The Witch Queen
The Witch Queen
RIte World 2: Rite of the Vampire 2
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- Forced Proximity
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A witch with a deadly task. A vampire trying to save his coven. And a terrible challenge that will drive them apart…
When Drake left me behind, I tried to follow him back into danger. But before I could, Princess Morda of the Silverblood found me.Now I’m back at my coven, viewed as a hero for succeeding in my suicide mission. Our enemies have grown restless, and since my coven is the only one without a Queen, we’ve become targets.But Morda has a sadistic plan… one I’m forced to be a part of.
I’m trying to change the supernatural world. But change doesn’t come without a hard fight.I’m struggling with the loss of my true love and suffering from grief beyond imagining. Yet I have no time to be weak. Traitors are around every corner, and if I make one wrong mistake, it’ll be my last.A war is coming. Thea and I both have key parts to play… if we survive.
An exhilarating and dark paranormal romance novel, The Witch Queen is a dazzling new adult fantasy featuring an enigmatic vampire prince and a resilient witch. Fans of A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest and The Vampire Diaries will become addicted to this series!
Intro into Chapter One
Intro into Chapter One
This was worse than a nightmare.
The bedroom Tack had taken me to wasn’t as big and fancy as the one I had had at the Nightmist coven or at DuMoir Castle, but it was still bigger than my old bedroom in Forest Creek. It reminded of a hotel room—a longish entrance hall with a built-in closet and door to a bathroom, then a rectangular space with a queen bed with white bedding, two nightstands flanking the bed, paintings of random landscapes decorating the walls, a dresser with mirror lining the wall opposite the bed, and an armchair in the corner by the window.
My first instinct once I was left alone was to race to the window for two things: to find out where I was and to check if I could scale down it.
When I pulled back the heavy curtains, bright light greeted me. It was probably the middle of the day, though I couldn’t see the sun from here.
I was on the second floor and tall trees surrounded the building. We were in the middle of a forest? I didn’t know why, but I thought the warlocks would be hiding in a cave or something equally dark, evil, and creepy.
I couldn’t see much from the building. However, the windowsill was made of long, thick logs. After unlatching the window, I shoved against the edge; it didn’t budge. I had been expecting that. I snatched the metal lamp from the nightstand, yanking the plug from the wall outlet, and threw it at the window.
The lamp thumped against the glass with a crystalline sound. Lamp and shattered light bulb fell on the carpeted floor. The window remained intact—not even a crack. With a roar of frustration, I snatched the lamp from the floor and smashed it against the window repeatedly.
Panting for breath, I stared at the damn window. Was it enchanted?
I called my magic, throwing a bolt at the center of the pane. It ricocheted off the glass. With a shriek of surprise, I ducked, covering my head with my arms as the bolt ricocheted off the walls, ceiling, and floor, and finally fizzled out when it struck one of the paintings, knocking it off the wall.
Burn marks on the walls scorched the places the bolt had hit, but the damn window wouldn't break.
A knock came from the door. I heard the click as someone unlocked it and pushed it open. Tack came in, holding a wooden tray with food.
He looked at the walls, the lamp and the painting on the floor. “The room is warded. You can’t break the window or open it. Don’t waste your time trying.” He placed the tray on the dresser. “Now, eat, witch. You’ll need your strength later.”
I opened my mouth but closed it again. What would I say? Insult him? Demand he let me go? Cry that I wouldn’t eat? I held no power in this situation.
Without another glance at me, Tack walked away, the lock slipping into place behind him.
A heavy feeling settled in my chest, my shoulders sagging in defeat.
Despair crept over me in a wave, choking me with sadness and frustration. The warlocks had kidnapped me; I was locked in a warded room without any chance of escaping.
And Killian was at DuMoir Castle.
How long had it been since I was taken? Had he noticed my absence? Would he come for me?
Tears brimmed in my eyes.
Killian wouldn’t know where to look, and everyone had assumed for twenty years that he had been killed or left. Would he believe the same? That I had left him?
I couldn’t sit here, waiting for a miracle.
I wiped the tears from my eyes and inhaled deeply.
I would escape from here.
* * *
My best chance of escape was to go with the flow for now to learn everything about this place and the warlocks’ habits.
I nibbled on the sandwich and drank the juice that had been brought to me. I found clean sweatpants, leggings, sweaters, jackets, and dresses in the closet—all black or dark gray, and not exactly my size. I took a quick shower and put on leggings with a long sweatshirt.
Then I waited.
Bates unlocked my door, but he didn’t come in. “Follow me,” was all he said.
I pretended to be a little reluctant but followed him out of the bedroom. As we walked through the hallway, I noticed the place looked like a mansion. A wide hallway with doors lining the dark walls, and at the end, an L-shaped staircase. We went down, but I saw there was another flight going up. So there were at least three levels to this house. The staircase opened into a large foyer and just beyond it, a living area furnished with couches, rugs, a fireplace, and a TV.
