Home > A Passage of Threats (A Shade of Vampire #47)(2)

A Passage of Threats (A Shade of Vampire #47)(2)
Author: Bella Forrest

“I know I have no way of convincing Serena to sit this one out,” he replied. “And given that she’s proven herself an invaluable asset to this campaign, I’d be foolish not to ask her to come with me.”

Draven looked at me as he said those words. His look warmed my insides, and my heart swelled with pride.

“Hansa should join us as well,” he continued. “Her skills are of more use on the outside, rather than sulking in here.” He looked at her and smiled briefly, enough to make her understand that she was valued and that he wasn’t ready to lose her to a botched attempt at revenge against Goren. “Sverik will come as well, since he knows where the incubi outpost is. Something tells me he’d rather land in a volcano via the passage stone than stay here, surrounded by the very beasts who caged him.”

“Not to be a buzzkill, but the protective shield sounds better than hot, burning lava,” Sverik smirked. “Nevertheless, I will gladly join you on this mission, not only because you need my guidance to find the rogues, but also because I cannot stay here while my rescuers face countless other dangers to save this world.”

Draven nodded and looked at all of us, trying to give us a reassuring smile. The corners of his mouth struggled to lift.

“Let us go inside the banquet hall and get everything ready,” he said. “We leave in a few hours, and there is no time to waste. We have to cover all possible scenarios with what we do next, as there is the risk of Vita’s vision coming to fruition, while we still have a lot of work to do and ground to cover.”

 

 

Serena

 

 

“What do you want the rest of us to do?” Phoenix asked as soon as we entered the banquet hall.

“First and foremost, we need the Daughter to take the swamp witches’ book and translate anything that may be of use to us on this mission,” Draven replied and took his seat at the head of the table.

“We don’t know what will be waiting for us on the other side,” Hansa said to the Daughter, who stood quietly by my brother’s side. “We don’t know where the other passage stones are. Our worst-case scenarios involve getting trapped beneath several feet of dirt, falling into a volcano, drowning, or, Daughters forbid, walking right into Azazel’s chamber, where my passage stone probably is by now. We will need any spell that can help with protection from such calamities, as well as combat magic if you can find any. Whatever you can dig up in the next two to three hours, we’ll take it.”

The Daughter nodded firmly and left the hall to fetch the spell book.

Phoenix sat down across from Aida and poured himself a glass of water. I could see a muscle jerking in his jaw, a sign of tension I’d rarely seen in him.

My heart got smaller with each minute that passed, as my brain processed all the risks involved—each ending with me never seeing Phoenix, my friends, and my family again. Then again, there was the slim chance we’d make it safely out of here and do what we’d set out to do. I channeled all my energy into that one positive outcome. I figured that the universe would be more tempted to work in my favor if I focused on the most positive, if unlikely, scenario.

“Anjani,” Draven said, “I need you to check all our supplies, from herbs to powders, potions, and poisons. Anything we can carry in the satchels, we’ll take them. We have to be prepared for any hostile creature we might come across, Sluaghs included. So, don’t skimp on that death’s kiss toxin either.”

She nodded and gave Jovi a quick glance before she headed out to the greenhouse. As a succubus of few words, I figured it was her way of saying, “See you later.” With the dangers waiting outside, every gesture counted.

Aida, Vita, and Field sat next to each other. Bijarki and Sverik hovered nearby, occasionally glancing at the two Lamias who’d found seats at the other end of the table.

“What can I do?” Bijarki asked, hands in his pockets.

“Can you get some weapons ready? Something light that we can easily carry. We don’t need anything that will weigh us down, should we find ourselves in the middle of a lake or an ocean,” Draven replied.

“What about us?” Aida looked at me.

“We need your visions,” I replied. “Everything you’ve seen so far, every detail you can remember.”

“I’ve made notes of their runes during the visions, as well,” Field added. “But the Daughter has yet to translate them. They’re very recent.”

“The swamp witches’ spells are a priority right now,” Draven replied. “Should the Daughter manage to translate the runes before we leave as well, good. If not, they’ll have to wait until we get back.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Field asked.

Draven shook his head. “Nothing other than watching over the Oracles. We need you here, since you are one of the strongest and your wings might come in handy. Although, personally, I’m hoping you won’t need them while we’re away.”

I could tell from the look in Field’s eyes that he still battled his guilt. I wanted to say something to soothe him, but as soon as Aida leaned against his shoulder, I watched him relax a little. It was enough for me to understand that she had a calming effect on him. We needed him sharp and strong. There was no room for unnecessary guilt clouding his judgment. Our Hawk was strong and fierce and unyielding, and we couldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Vita

 

 

Jovi continued pacing the room like he’d done outside, constantly looking through the window. I craned my neck to get a glimpse of what he was seeing, and another wave of chills shot through me. Destroyers were very much still there, beyond the shield, prowling like bloodthirsty predators trying to get in. It was a shame that the shape-shifters were smaller in size and not strong enough to take on the Destroyers, I would’ve enjoyed that show.

Phoenix was the first to describe his visions. I registered a slight tremor in his voice as he spoke—he was as rattled as Aida and I were.

“The visions came to me in a set of three again,” he said, his finger drawing invisible circles on the table. “I saw a massive hall with a big banquet table in the middle that held twenty seats. It was surrounded by twenty different doors carved into the circular wall, and each led to one of Eritopia’s planets. From what I could tell, they were like portals.”

“That was the Grand Council Hall you’ve just described,” Draven replied. “It was where the Druid leaders of Eritopia’s twenty planets once met on a regular basis to discuss state affairs. I don’t know what happened to it. The magic that held it together was extremely powerful, created by the first rulers. It could only be reached through those doors, one on each planet, their locations undisclosed. Only the Druid in charge and his predecessors knew where they were.”

“I saw Almus there, along with your mother, Genevieve.”

At the sound of her name, Draven’s expression softened, a glimmer of sadness temporarily flickering in his gray eyes. He’d never met her, but the longing he must’ve felt was entirely understandable. I didn’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t had my mother in my life.

“And I saw Azazel there, before he became a Destroyer,” Phoenix continued. “I saw their tattoos, the circles. Their arms were covered with them.”

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