Raw meat. Dispersed gunpowder. Drops of grease.
Ignacio had none of that surrounding him as a scent shield. He had separated from his veteran partner, Pierre Du Pont, in an attempt to “show off” his skills to his father. But all he showed was recklessness and disrespect for authority, and that would get him into trouble. Right now, though, another kind of trouble was knocking on his door.
The wolf wasn’t moving, and the air of confidence that it was displaying unnerved Ignacio. He knew he had the upper hand, he was in a better position, and the wolf should be showing signs of desperation and fear. Then again, he may be overestimating these werewolves. Maybe they were not as intelligent as he thought they were.
He felt a breeze of hot breath striking his neck, accompanied by an unfriendly groan.
The sixth wolf.
He was dead.
“Dreadwolf. Let him live.”
Dreadwolf backed off, while Mrs. Wellington now displayed a started look on her face.
“Ignacio, rise,” said the voice, “they will not harm you. And I have something to offer you.”
Ignacio was still trying to recover from being caught by surprise by a hidden wolf, and then spared. He took a few seconds before rising, his legs unwilling at first to respond to his brain’s commands. He turned to see behind him, and a large cloaked figure silhouetted against the rays of moonlight. The only thing discernible besides the cloak was a pair of bright spots that seemed to be the figure’s eyes, shining like a cat’s in darkness, only more…human.
“Your recklessness made it easy for me to guide you here,” continued the man, “and it’s a good thing that Dreadwolf did not attack you immediately. By the way, Dreadwolf and Mrs. Wellington, you two are dismissed. Go on with your hunt.”
Dreadwolf bowed his head, and then he left. So did Mrs. Wellington, who seemed to be almost as shaken as Ignacio.
“Still muted by fear, Ignacio?” said the man, “I assure you, had I wanted you dead, you would already be so by now.”
Ignacio swallowed, and then asked, “Who are you?”
The man smiled, but Ignacio could not see it, “My name is of no importance. The wolves here know me only as the dark man of the forest, though they know perfectly well what I am.”
“And what are you?”
Ignacio swallowed a little bit more, but asked no further.
“I will go straight to the point,” continued the vampire, “a war is drawing near. I can already smell the bloodshed…and so can my counterparts. It is obvious that tonight’s Hunt is a warm up, preparing for the impending fight between your Hunters and my vampires.”
The fear in Ignacio was slowly transforming itself into curiosity. Here was their most lethal enemy, a vampire, telling him that he knows what’s coming, and mixed in all this is an offer. But an offer to what? It was true that tonight’s Hunt was, as the vampire so eloquently put it, a “warm up”. Throughout history, whenever a major carnage (a.k.a. wars) took place between men, vampires were known to feast on the casualties, raising their numbers dramatically by successfully offering “eternal life” to those who were left on the battlefield on the verge of death. If they weren’t hunted down, the vampires would turn from a small plague to an epidemic. Was this the offer? I spared you, now repay by joining me?
“I couldn’t care less about this ‘upcoming feast’,” said the vampire, “but I have an enemy, amongst our race, that I want eliminated. I know of your potential, your skill. You can best him in a Hunt…with some help. And without help, if you can get rid of that recklessness of yours. The timing is perfect; this war will turn him into a savage who doesn’t think clearly – I have seen him act like that before. If there is anything as a time when he’s vulnerable, it is now.”
Ignacio couldn’t believe what the vampire was saying. “You want me to hunt down a specific target? What do you want in return?”
The vampire smiled again, baring his fangs. Ignacio could now see them reflecting the moonlight, and a shiver ran through his spine.