Reprinted with permission from the author.
The world had changed. It felt as though it had happened over night, and I suppose for some people it had. Yet if you looked closely, you could track the ripples, see the small shifts as they gradually grew, before we found ourselves here.
A decade ago, the supernals were hidden. There were groups of people devoted to making sure they remained that way. I’m sure they worked very hard, but in the end, it was inevitable. Chaos will find a way. In this particular case, it came in the form of a witch – two, really. A mother and daughter. They set out to change the world, and they succeeded.
Now we witness the blood-soaked birth of a new reality. I was one of the first, and I don’t know if that makes me blessed or cursed. It happened one night eight years ago. Some people have big parties and make out with the pretty girl for their sixteenth birthday. I was dragged into a blood ritual that tore my very essence asunder only to replace it with something else. Something… wilder. I remember it as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. I came to in a pool of blood, someone else’s blood. The bodies of what had once been my family were scattered around the room. Limbs were missing. Bones were shattered. Organs were… you get the point. It was a bloodbath. I was the only one alive.
To this day I don’t know if I did that. I did what any sixteen year old would do in that situation. I ran. And I never looked back.
Never trust a fae. That goes triple for a made fae. The home-grown, born and bred fae are sneaky, sociopathic predators. The made fae make them look sane, calm, and downright caring. Luckily for me, it was one of the latter that had sidled up to me in that dingy bar. Her lips were painted blood red although, given her nature, it could have been actual blood. Her eyes were half silver, half pale green, and her hair was as white as snow. I looked at the barman for some help or support. He gave me a small shrug and turned his back. I was on my own.
The problem with the made or, as some people call us, abominations, is that we weren’t born with the natures we have. We were brought into this world as perfectly normal non-magical people, sometimes entirely oblivious to the fact that magic, supernals, and all of that existed. What I wouldn’t give to go back to that. We become made when we endure a brutal blood ritual that supposedly brings out our full nature. No one quite knows what it really does, but everyone knows that you’re never the same afterwards. You come out of it with something else within you, instincts, desires, and abilities you never had before. Unlike the supernals who’re born that way, the made are very rarely stable, and thank the gods never have magic outside of a little shifting.
The fae sidled a little closer to me. Her dress barely covered her ass or her breasts. It had been a while, and had she have been something else, I’d have jumped on the opportunity she was clearly presenting. Given the situation, my only thought was how to get out of there with all of my limbs still attached. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m neither a small nor a cowardly guy. I just know when the fight’s not worth having.
I caught sight of another made fae out the corner of my eye, a small, vicious-looking guy. He was all angles. His tongue slipped over his lips slowly. His eyes had the distinct look of a predator watching prey. He was watching me. I raised an eyebrow at the woman who was slowly creeping closer to me. I knew their game. In about ten seconds she was going to press herself to me, and her boyfriend, the vicious guy, would charge over and accuse me of stealing his woman. A fight would erupt, and both fae would get off on the violence and bloodshed. I’d seen it before, and it was not a game I was going to play.
By some good fortune, I saw a lycan and a sidhe squaring up to each other on the other side of the bar. The lycan was taller than me and easily twice as broad, his longer shaggy hair threatening to fall into his amber eyes as he stared down at the smaller sidhe. They were both circling each other, and the lycan was beginning to shift. That’s where I stepped in. If they wanted to beat the living daylights out of each other, that was their prerogative. If a lycan or shifter shifted in an urban environment, then I had to step in and potentially punish them. I ignored the made fae and walked around her boyfriend. I wanted to keep a closer eye on the lycan. It was supposed to be my night off, but I was an enforcer. I couldn’t stand by and let them break the law. The sidhe sneered at the lycan and spat something in one of the fae languages; I’d learnt a few human languages, but there was something about the fae ones that I couldn’t get a handle on. The lycan’s teeth elongated, his fingers shortened, and the shift began to take over when he lunged at the sidhe.
I’d hoped the lycan would regain control and I could go back to my drink, far away from the woman.
“It never ends,” I muttered as I strode up to the pair.
The lycan’s jaw had extended, and his legs were beginning to shift. I had to stop him. The sidhe was prancing around him like a damn ballet dancer, a look of glee on his face as the lycan grew more and more enraged. I grabbed hold of the back of the lycan’s shirt when he lunged at sidhe and gave him a hard yank backwards. He snarled at me and stared straight into my eyes, challenging me. His jaw was too far gone for him to talk normally, so we were down to body language. I stared back at him, my shoulders back and chin lifted. He might have been twice my size, but I was more dominant.
“I’m Enforcer Conall, now where the hell is your moonstone? You know full damn well that it’s illegal to shift in an urban environment,” I growled.
He swallowed and looked down and away. I pulled the small silver (fake, even made shifters can’t touch silver) disk that showed I wasn’t lying and flashed it in front of his eyes. I wore the Enforcer brand on my left shoulder blade, but I kept that hidden as it marked me as made. The born shifters had a crisp white crescent moon in the middle of their jet black pawprint. Mine was blood red to match the ritual that created me.
The sidhe had vanished into the silent crowd that surrounded us. He hadn’t broken the law, and I didn’t care where he’d gotten to. The lycan, however, was on thin ice. Once he was returned to his fully human form, he kept his eyes cast down and spoke softly.
“I’m sorry. I must have misplaced my moonstone…”
Upon closer inspection, he couldn’t have been more than seventeen, so he was likely still learning his place in the world. I remembered being seventeen; it was hellish.
“I’m going to take you to the closest witch shop, and you’re going to purchase a new stone. Now. Then I’ll let you off with a verbal warning,” I said, keeping the edge to my voice.
Born shifters had to wear a moonstone in urban environments to help them keep their predator side under control and stop them from shifting. Our kind, and magic as a whole, were hidden from the wider human population, and a lot of very powerful people wanted to ensure it stayed that way. The punishment for using any form of magic, shifting included, in front of the non-magical was very harsh.
“Thank you. I’ll grab my jacket,” the lycan said.
I looked around the crowd and bared my teeth at them.
“What are you looking at? Get back to your night,” I snarled.
At least the lycan had lost control in a supernal bar so I could go easy on him; had he have pulled that in a normal bar, I’d have no choice but to hand him to my bosses. At best, he’d have been thrown in a solitary cell for six months. At worst, a witch would bind his wolf. Either would have had him wishing for death before long.