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A Vial of Life(A Shade of Vampire,Book 21)(5) by Bella Forrest

“Show me!” I said, my voice cracking. “Please, take me to him!”

“Certainly, you can see him again,” the voice rasped. “But not until you fulfill your end of the bargain.”

“I’ll do anything. What do you want from me?”

“You must help us fulfill a prophecy,” the voice hissed. I listened with bated breath, scared to even miss a word he said. “I and your other Elders have lost strength, too much strength, as a result of this battle. Even if we had pure human blood within reach, we could not gain sustenance from it sufficient for recovery, because we are too weak to inhabit these vessels… However, there is a hope for us. Basilius imprinted upon a certain human infant in anticipation of the battle. A human child with… unique blood. Unfortunately, he is now returned to earth, but his time will come to rise and help us. That much we know. The day his parents turn him into a vampire will be the day he starts his journey back to us. His name is Benjamin Novak. If you wish to see your lover again, you will play a part in helping him along this journey.”

“When will he turn?” I stammered. “You said that he is just an infant now.”

“Just short of eighteen human years from now, he will be turned.”

“H-How do you know that?”

“ ’Tis the prophecy.”

It felt as though someone had bored a hole in my stomach. “Eighteen years?” I breathed, winded. “I cannot wait that long. Hans cannot wait that long. How… How would he even survive without blood for all that time? You have no blood, and you are too weak to procure even animal blood, it seems. How will—”

“Silence.” The voice sliced through my protests. “You have heard what your task is.”

“Can I just see him?” I begged. “Please, just let me see him. I promise I will—”

“You have heard my terms, Julie Duan,” the voice said, and then the chilling presence left me.

I sank to my knees on the sharp rocks. I breathed heavily, my mind working furiously as to where the Elder could possibly be keeping my love. Although I’d spent what felt like an age in this barren wasteland, I still didn’t know it well. Hans and I were usually kept in our quarters in the mountain and we didn’t often venture out except on the Elders’ bidding.

In spite of my weak limbs screaming for blood, I spent the next three days roaming about the landscape, desperately trying to discover the hidden chamber. Being unsuccessful, I was forced to go to the shore and feed myself with the blood of sea animals before resuming my mission with more strength. I was so determined to find it, I searched for an entire month.

When I still didn’t find him, I lost hope that I ever would. Indeed, as the Elder said, the chamber was hidden so well that I would never find it no matter how long I searched for it. And so, my heart weighed down by the Elder’s prophecy, I left that island on a rickety boat I found abandoned on the shoreline. It had a tiny covering over it to keep the sun from burning too severely into my skin, and I set off, drifting out into the ocean.

Eighteen years. The word played over and over in my head like a nightmare. How could my love even be alive by then without blood? That was my foremost concern. Although eighteen years was a horrific amount of time for me to be away from my soulmate, we were, after all, vampires. Immortals. In the grand scheme of things, eighteen years was but a blip in time. And if I managed to free him then we could be reunited again. It was the thought of Hans starving that sent me into a panic. During my search of the mountains, I had screamed at the Elder countless times to at least allow me to bring blood for Hans. But the Elder never returned.

I had no choice but to pray to the heavens and hope that somehow, Hans would survive.

I ended up reaching The Tavern and stayed there for a while. It was on that island that I happened to come across Hans’ siblings. Unlike Hans and me, they hadn’t been chosen to go to Cruor. They had remained in the coven in China, but since the Elders had been forced back through the gates, his siblings had been freed from the coven and found a gate leading into the supernatural realm, where they had become wanderers.

I told them everything that had happened to their brother and they shared in my devastation. As painful as my longing for Hans was, his siblings gave me strength. We stuck together from then on, trying to survive, keep each other safe as we waited for the years to pass. I returned to Cruor on a regular basis, clambering over rocks, just in case that human boy had turned into a vampire sooner and we could complete the task earlier. I was sure that the Elder would sense my presence and inform me. But even though I spent days at a time in that desolate land, giving the Elders ample opportunity to connect with me, none did. So I could only assume that eighteen years would indeed be the time that we all had to wait to see Hans again.

His siblings also had no idea how he was going to survive without blood, or if that was even possible for a vampire. We asked others also, but nobody seemed to know what truly happened to a vampire when they starved, how long they could survive, and if they ever died from starvation. I guessed that vampires never went that long without blood. They always found a way to get it somehow—by murdering either a human or animal.

And so we waited. And waited. Until finally, as the eighteenth year was on the cusp of arriving, while I paid my routine visit to Cruor, the same Elder spoke to me. I’d never thought that his frightening voice could be such a welcome sound, but relief washed over me as his hiss met my ears.