Home > Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)(16)

Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)(16)
Author: Ella Summers

“I’m going to help you,” Alden’s voice echoed hollowly on the wind.

A heavy clash cut through his words. Sera turned, ducking on instinct as something whistled over her head. She looked up from her crouch, right into the dark eyes of a giant. The giant swung his fist at her again, and she rolled between his legs. His head turned from side to side, confused. He didn’t realize she was behind him. Giants were big and strong, but they weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.

Speaking of tools, she could have really used her sword right about now. But Alden had dumped her into his post-apocalyptic nightmare without weapons of any kind. Her eyes darted to a worn steel bar on the ground. It would have to do. She swiped it off the ground and jammed it into the back of the giant’s knee. He roared, and she only barely got away in time before his enraged stomping fit crushed her. One of his flailing arms slammed into her with the force of a battering ram, knocking her across the street. Her back smacked against a crumbling building. As she stumbled forward, black spots dancing across her eyes, the giant slashed his clawed hand across her. Pain lashed her stomach. The giant lifted her up high, bringing her right in front of his nose. He sniffed her.

“I don’t taste very good,” she told him.

He opened his mouth, flashing her a yellow smile. Half of his pointed teeth were missing, but he had more than enough left to tear her apart. Unless she could get free. She looked down at the steel bar, so far below on the ground. Too far. She dug her fingernails into his hands. The giant roared but didn’t let go. Sera dug in deeper, drawing blood. She poured fire magic over his blood, pushing it through his veins. The giant’s hand released, and Sera dropped ten feet. She landed, only barely staying on her feet. She grabbed the steel bar, swinging it like a bat at the raging giant’s legs. His back hit the ground with a thump that shook the nearby buildings. Sera jumped up onto his chest and shoved the bar through his chest. The giant spasmed, then stilled.

Sera climbed down, her heart hammering wildly in her chest. With the rush of battle over, it took a lot longer than the way up had. She limped over to the closest building and leaned her back against the dusty wall. A surge of pain from her stomach reminded her that she’d been cut. She looked down and found that she’d bled through her top.

“Do you need help?”

Sera’s head shot up. A group of half a dozen people stood beside the dead giant, eyeing her cautiously.

“I can help you with that,” said the man in front. He walked toward her slowly. “I’m a healer.”

Sera let him get close. He didn’t look threatening, but you could never be sure. She prepped her magic, getting ready to electrocute him if he tried anything.

“You killed that giant alone?” he asked, squatting down in front of her.

“Yes.” She swallowed a cry of pain as he peeled up her shirt.

He nodded. “That’s pretty impressive.” He pulled out a pair of scissors and began to cut away the lower half of her shirt.

“Not really,” she said. “It still got me.”

He chuckled under his breath. “You’re a warrior?”

“Mercenary. I hunt monsters.”

“There are a lot of them here.”

“I didn’t come here for them.”

“I know.” He sighed.

“You know?”

He met her gaze, his eyes hard, like he’d seen enough suffering to fill a hundred lifetimes. “No one ever comes here, at least not by choice.”

“Where are we? What is this place?” she asked.

“We don’t know. Alden brought us here.”

He tossed the ruined fabric of her shirt away, then set his hand on her stomach. A warmth spread across her skin, knitting her wound together.

“He is trying to break our minds, to turn us,” the healer continued. “This is a war zone. You die here or you succumb to Alden’s will.” He pulled a worn, folded paper out of his pocket, showing her a picture of a young girl with tiny pigtails. “My daughter.”

“When did you last see her?” Sera asked.

He shook his head sadly. “I don’t even know anymore. Time melts together here.” He pulled his hand away from her healed stomach. “You’re all set.”

“Thank you,” she said.

He rose to his feet. “I’m Ryker.”


“Do you think you can move, Sera?”

“Of course.”

She stood, her muscles groaning in protest. He might have healed the gash in her stomach, but that wasn’t the only wound she was sporting right now. She felt like she’d been fighting for days.

“I’ve faced worse than that.” She shot the dead giant a dismissive look.

Ryker patted her on the back. “Good girl. Let’s go.”

They took off running, and Sera followed. A cruel, monstrous howl pierced the broken city.

“A werewolf?” Sera asked.

Ryker clenched his jaw. “They roam the city freely.”

“How many?”

“Dozens of them. They belong to Alden.”

A second howl echoed through the hollow buildings. It sounded like it was coming from all sides.

“They’re getting closer,” Sera said.

She could feel them, eight mage shifters, each one pulsing with the savage strength of wolves.

Ryker waved at his friends, leading them down another street. But it was too late. Four mages came around the corner, blocking their path. Four others closed in behind Sera. She felt the spark of magic that signaled the beginning of their shift, so she didn’t delay. She spun to face them, blasting them against the building, holding them there with bonds of lightning. But one of the mages was too fast. He darted to the side, shifting as he leapt. His enormous paws came down, body-slamming her to the ground. Her head bounced off the asphalt. Blotches of dizzying light swirled in front of her. Make that the second time in a few minutes that she’d danced with a concussion.

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