Home > Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)(6)

Rival Magic (Dragon Born Serafina #4)(6)
Author: Ella Summers

Finally, she managed to free Kai and pull him away from the car. Huffing, crying, quaking, she pulled him onto the sidewalk. She’d no sooner done that when the burning acid shot up her throat. She lunged to the side and threw up all over the road. The last of her strength ripped from her, she fell onto the pavement beside Kai, sucking in heaving breaths as she choked on her own tears.

“Let me help you.”

Sera looked up to find Alden standing beside her, his hand extended to her. His calm, smooth face mocked her pain, so abnormally perfect, so untouched by death.

It was a lie.

Sera could barely see straight, but she pulled herself back up to her feet inch by excruciating inch, her body creaking in protest the whole way. Her mouth was burning, her throat stinging with acid. She was a hair’s breadth away from throwing up all over the Grim Reaper’s shoes.

“Stay away,” she warned him, setting her shaking hands on her hips. She’d put herself between him and Kai.

“Interesting choice.” His eyes flickered from her to Kai. “Your lover before your sister, your other half.”

Sera looked at the burning car, her throat constricting. “It wasn’t a choice. I didn’t know it would explode.”

“Didn’t you? Or are you just fooling yourself, Sera? You will be faced with choices in the coming days. Sacrifices. Or did you think you could go up against me without giving up something?”

He reached out, and as his hand brushed against her shoulder, she jolted awake. She was still trapped inside of the car. She blinked. Kai was right beside her, out cold. Flames crackled, spitting and snapping. She struggled against her seatbelt. Something gurgled, heavy and hard. She freed herself from the belt. Splat. Splat. Splat. She slid along shattered glass sprinkled all around like a sea of sparkling beads, shining in the fiery light.

She rocked to her feet, the ground shaking. Or maybe that was just her. She ran toward Alex’s car, falling every few steps. But she kept moving, adrenaline powering her weak, wounded body. As she freed Alex and Logan from the car, Kai’s SUV exploded, shooting debris everywhere. Red-orange fiery streaks swirled in front of her eyes, mixing with her burning tears. Black smoke was everywhere. It covered the whole block in a thick haze. Sera dropped to her knees, screaming, her agony bleeding over the crackling of the flames, the stench of gasoline choking her stuttered breaths.

“You cannot save them all,” the Grim Reaper told her. “People will die. Because of you. And your choices. Sooner or later, you will have to choose.”

She bolted up and swung a punch at him, but his form dissolved. Her fist went right through him, as though he were made of smoke. The smoke swirled around her and reformed into the shape of a man.

“But if you join me, I can protect them, Sera. I’ve cheated death for centuries. I can save them.”

She looked at the burning debris that shrouded the street.

“Come with me,” he said, extending his hand to her.

She couldn’t stop staring at the burning SUV. Where Kai had died. She shook her head. No! This wasn’t real. Alden had gotten into her head again. She had to fight it. She had to fight him.

Pain boiling inside of her, she wiped the tears from her face. “No. I will never join you.”

He shook his head slowly. “You disappoint me, Sera.”

She glared defiantly at him. “You want to see everything burn, to tear down what binds the world together, what makes it work.”

“The world does not work,” he replied, his tone almost sad. “It has never worked. It is broken. And it will be broken for as long as the Magic Council continues to allow humans to attack and kill supernaturals without recourse. But there must be recourse. Their crimes must not go unpunished. There will be justice.”

“Your justice,” she spat, anger swelling in her chest. “That is no justice. It is murder. Death. And more pain. It just continues the cycle of hate. Justice is not the Grim Reaper’s scythe.”

“That is a matter of perspective, isn’t it?”

“Well, I don’t want to live in a world that bears your perspective. They don’t call you the Grim Reaper for nothing.”

“And what do your enemies call you, Sera? They call you abomination. Monster. You’ve been condemned to death for being born different, being born better. The Magic Council has done the same to me.”

“I am nothing like you,” she snarled.

“Aren’t you? People fear me just as they fear you. They label me with ridiculous names, tell horror stories to their children to make them behave. They fear us. Hate us. Kill us.”

Sera must have hit her head harder than she thought because he was starting to make sense.

No, she told herself. There’s no sense in any of this. He plays mind games. He manipulates people.

We know what he’s done, said Amara. We know about all the people he’s killed.

Sera stared the master of death straight in the eye. “The Council may have labeled you a monster, but it was you who lived up to their accusations. It was you who killed so many people.”

“Did I? How do you know these aren’t lies? Have you seen me kill anyone? All I have done is free people’s minds.”

Sera shook her groggy head, shifting uncertainty aside. She knew the truth. She could feel it in his magic—dark, ancient, nefarious.

“No,” she told him. “You are evil.”

He gave her a sly smile. “You will see.”

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