A Search for Death (A Shade of Vampire #73) - Bella Forrest

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We were lost. Literally lost somewhere in the In-Between.

After our bloody encounter with a rogue Reaper named Yamani—and after wrapping our heads around the fact that Reapers exist to begin with—we’d managed to get off Hellym by jumping back through the pink waters. Another Reaper had saved us, not only from psycho Yamani, but also from the Hermessi’s Titan, as Amelia had called it. A humongous, golem-type creature made of hot stone, lava, and fire that had been forged specifically to crush us.

Hellym’s Water Hermessi had died millions of years ago, having wiped out an entire population of Druids and fae in the process, but the other elementals had remained dormant until the Blackout. The Devil’s Weed we carried around at all times made us more difficult for the Hermessi to detect, but not impossible—especially since Yamani had sold us out to them in a desperate bid to catch and kill us. We’d been a means to an end for that maniac. He’d wanted to quit being a Reaper by turning into a ghoul. As it turned out, that required eating a soul, and Yamani had set his sights on the five members of my crew, myself included.

The Hermessi’s power grew stronger every day, as their influence spread through an increasing number of fae. That had allowed Hellym’s Hermessi to conjure up an elemental behemoth which Amelia had referred to as a Titan, along with extremely dangerous fire attacks, all created to destroy us. In addition, Yamani’s circle spell had also stopped us from teleporting away from them and Yamani—until the second Reaper’s intervention. That stranger had killed Yamani and had given us the window we needed to get out of that bloody mess. Left without our gear, our weapons, and our earpieces, we had no choice but to slip back through the pink water, hoping it would get us back to Calliope and Mount Agrith.

To our surprise, it didn’t. We were somewhere else entirely. And we had no idea where.

“I see forest, for the most part. Though it’s weird I’m seeing so much, given it’s still night time,” Raphael muttered, looking around. His peculiar eyes, one blue and one green, surveyed our surroundings, while the rest of us got our bearings. We’d managed to retain our Telluris connection to Viola, as well as Varga and his crew, so we weren’t completely in the dark.

“At least nothing is jumping out to kill us, for the time being,” Amelia replied.

We’d been here for about four hours, beneath a starry night sky with a bright, full moon, trying to figure out what to do next. It was so bright and peculiar, in fact, that it made this place look exceptionally clear. Yes, we couldn’t see anything but forest around us, but the moonlight was so strange and intense, that we had a great sense of color and contrast, as if it was still daylight. Raphael was right. This was weird. A good kind of weird, because we had enhanced visibility. Amelia had given Phoenix every single detail she could see, anything that might help Phoenix figure out where we were. But Amelia was right. At least it was quiet, giving us some time to simply settle down and recover.

The pink water had healed my wounds, as well as Raphael’s. The cuts had closed, and there weren’t even scars left behind. The primordial fluid had been quite the game changer—though, in all fairness, we deserved all the lucky breaks we could get.

“Well, without any spell paraphernalia, I can’t get us out of here. That much is clear,” Lumi said. She got up, joining Raphael in his study of the area. “And I doubt Phoenix will find our location anytime soon. There is so much moonlight, though, it’s incredible.”

“What should we do?” Eira asked.

We’d settled on the top of the cliff that sheltered the pink water through which we’d come. We had a fresh supply of Devil’s Weed in our pockets—sprigs plucked from the edges of the pond. And there was time to kill…

Varga, Eva, Fallon, Riza, and Herakles were on their way back from Nevertide. They had a location for Death, thanks to Kabbah, Nevertide’s Earth Hermessi and one of the oldest elementals in existence. We knew he wouldn’t give us more than he’d already given us, but I held on to the hope that he’d come through, eventually. He’d chosen neutrality because Brendel, the lead Hermessi working toward completion of the