The moaning succubae mating with abandon and the bloody clashes only increased Malkom's madness.

At the sound of a deep bellow, he swung his head back toward the vampire's cell. Directly outside, that dead female stood, commanding her Wendigos to launch themselves at Lothaire. Her grisly face was creased into a smile.

The Enemy of Old was somehow defending himself, tossing the rabid creatures out of his cell again and again. But Lothaire fought a losing battle. "Slaine?" he bit out. "A hand here."

The female swung her head at Malkom, her sole eye riveted to his face. "RIIIIINNNNNNGGGGG?"

Malkom shook his head slowly, then turned toward the witch's cell, calling over his shoulder, "Where's your allegiance now, vampire?"

Chapter 31

"You wanna tell me about Thronos?" Carrow murmured as she carried Ruby and led Lanthe toward Chase's office. "Since we're all on the lam from him?"

"He's broken because of me," Lanthe said "uietly. "I 'persuaded' him to dive from a great height. And not to use his wings."

Beauty. "The guys - in fact, everyone here - they do love us, huh?"

Lanthe nodded. "I'm up for Congeniality."

As they approached the end of their corridor, more Wendigos crept through the intersecting hall. Ravenous for blood, bone, and flesh. Their red eyes gleamed in the semi-dark, their wiry bodies hunched, their gaits uneven.


Lanthe and Carrow pressed themselves against the wall, Carrow tucking Ruby's face against her shoulder.

As the creatures scented the air, Carrow's heart raced. We can't outrun them. A second passed ... then another ... One took a step in their direction -

Screams carried from another corridor, and the Wendigos loped off toward the sound.

Too close. And they wouldn't be so lucky next time. On that thought, Carrow sped in the opposite direction down the next ward, the one filled with offices and labs. The butchery here was even worse than in their own. Dead humans lay everywhere.

The three stole through a gauntlet of fights, sex, and ... feeding. Rocks still rose, buckling the floor. The entire area was unstable.

At last, they reached the office unscathed. The door had been broken open and now hung askew on its hinges. Ignoring her dis"uiet, Carrow cautiously eased inside. Empty.

Through the window, she saw another turbulent night much like the one Chase had watched there two weeks earlier.

Across the office, the panel door was already halfway open. They slipped inside.

The area looked like a storage room with stacked crates and metal shelving lining the walls. The ceiling had begun caving, with some rafters collapsed, their ends stabbing the floor. Immediately, they heard a man's weeping coming from the back.

They descended a small flight of stairs, then followed the sound to find Fegley trapped, his nearly severed right arm caught beneath one of those colossal rafters. A machine gun lay mere inches beyond his other hand's reach.

"So close, yet so far away." I couldn't have tortured him better myself. Well, she could. But this would do. She toed the muzzle with her boot. "Aw, it doesn't seem to want to come to Daddy," Carrow said, repeating his line. When she kicked the gun away, he cried harder.

From behind them, Lanthe breathed, "Look at this place. These are all our effects."

They were surrounded by the weapons and personal belongings of the prisoners - Invidia whips and antler headdresses, the leather saddlebags of the centaurs, weapons of all kinds.

Though many of the shelves were in disarray, as if someone - or something - had already ransacked the goods, Lanthe was able to find her own things. "My gloves! My beautiful mask." She hastily donned her claw-tipped gloves and cobalt-blue mask.

When smoke began to waft in from gaps in the damaged ceiling, Carrow said, "The fires are getting closer." She could smell the sickening scent of burning flesh. "Let's hurry."

Lanthe hastened over to Fegley. She knelt to yank on his trapped hand, while dodging pitiful slaps from his other. "Even if we bend down, his thumb won't reach our collars, and his left one won't work."

"Heh. That so?" Carrow asked. "If we can't go to the thumb, then the thumb will come to us." She began searching for a blade. "Hell, make it his hand."

Fegley strained his body. "No, don't!"

"Hey, you invited us to the party, mortal," Lanthe said, catching the knife Carrow tossed to her. "Looks like you tussled with the wrong creatures. You had to know you couldn't contain us."

"W-we have for centuries. This is Chase's fault! The ring - he wasn't supposed to t-touch it!"

Carrow frowned. "La Dorada's ring?"

Fegley's eyes looked blank, as if he were confused about where he was. "If it hadn't been touched ... He's d-doomed us all."

"You are doomed, human," Lanthe said in a contemplative tone. "We're merely going to slice off your hand, but those Wendigos out there will crack open your leg bones and suck out the marrow while you watch." When Lanthe made a Dr. Lecter sucking sound, Fegley whimpered.

Carrow took that as her cue to get Ruby away, saying over her shoulder, "Make it good, Lanthe." Since I can't.

Lanthe nodded, knowing what Carrow was giving up.

Ruby said, "We're leaving? I wanna see him get cut up."

Oh, boy. "I do too, honey! But we have to be lookouts." As Carrow wended her way out of the room, she could hear Lanthe saying, "The Libitinae will make you slice open and empty out your own testicles. And if the Invidia find you? You'll live long enough to see one of them wearing your skin. ..."

Just as Carrow reached the office's outer door, Fegley began screaming.

Carrow peeked out. At the far end of the corridor, she caught a glimpse of Malkom, limping through the bloodbath, looking mindless. Though his body had been battered, he was facing off with any beings in his way.

He reminded her of the night she'd first seen him, when he'd attacked all those demons. But now she could witness him dealing that carnage.

That night he'd hurt her unintentionally. Now he wanted to.

Wait ... Malkom's collar was gone? She stumbled back into the room, sinking against the wall. Ah, gods. Empowered evil?

No. She refused to believe he was evil. Still, she realized any farfetched hope of communicating with him this night had vanished.

Had she given up on him? Of course not. But for right now, she had to focus on getting Ruby out of a collapsing building and a war zone.

"Witch, I need some help with this zipper," Lanthe called.

Carrow jogged back to her. "We have to hurry."

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