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An End of Night(A Shade of Vampire,Book 16)(14) by Bella Forrest

“And no misleading me,” my father said, his voice nothing short of menacing. “This spear will be lodged deep into your throat if I detect even the slightest bit of deceit from you.”

To my surprise, we headed upward. I was expecting us to enter the city. We began traveling at a much faster speed—I guessed that the merman was doing much of the work in pulling us forward with his powerful tail.

The base of an islet came into view. Swimming up to it, the merman led us through a hole that was drilled right through its base. He led us into it. Traveling along a dark tunnel, we surfaced in a pool in the center of a dark cave. We hauled ourselves out of the water. It was empty but for three figures lying on the ground. Mona and Kiev were lying in one corner, while my mother was in another. I lurched toward her and clutched her face. It shook me to see how she’d been tied up. Like an animal. I pressed my ear against her chest, afraid that I might not even hear a heartbeat. But I did, however faint it was. The rope Ibrahim and Corrine had connected us with tugged around my waist as others must have been walking toward the other end of the cave.

“Loosen the rope,” my father said, his voice some distance away. For a moment, I wondered why he hadn’t immediately rushed over to my mother. But then I remembered that he was still restraining the merman.

The rope around me loosened.

“Gather them up quickly,” my father said. “We don’t have long.”

I felt Caleb next to me as I slid my hands beneath my mother’s body. He placed his hands beneath her legs and we both stood up, lifting her up with us. But as we motioned to move back toward the entrance of the cave, something held us in place.

“They have fastened her to the ground,” Caleb said.

A chain had been locked around my mother’s right arm. We were forced to put her back down. The chain clanged as Caleb attacked it, but it seemed that he was having trouble loosening it from the ground.

“Corrine,” he called across the cave. “Are Kiev and Mona fastened to the ground?”

“Yes,” Corrine replied, her voice filled with worry. “Ibrahim and I are trying to break the chains. They are made of—”

My father grunted, then yelled out, “No!”

The merman he had taken hostage came into view. He had broken free from my father’s grasp and dove into the water.

“Hurry,” my father said, now rushing over to us. “He slipped from my grasp. We need to get out of here, now!”

“I don’t know what these chains are made of,” Ibrahim said. “It’s stronger than any material I’ve ever encountered. We’re trying to break them.”

My father attacked the chain connected to my mother, but he had no more luck than Caleb had.

“I wonder if burning it might help?” I suggested.

“Pick her up again,” my father said.

Caleb and I did as he had requested. A moment later, a blaze of fire scorched the ground where the chain was connected. It still remained fixed.

“We figured it out!” Ibrahim called. We turned to see him carrying Mona in his arms, free from any chains.

Corrine hurried over to us and Ibrahim started to work on Kiev’s chain.

“All right, hurry,” my father said.

My heart leapt into my throat as a hissing sound filled the cave. Five mermen surfaced in the pool and hauled themselves up onto the ground.

They all carried two spears, one in each hand, and they looked more fierce than I had ever seen these creatures looking before. My mother still being attached to the ground, Caleb and I crouched down on the ground with her, keeping contact with her so that she remained invisible. The mermen must have been warned that we were invisible foes. Spears outstretched, they began whirling them around wildly.

Oh, Lord.

I crawled over my mother and lay down against her as flat as I could as one merman headed straight for us. One of his blades grazed the air, inches above my ear. I gasped, fearing that he was about to strike again. Instead he yelled and staggered backward. Two nasty gashes appeared across his face—claw marks. I heard Caleb’s heavy breathing as the merman lashed out again with both spears.

“Make everyone visible!” my father bellowed somewhere across the cave.

“No!” I cried. I couldn’t understand why my father would order that. But my protest went in vain. I became visible, as did every other person in the cave. It was then that I caught sight of Caleb standing several feet away from me, blood soaking his claws.

The mermen launched forward now with confidence.

My father’s purpose for such an insane order finally became clear to me as he yelled, “Duck!”

He wanted everyone in sight so he could be sure he wasn’t about to scorch anyone.

Although they looked confused, everyone obeyed his commands and billows of fire shot from his palms toward the two mermen nearest him. A wave of heat hit my face. The creatures screeched and staggered back as the flames engulfed them. They launched toward the exit of the cave and dove into the water to extinguish themselves.

The merman closest to me had spotted my mother and me on the ground. He motioned to move toward us. I shot to my feet and released a burst of fire. I was surprised at how quickly it sprung from my palms. His eyes widened in shock, and he hurried backward, but he wasn’t fast enough to escape my fire. As with the other two my father had targeted, he dove screeching into the water to extinguish himself. Only two mermen remained in the chamber now. They were harassing Matteo and Caleb.