A den of tricks, p.1
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       A Den of Tricks, p.1
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         Part #54 of A Shade of Vampire series by Bella Forrest
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A Den of Tricks


  Table of Contents

  Also by Bella Forrest

  Problems reading?

  New Generation List

  Family tree

  Harper

  Avril

  Jax

  Caia

  Blaze

  Fiona

  Scarlett

  Hansa

  Heron

  Serena

  Read more by Bella Forrest

  A Shade of Vampire 54: A Den of Tricks

  Bella Forrest

  Contents

  Also by Bella Forrest

  Problems reading?

  New Generation List

  Family tree

  1. Harper

  2. Avril

  3. Jax

  4. Harper

  5. Harper

  6. Caia

  7. Blaze

  8. Fiona

  9. Fiona

  10. Harper

  11. Scarlett

  12. Harper

  13. Caia

  14. Avril

  15. Avril

  16. Harper

  17. Harper

  18. Hansa

  19. Harper

  20. Scarlett

  21. Avril

  22. Fiona

  23. Harper

  24. Fiona

  25. Avril

  26. Scarlett

  27. Harper

  28. Caia

  29. Harper

  30. Fiona

  31. Fiona

  32. Heron

  33. Avril

  34. Avril

  35. Fiona

  36. Harper

  37. Hansa

  38. Caia

  39. Harper

  40. Blaze

  41. Serena

  Read more by Bella Forrest

  Also by Bella Forrest

  HOTBLOODS

  (Brand new paranormal romance series!)

  Hotbloods (Book 1)

  Coldbloods (Book 2)

  Renegades (Book 3)

  THE GIRL WHO DARED TO THINK

  The Girl Who Dared to Think (Book 1)

  The Girl Who Dared to Stand (Book 2)

  The Girl Who Dared to Descend (Book 3)

  The Girl Who Dared to Rise (Book 4)

  The Girl Who Dared to Lead (Book 5)

  THE GENDER GAME

  (Completed series)

  The Gender Game (Book 1)

  The Gender Secret (Book 2)

  The Gender Lie (Book 3)

  The Gender War (Book 4)

  The Gender Fall (Book 5)

  The Gender Plan (Book 6)

  The Gender End (Book 7)

  A SHADE OF VAMPIRE SERIES

  Series 1: Derek & Sofia’s story

  A Shade of Vampire (Book 1)

  A Shade of Blood (Book 2)

  A Castle of Sand (Book 3)

  A Shadow of Light (Book 4)

  A Blaze of Sun (Book 5)

  A Gate of Night (Book 6)

  A Break of Day (Book 7)

  Series 2: Rose & Caleb’s story

  A Shade of Novak (Book 8)

  A Bond of Blood (Book 9)

  A Spell of Time (Book 10)

  A Chase of Prey (Book 11)

  A Shade of Doubt (Book 12)

  A Turn of Tides (Book 13)

  A Dawn of Strength (Book 14)

  A Fall of Secrets (Book 15)

  An End of Night (Book 16)

  Series 3: The Shade continues with a new hero…

  A Wind of Change (Book 17)

  A Trail of Echoes (Book 18)

  A Soldier of Shadows (Book 19)

  A Hero of Realms (Book 20)

  A Vial of Life (Book 21)

  A Fork of Paths (Book 22)

  A Flight of Souls (Book 23)

  A Bridge of Stars (Book 24)

  Series 4: A Clan of Novaks

  A Clan of Novaks (Book 25)

  A World of New (Book 26)

  A Web of Lies (Book 27)

  A Touch of Truth (Book 28)

  An Hour of Need (Book 29)

  A Game of Risk (Book 30)

  A Twist of Fates (Book 31)

  A Day of Glory (Book 32)

  Series 5: A Dawn of Guardians

  A Dawn of Guardians (Book 33)

  A Sword of Chance (Book 34)

  A Race of Trials (Book 35)

  A King of Shadow (Book 36)

  An Empire of Stones (Book 37)

  A Power of Old (Book 38)

  A Rip of Realms (Book 39)

  A Throne of Fire (Book 40)

  A Tide of War (Book 41)

  Series 6: A Gift of Three

  A Gift of Three (Book 42)

  A House of Mysteries (Book 43)

  A Tangle of Hearts (Book 44)

  A Meet of Tribes (Book 45)

  A Ride of Peril (Book 46)

  A Passage of Threats (Book 47)

  A Tip of Balance (Book 48)

  A Shield of Glass (Book 49)

  A Clash of Storms (Book 50)

  Series 7: A Call of Vampires

  A Call of Vampires (Book 51)

  A Valley of Darkness (Book 52)

  A Hunt of Fiends (Book 53)

  A Den of Tricks (Book 54)

  A SHADE OF DRAGON TRILOGY

  A Shade of Dragon 1

  A Shade of Dragon 2

  A Shade of Dragon 3

  A SHADE OF KIEV TRILOGY

  A Shade of Kiev 1

  A Shade of Kiev 2

  A Shade of Kiev 3

  THE SECRET OF SPELLSHADOW MANOR

  (Completed series)

