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An End of Night(A Shade of Vampire,Book 16)(2) by Bella Forrest

I was relieved to spot Mona sitting next to Kiev. Caleb and I sat down in the nearest spare seats.

“What is happening?” I asked.

“Caleb,” Mona said, ignoring my question. “Do you know of a man—a vampire—called Magnus?”

“Magnus,” Caleb said, looking surprised. “Magnus who?”

“We don’t know,” she replied. “But a vampire named Magnus is the key to ending Lilith once and for all. I know only a little about the man from accessing Lilith’s memories with the help of a potion. I just spent an hour trying to access more, but it seems I’ve already witnessed all that she unwittingly shared with me.”

“I did know of a Magnus,” Caleb said slowly. “Wasn’t he a child of the Elders? I saw him briefly in Cruor.”

Mona’s eyes widened. “You knew a vampire named Magnus in Cruor?”

“I didn’t know him. He wasn’t a prisoner there like the rest of us were. He was a child of the Elders. He was freer than us, more privileged. He could come and go as he pleased, or so it seemed. I never talked much with him.”

“It must be the same Magnus,” Kiev said. “There can’t have been two children of the Elders named Magnus. Do you know what happened to him, Caleb?”

Caleb shook his head. “I remember him because there was a short period when he brought us blood every day. Then he just stopped coming and was replaced by someone else. I have no idea what happened to him.”

“Well, none of this helps us,” Xavier said. “It would have been a long time ago that Caleb saw him there. And he left. We have no idea where he might be now.”

Kiev stood up abruptly, looking around at everyone in the room. “Let’s go to The Blood Keep.”

“The Blood Keep?” several vampires asked at once.

“Why?” my father asked. “It was centuries ago that you saw him there. What makes you think that—”

“Oh, I don’t expect to find him there,” Kiev replied. “But there is something in that castle that I believe might help us.”

“Didn’t we ransack The Blood Keep decades ago?” Zinnia said.

“The building might still be standing,” Kiev said.

My father stood up, followed by my mother.

I was still confused as to what everyone was talking about. Who was Magnus? Why was he the end of Lilith? Clearly, nobody was in the mood to answer my questions now.

“Okay,” my father said. “We leave for The Blood Keep.”

Several people were looking doubtfully at Kiev, but it didn’t seem that anyone had any brighter ideas.

“Xavier and Vivienne, you will stay here in The Shade. The rest of us can go. Ibrahim and Corrine, we will need you, obviously.” Everyone stood up, including Caleb and me. I was waiting for my parents to tell me that I should stay too, but they didn’t bother. It seemed that they were past trying to keep me out of things.

“Be careful,” Vivienne said, her hands resting over her stomach.

“The dragons will remain with you too,” my father said. “The rest of you can come. Though I’d prefer we keep our party no larger than fifteen members. We will be back as soon as we can.” He kissed his sister on the forehead, then nodded toward Xavier before following us all out of the Dome.

Fifteen of us gathered in the clearing outside: Caleb and me, my parents, grandfather, Kiev and Mona, Corrine and Ibrahim, Kiev’s siblings and Matteo, Micah, Ashley and Landis. My mother was looking worriedly at me. She walked over and held my hand. A small gasp escaped her lips when she realized that I was wearing a ring. She stared at it, looked from me to Caleb, then back to me.

“You’re engaged?” she choked.

I nodded, grinning. Tears brimmed in her eyes. My father was already in conversation with Corrine and Ibrahim, but my mother caught his hand and pulled him over. She pointed to my ring.

Despite the worry creasing my father’s forehead, he couldn’t hold back a smile. He drew me in and planted a tender kiss on my head. Then he placed a hand on Caleb’s shoulder. “Congratulations,” he said, his voice hoarse.

“Derek?” Ibrahim called.

My father left to continue talking. My mother hugged me tightly. I felt her shake slightly, as though she was trying to suppress a sob.

“Sofia,” my father called.

She let go of me and joined him. I moved closer to Caleb, wrapping my arms around him. After a couple of minutes, my parents, Ibrahim, and Corrine had finished their conversation. They turned to the rest of us.

“Let’s go,” my father said. “Form a circle.”

We all gathered around and did as requested.

“Corrine and Ibrahim are going to take us directly within the compound of The Blood Keep. We don’t know what we are going to find there now, so be careful once we arrive.”

My parents took their place in the circle next to me. My father held one of my hands, while Caleb held the other, and we all vanished.

Chapter 3: Sofia

Even as we arrived outside the looming castle and crossed the shadowy courtyard, all I could think about was my daughter being engaged. I couldn’t believe how fast she had grown up. It still seemed like just yesterday I’d been nursing her in my arms. My baby girl.

I was knocked back to reality as Derek and Kiev pushed open the ancient oak doors. A strong smell of decay wafted out from the building. We walked through the door into the entry hall. I shuddered as I took in the place. It looked much the same as I remembered it. Long velvet curtains hid the windows and the high ceilings were covered with cobwebs. There was a thick layer of dust coating the floor. Looking around, it appeared that nobody had stepped in here since the day the Elder had escaped with his vampires through the portal. A portal that was supposed to have been closed by the late Ageless.