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A Fall of Secrets(A Shade of Vampire,Book 15)(19) by Bella Forrest

We reached Eli’s tree and hurried up the elevator. As he pushed open the front door, I was shocked at how messy the living room was. Eli wasn’t always the most tidy of people, but this level of disorder… it was worthy of a teenage boy’s room.

I shoved the thought aside as Eli switched on the television.

“I should’ve noticed this earlier,” he muttered, flicking through the channels. “I just haven’t checked on the news for couple of days. Been feeling a bit under the weather.”

My mouth fell open as he stopped changing the channels.

“More CCTV footage,” Eli said, pointing with the remote toward the scene playing out on the screen. A dozen or so hooded figures dressed in black, wielding a burning ring of fire, closing in on hundreds of young men and women.

“Rhys,” I gasped. “Who else could this be but the black witches?” I clasped a hand over my mouth, gaping at the screen. “Oh, no. No. Why are they doing this?”

“The code of secrecy has already been broken,” Derek said. “They are no longer bothering to hide themselves from humans.”

“But why do they want all these teens?” I stammered. “Why are they so bent on capturing people?”

Derek shook his head slowly. “I don’t know.” He looked at Eli. “We need to call a council meeting this instant. Wake everyone up. I want Caleb there too.”

Chapter 14: Derek

Sofia and I sat at the head of the table in the Great Dome. We watched as our council members piled in, bleary-eyed and confused, and took seats around us. I didn’t answer any questions until everyone had arrived—everyone except Yuri and Claudia, who had already left the island for their honeymoon. Xavier took a seat next to me, Vivienne next to Sofia.

Caleb was the last to enter—without Rose, I was glad to see. He took a seat at the opposite end of the table after closing the main door behind him.

“What happened, Derek?” Ashley asked, wiping sleep away from her eyes.

“The black witches have moved on to new shores.”

Mona’s mouth fell open.

“Where?” she asked.

“They closed in on a group of adolescents at a school, near the coast of California. The police are reporting just over a hundred missing. The black witches cast a spell and vanished them. It was all caught on camera. This is just the first attack of God knows how many.” I looked around at my comrades. “They must be stopped. And if we don’t do it, nobody will.”

“But how?” Zinnia said, her face deathly pale.

I looked toward Mona. “You know more about these black witches than any of us.”

Mona chewed on her lower lip, looking around the room. “I don’t know exactly what all this blood is for—”

“Blood?” Sofia interrupted, horror in her eyes.

Mona raised a brow. “Yes, blood. What else would they be taking these humans for? I don’t know exactly what they need them for, but it’s for some kind of ritual. I suspect this has to do with Lilith, the one Ancient who remains clinging to life by a thread. Whatever this ritual is, we need to stop it.”

“This Lilith seems to be the cause of most of our problems,” Kiev muttered. “We need to end the bitch.”

Mona scoffed. “Easier said than done. I don’t even know where she resides. I’ve visited her island before with Rhys, but he made sure I didn’t know the actual location.”

I looked toward Caleb. “You know, don’t you? You and Rose were on that island.”

“I have no idea where it is within the supernatural realm, but we do know that there is a gate leading to it deep in the Amazon jungle.”

“Do you remember exactly where the gate is?” I asked. “Could you locate it in the jungle?”

Caleb looked doubtful. “That night we arrived there, I was so bent on getting as far away from that gate with Rose as I could, I’m honestly not sure if I could remember its location now. I could try, but God knows how long it would take me to find it again. The nearest city is Manaus, but that hardly helps us.”

Mona shook her head. “I can’t believe that Rhys would’ve allowed that gate to remain open if you and Rose had escaped through it. Even if you manage to find the location, I’m sure he would have closed it. Lilith is far too precious to them.”

“I don’t understand the logic of going after Lilith,” Gavin said. “Maybe I’m just missing something, but surely we would have to end all of the black witches?”

“I doubt they’d be left with much steam if they lost Lilith,” Mona said. “They want to take over The Sanctuary and revive the lost way of the Ancients. They want to reinstate black magic that today’s witches have mostly shunned. Much of the power that they have, they gained from Lilith. If we managed to take her down, I don’t know if they would be successful without her. They might even lose some of their powers. Heck, I might too. Most of the power I possess came as a result of a meeting with Lilith.”

“And while we are contemplating this impossible task,” Sofia said, “more people could be being abducted as we speak.”

“Mona,” I said, “you really believe that Lilith is the key here?”

Mona nodded slowly. “I just don’t know how we could—”

“If you can’t figure out how to end her, then nobody will be able to. Please, go now and take some time. Think back to all those years you spent with the black witches. Think back to your meeting with Lilith. Try to figure it out. The rest of us wouldn’t even know where to start.”