  The Secret of Spellshadow Manor (Book 1)

  The Breaker (Book 2)

  The Chain (Book 3)

  The Keep (Book 4)

  The Test (Book 5)

  The Spell (Book 6)

  BEAUTIFUL MONSTER DUOLOGY

  Beautiful Monster 1

  Beautiful Monster 2

  DETECTIVE ERIN BOND (Adult thriller/mystery)

  Lights, Camera, GONE

  Write, Edit, KILL

  For an updated list of Bella’s books, please visit her website: www.bellaforrest.net

  Join Bella’s VIP email list and she’ll send you an email reminder as soon as her next book is out. Tap here to sign up: www.forrestbooks.com

  Copyright © 2018 by Bella Forrest

  Cover design inspired by Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations LLC

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Problems reading?

  If you experience any problems reading this ebook—such as pages skipping, etc.—it’s a Kindle glitch. Just delete the ebook from your device and re-download it, and the problem should solve itself. If not, contact Amazon’s customer support; they’re usually very helpful and efficient.

  New Generation List

  Avril (vampire): adopted daughter of Lucas and biological daughter of Marion.

  Blaze (fire dragon): son of fire dragons Heath and Athena.

  Caia (part fae/human): daughter of Grace and Lawrence.

  Fiona (vampire): daughter of Benedict (son of Rose and Caleb) and Yelena.

  Harper (sentry/vampire): daughter of Hazel and Tejus.

  Scarlett (vampire): daughter of Jeramiah (son of Lucas Novak) and Pippa (daughter of Cameron Hendry).

  Family tree

  If you’d like to check out the Novaks’ family tree, visit: www.forrestbooks.com/tree

  Harper

  (Daughter of Hazel & Tejus)

  It didn’t take long for the Correction Officers to clear out the top level of Azure Heights, in the wake of the horrendous attac
k on the Five Lords’ mansions. There were many questions left unanswered, but the few things we knew were enough to get us through the night and one step closer to cracking the mystery surrounding the Exiled Maras’ tormented existence on Neraka.

  Darius of House Xunn was dead. That was a fact. His daughter, Rewa, was in Vincent’s care at the White Star Hotel on the level below. Dozens of Imen and Maras from all five Houses had been killed in the two explosions that tore into the Lords’ mansions. The main blast came from House Xunn. The second detonation took place shortly afterward, but we weren’t sure of its origin. The daemons were the most likely culprits. They were far better organized than we’d initially given them credit for, and they were in possession of powerful swamp witch magic. They roamed through the Valley of Screams, and they consumed souls.

  That was all that we knew for sure, along with the fact that the interplanetary travel spell no longer worked, as evidenced by Avril’s attempt and near-death experience less than an hour earlier. We had no way of reaching out to Calliope, and our only hope rested in GASP sending reinforcements, since they’d most likely realized that Telluris wasn’t working, either. The sooner, the better, based on what was going on here.

  They should’ve been here by now…

  My biggest fear was that anyone trying to cross the asteroid belt into Neraka would experience the same as Avril when we tried to send her out. We must have all been thinking it, but none of us had the courage to voice it. We had enough on our plates as it was.

  Everything else weighed heavy with question marks. Even the trust we’d put into the Exiled Maras was left on shaky ground, mainly because they were the only possible connection that the daemons could’ve had to swamp witch magic.

  I glanced around, watching as Correction Officers carried the last bodies away—they were all going to the fourth floor, where the funeral home servants awaited, to begin preparations for the next day. There was going to be a mass burial, and we were going to add Minah’s body to it, too.

  Patrik, Caia, Blaze, and Fiona were downstairs in the infirmary, preparing for their missions. Patrik had charm satchels to prepare, which Blaze and Caia would take into the underground prison and place in the north, south, west, and east walls, expanding the Druid’s original protection spell. They were also going to repaint the red symbols here on the top floor, given that everything I’d painted before had come down with the walls. They could easily repaint them on four trees facing each direction around the mansion. Fiona was going to use the invisibility spell and sneak into the prison with Blaze and Caia. Her task was to find and rescue Demios—we hoped that, once we freed him, Arrah would be more willing to speak up about the Exiled Maras. There were things they weren’t telling us, information that Arrah wouldn’t disclose with her brother in prison.

  Jax, Hansa, Scarlett, Avril, Heron, and I stayed on the top level with the remaining Lords. We had plenty to talk about—though I had a feeling they wouldn’t be easy to talk to. They were all dazed and grieving.

  “How did the daemons get their claws on swamp witch magic?” Jax was the first to speak up after the level was cleared and Correction Officers were stationed at the bottom of the staircase, to keep everyone away.

  The Lords didn’t seem all that surprised by the question, but they looked genuinely baffled as they slowly shook their heads.

  “I don’t know,” Emilian replied. “Vincent told us about your discoveries in the Valley of Screams, but… but it doesn’t make any sense.”

  “You’re going to have to give us more to go on here, because right now you look like the source of swamp witch magic for the daemons. And that makes no damn sense, since they’re the ones hunting and killing you off, one by one,” Jax said, crossing his arms over his chest.

