I was running out of time. Most of the crowd had made their way in. I hurried my steps toward the large archway. A man, also dressed in a cloak and mask, was closing two exceptionally large, ornate wooden doors about ten feet high.

I spoke up. "Wait, wait. I'm coming."

The man swung the door open.

I put on my best smile, remembering a second later that I was wearing a mask. "I'm sorry, I had a problem with my shoe."

The man nodded without any sign of suspicion, and I slid by him.

I was finally inside. Now what? They were holding Darla somewhere inside, but where?

I made my way down a hallway and into a big room. Mirrors covered one of the walls. The floor was wood, but not any kind I had seen before. Different-colored, exotic-looking wood panels created elaborate patterns and designs across the surface of the floor. Three large, crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling.

I expected to see a crowd, but the space was empty. I moved across the room and through another set of doors. This hallway was smaller than the last and entirely red: red paint covered the walls and ceiling, and red carpeting lay on the floors. Hues of red, yellows, and oranges covered the half-dozen paintings on the walls. I made my way down the hall, and at the end I stopped in front of another large door.

I was reaching for the doorknob when I felt a chill running across my arms. There was another breeze across my face and a whisper, and I knew I wasn't alone.

I felt a tug on the cloak and then another, and the words "This way" echoed through my mind. It sounded like Sarah's voice. It was then I noticed the large red and gold tapestry hanging on the wall to my right.

I walked over to the tapestry. This way? There was no door, at least not one I could see. I was starting to turn away when something pushed hard against my back and I stumbled forward. I reached out to catch myself, but instead of falling against the wall, I fell through the tapestry.

I came down hard on my knees on a stone floor. A secret room? I looked around. It wasn't a room, but another hallway. This one was barely wide enough for a single body to move through. Light flickered from somewhere down at the other end. I got to my feet and made my way down the small passageway. My hands trailed against the cold stone wall as I walked. The passage slowly opened up into a small room that was only a few feet long, and on the other side was a gray stone staircase winding into a spiral, heading down. Old-fashioned light fixtures lit the walls, and I could see light shining up from wherever the staircase led.

So far I hadn't met anyone. No one had demanded to know where I was going, and up until this point, if I ran across someone, I could claim to be lost. But if I came across someone now, how would I explain my descent through the dark, winding staircase?

I held my breath as I made my way down the stairs. I got lucky—there was no one to greet me at the bottom. I now stood in a hallway that ran in two directions.

I was looking right and left, trying to decide which way to go, when I heard Sarah's voice again. "Close," she said. Pieces of my hair gently lifted on the left side of my head. Decision made. I turned left and started down the hall.

I don't know why I stopped—no voice sounded this time, no invisible hands were guiding me. Doors lined the hallway, but for some reason one particular doorway brought me to a dead halt. I tried the doorknob. It turned easily enough, but the door still wouldn't open. Looking up, I saw a padlock and hasp near the top of the door. I put my ear to the thick wood—there was a noise. Another. Muted voices on the other side?

Awakening, Dark Rituals Book 1 - Wattpad Featured (Full book available)Read this story for FREE!