Home > Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)(15)

Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)(15)
Author: Ella Summers

“Sera, I’ve been waiting so long to speak to you again in person.” He moved forward. Power slid over him like a cloak of blood.

She was torn between wanting to back up—to put as much distance between her and his vile magic as possible—and standing her ground, not giving him an inch. Stubbornness won out. Even though his closeness made her skin crawl, she didn’t back up. She stood perfectly still, trying not to breathe in too deeply. It wasn’t helping as much as she would have liked.

“I thought you were in New York,” she said.

“I am many places,” he replied cryptically.

“Have you actually mastered magic that allows you to be in multiple places at the same time, or are you just being philosophical?”

He smiled. It was an evil smile, a smile of nefarious intentions wrapped up inside a package of soft innocence.

“What do you want, Alden? Really want? What do you want with me?”

“Why, Sera. I’ve told you already. I want to help you.”

Images flashed through her head. Horrible things. In the blink of an eye, she saw everyone she had ever loved die a horrible and painful death, suffering to their last breath. The flood of visions snapped, and she stumbled back, her body twitching.

“This is what the Magic Council has in store for you,” he told her.

She pasted her hands to her sides to stop them from shaking. “It’s an illusion.”

“Not completely. It is a possibility, what will very likely happen to you if you side with the Magic Council.”

“I’m not with them. I’m against you.”

“Oh? And how about this one?”

A second barrage of images tore through her. More death, more suffering. But this time she didn’t know their faces. She only felt that they were Dragon Born.

“Those are real memories,” Alden told her. “All the Dragon Born mages the Magic Council has hunted down and killed over the centuries.”

The nightmare images lingered on, pulsing inside of her head. “Get out!” she screamed, ejecting him from her mind.

He smiled. “Your mind is strong.”

“I don’t need your approval,” she spat.

“Well you have it anyway,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve encountered a mind like yours. It’s no wonder the Magic Games couldn’t break you. But that which makes you strong is also holding you back, Sera. Your magic is trapped. It needs to be unleashed. I know you know this, that you’ve been working on it with Kai. But so far nothing. Am I right?”

She glared at him.

“I can help. Your mind needs to break so it can be rebuilt. I know a thing or two about that.”

Sera didn’t doubt it. “I will not be brainwashed by you.”

Alden laughed. “Brainwashed is such a harsh term. Such a cold, unfeeling term. I free minds. The Magic Council traps them.”

“Your kind of freedom sure looks like a prison to me.” She looked around the weird cave of red tiles. She heard the distant hum of a waterfall. The scent of flowers wafted through the chamber. “What is this place? An illusion?”

“Somewhat. But not quite. This is my Sanctuary, a patch of nature changed by magic, shifted into something else. A place hidden from the outside world. They just pass right by us. Here, we can live in peace.”

“While you plan your next revolution?”

“The world is long overdue for one, don’t you think? Don’t you want to be able to live in the light, to not live in fear every day that your friends would turn on you if they found out what you are?”

“Kai didn’t, Naomi didn’t.”

“They love you,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand, as though it didn’t count.

It counted a hell of a lot more than he thought. “You underestimate love,” she said. “It’s stronger than magic.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, but yes, it is powerful. Stronger than fear. Stronger than hate. My followers understand that.”

“Do they really?” Sera wouldn’t count on it. Especially when it came to Finn.

“Most of them do. Finn is…well, troubled,” he said, as though he’d lifted the image of Finn from her mind. Hell, he probably had. “Finn grew up as an underpowered mage in a powerful family. They treated him differently. He’s still holding onto that resentment. But piece by piece, he will heal. They all heal eventually.”

“Let me just shatter that little fantasy you have right here and now. No, Finn isn’t healing. He isn’t getting better. He’s getting worse. The more power you pump into him, the more he allows his hate to overrun him. Why do you keep giving him more?”

“I want him to be happy. I want them all to be happy. You too, Sera. There is no reason for us to fight.” He reached toward her. “I can help.”

She backed away before she realized it. Damn. She’d given ground to the Grim Reaper. She’d sworn that she wouldn’t, and she had.

He smiled. “You will see things for what they truly are soon enough. I’m going to help you.”

A fog swallowed the cave, and everything faded out, including Alden. When it cleared, Sera wasn’t in the tiled room anymore. She was standing in a city. She didn’t recognize the place. Maybe it had once been a great city, but now it was nothing but ruins. The buildings were decaying in front of her eyes, the powdered debris evaporating into the sky.

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