An End of Night(A Shade of Vampire,Book 16)(3) by Bella Forrest
Remembering that Derek was no longer a vampire and couldn’t see in the dark, I gripped his arm and led him forward as we crossed the hallway. We stopped at the base of the wide staircase leading up. All eyes turned toward Kiev.
“So?” Mona said, her voice echoing eerily around the hall. “Why did you bring us all here?”
Kiev looked paler than usual, his eyes haunted with memories. It seemed to take a moment for him to compose himself enough to answer. “While I was staying here,” he said, his voice deep, “there was a room where the name of every single one of the Elder’s children was recorded. On the walls… It was a job my Elder had given Clara. We need to find that room. I don’t remember exactly where it is now.”
“Where do we start?” Derek asked.
“Upstairs,” Kiev replied.
I remained holding onto Derek as we climbed the stairs. I looked back to see Caleb supporting Rose.
The first floor was brighter than the ground floor. Many of the curtains were either torn or ripped right from the rails, allowing the rays of the moon to shine through. Derek didn’t need me to guide him anymore.
This level was also more wrecked than the floor below—pieces of crushed furniture and shards of glass from smashed mirrors were scattered everywhere. Perhaps this floor was where the main battle had taken place that night Derek and our vampires had stormed the castle in search of me.
“I suggest we split up to make this faster,” Derek said.
“What exactly are we looking for?” Matteo asked.
“One wall, covered with etchings of names,” Kiev replied.
Half of us split right, while the other half went left. Even as a vampire, I found myself shivering as I walked along the corridors and looked in each of the rooms. Many of them I recognized from my stay here, and when I reached the room at the end of the corridor I was walking along, I stood rooted to the spot. It was all too familiar. I gulped, looking around, and stopped at the foot of the bed. This had been the chamber I had been imprisoned in while I was pregnant with the twins.
Someone entered behind me. Kiev.
“Oh, you’re already checking in here,” he muttered. He stopped short as he realized which room this was. All the emotions—the fear, the uncertainty, the distrust—I’d held for the vampire during my stay within these walls came back to me full force. I remembered how much his erratic, violent and unpredictable nature had terrorized me. I had begun to believe that I would never make it out of this place alive. If it weren’t for Shadow, I probably wouldn’t have.
Our eyes met across the room. His expression was dark, tortured. It was hard to believe that the same vampire who’d kept me captive was standing before me now.
“Kiev,” Mona called from outside the door. She stepped inside, looking at the two of us. “Derek thinks he has found it.”
We both snapped out of our bout of nostalgia and followed Mona out of the room. We hurried along the corridor, then took a right into a small chamber. Despite its size, everyone had piled in and was staring at the wall opposite the door. Kiev made his way to the front of the group and stared at the wall. Sure enough, it was covered with names.
“This is it,” he said, running a hand down the rough wall. “We need to try to find Magnus listed here…”
The next two minutes passed in silence as we all scanned the old, barely legible, etchings in the stone. It was Rose who was the first to call out, “I think this is it.” Squatting, she squinted at a name etched particularly low down on the wall. “Magnus Helios.”
“Helios,” Kiev repeated slowly. He stood up and leaned against the wall, raising a hand to his head and rubbing his temples. He closed his eyes, frowning in concentration. “Why is that surname familiar to me?” he said, more to himself than to anyone else.
We all waited with bated breath, watching as Kiev racked his brain. When he finally did look up, he appeared to be uncomfortable. He glanced at Mona.
She raised her brows. “What?”
“Long before I met you, I had a brief affair with a woman—a vampire—called Ernesta Helios.” He shifted on his feet. “It happened during a visit I paid to the coven in Amsterdam—The Underground. Given the Elders’ penchant for going after people of the same bloodline”—he nodded toward Helina and Erik across the room—“it’s no stretch of imagination to conclude that Magnus and Ernesta are related. Of course, at the time I had no idea. Talking was something Ernesta and I didn’t do much of.”
“She’s not listed here on the wall,” Derek said, frowning.
“No,” Kiev said, “she wasn’t a direct child of the Elders.”
“Ernesta Helios,” Matteo muttered.
We all turned to look at the Italian vampire.
“I knew that vampire, too,” he said. “She lives in The Tavern. Or at least, she did when I was there last.”
“The Tavern?” Derek asked. “What is The Tavern?”
“It is an island in the supernatural realm,” Matteo replied. “An island founded by a group of outcasts. Over the years, it has become a place of respite for all those in the supernatural realm who have either left or been rejected from their own homes.”
“Matteo,” Derek said. “What is the likelihood that Ernesta is still there on that island?”
Matteo shrugged. “She was a permanent resident there when I last visited. I don’t see a reason why she wouldn’t still be there now.”