Home > The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(4)

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(4)
Julie Kagawa

Of course, you still had to worry about starving to death.

Back when I was human, I'd struggled with hunger every day. My life had revolved around finding food and little else. There had been four of us in my small gang-me, Lucas, Rat and Stick. We had all been Unregistered; street rats, beggars and thieves, living together in an abandoned school and barely scraping by. Until one stormy night when we'd ventured beyond the Outer Wall to find food...and became the hunted ourselves. It had been stupid to step outside the protection of New Covington, but I'd insisted, and my stubbornness had cost us everything. Lucas and Rat had been killed, and I'd been pulled down and torn apart by a pack of rabids. My life should've ended that night in the rain.

In a way, I guess it had. I'd died that night in Kanin's arms. And now that I was a monster, I could never go back to the life I'd known. I'd tried, once, to contact a friend from my old life, the boy named Stick whom I'd looked after for years. But Stick, seeing what I'd become, had screamed and fled from me in terror, confirming what Kanin had always told me. There was no going back. Not to New Covington, not to my old life, not to anything that was human. Kanin had been right all along. He was always right.

I thought of him often, of the nights we'd spent in the secret lab beneath the vampire city where I was born. His lessons, teaching me what it meant to be a vampire, how to hunt and fight and kill. The humans I'd preyed on, their screams, the warm blood in my mouth, intoxicating and terrible. And Kanin himself, who'd taught me, in no uncertain terms, what I was-a vampire and a demon-but also that my path was my own; that I had a choice.

You are a monster. His voice was always so clear in my head, as if he was standing right next to me, his dark eyes boring into my skull. You will always be a monster-there is no turning back from it. But what kind of monster you become is entirely up to you. That was the lesson I clung to most, the one I swore I'd never forget.

But Kanin had another rule as well, one I hadn't remembered so clearly as the first. The one about humans, and becoming attached...

And just like that, my traitor mind shifted to a lean figure with jagged blond hair and solemn blue eyes. I remembered his smile, that lopsided grin meant only for me. I remembered his touch, the heat that radiated from him when we were close. His fingers sliding over my skin, the warmth of his lips on mine...

I shook my head. Ezekiel Crosse was human. I was a vampire. No matter what I felt, no matter how strong my feelings, I could never separate the urge to kiss Zeke from the desire to sink my fangs into his throat. That was another reason I'd left Eden without saying goodbye, without letting anyone know where I was going. I couldn't be near Zeke without putting his life in danger. Eventually, I would kill him.

It was better to be alone. Vampires were predators; the Hunger was always with us, the craving for human blood that could take over at any time. Lose yourself to the Hunger, and the people around you died. It had been a hard lesson for me to learn, and one that I did not ever want to repeat. It was always there-that fear that I would slip, that the Hunger would take over again and when I came back to myself I would have killed someone I knew. Even the men I preyed on-bandits, raiders, marauders, murderers-they were all still human. They were living beings, and I killed them to feed myself. To keep myself from attacking others. I could choose what kind of people I preyed on, but in the end, I had to prey on someone. The lesser of the two evils was still evil.

Zeke was too good to be dragged down by that darkness.

Deliberately, I forced my thoughts away from Zeke before they grew too painful. To keep myself distracted, I concentrated on the pull, the strange tug that I still didn't understand, even now. Awake, I barely felt it; only in sleep could I sense Kanin's thoughts, see through his eyes. Or, at least, I could before that last vision, when Sarren had driven a wooden stake into Kanin's chest, sending him into hibernation.

I couldn't feel Kanin's experiences anymore. But when I concentrated, I did know which direction would lead me to my sire. I did that now, emptying my mind of all other thoughts, and searched for Kanin.

The pull was still there, a faint pulse to the east, but... something was wrong. Not dangerous or threatening, but there was an odd sensation in my gut, that nagging feeling you get when you know you've forgotten something and you just can't remember what. Dawn was still hours away; I wasn't in danger of being caught outside in the light. There was nothing I could have left behind except my sword, and that was strapped firmly across my back. Why, then, did I feel so uneasy?

A few minutes later, it hit me.

The pull I was following, that strange but unerring sense of knowing, was slowly splitting off, moving in different directions. I stopped in the middle of the road, wondering if I was mistaken. I wasn't. There was still a strong pull to the east, but also a fainter one, now, to the north.

I frowned. Two directions. What could it mean? And where was I supposed to go, now? The feeling to the east was stronger; I just barely felt the compulsion to the north, but it was definitely there. Impossible as it seemed, I had come to a crossroad. And I had no idea where to go.

Did Kanin free himself, somehow? Is he fleeing north, and I'm tracking Sarren down alone? It doesn't seem likely that Sarren would be the one to run. Upon reflection, my frown deepened, the sense of worry and unease growing stronger. Is it Sarren? Would I even feel anything from him? We're not blood kin, we're not related in any way that I know of. What's going on here?

Utterly bewildered, I stood in the center of the road trying to decide what to do, which direction to follow. I was still new to this vampire-blood-tie thing and had no idea why there would be two pulls instead of one. Had Sarren fed from Kanin, perhaps? Was it possible that Sarren was related to me and my sire in some distant past, centuries ago?

It was a mystery, and one I had no way to solve. In the end, I continued east. Indecision and doubt still nagged at me as the other sense of knowing continued to pull away, but I couldn't be in two places at once; I had to pick a direction and keep going. So I chose the stronger of the two urges, and if it led me right to a pissed-off, psychotic vampire eager to peel the skin from my bones, then I would just have to deal with that bump when I got there.

When I woke the next evening, the second pull had shifted completely to the west. I ignored it and my doubts and continued eastward. For two more nights, I walked through unending forest and rotted towns, my only company the road and the occasional flash of wildlife in the darkness. Deer were abundant out here, as were raccoons, opossums and the odd mountain lion stalking its prey through the trees and broken houses. They didn't bother me, except to give me the evil eye, and I left them alone, as well. I wasn't Hungry, and animal blood, as I'd learned the hard way, did nothing to satisfy the monster within.

The snow and heavy woodlands continued, the road I traveled strangled on either side with vegetation that split the pavement and pushed its way up through the cracks. Eventually, though, the road widened, and dead cars began to appear, rusty hulks of metal beneath the snow, growing more numerous as I traveled. I was approaching a city, and my instincts prickled a warning. Most empty towns and suburbs were just that, broken and deserted, with crumbling houses lining silent, overgrown streets. But the cities, once a place of thousands of humans living side by side, were overrun with a different species now.

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