“All right, then.” I sighed, taking a step back. Nothing left to do now but go, face the boy I had to kill. “I guess…I’ll see you and Jackal when this is over.” One way or another.

“Allison.”

Kanin was still watching me as I turned back, his expression unreadable. “When you have dealt with Ezekiel,” he said, “wait for us on the eastern road out of the city. If we’re not there by tomorrow evening, go on to Eden without us.”

Something passed through his eyes, a flicker of emotion, before it was gone. “Be careful.”

I nodded. “You too, Kanin.”

He turned then, and walked into the black waters of the lake without looking back. I watched until his dark head vanished below the surface, then made my way up the bank, into the street, and back toward the flooded city. Back to Old Chicago and Zeke.

As I slipped through the silent, ruined city, canyons of cement and rusting steel towering overhead, I could feel the lingering pain in my chest start to fade—the physical ache, anyway. My body was finally healing; the blood Kanin had given me was repairing the last of the damage from the wooden spike that had been driven through my heart by the boy I had lost.

My stomach clenched, and not from Hunger this time. I…was really going to do this. Kill Zeke. Because some sick, demented vampire had Turned him into a monster. Wiped his mind clean, destroyed his memories, and twisted him into something I didn’t recognize.

I’m going to destroy you, Allie, because he wanted it to be me.

He wanted you to see me tear the heart from your chest and crush it in my fist. It will be poetical y ironic, he said, whatever that means.

“Damn you, Sarren,” I growled, as the stupid angry tears pressed behind my eyes again. “If I survive this, nothing will stop me from finding you and tearing you in half. The world could be falling apart around us, and I’ll still see you dead before it’s over, I swear it.”

But that didn’t stop the ache at what I had to do now.

I shot a quick look at the tops of the ruined skyscrapers, crumbling and skeletal, against an ominous navy blue sky.

Not much night left. Maybe a couple hours to sneak into the flooded city, find Zeke, and kill him. But I couldn’t turn back. By this time tomorrow night, I would either be on the road to Eden, hopefully with Kanin and Jackal, or I would be a pile of ashes swept away by the wind.

At the edge of the river, I paused, gazing over the water into the flooded city. Apparently, the traps and mines Zeke had set when we’d first come through had been taken down, because the city was no longer empty. Torches and lanterns were lit again, glowing orange in the darkness, and humans milled about the platforms and crossed the walkways and bridges without fear, though not in the numbers I’d seen before. In fact, only a few people seemed to be out, in small groups or pairs, or just wandering the bridges alone. I wondered if the majority of the raider force was out patrolling the city, looking for three escaped vampires. Or maybe they were all with Zeke, and I was walking into another trap.

Slipping into the water, I retraced my steps from the night Jackal had led us through. I swam to the base of his tower but, instead of going through the flooded stairwell, entered the building through the front doors and surfaced in the lobby.

It was empty. No raiders or guards lurked in the shadows or paced the walkways overhead. It seemed odd that no one was expecting me, but I wasn’t going to question it. Silently, I made my way to the far wall where, just like on the very first time I’d come through, the elevator sat, still coughing and spitting sparks, in the corner of the room. Not bothering with the lever or the questionable machinery, I climbed atop the rickety box, grabbed the cable, and shimmied up the shaft, going hand over hand, until I reached the very top floor.

It was still quiet, despite the evidence that a brutal fight had raged here not long ago. Streams of bullet holes dotted the floor and walls, punched through plaster and the remaining windows, shattering them. Dried blood was smeared everywhere, on the floor, laced across the walls; there was even a spatter of it on the ceiling, evidence that the two vampires who’d fought their way to get to me had left carnage in their wake. I swallowed hard, gripping Kanin’s dagger beneath my coat. Both of them had sacrificed so much to get me out.

The least I could do was destroy the evil that Sarren had left behind.

The door to the lab stood open, creaking on its hinges. No guards stood before it, no raiders, no Zeke smiling his awful smile. But sticking out of the wooden frame, glimmering in the dim light through the shattered windows, was a familiar sword.

My sword.

Warily, I edged forward, barely stopping myself from reaching out and snatching the blade from the wall. I couldn’t smell any humans nearby, and there was nothing on the ground or the sword itself to indicate a trap. Nothing seemed unusual or out of place, except a small scrap of paper, folded over and shoved halfway down the blade itself.

Carefully, ready to leap back if needed, I reached up, grabbed the hilt of my weapon, and pulled it from the frame.

It slid out easily, and I stepped back, waiting. When nothing happened, I glanced down, tore the slip of paper from the blade, and flipped it open.

I’m at the Pit, the note read, making my insides go cold.

Face me.

The paper fluttered from my hand and blew away down the hall as I closed my eyes, gripping the sword tightly with my other hand. All right, Zeke, I thought, swallowing the lump in my throat. Opening my eyes, I gazed out the broken windows to where a smaller, blackened building sat several blocks away on the corner. Of course, he would be there, just as Kanin had said. A place that was significant to us both. You’ve made your point. Let’s end this.

I didn’t swim below the city this time. I didn’t bother to hide my presence. Zeke knew I was coming; he was expecting me. I walked down the ramp and across the bridges, striding in plain sight toward the Pit, my sword strapped to my back and my face set into a blank, don’t f**k with me mask.

No one did. Humans took one look at me and quickly backed off, cringed away, or fled my presence entirely. Perhaps Zeke had told them I was coming. Perhaps the rest of the army was away, searching for Kanin and Jackal. No one stepped up to challenge me as I made my way over the rickety bridges and catwalks, ignoring the men and women who watched from the shadows, reeking of fear. That, and the scent of warm blood, stirred the Hunger, urging me to attack, to paint the platforms in red, to drench myself in it before I faced my enemy. I firmly shoved it down. I was here for one person, though if someone did try to interfere, they wouldn’t live long enough to regret it.


Tags: Julie Kagawa Blood of Eden Book Series
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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