A Shade of Vampire 79 A Game of Death - Bella Forrest


Where would we draw the line?

I’d repeatedly asked myself this question while waiting for Acheron and Danika to join us in the throne room. They’d already been summoned, and I’d made it clear that this was an emergency. Amal had the tracking spell ingredients ready, and Esme had already briefed GASP on the latest developments.

Before we could even consider the possibility of getting involved in the Aeternae’s Darkling issue, we had to get our Nethissis back. Frankly, as the minutes had gone by since I’d first been told of her absence, I’d gradually renounced the idea of helping the Aeternae with anything—at least until we found our swamp witch.

Yes, we needed their help and hospitality, but we also needed to look after ourselves. I knew I personally wouldn’t leave this place until I had a day-walking cure. It was too important for me to leave behind. I had struggled with the darkness before coming to terms with it… and I felt guilty for being the only vampire who could walk in the light. It had haunted me since I’d first set foot on Sun Beach. However, I didn’t want to get my people hurt in the process. My motives might be pure, but they weren’t worth the safety of my crew. My stomach hurt, the concern for Nethissis’s wellbeing swelling like a malignant cloud. Once we found her, I knew I’d have to reconsider our options here.

“If anything happened to her, I swear…” Esme’s voice trailed off. She dared not complete her sentence, but I understood her emotions. We were all worried sick, having been unable to reach Nethissis since earlier this morning.

The golden guards by the door straightened their backs as the sound of heels clicking across the marble echoed through the room. Acheron and Danika finally emerged from the gilded side door, wearing dark red silks with golden threads and bejeweled crowns. In a way, they were a sight for sore eyes, beautiful creatures that glided toward their thrones.

“Good morning, Derek, Sofia.” Acheron saluted us. I could sense the tension in his voice. He’d definitely been told about the purpose of this emergency meeting.

“Your Graces,” I said, bowing politely before them. “Thank you for making yourselves available on such short notice.”

“Of course. I understand one of your people is missing?” Acheron asked, looking genuinely concerned as he leaned back into his ornate chair.

The more time I spent on Visio, the more dazzled I was by its hazy skies, its superb architecture, and the artistic attention to detail. It was truly a unique world, predating vampires and Earth itself, and there were layers of mystery that begged for us to discover more.

Despite its beauty, however, Visio also harbored dark and terrible secrets. They did not want anyone to come poking around, but since one of our own was now missing, there was no other way. Chances were we’d have to stick our noses where they didn’t belong, whether the Lord and Lady Supreme of Visio liked it or not.

“Nethissis, our swamp witch,” Sofia replied. “We haven’t seen her since last night, and we haven’t been able to get in touch with her, either.”

“Are you sure she’s missing? Perhaps she’s still wandering through the city,” Danika suggested, seemingly not as worried about this as Acheron. “It’s a big place with many gorgeous sights. Even I lose track of time, sometimes.”

“We’re connected through a spell,” I said. “It allows us to communicate when our equipment fails or isn’t available. She would’ve responded by now, and she hasn’t. It is not like Nethissis to do such things. We would have known, Your Grace.”

Danika sighed deeply, her brow furrowing.

The doors behind us opened, and in walked Zoltan Shatal, Petra Visentis, and Corbin Crimson. I figured that Danika and Acheron had summoned them to participate in this mission, since the Lord and Lady Supreme certainly weren’t going to personally help us conduct a search of the palace and its surrounding grounds.

The three looked sullen, as if they had better things to do with their time.

Zoltan’s tone, in particular, irritated me. “What is this about?” he asked. “I heard something with regards to your witch, but would you care to clarify?”

“Nethissis is missing,” I replied, the uneasiness tugging at my nerves. “Our swamp witch. Surely you remember her.”

He nodded. “I do, yes. Are you sure she’s missing? What if she’s—”

“We’ve already gone over this!” Esme cut him off, rolling her eyes. “She’s not out for a stroll. She didn’t get lost in the city. She’s not