Ibrahim shook his head. “Although all witches are originally from there, there are splinter groups and outcasts who’ve moved away, not believing in the way things are now run in The Sanctuary.”
“But how would she be so powerful?” Aiden asked. “Surely, if anything, leaving The Sanctuary lessens one’s potency, not strengthens it?”
Ibrahim’s eyes darkened. “Well, that’s not the case here.”
“So who is this witch?” Derek asked.
“We call them black witches,” he began, sitting back down in his corner. “They stand for everything The Sanctuary doesn’t. Witches of The Sanctuary are generally peace-seeking people. The only time they will encroach on others is if their own peace is threatened. The black witches, however, are very different. The history of their existence is a long story… but they practice witchcraft forbidden within the walls of The Sanctuary. A black witch is the only kind strong enough to overpower me, when I am especially endowed with powers of the Ageless herself.”
Vivienne and Xavier had crawled closer to the bars opposite us as they listened to our conversation.
“And what now?” Vivienne asked, worry filling her violet-blue eyes.
Ibrahim heaved a sigh. Before answering, he made his way over to the other witches in our cell and began shaking them until they each woke. They sat up, stretching their limbs and looking around in confusion.
“Are any of you able to conjure your magic?” he asked.
Each of them tried to wield their powers, and each of them failed. Ibrahim turned back to face us. “It seems that this witch has managed to knock out all our powers. We’re no better than humans now. You vampires have more strength than us.”
I stared at Derek, dumbstruck. I had always thought of Ibrahim as invincible. I’d never thought the day would come when I saw him weak like this.
I gripped Derek’s hand. “But we need to find Anna,” I croaked, my throat tightening. “We might be too late, even now.”
I stood up and gripped the gate, using all the strength I had within me to try to rip it from its hinges. It wouldn’t budge an inch. The witch must have put some spell on it.
“Believe me, Sofia. I’ve tried that already,” Derek said grimly.
I looked around the dungeon at the most capable warriors of The Shade. I didn’t remember a time in the history of my being queen of The Shade when all of us were speechless at once.
Chapter 7: Caleb
After Annora made the Novak army unconscious and transported them down to one of our dungeons, she called on me and several other vampires to lock them securely inside the cells. Once we’d thrown them all into cells, Annora charmed the doors. Then she turned to me. “Bring the immune up to my quarters, I’ll be there waiting for you,” she said, and vanished.
I left the Novaks’ dungeon and made my way to the kitchen. I walked over to the trap door in the far corner, and yanked it open. Screams echoed all around me as I passed the cells. I walked past the first few cells and headed straight to the back of the dungeon.
That was when it hit me.
Why can’t I smell her blood?
The immune’s blood was so exquisite that usually I could smell it as soon as I entered the dungeon, sometimes even from the kitchen. But now, I smelled nothing but regular human blood.
My footsteps quickened. I realized when I reached the immune’s cell that my fears had been justified.
Her cell was empty.
What in the world?
I knew for a fact that she had been in this cell within the last twenty-four hours because I’d had Frieda go down and check on her.
I stood rooted to the spot, stunned as I gazed at the empty cell.
I left the dungeon and headed straight for Annora’s quarters. She stood waiting in her library. She eyed me coldly as I entered alone.
“Where is the immune?” Annora asked.
“She’s gone.” I could hardly believe the words as they came out of my own mouth.
“What do you mean, she’s gone?”
“I mean what I said. She’s not in her cell.”
Annora stalked over to me and gripped my shirt. “How could she not be there?” she hissed.
“Go see for yourself.” No sooner had I said the words than we both vanished from the spot and reappeared in the dungeon outside the immune’s cell.
Annora clutched the bars of the cell and peered inside, a gasp escaping her lips as she saw that I was telling the truth. Then she turned on me, her eyes shrouding with suspicion. “You’re behind this,” she said.
I almost laughed at how ludicrous her suggestion was. This time, it would be easier to convince her of my innocence because I had the truth on my side. “How? There are plenty of vampires who can confirm I have an alibi. Since I left your presence, I’ve been preparing them for the attack and then I was waiting on the lookout.”
“If you didn’t, then who—” She stopped short, her lips parting as realization dawned on her. “Isolde,” she muttered.
“I suspect I know who is behind this,” she said, looking me in the eye, her voice deep and dangerous. “But check the Novaks’ cells in any case, just in case one of them somehow managed to swipe her and is hiding her down there.”
Annora vanished, leaving me alone in the dark dungeon.
Chapter 8: Sofia
Over the next few hours, more vampires and witches came to until we were all awake. Each asked the same questions as they woke up. Each was left dumbstruck after they heard the answers.