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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(124) by Chloe Neill
  • Novitiates around me wept softly as images of the city filled the screen.

    Concrete, steel, and glass replaced the snow that had covered downtown Chicago, toppled from buildings. Towers of smoke rose from a dozen fires through downtown. The Navy Pier Ferris wheel had fallen—or been thrown—into the soaring glass of the Shakespeare Theater. An exterior section of the Hancock tower had been gouged away, a tangle of steel and wires hanging from the scar that remained. The top of the Wrigley building had been sheared away, and the lions in front of the Art Institute had been tumbled into the street like broken toys.

    The battle had wreaked destruction through the city.

    And still the dragon flew.

    The dragon had been injured, so blood smeared its body and the trail it left throughout Chicago. But that hadn’t stopped it. Its wings remained intact, which was enough to keep it airborne. The dragon had roosted on Towerline roof. Since it hadn’t gone any deeper into the city, Mallory speculated the creature was tied to the building—and its magical origin point.

    The dragon—the Egregore—had gotten the worst of Chicago, its anger and fear and hopelessness. But it had also gotten some of its perseverance.

    Ethan offered to provide transportation for any vampires who wished to leave Chicago. None of them did. Leaving would have felt like giving up. Not that staying was any easier.

    Watching our home be destroyed by a monster we didn’t know how to kill, a monster that seemed impervious to human weapons, was miserable. Ethan tried to give us hope, bolster our courage, but watching one image of destruction after another filling the screens drained away hope, left grief and numbness behind.

    I wasn’t sure Chicago would survive this.

    I wasn’t sure any of us would.

    “Do you think they’ll figure out this isn’t working before or after Navy Pier’s in the water?” Catcher asked.

    The coverage split-screened to a news studio.

    “Sorcha Reed has been neutralized, and the National Guard is working to lead the creature out of the city,” the mayor said, “and is very optimistic about their progress to date. In the meantime, the vampires remain in their Houses and are not involved in current containment efforts.”

    “Public Enemy Number One ate Public Enemy Number Two,” Luc corrected. “Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that means the mayor neutralized jack shit.”

    Pundits tended to agree with him. They blasted the mayor for failing to keep the city safe—and causing more destruction in the city’s efforts to kill the dragon—and us for contributing to the chaos.

    “I’m not saying this was the vampires’ fault,” said one woman with big hair and a pinched face. “But these are the dangers of living in integrated communities—that humans will be dragged into their internal struggles. Into their violence.”

    Angry magic roiling off him in waves, Ethan looked back at Luc. “Schedule a press conference. It’s time we did some talking of our own.”



    We waited until a couple of hours before dawn, hoping that even if the National Guard didn’t scare off the dragon, it would take its leave during the day like it had before.

    This time, our hope wasn’t futile. Its movements had begun to slow, each flap of its wings seeming heavier than the last. After a final flight over the Chicago Lighthouse, the dragon disappeared in the direction of the sunrise. But the mayor didn’t remove the soldiers outside Cadogan House.

    It was late for us and early for humans, but it didn’t matter. The first press conference held by Navarre House more than a year ago had pulled them in. And now, this first time he’d agreed to hold a press conference, the city would finally hear from Ethan Sullivan.

    Representatives of magazines, Web sites, radio and television stations, and newspapers—including our shifter friend Nick Breckenridge, who wrote for the Tribune—weren’t going to miss this. They gathered on the Cadogan House lawn. Ethan stood on the front steps in his suit, strong and powerful, his attitude completely different from the supernatural eroticism Celina Desaulniers had worked to project at her press conference.

    Ethan didn’t need to work at it. His power was nearly tangible, his confidence unwavering. He’d played the political game in the interest of peace. Now he would fight back.

    He wore a trim, black suit, button-down, and tie in the deepest crimson. Malik, Luc, and I stood in suits behind him, swords belted at our sides. We were the representatives of Cadogan House. And tonight, we would have our say.

    “Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, and a hush fell over the crowd so quickly he might have used magic to make it happen. But that wasn’t necessary. The crowd was rapt.

    “My name is Ethan Sullivan, and this is my House. Last night, Sorcha Reed used magic to manifest the creature that has been terrorizing the city. Due to, we believe, a complicated sequence of magic initiated by Sorcha with the financial and political assistance of her human husband, Adrien Reed, she was able to make physical a distillation of magical energy. That energy caused the delusions which affected Chicagoans; the freeze was caused by her gathering of magic as she worked to condense that energy into the dragon that has attacked downtown Chicago.”

    Probably surprised to get answers to the magical questions that plagued the city, the reporters began shouting questions at Ethan.

    Utterly unperturbed, he ignored them.

    The three of us all bit back smiles. This was our imperious Master at his political best.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire