Mercenary Magic Page 56

“Serafina Dering?”

“I am.”

“My name is James Holloway,” he said, handing her a large black envelope.

Sera turned it over in her hands. Her heart nearly stopped when she saw the crimson wax seal of the Magic Council on the back.

“It has come to the Council’s attention that you are an unregistered mage. According to Article 3, Section 15 of the Supernatural Decree of 1993, all combative mages with a power level of Tier Five—also known as ‘Standard’—or above are required to register with the Magic Council. You have recently demonstrated combative magic at or above that level. We have created a preliminary profile for you in our system until which time your abilities can be properly tested.”

“Tested?”

“At the next Magic Games, which are scheduled to take place next month. You have been added to the register.” He indicated the envelope. “All the information is in there, including your testing schedule and the rules of the Games. If you have any questions about your obligations, please call the number listed on the contact page. I wish you a pleasant evening and best of luck in the Games.”

With that said, he dipped his chin to her and turned to walk away. Sera closed the door, her hands numb. Her whole body was numb—numb and hot. Her pulse pounded against her skin, burning it with fear. In a daze, she staggered back to the living room. The moment he saw her, Kai jumped up and hurried over.

“What happened? You look like someone died.”

“No, no one’s dead.” Not yet anyway. With the Magic Council on to her, though, it was only a matter of time.

“Your magic is…unsettled. It’s crashing too fast. You need to eat now.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“That’s ok.” He set his arm across her back, leading her to the sofa. “You can just watch me eat then.”

She tried to laugh, but it came out as more of a grunt.

“What’s wrong?” Riley asked her as she collapsed onto the sofa beside him.

Kai sat down on her other side, and she handed her brother the envelope. His eyes panned across the black paper, growing wide when he saw the bumpy crimson seal.

“The Magic Council?” he asked in a soft whisper.

“Their messenger informed me that I’ve been entered into the next Magic Games.”

“The Magic Games are dangerous.”

“Not any more dangerous than the things I’ve faced before. If I meet something nasty, I’ll just bash it with my sword as always,” she told him with a forced smile. Not that she believed a word of it. But there was no point in worrying Riley.

Kai held out his hand. “Let me see that.”

“Sure. Why not?” she said with a laugh and handed it over. He probably knew everything inside it anyway. Maybe he’d even stamped the letter himself. He might as well have stamped her death sentence. She’d been such a fool.

Paper cracked and split as Kai tore open the envelope. He pulled out a slim folder with an embossed logo: the four symbols of the Mage Triad, the Vampire Covenant, the League of Fairies, and the Circle of the Otherworldly arranged in a ring. Then he began to flip through the papers inside.

“How did they find out?” Riley asked her.

“I wonder.”

“I can feel your burning glare trained on me,” Kai said, his eyes still scanning through the papers. “But this wasn’t my doing. I promised I wouldn’t tell them about your magic, and I didn’t. I haven’t even met with the Council since we started working together. Too busy fighting crazy mages and all that. And then I was recovering from fighting crazy mages. The Council sent me a message about Finn’s sentence… Finn.” He looked up at her. “Finn must have said something about you while being questioned.”

“Questioned? I hope that’s not a euphemism for tortured.”

“Finn wasn’t brought in for stealing cookies, Sera. He tried to spearhead a revolution.”

“Even so, torture is wrong.”

“It’s how it’s sometimes done. You would know that if you’d embraced your magic and integrated into our community rather than hiding from it.”

“Oh, so this is my fault now?”

“No, it’s not your fault. It’s just how it is,” he said. “Don’t be so squeamish.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You step on people!”

“One person. And he was a werewolf about to kill you.”

“Who do I look like—Little Bo Peep? I have a sword and I know how to use it, dragon breath.”

“Dragon breath?”

“You heard me.”

“Hearing and believing are two entirely different things, sweetheart. I thought you knew better than to antagonize someone who steps on people.”

“Ha! So you admit it!”

He licked his lips.

“What’s in the letter?” Riley said quickly.

Kai gave Sera a look that could have burned the needles off a giant talking cactus, then turned to Riley. “It’s just the standard package of forms. It says the Magic Games will be used to test her abilities and gauge her power level for her entry into the registry. Most mages are motivated to show off their magic because the better they rank in the Games, the more opportunities open up to them. Though I have a feeling Sera is going to be obstinate.”

“I’ll bust the monsters with my sword,” she said. “No magic required.”

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