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Authors: Ella Summers

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Mercenary Magic

BOOK: Mercenary Magic
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MERCENARY MAGIC

Dragon Born Serafina: Book 1

 

Ella Summers

MERCENARY MAGIC

Dragon Born Serafina: Book 1

Copyright © 2015

Version: 2015.10.02

 

Cover art by
Rebecca Frank

 

To be notified when Ella Summers’s next book is released, sign up for her mailing list at:

http://www.ellasummers.com/newsletter

Story Summary

 

Long ago, the Dragon Born were hailed as the most powerful mages in the world. Today, they are condemned as abominations and have been hunted to near extinction.

Sera Dering has spent her entire life hiding her forbidden magic from the supernatural council who would kill her for the crime of being born. After years of drifting, she’s finally found a new life working as a low-grade mercenary for San Francisco’s oldest monster cleanup guild. She’s safe—as long as she pretends to be human.

But a dark and mysterious power is taking control of mages’ minds, and Sera’s guild sends her in to investigate. To save her city from a magical apocalypse, she must work together with a sexy and deadly mage who represents the very council that sentenced the Dragon Born to death. And if he finds out what she is, she’ll be next…

Mercenary Magic
is the first book in the
Dragon Born Serafina
urban fantasy series.

Chapters

 

ONE  
Panoramic Battleground

TWO  
Magical Might

THREE  
Vampires and Dragons

FOUR  
Mayhem

FIVE  
A New Client

SIX  
In the Dragon’s Lair

SEVEN  
Underpowered

EIGHT  
Replay

NINE  
Elemental Circus

TEN  
Falling

ELEVEN  
The Priming Bangles

TWELVE  
Dragon Born

THIRTEEN  
Legacy of Magic

FOURTEEN  
Magic Smoothies

FIFTEEN  
Fire

SIXTEEN  
Pier 39

SEVENTEEN  
The Mystic Palace

EIGHTEEN  
War with the Wind

NINETEEN  
Tanked Dragon

TWENTY  
Alcatraz

TWENTY-ONE  
Immune

TWENTY-TWO  
An Ancient Purpose

TWENTY-THREE  
Fear

TWENTY-FOUR  
The Burning Tower

TWENTY-FIVE  
Magic Ignited

TWENTY-SIX  
The Bearer of Magic News

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Panoramic Battleground

 

 

BATTERY SPENCER WAS widely considered the best spot to snap shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. Every day, visitors to the ruins of the former military fort braved bone-chilling wind and fog for a spectacular panoramic view of one of San Francisco’s wonders. Today, they were braving the twirling cyclones summoned forth by a psychotic mage with melodramatic tendencies.

Well, perhaps ‘braving’ wasn’t the right word. The crowd stood at the edge of the fort, their cameras pressed against the chain-link fence that separated the ruins from the neighboring plot owned by Magical Research Laboratories. The foolish voyeurs clicked away with insatiable glee, their interest in the bridge temporarily discarded in favor of more exciting entertainment.

Exciting for them. Not for Sera, who didn’t exactly consider being slapped against concrete walls fun times. Everyone thought Mayhem, San Francisco’s oldest monster cleanup guild, attracted nothing but sadists and adrenaline junkies. In reality, it attracted mercenaries who preferred to eat every day, have working electricity, and keep a roof over their head: all those little delights that came with a steady paycheck. Fortunately—or unfortunately, depending on who you asked—there was no shortage of magical miscreants in the city.

This particular miscreant shot a blast of wind at Sera. She rolled to the side, avoiding it—barely. Her teeth chattered as the arctic gust whipped past her shoulder and jiggled the metal fence. It was never really warm up here at the battery, but this was outright ridiculous. The mage was drawing on the wind, channeling it into his own attacks. Which meant he’d be able to keep going for awhile. Awesome.

“We need to get past those cyclones,” Sera told Naomi.

Sera’s sometimes-partner looked out across the parking lot of twirling mini-tornados that separated them from the mad mage, her short platinum hair buzzing in the wind. “Yeah. Good idea.” There was no humor in her eyes.

Not that Sera could blame her. They’d only been trying to get to the mage for the last quarter of an hour. Now, fifteen minutes might not sound like very long, but it’s a freaking eternity when you’re locked in battle with a mage who thinks it would be a fine idea to add your blood to the copious layers of graffiti painted onto the ugly green walls behind their captive audience. He’d tried to hurl her and Naomi over the fence more than once—and when that failed,
through
the fence.

The click-happy tourists should have taken that as their hint to run. After all, if that fence fell, they’d be the ones crushed beneath it. But had they run like sensible human beings concerned for their own well-being? No, they’d instead started taking videos. Sera’s gravel-pasted denim bottom was probably all over Youtube by now. They even had a special channel on there for all things supernatural. Yay, fame.

“Try swinging around behind him?” Sera said to Naomi.

“I did try. He’s not letting me out of his sight. Apparently, he can toss tornados at both of us at once. I have a feeling he’s done this before.”

The mage took that moment to hurl a fireball their way. Sera and Naomi split in opposite directions, and the ball hit the fence with a rattle. While Sera was mulling over the fact that the mage could wield
both
wind and fire magic, the spectators had no such sense. A few of them tried to squeeze their hands through the fence to pick up the ball. The fire was out, but the ball was still smoking. They were completely out of their minds.

“Don’t touch it!” Sera hissed at them.

They ignored her, as expected. An old man slid his walking stick through an opening in the fence and prodded the smoking ball toward his feet. Sera didn’t even know why she bothered.

Mages, fairies, vampires, and all sorts of other magical beasties—the existence of the supernatural was common knowledge. But rather than staying away from magic, people flocked to it. They visited vampire bars. They watched mage duels. And they collected all things remotely magical, even worthless chunks of debris like that spent fireball. They believed that if they could just collect enough magical objects, they themselves would become magical.

