath? Your panting would probably give you away long before the demon saw you.'

"Har-har…"

Once the man had spared as much time as he dared, he skirted along the length of the corridor silently, his back pressed up against the wall, his chest still heaving although he managed to force out silent gasps. When he finally reached the closed door of Room 13M (he'd closed it behind him on his original entrance, as was the Law), the girl's shrieks and sobs were almost too overpowering, the demon's mocking laughter too nauseating.

Pressing an ear to the door, the young man tried to guess the distances of the two by their sounds, his weapons – a pair of stainless steel sai – ready in his hands, blades down, the hilts pressed against his wrists.

'What if he looks through the spy –'

Suddenly, without any sound of warning, the wet leathery hand of the Rislen tore through the door with startling ease and speed, its long, spindly claw-like fingers grabbing the man's head in a vice-like grip before pulling him through the door, the damaged woodwork completely splintering and breaking inwardly as his entire body was pulled in through the hole, which reluctantly became wider at the same time. As his arms slammed against the sides of the jagged wooden hole on the way in, the force made him loosen his grip on his sai, both of which clattered to the floor of the corridor as he was pulled into the room.

Before he knew it, he was dangling in the air, the Rislen holding him at arms-length, its many eyes staring at him in a range of emotions spanning from anger to hate.

"Exoorcisssst!"

End of Chapter I

A/N: Yep, I don't think I've answered a single question here; who is the man? Just who – or what – is the voice inside his head? Is he just a schizophrenic? How the hell did he actually survive that fall?!?!

Oh, and there's the whole 'WTF's a Rislen!?!" thing, but never mind, for all will be revealed in Chapter II of "Vagabond Exorcist"!

Every review is greatly appreciated, and will be rewarded with a Milky Bar and a returned review!

…okay, so maybe not the chocolate.

SympleSymon