Home > The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(9)

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(9)
Julie Kagawa

I shot Jackal one last glare and followed the human, trailing him down several long hallways and flights of stairs, my mind reeling. I had fully expected to find Sarren or my sire tonight; that it was Jackal threw a wrench in all my plans. I wasn't sure what to do next.

The human made his way unerringly through the massive house, until we came to a long hallway of doors. After pointing out the one to my room, the man bowed hurriedly and left, leaving me alone in the corridor. Still wary, I opened the door, revealing a small but lavishly furnished room. The bed, dresser, nightstand and table were old but meticulously cared for, polished to a dark shine and smelling faintly of chemicals. A pitcher and glass sat on the nightstand beside the bed, and the scent of warm blood roused my Hunger with a vengeance. I didn't trust Jackal at all, but it wouldn't hurt to take advantage of the Prince's hospitality, especially since it came in a cup and not the veins of a human.

I drained the pitcher, feeling the blood settle in my empty stomach and the sharp ache vanish for now. As my Hunger subsided, sleep took its place, dragging at my mind, weighing me down. After locking my door, I dragged the bulky dresser from its place against the wall and shoved it up against the frame. Maybe I was being paranoid, but I was not going to sleep in a strange house with two vampires, one of whom was Jackal, without some kind of precaution.

Satisfied that I'd at least have warning if someone came bursting through my door, I crawled atop the cool red sheets, not bothering to take off my coat or boots, and pondered what Jackal had said for as long as I could before succumbing to the darkness.

I woke the next evening with my sword in hand, having unsheathed and readied it as sleep finally dragged me under. Unfamiliar walls and furniture stared back at me as I rose, pausing a moment to remember where I was. A glance at the door revealed that it was still locked and barricaded, untouched. The pitcher sat empty on the end table, so no one had disturbed me while I slept-no servant, anyway.

As I sheathed my weapon, the previous night's conversation came back to me, making me frown. Jackal was here. My ruthless, murdering blood brother. I should leave. Better yet, I should kill him. We had a clear night sky and an empty lawn perfect for it. He'd kicked my ass the last time we'd fought, nearly killed me, but I was stronger now. If it came down to blows, this time I'd give him a hell of a fight.

But, if he was telling the truth, if the cure to Rabidism lay somewhere beneath our feet, no cost would be too high to find it. Much as I hated to admit it, Jackal was right. Charging in blind after Kanin wouldn't help him; I needed a plan if I was going to face Sarren. The help of another strong vampire was too great an opportunity to pass up.

Still, the thought of working with Jackal made my blood boil. I hadn't forgotten what he'd done to our group. He was cruel and vicious, and saw humans only as food or the means to an end. He killed without a second thought. He'd killed people I knew, people I considered friends.

Zeke would never consider letting him live.

I was still trying to decide what to do when a servant knocked timidly on the door, informing me that Master Azura and Master Jackal were waiting for me in the living room and to follow him please. After returning the dresser to its proper place, I followed the well-dressed human down the many hallways and up a flight of stairs before he paused outside a doorway and motioned me inside.

Azura and Jackal were there, of course, Azura sitting on a sofa with her long legs crossed, a wineglass of blood dangling between her fingers. Jackal slouched against the fireplace mantel, despite the flames flickering in the hearth, and the light cast his features in an eerie red glow. How he could stand being so close to the flames was baffling; I would never consider tempting fate like that. But then Jackal shot me a grin, smug and challenging, and I realized he was playing me. He knew the effect it would have on a vampire and was making sure I knew that he was not afraid.

"Oh, hey, the queen finally makes her appearance." Jackal raised his glass in a mocking salute before tossing the whole thing back in one swig. Azura gave him a disdainful look and sipped her drink. "So, little sister, are you ready to get this project underway?"

"I still haven't agreed to help you," I said, making Jackal sigh with impatience. "Why is that so surprising? As if I would agree to work with the guy who slaughtered my friends, who will probably stick a knife in my back as soon as I turn around."

"Don't think of it as helping me," Jackal said in a reasonable voice. He didn't, I noticed, deny either accusation. "Think of it as helping Kanin. I, at least, will take any advantage I can get if I'm going to be facing Sarren."

I turned to Azura. "What do you think of all this?"

"Me?" Azura raised a thin eyebrow. "I don't care one way or the other. I'm just here to make sure you two don't turn my house inside out."

"Come on, sister," Jackal implored. "Let's not have a repeat of last night. You know this is the best way to help Kanin. And, admit it, you're just as curious as I am."

I glared at him. "Let's say I do agree to this, for now." His smirk grew wider, and I ignored it. "You said Sarren was searching for the lab, as well. Where do you think it could be?"

Azura uncrossed her legs and leaned forward, setting her glass on the low table in front of the couch. "I had my people track down some old maps of the city and its subway systems," she said, smoothing a large sheet of paper over the wood. "They don't tell us exactly where to find a supersecret government lab, but I have a few good guesses."

Jackal remained where he was, but I crossed the room to the other side of the table, looking down at the paper on the surface. I'd never seen a map before and had no idea how to read one; it was a tangle of lines and scribbles that merged together into a chaotic mess. But Azura placed one dark red fingernail on a random line, tracing it across the page.

"The rabids," she began in her throaty voice, "keep to the subway tunnels in the daytime. At night, they emerge to hunt and stalk for prey, but usually return to the underground stations at dawn. Except for those few that cannot seem to leave my fence alone, at least. No one in this city ventures down into the tunnels, for any reason, at any time. It is not known exactly how many rabids are down there, but there are likely thousands of them. And this," she added, circling a place on the map with her finger, "is where we think the main nest is located." Withdrawing her hand, she glanced up at me. "That's where you're going to want to look for the lab."

"Why is that?"

"If this laboratory unleashed the rabid virus, it would have spread quickly. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people would have been infected around that area. There would be a very high rabid population starting from that point and spreading outward."

"Wait a second." I frowned, thinking back to what Kanin had told me. "I thought the laboratory in New Covington was responsible for creating the rabids-they escaped, and that's how the rabid plague started."

"Is that what Kanin said?" Jackal snorted. "That's part of the story, but not the whole of it." He pushed himself off the wall and sauntered to an end table, grabbing a pitcher halffull of red and refilling his glass. Sitting comfortably in one of the armchairs, he took a large swallow from the glass and smiled at me.

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