An End of Night(A Shade of Vampire,Book 16)(8) by Bella Forrest
Ashley gripped Landis’ arm none too gently as she eyed a couple of crabs near her. She stumbled out of the way as they started scuttling straight for her.
At least I’m not the only one.
I’d been too occupied with the crabs until now and hadn’t looked properly at our surroundings. Beyond the small rock formation we were standing on was ocean, and further still, all around us were clusters of countless more islets, spreading out as far as we could see. The Cove, it seemed, was one massive, sprawling archipelago. Still gripping Caleb tightly in case I slipped, I moved toward the edge of the rocks and stared down. The water was dark and murky, and was tinged a dark green from the dense sea flora growing within it.
“Okay,” Mona said. “Listen up, everyone. We need to tread very carefully. We can’t afford to have anyone slipping into these waters.”
“What would happen if one of us did fall?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Just don’t. Inside the archipelago, these waters are the merfolk’s private property. It’s simply not done. We’re going to have to try to get someone’s attention while we are up on these rocks. Merfolk are hostile enough as it is. We need to try to extract information from them about Magnus, and any of us falling in might prove to be a fatal blow to any chance we have. So just… watch your step.”
“So what now?” Micah asked. His claws were extended, digging into the moss to keep his hold on the ground, and his paws were sopping wet.
“We’re going to travel from islet to islet, using magic of course,” Mona said. “And we all need to scan the waters surrounding us. Tell me if you see anything.”
With that, we all cautiously began spreading out toward the edge of the islet. I could still see nothing but murky green as Caleb and I made our way around the islet. It didn’t take long for all of us to finish scoping out the rocks. Mona magicked us to the next rock formation and we continued our search.
Perhaps it was just my imagination, but there seemed to be even more crabs on this island. It was hard to concentrate on the waters when I was constantly checking my feet to see if one was scuttling over me. I ended up admitting defeat and climbing onto Caleb’s back.
“Whoa,” my mother said behind us. Caleb hurried over to her with me. She was pointing toward the waves. The water churned violently, and as I strained my eyes, I could make out an enormous black shape.
“It’s a shark,” Corrine said.
“If you’re right, that is one long-ass shark,” Ashley murmured.
Corrine was right. A shiny fin protruded above the surface before sinking back down again seconds later.
“Just another reason why nobody should go slipping into these waters,” Mona said.
Once we had finished that second islet, we moved on to a third. This time it was Caleb and I who spotted something strange in the water. At first I thought it was some kind of long red stringy flora, but then it began to move and swirl. Caleb caught sight of a pulsating oblong object the same color as the stringy things, which turned out to be giant tentacles. The creature moved backward in one sudden motion.
“A squid?” I gasped.
“Looks like it,” Caleb said.
The others came over to look at what we had spotted.
“Yes, a squid,” Matteo said.
“Everything here is supersized,” Ashley said.
“Let’s keep moving,” Mona said.
We reached the fourth islet. Here we spotted black-striped sea serpents gliding through the water. I looked around at the seemingly never-ending archipelago. “How long is it going to take us?” I said, more to myself than to anyone else.
“We’re going to have to hope that we spot some merfolk sooner rather than later,” Mona said.
We were about to move on to the fifth islet when a shrill scream broke through the calm. I turned in time to see Helina flying backward, a bright red tentacle wrapped around her waist. She was pulled off the rocks and out of sight. There was a splash.
“No!” Matteo, Kiev and Erik yelled at once.
The three men were a blur as they raced toward the edge and dove into the water after Helina.
“No!” Mona shouted. We all rushed to the edge and looked down. None of them were visible—all we could see were ripples in the murky water where they had disappeared.
Biting her trembling lip, Mona faced Corrine and Ibrahim. “Hover over the water with me and help me create a whirlpool.”
The three witches floated off the rocks with their palms facing downward. The sea beneath them began to churn, slowly at first, but quickly gathering momentum until a swirling vortex of water had formed. We all stared down into the eye of the whirlpool. I spotted the redness of the squid showing in the wall of water. Then Helina’s scream echoed upward. The tentacle was still wrapped around her waist, and no matter how much she clawed at it, it wouldn’t let go. I caught sight of the shadow of the three men in the water, about ten feet above Helina. They were closing in on her fast, even through the force of the whirlpool.
“Pull back!” Mona screamed down at the men. But it was too late. They reached the squid and began attacking it in the water, even as they continued to swirl around and around. “No! They shouldn’t be attacking it! It will only strengthen its grip around her. Corrine and Ibrahim, keep up the whirlpool while I go down there.”
She began drifting downward into the eye of the swirling mass of water. A burst of white-blue fire shot from her palms, aimed directly at the squid’s giant head. It took about ten bouts of fire from Mona before it finally exploded. Bright red liquid stained the water, and finally Helina was free from the tentacle.