My arrival in DFW was anti-climactic. I expected to be pummeled by my father’s voice calling me to him, but it remained a steady stream in the back of my mind instead. My urge to go directly to him took a backseat to my determination to keep my distance, but I knew it wouldn’t last. I needed a place to go and I knew of only one place that could save me.
The Hunter’s Moon was the supernatural club in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. It was run by the Utmest Alpha of the Americas, Pete San Angelo, whose reputation as the most powerful werewolf in the world had reached even me in Cerdon. I knew of him—technically he was my great, great, great uncle—but I had never met him that I could recall. His reputation had reached me, though, through a series of halflings I had mentored. Each of them recounted a different encounter with him, but in each case the warning was the same—get off the continent or die. At least he had given them the chance to escape. Who knew how many hadn’t taken his warning seriously.
I caught a cab at the airport. The man behind the wheel asked me where I was heading and I had no idea. Pulling out my phone, I looked up the club’s address. It was a legitimate business and it was on Google, but the cabby was hesitant to go there.
“That’s a really bad neighborhood, friend. I don’t think you want to go there.”
The wards must be strong if the cabby was trying to convince me not to go this far away. “Just get me as close as you feel comfortable and I’ll walk the rest of the way.” I pushed the suggestion into his mind and enforced it with a strong will to obey.
One of the many powers my father had imbued me with included the ability to control the minds and memories of both humans and supernaturals alike. A simple push of my power overwhelmed his magically induced dread of the neighborhood around the club and he didn’t argue again.
The cityscape was beautiful, if very industrial most of the way to the club. The driver took highways nearly all the way there, and I got to see a lot of the bustling metropolis. Sky scrapers stood up in towering spires of human ingenuity, even the shorter buildings were grandly designed, wide and spacious, giving the impression of wide-open spaces in the middle of a huge city.
It only took an hour to reach downtown Dallas where The Hunter’s Moon stood in what looked like a five story warehouse on the outskirts of the area. I had looked it up on Google Earth and when the cabby stopped, I was surprised to discover I was merely a couple blocks away. I thanked the man and paid him with a substantial tip before wiping everything but the impression of a fare from him memory. The fewer people who knew I was here, the better.
I took a deep breath as soon as the taxi drove away and tried not to choke on the exhaust of the city. I knew the smell, but it was a cloud over this place unlike the cleaner air in Cerdon. I couldn’t help but wrinkle my nose. The smell of the city was much less pleasant than the view—garbage, rotting carcasses, exhaust, and the sweat and grime from humans punctuated every step I took. I wondered how on earth a whole pack of my brethren could reside here amid this disquieting stench.
The streets were busy with traffic, but the pedestrians were mostly headed the opposite direction as me. There were a few people heading my way, but I could tell from their slowing steps that they probably wouldn’t make it to their destination. I was close enough to feel the impact of the wards around The Hunter’s Moon. Humans would become disoriented and dread would fill them the closer they got to the building. If they got too close, a redirection ward would send them scurrying away. Everything about the neighborhood screamed, “No Humans Allowed” and that made me wonder if the entire neighborhood was populated solely by supernaturals or if it was deserted except for the club.
As my destination came into view, I masked my scent from other supernaturals. I didn’t know exactly what I smelled like to others, but Stephan had told me it was a strange combination of rain and sulfur—not altogether unpleasant, but definitely identifiable. I knew that if Pete realized who I was he might kill me on the spot, so I wove a spell that would make me smell like an ursine-were. Bears had an atrocious odor to me, but I figured that it would disincline the bouncer from investigating me too much.
It was early afternoon on Wednesday, so there was not a line into the club. I sent up a little prayer of thanks for that boon.
Alex! You’re here! Come to me, son. Come to me.
Halfway across the street in front of the club, Yuruch’s voice came to me with delighted laughter. It stopped me in my tracks. I could see the on-coming traffic, but no power on earth could move me unless he let go or I let in. “I will die right here if you don’t let go, Yuruch,” I said through clenched teeth, fighting with every ounce of power I had to stay in that spot.
His laughter echoed through me again. Come to me. You don’t have to die. I can give you a new life full of everything your heart has ever desired.
“I would rather die.”
A single burst of fleeting anger ran through my entire body. I’d pissed him off, but suddenly it was gone and I was free again. In a flash I dashed to the other side of the street, barely escaping a driver who had not seen me standing there, and ran to the club entrance.