Home > Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)

Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)
Author: Ella Summers

CHAPTER ONE

The Face of Death

DEATH HAD MANY faces. Sometimes it charged onto the scene, crimson cloak flapping ominously in the wind, decked out in a fanfare of fire and exploding buildings. Sometimes it stalked you from the shadows like an assassin, cold and calculating. And sometimes it sauntered up to you, shrouded in sweet innocence, and shook your hand, dazzling you with a flawless, bubblegum smile right before it stabbed you in the gut.

The Grim Reaper was of the third variety. His extraordinary talent for upheaving civilizations over the centuries had earned him that dark nickname. His real name was Alden, and he was the most powerful and dangerous mage in the world.

The Grim Reaper didn’t wear a mask. He didn’t carry a scythe. No, he came in the guise of a fifteen-year-old boy, a nonthreatening teenager who might come knocking on your door with wide eyes and a big grin as he asked you to buy sweets to support his school’s sports team. It was all a lie, of course. When the Grim Reaper came calling, he didn’t bring cupcakes and cookies. He brought death.

And if someone didn’t stop him, he would tear down the world and rebuild it in his bloody image. He would subject humanity and rule over the supernaturals as a tyrant. He would sit high on his throne made from the bones of his enemies, gilded over in the gold glitter of false promises.

“Sera,” Kai said.

Sera turned away from the suitcase she was supposed to be packing and looked at him. Today, like most days, he was wearing a pair of dark jeans, blue with a hint of a silver shimmer, and a t-shirt that fitted him like a layer of black, shimmering oil poured over his torso. He stood tall, a massive body built for one thing: to deal damage. Magic rippled across his aura, gleaming in his glossy dark hair, smoldering in his eyes like blue fire. His magic was like a live wire snapping at Sera’s magic, burning through her veins in a wild electrical river that knew only one master. It hummed a rhythm, hard and steady, like the beating of a dragon’s wings. Considering that Kai was a mage who shifted into a dragon, that was absolutely appropriate.

“Christopher and Ariana Reyes have surfaced again,” he said, his phone in his hand.

Christopher and Ariana Reyes were a mage and fairy couple, both members of the Magic Council, the governing body that ruled over the world’s supernaturals. Just days ago, they’d been kidnapped at the failed Magic Council Summit here in Munich. They hadn’t been the only ones. Two other Council members were still missing, and the Summit had been attacked more times than Sera could count. The Council had finally canceled the Summit. They were rescheduling it for San Francisco next month, but this trip still felt like a failure. The Magic Council was supposed to be powerful, unbreakable. That’s one of the reasons people were scared of them—that and the fact that they were massive assholes.

Not all of them, Amara commented inside Sera’s head.

Kai is special, Sera agreed.

Amara smirked. Don’t tell him. That shifter’s ego is already too big for his own good.

Amara was Sera’s dragon side, the other half of her. Right now, she only lived inside of Sera’s head. Yes, Sera talked to herself. No, she wasn’t crazy—well, at least not that crazy. As a Dragon Born mage, she had two sides: mage and dragon. And if she managed to grow her magic strong enough, she could give her dragon form, allowing it to split from her body and fight alongside her.

That will be epic, Amara commented.

You bet it will be.

“Sera?” Kai asked, amusement twinkling in his eyes.

“Sorry, just chatting with Amara.”

He nodded. The fact that he didn’t think she was insane was one of the reasons she loved him. He just ‘got’ her, quirks and internal dragons and all.

“Did Christopher and Ariana have anything interesting to say?” Sera asked him.

“They claim they escaped the Grim Reaper.”

Sera could feel the skepticism chiming inside his magic. “You don’t believe them.”

“No, but I have no proof. The Council’s magic detectors scanned them and they came back clean. According to the tests, they aren’t lying.”

“Machines are no substitute for a live magic Sniffer,” Sera said. Both she and Kai could sense magic. The ability, labeled with the rather unflattering term Sniffer, was a rare gift in mages.

“Even our magic has its limits, Sera. Especially when it comes to the Grim Reaper.”

When supernaturals lied, the tone of their magic changed. Some people had learned to settle their magic, to cover up the ripples of their lies, but that was a very small percentage of the supernatural population. And now Alden had changed the game. After the incident with Finn in San Francisco, Alden had adapted his tactics. He knew Sera and Kai could detect the lies in people’s magic. Since his plan involved turning supernaturals quietly, under the radar, he wasn’t having that. He had so much power that he could steady his followers’ magic, make it so they could lie even to a magic Sniffer. Alden might have been evil, but he sure as hell wasn’t stupid.

“What about the other kidnapped Council members?” Sera asked.

“Sonya the Vanquisher has not reappeared,” he replied, referring to the vampire on the Council who had been born to parents with great expectations.

“And the ghost?”

Kai shook his head. “Bart is also still missing.”

“We have to find Alden,” she said. “He’s turning people to his side right under our noses. And we don’t even know who they are.”

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