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An End of Night(A Shade of Vampire,Book 16)(7) by Bella Forrest

“I still don’t understand why you need my brother.”

“He is the reason Lilith is still alive. She loved him deeply, madly, and it’s that bond of love that is keeping her hanging on. We must find him so he can help us break it.”

Ernesta’s lips parted in disbelief as she took in Mona’s words. This was the first time I had heard a full explanation about why we needed Magnus, so I was grateful that Mona had explained it.

“I see,” Ernesta said, swallowing hard. “Well, the last I heard of my brother, he was residing in The Cove.”

“The realm of the mermaids,” Mona muttered. “But you have no idea if he might still be there now?”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I can only suggest that you travel there and ask if anyone there knows where he is. Even if he isn’t there, perhaps you will be able to pick up his trail. I’m sure they would be able to give you more insight about Magnus than I can, in any case.”

“When Mona and I were last near those shores,” Kiev said, “the Hawks had taken over the merpeople’s land. Do you know if this is still the case?”

“Oh, no,” Ernesta replied. “At least, the rumor is that the Hawks were forced to retreat from The Cove in order to return to their own realm, Aviary. They needed all the reinforcements they could get in their war with the Elders.”

“Do you know what the outcome of that war was?” my mother asked. “Or is it still ongoing?”

“It was brutal,” Ernesta said. “They attacked each other’s realms so fiercely and weakened each other’s resources to such an extent that neither side is much of a force to be reckoned with anymore. The Elders finished off huge numbers of Hawks and destroyed many of their natural resources, while an army of Hawks managed to penetrate Cruor and destroy their supply of human blood and vessels.”

“I see,” my mother said. “Thank you for that information.”

“Now, is there anything else you could tell us about your brother that might help in tracking him down?” Matteo asked.

Ernesta bit her lower lip. “There’s not a lot I can tell you of his past that would be relevant now, because it was so long ago. But I can warn you, if you do manage to find him… be careful. My brother can be… unpredictable.”

With that, she stood up and looked toward the door, indicating that we were now at risk of overstaying our welcome.

Mona, Matteo and Kiev looked dissatisfied, as all of us were, but it seemed Ernesta was done offering information. Mona made Kiev invisible again before we all exited the sitting room, walked along the hallway and bundled out onto the street outside.

“Good luck,” Ernesta said, eyeing us one last time before shutting her door.

“What happened?” Ibrahim asked.

“She couldn’t tell us much,” Mona replied. “Last she knew of her brother, he was in The Cove.”

Ashley heaved a sigh. “So now what? We’ve got to travel to The Cove?”

“It’s the only lead we have,” my father replied.

“Hey, Mona! Matteo!” a gravelly voice called behind us.

We whirled around to see a gray wolf running toward us. As he neared, I realized that he was missing an ear.

“Oh, hello, Edward,” Mona murmured.

“I haven’t seen you around in a long time,” the wolf said. “What have you been up to?”

“Too much,” Matteo said.

Edward chuckled. “We’re having a roast out on the beach tonight,” he said. “Why don’t you join us? Ronan’s wife is cooking and there will be blood, too.”

“Very tempting,” Matteo replied, “but we are just passing through. We have to leave now. Thank you for the invitation, in any case.”

“Suit yourself,” Edward said. “It’s good to see you both. Hopefully we can catch up one of these days.”

“Thank you,” Mona replied. “Enjoy dinner.”

Once the wolf had bounded away, Mona and Matteo turned to us. “Okay,” Mona said. “Let’s get out of here before there are any more distractions.”

Chapter 6: Rose

A strong sea wind whipped against my skin when our feet hit solid ground again. When I looked around, we were all standing on a small rock formation. Its surface was covered with a slimy moss-like substance and was uneven, dipping now and then to form shallow pools. My stomach churned as I caught sight of a massive spider crab about a foot away from where I was standing. I clutched Caleb’s arm and squeezed it.

“Gross,” I breathed, pointing to the creature.

Caleb looked amused by my reaction. “There are plenty more where that came from.” He gestured toward a mound about a hundred yards to our left. It was swarming with crabs scuttling in and out, carrying what looked like oysters and small fish between their razor-sharp pincers.

“Those things are fierce,” I said.

“Hunter crabs,” Caleb replied.

“Well I don’t want them hunting me,” I muttered.

“You had better toughen up, Rose,” Mona said darkly. “Those crabs are the prettiest things you are going to see while we’re here in The Cove. I promise you that.”

I shuddered.

After everything I had been through, all the horrors I had seen, one would have thought that I would have overcome my fear of spidery creatures. Now I wasn’t sure I would ever overcome it.