Home > Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)(14)

Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)(14)
Author: Ella Summers

“Yes. And you’re ok?”

Alex glanced at the dead bodies, flinching. She’d recently been plagued with visions, ones that had featured her setting off on mad killing sprees. From the look on her face, she was reliving those nightmares right now. Alex didn’t want to be that person—that monster—and she’d confided in Sera that she feared she was headed there anyway.

Sera knew her sister, and she wasn’t a monster. Beneath her tough and reckless exterior, she had a kind and caring soul. Yes, she could be wicked in a delightfully impish way, but she was not evil. Not now. Not ever. Not like the Grim Reaper. Or his twisted sack of followers.

Sera glared at Finn. “You are sick.”

Finn pursed his lips at Kai, shaking his finger in disapproval. “You didn’t do as you were supposed to. You’re not playing by the rules. That barrier cannot be broken.”

“We might be family, but you don’t know me at all.” Kai’s magic grew very still, like a predator stalking his prey. “You don’t understand what it is to be a Drachenburg. We stick together. Always. We don’t abandon our family. We don’t abandon the ones we love. And if it means saving those we care about, we don’t let rules get in the way.”

Finn smiled. “My dear cousin. You don’t understand at all. You don’t realize that when it comes to this game, you don’t have a choice.”

Kai surged forward in a flash of muscle and magic. But before he reached Finn, a fog rolled through the cave, swallowing him. Alex and Logan also disappeared. It was just Sera and Finn now.

“Where did you take them?” she demanded.

“Relax,” Finn said, his gaze sliding calmly over the magic that her anger had summoned forth onto her hands. “They’re fine, just back in their cell. Kai is stewing.” He closed his eyes, then opened them, a delighted sneer touching his lips. “Kai is trying to break through the cell, punching the walls. He’s in a rage. His blood is everywhere. He’s making a real mess.” Finn sounded far too happy about that. “But enough about my cousin. We’re here to talk about you.”

“I have nothing to say to you.”

“Oh, but you won’t be talking to me.” He winked at her. “You’ll be talking to him.”

Alden came around the corner, entering the tiled chamber. He nodded to Finn, who bowed and left, adoration in his eyes. When they were alone, Alden turned to Sera. He stood oddly still, his smooth hands folded in front of him. He was wearing a long black cloak over black leather battle armor. The outfit looked very odd, almost out of place on his youthful body. But it fit the tenor of his magic perfectly.

Alden was here. Really here. He wasn’t just in her head this time. She could feel his magic in full-force, and it was deadly and dangerous. Like a thick mist, his magic saturated the air, ancient and powerful. On the surface, it was all roses and lilies, but beneath that superficial shell, it tasted like death. It pulsed with atrocities centuries old—lost but not forgotten. When you had that much death on your hands, it didn’t wash away. That’s how Sera knew he was lying when he said he didn’t kill people. There was a big difference between killing monsters and killing innocents, between killing to protect and killing for power. The Grim Reaper killed innocents and he killed for power. Those deaths clung to his magic, stains that could never be washed away or covered, no matter how much perfume he poured over his magic. His atrocious acts might not have bothered him. He might not have dwelt on them. But his magic had soaked them up. It remembered. His magic had changed. Each kill had shifted it. He’d tallied up so many over the centuries that he wasn’t even a man anymore, no matter what he looked like. He was a monster. Not a monster like the beasts who ran around, led by instinct, those who didn’t really know better. No, Alden had made himself into a monster, knowingly and with great flourish.

Just being this close to him was suffocating. Sera felt dirty, contaminated by the mist of death his magic put off. It tasted sweet—like desire and power and everything you ever wanted all wrapped up into one. He showed you your greatest wishes and that he could make them come true. But that was just on the surface. It was a lie. The truth lay within: a vile, rotten sweetness. A mirage. Sera wished more people could feel that, could see past the overload of their own desires. If only people saw Alden for what he really was, then they wouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place. They wouldn’t have had to stop this madman from waging war on the humans, from taking down the whole world with him.

There were already reports of humans being targeted, something which only fueled the anti-supernatural movement. Alden and the Convictionites—they were both fueling each other, fueling the hate that would consume the world. Each act—each act of aggression—made both sides angrier, made both sides escalate further. More pain, more death. The world was heading for an epic battle. And it wouldn’t be all battle hymns and flags swaying majestically in the wind. It was a shit storm raining down over cities of dead bodies.

Alden stepped forward, moving into the light. The nearness of his magic made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. It was like she’d stuck her finger into an electrical socket—all of her fingers and her toes and her tongue too.

Alden looked…well, fake. Like plastic. Too perfect. Like a teenager. His skin was too smooth, like every hint of age had been sucked from him. Some legends said he sucked the life force out of people like vampires sucked blood. But Sera was starting to see—to feel—that it was something different. It was a strange magic that swirled around him. He was the most powerful mage in the world. He had powers from other supernaturals—not just mages but vampires and fairies and the Otherworldly too. He had a connection to them all. But how was this possible? Where had he gotten all that power? If she could just figure it out, maybe she could stop him.

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