  “You don’t understand.” Emilian raised his arms in a defensive gesture. “We don’t know. The swamp witch from that Druid delegation never gave us an invisibility spell. The only potent magic we have is the interplanetary spell! Everything else—and by that, I mean literally five small spells—is just charms we use to support the growth of our crops and animals… to preserve our blood resources and to generally make our lives easier.”

  We stared at each other for a long moment, as Avril used her sharp sense of smell to notice changes in the Lords’ behavior. I could tell, from the way her nostrils flared and her head moved, that she was trying to pick up on the subtle chemical fluctuations that might signal deception. Judging by the faint frown on her face, there wasn’t anything of use.

  “That’s not a good answer, I’ll be honest.” Hansa sighed. “Because that leaves us with a very unpleasant question still hanging over our heads: who gave swamp witch magic to the daemons?”

  “It’s not something you simply come across,” Jax added. “Could there have been a second delegation to Neraka, before your people were exiled here, perhaps? And the daemons got a hold of it, somehow?”

  “There’s no way of knowing for sure.” Farrah shrugged, wiping the soot from her face with a silken handkerchief she kept in her dress pocket.

  “What are the odds?” Emilian shook his head. “I… I don’t know. I’m honestly baffled. And terrified, because that means the daemons are far more powerful than we thought. Although, to be fair, we know a lot more about our enemy today than we did four nights ago, thanks to you.”

  He gave us an appreciative nod—a gesture we all briefly returned.

  “They targeted Darius, but used enough explosive to kill as many of us as possible,” Emilian continued, gazing at the remains of House Xunn. Sadness drew his eyebrows into a frown. “They must have known about the dinner party at his place. Maybe they were looking to send us a message after your performance in the Valley of Screams.”

  “Retaliation, you mean,” I replied, while mentally going over the events. The timeline didn’t exactly work, since this had all happened in the same day. “They would’ve needed time to plan. To come here and plant the explosive, not long after we returned. They would’ve had to know about the dinner party, too, if they were going for maximum casualties. I’m not sure that works…”

  “What if they didn’t know? What if they just wanted to strike us hard and fast, and Darius’s house was the most convenient target?” Jax offered an opposing argument that actually made more sense.

  “That would be swift retribution,” Rowan said, gazing out into the distance, where the gorges rose over the plain, black giants beneath the night sky through which the three moons traveled lazily. “Either way, this was meant to send us a message. To break us down.”

  “Like that will ever happen,” Farrah scoffed, then glanced over her shoulder, a pained expression turning the corners of her mouth downward as she analyzed from afar what was left of her mansion.

  “We cannot let them divide us,” Emilian concluded. “We cannot let them keep hurting us and taking our loved ones. They’ve become far too brazen. This must stop.”

  “We should keep our Correction Officers focused on the city’s protection,” Caspian interjected. “I’m not comfortable with sending them out to fight these fiends, not when there aren’t that many of us to begin with.”

  “I hate it!” Farrah grumbled. “It makes me feel so powerless, when all I want to do is go out there and show them what we’re made of!”

  “Lord Kifo has a point. And we’re doing our best here, too,” Jax replied, “but until more GASP teams arrive, there isn’t much we can do in terms of retaliation, since we don’t know exactly how many daemons there are. But what we can do is increase the protections on the city and make sure that these horned monsters don’t get away with so many murders. We’ve already taken many of them down. We’ll keep doing it until Calliope sends us backup.”

  Jax was right. We didn’t have enough supernatural power to tackle an entire nation of these fiends. I mean, sure, we had one dragon, but that didn’t suffice before thousands of daemons. We needed the rest of Blaze’s clan. Hell, we could use some ice dragons, too. More Druids, and
some witches. Perhaps even Viola, if the Daughters of Eritopia found themselves willing to lend Neraka a hand.

  But we didn’t have them, for the time being. We only had ourselves, and a city full of innocent people to protect.

  Avril

  (Daughter of Lucas & Marion)

  I left the conversation to sniff out any clues around the remains of the mansions, as the Lords and Jax were already moving on to logistical details that I could be briefed on later. To me it was more important to uncover any evidence that could be traced back to the culprits behind this attack, and the rest of my team agreed.

  The houses had been mostly torn down, with fragments of walls and support pillars still standing here and there. The bodies had all been recovered, and I was left with a large number of piles consisting mostly of burnt wood, ashes, and rubble. My olfactory sense was bombarded with a base note of death and charred flesh, something akin to a barbecue gone wrong, and it broke my heart.

  Nevertheless, I had to focus. Closing my eyes as I stood in the middle of what had, until earlier, been the residence of House Xunn, I homed in on the other, more elusive scents. Heron was somewhere nearby, looking through the rubble near the center of the first explosion for anything that could help us understand what kind of explosives were used.

  I caught a whiff of something sharp and heavy, and it scratched at the back of my throat like charcoal powder. It was different from everything else I’d identified so far as common household items, including soaps and cooking oils. I followed the trail and found myself standing in front of Heron. He pulled out a thin stick of what looked like melted plastic.

 
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