Well, it didn’t work that way, no matter how much they wanted it to be true. It was a myth spread by the hopeful masses and encouraged along by the Magic Council, the organization that ruled over the entire magical community. They figured that as long as people held out some hope of gaining supernatural powers, they wouldn’t go on murderous rampages against them. So far, their plan had worked out pretty well. The Magic Council was smart. They were also complete monsters.

Sera shook the jitters out of her sweaty hands. No one from the Magic Council was here. They were all busy sitting in their marble-floored offices, listening to pretentious mood music while sipping their fancy cappuccinos. And as long as Sera didn’t do anything spectacular in front of all those cameras, it would stay that way. As long as they didn’t have a clue she existed, she’d be safe.

The mage edged closer to the door he’d been eyeing since Sera and Naomi had arrived on the scene. Whatever was in there, he wanted in. It was their job to make sure he didn’t get what he wanted—and to keep the innocent bystanders safe. Sera wasn’t sure which of the two tasks was more impossible.

“Get down from there!” she shouted over her shoulder.

A man sat balanced atop the fence, one leg sprawled over each side. He was in his late-twenties, wealthy enough to afford designer jeans and not fuss about ripping them on the fence. He probably had a whole closet of designer clothes. He was handsome—and knew it. As relaxed as a cat lying down for a nap, he lifted his phone over his head and snapped a shot. Then he dipped his chin toward Naomi and gave her a wink. Down below, some of his friends cheered and let out a chorus of catcalls.

“Idiots,” Naomi muttered, but the hint of a smile settled on her lips. She just couldn’t help herself. It must have been her fairy blood. Fairies loved basking in people’s admiration. And people loved admiring them.

Sera returned her attention to the mage. The field of cyclones had settled down somewhat, maybe enough for her to make a run for him. He closed his eyes and rolled back his shoulders, lowering into his knees as he raised his hands in the air.

Uh-oh.

Not only could the mad mage create tornados and toss fire balls, he was a summoner too. The cyclones drew closer to him, as if they were being sucked in. They spun faster and faster, even as they merged into a single spinning wall. It encased him, shielding him as he stood motionless in a summoning pose.

Sera exchanged worried glances with Naomi. She didn’t know what the mage was summoning, but chances were it wasn’t good. There were many flavors of magic. This mage’s flavor was highly destructive elemental magic. It was super unlikely that he summoned cute kittens and bunnies.

“How about you fly in from above?” Sera suggested.

Naomi shook her head. “His cyclone wall is over ten feet tall. I can’t fly that high. I’m only half-fairy.”

“I’ll give you a boost.”

Naomi gave her a look that said she’d rather eat gravel. “The last time you gave me a boost, my butt landed in the Pacific Ocean.”

That
again. That particular mage had turned out to be a short-range teleporter. Like Sera could have predicted that.

“He looks too busy summoning the creature of our destruction to teleport away,” Sera said. “And he’s not about to abandon that door, not after all the effort he’s gone through to get to it. Come on. I’ll give you a boost over the wind wall, then you just flutter down beside him and blast him in the face with some Fairy Dust. Easy-peasy. It will be fun.”

“Sera, you and I have strikingly different ideas of what constitutes fun.” Naomi sighed. “But I don’t suppose we have much of a choice anyway.”

Naomi backed up as far as she could, which put her back flush against the fence. Fingers poked through the gaps in the chain-link pattern as everyone tried to squeeze in a lucky rub. Naomi didn’t flirt with them this time. She burst into a sprint, picking up speed with every stride. She sprang up, kicking off the launch pad Sera had formed with her hands. Sera pushed up to give her that extra boost—then held her breath as Naomi shot toward the wind wall. If she hit it, she’d bounce right off and get hurled clear across the parking lot. And that would be a whole lot worse than landing in the ocean.

Naomi slipped over the lip of the wind wall, narrowly missing it as she rolled upright. She fluttered down gently into the eye of the storm and landed right beside the mage. As she set down, she threw out her hands, blasting him with a shot of Fairy Dust. Sera could just make out the cloud of twinkling gold and silver particles through the windy barrier. The mage swayed to the side, but he did not go down. The storm weakened for a second before blaring up again, stronger than ever.

“Uh, Sera,” Naomi called from behind the wind curtain.

Damn. The mage was too strong. As in, really, really strong. Sera had never seen anyone resist a blast of Fairy Dust, especially not a blast to the face. The mage spared Naomi an irked look, then returned to summoning whatever beast he was about to unleash on the world. The wall of wind was growing. It was up to twelve feet now. A band of flames licked the upper rim. Sera could just make out the fiery form of a dragon forming within the barrier. It was only half the height of the wind wall but growing fast. Sera had to do something. And fast. If she waited until the dragon finished forming, a lot of people were going to get hurt.

She backed up to the fence. Their audience didn’t try to rub her. They were, however, shooting videos of the slowly coalescing dragon. Sera made a run for the barrier. She’d have to coordinate this just right, or the whole world would witness the magic she’d spent her whole life trying to hide. And then it would only be a matter of time before the Magic Council figured out what she was and sent assassins to kill the ‘abomination’.

A fiery tail swept out from the barrier, swinging toward Sera. She hopped aside and drew her sword, swinging the blade down to sever the phantom tail. The barrier shook, and the mage stumbled back. But the effect lasted only a moment. The dragon was made of magic, not flesh. The air sizzled and cracked, stinking of sulfur. A newly regrown tail whipped toward Sera’s head. She rolled to avoid a fiery beheading, then slashed out to sever the nasty appendage once again.

BOOK: Mercenary Magic
9.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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