Bates gestured for me to follow him into a side hallway. This one had only three doors. One door was open—a half bath. The other two doors were closed. Bates opened one and jerked his head.
I stepped through and halted.
In a normal house, this would have been a spare guest room or an office, but it was a vast room with dark walls, stone floors, and a high ceiling.
A large white circle with fifteen points was drawn on the floor in the center of the room. Two of those points were occupied by black boxes.
I felt the blood rushing from my face.
Were these Killian’s and Twyla’s boxes? Had they stolen the boxes when they kidnapped me? I didn’t feel a pull toward them.
“Are those …?” I couldn’t say it.
Just outside the circle, Eldon, Tack, and Damien heard me. They stopped talking among themselves and turned to me.
“The boxes you found and gave to the vampires?” Eldon asked, his voice hard. “No. We couldn’t get those boxes … yet.”
I didn’t know if that was a good or a bad answer. Because then it meant … “You’ve found two other boxes.”
Damien nodded. “Pretty and clever. A rare combo.”
A whip of rage slashed through me. I held on to it with both hands, even as it burned my skin. In here, it would be better to feed my rage and anger than to let my fear show.
Eldon’s brow furrowed. “I heard you tried to break out of your bedroom by breaking the window. I thought I told you there’s no way to escape this place.”
That was what they wanted me to believe. Nothing was impossible. I had to play this right.
“You didn’t think I would just accept my fate,” I said.
Eldon looked amused with my answer. “Truth be told, no, but the sooner you do, the less unpleasant your stay here will be.”
The sooner I accepted my fate, or pretended to, the sooner I would be able to find a way out of here.
I had to. I wasn’t naive. I knew what they wanted with me. Why I was here.
My gaze shifted to the boxes in the circle.
Eldon followed my line of sight. “Are you ready to comply, witch?”
I swallowed. He wanted me to open the boxes. “What if I refuse?”
The warlock rolled his eyes. “Must we go through this again? You’ll only make things more difficult, and painful, for yourself.”
Shit. But opening those boxes? Well, perhaps if they had supernaturals inside like Killian and Twyla, then I could ask for help. We could flee this place. We had done something similar with the Nightmist coven.
I frowned. If I agreed immediately, they would know I was up to something. Taking a step back, I shook my head. “I won’t do it.”
Bates stepped closer to me, Tack moved around the circle, and Damien gave me a predatory grin.
“Who says we’re giving you a choice?” Eldon asked.
I turned to leave the room, but Bates stood in my way. A second later, Tack had his hand around my upper arm. I threw my weight back while they dragged me to the center of the circle.
Tack and Bates held my arms, keeping me upright, and Damien stood behind me, in case I tried to run again. Eldon picked up a box as they brought me forward. His lips curled in a wicked grin as he extended the box to me.
I stared at it and a spark of apprehension flickered through me. What if the box contained a wolf shifter and it pounced on me and ripped my throat before I could say anything?
This time, when Tack moved his hand to my wrist and pulled my arm straight in front of me, I did resist for real.
Eldon pushed the box into my hand.
My fingers brushed against the smooth stone, and instantly, the box changed. Ridges appeared on its surface, and a bright light came from them. The box shook and Eldon dropped it. It opened and smoke came out.
We all stepped back.
The smoke dissipated … and there was no one.
“It’s one of the empty boxes,” I muttered, stunned. I knew there were more empty boxes out there than ones serving as a prison for supernaturals, but I didn’t really consider them until now.
Eldon groaned. “It’s okay. We have another one here.” He picked up the next box and offered it to me.
This time, Tack didn’t have to force my hand forward. A slight tug did the trick. I reached for it, taking the box from Eldon. The ridges and light appeared. The box shook so hard, I dropped it. It fell to the floor and opened, smoke rising from within.
And once more, no one came from inside.
I didn’t know if I should sigh in relief or shock.
Eldon cursed under his breath. “Empty boxes.”
“They won’t be empty for long,” Tack said. He and Bates had let me go but hadn’t moved away. “I heard from Chess. They located an angel and a goblin.”
I stared at him. They hadn’t only gotten me and were after the boxes. They were also securing more supernaturals to fill the empty boxes. Even though I had known about their plan, my brain was still putting two and two together.
Instead of dread for what was to come, I felt a little giddy. A small grin adorned my lips.
Tack glared at me. “What are you smiling about?”
“Because you only have two boxes. Two others are practically unattainable, and the remaining eleven are lost.”
“Not for long.” Eldon walked to a long, narrow counter on the side of the room. From among loose pages, quills, ink, and some empty vials, he picked up another box, smaller and squarer. “The prototype. The first box Soren and Acalla made when creating the spell. It can track the other boxes.” He tilted his head, his eyes on me. “That’s how we found you and your boxes.”
