"Do you know what happens to little kids when they sneak into places they don't belong, like vermin entering someone's home?" The librarian witch said, with the name Fauna on the name badge that dropped to the floor along with the rest of her clothes.

"We're not little kids anymore," Eric corrected her, nudging Annabeth to go down the stairs first.

"Compared to my age, you're just a baby," Fauna laughed with a cruel smile. "I love babies."

Something told Eric they needed to leave now. Annabeth scarpered down the steps from the reception area and he quickly followed. He flew down them, hearing Fauna's laugh from behind. It was a wicked cackle.

"Though you run, a flesh-bound tease, you won't get far when the ground will freeze." It sounded like a spell. Annabeth had just barrelled away from the stairs and Eric set one foot on the ground floor when it froze over.

He slipped harshly and banged his head on the steps behind him. Annabeth fell on her side, not anticipating the sudden magic that spread along the floor. The ice travelled quickly, spreading up the Greek columns and reaching the balconies above. The atriums groaned when the walls and bookshelves turned to ice. The temperature dropped to subfreezing.

The witch hovered over Eric as he tried to get up. She floated in the air, her face inches from his. "Something tells me this won't be the first time today you encounter the cold." She shrieked.

Eric grabbed her face. It felt slimy in his palm. With surprising brute strength, he managed to force her backwards, despite her power of flight.

She flew through the air, shaking to keep herself in control as she waved her arms. Eric used the steps to push himself up. The reception desk was untouched by the ice. He wanted to stay on solid ground and return up the steps, but he knew he had to escape the angry witch. She yelled out in frustration as she got her bearings, just as Eric managed to skid over to Annabeth.

He helped her up. "Come on, we need to distract her. How do you kill a witch?"

"It's not easy," Annabeth told him, panting in pain. "You have to drive something sharp into her chest. You have to sever the black heart that beats inside. Only then can she be vanquished."

"You know this place pretty well," Eric noted while rushing her into one of the nooks that glistened blue, barely dodging a ball of ice thrown by the witch. "Where will we find something sharp enough to drive into her heart?"

Annabeth thought for a moment. "On the third floor, there's a sort of exhibit for mythological objects in literature. The dagger from Macbeth is among the objects."

"Third floor, got it," Eric said in a determined tone. He helped Annabeth skate out of the nook. He looked up to see the ice was still spreading, reaching the skylight, completely freezing the inside of the library.

They watched as Fauna lowered herself onto the ice. The ground around her shone magnificently with every step she took. "My dominion over ice will not allow you both to live longer than five minutes. I shall have my fun with you, as my sisters command it."

Eric looked around to find the nearest, and safest, spiral staircase to ascend; the elevators were out of the question. He didn't know how he and Annabeth were going to climb them in their condition, but it was their only option.

"Sisters, ay?" Eric said to Fauna, skating away from Annabeth so they could split up. Annabeth was initially confused by their separation but soon followed his lead. "Are they as ugly as you, or were you the only one to get a face like that? There's always one in the family, right?"

The fury in the witch bubbled over like a cauldron with one too many ingredients. "Fool. We sisters are not of blood relation, but of a blood pact with the Devil. You have so much to learn about the ways of witches. Your stupidity astounds me, but then again, someone with more muscle than brains is sure to be hollow in the head."

Ashes of the Innocent (Abyssal Sanctuary #2)Read this story for FREE!