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A Dawn of Strength(A Shade of Vampire,Book 14)(13) by Bella Forrest

“What?” I asked.

“A submarine is coming our way.”

Excitement and apprehension coursed through me at once.

Ben! Could he have decided to return?

Standing as close to the edge of the jetty as I could without falling off, I strained to see what Caleb was looking at. Only once the vessel came within twenty feet of us did I finally spot its shadow beneath the water.

I held my breath as the black submarine surfaced and, a few minutes later, the hatch opened. A dark-haired head emerged, and I was about to scream out my brother’s name, but as the head raised fully, I gasped.

“Uncle?”

Chapter 7: Micah

I remained hiding among the rocks at the base of the castle long after my wolf form had disappeared. Without my thick coat, I was shivering in the snow, but I just couldn’t bring myself to return to the boat. Not after hearing Rhys mention leaving for The Shade.

After his conversation with the female died down, I kept my attention sharp, hoping that he might start up another conversation and I’d be able to glean more information. But hours passed and, although there were other conversations, none of them were of interest.

I huddled into a crack between two boulders in an attempt to at least escape the biting wind. It worked, but the icy damp continued to seep into my bones. It was torture, waiting for endless hours in the snow. Once I’d lost all feeling in my limbs, I suspected that if I wanted to survive, I’d have to return to the boat to warm up, at least for the time being. But then night fell outside the island’s boundary and I turned into a wolf again, immune from the cold.

Yet another night was spent straining to hear anything that could give me a clue as to Rhys’ plans. But again, I failed. When I did hear Rhys speak, it was usually related to his injury. It wasn’t until I’d turned back into my human form again and, in the early-morning hours, was close to being forced to return to the boat that I finally heard what I’d been waiting for.

“Arielle,” he murmured. “Gather together the vampires. I’m ready.”

“Should I give them any explanation, or would you like to do that yourself?” a female voice asked.

There was a pause before Rhys answered, “You can just tell them that the time has come for us to take over The Shade. I’ll give them more information if and when required.”

There was the sound of a door clicking open and another female voice spoke—Julisse’s. “The rest of our witches have just arrived through the gate. They’re waiting in the apartment below.”

“Good,” Rhys said. “Isolde, take one last look at my palms before we leave, will you?”

“Yes,” another voice replied. “The balm is all off. Your powers should now be as they were before.”

“So, if all goes according to plan, we should be ready to start the final ritual in three days. Once I’ve dealt with Mona and we’ve secured the island, Julisse and Arielle will head up choosing those with the choicest blood. We’ll perform the blood rites for three nights in a row.”

“The third night, I’ll bring Lilith to the island,” Isolde said.

“And by the fourth day,” Rhys continued, his voice almost trembling with anticipation, “Lilith will be gone.”

“Should we not have someone stationed in The Sanctuary to make sure Lilith didn’t sacrifice her life for nothing?” Julisse asked.

Isolde scoffed. “Trust me, Julisse, even in the human realm, we’ll all know if it has been successful.”

“Our dear friends in The Sanctuary won’t know what hit them,” Rhys said quietly. “The wave of rage will sweep through their every home and street, until every witch not aligned with the Ancient’s cause is either punished or resurrected to the true path of our kind.” Rhys paused, letting out a dry chuckle. “It’s easy to argue about what the Ancients might or might not have wanted. It’s easy to squabble over the texts the Ancients left for us. Quite another thing entirely to be standing in front of one and still trying to deny their instructions.”

“It will be a bloodbath,” Julisse said, apprehension in her voice.

“And long awaited,” Isolde said. “But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. If the rite fails, we will be back to square one—and this time without Lilith. We’ve got only one shot at this. Failing is not an option.”

As the conversation trailed off, my stomach was in knots. Although much of what they were saying was a mystery to me, I understood enough for their words to terrify me.

Chapter 8: Sofia

Sitting with Derek in the mountain cabin Kiev and Mona were staying in temporarily, I found my jaw was on the floor as they recounted all that had happened since leaving the island. But almost more than the witches’ deceit, I was shocked at what Kiev had been willing to sacrifice to reclaim Mona. I knew Kiev loved her, but I hadn’t understood the extent of that love until today.

As our conversation came to a close, we watched as Mona applied a strong-smelling ointment around his closed wound.

“Will you be able to replace Kiev’s arm?” I asked.

“Even my magic has limitations,” Mona replied, grimacing. “Kiev’s arm is still trapped somewhere at the base of the Adriuses’ palace in The Sanctuary—that’s if Hagatha hasn’t devoured it already. The most we can do is fix Kiev up with a prosthetic arm.”

Once Mona was finished with him, Kiev stood up from his armchair and walked over to the window, stretching out his remaining arm and rolling his neck. I was surprised by how nonchalant his attitude was to the whole affair of his missing arm. He seemed almost disinterested.