“That’s how we found these two.” Damien gestured to the floor.
“And that’s how we’ll find all of them,” Tack said.
* * *
I had told myself I would stay and do what they wanted, for now, but I still couldn’t sit in my bedroom and wait. My brain kept coming up with ideas of how to escape. Their plan was more advanced than I expected. They had me. They had two other boxes, were securing supernaturals to put into them, and had a way of locating more boxes.
I needed to find a way to stop them.
I dressed in thick leggings, a dark sweater, and boots. I tied my hair in a ponytail. I halted before the locked door and rolled my shoulders. I closed my eyes and focused, calling my magic. Now that my aunt had broken the blood promise, an avalanche of power answered, filling my veins, pushing against my skin, asking for release. I gritted my teeth, trying to control it. I didn’t have experience with this much power, but if I exploded in a ball of magic right now, I didn’t care, as long as it helped me get out of here.
In my mind, I visualized the lock and poured my magic into it. I imagined myself using a key and unlocking the door. A click sounded and I opened my eyes. Had it worked? Apprehensive, I reached for the door and turned the knob.
The door opened.
I wanted to cheer, but pressed my lips tight and contained my excitement. I would celebrate once I was away from here, safe and sound.
I would celebrate once I was back with Killian.
My heart squeezed. He was probably going crazy right now. After losing his parents, his sister, and then his brother, losing me must be the blow that either brought him to his knees, or pushed him over the edge.
I shook my head and pushed thoughts of Killian from my mind. Getting distracted with my distress and longing would only make things harder.
I tiptoed out of my bedroom and glanced side to side. The corridor was empty and quiet. Had all the warlocks gone to bed?
I made my way through the corridor toward the staircase, descending to the front door.
It was way too easy.
It should have made me worried, but I didn’t dare overthink this.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t just leave. I turned right before the front door and took the hallway that led to the room where the warlocks had shown me the boxes, what I was calling the summoning room in my head.
Holding my breath, I entered the room. A thin strip of moonlight came from a rectangular window near the ceiling. The darkness gave me pause, but I steeled myself and pushed through my fear. Once more, I told myself: anger over fear. So I held on to anger and stepped farther into the room. The boxes were in the same place, in their corners of the large circle. And the prototype was on the narrow table along the sidewall.
Walking around the circle, I went to the table. I fished the small hand towel I had grabbed from my bathroom, wrapped it around the box, and picked it up in my arms. I didn’t know if the prototype would react to my touch the same way as the others did, but I wouldn’t take risks.
I started for the door, then paused. I glanced at the two empty boxes. No, I didn’t need to take those too. They were empty and without me, the warlocks wouldn’t be able to lock supernaturals inside them.
I only needed to take the prototype, since they used it to track the other boxes. That was what I wanted to stop.
With the box secured in my arms, I tiptoed to the door.
It closed with a resounding click. I gasped and stepped back, my heart hammering in my chest.
Four figures emerged from the corners of the rooms.
What the …
Eldon, Tack, Damien, and Bates stalked toward me, their eyes shining dark in the dim light.
“Now, what do we have here?” Eldon asked. The overhead lights turned on and I had to close my eyes for a moment. “A witch trying to steal the boxes and escape? Who would have thought of that?”
I hugged the box and fumed at him, once more choosing anger over fear. “What did you think I would do? Sit and smile?”
Eldon let out a hollow laugh. “We’re here, aren’t we?”
I bristled. Damn it. I had been so close. If only I had left the prototype behind, I could have already been half a mile away. No, there was no way I could leave without it.
I would have to find another way.
Tack extended his hand to me. “Give me the box, witch.”
I hugged the box tighter. “Make me.”
Eldon’s lips peeled back. “With pleasure.” He twisted his hand.
Pain started deep in my gut and spread through my veins. I gasped and fell to my knees. The box rolled from my arms as I pressed a hand over my stomach. Eldon moved his hands and the pain flared up. Fire licked my insides, boiling my blood, melting my organs, frying my brain. I curled on the floor in front of them, but all I could think about was the pain.
A few seconds later, Eldon lowered his hand.
The pain subsided, but didn’t go away, at least not yet. I inhaled deeply, trying to calm my racing heart, my shaking limbs.
Tack picked up the prototype box and walked away with it.
Eldon crouched down beside me. “Remember this, witch. The potion that runs through your veins prevents you from using your magic against us? It also allows me to control you. To hurt you.”
Enraged tears brimmed in my eyes. So, even if I was able to run, Eldon could flick his hands and inflict pain, making it impossible for me to move.
“Like I said before,” he continued, his wicked smile still splitting his face. “You have no way out of here.”