Home > The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)(7)

The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)(7)
Author: J.R. Ward

Hissing, he bared his fangs. “I shall let you live such that you may raise this monstrosity and be seen with it. That is your curse for cursing me—he shall e’er be upon your neck, an amulet of damnation, and if I find out that thing has died, I will hunt you down and slaughter you by inches. Then I will kill that sister of yours, all of her progeny, and your parents.”

“What say you!”

Hharm leaned down, the pounding flush in his face and head one that was familiar. “You heard my word. You know my will. Challenge me at your peril.”

As she cowered back, he stepped away and regarded the mess of the birth, the pathetic female, that horrid result—and he slashed his hand through the air, wiping them out of his timeline. As the blizzard howled, and the fire died down, he went for his coat of pelts.

“You ruined my son,” he said as he swung the heavy weight of furs o’er his shoulders. “Your punishment is to raise that horror as a proclamation of your failure.”

“You are not the King,” she countered weakly. “To order aught.”

“ ’Tis a social service unto my fellow males.” He jabbed a finger in the direction of the wailing newborn. “With that on your hip, no one else will lay upon you and suffer similarly.”

“You cannot force me thus!”

“Oh, but I can and I shall.”

She was a spoiled, defiant female by nature, and that was what had first attracted him unto her—he had had to teach her the errors of her ways and the instruction had been quite intriguing for a time. Indeed, there had been but one instance when she had attempted to exercise dominance over him. Once, and never again.

“Do not test me, female. You did a’fore and recall the end result.”

As she paled, he nodded down at her. “Yes. That.”

He had nearly killed her the night he had had to show her that whereas he would be with whomever he wished, whenever and wherever, she would ne’er be permitted to lay with another male whilst she was even tangentially associated with him. It had been shortly thereafter that she had decided her only chance at reining him in would be in providing him with the son he sought, and at the same time, he had begun to think in terms of his legacy.

Alas, she had failed in her endeavor.

“I hate you,” she groaned.

Hharm smiled. “The feeling is mutual. And again, I say that you best ensure that thing lives. If I find out you killed him, I shall take his death from your flesh and that of your entire bloodline.”

With that, he spat twice on the ground at her feet, once for her and once for the young. And then he strode away as she called for him and the forsaken young wailed in the cold.

Outside, the blizzard raged on, swirls of snow blinding him only to relent like a flock of birds scattering to reveal the landscape. In the valley down below, mountains rose off the shores of a lake basin, the snowdrifts upon the frozen water as waves would be in the warmer months. All was dark, and frigid, and lifeless, but he refused to find portent in what he beheld.

With his dagger hand itching, and his hostility upon its inner charging steed, he told himself to take no mind of this outcome.

He would find another womb.

Somewhere, there was a female who would give him the legacy he deserved and required. And he would find her and have her swell with his seed.

There would be a proper son for him. He would have it no other way.


As Tohr approached the mouth of the Brotherhood’s sacred cave, he snuck into the damp interior, and once inside, the smell of dirt and a distant source of flame irritated his sinuses. His eyes adjusted immediately, and when he continued on, he quieted the falls of his shitkickers. He didn’t want to be heard, even though his presence was going to be apparent readily enough.

The gates were far in, and made of old iron bars thick as a warrior’s forearm and tall as trees, a steel mesh soldered on to them to prevent dematerialization. Torches hissed and flickered on either side, and beyond, he could see the beginnings of the great corridor that led even further into the earth.

Stopping at the enormous barrier, he took out a copper key, and felt no remorse that he’d stolen the thing from the drawer of Wrath’s ornate desk. He’d apologize for the theft later.

And also for what he was going to do next.

Unlocking the mechanism, he pulled the colossal weight open, stepped in, and relocked things behind himself. Walking forward, he followed the natural pathway that had been expanded with chisel and brute muscle, and then set wtih wooden shelves. On the various planks, hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of jars provided a playground for shadows and light.

The vessels were of all different shapes and sizes, and came from different eras from the ancient to the modern, but what was inside each one was the same: the heart of a lesser. Since the inception of the war with the Lessening Society, way back in the Old Country, the Brotherhood had been marking their enemy kills by claiming the jars of their victims and bringing them here to add to the collection.

Part trophy, part fuck-you to the Omega, it was legacy. It was pride. It was expectation.

And perhaps it was no more. Slayers were so few and far between in the streets of Caldwell and elsewhere now that they had to be closing in on the end.

Tohr did not feel any joy in the accomplishment. But that was probably due to tonight’s terrible anniversary.

It was hard to feel anything but the loss of his Wellsie on what would have been her birthday.

Rounding a subtle curve, he stopped. Up ahead, the scene was like something out of a movie that couldn’t decide whether it was Indiana Jones, Grey’s Anatomy, or The Matrix. In the midst of all the old stone walls, and raw-flamed torches, and mismatched, dusty jars, a thicket of beeping and blinking medical equipment was running interference with a body on a gurney. And beside the prisoner? Two massive male vampires covered from head to toe in black leather and black weapons.

Butch and V were the Frick and Frack of the Brotherhood, the former human homicide cop and the son of the race’s Creator, the good Catholic boy and the sexual deviant, the wardrobe addict and the tech tsar, united by a common devotion to the Boston Red Sox and a mutual respect and affection that knew no limit.

V tweaked to Tohr’s presence first, the brother wheeling around so fast, ashes flew off the lit end of his hand-rolled. “Oh, hell no, no fucking way! You’re out of here!”

That opinion, regardless of its volume, was easy to ignore as Tohr focused on the slab of meat on the gurney. Xcor was lying there, tubes going in and out of him like he was a car engine about to be jumped, his breathing regular—wait, not regular.

V stepped to Tohr, going close-up and then some. And what do you know, the brother had taken out his poodle shooter—and the muzzle of the forty was pointed directly into Tohr’s face.

“I mean it, my brother.”

Tohr looked over that heavy shoulder at their prisoner. And found himself smiling grimly. “He’s awake.”

“No, he’s not—”

“His breathing just changed.” Tohr pointed to that bare chest. “Look.”

Butch frowned and went across to the captive. “Well, well, well … wakey-wakey, motherfucker.”

V twisted around. “Sonofabitch.”

But that gun didn’t move, and neither did Tohr. As much as he wanted at Xcor, he was going to deep-throat a bullet if he took one step further: V was the least sentimental of the brothers and about as patient as a rattlesnake.

At that moment, Xcor’s eyes blinked open. In the flickering light of the torches, they looked black, but Tohr remembered they were some kind of blue. Not that he cared.

V put his face in the way, those diamond eyes like daggers. “This is not going to be the birthday present you give your dead shellan.”

Tohr peeled his lip off his fangs. “Fuck you.”

“Not going to happen. Call me all the shit you want, but no. You know how things are going to go down and you are not at bat yet.”

Butch grinned at their captive. “We’ve been waiting for you to join the party. Can I get you a drink? Maybe some mixed nuts before we put you in the upright position and take off? No reason to show you the fucking exit. You ain’t gotta worry about that.”

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