“Corrine!” a soft voice called out behind me.
I whirled around. “Rose!” I gasped.
Rose was climbing out of the hatch of a submarine that had just emerged from the waters near the jetty. Following her out was Xavier, Vivienne, Claudia, Yuri, Eli… vampire after vampire crawled out along with all the witches, and one elderly human I’d never seen before. They all looked battle-worn, their clothes ripped and bloodstained.
My heart sank when I realized that Ibrahim wasn’t among them. Derek, Sofia, Aiden and Zinnia were also missing.
My heart doubled its pace as I raced toward them. Rose threw her arms around me and buried her face in my neck.
“What happened?” I gasped, staring at all the ashen faces surrounding me.
Vivienne walked up to me, placing a hand on my shoulder, her face written with worry. “Let’s go inside and sit down first.”
I had no patience to walk, so I vanished us all to the Sanctuary.
Once we were all seated around the dining table, Xavier began, “We were all trapped on Caleb’s island. The witch there… Annora. She’s something else. She overpowered us all.”
“What did they do to you?”
“We were locked in a dungeon. They didn’t do much else to us while we were there, but as for what they were planning to do… we still don’t know.”
“Where’s Ibrahim? Derek and Sofia?”
Xavier heaved a sigh. “Ibrahim, Zinnia and Aiden fell behind as we were escaping. As for Derek and Sofia, we don’t know what happened to them. We discovered that there is another portal in the dungeon of that castle, leading to the supernatural realm. Where exactly in the supernatural realm we have no idea. But since Anna wasn’t anywhere to be found in Caleb’s castle, Derek and Sofia assumed that this was the only place Anna could have been taken.”
Tears began to spill from Rose’s eyes. Vivienne pulled her onto her lap and wrapped her arms around her in comfort.
My mind reeled. “What do you think will happen to them? Those who were left behind.”
“The honest answer is that we just have no idea, Corrine. I’d like to comfort you, but I’m as clueless as you are. Nobody there would give us any idea why we were being held captive there.”
Eli cleared his throat. “Actually,” he said, “I think we do all have some idea. Or at least I do. I believe, now that they know where this island is, they want to raid it. They know what a huge population of humans we have here. And clearly, they are in constant need of humans… I’m sure that if they knew our location sooner, they would have tried to tap into our resources years ago.”
“Y-you think they will come here?” Rose gasped.
“I think,” Eli continued, “that they were holding all The Shade’s most powerful vampires and witches for a reason. They want this island to be vulnerable so they can swoop in and take whomever they want.”
“From the sounds of it, Annora could swoop in even with them present,” I murmured. “She was able to overpower all of you.”
“True,” Eli muttered.
“How did you all escape?” I asked.
“I still don’t quite understand it. The lights went out, and with them, Annora’s powers also vanished. Ibrahim helped free us from the cells and we all made a run for it. But her influence wasn’t gone for long… a few minutes.”
“And the others… they were all alive when you last saw them?” I croaked.
I was about to ask more questions, but Eli held up his hand and stood up, looking around the table at all of us sternly.
“We don’t have much time now. We have no idea what Annora has up her sleeve. But I believe that she is going to attack. We need to start preparing for the worst.”
We looked at each other. It was clear that we were all thinking the same thing.
How could we even begin preparing against such a force as Annora?
I wasn’t sure that I was powerful enough to keep the protective spell over the island even with the help of all the witches here if she decided to attack. And once the spell was gone, the vampires’ brute force was useless against her magic, and she could easily overpower us witches.
I hadn’t thought it possible, but I felt more powerless now than when the Ageless had stripped me of my magic.
Chapter 25: Corrine
The hours that followed were a blur. When Rose asked me where her brother was, I barely had time to give her an answer.
Our first priority was to evacuate the humans from their houses and herd them back into what used to be their home many years ago: the Catacombs. They were safer in the shelter of the mountain than scattered around the island in their townhouses.
After we’d done this, I called a meeting with the witches in the Sanctuary, while the vampires began preparing themselves. They’d only come in handy if she brought vampires with them. But I doubted that the witch would bother.
I looked at the witches sitting with me around the table. “This temple is the most potent place on the island. You should remain here while Annora carries out her attack on the forcefield. Right now, your main priority is to help me keep up the protection over this island. With our combined effort, it should become at least six times stronger than it is now.”
They nodded, looking nervously at each other.
“I’m going to go out now and scan the shoreline. In the meantime, stay here. I’ll be back with further instructions.”