“Why don’t we split-up?” Eloisa suggested. “We can cover more ground that way. It won’t take Phillips long to realise that you two are missing – then the Vampyrus will come looking.”

“We’re not splitting-up!” Potter snapped.

Placing a hand on his arm, I looked at him and said, “She’s right, Potter. If we’re going to save our friends, we should split-up.”

“No!” Potter shouted. “It’s not safe.”

Then pulling him close so that we were almost toe to toe, I said, “Kayla and Isidor are the only friends that we’ve got left. We can’t afford to loose them like we have Luke and Murphy.”

Potter looked at me as if he was about to say something, but then changed his mind.

“What’s it to be?” Seth said. “Are we saving your friends or not?”

Handing me Isidor’s Crossbow, Potter said, “There’s only one stake in the chamber.”

“Well, let’s just hope that I don’t bump into more than one vampire then,” I half smiled at him.

“It’s not for killing vampires,” he said, his voice full of dread. “It’s for you – just incase you…”

I knew what he meant, but before I could say anything, he had gone running up the tunnel away from me.


“Meet us back here in five minutes,” Seth told me. “We don’t have longer than that.”

“But five minutes isn’t -” I started to protest.

“Five minutes…or Eloisa and I go without you!” Then they split, Seth taking one tunnel and Eloisa another.

I watched them disappear into the darkness, then turning, I raced away in search of Kayla and Isidor. As I navigated the maze of tunnels, I realised that Jack Seth had been telling the truth about one thing, the tunnels were a vast network of interweaving and connecting roads. As I raced deeper and deeper into the darkness, my ability to see helped to guide my way. I was just about to give up and head back to the crossroads, when I heard a voice calling in the distance.

Just like my dream, the voice was echoing back down the passageway, as whoever it was called out “Help me! Help me!” Knowing that I didn’t have long before I started to head back, I ran as fast and as hard as I could down the tunnel. Through the darkness, I could see a doorway set into the wall at the end of it. The door had a small square hatch, and pulling it open, I stared into the room. There was a figure in the corner, crouched down by the wall. Their face was hidden by their hands and they rocked back and forth as if going mad.

“Help me! Help me!” this person kept saying over and over again.

Pressing my face close to the hole, I said, “Kayla, is that you?”

Almost at once, the figure stopped rocking forwards and peered up at me. With my heart racing with joy and a hard lump filling the back of my throat, I gasped, “Kayla, is that really you?”

Then racing towards the hatch in the door, Kayla screamed, “Kiera! Kiera!”

Kayla shoved one hand through the hatch and grabbed for me. Taking hold of it, I pressed it against my cheek, and unlike the girl in the bedroom at the monastery, Kayla’s skin felt warm, as if life flowed through it. But was that enough? Was this really Kayla or one of those things? I needed to know, but how?

Then as I looked into her desperate eyes, I said, “What’s your favorite song?”

“What?” she mumbled. “What do you mean? Just find a way of getting me out of here, Kiera.”

“What’s your favorite song?” I asked her again, as I searched her eyes with mine, looking for any sign that might give her away.

“Rocket Man!” she screamed! “Rocket Man, by Elton John! What’s wrong with you Kiera! Just let me out of here!”

That was all the proof I needed, and my heart lept in my chest. I’d found her! Then, as sudden as being struck by lightning, those flash-bulbs exploded inside my head. White, blinding light searing into my brain. And in that light, I was in my dream – vision – again. I was back in that corridor again, with the doorway at the end of it. It was then that I realised that it was this corridor that I’d seen in my nightmare, not the one in the monastery. I knew that it was this one – the one that I now stood in beneath the mountains, because in my dream I’d seen something huge and covered in bristling black hair. Even though I had my eyes closed and my mind’s eye was being blinded by light, I knew that if I opened them and turned around, I would see…

…a dribbling Vampyrus came towards me.

“Do something, Kiera!” Kayla shouted from beyond the locked doorway. Raising the crossbow, I aimed it at the Vampyrus’ head. It lumbered towards me out of the dark, its red mouth opening and fangs spraying drool up the walls of the tunnel. Squeezing down on the trigger, the wooden bolt whisked from the end of the crossbow and buried itself into the fleshy lump of skin between its eyes. The Vampyrus shot backwards up the tunnel and collided into something. Screwing-up my eyes, I looked through the darkness to see several more Vampyrus racing towards me.

“Kiera!” Kayla screamed from behind me.

