Home > The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(5)

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(5)
Julie Kagawa

The road widened even more, became a highway, stubbornly pushing back the choking forest. More vehicles appeared, turning the road into a maze of rusted metal and glass, though only on the side of the highway leaving the city. I kept to the other, empty lane, passing the endless stream of dead, smashed cars, trying not to look inside, though sometimes it was impossible not to see. A skeleton lay against the steering wheel of a crumpled car, half-buried in the snow that drifted through the broken windshield. Another dangled beneath a charred, overturned truck. Thousands of people, trying to leave the city all at once. Had they been fleeing the plague, or the madness that came soon after?

The road wound through the sprawling city streets, piled high with snow and coated with a thick layer of ice. I left the car-choked main road and entered the empty side streets, finding it easier to navigate the smaller paths.

After crossing a windy bridge over a sullen gray river, I stumbled upon a huge marble building, relatively clear of vegetation and strangely undisturbed. Curious, and because it was in the same direction of the pull I'd been following, I headed toward it then made my way along the outer wall. Half the roof had fallen in, and a couple of the enormous pillars surrounding it were crushed and broken. An entire corner had crumbled away, and rubble was strewn across the floor. I ducked inside, gazing around cautiously.

The room, for its enormous size, was quite empty. Nothing lived here, it seemed, except the single owl that swooped out from the high, vaulted ceiling when I came in. Marble pillars lined the room, and I could make out words carved into the walls on both sides, though they were too cracked and eroded to read.

Against the back wall, looming up to an impossible height, was a statue. An enormous statue of a man sitting on a marble chair, his wrists resting against the arms. One of his hands was missing, and there were many small cracks in his stony features, but he was surprisingly undamaged. The marble chair had been streaked with paint, scrawled with ugly words that continued up the wall, and one corner of the statue was blackened, as if burned. But the man in the chair was still noble looking despite the damage. His great, craggy face peered down, looking right at me, and it was eerie, standing there beneath the stone gaze of a giant. As I backed toward the exit, the hollow eyes appeared to follow me out. Still, I thought it was a kind face, one that didn't belong in this time. I wondered who he had been, to be immortalized in such a way. There were so many things about the time Before that I didn't know; huge statues and marble buildings that seemed to serve no purpose. All very strange.

Outside, I paused to get my bearings. Straight ahead, a rectangle of cracked cement stretched away from the bottom of the steps. Leaves and branches were frozen beneath a layer of ice filling the shallow pool, and the rusty hulk of a car lay on its side at the edge.

And then, I saw the strangest sight yet. Beyond the steps, directly in front of me, a huge white tower rose into the night. It was ridiculously thin and pointed, a pale needle scraping the clouds, looking as if a strong breeze could blow it over.

And that faint pull was drawing me right toward it. I hurried down the steps and skirted the edges of the pool, my boots squelching in mud, weeds and slush. Past the cement, the land dissolved into swampy marshland filled with brush, reeds and puddles of icy water. As I drew closer and the tower loomed overhead, I realized that the tug, the pull I'd been tracking for months, was stronger than it had ever been. Though it wasn't coming from the tower itself; rather, from another large white building, barely visible over a canopy of trees beyond.

Resolved that my prey was so close, I stalked forward, pushing through weeds and brush.

And stopped.

Several hundred yards from the tower, past a crumbling street lined with rusty cars and across another swampy lawn, a bristling fence rose out of the ground to scar the horizon. About twelve feet tall, made of black iron bars topped with coils of barbed wire, it was a familiar sight. I'd seen many walls in my travels across the country-concrete and wood, steel and stone. They were everywhere, surrounding every settlement, from tiny farms to entire cities. They all had one purpose, and that purpose was right in front of me, preventing any further advances tonight.

A huge swarm of spindly, emaciated creatures crowded the fence line, hissing and snarling, baring jagged fangs. They moved with a jerky, spastic gait, sometimes on all fours, hunched over and unnatural. Their clothes-the few that had them anyway-were in tatters, their hair tangled and matted. Chalky skin was stretched tightly over bones, and the eyes in the gaunt, bony faces reflected the soullessness behind them. A blank, dead wall of white.

Rabids. I growled softly and eased back into the shadow of a tree. They hadn't seen me yet. As I huddled behind the trunk, watching the shambling horde, I noticed a weird thing. The rabids didn't rush the fence or try to scramble over it, though they could have easily clawed their way to the top if they tried. Instead, they skulked around the edge, always a few feet away, never touching the iron bars.

Even more curious now, I peered past the rabid horde through the fence and clenched my fists so hard the nails dug into my palms.

Looming above the gates, beyond the iron barrier, a squat white building crouched in the weeds. The entrance to the place was circular, lined with columns, and I could make out flickering lights through the windows.

And I knew.

He's in there. If I had a heartbeat, it would be thudding loudly now. I was so close. But who would it be? Who would I run into, once I finally caught up? Would I meet my sire, and would he be surprised to see me? Would he be angry that I'd tracked him down? Or would I run into a dangerous, terrifyingly insane vampire all too eager to torture me to death?

Guess I'll find out soon enough.

The breeze shifted, and the awful, dead stench of the rabids hit me full force, making me wrinkle my nose. They weren't going to let me saunter up and knock on what was probably the local vampire Prince's door. And I couldn't fight the whole huge swarm. A few of the savage creatures I could deal with, but taking on this many ventured very close to suicide. Once was enough, thanks. I'd dealt with a massive horde like this one outside the gates of Eden, and survived only because there had been a large lake nearby, and rabids were afraid of deep water. Vampire or not, even I could be dragged under and torn apart by sheer numbers.

Frowning, I pondered my plan of attack. I needed to get past the rabids without being seen. The fence was only twelve feet tall; maybe I could vault over it?

One of the rabids snarled and shoved another that had jostled it, sending it stumbling toward the fence. Hissing, the other rabid put out a hand to catch itself, grabbing on to the iron bars.

There was a blinding flash and an explosion of sparks, and the rabid shrieked, convulsing on the metal. Its body jerked and spasmed, sending the other rabids skittering back. Finally, the smoke pouring off its blackened skin erupted into flame and consumed the monster from the inside.

Okay, definitely not touching the fence.

I growled. Dawn wasn't far, and soon I would have to fall back to find shelter from the sun. Which meant abandoning any plans to get past the gate until tomorrow night. I was so close! It irked me that I was mere yards from my target and the only thing keeping me from my goal was a rabid horde and a length of electrified metal.

Wait. Dawn was approaching. Which meant that the rabids would have to sleep soon. They couldn't face the light any better than a vampire; they would have to burrow into the ground to escape the burning rays of the sun.

Hot Novels
  • Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Chris
  • Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Never Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #2)
  • Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculi
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • Fallen Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #1)
  • Forever Too Far (Too Far Trilogy #3)
  • Ugly Love
  • Allegiant (Divergent #3)
  • Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
  • The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coinc
  • Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
  • Uprooted