drip…

……drip……

………drip………

The shuffle of the fine leather shoes contrasted against the heavy odor that clung to the narrow walls and weighted the air with the stench of misery and fear. A match flickered to illuminate a cold smile that balanced a cigarette; the sharp sent of sulfur bore through the curtain of filth that already existed.

"How much is the offer?"

In response to the voice, the caged creature curled tighter in the corner, hissing to display sharp canines, though the rest of her appeared mostly-human. Only the grey-green hints of strips on her upper arms and outer thighs, however, marked her as non-human.

A distant hallway rang with an echoing cry of "I want to go home!"

Only the new or insane cried out that way. That voice would soon find that vocalization only summoned punishment, and like the others, he would realize he was home now—home with whoever held his collar and his keys in this sunless world. Any actions or fighting to the contrary would be met with the dominance befitting something owned, a controlled object, a commodity.

"Shifters aren't in much demand right now, boss," a squat, swarthy man replied. "He only offered twelve grand."

A pause.

A moment to decide life and death.

"Do it."

***

"Siofra!"

The young man trembled as that simple name vibrated through his very core. He stopped dead in his tracks as if something had stuck him to the spot. That one word held so much power over him. It was unnerving; knowing someone could control him with a word. That name in the wrong hands was almost unthinkable. It could spell disaster to the bearer of that name. The young man turned around to face the older male as obediently as a child and clasped his hands behind his back. He could have never dreamed of leaving. The man before him demanded respect.

"What is it, Master? They found something again. I have to go."

"I know. That is the reason I called you back. I don't want to lose you to silly humans. Keep your wits about you, Son. Remember what I taught you. Always be careful in how you use your powers. You do have limitations."

"I know this. I am not a novice at the Arts."

"No, no you're not. That's why I remind you. Don't get cocky."

"I won't." The older man came over to Siofra and hugged him like a father would hug his son before sending him out to war. In a way, this was a war ground. He kissed the top of Siofra's head and sighed.

"Well, go then."

"Yes, Master." Siofra gave a bow to the elder and hurried away. He had a duty, and he wouldn't let anything get in his way.

***

Faolán muttered under his breath the whole time he drove to the scene of a recent kidnapping. How could people be so careless? Didn't anyone know how to defend themselves anymore? He parked his pleasantly-growling charger next to the sidewalk and looked at the middle-class house before him. Cops were already on the scene. He really hated human cops; they soiled a scene with their grubby paw prints and covered any glamor that existed. This was why he was here after all. A special agent to prove that reality was still reality and fantasy hadn't somehow wandered into human lives. Of course, the latter would always be a secret on his watch.

Faolán took in a breath and pushed his strawberry blond hair out of his face. He got out of his car and shut the door. He walked under the yellow tape that crisscrossed the area. A young cop came up to him and started to push him away from the house

"I am sorry, Sir. You can't-"

Faolán pulled out his Special Investigators of Fictional Intelligence Badge from and practically shoved it in the cop's face. The cop's dark eyes scanned the badge and, grudgingly, he let Faolán pass. That was another thing that annoyed him. Cops didn't like others showing up to 'steal their case', but it wasn't their case to begin with. He looked over the scene with startling emerald eyes. At first glance, he looked as interested as a vampire presented with garlic. He smirked. Really, one vampire with an allergy to garlic and now the whole human race thought of the little root as vampires-bane. Oh well, back to work… There really wasn't anything out of the ordinary about the place. It was just an ordinary house that used to be home to a very extraordinary person.

Faolán walked into the house and sniffed the air like a dog. He almost reeled back. The place had the horrible stench of a demon. It was like burnt hair met rotten flesh. It almost made him nauseous. He cleared his throat and walked further into the house and tried to stop the habit of reaching up to his nose. Humans couldn't smell that, so he'd probably call up some unwanted questions. He kept his eyes open for any sight of glamor. If the demon had been kidnapped by someone who could control glamor then a slight residue would have been left behind on anything the kidnapper touched. That included the floor. He walked through the entire house but found nothing. That ruled out quite a few things. It couldn't have been a vampire, a wizard, warlock, enchanter, witch, mage, or fey. In fact, he didn't smell anything else besides the demon. Could a summoning spell have taken the poor demon away?

No, that wasn't possible. He would have seen a marking on the floor where the demon was snatched away, since summonings always left large marks behind. Faolán took extra precaution then to check the ground again just in case he missed anything. He was so preoccupied with his search, he hadn't heard the human cop walk into the room behind him.

"Er- Excuse me, Special Agent Ta-Tanknee… Tani?" the man began.

Faolán jumped, a little surprised, and turned on his glamor and was quick to get to his feet. When he realized who it was, he rolled his eyes. Why was it so hard for them to pronounce his name? It wasn't hard at all!

"Tanai. Tahn ee," he spelled out.

"Tanknee."

"Forget it. What is it?" he asked and straightened himself out.

"Um..." the poor kid blushed. He probably felt a little more than embarrassed. When the cop's attention started to drift in places Faolán didn't really appreciate, Faolán realized his glamor was still up. He dimmed it before the young lad started to lose his mind to the gutter. "Your... Your partner is here... Detective Mercy." Mercy? That was an interesting last name. It was so straightforward. He shrugged it off and started to walk out of the room. He hated working with other people; especially when it was humans. It was never on his own terms. Of course, he could charm the detective, but he didn't want things to get out of hand. Might as well check the partner out before he did anything to muddle his mind. He had learned over the years that some humans, if trained properly, could be useful. It always helped to have a trained fighter at your back in a scruff.

Ah, my friends, thank you for reading this sneak peek of the first chapter of this story. This is actually coauthored with my good friend mousegirl05. The rest of this chapter, plus following chapters of this story will be up on her profile under the name: Deceptive Perception. Please go to her profile if you want to continue reading it, but please review for us both and tell us what you think! Share the love with us both! If you like our writing, look up our other stories. ^^ Thank you for reading this and I hope to hear from you!