But I had nowhere to go. The door to Kayla’s cell was locked and there were no other passageways leading off this section of the tunnel. I turned and faced her. Kayla’s eyes were brimming with fear as she looked at what approached out of the darkness behind me. Taking hold of her hand, I said, “I’m sorry, Kayla.”

Then suddenly, I was being dragged from behind, back up the tunnel and away from her. I could feel the Vampyrus’ claws digging into me as I was carried away. With my heart thumping in my chest, I watched Kayla’s pale face staring back at me through the hatch.

“Kiera!” she cried, waving her hand through the hole in the door as if trying to reach for me.

Within moments, I had lost sight of her and all I could hear over the sound of the snarling Vampyrus was her calling for me. They carried me back to the crossroads where I had last seen Potter, Seth, and Eloisa. And as we reached it, I glanced round to see the three of them racing down the tunnel towards me. Seeing them, my heart lept into my throat.

“Potter!” I screamed.

He raced towards me, but several of the Vampyrus broke free and went to meet him. Knowing that this was my last chance of escape, I kicked, screamed, and punched at the creatures that held me. But there were too many and they were too strong. Through the mass of arms and black wings that enveloped me, I saw Potter slashing away at the Vampyrus as he fought desperately to make his way up the tunnel towards me. I couldn’t see Isidor amongst them, and I knew that like I’d been unable to rescue Kayla, they had been unable to rescue Isidor.

“Potter!” I screamed again, but one of the Vampyrus that had hold of me clamped its huge claw over my mouth. Over the tops of its fingers, I watched Seth and Eloisa come forward and pull Potter back down the corridor. They knew that Potter would never reach me, for every one of the Vampyrus that he slaughtered with his hands, several more appeared in their place.

Looking back one last time, our eyes met and he roared, “Kiera, I’ll come back for you!”

Then he was gone, racing away from me down the tunnel with Seth and Eloisa beside him. I closed my eyes and prayed that he got away.

Chapter Thirty-One

The Vampyrus dragged me back to my cell, and as they clawed and prodded me through the doorway, their thick black hair felt rough against my skin. They slammed the door closed, the sound of it crashing in its frame rattling along the tunnel.

“Let me out of here!” I demanded, thumping my fists against the iron door. I stood and hammered away, until my arms ached and I was exhausted. All I could think about was Potter getting away from here.

With my hands hurting, I crossed the cell and slumped against the wall. The burning torch in the corner cast long shadows, and as I looked into them, I noticed I was not alone. There was someone else – and they were hiding.

“Who’s there?” I asked, pulling myself up, staring into the darkness. As I tried to see through the shadows, the figure moved and I caught a glimpse of who it was looking back at me.

“Mum?” I whispered in disbelief. “Is it really you?”

My mother stepped from the corner of the room and smiled. But I could see that her smile wasn’t warm – but cold and cruel. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help myself and I rushed forward and threw my arms about her.

“Mum!” I cried. “What’s going on?”

But she didn’t hug me back, her arms stayed behind her. There was no warmth, kindness, or love. It felt as if I were hugging a statue. Loosening my arms from about her, I kissed her gently on the cheek, but she turned her head away from me, and that hurt more than anything. My mum and I had been so close once – inseparable - and her sudden disappearance three years ago had broken my heart.

Pulling away, I looked into her eyes and they were no longer hazel like mine but black and dead-looking. It was like she hadn’t a soul. I could see nothing in her.

“Mum?” I whispered, tears starting to spill onto my cheeks.

“Don’t call me that,” she said, and her voice was flat and uncaring.

“But you are my mum, aren’t you?” After everything I’d seen and heard recently, I needed to know.

She looked away momentarily, and then turned back to face me, her features hard as if chipped from marble. It was a look that I had never seen upon her before. “I stopped being your mother the day I was baptised in the crypt beneath St. Mary’s church in The Ragged Cove.”

Her words hurt me so much, I felt like crying out in pain. “Mum, what are you talking about?”

Although her face was as white as paper, to me she was still the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. She looked at me and said, “When I arrived in The Ragged Cove, I had every intention of investigating the murders that had taken place there. Let’s be honest, Murphy and his sidekick Potter weren’t the sharpest tools in the box. Luke showed some investigative qualities so I crewed myself with him. I hadn’t been in the Cove long when we were called to our first crime scene. Straightaway I knew it was the work of Vampyrus that had turned – let me see? Bad? That’s what I’d always been led to believe. The Vampyrus that drank human blood were bad! The victim was a young girl,” my mother said, and gave me that cruel smile again.

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